It’s a never ending nightmare
A long dark tunnel
A permanent panic attack
Pain in my chest
Never feeling safe
Down the rabbit hole
I’m reaching out
Trying to slow my fall
Wondering what is real
Hoping I will wake up
Holding in my rage
I turned it in on myself
I haven’t posted recently, on any of my blogs, because I have really not been well (mostly physically, but that has an impact on mental health too of course).
I always seem to be worse in the summer for some reason, and even though (thank God!) I’m not suffering from hayfever to anything like the extent I usually do, I really feel knocked out and completely zapped of energy, more confused and disorganised than normal and really just struggling to drag myself through each day.
I wanted to write a quick post though to mention that I had had a very bad reaction indeed to Citalopram.
I have struggled with depression, which I have really had incessantly since childhood (and I suspect it is largely due to the head injury I had aged 12 when I was knocked off my push bike in a hit and run ‘accident’ in 1983).
I liken my depression to a mild, grey cloud that never goes away. Most of the time, I just live with it. No amount of positive thinking, yoga or mindfulness takes the cloud away, but it’s manageable, I have more or less got used to it.
My GP gave me citalopram for depression and anxiety and I tried it because I thought it was worth a try.
I was only on 10 mg of citalopram for about 5 days, and almost immediately, my little grey cloud went from a mild, manageable thing to a horrible big, thick, dark, heavy cloud that seemed to engulf me. I woke up feeling suicidal the first morning after I started taking it, and every day afterwards. When I stopped taking it, it took more than 10 days to come out of the thick dark cloud, and to be honest – more than 2 weeks later, I have a niggling feeling that the world would be a better if I wasn’t here. That’s not me. I don’t normally feel like that. (I do regularly feel despair, and I often feel that it’s not worth carrying on, but it’s more a feeling of laying down and waiting for death rather than actively trying to end it all. The citalopram reaction was more of the latter.)
I wasn’t imagining it. It was palpable.
Additionally, during the days that I was on citalopram, I had a greatly reduced ability to urinate. It just so happened that I needed to do a 24 hour urine sample during that week. It’s the second or third time I’ve had to do it this year, because I’m currently being tested for Cushing’s and/ or other pituitary gland disorders. Usually, I do so much I can’t fit the whole 24 hours in the pot, which takes 1200 ml. (The previous time, I only fit 18 hours in). This time, in the whole 24 hours, I managed 200 ml. I have no doubt whatsoever that citalopram was to blame.
I made a point of not reading the paper insert before I tried citalopram, not wanting to give my suggestible brain ideas! But of course afterwards I checked and both suicidal ideation and inability to urinate were listed in the potention serious side effects.
The reaction was so severe, it has made me wary of trying any other kind of pharmaceutical solution for anxiety or depression. It’s not the first time I have reacted poorly to anti-depressants, but this was by far the worst.
I’m not a person who would advise other people to not take the meds they need. Far from it. I know that meds help a lot of people, and you can only tell if they’ll work for you by trying them.
But for me (perhaps because there is Bipolar in the family, or for some other reason) I don’t seem to suit pharmaceutical meds. I think I need to start looking to food, herbs and natural solutions.
5htp has worked for me somewhat with no side effects. Not spectacular, but seems to ‘take the edge off’ without doing any harm.
St Johns Wort did not work for me, in fact it sent me completely loopy. But for others, I know this is a good natural solution that works.
People are different. I know plenty of people who swear by their anti-depressants and others who are equally opposed to them. I even know one lady who controls her Bipolar using homeopathy.
Each to their own!
What works for you?
Are there any natural solutions you recommend?
Or do anti-depressants work really well for you?
I have realised that my agoraphobia and anxiety is selective.
When I was having therapy last year, I was repeatedly told that what I was experiencing was a form of social anxiety – in other words, that the root of my panic and anxiety was due to a fear of people, or people’s judgements, or feelings of inadequacy or some such basic inferiority complex.
The therapy I was offered, CBT, (cognitive behavioural therapy) might have been useful had the therapist actually been willing to listen to what I told her. But she wasn’t. She was determined to squeeze me into a neat round box. Presumably she was following a flow chart which didn’t allow for any free thinking, or square pegs.
What I have noticed is that I have no problem in social situations (though I may find them exhausting), no problem with crowded rooms, shops, restaurants, no problem driving, unless I am particularly stressed. The only thing I struggle with, regardless of stress level, is walking out in the open, and that has nothing to do with social anxiety.
I have been out a few times – pubs, restaurants, shops, over the last few months with no problems. But on a day-to-day basis I am practically housebound. I hate it. I deeply dislike the house I’m currently living in, but can’t seem to escape it.
I have good intentions – next week, I will definitely go out, for coffee, to see the sea, something, anything. But it never seems to happen. I’m dependent on circumstances forcing me out – hospital appointments, husband taking me out.
We’re supposed to be moving again soon and I really hope that will signal an improvement. But house moves aren’t known for their calming effect.
I really just want to shrug this anxiety off and start living a normal life again. The best therapy might just be immersion – just jump in, or out as the case may be.
But don’t hold your breath. I might just dip my toe in and sit in the garden.
I have actually lost count now how many weeks I have been holed up at home, cocooned from the nasty weather, but it’s at least three weeks and could easily be double that.
This week I had a task that couldn’t be put off any longer. I had a cheque that I needed to put into the bank. I could have posted it in, but we need the money as fast as possible, so I needed to put it in by hand.
So I girded my loins and drove to Holsworthy. It’s quite a nice, country drive, about half an hour from Bude (I keep to the speed limit – it’s doubtless possible to get there quicker if you don’t). I wasn’t overjoyed to go as I had no company, and that always makes it harder, although I find driving largely okay provided I know where I’m going and I know where I can park.
But because I had no money, I couldn’t park close to the bank, I had to park in the Waitrose car park which is free and walk up the hill. Not far, about 5 minutes each way, but – you know, walking!!
I did it, and didn’t have any panic attacks, and so I popped into the co-op to buy myself a drink and a snack as a reward on the way back to the car.
If I were feeling stronger (and richer), I would have gone into Waitrose there. It is really such a civilised shopping experience compared with Morrisons etc. Sainsbury’s in Bude is also quite pleasant, and the Bude co-op is usually nicely empty too.
But not this time. I walked straight in, straight out and straight back to the car. The weather that day was nice so I enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine and the beautiful view over fields from the top of the Waitrose car park. But then I went straight home and slept all afternoon.
Small steps turn out to be quite exhausting.
Sorry no photos. Still no new phone. Feel free to donate to the Bude Agoraphobics Benevolent Fund.
So, as I alluded to in my last post, I am a (hopefully recovering) agoraphobic.
I never previously considered myself an anxious person (although I suspect my husband might disagree because he is so laid-back that he thinks hippies are highly strung! 🙂
But we have had a run of hard times, culminating last year with our landlord evicting us – not because we were bad tenants, or because we weren’t paying the rent: we were good, regular rent-paying tenants – but simply because he wanted to sell the house. My friends in the US were shocked and appalled that such action is legal, but here in the UK, tenants have almost no security, even when it’s the landlords who are bad, as in our case.
Our old house stood empty for almost a year while our greedy landlord learned the hard lesson that greed doesn’t always pay. And needless to say, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for him.
So, here I am, traumatised! Really not liking the house we are in now, but ironically stuck inside a lot of the time because going out sets off the anxiety, and I find ways to avoid going out unless absolutely necessary. Shopping deliveries have been a ‘life-saver’ in that regard.
But I am on the mend, hopefully, and trying to make sure that I do step out as much as I can.
So far this year the weather has been pretty horrendously un-outviting (humour me!) But since today was a little brighter, I girded my loins and got myself out… To the supermarket. Morrison’s in fact. By car. Not my favourite place, for sure. (And no pictures, obviously) But I did it.
One of these days – perhaps in the summer, I will actually start walking to places from home again but, for now, going by car and not having a panic attack inside was a small achievement.
So, yes, I do hope that my next outing will be more fun and joyful than a supermarket!
And it will be really great if you can forgive me for the boring blog without pictures so far, and help me with encouragement and accountability to keep trying 🙂
…Did I mention that I suffer from agoraphobia?
I don’t know what I was thinking, setting myself the challenge of blogging the favourite new places I find!
I haven’t actually left the house yet other than for absolute necessity, since New Year!
The fact that I am up (still up) at 4:25 am, playing with my blog and updating my Goodreads/ Shelfari/ LibraryThing accounts worries me somewhat. Yes, I’m tired, but I’m also so horribly buzzy that I know there is very little point in me going to lie down, because I would not be likely to sleep. In fact, sleep has been elusive for some time.
Adrenal rushes have always been part of my illness. During my succession of dreadful GPs I have been told that a) I was imagining them, b) that my adrenaline and cortisol appears normal and c) I must have an anxiety disorder. Well pah. I lost faith in the NHS a long time ago. I know that I have anxiety issues, but to be fair they didn’t start until after I became ill.
Adrenal fatigue/ dysfunction is a known symptom of ME as part of the overall autonomic nervous system dysfunction, but since the NHS are ill-equipped to correctly test for or treat such things, their default position is to insult us. Enough of that. When I can afford to, I will be getting some properly reliable tests done privately. What I will do after that is anyone’s guess. I’m not likely to ever be able to afford private care beyond the testing, so once I actually know what I am really dealing with, I will investigate affordable alternatives.
Anyway. What I wanted to mention is that this period of insomnia and frenetic activity is somewhat reminiscent of a Bi-polar high, or the ‘manic’ part of what used to be called Manic Depression. I do have Bi-polar tendencies, I am aware of this. My mother has Bi-polar Disorder, and although I don’t believe for a moment that I have Bi-polar myself, I do think I am slightly genetically vulnerable to changes in brain chemistry. I have had these occasional, mild highs before. Primarily, I have had them when taking a new medication – when I was on Amlopodine for high blood pressure, I experienced horrible racing thoughts and really unpleasant ‘mixed states’ – a feeling of intense depression and mania at the same time. The other thing that threw me for a total loop was St. John’s Wort, which I took for post-natal depression many years ago.
Thankfully I am not experiencing any of that this time. But I do feel very, very slightly ‘high’. And although there is a very crucial campaign by people with ME to ensure that the illness is not confused with mental illness (which I totally support, as I am quite, quite sure that the depression that comes with ME is not a cause or an explanation but rather a co-morbid result of suffering chronically and being treated so appallingly badly by the NHS, the media and society in general), this ‘high’ does strengthen my conviction that my particular illness has dysfunctional thyroid as an integral component, since hypo- and hyper- thyroid states can affect the brain, and in fact it is not unknown for people with dysfunctional thyroid (especially Hashimoto’s Thyroditis, which can swing from high to low) to be mis-diagnosed with Bipolar.
Yes, you have probably guessed it, I have been taking a supplement designed to help the Thyroid for the last week or so. I strongly suspect a causal link. Again, when I can afford to, I will be getting a complete thyroid panel done privately. But I’m feeling good (even allowing for the possible ‘mania’) about the feeling that I might be on the right track.
As you may have seen me mention, I posted in a very dark moment that if I didn’t get well in 2016, I would throw in the towel. I’m sure I wouldn’t. But I have a good feeling that 2016 might be the year for me. If I can get well – even by a small margin – my quality of life would improve beyond all recognition; I would be able to get out, clean my house, oh I don’t know – perhaps begin to make friends and build that ‘social network’ that 2015’s horoscope promised so faithlessly.
This is what I would like for 2016: glowing health, all our financial difficulties are over, find a better house, success in every area, and everything I touch turns to gold. Blessed beyond all imagining. “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” Yep. That’s what I’m looking for ideally.
And if it doesn’t happen quite like I want it to, I will try to find joy in all things, beauty and treasure in the darkness.
See? This is my happy place now.
Ah, Tosk. A species designed and bred to be prey, for the entertainment of a hunting species, to the extent that he does not even have his own name, he just identifies as Tosk, his very identity is prey. (There’s an echo of this in Voyager’s Hirogen and their holographic prey who rise up against them.)
I remember writing about this episode, but I don’t remember who I would have originally cast as Tosk, the hunters, Sisko, or O’Brien who is the hero of this story.
Right now I think that Tosk is me. I’m not really being pursued. No-one is after me. It’s just a feeling. But it is a recurring theme in my dreams, being on the run. I think it’s just a result of general anxiety really. I can’t pinpoint a specific worry.
But somehow, I seem to have attracted (or been spotted by) a string of manipulative, controlling women who used me and caused a lot of trouble.
The fact that it happened so many times made me begin to wonder why – I am not a pushover, I am not an easy target. I do not view myself as a victim. And I don’t think I am a bad judge of character. Actually, the first time I was taken in because I had no idea – the person in question was a real charmer, a complete snake.
But I wised up real quick, and I knew from the outset with the others that there was something not quite right. But still they kept spotting me. I think it was because I’m a basically nice person and probably more tolerant than most. But they were always surprised when I turned around and said “No” because when they make a mark, they think they can do anything!
I have found that drawing boundaries is really important, those type of people will push and push to see just how much they can get away with. And often, they’re subtle and cunning and you don’t realise you’re being pushed until you’re already well outside your comfort zone – like the proverbial frog in the slowly boiling water.
It becomes necessary, for those of us who are essentially as ‘harmless as doves’ to also be as ‘wise as serpents’, because that’s just what they are.
I discovered the other day that intense and strange dreams are actually a recognised symptom of ME, something to do with hyperventilation because the oxygen doesn’t get to our cells properly. Anyway, that may explain why my dreams are always so vivid, and so memorable (to me anyway).
In my dream, we let ourselves sneakily into our wealthy friends, Derek & Jane’s massive house (not the house they really in but rather some kind of classic mansion, with oak panelling everywhere) this would be the perfect size for us, I remarked.
Derek & Jane turn up unexpectedly and are shocked to see us there, and we tell them that we are there to meet Tom (their eldest son). They rush off, believing our story, taking some other wealthy people’s children to swimming lessons at a private pool. Everything seems to look like 1930s, something out of a Poirot episode. The swimmers are in special life-saving costumes.
I went in a downstairs toilet, there was a big dog lying with its face under a stool or something. It had such long, red fur I thought it was a girl. It’s asleep and doesn’t stir.
Later, I am wandering round a bigger building, perhaps a school, attached to the house. People are milling around. I see someone I recognise and realise I know her from a scrapbooking group, but then I realise it can’t be that, because the scrapbooking group was in the city. it must be something else like that. We talk and walk together, but then I suddenly realise I am completely naked!
I run back to the house looking for the bathroom or somewhere where I can find clothes or something to cover myself. There are people there! Have I gone in the wrong house? People I don’t know, cooking in the kitchen. I panic when suddenly I see my friend Nathalie who pulls me into another room (to protect my modesty!) She tells me it will be alright and that the people cooking would like my help.
We have dinner, the other people have gone, and I look for a sink to wash the dishes. There are sinks everywhere! But they’re all full of strange things. I finally find an empty sink when somebody comes in the front door, a lady with a little boy. She goes in to the toilet without stopping to speak to us.
Now (as is the way in dreams) it has changed to John and Gay’s house (but not the house I remember). I tell the lady they are out and then as she turns I realise she is heavily pregnant. I ask her when she is due, and she says soon, and then realises she is going in to labour. I wave over the neighbours. I say the boy can’t stay with us as he doesn’t know us. She is in a panic, and I think to myself that her anxiety reminds me of me, but the neighbours arrange everything and take them away.
Why? What’s it all about? Lots of my dreams feature pregnancy and babies, random people I know, houses I know. And peculiarly, sinks, toilets and bathrooms feature heavily.
Is it all nonsense? Do I need therapy?!