So much has happened and changed since I started keeping this blog. That includes my understanding and acceptance of myself and my illness.
In October I was admitted into a psychiatric hospital having a psychotic and manic episode. I was discharged after a week and a medication change. A few days later I was readmitted to hospital after expressing suicidal intentions and still psychotic. Again I was discharged after about a week. A few days after that in a psychotic state I took a massive medication overdose and was on a medical ward for a couple of days before being readmitted, again, to a psychiatric ward. This time, in and out of hospital, meant I missed a lot of university time and had to be signed off sick. I have been told I can return and restart my 2nd year in September 2014, if and when I’m well. As time goes on, I lose hope that I will ever be well enough to return to university. My dream of being a nurse is creeping further and further away from me.
I am depressed. There is no 2 ways about it. I am utterly and completely depressed. Doctors would class it as a severe depressive episode. I would class it as a never-ending darkness that consumes everything and is sucking my very soul out of my body. I feel hopelessness, despair and desperation. But tomato/tomato.
A few months ago I was so elated and psychotic I was hospitalized. Whilst in hospital they stopped the medication I had been on for almost 3 years (at various doses) completely and put me on new medication (Depakote). The medication was supposed to bring me down to a normal mood/energy level and stabilize my levels-stop me swinging from severe depression to mania/extreme elation. At the same time, I needed medication to help control the psychotic symptoms I was experiencing. To some extent the medication (Quetiapine) worked. It brought me out of mania. Initially, I entered what is known as a mixed state, where I had the energy of mania with the mood of depression. I became so unwell, I attempted to kill myself. Clearly I failed, but I was not far off.
Eventually my mood/energy levels stabilized. However they have stabilized on the lower side of “normal”. I have therefore been depressed since Christmas with the very occasional hint of getting better. Herein lies my problem.I cannot get well and stay well. The medication I’m on may well be stabilizing my mood/energy levels but not to a livable level. Maybe I would be worse without them but I doubt it. I actually crave the mania. Anything to lift me out of this depression. The odd day I feel well, I think “Perhaps this time I’ll stay well.” But it never happens. If I’m lucky, a few days pass, then my mood crashes again. I am losing hope that I will ever get well and stay well. I’m filling with despair and desperation. Each time the depression kicks me down again I get a bit lower and now I am at the point where I’m questioning whether it’s worth the fight to keep going. Let’s clarify here- I am NOT suicidal. Not yet at least. But I am at the stage where when I go to bed at night, I hope I don’t wake up. I’m struggling with urges to self harm as well which are old coping mechanisms. These partner up with my self-esteem and body image.
For years,I hated my body. I was bullied at school for my big nose and I hate seeing pictures of myself from the side, but I had come to accept it. I hate my breasts, as I know many women do, because they don’t match the perfect image we see in the media everyday. But again, I had come to accept them, albeit with buying very specific style bras etc. The other thing I’ve always struggled with was my weight. I’ve often been medically overweight but I enjoyed food too much to care. I’ve done diets and healthy eating over the years but I always ended up back at the same weight. I came to accept that maybe that was the weight I was supposed to be. I was happy in my body and my mental health seemed to be manageable.
As my mental health has deteriorated over the last year, so has my body image and its related self-esteem. One of the downsides to my medication is it can cause weight gain. I’m not sure how it works but significant weight gain is a huge problem. I know for me it doesn’t help that it makes me hungry ALL the time. I get obsessive thoughts about food and crave foods. Cravings that keep me awake at night. Until recently I was able to keep the problem in check and learned to ignore the hunger pains and cravings. But in the last 3 months I still managed to put on 6kg.
A couple of weeks ago, I was preparing to meet up for a girls night in the pub. I went to put on my “going-out” jeans and I couldn’t get into them. With a giant slap in the proverbial face, I realised how bad my weight gain must be. I looked in the mirror and burst into tears. I was no longer overweight and comfortable. I was an obese/fat hideous walrus of a person.I weighed myself and confirmed I was now medically obese. The next evening my partner and I were at the pub (I only drink diet coke/Pepsi) and he took a picture of me from the side and posted it on Facebook. I was horrified. Loads of people “liked” the picture but all I saw was my huge, fat arms and my giant nose.
I had to start dieting immediaitely. Suddenly all food became evil. I need to eat less than normal people would need to lose weight because of the medication. I want to exercise, but I have no energy or motivation, again thanks to the medication. I hope if I lose some weight by dieting first, maybe the energy for exercise will come when I’m lugging less weight around. I am hungry all the time and think about it the majority of the time. I dread eating and can’t help think that every mouthful is going to add to my weight not help me lose it. I feel guilty for even eating, especially if I actually enjoy the taste of it. I am on a medication which doesn’t seem to help my moods or energy and it makes me fat at the same time.
So here I am, depressed, fat and feeling like my dreams and hopes are slipping away from me. I can’t help wondering why I’m bothering to keep fighting. I’m hoping my psychiatrist changes my medication. Something needs to change because I can’t carry on with the life I’m currently existing.