Over a year ago I really thought that I had conquered my depression. I had been feeling low for a while after leaving my teaching career, writing a book which didn’t find a publisher and feeling like a general failure.
I made a big effort to try to cure myself. I did all the recommended things. I embarked on a radical diet (the Dukan) and I got down to my ideal vanity weight. I exercised every day: I did yoga and HIT circuits. I meditated and prayed. I did feel better. I dyed my hair blonde and felt glamorous again. I threw out old clothes and bought new ones.
I did feel better. I really did. I thought I was cured. Then I started to do voluntary work. I wanted to edge myself gently back into the workplace. Then I landed a job in a bookstore: the big chain. This is where I started to unravel again. All the old patterns returned. People were extremely unpleasant to me. There was a bullying culture yet again, not from the management this time, but from the other staff. People talked about me behind my back. One of them said, “You are a nightmare.” Why do people behave like this towards other human beings whatever they think of them. I had done nothing bad to these people. I was trying to work hard and be friendly. As usual I found it difficult to deal with. My healthy diet disappeared. I started to drink wine in the evening to anaesthetise myself. I left and used the money I had earned to start the CELTA course which I have blogged about elsewhere. I got bullied again, this time by one of the trainers. I fell completely apart.
The depression came back almost as strongly as before, but not quite. So I hadn’t cured myself. Why? My depression must have deeper roots than I thought. It cannot be cured through glib healthy lifestlye tips. But I was fine until I tried to start work again. So work is the issue. It’s not even the work but the people at work, the downright nastiness in people that I no longer have the skills to deal with. Yet I have to work. I have to make some sort of contribution.
So I still haven’t figured it out. A year later I am still trying. I am using the healthy lifetstyle techniques again but they are only partially working. I have a rescue dog who has helped me a lot. I go on long walks and spend a lot of time in nature. I do yoga and I meditate and pray. I try to eat healthily but I keep relapsing. I try to give up drinking and I keep relapsing. I overthink everything. My mind plays back incidents over and over again.
I still haven’t figured out how to make an economic contribution to the world. I need something like my own business though I can’t think what to do. I could try to find like minded people to work with but I am not sure they exist. I need to commit to my writing again and see if I can make it as an author. I need to keep hope burning. I need to figure out how to manage my depression and see if I can get help for it. I need to do all this on a shoe string. I need to keep working on myself and hope things get better. I need to keep toxic people out of my life. I am better every day little by little. I will keep trying and if I find things that work I will post them on my blog and maybe that will help others.
“I must go on. I can’t go on. I must go on.’ Misquoting Samuel Beckett
So the day after New Year I rashly decided to join in with Veganuary and Dry January. I would go vegan for a month and also abstain from alcohol. This should have been relatively easy for me. I am already vegetarian and I had given up drinking last year only to start again during the Christmas festivities.
I loved all the food I had made at Christmas and the wine, champagne and port I had drunk. By New Year I felt bloated and unhealthy so it all seemed like a good idea.
The vegan part was incredibly easy. I went to the supermarket and bought lots of fruit and vegetables but also some luxury vegan foods like fake meats. My bill was quite high. I really enjoyed making all the dishes I had. I was having exotic fruit smoothies, nutty salads and home made vegan burgers and pasta dishes. I felt quite good. I didn’t lose any of my extra Christmas weight though.
In the second week I cut out the heavy carbs and just ate tons of fruit and veggies. My gut went into overdrive and I was going to the loo about six times a day. I did not feel good. So much for health. All that fibre must have been a shock to my system.
By the third week I was bored of virtue. I had a Chinese takeaway though it was still vegan and a couple of portions of chips. I started drinking wine again. I was still counting all my calories religiously and entering them into My Fitness Pal and according to the figures I should have been losing weight. I didn’t though.
In the fourth week I ate a healthy vegan diet with all the food groups and I did eat out once and had an aubergine curry. Still no weight loss.
I love the idea of veganism. I love the way it makes me feel I am not hurting animals and it makes me feel more spiritual and Buddhist. For dieting purposes something about it doesn’t seem to suit me. My body loves packing on the carbs as fat. I am really annoyed that I was so weak that I started drinking wine again. The stress of selling my house is probably something to do with it. I am aware that I lean on alcohol in times of stress and that this is not a good thing. I enjoy it at the time but the next day it makes me feel groggy and dehydrated.
In February I am concentrating on trying to lose weight. I think olive oil and bread might be the culprits. I have given up coffee. I have gone back to my flexitarian ways and shall be eating the occasional egg and some fish. Mabe I’ll give veganism another go when I am at my target weight. I am trying to give up alcohol again. It was quite sickening to hear about everybody else’s veganuary where they had lost lots of weight and been full of energy. I wish this could have happened to me.
In September I signed up for the dryathlon challenge which is to give up alcohol for a month to raise money for cancer research. I managed it and I have decided to give up for good. I am now that strange phenomenon: a teetotaller.
I have been a regular drinker for as long as I can remember, having a drink most days though never quite dipping into alcoholism. I suppose I come from a Viking culture, first in the north-east of England and then in Scotland. Everyone drank. I started with cider and black in the local pubs underage, the blackcurrant masking the taste of the alcohol which I didn’t even like back then. Then in Scotland I moved on to beer. Sometimes the local heavy or guinness and sometimes more trendy bottled beers like Furstenberg. Special occasions would bring out the whisky. I often drank until unconsciousness, getting myself into sticky situations as a result. I lost whole days with awful hangovers which immobilised me completely. I didn’t give my drinking a second thought. Didn’t everyone do it? It never occurred to me to give up. It was part of who I was: a go out a lot good time girl.
When work started in earnest I became more sophisticated so I thought. I moved to Manchester and gave up beer for wine. I would kid myself it was classy. I drank wine with my dinner and afterwards in the evenings, most evenings. Hey I was virtually French. I am far from a wine snob but I enjoyed the taste and started to get more discerning. The rich reds were my favourite from Spain and the new world. In reality I was self medicating, using the wine to relieve the stress from my almost impossible job. It numbed me, reduced the full horror of actually existing and trying to make my way in the world. I needed it. I rarely drank spirits and I didn’t drink during the day. So I didn’t think I had a problem with it. I wasn’t an alcoholic.
Later I moved south and the wine drinking continued though I stopped going out so much. It was just glasses of wine in the evening. In times of stress it would get worse. I would drink whole bottles to myself on occasion. It was a way of blotting things out. I would give up for months at a time and then go back to it.
This time I decided it would be different. I have given up for a whole month and I plan to continue. Something has changed in me. I don’t see the need for it any more. I want to overcome the addiction, to really beat it. I need to explore the reasons I drink in the first place. I need to get to the root of things.
I have read all the websites and blogs on the subject. Everyone promised me I would lose weight. As yet I haven’t. I was told I would have bags of energy but I don’t. I still wake up feeling groggy in the mornings. My dream of leaping out of bed like I am in a yoghurt advert has yet to transpire. Though I really wish it would happen. I have eaten healthily and slept like a log. I have done lots of walking and yoga and meditation. I am dosed up to the max with vitamins, iron water, B2 powder, B12 spray, St John’s wort. I have been kind to myself. I didn’t want to put myself under any pressure. Giving up alcohol was the goal and other things would have to wait. I have noticed my mind is clearer. I can finally think straight. I am making better decisions. I am losing ridiculous obsessions and self-sabotaging behaviours. I still don’t really know why I used to drink so much but I am finding out about myself. I read somewhere it takes a a year for the mind to really heal and re-porogram itself. I am hoping the good feelings will continue.
At the moment I have a feeling of well being and the dog tiredness is starting to fade. I hope I can continue the good work and rediscover myself.