Depression and exit strategies …….. the holy grail of depression sufferers

black dog

I was speaking to another “depressive”(someone who suffers from depression – usually with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and possibly Stress thrown in for shits and giggles — I might have just made that word up, but it seems to work, so I am going to leave it there) a week or two ago and we were chatting about shit and things and really playing catch up.

We had not seen each other in quite some time, so it was a very nice catch up and we did spend a lot of the time laughing, and snorting.

The conversation took a turn and we started speaking about the fact that we both suffer from Depression — not the “here take one pill and call me in the morning kind” but the sort that takes you 13 years of therapy to really understand what it is you are working with.

Years of enduring shitty therapists to eventually find the good one who was able to really guide you and assist you.

Years of the wrong medication, in the wrong dosages to eventually find a fantastic psychiatrist who understood you. Who saw you at your worst, and built you up from a shivering shaking rambling idiot to someone who could almost pass for normal.  And not spill tea on his rug.

Years of guilt of what you were exposing your family to.  Years of feeling that you were a burden – you are a burden, nothing you do will change the fact that you are such a burden.

Hiding your depressive episodes because you feel your family and friends are so “sick of your shit” — when in reality you cannot hide a depressive episode for all the Zoloft in the world.

We had different journeys but they were similar in many respects.

Then strangely the conversation moved onto “suicide plans” and we almost in unison agreed we each had our own plan.

A plan we had been harbouring for years.

I am not going to speak for all Depressives here, but I think it is often something that most people do not realise about people with Major/Chronic Depression.

We have a suicide plan.  Or most of us do at any rate.

Most of us think about our plan once a day or maybe once a week.

I think about my plan in the same way I would think about whether I need new toothpaste.  Just something to tick off the shopping list.

In some cases “the plan” is quite elaborate and in others it is beautiful in it’s simplicity.

Suicide – contrary to popular belief does not need “a reason” or even “a really bad spate of depression” and is in most cases not a “cry for help.”

I think people with chronic depression do not see it as a way to get help, they see it as a way to leave because the blackness has just become too much.  And they cannot see any light at the end of the famous tunnel.

Depression is a life long illness.

It drags you into a black sinking hole where you no longer can see anything, there is no hope of small spark of light.  It is just this heavy blackness where no light or hope can pass.  You eventually start to accept that in fact there is not any light.

The blackness creeps over you like a shadow, and before you have realised it, you are enfolded in it’s robe of cold darkness and a sense of being alone – bitterly alone.

Nothing anyone says or does changes that darkness.

You feel alone.  You feel desperate.

You feel like that darkness will last forever.

You can not imagine a time when you were not being swallowed by that darkness, you cannot imagine a time when that darkness will recede.

You just cannot.

And sooner or later you cannot live in the bleak and desperate darkness any more.

blackness

Breathing is a challenge.  Faking it through the day is exhausting.

Faking it through your life eventually becomes unrealistic.

You also want to round house kick the next person who tells you to “just wake up happy….”

You do not believe you will ever get out of the hole.  So you start to think of how to just stop.  Everything.

You can be thankful and rejoice that you have the right medication, the right dose, and if you are in an emergency you just need to phone your Dr Psychiatrist and mention to the secretary that you are having a “self harm” kind of day, and an appointment will open for you almost immediately.

{Everyone do a huge clap for a great Medical Aid…..}

I have only phoned my Psychiatrist once with a “I need to speak to him” sort of day. And he magically opened a time slot in his already crammed diary because he knew that I really needed to speak to him.

My friend and I compared notes on the sort of things that we think about.

What worries us about committing suicide, what we factor in as a possibly route, time of day that would work, location and so on, and it was quite amazing how much of it was the same for both of us.

We actually laughed in a “this is really fucked up….” sort of way.

Then just to add strange, we both agreed we were technically in really happy places at this exact moment, but that did not stop the thought of an exit strategy being foremost in our minds.

Depression does not go away.

In my case, and I am thankful daily, my depression has really been under control for more than two years now, if not three.  I am on a good set of medication that I do not fuck with.

I stick to my medication.  No matter how good I am feeling, I do not tweak it, change it or think I can just miss a few.

My medication keeps me on track.  My medication keeps the black dog at bay.  For the most part.

Where I am in my head is generally a good place.

The only issue I am experiencing at the moment, is a very high state of anxiety, and stress that is influencing my sleep patterns.  And a lack of sleep or a shift in my sleep is a huge red flag of concern — I do not function well without sleep.

I realise that last blog post might not have echoed that sentiment, but I am amazed at what I have coped with in the last two years, and how much I have risen above all this shit to be more of who I have wanted to be for a very long time.

Some days I do feel like I am drowning.

But those days are few, and they usually are limited to days.  They do not start to turn into weeks and months, like before.

I am far happier than I used to be — again I realise that based on the last blog post that sounds like a whopper of a lie —- but my job is not to convince you of it.

I feel happier in the inside part that really matters.

I have a clearer idea of who I am.  I do somehow even when the days are tough, I do still feel happier with who I am.  Now. Than who I was before.

Sure I have an exit strategy ….. and I realise how insane that sounds.

How can I be happy if I think about suicide?

It is actually possible.

depression comix

{…… thanks fuck all dopamine or serotonin or what ever else my brain cannot manufacture or absorb ….. }

What if we treated every illness the way that we treat mental illness?

I saw this graphic yesterday, and it struck a chord with me.

mental illness

I have regularly been battling my own demons, and some days I manage it better than others.

Depression and it’s related posse – which are usually socially phobia, general anxiety disorder, alcoholism, or some sort of substance abuse – is not an illness that ever really goes away.

You get given a respite, a few days grace, but then the bitch is back and you get to start the cycle from the beginning.

I do understand how exhausting this process must be for family members, loved ones, partners, parents, children and the sundry of others who love, like and have a relationship with someone “struggling with depression.”

I would imagine it is a bit like helping someone who has a broken leg.

It is all “fuck I am sorry, how can I help?” then you help them carry their books, shuffle to the toilet and back, make them some tea, and pretty much help out where every you can – at about the point when you think “yikes I am tired of this shit” .. then the person’s leg heals.

The cast gets removed and they are “on their feet and back in the swing of things.”

Then you go to the shop to buy milk and a loaf of bread, get back and the person has broken their leg again.  And you are like fuck that shit.

Repeat the loop 3 – 6 times a year, and in the end, everyone is about as sick as crap with you and your stupid broken leg, and really just wishes you would stop breaking that shit.  What is wrong with you for goodness sake.

It is starting to look a bit reckless, and that you might actually enjoy wearing a plaster of paris cast, and not being able to function.

Swap broken leg out with depression and you can sort of see how everyone gets exhausted with you being exhausted.

mental lllness

Depression is a cruel illness. It strips you of your ability to care or relate to anything around you.

It fills your mind with emptiness – and it’s all you can do to blink without giving up.

I have noticed that with each cycle there is an element of “darkness”that gets blacker and more dense in my mind.  An unwillingness, or an inability to face it again – the constant gnawing cycle of self loathing, self doubt, pain and well …. bleakness.

I think I have got better, as I have got older, at being able to soldier on through the “bad patches” to where few people do not even notice that I am in a bit of a low space .

The reality is the cycles are cycles – they keep on coming and as soon as this one is done you start sensing the new wave building, and you are never sure if this will be the wave that crashes on the beach, or tears through the country like a tsunami.

The ebbs gets lower and lower, and then “the big one” arrives that makes me doubt who I am, my worth, my sense of self, and more importantly by ability to put one foot in front of the other.

black_dog_days_2

living-with-a-black-dog1

pointing-out-lovely-weather-is-annoying-and-pointless

I posted this originally on the 10 January 2012

That creeping sensation that things are not quite as they should be.

The whispers of self-doubt.

The gnawing sensation that everyone is plotting against me.

The hiss that people are talking about me.  Incessantly.  Always in the negative.

The worry that I am doing something wrong.  Everything wrong.  About to be “caught out” for doing something wrong I have not even done.  At all.  Ever.

The sounds of whispers and innuendos and recrimination.

Small sounds reverberate in my eardrums as echos.  My children’s chewing that sounds like the brass frkn band going off tune next to me.

The mental arguing and cross-questioning and “should I” or “what if…” and “maybe you need to go and fix that….”

Unfortunately it has all started again.  It was so lovely when it was gone.  It was so lovely.

And it is back – the swishing tail of my black dog against my legs.

images

———————————————————————————————————————————————————

Please vote for The Reluctant Mom as Mommy Blogger 2013 – every email address gets one vote.

Voting close at midnight on the 15 December 2013, and then the fat lady has sung.

It’s not really for a good cause, there are really no prizes, just bragging rights and a shiny badge.

And then everyone goes home.

sa-best-mommy-blogger-competition-2013-vote-for-me

{http://www.kidzworld.co.za/competitions/mommy-blogger.html}

Is there anything I can do for you?

I was really having a rough day yesterday.

There is just too much going on – I am trying to be all things to everyone, and I am working myself into a bit of a lather.  I have some financial commitments which are a bit challenging and I am starting to really feel “jittery” and wound up.

I have always been averse to the hour in the car driving the kids home.

Maybe because by that point, I have had a long day – and being trapped inside a car with three kids who are all vying for my attention, is usually the tipping point.

Last week and this week have been especially challenging to get Georgia to take her medication each day.  Even though it is crushed and placed inside chocolate spread and neatly placed between two Salticrax biscuits.

Georgia is the same child who can eat a half portions of ribs so fast she bites her finger.

Georgia is the same child who will mow through an adult plate of spaghetti bolognaise.

This child can eat.

But present her with a biscuit and tell her she HAS TO EAT IT is an exercise in frustration and humility if ever there was one.

On Monday it took more than 30 minutes to bribe/threaten/cajole/force her to eat the biscuit – and towards the end I had totally lost my rag.  Screaming at your child in the morning, is a less than ideal start to neither the child, nor your day.

Add a few other things – and by the time I had to fetch the kids – I was feeling edgy at best.  The usual fights ensued as we drove home – and when I got into the driveway, I just could not face walking into the house.  With them.

I thought about running away from home.  But where would I go?

I thought that a little stay at a Clinic might not be a bad option.  But that requires pre-booking, a letter from the medical aid and an emergency visit to my psyciatrist – and he wasn’t answering his cell when I called him.  I do think he is filtering his calls.

I decided instead to just sit in the car.  And stare into my lap.

Connor eventually came through and opened the door.

Connor:  “Mom are you okay?”

Me:  “No, not so much my boy – just having a really rough day…”

Connor: “Is there anything I can do for you?”

There always has to be one child who can see you inside your madness.

Suicide bunny and other musings ….

I am not sure how to start this post.

This is not a cry for help.

This is not a cry for trying to convince me to speak to someone.

Really it is not.

I have this post on the edges of my brain, and if I don’t put it down then what ever I write is going to feel like I am being dishonest.  As that is not what is really on my mind.

I have struggled with depression and an anxiety disorder for some time.  I have my good days, and I have my really cannot get out of bed days, but know I must pull the duvet off and just get on with it days.

I am on the right depression and anxiety medication.  I feel a hundred times better than I did say two years ago.  I am much more level and my emotions and reactions are even keeled.  The internal buzz has more or less quieted down to a mild drone.

Good times.

The addition of IBS has been challenging – the problem with it is that I feel ill much of the time.

My abdomen swells, I look 6 months pregnant – the pain spreads out across my back, then everywhere to the point where my skin actually starts to feel sore.  I am fending off remarks about “when I am due” with way too much frequency – of course it affects how I feel about myself and look horrendous.

I hate the way I look.  I hate looking at myself in the mirror.  I try to avoid seeing myself.  Tricky with floor to ceiling mirrors in our bathroom.

If my child asks me once more if I have I have a baby in my tummy, I might throttle her.

I have changed my diet/intake of food lasts week, because I believe my issue is far greater than a few days of feeling shite.  I am reading a few books on IBS and there have been several home truths -and reading another two for perspective.

book-whatyourdocIBS

The list of what I should avoid is long.

There is no easy quick fix.

There is a however a solution if I carefully monitor my intake, and ensure that I avoid refined sugar, refined wheat, dairy, caffeine and alcohol – pretty much everything at McDonalds.  Clearly I draw the line at excluding alcohol.  Let’s not be rash and too hasty now.

If I am excluding that, then the reason to live starts to get a bit hazy and uncertain.

The last four or five days have been a period of exclusion and making different decisions about what I eat.  There is just no way I can continue to survive and eat as I have been doing.

I don’t eat badly or in excessive, but I just cannot eat this way for myself and be healthy and comfortable.

This requires some thought, and a bit of a rethink about my life going forward.  I am not suggesting that IBS is a bit of a stomach ache.  I am suggesting it has become such a pr0blem that affects my every day functioning – I need to decide to behave differently if living is a goal.

My other issue is misophonia – a violent, sudden and physical reaction to sound.

I generally control the sound I experience and generally it does not change my mood or the way I behave.

The only exclusion is the drive home in the afternoon with the kids from school. It has become abundantly clear that I am actually unable to do that five days a week, and ensure all four of us make it home alive – the fighting and the noise in a confined space is doing my head in.  One drive home at a time.  One at a time.  I wistfully think of giving them bus fare/taxi fare and just “winging” it. If two out of three get home, then it is a win, right?

I have been falling out of the car recently and being thankful we have all made it home alive.  I am so irritated, and tense that the rest of the evening is a total lost cause.

Music radio??

For the love of gd.  It is beyond me how I managed to listen to it for so many years.  At the moment I always have audio CDs to listen to when I get into my car.  I listen to a story, or a collection of music CDs that I know will not trigger a reaction.  More story CDs than music, because I find the repetitive nature of most songs sets me off.  It is like having nails across a chalk board, or cutting wool with your teeth.

However when I get into Kennith’s car he listens to Five FM, and I seriously start wondering if I opened the car door, and released my seat belt if I could quietly roll away and the sound of the repetitive really bad music would stop and I could roll myself into a coma and then quietly pass away.

I am weighing up whether rolling out of the car is better than stabbing him in the temple with my Revlon chubby stick.  I am not sure.  I get more irritated that he does not realise how much the noise is a factor and how much it upsets me.  So instead I sit there and stare out the window and praying the car trip will be over.  Grinding my teeth and praying.  Soon.  Let it end.

Music radio is repetitive and at a pitch that I cannot bear.  5 minutes of five FM and I would kill you to make it stop.  Like dead.  I would feel total comfort in burying your body under my lavender.

Not feeling well, makes me wound tight as a reel.

Everything totally freaks me out.  I am sore, my nerves are shredded and no doubt it just makes my stomach tighten and the cramps and spasms worse.

Priv has just had a baby. Priv is my rock, she is the reason I remain vaguely sane.  The last month (June and July) without her in her usual position has left me frayed and stressed.  I was stressed before she has her baby, as I imagined the worst possible outcome for her and her  baby.

I worried, I fretted.

She went into labour last Monday, and the week was about running back and forth to the hospital, waiting in waiting rooms, trying to navigate the public health system and worrying for her every moment of every day made my nerves frayed, and I am exhausted.  I feel sick with worry.

Priv and her baby girl are happily home and I am relieved.

But I worry.  I worry how this is going to work going forward.  I worry about everything.  I worry about her.  I worry about the baby. I worry about how this arrangement is going to work going forward.  I worry. I worry eternally about everything.  Of course when someone asks I say “it’ll work itself out” in a little sing-song voice I have mastered.

Every little thing. I worry about.  I worry to the point that my jaw is sore because I have it set in such an uncomfortable manner.

If I started biting my nails (as I did until 1999) they would be bitten to the quick and bleeding.  But I have nice nails, and no longer chew them – but I have started scratching my legs – that helps.  I also pinch my upper leg, or I flick my fingers.

I am so worried about her.  I am so worried about me and my ability to cope at the moment.

My IBS on a scale of 1 to 10 is a good and solid 8 1/2 and I feel grim most of the time.  It makes me irritable, hostile and angry. I cannot function when it is at it’s worst.  My stomach swells, I feel nauseous, I feel sweaty – I have cramps and spasms that are surely my comeuppance for not attempting a vag.in.al birth.

The last three nights as I dozed off my mind has been trying to calculate exactly how much medication an overdose would be.  How much would I have to take?  Would I prefer a 3 month coma or straight death?  Tricky, tricky — which will it be?  I have enough schedule 5 drugs to stop a small herd of goats firmly in their tracks.

Could I just go to sleep, and be at peace?  No more pain, no more discomfort, no more feeling shite.  Could that really be an option? Or is it time to schedule another little sojourn in my nearby clinic?

I don’t want to rob my kids of a mom.  I also do not want to be an irritated, upset, horrible mother than clouds their existence.  The reason they are on a leather couch in 15 years bemoaning why the fuck their mother could not just be happy.

I looked at some short videos that Kennith had taken recently of our holiday, and Georgia’s birthday party.

I am not the one smiling.  I never look happy. I look pained, irritated and angry – which is pretty much how I feel most of the time.  I am never smiling in videos or photographs – unless someone tells me to smile, and then it is forced and never moves to my eyes.

I know that if I wrote down a list of “things to be happy for” and “things to be fucked off about” – my list of happy would far exceed my “things to be fucked off about.”

I have a good life.

I have some wonderful advantages in my life, I have so much to be happy about – but I am unfortunately so deeply unhappy.

The reality is that my reality feels dark, sad, pained and confusing — and at a certain point I start to look for ways to step off the fun, but nauseating round about.

So that’s how I feel them.  Clearly not main stream happy, and maybe not Living and Loving Magazine cover bullshit, but there we go.  You know what they say …. actually I have no idea what the fuck they say.

 

suicide bunny

Noise really does change the way you behave …

I have always been somewhat sensitive to sound, to light, to what I deem as “excessive” in either.  Sound is probably the most intrusive.

I also struggle with space and too many people being too close to me, or even being touched too much — I really struggled when my children were small and having them “ON ME” all the time as babies do.  That hot sticky milkiness was as lovely as it was a trigger to drive me to insanity in a green clown side-car.

It would make me feel very anxious and stressed, and I would feel the panic that starts to grip me when ever any of my senses are overloaded.

The problem with all of these “over sensory stimulation” issues is that if you do not realise what they are, and you do not understand why you react in a particularly (and in some cases) violent manner.

You start to convince yourself you are the village freak!

Because what could be wrong with your children touching you, talking to you really loud, in your face, and fighting with each other for who will clamber onto your lap?

It’s normal.  It is natural.

What is not normal, natural and rational is you edging with your back towards a couch or a wall, so that you are defending your back and only have to deal with the “attack” from the front.

This weekend we were away, and I really enjoyed it.  The only thing that makes me very stressed is that when you are travelling and away from home you generally are in situations where everyone is physically together.  Together in the car.  Together in what is usually much smaller accommodation to what you are used to.

Together in that you are walking around the Cango Wildlife Ranch and your children keep grabbing your hands, and hugging your legs, and everytime you sit down it is as if two of them turn into leeches and try to suck the life out of your head, because that is where they appear to be trying to sit.

And talking and talking.  In loud high pitched voices.

Noise and clingy-ness is a natural and normal part of having children.  I  try to adjust and breath through it.

I came across the term “misophonia” about two years ago.

I thought I had stumbled on to the holy grail when I found a support forum at http://www.misophonia.com.

I sat and read people who understood what I was going through.  Who were going through the same things – and they were talking to each other about it.  Rather than sitting in their room weeping because they could not bear to be shamed by “acting funny when there is a noise you do not like.”

I was fortunate to have a psychiatrist and a psychologist and a CBT guy I could chat to – so I was not feeling as lonely, misunderstood and desperate as many people whose only support mechanism is this forum.

The forum however made me realise that there are people like me, and people who suffer more.

I recall reading a post from a guy who had to move to a small town, as he could not deal with the surround sound you get in a city.  He also had to move to a place where he could walk to work, as he found the noise of the bus too noisy, and it would put him into a state of panic.

I saw this post on the forum recently, and I wanted to share it with you:

Once again I would like to affirm uncategorically, this is indeed a real condition, with real physiological changes in the bodily functioning, even if we cannot ‘prove’ it yet.

This is not some weird psychological condition that you created for whatever reason for yourselves.

The over riding pattern of onset, identical histories and reactions, having evaluated 100s of patients and corresponded with 1000s by phone or email or Skype…..it is all to me one long running documentary that supports the fact
the Selective Sound Sensitivity/Miso is indeed a real condition, a genuine alteration or aberration in the way the central nervous system is functioning.

Many people struggle with this, every day I am asked, isn’t this just a psychological issue, like a phobia?

No, it is not.

Every day I am asked, people think I could just stop it, but I can’t. If I try harder, can I stop?

No. No more than you can try to stop the red blood cells from flowing into your arteries and veins. No, you cannot stop it by thinking your way out of it. No, you cannot stop it by simply ‘stopping’ it.

You can control your reactions, you can keep a public face, you can manage your environment for your best outcomes and highest comfort.

I really need to be clear here, in my own words, carefully chosen as I do not want to paint of picture of hopelessness, I want to affirm the fact that 4S/mis is a true condition that has biochemical and genetic components.

How we can change that is all up for grabs right now, some approaches are proving more effective than others.

And I do not mean to imply that proper psychological counseling does not help those who suffer, it surely does!

But that in itself, does not ‘cure’ 4S/miso, it can certainly alter how we manage our responses.

I need to say this often, I get so many calls or emails from people, parents, desperate for help or information and many have been told they have an emotional/mental problem. Every day I see kids who have been diagnosed with all kinds of things who primarily show signs of 4S/miso more than any other symptom.

Please, believe me, I have proof of the pudding with 15 years of contacts and direct clinical experience, this is real, this is physical, this is going to be imaged one of these days.

Dr. Marsha Johnson, Audiologist

I had spoken to my audiologist, my ear specialist, my CBT guy and my psyciatrist and none of them had ever heard of Misophonia.

The point I am trying to make with this is not that it DOES NOT EXIST, but the fact that it does, and it is often so poorly recognised that the medical fraternity does not diagnose it and thus treat it – or supply advise and expertise on how you can deal with it.

I cannot tell you how I felt a sense of “see I was right” when I had searched and searched and spoken to people about my aversion to sound, and how it sets me off.  How it changes the way I feel.  And what a revelation it was to know that it is real, and there are thousands (maybe millions) of people who struggle with the same.

How noise or particular sounds puts me into an advanced state of panic and anxiety.

Most people associate it as a symptom of anxiety and stress disorder, but maybe it isn’t.  Maybe it is a “thing” that sets off the anxiety and stress, and not symptom of it.

Misophonia Symptoms:  People who have misophonia are most commonly annoyed, or even enraged, by such ordinary sounds as other people clipping their nails, brushing teeth, eating, breathing, sniffing, talking, sneezing, yawning, walking, chewing gum, laughing, snoring, typing on a keyboard, whistling or coughing; certain consonants; or repetitive sounds. Some are also affected by visual stimuli, such as repetitive foot or body movements, fidgeting or any movement they might observe out of the corner of their eyes. Intense anxiety and avoidant behavior may develop, which can lead to decreased socialization. Some people may feel the compulsion to mimic what they hear or see.

Misophonia it is a real condition people.

stop popping that gum.  stop slurping that soup.  for the love of god stop chewing so damn loud.  leaves room.  slams door.  lies on bed in room where it is quiet until the kids find me.

{another good resource – http://misophoniasupport.tumblr.com/}

misphonia