When Clouds Descend
I’ll be honest, I haven’t written anything in weeks. Life has been hectic with moving house, my daughter’s birthday and working. In all the hullabaloo I failed to realise my prepayment certificate for my prescriptions had run out. Which meant I rapidly ran out of my anti-depressants. I tried to stretch them out, taking lower doses while I waited and waited for my new certificate to arrive. With the move, affording additional prescription charges was unthinkable and as I didn’t see it as a priority I just let it slide. Yeah, I know. Stupid. A small part of me felt that I was coping. I’ve been fighting back against depression for so long and managed it before without the aid of medication, I truly believed I would be fine.
I was wrong.
For a While…
For a while, I seemed ok. Realistically for a while my high dose of Sertraline was still happily coursing through me, doing it’s job. As the doses became lower, I did not even notice the subtle changes that started to creep in. I started to become tired more often, something I attributed to the stress of moving and work. Yet no matter how tired I felt, I couldn’t sleep properly. Waking often and for longer periods started to become nightly. When I did sleep, my dreams were becoming increasingly distressing and vivid. To the point that I was not just talking in my sleep, but physically responding to unseen attackers, kicking and thrashing with enough force that on one night Alex had to restrain my wrists in his hands.
I still wouldn’t admit that something was wrong. For someone who regularly encourages others to talk openly about their mental health, I was setting a very poor example. I wanted to put on that mask of every thing being fine. I have so much to be happy about. We’re in our new home and it’s everything I have ever wanted. My little girl finally has a room of her own that she has always deserved. My life is moving forwards with the man I love. Life is good. I was ashamed to admit that even with all this good in my life, I was still slipping back into the void.
But like I said, despite my active mental health advocacy and all the support I have, those darker thoughts were starting to creep in. This is why I wanted to talk about this. Depression is insidious. When it’s claws are deep rooted within your psyche, it’s like a weed. You think you have beaten it back,driven it out to the root, but it only takes a little seed and it will take that opportunity to grow once more.
I know because it grew again. The little hints that the monster in my head was rising again were just so subtle, even I was deluded that it was being kept at bay. I didn’t see it. All I could see was my worthlessness , my failures. My complete and utter inadequacy, to the point I began to convince myself that everyone who I care about would be better off without me.
“It’s OK, it’ll Be OK”
There is no moment more horrifying than when you find yourself in the car pulling yourself out of suicidal thoughts and realising what pulled you out is your 4 year old saying ‘it’s OK Mummy, it’ll be OK. ‘ I was sickened, yet the thoughts were still swirling. That awful voice in my head was trying to convince me to leave my daughter with a relative under some pretext and just take myself away. Funny though, just that thought arising made me start fighting back.
I tried to call my mum, just to get someone on the phone to stop those thoughts in their tracks. She wasn’t in. The thoughts started to scream at me how alone I was…No one cared. I still don’t know how I managed to leave a voice note for Alex, but I did. What he heard scared him sufficiently to call back immediately . I couldn’t talk. But my little one held the phone and talked to him, she told him we were coming home. That little voice, the one I know I could never hurt assuredly told the man I loved that she and I were going home. So we did.
A complete an utter mess.
Afraid Of The Monster in Me
It’s been a long time since I was last that afraid of myself. That complete feeling of not trusting myself. What it proved to me is I’m not quite ready to come off my meds yet, that I need to do more work on myself first before that day can come. Now I know that there are some who argue that meds are the new villain in mental health care, too easily dished out in a quick fix solution because the waiting lists and demand on counselling is huge.
This is true. The NHS is struggling with the demand and far too many people are slipping through the cracks. It shouldn’t be the case that meds are being handed out like candy because the system is so over burdened that monitoring of those with mental health conditions is near non existent.
It shouldn’t be this way. But the reality is that it is. I get very little to no monitoring from my GP, counselling is one session a month at best. The intervening gaps between appointments and reviews is huge and entirely reliant on me pushing for them. There is just no money available for on going care for those with mental health issues. And it’s a story we hear again and again.
Too many people who are told by their doctor that if their symptoms worsen to come back in and book an appointment, too many times health care professionals cite that victims of suicide had ‘protective factors‘ but no review was undertaken. If you have cancer, you have follow up appointments, check ups, scans. If you have a heart condition, a specialist monitors you with ECG’s, blood pressure checks and you will even be referred to a dietitian to help improve your health through change of eating if required.
But as I have found time and time again with depression and other mental illnesses, despite how fatal these illnesses can be if left unchecked, there is little to no follow up or after care. If you have to cancel an appointment too many times with your counsellor (twice as a rule, and that’s not a case of not just turning up, I mean cancelling even with valid reasons) you will be bounced back to your GP.
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
Would my recent spiral have been spotted with more regular contact with a counsellor of doctor? The honest answer is I don’t know, but I really feel that it would have been at least identified that I was struggling with a lot of different factors and there was an issue with having my medication available. I was lucky. My protective factor of my daughter was there, but that’s a ridiculous burden to place on a child. I’m now putting myself back together again, but it’s incredibly hard and puts a lot of pressure on those around me. No one should have to hear the one they love sobbing into the phone to Samaritans that they are fighting just to stay alive, that they afraid to be alone for fear of what they will do.
Yes, I as the patient have a responsibility to report changes, but how can I when just getting an appointment with my GP is near impossible . And like I said, depression is insidious. It crept out on me again from those dark corners and I didn’t even see it coming even with all my expereince and knowledge.
The way mental health is monitored and cared for needs to change. In the mean time we need to keep on looking at those we care about. If we see little changes, say something. If you suspect an issue is going to be a trigger for you as a sufferer, say something to someone. We need to try and keep talking because when we clam up, the voice in your head can be a devious and cruel monster. We can’t let it win. So let’s keep fighting back.
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