from my last devastating relapse into a severe depression and how am I doing?
Quite well actually.
This time last year I was suicidal, hopeless, uncommunicative and emotionally numb. Fluctuating between tears and staring into blank space, spending 16-20 hours asleep too exhausted and uninterested to get out of bed I knew I was in trouble and with my reactions to this illness honed from previous episodes of depression I switched to auto-pilot and found myself at the GP surgery seeking help.
The good thing about recovering from bouts of depression is that you know you can do it. It gives you hope. It keeps you from buying THAT bottle of vodka which you want to mix with the Valium/Tramadol tablets stored in the drawer upstairs for just these desperate times. When asked by the Doctor if I would consider killing myself my answer is unequivocally “Yes.” Why would I want to live my life feeling (or not feeling) like this? What do I have to live for? I have failed in everything I have done. I have no skills. My husband could look after himself without me. My son is now 18 and can live independently. Who would miss me anyway?
These were hard times yet I had done so well being off my antidepressants for 18 months. But the sudden and unpredicted spiral into a major depression convinced me that it was just too hard to carry on without the support they give me. I’m not ashamed of taking them. They work for me and if they enable me to enjoy a certain quality of life, continue working and stay alive then bring them on.
Thankfully I have a great GP service. I have a Clinical psychologist who has known me for more than 20 years who understands me and my illness. They work together and come up with the best treatment for me. My medication was changed to suit my symptoms, which now include anxiety as well as depression, and the dose was adjusted until I reached a stable mood level. Sadly, I am one of the lucky ones who have this support. Everyone should have this expertise and care but the funds just are not available. This is appalling and condemns too many people to an existence that need not be.
More funding; more understanding of the complexity of mental illness; more mental health professionals; a review of the police reaction to suicide attempts and those with mental illness; respite facilities; talking therapies and counselling; regular drug reviews; support for families etc etc etc; I could go on and on but there is so much work that needs to be done in the treatment of mental illness I would be here for a year trying to explain.
We have made a great start by encouraging people to talk openly and honestly about their experiences whether good or bad. Everyone has their own experience of mental illness which should be respected. One size does not fit all but there are basic things we can all do to help those with mental illness- being kind and understanding is top of the list.