Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My mind

It's taken a few months to start talking about this topic and feeling comfortable about talking about it.  Before, it was horrible and embarrassing and - I felt like I was revealing my private parts to people and not even knowing what they were called.

Now that I know what's been going on I want to pass on my experience - and maybe help someone who's having a hard time.

Beware...I'm going to get all emotional on your ass.

So for over a year I've been having some issues... in my mind.

It's been a pattern of good days and bad days for a very long time - and I know everyone has good days and bad days but these bad days were.... bad.

Two to four days each week I would feel panicky, zombie-like, uber chatty around other people, appetite all over the place, sleep bad, didn't enjoy normal things.  You want more?  I couldn't sense my intuition, couldn't concentrate on reading, felt weird around even my best of friends, hearing went funny, spacial awareness weird, heart would race with worry at the littlest thing, felt scared to drive, even my drawing style changed.

So all in all.... not myself.

There were triggers, but they evolved over time.  The triggers were the craziest part of it and I got caught up sometimes trying to avoid triggers and then question whether I had avoided them or not and whether people were noticing my crazy mood swings.  The triggers were sometimes physical things like my keyboard or smells or even clothes.  And this whole time, I didn't tell anyone...

I thought I was going crazy.

But unlike something like a rash or a broken bone or swollen gland, something in your mind generally isn't noticeable to other people - and is therefore very difficult to take into the doctors and say; "This hurts, what is it?" It's embarrassing and - is it even real? And then I would have a good day and think, nah, it's nothing.

And the problem with making doctors appointments is - you generally have to book them a few days in advance. So I just never felt justified making an appointment for something that I couldn't even put into words, let alone build up the courage to tell someone about.

In December, while at the doctors for something else, I finally told my GP I thought I had something wrong with my brain.  She sent me for a course of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy which took me through a number of steps, helping me to document what I was feeling and slowly tell other people what was happening in my head.  If I'm honest I actually went along to most of the sessions thinking yes I'll do this but there's still something wrong with my brain.  But the course guided me through each step of getting this thing out of my head and onto paper, and making it real.  It lead me to tell my very caring and loving boyfriend, who I was terrified would either tell me I was being silly and making something up - or be hurt that I had kept it from him.  It lead me to speak to other people I knew who had suffered mental health problems.  And I spoke to my family and told them what I was dealing with.  Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with how kind and supportive everyone was.  My brother in law in particular opened up to me and told me about his experience with anxiety and depression.  When I explained these feelings I was having to him and he said they were all normal although I still thought what I had was probably something much worse I felt better having vocalised some of the feelings I hadn't ever put into words before.

At the end of the CBT course although I was still having a few bad days a week I had identified that I was suffering from anxiety and depression and went back to the doctors, with my boyfriend, with a list of all of my feelings.  (Through some tears) we discussed medication and although I was reluctant and still pretty certain I had something wrong with my brain, I started taking it in February.

My first week on citalopram I felt hyperactive and couldn't sleep - I mean could. not. sleep.  It actually increased my paranoia and made me reallllly chatty and wired.  I didn't like it and almost stopped taking it - but aforementioned supportive boyfriend (fiancee) told me to push on with it and sure enough, after a week, one day, at run club, I realised:  I felt like myself.
And the next day I felt like myself.
And the next day, I felt like myself.
I had a whole week of feeling like myself
and another whole week of feeling like myself.

It was the biggest relief and the best thing was I stopped worrying, or even thinking, about having a bad day.

What I noticed right away was my sleep had come back.  I was sleeping peacefully and would wake feeling refreshed.  Thinking back to October of last year, when I spent the night before my birthday literally awake all night and my actual birthday in a pretty bad place.  I hadn't told anyone at that point and just kept it to myself - feeling responsible for the way I felt.  So, it was so wonderful to have my sleep back.

It's taken a while to put all of this into perspective.  I have had a few hiccups since starting on the medication and have actually gone up in dosage because when I got back from Paris I started having a few bad days again.  But I wanted to put it on my blog, in case there is anyone feeling like they have something wrong with their brain.  It has taken me a little while to feel comfortable saying that I suffer from anxiety and depression because although I did feel bad on my bad days (anxiety, feeling low, scared, paranoid, irritable, and generally not enjoying the usual things I would normally enjoy like running, reading, watching a funny film) I'm generally not a 'depressed' person. I have a really healthy lifestyle, eat well, have loads of hobbies, love my job, have a lovely apartment and boyfriend and fact there's nothing I can think of that makes me UN-happy.  I'm generally full of beans and excited about life and have a job that I'm super passionate about.  I wouldn't ever choose to sit about and feel sorry for myself or sad or down - I don't have time!  Yes I get stressed or annoyed when something goes wrong but so does everyone.  What I've learnt is that anxiety and depression is something chemical - an imbalance that is beyond my control.

Likewise these tablets don't make me happy or high or give me a false sense of my emotions.  They just make me feel - like myself.

So I wanted to just say - that if you are stuck in a crazy cycle and worried there's something weird going on in your head - speak to someone about it.  Speak to me.  Speak to your doc. Speak to Mind. It's not something you have to carry around with you like a little demon, it's not something you own or are responsible for.  Believe me I spent a long time carrying these feelings around everywhere, they are nasty and I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemies.  I'd much rather have a terrible cold or a bad stomach or even a sore leg.  (And you know I need my legs!)

This blogpost may have been more than you bargained for - you might think I'm crazier than you already thought I was! But I wanted to explain how I felt - in my own way - because I know this time last year if I'd have read about someone else thinking there was something wrong with their brain I might have spoken to someone a lot sooner than I did.


  1. Such an honest and enlightening post, friendo.

    I struggled on and off with severe anxiety and OCD for most of my late twenties. Like you, I didn't really talk to anyone about it at first as I wasn't sure what was going on and I was scared of their reaction - maybe they'd think I was mad?

    I slowly learned that talking - letting people know what was going on - was the best decision I made. It sounds like it was also the best decision for you, too.

    I'm so glad your wrote this, so that other people out there, who are feeling the same way and are confused by what's going on, know that they're not alone in it all.

    Glad to hear that you're moving on through, you're fucking awesome and I was really chuffed to meet you on Sunday!

    Liz x

  2. You're great, and this post was very brave.

  3. Thanks for sharing. You are definitely not alone!
    Like Sunday girl said: You're awesome!

  4. Thank you for sharing. You are brave and intelligent. I take citalopram too, but for anxiety and depression directly related to my period. I get it only during PMS, so I take the pills for one week a month and they are really really helping.

  5. You'd put this into words so beautifully and I'm glad you shared it. It's a really honest account of what you've been through and I loved reading it xx

  6. Thank you for opening up to a big ole world of strangers who love you nonetheless! We're crazy like that. Big hugs to you and continued (virtual) support. Much love! xxx

  7. You're awesome, both for the strength and grace you've shown in getting through this, and the courage you've had to write about it. I'm glad to hear you're feeling better xx

  8. Beautifully written even though it's a tough experience to go through. I've just recently been on citalopram for a year and it totally helped me to get back to "me" and I'm happy to read that it's working for you too :)

  9. Just discovered your blog and came across this linked to your wedding post :) Simply, beautifully expressed. I've had depression and anxiety struggles, most notably a few years ago. A course of citalopram and 2 years of talking therapy really helped. Both are scary but I'm so grateful for a good doctor and an even better therapist to help me work it through. And it does get better. Love Boggy xxx