Into the system…

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Posts Tagged ‘recovery

Long overdue post…

with 16 comments

I thought it was time to explain where I’ve been, but I am not planning on staying long. Just a quick hello and goodbye for now. I feel bad it’s taken me so long, but I wasn’t sure what to say and kept putting it off.

I guess I have just been busy in the real world. That and the fact I had therapy. It seems that having a one hour session a week to contain any mentalism and to whine and moan, meant that I didn’t feel the need to come here. I have just 2 sessions of therapy left now, so by the end of August that may change. Maybe I will come back sometime, but I don’t know. My therapist was never keen on me blogging whilst I was seeing her and although I wanted to continue, in part to rebel against her disapproval, it just didn’t happen. I seemingly ran out of things to say.

I’m not sure how useful therapy has been. We have hardly looked very deep or at anything especially long-term. The therapy itself was neither very long term nor intense, but that didn’t surprise me. It might have been what I supposedly needed, but the NHS was unlikely to ever provide it. I will have had a total of 20 sessions, spread over 8 and a bit months. It would have ended a lot sooner had my sessions not been on a Monday, meaning plenty of missed weeks for bank holidays, my holidays, her holidays, sickness, her training etc. She’s away again next week. I can’t wait for the sessions to end and to get my Mondays back.

So aside from therapy I’ve been busy in the real world. My mood was really quite crappy in Feb and it got to the point where I gave in and started Mirtazapine on top of my other meds in the hope it would lift my mood and help me sleep. I wasn’t keen on the idea, but it seemed to help with the mood at least. It knocked me out for all of 2 days before the insomnia returned. Coupled with the arrival of spring, my mood recovered sufficiently that I stayed in work throughout the mini-episode, albeit on just a few hours a week.

Since then my mood has continued to improve and I’m now relatively “well”. My hours at work have been increased steadily and I’m now working part time, roughly 22hrs a week on some vaguely proper work rather than mundane tasks. I’m still internally based, but the work I’ve been doing has been pretty interesting and I’ve even had colleagues to work with, although we were at different ends of the country most of the time. I did get to spend a couple of weeks in London with them though delivering some training, which was awesome and I’m down again for a few days this week. I’m back to more mundane stuff again over the next few weeks though, but generally my employer have been good at finding me things to do and helping me to get back. I genuinely love my employer and my current HR team. They have been pretty instrumental in keeping my mood afloat and life feels hopeful. Dr N (GP incase you’ve forgotten in the last 6 months) said to me the other week he’s amazed at how well things are going and I’m inclined to agree.

The only remaining issue really is my sleep. It is still poor at best. When I have been working away it has been worse than poor. There have been nights where the whole experience has been painful and fear-inducing and I just wish night never happened and that my body didn’t need sleep at all. I take forever to get to sleep, when I do get to sleep I am drifting in and out of consciousness and dream worlds. I have frequent nightmares and strange dreams. Sometimes I am unsure where reality meets my dreams and everything becomes very strange and scary. I wake up and fall asleep dreaming and wake up and fall asleep and dream and wake up etc on a roughly 10 minute cycle for a few hours and then I can’t get back to sleep again and then often it’s time to get up. Or I am just awake for hours and it is only 6am or something when I fall asleep and then I should be getting up and can’t drag myself out of bed. There seems to be little to no sign of improvement, even after reducing the reboxetine in June. I explained how desperate it was making me to Dr N and he gave me an emergency supply of Temazepam in the hope that if I had a back up plan it might help reduce my anxiety about sleep. I’ve taken it on one occasion and it didn’t seem to help, but I’m too scared to take it on a night when I need to be awake the next day incase for some strange reason it decides it might work for once and I can’t get up! Benzos have never been much help though, but at least they don’t seem to make the whole dream/hallucination thing worse like the Z drugs do. Sleepers just don’t work. No chance of me ever getting addicted.

I’m still sleeping badly and basically just putting off the time when I should try and go to sleep this evening by writing here. I’m in a hotel again, which makes it worse. At home I’m made to go to bed at the time when my bloke dictates he wants to go to bed and I am forced to stay there so I don’t want to wake him or the dog up too much.. If I wake up from a nightmare or anything he helps to bring me back to reality quicker and his presence calms me down. Usually his snores are a reminder that everything is fine and normal and the wardrobe isn’t full of strange men trying to chase me (or whatever else decides to infiltrate my dreams and reality that night). Here in a strange hotel room the boundaries between reality and nightmareworld are a lot more blurred because there is no one to calm me down and I can never quite remember where I am. Monday night was bad. Just wide awake all night. No sign of sleep and increasing frustration at the lack of sign of sleep, which never helps. Yesterday was better, but still not great. I had a lot of dream stuff going on and the every 10 minute waking thing, but at least I got some sleep. I’m meant to be trying to keep a sleep and dream diary for the next fortnight for the therapist, but the problem is I often wake up panicked and even screaming, having no idea what it was that was making me scared. I rarely remember much content. I’ve been trying to keep the notebook by the bed and jotting things down, but that wakes me up even more and just prolongs the wakeful periods between the dreamfilled ones. The problem is though none of that sleep is quality. It isn’t restful and doesn’t recharge the batteries. Eventually I have to get the sleep somehow. During the first weekend of the last 2 week stint in London (a month ago) I just crashed and slept a lot (at least by my standards! I was in bed a lot). The second week was not so bad. The first week at home was better and last week less so. This week has been worse again. I could do with crashing and catching up again, but that is unlikely to be an option any time soon with a wedding to attend on the weekend.

If I could just get the sleep issue fixed I really could be convinced that life is getting back to normal and all will be well and good. Life is getting there. This may be “recovery”, but this is definitely holding me back. It still makes the prospect of full-time work scary and possibly impossible. My shortened days at the moment make the sleep issue less of a problem – I start work late and that seems to help.

Anyway, I should stop writing. I was only meant to be here to say bye and sorry for not saying it sooner. I seem to have written a massive post. Maybe I haven’t lost the ability to blog after all. I don’t think that means I’ll be back though.

I haven’t read many blogs of late either. I am very much out of the loop in terms of the madosphere and haven’t even read any TWIM since it moved. In fact I went weeks without looking at a single blog post, but I’ve read the odd one since, just to check you’re all still there. There are a few of you I miss a lot. Some I am in touch with in the real world. Some whom I’m not. If I’ve stopped reading, it doesn’t mean I’m not thinking of you. I do appreciate everyone who has been reading and around for me when I needed it and everyone that ever commented here. I feel a bit guilty for not being around for you, now that I don’t need it so much. Sorry.

I shall sign off. I may be back one day. I may be back another day. I may never be back. I don’t know.

Take care xx

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 3rd August 2011 at 10:46 pm

Reviewing 2010…

with 5 comments

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!

I feel crap…

with 23 comments

I’ve got a much longer post in the making about returning to work and all that jazz, but right now I just need to whine. The other post doesn’t portray much of how I’m really feeling. It is about recovery, yet at the moment that seems like a strange concept.

I feel crap. Not just a little crap, but really crap.

I’ve been trying to avoid admitting this, but pretending things are okay never does me much good. Maybe if I’m more honest and accepting of how I feel, it will help to ease the pressure a little? I am trying so hard to keep functioning that I am probably making myself worse. I don’t know, but I need to do something and I hope that writing about it will help for a moment.

My mood has dropped. Not just a little bit, but a lot. I could feel depression creeping up on me again, but this past 10 days or so have been far, far worse. During the past week, I have felt worse than at any other point in the last six months. My mood slumped at the end of September /early October, but it didn’t slump this far or this fast. Things had picked up quite nicely since then (and the increase in Reboxetine) and I thought it was just a temporary blip, but now I feel awful and I’m less sure it will be temporary this time.

Every morning is a real struggle at the moment. It is hard for anyone at this time of year, waking up when it is dark and cold outside, but this is more than just winter blues. When I wake up from yet another night of broken sleep and nightmares, I feel the familiar cloud hanging over me. It is a cliché, but it is definitely there, dark and cold, looming over the bed. I realise that it’s back. Depression is here and I am hit with a daily dose of disappointment that I haven’t woken up feeling any better. The sense of dread about yet another day hits me and I want to hide under the cover and never come out.

I know I need to keep functioning and I am forcing myself to keep going, but it is getting harder. On some days I have to go to work and there is plenty for me to do the rest of the time, so I have no choice but to keep going. I force myself out of bed, but it is getting later and later and the incentive to do so is diminishing. I was making myself get out of bed by 9am at the latest, no matter how badly I’d slept the night before, but I can’t do that now. Most mornings I am forcing myself up at 10am, but it was later than that yesterday. If it carries on like this, before long it will be lunchtime before I usually get up. I am doing my best to stop that happening.

I feel guilty when I am like this. I chastise myself for being lazy, but I don’t want to be. I just can’t find the motivation to not be. I know the bloke would chastise me too and that makes me feel more guilty and makes me want to hide how I am feeling. It is nearly always the motivation that goes first. Motivation is tied to noradrenaline and that is what the Reboxetine is meant to be working on, but it doesn’t seem to be doing enough at the moment. I need to get it back, but even forcing myself to do things isn’t likely to help much. It will just tire me out and make me frustrated when I can’t seem to cope.

I am still going to work. I refuse to admit defeat on that. I can’t give up on work. I don’t want to let people down and I don’t want to admit that I can’t cope. I’m worried that everyone will blame this relapse on work and say that I can’t do it. Maybe work is to blame, but I don’t see how it can be. It is not stressful and I was enjoying it at first. It felt really good to be going back and I had definitely missed it. I was being careful not to push myself too hard. My four hours a week were going really quickly, but as my mood has dropped, time has slowed down to a crawl and my last few shifts have felt excruciatingly long, despite being so very short. I have been struggling to find the motivation to go as well and have arrived late a few times because I had been putting off getting ready. My concentration appears to be slipping and I have to keep stopping to remind myself of what I was meant to be doing. I had run out of work the other day as well, so it felt like a complete waste of time and boredom was not helping my mood, but I have now got something new to do, which made it a little easier today.  I will manage though. I have to.

I am struggling to do much else at the moment though. Fighting depression and carrying on with work is sapping all my energy. There is housework to be done, but I am trying to get by with the bare minimum. I sit and stare at the laptop, but I don’t do much with it. I am barely bothering to read blogs or even the news at the moment. I spend too much time hitting refresh on facebook or hotukdeals, because they require little attention. I leave emails unanswered or unsent because I can’t concentrate long enough to write them properly. I am trying to knit a hat for my sister’s Christmas present, but it is slow progress and I keep making mistakes, despite switching to an easier pattern. I tried to go Christmas shopping on Monday, but I was so indecisive I barely bought anything and it took the whole day instead of the few hours I had planned. I have voluntary stuff to do – website updates and press releases to write, but I am putting it off.

I did manage to cope with fundraising at the Christmas Fair on Saturday though, which was a relief. I had been dreading it because I didn’t know how I was going to cope. Adrenaline helped get me through the day, which was a long one to say the least, but I survived. I was working with a decent bunch of girls for most of the day, so at least I had some support and there were plenty of yummy cakes to cheer me up, but I was flagging by the end of the day. We raised a decent amount of cash, which I guess makes it worth it. I felt completely frazzled afterwards though. I had to go out for the bloke’s work do in the evening, but I was exhausted and didn’t really want to go. I did and it was a nice enough evening, but I think I’m still recovering from the late night and long day. Everyone else was drunk too and I was driving, so that didn’t help me enjoy it. My head was so fuzzy, I have no idea how we got home safely. Not good really.

I curiously did the PHQ-9 and the BDI the other day, because I saw reference to the PHQ-9 somewhere and I suspected my scores would show I was depressed again. Scores of around 20 and 30 respectively puts me right on the Moderate-Severe threshold on both scales. I don’t believe that it has got that bad so quickly and I think severe is pushing it, but moderate depression is probably a fair assessment at the moment. Strangely, my scores are worse in different areas to where they used to be, but it’s still higher than I had expected. My BDI score did get up to the late 50s/early 60s though when I was really unwell, so there is a long way to go before I get like that. I did a retrospective scoring for how I was during the summer, just to compare and I would have said my PHQ-9 was about 4 or 5 (not depressed/mild depression) and my BDI around 8 (mild depression?). Things have definitely gone down hill. I think my “natural” state is probably a little on the low side anyway, but this is more than that.

Physically I feel awful as well. Tummy troubles continue. I spent one afternoon last week rolling around in agony. The pain in my gut was just so bad and it came on so suddenly I didn’t know what to do. It was probably the worst attack that I have had and it took a few hours to settle down to a dull ache. My appetite was hit by it and still hasn’t really recovered. My bowels just can’t seem to find any sort of rhythm or pattern, no matter what laxatives or diet I am eating – eat eggs and I end up with diarrhoea, eat beans and I can end up constipated. It makes no sense at all.

In general, my body feels really run down. I have a cold sore and have had a few spots break out lately. I think I may have a urinary infection of some form. I’ve spent most of this week constantly needing to wee, although thankfully it hasn’t felt burny/stingy, so I’m not sure. Last night, a lymph node at the back of my head (behind my right ear, up from my neck) has swelled up and it is really painful. It feels like someone has hammered something into the back of my head and that they are constantly notching up the pressure. I couldn’t sleep at all with it last night. I had the same thing happen on the other side a while back and it took a few days to go down. I hope it does soon. I am not sure how much longer I can take this.

I went and saw Dr N this evening. I was hoping he could at least suggest something to fix my body, if not my mind. Sadly he didn’t have much to offer either. That may be partly because I didn’t know what to say to him. I didn’t tell him all that I wanted or meant to. I seem to have forgotten how to talk about this stuff and I keep forgetting things I should do or say.

He asked me what had triggered my mood. I said I didn’t know. Possibly the time of year, but I’m not really sure. He asked what support I was getting from the CMHT. Nothing is the answer I gave and the truthful one too. I had a phone call last week to tell me they’ve “closed” my case, because I no longer have a worker. They had forgotten to sign off my old CPA when my social worker C left, which was back in June, but someone had found it and said they would send it off to me so they could close my case. Dr N had received a copy too, remembering that there was an apology attached to the front. I don’t know what he thought about that. He asked what other support I have. I reminded him that I am still seeing Dr M as an outpatient, but I won’t see her until January now. He asked about the psychology referral. I’ve not heard anything. He sighed at that.

He mentioned that her last letter suggested that I drop the Reboxetine a few days a week to see if that helps the side effects. She suggested either going every other day – 6mg one day and 8mg the next or even 8mg in the week when I have to work or am at home alone and 6mg at weekends when I have more support. Dr N said he thought the latter may be worth a try, because he hopes that improving how I feel physically may ease my mental symptoms too. He doesn’t think 6 or 8mg will make that much difference either way to my mood, but it might help with the tummy troubles. I am not so sure about the idea, especially in light of my dropping mood. In fact, I’d even tried a few days on a slightly higher dose – 10mg (an extra half tablet), just to see if that could kick my mood back up quickly. No such luck though. I guess it is worth a try.

I didn’t know what else to say to him and in the end we just wished each other a good Christmas and I left. I walked out and finally started crying. I’ve needed to for days, but the tears hadn’t come. I don’t know what to do to stop this decline and I don’t feel like I have anyone to help me. I am scared about Christmas and January and all the memories that this time of year is dragging up. This time last year I was telling myself I just have to get through Christmas. I am doing the same now. The problem is, last time I got through Christmas, only to try and kill myself when January came. I don’t want that to happen again. I am not as bad as I was back then. Things have moved on a lot in the past year. I have hope that my mood can recover again, where as last year I had no hope at all, but I am starting to feel more and more helpless and I fear that I will always be waiting for the next relapse. I am terrified that every time I try to live a normal life, depression will come back and bite me. I don’t want that to happen. My mood has to pick up soon. I need to keep going.

This only seems to scratch at the surface of what I am thinking right now. I am scared. I am worried about what everyone will think. I don’t want to let everyone down. Everyone has been so pleased about the progress I had been making and seemed to be excited about me getting better. I had been so pleased too. I thought I was getting my life back. I am going back to work at last. I am driving again. Everything seemed to be getting back to normal. Things seemed to be going really well. Then I am hit with this slump in mood and I don’t know what to do with myself. I know recovery is a difficult process and I’m always going to have set backs, but this feels different. It isn’t just a bad day or two. Nasty thoughts are creeping back in. I am having to put on my happy face. Life feels like a struggle, rather than just being life. I hope it is just a blip. I really do.

I’m also scared about the diagnosis stuff being stirred up. I was recovering, medication was helping, my condition wasn’t pervasive and untreatable, so I couldn’t have had a Personality Disorder. If I’m getting ill again then people will probably start thinking that it was just a co-incidence and that I do have a PD after all. Maybe I am being paranoid, but I am scared about this. I was glad that I had responded to medication. I may have been treatment resistant, but at least I was treatable.  Now I just feel like a failure. It will be back to the theory that I need therapy if I am ever to recover and I will be blamed for not recovering. No doubt I will never get offered therapy anyway, even if I need it, but I was hoping I didn’t need it. I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it. Whenever I think about what went on earlier this year about my diagnosis I get panicky, anxious and upset. It seems to hit a nerve and I have to stop thinking about it.

I hate feeling like this. We will see how things go. At least I have admitted it now. I have been carrying around these thoughts like a guilty burden. I have been secretly acknowledging the depression, whilst denying it in the hope it would go away and that no one else would find out. I feel like I am letting everyone down. I wanted to have a “happy ever after” for this blog and then I’m back here again whining about depression again. That isn’t what I wanted. Sorry.

Tummy Troubles…

with 14 comments

I am still struggling with the tummy troubles. I have been taking the higher dose (120mg TDS) of Alverine Citrate for a few weeks now and I do think it has helped a little, despite the fact I have also increased the Reboxetine to 8mg in that time. I was getting less cramps at least, although I was still having problems with diarrhoea or constipation all the time. My appetite had improved a little, which must suggest things have been a little better.

Unfortunately that slight improvement has been completely negated by the events of last night. A warning – this post definitely scores high on a rating of too much information!

I had been feeling fine and had enjoyed my dinner of roasted ham, mash, kale and carrots. As I was getting ready for bed and just settling down to watch Newsnight, I got a sudden shooting pain in my tummy and next thing I knew I’d had a somewhat messy accident. :S :( I was so shocked and upset, it took me a second to act and jump into the bathroom (which is within a metre of the bed), although by this point it was far too late anyway. The bloke was horrified and just shouted at me, called me disgusting and hid in the back bedroom, whilst I stripped the bed and took a shower. :( I was feeling pretty rough by this point and thought I might be sick as well, but managed to keep that end under control! The bloke eventually realised I wasn’t very well and that he was being unreasonable and he apologised and started to make the bed. I didn’t know what to do with myself. He wasn’t going to let me in the bed after that, so suggested I got the air-bed out! At least that is plastic and cleanable in case of further episodes. I didn’t expect to sleep much anyway, so decided to do this and settled down under the spare duvet on the lounge floor.

I was awake most of the night and felt pretty rough, but managed to survive without any further accidents. I’m still feeling pretty dodgy now, although by now I could just be hungry. I am too scared to eat anything though.

I don’t really know how to say this, but the poo didn’t look good at all. Very dark brown, sticky, runny and lumpy including some undigested carrots. Not nice at all. The fact it happened so suddenly suggests things aren’t very happy in there either. If I could have done anything about it, I would have. There was no warning at all, except for the shooting pain that came with the attack. It literally came out and exploded like the lid off a pop bottle that had been shaken up. bleugh. Sorry. You don’t need to know that.

The bloke wanted me to book an appointment with Dr N, so I am seeing him this afternoon. I am not sure what he can say or do. I have no idea how I am going to tell him without dying of shame. Part of the reason I am writing this, is to practice describing what happened! I am far too British and shy to talk about poo. Even with a doctor. It has been hard enough to tell him of my tummy troubles so far, but this is an extra level of embarrassment.

I wasn’t sure about writing about this here as it is so embarrassing, but it is the latest thing to happen in the whole tummy troubles saga and something so horrible seemed worthy of note. After all, this blog is an account of some of the more grim elements of mental health. Coping with the side effects of medication is a big part of dealing with mental illness, so I may as well be honest about it.

My bloke was very shocked and not very impressed. He wants me to stop taking the Reboxetine if that is what is causing this. He said he doesn’t like living with an 80 year old. I agree. I don’t enjoy feeling like one.

I had been struggling with the increase in dose aside from this. My sleep has deteriorated and I only find I can sleep properly when the dose wears off in the morning, when I should really be getting up and taking the next dose. It takes ages to get to sleep, I am waking up all the time and struggling to get back off to sleep and I am having nightmares and feeling restless. It is exhausting. I was getting palpitations at night too, immediately after the increase, although that seems to have settled down a little after a couple of weeks at the higher dose. I felt really low in the first week or so too, but that also seems to have improved over the last couple of days, so maybe it is starting to have a more positive effect now. That said, I feel crappy today after the night I’ve had!

I am too scared to stop the Reboxetine though. I don’t want to go back to how I was before. I don’t want to end up really depressed and suicidal again. The perpetual low mood and vague depression of late is draining enough, but that constant despairing depression is much, much worse. I don’t know what alternatives there are. Maybe I should just go med-free and sod all the drugs and their stupid side effects. I still wonder if my mood would have resolved itself a lot faster if I hadn’t have started taking bloody medication. Then again, it may have killed me first.

In good news. I got my driving license back!

I now have a 1 year license, so I need to stay sane over the next year or I will lose it again. Apparently, I will get a form 3 months before it expires to request a renewal. They will go through the medical enquiries again and decide if to reissue. No doubt it will take 5 months again to do that, so I will not be able to drive again for a wee while, but I guess we will see how it goes next time. If I get worse or am told by my doctors to stop driving for whatever reason, I have to let them know and presumably I will have to wait months for them to decide again, so I hope that doesn’t happen.

It is great to have my car back. I am looking forward to going places and having my independence again. I think it will make a big difference in helping my recovery. Being able to go where I want and not having to rely on public transport or lifts from the other half is going to be a massive help. I have a lot more choice about what I do with myself and will be tempted to go out more.

I had a drive on Saturday afternoon after I’d insured and taxed it and it didn’t feel too strange to be back at the wheel. The bloke went with me and we made it in one piece. My left arm has remembered where all the gears are and it felt pretty natural, so I am glad I hadn’t forgotten it all.

On Saturday night we went out in my car and got pulled over by the police! I wasn’t driving, the bloke was. It had flashed up on the policeman’s dash that the car was uninsured – obviously the database hadn’t been updated since I had only insured it that morning. I am glad I wasn’t driving or I’d have panicked. I would say I’d have shat myself, (I think I did on Saturday night!), but I’m not sure that’s appropriate now! *blush* At least we can say the police are on the ball! We were off to a beer festival and although my bloke was only going to have a pint as designated driver, we decided not to take the risk of being pulled over again later, so we left the car and got a taxi back. We went back to get it on Sunday morning and I took my first solo drive, driving my car back. I was okay, although I had forgotten which lanes I needed to be in a couple of times, so I made life harder for myself.

Anyway, I need to get ready for my doctors appointment. I haven’t got dressed yet and am just lying on the sofa with a blanket. Walking around makes me feel worse, so the temptation is to lie here all day. I have a meeting to go to this evening though, so will have to get up eventually.

Edit (3pm): Appointment with Dr N was very embarrassing and not too much help. I had been taking senna daily, plus the occasional dose of lactulose to counteract the constipation I was struggling with, but he thinks that won’t help on the maintaining control front, so I should stop that for now. If I don’t take it, I usually end up in pain and bloated from the constipation within a day. He has given me a script for something else to take if that happens, so we shall see how we go.

We talked about coming off the Reboxetine, but he didn’t think that was worth the risk at all. We don’t know if my mood picked up spontaneously or if the Reboxetine helped, but either way, my mood is a lot better and it doesn’t seem wise to mess around with it. I may have to drop the dose to 6mg if the problems persist, but I was struggling enough on that dose, so don’t suppose it makes much difference.

We talked about sleep and he asked if I wanted to try more sedatives, but neither of us really saw the point as they don’t seem to help all that much. He made the suggestion that actually getting back to work and having more brain stimulus may help, which in theory is true, but I never slept that great when I was at work. Even when I have been busy lately, it hasn’t made any difference, so I’m really not convinced by this. If anything if my brain is busy during the day, I really struggle to slow it down at night, especially if I get anxious too.

Mentioning work, I told him about seeing Dr Occy Health again on Thursday. He thinks I should push to agree a planned return to work as having a structure and plan may help give me something to aim for. I think he is right, although I am wary of the risk of too much, too fast. I told him about going in a couple of times and he agreed that was promising, although I also said that my work are very hesitant to let me rush back. They are being very cautious about how much I can do and when I can do it. I actually got told off for doing work-related activities whilst I was there the other day. We will see though.

Social Work & Work Social…

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My social worker / care co-ordinator came to see me for the very last time on Wednesday. I wasn’t expecting to see her again at all, but she had some paperwork to give me. It was nice to get the call on Tuesday to say she was going to be popping over. I am sad to see her go. She was far better than my previous worker, J and she did restore my faith a little that there was a point in the CMHT. I am not quite sure how it is going to work without a social worker, but my psych is going to act as care co-ordinator, so it should be okay.

On Thursday I braved the work social. I wasn’t sure about going and got quite nervous about this. It was suggested I went along as a way of getting back in touch with work in an informal way. Sort of dipping my toe in. I was worried what I would say to people. I was worried what people would think and I was quite concerned about the fact I’m still on sick leave, yet I’m well enough to go out and get drunk. Would anyone understand that?

When I arrived, virtually no one was there, so I could get talking to a couple of people and break myself in gently. The person who was assigned as a sort-of mentor was there too, so she could kinda look after me. There wasn’t a big turnout at all really, so that helped as I guess I wasn’t going to burn too many bridges if I made a pigs ear of things. I didn’t really know what to say, but I ended up just being honest about being on sick leave. When we were talking about projects, when we joined and who else we knew, it would have been pretty hard to lie. I didn’t have a project and hadn’t done for almost 2 years – in which time my old project has become obsolete. I joined 3 years ago, in which time I should have been promoted. All the people I knew are now consultants or above or have left the company, so people would wonder why I didn’t know anyone else. I didn’t specify why I’d been off though. I thought about it, but it was easier to just say I’d been off for two years and that I’d spent some of the time in hospital.

In the end I coped, but I felt a little weird about it all. I kinda felt like I didn’t fit in any more. In some ways it was fine. I am still a young graduate, with the skills and knowledge to do the job and the aspirations to do well, get promoted etc. I am no different to the rest of them in that respect. I think I can still do the job, but I am not so sure about the company culture now. I used to love it, but the work hard, play hard thing may be a challenge, because I can’t really do either. To do so, would be risking further illness. Socials are built around drinking and late nights, neither of which are a great idea – alcohol is a depressant and I need routine and sleep. Success is built around how many hours you put in, never saying no, high standards and perfectionism – I guess the same is true for many jobs, but there is a huge amount of competition and one-up-man-ship. There is a constant need to prove yourself to be better than the next person. I can’t push myself to breaking point again. I have to hold back, as hard as I am going to find that. With work encouraging me to actively not hold back, that may be difficult to control. I think occupational health and HR will have a close eye on me and will do what they can to protect me from that, but I am not sure I want to be in that position. I don’t want to be left behind. It feels hard enough as it is.

At one point, one of the girls mentioned someone she had met in the company who had been an Analyst for 5 years and she was basically insulting this guy for the amount of time he had been at level. When she said this, everyone except me laughed. She suggested that he had some form of learning difficulties, which meant he didn’t get given enough responsibility to be promoted. Although this may be true, it was meant to be an insult, suggesting he was a massive failure and terribly flawed. Are people going to be saying the same things behind my back? At the end of the summer I will be entering my fourth year as an analyst. Most people are promoted in 2-3 years and many have been promoted again within 5 years total, so I’m a long way behind already. It is highly unlikely I will get promoted in the next year or so as I will not not be working full hours or full responsibilities for a long time. So I am going to become this guy – an analyst for 5 years or more and ridiculed because of it. I am scared of this.

A lot of the time I wonder if it would be easier to start again completely. A new job and a new life. My old life has left me behind and things have changed so much they will never be the same again. I am scared of going back and trying to fit in. I don’t quite know if I will fit any more. I am scared of explaining what has happened in the past two years. I want to erase the past two years, so I can just start again where I left off. I want to catch up with everyone else and I know that is impossible.

There are advantages to staying put though. My company have looked after me and I feel I owe them some loyalty for that. They are going to be flexible with my return to work and will continue to look out for me. I don’t have to learn a new job and at least I already know what to do. The company’s expectations of me have been lowered, so there is no pressure to live up to anything. I don’t need to perform at my best. I can go at 90% and hopefully that will be enough for now.

Starting again obviously has its pitfalls as well. I couldn’t start a new job. I would work too hard trying to keep my head above water, trying to be perfect, trying to impress. I would have to meet new people, with all this history and baggage behind me to try and explain or ignore. I’d have to learn how to do a new job too – new skills, tasks, routines. I am not sure I am up to learning much at the moment. My thinking still isn’t as sharp as it used to be. My memory is crap, my concentration isn’t brilliant. I would end up burning out in no time and I’d be back where I was before. More time on sick leave and another attempt to return to work. No one in their right mind would employ me now anyway, so it is not an option anyway, but I just wish that going back would be easier.

I am starting to realise that although my mood has picked up now and I feel relatively stable, there is still a very long way to go before I can say I am recovered. The future is scary. I have a lot of things ahead that will try and trip me up and I’m a little scared about embarking on this part of the journey. I don’t want to slide back down the hill, but the baggage I’ve got to carry along the way is going to make it pretty tough going.

I feel like I’m kinda rooted to the spot for now, looking up at this big hill with a feeling of trepidation. I’m also being held back by occupational health and my doctors, so I can’t even just take a big breath and have a run at it. All I can do is keep plodding though and hope that one day I’ll be able to get there.

In other news – I’m off to Glastonbury on Tuesday night, so I probably won’t blog again, even though I have two other posts in draft. They can wait though. See you all in a week or so.

p.s. I’ve updated the My Story page again. Can’t believe it didn’t even cover my admission back in January. A lot has happened in 6 months.

Limbo…

with 8 comments

It has been a very long time since I last posted. I can’t believe the whole of May has just disappeared. There was another post here about a week ago, but I trashed it soon after publishing it. It said nothing of note and was a waste of time. I didn’t even complete it, but I published it anyway for the sake of publishing something. I quickly realised there was little point in doing that and I may as well wait until I could sit down and write something properly.

Life continues to be busy and I am still “recovering”.

My mood is now on the whole okay. I am managing on a day-to-day basis and I feel relatively “normal”. My head feels quieter. I no longer think constantly about depression, death and suicide. I don’t spend the day wishing I’d never woken up. Life feels a lot lighter. It doesn’t feel like I’m wading through 3 foot of deep, muddy water any more.

I think perhaps it is more like I’m splashing about a bit in the puddles. There is still a bit of rain around and at times, plenty of cloud but there is sunshine breaking through too. I am starting to enjoy things a lot more and I’m even getting excited about things. Before, the only thing in the future I would think about was what day I intended on killing myself. Now, I am looking forward to my summer and thinking about what I will be doing.

I am excited about Glastonbury this year. I was really dreading it last year and I didn’t have any idea how I would get through it. I spent most of the time leading up to it intending to kill myself straight afterwards. That didn’t happen because the opportunity was never there, but it was on my mind a lot. When I was there, I spent most of the festival falling asleep, because of the Haloperidol I was taking at the time. I can barely remember any of it. I was anxious and couldn’t handle the crowds and I just wanted to sit down and sleep the whole time, because I was so weary. I am hoping that this year I can make the most of it. I want to be back to my normal self. I am looking forward to seeing new bands and have been listening to stuff on Spotify to try and catch up on all the music I’ve missed out on. I just hope the weather holds out.

I guess I hope my mood will hold out too. I am still acutely aware of the fact I have been ill and I’m not going to be fixed overnight. A lot of the time I think I’m fine and wonder why I’m not just back at work, but then something knocks me and I remember what things were like only a couple of months ago. It feels a little like I am walking along a tightrope of sanity. I haven’t fallen off, but I wobble quite a lot. Although my mood generally feels fine, I don’t feel secure. Some of the time I wonder if it is all a dream and I will soon wake up, back in that terrible state I was in before. There are times when I realise some of the negative thoughts are still there and I have to remind myself that things are getting better.

I’ve been thinking about suicide a little again, but I don’t think about it in the same way now. I have no intention of doing it at the moment, but I still wonder if it might be nice not to wake up again, despite all the improvements. I still wonder if I can get through life and if it is worth all the hassle. I am not sure I’d mind if I was ran over by a bus. I guess I am just no longer scared of death. I thought about it a lot before I tried to kill myself and even now I am not sure I really value life very much. Things have changed though and I realise that although I don’t really care if I don’t survive, I think I can survive. Before I didn’t know how I could continue to live any longer. Life was just too awful and unbearable. Now I think I can cope with things how they are and I can carry on. I have no intention of going out of my way to stop it. I’m just pretty apathetic I guess.

I think the illness still bubbles away under the surface. I don’t think it has really gone away, but the medication has turned down the heat and calmed things down. I still feel a little unstable and not quite right at times. Maybe it will never go away completely. Maybe I have just been through too much or things have just gone too far for me ever to go back to “normal”. I guess maybe it has been there most of my life anyway, but I am just more aware of its presence at the moment. I am terrified that things will start boiling over again. I spent a lot of my life denying there was anything wrong. I kept telling myself I was fine and should just snap out of it and get on with life. Now that things most certainly have not been fine, maybe I am no longer able to convince myself that I am fine, even if actually I am?

I guess this is all “Recovery”. Trying to work out what is “normal”. Trying to get on with life. Trying to not push myself to soon. Trying to find a balance.

I still think there’s a way to go. I feel a little like I’m in limbo at the moment. Not actually ill, but not actually well. There’s this middling ground where you kind of get lost in between states. I don’t really know what I’m meant to do whilst I’m here. I am not entirely sure I know the right way out either, but I just hope I get there eventually.

I have to stop writing now. I have news and things I want to write about, but they will have to wait. You’ve waited this long for a post. You can wait longer for the rest of it!

Written by intothesystem

Thursday, 3rd June 2010 at 10:44 pm

More of the same…

with 12 comments

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I guess there isn’t all that much to say at the moment and I’ve been so busy with day to day stuff.

Generally my mood has been reasonable. I think I am “recovering”.

There are times when I pretty much feel “normal” now. I don’t really notice anything mood-wise, either bad or good, which I guess means things are fine. I am busy doing things and life goes on without too much fuss or strain.

I’m still getting dodgy days. Days when I realise things aren’t quite right or my mood is a little down. Days when I feel crap and want to hide in bed or when I am grumpy and irritable., but these days are generally manageable and usually roughly within the realms of “normal”.

I keep having to tell myself that even the non-mentally-ill have bad days and it is to be expected. I think I realise I’m still recovering and not completely better yet. My bloke seems to be having a fair few bad days himself at the moment! It feels a bit weird being the happier, less grumpy one out of the two of us.

I would say there has been one, maybe two days when things haven’t been good at all and I’ve worried that things are slipping or haven’t changed and that maybe I’ve been deluding myself. I am worried one of these days may push me to do something stupid, but I hope not and don’t think they will. I think I can cope with them, but it keeps reminding me that things aren’t quite “normal” yet.

I forgot to take my meds properly a couple of times over the weekend and I certainly noticed it, both mentally and physically. I could feel my mood drop and depressive thoughts creeping in, but realising I’d forgotten my meds put my mind at rest a little. I noticed the physical effects too – I felt a bit dodgy at the time, but since I’ve noticed the side effects from the Reboxetine are stronger again too – the overheating and sweating, the nausea. My appetite had been creeping back though, so maybe skipping my meds every now again will keep it down. Hmm, perhaps not such a good idea.

I was pretty surprised that missing a couple of pills had an effect so quickly though. When I stopped my Lamotrigine back in November I didn’t really notice anything, but I guess it is different with the Reboxetine. It has a short half-life and is meant to be relatively quick-acting, so I guess it makes more of a difference. I don’t like the idea though that just missing a couple of pills makes me feel so much worse and could be enough to push my mood back into relapse territory. I don’t like that my mental-health is in such a fine balance.

I saw Dr M yesterday. It was a fairly pointless appointment. Talked about what I’d been up to over the past 6 weeks, my improvement in mood, side effects, me and the bloke, life in general. Nothing very exciting really.

She wanted to do something to tackle the insomnia, but of course discussing medication we came up against the same thing we always do. I’ve tried pretty much tried all the main sleepers and none have helped. She suggested I try some Nytol, so I guess I should probably try that.

She had planned to increase the Reboxetine, but decided she would like to wait. She seemed to think that things had improved quicker than she’d expected and that maybe I won’t need a higher dose, but she said we’d see. Wants me to see how the next 6 weeks go and then she’ll decide. If my mood tapers off a bit or has plateaued too much then she will push it up again. I was kinda disappointed that she didn’t do this anyway. Although there has been a big improvement, there are enough of the dodgy days to give me concern and there have been more in the past fortnight than there were a month ago. We shall see.

I was going to write about life stuff too, but I’ve got a headache and I am tempted to rest. I shall give you a list of things in brief!

Over the past couple of weeks I have been busy…

  • Doing lots of stuff for the Youth & Community Centre that I’m on the committee for: press releases, survey design and other bits and pieces. It’s very much like work and has been taking up a lot of my time. I am still pretty slow at getting things done and my confidence isn’t brilliant, so I end up checking everything a million times. I was getting pretty frustrated as it felt like no one was listening to me, but I’ve managed to get most things done now. It is probably good preparation for me trying to return to work though. Not sure what I will do when I go back though with regards to all my voluntary activities.
  • BBQing. We had some friends over on Grand National day for a BBQ. We had a big dog over to visit. He’s a Scottish Deerhound and he’s lovely. Our doggy is besotted. There were also small children and lots of adults, so it was a little chaotic having two massive dogs running around too. Funny though.
  • Visting Em. Went over to see her when she was in hospital a couple of weeks ago. It was lovely to see her, but she did look pretty poorly. :( Sad to hear that she is back in again too. I was going to visit her again, but as she’s got a nasty infection (MRSA :S), I’m not sure it’s such a good idea. Hopefully she recovers soon!
  • Reading. After seeing The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo at the cinema, I’ve started on the books. Finished the first two of the millennium trilogy and started the third yesterday and already nearly half way through. I guess this shows my concentration has improved quite a lot as there is no way I’d have been able to get through 2 and a half 600+ page books a few months ago.
  • Camping. We went to Lincolnshire for a few days and a friend, M came along too. Doggy loves camping. It’s a great big outdoor adventure and she gets plenty of walkies. We went to Sandringham to see the queen (not that she was in!), had a couple BBQs, went to the beach and watched Boston United play FC United of Manchester which was interesting. I felt too sick (after too much cider the night before) to go up Boston Stump, but M and my bloke did and from the pics, it looks like there’s a pretty impressive view.
  • We went up to Northumberland over the weekend. Stayed in a hotel not far from Morpeth. The bloke grew up there, so we met up with some of his friends on Saturday night. We also went to the beach, wandered around Newcastle and went over to Cragside whilst we were there. I love the North East. Doggy was in kennels as we didn’t know what we’d be doing, but I felt quite bad as she would have loved it. She seems to quite like her kennels though.

Think that’s the bulk of it.

Anyway.. I have doggy biscuits to bake, a doggy to walk, dinner to cook and probably a million and one other things I could be doing… I really just want to curl up in bed with my book or to sleep. bah.