Hello. I’m a first time blogger, in my late 30`s.
For pretty much my whole teenage and adult life, I have been impaired to varying degrees, ranging from mild to very severe episodes, by anxiety (generalised anxiety disorder seems to be the closest fit when trying to put a label on it), and depression (most recent episode earlier this year diagnosed as chronic treatment resistant depression). It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. It is usually the depression that I get treated for, however I believe that for me it’s the anxiety that comes first and is the underlying problem, and in times that it gets out of control it then causes a period of depression, often resistant to treatment. But trying to get medical professionals to explain it in those terms hasn’t been easy!
In addition to the specific mental health issues, and I’m sure as a result of these issues, I have also suffered from chronic migraine for a number of years and also ulcerative colitis (now thank the Lord in remission).
My motivation to start a blog is in the hope that by sharing my experiences, built up over the last 20+ years, starting when in my mid-teens I was first referred to a psychiatrist, I can in some way help and offer support and encouragement to others who experience mental health challenges. And whilst I don’t currently see it at the moment, being in the midst of a very challenging time, I’d love to one day be able to inspire others with mental health problems to believe that you can live a fulfilling and rewarding life, despite the illness.
As a result of the recurring nature of my condition, and the length of time I’ve been in the “system”, I believe that I have a lot of insight into the illness and the treatments offered. I can certainly relate to many people experiencing similar challenges.
Whilst not an exhaustive list, I have experienced the following, in no particular order – being on anti-depressant medication for the majority of the time since my mid-teens – for the last 10 years I have been taking a high dose of citalopram combined with lithium (to augment the anti depressant medication as opposed to being for any other condition); a course of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ETC) in 2005, a 3 week period of hospitalisation at a time of suicidal thoughts, I have been under the care of 3 or 4 psychiatrists over the past 20 years, have done CBT, have been seen by the psychology department at the local hospital, been referred to Occupational Therapy, I now have a Communuty Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) who I meet regularly at the moment. I have also received numerous private counselling sessions arranged through employers at the time. I have also privately tried hypnotherapy and attended a mindfulness retreat.
Despite living with what I consider to be a disabling condition, I have to some extent been relatively high achieving/high functioning for a lot of my years – although that depends I guess on your definition of high achieving and high functioning. I left school with decent grades, went on to University and successfully graduated with a degree in accountancy. I then successfully applied for a position with one of the large global accountancy firms, where I successfully qualified as a chartered accountant. It certainly wasn’t an easy journey. But it was in the world of work that my problems really escalated and became at times completely disabling. However I (foolishly I would say with the benefit of hindsight) soldiered on and tried to persevere in my chosen career. I ended up leaving a few jobs because of it. And looking back I can clearly see now the impact it has had on my health, my happiness and my family. I’m now embarking on a journey to change that, before it’s too late!
I’m in the midst of a very bad episode, which really spiralled downwards in April 2016 and resulted in me leaving a job I had only started 2 weeks earlier. Prior to starting the new job, I had just been made redundant from a job I’d done for about a year and a half, due to a downturn in the industry the company was in. Thankfully things are a lot better now than they were 2 months ago – but I’d say still far from normal, whatever that may be.
In addition to academic and work “achievements”, I have a beautiful and much loved wife and we have two adorable young children. Many years ago I was reasonably successfully at a local level in the sport of cycling – but as with many things, I put too much pressure on myself to be good, which took the pleasure out of it.
I reckon that’s probably enough for my first post. Already wrote way more than I intended!
The chronic worrier