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At what point do you know that you have anxiety/depression that needs treating rather than just being a normal reaction to circumstances?

(12 Posts)
malinkey Thu 08-Sep-11 09:16:10

Don't know where to start really but quick background - have recently separated from my ex and have moved to a different area where I don't know many people and am living on my own with DS who is 3. We lived together for a year after I told my ex I wanted to separate because of having to do work to our flat before selling it. Anyway, he was emotionally abusive and to say the last year was stressful would be an understatement to say the least!

I began to feel very anxious on and off during that time - sometimes waking up in the night having panic attacks - and feeling like I was struggling to cope with everything - despite actually managing to cope and sorting out new place to rent, new nursery for DS etc.

When we moved I was feeling pretty happy about it all. But I'm finding myself increasingly having anxious periods where I start thinking that looking after DS is too much responsibility for me (I know this isn't really true as he's doing well and I manage to do everything I need to for him) and have racing thoughts and generally feel pretty gloomy about everything. I work part time and manage to cope ok when I'm at work but I also work at home 2 days a week and am finding it harder and harder to get motivated to do my work and feel like things are slipping a bit - but I have to say I have a natural tendency to laziness so that on its own doesn't mean anything really!

The weirdest thing is that on other days I feel absolutely fine and when I do it's like the anxiety is a distant memory and almost that I've imagined it but on the days I feel bad it can seem completely overwhelming and I can't see any way out of it. I find myself crying for no reason, I find it hard to hear other people's problems as that seems to add to my own depressive thoughts and barely listen to the news as it's just so depressing and I can't see much to look forward to.

I've been trying to look after myself by doing regular exercise, trying to eat well, have almost entirely stopped drinking as that seems to trigger the anxiety really badly. I've also been going to see a counsellor who I find it really easy to talk to. BUT - I get the impression she thinks I just need to think positively and then everything will be ok. I've been trying to do positive affirmations on her suggestion but then because that doesn't seem to be having the desired effect it's something else to beat myself up about. I sometimes feel like I'm just trying so fucking hard all the time and nothing is helping.

So, is it likely that this is just a tricky period that I have to go through to deal with what has happened in my life or is it time to go to the doctors and see about trying some medication?

Sorry this is so long!

Drumlin Thu 08-Sep-11 10:48:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

malinkey Thu 08-Sep-11 10:57:47

Thanks Drumlin.

I'm still seeing my counsellor who I was referred to through my GP but originally I went about dealing with my poor self-esteem and I can see that she's trying to address that. But I've had 8 sessions already and have only got 4 left and I can't see that I'm going to be miraculously ok at the end of it.

I still need to change my doctors to a local one so I wonder if I would qualify for CBT through them.

Sorry to hear you're having an awful day. It's shit isn't it?

How does the CBT help?

Drumlin Thu 08-Sep-11 11:15:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

malinkey Thu 08-Sep-11 11:23:01

Funny you should say that! I'm going on a course this weekend when DS is with my ex to learn about mindfulness meditation. Thought it had to be worth a try.

Though have to admit am a little anxious about (a) going to the course and (b) trying really hard to do it to make me feel better and it not working and then feeling worse! These kind of thoughts would actually be quite funny if they didn't make you feel so shit really.

Someone once told me that people who get anxious have overactive imaginations - might be true!

CBT sounds good though - will add it to the list.

Drumlin Thu 08-Sep-11 11:31:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ovumahead Thu 08-Sep-11 13:40:08

Hi there, sorry you're having a tough time! I was just aware of one thing in your posts - you seem to be trying different things and then feeling disappointed when the 'don't work' - I wonder if you have a clear picture of what you would be like and how things in your life would be if something did work - e.g., when you're 'better'? What are you aiming for? I think clarifying this a little, and perhaps considering what are the realistic goals in terms of feeling 'better' from engaging in a particular activity (such as a weekend of mindfulness) might be. I'm just thinking that if you're in a bit of an 'all or nothing' frame of mind, following a weekend of meditation, any kind of bad feeling, anxiety etc might make you feel like that approach didn't work or that you've failed at something else, which of course wouldn't be a very helpful approach to have!

Mindfulness is fantastic, and hopefully your weekend away will teach you a little about accepting difficult feelings rather than trying to eradicate them or prevent them from happening. It sounds like all your thoughts and feelings are tied in with recent events are are understandable, however it's absolutely fine - no, it's healthy, and fantastic! - to seek help when you need it.

NanaNina Thu 08-Sep-11 14:12:19

Hii Malinkey - it sounds to me as though you are suffering from depression and anxiety (it is often not possible to distinguish one from the other) I am no medic by the way but someone who has suffered 2 major depressive episodes (although 15 years apart) both of which landed me in psych ward for 3 months each time. The first one was ok as I recovered completely. However this last one last Easter has been a real trial, as I can have a run of good weeks and then a run of "blips" (as the medics call them) and sometimes I change from day to day and through the day, with mornings being the worst.

I know exactly what you mean when you say on days you are ok you the anxiety seems like a distant memory and you wonder if you imagined it, but on bad days it can be overwhelming. This is what happens with me and lots of other people with MH problems. I have just had almost 7 weeks of feeling fine, feeling like me, and I have had no memory of the bad days, it is as you say almost as though you imagined it - but then crash, bang, wallop and a blip descended on me on Sunday and I have been struggling every day so day 5 now. I feel flat and empty and totally unmotivated. I may pick up later in the day or it may be I will have to wait till evening, sometimes 9 or 10 at night before i feel like me again.

I am seeing a clinical psychologist on the NHS (which I was pretty amazed about) and I really like her - she is very credible but she doesn't really get it about the blips. She was asking me last time how many times I had had bad days in the past and how had I coped with the stressful times that we all get in life. I was struggling to answer really and on the way home I realised she was thinking of my blips as being "ordinary" bad days like everyone has. This is not the case and only other sufferers can appreciate this - the blips are qualatively different form ordinary bad days. She has asked me to think of another name for blips, but I think she is trying to re-frame my blips into something more normal (whatever that means)

I also know what you mean about counsellors implying that you need to be more positive and all will be well. I had a lovely CPN for several months after I came out of hospital and she introduced me to CBT which at its very basic level tries to encourage us to have more balanced thoughts rather than making ourselves worse by spiralling negative thoughts which will make us worse. When I'm well it makes perfect sense, but when I'm crap (like today) it just feels unrealistic, though I do still try to stop the negative thoughts (not easy though)

To be honest I think it is time that you went to your GP - I think most of them have a sort of questionnaire with the major symptoms of depression like - feeling sad every day, having bouts of crying, unable to concentrate, sleep problems, eating problems, having suicidal thoughts, stuff like that and they then diagnose you as mild/moderate or severely depressed. They may offer you ADs and I think this could be a good thing. They are not magic bullets, but i am convinced that mine helped me, even though I am not fully recovered. You needn't worry about telling a GP how you feel, because you won't be telling them anything they haven't heard hundreds of times before. 1 in 6 people are suffering from MH problems at any one time, so there may be 1 or 2 others with the same problem in the waiting room with you!
It may be that your symptoms are reasonably mild and ADs will prevent you from getting any worse. I don't know really but I do think a visit to the GP is the next best step.

I hope your course goes well but don't set yourself up to fail, as when we are anx/dep we are very skilled at doing that! Take it as it comes - it isn't an exam that you pass or fail.

There is one thing that I am absolutely certain about, and that is that only people who have experienced depression and anxiety can really understand how it feels. MN has got me through some of my darkest days as I can usually tap away even when feeling shite.

YES it is shit.............

Drumlin - Thanks for the link to that book - I have read the reviews and will get it from Amazon. I wasn't going to by any more books on dep/anx as everyone seems to have a different "take" on it and they have just made me more confused. I think there is still so little known about brain disorder isn't there - maybe in 100 years time they will know more...............but that ain't gonna do any of us any good is it! Hope you feel a bit better tomorrow, or the day after or whenever - I am just having to hold on to the fact that thre good days will come back .........sending warm wishes NN

ledkr Thu 08-Sep-11 14:40:56

Op for me my divorce triggered me to suffer from anxiety even tho outwradly i was coping,like you i was confused as to what was normal or expected.I managed to muddle through it in the end but i do also believe that adjusting to being alone can be really yough and there were ups and downs for a couple of years when i kind of accepted and settled into my new life.
If your symptoms are stopping you get on with normal life eg,work or parent,then that is agood indicator of the need to seek further help. Good luck.

malinkey Thu 08-Sep-11 14:50:27

Ovumahead - yes, I think that's it exactly. I pin my hopes on the next thing 'curing' me so that I will go back to feeling like I used to! Maybe that IS unrealistic but I guess that's what I've been looking for. Maybe I never will feel like I used to before I started having anxiety but maybe I just need to find a way of it not overwhelming me.

It's not that I think a one day course will make me feel better overnight but in my imaginings I see myself serenely meditating every day - even though I've never been very good at sticking to things - and all being well.

If I thought antidepressants would instantly turn all my days into 'good' days I'd be off to the GP like a shot. But I know that it's all a bit hit and miss and some ADs don't suit some people and to be honest I'm scared about them making me feel any worse - or about becoming dependent on them or having to go through hideous withdrawal symptoms.

NanaNina - thank you for your post - it made me cry! Sorry you're having such a rubbish time. I know what you mean about other people not understanding - I think some people think that having anxiety just means you're a bit nervous - it's difficult to explain the overwhelming terror that sometimes takes over. Yes, I think maybe I'm going to have to go and see the GP.

malinkey Thu 08-Sep-11 15:20:28

ledkr - sorry, x-posted. Yes, that's what I meant, is this what most people would expect to feel in my situation or is it actually an illness?

Anyway, I've bitten the bullet and have booked a doctor's appointment for next Thursday <scared>

ledkr Thu 08-Sep-11 15:49:00

You will be fine. You are right to think this way.I was thinking "well my husband has left me for ow,of course i feel,sad,angry,upset,sleepless and anxious. I was however managing to work,eat and sleep-after about 2 weeks and maintain my house and the children.I could still laugh at something funny and make plans for the future.
I a person is finding it hard to function then i think that is when help is needed.
Modern drugs are brilliant and if you need them will put you back on track so that you can get on with things.

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