Monday, 6 October 2014

Beginning of the end?

Just over 2 weeks ago I finally plucked up the courage to talk to my doctor about reducing my antidepressant dose.

It's a big step, to me anyway. It had been playing on my mind for a while but the prospect was so daunting that I had never done anything about it before. 

It's all a bit strange really and not what you might expect. I haven't made the decision because I feel better, I'm not as bad as I have been at various points in the past, but I feel far from a-ok, stable and fine. In fact, recently I have had moments when I wondered if I was relapsing, experiencing really bad, hard to control anxiety. In the end I have made the decision to trial a reduced dose because I'm becoming more and more convinced (hopeful) that some of the other issues I am experiencing might be side-effects of the meds (I'm not ready to talk about those on here yet though).

Having read a lot of things online I have to say the prospect of reducing my dose, or maybe eventually completely coming off the mess, is really scary. I'm keeping my best logical, reasonable head on with this and not jumping to the worst conclusions that these kind of withdrawal accounts are the norm or what I can expect to experience. I guess I just looked them up to get an idea of what kind of things I might want to be looking out for. I'm probably a bit hyper aware of possible symptoms at the moment and it's hard to tell what is real, what isn't and what is just completely unrelated.
The first few days were, not too surprisingly, absolutely fine - it does take a while for levels of the medication in your system to reduce in-line with the new dose. 
The first thing that I wasn't sure about as withdrawal or just normal is tiredness - despite getting a good amount of sleep I still felt really tired in a way that felt more extreme than normal.
Other things were hard to distinguish from being related to just being over tired, including clumsiness and occasional loss of balance.
On the 4th day after starting the lower dose I really struggled at work with some pretty thick brain fog. I'm almost certain this was a withdrawal symptom as it's very similar to how I felt when I ran out of tablets for a few days a few years ago. It made it very hard to get anything done but persisted, to a greater or lesser extent, for nearly a week.
The evening of the 5th day was probably the worst I felt - I tried doing some exercise, nothing too intense, but afterwards I felt really nauseated and a strange kind of buzzy-shakeup feeling in my arms. My head felt strange too, and some of my muscles were a bit twitchy.

Fortunately, after about 2 week, the withdrawal symptoms seem to have died down. The only thing I'm still a bit concerned about is mood swings, I get very grumpy very easily and do feel slightly more prone to low moods. I have no idea what to expect going forward from here. There's always the possibility that the depression will get out of hand again. Plus my main motivation - will these suspected side effects that I've got so sick of actually get any better?

So things are a bit all over the place for me right now. I do intend to try and keep a record of my experiences here.
I'm not sure if anyone even reads this, if you do and have thoughts or experiences to share then I'd love to hear from you.

All the best,
Betty

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Social Media, Loneliness and Depression

Personally, I find social media to be incredibly unhelpful when I am feeling particularly unhappy and lonely.

Sometimes I (mistakenly) think that taking to the massive online social gathering places such as Twitter and Facebook will be a great quick fix for a low mood - lots of friendly, interesting people ready and waiting to chat, listen to my woes, share theirs and all-in-all leave everyone feeling better for it. If only that were the case.

Social Media through depressed/lonely/unhappy eyes is a truly horrific place full of self-centred people only interested in themselves and publicising the finer aspects of their own lives - a thoroughly anti-social experience. *Be warned, I am currently viewing the world through such depressed eyes*.

I find myself lost in a mire of other people's wonderful holidays, expensive purchases, new jobs, weddings, babies, new homes and people who don't even seem to know I exist (or care). This is probably a pretty harsh judgement (and isn't true 100% of the time) but it is how social media affects me when I feel like this, most of the time anyway.

To be honest, with all these online social meeting places I have never felt so alone. 

Does anyone else find this? Or am I just being ridiculous, melodramatic and actually quite self-centred myself?

Betty
x

Sunday, 12 May 2013

2013

Two thousand and thirteen was going to be my big year - the year I finished my PhD, moved out of the flat I've grown to hate, and hopefully the city I've lost most if not all affection for, get a good job and start living the life I've been dreaming of for years, with Pete and Alf.

Unfortunately, the first four and a bit months of the year haven't come anywhere near to realising my hopes and dreams.

Although I have (more-or-less) finished the PhD, I am currently unemployed and still in the same flat in the same city, with little in the way of hope for a positive change in the near future.
I have spent most of the year claiming JobSeekers, which is a miserable and soul-destroying experience - especially for anyone who has anything in the way of qualifications. Let's just say they were totally in-equipped to deal with someone with a PhD. I am only now an ex-JobSeeker because Pete has got a new job which now means our household income is above the threshold for claiming. So now I am completely reliant on his income to cover our rent and bills, which is a position I hate being in.
Despite having to apply for at least 4 jobs a week for 4 months (4*4*4= a minimum of 64 jobs!), I have only had 1 interview, which was obviously not successful. It's really getting me down as I don't know why I haven't managed to secure a job yet - for most applications I get no reply and for the rest I just get a generic "Thank you for your application. Unfortunately you have not been successful. Due to the volume of applications we received we are unable to provide individual feedback". Not very helpful really.
I'm not exactly one for being full of hope and self-confidence at the best of times, but this is really knocking me and I often find myself questioning what I am ever going to be able to do and if I am ever going to make anything of my life - which is clearly a very toxic way of thinking and never leaves me feeling very good.

All-in-all, I've spent most of 2013 so far feeling completely lost, bewildered and hopeless. So much for my big year. It's starting to effect the rest of the things in my life too - I have so little motivation to blog, go to WI, see friends, exercise, read, anything really. I could just cry.

Hope you are doing better than me,
Betty

Monday, 31 December 2012

Body Positive/Mentally Healthy New Years Resolutions

Sorry for my prolonged absence - finishing off my PhD thesis is practically finishing me off. Hopefully it will only be a few more weeks and then I will be able to throw myself back into blogging properly.

I just saw this posted by The Huffington Post and really wanted to share it - this time of year can be particularly hard going for anyone with any sort of mental health problem. Don't let yourself get caught up in the usual cycle of unrealistic and un-mentally-healthy resolutions and have a go at some of these instead.


New Years Resolutions 2013: 10 Body Resolutions To Make You Feel Great This Year



Love and Best Wishes,
Betty

Monday, 17 September 2012

Learning to like yourself in the face of external criticism

Recently, my boyfriend had a group of his friends come to stay with us. I found out afterwards that during their stay, one of these friends took it upon himself to critique the 'state' of our flat.

I did not take this well.

Now I'm hardly my own biggest fan. Most of the time I do not like myself and think myself to be deficient in pretty much every way - unlikeable, incompetent, annoying, ugly, the whole thing. However, I know that this is a problem and I make significant efforts on an almost daily basis to like myself a bit more.

These days I often feel quite content with myself and my life. It's not perfect and it can be a little unusual, but that's actually part of what I like about it.
So how then, am I supposed to feel when I receive criticism about the very thing I am trying to feel better about, my life and how I live it, from an external source?
My first reaction was anger and indignation, however that quickly descended into a bout of self loathing that lasted for more than a day. I had been well and truly shaken.

So, how am I supposed to reconcile learning to like myself with this kind of unnecessary criticism?

I don't actually have an answer, unfortunately.

I'm either feeling lousy about myself or feeling angry about the criticism - neither of these are particularly great ways to feel for a prolonged period. My brain won't let go of the criticism but the (small) more self-assured part of me won't let me give in to it either.

I do have a lot of stuff, but I have reasons for the vast majority of it - things that I like and that make me happy, things that are useful, things that hold memories. Why should I have to change the way I live because someone else would rather live a more minimal lifestyle?
I'm clearly in one of my indignant and defiant moods. There's still something inside of me though, yelling, telling me that I'm no good and that people are judging me and finding me deficient. That voice gets louder and louder til it's all I can hear.

You can probably tell I'm pretty far from getting over this one.

The real problem is - as much as I think the criticism is wrong, - it's shot right to the heart of my insecurities and reinforced my belief that I am "bad" and my fears of being judged negatively. I have got more anxious and much less comfortable with people, just in the week since this all started. I hate it and I don't know what to do about it. I can't stay stuck in this cycle of anger and self hatred.

I feel so bad right now.

Betty
x

Sunday, 12 August 2012

My First Attempt at Podcasting

So I've had a little go at recording my thoughts rather than writing them down. I'm not sure how happy I am with the finished result at the moment, but that might just be my frame of mind.

Let me know what you think of the idea of doing more podcasts here, or if you prefer to read my writing rather than listening to my voice!

Click to listen
My First Attempt at Podcasting

Love,
Betty
x

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

Well, the summer has finally shown up here in the UK. I like the good weather, but unfortunately the way I'm feeling is far from wonderful.


I suppose my mood has been going downhill slowly over recent weeks, largely due to work related stresses. I had my PhD transfer viva last week; for those of you who don't know about the PhD process, it's basically an oral examination on my research thesis to see if I've done enough and will be able to complete the PhD or not. I'd been working really hard all month in the anticipation that the viva would be sometime this month, then it was scheduled at less than a weeks notice and my anxiety went into overdrive.


The stupid thing is, as much as I was terrified before hand (my legs were shaking so much on the day I nearly fell down the stairs), the actual viva went well, to be honest, really well. I wasn't asked anything I couldn't answer or given any criticism that wasn't fair and constructive. I actually left on quite a high.


Yet somehow, despite that high, I have returned to the downward course I was on before.


Over the last month I have noticed myself getting more withdrawn socially. Aside from the fact that I have spent as many days in the office this month as most of the rest of the year, I haven't had any social contact with people other than my boyfriend (not that that's a complaint about him, he's great). Even the office doesn't feel that sociable anymore, as more of the people I know leave and those remaining are as busy as I am. I've pulled out of two big social events at the last minute, for reasons ranging from having too much work, being too stressed, too tired, too poor and just generally too grumpy/miserable to be motivated. The problem is, after-the-fact I'm left feeling guilty and wretched and like I'm going to lose all my friends because of it. The latest of those is today, when I should have been going to the New Forest Show with some of my WI friends. As well as it being a bit too expensive for me right now, I just really couldn't face it. I love those girls and I really feel like I'm missing out on a great day. I feel so guilty and stupid for pulling out, even though I know beating myself up over it is only making me feel worse. I've even text them to apologise, explain and they have said they aren't angry with me, but my depressed brain seems convinced that they will now hate me forever and never want to do anything with me again. 


I make myself so angry sometimes. 


If I was talking this through with my therapist I know exactly what he would tell me to do; think about why I think they will hate me then look at the actual evidence. I think they will hate me and not want to be my friends anymore because I have lost so many friends in the past in similar circumstances. Looking at the actual, current evidence, these girls are great and lovely and have said in so many words that they are not annoyed with me.


That actually helped just to type that out. I feel a bit calmer.


It's my birthday party this weekend and to be honest, the way I was feeling, I just wanted to cancel. I won't, because I know it's not really the right thing to do, also I know my boyfriend won't let me (bless him). I'm in the sort of mood where I just can't understand why anyone would want to see me or be my friend at all, like I'm the most miserable, boring, unlikable, unreliable person and totally incapable of having a good time. 


What I really need to do is focus on picking myself up, dusting myself off and getting myself in the mood to have a good time with my friends on Saturday. I'll let you know how I get on with that :/


Thanks for listening,
Betty
x