Tag Archive | anti-depressants

My new life

Jasper at 5 weeks

Jasper at 5 weeks

It’s been a while I know but I haven’t been idle. Far from it. I have been busy taking advantage of an amazing opportunity which has come my way out of the blue, but very welcome nonetheless. It’s funny how things just click together when the time is right and after a few years of long, depressing days, GCSE’s and A Level exams for my son Will, crippling fatigue and a 4-hour daily commute my luck has turned and I am on the cusp of a brand new life, and hopefully, a brand new me. Or at the very least, I get my old me back.

Firstly, I came back from my 3-week holiday in Iran back in July full of beans and determination to be positive and accepting of my illness. After two days of the dreaded 4-hour commute I was on my knees. I hadn’t realised just how exhausted I was before my holiday, as much mentally as physically, and how much the daily grind of the two-train-each-way journey to and from work ground me down.

I came home and in desperation posted on Facebook that I had had enough and needed a job which “feeds the soul, not sucks it dry.” In response to that post, a friend in another office suggested a role that would enable me to work from home. I couldn’t believe it and so I checked whether it was a truly viable option. Yes it was and (to cut a 3-month story very short) my new contract is finalised and I start my new role working from home on 1 October. What a difference that will make you cannot believe. I am still in denial but maybe after I have been up to Glasgow,where my new team is based, for two days next week, the reality will sink in.

One of the best things about working from home however is that I can, at last, have a dog. I love all animals and would have a house full if time and costs were no object, but I miss having a dog. The two cats we have are gorgeous and great company. Full of character and well behaved but I have wanted another dog for many years. It didn’t take me long to discuss this with hubby (who thankfully gave the green light) and after weeding out the breeds that are too big, too small, too ugly (!), too energetic and too high-maintenance I came down to two. A Cocker Spaniel or a Labrador. I am familiar with both breeds and felt that either one would suit us.

Whilst researching the Cocker Spaniel in more detail however, I came across a number of cross-breed options-posh-mongrels to dog snobs. Spoodles (Springer Spaniel/Poodle), Cavapoos (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Poodle) and CockerPoos (Cocker Spaniel/Poodle). There were also other cross-breeds with equally silly names like Labradoodles but the best one in my opinion is the JackShit (Jack Russell/ Shitszu cross). But who would want a dog called a JackShit?!

Anyway I digress. Again, cutting the story short, I homed in on a Cockerpoo and after a seemingly endless wait of 5 weeks, we pick up Jasper next weekend.

I’m sure that I will have lots of stories and photos of Jasper in the coming weeks and months but here are a few to keep you going until he comes to his forever home next Saturday. My life is changing that’s for sure and all for the better. Could this be the start of my real recovery after so many relapses? I hope so and from what I have read about Cockerpoos and seen from our pup so far, he will be the ultimate anti-depressant! Roll on Saturday- it can’t come soon enough.

 

 

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Friends and my two-selves

Introverted

I am really struggling with my latest bout of depression at the moment and am just about getting by but only because I am leading two lives. I don’t think I am unique but maybe a little unusual in the way I tackle and cope with my low mood and negativity. I do it by existing on two levels. Somehow,  I have learned to separate my true self from my necessary self. My true self reflects how I feel when you strip away my necessary self; my necessary self is that person who needs to work to pay the bills, needs to keep occupied to fend off the demons and needs to carry on because if I don’t, I will give up permanently.

My true self is that person who remains locked in a surreal existence where I question my worth, my value, and my purpose despite my achievements. Except that I don’t see anything as an achievement, just a lucky occurence. According to my latest mental health assessment, my mood couldn’t be much worse and I have avoided in-patient treatment by the skin of my teeth. I have to go back to my GP to discuss my medication, which isn’t working as it should and I have to organise more talking therapy to help me recover.

In the meantime I feel that I need to apologise and explain my inconsistent behaviour as some people can be very confused by it. A lot of the time, when I am feeling good, I am sociable, chatty, helpful and fearless. When I am in a depression however I am completely the opposite and talking to my best friends is difficult if not impossible however hard I try to force myself. It is at times like this that I need great friends. Those who don’t get miffed when I “ignore” them but accept that sometimes I am happier to retreat into myself and observe from afar. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, or that I’m not interested. Far from it; It’s just that my self-confidence and  ability to communicate are at rock bottom and I need some time to come round.

I don’t have many friends. Not  because I don’t like or trust people, but purely because I don’t want to let them down by not being there when I am needed. Sometimes I just can’t be there however much I want to be. It’s easier this way and those friends that I do have are treasured and valued beyond comprehension.

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So, if I have been distant and uncommunicative, this is just me getting by and doing my best to hang around long enough for the good times to come along again. I have every hope that they will, as they have done in the past.

The only difference this time is that I am worried that I don’t have the energy or determination to fight this off again. It’s exhausting, demoralising, and I feel hopeless and useless but I refuse to stop trying.

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Hope

It is 7.00 am and after spending two days in bed I am up and showered, teeth cleaned and fully dressed, albeit it my shirt could do with an iron. For those who understand depression these are seen as the triumphs they are. For those who have no experience of this illness, these are the daily tasks that we all take for granted when healthy and feeling good. I take them for granted too but on mornings like today I feel like I have conquered the world.

My advantage in dealing with my bouts of low mood is that I have recovered before and I have hope that I will do so again. My GP as ever has been very supportive for which I am truly grateful.  I am lucky to have a GP who takes the time to discuss my condition and the best way forward. Not everyone has this advantage and I do appreciate it.

At times like these, little things mean a lot. Thank you “Sally” for an uplifting quote for today;

‘All flowers eventually turn to the sun’

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Four hours sleep

Margaret Thatcher, our first and only female Prime Minister to date, died aged 87 on Monday and whatever your thoughts about her outlook and achievements, she made an impact.

Like many I’m sure, I could write a book on my personal thoughts about her legacy, but one article in the press today in particular attracted my attention. Apparently, Margaret “Maggie” Thatcher not only survived, but thrived on only 4 hours sleep a night.

Now I don’t have the responsibility or high-powered job that she had but I too normally rely on just 4 hours sleep to get me through the day. Always active, my sleeping pattern has caused much hilarity/concern/amazement over the years , and being a sensible person always living in fear of my next depressive episode I need to make sure that I get sufficient rest. This means in practice, more than 4 hours unconscious rest is required!

It would be nice to exist on just 4 hours of shut-eye but in reality for me that’s difficult. I am very physically active, increasingly demanding but absolutely hopeless if I only get 4 hours on a regular basis. My solution to this dilemma is to take mild anti-depressant/sleeping tablet-Amytryptyline. The joy of these tablets is that they don’t send you to sleep (I’m tired enough as it is) but they keep you asleep. This is exactly what I need as I am so exhausted by my efforts at the end of the day that I’m “gone” as soon as my head touches the pillow but after 4 hours asleep my brain wakes up again. My husband laughs when he says he brings me a cup of tea 5 minutes after I disappear upstairs only to find me snoring away merrily but  after only 4 hours of blissful rest I’m awake at 2am ready and raring to go and instead I am listening to his snoring!

Perhaps one day my brain will slow down and my energy levels will subside  so that I am able to live life at a more sedentary pace. My family will undoubtedly rejoice!

Until then, I will keep taking the tablets in the vain hope that one day I will survive without.

 

Food for thought

Two years ago I came out and came clean about my personal experiences of depression. The confession lifted the burden of secrecy from my shoulders and I made a commitment that I would continue to talk openly and honestly about my experiences in the hope that it will help others do the same and gradually whittle away at the stigma that still accompanies any mention of mental illness.

With this in mind I agreed to do an interview for the Daily Mail which was published yesterday. Overall, despite some minor inaccuracies, poor assumptions made by the journalists who interviewed me and some ill-chosen and emotive language, I was comfortable with the article and I was interested to read some of the many feedback comments that the article generated.

The responses vary from measured and balanced comments to rash and angry remarks and it highlights how easy it is to read an article like this, which is merely a condensed version of all the interviews which took place, without the benefit of knowing exactly what was said and come to the wrong conclusion. Therein lies a conflict of interest. Idealist I may be but I think that the journalist has a responsibility to present the information in such a way that the story is told correctly, accurately and without bias. In short a balanced approach is preferred. A balanced approach however doesn’t sell papers and inevitably there are compromises, hence the emotive language and definite slant to the article. I can cope with this as any informed reader will realise these limitations and look through what has been written to consider the stories behind the story but I do worry that some readers take the view that depression is treated “lightly” in the article which cannot be further from the truth.

I am pleased that people read the article and made the effort to comment. Any discussion about mental illness has to be good and helps to bring the topic out in the open, breaking down barriers and encouraging those with the illness to seek help without fear of reprisals.

Depression is a complex illness. People are complex beings. Put the two together and you can see straight away that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the illness but there are a number of options available to those who do suffer from depression and these should be explored with your GP as soon as possible. There is a strong link between seeking help early and recovery, so don’t leave it too long before seeking help. Not all GPs hand out anti-depressants as the first resort and, going back to the Daily Mail article, I was not “scathing” about GPs who do. I understand that GPs have their limitations and not all of them take an interest in mental health issues. More education and training about mental illness and its treatment should be available for professional health practitioners and more funding should be made available for talking treatments which would give GPs further options to offer their patients.

Sadly, we are talking money and this is in short supply.

But that’s another story.

 

From good news to great news

Three months ago I wrote  a Blog post called “Good News” about a friend and colleague of mine who was busy turning his life around. Since that post, there have been a few more “ups and downs” but today I saw him again and the transformation is amazing. Not only is he looking and feeling better and enjoying being at work again (!) but his partner is also doing well and the whole family seem more at peace. Some of this is the result of seeing a Psychiatrist and getting the right medication for him but the ongoing improvements are all his doing.

How amazing and something which I have to share with everyone who thinks that there is no hope. There is always hope even though you may not see it. It will be there but you have to make that crucial leap of faith and believe. This is the hard bit but without exception, everyone I speak to who is in recovery from depression will tell you that things will and do get better over time. Just hang on in there and things will turn around.

There  is light at the end of the tunnel.

Believe.