Sleep 2.0 – On Fatigue, Depression and How It Relates to (C-) PTSD

Watched a documentary on sleep research tonight. The link points to a show in German, but I’m sure it’s syndicated from something on Discovery Channel or something. So I have to ask you to dig deep(er) for yourself for an English version of the show. Anyway, here’s the gist of things: The entire show confirmed everything I’ve empirically experienced and analyzed over the past years. Bottomline: Sleep is an essential basic need. As such, it’s non-negotiable, as in: You’ve got to have enough restorative sleep. Period. Even a healthy person does. As soon as sleep deprivation occurs – the reasons are manifold, sleep apnea due to e.g. being overweighed is one -, health and normal functioning deteriorate – and very quickly so!

In the past years, I’ve done a lot of reading and experimenting in regards to improving my overall health situation. That is, after – and even before – I got my diagnosis of (C-) PTSD. I sank my teeth into getting better, into healing, into recovering as much as possible. (Luckily I now know that it can absolutely be done, as amongst others, like. e.g. Amber Lyon, Michele Rosenthal says on her blog and in her upcoming book). That’s the good news.

The other news and aspect I’ve only recently identified as an absolute must-have is healthy sleep. The documentary made this crystal-clear – not only to me. You see, with PTSD and the nightmares and flashbacks and hypervigilance as some of the most pressing symptoms, sleep is a “scarce commodity” as Michele Rosenthal says in her blog entry. And according to above mentioned and linked documentary, sleep deprivation alone brings on a lot of dysfunction like microsleep in your waking hours – which is among the highest ranking reasons for fatal car accidents, b.t.w. and which is also mentioned in the international handbook of war, torture and terrorism as a basic method of torturing detainees….  -, mood swings and – depression. You heard that right: Only a few nights of insufficient sleep increase the risk for developing depression in its aftermath by a factor of 5 to one! (It’s even higher for children and another overlooked side effect is for them to be falsely diagnosed with ADHD – because children become hyperactive from lack of sleep).

Why would I go at lengths of writing a blog about this? You see, in trying to sort out the symptoms that made my life a living hell at times and in making an attempt of tracking them back to their potential cause one by one and then eliminating that cause if possible, I often arrived at the seemingly insurmountable conundrum of fatigue and depression. In simple words: Which came first? Fatigue or depression? Was I feeling tired because the physical aspects of depression had their grip on me? Or was I being depressed because I never found good sleep? Which was it? Which was I supposed to target first?

Above mentioned show seems to have given a very clear answer: (Good) Sleep can’t be rated highly enough! And since the documentary also made a strong point about the correlation of sleep and eating habits, lack of sleep sets off a cascade of other symptoms often manifesting so-called co-morbidities like e.g. eating disorders. To be more specific: If you’re feeling fatigued, chances are you develop food cravings for not exactly healthy foods (like fatty, sugary ones, often resulting in diabetes type II ). There’s also a tendency to binge-eat (overeat) on those foods as you’re dying to replenish your personal energy level. I can personally attest to this vicious cycle totally kicking in if I haven’t gotten enough sleep: The brain’s signals for being hungry are all out of bounds and have you hungry almost all day. When you do eat, the perceived prior craving often results in totally overeating (binge eating) as the consumption of fatty and sugary foods sets of a surge of dopamine in the brain (the “reward” neurotransmitter), which then counters the feeling of being depressed from perceived low energy. And sure enough, eating too much at inappropriate times – ruins your sleep, of course! I had almost arrived at this insight from simply observing myself. And now there’s total affirmation on all these interdependencies from researchers!

So, in closing, my personal conclusing for starting the healing process from (C-) PTSD is this: Make it your top priority to find enough restorative, healthy sleep! (ideally 8 hours, 7 at the very least according to the documentary). You are going to feel totally self-empowered per se after waking up from a good night’s sleep! How do you do that? Move to a quieter place, if you have to. Find CDs, radio channels or recordings with relaxing, meditative music (spoken words or mantras are counterproductive from my experience – make sure, it’s instrumental music only, such as ambient, meditative, sleep inducing music. For some, binaureal beats may work – but maybe only until some time further into the process. And use with caution! If you have e.g. ever suffered from epilepsy or suffered a stroke, binaureal beats may trigger those – ask your doctor first in this case!). Make time for being outdoors as much and as often as you can! (Depending on your personal shape and considering other conditions, I’d suggest a medium- to fast-paced walk for some 30 mins. during your lunch-break and after having had a small, healthy meal; add another 30-60 mins. of moderate workout after work – not in a gym, but outdoors in a park or something! Get appropriate clothing if you have to. Nothing beats working out in a natural environment and a walk does wonders to your body and your psyche!).

Also, see Michele’s blog on nutrition and what works (better) for individuals recovering from (C-)PTSD and what are the “no-no’s” in regards to that. (I’m still working on that… 😉 )

However, the most important thing to keep in mind is this – and I owe it to Michele’s work and the many kind supporters and co-travellers along the way: You can eliminate PTSD-symptoms 100% and you can have a rewarding, meaningful, successful life! (In my darkest hours, I never thought I’d stand a chance to get there. I’m glad I didn’t fold then, because now I know there are people who managed to totally overcome and heal their PTSD).

Another thing: You are strong! If you weren’t – you wouldn’t be here anymore…

P.S. I should mention that I have managed to sleep quite a bit as of late. Eversince I do, I have not experienced depression. Sadness sometimes, maybe, mostly from feeling isolated, but not depression, which I can safely tell apart from other states of mind and heart by now.

P.P.S. This comes with a strong prior trigger warning! However, if you’re a sceptic (like me), you may find it beneficial to read about Amber Lyon’s complete recovery from severe PTSD!

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Binges – Each One Another Stab at Slowly Killing Myself

So I have identified two main residual problems: Lack of sleep – or poor quality thereof – and the resulting fatigue can and often does trigger a depressive episode. The other thing: Massive overeating at night. I’m not even all clear on the reasons for that anymore, but I think it’s an ill-conceived attempt at trying to enjoy myself with something that can’t possibly be met with derision, abuse or contempt (earlier in life, whenever I did genuinely become enthusiastic about something, I was met with verbal, emotional and physical abuse of the worst kind to the point that even as a child, I didn’t want to go on living and felt all misplaced and “square”, an accident of life).

Today, I still punish myself whenever things work out well! The better the results, the more I punish myself for them. I can’t seem to escape this brutal pattern at all. There are tiny windows, where I’m o.k. with myself and the world and begin to feel something that others may experience more or less on a constant basis (minus their own daily struggles at the workplace, of course and for example). These windows practically solely happen in the absence of people and the typical interactions with them. Like, when I’m outdoors, alone, riding my bike or swimming in the lake and taking a nap before or after. All these activities I have been doing all by myself in years. For all practical intents and purposes, I guess I’ve firmly arrived at being a loner at most times (and only in part voluntarily so)

I had a fairly productive day today, all things considered. Slept in, did my usual checking on emails and Facebook, made a couple of phone calls I had jotted down to remind me, then went about recording some guitars for a friend’s piece for about 4 hours straight (recording and editing, I should add). Did my shopping, came back, changed clothes, the rain had stopped, I got on the bike and did one of my semi-long laps to the lake, enjoyed a beautiful sunset, had a chat with a professional photographer there, then headed back and fixed myself dinner. That’s when usually all dams break and I give in to a massive binge. Actually, the eating really only happens for needing to reward myself for my self-discipline in some way, rewarding myself for not having given in to the depression, the loneliness, the self-contempt. Somewhere between the first bite and the last, something happens that has me lose all respect and appreciation of the effort that went into structuring my day and going about things one might consider productive. The more contended I feel before pigging out, the harder I annihilate all that with the ensuing binge. It’s like trying to kill myself in a very slow and painful way.

I know, it’s all based on an erroneous concept of self, of self-worth, actually. I am completely aware of that. And yet – I don’t seem able to reclaim control over this process, this pattern. I had had better control over this previously – or at least, I’d like to think so. But now I feel completely helpless in terms of that. What’s worse: I don’t believe in therapy helping at all in this regard. Why? Simple: Because no therapy, no doctor and much less any medication can quench the thirst for genuine love and appreciation, the kind of which I was denied from early on. Ironically, trying to fill that void literally by stuffing all kinds of food into myself doesn’t help any more, either. It should be easy to just let it go then. But it’s not. I am at a loss as to explaining why and how that is. I mean, yes, I’m aware of the chemical reward system in the brain, the dynamics of cravings and their satisfaction and such. I know all that. But knowing that doesn’t seem to help, either. Maybe I’m just burning out on willpower, the one thing that has kept me here in the first place. Maybe I’m burning out on having to struggle so hard 24/7. Maybe I’m all burnt out on life and haven’t really realized it yet.

P.S. It’s kind of uncanny that right after having completed this blog, I find the news percolating about Robin Williams seemingly having committed suicide this noon. Reports say he had been suffering from severe depression as of late with a history of earlier alcohol and drug abuse. Looks as if there is no cure to lack of love, in particular when that lack of love happens at the most vulnerable times in our lives…

How Comorbidities Manifest – Tentative Findings

A Warning: This article may retrigger some of you in substantial ways. Read at your own risk and discretion. It deals with tracking down my personal set of symptoms of C-PTSD and comorbidities coming from that. You may find it helpful, but at the expense of getting triggered.

update: I’ve attached my own tentative approach to findings about initially experienced trauma and its fairly complex set of outcomes as a kind of “trauma map” along with primary and secondary outcomes (comorbidities). A picture is said to say more than 1,000 words… well, hopefully it does.

Last night I went for another musical night out downtown. There is a monthly open stage night, which I try to set money aside for from the very meager monthly budget I have been depending on since around 2009-ish. For those of you not familiar with the music scene: An open stage or open mic night is usually commenced by some kind of “house band” regularly performing in the venue, while visiting musicians get to sit in upon the second set of music. If there is enough variety in terms of instruments, sometimes complete new ad hoc bands form for a set or two. I like that particular venue, where this happens for the musicians there, the nice staff, the convenient location, which is not exactly at the heart of the city, so I can find parking easily (or take the train, when feeling up to it). More than anything, I like the kind of music being performed along with the appreciative audience. Although I’m still feeling pretty weak from the after effects of all that medication that they flushed me with undergoing surgery about two weeks ago, I kind of dragged myself there as it is my one-stop-chance to socialize once a month – and I’m sorely missing the socializing aspect and having become this isolated recluse has brought about new problems I previously didn’t know I could have. But I’m digressing again. Comorbidities then…

I mentioned last night as it made me aware of another set of interrelated symptoms coming about from an underlying, only recently identified condition of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). But before I go into that, I need to fill in another blank: I had been pondering hard as to my relationship with music in general and why it seemed so hard for me all of a sudden to rekindle the passion I had been feeling for it for almost all my life. I now don’t have too much doubt about that any longer: The degree of primary and secondary symptoms had aggravated to the point, where it completely overrode any potential for becoming passionate about anything. In other words: Where acute anxiety and fear culminating in panic attacks rule your days, there simply isn’t any room for the heart to beat calmly enough that you get to the place, where the Muse resides: In the quiet, still moments of the heart and mind, in the recesses of the soul seldomly visited – unless in those moments of inspiration. But you can’t feel inspired when standing on a battlefield in full riot gear all of the time, figuratively speaking. To stay in that analogy: How can you have a quiet moment when grenades, mortar fire and machine gun shots whizz by left and right? Right?! It’s been like that for me for the larger part of 2009, all of 2010 and again the larger part of 2011. Adversity had risen to unprecedented levels, which simply didn’t leave any room for even the remotest moment of relaxation or coming into myself. And simply practicing the physical movements by forcing myself to play the instruments (guitar and piano) felt weird, pointless and didn’t help to rekindle said passion. In that context: I don’t consider myself a musician as much as I’d like to think of myself as a songwriter/composer, who happens to play some instruments and sings. When I think of it and during times I afforded myself the most dedicated training, it was the song that was almost paramount to me – and certain instrumental parts that added to the overall song structure and arrangement. Whatever training on the instrument I afforded myself or received in a formal setting, I always regarded as mere “skill” to come before songwriting and arrangement. But naturally – I’m digressing again.

So last night I went to this open stage night downtown, which I had been looking forward to for some time – and more than anything for reasons of getting to socialize! (I really feel like a dying plant left in the shade about that forced on isolation, I need to feel part of some kind of group or social context of some kind. Playing in bands has always and often conveniently provided that. About the convenience – that may have become a different story. I guess, I’ll find out about that soon enough). I had not slept all that well or much the night before and gone about my regular routine, which consists of lunges and push ups after getting up, fixing myself a small breakfast, then getting on the computer for a couple of hours, usually to be followed by some going outdoors and moderately working out, like e.g. riding the bicycle or taking a walk of an hour at the very least. Since I’m still feeling the after effects of the medication from having undergone surgery in the hospital about two weeks ago, I couldn’t bring myself to doing the latter and had to rest after a late lunch. I took a shower and got myself ready for going out, went there, took a slow walk at where I arrived, then attended the event. I felt weak and a little dizzy the entire time. It wasn’t until short after midnight that I realized that my feeling weak and dizzy had been due to major fatigue along with the physical effects of the antibiotics and cortisone, which my body is still busy getting decomposed and flushed out. Despite all that, I enjoyed myself and the company there and was my old self, whom I’d describe as open minded, approaching people, being mildly talkative and generally sociable. The latter, however, I only mildly resumed after this major boost in confidence and courage that overcoming my fear of hospital has provided me with! I had literally holed myself up for the past six years on account of feeling inadequate and damaged to the point of it showing in pronounced ways, the latter of which I didn’t want to risk getting punished and bullied for one single more time! Since I had been feeling fatigued, depressed, exhausted, hopeless, utterly defeated and often times angry to the point of being raving mad with the world – and from disappointment so… – I saw no point in going out there and getting beaten up some more on account of all the aforementioned. After all, how many times can you run into a wall at full throttle and pick up the debris from the impact? I felt I had done that enough times to afford myself a break from that brutal experience. Yet, the latter had me isolated for good – or so it seemed.

In analyzing my personal outcomes in a more structured, commonly viable way, I tentatively identify more or less chronic fatigue coming from a somewhat excessive need for good sleep, the latter in turn being the result of constant hyperarousal from getting triggered on a more or less permanent basis. I now seem to better grasp the full impact of trauma, in particular since Jean’s sharing of this article, which pinpoints the facilitating neurological processes predominantly located in the limbic system, with some involvement of the amygdala and other “fear-based”, ancient/archaic systems in the brain circuitry. So, depending on the type of trauma incurred – by the way, in looking through this list, I have identified repeated and ongoing exposure to eight seven of all twelve types of traumatizing experiences… talk about a full plate in that regard…. – the number of triggers will vary and thus create a more or less densified, intense situation of being triggered with varying degrees of retraumatization, which in turn and again make for depletion of physical resources more rapidly than in non-affected individuals. I would mention those days as proof, when I had the opportunity to find sleep for no less than eight hours – individual needs may very and generally decrease as one gets older, the latter in affected as well as non-affected individuals alike: On those days, I felt satisfyingly energized, settled and resilient, which in turn generated enough confidence in myself to take on the challenges of the day. On days that followed a night of sufficient and fairly healthy sleep with alternating healthy patterns of NREM and REM sleep, I would feel productive and self-sufficient and go about my routines in an organized and sufficiently efficient manner. Days following poor sleep typically feel like a hangover, even when no previous alcohol consumption is involved. (I have quit drinking alcohol altogether to eliminate yet another source of maladpative self-medication).

Feelings of exhaustion, lonliness and despair seem to have gradually brought about my eating disorder of occasional binge eating – in order to drive away that feeling of thorough exhaustion and from not giving myself permission to simply be exhausted or endure otherwise negative feelings! (The latter, I’d tentatively identify as yet another outcome of perpetuated abuse in the form of self-abusive, self-deteriorating behavior in so far as I don’t seem to have been given the opportunity of expressing negative feelings without ensuing reprimand or emotional and occasional physical abuse in earlier life). What is more and from my experience, an eating binge not only caters to dissipating exhaustion, it temporarily – though with taxing side effects – takes care of other basic needs largely unmet during my early development and leaving behind major emotional deficiencies: Depending on the type of food, there typically is a burst of endorphines that gets rapidly released into the system and binding to the opioid receptors in the brain, resulting in feelings of rapid relaxation and feelings of being safe and nurtured beyond physical needs. From the mechanism of action brought about, it is no surprise any longer how hard it becomes to break that vicious cycle of dependency. In other words: With the bulk of basic emotional need having remained unmet throughout my earlier personal development – or rather lack thereof -, binge eating seems to deliver in regards to all residual deficiencies.

And there is another aspect to it, which had crossed my mind a few years ago and which I had meant to monitor more closely and keep in better check: Eating binges and often so at unusual times, like e.g. late in the evening or even at night, seem to mess up the messages of physical needs in general – or their correct interpretation thereof, to be more accurate. In other words: I seem to have been mixing up feelings of fatigue and hunger and vice versa, typically resulting in an eating binge, when I should have tried to find sleep instead. One could go as far saying that I haven’t eaten or slept in a normal, healthy manner throughout my entire adult life! Last night strongly reminded me of that tentative finding. I had felt weak from the medication along with some recurring fatigue, but dragged myself to that venue in – successfully met – hopes of having a good time out with other people. Given my still fragile condition following surgery and heavy medication, I noticed this strange dizziness throughout the night, while displaying behavior of natural, authentic exhiliration. Around midnight, I notice a critical point of my body giving way to the physical exhaustion. I had some water and had to sit down, then quickly excused myself and rode back home for about 45 mins and went to bed immediately. This time, I had managed to correctly interpret the signals sent by my body. At other times… I seem to resort to some self-abuse in the form of a late eating binge, which then naturally results in insomnia and/or poor sleep.

It’s going to become crucial to be more observing of my physical needs, particularly so after having recovered from the outcomes of that heavy medication (antibiotics and a messed up bowel tract from it being the most resilient, longest lasting outcome, resulting in said feelings of physical weakness beyond previous compare…). In this context, having been at the hospital seems to have “reset” my system in unexpected ways, thus shedding some light on the interdependencies of physical triggers of one or the other kind. Finding good sleep seems to be the pinnacle in thwarting and deactivating this vicious cycle of (physical) dependencies and co-dependencies. And sadly, sleep deprivation has been a given throughout my entire adult life and remains to be the core problem, as the routines of my landlady’s along with the proximity here run counter to my own. I have pinpointed the set of problems to the initial one. But with so many other issues that arise from it – I don’t see a solution there, not short term and not in the long run, either. I’m going to push for a higher degree of disability coming from my recent formal diagnosis of C-PTSD along with an attempt of pushing for extended, special needs in regards to social welfare. The latter… equals the beginning of yet another battle with the system, quite expectably spanning several years and with no clearly anticipated outcome yet. That’s my life for you…

P.S. I’ve tried to organize the interdependencies of trauma and behavioral outcomes the way I seem them or have experienced them so far. This is my personal “trauma & outcomes map”.

trauma map

My own tentative approach to experienced emotional trauma and its outcomes, W. Nieke 2013

Eating Binge and Triggers

I am sad to report that I just gave in to a minor binge. I had been pretty tired and beat all day for having stayed up late last night and not getting sleep for more than roughly four hours. When I woke up this morning from my landlady walking around at 7.30ish, I had meant to go back to sleep for another two hours, but never managed to as my body seems to have produced a full fight-or-flight response even upon waking up. So I decided to get up and use the extra time. I was glad about the extra hours, but dragged through the day, not really up and motivated for anything. I forced myself, though, did some paperwork, emails, the blog and other online stuff, then practiced the guitar for about 1.5 hours. In the early afternoon, I had a light lunch and took a nap for about an hour later on, ran errands by car, came back, played on the computer for another hour and a half, then went for my walk of about 60-90 minutes. I felt fatigued, though not cranky (the sun helps). I am also still feeling weak from the aftereffects of the medication at the hospital (the antibiotics, I guess). Maybe yesterday’s program was a little too much: Seeing the hypnotherapist in the afternoon after yet another fairly short night and productive morning, then having a pretty heavy session with him to be followed by helping his partner in life with some computer work for compensation at their home (he agrees on treating me on that basis, we’ve become friends over the years, which I’m very grateful for as I hold him and his knowledge and skills in high regard. I have also built a modest, simple website for his practice in return for treating me – I  had insisted on the latter, i.e. doing some compensatory work). I took a walk afterwards for about an hour, then went to see a beautiful concert and spent an excellent evening in an intimate setting at a nearby music venue. I was welcomed in a very warm, joyful manner and felt great interacting with the people who know me there. I even made new friends with the performing artists, who were totally accessible and likeable in addition to delivering a really fine, entertaining performance of the highest musical quality. I was almost my old self prior to the big break in my bio in 2007 – and I thoroughly enjoyed myself! I felt great and I returned home all worked up and being in a positive, encouraged mood, although tired and beat. But I was too excited to go to bed, so I stayed up until around 3 am and went to sleep only then.

I woke up from steps on the wooden stairwell in the building, which connects my bedroom in the basement to the open main area of the house. I mean, don’t get me wrong: It’s a beautiful house and if I lived here with someone of my own choosing – like a partner-, I’d probably love the open space with lots of light coming in from all sides. My own appartment is separate from the main wing and separated by two doors, located one floor down from the upstairs living room and kitchen (her area, I have my own small living room and tiny kitchen). Although my landlady is a nice, cultivated and mostly quiet lady, I hear her walking around when she’s here and sometimes her being on the phone. I don’t mind that as much as her appearing in front of the window next to where my desk and computer are as well as in the garden in front of the French windows of the main part of the flat. She had mentioned her being present in the garden a few times before I moved in and I thought I would be able to handle this. And I did for the most part. But for some reason, this week she’s here every day and all day. And I get triggered in very bad ways. I feel intruded on, monitored, in short: Not safe (she doesn’t really monitor me and respects my space, only knocks on the connecting door or the window, if she has a message for me. When she does, which happens only once in a while, my body goes into “anxiety mode”. The fight-and-flight response also sets in every time I notice a movement next to the window left from my computer desk or in front of the other window. I feel like a caged animal with the warden approaching the cage. I am aware of how insane this will sound, but the physical response is substantial. I can’t slip into the “flow” of getting lost in whatever it is that I’m doing. And I have come to love that feeling of being lost in whatever current activity I’m going about on the computer or when playing the guitar or whatever. I have identified monotasking and “getting lost” in concentration as one of the very, very beneficial alterations to my prior modus operandi on the jobs and projects I had been working on as a way of reducing stress levels substantially. In other words: One thing at a time and ideally at a pace I get to set instead of someone else pushing and pressing. The latter – I can simply not tolerate any longer as this equals getting triggered in the above described way. But – I have barely ever managed to be in this place of sweet oblivion to the world around me while being totally consumed by writing, reading and composing music some time ago. I call it the visiting muse when this mode of being in the current activity fully kicks in and I seem to have identified this as a need of mine in order to get the work done in a way where I feel I not only full control, but also full access to my emotional self prior to the trauma – almost as if there had never been such a thing like trauma. I consider this way of “getting lost” a huge step forward towards healing in my personal journey and it had been working nicely for a while after I had found this to be important for me. But it only works in a place where I can feel perfectly safe and safe meaning zero potential to get triggered. Sadly, this has never been the case all too often after some time in 2007 and after the new neighbour in my previous appartment had moved in (which is why I haven’t really resumed writing and recording new music). Not only would he break my focus by returning from his nearby job for lunch and slamming the doors as hard as possible, but his routine would involve venting loudly and violently by playing on his computer playstation all the while screaming abusive names at whatever game character he was playing against. Yes. Don’t ask… Of course, I approached him about that and since we had a sort of friendly interaction at first, I did my best to work the “understanding string” in him, explaining my getting triggered and doing my best to convey it in terms someone not suffering from the condition might at least get some idea about. To no avail. Let’s just say that things got to a point, when it became a question of time that one of us would have become physical. In short: There was no way in staying there, although I tried and didn’t really want to move away. But my former landlord wasn’t backing me on this, so I had to give in. It had become full blown torture and I had never been closer to losing grip of myself and losing control over my impulses. If I had… well… I’m sure, it would have likely amounted to full blown brawling and seriously hurting each other, I’m afraid. By the way, this situation had been going on for about 4 years. It wasn’t until then that I found this appartment and got to move in. I had been looking for a suitable place for all that time and realtors or landlords would flat out deny me even looking at the places on account of my material situation (depending on welfare and being prematurely retired). In retrospect, this was the first time that I really, seriously contemplated on ways of ending my life. I’m not talking about suicidal ideations, I’m talking about looking at dependable, safe options to conk out and be done with it.

I seem back to this “mode” of insomnia, fatigue and despair throughout the day as well as being petrified from getting triggered often (so much for the duration of the emotional boost of having overcome my fear of hospital… *ugh*). I’m also pretty sure that last year’s episode of major depression, which lasted almost all year, happened on account of it: I don’t get to express myself in other ways here than in writing (at least writing works fairly well, the triggers don’t limit me that much from it). I can’t seem to enjoy playing my instruments, because for being in the moment with all my attention, I need to feel safe. Physically safe. Sudden unexpected movements or noises, while I’m in this mode of oblivion, trigger the fear-based chemicals and physical response in my body (ironically, a defined stage above the audience is a safe place by that definition; some club settings like last night – errm… that’s a different story altogether…). Luckily, around here that response is not as hard and as lasting as in the other building, where I wouldn’t have a chance of coming back to some peace for hours on end. In other words: Whenever I got disturbed, whatever it was I had been working on, I might as well have dropped right away. There simply was no point in trying to carry on. It’s not as bad here, but when disturbance happens… the feeling and focus are gone. I know, it’s crazy – at least to the unassuming reader/visitor. And I can’t seem to get any control over this. I am trying. I speak my mantra in the mornings, at night and in the situation or right after a trigger happened. But so far – to no immediate avail of quickly reducing the stress level so I get to carry on. In all honesty: This is a devastating experience. This way, I can’t access my talents, let alone hone my skills (which I’d otherwise resume, passion or not). If not that – I don’t have anything meaningful left. I live alone and don’t expect to share my life with a significant other again. But just be without purpose? Sounds like there’s no point to that, although I have been enjoying myself whenever and as often as I could in the previous years – but in solitude. The solitude… I can’t seem to endure any longer. In well defined settings, where I have some idea of what to expect, like e.g. last night, I am relaxed and in the moment, at least as audience so far. Being on stage… well, I have mentioned that a couple of times.

Any ideas? Moving elsewhere seems inevitable given this. However, there is no telling, whether I’ll get into a situation like in my old appartment – or worse. In which case – even the most modest of helpful routines would cease to work for me. Technically, there can’t be anything else but a single, small house for me. However, the limitations of subsidized living make it very unlikely to find something within those limitations. Plus, even if I do – which has happened a select few times and again quite recently so -, it is very likely I won’t get to actually move in. After all, I’m not exactly “landlord material”. I was very lucky with this place and landlady here. I feel terrible about my situation and condition being this way and I need to remind myself not to start beating myself up for it like I used to do earlier in life.

It’s a brutal curse to be locked into a constantly overcharged, stressed out, thus easily exhausted and fatigued body. This is what I had hoped to obtain medication for: To be more relaxed on a more constant basis, even if at the expense of some additional fatigue or other side effects in the beginning. If I ever wanted to reconnect with my musical abilities and enjoy them – which is must, for simple mechanical movements don’t really work here-, I need to find a solution for this. But I have run out of ideas as to how to solve or alleviate this. I appreciate your thoughts on this, if you happen across some. Thanks.