Sunday, 9 May 2010

On Many Thanks

Just when it seemed as if this blog had been abandoned completely, I’M BACK! I hope the shock of it isn’t too much for anybody!

I’ve just had a read through my blog posts from earlier this year, and the comments that have been made, and I’m struck by how much things have moved on since I wrote those posts. I thought I might fill you in, briefly, on the developments in my life since the beginning of the year.

After my failed attempt to return to work in March (see last post), it became obvious how ill I’d become. I am now under the care of my GP, a good Psychiatrist and Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN), and, recently, an exercise trainer at the local gym. Interestingly, when I opened the bag containing my gym kit last week, a quick look at receipts confirmed that I had not been to the gym since last March, which was about the time I started to get ill again.

At the beginning of February this year I was as low as I’ve been for around 8 years, almost suicidally low. In fact, in the last few weeks, the Wonderspouse and I have observed that I seem to have a major depressive episode about once every 4 years – the pattern is startlingly accurate!

This episode has, as has always happened previously, cost me my job. I simply cannot return to work within any reasonable time-frame, and the pressure of having to do so has been making me much worse. Therefore, I am to embark upon a new phase of life with regards to employment. I don’t yet know what I shall do – maybe I’ll blog about it as the process unfolds! In the meantime, if you know of anyone who would pay me a handsome wage to, say, taste chocolate, then do let me know! ;-)

However, I am, eventually, fighting back against the depression! I am determined that I will not let it beat me. I am once again on medication (Venlafaxine and Quetiapine, if you’re interested in that kind of thing), but have realised that the medication can only be part of the story. I’m also working with my CPN on strategies to prevent me getting ill again (and learning that fighting against what the medics tell me is detrimental to me, so, no matter how much I feel that the exercises I have to do are “silly” I should do them and take them seriously) and I’ve started gym sessions (referred at a cut-price by my GP).

I’m also starting to build my own REAL life again from the ground upwards. I am practicing my viola again – although it will take a while to get back to a reasonable standard, I’ll keep going. I’ve also recently bought a tuba (or flumpophone as I prefer to call him) and have started practicing that too, which is giving me great pleasure. I’ve had to defer the exam from last year’s maths course again, which means I shall take it in October this year, and I’ve also had to negotiate long long extensions to the first assignments of this year’s course. It’s still not clear whether I shall be able to meet those deadlines or whether I shall have to withdraw from the course this year and reregister again next year, but I’ll try to complete the work this year if I can.

Furthermore, I’m going to concerts again, managing to keep up with the housework a bit better, painting my fingernails again, and finally starting to work my way through jobs lists that have been sitting around for months. I’m also, slowly, getting back to reading books – I was completely unable to read when I was ill, and am gradually building up, a few pages at a time while my ability to concentrate increases and the “noise” in my head slowly subsides. This afternoon I’ve also opened my knitting bag and started to knit a few rows, and I’ve also sorted out all my model-making things and origami books in my study, so that I can start doing some creative enjoyable craft-type things too.

My online life has also changed. With the increase in viola practice, flumpophone practice, maths, exercise, housework and so on, has come a decrease in the amount of time available to sit chatting on twitter, commenting on every single blipfoto, or playing games on facebook. Last autumn, the internet world WAS my world, but I’ve had to alter that to protect my mental health – in particular, the fact that sitting on the internet for hours on end involves sitting still at a desk means that I cannot afford to do too much of it – exercise is so crucial in successful treatment of depression.

Exercise will also help me to combat the dopey feelings and headaches caused by the medication and to lose the 2 stone that I’ve put on in the last few months. I’ve had to buy bigger trousers again and I have lost quite a bit of fitness. In order to remedy those things I need to work hard – walking outside, doing yoga, going to the gym, hopefully going swimming again, and also stopping the snacks that have become a habitual part of life as well as simply eating smaller portions again.

So, that about brings you up to date. Rather surprisingly, I HAVE managed to keep posting a picture on blipfoto each day (my CPN told me she considers this a considerable achievement) and the Ears blog is up-to-date although a bit thin on the ground – sorting out my listening is still “in progress”, as is much of my life.

One of the other reasons I wanted to write this post is to say “Thank You”. Reading the comments on my previous posts will give you just a flavour of the support I’ve received. With just a very few exceptions, people here and on twitter, facebook and blipfoto have been fabulous and wonderfully supportive. Thank you, all of you.

I’ve also received many messages of support, and empathy from people. I’m so sorry I haven’t yet responded to these messages – I fully intend to do so, although it may take a little while. I have over 200 messages on my e-mails and in my facebook inbox that need attention – and these are 200 proper messages since I delete spam and file general messages as I go along. I’m afraid I’ve also neglected commenting on blogs shamefully, and not yet formally acknowledged 2 people who gave me “beautiful blogger” awards on their own blogs (you are not forgotten, I am very grateful, I shall get there).

So, thank you everyone for your support. I really do appreciate it. Also, to all of you who have written to me describing depressive symptoms of your own - thank you for trusting me with your personal stories. As soon as I have the strength I shall try to help you all in whatever way I can. One of the reasons I continue to blog about my illness is in the hope that it will help others to feel slightly less alone.

I’d also like to thank the Wonderspouse. He has continued to work full-time, to write, to organize gigs and readings, to care for the cats, and to keep the house functioning, all while looking after me – accompanying me to psychiatrist appointments and so on. He’s had to cope with tears, tantrums, endless loops of self-pity and self-hatred from me and the constant fear that he’d get home from work and find I’d simply given up. I’m surprised he’s still standing. The man is a marvel.

Anyway, I’ll stop here for now. The old “me” is returning gradually, and I hope, eventually, that I’ll be up to blogging about slightly more interesting things than my mental health as I build a new, and hopefully, exciting life. Maybe this blog will follow that journey! You’re invited along if you want to come!

And thank you again, everyone who has supported me.


  1. Good for you! Seems to me you are taking steps towards a healthier, happier life slowly but surely.

    And, yes, you do have a most amazing Wonderspouse! I applaud you both. :)

  2. Rachel Miller (flugella)9 May 2010 at 22:26

    That's fantastic news. Take things slowly and remember that violas and flumpophones are great therapy!

  3. How about, in view of the Maths and Science and Music and teaching, (and the very impressive book on Atmospheric Chemistry) considering becoming a tutor on OU short courses (the 10pt ones) when you feel consistently better?

  4. Exercise does help, there's a kind of balance between the physical and mental self that is helped through exercise. The trouble is, inevitably, when one becomes down, the motivation to exercise decreases...

  5. Your tweets and blog posts have helped me more than you'll ever know.

    I am so happy to read that you are starting to feel better and things are looking up for you. There needs to be more people like you writing blogs and speaking out about their own battles with depression. I think there would be less of a stigma about it if people talked more.

    You have inspired me to create a new direction with my blog, one that means I'll be talking about how I feel and what I think of the treatment.

    Your strength and courage are amazing.

  6. I'm so pleased that things are looking up... I know what a long process it is, but it sounds like you're doing all the right things! I appreciate you sharing your story with us and I'll keep reading as long as you keep writing. You've also made me realise my blog readers are probably due an update on how I'm getting on too.

    What you've said definitely echoes the things that I've noticed as I've got better - the need for regular exercise (I'm learning to enjoy it!) and spending more time on activities/hobbies and less time online.

    Thanks for sharing x

  7. I'm so glad you took a moment to catch us up on your life! I completely understand the connection between exercise and mental health. I haven't been to the gym in a while--I stopped when things got really stressful and taking a toll on my emotions. I HATE going to the gym when I feel like that because I hate everything, and I don't enjoy putting my trainer through that. And if I go to the gym by myself, I won't get anything done (wouldn't know where to start).

    Good luck with the flumpophone--that's such a huge departure from the viola!!

    I'm relieved to see that I'm not to only one who has trouble reading because of lack of concentration and too much "noise." I used to LOVE reading and I'm trying to get back into it this summer. I'm also glad to see we share a love of crafts--I absolute adore origami (!

    I look forward to more posts, whenever you have time to update. :-)

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