The Moose and Lent

lent

 

The time of year when we give up something as a form of penitence, usually something like chocolate for a period of 40 days.

However following on from a conversation with Kimmy on twitter regarding my confidence issues about my blog I have accepted her challenge of a dare shown below.

The Dare I have accepted for Lent

The Dare I have accepted for Lent

 

And so for Lent I will give up obsessing about my stats! This is a huge thing for me as I cannot go a day without checking numbers for the blog. Usually resulting in me being upset because numbers are down, comments are not received and likes are not being obtained!

The plus side is that it means I can continue my chocolate addiction without feeling guilty!

If you could give something up for Lent what would you choose?

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I’m Back…..Here’s Moosey!!!

I hope you have been reading and enjoying the guest posts that people have been brave enough to write and share with us all. I feel very proud of myself for giving people a place to share they experience of depression and other illnesses both from a sufferer and a therapists perspective and hope there will be more people coming forward with their posts.

Click here for a link to all the guest posts.

So what you been doing Moosey? I hear you all cry

The truth is, not a lot really. Apart from Monday when I met with Gary Dart, a Facebook buddy of mine for about 5 years! He also happens to be one of my best supporters of Facebook and is a proud owner of one of my books! (and that is a select club).

He was someone who was also deeply affected by the death of Teresa. In November last year I received a package with lots of gifts from various friends in America and there were 2 key rings sent by Teresa for me, as I knew how close he was with her I offered to send him one of the key rings and he decided we should make a day of it and trek round London.

It was also a great opportunity for me to gain a form of closure on my grief for Teresa as together we planned to light a candle in St Margaret’s Church, next door to Westminster Abbey, as it was  one of the list of places she wanted to see when she was planning to visit me.  I could feel her presence as we lit the candles and I said a little prayer and it really did help lift my spirits, I know she would appreciate the gesture.

She was also affectionately known as “Donut” so we each ate a donut in her honour!

donuts

Following on from Central London we were lucky enough to have been given a free tour of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, which was awesome for me being a gooner!

After a long day of walking around London with Gary I headed back home absolutely shattered but spiritually uplifted having had a great day with a good friend. I have said it before and I will say it until I am blue in the face – nothing beats making plans with friends and getting yourself out of the home for a day! If you haven’t done it for a while please make some plans and go visit some sights, have a cuppa or do anything that breaks up the normal routine! Hell I will even meet you in London, if you are lucky to have a copy of my book like Gary was I will even sign it for you 😀

We even found a wonderfully named pub. Now I have my dreams of being famoose and I have been called a prick on plenty of occasions so the photo below is perfect!

The Famoose Cock!!

The Famoose Cock!!

Gary I salute you Sir for spending the day with me, despite my moaning about my knees LOL

Speaking of moaning – I had to spend 30 pence to use the toilet! 30p!! Talk about taking the piss 😀

People with a history of IBS related accidents do not have time to find the change machine and put coins into a turnstile but thankfully there was no messy ending!

Get making plans folks I promise you a day out will make a big difference for you!

 

Guest Post – Emily

Living with depression

Mental illness is an ongoing and controversial source of debate. Psychologists and doctors must consider how it should be treated, while the philosophers out there question whether a mind can even get ill. However, be it an illness or not, depression is a serious and unavoidable affliction which is incredibly hard to deal with since no pill, injection or operation can provide an instant remedy. There are no visible symptoms and most people will fail to notice or refuse to believe that someone they know is depressed.

The origins of depression are numerous, but it is important to remember that not everyone who suffers these ’causes’ will become depressed and much depends upon the ingrained mindset of the individual. Traumatic experiences from the past can lead to depression later in life. These include abuse (physical, sexual, emotional), losing a loved one, witnessing an accident or death or fighting off a life-threatening illness. Some surprising events are found to incite depression, including marriage, graduation and getting a new job, while other periods are more predictably difficult such as getting divorced, being extremely ill, losing a job or retiring. Often it is a case of not recovering from the hard times, through which friends and family were there for support but over time they have lost the motivation and energy to stay positive in the face of depression. The following isolation deepens the depression making it even harder to cope with.

While most illnesses come with physical symptoms, depression is harder to recognise unless the sufferer frequently cries and is easily distressed, dramatically gains or loses weight, or reports pains which usual treatment does not cure. It is only through talking to a doctor or psychiatrist that a patient can be diagnosed and directed towards relevant treatment. People with depression experience a variety of mood-related symptoms, including feeling perpetually sad, anxious, helpless, guilty, worthless or just empty, taking no pleasure from their usual activities. Other symptoms include sleeping excessively or not at all and overeating or the total loss of interest in food. These effects are detrimental to health and well-being, further increasing the feelings of depression. It is extremely difficult to live with someone with depression as there is almost nothing to be said or done which seems to help. Outbursts and suicide threats are extremely distressing for close friends and family, who often back away for self-preservation reasons, making the depressed individual feel even lonelier, hopeless and miserable.

So how does anybody escape this vicious circle of loss, grief, depression and isolation? Initially, sessions with a psychiatrist or counselor can help alleviate some of the tension by talking through a troublesome period. It may help identify a cause which had not previously been considered but was always under the surface. However, it is not a way to find somebody or something to blame, since every person must take some responsibility for their situation, or they cannot hope to get out of it. Some doctors prescribe drugs containing serotonin, the happiness chemical, which relieve the feelings of sadness. These are not a permanent cure and should be accompanied by some form of psychotherapy which can help alter negative thought patterns and improve peoples coping methods, leading to an overall improvement in well-being rather than a temporary and false dose of happiness. Ultimately, if an individual really wants to feel better, they will take the guidance and treatment seriously and work hard to develop a new perspective and positive attitude, making their life and consequently those of their friends and family much easier. There is no immediate solution but immediate action will set the ball rolling towards a better future for everyone concerned.

This article was written by Emily Banham on behalf of Living At Choice, a counselling Brighton and psychotherapy Brighton based practice.

Guest Post – Jess Returns!

Following on from her previous post Jess has returned!

I recently got a tattoo of a serotonin molecule on the inside of my wrist. It’s widely believed that this is the chemical which, when imbalanced, can be one of the causes of depression.

While I was having the tattoo done, I explained to my tattooist what it was and why I wanted it done. I told him I had been suffering from depression for 5 years now, but am feeling the best I have for years thanks to this little chemical being kept in order by my meds. While we were talking, he brought up the subject of self harm, now this is something I have never done, and I feel very lucky that I’ve never felt the need too nor have I ever felt suicidal.

Kieran jokingly said in reply “tattoos are enough pain for you then.” Thinking about it as he said it, he was right, four of my six tattoos – I had done when I was feeling low, or was just coming into a high. I don’t know why, but I like the idea that I have replaced self harm with tattoos.

This time last year, I was at my lowest point. I took 6 weeks off work (something I usually enjoyed) and upped my meds to 40mg a day. A few weeks after being signed off work, I also started my first session of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). My new mental health worker was a big, typical straight talking Yorkshire lass, who herself suffered from depression and anxiety. This gave me some comfort, and for the first time since being diagnosed I felt I could talk openly about the effects depression really had on my every day life. I had my first panic attack during one of our sessions, I was terrified but she helped me through and explained what was happening inside my brain.

For the first time, there was someone to reassure me that it wasn’t just me. It wasn’t just me that felt like the whole town was staring as I walked through the centre, or that the group of women at the other side of McDonalds knew something was wrong with me and were definitely laughing about it. Or that it wasn’t just me that questioned whether my friends actually like me, or just don’t have it in them to tell me to piss off and leave them alone.

I got discharged after around 5 or 6 weekly session of CBT. During the session when she discharged me, I filled out the questionnaire (yes, that bloody questionnaire), and was shocked to be told by my mental health worker that, when I first came to see her, had this been 15-20 years ago, when the questionnaire’s were used to decide whether or not somebody needed to be sectioned, then I would have been sectioned there and then. In fact, my “score” was well over the total that in years gone by, justified sectioning. (For non-suffering readers, this questionnaire I speak of is basically a load of questions on how you feel, how long you have felt it, whether you avoid certain situations etc.)

I’ve just been for an unplanned visit to my mental health worker (well, it was unplanned 2 weeks ago) this evening, and I realise how lucky I am to have an NHS employee in these times that will see me in 2 weeks or less when I unexpectedly call. I’m not feeling particularly depressed, in fact I’m very happy right now, even more so after the support and kind words I’ve received from my friends and family (most that didnt know about my depression) since my first post for the moose.

No, in all honestly, I needed that appointment to talk about the anxiety I was feeling towards my future (going to uni, moving out etc) and just to get the big kick up the arse that I need to get my motivation, positive thinking and assertiveness back.

Over the last year, I’ve gotten a lot better at spotting the signs of my mental health deteriorating, and these are the three main ones. Although admitting I need a bit of support again is still hard, I managed to pick up the phone and book an appointment before my depression got unmanageable. In the words of my mental health worker this evening after filling in that chuffing questionnaire – “We’ve got it just at the right point, I’m glad you rang when you did.”

It’s amazing how a few drunkern chats on a weekend and 40 minutes sat in a room with somebody can make you feel so much more positive. The hardest part for most people is talking, but it’s often the best medicine.

I’ve never really been one to talk openly about my depression, in fact most of my family members that knew before my first blog for the moose, only knew because my mum or brother had told them. I can only think of a handful of people I have actually told myself, face to face. Saying that, I found writing my last blog a massive relief, I was very surprised with the reaction I got from both people that know me and those that don’t, in fact even a coach that took my FA level one course, and is head of the youth academy at my beloved Rotherham gave me positive feedback on the blog. For that, I’m grateful – to everyone that read my post, and everyone that showed support. Not only that, it’s given me the confidence to talk to my friends about what really goes on inside my head, as now they know about it.

So thanks again for reading, and thanks again to the moose for letting clog up his blog with my ramblings and gain an even better support network.

Jess – @jesstemps92

Guest Post – Elizabeth

7 Surprising Signs You Are Stressed to the Max!

We already know that an upset tummy and symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome are sure signs of being stressed to the Max…yet, there are many other surprising signs that our bodies give us letting us know that we are in a full blown Stress-A-Thon!

Stress is a Killer! I’m not kidding…stress not only leads to digestive distress but also to high blood pressure, stroke, depression just to name a few problems I’m sure you don’t want to experience.

While there are many ways to reduce stress…some of my favorites are: meditation CDs and deep breathing exercises. However, watching out for sneaky stressors is still as important as taking that first deep relaxing breath…Ahhh!

Surprising Sign #1-Weird or Recurring Dreams
You know you are burning the candle at both ends when your stress takes you into SlumberLand. If you routinely dream of missing the bus or your house is burning down, two of the most common stress dreams, then you know it is time to learn how to let go of your stressors.

Surprising Sign #2-Tight Muscles
Turns out that stress causes our muscles to tighten up…leaving us in a more vulnerable spot for injury. It’s time to take a Deep Abdominal Breath in…ahhhh!

Surprising Sign #3-Twitching
While we are on the topic of spasms, have you ever experienced an eye twitch or your calf twitching…then you know yet another sign that you are stressing.

Surprising Sign #4-Tooth Trouble
Grinding your teeth as you sleep or even clenching your jaw while you are awake without realizing it are both ways of “chewing over your problems”, however, these behaviors do not unstress you. Quite the opposite, they cause lots of pain and discomfort.

Surprising Sign #5- Changes in Your Menstrual Cycle
Women commonly complain of unusually bad cramps or even a missed period when stressful times are paramount. When your stress subsides, your menstrual cycle will most likely return to normal.

Surprising Sign #6- Losing Hair or Going Grey
We have heard people say that a stressful or traumatic situation turns you grey…but it is also true that people commonly lose hair, literally the hair follicle becomes lose when we are stressed. Amazing that stress wreaks havoc over EVERY part of our body.

Surprising Sign #7- Super Sniffles
Stress plays an impact on our Immune System lowering our defenses and making us twice as likely to catch a cold over other times we are not as stressed. It all has to do with cortisol, the stress hormone. When cortisol is elevated, the inflammatory response is suppressed  Therefore, when we are exposed to a virus, our body cannot fight it like other less stressful times.

Boy! That is quite the list! I am sure all of you have experienced one of these symptoms before in your life. I am hoping that has subsided for you…and if it hasn’t ..this list may be enough to trigger another stress attack! That’ ok…start breathing deeply…it will pass in no time!

 

Elizabeth has her own website http://www.letgoofibs.com/ and can be found on twitter here

Back from Cold Turkey Hell!

I have survived my own personal hell! 3 days of no cable TV  internet or landline due to a major outage of Virgin Media services affecting pretty much the whole of redbridge! Finally it has been fixed and I am back but it has been tough I am never going through that again! was worse than the time I stopped taking my tablets 😀

I have a few more guest blogs to post but as I am playing catch up they may not go live until Monday. It was interesting to check my comments after 3 days and have 43 spam comments!! still at least the spammers noticed my absence.

So how am I doing?

well the stress of having no internet has drained me but this week I have had my 19 year old Nephew staying with us from the Isle of Wight and it has been a nice change having him here, except I am missing my afternoon siestas so I am tired and miserable but being the “cool” uncle I always knew I could be 😀

More updates in the coming days but wanted to assure you I hadn’t left you all in the lurch!!

 

Guest Post – Dawn

This post is not about depression stats or the links found between growing up in dysfunction and
an individual’s potential to be depressed. I don’t know about you but I don’t need a university
study to tell me that depression is tragic.
I know it is because, like you, I live with it everyday.
Depression is my baseline.
So, in this post I am taking a different approach. Today, I’m doing some riffing and bitching on
depression. That’s right I’m talking some major trash!
Below, I’ve put together a list of the 10 things that I can’t stand about this beast.
1) Depression sucks every last bit of life out of you. Am I right? I’m talking down to the
quantum level. It has more suction power than a Dyson & a Dirt Devil combined.
2) It does not come with an instruction manual.
3) There are no magic wand solutions or 10 easy steps that you can implement to be happy and
depression free.
4) It makes me dread the most beautiful, sunshiny days. Why can’t it just rain when I am
depressed?
5) It makes time stand completely still when all you want is the day to be over. Hopefully,
tomorrow will be better.
6) Medication – You go on medication to feel better but the side effects from the medication
make you sick. So now you are depressed and sick.
7) It’s fickle. You are either:
• tired or you can’t sleep
• stuffing your face or you can’t eat
• lonely as hell but don’t want to be around people
8) It makes it impossible to “get it up.” To get excited, get involved, get outside, get out of bed
or get in the shower. Unfortunately, there is no Viagra for depression.
9) It’s all pervasive, it rattles every last corner of your life.
10) And finally, you know I saved the best for last, the things that you could do to feel better
when you are depressed are the exact things you will not do because you are depressed. Try
being around other people when you don’t even have it in you to brush your teeth.
I am frustrated and I feel discouraged. I just want to understand. I do my best to reel myself in
when I feel that mood coming on but I am often defeated. I promise myself that no matter what
happens the next time I get depressed I will force myself to be happy. Maybe if I buy the right
magazine or read the right book or write a long enough gratitude list? Maybe if I switch
medications or run for 2 hours on the treadmill I will just sweat the mood out. I don’t know,
whatever it is that will cure this little bug eating away at my brain, I haven’t found it yet. Until I
do, I will keep riffing and bitching.

Dawn writes her own blog Growing up Chaotic which can be found here

she can be found on twitter here

Guest Post – Marq

 

I used to wonder if you could catch it like a cold or a bug but more often than not I’ve come to realise it is just in you, part of your genetic make-up, hereditary. I have depression as does my sister, my grandma, I only found out years after she died, suffered badly at the hands of this dark pest.

As close as we were I never realised, she hid it so well and clearly thought it was the one thing she couldn’t bring herself to tell me. I guess it was even more taboo back then and I can’t help but wonder how many people knew or if she just suffered in silence.

Depression takes many forms, people talk of a great weight or a darkness, a shadow or a black wave. Mine I guess is like a loyal dog, following me round biting at my heels, sometimes I throw it a stick by doing something amazing and it’s in these moments when its furthest away that can almost feel happy, but inevitably it always comes back. Sometimes, just like a real dog, it will simply sleep in the corner of the room but I know it is always there and on waking it will want to play.

I say this because people think that depression is all doom and gloom but as with anything it has a balance, you can’t have such extreme lows without also experiencing at times false highs. In these moments you can feel indestructible, capable of anything and everything which will often lead to you doing something stupid that ultimately will aid the speed of your downward spiral even more when you finally come crashing back to reality.

This behaviour also goes hand in hand with addiction, I pushed the self-destruct button twenty years ago and have been constantly trying to deactivate it ever since, self-medicating with whatever to combat the thoughts, to numb the pain, to help the brain do something other than think.

Of course we all know that substances aren’t the answer and really just add to the problems, but that numbness is so appealing at the time, the self-loathing and regret after not so much. Over thinking plays a huge part in it all and although nothing was achieved when I had therapy we did have great conversations because we had read all the same books. I went through a phase of trying to figure out my depression I filled my world with every book and essay on the subject desperate to find an answer, hopeful of a cure that never came.

After all avenues have been exhausted its back to the prescription pills and the gruelling day to day fight. I hate my depression with a passion, I hate the way it stops me doing the things I enjoy, I hate the way it won’t let me get out of my own bed some days, I hate the way I can’t be alone with it, that it pushes me to extremes in an effort to dilute its power.

Like anyone I have good days and bad and I am grateful that I am so much more in control now than I was. My depression cost me relationships, friends, jobs and for a while threatened to take my life. I am now at an age where I realise I will always have it, it will never be fully gone, but I am I hope better equipped mentally to deal with all the things it can throw my way.

 

Marq is available on twitter here

Guest Post – Bethan

I think I’m a swan …

So The Depressed Moose is looking for guest blogs, I need a distraction, so let’s do this!  

Currently I’m riding out a few tricky days, my Anxiety has been sky high, Depression up a notch and irrational thought processes of Borderline Personality Disorder means my poor old brain could do with a holiday.  But, I’m sort of like a swan, above water, graceful (ish!) but underneath, I’m kicking like there’s no tomorrow and it’s draining me. 

Is that a good thing or bad?  I’m undecided.  I was doing much better, really really better.  My psychiatrist impressed with progress, Mental Health Social Worker reduced contact and everyone commenting on my progress.  But as we know, boom it comes from nowhere and feel I’m a bit back to square one. 

I find my head is a stuck record, asking myself the same questions, fixated on the same things.  I can see where I am now and see where I want to be but can’t visualise that path of recovery anymore like I once did.  Everything is stressing me. 

I’m doing a course part time, I’ll try anything to fill this huge empty “blah” feeling in me.  But when I was on my course Thursday I had a totally irrational fear and reacted by losing sense of my surroundings, my breathing was everywhere, cried non stop for about an hour and thought I was going to actually vomit all over my lecturer.  I don’t have to go back now till April but I feel so embarrassed. I reacted to a small anxiety in the way other people might to a huge natural disaster like a tsunami!  Because I usually present “normal”, people aren’t sure how to react to things like Thursday.  Luckily it was a 1:1 session and the lecturer handled it well, I’ve messaged her to thank her.  


I suppose I’m struggling and not sure how to ask for help, because when I’ve tried asking for it people simply insist that I’m OK and state how far I’ve come, on the surface, I seem to be gliding along, underneath paddling like hell. 

Bethan can be found on twitter here

Guest Post – Mary

We Have to Stop Now

I have been diagnosed with Treatment Resistant Major Depression (plus other things). Recently I was in therapy & my therapist was looking through my file for a court document from when I first started therapy. She found it, read it to me and while doing so she mentioned the date on the document-2006. 2006?!?!?! Are you kidding me?!? I’ve been in therapy for 7+ years?!?!?!? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I get it together? Why can’t I be normal? Why does the past haunt me 24/7? Will it ever stop?

These are just some of the thoughts that ran through my head. Am I better off now then I was in 2006? Well, yes, for the past 7 years I have had someone to talk to twice a week. Someone who actually listens, respects me, believes me and says they care about me. When I say “talk” I mean deep, hurtful, powerful feelings and memories. It is hard work. After 7 years, have I talked about everything that happened to me in my life that has contributed to my current state of mind? The answer is no. 7 years and no, there is still baggage that I am too afraid to talk about, or say out loud. It is choking me and making me feel and act crazy and want to die. I am grateful that the community outreach center that I go to for therapy has been letting me come twice a week. Still, there never seems to be enough time. I go to therapy wanting to talk about things that have happened during the past few days, feelings, memories, thoughts and dreams. The time always seems to go by so quickly. Before I know it I hear “We have to stop now.” I hate hearing those words.

It brings me back to reality and reminds me that I am just another crazy, depressed person. There are many other clients that need to be seen, that need help too. It reminds me that the person I am talking to is getting paid to listen and talk to me. It reminds me that I have no one in my life that cares. It reminds me of my loneliness and that I don’t really matter to anyone.

At a recent session I wanted to talk about some horrifying nightmares (some events that actually happened-not dreams, but flashbacks that happen while I am sleeping) that I am having about my father. Before I started I asked if we still had time for me to do this. The answer was yes. I was shaking as I talked about the events and was scared to talk about them. I couldn’t look at my therapist, I felt embarrassed, mortified and humiliated. When I was finished. I heard “we have to stop now“. It was such an emotional let down. I just finished spilling my guts about something that is upsetting me. Something that I was extremely anxious to say out loud.

There was no time to talk about the nightmares, my feelings about them, my extreme anxiety and the panic I feel every night when I go to sleep. I felt left in limbo. I left the office feeling very upset, anxious and feeling sort of ‘out of my body’. As I was getting in my car my mind was reeling, confused as to what just happened. I was not upset with my therapist, she was just doing her job, time was up and she probably had another client waiting. This is what I mean by there never being enough time. It’s no ones fault, that is just they way things work. It probably would have helped if I had a friend to call, but I don’t have any friends. Instead I ended up collapsing in tears when I got home. The nightmares and flashbacks in my sleep continue. I am afraid to sleep. I am afraid of having intense flash backs. I don’t want to sound selfish. I am so grateful for my therapist and the community outreach center I go to.

Everyone there has been kind and generous to me. They have taken me to family court, social services, doctor appointments, etc. Anytime I need someone to go some place with me, my therapist is there to help. The kindness that has been shown to me is something that is a rarity in my life. I am grateful for the kindness and everything the center and staff have done for me.

I am responsible for my current state of mind and not being able to communicate what’s in my head. After all, I’ve had 7 years. The situation feels hopeless, there is nothing anyone can do and there is no “magic” pill that will erase the years of abuse, neglect and torture that I have been though and am still going through. I feel powerless over the memories that constantly play back in my head, the flash backs, the nightmares, my inability to control them, to be normal, the excruciating emotional pain that never stops, the voices in my head that tell me over and over what a bad person I am, and the constant thoughts of death.

I am still here, but what’s the point when you feel hopeless, worthless, useless, sad (really sad), crazy, alone, empty inside, agitated, angry, upset all the time, anxious, panicky, afraid, scared, different from everyone else, not normal and your mind constantly telling you that you are not needed and you bother people and it would be better if you just disappeared. I can’t take it anymore. I try telling my mind that we have to stop now. Stop all the voices, the flash backs and fear, but it doesn’t work. My depression has me in a very dark place and I have been fighting to get out for a long time. I am tired of fighting, of not being understood, not being able to find the words to express what’s in my head. I am tired of being so lonely. I’m tired of being starved for something as simple as a hug and wishing someone would tell me that everything is going to be ok, that I just need more time. So I am asking whoever is reading this – is it time to stop now?

 

Mary is available on twitter here