Depression is a debilitating disease. It removes motivation. It produces anxiety attacks that can stop the sufferer from leaving the house. Depression also destroys concentration. It does a lot more like make the sufferer hell to live with. Medication is there to help but, as I have found finding the right medication and the right dose can be trial and error.
HMRC and Me
What does not help is being into a stressful situation where the anticipation is often worse than the reality. So, when I had a visit from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to talk about my failure to pay the right amount of tax over a number of years you can imagine what sort of state I was in. My medication makes me tired, but the anxiety of the upcoming visit made it hard to sleep. Coupled with my medication producing very vivid dreams the results were not pleasant.
It is my own fault that I owe income tax. The story as to why I am in the position of owing income tax is one of my own making. I started selling bits and bobs on eBay and Amazon years ago. As time went on I began buying items at car boot sales, charity shops and re-selling them. Then I bought items to sell off the internet. Along the way I crossed the line between selling my own stuff as a hobby and selling items as a business as defined by HMRC. The outcome is that I have tax liability.
All this would be stressful enough without depression raising its ugly and malevolent head. When they arrived the ladies from HMRC were pleasant, friendly and very professional. Being friendly did not stop them from asking hard questions. They were very thorough. Another thing that my depression does is to stop me talking properly. In my head the sentences are ordered and make sense. What comes out of my mouth is stilted, full of pauses, and deep breaths. I hear myself sounding like someone who is not confident, someone who’s grasp on reality is failing. Of course those are both true when I am under the black cloud but it is unnerving none the less.
I Hate Depression
I know that I have been suffering from depression for years, many years before I acknowledged that I had a problem and went to the doctor. It is my guess is that being so explains why I made bad choices when selling. What I mean is that I did not understand that with selling more I should have thought about consequences, taken advice, kept records, tracked trends.
It is right that I should pay the correct amount of tax, there is no disputing that. However, under their probing questioning (there was nothing aggressive about it) I was amazed how many times I said “I do not know”, about things that anyone who is in a good mental state would have been aware of.
I hate depression. I hate what it has done for me in the past. Also I hate the fact that I feel obliged to excuse my failings by saying “I have been diagnosed with clinical depression”.
What I hate most about depression is that last sentence. If only it was like a broken arm that everyone could see. More than that, one of the worse things about it being invisible is that I did not know I had it, until it was almost impossible for me to function.
Depression – Suicide
I have been diagnosed with depression and apparently it is not normal to think about suicide. Who knew?
Depression is an odd animal. It creeps up on you. It was not until I ran out of work in tears that I thought that I should get help.
The history of my story may be well worth talking about for a while. I had an operation about 4 months ago. Nothing major, but it did involve having my anus explored and bits taken out for tests and bits taken out just to get rid of them. That did not bring on my depression. The not being able to go to the loo for a week did not bring on my depression. Finding out the going to the loo after a week was the single most painful thing in the world did not bring on my depression.
It was lurking there already and, looking back I think that it had been there for years.
Many years ago I wrote a blog about fishing and suicide. More properly it was a blog about going fly fishing, not catching, and talking about going home to have a couple of glasses of whiskey (Irish, of course) and a bit about suicide.
What I never knew was that other people did not think about suicide. I do not mean that I thought about how to do it, how many paracetamols, whisky (suicide by spirits has to be Scotch, Irish is to be revered, or Gin and a razor blade with a warm bath) I just thought, what would the effect be? Would anyone notice? I know that the person who found me would be upset, at least I hope so. But, could I do that to someone? I never got to the bit where the discovery and that trauma was justified. My thoughts of suicide were just pandering to a dark corner of my mind. It was not serious, at least I do not think so.
What brought my depression to the fore was the anxiety attacks. After the operation I did not want to go out. I hated having to wear pads, for a certain leakage problem. I hated feeling that I could not talk about how I was feeling, because I did not know.
More that anything was the anxiety attacks. Not being able to see friends, hiding from people in the supermarket on case they wanted to talk to me. Not being able to leave the house to go for a drink with friends because I was scared.
I went back to work, big mistake. I could not answer the phone. I could not talk to my colleagues. I sat there with a rising fear that my head was about to explode. I wanted to pick up something on my desk and throw it at someone, anyone, anything. I considered punching my PC screen. Then I cracked.
It was the best thing that happened to me.
I went to the doctor. Not my normal doctor, broke down in tears and he said “do you want a week off work? Take some Beta blockers”. It seemed like a “man up” get on with it response.
A week later I went back, saw my own doctor. I went with a list of my symptoms;
Irritability, over nothing.
being suspicious of people, what they are saying, what they may mean and how they are out to get me, taking about me behind my back.
Restlessness, just being agitated all the time.
A loss of control, I was not my own master.
loss of concentration. I was so worried about this after the operation that I bought a book of Sudoku, just to see if I could concentrate.
The inability to read books and understand what was going on, and being unable to remember plots.
Being powerless in all sorts of ways. Ignored at work, harassed at home. Not being control of how I felt.
You get the idea. I only got part way through the list (there were many more items on my list) Dr McMeekin stopped me. He said you know that you are depressed don’t you? How long have you felt like this? To that I said I can not remember when I did not feel like this.
We talked. I am now on a 6 months course of a drug, Sertraline. He says that it is not addictive and should not have any withdrawal problems when it stops
I have been to a holistic practitioner for a tincture of herbs (which no way as near unpleasant that Rona said that it might be).
I have started meditating again, but it is a lot harder than I remember, another symptom of depression?
I am taking more exercise.
I have rejected CBT and talking therapies. I do not believe that they work, but perhaps this blog counts as a talking therapy.
Where am I now?
My bad days are less bad. My good days are better than they were. The number of reasonable days are increasing.
Against that I spend a lot of time thinking about “how do I feel?”
I have been open at work, talking about my mental health problems and most have been sympathetic talking about their experiences or those of their family members.
Some have, inevitably, been pricks with no understanding.
I think that I am progressing, I hope that I am.
The EU Referendum campaign was a nasty, divisive affair. Now comes Project Reality.
They called it Project Fear, it is turning into Project reality. The Brexit campaigners won, but what has been the fallout? They said that everything that the Remain campaigners were saying were just the establishment lining up to scare the public. Really?
What has happened in the 48 hours since the EU Referendum?
- EDF are considering pulling out of Hinkley Point. Now, that may be a good or a bad thing depending on your point of view. The fact was a large infrastructure project is in doubt.
- Airbus, that employs 15,000 people in this country, say.as that it is actively reviewing its future investment. We all know what means.
- Ford, that employs 14,000 people in this country, says that it might be preparing to cut costs. We all know what means.
- The third runway for Heathrow would be killed by Boris.
- Large parts of HS2 could be stopped in its tracks.
- The pound plunged to 1980’s levels. Here comes more expensive petrol and imports.
There is more fallout from the EU Refrendum
- Tata Steel, there are now doubts about the sell offs that were going to save at least some of our jobs.
- There has been a marked increase in far right racist attacks, graffiti, and the neo nazis are cock ahoop.
- That Cameron has signaled that he is going and we will not have a PM with any credibility for 3 months. Who is running the country?
- The Blairite jackals in the PLP are lining up to oust Corbyn.
- The French want to close the camps in Calais, agreen light for the people smugglers to up there despicable business.
- The FTSE 250 has had millions swept off its value. The FTSE 250 is a far better barometer of the UK based companies rather than the FTSE 100.
- 1.2 million Brits who live in the EU now are in fear of what might happen to them.
- Scotland will seek another independence referendum. The end of the UK.
- There are calls for the re-unification of all Ireland. The end of the UK.
- HSBC have announced that they could relocate 1,500 jobs from London to Paris.
- Farage has been forced to admit that the £350m a week windfall for the NHS was just a lie.
- Danny Hammon (?), Nigel Evans (my MP) have both admitted that leaving the EU does NOT necessarily mean that immigration will fall.
The EU referendum has plunged this country in turmoil. Edmund Burke said, to paraphrase, that the views of constituents should be given due weight by their representatives. However, to give them directions that have to be obeyed strikes at the heart of our representative democracy.
Referendums can destroy representative democracy. There is a place for them. However the EU Referendum asked a far too complicated question to be answered by a simple yes or no.
God help us all.
Sponsored 10 Mile Walk for East Lancs Hospice, complete!
About 6 weeks ago I decided to raise money for the East Lancs Hospice, a very worthy cause. The hospice needs to raise £3m a year to keep going and so anything that I could to help, however little, would be worthwhile. The next event was a sponsored 10 mile walk and I signed up for it.
There are some friends who thought that I was joking when I told them. After all, I was a smoker, liked a drink and did not do a lot of walking. I did go into training, I walked to the pub a couple of times, did a couple of 5 mile walks. Walking to and from the pub was fine but the 5 mile walks were not. My knees are not good and after each walk they hurt.
So I approached this sponsored 10 mile walk with some trepidation today. I was buoyed by the fact that some 200 other people were there. Diane had noticed that there were 10 pubs on the route and suggested that I saw the number of pubs before seeing the number of miles. Cheek!
The day was well organised and just 10 minutes late ( the Mayoress of the Ribble Valley needed her photo op and to make an inaudible speech) and we were off. I was towards the back of this motley group of the old and young (some very old and some pretty young) and a very motley group of dogs, big, small, well groomed and some not so well groomed.
As the walk went on I moved up towards the front, not because I was walking quickly, just that everyone with dogs had at some point to stop to search for their doggy poop bags and the others were strolling. Anyway after 5 miles I did not dive into one of the official pubs, as everyone else seem to. That was not because I did not want to, you understand, rather I know that if I sit down my knee would not like the straighten again and would protest, vigorously.
So I walked on, and on, and on. The second 5 miles was definitely longer than the first 5 miles. I covered the first 5 in one and a half hours, much to my surprise. The pace seemed to suit my knee which was behaving itself and not hurting too much.
The beautiful countryside helped divert my mind from my knee but even that began to lose its effect as I began willing the last signpost, and home, to come into sight. After what seemed and age I arrived at the destination. 10 miles in 3 hours 5 minutes, very respectable. My decision not to stop after 5 miles was proved to be the right one because as soon as I sat down at the end of the walk (pint in hand) my knee seized up and started to throb. To be honest, it did not, does not, hurt as much as I expected and as I sit here I can easily see myself doing this sponsored 10 mile walk for East Lancs Hopsice again next year!
However,there is no need to wait until next year to give money to this great cause, just follow this link to my Just Giving page. You know it is the right thing to do!
General Election 2015 Could It Really be A Three Party Coalition?
The New Statesman was showing that given the polls at the end of February the two main parties would win 271 seats in the general election. Tories down by 36 seats Labour up by 13.
They were also showing the SNP up by 50 to 56, the Liberal Democrats down to 25 seats from 57. I imagine that Nick Clegg is not reading the papers at the moment, or for the last year or two come to that.
For a majority a party needs 326 seats. We are back into coalition territory, again, unless either Miliband or Cameron wants to try to run a minority government. Using the New Statesman’s projections what coalitions could evolve?
The SNP has said that it would not enter into a coalition with Cameron. It would be suicidal for them to say anything else before the general election. Even after the general election they could not get into bed with the Tories. That leaves the way open to a SNP and Labour coalition. Except that they would still not have enough seats. They would only get to 327, 9 short.
UKIP may have a higher percentage of the votes cast than the Liberal Democrats but the first past the post system guarantees that, unless something extreme happens, they will end up with just 4 or 5 seats. They could influence the outcome though as most of their votes would come from the Tories, those that do not come from thr BNP. that is. Where the Liberal Democrats are fighting the Tories in second place in 2010 the UKIP vote could sink the Tories.
The way the vote splits on the left could determine whether Labour wins a few seats. Seats such as Plymouth Sutton, Bristol West (a constituency dear to me heart), and Hove could well be decided by the tactical voting of Green and Lib Dem supporters.
There are some Tories that see the DUP in Northern Ireland being able to support them after the general election. The trouble is they may well get just the 8 seats.
The Tories and Labour then need someone else to support them in a coalition. Who will be the first one to call Nick? That assumes that Nick will still be the leader of the Liberal Democrats, of course and hat is not guaranteed. Have the Liberal Democrats got the appetite to be in another coalition after the bruising experience of this one?
God, I love politics, bring on the general election!
I Quit Smoking 3 Days Ago!
Three days on and how is it going?
Well, so far I have not killed anyone, although it has been close a couple of times. I went for a walk yesterday (day 2) and while in the pub after the walk with a beer in front of me I would have walked over burning coals to get to a tobacconists. (Un)-Fortunately, there was not one in the village so the soles of my feet are unscathed.
The most surprising thing as I quit smoking is that I do not miss the first cigarette of the day. When I decided to quit smoking I expected my first waking moments to be among the hardest but not at all. The moments that are the hardest are the unexpected ones. The ones while I am cooking and would normally nip out of the kitchen for a drag while something is simmering. The ones when I am listening to the radio and one programme ends and there is the chat until the next one starts. When I am listening to music. When reading and the urge comes unexpected and strident.
In other words, all the bloody time without any specific triggers. How can you prepare yourself for that? All you can do is face it head on, and fall back on all those coping strategies that you have devised. Trouble is, they do not really work. What works is not smoking, just that. Not smoking until the craving subsides. Not listening to the “one will not hurt” voice that nags away at you.
There is one thing that is helping me quit smoking more than I expected and that is the NHS quit smoking web site.
The way to quit smoking? Not smoking, that’s all. It is also the hardest thing that you will ever do, sometimes, and the easiest thing that you will ever do at other times. The trick is to reduce the instances of the first and increase the instances of the latter. The only way to do that is by keeping on quitting, every day.
Today I Have Quit Smoking
The day arrived that I had decided to quit smoking. It is a Saturday. I had decided to start on a day that allowed me to break up the usual pattern of getting up, having a cigarette, breakfast, cigarette, showering, cigarette, driving to work with a cigarette, a quick cigarette before going into work. You get the idea.
A Saturday does not have the same pattern, apart from getting up and having a cigarette before doing anything else. In fact, today has been different in a number of ways. Apart from being the day to quit smoking I went for a balloon ride! That meant being up at 4.00 before driving for an hour and a quarter. Then there was the meeting all the others also going up in the balloon. Then the ascent and flight. All in all, a very different day that did not allow me to dwell on the quit smoking aspect of the day. Later I realised that I would have been the only smoker in the group of 16 flying today. Jane does not count, she has always been an “amateur” smoker, only one or two a day. She has never been a professional like me, 40 a day, smoking in all weathers.
I did have my electronic with me and I used it a couple of times. However no major cravings that I can remember. When we had returned to Clitheroe I went to buy the weekend food. Normally, the first thing that I would do is to check the queue for the tobacco desk as I went in. Today I looked, but not in a checking it out sort of way.
I am not saying that it has all been plain sailing. There have been moments. One of the worst was when I discovered that my electronic needed to recharge. It is charging as i write this, plugged in to the laptop. The trouble is that the charging thingy keeps showing green, but the damn thing still does not work! The shop where I bought it is shut, and will be for the next 3 days with it being a Bank Holiday, so the next few days could be awkward.
And I thought that it would be a doddle to quit smoking.
I am going to quit smoking, honest!
I have been smoking for 40 some years and smoke 40 a day. Not a reason to celebrate. Recently a friend was diagnosed with lung cancer and that has helped to focus my mind.
So, on Saturday (well, midnight Friday) I will quit smoking.
In the past I have tried, several times. However, this time it feels different. For one thing I am telling people. I have set up a savings spreadsheet to see how much I was wasting. I have an electronic cigarette to give me no excuse to buy another packet. (I don’t mind the nicotine so much as the gases and tar). I have nicotine suppressant drugs that should help wean me off all nicotine. It is a 12 week course of the drug so I hope to see my use of the e-cig decrease over time after I quit smoking.
What am I looking forward to when I quit smoking? Not coughing in the morning, my first thought when I get up not being where are my fags but what shall I have for breakfast, being able to fill my lungs, deeply, when I breath in. That kind of thing.
I will keep this blog up dated with my progress when I quit smoking.
Oh, yes, I think I will succeed, if nothing else I really, I mean really, do not want to have to write the “Quit Smoking? I Failed” blog………….
My Prediction of the General Election 2015 Results – to be quickly forgotten if wrong!!!
As everyone has been saying this is the closest of close general elections for years with no party able to win an overall majority. The two main parties have been tied on 33% – 34% since before the campaign kicked off 6 weeks ago. However, over the last few days polls have been showing a Conservative lead of about 1%. It has to be said that the margin of error is about 3%. That means that if the polls are true either the Tories are 4% ahead of labour or Labour will win by 2%.
Any which way, that does not add up to an overall majority for either party. The UKIP challenge seems to be stuck on 14%. They are likely to find the same problem as the Liberal Democrats under the current first past the post system. Their level of general support will not convert into an appropriate number of seats. The 14% support will give them no more than 5 seats, if they are lucky. Once they have the seats, however, local conditions can play a large part. For instance the world would have to come to an end for the Lib Dems to lose The Orkney and Shetland constituency. The problem for UKIP is to get into that position in the first place.
That puts paid to predictions that the SNP will win all the Scottish seats. There are 59 parliamentary seats in Scotland and I would expect the SNP to win about 50. A heavy blow for Labour to take. Unofficially, Labour is saying that they will hold about 10 seats in Scotland. For a party that says that it wants an anti Tory government it is ironic that the more popular the SNP becomes the more the chances that labour will never win a majority. The other side to that is that the Tories become more likely to win the popular vote and the highest number of seats.
My prediction is that not party will gain an overall majority, no surprise there then. Labour to take 260 -270 seats, The Tories 270 -280. The interesting thing is that to build a coalition seems more difficult for the Tories rather than Labour. A party need 326 seats to be able to form a majority government. The SNP will work with Labour but not the Tories. The Liberal Democrats will work with anyone that will give them ministers, very liberal with their favours. UKIP would support a Tory minority government. Would Cameron want to give them a sniff of power? That would be risky for the future of the Tory party. We could well be looking at a Labour led minority coalition with the Liberal Democrats with day to day support from the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and the Greens on a vote by vote basis. The other main option would be for Cameron to run a minority Tory government. That would be entertaining, very few of its policies would get through, let alone a budget. Should he chicken out of that Miliband could run a minority government, and probably much more successfully than Cameron as there are more natural partners that would support individual policies.
However, what ever happens no one is going to want to precipitate a new General Election any time soon.
Predictions in full
Tory Party 280
Lib Dems 18
UKIP Shoots Itself in the Foot Candidate Threatens to Shoot Tory Between The Eyes!
UKIP are mad and bad. They are obviously bad given their odd policies and stance on immigration. They are obviously bad when their leader wants to leave the EU but is happy to pocket the EU cash. They are obviously bad when Diddy Neil Hamilton can not stand them.
But mad? Oh yes. UKIP has announced that they will review their candidate selection procedures after their candidate Robert Blay, their candidate for North East Hampshire threatened to shoot his Tory opponent. He was caught on camera, at a public meeting at which Farage was speaking on Saturday. He said that if Ranil Jayawardena ever became PM Blay would shoot him “between the eyes”.
Blay has been suspended by UKIP. The other reason that UKIP is both bad and mad is that it has taken them until the eve of the poll to realise what we all knew. Their candidate selection has allowed some very odd and deranged people to pass the vetting.
One more reason, if one was needed why UKIP candidates are not fit to be elected to be dog wardens let alone parliament.
Just for the record;
The Mirror reported that he said: “If he is I will personally put a bullet between his eyes. If this lad turns up to be our prime minister I will personally put a bullet in him. That’s how strong I feel about it.” Questioning Mr Jayawardena’s background, he said: “His family have only been here since the 70s. You are not British enough to be in our parliament. I’ve got 400 years of ancestry where I live. He hasn’t got that.”