Saturday, 8 November 2014

The long-term effects of OCD - and why I'm not blogging much any more

I haven't been adding to this blog much lately, but that isn't really a problem. I don't want to spend my whole life discussing chronic illness. It is emotionally exhausting, and I am also working on different writing projects.

I just felt the need to do a quick update. I am still struggling with IBS, skin rashes, PCOS, endometriosis, etc. My migraines and headaches don't seem to be as bad these days. I obviously do have the dyspraxia and other issues, but I am so used to living with these issues now. My mental health is up and down, but I am really trying to stay positive and I feel that I am making progress, although with frequent setbacks, and much ongoing stress.

The one thing that I have been thinking about, and which I wanted to mention, was how self-conscious I feel about the long-term damage and ageing which the OCD seems to have caused to my hands, which were one of the few physical features that I actually liked about myself originally. The weird thing is that, when the rashes on my hands clear up, as they have at the moment, I actually become more aware of, and distressed about, the long-term damage, which I have caused myself through the OCD. Even now, I can't stop doing the over-washing, and in a way, unless I feel that there is some hope of making my hands look "okay" again, it is difficult to believe that there is any point now. I am just so aware that I have messed up my own hands, when there was no need, and I am continuing to make it worse, but I can't stop. By the way, the rashes on my hands are the only ones caused by over-washing. My other rashes are due to two different forms of dermatitis, and are something different.

Love and peace, and thank you for reading this blog post. Please read my poems on my Facebook page. I am not directing people to my Tripod site at present, as the number of irritating video advertisements that they place on my page make the site dysfunctional, but I cannot afford to pay for site hosting, which is why I use free websites and blogs.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Semi-diagnosed?

Is being diagnosed with "Borderline Personality traits" and "PTSD-like symptoms" enough to entitle you to support for trauma-related mental health issues, if these are actually your main mental health problems, along with depression? Why is it that it still doesn't feel as though I have been properly diagnosed with anything in this area?

And why is my OCD not "OCD-like symptoms"? There are so many aspects of OCD that simply aren't relevant to me.

It's so confusing. Why is it made so ridiculously hard to get the help that you need?

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Not everything I do is "my OCD" just because I have the label!

Honestly, this drives me crazy - yes, even crazier than I was to begin with. The mental health so-called "professionals" select one of your mental health issues, which they consider to be the "main one", usually the one which is most visible. In my case, my OCD causes obvious physical symptoms - damage to my hands from over-washing them. It could therefore be said to be the most "visible". I have actually only had OCD, to any extent, since 2008, and it is not, and never has been, the mental health issue which causes me the most distress. It is more of a manifestation, rather than my underlying problem. Anyway, the "professionals" then see anything and everything as further evidence of the illness on which they have chosen to focus, even if something relates much more to another mental health issue, or is not even a mental health problem at all, but just part of your personality.

People with OCD are actually allowed to have personality traits that are both obsessive and compulsive, but are not part of the OCD. Also, as I stated in a previous post, not everyone with OCD has every type of OCD. I certainly do not.

I don't want to ramble too much in this particular blog post, as I have written quite a few longer blog posts. I just felt that I needed to make this point.

Thank you for reading this. Please also check out my
poetry site or/and Facebook poetry page.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Further to my last post about my mental health diagnosis

Finally, I am going to attempt to write this blog post. If you are reading this and haven't read my previous post regarding my mental health diagnosis, you might be interested in checking that out, as it gives more background about the situation which I am describing here.

Anyway, basically I have been trying, for some time, to persuade the mental health professionals to review my diagnosis. I had been under the impression that this was going to happen, and that I was going to be assessed for Borderline Personality Disorder, but this did not occur. The appointment with my psychiatrist and Community Psychiatric Nurse did take place, but we barely touched on the subject of BPD, and only then because I mentioned it, as they appeared to have no intention of doing so. They were more interested in discussing my OCD, as per usual, and trying to "push" medication at me. One pill suggested would make me gain weight - been there with that particular side-effect - and the other would cause diarrhoea, which is also not helpful, when you suffer, as I do, from IBS. However, I do give more details about this appointment in my previous post, so I won't ramble about it too much here.

As I said in my previous post, I did put my concerns into writing. When I eventually managed to get through to my CPN by telephone, she was extremely unhelpful, and gave me to understand that I was diagnosed with nothing more than depression, anxiety, OCD and "PTSD-like symptoms". She said that she was "not prepared to discuss the diagnosis further", but did tell me that the psychiatrist would write to me and enclose a copy of the letter which had been sent to my GP. I did specifically ask her whether my agoraphobia diagnosis had also been removed, and she told me that I did not have agoraphobia because "you do go out". I currently go out on as many days as I can, although I remain very close to my flat, but I do not feel that it is necessarily helpful to take away someone's agoraphobia diagnosis the moment that the person is able to leave his or her home. I will probably write another blog post about my agoraphobia, or agoraphobic tendencies, as I feel that this subject needs more "space", in order for me to discuss it fully. I must admit that it is a little complicated, as my not going out much relates to my physical, as well as mental, health. I did actually have two telephone conversations with the nurse, on the same afternoon, and the second felt more positive and constructive than the first, but I still did not entirely know what to expect from the letters which the psychiatrist would be sending. I could only wait.

Well, the letters arrived and, to be honest, it was not as bad as I had thought, or would have expected based upon what I had been told by my CPN, particularly during that first conversation. The psychiatrist seemed to have understood most of the points made during our interview, although there were still a few misconceptions, about which I know that I should write another letter, just to make matters a little clearer. I have lacked the motivation, so far, to do this, although I know that it is in my own best interests to do so. My official diagnosis now is recurrent depressive disorder, anxiety, OCD, Borderline Personality traits, and Post Traumatic symptoms, with panic attacks and depersonalisation. Although this does not cover everything, it is an improvement, and at least I have it in black and white, so that a week, year or decade later, they cannot change the words around and deny that the original ones were ever said at all, as has so often happened in the past.

I would recommend that anyone who has queries about his or her mental health diagnosis, or any aspect of treatment, should put these concerns into writing. That way, your letter has to be both answered at the time, and added to your medical files for future reference.

Thank you for reading this post. Please also check out my poetry site or/and my Facebook poetry page.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Mental health awareness and making a difference

Last night, I read a free magazine, produced by "Time to Change". It was positive and inspiring to read about so many excellent projects, and I totally agree that more conversations about mental health are needed, in order to break the stigma which still surrounds this topic.

However, I was left feeling that something had remained unsaid. That is why I decided to write this blog post.

We are not all able - often due to the precise nature of our mental health issues, and perhaps other factors, including our physical health - to actively participate in many of the more "out there" mental health awareness campaigns. Possibly we can help indirectly, including through the promotion of events, by various methods, such as sharing links on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media websites, and this is still valuable and important, but we may not feel that it is equal to being an active participant.

What I would like to point out is that many of us do a lot individually to spread the word. I often feel that there is a lack of recognition for everyone out there who is blogging, vlogging, Tweeting, and sharing personal stories, in various forms, on Facebook, Tumblr, and other social media sites. There are people who write and share poetry and art work of various kinds, relating to mental health issues. So many people set up support groups, and inspirational pages about recovery, on Facebook and other sites. These people are not being paid, and rarely ask for or require grants or any form of financial assistance. I mean, it is free to set up a Facebook page, Twitter or Tumblr account, or a basic blog.

I am not writing this blog post in order to complain as such. I am writing this blog post because I would like to thank all of the individuals out there who have inspired me, in various ways. I would also like to encourage those who are feeling disillusioned, and thinking of giving up on their blogs, poetry, Facebook pages, and so on. Please do not give up. You are needed. Your contribution is valued.

Thank you for reading this post, and please do visit my poetry website or/and my Facebook poetry page. Any "likes" on the Facebook page would be very much appreciated. Your support means a lot to me. If you have already "liked" the page, but don't seem to be "seeing" my posts, drop in on the page, as Facebook stops showing posts if you don't actively express an interest in a particular page.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Attempting to have my mental health diagnosis reviewed

I am as ready as I will ever be to discuss this subject on my blog. I have been trying, for some time, to have my mental health diagnosis adjusted, as I do not feel that my current diagnosis covers many of my major issues.

Unfortunately, when I finally had an interview with a psychiatrist, who is new to our local mental health centre, and my CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse), they did not assess me for the criteria of BPD, as I had been expecting. I was asked more questions about OCD, with which I am already diagnosed, than BPD. They contradicted themselves more than once. My CPN talked one moment as if I had been diagnosed with PTSD all along. The next moment, I had "PTSD-like symptoms". The psychiatrist said that there had "never been any question of" BPD, and then changed this to "might have Borderline features". They were so inconsistent. Also, the nurse ridiculed me, with a dismissive one-liner: "I think Paula read something on the internet." I have been researching BPD for some time now, both online and offline, and through talking to others who have the diagnosis. To imply that I might have "self-diagnosed", as they like to call it, on the basis of some vague comment online, is patronising and totally inaccurate.

I meet almost all of the criteria for BPD, but I seem to be a "quiet Borderline" or "introverted subtype". I tend not to exhibit extreme behaviour, and am more likely to turn my pain and anger inwards. I am also older than most people would be when they are diagnosed with BPD, and it would probably be embarrassing for them to admit that I might have had the condition all along, and they didn't even notice. Yet, I have symptoms which are not covered by my existing diagnosis, and it is obvious to me that a diagnosis of BPD should at least be properly considered.


It's all very well for people to say that it's wrong to "self-diagnose", but what are we supposed to do, when they won't even take us seriously and go through the criteria with us - having promised to assess us for an illness, for which we meet the criteria? I am sure that, if I went to a GP and asked to be assessed for diabetes, he or she would ask about my symptoms and then do the relevant blood tests, as opposed to simply demanding whether I had read about the condition online. At the end of the day, is the source of my information that important? Surely it is more important to ensure that patients receive an accurate diagnosis?

I have put my concerns in writing, so I shall have to wait and see what comes of this. Thank you for reading this post. Please also check out my Facebook poetry page and poetry website.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Misconceptions about OCD

What concerns me even more than a lack of awareness about OCD, is the fact that people think that they are aware, but are being given inaccurate information.

OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is an anxiety disorder, involving, as the name suggests, obsessions and compulsions. I am not going to go into detailed definitions, as many books and websites cover this area already, much more effectively than I am able to. I just really wanted to make a few points.


To begin with, OCD takes many forms. In my own case, I do excessively wash my hands, which is one of the main stereotypes. I worry about hygiene, but particularly anything relating to bodily fluids. Many people with OCD do not do this. They may not be obsessed with hygiene at all - or, even if they are, may deal with their obsessions in different ways. I do not alphabetically sort my CDs, or count tiles, or any behaviours of this nature. Others with OCD do, because they do not have the same type of OCD as me. Some people have many types of OCD, but I don't have most of them - only really the obsessions which I have developed relating to aspects of hygiene. It is also wrong to assume that any obsessive behaviour in someone who has been diagnosed with OCD, can be attributed to the disorder. People with OCD often have other mental health issues, which is true in my own case, and some of an individual's obsessive behaviours may result from the other illness or illnesses. It may also not be due to a mental health problem at all. Everyone has some "obsessions", whether or not the person suffers from mental illness.

OCD is not the same as OCPD, which stands for Obsessive Compulsive Personaltiy Disorder, and is a separate diagnosis, although the two overlap and have many features in common.

OCD awareness is not, in my opinion, helped either by television programmes which sensationalise the illness, or Facebook pages which go to the opposite extreme, quite possibly in a misguided attempt to rectify the negative image given by the programmes in question. A while ago, one of these pages did a "campaign", which involved continually posting photographs of healthy looking people, with positive information about their lives, and then a final line saying: "I have OCD." Whilst I can understand that they were trying to make the point that people with OCD are not "freaks", and that you might not even know about the illness just by looking at the person - without any actual information about OCD, and how it does impact upon the lives of sufferers, this does not spread awareness and is, at best, irrelevant. Also, in the real world, OCD can be very visible, and it might not do people any harm to look at hands like mine, since that would quickly dispel any myths about OCD being "glamorous". Moderate to severe OCD, as with any mental health issue, has a much more debilitating effect on the lives of sufferers than milder cases of the illness. I would guess that many of the people who were represented as the so-called "faces of OCD" had milder forms of the illness, which is why they managed to live such full lives in spite of OCD. I cannot say for sure, however - since, as I mentioned before, no information was actually ever given relating to these people's experiences of OCD as such.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.  Please note that I also have a
poetry site and a Facebook poetry page.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Feeling emotional, skin rashes and more

They say that it's good to cry and let the emotions out, but sometimes it isn't - like, when it hurts. I don't mean emotionally, but physically. Basically, my skin rashes are back, including dry flaky skin on my face, and red patches on my neck, arms, legs, and various other areas. I have a specific type of dermatitis, which was diagnosed, but I can never remember the name. I don't want to talk too much about this now. I might expand in another post. I need to learn to focus on what I am trying to express, and not go off at a tangent. I am always rambling, and I know that I must become boring. Anyway, it physically hurt and stung my eyes and I couldn't open them at all for a couple of minutes. It was horrible. That's because I've got so much dry skin around my eye areas and crying really aggravated it. I know that it sounds ridiculous, but it was stressful.

I do know that I should really get the skin rashes checked out further, as in full allergy testing - but the fact is that, when I saw the dermatologist, nearly a year ago now, she actually said, and I agreed, that it was unrealistic, and would be counterproductive, to try to get me into the hospital three times in one week, when I have agoraphobia and IBS and various other issues, which would make this extremely stressful - and to be honest, in practical terms, highly unlikely. The appointments would need to be on specific days at specific times and, if I missed even one, it render the results invalid and useless. I don't know how these things work precisely, but that is how I understand it.

Anyway, so much for getting my hair dyed this month, even if I could overcome the other obstacles, and there are many. The hairdressers simply cannot do the dyeing procedure if the rash around my neck area flares up badly, as it has done. I know that this sounds like a small thing, but it isn't to me, as I don't feel confident without having my hair dyed, and I am also starting to have problems due to the fact that my hair has become resistant to the dyes. It took something like two and a half hours for them to dye it and redo the process last time, and the end result was good enough, but I cannot possibly go through such a long procedure each time. I am concerned that, if I push the point about breaking it up into two sessions, we are going to get into the fact that I am requiring an extra appointment. I am on a very limited income and I hope that I won't have to pay double the usual amount, even if I do have to pay something extra. It may happen that they will have to charge me extra in any case, whether or not it is done in a single session. They didn't say this, but I have to be realistic, and it does involve extra time and work for the stylists, so I can't and don't resent it - simply wonder how I am going to afford it. Part of the reason why I particularly wanted to go to the hairdressers after only one month this time, instead of two or more, was because I hoped that it might make the difference and mean that they could dye it successfully on the first attempt, without having to redo the entire process. By the way, there are many reasons why I cannot do the procedure myself at home, as people always mention this, and have often been critical and hurtful with their comments, implying that I should not be going to the hairdressers, as I am currently on benefits. I actually have very few luxuries these days. My over-spending and drinking days were behind me long ago. I don't have my hair cut each time unless I haven't managed to get there for two months or longer, and it is still quite expensive, but I don't, for example, go out socialising, and haven't been on holiday since 2008. I don't feel that I should have to justify this, but maybe it is good for me to explain, as it helps me, if nothing else.

One more point about my skin rashes: I have dermatitis on my hands and part of my arm that is caused by over-washing them. I do this because I have OCD. This is not the same as the rashes which occur elsewhere on my body. 


I do have creams which I can use on my various rashes, and have often found that anti-histamines also help.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Love and blessing to all of you.
 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

My version of maladaptive daydreaming

I don't seem to fit in again.  Story of my life?  Further to my last post, on the subject of maladaptive daydreaming - it seems that people are describing fantasy worlds in which they have a whole new identity, maybe have magical powers, and so on.  One girl mentioned hanging around with cartoon characters.  That's not what I meant really.  I actually have fantasies which involve real people.  In a way, that is worse.  They can be very elaborate.  I have invented children for myself in some of them.  I don't have a different name in my daydreams, but I guess that I am more of an idealised version of myself.  I do lose a lot of time on being "in a world of my own", though.  I know that. 

Anyway, I don't know if I have found much that I relate to, after all.  It's disappointing.  Maybe I really am the only one who is like this.  I doubt it actually, but I don't think that the "maladaptive daydreaming" label, as it stands, seems to cover it. 

Maladaptive daydreaming

I have just discovered the term "maladaptive daydreaming", and I feel overwhelmed. I cannot believe that I have never heard of it before, as this is something to which I totally relate. I first heard the term in relation to Dissociative Identity Disorder, which I don't have, although I do experience dissociation, and many aspects of DID overlap with my own mental health issues. I have now done a search on Google, and there are people discussing "Maladaptive Daydreaming Disorder" or "MDD", although it appears that this is probably not yet an official diagnostic category.
 

I have been trying to piece together my own jigsaw, due to the lack of interest and support from the mental health team, none of whom will even seriously discuss my depression with me, since changing my "primary diagnosis" to OCD. I know that they often resent my attempts to investigate my own mental health, and to learn about mental health disorders in general, but I only want some answers, and to find out what is going on with myself. I am also interested in finding out about different mental illnesses, so that I am in a better position to help and understand others. I am so fed-up with hearing that people shouldn't "self-diagnose", with either physical or mental health problems. I wouldn't even be diagnosed with dyspraxia had I not first "self-diagnosed", later having the diagnosis confirmed by professionals. Self-diagnosis can be dangerous, but so can just "going along with" what you know to be an inaccurate or incomplete diagnosis.


Anyway, I am going to research "maladaptive daydreaming" some more. I don't feel ready to explain it yet, as I am only just discovering about it myself, although believe me, it is nothing new that I am hearing about. The only aspect that has come as a shock to me is that there is actually a name for something which I have experienced since childhood.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

IBS and Imodium addiction

So far on this blog, I seem to have concentrated mainly on mental health issues. I have much more to say on the subject of mental health, but today's post is going to be about one of the physical health problems from which I have suffered for several years now: IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

I don't think that I particularly need to explain what IBS means as such. Most people have a general idea and, in any case, the information is readily available, online and in books.

It is hard to explain to people how disabling IBS can become, especially as many people with mild IBS do "get on with it" and manage to lead full lives, but for me, and many others, it becomes very restrictive.  It drastically affects my ability to get out, and to stay out for long when I do. I also suffer from other problems, including dyspraxia, agoraphobia, social phobia, reactive OCD, and depression, which combine to make it that much more difficult to get out, and to cope once I am out, and it is impossible to put each different illness into a box and treat it entirely separately, without reference to the others. However, often for me, at the moment, the deciding factor in whether or not I can get out will be the IBS.

As I have PCOS and endometriosis, and these conditions also make my periods worse - and the pills that I use to help with my heavy periods have the unfortunate side-effect of making my IBS symptoms that much worse - I rarely leave my flat at all during my period. Until recent years, I did go out during my period, but I have become more disabled by this now. My periods are even heavier than before and I have developed the endometriosis, which I did not suffer from before.

I currently take peppermint oil capsules before meals and approximately four or five Imodium tablets per day. Taking so much Imodium does have some negative side-effects, but I could not get through without it. The doctors, although they prescribe the medication and got me into using it initially, want me to reduce the dosage, with a view to coming off the tablet altogether, and are unsympathetic about how difficult this is for me. They reduced my prescription to three tablets per day on the week that I moved, just over a year ago now, and moving is so stressful anyway, as most people realise. Since then, the issue has not really been resolved. I was buying my own tablets to "top up" those prescribed, but it is becoming harder to get hold of Imodium from the stores to which I can physically get. My husband and remote carer has had to buy them for me on many occasions, which causes a great deal of conflict and stress. I do want to reduce my Imodium intake, as I don't even like being on medications in general, having had so many bad experiences with prescription drugs. However, I feel that I need to do this at my own pace, so that it doesn't set me back further, and potentially make me entirely housebound.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and, if you do suffer from IBS, I wish you well. You are not alone.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Self-injury

I am aware that self-injury is a difficult subject. It is controversial and widely misunderstood - and for many of us, addressing the issue can be emotional and deeply painful. I am also conscious that my last post was about depression. This blog was, and is, not intended to be exclusively about mental health. It is a blog about chronic illness, both physical and mental. However, the issues that are on my mind at a particular time will tend to be reflected in what I feel the need to write about, and this seems unavoidable. I have been thinking a lot about self-injury, and in a way, I need to write this post, in order hopefully to move on.

I shall start with the term "self-injury". Perhaps the more commonly used term would be "self-harm", and I must admit that this is the one that I have generally used myself. However, I am using self-injury here, as it is more specific. Self-harm is a broad term, which covers addictions, eating disorders, and so on, as well as self-injury. Self-injury usually refers to "cutting", although people self-injure in many different ways. I will only use the term "self-harm", for the purposes of this post, when I feel that self-harm, in the wider sense, is applicable to what I am saying. I hope that this is not too confusing.

Self-injury is not the same as attempted suicide, and this needs to be made clear. Many people who self-injure do have suicidal thoughts and feelings, and people who self-injure may also, at some point, attempt or seriously contemplate suicide, but self-injury in iself is not attempted suicide. It is a coping mechanism, although not a healthy one. It is a way in which people survive and deal with emotional pain, which they could not otherwise endure. It is particularly important that self-injury is not confused with attempted suicide, as this also leads to genuine suicide attempts being dismissed as "self-harm" or "self-injury".

As to whether self-injury is for attention - occasionally, yes - but usually not, and often people will be desperate to hide self-injury scars. People's motives and personal issues vary, but in my experience, most people who self-injure are not attention seeking.

People who self-harm are likely to suffer from depression or/and anxiety, but most people with depression or/and anxiety disorders do not self-harm. There is a much stronger specific associaton between self-harm and, for example, BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder), both of which usually result from trauma, particulary in childhood.

It is a misconception that self-injury is either an exclusively "teenage issue", or an exclusively "female issue". It affects people of all ages, and males as well as females. This needs to be recognised so that more people feel able to openly discuss their problems and experiences.

I have not mentioned much about my own experiences here. I have "cut" in the past, but I don't currently, and I have never had a serious problem with cutting, compared to many others. I have mainly used another method of self-injury, with less severe, long-term consequences. I still use this method of self-injury at present. I am trying to reduce how frequently I do this. I wanted to discuss this subject, not only because of my own experiences, but because it concerns me in general, and because I do know others who self-injure.

I find it draining to write these blog posts but, if one person out there feels less alone as a result of reading my words, then it will have been worth the effort. I have felt so alone, with so many struggles throughout my life. Nobody deserves to feel that way.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Chronic moderate to severe depression

I would like to discuss some questions and feelings that I have about depression - in general and also relating to my own experience of depression.

First of all, I would like to clarify that I have always suffered from depression - for as long as I can remember. I remember having these feelings as a small child of two or three years old. Often when I tell people this, they simply refuse to believe me. The next question is always whether or not it was diagnosed. No, I was not diagnosed with depression at two years old, but I know that I have always had the feelings of depression. When I was around eight years old, my mother told me that I mustn't pull the bed covers right over me, as I could suffocate and die. I had apparently done this unknowingly. After this, I deliberately tried to do the same, but it didn't work, because she always checked on me at night. I don't know if it could really have worked anyway, but it has always stayed in my memory, as this shows how young I was when I actually started to have suicidal thoughts and feelings.


In the process of researching the subject of this blog post online, I have come across more information, which is of interest, and may to some degree, be the answer to some of my questions. My concern has been that most information given about depression, in books and online, describes two specific types of depression: major depressive episodes, and dysthymia, with the latter term basically referring to chronic mild depression. To me, this simply fails to address the fact that depression can often be both chronic and moderate or severe. Even the fact that "double depression" is occasionally acknowledged - episodes of major depression, occurring in those already suffering from chronic depressive disorders - doesn't entirely cover what I am talking about, although it is a start, and I certainly wish that double depression was more frequently mentioned. However, I have to say that I have now come across the term "persistent depressive disorder", which does seem to make more allowances for longer-term cases of major depression. This term apparently came into use in May 2013, although this appears to be in the USA. I don't know if this term is current here in the UK and elsewhere, although I am hoping that it is.

I have to say that I don't find that the distinction between mild, moderate and severe depression is always appropriate. If you suffer from mood swings as I do, it is actually possible to make the transition rapidly from mild depression, which could easily be missed altogether, and which can often be "covered up", to being literally suicidal. Dramatic mood swings are a well-known feature of bipolar disorder, but they also occur in unipolar depression, particularly when someone has Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD features. My own mood swings would be between my "normal" (for me) state, and severely depressed or/and angry or/and agitated or/and panicky. They occur more frequently just before, during, or just after my period, but happen enough at other times to mean that they can't be attributed entirely to my menstrual cycle. Sometimes, the mood changes are very sudden. Since I do not get "highs", I do not consider that my mood swings relate to bipolar disorder, although it is true that the distinction between unipolar depression and bipolar disorder is not always as clear as is often imagined, especially when considering forms of bipolar such as cyclothymia. By the way, with regard to BPD - I am not currently diagnosed with this, but I am trying to get my diagnosis reviewed. However, that subject would require a blog post of its own, which I may consider writing in the future.

I do get frustrated, to say the least, by talk of "serious mental illness", which somehow excludes depression. Severe depression can actually be classed as a serious mental illness, and it is a misconception that it is not. Also, I think that there should be more recognition for the specific struggles of people suffering from both depression and anxiety. It is not easy to live with either depression or anxiety, but to suffer from both can be much more disabling than people often realise. I will talk more about anxiety disorders in a future post, and possibly cover the specific difficulties that many of us have when we deal with both anxiety and depression.


Thank you for reading. I do have several ideas for possible future posts, so watch this space. If you are struggling with depression, know that you are not alone, and there is always hope.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Getting out and about

I had been hoping to write a post on why I find it so difficult to get out and about, which is due to various factors, involving long-term physical and mental health problems. I actually attempted to put these into some sort of logical order in my mind, by creating a mind map.

However, I begin to wonder how personal I want my explanations to be. I do have a tendency to be very open, which is generally positive, but I sometimes feel that I can be a little too open. This can leave me feeling vulnerable and exposed. Also, it does offend people on occasions, and although I can't, and won't, let this stop me from being who I am, I really don't like to feel that I have upset people, and I do fear losing friends. As well as these considerations, I don't particularly want to write blog posts that sound more like answers on a DLA form, or whatever they call those forms nowadays. (I can't always keep up with the constantly changing terminology, I'm afraid.)

Anyway, I may or may not write the blog post that I originally planned to write, but for now, I would just like to mention that, although I do struggle to get out, I am trying to overcome this, with some success. I don't get out every day, but my ideal would be to do so, and I get out as many days as I can, although usually only for a short local walk. I have recently managed to get the the hairdressers on one occasion, and to a local furniture store and cafe on another. These were significant achievements for me.

I did go for a short local walk this afternoon, but to be honest, I haven't achieved much else today. This is largely because I have felt depressed and withdrawn. Writing this blog post now means that I at least have something to show for the day.

Love and blessings to all of you, and I hope that I will have more productive days to tell you about in the near future.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Welcome

So, why a new blog? As many of you will know, I have started up quite a few blogs, in the past. Of these, my poetry blog has been the most consistently active. In terms of prose blogs, I have always struggled to keep up with them, after the initial enthusiasm, for various reasons. I do tend to need a change of focus from time to time, which is legitimate, although I must admit that I am also prone to losing interest, and randomly abandoning projects. So, exactly how many groups did I start up on Flickr, in the days when that website was what online basically meant to me...? That is, before Beliefnet took over as my latest online obsession - followed by various Ning networks, and then, of course - it had to happen - Facebook...! In fact, I have learnt somewhat from past experiences, and I set up just the one group on Beliefnet; resisted the urge to set up my own entire social network on Ning, in the days when it was free, and believe me, it was tempting; and as for Facebook, I might have joined a lot of groups and fan pages, but in terms of setting up my own - I have only ever set up one page (apart, of course, from my profile page), for sharing my poetry. I try to ensure that anything that I do set up, is something that I could abandon at any moment, without feeling that I had let anyone down. This does take the pressure off, as I don't work well when I feel under pressure, whether that be external or internal pressure.

Anyway, the main intended focus of this new blog is going to be living with chronic physical and mental illness. I will discuss some of the specific issues that I struggle with in my own life, and this blog will hopefully also provide information and inspiration for others. If nothing else, I want people out there who do suffer with chronic health problems to know that they are not alone. I also feel that it is important to spread awareness, and blogs are one of the many ways in which this can be achieved.

Another personal reason for setting up a blog is that I find myself talking more and more to different friends, at different times, about health related issues, and I really want to have a "central place" for my rambling. Sometimes I feel, rightly or wrongly, that I should make an effort not to moan so much to friends, and those around me, but I don't feel that "keeping it inside" is helpful, so in a way, a blog can be like a constant best friend, who is there whenever I want to talk, in a way that no actual person could ever be. That might sound a little negative, but it isn't really, as my friends do have the option of reading my blog posts, as and when - and of course, it won't entirely "shut me up"...!

Thank you for taking the time to read my first post, and hopefully, there will be more.