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