Choice

Have you ever noticed, that the more important a decision is, the less and less it feels like a choice? Maybe it’s just me, but it’s one of the things I really struggle with and something that absolutely needs to be changed.

The past week or two has been difficult for me. I’ve been pretty all over the place. Sometimes the way Anti-Depressants work is when you increase your dose, you actually end up feeling worse before you feel better.

It’s these kind of moments, that I find myself really struggling to make good decisions. A lot of the time it feels like I’m not making a decision at all. It’s quite difficult to explain, because at the end of the day, everyone has a choice. What isn’t easy to understand, even for myself, is why it appears that I have literally no control over some decisions at times where I really need to be making the best decisions possible. Tapentadol, the painkiller I take for my chronic back pain, is quite addictive. When I’m feeling vulnerable, down, anxious, or uncomfortable, I get this overwhelming urge of no longer caring, and seeking out drugs to self medicate. I know it’s a bad choice, I know that it won’t help me in the long run, and yet I do it anyway, because I’m so far gone that I can barely control my own mind and actions.

On a few occasions in the last week or two, I ended up finding where my medicine is kept and I took more tapentadol than I should have. I didn’t feel guilty at the time, in fact the only thing running through my head was “I shouldn’t do this, it’s a bad idea”. I still did it, without any real hesitation. It’s really hard to control myself when I get to that state of mind. It’s so unpleasant that I no longer care about the consequences of my actions, and I just take the most direct route to relieving myself of despair.

I know that these are the times where I have to make the best decisions. It’s something I really have to work on, and if I ever want to return to a normal life, I have to get it under control. It’s not easy though. How do you decide to decide, when it doesn’t feel like a decision in the first place? At those moments, I’m struggling so much that it no longer feels like I am making the decisions. I know that I have to change this, I need to believe that I can choose an alternative. I know it’ll help me in the long run, and ultimately allow me to get better.

Someone I know the other day said something along the lines of “Addiction isn’t a choice, it’s a weakness”. I couldn’t agree more with this statement. No one chooses to be addicted or have an addictive personality. It’s just something that some people are predisposed too, and in some cases, just end up that way because of life’s mysterious ways of operating. I’m pretty realistic when it comes to my addictions. I’m fully aware that sometimes I can’t control myself. I’m aware that my brain is often thinking about ways to self medicate, or get away with taking more than required. At the current time, it’s not really my choice whether my brain does that. I guess what is my choice, is whether I decide to listen to it. Of course I try not too, but if I’m feeling down, it’s all too easy to give in.

I know that I’m trying, I know that I’m going to get past this. I know that I will triumph because there isn’t any other option. That is my choice, and I will follow through with it. There’ll be times where I mess up, and times when I don’t manage to control it. That’s ok though. I’m only human, and when that does happen, I try not to judge myself or feel guilty, because it’s just not as simple as making a choice at that time.

It’s hard for a lot of people to understand what it’s like to have those kind of urges, it’s not the same urge you get for a coffee in the morning, or to sit down after standing for too long. It’s brutal, and relentless, scary and powerful. It may be a choice, but it’s the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make, and I have to make it each and every hour of every day.

I’m not asking for sympathy, but next time you’re dealing with someone who is struggling to make good choices, think about why that is. Think about what must be going on inside their head for what appears to be such a simple decision to become so unclear. It’s easy to make a bad choice, but it’s infinitely harder to understand one, especially if its not yours.

I didn’t choose to be a drug addict, and I didn’t choose to be depressed.

But I do have a choice, and I’m trying my best.

Harry.

The Right Answer

The past couple of weeks have been difficult for me. I decided more than five weeks ago to cut my anti depressant in half, and after a battle for stability for almost the entire time, it’s quite certain that something needs to change.

As of two days ago, I made the decision to go back up to my original dose of the anti depressant Citalopram. It was actually quite an easy decision for me, and not one that I feel bad about making. Sometimes the only way to know what’s best for you, is to try certain things and just see how it plays out. For me, being on 20mg of Citalopram instead of 40mg has not had the effect I thought it would. I’ve been a lot more unstable and it appears to be getting worse not better. Am I regretful that I tried? Absolutely not. I would make the same decision again five weeks ago. It’s only by trying that I’ve learnt what my body can cope with, and what I still need help with.

The good news is it normally only takes a week or two to get the full effects of going back up to 40mg, and I’m hoping that I’ll see and feel the benefits soon. It has opened my eyes and changed my perspective a little on anti depressants. It’s now finally clear to me that actually it does have some positive effects and something that I do need, at least for the time being.

Quite a few people have asked me if it made me disappointed to have arrived at this decision, but for me it’s not disappointing at all. In fact I consider it a triumph. I made a decision, the result followed, and because of it, I am now more in touch with what I need help with, and what my physical and mental body can cope with on it’s own.

Knowing what drugs you actually need, and what drugs you don’t, is really important for getting the most out of your life. I do think that it’s easy to become dependent on medication that you might not need, and as long as you are open minded and aware of what you are taking, it’s not too difficult to monitor and adjust your requirements to suit you well. It’s a learning experience, no one knows what they really need, and it’s only by trying and observing we can arrive at the correct conclusion.

Of course, as you go through life, things change, and so the conclusion of yesterday might not apply today. It’s important to recognize that we all go through change, and keeping in touch with this allows us to make better decisions going forward. I know that my decision to go back up on the Citalopram is a good one. I’m also aware that in 3 months it may no longer be required, and maybe It’ll  be time to cut it down again.

The right thing to do, the right choice, the right answer, is only right for as long as it is. Understanding that the right answer today, maybe the wrong answer tomorrow, is a valuable tool in maintaining self awareness and keeping your life in check.

It’s certainly helped me, and will continue to be a significant part of my thinking when it comes to the balance of a healthy mind.

I hope these words find you well,

Cheers,

Harry

Happiness is a Way of Life

As you may be aware, I’ve recently halved my anti depressant from 40mg to 20mg. Well it’s been about two weeks now since I started to taper down, and although I’m still really happy that I did, it’s quite clearly having a significant effect on my mood. Around 72 hours after you start tapering is the worst. You just feel tired, and depressed again, but knowing it’s a withdrawal and accepting that with a calm mind helps a lot to get through the difficult early days.

For the next week I was feeling better each day. It appeared that I was starting to stabilize on 20mg, and I was thrilled. The last 24 hours however, have been much more challenging again. I can feel my stomach sinking, my mind wondering into the now foreign lands of negativity.  Am I worried, a little, but to be perfectly honest not really. I understand it’s just another part of the withdrawal. I was on 40mg, which is the highest dose you can be on. It’s no surprise that my withdrawal is going to be more severe than say someone who was taking just 10mg.

So what can I do about it? Well the first thing is don’t worry. Easy to say, hard to do. What do we mean when we say don’t worry? A phrase so often used, yet never explained. What is the process of “not” worrying. In my opinion, the art of not worrying, is actually far more about actively doing or thinking about other things as opposed to “stopping” your worrying thoughts. It’s almost impossible to stop worrying, because the action of telling yourself not to worry, is in itself a worry. Therefor, I have found it’s far more useful to simply accept however you are feeling, and then move your mind onto something else. Something preferably enjoyable. It can be something you’re going to do, or something you did in the past. Honestly it doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is making that decision to think about something else. I guess a better way to define how to stop worrying is “Worry about something else, worry about something you enjoy or enjoyed”. Suddenly it’s not a worry, it’s a feeling of satisfaction, happiness or contentment.

I have found the act of moving your mind to a different place, far more valuable than trying to train my mind to “not worry”. You simply just don’t need to think about some things. Absolutely you may need to be aware of certain things, but at no point is mentally draining yourself by worrying about them in anyway useful.

Today has been tough for me. I can’t even say why, because really there’s nothing wrong. I’m quite happy. I’ve just got back from an absolutely awesome weekend with my best friend Tom. We skated all weekend at a few different parks. I’ve realized I have a passion for recording.  I may even upload some of the edited vids for my next blog.

Things are great. They might not feel great, but feelings are not great at feeling grateful. I know however that actually I am grateful. I am feeling great, and it’s a great feeling.

This withdrawal will probably last on and off for at least another week or so. They’ll be tough moments and tough days, but there will also be great moments and awesome days. Far more of the latter, and no withdrawal is going to stop me from enjoying my life. I’ve already given up too much time to unhappiness, I don’t plan on giving up any more.

I hope you don’t either, because happiness is not simply conditional, happiness is a mentality. Happiness is a way of life.

You only have to acknowledge it, and it’s yours.

Battle Scars of Pain

As many of may know, I’ve had chronic back pain for around 18 months now. It’s been a real challenge to overcome it, and it’s tied in with many of the underlining reasons I got addicted to the pain killers Codeine and Oxycodone.

Well thankfully it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, but not because it’s less painful, but simply because I don’t really allow it to control my life. I really try not to pay attention to the pain, and for the most part, it works relatively well.

There are of course always those bad episodes where you kind of have to acknowledge the pain seems worse, in order to take the necessary steps to reduce it. Last night I had one of these episodes, and the result of it kind of shocked me to the core. The reason I’m telling you about it, is not for sympathy, but more to show just how complicated chronic pain can be. The things that you’ll do to manage it are beyond normal or even reasonable.

I went to bed around 10:30, but got up around mid night. Conceding to my back pain, I realized that I had to heat my hot water bottle up so I could place it on my back as I tried to sleep. The intense heat from the hot water bottle does absolute wonders for the pain, and as far back as I can now remember, you won’t find me in my house without one behind my back.

I wasn’t wearing a shirt, because naturally…who does when trying to sleep, and there happens to be a mirror in the kitchen. While I was waiting for the hot water to boil, I decided as many of us do at certain points in our life, that I wanted to know more about how my back looked.

So I positioned myself to see it in the mirror, and what I saw made the hairs on my neck stand on edge. At first I wasn’t even sure what it was, and I actually almost freaked out, thinking what the fuck has happened to my back. It didn’t take long for me to work out what had caused it. Third degree burns, all the way from my lower back to right under each shoulder blade. It looked absolutely vile. I was repulsed.

Then, after a minute of looking at the implications of putting almost boiling water against my shirt every day for over 6 months;

me

I went over to the kettle, poured the boiling hot water into my bottle, and went to bed.

Even after seeing what using it as much as I do has done to my back, I would still rather have the burns and scars on my back, than face the pain when it flares up. If that’s not a good example of how chronic pain can effect your life, I really don’t know what is.

As I write this I’ve got the hot water bottle behind my back. This is the morning after seeing it for the first time. Yet hear I am, knowing that having it there is going to be making it worse, and probably increasing the chance of it becoming life long scars. Yet I write, and yet it sits. I will not move it. I can not move it.

The pain is worse than the fear of disfigurement and scarring.

And my pain is entirely neurological. It’s not even “physically real”.

I guess the funny part is, this blog doesn’t seem particularly positive, but actually, it is. I understand what I’m doing to my back and while I really wish there was a better way, I know that ultimately until my back pain disappears I will have to continue managing it in any way I can. The hot water bottle is so effective it’s not worth it for me to stop. I actually kind of feel like I can’t.

But I’m not worried. It’s not something I can really control, I can only do what I can to manage it. Maybe someday I’ll be able to stop using the hot water bottle, and hopefully it will fade away. Ultimately though, I have scars from surgery, and some people have asked if I would have them surgically removed. I wouldn’t dream of it. These scars define who I am. They are a part of my life. My history. I feel the same way about the burns on my back. It’s not that I think they look good, they look awful, but I am not prepared to be uncomfortable, unhappy or ashamed of who I am.

This is me.

And I’m proud to be me.

Minds Kingdom – A collection of Poems

Bitter Smoke

Bitterness, I sit.
Quick mind, yet not lit.
A flame unburned, like a campfire too weak to start;
And yet, I see the sparks.
The pale gaze of rising smoke, the fire is within me;
But buried deep has it become, what magic words unlock such power.
I think not, these words I say today;
Yet;
One day.
One day, I may.

Jigsaw Emotion

The missing piece,
What was now, suspended in still motion.
Void of space, a missing connection.
All strength taken, all bonds unbound.
Profound, without it no sound.
White noise, black lights.
Tis but a fight. A fight without swords, victory or honor.
But I grow stronger.
Stonger with time, stronger with my mind.
Yet, I wonder…will I be fine?
The question that fluctuates in my mind,
Only in time, or at the feet of the Divine.

Static Charge of Mind

The unpresidented seat of candidates;
Some corrupt, some bitter, some gentle, some sweet.
Yet corruption is the seed of undoing.
It strikes hard into the eyes of wisdom.
It corrodes the hands of time.

A static discharge, rewiring circuits.
Small shocks, shear pain.

But the pain of my blood is not my enemy;
Nor do I fear its intent.

For true fear of the unknown, is unknowing the fear.

The Devils Thoughts

Fierce loyalty, yet snide and deceiving.
The hand given or hand taken?
Unspoken rules of uncertainty and fear.
What lies beneath, is far unseen to the eyes of willingness.

It cannot be seen, only awoken and unsettled.

Like tissue of skin and scar;
It will never fully heal;

But with wisdom, courage and strength of will.
I can make it kneel.

A Thousand Souls of Guilt

The cries of a thousand lost souls hangs heavily as my guilt.
Guilt that cannot be tamed;
Yet neither caught or caged.
Wild like animal, unpredictable like raindrops off leaves;
And yet, the awakening occurs.
Foundations laid;
By strength, perseverance and humility;
For it’s within the ability of thought to conquer ones mind.

A task untalked by most, but so core to the capacity of life.
From within this, power comes;
And not even the harsh screams of a thousand souls of guilt can stop me from hearing the voice of reason.

Enlightened I am;

Each passing day by minds treason.

That Feeling

A cold pot of boiling dreams.
Chaotic reduction of wondrous sunset;
Shadowed over by the foul manifestation of doubt.
Troubled, is my mind by this;
Knowing all too well the wheel of emotions it begins to spin.

But wheels are unmoved without the friction of negativity.
Stopped once spun, by the opposite spectrum of gratitude, safe feeling and optimism.

With the breaks in fingers reach;
Adjacent, my hand hand hold steady.
One must learn how to squeeze;
Seize the moment of emotion, and with it;
Will come an overwhelming sense of victory.
The battle won;
But within the uneven path to victory, lies tales of more heroic bravery.

All within sight;
Yet just out, of arms reach.
A curious proposition;
In time, will be breached.

Weathered Emotion

Thunderous clouds of thought;
Unpredictable, dangerous.
They strike feeling into the hearts of god.
Moody weather, the twin of emotion.
Clouds of grey gather, but without order or logic.
Demanded only by devestation, and goverened by wind.

Yet what is lost without clear vision;
The sun of enjoyment sits behind these cloud still;
One must only remember, to feel the heat of wonderful once more.
Clothes no longer soaked in guilt.

The sun shines freely, with or without it’s brother cloud.

Believing night of seeing;
Is what must be found.

Turn Me On

Lights engaging, fulfill me with spirit.
Switch flicks, sparks of desire.
One must aspire.
Aspiration, less desperation;
Like like a steam train, arrives proudly at minds station.

Sometimes full, but often barren.
Desert-less perils of the fascination.
The art of feeling, times great time to perfect.
What was, may not be what is;
What is, may feel worse than what was;
But all feeling has true cause.
Misty like clouds of smoke;
Pain and commitment, both taken in stride.

You must seek what you are looking for;
And seek it with pride.

A mind must be wide.

The Hurting – 09/06/15

Is it within ones self to afflict the hurting?
Every leaf, falls differently;
Battered by the winds of emotion.
Mind trapped in nauseating delusions;
Troubled too far by the journey of uncertainty.

Time too many is the journey of life ignored;
Made scarce by self loathing.
Fixation on ill minded thoughts;
But such beauty can be found.
Vibrancy of red, color flows from her cheeks;
But the thorns bury deep in my skin.
Each ones undoing reminiscent of angelic delight.

Yet sadness strikes deeply upon my heart;
Overwhelmed, my face bleeds transparent blood.
The hurting lives on;
Long after flowers lie dormant;
Wilted, defeated, forgotten.

Despair leaks from the cracks of stability.
Eyes open, yet not seeing.
Blinded by agony, defeated by mirrored hatred;
Doubt rules minds Kingdom.

And yet I know;

Anarchy is coming.

Unnamed – 11/06/15

Unnamed, unknown, ashamed, alone.
Hours of darkness, yet a never ending day.
Symptoms of unknowing, too strong to fade away.
Poetic literature, the start of dismays decay.

For within self analysis and insight;
We learn the fight.
Whether day or night, it’s within your might.
It is your right, so go, take flight.

Show spite to ill thinking, and courage to positivety.

The ultimate simplicity;
Too subtle for fame.
And that my friend;
Is where this poem gets its name.

Lost Worry 11/06/15

Torturous and deadly, it whips lashes at my heart.
So far apart, I drift endlessly over oceans of worry.
Unarmed, unmanned, the waves batter my soul.
Each one chips away a little more.
My mind erupts;
Magmatic thoughts;
Burn away at feelings of joy and hope.
But the shell remains;
Perfectly intact, it goes unseen by those who choose not to see it.

Salted uncertainty corrodes the cogs of my mind.
A damaged clock;
Too far gone to repair.

But the seeds of courage grow from within me.
Something far stronger than the heat of negativity.
Nurture and care;
The seeds must grow strong.

Without kindness to oneself, it cannot, last long.

An Open Mind – 13/06/15

An open mind, breeds all types of kind.
The senseless worry, drags far behind.
Too often is the mind vacant of self joy and love;
A soul left empty only fills with doubt.

Untrue to the nature of happiness;
It dominates, unraveling smart thinking;
And crushing sweet dreams of fragile opportunity.

A mind unkempt is a mind far weakened.
It lies only in the ability of awakening, to rectify such devastation.

Manifestation occurs, in all forms;
Good or bad, happy or sad.
Choice, lies still;
Delicately balanced by the influx of thought.

When wisdom is learnt, wisdom is taught.

Teacher or student, both roads lead a far.
Until one day, it’s only a scar.

Roses – 14/06/15

Roses, Roses, everywhere.
One passed with wisdom, one maiden’s fair.
One beautied with youth, one treasured with age.
Both won my heart, on the same little page.

Roses, Roses, wilted, forgotten.
Yet as old ones pass, new ones blossom.

Withdrawal From Negativity

So as of about a week ago, I made the decision to cut my anti depressant down from 40mg to 20mg per day. As to be expected with any anti depressant, I knew I was inevitably going to have some kind of acute withdrawal from making this step down.

Well it’s about day two of what I would call the worst days, and while It’s nothing like Valium withdrawal, it’s still certainly noticeable and taking it’s toll on my physical and mental health. The past two days have been quite considerably tougher, feeling very similar to the days when I was anxious and unhappy all the time. I guess it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve experienced coming off medication, it always takes you by surprise just how quickly it can make you feel unstable.

The good news is, I’m still happy, and even though I don’t feel particularly happy or healthy right now, I know that overall I am still very content. I guess It helps to keep in my mind at all times that this is not genuine unhappiness or ill-health, it’s just a reaction to changing stuff in my body. I know that it’s making me feel a bit off right now, but I know very well that it won’t last. That’s probably the most important thing to keep in mind, that and knowing when to do certain things to help. For example yesterday I woke up and within minutes I was physically sweating so much it was like I’d just run a marathon on a hot summers day. So, I put my shoes on, and sat outside. I decided that it would be interesting to really concentrate on the cars and the people inside them. Something that is as simple and mundane as that can actually become very interesting, if you simply approach it with genuine enthusiasm and interest. That’s what I did, and within minutes, not only was I feeling quite happy again, but I’d also cooled down considerably thanks to the fresh air.

It’s really quite astounding how quickly you can change your feelings if you truly believe that you have control over it. For me, that was a great achievement. Going from a state of anxiety, to feeling calm and content in a number of minutes, on a day where I’m suffering from withdrawal, is absolutely incredible for me. I did not expect that I could after 5 weeks, change how I feel so quickly. It’s become so much simpler too. I no longer have to close my eyes, or “zone out” to concentrate with logical thinking. Now, all I have to do is start that process, and before I even get into actually doing it, it starts to resolve my anxiety. It’s like the process has become automated and efficient, and I only have to “prompt” it to start it’s effects.

I know this withdrawal won’t last forever, and I believe that once it’s over I’ll just feel even better, because I really don’t believe I need anti depressants anymore. An open mind and willingness to change, is far more powerful than a pill in my opinion. I’ve been on and off anti depressants for almost two years. I’ve been on life’s anti depressant (open mindedness and awareness) for just 6 weeks, and the difference it’s made to my health, happiness and relationships with others far outweighs all of the anti depressants in the entire world put together. It’s not even a fair comparison.

Really, it’s just a testament to how powerful the human brain is, and you only need to truly believe you have the power to change and you will. I know I have. I know I will continue to change, continue to grow. Anti depressants changed chemicals in my body. Open mindedness, awareness and the willingness to change my entire perspective on life, changed me from the core of my heart to the center of my brain.

This is just withdrawal from negativity.

Genuinely Happy, Genuinely Harry

So over the past week, I’ve been tapering down my anti depressant (auto-citalopram). I’ve gone from 40mg to 20mg, and today is the first time I’m beginning to feel the withdrawal effects that inevitably come with reducing medication. It’s not particularly pleasant. My hands are hot and sweaty, I’m a bit anxious, and extremely irritable. The most mundane and slightest things make my mind boil with frustration. For the first time in about a week, I’d say I’m struggling a little bit to keep my positive mentality. The good thing is, it’s not really a concern because I know all too well this is just temporary, and eventually I’ll get back to how I felt a few days ago.

I’m actually very pleased that I’ve made the decision to start coming off the anti depressant. I don’t feel they help that much for me personally, yet I can absolutely tell that they have some negative side effects on my physical health. It’s certainly challenging today, but I’m not worried or anxious about failing, because I know I wont. I’ve had a lovely morning with one of the volunteers for Mike’s charity (lessons for life). Jan, is a wonderful lady, with a kind heart and much wisdom to share. We went for an absolutely beautiful walk this morning, and we have already become good friends. She’s offered to let me stay with her in Liverpool, and show me around. I’ve never been to Liverpool and I’m really looking forward to it.

It’s absolutely incredible how quickly you can make genuine friends when you take interest in others. Instead of talking about myself, I asked questions and took a real interest in her answers. Not only did Jan have much to share, but it was a fantastic and fulfilling conversation. It’s really amazing how much every person has to share, and you only need to ask the questions to find it.

I’ve been cooking pretty much every evening for over a week now, and I’m loving it. Making all these things that I used to make, and even improving on them by adding more ingredients is very rewarding. Mike always has a good thing to say about my cooking, and I’m starting to notice how much difference it makes when you go that little extra mile to enhance your cooking.

Overall today has been a more challenging day, but I’m still very positive and happy. I’m loving life, and am still in complete awe of how good I now feel 90% of the time. It’s truly remarkable how just changing you’re awareness, and becoming interested and thoughtful towards others impacts your own personal well being. Not only do I feel great, but the conversations are 5000x more rewarding. I’m making friends with all different types of people. It really does seem like everyone has something interesting to say, and you only have to open your mind and listen in order to learn from the wisdom of others.

Yesterday morning, I had a really fantastic experience. I woke up, and for some unknown reason my right lung was hurting considerably. It was actually making it rather difficult to breathe fully, and as a result of this, I started to get a bit anxious. What was truly amazing was that once we decided to go for a walk, my anxiety and worry faded away within minutes. I went from an 9 out of 10 anxiety to about a 1 in literally 2 minutes. This is a remarkable achievement for me, because normally in the past it’s taken hours or days to get my anxiety back to a manageable level. This time, I didn’t have to concentrate for long, or hard. I simply reminded myself everything would be alright, and I was fine. Normally I have to go into a lot more deep thinking and perseverance to lower my anxiety levels, yet this time just by beginning the process it was enough to almost instantly resolve my state of mind.

It’s such a victory, such an important victory for me. I cannot begin to explain how relieving it is to know that I can control my anxiety that quickly now. It’s such a great feeling, and I can’t help but feel quite proud of our team effort (mike and me) in tackling my anxiety and getting it under control. I rarely feel anxious anymore, and now most mornings when I wake up I don’t feel sick. I don’t have a churning stomach, and I can actually eat and drink straight away instead of having to wait anywhere from 1  to 2 hours.

Everything is going so well. I feel better and better everyday. Everything I do, that is kind and thoughtful towards other people, comes back to me in spades. It’s just so enlightening and rewarding, I can’t really imagine any other way to live life after just 1 month of changing my perspective and mentality.

I am genuinely happy, I am genuinely content, I am genuinely interested in others, and I am genuinely me, once more.

Harry.