Monday, 13 October 2014
Facing up to depresson as a diagnosis...........
I’ve been writing in a diary for many years on and off recording my feelings and thoughts on the world but have always hankered after speaking to a larger audience than my own notebook. So as I find myself five months into sick leave from work I finally have the ‘time’ to think about writing a little more and trying to work my way through the maze that has become my life.
I’m a forty five year old woman who single parents a beautiful nine year old daughter. We live in Dorset, England. We have two dogs and one hamster. And I have lots of demons.
Since I was nineteen years old I have been a police officer. I have committed myself to a tough job and tried my best. But over the years I have struggled with stress and anxiety and probably depression but until this week I’ve never looked in the mirror and realised it. I’ve never stood up and admitted to myself that I am suffering. I have been diagnosed with stress before, I have been on a self destructive path with debt all my adult life and I have struggled to have relationships and allow myself to be loved. But I’ve always stood tall and blamed anything and everything else I could lay my mind to, as to why I felt and behaved the way I have.
I’ve been off work since the end of May 2014 still burying my head in the sand. I’ve had horrific headaches, aching limbs, hot sweats, grinding fatigue and terrible anxiety. I’ve maintained throughout that it WAS NOT stress driven. The symptoms were genuine, I have felt awful and I did not want to admit to any stress or god forbid depression because I felt it would diminish my illness, make people doubt that I had really been feeling crap. But finally this week I feel like I have been caught. Caught because I have been running from the reality all my life, caught and cornered because a good friend finally faced me down and told me to deal with it. It was an emotional realisation, draining even.
Over the past months in my quest for a physical diagnosis I have been to neurologists about my headaches and broken down in floods of tears and anger when he told me it was stress. I have been to ENT consultants as they thought I had a lump in my neck. I had an ultra scan that proved otherwise. I have had a CT Scan and a lumbar puncture when they thought I had a brain bleed but at every turn there has been no sign of any physical problems. I just feel them and feel ill. All the way along my doctor has asked and asked about stress and depression and all along I’ve argued no. But yesterday I possibly took one of my bravest steps to date and walked into the surgery and admitted I have a problem. So I finally have a diagnosis not the one I wanted but one I will have to deal with.
I can only imagine how gay people feel when they ‘come out’ but this to me feels like my ‘coming out’ I feel like I should stand on the tallest hill and scream ‘I have depression’ I feel like I should post on ‘FaceBook’ for all my friends to read ’I have depression’ but something is still stopping me. The stigma, the fear of people thinking I’ve been making up the way I have been feeling, the fear of being labelled a malingerer, the fear of being ridiculed and laughed about. As a police officer I’ve dealt with people with mental illness and there are comments made and attitudes’ displayed that I’m not sure I can handle. I’ve taken an important step but can I deal with this or will I bury it again and go back to pretending I’m okay?
I definitely feel like I’m at a cross roads and I’m currently a lost soul….
These feelings have been with me on and off as long as I can remember and I’m scared to contemplate that in order to move forwards I may need a complete change of lifestyle. I’m always in financial strife. Always have been. I’ve always used buying ‘stuff’ as my crutch. Feeling low?… go and buy something shiny and new that’ll help. Even when I know full well I do not have the money. The harsh reality is I’ve always used credit and buying 'stuff' to medicate myself. And finally I’ve realised it, probably run out of friends patience and driven the doctor to hell and back!! I have depression.
The doctor has prescribed anti-depressants and referred me for some cognitive behaviour therapy. The tablets are making me feel nauseous and more stupid than normal.
I’ve just about still got a job but the police service are initiating steps against me using a policy entitled ’unsatisfactory performance procedures’ and I’ve been advised to get legal advice and help from my ‘union’ the police federation to fight it and stick up for myself. I’m six weeks away from being put on half pay too.
All in all my life seems pretty dark at the moment. However I can see that I do have a beautiful daughter who I thank my lucky stars for and friends around me who care.
I will find a path through the maze……….. come along for the ride and help me x