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Archive for August, 2011

I’ve had a nice weekend off, seeing a few friends and chairing the meeting for a new medical school mentoring scheme I’m heading up. I rounded things off with an evening service at church, but found myself not quite at ease as I listened and sang.

I’m back in counselling tomorrow afternoon and it’s been quite tricky sorting my timetable at the GP’s to get the time off – and after spending a few days with them, am not really that keen on being completely honest about why I need it. I’m also just getting completely fed up of having to always, always be thinking about how to get the afternoons off I need, where my next attachment will be (and whether I can get back from it for counselling), of knowing that on Monday evenings, I may well be capable of no more than collapsing in a heap and crying. I’m fed up of having to keep marching to this constant drum. I’m fed up of being constrained, first by depression and now by recovery.

I was sitting in front of a girl in my medical year tonight, and sometimes, I just feel so jealous – jealous that other people haven’t had to deal with juggling depression and medical school, recovery and medical school, counselling and medical school. I get envious about the things I miss out on, as for example, I can’t go to a lot of the teaching hospitals at the moment as I would’t be able to get back in time on Mondays, so am stuck in the city. Recovery, as so many of you will know, takes so much time and so much effort. Sometimes, I really do just get a fit of the ‘poor-little-me’s’ and want to say, why, why is is me that was brought down in this way, why was it my life that had a year, if not more, completely wiped out of it, why is my grades that, after four years of working so hard to stay in the top end of the year, have now slipped, thanks to last year? Why is it my life that was turned upside down, my mind and reason that went AWOL, my body, that didn’t take well to medication? The list goes on.

I know, so well, that it’s pointless looking and envying people. A lot of people, if not all, have significant struggles to work against. A lot of students take a hit from illness of one sort or another. A lot of people go off to counselling and survive to tell the tale. I’m not usually one prone to self-obsession (that would be my older sister). And yet, sometimes, I just feel so frustrated I want to cry. I feel so tired of this ‘journey’ that I want to sit at the side of the road, and not move another inch. I want to hang up my hat, turn in my chips, leave it, leave it all behind. I don’t care, for the reasoning that for all I know, this girl, or anyone in my year, probably has a shedload of stuff going on, behind closed doors. I don’t care, for the reasoning that no one had a clue that I was falling apart last year, so how can I assume things about anyone else? I don’t care, that it’s unfair, unjust, unreasonable to crack out the envy and let it seethe. I don’t care, that having the odd hissy fit at God, won’t get me anywhere. Sometimes, I just have to hiss. I just have to stamp my feet and let it out.

I think part of it is that at the moment, I’m feeling quite alone in all this. Sometimes I wish that I had a family who rallied round and helped me through things, rather than the dysfunctional, corrosive one I have. I get fed up sometimes, of managing on my own. Sometimes, like at the moment, when I’m having a few days of feeling oh-so-vulnerable, oh-so-easily wounded, all I want is someone to take it all away and help me know what to do. Last year proved that I’m not always good at making my own decisions, and as a result, I don’t feel quite as capable or invincible as I did before. Walking wounded. After the whole run in with the substance-misuse doctor the other week, it’s as though all my armour has been stripped away and suddenly, it’s only to obvious to the world that I am defenceless, fragile and not quite as bullet-proof as I’d have it believe. I’m back to square one again. I hate square one. Sometimes, depression feels like a game of snakes and ladders, but with no ladders and extra snakes. It’s hard enough to stay in one place, let alone move forward.

God – please help me stop being so grumpy and ill-thinking. Please help me see the way through this. Please help me keep my eyes fixed on you, and not on things I can’t change. And please don’t let counselling finish me off. Love, Char48.

So – let’s hope that this week isn’t quite as grumpy as the last.

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It’s been a busy week. I’ve been feeling quite run down and as my city’s in turmoil with a major arts festival, the noise at night has pretty much ruled out the chance of a good nights sleep.

My new GP practise is…….kind of hard, actually. The staff aren’t really that welcoming, and just really don’t have any love for what they do. General practise can be demoralising, particularly since the changes to the NHS mean that it really is made to focus on running as a business, not a service, and resultantly, there’s a lot of box-ticking and back-covering. I can see how it really can seem like it’s just day after day of conveyer-belt healthcare, with constant streams of patients, many of whom aren’t always very respectful and in some cases are downright rude (WHY can’t I have a sickline? Who are you to say I’m not ill!- err – that’s what doctors do, and you are not ill enough to need one!). Two of them also had some fairly harsh things to say about patients with mental health problems, which I find hard to listen to – both as a ‘patient’ but also as someone who gets fed up of the stigma and the lack of interest from many health practitioners. Antidepressants aren’t just ‘smartie placebos’ – and though I do think that they are handed out too much as an easy option, when the best treatment for mild to moderate cases is a course of psychotherapy, which has such huge waiting lists and is so underfunded, a prescription that costs about a pound a week suddenly looks enticing, and for many people, they do work. They do get people through a rough patch. They do get people sleeping again. I’m not saying they’re wonder drugs – but they’re not just a waste of space – and if doctors think they are, then they should be more active in campaigning for better alternatives. If you don’t like something, you should work to change it. People who put down, and complain, but do not act, get my goat. I need to be more accepting.

I’m trying really hard to be positive, but it’s hard, when I find myself disagreeing with the doctor I’m mostly attached to – he just doesn’t seem to care about patients and is a bit sloppy. He’s going to be assessing my consulting skills, so I need to get my head around being able to look and learn from him – but at times, I think he’s a complete eejit. At least I’m learning how I don’t want to do things – which is often valuable in itself, if slightly infuriating. I’ve got another three weeks, and in that time am hoping that it’s just first week blues, and things will pick up as the staff get to know me more, and I them, but it could be a hard slog, and after this I’m off to surgery for a month and I am so not a surgeon type, so it’s not even as though my next placement is something to really look forward to…

I talked at the LD group yesterday, on Zaccheus, after being invited for tea beforehand with the man who leads both my group, and the one I was speaking with. This man is so lovely – he’s got such a huge heart for these people, and is probably the best example of a Christian I will ever come across. Getting to know him and his wife is lovely – I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve been invited to dinner with non-students in my entire time at university. They are honestly so full of love for the lord that I think they might actually explode at some point! Anyway – the talk was a bit mixed as a lot of the group didn’t come, and the ones who were there, were more towards the lower end of ability – and I realised that they probably wouldn’t quite engage with what I’d written, which was pitched more at my group’s level, who are slightly higher functionning (living in sheltered accommodation and holding small, unskilled jobs, as opposed to needing round the clock care). This was a bit nervewracking – but I just went for it and sort of changed my style from a more standard preach, to more of a story-telling structure (with voices – oh yes). It seemed to go ok.

Sometimes I think that with these groups, and even with church as a whole to some extent, it’s not actually the ‘gospel’ bit or the preaching that’s important – it’s the community we build that really enables people to grow. You can have as many theology degrees under your belt, you can have read the Bible umpteen times, but if you’re not in a community that show you and guide you, and support you in your faith and life, what sort of Christian life do you have? With both my group, and the one I visited, the part I love the  most is the sharing of people’s weeks over coffee at the end – I really love seeing our members being supportive and caring towards each other and taking charge of a small task like putting sugar in tea or handing round the biscuits – but a lot of them don’t get much chance to help in their homes, or don’t feel confident doing so. I love listening to them pray aloud (something I struggle with still) and hearing their faith in their voices. It makes me think about all the emphasis on the ‘greatest and the least’ in scripture – these people I love, they lead small lives, by many definitions, but they are still such rich lives.

Sometimes I sort of wonder if I’m pushing myself enough by helping with yet another LD group or cause – which I’ve done on some level since I was a young teen, helping with the support base at the local primary school. It’s an area I feel comfortable with – thought sometimes I wonder if I should be throwing my mission hook elsewhere in another area that I’m less familiar with. I find it so easy to love my group, and others like it – but should I be seeking out people I find it harder to love, to see Jesus in? Should I be actively trying to think where I need to learn to see differently, on a practical level? On the other hand, I know I can’t just chase after every single good cause I hear of (though I do try…..there’s that restless spirit again) and that finding an area I love and feel comfortable in, is such a blessing in its own right. I guess, only time will tell – I’m 23, after all. I’ve got plenty of time to do stuff. There’s no rush. Sometimes I need to slow down.

And after a week of being completely unable to get that Zaccheus song out of my head, if you have been similarly afflicted, please accept my most sincere apologies…xx

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I’ve helped with a church group for adults with severe learning disabilities for about a year now, and it’s honestly been one of the things that has the biggest impact on my faith. It’s true – I’ve heard some brilliant sermons and sang some heartfelt songs, I’ve listened to famous preachers and read books by some of the leading Theologians of the last century, but spending time with people who need to take the Bible at a bit of a slower pace than I do, is the thing that has taught me the most, both by looking at the more experienced leaders build a loving community that churches speak of often, but rarely attain, and also by having to pare back my thinking when I’m given the responsibility of leading a meeting.

I imagine that there are some similarities to teaching sunday school in that there’s a focus on parables and stories, and less of an emphasis on Bible history or theory – but it’s also different, as our members are adults with adult problems, although they don’t have the same capacity to understand or manage, as others do. They have problems with people jeering, being unkind, and taking advantage. They have worries about their loved ones health, and often have a lot of medical problems themselves. They get stressed when their carers change frequently and don’t seem to know them. They struggle in their workplaces when they feel overwhelmed and sometimes undervalued. This is why the group is so wonderful – it truly values each person and actively loves them. It’s ‘church’ at its best. Although, when I hear about some of the stuff they have to put up with, it makes my blood boil and I don’t always remember to have a very Christian attitude towards some of the people who quite literally persecute them. People can be cruel.

I’ve been invited to speak at one of the other groups, that I am not directly involved with, on Thursday. I’m a bit nervous – no matter how many times someone says ‘but ANYONE can preach the gospel!’, I’m still a bit unsure – can I do it? Or more importantly, can I do it well, accurately, lovingly, confidently? I don’t know this group so pitching the right level  is a bit trickier than when I talk with my own, whom I know. As I’ve been preparing it’s made me think about how much you can learn from really taking something back to baseline. I’ve been asked to talk about Zaccheus (Luke 19) and fascinating as it was reading about the symbolism of the sycamore tree, my eyes have been opened by having to look at how I can strip the story back and make it accessible.

Zaccheus is often a bit of a figure of fun – he’s a little, seething, greedy man. Sing the song – you know you want to. You don’t have to go far these days to see or hear the ire directed at bankers and their bonuses – and this is how the people of the day would have seen Zach – beyond reproach, with no thought for anything except the money lining their pockets. And when Jesus picks Zach, out of everyone from the crowds, their response is telling – why is he being favoured, when he is so hated, so very flawed? Why am I not being given that honour, when I tithe what I should and give money freely….. The crowds put themselves above Zaccheus, they get prideful and think that even if they’re a sinner, he’s more of one. He doesn’t deserve Jesus. They’re indignant. They question Jesus’ choice. Even though Zaccheus shows up to see Jesus just as much as they do, and has gone to the effort of shinning up a tree (and I don’t imagine he was all that graceful a climber), they don’t think he’s worthy. He should be made to wait his turn, and when the grace runs dry, miss out and go home empty handed.

More importantly is Zaccheus’ response. He seeks Jesus, meets Jesus, and is driven to change. He suddenly goes all Robin Hood on Jerusalem and gives back what he’s taken and repays the interest four times over. The Holy Spirit changes the biggest obstacle Zaccheus has, that keeps him from living a holy life – and Zaccheus steps up and delivers, in front of the masses. Could you do that? Could you publicly admit the places where you go most wrong, and in the open, put it to rights? Zaccheus gets bravery from following Jesus. This must have been a total high-five moment.

Having to teach on Zaccheus reminded me that anyone who is open to Jesus, deserves Jesus. It reminded me that I need to pray more for people I don’t see eye to eye with, and that sometimes, it’s easy to start marking ourselves up against another person’s flaws and find them wanting. It reminded me that even though it doesn’t always seem that way, the Spirit is working in me to change the parts of me that aren’t, as my church would say, ‘worthy of the kingdom’. I may not be an overt usurer, but I’m certainly not perfect. Whether you’re identifying with Zaccheus, given an honour he doesn’t deserve, or the crowds, we all need Jesus.

Zaccheus is a good example for modern life, I think – when we think of ‘sinners’, the things that come to mind immediately are people committing violent crimes, extortion, prostitution, theft, the list goes on – not the wealthy worker, quietly building up their savings by taking advantage in a fashion that’s not really illegal – but does harm, nonetheless, even if constitutionally, it’s ok. Grey-area, middle-class sinning is still sinning, and realistically, it’s this sort of sin that most of us are much more susceptible to. What if we started being Robin Hoods with our finances, time, and resources? What if we started giving back into the situations we’ve maybe used for our own ends? What if we started owning up and making amends? Scary? You bet.

Are you brave enough to do a Zaccheus?

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I wrote about validity a few weeks ago and have been thinking about that topic since. Something I’ve realised is that I don’t just doubt my own validity and station under God, I also doubt, fairly regularly, God’s validity, and truthfulness in being who He says He is. Last night at church I was struck by this – I was listening to a sermon based around faithfulness and the preacher  said

‘perhaps you think that your inadequacies are too big for God to handle’.

Ahh, the power of the rhetorical question. This statement and my tendency to feel inferior, pretty much sums me up. I spent the first year of my faith believing that an all out, 100%  type of path  showered with gifts and graces wasn’t for everyone and wasn’t for me – that I was happy as an afterthought, sneaking in to the back of sermons, set apart by inconsistency and aching doubt, that I was content enough with being a guest in God’s house, with a daypass but no set of keys, that I was happy enough watching God work through everyone else, while I hung back, an eternal observer, a fearful loner. I thought everyone else had more of a right to be there than I did – I was the eternal gatecrasher, looking in, not quite welcome, but not enough hassle to send on their way.

And then this year, with its billowed hangings of depression, has seen me believing that I’m just too messed up for grace, for God. Sometimes I still think that – I think that somewhere along the line, I became too broken for repair and too wounded for healing, if God even looked my way to begin with, the afterthought that I am. There was a long period where I thought my depression was too big for God – that it was this blackness that ultimately controlled me, and that God had failed or just didn’t want to step in and get me back. This is a strange hubris, unfounded and flimsy – who am I, to think that my problems are too big for God? Who am I, to think that the God who parted the waters and sent down manna from heaven, is no match for my tangled views and cautious problems? Who am I, to put myself above the like of David, mad in his cave, or Gideon, an unlikely leader, or Jeremiah, weeping for his people? A strange hubris; someone who is capable of sending the plagues of Egypt is probably up to the challenge of my malfunctioning serotonin. It’s a lot less chaotic than a shedload of frogs and locusts. Pride has so many facets, and this is sort of a pride of brokenness – it’s one thing to feel wrecked and wretched, but another to convince yourself that you’re too wrecked for God and therefore more messed up, more sinful, more broken, than everyone around you. You only need to step back for a second to realise that this isn’t true. We’re all broken, in our own ways. We’re all sinning, in our own ways. We all need God, in our own ways.

Part of accepting that I too have a place and portion means accepting that God is going to be working in me aswell as the people I stand amongst on Sundays. It means accepting that God isn’t going to leave me alone, or leave me, at all. It means accepting that God has been faithful to me, that his promises have stood up, that through it all and after everything, there’s a place for me that will never be given away.

Balancing out a need to be a bit more forthright in terms of my place and inheritance from God against a need to get off my high horse and accept that God’s power and goodness is more than a match for my inflated sense of hopelessness, is tricky. Weighing one thing against another is childs play, simple – but so difficult, when you’re dealing with the intangibles of faith and living. There’s some verse somewhere about not straying left, or right, but sticking to the centre and keeping fixed on Jesus – the centre or the middle is probably what I need to be aiming for right now. Let’s see how the balancing act works out.

In other news, I meeting my Director of Studies this afternoon. This could be a little tricky – I haven’t seen him since I was at the lowest point in my depression and pretty impressively lacking in insight. It gave him a bit of a shock (understatement of the century). I’m quite nervous about it and am not quite sure yet how I’ll approach it. Then, I start a GP placement tomorrow, which has its own associations as it was on my last one, exactly a year ago, that I really started to unravel. So much has changed since then – but it’s giving me an eerie sense of deja vue and almost feels like the year didn’t happen, or like groundhog day  – I don’t know how I’ll manage it. I’ve also got to decide how much I tell them about needing time off for counselling – explaining things like this is often a minefield. I don’t want to be labelled with mental health stuff before I’ve had a chance to show that I’m more than this depression and more than this year. It’s tough.

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‘Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

First of all  – I’ve calmed down a bit from my last post – sorry for the ire, I’ve decided not to edit it as this blog is meant to be above all things, honest.

I had my last day on geriatrics today (exam tomorrow – eeek) and got my feedback on performance etc – and did fairly well though I am very aware of areas I really need to improve. If I pass everything (and am given a job), it’s exactly a year before I hit the wards as a junior doctor. It sounds like a long time, but there’s a lot to fit in.

I was taking lots of bloods earlier (old people with awful veins and lots of confusion are good to practise on – if you can get blood out of them, you can get it out of a stone….) and was speaking with one patient who I’ve spent quite a bit of time with. She said she thought she was getting depressed after being in hospital so long, and feels as though she’s got to the end of everything. We had quite a long chat and I switched into ‘psychiatry mode’ and asked all the questions I knew the consultant would want to hear about, and then used the screening questionnaire with her and reported back. It made me feel quite emotional (not that this is hard to achieve) – she had an episode of depression when she was close to the age I am now, and then a few more over the years, but has been fine for over a decade. It makes me wonder again  what my future holds. It also led to an interesting discussion with the consultant as he seemed to think that I’d be of the opinion that it’s normal for longterm patients to be clinically depressed – which to be fair, is perhaps what a lot of people might assume – but not me. Depression can be understandable, even reasonable, in come circumstances – but it’s not ‘normal’. No one is ‘meant’ to be depressed. Everyone deserves to have it looked into, and treated if possible and appropriate.

Sometimes, I start thinking about it, and see in my minds eye myself in a year, struggling in my first job, or in ten years, crying and crying with postnatal depression after my first child is born, in fifteen years, as they start to grow and the job-family balance gets harder to manage, in twenty years, when my (future) marriage hits the rocks or someone gets diagnosed with a horrible disease, in forty years, when people start to die, in sixty years, when I am stuck on a geriatric ward, unable to get back home, aware that the end is approaching.  I wonder how many more years I will lose to rainclouds, to sadness. I wonder if this sense of a horizon steadily gaining ground on me will ever leave me – if I will ever lose that sense of perpetually looking over my shoulder to see if the shadow of depression has followed me home. The solution to this is probably to stop thinking – but that’s difficult. Easier said, than done. I looked at this lady, and it was sort of like seeing the future – will it be me, someday, saying, yes, I’ve had depression since my early twenties, yes, I think, I know, it’s back once more?

Unfortunately, I have no silver ball or magic mirror. I don’t have the gift of prophecy, and am a little uncertain about those who claim to own it. I don’t know what the future holds. At times, I would quite appreciate God sending me a calendar with everything filled in for the next seventy years. Or a blackberry, that would also work and is easier to fit in a pocket. Either way – it’s not going to happen. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, yet alone in year, or a decade. You can schedule and plan with the best of them, but life’s uncertainty and penchance for surprises when you least expect them, will catch up eventually.

I guess what this comes down to, once again, is faith – faith that God will protect me from a relapse, or guide me through it once again, faith that if and when I slide downhill, I will have learnt enough this first time round, to manage quicker, and better. Faith that God is bigger than me, and bigger than depression, and faith that he is more good, and loving, and powerful than I will ever know. This week has had its challenges – but at least this time, when faced with adversity, I spoke up and spoke out and didn’t just run away immediately. I’ve moved forward. I am different to who I was, a year ago, and I’m learning all the time, how to find my path and stick to it. My faith is so clearly stronger than it was a year ago – it made it, tattered, and torn, through last year. It stayed with me, through all darkness and deadness and suspicion. It’s been weighed and found adequate. It’s here to stay, even if it has to fight for its place from time to time. It’s here to stay, even if it’s still just a mustard seed.

Well, if all else fails, one of my patients told me today that I’d do well down a coal mine (he actually worked in the mines near where I grew up, and is currently delerious with an infection and still thinks he’s down them….) as ‘you need pretty girls down in the dark to light the place up’. This cheered me up quite a bit although as he’s registered blind and I’m no model – and certainly not a luminous one – it’s not exactly accurate. Not quite the career I had in mind, but you can’t beat an octogenarian for putting on the charm offensive at every turn….I’m going to miss medicine of the elderly!

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It’s not been a good day. I was in clinic this morning and was already feeling cross as the junior doctor I was sitting in with didn’t seem to think it was important to tackle the fact that one of the patients was drinking 16 units a day, and had what his GP called ‘unexplained stomach trouble’. You don’t need a medical degree to join the dots, sometimes. It needed sorting out. It’s tough, asking about drinking, especially as ‘problem drinkers’ don’t exactly respond well – but at the end of the day, it’s in the job description. Sort. It. Out.

At lunchtime my current hospital had a talk scheduled from.  one of the mid-grade doctors who was speaking on ‘how health professionals can stay healthy’. Most of it centred on his battle with dependancy on alcohol, prescription opiates, and non-prescription drugs. Let me be clear that I’m so impressed that he’s now off everything, giving back to the abstinence programme he went through, getting his career on track, and is brave enough to stand up and say what he did in front of colleagues – it’s brilliant.

However, what is not brilliant is being taken aside at the end and told I didn’t look as though I was engaging with his talk, and was it because I have the mistaken view that addiction is not a disease, and certainly not one doctors get? Because, you know, it could happen to me too….

Excuse me, for getting angry when he said that although he has not used since the birth of his son, that his son is not why he abstains – his own self-love, is. Excuse me for not wanting to look in depth at his AA keyrings (which are given at certain time points of abstinence – a month/two months etc) when I’ve seen my dad come back with them enough times, and when he falls off the wagon, start over. Those keyrings represent a lot of achievement, but they also represent a family who are waiting on eggshells for someone to start again, at the beginning, and plunge everything back to uncertainty. They represent months of children being neglected as they are less important than sobriety, which is  just one more thing they love more that you.

I’m sorry, but I believe that when you chose to bring a child into this world and raise them, they should be your first priority. Call me an idealist, call me old fashioned, but if you don’t want to do that, give that child to someone who will. Parents should be staying sober for them, over themselves. They should be protecting them. My father loved his whiskey more than he loved us. My mother loved our reputation as a clean living, achieving family, more than she loved us. Yes, you get sober – but the first reason should be for your children and spouse, who’s lives you have turned upside down. Otherwise, you’re just chosing yourself again, as always. This doctor said he stayed sober for himself, not his young son. I have an issue with that.

I know that substance use, misuse and dependancy is something I struggle with, and I have worked to tackle this head on by doing placements, projects and assignments within the field of substance misuse medicine. I do not bury my head in the sand. I tackle my issues head on. Sometimes I learn a valuable lesson. Other times, like today, I get completely incinerated. I don’t need some evangelist for recovery telling me about the difficulties he’s had; I’ve seen it. I’ve come through it. I remember it, every time I see someone drink more than they should, every time I have a sip of wine, and every time I don’t, because I know that it will be too much, too painful for me. Coming off alcohol and other drugs is so difficult. I have a lot of respect for those who manage it, including my dad, and I will correct anyone who claims otherwise, who claims that it’s just a weakness of will, and that  people chose a life of dependancy. Just don’t expect me to congratulate anyone for sorting their life out and leaving their family in the lurch. My dad is sober at the moment, yet I am in recovery from depression not entirely unconnected to his prior habits and am still tethered to counselling. His drinking has left me scarred and scared. His addiction has painted me black, too. It, among with other things along the way, broke me and I still don’t know if I’ll ever achieve that elusive ‘wholeness’. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop bleeding out and hurting. The effects don’t stop when someone puts down a glass for the (yet another) final time. The damage grows and continues. It continues to infect and supporates in quiet corners, in quiet people.

So – I’m feeling pretty fragile today. Strangely enough, this time I didn’t seek it out, the pain just found me. It’s never far away. I know that recovery from depression is a tale of hills and valleys, a trail that we follow for months – but I was hoping for just a few more days in a row without crying. I was hoping for a few less reasons to feel that once again, I just can’t handle parts of this world we’re in. I’m trapped again. I hate that out of nowhere, my issues with drinking spring up and crowd me out. I was upset enough that I left the ward early. I never do that. It got the better of me. It beat me. I can’t, can never, let it beat me.

The odd thing is that the other day, I was back in counselling after a month off and we were talking about drinking, and L (counsellor) asked if I would seek a medical specialty that didn’t have a large number of patients with substance issues – and I said, and stick by it, that although I wouldn’t dedicate myself to it, I want to be part of the solution to this. I want to give something positive back. I want to help people get clean. I want to stop the cycles and the sickness that flows through families. I will not bury my head in the sand. I tackle my issues head on.

Today, though, it was a bit much and I could do with a hug but am home alone.

God, how long is this going to be too much? How long?

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