A very different day

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Today was always going to be a different day for me. Thursday is my day off work this month. Next month I am having Mondays off each week, I hope. That all depends on my psychologist and doctor. I already had a couple of appointments booked for today but after last night’s semi-drunk post I made an appointment to see my doctor as well.

First up this morning I did something I should have done months ago. Went to the Sexual Health Clinic at the hospital to get a screening done. Why would I do that? I wanted to make sure I was not capable of infecting anyone else.

Being a diabetic I have been in hospital quite a bit during my life and quite often I was a guinea pig as the medical students were doing the rounds with the senior doctors. Well, that happened today at the clinic. I got to be a guinea pig for a new young nurse who was just starting at the clinic. So, two ladies in the room with me asking me about my sex life (insert embarrassed face emoji here). All the questions answered, blood tests done, now wait for the results. However, that was not the most embarrassing thing I did today, more of that later.

Next off to the doctor. But I had an hour to wait so first thing a nice relaxing coffee while I figure out how to tell my doctor that I might be becoming an alcoholic.

I have a good doctor. He has looked after me for many years and we get on well, so when he moved practice to the other side of Canberra I decided I would put up with the extra drive time rather than find a new doctor. Anyway, into the doctor I go, tell him how much I’ve been drinking and wait for his response. “No problem”, he says. “We know you are really only a social drinker. This has been a tough year for you. Its good that you have recognised this difference in your drinking pattern now and not in a few years time. What to do” he says. Well, as it turns out, not much at the moment. I am seeing him again in 4 days. We will see how I go between now and then. I have it in my mind and that may be enough to curtail it.

Okay, now the embarrassing thing that I mentioned earlier. I am 52 years old and this year I started manscaping for the first time ever. Lots of research on the internet to find out what to do and how to do it. Shave here, clipper there. Shave your bottom. What the??? How the hell am I going to do that? I am not very flexible so there’s no way I can get around there and do that. Hmmm. I know, I’ll go to a professional and get a wax. At this point I will say, ladies, I take my hat off to you. That was one of the most embarrassing and undignified things I think I have ever done.

I walk into the salon and a pretty young lady comes out to meet me. “Hi, I’m xxx and I’ll be looking after you today.” Okay, I say to myself. “Come on in. We’re doing a Half Brazilian and bottom today, correct?” “Um, yeah.” “Okay, take everything off from the waist down and lie face up on the table.” “Face up?” I wonder, “oh well, she’s the expert.” “Now bring your knees up towards your chest as far as you can and hold them there.” “Really!!!!!!” Anyway, let’s cut this short. Lots of warm gooey stuff, paper being pressed on, grit your teeth and RIP. Ouch. Finally we’re done. “Hope to see you again” smiles the receptionist as I leave. Maybe, maybe not.

So what do you do on your day off?

A man whose not sure about waxing,

Eccles

Depression and drinking

One of the things to be careful of when you are suffering from depression is starting to increase the amount of alcohol you drink.

Take me for example. Last November I was having maybe two drinks a week. On Monday evening, two nights ago, a friend asked me how if I was drinking more than usual. I thought about it for a bit. I think I am now averaging three drinks a night.

Whoa!! That surprised me. My drinking had crept up on me and I hadn’t really noticed. Just tonight my wife help up the scotch bottle. A third of it is gone and I only bought that three days ago. I think I need to do something, but what.

So last night I didn’t drink any alcohol. Hooray I thought, this is easy. Tonight? Four scotches. Hmm…

I don’t know. I see my psychologist and doctor on Monday. Maybe I should talk to them about this and see what I can do.

A worried man,

Eccles

A day off

So what’s happening today. Well this month I have Thursday off work. I am currently sitting at the side walk cafe with a coffee checking the twitter feed and trying not to think about the trip to Melbourne. Oh, I’m also blogging. And I have an hour and a half before I meet a friend here for a “catch up”.

I’m sort of not looking forward to catching up with John. Don’t get me wrong, John is a really good friend and he is one of three close friends who knew about my illness before I made it public. I haven’t seen John for many months and being the person I am I started to wonder why he wants to catch up. My psychologist calls this “fortune telling”. I don’t know why John wants to catch up so I am making up all sorts of different scenarios about how the catch up is going to go.

You may have read in my previous blog posts that I have been a Christian for over thirty years and that I have given up the faith this year. It’s a decision I am happy with. It’s a decision I am happy to write about. But I am not ready to talk about this decision with my Christian friends. It is with a bit of fear that I look forward to meeting with John. The fear being that the conversation may move towards my decision to leave the faith. Oh well, go through my exercises; Is there anything to suggest that the catch up will be anything other two friends meeting for coffee? No. So stop thinking the worst.

I just want my Christian friends to accept who I am and the decisions I have made. I don’t want them to try and save me again. I can’t stop them praying for me but please don’t

I am having a coffee with another friend this afternoon. I am looking forward to this catch up. Why? I can’t think of any reason why the conversation wouldn’t be pleasant and non threatening. Is this friend a Christian? No. Do they accept who I am? Yes. Do they judge me? No. This is a friend from my secret twitter life. We will have a coffee, talk about life, talk about websites and try and solve some problems. It will be good time.

I should finish this off before John arrives. Hope everyone has a good day.

A man not at work today,

Eccles

The last 24 hours

Time to write about happier things. But what? Let’s go through how the last 24 hours has changed my plans for August.

Exactly 24 hours ago I get a twitter DM from a gorgeous lady who I have met once before but hope I can meet regularly. We were hopefully planning to meet in three weeks in Canberra. However, due to circumstances the trip was not going to happen as planned. My friend (can I call her my friend? I will for the purpose of this blog post) apologised sincerely and suggested other dates that she might be able to make it to Canberra. We had chatted on other days about a David Bowie exhibition happening in Melbourne so she offhandedly suggested I should visit Melbourne to see the exhibition.

Well, I have never been spontaneous in my life but the idea kind of excited me. Get out of cold, windy, frosty, wet Canberra for a couple of days to the slightly warmer climes of Melbourne. There was also the added benefit of spending some time with my friend. I decided to do some research.

While I was doing some research my beautiful friend sent me a photo of a hotel that she thought I might like. I think she cunningly picked a photo that included a glass of champagne. She knows what I like. Then a single word from her “Haighs”. I’m almost convinced. Another message “Might be good for you to get away. You can see your mate”. She was of course referring to my good twitter friend in Melbourne that I am yet to meet. All these benefits of visiting Melbourne. My friend really knew which buttons to press.

I was needing a break from work so I had already applied for leave the week of my friend’s planned Canberra trip. The leave was approved two days ago. So I had a week off work, I wasn’t planning to do anything that week. What the heck, I’m convinced.

Do you know how many hotels there are in Melbourne??? So let’s filter the list, 4 and 5 stars only. So that got rid of about three hotels. Which to choose, which to choose. Anyway by 11:30 this morning I had booked flights and a room at a rather nice hotel. One night and two full days in Melbourne. Get to go to the David Bowie exhibition, try and catch up with my twitter friend, shop at Haigh’s. But the best part of the trip spending an evening with an intelligent, beautiful, gorgeous lady. How exciting. Needless to say that it was hard to concentrate on my work for the rest of the day.

I am looking forward to the poetry (my friend will understand).

An excited man,

Eccles


Down to the depths we go

cantdealBefore I get into the meat of this blog I need to warn readers that this blog post contains details that may upset you. This post comes straight from my heart and soul and involves many tears and just a few nips of whisky. I was not going to write about this subject today but it has been on my mind all day.

If you are feeling down, anxious, sad or depressed you probably may not want to read past this paragraph. If you need or want to talk to someone I strongly encourage you to contact any of the following Australian organisations. This may be the hardest thing you have ever had to do, but please do it. You will talk to someone who understands and the conversation will be totally confidential.

There are many other great organisations that can help. The ones above are the ones I have had contact with.

So what is this blog post about? What you read here are things I have never talked about, let alone written about. Never. Not even to my psychologist, my wife or my parents. It is not till now, 9 years later, that I am able to write about this. I wasn’t going to write about this but it’s been on my mind all day so I thought I better write it down.

I am writing about me when I was at my lowest. I have tried to kill myself twice – August 2006 and August 2007. I will not write about how I tried to kill myself, just know that I am glad I failed. I sometimes still find August a hard month to get through. I think this year will be different. I am a different person this year.

What the hell was I thinking? Why would I consider that I would be better off dead? How could I even think of doing this? What about my family? What about my friends?

If you have been reading my blog you will know that I now believe I have been suffering from social phobia and anxiety since about 12 years of age. I was diagnosed with clinical depression after my second suicide attempt but was well and truly suffering for many years before that. I can’t pinpoint exactly when but since at least the year 2000 probably earlier.

As a Christian I believed that God would not put me in any situation that I couldn’t handle. Regardless of what you are told I believe that killing yourself is not an unforgivable sin. So I would still be going to heaven. What bullshit that was. If I was considering killing myself, isn’t that a situation I couldn’t handle?

I was at the lowest of lows. I was so lonely. I lived in a city, I was part of a loving family, I was in a church of “loving” people and could name at least 100 friends. And yet I was so alone. And no-one knew. Even my wife and children did not know what was going on with me. Even after the first attempt. I recovered physically and no-one was any wiser. I was always smiling, joking, being a nice guy. No-one knew. It is that difficult to tell if someone is suffering sometimes.

So how does a person get into this state? It is very different for each person. For me, I was unable to live up to the standards that I thought I had to live up to. At the time I was not strong enough to see that I didn’t need to live up to anyone’s standards.

I have talked quite a bit with one of my new twitter friends about the church I was in; thanks for listening to me. This was one of the places that really oppressed me. I believed there was so much I had to do to be good enough and it crushed me. That was the first attempt. I have left the church. IF I ever return to the Christian faith I now realise all I have to believe is that Jesus was the son of God and he died for my sins. That’s it, nothing else. I don’t have to do anything to be worthy. But as I said … IF, and it is a very big IF.

No-one has ever heard this from my mouth before and there are tears on my cheeks as I say this. The second place that oppressed me and made me feel unworthy was my family. I had so many feelings of failure. That was my second attempt. This one crippled me. I still remember the night I decided to kill myself. I still remember my actions and my thoughts. I felt calm and that I would soon be at ease and my family would be so much better off without me. I was hoping they wouldn’t even want to grieve for me, I really was not worth it.

I woke up being attended to by two ambulance officers. I have no recollection of the next 48 hours. Even then no-one knew I had tried to kill myself. But at the end of that 48 hours I broke down and that was it. Talk to the wife, talk to the doctor, talk to the minister, on to medication.

Recovery is a long path, it is still going on for me. Every day is a struggle. I have stumbled a couple of times since that second attempt but have never gone close to wanting to do that again. Until a few weeks ago. My heart goes out to my good friend in Melbourne, thank you. You didn’t know it at the time because I think I lied to you about what was going on and what I was thinking. But being able to just talk to you was great.

I’ve said enough, for now. I have not written this for sympathy. I write this as part of my recovery and also to try and help people understand what others go through. I am happy, I have made some decisions lately that means I am now living my life the way I should be, not the way I am told I should be.

Thanks for listening to a man who was sad,

Eccles

I listen to the song that contains the following words a number of times a week. They are written by what is probably my favourite band at the moment, Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The song, Under the Bridge, talks of a time that the bands singer Anthony Kiedis considers to be one of the worst of his life. I don’t listen to feel down, I listen so that I remember what can happen.

I don’t ever want to feel
Like I did that day
Take me to the place I love
Take me all the way

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blackdog
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Social phobia, anxiety and me

Social PhobiaSo I am sitting at my favourite side-walk cafe with lots of other people. I see some friends a few tables away with a spare seat. And yet I choose to sit alone. I don’t even acknowledge their existence. What sort of friend am I? According to my psychologist I am still a friend. Will they talk to me another time? Yes they will. Will they hate me? No. So I choose the path of feeling guilty for the afternoon rather than sit and chat with friends. Am I crazy? Maybe.

There is a very good chance that in the next few months I will be meeting some guys that have become good friends that I have never met. This is one of the benefits of social media. You can meet people and get to know them (a bit) without ever having to meet them. My friends, don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to meeting you, it just scares the hell out of me. There are some ladies out there who know just how nervous and scared I get on a first meeting. In fact the first time I met one lady we talked for a full hour and a half before I was brave enough to ask if I could touch her. This is what social phobia and anxiety does to me.

I have heard people say anxiety can be debilitating. Let me tell you folks, sometimes you cannot speak, move, you get physically ill, your body shakes and there is nothing you can do to stop it. For me I need to remove myself from the world and escape into myself. Last time I sat right in the seat I am now for 3 hours before I could go back to work. It scares me sometimes. But I have friends near me who know what to look for in me. They understand what needs to be done for me, they may not understand why it is happening, but that’s not important for them.

So, I’ve finished my coffee and have done the grocery shopping and now I have time to finish this off.

While grocery shopping I ran into another friend I haven’t seen for at least 5 years. I’m standing in the middle of an aisle and, boom, there she is bearing down on me. I have no where to run, I am going to have to talk to her. Well 45 minutes later we go on our way. Again, that is what social phobia and anxiety does to me. I panic but it all turns out okay. We will probably have coffee on Thursday afternoon to catch up properly. Although I did find out that she, like me, has left the faith as well.

So what can I do about it. Basically I just have to practice. So I will see my friends if and when they visit my town. I will see my Christian friend on Thursday morning (that’s a whole other blog post). I will meet with my supermarket friend on Thursday afternoon for a good long catch up.

A scared and anxious man,

Eccles

My secret life

Leonard Cohen in my secret life
Leonard Cohen in my secret life

I consider myself to be a decent enough man. Others may not call me decent after reading this blog post. I am married and have two adult children. I have a good job and I like to think I am kind to those I interact with. I have a lot of friends who care about me. Up until this year I had been a practising Christian for over 30 years. I had a comfortable but troubled life.

That all changed last November. My brain and body stopped operating (again) in what most people would call a normal manner. I had a bit of a breakdown. Since then I have been learning about myself; what caused the meltdown, how I am feeling, what can I do to continue on with life. There are no easy answers to any of these questions but progress has been made. For instance, I am back at work and have managed to work my way back to working 4 days a week. In two months I go back full time.

I now know that I am not a Christian. This has disappointed a number of my friends. One in particular. I told him yesterday morning. He and I, and a few others, meet for breakfast every Friday. We chat, joke, help each other with life problems, and read the Bible. I made him cry. But I could not be truthful to him or me and not tell him. We have been having breakfast together for 20 years and I hope it continues for another 20.

Since last December I have once again been seeing a psychologist, weekly to start with, then fortnightly and now I we meet once a month. These have been the best sessions for me. I have found out a lot about myself, some of my issues (I am sure there are more) and we have figured out some plans on how to deal with life issues. Some issues can be helped with medication. Some you just have to face, like my social phobia. No magic cure, just take little easy steps and practice.

One of my issues has led to what I will call my “secret” life. There are quite a few people I have met in this secret life. Some have became good friends. A lot I respect greatly. I have learnt a lot about myself and others from this life as well. I am brave enough to admit that I was a hypocrite and I was able to lie to myself very convincingly. I can’t believe some of the things I used to think and sometimes say about other people.

I have one friend in my non-secret life who knows about my secret. I am sorry to say that I don’t think that many of my other friends would understand what my secret life means to me and that it helps me get through life. In my secret life I would be called a “punter” or a “john”, terms I don’t like. Personally I like the term “client”. To be frank about it, I have paid private escorts to spend time with me, sometimes very intimate times, sometimes not. I started my previous blog post, My public life, as follows

Last night I spent a number of very enjoyable hours with absolutely gorgeous lady. We enjoyed a meal, we drank, we talked, we did other things. I can’t remember ever feeling so at ease and relaxed in my life.

This was the third time we have spent time together and we plan to spend more time together. There are also two other ladies I see regularly, as time and money permits.

I have found these ladies to be some of the most understanding people I have ever met. They may not know it but they have helped me a great deal. A lot of my increase in self esteem I owe to them.

This time it has taken me 8 months to get to where I am now able to start coping again. There have been some major changes in my life – for the better as far as I am concerned. I’m still not fully there but have come a long way.

Ladies, you know who you are. If you read this, thank you. I am glad to know you and be part of your world and that you are part of mine.

Man, when I start I just keep going.

A secret man,

Eccles

Leonard Cohen in my secret life