Depression is one issue, IBS is something completely different

The fictional words of Yoda ring in my eye “shit yourself you will”

Another appointment with the good people at Seetec today, an appointment that takes me over an hour to get there, involving sitting on 2 buses at least. Usually though I don’t bother getting the second bus that takes me there and walk about 2 miles instead.

There are two reasons for this

1. It saves me precious money on bus fare

2. I can guarantee I will need to use the public toilets that are only 5 minutes away from where the first bus takes me.

I hate using public toilets though, having to sit on a dirty seat, never enough toilet paper or toilet paper that is either like a wire brush or tracing paper!

The alternative is much worse though, and having struggled with IBS on days like today especially, I can personally verify that dirty public toilets is far more comfortable than an accident.

Accidents I can handle in the comfort of home, when I am at an appointment its entirely different.

The worst part of it all is that I know I am worrying for nothing. Despite the horrible person I dealt with last time who made me feel like rubbish the people at Seetec are actually pretty nice. I am seeing the ESA specialist today, we spoke on the phone a few weeks ago and he seemed really nice. He did a good job of putting me at ease, but still today is one I have been dreading all week, and anxious moose equals cant leave the flat because of IBS.

So think of me today, unable to eat anything all day until I get home about 5pm, wondering the streets with a spare set of underwear in a bag just in case.

Depression I can deal with, I know how to cope with the bad days, the bad feelings can change back to good in a matter of hours.

IBS is much harder to control. Stressing me out, making me so conscious of the fact that I am like a gun waiting to go off.

Still 3 hours until I have to leave, I have only been awake less than an hour and already spent more time on the toilet than sitting at my PC.

Wish me luck, I am going to need it!

 

The Truth Is…

 

The truth is I can’t do it anymore, can’t keep pretending I am doing better. I am tired, exhausted emotionally.

I am throwing myself into other projects, trying to take my mind of depression. Attempting to write a novel, already at 6000 words, using the escape from reality to justify the pretend smile on my face.

The strategy was working for a while, I was feeling happier. I really enjoy writing, no I LOVE, writing. This book I am writing is gonna kick ass! A best seller you mark my words (of course the reality is going to be different but I have to try some reverse psychology or I will never finish what I have started)

I’m back in the expecting too much from people phase. I don’t tweet unless it’s about my book, desperate to push people in its direction.  The reason why? The royalties from any sales would cover Christmas. Yes I said that word and it’s only August. A lot can happen between now and December but honestly I cannot see anything good happening in that time.

Since Sheryl and I have been together we have had nothing but bad luck. Things breaking that we cannot afford to replace, cars being broken into you name it and it has gone wrong for us. I cant see a way out today.

The weather has cooled down significantly today, it is now 7.40pm as I write this and of the 19 hours so far today I have been asleep about 12 of them. Not a big sleep of 12 hours though wake up after a couple of hours, feel miserable so go back to bed.  I don’t want to do anything, no writing, no interacting with people nothing. I want to be left alone to wallow but I am desperate for someone to do something to help me.  Fine poke away on Facebook but I would really appreciate a 2 line message asking how I am instead.

Today I feel like a broken man devoid of any passion, energy, motivation. Empty is probably the best way of describing me today.

I know it will pass and tomorrow could be different, if only I have the energy to plaster my smile on. Smile and the world smiles with you.

IBS has been visiting again the past few days, it had been gone a few weeks. I know its back because I ate cheese and then broke the land speed record trying to get to the toilet. Something else to bring me down. I’m tired of being positive, it is draining.

This week I have to go back to the work program again, albeit this time with the ESA specialist who seemed really nice when I spoke to him on the phone. He told me there would be no pressure on me to look for work as long as I am claim ESA but I don’t trust these people, don’t trust anyone in positions like this, designed to catch people out.

Surely it is not a coincidence that I feel like shit on the week that this appointment takes pace.

So I have some questions that I am hoping some of you can answer

1) if you had a laptop that you did not use anymore because 2 years ago you bought a new one, (in that two years you never touched the old one just kept it in the cupboard). If your brother asked for the laptop, even offered to buy it from you would you say no? If the roles were reversed I would give the laptop to my sister! am I being unreasonable?

I have found a little place, a secret bench tucked away from the world. I want a laptop so I can sit there and write with no distractions from internet, tv, kids & the world. Sigh….

2) why am I so desperate for people to talk to me, but so good as pushing people away?

3) why are am I either really up or really down? there is no medium ground its on or the other. 4 good days are ruined by 1 single bad day – thats how bad the bad days are!

Here is hoping tomorrow will bring a better day but seeing as the appointment that stresses me out is on Thursday I am not looking forward to this week!

The truth is today I feel lousy, alone and angry with myself.

And I am going to force myself back into my book and maybe answer some of my questions while I am at it.

The Anxious Moose

Anxiety is something new for me. I have always been a confident person and never had an issue dealing with anxiety.

I am comfortable meeting new people and being in situations where I am amongst strangers because I have the ability to mix well with others, my built up wall turns into a barrier of sound and friendliness because I am empathetic towards others and in my mind I feel like someone needs to break the ice and it always appears to be me.

Yet inside is a much different story.

I can hear myself screaming inside to shut up, stop talking, just sit there in silence, people do not want to keep hearing your voice! I feel like I overpower people with my constant need to be heard and noticed. At the training day I attended last week there were times when I walked out the room because I felt that I was beginning to rub people the wrong way, that I was suffocating others with my constant input and I was livid with myself. I can’t speak for the other people who attended the training but I suspect they all wanted me to shut up at times as well!

So where has this sudden anxiety come from? It is easy to just blame my medication but the reality is that it has always been there but I did not notice the signs or was too busy focusing on other issues that were more pressing to be dealt with.

The following information comes from the Mind website which is becoming a firm favourite of mine these days!

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What is anxiety?

Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time. Most people can relate to feeling tense, uncertain and, perhaps, fearful at the thought of sitting an exam, going into hospital, attending an interview or starting a new job. You may worry about feeling uncomfortable, appearing foolish or how successful you will be. In turn, these worries can affect your sleep, appetite and ability to concentrate. If everything goes well, the anxiety will go away.

This type of short-term anxiety can be useful. Feeling nervous before  an exam can make you feel more alert, and enhance your performance. However, if the feelings of anxiety overwhelm you, your ability to concentrate and do well may suffer.

The ‘fight or flight’ reflex

Anxiety and fear can protect you from danger. When you feel under threat, anxiety and fear trigger the release of hormones, such as adrenalin. Adrenalin causes your heart to beat faster to carry blood  where it’s most needed. You breathe faster to provide the extra oxygen required for energy. You sweat to prevent overheating. Your mouth may feel dry, as your digestive system slows down to allow more blood to be sent to your muscles. Your senses become heightened and your brain becomes more alert.

These changes make your body able to take action and protect you in a  dangerous situation either by running away or fighting. It is known as the ‘fight or flight’ reflex. Once the danger has passed, other hormones are     released, which may cause you to shake as your muscles start to relax.

This response is useful for protecting you against physical dangers; for example, it can help you run away from wild animals, attackers, fires etc   very quickly. The response is not so useful if you want to run away from exams, public speaking, a driving test, or having an injection. This is because, if there is no physical threat, and you have no need to physically run away or fight, the effects of adrenaline subside more slowly, and you may go on feeling agitated for a long time.

Severe anxiety

If the anxiety stays at a high level for a long time, you may feel that it is difficult to deal with everyday life. The anxiety may become severe; you may feel powerless, out of control, as if you are about to die or go mad. Sometimes, if the feelings of fear overwhelm you, you may experience a panic attack.

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack is an exaggeration of the body’s normal response to fear, stress or excitement. It is the rapid build-up of overwhelming sensations, such as a pounding heartbeat, feeling faint, sweating, nausea, chest pains, breathing discomfort, feelings of losing control, shaky limbs and legs turning to jelly. If you experience this, you may fear that you are going mad, blacking out, or having a heart attack. You may be convinced you are going to die in the course of the attack – making this a terrifying experience.

Panic attacks come on very quickly, symptoms usually peaking within 10 minutes. Most panic attacks last for between 5 and 20 minutes. Some people report attacks lasting for up to an hour, but they are likely to be  experiencing one attack after another, or a high level of anxiety after  the initial attack. You may have one or two panic attacks and never  experience another. Or you may have attacks once a month or several  times each week. For some people they seem to come without warning  and strike at random.

Panic attacks can also come in the night and wake you up. These nighttime attacks occur if your brain is on ‘high alert’ (due to anxiety) and can detect small changes in your body which it then interprets as a sign of danger. Night-time attacks may be particularly frightening, as you may feel confused and are helpless to do anything to spot them coming.

Why do some people feel more anxious than others?

If you worry more than others, it could be because of your personality, current circumstances or your past or childhood experience; it could be a  mixture of these.

Past experiences

If something distressing happened to you in the past, and you were unable to deal with your emotions at the time, you may become anxious  about facing similar situations again in case they stir up the same feelings of distress.

Feeling anxious could also be something you learned early on in life; for example, your family may have tended to see the world as hostile and dangerous and you’ve learned to respond in the same way.

Some theories suggest that you may inherit a tendency to be more anxious, and so it is a part of your personality.

Everyday life and habits

On a day-to-day basis, caffeine, excess sugar, poor diet, drug misuse, exhaustion, stress and the side effects of certain medication can also mimic and trigger symptoms of anxiety.

Fear of losing control

You may worry about the future. Sometimes, if you feel you are not in control of many aspects of your life, you can start to feel anxious about events beyond your control, such as the threat of global warming, of  being attacked, of developing cancer, or of losing a job.

After a while, you can start to fear the symptoms of anxiety, especially feeling out of control. This sets up a vicious circle. You may feel anxious because you dread feeling the symptoms of anxiety, and then you experience those symptoms because you are having anxious thoughts.

What are the effects of anxiety?

Anxiety can have an effect on both your body and your mind.

Physical effects

Short-term effects:

  • Increased muscular tension can cause discomfort and headaches
  • Rapid breathing may make you feel light-headed and shaky, and give you pins and needles.
  • Rising blood pressure can make you more aware of a pounding heart.
  • Changes in the blood supply to your digestive system may cause nausea and sickness.
  • You may feel an urgent need to visit the toilet, and get ‘butterflies’ in your stomach.

Long-term effects:

  • Fear combined with tension and lack of sleep can weaken your immune system, lowering your resistance to infection.
  • Increased blood pressure can cause heart or kidney problems, and contribute to the chances of having a stroke.
  • You may experience digestive difficulties.
  • You may also feel depressed. (See Mind’s booklet, Understanding  depression)

Psychological effects

Anxiety can make you more fearful, alert, on edge, irritable, and unable to relax or concentrate. You may feel an overwhelming desire to seek the reassurance of others, to be weepy and dependent.

The way you think can be affected: if you fear that the worst is going to happen, you may start to see everything negatively and become very pessimistic. For example, if a friend is late, you may imagine and worry  that he or she has had an accident or doesn’t want to see you; even though your friend may simply be late because their train was delayed.

To cope with these feelings and sensations, you may feel tempted to start smoking or drinking too much, or misusing drugs. You may hold on to relationships that either encourage your anxious outlook or help you avoid situations you find distressing – and so stop you dealing with what’s worrying you.

Impact on work, leisure and relationships

If your anxiety is severe, you may find it difficult to hold down a job, develop or maintain good relationships, or simply to enjoy leisure time. Sleep problems may make your anxious feelings even worse and reduce your ability to cope. (See Mind’s booklet, How to cope with sleep problems.)

For some people, anxiety becomes so overwhelming that it takes over their lives. They may experience severe or very frequent panic attacks (see ‘Panic disorder‘) for no apparent reason, or have a persistent ‘free-floating’ sense of anxiety. Some people may develop a phobia about going out, or may withdraw from contact with people – even their family and friends. Others have obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviour, such as endlessly washing their hands.

What type of anxiety disorders are there?

There are several types of anxiety and panic disorders, because people respond to anxiety and panic attacks in different ways. Some of the more common disorders are outlined below.

Phobias

Phobia is about irrational fear. If you have a phobia, your anxiety will be triggered by very specific situations or objects; such as spiders, heights, flying or crowded places, even when there is no danger to you. For example, you may know a spider isn’t poisonous or won’t bite you, but this still doesn’t reduce your anxiety. Likewise, you may know that it is safe to be out on a balcony in a high-rise block, yet, feel terrified to go out on it or even enjoy the view from behind the windows inside the building. (See Mind’s booklet, Understanding phobias for further information.)

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

You may be diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder if you have felt anxious for a long time and often feel fearful, but are not anxious about anything in particular. The strength of symptoms can vary.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour are typical for this  disorder. You may, for example, have obsessive thoughts about being contaminated with germs or fear that you have forgotten to lock the door or turn off the oven. You may feel compelled to wash your hands, do things in a particular order or keep repeating what you are doing a certain number of times. (See Mind’s booklet Understanding obsessive-compulsive disorder.)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

If you have experienced or witnessed a very stressful or threatening event, e.g. war, serious accident, violent death or rape, you may later develop post-traumatic stress disorder. You are likely to experience flashbacks and have dreams about the event, and these are likely to trigger strong anxiety and feelings you experienced during the actual event. (See Mind’s booklet Understanding post-traumatic stress disorder.)

Panic disorder

Panic attacks may sometimes occur for no reason, and you may not be able to understand why. You may feel as if your mind has gone totally out of control . When you experience panic attacks that seem completely unpredictable and you can’t identify what has triggered them, you may experience panic disorder. Because the onset of panic seems  unpredictable, you may live in fear of having another panic attack. This fear can become so intense it can trigger another panic attack.

How can I learn to manage my anxiety myself?

There are many things you can do to reduce your anxiety to a more manageable level. Taking action may make you feel more anxious at first. Even thinking about anxiety can make it worse. Therefore, a common – and natural – response to anxiety is to avoid what triggers your fear. For example, if you are afraid of spiders, running away every time you see  one, is likely to increase your fear. Avoiding an exam because you feel anxious is likely to make you feel worse. Therefore facing up to anxiety, and how it makes you feel, can be the first step in breaking the cycle of fear and insecurity.

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Some interesting points there especially in how it relates to me and my anxiety.

I definitely have an issue with things that are beyond my control causing me the most problems, An example of this currently is my medical certificate which allows me to claim benefits. My last one expired on 28th July and I have no letter from the benefits office asking me to send the new one in, usually I get a letter with a return envelope enclosed but so far I have had nothing so I do not know where to send the new one or even if they have stopped my benefits which of course increases my anxiety further! Money, or lack of, seems to be my biggest problem and the most constant factor in my depression and anxiety!

I am convinced the issues I am now having with IBS is coming from my anxiety which forms a nice vicious circle to be in because one causes the other! some days I can be visiting the toilet up to 10 times which is not natural and this makes me fear leaving the sanctuary of my home! I have to really force myself to go out too far because of this and I am on a constant state of “red alert” (or should that be brown alert?) because of the worry of being caught short.

I have made an appointment to see my Dr today because this anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is beginning to ruin my life!

 

Searching for that Elusive Sleep

 

 

 

Something is worrying me but I don’t know what.

I am anxious and drained emotionally. I have never suffered with anxiety before it is a new sensation and not one I am particularly comfortable with. An example of this is when I went to the chemist to get my prescription and had taken the wrong form in. When the man told me I could feel myself panicking, getting short of breath and couldn’t wait to get back to the safety of home.

I am surviving on around 6 hours sleep a day at the moment which may sound a lot but it is broken up into 4 hours at night and, at best, a couple of hours around 3pm if I am lucky. Of course this is a vicious cycle because sleeping during the day is going to make me find it more difficult to sleep at night but when I am exhausted my body tends to just shut down anyway so even if I try to stay awake I could just go at anytime.

I would give anything for a nice long 12 hours (or more!) of uninterrupted sleep. Nothing to disturb me, to disconnect my brain and just fall deeply into a peaceful void of nothingness!

No silly dreams, no over thinking, no stress about money and especially no stress about not being able to sleep!

As your aware by now I like to sprinkle my posts with information that I find over the internet to educate myself and hopefully you as well, after all my sense of humour will only get me so far!

I found this information from Netdoctor

What sort of sleep problems can affect people with depression?

People with depression can have many types of sleep problems. Generally, these involve getting less sleep than usual and include:

  1. difficulty getting off to sleep – often because of lying in bed with thoughts going round in your head
  2. frequently waking up during the night
  3. waking early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep.

Even if people with depression do get a reasonable number of hours’ sleep, they often wake in the morning feeling ‘un-refreshed’ and feel tired through the day.

Occasionally, people with depression sleep too much, finding it hard to get out of bed and spending much of the day there. Again, this does not tend to lead to these people feeling any less tired.

How common are sleep problems in depression?

Probably more than 80 per cent of people suffering from depression have problems with their sleep, usually not getting enough.

Is it a problem not getting enough sleep?

We are all aware that if we don’t get a good night’s sleep, we are less effective the next day. Important body processes occur during sleep that help to ‘recharge our batteries’. If we get less sleep than we need, we are more at risk of having accidents in the home, at work or when driving.

In people with depression, not being able to sleep (especially when this involves spending hours lying in bed awake) can cause other problems as well. During this time, people tend to dwell on their problems.

If you are depressed, everything seems black and dismal. Such bleak thoughts going round and round your head can cause your mood to get even lower. A lower mood makes the thoughts even bleaker and a vicious circle can occur.

Severe sleep problems in depressed people are associated with an increased risk of suicide. On the other side of the coin, an improvement in sleep often indicates an improvement in mood.

How much sleep is enough?

Everybody’s needs are different. The range of time people sleep normally is as wide as 3 to 10 hours.

As a general rule of thumb, five to six hours sleep is probably a minimum below which your performance at work, when driving, etc will be affected.

Most people need between seven and eight hours sleep a night to feel refreshed. Generally, people require less sleep the older they get.

Normal sleep

Sleep can be assessed by measuring the electrical activity that occurs in the brain. By doing this, sleep can be divided into a number of different stages: we tend to go through stages one to four when we fall asleep and the reverse when we wake up.

However, through the night we also make transitions between the different stages. Stages one and two are regarded as light sleep. Stages three and four are deep sleep.

During deep sleep various restorative processes go on throughout the body. If we do not get enough deep sleep we feel tired and ‘washed out’.

A fifth stage of sleep is called rapid eye movement sleep (REM) because although our eyes remain shut, they move around a lot during this stage. REM sleep is the time that we dream when we are asleep.

Dreaming has important psychological effects, helping us to put ‘things in order’.

The content of dreams often includes things that have recently happened to us or that we have recently been thinking about. Dreams may be a way of making sense of all of this.

The various stages of sleep can be plotted on a graph called a sleep hypnogram.

We normally undergo several cycles during the night moving through the various stages of sleep. We have most of our deep sleep in the first half of the night and REM sleep (when we dream) occurs later on. This explains why if you doze back to sleep in the morning, you will often wake and be aware of dreaming.

It’s not uncommon to wake during the night. Normally, these wakenings are so brief that we are unaware of them.

The pattern of sleep in depression

The sleep pattern of somebody with depression is very different:

  1. it takes much longer to get off to sleep
  2. the total sleep time is reduced
  3. there is little or no deep sleep
  4. REM sleep occurs earlier in the night
  5. there are more frequent wakenings during the night, which may last long enough for the person to be aware of them. The person wakes up earlier in the morning. The person wakes up earlier in the morning and can’t get back to sleep, even if feeling very tired.

What can I do about my sleep problem?

It can be extremely distressing not being able to sleep.

Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to try and improve your sleep.

These suggestions are not miracle cures, and they do require some effort. This is good advice for anybody who has a sleep problem.

  1. Get into a routine with your sleep times. Get up at the same time each morning, even if you have not had a good night’s sleep. Don’t sleep during the day, and don’t go to bed early to try and get more sleep – you are likely just to lie in bed thinking over problems. Go to bed in the evening when you are tired.
  2. Take some physical exercise during the day. This helps to make your body more tired in the evening and makes it easier to get to sleep. Exercise is good for you physically, and there’s also research that suggests that exercise can itself be antidepressant.
  3. Avoid exercise two hours before bedtime. This is because exercise ‘activates’ the body, which can make it difficult to get off to sleep.
  4. Avoid watching disturbing or violent films prior to bedtime.
  5. Avoid drinking caffeine (tea, coffee, cola) in the evening after 6pm. Caffeine is a stimulant and can prevent sleep. Drink no more than four cups of tea, or of coffee, or cans of cola in a day.
  6. Drink herbal teas or milky drinks such as Horlicks in the evening. Herbal teas don’t contain caffeine and milky drinks have been shown to be as good as sleeping tablets for many people. However, be aware that chocolate or cocoa milk drinks often contain caffeine.
  7. Avoid heavy meals two hours before bedtime. It can be extremely difficult to get off to sleep with a full stomach.
  8. Avoid alcohol in the evening. While alcohol is sedative, it is not a good idea to try to use it to sort out a sleep problem. This is because alcohol does not lead to normal restful sleep. In addition, alcohol causes you to pass increasing amounts of urine, which further disrupts sleep. Unfortunately, a significant number of people with depression develop an alcohol problem from using alcohol to help them sleep.
  9. You should associate your room with sleep: avoid having a TV or radio in your bedroom.
  10. Your bedroom should be warm and familiar with a comfortable bed and duvet, etc. Ideally, the room should be decorated in a relaxing way. This all helps in associating the room in your mind with restful sleep.
  11. Use aromatic oils in the bath or on your pillow, such as lavender, which can help relaxation.
  12. Use relaxation techniques, which you can learn from books, audiotapes or CDs. Reading in bed helps some people, but it can prevent others from getting off to sleep. If you do read in bed, only read light-hearted books or magazines.

If you are kept awake, or wake up worrying during the night, try the following.

  1. At least two hours before bedtime, write down the problems that keep you awake. Also write down the next step you need to take towards resolving each problem.
  2. If you find yourself thinking over the problems in bed, tell yourself you have the matter in hand and that going over it now will not help.
  3. If a new worry occurs during the night, write it down or commit it to memory and deal with it the next day.
  4. If you still do not manage to get to sleep, or you wake during the night and can’t get back to sleep – get up. Do not lie in bed tossing and turning. Go and do something else like listening to relaxing music, having a warm bath or making yourself a milky drink. Go back to bed when you feel tired again.

Many people become preoccupied by sleep itself. In this case:

  1. do not try to fall asleep
  2. tell yourself that sleep will come and that relaxing in bed is nearly as good
  3. try to keep your eyes open. As they naturally try to close, tell yourself to resist for just another few seconds. This should tempt sleep to take over
  4. if unhelpful thoughts pop into your mind, try and visualise a relaxing or pleasant scene.

 

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Is my current anxiety caused by lack of sleep? One thing I do know is the more anxious I get the worse my IBS becomes. I have been awake just shy of 3 hours and have already been to the toilet 5 times! It’s is something I really need to see my doctor about as this not helping my depression!

How do you deal with insomnia? I would like to dissect the information above into how it works, or doesn’t, in my case but that will be for another time when the mind is more focused. I would love your feedback on this!

Garry “the sleepy Moose”