Tag Archives: mental illness

Is recurrent depression a degenerative disorder?

I want to make it clear from the start that I am a patient and not a professional and all views are mine unless otherwise stated.  I am merely using my own experiences to form a conclusion about recurrent depression.  Please seek professional advice if your symptoms are the same.

At the age of eighteen I was first diagnosed with depression and was prescribed lofepramine by my GP.  I was also physically healthy, weight wise, but depressed and anxious.  I look at myself now, overweight, cumbersome, bad back, full of aches and pains and wonder how much the depression has contributed to this.  Of course it could be said that it is my fault.  I’m the one who chose to eat.  Yes, but the depression took away the motivation to remain healthy.

Recurrent depression, as the name suggests, ebbs and flows throughout your life.  For weeks even months you can be fine and tick over in life, but you are never far away from another episode.  Sometimes it can be triggered, events in life get too stressful and it is your bodies way of saying ‘get out of there!’.  Just like you wouldn’t keep your hand on a hot surface for very long.  Or, episodes can occur for seemingly no reason.  These usually hit you slowly, you feel yourself go down hill.  Getting a good night’s sleep in more difficult with constant awakenings, and then a feeling of tiredness all day.  Motivation levels drops and you experience less pleasure from activities you used to enjoy.  Then along comes irritation.  I have started to shout at people who annoy me in the street or supermarket.  This, for me, happens over about two, three weeks, then the worst part of depression hits: self harm, suicidal ideation, and feelings of despair and hopelessness.  This is coupled with strong feelings of doom and anxiety.  All this while still taking all the medications.  Depression is like Japanese Knotweed; it will find a way through any barriers.

So it is dealing with these issues.  The correct port of call is the GP or mental health clinic.  Yet you have to wonder that there is not a lot they can do apart from juggle your meds about again.  That in itself could make the problem worse and take weeks if not months.  You have to taper off one before starting another and then you have the suicidal thoughts before the new drug kicks in.  I don’t think I want to go through that again.  The wrong way of coping is drink and drugs.  Drink has always been my problem.  I like a drink sometimes but it was a problem over seven years ago.  I blotted out the pain by drinking every night.  Thankfully, I haven’t done my body too much harm, my liver is OK, but it made me put on weight.  Obesity is going to lead to diabetes (I am borderline diabetes) and heart problems.

So the depression has indirectly lead me to have a unhealthy disposition.  I am nearly thirty six and dread to think what I will be like in ten, fifteen years. Of course I need to just snap out it.  I thought I could do that ten years ago but I couldn’t without the crutches of alcohol, tobacco (given that up, thankfully), sugar, and a high fat diet.  Also what does an episode of depression do to the brain itself?  The very organ that is keeping you alive and functioning is consuming itself.  Is there real physical damage done to brain cells.  For one thing I can have a terrible short term memory, forgetting things very quickly.  Long term is generally ok, but has the depression caused irreversible damage to the brain’s ability to store short term memories.  Maybe not I don’t know.  Perhaps all the medications are harm full in the long term, but they could be the one thing that is keeping you alive.

In conclusion, I decided to drink and over eat yet depression has to take some of the blame.  I wish I could blame something concrete because then I may be able to reverse it.  If it was that easy depression wouldn’t be the terrible problem it is for millions of people.


The black dog made a prolonged visit to my shoulder last week and has left residual puppies stranded there in his wake.  I don’t know why it keep happening, I take enough pills to combat it, I exercise, and try to be careful with what I eat.  This is an ongoing thing, though, as I remember mentioning this to a psychiatric nurse.  All he could say was it was the nature of the illness.  Which made me think that the best you can ever hope for is to reach remission.  Depression can flash back in an instant.  Although it is a slower process for me.  First comes the sleep problems, always waking and lucid dreams, then I get more irritable and annoyed with people, then the feelings of everything is futile, then suicidal thoughts and self harm.

It comes in that nice little package.  I’m sick of going to doctors all the time.  Having to explain myself over and over.  Not being taken seriously is also something that seems to occur yet I null this with the thought they wouldn’t put me on all these meds for nothing.  What is prevalent though is the negative ideals.  I cancel and simplify things down to ‘everything is pointless’.  Just like this post.  Utterly ridiculous.

Every now and then certain newspapers run stories about the amount of people taking psychiatric drugs.  I can’t understand why they do that, you never see articles about how many people take clonidine for high blood pressure.  There is something that bothers that section of society, people on antidepressants are ill just like anyone else, why the nasty write ups.  It also winds me up when they call antidepressants ‘happy pills’, they don’t make you happy they remove the symptoms of melancholy.  There is a subtle but important difference.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that and wallow in my own self pity a bit more.

Bipolar or not

I have a lithium level that is below therapeutic levels.  So in effect it is doing nothing.  The dose is not high enough.  My GP wouldn’t raise it the other week because I was depressed so she said we will see how it goes.  Fair enough I though, but my mood has changed.  I have become very irritable, with a racing mind and spending money I don’t have.  I have grand ideas too.  But I am not bipolar.  I bet I am.  Shouldn’t self diagnose.  Maybe the olanzapine is holding some of the symptoms in because that can act as a mood stabiliser.  I don’t feel high as in ‘happy high’, but I feel overwhelmed and hyperactive.  Concentrating on one thing is hard for too long.  I have been going for walks to try to burn of energy but it doesn’t really help.  It is a good thing I have mirtazapine, that works just right every night.

Drug regimen

8 am Venlafaxine 375 mg

Lithium 400 mg

10 am Pregabalin 300 mg

2 pm Pregabalin 300 mg

3 pm  Olanzapine 15 mg

10 pm Mirtazapine 45 mg

Lithium 400 mg

Plus, add in codeine PRN.

I don’t care if people think this is a shit blog.  It is something for me to look back on.


Depression, Delusions and the new 111 service

Something had to give yesterday, and it did.  Thankfully for me it gave in the right manner by my trying to get help through the replacement to NHS Direct, the 111 service.  I got through quickly and was handled by a very competent and helpful lady who took all my details and promised someone would ring back.  Which they did.  A clinician phoned and took note of my symptoms, put me on hold a couple of times before asking if I could get to A and E to be assessed.  This was a very good idea, trouble was the nearest one is twenty three miles away and I couldn’t get there.  So I didn’t really progress very far because I had been thinking about presenting at A and E previous to this.  Any, I took my meds and went to bed making sure to myself that I would ring my GP in the morning.

Waking up felt like pushing a tonne of cotton wool of off me.  That is the residual effects of olanzapine and mirtazapine.  I could’ve stay in bed all day but it is a very heavy sleep and I had phone calls to make.  So I got a call from my GP, told her the symptoms and she referred me back to the mental health clinic I was discharged from recently, plus increasing my olanzapine to 15 mg a day.  This was what I needed.  I can hopefully take 5 mg in the day and the 10 mg at night.  That should stop the delusions.

I think people are plotting against me, or spying on me.  I have managed to cope somewhat but it has got too much, hence all of the above.  I always worry when suicidal thoughts enter my mind.  I really thought I had got over the worst but depression/mental illness always makes sure your life revolves around it.

‘Happy’ pills.

Happy Pills

Depression can effect anyone.
Depression can effect anyone.

This article by the Daily Mail is using the typical tabloid sensational headline of equating anti-depressants to ‘happy pills’.  Let’s make it clear, anti-depressants are not ‘happy pills’.  They are used to curtail the symptoms of clinical depression by bringing a seriously low mood back to where it should be in a healthy individual.  The only time they may make someone ‘happy’ would be in the individual had a mood disorder such as bipolar, or schizo-affective disorder by making them manic.  They also fail to realise that if you wake up one morning and pop a single 20 mg prozac capsule you are not within minutes all bubbly and full of the joys of life.  Anti-depressants can take up to three weeks before any real benefits are noticed and treatment can last for years.

The quotes from Brian Protheroe saying his generation take pills to get through week by week makes them sound like drug addicts.  Anti-depressants are not controlled substances like cocaine or heroin, again they do not make you high unless you have a mood disorder.  In can take a long time to find an AD that works but if people are drinking alcohol with them then they won’t work, I can testify to that.

It seems like another hit job by the Daily Mail at people less fortunate having to take medication to cope with mental illness.  They also have to rub in cost to the taxpayer of people taking ADs.  So why don’t they pick on other broad illnesses like heart disease or diabetes?  I bet the cost is higher for those.  ADs are designed to help the brain regulate chemicals better, so why are they singled out?  That is because it seems those on benefits, unemployed, disabled, shouldn’t be getting something else for free at the cost of the precious taxpayer, should they!

So what would the £270 million be spent on?  The money ADs are costing the hard working tax payer each year, money, which to governments is like 20 quid to people on average incomes.  Are people not worthy enough to be salvaged if they do not fit into a high income bracket?  This feels like a case of demonising the poor all the while ignoring that every strata of income is effected by mental illness.  I wonder what the prescription rate for ADs is in a Tory stronghold like David Cameron’s Witney constituency.  Probably about the same.