Sunday, 28 April 2013

Fighting the Black Dog of Depression

Just 18 months ago, in the Autumn of 2011, I was waking up from my latest bout of depression. A summer of misunderstandings, emotional rollercoasters & a slowly dawning realisation that something was wrong had made me reach out to a guildie. Not my family or my husband but a guildie. Yeah, that didn't turn out so well either but we managed to get back to being friends later.

In my darkest depths that Autumn, I also mentioned depression on Twitter & that was possibly the best thing I did that whole year! That single random tweet resulted in a bunch of supportive DM's including one from a most surprising source, a relative stranger to me although we inhabited much the same world. That support gave me the lift I needed to climb out of the pit and start changing my life. When I was hit with breast cancer last summer, that support from my blog & twitter friends was still there & helped me through another troubled time. Through it all, that stranger (no longer unknown of course) has been holding my hand extra tight & I'm almost certain I'd be a quivering wreck now if it weren't for him.

But why do I bring all this old history up now? Well, the subject of depression has been raised on my Twitter feed a bit lately and I wanted to share a little bit of light from this side of that long dark tunnel. I know of at least 8-10 fellow bloggers/tweeters who have suffered & if some tweets are honest, I reckon there's a lot more of you out there!

Outside looking in
I've been fighting some form of depression since my early teens - initially triggered by a family relocation from a very quiet, rural backwater to a streetwise, suburban nightmare. I was the original country mouse dropped into a life I wasn't ready to deal with. My accent was totally different to the new local kids & being physically mature at 11 whilst my few friends were still 'little girls' began my own fight with body image too. Feelings of being an outsider, not fitting in, they all hate me were common cries in my teenage angst & fair play to my parents, they did their best to reassure me although none of us recognised the beginnings of depression.

I spent a fair bit of my 20's & early 30's on various anti-depressant medications - not all the time, just extended periods waiting for them to work, waiting for the sun to come out again, for life to not suck for once. It wasn't all bad though - I met a lovely stable man, we got married, travelled the world when we could, had friends, bought a house, settled down and lastly, found WoW but lost each other.

I found WoW about 5 months after quitting my last job. I'd woken up one morning & basically had a meltdown. I just couldn't face going back into that place again so I quit. WoW was good for me initially - I lucked out and found a very social & active guild. Skype chats all day and late into the night weren't uncommon & helped me to start feeling normal again. The problem with social guilds is that eventually, there will be drama and I managed to get right in the middle of it! That's the problem with sitting on the fence & trying to help both sides - you make a perfect target too.

That's the point at which I started gold making - it needed focus & concentration, I could hide on a new, unknown alt & to be honest, I found it fascinating! It also started my drift back down into the pit though. This time I was so pre-occupied with blogging & goldmaking, I didn't spot the signs. Playing so much time solo, I let friendships drift, in game & out until one day I woke up wondering where everyone was. Some of you will read this & realise that's where I disappeared to that summer - I was drowning again & didn't notice. I'm sorry. But that's when I reached out on Twitter & found so much support. Just people taking time to send a DM means the world when you feel totally alone even with people around you. A cyber hug, a twitter good morning - it's contact, it says you are alive even if you feel dead inside.

I still have bad days but they are fewer & much less severe than they were. I found this poem way back when & hunted for it for hours this morning. It says so much that so many of us will recognise (and not just depression sufferers - everyone has insecurities after all) and I think as dark as it is, it still has inspiration for us too. I'm one of the luckier ones though - my depression doesn't endanger me, I just close down, become a self hating, feeling worthless hermit.

When I started this blog, the 'She Rides Dragons' was inspired by the Dragon Riders of Pern series & by WoW but I've comes to realise that if I ride my dragon & soar into the sky - whether just in my mind or dreams or metaphorically in real life, then that Black Dog of depression is going to have a hard time catching me next time.

I've beaten it before, I've beaten cancer (for now anyways) & I'm flying solo for the first time in my adult life - it's all up to me now. I may have a strong hand to hold on to as well but that is now my desire to hold onto, no longer a necessity. I'm beginning to learn about myself too - from the inside, not just the distorted mirror view I've had for so long. Serious stuff like cancer helps you focus on the important things in life & I no longer care if other people think my ass looks fat or my hair doesn't suit me etc!

I guess I'm trying to say hold on, there is life after depression or even with depression, you just have to take that next breath, take that next baby step & keep on doing that. Next time you look up, you'll be amazed how far those baby steps have brought you & if it's still too scary out there, look down again & focus on those baby steps. I still carry my paintbrush but I don't need it quite so much these days.

I wish you Peace my friends

Paint brush (Anon)

I keep my paint brush with me
wherever I may go,
in case I need to cover up,
so the real me doesn’t show.

I’m so afraid to show you me,
afraid of what you’ll do,
that you may laugh or say mean things,
I’m afraid I might lose you.

I’d like to remove all my paint coats
to show you the real, true me,
But I want you to try and understand,
I need you to accept what you see.

So if you’ll be patient and close your eyes,
I’ll strip off all my coats real slow.
Please understand how much it hurts
to let the real me show.

Now my coats are all stripped off,
I feel naked, bare and cold.
And if you still love me with all that you see,
you are my friend, pure as gold.

I need to save my paint brush, though,
and hold it in my hand.
I want to keep it handy
in case somebody doesn’t understand.

So please protect me, my dear friend
and thanks for loving me true.
But please let me keep my paint brush with me
Until I love me, too.


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Saturday, 27 April 2013

Real Life Catch Up

I can't believe it's been almost 3 weeks already since my last post! But to give you an idea of how things are going - it's 8am on a Saturday morning & I've already caught up on my Twitter feed from overnight (about an hour), have made a to-do list for the weekend & I'm about to start sipping my 3rd cup of coffee! Yup - my body clock has readjusted to working hours & didn't believe me when I told it to go back to sleep, it's the weekend. Grrrrr.

I can't say work has been interesting, it's just a data entry type job but having been off for 4 years, I've got to start at the bottom again. The people are nice & as it's a charity working for & with disabled people, it's actually quite an interesting place to work. Many of the desks are taller than normal to accommodate wheelchair users, the spaces between the desk areas are much wider too for the same reason & the bathrooms are huge with all sorts of special equipment. We also have quite a few volunteers working a day here & there - it gives them a little experience in an office/work environment & for some, it can lead to a proper job to give them some independence.

I do find it a bit difficult sometimes - I've never had much interaction with any kind of disability before & I'm meeting all kinds now - I'm kind of nervous of putting my foot in it by saying the wrong thing or being over helpful. I don't want to be 'that person' who raises their voice when speaking to a blind person or overly solicitous just because a guy walks a bit wonky, you know? It's also really hard not to stare sometimes - I'm not being rude to them (not intentionally at least), I'm just in awe of their ability to keep going even though just getting to the office is a monumental task and to be honest, I'm curious.

At least Spring has arrived!
I've only got a few more weeks there by the sounds of things. They are interviewing for the position I'm covering but I haven't applied as I know it is too junior for me & I won't last. Yes, I know a job is a job but you have to be realistic too - I know myself pretty well & I know that within a month or two, I'll be bored to literal tears & will probably leave anyway. I just can't handle it.

But on the upside, I'm planning a trip to USA when this position finishes so woo hooo! It's only been 4 months since I saw my friend & I'm really in need of some cuddles! That's probably the hardest thing about running solo these days - almost no physical interaction - it's surprising how much of a difference a hug can make but as much as I love my Mum, her hugs don't quite cut it! She's of a generation or an upbringing where hugs just aren't the done thing so she always feels awkward. I still hug her though - she's alone too so I'm guessing she misses hugs as much as I do.

As for WoW, well, I've not been very active at all in game - I'm just about managing to log in & relist my auctions most evenings, hence the lack of posts on my main blog, AH Addict. My guild is dying but as the only original member & currently the GM, I don't want to let it just die & fade away or let it go to someone else - crazy I know! I'm planning on finally getting my Shado-Pan reputation to exalted this weekend - just a few more dailies & farm work orders should do it.

With the just announced drop in XP required for leveling 85-90, I don't feel the urge to continue leveling my priest either so I guess this weekend will be a few scenarios on my Paladin - I still don't have the Scenaturdist achievement & it's almost Children's Week too which is the last Holiday achievement I need for the Violet Drake meta-achievement. Damn that PvP element though!

So there we go, that's where I am right now. I have no real direction so I'm just poodling along. I hope I can knuckle down & find something productive or fun (or both!) to do soon. I have no idea where this blog is going but in the meantime, it's great just to write it all out. I just hope you're nosy enough to enjoy my blatherings and bear with me whilst I get back on track!


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Sunday, 7 April 2013

Yet More Changes at Casa Nev!

Last week I mentioned that I had a job for the next 10-12 weeks & here we are on a Sunday afternoon & I'm just waking up from a much needed afternoon nap! My body clock time keeping has changed drastically over the last few years to the point that actually getting to sleep before 2am is near impossible which hasn't been a problem whilst I've not been working!

Now though, I'm awake at 7am & by 4pm, I have no idea how I'm staying awake for that last hour of work, let alone driving home! I have been able to sleep by 1am though so I'm guessing another week or two & I'll be back to a 'normal' sleep pattern.

So what's the next lot of change coming to Casa Nev, I hear you ask? Well, I started this blog originally to talk about WoW stuff that wasn't gold related. It turns out I don't have as much non-goldmaking stuff to talk about as I thought but I do have lots of other stuff going on in my life so I think I'm going to change the direction of my posts here.

I have an Etsy shop & a couple of Zazzle shops for my photography & fractals, I write pages at Squidoo on all sorts of stuff, I have WoW stuffs, I'm learning new cooking styles & of course, I have my new single life stuff. So I thought rather than start yet another blog, I'd just re-purpose this one! Luckily 'She Rides Dragons' isn't an obviously WoW name so I don't even have to worry about changing that :)

The only WoW stuff I've done in the evenings this week is to relist my auctions & do the Tailoring & Leatherworking cooldowns to get the new PvP patterns.

I did get my priest moving over Easter weekend - she's almost 86 now :P Yeah, I may have forgotten how slow leveling a priest is even with almost all ilevel 415 blue crafted gear! It's almost as if I've lost the ability to quest for hours or even do anything productive in game. Again, I'm sure I'll settle down again eventually so I'm not going to stress it for now.

I'll still be doing some WoW posts here - especially the to-do list ones as I find they help me stay focused in game but with everything else going on, sometimes I just need to get my other thoughts out there too. I'm not totally sure quite what will end up here but I hope you'll tag along out of curiosity if nothing else!


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