How am I? A personal update

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that this is my personal blog. I have written so much recently about workfare, welfare reform and politics that I haven’t had time to write about anything outside of those. I have always found it useful to write down what I have been going through, to help get my own thoughts in order and so this is one of those blog posts.

A handful of pillsIn the last few weeks I have been trying reboxetine in addition to the escitalopram I was already taking to try to reduce my panic attacks and anxiety. Two days after I started taking reboxetine I spent a day in the worst depression that I have had for a few months and was suicidal as well as being really really horrible to my wife. This is always a possible temporary side effect with a new anti-depressant and fortunately I was much better after that. The new medication did seem to be working for a couple of weeks but in the last week I have had two big meltdowns, panic attacks leading into spiralling depression again.

Since referal to a psychologist seems to be rare and slow in my area, last week I started to attend a cognitive behavioural therapy group which I have been waiting to start for a few months. CBT (and I may be wrong here) appears to be a way to learn to see and understand the problematic thoughts and moods, and then provides a method of changing them. CBT is currently the most popular therapy for depression and anxiety. It isn’t without problems, and it isn’t for everyone. One person said to me today that CBT is “feels like brainwashing” and I think he is right, but it is self-brainwashing.

CBT has a bad reputation among patients with M.E. because many psychiatrists believe that M.E. is a somataform disorder – that is, they believe that M.E. is a set of physical symptoms caused by mental illness. Now this isn’t impossible in some cases, although I think in most cases it is unlikely given that people with M.E. can often overdo things on a good mental health day and still find themselves stuck in bed for days recovering from their exertion. More common is that depression arrives after and as a result of becoming sick with M.E. Anyway, since M.E. is a physical neurological illness which can be partly controlled by pacing and learning when to stop, the common fear is that CBT teaches M.E. patients to push themselves too far and end up enduring serious health repercussions. This bad reputation of CBT for people with M.E. is the reason why I changed my psychiatrist and checked that the CBT group wouldn’t attempt to interfere with my M.E.

Although this group is officially a CBT group it seems to be more than that.  We will be taught how to use CBT and Mindfullness, and we are working through a book called Mind Over Mood. (Affiliate link.) We are being taught some helpful things alongside that too. The group meets for two hours per week over twelve weeks and there are six of us, plus a psychologist and a community nurse. Group therapy provides the chance for us to support each other too and I have already found this useful in the first two sessions. While Twitter has been a lifeline by allowing me to be in contact with a lot of people in similar situations it is nice to discuss these things in person. (And I might be dragging some of these people on to Twitter!)

Apart from the depression and anxiety taking a turn for the worse again my M.E. has been significantly worse for a while. I currently can’t walk very far at all and have had to use my wheelchair a lot when going out as well as rely on my dad to drive me to medical appointments. I have been stuck in bed for the majority of most days because sitting in a chair is extremely draining. Unfortunately the two hours I have to spend at each CBT group session is very draining and I have had a lot of pain since yesterday’s session.

So things aren’t so great at the moment. Despite that, I am looking forward to going to QEDCon next week and then spending a week staying with my sister. When I get back I hope to collect my new car which I hope will allow me to leave the house a bit more often. I will finally be able to stop relying on my dad to drive me around and I also intend to start going swimming when I can drive myself to the pool, and to take a few trips to meet friends around the country. I just need to build up some strength for that one.

It’s all go! (Personal Update)

Moving home. It’s suddenly happening.

We were supposed to move out of our current flat by the end of last month, but despite our astonishment at being allocated a flat within two months, (I was rated priority Gold Plus by the housing association) we haven’t actually been allowed to move in yet because quite a lot of work had to be done to clear up after the last tenants. Our landlord and letting agency have been rubbish about this, grudgingly agreeing to let us stay an extra week but demanding that we hand over the keys at 8am on Monday the 6th. The housing association called today to say they can give us the keys to the new flat on Monday afternoon. They still haven’t fixed the boiler because the parts won’t arrive until the end of next week, but we can move in if we accept that there is no hot water.

Since then we’ve been rushing and stressing and trying to organise everything. The house movers are booked for Tuesday. I’ve ordered a cooker and a washing machine, expecting delivery on Wednesday, only to find out that they’re actually coming a week on Wednesday! These ones are still £120 cheaper than any other supplier though, so we’re sticking with it. So in our first week there we will have hot water only from the kettle and the electric shower, and will have to cook using the microwave, slow cooker and maybe camping cookers, and can’t wash any clothes. We might as well be camping!

Right, I have to go and contact lots of people to tell them that we are moving. And to magically find some energy to get through this.

 

 

 

Bust and boom, a spoonie tale

Yes, I know that the title has the phrase the wrong way around. But bust and boom perfectly describes what has happened to me in the last few hours.

Last night after dinner and watching Doctor Who my wife and I decided that we wanted cheesecake for desert. The nearest cheesecake was at the co-op which is about half a mile away from us. My wife asked me if I wanted to come out for the walk to go and get the desert. I stood up, stretched, checked whether I was able to stand without wobbling and walk without hurting, and said yes. I regretted it almost immediately, with pain in my left leg and foot, and I was putting weight on my stick from the start. After a short distance I had to stop and lean against a lamp post for a minute while I waited for pain to go down and dizziness to stop. A bit further and we started to go uphill. I was using my stick to push me uphill and was leaning on the hand that my wife was holding too. I was dizzy and out of breath, I had pain coursing through my feet, my legs, my arms, back, shoulders, neck and probably other bits if I thought about it. At the top of the hill was a low wall. I sat on it. I couldn’t move for fifteen minutes.

Having sent my wife on without me to get the cheesecake and waited for her return, I managed to stand up (just about) and stagger home, held upright by my wife and leaning heavily on my stick. On getting home I collapsed in bed, ate a slice of cheesecake, looked at twitter, and then promptly passed out. When my wife came to bed at 9:30 I took my medicine and went back to sleep. Although I woke up for a few minutes after midnight, I slept the whole night through and woke up shortly before 5am feeling pretty good! I amused myself with twitter, trying to stay in bed a bit longer until the rest of the world woke up. Sometime around 6am my wife woke up too, and she helped me fill up my medicine tray for the week. That was actually a fairly interesting half hour, as I talked her through the medicines I take and what they are all for. The only problem is that while distracted by talking about my medicines I accidentally took two doses of paracetamol. We checked up on it, and apparently the toxic dose for my body mass is 16g and I took 2g so I am not too worried about it.

Since I was obviously feeling quite well this morning I suggested that we go out for breakfast. This time although I was using my stick I wasn’t leaning on it that much. We walked all the way up to the pub, about the same distance as the co-op, with only one pause to sit on a bench halfway there. So now I am sitting in the pub writing this on my netbook. My wife has gone off to church, and I’m writing, websurfing and drinking coffee, and not feeling too bad. Which almost makes up for my disastrous walk last night.