Tag: anti-depressants

A bad day and the impossible task

I already knew last night that today was going to be a bad day.

“Why didn’t you do something pre-emptive to stop it then, you daft cow?” (those are my words, and maybe what you’re thinking too.)

Unfortunately it was too late. I was lying in bed, fretting, listening to the husband snore, reading a blog I’ve become ridiculously immersed in (I think I’m as far back as 2013 posts from this woman now; her family story is fascinating and her writing is really engaging and fun) and wondering why I couldn’t sleep despite my body feeling so so ready for slumber.

Knowing I needed to sleep was one of my problems. I had a second interview for a job this morning, over the telephone, and I wanted to be well rested and coherent instead of a mumbling sleepy mess. We’ve been away at a music festival this weekend, an indoor one. There’s been drinking and lack of sleep and less quality sleep than when I’m at home. My diet has been poor. I lay there berating myself for a weekend of unadulterated fun, which is ridiculous! But this happens to me often. After gigs, and weekends away, and holidays.

“Did I enjoy myself enough?”

“Did I make the best of it?”

“Why did I spend so much money?”

“What could or should I have done differently?”

It’s an exhausting thought process.

If you follow me on Instagram I posted last week that I’ve been something of a recluse while I’ve been off work; pretty much just hanging out at home. It’s all cool, it’s through choice. But I had a lovely day out shopping on Thursday, then lunch with my Mom on Friday. I’d been invited to the afore mentioned second interview, after successfully navigating the first one earlier in the week. The husband and I had an end of summer barbecue on Friday night and sat outside til late with the chimnea burning. Then we were away Saturday and Sunday, catching up with friends and having a lot of fun. I hardly saw any of the bands because it was so hot in the venue and I was so aware that the good weather might be the last sign of summer that I didn’t want to hide away inside (I didn’t love the bands that were playing anyway, I was always going more for the social side). “Was that a mistake?” wondered my tired brain. “Should I have spent more time listening to music than socialising with people I don’t see very often?” Yep, an unsettled mind is fantastic for analysing things it’s too late to do anything about.

After such a good few days, maybe it was inevitable that I’d crash and burn today? I’d had really odd dreams and it was barely daylight when the alarm went off (grey days really drag me down anyway, I feel my mood slide).

Plus, stupidly, I’d run out of anti-depressants. I had a repeat prescription, but hadn’t collected the tablets. Now I don’t for one minute think that the benefits of anti-depressants leave your body in just two days of not taking them, but it’s always nice from a mental point of view to know you’ve got that extra bit of serotonin support when you’re feeling a bit wiped out. I knew I’d need to leave the house today and fetch the prescription; preferably sooner rather than later.

Up I got, with the husband, saw him off to work, fired up my laptop and my CV and collected my notes ready for my interview. It went well, I was happy with my responses and, if I don’t get any further in the recruitment process, I’ll know that I did my best. I really want to get further, because it’s a company I would really like to work for, but as long as I have no regrets in how I conducted myself in the two interviews, I can’t do any more.

And then, it happened. Flatness. Emptiness. Inability to adult. Operating like a normal person was today’s “Impossible Task”.

I read about the Impossible Task recently on Twitter, and it’s gone viral as so many people can identify with the tweet and the sentiment behind it.

Impossible Task tweet

Depression isn’t all crying and sadness (or being Mrs Angry, in my case). It can also comprise of inability to do things you need to do, things you’ve done a thousand times, because they are impossible at that point in time.

You can read the tweets and more about it in this article from Stylist magazine.

So, there I was, facing my Impossible Task. I knew that even the immediate placebo effect of taking a Prozac would help to level me out, but the thought of leaving the house to get them was too much. I went back to bed under the proviso of being cold. I spoke to the husband on his lunchbreak who told me to get up and go and fetch my tablets. I told him I would, but I closed the curtains and went to sleep for an hour. I woke up and sat in the dark for another hour (reading that blasted blog!)

Then I realised there was no-one to help me with my Impossible Task. The husband was at work. I couldn’t expect him to come home and go back out again to fetch my prescription. The house was a mess. And me moping in bed not only isn’t helping, it’s also unfair on the husband.

So I dragged my carcass out of my pit, had a manic tidy up, sorted some washing out, had a shower and even brushed my hair. I went to the supermarket, then I fetched my tablets. And, even before I’d taken one, I felt better. I’d overcome what I thought I couldn’t do earlier today.

I’m not saying this was a depressive episode, because that belittles depressive episodes, and I’ve gone through them enough to know you don’t get over them in one day simply by making the decision to. But it was symptomatic of not practising self care, and also my circumstances. My garden leave is officially over as of the end of last week, so I’m no longer in paid employment. That’s pretty scary. I’m probably pinning more hopes on the job I’m interviewing for than I should, and I don’t have lots of irons in the fire elsewhere right now. This is likely to be situational depression. A feeling of not being good enough that’s come to a head because I didn’t have a job to go to and I allowed myself to retreat inside my own head where things feel worse than they are.

We’re going on holiday on Saturday, for our 10th wedding anniversary trip. We’ve talked about going to Santorini for over 13 years, and it’s been booked since August last year. Me being a dick and feeling all sorry for myself isn’t going to change the situation, or get me a job, but it could well ruin my holiday. You bet I’ll be putting those packets of Prozac in every single pocket and bag when I’m packing for our trip. Placebo or not, I’d like to be married for another 10 years thanks.

This has been cathartic. If you’ve got this far then thanks, as always, for reading. x

Mental Health Awareness Week – do I still have depression?

I’ve purposely stayed out of the MHAW blog posts and tweets so far because I don’t really have anything to add that doesn’t look like bandwagon jumping just for views or likes. But I was inspired to write this by an article written by Fiona Thomas for Metro newspaper.

I don’t have imposter syndrome, by the way. That would be more bandwagon jumping.

I’ve shared my early depression experiences and diagnosis previously. I talked about how I had a wobble a few years back when coming off my tablets without supervision.

Now? I’m not depressed. At all. I have a happy marriage, a beautiful home, a settled job with great work colleagues and an understanding manager. I get to go on plenty of holidays and trips, I have a loving and supportive family and a network of friends who know and accept me for who I am, warts and all.

Me

But do I still have depression?

Is depression like an infection, where you take tablets and then it’s cured? Or is it like diabetes (for example) where it will probably need to be managed for the rest of your life? Everyone is different, I guess. Some people fully recover. Some people will relapse or have recurring episodes throughout their life. Me? I’m scared to find out. After afore-mentioned wobble, which put a deep – if temporary – chasm in my marriage, I’m not really in the market for testing my mental health by coming off my tablets. Maybe that’s irresponsible. I don’t care. I’ve been on them for long enough now that they’re part of me, and I’ve never noticed any effects (apart from the obvious and much wanted positive ones) that have made me feel a need to stop taking them (apart from that one fated time, I know I mention it a lot but it was horrible). Not everyone is so lucky, and I appreciate that. For some people, the side effects of anti-depressants can be worse than the reason for taking them. A lot of people have to trial different variants before they find one that suits them. Not me. Prozac and I got along very well right from the beginning.

But, as I said, I’m not depressed. I can’t imagine ever feeling so desolate and bleak as I did when I first started taking tablets. Sometimes I even wonder “was it that bad?” – it’s such a long time ago, literally and figuratively. But of course it was that bad, at the time. You don’t take 3 weeks off work unable to face real life if you’re just feeling a bit low. You don’t think that it would be quite a relief to not be around anymore as long as you get to say your I love yous and goodbyes to people first.

And yes I still have low days, days where I feel shitty and I want the world to stop so I can get off, days where everything is an effort, days where I’m so caught up in my own thoughts that I want to just be left alone. I don’t class those days as part of my depression. I class them as just rough days, that everybody has, right? Or do they? I also blogged recently about not really knowing who I am because I’ve been on Prozac and the contraceptive pill for such a long time. So is a sad day, a flat day, a can’t be fucking arsed day simply a controlled by pills depression day?

Who knows?! (it’s bloody complex, being a human.)

So, if I’m not depressed but I still take a daily tablet for fear of returning to that space, how do I class myself? And because I’m not actively living it, and haven’t for a long time, is it even worth me participating in the conversation? There are people with much worse experiences than me, in the here and now.

My conclusion is that I don’t need to label myself. It doesn’t matter, right now, to have a category to fit into. The important thing is that I’m mentally stable (in the most part). I had my diagnosis, a long time ago, which put me on a treatment path which levelled me out. Long may that path continue, whatever it’s called.

PS. The lovely Tina from T is for Tina has written a very apt post in relation to MHAW. As she correctly states, “we all have a mental health, and we all need to look after ourselves and learn to put ourselves first sometimes.” Regardless of whether or not you have a diagnosed mental illness or condition, it’s important for everyone to to look after their own mental wellbeing. MHAW isn’t just to acknowledge people who’s brains are a bit wonky (I’m being flippant, not rude). It should also exist to remind everyone to take care of themselves. Say no when you want to, create some me time and indulge in things that make you happy. Your brain deserves it.

Read Tina’s full post here.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

A post about mental health, for World Health Day

Well, lookie here, no fancy pants title or trying to be funny.

Then again, mental illness isn’t funny.

It’s also nothing to be ashamed of.

I’ve been on anti-depressants for many years. That isn’t supposed to sound as flippantly blasé as I know it does, but it’s a fact. And facts are important.

Ironically, the “face” of depression – the weeping, wailing, staying in bed all day – is about as far away from my symptoms as can be. I did go through a period like that, after I’d been diagnosed but before I started taking medication. I had 3 weeks off work, slept all day and lived on cereal. I also used to laugh with my friends on the phone and go out clubbing. There was a real dichotomy to my diagnosis.

But, for me, mostly, depression is about anger, irritation and the inability to deal with normal situations in a rational way. An overwhelming overwhelmedness.

I had started to be this irrational, short tempered, irritable person who snapped at nothing and everything. I couldn’t see it myself. I was living with my Mom at the time, after she and my Dad had separated, and inevitably most mornings would wind up with her in tears and me thinking it was all her fault. During a brief moment of clarity when I realised perhaps I was partly to blame, I booked an appointment with my doctor. Where I spilled everything and had a good cry to boot.

Being diagnosed with depression when you’re not that weeping wailing ball of sadness that you associate with the illness is a weird one. I had no intention of taking the anti-depressants prescribed by the doctor, because it was obviously just a phase and it would pass. Besides, people on anti-depressants were generally nutters, right? It wasn’t a category I wanted to associate myself with. But the situation worsened over the course of a week and came to something of a crescendo when I threatened to take a packet of Nurofen if my Mom didn’t back off. She carted me off to the pharmacy, with the much hated prescription in hand, and made me take my first tablet there and then.

It would be overly dramatic to say she saved my life, because I wouldn’t really have taken the Nurofen (I think there was only a few in the packet anyway), although there were times during the weeks that followed that I’d have been happy for it all to end. Not suicidal as in I wanted to deal the final blow, but if I could have stayed in bed and everyone came to say goodbye and then I just went to sleep, that would have been groovy. Of course that didn’t happen, and I’m rather glad. She certainly saved our relationship at that point in time, because there was no way we could have continued living together had things progressed any further.

Initially I went through the stigma of not wanting anyone to know and keeping it a secret. I shared it with a few people and then had it thrown back at me, by someone who should have known better, telling me that I had nothing to be depressed about and didn’t know what a hard life was all about.

But I’m not ashamed. I don’t declare it from the rooftops, but I’m open with friends if it comes up in conversation. My husband and I affectionately refer to my Prozac as my “loopy tablets” and they’re a source of relationship glue for both of us. I say that following an episode 2 years ago where I decided to come off them without telling anyone, because I was feeling strong, and unknowingly put our marriage under a lot of strain. Same situation – me being intolerable and nasty and short tempered but thinking he was to blame. Of course that’s not all that keeps our marriage together! But it certainly contributes to the stability of our marriage. Because, let’s face it, who wants to be legally stuck with someone who’s aggressive, accusatory and irrational?

I know you’re not supposed to be on anti-depressants for a prolonged period of time. But I’m also a great believer in knowing your own mind. I’ve been through times where I’ve taken a tablet every couple of days and felt fine. There are days when I take them religiously each day. There have been times when I’ve upped my dosage for a while (although always with a doctor’s consent). The key to me is doing what’s right for me, and what makes me feel ok. And, in the experience I’ve had with not taking them, I can honestly say I need them. Not an addiction, or falling apart at the seams if I miss one. But that little bit of connection between the wires of my brain that don’t quite match up makes me the “real me” and not the “angry me”. And why would I give that up just to not be a statistic?

I love this cartoon, which I’ve seen a number of times and totally sums it up, for me.

Depression cartoon

If I had diabetes, I wouldn’t not inject myself because of the stigma.

If I had a heart condition I wouldn’t refuse beta blockers because I didn’t want to be on them.

So if at some point in this journey of life my mind stopped working to it’s best ability, then I’m damn well going to give it everything it needs to bridge that gap – for my marriage, for my family, for my employers but, most importantly, for me.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x