Isolating

I haven’t written a blog post for quite a while and the truth is this is because I have been really well. The truth is when I am well I don’t need to write. The truth is when I am poorly (and unable to talk about how I’m feeling) blogging is a very cathartic process.

Truth be known I’m not finding it easy to share with anyone how unwell I am at the moment. Even for those that do know I’ve hardly spoken a word. With a friend (who is also my boss) I wrote a list, unable to speak. She then contacted (with my permission) two people who she knew could help. Others I have either not said a word and hidden it perfectly or I have just said very little.

Honestly I don’t want to share because I’m scared. I truly believe that people are completely fed up of this endless cycle of depression that I never seem to get out of. I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to be felt of as a waste of space. Mostly because I already feel that of myself!

Currently I’m doing a good acting job most of the time. For many reasons, which are deep and subconscious and which I will not go into now, work is impossible; but I am hoping that most wouldn’t realise it. I’m still teaching with enthusiasm and vigour. I’m still managing my job (mostly). I’m still making conversation and smiling politely.

In the last week 3 different people, once knowing how ill I truly am have urged me to get signed off. But I am clinging on desperately. Being off ill in the past I currently don’t want to go down that road. Why when even though those who know are urging me to for my own health? For a few reasons 1. I don’t want to be a let down at work again 2. I am scared of being off because sometimes the loneliness of it can lead me to spiral 3. I want a new job and being off sick is not a good selling point!

I’ve even been lying to my counsellor and telling her everything is well. Next Friday is meant to be my last session after 18 months. Last session when I’m at such a low point, I know madness. I think the only sense I have reasoned right now is that after cancelling yesterday’s session, next week when I go I will be honest and extend it for now.

I’m not sure where this current depression will lead. I know it’s really bad in my head right now. I know all the worst bits of the past are very real. I know isolation is not a good plan for I’m scared to do anything else. Perhaps this blog post at least stops the isolation a little.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Depression and the Poo Episode

If I thought yesterday was bad with my post entitled Failure all I could muster up, today brought its own challenges. I really don’t feel well right now. Anxiety is coursing through my veins and depression beginning to weigh me down. I’m hoping it will be short lived.

Today I woke with anxiety. I shook with worry. I had two separate visits to the doctor to deal with for my son’s flu vaccine and my smear test. Anxiety is completely irrational but it’s so real. This is why the poo episode was worse than normal!

The poo episode

It’s about 9:15 and the plan was to do a few jobs round the house before leaving for the doctors for my son’s flu vaccine at 10:15.

A five minute sit down I thought before the jobs start. My 2 year old seemed happy playing with his toys. Suddenly “Mummy I need a poo!” I jump off the sofa, pick him up and run up the stairs to our bathroom. Pull down his pants and there is a little poo already there. I sit him on the toilet where he argues “no poo coming mummy”. Change of pants number 1.

Ten minutes later I’m hanging up washing on the airer. It is suspiciously quiet. I shout to him (in another room)

“Thomas are you ok?”

“Yes mummy”

“Thomas do you need a poo”

“no”

About 30 seconds after this conversation. “Mummy I done a poo.” We repeat episode number 1 although this time Thomas has kindly touched his bum with his hands, spreading his poo onto his jumper and his trousers. In the bathroom whilst wrestling a 2 year old to take off his clothes covered him poo, we now have poo everywhere. All over my hands, the bathroom seat, the floor. Change of pants 2 (plus now no jumper or trousers on).

I decide perhaps I need to allocate some time to poo gate. Thomas and I sit in his bedroom. I read The Gruffalo whilst he sits on the potty trying to push out a poo. In reality what this looks like is a 2 year old who keeps jumping up to give me a hug whilst I wrestle him back to the potty as poo is coming out of his bum. No success, tiny, tiny poo- but now poo on his T-shirt, leg, potty, millions of wipes used. No change of pants we hadn’t got any on!

So now Thomas is completely naked (he still has socks on) wandering around upstairs. I am losing the plot knowing that a poo is on its way sooner or later. Also the time seems to be disappearing it’s now 10:05 and we need to go out in ten minutes. So now my patience has completely disappeared. We are having a poo standoff in the bathroom. Thomas is on and off the potty whilst I demand a poo. I threaten taking away toys, offer rewards and even threaten putting nappies on him again to which he shouts “no I’m not a baby” and I shout back “do your poo then”. A 10:10am I give up. I put him in a completely new set of clothes, put on his shoes and coat and make him promise he will be good at the doctors. We then fly out the door.

Nothing unusual here. A normal mummy day. But it’s how I am dealing with these events that doesn’t feel normal. I am in self destruct mode where I’m blaming myself for everything.

I blame myself for the fact my 2 year old isn’t pooing on the toilet yet. I blame myself for putting on the tv after lunch because I’m tired. I blame myself for how I have brought up my children when they are whiny when we have a play date. I blame myself when watching my eldest son at football after school and he is standing not joining in. I blame myself when I snap at my husband for doing nothing other than breathing.

I can’t stand my own company right now. I just want to hide. I’ve been off the antidepressants for about 4 weeks and it’s tough. I don’t want to go back on them even though some people will tell me that’s the right step; I don’t agree, I’m feeling again! I also think it’s not helping that for a complicated reason I don’t have any counselling for 5 weeks. I haven’t got my usual talking outlet.

Thank you

T- to all the people who have shown me love today. The texts, the smiles, and the offers of help have all helped. They have made me feel valued. They have made me feel cared for. They have made a difference.

H- hiding has been what my mind has desired today. I have desperately tried to do the opposite. Isolating myself is never a good plan, things just get worse.

A- anxiety is probably at its height right now. The list of what I’m anxious about is so extremely long. Without any counselling to release these I feel the list is just getting longer.

N- nights are the worse. I hate the shorter days and the dark. They make it much harder for me to find the positivity.

K- keeping me on my toes are my children. My youngest is extremely whiny at the moment. He seems grouchy about everything and beyond clingy to his mummy. It’s tiring and I’m struggling to keep my patience.

Y-yawning. I’m so constantly tired. It’s not even a lack of sleep it’s more than that. The anxiety on overdrive makes adrenaline course through my body and leaves me feeling shattered.

O- out in the air tonight, I went for a run. I dreaded it but it actually felt good. I only went for 18 minutes (I didn’t have long before putting the boys to bed) but I jogged much more than I walked and I felt such a release.

U- understanding. My major bugbear right now. Today I had a lovely conversation with someone who agreed with my views about the need for understanding of others issues. Not getting mental health, not really knowing much about it isn’t really an excuse for a lack of understanding to others. Come on everyone let’s just so everyone some love.

Depression: How to understand the invisible?

Blog posts are starting to flow, which means I’m feeling poorly. I always write when I’m not quite right. Depression and anxiety always gets my creativity going.

Tonight I feel again like this is my life forever. However many times I try to get over depression and anxiety I fail. It has become me. It is not something I will ever be completely be free of, it’s something I cope with.

Today I came across a lack of understanding of mental health. Stigma exists. Mostly I would say this stigma isn’t intentionally hurtful (although sadly that does still exist). But an honest lack of knowledge. An honest lack of experience. An honest I don’t get it.

It’s really hard to help people understand what cannot be seen. I get why people don’t get it. I appreciate how hard it is. I don’t blame them for their lack of knowledge. Depression and anxiety are so irrational in many ways that we can’t explain them clearly.

This doesn’t mean I will give up. This doesn’t mean I will stop trying to help people understand.

Being completely honest about what goes on in my head scares me. I worry that if my husband, counsellor, doctor knew they would section me immediately. My head is irrational and dramatic. It isn’t all bad.

More than anything opening up truthfully often leads to advice. I’m not one for people telling me what to do. I like it when people listen. I don’t like not being in control. It’s not that I always know best but I have had this for a long time now and I know what does and does not work.

So I’ll try to be honest to help people understand if you promise not to worry!

  • I self harm every day.
  • When I’m at my worse I have had suicidal thoughts daily.
  • I have been about to commit suicide.
  • Even now much better than before I still think about suicide sometimes (luckily not seriously currently).
  • Sometimes I can’t get out of bed I feel so low.
  • Sometimes just to get out of bed is an achievement.
  • I feel like I have a tonne weight on me holding me back.
  • Anxiety makes me sick.
  • I worry about everything I do, say, write. I analyse it over and over and over.
  • I am scared of everything.
  • I have zero self belief or confidence.
  • I think I am a rubbish mum.
  • I think I am a rubbish teacher.
  • I feel worthless.

And these are just a start.

No mental health illness is the same. I have friends who have issues but theirs jare different to mine in many ways and same in others. Essentially I’m not sure you will ever fully get it unless you have it. But I do ask that you all try and show a little bit more compassion. You make time to listen. You make time to learn more and try to understand.

Depression turmoil

My head is spinning it’s turning me in and out,

I don’t know whether to hide, cry, scream or shout,

Even writing is hard right now a desperate release,

I would love to escape it all, forever or for just one day please let it cease.

I’ve been poorly for weeks now laryngitis, chest infection and now my ear is sore,

It’s left me tired and broken, I’m not sure I can take much more,

The pain is now increasing, but when to fit in a doctors visit I can’t think,

Life is too full, too busy there is no time even to blink.

Being poorly has stopped the exercise my way to stay sane,

The weight is piling on again, all I seem to do is gain,

The pounds increasing are making me low,

Every time I try to crack the weight something sends another blow.

Work is exhausting, especially when feeling ill,

I’m not sure how much longer I can hold on till,

Each day anxiety is there, the self doubt creeping in,

In front of 30 students anxiety can quickly mean the lesson should be thrown in the bin.

Outside of work other things are playing on my mind,

I’m worried about my eldest boy at school I don’t want him to be behind ,

What can I do to help him, being a mum is a constant worry

I don’t want the lines between loving mum and teacher to be blurry.

Other things are hurting me more than I can express,

Alzheimer’s is the cruelest disease it’s hard I confess,

Watching parts of my Dad disappear before my very eyes,

Hard to be the rock for my mum and hear her cries.

Right now life is really overwhelming me,

I’ve come off the antidepressants leaving me alone and free,

No counselling for 4 weeks my lifeline missing at this time

I think a new strategy shall come to play … bedtime!