Saturday, 9 March 2013

Update: Drs Appointment

OK, so I mentioned I had a Drs appointment yesterday.

I'd actually been needing to go since November/December, but... I can't make appts because I can't use the phone, so Mr has to. Mr forgets to do things and has to be motivated constantly. Because I didn't want to go to the Drs, I haven't been reminding or motivating him. Yeh, vicious cycle. Anyway, on Thursday, when I was barely recovering from the work-focused interview, Mr informed me he was phoning the Drs on Friday. I hoped, for a future appt. He said no, for an appt on Friday. I had a wee breakdown... I agreed tho, just to get it over and done with.

It actually went well, we have a good Dr to talk with.

I've still got The Itch. Did I mention it got rediagnosed as Chronic Vulvitus? Or something like that. I was on a very potent steroid cream for 6 weeks; then a potent steroid cream for 6 weeks; and then it felt a bit better for a short while. Then I tried the hydrocortisone cream, and it made it itchier. Then I got confused. I was getting progressively more itchy, so had 2 weeks back on the potent steroid cream. My Dr has now prescribed me a moderate strength steroid cream, which I will use for 2 weeks before trying... errr... a nappy rash cream. Fun, hey?! I have shown improvements on the steroids. I mean, the very potent one made the skin very fragile and sore, on my thighs as well as my vulva. That improved on the potent one, and I've started to produce natural lubricant again. I think we're making progress, it's just working out how best to manage it now.

And... I am now on an antidepressant. Citalopram, to be precise. I've considered them for years. But I was too young, and homeopathy helped, and I simply didn't want to. I've been scared of losing my emotions, losing my libido, and a million other things. When they were given to me, I felt the weight of the stigma attached to them land on my shoulders. But I feel proud that I'm taking them. It feels like the most grown up decision I've ever made, because I'm actually trying to take control of my life. I feel positive about it.

The most difficult thing about it is that it sorta means delaying starting a family. That is really, really hard to deal with. Especially as we haven't used contraception/been careful since late 2011, and now we have to be somewhat careful again... I don't want to be on this long term, I'm hoping within a year I will be strong enough to manage without it, and then we can start TTC properly. But noone but our Dr and my homeopath knew we wanted to start a family, so noone knows how hard this is...

It's also not advised to take Ibuprofen with it, so I'm going to have to be super strict with that - I can't imagine getting through the first few hours of period pain without it, so we'll see how it goes. The Dr didn't mention my Dihydrocodeine though, so I assume that's ok!

As for the reason we've eventually taken this plunge with an antidepressant? Well... I am sick of feeling so overwhelmed, suicidal, unable to cope. Mr is struggling to deal with my hours of screaming/crying/shut down every day, and he needs something to stabilise my emotions. The reason my mental health has got so severe? ESA. Work focused interviews. Medicals. Appeals. Tribunals. Brown envelopes. Just hearing the letterbox go gives me a mini panic attack now.

I pray these tablets are worth delaying our family for. I pray they help me. I pray I can take control of myself again. And I pray that an improvement in my mental health won't mean they class me fit for work, because my physical health is still more severe when people realise.



So, I've been feeling too overwhelmed to post here lately, sadly. My brain fog had been bad, I've lost my ability to speek more often and for longer than I care to mention, and with it has gone my ability to type much. Foggy, painful fingers.

There's been a lot going on, here's a list of updates due:

- Drs appt yesterday
- work-focused interviews
- ESA appeal
- ESA review + the non-medical

Instead of overwhelming myself and trying to do them all here and now, I will do a few brief posts over the next few days to sum it all up...

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Fear of Pregnancy

I know, I know. Every woman fears pregnancy, labour, and motherhood to some degree. The thing is, my head and body don't work like most peoples, and from the research I've done, my fear approaches from a different angle.

Most women's fears are eased by the concept of doctors and the hospital being involved. But I am terrified of anything to do with the medical profession, and that is basically where this problem stems from.

And it is a problem. We've been wanting to start a family for a while now, and every 6 months we put it off again. And that's happened several times. We really were going to start trying... well, this month. But it looks like my head is going to get in the way again.

And yes, we do still have years ahead of us in which to start a family. But we always said we'd at least be trying by the time Mr is 30, and he's nearly 31. We're hoping to start a business up in the next couple of years, and I would really like us to have made it through one pregnancy without having to deal with work too. My mental health means that even if Mr recovered physically, I would need him at home to care for me, and it almost makes sense to let that happen whilst he is still physically rather ill.

But will having a baby around take up so much of our energy that it would stop us from recovering further? I know that's a risk we're willing to take.

So, what do I actually fear?

I fear doctors appointments. Getting Mr to phone up for an appointment, the anxiety leading up to one, going to the doctors, sitting there, waiting, talking... It is incredibly difficult for me.

I fear possibly having to stop my dihydrocodeine, especially as the weeks progress. Dihydro allows me to cope a little better.

I fear hospital appointments - leaving the house, the anxiety leading up to it, travelling, waiting, talking. Not knowing what is happening. Not being understood. They will just assume I'm healthy and normal. Not suffering from ME, depression, anxiety, and fear of them. My last appointment triggered suicidal depression again.

I fear not being understood. People not understanding how my body reacts to things. It's fine, we can just do a biopsy! Err... It's ok, you can have anaesthetic! No I can't, that will make me ill. Oh...

I fear antidepressants. I'm considering them because my mental health hasn't been great, but I don't know how they'll mix with pregnancy.

I fear my body shape changing, and not feeling sexy.

I fear more fatigue, more aches, more pain in my body. My back pain worsening... please no. I'm still suffering from itching, and I swear the steroid creams are causing more issues than they're helping.

I fear the fact that I can't exercise, and I can't always eat healthy.

I fear my body not being strong enough to cope.

I fear anything going wrong that could put me in hospital - I cannot go in to hospital. I don't trust them. I don't feel safe. They wouldn't let Mr stay and I cannot be on my own.

I fear having to be in hospital for the birth, or being rushed there. I can't. I would refuse it...

I fear having a lot of doctors/nurses/midwives around me. Looking at me. Forcing things. Not respecting me. Abusing me.

I want a home water birth, though I don't know how I access that. I know I will be judged for it. I really want to go private - especially to a birthing centre with a water bath, and where Mr can stay with me 24/7. But we're disabled - we don't have the money for that.

I fear tears. Stitches. Prolapses.

I fear ME relapsing, though I know Mr will help me through anything.

I fear the benefits people ever saying to us - well you can look after a child, why can't you work?

I fear being judged for starting a family whilst living on benefits.

I fear not being able to have sex for a while after labour. I need sex. My mental health deteriorates without it.

I fear not being able to lose weight afterwards.

I fear being too touch senstive to breast feed.

I fear my depression becoming worse - during and after. Especially as it is directly affected by fatigue. I fear this affecting my relationship with the baby.

I fear that becoming more educated about it all will just make my anxiety worse, because it's all so medical related.

I fear being in my own head.

Now, what I don't fear.

I don't fear Mr ever leaving me.

I don't fear labour in and of itself, because I know Mr will be with me. I just fear my body's strength, or lack of.

I don't fear Mr being affected by my body changing.

I don't fear being a mother.

I don't fear a baby being seriously ill, as I know we can deal with that.

I don't fear it having a negative affect on our sex life, we can deal with that.

I don't fear having a baby inside of me - that's so exciting!

I do want to be pregnant, it's just the depression, the anxiety, the medical profession... :(

I know God will not allow anything to happen which we can't handle. I know everything will be ok. But I'm just too scared.

We've decided to just see how things go. Not actively try, but not try not to, either. Just place it in God's hands, and trust it will happen when the time is right.

The difficulty is, that this feels a form of infertility to me. I do not feel able to have children - it's just due to mental health reasons, rather than physical reasons. I feel grief over this. And I feel inadequate - woman's bodies are built for this, and yet I can't do it? I feel so inadequate. I can deal with most women's fears, because I know me and Mr can get through anything. What I can't deal with is the stuff most women take for granted - the NHS.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Homeopathic Aggravation

Last year I had to battle to keep my NHS homeopathy, due to large funding cuts. I won, but I now see a different Dr. Initially, this scared me, but it has actually been brilliant. My former homeopath had pretty much given up trying to improve my health, and was starting to try and encourage me to do GET etc - not good. My new homeopath is wonderful, and is pushing to try and find a remedy which fits me perfectly. So, last weekend I moved from Pulsatilla LM6, to Gelsemium LM2. And I have gone down hill ever since... It started with a mild headache and nausea. Over the last week the headache has got worse. I have developed more jaw ache. Painful glands under my jaw. Earache. Sore throat. Sore neck and shoulders. All primarily on my left hand side... Last night I felt very ill. I didn't take the remedy, I was too scared. I didn't know if it was coincidence and I had a virus; if the homeopathy was making me worse before making me better; or just making me worse...! My homeopath is only in office on Mondays, but I was able to get hold of his GP surgery and contact him. He phoned me back and offered a plan of action. Stop the Gelsemium for a week, as it has obviously aggravated me. Then start it again, but dilute it in water so it is not as strong, and see how it goes.

From my limited knowledge, the aggravation means that this remedy could work very well for me. But obviously reacting this strongly is not good. Let's see how it goes from here...

Oh, and talking about medication. The gynea has moved me from clotrimazole (as she believes there is no thrush, only chronic vulva irritation) to 12 weeks of very strong steroid creams. So far, so good... I am also now washing with aqueous cream, which I think is helped moisturise down there :)

Anyway, here's hoping I feel better pretty damn soon...!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

When it's all in the head...

The first time I remember feeling it, I was 14. I had been physically ill for 4 years already, and I was going through my lowest time yet. A routine vaccination had brought what was left of my physical health crashing to the ground, and as I spent the months in bed, my mental health followed. Depression, at 14? It didn't last too long, if that can make sense. My physical health improved somewhat over the summer holidays, and a restrengthening of my relationship with God helped with the mental side. I couldn't tell anyone what I was feeling though. A combination of being "different", being ill, and having a faith had resulted in no close friends. My mother couldn't handle things, and I knew would stay awake for nights on end worrying if I told her. My father couldn't comprehend illness at all, and never had ears for his family. My siblings... I don't know. They were either distant or would tell my parents. I had noone to turn to, so I fought on my own.

Time passed. My physical health deteriorated again, and my mental health slipped with it, but I ticked by. I was 16, nearly 17. November. My Nan passed away, somewhat suddenly. I held it together to start with, turned to a couple of close friends I'd managed to make at Church. But after a day in school I simply broke. My father was in deep grief. My mother noticed this time. She knew I wasn't coping. All I knew was that my Nan had died, but she was healthier than me. She could sit for longer than me, and walk for further. She didn't have brainfog, she could cope with things. If she was healthier than me and had passed away, then where did that leave me? Why was I alive? I don't remember much from the months that passed, although I have an online journal full of thoughts from the time. I turned there constantly, and had friends online who cared. Friends who understood. I remember spending hours curled into a ball on my bedroom floor, just crying. I remember feeling stuck in a glass cube, being able to see the world but not reach it. Cut off. I remember thinking about death all the time. I couldn't get it out of my head. I remember wanting to hurt myself, planning suicide attempts, writing suicide notes. I don't think I would have ever seen it through, I really am not that type of person. People at school though, they simply couldn't understand. When I spent all that time off when I was 14, they were surprised I had returned - my so called "best friend" had told everyone I had died - it certainly makes for an interesting first day back. Now, at 16... I remember going for a meal out for someone's birthday. One girl said, "I just don't get how anyone can be depressed". I flipped at her.

A few weeks into this my mother took me to the drs. I have always been anxious, and she came in with me as ever. The dr could tell that I was bad - I had only seen her recently and she could see the difference in me. I asked for a referral to the local homeopathy service, as it had helped my siblings with their physical health, and she also referred me to the child and family mental health service. I was somewhat suicidal, you would think it would have been urgent... The latter referral came through 7 months later. My mother didn't know how low I was though, she didn't find that out until last year when she asked me. She couldn't have handled it, my family couldn't handle me. I was having crazy mood swings, I could go from the depths of depression to the highest of highs in an instant. But I had friends who cared.

In the January, I saw the homeopath. She started me on a remedy. Within a couple of weeks I was balanced. I was happy. I felt better, so much better.

Time went by. I lost a lot of my friends, they couldn't seem to handle this more normal me. My physical health deteriorated. I met my now husband. I left school. I got married...

And now here I am. Aged 22, nearly 23. I am battling so hard against my head. Before I met my husband, who was willing to take the time to understand this, and had been through so much of it himself, I had had noone to turn to. Bottling it all in has done damage. I still battle depression, including the self harm thoughts, the ending it all. I battle anxiety. I battle OCD. I am still physically ill, and spend a large amount of time lying down.

My OCD effects me in many ways. When I use a light switch I have to rub my finger over it to check it's fully down. When I lock a car I have to check the doors. When I lock a door I have to check it. I sometimes go back and do them multiple times, and when I have walked away I still think about it. I need to know what's happening when, but I cannot handle being held down to a commitment. I need things done in specific ways and specific orders. Because of my physical health, I have to allow others in to clean the house. It gives me panic attacks because things are moved. I am out of control and I cannot handle it. If there is a cupboard in a mess and someone else tidies it, I will mess it up again simply because I cannot handle the fact that someone else has moved things in there. If I touch one side of my face, I need to touch the other side in exactly the same way. If I get it wrong I need to do that second touch on the first side, and so it goes on, I have to fight to break it. I get stuck in counting rhythms in my head, and cannot find a safe place to end. I wash my hands constantly when doing things, and am obsessive about things such as raw meat in the kitchen. I remember elements of this, such as needing things even on each side, as a young child, but my parents didn't understand, didn't try to. There are things I hear which can become triggers to me. I have to work to stop them. When I hear other people's OCD things they make sense to me, and I have to work not to take them on as my own.

My anxiety is a big one. I have a constant fear of anything I do not fully understand, and when I am out of control. I fear going into a shop for fear of what anyone in there might say to me. It makes everything, especially drs and hospital appoitments very difficult. Some appointments worry me for weeks in advance, I feel sick, my chest is compressed and it is hard to breathe. My panic attacks and tantrums are more easily triggered. My bowels play up and my nose runs. I try so hard to fight it. I am driving tomorrow. I know it will be fine. I enjoy it. I don't want to worry, yet my body is without my permission. My symtpoms are flaring. I can't use phones as I can't handle talking to people, even seeing friends and family is difficult. I was at the hospital the other week for a vulva exam, and I had a panic attack because noone would tell me exactly what they were doing, I was meant to trust them - I can't! My health is so fragile I can't trust them to make the right decisions for me, they don't understand. I've always struggled with anxiety. At school I would be worried sick about certain lessons, about certain people. I hated school, I felt so scared.

So where am I now? I am still on various homeopathy remedies, which help various symptoms. I am prescribed dihydrocodeine for pain, which I take because it eases all my physical and mental symptoms. I am battling every day to overcome everything, but as my physical symptoms worsen, the fighting becomes too much. I have a husband who I can turn to with everything. Who supports me more than I thought another human could. I am trying to prepare myself for trying to start a family, and that's affecting my anxiety - I don't trust drs. But I feel hope. Having found someone who I can turn to when I want to hurt myself, or when I'm panicking because the shower I use at the swimming pool isn't available, or when I am screaming on the kitchen floor because I dropped a spoon, has made a huge difference to me. Having him speak positives over all the negatives in my head is slowly transforming me. Constant prayer and night time support has limited my nightmares and my waking visions*. There is hope for a future free from mental and physical health problems. They say X percent of people who have mental health suffer from it for life. Well I'm going to work to decrease that percentage, and be someone who doesn't suffer from it for life.

But let me say this. There is one thing which could have made a huge difference to the state my head is in now. Having someone earlier in my life who I could trust to turn to. Who wouldn't have judged me. Who wouldn't have said I'd grow out of it. Who wouldn't have seen me as odd. Who wouldn't have told me to pull myself out of it. Who would have been able to handle the information, and who would have tried to understand.

If you know someone with mental health issues, just try to understand, please.

* I used to suffer from horrific vivid nightmares every night, and regular waking visions, where I would be awake but see a nightmare such as holding the dead body of someone I love.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Review: Colman's Season and Shake

Reviews probably aren't going to be common round here, but sometimes they are just necessary!

Tonight was one of those nights. We've had to resort to ready meals so often lately, we've had enough. We'd picked up eggs to make a spanish omelette tonight, but come dinner time I was too exhusted to make it. Upon suggesting the chip shop, I discovered my husband was in a lot of pain, and I didn't want him to have to go out, and I wasn't well enough to get dressed.

So, I looked in our cupboards. The other week, I picked up a Colman's Season and Shake, sausage and herb flavour, and it seemed managable. Better for us and tastier than a ready meal, didn't need to leave the house, didn't need huge amounts of prep and sitting over the stove, and very few dishes... Err, yes please!

I just sliced an onion and a pepper (both of which could be done in advance on a "better day", or by someone else, and frozen); sliced some spuds and some brocolli (Mr doesn't like mushrooms!) and threw in the sausages. Let it cook, and done! I don't love it, but Mr likes it a lot, so we will be visiting this range again. It feels like I've cooked us a decent meal, but so very managably, and that's super important. Next time I might sub the onions for leeks, and the brocolli for cauliflower. But really, you can just make it up with what you've got!

Yay for easy meals :) Do you have meals which you can knock up quickly on the bad-but-not-dead days?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

How to Offend Disabled People.

Sadly, I cannot find the offending leaflet online. However, when me and Mr walked into the Job Centre the other day for a complusory work-focused interview (nevermind I couldn't sit up long enough for the interview) I was met with a barrage of leaflets asking if I would be better off in work.

Of course I'd be better off in work! We could afford everything we want, and live somewhere nice, and have a mortgage and settle down, afford holidays and all our car expenses. Life would be amazing if we were healthy and could earn our own money, it's all we want!

But some of us do not have a choice, and to be treated as if this is my choice?

So. F***ing. Angry.