Day 4 – avoiding a crisis

I woke at 4am this morning. It had taken me a little while to get to sleep but it helped to listen to relaxing music.

I went to the bathroom and when I came out Wildcard was there. He followed me into the bedroom and repeatedly asked if I was OK. I told him I had just woken but I was fine.

We both returned to our beds and within minutes he had messaged me.

He asked again if I was OK, seriously? I was touched by his concern.

The thing was, there is something. I have a long standing issue with my eyes – I get the Coldsore virus on my lids. It flares up from time to time, usually when I am tired, stressed or run down. So you can guess what happened when I woke at 4am. I knew it was coming.

The medicines I take for this are only given when I have a flare. I had a few tablets left over from last time – naughty I know – as if I take them as soon as the symptoms start I can sometimes stop it from developing. Waiting for a hospital appointment delays that.

When I left my home, I had started with the coldsore virus in my nose. I started the tablets and within a day it had healed. I took the last tablet yesterday, just in case.

Wildcard was worried I would get ill. So at 4am, he probably sensed my nerves rather than my eye as it has not yet developed. Again this morning, with our morning kisses, he asked if I was OK and made me promise I would tell him if I was not. I mentioned my eye and he asked if I had brought medicine, as agreed. I said I had.

He went off to work with a kiss, commenting that I could unpack my clothes in his wardrobe – again, another gorgeous sign that I am family.

Immediately after he left, his mother came in to ask if I was OK. I told her about my eye, and showed her my medicine on my phone which was available to buy in their country. She suggested we go to the pharmacy which conveniently is downstairs from their apartment – I had planned at 4.30am to sneak there myself – I could tell that she, and later his dad was worried.

The pharmacist was relaxed and spoke some English, and I was able to show my empty packet and the name of the medicine in his language. It is ordered and will arrive at 2.30pm. Within a few days, my eye should be fine.

I have travel insurance and could go through them, but this is easier. Apart from when Wildcard finds out.

If we are to continue in this relationship in whatever form, then I will come to stay and at some point I will be sick. It worries me less than it worries him. Hopefully he will worry a little less when he sees this is sorted now.

Sod’s Law

I kid you not… Last night I started with a new flare-up. What are the odds of that?

Actually, quite high as my condition is brought on by stress. Friday’s absence meeting was stressful and I’ve thought of little else.

Or may be it is the laws of attraction at work – I’ve worried about a flare-up all weekend so now I have one.

Luckily (if you choose to think about it this way) I still have some ointment from my last flare-up and started it straight away. I should get to the hospital tomorrow but I’m not going to. One, I can’t afford the absence. Two, if the consultant finds out I’ve had a second flare-up within a month I can see another sick note at the very least. No, hopefully I’ve caught it early enough and I can avoid going. If it does get more serious, well, work will see it and I will have no choice.

But, I’m meant to be positive from now on.

So, I’ve started a new three week weight loss plan on Lifesum today. I’ve ordered shopping and have checked the meals are appropriate for my work schedule. I’ve also logged into Holland and Barrett and am trying their trial ‘Healthbox’. I have taken questionnaires based on my current health needs and they have suggested supplements to help. I have received a month’s supply half price and with free delivery – I will try it for a month and will review. I’ve booked in a long walk next Sunday with my friend and am in the process of planning more exercise opportunities this week.

I can do this.

Morning light

The sky was crystal clear last night: dense, blue, endless. As I gazed up at its depths, stars seemed to appear one by one. The world was a blanket of blues and black, the awakening sun just beginning to turn the horizon into a golden pale azure, striking against the houses and trees in silhouette. In front of me, light spilled out of the open curtains and in the garden; corrupting the dark, yet, showing the life hidden by its blackness.

How strange that a scene, a moment, like that can feel like a gift. As I breathed in deeply, a calmness started to descend. Perhaps it was numbness, exhaustion. But at that moment, the beauty of the world at 5am on a Spring morning helped me cope, calm.

A short time later, as I watched the ambulance slowly pull away from my house until it disappeared round the bend in the road, the same scene was aglow with sunlight. The orchestra of birdsong filled the air and my heart, reminding me of the beauty of life. At that moment, it was hard not to feel small and hopeless.

If my heart wasn’t breaking, this past week would be farcical.

Dad was discharged a week ago from the respiratory ward. We had been told that his Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) had advanced but that they had managed to stabilise him sufficiently for discharge. He still looked ill to us but we were ecstatic that he was actually coming home – something we hadn’t be able to hope for a week earlier.

By 4am on Saturday morning we had called an ambulance as Dad had chest pains.

Dad returned to the respiratory ward where we were told a succession of different information… “it could be a heart attack or angina… He may need to be transfered…. It’s not his heart it’s his lungs….” Fear rippled through us as we watched him seemingly black-out only to come to moments later, oblivious to what had happened.

Once again, Dad stabilised and he was sent home again on Monday. This time, although tired, he looked brighter. We dared to hope again. But 2am on Tuesday we called an ambulance again. Dad was distressed, grunting with the pain in his chest. They gave him morphine and he went back to hospital in the ambulance.

This time he went on the cardiac ward. After x rays, scans and multiple blood tests they confirmed that he had had a small heart attack. We were told that the scarring was minimal but that Dad would not be able to have a bypass or surgery as his condition was too poor. For the second time he was stabilised, the pharmacy bag groaning with the boxes of tablets and inhalers he came home with.

Thursday he was home again. He looked the best he had in probably a month. Wobbly on his feet, Dad insisted in getting up once in a while. Putting aside the knowledge that we’d been told that Dad could leave us at any time, that we would have months if we were lucky, we focused on enjoying every precious moment that his survival gave us: a gift.

Thursday night Dad slept through for the first time in weeks. He ate his meals, and spent a little time outside to enjoy the Spring sunshine that had finally arrived. But he was anxious, fearful that he wouldn’t sleep or that he would feel pain again.

Last night, Friday night, Dad’s second night home, he once again woke with chest pains. We administered the new angina spray in the hope that this would end his pain. After giving the second dose as instructed, Dad reported his pain had eased but not gone. Hopeful but still concerned, we called the out of hours GP number. Was this normal? How long did you wait for the spray to work? We had been told so little. Cautious of his recent heart attack, they decided to send the ambulance anyway, just to be sure. It was a longer wait this time, not an emergency as such due to the relative success of the angina spray, and that’s how I found myself outside staring out in the dark and waiting for the artificial glow of the ambulance lights.

Slow snow

It’s snowing!

Somehow, my area has pretty much missed the snow so far this winter. Further north, the Lake District and Cumbria have been hit a number of times, as has the South. But despite a few minor flurries, we have been snowless.

Snow is a big deal round here. Of course there is the excitement of snowball fights and snowmen and the possibility of a snow day. Then there is the worry and concern of the state of the roads. Britain panics when it snows, even with modern technology and knowledge. Bizarre.

It struck me as I sat here, that those initial and overriding feelings of excitement and/or panic mean that you miss the absolute true beauty and tranquility of snow. I’m watching those little flakes swirl and dance as they fall and it is so beautiful.

(It seems to be falling quite fast but the flakes are really small. It’s like snow in a snow globe. I love the massive flakes that fall too: soft, memorising fluff.)

I realised that is this not often the way of life? That you become overwhelmed by your initial thoughts and feelings to the detriment of feelings pondered on later? Fear and worry take over, dominating sense and calm. It’s easy to say from my position of course, sat snuggly on my couch with the benefit of a slower pace of life courtesy of a breakdown and a sicknote. I’m sure if I was at work I would be feeling differently.

Speaking of which, I’ve had a week of good days! This has been my longest period of positivity and has to be a good sign. 😊 I’ve been productive too and am steadily working through the list of things I want to achieve before I return.

Yesterday I made myself go shopping but further afield than usual. Going out of the house is still an issue so travelling further was a goal. It wasn’t too bad in the end.

So, whatever you are doing today, take time to stop and think. Acknowledge your initial and dominating feelings, but give yourself time to consider the feelings under the surface. I actually think these are the most important.

Indeterminate

Have you ever had one of those itches? You know the ones I mean, the ones that seem to move. Perhaps you ask a loved one to scratch it for you…

“Up a bit… No, left, no… Right a bit. Ugh it doesn’t matter.”

Its wily. It skirts on the edge of knowing, taunting you… frustrating you.

I have this feeling (not an itch, stick with me) that I can’t describe. My mind tests various possibilities , trying desperately to name what it is. To understand it, soothe it.

It isn’t the now-familiar pang or ache of anxiety. But it is equally unsoothable, unscratchable,

And, naturally, because I haven’t found the answer, I’m going to struggle to explain it. But I will try to describe it.

It feels a bit like a longing or a need but for something I don’t know or haven’t heard of. It’s one moment the feeling you get just before you cry; the next, a hint of anticipation for something neither good nor bad: a sudden memory that something is happening. It’s being on edge because of that: a need to move or do something. It’s bordering on a craving.

I’ve had this feeling a few times over the past week. It’s dizzying, like being on a pendulum. Should I take a beta blocker? Have a glass of wine or some food? Water? A bath? Clean the fridge? Find someone to cuddle or have sex with?

It’s unnamed and unknown. And it passes as it arrives: unexpectedly.

Any ideas? (or am I completely losing it! 😊)

Another month

So, I’m still mental. The doctor has given me another month off. I’ve been on Sertraline for approximately three weeks now and it will take 4-6 weeks for them to take full effect.

I’ve had some glimpses of me in the last couple of weeks. It feels like slipping on an old, favourite coat. It’s comfortable, reassuring, fits well. But I can’t keep it on all the time, unfortunately. I’m still having low days and I’m still getting anxiety. So despite my frustration over another month, the doctor is probably right. He said one day in the future I will look back and this will have just been a blip in my life, easily forgotten. Let’s hope so. That’s what I intend this to be. I’m giving my mind permission to heal at its own pace. After that, I expect to be in perfect working order until I get deliriously and deliciously crazy in my old age which is when I will not care that I am mental.

Not gone and definitely not forgotten

Depression does this thing to you. It does it very sneakily, cunningly. And although the thing that it does is so obvious, you fall for it every time. It’s depression’s way of showing you it is still master.

It disappears.

Depending upon your stage of recovery, it can go for a few minutes up to a few months or maybe years. You may wake up one morning and not feel that dreadful heaviness rest upon you like a second skin. You may actually look forward to your day, or your activity.

Maybe it is smaller. Maybe you are gazing out of a window (something you never did whilst on the fast-and-busy life train) because your world has slowed and your mind is numb and then something catches your eye. Perhaps a little bird fluffing his feathers against the cold frosty branch. Maybe it’s a single snowdrop, head dancing to the breeze. Whatever it is, whilst previously occupied with the Master (depression), your attention is now caught, your mind is clear and free from worry and guilt and pain and darkness. And you think, in that moment or the day or that week, it’s gone. Am I better?

And when the darkness, the heaviness descends again it can be so easy to add weight to its return by feeling like a failure because you haven’t actually recovered.

But you can’t let yourself as this is not the truth. Every moment of happiness or calm is another step towards recovery. It’s a step toward overthrowing the master. And sure, he’ll probably always be around but you will be the master of your own life then so his visit will be short – unpleasant and unwanted of course – but short.

The change in medication appears to be still having a positive effect. I’m tired from the insomnia but the thick-headed exhaustion I can only attribute to the previous medication, is gone.

I can’t tell you how this feels. If I wasn’t depressed I’d be euphoric. Strangely, sometimes I catch myself missing that feeling and searching for it but it has gone. I can’t believe that I out up with it for a year. Yes, it was worse when the GP initially increased it a few weeks ago, but that feeling has been there for a while.

And this has allowed my mind to think that perhaps it was the tablet that was making life so difficult. Maybe I’m cured! Maybe I’m free!

Then I get a courtesy call from work. Sure she’s nice and caring. Sure she tries to say things to out my mind at ease. But being told that I have to go to Occupational Health isn’t relaxing. Being told that you need a welfare meeting with her and your boss is not a way to calm you. And then, as gently as they can, telling you that tomorrow an internal advert for your role is being sent to all staff – albeit in a temporary capacity – tomorrow.

My did the Master steal the show then! He stamped his feet and screamed and pulled me down, down, down for the rest of the day.

Nope, you still have depression. You don’t have a medicine induced exhaustion anymore but you are still depressed. You are going to be a good girl and stress for the rest of the day about your decisions, your career, your life.

Fact is though, to even think that I am getting better shows optimism and that is progress. So, the master may have won today’s battle but I am going to win this war.

January blues

My doctor has signed me off for a month. Part of me felt relief – I’m not ready to face the world yet. I don’t feel like me. I told the doctor that I feel like I have lost myself somewhere: my strength and positivity. I don’t recognise myself. Another part of me wilted when he said a month. It’s confirmation that I’m not better yet. That I’ve failed to pull through. That I’m not strong enough. It moves a ‘blip’ into something else. Confused? Welcome to the inner workings of an anxious and depressed mind. The doctor has also changed my antidepressant and I didn’t even have to ask. So, I’m going to have two rough weeks whilst I switch over and deal with a whole new set of side effects but I’m so hopeful that this will signal the end of my breakdown/burnout. He has advised me to give myself time, to search out ways to relax and to go for walks to help clear my mind. I need to encourage myself to move more and hopefully the brighter days will encourage this also. It is a beautiful and bright frosty day today. Spring is not in the air yet but the sunlight offers promise of better days to come. In six weeks I am due to go away with friends to Prague. I’m not sure about going at the moment, but hopefully by then I will be more like myself. It could be a celebration of my return to normality. I’ve been looking a lot into ways to improve day-to-day. How I can be more efficient; how I can tip my life into ‘manageable’. The next few weeks will give me some time alone in order to really think and plan. ********* I started this post yesterday. I’ve been on my new tablets for three days now and I can’t believe the difference already. As expected, I am struggling to get to sleep and it is something I really need to work on because I can’t depend on the medication to do it for me. Despite this, this morning when I got up my mind was clearer. That exhausted mind numbing fog that has invaded my mind is now just a wispy mist; more dense in some places, but thin and threadbare in others. What it means, is that for periods of time this morning my head has been clear with the odd wave of tiredness and nausea. I’m hopeful that by the end of January, the blues will be over.

The good, the bad and the inbetween

Hope you have all had a lovely Christmas – I know I have. 😊

My sister and brother-in-law and my gorgeous nearly-two nephew came to stay for a few nights. We had such a great time and I have laughed so much. My sisters’ commented that they had not heard me laugh I’m such a long time and that it was good to see and hear. I definitely don’t laugh enough. We played board games, watched films and sampled flavoured gin. Such fun.

As expected from the increased medication (and Christmas!), I have put more weight on and am also suffering from water retention in my hands and feet, another side effect of Mirtazapine, the anti-depressant that I am taking.

No-one likes to put weight on, I know that. I’m not vain but I can’t tell you how much this is getting to me. My self-esteem is fragile at the best of times but it is at rock bottom at the moment. I am seriously considering going back to the doctors to get my medication changed. When I had postnatal depression in 2014, I took sertraline which worked well for the short time I was on it. The downside is that I won’t get the help with the insomnia but the way I see it, my feelings about my size are not helping my wellbeing so this has got to help. I’ve actually ordered new clothes as I know my work clothes aren’t going to fit. I don’t want anyone to see me like this.

Other than that, I am starting to feel better. I feel like the dark cloud is all around my head rather than encompassing all of me. I’m anxious about work but more about how I will face people than the work itself.

So, for the next few days I’m going to do some much needed housework and prepare for my son’s eleventh birthday on New Year’s Eve. Progress then – no more sitting in a stupor on the couch for me.

Time

My depression/breakdown, or whatever else you want to call it, is plodding on. I’m getting some ok days and so fewer bad days now. I need to sit and rev myself up to do anything, but it’s a start.

Sleep is causing an issue though. Strangely, increasing the dose has not helped me fall asleep any better but I wonder if my increased anxiety is the cause of this: I dread going to bed some nights as I just don’t want to think. However, once I am asleep, I am out for the count – no more waking up. The difficulty then is actually getting up and staying awake, particularly on the few days where I have tried taking the full 30 dose. I cannot keep myself awake and have no motivation to do anything.

I know I have to really give the tablets time but I am beginning to wonder whether they need to be changed. Perhaps they could give me something else for my insomnia??

I’ve been off two weeks and it feels like months. Time has slowed. Is this what people mean when they talk of a different pace of life? If so, it is scary how much of my life is whisked away in a cloud of stress and over-activity. But, like the millions of other working mums out there, I have no choice. The alternative is severely altering our quality of life and moving into a much smaller house in the middle of town.

It’s not that I don’t like my job. I do. I question whether I made the right decision when I went for the promotion. My two bosses are happy with me but I still don’t feel like my heart is in this role. Should I change job? How can I when I’ve now had this time off? How will I ever find a role that pays what I currently earn?

A slower pace of life is just giving my mind more time to whirr. But maybe that is the point. I need this time to think to work out how I can make life better, easier, manageable. One thing’s for sure, I’ve not found the answers yet.