I have not been myself lately …

This year has been strange. And quite frankly, I really don’t know what’s going on at the moment. Some people who pay any attention to my blog will know that, unusually, I did not post for a week, and prior to that, my posts were generally photo submissions with a minimal amount of written text. Even now, my interest in writing this post is apathetic at best – but I need to put something down – for my own wellbeing.

In April, I weaned myself off a high dosage of Fluoxetine (Prozac) after realising that it wasn’t preventing me from falling into occasional phases of depression, and noticing that I had periods of high energy, agitation, irritation, spending sprees, and general craziness. It was suggested this placed me at least somewhere on the bipolar spectrum, and “cyclothymia” was tentatively diagnosed. The Prozac was stopped because, if it was indeed anything bipolar, then anti-depressants weren’t recommended.

While medication-less, I hit crisis level a few times – including a moment of stupidity resulting in a visit to the hospital – and I was fast tracked onto treatment designed to address mood instability. I started taking a daily dose of 50mg Seroquel on 13th April. This was increased to 100mg at a review on 2nd May, with the intention of futher monthly reviews until my medication is correct.

All seemed to be going reasonably well – agencies had become involved (and seemingly concerned) with me and my son, meetings were held, lip service was offered, and, more importantly, I went through a phase of “normality.” I thought I was cured! I thought I’d found the magic recipe for getting well! I went to my job and spoke to my line manager about returning to work the next week.

All was well!

Then the Crash happened. Three days after going to my job, my mood plummeted and has continued to dive lower and lower ever since. Day after day I find myself sobbing uncontrollably – no clue as to why – and hurting more than I have hurt in any distant memory. Anything can trigger the sorrow – memories, photos, a tiff with my son, an unexpected expenditure, a sarcastic word from a shop assistant. Irrational thoughts, paranoia, hyper-sensitivity become soul-consuming …. That bizarre craving to sit down in the middle of wherever I am (a busy street, my living room floor, the waiting room at the dentist, the bus station) has returned – and any energy I may have is drained in the effort required to stop myself from doing so.

And then there’s the numbness. That horrible dullness that pervades everything. That flattening monotone, monochrome aura that seeps into everything I try to do.   I do try – I really do. I signed up for Camp Nanowrimo a few weeks ago with the earnest intention of writing a 50,000 word novel during the month of June, but the words are so hard to come by. I’ve tried, but it’s hard to write humour when you’re not feeling humorous. I have still been catching the bus to town on Wednesdays so I can attend my Wellness WRAP meetings. I even went one morning to the local college to get my hair trimmed, thinking it would boost my mood a little. Between leaving the house and arriving at the college I  decided to chop it all off – so it’s gone.  Didn’t do a thing for my mood though.

I have now struggled with this nonsense for nearly three weeks, longer and deeper than I can remember in any recognisable memory. It sucks, it hurts, and it shouldn’t be happening. I’ve had to defer going back to work again, because, trust me, my job isn’t the type of environment for the weepy.

Soooo, I hear you say – it’s lucky all these agencies are involved with us now, hey?

Well, it appears the honeymoon period is well and truly over!

  • Psych – I was supposed to have been moved from the “minor” team to the “intensive” team after my moment of stupidity in April. But I am still “between teams” and therefore have no support worker, no mentor, and no real assistance. I have called six times in the last two weeks asking for my monthly review with the doctor as arranged, so I can let him know about this change … But I’ve received no appointment so far – although they were “kind” enough to send a prescription in the post.
  • School  – following Team Around a Child meeting, establishing my need for assistance in taking care of my son, an incident occurred at school. He and I had had a fight that morning, and he backlashed at a couple of teachers (one of whom, incidentally, had been at the TAC meeting). They responded by punishing him and then calling me and telling me to “deal with him.”
  • Social services – I have been told by no less than five different sources in the last three months that referrals have been made to Social Care about us. As yet, I have received zero phone calls from a Social worker.
  • CAMS –  Conversely, no referral has been made for family counselling for my boy and me, and when I went there in pieces the other day, I was sent away with an instruction to go back to my GP for a referral.
  • Icing on the Cake – After trying to explain how I am feeling to a member of my family, they profoundly suggested that I pull myself together because I’m going to “fuck up (my son’s) life.”

Trying to continue to “function” during this type of episode is a double-edged sword. I often wonder if the fact that I still force myself to get up in the morning, that I push myself to walk the dog, that I confine my tears and anguish to times when no one is around to see me,  that I call anonymous helplines rather than giving my name, that I don’t break down or cause a loud scene when I’m refused help … I wonder if that effort to stay strong and dignified in public causes me to slip through the net. I wonder if they see me quietly reading a book on a bus an think there’s no hurry to help me because I don’t look like a nutter.

I wonder if stoicism has been mistaken for wellness.

Well, I’m not well … and, quite frankly, I’m not sure how much longer I can keep up this chirade without somebody reaching back.

Categories: Alice's world, Just me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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20 thoughts on “I have not been myself lately …

  1. Patricia

    I hope you feel better soon – I write as I can relate to your condition. Keep taking your more than beautiful photos!

  2. Hello sweet woman. While reading your post, I knew every feeling you had – because I’ve FELT every feeling you are having. Psychiatrist thinks I have bipolar 2 b/c I have much more and deeper depression than the bipolar norm. Finally, doc put me on Wellbutrin & Lamactil (I get generic on both, tho). The mood stabilizer, unlike my other past meds, took a while to get into my system. The antidepressant helps the (often) breakthroughs of depression. I stayed in total suicidal depression for months.
    Honey, there is someone, a good psych – not a GP, who WILL be of great help to you. Speak up & make them listen until you have meds to make the awful lowness subside. It’s possible. I’m now out of bed, going back to school ibAugust, cooking meals for boyfriend & me, cleaning, planting herbs, and getting the swimming pool ready for summer use.
    I’ll never be like I once was. I now make unwise decisions & am too impulsive. One day, I’m happy. Another, blue. but I NEVER feel as desperate as I did before treatment!
    I moved recently and am trying to get a counselor I like.
    Hang in here with me & your other friends online. We love you & want you feeling good again.
    Write any time. You have my email address 🙂

    • Thank you for your support.I just need to get IN to see a psych and let him know about this change, I think. Getting the appointment is the tough bit though … they seem to have forgotten about me!

  3. Oh, {{{{Alice}}}}. I’m so sorry. I wish I had good advice to offer you, but I’m not a mental health expert and, from this western side of the Atlantic, I don’t know anything about how to cope with the British health system. I’m thinking about you and praying for you and hoping you get the help you need. If it helps to vent online, please don’t hesitate!

  4. I am so sorry. I think I would hit the next person who tells you to pull yourself together (no I am not a violent person but…)

  5. I mistakenly thought that as you weren’t posting it was because you were having a more settled period.. I am just catching up with blogs and posts. I am so sorry the system is letting you down ( though not at all surprised because I work in one of these Social Services systems as you know)
    Alice are you involved with Occupational Health? Can they advocate on your behalf?

    • Gosh, haven’t we come full circle?
      I seem to remember a similar conversation about Occ Health before!
      I will get in touch with them though – I’m so fed up with being off work… but we really need to sort this out.

  6. What can I say? I hope you get the right combination of meds and the help you need very soon. People who haven’t been thru depression say the stupidest things. Don’t give up. There WILL come a time when the bad phase passes. Remember what everydayclimb has said.

  7. If I could reach across the cyberwaves and with the touch of my hand, bring healing to your life, I would do so in a nanosecond. Don’t give up, persist, keep bugging everyone in the system. You deserve the best, you deserve to be well.

    • Thank you. The four-day Jubilee holiday weekend hasn’t made things any easier … but as soon as they all open up again tomorrow morning, I’ll be bugging them again 🙂

      • 🙂 I once threatened to sit in the reception area and sing Canada’s national anthem in two languages till I got the help I needed for my son! somehow that motivated the powers that be,

  8. DeeDee

    I get the impression that stoicism – or any other serious effort to hold things together – is almost always mistaken for wellness. Delays in diagnosis, failure to address major symptoms, etc, all because I’m “high functioning.” They don’t see me when I’m at home alone all day trying to work and can’t stop crying for more than a half hour at a time.

  9. It goes against my nature to make a scene and/or give in to the illness and become some vegetative blob of a person. But, I’m starting to wonder if I should just give up fighting it.
    After all, help is not forthcoming as long as I’m still standing.

  10. I’m so sorry about all this … and I’ve missed you.

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