Monday, 31 October 2011

Revisit the hysteria (but you can't comment)

Here is another link to the Seroxat Secrets blog, which is a blog designed to alert the world that antidepressants, Seroxat (paroxetine) in particular is destroying the free world.

I posted a link to this before, and I had commented at the bottom of one of the posts that I had been on paroxetine for 13 years and never really had any problems with it, and that they ought to show the other side of the argument.  This comment did not make it onto the site.

This is what it's all about

Here is a good post about how it feels to be in the grip of the very worst type of depression, explained very well by this lady:-

Read her.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Books: Read as alternative to Bridget Jones's Diary

Bodily Harm
By Margaret Atwood
This is my second book my Margaret Atwood, the first being The Handmaid’s Tale.  This one is quite different to that one, as I felt The Handmaid’s Tale was trying to make statements about women, society, all that jazz, whereas I think this one was just like a quite good story, without any definite ‘stance’ or message.  There’s nowt wrong with that though, it was good.
  Basically, it was about this woman called Rennie (naming the main character after an indigestion tablet, cheeky).  She is a single woman, having broken up with her long term partner Jake after she had breast cancer and subsequent mastectomy.  She also fell in love with her surgeon.  She is a freelance ‘lifestyle’ writer, and she manages to get sent to a small Carribbean island, St Agathe, on a travel assignment.  While hanging out there, she meets a few characters, firstly Dr Minnow, who is a sort of politician, then Paul, a man who is assumed to be CIA, but turns out to be ‘the connection’ in a guns and drug smuggling cartel, and my favourite, Lora, who is a random woman who provides many a monologue about her weird life. 
  The political situation on St Agathe escalates to the stage where Dr Minnow gets assassinated, and Rennie and Lora are imprisoned as they are connected to him.  She eventually goes home at the end, the final scene is her on the plane home, although because of the tense it is written in, (it says ‘this is what will happen’ rather than ‘this is what happened’ – I’m sure there is a posh name for this but I don’t know what it is), you don’t know whether she actually goes home, or whether she is just imagining what it will be like to go home from her prison cell.
  I like it because Rennie is a totally independent woman.  She has no man, and she goes to St Agathe alone.  She encounters amazing things there, sees incredible horrors and experiences an entirely different culture, but the way it is written suggests that to her, this is not that unusual.  She seems to fit in easily, and finds it all interesting, although largely commonplace.  This suggests to me that living the life of an independent woman can be hard, but totally worth it for the value of the interesting experiences she has had while not sat at home on the sofa with some bloke.  Therefore, I feel that in a way, it glamorises the life of an independent single woman, which is something that 21st century society fails to do on a spectacular level.  

A pic to go with the previous post!/NicolaLyndhurst

This person posted this photo on Twitter to go with my previous post about Joy Division, it's very apt.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Love will tear us apart

Joy Division are one of my favourite bands in the whole world.  Their best known song is 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'.  It is one of the songs that back in the day when I was a teenager I would listen to on my walkman, stopping all the time to write down the words.  When I had transcribed the words I would then decide what I thought they meant, (and also make up words that sort of fit in with the song when I couldn't hear it properly after the 5th rewind).  I have since read Deborah Curtis's memoir of life with Ian, and subsequently found out that 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' was about his failing marriage to her.  Personally, I interpreted it to mean the situation when you are just living your life, and then you fall in love and it all goes tits up.  

I often find myself in this situation, I am happily living my life, whether I am single or with someone, and then I fall in love and everything goes to shit.  Spectacular situations where this has happened include the time when I was happily single, then fell in love with a girl who was married, and subsequently became miserable, as it was impossible for us to be together.  In unforeseen circumstances, she actually divorced her husband and got with me, but the extreme happiness was short lived, as she was horrible, and destroyed my self esteem.  Another spectacular love fuck up was when I was with a very good man, who was perfect.  It was the best relationship I have ever had, and the three years I was with him were the most stable of my life.  I never felt depressed at all.  Then, I fell in love with a girl from work, and felt like I couldn't stay with him anymore, as I loved someone else.  
  When I was about 14, I wrote in my diary that I wished love did not exist, and that we could just go around shagging each other purely for pleasure, a bit like the 60s when the pill was invented and everyone was shagging each other like animals.  I don't know if this would work though, it might be like that scene in Demolition Man where Sandra Bullock says she's had a lovely night with Sylvester Stallone, and then she politely asks him if he would like to have sex.  She then proceeds to do something weird with a head set, which probably wouldn't happen, but the point I'm trying to make is it might be boring.  Unlike a 60s utopia of mad drug induced fucking, more like trainspotting or birdwatching, where it is just a sort of hobby.
  Thinking back though, I would have to say when I look back on my lovelife it has been 10% happy times, and 90% gut wrenching miserable times.  This might be because of my attitude, it might be because I have been unlucky, it might be because I am doing it wrong, but the figures speak for themselves.  If I never fell in love, or if love didn't exist, would I have depression?  Yes, I would, because I think that in my case there is a definite brain chemistry factor (as my depression is hereditary and it has been proven that when it runs in families it is more likely to be down to dodgy synapses than deep seated emotional issues), but I think it would be significantly less complicated, and subsequently easier to treat and manage.
  So the main point of this blog entry is just me thinking about love and how it makes you a bit miserable sometimes.  However, there probably isn't much point in thinking about that too much, because would I want to live in a world without love?  No.  Would I go back and change anything about the way I have loved and lost over the years?  No.  And am I going to stop falling in love and doing stupid things in the name of love, Hell no.  Therefore, there is no point to my post, but the beauty of a blog is that you can write whatever you want, so there it is.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Here is some hysteria

This is an example of what some people think of anti depressants.  Note my comment at the end.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Antidepressants - the debate (shit's about to get real)

As I have mentioned before, I have previously had problems when telling people I am on antidepressants.  This hasn't always been the case, but there are a lot of people out there who believe that taking medication for depression is somehow perverse.  They fall into three main categories, I find.

Category 1: Those who have no experience of depression at all, even just knowing someone who has had a brush with it.
Do these people even exist any more?  It seems strange to me that they do, but then it seems strange to me when people have never been to a gay bar, or get uncomfortable when I talk about race (even in the simplest of contexts - seriously, I brought up a discussion about how I had watched Good Hair the other day and experienced a tumbleweed (weave) moment in a very white busy pub - tiresome).  Things that I take for granted as being part of 21st century life in Britain, for some people is still alien. So there could be some people out there who just haven't really thought about it, but don't like the idea.  This is what I assume they are thinking when I tell them about being on antidepressants and they just go quiet before making excuses and leaving.

Category 2: Those who have had depression themselves, and have successfully battled it without medication.
These people think that as this is what they have done, it is possible for others to do the same, and it is, but not all the time.  They cannot accept this, and subsequently will go around preaching about how you can heal depression 'naturally' and without the 'evil chemicals' in the medications.  LOVE IT.

Category 3: Those who have been on antidepressants, and didn't like it.
Fair play, if you've been on them and found that they made you feel worse than you felt when you weren't, but  consider that they might have made you feel better, and that that was probably the aim of the person that prescribed them for you.  Not that its a conspiracy to silence the masses and numb the brains of the infidels.  Thanks.

So, I realise I might be a bit anti people who slag off anti - depressants, and who can blame me when I've been given a lot of shit about it?  But having valid reasons for saying or doing something doesn't make it right, which I have considered after reading this blog:-

This person puts a point across that I have never even considered, that people who have depression and don't take meds for it actually get shit too!  I thought they would probably be viewed by the general public as saintly figures, brave and tenacious as opposed to my weak willed 'drug addict' self.  But no, it seems people have a go at them for not taking meds, telling them they're in denial, or just a mad scientologist hippy.  He says the thing that upsets him most is when people tell him if he hasn't needed medication to get better then he doesn't have real depression.  Hand on heart, before I read this blog, although I would never say so, I thought that. My recovery would have been impossible without medication, impossible, but why does that mean the situation is the same for everyone?  I know that depression is different for each person, I have always known this, so why do I think the same treatment will work for everyone?  Obviously if it had been up to me, the standard prescription for depression would be SSRI antidepressants and The Smiths, but like me, my depression is unique, so I'm gonna put my hands up and admit that I have been guilty of the same ignorance as  I have complained about in others.  Antidepressants don't work for everyone, and why should they?  (The Smiths, however, I would totally recommend).

Friday, 7 October 2011

Women & Depression Part 3

Theory 3: Women get depression more because doctors secretly think they are all mad anyway

The statistic is, more women than men get DIAGNOSED with depression, and to get a diagnosis, you need a doctor.  Now being a nurse, I think I know a bit about doctors because I have worked with shitloads of them.  There are many different types of people that become doctors, but 99% of them are posh, and 100% of them love cake.  I have been told that posh people differ in personality as much as normal people, I don't know if I believe this to be honest, as I have seen Made in Chelsea.  However, it is likely that when a patient comes into the GP surgery saying they are feeling depressed, the GP will respond in a way that is individual to them, as they are an independent thinking type of organism.  They will also be influenced by a few things, like cake, and NICE guidelines for treatment, which are basically advisory documents designed to help doctors treat people according to the latest and best evidence of what is said to work.  However, there are hundreds of other influences at work when doctors, or any person, makes decisions.  Past experience of similar situations, personal values, and also more unconscious processes going on in the mind that people are largely unaware of.  One of these is personal perceptions of gender.  

Stereotypical views of women include: gentle, weak, soft hearted, delicate, emotional, irrational, sensitive... the list goes on.  When faced with one of these creatures in the GP surgery, saying she feels depressed, the GP might reason that this picture fits.  The woman is emotional, she is quite likely to become depressed as she is of a weaker nature than men, and subsequently is less able to deal with the trials of normal life.  Therefore, a diagnosis of depression is appropriate.  When you consider the same situation with a male patient, however, it can be viewed differently, because of the influence of gender stereotypes.  Men are traditionally supposed to be strong, tough, unemotional, logical, capable, stable individuals.  Seeing a man in a weak position, complaining of feeling depressed, gets a lot of people's backs up.  Think of how it feels to see men cry.  No one likes to see men cry, people find that quite disturbing.  I lose count of the times I ask a doctor about a patient's condition at work and the reply is 'He needs to man up'.  A lot of these doctors will go on to be GPs, and they will take that attitude with them, along with a lot of cake.

Now, I'm not saying that the GPs don't have a clue, and that they are all sexist, God knows I've been to some amazing ones over the years who have helped me.  Men do get diagnosed with depression more nowadays, its not like they are given a stiff brandy and told to pull themselves together while the women are given as much valium as they can eat (that was the 60s).  All I'm saying is that there are subtle attitudes about sex that exist in all our brains, and as GPs are human beings, this is bound to influence them in their practice.  

Monday, 3 October 2011

You Don't Understand!!!!

I always say that my depression is very extreme.  When I am well, I find it hard to remember what it is like when I am ill, and vice versa.  I find that there is no middle ground, no real grey area for me.  Its a bit like being a budgie, having a blanket chucked over your cage and suddenly its night time, rather than the traditional gradual nightfall.  

When I am well, I read my diaries and marvel at how shit I felt, and luckily for me it seems a million miles away.  But, sometimes I get reminders of what it is like.  I remember once when my ex had a friend staying with him who had got depressed.  He was drinking a lot too, which was making him worse, and he had called a friend and said he was going to kill himself.  Me and my ex found him in the living room in a state.  He told me how he felt, and I burst into tears completely without warning, because it reminded me of the way I had felt when I was at my worst.  

I am interested in mental health, I find it quite fascinating.  This is probably because of my own experiences with depression, but the subject is quite engaging in itself.  I considered this when I thought about what to do for a career.  It is quite common, apparently, for people who have had their own problems with mental health to want to do something to help others with the same problems, and some go on to become counselors or study psychology.  When I was considering doing nursing, I thought of becoming a mental health nurse.  The experience I had with my ex's friend taught me that it might not be such a good idea.  Too close to home and too near the bone, to quote The Smiths.  So I went for the traditional style 'adult nursing'.

Unfortunately, people do not come in distinct categories.  Adults who have medical problems often have mental health problems as well, so it was inevitable that in my job I would come across people with mental health issues, and I didn't find it a problem.  I work in A&E, so I often see people at their lowest, when they have just attempted suicide or self harmed.  I never get upset though, I use the same professional head as when I witness sad events at work.  My natural reaction is to cry at some things, but you can't, so you just carry on and keep up your professional front for the patient and their relatives.  

But yesterday, I was looking after a lady who had taken a paracetamol overdose.  Paracetamol is very dangerous in overdose, as it can cause the liver to fail and result in a slow and painful death.  Luckily, nowadays we can treat it with a drug given intravenously that protects the liver and effectively saves people's lives.  The only problem with this drug is that it has to be given over about 21 hours.  Its a long time to sit on a hospital trolley, just waiting for the drip to finish.  At my worst, I absolutely could not be left with my own thoughts.  I had to be distracted all the time, as my thoughts were so upsetting and awful that it would literally drive me mad.  So I feel for these patients.  This lady was very emotional, sobbing all the time and talking about how she felt.  She said,
 "I want to disappear, I want to just become nothing"
I was sure I had written the same line in my diary about 50 times over the years, but then she said,
 "You could never understand, someone like you, you don't know how I feel"
I was at a loss to know how to reply.  I wanted to say that I did, that I'd been to the same place many times, and the reason I knew it would be ok is because I have come back from it.

I don't like telling the patients too much about myself, it feels weird.  You can't maintain your professional boundaries.  I don't mind telling people where I live, how long I've been a nurse, trivial banalities, but anything more personal feels wrong, and it felt wrong to tell her.  

However, I am not sure that was right, should I have told her?  It might have helped her, it could have made her realise that she was not the only one, and actually 'someone like me' can be as low as her sometimes.  It might have shown her that you can get as low as that and pick yourself up and get a decent job, and hold a position of responsibility.  

We'll never know, we can't know what goes on inside her head.  At least we know her liver is alright though.