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

Archive for September, 2007

Let’s count ’em…

…the blessings that is. I certainly haven’t gone short of blessings in my life, now or ever. And that phase I went through of what seemed like chronic fatigue, whatever caused it, has made me doubly appreciative of my now pretty normal energy levels.

I am going to carry on taking 500mg Sodium Valproate for a few weeks just to see that my health is stable on that and then look at beginning to reduce it.

This morning I’ve been filling in application forms for voluntary positions in a local mental health centre (MIND). One is general admin, another is volunteer advocate, helping clients get their views across to professionals. At the moment I’m more inclined toward the first because it seems less exposing and more behind the scenes. Also I know who the advocacy services manager is and am not wild keen on working with her. As I filled in the forms I realised that I have tons of relevant experience and skills for this type of work, although I have no grand ambitions to be a mental health worker as such and sometimes I guess I feel I might just like to move right away from the scene.

I’ve thought some more about taking some kind of qualification in Nutrition. There is one course in Nutrition for Complementary Therapists at a local college…it starts in January, provided there is enough uptake. I actually am a qualified aromatherapist although I’ve never really practised as such.

I’d like to eventually work with mental health service users around nutrition…that would combine both my longstanding interests.

I consider myself recovered from ‘severe and enduring’ mental health problems. Yes I can still get depressed moods but they are usually related to circumstances and they don’t last long. I feel my health, mental and physical, is within my own hands. I think I am most unlikely to have another episode of mania. That is my intuitive hunch. I simply need to stick to a broadly low GL diet, take my supplements, refrain from alcohol, drugs, nicotine, caffeine and sugar, get adequate rest and exercise regularly and minimise stress.

It’s turned chilly on this island of Blighty…makes me feel a little like hibernating but instead I have to go out and meet the employment advisor, go to the college and enrol for my IT course and then go to the West End for DRA…Dual Recovery Anonymous. Take care all…love, Zoe.

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Update…

Hiya. Yesterday was a little bit crap, so was Friday. But today was better. We had some lovely late summer sunshine and Richard was here, he has a way of cheering me up bless him.

I’ve been feeling frustrated by the lack of structure in my life. I am looking for a voluntary job that will significantly add to my skills and which will take me in the right direction career-wise but last week I just didn’t seem to make a lot of headway despite my efforts and ended up feeling lost, confused and my drive heading for my boots.

Sometimes I guess I’m frustrated with me, me, me…here I am , 45 and still seemingly no nearer to knowing what I was put on this earth to do? Maybe that’s the point, maybe I’ve got to stop thinking like that, it’s too idealistic, too grandiose. Most people aren’t doing that but most people are doing something and that’s maybe enough.

At the same time I’d be lying if I said I’m happy to do anything. I’m manifestly not. And the financial incentive is not really there, at least not right now. But having practically cured myself of the most disabling type of manic depression I can’t in all conscience carry on pretending to be incapable. In another six months or so I will have to sit down and fill in my disability form and I won’t be telling lies. I never have told lies and I’m not going to start now.

I have a comfortable life, a lovely home and I have never been particularly materialistic or hankered after ‘the good things in life’…I’ve been spectacularly lucky to have landed where I have considering the random nature of social housing and so on. I lean towards the minimalist and like simplicity, peace and quiet, even to the point of being slightly reclusive. So work for me is almost entirely about personal development, making a contribution, building my self-esteem and even perhaps making up for a lot of lost time. It is no less important for all that.

I decided not to pursue my higher education any further until I have been in the workplace for a while (even as a volunteer) and therefore have some idea of the purpose of further study. I loved my time at University but there was a point to that…I knew I was fulfilling the potential I had and proving something to myself and the world. Further studies right now would have felt like over-egging the pudding. Maybe later.

Just some thoughts. Love, Zoe.

Going great guns…

Hi y’all. I feel like I’m starting to reap the benefits of all the hard work I’ve put in over the summer. Things seem to be coming together for me, health wise. The last two weeks my energy levels have climbed steadily, while many of the symptoms have subsided or just disappeared. The only difficult may be working out which of my many supplements are the most and the least useful, but for now dear readers, I could care less, I’m just feeling great. At last I can get out and do all those things I’ve been wanting to do, at last I can seriously work out (and now have active membership at the gym) and I’ve also, as of last week, begun practising yoga first thing in the morning before breakfast.

Feeling chronically ill did give me some valuable insight though. I now appreciate my health and guard it jealously as never before. Health is MORE than wealth to paraphrase the old saying. I have become such a devotee of the healthy lifestyle that I feel that whatever I decide to work at in the future perhaps it should be in the health field – in particular I would love to help other psychiatric survivors towards health and wholeness by nutrition, exercise and healing practices such as yoga.

It’s a thought. Take care all…love and peace, Zoe.

A load of other health stuff!

Hi y’all. Well I went to see my doc yesterday and started on the HRT. It’s quite a low dose. I’ve also got some wild yam cream (natural progesterone, I think?) and am taking soyagen in capsules, a phytoestrogen. That’s the science bit.

Hot flushing and sweating has definitely eased off in the last week. Energy levels today were actually really good! Great to have a let-up, it’s very morale-building. Have been applying for various voluntary positions. Also need to finish working on my updated CV.

As for the Sodium Valproate, I am down to 700mg now after my wobble (crisis of confidence) when I went back to 1000mg. To be honest I am now inclined to put most of my symptoms down to hormonal causes. I’m in menopause, ergo… But I still will be going slowly and carefully from now on as I reduce the dose.

I’ve started practising yoga first thing in the morning. I’m really getting into it! Next will be the meditation…I have bought a beautiful folding meditation stool which helps me sit comfortably. Life is getting its taste back…

That’s all for now. Love, Zoe.

A turn for the better.

Yesterday and today have been much better. The depression lifted and with it, most of the fatigue. I’ve been able to get to the gym and to yoga, as well as some long walks. Still waking sporadically in the night which is annoying. But am enjoying socialising again. Today I treated myself to a meditation stool with a lovely purple cushion, and a chart of yoga asanas to get me in the mood and remind me of what I’m supposed to be doing. Also a book about treating fatigue with yoga. Have added to my ridiculous tally of supplements black cohosh and dong quai for the menopausal symptoms.

Saw my trick cyclist today and discussed tapering down the Sodium Valproate. She was not against the idea. She gave me a prescription for some lower-dose tablets to make it easier to taper. In the BMD or whatever it’s called it apparently said therapeutic dose is between 1 and 2 grams. But she said that doesn’t mean you have to take that much. Psychiatry eh? Talk about an inexact science!

The doc phoned and said she had written me a prescription for something called Femoston. I don’t want the Mirena coil after all. Negotiating the world of HRT is a minefield. The hot flushes have been better the last two days.

Lots of love everyone…Zoe.

It’s official.

At a quarter to nine this morning I got a call from the doc that I saw last week. She told me that the test results confirmed that I was in menopause. I asked her if I could see her rather than wait a whole week to see my own doc, to talk about what to do next. She agreed and gave me an apointment for three o’clock this afternoon. It’s a relief to be able to cut out another week of waiting. She said I would need a bone density test because this is earlyish to be in menopause.

I feel a bit numb and still quite vulnerable but I did cheer up over the weekend and I’m feeling stronger than I did. In some ways after what I’ve been through recently it is a relief to finally get this news. My periods were so irregular and light for so long, it was damned inconvenient and unsettling, so the thought of no more periods ever is not completely unwelcome. And the hot flushes and sweating had accustomed me to the idea that I was indeed finally there after the years in perimenopause, so it’s not as if it was a shock. However it is a loss and there is a grieving process involved, especially as I have lost my only child to foster care and now know I will never have another.

It seems that the symptoms which I at first took for withdrawal are at the very least partly down to these hormonal changes. Maybe the severity of it in the last few weeks particularly was because of the double whammy effect. Anyway for the time being I am back on 1000mg sodium valproate and I will discuss tapering the dose – GRADUALLY – at a later date with my psychiatrist when I see her on Wednesday. First I will get started on the HRT and see how that goes. I have ideas about what I want to ask for from reading a book about menopause. Rather than tablets I would prefer the Mirena coil and oestrogen gel. I hope she won’t be dogmatic about what she thinks I should have. If she is I will just wait and see my own doc next week. There may be some trial and error involved anyway.

I am quite shattered and quite shocked. When I first realised I was probably heading for an early menopause I was profoundly upset but I’ve had a few years to get used to the idea. Still I am pretty punch drunk from last week which was one of the worst ever frankly. I’ve just got to take it easy, be good to myself, not be too demanding.

Take care all. Zoe.

Last week was too much!

And I couldn’t handle it anymore. The fatigue and depression became so excruciating that I have decided to go back up to 1000mg Sodium Valproate from 500mg. Of course I don’t know if it’s even that that’s caused this. But I don’t want to take the chance. Perhaps things will become clearer when I get to see my doc next week and get started on some form of HRT. If things improve from there I will be able to conclude that the problem is mainly hormonal. In the meantime I just have to be patient.

I don’t want another week like that though. Today I feel better. Richard is here and has worked his usual magic.

I’m now inclined to forget about doing the MA at least for this year. I’m seriously concerned that the ups and downs of my health will become problematic and I really need to get that sorted as a matter of urgency. After that, second priority is to get back out into the workplace, even if it’s voluntary work. But one won’t happen without the other.

We’re off to the Farmer’s Market in a minute to get my week’s fruit and veg. Maybe pick some blackberries on the way back.

I never thought that Sodium Valproate and other mood stabilisers prevented me from getting depressed but I have to say that the severity of what I went through last week was worse than I remember. But the fatigue is something new and quite frightening. I hate being ill. I’m stuck at home, I can’t get out and see anyone or get anything done. I dreamt I had another manic breakdown and something has to give, really, because otherwise it could happen.

Take care everyone. Love, Zoe.