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Posts Tagged ‘hope

Reviewing 2010…

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So everyone seems to be doing the New Years meme. I used to do this years ago back in the days when I wrote on Livejournal and I’ve copied the questions directly from the last time I did it on there (2007), so if it is different to the version everyone else in the madosphere has done, then that will be why. It is a bit weird to see these questions again.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?:

Take Reboxetine, Go InterRailing, Learn to Knit.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?:

I don’t usually make any and I can’t remember if I did last year. It seems unlikely because I was planning to kill myself on 7th January and any more resolutions would have been pointless. I tried and failed at that one.

This year, I haven’t set any firm resolutions, but most of my hopes evolve around recovery. I hope to get back to work full time and stay out of hospital.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?:

Not that I’m aware of!

4. Did anyone close to you die?:

Thankfully not.

5. What countries did you visit?:

Oo. I went InterRailing so I have visited a few this year! I passed through France and visited Belgium, Germany, Poland and Austria.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?:

Proper recovery – I started to recover in 2010, but there’s still a long way to go. I want my life back.

I also want to move house, so a new home is pretty high on my list.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?:

I don’t tend to remember dates very well and the only date that really comes to mind is the 7th Jan for the reason mentioned in answer to question 2.

I think the 29th July was the day that I set off for Europe, so that’s a good one too.

The week beginning the 15th November also sticks in my mind, as it was the week I started my phased return to work.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?:

Travelling around Europe for a couple of weeks on my own and getting back to work, albeit for only a few hours a week.

9. What was your biggest failure?:

I’m not sure it is a good thing that the first thing that comes to mind is my failed suicide attempt. Definitely a failure, but whether that is a good or a bad thing is up to debate depending on my mood.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?:

Mental illness never really goes away. I also battled with side-effects and tummy troubles a lot. My jaw has continued to be a problem too – I have a visit to the Dental Hospital on Monday to see the Temporomandibular Joint specialist. I had a common cold over New Years at both the start of 2010 and 2011 too.

11. What was the best thing you bought?:

Either my InterRail pass or Glastonbury Tickets. My prescription pre-payment certificate should probably be considered too.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?:

Nikki dog’s behaviour merits celebration and reprehension on a daily basis!

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?:

Occasionally The Bloke’s, but like Nikki, he can merit celebration too.

Dr M made me pretty appalled at the start of the year, but I don’t mind her so much these days. I may even confess to liking her!

14. Where did most of your money go?:

The usual – rent, food etc. The dog spends a lot of it too!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?:

I don’t tend to get really excited about anything when I’m feeling low. I was quite excited about the InterRail trip, although it was such a spur-of-the-moment thing that I didn’t have much time to get excited about it beforehand. I was quite excited about Glastonbury this year too – I actually felt able to enjoy it!

16. What songs will always remind you of 2010?:

Regina Spektor – Laughing With
Lady Gaga – Just Dance – especially reminds me of watching Dancing on Ice in hospital last January.
Laura Marling – Goodbye England (covered in snow)
The XX – Intro – reminds me of the General Election coverage on the BBC mainly, but also of the start of their set at Glasto.
Marina & The Diamonds – Obsessions – and pretty much the whole album really. She was great live too.
KT Tunstall – Weirdo – and again the whole album and seeing her live.
Miike Snow – Animal – reminds me of InterRailing. They played it a lot in the hostel in Krakow.
Ellie Goulding – Your Song – and again pretty much her whole album.

It has been a good year for music. I’ve certainly listened to a lot more this year.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i) …happier or sadder?: I’m a million times happier than this time last year. I was on a psych ward having just failed to kill myself, so not exactly at my happiest! Compared to 6 months ago though I’d be sadder.
ii) thinner or fatter?: A lot thinner. I’ve lost over 3 stone since I came out of hospital last February.
iii) richer or poorer?: About the same I think.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?:

Working, writing, knitting, swimming, seeing friends… Lots of things really.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?:

Feeling sick, lying in bed with no motivation, seeing doctors and generally everything related to being ill. Arguing with the bloke comes a close second.

20. How will/did you spend Christmas?:

We spent it in Wolverhampton with the Bloke’s mum and sister. His aunt, uncle and cousin also came over for Christmas dinner. I saw my parents on 27th Dec and a load of friends came around for a big Christmas Dinner on 28th.

21. Has there ever been a question 21?!?

22. Did you fall in love in 2010?:

Nope. Not with anyone or anything new.

23. How many one night stands?:

Again none. A somewhat laughable question for me I think.

24. What were your favourite TV programmes?:

I’ve watched quite a lot of telly in the past year. I love Only Connect – a fiendishly hard quiz, although I have gotten more used to it over the years and it doesn’t seem quite as hard as it used to be.

I enjoyed Sky1’s Must be The Music – it’s a blatant rip off of all TV talent shows, only the people involved had raw talent, write their own stuff and there is no stupid false drama involved. Dizzee Rascal, Sharleen Spiteri and Jamie Cullum judged it and were really good too. The girl that won – Emma’s Imagination was amazing.

I enjoyed Single Father, Lip Service, Mad Men and various other things this year too.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?:

No, not really. I don’t tend to “hate” anyone. I try to avoid people I don’t like.

26. What was the best book you read?:

I read a lot more in the summer than I had in the past few years, but it has tailed off again since autumn. I read 1984 for the first time (ridiculous I know) which was awesome. I enjoyed the Stieg Larsson books (me and everyone else, then!). A Woman in Berlin was interesting too – I picked it up in the airport at Krakow and it was weird to read it only a few days after being in Berlin.

27. What were your greatest musical discoveries?:

I have listened to a lot more music than in the last few years, but I’m not sure how many of those things were new discoveries as such. I’ve enjoyed a lot of female pop and singer/songwriters this year – Ellie Goulding, Marina & The Diamonds, Laura Marling, KT Tunstall, Little Boots, Regina Spektor – although the latter few are hardly new discoveries.

28. What did you want and get?:

I guess some improvement to my mental health is the obvious thing. Getting my drivers license back is pretty good too.

29. What did you want and not get?:

A magic wand? I try not to want too much so I don’t get disappointed.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?:

I saw quite a lot of good films this year. I probably enjoyed Scott Pilgrim most. The Girl who kicked the Hornets Nest was good although I didn’t think The Girl who Played with Fire lived up to my expectations set by the book or the first film. Kick Ass, Toy Story 3 and Winters Bone are also contenders.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?:

I was 24 this year. I had only just come out of hospital. A few of my friends and two of my aunts who live locally all went out for a meal. It was really tasty.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?:

Mental Stability? – I’m surprised that this was part of my answer in 2007, which was long before I was diagnosed with any mentalism. It seems strange to me that at the end of what was a great year, I was still wishing I’d been a bit more stable and spent less time feeling low. I guess I’d somewhat forgotten that I was hardly stable before things fell apart in 2008.

I do think that being more stable and less depressed would have helped, but at least 2010 was an improvement on 200

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?:

I am not sure I do fashion concepts. I tend to wear jeans and some form of longish top or dresses over leggings/bright coloured tights. Now I’m back at work a bit I’m definitely leaning towards the tailored dress look. My suits don’t fit properly any more – too big!

34. What kept you sane?:

I think what sanity I have can be mainly put it down to one thing – Reboxetine (plus Lamotrigine perhaps – I wonder what effect taking Reboxetine on its own would have).

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?:

This always seems like a bit of a silly question to me. I don’t tend to be attracted to celebrities because I tend to need to get to know someone before they become attractive.

I also have a pretty pathetic sex drive these days.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?:

I’ve tended to try and keep a distance from most political arguments of late, mainly because the amount of mindless Tory-bashing has wound me up quite a lot this year and a lot of my friends are raving lefties. I am neither a tory, nor a lefty, but I am getting fed up of the way that people seem to choose opposition for oppositions sake, rather than looking at what is right or wrong about a policy.

I do care a lot about welfare reform and the NHS, but I’m not opposed to changes in the system in the way that some people are. I think we have to face up to the fact that the current systems don’t work and something has to be done.

37. Who did you miss?:

I miss a lot of old friends. I have lost touch with quite a lot of people over the last few years and I’m not as close to others as I used to be. A lot of my uni friends have moved away since we graduated too, so although we still see them occasionally, it’s not the same any more.

38. Who were the ‘best’ new people you met?:

I’ve met some great new friends locally over the past year or so, but I probably couldn’t think of any one person.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:

Things can get better and depression may not last forever, yet recovery is not a smooth process either.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

I can’t think of one in particular, especially as my year has been up and down. I may come back to this. I’m sure something will come to mind as I’m listening to music sometime this week.

Actually.. I heard You Say Party – There is XXXX (within my heart) the other day and those lyrics fit my mood over the last month or so.

When the morning comes
And the darkness presses on all sides
When the morning comes
I’ll have to fight

I will have a think to see if I can come up with anything more accurate.

_________________

So there we go. Another year, another meme. 2010 hasn’t been all that bad, although it started terribly and went down hill again a little during the last few months. 2011 hasn’t started too badly aside from the terrible cold over New Years, so fingers crossed it will be a good year.

A proper post is on its way. I am trying to get it written. Lots happening at the moment though and I can’t keep up!

Other things…

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Aside from the therapy assessment, there is a whole host of other things that I want to write about. I don’t really know where to start, but I’m going to have a go, because I think it may help me to get some of these thoughts down at last.

I need to start giving myself some more time. I’ve taken a twitter hiatus lately to try and free up some time, but it doesn’t seem to have made any difference. If I was spending an hour a day or whatever (probably more like 3 if I’m honest!) on twitter, I want to know why I don’t have an extra hour spare each day?

I am not sure if I prefer to have twitter in my life or not. Leaving twitter should at least reduce the number of arguments with the bloke – twitter is quite often the trigger for them, but whether or not it really has remains to be seen. He will probably just find something else to criticise. If he gets to win the argument on twitter, he will go back to trying to get me to completely stop blogging as well.

It should in theory give me more time to do other things, but I don’t think it has made much difference. It is very much true that whatever you have to do, will always expand itself to fill however much time you have to do it in. It is the same in that I haven’t worked for 2 years, yet I seem to have filled my time with other things. I don’t quite know how I would squeeze work back into my life, although I’d work out how to somehow I guess.

I do feel like I’ve lost something without twitter. It gave me two things. A feed of interesting information about the world in general and a more personal support group from the madosphere. I am missing both of these for different reasons.

The lack of general stuff leaves me feeling just a little bit behind. Twitter is great in that it can keep you up to date with things, real time. I have to go to more effort to find out things and to keep on top of the latest goings on. If a band that I follow releases tour dates, they will usually tweet about it. Now I have to wait until I spot them on some listings or on their website. If someone posts a news story about something I’m interested in, chances are I’d see a link to it on twitter pretty quickly. I am having to pay more attention on BBC News to spot things of interest. I guess I can do without this info, but when you are used to having it fed to you all the time, it is weird to go back to having to look for it. Twitter is certainly convenient. You can pretty much find anything on there if you wanted.

I am missing the support group side of things too. I feel that by stepping away I am neglecting people and I really don’t want to do that. I hope that people don’t take my hiatus to mean I am not interested in them or don’t care about them any more. It is not about that at all. I feel like I am letting people down by not being there all the time. Of course I miss receiving the support of my twitter friends too. It is nice to know that there is nearly always someone out there to talk to if you feel like it. It makes the world a little less lonely.

I do miss it, but a lot less than I thought I would to be honest. I can live without it, which maybe surprises me a little. It is convenient though

I don’t know if I will go back, stay away longer or perhaps just change how I use it. Maybe I will go private for a bit? I don’t know. If you are waiting for me to go back though, don’t hold your breath.

I didn’t start out with this post to write about my twitter hiatus, but there we go. It was something I wanted to explain on my twitter feed, but hardly possible with 140 characters. At least by saying it here, I can feel like I haven’t gone without explaining myself.

_______

So what else is there?

Physically, I am struggling. I have been suffering with persistent “tummy trouble” and irritable bowel issues lately. It has been there for months now. I was too embarrassed to say much at first (no one really wants to share their toilet habits do they?) and I thought it would improve, but it just got worse and worse and has been making things pretty rough. Constipation, diarrhoea, both, often with urgency, occasional vomiting, frequent nausea, awful tummy cramps that rival the worst period pain, chest tightness/pain, bloating and lack of appetite… None of which are particularly fun and when it all happens at once it makes you feel pretty awful.

Dr N and I are both pretty sure it is the Reboxetine to blame. I saw the locum last week as Dr N has been on holiday for a few weeks. He got me to have a collection of blood tests to see if there was anything else to explain things, but they didn’t bring anything up. I phoned up for the results on Tuesday and the receptionist reeled off a long list of the ones that were clear, but said I should come in to see the doctor about my liver results. I had a suspicion that this would happen, as it has done in the past. Apparently, one of my liver hormone levels is slightly higher than it should be, but it has been for some time and it is actually a little better than it was earlier this year. The other doctor probably wasn’t aware of this, so wanted me to see a doctor, but Dr N wasn’t worried about it. He did tell me that I should really keep any drinking to a minimum though, as my liver will struggle with any heavy drinking. I don’t tend to drink very often or very much anyway, so this isn’t so much of a worry, but it is a little concerning if I am going to be taking this medication in the long-term. Dr N thinks it will go back to normal if/when I stop taking the Reboxetine and joked that I can hit the booze then, whilst chastising himself for being a bad doctor for saying so. I don’t relish the thought that my liver results make me look like an alcoholic though. It is probably worth trying to be careful for the time being, I guess.

When I last saw Dr N about 6 weeks ago or something, he started me on alverine citrate as an antispasmodic, but so far it hasn’t helped all that much. I am having a few less of the sudden desperate trips to the loo, but still struggling with the pain and diarrhoea/constipation a lot. Today, he’s decided to double the dose, so fingers crossed it will have some impact. I am not sure I can carry on with these kind of problems for much longer. How anyone survives a life of IBS, I have no idea. Hopefully for me this will be temporary and I guess if it is caused by the Reboxetine there is always the option of stopping the meds, but I am not sure I like that idea.

The only good thing about all of this is that I have lost quite a bit of weight. Although that possibly isn’t such a good sign for my health. I put on a stupid amount of weight at the start of this year. Considering I wasn’t eating that much because the food was disgusting, I think I put on about a stone whilst I was in hospital in January and that continued when I came out. I don’t actually know heavy I got, because I stopped getting on the scales when it went over a certain number. I have pretty much always been overweight, although it probably bothers me a lot less than it should do considering my weight is not good for my health. However, over the last 6 months my appetite has disappeared and the weight has been falling off, without much effort at all. I have been more active over the summer, especially when I was travelling, but I think the loss of appetite has made the biggest difference. I often feel too ill to eat and most of the time I could quite easily go all day without eating anything. I am fed, because the bloke does virtually all of the cooking, but if he wasn’t around I’d live on the occasional bit of toast or the odd crumpet. I have lost all of what I put on earlier this year and more. My weight has yo-yoed a lot, but I am now somewhere near the lowest weight I have been since I was about 17. Admittedly, I am still many stone overweight, but I have lost over two stone and getting on for three. My clothes which had all got too small are now all too big. I am fed up of having nothing which fits properly, but I don’t really want to spend too much on new clothes if my weight is still changing. I have cleared a lot of stuff out, but I am reluctant to get rid of stuff in case I put the weight back on. We shall see.

Unfortunately, the way I am feeling physically hasn’t been helping my mood at all. In general, my mood has been dropping off over the last couple months. I felt a lot better during the earlier half of the summer than I did in the latter half and I felt a lot better 8 weeks ago than I do at the moment. At first, there were just a few warning signs and I did my best to ignore them. Whenever I noticed them and started to worry, I tried to stop myself because I didn’t want it to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. Worry that I was getting worse, so I got worse. Unfortunately, that strategy doesn’t seem to have helped much, as my mood seems to have dropped regardless.

I haven’t wanted to tell anyone that I am not feeling so good. I am disappointed that my recovery has stalled and almost feel ashamed. I wanted this time to be the time where I get well and stay well. Instead it’s a return to the old “one step forward, two steps back”. I am worried that if I am getting depressed again, then maybe I am to blame for it all. I wish I had made more of the time when I was well, because I don’t think I really appreciated how much better and easier things were.

I hadn’t wanted to write about it here, because I was worried about what the bloke would think, but he had noticed the drop in my mood, despite my best effort to carry on and pretend that nothing had changed. I didn’t and still don’t want to worry him. I do not want to go back to how things were when I was really ill.

I wasn’t sure I was going to tell Dr N today, but he knows me too well now and I think he could tell before I even said anything. I was there about the tummy trouble, but he asked me about my mood and I couldn’t tell him that all was fine. He seemed sad and a little concerned, but he was reassuring too. I think I feel a little better now that I am not hiding it so much.

Thankfully, although things have dropped off, they are still better than they were a year ago or back in January. Most of the time they are still a lot, lot better, but I’ve been having some bad days. Last Wednesday was really rough. I felt truly awful all day. Cried on and off for most of it and at one point instead of sorting out the huge mountain of washing I’d put on the bed, I just lay down next to it and crawled under the covers for a while so I didn’t have to face it. I pretty much cried myself to sleep, but then woke up in a panic that I had less time to get everything done. We had guests around for dinner that evening and the house was a mess, so there was plenty to do.

Unlike usually when I have been depressed, I am not especially suicidal. The thoughts come and go, but it is not like before. I was chronically and painfully suicidal for so long, I thought it would never go away, but it did. Over the summer, I stopped wanting to kill myself. I had started to see the point in life and recognised that I could have a future where I didn’t feel at mercy to my moods or awful all the time. Thankfully, despite the fact I have felt pretty low at times, the suicidal ideation hasn’t come back with such ferocity. I think I have retained the hope that I can be well again. I had lost that before, but Reboxetine has given me that back. I thought I was always going to feel so depressed that I didn’t see any point in life. There are times when I feel like that again. When I think about relapse, I get so frustrated that again I am going backwards. This makes me feel pretty hopeless and I wonder what all the point is. I sometimes just want to throw in the towel and give up, but I am resisting. Occasionally, I do want to die. A lot of the time I don’t really care if I live. Even when I have been well, that hasn’t really completely gone away, but I am managing. The thoughts pass and for now I can handle them. Hopefully, it will stay that way.

I told Dr N today that I do think there is something in the seasons. He has asked me in the spring when I started to feel better if I thought there was and I said I didn’t know. When the Reboxetine showed the first signs of helping earlier this year, it was at the same time as the weather improved, so we weren’t sure if it was one or the other or both. Often my worst times have actually been in Spring, when most people are starting to feel better. However, I think about it now and I think the seasons do have some form of effect. My mood has definitely dropped in September/October for the last three years. Last summer I was better than I had been during the rest of the year (although still much, much worse than I was this year), but things went downhill from September. The year before was generally awful from June onwards, but it wasn’t until September that things completely fell apart and I first ended up in The Priory in October ’08. I used to struggle in October whilst I was at school too, but I always put that down to an increased workload and the fact it was usually a time for deadlines and the ramping up of rehearsals for Christmas concerts and the like. So maybe there is something in it? I don’t know. I just hope that January/February 2011 isn’t as bad as 2009 or 2010.

Anyway, I see Dr M on Monday. Dr N told me to mention the seasonal thing. He said it is worth knowing and perhaps we should be aware of the rough cycle of my moods as it may help us pre-empt things. I have tried to be aware in the past, but it is hard when you often forget how you have felt before, even when you try and keep track.

He said that she may choose to raise the Reboxetine, but he is worried about the side effects. I had of course thought of this too. I considered doing it myself, but thought I had better see what she said first. I am worried about the side effects too. Things are so bad on that front, that it may not be wise. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem, because the side effects are making my mood worse, but to counteract that drop in mood, I will probably have to make the side effects worse. I don’t know what is worst. It’s a hard balance to strike. I don’t think I can tolerate the side effects getting any worse unfortunately. They are trying my patience enough as they are. I had hoped that when I was settled on these meds, the side effects would subside and although some of them have done, the tummy troubles just seem to get worse.

Anyway. I have written enough for now. This is a long post and I must try and get to bed. I have been waiting for the bloke to come home from playing computer games with friends, but he is not back yet.

The ECT Experience…

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Whilst I was having ECT I never really wrote about it. I was in hospital with only mobile access to the Internet. I was exhausted, often in pain and not really in the mood for writing. Recently though I’ve been inspired by this blog and Seaneen’s appeal for ECT info to document my experience. I’m worried that if I don’t do it now, I’ll forget what happened all together.

Ultimately my experience with ECT was a failure. I had 11 treatments, some unilateral and some bilateral. I barely responded at all and in the end we gave up.

ECT was seen as the last resort. I was about as severely depressed as you can get and no one knew what else to do. I wasn’t sure about having it, but at the time I wrote that anything was worth a try. I think I was so depressed I didn’t really care what happened to me. I know I secretly wished it would go horribly wrong, so overwhelming were the thoughts about death.

I went into the treatment with a smidgen of hope as at least we were trying something. I felt little, but I knew my family wanted it to work. We had to believe it would work, as the alternative was too horrible to comprehend. Other patients at The Priory had been through ECT and come out the other end much improved. ECT had been lifesaving for them and I hoped it would be the same for me.

The procedure was a lot less scary than I had feared. We were woken early by the nurses, our blood pressure and temperature taken, then we were bundled into a taxi with the nurses over to Cheadle Royal. The Priory doesn’t have an ECT suite any more, so treatments were taken there.

There was a waiting room, where we’d sit waiting our turn. There was usually three or four of us being treated at the same time. Three from The Priory and a day patient from elsewhere. Eventually we’d be called into a prep room, where a girl would wash our forehead and neck and attach EEG stickers. Next we entered the treatment room. We’d climb onto a bed and Dr Shock would ask us how we felt. We would be attached to the monitors and then the anaesthetist would take my hand and try to insert a cannula.  This was where it got difficult to me. My veins are small and deep and finding one proved near impossible at times. Multiple attempts, hands like colanders and a number of bent needles later and we would be ready to go. After a few treatments like this, the anaesthetist ordered some microwave lavender bags, which I’d be given to warm my hands. ECT quickly became associated with the smell of lavender.

I’d never had a general anaesthetic before my first treatment and I didn’t know how I’d feel. I soon got used to the feeling. Twice a week for nearly 6 weeks, you have little choice. The liquid would ooze into my veins. I could feel the cold liquid flowing in my hand and then I’d drift off into a blissful sleep. When I was ill I’ve never had any other sleep as nice as that. Next thing I knew I was in the recovery area, oblivious to what went on whilst I was asleep.

Throughout my treatment and since, I’ve always been curious to see what happens in between those moments. I often wondered about asking if I could watch someone else go first, but was certain I’d be turned down. I know they apply a current to my brain and I have a fit, but what does it actually look like? Who does what?

A few times I awoke covered in blood. The cannula would slip out during the fit and I’d be left with a red tshirt. The first time it was a bit of a shock and slightly scary, but once I knew what had happened it was okay.

As we woke up, our vitals were taken regularly. Each of us would have a nurse, who would keep a close eye on us, administering pain relief if required. It was always required. An hour after our treatment we would be allowed up and given tea and toast, or water and toast in my case. Then we were bundled back into the taxi and taken back to the ward, where we usually went straight to bed.

At the time, the side effects weren’t so bad. I usually had a thumping headache, more so after the bilateral treatments. Sometimes I would ache all over. My jaw was often painful. My appetite was normally dodgy and I felt queasy from the anaesthetic. My memory seemed to be pretty much in tact. I’d written all my passwords and things down before I went, but I don’t think I ever needed to refer back.

I didn’t really mind the treatments, but I was frustrated at the lack of response. The night before each treatment we’d be given the BDI and would tick the boxes and I couldn’t see any improvement. I know my scores did improve a little, but one or two points is nothing when it is scored out of 60-something and the miracle I was hoping for never materialised. There were a couple of days after one of the early sessions where I became quite hyper and agitated for a short while, but that didn’t last either and could have been down to something else.

One of the others having ECT with me improved fairly rapidly, which was great news for her, but I remember feeling a little jealous. She was discharged from hospital before I’d even finished the treatment, although I think she had a couple of sessions whilst she was an outpatient. The other person improved gradually, but she did improve. She would have a boost for the first day or two after the treatment and the improvement would ebb away, but over time it seemed to ebb away a little slower. ECT definitely helped her to get better, although I don’t know how she is these days. I seemed to stay the same regardless. ECT wasn’t working for me.

Dr Shock would ask me each time how I felt and I never knew what to say. She would tell me I looked brighter, but it felt like she was only saying that to convince herself it was doing some good, not because she really believed it.

Towards the end, I knew we were running out of steam. I could see the medics were giving up. When the decision was finally made I wasn’t surprised but I was disappointed. I felt like a failure and I felt annoyed that it hadn’t worked. It was meant to be the cure and it failed. I felt like I should have tried harder to make it work. I worried it was my fault and that everyone thought it was my fault and that I just didn’t want to get better.

There is something to be said for it. It may not have actually lifted me out of my depression, but I think it did help keep me safe whilst I was at my worst. I suspect my insurance wouldn’t have renewed the funding if I didn’t need to be kept in hospital to have the ECT and at least whilst I was having the treatment I was often too exhausted and unwell to act upon the suicidal thoughts that were so strong at the time. Maybe if I wasn’t being told to wait and see if it worked, then perhaps I’d have been more determined to kill myself. I don’t know. I guess you never can know. Maybe I’d have been even worse if I hadn’t have had it, although I don’t know how much lower I could have got.

After the failure, came the assessment from Dr P and the diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder. It was suggested that my lack of response to “traditional methods of treating depression”, showed that I wasn’t suffering from “straight” depression. I had suspected that for a long while before, but I don’t know why it took ECT to decide this as I know ECT can be used to treat Bipolar Disorder too. I am grateful for the ECT for accelerating this diagnosis, but it seems an awful lot to go through just to get another assessment.

The long term effects of ECT have only been showing themselves over the last few months. I didn’t think the memory loss was significant, but as you go through life there are reminders of what is missing. People mention things that happened and I have no recollection of them at all. Silly things like ordering a meal in a restaurant commenting that “I’ve not had this before”, only to be told that I did back in April when I went there with my parents. Not only had I forgotten my order, but I’d forgotten I’d even been there with my parents.

It’s not just from the treatment period either, but before too. A lot of last year has disappeared and I only have my blog and my family’s memories to remind me. Distant memories that were once clear are now fuzzy or gone completely. I have lost a lot more than I’d realised at first. They say that the memories will come back with time, but I seem to be forgetting more, not less. I don’t know if it’s just because as time goes on I find out about more of what is missing.

I don’t think my short term memory is that bad. I am forgetful, but I’ve always been a little. For most people it is the short term memory that is worst, but I seem to have got off fairly lightly on that front. I guess this is something.

I’ve alluded to this at other times, but I think ECT has had an effect on my thinking ability too. It’s hard to know for certain, as depression can stunt your cognitive abilities too, but I am not as sharp as I used to be. My partner often says that I’m slow. I am not very quick on the uptake at times. I find it harder to think and harder to solve problems. My arithmetic seems worse than before.My concentration is poor. Even when I’ve been a little high, I don’t feel as capable as I did before. Things I used to find easy can be a challenge. I feel like I’m a little blunted. I pride myself on my intelligence, yet I don’t feel as bright. I wonder if I’ll ever regain what I used to have and if this will improve.

Along with the memory and cognitive effects, there is a physical side effect. The right-hand side of my jaw has been problematic ever since. It locks and it grinds. Sometimes I can’t open my mouth at all. Other times I get shooting pain right through the side of my head, where my jaw is stuck or out of place. I don’t know if there is a solution, but I suspect I will be stuck with this for ever now. It may not be anything major, but it can hurt and is annoying.

I don’t think I’d mind these effects at all if ECT had worked. If I was now stable and free of depression these issues would be worth it. It’s just that for it all to be in vain, it seems a lot to go through for no gain.

I am still disappointed. ECT had been that final resort and was something I could hold in my mind as a possibility for change. For me, I always need to know that there is another option and this was just another one that we have exhausted. When I have run out of options then I will really give up. I don’t think I’d go through it again, even though for some it can work a second time when it had not the first.

All that said, even though ECT didn’t work for me, I still wouldn’t discourage people from trying it. You have to weigh up the potential benefit with the possible effects, but if it works, I think it is worth it. It is usually only used when all else has failed and in that case what else do you have to lose? I have seen it work for others, I am just jealous it didn’t for me.

Urgh…

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I feel awful. I don’t know why, but my mood has dropped like a stone.

I saw Dr G this afternoon. I didn’t really know what to say to her. I just said that my week had been “more of the same”, but she tried to probe further and wanted me to tell her how I actually felt. For some reason I didn’t feel able to. I was just vague and didn’t know how to explain things. She asked me about my suicidality. All the way there I’d been thinking about how I could still do it at any point if the opportunity presented itself. Suicide was on my mind. Yet when asked, I played things down. I said that the thoughts were still there, but that some of the time they aren’t as strong as they have been. I said that, when only a few minutes before seeing her they were as loud as ever.

I think most people would be surprised at my suicidality, even now. I suspect that most people think I wouldn’t do it now as I’ve managed to resist for so long. I suspect that most people think things are improving and I am on the way to recovery. The reality is though I am kept safe and if I wasn’t, I’d be long gone.

In some ways maybe I am on the way to recovery. Lamotrigine has been the first medication to not make me worse, and maybe with time it will make things better. My concentration has improved a little and I’ve started to read again, something I wondered if I’d ever do again. I am usually not grappling with the most extremes of my mood any more, although I still have my moments. There are enough encouraging signs to give Dr G and others some hope.

The problem is it is not enough and I still feel hopeless. In many ways I’m still as ill as ever. I could give up on these signs of recovery at any point. I could and probably would end it all given the chance. It may not work and then I’d be back to where I was last February, but I’m certainly willing to take that risk. I don’t care that I may get better. At the moment things aren’t good enough to want to survive.

I am still not sleeping – rarely getting more than a few hours. Dr G has decided that it’s worth trying Melatonin (Circadin). I need to see Dr N to get the script. I hope it helps. Anything is worth a try.

We also talked about how we are going to manage things until I see the NHS. I will continue to see Dr G for now, but I will probably have to be passed over following my appointment with Dr B (or her team) in September (if I make it that far :S). Something I am not overly keen on.

I wish all this could be over. *sigh*

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 12th August 2009 at 5:31 pm

Post-Holiday Blacks…

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I’m not really sure post-holiday blues is strong enough to describe my mood since returning from my holiday. I feel dark. Black almost. I am miserable and longing. I am missing so much of what I felt last week. I miss the relief of the holiday. The break it gave me from myself. I feel as if every ounce of happiness and hope that I had squeezed out of myself was left on the runway in Finland. I want to go back there and grab hold of it and not let go.

I did not want to come back from my holiday. I knew I wouldn’t. That was why I didn’t want to go either. I knew it would just highlight my frustration with life. Before my holiday, I was apprehensive about coming back and struggling with post-holiday blues. I didn’t want it to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I fear there was little I could have done to have prevented that.

My longing for my holiday suggests the whole trip was easy and happy. Sadly this isn’t even true. I did not spend the entire holiday happy and carefree. I was very low at the start and struggling with motivation and concentration. My mind was elsewhere a lot of the time and it was an acute reminder that it didn’t matter where I was, I was still ill and I took that illness with me. I was suicidal for some of my trip and was frustrated that I was in a strange place with no idea of how to establish either the means or some support and had a mind that was internally battling between these two means of action. I knew I should have said something to my bloke or some of the many medics who were staying with us, but as is the way, I couldn’t and it passed. I survived though and being away made it easier than normal.

It was a good week. Despite the rocky moments, it was still better than being at home. I could be normal for the week. I still had my meds to take and I wasn’t drinking, but I didn’t have to think about therapy or psychiatrists or The Priory. I could enjoy myself and let go a little. I was in a beautiful place, seeing beautiful things, meeting some lovely and interesting people and I was the same as everyone else there. There were distractions and I could put things to the back of my mind. I could forget about things and just enjoy living in the moment.

Now that I am home though, the contrast between last week and this is marked. The relief was part of the holiday mood. Everyone was buoyant and carefree. It was a holiday and it was short-lived. Now that I am back, I am searching for more moments like this and I do not know where they will come from. I am back to the monotony of life. I am back to my life and my reality and it feels like I’ve come down with a bump. I do not want to be back. I want a break from my head and my thoughts. I want a break from this depression.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been looking forward to this holiday, using it as a milestone to reach. It was something to survive for and something to live for. I do not know what is next. I feel lost now. Where is the motivation to keep going? Where can I find it?

How do you get over this and move forward when all you want to do is give up?

Hope or Hopeless?

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Reading back over my last post, I’m struck by the hopefulness of it. I didn’t think I felt especially hopeful when I was writing it, but that is the sense I feel looking back. At the time, I thought I was going through the motions, self-censoring my words to make it seem like I was hopeful. I had it in my mind that I would not return from London. I had it in my mind that I had to present that I was okay and going to be safe down there for my partner’s sake, but deep down knew I’d be battling against the safety measures that I had put in place.

As you can see, I have returned from London, so maybe my hopefulness was genuine? Maybe I realised that I would overcome my suicidal wishes and survive the weekend? I don’t know. My hope is as fleeting as my moods.

It was touch and go at times. On Sunday night, I genuinely thought I would not return. I had a clear plan in mind and was preparing myself for it. I was on the edge. I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to die. I got scared by my mind and the clarity of it and forced myself to take double sleepers to knock myself out. I think they worked. By morning, I woke feeling less certain of my plan and keen to get home. I felt mildly optimistic and even, dare I say it, happy?

How can one’s perspective on things change so quickly? I don’t know if I am coming or going. I don’t know if I am full of hope or hopeless.

My weekend, overall, was good. My mood was unstable, as is the usual, but I did enjoy Saturday night. Lots of alcohol and lots of dancing and I was okay. Moments of withdrawal and sadness descended if I stopped to breathe, but I kept them at bay with a relentless performance of “coping”. I tried to live in the moment, something we are continually preached about at The Priory. It was enough to keep me going and even enough to let me smile a little and actually believe in it and mean it.

Sunday was a slow one and much harder. I didn’t have an alcohol hangover, but a mood one was definitely apparent. We didn’t do much. Stayed in the flat most of the day and went for food in the evening. There was no pressure and with that, I could manage. I had to battle against the thoughts in my head, but without any need for a performance, I could concentrate on that and concentrate on the moment. It was okay.

Last week I didn’t see past the weekend. I didn’t expect to see today. A friend of mine said to me on Friday, life is like driving in the dark. You can only see as far as your headlights allow you, but you know that if you keep going you will see a little further and if you keep going like that you can go all the way. I think that is how I’m living life at the moment. I can’t see very far. I don’t really want to see very far, but I am still getting through each little bit. I just hope that my headlamps don’t go out any time soon or the fog doesn’t get any worse. I’m still struggling and I hate it.

My mood dropped again yesterday. I was at The Priory and although Art was reasonably relaxing, Support was uncomfortable. I was agitated, unable to stay still and the conversation was irrelevant to me for most of the session. I sat and tried to listen, but all I could think about was my unrealised plans from the weekend. When it was eventually my turn to speak, I unleashed my frustration at my mood. My frustration at the speed in which it twists and turns. I did not know what else to say and neither did anyone else. Their depression is explained by divorce, family issues or work stress. Mine is explained by nothing. By faulty brain chemicals or a disordered personality? I do not know and I still don’t have any answers. I am fed up of it.

I don’t know what else to say anymore. On Sunday, I had lost all hope. On Monday, it returned. Yesterday, it was wavering. Today, I do not know.