Greg Owen Profile picture
Jul 8, 2018 18 tweets 5 min read
This has played on my mind for a few months now because the conversation keeps popping up between myself & a handful of close friends. I am regularly & consistently asked how I made changes in my life. Referring to the last 3 years & specifically the last 6 months (all of 2018).
Change wasn’t easy for me. But the choice to change WAS. Let’s deal with the drugs and #ChemSex stuff first. I eventually began to emerge from some crippling emotional trauma in 2015. My reality was not as bad as it had previously been.
Then the whole #HIV thing happened which very quickly sparked the whole #PrEP thing. I very unexpectedly found myself working intensely and passionately on something I cared about. That I loved. There was a responsibility that came with it. The responsibility not to screw it up.
But more than that - I was in love with something again and I no longer felt the need or desire to escape my reality and seek validation and intimacy without investment through sex/#ChemSex. So I didn’t struggle so much with that. I was lucky and I’m grateful.
But with that came its own set of anxieties & pressures. I was unprepared, inexperienced & lacking in knowledge. It was not easy to constantly feel like the least clever person in the room while always having to deliver & learn my stuff as I went along - in a very visible fashion
I drank too much. Clearly and admittedly I was self-medicating. That can’t last forever and nor did it. I constantly burnt out and I never felt at ease with myself. That carried on throughout 2016 and 2017. I hit possibly the worst low in December 2017.
I went off the radar for a whole week. Locked myself in my room & drank the whole week just to be asleep & to not have to think. It doesn’t take an expert to work out that this behaviour is not healthy & not indicative of a person with balance.
I was not coping. I was REALLY lonely too. I had some very serious questions to ask of myself. I faced those questions and decisions with the help of my family, particularly my brother Brendan and my brother Sean. My mum was distraught and very upset on the phone. That hurt.
I also leaned on Nuno who is always there and manages me better than most people I know. I am also very lucky to have an incredibly supportive employer (particularly Ian and former colleague Justin).
I get great care from @56DeanStreet too and had my HIV Consultant to speak to - mainly just to offload to, I guess we’ve grown to be very open with each other. I had David too.
I had to to actually admit I was struggling, ask for help, allow the help to be offered, accept the help and try to keep putting my best foot forward. It was not easy - the alternative didn’t look too pretty though.
I also went to see my GP. I requested that I start a course of antidepressants. I started taking these just before Christmas and am still taking them today. I have several friends currently at this cross-roads.
Some who are engaging with speaking therapy / counselling already and some considering or stalling taking medication because they are worried about what it will do to their personality. If it will dull them down and turn them into a zombie. It does not! At least it did not for me
The main thing I’ve noticed is that I sleep better. That I’ve had some respite from whatever feeling I was feeling before. I live pretty visibly. I don’t think anyone can claim that I’ve been dulled down or zombified. I haven’t drank since before Christmas 2017.
I don’t miss drinking and I don’t think I’ll drink again. The only reason I’m sharing this thread is because I don’t want it to look like any of my changes just happened. I know I’m lucky.
The main point of the thread is to try to clear away the myths and misconceptions and taboos of #mentalhealth. Especially asking for help and considering or taking medication (if appropriate).
The rest of my summer is going to be intense and busy but when Autumn comes I will start to explore reducing the dose of my antidepressants and weaning off them. I think Christmas 2018 is a realistic goal. #MentalHealth is fluid. That’s ok. We ALL experience the fluctuations.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That’s all from me. Big love. X

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