2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Category: Depression

Being a strong person

I have always considered myself to be a strong person, and fairly confident. Always being a bit of a loner, doing things my way without being too concerned about other people’s opinions.

Fast forward to when I had my breakdown, I felt anything but strong or confident. I felt mainly that I was a failure and good for nothing. Looking at it now, how on earth did it get to that point?

The job

I will always hold work accountable for this to a large extent. Obviously you can argue that I should have left and sought alternative employment before it got to that point, however I got so stuck in my thoughts that the only way was to continue working where I was. Needless to say, I had gotten to such a bad place that there simply was no alternative, and I simply did not have the energy to do anything about it. I kept thinking that it will get better, I will get there, give it time and the job will change and I will be happy at work again. Right, well it does not work that way, does it?

Banging your head against a brick wall

When you do a job where you work against your beliefs then this grinds you down. Being a police officer can be a very good job, and I did thoroughly enjoy it the first few years. It is when you cannot do the job for which you signed up for but continue to bang your head against the brick wall that this starts to wear you down. In my case it meant I went from a happy and strong person to someone good for nothing who just cried all the time. We are all different and I know a lot of very good police officers who are really good at their job and really enjoy it. For all of those, I know as many who are on a slippery slope to depression, anxiety and mental health issues, if not there already. So although there were other things that brought this on in my case, the police service as a whole has an awful lot to answer for.

A strong person

Ever since I started my journey with mental health issues, I have struggled with a lot of things. One of the big things was thinking: ”I am a strong person, how on earth did this happen to me?”. Probably also coupled with: “I can’t believe this is happening to me”. I also did not know what was happening, other than crying all the time.

Help

Going to the GP helped in some ways, with time off and getting medication. I was put on the waiting list for the community mental health team. Hearing that the waiting time was two to three months, Helen took matters into her own hands and found a private psychologist for me to contact to arrange talking therapy sessions. Within a couple of weeks, I set off for my first appointment. Needless to say, this made me even more anxious. I told the psychologist what had brought me to the session, and she told me about depressive illness. She also said this is something that happens to strong people. When I heard that, I cried again and more. I felt such a relief. I am a strong person!

The limbic system

The counsellor told me about something called the limbic system (for a fuller explanation of what this is, please read more here).
She explained the limbic system is the control centre of most processes in the body, including temperature, sleep, hormones and keeping your mood at a steady level. Imagine the limbic system as a fuse box: when it gets overloaded, the fuse blows. Stress is the most common cause of overload . Lazy people do not get depressive illness, simply because they do not do enough work. Strong people just keep on going until something breaks. When she told me all of this, it all made sense. This was crucial in my recovery.

Self loving

To all you lovely people out there whose confidence has taken a knock and you feel down in the dumps, please know that there is a way out of it. You need to start loving yourself and be as nice you yourself as you are to those around you. Start by saying no, exercise, be outside in the sun, and eat well. Also take time to do the things you love, especially if you no longer do them.

More importantly, if you cannot cope on your own then you must ask for help. There are many people and places who can help you. Know that you are not alone. Please let me know if I can help.

-Rosita

Time for reflection

The last couple of years have been an emotional roller coaster to say the least. I have had help from various people and professionals around me, all with their specific purpose at the time. As you might have seen in a previous post, I decided I needed to reach out again and ask for help (read this blog here).

CBT

I have now started counselling and CBT, and I am excited about both. This is very personal to me, but I also feel that I want to share some parts of it as I believe that is important. I had a long chat with the CBT therapist about all events leading up to the juice-incident (read about this here) and this caused me again to put in to words how I felt. I believe (in my non-professional opinion) that my anxiety took over a long time ago, leading to a downward spiral of negative thinking which then literally made me depressed. When I initially made contact with the CBT clinic there was an assessment with lots of questions about how I felt. The therapist gave me feedback on this, and the score for anxiety was by far greater than depression. To me that makes a lot of sense, and also confirms how I feel. The aim is that she will provide me with tools for dealing with my anxiety, and this is very exciting.

Counselling

The counselling is a talking therapy, and it is different from the one I had previously. As the counsellor pointed out, and that I had not thought of, it was more looking at tools to help me get through the day. What we are hoping to do now is getting to the bottom of why I feel the way I do. He is a nice guy and I feel comfortable speaking to him. It is difficult too at times. I realise I’ve spent the last few years not really thinking about things, or reflecting. I have simply just existed if that makes sense. One reason for this is that it is the easiest thing to do. But it does not mean that it is healthy. I’m very good at not talking and bottling things up, however that is all changing now.

Stand up for myself

There are a few things I really want to work with for myself. The one thing that stands out right now is that I always feel that I have to go along with what other people say and do, that I find it so difficult to stand up for myself and say “you know, that does not actually suit me right now”, or “I don’t agree with with that”. I feel that doing or saying anything that rocks the boat is just so difficult, so difficult that I just agree with what people say. That in itself is clearly not healthy. I feel it is certainly a huge factor contributing to me feeling the way I do. When you constantly do and say what others do or say, or expect you to do, then it’s easy to understand that I feel that I’ve lost myself along with all confidence and self-esteem. Again, this is something which is difficult to talk about, but then I feel that I should. This feeling is not based on what others expect of me, which is a nice little learning example. I also feel that by writing this down, I become more committed.

So there we are. If I was to give you one piece of advice, it would be to speak up for yourself and do what is good for you. Do not bottle it up.

Keep moving

I am looking forward to continuing my journey towards a happier self. That is what it is, a journey. I feel I was stationary for quite a while and I am now moving again. And speaking of moving, it is time to put my trainers out and head out for an outdoor gym session with the other spud this morning. It is raining but that’s fine too.

I hope you all have a good week. Please feel free to get in contact if anything here has bothered you, or if you feel that it has been good to read about my experiences. This journey is not a book with precise directions on how to get better, we can all learn from each other!

-Rosita

Heads up…. a post on antidepressants

I saw this article “Sertraline: Antidepressant works ‘by reducing anxiety symptoms first” on BBC and I find it very interesting. Sertraline is the antidepressant I take. Apparently it reduces anxiety first then depression weeks later. Have a read of the article here.
All I can say that it works for me, and it did just that.

Antidepressants

I never in a million years thought I would be taking antidepressants but there you have it. I started taking them and I went from crying almost non-stop every day to going days without crying. The relief was immense! As I’m sure some of you know, this constant crying is so tiring and draining. It also certainly does not make you any less depressed. I can only speak for myself but this was my experience. Once my anxiety levels went down, I was in a better place to work on everything else. When you are too anxious you’re in a constant fight or flight mode. Like my counsellor said, with medication my brain was able to calm down and process information which ultimately started helping my recovery.

My advice

I will say this: if a professional (not me, your colleagues or the check out lady in your local supermarket) recommend that you start taking medication then you should seriously consider doing just that. I had mine for a couple of weeks in a drawer in the bathroom before I actually started taking them. Having now been on them for quite some time, I believe I am highly functioning again, and working on getting back to how I was before this all took over. We also changed where we lived and got a new job, which also helped with getting better. But I do not believe that it would have been as successful as it is if it wasn’t for the medication.

-Rosita

Building a shelf

The fact that I want to build a shelf makes me happy. Please, just hear me out. To me it shows how far I’ve come on my road to recovery, which is what this is all about.

Last year

A lot of things happened last year. Big things. We moved from London to outside of Glasgow, we both changed jobs and in my case, this was a complete change of career. Not sure it is a career as such, but it is a job I thoroughly enjoy, for now. Especially on a day like today when it’s warm, the sun is shining, I’m currently sitting outside in the garden typing this with both a beer and a coffee as well as my spud (Helen for those of you who are wondering). But I digress.
Last year was truly awful in a lot of ways, although a lot of good things came from it. I can see that now. It clearly shows how sometimes you really must go through the bad stuff to appreciate the good.

Medication

Looking back at the beginning of 2018, I was on sick leave and temporarily in Scotland. This was because Helen had gotten a job here, and I was not in a state to be left alone. During the first few months, I was a wreck. I kept crying and was very anxious about everything, constantly making mountains out of nothing. I felt I was not capable of doing anything at all. The one big thing I had to do over this period was to get another job. It had become apparent that the main cause for me getting to this state in the first place was due to work. So, I needed to find another job. Now when you are constantly crying and believe you are good for just about nothing then this becomes very difficult. Things got worse and I decided to go to the doctor and ask for anti-depressant medication. This was something we had talked about before, but I did not want to go down that line, as I felt I was not sick, that such medication is for sick people.

How wrong was I!

I took my first anti-depressant one evening in February last year, and it’s safe to say that this changed things. The next day there were no tears. I can’t really describe the relief I felt from this, that I did not cry so much, that I didn’t have to keep pacing up and down when I felt down because the tears stopped straight away. Now this doesn’t mean that this was it, the solution to everything. It did mean though however that I could start my long road to recovery. So much energy is wasted when you keep crying and the brain stays in its chaotic state and keeps feeding the bad thoughts.

A typical day

Up to this point, my normal day looked like this: Wake up, have breakfast, shower, go for a walk if I felt I could, eat lunch (which was either cooked for me or was something quick and easy from the supermarket which did not involve cooking), sleep in the afternoon, perhaps read something or listen to some music, then dinner which was the same setup at lunch and then off to bed. This is all I felt I could do. I did not have any energy for anything else. Nor did I want to do anything else. For a few months this was my every day, and it was hard for me as well as everyone around me. I kept a diary where I wrote everything down, as I could not retain any information. If it was not written down, it would not happen.

Fast forward

Now, just over a year later, I am doing so much better. I am working full time and managing a few sessions in the gym too every week. Over the last month or so I have been constructing my greenhouse and filling it up with things. Not only green things, but table, chairs and so on. My indoor plant collection has grown and although Helen is very nice about it, I do not want to upset her further by letting the plants take over (around 40 and counting). Therefore, I have decided to make a plant shelf. This involves getting the wood, sawing and filing and drilling and sanding and everything else. I saw one I really liked, as does Helen, so I’m going to make a prototype. It won’t be perfect but in a lot of ways it will still be fantastic. What I love about all of this is that I want to do all these things. I have so much energy now to do all of it, although not enough time in the day. Having spent a ten-hour day of physical work, I come home and continue with everything I need and want to do.

I want to build a shelf

This is in progress now, and I wish there was more time, but that is ok. I have made such great progress: I feel so much better and I know it will all get better still. It is important to give yourself time when you are not feeling well. Having gone through all of it over the last year really puts things into perspective, and I do spend some time reflecting on where I was and how far I’ve come. I’m beginning to feel more back to my old self, I still have ways to go but I’m getting there. My greenhouse is up, my shelf is in progress, we have plans for some time away and as well as everything else we are involved in with 2 Spuds in a Pod.

Life is good

It has its up and downs, but we also would not appreciate the good stuff if we have not been through the bad stuff. I feel I have a lot of experience that I am willing to share, to help break the stigma of mental health. We all suffer, and we need to talk about it more, men more so than women. I am always here and always willing to listen and advice. There is nothing to be ashamed of.  

-Rosita

How to be a good friend to someone who has depression

Some very good and relevant information here. Know that continued efforts to stay in contact can be what keeps a person going, even if they don’t feel that they can say yes that often. Also, if you are that person, don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell your friend(s) how you really feel.

See the full article here (Metro.co.uk).

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