Medication

Saturday I went to the doctors. It took 3 weeks of persuasion from various sources including my counsellor, friends and husband. When you have had as many bad experiences,with doctors and mental health, as I have you get a little scared.

Well I had such a positive experience. She was the nicest doctor I have ever met. What was even more special was the time she gave me, the care she showed and her genuine interest in wanting to hear me so she could help me.

I came away with two prescriptions. One for my stomach pains that have been relentless and she thinks due to irritable bowel syndrome. The other a new antidepressant.

After coming off my antidepressants in September I have been determined not to go back on them again. I have fought feeling poorly. I have pushed away any comments from sources to suggest it might be best to consider them.

Why? It’s ingrained. My mum is an advocate for no medicine unless absolutely necessary. Even when it is you try and get off it as soon as possible. I think i just always fall into that trap.

I’m trying Citalopram. I was on it for a few months about 10 years ago. I’m not sure why I came off it at the time, it’s too long ago. The doctor thought it might be worth a try as I was so scared about starting fluoxetine again as the side effects crippled my anxiety at the start last time.

So I’ve taken two so far as she advised me to take them at night to start with to help the bad effects be when I’m asleep.

If you don’t know antidepressants take between 2-4 weeks usually to have a positive effect. The first 2 weeks are also usually tough because until your body gets used to the side affects they can really make things worse.

So what’s happening right now. The last two nights I’ve been awake since 4am with heart palpitations and feeling sick. In the day I’m dizzy, feeling nauseous, and had a headache which nothing has touched. My anxiety levels have certainly risen. I’m super tired and I feel very spacey. I went to work today but I’m not sure I’ll get there feeling like this tomorrow. Not easy when your job involves teaching classes of teenagers.

I know these side effects should subside in 1-2 weeks. I can manage them in the short term, I just hope the tablets help my mental health long term.

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Depression curse

That’s what I feel it is right now. A curse that I will never be free of. I’m coming to learn and finally accept that it may follow me like a shadow for the rest of my life. But somehow I have to stop it being such a curse in my daily life.

Right now it’s making me feel so poorly again. Today I awoke and was sick three times with a chesty cough, however in reality it wasn’t solely this that kept me off work. Without it I probably would have gone in. But with it I felt that the combination of physical exhaustion and mental illness was too much.

So how is the curse troubling me? What are the current difficulties?

  1. I absolutely hate myself! I cannot see anything good in me. I feel like the most selfish, miserable, good for nothing person in the world. I feel like a complete failure as a wife, mother and teacher.
  2. My self confidence is so low I’m so anxious. I can’t even look people in the eye. I’m scared nearly all the time. In the classroom is certainly the worst.
  3. I’m lonely. I’m feeling so alone yet I’m surrounded by people. I have two beautiful young boys and a husband with me but yet I feel alone. I have friends only a text or phone call away yet I am lonely. I have colleagues offering to help and yet I’m lonely. Why? I’m pushing people away. With every offer of help I refuse to accept it. With every kind word I shy away. Why because I’m so scared these people who I like will lose respect for me and hate me if they spend even a few minutes listening to me. I almost want someone to force the issue because I can’t but no one does because they don’t know what to do for the best.
  4. The curse tells me it will be this bad forever. For the last two years I have been riddled with this curse. Yes it has been up and down and I have had good times too. But right now I’m beginning to feel like i am a hopeless case. People must wonder what a waste of space I am because I am always ill.
  5. Self harm. I know it is still such a taboo subject but it’s daily in my life. Currently I’ve done it quite a lot recently it hurts. Not only do I have the marks I have the pain as well.
  6. Suicidal thoughts. These are daily too. I wouldn’t say I’m in crisis (I’ve been there and I know the difference) but it doesn’t stop the thoughts going round my head as I feel like everyone would be better off without me.

I keep trying to remember what friends say it will get better. But it’s been going on and off like this for 2 years now and it doesn’t feel like there is any end in sure. I wish someone could wave a magic wand.

My grandad

I know writing this is going to make me stream with tears but I want the world to know what an amazing man you were.

I could tell you about his life but this is not the time for a eulogy. Instead I want the world to know what you meant to me.

You had the kindness smile.

You always asked how I was.

You always showed interest in me.

I loved the tennis games we played into your seventies.

You always made me laugh.

You told the best stories.

You had such a cheeky side.

The bravest man I have ever known.

A fighter even when everyone else would have given up.

Someone who loved life.

You arguing with my nan which was always forgotten in a moment.

Your complete love and devotion to my nan (she was your wife for 77 years)

Your values and beliefs were strong.

Even on my last visit to you in December your character shone through. Dialysis, blindness, fragility, cancer…house bound but what a man. You smiled and laughed at my two boys. I could see how much you wanted to interact with them. You made me laugh about the nurse you had spoken to in the hospital whilst on the dialysis machine the day before. And despite how poorly you were your upmost interest and love for your family because that always came first.

Every day you have inspired me. Fighting in world war 2, the loss of your child and later your grandchild and nothing stopped your spirit.

I have so many happy memories and the last one I have is my youngest son kissing you on the lips goodbye the last time I saw you. 4 generations in one room that day and now you’ve gone but forever in my heart.

An overload and I’m scared

All was going well till Wednesday evening. Then an overload hit and my already fragile state feels poorly.

  • My grandad can no longer have dialysis and he will die very soon. He is 97 so he has a good and long life. But it’s rocked me. He is my inspiration. I have always admired him and loved talking to him. He is so special to me.
  • My dad’s Alzheimer’s is so much worse. I don’t like to share too much here as my mum and dad are very private and there are people who know him who may read this, but all I can say is it’s going downhill fast and although I knew things would happen, it doesn’t make it any easier.
  • My mum is finding it hard to cope with my dad. With my grandad dying it isn’t helping. He is my dad’s dad but it is my mum having to deal with that too. And it’s me who tries so desperately to be her rock.
  • Finally my rock is poorly. My husband is off work with stress and he is very wobbly and shaky. I am trying to support him in every way possible and I hope he knows I will always be there for him. He keeps apologising because he says he should be strong for me right now but things don’t work quite like that in life.

Right now the build up of life is impossible. I’m terribly overwhelmed. In a weird way I feel better than I did a week ago as I’m purposefully trying to hold it together for everyone. But underneath I’m incredibly wobbly. I can really feel the illness circling me like vultures. I’m desperately swatting it away.

I’ve told some colleagues, I’ve told a friend and I’ve told a boss; all to try and get the support there if the fall occurs. Currently I’m ok. Ok as in life is pretty rubbish right now but I’m ticking all the boxes and keeping going.

Constant failure

Why do small little words bury so deep? Why do good intentioned thoughts and wishes affect me negatively? How can something so meaningless make me double over with depression?

“I hope 2019 is a good one for you! Positive things coming your way.”

“Are you feeling better?”

Two completely innocent statements! The first I felt a real love and good will from the person. I felt like they really cared. The second again from someone who I know loves and cares for me, just willing me to be well.

What does my brain do? Twist them and make me feel like a failure. For both I end up feeling why do these people have to KEEP asking? Why do they have to wish me well?

The reason is because I’m continually letting them down. Over and over I am a failure at my life. How must it feel to be my friend? How must it feel to be a family member? When consistently I’m not well or I’m up and down like a yo-yo.!

My mind then makes it worse. Do they think I’m making this all up? Do they think I’m seeking their attention? Do they think I like the limelight? Do they think I’m a waste of space because I can’t get well.

Then I start to plan how I am going to increase the efforts to be well and put on a front. Then I am going to try harder to not let them see what is happening inside.

This in turn makes it worse. I spend even longer internalising the feelings than normal. The self harm triples. The isolating behaviour increases. The sense of failure intensifies.

So what’s the answer? Please don’t read this and think you shouldn’t ask how I am or wish me well. Please don’t stop. My rational brain is still in there some where feeling good that people care.

The problem is I have to live with this illness. Most of the time I have it in control enough to function which I have to be grateful for, as many don’t. I have a loving family, great friends and a good job.

The honest answer is I haven’t recovered from my horrific depressive episode 2 years ago. I have in the sense I’m coping and functioning, but inside it’s still messed up. I will keep working on it. Please don’t give up on me.

The best colleagues for the mentally unwell.

Exhausted. I’m writing this in my bed (at 8pm). Shattered. Very much due to my 2 year old being up intermittently for 3 hours last night for no other reason than he is an utter scamp! Oh why can’t he be a good sleeper like his older brother?

In between the various get ups for “Mummy where’s my water?” “Mummy my cover!” “Mummy dog dog gone!” “Mummy I have a cough” … you get the jist, my mind raced. Everything screamed at me, you can’t teach, you are a bad mother, your husband hates you etc. I cried and cried. In the middle of the night I was so convinced that I couldn’t go to work today.

Awoke at 6:15am my mind was still at war. On days like this it is literally like I fight a battle all before 7am. On days like this it is desperately bad. Having a voice constantly tell you how awful you are in every way and you can’t possibly teach is like a 6ft wall to climb before breakfast.

So I text my friends in my department. My job share and one other. I explain that today is a truly horrendous day and I’m battling to get in but just giving them the heads up that no way am I great at the moment. I explain to them it’s my impending guilt and feeling bad for the students that is driving me into work kicking and screaming.

At this point I should explain. Things still aren’t great at the moment. They seem to have come to a head the last few days and I’m very snappy and wobbly. I know some including my husband would be advocating a visit to the doctor and a return to the antidepressants but hold your horses!

Yes I’m struggling but in a weird way I’m ok with the emotions that seem to be much more freer than normal. This is a general problem for me and something I still see the counsellor for so I’m kind of trying to roll with it.

I’m incredibly anxious, which I’m actually learning is the start of the problems and seems to bring on the depression not the other way around which I had always thought. Some current concerns:

  • Mum worry is through the roof. All I want is for my children to be happy but it seems to be such a daily, weekly, monthly battle with so many external pressures to ensure that happens.
  • News about a friend and her career choice brought me into floods of tears and has rocked me in so many unexpected ways.
  • Constant emotion connected with my dad’s Alzheimer’s and the pressures on my whole family.

So back to my colleagues. By the time I had got to school one had offered to teach my year 13’s period 5 so I could go home and get some rest. The other was straight in to check how I was.

By lunchtime I had taught 4 lessons which I had handled fine and generally gone well (I have this ability to teach well even when I am extremely unwell- most would never notice). Inside I still felt like I was being torn apart and the negative voice was still on full blast. But knowing I had got this far I was determined to keep going.

In the staffroom at lunchtime another colleague asking how I was got a perhaps unexpected honest response “I’m not great at the moment”, “what’s up?”, my response was to point to my mucked yo head! She immediately offered to have my children sometime if I needed the space and proceeded to give me her telephone number.

The original colleagues offered to collect my student who was in after school detention and let him work with them so that I could go home straight at the end of the day to get a little bit of a rest.

They also reassured me that I wasn’t a failure or a let down. They said I could have been puking and then I wouldn’t have been apologising I would have just gone and mental health is no different.

The rest never quite happened as a petrol pump incident and a poorly, over tired two year old conspired against me but at least I was in my pyjamas earlier than I would have been!

Thanks for caring. Thanks for making a huge difference to my day. Thanks for understanding that I live with a mental illness and it’s just as valid as a physical illness.

Ever so stoic.

These are the words someone used to describe themselves whilst talking about my ability to hold back my emotions today. Ever so stoic. So true. I feel so completely uncomfortable in my own shell that a stoic hiding of emotions feels ever so natural.

Today I led the briefing reflection at my school. I had written the reflection on Friday evening last week when a moment of inspiration hit me. It was all about the inevitability of change. I used my dad’s struggle with Alzheimer’s as the focus of it.

Composing it felt natural. Reading it back to myself, perfectly fine. But today reading it aloud was like my soul being torn open. I delivered it fine; no one would have known the effect it had. But immediately afterwards I felt the swell of pain. The deepest, darkest emotions were bubbling.

I am very good at burrowing these feelings away. I fail to admit to myself most of the time how I feel about many things, including my dad’s illness. But today after reading I felt like I had been bowled over by a bowling ball.

A friend remarked on my ability to read it so clearly without bubbling with emotion. I had. But afterwards the emotions were all too much. And now I had to go and teach for a whole day.

I felt physically sick. I felt like I could have been knocked over as easy as a feather. I felt tears just behind the eyes. I felt like I was shaking. I felt scared.

I felt scared because I didn’t feel in control. Teaching my classes was horrific today. My mind was anywhere but the room. A normally patient and kind teacher I felt like I was snapping at them.

I wanted to run away. I wanted to quit the day there and then. I felt like a panic attack was brewing. I felt shattered. I wanted to hide not perform in front of 30 students.

I survived. I got to the end of the day. I feel torn. I feel broken. I feel anxious. I feel unable to cope.

I need to deal with these emotions. It is positive to share. But perhaps before a 5 lesson day wasn’t the best idea. Perhaps I’ll think that one over more next time.