• By Amanda Blackburn.

My mental health

Firstly before I begin with my mental health update I would like to say a big thank you to all my friends and family that have been so kind and understanding towards me. I’ve had some lovely positive messages from so many people. It definitely helps to know the world and people are kind when your suffering depression. When you are feeling low your mind is filled with negativity and darkness, it’s easy to think that everything is bad and people don’t care.

Since my last post, I’ve had three hourly counselling sessions to talk through my feelings. The counselling sessions are free and available through the NHS and called iapt (improving access to psychological therapies). I had to answer some questions that were sent in the post before I could have the sessions. I had to read out my answers over the phone before an appointment could be made to see a counsellor. I was a bit nervous about the phone call conversation. It’s not easy to talk about depression, it’s not easy to admit feeling desperate and in need of help. I still feel like a failure in myself for not being able to cope on my own.

My telephone conversation lasted half an hour, it wasn’t easy for me to do this, talking about such darkness is never pleasant but the lady on the phone was kind and reassuring. After the phone conversation, I was told that I would be contacted shortly for an appointment to meet with a counsellor. The lady on the phone said it might be a few weeks before an appointment comes through. Later that same day I had a phone call and an appointment was made for the following week. I don’t work Fridays so I managed to make my appointment on a Friday which was perfect.

The week flew by as it always does, I could feel my anxiety kicking in as the appointment was getting closer. I wanted to cancel it, I wanted to forget it all and pretend everything was ok and I didn’t need to go. I didn’t think it would help, I didn’t think I could talk to someone I didn’t know, and how could talking make it all go away? I was making myself so worked up, whilst fighting with myself to stop being stupid and pull myself together. I did what I always do and I thought of my family, not myself but my children. They need me to be strong and happy so I can do it for them. This is how I managed to get myself to my appointment.

My counsellor seemed really nice and Instantly felt comfortable with her. It was difficult, to begin with, she did most the talking, explaining what options were available to me and asking me some questions to get me started. Whilst I talked she just listened and after I’d finished she shared what I had said with me and we sort of discussed my feelings together. It was very helpful to talk about it all in this manner, it was like looking at something from the outside rather than being stuck inside dealing with it.

When the hour was finished I left feeling very strange. I felt absolutely exhausted and wasn’t in the best of moods. I had talked about some things that I’d pushed to the very back of my mind, some things that I’m still very angry about. I didn’t feel good that weekend, I cancelled plans again and didn’t do much. I still managed to hide my negativity from my children, this can be exhausting though.

The next week was busy as usual and I didn’t have time to think which was good. I was excited about the weekend as I was actually doing something for me. I was going to a family wedding with my mum, dad and sister, we hadn’t all been out together in ages, I knew we needed this. As the week went by my anxiety started to kick in. I hadn’t been sleeping well and the tablets were making me feel absolutely exhausted. I had another appointment with my doctor but it wasn’t until next week.

It was Friday my day off and the day of the wedding. I felt really sick for some reason but I managed to take myself to my Zumba class shake myself about for an hour and come back and get myself ready for the wedding. We weren’t leaving till 6 pm so I had plenty of time to do my normal Friday jobs and make myself look half decent. During that afternoon my stomach was playing up, churning over and over, without going into to much detail I had a very upset stomach and spent most the afternoon on the toilet. I’d never had loose stools from my anxiety before, I had friends that suffered IBS but I’d never had this problem before?

I was worried about going to the wedding because I don’t like going in cars much. I was in a car accident when I was 17 and haven’t ever really got over it. I was nearly killed and I didn’t tell anyone because I thought I would get into trouble. I skipped the afternoon off college to go off with a friend in his car. He was showing off and went too fast at the traffic lights, a truck in front of us had to stop very quickly because someone pulled in front of him. Because my friend had left at the lights far too fast he went straight into the back of the truck. We were in a mini and the back of the pickup truck went through the windscreen and stopped just at my nose level. I managed to get out of the car and I just walked, got the bus home and didn’t tell my family. My friend was in so much trouble he wrote off his car and we sort of fell out after and didn’t talk about it. I had a bad back for a few weeks after but I tried to forget about it. I avoided car journeys as much as possible after that. It took me to the age of 40 to learn to drive. I love driving and can do it absolutely fine but sometimes my anxiety gets in the way and I have days where I struggle. We were going on one of my least favourite motorways at rush hour and I was going to be swashed in the back of the car in the middle. It was about an hour drive away, I was feeling so anxious.

My anxiety escalated out of control with all sorts of negative thoughts. What if we crash? What would my children do without me? Why can’t I stop being silly? Why am I so stupid? I’m useless. It just got worse, I couldn’t get off the toilet, I wasn’t going. I rang my sister and explained, I was worried she’d be cross with me. We haven’t had the greatest relationship over the last five years, we haven’t been as close as we used to be. It’s not for any particular reason it’s just because we have become two different people with age and I suppose we have got to get used to the changes without letting it come between us. We are definitely getting there. Anyway, my sister was great and very understanding, she said she would ring our parents and explain so I didn’t have to. I went to bed shortly after but I didn’t sleep well as I felt so cross with myself for not going.

That weekend I had lots to do, I managed to push myself to get all the things I needed to get done. I tried to be positive about everything and put on smiles and pretend everything was ok. I was exhausted in the evenings and feel asleep easily but woke throughout the night a lot. This is how the week went by, I managed to keep on working throughout the week keeping busy as to keep my mind off as much negativity as possible. I was going to meet with my doctor again at the end of the week, I would discuss coming off the tablets as I felt they were no longer helping and probably making me feel worse. A couple of days before my appointment I decided to lower the dose of my medication to 10mg I felt so exhausted taking 20mg I couldn’t wait till my doctor's appointment.

My appointment went ok with my doctor she thought I seemed much more positive since my first meeting with her last November. I was worried I would be in trouble for lowering the dose of my medication before I’d talked with her. She thought I’d done the right thing and said she thought that the tablets were not working for me. She was pleased that I’d been having my counselling sessions and told me to continue. We talked about other things I could do to help myself and she suggested trying some other tablets. I was reluctant to try them and just wanted to try to wean myself off the ones I’d been taking for three months. I came away with a plan of lowering the tablets to every other day, then every third day, forth until stop. I also had the other tablets as a back up in case I felt I needed something.

The new tablets were put away in my cupboard, I decided not to read much about them. I didn’t want to take any tablets again, I wanted my counselling to be enough to help me. My mood improved and we managed to enjoy our Easter break together as a family. The wonderful weather helped and our weekend away over the bank holiday was so lovely.

My Friday counselling session came round so quickly again and I was quite happy and confident when I arrived at my appointment. We sat down and went over the score sheet I had been given to fill in. It was the same form that I’d been sent before with questions to answer. You have to tick the box that you think explains your feelings on certain questions. My scores hadn’t changed much from last time and I was asked why I felt that they hadn’t changed?

That session was a very emotional one, I talked about so many things I was worried about. All the horrifying hospital memories that I’d managed to shut away for a while had to be shared. Once I started talking I just didn’t stop, going over all the things that went wrong for my daughter in the hospital. How the shock of finding out my daughter had Crohn’s disease to the ghastly worst three years of my life. Seeing her in so much pain and trying so hard to keep strong and not lose the plot. We saw people and heard people die, things went very wrong I shared everything with this poor lady. For those of you who have read my posts about my daughters Crohn’s disease, you will understand how alarming it all was. My counsellor looked so upset like she was trying not to cry. It went so silent, I could hear my heart thumping fast and my mouth went so dry.

remember the exact words she said but it was enough to make me cry. I cried uncontrollably for about 5 minutes, I calmed myself down and she passed me a tissue. I tried to talk but my words wouldn’t come out very well because of crying. When I looked at my counsellor she had tears rolling down her cheeks, this made me cry again. The situation was really very awkward, I don’t like crying in front of people. We both somehow managed to make the awkward situation better by small talk until I was calmer. We continued the session but I listened more than talked. When the hour was over we arranged another session in two weeks but she gave me her work mobile number and told me to ring her if I needed a chat before.

I was determined to have a good weekend and tried to pull myself together after the session. I was so emotional I felt like I could cry some more. I was in bed very early that night but I slept really well. I enjoyed my weekend with my family and friends and felt much better. I was still having my moments but I wasn’t emotional anymore and didn’t feel the need to cry at everything. At last, I was feeling better, and without the medication, I hadn’t had the tablets in nearly two weeks.

Unfortunately, the feeling better didn’t last and I’ve not had a good week mentally. All my anxiety has come back and I’m feeling so low inside again. I don’t show it to other people and I certainly don’t let the children I child-mind know I’m down. I have just had another session with my counsellor and it went fine, no tears this time. We talked about other options of counselling and we both decided that CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) might help me manage my anxiety. We also decided this session was the last one with my counsellor as I had nothing else to get off my chest.

We also discussed the tablets I was given from my doctor. I had decided to give them a try. I had already looked them up online during my awful week, I was desperate to feel better, they sound more suited to me. The tablets treat anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). The reports from people online sounded good with fewer side effects so hopefully, they will help me until I learn how to deal with my condition. I’m still not happy and proud that I need to take them, but I’m pretty desperate right now.

If you have found a way to help you fight depression and anxiety please share in the comments below. This may also help someone that is also suffering from depression who is reading this. I’ve had people around me that have pushed me to talk and get help and advice, not everyone has this. Talking and sharing make others that are going through similar experiences feel less alone.


42 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All