Category Archives: depression

And… breathe…

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Unknown.jpegbreathing… the very essence of life… without it we can’t survive. Instinctual. Natural even? Something we take for granted? Something we are usually not aware of?

But sometimes, it’s the only thing we can manage, and it’s the only thing we need to manage.

I have been finding things quite difficult since the start of the year- and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what I am about to list is the full reason for my melancholy- but I’m sure it hasn’t helped.

  • A friend’s daughter committed suicide in January- though not personally affected by her loss, the impact on my mental health and ability to keep myself safe has been, and still is huge.
  • Another person I know has started treatment for anorexia. Her pictures and stories on Facebook have been hugely triggering for me- I know I need to block them- but like a moth to a light bulb I’m drawn to them…
  • My elderly neighbour with Alzheimers has been put in to a care home against her will. I have visited her every day for nearly 10 years- she is now gone. I’ve been to the care home to see her and it is just awful. I came out of there on Saturday and just wept- wept for her, and wept for myself, as I see before me my fear of what might happen to me…
  • School/Work has been awful (and still is) At times really unpleasant. I’ve felt betrayed by people I thought were friends and been stabbed in the back by parents whom I have gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping… I’ve felt rejected and abandoned and have hurtled in to fear of bankruptcy and losing my house… I don’t feel positive enough to stem the negative tide… I can only see the ongoing trajectory as downward…
  • I am working so hard (some things that I wish I wasn’t having to work at), so I live with the constant tension of not actually doing a good enough job at any of what I am having to do…
  • My studies (my treat) is being totally neglected
  • I am still trying to adapt to the new arrangements I have/ need to have with close buddies who now have children
  • I am on count down to having to stop with my psychiatrist due to re-structuring in the Trust. I have seen him for 12 years- never a good time to stop, but it really doesn’t feel like the right time to stop either
  • Plus, a couple of other things that I choose not to blog about…

Actually as I write this I realise I feel depressed. I’ve had other times in life that have been tricky, but I’ve not felt like this. I am filled with doom about the future. I can’t see a way through. I haven’t the energy to fight at the moment. Things that were more natural to me aren’t anymore. The black cloud has tightened it’s grip a bit. So this post hasn’t developed the way I thought it would… I didn’t expect to write this last paragraph- but that’s good- that’s why I blog, it helps me process, and this process has taken me to a slightly unexpected place… so I’m going to stop here and get back to where I started, focus on my breathing.

Thanks for listening

 

 

 

A weekend off!

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It is 6.30am. I am at the airport. I’m drinking the most expensive tea I’ve had for ages and a skinny muffin- which is not skinny- but is not giant!

Im waiting for my two buddies who I know from Bulgaria- and quite bizarrely I am off to Poland for the weekend. It seemed a good idea when we planned it in the summer!

Ive never been to a Christmas Market. In the spirit of- let’s embrace life- this was booked and here I am.

Min the mean time life has happened. My brother has been very poorly and his prognosis is not good. I’ve lost the sight in one of my eyes and I haven’t felt this stressed in a long time. Readers will know I battle depression on a fairly regular basis but it is not that often that I feel stressed- pain in my chest stressed. Can’t breathe- stressed. But at the moment I do.

I could have cancelled. But I haven’t. I have decided that I will have the weekend off from all the pain and rubbish that I’m swimming in. My friends do not now about my brother or my eye- and I don’t intend to tell them. I’m taking the weeken off!

I am going to do my best to see the sights, smell the smells, taste the tastes of the Christmas market. I am going to consciously be a tourist in every sense of the word. I’m not sure if I will succeed- but I will try. Because I know full well, it will all still be waiting for me when I get back.

My situation at home is not a temporary one. So I have to manage it. My strategy for this weekend is try and breathe and be present. We shall see!

Thanks for listening.

what’s different?

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At the start of the holidays, I was chatting with Florence. She observed that I was not physically unwell this holiday (apart from a chest/ cough thingy that doesn’t really count as being ill in my book!). We talked about how I had possibly managed work this term differently… it has always been quite common that I will get through term (I am a teacher) and then as soon as the holidays start my body will protest and cause me grief.

It has got me thinking about what I have done differently this term. Because of course I want to carry it on and get even better!

Some of my initial thoughts are

1) I increased my medication. I knew that I hit a low point in October. I didn’t ignore it. I told my Doctor and we made a plan which I followed… big tick and smiley face

2) I stopped when I got physically poorly at the end of term with a bad chest. I realise not quite as long as my body most probably needed but I definitely stopped. Big wow, can’t quite believe I actually did that- big tick and smiley face

3) Virtually every week, even when things have been quite busy I have managed a 24 hour fast from work and the computer. Have found this very tricky, and even if I haven’t physically worked, switching my brain off from work has been fairly unsuccessful- however, I have tried to put into place structures that should help me rest. 24 hours- no work. Not a set day necessarily, but a look at the clock and a decision to not work for 24 whole hours. Not quite a big tick for success, but a huge tick for even trying!!!

4) I have journaled and blogged. My journal is for myself and it is all the stuff that I can’t blog about! But it has been a big release for me. I can’t recommend journalling enough- it’s nothing to do with being a good writer, it’s about being honest. I have been taught in the Lucia Capacchione method. http://www.healthy.net/creativejournal/ by Ann Beazer of http://www.annbeazer.com

Ann’s workshops are just brilliant. Tick, need to do more, but tick for trying

5) One of the biggest differences. I have found my purpose. I feel like a round peg in a round hole. My work energises me. The people I work with spur me on (my colleagues not all my staff yet!). I am being challenged intellectually, personally and strategically. I have vision. I am excited. Big big tick. Taken me about 20 years to get to this place, but I’m on the right track. Hepzibah, you’ve done good. 

I’ve made lots of mistakes this term: professionally and personally. But I won’t be disabled or condemned by them. I will use them to make next term even more peaceful for myself.

Thanks for listening.

Doing it differently

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‘Don’t expect a different outcome if you carry on doing things the same way’.
This is a poor paraphrase of a quote by Joyce Meyer, but I know what I mean!!!

Someone else also said that a sign madness was to carry on doing the same thing and expecting the result to be different.

I remember this quote was the basis of one of my first ever blogs on this site. I was so challenged by the concept that if I wanted things to be different , either I had to be different, or act differently… Doing the same old thing was going to produce the same old results.

Obvious? …Well, yes…
Easy? … Well, no…
Possible?… Definitely…
Challenging?… Yes…
Worth it… YES, YES, YES…

I spent a long time yesterday chatting to a precious friend- and I could hear myself saying often, I need to do this holiday differently. I need to respond differently, I need to be prepared for it to be different… Florence asked me what this looked like… Exactly the question I needed. More of that in a future post!

Historically, school holidays have been difficult for me. This started when I was at school myself and as a teacher, the pattern has continued. I always think I must be one of the few teachers who don’t like the long holidays! I now work in an independent school and they are even longer!!!!

Previously, I have often been physically poorly in the holidays. My body holds on until the first day of the holiday and then wham bam my body protests violently at the stress I’ve put it under. Last Christmas was particularly difficult with my eye sight. It wasn’t great.

I broke up from work on Friday. I was out in the evening and went to bed relatively late for me. I then did something I haven’t done for a while. I was too frightened to go to sleep. I kept myself awake. I know, a bit bizarre- but I used to do that when I was very depressed. I used to find waking up to the black cloud suffocating me so awful, I preferred to keep awake so I didn’t have to wake up.

I knew if I was going to have eye problems, Saturday morning was likely. Of course, I eventually fell asleep with lights and tele on! And amazingly, my eyes are ok. I have got a fair chance of trying to do this holiday differently. And I am. End of. I am changing. Full stop.

I hope to blog a lot this holiday, I hope we can encourage each other to do it differently.

Thanks for listening.

back to the title- it really is an illness

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My blog is entitled from BP to BPD to DBT… from Bipolar to Borderline Personality Disorder to Dialectical Behaviour Therapy… what a mouthful! I won’t go over all this again, but feel free to read my first few posts to get the background!

I haven’t quite got the energy to go over everything of the last couple of weeks, suffice to say, that my diagnosis has been reverted back to bipolar disorder, more specifically cyclothymia. I have increased my medication (which is helping) and I need to decide whether I start lithium. I plan to talk this through with friends, however, the issue being I don’t quite have the energy to talk about it!

The purpose of this post, is for me to clarify my own thoughts about mental illness. I had an awful day a couple of Saturdays ago when I think I really saw clearly that depression is an illness. An awful. Thieving. Rotten illness.

I saw Penelope after a break of 3 weeks. I think she realised quite quickly that I was not in such a good place. And as I would want and expect she was pretty tough on me. She acknowledged my situation but she wasn’t really having any of it. Wallowing in my sadness was no way on her agenda. We made plans, set agendas, agreed agreements and armed me with my homework which was basically, get out of bed, go walking, eat more fruit and veg, cut out refined sugar and talk to people. If only it were that easy.

The next morning I got myself out of bed before our agreed time…. tick. I went for a briskest walk…. tick. Came home, was feeling great. Sorted. The skills work!!!! I can do this!!! I can beat this!!! Just do as I’m told and I’ll be ok. I won’t get bad again because I’ve done DBT, I have Penelope. I can do this!!! I was almost excited with the potential of change.

15 mins later, I am in a black heap paralysed on my sofa. It didn’t last. Getting up and going for a walk, hadn’t cured me. It was still only 9.30 I was dying. I couldn’t understand it. If I was making up feeling depressed and then did the right thing, surely I wouldn’t feel like this. I was floored. Unfortunately I remained floored most of that weekend.

At my next session we talked through what had happened.

a) I still am in a place where I think I am making things up 😦

b) I had utterly unrealistic expectations. I thought getting up and walking would make the day ok. It didn’t- it made that hour or so manageable, but it was never going to be a cure.

c) I have the skills, but managing depression is a moment by moment condition. After the walk when I dipped, I should have then worked on some more skills. I should have continued to self-soothe and distract. Instead I couldn’t understand why I was like the way I was. and it spiralled. Unfortunately into some self-destructive behaviour (sorry 😦 )

d) depression is an illness. it doesn’t always play by the rules. It needs continuous treatment when in an acute episode and it needs preventative treatment when not in crisis.

e) we discussed that whether I have BP or BPD is irrelevant in one sense. I currently have a mood disorder that means I have to be aware of it all the time. That is actually quite freeing. Thinking in terms of well/ not well… doesn’t help me. When I feel ‘well’ I want to forget/ deny my struggles, the issue with that is when I am not so well, it comes as such a shock.

I’m learning.

Thanks for listening.

Side by side

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This week has been a new experience for me. I have been trying to marry my sadness at the loss of my brother’s dog- both the dog itself but more painfully the impact on my brother, while at the same time also trying to accept and live in the moment of all the great things that I am doing and getting on with.

The balance of both sadness and lots of joy has been a new and tricky situation for me. In times past, on the whole things would either be absolutely awful or absolutely amazing. This week I find that both are occurring simultaneously for me- and I have found it difficult to manage- mainly because I manage my life by compartmentalising everything, everyone and myself!

I have not seen Penelope for 3 weeks. And I have been thinking about my upcoming session on Friday. What do I tell her… Where do I start? Do I let my grief be the focus of the session or do I spend some time telling her all the massive strides I have taken forward? Well, in line with dialectics I will obviously do both. Because both are equally valid and equally true.

I remember a previous therapist saying to me once, that one of the hardest things can be to accept that someone has been both horrible to you and at times nice. That confusion throws me at times- but it is working with the grey. I tend to box people into competent- incompetent, generous-stingy, capable- incapable… And actually sometimes people including myself can vary on that spectrum.

On Monday I felt paralysed by my emotional pain. Everything I had been working on seemed Sooo pointless. By Tuesday I was able to accept more that Nellie dying is absolutely awful, but that doesn’t have to negate everything else. Yesterday I was very wobbly and today I’ve identified my struggle of two things going on at the same time. That is really helpful.

Hair cuts, jewellery, clothes, making soups and eyebrows seem so unbelievably pointless when I think about my brother. And in many ways yes they are. But I’ve had glimpses that sometimes the more mundane things in life are the things that enable to you keep going when the bigger things are shaken. Going grocery shopping, washing up, having a shower are part of the rhythms that may help stop a potential crash.

I have had to accept that Nellie has died and i am trying to accept that my brother will respond the way he chooses to respond. I have had to put into practice the skills of self-soothing and distress tolerance in a way I haven’t had to for quite a while. I am tired, very shaky and vulnerable. But I have also known what I have needed to do to manage. I’ve been exercising, cooking, watching films, sitting outside, tidying up. Apart from one day I haven’t totally collapsed- which is wonderful 🙂

Thank you for all your thoughts.

Thanks for listening.

Hepzibah.