Recovery is a Rocky Road

A close friend of mine popped round last Wednesday evening.  I ended up crying.  I’m struggling right now with a number of things.  She asked me if I was becoming low.  I said “no”.  The truth is, I’m not certain but I’m hopeful that I’m not.  I’ve been putting on the mask in the real world (and to an extent on Twitter and Facebook) but my friend saw right through that and I ended up crying.

This past week I’ve been:

  • tearful and crying;
  • emotionally reactive to events/films/news;
  • having urges to isolate myself ;
  • struggling with my motivation to do anything;
  • struggling with my appetite;
  • struggling with my concentration;
  • irritable;
  • having urges to isolate myself and hide from the world; and
  • having that feeling of being an onlooker of life – detached.

I’m acutely aware that these are some of the symptoms I experience when I have a period of depression but it’s only been a week and I’m trying not to entertain the catastrophic thoughts my mind produces re spiralling down.  I’m trying to remind myself that I had a few weeks like this around April.  I’m not sure of the exact dates but what sticks in my mind is going to see P!nk in concert and not feeling any sense of enjoyment.  That’s not the only example of that period but is the one that sticks out for me.  However, as well as remembering that, I also remember that despite having a tough few weeks, it didn’t result in an episode of depression.  It was grim for a few weeks and my mood was low etc but it wasn’t depression.  I’m hoping that this will be the case again but am also trying not to deny the ‘symptoms’ I am currently experiencing.

I reached the point last night when I got upset regarding weight/BMI figures being mentioned on my Twitter feed where I realised that it’s time to do what I’ve done with my DBT therapist in individual sessions.  We’ve not only worked on BPD in my individual sessions but we’ve also worked on my “mood disorder”, dealing with managing both depression and my prolonged periods of “elated mood”. It’s time I scope the situation.  It’s important that I do this because denial and invalidation of current events and situations will not help me avoid a depression, in fact, it could aid it on its way and has caused problems for me in the past.

Scoping is basically looking at various factors that could be involved in my current mood and what I can do to help with the various aspects.  I’m going to be a lazy here and do a basic one masquerading as a blog post 🙂

Vulnerability Factors

  • My sleep is broken and the sleep I am getting is filled with vivid and disturbing dreams.  Sleep always has a massive effect on my mood – be it high or low – and something I have to be careful to keep in check.  Perhaps I need to be strict again and get up earlier.  I do better when I get up early (5-6am) whereas recently I’ve not been getting out of bed ‘til 7.30 or later.
  • My appetite is somewhat hit and miss.  I’m able to eat junk (as always) but I’m struggling to have the motivation to eat proper meals.  Last night I made a proper meal and have meals planned for the next few days that involve not just junk – although chips with cheese are a necessity for lunch today. It’s important that I continue to eat even when I don’t feel like it because low mood feeds the lack of appetite and not eating feeds the low mood.
  • I’ve been more inactive recently.  This is a vicious circle type thing because my current mood and lack of motivation means it is extra hard to get out and about and to exercise but I know that it can help.  I’m going to make sure I get back running regularly and on Wednesday I’m trying a BarreConcept class – eek!

External Events/Situations

  • I’m getting frustrated on the job front so to speak.  I want to retrain as an IMHA (Independent Mental Health Advocate).  I think it would be great to combine my personal experiences as a service user with that of my skills gained whilst a lawyer.  It’s something I’m really passionate about.  However, in order to be able to do the qualification to become an IMHA, I need to have work-based experience of an advocacy role.  I’ve been contacting advocacy organisations since last September and have had no luck.  In fact, 2 weeks ago, after very promising mutterings (again) from the local Rethink advocacy service, my hopes were dashed again.  Twice I’ve had experience with this particular organisation – led up the garden path only to be let down.  Some organisations don’t bother to acknowledge your attempted contact and others start to communicate only to then peter out (despite my chasing).

There is something in the pipeline again with an organisation that looks great and they are positive about involvement so fingers crossed something will eventually come of that.

  • I volunteer on the CAB national Adviceline on Wednesdays.  I enjoy being in a different environment and being with my colleagues.  However, I do here upsetting situations all day and anyone would be affected by the things I hear and the palpable desperation of some people.
  • I’ve now finished DBT group and have the odd individual DBT session.  It’s not the therapy ending per se that I’m struggling with; it’s the lack of structure. With travel time and sessions, my Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons were accounted for and involved getting out and about.  I can do something about this – I’m going to come up with a loose timetable as to what activities I can schedule in as at the moment the only concrete events I have in my week are church, CAB volunteering and housegroup.  I need to balance this with my tendency to be punitive and regimental though.

Problematic thoughts and thinking patterns

  • I’m getting irritated and having very self-critical thoughts and judgments about myself for my poor concentration.  Reduced concentration is soul destroying for me and it is a familiar pattern for me to get into bullying myself for it.  Instead, I’ve decided to accept that.  I’m struggling to study and sit down to read anything complicated (or anything else if for a prolonged period).  It isn’t effective for me to keep haranguing myself and I’m going to build in some more participatory tasks which at the moment I am able to concentrate on.
  • Catastrophising – this is my very familiar friend.  However, whereas in the past I would end up treating these thoughts as facts, now I have a wry chuckle and do not get tangled up in them.

Medication

  • This one is a sticking point for me because whereas the above factors mentioned can be helped with psychological and practical means due to having a co-existing “mood disorder” I do need to keep an eye on this aspect. I loathe “needing” medication but it has helped so I can’t just push it aside.  Last month I had to reduce my SSRI due to a period of “elevated mood” becoming out of control.  I now have a very low dose of a medication in my system which has shown itself to be effective in treating my depression.
  • On the positive side, my last difficult time this year, I didn’t plummet and perhaps I will again be cushioned by the mood stabiliser I take (in combination with psychological and practical measures).

This has turned out to be a rather long post, which, considering my lack of motivation is pretty impressive.  I needed to think this through and getting it out as a blog has helped me recognise factors that could be involved in my current mood and things I can do to help that (including things not mentioned here such as various, specific DBT skills that work for me).  Thanks for indulging me!

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About Carrie Quinn

I'm a former solicitor whose life was turned upside down due to problems with my mental health. I'm now aiming towards recovery, which to me means rebuilding a meaningful life - not necessarily disorder free.
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2 Responses to Recovery is a Rocky Road

  1. Pingback: Dear Giles Fraser, Depression isn’t Unhappiness | Happy Mental – Onwards and Upwards

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