Coronavirus thoughts and guest posts #2

The second contribution to my request for guest blogs during this pandemic comes from an unexpected source. I reached out to her personally and asked her to write as I know she is still working incredibly hard as a carer/support worker. One of the wonderful people we clap for on a Thursday night.

Debbie has been a great friend for the last 7 or 8 years and is a huge supporter of this blog so it’s an honour for me that she gave up some of her precious time to write for me and you.

A gentle reminder if you would like to write anything about how this lockdown period is affecting you please contact me via facebook, twitter, Instagram or email direct at thedepressedmoose@hotmail.com.

Over to you Debbie, and thank you once again…..

Lockdown for a Support Worker

Day #7264869, or whatever time, day, month or year it ACTUALLY is!!

I am a Support Worker, supporting adults with learning disabilities and autism, so I still have to go to work, just the same as I did before the lockdown.
I work in a community that has supported living houses and flats, and I work in a house where there are 8 vulnerable adults living there, all with different needs and personal challenges, all cooped up under one roof. As you can imagine, it can be a bit chaotic on a “normal” day, when people have the routine of workshops, day centres, 1-1 times out shopping, etc, never mind in lockdown, when this routine has abruptly stopped!!!

For a lot of the people we support, they lack the full capacity to understand WHY this has happened. As support workers, it is our job to go to work and try to keep them focussed and positive and occupied, in a time when we don’t have the answers to the questions that they keep asking…

”When can I go and see my family?”,

“When can I go and do my own shopping?”,

“Why can’t I go for a drive out to the seaside/cinema/pub?”

It can be very difficult, and when you are on long shifts, sleepovers or night shifts, and you get these questions SEVERAL times each shift, by each person we support, it can be very emotionally draining, but, we keep our “professional” heads on and try to explain it for the hundredth time, in a way that will pacify each person. (For a short time, anyway).

BUT….When we go home, how do WE cope with the sudden change in everyday life? How do WE keep positive and focussed, when all around us is uncertainty? I live alone, with only my dog as company, as my kids have flown the nest and have built lives of their own, for which I am immensely proud. After all, that’s a Mother’s job, isn’t it? To teach her fledglings to fend for themselves? Job Done!!!!!!

When the lockdown was first introduced, I was like, “Well it’s not going to make a difference to my routine. All I do anyway, is go to work, come home, walk the dog and do my shopping, and I will just be doing exactly the same!”. And I am really comfortable in my own company, so it won’t affect me……

Here we are, over a month later, and YES, my routine is still the same; YES, I am still comfortable in my own company; BUT….I am not allowed to pop and see the kids, nor are they allowed to pop and see me. 😦 I still, very briefly, and from a distance, see my eldest daughter and her husband, as they take care of my dog when I am on long shifts, so we do a “poochy handover”, but, it’s not the same.

I NEED to hug my kids, feel them close, kiss them, spend time with them for a catch up, and it is THAT which I am really struggling with!! Some days, I sit, and my mind goes into overdrive, as I am sure it does with a lot of people, and I end up with a train of thought that takes me through dark tunnels…

What if the lockdown continues for a LONG time?

What if I take ill at home, on my own, unable to raise the alarm?

What if something happens to one of my kids, and I can’t be there?

This is what scares me, raises my anxieties. My kids are my life, without them, I have no purpose. I need them. I think, in all honesty, these thoughts and feelings have always been there since my final fledgling flew the nest, but I could go and see them when I wanted to, and this was my safety net. That safety net has been taken away, and I now realise that going to work, keeping that routine, has become my new safety net.

When I go to work, I don’t have time to overthink, I am too busy. When I go to work, I get the social interaction with others. When I go to work, I have some ‘normality’. I am VERY lucky to still be able to go to work. I am VERY lucky that it only takes me 15 minutes to walk to work. I am VERY lucky to work in such a beautiful community, in such beautiful surroundings, and to be able to go for long walks with the people we support, whilst remaining inside that community.

This is what keeps ME focussed. This is what keeps ME positive. This is what helps ME to do my job properly, knowing that the people we support are safe, happy and busy. I know not everyone is in such a privileged position, and I have realised that, if I couldn’t go to work, MY mental health would deteriorate rapidly!! So I am so very thankful to be a Support Worker…..

The trouble with me

Being stuck indoors gives me plenty of time to lose myself in my thoughts, as someone with low self esteem that’s not always a good thing. Its all to easy to be unkind to yourself and find fault in every aspect of your appearance and characteristics. This isnt some sort of pity party whereby I expect lots of compliments to be thrown back at me, but more of a brutally honest self analysis and reflection of how, right or wrong, I view myself because how we see ourselves isnt how others do…

Firstly I need to accept that I’m no longer the man I was, by this I mean that despite wishing I was a young attractive man in my 20s I have to accept the reality of being in my early 40s, heavier than I’d like to be and far less of a catch than I’d like to admit. I have a huge issue with my weight but not enough love doe myself, let alone discipline to do anything about it. That’s before factoring the issues with my knees, the recent fibromyalgia diagnosis has helped to a degree with this as it’s not just “in my head”

The fact is I would love to be more active, i was a footballer in my younger days yet haven’t kicked a ball in a decade. I try exercising but it comes at a cost. The tough mudder, the 10k runs etc were huge achievements for me but they were followed by weeks of intense sleep depriving pain. I work in a pub full time 5 days a week of 8 hours being on my feet cripple me beyond words at times but I do it because I have to have that routine and structure in my world. My colleagues and the majority of customers keep me going and I’m grateful that I work with some great people.

But still the person I see in the mirror daily is not the person I think I am. I dont recognise him. I’d love to look at myself and not be disgusted by the chins, the grey hair…the old man looking back at me. If you asked me the one thing I like about me it’s my green eyes..even they are tired, drained and dont bloody work properly. Dont even get me started on wearing glasses, never liked them and never will. Yet I struggle with wearing contacts as my eyes dry out quickly, I am noticeably more confident wearing contacts.

When it comes to my weight its been a struggle for the past 10 years or so, linked to the real start of pain that made me have to give up playing football on a Saturday, if you play on Saturday and cant walk till Wednesday then what is the point? and that’s where I found myself.

Mix that in with being a comfort eater and it equals a bit of a mess to say the least. When it comes to food I have very limited likes, oh to be precise im a fussy bastard. I’ve never even had a curry in my life! Throw me some crisps and chocolate and you have a friend for life, try throwing me something green and healthy and ill possibly throw it straight back.

I made the mistake of weighing myself today, the scales are liars dirty liars!

Since lockdown I have gained 7 lbs and as of today I weigh 17 and 1/2 stone 245lbs! thats not quite the biggest I’ve been but in those days I was heavily depressed and barely left the bed let alone worked full time like I do now. Does it make me want to eat less? in theory yes but then the chocolate and crisps started calling me again..

So as you as can tell physically I have one or two issues with myself. Despite that I still live in hope of meeting someone who makes effort with me and will help me becomes a better person. Encouragement is key, effort is key and just a bit more patience is required because fundamentally, beneath the flaws I am fucking awesome. I just need to see it again

But therein lies the trouble with me, if you are what you eat…. I’m a bar of dairy milk and a packet of walkers crisps

Mentally a lot of the demons have long since gone, baggage carried eventually becomes a part of you no matter how hard you try, especially when you have been through traumatic experiences. I have no issues with my personality traits, others might have but that’s a whole different blog post in itself. I’m crude, I’m offensive and very near the line at times but that’s part of the package that is the moose, or Garry if you prefer (I answer to both)

A friend recently told me to not give up on finding someone, it’s been nearly 6 years since my last date. I may not tick a lot of boxes these days but I’m worth a risk. At the very least a bit of effort…

And maybe just maybe the effort from others will make the difference and allow me to finally accept that if someone can make the time to take a chance on a fat grey haired cynical old moose then he really isnt all that bad after all

Coronavirus thoughts and guest posts #1

On my facebook page I extended an invitation to my followers to write about how this strange period of time and the impact it has, and is having.

This works two fold from my point of view. Hopefully it will increase exposure to my blog and get me inspired again, and secondly it could help other people get their thoughts and feelings out there to share with others.

It could also be a great way to connect with new people.. so if you would like to contribute contact me and I happily post on here

So this morning I was delighted to receive an email from someone known only as “The Anonymous Fox”. I have no idea who this person is, where they are from but how lovely it is to be able to share this with you.

Another day, another thought – and those might not worth a penny. Forgive me for I am just babbling from my nearly-asleep state of mind. In every situation there is a part of good and a part of bad, even now.I am an optimistic, I am a smile, I am a laugh, I am the will to always keep going on. I am the shoulder and I am the strong one. And yet, I am not unbreakable.A very wise wizard once said that happiness can always be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.I did find myself in dark times. Once, twice, many times. I was in one of these before the world starts shutting down and, in a weird way, it might have helped me.Quarantine is hard, no one likes the cold feeling of loneliness. It might be hard to NOT be alone in lockdown, stuck with an annoying flatmate or worse. It might be hard to keep your mind away from the thoughts you fight when you cannot work anymore. On the model of Rapunzel in her tower, you read, you paint, you write, you dance. I do. I finish a book and I cry, good tears, tears for the story, not my own tears. I enjoy the sun, burning my skin, and it reminds me good memories. I paint, so I can share, I can create, I can tell my mother that I am doing something of my time. I listen to sad songs, I cry over the map of life not being as clear and precise as I want it to be. But then I listen to happy song, songs that make me feel a sunshine in my heart. I drink coffee and wine and eat chocolate, because I do exercise now and it make me feel less guilty. I play with the cat, scratch her furry belly and feel the love in her eyes. She doesn’t understand why I am at home so much, but she seems to like it. I feel important in someone’s life.Sure, I am bored. Sure, I want to smother the dragon I have in place of a flatmate. Sure, I am worried about my future. Sure, I miss my family.But I weirdly feel more alive since my life as I knew it stopped.I am not familiar with depression. I cannot speak a universal truth. I don’t have any magic. But I know for sure that taking a step back, using this lockdown and social distancing, might be a good time to focus on yourself and which simples moments make you whole.Pavares said “you do not remember days, you remember moments”Turn on the light and try on anything. You might be missing on something stupid but that will yet make your heart smile for once.Turn this situation around and make it your own mind vacation     –  A. F. “

Isolation and Mental Health

My last post on here was written in July whilst sitting on a balcony in Majorca, amazing how much has changed since those days isn’t it. I’ve tried writing so many times to update my situation and thoughts, feelings and all other inane stuff that has become my life these days but the block has been strong so here I go…free writing, trying not to over think it and letting the words do the work.  

This lockdown is brutal. The first week was a novelty thing of having time off work, being lazy and staying indoors but a month later and the walls are closing in. I miss the social interaction that I thrive on. I need people in my life and feed off the laughter, eye rolling and, often, shock that comes from conversation with my friends, colleagues, customers or just random people when I’m out on the tiles..

Sitting around in my room is not great for a people person. So you would think it would be the perfect opportunity to take this time for writing and distraction and maybe I’ve put to much pressure on myself to do just that.

Exercising daily is tough on my knees. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia recently which was a relief because the problems with my body failing me has been a massive issue over the past few years. I try walking but one hours walking equates to two days of pain… some days are better than others. I manage to hold down a full time job despite the pain but not having the structure of working means most days I’m just stuck at home. I go to work because it keeps me going,  I was out of work for 7 years due to depression and I need to be out there working for my own sanity. I love my job, my colleagues are great to work alongside and as much as I may get pissed off with some aspects of bar work it’s a great line of work for a sociable person like me.

The struggle is real people, not just for me but for millions around the world and we are a long way from returning to “normal” so how are some of you coping with isolation? I’m keen to know what tips you can share with others. Are you learning more about yourself?

From that perspective I’ve grown massively over the last 3 years in terms of how I see myself and the qualities that I have. Low self esteem is, and probably always will be an issue for me. It’s part of why I dont write as much, feeling like people are not interested in what I have to say because I look at the numbers of views, compared to say 7 years ago and it’s gone from hundreds a day to a few a month.  Obviously it’s because the output isnt there, if there is nothing to read people cant view it… try telling my brain that.

So hopefully this can be the start of using a talent that I’ve ignored for too long.

Remembering how many lives I’ve touched and could reach again could be just the kick up the arse I need and I need to thank Antonella and James for the kind words in this regard.

I’ve got time on my hands, maybe I can use it for writing instead of stuffing my face but that’s another story…

Let’s get the moose #famoose again…

See you in the comments

Moose’s 30 days..day 5

Having posted for 4 consecutive days for the first time in 5 years you might think I would be running out of things to be thankful for, that the positive thinking well would be running dry by now but if truth be told it has reminded me of the fact that I have actually got a talent when it comes to writing.

When I started writing this back in 2012 I never envisioned the impact it would have on people, let alone dragging me through extreme dark days yet 7 years later I’m still writing and people are still reading.

I’m very proud of what this little blog has achieved in terms of helping people talk about depression especially men, and I feel very humble at the number of messages I’ve received over the years from strangers, many now friends, reaching out to me for help.

My books have sold approximately 1000 copies across paperback and kindle formats. Let’s just take a second and reflect on that!!

Me? 1000 copies sold? Beggars belief

It’s no 50 shades lol and I’m not at the retirement and living of the royalties stage but it’s certainly something I’m very very proud of, there are even signed copies of my books out there lol selling on Ebay for a few pence no doubt

Whilst the blogging about mental health bubble seems to have burst somewhat it’s still good to see others still writing, sharing experiences and encouraging people to talk, when I started there were very few men writing about depression and in my own head I see myself as a trailblazer (no matter how depressed I am the ability to blow my own trumpet never wavers)

700 followers is huge in my eyes so a massive thank you to everyone who reads, shares, comments and encourages me.

Theres more to come be it good,bad,happy or sad…stay tuned, keep reading and know how thankful I am to you all

Moose’s 30 days…day 3

Day 3 is all about working and being thankful that I can hold down a job. Having not been able to work for 5 years I have now been almost continuously working for 3 years, the majority of that time in the post office and now in my new job and in that time I haven’t missed a single day due to my depression.

No matter how low I’ve felt, the shit from a nasty break up and the emotional fall out from it I have pushed myself every day to get out of bed, put on my bestest smile and gone to work.

I love my new job, working in a pub is ideal for the shy, unassuming moose you all know and love. Ok that shy and unassuming bit is a tiny white lie.

I’m socializing whilst working mixing with people and as someone who bounces off others it’s a great position for me to be in.

The Railway Bell is my go to place, I’ve been drinking in here for over 20 years but having moved back into the area I started coming back in here about 12 months ago. The place has had a great refit and the staff here are wonderful. I was coming here on my own and instead of ignoring this new, devilishly handsome man who kept emptying the fruit machines, I was made to feel welcome and part of the furniture very quickly. Now I work here and love the people and the job (still working on loving the hours though)

It’s nice to be working again it keeps me out of bed, out of my own head and of course gives me some hard earned money to waste on junk food, ciggies and alcohol.. win win!!

Moose’s 30 days..Day 2

Day 2 is all about pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Last month I took part in a tough mudder and the Vitality 10k in London.

I used to be sporty, playing football 7 days a week until I suffered an injury which took 2 operations to make worse ( not that I’m bitter about it of course)

In terms of exercising I can run about 200 yards before the pain kicks in. Yet I completed both events. I didnt quit despite every bone, muscle and joint screaming at me to stop.

10k and tough mudder completed

It wasnt about proving others wrong. It was all about proving myself wrong. Showing myself that if I set my mind to a challenge I can get through it no matter the hurdles, no matter the pain. The sense of pride I felt at the finish line made the agony worth it.

Having said that 6 days on from the 10k and I’m still walking like I’ve shit myself but sacrifices are needed at times.

Moose’s 30 days….day 1

I’m down in the dumps lately and there is no simple explanation for it. A combination of factors keeping the clouds overhead.

So I’ve made a promise to my best friend that I will be positive from now on in the hope it bring about a change in luck and attitude.

I dont write at all these days, I feel like no one reads it or wants to know my shit when we all have our own issues and demons to deal with. Of course that’s not the case, I’m an inspiration to others I’m #famoose!!

So here’s the deal, you keep reading, sharing, liking, commenting and I will keep writing….

30 days of positives, 30 days of posting all the good things i have in my life, things i have done to be proud of etc etc

This way you can write back with your positive things, let’s focus on what we have rather than what we dont have….. and I have so many good things if I step back and open my eyes

#mooses30days

#positivethinking

Day 1

Friends and family

I have amazing friends. Special people who put up with my impulsiveness, dad dancing, cocktail drinking, sarcasm, womanizing (in my head only lol) and general rollercoaster emotional state.

Without them I’d be a long time gone.

Thanks Amy, Karl, Sonny, Antonella, Mary and Maria in particular. Always supportive, never judgemental and absolutely blunt when needed.

My amazing kids Brandon and Lilybet, my sister Amy and my new family at the Railway Bell. Colleagues or punters all part of an exciting new circle of people in my life that I’m enjoying being a part of…

Thank you all!!!

May not always show gratitude but I try when I can…

One Tough Mudder Moose

Impulsive, reckless, brave, stupid and “what the fuck were you thinking?”

Just a few of the things said to me when I told people I had signed up to do a tough mudder.

I was also told that I’d never be able to finish it, told by my physiotherapist not to do it because of injury.

On top if that imagine how many times i tried to talk myself out of doing it. My anxiety and depression playing tricks with my head telling me that I wouldnt be able to do it, I’d chicken out and find an excuse not to turn up.

WRONG!!!

As my best friends will tell you this moose is one stubborn fucker when he wants to be. I had something to prove to a lot of people but most importantly I had something to prove to myself.

It hurt, it hurt a fucking lot. I had to push till adrenaline kicked in to take the pain away and ride it out.

I was with a group of around 100 men and women from the 30+ fitness community and foxes. If you need to find a family to push/motivate and encourage you to get exercising this is the place for you. They have female only groups too.

Go to https://www.30plusmensfitness.com/ and see if there are groups near you. I know there are some in Essex, Cardiff, Hereford, Berkshire and North London and cannot recommend them enough. It’s a family full of support not just for exercising but mental health support to. Without this group I would not have completed the hardest physical challenge I’ve ever attempted.

I did 10 miles yesterday and had an absolute blast and felt very proud of myself for not giving up and getting over the finish line. In 3 weeks I’m going the vitality 10k in London and it will be a breeze compared to the tough mudder.

I’m trying to raise money for Mind in these challenges if you would like to sponsor me please click here

On to the next challenge and maybe signing up for next years tough mudder…

Exercise and depression…good and bad

It’s well documented that exercise can help with depression, producing endorphins that improve your mental health and for me personally my drop in good mental health coincided with an injury that stopped me going to the 30+ fitness sessions.

Despite my size I actually enjoy exercising and the 30+ group are wonderful. Banter, great group of blokes and very supportive coaches but the problems are that my body isnt as willing or able as the mind.

In this sense exercise is bad for my depression because I cant do it! And I’m desperate too.

I’m seeing a physiotherapist fortnightly to get to the root of 3 injuries, each one stopping me from doing what I want and need to do!

And its driving me fucking mad. Cant do boxing due to shoulder/neck problem, cant do running cos of knees and struggling to do too much cardio cos of my glutes!!

Back in the day I was a half decent footballer, before I became the shape of a ball, and I’m pretty sure without the knee injury and subsequent operation at 17 I would have made it as a professional. Therein lies the root of my frustration at my inability to do basic things like go for a jog without breaking down 200 yards later.

I want to exercise, I want to feel the euphoric buzz of pushing myself again. It makes my depression take a back seat and improves my mood, my self esteem and my faith in myself.

Are these injuries psychological? Dont get me wrong the pain feels real enough as my late night dash to A and E proved, but is it more a case of my head playing tricks on me?

All I know is that within the next 8 weeks I have to do a tough mudder and a 10k run and it’s going to kill me. I went for a jog (using the term loosely) and couldn’t walk for 2 fucking days. I WILL complete both events but at what cost?

It’s getting me down massively, I’m not working and my sleep pattern is shot to shit and I’m on a slippery slope and that’s why I need the exercise routine again for my own sanity. Obviously not being a fat bastard is a big incentive too but forgetting the physical aspects I need the mental health benefits more.

Its frustrating the hell out of me!!!