Worry of hope – rapid cycling

It’s 5 am and I cannot sleep.

I am angry of myself. I am angry of the world. I am angry of hope.

I am supposed to try a new treatment soon. My mood changes more than I can handle. I am up and down at the same time.

I put on my trainers and went down for a walk.

Am writing and waking while listening to music. That is how restless I am.

I am worried it will fail

I am worried I will fail

I am worried I will fail them

I am worried they will fail me

End up my post with the usual

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference

TBC

Featured

You must know

Know that I love you since before I was born

Know that I loved you since before you were born

Know that you are my every reason for being

Know that I want to leave to set you free

I try and I fail and I try again and I fail and fall harder

Maybe this time it will work

In the world of rapid cycling

Hello everyone. Bla bla bla yes I haven’t written for a while, miss you, etc.

You know it is not me who is inconsiderate or rude: am rapid cycling.

Say what? Say one day am high as a kite (a small kite since am bipolar 2), and the next am digging a tunnel to the the after life (does that even make any sense?)

You get the picture. Am a yo-yo, I am a roller coaster, a bullet train with bad breaks.

I enjoy my ups and do accomplish a lot; especially if you count shopping as an accomplishment. I spend hours without eating (big high five since I tend to feed like a newborn every 2 hours). I even live on 5 hours of sleep and I am Eeyore on any other day.

Woke up at 6 am today (weekend here on my side of the world) and hoped into my trainers and on to the kettle and to my smokes.

Am sociable, am pretty, am smart and talkative. I love it.

I wrote this down to me Nour. Yes to me, for in a few hours I will feel like dirt is better than me. I will feel empty and useless and I will become a burden. I will get back to staring at the ceiling and doing nothing but dealing with suicidal ideation.

Today however I will kiss my kids, a lot and lots more. I will go for a long walk like the book says. I will have lunch with my beautiful loving family and I will dress to impress. I will put on my make up and my new earrings. I will take a selfie or two and hashtag them to mentalhealthawareness.

Meanwhile my rapid cycling friend; I freakin feel you. You are my hero.

Remember, for every down there is an up coming and heck yes we shall ride the wave and rise to the moon.

Bless

TBC

Call for interviews

As part of a bigger life project, I am conducting (anonymous) interviews on how to live/cope with bipolar disorder. Send me a message here or through my Facebook page if you are interested in participating.

Bless

https://m.facebook.com/happilydepressedblog/

You are not the problem; you are the solution

I have been away from writing for a while. It was a period of re-evaluation. I needed time to gather my thoughts before I share them with you.

Today, I want to talk about living in the now. I want to talk about living without fear. I want to talk about hope…

I want to talk about waking up without wanting the day to end. I want to tell you that it’s possible to enjoy life even if circumstances are not ideal.

I want to share with you today my insight about a previously feared decision that I was very hesitant to make.

I was hesitant to live.

My fear blocked me. Doubt was consuming me inside out. I didn’t like the present (my illness) , I regretted the past (my recent diagnosis with depression and bipolar disorder, my genes, my upbringing…), and worried incessantly about the future (relapses, pain, facing myself or even another day).

This topic was my obsession. I thought of nothing but bipolar disorder. I was not sick with the disease, I was the disease itself. I couldn’t put a distance between me and “it”. Bipolar was the boss of me, and I didn’t know any better.

Little by little my dissatisfaction with the situation kept building up. It was sort of an unconscious rebellion surfacing. With hindsight, I understand why I opposed certain hospitalizations and certain drugs or doctors. I refused over and over again to be numbed. Because when I get numb, I forget why I am in this situation in the first place.

I knew something was amiss.

The healing system I surrendered to was treating my symptoms and not my illness.

Traditional psychiatry attempted to take my pain away without telling me that I will also lose myself in the process.

I have been aware for a while that my condition is psychological but to a big big extent also physiological.

I couldn’t accept that my childhood, no matter how sad it was could still affect me some 30 years later. I couldn’t accept that moving from one country to another is enough of a reason to have me sedated by force while I was trying to escape from the ICU after a suicide attempt.

What couldn’t they see? What is being told to me by this suffering? Why is my family witnessing this? Is it all coincidence? Is it all in vain? I was a mental health practitioner at some point, how could I be the patient now? What happened to me???

As my rebellion became my revolution, I weaned myself off drugs. But that was only the beginning. Slowly my cognitive abilities came back. Not all, I still have memory blockage, or loss. I lack concentration sometimes too. But in general I can tell you with confidence that this is my brain. Those are my feelings. This is my reality.

I began to put 2 and 2 together and made some parallels- and those made and still make sense to me. They might not be universal truths; but is there such a thing?

I thought that each hospitalization began with a series of blood tests. Why do they keep on saying that there is no bio marker for mental illness!! A lie. A big fat ugly lie.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a half truth than none at all. The medical community has knowledge about biological, pure physiological imbalances that accompany depression, or any illness to that end.

People just take the easy track and stop investigating, or they don’t want to claim responsibility. Tell me why is my sedimentation rate (ESR) abnormal? Why is my vitamin D so low? Why is my thyroid imbalanced? Why did I bleed for weeks with no end between my periods staining every surface I touched before I was diagnosed? Hormones anyone? My ferritin was low, my proteins were in the wrong values. Soon after I started treatment I began to have bad cholesterol. Is my mother the reason for all that? Or is it rainy Paris? Or maybe my then 2 extra kilograms?

I was prescribed “vitamins and supplements” yes, but no one ever told me that they would be key in healing me if taken religiously and monitored regularly. I was told not to miss my antipsychotics, my antidepressants, my anxiolytics; those drugs that alienated me further and further from me, from those around me and most importantly from the truth.

I was told I need to play sports and bathe when I was pinned to my bed by drugs. Yes yes, exercise is good for depression. Not once was I told that there is a link between what goes into my body (food yes food!) and my physical or psychological condition.

Not once was meditation mentioned. Not once was yoga mentioned. Not once was even coloring-in mandalas brought up. Just take the drugs and come back for more. I was offered psychotherapy, but I didn’t give it much importance then. I think now it was because I felt to a huge degree that talking about my problems wouldn’t make them disappear.

I realized that no matter the good will around me is, no one would help me but me. I decided to take charge of my life.

At 38, I finally decided to become an adult.

I will listen to the medical community orthodox or not, because yes they do have insight. But most importantly, I will now forward listen to myself. I started to believe in me. I started to believe in my cognitive abilities surfacing and my instinct.

I knew I am no longer Bipolar Disorder. I am Me.

Simply put I began to circle around the idea of inflammation. I knew that illness meant imbalance and imbalance was often caused by inflammation. I also thought that inflammation is not only physical but psychological. I thought I would enforce a way of doing – a way of living – that is anti inflammatory.

When you are ready, the stars align. Without being esoteric, when you buy a red car you start seeing red cars all around you. When you brain focuses on a certain topic, you see it in plenitude.

I began to dig for links and for alternative remedies. I found that others – plenty of others- think the same. I hadn’t given alternative ways a serious thought before. Cancer healed by pure will and some plants? Yeah right!

I think that if you want to go alternative and drive off road, you cannot pick and chose. It has to be integral or better still systematic. Again that is me talking not science.

So it figures that turmeric or curcuma is a miracle drug that treats a wide range of problems relating to inflammation. It figures that I need to treat my candida problem that has been an integral part of my life for the past 10 plus years if I want to heal. Not one, not a single medical authority wanted to establish this link; as if I had several bodies or as if my organs were not related and living in the same ecosystem.

It figures there is a link. And yes, essential oils do work if taken long enough and right enough. It seems that the liver needs a proper cleanse to get rid of all the bad stuff we feed ourselves all the time. Otherwise healing would be in vain.

It figures that sugar and gluten can also be part of the problem, feeding regularly the inflammatory machine. The more you eat it, the more inflamed your body will be, and the more you will crave it. Funny, I consumed jar after jar of jam before my first hospitalization; a food that I truly dislike.

Activities are also inflammatory. Sitting hours in traffic jams is inflammatory. Dealing with negative people and draining meaningless tasks is inflammatory. Going for a walk is anti inflammatory and so is listening to music. Playing with the kids is anti inflammatory; trying to prove that I am right all the time is inflammatory. You get my point.

None of that would work alone. It is a system. A wholistic system that you create and you alone- it has to make sense to you.

The knowledge is there. I am no genius and you don’t have to be one.

We went through hell and back – all of us. Whether you lost a child, a limb, a job, or financial security. You are unhappy because you chose to define yourself as a problem. I Am The One without a Mother. I Am Bipolar Disorder. I am Divorce. I am Unemployment. I am Obesity.

While doing that we forget all the other things that we are, or aren’t! Yes you could be bipolar and it is sad, but you are so much more than that. And you are not so many other bad bad things.

The truth is there is always better; but mind you there is always worse.

So let us take a leap of faith and try to breath it out.

Say it out loud with me

I am not my illness, I am me.

I know this is not an ideal situation, but there is no such a thing.

I know I cannot control tomorrow, but thinking about it constantly won’t change a thing;

When I need help I will ask for it, but I am in charge of my existence;

I live for a reason; and that reason is to understand and free myself from suffering;

I am as happy today as I could ever be….

I beg you please to listen to yourself. Listen to your body. You are not the problem: You are the solution.

Bless

TBC

Choosing to live with the side effects of psychotropics – a life changing decision…

I saw my psychiatrist yesterday.

I told her about my “attacks” and she explained.

She told me that hormonal changes in female bipolar patients tend to send them over the moon sometimes. So what I am going through is not surprising. It is not a hormonal problem per se, it is just a confirmation that I have a mood disorder.

I asked if there is any biomarker that would tell us if I need a hormonal treatment to fix my mood. She said that there is currently no information on this. Surprise? Not really. So the only marker hormones wise is that of the thyroid gland functions. My numbers are not perfect, but not alarmingly different to cause such an imbalance.

My session was important despite the “negative” results. I now know that I need to make a big decision.

My doctor asked me about whether stopping lithium was due to hypomania and I said it was not. I would do this over and over again. The changes, the personality changes that most psychotropics cause me are just unbearable- to me. Again, this is such a personal matter that it would be straight stupid to advise anyone to quit or not. I am not preaching anything. I am just sharing my own journey, which might or might not be similar to yours. What is sure though, you might have gone through similarly difficult choices to make.

We agreed that my life as it is now is not fulfilling. The unpredictability of my attacks renders my illness a disability to me and to those around me. We are unable to plan anything. I struggle to be an adult, an independent person who requires little or no maintenance. I struggle to be there for my children as a full time mother. Career? What is that sir! Sometimes having a shower is already a challenge to me.

Having said that, my worst fear is hurting those around me. Till when can they deal with my unpredictability.

Till when will my husband take days off work, or leave the house with a feeling of apprehension not knowing if he will find me home when he gets back.

Till when will I have my father leave everything and stick around to be here just in case I cannot deal with the children. Till when will he hop on and off plans to come to an emergency situation beyond his or my comprehension? Till when?

So fact one; we know this cannot go on.

Fact two; there is no clear solution.

My dear doctor whom I respect so much suggested that I add a new psychotropic to my daily dose of Prozac.

Psychotropic drugs are medications that affect your central nervous system, changing how your brain processes information, such as altering your mood, thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and behaviors. Most psychotropic drugs are prescribed by your therapist or health care provider to treat a diagnosed mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder.

https://www.verywellmind.com/psychotropic-drugs-425321

You see I don’t have a conscientious objection against drugs. No, I don’t. The thing is with most drugs I feel alienated, weird… I twitch, I get nightmares, I get lethargy, restlessness, anxiety, and sometimes I even have suicidal thoughts that unfortunately led me to the emergency room more than once.

She said the new drug- Abilify– could help regulate my mood. The idea is to take it at 5mg – a super low dose – to keep my curves from skyrocketing or dropping at the speed of light. Sounds good yes. I would have to wait a few months to monitor the effect of Abilify on my mood and on my menstrual cycle.

Will it work? We have a fifty percent chance it does. Ok, side effects? For starters, it is prescribed to children. How bad could it be?

Then Surprise surprise, they said when they put it in the market that it does not make you gain weight. Oups! Mistake, she said it does in many patients and my readings confirmed a nice 10 to 20 kilograms of extra weight per year. Maybe at different dosages, but still. I won’t be able to tie my own shoelaces by 2020.

Ok. What else? Oh it varies greatly she said from one person to another. Reading suggests that the worst is in the beginning; like vomiting and the like. That does not scare me. What really scared me is that patients on this drug would complain of very low energy and of restlessness or need to move.

According to the official site of the drug,

ABILIFY may cause movements that you cannot control in your face, tongue, or other body parts. Tardive dyskinesia may not go away, even if you stop receiving ABILIFY. Tardive dyskinesia may also start after you stop receiving ABILIFY.

https://www.abilify.com/important-safety-information.aspx

They might get also compulsive behaviors such as gambling and binge eating, cholesterol and anxiety.

How are you supposed to fight depression with all this extra weight and without any energy, with twitches and compulsive behavior? Don’t tell me stop searching the Internet. I did differ from a wide spectrum of side effects before. They are as real as it gets.

Her idea is that my Prozac would have a counter the side effects of Abilify and things would balance out. Perhaps…

So my dilemma is simply the following:

Should I risk living with these unpredictable cycles and watch myself and my family losing our minds slowly; or should I take the drugs and lose myself little by little and become a deaf note floating around in a soundless world?

Can you relate? Did you go through the same? Can you throw me a bone here? What did you do? What would you do?

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to kno
w the difference.

TBC

If I were

If I were at the hospital

I would wear my pyjamas all day

I would say good morning to everyone

I would wake up on time

I would have breakfast at the communal table

I would go for a smoke when the nurses say so

I would wear a nicotine patch To get me through the day, and I would be allergic to it

I would use the communal shower and dry up with a bed sheet; I would find hair everywhere and stay with my slippers on

I would wait for the doctor to pass by and say the daily bla-bla-bla;

I would play Sudoku- pen and paper sir not online

I would stare at my family’s portrait hung on the window and imagine them touching my face

I would move my chair around to be in the sun, seeking emotions and failing to find none

I would be disconnected; off the grid and not feel guilty about it

I would pretend it is doing me good to be here

I would take my blood pressure and temperature every day

I would talk to others about side effects of this or that

I would fancy getting better

I would know it is good for me, it has to be; it better be

I would feel guilty about the kids, my husband, my father; my kids, my husband, my husband, my husband, my father, my father, my father, my father….but my kids…

I would wait for 2pm when visits start, no no tears this time

I would wait for 7pm when I can call the kids and ask them to sing me a song, sometimes they would

I would give them imaginary baths and diners

I would blow imaginary kisses and I would make belief that I am tucking them to bed

I would kiss my husband good night and say a silent prayer, god let tomorrow be normal – one more day

I would beg for the drugs to black me out at 8pm

Dinner would be sprouts and more sprouts. Some borrowed olive oil here and some salt

The other day I took the kids bowling and felt so self accomplished just as if I landed on the freakin moon

I am sitting by the louvre sipping my Bloody Mary with tears

People are standing up here and there trying to get a perfect picture

They bend and jump into strange angles to look like the pyramid is on the palm of their hand

It is all make belief, looking for the perfect moment

A tour guide has an umbrella up for everyone to follow her

Where else would they go I wonder? Isn’t this the perfect moment? To follow someone without thinking? Tick this box and that one. Been there, done that…

We talk and talk and talk and talk

We shut up and up and up and up

We should know better

I am writing compulsively, but you don’t have to read me

It is building up

I know myself, I wish I didn’t

Solve it; for you god brought me here in the first place

No shame; maybe some

No regrets; just a few

Oblivion where are you?

TBC

Solace, where are you?

I would like to shed my skin like a snake…

I would like to change colors like a chameleon…

I know that personal growth is not always linear.

I know also that sometimes you keep on suffering until you learn the lesson.

Things are more bearable during the day. Yet, when the sun sets, and as the sky becomes darker, there is little left to be done. The few chores of the day end one by one.

I sneak back to my corner in bed. I hold my phone and do nonsense. Minute after minute, tic toc. It is past midnight already. I count the hours I have left in bed, and dread facing the next morning. I will myself to sleep but know to well that this is not how it works.

Someone else got into the control center in my head and took over. I am equally lost between trying to fight and surrendering. They are the same.

I’d do anything if I could. Like walking on shifting sand I lie on this side then on that side seeking comfort.

I finally fall asleep but my dreams are no solace. Of course they are vivid. I stopped trying to know what is true and what is not. They are as real as it gets, and also as fake as it gets.

I usually fixate on things in my dreams. Small details, they keep on coming back. I wake up without any memory of what happened. Just a feeling of weirdness and abnormality. Too much brain activity or too little. All the same.

I find small feet cuddling next to mine. They are seeking comfort and safety in me. In me…

I wake up to the sound of the alarm and hit snooze. I wish I could escape from the responsibility of being me.

I wish I could let go.

I worry about my family and how they will react – again. Pity, love, empathy, boredom, anger, what again will they feel.

I can see my temporary paralysis turning beautifully into a handicap. Will I need to be taken care of again? Till when I wonder… Will I ever be an adult?

I don’t know what to do with every single second of my day. I listen to this song then forward to another. I watch this show and then another. I go out for a smoke then decide it is too cold. I want cookies and cheese at the same time. What the hell is going on.

You know I wish I had a timeshare at a mental clinic. How cool would that be? Hello yes, this is client 44087. I am calling for room 13. Yes, is it time already. Is it empty today? Sure, like last time yes. I would like to start with the locked up package first. And I insist, don’t let me out even if I beg you too. That’s it then. See you later. Oh yes, I know the drill. No sharp objects of belts. Thank you.

Perfect customer service.

A few weeks after, my skin would have shed. Yes I am a reptile after all. Why? Oh am also a chameleon and I change colors all the time. Only difference is this is not for adaptation like reptiles. It is a malfunction, a mutation if you prefer.

At the end of the day, survival is for the fittest…

TBC

The tunnel at the end of the light

I wake up and find out that the life I thought I had is slipping through my fingers.

I look at myself in the mirror and I don’t see me. My son tells me what is wrong with your eyes? He is three.

Where is my silent mantra? Where is my magical oxygen?

Like a broken record, or a bad movie that always has a sequel…

I am just a

Racing heartbeat

Cold limb

Thought with echo

Foggy brain

Shallow breath

Flushed face

Spent energy

Headache

Backache

Fear

Silent scream…

I ask myself. Are you coming back? Are you already here?

I can’t be. You left me, remember? You almost promised not to show up again…

Why is it always payback time? Didn’t you take enough through out the years?

I have nothing more to give or to give up. I surrendered everything. You took it all away.

I am hesitant again…

I am dizzy again…

I am in bed again…

One of us has to leave and it cannot be me. I told you this before. I cannot go, it has to be you.

These cycles are endless. They tell you there is light at the end of the tunnel. Sure thing. Can’t argue with that. But they fail to mention that there is another bloody tunnel right after the light.

TBC

On hormones and bipolar disorder

Like a silent mantra I tell myself I am better. I tend not to think of the future in any upsetting way. I try to remember to breath and sense the air filling up my lungs, releasing magical oxygen that fights any little stress bubble there might be.

I focus on what is, what I have now, the moment. I don’t think in terms of ambitions or dreams or hopes. I make to do lists. Simple ones of course. I try to remain connected. I pick up my phone; actually I call my friends.

I am present with my children. I plan activities for them, and actively participate. I think about my whole family and remember how much they mean to me everyday. I enjoy my husband and always know that I am very lucky to be in love and to be loved by this amazing person.

Silently, like clouds gathering midday, I feel a change is coming. It is from within. I can tell that colors are not as vivid as they were a few moments ago. I repeat the mantra with hope knowing that everything shall pass. I resist seeing the faded colors and try to see them as bright as they were moments ago.

It works sometimes. The sky might meanwhile clear up, and things get back as sharp as they were. Sometimes it doesn’t though. The clouds keep on gathering and it gets darker. I remember to breath and try to send my magical oxygen around to stop these sad bubbles from forming. Sometimes it works…

When it doesn’t, I take my time. Nothing is eternal I repeat. Though I know that being active helps a lot in fighting depression, I give myself a break. I do as much as my body and my mind allow me. I don’t surrender. If a burst of energy comes, I get up and act.

Yet I also switch to energy saving mode. The mode I know best. It is what made me survive so far. I could stay still for hours, and sleep the day away. It upsets me because I feel I should know better. I remember the routine I need to follow everyday and stick to a minimum.

Like an hourglass, I feel precious particles are slipping away. Is it time passing that bothers me? Is it my lethargy building up? Is it my fear of what might be if this doesn’t change fast?

Yet, I try not to complicate things. Or do I not?

My psychiatrist told me that I should observe my cycle as it might be affecting my mood. I have been doing that and she is actually right. I had always thought of PMS as a mild passing condition that deserves no more attention than some chocolate and a hot water bottle.

I was wrong. My hormonal changes affect me big time. I don’t even know if that is PMS. I have noticed for a few cycles the following pattern. I would have a few days with a lot of energy and a decreased need for sleep. Then this would be followed by low energy and too much sleep. Mood wise, I would be up then totally down.

But now I know that these are the effects of my hormones. These almost drove me to suicide a few months ago. I had no idea they could be that powerful.

Come to think about it, it is not that strange. Hormones change us from children to adults. Without them we would not be able to reproduce, the human race as we know it would simply end. We wouldn’t even know if we are hungry or cold…

I decided to read a bit more on the subject to see if my theory is right. I remember clearly that before my illness I had suffered from severe bleeding for a few months – on and off; more on really. After a hormonal treatment, bleeding ceased and depression came in full blown.

After a basic search, that is what I found out. Hormones happen to be essential for transmitting chemical messages throughout the body. They circulate in our blood, going from one place to another. Like neurotransmitters – those chemical particles responsible for sending messages to and from our brain – hormones work closely with the hypothalamus a gland that is extremely important to our survival.

This little guy is a very powerful component of our brain. It works on so many functions but mostly its main job is to help the body achieve homeostasis- a balance where things are healthy and coordinated.

Guess what! The hypothalamus is big time related to Bodily Rhythms, and those are super responsible for setting off a bipolar episode. Our sleep cycle for one affects our mood and can be a major source of stress. Also what I learned is that the hypothalamus (with the help of hormones and neurotransmitters as well as the immune system) creates what is called Seasonal Rhythms; our reaction to the amount of daylight in each season. Many complain of having worsened depression symptoms as fall approaches; and many feel better for no logical reason as day becomes longer in spring and summer.

Both Social and Bodily Rhythms create for each individual what is called Social Rhythms. These are our routines that we build starting first thing in the morning, till we fall asleep at night. It also includes our interaction with people. How well we function socially that is.

So bipolarity is super complex. What sets off one episode varies greatly from one person to another. Biology plays a major part in all this and it is good to know that. If I could only talk to my hypothalamus; I would say Your Highness; would you be so kind to give me a break?

If only I could see my hypothalamus and all the little complex connections it receives and sends all day long, maybe I could find the faulty one and fix it.

I feel like my hypothalamus is a bomb and I need a squad to deactivate it. Pull the wrong fuse and Bam! Yes I heard this noise a time too many.

Perhaps I am not responsible for the dysfunction in my brain. I am responsible for how I choose to react to that dysfunction.

I called my psychiatrist today to make an appointment.

I will end my post with my favorite prayer; the serenity prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Bless

TBC

Talking out loud about your mental illness

A few weeks ago my daughter overheard a conversation about my blog. She wanted to know what a blog was, so I walked her through that. Then she wanted to know about my own blog.

“What do you write about Mama?”

It then hit me. My blog is public.

One day she might read it. I am not sure I am ready for this now. So, future me will deal with that.

With children, the rule of thumb is to answer “difficult” questions with as little information as possible. One question at a time. No need to draw a detailed account I thought, just the basics to answer to her curiosity.

So I told her my blog is about my experience. I started writing I said when I fell sick last year. I write about health, my health.

So she asked me again, like what? Then I said I write about mental health. I didn’t think she will understand. But she did. I was swept off my feet with what she said later. A lot of explaining has been done to her by my husband I thought. What a good job he had done.

She told me, oh so you write about how you feel so others who have the same problem know? I said yes, she kept on talking. So when you share your story they can know what worked and what did not? Yes love I said. That is great Mama, this is much better than just writing I take this medication and that medication. When you write how you feel it will be more useful for others.

I felt I was talking to a friend not my 9 year old daughter. She got it without lots of words. She sensed it. Those youtube DIY videos she loves to watch must have taught her something after all!

Yesterday, as I was checking my email, I found a message from someone who prefers to stay anonymous. He told me that he suffered from anxiety, panic attacks and depression in the past and that he read the blog. He raised a few important points on his experience that are common to mine.

He told me I am brave to talk about such a personal problem in the open. He said that for him and for many, it is not that easy to open up. I reflected on that and remembered the talk with my daughter. As I wrote back to him, it struck me that this is not courage at all. It is survival.

I didn’t do this blog for anything other than a deep need to be heard. I wanted to know if there was someone somewhere going through the same and feeling despair.

It happens that yes, I am not alone. You are not alone. We are all together in this. It does not matter what country you are from, what age you are, whether you are single or not, atheist or not, poor or not.

I discovered that I am read in so many different places like Greece, Austria, India, Australia, Egypt, Spain, France and many more.

This means that we all have our moments of doubts, we all go through tough moments, or witness loved ones goin through them.

When life is unbearable as my friend said in his message, the last thing you want is someone who doesn’t know what it is to feel despair to tell you what to do. Come on, it cannot be that bad they would say. You have a lot of good things in your life despite (…). Think about people who lost everything. You are much better than that. Pull yourself up. Go for a walk, watch a movie or come out with us this weekend.

Not very helpful unfortunately. The mind of the depressed doesn’t work that way. Words of actions are the last thing we want to hear. We know it looks like everything is ok with our lives, that maybe our feelings are not justified. Yes that is part of why we feel so low. Sometimes we don’t even have a good reason whatsoever to feel depressed. It does not help. Depression defies logic. It is not maths. I wish…

So back to my first story.

No, I am not worried that one day my children will read this blog. Actually, when they are old enough and god knows when this will be, I will be happy to share with them what I went through. Ideally they will know that yes we can dive as low as it gets. We could recover, or find a balance, or worst of all we might linger on in despair. It is normal.

They might then look at others differently. They would perhaps judge less. They might offer the right soothing words to someone one day. They will understand that we are made of flesh and blood and that it is not shameful to be sick.

Don’t worry; you are not alone.

Bless

TBC

Recharging

I was reluctant to fly back home. I was worried about meeting family and friends.

I didn’t want to have to deal with pity. I didn’t want to answer questions. I didn’t want to remember who I was before I got sick, or know who I am now.

It was not easy in the beginning. I broke down because I was so ashamed of what had become. It was a feeling beyond me. I felt my failure and forgot all the progress I had made.

I was so tempted to end it all. I held on to the thought of how I would disappoint my loved ones if I do.

I shrank into a ball in bed, fighting my demons. My family and friends would come in one at a time to try and talk to me. I didn’t have words to say. I wanted to shut off the world. I hid behind my blankets to avoid seeing them- seeing me like this.

I asked for medication, I couldn’t do without. I got some tranquilizers, a benzodiazepine. I popped a few – nothing dangerous. I had to numb the pain. I wanted to get out on the other side – the good side.

I asked for an antidepressant. I am away from my doctor and didn’t want to call her. No energy to explain anything to anyone. I decided to take Prozac 20 mg as a preventive dose for further attacks. Just the thought of another one was enough to kill me.

As these things take time, not surprisingly I got another attack a week or so after. A few days before, I had started to feel the ups of hypomania; rapid thoughts, loss of sleep, increased self confidence. It was mild and honestly I enjoyed it. What a nice break from depression… but I worried about the crash after. The higher you go, the lower you will get.

One day shortly after I felt paralyzed when sitting on a small cliff by the beach a few meters away from my family.

I was trying to relax. It hit me as I was looking at the waves and the horizon. I was in harmony with the scenery and little by little I had to lie down. I could not sit anymore. So I did, and thought I should relax some more. A horrible fear of falling hit me. I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t move a muscle, I couldn’t talk. I waited for it to pass, I do not know for how long.

My daughter saw me as she was swimming and I managed to wave to her. I asked her when she came up to tell my husband to come to me. He shielded me as I crawled away from the cliff when everything was swirling around me. I don’t know why this happened. I just hope it will be my last attack.

I will check in with my doctor once I am back about the drugs am taking.

Yet, despite all this, I am proud of this trip. I am proud I was able to break this wall of fear and to accept love and empathy.

I am proud of being loved and cared for. I am proud of receiving all these hugs and all this care. I still feel vulnerable and worry of breaking- of course there is no magic cure. But somehow I know the worst is over.

There are residues for sure. Yet for those who might have similar stories, reach out, find those who care for you. You might not want to, you might fear what they will say, you might worry about how they will see you… Don’t.

As much as mental illness is mysterious, as much as love is.

Love has a healing power, especially when it is unconditional. Don’t worry about facing the world. I was swept off my feet with care – literally. I had forgotten the power of living “in” a society versus the isolation I face when in Paris.

As much as I didn’t want to go on holidays because when depressed you couldn’t care less, as much as I knew I had to. I wanted to do that for my husband and for my children. They got so worn out that past year with so much pressure- mostly from me.

I put one foot in front of the other and did it. I was challenged to sit by the beach! Imagine that… I was challenged to see my children have ice cream! It was difficult to let go and enjoy islands and beaches and hotels and swimming pools… yes believe me when down no one cares about all that.

Yet magically the change of scenery worked. One at a time like a flower opening its petals, the family started to relax. It was probably contagious. I started to enjoy things instead of being lethargic. It took time, but it happened.

I cannot stress enough the importance of holidays. Needless to say it can be as simple as going to the park and enjoying the view, no need to travel miles to do that. I will personally try and keep this concept of having a break in our family routine. I urge you to do the same.

I will check in more frequently, and I will try to talk about this journey of mine, which I hope will end in recovery.

TBC

Bless