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Lifelong depression & anxiety... Time to take things further?

(11 Posts)
StripedTeapot Sun 07-Nov-10 10:32:59

I am in my mid 30s and my anxiety attacks first reached an unbearable level when I was 19.

Since then I have tried every therapy under the sun privately, and on 4 occasions have been to the GP to try different antidepressants or anxiety meds.

Each time the meds have been due to a trigger, 2 PNDs, a violent bereavement and a PTSD. Each time I have taken them for about a year and then come off without major problems, although not mentally feeling that much better. However the triggers have always been a kind of excuse; "phew, I can go to the doctor and blame my panic attacks on X's death" - it kind of makes it respectable and understandable IYSWIM.

I think I have reached a point though where I need to accept that there is something underlying all my various mental health episodes that I need to address. This will be hard as my support network is very small (birth family all in ruins and not at all secure; DH who just wants it all to go away and offers tea and small talk), but I think the time has come.

I am so tired of pretending that everything is okay - only DH and my best mate know the full extent of things and to everyone else I say things like "Oh, I was a bit blue after DC3 was born but the Dr had me right in 6 months".

Going to the GP for meds just feels like putting an Elastoplast on a gaping wound.

What do I do? Ask for a referral to a psychiatrist? What might happen after that?

For the record I have had CBT, counselling, hypnosis, EFT, regression therapy, repatterning therapy, psychotherapy (very helpful couple of years but we had to go without holidays or treats to be able to afford it), and all kinds of massage & associated therapies - craniosacral, acupuncture, shiatsu, even tried reiki and chakra balancing in desperation.

StripedTeapot Sun 07-Nov-10 10:34:05

FGS I was trying to keep that short!

PurpleLostPrincess Sun 07-Nov-10 10:44:05

I don't have any suggestions for you as it seems you have worked really hard with all the things you have tried! But, my DH has suffered with anxiety and depression all his life too - spent time with psychiatrists as a child, then his father died when he was a teenager and his mum abandoned him 3 months later - this triggered PTSD and various other problems. He has had good patches throughout his life and has also been through lots of different types of help. He has agoraphobia, depression, anxiety, panic attacks... the list goes on and on. He has resigned himself to the fact that it is the way he is. He regularly visits the local community health clinic and also our gp who is brilliant. He has tried all sorts of ad's, the most recent being citalopram which he has been on for 3 years now. As far as he (and the gp) is concerned, he has a chemical imbalance in his brain and the ad's help to a certain extent to address it - he will always have to take them sad.

I've not helped you at all here have I blush, I just wanted you to know you're not alone and didn't want to leave your post unanswered.

StripedTeapot Sun 07-Nov-10 11:00:25

Thank you Purple, that's actually really helpful, he sounds just like me! I really want to sort it but I think I have to accept that I am looking at a management situation, rather than a cure.

I wish I could be less secretive about it with people but IME things have got much worse on the few occasions that I have been open. I think a policy of only telling people when I know it will be beneficial to me is best. I do worry about things like work, though. I actually work in mental health and often wonder how I fly under my colleagues' radar. My life just feels like one big lie.

Purple I worry about what it will be like for my family if I stop trying to hide things. You sound lovely and supportive. How do you cope? What support is out there for you?

PurpleLostPrincess Sun 07-Nov-10 16:11:54

I must admit, only the people closest to us really know the true extent of his illness. Even I spent the first 5 years of our marriage trying to figure out ways to 'fix' him, I've always been the optimistic type and struggled to accept it and it took me years to understand his perspective and why he seemed to roll over and accept things as they were.

We've been married over 8 years now and known each other for 25 years - I remember him when he was outgoing and confident but now the only places he will go is the doctors, two specific supermarkets and my parents house!

Explaining to people why he doesn't come out is really difficult. He doesn't work and people who don't know him seem to think he's just lazy - he really isn't! He has tried working 3 times since we've been married and each time he has ended up having a major breakdown and it's taken a good 6 months for him/us to recover from it. Each time, it got worse too sad. I totally admire that you are still working - you're not living a lie, you are managing along. Unfortuntely people just don't/won't or can't understand, whether they are close to you or not. Perhaps you could try to explain in small doses to your family so they get the full picture eventually? Talking does really help, but only when DH is in the right frame of mind if that makes sense - each day varies!

As far as support - thankfully my parents are very supportive and as I say, our GP is fantastic. I've just learnt to muddle along, although there are times that I worry about the DC's and how this effects their perspective on life etc.

littletinkers Sun 07-Nov-10 20:37:17

Hi have also had anxiety and depression long time. IMO it's nature and nurture. Cut yourself some slack. If you had been born with a physical prob you wouldn't judge yourself. Keep on getting all the help you can but also try to love and respect yourself. Meds and therapy do it all!

nemofish Sun 07-Nov-10 21:13:24

How do you feel about yourself, Teapot?

I mean really, deep down?

Can you give me five words that are things you feel about yourself?

(I promise I am not peering at you over some horned rimmed specs and writing things down in a notebook!)

I have had anxiety from childhood, some PTSD, panic attacks and bouts of suicidal feelings and depression from being very young. My ishoos are from everything that was done to me though, by my mother, stepfather and others. <meaningful look>

This last bout has nearly finished me off and I have come to a similar conclusion to you. I have had some counselling (about to ahve some more) and I have learnt lots of alternative therapies including reiki etc in order to help myself. I find reiki very helpful especially as I am fantastic at healing now.

But yes I have come to the conclusion that trying to be positive and pretending I am fine and coping will not, and does not, work. I need to be honest with myself and work on the fact I feel very, very bad about myself, and I need to do stuff to build my confidence, understand it was not my fault and grow to like myself.

StripedTeapot Sun 07-Nov-10 22:12:02

Thank you Purple for your kind words. Your DH is a lucky man.

Littletinkers, you are right of course and I use the physical illness analogy a lot myself. I do have these patches of frustration though. I know that so very many people feel that mental health is just a matter of pulling yourself together (was raised quite fiercely with this message) and it can be hard not to repeat this to myself at times.

Nemofish, the five words exercise is interesting. Today I got as far as "broken" and "unlikeable" I know that at other times I would probably say clever, kind, thoughtful, and maybe brave. I have fought so hard for so long just to be an upright, functioning human who eats meals, showers and wears clean clothes (before DC, I often didn't bother with those.)

I am sorry to hear of everyone else's experiences.

nemofish Sun 07-Nov-10 22:50:28

It does seem to me that it is a journey of two parts

Firstly, acknowledging what damage was done, but that in itself isn't enough. You need to have the desire to repair the damage that was done to your self esteem, to the core of your being.

SkeletonFlowers Mon 08-Nov-10 00:11:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PhishFoodAddiction Tue 09-Nov-10 00:39:53

I just wanted to say hi really, and that I feel I'm in a similar situation.

Well actually I'm not as I've not even had horrible things happen to me, I'm just by nature a very depressed person. Few miserable things from childhood but nothing major. Makes me feel like I should just belt up and get on with things but I can't seem to.

I've given up hope of a 'cure' altogether and am just muddling along now. I think like you said it's a case of managing symptoms instead of masking them with tablets.

Sorry, didn't mean to make that all about me, just wanted to say that I see where you're coming from.

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