Category Archives: Mental health

Beginnings long overdue

It’s been a while. 

I’ve been away. Thinking. Getting counselling. Reading books and columns by authors on topica around growth, development, change, behaviour, abuse, parenting, bravery, and shame. 

Lots of reading. Trying to reevaluate my priorities and needs while I have the luxury (of time) to do so.

These last four months have been perhaps some of the best four months in the last decade of my life, because they’ve granted me the time and space to pause, reflect, and think. To engage in the Socratic method. And the entire time I’ve been supported emotionally and socially by my amazing partner. 

A few months ago I started a sub-diary here, taxonomically speaking, to monitor my alcohol intake. Unlike my daily beard photo (see my instagram feed for more on this), the amount of time and energy required to produce a daily update was more than I could commit to.

But it also raised a point of concern somewhere in the dusty halls of my brain: if I have to keep a daily written log of my alcohol intake, surely that can’t be a good sign?

And I don’t think it was. But it led to a good outcome. But before I explain further, we need to time travel nine years into the past. 

Yes, nine.

A little under a decade ago I received my MA in Communication/Publishing/Some Wierd Mishmash of Stuff from the University of Sydney. 

Upon doing so, I found myself applying for a random TAFE course, and subsequently a graduate diploma in Business Management at the now defuncy Sydney Business Institute. 

During this time I met a woman who I began dating and (depending on who you ask based on acceptence of traditions) became engaged to. (In Russia an engagement ring and its associated baggage is not the standard approach; rather – two people simply agree to get married.)

The relationship ultimately broke down, due to me finally leaving my partner, due to her verbally and emotionally abusive behaviour (though at the time I would not have known to call it that, and would have simply called her “controlling”).

This had some very severe and long-lasting repercussions on my overall well-being. This includes a drinking habit that, while by no means is severe, is consistent. 

I wasn’t the biggest drinker before meeting my (now) ex. Certainly, as someone who had spent nearly a decade in the univetsity system, I was accustomed to the parties and alcohol consumption that went with them. 

But never would I have called my intake consistent. 

But. 

In the aftermath of the relationship’s collapse and the six months of legal insanity that followed (which I will never understand), I went on something of a small bender. 

Eventually, in the wake of an excellent level of therapy from a terrific psychologist, my anxieties and depression calmed and I no longer found myself self-medicating. 

However.

I still enjoyed a good “tipple” as they say here in Kangaroostan. And hardly a day has passed since then when I have not had at least *a* drink. As one friend pointed out: she did not know anyone else who was such a consistent drinker.

Time travelling back to now – the last four months have provided the time and space necessary to look back on the past, think about the present, and wonder about the future.

We’d like to start a family. Buy a place somewhere. Have enough room for all our books and computers and toys. And to raise kids that we hope to try and have be good humans requires us to first and foremost be the kind of people that we feel comfortable having our kids learn from. 

Also: I am on a pretty serious dosage of anti-depressants (75mg of Cymbalta per day). And alcohol can obviously interfere with the effectivity of anti-depressants. 

Therefore, barring a particular special occasion now and then, we’ve decided it is best to cut my consumption of alcohol down to zero.  

As we have identified that my depression and anxiety were genetically inherited from my mother, the sanest and most intelligent approach, in light of all these factors and issues, is to simply bring alcohol consumption to a complete halt (barring, as I mentioned, special occasions). 

And you know what?

I like it. This decision feels *right*. 

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Filed under Drinking habits, Food and Drink, Mental health, Telling stories, Where We Are

Imagine Differently

You may have noticed that of late my social media feeds have been quite active. It’s not without basis or reason. In part, it feels as though, after nearly four years of – what feels like! – an imprisonment of the soul, that I’ve been, well, let loose. 

“But, Ilya, you left your job nearly two months ago”, you might say. And that’s not incorrect. 

But I’m not yet well. Not yet stable.

I’m presently in therapy, to discuss, analyse, understand, and deal with the all too real and serious trauma brought upon by my last job, as well as lingering, older trauma. To become more self-aware of my own bad habits and behaviours. 

But it is a process. And one that needs riding out as the mind heals itself. I’m not there yet. Some days, the desire to address the ills of the world is strong, to rant and rage at the financial and banking sector, to right all the wrongs I witnessed during my time in the finance world. 

Other days, I want to hide from everything, and everyone, due to being unable to deal with social interactions. 

It’s all part of the self-rejiggering process. Rebuilding. Shaving my beard and hair, getting an earring and a tattoo, it’s all part of that process. 

My close friends – my ‘chosen’ family, as I think of them – know of my past mental health struggles, and my emotionally –  and occasionally physically – abusive upbringing, and how that’s been reflected in past relationships, to say nothing of my current non-relationship with my biological parents.

It’s a peculiar process to go through, healing mentally. It’s difficult to know what to expect some days, and it’s different for everyone that goes through therapy. 

So bear with me. After all, you’ve got to start with ‘A New Hope’ if you want to get to ‘The Return of the Jedi’. 

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Filed under Mental health, Telling stories, Where We Are