So how did I come out the other side of my mental health illness? What helped me from a medical point of view?
I didn’t know how I would. I didn’t know what to take. I didn’t know how to act. I thought that I was alone. I thought I was going to end my life.
In the beginning, I mean the real beginning, I was put straight onto Diazepam- they numbed me, they made the pain freeze, they turned me into a zombie. But right there and then I was in shock, I mean real shock and I needed them. I didn’t question it , the doctors said take them, I did. I wasn’t in any position to start an argument – it was the right decision by the doctors at the time.
After a few weeks of Diazepam, I was re-assessed by the doctors and was put onto Sertraline as a more long term anti-depressant to help me deal with the grief we were going through, but unfortunately for me , this drug didn’t agree with me, it genuinely sent me up the wall, it didn’t agree with my system and luckily we realised straight away otherwise, well, I don’t know what would have happened. Dan at the same time was on the anti-depressant too, but he was fine on it, you see it’s like any medication, you never know how your body is going to take to it until you try.
So, it was time for a change again… I had to have around 7 days medication free before I was allowed to start on a different one …I remember that week being awful. I was a nervous wreck, jittery, angry, pained, distraught … Absolutely horrendous.
Cipralex was next … This one did agree with me. This one calmed me, this one relaxed my body enough to be able to get through the minutes, the hours, the days. I was so glad to have found one that I could rely on.
Alongside these anti-depressants, I was also on sleeping tablets. I couldn’t sleep and if I did manage to sleep, I was having nightmares, flashbacks and hallucinations in my sleep and I would soon be awake crying, shaking, shouting …. The sleeping tablets knocked me out enough to be able to get enough sleep to deal with this.
So what next?
Dan and I began to see a counsellor pretty soon after Millie passed away after taking advice that this would be good for us. It was. Although for just some sessions, I sat there and said nothing or I just cried. But that’s what counselling is for. If you want to go and cry, you can. If you want to go and say nothing, you can. If you want to go and scream, you can. 7 months we saw a counsellor for. People asked why we stopped? The answer is, we just knew. You would just know. In fact, I knew before Dan. I knew that I had gotten everything that I could from counselling. I knew I needed more help, but from someone else. Dan continued to see the counsellor for a few more sessions and he also knew when enough was enough for him.
In the meantime, I was re-assessed by a second mental health specialist and was diagnosed with severe PTSD, anxiety, depression and complex grief. In one way, it was a relief to finally have some labels for what I was suffering from. On the other hand, it petrified me even more because I didn’t know what was going to happen next or whether I would even be able to get through this diagnosis.
I remember that first session with my psychologist. I struggled to talk. I cried – I mean I really cried. I couldn’t drive myself to the hospital because I was having flashbacks if I saw blue lights on the road, I could cope with being in a hospital. Dan was there by my side, I needed him so much right then.
Mindfulness, CBT and EMDR therapy have made up a huge amount of my sessions – too much to discuss on this blog tonight, but I will in the future ….. 33 sessions later and I am hoping that tomorrow will be my final one. The last time that I see my psychologist in a medical capacity.
(This picture above was taken in about 2007 – I’m laughing at something, I was in Germany with my brother and his family – thanks to all the help that I have received, I know one day another photo will be taken like this with a genuine smile and laugh.)
And then there is exercise. This has been a natural drug for me. I got back into running after Millie passed away, it really helped to clear my mind. 6 weeks after having Leo , I started again and it really is helping again.
When I was about 6 months pregnant with Leo, I signed up for Tough Mudder, everyone thought that I was mad. I’d done it for a few reasons though ( one was to get fit again after having 2 children for my 30th in September, lol ) seriously though the main reason … Because training for Tough Mudder was going to force me out of the house, it was going to force me to have to leave Leo with Dan. After what happened to Millie I would have every right to spend every single second attached to my son – and believe me, I want to most days, but this wouldn’t have been fair to Dan or to our son because I want Dan to have a normal dad and son relationship and I want Leo to have normality in his life in the future. I can’t let my pain, anguish and fear stop him living the life he wants and the life I want for him, the same one that I wanted for Millie.
The tough Mudder training right now is pushing me into leaving Leo with Dan, into spending more time on my own and that on its own is an important thing, the running is my thing, it gives me the time to just be me, to just be Joanne, the girl.
I honestly could right a hundred times more on this post as there is so much I want to talk to you about – so one day I will sit and right, the full story, the proper insight – but for tonight I hope this is enough.
I’ve tried the lot and the combination of all of them throughout the past 2 and a half years have made me who I am today, the strongest that I have ever been since the minute I was told our daughter had passed. What’s that song? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So true.
Ooh and if you like to throw a few pennies my way for my Tough Mudder challenge, please use the link below
or TEXT JOEY15 £5 to 70070