Site under reconstruction

Not satisfied with a quick change I have gone for the full whack.  I also want to do this without closing the site down for any reason.  All content is still available all of the time.

It is driving me slightly insane at the moment as I have to update each individual post to create the site that I want.  Well, almost the site I want.

Continue reading

Anxiety and Me

It’s closing on two years since I got my real diagnosis of Generalised Anxiety Disorder.  I’d known for a long time that something was wrong.  I’d waken in the morning with a heavy body.  By that I mean a body that is wanting to stay in bed, stay safe and not have to deal with anything.  This didn’t happen every day but just now and again.

Continue reading

First anxiety and then a spring clean

I haven’t written a blog for a while.  Not because I had nothing to say, far from it, but I just didn’t have time.  Part of this was due to being ill at the start of the year and more recently there has been a Spring Clean at Fox Manor.  Yes, a good old fashioned proper spring clean that included hiring a skip.  Yes, a skip.  And a special uplift.

I don’t write about my anxiety that much, probably because I’m not ready to share much about it but I do have Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).  I wasa diagnosed in November 2013 but probably suffered it a lot longer than that. Everyone has bouts of anxiety for various reasons but when you have GAD you pretty much have anxiety all the time.  It is hard to explain how it feels.  It’s like your stomach constantly being in knots and nothing will take it away.  Sometimes relaxing is hard, very hard.  It’s frustrating being in situations that I feel I should be relaxing but it doesn’t happen.Anxiety

There’s also the fact that it’s quite possibly here for life.  There is no real cure but people can simply not suffer any more.

It’s absolutely exhausting as well.  Sometimes it just drains me to the point where I need to stop.  Anyone who suffers from GAD or any of the other anxieties will know how it feels.  And sometimes you can’t stop, you have to keep going.

So, at the beginning of the year that done me in.  I’m coping with it well at the moment, “managing” as it’s called.  I’m still anxious all the time but getting on with life at the same time.  So fingers crossed this spell of managing it lasts for a good length of time.  Optimism!

Trying to slip seamlessly from anxiety to spring cleaning was never going to happen so this sentence is telling you that I’m now going to talk about The Spring Clean.

Somewhere along the line of time someone started the notion of spring cleaning.  Gutting the house and tidying up.  Yes, well, this year I decided to go for the full on spring clean.  It had to be brutal, very brutal.  So brutal a skip was needed for the black bags and a few other things.full skip

Charities shops have benefitted from it well.  Books, clothes and various other things went there.  Huge amounts of clothes into the bin because they weren’t fit for purpose.  This actually surprised me.  Every couple of years I have what I call “a brutal clear out” of my clothes so I thought I had pretty much whittled down my clothes to what I actually wore.  No.  So that was sorted out.

Shoes, boots and handbags! Never knew I had so many.  Not any more though, they’ve either gone to charity or in the bin.  I think I’ve got one handbag left.  Although there is a wardrobe I haven’t tackled yet…

What’s a spring clean if you don’t decide to throw out some furniture? It’s a spring clean best avoided.  This year a bed, a mattress and two sofas went out and in came new sofas (reclining as well – HIGHLY recommend it!) and a sofa bed.  Out went the old telly, in came the new one.  So big it almost feels like I’m on the holodeck on the Starship Enterprise (so currently I’m on a tennis court in Miami).

I’ve never been so knackered in all my life.  The majority of the work was done in two days, my two days off, and on the third day off (annual leave) I did very little other than collect my replacement laptop.

So it was a lot of up and down stairs with black bags and various bits of other things.  I think the best(!) bit was humping two heavy sofas down stairs and round to the back garden with my dad.  If anything else it was a laugh.

to me to you

To me, to you

Is it over? No.  Tomorrow sees the re-enactment of the Chuckle Brothers to me, to you with my dad and myself having to humph everything to the street for collection.  Then it’ll finally be over.  Next big spring clean? Whenever Halley’s Comet is next due…


What is normal?

What is normal? I’m not sure but if there is such a thing then I have to imagine that anyone who doesn’t fall into that category is unique and that is much better than being normal. Normal is something created by those who don’t wish to believe there is a problem. So if you say “I have depression” some people will decide that you are different but actually you are just “normal”. Every one, and I mean everyone, has something different going on. So there is no normal. Not really. In reality you are human. Humans have flaws.  If there was such a thing as normal then it would mean that a certain percentage of humans were all alike.  Which would make everyone else abnormal and because some people do think like that, this is why we have stigmas over such things as mental health.

Everyone has a routine that they probably stick to every day such as getting up at six AM, walk the dog, have breakfast go to work and for the person who does that that is their normal routine but it might be abnormal to someone else who would never consider getting up at six AM, believing it to be an abnormal time of the day.  You’ll often hear someone speak of getting up early and the response they get is “What? That’s the middle of the night?!” This person who wouldn’t dream of getting up at six AM might literally roll out of bed half an hour before work, get dressed and leave the house with a piece of toast in their hand to eat while getting the bus to work.  That might be their normal routine but for the person who gets up at six AM to walk the dog, this rushing around routine is abnormal, simply because it is not the same as their normal.

Each and every person has their own thoughts and views on things.  Other people will consider their views on things normal, others won’t.

What I find when I talk to other people who have depression or anxiety disorders is that many of them feel they are not normal.  When I ask them why I get varied answers, they believe they don’t feel like other people, they don’t feel the same as before, they feel that people look at them differently, they feel different from they did before.  When I ask how they felt before they often answer “normal”.

This is a problem.  If you slide on some ice and break your ankle, you feel like you did before (maybe feeling slightly silly!) but for a few weeks you’ll not be able to work and you’ll have a cast on.  When it initially happens you will be seen immediately at the hospital.  Your ankle will be set, you’ll be referred to physios.  You might even get a nice set of crutches to keep you upright while you cope with this change in your well-being.

When you see your friends you’ll laugh and joke about how you fell, they’ll call you Hop-a-long or tease in some other way.  Life will be altered for a few weeks.  You won’t be able to bath or shower as you did before, you’ll maybe need a hand to do certain tasks but in a few weeks your cast comes off, the physio strengthens your ankle and you’re back as you were before.

Then you have someone who goes to their doctor because they’re having panic attacks or they’re in low mood, maybe thinking strange thoughts whatever it is but they know something has changed.  There may be no outward change in them.  They may still smile at the doctor as they sit down, there’s no sign anything is wrong.

The doctor may acknowledge anxiety issues or depression and perhaps start you on a low dose of some medication, give you some tips on managing what you have.  They may sign you off work to give yourself some breathing space.  Everyone will have different experiences of that first trip to the doctors.

So, you try the tablets and they work for a bit.  Then they stop working and the feelings come back again.  You return to your doctor, maybe the dose gets put up.  You explain to your doctor that something isn’t right, even explain the situations that set off a panic attack and your doctor will try to suggest ways of relaxing or removing yourself from that situation.

Even if your doctor refers you to the Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) early it could still be weeks before you get an appointment.  That person with the broken ankle might already have their cast off before you first see your CPN.

While you wait on that appointment coming through you could still be off work or carrying on but things change.  You feel, perhaps, like you don’t matter.  What has happened to you is insignificant in the grand scheme of things and if anyone in the medical profession cared about your illness then you wouldn’t wait for up to fifteen weeks or more.  Fifteen weeks was my worst case scenario.  You’d have that appointment immediately or within a couple of days.

It doesn’t happen like that.  Your doctor gives you tips and websites and ideas about community groups.  It’s not that your doctor doesn’t care, it’s just that their hands are tied.  Once they’ve referred you, your appointment with your CPN is in someone else’s hands.

Everyone, of course has different experiences in the first few weeks of a diagnosis.  Some people can largely get on with things and no one really notices that they’re battling inside.

Other people withdraw.  They don’t go to work, social events, they don’t keep in touch with friends and end up losing them.  A whole variety of things and people looked at them and don’t see the illness because it doesn’t show on the outside.  They just see a person who doesn’t go out any more.  Not why they don’t but just that they don’t.  Of course, not everyone thinks that way.  Many people who suffered from depression or anxiety have friends and family who are supportive but while they have that they can still feel that they are different.  Again, not normal.

I know from personal experience that I can speak to people I meet in the street or even acquaintances and think to myself “why don’t they have it? Why me?”.  Of course, in many cases that person maybe does have diagnosis of depression or anxiety but because it’s still so stigmatised, people don’t talk about it.

If you were out walking your dog and you had a slight limp you might stop and talk to another dog walker who’ll comment on your limp and you might reply you’ve arthritis or you sat too long and your leg is still asleep.  That same person meets another dog owner who clearly hasn’t washed that day and whose hair is greasy but they won’t comment on it.  That person might be desperate to speak about it.  To say that they struggled to get out of bed that morning, never mind have a shower and put on clean clothes.

This is why people with depression and/or anxiety often feel that they are not “normal”.  They are the same person they always were, but they have been diagnosed with an illness that no one seems to want to tackle.  That person who broke their ankle is still the same person but with a broken ankle.  The person with depression is also the same person but with depression.

People will talk all day about the broken ankle but try and sit down with someone who won’t face up to someone having a mental health issue.  It won’t happen.  This is why the stigma must end and why we must push for better initial care for people who are diagnosed with a mental health issue.

Ankle broken? Fine. Mind broken? Does not compute.

Over recent weeks I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I have a mental health condition.  It started off as anxiety but it has worked its way into that plus depression.  It’s not great.  One sets off the other, all the time.

I feel anxious about a situation which leads me to believe that it won’t get better and the depression kicks in, it won’t get better because of this or that.  I go to bed.

I feel depressed about something.  I think about it too much and then the anxiety kicks in of how I will deal with that situation and when I think I can’t.  I go to bed.

It’s not great.  Bed is this place I feel safe.  I don’t have to be asleep – I just feel safe.

At the moment my medication has been increased for the third time and I am getting used to it.  Getting used to it means being sleepy, if not sleeping, for twenty-four hours of every day.  It means not going out sometimes and having to deal with that.

It means that some days I look at pictures of people doing things I would normally be doing and feeling jealous.  I feel angry at that person because they are doing something I want to be doing.  It’s not their fault, it’s not even mine.

So then I start to get angry at something else.  The way that people who have Mental Health issues are treated.

My problems came to light in November, as I wrote before.

So imagine on that Monday where it all kicked in was different.  Imagine I had fallen in the street and broken my ankle.

Here’s how it goes: I would have been taken to hospital.  I would have had the ankle reset and dressed and I would have been given a referral to follow-up appointments and physio.  I would have been given a plan on how to get through the next few weeks.  I would have an estimated return to work and access to a team to help me get there.  I would have been supported all the way to return to work within a couple of months or a few weeks, however it’s put.

What actually happened was: In September I ended up in hospital with a panic attack.  Lovely advice from the people involved but no further help offered.

In November, after the event on the Monday, I contacted my own doctor.  We had a chat, I was signed off sick, put on ACE Inhibitors.  They worked, for a bit.  They calm the heart so therefore calm anxiety feelings.  Or they can.

I changed doctors, to my current one.  He is amazing and I would say not one thing against him.  He listens, he advises, but he needs me out his office as soon as he can, no longer than fifteen-twenty minutes because this is how it is.  He has other patients to see.  I know that.

The problem is this: my doctor has now increased my medication twice.  He has to do this because there is nothing else he can do.  He can’t refer me to anyone that is immediate; it takes weeks.  So he has to try to help me in the here and now.  That means I am so sleepy I can hardly walk at times.  Bed is the best place to be because I can sleep it off.  It feels like I am being punished.  The higher dose works, as it should, for me, but the effects are terrible for me if I want to live a normal life.

Can you imagine breaking your ankle, then going to hospital to be told it’s OK and to go home, see your GP and then have your GP have to palm you off for three months with pain killers before he’ll refer you to try and get it fixed? It wouldn’t happen.  It doesn’t happen.

Why is a broken ankle any different from a broken mind?