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.

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