Category Archives: depression

Hello Again!

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A couple of weeks ago it was my birthday.  I’m edging ever closer to THAT birthday.  I had a wonderful time, but realised a couple of days later that, after helping to build a reeeeally big fence, that my knees were not the happy bunnies they should have been.  It’s almost as though the little devil on one shoulder of my knees (bear with me!) was saying “Ha! You’re now only one year away from 50, and I’m not going to allow you to do this fun stuff any more. PING!” That ping being the sound of my knees surrendering to a massive fib.

When I went to the doctor’s last time to have my medication checked (so if anyone were to jokingly say to me ‘check your dosage’, they wouldn’t get any response, so, er, nerrr…) she was delighted to hear that I was running and promptly asked me whether my knees/back/other joints were ok. I’d said yes.  They were – at the time.  I’m going back next week, and I’m not sure how to say that I am having a few problems with my knees – but not because of the running!

So, yes, of course, next week is a big week for me… I may be able to drop off the citalopram altogether.  I may have to find a drum roll app for my phone…

I went for a run today for the first time in a couple of weeks.  I’ve been doing some bits of yoga here and there: on reflection I should have done a lot more, a lot more regularly. I’ve been doing all the magnesium oil and Pernaton and a body gelée to help them and they were at the point where they weren’t complaining at points where I had been expecting them to. I took it easy. The plan was: 5 minutes walking – 8 minutes running – 5 minutes walking – 8 minutes running – 5 minutes walking.

What actually happened was this:

5 minutes walking – 7 minutes running – 1 minute ‘What-the-heck?!’ – 2 minutes hobbling – 3 minutes walking – 8 minutes footslogging/hobbling/walking – 5 minutes walking/muttering.

Thanks (sarcasm) to all those office workers who crossed from their side of the path to mine specifically to walk into me.

But funnily enough, it wasn’t the knee that I was expecting to give me jip.  No, that one waited until I tried to take the first of a few steps up from the river path and then went ‘gurrrrghhh’ on me.  But only for a moment.

That was about half an hour ago. They’re throbbing a little now.  Time for some magnesium oil… I’ll wait a couple of days, and then I’ll do another walk/run, with shorter bursts of running.

Any suggestions and advice would be gratefully received!!

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Tahini, tahini, all the way…

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Okay, so last week I graduated from the Couch to 5K program. In the second half of the week, I tried to do one of the Couch to 5K+ podcasts. One question I have to ask is –

Does it ever get easier?

This new podcast is intended to get you running with a bit more rhythm, a bit more speed. I just thought I’d try it out to see how I got on. I knew after that, I would probably go back to Week Nine of the original program and stick at that for a little while – just to get my strength and stamina up.

It was tough, I will admit that. But… That doesn’t mean I didn’t do it! Yes, I did it. Again, I did have the old ‘life flashing in front of the eyes‘ thing a little bit but it didn’t actually stop me. What it did make me realise was that I am taking an unfair view of my own progress. I’ve heard it said that in order to be constantly at the cutting edge of one’s own progress, it will always seem hard. So with that in mind, I decided to go back to the drawing board just a little bit.

Today I decided to give myself a pat on the back and go back to one of the earlier podcasts so I could see just how far I have actually come. So I went back to Week Four which is the first week that features longer blocks of running, and by that I mean blocks of five minutes and three minutes.
I knew if I went back to Week One it would be a bit too simple. And I didn’t feel like I wanted to waste half an hour. Does that sound bad?!

The results? Better pace, better speed, plus I found myself really looking forward to the running segments. So much so, in fact, that I (on the spur of the moment) decided to change the half hour programme slightly and add a HIIT component to it. That is High Intensity Interval Training. Now people who are good at this stuff and do it all the time Will know exactly what HIIT is but I didn’t when I first came across it hence why I’ve explained it out.

As Week Four alternates sections of walking and running I upped the intensity slightly by sprinting (or at least trying to!) for the last 30 seconds of each running block. This was quite easy to do, timing-wise: I just waited for Laura to say “You’ve got one minute left” then I waited a little bit and I went for it!

Oh, and why the tahini?

So glad you asked! Tahini is a great source of magnesium, and boy do my muscles need it afterwards! I’ve put a good dollop of this in my pre-running “Milkshake” and I find it really helps to stop my calves from disowning me.
My conclusions? I am a really happy bunny! It’s proved to me today how far I have come as a runner. Laura said last week that apparently I can actually call myself a runner now.   I’m quite pleased with that, especially as I have never been able to give myself any label that had anything to do with any sport!

Another thing I’ve learned this week when sprinting make sure you are wearing the correct, er, underwear. Yes, I’m talking the over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder! I’m no skinny Minnie (and never will be) so Newton’s laws have a few things to say about my running. And while I didn’t exactly give myself a blackeye today, I realise that (as a goth) that to be truly effective, running bras need to be a bit like a corset: you need to be able to pack it all in! I mean, you don’t buy them just to be comfy, you buy them to keep those puppies battened down!

As I’m now on alternate days doses of 10mg Citalopram, and my oh my, is it helping…
Anyway, I now look forward to being a “runner”!

So for any new runners out there, just remember this: it’s not about how far you’ve run, it’s about how far you’ve come.

A light at the end of the tunnel…

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…and it’s not the 7:42 to Reading.

Great news. I’m on the last week of the Couch to 5K program.

This week I will be running for 30 minutes without stopping. Admittedly, I’m not doing 5K yet but that will come!

Another good thing is that I’ve now started working two days a week at my favourite place and I love it.

I’m really getting back into studying my nutrition course and that’s going well.  It’s getting to the fun part where I actually have to start doing advisory type assignments – doing meal plans etc…

As for the running I will be dropping down to twice a week but running for longer hopefully further. I will crack this 5K.  I will however be supplementing all this busy-ness with a good long bike ride at the weekend. I’m at the stage now where I can’t not be active…

At least today I did break through that elusive 4km mark – even though it did involve 30 minutes of running + 10 minutes of walking.  Still, considering 8 weeks ago I was struggling to run for 1 minute without my life flashing in front of my eyes, I think I’ve done quite well!  And if I can do it, anyone can.  I mean, seriously, anyone can!

I went to the doctors today… I can now drop down to 10 mg Citalopram every other day, which is wonderful. The biggest surprise was when she asked me if I minded there being another doctor in there. It was a doctor that was just coming back from maternity leave and was finding her feet again. Lo and behold it was the very same doctor that saw me when I had my breakdown last year. So we greeted each other, I asked her about the baby and my doctor commented that obviously when we knew each other.

Only the last time the newly returned doctor saw me, I was a crumbling scrap of barely-there humanity; less than half a knock away from ending it all. My doctor complimented me on my progress, saying that the reason I have made such a good recovery is that I’ve been proactive. I’ve sought help; I’ve had counselling; I’m doing the exercise.

I’m fighting back.

So to speak.

Apparently there is a trend among some people to be quite submissive (that’s not quite the word I want) to depression and that they do seek help but they take the tablets and accept that this is their fate. They are still feeling powerless and continue to take medication because they feel there is no other way out.

Actually that kind of sounds like depression itself to me but…

There is always a choice.

It can be done!

One heck of a week!

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WARNING: for those of a sensitive disposition who choose to be offended by anything and everything, today’s post contains scenes of shameless self publicising.

It really has been an incredible week. So much has happened. On Tuesday, my first published book, “Our Little Miracle” appeared on Amazon. Here’s the link… http://www.amazon.co.uk/Our-Little-Miracle-Thérésa-Hedges-ebook/dp/B00XK1AIDK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431691790&sr=8-1&keywords=our+little+miracle

Ebook_Cover_HR

Right, that’s the shameless self publicity over and done with!

I celebrated with a rather large bowl of ice cream (’cause that’s how I roll) which led to the inevitable ice cream toothache. Unfortunately, the wretched toothache turned into a face-ache that lasted the entire night, right through to the morning and well into the next day. The only respite I got from it was from taking some paracetamol, which I hate doing. I would get at the most two hours relief from it: the first hour it would be dying down as the tablets kicked in, then two hours of pseudo-relief and then in the final hour it wound itself back up again as the tablets were wearing off.  This actually continued into the next day as well which meant that the most I was only getting three hours sleep. I decided to go and see the dentist.

However, in the midst of this dental drama, I went to see my doctor to see how I was getting on with coming off the Citalopram. She was very pleased with my progress and suggested that I can now go down to 10 mg each day. Hurray!! She was also extremely pleased with how I’m getting on with the running and the exercise (more about that in a minute).

There was one amusing misunderstanding when she asked me how I was getting on with the weight loss side of things and was I having any problems and I said yes, I was still having a problem with not drinking enough. She looked at me extremely perplexed. “How do you mean?” she asked me and I replied to that of the eight glasses of water a day I was supposed to drink, I was managing about four or five but at least now I was getting closer to the eight recommended. She sighed with relief “Oh!” She replied “I thought you meant alcohol! I knew that couldn’t be right, as I know you don’t drink!” But we had a little bit of a chuckle about that.

And then she weighed me. That was the bit I was actually dreading. It turns out my weight hasn’t changed over the past month which, actually, it’s a good thing as at least it’s not going up any more. The doctor said that I may not appear to be losing weight because quite simply I’m losing fat and gaining muscle because of all the aerobic exercise I’m doing. That’s a relief!

Another good bit of news I had while I was about the diabetes test I had last time. I have spent a quite anxious month waiting for the result. I got the results. I’m not diabetic! I gave a loud sigh of relief and said ‘Thank God’ (and I wasn’t blaspheming). I guess I kind of suspected that I wasn’t,  but it is a fear that hangs over the family. Thankfully I have managed to dodge that particular genetic bullet. She said “Oh dear, you were worrying about it were are you? I would have phoned you if there had been a problem.” I said I know but it was just nice to hear her say it out loud!

On to the dentist. I have a lovely dentist. I haven’t had to have anything done for three whole years but this visit was different. Luckily I phoned for an appointment and got one at less than two hours later. I was so relieved and I got there and found that the problem had been a wisdom tooth.

I didn’t even know I had any wisdom teeth! Not because of my general lack of wisdom, but simply because I have a very small mouth (contrary to popular opinion). I was just very glad to have this raging pain dealt with once and for all. As much as I hate injections, I was actually really, really looking forward to this particular one. And as soon as they gave me the injection I said to the doctor the dentist actually I’m good now thank you very much!

Luckily he knows my sense of humour as well as I know his and the drilling started. Part of the problem with the wisdom tooth is that, because of the lack of space, it hadn’t come out fully so was still half in my jaw which explains why I had this excruciating pain in my jaw because I suppose the problem went right up into my jaw. I now have a temporary filling containing lovely, lovely clove oil.

I’m going back after the weekend to get the permanent one put in. Now this may seem quite irrelevant to a general rant about antidepressants but bear with me. I did look into this and I’m not saying at all that’s medication causes bad teeth. Obviously not! No! But previously I had been using an amazing home-made toothpaste which all the time I had been using it had been completely foxing my dentist. He kept complaining jovially that my teeth are too good and what the heck was I doing that he had nothing to do!

It is an amazing toothpaste. Here is the recipe for it

http://shazzie.com/blog/how-to-make-toothpaste/

it’s made by the lovely Shazzie Love. Seriously, you have to try this – it’s great stuff and cheaper than you’d think.

Of course, during the depression, if I wasn’t that fond of leaving the house I certainly wasn’t going to have the motivation to make my own toothpaste. And that I think is possibly where the problem started. I’ve done a little bit of research, and it seems that Citalopram and other SSRI medications can cause dryness of the mouth (I now finally know the meaning of the American phrase cotton mouth or cotton wool mouth) Couple that with my lack of drinking (water!), and you have less saliva to wash away all those nasty little bacteria which lead to dental cavities. As I’ve said the tablets themselves do not not not cause dental cavities. But the combination of the lessened amount of saliva plus the er, slide in personal hygiene which I’m sure a few people have experienced will lead to problems with your gnashers.

And so now, I’m back on that particular case. I will just say to anybody on medication for depression please please please drink water, chew gum, use this toothpaste, anything to look after your teeth. I realise now this could have been avoided. if you’re in this situation, please avoid it if you can.
Anyway, one light note about all this is that obviously the dentist had to ask me if I was on any medication. I told him that I was on Citalopram. He had obviously heard of it and seemed very surprised. “You’re the last person I would be expecting to be on antidepressants!” he said.

And don’t forget the embarrassingly hilarious after-effects of the injection… It’s as close as a non-drinker ever gets to drunk dialling!

One such message I sent to the hubby was (sic)

“It’s raining and I’ve got av pretty pink hooid!”

And it sort of continued in that vein.  Luckily I never sent the final message, which was to tell him that I was home and was about to start preparing for the dinner we were having with friends that evening. Or, as I put it…

“Im home an I’m going to sstart cutting thinggs up. like a pirate. ah-ah-arrr” 

And then, of course, there is today. The final day of week five of Couch to 5K. Today is the day I had to do a serious run.

And I did it!

20 minutes running without stopping. Just like Laura the lady on the App says by week five you’re building on a lot of work so everything has led up to this points – being able to run that little bit longer. I was so pleased, no, scratch that, overjoyed that I think my eyes started sweating too.

So there you go, that’s my week. The week in which I did I became a published writer, became a more accomplished runner, and which I got the motivation to start making my own toothpaste again.

Have a great weekend everybody!

I know I will!

Michael Finnegan

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That’s me at the moment. Michael Finnegan, begin again.

All that work I put into getting fitter – GONE.  Hello, Square One, my old friend.

I mean, I have been walking a lot, and briskly too, to get my allotted amount of exercise per day, but as I said before, the bronchitis and lack of efficient breathing ability kind of poleaxed me.   As a result, I had a couple of weepy days last week.  I’d like to say that I do the exercise because I just love it! But we all know that’s only partly true.  Okay, It’s as true as somebody sticking their head around the door and shouting ‘true!’ into the room before vanishing quickly.

The main reason I want to do this is fear… Fear of going downhill again.  And trust me, that’s a place I never, ever want to go again. Ever. Well, you get the idea.  And if rigorous exercise every day can help prevent it, then sign me up, pal.

Of course there is another, annoying reason… Remember me saying about the weight I’ve put on?  Well, I’m hoping to ditch that along the way too. It’s not nice when bending forward in a yoga pose and your stomach gets in the way. It heads for my spine and decides to squash into my diaphragm and – hello! – breathing problems and hilarity ensue.

So I decided to start gently again with the run. When I can keep going for more than a minute at a time, then I’ll pick up the Strava app again, but for now I’m using the “Couch to 5K” app.  Excellent.  A kind, non-patronising voice talks you through the entire session, and it even allows you to play a playlist en route – it quietens the music down when she needs to speak.  I’m only on the first week at the moment, so I’m at the ‘couch’ end of the spectrum.  Actually, today was the first day, so I’m more at the ‘plumping the cushions’ stage.

Funny, but the old me would have been horrified to be out, in public, in daylight, running. But it’s amazing what having your entire personality deconstructed can do for you. Hey, dog-walkers! Lovely day! Hi there, runners! Going great guns there! How’s it hanging, cyclists? Lovely day, isn’t it! They’re on their own journey, just as I am.  And we’re all at different points. And that’s just fine.

The old me would have run on the spot for months indoors first.  This is how it would have worked back then.  Or rather, these would have been my perceptions..

I go running – everyone stares at me in horror.

I wear my proper running gear – “Does she think she can run or something? She looks ridiculous.”

I don’t wear my proper running gear – “What does she think she looks like?”

I run slowly – “Look at that heffalump.”

I run fast – “Is Greggs having a sale on doughnuts, love?”

You see, the way my little brain was working before, you can clearly tell that there was no way I was going to win.

The depression has done me a favour, in a weird way..

I don’t care what people think.  I don’t actually know what they’re thinking, but I assume they have their own little dramas going on in their heads. They are probably no more horrified at me (or even noticing me!) than I am envious of the trotters than skim past me effortlessly.  We’re all on the same path. Paranoia can be awfully ego-centric, n’est-ce pas?

“Yes, I’m RUNNING!  Whoop!   Fresh air!”

*sigh*

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I thought I’d cracked it.  I thought I was done with it.

But no.

The insomnia is back with a vengeance. And because of this, I can’t cut down my dosage, just yet.

Bizarrely, I’m watching what I eat, how much exercise I do… Ah, well, thereby hangs a tale.  I got bronchitis a few weeks back, and that’s slowed me right down.  In fact, if I were going any slower, I would actually be in reverse.  Come to think of it, I think I may well be in reverse.

Has anyone else had major weight gain problems with medication?  I’ve put on over 2 stones (about 30 pounds) in the past year, and even though now I’m working off more than I’m eating, I’m still gaining weight!! How??!

I have started exercising again – slowly. Too much of anything – even laughing – and I go into a coughing fit.  Now there’s another delight I’d like some feedback on.  I’ve had a tickly cough, off and on, since I started the tablets.  Of course now it’s gone turbo because of the bronchitis. I am not so much a funk machine as a gunk machine – not impressive when you’re trying to survive even one song on Wii Just Dance.

Ah, the Wii, my friend. My buddy. My harshest critic at the moment.  I was doing some yoga on it the other day and it said “Now return to your original position.”

So, the next day, I did.

Curled up in bed.

I was going to get up, but somehow I just passed out again.  Not helping the insomnia!  Actually, the other day I only got 3 hours sleep (thanks, students!) but got up at ‘a reasonable time’, thinking that getting up early on 3 hours sleep would somehow kickstart my system, and that by bed time, I’d be so tired that I wouldn’t so much fall asleep as fall unconscious.

Nah-ah.

I was still wide awake at 4am and starting to resemble that twitchy little rodent in the Ice Age movies.

And heartburn?  What the heck?! I’ve been good.  Honest. I’ve not eaten late, or too much (I don’t think) but I go to bed and suddenly I feel like I’ve been gargling lava.  Apparently it’s to do with the cough. You cough, you get all GERDy. You get all GERDy, some of it slips down the wrong way and you get an irritated larynx. You get an irritated larynx, you start getting a tickly cough.  Stop me if you think you can guess what comes next…

I also did as the doctor advised me and stayed off the chocolate. I looked into this. Apparently it’s something to do with anxiety levels. Luckily, I’ve been fine.  I’ve not been craving it or anything.  So clearly I’m not addicted to the stuff, thank goodness.  And then, with it being Easter, I did indulge a little bit, with half a bar of some dark plain chocolate with orange and almonds.  Very nice.  But I don’t think I should ever eat much (ordinary) chocolate again. I couldn’t find the ultra-thin package in the freezer and threw something of a wobble as a result. The hubby gave me a play-by-play. It seems it was the kind of strop a 4-year-old throws at a supermarket checkout… I’m fairly sure he embellished for effect… Hm.

I have however been having a bit of raw chocolate at the weekends which hasn’t had any effect on me at all.  I think I know where this is going.  There’s a difference between raw cacao and ordinary cocoa.  The raw stuff is way gentler. It’s getting easier to find these days too.  Just ask in the nearest health store.

If you want a quick recipe, here you go…

3 tabs coconut oil, 2 tabs RAW cacao powder, 1 tab coconut sugar (powdered). If you want to swap 1 tab cache for milk powder, go ahead (I’m allergic).

Another quick recipe – the oddly named Cocochocofudgies

INGREDIENTS
1/2 block Creamed coconut
6-8 dates, soaked (no need to soak if they’re fresh, obviously!)
Aprox. 2 heaped tablespoons raw cacao or carob

METHOD
Melt the creamed coconut in a bowl in a pan of warm (not boiling). It doesn’t take much, to be honest. In fact, if it’s a hot day where you are, that’ll probably be enough!

Put the dates in the blender and whizz till smooth. Add the melted creamed coconut, mix thoroughly and then add the cacao till you have the right choccy taste for you. It varies. The amount of cacao depends on how much of a chocoholic you are!

Spread onto a tray, about 1/2″/1cm thick and mark lightly into squares. Put in the fridge to set. That’ll be the coconut doing that…

Beware – this is very moreish!

Hmm… Feeling peckish now…

What, no chocolate?!

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4th March

A week ago I went to see the doctor to see whether I could cut down the medication. I was told that, given my disruptive sleeping patterns and my ongoing tendency to have panic attacks that it would be best to stay on my current level of medication. A bit gutted at that. And then… I made a joke that when I get anxious, my hubby helps to calm me down, but if I get too anxious he just stands well back and throws chocolate at me. The doctor asks if I ate a lot of chocolate… I, er, said that, I er, ate it every now and again. I was then told to avoid chocolate.

Who says that?!

I think that was more upsetting than the tablet thing. Oh well… It’s been a week since I’ve had any (after teasing a friend for giving up chocolate for Lent – Karma!) and I don’t know what I can attribute to the lack of chocolate in my bloodstream, and what are the effects of withdrawal from the medication…

The insomnia itself is starting to wear off, and is now being replaced by the urge to sleep the clock round. For instance, last night I fell asleep before midnight, and I only woke up at 11am.  But I know that tonight I will still probably fall asleep around midnight, rather than stupid o’clock in the morning!

I’m getting lots of headaches and general aches as well, which is less fun.

That’s the thing with depression, you see – happy pills alone won’t work.  If the depression has been set of by a set of circumstances or a specific event, then perhaps fair enough. But, as in my case, where it was due to the situation I was in, then that situation has to change.  I know someone was starting to feel themself go down the depression route simply because they didn’t feel they had any control over their work.  Loss of locus of control is key to triggering an episode in someone who has a natural tendency towards depression. So they have also changed their situation and found a new job where they know they can feel in control.

For me, it had to be changing a lot of what I was doing at the time.

The key to tackling depression is three-fold: medication, exercise and therapy.  I’ve been blessed to work with a superb counsellor from church, who not only got me through the issues I was having in my daily life, but all the underlying issues that had, over the years, created that present situation. Well, if not the situation itself, then it had definitely laid the groundwork for the breakdown!

On their own, pills will just make your current horrible situation a little more bearable.  Like the prescribed equivalent of getting drunk or something. It’s just covering over what’s really going on.

The thing is, even after everything may be changed, dealt with and sorted, the medication has to continue because it’s allowing the brain to continue healing even while enabling you to still be in the real world.  It’s not like a broken leg where everything stops until it’s healed. Perhaps that’s why depressives want to hide away – perhaps it’s their way of giving their minds space to heal. Perhaps it’s an instinctive self-preservation thing. Perhaps that’s why so many basic behaviours go out the window…

Anyone else been told to stay off chocolate? Inquiring minds need to know!