Saturday, 13 September 2008

All Is Not What It Seems

Usually when I start to fall downhill there is a reason for it; an upcoming anniversary or something that has triggered things in my memory. But, as I fall deeper into the black hole that is depression, this time I am not aware of anything that could have caused it to happen.

Yesterday morning I went off to my psychotherapy session as usual. I was pretty anxious as I left the house and even more so by the time that I arrived at the hospital. My therapist was aware that all was not well almost immediately (I think the tremors in my hands may have been a bit of a giveaway) and decided that the session would take a slightly different path to normal. The session covered how I felt when a period of depression started, how I felt as it deepened and how I felt as I was coming out of it.

For me depression has always had a deeply physical side to it as well as the mental effects. When I am at my worst, my head and body no longer feel connected; there is a significant sensation of numbness in the area of my neck and shoulders. When I get to this stage I find it difficult to concentrate on even the simplest things, my sleep pattern gets worse as the days progress, and I start to have dark thoughts; my mind takes me to places that I really don't want to be.

For the first time ever, the session was a real two-way conversation and as a result I gained a lot from it because of the questions that my therapist was asking and the answers that I gave helped both of us to understand more about me.

Yesterday afternoon I had an appointment with my new GP. This was an appointment to go through the results of my recent blood test, to check on my blood pressure to see if the recent introduction of medication to lower it was having the desired effect, and for him to get to know a little more about me. He has requested that I book double appointments for at least the next few months so that he can get to know me as well as possible so that he can effectively monitor me.

The blood tests showed that all was well, my blood pressure has dropped to normal levels, and we had a good chat about what sort of psychotherapy I was having, about my sleep problems, and how I cope with things when my depression gets really bad. We also discussed a programme that the local council and PCT jointly run for people suffering from depression, anxiety and stress. The result of this discussion is that he has referred me to this programme and hopefully I shall soon be joining a local art class. I've never been much of an artist, but I've always wanted to be able to draw and paint, and I think that this might be a good way to help me with my lack of self-confidence, and help with dealing with social contacts. So with a bit of luck I will soon have a regular art class to form an alternative to my OU studies, and hopefully it will also help me focus on those studies a little better.

So what is this post all about? On the surface it may seem to be about me and my depression, but actually it is about something quite different. It is about two doctors; both of whom helped me on a day when I was feeling very down. Neither of them have made me feel better, but both have helped me to understand why I am the way that I am and have helped me to find ways in which to come to terms with that.

So, why is it that there are so many people in government who feel that doctors are not doing a good job and therefore it is necessary for them to interfere in the NHS? The problem is the government are not talking to the patients about how they feel about the NHS and its staff. They listen to big business, and to people who have an axe to grind. If they really want to know how to improve the NHS they should listen to more people like me; real patients with real problems, who are getting excellent support from their GP, access to treatment for mental health problems, and who appreciate all that is being done for them, and they need to listen to the the kind of doctors who are looking after me. It is always those at the coal face who know most about the business, not those who sit in offices far away and who have no idea about what really happens.


alhi said...

Glad you are still blogging even if no better. I find it helps me work out why I'm feeling bad if I've taken the time to write it down or type it.

Anonymous said...

Iam interested that your Therapist is a Med Doc they usually aren't. On the whole I find the treatment I get from most individuals is ok to brilliant, only a few times has it been diabolically bad, I think it is the system that is at fault and as you allude to far to many people with MBAs instead of clinical qualifications.

On a more personal note I hope you feeel better soon. Iwas interested in what you wrote about the physical manifestations of depression - I get them too.

Take Care