The Other D

It’s me, I’m back & can’t quite believe it has been a month since my last post (I do apologise, a mixture of lack of inspiration & marathon training has had me side tracked).

I want to discuss something today that I can relate to & not through D for once but from my own experience.  Something that if I’m honest I thought I would not come across in such volume again.

I’m talking about depression & other mental health issues.

Mental health issues can affect anyone.  They are complex & a bit like Diabetes they need to be treated on a person to person basis.  There is no quick fix.  It takes over your life, can make you selfish, irrational & leave people not knowing how to approach you.

Chronic conditions & mental health seem to go hand in hand, and something I feel that is lacking support from HCP.  This goes for any chronic condition, not just diabetes.

In all the time of suffering from suffering from depression I have never discussed it.  So I will try not to ramble.  One thing I honestly believe is if you had suffered from any mental health condition you never beat it, It can lay dormant inside you but there are always triggers, a bad day, a life event, the smallest thing can set off you whole life’s history & send you into a downward spiral.

In my case the chronic condition I had was a back injury following a freak accident at work.  They are a debilitating injury.  I couldn’t breathe without it hurting let alone walk, or live a daily life.  I had surgery, nerve blocks, anything to try & fix it.  After 2 years I was told that it was now going to have to be treated as a chronic condition that could only involve pain management & not cured.   I was on so many pills I was rattling.  5 pills every morning (and that was only after months of finding a good combination) Morphine, Lodine, Tramadol, Lansoprazole, Amitriptyline.  They destroyed my life, numbing my body but destroying my mind.

I became a recluse.  I lost friends, I couldn’t socialise, couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink, could barely stay awake.  My head was taken over by the hatred of what I’d become, I hated my body for giving up on me.  I wanted to be normal again, to have my life back.  I was 20 years old & it felt like my life was done already.  This was no way to live.  Chronic illnesses make you feel like they are destroying your life & everything you have built around you.

I was sent for counselling, given assessments to see how I was doing, I hated them.  I was suicidal, I stood on a railway bridge while considering to end it all, there was also an overdose of alcohol, morphine & tramadol.  Looking back now I could not imagine doing it but I did, it was a very real.

I would break down without warning, rock in a chair, burst into tear in the middle of work & one point I was even found sitting under a stairwell in heavy snow in shirt & trousers.  Sometimes I just needed to get away, escape, nothing anyone could say made it better.

In the end I was so low in a downward spiral that I could see no other way out.  I hated my workplace, it reminded me of how it all happened.  I was instructed to leave my job by my councillor & move away from everything I knew.  Everything that reminded me of what I had before.

Sounds pretty extreme right?  I moved from Slough, Berkshire to Kettering, Northants & started a new life.  Still battling my demons but now without anyone familiar other than my then girlfriend.

Over the next 2 years I battled with changing my life.  Coming to terms with the hand I had been dealt and making the best of things.  But I wasn’t happy.  I was fighting, fighting myself to get out of bed every day.

So back to present day, and I see people on a daily battles either recalling their struggles or very openly laying bare their issues for all to see.  This is not for attention, this is for help, support & a sense of not being alone.

People who have not suffered with depression cannot understand the baggage that comes with it.  We don’t want pity, we want help.  We want fixing but no matter what anyone does you feel that they are judging you even when they only had the best intentions.  Mental health issues are all consuming.  You feel the whole world is on top of you & you cannot see a way of climbing back on top.

The care for those with mental health issues is complex but it also seems to be lacking in the current climate, more of a box ticking exercise than the immediate care people suffering need.

I feel a guilt when I read these messages of struggle & feel too awkward to send messages of support in reply.  I don’t want to seem I’m bothering into things with people I barely know.  I know how fragile the mind of people suffering is & don’t want to risk tipping them over the edge.

I have great admiration for organisations such as @HedgiePDiabetes offering words of support to people looking for help & guiding them in the right direction.  To people like @OceanTragic who has given up his own time to manage a Diabetes UK Support line.

This is something I want to do in the future, to help those wanting help.  It is a goal of Amy & I to form a support group locally as it seems to be lacking for both PWD & parents bringing up children with D.  We just need to get this marathon lark out the way so we can give it as much attention as it needs.

I fear for the future & how mental health may play a part in Emily’s life & I hope she can turn to us to help or fund support in others, by the time that comes round who know how this crazy world will have changed.

My 5 year battle was a rollercoaster & in that time I could not see an end in sight.  But I am fortunate to have fought my way to building a new life.  Is it still there?  Yes, buried deep in my head.  And I’m very aware it could test me again in the future.  But I have people around me now who will support me through the tough times to make sure I never sink so low again.  Now I want to help those from my experiences.