Categories
Anxiety Depression Mental Illness

Meds and TW: Intrusive thoughts

It is my aim to be as frank as possible on here. I think being honest is incredibly important; not only for me, but for anyone who reads this.

When I talk about dealing with mental illness and disability I do it for two main reasons: firstly, this is a place for me to express my feelings. It is almost cathartic being completely honest, because it helps me to deal with things. I used to be someone who bottled things up for days at a time, only ever expressing emotion when things got to much and I broke down in tears/lashed out in fits of anger. This wasn’t healthy and I’m trying to change that. It just so happens that this is a great way to be upfront and honest. Secondly, being honest is the right thing to do. I don’t want to lie about my experiences. On the whole, things are good right now, but when things aren’t I don’t want to sit here and pretend they are. it’s doing myself a disservice.

This post might be a little surprising/ridiculous and you don’t have to read it if it isn’t your cup of tea. You can hang on and wait until I post something else; that’s the beauty of blogging. But today I am going to be totally upfront because it is important for me.

If you have been reading you’ll know I’m currently on medication to control the symptoms of my anxiety and depression. Without this medication, I cannot function. At my worst, I couldn’t leave my room without panicking, nevermind leave the house. So yes, they have been fantastic at minimising these panics. I also cry far less than I used to: if I remember rightly it was at the end of my second year when all my assignments were due in that things got Bad. I remember having to write an essay on Chaucer’s Wife of Bath Prologue whilst taking breaks out to cry.

Seriously. It got that bad.

Fluoxetine has been one of the wisest choices I’ve ever made; I can go out, I can go shopping, I don’t always feel terrified; although of course I have bad days. But fluoxetine has been brewing some nasty little intrusive thoughts. And – annoyingly- this is the only problem I have with it.

It doesn’t seem like much, but these thoughts have been disturbing to say the least. I’ve never acted on them (if i did it’d be an absolute disaster) but it doesn’t make them any less terrifying. They’re usually triggered by seeing sharp objects; knives in particular. And i get this little thought in my head that goes ‘hey, I wonder what would happen if you just stabbed yourself with that? you know. just a little bit. You should, you really should. Just try it!’  

wow. okay.

So of course these had to stop. At first I was worried about mentioning the thoughts in case they became so concerned they decided to do something drastic (I know, I don’t know, don’t ask) but I did, and turns out they’re just changing my medication, so that’s easy enough. So long fluoxetine, you’ve served me well (sort of).

Sertraline; I hope you’ll be good to me.

I hope you’re having a good Thursday.

Heather x

 

Categories
Mental Illness Things Cerebral Palsy and Scheuermann's Related Uncategorized

Meds, Appointments and Pain…

…are just a few words to sum up the last few months. It’s really strange. I worked out the other day that I haven’t had a single week free of hospital appointments since I moved back to uni. That’s three months with at least one hospital appointment every week (but sometimes up to four a week).

I am exhausted.

Being perpetually tired is something i’ve had to get used to as of late, and the worst thing is I don’t know what it is that is leaving me so run down. The other day I had my occupational therapy appointment. For anyone who doesn’t know, they basically help you to ‘do’ things better. So in my case – cerebral palsy (right hemi) – they  help me to make sure my hand has ‘reached its full potential’ in terms of coordination and control. As it turns out, I have a pretty powerful grip in my palms, but I find controlling my fingers and other fine motor movements completely frustrating. I can’t pick things up with my fingers  very easily at all, or do up buttons, or cut up my food at dinner, or use my right hand when my left hand is full (getting on the bus with the change in one hand/ticket in the other/personal belongings balanced somewhere on my person is incredibly challenging).

As is the case for many with a disability you learn to adapt to difficulties, and you manage to find a way around the more challenging daily activities. This isn’t always a conscious effort, and as my occupational therapist pointed out I won’t realise I’m making these changes. The adaptations one makes with CP aren’t ‘natural’; they’re not energy-efficient or ‘easy’ movements because they’re not the movements the body is designed to do. I had always read that people with CP expend between 3-5 times more energy than those without but I didn’t quite realise this until the other day, particularly with regards to my own CP.

My therapist gave me a simple task to complete with my right hand; I had to place plastic pegs into holes on a board. This wasn’t a trick and there was nothing sneaky going on: it was just a simple, easy activity.

But not for me.

As I tried to gain control of my fingers to pick up the pegs I dropped them. I then struggled to get the pegs at the right angle if I managed to pick them up (very awkwardly). My elbow was pointing outward, my wrist was curled under, and my whole posture changed; I was so, so intent on completing this activity my head felt like it would explode. Everything about my body was fixated on trying to complete this one little meaningless task, and it completely exhausted me.

and, most of all, I felt like a failure because I couldn’t.

I’ve never done these tasks before, and I’ve never seen an occupational therapist until this year. Treatment was mostly focused on my leg (physio, the occasional neuro and consultant) and my walking, as I had an operation to enable me to do so when I was very small. I think my hand just got a little bit left out on the way, and as a result I’m finding all these tasks impossible and ridiculous and a little bit of a shock to be honest.

Of course I’ve always known I haven’t had good control over my hand, and I often deliberately avoid using it because I drop things and have in the past been made fun of for it (kids, eh). But this exercise drove it all home to me.

It’s hard to live with a brain injury. It’s frustrating when your body doesn’t behave in the way you want it to. And it’s tiring, because not only is it physically taxing but mentally frustrating.

We had a long discussion about Everything, and it was so refreshing because I felt like she really understood me. We discussed the fatigue, and really it’s probably a variety of things combined into one; med side effects, pain-related tiredness, depression, anxiety, CP…and for now that’s something I have to work through. I need my medication. I can’t just stop doing things. And unfortunately neither my pain nor brain (ha!) can switch off for very long.

But most importantly what my therapist made sure I knew was that it is okay. It is okay to feel this way. It’s okay to take rest days, and it’s okay to have a break.

Living with a disability isn’t easy.

It is not okay however to make myself feel bad about all this, and feel bad about the fact I’m tired, or think of myself as a failure, or less than worthy. Because those thoughts just add fuel to the fire.

Having the depression and anxiety on top of the CP/spinal problem really doesn’t help (and I spend a lot of my day feeling sad/empty/guilty/horribly anxious as it is) but I do not need to add to these feelings.

I am not a failure, because I will learn how to do things differently. I will thrive, because I’ve already come this far without the help.

Getting used to everything is taking time, but I think I am getting there. It’s just going to take time.

I am sorry because this is a really rambling, ridiculous post, but (as always) many thanks for reading if you got this far. It means a lot.

Take care of yourself whatever you’re doing; we could all do with a break every now and then.

Heather x

 

 

Categories
Anxiety Depression Mental Illness My Life Uncategorized

Happiness is…

  1. wrapping up warm in the crisp, cold weather, 2. frothy coffee the first thing in the morning, 3. meeting new people and putting names to faces, 4. sharing tapas and laughter and drinks with Drew, 5. that bubbly, lovely feeling you get when sipping on cava, 6. cosying up under blankets and watching rubbish tv, 7. knowing your best friend is coming to visit, 8. feeling Happy and not Sad, 9. feeling like I’m getting somewhere with hospital appointments, 10. slowly starting to feel at peace with taking meds and everything else.

I know it’s all going to be okay.

Heather x

Categories
Anxiety Depression Mental Illness Studying at University with Disabilities

Learning

It may be a cliché, but it’s true: you do learn something new everyday. With every new day I’m learning more and more about myself. I’m learning that thought things may be difficult, I can find a way to work through them. I am learning that I am resilient if I give myself the right conditions. I am learning to try and accept the things I cannot change; I’m not being pessimistic, but realistic. I am giving myself time, and this is something I’ve always struggled with.

Part of my problem living with both my physical conditions and my mental illnesses is I don’t cut myself any slack. Though I know I’m technically ill – and that I can’t necessarily help it – I’m always beating myself up about things. I’m always wishing that I could do more, that I should push myself  and just deal with the consequences later. I know this isn’t productive as it’s a really destructive habit but it’s hard to accept that sometimes you need to do things a little differently to get by.

But, I think things are starting to change ever so slowly.

Yesterday was one of ‘those’ days. The night before I barely slept (perhaps slept for four hours in total) and my anxiety was running wild. I kept convincing myself that the shadows on the wall were people/scary things (yes, I know it’s totally irrational) and the usual narrative of ‘nobody likes you, you’ll get nowhere, you’re worth nothing, everything is terrible and you deserve it’ was circling around my head. It  was just a terrible, teary, ridiculous night. And as is usual after a night like that these feelings continued into the morning. I woke up feeling pretty low, but this sadness descended into complete emptiness and before I knew it I was crying uncontrollably on the floor.

I know. It really was quite a scene.

I was due in a seminar in the morning and the thought of missing it made me feel horrendous. Yet I knew I was no use to anyone unless they wanted to witness someone crying for the whole three hours of course. Drew – being the lovely person he is – tried to calm me down and convinced me to stay at home. I felt so incredibly guilty about it, but for the first time, I didn’t really put up a fight. I knew I couldn’t go in – there was no point lying about it – and suddenly I realised it will all be okay.

It is all okay.

As I suspected, the department were completely and utterly lovely about it all. They’ve offered help and support to help me through the remainder of my MRes course and no, despite what my anxious-brain thinks, no one hates me. No one has bad feelings towards me. They understand and are there to help.

And sure enough, after my day off yesterday filled with guinea pig cuddles and animal crossing and cups of tea in bed, I am feeling a lot better today.

Living with mental illness is a constant battle with yourself. it’s a constant struggle with your emotions. It’s knowing you’re not well but desperately trying to fight it. It is a constant, uphill battle.

But I can work through this. And I will.

Today is a more positive day. I cleaned out the guinea pigs and fed them tomatoes and carrots and gave them cuddles. I’ve even washed up some crockery and tried to tidy up the living room which is something I couldn’t face yesterday. I’ve had a frothy coffee (my Tassimo coffee in the mornings is such a treat) and I’m planning to bake some banana muffins.

Today can be a good day if just cut yourself some slack. You’re human; you are no superhero (although of course you are always magical and wonderful).

I hope you’re having a happy Tuesday whatever you’re doing. If my banana muffins prove successful, I’ll try and get a recipe up for you all. Cross your fingers for me!

Take care of yourself,

Heather x

Categories
Anxiety Depression Mental Illness

It has been quiet…

…over this way and for that I apologise. It hasn’t been the easiest of weeks, and I’ve had a little bit of a blip in terms of anxiety and depression. This morning I didn’t even want to leave the house. I can’t work out whether it was too noisy or I’d overfaced myself with tasks (I’ve given myself a lot to do recently) but I hate having these little blips. I constantly forget I still HAVE anxiety and depression. I seem to think it should be completely gone and I should be over it and I should get on with my life but then it hits me and I feel like I’m back to square one. I’m exhausted (I think it’s related to the anxiety/depression) but I keep having to schedule naps in and I’m still tired afterwards. It sucks.

I guess I should give myself a break but I can’t help but think I should be getting on with my life now. Making myself feel bad isn’t helping, and I know that, but I feel like I’m stuck in a rut and I’m finding it difficult to get out.

Next week is my induction week for my MRes course I’m starting this month. I’m excited, but feeling very apprehensive as I have so many hospital appointments on the horizon and I don’t want my health to get in the way of my degree. I feel like I’ve had enough with that last year, and I’m currently on weekly appointments for pain, will be having mri scans, occupational therapy, physio and a meeting with an orthopaedic surgeon and orthotist. It’s getting to be a little intense, and it probably isn’t helping my anxiety.

Sometimes I’d just love to have a magic wand come and wave everything away; wave this constant pain away, wave the irrational thoughts away, the sadness and the guilt and the self-loathing away, the sleepless nights, the appointments…I guess all it boils down to is that I’m just not feeling my best currently. I’m hoping things will improve soon and that I’ll be able to stick to some sort of blogging routine. There’s so much I want to share with you all.

As always, thanks for reading, I’m sorry this hasn’t been the most cheery of posts.

I do hope you’re having a good Wednesday whatever you’re up to, and I hope to return soon with soon with something a little happier.

Heather x

tiredness associated with pain away, wave the Bad Thoughts aware, the irrational

Categories
My Life

Happiness is…

1) holding hands, 2)reading in the dark, 3)being tucked up in a warm bed, 4) mini caterpillar cakes, 5) the sun shining through the window in the morning, 6) the frothy top of a steamy hot coffee, 7) baby animals, 8) seeing good friends, 9) planning wonderful days out, 10) realising things are all going to be okay in the end.

Categories
Anxiety Depression Mental Illness My Life

Getting through

I’m so tantalisingly close to finishing my work for my final undergraduate year. I’m so close but I just feel so defeated. I have lost faith in my abilities to construct a good piece of work. I have lost faith in my body because even when I try to push through – to try and push past the pain – the pain still exists. It hangs around, it takes hostage of my body, and does everything in its power to screw things up.
It’s taking all of my mental strength to keep this up.
Today I’m feeling depressed for the first time since my meds started working. Not like the hot, burning anxiety that is always somewhere in the background despite my meds, but that sinking, I-Have-Nothing-Good-To-Contribute-To-Anything/I’m-Shit-Compared-To-Everyone-Else feeling. It’s a swelling numbness that flows through my veins, it is slowly disabling me and I don’t know how to alleviate it.
My dissertation is in tomorrow. I still have to tidy it up and format it. I’m so, so incredibly worried that it’s just a whole pile of shit and not worth anything at all. It’s embarrassing me.
I’m embarrassing me.

I’m hoping I can compose myself soon. It’s going to be a long, long night.

Heather x

Categories
My Life

it is time

it is time to stop torturing myself with poisonous thoughts

it is time to stop crying over things I can’t change

it is time I did things for myself

it is time to stop worrying about other people all the time

it is time to start being a little bit selfish

it is time to take control of all this

it is time to get back to being me

Categories
My Life

Validation

Hi everyone. I hope you are having a great Saturday. This will be another somewhat informative post following on from the last, https://nosuperhero.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/anxiety-taking-baby-steps/ Yesterday was a real turning point for me. In my last post you might remember I opened up about my struggles with anxiety and coming to terms with the fact that I’m at a point where I need some help. Yesterday was my first appointment with regards to my anxiety, often referred to as a mental health assessment. It was a really weird day. As expected, I was really worried about going. I knew it was the one thing I needed to do to keep the ball rolling, but that alone wasn’t enough to stop me from panicking. I knew I was going to find the day tough, so I wanted to take things slowly. Drew was kind enough to offer to come with me, so in the morning I opted to make us breakfast. I attempted to make American pancakes filled with blueberries, and although they looked alright they were slightly underdone in the middle. I got really upset about this; it’s such a silly thing, but at the time those pancakes felt like the most important thing in the world. We managed to rectify them, but by the time they were okay I was too upset to eat them. It appeared that breakfast time set the mood for the entirety of the day. They did look okay, though.

Pancakes for breakfast

The journey to the health centre was filled with anxiety. After being coerced to leave the house by Drew (which resulted in tears), I sat panicking whilst waiting for a taxi at the local taxi rank. Once the taxi arrived, I felt somewhat relieved, (at least I wasn’t going to be late) but I was on the way to a part of town I’ve barely heard of before, nevermind visited. The wait in the waiting room was horrendous. It was loud, uncomfortable and my appointment ended up being nearly half an hour later than intended. I was jumpy and close to tears, so it took all my strength to stay. Drew and I did decide that we’d make pizzas from scratch for dinner, which did help a little. At least I had the thought of homemade pizzas to look forward to! By the time I was called in I was overly emotional. Almost as soon as I sat in the room I burst into tears. It was at this point I realised I’d have to recount some very painful and traumatic memories. Once this was over however, I knew I’d be one step closer to the help I so desperately needed.

The hour seems like a complete blur to me. There were questions after questions, and lots of numerical scales to fill out. I was constantly worried that I’d give the wrong answer or say the wrong thing, but I got through it. I knew anxiety was the issue, so it came as no surprise that they said I have severe anxiety (according to the scales, so not neccessarily completely accurate but definitely in the right area). What was a bit odd was the conclusion that I also have moderate depression. Initially I was surprised, but it does make a lot of sense having thought about it. With these conclusions came overwhelming relief. Finally, someone was telling me the things I’ve been going through aren’t normal. Someone actually sat and told me that these feelings aren’t a figment of my imagination. They provided the validation that I needed, the validation that said ‘yes, I am entitled to help’, and ‘yes, I can and will receive that help’. I’m so glad I stayed. I’m so glad I got through that appointment, despite the tears and my bright red face.

I have decided that counselling will be the first port of call. I think having an outlet where I can vent my frustrations and anxieties will help me immensely. They did mention medication; that’s something I am open to thinking about, but for now I want to try alternative measures.

I left the appointment feeling both relieved and apprehensive. What will come next? Will it help? I’m certain I can get through this. I’m under no illusions and I know it will take time. But making that first step means the solution is nearer than it was before, and that can only be a good thing. I went and bought a new mini cupcake tray, pizza and cake ingredients.

Yes, we did make pizzas. They were definitely worth the wait.

pizza for two

mmm

I also went ahead and made cupcakes. Expect a recipe post soon as they were pretty good considering baking is a weakness of mine. This whole weekend is turning into a cooking weekend, as tonight I’m attempting to make a lasagne with handmade pasta. Cooking is proving to be great therapy.

cupcakescupcakescupcakescupcakes

I think brighter days are certainly on the horizon.

Have a  brilliant weekend, whatever you may be up to.

Heather