10 October 2013

World Mental Health Day


I've been thinking long and hard today as to whether I should acknowlege the fact that it is World Mental Health Day.

I like my pretty, happy blog but sometimes, just sometimes, I feel it absolutely necessary that a soupcon of cold, hard reality needs to creep in.  Because that's life and it's rich tapestry, isn't it?

I'm going to type this straight off and from the heart, so please bear with ...

I'm not going to give you chapter and verse but I've suffered from clinical depression since the age of eighteen.  That's, ahem, some twenty-something years or so.  Ironically, just a teensy bit longer than the 21 years that Mental Health Day has been 'celebrated'.

I could count on two hands the number of people who know I have a mental illness (really, really hate that phrase) so this 'coming out'  business is quite a big, brave step for me.

The reaction has nearly always been the same.

"OMG!  Really?  I don't believe you.  *A big pause*  But you're so self-confident.  And always seem so happy."

Yes, really.

It's hard and I've had some very dark times.  Times when I've felt so desperate and not known where to turn.  Times when I've felt so detached from the world, on the outside of everything and everyone; almost like I'm looking on but unable to take part.  Times when all rational thought has deserted me.  Times when I've felt nothing more than a burden.  Times when I've felt so absolutely, completely and utterly exhausted, I've wondered how it would feel to just close my eyes and sleep.  To feel some release.

Oh yes, it's really, REALLY the crappest of the crap.

There seem to be two types of depression - circumstantial (a result of loss, stress or trauma in your life) and non-circumstantial (almost like a mis-wiring in the brain).  I have the latter.

I've taken St John's Wort, had counselling and been on short courses of antidepressants on and off throughout the whole of my adult life.  Nothing has really worked for any length of time.

However, something happened a few years ago ...

I had a new doctor.  My firm-but-fair, very old-school, stiff-upper-lipped, bowtie-wearing doctor retired and a young, handsome, floppy-haired and extremely intelligent doctor took over.

"It's quite simple" he said.

"Antidepressants seem to correct the fault in your brain" he said.

"Don't come off them.  I wouldn't try and wean someone off corrective glasses, so why would I try and wean you off antidepressants?"

So, it's been four years (almost to the day) that I've been taking a daily dose of 20mg Citalopram and, you know what, I feel really, really good.  When you're on antidepressants, you still FEEL stuff, you just don't seem to take that extra step that sends you reeling into an abyss.  Your confidence grows with every passing month - I think it took me a good couple of years to be convinced that the horrible 'plummeting feeling' wasn't just lurking around the corner, whatever life threw at me.

So there you go.  My story in a nutshell.

I think I'd like to finish by saying that if you suspect you, or someone you care about, have depression, do please seek help.  More often than not, it doesn't go away by itself.  There is no more shame in having 'dodgy wiring' than there is being short or long-sighted.  There is a resolution.  I promise.  I have eventually found something that suits me; something that affords me the opportunity to live a 'normal' and reasonably stable life.  There is something out there that will suit you too.

Please don't suffer alone.


xxx

45 comments:

  1. a great post Heather, me darling. A very honest and brave admission, good on ya x x x

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  2. A very brave post. I feel your pain. I live in fear that the big 'D' will rear it's ugly head. I keep it locked away, but I know it's always there. Waiting & watching for that little slip...

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  3. I'm very glad you got the correct treatment and are feeling so well Heather. Thank you for sharing such a personal story here.
    Jacquie x

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  4. Thank you. Your honesty is admired and appreciated Heather x

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  5. Hi Heather. It's hard to make yourself vulnerable but you wrote so eloquently...well done you. My story is pretty much the same but obviously I'm older so it's been a bit longer. Thank god for the wise doctors eh? My only word of caution would be that I've found sometimes people will pay lip service to being sympathetic about depression but when you behave in a way they don't like because you're struggling they run a mile. I've learnt to be very careful about being too open until I know I'm safe. Big hugs xxxxx

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  6. Great post. There are more of us out there than people realize. I felt like I was reading about myself when I read your story. Stay well. xxx

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  7. loved your post. my wonderful loving husband fights that battle everyday but he is good as long as he takes his medication. very brave of you , it took my hubby a longtime to admit that he had a problem.

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  8. What a beautifully written post, very brave and heart warming, stay well x
    love jooles xxx

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  9. a wonderful post, big hugs for been so brave, i've posted something today as well
    big hugs again dee x

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  10. Amazing post - thank you so much for sharing this element of your life. XX

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  11. Your story will ring true with so many people, me being one. I think it was very brave of you to post such an honest and heart felt post. Like you I can count on one or two hands how many people know about my depression, not that I'm ashamed just that it rarely comes up in conversation "hey by the way...I have depression"
    I seem to be receiving the same treatment as you and it's working :)
    So thank you for sharing sometimes it's nice to know your not alone xx

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  12. Hi Heather
    Well said - and you're so right about the pills just balancing things out. Both me and my sister both went through periods of panicky anxiousness, and both now take the same treatment every day of the year because it works, simple as that !
    You're so brave to put it all out there, and I hope you feel good for having done so.
    Happy Friday ♥
    Kate x

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  13. Hi, I'm so pleased you have found a way to manage your depression, sounds like you've got a very understanding supportive doctor there! I've worked most of my life with people who live with depression. It taught me not to take my own mental health for granted, depression can hit anyone, it doesn't have a selection process. I have never experience depression myself, yes I've felt sadness and loss, had to readjust to life's circumstances but I'm grateful this has never sunk deep down. I'm not sure why this is but it is. I'm not there's any rhyme or reason to it all, it's just the way our bodies work I suppose. Thank you for sharing this, just because someone has a big smile on their face, doesn't mean they can't experience depression take good care of yourself :) x

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  14. Spectacular post Heather. Every word rings true, not because I have had similar experiences but because my oldest child has. And a couple of years ago he was offered the same simple solution as you, and it is a life saver. He wrestled with the 'black dog' all though his early 20s and now he doesn't have to, and I couldn't be more grateful for that. Thank you for being brave enough to speak up and share your story x

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  15. Dear Heather This post is so interesting and well put, and I am very glad that you found an understanding doctor who found the right solution to keep you well. Thank you for sharing this aspect of your life, I am sure it will help others too.
    Stay well and happy.
    Helen x

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  16. I feel you. I hear you. I am with you.
    xxx
    Annette

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  17. Well done for writing a post, I know how hard it must have been. I myself too suffer with depression. I'm on 200mg of sertrine along with 19 other tablets I have to take each day to just be able to face the day. Sending you a massive hug xx

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  18. I love your honesty Heather, thank you for sharing with us. Love and kisses, Claire xxx

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  19. Much admiration from me, Heather, for your courage and pragmatism, and, indeed, for the happiness that your blog emanates despite your venture into important non-pink matters.

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  20. Thank you for writing this honest post. I know how you feel as I have suffered from depression since I was 19 although it wasn't until much later in life I recognised my first episode as such. I take anti-depressants and have done so for the past 10 years, I just don't cope without them and I'm completely o.k. with that. I had debilitating post natal depression with my two babies and have suffered anxiety and depression on and off since then. The medication makes all the difference between leading a relative normal and happy life and a horrible black hole life. I choose happy.
    I'm so glad medication gives you relief from your symptoms.
    Anne xx

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  21. Thank you for writing this post - for being open and honest and brave. Our son suffered from depression. We did not know how bad it was. We lost him three years ago. He kept it hidden - because it seems to be something no one talks about or admits. You are so brave to speak of it and your own experiences. This is a topic that needs "light" so that those who suffer can reach out for help - and find it. God Bless you and keep you strong and healthy.

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    1. I keep thinking about your comment Carla. I'm a mother and live in fear that my own children might inherit my depression. I'm so terribly, terribly sorry you lost your son. Depression is such a solitary illness. It's not borne from lack of love, trust me. It's chemical/biological. I think that's why I'm such an advocate for medication. It really is the only thing that helps. When I've been at my worst, I've literally hidden from the world. It's so deep-rooted, it actually renders you almost incapable of letting anybody in. I promise, you would be completely forgiven for not ever knowing how badly your son was suffering. At it's worst, the desire to sleep and escape is extremely hard to resist. Luckily for me, my children have always been my 'pull'. Thank you so much for your comment. My very best wishes to you. xx

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  22. Such an honest and heart felt post, and truly inspiring. Well done you for being brave enough to tell everyone how your life is - I admire you. Long may your happy days continue :-)
    B x

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  23. Oh Heather, well done for writing this post. Mental Health (I too loathe that expression) is still such a taboo subject but it's everywhere you look once you scratch below the surface and get to know people well enough for them to open up. I like the sound of your doctor very much! I will email you as there's lots more I want to say but I'm not brave enough to do it here. Yet. xx

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  24. That is a brave post - well done. I know exactly where you're coming from if you know what I mean (yeah, not brave, me!). Look after yourself XX

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  25. Well done on this post, a brave, no frills and honest account of your experience. This taboo subject should be aired in this way, you have finally found your solution and if your account helps just one other person to find theirs that too is a big achievement.

    Thank you and continue to take good care of yourself xxx

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  26. Hi Heather, I'm your newest follower! Love your blog and your story. So well said and you are NOT alone. My son and many family members, friends and really so many suffer from some form of depression. Thank goodness it is now taken seriously and there is help.
    Thanks for sharing, xoRobin

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  27. Dear Heather,
    Thanks for such a brave and honest post. I am very glad you found the best solution for it via your medication. It is probably a very personal thing and different remedies suit some people more than others, like different foods affect us all in different ways.
    I think that your account is going to help a lot of people out there. They do say that it is going to become the biggest illness in this century and we should certainly be taking it seriously. Quite a few people in our family have suffered from it or are suffering it at the moment but it is still a bit stigmatised. Your post contributes thus to normalise it and make it real. Good for you!!! Have a lovely day, Pati xx

    PS: Today I am suffering from IBS which is another of these silent and debilitating illnesses but like you say, the kids keep us going. x

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  28. I think it's really wonderful that you've shared this because I think the more people who do the more normal people realise this is. My partner suffered with what you'd call (and I completely agree) circumstantial depression and it was only when I talked to close friends and family that people said "so do I!" or "I know so-and-so..." and it just makes you feel not alone - because you aren't :-) xxx

    I'm glad your new Dr has been so good, he makes a lot of sense. I know a lot of people think there is a stigma attached to medication and anti-depressants, but actually if they help then there's no problem, a diabetic wouldn't wean themselves off of insulin would they :-) I hope you continue to feel as good as you do now, and know that you've probably made a lot of people reading this feel a bit better! xx

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  29. Interesting and great post. Almost every other person I know has been/is on Citalopram. I am on my most recent episode of it following anxiety problems back in the summer. I feel fine on it - it is a drug which rebalances some chemicals in the brain, giving you a fighting chance of 'normality'. All for it.
    Couple it with counselling and - wahey - you too can have the life you want. Up for that, for sure.
    Well done you.
    x

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  30. Hey sweet girl...This is such a brave and powerful post. I think it took lots of courage to write about something so personal...many of us don't, but behind the scenes we all have our share of the same problems we read about here in wonderful Blogland...and we get good advice lots of the time too. I'm so happy you have a new doctor that's helping you to feel better... and his being handsome doesn't hurt either! (sneaky giggles!) Have a great weekend Heather!!!

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  31. Bravo. BRAVO!
    You'll never truly know how much you may have helped someone with this post. They may not even remember themselves in a few months but I bet you, you'll have saved someone.

    Much love to you my fellow nutter. You've been a joy to me since the off. See you soon.

    xxx

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  32. What a wonderful post hon. Thank you so much for your honesty and your strength to share your story. Your story will help someone - I am absolutely certain of it.

    I am very grateful that here in New Zealand we are starting to have a very different view on 'mental illness' (I hate that term too). We have a fabulous advertising campaign fronted by an ex-All Black and it has worked hard to bring this silent suffering out in the open. That can only be a good thing ay.

    My darling brother suffers from depression and it has been a bumpy road. But finding the right medication and especially the right doctor can make such a huge difference. He is a huge tall fellow who is the life of the party so a lot of people would never believe he had problems. He talks about it openly and in my opinion would make a fabulous speaker to teenagers to show them there is help out there and not to be ashamed of it.

    Who cares if someone needs medication for the rest of their life. We would never judge someone for medicating any other health problem they had - so why should this be any different.

    So thank you again for being so brave! I think you're amazing.

    Leah
    x

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  33. What a fantastic, beautifully worded post. Thank you so much for sharing xx

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  34. This is such an honest, open post. My 23-year old daughter suffers with anorexia which we now understand is a mental health issue and not just a case of eating more! It broke my heart to see my daughter suffering so but she had wonderful care at a residential home in Dorset and although she is still very slim, she is a world away from where she was in 2011 and in the second year of a teaching degree at university. To say we are proud, is an understatement. XX You are right to talk about it - it shouldn't be a taboo subject!

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  35. Hi Pink Milk, I landed here from Jacquie's blog and I spotted your post about depression so I just wanted to say well done for speaking out about it. It's about time that stigma is well and truly squashed and the only way that will happen is is brave souls like you speak openly about it. For the past 8 years I've been shouting out about dementia to anyone who'll listen as I was horrified by people's reaction to my mother's condition - they seemed to think she'd brought it on herself! You have done a very brave thing in laying yourself bare like that and I salute your honesty. Susie

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  36. It's very generous of you to share that kind of information with us, mostly strangers. I have not been diagnosed, but I feel just the same way more often than I'd like. This time last year I was at the border of the abyss and about to step forward. There's always something to trigger it, but not everybody takes things so badlly.
    Glad you're feeling better.
    XOXO,
    Cristina

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  37. I found this post via a couple of other blogs and it has made very interesting reading. I too have that missing wire and have been on anti depressants now for over 20 years. If I try to come off them within a week I feel the black clouds descending. It helps to keep them away. I still get down days like most people do, but I can climb up quicker. Without meds it would take months. Thank you for sharing. Not many know, like you, because they just don't understand.

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  38. Pottering around your blog this afternoon the word depression caught my eye so I had to click. So well said, thank you. Like countless thousands of other people I've been there. Eating disorder, depression, OCD, I seem to have been attempting to collect a full set in my life! It's important, I think, that people are open about it. It's just a common medical problem, like asthma or allergies. Not the persons fault, and often quite treatable.

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  39. Hello! I am a psychiatrist and your Dr. is right. The depression is due to death of hippocampal neurons (limbic brain) due to neurotoxic effect of cortisol that is released by stress or stress system vulnerability. Antidepressants generate hippocampal neuronal growth, causing the release of neuronal growth factors. When depression is recurrent as in your case is an indication lifetime antidepressant or a mood stabilizer such as lamotrigine. All the best. Happiness depends on mental health.
    Kisses!

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  40. I can identify completely. It was so helpful to me to read your post. Sometimes I think I must be imagining The Black Dog's Visits, but when i read it described by someone else I know I'm not making it up. Thank you xx

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  41. Hi, found you blog by 'blog hopping' from Cherry Heart today. Just wanted to say thank you for openly talking about your depression. I too have suffered on and off since a teenager. Also, I love that my new, younger Dr has also said it's no problem me staying on my antidepressants (that was such a relief). Yer I've had ups and downs, normal life stuff, but I've gained so much more from having had this mental illness (yes it is hard to say isn't it). I've found true friends, I've learned to appreciated the good stuff. There are some terrific blogs out here from fellow sufferers. I feel like we are family that should unite and support each other. You take very good care of yourself lovely lady, and thanks again :)

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  42. Yes, you've described to a T. Thanks for your honesty and for being so brave. I too have found relief.

    S
    xo

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  43. You are an amazing woman, brave and honest and inspiring. You have perfectly described how so many people feel, including me. Thank you for sharing, this post is/will be very valuable to many. It is a lonely illness, that non-sufferers cannot begin to understand, so we need to open and help each other. There IS light at the end of the black dark tunnel, even when we can't see it. Be proud of how far you have come and encouraging the rest of us to continue our journey.

    I love your blog, your pretty colours and gorgeous yarn are delightful balm x

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