Mental health week 14th may

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Ant
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Mental health week 14th may

Post by Ant » Wed May 09, 2018 10:09 am

This year I thought I'd start a thread on this as I think it is important.

My wife has recently been admitted to hospital as a direct result of an undiagnosed mental health issue.
She has now been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. She has had the condition all her life, and with hindsight being the wonderful thing that it is, this now seems obvious.

It used to be called manic depression, this is now not politically correct but is in my view a more apt description of the condition.

Periods of intense high mood which last for a few months, a period of relative though unstable calm, and then intense low mood that again last a few months.

The intense high mood is just as potentially dangerous as the intense low, there can be a loss of control, of grip on reality, which I have seen repeatedly over the Last 15 years. The intense low can be very dangerous indeed.
I dont need to say why.

For the past 10 months since she finally admitted to me that she had a serious problem and let me in, have been horrendous. For her and me.

She had built up coping mechanisms over the years which helped her to dismiss the impulses, channel the intense high moods into something productive, and combat the intense low moods by throwing herself into something with such focus that literally everything else in the world was blocked out. Another coping mechanism is music. 24/7 music. Loud, soft, any music at all. When she can't have music she will have an ipod and headphones. Same again, hyper focus on the music blocks out the world. Certain artists such as placebo and florence and the machine which fairly explicitly are catharsis for their own experiences remind her she is not alone when i cant get through. This used to frustrate me as neither her nor me knew exactly why she did this.

Periods of stress, upset, and even events of high happiness could trigger an episode where she would need to fall back on these coping mechanisms.

So she has coped to a degree from being a child with these strategies.

10 months ago social media and various other factors took one away. She has had animals since being a kid, and anyone who knows us knows the focus she has had on them. We bred dogs, we had marine fish. We had fancy rats, we had seahorses, and the big one was her breeding and showing Guinea pigs.

Rules were altered within the show circuit, people were clearly cheating and getting away with it, there was bias in judging, and due to her knowledge she was being leaned on for help from all over the place. All the back biting and infighting caused alot of people to give up, and it was all too much.

The coping mechanism became the trigger for a massive episode.

My daughter also went to comprehensive school, and my wife had a terrible time during that period of school. Bullying, violence, peer pressure, you name it, she got it all with a vengeance because she was a little different at that age.

She was terrified that any of the things she went through would happen to our daughter..

In July last year a combination of massive stress and the sudden loss of her ability to cope resulted in a massive breakdown.

Paramedics were summoned due to events, and I finally found out the extent of the problem. She wouldn't see a specialist, categorically refused. So we did loads of research, tried every strategy you could think of and though things started to settle around February, it was waiting, crouched just out of sight waiting to spring out again.

And it did.

About 6 weeks ago it broke through all the shaky barriers she had erected and I had helped to reinforce, and struck with a vengeance.

I will never forget or come to terms with what happened next until the day I die. But I will prevent it from ever happening again, whatever it takes.

This time she was taken to hospital and seen by the crisis team. She had gone right over the edge to a place I can never go, and a wonderful lady who saw her and assessed her immediately arranged for help.
There was a psychiatrist out to see her within 2 days who arranged initial medication which she was issued with the next day.
There have been people from the team here every day for fhe first two weeks, every 2 since then and they have brought her medication to us, assessing her state and tweaking the meds.
They have referred her forward to the next stage to a specialist team who can help with therapy aimed at conditions of the type she has.

The team of people who have helped us are absolute angels, and I genuinely believe that without them and their help she would have gone down a path I could not follow. She followed that path, and managed to walk back to me, how I don't know. Device intervention, call it what you will, I don't know how she made it back and neither does she.

A lady came to see me to do a 'carers assesment', to help me with strategies to help her, and said something very important.

She said that we all have mental health. And we do. Our mood affects those around us, and theirs affects us. We are all inextricably linked, as we all affect each other in ways that we don't always realise.

Things for me are extremely tough at the moment. I have to deal with the things that she can't aswell as my things. I have to be sympathetic and caring and patient, and to be honest, I am not any of those things. But if i am not, then I could trigger something in her that I don't want to.
My cold logical problem solving personality is not enough right now, she is a person, not a problem to be solved and I have to change to mee the challenge.

But my struggles with this are nothing compared to hers.

Its a sobering thought that these issues were under my nose all these years and I never put the pieces of the jigsaw together. But that's just my own self inflicted guilt talking.

I keep telling her over and over like groundhog day that there is new light at the end of the tunnel, and hope for the future now that there is help being given, medication and theraputic, and that she doesn't have to be beholden to the condition.

It is very early days.

So please talk to the people who are down, please keep an eye on those who you know who every now and again do 'wierd things'. Dont judge, provide an ear or a shoulder. That could be the turning point for someone.

Mental health Is everyone's issue.

And God bless the professionals who are there for people, yoy really do have to care for people's well being to do what they do.

They saved her life.

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pre65
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Re: Mental health week 14th may

Post by pre65 » Wed May 09, 2018 10:33 am

Thank you for sharing that with us Ant.

I was in tears before I finished reading it.

I hope it all goes well for you both, and all the other family members.
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Ant
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Re: Mental health week 14th may

Post by Ant » Wed May 09, 2018 12:10 pm

Thing is, what has happened to us recently is towards the extreme end.

The problem is that any mental health issue is insidious. It can start off from something small and build over the years into something potentially life threatening.

It can start off from something big and grow into the same.

It can creep up on a person and manifest in a million different ways.

Everyone knows someone who has had time off work for stress or depression, and I think everyone at some point sees the wrong end of a mental health issue.

I shared this for 2 reasons. The first because in order to consider these issues there needs to be an example. I hope that it shocks, because it makes the issue real rather than an abstract concept.

And secondly a little catharsis for me, which is perhaps a little selfish.

Help is there and there should be no stigma attached to seeking it, but people around the person who needs it need to recognise that it is needed in the first place. It was so hard for me to make the phonecall that put her in hospital, but i had no choice. Help before that stage could have prevented what happened next

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Re: Mental health week 14th may

Post by Neal » Wed May 09, 2018 1:26 pm

That’s pretty brave there Ant sharing that, I wish you and your missus the best in fighting / dealing with it.
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Re: Mental health week 14th may

Post by Cressy Snr » Wed May 09, 2018 1:32 pm

This is the first I've heard of this and my sympathies go out to the both of you and it is certainly not selfish to unload your problems onto the forum space.
I finally got the diagnosis a couple of months ago that I suffer from GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder). This thing has caused depression, suicidal thoughts and God knows what else over the years. The medication (Mirtazipine) has kicked in nicely. What it does is kill the fight or flight response to either outside or internal stimuli. It doesn't prevent the intrusive thoughts, but it stops the reaction to them, which prevents situations spiralling out of control. It indirectly prevents the uncontrolled build up of cortisol and adrenaline, which left uncontrolled, will shorten life considerably.
Being continually anxious for over twenty years has to take a big physical as well as mental toll on the body, but now I'm getting the right treatment, I do feel better. I'm very tired, but happier in myself and hopefully, my physical fitness will improve as we go.

Last year, during the "torch and pitchfork brigade" situation, where I left the forum. Things became so serious that both the Crisis Team and the Samaritans became involved. I wasn't visited by the CT but their telephone counselling was fantastic and I don't know what I would have done without them.

Approaching retirement, anxiety, fear bordering on terror, guilt caused by constant media drip drip of "baby boomers have stuffed the milennials and we need to lessen their benefits" was causing me to exhibit behaviours bordering on hysterics. The terror that "they" were going to take away what little money I had, and the continuous "hand tightening around the throat" of the fight or flight was intolerable.

When both of the above were combined, it was only a matter of time before something snapped. During the "torch and pitchfork brigade" period, the flow of insulting PMs landing in my inbox became a torrent and suddenly everything just gave way under me. My body and mind shut down.

Later I learned off the medics that it was the brain shutting down the limbic system to preserve itself and protect from any more pressure. During that time, I couldn't think straight, string an intelligible sentence together, or do anything at all really.

This, combined with the fear that "they" were going to take everything away, sent me into final overload then shutdown.
As I said, the Crisis Team were excellent, non-judgemental and worth their weight in gold. The doc, who finally made the breakthrough with the GAD diagnosis, has my eternal gratitude, as everything I've suffered over the past twenty odd years, now makes sense, from the ever increasing pace of feverish amp and speaker building, the constant fear at my back that someone was watching, waiting to take everything away, the hyper vigilance, the need to be constantly on guard, the endless rumination, the constant internal action replays, the need to "cover every angle so I don't miss something important" that ruled the decision making process so completely that actually making a decision on anything was next to impossible, the incessant, mocking of the internal tormentor: it all now makes sense.

The medication as I said, doesn't prevent the intrusive thoughts, but it has turned off the fight or flight response to them. The relief from this constant pain is immeasurable.

Daily mindfulness practice combined with the medication, is starting to get me my life back. There is light at the end of the proverbial. Only thing with Mirtazapine is that you have to watch out for weight gain, so I may be writing on the "fat bastard" thread before long. :lol:

Mental health is a huge issue, one that has been swept under the carpet for too long. It needs to be taken seriously by the powers that be including the DWP and the knobheads at ATOS. Treatment and prevention needs long overdue investment.
Happiness is not good for the economy Matt Haig.

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Re: Mental health week 14th may

Post by Cressy Snr » Wed May 09, 2018 2:21 pm

All the above is mild though compared to bi-polar, so magnify what I've been through by about 10 and you'll be about there.
Like everything, poor mental health goes on a scale, but it is a nasty piece of work....period.
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Ant
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Re: Mental health week 14th may

Post by Ant » Wed May 09, 2018 4:54 pm

Thanks for the supportive comments, she now has the bare bones of recovery in place. The scaffolding around the damaged building if you will.
Hopefully the people who read this thread will at least be provoked into thinking about mental health, either their own or someone else's, or even just in general. Thats the point.
Im on the outside looking in at this particular disorder, i cant understand it, but i can try. I haven't a choice at this point.
This lot has put alot of things into perspective, what's important and what isn't.
Im sure there are millions of people who have been in the same place as me, and have thought the same things

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Re: Mental health week 14th may

Post by IslandPink » Wed May 09, 2018 6:16 pm

Sounds awful Ant - I can unfortunately imagine some of what she went through by extrapolating from my brief period of severe depression in 2007. I remember describing that episode to friends as being " about 3 times worse than when my father died" .
I'll just put down here a couple of things that may help at some stage when things are more under control -
I have a cousin who is a consultant psychiatrist ( down in Brighton ) . I've had lots of discussions with her over the years, but recently we were discussing the vitamin/mineral connection to mental illness. She agreed with me that this was not investigated often enough, but she had often ordered tests for the main B vitamins for her patients, and they were very often deficient in one or more - B3 ( niacin ) being a particularly common finding. This is also backed up by a whole chapter on the subject in ( Drs. ) Davies & Stewart's book 'Nutritional medicine' from c.1992 .
I myself take some extra B6 every day, because it stops depression. I recently stopped taking it for 2 or 3 days, and the depression came back. Also I've read many postings by people who are either celiac or gluten-intolerant who have reported getting rid of long-standing depression or even bipolar disorder, by avoiding wheat.
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Re: Mental health week 14th may

Post by izzy wizzy » Wed May 09, 2018 9:10 pm

IslandPink wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 6:16 pm
I've had lots of discussions with her over the years, but recently we were discussing the vitamin/mineral connection to mental illness. She agreed with me that this was not investigated often enough, but she had often ordered tests for the main B vitamins for her patients, and they were very often deficient in one or more - B3 ( niacin ) being a particularly common finding. This is also backed up by a whole chapter on the subject in ( Drs. ) Davies & Stewart's book 'Nutritional medicine' from c.1992
My wife has been doing much reading into the effects of a good gut biome and the parallels with good mental health. This is particularly applicable to our son (I'm a step father) who is well on the way to having a narcistic personality discorder much like his Dad and other male members of that family branch. They are all arseholes and sadly our son is headed that way. It would be nice for us to be able to be dealing with this as a mental illness that we can get help for but as is prominent in the news, there is little to no help for young people unless they've tried to take their life. And although we have got to stage 1 in the CAHMS system, we have yet to receive any actual help. The we in this is all of us because our son's issues are destroying our family.

The key to getting any help be it with mental illness or any other issue in life that we need help with is accepting there is a problem in the first place (which is where our son is not) and in so doing recognising that we are responsible for our own well being and that it is not someone else's fault. That is a hard enough position to grasp amongst adults. For that idea to gain traction in a 16 year old is bordering on impossible if the person is a fixed mindset type. And that is where we are; in an impossible situation unable to support our son, barely able to exist in the same house and all without being able to get any help. The prognosis for him is a very unhappy and probably short life (his Dad was mid fifties like me and died last year). Yeah, that didn't help either.

Now the healthy biome thing was something that when followed, gave us hope. When eating a vege rich, slimming world diet without the compensating syn foods resulted in a son that was a completely different person (he has a binge eating disorder too). The difference was amazing. It was like a new person but as per usual, that didn't last and he's worse than ever now. My wife has gone through a strong course of anti biotics and has been using this idea of healthy biome to recdover from the course of drugs and again, it's amazing the results she is having. However when he has a binge eating episode, the effect on his mood and metal health is devastating.

Ant, I can't imagine living so long with manic depression. I can see that having coping mechanisms would help and that in there very nature means acceptance of something not being right and doing something about it. That in itself is incredibly positive. Of course we can't know the ins and outs of daily life between the two of you with the strain of it. I do have some experience of manic depression as my first wife ended up with it the day after we were wed and it isn't the way you would want to start a marriage. Unsurprisingly we didn't survive it but rather than using coping mechanisms, I was the one blamed for her issues. The manic phases had her sectioned on a number of occasions; yes I had to make those phone calls but it is the right thing to do albiet very scary. She was put on lithium but that evened her out too much and so she didn't stick with it and so the cycles of it all kept going. We sere doomed from the start. It was during this 5 years, that I talked to others and realised just how many people around me were or had been affected by mental illness but this being back in 1987, mental health issues were just not discussed like they are today. This thread alone is testamant to that and it can only be a good thing.

I'm glad you posted Ant. I'm saying it's not selfish as I think I needed to vent as well. I sincerely hope this new path brings the results you both and your family need.

cheers,

Stephen

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andrew Ivimey
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Re: Mental health week 14th may

Post by andrew Ivimey » Wed May 09, 2018 9:23 pm

Yes Ant, you are very much not alone with this. I think it is amazing that your wife found strategies to cope with this on her own and then, like so many, the strategies weren't enough. You have found a good team to help and with whom you can work - that is excellent. Not everyone gets this help - the NHS is being crushed. All power and positive thoughts to you and your family. I'm impressed with how well you have expressed these appalling difficulties and wish you every success in overcoming them.
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Re: Mental health week 14th may

Post by jack » Thu May 10, 2018 8:28 am

This is really heartfelt and impressive that you shared this with the group.

Awareness of these issues, which affect in varying degrees most people at some stage of their lives, is vital. We are lucky that the perceived stigma that used to be there is lifting and folk feel able to be more open and accepting.

Our family have been reasonably lucky in this respect, though a good friend of mine out here - a professional engineer who I've known directly or indirectly for 10 years - recently took his own life (the night before I did the half-marathon in Feb) - he'd been down over a business issue - another mate, Dave, and I had been looking after him - checking on him every day, cooking for him at weekends etc. just being there really. He was a big guy, absolute life & soul of the party - just seemed a bit low...

I had absolutely no idea it'd end the way it did - not in my wildest dreams. Dave found him and we spent the night with the police etc. out here. At 4AM, after no sleep I went to do the race and was talking to my running partner in the car (we had an hour's drive) - I was completely in shock - couldn't believe it. couldn't understand what I'd missed. couldn't understand how someone could ever make that choice.

Turns out, my running partner spent 6 years in the Samaritans so he put me straight about a lot of things that most folk just never realise or get exposed to. Still in shock (I wake up in the night) but much more observant and sensitive now...

More power to you all - thanks for sharing - I really really hope it works out well...

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Re: Mental health week 14th may

Post by Ant » Thu May 10, 2018 2:38 pm

Regarding the b vitamins, part of the plan that we formed after the first incident was for her to take these as supplements. She was absolutely adamant that she was not going to see specialists, so she took a normal multivitamin, vitamin b supplement (i forget which b vitamin), some extra magnesium, and extra iron. The studies we looked at were in various stages of agreement about b vitamins and she found that they did make a difference. They helped.
Also there are studies that link anaemia to mental health issues, and as she was found to be anaemic when she was pregnant she took iron too.
Fish oils were also studied in relation to mental health and these did make a difference so she took that too.
Also probiotics, she tried that too and again it had an effect. Also thyroid function has been linked to mental health, but hers was fine as she had had that tested fairly recently.

The combination actually brought her through the first breakdown along with my amateur psychology, pointing out the things that were irrational and explaining why they were irrational. Keeping her grounded and as rational as possible was my aim and it worked for about 6 months.

The second part was started by thoughts that she couldn't rationalise and I couldnt get through to her about. Absolute terror that 'they' were going to take her away from us, and us from her. She realised it was back, and she was starting towards a depressive low she couldn't take as she was still so fragile from the first breakdown. It was the next stage of the mood change that she couldn't stop or alter that comes as part and parcel of the condition and it was too much.

When the doc who came to see her was told what supplements the was taking, she said immediately to keep taking them. They had taken blood when she was in hospital already, the lady from the crisis team had already figured that meds were going to be required so preempted that requirement. They needed a set of blood work to make sure she was ok to take the meds she has, another way that that initial contact helped so much. There was no delay in getting the treatment.

I do think that there are ways and means outside the nhs to regulate mental health that do work to an extent, but these won't work for everyone. They didn't prevent what happened in this case, but they did go a long way towards helping, and helped her to climb out of the hole she was in after the first breakdown.

Her condition needs medication, the holistic approach she wanted and that we took wasn't enough

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Re: Mental health week 14th may

Post by jack » Thu May 10, 2018 2:52 pm

One of the problems out here is that you simply can't get the meds legally - pretty much anything that alters the state of your mind is heavily controlled, with the exception of caffeine. The stuff you need during a crisis is simply not there.

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Re: Mental health week 14th may

Post by Paul Barker » Fri May 11, 2018 12:00 pm

Condolences, sometimes my Ashington friends grandad’s favourite statement “ best to say nowt.” Applies. The older I am the wiser his words are.

Similarly often best to do nowt. Doing for people will prevent them doing for themselves and the business of doing I the best therapy.

But I do care Anthony
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