living with depression

severe

…. and there is no rest for decent people trying to do the best job possible.

Last year we suffered at the hands of the tenant who lived above the shop we volunteer at and her stupid mates. She made the mistake of getting involved with someone she had gone to school with. We warned her not to get involved with him as he is trouble, her dad warned her as did a number of people who know his reputation. He threatened her one day so she split from him and he decided it was a good idea to smash the shop windows. The man was arrested soon afterwards and stupidly denied this until he was shown CCTV footage proving he had smashed the windows. He was charged and went to court a couple of weeks later where he was ordered to pay us compensation which will take about two years to pay.

The next night the tenant took an overdose so the police broke in the street door and the flat door. When the shop was burgled a few months previously the burglar(s) didn’t do much damage compared to the police. We had booked a holiday months before from the 23rd April 2017 so we weren’t happy. In the meantime the windows and doors were dealt with and the tenant got new keys. Five days later she took another overdose and we were obviously still away.

After that the brother of the idiot who smashed the shop windows smashed one of the shop windows then on another day broke one of the flat windows. Almost a year on the only insurance that has been paid out is for the flat window.

We came to an arrangement to pay the glazing firm who came out twice but he still took us to court. We offered to pay him £10 a week minimum which he agreed to by email and through the court. This was fine then he decided to take the case to the county court so we went to speak to the bailiff after receiving correspondence. He rang the glazier who admitted after being asked five times if there was an arrangement in place. The bailiff told him that he couldn’t do this to us as there is an agreement in place so it didn’t go anywhere. The lying shyster then went to the high court and we, again, received correspondence so the county court dealt with it and as far as we were concerned that was that.

We came on holiday on Monday and on Thursday we got a phone call as a bailiff was there demanding we pay £1,861 or he would ‘shut us down’ and ‘change the locks’. A bailiff cannot do this if there is a dispute, which there is, and the volunteers should have challenged this. We aren’t disputing there is a debt but what we are disputing is the amount owed. What should have happened was I paid the remaining debt owed but not costs.

The glazier is a liar and what he has done is fraudulent. I can’t prove that we have made payments, it’s in the court paperwork that it has been agreed that we pay £10 pw and at the time we didn’t think to tell the other volunteers to search for the email I printed off where he accepted payments of £10 pw. It has caused me so much distress I would rather be dead than alive. I haven’t done anything wrong, I have kept the glazier informed of what’s happening and I have been making payments to the man. All because he regrets accepting my offer he is making my life a living hell.

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For weeks now I have been severely depressed, suicidal but managing not to self harm.  I am getting very snappy simply beause I’m so depressed.  When I see friends my smiling mask is on my face and simply telling that I am having good days and bad days.  If they knew the truth they would be very worried about me which I don’t want as they have enough on their plates.

Last week we heard very sad news.  An aquaintance suffered burns due to his house being on fire and his dog died from smoke inhalation.  We don’t know if he knows his dog died and he is in an induced coma at the Newcastle Hospital intensive care.  A good friend is giving us information when she gets it – Rick had let her know as she does help this person.  Nobody can visit at the moment and we are worried about his mental health when he is awake.  It was awful seeing him pain when he had have his other dog put to sleep on the grounds of being ill, suffering and being old.  He knew it was the right decision.  I’m glad it was us who were with him as we understand exactly how he felt.  I enjoy the freedom we have but I still miss all of our dogs as they knew our moods and how to help us feel better.

I just want to get out of this very dark place.  My appetite is bad and I am eating all the things I shouldn’t.  We did some shopping earlier and I bought food that is good for me.

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We went on a last minute break for four nights last week to Ayr in Scotland to cheer ourselves as much as anything else.  It was lovely and the weather was very good for us although that wouldn’t have stopped us going anyway.  Each day was perfect and we want to go back again as there is so much we want to see.  On Thursday we went to Arran and drove round the island although we didn’t stop at all of the villages.  One of our stops was at the distillery so we could go to the gift shop.  The prices went up to about £74 for some of the bottles of whiskey so our fingers ‘got burnt’.  I did buy a bottle of Robert Burns single malt and a Whiskey cream liquer.  Both are for special occasions.  We came home happy and relaxed, ready to get back to our normal routine which it did until yesterday.

Our so called friend’s daughter has been telling lies about both of us although the lies about Rick were far worse.  It has left us both angry, hurt and upset.  I am also devastated that someone that we have been kind to has told such vicious, disgusting lies although we suspect she is just kicking out at us because we wont take her mum to see her.  Our priority was always our friend so getting the daughter to the hospital was for her benefit, not her dsughter.  The problem is that even though the family is ‘known’ for being trouble and we have proved she has lied it still has to be looked into.  I wish I could understand why this is happening to us but we haven’t done anything wrong other than put our lives on hold for eight weeks for the family.

Over the past few years I have become better at trusting people and it is the local Methodist Circuit I thank for that as my confidence has been much better as well as my self esteem.  This woman has completely destroyed all of that due to her lies so I hope she is satisfied with herself for being so cruel.  Just because she has mental health issues doesn’t mean she should be allowed to get away with lying about other people.  Sadly all the family seem to lie even though they have been caught out.

I was doing well at keeping my severe depression under control but she has ruined that.  Now I’m back to square one and fighting suicidal thoughts which isn’t fair.  I am very scared that I won’t be able to cope and do myself some very serious home.

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I think

Last night I tried posting and spent some time on it but lost everything.  Yesterday we had a meeting to do with safeguarding and towards the end Cliff, the senior steward at the Valley Methodist Church, asked about the new system of signing in for when we have bible study.  Last week his brother wasn’t at all happy and caused a bit of friction which really upset me.  I, naturally, stuck up for Rick as he was in the right and was doing exactly what had been agreed at the Creating a Safer Space training the day before.  One of the ladies mentioned that people, except cafe customers, have to sign in and out.  I piped up that Woodhouse Close Church have introduced this as well recently.  It makes sense on the grounds of safety, fire, and, insurance purposes.  It also helps the church to know who comes through the building particularly as children and vulnerable people come in.

Anyway, at bible study, I let rip that we were doing what we had been asked to by the circuit safeguarding co-ordinator.  I also pointed out that I am severely depressed and I am fed up of being ignored / talked over certain people.  Then I told everybody that there is no point in me being part of the bible study group if they continue to behave like this towards me and sat at the back of church.  Cliff took his brother home.

Fast forward to yesterday and Cliff was told exactly the same as we were.  His response was ask if this was because Rick is a vulnerable person.  Rick and I said “no,” it is because Margaret – she attends bible study – has senile dementia.  Jenny, the safeguarding officer at the Valley, was laughing and nodding her head as she knows this is true.  It shut up Cliff though.  He isn’t happy that we will continue with having a record of who is at bible study.

Last night Cliff wasn’t at bible study due to commitments and incredibly there weren’t any disagreements about the list.  I did, however, still had to ask his brother to show me a bit of respect and let me finish what I was saying to him just before we left.  It is getting very tiring that he thinks it is acceptable to tell me to “shut up” then talk over me just because I dare to continue speaking.  This will come to a head eventually because I am fed up of a weekly ritual of him not listening to me when I am talking to him / the group and telling me to shut up.

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I used to hate triggers when I was going through good patches but now I wish I could go back to those days just so I could a good rant then feel a bit better.  Trying to keep the mask on day by day is hard work and a struggle.  Last night I came very close walking out of bible study as there were eruptions and the usual ‘ignore Pip and talk over her’.

Due to being advised that we should have a record of people at bible study we decided to implicate straight away.  Apparantly this should have been done anyway for health and safety reasons such as if there is a fire or somebody has an accident.  It makes a lot of sense despite being a pain in the rear as the toilets are downstairs and and we meet upstairs in the chapel.  One of the arguments why we should ‘sign in’ and ‘out’ is that if someone has an accident but hasn’t signed in there isn’t written proof he or she was there.

One of the people started objecting and stated he didn’t see why we should and would only do it if it’s a new thing to do.  Technically it isn’t as we should have been doing this anyway but as we didn’t know it is new.  Every time I backed Rick (husband) up I was ignored, interrupted or talked over so in the end I exploded.  I made it quite clear that I am sick to death of certain people behaving this way and there is no point me being there as it happens week after week.  This person didn’t like what was being said so chucked his toys out of his pram and said he was going home.  I was so furious that I said I would sit at the back as it was obvious that it was okay for him to be rude and behave the way he was.  I also made it clear that as I am severely depressed I can do without all this.  His brother took him home but I stayed at the back as I was so upset.

On top of this and at short notice Rick agreed to take a couple to the James Cook  Hospital as the girlfriend had an appointment for an MRI scan.  She had a brain tumour about two years ago and has to have scans done every six months.  I know they are hard up as neither of them are working but on the other side of the coin they can find the money for cigarettes and luxuries such as mixer taps for a shower (£40), picture etc.  They regularly get food parcels plus money to put gas and electric put on.  They seem to expect us to go running every time they need something so this morning I made it quite clear to Rick that if they ring after lifts again I will be ringing them straight back.  They knew about this appointment so could have arranged free transport and I am not quite convinced they didn’t know the right number to ring.

I am also steaming that over another matter with them now.  Some time ago they mentioned that they would need to go to London to get the girlfriend’s son’s passport renewed – they are Bulgerian and the boyfriend is English.  Rick offered to take them as it will be cheaper to take them than them going by public transport.  This means I have to go as well as the car is leased through motability for me.  Anyway the condition was that they gave us money for petrol as we can’t afford to lay out that kind of money and it is for their benefit not ours.  Instead they are having to borrow the money through a local organisation that helps people out who are poor / having problems with benefits.  Rick requested that the money was given to me because he doesn’t trust them to keep the money to one side for Monday so that was collected and signed for by me this afternoon.  At the moment I don’t know if I can trust myself not to read the riot act out to the pair of them on Monday as they are pushing my buttons too often now.  It’s not as if I don’t know what it is like to be poor … I do but at least we paid our bills, got food in and then bought luxuries if we could afford to.

All I know is something has to give and I don’t know what it is.

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Depression does get that bad that I barely function on a daily basis.  At home I can get away with being like that but when I am out volunteering have had my ‘wobbly’ moments as the people I’m with care.  I simply ‘put on my mask’ and come out with some excuse such as I’m tired but would rather keep busy than go home early.

My minister is good at frustrating the heck out of me at times and over the past couple of days she has done that.  A few of us need to have a meeting and she knows that I’m in the lunch time twice a week – she doesn’t know I do a third one – yet she has insisted that the meeting has to be on Thursday morning of next week.  Now I have been severely depressed for about a year now with very few good days in between. The email sent me into a mini rant of why should I be forced to go in late.  My minister suggested, in the email, that I swapped with another volunteer but there aren’t any other volunteers for the lunch club.  She knows I go in both days and the only other volunteer that I could have asked to cover me goes in on Thursdays anyway.  I have responded and told her all I could do is let them know in the kitchen I would be late.

My minister doesn’t know about my severe depression, P.T.S.D. and I also suffer with O.C.D. (obsessive compulsive disorder) which is usually well managed.  I don’t know what triggered me to suffer with O.C.D. but it started around the time I started suffering with depression.  I suppose, like suicide attempts and self harming, it is a way I can have control of my life.  My husband has got used to it and at least he knows I can put my hands on anything we or I want except for when he decides to tidy up.   At the lunch club the others have got used to me and my O.C.D. so it has become a bit of teasing time when I decide to ‘colour co-ordinate’ the boards we use or getting the drinking glasses in a certain order or start on something else.  Nobody minds as it doesn’t affect my time in the kitchen doing what I should be doing.  I am thankful that I do have lunch clubs to keep my mind occupied as I do believe I would have physically shut down and not just emotionally shut down.  There are two people within the church who know enough about my depression to keep an eye on me and that I trust enough to talk to if needed.  I also know I can trust either they or my husband will ring the crisis team if  I need that support.

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PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood. Most survivors of trauma return to normal given a little time. However, some people will have stress reactions that do not go away on their own, or may even get worse over time. These individuals may develop PTSD. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person’s daily life.

This post is specifically to do with the reason why I suffer with PTSD which is to do with adoption.  Unfortunately adoption isn’t seen, by professionals, as a course for PTSD.

It makes sense to explain what adoption has to do with why I suffer with severe depression as well.  I have suffered with depression since I was 12 or 13 years old which I didn’t realize at the time.   At the time I didn’t understand why I was so sad often nor could I have explained why I was sad.  My life was good, I had friends, there was no need to be sad.  I should have had the courage to speak.  I started having suicidal thoughts which horrifies me as an adult that I was feeling like that and never had the courage to tell someone.

I found out I was pregnant after a long term relationship ended.  For reasons that now stay in the past I continued with the pregnancy with the intention of raising my son.  This didn’t happen and my parents chose adoption. Nothing was discussed but plans were made and I didn’t know what to say or what to do to stop it.  When I saw a social worker after I had my son on the 3rd August 1981 I told her I didn’t want him adopted.  Promises were made however she did persuade me to let my son go into foster care in case I decided adoption was the best option. My one act of defiance was to go and see him in the nursery and to hold him for a while which I have always been glad I did. I was in hospital for about a week as I was ill so asked to see my son again but was told I was too ill to see him.  I left hospital never seeing my son again.

The following weeks were unbearable and I emotionally shut down as I believed I had no one to talk to.  Nobody to understand how I felt, I was wrong to be feeling the way I did.  Others knew what was best for me, for my son.

I was suffering with post natal depression which wasn’t treated.  What I didn’trealize was that I was now suffering with severe depression as well.  Over the years I went through cycles of coping, being severely depressed, suicidal (including suicide attempts) and self harming.  I had emotionally shut down so ‘put on a mask’ and was in denial.

For the next 23 years my son wasn’t talked about although I never forgot about him. I got married on the 20th November 1993 although, sadly, we haven’t had any children. In early 1999 I had a falling out with my family. In the August my son started searching for me and found my family quite quickly. However by this time I had moved so they quite honestly told him they didn’t know where I was.

In late 2001 I got back in contact with my parents as I felt it was time to try and bridges as they were elderly and frail. In August 2004 my husband and I thought it would be fun to join Genes Reunited which is a British based site for people researching their family trees. After I had put all the details that I could I realized my details had been entered by my son.  He was a member using the names I had given him. I messaged him without a second thought then panicked about it. He responded quite quickly. I was very upset to find out that my parents hadn’t told me that they had contact with him or let him know where I was.

What I didn’t know was I suffer with PTSD due to the trauma of my son being adopted.  It hasn’t helped that I found out my son’s adoption was / is illegal.  I have to live with this as I can’t change the past. My mother died on the 1st April 2011 and we never talked about the time from my son’s adoption up to reunion.

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I am sitting with my laptop on my lap ready so here I go, “My name is Philippa and I suffer with severe depression.”

Does that scare you?

Does it make you feel awkward?

Is your instinct want to change the subject?

The subject of depression does affect people in these ways but it’s also okay to be honest.  You can leave and go back to your comfort zone or you can read.  If you decide to read it may help you to understand better.

Depression still has a stigma, depression sufferers still suffer in silence, people still commit suicide because they are at rock bottom.  Me?

Well yes I have suffered with depression for most of my life but have only been open for the past ten years.  Why?

I didn’t understand that I did suffer with depression for several years.  At 19 years old I had my son – that’s another story which will be touched on – and I knew I was suffering with post natal depression.  But. It didn’t stop there.  I still suffered in silence.  But.  I still couldn’t talk about how I was really feeling.  I was just ‘moody’.  I was a ‘drama queen’.  There were people far worse off than me.  Silence.  I put on my mask and got on with my life.  The alternative?

Death.

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