Ok so I haven't blogged in a very long time. For some reason, I don't know why, I haven't felt inclined to write. Its been two and a half years in the depakote world. But not only that it's also been the abilify years, the "reduce the hours at work and get threatend with a awarning for sickness" years, the children starting school years as well as working, being a wife, losing weight then getting fat again and going back to church years.....Maybe I just started really living again. Oh yes and I had a major relapse and had the crisis team out and thought I might end up in hospital. Great. It's been a bit of a roller coaster.
Depakote worked quite well for me for a time. As well as being an anti-epileptic it acts as a mood stabaliser.Now free of the quetiapine I stopped being fat and being mad. Fat and mad is unatractive and difficult to live with.It stifled my self esteem and confidence massively. One or the other I can cope with but together it's soul destroying. Amazingly within a week or two of taking the depakote I felt really well. The sedation stopped, the weight I had gained on the quetiapine started to fall off as did my appetite, and the battle in my mind seemed to be calmed. I felt alive again. Things felt ok and I began to believe that maybe they had got the medication right after a very long time. It is so freeing to be able to wake up in the morning refreshed and energetic instead of slugish and sedated. I felt really positive for the first time in a long time. I started to use the gym regularly and also joined weight watchers. If you'd have asked me a few years back what I would be doing in my life, weight watchers would not be on the radar. But hey, it was llike a coffee morning with some older ladies. And I enjoyed it. Depression sucks the enjoyment out of everything. Life is grey and meaningless. It is joyless and bleak. Being catapulted back to normality is amazing but terrifying too. There is always an underlying fear of relapse and sense of "This is to be good to be true" hanging about. Practising being happy and trusting the medication and CBT takes time. Things felt like they were going to be ok.
So I am getting thin and enjoying life; things seems to be going well or so I thought. Then in the July after ten months of wellness BAM. Out of nowhere things start speeding up at a rate of knots. In hind sight, I was probably quite stressed and tired but didn't recognise this early enough. I couldn't sleep on Tuesday night and then on Wednesday morning I started to feel incredibly rushy. My breathing was fast, my heart rate was banging and I felt light headed and exciteable. The space in my head felt like it was mushrooming and becoming too enlarged to be held by my skull. At this point my hope was that I'd drunk too much coffee but it was too intense and almost a tidal wave of speed overwhelming me. It's a weird sensation almost like an out of body experience or floating along on a hovercraft. It's deeply unsettling and you feel completely powerless, and that includes my mouth running away from itself. And this is where the embarrassing behaviour begins. Running up and down the office to get involved in a leaving gathering. Jumping into other peoples photos being taken. Smiling maniacally at people and swearing at the top of my voice in teh office. Lack of boundaries and getting into peoples private space. Standing with a colleague in the street telling them I can write pornography for a book if they like. Striving to not spend £400 on clothes in my lunch break even though I had the cash in my pocket. Scary stuff for me and this is the begining of the ride. And so it continued. Explosive thoughts and speed of body. Agitation and fear and Panic. Paranoia that people can see you being mentally ill and giving you sideways glances as you appear different to your normal self. It's at this point I decide to call my CPN and explain what was going on. Reading back on this experience I left this call far to late in the day. The mania was already underway and out of control. I ran to a spare office in the building where I worked, curled up in a ball and called the lovely Fran. Sadly she couldn't understand a word I was saying as I was speaking at such a rate it was gibberish. She shouted slightly for me to shut up which worked a treat and asked me if I was feeling safe enough to manage over the weekend. The bottom line is that "if you can't, you need to get the extra help in and it needs to be now" she says. I agree to try and manage over the weekend as I thankfully had an appointment with the cpn on the following Tuesday. If I need extra help over the weekend, I either need to call the out of hours GP or go to A+E. Oh joy! I clearly remember leaving work, and when trying to cross the road heard a voice telling me to throw myself under a bus. I asked the woman next to me if she had heard the statement as I though it was the guy in front of me. She looked at me with some concern. Great. Hearing voices too, just to make my day even more special. I remember thinking that as long as I can get home, I'll be ok. If I can sleep, maybe it'll stop. I'm just going to have to trust that the mania will run it's course and be quick to finish. I cannot cope with the intensity for much longer. Hypermania only lasts a few days - full blown mania can last a week.
Friday. Oh my. What goes up, must come down. Sick, I felt so sick. Mentally sick and totally drained of energy. When your mind has been on fast forward for two and a half days, you feel like someone has put a bullet through your head and there is a wide and empty space of blackness. You are also physically exhausted. I dragged myself to work and spent most of the day staring into space or with my head on the desk. Everone knew I was ill it was obvious.I got home and slept like the dead. I wandered around most of the weekend like a lost sheep with a sense of complete detachment from myself. Stuck in Sylvia Plaths Bell Jar, I bounced around in what is fondly named a mixed phase episode for a week. Up and down and up and really down and then off the cliff into despair. This is all happening during the summer holidays too so I am trying to stay on an even keel for the children and its starting to become really tricky to say the least. I remember taking the kids to their aunts to meet granny on theTuesday. I needed to drop them off for childcare so that I could go to work and thinking I could leave them in safe care, and go and drive my car in the canal on the way home. When I gave them a cuddle goodbye I honestly thought I was saying goodbye for ever. It felt so catastrophic but ultimately there would be a sense of relief to stop the dreadful feelings I was having.
This is when the psychiatrist got involved. I sat on the little chair next to the desk where he pops the tissues and basically fell to pieces. I had definately hit the bottom. A mixed phase episode carries a high risk of suicide so he took me really seriously when I said I had thought about dying as a way of release. So now we welcome in The Crisis team. Welcome to the A team of mental health. If you have a problem, and you can find them, maybe you can hire them! Praise be for the lovely people who came to visit me at my house. I was banned from driving (Obviously) and they doubled my medication and tried to give me diazepam which I flatly refused. For six weeks they came and saw me every other day, and the only reason they kept me out of hospital is that I wanted to ensure that I could find the will to stay alive for my children, and being around them at home would be better than placing me on a ward. It was a tough six weeks crawling my way back up the dark and slippery pole but it was worth it. They didn't judge me, they listened with love and they encouraged me to keep going even when I though I might just give up. I think I have said it before that dying feels like a valid option as then your family can just get on with the business of living without the worry of you and your depression. I had to fight those feelings and try to believe that being alive was the valid option. Trying to use all of the strategies I had been taught and digging deep was the only way out of the situation and it really was the better option. I had to keep the faith that things were worth fighting for.