Monday, November 3, 2008

Living with a mental illness

I have just moved all the furniture around in the living room and now that I have a minute thought I would do a post about living with a mental illness.

Now I have only officially been mental since May when I was reffered to the Crisis team and then on to a community mental health team. Initially I was diagnosed with post natal depression as I had my son June 2007, I believe they then decided it was perhaps just depression and now possibly manic depression. I say perhaps as they don't like to give labels and my diagnosis is still up in the air. So I realise I perhaps am new to this living with mental illness, however like many of us out there my brush with the services has led me to many hours of research and I have spent a lot of time since on the internet reading blogs, of service users, of MH profesionals of relatives etc hoping for some answers and thinking knowledge is power etc. So what I write is my experience and also what I have learned from this research.

Since May I have taken I think six overdoses, I have tried the Citalopram, Mirtazapine, Sertraline all at various levels and all failed to lift my depression, I have had been prescribed, Zopiclone, Temazapam and zolpidem which all have failed to help me sleep and I now on Sodium Valporate (Depakote) which is a mood stabilizer-No effect seen at moment. I have tried returning to work and failed and have not worked since May. I was with the Crisis team for ten weeks and now see a Social worker who is my CC every week so it has been a busy five/six months.

Living with a mental illness is not glamorous. not sleeping, not knowing if I will have the energy to open the curtains today or will have that much energy will hop on a train to the capital for a few days. Having to hide the scars on my arm and when I forget to do that being told I am disgusting or worse being looked at with patronising pity. Having to come up with reasons to live when every inch of my body and mind screams for me to have the guts to put an end to this. Watching as one by one my friends stop calling or visiting because either they can't handle my moods, or don't know what to say, or that I am no longer the friend I was. Realising how much pain I am causing the poeple close to me but not being able to stop it.

From my blog hopping a common theme is the lack of understanding from people who can't see what we suffer as an illness. 'I often read 'If I had a broken leg it would be different'. Well it would be, for a start people wouldn't expect that you would be able to just carry on as normal, allowances would be made, people would rally round, you wouldn't have nurses telling all you needed was positive thinking and a bit of exercise and you would be ok, or people requesting you snap out of it. And yet sadly, mental illness can be life threatening, unlike a broken leg. I have always considered myself to be a fairly intelligent person, I did very well at school, college and studied law at university before working in family law, but none of this matters any more as the general consensus seems to be that if you have a mental illness you somehow lack basic intelligence. I say this because despite never missing an appointment with CMHT when I see the shrink, she writes it down, she reminds me, their receptionsit rings me day before, and the receptionsit rings on the day.I think people confuse people with mental illness and those with a learning disability.

For me, the worse thing is not being able to plan for the future as things that were achievable are no longer realistic. Because I am 26 and fairly young, and have always been a high achiever and carear orientated I am frustrated that I don;t know what the future holds for me. I don't believe I can ever go back to law, firstly, because the stress would be too much, and secondly the law society doesnt view mental illness favourably and I would now probably be considered unstable to practice. I am currently on sick leave from part time work at a call centre and returning last month I feel even that is above my capability. If I was 60 and had already had a succesful carear I don't think I would resent this impact as much.

In short life with a mental illness ranges for me from a very restricted life to no life at all. I suppose I can take comfort in the fact that had I lived in victorian times I would probably be in an asylum for the rest of my life. It is late or early so I unable to concentrate anymore, will finsih there.


Mandy said...

Hi Lareve

Thanks for sharing so much of what has been happening for you since you got ill.

I started to write about illness not being something that creates itself. It is kind of an integral part (or a reactive part) of our lives.I don't believe people suddenly get ill for no other reason than biological. Maybe I am wrong in that but I don't care if I am because my experience is that people with illness have often had things happen to them. Mega traumatic things that have messed about with the pysche.

And no tablet is going to make that go away. That is not to say that tablets don't ease things...some people live a better quality of life through taking medication and good on them for that. But as a 'answer' to illness they fall very short.

Anyway gone off at a tangent there. I have come to terms with my illness only because after many years, I stopped listening to the hype and realised that I have cycles, reoccurring patterns and also continual stressors that only serve to perpetuate my already quite fragile state.

But my situation is no-one else's. I don't believe that because the tablets don't work for me they won't help others and I don't believe everything is hopeless. If I did, I wouldn't be here now.

I have had to downsize my life in order to survive but I think people need to find their own way through and looking at other blogs is positive because other people's experiences can sometimes show similarities and, for sure, you and me are not the only 2 people with mental illness.

You might get on a level and go back to work. It is early days. Nothing is concrete but there are possibilities.

I am going to make a possibility a reality and make myself a cuppa decaf now. Heck I might even have some Rich Tea biccies with it. Sometimes, i am too damn wild!!! :>)


La-reve said...

Hi Mandy

Thanks for such a thoughtful and lengthy response. I guess coming to terms with my illness and knowing that I have to downsize to cope with things is where I am at. Just so difficult when I want to do everything I used to and not in two three years now. Anything less to me is just not worth it.


Feathers said...

Some of what you say sounds so much like myself. Very good post.

Leaving abuse found myself first time in severe/chronic depression immobilised, was awful to put it mildly, anxiety and so on, was put on medication......went through one and half years of regaining my energy working at it, only to nosedive into overdosing, self harm, all of August, September,part October, the overdoses made me so spaced out, plus was drinking 1 - 2 litres of vodka a day....not good at all, now back on the straight, but depression is back just as it was before. Unable to live a normal daily life, sleeping loads, no energy and so on....a lot of your post reminded me of myself the frustration of it all, the illness has it affects daily life, the inability to do all you wish, finding yourself labelled as mentally ill. :)

Now trying hard to make plans, solutions,am under CMHT, ABS, and so on like you state....the last time was sectioned when overdosed and made informal few days later....

my own personal view is the tablets dim the pain, they do help, especially as now am awaiting to be put back on them (due to overdoses they have to wait until stable)....they will not give you medication if you overdose.

They took a long time to work but on reflection now i can state that without them, actually went cold turkey after one year and half to see if they worked, totally regretted it, as plummeted straight back into the depression/anxiety that had when first walked into Doctors.

It was then knew for certain they had worked, although it did not seem so, found out they most certainly did, and perhaps had helped me to regain my energy to a level where daily life was becoming easier. Regretted not following my Doctors advice not to stop them.

Hope that helps somewhat. Would state that they do help,just the depression can be severe, from my own personal experience.

Tablets are not the whole answer, but they can help, as have experienced, coming to terms and accepting the illness is a big one, especially when faced with having to downsize and not being able to do all you wish.

Somehow you can do so, just it takes time, if you can reach/achieve small targets that is encouraging, know, yeah it seems like is this what are you reduced too, but if you look at it day by day, you can do anything for a day, don't look at the big picture, take it by the day, that way you will win more.

It can be hell :), certainly is no fun at all, but you can make it, you can reach a level from this to working again and so on....just its that time factor.

Because of what i did, somewhat back at square one, but all the wiser for it, hopefully.

La-reve said...

Hi Feathers

Thanks for response and reading you say:

'Tablets are not the whole answer, but they can help, as have experienced, coming to terms and accepting the illness is a big one, especially when faced with having to downsize and not being able to do all you wish.'

Again I accept that what you say is right. just putting it into practice. I'm glad you can relate to my post though:) will stop by your blog when get chance .

Lareve x

amy said...

Hi there . . .
I see that we both have "Starry Starry Night" pics up. Did you know Van Gogh dealt with major depression, too?


La-reve said...

Yes I am aware - Manic depression I think but I just like the way he paints really and the imagery