This is a blog post about my mental health issues.
I am depressed and I have general anxiety problems.
I was diagnosed with depression earlier this year. I’d been suffering with symptoms for a while – feeling sad most of the time, self-loathing, insomnia. These had been affecting me for years on and off. Only recently did I have a seriously distressing depressive episode. I decided to go to the GP to tell them about it and see if they could offer any help.
I sat down with him and told him that I thought I was depressed. I explained how I’d been feeling and how it had been affecting me. Straight away, he agreed that I was depressed. He asked me to fill in a questionnaire about how I’d been feeling. I came out as being moderately to severely depressed.
The GP told me that as I was under 18, he wasn’t supposed to prescribe me anti-depressants. Instead, I was to be referred to the psychiatrist as part of the CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).
I waited for a while. A referral letter didn’t come through.
I was getting quite distressed by this.
Eventually, I went to see my gastroenterologist about my Crohn’s disease. I told him about the depression. He referred me to see a clinical psychologist who worked with the gastroenterology department in the UHW. I waited for a referral.
Not too long after, the referral letter came through the door and I went to see the clinical psychologist. We talked over how I’d been feeling. We started looking over problems in the past that may have contributed. We discussed possible treatment options in a second appointment the next week.
After waiting close to one and a half months from the original GP appointment, I decided to book another appointment. I saw one of the main GPs in the surgery. I sat down and told him about how I’d been feeling. He also pulled up the results from the questionnaire that I did with the other GP. He could see that I’d been waiting for a while for the CAMHS appointment. He also told me that it wasn’t protocol to prescribe anti-depressants to under 18s, but that he would speak to his colleagues to see what could be done. About a week later, I got a call back telling me that they were willing to prescribe me citalopram, an antidepressant, and some zopiclone to help with the insomnia in the short term. I went back to the GP and picked up the prescription.
Day to day, I hadn’t really been feeling great. I was still tired from the insomnia keeping me up and still having to get up early for school. This, in turn, didn’t help with my mood.
I started on the citalopram at a dose of 20mg a day. For the first few weeks, I didn’t feel much different. However, after about a month of starting them, my mood started getting better. My sleeping pattern was also normalising. The appointments with my clinical psychologist were going well. Things were starting to look up for me.
Unfortunately, I started having problems with really bad days. I had one seemingly random period of about three days where I’d been getting quite distressed by my depression. This carried on. I saw the GP again and upped my dose to 30mg a day.
I started feeling great soon after this. Day to day I was feeling much better. This continued for a while.
However, again, my good state started collapsing down around me. I was suffering with anxiety. It started to become somewhat disabling. I was stopping being able to talk to people, feeling really anxious about going out. It was distressing and didn’t help with the depression at all. In fact, it was almost as if I was back to step one.
I finally had an appointment to see the psychiatrist. I told him about the depression, my history, schooling etc. He also very quickly picked up on my anxiety. As I sat there talking to him, he noticed the nail picking – my main anxious tic. He told me that he wanted to review me every three months and I was on my way.
I went back to the GP last week after a trip abroad to Cyprus. The trip is when my anxiety really started getting to me. If it was bad before, it was getting out of hand now. I just sat around on my iPad for the entirety of the holiday. I didn’t want to go round checking to see if there were people my age to make friends with or anything. I sat there with my iPad – my barrier.
My GP upped my citalopram dose again to 40mg a day and put me on propranolol, a beta blocker drug that . I tried it out at home to see if the background anxiety would begin to fade. It did. The random humming that only I noticed and the subconscious desire to pick my nail. They went much more quickly than they’d started.
However, disaster struck a couple of days ago. I had a suspected allergic reaction to it. Before I’d even had a chance to use it in a situation where I would benefit from it’s use! I called the GP the next day to be put on the emergency list, given that the patient information leaflet told me to see a doctor as soon as possible. Yes, my dad is a doctor, but it’s not quite the same!
I saw one of the main GPs in the surgery who told me that it was probably best I stopped the propranolol. We talked briefly about the anxiety and how it’d been affecting me. She decided to prescribe me some diazepam, a benzodiazepine, 2mg a day to start off with.
This is my story so far.
At the moment, I’m feeling good. I am tolerating the diazepam well, but it’s early days. I have an appointment to see my regular GP on the 19th of August, so not too long. Hopefully, I’ll be put up to the normal dose of diazepam. I hope that this is the treatment for me, even though it is a short term solution. I hope it will bring me out of this anxious state long enough to be able to deal with the underlying problems. That’s what I think the citalopram did. It brought me out of the depressive state to see the underlying anxiety more.
Talking about mental illness is not an easy thing to do. It’s still seen as a ‘taboo’ subject – something you wouldn’t mention in the same way you’d mention a broken arm, cancer or other physical illnesses. I hope by talking about my experiences, it will encourage others to know that help is out there. People are willing to listen and help.
The only way to break the taboo of mental illness is by talking about it more.