Thursday, 10 October 2013

Real Life Post - Coping With Depression

Today's post is a serious subject. I want to talk about my life with depression. I have usually only told few people & so this is a new thing for me because now anyone who reads this & knows me ( either as a family member, friend or acquaintance) will now know too.

My first really battle with depression began in January 1993 when I was 19. As was usual for me in the period after Xmas & New Year , I found January very grey bleak. I only seemed to leave the house for work & spent my evenings just sitting in front of the TV & let's face it Eastenders can be enough for anyone to want to end it all.
It was also a couple of months before my Crohn's Disease diagnosis. I had stomach pains on several occasions with constant sickness. I was missing lots of work because of the attacks & no idea at that stage what the hell was wrong with me.
it was no wonder my mood took a huge dip. To the point that I was terrified because actually I did not even understand at the time that it was actually depression.
My mum , who finally cottoned on to what was going on ( for once being quite in tune with me) & took me to the doctor.
I was diagnosed with depression & signed off work for 2 weeks. I was not prescribed any pills but the doctor did give me a tape filled with "calming music" to play when I was falling asleep. I did not get on with those. I did find the 2 weeks of being off work did a great job ( no guilt because this time I was signed off by the doctor) & slowly I begun to feel so much better.

Over the next many years I had my ups & downs but overall managed to keep my spirits up as much as I could.

My next brush with depression came when my eldest son Brad was around 5 months old. For some reason he turned into the child from hell. You know that kid that all the other parents hated because he always beat up on their child? Yeh that was Brad. Except he was only 5 months old when it started & actually he didn't actually "hit" them or push in an aggressive way. It was more like he wanted to hug the other children but in doing so would pull hair, push the babies over & so on. It is really difficult to explain without sounding like I am excusing his behaviour. Of course though groups etc became a nightmare for me because I never knew how Brad would be & 9/10 the other parents would look down their noses at me , making me feel terrible. No matter what I tried to do, it would happen still. The only place he actually behaved was at music group. He never touched another child there. It only started to get better when he was around 2. he had been going to Tumble Tots & well after saying they would help me with the issue, they actually did nothing to help & actually made me out to be the worst mother ever. In the end I spoke to my health visitor about it ( I am lucky to have a lovely one who has seen me through both children) who suggested asking them if he could move up to the next stage group at Tumble Tots as maybe he was bored with the baby group. Well, that's what we asked & that is what happened & from that point he became a totally different child. Anyone reading this & knowing the genius Brad actually is at school , will see what I do that now , that he was just too bright for the baby class. That is not a knock at other babies just that my son is always having harder work set for him because he can do a lot of the stuff like maths without any real effort at all ( he does not get that from me btw!)
Anyway , after that long winded explanation you can probably see why I had PND ( Post-natal depression) because I just almost stopped going out. We did not really have many baby friends at all for the 1st 2 years of his life because I just found it all too hard being the mummy everyone else ignored. It was a horrible time I was constantly asking Rob to stay home as I did not want to be alone but I did not want to go anywhere with anyone else. Occasionally Rob would take Brad to his mums for the morning or day , but in all it was horrendous time. At one point in 2004 I headed to the doctor , who prescribed happy pills. These did nothing. We were wanting to try for a baby too at this stage & with the pills I was taking this made it harder to do so. As I say the pills did not help. MY HV then sent me on a 12 week support group course. It was fantastic. Loads of other mums just like me in a room where we could talk about absolutely anything. It was great, just what I needed... until the course ended & I got lost yet again.
Things came to a head though because Rob, who has always been the most amazing support, had finally had enough, Because at the time he was the only one i could share it with ( picking the phone up & talking to my mum was a no go) & I think he just thought " I cannot take it anymore" & he told me I either sorted it out or it was over. Well that really scared me. Here I was in a situation I was finding it hard to get myself out of & looking to lose the one crutch that I had.
Back I went again to my HV. This time she referred me to a psychologist. 

Which was the best thing I have ever done. I would go for an hour every Wednesday afternoon for around 3 months. I could say exactly what I wanted , how I wanted & no one to judge me. I will not say here what came out because that is not fair to the people I spoke about. Let me just say that it was interesting when I thought about the what I did talk about & the centre at which most of it seemed to originate.
I was asked to keep a journal. Which is fantastic. I am a geek for diary's etc so this was not hard for me. I still have them somewhere & did used to look at what I wrote from time to time to remind myself how far I had come.

Anyway by early part of 2005 when the course ended things began to turn around nicely. Rob & I had decided to get married that year. A wonderful ceremony at a castle in Scotland in October that year in front of just 5 people included Brad was one of the best days of my life. I would never ask for a better wedding day. 

Again over the years the depression tried to rear its ugly head , because when you are "that way" then it is always with you. However, even with the subsequent 4 years it took us to have Finley, our 2nd & final child ( it actually took us 6 years but it was only in 2006 that we sought some help from the dr) plus also losing Robs mum in December 2006 to cancer, I was managing to keep things at bay more. When Finley was born in August 2010 I had a better way of coping & a much better support network including Rob once again, some family members & some really wonderful friends I made at a group very early in Finley's life.

All was OK until March of 2011 when I had to have an urgent operation for my Crohn's Disease. You can read that story HERE. For the past 2 & 1/2 years it has been up & down so much with the changing minds of 2 different people at the hospital. I was told I would have the bag for 6 months ( this is the NHS though so I was never looking to get rid of it before year was up) but because of a cock up with the Colonoscopy I should have had after my operation it meant I was almost a year afterwards having it done. So since Feb 2012 I have had several different scopes & tests done because the 1st one brought up a stricture & the others have all been to try & get a better look. they all though have said different things. I was finally told I could have my reversal in April 2013, only to be told in July that actually they are concerned still with this possible stricture. A further test in August 2013 has brought a better & clearer picture of the stricture & not a good one sadly because now the surgeon must rethink my surgery. I see him in November. I know at the end of the day they are only ever doing what is best for me. However, I have found  it increasingly difficult to keep calm & not constantly worry about what is actually going to happen. Like I say , I may be a number to them but to me, it is my life & I would like to know where it is going with regards to my operation.
It is no surprise then that over that last few months my levels of unhappiness have increased & have got steadily worse. I have many lovely people to talk to & plenty with depression but none who are going through what I am. Many times I feel very much alone with my thoughts.

Once again I headed to my GP. I have started a course of pills so I have now to wait & see if they will work. He has also though referred me for counselling because I said I found that so helpful when I had PND. At the time of writing this I will be seeing him 2 weeks later to see how things are going & hopefully i will have heard from the counselor by then too.

It can be very hard when you have depression to explain to people who have been lucky enough to never get so. 
A lot of time ( for me personally ) there will be no reason for it other than feeling a little low. Other times something may set it off, whether it is a big reason or small.
That can be very hard, especially as it is the one thing my husband cannot understand. There must be some reason you are crying all day long or looking like the world has ended. 

Other times people will be shocked to hear I suffer with depression. "But you always look so happy!"they will say. That is because when I am out & about at groups & stuff, people do not want me sobbing over them for the duration. I am not saying I have not gone somewhere & not had a little cry now & then but I just think that you then have to wipe the tears away & move on whilst you are there. I think it is important for FInley ( & Brad) to not see MUmmy crying all the time. They are aware that Mummy is not always herself but crying constantly in front of them is not good for them at all.

Most of my time I can get myself out of these moods by just keeping busy where possible. Other times I do just want to shut myself away indoors.

With children though, you cannot do that. For that I am ever thankful because whilst things are really bad right now, I have 2 gorgeous reasons to fight it once again. 3 if you include my husband but lets not make him big-headed.

So, at this stage, along with my journey with the Stoma, it is still ongoing. I may update in the future about both of course as I think is good for people to see how things have improved ( or not.)

Anyway , I thank you for reading this.It means a lot to me if you continued to the end.  

Like my Crohns Disease post this is another one that has come from me. Any opinions I have are my own & I am not saying this is how it is for everyone. 

Have a good day 
Amanda xxx


  1. I read it all; very heartfelt.x

  2. You are an amazing person Amanda, you will fight and you will win in the end xx

    Silverstar (Wendy)