Drugs, counsellors, psychologists and tears 

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. 
Anti-Depresants.Sleeping Tablets.Counsellor.Psychologist.CBT.EMDR.Exercise.Running. 
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

It’s true. I suffer with mental Health problems … And I’m ok with it. 

  • I am a patient with diagnosed PTSD. 
  • I am a patient with diagnosed Depression.
  • I am a patient with diagnosed Anxiety. 
  • I am a patient diagnosed with Complex Grief
We all know how the world likes to label things, so If you want to put me in a box and label it with something, I am a mental health patient.

This week is mental health awareness week, so let’s have a chat.
I am pretty sure that every one of you knows someone with some type of mental health problem, statistics show that 1 in 4 people will have a problem in their lifetime , pretty high that figure isn’t it? 
Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, OCD, PTSD, Bi-Polar, eating problems, personality disorders , self harm …
Re-read that list that I’ve just listed, you’ve just thought of someone haven’t you? See, it’s that close, mental health is so much more closer to most people than they think. 
I have mental health problems because I lost my daughter, because I put her in someone else’s care and she never came home, because I saw my daughter before anyone told me that she had passed away, because I am grieving, because I feel guilt … Because we lost our daughter, our baby. 
People develop mental health problems for so many reasons, no one’s stories will ever be the same … They might be similar, but never the same. Suffering comes from
grief, from money worries, abuse,  losing your job or home, addiction problems, the list is endless and there so many different mental health problems out there, no one ever knows what they may suffer from, you don’t get to pick or choose. I thought I was strong, I was, until my daughter passed and then I was broken, I was weak; at least I thought I was. Looking back now, I can see why I would have thought I was weak, why I thought I was broken. I can see why I thought it would be easier to not even be here, why I thought it would be better to end my life. 
I wasn’t diagnosed properly in the beginning, I was told I was suffering “normal grief” – whatever that is. But they were wrong. Luckily Dan saw it, he saw me and he knew something wasn’t right. We were both suffering with grief because we had lost our daughter and Dan could see that I was so much different than him, he knew that it wasn’t just a “mum” thing – it was more serious than we were told. Very quickly I was back at the doctors and being referred to a what I can only described as an amazing Psychologist at Wythenshawe hospital, whom assessed me properly, I was diagnosed with Severe PTSD, Anxiety, Depression and Complex Grief Issues – so a little bit more than again, those silly words “normal grief” ( for the record, I don’t believe there is normal grief,certainly not for someone who has lost a child) As well as the initial private counselling that we had 25 sessions of after Millie passed, I have also had 33 sessions of an hour and a half to 2 hours with my Psychologist in around 18 months , for those of you that don’t know what that figure is, it’s a lot of treatment, the average amount of sessions for PTSD is around 12 , that’s a comparative for you. But it’s not just that, it’s all the work I have had to put in on top of all the “in-house” therapy – it didn’t stop when I walked out of the hospital every week, that was just the beginning, I had to ( and still have to ) work hard at every minute of every day. Some days are harder than others, some days I still feel as though it would be easier not be here. 
I am sitting here now thinking about how easy it would have been to just do it, to commit suicide and be with my daughter. I remember waking up one night and saying to Dan I needed to clear all the pills off my bedside table ( sleeping tablets & anti-depressants ) because it was too easy to wake up from a bad dream where I woke up crying and feel that most horrendous pain all over again, it would have been too easy in a split second to take those pills – that is how quick it could have been over. The amount of times that I have had to stay away from windows, from ledges, anything high because the urge was just sometimes too much to want to throw myself over and be done with all the agony I was suffering from and then there was the time when I nearly ended all in front of a bus … that was the turning point, that’s why I knew something was more wrong with me than the professionals had said, that’s when Dan pushed me to get help and took me back to the doctors … That was the biggest step I needed to take, I needed the help, I wanted the help.
That’s it for tonight guys … Every day for the rest of the week because it is “mental health awareness week” I’ll blog a little bit more about my mental health journey … You’ll get more of an insight than I’ve ever told before
And just in case you are wondering, I know I’m not weak, I can see that now. I know that I am stronger than I have ever been before.
Time to send that text to your friend who might be feeling a bit down at the moment, or that friend you saw a couple of weeks ago that didn’t quite just seem right or seemed that little but quieter than usual. They will appreciate it, I promise , just say “hi” and ask them how they are … They’ll tell you if they want to …
Joanne x

Finally … I went to Tesco …..

Today I did something that I thought was impossible …
I went to TESCO Handforth Dean … Some of you may not understand why this is a a landmark day for me doing this …many of you will understand … 27 months I have avoided this place and I knew I would get there … Eventually and on the right day for me. Today was that day
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’ll be spending 2 hours doing my weekly shop anytime soon … But I was in there for about 15 minutes and guess what, I didn’t spontaneously combust, grow horns on my head or fall into a heap on the floor… I was jittery, I was sweating, i had to stop myself from crying … I will apologise now to anyone that I may have seen in there that wanted to speak to me as I was in auto mode , wanting to get what I needed and get out of there … Gripping the pram ( yes I took Leo with me ) probably tighter than I should’ve been and picked up what I needed , sun cream and a hat for Leo, a magazine for me and a couple of other bits – I did contemplate rewarding myself with a Krispy Kreme … But in my head it would’ve taken too long to pick one and put it in a packet – so I chickened out of that
So there it is 27 months from one of the biggest panic attacks I had after losing Millie, many many many sessions and amazing help from my Psychologist, lots of mindfulness , thousands of tears, tons of anger at myself for feeling an absolute idiot for not being able to step foot in my local superstore or even drive past at one stage … I did it … One of my biggest fears …

I must admit, I came out and got in my car and absolutely cried my eyes out, a mixture of grief and relief I think and all I wanted to do was come home.

There you have it. Mental health problems don’t have to keep your down or hold your back, work hard , focus on the now and it will get better x

To do what seems the impossible is always possible , at the right time x

Joanne xxx