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

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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

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I’ve been lying to my loved ones. Which was okay….until it wasn’t.

Some days I kick serious arse. I knock being a Wife/Lover/Friend out of the park, I am acutely aware of my friends and families troubles, I can offer advice around the clock, I am there for everyone above the capacity I would normally think it humanly possible. I am the best employee, a great daughter and a best friend. I am engaging, mature, educated and confident. This can go for a day, a few days, a week or sometimes (though rarely…) an entire month.

But then, it hits me. I can’t get out of bed, I don’t go to work. If I am at work, I may as well not be. I become agitated at everything, I start small arguments for no reason…I have my “spikes out” as my Mum described my aura in those moments. I don’t answer texts, I can’t even shave my legs, let alone wash my hair.

I am haunted by melancholia. I don’t think that is too strong of a word for the situation, because I feel nothing but deep and persistent sadness and dread. Like I am covered with the heaviest, darkest and wettest blanket of sadness and hopelessness.

It’s f*cking awful when I feel that way. I have no idea how it makes my friends/family/Husband feel.

The last few months, I have had some low moments, a few high moments – but in general – mostly stayed along the baseline of any personality test.

The last two months I have lied and said I was busy, cancelled plans because I was busy, avoided spending the night at my Mum’s house when I went to visit (it is a four hour return drive and I still could not stay overnight), because I was busy and not picked up phone calls/responded to text messages, because I was…busy.

I have been busy fighting irrational thoughts, been busy breathing, I have been busy compartmentalising my thoughts and been busy taking a moment/s to myself. I have kept myself busy cleaning my house, cleaning my heart and cleaning my mind. I was busy silencing the pecking crows in my brown, busy trying to keep the negative Nancy’s at bay and been busy trying to regulate my heartbeat.

Mostly I have been busy putting me first.

I have missed a stack of parties, an engagement party, a wedding, two concerts, one going away party and an opportunity to see a friend who has been living in Dubai for two years. Bad friend, huh?

I flipped my own life on its head – I stopped sharing. I have made a conscious effort not to rant and rave via text/phone/in person whenever something or someone upsets me. Obviously this is a lesson I should have learned years ago, I am in my thirties after all…HOWever I am getting a grasp of it now. In the best possible way in which I can.

This week I lost control. I lost control big time. I found myself uncontrollably crying for three days. Not small crying. You’ve seen my last post. That was something so dark, I haven’t had it in years.

My Husband found me crying in the shower. Almost catatonic with grief. Overwhelming sadness.

I had to be honest with myself. What could be causing this? Is it the anniversary of my Father passing, or is it something else?

It is probably too much for one post. My break down was on Tuesday/Wednesday. The rest of the week was rough. It’s now Saturday night. I might leave it for now.

But please. PLEASE. Don’t be silent. If it’s more than relaxing/having “me” time or just taking a minute. If your silence is drastically different to your personality. If you’re having thoughts which are dark and potentially threatening to your health and wellbeing. Pick up the phone. Speak up. Ask for help. Do not suffer in silence.

I will share more of my story shortly. I am not sure if anyone is reading, but I think for my own mental health I need to document this.

Wishing you all a happy, kind and loving weekend.

Lucy

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It’s the little things in life…10 things that always make my heart happy <3

  1. Cuddles with my Mum. Possibly my favourite thing as a little girl, something I resisted as a teenager (I was a shit of a teenager, honestly) and cherish and crave as a grown woman.
  2. When I am completely relaxed, anxiety-free and depression is under control. Oh my goodness, best feeling in the world. Normalcy, control and happiness.
  3. Taking. Off. My. Bra. Hello freedom! Oh and scratching along where the bra line was on my back – is this not the best feeling in the world?
  4. That first sniff/sip of coffee in the morning. Not a dodgy Moccona from the tin + hot water, coffee. A decent coffee.
  5. Ham + Cheese croissants. Worth the 400 plus calories and 51% fat content. Every damned time.
  6. Cake. Oh my god, cake. Chocolate, mud, red velvet, orange + poppyseed. I don’t even care, just make it moist and make it delicious.
  7. The smell of jasmine. Will follow the smell and inhale for dear life. Oh my goodness, that smell. Heaven.
  8. Crawling into bed on a Sunday evening when I have laid fresh sheets which have been in the sunshine all day after having been washed. It is important to note that this step can only be as deliciously satisfying if I have shaved my legs and washed my hair.
  9. That beautiful change of season which is palpable. The air is thicker, you need a cardigan – I cannot tell you how much I love that feeling when summer in Queensland has broken, and autumn is on its way.
  10. Laughing with my Husband. I mean REALLY laughing. Losing our sh*t, struggling to breathe, snorting – the lot of it. Laughing with your best mate – you cannot get better than that.

Lucy

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