The Recovery Part 1

I’ve been on tablets now for 11 days. It’s not been the smoothest of sailing. My appetite has been very up and down. Some days (or even parts of the day) my appetite would be so huge. I would be starving until I took that first bite then I’d feel sick instantly. Other times I’d not be hungry at all despite not having eaten for hours.

My mood has also been equally up and down. Some parts of the day I would absolutely not want to speak to anyone and other parts I feel almost like myself again, able to hold a conversation and able to laugh at jokes. The evenings I feel a little more relaxed in the new place. I have my own space for the first time since I was born (excluding that year at uni). My housemate is very understanding if I want to just sit in my room and recuperate.

I’ve also been back at work for the week. After two weeks off at Christmas, two days working from home, one day in the office and leaving early, then a week and a half off sick, I found it really difficult to go back. I was desperate to get back into a routine but my anxiety was also sky high. I felt like all eyes would be on me and there would be tons of attention my way. Luckily the team at work are also pretty damn good at understanding my moods. I’ve not been able to manage full days so I’ve been getting to work a little later than normal and leaving a little bit earlier but it’s definitely helped me ease back into a routine of some sort.

I’ve also been trying to make myself commit to some positive actions for my physical and mental health.

  1. Play more music. Record more music. Listen to more music. Sing more. – Do I even need to say any more? Music is the greatest healer, the best comforter and the number one thing to relax and bring a bit of joy. It’s also a powerful tool for social change. Case in point – Akala.
  2. Be sociable – Even if that means dragging people to the new house which is my comfort zone at the moment.
  3. Cook more – Making my own food is not only tasty and healthy, the process of cooking is also extremely therapeutic for me.

I’m still not even close to getting back to my normal self. I find it extremely exhausting trying to be “normal” for other people. It’s tiring to smile when I don’t want to. However, I’m actively forcing myself to take positive actions to improve my health so that I am smiling for real. It can be really hard and extremely scary, panic attack inducing even but it could also massively aid you in your recovery if you start to force yourself to do things that you’re scared of doing even though you know it’s good for you.

I’m determined to get better and I hope sharing my experiences will help you get better too.

A

Samaritans

Mind

Other mental health organisations

#FastForAFriend

A couple days ago I was talking to a good friend of mine, Uzma, and we were talking about how her Ramadan was going. At the end of our conversation, she challenged me to fast for a day. Today was that day! Last night, I posted a simple Facebook status and a single tweet. The reaction that I got on social media was massive. Tweets of good luck, thanks, prayer and tips on how to get through your first day of fasting. The messages were from strangers, friends of friends and long time friends. I even got a tweet from SuperSaf (one of my favourite YouTube tech reviewers) which was amazing! I had complete strangers tweet me and message me on what Ramadan means to them. The sense of community that I felt from these people has been incredible.

The absolute sheer good, the positivity and the kindness that exudes from the Muslim community is immeasurable. All the time, it’s incredible. Not just during Ramadan. I’ve been invited to iftars by complete strangers on Twitter and Facebook. In Manchester, they’ve been doing huge iftars for the homeless in the centre of town. Selflessness is a huge part of Islam.

I’m not religious and I don’t think I ever will beย but I do appreciate the values that Islam and all religions hold and that’s community, peace and justice for all. These last two days I’ve experienced first hand those principles.

The whole point of this exercise was for me to learn more about Ramadan, Islam and the community and hopefully share it with the internet world to disprove all the utter nonsense in the media. The “Muslims” you see terrorising people on TV are absolutely not Muslims. If you really think that those of ISIS represent the majority then please, fast, talk to Muslims in your area, open your mind to what the religion really represents.

I’m going to end it here. I can’t articulate exactly ย I’m sleepy, hungry and Uzma has just sent me this:

I’m going to break fast now a little bit early as my food is going cold.

Thank you to the entire Muslim community locally and online for welcoming me into the family. I hope you have an amazing Ramadan and I’ll hopefully be around to celebrate Eid with you all too! ๐Ÿ™‚

EDIT: I also want to make sure I send a huge thank you to Zahrah. She looked after me during the day and did a live stream interview with me about Islam and Ramadan.

#CheerUpChallenge

So I wrote in my recent post that I’ve set myself a challenge to cheer up. It’s imaginatively called the #cheerupchallenge.

I’ve spent a long long time figuring out what kinds of things make me happy. It’s a brilliant combination of music, fantasy, food and friends. Have a little look see at some of my posts so far and set yourself a little challenge to keep your mood up! ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t want to make this post too long as it’s going to be 99% pictures chronicling my quest to get better so I hope you enjoy and please feel free to give me a follow on Instagram (@alexquang) and leave a comment/like/share! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Got myself some treats today as a little retail therapy. I've been so run down today I've broken out in some very painful stress spots so I thought I'd get some sunglasses to cover up parts of my face and some new cologne so I can at least smell nice! Lots of people forget that men can have anxiety about their looks too. It's something that I'm trying to be more open about but it's seriously tough. These things take time, energy and guts. Hopefully if I'm more open about it in future it'll encourage other men to do the same. Men are judged by society if they open up about their emotions and feelings but I say bollocks to that. #depression #anxiety #mentalhealth #therapy #cheerupchallenge #bodyimage

A post shared by Alex Quang (@alexquang) on

Blue Christmas

Christmas is a holiday which is widely associated with a fantastical magical feeling of good will, gift giving, love and joy. But is it always? Not for plenty of people.

There are Thousands less fortunate than me who are going to be sending Christmas alone, be it in a big empty house or on the street and we should try our best not to forget that. Remember all the things we’re grateful for and try not to take anything for granted. Health included.

I bang on a lot about mental health and in my opinion its for good reason. Mental ill health can make even the most joyous of occasions dull, horrible and scary. For the last six or seven years or so I’ve struggled at this time of year. Lots of people do but for different reasons.

This time of year is where I feel loneliest, despite the good spirit and the family that I have around me. I love my family and I know my family loves me, but I never feel comfortable with them. I’ve virtually nothing in common with any of them. It’s something I’ve felt for a long long time, but it’s extremely clear and very obvious when I’m forced, one day a year to spend it in the sole presence of my family.

It’s something I just can’t explain. That’s the place that I feel most alone, when I’m surrounded by people who love me most. However, while I’m uncomfortable, lonely and horrendously awkward at this time of year, I am still grateful.

Grateful to have family at all, grateful to my friends, grateful to have food on my plate and grateful to be alive. I’m not a fan of spending Christmas day with my family. But for one day a year, I’m happy to sit through a day of good food, bad games and even worse music and tv. It’s significantly tougher than even the most taxing days at work, but it’s worth it to see my family have a good time. Besides, it’s not unusual that the more I pretend to have a good time, for parts of the day I do end up enjoying myself.

Other people have it much tougher than I do though. Mine is just one example of depression and mental ill health taking over the holidays. If you know someone who’s going through a particularly tough time this holiday season, make sure that you’re there for them. It’s always easier to get through things knowing you’ve got someone in your corner.

And for those who struggle with these kinds of things and particularly over-thinking which I’m sure plenty of us do. Have a look at this little gem, courtesy of CollegeHumor.

Christmas is always blue for me, but blue isn’t all bad. I really get time to reflect on what’s important, who’s important and what I can do to get to the point I can genuinely enjoy the holidays again. Besides, blue is one of my favourite colours.

A

World Mental Health Day

As I’m sitting here on my second of 8 trains today I realised that it’s world Mental health day. It’s a serious topic which affects everyone on earth. We forget that everyone has mental health, whether it’s good or bad health is another matter.
I’ve previously written a post about mental health in the wake of Robin Williams suicide, you can find it on my LinkedIn. I spoke a little about my experiences and the little things that help.
This post will hopefully show people that it’s fine to talk about mental health, in fact I encourage it. Only through talking about it openly will people be able to accept that it’s a normal part of life and in turn, feel comfortable enough to seek help when necessary.
I’m pretty open about my depression, I try not to talk about it all the time but I won’t avoid questions when they come up. It’s not something which is easy to understand so questions are good! It’s extremely important to remember that it affects people differently so don’t assume you know what they’re going through, even if you’ve been through something similar before.
Mine has been on and off for years now and it’s currently rearing it’s ugly head again and so I’m back on anti-depressants and am being referred to CBT. It’s hard for me to remember any prolonged periods of happiness over the last few years. There are very few days where I wake up and feel totally chipper. In fact there are none. My mood can change throughout the day though. If I can motivate myself to get up and to work I usually have a decent day at work. I have a very friendly team and all in all I have a good job. Things like this pick me up. However things that seem trivial to some can be a massive deal for me, for example, making mistakes, even tiny ones, can be enough to throw me off for the whole day if my mood is low… Picking myself is infinitely tougher.
There are several things that help though, things I mentioned in a previous post (which you can read on this blog). At times when human interaction makes me feel sick and curl up into a little ball, it actually turns out that human interaction is exactly what I need. It’s always great when the people I love text me just to see how I’m doing. This feeling of not wanting to see, speak to or even be in the vicinity of other people is one that comes up often, suddenly and intensely. I’m just lucky I have ways to get out of that funk.
I could write about my experiences for hours, and I’d be happy to share more but this blog is already looking pretty long. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, share and talk about this post and the topic. It’s one of the most bizarre topics to me, it’s one of the most common in the world in that everyone has mental health, good or bad, but it’s one of the things that people don’t take seriously, don’t talk about or even recognise is a problem. Absolutely mental right?
Side note: this is the first time I’ve ever written a whole post on my phone, sorry for the lack of pictures and links to things.
A