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Musings of the Welsh Wizzard

What happens when dilution of the hobby becomes homeopathic

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July 17, 2018

The Devil in your Head


this is not going a normal post that you would expect to read on this blog, there will be no pretty pictures of painted models, or reports on games or just ramblings about the hobby, this post is about me and my relationship with my head.

here’s a fun fact for you Citalopram is one of the most wildly prescribed drugs in the UK and it’s something I’ve been taking for over a year. Citalopram is antidepressant known as an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and yes that means that I suffer from depression and anxiety/panic attacks.

it’s odd writing those words as there is a stigma about it, it’s obviously ok for people who have been through life changing experiences (like the military, or emergency services) to suffer from this, but I’m a middle age bloke living a comfortable life in a village in Wales, what the fuck have I got to be depressed about. I once tried to talk about it to a mate in a pub and was amazed when he told me I was a fool and depression doesn’t exist and that I should ‘Man Up’

you don’t know how much effort its taking me to sit down and write this at the moment and I don’t even know if this post will see light of day or if I’ll wimp out and press delete and go back to trying to ignore my depression.

It’s difficult to know when all this started, i think one level it was always part of me, but over the last 10 years the symptoms have increased until 5 years ago I had a real melt down and was forced to take medical advice. this meant opening up to my wife first and then to my manager in work, both of whom were brilliant and talked me into speaking to my doctor and organised a counsellor. this was when I started taking antidepressants and trying to sort out my brain. eventually after 2 years I was able to stop taking the tablets and I was cured.

at least that’s what I told myself, because as anyone who has this condition will tell you, there ain’t no cure, all you can do is try to live with it.

it took another breakdown last year to show me just how stupid I was in thinking I had beaten it. Work was once again brilliant and organised treatment for me and Mandy (my wife) was a rock and gave me the strength to tackle it once again.

the difference this time is I now knew that this thing is a condition, that it does exist and that I wasn’t going mad, it even has a name now; generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

for me its caused by an imbalance in serotonin and noradrenaline and over activity in the amygdala which is the organ in your brain that controls the ‘Fight or Flight’ response which means during my bad times this thing is always firing. so I never really relax, I find it difficult to sleep and I always feel on edge, I also suffer from panic attacks and mood swings where I think everyone is out to get me and a single innocent comment can cause me to cry my eyes out and want run away and hide.

sometimes I’m fine and I can go weeks or months without showing a symptom (well other than the constant feeling that I’m useless as that never goes away) but now and again the old symptoms arrive back and I’m back in this spiral of anxiety and depression.

can you guess which one of the cycles I’m in at the moment?

So the big question I’m asking myself is why the fuck am I putting myself through the wringer and writing this article (note I still haven’t deleted it yet) and I’m not sure

maybe I want to explain to my mates why sometimes I can be a complete arse, maybe I want to use my experiences to help other who have similar conditions but are scared of facing the reasons behind those feelings. let pretend it’s the second reason as that’s more noble, but deep down I think it’s really the first one that’s driving me to write this.

however it can be both, so lets handle the second one first

Look its ok to suffer from anxiety and depression, everyone can have these feelings, its COMPLETELY NORMAL, there are people out there who can help you to manage the condition. I went to a councillor and take antidepressants and trust me they both work, I also do relaxation exercises and guided mediation once a week and I’m not some fucking hippy who just wants to get in touch with my inner feelings, I do them because they help me to function.

talk to someone about what you feel, trust me it’ll help, I posted a link earlier but here it is again click here it’ll help

Lets tackle the other point, trying to explain to my mates why I can be an arse

thats a tough one and it’s probably due to the Fight or Flight thing, I’m not very good at confrontation and I find it hard to express my thoughts on subjects especially when I’m in a discussion. I tend to agree with the last thing that was said, or I try to see both sides of an argument and find a compromise in the middle. sometimes I’m scared of saying what i really mean as I don’t want to upset someone, so I bottle stuff up and I’ll make a joke and try and change the subject.

it’s this inability to say what i really mean that just causes me huge anxiety until I just unload on some poor unsuspecting person and they just get the lot thrown at them, and then I run away and cry in the corner and spend the next week hyped up suffering from panic attacks.

yesterday I got into a discussion with one of my dearest mates and I could feel the urge to unload all my pent up feelings onto him, but this time i decided to take a step back and I just decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle. I posted on twitter that I taking a break for a few days and other than replying to a few DM’s I’ve kept the app turned off. I also decided to go public  and confront my condition head on and let people know that this is my life (NOTE I still haven’t deleted it)

I’m not sure if this will help or if I’m just going to open myself to unknown people on the web calling me a snowflake or telling me to man up, but it’s something new to try, so maybe I should should just press ‘Publish’

ok I will in in a minute

honest

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30 Responses “The Devil in your Head”

  1. July 8, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    Mike, I think you’re brave, both for the way you’ve handled your challenges and the choice to let other’s benefit from your experience through this post and other ways you’ve reached out.

    I have a different suite of conditions and symptoms than you do but the end results are the same. I too have been asked, “So, what exactly are you depressed about?” Then spells of OK and well, then the inevitable self doubt and debilitating episodes followed in turn by fun items like shame and self recrimination. I share this to support the statement that your pain is understood and shared.

    Your ability (the hard earned and practiced kind, not the comes naturally kind) to maintain personal relationships as well as a creative private life through think and thin are examples of what is possible when we “man up” and seek and accept help and treatment.

    Thanks for that, and for hitting publish.
    Best,
    Sean

  2. July 8, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Mike,

    I’ve recently suffered from panic attacks and my hobby life (not to mention my work life) has suffered from it, as I didn’t have the strength to meet other people. Unfortunately, I was too much of a coward to explain to them what’s going on (my partner knows, though, and I’m in treatment, so things are getting better).

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I really admire you blogging about your depression and thank you for sharing your experiences.

    All the best wishes,
    Thomas

  3. MikeH
    MikeH
    July 8, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    thanks both for you comments, as you both probably know it took a lot of guts to publish it. but at the moment I’m glad I have

    • Nigel Spencer
      July 9, 2018 at 8:23 pm

      Thank you for having the courage to share your experience Mike. I’ve spent many many hours enjoying your contribution to M&M podcast. What you’ve described is an invisible condition. Someone very close to me has experienced similar adversity to you. Your description has helped me to understand a little bit more what they might be feeling, hiding, camouflaging. And the energy that may require from them. Thank you for sharing and offering me a small insight to their life experience. I just wanna give you a big (manly) hug.

  4. July 8, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Very brave. I’ve only known you from the podcasts and Twitter and thought something was out of sync over the last day or two.

    Anxiety and depression are all to common now, and we never really know what is behind a persons eyes and what’s pulling at them. We now understand what’s been going on in your life.

    Remember you have good friends and many people hold you in good esteem. That won’t change.

    I find 30mg of citralopram erksome as you have to have 2 tablets. It annoys the chemist too. Take care

  5. Nick
    July 8, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Mike, I suspect I speak for a thousand others when I say I’m glad you pressed the publish button. Keep pressing it.

  6. Paul Bryant
    July 8, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    Mike
    Believe me I can identify with all your experiences and felt the least I could do was respond to your heartfelt post. I had a psychotic episode in 2003 and was nearly sectioned but managed to recover and continue in my role as deputy headteacher in a very large secondary school until 2015. I then took ill-health retirement for all the reasons you have experienced and life is much more satisfying and complete. However, I still had my moments but on Boxing Day 2017 I decided the time had come to be a dog owner. I am now the happy owner of an 8 month old cockapoo and now walk 6 to 8 miles every day which has done wonders for my mood and complements my sedentary wargaming perfectly.
    I don’t know if any of this is pertinent but I felt moved to contact you and reassure you that you will come through this. It may take time but trust your instincts and your wife’s opinion.

    Paul

  7. Paul Baldwin
    July 8, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Mike, the older I get the more I realise we all go through this to some extend we just don’t realise it as we haven’t given it a name. Take the time you need and if you need a chat there’s plenty of us here.

  8. Steve
    July 8, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    Well done matey.. very well done..

  9. Nige
    July 8, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    Mike,
    This is a brave post but it is important that you know that you aren’t alone.

    The people that are close to you probably need to know so they can help you battle this.

    The people that roll dice against you, read your blog, listen to the Podcast or otherwise have either real or ‘virtual’ contact with you will similarly be fully supportive.

    The people that don’t matter can simply F@@£ Off!

    You can beat this. We have faith that you can do so and the +1 Toughness I have just awarded you should help

    Nige

  10. Melvyn Jenkins Welch
    July 8, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    Dear Mike,
    A very brave post. Yet even as I write that there is a part of me that thinks why should it be seen as brave to admit that sometimes life is $@@t and we all need help to cope. Mental health is just as important as physical health yet if someone has a chronic physical illness there is sympathy. If you admit to mental health issues then people look at you as if you are likely to turn mass murderer at any moment. Well done Mike for a balanced and even handed post

  11. MikeH
    MikeH
    July 8, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    thanks everyone, I never thought I would get so many messages of support for this.

    I’m a bit humbled

  12. Steve Williams
    July 8, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks for being honest, Mike. I listen to the podcast regularly as one of my ways to distract myself from the crap that goes on in my head. A counsellor once told me that ‘it’s all relative’ and that you can’t compare one person’s experiences to another’s. I found that advice helpful. I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression since I was a teenager and it’s not easy to talk about it. I see collecting miniatures as occupational therapy 🙂

  13. Ed
    July 8, 2018 at 11:03 pm

    Mike,

    Thank you for sharing. It took a lot for you to publish this.

    But you did and you are a better person for it. Many may scoff but they simply don’t know the facts.

    You do and you have shared. Best wishes to you and your wife on your journey. You are neither alone nor unappreciated.

    Cheers,
    Ed

  14. Snowcat
    July 9, 2018 at 12:09 am

    Mike
    You always put a smile on my face whenever I listen to you on the podcasts. I love your sense of humour and your enthusiasm for the hobby. Huge respect for expressing the challenges you’ve been facing all this time. Never stop believing in yourself. I think you’re bloody marvellous.
    Cheers,
    Paul

  15. Nuno Castilho
    July 9, 2018 at 12:30 am

    Mike, keep being brave and never feel useless, because you certainly aren’t. You enrich the lives of all those that cherish you and, to be honest, I and many others very much appreciate your contributions to our hobby, via your twitter, this blog or the podcast. You’ve made my hobby a richer experience and that helps me get through life when it gets tougher

    One of your prime ministers 🙂 used the acronym KBO – I think as you get older, you get to know yourself better and you learn to KBO – I think you taking a step back on your discussion with your mate and posting this here is a good indication that you’re learning from that self knowledge!

    All the best!

  16. July 9, 2018 at 12:51 am

    Well done for posting this, Mike. Over the last couple of years, I’ve had my own serious encounters with mental health and I know how difficult it is (a) to admit to oneself that there’s a problem, and (b) do something about it. In my case, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is something which has started to help me get to grips with my own problems, but there have been days when I don’t even want to get out of bed and I’m gripped by self-loathing. I count myself extremely lucky to have Annie who has stuck with me through thick and thin.

    I hope the current episode passes quickly for you. If you’d like to chat in confidence, you have my number. Any time.

  17. July 9, 2018 at 3:52 am

    So glad you hit publish. I too battle with very similar things – just switched over to same medications as you after the previous lot gave me night terrors.
    Oh the joys of an over-exercised amygdala & the adrenal exhaustion that can go with it.
    Look after yourself matey. Being in the midst of this kind of illness can be a super lonely experience, and it may be cliched to say so but, you are not alone 🙂

  18. Phil D.
    July 9, 2018 at 10:23 am

    It’s always difficult, if not impossible, to offer meaningful and relevant advice to someone you’ve never met in person, so I can only relate my own experiences.
    I was going through a very though time during 2003-2004. It took me some time before I saw I had a really serious problem. I sought professional psychiatric help, and that was the best decision I ever made. Slowly but surely I recovered, and crawled out of my own dark abyss, thanks to family friends who supported me.
    So, never give up, and realize that there are many more people out there who are going through something similar. Seeking psychiatric help is still considered a taboo in many circles, and that’s keeping many people from doing so.

  19. Neil Hughes
    July 9, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Well done Mike on a brave post. Although we are spread all over this little blue dot you should know you have a ton of friends out there who support you and wish you all the best in beating the “black dog”

    All the best from one of your “Meeps”

  20. July 9, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    Mike,
    Echoing some of the above comments – thanks for your brave post.
    As I have experienced first hand in my career, the stigma of mental health can often prevent someone seeking help, with all too often a tragic result.

    As a long time ‘’meep” I have been encouraged and buoyed by your enthusiasm for the hobby – you’ve certainly been a positive influence in my life – and for my lead pile…!

  21. Richard
    July 9, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    So much has been said already, but I have immense admiration for your courage in posting this and I am so glad you have such a supportive wife, she is clearly an absolute star and I know how much difference the support of someone close can make. I send you all my very best wishes and any support I can give – good luck!

  22. Frank Reynolds
    July 9, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    Well done for publishing Mike. In the few times I’ve met you and the many times I’ve listened to you, I always thought this guy has his shit together and is doing well.
    This post shows the truth is different. Thank you for sharing – it helps all of us to know that it could happen to any of us, and also, if/when it does, the path to take.
    All the very best.

  23. Derek H
    July 10, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Been there done some of that. I found the drugs useful when I was in a really bad state (I couldn’t work for about 18 months) but I really didn’t like the way they made me feel I was looking at the world through a glass window all the time. I was really lucky to be referrred to a clinical psychologist who, over a period of a couple of years, helped me to find ways of dealing with my problems. The best thng that happened was that I learned how to stop the desructive downward spiral. I’ve been off the drugs for over ten years now and still feel really shite at times, but I seem to be able to keep a lid on it. It’s a real shame that mental health services are so chronically underfunded in the UK. The talking therapies that can really help people get better are in short supply with lengthy waiting lists.

    All the best Mike, it can and hopefully will get better.

  24. Femi Ade
    July 10, 2018 at 10:26 am

    Thanks for sharing Mike. I will send you a direct message cos I’ve got something to share with you as well.

  25. Peter W
    July 10, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Mike,

    Thanks for posting this, it is an important issue for men of a certain age (of which I am one) to discuss. I have been fortunate to avoid major issues in my own life, but I know many friends in the hobby who experience the same challenges as you and your insights are very helpful in understanding where they are coming from. I wish you all the best for the future, and also wanted to pass on my thanks for the work you do with Neil and Mike on M&M, which has bought me so many smiles.

  26. July 10, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    Hi Hobbsy. I must have been under a rock as I’ve only just come across this. Sorry to hear your woes. I had a bout of depression while still in the Prison Service. Bizarrely for such an outwardly macho occupation, I soon discovered how common it was amongst colleagues who were more than happy to talk openly about it which really helped me. Trouble is you only find this out after the event! Had some counselling which also helped.

    I tried to turn it to a positive. Namely the boot up the backside I needed to get out and do what I’m doing now. Figure painting is certainly a good alternative to a proper job.

    You know where I am if you ever want/need a chat.

    Take care matey!

  27. July 11, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Take care Mike. You do a great job on the podcast and contributing to the wargaming community. Thanks very much for this post, and for all that you have done.

  28. Commander Roj
    July 12, 2018 at 7:29 am

    So value your contribution to M&M Mike, and just wanted to say so. Hoping you prevail in this struggle.

  29. Chris Smith
    July 12, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    Brave man Mike unloading all of that. I hear the Meeples and Miniatures podcasts and am inspired by what you all say and do. I hope that sharing it has been of benefit and looking at all of the comments I hope that you feel supported by friends both close and as Meeps.

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