Here I am

Morning coffeeIt has been a while since I have published a post. Why so long? I am okay, in fact I am doing really well and have been for a while now. Yes I have down days but on the whole I have been enjoying life. So why haven’t I published a post? I have sat down many times and started but found myself staring at the keyboard and couldn’t get any inspiration to finish a post. Now that the warmer weather is here I am down at my favourite cafe writing again.

So what’s been happening? I’m back at work full time and loving it. The work is just the right amount and the hours at the moment are normal. I wake up and enjoy going to work as I know I will be challenged, but I know I will also be able to solve the problems presented to me. I am starting to get to the gym (semi) regularly. I booked a session with a personal trainer and he has drawn up a plan for me that I am able to follow on my own. That is happening 3 times a week at the moment. And by the way, I hate squats. Have been to see my endocrinologist and everything is going well with my diabetes. Apparently I should be having eye problems by now having been a diabetic for 39 years but my eyes are still fine (yay).

My psychologist and I are trying something a bit different with me at the moment. We are concentrating on my social phobia at the moment (only because I haven’t told her about my secret life).This is what I struggle with the most on a daily basis. So, w are trying a plan to get me out on my own, without family or friends to hide behind. It has been very rare in my life that I have been on my own in social situations. I started this experiment by venturing into the Canberra night life one night.went to a club that is also a whisky bar. it is amazing how little I actually know about whisky. Anyway after a few hours I found myself in Fyshwick at a new establishment there called Red Door Canberra. This massage parlour is a fabulous place to find relaxation and to unwind. I have been twice now and the ladies have made me feel welcome and totally relaxed.

I am planning my next solo adventure. Another trip to Melbourne. I am planning to stay for 3 nights this time starting Sun 8 Nov. If I fly up early enough I might spend the day at Sexpo (Sunday is the last day). (Oh look, I’ve turned into an advertising site.) Anyone in Melbourne want to join me for the day? I am also hoping to catch up with friends while I am there, some I have met before, some I haven’t. I do so hope the planning comes off and I can get to Melbourne. I am doing some adjusting of finances to see if I can pull this off.

Well look at that; 500+ words. I think that is all for this post, will post again soon. I am excited for the next two weeks (hehe, and that will stay just as it is) and am excited hoping I can manage to get to Melbourne.

An excited man,

Eccles

Be happy

Meeting new people

Someone I admire greatly, and hope to one day call a friend, has recently been tweeting about meeting new people in social environments. Like me she is extremely introverted and has asked for people to share strategies for

making new friends / meeting new people in your personal lives. Particularly those of you who are huge introverts (like me) trying to be quiet & observant in this loud and overwhelming extroverted world!

First up, I think her description of the world is exactly right for those of us who are introverted. We get intimidated by the “noise” of what appears to be an extremely extroverted world. Everything we see nowadays tells us that the world is “all about me” and that I need to look after me first. This does not always fit in with the thinking of an introvert. We want to just to wander through the world, and for the most part, not being noticed. However, everybody needs friendship. We are beings that require relationships with others. So how do we achieve this.

I too, like my friend find it extremely hard to meet new people. Those of you who know me will understand that I will think the worst is going to happen in any given situation, especially social ones. I am petrified of looking like a fool. However, when I actually get around to meeting new people nothing bad really happens. I do sometimes say absolutely stupid things and yes, sometimes people do laugh. But I have come to realise that they are not laughing at me, but are trying to ease the situation.

I have been visiting a psychologist (again) for many months now and for me with my extreme social phobia there is no magic cure for meeting new people. There are some strategies to make it a little bit easier, but really the best strategy is practice. So what have I been doing? I have been deliberately putting myself into situations where I have to interact with new people. Scariest thing ever for me. But after the initial few minutes and introduction I tend to settle down and the interaction gets easier. I still have to excuse myself after about half an hour to calm down a bit. But its the knowing that these people are mostly just like me, sometimes scared as well, that helps to continue to meet new people.

I hope this little bit of personal experience helps others who are finding it tough. It is not easy, it is tough, but it is short term. And it is far better than not meeting other people.

A scared man,

Eccles

Oh my God

I have two posts to blog. I thought I would start with the dark post first and then the lighter post. I have released them at the same time as they are related. These posts will show just how quickly moods can change in someone suffering depression, and at the end you will see why I think this happened to me. There will be no background for what I am saying here, if you need some background for this see the next post.

This afternoon I found myself at the “David Bowie Is” exhibition at Federation Square in Melbourne. All of a sudden I was crying. Not just crying, sobbing. Sobbing uncontrollably with my whole body and mind. As far as I can remember this had happened only once before when a very good friend had died when we were 28. I had a reason to cry then, but why was I sobbing now.

My depression had caused me to cry before but nothing like this. The tears were streaming down my face and falling to the floor. I couldn’t breath and my body was trembling. This was scaring me, but what came next was worse.

If you have been following my blog posts you will know I have two lives, one I have been living for the past 30 years, the other, which only you guys know about, started at the beginning of this year (although my other life has been around for years just inactive). I realised during this episode that the last 30 years of my life have been a lie and if I leave Melbourne I will be returning to that lie.

“I don’t want to do this. But what can I do? I have to go back to my lie, to my family, friends and job in Canberra. I have to, don’t I?”

Is there an alternative? Could I stay in Melbourne? It seems to be a nice city and I “know” some great people there. But how would I do that? Quick get outside and think properly.

Outside the sun was shining, it was raining when I went indoors. This is good, this will help me feel better. I looked around and saw Melbourne again, It still beckoned me to stay, it still said I shouldn’t go back to Canberra. If I stayed what would that do to the people I cared about in Canberra. Would I survive a change like that. Okay, I can’t stay and I don’t want to go back, what to do. Only one thing left for me. Time to stop this life, but how? Oh shit, the scary monster is back.

Put my action plan into action. Find a friend and talk. I got on a tram and sent a message to my Melbourne friend who had helped me out before. But he was getting ready for a night out and I didn’t want to bring him down. So the conversation was just a brief chit-chat. I didn’t tell him what was happening. I think he knew. Just having the chat with him was enough to distract me.

How quick did it take me to get into the scary state, about 10 minutes. How long till the end of the episode, 90 minutes.

Epilogue: I now know why my doctor keeps emphasising that I should not miss taking my medication. I was sitting at the airport later and opened my blood test kit so I could check my blood sugars. There, in my kit so I wouldn’t forget to take them, were all my medications for the last two days. I am hoping that forgetting my medication for two days was the reason for the episode. I will be visiting my doctor to find out.

Eccles

Watching life

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Its been a pretty good week this week. There have been good times, bad times, a time of reflection, a time of embarrassment, a time to seek help, times to just sit and chat with friends, and times to just sit and watch. Like now.

I have a coffee and I am sitting in the middle of the shopping centre watching people go to and fro, watching expressions on faces, looking at fashions and catching snippets of conversations.

The nerds wander past, long hair, jeans, jackets, talking of their latest victories in their games.

Two friends wave at each other across the food hall. They brighten with happiness as smiles engulf their faces. They hug, kiss on the cheeks and head to one of the coffee shops.

A family of six wander past, grocery shopping done. Three young kids have light up shoes, Mum has a baby on her hip. Dad is not smiling, he does not look like he is enjoying himself.

A smartly dressed 30 year old lady walks by. All in black, except for her camel coloured ankle boots. Black slim handbag with gold trim. She is very elegantly dressed for the shopping centre at midday on a Saturday. I wonder where she is going, who she might be meeting.

An older couple shuffle past. Quiet, hunched, arm in arm. A smile crosses my face. How long have they been together? What could they tell me about life? Are they still enjoying life?

Ah, there’s the young couple in love. Fairly well dressed, smart casuals, they obviously don’t live together and are spending some time together. Walking along hand in hand, they stop, share a hug and a kiss and continue on their way.

I love watching life happen around me, watching people go about every day activities. I like to wonder about who they are, what is their life like, do they to have secret lives. The meaning of the name I was given at birth is “watchful”. I like to watch.

A watching man,

Eccles

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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


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

My public life

DepressionLast 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, however, is not my public life.

The last three weeks have been a turmoil of emotions for me. If you have read the “Why?” page of this site you will know that I suffer from depression, acute social phobia and anxiety. So feeling at ease, relaxed and with a calm mind is an exceptional state of mind for me. I sit here writing this blog post and still feel relaxed, calm and I might even say content.

My turmoil of emotions over the last few weeks have led to very darks thoughts passing through my mind. If not for a very special friend in Melbourne, who I communicate over twitter with, I don’t know if I would be here today to write this. These were the darkest thoughts I have had in almost 9 years. Let me explain a bit more about how my particular mental illness manifests itself for me. I say it is my illness and the manifestations are peculiar to me because I believe that mental illnesses will manifest quite differently for each person.

Let’s start with the social phobia, this is the part that has lasted the longest and has led to some of my other issues. I got to a place where I could not go out socially, not even with my family. I was still able to go to work but was not able to interact with colleagues. People who know me will find that hard to believe but it is true. Phones are my worst phobia. I find it really hard to call people. I find it even harder to answer the phone. I am sort of okay talking with people on twitter, which is a good thing I am finding. However, even with twitter it will take me a while to jump in to a conversation. We believe my social phobia, which led very quickly to anxiety, started when I was about 12. I can’t figure out why, all I know is that it is a part of me.

As I said my anxiety followed on from the social phobia, and my anxiety led to clinical depression later in life. My depression culminated in two suicide attempts in 2006 and 2007. The anniversary of my last attempt is coming up in August. Yes it is something I think about and sometimes August can be a particularly sombre time fro me. Another reason to be writing this blog post now and not waiting till later.

I decided in January this year that I would begin to make my mental illness public. One reason for doing this is that I was exhausted from hiding my illness from most people. The only people who knew were my wife, children, three very special friends and my health care team. The other reason for making it public was I was hoping to help some colleagues whom I suspected were suffering. I thought that by going public they may be encouraged to seek help/advice. I know have regular coffees with 4 of my colleagues about how they are going. Makes it all worthwhile.

I think this post is long enough. I have called this post “My public life”. I am planning a second post (hopefully also tonight) called “My secret life” where I am going to explain more about myself. It is all me, all of me. Writing is very liberating.

A public man,

Eccles