Shall we dance?

Fair warning – my head is bouncing around like one of those high density rubber balls you used to get for 5p from the dispenser in shopping centres…. Just as an example, I’ve come up with 7 different titles for the blog: Hoisted by my own petard was a favourite, but I felt the title alone would send family & friends into a fit of panic.

So, shall we dance? One step forward, two steps back. Or was it two steps forward, one step back? Could be why I’ve never made it to “Strictly”. To be fair, I have the legs for it, but I’ve never really looked good in sequins. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you) Well, Strictly aside, welcome to depression.

It’s been a little under two years since I felt I had depression, 18 months since I sought help and a shade over a year since I fell over. In that time, even I can see I’ve come on leaps and bounds – well, more like trips & stumbles – but that doesn’t scan anywhere near as well.

Until recently, I thought I was doing fairly well. I seemed to be getting back on track, seemed to be regaining control of my mind, my feelings & my life, then suddenly, like the aforementioned baseball bat (amazingly posted a year ago – how time flies) something comes along and floors you.

Drifting back to last September, I undertook my last fundraising ride for CALM. It was an absolute (as my mum will read this, let’s just say) bitch. I struggled from start to finish. I watched my target time, then revised target time, then revision of the revision all sailing past me while I struggled on. Obviously I had the wrong clothing for the weather, the wrong breakfast, wrong calculations on time, the wrong gear ratios on the bike. I stuck to those excuses for quite while. I even found some more. (Out of interest, is anyone still reading? I keep going to do other stuff, so I’ve kind of lost track of who’s here)

Eventually, after needing to find excuses as to why I couldn’t walk up a hill, I went to see my long suffering Doc. (Incidentally, she needs a Dameship, or at the least a Blue Peter badge). She ultimately bundled me off to a bunch of people called the Cardiac Rapid Response Team – a splendid name, but to be fair it did take them 12 rings to answer the phone, so I may question the rapid part. So off I trot, and have a bunch of tests (the sole purpose of which seemed to be to strip small areas of my body of its perfectly good hair).

Last week, I returned to the splendidly named team to be told I have acute angina. Now, it’s lovely to have such a compliment, and far be it from me to question a medical profeshunal, but as a bloke, I’m pretty sure I have dangly bits and not an angina, but hey, they know best.

And now, (“finally” I hear you all shout), is my point… Depression is so screwed up!!

Obviously, I’m a tad worried about the procedure. Obviously, the old heart is apparently rather important as far a bodily functions go, but the consultant is a professional and does this kind of thing as often as I have meetings at work. The bit that’s thrown me, the bit that’s set back my recovery, the bit I’m struggling to pull back from is that this year, I won’t be able to do my rides for CALM. One step forward, two steps back.

Not my health, not the concerns of my family and friends (embarrassingly) – the fundraising. It was such a big part of my recovery last year. However, maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe looking after my physical health for a while  is a good thing. Maybe I shouldn’t use the rides as a crutch.

I finished my last post with “I’m off now to start planning my CALM fundraising for 2017 – bigger and better!” Well, it seems maybe not. But maybe it’s not such a bad thing.

Maybe, it’s one step back and two steps forward…

As always, thanks go to to everyone that helps me. My family, friends, team at work, the support teams. Most of all though, the volunteers that give up their time from their lives to help complete strangers like me. Give them a thought too – they are outstanding.

One final, very special thank you goes out to my rock family. As always in times of trouble, they have rallied around to support me. I will be eternally grateful to them for their unwavering support.

And remember, Talk to someone and ask for help. There’s no shame in it and it will help.

Maybe speak soon
Ade xx



What doesn’t kill you…

… makes you stronger. Well, we’ll come back to that a little later.

So, here we are in 2017. The food has been eaten in portions the size of a small fishing village, lakes of wine drunk and felicitations-aplenty exchanged. So let’s start with being very clear on New Year Resolutions from Ade:

Anyway, here I am in 2017. Who would have thought it?? 1st January. A year since my big fall. A year of struggle, pain, fear, frustration, treatment. A year where, for much of the first part at least, I had no intention at all of seeing 2017. It’s been a while since I’ve put fingers to keyboard. Partly because  I’ve been busy rebuilding my life and partly because there was a danger I’d break my own rule of ensuring I kept the blogs light.

As with all the blogs, I’ve started off without a clue of where it’s going, so dear reader, as always, I’ll be just as interested in you to see what inane drivel emanates from my fingers!

How about 2016 in numbers?
58-ish prescriptions
96-ish hours of medical appointments
13 blogs
27 notes in my kilner jar
5000 miles ridden (approx!)
£1928.15 raised for CALM

I also started the year thinking I was so very alone, but looking back now, I can see just how wrong I was. I started running through the names of all the people that have been there for me. There’s obviously been my family, but also… Several Marks, a few Dave’s a handful of Emmas. There’s been Erik, Kirsty, Matt. A couple of Robs & Gaynors. There’s been Caz, Alison, Andy, Paul, Sally, Chris & Christine. Just remembered another Dave & a Debbie or two. A brace or two of Richards. Not forgetting either my inspiration for the rides – Wyatt and indeed Dr Garr – my long suffering and unbelievably patient GP! There’s been my outstanding, incomparable WLWUTPA family… you’re probably getting the picture here right?? The list is very long and a variable mix of distinguishedness (Not sure that’s a word, but let’s go with it for now!)

Basically, I’ve been surrounded by friends that I was too down, too low, too blinkered to see. To all of those people, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for your love, care, time, attention. Thank you all for helping me through the hardest, most frightening year of my life. I don’t say it lightly when I say I couldn’t have done it, indeed I wouldn’t be here, without you.

So, am I better? Am I fixed? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m certainly better than I was. My free time is no longer filled with thoughts of calling it a day – so I guess in that respect then yes, I am “better.” I’m filling my spare time with positive things – friends, climbing, the gym. Work is no longer the only thing I live for. I do have one big fear left though. I fear that depression could be like alcoholism – the part where an alcoholic could be just one drink away from a steep decline. I fear that I’m just one knock away from a decline back to a deep depression. On Friday I start the next phase of my treatment which is apparently aimed at teaching me the ways of coping, strategies to manage problems – something I’ve been very aware that I’ve lacked from the very start.

From the information I’ve been given, it seems a bit woolly, a bit confusing. As always though, I can only say that the jury is out until I’ve tried it. That’s something else I’ve learnt this year. Trying something is actually very easy. The hard part is finding the courage to admit you need to try it.

Anyway, my mind is now drifting off to whether young Boavac had a good Christmas – maybe Santa brought his dad a dictionary… so instead, I’ll drift into a small pictorial interlude of some of the high points of my year…





In time honoured tradition – well for my blog at least – it’s time to tidy up the post with a link to the title and dress it up with a little bow.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”
I don’t fully agree. What doesn’t kill you beats you around and leaves you a bit scarred, it makes you a little wiser, sometimes more cynical. Stronger – I don’t think so. I think I’ll just go with this:

As always, final thanks go to to everyone that helps me. My family, friends, team at work, the support teams. Most of all though, the volunteers that give up their time from their lives to help complete strangers like me. Give them a thought too – they are outstanding.

And remember, Talk to someone and ask for help. There’s no shame in it and it will help.

I’m off now to start planning my CALM fundraising for 2017 – bigger and better!
Maybe speak soon
Ade xx


I’m all alone…

Two things my regular readers will know by now. Firstly, I refer back to earlier posts. Secondly, at all costs I try to avoid leaving campus. Thirdly, I rarely stick to a point and drift off into  a digression. (kind of like that). Fourthly my blogs tend to jump around a bit… OK, I’ll stop!

So to my second point. I don’t leave campus. The flat is surrounded by a huge garden, a long drive, high walls and locked gates. Now, when I described that to one of the support team, they said I’d described a prison. I say it’s somewhere I feel safe. Two sides of the same coin. Anyway… a couple of weeks back I did go out. Yes, my dear reader, I left campus under my own steam, of my own volition. And I went – for the first time since last October – to a gig!! And wow it was awesome.

Two bands that I’ve become a big fan of. Inglorious & Stone Broken. Both gave amazingly polished performances. Though relatively new, both performed like they’d been doing it for years and years. I met Stone Broken after the gig – and what a fantastic bunch they were. And Nathan from Inglorious – What a voice! Him singing Holy Water – just amazing! I’m currently listening to it as I type. Seriously, look both bands up – I can’t recommend them enough.

Sticking with music, this evening I was walking back from the office I was listening to Alter Bridge – Blackbird. I played a flawless version of the solo on my air guitar and was so proud of it, I posted it on Facebook. I was truly thrilled by how well my air guitar responded to my angelic fingers and just had to tell everyone.

Ok, now you’re thinking that I’ve completely lost the plot right? Well, let’s go back to the gig. As I said it was stunning. I had a great time. Best of all I met up with friends, and then met friends of theirs. Had a ball. Then the next day I woke up. And was absolutely gutted. I hadn’t been so low for a long time, It was a Friday morning and by the evening I was on the phone to CALM for support. Well, it seems that’s a side effect of depression. I go and have a great time and then the next day, the depression fights back. I’m not allowed to enjoy myself. I’m supposed to be rock bottom all the time and if I dare to have a good time, I have to pay. Simple as that.

Now I’ll step back a couple of paragraphs. When I posted about my outstanding guitar solo I was walking home in the rain. Very tired eyes from the computer screen, a snag in my right thigh from cycling – generally low. But then my phone started to ping with various likes & responses.

And now, as is the fashion at this point, I’ll tie the parts of the story together with the title as a pretty little bow. I’m all alone… or am I?? At the gig I was surrounded by friends that were looking out for me, looking after me, making sure I’m OK. When I’m on social media, I’m talking to friends who are looking out for me, looking after me, making sure I’m OK.

I guess I’m not alone after all. In my very first blog, I added a picture that described depression. One of the lines was “wanting friends but hate socialising”. Perhaps, just maybe, I’ve made a bit of a step forward recently by accepting friends and friendships again. Only a small step, but I’ll take that.

As always, Final thanks go to to everyone that helps me. My family, friends, team at work, the support teams. This time too a special thanks to Stone Broken & Inglorious! Most of all though, the volunteers that give up their time from their lives to help complete strangers like me. Give them a thought too – they are outstanding.
And remember, Talk to someone and ask for help. There’s no shame in it and it will help.

Maybe speak soon
Ade xx

Addendum: I’ve just been reminded that I don’t plug my cycling anywhere near enough, and as it’s now less than two weeks to the third of the six rides, here’s the link:



Two for the price of one…

It’s been a rough few weeks for me and though I’ve tried, I’ve just not really been up to it, but it would appear from comments I’ve received there is a demand for more inane ramblings. Unfortunately, I can’t give compensation as the train companies do in the event of a long wait, however I can do a 2 for 1 special. So here we go…

Part One – #MHAW16
It seems it’s Mental Health Awareness week this week. I’ve often wondered what the point is in these awareness campaigns. To be honest and say that I didn’t even know there was one for mental health issues. However, in my defence, it’s less than a year since I admitted my depression, so why would I?

Et voilà! (well it was Eurovision at the weekend) That’s the point of them – I guess the clue is in the name really. It’s been fascinating following the #MHAW16 campaign with interest today. It’s actually been quite reassuring. It’s made me feel not fully alone. Whilst I am alone, and only I can fight my battles, there’s an element of strength to be found in the knowledge that other people are fighting the same – often irrational – battles. For example… before a home visit I used to make sure the place was spotless.  There wasn’t a spot of dust or dirt in the place. Every cushion on the sofa was placed precisely. I’d be waiting at the door with the offer of drinks from my spotless kitchen.

That’s just one example of how I – and many other people – feel we have to over compensate for our mental illness. It wasn’t OCD (you need to read OCD out lout, with a sneer in your voice to get the full effect of disgust some people have towards it!). It was to try and be “normal”. Yet had I had the flu or something, nobody would bat an eyelid as to the state of the place. Incidentally, why do people think OCD is such a bad thing?? Again, it’s the stigma attached. Don’t hate the symptom, help the sufferer.

Maybe we put some of that pressure on ourselves, but mostly it’s pressure from external forces, social convention etc etc. Mostly it’s because the general public just don’t understand mental health issues.

I’m truly not bothered how many clicks I get on the blog – really, I’m not. I can’t be bothered to sort out a vanity URL. I’m told they’re de rigueur currently (bit more French for your delectation). Just typing this, just getting it out of my head is cathartic (that was originally Greek). It helps me. Simple. However, if you’ve made it this far, then you must be interested. If you’re interested then you must at some level care. And if you care, then share. Someone you know will suffer from mental health issues. Someone you know will dismiss them. Fact. So pick one, or pick both and send them the link to the blog… It just might make the world a bit easier for a few more people.

And now Zweiter Teil (for our German readers)
Bike rides: If anyone has actually made it to the bottom of the page, somewhere there’s a link to my just giving page. Stepping back a couple of paragraphs, I mentioned that writing the blog is κάθαρσις (google it) – however it’s also, to put it bluntly, knackering. Opening up your darkest thoughts and fears and risking being ridiculed – or worse still, dismissed is exhausting, so I’m going to cheat and paste in from my Just Giving page.

After much thought, I’ve decided it’s time to give something back to CALM to say thank you. Simple as that really. I’ve been suffering from depression for many months now – what feels like a lifetime at the moment. CALM have been there for me through the darkest times and I don’t say it lightly when I say they’re a huge contributing factor to me still being here to type this today. I don’t really know how to do much fundraising, I’ve never felt the urge to sit in a bath of beans or anything like that, but I can ride a bike – and raised a good amount of money last year. So I figured I’d give that another go. I’ve listed some of my targets below. They aren’t huge rides and don’t come close to the efforts of some cyclists I know, but I reckon they all add up.

Anyway, yesterday I did the second of the six rides. It was actually the one I was really doing for me, just for fun. It was at my favourite off-road track on my hybrid bike which is a joy to ride at my own pace. So why the hell when I woke up didn’t I want to do it?? I was totally in the wrong place for it. I was very low, very negative and deeply despondent. Yet somehow I got sorted and went to the track and did it. Did I enjoy it? Nope. But did I do it. Yep. And at the moment I’ll take that.

I’ll also take the part where at 47 the bike gave in before me! I came in from 25 miles on an off-road track without a scratch, and this morning not an aching muscle. My poor bike though… seal split on the front suspension, shredded tyres and a dubious wobble from the back wheel which feels like a bent spindle.

So to sum up this week’s inane ramblings:
1. Respect mental illness – it is VERY real
2. If you visit someone and their house is absolutely spotless, the chances are they’ve had a bad week and are nervous – a hug would probably be a whole lot better than a bunch of OCD jokes.
3. Mentally, I might be in a bit of a mess at the moment, but physically I can outlast a high spec bike.

Final thanks go to to everyone that helps me. My family, friends, team at work, the support teams. Most of all though, the volunteers that give up their time from their lives to help complete strangers like me. Give them a thought too – they are outstanding.

And remember, Talk to someone and ask for help. There’s no shame in it and it will help.

Maybe speak soon
Ade xx

Ps. If anyone has any mates at Halfords, a bit of equipment sponsorship would go down a treat 😉 x


Life is a Rollercoaster…

According to Ronan, Life is a Rollercoaster and you just gotta ride it – terrible abuse of English there. I’m unconvinced he can claim to be the true the originator of the phrase, but for now we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Whether your musical tastes extend to former boy-band-front-men or not, he makes a fair statement. Incidentally, can he be considered front man in a boy band or should he be front-boy? Jeez – a digression in the first paragraph. Well dear reader, you may as well settle in for the ride (pun intended) as if I’m digressing already, it could be a long one.

Anyway, rollercoaster, life etc. Yep, like it or not, it is. Last week I shared my wisdom on how people on the outside see depression. Tonight, I’ll give you another insight into things from this side.

One of the things with depression is that the highs are very high but also the lows are very low. I’m not talking bipolar here as such, just that when you’re down, you’re very down. Full of self-loathing, you spend a lot of time belittling yourself. In fact, I can do far worse to myself than anyone else could do to me. Conversely, when something goes well, you feel like a god – or in the interests of equality, a goddess.

That was last week for me. Last week I fell over – from previous posts, you’ll have an idea what that looks like so I won’t drag myself through it again – or the reasons. I was useless, worthless, a drain on society, a drain on the earth itself. Sadly, like a black hole, I dragged in other people. I spent several days just not wanting to BE. Simple as that. On Thursday I only made an hour in the office before I broke and had to crawl back to lick my wounds.

On Friday morning I had a counselling session and raked over it all again, but at least found one or two reasons why it had happened and even shared a joke with the counsellor. Then, although mentally tired from the week I started to fly.

The reason? I had a purpose. Friday afternoon was the first of my six charity rides that I’m doing over the next few months for CALM. It was fantastic. I was in the right frame of mind. I set out with the group and managed to stick with the leaders for the first 7 or 8 miles. Yeah, after that I started to slip back, but as I was “up” I could be rational. I’m 47, I drink, I smoke etc. I can cope with not being first, I’d just be happy to finish. I hooked up with another chap who was slightly off the pace like I was  and we spent the ride chatting – nothing deep, just stuff – and enjoying the ride.

I finished the ride, somewhere in the middle and happy. Endorphins were coasting through my veins and when I checked the computer, I’d not only beaten my target time, but also set a new personal best.

Then came Saturday and my big sis came to see me. It was great. We chatted, did the tour of campus, ate, drank, watched a film etc. Bloody marvelous. Had a really great time – the problems from earlier in the week had been put behind me. From Friday afternoon through to Sunday lunchtime I was alive again. Then she had to go. And that hurt. That started the downhill slide. But… for the very first time since I was first diagnosed with depression. I stopped the slide.

When big sis arrived, she came bearing gifts. One of which was a simple Kilner Jar. Simple, but it came with a bow and more importantly an instruction.

Simple and clear:
Start with the empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen. Then, on New Year’s Eve, empty it and see what awesome stuff happened through the year.

The jar now has its first notes:
1: 1st Charity Ride & Personal Best
2: Great Weekend with my big sis
And more importantly, from last night
3: Stopped the slide for the first time

Final thanks go to to everyone that helps me. My family – and on this occasion, especially big sis, friends, team at work, the support teams. Most of all though, the volunteers that give up their time from their lives to help complete strangers like me. Give them a thought too – they are outstanding.

And remember, Talk to someone and ask for help. There’s no shame in it and it will help.

Maybe speak soon
Ade xx

Ps. I still bloody hate rollercoasters!!

2016-04-25 21.05.14

Sssssssshhhhhh… Don’t tell anyone

In my wallet, I have a card. It’s one of those health information things. In the event of an accident, it tells the medical types that I have no spleen. This gives them key information about me and my requirements in the event of my non-communication. It tells them when I last had various vaccinations – HIB, Meningitis, Pneumococcal etc. and what daily medication I take.

Just for clarification, I did start out with a spleen and enjoyed years oblivious to it’s presence. However I was a tad careless and broke mine many years ago in a cycling accident. Well, when I say broke, I kind of burst it. Mine was enlarged, I crashed my bike and the left side of my handlebars and my left elbow worked together to make it go pop – think of a kind of internal human-organ Piñata. I had surgery, they decided no amount of sellotape would fix it, so they found the bits, took them out and binned them.

Now for the sciencey bit…
A spleen is an organ in your (but not my) abdomen. It sits high on the left side, just under the rib cage. Most animals have one and it has a number of roles. It filters blood, removing microbes and worn out or damaged red blood cells. It is also an important organ in the immune system, producing the white blood cells that fight infection and synthesize antibodies.

As a result of having no spleen, I have a reduced immune system and I’m particularly susceptible to Pneumococcal infections. These are caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae and can lead to pneumonia, septicaemia (kind of blood poisoning) and meningitis.

I guess you could say my spleen is a splendid example of “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”!

I recently dropped my wallet and in gathering the assorted loyalty cards, receipts, potentially winning lottery tickets I picked up the spleen card which then became the topic of a conversation. There were the usual questions I’ve answered for years – what does it do, how did it happen etc. The usual Ooooos, ahhhhhs and the odd EWWWW!!

So far, so good. It’s a medical problem that’s easy to talk about… Now, imagine if you can that I have a card that told people that I suffer from depression? It would tell them that I am susceptible to some very dark thoughts of self harm. That the slightest thing – forgetting to get a tuna steak out of the freezer for tea – would knock me over and leave me sitting on the floor crying. That I’m only allowed to have my medication in small quantities to “remove temptation”. That I struggle to do basic things like going shopping. That one minute I can be laughing and joking, the next I can be leaving the room almost hyperventilating with panic.

Imagine if I dropped my wallet and that card fell out. That would be a splendid example of a “tumbleweed moment”.

Despite the current attitudes towards smoking, it’s more socially acceptable to admit you’re a smoker than admit you suffer from depression. As I pointed out in Cheese & Chavs – it’s become socially acceptable to call someone in distress a f**king freak. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that’s wrong. That needs to change.

We’re people. A bit broken yes, but still just ordinary people trying to deal with an extraordinary illness.  Please don’t treat us like social pariahs.

It never tires me to finish with the final thanks go to to everyone that helps me. My family, friends, team at work, the crisis team & GP. Most of all though, the volunteers that give up their time from their lives to help complete strangers like me. Give them a thought too – they are outstanding.

And remember, Talk to someone and ask for help. There’s no shame in it and it will help.

Maybe speak soon
Ade xx

Ps. None of the lottery tickets in my wallet were winners, so I’m off to give my shoes a good polish ready for work tomorrow!

I suffer from depression2

Cheese & Chavs…

It’s been a dark week this week. One of those weeks that’s taken every ounce of energy and effort to get up in the morning, leaving little left for the rest of the day. There are probably a dozen reasons but once I get to this stage, if I try to work them out, I just find I end up dwelling & ruminating rather than repairing.

Tough enough as it was, on Thursday evening I had metaphorical kicking that even now, on Sunday afternoon, I’m struggling to pull back from.

On the last day of term, the campus shop closed for a refit. It’s been kind of frustrating not being involved – as the only person at the university with over 20 years’ experience in retail development, to not be involved has smarted a little, but I have to admit that the guys from Blakemore have done a great job.

After my regular digression, we return to Thursday – I have to leave campus to go shopping. I went through all the planning and preparation to get ready for it. Usual things like the list in the order of the store layout, some mindfulness stuff to get me in the right mindset etc. and off I went.

I arrived at Tesco somewhat apprehensive but ready. I began the shopping at nothing short of breakneck speed until I found myself looking for grated Parmesan. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I started backtracking. Both panic & speed building. Eventually, before I hit full meltdown, I dropped my basket and left. Bloody Parmesan did this to me!!!!!

I went back to the bike, sat on the floor and tried to get my breathing back under control. As I sat there, trying to get myself under control and find my sunglasses to hide what would inevitably be wild crazy eyes, I heard a small voice “Dad, that man is crying”

I looked up to see a small child staring at me. It was fine, he’s only 4 or 5. Not a problem. Well, not until his Burberry clad dad responded with “get away from him”  – and then directed at me “fucking freak”

What a splendid example our antagonist has set for Boavc. (I don’t actually know the child’s name, but based on the propensity for chavs to name their offspring based on the location of conception, I’ll call him that – short for Back of a Vauxhall Corsa – immature and ignorant, but hey, he started it). Not only that swearing at complete strangers is Ok, but more importantly, that when someone may need help then throwing abuse is the solution.

And that’s it. No moral, no funny anecdote. Just how it was. And still is. Still struggling to pull back from it.

Reading back through my blogs, I seem to do a lot of referring back to previous comments. Ironically, in the last post I talked about how we as people suffering from depression react to comments. I think in this situation I’ll return to something I wrote in my first post:
All I ask is that you try to understand that depression is a genuine illness. Next time someone says they have depression, please remember that it’s very real and very hard. It changes the sufferer. Everyone struggles at some time, everyone makes mistakes but that doesn’t make a good person bad, it just makes them human.

Kind of feels apt for this one.

It never tires me to finish with the final thanks go to to everyone that helps me. My family, friends, team at work, the crisis team & GP. Most of all though, the volunteers that give up their time from their lives to help complete strangers like me. Give them a thought too – they are outstanding.

And remember, Talk to someone and ask for help. There’s no shame in it and it will help.

Maybe speak soon
Ade xx