Let Loose

Friday was a big day for me. In fact it was a day that had me worried all last week. Why? I was being “let loose”. My Clinical Psychologist (CP) got a new job and decided that I was ready to be let loose on my own.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a phased ending, she didn’t just punt me out. We decided a couple of months ago that I would just have three more sessions with her. We’d build up Mood Management Plan and then I’d leave.

Honestly I was terrified about this. I felt like my support network that we had built up was crumbling around me (my best friend is moving away and so are my in-laws so I was having a freak out). I felt like that big safety net that was waiting to catch me was getting threadbare…would it hold my weight?

So I arrived in the room and promptly burst into tears. Once that was over with we started to reflect upon my progress. I was sent to her to deal with my mood and to work on accepting my life with M.E. Had we achieved what we set out to do?

I looked at myself and realised that I am no longer in the horribly dark place I was a year ago. I no longer sleep because of depression, I sleep because of M.E. I can differentiate the two now. I have a better control of my thoughts, and those thoughts in themselves are generally less dark than they were. I am happier than I was a year ago.

I realised that I understand myself more. I understand how my brain works. I realise that I am scared of change, my default reaction to change is to panic. I am more aware of my thoughts and feelings. I’m learning to address those thoughts and feelings, not just shut them out and hope they go away. I have also learned to accept help (that was a big one for me).

Making Progress

Making Progress

Of course none of this has come naturally to me. I’ve had to work on it (which in itself is exhausting), and I imagine I will have to work on it for a long time to come.  The thing is I now have the tools to do it. I know that I have to break tasks down into manageable tasks if I want to get anything done…and I can never exceed the 50% rule (think what you want to achieve and then do half of it). This alone has meant that I have managed to achieve things, small things but things that give me a sense of achievement, a sense of meaning, a feeling that I am not entirely useless.

I am less hard on myself now. I take the time to sit and reflect about my problems, figure out what is causing them and how I can fix it. I take the time to process and try not to catastrophise!

I can’t begin to describe how glad I am I went to the CP. She was fantastic and, unlike some medical professionals, understood M.E. She understood what it’s like to live with a chronic illness and she helped me to accept it.

I have to live my life as best as I can…and that it what I am trying to do. Obviously the nature of M.E. means that I am restricted in what I can and can’t do. Some days I can’t get out of bed, but when I can I want to do something, achieve something. No matter how small and insignificant it might seem, it’s these things that help to keep me away from dark thoughts and feeling like my life has value.

There’s absolutely no way I could have done this without my husband though. He is my rock. In fact CP refers to him as her “co-therapist” because he is just so good at helping me through, at understanding and at putting plans in place to help me stay positive. Thank you Jonathon, I love you with all my heart.xx

She will probably never read this but I want to thank my CP too. She has changed my life. When I left I just said “thanks very much for everything, I hope I don’t see you again”. I couldn’t say more or I’d end up an emotional wreck. Mary you have given me back my life. It’s still going to be a battle but with everything you’ve taught me I’m going to get there. I genuinely will miss you, not just in terms of therapy but I will miss our laughs. Good luck in your new job – those kids are very lucky to have you.

So here I am, let loose. I have my Mood Management Plan. I know the warning signs and I know how to deal with them. I’ve come a long way and I’m only just realising that.

I do have an emergency plan in place though. We didn’t manage to tackle my OCD. That wasn’t really what the sessions were about. That said I understand myself more so hopefully hubby and I can tackle to OCD together. If it gets bonkers though I can refer myself back for help with OCD. I’m determined that it wont come to that and we now have two books ready to guide us through beating OCD.

OCD

So there it is. The end of part of my life and the beginning of a more positive, happy life. I don’t ever want to go back to the depths of depression of a year ago and that in itself is motivation enough to keep going.

I hope this post has helped you in some way. My CP was fantastic and I know I am lucky with that. If you are struggling, give it some thought. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s not a magical cure, but it’s worth the work.

Rhoda sig

Falling For The First Time

This is just a short post, perhaps even a random post. Today I decided to stick some music on (quietly) while lying in bed, I wasn’t enjoying the silence.

Anyway this song came on and I’ve been listening to it on repeat. You see this song was sort of my “anthem” if you like when I first started struggling with depression and anxiety. My hubby said “Rhoda, you have to listen to this, it’s you.” He was right. I can completely relate to this song. It might not mean much to you all but I thought I’d share it. There are two phrases that really stand out to me, I’ve highlighted them in bold. Although to be honest I could highlight the majority of this song!

Here we go…. Falling For The First Time – BNL

I’m so cool, too bad I’m a loser
I’m so smart, too bad I can’t get anything figured out
I’m so brave, too bad I’m a baby
I’m so fly, that’s probably why it
Feels just like I’m falling for the first time

I’m so green, it’s really amazing
I’m so clean, too bad I can’t get all the dirt off of me.
I’m so sane, it’s driving me crazy
It’s so strange, I can’t believe it
Feels just like I’m falling for the first time

Anyone perfect must be lying, anything easy has its cost
Anyone plain can be lovely, anyone loved can be lost
What if I lost my direction? What if I lost sense of time?
What if I nursed this infection? Maybe the worst is behind
It feels just like I’m falling for the first time
It feels just like I’m falling for the first time

I’m so chill, no wonder it’s freezing
I’m so still, I just can’t keep my fingers out of anything
I’m so thrilled to finally be failing
I’m so done, turn me over cause it
Feels just like I’m falling for the first time

Anything plain can be lovely, anything loved can be lost
Maybe I lost my direction, what if our love is the cost?
Anyone perfect must be lying, anything easy has its cost
Anyone plain can be lovely, anyone loved can be lost
What if I lost my direction? What if I lost sense of time?
What if I nursed this infection? Maybe the worst is behind

P.S. I just want to explain why I highlighted what if our love is the cost? After I posted this hubby asked what the phrase meant to me. Back at the start of all this I was scared that this illness was going to cost us our relationship. This has never occurred to hubby. It shows our different outlook – I’m always looking at the negative (or I was, I’m trying to get better!).

That phrase means something different to me now. Now it reminds me of that fear and I almost laugh at myself for doubting us. Our relationship has gone from strength to strength. We have gone through this together, side by side, and we will continue to do so. Our love has most definitely not been the cost…. in fact our love has grown even stronger.

Hope that makes sense!

Me vs My Mind

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.