NO REGRETS: THEY TELL ME I’M DOING FINE

One of my infrequent progress reports

It’s Saturday evening. We’re in the Bohemian (very swish, by Wolverhampton standards). We’re basking in the glory of a Wolves victory, albeit it’s only Barnsley, and albeit that we only grabbed it right it at the death. Conversation has somehow turned to my site. Don’t ask me how. I rarely if ever bring it up, I don’t like talking about it at any length. After a while, a good friend of mine says:

What you’ve got to know about Dan is…he doesn’t take praise well”

He’s absolutely right as well. I don’t. It doesn’t matter how many people tell me that my writing is good or whatever platitude they send my way, I can’t take it seriously. It’s not me being ungrateful or anything; quite the opposite. I can’t quite believe that people have actually donated money towards this venture (if I haven’t already thanked you individually, I really am grateful and I will get round to sending you something personal very soon), I don’t quite get that so many people actually want to read it. Unfortunately for all the various improvements I’ve made over the last four and a bit years, my self-esteem hasn’t really followed. It’s still something I badly need to work on and I know that. I don’t have the answer as to how that’s going to happen, but it does need to happen. I can’t go through the rest of my life feeling like I’m useless at everything, can I.

The point is that sadly, despite my best efforts, this hasn’t been a great couple of months since I last updated this section. It might be helpful at this point just to correct a few common misconceptions about what I mean when I say that:

  1. Being depressed or having a bad time doesn’t mean that I walk around 24/7 like Matt Doherty when he’s been asked to chase a ball 30 yards in front of him (sorry Matt. But it’s been a while since I dug you out. And you deserve it after the weekend. Console yourself with your new four year contract). I don’t have a permanent sulk on, I’m not bursting into tears all the time. Even if I were minded to do that, I’d hide it away. Many’s the time when I’ve been having an internal shocker but I’ve bluffed it out publicly. So you can’t really tell from just looking at me how I’m feeling.

  2. There isn’t necessarily any reason why I’m feeling like that. There doesn’t have to be a trigger. Sometimes there is; obviously the more bad things happen, the more likely it is that I’ll get upset, and in turn it’ll trigger my condition. But in general that isn’t how it works. There isn’t any reason – at least not that I can identify – why I can go from operating at 70-80% one day and then it’s 20-30% the next. It’s not an illness that discriminates based on circumstance. Look at the number of top-end athletes who have suffered from depression. They have, on the face of it, everything you could want; riches, doing something they invariably love, stardom, being at the absolute top of their respective game…and yet if it’s not right, it’s not right.

  3. Sometimes there isn’t anything you, I or anyone can do about it. Sure, you can be supportive and I really do appreciate that. But just because you make me laugh, or give me a hug, or remind me of a great time we’ve shared, that isn’t going to make it all go away. Believe me, if I could just snap my fingers and make it end, I would. I don’t wallow in this for effect. It’s fucking horrible. And sometimes we just have to wait for it to pass.

  4. I’m depressed, not suicidal. Not lately anyway. I don’t want to die or disappear. I just want to get better.

  5. Which leads me to this final point; I don’t think there is an immediate end to this, I’m afraid. It’s not something that’s necessarily totally curable. I’ve got a load better since 2013 and I continue down that path. But I don’t currently see it being something that I’ll ever be totally free from. It’s a condition to manage rather than eradicate. This is tough, you know. I don’t want to forever be that guy who’s depressed and a bit flaky. There’s no fun in that. For now though, I just have to accept it.

The upshot of all this – and I’d say it’s probably been about 50:50 in terms of good/bad days since say, July – is that of late I haven’t really felt like writing very much. I’ve tried, but I’m well aware it’s not been my best work and nor have I managed to put out sufficient volumes of it. I’ve definitely put too much pressure on myself to try to match the reach and impact of my piece on Financial Fair Play when realistically, that just isn’t viable when you’re writing reaction pieces to one specific match, for instance. I’ve sat there thinking that I can’t write at all and this has all been a folly of a project, which I know deep down isn’t true, even allowing for the low opinion I have of my own work a lot of the time. I’m trying to put that behind me and get back to it now, as best I can anyway.

The daft thing really is that if my mind allowed me to take feedback on board properly…I should be on top of the world now. As I say, every time I begrudgingly have to talk about what I do, there’s a load of praise. Everyone tells me how far I’ve come in the last few years, from rock bottom (as detailed in my last piece in this section) to now. I’ve got an amazing network of friends and if I were that terrible, then they wouldn’t hang around, would they. I know all this. I’m by instinct quite a logical person. But there’s a part of my mind that just can’t process all of that. When that manifests itself, it doesn’t matter what has been said or what evidence is there that everything is ok, it all turns negative.

One thing I’m conscious that I need to stop doing is to get away from dwelling on past mistakes. First up, there’s nothing I can do to change them. Secondly, they were all pretty much a long time ago, so much so that is may as well be ancient history. Thirdly, anyone who matters recognises that I’ve moved on from there and I’ve done my best to get back to being a decent person (at least, I like to think I am). So there’s no point in beating myself up over bad choices I made that were years and years ago.  I really am going to try to move away from that.

I’m also going to try to have a bit more faith in my own output. It’s not easy – I have a pretty terrible combination of long-standing ultra-low self-esteem to go along with a history where I went through a stage of someone constantly criticising my every walking move – but when people say it’s good, I have to believe them. I sure as shit wouldn’t have any problem taking on board feedback that said it was all a load of rubbish…so if I’m getting kind words, I have to try to take them in the faith in which they’re given. People aren’t just saying nice things to make me feel good. I don’t think so anyway.

One positive thing I have managed to maintain is to get myself out of the house pretty much every day and keep up an exercise regime which has meant I’ve lost a fair amount of weight and no longer resemble the Bluetones in the video for Marblehead Johnson. Now I live on my own and not really especially near any of my friends it would be easy for me to get a bit isolated; I need to keep getting out and about to avoid that.

I know that in the grand scheme of things, I’m doing pretty well. Everything is heading more or less in the right direction and the difference from where I was in the early part of the decade is night and day. It’s just that setbacks hurt me and I’m at a stage now where I’ve got so far and don’t seem to be able to climb that next little bit. Maybe I never will be able to do that. It won’t be for the want of trying though.

I’ll leave it to Liam to close it out. I think he says it more succinctly than I can. Thanks for reading, as always. I’ll get back to wittering on about football later in the week.

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PROGRESS REPORT: IT’S ALRIGHT. SORT OF.

As Cleopatra wisely said, life ain’t easy

I do like Facebook’s “On This Day” feature. It reminds me of key events, such as the many, many epic 0-0 draws I’ve sat through at Molineux in the last two years (it’s hard to pick a favourite. Maybe MK Dons when I took a picture of us having nine men in our own half when they had the ball on halfway, with five minutes left). It even reminds me that I can be semi-amusing at times (either that, or I’m easily amused at my own half-jokes on Facebook). However, I don’t need it today. I know exactly where I was four years ago today. Literally in the gutter. Three quarters of a litre of vodka and half a dozen anti-depressants down. Not with any aim to do myself in as such, that was just what was what at hand, and I took it. Then I went out, presumably to get more booze (details are a bit sketchy) but made it about a third of the way before collapsing and lying down on the side of the road. Getting put in an ambulance would be no big deal, I’d already had that treat four or five times in the previous two years. Drunk, and getting myself in a tizz, basically. I’d been sent to hospital independently of that another four times in the last four years. A danger to myself and others.

This level of liability.

This wasn’t that, though. I wasn’t out to hurt anyone else, I wasn’t flailing around wildly looking for a scrap. I didn’t want to die, exactly, but I’d kind of given up. Everything revolved around where the next drink was coming from, I took advantage of people’s good nature and betrayed them. And I hated myself for it. Properly hated myself. You know how I hate Matt Doherty, which to an extent is for comedy effect (I’m sure he’s not that bad a person, just a comically awful defender)? Well, multiply that by a million. Somehow I managed to avoid an ambulance (this time), or being run over, or being arrested, or sectioned, and dragged myself home. A day survived. A couple of weeks later everything came to a head when I presented myself at 9am on a Saturday morning, hammered, refusing to take off my shades when I was supposed to be going to see my Dad to watch the Lions game. An examination of my room when everyone wondered what the fuck was going on revealed dozens of empty voddy bottles (and I’d cleared a fucking load out a handful of weeks before that). It had to change. That was the line. Necessary. But I’d known on this day, the 8th of June, that I’d gone too far. That everything was spiralling out of control.

Apologies to Mr Glen (if that is your real name), but this is horrible shit. Don’t do it, kids.

The thing is that although I’ve had my issues with alcohol, that’s a side effect really of my condition. I just used it as a crutch when I was horribly struggling for years and years. Years and years where I wouldn’t let on about how I was feeling, that there was a problem in the first place, what it was that was making me drink to excess. By 2013 it was time to open up, get myself properly sorted, admit there was an issue (or indeed, multiple issues) and get help. So I did. I went to the doctor – who was actually helpful, unlike my previous GP – got some proper medication, cut the vodka (clean from that ever since, can’t see that ever changing), re-assessed everything, decided to properly clean my act up, no faking it like I had in the past. And to be fair, despite a lot of external factors which I won’t go into, I like to think I’ve made a pretty decent fist of the last four years. I’ve repaired friendships and bonds which should, by rights, have been broken for good because I behaved like an absolute dick. I’ve got myself into a position where I can mostly control my condition (more on that in a minute), or at least the effects of it. I’ve put myself back in a position where I can be the real me again, rather than a drunken shell of me. Sounds alright, doesn’t it.

The problem is – and why I’m telling you this – is that it still isn’t plain sailing. The problem is that depression is a stubborn bugger. It doesn’t just go away. The medication helps. My own mindset really helps. The massive, incredible support I get helps to an enormous degree. Doesn’t mean I can avoid bad days altogether. I don’t mind admitting that for parts of the last fortnight or so, it’s been a real struggle to get myself together. Now, to my credit, this hasn’t meant me sitting around in my pyjamas feeling sorry for myself. I’m quite regimented these days. Up before 8am, exercise every day, eating properly, easy on the drink, no extras, bed at a reasonable time. But it does mean that I spend fair amounts of time contemplating where it is I’m actually going, what the point of it all is, ruminating on mistakes I’ve made, where my failings are…it’s a bit of a minefield. It’s quite a complex network of problems that I have. I suffer from depression, sure. That doesn’t just mean that I sit around like a bit of an emo kid and listen to The Smiths (to be fair, I do both of those things quite a lot. And I do sulky very well. In that respect, I can be 13 forever).

No, a lot of my problems are rooted in self-esteem and self-confidence. Essentially, I have none of either. It’s not so much image because I’m well aware that I can’t be that cool; no-one who listens to Deacon Blue as much as I do, gets upset at Love Actually as much as I do or who retains as much pointless information about football as I do can really be that cool. No-one who still clings to the dream that Charlotte Hatherley or Martine McCutcheon might come knocking one day can be that cool (and they have to be two of the lamest crushes ever in any case). And I’m down with that.

You can see why I like her. I wonder if she’ll like my current Alice band look.

It’s that I constantly feel useless, or a burden, or that I have no purpose, or that I compare myself deeply unfavourably with others…and I know full well that it has no basis in logic or reason, which makes it worse. I’m a big logic fan. I base all my normal football, politics and general purpose arguments in logic. So I know what the response will be from my incredible friends when I say I’m feeling bad about myself. They’ll tell me that I’m fine. That I’ve got nothing to worry about. That I’m really intelligent (I dispute this, it’s all relative for a start and how do you measure intelligence beyond crude measures such as IQ scores. I’ll accept I have a degree of articulacy). That I’m a really good writer (I also dispute this). I’m not a bad person and I have plenty going for me (maybe). That I shouldn’t worry myself to death about all this (probably). That’s all perfectly logical. Doesn’t mean that it applies because I do think all that bad stuff about myself. I really do hate myself sometimes. Despite the progress I’ve made, which even I can see (and which people remind me, has been a decent job). Despite my logical side telling me these people are right. I can’t help that. Honestly, I can’t. It’s why those who know me personally will know I can be difficult sometimes, for no apparent reason. I am sorry, really. I don’t mean to be that way. I just have bad days at times. Or even just bad spells in overall ok days. It’s not you, it’s me. And for once, that’s actually true.

That reminds me, that’s another crush of mine. Three lucky ladies, to be sure to be sure.

This isn’t meant to be a negative piece at all, that’s just an insight into what a cock I used to be and why I can be a bit of a pain in the arse now (even though I do try, really hard, not to be). So where are we now? Well, I’m mostly ok. There are tough times, there’s no point denying it. One of the keys I find is being open about it. I don’t find it especially easy to talk about, but the alternative is bottling it up forever and I can’t see that going especially well. So while I don’t flood my site with this stuff, letting it out every now and then, doing a bit of a mini open review is a good thing. And let’s be honest here – we’re probably talking about 40-50 authentically bad days a year now. Everything else is mostly alright, sometimes it’s even good. It used to be 300+ bad days. So that’s progress. I do feel it’s under control now, I can accept that it’s simply not an illness that you get rid of. It’s not like breaking your leg and the bone heals; what I have doesn’t go away. Never will. It’s just all about reducing the impact it has on your life. I definitely feel that it doesn’t define me, although I will always speak out about mental health conditions whenever a conversation goes down that direction; I am, at least, qualified to speak. I’m still on medication which I suppose I could try coming off, but I’m not quite ready to take that risk. Maybe in 2018. We’ll see.

The big news really is my decision over the last month or so to have a proper go at my writing. Everything else I do is going to take a back seat and I’m really going to try to see where I can get with it. Might be absolutely nowhere. Might end up being arguably a waste of a year (which is the timeframe I’ve set to try to make some kind of a success of it all, how we define that…we’ll see). I know it won’t be easy. I know it’s a pretty big step. I know I might get nowhere. In fact, in some ways it terrifies me because I have absolutely no faith in my work at all. Which again, I know is silly. I’ve gone with this because the reaction to what I’ve written in the last 11 months and the discussions I’ve had have been such that really, I owe it to myself to have a proper go. If it doesn’t work out, then that’s because of myriad factors; it shouldn’t really be down to talent as objectively, I’m fairly reasonable. I think. Sort of. Sometimes. Shut up Dan, you’re talking yourself down again. It’s not a good look.

Yeah, you tell er…me, Troy.

Sorry this has been a bit of a ramble. Self-indulgent in some ways I suppose. It’s just I think I needed to commit the words to digital paper to tell myself how far I’ve come, even if it doesn’t seem that way. More importantly than that though, I needed to thank each and every one of you that’s helped me along the way. A lot of you could and possibly should have given up on me, and you didn’t. The support I’ve received over the last four years has been truly humbling. I can’t think why people think I’m worth it but evidently they do. So I will do my best with this direction of mine to repay you. And to those of you relatively new to me and my work; thanks for getting on board. There’s a load more to come. Don’t worry, I don’t write about me very often. We’ll be back to crap footballers very soon. Promise.

Big love,

Dan.

PROGRESS: OF SORTS

I’m getting there, slowly

Of recent times I’ve been plaguing social media with updates on my ongoing mental health status. I tend to abbreviate it as talking about “mental health” is still taboo to an extent, MH just looks nicer. Makes it seem more approachable. I only thought it fair to give you all – some will be more familiar with the story than others, so feel free to skim-read as you wish – a bit more of an insight into why I am how I am.

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This isn’t a blog where I’ll be doing funny pictures and captions. So if that’s why you tune in, look away now. It’s just plain text from here.

The past

Yeah, this is the bit I’m not proud of. I was born with a lot of advantages. I had a reasonably affluent upbringing, went to a grammar school, was lucky enough to have a skillset which meant I could spend a formative year abroad, some would say I was born with a degree of intelligence (I would dispute the nature of intelligence, but that’s probably not for now). Went to university. Basically had everything handed to me on a plate. Yet I fucked it. I’ve spent so much time over the last couple of years agonising over the terrible things I’ve done. How I’ve taken friendship and threw it back in the faces of those people (and yet they came back for more). How I threw away opportunities. How I messed up relationships through sheer idiocy. How I always knew best and everyone else was wrong. How I’ve chucked away three separate careers, as well as not made the best out of university. Because I really didn’t there, a First was on a plate and I muffed it (my own fault, I make no excuses for it).

But this is the thing – while I undoubtedly can be an idiot, I can pinpoint elements of my depression back to the mid 90s, when I was at school. I always had times where I was insular and doubted myself. I believe that I’ve always had this lurking within me, it is an illness after all, but the systems were not in place 20 years ago to deal with it. That’s not a criticism of anyone or anything, that’s just the way it was. Suffice to say that self-loathing has been a feature of my mindset for a long, long time. I’ve hidden behind a mask on so many occasions. Back when I could play football to a reasonable level, I stylised myself as a bit of a hard bastard – I mean I’m not exactly a physically imposing specimen, but I stood up and made it clear that I could look after myself (a few filthy Paul Scholes-style challenges and a bit of Roy Keane-style chat will do that). I positioned myself as a bit of an intellectual in discussions, that I knew enough to bluff my way through any kind of debate and form it in the manner of someone who sounded like he knew what he was on about. I mean I actually do know stupid amounts about football, but that’s by the by. But did I believe any of it? Did I genuinely think I won any of those battles? Did I fuck. I was plagued by self-doubt. It was all bluster.

Something was very badly wrong and for a long, long time – to my own detriment – it was affecting me. I drifted through life making bad choice after bad choice, putting friendships at risk and making reckless decisions, until around 2013 after a particularly bad episode I had to take stock. Basically – you can carry on as you are and you’ll die in five years. At this point I was 32 and hitting the bottle to a stupid extent. Because booze solves everything, and in your 20s, who doesn’t like a bit of a hero who can demolish a dozen pints and a ton of shots? Everything revolved around drink. I’d habitually buy litre bottles of vodka and polish them off in a night. It was a shambles. Or I could sort myself out. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last three years.

The present

So this is where we are now. I accepted in 2013 that I had multiple problems and went to the doctors. I had alcohol issues, I had to deal with them by myself (I have). I have acute depression and major anxiety issues (this bit you need help with). Yippee. But ultimately you can’t run away from your problems, you have to deal with them. The last three years have been a constant battle to improve. It’s all small steps. I appreciate that I can be an immensely frustrating person to follow on social media, because I flit from euphoria to despondency in a heartbeat. I really am sorry for that. But it’s hard to get through sometimes about how you feel without being maudlin. There are many analogies about depression; the most fitting to my particular variant is that it’s like living behind a triple glazed pane of glass. You can see everything that’s going on, but you can’t do anything and no-one can hear you. Oh, and everyone tells you you’re shit. Because that’s the biggest thing with me. It doesn’t matter what I do, that internal voice is always there:

You’re hopeless, Lavelle”

You’ve let everyone down, you know”

You’re bluffing this. You haven’t got a fucking clue what you’re doing, have you”

Why does anyone like you? You’re rubbish pal. A joker”

Imagine you died tomorrow, what would they put on your gravestone. Nothing. Because you’ve done nothing. You’re a fucking mug and I don’t know why anyone likes you”

“I hope you die, you cunt”

So yeah, imagine that going through your head all the time. It’s not nice. Some of it is probably justified but still. I am ridiculously self-critical. And it’s true, I haven’t achieved anything.

I try extremely hard to make people proud these days and I feel immensely frustrated when I can’t. I suppose I have expectations somewhere in my subconscious that are way too high and I can’t get rid of them. I constantly fret that my friends will ditch me when they find out what a fraud I am, that everything I have right now is holding by a thread. When you’re a big fat nobody with a big fat unstable employment status, it’s like walking a tightrope every day.

The future

We’ve established how I am, how do we move forwards? Well, the positive thing is that I have done so much good in the last three years. I’ve rebuilt friendships and relationships that should by all means have been broken due to my fuckwittery. I’ve kicked the addiction to booze, I can have a drink socially but I’m no longer knocking back industrial quantities. I’m on medication which needs reviewing but it seems to suit me.

That’s all fine but it only really puts you back to a default state of “normal”. That’s why I started my blog really, because I thought it would propel me beyond the state of “normal”, that it would showcase something I can actually do and give me a bit of an outlet. Now this brings its own problems, I’ve written 25+ blogs but there are another 25 that I’ve thrown away because my mind says they’re “crap”. I absolutely love people telling me what I write is good because at least then I’ve brought something positive to the world, but I really don’t do this for validation, I am not some kind of social media whore who needs the world to tell me that I’m loved – God, I’d feel awkward with that kind of attention if anything. I write because it’s a good process for me and I think the Wolves community deserves better than anything the local media can serve up. I suppose for now it gives me a bit of purpose, there’s a tiny, tiny, tiny section of people who like reading my stuff. And that’ll do. I like to think I’m a decent writer, that what I put out is worth reading, that maybe one day I could make something of this, as pie in the sky as that might be.

Going forward, I know I need to grow some self-belief. It’s not an attractive attitude to be so downbeat all the time and there’s a line between self-deprecating and just being a morbid dickhead. I do have elements to my character and ability that are ok, it’s how we employ them from here. I said to a good friend of mine last week that I obviously can write, because not that many people independently of themselves can just be humouring themselves to say they like it (I’m now through 5,000 unique visitors to my blog, and the comments on Facebook and the forums just blow my mind). Like the unbelievably good friend that she is, she reassured me that I’ve always been good enough, I just need to believe it a bit more.

For now though I’ll just say thanks for listening and for being there. Because really, it means the world. I’m trying my best.

HOW DEPRESSION AFFECTS ME

Two blogs written in short succession at the start of the month, to decent reception. The blog opened in the first place at least in part because I’d started to enjoy writing again. Then nothing for the following week. This isn’t a case of me being a lazy bark (though I can quite rightfully be accused of that at times), but because last week I had another attack of what me might politely call ‘my troubles’. Feeling sufficiently over the worst of it now to be able to start writing again, I’ll try to talk you through some of what I go through, what I do to fix it (as best I can) and hopefully it’ll at least explain some things or give you a small insight into it all.

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This isn’t going to be an especially fun piece. Here is a picture of a cat to compensate.

 

Principally, the major issue I face with my condition these days is one of self-esteem and self-confidence. I do get low moods, I have had suicidal thoughts (thankfully a long time ago, and nowhere near that mark any time recently, long may that continue), I have had periods of self-destructive behaviour which were at least partly caused by having depression, but they’re not – or are no longer – the major symptoms. Essentially, I go through periods where I don’t feel I offer any value to the world or the people around me, I don’t have the confidence to use any of my abilities or try new things, I’m constantly in fear of what people think about me, I compare myself unfavourably to others and any mistakes I make get blown wildly out of proportion in my own mind. Now, I realise this all sounds completely irrational. I have an amazing support network of friends and family (for which I will always be eternally grateful) but when times are bad, it doesn’t seem to matter how much they reassure me that I’m not as bad as I think I am, that message won’t go in. My mind has decided that I’m a useless waste of space, that is that, and the more I think about it the worse it gets. I also don’t want to burden anyone else with my problems (which seem pretty piffling in the grand scheme of things) or come across as being really whiny or needy, so I tend to shut myself away a bit when it’s kicking off, manifested here in no writing for a week. It really can be a self-defeating cycle.

To combat this, I’m on medication which does at least stop the bad times from being catastrophic times. I’ve accepted I’ll probably have to be on some form of medication for the rest of my life – that’s just how it is. This is a medical condition after all, and while for many years I avoided doctors; firstly out of a fear of even talking about or knowing how to approach this stuff, and secondly as I didn’t want to be seen as ‘mental’ or whatever – I accept now that this is just the way it has to be. Thankfully we seem to live in more enlightened times where there isn’t the same stigma around mental health issues as there has been in the past. I do as much reading on the subject as I can when I’m not in the midst of an ‘attack’ so I can be as prepared as possible, perhaps find some different techniques to try for next time. I take inspiration from others who have come through their own mental health struggles and see what parts of their story I can apply to my own. I do try to tell myself fairly often that I don’t always get everything wrong and there are aspects of my personality and being that aren’t all that bad, there is a small sub section of people out there who like me (inexplicably) and there must be a reason behind that, it’s not out of pity. Well, not entirely pity anyway. Frequently though, it’s a case of just waiting it out and eventually I’ll feel a bit better. I won’t always feel in a trough of self-despair, it’s just shitty when I do.

the-verve-the-drugs-dont-work1
Turns out they do, sometimes.

 

Moving beyond this – and I do think I’m over the worst of this particular episode now – I’m not sure what the future is for me in this regard. I don’t think I’ll ever be someone who ‘used to be depressed’. Clearly I’d rather never feel like this, but I don’t think that’s realistic; maybe this is as good as it ever gets for me, after all it’s frequently been far worse in the past. I believe a key to any recovery from here is being open about the issues I face, bottling them up really will get me nowhere fast so as maudlin as it might look if I’m banging on about depression on here or on social media, it’s simply part of the process for me. I’m a lot more positive about my life than I was as little as three years ago, many people tell me they can see a marked improvement in me from those days, so I will look to maintain that upward trend, as difficult as it might be sometimes. Clearly I’ll try to stay active and involve myself socially as best I can, as walling myself away isn’t the answer to anything as tempting as it might seem at times. Beyond that…I don’t know. I’m not an expert. I’m still learning about this stuff all the time, as difficult a process as it might be, I can only try to come out stronger the other side and try to work out what I should do or should avoid to try to minimise the risk of it happening where possible.

I’ll forever be grateful to the ongoing support I have, to the point where I can’t really even put it into words. I wouldn’t think anyone would be bothered to be invested in me to any kind of serious degree but it’s apparent that they are, so I’ll always be doing my best to keep this stuff under control. Thanks once again to those concerned and to everyone taking the time to read this. Hopefully normal service can resume now.