Shaking off an identity (Recovering from depression)

identity-confusion-1p9c0my

For the first time since my depression first set in around eleven years ago, I feel that I am really making positive steps towards a recovery. I’m not experiencing the same crushing hopelessness and despair that I was feeling up until just over a year ago. I am managing relatively well on a day-to-day basis at keeping my mood steady. I think my relationship with Fleur has been the main contribution towards this recovery, with added help from my anti-depressants, improved social life and stronger financial situation.

The big issue I am having is with shaking off my identity of eleven years. For most of my adolescence and almost half of my life, I have identified as somebody that struggles with depression and anxiety. It has been so integral to my personality that I would often use it as an excuse for myself, or to celebrate as an obstacle that I had overcome. So when such a large part of my personality is no longer present, who do I become?

Whilst I know that living with depression and anxiety is far from unusual, I almost feel as though those conditions made me something. Without those characteristics, I am nothing. I am just a plain, boring person, moving through life leaving no real impression. I want to have some meaning – even if it is only to myself.

As a result of these thoughts, it is difficult to no longer identify as somebody who is mentally unwell. I was thinking about my depression just the other day when I had to realise that I’m not really depressed now and I was making it up inside my own head. Whilst I don’t want to be depressed or anxious, the diagnosis is something of a safety blanket to me.

I hope that at some point in the future I will no longer look at myself in this way. The trouble is that I can’t see how I would look at myself. Would I look at myself as energetic, healthy…balanced? I just don’t picture it.

Can I Want To Live?

i-dont-want-to-live-on-this-planet-anymore-11372-2560x1600-1024x640

Whilst my mental health is generally improving (as a trend) and I am far more happy and comfortable than I have been in a long time, I still don’t want to live. It’s quite rare now that I actively think about suicide (at least in the near future) but I can’t deny it is still part of my plan.

Whilst I was at work yesterday a discussion about pensions and preparing for retirement came about and it really made me anxious. I know that retirement is a very long way off for me, but thinking about the future fills me with panic because I’ve never planned on having one. I tend not to worry about my health or finances a long way down the line because it has always been in my mind that I would kill myself one day. Whilst I continue to believe that I will not really have a future, it makes it difficult for me to plan or prepare for one.

I would say that at the moment I am not really depressed. My medication is doing a relatively good job of keeping my mood up and my circumstances are fairly good. Despite this, I’m not really interested in being alive. If I had the choice of waking up tomorrow or passing away quietly in my sleep, I would choose the later. Why do I want to die if I’m not feeling depressed? Will this feeling ever change, or will I always choose death over life?

Regaining My Self Control

selfcontrol2

As a Dominant in a relationship, maintaining self-control is incredibly important, because if you are unable to keep control over your own life and behaviour, how can you really expect somebody else to trust you to control theirs?

For quite a while my self-control had been very strong; I was training for a marathon, so I eating well and keeping myself in great physical form, I had reasonable control over my finances and was getting myself into a much more stable situation, my carer was going very well and I was very happy in my relationship.

Unfortunately, quite recently I have been having problems keeping this up. I’m not really sure what it was that triggered it, but I am aware that I can have addictive and obsessive personality traits which sprout from my mental health issues. I seemed to take a bit of a dip, which could very well be attributed to having to stop my anti-depressant medication for a while – things seem to be improving again now that I am back on them thankfully. During this lapse of self-control I was significantly increasing my alcohol consumption, spending money more carelessly, eating more unhealthily and accessing porn more frequently – It seemed that I was on somewhat of a hedonistic rampage! As I mentioned in a previous post (read here) I was even considering cheating on my girlfriend and got so far as to email some escorts. Fortunately I managed to hold myself back from going through with anything.

The whole experience exposed some doubts within me. I’m not really sure whether I can be a good Dominant if I experience these lapses in self-control. Perhaps as somebody that experiences mental health problems I am ill-suited to be a Dominant? Or is it that I am expecting too much of myself?

I’m not a part of a local scene as my girlfriend wouldn’t want to, but I wish I could be for situations like this. It would be good to chat with other Dominant’s and learn from their experiences.

I’ve Come a Long Way

youve-come-a-long-way-baby

It’s now a year ago that I started this blog and the journey has been very therapeutic. Writing about the big events and issues that I’m having allows me to see them from a different perspective and get a grasp on how best to proceed. The blog has changed a fair bit since I first started writing it, but I believe only really because of how much my situation has changed over the past twelve months.

Looking back over my first post (you can read it here) it is interesting to see how much of a different place I am in now. I’m fairly happy at the moment. I’m still battling aspects of my depression from time to time (more about this soon) but I mostly seem to be on top of things now. I hardly ever think of suicide these days and I’m not currently self-destructing – quite the opposite in fact.

I don’t believe that these days are behind me forever – I’m wiser than that. I’ve been in and out of episodes of depression for around eleven years and there is still something alluring about self-destructing to me. It is a part of my soul (or at least would be if I believed in souls). I’m not consciously fighting any lapse into depression as I don’t think it would really be of much use; I’m just focussing on getting through, day by day, and trying to enjoy my time.

I didn’t think for a moment when I wrote that post that in a years time I would be alive, let alone fairly happy and in a rewarding relationship. The idea of being in a relationship with somebody that is content to adopt the submissive role and play out scenes for me was something from my wildest dreams. I have that now, and whilst it’s not perfect and I definitely want a lot more, I am being patient and enjoying what I am getting.

I’d like to thank everybody that has read/commented on my blog. Your input has been helpful and interesting and it is a pleasure to know that my endeavours are of interest to some. My original intent was to create this blog to catalogue my final days of self-destruction and leave some evidence of a side of me that nobody sees – I was never concerned about anybody reading it. I now continue to capture the hidden side of my life and I relish the thought of people reading and enjoying it. I like the idea of writing to excite others, whilst remaining completely true to myself and I will continue to do this.

I Will Be Living Alone

images

Lying in bed on Saturday morning, Fleur and I had a chat. I asked her whether she had decided if she wanted to move in together or not, and she had decided that she wouldn’t at this time. She was insistent that she would like to live together and she would be happy enough to live with somebody before marriage – the problem was that, due to her religious beliefs, if she lives with someone, they have to be the one that she will marry so that it is not a sin. She is fairly confident in our relationship, but she isn’t sure enough yet to take that risk.

Her decision hit me pretty hard, largely because of the fact that she had previously said yes. I’d got myself excited about living with her, having a better place to live, somebody to share with more, being less lonely and being more financially secure. I thought that I was moving into the next stage of my life and growing up a lot. I was going to be living more comfortably, and preparing myself for any further steps – marriage, house ownership etc. Having that ripped away has left me deflated and stressed.

I’ve spoken with my current landlord and I’m free to move out of my current flat basically whenever I like, up to the 26th August, and they’ll adjust my rent accordingly. They’ve also said that I can take whatever furniture I want with me as it is only being scrapped otherwise. Whilst all of this is helpful, I’m really stressed because I’m struggling to find any suitable properties to rent anywhere near my price limit. All of the places I’ve found so far are quite a bit more expensive than my current place, which will be a real stretch. When you add in the fees, the moving costs and the settling costs, it’s going to put me out quite a lot I think. I’ve been saving to go to Canada next year and was actually doing quite well. I’m devastated that I might suddenly have to lose everything I have saved for basically nothing.

I just want to get sorted as soon as possible and settle back down. This underlying uncertainty and tension is difficult to cope with at the moment.

Low Sex Drive

libido

I don’t really know what’s causing it, but I seem to have a fairly low sex drive right now. After waiting all this time to be in a relationship again, now I’m in one, most of the time I seem to just want to cuddle and sleep, rather than engage in oral sex with Fleur. I don’t really understand it because whilst being very inexperienced, after the first time, she has given nothing but incredible blow jobs that have given me the best orgasms of my life!

There’s a few possible causes for this loss in sex drive and I kind of want to know which are contributing factors and which aren’t. The first is my medication. I’ve currently been taking 20mg of Paroxetine for depression for about three months. In the first few weeks of taking it, I had noticed it was significantly more difficult to achieve orgasm, but that no longer seems to be a problem. Decreased libido is one of the listed side-effects of the drug, so I do wonder if it is causing the problem?

Another possible cause is my age. I know I’m only 25, so a waning sex drive shouldn’t really be on my list of problems, but in truth I have nothing to compare my current libido to, other than my libido from when I was in a relationship over five years ago. Could it just be that I’m not as horny as I was when I was 19 simply because I’ve grown up?

One more possibility is the nature of my relationship with Fleur. I’ve always been the one to initiate any sexual contact between us. Whilst I have no problems taking charge (in fact it can be a turn on in a trusting relationship), I am slightly concerned that I’m coercing her into doing something she doesn’t want. I worry that she is feeling obligated to return the favour whenever I go down on her and that she doesn’t really want to have any form of sexual relationship (mostly because of her religious beliefs). I don’t know if my sex drive would be higher if Fleur was to initiate things once in a while?

Self-Inflicted Sexual Frustration

sexual frustration

Fleur stayed over at my place last night. She’s stayed a couple of times before over the weekend, but this was the first time she’d stayed midweek. Her dad is away on business this week, so she didn’t fancy being home alone. I met her off the train at 10.30pm and we went back to mine. She had a little bit more work to do, so I chilled for an hour whilst she finished off, then we went to bed.

Things got steamier than previously in the bedroom. For the first time we were both naked above the waist whilst making out. I enjoyed seeing and playing with her breasts properly for the first time. I tried to go down on her a couple of times, but she kept grabbing my head and pulling me back up. She explained that she didn’t feel comfortable enough for me to do that yet. I did stroke her clit through her pants, which by her convulsions she seemed to enjoy a lot. Fleur is very quiet in the bedroom which will take some getting used to (the only girl I’ve been with before was very loud).

After finishing with her, Fleur asked me what she could do for me. It wasn’t the first time she had asked, but it was the first time that I would have considered going ahead with it. She kept apologising for her inexperience and saying that she probably wouldn’t be very good, but she wants to give me pleasure. I wouldn’t let her. I’m rather anxious and embarrassed about the mess from ejaculation. It never really used to be a problem for me before….but then most of the time I was having penetrative sex using a condom, so mess wasn’t as much of a big issue. It’s over 5 years since anybody has touched my penis and whilst I really want her to pleasure me and to enjoy myself, I won’t let it happen.

I’m not sure what the root of the problem is. I think there are at least two factors at play;
1. I don’t want to make a mess and feel gross, potentially grossing her out too and scaring her off and,
2. I’m really insecure and don’t feel like I can have an equal relationship with somebody. I always have to give more than I receive because I feel like it will make me more likeable.

It’s really frustrating me because I’ve finally got what I’ve been wanting for for so long – a sexual relationship with a beautiful girl I care about (OK, so it’s not sexual intercourse, but we are doing sexual things) but I’m not making the most of it. Any advice anyone?

How Much Is My Mental Health Linked To My Identity?

identitycrisis-copy_860

Life has been much better for me of late. Since the very end of 2013 when I woke up one morning and my depressive episode seemed to be at an end, I have had much more positivity and energy. This positivity and energy have resulted in me spending more time with the people close to me and getting more involved in my hobbies, which in turn makes me feel even better.

As I prepare for my next appointment with my psychiatrist (this coming Monday) I’ve been thinking carefully about where I currently am. I realised that, at this current time, I wouldn’t describe myself as depressed. I wouldn’t say I’m happy. I do have more moments of happiness than I would during a depressive episode, but I think my mood could stand to be a bit better. I’m not currently depressed though. I sleep fine, I see friends, I regularly enjoy my hobbies and I’m eating healthily. I still have negative thoughts sometimes and my concentration aren’t great, but I’m not sure this is enough to be classed as clinically depressed.

In addition to this, whilst I do continue to have a bit of a problem with anxiety, which makes me very uncomfortable, I don’t think I can really say that it impedes my day-to-day life. I’m still able to do everything that I need to do, just sometimes it isn’t very pleasant.

This is the first time in a very long time that I’ve felt this good. It has left me concerned that a big part of my identity has been lost. My mental illness has been so defining for my character, that if I’m no longer suffering from a mental illness, I’m not sure who I am any more? I sort of feel like I would be less of a person for no longer having that obstacle to overcome. I would no longer have that excuse to hide behind. I would be completely exposed and vulnerable. I thought I wanted to recover, but I’m left feeling somewhat uncomfortable and lost.

I’m Alcohol Free

S9452

You may recall my post from early last month about cutting down the amount I drink (if not, you can read it here). At the time I was finding it very difficult to stop drinking because I had strong cravings. During my darkest times at the end of last year I was drinking 5-6 days a week, and normally at least a couple of strong drinks each time. I had grown pretty dependent on it.

I’m pleased to say that with a few hard days of battling the craving, I came through the other side (with one slip up) and I’ve now been pretty much alcohol free for a whole month! I no longer struggle with the craving to have an alcoholic drink and can happily sit down for the evening with a mug of tea. My intention was never to give up alcohol completely, just to cut down, so I’ll be having a drink or two this weekend, but most of my drinking I do now seems to be social, whereas before it was nearly always when alone.

I think that cutting out the alcohol has helped contribute to my weight loss plan too. I’m not overweight, but I wanted to lose a bit of fat from around my gut and my face to feel more attractive. Over the past couple of years I’d put on a bit of fat due to my decreased activity and increased drinking. I’m now starting to notice that my gut is not as big and hopefully by keeping up my slightly stricter diet and the increased exercise I’m doing, I’ll be able to get rid of the fat completely. It will really help me with Fleur if I am less self-conscious about my body. I want to be as attractive for her as I possibly can be.

Separating the Variables

variables

I’m feeling better. When I say better, I don’t mean fully recovered, I just mean better than I was. Since just before Christmas, I’ve now longer felt suicidal and at great risk to myself, and I’ve generally had a more positive attitude and a bit more energy too. This is really great for me. I really didn’t think I’d pull through my last major depressive episode, it was probably the lowest I’ve been before.

The problem I face now is identifying which changes in my life have helped aid recovery, and which made no real difference. Any time that I come out of a depressive episode, there are always multiple changes to my life. Some of these changes might contribute to me coming out of the episode and some might be a result of me coming out of the episode.

Take right now for example; For the past two weeks I have been taking Paroxetine 20mg (apparently long enough to start feeling the positive effects), I have been running more in preparation for a marathon later this year, I am on a new, stricter diet, I’ve near enough given up alcohol, I’ve been taking part in my hobbies more regularly and I’ve just started a new relationship.

When I go to see my psychiatrist in a couple of weeks, they’re going to ask how I am getting on with the Paroxetine and ask whether I’ve noticed any positive effects. I’m going to have to say that I have been doing slightly better, but I don’t actually believe the Paroxetine has had any positive effect. The psychiatrist will take what they want from my feedback, but I doubt they will agree with me that it hasn’t helped at all (based on my previous experiences). I’m even of the opinion that Paroxetine has caused me more problems, such as my worsening concentration.

I personally attribute the complete right angle my life has taken over the past few weeks to a mental shift of unknown cause. I really did just wake up one morning, no longer in my depressive episode. I still don’t consider myself to be well right now, but I’m not sure if I could describe myself as depressed. What I need to know is the cause of my mental shift and if there is anything I can do to stop them in the future?