The evolution of my depression

When I first got diagnosed with depression and anxiety, it was very much trauma related and I had flashbacks, nightmares, the whole shebang… (there were also mentions of PTSD from the Psych, which I am sure I did have). I was lost and depressed and I didn’t know who I was. My abusive relationship had taken my identity and confidence and buried them somewhere far far away. 

Fast forward over 6 years to today, I have dealt with a lot of the trauma. I still get triggered occasionally, but not multiple times a day like previously, and now I can walk down the street at home without being scared, and I can drive past the road sign that says the place name where he lived… all that “normal” stuff that used to be so hard and triggering for me. 

Now I have a different problem, my migraines and pain and fatigue have spiralled out of control. I wouldn’t say my depression ever completely went, but it was much more manageable, now I find a lot of my negative thoughts and depression and anxiety are around the pain/fatigue.

 I feel hopeless because I know that neither my migraines or fibro are curable (the consultants are aiming to help me reduce rather than cure the migraines, and to manage the pain and fatigue of fibro.)

Some days when the pain is bad or the migraines are bad and persistent, I find myself questioning the point of my life. Sometimes I feel like there’s no way I want to live like this for another 60+ years. 

My biggest fears are now that I won’t be able to do things. This week has been hard, it has taken everything I have to get to work and do my job, and it’s only Wednesday. It makes me wonder how long I will be able to work full time for? How long before I have to give up my dream of being a clinical psychologist (training, if I ever get into it, would be intense and fulltime – balancing placements, studies and research)? I am going on a really exciting trip next year with the scouts, and I am terrified that I won’t be able to actually go. The aim of the trip is to build a large structure so will involve a lot of physical activity and it is at altitude.

Clearly I am not feeling very positive today. Some days I do, most days I don’t. It is hard for me to accept the way that my conditions are affecting my life, and that they will always affect me. I always had the hope the one day I would overcome my anxiety and depression, but this is different, I know that this won’t go away. And actually even my psychiatrist said that we are working to manage my symptoms as I have chronic depression. Pretty crap.

Ok, negative post done. I am working on something more positive which I hope to post in early December – I am trying yoga this month. Also, I have a physio appointment tomorrow and they are going to give me an exercise plan for graded exercise therapy as treatment for fibro. I’m really hoping it will be helpful! Will probably write a post about it to keep you updated!

Love, 

Ellie xx

 

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The evolution of my depression

When I first got diagnosed with depression and anxiety, it was very much trauma related and I had flashbacks, nightmares, the whole shebang… (there were also mentions of PTSD from the Psych, which I am sure I did have). I was lost and depressed and I didn’t know who I was. My abusive relationship had taken my identity and confidence and buried them somewhere far far away. 

Fast forward over 6 years to today, I have dealt with a lot of the trauma. I still get triggered occasionally, but not multiple times a day like previously, and now I can walk down the street at home without being scared, and I can drive past the road sign that says the place name where he lived… all that “normal” stuff that used to be so hard and triggering for me. 

Now I have a different problem, my migraines and pain and fatigue have spiralled out of control. I wouldn’t say my depression ever completely went, but it was much more manageable, now I find a lot of my negative thoughts and depression and anxiety are around the pain/fatigue.

 I feel hopeless because I know that neither my migraines or fibro are curable (the consultants are aiming to help me reduce rather than cure the migraines, and to manage the pain and fatigue of fibro.)

Some days when the pain is bad or the migraines are bad and persistent, I find myself questioning the point of my life. Sometimes I feel like there’s no way I want to live like this for another 60+ years. 

My biggest fears are now that I won’t be able to do things. This week has been hard, it has taken everything I have to get to work and do my job, and it’s only Wednesday. It makes me wonder how long I will be able to work full time for? How long before I have to give up my dream of being a clinical psychologist (training, if I ever get into it, would be intense and fulltime – balancing placements, studies and research)? I am going on a really exciting trip next year with the scouts, and I am terrified that I won’t be able to actually go. The aim of the trip is to build a large structure so will involve a lot of physical activity and it is at altitude.

Clearly I am not feeling very positive today. Some days I do, most days I don’t. It is hard for me to accept the way that my conditions are affecting my life, and that they will always affect me. I always had the hope the one day I would overcome my anxiety and depression, but this is different, I know that this won’t go away. And actually even my psychiatrist said that we are working to manage my symptoms as I have chronic depression. Pretty crap.

Ok, negative post done. I am working on something more positive which I hope to post in early December – I am trying yoga this month. Also, I have a physio appointment tomorrow and they are going to give me an exercise plan for graded exercise therapy as treatment for fibro. I’m really hoping it will be helpful! Will probably write a post about it to keep you updated!

Love, 

Ellie xx

 

A month of mindfulness! 

I think I have mentioned before that I use mindfulness meditation to help me manage my anxiety/depression/stress etc. 

Today I am really proud to say, I did mindfulness meditation every day in October! I try to do one in the morning before I get up and one before I go to sleep, just 5 minutes each time. I have been doing mindfulness on and off for a long time, but 31 days is the longest I have ever done in a row (32 now as I am carrying on into November!)

I use an app called Stop, Breathe and Think, it has a variety of different meditations, I tend to use the “welcoming the day” and “falling asleep” ones mostly, but there are lots of different ones. My favourite one is probably “relax, ground and clear” because the second half of it is about imagining you are on top of a mountain, and I find that really relaxing. 

There are lots of other mindfulness apps too – Headspace is another good one. You can also find meditation CDs in charity shops or MP3s online, lots of options!

Some days I struggle through my meditation, my mind keeps drifting away and I long for the gong to mark the end of it. Other days, when it finishes I feel like a weight has lifted. But I am persevering, and I want to extend it a bit and do some longer meditations. 

My 5 top tips for meditations would be:

1. Stick with it. You may feel silly at first. You may struggle to keep your mind on the words. But keep trying and in time you can learn to engage with your breath and focus on the current moment. 

2. Make it a routine. Now I know that when my alarm goes off in the morning, the first thing I do is put a meditation on. Whenever you choose, stick to that time every day and before you know it you will have a habit!

But…

3. Don’t stress if you miss a day. I am guilt of this one! In the past, if I missed a day I lost my motivation and would forget about mindfulness for a while. The app I use keeps track of the number of days in a row that you meditate, it’s great to see how many in a row I have done, but I have now learned to accept that sometimes I will lose my streak, I can just start again.

4. Leave your expectations to one side. Mindfulness is all about being in the moment, and instead of engaging with every thought you are meant to acknowledge the thoughts without judging them, and let them pass. It’s the same with expectations – maybe you think it’s a load of rubbish and won’t make a difference? Put that to the side and give it a try. Maybe you’re hoping it will change your life and be your saviour? Put that to the side too. The likelihood is that mindfulness is either of those extremes, but it might give you something positive. 

5.  Find something that suits you. When I started trying mindfulness I tried a lot of different apps. They all have different styles, different voices, different accents, different types of meditations. I think it’s really important that you find a voice you can engage with as it would be difficult to fully connect to the meditation if you are constantly thinking how annoying the voice is! 

Let me know if you give it a go! Does mindfulness help you?

Love,

Ellie xx

I can breathe 

This morning I woke up, I stayed at my boyfriend’s house last night. I woke up and said “I don’t feel anxious”, it was such a surprise that I had to say it! 

After he went to work I took my dog for a walk, my family are at a university open day as my brother is hopefully going next year so it was just me and the doggo. 

I took him to a lovely park that has a river and a wooded area. The colours are beautiful, I love autumn. It’s a bit windy, what with storm Brian on it’s way, so the leaves were blowing about and it was lovely. I walked through the woods while my dog ran around happily and I realised – I can breathe again. I felt at peace with the world, earphones in, leaves blowing about and not another soul around except me and doggo. 

I thought about taking photos because I wanted to capture the moment, but I realised I wanted to BE in the moment. Create the memory in my mind instead of on my phone, just take it all in. Besides, I don’t think a photo would’ve been able to get it quite right. 

It’s not a feeling I’ve experienced for a long time and it felt great. I don’t know how well I have explained the feeling or whether anyone else knows the feeling, but just wanted to share a positive post! (For a change!) 

I have a social event tonight so anxiety has reappeared a little bit, but it’s nowhere near how bad it has been for the last few weeks so I’m enjoying this time.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend, don’t get blown away! 

Love,

Ellie xx

Ouch

This week I have had migraines 4 days in a row. I am limited on the number of times per month I can take medication so this worries me. I had to leave work at lunchtime today because it got bad. 

I am fed up of my bloody migraines. I get about 20 days per month of migraines/headaches now which is ridiculous!! So far this month I have had 10 (out of only 13 days)

I feel completely exhausted and I am aching all over. But at least (for now) the migraine has gone. The pain is weird. My limbs feel very heavy and today it hurts to pick things up. I went to get a glass out of the cupboard earlier but it hurt to raise my arm. I get a weird sensation like my feet are on fire, and they go all tingly. Then I get random bursts of pain in different areas of my body. 

 Being in pain really brings my mood down. It makes me feel like there’s no point and it worries me that one day I might not be able to do the things I want to do, or things I take for granted now like taking the dog for long walks, going to work etc. 

I am struggling with sleep at the moment too. Going to bed later, taking longer to get to sleep, waking in the night. 

It just all feels too much right now. Hoping I will get a good nights sleep and tomorrow I will be in less pain. Hoping for a migraine-free day! 

Sorry for writing a post just to moan about things. Just needed to let it out. 

Love,

Ellie xx

World mental health day

Today is world mental health day. It seemed wrong not to post today given that my blog is about mental health. I have been wondering for the last few days what to write today, but it’s getting late and no plans came to mind so I’ll just wing it –

It makes me incredibly sad that many people don’t seek help for their mental health because they are ashamed. It makes me sad that they don’t think their friends or family will support them (whether or not this belief is true – sadly it often is). You wouldn’t hesitate to go to the doctors about a physical condition, but for some reason it’s different if it’s psychological. Because people should just “man up”, “it’ll all be ok in the end, you’ll see” right? People should just “get over it” and “cheer up” right?

If only it were that simple. 

So if you’re reading this and you’re one of those people who is scared to speak out, I urge you to seek help. Getting treatment could lead to a much happier life and can prevent things getting worse, getting to crisis point. No matter how badly you think of yourself, you are worthy of help, you are great and you will get through this. And if you have some help to do it, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe it’s even brave to face up to our struggles, to ask for help!

And if you’re one of those people who thinks people should just “cheer up” and “get over it” then I urge you to do some research, find out about mental health. The research speaks for itself, mental health conditions do exist – they affect the brain chemistry, they have a massive impact on people’s lives and it’s not their fault. Try to understand what it must be like to struggle daily with mental health issues and then maybe you will see that we can’t just “cheer up”, it’s not that easy. 

Maybe you just don’t know what to say? That’s ok! Sometimes all that is needed is a listening ear, sometimes being here is enough. We don’t need all the answers, but we need to be taken seriously, we need someone to talk to, someone to do their best to understand. That is enough, there are experts for the rest of it, but you – the family member, the friend – YOU are who we need to support us when things are bad. 

And for those of you who are fighting your personal hell each day, keep going. Things can change, no matter how hard it seems. Seek help when you need it (whether professional or support from a friend/family). Take time to look after yourself, I am a big believer in self care. Sometimes you feel selfish and worthless, but you are not, you simply need to look after your mental health as you would your physical health. 

I challenge you all to do something to help… Raise awareness, post on Facebook or Twitter. Fight stigma by challenging people’s beliefs, by calling people out on jokes about mental health. Ask someone how they are (really mean it) and listen to their answer, be there as a listening ear instead of rushing off as usual. Text that friend that you haven’t heard from in a while, smile at the old lady you see at the bus stop. Do something nice because you can. The world needs more random acts of kindness. 

Together we will get through this, together we will fight stigma. 

Lots of love,

Ellie xx

Can’t have a rainbow without rain 

Feeling really low today. Not sure why, but I am. Sometimes nature gives you what you need, a reminder that things will be ok. A reminder that among all the shit we deal with daily, there’s still beauty in the world. A ray of hope. 

A double rainbow!


In case you can’t see the photo, there’s a double rainbow outside my window. One is really bright and the other is more faded on the left. This brought a smile to my face when I’m feeling bad. 

Love,

Ellie

P.s. Forgot to say – yesterday was world smile day! 😊 

Hospital season 

On Monday is my next hospital appointment. I am in the strange situation of having 5 hospital appointments before Christmas. I find that embarrassing, ridiculous. I guess this is the life of someone with multiple long term conditions. This one is the psychiatry appointment. 5 different appointments with 5 different departments of the same hospital! 

My anxiety is pretty bad at the moment. Finding myself avoiding things more than before. Mainly social things. I am considering asking to try another medication. We will see. Is it worth the Side effects? I’ve already tried at least 6 antidepressants, but there are still more options. 

Time for bed said zebedee! 

Love,

Ellie xx

Stress

Hi everyone,

I haven’t written anything for a while but I’ve still been reading other blogs. I have been pretty busy and pretty tired. I couldn’t find the words I wanted to write. There is a lot of change is underway at the moment. And it’s stressful. Anxiety is up, mood is down. Yuck!

Following my diagnosis of fibromyalgia, I decided that doing 2 part time jobs adding up to more than full time probably wasn’t a great thing to continue to do. I have been feeling for some time that it is not sustainable and I am heading for burnout. So the diagnosis was the kick up the butt I needed. That and the fact that extra hours came up at one job to allow me to go full time there. Is it a coincidence? Is it fate? I don’t know, but I made the decision to go “down” to full time. 

Leaving is going to be very hard. I have been at that work place for 2 years although I have had different roles in that time. I am stressed at the moment about the job, doing handovers, telling clients I am leaving. That is the worst. Almost enough to make me stay. 

But this time I said no. This time I put myself first, I put my health first. I am hoping this will help me manage better. Less hours and hopefully less stress can’t be a bad thing! I am also trying to be less busy generally and make more time for self care. More time for blogging too hopefully!

So take a leaf out of my book and do something for yourself. Look after yourself and your health! 

Love,

Ellie xxx

Stepping out of my comfort zone

Today my boyfriend had a day off, which is very unusual for a Saturday. We went for a walk this morning and then did a bit of shopping, went for dinner and then met up with his work friends. Let me first say, his friends are lovely and they always make me welcome. 

But I feel very anxious about being around lots of people, especially when I don’t know them very well. So we were going to a pub in central london on a Saturday evening, I knew it would be busy. 

Yesterday I said I might not go to the drinks in the evening. Today I decided I’d see how I felt and then decide. When we arrived at the drinks I said I would leave after about an hour. 

I actually stayed for over two hours. And I had a nice time. Yes I felt a bit anxious at first and I am bloody knackered from all the walking I’ve done today, but I enjoyed the evening and I’m glad I went. 

I guess the point of this post is to say I am trying to push my comfort zones. And it’s a good thing to do. I always put in my safety mechanisms, for example I took my car home before we went into london so that I could leave the drinks earlier than my boyfriend if I wanted to (I did and he’ll probably be out most of the night) and that helps with anxiety. I find if there’s no way out, that’s when I struggle. Like with the hike, I was more anxious because I knew that if I dropped out the whole group had to stop (minimum group numbers). It’s also important not to push yourself too hard (where is the line? You’ll have to judge that for yourself!) because sometimes you feel like you go backwards that way, but usually if you are taking small steps, a step out of your comfort zone is a step in the right direction. 

So go on, push your boundaries and do something that’s a bit difficult, you might surprise yourself! 

Love,

Ellie xx