I haven’t quite finished it yet but I’m still going to recommend that you read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. If you, like me, suffer from depression and anxiety you’ll recognise a lot of stuff. Even if you don’t I promise you you’ll still find it very very funny. It’s a win whatever. So do it. Do it now.
This morning I had my first psychotherapy appointment, with a very nice lady called Barbara. I arrived at Thorpe Coombe hospital just a handful of minutes early and plonked myself in a chair in the waiting room. I didn’t have to wait very long. We basically had a chat, I told her some stuff about myself and she asked the occasional very open-ended question. She explained that I have to go at the same time every week for the next year, with breaks at Christmas, Easter and in August, and that some of the sessions may be fairly traumatic. Hopefully those particular occasions will be relatively rare as I don’t want to have to take more time off work than is absolutely necessary. Anyway, I left feeling pretty positive about the whole experience, and looking forward to sorting myself out a bit. If anything happens that’s worth mentioning I shall, of course, record it here.
I went to see my doctor this morning and I have some good news to report. She’s agreed that shortly I should start reducing the dosage of my medication with a view to getting off it completely, which obviously pleases me very much. I certainly feel a lot better than I did, and have real hope that the worst of my depression is firmly behind me. It’s going to be good to get back to normality and to be able to enjoy the odd drink again.
Today I finally went back to work, hopefully permanently. I was given a nice simple task to ease me back into the swing of things, which was exactly what I needed. It felt good to take another step back towards a normal life.
After work I met my friend Paul for a nice meal before heading home, feeling surprisingly tired. This working for a living lark really takes it out of you.
This morning I went to see my GP again. She’s signed me off work for two more weeks, which I really feel will be beneficial. I then went off for my initial assessment with a psychiatrist. I arrived a bit early but fortunately he was free to see me pretty much straight away. He seemed like a really nice guy and someone who genuinely wants to help. After a long chat and a great deal of note taking, he told me that I’m definitely depressed, which is not exactly a surprise, and that I probably have a mood disorder, which is a fancy way of saying that my depression is long-term and needs treatment. He’ll be meeting with his team on Monday and discussing my case, but said that he feels I probably need some form of psychotherapy and possibly also CBT.
So I’m back at home with a couple of weeks to try and fill. I don’t think that’s going to be too hard. I have flat hunting to do, for a start.
I had another appointment with my GP this morning. I came away with a prescription for more of the same anti-depressants, advice to take a week off work (which I’m doing) and a promise of a referral to a psychiatrist. True to her word, later in the day I had a call from the local mental unit and, after a few questions to ascertain my level of need, I have an appointment with the psychiatrist next Friday. So, in the meantime I shall try to enjoy my week off and not get too down. I need to get out and about and see people in order to keep my mood from crashing, so that’s what I intend to try and do.
‘Public wellbeing’: the new approach to mental health.
The government’s New Horizons strategy is the next bold step for mental health policy. What is changing, and will politics allow it to work?
Interesting. I shall be keeping an eye on this to see how it all works out.
Just a quick update. I had an appointment with my GP last night. I filled in a questionnaire which indicates (surprise!) that I’m still depressed. She’s given me a list of conselling services and is going to refer me to one, which I’m really hoping will help. She’s also told me to keep taking the anti-depressants. So, basically, no real news. Things just continue as before.
I’ve been experiencing some mild side-effects from the tablets: queasiness and shaking hands. Fortunately they’ve subsided quite a bit from the initial peak and I’m pretty hopeful that they’ll more or less disappear in a short while. My determination to beat this is very strong right now, despite a bit of a bad weekend, thanks in no small part to the assistance of Jenni, who continues to be an amazing friend, and Jenny, whose patience seems almost unlimited.
Yesterday evening I went to the doctor regarding my depression, taking my friend Jenni along for moral support and because she’s good at asking awkward questions. Anyway, the doctor was very nice and very understanding and has prescribed antidepressants (Citalopram Hydrobromide) and is referring me for counselling. That’s pretty much what I wanted, so I really can’t complain. I’m going to pick up the tablets today, and I’ll let you know how I get on with them. I’m told they should start to kick in in two or three weeks, which isn’t too long to wait.
Interesting article in which the writer tries out the NHS’ new computerised Cognitive Behaviour Therapy system and finds that, while it’s no substitute for proper face-to-face sessions, it does have its uses.
This week is Mind Week, and this year the focus is on men’s mental health. Being a man (yes, I know – incredible as it may seem I am one), I know all too well how tough it can be to talk about feelings and to seek help if we have mental health problems or worries. It’s only very recently that I’ve been able to open up somewhat about my own problems. Indeed, this coming Friday I have an appointment with my GP, the first official step I’ve ever taken. I find myself very concerned about what treatment I may receive but even more concerned about what might happen to me if I do nothing.
Anyway, I hadn’t intended this post to be about me. What I wanted to say is simply that, whoever you are, if you have problems, seek help. It’s not wussy, it’s not whiny, it’s sensible.
It’s time for a small confession. This feels oddly like I would imagine coming out does. Anyway, here it is. I suffer from quite severe depression, and have for my entire adult life. In fact, it goes back even earlier than that, to my teens. I have, in the past, made an attempt at suicide which was stopped. I think about suicide a great deal, and have on occasion been to the brink of doing it. This is not an attempt at whingeing, and I’m not looking for sympathy here, I’m just stating some facts. It’s not my only mental health problem: I have mild OCD, for example, but it’s the one I’ve chosen to talk about here because it affects so many people. Yes, I do realise I’m not alone in this.
Fortunately for me I find myself surrounded by friends who are incredibly kind and supportive. I won’t name names here – they know who they are. I’ve rarely talked about it until fairly recently but things have changed. Events in my life have forced me to finally do something about it, which is one of the reasons for this post. My intention is to seek professional help and, I think, post about it here if I feel it might be useful, either for me or for someone else reading it. So, in amongst the usual stuff about what I’ve been up to and what I’m thinking about there’ll be some other stuff. Just ignore it if you’re not interested.