What to say? 

  
*contains some fruity language*

It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote anything down. I’ve felt like I’ve nothing to say anymore about my mental health. You’ve heard it all before, the ‘whinge, whinge, moan of…I’m so *scared *anxious *stressed *uncertain *useless *guilty *a fraud (delete where applicable) I feel it gets boring and people will be saying ‘shut the fuck up Dave, yes, 1000’s are suffering problems, get your head out of your arse and get on with it’ so I’ve kept quiet.

I’m in a limbo at the moment where I want to go back to work, but they want to see Dr’s reports and assess my ‘capability’. It’s fair enough, but it adds to my worry, gets my anxious brain constantly thinking ‘am I good enough?’ Or ‘Have I finally shit it and proved I’m not competent?’ ….again, moan, moan, whinge, whinge, moan.

So, here I am, nearly 3 months off work, wanting to prove myself again, wanting to show I can function as a normal human being. I’m on stronger medication and next week (after a 7 week wait) I finally get to see the psychiatric department. Summer is coming, nights are getting longer and there is a small feeling of hope in the air.

Again I want to thank my fiancée Annette Nettie Gordon, for being a constant around me the past few months. She’s endured the crushing silences, the tears and doubts. Not judged me and quietly put me on a path to some kind of recovery. Thank you. 

I don’t write this for sympathy, I write it in the hope it’s shared round and maybe help someone who’s going through similar situations with their own mental health. 

Take it easy everyone 

Dave x

  

The Light at the End of the Tunnel… (could be a train coming the other way!) 

  
Was going to start this blog with a really shite joke …

What shakes and sits on the bottom of the Ocean? – A nervous wreck.

Don’t know why, made me chuckle a bit anyway, but then I remembered the quote I’ve actually gone for. There’s no getting away from the fact that the past 2 months have been a living nightmare for me. Starting off with a massive panic attack at work when for a while I actually thought I was going to kick the bucket. Couldn’t breathe, chest pains…the full Monty. 

Following on from that came the shakes, which I still get from time to time. Involuntary twitching of my legs, trembling hands and at some points a wierd tick like thing in my neck….on top of that a massive knot in the guts, best described as pure fear, when after overthinking everything leaves you physically ‘shit scared’.

It’s gone on like that on and off for a good 6 weeks, but amid all this doom and gloom I’ve held on to the thought that I got through this before 4yrs ago, eventually leading to me getting a job in 2014. I love the job, driving round Yorkshire and beyond delivering medicines to chemists. First job I’ve ever felt that in a small way I’m ‘Making a difference’. I’ve got some great colleagues, the staff in the chemists who enjoy a chat  and when you get to know your route you’re literally your own boss, radio on …the proper ‘white van man’!

This last week I have made an effort to try and get out of the house, to push myself and shake some of the anxiety. It’s a battle, but like I said, I’ve done it before. There’s been a few dodgy moments, but they’re getting less. Next goal is to get back to work in some capacity very soon! . This will be hard as I know some people are aware why I’ve been off. I’m hoping in 2016, folk will have some understanding of my and mental health issues in general, but if not, then that’s their ignorance and I honestly hope it never happens to them. 

Thanks to everyone who’s been reading this the past few weeks, it helps me to get it off my chest…like some sort of written therapy! So as the title says ‘there is light at the end of the tunnel …and fingers crossed it’s not a train coming the other way!! 

Will this take long?

  
Coming into my 6th week now of being signed off work with anxiety and stress. The ‘pull yourself together’ brigade will be saying he’s just lazy, a coward, people have it a lot worse etc, etc. In 20 odd years of suffering this illness, believe me, I’ve heard them all. I’ve been shunned by so called friends, seen family struggle to understand what’s happening, been mocked on social media…big deal, I never asked for this, but it’s me, it’s who I am. I’m not ashamed to talk about it if it helps someone understand.

This last bout has proper shaken me to the core. I believed I was over this, I was depression free…I’ve had anxiety niggles and the odd stress, but honestly thought the savage, grinding lows, the shakes, the crying, the head full of mush and the ‘dark’ thoughts were behind me….then bang! I’m in the back of an ambulance crying like a baby and shaking like the proverbial shitting dog.

I’ve missed a lot these last few weeks, friends birthdays, nights out I was invited on, gigs, going to the football…stupid things like just going for a pint, nipping to the shops. Couldn’t do it…scared of crowds and even more scared of having to explain why I’d ‘broke down’ again, but I am pushing. I’m forcing myself to the shops, having a walk, trying to keep in touch with friends and family. New medication is kicking in and starting to feel a little more positive. I’ve lost over a stone in weight (no bad thing) but that’s just lack of appetite. 

I’ve got to wait till April to see a MH specialist, services just aren’t there these days unless you are literally about to jump under a bus, but then that could be too late. What I suppose I’m trying to say is there’s no quick fix, no magic pill, no amazing pschychiatrist who’ll cure you with a click of his fingers. Every single person who suffers is different, some can recover and stabilise in days/weeks others months and years. They say patience is a virtue, so is understanding and empathy. Don’t be too quick to call someone a ‘miserable, idle nutter’. I want to get back to work and want to be ‘normal’ again. It’s took time….but I’m getting there especially with the help of my Nettie…She’s been understanding, kicked me up the arse when I’ve needed it and basically ‘just been there’….Thank you. 

Thanks for listening to me ramble on and take care all

Dave x

  

Guilty?


It’s only been a week since I last wrote and opened up about my latest battle with anxiety and depression. I’ve had some nice comments about it, but I can honestly say I’m not looking for any sympathy or pity, I write at times like these to try to express how it feels to suffer with this condition and hope it might help others to deal with their own MH issues.

My anxiety disorder has always brought me a huge amount of guilt. Guilt that I’m some kind of a fraud, a malingerer who’s just a bit miserable and worries a bit too much. It starts to eat at you that others are judging your every word, movement and thinking (and maybe saying it aloud) that there’s nothing wrong with you and you should just ‘pull yourself together and get on with it’…thing is, you can’t.

There’s a massive feeling I’m letting everyone down, my fiancee, my family, colleagues. This leads to the massive feelings of guilt and doubts in your mind thinking ‘maybe they’re right’ ‘maybe I am a massive fraud’. As any anxiety sufferer will know one doubtful thought leads to another and another and within minutes you’ve got hundreds of these negatives swirling round your head. In my own case this can rapidly lead to the shakes, an uncontrollable twitch in my leg, my stomach tightens and the anxious thoughts very quickly turn to fear. If you recognise these feelings, you’ll know that if you don’t try and calm yourself down, you’re heading for the dreaded Panic Attack.

I’m in my fourth week of being off work, I’m struggling to leave the house, I’ve forced myself to the shops, but it’s hard…I think everyone is looking at me, paranoid they’re pointing their fingers at me and muttering ‘guilty’ under their breaths. I received a letter from the NHS yesterday saying my doctor had referred me to see a MH specialist so I’ll be ringing them tomorrow. Even so, the doubts are there that they’ll think I’m guilty of being a fraud…it’s totally irrational, but I’m just trying to let you know how it feels for me.

There’s an old saying in the MH communities that just because you can’t see bandages or physical damage doesn’t mean you’re not scarred inside.

So Guilty or not….I don’t know.

Shutting Down Again

  
Nearly 2yrs to the day since I last blogged, wrote down my thoughts and rambled on for all to see. A lot has happened in those 2yrs, me and Nettie were offered a little council flat which after some work we turned into our own. We acquired a ‘how can I put this?’ …a rather camp cat called Benny. In November 2014 I was offered a driving job, delivering medicines to chemists around Yorkshire which I loved. Then on Christmas Day 2014 my Dad went to sleep and never woke up. 

 It was a ‘surreal’ time, no time to grieve properly for a giant of a man who never gave up on me during my battles with Mental Health problems the previous years. He actually went to his grave seeing me settled in a new job, with a loving fiancée and dare I say it ….happy.

Late last year Nettie got a job which she adores and is very happy with…around September, I had a small blip and went back on meds, I worked through it. Everyone was dreading Christmas, the first anniversary of Dads death, but the family pulled together and we made it a special time for mum.

For a while a few incidents at work had left me with a feeling of always looking over my shoulder, starting to doubt myself…it came to a head 2 weeks ago when an incident led to me having a panic attack like I’ve never experienced before and as if all at once the feelings of 2011-13 returned with a vengeance. The day after found myself in the familiar surroundings of the Drs surgery, shaking, crying and literally ‘broken’ also signed off work for 2 weeks. My head has become a mush, overthinking every possible worst case scenario, not being able to talk to my gorgeous, understanding partner, not wanting to leave the house as I think everyone is looking at me and judging me. My appetite has disappeared and I know I’m in the full on grip of a Mental breakdown. Once you start sliding it’s almost impossible to put the brakes on.

As word has got round that I’m ‘not well’ I’ve noticed contact with friends and some family dwindling…I suppose they’ve seen it all before with me and think ‘here we go again’. I went back to see the Doctor on Friday and asked if I could be referred to see a Mental Health worker. Thing is, I know that government cuts have left these services hanging by a thread and could well be waiting months to see someone. 

Through all this, Nettie has been a constant, there with a cuddle, wiping away my tears when I find myself crying and shaking for no reason and stopping me sitting in a corner rocking back and forth.

I fought so hard to build my self confidence back up after 2012, to be more social, to work hard and basically to be ‘normal’. Thing is, I’m not normal. I have GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) and depression. I see my problems in many other people, even my mum has understandably had bouts since Dads death. It’s frightening how quickly your MH problems can literally return overnight. I’m going to have to ride this one out. I have Nettie watching out for me and for a change a very understanding doctor. 

I’m sorry this has been a ramble, but I’ve found myself apologising for lots of things the past few weeks. Take care all

Dave xxx 

 

The Beginning of the End?

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It’s been a bit weird since I last blogged. I’ve felt myself slipping back down, mentally and physically. Insomnia has returned and 4.30am has become my usual waking time. I’m carrying ‘The Fear’ again, that knot in your stomach that everything’s about to collapse and go wrong. It quite easily could.

Since the last blog I’ve spent a bit of time on Facebook as someone  started a group all about the school I used to attend (now sadly demolished) I’ve reconnected with names from the past that I’ve not heard from for 30yrs (I left in 1984) The group is full of stories from my time at school, things we got up to, the characters, the teachers and I’ve been swept along in a wave of fuzzy, warm nostalgia for a time when everything seemed ….easier, simpler. I enjoyed my school years, I really did. I was a different person back then, but the more I think about it, the seeds of my illness were being sown back then….

I’m from a family of four lads. My two older brothers and one younger. My Mum says I was a quiet kid, never far from her side, or content to play on my own making tracks out of wooden pegs for my Matchbox cars. Apparently there were no kids round my age to play with, my older brothers were close in age and knocked around together, my younger brother six years younger. Mam says I came out of my shell around 11yrs when I started ‘big school’. I made friends and was known by people and teachers because of my elder brothers. My older bro’s were cool, both mega sporty and at the heart of the school teams. I loved sport, especially the footy, but I was a skinny kid with dodgy eyesight. I made it as a sub for the school team on a few occasions, but not good enough for the main side. It’s a feeling I now know well, the feeling of ‘not being good enough’ and never quite ‘there’. I was good at other things though, I could talk the talk, was mad on my music and learning to play guitar. I put myself forward to act in school plays, as a class delegate and had formed my first band. My elder brothers had left school and I now had a bit of ‘cool’ about me. In 1982 I triumphed as the Lion in The Wizard of Oz luvvies!!

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So what’s this to do with depression and anxiety in later life? I was a try all, I wanted to please everyone and be the centre of attention, a bit of a clown…an entertainer. It didn’t come naturally, so I had to work at it with the fear of failure very real even at the age of 14. Back then the anxiety manifested itself physically. I was as thin as a rake and suffered a nasty little rash on the back of my hand which back then was attributed to ‘nerves’. I ploughed on at school with the band, knocking around with the lads and then in the 4th year that thing called ‘first love’ reared its head. We were together nearly 2 yrs and she dumped me about a year after we left school. I know we’ve all been there, but I took it very hard. Tears, snot, sleepless nights, overthinking and ‘The Fear’ in my stomach. I’d failed, the failure that has constantly hung over me began back then.

Back to the present. I’ve started reading the autobiography of cricketer Marcus Trescothick. Marcus has suffered his own personal hell through anxiety and depression and cut short an England career. He states that the seeds of his illness manifested at 11yrs old when he was taken away on a cricket trip away from his home and family, Its what finished his career with England as the thought of touring abroad was too much for him. What I’m saying is, sometimes you have to look way back to see where it all started.

Like I said, it’s lovely to reconnect with old friends, but with me there’s a downside. A lot of these people have gone on to be very successful, millionaires, their own businesses. I’m not jealous, in fact I’m proud to be associated with a school that turned out some good, good folk. Thing is, I’m 45, suffer chronic anxiety and depression, on benefits and don’t have a bean to show as far as career and money goes….so in my (still 14yr old head) I failed with honours and the anxiety of just getting from week to week at the moment is quite frankly…a shitter.

I don’t want to end on a massive down so I want to say that I have loving, supportive people around me. I’m still close to my family and I’m sure these past few shit years will become a memory and it’ll get better. I still have one last gripe though. My schools motto was a load of bollocks….‘Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough’!! The worst motto a future depressive could ever get stuck in his head!!!

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Everything Changes

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The pic above is the earliest I have of me playing a gig. I think its about 1987, the venue was a famous Sheffield club from the 80’s called ‘The Limit’. The photo makes me laugh now as it was taken about 11.30 at night, we were first on supporting another local band. The girl in the pic looking on is my ex-wife (honestly, there were a few more there!!) We’d arrived to set up our gear at about 7 that evening and once that was done we could only retire to a nearby hostelry until gig time. A few beverages were consumed. About 30 seconds after that pic was taken (I think we were on our 3rd song) there was an almighty crash from behind me. I turned round to find our drummer laid on the floor, legs in the air, with a cymbal on top of him. Unknown to me, he’d been necking a bottle of vodka he’d brought with him all night and was absolutely paralytic. He’d fell off his stool halfway through the song and was floundering to get back up. Now some things you can cover up on stage, a broken string, messed up lyrics etc, but the drummer falling off his stool mid song pissed…err, not really. I made a mumbled apology that he was ill and we’d have to cut our set short. Me and the bass player grabbed the drummer by the collar and booted him into the dressing room!

Its nearly 30 years ago, but seems like yesterday, just a naïve 19yr old doing what I’d wanted to do since I first picked a guitar up at the age of 11 and wrote my first two chord song. I wanted to be John Lennon then, at the time of the pic above I’d had a few bands, but this was going to be big, we were going to be the next ‘Smiths’, be interviewed in the NME and maybe go on tour. It never happened. I kept dabbling with bands, but then ‘adult’ life took over. Had to have a job, married at 22, first child at 26. Never enough money to afford my own house or make plans for the future and in my early 20’s (about 23 I think) I had my first meltdown and ended up on my first course of anti-depressants. Life carried on though and you didn’t talk about it back then. Still taboo, pull yourself together Dave and get on with it, people have things a lot worse than you blah, blah fucking blah.

The guitar got put away for quite a few years until my early 30’s when I met an old friend in a pub who was doing music sessions in there twice a week. ‘Come down and play sometime’ he said. I did and ended up staying about 5yrs! I learned to play again properly, develop a little bit of a singing voice and a taste for quite a few pints of Guinness every week. Also during this time my marriage broke up and I had 2 long term relationships that ended badly. I still had my guitar though, formed another band, did some gigs then went out playing solo. I was pouring out my inner soul into my songs which I’ll readily admit at times can be a ‘touch on the dark side’. I wrote better stuff when I was in emotional pain and turmoil. I’d also mentally started breaking down again culminating in the events of 2012 documented in earlier blogs.

For some reason that even I can’t work out, I kept playing live gigs. It was (and still is) a nightmare. I get anxious, the shakes, forget stuff when I’m on stage…but its like I just can’t say no, but I’ve also met some fantastically supportive people on the Sheffield music scene many of whom have experienced their own problems with mental health and anxiety. I keep plodding on at the music, I know I’m not going to make it big at 45yr old and the songs I write are few and far between these days, but I can knock out a decent cover or 2 and sing my tales of woe!

I’m not the lad I was at 19….I’m fatter, hairs gone thin and grey and feel like I’ve had the stuffing knocked out of me by that thing called life. Mentally, I can regress to being 19 in my head and I actually think I still am at times. The real, big, bad world scares the shit out of me. I long for that time in the 80’s when everything seemed a lot easier and simple and I had my massive dreams of being a rock god. As the title of the blog and Take Twat said ‘Everything Changes’ ….it does and we can’t get it back…past is past and all that. I’ll keep plodding though and feel free to listen to stuff here

http://www.reverbnation.com/davesleney

but even these songs are about 5-10yrs old now. The last thing I recorded was again 2yrs back and I proper regressed to my 80’s youth (Pet Shop Boys??)

https://soundcloud.com/d-sleney/through-the-night 

So there you have a potted musical history of myself and I’m available anytime to play weddings, parties, definitely funerals or maybe your front room (seriously, just add booze and some mates!) and I’m putting myself through the wringer at the gig below in March.

KEEP ON ROCKING!!

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Last gig at Eten Café 1/2/14

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Next gig!!