Singers Sing, Dancers Dance

And writers write!

This was originally posted on another site of mine. Updated and improved now.

I’m a writer and I love feeling creative and believe I have a talent for writing. I get a buzz from sharing my writing and being confident enough in my ability to write and make it interesting and engaging for you the reader.

Having taken time out for a few weeks and dealing with other shit in my life I can feel my creative juices flowing again and feel ready to start blogging again.

I wont talk about the past 10 months its a period of time that I have processed and consigned to the history books. I’ve accepted my faults and my failings, my share of the blame and now its gone. No more feelings no more anger no more pain no emotion at all about whats happened. I’m gonna have bad days naturally but its more important how I deal with them than reflecting on “what ifs”

Right now I’m in a good place and feel happy. Im not gonna stop doing what I enjoy and I’m going to unshackle myself from negativity and focus on myself only.

I am lucky enough to have some very good friends who haven’t turned their backs on me but encourage, listen and advise in equal measure and i know they will be happy to see me writing again.

Today im free, happy and positive and I intend to stay that way. Im changing my habitual negativity and reinforcing all the good in my life.

Lets see what the dating world has to offer. Lets see how I do with reconnecting with lost friends and more importantly lets see how this new mindset changes my life for the better.

I want to be known as someone who openly talks about depression again. Not as a victim but as a survivor, someone people look up to and who people can turn to.

I stood up in a room full of strangers and spoke about my admiration and respect for anyone who has been like me, suicidal and rock bottom yet says “fuck you” every morning and gets on with it no matter what. Do you know what happened? Spontaneous applause.

5 or 6 years ago there were a lot more blogs about depression, now there seems to be very few, especially from men. The more awareness about mental health generated over that period has been great yet still there is stigma and misunderstanding about it. I talk to people about depression and they seem surprised how bad I was years ago. That’s the beauty of being able to laugh, joke and smile on the outside when inside you’re screaming for release.

Keep going keep trying and the bad day last 24 hours only. I cant predict what’s around the corner, change of career, more books, acting? Who knows and right now my focus is on day by day.

But I can promise you all this. If you need someone to talk to, someone to just listen or offer advice then you simply find me on facebook or Twitter and my inbox is always open. No matter whats going on in my life I always make sure im available for others. Pay it forward! People are there for me when I need them and the offer is reciprocated.

I hope to write more often again, not just about my feelings etc but to inspire people. I spent 5 years unable to work because of mental health and now I’m working full time. I hope to share some tips that help me. It doesnt mean to say what works for me will work for others but as i say to people “own your illness, dont let it define you and take control” and thats half the battle.

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The Depressed Moose and My Return

Updated 22nd April.

There was a time when my old persona saved my life, and that of others too. Writing about my battle with depression, sharing it with so many people and ultimately becoming a mental health campaigner and someone who was “known” in that social media world – or #famoose if you would prefer is still something that fills me with an enormous sense of pride and happiness. It was a time in my life where I made a difference to others, inspired others, helped others and achieved things that were beyond my expectations all despite being depressed.

My blog was successful in terms of numbers, I was asked multiple times to write pieces for the press and even had my face on material for Mind. It is a period of my life that I am incredibly proud of. I turned readers of my blog into amazing friends who are still with me to this day.

I walked away from that world, gave up writing completely and moved on with my life depression free and happy again. I met and fell in love with an amazing woman and the future looked bright.

Life doesn’t always work the way we plan and dream about and after 3 and a half years the amazing woman has become a stranger. The relationship broke down my heart broke and my world was turned upside down. The reasons behind it no longer matter she has her truth, I have my truth and life goes on.

I rebuilt from a failed marriage, a suicide attempt and years of depression, I will rebuild again and emerge stronger, happier and a better person once more. I fought to save a relationship that ultimately was doomed. Fought against the advice of friends and family because I refused to listen and see what was really happening.

Eventually we reach a point where we have had enough and realise our own value and worth. My limits were breached time and time again because I was beginning to believe I deserved it. Regardless of this and who is to blame I am at that stage whereby I’ve got over it. I deserve faithfulness, respect and honesty and wont accept less.

So where does this leave me? For starters I’m a worker moose now! For 5 years I was unable to work but I have been in the same job now for 18 months. Despite the negatives of the way it ended the relationship did help me in many ways, my depression has been gone for years and Im able to work daily without sickness leave or mental health worries and those positives are the ones I will take away from it.

I was unable to be “moose” but now I can return to my online persona as well as maintaining Garry and my mental health is always under control.

From the confines of the spare room at my mums at the age of 39 I will rebuild and find love, happiness and be someone who helps, inspires and makes a difference once again.

It’s My Birthday… Two Today!

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of this blog. The Depressed Moose is 2 years old… I am almost in big boy pants and can officially stop shitting myself in nappies and use the toilet….doesn’t mean I am going to quite yet..baby steps and all that 😀

As with any 2-year-old I am like a sponge absorbing lots of information and being excited at every new thing I learn and discover, and still grinning like a baby with trapped wind most of the time too. It is exactly how I fell these days though even if it makes no sense at first with the baby analogies.

My mental health has never been better than this moment in time, even during my rocky moments I feel more like I am going through the “normal” range of human emotions than depression taking hold of me again and this is a great weight of my shoulders. I can laugh, cry, sulk (and apparently I do a really good sulking pout!> in the normal way without worry about mania, depression or anything else being a cause.

Unless this heat continues because it is a sure-fire way to bring back my depression if I am not careful. My flat is like a greenhouse at the moment which makes it hard for me to sleep at night, and lack of sleep equals grumpy, moody hide from the world Garry so I am working hard on trying to combat this – prevention is always better than cure after all.

New beginnings always help and I am lucky that things have progressed with the wonderful lady in my life to the point where we are now starting a relationship and moving forwards together. Katie AKA Miss Donut has been a breath of fresh air in my life since we met. It can be hard work at times, I am not renowned for my patience which doesn’t help, but hard work brings the best rewards and she is great company, great fun and a brilliant new addition to my life. It is nice feeling butterflies and acting like a love-sick teenager again and being able to fight for someone you want in your life is a sure sign that I am recovering nicely from depression, as it having someone fight to be with you as well. In the past I would have walked away from anything that was not easy…..not this time, we are overcoming hurdles together and both happy with how things are going. I have not been this happy for as long as I can remember and I aim to ensure it stays this way. She makes me very happy and I am lucky to have her!

Planning for the future is not something I have done for years, but I am now and trying to create lots of new memories with the wonderful Katie, having stored plenty already since our first conversation. It would also be nice if I could remember to engage the brain and the mouth before I spoke but that has been an issue for 35 years, luckily I am cute with it, even if I do say so myself.

So raise a glass to cupid, to new love, to new beginnings, to friends who I would never have met without this little blog and to the next year(and hopefully more writing!)

 

 

 

Return of The Jack, Garry’s Back!

Apologies for the lack of visibility on the blog since my last post, rest assured you have missed nothing! I have not even felt able to write anything coherent enough to consider publishing – believe it or not I do have some standards when it comes to hitting the publish button…..

Another month has been and gone and we are now into June. What a month May was for me though, in simple terms the best month I have had for at least the last 10 years perhaps even longer.

One of my targets/goals for 2014 was to create new memories, to make the most of life again and to cherish those friends and family around me that support me so much when times are difficult.

For those wondering who Jack is – he is an old friend of mine who I am happily on better terms with these days. Good Ol’ Jack Daniels…. drinking with great company to enjoy not drinking to forget as I have done in the past.

I am very lucky to have met someone who I spent a big chunk of the past few weeks with, a wonderful, beautiful lady who has put a smile on my face and we have had a great time laughing and sitting up till the early hours just talking nonsense but enjoying each others company and I couldn’t be happier! Lots of drink, lots of smiles, lots of talking and best of all…. no moose to be seen! Its all about Garry which I love! When someone makes so much effort to be around you, then you know you have found someone special.

I feel a sense of responsibility when it comes to anything moose related. It’s nice to be thought highly about because of the real me not the moose.

So to Miss Donut… thank you for being around and here’s to a lot more great times!

That’s not to say I don’t have down days still, or feelings of insecurity but I can count them on one hand over the last few months! I am so much more in control of my depression these days I feel like a kid again. It feels like I have just started to remember Garry properly and I love how it feels.

Days out, nights out, lazy days in pjs till mid afternoon and more memories created in May than in the last few years combined! This is what life is about and I am determined to ensure it carries on this way, regardless of what happens along the way.

Now as June arrives I have to deal with some personal shit from the last year that can finally be consigned to the history books as I move on with my life, I have injections and mri scans to look forward to and then hopefully I can hit the gym again on a regular basis and shed the “winter coat”  that is weighing me down.

It’s not fat honestly its just an extra layer of awesomeness…

fluffy

 

and if all else fails….stick me in front of an ice cream van and I’m a happy chappy..

Thanks to Gary Dart for the flattering image...

Thanks to Gary Dart for the flattering image…

Medication, Pain and Drama

Been a long time since I have even attempted to write something, so much is going on in my little world that my head is all over the place lately. This blog used to be a place of solace for me, somewhere I could let things out and try to work through all the issues one by one. I miss being able to write…

So where am I currently..

I am still medication free, but unsure how much longer that will last if truth be told. Fighting is getting harder when outside influences keep getting in the way. One source has intimated to me that I like drama in my life, that I thrive on it because it gives me a chance to help other people and not have to deal with my own stuff. It is possible there is some truth in this, I do like helping other people but not at the detriment of my own mental health, the less drama around me the better at the moment – unless it happens to be drama that I particularly want to get involved in, that is my choice though and I will choose the battles I want to get into myself…

I feel toothless at the moment, in terms of how I am dealing with issues. All bark no bite. By nature I am fiery, short fused and act now question later but I just seem to let the blows rain down on me from all sides. It’s not even a case of rolling with punches and throwing out a few counter shots now and again. Am I actively encouraging this because its what I feel I deserve?

Is it more a case of allowing it all to bubble under the surface until one day it all comes out like an eruption from a volcano? I hope not because frustration is difficult to deal with and the end result will not be pretty if I continue to stem the tide, eventually the dam is going to crack and I worry about the fall out.

As for the pain issue.. as my long time readers will know I was once a footballer, playing football 7 days a week as a kid has resulted in me having knackered knees – two operations on my left knee is a factor behind my weight issues as I find it hard to exercise. Despite this last year I was going to the gym daily in preparation for the runs I did for charity but at the moment its impossible.

I have pain in both legs, all the muscles and joints and what appears to be shin splints in both legs. There are days when I am almost in tears with each step I take. It’s new to me and I am concerned about what the cause could be because I am desperate for an outlet again, I need to get out the flat but even walking to the shops leaves me in agony let alone trying to get on the treadmill again… this is not helping but I am seeing my GP tomorrow and hopefully she will be able to find a reason for this because it is currently ruining my life….

It has not been this bad for a long long time, but there is a glimmer of hope and someone who makes me smile. That is nothing short of eventful though and not sure if anything is going to come out of it, I hope so – its nice to feel that butterfly sensation when your phone goes and its a message from someone…. and good things worth having are worth the effort and drama, be nice if it was easy but when do I ever do thing easily..remember I attract drama

waitingI need to distract myself by writing again, any ideas you have please send my way because the gym is a no go zone until the pain in my legs goes…

and to think I always assumed I was a pain in the arse

ESA, WRAG And The DWP’s Cunning Plans

Most of the search terms that bring people to this blog are based on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) and people wondering what to expect once they are given the benefit (ESA) and sent to the work program.

As I am unable to write about me at the moment I thought it would be a good opportunity to enlighten people to the idea behind this program and the genius that is Iain Duncan Smith’s plans for the long term unemployed, especially those of us on sickness benefits.

It is really quite simplistic and can best be explained in the following 7 words

IF THEY CAN FUCK YOU, THEY WILL

Sadly that is the stark reality, if by some miracle you make it through the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and are placed into the work program you will made to feel like such scum that eventually you will do something that results in the DWP/ Job Centre sanctioning you and losing your benefits.

The providers of the work program take nothing into account when it comes to your mental health, your needs and requirements. When I attended Seetec I offered them advise on how to help people with anxiety, they were having group meetings with 20+ people and one lady there had a panic attack. I spoke to the manager of the centre and suggested to them that they have one of the empty rooms in the building available as a place for people to go if things were getting too much for them. I may as well have asked them to wipe my arse with bread and make a sandwich out of it based on the reaction, and subsequent lack of anything being done.

What they will do is make you attend workshops whereby the best option they can suggest is to become self employed, nearly every session I attended they tried to force me onto this workshop. I sat in on one to listen to the wonderful success stories they could provide us with, the tales of how many people they have got back into employment….. forgive me while I go and repair my sarcasm detector which just exploded…

The biggest success story that they could tell us about was a couple they got off of benefits who now did Car Boot Sales for a living… oh yes that weekend tradition of selling off crap for pittance.. which of course can only be done during the summer months assuming that it has not been pissing down with rain the night before…..

If you are given any appointments to attend work program providers, do not expect any help if you are unable to make it. They will simply mark you down as not attending and will inform the job centre where you will most likely be sanctioned, and not even notified about the sanction until after your money has been stopped.

Attend everything they ask, grin and bare it because the big plan of the DWP and IDS is to make you come off benefits by hook or by crook. If you simple say “fuck it” and give up the benefits all that matters to them is that in the media they can proudly state that x amount of people are not claiming benefits anymore.

We are not people with feelings, illnesses, ailments we are simply scroungers to be put through as many hoops as possible, and sadly too many of us cannot cope with this treatment and lives are lost – which again results in propaganda statements about people coming off benefits.

The media are hardly going to say “55000 people are no longer claiming benefits, because they have taken their lives due to the DWP/IDS killing machine”

The worse thing about all of this is that it will only get worse, zero hour contracts will become the norm and the MP’s will continue to get pay rises…. and a change of government will make little difference. The next stage is that we are expected to spend 37.5 hours a week looking for jobs, if we cant get a decent paying full time job they will expect us to take multiple part time jobs to make up the difference, and we will be forced to sign up to a website that is full of fake jobs and scams….

Naturally as we are British and have a stiff upper lip we will continue to hold our ankles and take it…

 

#mentalhealthselfie

Proof that I do smile now and again! seeing as there is a big no make up selfie campaign doing the rounds on twitter and facebook to raise awareness of cancer here is my own version for mental health

mentalhealthselfie

ignore the chins – operation fat bastard is underway although the score so far is treadmill 1 – moose 0

and no make up in sight…..

Guest Post – Mark

I have followed Mark for a long time on twitter and he is someone I have great respect for! I was delighted when he agreed to write a post for my blog and I hope you enjoy this as much as I have.

Music is helping Mark in is recovery and you will be pleased to know I have added his songs to the blog below.

This post may be triggering for some as it talks about suicide so please be careful if this subject may be too much for you… now over to Mark

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My story starts on Oct 17th 2001. The day my life changed forever.  I was working as a musician and working for a production company. I also ran 4 performing art schools for children. That day was a normal working day for me another gig another show. During that day we were on the road driving towards the venue when I was involved in a severe road traffic accident. I was a passenger and we were hit by a drunk driver coming round the corner at high-speed. That’s the moment the lights went out and one life ended and another life began. People were killed but I ended up in hospital seriously injured.  So began a long dark journey. I suffered broken bones and a brain injury. After months of recovery it became very apparent that I was not the same anymore. Headway got involved and so began the long slow process of starting life again and trying to recover only now it was different.  I suffered a frontal lobe brain injury. My emotions and everything about my personality had changed. I also found I couldn’t do what I used to do so on that day I had my life stolen from me. Another way of putting it is I was raped of my life. Months went into years and years. I was diagnosed with clinical depression PTSD and borderline personality disorder.

During the following years I attempted to take my own life on several occasions.  From taking overdoses to standing on a train track waiting for a train to come. The train didnt come. Once I was allowed to drive again I also drove to the lake district and took another overdose but some how I was found by the police and was rushed to hospital. We lost our house our cars are savings and most of what we owned .During this time I spent a lot of time inside an acute psychiatric hospital on a secure ward . I did not want to live any more because my life had ended as I saw it , I couldn’t earn the money I was earning and I couldn’t look after my family. My family went through hell my wife wanted to leave me and my children needed counselling. Such was the damage on our lives. During this time I was given a CPN called Kelly Perkins . She turned out to be an angel a saviour . I now owe my life to her. Along with many talking therapies  CBT and others. She along with Lyn Atkins another angel from headway kept us together as a family. Without their help we would not be together today.
Another problem I encountered was the lack of understanding from some family members. Often stigma is very close to home and  on one occasion drove me to another suicide attempt.

In 2010 we decided that the best thing we could do was to move to try and start again as everything around us reminded us of our old life. We moved from Bedfordshire to Dorset.  We settled into a quiet life by the sea. This was the first time I was trying to live a new life with some hope. Sadly during the spring of 2013 I suffered a relapse and ended back inside an acute ward. I was again suffering extreme anxiety depression and suicide thoughts again.
During my stay I found an old guitar and for some reason I started to play a bit again. This resulted in my wife bringing in my guitar.  I now found I had words and songs pouring out of me so I started to write and write.

During this time I had also started to become aware of Dorset Mental Health Forum. Somehow through my recovery this time I found a new purpose and that was that I had a passion for mental health issues and all the songs I was writing was about my lived experience , I had found a new voice and so I started to talk more openly about it. I was on a new meds regime and these were starting to work. I then found myself having meetings with Dorset Mental Health Forum. This led to me getting involved with something called Tea and Talking in conjunction with Time To Change leading to becoming a peer specialist for the forum now I had found a new purpose in life and that was to spread the message of recovery and to tackle stigma. I have been recording all the new material which is now nearly finished and will be available soon. Recently I was inspired to write a song for the Time to Talk campaign which I have done. I have also been asked to write a song for Blue Apple Hero’s about PTSD .
My passion and focus is now on raising awareness and sending out a message through music and speaking that recovery is possible even from the darkest place. I will live with what I have for the rest of my life but thanks to some great people and of course my wife who has suffered greatly  and family I move on to a new life, one that is wanting to see and help others who suffer . That’s my lived experience and I share it in the hope that it brings you hope.

Mark Storey

Mark can be found on twitter here

If you would like to submit a post for this blog please get in touch with me via twitter/facebook or email using the contact page

Antidepressant Withdrawal

I knew it was coming, that it wouldn’t be plain sailing. Despite people thinking, and treating me like I am an idiot I went into cold turkey with my eyes wide open expecting the worse but hoping that it wouldn’t be that bad.

And in all honesty it has gone a lot better than I expected…but the last few days have given me a big reminder that the battle is a long way from over.

As everyone knows – because I have had so much expert opinion sent my way… it is not advisable to just give up antidepressants and I am not advocating it for anyone, but it was something that I needed to do and in the main I am feeling a lot better mentally as a result.

There are some symptoms of Antidepressant Withdrawal that I am dealing with, so thought it would be a good chance to share with you how things are.

The following comes from webmd.com the full article can be found here

Symptoms of Antidepressant Withdrawal

Symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal depend on the specific medication you have been taking. Studies have not revealed factors that predict the chances of developing antidepressant discontinuation symptoms – including how long someone has been taking an antidepressant – although some research has found that discontinuation symptoms may be more likely in people who have had a more complete initial response to their antidepressant.

Symptoms most often occur within three days of stopping the antidepressant. They are usually mild and go away within about two weeks. Symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness and balance problems
  • Electric shock sensations
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headache
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Nightmares
  • Tremors
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vomiting

Currently the biggest issue for me is the Electric shock sensations which is irritating to say the least, as someone who has had a fucked up sleep pattern for years the trouble sleeping is a pain in the arse but one that I am used to but 2 out of 16 symptoms is pretty good and I will take it!

According to the article these should last for a few weeks from stopping the medication so as we approach week 2 of “cold moose” I am hoping they will soon disappear.

I have not had a single “dark” thought since coming off the medication..

The mood swings are not an issue, but what I am finding is that I am getting pretty frustrated with people lately, the cause for this seems to be that my bullshit detector has returned! I am thinking so much more clearly in regards to the attitude of people towards me and this is leading me to frustration. A crossroad if you will between giving people the benefit of the doubt or simply walking away from them, however I have spent the past few years accepting shit because I felt that was what I was entitled to…

Wouldn’t it be lovely if people were honest all the time instead of this game playing, bullshitting, say what I think you want to hear, selfish, need you when it suits me, talk to you when it suits me attitude so many people seem to be afflicted with…and breath

I can tell I am on the right track when people get offended, rightly or wrongly, by what I say and I couldn’t care less. I am actually sick of apologising all the time just for a quiet life. Do I ever get an apology when they are in the wrong? Of course not..

I want to surround myself with more positive people, people who want to bring the best out of me again. I would rather have 2 friends who pick up the phone, or knock on my door than have 100s of people who are passengers on the moose train. I have been very lucky this year to have already seen around 20 people in real life, not just connecting via social media.

Sadly some of them have moved on without me and as much as I miss a certain person I will not be reaching out to them, dropping me was their choice and I respect them for that, even though I don’t agree and if you are reading this (and 100% they know who they are) I hope you are well.

So with that in over…. I do have some good news

Operation Fat Bastard is a go..

I have rejoined the gym and cannot wait to get my winter coat off! Getting out the flat and back into the swing of the treadmill and yoga was one of the things I wanted to achieve for 2014 – so that’s one tick on the “to do” list

All in all I can’t complain too much, I am ready for the fight and feel like coming of the meds has thus far been a success. I am not naive enough to think the storm has passed and the black clouds will not try returning but I am confident that the future is looking positive because I am back in control.

Like it or not the Garry that I used to be is becoming more and more vocal and breaking though the barriers that depression had put in front of him…

 

 

7 days

Before you start singing Craig David or Sting songs – depending on your age I thought now would be a good time to update you on the Cold Moose Experiment.

A week medication free for the first time in almost 2 years, yes it was risky to do this and while I am aware that it is still early days I can truly say that I have not felt so strong mentally in at least 5 years!

The best thing personally is that I have spent some awesome time with Brandon. He has been away at his mums due to being ill but when we have been around each other we have laughed so much – it has been great.

I have laughed and smiled so much lately – forget that strange looking yellow thing in the sky everyone is asking about, the new phenomenon is the lesser known smiling moose currently doing the rounds of Woodford/East London.

I have been out and about the past few days, visiting relatives even going to the cinema. My stomach woes are currently gone! I feel like a normal person in terms of the IBS issues. The early morning spells of being locked in the bathroom being scared to leave the flat again appear to have disappeared. Now its worth mentioning that the IBS issues were a problem BEFORE the medication entered my life, but I am convinced the stress was as a result of the meds, the anxiety and panic attacks were as a result.

There has been a few problems since I stopped taking the meds – it is not all plain sailing

I have been having dizziness problems, especially when I am out walking. Not enough to make me lose my balance or worry – but every now and again I have to stop in my tracks for a few seconds. Hopefully this will ease as my body readjusts to “normality” in terms of a lack of chemicals.

Secondly is the return of the sex drive! this is not good when you have tennis elbow 😀

On the plus side I may have to seriously consider moving to Canada – click here to find out why!

_73510716_moosesexbuttons

Anyone else out there willing to support moose sex? if so please wear one of these badges so I can identify you!

Any Canadian readers please find me one these badges! I must have one!!!!

I feel alive, I want to get out again – hit the gym again and keep this fighting spirit going.

It may have cost me some friendships but I feel like this has been the right decision – so far.

Long may it last…. if not then please let the sex drive stay! priorities are in the right order..