Since my last blog post which you can read here, where I opened up about my depression and recent breakdown, I have been exceptionally lucky to access help almost immediately.
The day I acknowledged, with a few heavy hints from Dave and the girls, that my low mood had reached the point where I needed outside help to “fix” myself, I booked myself a doctors appointment and referred myself to Trent PTS for help.
Dave drove me and came into my GP appointment with me because I was so nervous I could barely speak. I am so grateful that he did because once in that doctors office I became beyond overwhelmed by the enormity of how awful I felt and how terrified I was, that I burst into tears. I tried to explain but kept faltering, so Dave stepped in and spoke on my behalf, with the odd sniff, nod and explosion of tears from me, quietly wringing my hands and rocking on my chair! The GP increased my antidepressants and checked I had referred myself for talking therapy. He then discussed my recent alcohol abuse and agreed that I should stay off the sauce and that he wanted me to book a appointment to be re~evaluated by a doctor in 4 weeks time, which is on 30th August.
THEN, only a few days later I received a call from Trent PTS offering me my first appointment with them on the Monday ~ 6 days after referring myself!
I met my therapist and we covered an awful lot of ground in that first appointment. We filled out the timeline from my birth to the present day and worked out which areas of my life had been affected by depression, what were the triggers and how we could best address it. Having had my black dog since my late teens meant we had to walk back in time and discuss the worst episodes, what medications I took and for how long, along with which therapies I had received. Needless to say I went through a fair number of tissues during that appointment.
My major issue is of negative thought relating to my inner critical self and the monologue of chastisements I receive from it through out each and every day. Feeling of not being “enough” and my role as a carer throughout my life, how not always being able to “fix” things distresses me and my “on the spectrum” issues. Finally the more personal issues relating to self~esteem, self~worth and lack of confidence. My sessions of CBT will be to work on all the above and hopefully help me find a way to love myself unconditionally by accepting and “owning” who I am without shame or excuses. She has her work cut out for her ~ but we gelled and I feel more positive now about the future and my ability to learn to cope and live with my depression more successfully.
Before I start on the work of CBT, which starts properly on Monday coming, I have been told to look at my life with positivity ~ to find the “reasons to be cheerful” in everyday life.
When I feel gut wrenchingly sad, when the lump in my throat and stomach feels like it’s killing me, to take a minute, close my eyes, relax and then think, think hard, what have I done or seen that is a reason to be cheerful.
I have also found out that ~ apart from feeling incredibly silly ~ forcing yourself to laugh can help too, you start out feeling a complete tool, forcing out this odd sounding laugh ~ but the more you do it something happens. You start to actually laugh, for real, at yourself, at life, at nothing in particular, but you laugh ~ sometimes I have to say manically, but it helps to release the tension that’s been bottling up and ready to explode.
So since my last blog post I have been seeking “reasons to be cheerful” and I thought I would share them with you..
- My dogs, they provide me with unconditional love, a warm body to cuddle into when I am feel horribly low and a listening ear when I need to offload.
- My family, they are giving me unquestioning space when I need it, love unconditionally and laughter ~ they know how to push the laughter button on me and make me realise that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
- The discovery of Huel, it is not only nutritionally complete but also vegan and being soy intolerant to find a meal replacement shake that I can tolerate is fantastic. It’s oat based and reminds me of original ready brek in flavour ~ you can buy different flavour boosts but I find I enjoy it without them. It mixes in the tumbler provided brilliantly with no lumps to gag your way through. I have a shake for breakfast and another for lunch, which helps me conserve energy and focus it on other things. Later when Dave gets home we cook our evening meal together. Today I lived a little on the wild side and had a blueberry muffing with my Huel.
- Next reason to be cheerful is my new watch which not only tells the time but tells me the weather, my heart rate, counts my steps and also links to my phone and so vibrates when I have messages. There are other applications too but these are the ones I use ~ and its purple!
- I am very slowly losing weight and am in 2 belt loops, 3 at a push ~ and my jeans are becoming looser on me. I’m hueling during the day and eating whatever I want for dinner at night, but think the combination of Huel and being booze free are why the weight is coming off.
- Three years ago I found a really comfy pair of shoes in Tesco, I wore them until they fell apart and having been looking out for them ever since, two years passed and no return of my favourite comfy shoe ~ then today they were there! So I plucked the last pair of size 7’s off the rack and am now happily wearing them. My feet are smiling at me and thanking me profusely.
- Hubby has just purchase a new car, for his everyday and for the family excursions ~ I am so in love with this vehicle. It is quiet, automatic, huge, and unbelievably comfy. It has air con, working stereo and takes LPG gas as well as petrol. Today, to make me happy Dave took me for a spin in it and said when I feel up to it I can drive it! Now this car doesn’t drive it glides, I spent the entire time grinning until my face ached!
- My penultimate reason to be cheerful for today ~ it’s totally unexpected, and still for my life I cannot see what this woman saw. I was in my car the other day with my first born and needed to ask for a barrier to be lifted. The woman in the kiosk just looked at me and pointed at the front of my car and loudly exclaimed “BATMAN”. Baffled I looked at Keisha and she at me, none the wiser ~ so the woman said “your number plate, BATMAN”. Clueless still I mumbled a “yeah” and she lifted the barrier. When we got out of the car both of us looked at my number plate and still don’t see Batman ~ do you?
- Apps ~ there are apps for almost anything! I have become reliant on a few which I will share with you.
- Nomo, for my sobriety ~ my GP wanted me to join AA but Dave helped me persuade him that this app was keeping me on track, I had to hand him my phone to show him the app first!
- Headspace, my meditation app, which really relaxes me and this is the first time I have been successful in meditating thanks to the soothing tones of the gentleman guiding the meditation sessions. I am currently going through the three basic foundation meditation packages and have downloaded, aside from the three basic ones, a number of other packages on areas I feel I need to work on, depression, anxiety, stress, sleep, pain management, self~esteem and acceptance. Finally I will tackle the six “pro” meditation packages to finish off. Hopefully after that I can either continue to use the app or meditate flying solo each day.
- Lose It, I use this mainly as a food diary and to track my weight and body measurements. I can use the barcode scan facility of the app to upload foods not already in the data base, if that’s unsuccessful I can than manually upload the data. It records my daily nutritional intake as well as protein, fat and carbs.
- Clue, Being peri~menopausal I am experiencing all kinds of hell from my fluctuating hormones. Hot flushes, irritability etc ~ you get the gist AND crazily irregular periods. This app allows me to record all my periods in detail but more than that I can record my body functions, vitality, activities and medical information too. It also allows you to export the information to your email so you can print it off to show your doctor, should you so desire.
- VeryFitPro,my new watch a Letscom Activity Tracker with Wrist Based Heart Rate Monitor binds to this app and allows it to track my heart rate, steps, sleep cycles, etc. I can then use it to send data to my email to print off to show my doctor if necessary. I am using it to gradually increase my activity to a point where I can take the dogs for a short walk ~ something I miss very much. The trick is to keep your heart rate within a certain range and successfully maintain a certain level of activity for a period of time without causing post exertional malaise. My starting point is 3,000 steps, which I know for healthy folk is a cinch ~ but for me it’s a stretch. Once I maintain happily 3,000 steps a day I will increase to 3,500 and so on. It’s a very slow and steady exercise but one I am determined to succeed and supported by my occupational therapist.
- Apple Health, this is already on most folks iphones and all my apps above link to it. This means I have a place where I can catch up on all my apps and see how they dovetail together to give a good overall picture of my health. It also has a page which can be accessed even when your phone is locked where I have my name, age, illnesses, medications, allergies and next of kin listed ~ which gives me peace of mind.
Just in case you are interested in heart rates and beats per minute. I looked up that the average persons resting heart beats between 60~100 beats per minute.
Next I worked out how much the maximum heart rate should be for an average person whilst exercising ~ this is worked out by deducting your age from 220 ~ being 48 mine is a maximum exercise heart beat of 172 beats per minute
Then I calculated the target heart rate whilst exercising should be within the following range;
(220 – age) x 50% which for me is 86
(220 – age) x 70% again for me is 120
My target range is to be within 86 ~ 120 beats per minute whilst exercising, which in my case is just walking.
So finally, I just wanted to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to each an everyone of you for your messages of support. I cannot express strongly enough how much that means to me.
I just want to say I am getting the help I need and am fully supported by my A~team at home. I hope you are too ~ reach out, ask for help, you are not alone.