Tag Archives: anxiety

Relating to Francis Webb

I can relate to the poetry and the life of Francis Webb. He was a poet who was plagued with mental illness, just as I am. He wrote through his depression to produce some amazing work. I too write, and paint, and take photos when I can break through the darkness enough, and get motivated.


this bird felt as miserable as I did the day I took this.

This is a story I wrote when I was having some anxious moments on the bus. I am not so bad now, thanks to google maps. I can track my trip the whole way.


© Dave McGettigan 19 October 2012

I tried to get a seat facing the front, but there were none available. So now I have to face the back of the bus and I can’t see where we are of if my stop is coming up. It’s ok. Don’t panic. You are getting off at the last stop. The bus won’t go any further than the shopping centre. I relax a little.

Why is that woman looking at me?

She can’t know… can she?

No. Dr Stewart told me that nobody would know if I didn’t tell them.

Then why is she looking at me?

She is reaching for her phone. Is she calling the police? Perhaps she is calling Dr Stewart to tell him I am catching the bus by myself. No escort for me this morning.

She is talking in hushed tones on the phone.

Oh god, now she is laughing! What is she laughing at? I combed my hair. I made sure I washed my face after breakfast. I look down and make sure I had buttoned my shirt correctly and that my tie is straight. My fly is up, so it isn’t that. I don’t know why she is laughing.

She has finished her phone call, put her phone away and now she is looking at me again.

She smiled.

Perhaps she likes me. I sit straighter in the seat at the thought. Perhaps she wants to go out with me. No! She wouldn’t have been laughing at me if she likes me.

Maybe she knew me before…before I got sick; before I did those things to that man. I didn’t mean to do it! She must know… I have to tell her. I didn’t mean to do it lady. I was sick. But I’m better now. I can’t tell her that. She won’t understand. Nobody does. They all think I would do something like that again. But I won’t. I couldn’t do something like that if I take my pills. I am good when I take them. But one day of missing them and BAM! I could change so quickly. I touch my shirt pocket to assure myself that the pack is still in my pocket. I breathe a bit easier.

I have changed a lot physically since then anyway. It’s been ten years after all. I have gotten taller, grown whiskers on my face and filled out; so Nurse Stevens tells me. I don’t think she knows me. Besides, that all happened in Adelaide. This is Sydney.

Perhaps I remind her of someone. I hope that is a good thing. Perhaps the person I remind her of brings back some bad memories. But I think the opposite is true. I think I bring back happy memories. That’s why she laughed on the phone. That’s why she smiled at me.

My god, why won’t she stop looking at me! She looks at her watch, which in turn causes me to look at mine. Are we running late? Nope… right on time. But she looked worried.

Maybe she is worried that the police won’t arrive quick enough to grab me when the bus arrives at the shopping centre. No! You have been through all that. She did not call the police or Dr Stewart. She doesn’t know me, nor do I remind her of somebody. She is looking at me because I am facing the back.

Damn. I wish I could have gotten a seat facing the front. Then at least if people were looking at me I wouldn’t even know about it.

She is standing up. She is walking towards me! What is she going to say? Am I going to be ridiculed in front of all these people? I clench my fists in anticipation of the confrontation.

“I like your tie,” she says “My husband has one just like it.”

“Oh…he he,” I give a nervous laugh “Thanks.” I say as she walks past me to exit the bus.

I realise that we have reached the shopping centre and now I can lose myself in the crowd. I alight from the bus and walk the short distance to the entrance of the centre.

Why is that man looking at me…?

I too have been in a mental facility, following a suicide attempt and not able to leave by my own terms. My term was short, but I think that perhaps if I were unwell at the time of Francis Webb, I may have never known freedom again.

Image result for straight jacket


Francis Webb had a spiritual connection and held onto his faith during the time of his suffering.  Many of his poems are prayers; crying out for others to be aware of the suffering, and to provide comfort and relief. Jussi Bjorling provided comfort and relief for Francis Webb with his singing of Nessun Dorma.


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My hope with this post that some people may become aware how debilitating Depression and Anxiety can be. This is my personal story.If you need to know more, please look at this link that my good friend sent me.


Some of you may know that I suffer from Depression/ Anxiety. It is normally well controlled by LOVAN, which is a life saver. I still have days which are worse than others but I can function.

On Christmas Eve I ran out of LOVAN and didn’t have another script where I could just go to the chemist and all will be good.

Christmas day was a good day. I still had enough of the drug in my system to keep doing its job. I had a great day with some close friends at a picnic before Sam and I went for a drive around Palm Beach in Sydney… such a lovely drive.

Boxing day I was a little down but not too bad. It was a quiet day for me, just spent watching the cricket on TV and then I went to the park to draw.

Yesterday was a nightmare. I woke in the morning very very depressed. I did manage to get up for breakfast, and then again for some sandwiches at lunch time. it was then that I decided to take one of my old antidepressants. Although it is now not prescribed to me, it still was effective to lessen the effects of the depression, enough so I could function and do some work on my blog and other things I had to do.

This morning I was able to secure an appointment with my doctor for tomorrow morning and again took another of my old tablets. These do not have the anti-anxiety effects of my new tablet. It got me moving, but do you know how many things that you can imagine can go wrong just in a trip to the post office?

I got anxious about the drive, my clothing, the parcels that I had to address and send, the price of them, parking, the mechanics of the car etc etc.

I get anxious about money, relationships, even the weather.

I managed to get to the post office and home in without incident though. It just goes to prove that my anxiety has no foundation and is not normal. When I think I am going OK and do not need my medication, let me look back on this post to remind me what happens when I don’t take it.

Sam just called to take me to lunch. That is something that definitely helps lift the cloud. Life goes on.



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Life pressures and swimming

What happens when an agoraphobic becomes claustrophobic? I open the door of my room. I also open the computer and begin to write blogs and emails to people trying to explain how I am feeling. to reach out to others; testing the water with my little toe. Opening myself to pressure, ridicule and shame.

What little pressures I have in this life may seem small to others but added up become overwhelming at times.Pressure from not having enough income from my very casual job. Pressures from my health, as I am unable to cope with more work. Extra pressures from my health now that I have been diagnosed with Diabetes and as yet I don’t know how to control it.

How is the water… my toe sends signals… is it too cold?… are people too standoffish, too distant. Do they want to welcome me in. “Come on in, the water is just fine”.

Is is too warm? … do the pressures of life leave me hot and bothered… wanting to loosen my tie?

Is it clean or polluted? If the water is too pure, will my entering it somehow cause it to be less so? If the water is too polluted, do I risk myself to become polluted by the bad thoughts and ideas of the world in which I choose to live?

Others are in the water, they seem fine. If I stand here on the shore, people will point and laugh anyway, I don’t look good in a bathing suit. Standing here on the shore, alone, makes me conspicuous anyway.

Everyone looks the same when the water is up to their neck. Like ducks, some of us are paddling furiously under the surface to keep afloat, while others glide with ease.

With others encouragement, I take a deep breath, ready myself and dive into life headfirst. I will surface, I will survive, and if I tire or feel that the water is too deep, I have many around me to hold me up… and lifesavers on the shore waiting to jump in at a moments notice.

Thank God for friends, and lifesavers.


clovelly 011

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Who am I kidding?

Holidays are coming up, and for months I have been planning a 4 week trip around Victoria and South Australia. This is something I used to do with my eyes closed. I would travel, taking photos everywhere I went and really enjoying the scenery, meeting new people and going to places that others haven’t even heard of.

I have driven from Sydney to Cairns, to Melbourne, all around Tasmania and have even ridden a motorcycle from Sydney to Perth. This trip should be a piece of cake for me.

I have a purpose to my trip; to photograph endangered species of Australian Native Birds, so I can then paint or do a pastel of them. Then sell them and donate some of the proceeds to Australian Geographic. I have planned to go in the height of summer, when it is warm in Sydney but a little cooler down south. The birds like the cooler regions too. I have planned to go to Chiltern in Victoria where there is a large bird sanctuary.

But, all the travel I had done previously was when I was mentally well. Now I suffer, and I do mean suffer, from depression, anxiety, and agoraphobia. Some days I find it difficult to get out of bed let alone out of the city which I feel comfortable in. I have not spent a night out of my own bed in the last 5 or so years.

So, baby steps, baby steps, I guess. Lets try for a week or two this January. Perhaps going to stay with people I know, or go to places familiar to me. Then, next semester break I might feel comfortable to go further, until at the end of my University course, I could then travel around Australia as I intend.

Traveling can be a lonely scary road, and I am such a social person. It might seem a contradiction, saying I am social but yet some days I cant get out of my bed. I am constantly in contact with friends by telephone and internet, and they make sure I get out occasionally, even if only for a coffee or meal in a quiet restaurant. If I have obligations, I tend to meet them. However the number of times I have said yes, I would be to social events, only to find when the time comes I cant do it… you would be surprised.

Oh well, press on.

I write this for its therapeutic value, not only for myself but for others who may be suffering and may benefit from reading; feeling they are not alone in their struggle.


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Depression Day

This morning I woke, depressed, and anxious because  I was going to undertake some new work in art that I don’t have confidence doing yet. So I remained depressed. A friend texted me to see how I was and I told him that I was battling depression. But then I realised the way to do it is not to battle it, but just let it happen. I was trying to do what I tell others not to do all the time; that is make sense of my depression so I could overcome it.

Again I must state that you cant try to reason emotions logically. Sometimes you just have to let them happen, then when that emotion is finished, you can move on. I cancelled the plans I had for the day (that were causing me to be anxious) so I could let my emotions run their course. Then I got on with doing tasks that I knew I needed to do. By letting the emotions run in the background, I could use my brain to accomplish other things. I made a mental list of some of the physical things I needed to take care of, that is eat, drink, do the washing etc. I was still depressed but at least  I was functioning.

I know I haven’t expressed this extremely well, but I hope someone can make sense of it and it helps someone understand what is happening for them and how to deal with it.


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A while ago, I had to undergo great stress to the point that I tried to commit suicide rather than face this private nightmare. There was a period of 18 months from the outset to the conclusion. I was forever on edge, at times severely depressed, and people could only console, they couldn’t sympathise saying ” I know what you are going through” , because nobody in my circles could say that. I sought counselling to deal with the anxiety and depression. People could only guess at the outcome, but could not predict what was going to happen. IN the end, it turned out to be not as bad as what people guessed, and I felt a huge relief when the conclusion was reached.

It was a life changing experience and one which I was determined to make into a positive. I re-evaluated my priorities and my goals for life. I took up art again, and writing, and with support of friends started photography again. These are things I had given up some 25 years before. I did a mindfulness course for stress relief, and while I don’t daily practice meditation, it is a part of my life and being. My heart rate and blood pressure are a little lower than normal and that for an obese man is quite a surprise for my doctors.

Since that time, I have given the making of money a lower priority, and given greater priority to enjoying life and being satisfied with what I have. I have gone back to study, this time not for vocational reasons but for enjoyment. I am doing a degree in creative arts and quite enjoy it.

I still have anxious times, and times of depression, that cant be helped, but I have learnt to accept these feelings as part of me, and just let them be. I know I will come out of it and get on with living.

The intense feelings I have these days have to do with pleasure at creating an artwork that I love, taking that perfect picture, or writing something which I know will enrich the lives of people who read it. I have intense feelings of pride when my work is acknowledged, when I win an award, or prize for my creations, or when an artwork, photograph or story sells.

I must say I prefer the intense feelings I get now, than the ones I had previously.



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