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October 17, 2018, 10:14:48 am

Author Topic: Building a happier reptile  (Read 1314 times)

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Calebark

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Building a happier reptile
« on: January 25, 2018, 03:49:00 am »
+27
Hello there,

I've decided to try and keep a journal thingo about my mental wellbeing so I can both motivate myself that little bit more, and so I can help with that pesky little stigma concerning a poor mental wellbeing.

For eight years, I've struggled with what I later found to be depression and anxiety. I've had some fun times since then, including leaving home at a young age, homelessness, social isolation, caring for siblings, alcohol abuse, and hard drug abuse. In addition, I was also diagnosed with bipolar (type II) last year, which I am currently on medication for, which is a damn godsend. However, this isn't enough for me. I want to do more than just be; I want to be happy.

In this journal, I'll be detailing my path to happiness. Sometimes this will be sharing how I've overcome any negative obstacles the past week. Sometimes this may be talking about positive experiences I've had or new paths to things I enjoy. Sometimes this may just be talking about issues I have experience with. I guess we'll just see how it goes -- it's more of a dodgy motley journal than anything.

Regardless, I hope you all find something here that may help you, in addition to savouring what is perhaps the only part of the forum where I don't pretend to be wholly immature.
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A Tortoise's Guide to Moving Out and Independent Living

Calebark

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Re: Building a happier reptile
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2018, 01:36:46 am »
+16
Entry One

This has been a pretty eventful week in therapy. For starters, this was my first week back in group therapy (given the Christmas break), so I've been getting back into that. Essentially, group therapy is almost exactly like you've seen in it media -- you all sit in a group and talk about recents events or recent advances. There's a counsellor there to guide everyone along, but they're not directing everything -- anyone can comment or prompt someone. Nobody has an obligation to talk, however, which is handy considering I didn't talk for the first several weeks. Secondly, I also saw a new psychologist... who I did not click with at all, meaning I left the session at all. I'll be getting another referral this week so I can hopefully find a psychologist that works with me. I think it's really important that you don't continue seeing a psychologist you just don't click with. I personally spent last year seeing one that just wasn't right for me, and it was only from the prompting of a close friend that resulted in me getting a referral to find another one... which I will do again, and continue doing until I am content.

In other health news, I recently found out that I am going deaf in my left ear, which is upsetting. However, I'm trying to see it in a positive light. For example, my current pair of earphones are broken on the left side, so rather than spending $15 on replacing them, my body just decided to fuck up my corresponding ear, which saves me money! Happy happy.

I'm trying to post one bit of happiness with every post, so I've been picking my brain over this. Anyway, here it is: I'm not overly involved with my biological parents. However, there is one adult that I met in 2013 that over the next four years I became very close with -- they pretty much became the biggest parental figure I'd ever had. I even lived in their home for six or so weeks straight. Anyway, despite talking to them every week online, I haven't seen them in a bit over a year. The good news is that they are coming down to Melbourne quite soon, so I'll be able to meet up, which makes me very pleased -- like a weird family reunion :)

Lastly, I just want to share a coping technique I use when I'm panicking or just being too anxiety-ish. Essentially, you want to:

• Acknowledge 5 things you see
• Acknowledge 4 things you can touch
• Acknowledge 3 things you can hear
• Acknowledge 2 things you can smell
• Acknowledge 1 thing you can taste

After this, you'd hopefully have calmed down a little bit. It works wonders with me. Shoutout to a close friend for telling me about it in the first place.

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Re: Building a happier reptile
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2018, 07:51:03 am »
+7
Entry One
The good news is that they are coming down to Melbourne quite soon, so I'll be able to meet up, which makes me very pleased -- like a weird family reunion :)

Sounds like a pretty normal family-reunion to me ;)

Also, fingers crossed you'll find the right psychologist fit for you! It can be a hit and miss sometimes...and a bit frustrating imo, but you'll find one eventually :)
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Calebark

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Re: Building a happier reptile
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2018, 04:03:31 am »
+17
Entry Two

I'll start with good news: I had a psych appointment last morning. This was my third attempt at finding a psych this year, and fourth since I started treatment. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't at the level of comfort I would have liked, but I was feeling much better with her than the other three. I don't think I'd be able to tackle the harder stuff with her, but I'm content with tackling some of the slightly more superficial stuff with her, so I'm be sticking around. Any sort of treatment right now, no matter how small, is still treatment.

Ideally, starting next week, I'll be on a path to improving an area that really needs improving (for my sake, more than anything else). I'll be seeing a speech therapist to fix my speech impediment. Since I was young, I've always had difficulty speaking. I have a lisp and a rhotacism. I used to have a stutter too, but this eventually fixed itself as I grew to be more social -- although I do stutter syllables when emotional, and I still have the habit of stuttering repeating words on occasion. It affects me quite a bit, as I sometimes avoid talking to new people as it's very draining having to repeat yourself all the time -- not to mention quite embarassing. Fingers crossed the speech therapist will be able to help me keep improving and thus fix a vital part of my self esteem and happiness.

I was recently linked to this video from the channel Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell. The video talks about addiction, and the causes beyond 'haha drugs are fun'. Like I said prior, I've had some issues with drugs -- I'm ashamed of past use, but I don't think I should ever be ashamed of discussing it, as that's how we move forwards. As such, I have no qualms discussing it here. So, I was always morally opposed to hard drug use as I grew up in a family where this was rampant. However, towards the end of 2016, I was having some personal difficulties (in addition to just coming out of homelessness), so I started taking painkillers to help cope. I also started taking party drugs when out in the hopes I'd start having fun again. This persisted until about the middle of 2017. Anyway, like the video says, I didn't take drugs for the sake of taking them -- I did it to cover up other parts of my life because it's easier to take something to make you forget you're depressed for a few hours rather than putting in the work to fix it. Over time, I started accidentally improving other parts of my life. I started exercising more without making a conscious effort to do so. I started socialising more because I was suddenly invited out. I started being helpful(ish) on ATAR Notes which made me feel good about myself. I started talking to my (non-biological) family again due to unforeseen circumstances. All of these things, and many more, made my life better; they made me happier. As I got more fulfilled, I became less and less interested in drug use until one day I just decided that the painkillers are a waste of time... and almost like that, I had cut down from an everyday-thing to once-every-few-weeks (being sober is hard; there's bound to be regression). Exactly as the video said, fulfilment in life absolutely destroyed any need for drugs. If you are addicted to anything, drugs or otherwise, I implore you to get help... however, I know this is difficult, so in failing that, there are other things you can do -- just simple things, like socialising, waking up earlier, and doing one thing that makes you happy every day.

In the final bit of news for the post, my GP has decided to fiddle with my meds for a bit, which could mean a few interesting weeks coming up, given it's likely to affect my mood and behaviour for a while. I just need to keep focusing on the fact that it's for the best in the long-term.

As a way to keep my mind occupied and on things more pleasant, I've decided to carry around a tiny notebook and pencil and draw it in when I have time, like during train rides or long waits. I think it's better than just letting my mind wander, which tends to lead to unpleasant thoughts. I think I'll just try to complete a drawing on each page by doing a little bit at a time rather than all at once. I'm pretty shit at drawing (well, I assume -- honestly even if I was skilled I probably wouldn't think so of myself), so if anyone has any good ideas to start off with, happy to take suggestions :)
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AngelWings

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Re: Building a happier reptile
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2018, 09:45:44 am »
+6
If you’re trying to find something to draw, I’d suggest finding something simple but draw it detail, whether it be an apple on a bench and add in all the details in lighting or even a tortoise (heh!) with intricate patterns in its shell. I find it rather therapeutic to complete an image that is relatively simple but in detail. It doesn’t have to be ‘good’ but as long as you put a lot more effort in it than a 2-second stick figure, it’s fine.

If you want a challenge, try drawing your hand in different poses. It’s fairly difficult to get it right and takes time to refine.

Aside, I hope your journey goes well!  :D
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Re: Building a happier reptile
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2018, 11:56:09 am »
+9
My drawing advice: there's no such thing as a bad drawing.
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Calebark

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Re: Building a happier reptile
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2018, 12:57:09 pm »
+7
If you’re trying to find something to draw, I’d suggest finding something simple but draw it detail, whether it be an apple on a bench and add in all the details in lighting or even a tortoise (heh!) with intricate patterns in its shell. I find it rather therapeutic to complete an image that is relatively simple but in detail. It doesn’t have to be ‘good’ but as long as you put a lot more effort in it than a 2-second stick figure, it’s fine.

If you want a challenge, try drawing your hand in different poses. It’s fairly difficult to get it right and takes time to refine.

Aside, I hope your journey goes well!  :D

I quite like doing that drawing where you just do aimless patterns, so I think I'll borrow that tortoise-with-a-fancy-shell idea, cheers :) and thank you, I certainly hope it goes well too

My drawing advice: there's no such thing as a bad drawing.

challenge fucking accepted
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insanipi

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Re: Building a happier reptile
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2018, 01:19:15 pm »
+4
I quite like doing that drawing where you just do aimless patterns, so I think I'll borrow that tortoise-with-a-fancy-shell idea, cheers :) and thank you, I certainly hope it goes well
If you like drawing aimless patterns- look into zentangles, they're fairly easy/mindless patterns you can draw into anything like a tortoise shell, or a sea ^_^

Calebark

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Re: Building a happier reptile
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2018, 10:07:46 pm »
+13
Entry Three

Whew, it's been an eventful few weeks. I've taken quite a few steps backwards and almost regressed back into some bad habits, but fortunately I have a pretty solid support system nowadays, so nothing silly happened. Since then, however, I've been doing a lot of thinking. So, my opinion on myself is quite low -- kinda like 'fuck you Caleb you're an utter cunt' levels. I've thought of myself in that manner for, fuck, almost eight years? Now, on the other hand, I can see that all my friends like me. I normally value their opinions... so why do I value my opinion more? I know I'm not objective, so why do I disregard their positive opinions and hold onto my negative one? I know it's a very misplaced attitude, but I can't seem to shake it. I suppose as long as I stay self-aware, I'll inch ever closing to finally throwing it away.

With regards to treatment, I suppose it's been going okay. It's been difficulty adjusting to a new dosage. However, I've been seeing my psych on the regular which has been pretty helpful. As silly as it sounds, the fact that my psych swears puts me at ease so much more than I can describe. As always, I've been going to group therapy too. I don't know how helpful it's been lately, but I think just putting in some effort -- even if it may not do much -- helps me in a way.

I've found that artistic expression is a nice distraction from the doom and gloom I'm always feeling. This used to be short stories, but it's since expanded to creating recipes, songs, drawings, and poems. I'm not really good at any of them (well, maybe except cooking), so I'm rarely satisfied with the result, but damn, the journey is quite satisfying.

Hmm, what else can I ramble about? Well, I find that I have a habit to dwell on the past, which isn't good considering a lot of it is quite unpleasant. I need to switch to thinking about the future, but this is pretty difficult considering I don't have any clear goals in mind. My goal is to find goals, which is just all sorts of confusing. I think the biggest thing in life is deciding what I want to do for a career. I know I want to do something that helps people, but what? Medicine and/or research have always been fantastic things to look up to, but I don't think I have the traits necessary to gain entrance into such competitive fields. I suppose I've been quite passionate about education, so it's a field I've been thinking about. Back in 2016 (during my first year of Yr 12), I used to hold sessions after school where I'd help classmates with biology (and sometimes physics/English). It wasn't entirely for altruistic reasons as I found it allowed me to find gaps in my knowledge, but damn, it was so satisfying to have somebody understand a concept they struggled with because of you. I think it'd be quite nice to do that for a living. That said, being a teacher seems to be damn exhausting. I suppose I have many years before I actually have to decide.

All in all, I don't think I'm happier than I was last week... but I'm finding better ways to cope, and I'm working towards settings goals, so I'm setting the path to getting happier. This entry was 90% nonsense rambling, so please excuse that haha.
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Re: Building a happier reptile
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2018, 12:07:43 am »
+8
Very good late night reading, I'm very happy things are going well for you. Not many can pull themselves together after being at the stage of drug abuse and homelessness but you're on track to really make your life a success and I'm really happy for you. It's  not easy at all to do something like that most can't so you should be proud of that as it's a great life achievement and part of your success story.

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Calebark

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Re: Building a happier reptile
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2018, 10:25:51 pm »
+13
Entry Four

Ah, been a bit late with the update. The past few weeks has probably been the most difficult this year. No reason in particular -- like the events of the month have been decent. It's just that little voice in the back of my head saying 'oi stop being happy and be sad again'.

I've been trying to find hobbies to keep myself occupied, but it's so difficult. There are things I enjoy doing (slightly -- enjoyment is difficult nowadays), but I can't bring myself to keep doing it.  I have a habit of telling myself that I'm not going to enjoy drawing or writing or playing sport, so I avoid it, but whenever I bring myself to do it I think 'yeah, this is helpful, let's keep doing this'. I don't really know how to get past this, so if anyone has past experiences, that'd be fucking grouse. I'm having a similar issue with socialising in general, when I went from being out several times a week to maybe once a week to 'sorry I can't come out I'm sick cough cough'.

I'm a lot happier when I have some sort of purpose (well, aren't we all?). It's a bit silly to think I can figure this out anytime soon, but I can gain some sense of purpose when I help others. I used to do a lot of work with the homeless last year (which I'm very passionate about, given past issues with homelessness), which I unfortunately had to stop due to some health concerns. However, those concerns are long gone now, so I think it's time to get back into it. I'm going to have a look around at volunteer organisations and see which piques my interest the most.

Given I've been feeling much worse lately, I (with the urging of a doctor and some friends) checked myself into a mental health facility. I went in there with the goal of staying at least three nights (otherwise I would've given up after a day). I was pleasantly surprised to find that I stayed 8 days. The most important part of my stay was being somewhere safe where I couldn't make any shit decisions. Beyond that, I had daily activities to try and get my head in a better place. This included group therapies, one-on-ones with a psych, realistic goal setting classes, bipolar management class thingos, and some fun things to help the time go by (like yoga). The thing I learnt most while there was that I need to have some approximation of routine in my life. I'm trying to instill this. I have a schedule for the entire week listing my various health appointments, reminders to take pills, work, and other things I need to do, or want to do (like reminders to read a certain book). All-in-all, my time in the facility wasn't as helpful as I would have liked, but it did leave me slightly better off than I was before I entered, so keep that in mind.

I listen to a lot of music. Usually several hours a day while I do other things. I find listening to music distracts me from invasive thoughts. I mainly listen to metal and classic rock, but I also listen to shit ranging from folk to synthpop to edgy solo performers. While I'll listen to anything during the day, I'm trying to exclusively listen to calmer music during the night, as I find it relaxes me much more, which helps with nightmare prevention. Tonight, my favourites are Morphine (some jazzyish band), Cat Stevens (folk rock), Raphael Weinroth-Browne (celloist), and Jeff Buckley (my favourite folk singer). Does anyone else find they do this? Happy to take recommendations.

Anyway, this is something that cracked me up:
A man goes to a funeral and asks the widow...
"Mind if I say a word?"

She says: "Please do."

The man clears his throat and says: "Plethora."

The widow replies: "Thanks, that means a lot."

« Last Edit: April 07, 2018, 01:50:31 am by Calebark »
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Calebark

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Re: Building a happier reptile
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2018, 12:42:13 am »
+14
Entry Five

Ahh, another late one, Classic Caleb.

Keeping myself distracted is key. To help with this, I'm trying to pick up reading again. I find good fiction really difficult to find, but given there's so many interesting things in the world, non-fiction looks like the way to go. Just pop into the library, go to a random selection, and grab a book that looks interesting. This week features Junk DNA by Nessa Carey, and Life in Ancient Egypt by Adolf Erman. I also have The Book Thief by Markus Zusak as it was recommended to me by a friend in 2013, so perhaps it's time to start on that.

I started full-time work recently. On that same note, I quit my full-time job. It was in the wash bay for tanker trucks (I can't reveal the actual location or name, sorry). Scheduled from 5am--3pm with one 15m break after 3h and a 30m break after 7h. Forced overtime occured nearly every day, for a total of 11 hours if it's not too bad, but usually a bit above. There's stories of it going up to 17h on weekends, which makes me think the work environment was... not legal. Far from it. I've got cuts all over my hands from dodgy equipment -- like lines missing rubber sheaths, so you get cut by metal shards when you grab it. I had an interview for a cushy office job with an energy company the day after I quit. Unfortunately, I felt anxious the entire day, and kept fucking up my speech, so there's no way in hell I succeeded. I was meant to go see my psych afterwards, but with a stroke of poor luck, she felt sick, so I tried handling the day on my own, which didn't go well. I ended up going to the hospital to get immediate help as I didn't trust myself. Many, many hours later, following help from a psychiatrist and a mental health nurse, I have been given a referral to Orygen, which is a youth mental health facility. I'll be organising with them to go in as an in-patient for a few days, maybe a week. It's difficult, but y'know, there's no shame in that if it's something that you need. That's why they're there. Once I'm out of Orygen, I'll be sure to post a bit about it -- otherwise please look into it if that's the thing you feel you need.

I can't really post much more as I'm finding it difficult to form words. Too many thoughts in my head, but they're kinda formless, and I'm not articulate enough to figure them out. Maybe I'll try again in a few days.

I'm going to be edgy and finish this with some song lyrics that have been on my mind recently:
Quote
I'm waiting for the night to fall
When everything is bearable
And there in the still
All that you feel is tranquillity
« Last Edit: May 17, 2018, 12:43:59 am by Calebark »
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Calebark

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Re: Building a happier reptile
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2018, 06:02:58 pm »
+12
Entry Six

Nice, entry number six. This is six times more entries than I had on my VCE Journey Journal.

So, Orygen is fantastic. I've got a psychiatrist managing my case, and she's really easy to get along with. Very personable, and she gives me confidence in how this is all turning out. Rather than being admitted to the inpatient unit straight away, we've decided to try antidepressants (which I recently started) and finding a new clinical psychologist that I can gel with. If this doesn't work out and I go downhill again, I might have to go in and see how it goes from there. This is the most confident I've ever felt in my treatment, so fingers crossed it goes well.

On another note, my sleep schedule is shitty. Nightmares aren't uncommon, but lately they're just getting all too frequent. From discussion with my psychiatrist, this could be a result of the 2016 homelessness. Apparently spending 177 days homeless can result in some trauma -- who would've guessed? This is a long-term fix, so I'm not expecting it to go away anytime soon. However, I've been told to try a support group, so I'll be trying this once I'm a bit more organised. High hopes.

I've been exercising a lot more lately. My housemate and I recently started playing squash together, and holy shit, it's actually so much fun! On days when we're both free, we'll go rent out a court and play for a few hours. It is damn exhausting -- all my limbs hurt afterwards, but in a good way.

I keep thinking about my future. I've always wanted to go to university. Ever since I was a kid, it's been stuck in my head. I was the second person in my family to finish high school (damn you, older sister), and I'd be the first person to attend university, so it's a big deal for me. I've got a deferred position in Science @ Monash and all, but I'm starting to question whether I want to go. It's not that I have anything more exciting planned, it's more that I just don't want anything at all. I want to want to go, but right now, I don't want to. I'm saying 'want' way too much here, aargh, but hopefully you get the picture. I suppose this is a job for future-Caleb.

The part of my day that never fails to actually make me happy is playing with my nephew. He's six months old now. I'm most definitely his favourite person ;) I tend to get in trouble from his mum, my younger sister, for being too rough with him, but he loves it being thrown in the air so now it's impossible for me to stop. We've got a new thing going, where he'll crawl towards me, and I'll hold out my hands with my palms facing up. He'll sit in front of me, put his hands on mine, and then stand up. I'll hold his hands and he'll (awkwardly) walk towards me. It's fun, and everytime he gets to me he gets so excited he starts laughing so much he falls over (dw, I'm there to catch him). I can't post a photo of my nephew here, but I think this picture conveys the same feeling:



I've got goals, but I never seem to achieve any of them. As always, in times of strife, Bob Seger is there to encapsulate my thoughts
Quote
He wants to dream like a young man
With the wisdom of an old man
He wants his home and security
He wants to live like a sailor at sea

Beautiful loser
Where you gonna fall?
When you realize, you just can't have it all

He's your oldest and your best friend
If you need him, he'll be there again
He's always willing to be second-best
A perfect lodger, a perfect guest

Beautiful loser
Read it on the wall
And realize
You just can't have it all

You just can't have it all
You just can't have it all
Ohh, ohh, can't have it all

You can try, you can try, but you can't have it all
oh yeah

He'll never make any enemies, enemies, no
He won't complain if he's caught in a freeze
He'll always ask, he'll always say please

Beautiful loser
Never take it all
'Cause it's easier
And faster when you fall

You just don't need it all
You just don't need it all
You just don't need it all
Just don't need it all
« Last Edit: June 04, 2018, 06:17:21 pm by Calebark »
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A Tortoise's Guide to Moving Out and Independent Living

miniturtle

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Re: Building a happier reptile
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2018, 06:19:43 pm »
+8
I've found that studying (science @ monash) has really helped me connect to my future,  the possibilities out there and what I want to focus on.  It's certainly been the same for some of the other global challengers too (maybe it's the same for many general science students but I don't talk to them as much or deeply).  Not only that,  but seeing as I'm moving (w/ family) soon,  we'll have the same uni trip (unless you move) - surely having a ptv buddy is the most important factor here? ?

On a different note,  I'm really glad to hear that you're having such a positive experience with Orygen. I hope things keep looking up and that you're able to really bounce forward.
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insanipi

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Re: Building a happier reptile
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2018, 07:08:13 pm »
+5
Finally someone who can relate to adorable little kids <3
They somehow always manage to make people smile even if they've had a bad day, and that's something I admire. We can truly learn a lot from little kids. :)

I'm glad you're having a great experience with Orygen! :) Hope things keeping looking positive for you! ^_^