I published a blog from Mister Monroe last year that chronicled some of the changes he’d made as well as what he went through with his fight with depression (you can find that here). I asked him if he minded looking back on what was a huge twelve months which he agreed to. Here’s 2016 through the eyes of Mister Monroe.
Write a blog detailing the last 12 months, what has changed, what did you do, blah blah blah. Sounds easy right? Well what if that year had more happen in it than the last 20 years put together, how do you condense that into a blog? Well lets see if I can do it.
New Year started quietly on my own, my 8 year old son was fast asleep upstairs and my ex girlfriend was out with friends. She became my ex a few days after Christmas, part of my attempt to rid my life of negative & toxic people. After spending years being miserable and trying to blend into the background everywhere because I had no self confidence I decided I had to make a change, that change was to start being positive and not accepting negativity. If you’d told me then how much my life would change as a result of this I’d have had you locked up for your own good.
My ex was staying in our house until the end of January but I was now a free man and it felt like a huge weight being lifted off me, we hadn’t had a good relationship for years and should really have split a long time ago. The good thing was I could now start planning the next part of my life.
I had wanted to move to Cornwall for years (I lived in Coventry, a large city in the West Midlands and I hate cities and large towns) but always considered it too expensive, I mentioned this to a couple of friends who live in Bude, I had met them at a Halloween gig in October. They told me it wasn’t as expensive as I thought so I considered looking at moving in the second half of the year if I could find a job. Over the holidays I figured why wait and spoke to my boss as soon as I got back to work, he put me in touch with the manager of the depot nearest where I was thinking of moving to. They didn’t have any vacancies so I started looking for other work, I had wanted to do something more personally rewarding for a while but such jobs were low paid and not easy to get in the city unless you had experience. I applied for a job in the care industry and was offered an interview the next day…I was shocked and more than a little scared, was it too soon, was I really ready to move this early in the year? I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go to the interview and seriously doubted I would get the job but it would be good experience. So yeah, they offered me the job so the next weekend I was back down in Bude looking at flats. A few weeks later I took my son to my friends in Bude for a few days and told him I was moving there in less than a month.
So lets see:
Large city in West Midlands to small town in rural Cornwall.
Moving over 200 miles from my son (this was the hardest part of my decision but I was looking at the big picture of our future).
Safe corporate job with one of the worlds largest companies, a job with a fair bit of responsibility, to a job earning minimum wage in the care industry.
Living on my own for the first time in over 14 years.
Enough changes in the first 2 & half months of the year?
Once I moved things started ok, I got a lot of satisfaction from my new job but I did struggle with the long hours of doing nothing but sitting watching tv. I loved my new home, there was so much to see and I would take long walks for 4 or 5 hours on my days off. I felt at home and that I finally had somewhere that I belonged.
Then things went wrong.
I started having mood swings, quite serious ones. I suffer with depression & anxiety, I had been okay for a long while but I knew enough to know I had to get help to stop this taking over. I was given medication and offered counselling, something I had never been ready for in the past. The medication made my mood swings go from quite serious to life threatening. I got so bad that I went up on the cliffs near my flat and was watching what I believed was my last sunset before I jumped to my death. Luckily one of my friends had realised from my manner during one of our frequent online chats that I was in a very bad way and he correctly guessed I was planning on killing myself, he contacted my friend who lived here and told her she had to find me quickly. She went to my flat and when I wasn’t there figured out I would be at the beach, she called me and I answered but told her to go home, she saw me up on the cliff and came to get me. This same friend told me to teach her about my illness so she could better help me and has been there for me more times than I care to remember.
Eventually I came off the meds and I went for counselling which helped me a lot. I still have ups and downs, my mood wings are less frequent but they still happen but thanks to the counselling and support from a great network of friends I am better equipped to deal with them.
My son has visited me down here in Bude a few times and he loves it, he has talked about wanting to move here with me one day. He has made a few friends (my friends children, works out great because I get to spend time with friends and he is happy spending time with his new friends at the same time). Initially the relationship between his mum and myself was a bit strained but currently we are getting along much better which is a great thing for our son.
I got a small promotion at work which also means a lot better hours and more interesting work.
My mum has visited me and she loves it here so much she wants to move here too so she is actively looking for a place, this would help with having my son live here (someone to help look after him while I’m at work) as well as my mum finally being back by the sea which she loves, like me she isn’t a fan of large towns or cities.
I have started running since moving here, I couldn’t get enthused about running in Coventry as the scenery depressed me, all the concrete made me feel trapped. Here I can run along the coast path, along the canal, over the cliffs or even through the town it is nicer than where I used to live. This has made a big difference to my health, both physical and mental. I lost a lot of weight in the last 2 months of 2015 and this carried on into this year, some people say I’ve lost too much but I dont think so, I’m not ridiculously skinny just about right. I enjoy running and when I don’t run for a few days (for instance if my son comes to visit) then I miss it, I have recently given in to pressure from my boss and agreed to sign up for a race next year, the Lifeboat Run in June. The race is 6 miles which is twice what I am currently running so I have upped my training in the last few weeks and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
I have also started writing again since I moved, something I haven’t done for probably about 20 years. I was asked to write a journal about my experiences of changing my outlook on life and all the subsequent changes that have happened resulting in my new, happier life in Cornwall.
I have also written my story for my friends blog (quite possibly the same blog this is going to end up as part of).
We have a unique tourist attraction in Bude, our Sea Pool. This fantastic attraction gets no public funding so it is run entirely by donations & fundraising. I have become involved with the Friends of Bude Sea Pool group, I have volunteered at events and I help update their website. It is great to be able to give something back to this town that has given me so much in such a short space of time.
I feel so at home here that I never want to live anywhere else.
Edit: I wrote this blog about 6 weeks ago, since then personal issues have meant my moods are up and down drastically, I have deactivated my facebook account because I simply cannot handle having conversations with many people while I’m dealing with the things I have going on …such is the life of someone who lives with depression and anxiety.
I got my first ever tattoo (at age 44) on New Years Eve, its the Wildhearts Smiley Bones logo from the 2015 Halloween Hootenanny, the event that helped kickstart all the positive changes above.
After getting the tattoo I went back on facebook to show the tattoo to the people in the Wildhearts groups because it was these people who gave me the love and support I needed to change my life. I intended to stay for a few days but by the evening the same day I had had enough and deactivated my account again. I am struggling to maintain conversations with all but a few very close friends.
I live a life many would kill for but it’s not an easy life at the moment, however I will bounce back again because I am determined to beat this illness no matter what it throws at me.
What I take from is the fact that everything is in a state of constant flux, which Mister Monroe realises. Sometimes it’s hard to accept that things will improve given time, especially when you’re staring down the Dog, but it’s worth trying to remember it when you can.