Depression

Brain Malfunction………

Since Christmas my brain has been working against me. I always struggle with my depression in January and this year has been no exception. Just after Christmas I wrote a list of all the things I’d wanted to achieve in 2020. Due to being so unwell in 2019 I felt like it was a year wasted. We are now in the second week of February and I have yet to even start anything on the list.

I’ve mentioned Behavioural Activation in a previous post as a way to stop my procrastination but as of yet I haven’t even begun to look at it. I know I need to make a start and it is getting to the point where I’m just going to have to force myself to do it.

I think I am slowly coming out of it though as I’m finally going to go swimming this afternoon. I really need to increase my activity as I’m struggling to lose the last bit of weight. I am so close to being a healthy weight -only 3lbs away- and it’s become more important to me as I’ve had my genome sequenced (I’ll write another post on this later) and it shows that I’m at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For me, losing weight was always about my health so this has lit a fire under my butt!

I’m also starting to look forward to the rest of the year. David and I will be celebrating our silver wedding anniversary in September and are planning a trip to the US. We’ve always wanted to go to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida and I really want to visit the Atheist Community of Austin in Texas so we will be doing both.

I think it is obvious to anyone reading this post that it was written over a period of a few days. The first two paragraphs were written two days ago when I was feeling very low and the remainder was written today. I find writing this blog extremely cathartic and I think this post has moved my brain into action.

Mathematics

Revisiting Old Friends……..

I desperately need to get some structure to my day. I’ve been spending far too much time watching videos on YouTube and my brain is stagnating. My hobbies do not tax my brain enough so I have decided to prepare myself for doing an Open University degree in mathematics.

I did a number of university level courses in maths on Coursera.org about 8 years ago which I really enjoyed but feel that I need a thorough revision of the fundamentals to ensure that I have all the bases covered.

I had a quick look at the current A-level text books and found that they didn’t appear to be at the same level that I remember from sixth form. I remembered the books I had at school being far superior but I couldn’t remember the authors. I knew the pure mathematics book was blue and the applied mathematics book was orange. I did a search on amazon and initially came up with nothing. I then saw a book that looked similar and immediately recognised the names of the authors; L. Bostock and S. Chandler. The text books by these authors for A-Level Maths and Further Maths were still in print but pricey at over £40 each but I managed to buy a second hand set at a total of £40 for all four.

I am now eagerly awaiting delivery and welcoming back some old friends. Hopefully this will fill the void in my life at the moment.

Depression, Fibromyalgia

Behavioural Activation……..

I suppose most people procrastinate at sometime in their lives especially when needing to fulfil onerous tasks. At school I was always leaving my homework to the last minute unless it was a subject I enjoyed

Since becoming ill with depression and fibromyalgia my procrastination has reached epic levels. Being so tall I have difficulty buying coats with long enough sleeves so I thought I’d have a go at making myself a full length winter coat. I chose a pattern and ordered the required materials back in March. It is now October and I still haven’t made a start. I keep making plans to start on a certain day and end up dithering and making excuses. It is the same with my reborning (making hand painted realistic dolls); I started my current doll back in August and haven’t worked on it since my surgery.

I sometimes think I’m like this because of my perfectionism i.e. while I’m not doing the activity I’m not making any mistakes. I always feel better about myself when I’m being productive and I wish I could motivate myself more.

Behavioural activation is a branch cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that aims to help people engage more often in enjoyable activities and develop or enhance problem-solving skills. One of the symptoms of depression and chronic pain is a loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyed. These activities are seen as not being worth the effort and this creates the vicious cycle seen below:

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Behavioural activation involves looking at any obstacles to participation in activities and making strategies to overcome them. This may involve breaking the activity down into smaller, more manageable steps. It is often helpful to keep a record of thoughts and feelings while doing activities. This can be used to identify what worked and what didn’t with the goal of finding a positive solution to problems encountered. The ultimate aim of behavioural activation is to shift the person from the cycle shown on the left of the diagram to the cycle on the right thus releasing them from the inaction that made their depression worse.

There is a course on behavioural activation that I can attend locally so I think I’ll go and enrol now.

Depression

Social Media Fatigue……..

Having been unable to work for over 10 years due to the fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue I have spent a lot of time on the internet and social media. At my worst times it has been the only way I’ve been able to interact with the outside world.

I have an extremely active mind with a strong focus on logic and reason. In the past I have enjoyed discussing topics with people on social media however over the past few months I have become increasingly annoyed with anything that is based on religion, pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. I have always tried to respect other peoples beliefs in such things but I increasingly want to call people out on – what I see as – their stupidity. I’ve literally typed out multiple angry responses and then deleted them; all but one. Unfortunately this was mistakenly taken as an accusation towards someones friend rather than a general comment on the subject in question. Obviously I immediately apologised and explained that it was not meant as it appeared but it has left me with a lot of anxiety.

The only way I feel able to cope with the anger and anxiety is to take a prolonged break from social media; Facebook in particular. I may even decide to deactivate my account at a later date. It will be hard losing contact with friends that I rarely see but I don’t see another option right now.

Uncategorized

Finally some answers and getting my brain back on track……..

Anyone reading this blog over the past 8 months will understand when I say that this year has been tough. I have had multiple vomiting attacks with increasing intensity. Although I was finally diagnosed with gallstones my consultant said that my symptoms were very atypical and warned that removing my gallbladder may not resolve all of them.

On August 7th I had gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy). During the operation my surgeon discovered that my colon had wrapped itself around the tubing of my gastric band creating a very acute angle in the top right hand corner. This was the cause of the distortion that was seen in the CT scan earlier this year that was originally thought to be caused by constipation. The tubing has now been cut and everything released. I am feeling so much better now. I didn’t realise quite how unwell I had been feeling until everything was sorted out. The stomach cramps and loud bowel sounds have all stopped and so far I haven’t been sick.

Now I have to get myself back to normal. Since my scary attack in June I have not been sticking to the Slimming World plan at all. All I’ve wanted to eat are sandwiches, mini cheddars and smarties. I have gained a few pounds but not enough to make much of a difference to the way I look; a benefit of being tall I suppose. Having a few of my old favourites has been nice but I have found it very difficult to give them up again. My brain keeps coming up with excuses as to why I should put off returning to healthy eating for yet another day. I finally succeeded in having a day fully on plan today so this should spur me on to continue.

I also need to build up my activity again. I’m still only 12 days post surgery so I need to be a bit careful. My abdominal muscles are still sore and I’m finding that I need to support my middle with my arm when I’m walking for anything longer than a few seconds. I just need to grit my teeth and get on with it. I’m planning on starting swimming again in 3 weeks and I’m hoping it will help to tone up some of my sagging skin.

For the first time this year I am confident that things are going to get better!

Depression

My inner voice……..

It has always been a question in philosophy how one can prove to another conscious being of their own consciousness. I know for certain that I am conscious and that I exist. I also accept that my consciousness is merely an emergent property of my brain and that when my brain dies my consciousness will cease to exist. I converse with myself in my native tongue of English and I can remember doing this from about the age of 2.

When I started school I remember questioning why I wasn’t like everybody else, why I couldn’t say anything right or act ‘normal’. As I got older and developed depression this turned into a constant diatribe of internal belittling. I hated myself for being overweight, lying for attention and being what I thought of as a freak. The only way I could comfort myself was by getting good grades and eating junk. The latter was obviously counterproductive.

This inner voice continued well into adulthood. Having a husband that loved me unconditionally and two beautiful daughters didn’t seem to make a difference. Although very grateful, I felt that I was undeserving of it all. This led to some unreasonable behaviour on my part especially when David wanted to do something on his own. It was only when this behaviour was pointed out to me a couple of years ago that I realised how destructive it was.

Once I’d made the decision to change and worked on thinking and acting differently my self hating inner voice stopped. It took a few months but I actually -for the first time in my life- started to like myself. The change was so startling that my youngest daughter asked if I’d started taking a new medication. I no longer feel inferior to other people despite my difficulties. It is these difficulties that make me who I am and I wouldn’t change anything because I’m doing ok.

Weight

It’s official, losing weight can be hazardous for your health……..

It’s been a while since my last post due to a number of -what I have been calling all year- vomiting attacks. In March I thought they were caused by my pain medication which is why I came off them. Two weeks ago I had the worst attack of the year which lasted 5 days and scared the shit out of me.

I cannot fault the NHS. The locum doctor recommended that I contact the consultant that did my gastric banding surgery. The consultant saw me within 3 days and immediately suspected that I had gallstones. Within 2 days I had an ultrasound scan and confirmation that he was right. He thinks that they have been caused by my “profound” weight loss. I knew this could happen as they remove the gallbladder when they do gastric bypass operations for this reason.

I am so relieved to finally have a diagnosis. The attacks happen when a stone enters the bile ducts trying to get to the intestines. Before I came off my painkillers I didn’t feel a lot of pain during the attacks but I did during the most recent one. This really helped with the diagnosis so I don’t regret coming off my painkillers one bit.

I did mention to my GP back in March that I had discomfort under my ribs on the right hand side but because my CT scan didn’t show anything he dismissed it as IBS. However gallstones only show up on a CT scan if they are calcified. I’m surprised he dismissed it so readily. To be fair though I hadn’t specifically sought help for the attacks. Had I mentioned the two together he would have had the full picture.

So what’s next? I need to have my gallbladder removed asap. Fortunately David has medical insurance through his work so I can get it done privately so it should be in the next few weeks. I’m hoping to have the gastric band removed at the same time. I need to put my health first now. I am not worried about gaining weight afterwards as the band has been deflated for years and not providing any restriction. It does make me eat slower though so I will need to watch this. I will continue to attend Slimming World every week even after I reach my target weight (7.5lbs to go!) and I’m hoping this will be enough to keep me on track.