Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Talk Tuesday | My Story #BISDTT

Hello, Hi, Bonjour, Hola, Ciao, Ola, Namaste .... 

now this is a completely new venture on my blog. 
i have been meaning to do this for such a long time, but i guess a number of things have put me off. 
it wasn't until i put in place my new schedule that i actually thought 'crap' its now on the schedule, so i need to provide the content. 

firstly, lets talk about what to expect from this entire series .... 
- the truth, raw, honest truth. it may be a trigger to some people. so you have been warned. 
- help, advice and hopefully a light at the end of a deep dark tunnel for some. 
- proof, facts and relief for many people. 

the entire idea behind #talktuesday will be to talk, about anything. absolutely anything!  
Although i want to base the series around mental health, and raising awareness i want to talk about anything that has a stigma surrounding it. 
i have so much content planned for this. 
i am so excited to kick it off. 

what made me want to create #talktuesday? 
i have suffered with mental health myself, and i know how hard it can be to locate help, advice and just someone to talk to. i wanted to create a 'safe place' that people can share their thoughts, ask and give advice and just talk. there is no worse feeling than feeling alone. so i hope that by covering the topics i plan to cover here, it will make people realise that they are not alone. 

what can you expect from #talktuesday? 
i, myself will be covering topics around mental health. i have spoken to loads of people who have suffered, suffering and recovered from mental health and i have some amazing guest posts coming up. so sit back, buckle up and enjoy. 

what is my story? 
My name is shannon and i have serve anxiety and depression. there - i said it.
until now, i honestly do not think i have ever openly said that before, let alone typed it.
i cannot pin point when it all started, but what i can remember is from a very young age, always feeling this 'weird' feeling. i think it started with separation anxiety. its just me and mum at home, and i was so used to it just being me and my mum. i remember going to a sleep over at my friends house, who lived down the same road as me and crying because i missed my mum (pathetic eh!) i remember being so jealous when people were around my mum. i hated it. nothing really come from those situations though. i went to school as any normal child would, i went to college the same. it was not until i went back to college that i noticed it again, i hated being alone. i would hate getting public transport alone, i felt like everyone was constantly looking at me - staring. i put it down to the fact i was plus sized, and i thought everyone was looking at me and laughing at how fat i looked - but looking back now, and reflecting - was it really? or was that all part of it too? its such a blurred experience for me. Again, i cannot pin point the moment when i sat there and thought "you know what, i reckon i am  depressed" what i do remember though is how i come to admit the situation and seek help ... 

i work in mental health myself. i am in the care sector and every so often, we have supervisions. i had mine with my supervisor (we will call her N for the sake of this) and we sat down, started talking, discussing work related things when all of a sudden everything i was saying turned sour. Everything i had to say were negatives. i found it really hard to find any positives. we continued talking and i guess she saw it in me. N had mentioned how I was not myself recently and that She was concerned and N suggested that i may be a little down in the dumps, i completely ignored what she said and the supervision continued. Throughout the supervision with N I shed some tears, here and there but once i started, i could not stop. i was sobbing now, uncontrollably. We started talking about why I had been having so many sick days (I think at this moment in time I had been 'sick' well over 30 times already that year) and I could not explain it. I tried, but I couldn't. It wasn't because I was ashamed to say the reasoning, or I was embarrassed. I did not even have the words to say, I simply could not explain. It was the strangest feeling  ....  

Now, we must have been speaking for a good hour  or so, and N very openly and honestly come out with the following sentence
"Shannon, have you ever considered that you might be feeling depressed?" 
I laughed - almost immediately.   wiped away the tears, sniffed as hard and possible and laughed. 
Almost instantly I had all these visions going around in my head, All these comments that I thought people would make. The only way I could explain this moment was if you imagined you were picked up, right now wherever you are right this second, and thrown into the biggest, busiest crowd of loud, stomping people. All going crazy, shouting and screaming. They were all ten feet tall and there was you, little old you lost in the crowd. i felt lost - or did i? 

We continued talking, and she suggested i made a doctors appointment.  I remember leaving that supervision feeling drained. emotionally, mentally, physically drained. I went home and spent the evening with my best friend and mum and I recall talking about the situation and even my Mum said she understood. She could see what N was saying. Mum said my attitude had changed. I was lazy. I was horrible. Snappy. Aggressive. Unmotivated. All which was true, but until now I never saw this. My best friend stayed that night to ensure I made a doctors appointment the next morning. which I did. 
So the next morning I nervously called the doctors and made an appointment - for the same day. Myself and my best friend went along and I remember sitting in the waiting room shaking my leg violently with nerves as I waited to see the doctor. 

I remember almost turning back when I got to the door, but I didn't and I am glad. 

The diagnoses. 

personally I think the entire process to being diagnosed with depression is pathetic - there's a questionnaire you are asked to fill out. Your answers are scored between 'Not at all' - 'Nearly Every Day' and the questions consisted of things such as 

"Have you found little pleasure or interest in doing things?
Have you found yourself feeling down, depressed or hopeless? 
Have you had trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much?
Have you been feeling tired or had little energy?
Have you had a poor appetite or been overeating?
Have you felt that you're a failure or let yourself or your family down?
Have you had some trouble concentrating on things like reading the paper or watching TV?
Have you been moving or speaking slowly, or been very fidgety, so that other people could notice?
Have you thought that you'd be better off dead or hurting yourself in some way?

- I think it was now that I realised, even before the doctor assessed my answers and spoke. 
I realised I was depressed.  i was certain they were about to lock me up and throw away the key. There is no way you can answer the worst to the majority of those and be okay. never, nope !!! 

The doctor then assessed my answered, and diagnosed me the anxiety and depression. I could say i was shocked but I wasn't.
We spoke about different options available to me, and I chose Medication and Therapy. 

I started on a 20mg dose of Citalapram, once a day and got the ball rolling for therapy.
I was signed off of work for 2 weeks, and started my medication that evening. 

Telling people. 
Firstly, I told my best friend (she was there with me) I then rang my mum. She was brilliant and so understanding throughout the entire process. I really do owe so much to her. I then went to work, where I was due that evening for a shift. I asked to speak to my manager and again, burst out crying. I remember holding my sick certificate in my hand, wiping my eyes with my other hand and saying "This is awkward .... I'm depressed - yay!" in a really sarcastic way. i remember being petrified of what they would say. I thought I would get sacked. I thought they would laugh and make comments like "What have you got to be depressed about?" but they did not. Their faces sunk, they offered me a hug. They completely understood. There were no comments, no laughter, no snide remarks. One of my managers even explained their experience with depression. I felt like a tone of bricks had been lifted right there, at the moment.

The rest of the day was a slight blur to be honest. I felt drained, once again. I guess it was the fact I had held all these emotions and feelings in for so long. I had suppressed all these very powerful emotions and all at once they all appeared. 

I decided not to tell anyone at first. I did not want anyone at work knowing. I did not want the sympathy. I did not want family knowing because I was ashamed and embarrassed. I did not want friends knowing because I didn't want them to think differently of me. So for a while it was just me, mum, shelbi (best friend) and management. 

A few days passed and people started to text me from work, asking if I was okay because on the rota I was noted as 'sick' I told the people I trusted, and to my anxiety filled mined I was surprised that they didn't care and were supportive.

I finally plucked up the courage to tell family, I told my Nan first, and then my uncle because he also suffers from depression. I then told my aunty and I guess from there my entire family found out. 

It gets worse before it gets better. 
It is true what they say - it does get worse before it gets better, and oh my it sucks!! I have never experienced something like it. I guess there are almost stages you go through and experience, in no particular order i experienced the following .... 

- relief - 
- denial - 
- embarrassment - 
- Confusion - 
- worry - 
- disbelief - 
- more worry - 
- acceptance - 
- recovery - 
- relapse - 

I will not lie to you here, I spent a solid 10 days in bed. I am not even exaggerating - I felt awful. 
My best friend come and visited me, and she would come to my bedroom and try her hardest to make a conversation but I was like a soulless body.  She tried to get me up and out the house, take me shopping and for lunch but I did not want to move. I was either crying or sleeping. The only time I left my room was to use the bathroom. I think I even went without a bath or shower for a good 4 days. Mum tried everything possible to help me. I was not eating, hardly drinking. I was not helping myself at all. Looking back, I think it was a mixture of the emotions I was going through and the medication because this started to dull after around three weeks. 

The following weeks. 
I remember waking up daily, and mum reminding me to take my tablets (I forget everything) and I almost started to resent them. They were making me feel like shit - they are supposed to make me better! I wouldn't want to put a number on it but I think around 12 weeks time I was happy. I was smiling. I was back to my 'normal' self.  I was starting to socialize with friends again and back to work regularly. No one was 'pussy footing' around me anymore and things were back on track.  

Now, if you know me in person you will know i am the biggest, bubbliest, loudest, sarcastic piece of shit you will ever come across! So it was nice to be back to that person. The person I am, know and am known for. it was over the following weeks that I was able to look back and reflect. It was then clear that all of the dramatic thoughts, over thinking, over analyzing was all due to my anxiety which has turned into a much larger problem (but i will cover that another time) Things slowly, but surely begun to make sense again. 

Unfortunately once you have depression and anxiety, you have it.
You cannot take some tablets, have some therapy and once you feel good stop everything because that's what I did. 
Not once, but twice. I am now back at the start again. I have relapsed but this time I know what to do. I know I need help. I am not ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help, and this time I want to help others to get help too. I want to stop people from feeling ashamed. I want to help people get the help and advice that they deserve because no-one on this planet deserves to feel the way that depression makes you feel. No one deserves to wake up every morning dreading to be alive. 

I will cover the rest of my story, dealing with a relapse, more explanations etc over the following weeks. 


Life is for living. 
Too many people are just living to be alive.
To live doesn't mean you are alive. 

i really hope that you managed to take something from this. It was so emotionally hard for me to write. To relive the past and to try and put myself back in such a dark time in my life. I understand it may not be the easiest of reads but If I can help one person, I will be content with that.

if you want to take part then please contact me,
i would be happy to talk to you whether you just need someone to talk to, some advice, guidance or even if you want to guest-post! 

I will be back next week with a guest-post from the incredible tommy, you can find him on Instagram here 

have a lovely week. 
remember, no-one is alone. 
ask for help. 
it's okay not to be okay. 

Want to talk? 
Please feel free to email me, or find me on social media (all linked on my blog) and I will be more than happy to speak to you. Use the Hashtag #BISDTT to get the conversation started online!

Useful Information and Links. 

NHS Depression Self Assessment
NHS Mood Self Assessment 
MoodJuice Self Help Guide
MIND - Mental Health Charity
NHS Choices Turn2me - Online Counselling

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