Why Take Those Stupid Pills – They Won’t Work You Know (NOT)…

I’ve had many people say that they think that antidepressants are just chemical wastes of time and do nothing to help you. Au contraire! It took me three attempts to get the right medication for me. OK, I had better tell you which ones I had. I will do so in a minute.

I’ve just heard so much stuff recently about blah blah, antidepressants bad, blah blah antidepressants evil, etc etc. I hear people saying things like “Ooooooh, you don’t need those pills! Just get up and go for a brisk walk in the fresh air!” Ummmmm, no. Just no. That is not a cure for severe depressive disorder. If you haven’t been there, if you haven’t suffered and had the big black dog barking at your heels then you have no idea at all what the hell of having a major depressive illness is like. You just don’t.

When I first acknowledged my depression in 2005, I had already been suffering with it for 15 years. My abusive marriage is what caused me to spiral down into it. Events from my childhood also played a major part in this whole thing.

So, this all came to light when I was seeing a clinical geneticist at my local hospital. She noticed that I could not stop crying and she just said to me, “Has anyone ever validated your emotional pain for you?” That was it. The damn burst and I was bawling like a newborn. She called my doctors surgery then and there and made me an appointment. I was taking the first step towards finding out just how crazy I really was.

My doctor first of all started me on Prozac. The famous, so called “happy pill”. It did absolutely sweet fuck all to make me happy. All I had were increasing thoughts of self harm and suicide. The self harm had been here before but not the suicide. This was a whole new, and very frightening mindset for me.

After around four weeks of hell on Prozac, my prescription was changed over to Citalopram. Absolutely no difference whatsoever. I was beginning to feel afraid that I would never be able to feel happy again.

After another four weeks, I was started on a drug called Venlafaxine. After around three weeks, I slowly started to feel only slightly better. If I’m honest with you guys? That was a win for me. Given the fact that I’d spent the last couple of months wanting to kill myself, a little bit less depressed was a bonus.

After a little while, my psychiatrist massively increased the dose and it did start to make a significant difference to my mood. There was one other thing. My GP has told me take the medication at bedtime, which I had been doing. My Psychiatrist looked at the box in scorn as he wouldn’t believe me. He insisted nobody would do something like that. Then he saw the pharmacists label on the box and believed me. He said straight away I had to start taking the medication in the morning. Taking the medication at night when I would be asleep wasn’t really the best way to do it. It needed to be in my system at the appropriate time for it to do any good.

Then came a new challenge for me. I began to develop mood swings. I would go from being so low that I didn’t even care about washing. Eating was another thing I didn’t give a flying fuck about. I started to develop the swings in mood from very low and unable to focus to so high and manic that I was like a toddler jacked up on E numbers. *sigh*. It became more. So much more, I became hypersexual and totally loud and overspent in piles of things I never needed. High heeled shoes. Me. I can’t freakin’ walk, why do I need high heeled shoes of all things?

My Psychiatrist diagnosed me as having Bipolar 1 with rapid cycling. I was started on Lithium. I was on it for a long time and then had Depakote added in to my treatment plan. Not too much longer after that, I had got to the point where my worst side effect, a tremor, meant that I could not even hold a cup of tea to drink it or a pen to write a letter. I went in to see my Psychiatrist ready for a battle about Lithium but when I asked about stopping it, he did! Just like that, and upped my dose of Depakote instead.

One thing that also began to develop was my anxiety. It became more and more severe. It got to the point where I would be physically puking if I had to leave the house. I was in the grip of full blown agoraphobia (I have many others but we’ll save those for another time). My anxiety rules my life. It has done for years now. I take Buspirone and I also get 7 Diazepam a month to help me when I have to leave the house. I can’t get out without them.

Of course with anxiety on one shoulder, paranoia wanted to come along and sit on the other one. She whispers in my ear every single day about how shit I am, how ugly, how stupid, how useless… her sister, anxiety, she likes to make my heart pound and my muscles quiver as I feel sick with fear.

I experience hallucinations. Mainly of spiders crawling all over my arms. I have severe arachnophobia and the ones I see are always the size of my fist and hairy. They are terrifying.

I have also been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder and have frequent existential crises. One of the real hard things to deal with is C-PTSD. The many traumas that have contributed to the mess inside my head are responsible for this. Raised male voices are usually the worst trigger. Night terrors also serve to trigger flashbacks too. I take a sleeping pill every other night to try and get some rest. I was also started on Quetiapine to try and help me sleep and help with some of what was going on inside my head.

I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say that my mental health medications have saved my live. I know other people who feel the same way. Many other people. Please don’t be guilt tripped out of taking mental health drugs by people telling fresh and exercise are all you need (of course they are great as a tandem treatment). Don’t be afraid to tell people how you feel. Reach out. Take that help. Don’t do what I did and end up nearly dead before I sought help. Go get help. Now. Please?

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Our Mental Illnesses Are NOT Your Cute Personality Quirks…

Seriously people. The next time that I hear”Oh I must tidy up, I’m so OCD today” or “Oh she’s up one minute and down the next – she’s so bipolar!” I am going to stuff my walking stick right up that person’s asshole and turn them into a fucking lollipop. I swear I am.

Listen up people. Suffering from mental illness is no triviality and neither is it a fucking joke. I have struggles with several mental health issues, OCD and bipolar being two of them, so it really does set my teeth on edge when I hear someone coming out with an off the cuff, totally fucking moronic comment like that.

When we said we wanted mental health disorders to be spoken about more, we didn’t mean for you to appropriate them into your everyday conversations.

Lately (and unfortunately), it is becoming something of the norm that mental health disorders find their way into everyday discussions, and not in the way we’d like them to. I can’t count on my hand how many times I’ve heard someone who’s had a minor inconvenience or mishap go on to complain about how ‘depressed’ they are. Not only is it infuriating, but it’s hurtful.

For those diagnosed with depression, you’ll know it’s not something that suddenly happens after something goes wrong, or you’ve had a ‘bad day.’ It’s a constant state, you’re trapped in it, and it is definitely not something that can be used as an adjective.

No, Sarah, just because your boyfriend hasn’t texted back in three hours, doesn’t mean you’re not depressed.

You are upset, sad, down, blue (see ‘unhappy‘ in the thesaurus for more synonyms) but you are certainly not depressed.

However by comparing your sadness to a mental health disorder, what you’ve done is silence the kid three seats down from you who’s been dealing with this disorder for months, who’s struggling to wake up every morning, who’s on medication just to get them through the day.

You’re comparing a moment of sadness in your life, to a lifetime of theirs.

But it’s not just depression that is used as an adjective, it’s next to all mental health disorders. I remember sitting in class once whilst a group of teenage boys were stalking a girl’s Instagram page. They reached a picture of her where she looked skinny, slim, and thin, and all they could think to say was, “Wow, she’s so anorexic!” I was thinking to myself, “Really? Out of all the words to call her, you had to relate it back to a mental health disorder?”

The list goes on; calling someone who organizes their work neatly on a table ‘OCD’, calling someone who’s mood has changed from the last time you saw them ‘bipolar’, not getting a good nights sleep and complaining that you must have ‘insomnia.’ They are not adjectives, they are our real mental health disorders that real people face. We have not come forward about them for you to simply misdiagnose yourself after one incident.

So next time you feel the need to compare your sad moment. tidying of your room or unexpected mood swing to a mental health disorder, open a thesaurus. There are plenty of synonyms; use a different one.

Cut off from the world by my own head…

Mentally, today is not a good day for me. I feel cut off from the entire world by my own head. I am feeling my illness stomping around inside my head, looking to see what damage it can do today.

I see my illness as a complete entity. It’s female as well. Don’t ask me how I now that, I just do. She is a mean and nasty bitch. She takes over part of my head, whether it be my paranoid part, my bipolar part or one of the many other parts she could go for and manipulate.

I just feel that it is so important to get this down before I get too unwell. My carer is with me so the boys are fine (they are 18 and almost 17) and both autistic. As long as they have a games console in front of them and someone pushing food at them along with the occasional can of coke, they are happy.

So back to the she bitch otherwise known as my mental illnesses. She seems to be quite keen to be giving my bipolar a good poking and she has been doing since around 4pm yesterday. Instead of listening to my head and getting the hell off Facebook and getting some rest, I carried on and eventually being that stupid I allowed myself to be triggered over a stupid bullshit news article. I posted in in outrage that could happen in the free world, that people could allow this to happen. Then, one of my best ever friends (and rightly so) posted her reaction to the post.

I lost my shit because I thought that I had upset her ( I know I haven’t now) but at that time it was horrendous. That insidious creeping guilt.

Then my head bitch took over. It almost feels like she locks me in a cage inside my head and I’m rattling at the bars and shouting that I’m in here but people just cannot hear me.

She starts to wind up whichever part of my illnesses that she wants to and she loves to make my life hell. It’s like she has a long list of the things that my ‘father’ and my ‘ex’ used to say to me and she reels them off one after the other so I’m constantly being told just how bad I really am. Then there are times when this illness decides to speak for me. She becomes a spitting, snarling demon who says the most horrible things to those who are closest to me and I cannot stop her at any time. This just breaks me inside, it truly does.

Why am I laying myself low and open to possible inspection and judgement? Because I believe that it is hugely important for people to be aware of what mental illnesses can do to a person and how we can be laid low by this uninvited visitor in our heads.

If you read this and you are feeling the same as, or worse than I do, then I urge you to get in touch with your GP. As soon as you can.

There are other things that you can do within the UK. If you are feeling so low that you can’t see a way out then please get in touch with The Samaritans Their number is 116 123 and it is free to dial from a UK landline or mobile. It’s important to know that the number will not appear on any phone bills, so nobody can check any phone calls that you have made.

There is the SANE line on 0300 304 7000 and they run from 6pm to 11pm 365 days a year.

The silver line on 0800 4 70 80 90 aims to help people over the age of 55. They run 24/7 365 days a year.

CALM is a line for men feeling distressing thoughts and feelings. They are on 0800 58 58 58 and run 5pm to 12pm 365 days a year.

Switchboard, the LGBTQ+ helpline on 0300 330 0630 which runs from 10am to 11pm 365 days a year.

Papyrus HOPEline on 0800 068 4141 are there for under 35’s who are struggling with thoughts of suicide or self harm.

Whomever you talk to, I beg that you talk to someone. Please don’t make the mistake I made and say nothing until it’s too late. There is always somebody who will listen.

It is vitally important that we take the lead and make people hear us. That we show people that mental health problems are nothing to be afraid of or stepped around and ignored. #timetotalk

I’m now needing to get the hell off the internet and cry.

Be kind to yourselves.x

The Demons Inside My Head…

I have many demons running around inside my head. Most are as a result of the abuse that I’ve been through, both as a child and as an adult.

I’m not looking for sympathy here and I’m not trying to hold a pity party for myself. I’m trying to talk about what I’ve been through. Doing it on my blog seems the easiest way for me to do it. I feel physically sick if I try to talk about all the demons inside my head when I am face to face with them. I guess that is why I spend a good half of every Psychiatrist appointment that I have staring at my hands and crying without being to say a single thing.

As I said, I’m not fishing for sympathy and I’m not looking for pity. This is literally the only place that I have where I can vent and I don’t have people looking at me with tears in their eyes. I loathe pity from other people. It makes me a sad victim and whilst I am happy to admit that yes I am a victim #metoo I am not going to admit to anyone that I am pitiful. That is am emotion that I carry round inside of me every single day, and I don’t need more of it from other people .

After an abusive childhood, I fell in love with a man who turned out to be a carbon copy of my first abuser. I escaped from an abusive and violent relationship sometime ago and after that escape, I was sent for counselling. I forced myself to keep it together because I was terrified of any involvement from other agencies. My only priority was to look after my boys and to keep the three of us together as a family and as safe as possible. So I fought with every last ounce of my strength until I managed to get back to my home town, which was a safe distance away. Once we were safe distance away and the court case was resolved in our favour, I felt like I could get on with life.

But there was one slight problem here… as I tried to fight on through life and be all “normal”, cracks started to appear in my armour. I was conscious that I was permanently exhausted and I went to see my doctor. Half way through the exam, out of nowhere, I cracked and burst into floods of tears. I didn’t tell my doctor everything. She already knew enough of my history. She told me I was seriously clinically depressed, and started me on an antidepressant.

After four months, I was getting worse and not better. I was self harming. I had suicidal thoughts and was having real anxiety and panic attacks. I was switched onto Citalopram and told to come back in another three months. I lasted eight weeks. I was back at my doctor’s door in hysterics. I was put onto a third antidepressant, Venlafaxine. This medication also has, supposedly, some anti anxiety effects. After eight weeks on this medication, my mood started to lift a little bit, but my anxiety was horrific. I was also extremely paranoid, having peaks and troughs in moods that could be very severe and I was having flashbacks. These were like it happening all over again. There was touch, taste, smell, everything. The night terrors were also hugely debilitating and left me exhausted through lack of sleep. I was so physically unwell (another blog post for another time) that becoming mentally unwell in the way that I did was really scary for me.

After being forced to change doctors because of a move, I was initially terrified of how a new doctor would see me. This turned out to be the best thing that had happened in a long time. The new doctor did a referral to a Psychiatrist which my old doctor had been refusing to do for a long time. I was so relieved but so scared at the same time.

I had to wait months for my appointment (such is life) and finally the day came. I was shaking like a leaf and sobbed the whole way through. The doctor I saw was not the consultant, but his registrar. I would be seen by him several times and then seen by the consultant. The day finally came for me to see the consultant and he looked liked santa! That’s the first thing my addled brain conjured up for conjecture. He was really sweet and walked me step by step through all of the notes that the other doctor had taken. He thought about things and then he said to me that the reason that I had been feeling so ill is that I had several conditions making me that way.

The evilest of all of my illnesses is bipolar. I suffer with bipolar one which is the more severe of the two. This is due to the fact that I have manic episodes that last for longer than a week at a time and also severe depressive episodes. Mine is also rapid cycling, which means that I have more than four events of severe depression and mania a year. This illness leaves me unable to lift my head off the pillow. I don’t care about eating or dressing and I can’t do anything at all. Yet when I am manic? Oh boy, I’m not good to be around! I’ve been told it’s scary.

Along with my Bipolar 1, I have also been diagnosed with C-PTSD. It’s complex because it stems from more than one event. Even now, the flashbacks are very real and can bring me to my knees. Next comes the Parasomnia (night terrors to me and you). Dreams so vicious and so violent that you wake up in tears, shaking and have palpitations. Next we have severe social anxiety, panic disorder and paranoia which rule my life and can cripple me on a daily basis. I hate it so much. Then comes my OCD. Something that rules my life so much, there are days when I cannot move without completing the rituals in my head. Then come my phobias. I have several, so I’ll try to remember them all and what they actually mean. The most debilitating one for me is agoraphobia. The ONLY time that I leave my house is for a medical appointment and even then I have to be sedated. Then comes arachnophobia (hate spiders!), claustrophobia, dentrophobia (dentist), haphephobia (being touched), nyctophobia (fear of the dark & night time), telephonophobia (I am terrified of speaking on the telephone) and I’m also terrified of strong winds, but I can’t remember the name for that one of the many. Last but by no means least is Misophonia. I have an irrational loathing of certain sounds, which leaves me wanting to stick a fork in the noise maker’s eye.

I’ve since been started on a number of psychiatric medications which do help a small amount. Yet nothing takes it away. I’ve had every therapy in the damn book and still I suffer. Every damn day…

So as you can see. The demons in my head are alive and well.