Dear Cath 2014

Dear Cath

This is you from 2015, and I just wanted to write to you to tell you a few things. 

Firstly, you make it to the end of November 2015 (otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this letter). I know right now you probably can’t believe that. I know that you can’t imagine making it to the end of week, sometimes not even until the end of the day, but you do. You make it another year! You are stronger than you think. You really, really are!

Secondly, things do get better! Things won’t always feel as painful as they do right now. I’m not going to pretend that everything is always great, or that you get miraculously cured from the dark depression you are in now, but it gets better. I no longer dread waking up every day. You will start enjoying the time you spend with LO, rather than counting down the minutes until you can give her to her Dad. And she is AMAZING (but you already know that) and despite what you think she loves you and doesn’t want you to stop fighting. She has not replaced you with ex’s new girlfriend. She needs you, her Mum. Please, please try and remember that and don’t let the Black Dog poison your mind with the thoughts that you are the worst mum ever as you are doing the best you can, and things will start to feel easier.

I’m also not going to pretend the next year will be easy. It isn’t! But take it a day at a time and before you know it you’ll have got through a year. Please let people support you. Shutting people out is the worst thing you can do. 

The next year will be full of a lot of changes, and you will make some of the toughest decisions of your life. I’m not going to tell you about them as I know you will worry, but let me reassure you that the most important change will be that you will start to get some of the support you need for your mental health. The thing that will change your life most is the peer support from the people you meet at the local mental health charity. They are amazing! You will feel less alone, you will feel understood, you will feel finally feel like you have met ‘your people’. They will help get you through the tough times. I really can’t wait for you to meet them! 

I want to tell you not to think some of the things you are thinking, not to do some of the things that you are doing, but in the end I guess those things end up being what makes me the person I am now. And I’m here! 

Today, I am still living with depression and anxiety, but I also feel like I have a future. I don’t know what that future will hold, but just feeling that way is progress, it’s a step forward. So hang on in there, as I’m proof that it won’t always be as black as it feels now.

Please try and take care of yourself,

Love Cath xxx


Goodbye @DepressedNotSad, Hello @ProjectCath

When I set up my Twitter account nearly 18 months ago being depressed was all consuming and I felt I had no way of expressing how I was feeling. It felt like I was trying to spin lots of plates and they were all teetering on the edge of falling and smashing. I was trying to hold down a reasonably stressful job, dealing with a recent marriage break-up, trying to pay the bills (including the mortgage) alone and often with a reduced income (as I was needing to take sick leave fairly often), as well as looking after my daughter, all whilst being  severely depressed, suffering with anxiety and having what I now recognise as PTSD symptoms which was causing nightmares, disrupted sleep and intrusive thoughts. I was overwhemed with life. I knew I couldn’t keep living that way, but the only way I could see a way out was suicide, and the thoughts occupied my brain every day. I felt I couldn’t fully open up to my friends, as whilst some had been fairly supportive through my marriage break-up, I felt they were losing patience, and I felt like I was losing my mind. I felt like I was constantly having to justify that I was ill (depressed) not just sad.

Twitter, and later my blog, felt like an outlet. I was anonymous so felt I could be entirely honest  and I stumbled upon a whole community of people who understood that I couldn’t just “pull myself together”, and weren’t frightened by my low moods. They didn’t know me, or my ex-husband, friends, family or co-workers, so when I needed to moan and cry they supported me and it felt there was no judgement.

But 18 months later, things are different. Eventually all those plates did come crashing down…I lost my job, I had to move house, and sadly I also made an attempt to end my life, but I’m still here, and unlike 6 or 7 months ago when I couldn’t see past the end of the day, or the week, never mind see any further into the future, now I’m slowly picking up the pieces of my life.

My mental health has improved. I still have depression, anxiety and PTSD, but I am no longer suicidal. I have a CPN (care coordinator), a support worker who is helping me with money and housing issues, another support worker who is helping me into volunteering as a stepping stone back into work. I am on the waiting list (and due to have a preliminary assessment next week) at a Rape and Sexual Abuse support service to try and deal with some of the issues from my past. I also seem to have found a meds combo that has ‘taken the edge off’ and allows me to function in the day, whilst also allowing me to get a decent nights sleep at night. I’ve found out which friends were supportive through my mental health crisis and are now with me for the long haul (as well as which walked away or weren’t supportive), but I also gained some amazing friends from the online community, some of whom are now “real life” friends too.

I feel in a totally different place to a year ago, and my depression, is no longer my whole life. I don’t want to be defined my illness any more when I am working towards recovery.

So it’s time to say goodbye to @DepressedNotSad


I don’t want to say goodbye to the Twitter community, or to the people who have supported me. I still want to talk about my Mental Health, but I also want to talk about my journey of recovery. My depression and the life events of the last 2 years robbed me of everything that I used to define myself by. I can no longer define myself as a [insert previous job title]. I can no longer define myself as a wife. I no longer have the family life I thought I would. So my recovery journey will be about rediscovering what I enjoy and what makes me happy. It will be about re-discovering where my prioritoes in life lie. It will be about living more mindfully and looking after myself better. It will be about finding out who I am.

So say hello to @ProjectCath

I will continue to blog here, as it helps record my journey, but it will no longer be just about depression, it will be about recovery and finding myself. I hope you will join me for the ride.




It’s ok to cry

I cry. A lot. 

When I am “well” I cry at films, when reading books, when I am proud of my daughter, when I am happy, and when I am sad. 

When I am depressed I cry at all the above, but I also cry ramdomly in the aisles in Tesco (or any other supermarket I happen to be in), I cry in the car, I cry when I walk, I cry when I cook, I cry at texts and I cry at Twitter. I also cry at everyone. I cry at my doctor, at my psychiatrist, at counsellors, I cry at my friends,  and I even I cry at my daughter. I feel like I cry all the time.

I’ve noticed that when I cry I apologise. Why? It’s a normal way to express emotion. I don’t believe in the stiff upper lip, because that usually means emotions aren’t being expressed, and that’s when they fester and build and eat you up from the inside. That’s when they get dangerous.

Crying shows pain and it helps release the hurt. I wouldn’t hide my pain if I had broken my leg. So, from now on I’m not going to apologise for crying. I won’t feel ashamed of expressing my feelings that way any more than I would of laughing. And I hope by accepting it as an emotion like any other that I won’t dwell on it any more than the other emotions I express. 

It’s ok to cry.


The Long Game

TW: this post makes reference to suicide. Please take care of yourself and only read ahead if it is safe for your to do so.

Do you believe in fate? Or that things happen for a reason? Or that people get what they deserve?……..I used to.

I used to believe that the reason I met my (now ex-) husband was because I re-sat a year of my A-levels (because I hated the college I was at, so changed) and that I didn’t get the A-level grades I needed to go to my first choice university and ended up in clearing. That I met him the day after I got engaged to my former fiancé as though fate was telling me it would have been an unhappy marriage. That the fact we were born in neighbouring towns in Wales was because it was fate we should meet at some point in our lives. I wanted to believe it was meant to be. 

I used to believe that the reason I got my last job-my dream job- was because i had a breakdown. To cut a long story short, if I hadn’t reduced my hours in a previous job due to my mental health, I wouldn’t have applied for a paid role for the charity I was volunteering with, (as the role would have meant too large a pay cut from the full time wage, but seemed more manageable from my part time wage). And that when my manager went AWOL shortly after starting, meaning I had to learn on my feet, and quickly, that I wouldn’t have gained the relevant experience to apply for promotion into my dream role a year later. That I deserved it. I wanted to believe it was like a pay back for the shit I dealt with through my life. That perhaps it was karma and I was finally getting what I deserved for going through my suffering.

But both those things have gone. Lost in the last two years-the two most difficult years of my life.

Is that fate too? Is that what I deserve? 

7 months ago when I took an overdose I thought it was. I believed I wasn’t good enough for anybody. Not good enough at anything. That I didn’t deserve happiness. That I didn’t deserve life. That my life would always be shit so what was the point of carrying on. I believed that my friends and family were sick of me. That my daughter deserved better. 

Then at the last minute I realised that perhaps if I killed myself my daughter would end up with childhood trauma like me….not the same kind of trauma…but still trauma. That then I was likely to cause a lifetime of mental health issues for her too. So I called an ambulance. 

But I still didn’t want to live. I felt guilty. I didn’t feel I deserved life as I tried to throw it away.

Today I see things differently.

Today I don’t believe in fate, or that things are meant to be, or that people get what they deserve.

Shit happens to good people. Luck happens to shit people.

I still may not feel I deserve good things, but y’know what, I don’t deserve the bad things either.

But what I have learnt, is that the things that have happened in my life, good and bad, have made me what I am. I’ve lost people, gained people, changed my ambitions, got jobs, lost jobs, achieved things I never thought I would, and not achieved things I imagined. All these things have shaped me. 

Right now, while I’m still picking up the pieces of my life, it’s hard not to feel I don’t (or do) deserve what has happened. But what I do know is that for the first time in a long time, I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I can see a future. I don’t know what that future holds, and for the first time in my life I’m not even sure what I want it to hold (which, by the way, scares the crap out of me), but I believe that my experiences will have changed me. I just need to use those experiences positively. To build from them, to re-focus my priorities and to shape my future little-by-little, one step at a time.

The last 2 years have changed me. Have made me what I am, but will also make me what I become.

I can’t look at a seemingly shattered life and give up, I have to believe I’m in it for the long game. And I have hope that the long game includes happiness. 



I read an article this morning about a teacher who asked her class to complete the sentence #IWishMyTeacherKnew. Some of the replies were powerful and heartbreaking. The article is here http://ind.pn/1b4wkvb. It got me thinking about what I would have written when I was I child, and what I would write now. As I don’t have a teacher I came up with #IWishMyFriendsKnew…

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I wear a “mask” a lot of the time.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I’m scared if they really knew me they wouldn’t want to be my friend.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I’m lonely.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I feel broken.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I feel like a failure at life, especially since I lost my job.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I’m scared I’ll never be able to work again. 

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I believe my mental health will fuck up the life of my daughter.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I was sexually abused by my brother for 10 years and that I still suffer from trauma.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that the abuse I suffered means I don’t trust easily, so if you are my friend that means a huge amount to me.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I can’t tell them about my abuse as I’m scared they will judge me.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I can’t tell them about my abuse as I’m scared they won’t believe me.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I can’t tell them about my abuse as I’m scared they will leave me.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I can’t tell them about my abuse as they will want me to report it.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I can’t tell them about my abuse as they won’t understand why I won’t report it. 

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I can’t tell them about my abuse as I think they will think I was complicit-especially as my abuser was younger than me.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that my CPN wants me to contact a charity who provide counselling and support for victims of sexual abuse but I’m too scared to call them.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I’m scared that if I have counselling I will open Pandora’s box and will never recover from it.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that whilst I look like I have a good relationship with my parents I actually feel very betrayed by them because despite knowing about my abuse they still have my brother in their lives.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I’m not sure my parents believe I was abused.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I am scared I am a bad mother and that my daughter will grow up into a “not nice” human being and that it will be all my fault.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that every time my daughter has a tantrum I get triggered into believing she will turn out like my brother.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I’m scared that when my ex moves in with his girlfriend (and it’s only a matter of time) that my daughter won’t want to live with me anymore and that she will love her step-mum more than me.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I worry every day that my daughter doesn’t love me.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I can seem functional even when very unwell as I have hidden my inner pain for my whole life.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I believe I am unloveable.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I believe I will be alone for the rest of my life.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I am disgusted with what I see when I look in the mirror.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I attempted suicide in December and really wanted to die.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I can’t see a future.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I don’t believe I will reach old age.

#IWishMyFriendsKnew…that I’m scared of them finding and reading my Twitter account because then they will know the truth about me.


Self Portrait of Depression

Today I decided to do some drawing. Apart from the doodles that I do while I’m on long phone calls or in the margins of notebooks, I haven’t drawn properly since I was in art lessons at school aged about 14. I am NOT an artist! But I ended up with a self-portrait depicting my depression. Somehow it has felt therapeutic to get all the feelings in my head out on paper-I guess that’s why people do art therapy.

I feel a little exposed to share it here (like I said, I’m far from being an artist), but I know seeing other people’s art-whether it is drawing, writing or poetry has made me feel less alone- so maybe this will help someone too. 




I’ve lost my job to Mental Health

I can’t share a huge amount on here about my  job due to confidentiality and anonymity. However tomorrow I will officially lose my job because of my mental health. Whilst I know it is the best thing for both them and for me, I’m gutted. So much of my self worth was tied to working, and knowing I won’t be returning to a job I used to love is hard to accept. I feel like I’ve failed myself and my daughter. On the other hand I know that it allows me to fully concentrate on “getting well” as opposed to just fit for work. I know that it will be one less thing to be stressed about. I also know it will give me a fresh start when I am finally ready to go back to work. 

However, I can’t pretend that finally signing away my job won’t be one of the most painful things I’ve ever done. I will mourn the loss in much the same way as I have mourned the loss of my former relationship-I will cry, get upset, get cross, feel hurt, and (hopefully) finally accept it and move on. I just have to hope that eventually it will work out for the best.



Questions and Answers TW: Sexual abuse

TW: the content of this blog contains references to childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault. Whilst I am not specific about the abuse please take care about reading this post if you feel it may be triggering.

I saw a psychiatrist yesterday and as usual when seeing someone new they ask you to talk about everything-your childhood, history, triggers, recent stressors, medication….you name it, it gets discussed. This is distressing and often triggering, but I guess a necessary evil when putting together a care plan. However there are some questions and answers I find particularly hard to deal with.
I don’t find it easy to discuss anything about the sexual abuse I suffered. It’s like my voice disappears. However I find it more distressing when my replies raise eyebrows, which is what happened yesterday.
My sexual abuse went on for a period of around 10 years from the age of around 10. Yes, that means my final assault happened when I was 20. Yes, that means I was an adult. My “attacks” happened as I slept. I couldn’t have stopped them. But even if I hadn’t been sleeping sexual assault is never the victims fault. Therefore raised eyebrows from a psychiatrist, and asking for clarification that I was 20 when the abuse stopped is not helpful. Another raised eyebrow and an “Oh!” is also unhelpful when I tell you that my abuser was younger than me.
Lastly, when I say that I have not reported my abuser to the police or any other authorities, please don’t point out that I should consider that other people, other children, may be “at risk” from him. Do you not think I have considered that? Do you not think that perhaps it is something that I think about almost every day? Do you not think that it adds to my guilt? But have you also considered that I don’t feel strong enough? That I don’t believe I will ever be strong enough? Do you not think I’ve read about the types of questions that the police put to “victims”? That courts put to victims? That I’ve not read about all those failed convictions? And that I have made a decision that to protect myself and my daughter is the only thing that matters and that if that means not reporting it then that is how it will be?

Perhaps my situation is unusual, but I doubt it is unique.

I was a victim of abuse. I already feel enough shame, and guilt about that without people judging me!


Where Have I Gone?

I can’t seem to get my thoughts in order to write a blog, so instead I’m going to share a poem…

A Poem Just For Me

Where am I now when I need me
Suddenly where have I gone?
I’m so alone here without me
Tell me please what have I done?

Once I did most things together
I went for walks hand in hand
I shared my life so completely
I met my every demand

Tell me I’ll come back tomorrow
I’ll keep my arms open wide
Tell me that I’ll never leave me
My place is here at my side

Maybe I’ve simply mislaid me
Like an umbrella or key
So until the day that I come my way
Here is a poem just for me

Roger McGough


My mood

The last few weeks have seen a significant drop in mood for me. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think there have been a few things that have contributed to it….

Firstly work. I am on a secondment, due mainly to my mental health. It was supposed to be a 6 month placement as a Project Manager which was due to come to an end at the end of the month. That means there has been pressure to complete work, and deadlines. Usually this would motivate me….but not this time! This time, it has made me want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world. Pressure hasn’t increased my motivation and output like it usually would, if anything it has had the opposite effect! It hasn’t been helped that there have been delays from other departments, but usually I would be shouting and stamping my feet to get them to meet deadlines….more metaphorically than literally….but I just haven’t had the energy! Luckily my manager has been understanding and she is recommending an extension to the project to give me until the end of the year to complete things. I am pleased, but I know that I will need to step up my work output, and I’m worried I can’t. I feel my productivity levels just aren’t what I feel they should be. I usually pride myself on both my quality and quantity of work, and I feel like I’m doing neither. I know this is because of the depression- I struggle to concentrate and focus, I struggle to motivate, my energy levels are low. Knowing these issues all come from the symptoms of being ill doesn’t make it easier, it just makes me feel defective, and adds to my feelings of self-loathing! I have a lot of issues with self stigma! Work has always been an important part of my life. Having a career has always been important to me, and the job I work in now is what I believed would be my dream job, so I want to be good at it and prove myself. Work has felt particularly important this year as it’s been one of the few constants for me when it has felt like the rest of my life has been turned upside down. This year I have had to deal with a marriage break-up, my mum’s cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as my own mental health issues. Work gives me stability, it means I can pay bills and put a roof over my daughter’s head. It also gives me routine and structure to my day. I don’t know how I would cope without it, and I hate the idea of being “bad” at it. I’m also worried about my return to my “usual” job. It’s a relatively stressful job and I don’t feel I have the resilience for it, and I worry I won’t have it by the new year either! I was so sure when I took the secondment that my “recovery” would be further along by the time I returned to my usual role. I know that all I can do is keep communicating with my manager, HR contact and occupational health doctor who have all been relatively supportive until now, but it doesn’t stop me worrying and getting stressed about the future. I worry about loss of income if I go on sick leave, or worse if I lost my job due to my health. So, whilst I know I should probably be more self-compassionate it’s hard when it is something that means so much!

Secondly my daughter’s 4th birthday. I know this shouldn’t have been too stressful as I had been picking up bits and pieces for months, as well as making a “birthday list” every time the little one mentioned something she wanted, BUT it was stressful! Because it meant more communication with the ex, and right now I can’t bare to talk to him or be anywhere near him. I guess “hate” is probably part of the grieving process of the relationship, but it’s emotionally hard work. His words and actions often stress me out as he is not very organised and never has any sense of urgency about anything, but sometimes I can recognise that I am being irrational. I think I am possibly even imagining criticism when he has done nothing except perhaps make a passing comment. Before her birthday the idea of spending most of the weekend with him had me in tears, luckily the reality wasn’t quite as bad as I imagined but it was still a very emotionally draining time. It was the first big occasion since we split that we have had to spend significant amounts of time together for the sake of our daughter, as well as having our friends and families together in the same place at the same time. Whilst it could have been much worse, it has now made me dread the idea of Christmas! 😦

Thirdly, anniversaries. It was this time last year that the ex first told me he wasn’t sure how he felt about me anymore. Whilst the split was drawn out until this February (due to his inability to grow some balls and decide it was over), it was the start of an exceptionally difficult time. My mental health deteriorated massively while I was trying to save my marriage, and so this time of year marks a year since my breakdown and going on sick leave. It also marks a year since my mum got diagnosed with both aggressive and indolent non-hodgkins lymphoma. This was a massive shock as although she had a lump for some time (years!) the doctors had always told us that it was benign. It was only when my mum pushed for removal (long story!) that they discovered not just one, but 2 types of cancer cells. Luckily, my mum has now has some aggressive chemotherapy and is receiving anti-body therapy, so the cancer can be considered in remission, but obviously this time last year we did not know what the outcome would be. There is no good time to hear a close family member has cancer,but I can safely say that finding out at the same time as learning my marriage might be over may possibly have been the worst possible timing! Whilst I am not consciously thinking of these anniversaries, I think dates and events are a reminder and I know they have been affecting my mood.

Fourthly, I still have some big life decisions to make in terms of my divorce, for example where I will live and what we are going to do with the house. I change my mind every day about what I think will be best for both me and my daughter. Part of me feels like I should stay in my current house, but this was my marital home and has lots of memories, yet it is the only house my daughter has known and I would like her to have some stability. It was a house we bought with the intention of “doing up” and lots of life events have got in the way, meaning 10 years on the house still needs lots doing to it, but do I want to do it on my own? Also do I want to be responsible for the entire mortgage? However, selling up and moving is not an easy option either as it is unlikely to be much (if any) equity in the house, and the idea of packing and moving while I am still struggling with my mental health does not appeal either. Also I have no idea how I am going to pay to divorce my ex. We have no savings and he is crap with money so I whilst I think it is only fair to split the cost in half he has said he “can’t afford it”. I desperately want and need to draw a line under that part of my life, but it’s not as easy as it seems.

So, it seem to have a lot on my mind recently, but most of these things are not new stresses but ongoing things, so why the slump in mood? Maybe it’s because I haven’t been doing much selfcare? I know in trying to concentrate on work I’ve dropped doing things that made me feel better, so (until today) haven’t been to the gym in a month, I gave up long, hot soaks in the bath , replacing it with an extra hour of work in the evening, I stopped eating so healthily and instead grabbed snacks and convenience food to “save time”. Except actually much of the time I “saved” doing these things didn’t turn into productive time, but were instead spent looking at my computer with a panicked expression not knowing what to prioritise first! I have effectively proved why self care is important, because taking regular breaks clears my head and gives me back my motivation, the gym gives me energy, good food stops the sugar highs and crashes. And the thing I gave up which I have probably missed the most? #3goodthings! I didn’t consciously stop it…I think sometimes it slipped my mind (as I was running around like a headless chicken), and sometimes I couldn’t think of anything (as all my selfcare that usually makes the list wasn’t happening), and then I think I got out of the habit. But the time it works the best is when things are tough, because it reminds you there are still some good things in your life. Instead I have spent the last month moping about and forgetting what I love and what is important.

So, I have a plan!

I am already in the process of changing my anti-depressants. I’m hoping that it will help. This will be my 4th type of anti-depressant that I have taken this year, and until I saw my GP last week I had given up hope of my meds helping my mood at all. The things that have worked for me most up until now have been the counselling and coaching, neither of which are quick fixes (not if course that meds are either). I just don’t want to feel like every day is such a battle to “Keep Swimming”. But I guess the one good thing that came from a slump in mood was that my GP took one look at me at my appointment last week and told me she didn’t think I looked well (I think the sleeplessness and anxiety had taken a physical toll). She was a doctor I hadn’t seen regarding my MH before (my usual GP is on sick leave), so she took my history from the beginning, looked at my notes, and decided a new anti-d is the best option (and has promised a psych referral if this doesn’t work). She is reviewing me regularly, she was easy to talk to (so I was able to be honest about suicidal ideation etc) and I think I have finally found a GP who is taking me seriously. Of course, only time will tell but in my opinion this is a great first step!

I plan to do more selfcare, as I’m sure it can only help. That means *making* the time! I need to go to the gym 2-3 times a week. I need to make sure I have time to cook, so I eat more healthily. I need to make time for friends, take breaks in work, and NOT work in the evenings when my little one is in bed! It is a bad habit (as I work mainly from home) and it is rarely productive! I just need to look after myself better! Luckily choir has re-started after the summer break, and the singing is always a benefit to my mental health as I only miss it when I have to work, and I try to avoid that when I can, so at least I know that once a week I will be taking care of myself!

Lastly, and from today, I am restarting #3goodthings. I clearly need reminding of the good things in my life (as I seem to easily forget), and it reminds me to look after myself!

I’m hoping all these things may help my mood! They may not take away my problems, but perhaps they will help me cope with them better?!