Who Is Your Best Self?


We all want to be the best possible version of ourselves. We take pride in our successes and try not to dwell too much on our failures. We are continuously learning, growing and changing. We make small changes to our character and attitudes all the time. We learn understanding, compassion, grace or generosity from others. Similarly we can learn intolerance, ignorance, hurt and deceit from the behaviours or reactions of others.

We all try to be a little bit better, stronger or warmer. Yet everyday we experience failures to some degree. From time to time we can come across what seem to be insurmountable walls, obstacles that seem too big for us to overcome.

We look at others, how they scale their walls with ease and wonder is it something we’re doing wrong? Are we weak? Are we destined to sit behind that wall forever and never see the other side? I believe the key to being your best version of yourself is not to be the person to scale the wall first time, every time. The key is to pick yourself up and keep on trying, every single time. I think we learn more and grow more as a result of facing up to these challenges than we actually do from the final act of overcoming them.

There are some truly insurmountable walls that in truth we’ll never beat, but to be perfectly honest most of the walls we meet are those we build ourselves. We decide in advance we can’t do something, or we quit after the first half-hearted attempt. Our strength lies not in our ability to scale these walls but in our ability to keep on trying.

Can you imagine never facing up to the wall? Never trying to get to the other side? Sitting down behind it and shaking with cowardice. Or worse, convincing yourself that you never really wanted to scale that wall anyway, all the while accepting your lot and never achieving your possibilities.

I try to work hard at not lying to myself. I stumble at my walls regularly, as I’m sure we all do but I will usually pick myself up pretty quickly. I pride myself in my resilience, my ability to dust myself off and try again. I’m not particularly special, I’m no better than anyone else but I will keep trying and keep a tight hold of the strength of will that allows me to do it. Some call it stubbornness, I like to call it determination.

When we stop trying; we stop learning, we stop growing, we abandon our dreams and we cease to be valuable to our loved ones.

After all, a diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.

Our Inner Voice 

We all suffer loneliness and insecurity to some degree in our lives. These feelings are usually independent of our environment. They are generated internally by a little inner voice that seeks to do us harm.  

We look around us and see everyone else to be so much happier and have their emotional needs fulfilled. Why do we so easily compare our lives to the lives of others? I think it’s safe to say, it will never come good to do so. 

There are two obvious and popular ways to deal with these feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. The first is to build a wall. We don’t let anyone in so they’ll never have the opportunity to disappoint us. The second is to come across as needy. We are the friend or lover that continually seeks reassurance of our validity. Neither of these options are particularly appealing, nor are they successful having tried them both. 

I could suggest that we as a society be more open with our feelings so those around us know they are loved. Doing this can only be a positive experience but in this particular instance the insecurity and inadequacy come from the inside and cannot be repaired by external forces. Reassuring someone daily will not negate the inner feelings of doubt. 

So what can we do to deal with this hunger inside us, unsated by our loved ones? Honestly I’ve never managed it alone, I have always needed professional assistance.There are numerous therapies available such as CBT or ACT. Our insecurities are fed by an inner voice that I can’t control alone. This voice feeds on moments and turns them ugly. From my experience I’ve found it’s a slippery slope from feelings of inadequacy to clinical depression. Clinical depression is when that ugly inner voice wins the battle over rational thought. Nip it in the bud, look for the signs, read up on it, talk to your doctor and get a counsellor. You’re not alone no matter what that voice tells you, far too many of us have been there far too often. The voice lies, it twists and turns facts until you no longer know what’s real or true. 
I’ll never be fully healed but each time he wins a battle I learn a little more and gain more tools in my arsenal to beat him down. We all have the power to beat him. There’s no shame in seeking the expert guidance of a professional to help you see what you need to do. You’d seek expert advice for any other task, why not for your mind. 

I’ve made no secret of my recent challenges with mental health but when my drugs failed to pick me up like they had done in the past I fought back and did some research into why. I’d been on a low dose of generic medication for ages and never had a problem with them so I was truly puzzled as to why they weren’t working when I really needed them.

We’ve all been told by our Dept of Health, doctors and pharmacists that generic medications are the same as branded but cheaper. I endeavored to dig a little deeper. I wanted evidence.

As you may know once a medication patent expires, a bunch of different companies can jump on the bandwagon and try to make that same medication to flood the market with cheaper product. They didn’t undergo the cost of research & development, clinical trials, new product marketing and the like so it’s understandable they can sell it at a lower price. So what’s the problem, they’re the same right? Well, yes and no.

Directive 2001/83/EC, Article 10(2)(b) defines a generic medicinal product as a product which has the same qualitative and quantitative composition in active substances and the same pharmaceutical form as the reference medicinal product, and whose bioequivalence with the reference medicinal product has been demonstrated by appropriate bioavailability studies. The different salts, esters, ethers, isomers, mixtures of isomers, complexes or derivatives of an active substance are considered to be the same active substance, unless they differ significantly in properties with regard to safety and/or efficacy. Furthermore, the various immediate-release oral pharmaceutical forms shall be considered to be one and the same pharmaceutical form.

I’m focusing on drugs that are pitched within Europe with the same dosage and delivered orally only, as these are the most common and this was what was potentially affecting me. That said, the rules for USA and Australia seem at a glance to be identical.

Firstly, the generic manufacturer must adhere to the same requirements with respect to clean production area, traceability, packaging & labeling, submissions, market authorisation, business conduct standards, etc. I’d expect nothing less.

Secondly they must perform what’s called a bioequivalence study. This study will prove that the drug is in fact the same as the branded one. There are specific rules with respect to eating and drinking before and after test times, duration between sampling, methods of collection and so on. This is also quite normal. The subjects within this study must be healthy and suitable for evaluation naturally enough. The number of subjects required is 12 at a minimum. Is this an usually low number to you? It certainly is to me but let’s continue.

For generic medications there is no need to show efficacy. This means the generic manufacturer isn’t required to show that the drug actually treats what it’s sold to treat. Then again, these tests were completed by the patent holder for the branded drug and this generic is the same so why would they need to redo these tests.

I think it is also worth mentioning that if a number of different dosages are being applied for, it may be permitted to perform this study for just one strength. This isn’t ideal but not a dealbreaker either.

The molecule must be mostly the same. It doesn’t need to be identical in any instance. Slight differences are permitted. It must be designed to treat the same condition/ailment as the branded drug and it must pass the following mathematical tests (usually taken from blood or plasma):

  • The concentration of drug circulating in the body (normally measured in plasma or blood) over a period of time.
  • The maximum concentration of the drug in the body.

What is required is that the readings from the generic drug match the branded drug to within 80% to 125% for both tests. That’s a pretty broad range for something that’s supposed to be identical.

And that’s not all. It doesn’t even need that the generic drug company satisfy this exactly. They only need to provide 90% confidence that their results fall within the 80-125% band. There are some exceptions to these rules, such as drugs that rely on rapid release.

In summary, there’s a good chance you’re taking a generic medication whereby the molecule must be similar; the dosage you’re on might have been tested; the concentration needs to be in or around what is asked of it; the length of time it stays in your bloodstream should be roughly the same; it was tested on at least 12 people and there’s no requirement at all that it does exactly what it says on the box.

I don’t know about you, but in my eyes, that doesn’t equate to the same drug and I’ve returned to branded drugs. I refuse to put a price tag on my mental health.

Research gathered from Directive 2001/83/EC, Article 10(2)(b) and European Medicines Agency Doc. Ref.: CPMP/EWP/QWP/1401/98 Rev. 1/ Corr.


Today I’m fed up. I’m fed up of not being well, of not winning the battle. I’m tired of feeling sad, angry, numb, anxious, and inferior. I’m exhausted from the feeling of my heart pounding to get out of my chest, of hyperventilating multiple times a day, of feeling unwell and needy, of feeling unnecessary.

I’ve had enough of having the concentration of a goldfish, although I suspect that’s an urban myth and not actually true. Poor misunderstood goldfish.

I’m worn out from having all my thoughts clouded by negativity and confusion, of not trusting my own thoughts or feelings, of being on edge all the time, of doubting anything good that anyone says to me. I’m fed up of being told that walking, exercise, mindfulness or being busy will help because I’m exhausted just keeping my head above water.

I’m tired of celebrities telling me they’ve been where I am and they got through it. Every battle is different. Every person is different. By telling me they’ve succeeded, they’re reminding me that I’ve failed, yet again. Yes, it’s well intended and it certainly serves to raise awareness but it’s not helping me, clearly I’m doing something wrong if I can’t succeed.

But mostly I can’t take being told again and again that there is an end to these feelings. Depression and anxiety are not like flu, a broken bone or cancer. They are not beaten, you do not heal. More often than not they are never cured. They are managed and balanced every day of my life. I’m fed up of falling down the well numerous times in my life. I’m fed up of climbing back out again. I’m fed up of the never-ending merry-go-round that is my mental illness. I’m fed up (in advance) at the prospect of the rest of my life being like this, a constant balancing act to feel worthwhile for a small snippet of time.

Yes, I’m also fed up of harping on about it. I’m fed up of it dominating so many of my conversations with colleagues and friends. I’m fed up of crying when my boss is being nice to me. I’m fed up of confirming to her that I’m a basket-case. Truth be told, I’m fed up of feeling like a basket-case.

I’m tired.

Down The Well

Imagine you’re walking along a familiar path. There’s a pretty deep hole in the ground, just like a well shaft. You’ve walked this path many, many times. You’ve fallen in occasionally but not every time, sure that’d be silly.

You’ve put up warning signs around the well; you’ve learned to tread carefully so that you won’t misstep again. You’re applying knowledge from previous falls and everything pretty much goes according to plan.

Occasionally you will still lose your footing and when you do fall, what happens is that you won’t have the strength to catch the walls and halt your fall on your own. By far the easier option is to roll into a ball and protect yourself from the inevitable bang that awaits you at the bottom. You convince yourself that once there you will gather your thoughts and consider your options for escape. Of course, the sensible option is to catch yourself mid-way so you’ve less of a distance to climb back up but you’re not thinking rationally, you’re in freefall.

Recently I missed the warning signs and fell. This time was different though. Instead of curling into a ball to protect myself from the impact, I used skills I’d learned from previous falls. Go me! Applied learning FTW!

What I did was I wrote about it here, I told everyone what was happening and do you know what happened? I stopped falling. I clung to the edge of the well and watched as so many people threw ropes to help me up. I’ve stumbled on some of those ropes and I’m still climbing but I refuse to stop climbing, I’m stubborn like that.

What have I learned this time? To talk, don’t just tell someone, you should tell everyone. The people around you won’t know you’re falling if you won’t tell them and they can’t help you if they don’t know. One rope just isn’t enough and it places far too much responsibility on the person holding it at the top. If you had any other illness that you live with and manage daily you’d tell them if it was flaring up, wouldn’t you? So tell them, tell each and every one of them and let them throw you a rope, and they will.

To everyone who called, texted, commented, provided company and identified with my words, thank you. It means so much to know others want me out of the well. I’m not there yet but without you all I’d be sitting at the bottom of that well, alone. Thank you.


Until Tomorrow

She’s been doing this for over three weeks now. She gets up, puts on her mask and goes to work. Her colleagues can’t tell the difference, or at least she believes this to be the case. She’s more detached than usual, less likely to partake in daily banter but on the surface little seems different. She’s probably just busy or distracted, they think. Her attention span isn’t what it used to be but she thinks she’s hiding this pretty well too. She makes a note of everything because she’ll forget it if she doesn’t. Her ability to make tough decisions has all but disappeared so she tries to avoid them at all costs and eagerly takes guidance from colleagues.

Once home, the mask comes off. Aah, that’s better. It’s been smothering her, it’s tough work keeping it on all day. In fact it’s utterly exhausting. At least she’s at home now, she shuts the door and is safe from the stress of real life for today.

She should make dinner but feels no incentive. The only value in eating is to quieten the grumbling sound in her abdomen, so she goes straight to bed, eats 2 bars of chocolate and that does the trick for now. Not even chocolate tastes good anymore so why make the effort of real meals. She’ll be hungry again in an hour and will make another poor dietary choice. She’ll eat better tomorrow, when the real world hasn’t felt like such a struggle, just not today. Maybe tomorrow.

She’s deleted her dating profile for now, it’s such hard work interacting with the people she knows and likes that there’s no way she’s in a position to converse and get to know new people. It’s only online but it still requires wearing the mask. It is easier than real world interaction, she knows that but she just can’t be bothered for now. Maybe tomorrow.

What if she went for a walk? Get some air in her lungs, she’s been told repeatedly that exercise is good when she feels like this but she can’t seem to face up to it. The prospect of 30-45 minutes alone with her thoughts while out in the world, is terrifying. She’s tried all day to not let those thoughts in, she’s certainly not going to let them waltz into her consciousness now. The far preferable option is to stay indoors with a box set, away from her thoughts. Her attention span is dead so she can’t risk a movie but she thinks she can manage a TV episode or two. Surely she’s not that much a victim to her own cognition.

Why doesn’t she just go to the doctor or call that person she used to go to when she last felt like this? Well, she can’t even write this in the first person yet so she’s clearly not ready to be proactive in dealing with these feelings. Besides, she just might feel a little stronger tomorrow.

Maybe talk to a friend then, wouldn’t that be easier? Her friends are busy with their own lives so she won’t inconvenience them with something intangible that they can’t fix anyway. Besides, she’d only be whinging. They’ve real lives with real problems. She’s just feeling sorry for herself, it’s not like there’s anything really wrong with her. And maybe it’ll pass, it could all be gone tomorrow and it’ll turn out she was whinging for nothing.

She does know that only she can fix this but she just doesn’t have the energy today. Besides, she’s got to put that mask on again tomorrow and without a good nights sleep that’s going to be tougher than today. So she clings to the hope that she’ll get a good night’s sleep, that tomorrow will be magically better somehow and she won’t have to face up to dealing with this.

How Do You Spell Single?

Online dating is a bit like a left handed wank. It feels weird and unnatural but if you put the effort in, you might just get the result you seek.
With this in mind, perhaps a cursory check of your profile is a good idea, it’s the only thing your prospective dates will have to judge you on. Remember folks, spell check is your friend.

I’m not a complete autocrat, there are some errors I will forgive. I’m also perfectly ok with a lot of text abbreviations. I’m sure I’d never get laid at all if I didn’t forgive the occasional typo of the your/you’re, there/their/they’re and the then/than variety.


On one site in particular, one of the questions you need to complete is your occupation. Here’s a selection of occupations of my prospective matches in the greater Galway area:

Tower cane
Free lancer

I’ve found men on this site in the past few weeks describe themselves as follows:

I am cearing (I can only assume he means caring).
I am toaled am funny (Well I laughed).
People say I am a GD man (No idea what he’s trying to say here).
Will fill dis out later (Can’t imagine how he’ll improve upon this insight into his character).
Could of (Just how difficult is “Could have”)?
Searious (Seariously?)
Simular (Like is far easier to spell correctly).
Looking to meet the wome of my dreams (What’s a wome?).

The pickings are slim, even when I’ve conceded to accept the more forgivable typos. The world of online dating is a very bleak place indeed when spelling skills become a basic requirement in a suitor.

I am also learning quite a lot of peculiar text speak lately. Did you know that bbe means babe? I mean who’d see a need to type an extra letter to make the subject matter clearer? Never mind the fact that we’ve never met and I’m wincing at being called babe, in any format.

I’ll bet you couldn’t guess what wbu stands for? No? Well that’s because the letters in this particular acronym don’t even represent the words within it. It stands for ‘what About you’.

Are single women just as bad? Can anyone spell correctly anymore or am I destined to drop my standards even further?

I despair.

And parents, can you please ensure your offspring never fail to get the ride in the future because of a poor attention to spelling.