Sunday, January 31, 2016

Text, TV and Talk

Three simple tasks are in the spotlight today because at the beginning of my breakdown they baffled me! Once I started my medication they just became more confusing and caused much stress.

Text- I'd receive a text and be unable to make sense of what was on the screen. If I put all my concentration into reading a short, simple text I would forget what it said or who had sent it as soon as I began to attempt a reply. What I wrote made no sense and I couldn't even read it back and work it out myself. It caused a literal headache and much frustration. My phone screen always looked blurred and too bright. On top of all that I didn't feel like engaging with people, didn't know what to write back and mostly didn't care. My phone irritated me so much and it was about six week before I could handle looking at the screen without it confusing me.

TV- I liked to have the television on to help with the tinnitus I was experiencing as a side effect of my medication. I didn't pay attention to the programmes though. I couldn't follow a storyline and I didn't have the attention span or listening power to properly watch anything. I had to be very careful what I watched too. Anything that showed conflict, surreal ideas or anything that involved crime made me
 really paranoid and frightened. I had strange dreams about them that I thought might be real. If I watched chat shows with conflict on them I felt really overwhelmed and upset. Not to mention charity adverts that made me feel powerless. I'm quite sensitive and feel deeply for people but with depression on top the wrong TV show could tip me over the edge.

Talk- One of the side effects of my illness was that I couldn't quite get my words out, my speech was slurred, lifeless and slower and I easily became confused and frustrated. With medication on top I struggled to string sentences together even more and conversations confused and irritated me. They were mentally exhausting. Sometimes it was nice just to sit with people who knew I wasn't up to speaking and just be together. You can still spend quality time with people without long, deep conversations but this took time.

At first I felt as though I had lost my intelligence and was deteriorating. I over analyzed everything or just didn't understand it, both scenarios were very upsetting. It's hard to believe that this was all quite natural. Depression physically rewires your brain and blocks receptors making the simplest things feel like the hardest tasks. My medication joined in with the rewiring and with lack of sleep and anxiety on top I just couldn't function. It is scary but it is your body and mind adjusting so that it can cope.

Much love,
Becky xx

Monday, January 25, 2016

Explaining depression to a young child

I think this is a really tough subject to cover. I've had to explain bereavement and illnesses to young children but as I am not a parent I haven't had to explain my depression. I have worked with young children for 8 years including children who experienced some really tough times and needed a lot of support. I have also been the child of someone suffering with depression and know how it feels from their point of view. I feel as though I have enough to share some ideas that may be helpful when talking to young children and a few things to consider.

Worry and change
When you suffer with depression it is noticeable how much your routine and behaviour changes to your loved ones. Somethings may be subtle but others are blatant. Children pick up on this. It is important to keep them up to date with what is happening. Telling them you need to go lie down or you're going to eat your lunch a bit later can help to reduce worry about changes and routine differing.

Feeling left out
It is common to push people away when you are depressed whether you realise it or not. You may become quieter, less able to join in and follow conversation, tired and want to be alone. Make sure you still cuddle your child, tell them you love them and are proud of them. Sit with them while they play or do an activity together. You may think your child will struggle to see you like this but they will struggle more if they feel suddenly ignored or notice you aren't around them as much. 

My child often looks concerned
Children like to know what they can do in situations and what is expected of them when change comes about. It also helps stop them feeling pushed away. You could give them a job like "if I look sad you could give me a big cuddle" or "if I'm sleepy will you get me a teddy bear and read us a book."
You can also give them a distraction. If you feel you need space on your own or want to be left alone you could ask them to "draw a picture for when I come back. I won't be long." Remind children that you will be back soon when you spend time away during the day.

What are those tablets?
I asked at a young age what the tablets did and remember the person saying "I don't want her to see me taking them", putting them back in the cupboard and leaving the room. I completely understand this now and felt this myself but at that young age I was alarmed. I knew tablets were for when you are poorly and I didn't know what was wrong. Young children are switched on enough to know things like this as well as when you make something up or avoid answering a question.
You could possibly say "they are my tablets to make me better because my head is poorly, it's making me feel sad but I'll be ok soon." 
It's easier to explain depression to children as sad even though that's not the dominant feeling for the majority. Talking about your 'mind' is not a concept they can grasp easily. It is extremely important if you use the word sad to tell them that they make you feel very happy and so do other people around you like family and friends. They may get confused that they are making you sad if you don't follow this up.

Always keep any medication out of children's reach, explain they are not for them to eat because they can make them poorly and that these tablets are only for you because the doctor said that's ok. Alternatively you could take medication out of sight from your child and avoid having to explain them,

How do I word it?
Simply and honestly. It may seem hard but saying "nothing's wrong" or "the doctor says I have depression" will only give them more to worry about or they won't understand. Try something simple like "I went to the doctors, because I felt a little poorly and sad. They said I need to do some getting better. I'll be ok but I might need lots of sleep. You could give me cuddles because that makes me happy and feel better." If they ask questions use examples they know "my tablets make me feel better like when you had medicine for your poorly tummy" or "you needed to sleep lots with your poorly tummy too, that's why I need sleep, to get better." Reassure them that you will get better and that they make you feel happy.

They don't understand.
Don't worry. If they look confused it's explainable. It's hard to work depression out for yourself never mind tell others. Let them ask questions and try to answer them the best you can again simply and change words to suit their age and knowledge.
Some children, for many different reasons, may not be as able to pick up on signs or ask questions but they will notice more than you think. Make sure you are still around, having cuddles and playing with them or helping with their routine wherever you can.

I don't want them to see me like this.
That is completely normal. I didn't want to burden others and it upset me whether young children in the family would sense it but seeing them really brightened me up. They gave me strength to put on a happy face and carry on with them as normal even though on the inside I was struggling. This may not have been the same with children of my own as I would have needed to keep this up 24/7.

I don't want my child to think I am poorly.
Some children may relate illness to hospital or death due to experiences they have already had or may understand that 'poorly' is worrying. Choosing words wisely and constantly reassuring them is the best way to conquer this. Use examples like "do you remember when you fell over and your knee was poorly, you got better didn't you, that's like me, I'm getting better soon."

Do I have to do this myself?
No you don't. You may not be able to do any of this for a while or may really struggle with it but it's important that somebody does it. It needs to be a team effort from the people around them. Speak with your partner, close family, child's school or childcare and make sure you all stick to the same explanations. You may ask a relative to look after your child while you recover for short periods of time or to move in with you to help out. If you are a single parent it is important you have support from others. If you are a couple it is important you are on the same page.

Much love,
Becky xx

Friday, January 22, 2016

Alternative Ways to Achieve Happy Thoughts

Before I had my breakdown I'd tried many things to lift my mood. I felt I may be depressed for some time before this but thought I could manage it myself and wanted to do everything before medication. The only thing I've never wanted to try is counselling. That's a personal choice and I know a lot of people find help from counselling and therapy session. So here are all the non medication routes that I tried first and during my medication. I still try to eat healthier options, keep active, write this blog, concentrate on sleep and try my best to stay calm and relaxed. Here's what I tried...

Getting in a routine and sleep- this sounds obvious but your mood isn't going to be great if you're always rushing around unprepared and feeling tired. I've struggled with my sleep for a long time so I made sure the night before work I laid out my uniform and things for the morning and made a to do lists everyday to make sure I got things done. I've always been organised but get very lazy when I'm tired.

Hugs- I believe in 'hugging it out' I read that a 20 second hug with someone can both reduce stress levels and release your happy hormone Oxytocin. When I was really down I told my husband "I need cuddles" and I cuddled into my pillow when he was at work to make me feel more secure.

Keeping a diary- I've known a few people who put all their thoughts into a diary, I used to express feelings by writing song lyrics and poetry as a teen and now I write my blog. I didn't do this before my medication though but I did make sure I had time to think and reflect at some point each day. When I first lost my dad I used to write him letters and still write him cards at special occasions.

Exercise- I really got into swimming at one point and Zumba. I found swimming very relaxing and freeing. There was something calming and cleansing about being in the water. I found Zumba gave me energy and really raised my mood. When I fell into a deeper depression I had no motivation for exercise but eventually started taking walks and found the fresh air helped raise my mood. I then tried back care pilates and that helped keep me calm and was a light form of exercise and stretching. I would recommend a light relaxing exercise to anybody with depression.

Healthy eating- loss of appetite linked to depression meant my eating habits were shocking, then I started to snack more on fruits. I found salmon, spinach, fruit, warm milk and fresh vegetables all lifted my mood a little by giving me that little bit more energy. It seemed to help with my confusion and I would recommend boiled water. It has many health benefits but it detoxes your body and clears your head.

Meditation and Relaxation- pilates helped calm and centre me (as long as I went) I only did a short course but found when I needed to try and understand my thoughts that some yoga positions and breathing exercises really helped me to relax more. I laid on the floor, arms out with palms up and stretched out to my sides with my feet against a wall and closed my eyes. I nearly fell asleep in this position a few times!

Music- some people attend music therapy for relaxation. I have always played music everyday, especially in the car and sang along. I need to be in the mood for certain genres and found my music often reflected the mood I was in. If I needed to cry and couldn't I put something sad on, if I was mad I put something heavier on, if I was happy I'd put something energetic on. It helped me express and unwind at times.

Yoga and Tai Chi- I haven't tried yoga or Tai Chi as a class I just found a few positions to copy on youtube. They helped relax me and clear my mind. I would like to try something like this now to give me a little time each week to unwind fully.

Hot Kava and Relaxing Herbal Teas- I have heard about hot kava but never tried it, I was recommended herbal teas to help my sleep by a friend, I found them great to drink when my head felt fuzzy but found some gave me a little indigestion alongside my tablets once they started. I would recommend hot water instead if you get indigestion. If not try Camomile tea to relax with.

Being by the sea- this is my happy place! Being by the sea no matter what the weather and running into it no matter how cold just made me feel free and alive. A great stress relief and calming time.

Animals- being around animals calms and relaxes me as well as cheering me up. They are a love of mine.

I've noticed how these alternatives focus on reducing stress, a healthy lifestyle and relaxation. Although they may not be proven to help severe depression and some aren't suggested as a 'cure' for depression there is no harm in trying these. If you can get yourself into shape physically and mentally and look after your stress levels you are halfway there. You have a better chance if you stay calm, focused, rest well and fuel your body. Whatever works for you, DO IT! And whatever doesn't replace it with something else. If you find healthy living isn't helping your depression there is no harm in carrying it on. Healthy body and healthy mind seem to go hand in hand. Most importantly, if you can, stay positive! You can do this :)

Much love,
Becky xx

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Meet Milo!

We have a new addition in the household... Milo our rescue dog!

Now that I'm doing much better and I have been looking after myself well and the house it was time to take on more responsibility. I've grown up with dogs but haven't had my own since moving out. I know how comforting it is to have a pet and for me I find animals can brighten you up and relax you. It was time I had my own. 

We nearly took in a cat that often comes to see us. When I was down seeing him rush over when I was going to my door made me feel loved and needed by something that doesn't understand me, he just wants to say hi. This felt extra special from a cat because let's face it out of all the animals in the world cats are probably top of the list for not giving a shit about you! It turns out the cat had lived in the area for years and was fed by three other neighbours on a daily basis.... also turns out that he allows you a cuddle and purrs to make you feel at ease before he bites you! I needed a dog!

It's beautiful that we saved him as well. He had been with the RSPCA a while, been overlooked by people and was getting stressed in his kennels as he doesn't like other dogs. This stressed out, overlooked little boy just wanted a loving family and to be with people and now he has us. Ironic really! He's the doggy version of me! I felt overlooked, lonely, stressed out and it was love and patience (and medication) that made me feel myself again. I wouldn't suggest that a pet is the best idea to deal with depression for everyone. It is important you can care for yourself as well as the animal and if you struggle in the future that there is another person who can help care for your pet. Although I have a feeling that this loveable little boy will help keep me focused.

Much love,
Becky and Milo xx

UPDATE: February 23,2016
Milo has really settled in now and become part of the pack! He really has changed our daily routines and brought us so much joy. Coming downstairs on a morning or back home to the most excited "YAY you're here" greeting ever. He stamps his feet, whines and wags his tail while rubbing past your legs for cuddles. He follows us around and gives a little nudge with his nose and whenever we sit down he wants to be right next to us or on us for a cuddle. Whenever I'm on the laptop he has to be on my knee, legs spread over the keyboard too.

Dogs are so loyal and loving. They don't judge or go off you. They are always happy to see you and don't want you to be away from them too long. He's someone who needs my interaction and me to look after him. He's a very gentle and placid little guy too. He's just perfect!

Walking him feels like a companion while I'm out and when I take him out with my partner we take our travel mugs of tea, hold hands and chat about our day. It's some alone time and feels great all wrapped up in the cold with wellies on. I love my wellies!

It also means because we need to walk him that we go out at different times of the day and in all weathers which is so refreshing. I can't lie in bed all morning when I'm off and he reminds me when it's bedtime by going to sleep on his bed every night before 11!

He's done me and my mental health so much good and I'm so grateful for him. I'm so glad he's in our lives and I really have noticed how much he keeps me chilled, happy and focused on routine. And we return the favour by giving this once forgotten dog a loving new home and family.

I'm going to go walk my best bud and I'll see you on the next blog!

Much love,
Becky xx

Sunday, January 17, 2016

OCD & Generalised Anxiety Disorder- Guest Post

I'm starting a bloody revolution here now!!! We are ending stigma attached to mental health TODAY! We are squashing myths and embracing the mental illnesses we have. I asked my wonderful friends if they would share their stories about their own mental health. My amazing friend (who you really all should have one just like) had the balls to reply with this story. It takes a lot to say "this is me" and they did. I couldn't be prouder. Here is their story...

I have OCD and GAD (generalised anxiety disorder). My brain won't turn off and it isn't very kind. Every moment of the day I am fighting a thought or worry. They become all consuming, that's when I get the compulsions. It starts with touching something in a certain way "if I touch that seven times my baby won't get hurt" "if I dig my nails into my hand we won't crash the car". It has got to the point where I know these compilations aren't actually going to stop these things from happening but a silly part of my brain won't let me not do it. 

It is frustrating and takes up a lot of my time. I cried the other week and had a panic attack in CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) because the lady I see asked me to say she was going to have a heart attack. I couldn't say it because I feel if it did happen it would be my fault. She asked me to say a mean thing about her, I couldn't I worried she might hurt herself because of my words. I am at the point where I don't want to upset anyone or say anything that could happen because somewhere in my head I feel I make things happen. I know I don't, that's the frustrating thing. 

I am now worrying that this is written badly and isn't going to help anyone it's just going to hinder and raise questions. I need to get over that, so I will be posting this without re reading what I have written. One last point: OCD doesn't mean I wash my hands none stop, it doesn't mean I iron my bedding, it doesn't mean I have everything alphabetised. It means I have a part of my head that controls me, it shows me awful things that might happen, it replays things I have seen, it tells me I am dangerous, it makes me check and move things by a millimetre so they "are right", it makes me kiss my husband and son in a certain way to keep them safe, it means I can't use the sun visor in the car, it means I can't use the toilet with the shower curtain closed, it stops me from relaxing, it is tiring, it makes me scratch without realising until I bleed, it stops me from living in the moment, it means every meal has 21 grinds of pepper in it, it means I feel I can never complete anything, it makes me feel a failure. 

I know this isn't depression, it's like going on a forum about knee pain and then talking about having a lazy eye. I just wanted to try and share something, and maybe it will help others like the lovely Becky has. I have a bracelet my husband got made for me. I read it every day: Be kind to yourself it's good for your health. I try to live to that. I try so hard it makes me feel I am failing sometimes. Ironic I know.

Love and peace to you all.

JUST WOW! I love you and respect you for this and in general anyway because you are superhuman person of loveliness. This person I can tell you is a truly wonderful person inside and out! Now they are in my army (non violent of course) joining the revolution!


Much love,
Becky xx

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Partners speak out

This is a conversation between two people who have supported someone with depression. The words in blue are my husbands. The words in pink are a good friend of mine who supported her partner through depression although it resulted in their relationship breaking down.

I think it's really important to look at both sides of this. Living with your loved one suffering from depression is the hardest thing I've ever done. It’s so hard when you don't understand it, when they won't speak to you and if your blog gets people talking about it that would make me so happy that people got the support they deserved instead of been put on a waiting list to see a councillor. People need help now. Nobody understands it and you feel so alone and you just battle through it the best you can. I think there needs to be more support for both and look at what depression is and why does the brain make people feel this way. As the more you understand depression the more your partners and friends can support the depression so you all make it through together. It broke my heart that me and (ex partner) didn't make it and it forever makes you think “could I have done more.” I wish I would of just had someone to talk to, something to read so I wouldn't of felt so alone.

You're awesome love, and couldn’t say it better myself, think everything that I struggled to explain you have explained everything, It is hard am normally strong person that if any of my family struggles with anything I sort it but watching Becky lose her dad and job treating her like shit was the hardest thing just watching her morale coming down, from a bubbly person to snappy, crying, miserable was the hardest thing ever been through. There was nothing I could do to help her. Meant what said on my post love and it goes for you if you need anyone to talk to about it or pair of ears to listen your more than welcome to message me or come round for chat. Another thing that helps which didn’t say before is make your partner laugh, Treat them whatever they love whether it’s a meal or go out for the day or anything just as longs it puts smile on their face.

Thanks just glad that Becky can now explain it to you and you guys are stronger than ever if you can get through this. It is hard as being the other partner you feel you have to take control of the situation you have to be the strong one but in another breath you just can't figure out how to do it. I think the main thing now with Becky is so much positive is coming out of the bad and sad things that have happened in her life. I can't even imagine how hard it must have been losing her dad who she loved more than life. I think the hardest thing for me was I just couldn't understand why he was so unhappy but I guess that's the point it isn't always a big life event that effects people sometimes. What's small to you is big to someone else. (Ex partner) had everything, the holidays, the job, the family but again that's the whole point of this it's not about that it's about depression eating that up, It’s not that he was ungrateful but depression just took over all that. I felt like he'd do anything just for a high just to feel happy again and that was hard to watch. Whatever he did it just didn't make him happy anymore. It’s defiantly getting the message out that it's not your fault it's nothing personal to you. I say it again and again support is everything and I just wish people got it both sides when they need it. Thank you for kind words I'm OK I've had two long years trying to understand it all and all its come down to is I never will as because he wouldn't talk to me. I just didn't know how he felt. It's so true what Becky says just for him to of said I'm having a good day or I'm having a bad day would of helped so much as that way you’re not guessing and standing on egg shells you can take a day at a time and work through it together. 

Patience and time is everything. Exactly this is why its so important to not say why are you depressed you have it all as whether you have or not it doesn't feel like that with depression and you need support not people asking “why you are not grateful for it.” If I could say one thing to someone suffering depression it is your loved ones are always here we might not always say or do the right things as we're trying to figure it out too. But we're here because we want to be and we love you and no matter how hard it is you will get there.

I think we've hit on an important topic. Who supports the people picking up the pieces? Where do they turn? What should they be told?

People out there looking after someone with depression on behalf of us all I want to tell you we may not show it but we appreciate it, we love you, we want you to know you have helped us and we want you to know you are amazing for it!

Much love,
Becky xx

My Husband's Words...

I felt like I couldn't protect her and it was out of my hands. It's a man's job to look after his family and I didn't know how to help. Deep inside I was relieved because it all made sense that she was depressed. She kept pushing me away and didn't want me near, it was as though I felt I was doing something wrong and I had hurt her. I was worried she would never get better and it made me want to break down but people kept saying the medication would help her. At first I didn't believe this and thought people were just been nice. BUT a couple of months after she was getting better. I saw a huge change when she got her new job, she was like a whippet! Her morale came up very fast and I think she's back to herself.

All what I can say is always remember your loved ones don't like seeing you hurting and I now know to work as a team with my wife and my mother-in-law. Seeing Becky do this blog and Twitter is an inspiration to help others who haven't got anyone or need help. I believe everything happens for a reason. If anybody wants any advice for their partner please feel free to ask me. You might have questions I forgot to talk about.

Explaining depression to your partner

I'm going to do this as a Q&A. If you feel I missed anything or have other questions please comment below. 

How do I start?
  • For my first doctor's appointment I took my husband with me. He explained to the doctor how I had been when I struggled to get the words out, he asked questions too
  • If your worried about telling your partner remember they will probably already expect you to say something isn't right, they know you inside out after all and have probably been worrying what it is that's wrong
  • Can't get the words out? Tell them you want to speak but it's hard- write it in a letter, find a youtube video, pick up a leaflet or find a trusted mental health site and let them read through it while sat with them
  • Ask them to be patient with you and let them know you might not be able to answer their questions- it's hard to explain to someone else when you can't understand it yourself
What do I say?
  • Whatever you can put into words. I found concentrating, speaking, typing, texting very hard in the beginning, I couldn't make sense and it was like I had constant pains in my head- like electric shocks
  • Make sure you use the word depression "the doctor says I'm not ok" leaves them to worry and wonder what is wrong
  • Show them your medication or referral to a psychiatrist, let them read the information and know your dose and time you need to take it so they can help remind you of this
  • Show them the leaflet explaining side effects you may have and warning signs that may occur from bad reactions to medication that need medical attention (rare cases)
  • Tell them your plans on how you want to deal with recovery
  • Let them know your worries, fears, how you feel mentally and physically
When is a good time?
  • As soon as possible
  • Make sure you are able to talk openly and won't be distracted
  • If you start and can't continue let your partner know that you need a rest and will try to talk about it again later
  • Do whatever you need to do to make you feel more at ease- talk while cuddling, talk in bed, wrap yourself up in a blanket, hug a pillow, talk inside a tent, be indoors or out- whatever feels right for you and most comfortable
They say I'm pushing them away?
  • You could be- it is very common
  • Remember a partner wants to feel loved and appreciated
  • They may worry they are the cause of your depression or can't help you
  • Let them know they are appreciated
  • Pay a compliment and say I love you
  • Have cuddles, hold hands, snuggle up together watching films, look at old pictures together, spend time alone together, play cards together
  • We used to play a game where we would say "name 5 things you love about me?"
What if I can't answer their questions?
  • Tell them you don't have the answer, don't leave them waiting or guessing
  • Ask them to listen patiently while you try to describe it in different ways, it might not make sense but you tried and they will appreciate that
  • If you get frustrated, upset or confused not knowing the answer hug it out and try later
I'm starting to feel better or worse, should I bring it up?
  • YES! keep your partner informed
  • If you tell them you're starting to feel better they will feel relief and know what you and they are doing is working- this is a huge help to them
  • If you tell them you feel worse they can prepare for it and make sure they step up their support for you
  • Let your partner know from the beginning that it won't be a straight path, you might feel better one day, worse the next and go in and out of good and bad stages
Will I upset them talking about it?
  • They may get upset or angry with the situation as they can feel powerless but it's better than being kept in the dark
  • You are in love and sharing a life together whether it's the good times or the bad you need to keep them in the loop
What if they don't support me at all?
  • Are they struggling with it and don't know what to do?
  • Do they need to talk to someone about how they feel with the situation?
  • Are they wrapped up in looking after the children/ the home/ their work to keep money coming in?
  • Are they not showing you the love and care you deserve?
  • Concentrate on yourself then look into your relationship
  • Find support wherever you can and make sure you always have someone to talk to
Remember you are loved by someone and they have your back. But if needed you can do this alone because you are strong, you are a fighter and you want to get better. You are amazing!

Much love,
Becky xx

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Side Effect Lotto

So this blog is full of positivity right? But it wouldn't be realistic if there was no mention of some of the negative side effects of antidepressants and mental illness itself. 

So how am I going to turn that into a positive post? By telling you how I dealt with them and how to make them more bearable. Here are the side effects I experienced...

Coughing- every morning I woke with a coughing fit and felt like I was choking for the first month or two, I did this before a panic attack too. I knew I wasn't choking and knew it made me light headed so I laid on my side until it had stopped and tried to stay calm

Headache, neck pains and joint pain- I can best describe headaches as being able to feel my brain rewiring! It was like an electric storm- rubbing my temples helped, sitting up but resting my head and wearing a scarf to keep my neck warm, cosy pajamas, lying straight for a while rather than standing and a warm bath all eased joint pains

Blurred vision and light sensitivity- this was scary at first but I soon realised it was linked to anxiety and headaches and once I became calm again it soon went away, wearing sunglasses and dimming the lights helped too

Tinnitus- I really struggled with this, it took three weeks to go away and was awful, I listened to rainfall music on a night and wore ear defenders or ear muffs which seemed to work somehow for me. I made sure there was always noise through the day such as the tv or music in the background

Low sex drive- this is very common with both depression and the medication, having lots of cuddles with your partner helps and asking them to remain patient

Itchy skin- I use sensitive skin products anyway but found my skin was irritated, a cold compress relieved this and a lukewarm bath helped

Nausea and upset stomach- this isn't nice but I found it happened for the first six weeks, I wasn't sick but felt unwell. I found when this happened it was best to sip water and a ginger biscuit helped settle my stomach

Dry mouth- this lasted the first 6/8 weeks and everytime I changed dosage, sipping water helped and chewing gum made it worse. I brushed my teeth 3/4 times a day which stopped my gums getting sore

Chest pain- although painful these didn't last long and I found it best to try and carry on with what I was doing when these happened and try to distract myself from it

Agitated, paranoid and harmful thoughts- these can be difficult to both understand and control, I had thoughts that weren't suicidal but were self destructive like 'if I fell down the stairs and broke my leg I wouldn't have to go back to work' or 'everyone's talking about me so I need to avoid them forever' whenever I thought anything like this I would literally shake my head and then cuddle into a pillow and think of something nice like a happy memory

Confusion, memory loss and lack of concentration- I couldn't understand or write a text or email for the first 3/4 week, I struggled to follow conversation and watch tv without getting lost and found it hard to get my words out. It helped that I stayed calm and patient and tried not to let it frustrate me

Trouble sleeping and drowsiness- for the first 4/5 month I had as little as 2 hours sleep a night but then could sometimes sleep for up to 15 hours in one go. I was tired through the day but wide awake at night. If you can't sleep at least rest, lay down, close your eyes and have down time, reading on a night can help you switch off but something easy like a children's novel or a magazine

Excess sweating- this happened for the first 3 month and before panic attacks, I was very conscious of it but made sure when I went anywhere I carried baby wipes, deodorant and a spare top in my bag, it wasn't too often and was manageable

Reduced appetite- I lost around half a stone through not eating properly, my mum and husband made sure I had something, I kept snacking when I couldn't manage full meals and made sure they were somewhat healthy, I had ready meals and fruit when I was home alone and couldn't always finish them but tried my best

I need to point out that not everyone experiences the same side effects but for me I had loads! Everyone is different and each medication is different. This may vary depending on country and I am based in England. I started on a very low dose of Citalopram 10mg, it increased to 20mg and is now 30mg. Starting the tablets had a lot more effect on me than changing dosage, side effects wise. 

It wasn't plain sailing but I think my medication helped get me back where I needed to be. I'd tried everything to pick myself up and then it got to the point where I had a breakdown and needed help from my doctor. All I can say is do whatever you need to get yourself better, ask for help and keep going with your treatment if you and your doctor believe it is right for you.

Please remember my side effects are individual to myself and I am not in anyway qualified to say which approach works best for other people. Discuss choices with your doctor and find what works best for you. You may be given the same tablets and dosage as myself and find you have a completely different reaction either worse or better.

Take care of yourselves and your minds!

Much love,
Becky xx

Monday, January 11, 2016

the good that came from depression

I need to give a big shout out to twitter! I'd not used it before but thought it might help promote my blog and it has really made my day. 

My tweets linking to this blog are being retweeted by groups and individuals I didn't even know existed. People who campaign for mental health help and rights, people who offer support, people who tweet about their mental health and counselling services... I want to thank you all. 

Depression is lonely, you feel like the only one and worry people don't understand and you'll be singled out because of it. NOPE! All the people/groups on my twitter understand, sympathise, support and the majority are taking the positive, "let's talk about it" option.

Depression does not define you but it can shape you. Remember some of the greatest minds, actors, artists, performers, public speakers, have had or do have mental health problems. You don't have to be famous either to be depressed and amazing! There are all kinds of people that are depressed that are just as amazing, funny, bubbly, caring, loving, inspirational, creative as anyone else out there. 

Depression can shape you positively. Use it to reevaluate your life and look at positive changes you want to make.It took me to be put onto sick leave for my depression for me to actually realise I'd not been myself for quite a while. I looked at things in my life I found stressful, upsetting, agitating and I made changes. 

I appreciate my physical health more now and I looked at things I could introduce to help me stay happy like my weekly food shop items, hobbies, booking time away camping, taking walks, visiting loved ones more and writing this blog!

So thank you for your input depression!
  • Depression made this blog, now my love of writing and helping others has a purpose
  • Depression gave me the courage to find a new job 
  • Depression showed me to take more care of myself 
  • Depression built stronger relationships with my loved ones
I have a life and I will live it. 
I live and I will live positively. 
I am positive and I will shout it.
I have a message and I will say it.

So really depression failed and I came out the winner!

Much love,
Becky xx

Friday, January 08, 2016

I can't sleep!

How so very annoying it is not to sleep! 

I don't help myself either by you know.... just going to sleep. My mind seems to cope with things by purposely thinking of some of the most randomly pointless ideas it can to distract me. It especially likes to do this when all is quiet.

It tells me "let's not think of the rubbish side effects of antidepressants or the fact you can't get to work at that moment due to your mind being on some sort of strike. Instead let's watch a youtube video on how to best arrange your bathroom cupboard or wrap an awkwardly shaped present! We could even try to remember the name of your neighbour's dog when you were six years old or I could just hum to you." No wonder I was so wide awake with that kind of entertainment in my life :) But seriously, you can learn from my mistakes and I can let you know what seemed to work for me. 

  • The best thing I can think of (which I found the hardest) is to try sleeping, or at least be in bed, at normal sleep times. If you're in bed by say 11pm and get out of it at 8am whether you slept or not, you are still in some sort of routine. 
  • Try not to nap through the day. This can be such a challenge, I felt so ill that even trying to sit up straight or keep my eyes open seemed like a battle but I knew it was going to ruin my sleep pattern later on if this became my new routine.
  • Try your best to wake up early and get out of bed (that is a massive mountain to climb and a huge achievement I know.) Even if you move from bed to sofa and have a glass of water it's a start
  • In the beginning of a depressive episode you might nap a lot through the day (especially if your medication doesn't agree with you) and then lay wide awake at night or just not sleep anytime at all even though you're exhausted. You may need these few days of sleep and rest to start your recovery but they cannot become routine
  • If you have the lovely side effect of tinnitus like myself it may be peaceful enough to sleep but all you can hear is a constant screeching buzz, which seems louder the quieter your environment is- white noise can help such as rainfall effects that you can find on Youtube
  • Cut down on caffeine and sugary snacks and drinks on an evening
  • Make sure the room is dark and your bed, bedding and sleepwear is comfortable
  • Put down the mobile, tablet or laptop and turn off the TV- blue light from these devices actually stimulates your mind to keep it awake (although I've always fallen asleep like this for years I know I need to break the habit)
  • If you are having medication you may want to speak to your GP about whether it is causing you to sleep more or less as they may recommend a different dose or form of medication

I've always found sleep hard but this was a whole new level of exhaustion with no way of drifting off. It doesn't help that my mind started racing with nightmarish thoughts and things like feeling awful for not saying sorry when I accidently bumped into someone in a store 6 years ago! You know what I mean, right? It can go from "did I lock the doors" to "what if I just don't wake up tomorrow because I swear my body and mind are shutting down" and it's awful. If I do sleep I can have nightmares which seem more tiring than not sleeping. But I know that this is temporary.

Soon I'll get back into a normal sleep pattern, see things more clearly and be able to do more. I know I'll feel more physically healthy as well as energetic and get back to being me.

The truest thing I've seen so far about depression was this...

Depression is spending all day feeling tired,
Then spending all night being wide awake

After all this you still might not sleep but at least rest. Tomorrow will be a big day of kicking depression's butt!

So for tonight... I wish you sweet dreams.

Much love,

Becky xx