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Kicking the Leaves. Saturday December 10, 2016

My children were messing about in the playground. Too old to go on the slides but young enough to race to the top of the climbing frame.

My friend and I watched and chatted. She kicked the leaves as I clutched my coffee.

I was trying to explain how I felt. The sadness. The disappointment. The anxiety. The despair.

She knows me well. She knew what was going on from the moment we all hugged at the train station.

She knows my fake smile. My fake 'life is a pile of poo but sure I'm grand' throw-away-remarks.

Very few people see through my mask.

But she does. She knows.

She looked at me and stumbled over her words.

I knew what she was going to say. What she was trying to say. I couldn't leave her alone in this.

'You're wondering if I should see a doctor?' I asked her.

The relief flooded her face. She thanked me for saying it first. She had no idea how I would react. But I wasn't upset. I wasn't insulted. She was absolutely right - I am not well at the moment and I need some help. If my stomach/arm/leg/head was sick I would not hesitate to make an appointment.

So, why am I so reluctant to see a doctor about my depression?

Even typing that word feels strange - I call it my sadness. I don't use the D word.

But my friend knew I was very low. Does that mean others will sense it too? Does that mean my acting skills are not as proficient as they were? Don't tell me my MeryI Streep impression is slipping! Is it because my friend knows me well and loves me or is it because I am actually worse than I thought I was?

The last time I went to the doctor about my mental health, she asked me how I was and I sobbed. I told her what was happening - 'My marriage is over and I am moving house with my children, my ex is full of anger and hate and I am trying to make my way in a stressful career while I'm pretending to the world that I'm okay' (or words to that effect).

She said she would be more surprised if I wasn't depressed and put me on a low-dose anti-depressant. I came off those tablets exactly six months later. I don't know if they helped. Would I have coped anyway? I think I would. It might have been a very different six months but I would have muddled through. Somehow.

I go to a fabulous therapist and I like to think that is enough for me. Therapy, my kids, my friends, chocolate, music, books and any form of water (preferably the warm sea kind but I'll take freezing sea, chlorine pool, lavender bath or imperial leather shower!)

But this time, I might need more than those. I might. I haven't made the appointment yet. If I have to, I will. I accept that acceptance is vital.

Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member.

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

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Pablo Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 6:53am

Dear Salt Water Mum, best wishes with recovering your low mood sadness. Anti depressants would be my last resort too because they have not worked for me in the past. You cannot beat a good friend/s to confide in and to help you through.
Everyone is different for sure but I myself find the spice turmeric fascinating (google is your friend). I have been using it daily for about 8 weeks and it is helping me. I am close to salt water too but at 6c degrees, I ain't going in.
all the very best. Pablo

Tutti Frutti Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 8:43am

Pablo Sorry meds didn't work for you. I just wanted to say that it can be a bit hit or miss finding one that suits. The first one they tried on me (fluoxetine) didn't work either but they moved me onto venlafaxine which does work. New meds also come out every now and again so it is worth checking what's available to be from time to time. As you say good friends can be invaluable though. Love TF x

Pablo Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 9:55am

Hi Tutti Frutti, I will try anything as I would not wish depression on my worst enemy. I tried citalopram first in 2009. Could not sleep with them and very anxious. Then i was prescriped Sertraline which nearly made me suicidal and then my old GP thought he would try something slightly different which was Mirtazapine. This did not work either and just made me fat. It was awful coming off it too. Until the medical establishment work out the problem and use proper blood testing to analyise each individual you will have hit and miss presciptions to try and find an anti depressant that works. Google is my friend and I am now pretty sure that I am in the 30% camp where anti depressants do not really work and that my problem is an over active immune system which in turn causes inflammation in my tiny brain = low mood and sometimes very low mood. I have always ran hot and emotional jolts or infections of any kind tend to kick up the low mood a few days or weeks later. At least I think I now have a handle on things and am self medicating with turmeric which is a natural anti inflammatory. There is quite a bit of news just lately inc on the BBC on immune system, inflammation and depression. Just waiting for the medical boys and girls to catch up. Good job I can touch type. I can certainly ramble. Anyways that is my tuppence worth and thank you for your nice words and thoughts. Pablo xx

Tutti Frutti Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 10:42am

I I v l . I c n w . I a . TF x

Tutti Frutti Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 10:46am

Sorry phone messing about. The above was meant to say. Pablo I guess I am lucky to have hit on an antidepressant that works for me so quickly. I can understand why you aren't pursuing it further given the awful side effects you've had. I have also seen the stuff on inflammation and depression in the news and await the outcome of this research with interest. Best wishes TF x

Jul Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 2:22pm

Hi Pablo. I have an over active immune system too. I have been diagnosed with it. I tried all the antidepressants you mention and none worked for me either. Citalopram worked once for 4 months but eventually my real self kicked in and overcame the chemicals. I tried Mirtazapine too but it made me fat and also I felt drugged all the time and dozy. I blushed too much. I envy those for whom antidepressants work but am happy for them at the same time. I shall try Turmeric. Jul xx

Jul Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 2:23pm

Hi Tutti Frutti. Is Venlafaxine an antidepressant? I wonder if I should try it. I'll google it. Jul xx

Pablo Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 6:49pm

Hi Jul, best wishes. I have not been diagnosed but over active immune system is my best guess. I would not say turmeric has completely done the trick but it is helping. Venlafaxine is a SNRI according to google so you might end up like you did with mirtazapine. Take care, Pablo xx

LP Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 7:59am

From what you're saying, it sounds like seeing your do tor would be taking action that is right for you. It doesnt mean 100% that you have decided to see if an anti depressant will help, it just means that you're going to talk about it with your doctor. If you have a doctor who you have faith in then it sounds like your friend and your gut could be right.
Also at least you've taken them before, so you're in the know which is one of the hard things out of the way.
People will have different opinions. Do what feels right for you. I'm in the camp of whatever helps and as you say for any other kind of unwellness you'd go.., not with the answer necessarily.
The same happened to me with a fairly new friend recently. She must have seen tension on my face that I wasn't aware of and asked if I was ok. It shook me a bit. I thought that things were ok given that staff meetings are tense. Under the very thin surface I was not ok. It was a heads up to look after me.
I wish you well too SWM. How lovely to have such a good friend. Hugs to you and all. LPxx

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 8:20am

Hugs back to you LP...hoping those darned staff meetings fade into the background and you can keep your head up high, knowing you do your very best. Good friends really know we are often serenely swimming on top of the surface but paddling and back peddling like mad underneath! Bear hugs xxxxx

Tutti Frutti Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 8:47am

SWM Sending hugs. I agree with everything LP has said. You can even discuss your worries about meds with your doctor and see what they say. Love TF xoxo

Orangeblossom Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 8:16am

Hi Salt Water Mum if you are on Facebook, there is a Tumeric Group that you could join. My friend added me on it & I take Tumeric capsules. Didn't realise that it was a cure all. I take it for physical pain. Good to read that you have a good therapist with whom you relate well. Love & affection Zareen

Pablo Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 9:57am

Hi Orangeblossom, I make my own Tumeric 'Bombs'. The recipes are on google. Fun making them but you can turn the kitchen orange colour if not careful. xx

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 8:17am

Oh Saltwater Mum....go. Make the appointment. Get to the appointment and just tell the doctor how you are, how you feel...discuss it, then if the goodly doctor is worth her salt (!) she will know what you may need. Then you can make the decision whether you take mess or not. I just feel that by telling us here, and telling your doctor, you are off-loading and thats a good thing....but you may just need extra help to see you through, so if it means taking medication, then so be it. As I said last week, if I had high blood pressure, I wouldn't think twice about taking meds- so we shouldn't feel guilty for taking mess for depression. Wishing you peace in your mind, SWM.
...and don't forget, Moodscopers know how you feel, but these are just our opinions - only You know what you can cope my humble opinion as a Bearofliddlebrain xxxx

Hopeful One Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 8:25am

Hi SWM- sorry to hear that you going through a depression the cause of which , in my opinion ,lie in the 'losses' you have suffered through the life changing events that you have been through. The ' talking therapies' are effective in mild to moderate depression but not so effective in so called 'clinical depression' or severe depression. At that stage the brain chemicals are in compete imbalance and need external chemical help in the shape of anti depressants to stabilise them and to allow the brain to recover. Apart from a doctor's assessment , the depth of a depression needs to scored in some way . This sets up a baseline against which we can compare progress or the lack of it.The Burns questionnaire is a good one . Any score between 50 to 75 would be considered severe or clinical . Your moodscope score is a good proxy and readily available . One would regard any score below 25% as severe and a good reason to be prescribed antidepressants . I would like to emphasise that this is my opinion and intended to help you to decide. Only you know how bad you feel .

If CBT was the talking therapy deployed then my LCBT will help. Here is a start

My goal for 2017 is to accomplish the goals of 2016 which I should have done in 2015 because I made a promise in 2014 and planned in 2013!

Mary Wednesday Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 8:45am

Nice one HO. That could have been written for me!

Tychi's Mum Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 12:59pm

Hi SWM, I agree completely with HO even though I still haven't found the right medication and/or the correct dose to keep me stable. I am four years in to my journey and on my fourth different medication. Seeking help from my GP/Community MH Team helps me feel more in control of my illness and makes me feel that I'm doing all I can to help myself get better/stable. I live in hope that we'll strike gold eventually with my meds...

Mary Wednesday Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 8:44am

I will echo the comments above. Go to see your GP. If you don't have a regular GP then ask for an appointment with the doctor in your practice who has an interest in depression and mental health. You may be able to book a double appointment so you have time to talk. The important thing to remember is that it is you who decides whether to accept the GP's recommendation and prescription. Also, not all anti-depressants are created equal. Fluoxetine didn't do it for me, citalopram is better but still just takes the edge off. There are others. And you may still decide you don't need them. I was determined for many years never to take drugs, but I am so grateful to them now. I think they may have been literal lifesavers in my case. But you are your own person. You must decide for yourself. And you know you will get support here! Sending big enveloping but gentle hugs.

Jul Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 9:03am

Dear SWM. I went to my Dr yesterday ostensibly to ask him to review my current medication and then I hoped I could go on to discuss how I was feeling. Of course it didn't work out as I planned and believe me I had planned it very carefully so that I could squeeze into the allotted time everything I needed to say in a way he would engage with! I could do with a foolproof method which allows me to come away from a Dr visit feeling I've really got my needs across rather than leaving thinking he hasn't heard a word I've said. Anyway..I love your blog SWM. Although I had a very confusing experience at the Dr yesterday, amazingly I feel better for having gone to see him. So I would always recommend a visit. Just go and see what comes out of it. The very fact that you will make an appointment, actually get one, get there, say something and leave after ten or so minutes is a very positive achievement in itself and will make you feel good about yourself. And you may get advice which really helps (just as a bonus). Great blog. Julxx

Sally Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 9:06am

SWM, time to be kind to yourself I think. Luck had it you saw your good friend at that moment and she sensed what you were really feeling. A wake up call to go and see the doctor? They are usually incredibly sympathetic about mental distress, or so I have found over the last 20 years. They probably go through it themselves anyway, being in a caring profession. Drugs are good if you are prescribed the right one. I was most reluctant at the outset, never having taken anything stronger than an aspirin , but once I crossed that anxiety barrier, I have not looked back. Just as friends take their Warfarin, or thyroid meds daily, I take a small dose of something which will keep my body and soul together and may need to for the rest of my life, but that's ok too. I have accepted that chemical imbalance is out of my control ultimately.
Good luck at the doctor's, SWM, and I do hope you get an honest and open discussion with him/ her and good advice re meds, or whatever is deemed fit. Virtual hugs and best wishes. You have had it tough...and ongoing.

the room above the garage Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 9:23am

Oh I lost my reply :-(
Try again...

Sarah yellow rose Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 9:25am

SWM, Thank you for your honest blog. I just wondered if you have ever had your vitamin D checked, GPs can do this now for patients. If low on Vitamin D it can affect your mood. I also know people who have been found to have low zinc and magnesium that it affected them. It it best to have a test though to be sure. I'm not suggesting this as an alternative to medication but it may be worth asking your Doctor or looking up on the internet. Whatever you decide, I agree, Moodscope is a safe group.

Jul Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 9:26am

Sorry to hijack your blog SWM but I would like to know if anyone takes a low dose, 10 or 20mg, of Amytriptiline for headaches and nerve pain? I am sure most of us are familiar with this old tricyclic antidepressant. However the normal does if it is used as an antidepressant is 75 to 150mg. It is quite widely prescribed off licence I believe now for nerve pain. I have been taking 10mg nightly for about 3 years as it seems to stabilise headaches and my mood (for the most part). However I happened to read that an ingredient, one that is in antihistamines, has been found to be a contributory cause of Alzheimers. So I stopped about a month ago and since then have been feeling pretty awful.Hence my visit to the GP yesterday (see above). He didn't seem to know about the Alzheimers connection but told me to stop taking it until at the very end when he said 10mg was such a small amount, I could take it! But I read that even 5mg nightly can cause or contribute to Alzhemiers. I would be very grateful to hear from anyone who takes it. Thank you. Jul xx

the room above the garage Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 9:46am

Jul I have no experience and hope someone else does. But my first thought was...are you feeling awful just at the withdrawal itself? Not necessarily because of its positive effects whilst you were taking it if you know what I mean. After 3 years your body will shout if it doesn't get what it expects (even salt or sugar) so I wondered if the changes in your life looking over those 3 years might give you a view as to whether you want to use this time to get though the adjustment and try without? If it's so it needed? Just thinking out loud...

Jul Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 12:22pm

Thank you ratg. I had thought that maybe I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms but wasn't sure. When I've taken a break from it before, I have started it again when I felt bad/ had withdrawal symptoms.The difference this time is that I have resisted restarting it. So thinking about it, I do think you are right. I hadn't really thought the whole thing through and your comment has made me. So a big thank you for helping me ratg. Love Jul xx

the room above the garage Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 9:38am

Hello SWM, I found myself wondering if I'd written this, it's me, right down to the actress and the mask. It took me years to be able to say the 'D' word. I find when I'm considering something it usually means I'm there and just need some final justification. I agree with Jul, sometimes taking that step to the doctor is enough to start feeling that a corner has been turned. Whilst I only tried meds twice (a year or two apart) and decided they weren't for me, I realised that wanting to not need them was not a downside to taking them. You are a strong and intelligent person, this is not giving up or giving in, this is saying that is what will get you through right now and later will be better. Thank you for a beautiful blog and for trusting us to hear it. Love ratg x.

Salt Water Mum Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 10:58am

Thank you to every one who has responded so far. I truly am grateful. And so many kind, helpful and insightful comments. Thank you.

There was a little last paragraph on my blog (that might have been cut due to space - brevity not being my forte!). My friend, my children and I did move away from the playground and went to feed the baby goats some leaves from our hands and we ended up squealing in delight!
See? I do like a happy ending!

I suppose I was trying to say how the loving touch of a friend can be so healing. Both a physical hug (when I feel able for it) and an understanding non-judgemental ear can pull me out of a sad slump.
Usually it does. Plus the salt water and the dark chocolate... etc !

But this time felt darker. Heavier. Deeper. I have a deep-rooted fear of meds. Why? To be very very honest - I have a deep fear of being out of control. Of being judged. Of being dependent. Of appearing weak and needy. I know intellectually none of those words even make sense. I know intellectually my fears are completely unfounded. But yet ... the feelings are real.

But I have done it once. And that both terrifies me and comforts me. I knew when I was on the edge and I took action. And I am actually proud of myself for that. Trusting my instinct.

I promise I will trust my instinct this time too.

I look forward to reading more comments (no pressure though!!)

And thank you again. What a wonderful group of people we are.


Pablo Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 11:16am

Hi SWM, just wondering where in the world your saltwater is. Mine is the north sea and it is bl**dy freezing this time of year. Happy swimming. Pablo xx

Lexi Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 2:24pm

Hi SWM, I too think baby goats are a cure for the blues :) but alas we cannot have them around all the time, unless you own a goat farm like my stepsister! :) But even then the farm comes with a lot of work...But what I really wanted to say is that I too resisted drugs for a long time. I thought that by taking them I was giving up and that I would be numb for the rest of my life. But the reality is that I think our society places that ridiculous thoughts into our heads, that our depression is made up and we should be able to heal ourselves, snap out of it, change how we feel. But if my thoughts and ideas and energy levels are caused by syntaxes not firing properly or low levels of seretonin how can I change that by willing it not to be so? I too have been dealing with the mental and financial strain of a marriage come to its end. I cannot deal with all the things in front of me when I fall so low as to contemplate suicide. I did try several different therapies before finding one that worked for me: a low dose escitalopram that keeps me level so that I am able to deal with my stress. I am not numb and it does not keep me from feeling sad but the sadness doesn't plummet like it did before the medication. I too have a wonderful therapist and my therapy is a daily routine of prescribed things I know that help me: walks, eating right, quiet time, etc. I am sorry for rambling on. I just wanted to let you know that I hear what your feeling and like others I don't want you to suffer. xo Lexi

Salt Water Mum Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 12:02pm

Hey Pablo,
My salt water is the Irish Sea and yes, it is bl**dy freezing too!
Usually, I curtail my salt water immersions (!) during the few v cold winter months and walk by the sea and paddle instead. But, there was a mild spell recently so I braved the elements - wooooow, it was freezing, but exhilarating. I do an Xmas swim as well - for the fun.
Next life - a mermaid !
My new year's resolution for the past three years has been to learn to scuba dive.
Something entirely and completely just for me.
I have not done it yet.
Here's hoping... and splashing !

Karin Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 12:28pm

Dear Courageous Salt Water Mum,
I've found reiki very useful for me as a way to give me energy and cope with going through tough times (divorce, move...). First I had a session every three months and only came back when I had no energy left. Then I started going to a session every month. Then I found I actually had energy to start building up my life.

At each session I got to tell my reiki therapist what was troubling me in my life and got talk to a great listener. And then the light energy of the reiki gave my body and soul warmth and love. It helped me let go of burden's I was carrying and I felt easier and lighter at mind. Little by little, as I got ready for it, I started to see what I wanted to do and how I wanted to relate to the various challenges and benefits of my life. Yes I even started to see benefits.

For me this was a wonderful way to recovery. I have also learnt to reiki myself and use it every day. I wish you to the very best on your path. I think it is great that you share with us here. You are so not alone.

Lots of love to you,

Tychi's Mum Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 1:12pm

Hi SWM, Karin is are courageous. I think that we all are actually.
We all have had, and continue to have difficult journeys. My therapist (who is fantastic) often tells me that I amaze her with how resilient I am. But, we all are...we're striving (or in my case, gritting my teeth) to get through the lows and then re-engaging with life and enjoying the good times. Although I wish I'd never become ill, the good times sure do feel good when you've come back from the depths of despair.
I'm so grateful to Moodscope and all of you for sharing your experiences, insights and thoughts.
Wishing you all a bright, wintry, sunshine day and for those of us that are really struggling, please remember....this will pass, this will pass, this will pass....

Tychi's Mum Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 1:12pm

Hi SWM, Karin is are courageous. I think that we all are actually.
We all have had, and continue to have difficult journeys. My therapist (who is fantastic) often tells me that I amaze her with how resilient I am. But, we all are...we're striving (or in my case, gritting my teeth) to get through the lows and then re-engaging with life and enjoying the good times. Although I wish I'd never become ill, the good times sure do feel good when you've come back from the depths of despair.
I'm so grateful to Moodscope and all of you for sharing your experiences, insights and thoughts.
Wishing you all a bright, wintry, sunshine day and for those of us that are really struggling, please remember....this will pass, this will pass, this will pass....

Leah Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 9:55pm

You write so honestly and poetically.Saltwater conjours up an image of wet sand on my toes, windmangled hair and salt on my warm skin watching my children giggling as they chase the waves.

I trust you will find the right path for yourself and am so glad you have shared with us. Your writing skill is a key to recovery because many can not express what they are feeling as well as you do.

Keep making waves!

Salt Water Mum Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 11:43pm

Thank you all for such caring and understanding comments.
I have enjoyed reading every one.
Thank you,
Virtual hugs to all,

Hazel Sat, Dec 10th 2016 @ 11:59pm

Dear Salt w.m. and Pablo,
I'm really interested in the thought that there is a connection between inflammation and depression. Three years ago I was diagnosed with rhematoid arthritis and ever since I've been on immune supressing medication I've been feeling better in myself. I had been very low before this happened. I also add tumeric to my morning porridge with cinnamon, ginger and alspice. The other thing I seem to think helps is fishoils. It's six years since I took medication, but then I was on Olanzapine for just a few months. Side effect is it raises your cholesterol. Thank you for all you shared today.

David Sun, Dec 11th 2016 @ 2:07am

I like the ending that there wasn't room for: you, your children and your friend feeding the baby goats and "squealing in delight". There's just as much a 'message' there as in "I accept that acceptance is vital"; perhaps a richer one.

Are not the best moments ones where we manage to lose ourselves in something outside our own self-tormenting heads? In something seemingly small and 'trivial'.

What moments of happiness do we remember? Rarely is it the big moments. For me, at least, it's usually little moments; for example, seeing my teenage daughter singing to herself as she decorated the Christmas tree.

As for the goats, animals (of the right kind!) can calm us down, with their tranquillity, their saneness, their making-do; as Whitman wrote:

"I think I could turn and live with animals,
they are so placid and self-contain'd,
I stand and look at them long and long."

It's a long time since I felt utter despair. At the time, nothing consoled me. I found my way out, I think, thanks to the care and concern of someone who loved me. And later I went through psychoanalysis for a while to understand myself better, to try to 'make the unconscious conscious'. I also found meditation helpful. But I suppose we all have to find what works for us: psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioural therapy, reiki, love, finding a purpose that transcends oneself, talking therapy, physical exercise, anti-depressants, yoga, etc ... or a combination, whatever works.

But I wonder if what's important is not so much to find 'the solution', as to find 'a' solution, one possible one, and commit to it, trust it, throw ourself into it – perhaps the solution is not so much in what we choose as in the act of active choice and self-committing – to something outside us.

As is often said, you can't chase happiness. Happiness just happens. But doesn't it usually happen when we lose ourselves in or commit ourselves to something outside us? Which leads me to think:
We will not find happiness in our own head.

The trouble is, when we're in the deepest despair, it seems that nothing anyone says, no matter how well-intentioned or even true, can reach us. It's like telling someone to lift themself up by their own bootstraps. To anyone who feels such despair, I can only say that I once experienced it, and came out of it. I hope you do too.

Otherwise, I wish everyone in this community many moments ahead of innocent immersion in whatever helps to bring you a little happiness.

Salt Water Mum Sun, Dec 11th 2016 @ 8:49pm

Thank you Moodscopers - I came back to re-read the insightful and caring comments again and - there are more! Thank you all,


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