Guest Post – Mark

I have followed Mark for a long time on twitter and he is someone I have great respect for! I was delighted when he agreed to write a post for my blog and I hope you enjoy this as much as I have.

Music is helping Mark in is recovery and you will be pleased to know I have added his songs to the blog below.

This post may be triggering for some as it talks about suicide so please be careful if this subject may be too much for you… now over to Mark

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My story starts on Oct 17th 2001. The day my life changed forever.  I was working as a musician and working for a production company. I also ran 4 performing art schools for children. That day was a normal working day for me another gig another show. During that day we were on the road driving towards the venue when I was involved in a severe road traffic accident. I was a passenger and we were hit by a drunk driver coming round the corner at high-speed. That’s the moment the lights went out and one life ended and another life began. People were killed but I ended up in hospital seriously injured.  So began a long dark journey. I suffered broken bones and a brain injury. After months of recovery it became very apparent that I was not the same anymore. Headway got involved and so began the long slow process of starting life again and trying to recover only now it was different.  I suffered a frontal lobe brain injury. My emotions and everything about my personality had changed. I also found I couldn’t do what I used to do so on that day I had my life stolen from me. Another way of putting it is I was raped of my life. Months went into years and years. I was diagnosed with clinical depression PTSD and borderline personality disorder.

During the following years I attempted to take my own life on several occasions.  From taking overdoses to standing on a train track waiting for a train to come. The train didnt come. Once I was allowed to drive again I also drove to the lake district and took another overdose but some how I was found by the police and was rushed to hospital. We lost our house our cars are savings and most of what we owned .During this time I spent a lot of time inside an acute psychiatric hospital on a secure ward . I did not want to live any more because my life had ended as I saw it , I couldn’t earn the money I was earning and I couldn’t look after my family. My family went through hell my wife wanted to leave me and my children needed counselling. Such was the damage on our lives. During this time I was given a CPN called Kelly Perkins . She turned out to be an angel a saviour . I now owe my life to her. Along with many talking therapies  CBT and others. She along with Lyn Atkins another angel from headway kept us together as a family. Without their help we would not be together today.
Another problem I encountered was the lack of understanding from some family members. Often stigma is very close to home and  on one occasion drove me to another suicide attempt.

In 2010 we decided that the best thing we could do was to move to try and start again as everything around us reminded us of our old life. We moved from Bedfordshire to Dorset.  We settled into a quiet life by the sea. This was the first time I was trying to live a new life with some hope. Sadly during the spring of 2013 I suffered a relapse and ended back inside an acute ward. I was again suffering extreme anxiety depression and suicide thoughts again.
During my stay I found an old guitar and for some reason I started to play a bit again. This resulted in my wife bringing in my guitar.  I now found I had words and songs pouring out of me so I started to write and write.

During this time I had also started to become aware of Dorset Mental Health Forum. Somehow through my recovery this time I found a new purpose and that was that I had a passion for mental health issues and all the songs I was writing was about my lived experience , I had found a new voice and so I started to talk more openly about it. I was on a new meds regime and these were starting to work. I then found myself having meetings with Dorset Mental Health Forum. This led to me getting involved with something called Tea and Talking in conjunction with Time To Change leading to becoming a peer specialist for the forum now I had found a new purpose in life and that was to spread the message of recovery and to tackle stigma. I have been recording all the new material which is now nearly finished and will be available soon. Recently I was inspired to write a song for the Time to Talk campaign which I have done. I have also been asked to write a song for Blue Apple Hero’s about PTSD .
My passion and focus is now on raising awareness and sending out a message through music and speaking that recovery is possible even from the darkest place. I will live with what I have for the rest of my life but thanks to some great people and of course my wife who has suffered greatly  and family I move on to a new life, one that is wanting to see and help others who suffer . That’s my lived experience and I share it in the hope that it brings you hope.

Mark Storey

Mark can be found on twitter here

If you would like to submit a post for this blog please get in touch with me via twitter/facebook or email using the contact page

Operation Get My Arse In Gear Is All Systems Go

Despite the year starting as the last one finished I have now started the process of getting my shit together again and trying to move forwards, making up for lost time spent under a black cloud the past few weeks.

Today I went back to the Dr and finally told them how things REALLY are and what a struggle it has been, and still is to an extent. The great thing about doing this blog is that I can go back over the posts and spot the signs of when things are heading downhill so I am fully aware when the cycle changes from average to shit again. Okay maybe sometimes they are good too…

This week has been really positive in terms of shaping the future, short term at least because that is what needs concentrating on.

It is amazing how much the mood can turn when someone goes out of their way for you, my confidence has gone through the roof since miss cougar stayed. It was lovely to realise that I AM attractive and do have something to offer and that feeling of the shackles being snapped off in terms of the past few months was as much as a relief as knowing I do not have blue balls anymore…..

I have wallowed in low self esteem for too long, but in many ways I tend to force myself to rock bottom from time to time and I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to my depression. If I ever get of the fucking waiting list for therapy I will make sure this is explored further.

Speaking of therapy, surely almost 2 years of waiting is long enough? In that time I have had 2 “initial assessments” but the wait goes on.. something that I mentioned to my GP today.

I have a few ambitions for this year, money allowing and want to visit some places in the UK at some point. Once I get these poxy loans paid off I intend to start booking train tickets. I especially want to visit Newcastle as I have a HUGE thing for the geordie accent so would be in heaven up there. Bournemouth, Ireland and Liverpool (Irish and scouse accents are 2 and 3 on my list!) are also must see places this year for me. So any readers with a spare room and a love for jack daniels and cleaning up moose sick please get in touch!

As far as the loans go it is amazing how people with such bad credit get accepted in the first place but I have managed to clear 2 so far with 2 to go, I am touched at the people who sent me donations via this blog which were used to clear some of the payments off.  I am working my butt off to clear the others asap. Another example of being my own worst enemy. I am pleased that there is only one arsehole who tries to put me down via this blog, Asylum Heaven kindly fuck off with the comments they are trashed before approval anyway. Most people are not judgmental and understand  the issues I have are linked to my cycles of depression but for those who want to try and make me feel worse with your comments..I wouldnt waste your time because your comments wont be approved so you are wasting your time.

Things are improving day by day, I am in contact with more people and have had a few visitors to Moose Mansion already this year with a big one next weekend when a great friend from Ireland is coming to stay! It is important to have something to look forward to and I know she cannot wait to spend time with me :D

Being famoose does have it perks! I will be strolling into Macdonalds with her using the old “dont you know who I am?” line to get a free bigmac or 2, failing that I will be walking out with more straws than I will ever need, who doesn’t love a freebie!

While I remember I have a facebook page that you should like if you are on there – for no other reason than I am a numbers whore click here to find it and share with the world! I am also still looking for guest posts for this blog, on any subject about depression, how you deal with it, if you look after someone with depression, how you cope with a partner etc etc

I love being able to give people a voice and cannot recommend enough trying to write to release some shit from your chest, it has worked wonders for me time and time again so dont be shy get in touch and send me your words of magic!

As we leave January behind and enter February remember that the year has still only just begun, things can get better if we give ourselves a little time and not expect overnight change – hard as that can be at time.

Here is hoping that I can create plenty of memories this year to share with you, even involving some of you as well – what would be better than a mooseketeers get together in London at some point!  Imagine that we can all wear something moose related and take the big smoke by storm!

And if miss cougar is reading this….maybe you can work some magic on the antlers this weekend!

flaccid-moose

 

Introducing Jonathan Rottenberg

As I have a lot of readers from the United States I jumped at the chance to allow Jonathan to write a guest post. He is the man behind a wonderful campaign that I hope I can help him build up. Please read his post below and share with the world!!

 

A New Campaign to Raise Depression Awareness and Crush Depression Stigma: Come Out of The Dark

Our national conversation about depression for the last twenty years has been on hold, largely reduced to a narrow dialogue about the promise and peril of antidepressants: “To Prozac, or not to Prozac?”  Peter Kramer’s Listening to Prozac raised expectations that antidepressants would soon make depression obsolete. As this proved not to be the case, there was the predictable backlash. In Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic, antidepressants (and other psychotropic medications) are not only ineffective, but the villain, responsible for worsening the epidemic of mental illness. The next movement will be a backlash to the backlash. If we do nothing different, we can conclude with supreme confidence that all the heated talk about drugs will continue to monopolize the stage and preclude a real conversation about mood and mood disorders.

The continued ascendance of the conventional disease model of depression is part of the problem. The conventional approach tends to view the legions of the depressed and the formerly depressed as a “broken” people, an ever-afflicted group that will likely need repeated assistance over the life course because of their theorized defects. The biological defect model may have been created with good intentions, but it is both belittling and inaccurate. Depression like any mood state has a biology but it is simply not a disease in the same sense that Parkinson’s Disease is.  To try to maintain that depression is a brain disease is to cut off a more interesting conversation at the knees.

I am a depression researcher and former depression sufferer who has looked at the poor state of the national dialogue and has been moved to try and change it. I am using social media, particularly Facebook,  and Twitter to start a movement of people committed to changing the conversation about depression. We desperately need this not only for adults. We also desperately need it for my daughter, Sophie, and for the rest of her generation, the teens who will soon be young adults. Our youth will face depression in high schools and on college campuses in epidemic proportions that will overwhelm them, their parents, and all counseling resources.

One major obstacle to a more affirmative national conversation is that depression has lacked a unifying public symbol that could bring it out of the dark like Livestrong© bracelets did for cancer or the rainbow flag did for LGBT. When most people think of depression, their first associations are to unfortunate images, such as a dark cloud, the color black, or a noose. One reason that depression stigma lives is that depression has a serious bumper sticker problem.

But this is essentially an issue of failed marketing and messaging. It is very hard to talk about depression when it is always on societies’ terms. Depressed and formerly depressed people are ever on the defensive. To change the terms of the debate, and spark more productive conversation.  I have developed a unifying symbol to function in a depression anti-stigma campaign. These are glow-in-the-dark wristbands that are printed with the phrase COME OUT OF THE DARK.

Come Out of the dark wristbands

This summer, I was using my Facebook page to probe for interest in these wristbands and I made an offer that I would give away a glow-in-the dark wristband to anyone who would be willing to send me a picture of themselves wearing it. I bought 200 bands from China and planned to give them away from time to time to readers who were interested. Initial response was rather tepid and I started to think it would be complete flop. For reasons that I do still do not completely understand, the wristbands went viral on the internet, and I was flooded with 3,000 requests from all over the world.

I received requests from parents for their depressed children. From people who lost loved ones to suicide. From teachers for their classrooms. From therapists for their patients. From counselors for their support groups. And from many individuals who have been touched personally by depression, both those who have conquered depression and those who were still struggling with.

I think that part of the viral appeal of the wristband campaign is the slogan, which has several possible meanings

•   Let’s end society’s ignorance about depression.

•    Let’s support depressed people so they get well and stay well.

•     Let’s create an environment where people can speak freely about depression and no one feels compelled to conceal their pain.

And part of the appeal is that total strangers are giving you something for free that will make you feel more comfortable living in your own skin.

By the end of the year my goal is to have distributed 5,000 of these wristbands.

People who have received the wristbands are starting to return pictures. If you look at this gallery of the first wave of people who have come out of the dark, I think you can more easily understand why this campaign has taken on a life of its own. It’s both a social media campaign and a word-of-mouth campaign – both of which inevitably will shift the conversation about depression on more favorable terms.

The great response to the Come-Out-of-The-Dark campaign so far tells me that change is in the wind. People are tired of hiding, tired of hedging. They are ready to reclaim their identities as fully human.

The stakes are high. Conservatively, 13 million US adults are currently in an episode of depression; more than twice that number have had depression in the past. When we add in caregivers, millions more are indirectly affected by the quality and the quantity of our national dialogue about depression.

But we have the momentum. With your help, I give the stigma of depression about another six months to live. I welcome help of all kinds. As of this moment, I am still offering the free wristbands. All you need to do to receive one is to be one of the next 1,000 people to sign up to receive my free newsletter (US addresses).

 

Jonathan Rottenberg is a leading researcher in the area of emotion and psychopathology, where he has focused on major depression. He recently edited Emotion and Psychopathology: Bridging Affective and Clinical Science, published by the American Psychological Association. Since receiving his PhD degree from Stanford University, he has been at the University of South Florida, where he is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Mood and Emotion Laboratory. His work has been generously funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health and he has authored over 35 scientific publications, including many in the top journals in psychology and psychiatry. His work has received national and international media coverage, reported in outlets such as Science News, Scientific American, The New York Times. He is author of the forthcoming book, The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic.

Blog: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/charting-the-depths
Book: http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/0465022219
Author page: https://www.facebook.com/charting.the.depths

Guest Post – Cagsy

Since my teen years, (now reaching nearer the half century mark), I have struggled with life.  Never being able to find the balance.

Always been up and down like a yo-yo, but have found over the years, that I have more downs and feeling unhappy most of the time.
I don;t take anti-depressants, as they really disagree with me.
Recently I had BeMe contact me for an assessment to offer me therapy, as I have been through so much in life, and
still have family issues today, which I find hard at times, especially when lots of things happen in a short space of time.
Those are the times I can’t cope with.  Going back to therapy. They rang me, and I talked to them for around 45 mins, only to
be told I was too depressed for therapy!
Shortly after my appointment with my psychiatrist came through, I spent 2 and a half hours talking to her about my troubled past
with my Dad who is a recluse now, (he is 83), he doesn’t see anyone including me – i keep trying thou.  My abusive marriage, which
has left me with PTSD, my son whom has tried to kill himself and ended up in a unit for one week, I had to voluntarily section him.
And for the last couple of years, struggling with my girl, who is 13, with raging hormones and ADHD and other complexed needs.
Plus my childhood and the abuse I suffered.  So, over the years, no one to really talk too about this, it all came flooding out. Relief – yes.
But also couldn’t see a way out, at which this point the psychiatrist thought about sectioning me as she thought I could have been a danger
to myself.
After convincing her I wouldn’t do anything silly, she decided to let me go. I cried all the way home, but tears of relief as she listened to me.
Really listened to all my heartache and pain. To which I truthfully realized, talking is good. It’s just you have to be careful, who with.
At the moment I am finding life hard again, I don’t have a social life, because I have to be here for my daughter for her extreme random behaviour.
Which is challenging at times. But she is important and my top priority.  I don’t have any support for myself, or for her. I do still suffer from
depression, but not as much as I used too. If I feel under the weather, or I get really low, I normally go to bed, or use distraction, as in the form
of my kindle, where I can lose myself playing games on it and forget about the world as a whole. My friends are all busy with their lives,
and I can’t really go out anywhere at the moment, Sometimes I think my life is doomed, but then we have to make the most of it.
As I say, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s just often we don’t see it.

 

Read Cagsy’s blog here

you can also follow her on twitter

Guest Post – Rose

My name might be fake but my story isn’t, my struggle with depression began when I was about 13.

another thing you should probably know is that I am diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, communication (especially verbal) is difficult for me and expressing how I feel was until my 16th or 17th nearly impossible.

When I got depressed for the first time I didn’t know what hit me, I was just a child so I didn’t know what depression was, I just knew that I felt bad, very bad.

It hit me in the spring, I was still going to school and doing what I had to but in the break times I mostly just sat on a curve away from everyone till it was time to go back into class. That summer-break the gloom that fell over me didn’t go anywhere, it didn’t go anywhere for about 2 years.

I was alone in this time, there must have been a million times when I wanted to let anyone know how I felt but the words never came past my lips. And how do you say, I don’t know why but I feel sad all the time, I want to die just to make it stop? I didn’t understand it at all so how could I explain ? I woke every day sorry that I woke at all, I thought about dying all the time and looking back I don’t really understand why I didn’t die.

I didn’t get help back then, no one knew. Some noticed I wasn’t all that happy but didn’t do anything to help.

Since then I have been dealing with these depressed feelings on and of for years, it mostly just lasted days maybe a week or two but I got more or less use to feeling bad every now and then.

In my last year of school I found some people online who seemed to understand how I felt and I found comfort in knowing I was not alone.

After school I went to work, in the first years I was, despite my problems, a good worker as I worked very hard. But in 2011 it went down hill, I got depressed again and this time it didn’t leave me for months. I couldn’t keep up the quantity or quality of work and my bosses started to complain, time after time they told me I needed to be better but I just couldn’t. After a kind of intervention of my bosses telling me to get myself together, it was Christmas-break and I was alone at home.

Being alone might seem like a good idea when you are depressed but it doesn’t make you feel better, just lonely really. It was the night before Christmas and I had gone to a film to kill the time and got a bit intoxicated and went home again. My bosses had suggested to me that I depressed everyone around me and I believed them fully hearted, how could I live with myself wile I was hurting others with my presence, I couldn’t.

So I took out a razor blade and put it against my wrist, I was fully intentioned to end it all when I suddenly remembered that it would be Christmas when people (probably my parents) would find me. I couldn’t ruin Christmas for those who I loved so I didn’t do it and went to sleep.

Both Christmas days I spent with my family and was feeling a bit better by doing that, so I decided to finally made an appointment with my GP the day after Christmas. Making that appointment was the hardest thing I have ever done, did the call and hang up thing about 20 times before I was brave enough to stay on the line long enough to speak to the assistant.

I made a point of saying what was wrong to her because I knew that it would have been even more difficult to say with the good doctor (who I saw on my own for the first time) staring pitiful at me.

It was very hard to say “I think I’m depressed” to someone, I couldn’t tell you where I was exactly afraid of but afraid that I was. The appointment went about how I thought it would, I was unable to really speak, managed to answer a few questions and that was about it. As I was clearly in a very poorly state the GP prescribed some anti-depressants for me and made a follow up appointment in two weeks time. I was glad he took me serious enough to help me and the next day I started my first dose. The GP did forget to mention 2 things, 1 anti-depressants don’t work instantly and 2 you get the worst side-effects before they work (in the first week). I am not saying not to get on them but do recommend that you let someone know that you are on them, someone who can help you through it all because its worth it but its also very hard. I had (still have) a very good friend who kept reminding me that it was important to stay on them and that was mainly the thing that got me to take them every day.

They did help, for a couple weeks but then it went downhill again.

I informed my employers of my depression but they where not all that understanding, they kept pressuring me to get better soon and I couldn’t make them understand that it would take time.

After increasing my dose it became clear that I needed more help then I was getting and I got a reveal to a psychiatrist. The intake is pretty much answering a whole lot of questions, the questions where not even asked by the psychiatrist himself but by a GP in training. Some of the questions made me wonder how crazy do they think I am ? But they are just the standard questions everyone has to answer. Then she went to the psychiatrist and they talked alone for a wile before I was called back in. he said I was indeed depressed but also probably lonely and he had a point there, so he said I should talk to someone, I was reluctant to do so as talking isn’t exactly my thing. But I agreed to make an appointment with a psychiatric nurse, was a little disappointed to find out that the waiting time was 6 weeks, 6 weeks is about a lifetime when you are feeling badly. I cried my eyes out when I left the office, it had been very tiring and nothing was solved yet.

Later that day I called them again and told them that I wasn’t coming to the next appointment, then it seemed just too much effort at the time but they didn’t let me go that easy, later I was called back by the GP in training and she convinced me to at least try the talking thing.

So, I waited the 6 weeks and showed up by the psychiatric nurse. She was kind and all that we could really talk, it helped me to take a note with me with the things that where bothering me so we could talk about it. Even though the talks where nice, I got just more depressed and it was decided that my meds didn’t do the trick. The psychiatrist changed them but before I could start the new anti-depressants I needed to get off the old once. This would also be something you need someone by because withdraw symptoms will make a bad time worse.

It was when I was completely off meds for a week and my nurse was out for two weeks that I really couldn’t cope any more, I was crying all the time and just a mess really. Because my employer had said that I wouldn’t be believed if I called in sick again and if I wasn’t doing better soon I would be fired I was afraid to stay at home. My father made the call and told my boss to leave alone.

I called the psychiatric office to get to see the replacement nurse but she wasn’t working that day, so I called back the next and she made an appointment with me for the next day.

When I got there I did something I never thought I would, I allowed them to admit me. I made that choice because I couldn’t predict what would happen if I went home again, I was suicidal

I was in the psychiatric ward of the local hospital and being in an unfamiliar place with people I have never met was a very scary thing for me. I was trying to cope with it all really and it went okay the first day because I was left alone that day. The next however I was woken up then after breakfast I was told it was time for the day-opening, no idea what that was I went with the nurse who told me that and was sat in a room with a group of other patients and they all went round telling how they have slept and how they felt, it seemed very weird to me not knowing that a wile later I would be doing the same, everyday.

Then there was on the program “movement on music” I was like what? I have to do stuff in the hospital? My idea of an hospital was lying on bed mostly and maybe reading a bit but the psychiatric ward just doesn’t work that way. After the therapy hour “movement on music” I had enough, I wanted to go home again but when I told a nurse that the answer was just NO. I was very upset by this but there seemed to be nothing I could do about it. Then I was told I was being moved to another hospital because for some reason the psychiatric ward in this one would close during the weekend. I wanted still to go home but even my parents thought it was better if I just stayed for a wile so I did. It took a wile for me to settle but I went with the program and the routine was quite nice. I started at K1, the critical care unit, the program there was a bit more relaxed then the other group and was easier in my condition to follow. Then after about a month I think I went to the K3, something I fought at first because I can’t handle change very well but after a wile I settled again and it became like a second home. It was nice to have people around me and stuff to do everyday.

In total I was in hospital for 3 months, did get out during the weekend on leave and later I worked 2 afternoons a week but I always came back “home”. I began to like talking to the nurses that I got to know pretty well and was generally feeling better. But then the doctors wanted to sent me back to

the other hospital, I didn’t want that because of the change and so I refused and went home instead.

At first it was weird being home again and having to well entertain myself again, in the beginning I missed having people around me all the time and that there was always someone (day or night) where I could talk to.

I am 25 now and I wish I could say that my fight is over but it isn’t, I still talk to the psychologist once a week and am under treatment of a psychiatrist who is specialist for people with autism.

I went through several psychiatrist in a year and even though changing wasn’t my wish it has learned me an important lesson, not every psychiatrist is the same. My first talked as much as I did so that where very quiet sessions and the second never seemed to have enough time. What I want to say is that not every healthcare worker is going to be right for you, you need someone you can trust and who you feel understands you.

Tomorrow I will increase my dose of anti-depressants again in hope that I will feel better. I still often think that I will feel this way forever and that I never get better but that is what depression does to you, it makes you believe that it will last forever.

It won’t, depression is a horrible disease but it also very curable, you just need to stay alive to see it and that is very very hard I know. The choice to die is one I can always make but I just want to make sure I tried everything before I do cause there is no taking back death.

Rose can be found on twitter here

Guest Post – Petula

As a blogger I often go back and read my old posts. The ones that catch my attention the most are about how I feel regarding my physical and mental issues. I’m often surprised by the depth and truth of my emotions and thoughts. Some of that surprise comes from realizing I’ve revealed more to the world (uh, you know, wherever my blog reaches) than I remember and the other part is pure amazement: I can be deep.

In a world where fibromyalgia and Sjogren’s syndrome are in the forefront and multiple myeloma simmers in the background, I have to have some type of sense of humor. Sometimes I think it’s an invisible illness deflection; laugh so no one knows how crushed you feel on the inside. I fight depression and anxiety every day… Although I like to think depression isn’t a part of my life anymore it tends to show up just when I would rather be left alone. It has been awhile since I’ve talked about it without covering it up with pretty, vague words, which is why I answered the inquiry about writing a guest post here at The Depressed Moose. So many people shy away from the topic of depression, but it’s something that needs to be recognized and discussed regularly.

Not only is it cathartic for the sufferer, but it can be revelatory for those on the outside looking in. Sharing how I feel or think or revealing the true essence of the problem doesn’t come without pain and insecurities. There are normally two reactions I get when (if!) people find out about my depression and anxiety treatment: encouraging and ignorant. That is a bit harsh and generalizing, but it’s fairly accurate.

There are those who are supportive, encouraging and pleased that I have shared – some of them finding permission in my words to reveal their own secrets. Then there are the others who give pat responses and feedback: Just choose to be happy, all you have to do is XYZ and so on.

For instance, an old friend of mine said they don’t read my blog very often because – something to the affect of – it’s not up or happy all the time. On one hand I was hurt by those words and on the other I was angered. My blog is called “It’s a woman’s world” and I write about everything that goes on in my world. I pride myself on being down to earth, honest and completely open. My hope is that my words will speak to someone and ultimately help them in their lives and it’s also very liberating for me. (If they were my friend they’d respect and understand that, right? Not try to make my blog/writing into something that is not “me.”) And, friend, if you’d read my blog on a regular basis you’d know there is way more to me than that and I even right about.

Any-who.

My most recent adventure into the deep, dark world of depression and sadness comes and goes on a regular basis right now. Meaning there seems to be a lot of small things that make me sad. There is, however, a good side to this. Uh, that is if “good” is the correct word in this instance. I’m aware of it and I keep trying to figure out exactly what is making me sad. Wait, I know what it is, but I just don’t know the why. And anyone who suffers with depression knows that it’s the why that’s important because that one reason is making everything else horrible. Yup, I’m now sad about everything and if I can’t be left alone then I’m annoyed and angry.

What a combination.

When I come back later to read this post, I hope I am as pleased with it as I am while I write it. I want to feel pleasure in knowing that I was open and honest as well as pleasure in the hope this post touched or helped someone.

I hope you’re that someone.

 

 

Petula is the writer behind the “It’s a woman’s world” (PetulaW.com) blog where she describes herself as “blogger, writer, mom and… uh… woman.” She’s mom to four and granny to one, somewhere in Georgia.

Posts where she talks about depression: http://www.petulaw.com/search?q=depression 

Guest Post – Shelley

D Day…

It was a normal sort of day, I’d got up after a restless night of new ideas early, well early as is the norm when you live with two five year olds, a husband and a hungry cat.

The children were lively this morning which always makes for an interesting ride. A combination of tiredness and the fact they’d eaten too many sugar puffs. I dressed them, combed their hair and found their shoes while making a mental note to polish them at some point. I didn’t feel anxious but rather a little apprehensive as I drove them to school to deposit them for a day of free babysitting.

Once back in the car, my thoughts turned to the day ahead. My tummy had butterflies, not the little fluttery kind but the kind you see in museum drawers from tropical shores. Today was the day that I was to return to listen to my mental health assessment. My psychologist was a lovely lady but it didn’t stop me wondering what lay ahead as I boarded a train to the big city. In my bag was my packed lunch and large notebook which I had taken to carrying everywhere for my next idea. I had lots of ideas, usually at 4am in the morning and usually that came to nothing.

Once on the train, I sat by where the doors were opening so I could feel the cool air at each station in an attempt to reduce my anxiety. I amused myself by writing people’s life stories in my head as they got on and off the train.
Once in the big city, I made my way up what seemed like endless escalators to emerge into a bright sunny day. The city was extra busy today as the schools were on half term and the incessant chatter of little people was everywhere. It held some attraction for me, especially if I was having a busy head day. I made my way down Bold Street, which amused me as today I felt anything but bold! Glancing at the time on my phone, I realised I was ridiculously early, not my best record but not far off. I’d reserved that honour for a two hour earliness in a car park in Colwyn Bay some months earlier. I was early enough to wander into a cathedral across the road for a few moments of quiet before my appointment. I’d been into the cathedral many times, but it still took my breath away when I looked up at the amazing stained glass windows and quiet yet ginormous open space.

I found a coffee shop and sat for half an hour, enjoying the stillness and quiet in the middle of the big noisy city. All too quickly my time was up, I went into the bathroom and caught sign of my own reflection in the mirror. Would I be different after today? Would I still recognise myself? I came to the conclusion that whatever today held, I would still be me, still hold the same values and beliefs and hopefully people would still love me for that.

To get to this point had been no mean feat, I’d tried over the years to access mental health services but consistently came up against the same barriers, “You can’t be ill cause you’re still in work” “But you seem like such a happy person!” To have to fight for something when you feel least like fighting is the hardest thing. 17 years after I had first presented at my GPs with depression and anxiety I was finally being listened to.

88 Rodney Street was a grand Georgian house and as I walked into the reception area, I was greeted by dark oak panelled walls and chandeliers, in stark contrast to my everyday life!

I didn’t wait long before I was called into room eighteen, a consulting room on the top floor of the building behind a physiotherapist and a back specialist.

I recalled the room from the previous appointment when I had completed all my assessment forms. As I settled into the wing back leather armchair I began to listen to my life contained in 5 sides of A4 paper. It was strange to hear, being reminded of my over reactions to everyday events, my depressive moments, and my times when I had been so low I had thought there was no way out of my black hole. I squirmed a little as it was read out. My psychologist luckily recognised I was having difficulty with the waiting so in an effort to reduce my anxiety, at the end of the first page, she paused and said; “I believe Shelley to be bipolar” She paused after she had said it and asked me what I thought. I expressed my relief at there finally being a word I could associate with and waited for my reaction to her diagnosis. But there wasn’t a reaction. The room was silent, I felt relieved but other than that I was ok.

I wasn’t devastated at being a little bit different to the general populace, I hadn’t fizzled up into a few grains of sand and I was still sat in the same wing back arm chair. The cars outside hadnt paused in response to my diagnosis and the sun was still shining through the Georgian windows. An unbelievable stillness come over me and I think for the first time ever, I felt something that may have been contentment or hope. I continued to listen to my assessment and finally made my way out of room to step back out into the street.

I wandered down the street of Georgian town houses that were once elegant homes. They were almost all consulting rooms that had sprung up in response to our modern illnesses and wondered how I would have been treated years previously.

I was the great grand daughter of a man who had spent 15 years in bed, a man who had gambled away his family’s inheritance on nags and dogs before hiding from the world. He was one of the lucky ones, he had a family who loved him so much they cared for him for fifteen years, while the unlucky ones were sent away to live in secure institutions for the rest of their lives. As I turned a corner, I thanked my lucky stars that I lived in 2013. A time when people were beginning to challenge stigma and discrimination around mental ill health, not that it was anywhere near perfect but it was a good start.

Twelve months previously I had become a volunteer for Time to Change Wales. As an educator I went out to talk to people about my experiences of mental ill health. I had had many different reactions, mostly positive but there were still the odd instance where I would hear the audience discussing the merits of keeping “people like that” in secure medical hospitals.

Who did they mean? People like my great grandad? People like the many thousands of others who overcome mental ill health on a daily basis? People like me?

Two weeks post diagnosis and I still feel incredibly relieved more than anything. I believe people around me have struggled to come to terms with my diagnosis much more than I have. Maybe for a fear of change, fear of the future for them and me. Maybe I’m wrong and my diagnosis hasn’t sunk in yet, but I do firmly believe it is a part of my personality, it’s what makes me, me, and hopefully as I learn to understand it, I can become more confident in my own abilities.

Ultimately I believe that from understanding will come acceptance and at the end of the day if I can look in a mirror and the reflection looking back is me, I’m doing ok. (Well, assuming its a good day!)

Until then, I’ll carry on wearing purple knickers every day, writing a novel a week and embracing my individuality.

Shelley Moorfield

Shelley can be found on twitter here

Guest Post – Emily

Living with depression

Mental illness is an ongoing and controversial source of debate. Psychologists and doctors must consider how it should be treated, while the philosophers out there question whether a mind can even get ill. However, be it an illness or not, depression is a serious and unavoidable affliction which is incredibly hard to deal with since no pill, injection or operation can provide an instant remedy. There are no visible symptoms and most people will fail to notice or refuse to believe that someone they know is depressed.

The origins of depression are numerous, but it is important to remember that not everyone who suffers these ’causes’ will become depressed and much depends upon the ingrained mindset of the individual. Traumatic experiences from the past can lead to depression later in life. These include abuse (physical, sexual, emotional), losing a loved one, witnessing an accident or death or fighting off a life-threatening illness. Some surprising events are found to incite depression, including marriage, graduation and getting a new job, while other periods are more predictably difficult such as getting divorced, being extremely ill, losing a job or retiring. Often it is a case of not recovering from the hard times, through which friends and family were there for support but over time they have lost the motivation and energy to stay positive in the face of depression. The following isolation deepens the depression making it even harder to cope with.

While most illnesses come with physical symptoms, depression is harder to recognise unless the sufferer frequently cries and is easily distressed, dramatically gains or loses weight, or reports pains which usual treatment does not cure. It is only through talking to a doctor or psychiatrist that a patient can be diagnosed and directed towards relevant treatment. People with depression experience a variety of mood-related symptoms, including feeling perpetually sad, anxious, helpless, guilty, worthless or just empty, taking no pleasure from their usual activities. Other symptoms include sleeping excessively or not at all and overeating or the total loss of interest in food. These effects are detrimental to health and well-being, further increasing the feelings of depression. It is extremely difficult to live with someone with depression as there is almost nothing to be said or done which seems to help. Outbursts and suicide threats are extremely distressing for close friends and family, who often back away for self-preservation reasons, making the depressed individual feel even lonelier, hopeless and miserable.

So how does anybody escape this vicious circle of loss, grief, depression and isolation? Initially, sessions with a psychiatrist or counselor can help alleviate some of the tension by talking through a troublesome period. It may help identify a cause which had not previously been considered but was always under the surface. However, it is not a way to find somebody or something to blame, since every person must take some responsibility for their situation, or they cannot hope to get out of it. Some doctors prescribe drugs containing serotonin, the happiness chemical, which relieve the feelings of sadness. These are not a permanent cure and should be accompanied by some form of psychotherapy which can help alter negative thought patterns and improve peoples coping methods, leading to an overall improvement in well-being rather than a temporary and false dose of happiness. Ultimately, if an individual really wants to feel better, they will take the guidance and treatment seriously and work hard to develop a new perspective and positive attitude, making their life and consequently those of their friends and family much easier. There is no immediate solution but immediate action will set the ball rolling towards a better future for everyone concerned.

This article was written by Emily Banham on behalf of Living At Choice, a counselling Brighton and psychotherapy Brighton based practice.

Guest Post – Jess Returns!

Following on from her previous post Jess has returned!

I recently got a tattoo of a serotonin molecule on the inside of my wrist. It’s widely believed that this is the chemical which, when imbalanced, can be one of the causes of depression.

While I was having the tattoo done, I explained to my tattooist what it was and why I wanted it done. I told him I had been suffering from depression for 5 years now, but am feeling the best I have for years thanks to this little chemical being kept in order by my meds. While we were talking, he brought up the subject of self harm, now this is something I have never done, and I feel very lucky that I’ve never felt the need too nor have I ever felt suicidal.

Kieran jokingly said in reply “tattoos are enough pain for you then.” Thinking about it as he said it, he was right, four of my six tattoos – I had done when I was feeling low, or was just coming into a high. I don’t know why, but I like the idea that I have replaced self harm with tattoos.

This time last year, I was at my lowest point. I took 6 weeks off work (something I usually enjoyed) and upped my meds to 40mg a day. A few weeks after being signed off work, I also started my first session of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). My new mental health worker was a big, typical straight talking Yorkshire lass, who herself suffered from depression and anxiety. This gave me some comfort, and for the first time since being diagnosed I felt I could talk openly about the effects depression really had on my every day life. I had my first panic attack during one of our sessions, I was terrified but she helped me through and explained what was happening inside my brain.

For the first time, there was someone to reassure me that it wasn’t just me. It wasn’t just me that felt like the whole town was staring as I walked through the centre, or that the group of women at the other side of McDonalds knew something was wrong with me and were definitely laughing about it. Or that it wasn’t just me that questioned whether my friends actually like me, or just don’t have it in them to tell me to piss off and leave them alone.

I got discharged after around 5 or 6 weekly session of CBT. During the session when she discharged me, I filled out the questionnaire (yes, that bloody questionnaire), and was shocked to be told by my mental health worker that, when I first came to see her, had this been 15-20 years ago, when the questionnaire’s were used to decide whether or not somebody needed to be sectioned, then I would have been sectioned there and then. In fact, my “score” was well over the total that in years gone by, justified sectioning. (For non-suffering readers, this questionnaire I speak of is basically a load of questions on how you feel, how long you have felt it, whether you avoid certain situations etc.)

I’ve just been for an unplanned visit to my mental health worker (well, it was unplanned 2 weeks ago) this evening, and I realise how lucky I am to have an NHS employee in these times that will see me in 2 weeks or less when I unexpectedly call. I’m not feeling particularly depressed, in fact I’m very happy right now, even more so after the support and kind words I’ve received from my friends and family (most that didnt know about my depression) since my first post for the moose.

No, in all honestly, I needed that appointment to talk about the anxiety I was feeling towards my future (going to uni, moving out etc) and just to get the big kick up the arse that I need to get my motivation, positive thinking and assertiveness back.

Over the last year, I’ve gotten a lot better at spotting the signs of my mental health deteriorating, and these are the three main ones. Although admitting I need a bit of support again is still hard, I managed to pick up the phone and book an appointment before my depression got unmanageable. In the words of my mental health worker this evening after filling in that chuffing questionnaire – “We’ve got it just at the right point, I’m glad you rang when you did.”

It’s amazing how a few drunkern chats on a weekend and 40 minutes sat in a room with somebody can make you feel so much more positive. The hardest part for most people is talking, but it’s often the best medicine.

I’ve never really been one to talk openly about my depression, in fact most of my family members that knew before my first blog for the moose, only knew because my mum or brother had told them. I can only think of a handful of people I have actually told myself, face to face. Saying that, I found writing my last blog a massive relief, I was very surprised with the reaction I got from both people that know me and those that don’t, in fact even a coach that took my FA level one course, and is head of the youth academy at my beloved Rotherham gave me positive feedback on the blog. For that, I’m grateful – to everyone that read my post, and everyone that showed support. Not only that, it’s given me the confidence to talk to my friends about what really goes on inside my head, as now they know about it.

So thanks again for reading, and thanks again to the moose for letting clog up his blog with my ramblings and gain an even better support network.

Jess – @jesstemps92

Guest Post – Elizabeth

7 Surprising Signs You Are Stressed to the Max!

We already know that an upset tummy and symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome are sure signs of being stressed to the Max…yet, there are many other surprising signs that our bodies give us letting us know that we are in a full blown Stress-A-Thon!

Stress is a Killer! I’m not kidding…stress not only leads to digestive distress but also to high blood pressure, stroke, depression just to name a few problems I’m sure you don’t want to experience.

While there are many ways to reduce stress…some of my favorites are: meditation CDs and deep breathing exercises. However, watching out for sneaky stressors is still as important as taking that first deep relaxing breath…Ahhh!

Surprising Sign #1-Weird or Recurring Dreams
You know you are burning the candle at both ends when your stress takes you into SlumberLand. If you routinely dream of missing the bus or your house is burning down, two of the most common stress dreams, then you know it is time to learn how to let go of your stressors.

Surprising Sign #2-Tight Muscles
Turns out that stress causes our muscles to tighten up…leaving us in a more vulnerable spot for injury. It’s time to take a Deep Abdominal Breath in…ahhhh!

Surprising Sign #3-Twitching
While we are on the topic of spasms, have you ever experienced an eye twitch or your calf twitching…then you know yet another sign that you are stressing.

Surprising Sign #4-Tooth Trouble
Grinding your teeth as you sleep or even clenching your jaw while you are awake without realizing it are both ways of “chewing over your problems”, however, these behaviors do not unstress you. Quite the opposite, they cause lots of pain and discomfort.

Surprising Sign #5- Changes in Your Menstrual Cycle
Women commonly complain of unusually bad cramps or even a missed period when stressful times are paramount. When your stress subsides, your menstrual cycle will most likely return to normal.

Surprising Sign #6- Losing Hair or Going Grey
We have heard people say that a stressful or traumatic situation turns you grey…but it is also true that people commonly lose hair, literally the hair follicle becomes lose when we are stressed. Amazing that stress wreaks havoc over EVERY part of our body.

Surprising Sign #7- Super Sniffles
Stress plays an impact on our Immune System lowering our defenses and making us twice as likely to catch a cold over other times we are not as stressed. It all has to do with cortisol, the stress hormone. When cortisol is elevated, the inflammatory response is suppressed  Therefore, when we are exposed to a virus, our body cannot fight it like other less stressful times.

Boy! That is quite the list! I am sure all of you have experienced one of these symptoms before in your life. I am hoping that has subsided for you…and if it hasn’t ..this list may be enough to trigger another stress attack! That’ ok…start breathing deeply…it will pass in no time!

 

Elizabeth has her own website http://www.letgoofibs.com/ and can be found on twitter here