I last posted just after I had been to A and E, that visit began a process of daily visits from psychiatric nurses, a rapid referral to a consultant who finally took me off a medication that I knew had been making me feel much much worse and fast tracked to some pretty useless therapy.
The consultant informed me that despite also having my battle with bi-polar I was currently in the midst of severe clinical depression, not surprising considering I had lost 2 good friends and a family member all within the first six months of 2016. The overwhelming grief had floored me and I couldn’t function anymore.
It was still a shock to myself to acknowledge that I was so ill, I cannot even begin to describe the crushing darkness. I will try to revisit it in a later post perhaps.
I was put on a low level dosage of Prozac and began to attend weekly therapy sessions.
These were beyond unhelpful to be honest.
Slowly, without the drugged haze of my anti-psychotic medication I somehow began to recover.
In the week between Christmas and New Year I then decided to stop taking my Prozac. I was done with being medicated for now. It was against the advice of the GP I saw, and I did it anyway.
At some point this year, 2017, I began to feel again. I began to be able to feel the flood of emotions, the quick changes of mood that had scared me and medical professionals when I was 26 and caused us to medicate the hell out of me. My hallucinations came back, and to be honest I see them as a small price to pay for being able to feel joy again.
It is not everyday that I am well, far from it, but sometimes when I listen to a song, or notice I am being productive and cleaning or managing something I haven’t been able to do in so long I feel joy. The joys of a song from my teenage years, the weird pleasure I get from hanging washing outside in the sunshine. The sense of pride I got from going outside, kind of on my own, (I have ‘acquired’ my brother’s dog, Pearl, for now, she lives with me and she has helped massively with my recovery).
There are many things that may have helped, or may have happened because I started to feel better anyway.
We moved to our own house, which gives me independence and the freedom to live my ups and downs with a bit more privacy.
I have the obligation to look after a dog, so I need to get up, go for walks etc. for her sake. (I do also have a lovely pet rabbit, however when I was at my worst others have helped me look after him, I was able to walk away from that responsibility without him taking it personally, he’s happy if he gets food, water and exercise and attention. Pearl, my brother’s dog, seems to sense when I am unwell, she comes and stays close to me, and we share the joys of walking together. Perhaps the solution was always to get a dog?!
I also really think that personally, at this time, leaving the medications behind have helped. I do think I needed the Prozac last summer, but I feel now, I am far better without medication.
In my slow recovery I started to document some ridiculous things I have gone through in the awful systems of what is an underfunded, overstretched NHS mental healthcare system. I began a series of comics called The Many Adventures of Sophia the Worst (link to the ones I have created so far are here)
For the last almost year now, I have felt very unable to write, to inspire others to contribute and I had to focus on getting myself into some sense of functioning normality. I still have duvet days, but last week I noticed that I had 5 out of 7 days free from the worst of the darkness. Each day still likes to floor me with crushing anxiety, but somehow I have found this reserve of strength that allows me to push through it more often than when I give in.
So while being in no way fully recovered, I am at-least able to see the light, to push forward and to dare to dream again.
Just because I know you are all super curious, here is Pearl, the dog who has helped me go outside again: