Tag Archive | Health

Where do I start?

018The last few months have been hectic to say the least and the shortage of time and energy has  meant that I haven’t felt much like writing before collapsing in a heap snoring away merrily at the end of the day.

So what’s made life so hectic?…. in no particular order;

  • I started a new job in December
  • I turned 50 a few weeks ago
  • I have started ice-skating lessons
  • I am now the proud owner of a kindle
  • I have lost 2 stones in weight

and that’s just a few of the things going on day-to-day which have had more than a minor impact on my routine.

A few brave choices have meant that whilst in the short term I am busy and under quite a bit of stress, the mid and long-term benefits will be worth the effort.

My only concern amongst all this positivity is that I have a relapse due to a reaction to all this excess activity which has plagued me in the past. I am trying to eat sensibly, get enough sleep and not get too stressed about “stuff”.  My depression has a pattern which I discovered during a series of therapy sessions with my psychologist. We had been working for a long time on cause and effect and after looking at a number of possible triggers we found the answer. My most severe depressive episodes have arrived after a period of prolonged stress-either physical or mental-which suggests that a good proportion of my mental reaction to stress is physical. Chemicals have a lot to answer for and if they are not happy and balanced, neither am I! I guess this is why anti-depressants worked so well for me even though there were also underlying issues that I needed to deal with along the way.

Depression is so complex!

Anyway-suffice to say that I am feeling much much better and life is good again. I’m not taking anything for granted but neither am I being too negative…that’s easy to do.

As and when I get the chance I will write about my experiences in the hope that some will gain hope and assurance that life can and will get better if you stay strong and stay positive.

Sometimes however you have to be brave and take a chance to put things right. Follow your heart. Trust your instinct.

It worked for me.

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My First Anniversary-”Thank you”

Prozac-free and loving life!

“Fighting depression with positivity” is my tag-line and thankfully that’s just what I have been able to do this year. So much so that I am now celebrating a year without antidepressants and I really do feel that I have this unpredictable and debilitating illness under control at last.

Being positive can be hard work.  I know from personal experience that changing one’s thought processes from negative to positive and trying to block out unnecessary”white noise” and “rubbish”  is exhausting and the amount of effort that it takes to implement these emotional changes often takes people by surprise. But with the right help and support it gets easier and the further you progress, the more natural “positive thinking”  will become.

So, I would like to thank all my family, friends and colleagues for their continued support during 2012. I wouldn’t be able to maintain such a positive and stable mindset without my networks-I never underestimate their importance or take them for granted.

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Angels & Demons

Firstly, apologies to any Dan Brown fans reading this post who maybe thought that the title refers to his 2000 bestseller, Angels & Demons. I hope you are not too disappointed.

Instead, during the week I was reminded of a famous quote by Tennessee Williams whilst I was discussing my experience of depression with a colleague. You may, or may not know that Williams was a homosexual in an age when being gay was less tolerated than today and it caused him much angst. When encouraged to “change” his sexuality his response was;

“If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels”

 Since openly admitting to my long-term experiences of depression I can identify with this as I feel strongly that I am a better person for having had this illness, battled through it and am now in a position to help others do the same. By diverting the energy previously used in hiding my illness and pretending to be someone I wasn’t, I am now much more creative and have found that I have rediscovered talents and abilities long forgotten and buried under the black clouds of depression.

Other advantages include me having a much more compassionate nature and attitude to others who may find themselves feeling vulnerable and not functioning in their personal, family or work environment. I find that I am much less judgmental than many and much more tolerant of people’s often uncharacteristic behaviour when clearly not themselves.

I have always been open and honest with my teenage son Will about my depression and low moods and he has often borne the brunt of them. He has grown up with an understanding of this illness and has always been a credit to himself, his friends, his teachers, his family and his football team regardless of difficult patches in his life when I have been unable to support him as much as I would have liked. He is by nature very caring and with the additional experience of living with a mum who is often debilitated by depression he has developed a tolerance towards any of his friends and school colleagues who show signs of stress and other mental illnesses such as mild Asperger’s syndrome and autism. His friends will often gravitate towards him for advice when needed and like me, he has had to learn to “offload” some of this responsibility occasionally so that his mood is not adversely affected. He does this admirably and I am confident that he will be an amazing support for all his friends in future.   

Watching TV this morning, I saw a feature about Angie Stevens who suffered very badly from post-natal depression and whose husband gave her some sketch books in the hope that she would be able to express herself by her drawing and return to something that she excels at. His astute gift worked and she gradually recovered by sketching her 3 children every day and writing a Blog about her experiences. Sketching is something she is good at which gave her confidence and something to focus on. Writing the Blog encouraged her to post regularly and again, was a big focus in helping her to recover.  

Check out Doodlemum it is simply brilliant.

And just think, if she hadn’t had her demons, we wouldn’t be sharing her “Angels” now.

 

A “heads-up”

Last week I was interviewed by a journalist who is putting together a feature for the Sunday Telegraphs’ magazine Stella. I understand that the article is about mental health/illnesses and that a few people and their illnesses will be featured.

I wasn’t sure whether, after the interview, I would be included in the feature but from the feedback I have received it looks positive so keep an eye out over the next few weeks and if I get to know exactly when it will be published I will let you know.

Gungo peas

Leicester is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the UK and food shopping is an obvious example which illustrates our multi-cultural living. I particularly like going to the shops in certain parts of the city where you can buy food imported from around the world.

Sunday is a good day for mooching around and yesterday afternoon we made a quick detour to a Continental shop for some bits and pieces. Whilst hubby was searching for particular items, I was rustling around just looking at the various dried beans, peas and pulses which are a staple part of the Middle Eastern diet when I came across a packet of Gungo peas.

What a fabulous name, Gungo peas and, as I haven’t a clue what to do with said Gungo (or pigeon) peas, I left them on the shelf not wanting to buy something just because I like the name. I am now wishing that I had put a packet in my basket as not only were they cheap (99p for 500g) but having done some research I find out that they are nutritionally full of protein, fibre, low in fat and most importantly they are an excellent source of tryptophan.

For anyone suffering with low mood or depression, foods containing tryptophan are well worth getting to know as “tryptophan is the direct precursor, or starting material, of serotonin. Your tryptophan intake affects the amount of active serotonin your brain makes. Serotonin levels affect your mood, your ability to sleep well, and your food cravings.

Tryptophan is prescribed as an antidepressant, and is apparently particularly effective in relieving certain types of depression (bi-polar and menopausal). Turkey and milk are good sources of tryptophan as are eggs, dairy products, some nuts and seeds. 

As with many suggestions for foods that apparently help with low mood and depression, I suspect that it is more complicated that just eating platefuls of Gungo peas but with a little effort and a few dietary adjustments, food can undoubtedly help improve and maintain mental wellbeing just as it helps physical health.

There are several recipes for using Gungo peas available, so next time I am shopping and come across Gungo peas I will buy some and ask hubby to prepare a dish or two to see what they are like.

Watch this space…..

Exercise & depression-the debate

Personally I have always found that moderate exercise helps my depression and low moods and, as long as I don’t overdo it (easier said than done when blessed with a highly competitive personality) it is definitely beneficial to my recovery from depression and low mood. In fact, everyone I speak to has said the same so I was surprised to learn that there is some debate about the impact of exercise on mental health and that one study in particular has found that partaking in an exercise activity of their choice had no impact in the population who took part.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18335173

Having just restarted on the exercise trail I won’t be unduly influenced by these findings and, like many depressed others, will continue to reap the mental and physical benefits of my exercise exploits whatever they may be.

So don’t stop now!

Mens sana in corpore sano…….

6 months clean

No anti-depressants, no counselling, no psychotherapy, no sleeping tablets, no set-backs, no devastating “lows” and equally, no manic-high energy phases either. No dibilitating exhaustion, no persistent nagging expectation. In short, no depression.

Instead a calmer, more philospohical approach to day-to-day living, accepting slight swings in mood as perfectly normal and nothing to panic about. Final realisation that I’m not Superwoman and never have been (only in my head) and I can only do my best. If my best isn’t good enough, I’m destined for other things but actually, my best isnt that bad.