Three weeks ago I started on a new antidepressant (Citalopram) after being off medication completely for 4 months. The first week was horrible with side effects including sickness, dizziness, nausea, headaches and a general feeling of being a different planet. But since that first week things have started to turn a corner.

This week students in one of my re classes said “I was the happiest teacher they have ever had”. A sign of perhaps how good I am at putting on an act. In my head I thought if only you knew; last week I was contemplating suicide! It is mostly easier for me to put on an act (especially in the classroom). As I said to them “well I try to be happy in every lesson as it isn’t fair to you to bring anything in from outside”.

Yesterday though someone else remarked “your so happy today”. I had come into work and felt well. I had gone to see the lady who arranges all the cover for teachers who are off because a member of my department was off and I wanted to see who was doing her cover. She had lots of teachers off and I wanted to help her. I offered to cover a lesson for her and two registrations. My quiet day had suddenly got much busier! But it felt good.

Minutes later back in my classroom I took stock. This week hasn’t been the easiest with my husband away on a school trip and the house being in chaos as we were having new storage. But I felt happy. What was more staggering was I didn’t particularly have a weekend to look forward to; but I was still happy.

I sat there questioning what’s going on? Today I have a doctors appointment first thing -always a cause of anxiety for a doctor phobic like me. Then my husband is going away for the day and night to see a mate. Meaning I have my two gorgeous boys on my own and have little family time. This afternoon I have a play date with one of my eldest sons friends and his mum-another cause of anxiety because of peopling with someone I don’t know that well. Then Sunday when he gets home my husband will be preparing for a job interview he has so once again little family time which I love.

All of this and I was still happy. I sat there in my classroom wondering what on earth was going on? I feel positive. Happy. Level. This isn’t my normal!

Maybe just maybe the tablets are helping. I have never felt they have before in 10 years taking them on and off. Maybe just maybe this is what they are meant to feel like when they do?

I feel like I’m coping. I feel level. I feel in control. I feel like I could be affected by good, bad events or tiredness like any normal person. I’m hoping so much this is not a short term thing. I hope this is more than a day!

Keep your fingers crossed.

4 Tips for recovery from Depression

Anyone who knows me or who has been reading my blog will know depression has crippled my life. For me I feel like it is an illness I will now live with for my whole life but it is about how I can manage it to live a full and happy life.

Nearly two years ago now I fell into the second deep depression of my life. Suicidal, self harming daily, I became extremely poorly and withdrawn from my normal life.

Now as I begin to come off my anti-depressants after feeling stable for quite a significant time I wanted to reflect and share on my journey to recovery.

These are my 4 tips:

1. “It will get better” at my depths two of my great friends who I shall call B and M regularly reminded me of this. M would turn up on my doorstep regularly and state this when I was so low I couldn’t even talk. B using her own personal experience of her husband would remind me of this during our long chats.

At the time I couldn’t see it. At the time I wanted to shout back no it’s like this forever. At the time I wanted to commit suicide as I saw that as the only way out of it. Looking back they were right! When I couldn’t see it. When I couldn’t believe it. I needed people to remind me there was an end in sight to how I was feeling. So tip number 1 try and believe it will end sometime.

2. Don’t try to rush the recovery. It’s honestly taken nearly two years for me to feel better on a more regular basis. I still have low points as well. I wish I could wave a magic wand. I wish I could make you immediately better. I wish there was a magic pill. Countless times I have prayed and begged to feel better. I have willed it to be over. I have beaten myself up for it taking so long. I have told myself off. But I have learnt it’s no good trying to rush it. The only way is to accept whatever time it takes. There is no one pattern fits all. For some it maybe a quick journey for others it may go on for years, decades even. Please don’t try to rush a recovery. Please don’t criticise yourself for taking your time. You deserve patience for yourself.

3. Take whatever help you need. If anti-depressants help – take them. If they don’t – don’t take them. If you need time off work – take it. If you need to work to keep busy – do it. If you need to stay in bed all day – rest. If you need to go for a run- get out there. If you need to talk to anyone who will listen- talk. If you need to hide away from people- find somewhere safe. If seeing a counsellor helps – talk as much as it makes you feel more like you. If seeing a counsellor is far from anything you can manage – don’t feel guilty.

Depression is so different for everyone. There is no right way. I have taken anti-depressants (4 different types) to varying degrees of success and I’m still a bit skeptical. I have been seeing a counsellor for 18 months and I will continue to do so because I think it helps me. I have friends who I can chat to when it gets tough. I have things I like doing to get some space from the world. Do what you need to do to survive.

4.  Try and find some joy again. It maybe something small. Whatever it is look for the spark of joy. Try and find something that makes you smile. Try to find something that makes you happy. Try to find something that gives you something to focus on. It might be a pet. I have heard they are good to stroke and take care of, something to distract the mind. It might be a new project. For me writing helped. It enabled me to pour out my feelings. It might be your family. For me I have learnt to try and hold on to the moments of joy I get from my two boys. When I have been really low it has helped to go back to those times. Whatever it is try to find something that helps give you a bit of love of life again. However small something positive can grow.

Ultimately recovery is a journey for everyone. It is going to be completely different for everyone. I can only offer my thoughts. They have helped me.

I also know I still have a way to go to be exactly where I want to be. There are still issues that I am working on. My self confidence and self esteem is still not where I want it to be. My self doubt and self image are still very low. As a result this makes me question every conversation; I am my biggest critic.

My self harm hasn’t stopped. It has decreased. It isn’t such a crutch but it is still there. Another goal is to remove it. Let’s hope.

Recovery is an unfinished journey. I’m not ever sure I will be fully rid of depression. But it can get more manageable. It can get better.

Positive things…

I’ve had a good couple of weeks. From the depths of depression I have once again managed to find a way out. The ladder was there. The last week has been a positive one which is nice to share.

It started with my brother in law’s wedding last Saturday. A wedding not normally an event I look forward to because of the anxiety that lots of people causes me. But I had a lovely day. I was in a positive mood going into the day which helped but it was truly relaxing and enjoyable as well.

My boys made a huge difference, they were amazing. They made me smile and laugh. Both were kings of the dance floor! Also my husband’s family are so lovely. I am truly lucky. Thankfully they get me and there is never any pressure and people just make me feel at ease.

The working week then passed without much drama. Friday turned into a bonus day off where I managed to get loads of work done, the joys of motherhood. I was mid teaching period 1 when I received a phone call from my son’s nursery requesting someone pick him up immediately because he had been ill. Hence the day of tv and me managing to mark all my year 10 mock exam papers. I felt productive. I was pleased to have got that job out of the way.

Saturday and the normal events of swimming lessons and time in the garden on a gloriously hot day were great. Just the chilling out I needed. Saturday night a date night with some friends. A lovely curry. Great company and even a newly planned holiday for 3 weeks time!

Sunday involved an hours drive to Hemel Hempstead to pick up my 97 year old nan. She has had a bug. My grandad, who is also 97, has been in hospital with it as he has to manage dialysis 3 times a week as well. Bringing her back to Bedford for a few days break staying with my mum and dad. After that job was done my husband and I enjoyed some cinema time watching the new avengers whilst my mother in law babysat. Then an hour planting in the garden with the boys=Bliss.

Bank holiday Monday and once again we have been blessed with a beautifully hot sunny day. A bbq for my mum, dad and Nan. Time in the garden with my husband and the boys. Relaxed and fun.

I wanted to share how life with depression can be positive too. It takes it toll on me a lot of the time. There is no guarantee whether tomorrow will be a low or high day. But this last week has been a good one and sometimes it is about taking the positives when you can. Even trying to hold onto them when the depression curse strikes from no where.

A-z of what makes me happy.

I recently was reading stronger together's blog post stating the a-z of what makes her happy and I thought I would do the same https://strongertogeth1.wordpress.com/.

Depression sometimes means you fail to see the happiness around you. It is like the black dog is sitting on top of your face blinding your eyes from all the happy times. So it is good to remind yourself of the glimmers of light in your world.

A = Alan! My husband he had to be on this list. He is my rock, my inspiration, my everything. He is the only person who sees the true Becky. He is the only person in the world I feel 100% comfortable with.

B = beach. I love being by the seaside. I love walking along the beach. I can remember times where my friend Liz and I have played on the beach (in our twenties) as some of my best moments.

C = chocolate. I've never been a drinker, I can happily be the designated driver which my husband loves, but chocolate I have a real soft spot for.

D = dogs. I have never owned a dog but my mum and dad's closest and oldest friends always have. I grew up going on holidays with the dog, looking after the dog. Man's best friend is certainly true for me. My favourite are golden retrievers; poppy was my best friend.

E = education. It's been my passion always. When at school I loved it. Now as a teacher I love it. Enough said.

F = family time. I love being with my family. Spending time together. This morning my boys were chasing each other round in circles in and out of the house. It was so special hearing their giggles, sharing their joy.

G = garden. My safe haven. 84ft of it. I just sit in it and feel my self chill. I'm also proud of it as it's coming on slowly even though both alan and I are not gardeners.

H = headspace. My last post was about the need for it. It is so true I would collapse without it. I need time for my head to process the mess that is inside it.

I = ice cream. Chocolate in particular. My current favourite Tesco finest. I recommend trying it!

J = Jacob. My eldest son. Nearly 4 (I can't believe it). The most sensitive soul in the world (just like his mother). But also the kindest. Such a good reader of feelings and emotions. So empathetic.

K = kitchen. Only recently we tore off the old tile on a roll wallpaper. Our great friend Mike plastered it. Alan painted it. My mum and dad helped clean it and suddenly it is a pleasant space to sit in. It was worth the effort.

L = lie ins. Bit of a sucker for these I'm afraid. They have to be shared with alan now as someone has to get up with the boys but I do love a good lie in and it can set me off on a good way for the day.

M = Manchester United. My team. I am obsessed. It's all Dominic Rentle's fault. My dad and one brother support Tottenham and so did I until spending every holiday with the Rentle's meant I was indoctrinated into Man U worship. I wouldn't change it for the world!

N = Netflix. Truly this has been my life line over the past few months. When I was off work, I was so ill I couldn't bring myself to do anything. Bed was my haven. Netflix took me into a different world. My best was watching the series that just transported me out of the real world for a little while. Watched so many but 12 monkeys from Netflix and handmaids tale from channel 4 have been my recent favourites.

O = organisation. I like to have everything planned out. It makes me calmer and less stressed.

P = parents. This is my mum and dad and my mother in law. They are very important in my life. I love seeing my children playing with them. They also give me time to myself by having my children when I need some space.

Q = quiet time. Shhhhh.

R = running. To be honest I don't enjoy this but it does make me feel better. Recently I have been running with a friend and colleague and it makes it much easier and a little more enjoyable.

S = sunshine. There is something about the summer and sunshine that makes me happy. I love being out in the garden and a bit of sunshine helps with that. The warmth of the sun, the paddling pool out with my boys playing …great combinations.

T = Thomas. My youngest son. The cheeky chap he is. He is such a monkey. Complete opposite to my eldest.

U = underwear. (New) nothing like a new pair of pants or bra!

V = visiting friends. I love catching up with friends. Especially when they understand my depression and care for me.

W = workmates (some current and some of the past). It is so important to have people you work with who you get on with. Otherwise work can be isolating and stressful. Lighthearted relief with workmates helps!

X = xxxx (kisses). Who doesn't need these! Husband kisses. Jacob peck kisses. Thomas open mouthed kisses.

Y = Yorkshire puddings. Nothing quite like one. My favourite part of a Sunday lunch. Covered in gravy helps.

Z = zoo. Love my days out with my family at the zoo. Whipsnade and London zoo have been a regular location for family trips over the past few years.

I have enjoyed writing this post! W should have been writing as well. It has become a bit of a life line recently. Sat writing this list in lister hospital waiting to see my 96 year old grandad. He inspires me everyday! Thanks to my husband and mother in law for helping with a few suggestions!