For those of you who are new to my blogs, I have been going through a number of health issues for about the last 18 months. Some have been due to old ailments getting worse, like the issues related to crushing a vertebra in 2005, some have been the result of treatment for other ailments, like the obesity and high blood pressure due to medication I used to be on for Manic Depression, and some are things that have cropped up for other reasons, like sleep aponea, and what appears to be fibromyalgia according to my doctor. Plus, I have been getting worse and worse arthritis in my hands and neck. Most of these, as you can see, are pain related, so yes, I have chronic pain, which just feeds a vicious cycle of exacerbating some of the other issues. I hate taking medication, but, I have to.
For quite a while, until very recently, I have actually coped without medication for my Manic Depression, using alternative techniques to deal with it and get through, I like creative projects, so when I am manic, I am quite often pouring that into painting. When I’m in the halfway mood, I tend to get into photography more and less of the painting, and when I am feeling low, I tend to do a lot of gardening, restoration of things like furniture or machinery, photography, pretty much anything that gets me outside and in the fresh air and exposed to nature. It worked really well, pretty much anything that could take my mind away to another place, focusing my thoughts, helped me get through.
That started to change about 8 or 9 months ago. I had previously had a couple of moments where a few little signs of PTSD started to creep in, but it was random and spaced apart a fair bit, so although it may have had a bit of a negative impact for a day or two, generally speaking it wasn’t too hard to deal with. That all changed earlier this year. The nightmares became more frequent, little moments of anxiety became more often. I pride myself in the fact that I have not had to be hospitalised ever for my Manic Depression. I don’t like feeling out of control with it, so I will go and get help before it gets out of control. Yes, it does impact my everyday life, but I choose to make sure it doesn’t rule it with an iron fist.
About 2 months ago, I had reached the point that I knew I needed to get help again. So I went and saw my doctor. I have far more issue with depression than the mania, when I am manic, I keep myself busy until I wear myself out, and generally it is all good. It usually lasts for a few days, and then it subsides, but as this year wore on, the depression was becoming an increasing issue. So currently, I have been taking a mood stabiliser to get the low moods out of the ditch so to speak, and they have pretty much worked, although I still feel flat, but not depressed.
One of the warning signs, apart from the obvious, that I need to seek help, is that I start to get what I describe as a whirlwind of thoughts. Nothing specific, just all of the sudden I have 100’s of ideas, creative ones, 100’s of worries, 100’s of just about anything, whizzing around in my head, all at once, and I can’t seem to make one stop to focus on. It stops me from falling asleep. It stops me from being able to stay on track with tasks. Thankfully now, that has stopped.
Another thing I realised 2 months ago was that these nightmares and the anxiety was getting out of hand. The nightmares, which have been very real memories of some of the more horrific episodes of abuse I received from my ex partner, were increasing in regularity, and sometimes I was waking 3 or 4 times a night in a panic because of them. The fear is real. And then there was my trip to Melbourne. Now, I will add at this point, I have been very aware for quite a long time that I was suffering from social anxiety, until my son started kindergarten, we had been living the lives of hermits, pretty much avoiding social interaction. When my son started kindergarten, I found myself suddenly having to have more social interaction with people, and it was actually fairly difficult to begin with. But, it was only a couple of days a week, for limited time, so I got used to it, even though I wasn’t comfortable with it. Then, at the beginning of this year, he started school. I decided I needed to confront this thing.
So, I dove into forcing myself to become involved in the school. I am on the school governing body, and recently branched that out to being involved with the Parents and Friends group too. It is still hard, I have a great deal of difficulty doing it, but I need to do this to try and break this. Once I get to know people, and they get to know me, I relax, and I don’t have so much of an issue. So that’s why Melbourne came as a shock.
Now, usually at least once a year, my son and I go to Melbourne for a week or two, doing Op shopping ( on a limited income it makes the dollar go further ), and usually do a couple of outings, like visit the zoo, museum, or art galleries, good educational stuff. Well, the first full day we were there in September this year, we went into the city from my brothers place where we were staying, and decided to have a day at the Queen Victoria Market and the Melbourne Museum. At the market, the first sign I was having trouble happened, although it was rather mild, and we went to an open area away from the crowds and had a little break with a snack and some water. I was okay. Then we went to the Museum, no problem. Then we decided to take a tram ride around the city loop on one of the old trams, I mean, a trip to Melbourne is complete without a ride on the old rattlers. I was still pretty good. When we got off, we wandered down to Melbourne Central, as it was getting later in the day, and we were going to meet my brother there to go back to his place after he finished work. As we wandered through the shopping complex, it started to happen. A panic attack. Still to this day I am shocked. I have never had it happen like this. I started to panic, could feel myself starting to hyperventilate, and at that moment I said to my son that we needed to get outside quickly. We made a b-line for the nearest exit, and went and sat out the front of the Victorian State Library. Thinking about it now, I guess part of it was claustrophobia, which I have never had an issue with before. But inside a building, lot’s of people, lot’s of mental stimulation from shops and lights and sound, I just about flipped. Once outside, sitting in the open air, I was quickly okay again. As I said, I have never experienced that before. It was a huge shock.
So I am now also seeing a psychologist as well. This PTSD thing is not good. We have been working through it, dredging up things I had wanted to forget, but I have to deal with if I want to hopefully get better. Plus, the PTSD makes the Manic Depression worse, and dealing with it harder, so it needs to be sorted out.
I am feeling better now, I have halted the dive. Not out of the woods yet, but at least I have put the brakes on.