Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Going round in circles

Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever learn.  My spiral into my most recent depression was accelerated by having a lot on at work, feeling stressed and just taking on more and more work in order to prove to people I could do it.   In the end I just couldn’t do everything, I worried about letting people down, I worried that they would think less of me, they would realise I was as rubbish as I knew I was.  So I just had to keep working to hide the fact that underneath I was rubbish.   In the end I would work all day and all evening.  I had to take an hour out to put my daughter to bed, I would then lie on her bedroom floor crying because I couldn’t work out what to do next and how to get out of the hole I was in.   In the end I got out as when I got signed off work, and finally quit my job and took what is meant to be a less stressful role.  Severe depression called for some drastic steps.

So now to the present day, I’m in the new job.   I can see the cycle repeating, I am volunteering to take on lots of work, I want to show everyone I can do well.   However, I’m starting to reach that point where I have too much to, I’m not quite sure how it’s going to get done in the time I have available.   But this time I am conscious of the cycle and I can see the way its heading, so I can try and stop it before the problem beyond repair.   I’ve been reading about mindfulness, so I try to stop and think about what I am doing and how I can get out of the circle.  Unlike last time, I now ask for help.  Other people want to be involved and are happy to help, so it might not be a negative mark against me to ask.   I beginning to realise I don’t have to do it all on my own.  Maybe at times I can learn.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Judge, jury and executioner

I never used to think I was a judgmental person.  I like to think I’m a nice, liberal, open-minded, Guardian reader.  But I worry continually that people are judging me, they judge me on my weight, on my hair, clothes, what I say, how I sit, what car I drive…………………  Do I think they are judging me because I am judging them?

Mostly I worry that people think I’m stupid and useless.   I’m pretty convinced that that because I’m fat, people automatically think I’m stupid and lazy.   If I’m dressed badly then I’m lazy and slovenly.  Everyone on the tube judges me, everyone at work judges me, my clients judge me.   Or at least I think they do.

But talking this through I might not be being completely rational.  I don’t judge everyone like this.  I’ll be honest, I make some snap judgments, but even when I do I’ve forgotten about them moments later and they are of no consequence.   Therefore maybe not everyone is judging me, they’ve probably got better things to think about.   People may not equate fat with stupid, badly dressed may not equal lay and if I’m really looking on the bright side, I may not even be badly dressed anyway.

I need to stop worrying about what other people think of me, and start focussing on what is more important and what I want to do.  But that can be easier said than done.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

An open letter - bullying in the workplace

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  It’s because I’ve been busy and life is generally going well.   I’ve started a new job, which seems good so far.  However, it has made me reflect on a previous job that didn’t go so well.  I was bullied in the work place, I ended up in a very bad place, on Prozac and thoroughly destroyed internally; it took a lot to get back from that.  I have discussed this with my therapist, she suggested I write a letter to perpetrators to tell them how I felt, how they made me feel.  I’ve not been able to do this to date, but I’m feeling stronger now so here goes.

Dear M&M

You will never read this letter, you will never know how you made me feel.  I doubt I even cross your mind, and I’m sure you are not aware of how you destroyed me.  You both think you are good and decent people, and I was just a hysterical woman who was bad at her job.

It has taken me over 7 years to get over this.  Everyday I hated going into that job, I used to spend Sunday afternoon’s on my bed crying because I didn’t want to go in.  I seriously considered crashing my car so I could be signed off work for a few weeks and not have to face it.   The only reason I didn’t do it was that I couldn’t work out how to crash the car and break my legs, but not be more seriously injured.  I didn’t want to die, I just didn’t want to go to work.   That was a ridiculous way to work and live, especially when it got to the point that I used to cry in the toilets at work.

Looking back,  I think we all just entered into a vicious downward cycle.  You criticised me; you always told me what I was doing wrong; you treated me like an idiot and talked down to me when it wasn’t necessary; you disappeared off for meetings without telling me what was going on.   The more you undermined me, the more I lost confidence and then the worse I started to perform.   The criticisms you made started to become valid, I doubted myself, I worked more slowly, I questioned the work I did.  

And then you all stopped speaking to me, I found that to be the worse thing.  I was in work for days on end and no-one spoke to me.  Literally no-one on my team would even say good morning or goodbye, I had to ask why you didn’t like me, what I had done to turn you against me.  To this day I don’t know the answer to that.  You seemed like decent people, slightly geeky and awkward, but decent.

In the end I complained about the bullying and I got fired.  No-one ever believed me, I started to wonder if it was all in my head, I agreed that I must have been rubbish, which is why I was ignored and why I was fired.  You thoroughly destroyed my confidence, until that point there were many things I doubted about myself, but my intelligence and ability to do my job wasn’t one of them.   The one thing I thought I was good at was job.  I’d always thought I might not be sporty, I might not be good at art, I might not be thin, but I am clever.   You convinced me I wasn’t clever, therefore I was nothing, I had nothing, I had no positives. 

You ought to know that in the year after I was fired, it often took a lot of strength to get out of bed, to talk to people, to face friends and family, because I was a big fat failure.    I have to thank a friend to whom I am eternally grateful, after I collapsed in tears all over her in the pub one evening and she as good as frogmarched me into the doctors for a diagnosis of depression and subsequent treatment.   But I was no longer me, I lost my confidence, my sense of humour, I was even unable to order from a menu for fear of making the wrong decision.

But what I have now learnt is that you were wrong, I’m not stupid, I am good in my job.    In the last 7 years, I have been promoted, I have significantly increased my salary, I have had consistently good feedback and reviews from managers, peers and more recently from teams I have managed.    Sometimes I still don’t believe them, sometimes I still worry that secretly everyone still thinks I am rubbish.  If I get called into an unexpected meeting with my senior management I still break out into a cold sweat, start shaking and worry that I am going to get my marching orders.   But I really should look at the statistics, I’ve once been hauled into a room unexpectedly and fired, I’ve been in a room with a manager countless times and not been fired.

It has taken a long time to get me back, and there have been blips, but I am back, you have not beaten me.  I don’t think that was ever your intention, I’m not sure you ever had any deliberate intentions in any of this, but there were just a lot of unintended consequences of your behaviour, which was thoughtless, ignorant and at times cruel.

I’ve no idea where you are now, or what you are doing, but if I’m honest I don’t wish you luck, I don’t want anything bad to happen to you, but let’s be frank I don’t want you to have the most amazing life ever, just managing like the rest of us will do me fine.

In the mean time, I’m back, I’m stronger and it will take more than 2 weak men to break me this time.


Monday, 18 July 2011

Story corner

This is short story I wrote, it's the first time I've ever "published" my writing, I'd love to know what you think.

At last, everyone’s gone.  I’m on my own.  I have to go upstairs and get out of this uncomfortable suit.  I’ve always hated wearing this kind of thing.  It’s too hot, too scratchy and I hate wearing black.  Having said that I wear black a lot, it’s smart and appropriate, just what I’m meat to be.  

It’s been a long day finally, I have a few minutes to myself sitting in my armchair.   The chair dominates the bedroom, it doesn’t match anything else here, but I love it.   It’s the one thing I own that really reflects me, as it’s a little bit too big, a little bit scruffy and not smart enough for its surroundings.

Everyone’s been lovely today, I’ve got great friends who would do anything for me.  I feel so ungrateful for just wanting to be on my own.  I could just stay within these four walls here on my chair and never see any of them again.  Never swap recipes; compare notes on that fabulous place in Tuscany; gossip about the cheeky wink from the new tennis coach at the club.  I know their lives are as imperfect as mine, but you must never let it show.  Like I said they would do anything for you, Sarah lends her husband to Rebecca for after dinner entertainment.   Rebecca reciprocates with a steady supply for class A drugs.  Harry will give anyone the number of his stockbroker, gardener or favourite hooker in Mayfair.   David loves, I mean loved his friends.  He always said he like living here because the neighbours were our sort of people.  

“David, beloved husband, friend and neighbour,”  I’m sure that’s what they said in the church today.  They said so many nice things about him.  Thinking about David makes me cry.  Crying is good, it’s want I’m meant to be doing, it’s a proper emotion.   Finally the emotions I’m supposed to feeling are coming through.  Feeling relief, feeling safe wasn’t right, I wasn’t meant to feel like that.   David would be please I’m being appropriate again.  He didn’t like it when I broke the rules of suburbia.  I never quite knew what the rules were meant to be, but somehow everyone else did.  To start with David loved the fact I wasn’t an average suburban housewife, as he always put it.  But over time he started telling me I should be more like Rebecca and Sarah, they knew how to behave.   He seemed to think that I was wrong deliberately and just wanted to annoy him and how him up.  I tried to be proper, I really tried to right in and do as he wanted, but it seemed as if the rules kept changing.   My skirts became longer, my shoes became lower and more sensible, lower heels meant I was less likely to fall over if I had annoyed David.   The cardigans meant I could cover up the bruises and be appropriate.  The bruises on my back always seemed to take longer to clear. Sometimes my make up wasn’t right, but it’s hard to put on mascara with a broken wrist.   He used to tell me he didn’t mean it.  He wouldn’t do it if I hadn’t done something wrong.  If I had got things right in the first place, then he wouldn’t get angry.  His anger, at last I’m free of his anger.   The feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach is slowly disappearing.  I’ll never forget the look in his eye when he lost control, the moment he changed from David, the upstanding pillar of the community to David, judge, jury and frequently executioner. 

But now I’m free, I can be wrong whenever I want, or whenever it inadvertently takes place.   I can feel a difference inside, I wore my red shirt yesterday. I didn’t go out, no-one saw me.  But I knew I wore it and nothing bad happened.  This house is now my sanctuary, not my prison; it is free of anger.  I always knew the anger would kill one of us, but I’d always assumed it was going to be me.   This is the irony of my story, the final moment of justice.   Ten days ago, he was angry, I’m not quite sure why, this time it wasn’t my fault, it was something to do with his work.  He couldn’t cope with getting angry at work, as he couldn’t work out how to deal with it.  He couldn’t deal with it like he did at home.  Like my grandma always said if you get too angry your head will explode.    Turns out she was a wise old woman, well it wasn’t really his head, but something to do with a blood clot in his brain, I don’t think his blood pressure helped.

So here I am, sat on my chair.  My appropriate black suit is on the floor, the bruises on my arm, on my stomach, on my legs are fading.  I think I’m going to wear my jeans this evening, I’m going to relax and be comfortable in my own home. 

What was it they said about David today, he was a good man, loved by his wife, family and friends.  He will be missed by those who knew him.   There is no reason to change to official version of history.  Mr David Adams may be dead, but Mrs David Adams has been reborn.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Moving forward

Well I've made some big decision, and life is moving forward.  As I've talking abut previously life was stressful and I had to do something about it.  I quit my job.  This is scary, it was very well paid, I was good at it, and I had a lot of friends there.  But it was a tough job, and involved a long commute, something had to give, and that coudln't be my health any longer.  I was tired of spending evenings crying, of having to pull myself together just before I walked into a meeting.  I want to be me again, I want to have a laugh and a giggle; I want to be a little bit scary in meetings, without literally shaking under the desk; I want to get that bounce in my step back.  I can't do that while exhausted and I can't do that when I have no self confidence.

I do have a new job, so I'm not opting out of the world completely, but the plan is it will be less demanding.  It should be a shorter commute, and give me some of my life back.  But given my lack of confidence, it is very, very scary.  I don't know anyone in the new place, I don't have any friends there.  I don't know who is nice and who is nasty, who to trust and who to avoid.  I don't quite know what the job involves or if I can do it.   But I have to make this leap if I'm going to get me back, here goes..........................................

Monday, 27 June 2011

What does success look like?

I deal with a lot of projects at work, as well as running them, I have to challenge those that other people are running.  One of my key questions is always "what does success look like? how will you know when you have achieved what you set out to do?"

So being logical, I'm asking myself how I will know when I'm feeling better, and more importantly what am I going to do to enjoy it.    During my visits to my GP I've had to answer a depression questionnaire in order to diagnose the severity of my depression, if anyone reading this thinks it could help them, here is a link to it on NHS direct.  The first time I did the questionnaire with the GP I was diagnosed as severely depressed.

So now I'm trying to write a questionnaire for what good looks like, based.  Like the depression questionnaire it is based on how you have been feeling in the last two weeks, and the answers should selected from:
 - no, not at all
 - on some days
 - on more than half the days
 - nearly every day.

I should highlight at this point, this is entirely made up by me.   It has no basis in science, but I find it useful.

1) have you laughed several times a day?

2) have you found yourself feeling content, satisfied or happy?

3) Do you feel well rested and not drained of energy

4) are you able to sleep through the night and wake up in the morning?

5)  do you look forward to what the day to come might bring?

6) do you enjoy spending time with friends and family?

7)  Do you get enjoyment out of watching a film, reading a book or other hobbies you used to enjoy?

8) Can you hold and enjoy a normal conversation?

9) Are you able to treat yourself and enjoy it?

I'm not sure what score denotes success, I'm still working on the MI.  But it helps, if I can answer positively to some of these then I'm heading in the right direction.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Happiness at the bottom of a biscuit tin

Well the exercise programme and diet I talked about before is not going well.   I just don't seem to be able to stop eating.  I don't know what's wrong with me, I'm always hungry and all I'm eating is biscuits, crisps, chocolate, toast, cake................

I've not been exercising, I did it for a few days, then the depression came back.  Other than dancing I've not been able to get off the sofa and jog,cycle or anything else.  I don't think I can blame this on the depression, I'm not actually feeling too bad, work is going well, family is good.  I feel quite good about my mental self, it's my physical self I don't like.   It's like sabotage, one thing goes well so I have to scupper another, or at least that's what it feels like.  I always have an excuse for eating too much, and then an excuse for not exercising.   

I don't know how to get out of this cycle.  Well in theory I do, stop eating and get off my arse, but I'm not doing it.   I have done it in the past, I don't know what was different then, but I need to get back to that place, so I can start to like my body again.

I was once asked how much I like my body out of 10, I gave it a 3, I have to try and at least get over 5.

Friday, 27 May 2011

My diamond shoes are too tight..........

I will apologise now for stealing a title from a magazine article I once read.   I often feel like a bit of a fraud having depression.  I have a good life, I had a good childhood, my parents are lovely and were supportive, they seemed to expect a lot from me, but I'm not sure if they did or I just thought they did.  I did well at school, I had friends, though I was never Miss Popular.   Then I went to a good university, graduated and got a good job in the City.  I met a nice man, got married in my mid twenties and am still married.   Two years ago I had a beautiful little girl who I adore and seems to like me.  I still have a good job, a nice home and a good relationship with my husband and my parents.

So why am I depressed?  Honestly, I don't know.  This is why I feel such a fraud.   I should be happy, I should be content, but the problem is whatever I'm doing I should be doing it better.   I should be a better employee, I should be a better manager, I should be a better mother, I should be a better wife and I should be a better friend.   Despite everything I've done, I should be doing it better, I feel like I'm letting everyone down.   It got tough when I was working 12 hour days, I was on the 0557 train in the morning, worked hard, but came home for 6pm, put my daughter to bed and then worked again for a few hours.   And I had to work a few hours at the weekend.   I felt like I couldn't give enough to work or to home. But then this sounds like excuses, I should just suck it up and get on with things.   This is my lot and ending up with depression as a result is ridiculous, lots of people work hard, lots of people have families, so why can they cope and I can't.  It's because I'm weak, and despite my good life I just ruin things and make a mess of it.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Learning from your mistakes...............

My name is Maggie and I'm not allowed to make mistakes.    Well that is not quite true, I am allowed to make mistakes, but only if they have no negative impact on anyone else.  And mistakes teach me one thing; I am useless, rubbish, crap............

If I make a mistake, if I break something, if I spill something, if I forget something, then I beat myself up about it.   I hate myself for making a mistake, it mean I'm rubbish, I'm weak, I'm letting people down.   It's a strange conundrum, I know I'm not perfect, but I can't make mistakes and let other people down.   If they are relying on me, or even if they're not, I feel I must do everything for them.  But at the same time it is unrealistic to expect people to help me.  I should not ask for help or support, I should not ask for a favour.  Not only is it imposing on others, it is also a sign of weakness.  I should be able to do everything for myself and shouldn't expect to rely on others.   I'm terribly British, stiff upper lip and just get on with it, that kind of thing.

I'm trying to be better, I'm trying to ask for help when I need it. However sometimes I slip, I should have asked for help with childcare tomorrow, but I haven't.  This means I will have to cancel my counselling appointment, and it is the last one covered in my private health insurance.    Then I guess I am either on my own, going with NHS, or carry on paying ourselves for help.  We can afford the latter, but I don't want to mention it to my husband as he isn't massively supportive about counselling.   Therefore I will probably end up going with the former.  I've liked counselling, it's really good to talk to someone, and this way I don't feel like I'm burdening someone, she's being paid to listen to me.   I can't talk to my friends much, I feel like I'm bothering them.   Again this is a sign of weaknesses from me and I can't be weak.

This unwillingness to ask for help and this belief that I cannot make mistakes and must take responsibility for everyone and everything  has contributed to my depression.   It becomes an overwhelming burden on myself and I'm trying to deal with.    

Anyone fancy babysitting tomorrow morning....................

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Depression - the history

I think I'm currently going through my 4th period of depression, although I've only every had one formally diagnosed before.

The first time I think I was depressed I was about 7. I didn't know I was depressed at the time, this was northern England in the early 1980s, depression was like avocados and meat served rare, we'd heard of it, but never thought it would happen to us.   It's only since being diagnosed as an adult and remember how I felt that I put two and two together.

I moved to a new school when I was 7 and it was difficult.   I am bright, I'm good at maths, languages, not bad at history and sciences.  But I am not good with my hands and quite clumsy.    I do wonder if I was at school now if I would get a mild dyspraxia diagnosis.   The school I was at focused on things like knitting and neat hand writing as well as the more usual things.   Because of the focus on these areas I started to feel like a failure.   I also went from having a very best friend to struggling to find friends. 

My memories from this period are of feeling desperately unhappy and not knowing why.  It wasn't unusual to spend Sunday afternoon crying and not wanting to go back to school.  I described it as feeling homesick despite the fact I was at home.   I'm not sure how I got through it, but the support of my parents was crucial.  I had very kind and loving parents, it was a good home.  I think that was what made it more confusing, because I wasn't sure what was making me unhappy, it didn't seem right or proper.   I didn't want for anything so why wasn't I happier.

Looking back it was a horrible period, I felt like I was letting everyone down, in particular my parents, when I just wanted to make them proud.   I think this was the start of not wanting success for myself, but wanting it in order to seek approval from others, this has got me into all kind of messes as I've grown up.

Now I just want to make sure my daughter doesn't go through the same thing.  I want to make sure she is happy, she is motivated to do her best, but doesn't feel under pressure and doesn't beat herself up if and when she doesn't manage to achieve exactly what she wants.    Don't get me wrong, I had a happy childhood, but I want my daughter's to be even more amazing.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Depression - what does it feel like - part deux

I'm finding it so hard to explain how I'm feeling.  I'm really struggling to explain how I'm feeling especially to some of those close to me.  There's a few key things I need to explain:

 - I have depression, I am not depressed about something, it's not just a question of fixing the one thing that's broken and everything being OK
 - I've tried snapping out of it, getting over it, moving on; you pick your euphemism.  Telling me that really doesn't help, and often just makes me feel worse
- Because I'm not depressed about "something", when I'm having a bad day, don't ask me what triggered it, don't try to fix it for me.  The best thing you can do is give me space, I know that will feel like rejection and like I'm pushing you away, but a nap or a long bath will do me the world of good
- Some of my depression stems from the fact that I feel useless, crap, rubbish and lazy, telling me I'm not won't suddenly fix everything.  I won't believe you, I'll just think it's pity and you're being nice because you feel sorry for me
- Counselling helps, we might talk about the same thing a few times, it because I need to go over it in my head.   See the point above, my counsellor telling me I'm not rubbish etc, doesn't work either.  The person that needs convincing is me.  I'm an intelligent person, therefore it takes a lot to convince me of something.  
- I know I'm not being logical, I know it doesn't make sense, I am fully aware of that, I'm trying to make sense of it, you're just going to have to give me time.

I hope that helps you understand depression.  I understand you will never fully know what I'm going through, but I want to help you know what I am feeling, when it sounds non-sensical, that's because it is.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

And the award for best actress goes to..............

I’d like to apologise for all the typos in my other blogs, I really should proof read better.   I am trying now. 

I feel I should admit to a few things, firstly Maggie isn’t my real name.  I’m using a pseudonym so I can actually be a little more honest.   It’s not a completely made up name, it’s like when you have to make up your porn name (pet’s name and street where you grew up) or your royal wedding guest name (grandparent’s first name road where you grew up “hyphen” road where you live now), so anyway I’ve found my blogging name.  This is also part of what I want to talk about.  I often feel like I’m really an observer in my own life, in particularly my professional life.

It can seem like I’m pretending when I’m working.  I can’t quite believe I know what I’m talking about, even more I never quite believe that people listen to me and take me seriously.  They value my opinion and want to know what I have to say.   I feel like I am acting a lot of the time.   It’s not real, the real me is a scruffy 13 year old, with a bad haircut scared to say boo to a goose, not wearing a suit in a shiny office with a skyline view of London.  

The only time I feel real is when I’m at home with my husband and daughter.  Getting a cuddle from either of them is real, talking to them is real, that is who I am.  Even if I’m not domesticated, which I’m not, I like who I am at home with my family.  I can be myself, my daughter and husband see the real me.  They see me happy, sad, insecure, being silly, whatever the mood takes.  

I feel like I can’t be both people, I can’t be the silly mummy and the professional business woman.  Then my counsellor said something interesting, if I’m that good an actress, that for 15 years people have taken me seriously professionally and valued my opinion, then maybe I’m in the wrong career.  Maybe I should be treading the boards in the West End, I must be an incredible actress if I can take people in so convincingly for so long.   Perhaps there is another reason why people listen to me, and it’s not because I’m good at faking it, maybe I do know what I’m doing.   Do I have to choose to be one thing or another?  Is it all or nothing?    It might be possible to be both, I don’t know, I’ll give it a shot.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Fat bird running

First thing I want to clarify is that when I talked about libido earlier, I talked about being ambivalent.  I just want to clarify it is the "personal relationships" that I am ambivalent about, rather than the marriage, which I am still quite keen on.  Just wanted to clarify that :)

I have big issues with my weight, to reassure you I'm not one of those thin people going "oh no look at my cellulite", where they've just accidentally just leant on a piece of orange peel.  I'm 5'6, weight 12 stone 8 lbs (176 lbs), BMI of around 30, and since pregnancy I carry a lot of around my tummy.  Put it this way, I still get offered a seat on the tube quite regularly.  I would like to be thinner, not Kate Moss thin, maybe not even Kate Middleton thin, Kate Winslet thin would do me.  I want to be able to wear nicer clothes.  But most importantly, when people look at me I want their first impression to be "she looks nice", not "she looks fat/ messy/ scruffy."   I have significant issues worrying about people think of me, and in particular the first impressions they get from my physical appearance.  I believe that people see me as fat/ scruffy/ messy and read this through to mean I am lazy/ stupid/ worthless.   I assume they see Waynetta Slob and think of me in that way.  Therefore I have to work harder, prove myself more, be cleverer, be more valuable to prove that being fat doesn't limit me.

There is a simple reason why I am not thin, I eat too much.  I eat too much of the wrong thing; crisps, chocolate, cake, Chinese, curry, chips, and then there's the evening glass of wine.  So why do I eat?  The reasons are numerous, I eat when I'm bored, I eat when I'm happy, I eat when I'm happy, I eat to reward myself when things are going well, I eat to reward myself when things are going badly.   You probably get the impression now, I like eating.  But actually I don't, it makes me feel good for a new moments while I am eating, but then I feel guilty and I feel fat and I feel a lot worse for a lot longer.  

The only thing I am finding I do enjoy is exercise, I enjoy it when I do it, but getting off my arse to do it is always a struggle.  It's always easier to sit on the sofa, watch telly and eat another biscuit.  But I am starting to do some exercise, I always feel better for doing it, the fresh air and alone time do do me some good.   It's nice to feel like I'm doing something positive, although I do manage to add a little layer of guilt on it.  I feel bad that buying going out to do exercise, I'm not spending time with my daughter.   I should feel like I am being a good role model, but I always find new and interesting ways to feel guilty.

So here today I want to make my commitment, I want to lose weight, I want to reach 10 and a half stone (147 pounds) by the end of the year, and I want to be able to run 5km in under 35 minutes by the end of September.  Let's see how I get on.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Parenthood, working parenthood and depression - guiltier than the guilty

I was planning to blog about parenthood as well as depression, so I really ought to mention parenthood, as well as the endless ramblings about depression.

First a bit of background, my daughter is 2 and a bit.  She is beautiful, I love her more than I have ever loved anyone or anything in my life, she amazes me, enthrals me and at times frustrates me.  I love seeing her learn new things, she is like a sponge, she picks up everything so quickly (especially the things you hope she hadn't heard).  And she has her opinions on things, today's was that Mummy isn't very good at jumping, and I'll be fair she has a point.

The one thing I don't think I expected in parenthood is the guilt.  It's endless, am I good mum?  Am i giving her the right things to eat?  Do I give her enough attention?  Am I smothering her?   Is she spoilt?  Is she neglected?   I think most parents must worry if they are doing things right, if you have depression then it is amplified.  Depression makes you feel like you do the simplest things badly, whether it is making a cup of tea or ringing the doctor to make an appointment.  Now imagine how you dealing with something that everyone feels they are doing badly anyway.  I want to do the best for her, but just feel I am incapable of it.  Then I worry I over compensate and give her too many treats, buy her too many toys and let her watch too much TV.

Just to add another layer of guilt I am a working mum, I work full time in insurance in the City.   I enjoy my job, I have been ambitious and I have been relatively successful.  I have a good degree, until I became a mum, my personal worth and success was very closely linked to professional success (and clearly that has gone wrong and lead to previous Prozac episodes).  Suddenly the guilt increases exponentially.   Not only am I letting my daughter down, being a selfish, self obsessed working mother who only cares about her career and palms her daughter off to strangers to look after (yes I know how the Daily Mail would describe me).   But I also feel like a bad employee, I can't work late, I need to get home to sort out childcare, I can't always come in early.  Some days I am tired in daughter has had a bad night (somehow I never felt that guilty when I was tired because I had been out partying 'til late).   I feel guilty because I can't dedicate myself to work as much as I used to.  To make up for it I have to put my daughter in front of Peppa Pig so I can talk to clients on the phone (hence the TV guilt).  And once my daughter is in bed, out comes the laptop so I can carry on working til midnight, before being up again at 530 to get the early train into work again.   That is when I get a few minutes to myself to sit there working as tears roll down my face, because that day I've let down my daughter, not spending enough time with her, let down my colleagues, because I'm not pulling my weight at work, and letting down everyone else in my life because I have no time at all for them. 

I hate it when people say to me "I don't know you do it", I'll tell you how I do it, I'm knackered, unhappy, unfit, overweight and on Prozac.  But that's me, the big success story.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Prozac - the feel normal again drug

The first thing I need to say is that I am not a doctor or a pharmacist, so I what say is personal experience and has no basis in science, so don't take it as advice.

This is the second time I've been on prozac, or as I'm in the UK and on the NHS I'm on the generic fluoxetine.  The wiki details are below.

I was very nervous the first time the doctor recommended fluoxetine, I had lots of preconceptions about it being addictive and having sedative side effects.  I have to be honest the first time I took it I didn't really notice the side effects as I felt so down and I wasn't working.   This time round I have really felt the side effects.  First the negative ones:
 - shakes - my hands really started to tremble, I remember being in a really important meeting and having to sit on my hands as they were shaking so much.
 - head fog - while the head fog was bad with depression, it was worse with the tablets, I really did lost the ability to concentrate for a few weeks
 - loss of libido  - but personal this one, but I have lost all interest in "personal relations", doesn't really help the marriage, but I am completely ambivalent about it

The one upside
 - loss of appetite - I lost 3lbs the first week I was on fluoxetine, it was fab,

The one thing I have to say is that none of the side effects last forever, I don't think I really have any now, maybe apart from the libido thing (and I do miss that a bit).

Many people describe anti-depressants as happy pills, they really aren't. I would describe them as "feel normal again pills", feeling happy is a whole different ball game.  What they do allow you to do is start to deal with normal life again.  They've allowed me to make decisions what to eat in restaurants, to be able to do my job (and do it well), to be able to believe I'm not rubbish at every turn.  I don't cry every evening after I've put my daughter to bed because i feel like I've let everyone in my life down.   They bring me up to a level or normality so I can cope with day to day life.

The last thing I should add is that in relation my concerns, after the inital side effect pase, which is fairly rubbish, the pills have not been addictive, and they have not dulled my senses.   They have helped me get my life back, I can feel the old me emerging from the fog, although sometimes the fog gets a little thicker and I disappear again.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Depression - what does it feel like

Haven't posted for a little while, what with Easter, royal weddings and endless bank holidays.  But I'm back now and will have lots of time to blog going forward.   I'm not sure if anyone will read it, but it's quite theraputic just writing.

It's really hard for people who don't have depression to understand what it feels like.  The word depressed is overused, so it is understandable that people don't differentiate between that and true clinical depression.

I should probably add the caveat that depression feels different for everyone, so if you also suffer from depression you'll be sat there saying that's not right.  This is my experience of depression, it might help someone understand, even if you think "stop whinging woman" it's a start and means someone has read it!

Depression feels like a head fog, it feels like someone has put cotton wool around your brain and dulls all your senses.   You slow down, reactions are slower, both physically and mentally.   At the worst I've had to stop driving because I didn't feel safe and that I couldn't react quickly enough if there was an issue.  This is also a hinderance at work, where I need to be able to think on my feet, listen to people talking and think of intelligent things to say.   It also made me incredibly short tempered, I was struggling to cope with everything, so had no patience for people making mistakes, not thinking for themselves or doing a good job.  I was still doing a good job despite the fact I was coping with depression, a toddler, a travelling husband, so why can't others do a good job.

Sleep is also an important issue when you are depressed, I've swung between sleeping really badly and wanting to sleep 24/7, neither of which have helped me feel better.

The main thing I feel when depressed is useless, rubbish, a bit crap, waste of space.  I'm unable to make a decision, even if it's just about what to have for lunch.  I'm too scared of getting it wrong, even when getting it wrong has no consequences.  I focus on the negatives, the one things I do wrong in a day overshadows everything else I do that I don't get wrong.   I don't lose my season ticket for 10 years, I do one weekend and that means I'm always losing it and always useless.    I feel like I am always letting people down, my husband, my parents, my boss, my daughter, even when I'm not.   I have sat in bed in tears every evening because I feel like I am letting everyone down and getting everything wrong because I'm rubbish.

The last issue about depression is food.   Now this is another area where everyone is different, with me it is overeating.   Food is a "treat", it will make me happy, especially if it's chocolate, cake, crisps...........  but the happiness only lasts moments and then for a long time I feel uphappy about my weight, and guilt about over eating.  

The ironic thing is that I enjoy exercising, I feel so amazing after a run, but I don't get time to do it. 

If you are someone who is strong, who is the type to get depressed because you are a coper, but you feel liek you are not coping, that it is all a mask and something is going to break soon, then I definitely recommend you read Depressive illness - curse of the strong by Dr Tim Cantopher, curse of the strong - amazon

Thank you for bearing with me, please comment I would love to know what you think, whether you agree, disagree, or couldn't give a monkeys

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Blogging - Day One

Gosh, the pressure suddenly builds to say something witty and insightful, that might come in time, but in the mean time you might have to wade through the mundane, and at time appalling written.

Today has been a good day, depression wise, I've felt more like me again.  If you've ever had depression hopefully you know what I mean, if you haven't, just ignore the next bit.   The head fog has cleared, I've over the worst of the prozac side effects.  Today was a day for winding down the window and singing along to "The Power of Love" (Back to the future-tastic).   I know it won't always be good days, there will be more down days, especially once I'm back at work.  In the mean time I've had an amazing few days with my daughter.

I never cease to be amazed by toddler logic and the ability to go from happy to sad and back again in minutes.  I wish I could be like that, the emotions are all so genuine.   Although we are reaching the point that if mummy says no to an ice cream, then she goes off to ask daddy.  It must be lovely to two, if you are hungry you ask for food, if you are tired you go to sleep; if you want to dance you dance, you don't care what anyone thinks.   When do we lose that innocence, when do you starting worrying about what anyone else thinks.   When do you start feeling guilt about eating chocolate rather than just feeling badly done to that you're not allowed Easter egg for breakfast.

Right time for bed, back in the office tomorrow, and then a night out, like a grown up person rather than a person who watches too much Peppa Pig

Allow me to introduce myself

I want to take a few minutes to introduce myself.  I've never written a blog before (god, this sounds like a bad love letter), but I used to enjoy writing, and it would be good to try again.

So here is my personal ad:

30 something, married mum of one, GSOH, WLTM other bloggers.  Must like intelligent conversation, sharing a laugh and not taking themselves too seriously.

Please join me.

As well as talking about the trials and tribulations of working motherhood, I want to talk about mental health.  I suffer from depression, I take anti-depressants, I have counselling.  It helps me to talk about it and it might help someone else if they read it.