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Depression's Twin Sister. Wednesday November 4, 2015

Well, the last time I felt this constantly nauseous, I was sitting on the loo watching two blue lines appear on the little white stick. And the last time the stomach cramps were this bad it was the norovirus!

So, what was it? I was fairly sure that, after two children, I had found out where they were coming from and put a stop to it, so I wasn't pregnant. And I didn't feel ill particularly. Maybe I had suddenly become wheat intolerant.

So I gave up wheat. Things got slightly better, but not much.

It was my GP who helpfully (and far too cheerfully, I felt) said, "Oh yes; nausea and stomach pains are common symptoms of anxiety."

"Oh." (I wasn't conscious of feeling particularly anxious.)

"And anxiety is often a forerunner to depression or accompanies it." (Looking down at my notes and nodding wisely.)


And she was right, blast it. After three weeks of feeling sick and having my insides audition for internet troll status, the dark pit opened up under me, or the leviathan swam along and swallowed me up, or the black dog sat on me – choose which analogy works best for you.

That was two years ago.

This time when it happened I was a little more prepared. And attentive. Yes – I now noticed how I have frequent nightmares about turning up for a professional engagement having forgotten my equipment, about chasing a train down the track because I have missed it by seconds, about watching my children fall into the river and get swept away (very silly – they are both exceptionally strong swimmers).

So this time it wasn't quite such a surprise when the depression turned up, hit me over the head and dragged me off into the darkness.

Hey ho – here we go again.

On the plus side, the stomach pains have gone away, as has the nausea. I mean, I don't have an appetite particularly, but I'm not having to mainline ginger ale just in order to cope. And the insomnia means no nightmares. There's always a bright side!

And next time it happens I will be prepared. I will know what's coming and will start the medication earlier.

Any new information that helps us learn more about our condition and how to manage it is good. Maybe not always pleasant, but positive all the same.

I'd encourage us all to pay attention to our symptoms, to monitor ourselves and keep records. The daily Moodscope test helps with that, especially if we use the note function with it. I believe it's the responsible thing to do.

We may not like the results of the test, but ignoring our symptoms doesn't make them go away. Ignorance is not bliss, ignorance is putting your head in the sand like the ostrich, who leaves his bottom out as an invitation to get kicked.

I don't know about you, but I don't like getting kicked around.

If anyone's going to do the kicking, it's going to be me!

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Barbara Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 6:34am

Very, very good, Mary. X from one bipolar writer to another.

Mary Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 1:35pm

Thank you Barbara. There are rather a lot of us around, aren't there!

Eva Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 7:44am

Hi Mary thanks for that, I have stopped using the note facility as it doesn't work on my Android phone (using Chrome) and I forget to go back in on my laptop later, so I currently just have the scores... I have trouble when down being consistent with activities that encounter obstacles like this. If it all goes smoothly then great, otherwise I do what I can but can't seem to make that extra effort or even remember to... But I guess at least I am continuing to score.

LillyPet Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 8:09am

Morning Mary,
It's monitoring my moods has definitely helped with lessening the symptoms of pms as it's predictable. It's alsi taught me that too much stress leads to anxiety and prolonged anxiety can bring on an episode of depression. I used to think that it was something that happened TO me, that I passively had no control over. Now I know a bit more I can track how things are going, avoid too much stress ( not push myself as hard or put my physical well being last because I'm busy, or at least recognise that I'm hesding that way) and make adjustments.
I too feel anxiety in my stomach and it can be in my throat too. The body is a wonderful thing, warning us that adjustments need to be made. Practice increases confidence and lessens fear. Support, by being held in mind, a space to reflect and guided to figure out for ourselves what works for us is crucial.
It's so interesting that the very act of keeping our scores in itself improves our moods. I am etenally grateful for Moodscope and the circle of friends that are there for us even if just to listen or disagree.
Thank you as always for showing us the light Mary :) Hugs and good wishes to all. LP xx

Debs Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 11:46am

Hey LP - I agree, we have more control than we realise. In fact, I've heard said that depression comes up when we feel ike the things that have happened or are happening are out of our control. Often the simple act of saying 'no, I'm not helpless, I can do something about this' and then breaking the situation down into simple steps can help give a sense of being back in control. I had this thought this morning when I was getting upset about my son and his behaviour the past couple of days: my mind went outomatically into depressed, helpless mode and said 'oh god, this is too hard, I can't cope, I'm useless' but then I stopped myself and said 'ok, there are things you can do - stop, think, write a list and then take action'. And then I read about people having similar experiences and bought a book about dealing with toddlers mindfully which really resonated. Action is soooo important. Love to you hun, thanks for the reminder that we are the ones in charge ;-) xxx

danielle Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 11:59am

the out of control feeling is awful. My psychiatrist said something to me which helped. With the anxiety i used to get overwhelming urges to do a grand theft auto style 360 spin in my car everytime i went on the motorway, or drive into a wall at 90mph - not in a wanting to end it way, but more to feel the thrill. This scared me a lot as it felt v out of control but he said to me when we are v anxious our body is in fight or flight mode which is a mode for survival so even when we feel out of control our body is in the most control it will ever be. we just have to hope the body outweighs the mind!

LillyPet Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 9:14pm

That's great Debs, you turned it right around! The book sounds great, I might check it out! Pxxx

LillyPet Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 9:17pm

I like that danielle, about fight or flight and feeling out of control, yet reminding ourselves that our bodies are actually more in control. Brilliant! Thanks. Px

Hopeful One Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 8:37am

Hi Mary - fantastic post. The link between anxiety and depression is the word "loss " for depression is one's reaction to past loss and anxiety is our reaction to future loss. The severity of both and the trigger point depends to a large part on the make up our personality and character interacting with our loss resulting in different signs and symptoms. This means that a particular loss will create different reactions in different people which is why a " one size fits all " approach will not work . There may be some specific types of depression and anxiety in which no particular sense of loss can be identified but I maintain that if one looks hard enough one will find it if one looks hard enough.

danielle Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 8:48am

Hi Mary another brilliant blog - but I am sorry you are meeting with the twins again - they are not the most pleasant of visitors! I would agree that monitoring symptoms is key. When I am well again and reflecting on an episode, me and the OH tend to reflect on what the key indicating symptoms were at the beginning - the warning signs if you like. For me it is disturbed sleeping, with nightmares, getting snappy over very silly things (the worst was breaking down in floods of tears because i had forgotten to buy a can of chickpeas to go in a stew - no problem as we lived above a shop at the time, but you cannot reason logically with an anxious mind!) and cleaning and tidying frantically and getting very grumpy at little things not being done. Also comes to severe obsessing over everything and anything - what will the weather be like every hour of each day (I sit in an office 8 hours of that and visit my horse for 2 hours so it doesnt really matter anyway!) - did i upset so and so as they havent responded to my text in under 24 seconds - have i got everything completely organised and planned for that two day trip we are taking in 18months and have i planned our annual holidays for the next 15 years? it all sounds so ridiculous when I am well, but is very real at the time and all consuming. Now my OH knows these signs he can gently ask if I am okay, keep an eye on me and nudge me to meditate and practice my techniques which help and take care of me. I struggle to see the symptoms until afterwards as it is so all encompassing. but my advice to anyone new to the terrible twins, or anyone struggling is to divulge those symptoms to someone you spend regular time with so they can hopefully catch you before you fall next time xxxx

Debs Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 11:39am

Oh Danielle you did make me laugh with your post - that is exactly me, flipping out over what might happen when my son goes to university and what to do about my mums birthday next summer.... cRAZEy ;-) Really good idea to divulge the symptoms to someone close - I'll do that. xxx

danielle Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 12:02pm

Its so silly isnt it Debs - and when I feel well I can see how ridiculous it all is! This year is my first year ever of hosting Christmas for my family as we just bought our first house. I already have most of the table decorations made, the food menu planned, the beds arrangement planned, the towels and bedding picked out, the house decorations planned, the party games planned! so silly! One time I was sat at work getting very worked up as we didnt know where we would go on holiday in 2017 (I know no one who does know this!!) and text my OH with a range of selections - I dont know how he puts up with me! xx

Mary Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 1:25pm

Danielle - this is brilliant. I hope you don't mind having made me laugh!

danielle Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 2:37pm

Of course not Mary- we are here to laugh together :) I laugh at myself reflecting on how ridiculous it is!

Hopeful One Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 8:49am

Hi Frankie- thank you for being so kind of to mention me in dispatches in yesterday's blog which I thought was excellent.

Here is a laugh to share between You , Mary and RATG( if they both read this) it's an old one and maybe you might have herd it before , in which case spookiest to all.

A woman got on a bus holding a baby. The bus driver said, " That's the ugliest baby I've EVER seen!" In a huff, the woman slammed her fare into the fare box and took an aisle seat near the rear of the bus. She fumed for a few stops and started getting really worked up. The man seated next to her sensed that she was agitated and asked her what was wrong. "The bus driver insulted me!" she fumed The man sympathized and said, "You go and give him a piece off your mind . He shouldn't say insulting things to the passengers." "You're right!" she said. "I think I'll go back up there and give him a piece of my mind." "That's a good idea," the man said. "Here, let me hold your little monkey for you!"

the room above the garage Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 12:41pm

:-D Bravo HO bravo! Merci!

Mary Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 1:29pm

Yes - someone once said that you cannot make an enemy of a mother by praising her child. Especially laughing at this as my youngest used to be so pretty and (I hope) will be pretty again - but just at the moment she is going through that awkward stage of dishevelled hair, spots, ungainly limbs and enormous teeth. She's not quite a monkey/chimpanzee but she wouldn't win beauty pageants for sure.

Anonymous Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 8:59am

Depression could be a forerunner to anxiety. It's difficult to know which came first. It's like whether insomnia causes depression or depression causes insomnia. If I feel anxious , it's because being depressed I think I won't be able to cope. Many people have the occasional bad night and many, the occasional bout of anxiety but neither state remains and becomes chronic as it does with me/us. It surely must be a very complex thing and depend on personality traits, heredity factors and circumstances. I agree severe anxiety and depression go hand in hand but I have never found a way to keep a handle on the anxiety. I find stress levels a bit easier to try to control. But I am not terribly successful even at this. Ratg's reframing is being applied at the moment.

danielle Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 9:12am

I have known many people say they experience them together. I get terrible anxiety, and whilst it is present i do feel very down and hopeless and at times have been suicidal but this only lasts a very short time - maybe half a day or a day at most. My anxiety goes in phases and passes and comes back quickly, sometimes i can feel awful for an hour, then fine, then awful and so on. so is this really depression? i have never thought of it as depression as i was under the impression it lasted longer but maybe i am wrong?

danielle Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 9:12am

if you struggle with the anxiety i have found meditation good, there is a good app called headspace. i also find crocheting helpful and being with animals

Debs Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 12:36pm

I think Danielle, it is what it is.... I often hear people talk about depression as a thing that comes for a period of weeks or months and then goes. Mine on the other hand can be present for a few days, then go, then be back again for a day and then leave etc. And for me it goes hand in hand with anxiety. So it could be depression or it might not be - but I think the coping strategies are the same whatever label you put on it. meditation, relaxation, yoga, breathing - they all help for both conditions. xx

Leah Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 9:01pm

Anon, I think it is interesting the connection between insomnia and depression. I found your blog very helpful. You have given me a lot to think about. Thanks.

The Gardener Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 8:59am

Don't know why you are surprised at stomach problems as precursor to depression. Where did the expression 'worry guts' come from. My b-in-law, a brilliant scientist but not enough common sense to come in out of the rain always has some sort of problem IBS, can't sleep - endless pills. He was here during one of my more serious worry times - and he was listing all the more serious possiblities. I yelled at him that he was a miserable old pessimist. He said it was 'risk assessment', worry guts all the same. Every ailment he has he is a walking Lancet magazine about it. He was put on Warfarin equivalent - straight on phone to me - he'd read that he might have a stroke in the next few days. We took him to India a few years ago - fetched up in an 'eco' joint, called it Green Hell. Mr TG and I went for a walk, came back, b-in-law asleep on terrace, blood pouring from under his watch strap. Leeches - and there was no way out for 2 days. I loathe the things, and have to put a cushion over my face when I watch African Queen. Yurgh. Think higher thoughts, Mary, and pass the pain to your head. That's not funny - like being a pain in the neck, I've got one and am one. I think it's going to be one of those days.

Mary Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 1:32pm

Oh bless you! Urgh to the leeches, but I like the idea of a worry wort maintaining that it's just risk assessment! Trouble is that my "risk assessment" is all subconscious. I honestly don't *feel* worried - but my tummy disagrees!

Alex Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 9:05am

Morning, Mary,

You brought back some memories for me.....anxiety always goes straight to my innards. Back in the days when I had to call my mother, I'd be pooping like a.....I can't think of a word: let's just say more than three times. Every time. And I'd have my list of things to say( otherwise there was silence) which in theory should have lasted half an hour,but was always used up in less than five minutes.

And yes....the being prepared thing: gents, please don't read this bit if "women's stuff" isn't your cup of tea....last time I had a smear test, same s always, very, very difficult and painful(theories s to why include not having had children) ...anyway, for the first time, the nurse suggested that next time, I call the doc, and have a couple of weeks on oestrogen beforehand, which should help(Im 60, had an early menopaws in my mid 30s which lasted for ten horrible years with every variation on every possibility of anything that goes with it. That, plus having had lasertreatment for pre cancer just before that, and that adds to the anxiety anyway) on a tangent, but I hope what I said was on topic....

Mary Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 1:33pm

Indeed. Any woman's stuff like that is always very anxiety inducing

Alice Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 10:47am

Hello Mary, Thank you for posting this. It does help to have clues as to what's going on.... Why don't we see it ourselves? Why does the physical body have to interpret the mental processes? Crazy!! I suffer badly from the old upset stomach and learn to expect it under certain circumstances. When it doesn't happen - in those circumstances - it's a major achievement for me! I am sure this will help loads of folk. Love Alice xx

Debs Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 11:37am

This is a great blog Mary, thanks. I went to yoga yesterday (the first time in a long time) and was reminded (re-mind-ed) how our body is really the key to our wellbeing not our mind.

The teacher took us through some yoga sequences that slowed our breath and got us in connection with our bodies in just a couple of minutes. The effect was so beautiful and calming. She followed by saying 'tight breath equals tight mind' which I am going to repeat to myself often. Last night, after wrestling my little boy to bed getting upset with the situation I definitely had a tight mind. I was stressed and anxious and my thoughts were bubbling away 'This isn't what parenting is about; I'm not doing a good enough job, he deserves a better mum' etc etc.

This morning I reminded myself of the tight breath, tight mind and started to breathe deeply. I'm not saying I'm any kind of expert but like you, I am determined to listen to my body and heed its warning signs. My depression and anxiety are tangled unfortunately so one can quickly follow the other but I hope that by doing more and more to get in tune with my body, I'll find I can listen to my head and quieten my mind. xxx

danielle Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 12:04pm

Thanks for this debs I will try and remember 'tight breath tight mind'. On a similar vein my psychiatrist says 'If in doubt, breath out' xx

Debs Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 12:32pm

I love that - so simple and so memorable ;-) Thanks hun xx

the room above the garage Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 12:40pm

Thank you Marydoll, I'm a head in the sand perform and so I found the mental picture of leaving my bahooky out to be kicked very helpful!!

Mary Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 5:13pm

Glad I could help you. 'Cos you always help me!

Lexi Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 4:12pm

Thank you Mary. I wasn't going to record my score today because I knew it would be low, a plummet from a long time of high scores.I don't know what it is - this time of year, being busy and needing a break or what - but you reminded me that ignoring the signs doesn't make it go away. A part of me thinks I should push through; another part says to rest and acknowledge it. I am scared to acknowledge it for fear of igniting a long time of depression and for losing clients etc. But really what I want to do today is pull up the covers and cancel my appointments and if I was really listening to myself to give myself the break to let this ride. Not that I'm getting alot of work done by sitting and staring out the window!

Mary Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 5:13pm

Sometimes we just need that duvet day! This last go with me however, lasted 42 days (and I am so grateful it didn't last longer) Please e kind to yourself Lexi. Early night with hot water bottle or equivalent and permission to do nothing... As that annoying Disney princess sings "Let it go!"

Lexi Fri, Nov 6th 2015 @ 12:14pm

Duvet day - I love it. And since I have a 7 year old princess living with me I can hear that song 24/7 - but now I will listen with a knowing least for the first 100 times I hear it...Thanks Mary!

The Gardener Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 5:49pm

Lots of talk above about meditating, yoga and general relaxation exercises. Never coped with them - although I suppose watching a tumbling stream or a fantastic sea-scape could count. I tried yoga once, We did the beginners exercises and then it was lie down and 'listen with mother' time. The teacher had a silly soft voice, and I think she said 'Now ladies, imagine you've just come back from market loaded down with heavy shopping, just lower it gently and let go'. I was so incensed at the presumption that we were all housewives, and did not let the tradesmen deliver the goods (those were the days) that I think I walked out. Next was a psychotherapist (also a priest, and excellent) but I followed a solid middle-aged woman in, and as I went out, a clone came in. I said 'I'm not one of those' thanked him nicely, never went back, and probably went and bought some wacky clothes, so he was successful!

readerwriter Wed, Nov 4th 2015 @ 7:50pm

For me Moodscope scores helped me spot that my head was in the sand and my *rse was getting a kicking. Like others I am really good at missing all the early warning signals. Maybe that's what the bodily symptoms are for. SSRI drugs have been life saving for me,although I always fight the idea I need them again. I heard that there are 5HT receptors in the gut and the brain, and these are involved in the depression/anxiety pathways. Maybe our distinction between mind and body is unnecessary? Can't have one without the other. Many many thanks for the support.....and shared stories

Ruth Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 1:28pm

Hi Debs
Loving your blog today.You sum up our situation exactly.Reminds me of trying to put play dough into a square mould when you want a round rose etc.
I can only say that,being told that I am a 'model patient' I just tend to go with the flow.I put on the mask-when needed.I hide and have a duvet day-when needed and so on.Sometimes it works;if not then I react by being proactive and see where that leads me.
We have choice-to be who we are.There are no rules however do we set ourselves rules?
I know I do but as we know there will always be change we will always have a choice,to be who we want to be when we want to be and with whom.Thats the exciting part of depression...??????

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