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April


Preparing to Stay Well. Thursday April 27, 2017

Five months, that was the length of my last very low period. It came in gradually... there some days, gone the next. I don't fit within any NHS guidelines to qualify for help or support and I'm wary of antidepressants after my last three prescriptions left me suffering so many side affects that I didn't know how to deal with anything. I know that I need to do what I can to help myself and continue to be there for my young family.

Coming out of a bad patch gives a new clarity to things, like the way new colours in Spring can look twice as bright as the flowers do in Summer. I feel more sociable again, easy does it with the social calendar though, I've learnt not to run head first into a hedonistic booking of coffees and evenings out, just go steady, I might feel better but I'm still in a recovery and there could still be a bad day or two.

So this time, whilst I'm in the throes of peace time within myself, I'm going to shore up my defenses. That might sound like I'm being overly pessimistic expecting the worst to happen but I'm really not. It's a positive thing, I'm preparing to help myself be well.

I'm looking at recipes from The Happy Kitchen #goodmoodfood and trying them out whilst I have the clarity and appetite to do so, I've tried a few that are already becoming staples for me and will be easy to make however I am feeling... sweet potato and chickpea curry!

I'm trying to do some different forms of exercise whilst I can motivate myself. I went to a Clubbercise class on Saturday, neon face paints and glow sticks were obligatory and it's in the dark so less awkwardness! I went on a 'Mental Health Mates' walk and was immeasurably lifted by meeting with other people with the same issues as well as getting some fresh air in a new setting, these take place monthly in different towns and cities across the country.

I've joined a local WI, I've always wanted to, but lately my self confidence had been so low that I wasn't up to any kind of new group thing. I know that I get a buzz from learning new things and being creative so I'm hoping that if I hit another low patch I'll still be able to get myself to a meeting and feel some benefit.

Two months ago I'd have found one of the above enough to cope with and I know I can be guilty of overdoing things when I get a window of mental clarity. Like many other people, if I'm not going to qualify for help with my mental health problems then I'm going to have to cast my net as far and wide as possible whilst I'm able and stockpile all the resources that I can ready for when the next storm hits.

Lizzie
A Moodscope member.

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


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Comments

Molly Thu, Apr 27th 2017 @ 4:16am

I too do not fit into any guidelines. I was working when I was diagnosed and this was held against me. If I could work then how could I be ill, was their theory. This has totally backfired as I was made redundant and then couldn't pick myself back up. So now maybe they will put me in the category for help? Cannot be bothered to even go there anymore !! Have not had good experiences with GPs or psychiatrists.....I have BPD so the mood swings are more frequent than with bipolar, so I am led to believe. Not sure which is worse, but I get the odd day when I feel I can do absolutely anything, so that day I will clean, carry out chores, etc, go a bit manic, sometimes I want to just dance around the room. I don't get many of those days though. I make the most of it when it comes as I think you are saying. I can so relate to your post Lizzie, and if the high periods for you last longer, it is even more of a blow when it all falls down. It does sound like you are coping really well though with positive vibes and ways to deal with the next downfall. And isn't it great that we appreciate the good things more (when we are feeling well), rather than take them for granted. With love Molly xx

Lizzie Thu, Apr 27th 2017 @ 6:36am

Thank you for commenting Molly, isn't it such a help when you identify with someone else? It is more of a blow when you're down again but like you said, I really don't take the good days for granted. Take care Molly x

Molly Fri, Apr 28th 2017 @ 12:47am

It is a relief Lizzie, when you find someone who feels the same. Without being rude to anyone, unless you have experienced the mental health system, only then you know how bad it is and how under funded they are. You have to be in a bad state to get any help. As you say, it's there if you really need it, like if you attempt suicide or something. I told them I have never been suidical and I think for that comment I was led on my merry way ! I still feel terrible but I'm not going to lie about suicidal thoughts. No help out there ! Love Molly xx

Molly Fri, Apr 28th 2017 @ 12:54am

Just to add, I also find Moodscope really helpful and friends that care and relying on anything other than 'the system". It's great to be able to air views and feelings on here and read other people's posts, it really helps xx

danielle Thu, Apr 27th 2017 @ 7:16am

It sounds like youre picking yourself up very well Lizzie. Lots of things to stay positive about and to help you stay well. I wish you a lovely long period of wellness. I do urge you to see a different GP as I don't understand how they can put you into a category of not needing help- ridiculous! If you feel like life is difficult at times then they should be there for you x

Sally Thu, Apr 27th 2017 @ 8:18am

Yes, why is it you don't qualify for any help, Lizzie. I should've thought if you go to your g.p. and say it like it is, s/he would refer you, or suggest something? Maybe just a question of going back until you're heard? I don't know...
Your suggestions and tips were all good, and I like your turn of phrase "a window of mental clarity". It's a good, visual image. Thank you.

Lizzie Thu, Apr 27th 2017 @ 8:28am

It's definitely a case of the community mental health team being over stretched and because I can 'function' I'm not a high priority. I can go on a waiting list for counselling or attend a local 6 week course about mental health. So I guess I could access something and if ever I was in crisis I'm confident the help would be there. I suppose that's why I find Moodscope so valuable amongst other things, and I do access some counselling that I sought out myself :-) That is a massive help to me!

Hopeful One Thu, Apr 27th 2017 @ 8:33am

Hi Lizzie- you seem to have ticked all the right boxes to keep you stable. I would agree with the others to try and see a GP . Ask to fill a PHQ questionnaire (all surgeries should have one) which will give the GP an objective view of your state of mind and refer you to the appropriate agency.There is no 'one size fits all' when it comes to prescriptions for mental health so you may need to try different ones until you find one that suits you.

The Joke Squadron would add ' Laugh whenever you can.It's cheap medicine' Lord Byron.

This is the first instalment of notices that bring a smile.

In a restaurant:

TOILET OUT OF ORDER. PLEASE USE FLOOR BELOW

In a Laundromat:

AUTOMATIC WASHING MACHINES: PLEASE REMOVE ALL YOUR CLOTHES WHEN THE LIGHT GOES OUT

In a London department store:

BARGAIN BASEMENT UPSTAIRS

the room above the garage Thu, Apr 27th 2017 @ 9:16am

Ah hello my friend, it's great to see you :-)

LP Thu, Apr 27th 2017 @ 10:44pm

Ha ha! Love them! Thanks HO :) x

Eva Thu, Apr 27th 2017 @ 8:44am

Hi Lizzy you've built a really good strong system there incorporating lots of the aspects that you need to stay healthy, I've done the same while healthy and its really set me in good stead for the bad times, mostly because the habits and trends are already there so they are easy to carry on with when ill, and although I have dropped something every now and again, I tend to pick them up again because I miss the routine.

I looked for a mental health mates walk up here in Scotland but there aren't any groups here yet. I'll think about setting one up when I am healthier or may be one will be set up by then.

I've not used the NHS for counselling, all 3 times I've needed counselling for some reason I've never even bothered seeing my gp, I've been fortunate enough to have the funds so have just gone and gotten help, I wouldn't advocate not seeing your gp, in principle, but for some reason it didn't occur to me...

Left notes for another Sally and Mary on yesterday's blog.

Eva Thu, Apr 27th 2017 @ 9:01am

And a note for Dee on Hope Dashed blog

the room above the garage Thu, Apr 27th 2017 @ 9:23am

Hello Lizzie, I love this post for lots of reasons, but my main one is this...I believe one of the biggest jumps forward within mental illness is precisely what you have described. It's both acceptance that it's around and, importantly, using the better time to make progress in all the ways. I believe this is incredibly healthy and this preparing and "shoring up of defences" provides a space. It means when a bad time hits it can be seen from a slight distance and when that happens it is no longer 'us' but something happening to us. That can be a game changer. You have made an enormous leap and you will never go back. Thank you for highlighting a very important marker. Fantastic! Love ratg x.

Orangeblossom Thu, Apr 27th 2017 @ 9:53am

Hi Lizzie thanks for your very helpful & informative blog. I appreciate it immensely. All good wishes

LP Thu, Apr 27th 2017 @ 10:31pm

Hi Lizzie,
Your blog follows yesterdays so well for me. I love the idea of squirreling away lots of lovely bits and pieces for a rainy day. Prepared for all weathers. Thank you. LP xx

Tutti Frutti Fri, Apr 28th 2017 @ 8:58am

Hi Lizzie
Thanks for this and I totally agree that it's a good idea to shore up the defences when reasonably well in order to be able to ride out the next period of illness more quickly. I have bipolar and have been in hospital twice but the second time was much much shorter than the first time (after my daughter was born). I think because I wasn't so seriously ill, I learned a lot the second time about staying stable. I hope the things I've? now put in place might be enough to delay the next manic episode and perhaps to reduce it to hypomania rather than full blown mania so that I can be treated as an outpatient. I am sorry that the state of NHS mental health services means that you weren't offered anything or at least nothing which would be quick enough to be helpful. Well done for everything you put in place to recover on your own and help you stay well. One place I found more immediate help in my first depressive episode when my GP just kept prescibing Prozac (which psychiatrists have subsequently said doesn't work as an antidepressant for me) was self help books. I read a CBT book called feeling good by David Burns which was really helpful. I think it is now out of print but you can still get it second hand or you can get an updated version the Feeling good hand book. Anyway thanks for the blog. Love TF x

Nicco Sat, Apr 29th 2017 @ 4:28pm

Hi Lizzi - so glad you're finding positive things to do while you're well enough to store up for when you're not so good. I think that's a really sensible and positive thing to do. I try to do the same but I tend to overdo things when I feel well (I have M.E. & Fibromyalgia & the depression that goes along with them, among other things), so I tend to crash a bit afterwards, but learning to pace myself is a bit of a challenge. However, when I feel well and (dare I say it) my heart feels lifted, I tell myself to hang on to that feeling so that when the storm comes I can draw on it - ok so I may not be able to get that absolutely wonderful feeling back at that time but I can at least remember that I did feel very good so I can tell myself that I can feel good again, because when I'm in it it's hard to remember wheat it's like to feel out of it and well again. I hope that makes sense. I'm having a mental picture of face paints and glow sticks at a fitness class which is making me smile! I also love the notices by H.O!

Lizzie Sun, Apr 30th 2017 @ 8:27pm

Thank you for comments :-)
Had some not so good days this last week and so my blog popping up was well timed! And H-O you made me smile, thank you!
Lots of little things in the toolbox that might help, used walking listening to podcasts (BBC one Rachel Kelly) and hot hot bath this evening. xx

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