The monkeys go mad after leaving university

Where to start with this . . . . what a hell of a few months.

There have been so many huge changes in my life recently and it’s kickstarted the depression I thought I had licked.

I’d been managing the monkeys in my head all the way through my course by seeing a lovely councillor who was in residence at our institute. Just being able to talk to someone who wasn’t emotionally involved in my life was a great relief. I could be affected by daily events and not worry, because I knew I could chat about it that week. It wasn’t a continual situation, and wasn’t that regular, but to know that support was there was a great help.

So with this help, my monkeys were calm and when they were raucous and disrupting, I could reach out and talk to someone who had the correct bananas to settle them.

Throughout the course I’d had discussions with friends about why I was single, and as I always do, I was open about my monkeys. I always mentioned that I was happy to consider being single for the rest of my life because I didn’t think it was fair that someone should have to live with my depression with me.

So in my mind, when I finished the course I was going to go travelling around Europe on my own and away from everyone. Meeting new people along the way, obviously, but not building any strong relationships. Then, a few months before finishing the course, I received a message from a beautiful Polish woman I had been talking to on a train journey two years previous. Before we knew it, we were in a loving relationship and she soon became the love of my life.

But this hasn’t come without complications, all started by my monkeys.

I have spend a lot of the time freaking out about “the guilt of letting her down“, “wanting to be on my own” and being 45, jobless, homeless and having the thoughts of “Why would she want to be with me, when there so many successful men out there!?”. It just didn’t make sense to me, but rather than keep it bottled up, I spoke to her and she made me realise what is means to be with someone who truly loves you for who you are , not what you have. I was just having a crisis of confidence, I suppose and needed some reassurance of who I still was. Which isn’t a great quality to start a new relationship with.

One monkey slaps another monkey round the face with a wet kipper.

No sooner had we started to date, it seemed natural for us to move in together. In fact after the first month, it became a topic of conversation and before the end of the third month, I was fully moved into my new home. Before I moved, I was sofa-surfing at various friends houses from university. Prior to this, I lived in a stealth camper for 18 months. But that’s a whole other story, which I will write about at a later date.

Another monkey kicks another monkey in the butt with a brick tied to his foot.

To add to the minefield that is a new relationship, I have to contend with applying for jobs after leaving university. What I am finding is; who wants to employ a 45 year old man who decided to change his career so late on in life. Especially in the creative industries, it is favoured that the younger generations are desired for such roles. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, apparently. It seems my options right now are: 1. Wrap myself in a duvet for another year until the world forgets about me.  2. Let my depression take hold, leaving me with nothing. 3. Stay on state benefits until my depression subsides and, 4. Start my own business using my art to create colouring books to, hopefully, help other people who also live with and suffer from mental health issues.

Despite the monkey’s in my head screaming for number two, I consciously chose four.

Two monkeys’ start a fight with another monkey throwing bananas at each others face.

The biggest change I had to endure was; moving away from my son. I have spent the last 18 years trying, and it seems – succeeding, to be the best dad I possibly can. Even ending relationships because they didn’t work with our lives or the woman I was dating didn’t want to spend time with him. He has been a stable constant in my life. Someone who has shown me nothing but unconditional love and support. I have missed him in my life since moving away. Now, I know I am making it sound like I have moved to the other side of the world …. I haven’t, but when you are depressed and the only thing which has consistently made you happy is far away, it does get the monkeys stirring.

All the monkeys are now ruffling each others fur smearing poop on the walls of my mind.

And the final stage of my life transition from student to hopeless human is; the lack of money. You leave university with a First Class Degree with Honours, an average debt of £40,000 and less of an understanding of how the world-of-work actually operates.

When you leave your naive expectations, of getting a job to cover this debt, are high but the more you apply for jobs and the more rejections you get, the larger the crisis of confidence. Then one of the monkey’s starts chanting – “You are worthless, you are hopeless, you won’t amount to anything, what have you done you moron!”, the list is endless.

All the monkeys are now feral, under no ones control, screaming obscenities at me.

So I am back on my meds. Doubling up because it’s worse then it’s ever been. Now I am in fear of losing everything again. So you can imagine how bad things are and how exciting it is in my head for the monkeys.

My partner is still being amazing with me, reassuring me that my depression isn’t going ruin things.

I have had only two telephone interviews and applied for over 100 jobs.

All I can say to myself at this stage, and it’s not easy, is: persevere. Don’t give in. Don’t let your monkeys smash your brains in. They don’t own you, control you or define who you are. You can quiet them and tame them, it just takes time.

One way I have found to quieten them is to meditate. I do it every night before sleeping.

It’s really simple and does help, a lot.

I Lay as still I can, focus on my breathing only. Following my breath. As I slowly inhale, following it up to the top of my head in my mind. I Count 1. As I exhale follow it to the tips of my toes. Count 2. And so on, until I reach 10. Then start again. Before I know it, I am asleep and my mind hasn’t been racing with the days events or what tasks I have to complete tomorrow.

I hope this little tip helps. It takes time to get right, but it’s simple and does work.

Peace, Less Monkeys and Doodle Days

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