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 It's funny how the longer you blog (or the longer you do anything) the more random, otherwise innocuous days become anniversaries of something.

November 25th is half way between my daughter's birthday and Christmas but isn't particularly special. I hadn't even blogged on a November 25th until 2019 – it's just another day.

Or it was.

On this day last year I returned to the blog after 5 months away – one of my many breaks but certainly not the longest by any stretch.

In July 2022, I wrote in my journal that I was experiencing difficulty reading and writing, everything seemed to be a struggle and I couldn't focus. We also caught covid a little after that so I mixed up the dates and the doctor's initial thoughts were of long covid. While I did take a long time to get over it, long covid wasn't the answer: these were the physical manifestations of anxiety and depression.

Part of returning to the blog was a want (maybe a need) to document where I was on my mental health journey. The blog is where I feel comfortable, where I can write things I might not be able to say in person – what better place to explore how I was feeling and whether I was on the right track.

I really believe that sharing my state of mind and reaction to therapy here has been a great help. Therapy itself is a safe space to explore your feelings, I consider the blog a safe space to continue that exploration. There is only so much you can achieve in the therapy room, you have to take the ideas away and live with them for a while to see if they resonate and help. Doing that in public forces you to examine things in a way that, perhaps, a journal won't. I'm not sure I can really explain it.

November 25th used to be just like any other day.

Now it is a stake in the ground, a mark of me saying enough is enough! It's a reminder that I had the strength to say "this is me, all of me, take it or leave it. I have these issues, I'm going to deal with them, and I'm not going to hide them any more. From anyone."

On this day last year I reclaimed my place in the world even though I felt broken and damaged. I had privately asked for help but on this day I, essentially, publicly asked for patience, for time to allow me to heal. I invited anyone who was willing to accompany me in that healing process just by reading what I wrote. There didn't need to be a comment, just the passive acceptance that this was the reality now, this was who I am, who I had always been but not always willing or able to show it.

This is still me, still broken but gradually fixing things. I may never be whole but that's okay – it's who I am. I, and everyone else, just have to accept that and keep fixing things, a little bit at a time.

During this last year I have been able to retain my place in the world even when it has been tough. And that's all I can ask. I'm done with hiding.

 Nicky writes about returning to blogging after "a slow burning breakdown" during which he felt the need to stop in case anything triggered him:

Blogging was one of those things, all down to the fact that the only things I could to think of writing were dark or angst ridden topics, and spending a couple of hours writing them on a Sunday just kind of ruined things.

I know that feeling oh too well.

I've taken more breaks from blogging than I care to remember and have, after the fact, realised that such breaks are as reliable indicator of my mental health as any.

I also know the feeling of missing the blog while away; of knowing that I should really be writing no matter what.

It's a difficult choice – knowing when to persist and when to walk away. Sometimes walking away is the only thing you can do, you need to allow yourself the space to recover and regroup. I've written in the past about the need to do so for fear of having everything crash down around you.

There are times when staying away becomes almost a point of principle, a feeling that returning to the words will only put you right back where you started – descending into a dark pit that you feel the words won't help you escape.

As time passes, a sense of guilt wells up inside you. You know that you should be posting but, for whatever reason, can't bring yourself to do so. That knowledge knaws at you from inside, causes such internal conflict that you're not sure which way to turn.

As Nicky says:

The problem with re-engaging with things after a prolonged period of giving them all the double fingers is the added difficulty of being aware you're starting over.

... And blogging means feeling like everything I'm writing is disingenuous and phoney.

Amen to that!

There is a misplaced need to make the return a worthy one, of saying something profound, when all it really needs is a quick "Hello world, I'm still here." No essays or explanations needed – just a foot carefully placed on the first rung of the ladder.

Taking that first step requires a bravery most won't comprehend. A blogger usually has a compulsion to write, to publish, to share, but when that compulsion deserts you finding the wherewithal to put down some words and hit "post" can be terrifying.

No matter how irrational, the fear of messing it all up is real. The fear of exposing the wrong thing at the wrong time, of sinking into a self-made vortex of hurt and pain. It seems a bit silly looking in from the outside or in retrospect but, at the time, there is nothing as serious or potentially devastating.

Or so it seems.

It's good to see that Nicky feels comfortable and capable of sharing again, of putting down some words and letting them loose into the world.

It gets easier.

 The old idiom states that every picture tells a story – this is one particular story that I'm very pleased to tell:

No more meds

This marks the end of the current stage of my mental health journey.

Still surviving.

 This time last year I was having blood tests to check for long covid.

Fortunately I didn't have it, but that concern ultimately lead to my diagnosis of depression and comorbid anxiety.

While no one wants to be so diagnosed it did me a favour – got me to accept where I was, mentally, and properly do something about it.

I'm glad the doctor took the time to truly pay attention 1 and follow his gut instinct.

  1. when under pressure to stick to ten minute appointment times 

 The question of whether to have therapy came up over at yours, tiramisu:

I'm also not sure what a therapist could do to help me, especially now that I can pinpoint the causes of my unhappiness to multiple sources.

I have been resistent to therapy in the past but am glad I finally underwent the process. I, too, could pinpoint the causes of my unhappiness but didn't have the ability to deal with them. Knowing is just the start, dealing is the real work.

As I wrote previously, frustration was (is) one of my big three triggers; frustration with a number of things but usually with myself. It came up a number of times that the therapist wasn't really telling me something I didn't already know but gave me different ways of processing it, different strategies to handle my thoughts and feelings.

I would previously feel stuck, trapped in the same old ways of doing things and not knowing how to move ahead. Just being able to discuss things in a safe, non-judgemental environment was invaluable. The way forward often presented itself purely through conversation, re-affirmation from a stranger is a wonderful device to give you the self-confidence to deal with things and know that you have at least some of the answers within you.

I think entering therapy with only specifics in mind is too limiting a way of approaching it. Personally, I feel that therapy should be a holistic process during which you have to go with the flow. There may be certain areas you wish to target but the willingness to explore wider and deeper is essential as it might not be immediately apparent where your sources of pain, anxiety, upset etc. reside.