Tag Archive | Disorders

Fighting battles

I am naturally someone who wants to help others. I can’t help it , it’s my nature. I am a frustrated medic in that I am sooooo squeamish I couldn’t possibly entertain a career as a surgeon, nurse, or even as I tried, a physiotherapist. I hate to see people hurting whether it be physically or mentally; it kills me.

I kind of kept this under control and under wraps until 3 years ago when I “came out” about my depression. Following my admission I received hundreds (yes, hundreds) of emails, phone messages, texts, facebook contacts, wanting to share their experiences with me. This was/is fine but as I have come to realise, I need to take an aloof approach and not try to fight other people’s battles for them. This was probably the most important lesson I learned but it was and remains hard to do.

The causes of my depression are many and varied and are not something I want to repeat here. Despite these debilitating episodes, my basic personality is one of high moral standing (not good for humanity!) and outspokenness (not good for me!). I have learned to curb both these traits so that I am much more tolerant of errant behaviour and those who don’t meet my expectations of them but today I broke my own golden rule and intervened in someone else’s “difference of opinion” with A N Other.

Part of me was wary, no, unwilling to interfere but in the end I felt I had something to say and I needed to say it. I just hope that the person on whose behalf I intervened appreciates that I did it with my best intentions and with much aforethought. Blogging is a forum in which many people find their tribe, their community of like-minded people who are interested and supportive in that particular topic or subject matter. No one has to join in if they don’t feel comfortable and even if they feel strongly enough to criticise, there is also no need to continue the vitriol in some kind of personal vendetta. Just go away and do your own thing sweetheart and leave the rest of us in peace to follow our instincts and develop our own relationships with fellow Bloggers.

Blogging is not a substitute for “real” relationships but everyone has their own reasons for wanting or needing to Blog at a particular time in their lives. For me, even now, today, depression can be very debilitating so that speaking to someone face-to-face or on the phone can be distressing. Not many people at work would see me as a person who dreads the phone ringing, but that’s the reality. I’m just very good at hiding it.

I am lucky that my friends understand this and whilst I may not see them or speak to them personally for years, it doesn’t mean that I don’t care or I am not thinking of them in times of trouble. It’s how I am. I don’t like it and I try my hardest to fight against it and it doesn’t always work but I have learned to be kind to myself.

So, to you “Anon” I say this. Go away and resolve your own issues by tapping into your own resources and friends and leaving the rest of us to commune and support each other without prejudice and attitude in an environment where preconceptions and judgmental attitudes are alien and positivity and genuine concern prevail.

Rant over.

For today.

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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Where has she been?

Well, talk about the Prodigal Daughter……I’m back!

In the 3 months since I last blogged I have achieved so much that it seems almost obscene to write about it-but from someone who has at times been crippled by depression, I only hope that my turnaround and enjoyment of life as it currently stands will inspire others to sieze the moment as and when they can, and  give everyone hope that things really can and do get better in time.

More about the detail in good time but until then, have confidence that things can change, and do change for the better, but you have to help to make things happen…………………………

XXXXXX

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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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.

I’m clean!

I still have to pinch myself but I am now on week 5 living drug-free. No Fluoxetine (Prozac) and no Amitryptyline. For the first time in several years I am off the anti-depressants and  in charge of my life. I’m sleeping well and feel calmer and more content than I have done for a good many years.

I’m not saying that it’s always easy as it most definitely is not. I’m not happy, smiley all the time but who is? Small set-backs can still produce tears of despair and frustration and Monday mornings ain’t great. So it is for most people.

I have worked hard at getting to this stage and I should be proud of my efforts. However, caution makes me very modest and I take nothing for granted. I just enjoy every day as it comes and every day I cope without meds is another secret triumph. I’ve had a couple of really crap days. Serious issues at work combined with minor frustrations would normally have condemned me to a tearful, hopeless and helpless victim of circumstance. But that old chestnut ” Keep calm and carry on” symbolises my approach to the various hurdles I’ve had to face over the last 48 hours and it worked.

My psychologist always told me that the best cure for depression is how you live your life. It all sounds so easy and we have had many a debate about his apparent all too easy attitude towards the treatment of depression but I do understand what he means. My life has changed for the better since I have indulged my creative tendencies and not pooh-poohed them as an extravagance. For me now, to be creative is a necessity and an outlet which must be allowed to function daily for as long as necessary. If that means I am up to all hours making things, writing, painting, or just thinking up ideas then so be it. It is no longer a luxury. It’s a must and it keeps me sane.

What more of a reason do I need?

Contrasting fortunes-the cycle of depression

Yesterday I spent time with two of my colleagues and the difference in their moods could not have been more marked. I had lunch with the lovely “K” who was bubbly, brimming over with newly found confidence and self-approval, smiley, chatty, shoulders back and eyes glinting full of mischief. A woman on a mission to make the most of the moment. Only “K” could come to the table with a glorious salad piled high only then to reach into her bag to find the cheese, salad dressing and croutons/sprinkles/crispy bits (whatever they’re called) to complete the spread! She kept me entertained for a good hour and it was great to see her so full of life and energy after so many tearful and difficult times.

This is the wonderful side of the human mind. With the right encouragement, treatments, inspiration and motivation, the support of friends, family and colleagues it has an amazing ability to recuperate and regenerate positivity from the pit of despair and despondency.

 Simply amazing and long may it last!

Unfortunately, “A” isn’t in such a good place right now. Overwhelmed and under pressure, tears welled as she spoke of her current low mood. Each problem individually manageable but collectively insurmountable and with little energy left over from fighting the depression she faces a constant stream of routine daily battles just to get through the day. All those things that people take for granted; having a shower, cleaning your teeth, eating breakfast, driving to work, facing the crowds on the train. Struggling in vain to concentrate with a mind that wanders and flits unproductively from task to task. Tired and worried. A vicious circle and a negative downward spiral awaits unless the self-critical behaviour is arrested.

Hopefully, “A” will find the strength and courage to face the battles with hope and belief that all will be well in the end given time and gets the support she deserves from her friends, family and colleagues. “A” is usually the strong one. The carer and nurturer. I just hope that she takes some time out for herself and gives herself a chance to regain her positive and capable self soon.

She’s taken the first, and often most difficult step in talking about it. It’s onwards and upwards from here “A”.

You go girl. We’re with you all the way. 🙂

Guest post courtesy of “Fighting the blues”

One of my friends who suffers with anxiety writes a very open and honest Blog about this condition and how he deals with it on a daily basis. As with depression, there are good days and bad days, but with some patience and a lot of hard work the good days might just start out-numbering the bad ones soon.

Here, with his permission, is his latest post and I am very grateful to him for allowing me to publish it on my Blog today.  So I introduce, Fighting the blues.

Doing the opposite- by Fighting the blues

  • As I read back over yesterday’s post I am struck by a few things.  None of them are particularly positive.  That is to say as I read over the text I  observe a ‘me’ I don’t like very much.  I blogged truthfully, I said what I felt and I felt what I said but nevertheless I am left with a strong feeling that I have painted a picture of myself that is none too pretty – for the first time since I began my blog I feel I have presented myself as a little self-indulgent, an impression of self-pity.
  • That was not my intention and if anyone else read it that way please accept my apologies.  And to those who left comments (here and on facebook) thank you – thank you for replying as honestly as I tried to blog.
  • As a result of these reflections I have tried to get up with a more positive attitude.  Those who struggle with depression and anxiety know that is very easy to say and very difficult to do. The deeper the anxiety the more difficult it is to challenge.
  • Followers of this blog know I have to move house because my job in the army has changed and the second word of ‘posting order’ is ‘order’!  Is morale low – yes.  Is the move this time a fearful event (at least in my mind) – yes, of course it is!  But I have taken on board some excellent (but frankly terrifying) advice given to me by my psychologist – to treat my anxiety almost as a person.  And when feeling low (as I have been lately, in particular, worrying about my son – student loan, job prospects etc. – despite the advice and assurance of those who know us both who say my anxiety is almost certainly unfounded) to do the opposite of what the anxiety expects and demands of me.
  • What did it demand of me this morning?  To give up, not bother and do nothing.  Oh yes, let’s not forget a large measure of self-pity thrown into today’s ‘misery pot’!
  • So I’ve tried to follow the advice I have been given.  I got up – well, come on, it’s a good start.  I’ve been outside all day in the fresh air although the sun has been mostly cloud hidden.  I’ve got a lot of practical things done ready to move and I can see the results of my labour.
  • Most importantly doing the ‘opposite’ has made me feel a lot more positive.  Simple as.  My hope and my prayer is that this may encourage me to believe that my anxieties are unfounded and I start to feel better about myself with a degree of consistency.

The A-Z of depression (A Part 2)

Awareness and acceptance- One of the first things that an individual needs to do before embarking on their road to recovery from depression or low mood is to become aware of their emotions before accepting them for what they are.

“The first step towards change is awareness. The second step is acceptance” [Nathanial Branden]


I often tell people that my road to recovery began with my surrender to the illness and they recoil in horror to think that I should have on the face of it accepted my condition and given up the fight.  This is not what I mean by surrender or acceptance and I feel this is an important distinction and lesson for people to learn and understand. I learned that instead of using my energy to fight against the illness its impact and the stigma, by accepting depression as part of me I was able to transfer that energy into getting better. This made a big difference.

“As you become more clear about who you really are,  you’ll be better able to decide what’s best for you” [Oprah Winfrey]

It is difficult to express what I mean by surrendering or accepting my illness but Alexandra Massey in her book “Beat Depression and Reclaim Your Life” sums it up nicely in parts.

“At some point you have to surrender to the fact that you are suffering from depression and that you feel powerless over it…..submit to your feelings.”

“Don’t be afraid of what might happen; you won’t lose any more control than you have lost already. Good things will come from this stage. If you feel worse than you have ever felt before this is because the feelings that you have been running from are surfacing. But it is more exhausting to be constantly running than it is to STOP, turn around and face what you have been running from. ….you have had to contend with the exhaustion of running plus the fear of the unknown”

To surrender, Alexandra recommends some of the following every day;

  • Sink into your depression
  • Stop trying not to be depressed
  • If tears rise to the surface, let them out
  • Ask no questions
  • Take time off-get a sick note
  • Stay in bed-damn the world
  • Make no big decisions
  • Shelve your projects
  • Suspend self crticism-surrender instead.

Remember; ” Acceptance is not submission, it is acknowledgement of the facts of a situation then deciding what you’re going to do about it” [Kathleen Casey Thiesen]


The Do’s & Don’ts of Depression

by Gwyneth Lewis;

Do:

  • remember that depression can’t harm you, only your reaction to it
  • remember that depression always ends
  • listen to what depression is telling you, and change your life accordingly
  • remember that however much you blame other people, depression will only take you back to yourself
  • learn how to distinguish between your rubbish and what’s true
  • dress better than you feel
  • pace yourself
  • let go of what things mean
  • look at how you’re doing things as well as what you’re doing

Don’t:

  • attempt the Bible, War & Peace or A la recherche du temps perdu
  • join a gym for the first time in 15 years
  • push yourself to do anything
  • make any decisions while you’re depressed
  • forget that all that goes up must come down
  • tolerate people who pull you down
  • even think about how you are every day
  • compare yourself with anyone else
  • wish your depression away
  • less depression stop you from enjoying yourself