Monday, 11 July 2011

Wonderful Lemons and Things!

It's easy, if you're inclined to depression, as I have long been, to slip into a downward spiral, to feel a bit glum and find yourself even glummer an hour, a day, a week later. I've been accustomed to this for years piled on years. Shaking it off is something I am not yet properly accustomed to. For as long as I can recall, when I have felt sad, I have stayed sad, and no forced jollity on my part has brought me out of such a funk. If I have had a friend or two about, it has sometimes a world of difference. Then again, it has sometimes made no impact on my shabby shell of despair. I've just stayed downcast.

Back in January/February, I saw a therapist. I'd been to see therapists before. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is highly praised and well-regarded, and on it I squandered several thousand pounds. Although the NHS will pay for pretty much anything reasonable, there's a waiting list, and half a decade ago I skipped the waiting list, because I spent the majority of every day wishing myself dead. Life really didn't seem worth living. It's arguable that at the time it really wasn't. This isn't self-pity. I'm not going to reveal I lost all my limbs and my tongue fell out for a period in 2005-6, leaving me questioning the meaning of life until the lost bits mysteriously regrew. I was just a black hole. This and that would cheer me, but for about half a decade I'd look back on half a year, say, and be able to think of just a day or two of happiness. I didn't want to get better, and CBT was useless to me for just that reason.

Why get better when I didn't want to be alive, let alone happy? It was just a waste of time. The sole reason to stay alive was because friends and family would be upset if I were to off myself. In short: it was a very bleak period. Then at the start of this year, still mired in depression, I slid quite by chance to a form of therapy I had always discounted: hypnotherapy. I didn't want to get better, but I felt I owed it to my family and friends to give it a go. I expected yet another failure. I was surprised. Not only did my therapist not use hypnotherapy at first, but EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapy), but it worked.

EFT, as I discovered before I went off to the first session, is related to that Eastern kerjigger that sees people poked with needles. Rather than being jabbed, though, EFT just involves tapping a series of bits of oneself. Whether this channels Chi or is a rhythmic repetitive pattern which blah, blah, blah, who cares? The point is that it worked. I went into that session twrrified of strangers, doomy-gloomy, riddled with self-doubt and all sorts of other rotten things. I came out a lot healthier. Granted, I didn't become Superman. In fact, the following Friday my appendix went boom, and torpedoed my newly-made plans to find a job, &c, &c.

But ever since then I have been able to silence - for the first time in maybe twenty years - that black dog of depression, as Winston Churchill called it. Things still get me down, and setbacks still occur, but they don't reduce me to a sobbing puddle in a corner, pulling books onto myself. No points for deducing that that once happened, contestant! Yes, I still have no job. Yes, I am reduced to selling off my prized wargaming possessions, so long and so jealously guarded. On which note, be ready for another spatter of Ebaying tomorrow. Yes, things could be better. But just before I started this article, I ambled to an adjacent room, where I have laid out several such possessions on a spare bed. I was quite down.

I'd recently wrested control of my finances back from my brother, and had my finances well in hand. He had laid out exactingly what I could spend this month, and my Ebaying had ensured I would meet the financial limits and have money left over. Well, why was I upset? Because yesterday he remarked I would be able to pay off my credit card bill this month. He hadn't mentioned it in my list of things to think of. I hadn't thought of it. In a moment all my precise and perfect financial considerations were smashed. I spent a fraught 30 hours or so collecting more things to sell on Ebay, and hurrying on another private sale. I had been riding high, then suddenly my horse had been shot from under me.

I finalised the private sale, and the items I mean to dispose of on Ebay will cover amply the credit card bill. But I didn't feel any better. I'm not used to feeling better. I felt that I had been beaten down, and I felt it deeply. So what happened? I went in high dudgeon and gazed at the things on the bed, and told myself to cheer up. Not in quite that tone nor with those exact words, and even quite falsely. Why would I cheer up now when I don't cheer up that easily? Then I cheered up.

I cheered up because of that therapy. It opened my eyes to the fact that although this, that and the other are against me, although I don't have x, y and z, I do have determination, confidence and the certainty of happiness and victory ahead of me. It's a crazy feeling, you know, to spend two damned decades feeling low for the most piffling of reasons, to spend that long never feeling chipper when someone gives you a good reason to, even to spend hours sobbing into your fiancee's arms, not even knowing why you're crying beyond the simple "I feel sad", and then suddenly to come into some bright upland and be able to cheer up with just an inclination to!

This explains a lot about people I had formerly taken for insensitive, heartless sods. They'd say "Oh, cheer up!" "It could be worse!" or "Why doesn't he just make himself feel better?" They've clearly had this mindset all along, and had no conception that anyone could be so thoroughly emotionally broken as to be the sort of man I was. Lucky beggars! :-D So where am I now? Well, I don't know. My latest job applications have resulted in a polite rejection and a rude failure to get back in touch with me and even indicate one way or another. I don't know how much money all this Ebaying will raise, and I am bloody suspicious lest it turns out my brother's going to have some other damned secret amount of money I must pay! :-D In all honesty, I really don't think it occurred to him any more than it did to me. But then what else might there be that neither of us has remembered?

In short, where am I financially? God knows. I don't. I have all my spending for this month itemised and broken down. I have my income likewise regimented on paper. Will some secret problem rear its head and smash my walls down? Maybe. But maybe nothing bad will happen, my Ebaying will go brilliantly, and I shall acquire enough money to be able to afford to go on holiday in October. Frankly, that would be great. That's what I will strive toward for now. If I get a job, then excellent! Sure, it'll torpedo October, but it'll shower me in riches. Well, to a degree! But if I don't get a job, and I raise plenty of money, then October is on. So whether I am compelled to sell most of my 40K collection or I am stopped from holidaying, some good will eventuate. That's the sort of cheery prognostication I could not have honestly made in the past. I can make it now. I hope you readers are all bound up with joy, and that you, like me, will turn your lemons into lemonade. Be well!


  1. I'm glad it's all going well with the ebaying. Not my favourite thing either, parting with beloved possessions. I'm intrigued by the hypnotherapy and the EFT, tell me more?

  2. Good luck on the Ebay thing, I sell books on Amazon myself now and then and my brother does too- it is painful letting go sometimes. (I think you should put a more prominent link to your ebay shop on the sidebar here btw).
    All the best

  3. Thanks, guys! I shall have a poke at the sidebar in a moment and see what I can achieve, Christine. :-)

    It's rather good stuff, the old EFT. Like acupuncture, the theory behind it is that the body's energy doodahs have got out of line and can be rearranged. I'd say I'm a little sceptical of that m'self, but the results are inarguable. I sat down with my therapist, and discussed how certain things made me feel, describing things such as fear of meeting new people as "a dark brown ball" or whatever. Then one taps at various points while saying "Although such and such, yadayada, I completely love and respect myself." Fears and so on seem more distant. I was in tears (manly, manly tears ;-) ) about some bad things from the past when I first discussed them with her, but after following her lead I could view them with a thoroughly phlegmatic or even stoic detachment. "Yes, that bad thing happened, but it really doesn't have any impact on me *now*." It's a hell of a change, I tell you!


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