If you’re ill and struggling with getting a diagnoses or help. You might want to read this. I hope it helps.
After four years of struggling with my mental health. Last year I was diagnosed as having (not being) Bi-polar Two.
I’ve been on quetiapine ever since. It’s a anti-pshychotic. It’s a mood stabiliser.
This is how I got to my diagnoses:
I’ve always been mad. It’s always been manageable. I’ve had long periods of depression. I have thought about killing myself. I’ve never tried.
We used to live in Dubai.We moved back & had our first child. Eighteen months later after excessive spending, insomnia, depression & general anger issues. I decided I needed help.
I didn’t go the doctor. I turned to my neighbour who was a mindfulness teacher. I did her course. It massively helped.
Then: Crazy idea! Let’s move house! We did.
I had reduced symptoms for a while. But still an underlying issue. Then I got pregnant again. Baby number two. Heaven for three days, then reoccurring mastitis, thrust in my boob and a breast abscess.
One of the most horrendous & painful periods of my life.
I was depressed, I was highly irritable, I was angry. I was not me. I haven’t been me since.
Husbands job was a joke. Stress stress stress. Anger.
Then: Brilliant idea! Let’s move to Devon! We did.
The day we moved in. Husband looses his job. Business goes under. Surprise surprise!
He works in London for four months. I’m left to unpack the house, look after the kids, restart work. Stress stress stress.
That summer was the worst time in my life. My rage reached unbound levels. I was the Antichrist.
I screamed at the kids. I hit the dog. I shook the baby. I was a total mess.
I went to the doctor. I was offered antidepressants. I didn’t take them.
I didn’t get better. I relished being destructive. I ran up our credit cards, I drank every day. I was utterly hideous.
I didn’t sleep. I didn’t eat anything of any nutritional value. I was in total self destruct mode. I tried to leave my husband. He talked me out of it again.
I went back to the doctor & pushed them for a physiatric referral. I got one. Three months later I had my assessment. With a nurse. Not a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with anxiety & depression. FUCK OFF.
I was put on antidepressants. Ok I’ll try it your way. They sent me spiralling further and further into oblivion. And they made me lose loads of weight.
I realised that every time they increased my dosage I went high. I told my GP. I came off them pretty quickly. I crashed.
I pushed for another referral. It was denied. This time they sent a letter saying I had Boarderline Personality Disorder. FUCK OFF DO I. It’s the one size fits all diagnoses for people who are naturally angry. Or always anxious. It certainly wasn’t me. Google it.
I was livid. How dare they diagnose me without seeing me again! My brilliant GP and I kept in touch. I wrote a journal of my symptoms. She sent it off. This time my referral was accepted. Phew. But…
With the slightest bit of stress (my main trigger) I’d be sky high & the hulk came out. After another crises I got to the docs & asked for something to sedate me. I was put on Diazepam.
After about two weeks I started to feel great! Normal even. I reduced my dosage and only took as an when needed.
Then after a three month wait I had my appointment with a consultant psychiatrist.
September 9th 2018 came. It’s bloody nerve racking walking into the mental health looney bin at a hospital. I was wondering whether my shoe laces would be confiscated & I’d be taken to a padded cell. I wasn’t.
I met with a doctor who started the conversation with ‘thank you for your letter, I feel like I know you already. It normally takes me three sessions to get this far with a patient.’
God was he actually taking me seriously? We spent the next hour confirming what I already knew. I was on the spectrum. High enough to warrant the good meds. Just below Bi-Polar and just above Cyclothymia. Bi-Polar two. Although not actually recognised by the NHS, it’s American apparently.
I left feeling weird. I was officially mental. Go home. Take the drugs. You’ll be on them for at least three years. Fuck.
What next? Side effects:
- Horrendous tiredness about 1/2 hour to an hour after popping a pill. Zombie-land.
- Weight gain. Shit.
- Chest tightening. Meh ok.
So that was me. It took about six weeks to get up to the right dosage. 300mg. I was taking evening & daytime. But was killing me, so went into 300mg at night.
How do I feel? I’m nearly a year in. I wouldn’t say better. I’d say better than I was. I can see the benefits of taking the meds, but they’re not the miracle cure that I was hoping for.
I’m now back on diazepam for ‘as and when I need it moments.’ It does help.
I still can’t tolerate stress. The last year has been full of family drama. But the highs and lows are now reigned in at both ends. I’m functioning. Just starting to live again.
So what works for me:
- Sleep and rest. Do not get tired.
- Limiting my exposure to stress. Near impossible.
- Eating well. Impossible when ill.
- Nature. Walks, camping, campfires. Awesome.
- Sunshine. For normal or low.
- Darkness & quiet. For high.
- Exercise. Something I struggle to fit into my life.
- Reducing sugar & alcohol intake. Tricky.
- Mindfulness. Part of daily life.
- Meditation. As much as I can.
- Being around friends.
- Talking therapy. Starting next week!
What urges I have to resist daily:
- Spending money.
- Crazy ideas taking over life.
- Being self destructive.
- Running off with Aidan Turner or Henry Cavill.
- Not killing my husband.
So that’s where I am today. Life and this illness is very hard when you have a young family & your relationship is near toxic.
I’ll keep blogging about how my health is. But mostly I’ll keep blogging about what helps. In the hope that others in need read this & know that you’re not alone.