Depression

The grass is always greener on the other side……..

When I am in one of my lows, I often reflect negatively on how my life has turned out. I find looking at pictures of myself when I was little very sad because I feel that that little girl had the potential to become anything she wanted.

me

While growing up children are always asked what they want to do when they’re older. For me it was to become a doctor and one of my biggest regrets is not having the confidence to go for it when I was younger. I chose to become a mother at the age of 19 and I certainly don’t regret it but it did mean that I had to put my career on hold. I stayed at home with my girls until both were at school. I then decided it was time for me to start my working life.

I’ve discussed what happened in my previous posts so I won’t go into it again. To cut a long story short my depression and inability to cope with stress led to me developing fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. At times I feel very defeated and ask myself over and over again; why couldn’t I cope? I am very lucky that David has a highly paid job so we don’t have any money worries but I hate the fact that I can’t contribute.

This week when I was feeling low I tried to imagine what my life would be like now if I had become doctor. I certainly would have a successful career but would I have been happy? If I had concentrated on becoming a doctor I probably wouldn’t have met my soulmate and had two beautiful children and I might have regretted it. When I realised this a lot of my feelings of regret disappeared.

Life is far too short to keep second guessing your decisions. There isn’t enough time to do everything so you just have to make the most of every day and do the best you can.

Depression, Fibromyalgia

A Quick Update……..

I’m feeling very defeated at the moment. I had yet another bout gastroenteritis which was so severe that David called an ambulance for me because I had gone into withdrawal from my pain medication. I’m now recovered but feeling very, very tired. I’ve tried to reduce my pain medication but couldn’t tolerate the increase in my pain levels. I’ve also had a relapse in my depression and anxiety after being stable for over a year. My doctor has increased my antidepressant dose so hopefully I will be feeling better in a couple of weeks.

On the positive side before I was ill, I did manage to finally go to a yoga class. The first surprise was that the class was held in semi darkness. For me this was great because it meant that I felt less self conscious. I was also able to do the whole class without having to rest. The form of yoga that was taught was hatha yoga. Hatha yoga involves moving into poses and holding them while concentrating on breathing. My flexibility is very much reduced due to the fibromyalgia and some of the poses were difficult for me but for my first class I think I did ok. I can really see how yoga is going to help rehabilitate my muscles so maybe in the future when my muscles are stronger I can try again to reduce my pain medication.

Depression, Fibromyalgia

Killing Time……..

The month of January wasn’t finished with throwing its curved balls at me. I had a further bout of gastroenteritis to get through but I recovered quite quickly. I am now in a flare up of my fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. It is so frustrating as my brain is active. I want so much to be productive and achieve something with my time. There is nothing so soul destroying as sitting on the couch watching daytime television and endless YouTube videos.

Losing my Dad to cancer in June 2017 has made me acutely aware of my own mortality. I will be 46 in a weeks time and I have always assumed that I will make it well into my eighties. My Dad was 71 when he died and I’ve realised that there are no guarantees in this life.

I want to make the most of every day. I know it’s impossible to do something extraordinary every single day but I at least want to do something of use. I always make sure that I treat people with respect and kindness and I will always help anyone who needs it. Doing something for myself? That’s where the problems lie.

When I’m tired, low and in pain I tend go into myself and sit and stare; this may be due, in part to my medication. I literally feel that I’m just ‘killing’ time. At times I can force myself to do something but within 5-10 minutes my concentration wanes and I end up putting it away. Perhaps I am being too hard on myself again. I feel that I’ve lost 10 years of my life to this illness and I don’t want to waste any more. I have so much I want to do and I’m just not doing any of it.

I’m sorry that this is such a miserable post. I will try to do better next time.

Fibromyalgia, Weight

Recovering from illness……..

I haven’t been able to post for a while because of illness. Due to being on strong painkillers I missed the symptoms of cystitis and ended up with a nasty kidney infection again. The antibiotics I was given caused some serious gastrointestinal problems. Long story short I was pretty sick. The infection has now been cleared with a different antibiotic and I am recovering.

What I am left with is extreme fatigue, smell sensitivity and a total dislike of any food I ate previously. I know it’s normal to go off the food you ate before being sick but this is more extreme. I like to eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch everyday, it just makes my life easier if I don’t have to think about my meals. I was really worried that I’d end up only being able to eat food that didn’t fit into the Slimming World plan and maybe gaining weight. Fortunately I remembered that Blue Diamond Almond Breeze milk is only 6 syns for a litre so I have been making rice pudding with it. I know it’s a bit weird having rice pudding for lunch but it is really working for me. Today I got my 5 stone award and my total weight loss from my heaviest weight (which is 2 stone heavier than when I started Slimming World) is now 102lbs. I haven’t been this light since my early twenties.

As far as exercise is concerned it’s a bit slow. I had to take a week and half off from doing my walk while I was ill and I only started again yesterday. My pace is very much reduced but I am sure I will be back to where I was fairly quickly. Yoga is still booked but again has been delayed. David and I are planning to go to our first class next Monday evening. I have high hopes for yoga in that some of the techniques will enable me to reduce my pain medication.

It’s been a frustrating time. I had all these plans for January which had to be put on hold for while. My 2019 begins here!

Depression, Fibromyalgia

Post Christmas Slump……..

For as long as I can remember I have always found the period from New Year to my birthday mid February difficult. I used to put in down to seasonal affective disorder with the lack of daylight being the cause. If this were true however, the effects should have started before January when the shorter daylight hours began. I think the fact that there are a number of family birthdays and Christmas to prepare for in November and December help to keep me focussed. There were things that had to done within a set period of time.

Now I am faced with having to motivate myself to do things without the pressure of time which I have always found difficult. At school I was the pupil that left their homework to the night before it was due especially if it was for a subject I didn’t like. My situation is also complicated by the fact that my CFS isn’t great at the moment. I am feeling tired a lot of time so my brain is on a go slow and everything feels like such a monumental effort.

I’m doing all I can to keep the house ticking over thereby removing any additional stress from David who is also finding things difficult at the moment. It is the first time in years that I feel that I am pulling my weight in our partnership and I don’t want to go back to being totally dependent again. It is for this reason that I am doing my utmost to keep my eating and exercise regimes going, even though it’s extra hard at the moment. I have my one-to-one yoga session on Wednesday morning which I am actually looking forward to.

I have decided to delay my medication changes until after my birthday as I don’t see the point of making an already difficult time worse. The fact that I have felt able to do this is huge, usually when I decide to do something and plan a date I stick to it regardless of whether it is advisable or not. My Slimming World consultant, Paula said on Friday that I have learned to be kinder to myself and I think this is the reason why I have been able to make progress long term.

Fibromyalgia, Weight

A general update……..

In my post of November 3rd I wrote about the final barrier I had to overcome in my fight against fibromyalgia i.e. stretching my tight muscles. True to form I have been procrastinating due to the fear of pain. I decided that I really had to do something to prevent me from putting it off any longer. A lot of fibromyalgia self help books recommend yoga. I did a bit of research into local groups and found a qualified instructor who offered an initial one-to-one session and lessons for a month for only £65. This means that I can try it out without having to worry about interacting socially with lots of new people all at once.

The instructor is called Ben Parkes and he has his own company ‘imaginatively’ called YogaBen. He was encouraging in his emails and I’m actually looking forward to getting started. Besides the muscle workout some of the class is spent on relaxation and mindfulness which in the past have proved very difficult for me. I am willing to give it 100% in the hopes that it will improve my overall health albeit in the long term.

In the past I have been known to get obsessed with new hobbies so I have made myself a rule that if I take to yoga I won’t do any more than two sessions a week.

Today at Slimming World I reached the milestone of dropping below the lowest weight I reached in 2014. I am now the lightest I’ve been for 23 years and I’m only 3lbs away from losing 100lbs in total. I don’t think my brain has caught up with my change in size as when I move around I feel like parts of me are missing. It’s a really odd feeling. I’m almost annoyed that it’s Christmas next week as it’s going to slow down my weight loss next week. I know I could stick to my eating regime 100% over the Christmas period if I really wanted to but it would only make me feel resentful of other people that can let themselves go. I’m not going to go mad though, I’ve decided to allow myself a portion of any dessert I want on Christmas day and that’s it. For anyone reading this, I must sound like a crazy woman but I’ve learned over the years that I cope better when I plan in advance.

Depression, Fibromyalgia

Medication……..

Everyone today is fortunate that we live in a world where many of our ailments can be successfully treated or prevented altogether. I am on a load of medication for my depression and anxiety and a lot of painkillers for my fibromyalgia. It took a long time to find which medications were best for me.

For the first time I am now questioning whether it would be beneficial for me to at least try to reduce my dosage and/or even come off some of them. David has recently come off his antidepressants and has said that he feels more alive now that his brain is not numbed. He is certainly different and although he occasionally gets a little stressed most of the change is very positive.

Painkillers are known to not work effectively for fibromyalgia sufferers and I am on so much I’m sure my mood is affected. I’m not fully alert and often have trouble motivating myself to do my hobbies. There is also the worry of addiction. I have been taking high strength opiates for over 10 years and do get symptoms of withdrawal if I’m late taking them. I know that I am addicted. My two main painkillers are tramadol and codeine. The tramadol is sustained release and I am on the maximum dose and the codeine is taken every 4 hours throughout the day.

I have made the decision to try to come off the codeine altogether. If I do it slowly I will me able to minimise the withdrawal. The tablets I take contain 30mg of codeine and are prescription only; you can get 8mg codeine over the counter so it will be easy for me to taper off my dose. I think I will be able to do it over 12 weeks. Of course if my pain becomes unbearable I will start taking it again.

I’ve been taking these medications for so long that I don’t know what my pain levels are without any relief. If I can stop the codeine successfully I will then make an appointment to see my doctor to discuss trying to lower my tramadol dosage. Following this I will then look at my antidepressants.

Eventually I hope to find the minimum amount of medication that I need to function. Hopefully this will lead to me feeling less doped up and be able to experience more of life.

Depression

Struggling a bit……..

I don’t know whether it’s the time of year but I seem to be struggling again with my depression. It’s nowhere near as bad as it has been in the past but it’s definitely there. My brain feels very slow and I’m starting to feel cut off from the world again. I feel like I’m dangling from a cliff holding on to some very slippery ropes. I keep trying to look ahead to try and mitigate anything that I think that might cause me anxiety before it happens but it’s exhausting.

The first thing to go when I feel like this is my motivation to partake in my hobbies. I haven’t done anything for over a month which is not like me. I’m still able to stick to my healthy eating plan which is a good thing as I shudder to think how bad I’d feel if I started putting on weight again. I think my brain has finally shifted into seeing my way of eating as normal.

I often have a low period from the beginning of the year until my birthday in February so this episode is a bit early. I wish I knew the reason why. It’s at times like this when I fully understand the type of depression I have. There are two types; reactive and endogenous. Reactive depression is caused by external events such as a bereavement. Endogenous depression, as the name suggests, comes from within and this is the type I have. It is thought that endogenous depression is caused by an imbalance in brain chemistry, particularly the neurotransmitter serotonin. Almost all modern antidepressants inhibit the reabsorption of serotonin thereby raising its level in the brain.

I could go and see my doctor and ask to have my dosage increased but I really don’t want to have to take even more medication. I think the only thing I can do is just ride the storm and hope for calmer waters soon.

Fibromyalgia

Fatigue……..

Today’s modern living often leads to people feeling tired a lot of the time. Before I fell ill in 2007 I was no exception. My excess weight and poor eating habits didn’t help the situation. In the autumn of 2005 I was diagnosed with iron deficiency anaemia. Further investigations didn’t show the reason for why my iron levels were so low. It wasn’t until my gastric banding operation in February 2007 that the cause was discovered. I had a giant hiatus hernia that was inflamed and bleeding. Once this was repaired I did start to feel a bit better.

When I started to feel unwell in July 2007 the level of fatigue I experienced was so extreme that I had trouble supporting my head. There are some rheumatologists that believe that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are the same condition. If the predominant symptom is widespread pain a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is given, if it is fatigue then CFS is diagnosed.

Unfortunately for me I had severe symptoms across the spectrum. I could have spent my entire time in bed but I made a point of getting up everyday even if it was just to spend the day on the couch watching TV. We had to employ cleaners because I could no longer do it myself. David had to take on the rest. I hated being so dependent.

Over the past 3 months I have been able to do a little more but I think I’ve overdone it. All week I’ve been really struggling to get up before 11am and on the days that I’ve had to get up earlier I’ve been wiped out all day. Finding the balance of activity and rest is so difficult. In my head I want to do it all but my body won’t cooperate. This is the hand I’ve been dealt and I just have to make the best of it.

Autism

Social Anxiety……..

For as long as I can remember I have found interacting with people difficult. When I was little I was very shy and quiet and wouldn’t speak to anyone I didn’t know. At school I would try to interact with my peers but from the blank stares I received I knew I was missing something vital. I used to really hate it when people would look at each other after I’d said something as if to confirm to each other that what I’d said was weird.

As an adolescent I made a real effort to talk to people I didn’t know. This didn’t work either as most people just wanted to get on with their day without responding to the weird girl trying to engage them in conversation. I just couldn’t win. I will still talk to anyone and just don’t care about how they respond to me.

I try to avoid social situations as much as possible as I find them overwhelming. I’ve never been one for going out drinking and clubbing; I just don’t like it. As a child I loved family get togethers because everyone accepted me as I was. Now I avoid parties altogether as I find them too much.

The main problem I have with socialising is that I find it exhausting. It takes so much effort to appear ‘normal’ that I can only do it for a few hours at a time. This exhaustion is compounded by sensory overload. I find it almost impossible to separate out conversations from the background noise and it’s even worse if there is music playing. As a sufferer of CFS I have little energy spare for socialising.

The only people contact I have outside of the family is my Slimming World group. They are a lovely group of people and because the groups image therapy is so structured I do not feel pressured. Apart from this my interaction with other people is through the internet. This is ideal for me as I do as much or as little as I want depending on how I feel. I find writing so much easier than talking. I guess this is why I enjoy writing this blog so much.