Tag Archive | Support Groups

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.

BeFunky_001.jpg

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

International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2011

We are fast approaching International Day of Persons with Disabilities recognised each year on December 3rd. The 2011 theme?

“Together for a better world for all: Including persons with disabilities in development”

A great committment for sure but I prefer something a bit more simple and closer to home so for 3rd December 2011 I am going to pull together some inspiring stories and artwork (photos, paintings, crafts, musings) from some very talented people who suffer with mental illness and collate them in a celebration of our combined and extensive ABILITY.

This is assuming of course that we think that depression and other forms of mental illness are disabilities and we consider ourselves disabled.  It would seem that the majority of people surveyed in research carried out by the Depression Alliance and RADAR during 2009/10 thought that depression is a disability and are prepared to badge themselves as disabled in order to tap into a number of resources only available to the disabled community.

And what do I hope to achieve by showcasing this talent produced by the “mentally disabled?”

  • Mental illness should not be a barrier to achievement and success.
  • With encouragement and support we can live normal lives and recover to hold down jobs, look after our families and enjoy ourselves.
  • We are resilient and loyal
  • We are exceptionally talented and we should exhibit this talent freely.

I know lots and lots of very talented people across all spheres who have mental illness of one type or another so I may have to dedicate all my posts during December to this cause. I will enjoy doing that and I will be in touch with you soon…….

Big Ben on a winter evening - Drawings - Gallery

Big Ben on a winter’s evening-by Stephen Wiltshire

Day by day

Showing people that having bouts of depression is nothing to be ashamed of, alarmed at or permanently debilitating gives me great satisfaction and, although I could do better myself by following my advice, I’m still here and living life as best I can.

Depression is something that many of us have to live with and coping on a day by day basis is the only way forward. It is difficult to plan when you see no future or have no energy to spend beyond getting past the next milestone. But we must all remember that depression is only one part of our make-up and does not need to define who we are on a daily basis.

 I have been very lucky to have received psychological support and guidance from a highly qualified and experienced practitioner and I have benefited enormously from his expertise. However, despite all the clinical diagnoses and treatment, the medication and science, his mantra for depression is and always has been; ” The best cure for depression is how you live your life”.

If any one of us can inspire and encourage those suffering with depression to start living their life again, do things they enjoy and engage with family and friends so that the “cure” can begin, then we should do so and take great pride in that. I am  thrilled therefore to introduce a new Blog to the world of WordPress which was born this week! Day by Day is a very personal account of one person’s struggle with depression and her attempts to overcome its influence on her life. I have known Sue for only a short time but already she is showing the positive signs of someone determined to beat depression once and for all. Good for her and may her Blog inspire many others to do the same.

9000 and counting….

Even with a bit of a break over the summer, I am amazed to notice that more that 9,000 views are registered against my posts since the Blog’s inception last November. The competitor in me hopes that I will make the 10,000 mark by the end of October as it seems a nice round number but honestly, something I never in my wildest dreams expected was such a loyal readership when I started on my journey.

I know that some people get millions of hits (Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor stats) for their blog posts but I am so grateful and proud of everyone who has taken time to read my efforts. It is very humbling and I only hope that in some small way I can help others open up and talk about their depression without fear of stigma and discrimination. The latest stats about mental illness is that 1 in 4 of us will suffer during our lifetime.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that in the next 20 years depression will become the most common cause of ill-health worldwide, overtaking heart disease. We need to be able to recognise symptoms early to improve the speed and chance of recovery and we can only do this if we raise awareness by talking about it.

I’m doing my bit 🙂

No elephants at our picnic!

The topic of  depression can often be the ultimate “elephant in the room“. When depression is mentioned or revealed people often react by looking at their feet, up at the ceiling, anywhere but looking you in the eye and instead resort to shuffling their feet in embarrassment and fear of what to say in response. A rampaging elephant on heat in the room would be more welcome.

Whilst the reaction I have received over the last 12 months to my admission that I have depression has been nothing but supportive and positive, I recognise the “elephant” syndrome from previous experiences.

So how joyous was it yesterday to meet up with fellow Depression Alliance members, depression sufferers, friends, Samaritan volunteers and representatives from MIND for a picnic and to be able to talk openly and honestly about our personal experiences of depression with our “tribe”. It was fantastic and we should do it more often.

If only we can get more people to talk about depression, accept it as an illness like any other, realise that those who get depression are usually the nicest people around and the most dedicated to their work, and that one day we will surely be part of the  majority not the minority so be nice to us NOW! we will have done a good job by educating those who are lucky enough not to have the Black Dog sitting on their shoulder.

In the meantime, picnics like this, social gatherings arranged for like-minded people and their families are the perfect way to embrace this illness and get real support from those who understand.

Picnic now! It’s fun, therapeutic, an opportunity to soak up the rays and boost those Vitamin D levels and to eat healthy summer salads and fruit. If you do what we did and play rounders and indulge in Space Hopper racing, you can also get some exercise too and boost the much-needed endorphines!

What’s stopping you? Picnic this weekend and you will feel better for it!

  

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Picnic