#thegram – an update, it’s time to ditch

The other day I wrote about how I was feeling towards #instagram and my travel/blog account.

Yesterday there was an incredible meet-up, for a travel group I was heavily involved in and truly loved. Given my feelings lately towards Social Media, and Instagram in particular – I was tossing up whether or not to go. I really wanted to meet the woman who had put the group together and had been so incredibly generous, kind and inclusive to all of us. There were a few other local girls I had chatted to on the platform and wanted to meet.

Despite my anxiety being a 15/10, I went and it was so lovely to ‘meet’ these people I have spoken with for a year and a half. Sadly my anxiety got the better of me and I had to leave. I only lasted around 45 minutes and my need to leave and get to my safe-place, home.

captureLast night I was so worked up with anxiety and stress related to my Instagram page that I actually decided this morning to A) delete my travel page I started with another person and B) temporarily (perhaps permanently) deactivate my personal travel / blog page.

This is no reflection on the wonderful members of the community I was part of, however I can honestly say I feel better about it already.

It is time to go back to enjoying my writing, getting my business off of the ground and centering myself. Thanks to everyone who has supported me, read my posts and encouraged me. I may or may not reactivate @courtney_brisbaneblogger / @courtneygaye travels, but for now I think I will just take a break and get back to what I really love.

I hope to see you around the traps otherwise, take care and look after yourselves and the things you love ❤

Courtney Gaye Signature copy

 

Advertisements

The Dangers of Distorted Thinking

a9896298605b6d3eebd418fe51c62fe7It has been a long while since I posted on here – I must admit, I went to ground for a while and I have to say, I certainly took the time to reflect and work on my own perception not only of myself, but of others.

I hope you all enjoyed the remainder of 2017 and had a lovely Christmas and New Years period. I avoided making new year resolutions and instead have settled on a few agreements – no strict cut-off dates to achieve, but rather rolling commitments.

My first being to avoid alcohol and processed foods (bar one cheat meal per week – booze free) for at least six weeks. We are now into week three and I am feeling strong in this choice. I certainly am feeling better for it. Things got a little out of hand before/over Christmas and not only was alcohol being used in celebration, but also if I had a hard day, if I was bored, if it was there. Terrible behaviour! I am not unruly or aggressive but I just felt rubbish. Particularly for the next few days afterwards!

My next commitment to myself is to treat my body more respectfully. I want to exercise, not because I am ashamed or hate my body, but because at the wise-old age of (nearly) 32, I have realised that this is my body. These are my organs. This skeleton and brain and muscle and every hair, fiber and pore have gotten me where I am today. Every morning I wake up, get up and get moving. How amazing is that?

So – in the spirit of this – I am now going to be mindful of any ‘distorted thinking’ which I am prone to. Which, we are all prone to but may not be conscious of. As last year was a big year, and physical health issues aside – there were some pretty prevalent mental health struggles as well.

Filtering – this is when you take the negative details – make mountains out of molehills and ignore any positive aspects.

Overgeneralisation – this is when you come to a general (and often incorrect) conclusion based on one or no piece of evidence. You think ‘hey this bad thing happened, and it will happen again. Vicious cycle.

Personalisation – when you suspect that everything people say or do is a reaction to you, personally. You also get stuck in the awful habit of comparing yourself to others.

Emotional Reasoning – believing that what you believe must be automatically true. If you feel bored and uneducated then you must BE boring and uneducated. You cannot have this – this is toxic and terrible for you!

There are many other styles of thinking and associated actions which I would like to tackle, but for now – these are the ones I am going to be working on.

What are you working on? Have you any personal agreements with yourself?

Lucy

x

The clouds have cleared and the sun is shining.

Today marks one month since I changed my medication. I started Lovan on 17 August 2017, after a five day break of no medication between coming off of Mirtazapine cold-turkey.

When I first started Lovan, I caught a cold and was a little worried as I initially thought I was having some reaction (itchy throat and eyes) to the new medication. It turns out it was just a common cold though.

I took the pills for a week and a bit and had my next GP follow up on 25 August 2017. I was feeling more positive, more in control, less clouded by anger, anxiety, rage and paranoia. I understand this is not all medication, as it takes longer than that to kick in – I DO however believe there was an evidenced change from stopping the Mirtazapine, starting the Lovan and generally feeling as though I was in charge of my mental health.

For the two first weeks, whenever I would lose my concentration or feel out of sorts (forgetful or teary), I would remind myself that I was doing the best I could and that I was ‘taking charge of my mental health’, it became my little mantra.

By the third week I was really feeling better. I was less paranoid, I wasn’t suspicious, I was not crying as much. Not finding fault in the actions of others. I was looking at my Husband with clarity and love which I used to look at him with.

I knew the biggest test of all was coming, the anniversary of my Father passing, it was always a tough time of the year for me. Which I have now written extensively about in my previous few posts. Surprisingly, when the anniversary rolled around – I took the day off of work, looked through some old photos and cherished positive and nice memories of Dad. I did have a little cry in the morning but I was not distraught like I normally am.

We then headed off on a ten day holiday, which we returned from yesterday, Our holiday was so relaxing, I read books, ate good food, went swimming and re-connected with my Husband. It felt truly wonderful.

I head back to work tomorrow, which is always sad but I have to be honest – I have only cried once or twice in the past week and a half and it was once when I was thinking about our wedding anniversary coming up (happy tears) and once when we were listening to our wedding playlist whilst getting ready to go out on our holiday.

I have really decided to pay attention to my mental health, to listen to my feelings and to lend my ears to those who need help. The journey is not over, it will never be over, however I do feel as though the fog is clearing & I am going to do my very best to be more in tune with my loved ones.

I am forever grateful to those who have read along here and supported me along the way. Much love to you all x

And after the past 18 months of torment, it was truly magical to shed happy tears.

Lucy

x

I let my heart & mind rest, for a while <3 My Mirtazapine Story (Part 1).

Hi there – thank you for reading again!

Okay, so my last post ended with when I started Mirtazapine for my depression. Mirtazapine is an atypical antidepressant and is also known as Remeron/Avanza and works to correct the neurotransmitters in your brain (which mine were most definitely Out. Of. Place).

I am no chemist, but if you would like to know more about this medication please see following link from the PBS: MIRTAZAPINE.

The Dr who prescribed this for me understood I had depression and anxiety but when I said I had insomnia as well, I think this is what swayed her decision to prescribe this for me. I remember the only side-effect I was told was ‘you will be drowsy and maybe dizzy – so take it before bedtime’. I remember laughing to myself thinking, yeah right – I don’t sleep.

rsz_18c5a9302e1b47a157064e36f8eedfaaa

Sleep was the first thing I noticed about this medication, I could take it and be asleep within 20 mins – eyelids heavy, thoughts slowing. I could sleep for 5 hours at a time, it was my miracle pill. Within 2 weeks the panic attacks were lessening and I felt a little better, but that early in that might have been the sleep rather than a change in my depression.

It took a couple of weeks to feel any effects emotionally, but it definitely helped with the sleep straight away. I could sleep, I was not crying as much during the day. My anxiety was more manageable. I COULD leave the house to go to work. I was in control. I was able to choose how I would react (to a certain degree).

I still had sadness, I still had depression I was still anxious but I could leave the house. I could get 5/6 hours sleep a night. I could make plans. See my friends, travel the world, manage and excel in my career, have a rewarding relationship and finish my Degree. Thank goodness.

My relationship took its natural course and I suppose too much damage had been done and we had grown apart. Or perhaps I had more clarity about my life – what I deserved and what I needed in my life. Which was structure. I felt more in control.

When I felt brave enough and ready, I went overseas and had a phenomenal holiday as part of a tour group and I met one of my best friends whilst doing so. I changed my degree, I applied for a new job – I had a career in mind.

Within 12 months I had my life back on track. I was still having anxiety and depression and I was still taking the time to feel my feelings and cry when I needed to. BUT I was leaving the house. I was a better friend, a better Daughter/Sister and a better employee/student.

rsz_31958682ed80880897a9a22227ce1374

I guess looking back, there definitely were some effects to note. The first being, I lost motivation for a lot of things. I used to be completely in control of my eating and physical exercise. I had a pretty good appetite, in that it was manageable. I didn’t really need to snack throughout the day – don’t get me wrong, I could binge eat on the weekend but I could handle eating a relatively normal amount of food on a day to day basis.

My energy levels definitely dropped as well. It felt like a relief though, when I had been operating at this constantly anxious – go-go-go level. I figured I was just sluggish because of the medication but after a few years I think it went from being a chemical effect to being just ‘me’. Slow, low motivation, low levels of interest and packing on the weight.

When I started Mirtazapine I think my weight was around the 74kg mark (I am 5″9). I would say by the end of 2011 my weight was around the mid80kg mark and by the end of 2012 I was up past 90kg. Now, I am not blaming the medication at all for all of my weight gain, but when I was 74kg – that was heavy for me and I could go between 65kg – 75kg, maybe 78kg if I was fluctuating. The 78kg being quite heavy. I could lose it though, with diet and exercise.

Mirtazapine was my anti-depressant, it is what I took every night. It helped me sleep and I assumed it was helping my depression and my anxiety. I had an insatiable appetite, I never felt full, I was sluggish and slow and before my period I would be absolutely melancholic, miserable and felt quite hopeless.

If I am honest, I can say that for the next 6 years it helped me with my anxious mood and deep depression. However, with the nightmare which the Mirena IUD brought me, it’s impossible for me to pick when it stopped working. It did though, and it had some pretty nasty consequences when it did stop working.

Mental Health Australia

SANE Australia

Beyond Blue

Headspace

Lifeline

This is a several part blog, so seeing as I am still recovering from the events last week, I might leave it there for now :).

TBC

Lucy

x

I had no idea how to control my brain anymore

A big hello to anyone who is reading, I really appreciate it. Knowing I might be able to help someone out there is wonderful, but knowing this is a safe place to help my own mind is even better. My last post was very negative and for that I apologise – however, I think it’s important to acknowledge the state I was in. We as a community need to end the stigma behind mental health.

Knowledge is power, my approach this week was ‘if I am losing control of my thoughts, then I need to flood my brain with as much factual information as possible to try and corral these dark thoughts – INTO LINE!’ Please excuse my next few posts, they will be heavily focussed on my mental health battle, because right now – that is my focus. I need to be in control of this – my mental health has to be my focus.

The last week I have read as many peer-reviewed journals (thank you USQ library access still working), Psychological/Psychiatric/Mental Health websites, other blog posts, online support groups and MIMS medication fact-sheets as I have been able to get my hands on.

So – since I am mapping my journey from then until now (because I KNOW my light is just around the corner…*fingers-crossed*.

Antidepressant medications are absolutely the first treatment most Westernised Doctor’s choice for people who meet the diagnostic criteria for depression and/or anxiety.

When I was 14 my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness. When I was 21, he passed away from this illness. What I (along with my entire family) had been through during that time was not only grief, but anticipatory grief. Waiting for the inevitable. When that time came around and my father died, I did not react the way I expected to. I did not cry. I did not cry for 18 months. I had cried for eight years. I was shocked, I was hurt, I felt a huge loss, but I could not cry for 18 months.

Then, out of apparently nowhere – I hit my low. I stopped sleeping, I was unable to go to work five days a week, I am sure the only reason I was not fired from my job (at 2 or 3 sick days a week), was due to industrial laws protecting workers. I was biting my fingernails until they bled. I was washing my hair maybe once a week or fortnight (I have dry hair so it’s not as gross as it sounds), it was the effort behind self-care. I was biting my nails until they bled. My thoughts were constantly swirling around mortality, I was constantly anxious and I was always crying.

I was smoking at least a packet a day. I would drink until I passed out. Even then I would only sleep for maybe 2 hours total. I was a full-time employee and a full-time student as well (work during the day, study at night – attempt to maintain relationship somewhere in the middle).

This kept up for probably three months and I ended up in a HR meeting at work, job was on the line, get your sh*t together or you may be formally disciplined (in Australia it takes businesses many many steps before they can formally dismiss someone, btw).

I loved my job, I needed my job – financially I was helping my Mum support my younger siblings. I also lived out of home and surprisingly had a relationship that was somehow still together.

My work output was absolutely shot, everyone knew I was the girl who’s Dad had died on her second day of working there, and then came to work the next day. So I did not have much of a leg to stand on (in their eyes, grief of course is different for everyone), where 18 months later I broke, it was too late to say “My Dad died and I am really depressed“.

When a balloon went off in the office after someone’s birthday and I ended up under my desk crying and shaking, I guess that’s when I realised I couldn’t handle it alone.

I think where I went wrong, is not going to MY family Doctor. He had been my Doctor since I was 17, and for a transient family that’s a long time. He knew me, my medical history, the ‘family story’, he had treated all of us. Yet, I didn’t – desperate times called for desperate measures.

So, I went to the Doctor which was A) near my house; and B) bulk-billed (because who could be bothered paying $80 just to see a Dr when they’re 23?). I walked into that room and said I needed help with panic attacks and sadness and insomnia. I could not sleep, I am anxious and I am going to lose my job. Please. Help. Me.

I walked out of that medical centre within 8 minutes, holding a script for something called Mirtazapine Sandoz. I figured that all that had happened in the nine years was the worst that would happen. Ahh, the naivety of a 23 year old. I really believed that medication would ‘sort me out’. Life would be on the up and up now I had medication.

What a shame it took me another seven years to work out the medication was having its own detrimental effect on my mental health, my relationships, my physical health and my life.

I hope you are being kind to yourself today, however and wherever you are <3.

To be continued…

Lucy

x