Taking my depression for a cruise…

Well this will be a short post – famous last words!

Tomorrow my wife and I a leaving on a cruise from Sydney to New Caledonia. I am hoping to have time to do some writing but if I can’t access any wifi then nothing will get to the blog. It has been quite an unusual few weeks that have just gone past. I have been in the depths of despair most of the time, hence the strange posts, but in between I have had some really good days/times.

I am hoping that this cruise (notice how I keep mentioning the ‘cruise’ word – oops did it again) will give me some good incentive to write something about the benefits of taking a holiday – or cruise to ease the beast of depression. I will be trying to get pics onto Facebook so keep a look out – I am very bad at using Facebook, not so bad with Twitter. You can use the links on this page to check them out. Anyhow it’s late and I need my bed….

Depression and Anxiety – The power of pain!

Strange heading!! Not really if you know me. As a teenager working on our family property, I hurt my back quite badly. I went to the doctor who referred me to the only kind of treatment available in a small country town in New Zealand in the 1960’s…massage, no physiotherapy, no chiropractic. So for nearly six months I would miss most of my morning classes at high school and go for a massage, then I got sick of that and stopped going. At no point in my life did I let my back injury stop me from doing what I wanted to do, sport, heavy jobs. By my mid twenties I was in constant pain. It wasn’t a matter of “will I be in pain today” but rather ” how much pain will I be in today”.  Then the back spasms started. Now these are mind numbing events and the first time it happened I thought someone had speared me in the back. I still get them but now I joke about them and even amongst the pain I laugh at myself. It’s not really funny but it is funny for bystanders. My wife is very sympathetic but still laughs anyway.

Anyhow the point is this, the depression and anxiety came first but the pain has often been the trigger for crashes….or have they? Well I use to think so but the more I have come to understand my depression and anxiety I have realized that it is more likely that it was the onset of a depressive episode that made me more conscious of pain that I otherwise would have ignored. I remember so many times lying in bed and no matter which way I moved the pain would not ease, I would often just burst into tears and sink lower and lower until finally I would ‘numb’ out.

It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I started taking pain killers, but only when the pain was at it’s most severe. This is a habit I still hold to due to the side affects of these drugs. It was also around my early to mid twenties that I found out that I had high blood pressure. My doctor always said it was on the ‘high side of normal’, whatever that means. So I resisted taking medication until I got to my forties and then the doctor insisted I take the meds as by this time my work was becoming a lot more pressurised. Then one day I had to have a ‘small procedure’, one of those ones where they put a camera down your throat. As part of the procedure I had to be anesthetised, when I came out of it the nurse was taking my blood pressure and said it was good, something like 120/80 – even on medication it had never been that low, which I told her. She checked the record of the procedure and said that it had been like that throughout the whole procedure. It’s my conclusion that my high blood pressure is due in part to the constant pain and the fact that the pain varies in intensity possibly explains why my blood pressure has always been very up and down.
So how are things now? Well currently I am going through a real rough sea, up and down, most days I’m not sure if I want to keep breathing, eating, etc., why? Well partly because I am in a lot of pain, both physical and emotional. I seem to be fighting battles on every side, can’t imagine how my wife copes with my swinging emotional state. Even though I try to hide it I know I’m not very good at it. Should I ‘up’ my meds? Probably, but I have been enjoying feeling like me again and hopefully this will pass… I guess I am not helped by the underlying worry that I could have a complete relapse – now there’s somewhere I don’t want to go. Maybe the cruise (leaving next Sunday) will help me out!

Sleepless Nights

Well here I am again writing in the early hours of the morning. Got up at 2am because I couldn’t sleep thinking that I would have a hot chocolate drink, write a quick post and then back to bed…yeah right! Technology decided to get in the way…my two main email accounts wouldn’t accept their passwords even though they are saved on the system. So I changed them, too easy….an hour and a half later and three changes to the passwords, I have finally got everything working and I can start to write right, wrong. Now I should be going to bed…it’s all to complicated, I should be going to bed but I am too stressed now so will take it out on the keyboard for a while.

It has been a reasonable weekend and it ended well with my wife and I going to dinner at the best steak house around. Got home ad decided to watch some TV. One of the current affairs type programs had an interview with the British comedian, Stephen Fry. He is a bi-polar sufferer as most would know, but what kind of threw me a bit was when they mentioned that his latest suicide attempt was in 2012 while he was in the process of making a documentary. So here is a guy we see on TV all the time but the misery is just under the surface. He mentioned that he has that feeling all the time, like many of us, that he would rather be dead than alive and I thought that it is so good that ones are speaking so openly about these kind of feelings that so many sufferers have because nobody seems to be listening when you say this, in fact many just brush these kind of comments off as just nonsense without realizing the reality of living with those feelings.

They also made reference to Robin Williams who apparently had so influence in Stephen Fry’s life. Here is another example of the twisted life one lives in the world of depression and anxiety. But I think what kind of got into my mind that prevented me from sleeping was; here we have two internationally recognized personalities who, due to their popularity, are/were well catered for financially. They have/had access to the best treatments, the best doctors, but one is still trying to kill himself and the other has succeeded. So where does that leave the rest of us, particularly those who don’t have access, for whatever reason, to these treatments? Are we just kidding ourselves? And what about those who don’t seek help?

What people don’t seem to be getting is that while they think it is all nonsense because it’s not logical to think that way, sufferers also know that it is not logical to think that way, but they just can’t stop it from happening. Andrew Solomon in his discussion in the video I have linked to on the Videos page, makes that very point. I guess for most of us we just need to keep reminding ourselves that whether we are here or not the sun will rise tomorrow and we might as well be around to see it, have another cup of coffee, and remember that our loved ones don’t deserve the pain it will cause….I think I will go to bed now 🙂

Depression and Anxiety – Texting Helpline

Well what do you make of this? I have just watched a video about the “accidental” result from a US organisation that sent text messages to teenagers for an unrelated purpose, what came back were texts from teenagers desperately seeking help on all kinds of issues. If you want to watch the video yourself, click here.

So what’s my interest in this? Well, first and foremost, my interest is in mental illnesses particularly, depression and anxiety. Many, many young people suffer with depression and anxiety and if these young ones could be treated before their situation deteriorates further then that is a massive benefit. If I had got treatment when I was ten instead of when I was fifty four, I would likely have saved myself years of distress and even more important to me, saved my loved ones an enormous amount of pain.

If you watch the video you will hear Nancy say that texting has a 100% open rate! That’s impressive and for kids, this is their arena, this is what they do, and as pointed out in the video, it is private so they can be on a bus, train, in the library, almost anywhere and be getting help. Is it really that good? Check out this link: CrisisTrends.org and see for yourself.

To me this is something that is too important to just let go past without seeing what can be done here in Aus, so I will be doing some investigating and speaking to mental health professionals to see if something can be done. It is not often that an idea comes along that straight off the bat you can say “That’s brilliant”, but to me, this is one of those moments because not only is it proven, it also deals with a situation in a way that those affected are only to willing to participate in.

Is This My “Bucket List”

Well it is 2am and here I am writing another post. I still haven’t finished the one I am doing on resilience but this just has to be done. You see it occurred to me tonight as I lay in bed not able to sleep that in the last few months my life has taken a strange twist. My meds are kinda under control, and my mood is overall ok, I am more and more able to interact with others. I am busy doing all kinds of things.

I am cooking, I have always enjoyed cooking but now I am really getting into it, particularly with breads, cakes and cookies – but also with main meals as well (did a great Thai dish the other night). I am doing lots of cleaning inside the house, I think my wife thinks I am “mothering” her as every time something needs to be done, I say “let me do that”. Outside I have been doing all manner of things and have even got an app on my phone that keeps track of all the jobs that need doing around the house and sends reminders when they are scheduled to be done. I built a raised vege garden, I have built flower boxes, I have bought a lathe because I want to start making tables and hanging light boxes. I walk every opportunity I get, up to twelve kilometres at a time. We are going on a “last minute” cruise in three weeks. The list goes on…..

So what’s my conclusion on this twist in my life? No idea! But what struck me was, am I, consciously or unconsciously, ticking off a bucket list? Am I suddenly going through the process of trying to do a lot of the things that I have always wanted to do before it is “too late”?

Sound stupid? Probably is. However, I have also noticed something else happening in my life. I have always been the kind of person who, despite my depression and anxiety, has just kept going. During periods of deep depression I wouldn’t stop, I remember days when I would be driving to work with tears streaming down my face wishing that I was dead, but I wouldn’t stop, I just kept going. I would get through it and all would be ok, I didn’t stop planning and striving to get ahead and, although I always had that “I want to be dead” feeling lurking around in my head, I didn’t actually plan suicide or feel like I was dying. Now it is different. Since the early part of this year when I had a serious melt down and ended up in hospital, I now have an underlying feeling that I am slowly dying, even when I am not having a down period. It’s a strange kind of feeling because I can be enjoying myself doing something I like but deep inside somewhere I feel like little bits of me are dying, like threads of material are being pulled out one by one until eventually there won’t be enough threads left to hold the cloth together.

So, could this be the reason for my drive to do all these things or, am I just more crazy than I realize? Well you can decide for yourself, still maybe you have a similar thing happening in your life or something worse, maybe you should start your own bucket list……