Tag Archive | illness

Don’t fight it

Everything I have read about CFS/M.E includes the advice “don’t fight the fatigue.” That’s assuming you have a choice.

This weekend, I had no choice, and I have spent many many hours in bed asleep or just too exhausted to move. It’s a while since I felt this lifeless but looking back over the last few weeks, I suspect this is a classic case of delayed fatigue after some exciting and stressful events and increasing pressure at work during our busy time of year.

To summarise, I had 11 hours of sleep on Friday night. I followed this with a 4-hour “power-nap” on Saturday afternoon, 14 hours sleep last night and 3 hours of “rest” today. I have no desire to do any craft work, to cut pieces of material ready for my daily commute quilt or even read a book. I am totally drained and my mood has plummeted. I wish I knew what really causes these relapses as I have been trying really hard to avoid over-stretching myself apparently to no avail.

Luckily I see Doc Fraser on Thursday and will be able to chat over the last few weeks with him and try to get back on track to recovery. Perhaps this is a one-off strong reaction; perhaps I still have the cough/sore throat virus lingering longer and outstaying its welcome. Whatever it is I don’t like it so in addition to increasing my rest periods, I will be a lot more diligent about eating more healthily and avoiding unnecessary activity and sadly this will have to include the Christmas parties. I can’t stay out late in town worrying about catching the last train home and still turn up for work early next morning. It’s too much when it takes me 4 hours a day to travel to and from work.

Alcohol is not conducive to recovery from CFS/M.E and it’s no fun being out with a crowd who are gradually getting merrier when you are the only sober one there!

So I will continue with my normal daily routine up to Christmas and into the New Year. I have some wonderful things to look forward to in 2014 and I want to be in the best health I can be to enjoy them.

I’m fed up…

no, not with life. With the constant stream of celebrities and high-profile sportsmen and women admitting to having depression. In itself this is not a bad thing, it’s just that it’s getting boring. Those of us who suffer with depression know how debilitating it is; know how it affects work and family and even with the spurt of admissions from well-known people over the past 12-18 months has anything changed?

I’m not sure. It all seems very “old hat” and repetitive. So what we need now  is for someone to highlight the next steps. What has the Government, NHS, businesses, charities, anyone done to improve treatment of depression and eliminate the stigma attached to mental illness? Undoubtedly it helps if more people talk about mental illness but someone needs to listen to the man and woman “on the street” too. Everyone who is struggling to cope under difficult circumstances not just those in the public eye.

I have particular sympathy with sportsmen and women with the ultimate in competitive personality  who don’t get the psychological support required in this day and age to cope with the extreme ups and downs of competition. That is a failing in our sporting structure that we are aeons behind other countries in looking after the mental health welfare of our sports stars but even so, they are only a small minority when considering the impact of depression on the population as a whole. Have Freddie, Stan, Brian et al had to endure a “fit to work” assessment from ATOS?  I’d be interested to know what the GB Olympic Committee have done to minimise the risk of post-Olympic depression as suffered by some after Beijing. 

I’m lucky. Having admitted to my depression 18 months ago, my employer has made mental health it’s priority for 2012 and is involved with several initiatives to try to help all employees who are debilitated by mental illness and to educate all employees in how to avoid stress-related depression. We are not perfect but we are trying. I hope that the recent revelations by the likes of Freddie and Stan lead to positive action being taken to help everyone.

Afterall I believe that this is no longer an illness suffered by the minority. It is more widespread that anyone can imagine.

Let’s DO something about it.

Hurry Down Sunshine

I have read many books about depression but I have never read such a wonderfully written, poignant and honest account of this illness which focuses on the effects of bi-polar depression on the family of the patient, Michael’s daughter Sally,  rather than the patient themselves. That is not so say that Sally, her symptoms and recovery, are overlooked, and reading this book as a parent myself, I felt every sympathy for Michael. I come from a family which has been affected by depression for generations and I live in constant fear that my 15 year old son will present symptoms at some point. I hope not, and so far so good. But how would you cope if your child went mad overnight, which is what seemingly happened to Sally Greenberg, Michael’s teenage daughter.

Michael and his family suddenly have to deal with Sally’s apparent swift descent into manic depression and her extreme highs and lows. Behaviour which they had previously thought of as typically adolescent.  This all changed when Sally was brought home by the police one evening after she had run into a busy road thinking she could stop the traffic. Sally was subsequently admitted for inpatient psychiatric care  and then come the real battles. The family experience the prejudice and the stigma towards mental illness, the heart breaking affect of the strong anti-depressant and mood stabilising drugs that Sally had to take to get her back on the road to recovery and the overwhelming feeling of guilt that they should have spotted the early signs of psychosis earlier and somehow prevented the breakdown. Frightening stuff and Michael does not shy away from the problems experienced by the whole family as they come to terms with Sally’s illness and the realisation that she will never be the same.

Although I found this book to be a positive and intimate account of  Michael’s experiences, don’t expect a happy ending. Bi-polar depression doesn’t go away overnight and the book ends with a summary of Sally’s troubled life to date which gives the reader an indication of the hard work, perseverance and self-awareness that people like Sally have to demonstrate just to lead a life. It is energy sapping just to read about it, but hopefully, this heart-warming story of survival will help people understand a little more about mental illness and it’s effect on everyone concerned and perhaps make them want to learn more.

A great read-*****

Michael and Sally talk to The Times March 2009

Depression- stigma and discrimination

 Prejudice Ignorance Fear postcard

We all know about the stigma associated with mental illness and depression. We have probably all experienced it or seen it happen. The scale of discrimination against those with mental illness is shameful. The impact of stigma and discrimination upon individuals, communities and society is devastating, so why should we care and what can we do to eradicate it?

By speaking and writing openly and honestly about my experience of depression, I want to help to educate more people about depression and its symptoms and impact on all concerned.  I want to Stop The Ignorance (and) Generate Mental-illness Awareness. I want to de-mystify this illness and correct all those myths which can lead to discrimination.

Membership form

Why should we care?

According to “Stigma Shout” produced by Time To Change, stigma and discrimination;

  • Prevents people from seeking help
  • Delays treatment
  • Impairs recovery
  • Isolates people
  • Excludes people from day-to-day activities
  • stops people getting jobs

So how can you help?

Without doubt this problem is huge and beyond the best intentions of one or two individuals. What we need is for as many people suffering with mental illness to talk about their experiences and provide first hand experience of stigma and discrimination to organisations such as Depression Alliance, Rethink, MIND, Mental Health Media and Time To Change. These organisations fight every day for a fairer deal, more respect and extra support for those with mental illness. Consider being a Time To Change Champion or Rethink Activist.

We need successful people living with depression to come forward and explain how they cope. All those people who are in recovery can stand up and give hope to everyone not quite there yet.

Let us educate and communicate with the general public, family and friends so that they better understand depression and learn to see us, not the illness.

No, it’s not easy, and not everyone reading this will be able to or want to put themselves forward to assist. That’s OK too.

T ime To Change Campaign

BBC Access All Areas-Bi-Polar and Autism “hidden” disabilities

Cllr Robert Inwood speaks out

Rethink

Take one Minute

Take one Minute is a series of pod casts devised by Colleen Henderson-Heywood especially for people seeking inspiration, motivation and support whilst coping with illness. Not only can you benefit from the films already made you can also film your own and send it to Colleen to publish as part of the series. Below you will find the first two videos as examples of what you will find on this truly inspirational site. So go on, take a peep, it will only Take one Minute.  

Epidode 1 “Better the Devil you know”

Episode 2 “Only one bad day”