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

Archive for March, 2009

My Depressive Day

Hi there. Depression has properly bottomed out now and got about as bad as it gets. What does this mean for me? I wake up full of fear, dread and loathing at the thought of the day ahead. However, for me personally, there is absolutely no point in staying in bed. That will make matters far worse, as my brain will just go into overdrive while my body stays immobile. Maybe it’s because I’m a morning person.

Once up things improve a little. My brain is sluggish. I am bereft of ideas and inspiration. Right now I could do with some, as I need to put some structure and routine activity back into my life. I want the comfort of knowing I have done something productive with my day.

A well-meaning worker yesterday began talking to me about CBT. Do I interrogate my negative thoughts for evidence of their accuracy? No I sodding well don’t. I haven’t the energy. The tracks of depressive thinking are so well-worn. I am sceptical about the efficacy of these techniques for the kind of mood disorder that I have. Last time I tried CBT I was simply too depressed and distraught to engage with assignments and so on.

I can’t see colours. I could tell you what they are, but  my senses are so deadened I can’t enjoy their vibrancy as I normally do.

I’ve had a lot of anxiety piled on the depression of late. Especially concerning my son, as previously documented. Now I’ve calmed down a bit.

However on the plus side I have started reading books again. I even watched three TV programmes on the trot last night. A rare thing these days. One was a fantastic documentary about a Japanese couple by a British man, in the ‘Hidden Japan’ series on BBC4. They were a part of Japan’s new underclass of ‘working poor’. It came to light that for the many casualties of Japan’s uniquely conformist, all-encompassing and sometimes bullying working culture, there are very few services to support their psychological well-being. We are luckier in this country than we sometimes think. I was very absorbed by this programme, losing myself and my mental anguish for the duration of a few hours.

During my depressive days it is best to get out and engage in some reasonably low-level activity along with others, if possible. Yesterday, after meeting with my Care Coordinator in a local cafe I went to my DRA meeting in central London and went for coffee afterward with four others.

Then I attended a singing class in the evening at the day centre. I have pretty much never been to this before although it’s been running for years. It was actually rather good. The teacher is passionate about singing and music, and their therapeutic possibilities: she’s also a great singer, and she writes songs. We sang some uplifting standards, like ‘Lean On Me’, and ‘What A Wonderful World’ by Sam Cooke. That probably sounds cheesy as hell. But it wasn’t. I will definitely go back.

Evenings, and most especially, nights, are what I look forward to when I am depressed. My mood tends to lift. I am blessed with good, sound sleeping patterns and not being an insomniac. So I know I have the ‘little death’ to look forward to where I can dream of better things and just be oblivious for those few precious hours.

The new washing machine was delivered today and I have already put it through its paces. I go on retreat at the weekend at Pleshey, a small village near Chelmsford.

Lots of love, Zoe xxx

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Busy Day

Not a bad day today. For one thing I was finally able to speak to my son’s social worker. I discussed the business of the blog, and my anxiety about my son, given that he has barely been in touch etc. Social worker was very nice. He said he would have a look at the blog with my son when he sees him next week. As this is all such a sensitive matter I had better not say any more about that. I asked for a meeting with the social worker following his meeting with my son, and he agreed to that. Just to find out how he was.

As paranoia is now stalking my every blogging step I might have to go back and do some more word searches to make sure there are no specific place names concerning contact with my son.

Anyway, back to today. I had quite a lot on, which is good. Had to go and buy a new washing machine in the morning. Mission accomplished. Got a Bosch and arranged to have it delivered next Tuesday. After that had arranged to help a friend of mine who has got herself into difficulties at the local day centre . She wanted me to attend a meeting with her that she would have otherwise found intimidating. It went OK. I spent an hour or so with her afterward discussing the outcome and other concerns she has about her life at the moment.

It was quite easy. It strikes me that maybe I could make a go of being an advocate, as I have a diplomatic nature and am good at relating well to both service users and staff. So I can be a good mediator. It’s definitely a thought.

I kind of wish there was some kind of professional qualification you could do as a service user to work with other service users. Proper training around mental health and working with vulnerable people etc. Maybe there is! I just haven’t managed to track it down yet.

Then I went to see friend A. But friend A has not been too good lately. She phones or texts me all hours of the day and night (not that I take all the calls) and then starts ranting about her parents or something. Also she’s been smoking cannabis. A big no-no for someone with her vulnerability. We got into a discussion about mental health issues today and she started to get really angry with me. I’m afraid a case of shoot the messenger, and also taking your anger out on the wrong person. Then she asked me to leave so I did. That was a little upsetting, but I wasn’t surprised. I could see the way things were going with the strange phone calls, and the last time I visited, when she was smoking weed.

Talking to people about their stuff, mental health issues, whatever, is endlessly fascinating to me though. I love trying to understand how people tick.

So I took myself off to Sainsbury’s for a therapeutic shop. I’m shopping and cooking quite beautifully now that I’m thoroughly grounded. No more packet noodles! Even made an apple crumble today.

Oh and yesterday the gynae check was reassuring. There is a small cyst which is probably a result of ovulation (so said the doc) on one of my ovaries, but the scan of my womb looked ‘pristine’…all pink and shiny.  So I need to go back in three months and have a trans-abdominal scan just to check whether the cyst is still there.

Tomorrow will try and write a letter to my son. Explaining the steps I have taken to make the blog more anonymous (and that I really didn’t expect him to be reading it!). Of course I don’t even know if it’s that that he objects to. I’ll mention it but otherwise talk about other topics.

Tomorrow I also have to attend a focus group of the Haringey User Network at the local library. Should see many friends, both old and new, there.

Cats miaow out a hearty hello to you all…much love and thanks for putting up with all my nonsense, Zoe xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Anxiety Through the Roof

Oh God. I have butterflies in my stomach, churning anxiety. It’s been building for weeks and now this business of my son and the blog has brought it to a head. It’s fed into all the shame and guilt that’s native to the depressive state.

If only he had explained to me before what was troubling him. I’ve righted the wrongs as far as I can by removing all mention of his name going right back to 2007, and also removing my email address, which contains my full name. But I’m still beating up on myself for not keeping strict anonymity before. How could I be so stupid, naive, negligent etc. I know it was a mistake, and just hope that I can forgive myself and be forgiven by him in time.

The absolute last thing I ever wanted was to hurt my boy in any way. When I started out, on Blogspot, I didn’t seem to have many readers, and few comments. I guess it lulled me into a false sense of security. I regarded the blog almost as a private diary, and a way of keeping track of my moods and how I was doing when I withdrew from psych meds.

It’s different now. I have far more sense of the blog as a public space. Hence I have been more careful about using his name and have been referring to him as J, but occasionally it did slip out. But I neglected to pay attention to the earlier entries. Not to speak of the times where I’ve been manic and hence more indiscreet about details of my life generally (though not especially concerning him). At the end of the day this blog has never been geared towards members of my family reading it, let alone my son.

I am also anxious about a hospital appointment I’ve got this afternoon. It’s a gynae check. Anxious about living. Equally anxious about dying.

I feel agonised and very depressed about things at the moment. Self-esteem in tatters. How many more times do I have to be stretched on the rack of manic depression. What, in the end, is the meaning of it? Meaning and significance looms so large in the ‘high’ phase. Then you come crashing back down and you search in vain for the point of anything.

Horrible.

Oh Dear.

Hi. It’s been a fairly good couple of days despite the low mood. Although I have been anxious about my son. I didn’t get a Mother’s Day card from him and though he phoned me on Sunday he was unwilling to talk and put the phone down on me after a few minutes.

This sent me into a bit of a tailspin and confirmed me in thinking he was angry with me about something, or just generally. I have been trying to contact his social worker for weeks now, and eventually found out he has been on leave for a fortnight. However, I had phoned him before that too and left a message on his ansaphone.

Yesterday I phoned the fostering agency, and though his link worker is also on leave this week, spoke to her colleague who kindly offered to phone his foster mum.

I phoned her back today and apparently my son is fine…except that he has apparently been upset by this blog!

I wasn’t even aware he had the blog address, still less that he had read it. I can’t remember giving him the address though I can’t swear to it.

It would be good to know exactly what he has read that’s upset him, or if it is just the idea that I have a (not very anonymous) blog that I sometimes mention him on (though not by name). Or is it that he is embarrassed by my public openness about my mental health problems. Or is it my all-too-frequent swearing! At the moment I can only guess.

I will have to trawl back through the entries and make sure I have not mentioned him by name. Obviously, if it is still a problem for him I can excise the bits about him completely. But he is such a big part of my life. Of course I don’t want to.

I also slightly dread going back through recent entries during my episode of mania and hospitalisation. I was happy to be very open at the time but going back over it now, in depression, is quite another matter. Depression heightens all the shame and guilt.

Well anyway, yesterday I had a nice sociable day (considering) going to DRA, having lunch together afterwards and then going for tea in Crouch End with my good friend A.

And today I attended a conference on social enterprises with A, who was giving a presentation on her firm. She was excellent, and people were queueing up to talk to her afterward. I didn’t feel able to contribute much as I am not yet working in the social firm but hope to start soon, or else find another one. However I learnt a lot about social enterprises today, and as I knew next to nothing before, it was a steep learning curve.

It’s a delicate matter, concerning my son and the blog. I need this blog as an outlet, and sometimes I want to be able to mention the fact that I am ‘a mother apart’. It is so much a part of who I am. In some ways I’m very touched that my son has even read the blog. But I can’t do anything to jeopardise our relationship. It’s a dilemma. I guess I really need to talk to him about it. Find out what it is that is bothering him.

Sigh! Take care folks. Love, Zoe xxx

Grounded

Been down in Kent with my Mum for the past two days. Will be going back later today. The weather this week has continued gorgeous. My mood has been OK. On the low side but stable and nicely grounded. We went to Canterbury yesterday, had lunch out and a mosey round the town.

Getting back to reading books. Watching a TV programme to the end (Andrew Marr on Darwin). Gave my Mum a bunch of red and yellow tulips and a nice card for Mother’s Day. We’ve been getting on very well and had some in-depth chats.

Merlin has been enjoying his stay here (Mum has a lovely garden, and he can roam around) but he was obviously very pleased to see me. I’ll be taking him back to London by train and bus, in his basket, a bit later. Planning to get to my art class at two this afternoon so will need to go soonish. Love, Zoe.

Engaging with the Day to Day

Hi peeps. The downswing finds me finally sorting out the household tasks. I paced myself over two days and it was satisfying to get the house clean at last. I really can’t stand living in a state of disorder.

My energy levels are more normal again as the aftermath of that virus has finally abated. I can tell because I was able to do the whole yoga practice at my class for the first time since I got ill. I have cancelled my gym membership because it was money down the drain but I can still go back as and when and pay as I go. I think this is a better solution for someone with my particular unpredictable health patterns.

I’m also back shopping, cooking and eating properly, although still have less interest in food than was normal for me. That however, is actually no bad thing! Long may it last! My weight is still on the high side of my normal, somewhat fluctuating, range. Be good to get back down to the low side again.

I visited the local user network yesterday for the first time and chatted to the two paid workers there about how I might get involved. They were extremely nice. I joined the network.

I might make an appointment to go to the local volunteer office and see what they have on their books now. I worked there myself for a couple of months which gave me a pretty good overview of what was available in Haringey. Some opportunities are a lot better than others: one has to be discriminating. Alternatively I might consider going further afield, for instance to central London. Just mulling things over at the moment.

I’m supposed to be going down to my Mum’s today. I left Merlin down there with her, as I was considering going away, but now I have decided not to so I guess I’d better bring him back. Have to say Amber seems quite happy to have him off the scene for a while. Bit of peace and quiet, and she’s got me all to herself again.

I managed to write the letter to my son J and send it off but have still not managed to talk to the social worker for an update on how he is. I have repeatedly phoned and left messages but he has not been back to me.

I’m mildly low. But it’s nothing terrible. Everything is relative in life. I’ve suffered so badly with depression in the past, I really do know just how bad it can be. And also, I can see it as a necessary part of the whole process. The hypomania dragged on for so long and I wasn’t engaging with mundane (or consensus!) reality.

I won’t pretend I don’t get frustrated, or feel defeated, at times. First thing in the morning when I wake I wonder how I’ll get through the day. But getting vertical and taking on one task at a time, pacing myself, soon lifts the mood. I watch the insecure and fearful thoughts pass through my head but I do know them for what they are. Part of the condition, and not a sign of my impending doom.

Take care peeps. Lots of love, Zoe xxx

Downward Swing

My mood has started to bottom out over the last few days. It isn’t pleasant and there’s a fair bit of fear and insecurity that I am in for a nasty depressive episode. Regardless of whether one materialises, I am certainly coming into land, and reality bites after floating along on a tide of hypomania for months. I’ve got to start addressing mundane exigencies (blimey, is that a word?) like housework, shopping, exercising properly and looking after my health (starting with kicking the fags!)

The problem of what to do for work is a worry. I am not inclined to return to my voluntary admin work at a mental health charity but exactly what I will do instead is uncertain.

My birthday was OK, but my mood militated against full-on enjoyment and I am noticing that I am finding it harder to talk. Today at the DRA meeting I really struggled to share. I regret the loss of the communicativeness and flow I enjoyed before. I hoped I would avoid slumping into the customary depression this time around because I noticed a lot of experiences that were new to me (such as the shedding of emotional baggage and the clearer sense of boundaries with others).

Now I am just not so sure. Depression really sucks but I guess I need to accept these feelings as part of the whole process. Not let it bounce me into the customary volley of self-accusations but just watch what happens with a sort of studious curiosity.  Bloody hard though.

On the positive side, I need to connect back with my routines as I said in the last post. I already feel quite a lot less scattered and more capable of focusing on what needs to be done and this downward swing is helping me do that.  Planning on getting to grips with the housework over the course of this week. As long as I can still hang on to some motivation and energy I’ll hopefully get through it.

Seeing three friends tomorrow, one after the other. One wants help with writing a letter. Just hope I can focus enough to be able to help her.

I also urgently need to write a letter to my son. It’s been ages since I last wrote one and I just had the wrong sort of energy before. I got a card from him today, a day late.

I still love. I’m still loved. Depressed or not. And I have to remember that the current experience is no more and no less valid than what I felt last week or a month ago. Depression is no more or less true than mania. It’s about integrating and accepting the whole picture.

Hope this makes some kind of sense. Take care peeps. Love, Zoe xxx