Tuesday, September 25, 2007

1 Year, 22.1 Days

I’m posting a backlog. Bloody Internet has been broken, so have intermittent connection. Get it while you can…

Friday, 14 September 2007

More advice to myself, Part Trios:

Being off sick is not the fun sojourn into the delights of daytime telly, wearing your PJ’s all day, sleeping in late and generally revelling in the delights of not working. (Sounding like a stuck record? Thought so.) No, no, no. It is hard. It is a full time job being sick, and another getting well. Your days will be filled with form filling, feeling guilty about not working, getting to appointments and yes, you guessed it – being alone.

Even if you have a partner to share in the delights of your illness, they will have to go out to work during the day and they won’t be too delighted to come home to piles of unwashed dishes, no food in the fridge and no dinner prepared. They will not understand that you slept all day because you were too scared to stay awake. Too scared at what lurked on the floor and in the rooms beyond the door if you got out from under your saviour – the duvet.

Unless, that is, you are living with Mr. Gandhi himself.

They will freak out when you call them randomly during the course of their busy day, terrified that you are going to throw yourself out of the window by accident. They will look at you in disbelief when you tell them to hide all the sharp objects in the house. They will not understand your rationale of believing that you won’t wake up after taking your sleeping tablet, and quite possibly will get impatient when you need them to hold your hand to walk ten paces to the doctors surgery.

They will (if they are not Mr. Gandhi), throw in the towel after a while because as any sane person knows – they cannot join you where you are going.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

1 Year, 22 Days

Friday, 14 Septebber 2007

More advice to myself:

Use sterile saline and adhesive free dressings to clean and attend to any severe self-inflicted wounds. They will heal quickly and will itch less. It will also cut down the risk of infection and additional scratching. Your skin will not like the tape used to attach dressings and it will hurt like hell changing the dressings. Do not soak the dressings off – it is much more painful.

You will get tired of “talk therapy”.

You will feel that you are making no progress. This is when a journal comes in handy.

It is OK to go out and have a good time. Oftentimes these occasions will be few and far between so make the most of them.

You will feel your body lets you down constantly. Your mind will say: “I can go outside today”, or, “I can go on a train this week”, then – for no apparent reason - your body will say “NO!” loudly and you won’t be able to go anywhere.

You can feel claustrophobic anywhere.

You will not know the answer to why you feel a certain way on a certain day. Some days, things that set you off on a downward spiral of despair, will make you wet your knickers laughing the next.

People will have opinions about how you should be managing your recovery.

Friends will be scared of you until they know you are not dangerous.

Some people think depression is like M.E. – made up.

At times, people close to you will tell you: “Everyone is depressed”. They aren’t.

People will wonder why you cannot snap out of your depression. They will think that flinging yourself, full pelt, back into life will make you immediately better. “Busy people are well people”.

Do not ask for an opinion if you are not prepared for the answer.

You will feel paranoid. You will feel like people are humouring you. You will feel like everyone is lying to you, just to make you feel better.

You will feel that everyone is talking about you behind your back.

The NHS is not geared up to treat those with depression safely and with the amount of attention sometimes required. You will be left alone, to fend for yourself, a lot.

If you are assigned a “team” of nurses, counsellors and psychiatrists – DO NOT assume that they communicate with each other.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

1 Year, 21 Days

Advice to myself:

Do not compare your illness to anyone else’s illness or to others personal circumstances. Do not compare your life to those who have suffered at the hand of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or just shit, bad luck. What you are experiencing is particular to you and you alone. That is not to say, that others don’t suffer from depression or tragedy in their lives, but more so that everyone experiences things differently - my experience is my own and I will react differently to situations, medication, moods, people, travel to anyone else. This is MY disease.

Depression is a serious illness. It is life altering/threatening; it is not like a cold or a cough. It is not like having food poisoning. Treat “it” with respect – the first step being acceptance.

Keep a journal and empty your head as often as you can.

Eat fibre – every day. Depression, stress and medication make you constipated. Very constipated. Oat bran, oats and apricots are now your dearest friends.

Lucozade helps you to stop feeling quite so light-headed on the days when you cannot get food into your mouth.

Do not feel guilty about having quiet days – your friends/family will understand. As long as you let them know – smoke signals work well, but are not as practical as text messaging.

It is good to take a second party to important appointments – especially if you feel you cannot talk for yourself or are having a bad day and cannot remember your words or how to construct sentences.

Keep asking for help when you suspect something is wrong with you. Ask, ask, ask until someone listens. If you feel you cannot ask for yourself – get someone to do the asking for you.

Find the financial advisor that works through your local mental health unit or doctor’s surgery and talk to them about your Benefit Entitlement. If they are worth their salt they will fill out the forms for you, asking for your answer one question at a time.

You will feel like pond scum when in receipt of benefit. It is the benefit officer’s job to make you feel this way – it is supposed to separate the wheat from the chaff – the legitimate claimants from the fuckers who constantly cheat the system.

Do not listen to people that make you feel shit/pathetic/useless/weak about being sick.

Know that you are not a burden – unless you make yourself so. You may feel like you have lost your mind, but you know the boundaries of decency - unless you are off your head on prescription drugs and are therefore judgement impaired.

WRITE THINGS DOWN. Lists – they should be everywhere.

Write your address down and put it in your pocket. Alternatively pin your return address to your lapel, Paddington style.

Keep emergency numbers all over the house.

Highlight In Case of Emergency contact numbers on your mobile by prefixing names with I.C.E

Give a trustworthy friend/family member a copy of your house keys. Your brain will go to mush and you will forget or leave them somewhere. They may also need to use them to get into your home in an emergency.

Recognise that you will feel like shit the majority of the time. Good days are a bonus. You will need people that you can call on, as and when you need them.

Sudoku can be a life changing distraction.

Join a postal, DVD library. Watching cheesy films without much content will get you through endless days and sleepless nights. Just remember to post them back - the walk to the post box will do you good.

Do your food shopping online – preferably with a supermarket that stores your previous orders. If you feel lousy and cannot think what you would like to eat you can re-order with the click of your mouse. Just make sure you order good stuff at least once otherwise you will be stuck with broccoli and soya milk for a week.

Keep a variety of different textures of food in the house – crunchy, soft and liquid. And straws for when you don’t want to open your mouth. You will have crazy “sensory overdrive” days when you cannot tolerate squishy food, slimy food or hard things. If all else fails buy bananas and make banana smoothies with a blender and drink through a straw.

Do not be afraid to write the contents of your cupboards on A4 sheets of paper and stick to the outside of the doors.

Keep sharp implements out of sight.

Try to keep household clutter to a minimum.

“Professionals” will tell you constantly to exercise. They do not realise that you can barely get your head up off the pillow most days. They do not realise the effort this takes. They do not realise that the energy expenditure of getting up and going to the toilet will leave you wiped out and needing a nap immediately afterwards.

You will think people are looking at you when you finally venture outside. Sunglasses are good to have with you at all times. The bigger and blacker the better. At least if you wear them when it is pissing down with rain and the sky is falling down, you will know why people ARE looking at you.

Do check that you are wearing outside clothes before you leave the house.

If you do not try to wash your hair when you need to – i.e. when it is dirty, it will make you feel more disgusting and hopeless/pathetic.

You will gain weight with anti depressant/sedative/anti psychotic medication. Regardless of how little you eat. Try to look in the mirror as little as possible. The Professionals will not believe you when you tell them this. They will assume you are very lazy and eat shite all day.

Medication makes you thirsty – always have a bottle of water with you. Being dehydrated gives you a headache.

Carry a cloth handkerchief in your pocket if your medication makes you sweat. Disposable tissues tend to shred themselves all over your face when used to wipe sweat - nobody will tell you when you have tissue detritus on your forehead.

Invest in pyjamas and bed linen you like – about three pairs of the former and two of the latter. You will be seeing a lot of them.

Do only what you can each day. You will know when you are being a lazy arse. You will know your limits.

You will feel terribly lonely, and mental, most days.

(I reserve the right to add/change modify these statements at any given time if I decide that they are stupid/annoying.)

Day 2 of 150mg Venlafaxine. Still sweating profusely.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

1 Year, 12 Days

Sweating. That's what I'm doing. Sweating from every pore. Sweat pouring down my face on the bus, in queues at the supermarket, while buying expensive gifts in posh shops. Sweat dripping off my face onto cash desks and into my teacup. It is, bizarrely, amusing. I have also lost 5lbs in a week - probably because of the sweating.

I am now on the 75mg dose of the new tablets and have only had one sleeping tablet thus far and 0 Diazepam. My mood, I think, is slightly more balanced. I wanted balanced, I wasn’t quite expecting low mood balanced, but this I can cope with more that the hysterically upward, then rapidly downward, swinging moods that previously scared me to death. Yes, I still have mood swings, but they are less dramatic even though they do tend to be southbound. I am noting the changes from a distance, hardly daring to think that these tablets might be helping.

I have just finished moving my bed, yet again. I am now underneath the window. One of these days I will stop twirling. Tomorrow my Mama and Papa are coming down from the North to attend my visit to the psychiatrist. They have questions and need guidance. I am slightly concerned about the questions and can understand the quest for guidance. It shall be an interesting meeting.

My sister is here tonight with her boyfriend from the States. He is flying out tomorrow so they are camped out in the lounge. We celebrated her birthday today and of course I could not help thinking about the fact that some ten+ years ago, on this date, I was having an abortion. My mind of late has been filled with thoughts of children and the future, which is probably why today I was furiously pondering the past. It seems crazy to even think about having a future when I am so entrenched in the gloom of the present, not knowing if I will make it. I wonder if I will ever be loved again or ever be a mother. Some days I think maybe – others I almost laugh out loud at the stupidity of any such notion.

It is almost painful to think I could have a 14-year-old son now if I hadn’t had my legs in those stirrups then. I wonder what my life would have been like today if I hadn’t made that decision. I certainly wouldn’t be lying here, in this flat, pondering a childless future.