When faced with my demons I clothe them and feed them…

Archive for August, 2007

Had the blood test…

…this morning, now just have to wait to see my doc. The one I saw last night reckoned I was menpausal, because my last cervical smear test, though normal, showed ‘some atrophying of the cells’. I was already quite overwrought and this news kind of tipped me over the edge. I became very tearful when I got home and poor Richard got the brunt of it. I took it out on him, having nowhere else to put my feelings. We had a very silly row. I could barely think straight, let alone argue coherently, and he isn’t good at arguments at the best of times. So I managed to make him feel rotten as well as myself.

This doc didn’t think my relatively early menopause had anything to do with the gynaecological work I had in my late thirties. That isn’t what the other one said. If I knew I had got it when I was naturally meant to get it I would feel better about it but I can’t help feeling that some kind of damage was done.

This doc said that some kind of HRT might be a good idea for someone of my age. I am putting aside any qualms I might have had about ‘medicalising’ a natural rite of passage etc etc, because frankly I am ready to try anything that might set me straight again, I can’t go on like this!!!

I guess none of it is helped by having reduced the psych meds quite drastically…perhaps the severity of the symptoms is a reflection of the two processes going on at the same time.

I feel less overwrought and tearful today…still very tired, went back to bed in the afternoon and slept. Read quite a bit – a book on menopause that I already had in my shelves, and bought a new book about depression called ‘Sunbathing in the Rain’. Things that need doing I am just putting off, I can’t face it. My appetite was better today, managed to eat a decent lunch.

Take care everyone…Zoe.

Grimness extraordinaire.

Having a really horrible time. Hot sweats and flushes, a cold, aching back, insomnia, fatigue…I’m one big mass of symptoms and am now pretty sure this has something to do with my hormones. I am off to the doc’s in a minute to request a blood test and have made an appointment to see my own doctor when she gets back from her holiday, but that isn’t for over a week and I don’t know how I will bear this till then.

I also feel very low and depressed. When I managed to drag myself down the stairs this morning I cried from sheer desperation. I am so sick of this. One week will be good and I think I’m over it, then I’m back at square one.

Richard is coming over tonight and I just hope I can refrain from biting his head off with the sheer frustration of it all.

Miserably, Zoe.

As I thought…

…it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t brilliant, but it wasn’t bad either. In the end we had four hours with J. It was a glorious hot day after a fairly miserable week. It has occurred to me that maybe J would be happier just to see me on my own. I will probably offer to do that next time.

Anyway it seems he has settled well with the foster family. Maybe there are some loyalty issues for him. Perhaps I should let this go for a while and stop beating my brains trying to understand what is going on. So much I don’t see or know about, but I do trust the foster family…they are lovely people.

It’s Bank Holiday Monday, never my favourite day. It’s just another Sunday when you aren’t working. My Mum left late yesterday afternoon and Richard went off this morning. I’m slightly at a loose end but feeling a little tired in any case so maybe I should take it easy today.

I have remained on 500mg Sodium Valproate and the withdrawal effects seem to be settling down. I’m not getting so many hot flashes and I’m not seriously fatigued, however I have been having problems with insomnia…waking at unearthly hours of the night and lying awake. Now I am unsure if I am in menopause. I’m only 45 but I had some gynaecological work done in my thirties which seems to have affected my hormones: my periods have been irregular and a bit sketchy for some years now. I feel a sense of loss over that…I don’t feel mentally ready for ‘The Change’ but I guess I may have no choice.

This physical stuff is tied up with my mental illness as well and a part of the incalculable losses I have incurred as a result of it. I contracted Pelvic Inflammatory Disease probably as a result of having the IUD (coil) – I would not have had the IUD if it wasn’t for the bipolar which made me sexually vulnerable at times (and I had to have three abortions). I ended up spending six weeks on a drip in hospital after an operation to remove cysts from my ovaries and fallopian tubes which led to complications. As a result I have been infertile since I was 37. And the problematic periods since my early 40’s.

So yeah I am a little downbeat today. I heard last week that I had got into the University I applied to, to do an MA. I think on balance I will go ahead with it this year, but opt to do the course spread over three years.

Take care all. Love, Zoe.

Aaargh! Disaster!

Oh dear. Well the contact was all set to go ahead as normal and then I got a call from J’s social worker. He apparently did not want to go to contact. He eventually agreed to go for at least a couple of hours after his foster mum talked him round.

The effect on me of this news was pretty devastating. I had already been pretty upset by the last phone call. He seemed angry with me but I couldn’t work out what it was really about. It had preyed on my mind for the next week. And now this. Just when I was so looking forward to seeing him. Now I am dreading it, to be honest.

Reasons? Oh, he is big now, he doesn’t want to be called babyish names – like sweetheart or whatever. And he doesn’t want to be smothered with affection. The real reasons? Well I know my boy pretty well and even I am stumped but I think it’s to do with difficult emotions that he doesn’t want to face and a need for some control.

He seems to want to make a point…and has succeeded although we are not entirely sure what the point is. I guess it’s that ‘ I’m growing up, treat me with respect and even a certain distance’. The thing is that’s not a problem for me at all. I can do that. I just want to see him. I experience that as a need and I have to accept that maybe, for him, it isn’t. At least not to the same degree. He has his emotional needs met elsewhere now.

Anyway my immediate problem is coping with this. My mum is already here and I found her reactions really unhelpful. She didn’t really react properly to the news, she just went straight into ‘analysis’ mode. Obviously she is upset, but she didn’t express that. And her analysis was all over the place. It would have been better if she could just have expressed sorrow. Then at least we would have had some solidarity with one another, instead we just kind of rowed, and that within five minutes of her arriving. Can you believe it!

However the point is not how well my mum copes or doesn’t cope. The point is, how do I deal with all of this. I’ve now got to deal with a prickly relationship as well as possibly seeing J only for two hours, depending on his whim tomorrow. Richard also has to be factored in. He doesn’t handle conflict well. I have to be really careful what I say to him.

So although it isn’t looking that good from where I’m sitting now if I just take it as it comes and worry not about the morrow it will probably not be the irretrievable appalling disaster that my brain is pre-programmed to believe will occur.

And the cat has had her ‘dental’ – one tooth out and the rest scaled and polished. I have to pick her up from the Animal Hospital tonight at seven. Thanks for hearing me…I feel better for getting this out. Take care all, Zoe.

Much better this week.

Since Sunday my energy has been much improved. After the grimness of last week it has come as a huge relief to be able to get active again. I have decided to stay on 500mg of Sodium Valproate for the time being. I have an appointment to see my psychiatrist early in September so if I need to talk about reducing then I will. I want to see myself stable and free from withdrawal effects before I reduce again, and largely, I am.

I’ve been able to get to my Fellowship meetings (Overeaters Anonynous and Dual Recovery Anonymous), went to see a good movie (Sparkle), seen friends, been to yoga, and been to the gym twice. Going again today. I’m starting to quite enjoy it! Richard has been on holiday so I haven’t seen him, but I’ve coped OK with that.

I heard from the University that I applied to for the MA: School of Oriental and African Studies (part of the University of London). I’ve been accepted to start in September. Now I just have to make up my mind if I’m ready to start this year. I am leaning toward doing it…I like the idea of doing it over three years instead of two though, because I really do want to press ahead with ‘the workplace’ even if that just means a substantial amount of voluntary work for the time being.

I am looking forward to seeing my boy on Saturday. How lucky that the day was changed! If it had been last week as was originally scheduled I would have been feeling ill plus the weather was rotten. It is forecast to be better this weekend. We are taking him to Stansted Mountfitchet, the Norman castle.

Tomorrow the cat goes to the vet to have her ‘dental’. Well at least I know what to expect this time. I will go prepared with plenty of reading material.

Take care everyone. Lots of love, Zoe.

About ‘Optimum Nutrition for the Mind’.

Patrick Holford started out as an experimental psychologist before he became a nutritionist as a result of a chance encounter. So he obviously has an interest in mental health – hence this book. He basically argues that mind and body are not separate. The book is fairly scientific and he refers a lot to studies and reports. There is an extensive ‘references and resources’ section at the back. This is quite useful when you need to know where to go next, where you can obtain certain supplements, how to find a nutritional practitioner, or where you can go for various tests. These are mainly based in the UK however.

Throughout the book there are some case histories as well as short questionnaires to see whether you are deficient in this or that. There is a chapter on addiction, bipolar, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and depression. Complex carbs are important, amino acids (eg 5-HTP or Serotone) and the essential fats, Omega 3’s and 6’s. He also refers to helpful herbs and ‘smart drugs and hormones’. He has an interesting viewpoint on Lithium.

Naturally diet is key, but Holford is good at understanding that every individual is different and has different needs. This is what is ignored largely in psychiatry…if you are diagnosed bipolar you somehow get thrown in to one homogenous group and treated accordingly.

I don’t think he is too dogmatic. He gives you ideas that you can try. If one doesn’t work you can try something else. It’s about learning to trust your body. I find his viewpoint liberating and refreshing…but then I guess I would, wouldn’t I? Anyway I’m doing pretty well on the Low GL Diet (Low Glycaemic Load). In terms of sorting out my food obsession and getting rid of cravings it’s worked better than anything else ever has. I had a feeling my blood sugar must be up the creek and my eating really was pathological at times.

It’s quite a big thick book with a lot in it. Pretty good value for money. There is also his website 100% Health though I caution suggestible people like myself not to go too mad buying the latest ‘must-have’ supplement unless you can afford it! But there are lots of interesting articles on there, some of which you have be a member to read. I’ll be back soon to write my latest news. Love, Zoe.

Better day.

My beloved cheered me up. We went for a long walk up to Highgate Wood…God I so needed that. I needed to feel half human again. Still not 100% but I have started to understand how it must be to have a chronic physical illness or disability so that you can’t take things for granted such as being able to get out of your house every day.

I decided today to just go back to 500mg of Sodium Valproate (I had been down to 325mg) for the time being and just see how I go with that. What’s the big rush! As it is I’ve moved very fast, faster than many of the experts would say is wise to go.

The muscle aches and headaches are gone though. Now I am dealing with tearfulness and depression, some anxiety, hot flashes and excessive sweating, mainly on my face, and the dread fatigue, definitely the worst symptom of the lot. But I read somewhere that sweating is the only way the body can get rid of some chemicals so maybe that is a good thing.

How I would have managed any of this without having access to the Internet is anyone’s guess. By far the most valuable insights into withdrawal come from those who have experienced it and I don’t know of anyone IRL who has gone this route. Most psychiatrists are worse than useless when it comes to this stuff. They haven’t got a clue.

Last week I added a Vitamin C tablet, Selenium, and Evening Primrose Oil capsule to my already extensive list of supplements. I have got Patrick Holford’s ‘Optimum Nutrition for the Mind’ and it makes a lot of recommendations but I just can’t get everything.

According to him I may be a ‘histadelic’, meaning someone with genetically high levels of histamine in their blood. It sort of fits, although not the bit about ‘rarely gains weight’. However since I’ve been on the GL diet (Low Glycaemic Load) cravings are out of the window, I can go for six hours happily without a meal and for the first time in a very long time I feel completely in control around food. I’m also an ex-coffeeholic and an ex-smoker…I gave up in May 2006. I used to crave sweet things. It’s all history.

Actually my appetite is not huge right now. That is down to the withdrawal. Today Richard and I went to the Farmer’s Market and I made sure to get cabbage, green beans and carrots…made a lovely soup later when we got back from our walk. Plums are gorgeous at the moment and English apples just coming into their own. I love to buy and eat seasonal and local, it makes an enormous difference. Also, organic wherever possible.

Well enough of my ramblings. Take care my dears. Love, Zoe.