Me and My Shadow……. (Depression, my continuing saga)


I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression when I was 33 years old. My very own ‘D’ Day! A big Eureka moment for me as it provided an explanation for my frequent morose and insular nature from an early age.
Being with someone who suffers from depression is a thankless task. You won’t get paid for it! In fact, you need to question whether it’s more hassle then it’s worth. It takes a great amount of integrity, strength and patience to be able to tolerate a person with depression. And it takes its toll on this person because most of the time they can’t help. And it’s natural for people to want to ‘fix’ things. But most of the time, especially during the dark times, we can’t ‘fix’ ourselves so how can others do it? And for the person who suffers from depression, we don’t always want fixing. We want it to go away. Cos we never chose to be like this in the first place. I didn’t want to have life experiences which would most probably affect me for the rest of my life. I don’t want to feel anxious doing daily things like getting in a car and driving, or walking down the street, or going shopping, or worrying whether people will like me, or whether I’m good enough at my job (constant failing). And I feel weak and pathetic because I can’t manage my anxiety and depression every day of my life, never knowing whether it’s going to be a good day or a bad day, and whether the bad day will turn into a few bad days, then a week and then a month. Because that’s what happens. You try to pass off that bad day but before you know it, it’s a month down the line and you’ve totally spiralled without realising. Then when you’re down there, it’s dark with no light to show you the way out. It’s truly shit! I’ve worked out I have short dark periods almost once a year. But then bam! Every few years I get the real humdinger. The one where I don’t care if I walk down the middle of the road and get run over. Or take too many of those sleeping tablets the doctor prescribed to help you just so that you don’t have to think and feel anymore. I’ve got no answers. I tell myself to take every day as it comes cos it might be the day I have a turning point, or feel good and can live my life again. It affects my relationships with everyone. I become distant from my husband, I isolate both socially and in work environments. I don’t want to talk to people which isolates me even more. And I push people away because getting close leads to hurt. And people don’t understand that I fear rejection – so the easiest solution is to reject them first which gives you the delusion that you are in control. Which is laughable really because I’m not remotely in control. I find other ways to make me feel ‘good’ like controlling my eating habits. Depression totally knocks the socks off of all those well tried and tested diet plans for me!
I’ve had my current dip since December. It first became apparent at work. January and February were horrendous (I now have no more sleeping pills). I’m currently off sick (unpaid I might add!) and plodding along in my own little world. Some good days, some bad days. I’m happiest at home with my own company. It’s amazing how you can pretend everything is fine when you’re on your own. Nobody to affect you or interact with you. It even affects how I deal with social media, spasmodically resulting in my coming off of Facebook for periods of time. I’m fine dealing with faceless strangers. They’re no risk and help to keep me occupied. Twitter has been a saving grace for me recently, providing a platform for issues I am interested in and can get stuck into. A great diversion tool!
There’s very little help for people with mental health problems. Counselling and Cognitive Behaviour Treatment are considered effective tools but the funding isn’t there to subsidise such services. The last time I was able to decently make use of such services was when I had private health cover 13 years ago but I don’t have that luxury anymore. My last bout of ‘free’ counselling which finished at Easter was provided by the NHS/MIND and consisted of 6 sessions. Unfortunately this didn’t even scratch the surface. So it’s no wonder doctors palm you off with pills cos what other options are there?? I’m glad for my happy pills because I’m not convinced I’d still be here without them (yes, I did wean myself off approx 10 yrs ago….. Only to end up back in the doctors on a substantially higher dosage. Not a good time!). So this is a feasible option. But it’s not a solution.
Meanwhile lets not forget how selfish and self absorbed I currently feel. For not living my life during these episodes when there are countless people out there denied the opportunity for health or environmental reasons. Who are much worst off than me physically, when all I’ve got is a screwed up mind. I don’t choose to highlight my plight because I hate it with a passion. I want to live a normal life. I don’t remotely feel ‘proud’ of me. And most of the time I don’t even like me.
So that’s ‘Me and My Shadow’. People either like me or don’t like me, tolerate me or don’t tolerate me, stick around when the going gets tough or don’t stick around. As for understanding me……. that’s a difficult one when even I don’t understand me.
Until later……
Anthea xxx

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The Life of a Depressive Social Misfit!

social-misfitI have come to the conclusion that I am one of the most inept persons in social situations that ever existed.  When I talk about social situations, I mean any platform which requires interaction with other persons in any capacity, whether it is work colleagues, family/friends, via social media or just mingling with Joe Public down town.  My lack of ability in the social stakes has been in gradual decline for the past few years, some of it conscious some of it not.  What I am aware of is that it predominantly stems from my uphill struggle with depression and highlights my total intolerance of certain situations.  It results in a lot of anger, both at myself and at people.  I have a constant cauldron of anger bubbling away inside of me.  It’s not very nice.  In fact I hate it.  And I don’t know how to deal with it or get rid of it.  It also brings into the equation a lot of self doubt because I’ve lost perspective on whether the anger I feel at people is justified or not.  But that’s the problem with depression – you totally lose perspective and the ability to rationalise things.  I am at this state.  And all it does is increase the anger in myself at being unable to sort the problem.

I try to treat people as I would like to be treated myself.  I am an avid believer in the mantra ‘behaviour breeds behaviour’.  But I am constantly disappointed because I am realising that this mantra is not reciprocated and it is one of the big issues which fuels my cauldron of anger.

I have a circle of ‘friends’ that I have know for in excess of 11 years now.  I met this circle of friends following the birth of my son and I so desperately needed it following a nasty bout of post natal depression (lesson number 1, never be desperate!).  When my son started school 7 years ago, I had a very quick decline into depression again which was partly self inflicted due to weaning myself totally off the happy pills, plus I turned 40 years old, and was giving my son away to full time education.  Whether due to the depression, or due to real situations, I started to get niggling doubts regarding my relationship with this circle of ‘friends’.  The routine of school life invariably did not fit in with meeting up for our weekly tea and cake resulting in my not being able to join them more often than not.  I’m hoping that I was still fairly level headed and realistic at the time and, consequently, realised that things would change now my son was at school, as is life in general.  But I was hoping for some cognisance of my dilemma and a bit of meeting me half way.  Unfortunately, other than a few cursory comments over not seeing me/my son as often, this didn’t happen.  And I readily admit that I was miffed.  I felt neglected and left out.  So in true Anthea style, I let them get on with it and withdrew.  And spent many a day wallowing in self pity.  I’m pleased to say I eventually bit the bullet and went to the doctor who put me back on happy pills and arranged counselling.  I subsequently got a job as a dinner lady at my son’s school for a bit of pocket money, assisted with school trips and events, and met a couple of new friends.  Eventually I started socialising again with this particular circle of friends  when we could such as during school holidays or for special occasions.  But I distinctly felt that things had shifted and, for one reason or another, we were losing commonality.  Our lack of commonality continued to become more apparent over the years.  We continued to meet when possible but I often found myself sitting there drinking my tea and not being part of the conversations due to not having the same school/nursery circle.  I invariably did not know the people or children they were talking about.  Their children shared the same school/year whereas my son was a year ahead so I didn’t have like experiences or issues to talk about.  This is nobody’s fault.  I don’t blame anyone.  It’s very usual for people to discuss common views,  and they were more than happy to fill me in if I asked. But I soon realised that what they had in common was always going to dominate the conversation and I became hyper-sensitive to this and the fact that I couldn’t contribute or join in.  And it really hit me with force when I realised my son felt the same.

Roll on to more recent years, and I haven’t seen this circle of friends for a fair number of months now.  I’ve got almost a phobic feeling about meeting up with them.  And one of the big reasons for cutting myself out of this group?  I’m not a forgiving person.  My son received notification of his secondary school a year ago.  Only one member of this particular group of friends asked me what school he had got.  Bearing in mind how controversial and quite stressful the allocation of school places is in this competitive day and age, this was quite an important event for me and my son.  Yet only one of them was kind enough to enquire.  In fact, one particular individual actually had the audacity to comment that she didn’t know what school my son was going to in excess of 3 months after he started at secondary!  I don’t expect to be asked about all aspects of my life or for us to live in each other’s pockets.  We’ve all moved on to a certain extent, got jobs, mix in other social circles, etc.  But I expected more from ‘friends’ I’ve known for over 11 years.  It doesn’t take 2 minutes to send a quick email asking how things are.  Despite this, I still wish them all the best with the allocation of school places for their children this year – an issue which I’m sure will have been discussed in great detail between them because they’re now going through it………  But I’m buggered if I’m going to ask them!  Hence my mantra, behaviour breeds behaviour.

I hate Facebook.  In the past year I’ve closed my old Facebook account and opened a new one with very minimal ‘friends’ because I was getting so upset at the number of friends who ‘liked’ posts of mutual friends but never ‘liked’ the occasional post I put on.  In fact it’s still going on despite the fact I’ve got less than 70 friends on Facebook.  Why do people do this?  Why do we join such social media and leave ourselves wide open to rejection and inferiority?  Facebook is so socially alienating and destructive, yet I make myself so angry by persisting in going into it numerous times a day!  Fortunately, other than Twitter, it’s the only social media site I go into.  And I have very few followers on Twitter which suits me fine because I’ve realised I prefer the anonymity of strangers who can’t emotionally affect me.  Social media just highlights the fickleness of friendships.

I am a depressive.  I’m always questioning the purpose of life.  I don’t think there is a purpose in life most of the time if I’m honest.  Such realisation would generally encourage a more optimistic person to make the most of life because it is so short.  But when you’re in a continuous cycle of depression, its very easy to become so self absorbed that you cannot stop the turning and you spiral down even further instead.  I’m not in the pits of depression……if I was I would reach my life long dream of weighing 8st 12lb (the one positive of my depression is that it is generally better than weight loss surgery for me!).  But I currently seem to be balancing on the edge of that pit and I’m getting worn out.

A significant effect of my current state of mind is that I become a reclusive.  This has been getting progressively worse over the last couple of years.  I find it easier to be by myself because I find that socialising leaves me wide open to hurt and rejection.  I am happy with my own company.  I have a few people I hold dear, including my son and husband, my mum and mum-in-law, and a couple of very close friends.  Where is the incentive to increase my close knit circle when I invariably get shit upon from a great height?

I joked recently with my mum and a good friend that I should work in a morgue/undertaker’s.  The irony is that I seriously think dealing with dead people would actually suit me…….they can’t talk back for f*** sake!  And who knows…….it might actually help my phobia of dying.

Unfortunately my husband feels that my reclusive nature is not healthy which is one of the reasons he feels I should get a job.  I don’t agree with him.  I get a job to serve basic needs in life such as paying the bills.  That’s it.  I am currently on a career break and evaluating my options.  And I am massively enjoying it.  Plus no jobs have come up in the local funeral parlour as yet and despite a a new crematorium being built on the outskirts of Gravesend!

So where do I go from here?  I don’t know.  But I do know there’s such a thing as cause and effect.  If you don’t hear from me there is a reason.  If I’ve become a hermit, there is a reason.  If you’re not a friend on my Facebook, there is a reason.  And if you think I’m giving you a hard time, believe me, I’m giving myself just as much of a hard time!!

Anthea xxxxxx

UK Immigration – Some Food for Thought……

Okay, I pro30376FULLmise I will try and keep this one shorter!

Following a few conversations with people who campaigned to stay in the EU, I decided to undertake some research on how immigration has affected our population.  I would like to thank these particular people because, as a result of my delving into the subject matter, I am now even more convinced that I was correct in my decision to vote to leave with the current immigration situation being my (and many others) main area of concern.  I have also improved on my O Level mathematical skills!!

I have used figures obtained from a number of different sources, eg. Office of National Statistics (ONS), Home Office, Department of Work and Pensions, to name but a few.  NB. I have not used any  biased or media related websites to eliminate any of the figures having been ‘massaged’ in favour of a particular view.

I hope this provides for interesting reading……….

DEFINITION OF NET MIGRATION –  In simple terms, net migration is the number of persons immigrating to the UK, minus the number of persons emigrating from the UK.  If a plus figure, more people are coming into this country.  If a minus figure, more people are leaving this country.

Net migration has not been a minus figure since approximately 1992.  Since 1998, net migration has exceeded 100,000 rising to 200,000 in 2004.  Net migration has been exceeding 300,000 since 2014.

Long Term (more than 12 months) migration figures estimated for 2015 (with margin of error allowed for):-

  • Immigration           =  630,000
  • Emigration              =  297,000
  • NET MIGRATION  =  333,000

Since 2011, emigration has stabilised.  As such, any increase in net migration over recent years has been directly attributable to increased immigration.

Of the 630,000 persons that immigrated to the UK, the majority consisted of 270,000 EU citizens and 277,000 non-EU citizens (immigration/emigration estimates have not yet been revised, hence are not consistent with the revised net immigration estimates).  Bearing in mind a percentage of persons will then leave the country (emigrate), the actual additional number (net) of immigrants estimated to have entered the UK during 2015 is 184,000 EU citizens and 188,000 non-EU citizens.

Since 2011, the number of non-EU immigrants has been declining whereas EU immigrants has been increased creating a split of circa 50/50.

Of the 630,000 persons that immigrated to the UK, surveys indicate that 308,000 came for work purposes and approximately 160,000 came to study.

Of the 160,000 persons who cited study purposes as their reason for coming to the UK, 72% were non-EU citizens (the remainder being EU and British immigrants).

Of the 308,000 persons who cited work purposes as their reason for coming to the UK, 61% were EU citizens compared to 24% for non-EU citizens. 

42% of both EU and non-EU citizens coming to the UK for work purposes did not have a definite job (an increase of 26,000 from 2014).

43% of EU citizens coming to the UK for work purposes did not have a definite job.

The above figures would indicate that EU citizens predominantly immigrate for work purposes and non-EU citizens immigrate for study purposes.

National Insurance Numbers (NINOs)

For the year ending March 2016, a total of 826,000 NINOs were issued. This figure includes both long term (12 months +) and short term (1 to 12 months) migration. Many short term migrants stay as long term migrants.

  • 630,000 NINOs were issued to EU citizens.
  • 195,000 NINOs were issued to non-EU citizens.

That is an additional 826, 000 persons who are able to access and use the UK’s public services in a one year period.

Population Growth

Between 2004 and 2014, the UK population growth averaged 0.7% (increase from an average of 0.3% prior to 2004).

The EU as a whole showed a growth of 0.3% for the same time period – a significant difference.

The populations of Eastern Europe saw a decrease for the same time period (supporting my view that substantial migration is occurring from less thriving countries to thriving countries causing a very uneven spread).

The average annual population growth from 2004 to 2014 in terms of persons (taking into account births, deaths, migration and other changes) was 465,000 per year. 243,000 of this figure (52%) was attributable to NET MIGRATION.

The annual population growth for 2014 in terms of persons was 491,000.  260,000 of this figure (just under 53%) was attributable to NET MIGRATION.

Controlled migration can have a positive effect on the economy in respect of research and development, furthering of studies, identification and filling of job gaps, seasonal work (eg. crop picking), etc. But net migration has been steadily climbing since the 1990s, to the point that it is now exceeding the 300,000 mark which is not sustainable and is proving detrimental to this country.

I hope you will take the time to read the above and make your own determination.

Anthea xxx

You Didn’t Listen!

oxygenThe EU Referendum.  An emotive subject…….and one that is still going to continue to cause unrest and discord for months to come, if not years.

I voted to leave.  I’m in one of the age brackets where the majority voted to remain but I have never felt so strongly in all my life.  I was never politically motivated.  In fact, at one stage in my life I think I was stupid enough to vote Labour thanks to the totally misguided opinion of an ex-boyfriend of mine (note, ‘ex’!). My convictions have changed quite substantially in the last 5 years or so as a direct result of what I see going on around me and how it directly affects my life.

I have the greatest sympathy for the ‘remainers’.  If the situation was reversed I would be devastated, I would feel trapped.  But what do we do?  What is the answer?  It was always going to be a close call.  In my heart I also thought ‘remain’ would conquer and I was scared for myself and this country.  I, like many people, underestimated the passion of our country  however and I was so proud when ‘leave’ succeeded…… and it was a fair referendum, everybody had the opportunity to vote, and there was a majority no matter how small it was.  But it appears that isn’t enough.  And to be fair, in a reverse situation, the ‘leave’ contingent would feel the same. The ‘remain’ side are now lobbying for a 2nd referendum on the basis that less than 75% of the population voted and the majority vote was less than 60%.  If we look at a breakdown of the vote however, the majority of districts in England and Wales did vote to leave, and many had a majority in excess of the 60% (my own district had a majority of 65% in favour of leaving).  The national result was a close call, but this was no doubt diluted by the Scotland and Northern Ireland vote.  So lets say it comes to a 2nd referendum……….  Are those districts which satisfied the criteria of the petition (eg. my district) going to be given a golden ticket which exempts them from having to vote again? Now that would be interesting, wouldn’t it?  And should ‘remain’ win a 2nd referendum, it stands to reason that ‘leave’ will in turn lobby for a 3rd referendum (as I write this, the petition for a 2nd referendum has hit the 2 million signature mark; on the basis that over 16 million people voted to ‘remain’ I would fully expect this and for it to rise substantially further.  But do you not think that a like petition by ‘leave’ in the event of a ‘remain’ victory would attract the same number of signatures?)  And where does it end?  Is it a ‘best of three’ scenario, or do we carry on and make it the ‘best of five’ referendums, or ten, or twenty…….and should it come to a fight, who can fight the dirtier?  Personally, my money’s on ‘leave’.  After all, based on the insults which the ‘remainers’ tend to resort to in my experience, us ‘leavers’ are all uneducated, short sighted, lower class numpties so we will obviously regress to our Neanderthal ways! (I’m actually a very well educated and intelligent individual but it appears that this is moot if you’ve voted ‘leave’ in the referendum.)  And just to confirm, yes I would sign a petition for a 3rd referendum if ‘remain’ did indeed win, and I would join in any subsequent demonstrations in support of ‘leave’.  So if the ‘remainers’ think a vote in their favour is the answer, I sorry to say it won’t be by a long shot.

It is reported that the majority of 18 to 24 year old voted to ‘remain’.  I have personally been subjected to the opinion that I am selfish in not supporting the view of such ‘remainers’ who class themselves as the future generation.  I’m sorry but, notwithstanding contracting a terminal illness or being run over by a bus, I am hopeful I have a good few years left in me yet.  It is to this end and for MY future that I chose to vote ‘leave’.  My priorities are my family and my life.  I have also heard the comment that us oldies have reaped the benefit of the EU during our lifetime but we are now ruining it for this future generation.  I was a toddler when we joined the EEC  in 1973 (not the EU – it is worth noting that if we were still following the original principles of the EEC, this situation may never have occurred).  I have only really known a life as part of the EEC/EU.  Although my life has by no means been awful and I have managed to maintain a decent standard of living, I certainly don’t believe this is all as a result of our membership of the EU.  There have also been not so good times……….and these have become more apparent over recent years.  I am constantly struggling to gain permanent employment.  I apply for jobs that I could do sitting on my head and yet don’t even succeed in getting a simple letter stating I haven’t been shortlisted, let alone get an interview.  I am also not a statistic that Cameron has been using when promoting that unemployment has been reduced – I don’t claim benefits or jobseekers because I’m not entitled, but I need a job so what bracket do i fall into?! I worry about getting my son into the school that’s literally a 5 minute walk up the road because it’s so oversubscribed.   If I need to see the doctor, I have to book an appointment approximately 3 weeks in advance……fortunately they operate a drop-in surgery otherwise I could be dead before the doctor sees me! (ok, I know I’m exaggerating, but you get my point).  I have spent countless hours sitting in A&E or clinics at the hospital with family members waiting to be seen because even if I have an appointment, the staff are so overworked and under-resourced they totally run over time.  Now I could blame the government, the people who voted for the government (I didn’t), the EU, the Council, even my dog.  But the simple fact is that according to ‘remain’, we’ve really had it good in the EU and it will continue to be good if we stay in.  If that’s the case and everything is hunky dory, how come the country is in a mess, how come so many people are dissatisfied, and how come it’s even got to the stage of a referendum at all?  And the biggest question of all……..what makes you the fountain of all knowledge that you can be so adamant we will be unable to prosper or succeed outside of the EU if you’ve never experienced a life outside of EU membership?  Are you prophetic? Do you have psychic powers?  I am proud enough to admit that I have no idea if we will succeed or not, but I’m willing to take a risk and I’m willing to accept change because it certainly ain’t working at the moment!

So then we move onto the ‘remainers’ argument that leaving the EU will negatively affect our economy.  The EEC ultimately wanted economic integration for member states.  Excellent.  Very effective.  Totally in favour.  But they couldn’t leave it at that could they?  They wanted more.  They started impacting on peoples’ views and rights.  They started getting power hungry.  And various EU members feel it is within their right to be dictatorial and try to monopolise our thinking.  In addition, the average Joe Bloggs cannot relate to the economy and how this is affected by the EU – it’s not a tangible physical issue that they can see in black and white or which they can see the direct effect of.  Plus it is so interspersed with threats and blackmail that some of us can’t see the wood for the trees. I’m not up on such issues.  I don’t fully understand it.  It doesn’t mean I’m thick or stupid or that I haven’t delved into it.  But when have you ever heard anyone explain it in laymen’s terms?  When have you ever heard anyone explain it in a reasonable and non-patronising manner?  When the CEO of that multi-national conglomerate talks about the negative impact leaving the EU will have on the economy and (their) business, what Joe Bloggs hears is another fat cat worrying about taking a hit on his £0.8M annually salary and perks……it may go down by 0.5%! Oh woe!  Try justifying that to Joe Bloggs who can’t meet his rental payments or pay his utility bills, let alone even make the first step onto the property ladder. 

So then we consider some of the other issues close to the hearts of ‘leavers’, some of which I have already touched on……..the NHS, education system, policing, jobs, immigration, freedom of movement, etc. etc.  The UK has been floundering for a number of years.  It has been very difficult maintaining a reasonable level of public services for a number of reasons – privatisation of such services which should have remained under government control due to their being necessities rather than luxuries (take note, the health service is a necessity, not a luxury!). People are living longer and the population is growing.  That is inevitable.  The government may imply that unemployment is reducing but I don’t see it.  In 1987 I could walk into any number of jobs with just a series of o’levels under my belt.  I’m now substantially more experienced and educated yet I can’t secure a job for love or money.  Am I missing something??  So why on earth is anybody surprised that one of the most contentious issues for ‘leavers’ is immigration and freedom of movement?  Why is anybody surprised that we are revolting against the influx of EU nationals coming to England? It makes absolutely no difference in what capacity you are coming here, whether you are working or not, contributing or not.  The point is it is substantially increasing our population growth and ultimately putting even more strain on our (currently) public services.  I welcome diversity, I welcome people having the opportunity to experience life in other countries, but it can’t be without boundaries or at the expense of that particular country’s welfare.  The implications of any long term/permanent residency needs to be managed effectively to ensure we remain within the receiving country’s capacity and economic needs rather than compromising it.  It’s not rocket science, it’s not rascism, it’s purely statistics.   And as is inevitable, the negative aspects of migration and freedom of movement will gain momentum because it is something we see and hear about on a regular basis (and lets face it, it is human nature to notice the negative).  Where I live, I see it everyday walking down the road when every other person I pass on the street doesn’t speak English and, with the exception of the odd few, they certainly don’t demonstrate any willingness or effort to integrate.  Despite  being a reasonably jovial, polite and respectful person, I am constantly met with rudeness, lack of manners and being barged into on the pavement with no due regard for the fact that all I want to do is pass them.  They tend to congregate in groups so I’m in a losing battle from the offset.  Behaviour does breed behaviour.  There is a cause and effect.  My patience does wear thin.  And believe me, it is wearing thin!

I think it is magnanimous of us to see ourselves as a benevolent society (assuming this is peoples’ true intent) but how can such benevolence be extended to others if we are failing ourselves?  And where does benevolence end and stupidity begin?  Yes, we are a lot more developed than other countries, yes we are more prosperous and in a position to help compared to many countries, but there needs to be limits and recognition where situations are causing more harm than good.  I liken the situation to the oxygen mask instructions when you go on an aeroplane.  You don’t go putting the mask on your neighbour before donning a mask yourself; after all you’re no use to anyone or anything if you’re dead!  The UK needs to put its own ‘oxygen mask’ on first in order to be of true benefit to other EU members/countries.  I don’t expect this country to be perfect before we extend our help, but we need to be stable and we currently are not.  And is freedom of movement the right way to go anyway?  Does it actually solve any problems?  Shouldn’t we be using our resources, expertise and skills within the UK and ultimately the EU to encourage and assist in the rebuilding of the less prosperous countries, thus making a thriving environment which their own countrymen can be proud of and want to live in?  EU citizens want to improve their way of life and see the UK as a way to do this but we’re hanging on a cliff edge and we’re going to topple over with the weight of the population (if it doesn’t cause a revolution first).

I believe there are many of us ‘leavers’ that would have been happy to continue in the EU if they had listened and taken us seriously. But they DIDN’T LISTEN! There are many of us that agree with the single market but are averse to being held to ransom on freedom of movement but you WON’T LISTEN! There is great unrest in other EU countries over immigration and freedom of movement but they are STILL NOT LISTENING!  The concerns of the little people could have been addressed and this situation resolved if THEY HAD LISTENED!  This situation could still be resolved if the EU could forego their pride and arrogance, accept the main issues of concern (which are actually quite straightforward and transparent) and take effective action. But they haven’t and they won’t. Instead we have aggression and threats and a very divided ‘United Kingdom’.  I hope you feel proud of yourself.

I haven’t got any miraculous solution to the current situation, and I am totally flummoxed as to how we are going to manage to get such a divided country to unite.  But life still goes on, it has to go on, and hopefully the sun will shine tomorrow.

Until then………

Anthea xxx



The C9 Diet – Days 1 & 2………

doraIn the words of an iconic individual – Dora The Explorer – “We did it! We did it! We did it! Yay!”

I have succeeded in completing the first 2 days of the Forever Living C9 Detox.  And by god, I’m bloody hungry!!

My fasting accomplishment over the weekend is no mean feat.  As commented in my previous blog regarding this detox, I love love love food!  You are reading about the person who only succeeded in doing the 5:2 Diet for a week because I was defeated by hunger pangs on the fast days, and binged on the other 5 days to make up for the fast days! (catch my drift…..?).

I am amazed at my success!  My husband has complimented me on my success!

To reiterate, this is a personal account of my experiences of the C9 Detox.  I am not a representative of the company (or any like company), I have not obtained the C9 pack through a representative (my patience with sales people is basically ‘0’), and I am persevering using my own will power, the printed media contained in the pack, and information I am able to glean through Google searches.

The instruction booklet is totally honest…… tells you (in my own words) that the diet is hard, you will be tired, you will be hungry and it’s best to start the detox on a day where you will not be working hard (eg. a heavy day at work).  So I decided that my best bet would be to start on a weekend.  Now I know myself very well and, on the basis that I obsess about food when I’m not on a diet, you can imagine how I would be surviving on a liquid only diet for 2 days!  Notwithstanding the option of sleeping for the first 48 hours which would guarantee success, I decided to keep myself busy by decorating…….the spare room………which we are converting into a home gym (see, I have good intentions!)

I’m not going to beat about the bush here – the aloe vera gel/liquid is disgusting.  Even diluting with 250ml of water does not alleviate the taste of the plastic container it is supplied in!  Many of the reviews I read gave the impression it had a bitter taste.  I disagree.  It’s just yuck.  So I followed some very useful advice and put in approximately 5ml of orange squash which succeeded in making it just about palatable.  But don’t fall into the trap I did!  I assume this is an aloe vera extract; as such, when mixed with water it separates therefore the first half of the glass actually tastes like orange squash.  Until you realise the aloe vera has sunk to the bottom and you’ve now got to stomach fairly neat extract!  So take my advice, keep a spoon in the glass, and mix prior to drinking.  This reduces the suffering…….

The tablets are big.  Fortunately I can take tablets very easily.  If you have an aversion to tablets, you might find this a problem.  I could go into the detail regarding the ingredients of the tablets but the information blurs as I read it…… it’s easier to say that they are apparently natural based supplements which are meant to aid and enhance the detox.  Believe me, after what I paid for the C9 pack, I wasn’t gonna not take them!  So just be prepared for swallowing reasonably large tablets 3 times a day.

The chocolate ‘milkshake’ – which you are allowed once a day during the first 2 days – is ok.  Very hard to explain but an almost wheaty taste.  It must be ok because I like it, and my aversion is generally with liquids.  The C9 pack comes with a drinks bottle which allows you to mix the ‘milkshake’ and drink directly.  A very useful item.  I’m even using it to mix up my aloe vera yuck.

For those who find the 2 fast days very hard to bear, there is a list of low GI free foods.  One of these was strawberries which was my life saver over the weekend, although the booklet again stresses that eating of free foods must be in moderation.

My one and only cheat over the weekend was coffee.  To try and keep within the constraints of the detox, I drank this black.  Unfortunately I have found that I am so addicted to caffeine (especially coffee) that if I don’t have it, I get the most awful migraines.  I am not willing to risk this for any diet!  I have tried in the past.  So I did have my 2 black coffees in the morning.  And later in the day I switched to decaffeinated coffee – I needed something to look forward to!!  My own view is that it has done me a favour.  I was tired but can put this down to sleeping badly at night (due to hunger pangs and a very irritable leg due to the nerve damage I sustained in it).  Oh, and a sore head due to the vapours given off by the paint when decorating…….

By 5pm on the first day I was starving. The hunger pangs were starting, my husband was cooking pizza and garlic bread in the oven for the rest of the family, and I was stuck in the spare room smelling this while painting the wall and drinking aloe vera yuck!  But I tried to visualise what I was achieving in my body and the bedroom and remained in reasonably good cheer.

At 9pm, I was starving even more.  We were watching a reasonably good film, but all I had to look forward to was more aloe vera yuck while the family sat there eating the remains of the pizza and garlic bread for supper. Ummmmm………..

Midnight…….bed and the oblivion of sleep……..NOT!  My nerve damaged left leg was particularly bad (un-detox related) and the hunger pangs consumed my mind.  You would not believe the visions of food I kept having!  I think I fell into restless sleep about 4am!

Day 2 I wake just before 11am.  Thinking of food.  Lovely food.  I have my 2 cups of black coffee, then starts the torture of consuming an endless amount of aloe vera yuck. It’s amazing how much decorating a room pre-occupies your mind and dulls the disgusting taste of the aloe vera.  Unfortunately I’m starting to feel grouchy.  Hungry and grouchy.  The hunger pangs are fully established now.  I’m looking longingly at my stout and muscular jack russell dog…….a very good food supply in times of stress and adversity…….I’d even eat a McDonald’s burger at this stage!

But onwards and upwards.  Think of the achievement, that svelte body I could achieve (in my dreams), the elimination of bloating, the removal of toxins, blah de blah de blah de blah…….believe me, I’ve said it all, dreamed it, aspired to it, etc. etc.  But one thing still remains. I’M BLOODY HUNGRY!I 

Fortunately the decorating did achieve its target – it did pre-occupy me.  By 7.30pm, holes were filled and sanded, the walls were painted and the room looked amazing.  And above all else, it kept me away from the sight and smell of the scrummy steak pie and veg my husband was cooking for the family followed by peanut butter ice creams.  My son did find it highly amusing to come find me in the bedroom whilst licking his ice cream and making appreciative slurping noises – until I told him exactly where he could stick said ice cream!  The rest of the evening was spent in front of the tv with the added bonus of a small bowl of strawberries, my chocolate ‘milkshake’ and a lovely mug of decaf black coffee.  What more could you ask for?????  FOOD OF COURSE!!!!!!!!

By the time I went to bed the hunger pangs had decreased…….to be overtaken by the dull ache of starvation in my deprived concave stomach!  On a positive however, I had succeeded!  I had finished the 2 fast days!  And the next day I could have a meal!

I have woken this morning a lot more upbeat and looking forward to the day.  I have had my quota of tablets and aloe vera yuck for the day thus far, I am just about to consume my 2nd chocolate ‘milkshake’, I am hungry but now at the stage where I actually feel a bit sick I’m that hungry, I have a bit of a headache and minor shakes.  But I am totally overjoyed at completing the last 2 days.  Because I seriously didn’t think I would do it.  No, I mean seriously.  It is truly amazing!

And now for the next bit of news………various weights and measurements are taken and recorded at the beginning of the detox, then again on Day 3.  I have duly undertaken both and can report that I have lost approximately 1.75lbs in weight, and half an inch from my waist.  The detox does advocate losing inches over various parts of your body but my personal opinion is this is par for the course bearing in mind the detox involves substantially reducing your food intake and reducing fluid retention.  To be honest, at this stage all I seem to have managed to achieve is even looser rolls of fat due to an empty stomach and more prominant cellulite on my thighs!  But any weight loss and reduction in measurements is an incentive no matter how cynical the mind, I’m heading in the right direction, I can look forward to the pleasure of solid food later – and believe me, I will savour every single mouthful! – and I have 7 days in which to achieve more promising results.  This detox isn’t a viable lifestyle, but so far it is giving me positivity and providing the basis for a healthier lifestyle and eating regime in the future.

I will report further during the next milestone of Day 6……..

Anthea xxx

The Trials & Tribulations of the C9 Diet – An Introduction…….

garfield-binge-eatingI am currently undertaking a detox…… for those people that know me well, this fact will be no surprise.  Having grown up as quite a porky teenager and feeling very conscious of my size, I have been quite stringent in managing my weight.  In fact I would almost say I am verging on obsessive!  My life revolves around dieting from the minute I wake up to the minute I fall asleep.  Actually, I’m lying.  My life revolves around food!  Food glorious food!  I love food!  I am a typical Cancerian who thinks with her stomach.  I am perfectly able to visualise plates of food 24/7…….none of it remotely healthy or good for me of course.  You are talking to the person who can clear a packet of rich tea biscuits in one sitting, a box of chocolates in one evening (I’m talking a big box!), the person who will always incorporate visiting a cafe or food outlet during excursions, even if all I’ve done is nip out to buy a pint of milk!  Hence my obsession with dieting.  How else am I meant to manage my needless but immensely pleasurable daily binges???? 

Outside of my binges, I generally eat quite healthily.  This is my way of generally maintaining my weight……be good during the day, then make up for it by eating as much crap as I can in the evening!  Three years ago (almost to the day) I gave up smoking.  I didn’t plan to give up, just woke up one morning and decided that was it.  It worked.  Other than an occasional cigarette following a few gins, I have no wish or urge to smoke again.  But the downside was that I slowly put on a stone in weight.  Three years later and after trying numerous fad diets, I am still to lose that stone in weight.  I am not technically overweight and have a BMI of approximately 22.3.  But this extra stone I’m carrying doesn’t sit well with me and being a general depressive, my weight heavily affects my mood (which duly impacts on those around me, especially my long-suffering husband).  To say I have a lack of self control is an understatement however, and I have come to realise that significantly reducing my food intake has a negative effect on my body which seems to think it will be more fun to go into starvation mode!  Consequently, the weight loss plateau’s and I become even more grumpy and demoralised.

But enough’s enough, and I have decided drastic action is required.  Hence the C9 (Clean 9) Diet.  Forever Living (the originators of this diet) make it perfectly clear that this is a detox, not a weight loss diet.  Weight loss is a bonus but may not occur for some people.  Aloe Vera forms the basis of this detox which is undertaken over a 9 day period.  The first 2 days consist of a total detox where only liquid is consumed, including 4 lots of Aloe Vera gel/liquid mixed with 250ml of water, plus a ‘milkshake’ once a day (available in either chocolate or vanilla flavour – of course, I opted for chocolate!).  A number of tablets are also taken at breakfast, lunch and dinner together with a fibre supplement which should be taken separately to the tablets to prevent binding.  On days 3 to 9, food is re-introduced via a 600-calorie evening meal.  Breakfast and lunch consists of a ‘milkshake’ (together with the tablets).  One glass of the aloe vera gel/liquid should also be consumed during the morning in addition to the fibre supplement.  On all 9 days of the detox, approximately 30 minutes of exercise should be undertaken.  The C9 Diet comes with an explanatory booklet which is very user friendly and allows the user to record their goals, feelings, concerns during the detox and ‘tick off’ the relevant parts of the diet for each day.  In fact, I think this is one of the most comprehensive and useful booklets I’ve ever received with a diet giving simple ideas for exercise you could undertake and suggestions for 600 calorie meals for days 3 to 9 (which I have been studying with intent!).

At this point, it is worth stressing that I am not a representative of the diet company, I do not sell their products (nor have any intention of doing so), and I sourced the diet via a Forever Living Outlet rather than directly from a representative for cost saving reasons.  I am a regular middle aged housewife trying to kick-start a manageable weight loss regime by undertaking a detox which, according to the many reviews I have read,  has resulted in significant loss of lbs for many users during the 9 days.  Unfortunately, I have found that it is very difficult to determine whether reviews I have read are those of representatives as oppose to regular individuals like myself who have no ties or links to this particular detox.  Hence my wish to write an honest and personal review of the C9 Diet……..I am currently on Day 3 (and bloody hungry!) and would like to provide the reader with an unbiased account of my actual experience and results throughout the course of the detox. 

I hope the above provides a bit of background information, and I will be following this up shortly with a blog of my experience of the detox over the last 2 days (the liquid diet stage!)………….

Until then, Anthea xxx






Lost Direction – My Fear of Death (Chronophobia)

timeI have lost direction. I have lost direction in my life and in my blog.  I haven’t penned a blog since before Christmas.  My excuse was because I have been busy – buying presents, entertaining, spending family time, running a home, etc. etc. I am a busy housewife afterall!  But in the past week I had a moment of clarity and realised it was an excuse…….the reality being I had lost direction.

I fight a daily battle with mild depression and anxiety, and currently take a daily dose of ‘happy pills’.  I have been on these tablets almost consistently since being diagnosed in my early 30’s, and I am very grateful as they generally keep me on an even keel.  Over the past 10 to 12 years, I have come to realise that I usually have an annual dip around August/September time.  I’ve tried to analyse why this is the case (a side effect of my obsessive and precise personality!) and wondered if it’s because we are on the brink of darker months and I am susceptible to SAD, or because it is the countdown to the start of the next school year and the routine of school runs, after school clubs, the competitive stresses of raising a child in this day and age which I find very testing on a daily basis.  But I have never come up with a definitive answer.

This year, for the first time in many years, August and September passed without a hitch.  Great! I thought.  I’m managing to self-manage this particularly difficult time of year! Maybe the cognitive behavioural treatment training I’ve received in the past is finally sinking in!

Then I hit November and, WHAM!, it strikes me with full force.  One of my cats went missing at the end of November, and we were having long standing problems with our old cat who was continually peeing in the house, but these were the only factors I could think of that may have triggered this particular bout of depression.  Incidentally, my cat is still missing nearly 2 months later, our older cat was put to sleep, and my hamster died in the new year.

Unfortunately I have found it very hard to lift myself out of this particular episode.  I have had small reprieves such as my lovely break to New York with my husband in early December, and the general relaxation and joviality of the Christmas period.  The trouble with such reprieves however is that when they have passed, it all comes crashing down again.  This was particularly apparent following my New York break where I tested my husband’s patience considerably with my dark periods, irrationality, tearfulness, anger, frustration, argumentativeness and general air of melancholy.  It was during Christmas that I admitted to my husband that I had considered visiting the doctor and having my dosage of happy pills upped.  Anyone who suffers from depression will know that it is very hard to lift yourself out of it when you’re down there……. and the trouble is, you find yourself down there before you realise it has happened and then you’re screwed cos no amount of self help or talking to yourself can get you out of that dark place!  I knew I wasn’t as bad as I had been on previous occasions.  I know this because when I’m really bad I don’t eat (a miracle for me!).  But I knew I was close.  For the past couple of months, my insomnia has returned and I have entered the viscious cycle of sleeping during the day to make up for the lack of sleep at night, only to find I can’t sleep again at night…….and so it goes around, and around, and around, and around………… And I become reclusive.  I find it hard to socialise, I don’t want to go out, I don’t want to make conversation, I don’t want to paint a happy smile on my face while all the time wondering what I am doing there, wondering what it’s all for and why we live life……. I HATE feeling like this, I HATE it with a passion and I would do anything to not be this person, to have not been born to feel like this.  I HATE wallowing in self pity whilst knowing that in the great scheme of things, I am very lucky – I am healthy, I have a gorgeous husband and a smart and beautiful son, I am solvent and live in a lovely house with a cute car, ok – I had a scare when I became paralysed from the waist down a few years back and have suffered permanent nerve damage but I am mobile and can get around most of the time, etc. etc. – all this when there are so many less fortunate than myself.

Now, you may be wondering what this all has to do with the title of my blog.  Well, I had a light bulb moment.  It occurred earlier in the week.  Whilst pondering when I was going to write my next blog and what to write about, something went ‘ping’ in my head and I realised I had ‘lost direction’.  And the reason I had lost direction was because of something I battle with day in day out……my age old phobia of dying!!

I first recollect having this phobia when I was approximately 10 years of age and was filled with abject terror at the prospect of life coming to an end and never ‘existing’ again.  I was lying in my bed in our childhood home in Hockliffe and it totally knocked the air out of me………assuming I lived to old age, I had another 60 to 70 years left to live before I died and would not experience life ever again for infinity.  How do you deal with such thoughts at such a young age??  I can’t deal with it now, so what chance did I stand then??

I did some research a year or so back to see if there were like minded people out there who had a similar phobia.  It was during this research that I found out my phobia was called Chronophobia : an abnormal and persistent fear of time, and the threat of death can be a major contributing factor.  By all accounts (please note, I am not an expert, this is purely based on Google searches), prison inmates and old people are particularly susceptible to this phobia due to the passing of time.

So why me??? Why have I had this phobia since pre-teens??? I have got absolutely no idea.  I can’t recollect any major or unpleasant experiences from my childhood that may have contributed, and we were a fairly down to earth family that accepted death as a fact of life.  The only conclusions I have come to is that it may be partly hereditary – I have recently learnt my mum has a similar phobia – and partly due to my predilection to depression/anxiety.

What I do know is that it has consumed my life for many, many years……… I spend countless minutes and hours calculating my age, how long I am likely to live, how many years I have left, what fraction of my life I have lived and have left to live.  And it doesn’t stop there.  I then start calculating my nana’s age, my mum’s age, my husband’s age, my son’s age, (the person walking down the street’s age!), how many years are between us all, what age my son is likely to be when I die, what age I am likely to be when either my mum or husband die, how many years more my mum is likely to live…….I try to get (totally irrational) perspective on real time – I try to calculate how long ‘time’ feels to me between particular time spans such as between the age of 15 and 30 years.  I am 45 years old now; I have lived a time span of ’15 years’ x 3; if I live to be 75 years of age, I have another 2 time spans of ’15 years’ left.  I have lived over half my life and my ’15 year’ time spans have passed quite quickly.  I HAVE NOT GOT MUCH TIME LEFT!

This phobia is also particularly bad when I think of the people I love.  My husband is 3 years older than me; we will hopefully live into our late 70’s/early 80’s but that means we only have approximately 30 years left together.  We’ve already had 13 years together and that has passed quickly…….we haven’t got long left, what will I do without him?!?!?  My mum is 65 years of age……I can’t comprehend or accept her not being alive in 20 to 30 years time.  And then that leads me to my son who’s only 9…….another 30 years of my life is not long enough to be with him…….I need longer! I need to have my son in my life longer!

I have only just touched on how this phobia affects me in my head.  I could actually give Carol Vordermann a run for her money with the extent of age related mathematical calculations that run through my head! I haven’t even begun to explain the all consuming fear and despair it causes me late at night when everybody else is asleep, that feeling whereby you want to cry hysterically and vomit at the same time whilst trying to breathe………..a high anxiety state.  2 years ago I would have gone downstairs and had a cigarette to calm myself – ironic when you consider my phobia, and the fact that I was most probably shortening my life by smoking!  But I don’t smoke anymore (the one and only positive of my phobia).  My happy pills have helped to a large degree in dampening the anxiety and fear but since I have hit and gone past the monumental landmark of 40 years of age, the effect of my tablets is getting less and less as my phobia gets worse and worse.  The phobia is starting to take over to the point where I have lost purpose, where I don’t even know what my purpose in life is other than to carry on evolution, where I am strongly losing the ability to be happy and lead a happy life because all the time I can hear that clock of ‘life’ ticking away loudly in the background.  I am screaming at myself in my head……. I should be enjoying life while I can and before it’s too late! I should be enjoying all the people I love in my life because they are here now!  Death is inevitable! Accept it!  But I’ve lost my way; I’ve lost direction.

I was a staunch church goer in my childhood, however I quickly realised that my phobia had nothing to do with God or my christian beliefs.  It was pure science – our bodies can withstand so may years but then expire.  And for all my religious beliefs, I could not get my head around heaven or the ‘afterlife’.  There is only one place where my feelings on death have been so aptly explained, and that is in Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (my all time favourite book and film) in which Yury Zhivago states –

Resurrection.  In the crude form in which it is preached for the consolation of the weak, the idea doesn’t appeal to me.  I have always understood Christ’s words about the living and the dead in a different sense.  Where could you find room for all these hordes of people collected over thousands of years?  The universe isn’t big enough, God and good and meaning would be crowded out.  They’d be crushed by all that greedy animal jostling.”

And humans are selfish if they think that any afterlife would only exist for themselves; it would exist for every living creature including the ants building hills in your garden, the snails and slugs feeding on your plants, the birds sitting in the trees, the aquatic life in the oceans.  But where can such a place exist that can fit in all those creatures that have lived and died since evolution began??  I don’t believe there is, or can be, such a place.  The only way we exist in the afterlife is through genetics, through our offspring and their offspring.  That’s it.

So in a nutshell, I don’t know how to fight this phobia, a phobia which gets worse as each day passes, as I get older.  I also have phobias of spiders and heights but I manage these – they are physical, they can generally be avoided, they are common phobias experienced by many people and accepted.  But Chronophobia is a mental phobia.  How do you fight something you can’t see and that is all in your head?? How do you fight something that you cannot reason with religion and cannot escape?

To all my friends and family who know me, I thought this might give you an insight into who I am and WHY I am……. an insight into an aspect of my depression and anxiety which is only known by a handful of those close to me, and a way of me saying sorry for my self absorption over the past few months.  It’s still here, it’s trying to take over, it’s made me lose direction, and I am trying my hardest to find a way out.

Anthea xx