I was rather quiet for most of April, I hadn’t planned to be, but you soon learn when you live with M.E. that planning is a bad idea. What do I mean? Well planning to have a friend round for a coffee next Friday morning…it never works. Invariably I have to text the night before or in the morning and say “i’m really sorry I’m just not up to it today”. In fact I should probably make that a template text on my phone! I’ve always liked having plans in life…maybe that’s one of the reasons why M.E. can really bring me down?
I’ve never really spoken out about my depression before…and in actual fact 10 minutes ago when I started this post I had absolutely no intention to…yet here I am. I was talking to a friend on twitter today who has a chronic illness, like me when she first went to the doctor she was told it was depression. Like me, she didn’t actually have depression at the time, but like me she does now as a result of her condition and everything she had been through.
I have been on antidepressants for six years now – wow, that has actually really shocked me, I’ve never added it up before. When I was first sent to the clinical psychologist because my illness was “all in my head” I was prescribed with them, and I took them hoping against hope that they might actually have some kind of effect. In fact they made me even more of a zombie than I already was, but over time my body got used to them. Did they make a difference? Well they had absolutely no effect on my M.E. that’s for sure!
Six years later and I now take three times that original dosage. This time though it’s because I really am depressed.
I’m pretty sure that if you asked most people I know they’d say that I’m not depressed. Why? Because whenever I see people I have this need to be the “cheery”, “positive”, “things aren’t really that bad” Rhoda. I try to hide how bad my M.E. is and I definitely try to disguise my mood. The truth is though that in my head I can be feeling like there is no point to my existence.
I don’t quite know how to explain this. I feel like I’m lying in bed or flopped on the sofa and the world is carrying on without me – kind of like when you were at school and you’d get out early to go for a doctor’s appointment and realise that in fact the whole world was still revolving outside those four walls – make any sense? Every year my birthday comes around (as they do) and I realise that’s another year of my life spent in the house, imprisoned by the M.E. jail.
I think about what I’ve actually achieved in these M.E. years, I think about what I had planned to achieve by the time I was 28. I try to get myself to the bathroom and realise that ten years ago I would feel the same level of exhaustion after helping my Dad at the croft all day. I feel useless.
There have been some truly really dark days and weeks which although I’d like to share, I can’t. Just the thought of people I know and love knowing how I’ve been feeling is enough to put me off.
I actually requested to go back to the clinical psychologist last year as I felt that my mood was getting too much for me to cope with, and I needed someone that I didn’t know to talk to. I think that has been the best move I’ve made in these M.E. years. To have someone there to talk to, someone that I don’t feel I have to protect, is invaluable to me.
Of course actually getting there and seeing the doc requires planning and she often gets the “I’m really sorry I can’t make it” line from me. She doesn’t care though, she just sends me out my next appointment and we see if I can make it.
The appointments in themselves absolutely flatten me, never mind getting there etc, and I know that for days afterwards I will have to try and recover. Even just talking exhausts me, but I know that I’m helping to remove the dark clouds that gather in my head and for me that’s worth all the pain, fatigue and stress of going.
Since I’ve been seeing the psychologist I have discovered that I have OCD. I can hear people groaning from here….she goes to see a psychologist and suddenly everything is wrong with her. I can assure you that’s not the case.
I’d been behaving very strangely for months (moreso than usual!) and this odd behaviour was not only extremely tiring but really depressing, I couldn’t control it! This is the first time that I’ve actually written it out, thereby make it real! It all started when I HAD to hold the fridge closed for 10 seconds, which soon became 5 x 10 seconds, which soon became holding the taps for 10 x 10 seconds, then even controlling the length of time I was on the toilet in terms of 10 seconds. That’s just a hint of it, there’s plenty more!
I actually thought I was going mad. I’d check the window was shut 10 times, I’d press my back button on my phone 10 times before I went to sleep, and I had absolutely no idea why I was doing it but there was no way in Hell that I could stop myself!
When I finally found the guts to talk about this I was told it was a “manifestation of worry”. It took me and my foggy brain a while to get my head around but then it all made sense. I spend all day alone while J is out at work, I’m too tired to talk on the phone and have no energy to do anything of substance. So I was channelling all my worry and stress into things that I could do …. hold the taps after washing my hands etc. Does that make sense? I’m not sure I’m explaining it very well.
All of this was adding to my stress, my low mood and ramping up my anxiety. Not to forget using up huge amounts of my energy!
It’s been a struggle but I am getting better. I know I worry far too much about things way beyond my control and I know that I still have a lot of my OCD traits but I am working on it. By working on it I feel like I’m actually achieving something and that feeling of mastery is helping my mood.
So you see although at the start when they thought it was all in my head it wasn’t, now I have a new thing to deal with….my mind.