This page is for serving or past 999 service personnel to share their own stories about their struggle with Depressive Illness.
If you would like to share your story, anonymously if required, please contact me using the CONTACT SIREN page of this site.
These blogs were published by myself on my personal blog site last year and outlines my struggle with depression both as a sufferer and living with somebody who suffered depressive illness. I am posting again because of the positive feedback they received and the number of people who stated they were helped by my story. There is another chapter coming very soon which will outline where I am now more than one year on.
DEPRESSION IS NOT A WEAKNESS
For around 9 years now I have lived with depression.
My partner was diagnosed with manic depression in 2004-2005 following a short period of her life that would test any living human to the limit. After discovering her mother had Cancer and only weeks left to live we then discovered we were expecting our first child. Before our daughter was born her mum passed away. Our eldest daughter was born a few months later and just 2 months after that my partner “lost” her father after he literally packed up and left without a trace to shack up with a Turkish woman he had found online. No notice, no goodbye. We simply went to visit him one day after not seeing him for 4 days and found his house empty! I reported him missing to the Police who located him living in West Yorkshire and he said he wanted no contact from his family as he was “starting again” with his new love. Call it a midlife crisis, call it what you want, it absolutely destroyed my Mrs who was already showing signs of depression since losing her mum and giving birth.
I had just joined the Police at this time and was working a lot of overtime as most Probationers do. At home things were….Ok. We argued a lot but it was mostly over something tiny and trivial which 99% of the time would turn into a full blown argument due to Katie’s increasingly concerning mindset.
Life grew tough. I was walking on egg shells. I felt I couldn’t have a social life or do ANYTHING I wanted to do because it would upset and anger her. She would say some awful hurtful things to me. She would end our relationship almost once a month sometimes simply because I would/could not take a day off work. I could see that the lass I loved more than anything who had given me the most beautiful daughter, was falling further and further into this black hole of depression. She had no family of her own and would not accept it when I told her that our daughter and myself were her family and BEGGED her to open up and talk to me. My own mother tried to help as she is an ex nurse and she too has depression. My sister tried as she had her own issues too but it always ended with them both falling out.
I knew she had depression. All the signs were there. I wasn’t ignorant of the illness like most people are and I was able to recognise it in her. But how do you tell somebody you love, who has such an unstable temperament, that they need help? It was awful and a huge amount of stress on me. I often cried with frustration and literally begged her to speak to me but whenever I got stressed it angered her more. However, I loved her and vowed never to give up on her and I was NOT going to fail her or my daughter.
Eventually, on one of her good days I sat her down and I basically told her she would not like what I was about to say but she was suffering with depression and that for the sake of herself, our daughter and for our relationship she needs to speak to somebody. I had watched it develop from day one and I asked her if she would please speak to a Doctor if she would not or could not speak to myself and my (our) family…. SHE WENT BESERK!
I was kicked out. The relationship was over within the next few days. I ended up renting a flat very close by so I could still see my daughter and spent more time at our family home (on the sofa) than my own flat. The break seemed to do us well but she would still have very frequent dark days. I felt heartbroken and desperate as I watched her drift further and further into depression. I felt useless and hopeless. I felt I was failing my daughter because at this rate I could see my Mrs being unable to cope with raising a child. I knew she loved our daughter and at no point was she ever at risk but the sleeplessness, the long hours, the crying, teething, sore bottoms… everything that comes with raising a child, I believed would become too much for her. I cried a lot. I worried a lot. I relied heavily on good friends and family to help me help her.
After around 6months of living apart we decided we should start a fresh and move back in together. It was her idea and she told me she missed me and did not want a broken family. She told me that our little family unit was all she had now and she did not want to jeopardise it…. I therefore made a deal with her.
I told her that we would start again, move into a new home and build our family life on ONE condition…she goes to the Doctors. I told her that if I was wrong and the Doc says she does not have depression (she still denied there was anything wrong with her) then I would take her out on payday and buy her a whole new wardrobe. That sealed it. The deal was made and she booked the appointment.
When the day finally arrived she marched off to the docs confidently telling me to get ready to go shopping. 45mins later she arrived home. I could see she had been crying. She looked sheepish. She came straight in and hugged me. I could feel a difference already. For such a long time I had felt no love, no affection, just emptiness from her. It actually hurt to cuddle her cause I could see she had no interest. Right at that moment however I could feel real love. She squeezed me and we both cried with relief. I could finally see light at the end of the tunnel.
She told me that it took the Doctor less than 5 mins to tell she was suffering with depression. Apparently the Doctor could see it as soon as she entered the room. She still went through the NHS questionnaire and answered the doctor’s questions but she said after 45mins of talking she already felt better. She had been diagnosed with Manic Depression and given a repeat prescription of Citalopram. She had also been put in touch with a local free, charity funded bereavement counselling service. She apologised so so much I had to tell her to be quiet! I didn’t want apologies I just wanted my Katie back. (I would like to add here that I STILL took her clothes shopping even though I was right lol).
A few weeks later we moved into our new home to start a new life, just the three of us. Shortly afterwards things were already much much better thanks to the tablets. However, there was still something missing. She would still have her dark days. We had forgotten in all the madness of moving house to pop along to the counselling centre. She give them a ring and the very next day a lovely lady called Tracy came to visit. I took our daughter out for a walk to the park whilst they spoke and 2hrs later the Mrs called to say I could come home as Tracy had left. She already sounded brighter.
Upon my return I had a brew waiting and we sat on the sofa and she told me that despite all her initial fears of “what if she thinks im mad” and “what if she thinks I am just being silly” etc she actually felt 100 times better. Talking to somebody completely detached from the whole situation who did not know her and who wouldn’t have any prejudice was exactly what the Doctor ordered. She was to keep a diary and write down her feeling daily and then once a week we were both to sit down together and read it and talk about what she had written. Within 2 months and 6 hours of counselling she was the smiley bubbly lass I had fallen in love with once again. I wanted to pick Tracy up and kiss her! Despite our initial worries when the session stopped everything has remained fine and still does to this day.
Now almost 9 years later, despite the odd slip back into depression when she runs out of tablets, things are great. We have two beautiful girls and we get on well. Things aint perfect but then what relationship is? I am SO proud of her for coming so far and she has come out of this black hole with such a positive and enthusiastic attitude. She thanks me all the time for being her “rock” through all these years and for “putting up” with her. I tell her the same thing every time… I love you and would do it all again if I had to.
However, seeing this depression develop and grow from the start has given me a unique insight and an ability to recognise the signs in others. This includes, most recently, myself.
For numerous reasons ranging from financial stresses, work issues, the loss of both my grans just weeks apart and also due to being victim (my family and I) of harassment and intimidation from an online troll who threatened to come to our home after posting it on the internet amongst other things, I have begun to see in myself the same initial signs of depression I saw in Katie.
I am suffering fatigue and lack of sleep. I have become tetchy and snappy. I have suffered with chronic digestive issues, headaches and tension. I am irritable and argumentative. I find it hard at times to concentrate. I am more emotional and often feel the need to cry with frustration. I want to go out or go to work less & less each day and want to just spend time with my Mrs and kids at home, away from anybody else. This isn’t EVERY day but it is becoming more and more common. I am never aggressive or hostile and I don’t take mood swings out on others but I am just a big grumpy grouch and fed up.
I have recognised these signs in myself. I have had the odd comment from Katie telling me “Ya need to stop getting so irate” or “Your so bloody tetchy lately”…. She is treading on the same egg shells I was all those years ago and probably wondering how she tells me to seek help like I was with her.
Because I can see the signs myself I have developed my own way of managing the problem. I don’t like the idea of taking drugs to alter my state of mind although I know just how good they can work. I have my own way. A long shower with some relaxing music and a touch of meditation or relaxation. But I know that wont always be enough and I know that won’t always be possible.
I can’t talk to Katie cause it could cause her to become more depressed again worrying about me. My parents have their own issues but they will always listen if I need them I just don’t feel able to talk to them about THIS particular problem. I also have some very good friends and have met a couple of VERY lovely people on Twitter. They know who they are and I thank them soooooo much. However, I need to follow my own advice which I give to my Mrs all those years ago.
So today I made a decision. I am calling the Doctors and I am going to speak to them NOW before it gets to the levels I witnessed Katie reach.
Depression is NOTHING to be afraid of. It is NOTHING to be ashamed of. It is NOTHING to hide from the world and if managed properly and quickly depression is NOTHING that can’t be cured. It is an illness, not a weakness. It is not contagious and people have no reason to be fearful or embarrassed.
Depression is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of trying too hard to be strong for too long.
We are all human and we are not invincible. There comes a time when we have to accept that we need help from our friends and family to get through some tough times in life. There is no shame at all in that.
So… To try and break down some barriers and to show that depression is nothing to be embarrassed about I am taking you all on a little journey and will keep you updated along the way. I will book my appointment and when I have been to see the Doc I will write again about the process, what happened, how I felt, what I thought and what the diagnosis is. It will no doubt be very cathartic for me and maybe, just maybe, it might help somebody else…? Who knows.
DEPRESSION – STEP ONE
Those of you who read my recent blog on living with depression will know that recently I have come to notice a change in myself, in my mindset and that I decided that after 9 years of increasing pressure and stresses from work life, health issues, home life etc I finally made up my mind to go to the doctors. When I published that blog on August 20th the feedback and support was overwhelming and actually did a lot to lift the spirits and give me the motivation and confidence to see even more so that Depression is NOT something to be scared of, ashamed of, laughed at or ridiculed. It can happen to anybody, anytime and the reasons are still unclear.
The day after publishing that blog I woke up early the next morning psyched up and ready to book that Doctors appointment. I dialled the ridiculously expensive premium rate line for my local GP at 8:30 on the dot (appointments line does not open till 0830hrs) and I waited on hold, racking up a phone bill, for 12 minutes. When the lovely lady on reception answered I was told there were no appointments for that day and that I can not book for the following day in advance. I would have to call back tomorrow. I was shot down and deflated. It had taken me some considerable effort and mental strength to make that call and now I was back to square one.
I hung up the phone pissed off and upset and went down stairs to my Mrs and kids and had breakfast. Already my stress levels were up. I was angry at the premium rate phone line, I was upset there were no appointments and I was gutted that all my Golden Grahams were gone so I had to have bloody Special K! As I sat munching on my milk infused cardboard flakes and drinking my coffee whilst teaching my youngest “Hickory Dickory Dock” I had a brain wave.
I told the Mrs and Kids to get ready and we would go to the coast for the afternoon. We had some bits to do in the morning but we would aim to get to Whitby for lunch time. We got sorted and off we set. I have always found that when stressed 3 things help me to calm right down.
Family time. Just seeing my kids and my Mrs smiling and having fun is enough to make me cheer up for a while. The coast. Whitby, Filey, Sands End, Saltburn. I love those places Nature and the wilderness. Walking in the hills or forests and just being close to nature is a very therapeutic thing to do.
I drove the 90minute journey to Whitby and was already feeling happier upon arrival. However it was soon clear that my brain wave had actually been a brain fart! What sort of idiot travels to one of the most popular coastal towns in the North during school holidays at mid-bloody day!? I drove around for a whole hour searching for a parking space all the while becoming increasingly irritable and irate. I was becoming angry every time I would JUST miss a parking spot or when I would spot an empty space, race to it and find it was a disabled space! I could feel frustration building up in my chest like a big ball of fire filled with obscene and unpleasant words which I wanted to scream at the next bastard who stole MY parking space! I knew I was angry. I knew I was stressed. I knew I was about to blow and ruin our family day out and so I took a few deep breaths and began driving back out of Whitby.
It wasn’t till about 10miles down the road that I was snapped back to reality by my kids asking, apparently for hundredth time and with tears in their eyes, “DADDY WHERE ARE WE GOING? YOU SAID WE WERE GOING TO THE SEASIDE”. They were upset and thought I was going home. It broke my heart. I realised that whilst I was taking a few deep breaths and deciding to head to another little coastal town, I had failed to tell anybody else my plan! I promised the kids I would take them to the seaside and I don’t break promises to my girls.
We drove to Saltburn and had a fantastic day together playing on the beach, building sand castles, eating fish & chips and ice cream and doing what we all love best… Spending good quality time together. We had nothing to rush home for and so we stayed out till the tide came in and drove home at tea time, arriving back at sunset. It was perfect. A lovely day and I was no longer feeling stressed or depressed.
That was 2 weeks ago and I am ashamed to say I did not bother trying the doctors again. I put it on my “to-do” list and never got around to doing it. In that time things have gotten worse. The Mrs and I had a fall out because of money issues and because we are preparing to move house and she is preparing for a BIG career change. Stresses and pressures at work have mounted. I was not surprised at all to learn this week that GMP sickness levels have risen 25% and that the number of Police Officers with depression and stress related illness is rapidly rising. It MUST be very similar for my force. Cops are fed up, under extreme pressure from Government cuts, ACPO and SMT demands, shift changes, financial difficulties and home/work life balance. A few days ago at work I snapped at 2 colleagues over something that would NEVER in a million years have made me react. It was at this point I knew I MUST do something quick.
During that same day I had been feeling ill. My stomach was cramping, my head was banging and I felt dizzy. That night I got home and had no appetite and was still feeling sick. I was retching and I thought I may have had the virus that seems to be circulating but I was nowhere near as bad or as sick as those I had seen with it, including my Mrs. I felt crap however and was up and down all night and so I called in sick the next day.
I had been thinking about the way I was feeling, the way I had been acting and also the fact that in the last 6-12 months I have had numerous issues with my stomach and digestive problems, neck pain, headaches, sleeplessness… I had had MRI scans on my head and neck which showed that due to tension in my neck muscles they had spasmed and my spine was clamped ram rod straight at the top rather than curved. I needed to reduce the tension so this to be fixed and it could take weeks, months or even years the specialist said. I had had tests for Crohn’s due to digestive problems and numerous recurring mouth ulcers but all had come back clear. I wasn’t sleeping right. I wasn’t eating right. I lacked motivation for things I usually loved to do like photography and writing. I checked the ever faithful GOOGLE and established that all these problems could well be all down to depression and stress rather than individual little health problems.
Yesterday (Thursday) I woke up and called the doctors again and once again I was told there were no appointments left!! I was just about to begin ranting at my better half about how rubbish our Doctors were when she cut me off and said “You’re at the docs at 10:20. I got the last appointment”. She had seen a change in me again and said she could see I was worried and so it was time I did something about it. Whilst I had been waiting to book my appointment the little minx had beaten me to it and already booked one for me.
As the appointment drew closer I felt something I had not felt in years, probably not since I had my interview to become a detective 5 years ago… Butterflies. I was nervous and a little anxious. I was worried about how to say to my Doctor “I think I have depression”. I asked my Mrs what happens, what they ask and what they do, as she took this step about 8 years ago. She offered to come with me for support but I wanted to go alone and so off I went.
Walking to the Doctors and sitting in the waiting room I was still running through in my mind how best to say it to my Doctor. I took my mind off it by checking Twitter and texting my good buddy @PC_Lonewolf. His sick sense of humour made me laugh out loud in the waiting room and helped calm the nerves until I heard the Doc shout my name. He was a new addition to the surgery and shook my hand as I entered. He was only young and seemed a really nice guy. As I sat down he asked “So David what can I do to help?”.
Now I am, despite my tough exterior, un-phased appearance and steely stare, a big softy at heart. I aint ashamed to show emotion when the need takes me but I also tend to put a brave face on quite often. That is why I am in this position, because I have tried too hard for too long. One thing that often gets to my emotions is when I am stressed and a nice person asks genuinely with compassion “Are you ok?” or even worse “How are you feeling?”. It is guaranteed to get a big bloody lump to form instantly in my throat and force me to take huge deep breaths before I speak to prevent me breaking down like a big wuss.
It happened last when I first saw a long term mate of mine a few weeks after my Gran passed away. I had grieved. I had shed all the tears there was to shed. I had gotten to the point where I could talk about it without getting upset. However, when my old buddy asked how I was feeling with genuine kindness and interest then all those emotions came flooding back. That is ALMOST what happened in the Doctors office as a wave of relief swept over me having finally taken this step.
I opted for the opening line;
“Well for a long time now I think I have suffered with depression and despite all the self help and stress management techniques I have tried it does not seem to be getting better so I have finally decided to come and get some help”.
He asked me what the issue was and after asking him “how long have you got” and being told “as long as you need” I began listing my worries, concerns, stresses and things which had happened over the last 9 years leading to this point. I told him what I had tried as “self help”. I told him I was fully clued up on depression as my Mrs and my Mother suffer with it and I had read every bit of literature I could find on the internet. I told him I knew all about the antidepressant Citalopram. I had done my research and all the things that used to help (walking etc) are now losing their affect and so I need his help. All the while I had to break mid sentence and swallow down the lump in my throat. Just talking about it was a huge emotional and mental relief. I could literally feel the tension leaving me in huge waves.
When I had finished the Doctor outlined the options available to me. I am going to put it here as it may help somebody else in my position.
1. Talking about it. He said he could listen or he could put me in touch with somebody else who I could talk to. I am a big believer in this form of therapy as you will know if you read my previous blog on depression.
2. Self help and stress management techniques. I told him that I had researched and tried just about everything going over the last 9 years and it was because they are not working that I am now sitting in his office. However he give me the website http://www.patient.co.uk to try and said to type in DEPRESSION. There I would find a Self Help guide and one in particular which he recommended was from Northumbria. I have yet to read this.
3. Medication. He explained what I already knew about the most common anti D called Citalopram. It is what my Mrs and my Mother both use.
He explained that whilst they don’t BOOST your mood, they get your chemical and hormonal levels back on an even keel but they can take around 2 weeks to work during which you may feel worse but it’s important to keep taking them. He told me to research them more by searching for them and SSR1 on the above mentioned website.
He suggested that I perhaps ask about a change in role at work, which I refused as I love my current role, despite all the stress, and have done desk jobs in the past and would rather quit than do that again. He suggested asking to change my shift pattern but again I explained it wasn’t the shifts that were an issue and allowing me to change in this current climate was probably out of the question and so he said to perhaps seek Occ Health advice regarding work. We even spoke of a career change which to be honest I, like many other cops, have been considering for quite some time now. He then advised that I self certify for a week off work and booked me an appointment for next Wednesday. He handed me a questionnaire to complete and bring back on wednesday and he sent me on my way to do my research and think about my options.
I left the surgery with a swirling head, confusion and feeling a little deflated. After all this time thinking about what to do and whether to seek help I had finally taken the first big step and simply been sent on my way to think about what I want! The questionnaire asks 16 questions about how often, in the last 2 weeks, you have felt certain things from feeling tired, hopeless, uninterested and depressed right to the extreme of self harm and suicide. I have completed it ready to take back next week.
I have researched the medication and whilst the side effects are rare, they sound bloody awful and to make matters worse they suggest NO ALCOHOL whilst using them!! When you live in a pub that is NOT an easy task. I have however seen the greatness these tablets can achieve and so I am undecided on these at the moment.
Now, 24hrs later and having written this blog I feel a lot more positive for having taken the first step. I had really nice conversation with my Sgt who was genuinely understanding and supportive. I have had lots of texts, tweets and DM’s from lots of my lovely Twitter friends and my plan was to go walking today but the weather has put a dampener on that and so I am off for a pint with a mate later this evening instead.
Thank you for reading. Thanks for all who have been in touch and been supportive and I hope that if anybody reading this is stuck in limbo deciding whether or not to go see the Doctor that you find the courage to do so.
Remember: DEPRESSION IS NOT A WEAKNESS. IT IS A SIGN OF TRYING TOO HARD FOR TO LONG.
DEPRESSION – STEP 2 DAY 1
Firstly I would just like to say a MASSIVE thank you to everybody who after reading my last blog took the time to send me a DM on twitter or comment on my blog. Your kindness and support is very much appreciated and helps a lot.
Today was the day of my Doctors appointment. If you read my last blog you will know I was told to go away and research some self help techniques, stress relief techniques and antidepressants. It left me feeling deflated after taking the big step of going to the Doctor for help after months and months of thinking about it and years of trying different self help techniques to be told to go away and research some more. However, I did as I was told, read stuff I had already read through and did some digging on the drug CITALOPRAM.
Now for those in the same position as me and perhaps reading this blog trying to decide to go to the Doctors yourself I would advise that you DO research Citalopram via the website http://www.patients.co.uk BUT that you also speak to other people who actually take it.
Upon first reading the details and especially the side effects of the drug it is very easy to be scared away. It lists side effects from drowsiness and nausea to loss of libido, anxiety, shakes, heartburn AND facial swelling!! Those who know me in person will know that the last thing I need is any swelling in the head area. It’s massive already! Other issues are that it can take 2-4 weeks before they work properly and in that time, as the hormones begin to rebalance, you may feel worse. BUT please be aware this is only temporary and in the vast majority of cases there are little or no side effects and those that are experienced do stop very soon so long as you continue with the course of treatment.
To read these side effects it is very easy to think “Bollocks to that! I will just give it a miss and carry on trying”. That is why I can not stress enough the importance of speaking to users of the drug. I KNOW Citalopram is excellent. My Mrs has used it for years and it saved out relationship and her mental health. It works a treat. However, I still spoke to others who use and have used the drug in the past and I am glad I did. Out of 9 people I spoke too only 3 experienced any side effects. Some were worse than others but none, thankfully, had facial swelling!
Seeing how they work first hand and hearing from others helped me make up my mind. Especially after the week I have had. I have had a 14hr power cut, a trip to A&E with my eldest and 3 dogs with kennel cough! I am happy to say I managed to keep my cool throughout but was feeling very stressed this morning.
This morning I got up feeling a little groggy and grumpy but that soon changed when my girls came into my room to give me a morning hug … I forgot about my appointment until my reminder went off on my phone “DOCS 9:30 DON’T BOTTLE OUT!” and whereas last week I felt nervous, this week I felt confident. I forgot to mention in my last blog that I was a little anxious that my Mrs had booked me an appointment with the new MALE Doctor. I guess it’s that stupid “manly” thing about opening up to another bloke. I would have much rather had a female Doctor for some reason but hey ho, such is life. My anxiousness was quickly extinguished when I met the new Doctor because he was a very nice fella, understanding and caring so I could quickly forget all that manly macho rubbish and open up. I had booked my 2nd appointment with the same Doctor and I was not going to bottle out.
I took the girls to school, had the tearful goodbye with the youngest (she cried not me) and the Mrs and I went for a brew. She came to the Docs with me this time and waited in the waiting room as I went in. She was invited in by the Doctor but I had asked her to wait outside. I had taken in the with me the questionnaire I was given last week fully completed and he types my score into the computer before asking me how I was feeling. It was much better this time. No lump in my throat, no worry or stress. I guess the ice was broken last week and so I just openly spoke to him about the last week, what I had done in the way of research and I told him I had decided I want to try medication. He agreed it was a good idea and wrote me out a prescription for 20mg of Citalopram (1 month supply) and a two week sick note for work. I was booked another appointment for 2 weeks time to check how I am feeling, see if the tablets are working and to review my sick note. I was also told that should I experience any adverse or serious side effects then I was to come back sooner than 2 weeks but I was not to stop taking them as that would unbalance the work they had already done. I was told the most common effect is heartburn but Gaviscon would sort that out and that I should try and take it with food on a morning. That bit will be tricky as I rarely eat breakfast but I am sure I can start. I won’t turn down an excuse to eat!
So off I went with my prescription and feeling really proud of myself. I wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed and nor should I be. I was proud that I had finally asked for the help I needed.
Something I hadn’t even considered happened next. As we approached BOOTS to pick up my tablets I began feeling nervous. I know a lot of the staff in Boots pharmacy and I began to worry because obviously they will pack my tablets and they will know what Citalopram is for and they will then know I have depression and… and… and…… So what? IT IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF! It was short lived panic attack but it took me by surprise and so I wanted to include that in here for those reading and plucking up the courage to go to the Docs so it does not take you by surprise too. You most probably will feel anxious and scared of people finding out you suffer depression but it really nothing to be ashamed of.
I got my tablets and then because it was 0930hrs and I had yet to eat so couldn’t take my first one yet, I thought it would be a good idea for my Mrs to take me to my favourite café and have a full English With a full stomach I trudged home like a stuffed pig and then came the next big step.
I opened the box of tablets and looked at my 2 strips of blister pack tablets each one labelled with the day so you can keep track of what you have had and ensure you have not missed a tablet. I realised that I was nervous. Like I said in my first blog on this subject, I never really wanted to start taking drugs to help me through this in the beginning and whilst I popped out my Wednesday pill I was having doubts. My mind was racing with “WHAT IF”. What if they don’t work? What if they make me worse? What if I have some sort of unknown adverse reaction? What if I have the bad side effects?… I was really worried my head would swell like Frank Sidebottom!
I realised however that I was just being silly. I was just trying to make excuses and avoid doing what needed to be done. I said aloud “Man up ya big girl” and I swallowed the pill. That was it. The next step was taken. Simple as that and no dramas.
I broke the news to my buddy @PC_LONEWOLF that he would be a Lone Wolf for the next two weeks or so and felt guilty…until I got his usual abusive reply.
My Sgt had already text me to ask how I had got on at the Docs and so I told him too. It was hard to work out whether he was ok or annoyed with me being off longer with his simple response but based on how supportive he has been so far I think he will be fine.
I will keep you updated over the following 2 weeks leading up to my next appointment.
If anybody is stuck in the early stages trying to find the strength to go to the Doctors PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE just do it. There really is no shame in asking for some help. There is a lot of negative stigma associated with depression. I believe it is down to all who suffer or know somebody who suffers to break down the barriers and change public opinion. Depression is simply a medical condition requiring medical assistance to put right. We wouldn’t be embarrassed about asking the Doctor for help with a bad back. We wouldn’t be embarrassed about having diabetes. It’s not contagious. It’s not a STD. It’s not caused by something you have done wrong! It is simply a condition that can affect anybody at any time in their life for a plethora of reasons.
Don’t be afraid. Don’t bottle it. I thought at first it would make me less of a man to go to the Doctors but then I remembered that real men face up to their problems and this is one problem you can NOT face alone.
Thank you for reading again.
DEPRESSION – THE FINAL BLOG?
It has been two weeks now since I started on the anti-depressant Citalopram (10mg) and I am back at the Docs tomorrow morning. So far things are going… OK.
After only two tablets I began to experience the first of my side effects as the tablets got to work. I began feeling very tired early at night, around 8-9pm, to the point where I could not keep my eyes open. This is unusual for me as I have always been a bit nocturnal and so rather than fight it I just went with the flow and took myself off to bed. However, once in bed I could not sleep a wink. I tossed and turned for hours and despite how tired I felt, whenever I dozed off I quickly woke up. I had very little sleep but after a couple of nights I began to drift off for longer and managed to get some sleep in between my tossing & turning but whenever I slept I was having REALLLLLLY strange dreams.
One that kept occurring was one from when I was around 10 years old and would often be accompanied by night terrors. Thankfully there were no night terrors now but the dream was strange. When I was a kid I would dream I was in some sort of sick and warped house of evil with family and friends where in each room their were booby traps and as we made our way through the rooms to escape people would die!… The strange thing was though, this time in my dream I was telling people I had been here before and guided them through each room avoiding all the traps and we all managed to escape jumping from window into a rowing boat! I have not had time to analyse the dream yet but It reoccurred for several nights and freaked me out a bit.
Eventually the dreams stopped but the broken sleep is still with me but not every night. I am also finding it impossible to wake up early. Katie literally has to shake me awake and if left to sleep I can sleep till 11-12 no problem! I set an alarm for a couple of mornings to make sure I would be ok for early turn shifts but slept through them. I have ensured now that every morning I am woken by Katie or my kids at 0830hrs so I don’t waste my day and when I am woken it takes a while for me to come round and fully wake up. Occasionally I am having to take afternoon naps too because suddenly and randomly I find it hard to keep my eyes open. This is getting better but I am just being patient and rolling with it for now, after all it can take 4 weeks.
Other minor side effects I have experienced are random chattering of my teeth, yawning attacks to the point where my jaw aches, grinding my teeth in my sleep and suppressed appetite (not a bad thing really).
I have decided to stay away from Alcohol completely which I found tough at first but now I’m not too fussed. I have had a few alcohol free lagers and ciders instead and realised that I can still have as much fun without the hangovers so I am going to stick with it.
I had one dark day a few days ago with a bit of anxiety when I began thinking about my impending return to work when my sick note runs out on Thursday. I don’t feel ready, not when I am having these side effects, so this is something I need to discuss with work and my Doctor.
Despite all these side effects I actually feel so much more like my old self than I have in ages! My temper and stress is pretty non-existent. I have had such a lovely time with Katie and the girls and have had great support from family and friends whom I have been open and honest with about why I am not drinking and why I am off work.
Last night I had a nice long chat about it with a friend of mine at the local pub. He is a retired Chief Superintendent and suffered with depression during his career but on a worse level than me. It was really nice of him to open up and be honest about it with me. He said he could not come off the tablets till he retired and completely abandoned everything to do with the Police. He had to wash his hands of it as part of his recovery. It certainly got the brain ticking.
One of my best mates also popped in and we had a chat. He is the one I helped recently when he was having suicidal thoughts (if you follow me on twitter). He is now also getting help and on Citalopram and it was quite touching to hear him tell me it was speaking to me that made him go to the doctors. He too had been experiencing the yawning and teeth chattering side effects but he seemed great, back to his normal usual self.
So there we go, 2 weeks on and they’re working well but my body is still adapting. The next big step is going back to work but I think I may need a little longer to let the sleepiness etc ware off. Will wait and see what the Doc says.
Again I have been humbled and touched by all the support I have received by my lovely Twitter friends and readers of my blog. I have also been honoured that so many people have been in touch to tell me that thanks to my blog they have been to the doctors and taken that first step and also those who have chosen to open up to me and let me try and help them. That really means a lot.
Unless there are any major changes or developments to write about then I think this will be my last blog on the subject of my depression. I thank all who have followed my journey.
Remember: DEPRESSION IS NOT A WEAKNESS. IT IS SIMPLY A SIGN THAT YOU HAVE TRIED TOO HARD TO BE STRONG FOR TOO LONG.
UPDATE: Sept 26th – Since posting this “final” blog I have seen the Doctor again and have been assured that the side effects WILL subside and the sleepiness is usually last to stop. We completed another questionnaire about how I feel and how the tablets are going. He has allowed me 2 more weeks off of work due to the side effects and then said I have to return and if needed then we can look at a phased return or an ease back into it depending on how I feel after the next 2 weeks…I think I will be fine.
If there are any future issues or anything I think needs to be shared I will be sure to blog about it.
DEPRESSION ONE YEAR ON – CONTROLLING THE BLACK DOG
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