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I don't want to live my whole life like this

(17 Posts)
anchovies Mon 03-Dec-12 09:09:26

Just thought I'd post my experience as I think it might give you some hope! I have had various depressive episodes over the past 6 years and have tried a variety of medications. I am now on 225mg extended release venlafaxine and feel 100%

My psychiatrist suggested that we needed to find a medication that made me completely better for an extended period - 12 months or more. Like you I feel the depression is completely chemical. He likened my situation to a boulder on a hillside; I kept pushing it most of the way up but eventually it rolled back down. I am hopeful that at this higher dose and with a long period of feeling better I can stop it from happening again. I am also looking at mindfulness as a long term strategy for staying well (may be better to wait until you're feeling better before looking into this too much.)

The best thing is you can see the signs and can take action now before it gets bad again!

Ok, when I was on venlafaxine, it triggered a period of mania, that was on a dose of 300mg extended release. Some studies have suggested this will happen to one in four people who take it.
I was lucky as in I did not get any withdrawal symptoms though.
Mindfulness? Are you any good at it? At the most basic this means staying only in the moment, focusing solely on what you are doing right at that moment, if your thoughts wander you bring them back to the present moment.
Also can I recommend looking for some guided visualisation? I bought a cd off amazon, can't remember what it was called but it was pinky purple with a butter fly on the front.
But if you type guided visulisation into amazon, you will come up with loads.
You can also find visualisations on YouTube but it is a bit hit and miss as to whether they are any good.

cowardlylionhere Sun 02-Dec-12 22:32:55

I'm not convinced it's solely chemical or environmental or necessarily a reaction to any one specific thing though. That's too simple. No one big traumatic thing happened to me either. Genetics is a possibility, there's a lot of depression and anorexia in my family and it's fascinating to wonder if it's genetic, environmental, an emotionally unhealthy upbringing, or what? I think it's a mix of things. he fact that you can recognise you're on the edge of an episode is good. You know yourself and your moods to know that's not good and you must recognise that as progress. It also gives you more power to stop it in it's tracks, or at least make each episode a little less terrible than the last if that makes any sense. Meds can be hit and miss, getting one that works can be lifechanging. Do you actually have a sound diagnosis? I spent years thinking I was a chronic depressive, but the diagnosis and treatment that actually got me somewhere was actually for OCD and anxiety, and the CBT I had for that has helped me immensely over the last few months. Without it I'd have sunk like a brick. I don't know what DBT is, but it's worth a go. And don't be afraid to ask to change counsellors. I knew immediately that mine was a good fit and I still miss her.

AndThenTheBassetHoundWokeUp Sun 02-Dec-12 22:19:59

Definitely chemical, million - nothing traumatic has ever happened to me, and I've spent many hours convincing counsellors/therapists of that. In a way, that gives me hope - if I can just get the right mix of meds, hopefully it can be sorted. Thank you, by the way - I'm using a namechange for this thread, but you've been lovely to me already today on another thread under my regular name! You're very kind. thanks

I haven't mentioned it to anyone at work yet - I suppose if things get much worse I will have to. I never told them anything about my past MH issues (I didn't formally apply for the job, it just developed out of a casual volunteering position, so I never filled in a form or had an interview), but the boss is a nice person and I think he'd be understanding. I just really don't want it to come to that, and because I've only been working there for 6 months or so I don't feel like they "owe" me any favours, if you like - I feel indebted to them for giving me the job in the first place, I'm certainly not irreplacable (in fact, the way I've been lately, almost anybody could do my job better sad ) so I don't think they'd have any incentive to accommodate my needs IYSWIM.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 22:00:14

Some people on the MH board think depression can be either a chemical imbalance or a sort of sadness from things that may be going on or have happened in the past[I think I have got that right, someone can come along and correct me if I am wrong on that].
Do you think you may have one rather than the other?

AndThenTheBassetHoundWokeUp Sun 02-Dec-12 21:49:59

As far as I can see, there's no pattern to be found - the dips come at different times of year, there never seems to be any kind of triggering incident. The venlafaxine seemed to be working, it gave me the boost I needed to get my job - all the AD's I've tried in the past have worked at first but then stopped, but I was put on this one because they thought it would work better in the long term so I hope it will kick in again if I get the dose increased. Why didn't you like them, Maggie? I was a bit annoyed that my psychiatrist didn't mention the crippling withdrawal symptoms before prescribing them, but I think he was assuming I'd be on them for the forseeable future - I only found out about the withdrawal when I forgot to take them for a couple of days and thought I was dying. blush

littleacceb Sun 02-Dec-12 19:47:28

So sorry you're feeling this way.

The number one thing that I've found with therapy (I'm Borderline Personality) is finding the right person for you. It wasn't until I found a therapist to whom I could really relate that I really started to make progress. If you haven't found that person yet, then use any momentum you currently have to keep looking.

Please, please shout and yell for help as much as you can. Here, your GP, your family. You are not alone.

Selks Sun 02-Dec-12 19:40:33

Hi AndThen. I'm sorry that you're going through this and I can understand you feeling worried that you might be taking another downward slide.

Can you discuss it with work? Employers have a duty under anti-discrimination legislations to not discriminate against people with a disability including mental illness (although I am not meaning to suggest that you necessarily identify with being disabled or that your depression is a disability). Your employer may be supportive and may try to take some pressure off you for a while or whatever. They may prefer to be supportive with the aim of supporting you staying in work rather than going off sick. Not all employers are supportive with issues like these however so you would have to weigh up whether it would be a helpful thing or not to disclose to your employer.

The other thing I wanted to suggest as being known (research shows) to be very helpful for recurring or cyclic depression is Mindfulness, which is an offshoot of CBT and was draws from elements of Buddhist meditation. It's not in the least bit 'woo' however, and is a recognised and accredited form of therapy. There is lots of information about Mindfulness online. The availability of mindfulness therapists varies from area to area but I would suggest it is worth seeking one out.
Best wishes x

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 19:33:37

As cowardlylion asks, do you see a pattern at all?

Does the time of year affect you, lack of daylight, lack of sunshine, stress etc.
Lack of exercise,sitting down a lot,diet not so good, worries,overwork,bad periods etc.
It may be worth keeping some sort of diary.
There may not be any links at all, or there might be.

And I agree with trying out DBT, the skills it gives you are lifesaving. How good at mindfulness are you?

Has the venlafaxine been working up until recently?
I hope upping the dose will help you but from my own personal experience, it's not a drug I would ever touch again.

AndThenTheBassetHoundWokeUp Sun 02-Dec-12 19:26:38

Thank you all, I wasn't expecting so many replies so quickly! thanks I am getting pretty much all the help I can - I'm under a consultant psychiatrist who I see every few months, I also have a CPN and will be seeing him next week, and I've been on all sorts of medication over the years, currently taking 75mg Venlafaxine, which is a low dose so I'm hoping I can get that increased and maybe that will help. I've done CBT courses with several different therapists and never found it very useful - I think DBT would be good, I've done a bit on my own with a book, but there's nowhere in my area that offers it. The fact that I have so much help almost makes me feel worse in a way - like, I still feel awful even with all of this support, and I'm running out of options. My parents are very supportive and have made it clear that I can stay with them for as long as I need to - I know my mum worries about the idea of me moving out and living alone anyway - but who wants to live with mum and dad forever?

Crawling Sun 02-Dec-12 19:16:38

I have scizoaffective/bipolar 1 my first major episode was age 13 which was a psychotic mania my next was age 15 and a psychotic depression I was admitted to psychiatric services e.g pychiatrist psychologist for over a year and spent two months in hospital after a failed suicide attempt. This has continued till now with a major episode every other year and psychotic episodes in between.

I was a straight a student yet because of my illness I have no qualifications. my illness will never leave me but i keep going for my dc and because now im on meds with a great support network I hope to study for my dream job (Pychiatrist ) which I hope my illness will help me help mentally ill people.

Watt you said is exactly how I feel and sometimes I don't feel like rebuilding either just thought id post so you know your not alone.

freakingaht Sun 02-Dec-12 19:16:25

I can't wave a magic wand i'm afraid and I have no real words of wisdom. I just wanted to say how I really do feel for you in this situation. The threat of this must be hanging over you all the time. I was not sure from your post whether or not you have the support of mental health services to help you through this. Have you tried CBT or any kind of talking therapy? I know that sounds simplistic to suggest but if you are managing alone I am guessing it must be hard going. Perhaps given your age you may find that your coping strategies improve as you get older. How are your family with this? do have a support network around you? I am really hoping that things improve for you. Its such a crap and flippant thing to say I know but just hang on and try to stay positive and find someone to talk to who will listen and help you through.

cowardlylionhere Sun 02-Dec-12 19:15:47

Are you on any medication at all? Is there anything that triggers these episodes, or even a casual link between them all? Time of year maybe? I do think that some people are unfortunately more prone to depression than others, but you mustn't see it as a life sentence. To look into the future and seeing the cycle going on and on is the disease talking imo. When you're in it you can;t see that there is another side to come out from. I've had some major episodes of depression, beginning at about the same time as yours. One was diagnosed as PND and that was the first time I really took it seriously and got some proper help, in the form of CBT and some proper medication. I've had episodes since, but I've always been able to identify the trigger rather than it being a general depression. CBT helped me so much. I'm now in the middle of a very stressful time of my life, I've got 3 dc, one of whom is 8 mo, my partner walked out and I've moved right across the country. But because of my CBT it's not got on top of me the way it would have done in the past. Your GP can refer you. Don't wait til it gets overwhelming. Make an appointment now.

ArthurPewty Sun 02-Dec-12 19:10:38

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AndThenTheBassetHoundWokeUp Sun 02-Dec-12 19:02:38

I was diagnosed with depression when I was 14. Had my first major episode when I was 17 (by major, I mean I completely ceased to function for about 6 months, couldn't leave the house, mum had to give up work to keep me on suicide watch). Recovered, finished my A Levels, went to uni. Had my second major episode at the age of 19, had to drop out of my degree and move home again, basically the same mess as before. Recovered, decided not to go back to uni and went into a full time job instead. Started making plans to move out and live on my own for the first time. In between "episodes" I still suffer from depression, but I can function as long as I keep taking my AD's.

Now I'm 21 and recognising the signs that I'm heading towards another major breakdown. I'm petrified that soon I will be too unwell to work - I'm already making loads of mistakes at work because my concentration and memory are getting worse, and am massively anxious about going in each day.

I dread the thought of losing all the progress I've made and having to start again from scratch. Even more, I dread the continuation of this pattern - is this what I can expect my life to be like forever? Spend a year or two building a life, have a MH crisis and lose it all, spend up to a year recovering, start rebuilding a life, have another crisis... repeat ad nauseum. What kind of life is that?

So I don't know why I'm starting this thread... maybe I'm hoping that someone will come along and tell me they've been through this kind of cyclic depression and recovered? Or share how you deal with long term mental illness, perhaps? Or wave a magic wand and fix whatever is fundamentally wrong with my brain, but I'm thinking that is unlikely. blush

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