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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

However,

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.

 

 

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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.

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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 fiancĂ© 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. 

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