Hermit had Fun! 

I had the best day yesterday. My body aches weren’t as bad, and despite my anxiety hammering away because I was daring the leave my hermit cave,I was excited to be leaving the house. 

I put on my gorgeous vintage, original 1970s maxi dress with the flared sleeves 😍💜 It makes me feel so pretty and it’s so feminine and flattering. 

It was exactly what I needed, since my my pain medication has made me put on a lot of weight. 

I have been a size 8 dress size my whole life, but since taking my pain medication I have gone up to a size 14. 

My boobs look fantastic 😂, but my stomach, not so much. 

It would be ok if I actually had hips, but because I don’t, I feel kind of like a blob. 

I know I’m not huge, but depression and anxiety affect the way I see myself. So at present I see a giant blob with a hag face when I look in the mirror. 

Yesterday in my beautiful dress and my hair and make up done, I didn’t see a blob with a hag face. I saw ME! For the first time in months it was ME looking back in the mirror and it felt so good. 

My friend and extremely supportive boss came to pick me up early afternoon and we drove around the corner to one of my favourite coffee places Penshaw Tea Rooms 

I am so lucky to live where I do. I live on an old estate owned by Lord Lampton . At one time it was called the Lambton Lion Park . Yes there were real lions in County Durham!

I am surrounded by stunning countryside and I love that my garden is full of beautiful birds,including Woodpeckers, Kestrals, and Sparrow Hawks. 

The estate also breeds Pheasants for the shoots they run, so there are always pheasants wandering about my garden, being noisy buggers, but looking very pretty. 

There is a family of rabbits that live at the bottom of my garden – my cat Moo unfortunately enjoys catching and bringing back to the house their baby offspring at this time of the year. – I have had to rescue four so far, three didn’t make it and I had to call the RSPCA to get another 🙁

I have put a louder bell on her collar in the hope it will stop her catching them. 

There are also some squirrels in the tree in next door’s garden. I love to watch them scurrying about in the trees.They like to sneak across my garden early in the morning and pinch the bird food from my other neighbour’s bird feeder. 

In late Summer the squirrels can been seen running across my garden on two legs, carrying ripe apples in their forepaws, that have fallen from my neighbours apple tree. 

My garden 💜

When we arrived at Penshaw tea rooms (which is underneath Penshaw Monument ), my friend was in awe of the beautiful surroundings. 

The cafe includes a small nursery and they also sell some gorgeous animal wood carvings for your garden. 

My friend and I sat with a coffee and had a gorgeous lunch of panninis (his sweet chilli chicken, mine was BBQ pulled pork and cheese).

The panninis were crispy, stuffed to the brim and came with salad, coleslaw and crisps. They were gorgeous! 

We followed up with some cake. I don’t know what it was called, (they have a huge selection), but it was delicious! It was sort of bits of Mars bar, with chunks of meringue and a toffee angel delight style filling. 

It. Was. To. Die. For! 

We must have been there for about three hours. We talked about how I’d been feeling on my new meds. Somehow we got on to my wild late teens and twenties and the 90s. How I spent the Millenium New Year at a dance party at the Millenium Dome in London.

Me aged 19 clutching my Zippy backpack 💜

 

I’ve done some crazy and silly things in my time, it was so much fun to reminisce. 

My twenties were far from perfect – I was very ill and had a complete break down at the age of 19/20, not the best start – but somehow even that terrible time is now surrounded with the warm glow of past memories. 

Talking about those times, made me smile, laugh, and feel a teeny bit sad too. After all they are mostly things I am unable to do now. It was a good thing overall though. 

It was so nice to laugh and talk for few hours, and in such a great setting. I am so, so lucky to have a boss, and a friend as supportive with my health as he is. The company I work for have been so amazing too and I know how very lucky I am. A lot of people aren’t so lucky to have that support. 

Yesterday was so positive. I am hopeful it will continue. 

Thank you for reading

Love love love 💜

The Faraway Girl

The Ghost Train – The Excriutiatingly Slow Rollercoaster Ride that is, Changing Anti-Depressant Medication

As someone who has been fighting Depression and Anxiety my whole life, I have experienced a fair few changes of medication. 

I started on my first anti-depressants when I was 26 years old – Fluoxetine, probably the most common ‘starter’ medication for someone with Depression – and I was on that for around 5 years on various doses. Unfortunately as often happens with medication on a long term basis, it stopped working for me. 

I was put on a new drug, Sertraline and it had an immediate positive effect. Obviously I thought after a few dose variations, that I would be sorted. I was wrong. Sadly I developed an allergic reaction which resulted in a painful itchy rash all over, called Urticaria. What followed was months of trying just about every anti-depressant there is, with varying awful effects. These went from making me seriously suicidal to more allergic reactions. 

It was so frustrating and mostly awful, but in the end I was put on a drug called Venlaxfaxine, which thankfully worked. I was so grateful that the side effects of the first few weeks didn’t bother me so much. 

You see, unfortunately, even the drugs that are successful – and most people have to go through a trial and error system whether with the type of pills or the dosage – have a two to three week period of ‘settling in’.

Ah the settling in period! It is mostly horrific and basically makes your life a misery for 3 weeks, (as if you didn’t feel that way to start with, suffering from Depression and all). 

Ok, so I will describe the type of symptoms likely to be experienced during this time. 

*Trigger Warning*

Firstly, a depressed person, depending on the severity, will likely already be experiencing some of the symptoms listed and probably more, though I can only speak for myself,such as:

  • Low Mood
  • Lack of self confidence/ self worth
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of motivation
  • Forgetfulness
  • Tearfulness
  • Negativity
  • Feeling like a burden
  • No interest in hobbies/things you enjoy
  • Little to no sex drive
  • Lowering in hygeine standards e.g not getting washed, dressed, brushing teeth etc… 
  • House/Room getting messy e.g. not doing housework, dishes, washing etc… 
  • Financial trouble e.g. overspending, unable to keep track of money, bills etc… 

To name but a few. 

Now, when taking a new medication, all of the above symptoms, as well as anxiety, perhaps suicidal thoughts/thoughts of self harm, are pretty much doubled. It is a really hard thing to go through, and I think it is possibly the reason a lot of people don’t like taking anti-depressants. 

So here is, the list of some of the things I have gone through during the early periods of a new/change of medication. 

I must say, the reason I am describing this is because I think a lot of non-sufferers seem to be under the impression that you pop a pill and that’s it, you’re instantly cured. 

This is to try and show that that is not the case and anyone going through a change of medication or perhaps taking them for the first time, will need extra support from family and friends during this time. I have gone through this alone on a number of occasions and it is not a nice experience, believe me. 

Symptoms Coming On or Off Anti-Depressants

  1. Worsened Anxiety including:
  • Panic attacks, 
  • Feeling like you can’t breathe, 
  • Feeling like you’re having a heart attack,
  • Dizziness,
  • Sounds amplified
  • Panicky in crowds
  • Agoraphobia (inability/fear of leaving the house) 
  • Trouble focusing
  • Feeling distracted
  • Constant worrying
  • Circular thoughts
  • Unable to calm yourself down/ relax
  • Lack of concentration
  • Unable to use the phone
  • Money problems
  • Distance yourself from friends/family
  • Thinking you are a burden
  • Negative thoughts

2. Feeling suicidal

3. Feeling you have let everyone down

4.Feeling like you are a burden

5.Feeling like a failure

6.Thinking everyone hates you

7.Thinking people are talking about you

8.No interest in things you enjoyed

9.Not wanting to socialise

10.Lack of sex drive

11.Unable to see any positivity in anything

12.Nothing makes you laugh anymore

13.Isolation

14.Not feeling like yourself anymore

15.Unable to get out of bed

16.Unable to get dressed,washed, brush teeth

17.Unable to fulfil responsibilities like work or home committments

18.Crying at everything

I could go on and on, there are so many things it affects. As you see, it is a bit of a horror story. 

I was on the Venlafaxine for 5 years until recently, following a breakdown last year, I realised they had stopped working. 

After last time I was terrified of changing again and I left it as long as I could, but I knew something had to be done. 

Changing medication is not as easy as,‘stop taking one kind and start taking another’. First I had to wean myself off the Venlafaxine, one tablet at a time over a period of three weeks, until I wasn’t on them at all; then I could take the new ones. 

Coming off a medication like this is as awful as starting them, if not worse. I felt as though I had the flu and had been beaten up on the inside. 

As I’ve mentioned before I have arthritis in my spine, so I am no stranger to being in pain or feeling shitty. Every day I am in pain, but this was a new addition that I did not need. 

I couldn’t stop crying. In fact, this is how bad it got, on the way back from collecting my new medication, I cry-sang (that’s a thing) part of the way home to Jason Donovan’s ‘Too Many Broken Hearts’. Yep! Not my finest moment, but it happened. 

Anyway, I got home, dried my tears and took my new tablets. These ones are called Duloxetine, I haven’t tried them before. I developed a headache as the day went on, but thought nothing of it. I put it down to my Jason Donovan tears. 

My mood felt as though it had lifted a little and I felt hopeful for the first time in a long time. 

The next day, a Sunday, I woke up, the headache still pounding, but mood-wise I felt great! I got up, made myself and Misschief some breakfast, and had a relaxing Sunday; And, amazingly for someone with CFS I did not have a nap at all! 

Over the next few days, the headache stayed around, but thankfully so did the amazing lift in my mood. I even took the Christmas Tree down, which, since it was March was way overdue, but I had previously been too ill to take it down. 

I had an appointment with my doctor a week later and that day I was floating around on sunbeams. I would say I was maybe even a little hyperactive. I put makeup on for the first time in months, got dressed and went to the doctors. 

Everything went fine, we both agreed it was a positive reaction and to leave the dose alone for now since it seemed to be working. I even cooked a chilli that night, which is a huge deal for me, because I normally struggle to cook properly due to my back pain. I did need to keep sitting down, but I did it! All was going well, until the next day. 

I woke up the next morning feeling as though someone had taken a hammer to my head. The headache had worsened and not only that, every bone and every muscle in my body was aching, even my eyeballs were aching. I felt like I was burning up too, it was awful and exactly not what I had hoped for. 

Every day since then, about a week ago,I have felt the same. I have read the leaflet that comes with the pills and a lot of the side effects seem in keeping with that, so I am giving it another week, hoping and praying to anyone and anything that these symptoms die off. I don’t have the energy to go through the horrifying change of meds process again.

So, here I am, with a heat pack on my neck, feeling like a zombie that is more unalive than undead. 

I hope you enjoyed your ride through this train of ghastly thoughts. 

Please join me again when I may have rejoined the land of the living! 

Thank you for reading and please remember, if you know anyone going through this, give them as much support and love as you can 💜

Love love love

The Faraway Girl

Brain Fog

Is it really Tuesday already? The days just blend into a blur as the weeks race by and I am mostly unaware of what day it is. 

There is a thing known as ‘Brain Fog’

Brain Fog is the feeling where your head feels like it is full of clouds (mostly thunderous ones). You are unable to think clearly, concentrate or remember the simplest of things. 

I get this frequently. I am on a lot of medication for depression and also strong painkillers (morphine being one of them) for my chronic back pain. While the medication definitely goes towards the whole brain fog experience, they are not solely to blame. 

Anxiety and depression each enjoy messing with your head in more ways than one. They both contribute to this feeling of not being able to remember the word for ‘spoon’ or ‘pebble’, or walking into a room and not remembering why you are there and in fact being in the wrong room to start with. 

It is an unnerving feeling being 34 years old and feeling like you are losing your mind. I suppose it would be at any age, but I still feel like I am young (technically at least). I should be able to remember my friends’ names without having to do a mental scan for two minutes every time I try and think of them! 

It is of course hard to think at all when you are tired. I have a condition called chronic fatigue syndrome – it pretty much does what it says on the tin. My very bones are exhausted, or at least that is how it feels. If I do any activity, say make some breakfast, I will need to have a serious nap afterwards – I wish I was joking – it just saps the little energy I have away from me. 

I get so frustrated sometimes. It is infuriating not being able to remember the simplest of things. I know they are in there somewhere, I know that I have this information stored in my brain, but it’s like I have the wrong password and there is just a big ‘access denied’ sign flashing on the screen. 

I have yet to find a way around this. I do a lot of reading, I write a Journal and now of course, my blog, I try and keep my brain as active as possible, since I can’t be physically active,however, doing my job has been hard. 

I have very high standards for myself when it comes to my work, either as a musician or my day job as a customer advisor. It is so hard going from being a very high performing person to not even working at half the performance rate and not hitting my targets. I do think it is largely down to this ‘Brain Fog’, I have to check everything I do three or four times over to make sure I haven’t forgotten something. 

I am off work sick at the moment after a breakdown, so I don’t have that self-imposed pressure of targets and performance. I do worry about it every now and again. When I go back to work, I don’t know how to achieve what I want and need to. I will keep reading articles and trying new things until I find something that works to give me that password to my brain archives back.