Saturday, 30 April 2016

Depression, Anxiety & OCD

Depression is a serious illness that impacts on a person's brain.
It can be caused by changes in the brain chemistry but other causes include genetics, hormones, illness, death, stress, debt, unemployment, alcohol & drug abuse plus more.
Symptoms of depression can vary from one person to the next but some symptoms consist of feelings, thoughts, behaviours and physical problems.
Depression can affect males and females of any age.

Anxiety is also a serious illness.
It is when a person develops feelings of intense fear and/or panic.
Symptoms can include feeling scared, nervous or panicky.
Anxiety can be caused by a number of factors, some may be trauma, stress, illness, substance abuse, genetics and brain chemistry.

OCD otherwise known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is when a person has unreasonable thoughts and fears that can lead to that person doing repetitive behaviours.
As yet scientists have not found a cause as such however it could be a result of neurobiological factors, genetics or even a result of a traumatic life event.


Miss Jade is a young woman diagnosed with both depression and anxiety.
Here she openly explains her story via an interview with me.

What is your name and age?
My name is Jade and I am 26.

When were you diagnosed with depression and anxiety?
I was officially diagnosed at 16/17 years old with depression and anxiety issues, but before that I was being referred to a school counselor who wanted my parents to place me in anger management therapy.

What do your health issues consist of?
I have depression and anxiety.
I also have signs of (but not officially diagnosed) mild OCD.

What treatment have you received?
I received many forms of treatment over a period of 6 years on and off.
Firstly I was prescribed medication but after several months increasing doses I opted for therapy instead of medication. From there I had weekly sessions with a counselor while I waited for a placement with a psychologist.
From there I was referred between several therapists (so many I literally lost count) until I finally stayed with the head of the department until I was given the go ahead to sign myself off of treatment when I was 22.
I have not received any help since then, as I did not feel I needed more.
However since moving countries from Scotland to Canada early last year I have felt my depression take hold again and I am unable to receive help out here without proper coverage, which I can not afford.

What symptoms do you have?
My symptoms can range and each day is different from the one before.
With my depression I feel like I have little to no purpose.
I feel unwanted, tolerated at best, like someone who is just "there" not part of anything.
My moods can sway from just being very quiet to bursts of rage or inconsolable crying and once I hit that point it can last for days/weeks before I am able to pick myself back up again.
There is also your usual "typical" symptoms like not taking care of yourself, poor hygiene, lack of appetite, zero energy, antisocial, emotionally unstable, no motivation etc.
Basically I feel like I have no purpose or reason for anything.
I'm just "there".
There are thoughts of self harm, but I personally don't act on it because I worry for my friends and family who care for me and I know that as low as I feel now, eventually I will feel better and regret it. But to pretend the thoughts dont exists is just denial.
My anxiety is more of a day to day thing no matter how high or low my spirits are. I am highly paranoid which makes me very observant with everything.
I analyse EVERYTHING from how someone words a text, every sound I hear in our apartment, people's tone when they speak, people's body language.
When I leave my house I watch everyone around me and if some happens to walk in the same direction as me behind me I automatically suspect them of wanting to harm me in some way and I do what I can to get away from them.
I want to know what is going on around me and why.
I also need to have plans and back up plans for every scenario, even things like meeting up with friends or going a food shop.
If I feel I have no control or I'm not prepared for every eventuality then I panic and stress out.
Even conversations I plan to have with people, because I study everyone around me so well I often can plan in advance in my head how a conversation will go (almost word for word) and I have an "already planned reaction" in my head ready for it.
This also plays a part with my OCD symptoms.
I never went to a doctor to be formally diagnosed but I have a friend who is a hospital nurse who would repeatedly recommend I get diagnosed with my behaviours.
Things must be of an even number or else it bothers me and I think something negative will happen or bad luck.
I need things to be organised to me in some sort of way, usually in lines or connected in some way.
For example at our local bar I always had to sit in the same spot, my drink always sat either in line with the logo on the beer mat or perfectly within the existing glass ring stain on the bar.
My purse would sit in a direct line in front of that and my phone in line with that.
If anything moved even slightly from that line I HAD to move it back or it bothered me to the point I cant focus.
I also developed irrational fears at the same time my mental health changed.
1) Fear of the dark only when indoors.
2) Life like dolls and mannequins.
I also received therapy to help me handle these fears on a day to day basis, as they did affect me on day to day life.

How have these conditions affected you?The conditions affect me when it comes to eating because I am a stress eater, so my weight has gone up over the years.
I went from a size 8 (UK) to a size 16 (UK).
My sleep varies from little to no sleep or I sleep but have vivid dreams and nightmares.
I socialise much less now because I feel like I have little/nothing to offer in ways of friendship to people I meet.
My relationships have varied over my life having been in several abusive relationships.
I am now in a healthy relationship and due to marry next year but my mental health does cause issues and some strain on my fiance.
I find socially I over compensate because I feel I am either "strong and confident" or "a victim" and I refuse to feel like a victim to someone through any means, so I'm either there and in charge or not there at all.
For those who do not know me well this causes problems for me socially.
These days a major issue with me moved to a new country where nobody knows me, I have made very few "friends" if any.

Was there something that caused the onset of your conditions?
What is believed to have caused the onset of my issues is from when I was a child, I was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a man who lived locally to me.
He was known by everyone but only the kids knew of what he was doing, as I was his "secret girlfriend".
He was 16-18 and I was 11-13. When I was 13 he appeared outside my home drunk while I was playing with friends, dragged me off around the back of my house after becoming violent towards my friends who knew he was coming for me and tried to warn me and he tried to forcefully rape me.
This was stopped only by my father who my friends had ran into my home to get to help me.
I did not at this time understand what was happening or why.
I came from a small area so news quickly spread of an incident happening between myself and this boy/man and within days (while my parents kept me inside my house for a week to hide me while police were speaking with me) news and rumours spread that apparently I had tried to seduce him and cried rape when my dad caught us together.
By the time I went back to school I was "the girl who cried rape" and I spent the next 2 years in and out of court cases and had very few friends who stood by me.
I had kids threatening me, fighting me, bullying me, showing up outside my home, we had to move a few weeks later. The police were unhelpful and this man still stalked me several times during the 2 years building up to the trial and I had his female friends threaten me with knives. By the time I was 15 I went from top of the class student to being suspended twice for fighting (self defense) and threatened with expulsion, which my parents fought, so the school decided I only had to attend 3 classes a week so I was still legally in school attendance and I was granted early school leave once I turned 16.
I had started to bully other kids at this point as a way of self defence, to attack others first before they attacked me.
This did help deter bullies but mentally drained me and I had my first breakdown at 16, after dropping weight to almost under a size 6 and my hair started to fall out.
This also affected me sexually where I would allow boys to sleep with me but not touch me with their hands.
I was not able to allow any boys to touch me sexually with their hands until my late teens when I was finally in a solid, healthy relationship with someone who was not abusive.
Doctors also tried to prescribe me drugs to calm me down and help me sleep, when I was 14 but all it did was cause me to fall asleep in classes and I felt "doped up".
By the time I was turning 17 I had left school, had several breakdowns mentally and I was now in a very abusive relationship with a man who would later get so controlling and violent he tried to kill me twice.
I started wanting to self harm but I didn't want anyone to see any marks on my body.
I was "weak" so I went to a doctor for help.
This is when I was officially diagnosed. Several of my psychologists all agreed on the conclusion that it wasn't the molestation and attempted rape which caused my issues to develop, but everything that came after as a result of what happened which caused them.
I had to learn to value myself again, feel confident again, stay strong and beat my demons to live my life again.

Were you given medication?
I do not and did not medicate through my years of therapy because I felt that I did not want to rely on pills to live a day to day life.

On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate a good and bad day?
*My good days I would rate about an 8 or 9 out of ten.
When I feel good I feel unstoppable.
Its like the world is my oyster and I can achieve anything I want.
I feel good, happy, funny, attractive, wanted, loved and I love to socialise and plan an amazing future for myself with my fiance.
*My bad days can be about an 8/10.
I feel worthless, unwanted, unloved.
I feel like I am tolerated by those around me and my existence is just that.
I'm just "there" without purpose.
My only reasons I can get out of bed each day is because we have pets who need feeding and attention and I value their life over mine.
I would not have them suffer because of me.
If not for them I don't know what I'd do with myself.

Please explain in detail what a typical bad day and a good day is like for you?
*A typical bad day; I wake up and feel empty.
I have no hopes for the day, for myself, I just function with the little energy it feels like it takes all my strength to muster.
I get up and I let the animals out.
We have 2 house rabbits so I let them out their pen for free roaming time.
I get them their veg/fruit for breakfast and they come for cuddles on the couch while I feed them.
Then they go off to do their thing and I am just "there".
I might just lay and do nothing and hope someone might try to talk to me or something might happen to give me purpose, but nothing and nobody ever does.
I have no friends out here.
Only my fiance and he works to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table.
If I feel like I might be able to try and pick myself up I will try and reach out to others.
I remember from my therapy sessions how important having support around you is.
But nobody comes.
I'm not well liked by my fiance's friends. The 2 or 3 who do, when I try to explain how I feel, and that I need help, they don't understand and they tell me I'm having a "weak moment" and basically leave me to deal with myself on my own.
I might eat if I can be bothered, but often I don't until I get headaches from being hungry and dehydrated.
I might put on the TV for background noise but not always.
My fiance checks in with me when he can and I try and be OK for him over the phone but that can be a hit and a miss. My day doesn't change until he comes home and when he realises how low I feel he tries to help but nothing does and I find myself just crying until we got to bed at night.
I hate making him feel helpless but I feel helpless myself and cant pick up, or even pretend.
We go to bed and I either sleep or don't.
I wake up the next day and either I feel a bit better and I can build myself up from there or I don't and repeat the day I had before.
*To compare my good days are this.
I wake up and feel great, full of energy ready for a full day.
I get up and let the rabbits out and do their veggies and cuddles on the couch. Then I put on my fave shows or music and I make a nice breakfast for me and my fiance before we relax together.
If he is at work I make myself breakfast and either do some light exercises or I clean so I have the rest of the day for me. I shower, put on full makeup, do my hair, dress nice and I chat on social media or make plans for when my fiance finishes work.
We might stay in and have a date night at home with dinner and a movie or go out for a few social drinks or have his friends over or we go a drive for ice cream or something.
We laugh, joke, plan our wedding and have just a great day together.
We go to bed happy and in love and whatever we did that day just makes me feel so happy I cant stop smiling.
When I have a good day I LOVE my life and I make a point to sit and remember details of every moment and how perfect it is and appreciate all I have.
I also like to be creative and plan lots of art work projects for myself, even if I can't afford the materials I need yet :)
I can be strong, confident, funny, hold my head high and bow down to nobody who tries to drag me down.

What support have you received?
The support I have is my fiance and myself.
I have friends and family back home who love and support me, but it doesn't have much impact half way across the world. My rabbits are my therapy, who give me purpose on days I feel I have none.





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