Don’t be afraid to tell me

I think I’m getting a bit better. But it’s always hard to tell. I have bad days and better days. I have days when I don’t have to do anything, so it doesn’t matter. I have days when I have to talk to people, and so it does matter. Some of these, I can manage to seem quite well, some less so.

I suppose what I’m saying is I don’t really know – I’m the worst person to judge my mood, and just asking if I feel better isn’t very useful. I think what you have to be aware of is what it means to me – for example, I always want to get to get back to work too soon, so I think I’m well enough to do this. Even more unhelpfully – if I have just one good day, I feel I ought to go back to work, and that I am lazy if I don’t. 

In the circumstances, it is useful if others can help me understand how well I am, but please don’t forget that this will also have a meaning for them. My husband is good at commenting and seeking help if I am very depressed, but he understandably and reasonably wants me to be better. Not only does this make him less good at spotting any improvement in my mood as it occurs, but neither is he very good at commenting on any periods of elation or irritability, which quite often occur for me post-depression, and which I don’t tend to notice. He does notice, but the problem for him is that he likes me happy, and doesn’t even seem to mind if I spend money…. His main worry is more that my mood will plummet again.

I think my daughters may have a similar approach – it’s very much more about what it means for them, and this is completely understandable. I think I don’t always get this, but I’ve recently asked them to tell me, or their father, if they are concerned. 

What none of us want is overreaction. I don’t want to feel watched, or that every move I make causes concern. But I do think there is a happy medium. Some people rate their moods on an app; I’ve tried this, but it doesn’t seem to be very helpful for me. I don’t want to rush into increasing – or decreasing – medication too quickly, either. But given that I am now on weekly – kind of maintenance – ECT, I feel that I should be clearer about what my mood is doing. Having said that, my tendency to abandon treatment too soon perhaps means that I shouldn’t monitor it too closely. Perhaps best to just accept the ups and downs, and have a firmer, longer lasting plan rather than be too reactive to frequent changes. Who knows?

But I would quite like to be told if people are worried, especially when I go back to work. To be frank, I do worry about making an idiot of myself! But I think my colleagues are more accepting of the situation, and would tell me – or tell someone – if they have concerns. There are no secrets about my illness; it’s not always been easy sharing it with others, but people have been almost universally kind and helpful. And there’s ways of doing it – this blog has been enormously helpful for me, and I hope a bit helpful for others. So tell me! 

I think that the one difficult situation can be when I feel I’m less well, and others respond by saying – ‘But you seem absolutely fine!’ I’ve talked about this before, and it’s not helpful. By all means ask what I mean, possibly even say something like – ‘you don’t seem too bad’ – as this can be encouraging. But denying it makes me doubt myself. Again, I suppose it can depend on what meaning it has, as someone may simply want to reassure me that I am OK to work. But if that’s the case, do please explain.

I’ve had an ECT treatment today, and the communication from the staff – doctors and nurses – has been absolutely wonderful. They mostly introduce themselves (which I need), and they tell me what’s happening. I feel safe and I trust them. I like them all. I still wish that they would all tell me their names each time (including the anaesthetic staff), but I appreciate that it’s hard to understand why. 

The only slight problem is that I do feel a bit confused and wobbly during and after, and sometimes I pick things up wrongly. There were a couple of things today – the first was that a student had gone missing, and although it had nothing to do with me, I felt very anxious, thinking that they or someone close had maybe had treatment in the past, and was frightened. Clearly it was nothing to do with me, but I was worried and confused.

The other was more bizarre. Some of the staff started talking about International Talk Like a Pirate Day, apparently in 2 weeks’ time. I just found it really quite discombobulating, even though I know they were just having a bit of fun. But a bit confusing at the time.

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