Paradoxical Feelings

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Over the last week I started talking to a new person I met online and had a few nice conversations which you might think would make me feel better but strangely I actually feel worse. I have been trying to break it down in my head as to why I feel like this and it kind of happens in a few stages. First of all I usually expect to be rejected by everyone because it is my honest belief (I don’t just say this to try and make people disagree and reassure me) that I am a boring, worthless person who is fundamentally unlikeable. If this doesn’t happen then I can occasionally have positive experiences, like how I described in a post from last year (I cannot believe a year has passed since that already..) but afterwards I start to get a sense of dread building up. On rare occasions I can fight it for a while but I inevitably end up replaying conversations or things I did over and over in my mind and thinking about how stupid and inept I came across. I usually get the urge to try and correct it by giving some sort of apology or seeking approval in some way. I feel ashamed admitting this because it sounds so pathetic but that’s what it is really. The alternative is what I am feeling right now about the most recent experience, that I feel guilty for deceiving the person into thinking I am more interesting or less of an idiot that I really am.

The main conclusion that I have drawn from this crude self-analysis is that a lot of my problems come from my fundamental beliefs about myself, which have been formed from years of experience both personally and from listening and reading about what people say about others. I know I am the kind of person who is almost universally thought of as a complete loser and looked down upon by pretty much everyone. The thing is, I don’t necessarily disagree with them. I don’t like myself at all, and I’m not just saying that for effect. This leads me to think “if I don’t like myself, why should anyone else?”

This is a big sticking point when it comes to trying to get better. I have been feeling very depressed just lately (but not actively suicidal) and fed up of not knowing how to deal with it. I read a book called Reasons to Stay Alive because I thought it might have some insight. The author gives a very good description of how depression can feel (at least in my experience) and obviously had more acute and severe anxiety than me. I couldn’t help but come away with the feeling that our situations, and the situation of a lot of people whom I have read describing their dealings with depression are very different and come from a completely different place. I think for some people, depression is a completely irrational thing. This guy had a loving girlfriend, to whom he gives enormous credit for helping him through what was a very difficult time. I’m not trying to play down anyone’s experiences, but I can see why it might not be quite so hard to find reasons to stay alive if you have that kind of support.

I find myself in the same old situation of not having anyone besides my immediate family who I can talk to or get any kind of support from. Even this is very limited because I don’t like talking to them about things because I don’t want to upset them any more than I already have done in the past. I never talk to my dad about things, my sister is so busy and stressed out by her job I don’t want to add to her troubles and my mum seems completely unable to understand why I feel the way I do even though it is clearly not a normal situation at all. Even though they are sympathetic, I cannot shake the feeling that it’s because I am related to them and doesn’t really reflect on my value as a person because people often support their family members even if they are truly awful. Maybe this makes me a bad, ungrateful person, I don’t know. I simultaneously crave, but cannot believe that I will ever have, acceptance and friendship from other people who aren’t obligated to give it.

The common thread I have seen when people write about recovering from depression is that they try to invoke the fact that you can return to some sort of state that you were in before you were depressed, and I can see why that is valuable because if you used to be OK then I’m sure it would be possible to be OK again. The thing is that some of us don’t really have those memories or experiences to look at and think “I can be like that again”. I can’t remember any prolonged period in my entire adult life where I have not been depressed. At 18 I felt like my life was falling apart because I couldn’t cope with university and this was the first time I fallen off track from what I was “supposed” to do. 19 to 21 felt like an extension of my school days, at 22 I realised work was just as bad and that people there could hate me and make my life a misery just as much as they did at school. At 23 I spent a year unemployed and isolated (as I have done from 2012 to now) my mid 20s were spent battling suicidal thoughts and actions that I have described in tediously great detail on this blog. The closest I can think of is the last year I was at university. This would hardly rank as a great situation for most people, I spent virtually every day alone and only briefly spoke to one person in my classes every now and then. I didn’t feel utterly hopeless though, perhaps that is the high water mark I have to aim for.

A bit of good news

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I don’t normally have much positive stuff to post about on here but I the last few days have been pretty good. I went swimming with my dad on Saturday, we used to go every week when I was younger but I hadn’t been for ages. I’m going to try and start going regularly again.

Last night I met up with someone I met online a few years ago, we hadn’t seen each other for a long time and I was afraid that after how quiet and boring I was last time that she wouldn’t want to see me again but it was really nice to catch up. Her friend was with her who I hadn’t met before and I was quite anxious about it but I think everything went alright and I enjoyed it. I feel like kind of a fraud on the rare occasions when I sort of manage to bluff my way through these kind of things, like I am almost lying by trying to hide what a loser I really am. Anyway, I’ve been trying my best to silence these doubts and stop myself from analysing everything that I said or did wrong and am doing better than usual. 

Acedia

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noun \ə-ˈsē-dē-ə\

Spiritual torpor and apathy; ennui.

Though I’ve not been so badly affected by the serious symptoms of depression recently, the general lack of enthusiasm for pretty much anything is still here and has been for some time. For almost my entire life I have been interested in and loved using computers. If I could have carried on the vast enthusiasm and dedication I had towards the subject into my current studies I have no doubt I’d be in a better position, grade wise.

I suppose it happens to many people, that they lose the passion for the subject they are studying but it is quite a dramatic fall for me. It’s not that I hate computers but I just don’t find myself wanting to learn more programming languages, keep up with new technological developments or any of the other things that I used to avidly do. I still spend 90% of my waking hours at one, but it’s not for the pure technical exercises that I used to do. Even when I was in sixth form (the 2 years prior to beginning university) the people I associated with (I no longer think of them as friends) and I used to always be looking for ways to make our IT projects more complicated and we’d get frustrated with how much more we knew about the subject than any of the teachers. I owned hundreds of magazines, read countless websites and posted on tech forums.

Depression has the effect of making you lose interest in things that you used to enjoy, and I can safely say that is the case with me. Even earlier in this post I almost recoiled at typing the word “love” because it seems such a foreign emotion to me now. There isn’t really anything in the world that I can say I thoroughly enjoy or love. I love my family of course but when it comes to passion for any sort of hobby or interest I can’t think of anything for which I’d use such a strong word to describe my feelings toward.

In the very rare occasions when I’ve been asked what I have been doing, over the weekend for example, I honestly don’t know what to say because to anyone who observed me I really wouldn’t appear to have done anything. I know it’s bad but I sometimes make things up just so I don’t appear to be such a complete weirdo.

I keep thinking about those things the therapist gives you where you write in what you did for certain hours of the day etc. Mine would be completely full of “sat around at the computer, not working.” for the vast majority of the time when I’m not at lectures. The amount of time I am isolated away from any form of human contact is beginning to worry me. If I didn’t go home at weekends then I would literally spend months at a time saying little more than one word replies to people. It can’t be good for you, but there’s very little I can do about it.

One thing I do like is listening to music but again it is a solitary activity for me. I can’t stand being asked what kind of music I like, I’ve always hated that long before I knew what social anxiety was, I’ve always found that a bugging question. I don’t know how to respond, are they asking for certain bands/artists? The main thing I worry about is that if I try to describe a genre or name some band that they think is embarrassing then I’ll feel like an idiot because I’m no good at defending myself or my opinions (in person at least).

Anyway that paragraph was meant to lead to a point… A band I like is playing in my home town in a couple of weeks and I really wanted to see them because it’s likely they won’t play there again and it’s quite a small venue and I don’t have to travel far. Of course the problem is that I don’t have anyone to go with. I have been to a gig on my own, roughly this time last year actually, and it was ok but I did feel strange being the only person obviously by themselves. I bought a ticket anyway but I am still in two minds about whether to go or not. Because of the timing, I’d have to let my mum know since I’d be coming back to the house afterwards but I know she’d want to know who I was going with and would probably think I was weird for going on my own if I told her. I’m hoping she’ll assume that I’m going with one of the couple of people I knew from an SA website that I occasionally see in town.

Oh well, I’ll let you know what I do.

It’s Overdue

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Hello there. First of all I’d like to apologise for being absent for so long, I’ve been a Bad Blogger. Around the time we last left off I was going through another period of bad depression and finding myself snowed under with work and feeling rather hopeless and suicidal again. A visit to the psychiatrist convinced me to try a different antidepressant to try and get things under control as I was really struggling. This time it was sertraline (also known as Zoloft) and things have picked up since then, at least I’m no longer plagued by constant thoughts and the need to plan suicide, even if it is still on my mind a lot. If I’m perfectly honest, I’m pretty sure that’s the way I’ll die but it doesn’t feel immediately inevitable like it did before. I was sceptical about SSRIs after my previous experiences but it seems like I might have found the one that at least takes the edge off.

Not a lot has happened in the last year to be honest. It’s been the same old thing over and over. Some plus points are that I managed to get through the group project and presentation that I had worried so much about. It was nerve wracking but I lucked out and only had to present to one lecturer, the other scary one who was meant to be there was ill. I passed the second year of my degree with a 2:2 which is considerably lower than the first year, but considering all the problems I was having it’s decent enough. Over the summer I worked at the place I was at last year and got on OK there, was quite sad to leave really. I get pretty much free reign to get on with things and it’s some experience to go on my C.V. so it’s all good.

Going into my final year, I decided to move out of the house I’d been sharing with two of my first year flatmates. It’s not that I didn’t get along with them, they are very nice, but I just felt kind of trapped in my room because some of their friends and one of their boyfriend made me feel really nervous. I didn’t like sharing a bathroom either, or sleeping in the downstairs room. This year I’m renting a flat in a block of student apartments off campus and sharing a kitchen with 4 others. I don’t really see much of them, we mostly keep to ourselves and I’ve only really had one proper conversation with one of them the whole time. The others I’ve barely spoken to at all.

Bad habits have crept back though. I have been buying takeaway food and going without meals rather than cooking because I have this fear of people thinking bad things about what I eat and I don’t like to be in the kitchen for too long. It sounds so stupid to write down but I just can’t help it.

The main problems I’ve been having lately is that I have missed so many lectures and workshops. The third year is really the most important one and I should be attending everything ideally, but anxiety has conspired to make me miss out on a lot. I had to ask for an extension on the first assignment and jump through hoops to get doctors letters and proof that it was a valid reason but I managed it. Thankfully I passed that one (although with a poor grade) but I’m afraid of what will happen with the next ones. Part of the reason I have missed so much is my utterly ridiculous sleeping pattern over the last few months of the semester. I was literally unable to sleep all night and would fall asleep mid morning or afternoon completely exhausted then wake up at night time. On one occasion I woke up at 10.30pm. I spoke my to my doctor about it but they don’t want to give me sleeping pills (for obvious reasons I suppose). Over the Christmas break I’ve managed to get back into some semblence of a routine at least. It is nice to actually see daylight for a change.

I never used to think the weather had any affect on my mood, but the last few times when my depression has been worse has been in winter. I’m not sure if the decreased amount of sun makes me feel worse but it seems possible. The point where I felt so bad that I finally managed to speak to someone about it, back in 2007, was in the winter too.

My main worries at the moment are that I am so far behind on uni work. I don’t know if I will fail some modules, it’s possible I might have to resit them in the summer in order to graduate which wouldn’t be the end of the world but I can’t repeat the year because this is the last one that the student loans company will fund for me and I don’t another £3600 I could pay out of my own pocket. I’ve been so stupid, letting my fears get the best of me and avoiding lectures because of stupid anxiety. My avoidant tendancies have stopped me from even looking at the other assignment deadlines coming up because I know I have so much to catch up on.

I’m going to try and talk to my old tutor who helped me out last time and is somewhat aware of my situation but I don’t want to seem like I’m making excuses for being lazy or something. I know they can’t make special circumstances just for me but I don’t really know what else to do.

I think I’ve probably written enough for one update but I’ll include this quiz about the last year since I wasn’t around to blog about it much. Thanks to everyone who has messaged me and wished me well. Sorry I kept to have kept you waiting, those of you who asked me to write an update.

1. Was 2010 a good year for you?

No not really.

2. What were your New Year’s Resolutions and did you keep them?

No.

3. Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions for 2010?

No.

4. Where will you be when 2010 ends?

I was in London watching Sonic Youth.

5. Who will you be with when 2010 ends?

My friend Vicky and some of her friends who I don’t know.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

To feel like there are things to look forward to, not to be overwhelmed by work.

7. Where did most of your money go?

Mostly on rent. My biggest personal purchase was a new guitar.

8. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I don’t really get excited about anything, though I was looking forward to New Year even though it was tempered by anxiety and depression once it was over.

9. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? about the same.

ii. thinner or fatter? My doctor said she thought I’d lost weight but I feel fatter.

iii. richer or poorer? Still poor.

10. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Uni work, going to lectures, staying in touch with people, getting up earlier.

11. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Procrastination, succumbing to anxiety, avoiding things.

12. How will you be spending Christmas?

I went home to be with my mum and occasionally dad and sister when they weren’t working. It was fairly pleasant.

13. How many one-night stands?

None.

14. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No I don’t think so.

15. What was the best book you read?

Nineteen Eighty Four

16. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I usually listen to older music that I missed out on, so some Pavement albums I guess.

17. What did you want and get?

To not be constantly suicidal. A nice guitar. To see one of my favourite people.

18. What did you want and not get?

The ability to be excited about things and not see only disappointment in the future. Happiness, hah.

19. Favourite film of this year?

I don’t think it was a fantastic year for films. Shutter Island was good I guess.

20. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I can’t even remember, I think I might have gone out for lunch with my sister. I was 25

21. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Can’t think of one thing in particular.

22. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

“Inoffensive”.

23. What kept you sane?

Sertraline.

24. Who do you miss?

Vicky. My old flatmates, even though I could see them I don’t really have an excuse to be around any more. I think they didn’t mind me being there when I lived with them but can’t see why they’d want me around now.

25. Did you make any new friends?

No.

26. Quote a song that sums up your year:

“I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo.”

27. Where were you when 2010 began?

At home.

28. Who were you with?

My mum and her boyfriend,

29. Did you fall in love in 2010?

No.

.

30. If yes, with who?

n/a

31. Are you still in love with them?

n/a

32. Did you break up with anyone in 2010?

No.

33. What was your favourite month of 2010?

August.

34. What was your favourite record from 2010?

Interpol’s self titled album.

35. How many concerts did you see in 2010?

Two.

36. Did you have a favourite concert in 2010?

Sonic Youth.

37. Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2010?

No, I hardly ever drink. I have enough vices as it is.

40. What was your most embarrassing moment of 2010?

Can’t pick a single moment.

41. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2010 and change something, what would it be?

Work harder and attend more at uni.

42. What are your plans for 2011?

Try to get back on track and pass my degree. Keep practicing playing the guitar. Hopefully travel somewhere interesting.

A Prisoner

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I didn’t think I’d find myself longing for the halls of residence I stayed in at university last year but I am. It always seems to happen to me actually, I hate something at the time but then in the future I end up reminiscing fondly about it. It might be a case of rose tinted glasses, or maybe, if I can paraphrase “Office Space”, every day is worse than the last so every day you see me is the worst day of my life.

My current room doesn’t have an en-suite bathroom (though to call my halls bathroom a “room” is rather a stretch) and it leads directly to the living room so I can always hear when there are people here. I hate coming out of my room when anyone is here, my housemate E, I can just about manage talking to but it never progresses beyond the tiniest of small talk, going over the same old things again and again. I think she is always just shocked to see me, it is frightening how I can live in the same house as two people but remain largely invisible to them.

The main problem I have at the moment (and something else would instantly replace it in my mind as has always happened since I was at primary school, I can never be without a big worry in my life) is that my other housemate, J’s boyfriend has started at the university this year. I am nothing like him, he’s one of the “lads” and I can tell he doesn’t like me at all and I’ll risk being admonished for being judgemental and “mind reading” if you want to use the mental health jargon and say he probably thinks I’m the biggest freak ever and makes fun of me behind my back, to which J probably half heartedly tells him to stop but without any real conviction. He’s the only person who made any negative comment about me not drinking and the way he insults other people (not that he’s a nasty person, pretty much all “lads” are like it) doesn’t give me much hope that such an easy target as myself would be spared. I don’t want to be around when he is there. I can’t talk to him, I am lost for words. I’ll admit I am very intimidated by him, and by J actually. I feel like a lower-class moron compared to them.

I’m fed up of feeling like a prisoner here. I have lost count of the meals I have missed because they and their friends have been round here, their loud conversations and laughter terrify me behind my door and I stay fixed by fear inside my room waiting until it’s reasonably late enough to assume they won’t knock on my door and I can hide in bed until the morning. I count down the days to the weekend; “only 2 more nights here” I’ll think to myself. It’s not an enjoyable existence, my health has already suffered. OK I could stand to lose weight but I’ve been finding my clothes too large because of how little I eat while I’m here. It goes without saying how messed up my mental health is becoming.

I don’t know what to do, time is running out if I want to suspend my studies for a year but I don’t think I’d be able to afford that and I don’t know if I’d have the mental strength to go back after a year away from everything.

Perfectionism

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Relevant song lyric of the day: “I’m not afraid of dying, any time will do”

I had to call and cancel my crisis team visit, I can’t handle having to talk to people at the moment, I feel ill (cold coming on, it wasn’t just the meds) and that kind of flat, empty depression has taken over. I don’t feel desperately sad or like crying as I sometimes do, just lifeless and bereft of happiness and will to live. I had somewhat of a revelation which I wanted to write about but I am too tired to get into it properly today.

I was thinking about the time when my first psychiatrist asked me if I was a perfectionist. My first reaction was to almost laugh in disbelief; I don’t know how anyone could look at me and ask that question. I don’t exactly look like someone who wants to be perfect. When I think about it more carefully though, I think that I am sort of a perfectionist, in my own twisted way. My (subconscious, or is it unconscious? I can’t control it anyway) idea of perfection is different from what most people would think of as perfect, and I seem to hold myself and others to this ridiculous ideal.

I want to conform to societies ideas of where and what I should be, even if I don’t actually want the things themselves, if that makes sense. I want to want to be a normal person. This probably sounds insane and it most likely is. I don’t think I could actually give up certain aspects of my life, I could never be one of those people who always has to be around others, I need time alone a lot more than others even when I’m not anxious. 

Having something like social anxiety makes you analyse everything to a huge extent, I remember details about inconsequential conversations from years back and a million other useless things that would pass most people by. It’s quite odd really, you can almost appear psychic since people tell you things and then forget that you ever talked about it but I remember most things (probably on account of the fact that I have about 1000x less conversations than the average person). 

I don’t know if I could give up my level of self awareness and the things I know about how people manipulate you, but while I have these dubious qualities I don’t think I can ever be happy or “normal”. When I think back to the time when I was actually happy, when I was a child, I had no idea about how cruel the world was and how people take advantage of any weakness you show. I hate this site, but the description of stages explains what I mean better than I could, the blissfully ignorant stage. I don’t even want to consider the advice that it preaches, maybe I am embittered and destined to be like this forever but I just can’t become the person that it seems I need to be in order to fit in.

My twisted perfectionism makes me want to be all things to all people. I realise that everyone probably does this to some extent, but I change who I am based upon who I’m with. I don’t know who the real me is, maybe it’s the person who write this narcissistic, self obsessed drivel. This is the only place I am honest after all. I can’t be that person in real life though, I can’t express myself verbally. I’d be too scared about being thought of as a stuck up snob, which maybe I am.  I come across huge problems when I don’t know what people want me to be though. I think this is a big reason why I am so scared of meeting new people, I don’t know how to present myself because it’s been so long since the real me has been allowed out, it has withered away.

To fit in, you need to expose yourself, part of your personality and let people know about you. I find this terrifying, even giving away the slightest details about my opinions is often beyond my comfort zone. I can’t offer any opinions on music or anything else that most people talk about without a second thought. I’ve been through so much mockery and psychological grinding down that I can’t give away any chances for people to do that to me again. 

I’ve spoken to my online friends about this before and they always try to tell me that I’ve been unlucky with the people that I’ve been around and that not everyone is so malicious and cruel, but I can’t honestly put all that down to luck. I could start thinking that I’m the unluckiest person in the world, something my dad seems to do and I want to avoid. There’s no point in trying to pass off my own failings as someone else’s fault, I don’t want to blame the world for my problems. If there is one good thing that can be said for me, I want it to be known that I take full responsibility for my own actions and I realise it’s my own fault that I am such a wreck.

In the past I never considered myself to have a short temper, but recently I find myself being increasingly frustrated with people. I hate banal small talk, I don’t want to try and sound superior – I know that I’m definitely not. I just wish that I had some kind of flash cards I could hold up to save answering the same old shit over and over.

I think I expect everyone to be “perfect” like a robot, like I am. It might sound ridiculous, on this website I probably come across as a histrionic maniac, but in real life I am extremely reserved. I can’t stand to do things “wrong”, I’d rather not try than fail. This is one of my biggest stumbling blocks. I am terrified of making mistakes in all areas of life. To pick a random example, we used to have a pool table in the sixth form common room. I never played a single game on it even though I used to like it when I was younger and I always wanted a snooker table of my own but we had no space for one. I was so scared that I’d make a mess of it and everyone’d laugh that I never once played. I could list a million other examples of how this has held me back. This is incredibly difficult for me to say (being the master rationaliser that I am, I think I have avoided admitting this for other reasons) but perhaps one of the reasons that I have never had a girlfriend is that I’ve never asked anyone out or shown any interest (irl). I probably never had any friends because I’ve been too scared to approach people in case I make a fool of myself and so kept to myself and my group of abusive associates (I refuse to call them friends any more). 

One of my sisters friends once had a birthday party at one of those places with bouncy castles, ball pits and slides etc to which I was invited. I can still remember vividly being afraid to go on any of the things or do anything other than sit at the side. I was scared that I’d fall over or do something else to make the other kids laugh at me so I did nothing. I was probably under 8 at the time, but I can remember the feeling and it’s the first time I can remember someone explaining the concept of “regret” to me. My mum told me I’d have a good time if I went and played and that I’d regret it if I didn’t (I just realised that sounds like a threat haha, it wasn’t said in that way). How right she was.

My whole life is littered with examples of wasted opportunities, I never did anything at a young age while it is still acceptable to be less than perfect and you have chance to learn. For example, I never used to play football with the other boys. When I got to secondary school this would return to haunt me as we were forced to play in PE and I was obviously awful, embarrassingly awful at it. I used to get so worked up and anxious in the days leading up to PE, begging my mum for sick notes, forgetting my kit on purpose and ending up with my first detentions. It seems like most of my readers are women so maybe this sounds pretty inconsequential (not being sexist, I just think society seems to push boys and girls into different areas around that time in adolescence) but not being good at sports is a great way to make yourself unpopular and an outcast at that age.

There are literally hundreds of other things that I avoided rather than risk embarrassment which have hurt me massively in the long run. Not attending any social events is probably the biggest of these.

I wonder if it’s too late to repair this massive damage. I am literally an empty shell of person, devoid of any life experiences, significant or otherwise. At the moment I feel that it is too late for me. Maybe if I was 16 or younger then I’d have a shot, but I’m supposed to be climbing the career ladder and buying houses now, not worrying that I don’t know how to kiss or any other basic life skill that should have been learned 10 or 15 years ago.

This post is all over the place, I’m sorry. I only got a couple of hours sleep last night and I’ve barely eaten again so my concentration isn’t exactly brilliant at the moment. I highlighted the main bit in bold if you don’t want to read the whole lot.

Good day

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Stayed at uni last night and didn’t really accomplish much (including eating 😦 ) but I went out this afternoon to meet a friend from a social anxiety forum who lives a few miles away. We’d only met once before but we went to see a film and had a fairly long chat in Starbucks afterwards. It was really nice to see her again and I think we got on quite well. I managed to talk quite a lot by my standards and I don’t think she was too bored.

Back home now in preparation for my CBT on Monday, but I’m annoyed because I forgot both my phone and my meds 😦 I found one 150mg tablet here but that’s going to have to last me 2 days.

Things have certainly improved since this time last week when I was probably at my lowest point for 6 months. I’m going to try and stay positive and keep working at CBT and aim to spend a bit more time with my flatmates (though I have a creeping feeling that I am starting to annoy them when I am around more, like they can’t really enjoy themselves if I’m in the room).