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Tiny Tyger, Baby Bear and Me: November 2015

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Anonymity (Or Lack Thereof)

In my last blog post (about murderous minibus drivers trying to kill off the Wolf - here) I promised a post about an incident from the beginning of the week.  However, something has come up that's made me rethink.

I have been recognised out in the real world.  Maybe the green hair wasn't great for anonymity after all...

Though, my blog profile photo doesn't include the long dark roots.
In all seriousness, I genuinely - and probably naively - didn't see this coming.  I just don't have that much contact with people in 'the real world' except the postman (maybe it was the postie!).  Whilst my blog is gradually getting more views and I had a 'blog of the day' on Mumsnet Bloggers Network recently, which got considerably more view than most of my other posts, we're still very much talking hundreds and not thousands of views per post.

Really and truly, up until I was 'outed', I still felt a lot like I was shouting into the ether when I wrote a blog post and, actually, that was okay because it gave me a certain level of freedom.  I mean, I've always been a little cautious.  I've never mentioned my own name or the names of the kids or my husband or anyone I know (even the postie...come to think of it, I don't know the postman's name).  I've never mentioned place names.  I haven't even included photos that show our faces.

But, our hair...now, that's hard to disguise.  As I said, I currently have green hair.  It's a little distinctive.  And Tyger has very long hair, which wouldn't be particularly identifying if he were a girl but as a three year old boy it is unthinkable he should have such long hair.  In fact, an architect was here just the other day to talk to my parents and Tyger was - as usual - completely naked.  The architect talked about 'she' and 'her' and the 'little girl' with every reference to Tyger despite the very obvious clue he was not, in fact, a little girl.  This happens a lot.  Apparently, long hair trumps a penis (there's a phrase I never thought I'd type).

The recognisable hair combined with the content of this blog means it was always possible someone I knew would identify me but I suppose I always assumed if it happened it would be at some vague future point and along the lines of, 'Wait, did you write that thing about autism?  Huh, I read that!'  I certainly didn't expect to be accused of libel (yup - there's no threat of legal action or anything but the word was used).  I didn't think I was interesting enough for such things.  I also wonder how much of the 'someone told me someone told them you wrote X about...' nonsense comes from a place of genuine concern and how much comes from a desire to create some drama and be involved in the resulting furor.

Personally, I hate 'drama'.  The thought of a planned confrontation has me sleepless and feeling ill beforehand.  The possibility of people getting angry or - much, much worse - upset because of something I've done or said (or written) can leave me with a big ball of anxiety in my gut, numbness in my extremities and fuzziness in my vision.  I'll obsess over it for hours or even days.

I try, very hard, to think of people as human beings with real lives and feelings when I write anything on the internet.  It's common knowledge the anonymity of writing something online turns people into nasty, cruel parodies of themselves.  I imagine most people have experienced it, even if just from the sidelines.  I've certainly seen more than one instance of someone being unnecessarily nasty on a forum and it's clear if the keyboard warrior was actually presented with the victim - with their distress written across their face and voice catching and all the actual queues we pick up on when we see people in the flesh - the attacker would feel terrible.

Actually, when someone's right there in front of us, we're a pretty empathetic bunch.

I try to bear the same things in mind when writing about people I've met but it's all a little different.  Both the moral and legal implications of writing about someone you have actually spoken to face to face are hard to tease out.  There's always a chance they will see what you've written.  Should you avoid ever referencing anything that might be problematic if read by certain people?  Is it different to talking to your friends and family about things that have happened to you?  There's still a chance it will get back to someone in that case.  Should we all cease talking about other people completely, even if we need advice or need to vent?

We teach our kids about internet safety.  Okay, the only internet safety I've taught Tyger so far is not to put the laptop cable in his mouth but as he gets older I'll need to talk to him about being careful about what he says and not giving away identifying information.  What about us adults?

Does this look tasty to you because apparently to toddlers and
preschoolers it's indistinguishable from a lollipop.
This blog, certain forums, Facebook groups, Twitter: I have had some excellent support, advice, help and - not insignificantly - enjoyment from all of them.  Sharing personal details, experiences and problems has been an important part of that.  Sometimes it's necessary in order to give a full picture when you need advice.  Sometimes you want to tell people about your own experiences so they can learn from them or just so they're aware they're not alone.

Should people in a position of authority and responsibility never be spoken about or mentioned in person or online?  Is that a realistic expectation?

What about when someone wants advice about a doctor's appointment?  Or when a parent is trying to work through an incident their child had with a teacher?  In a world where we conduct a large number of our interactions online can doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers, nursery nurses, advisers, politicians etc. etc. really demand to never have them, their actions or their place of work discussed on the internet?

I don't have the answer.  I don't know when - or if - I will have the answer.  For the time being, at least, I need to have a serious think about how much I should censor my online content.

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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Hit by a Bus...Literally (Okay, 'Minibus')

This last week has been an eventful and stressful week, which has left me with the question of whether to write about all that's happened as my blog post (and so work myself up even more about it and worry about what people might think or say and try to fit it all in without the post being some ridiculous length) or put it to one side and write about something else (which I wouldn't really be focused on and wouldn't do justice).  Instead of get myself into a tizz, I'm going to split the week into its two main events and - unusually for me - write a mid-week blog post as well as my normal weekend entry.

I'll start with the second awful thing that's happened because most of my favourite novels are non-linear (and, more importantly, this one is less relevant to my usual blog posts so is more fitting for a mid-week slot - hopefully the Wolf can forgive me).


The Wolf cycles to and from the train station on his way to work.

On Tuesday he was hit by a minibus.

The phone rang before 7.30am.  The phone does not normally ring before 9am and certainly not before 8.  A 7.20am phone call is immediately a worrying thing to answer, made more worrying when the first thing you hear is your husband telling you not to worry.  Worry, worry, worry.

The Wolf explained he was hit by a bus (yeah, Goram 'bus' at this point and not 'minibus') and was waiting for an ambulance but he was 'okay'.  He didn't sound okay and I was suspicious he might be minimising so as not to cause me too much...what was that word again?

I told my mum and set about getting dressed, getting the boys dressed, getting their teeth cleaned and all that jazz.  I didn't know what would happen.  I didn't know if the Wolf would have to go to hospital or we'd go and find him or what but I figured making sure we were ready for...whatever was the best course of action (and I needed action to stop me thinking too much).

My mum took my sister to the school bus and found the Wolf really hadn't got very far before the accident and so she was able to hop in the ambulance and send me a photo to alleviate my concern he was more badly injured than he'd claimed on the phone.

I never doubted him!  *Ahem*
The lovely paramedics drove him back to the house since it was so close by and Tyger got to go in the ambulance (which made up for the fact he was bitterly disappointed we're weren't going to the hospital, which he thought would be 'funner' than staying at home).

The Wolf is okay.  I mean, really, really sore and stiff but no broken bones as far as the paramedics could tell and no blow to the head or anything.  Luckily, he was wearing a huge backpack full of stuff for the gym because without that his back would almost certainly be broken.

This is a very sturdy, metal water bottle that was in his bag.
It didn't fare well.
The minibus driver just 'didn't see him'.  On a long, straight bit of road.  With hi-viz gear on.  And lights...

The police are making the minibus driver take a test for elderly drivers involved in traffic accidents.  If he fails, his licence will be revoked.

Tyger has a different suggestion.  He is adamant the minibus driver should be thrown in the bin and has told the Wolf to do so if their paths cross again.  Tyger is actually quite worried - there's that word again - about the whole thing and has told the Wolf not to go back to work in case the minibus 'gets' him.  It's been fine this week because the Wolf took a couple of days off and is now working from home for the rest of the week.  Next week, though...we'll see how Tyger copes with that.

So, that was a shock for everyone, not helped by the fact we were already stressed from the previous day.  But that's for the weekend's blog post!

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Sunday, 22 November 2015

I Don't Want to Talk About It

A fortnight ago I wrote about my experience of depression and diagnosis of it.  The post was quite well received and some interest was shown in a follow-up about treatment.  I like to indulge my adoring public so you have only yourselves to blame for the following!

Once I was diagnosed the question of treatment came up.  My GP didn't want to put a teenager straight on antidepressants so he referred me for 'talking therapy'.  Now, I can talk.  I can talk and talk and talk.  I can even talk about personal and embarrassing stuff like the time I threw up in a bin at school, or the fact I thought 'fatigue' was pronounced 'fat-ee-goo' when I was at Uni doing an English degree, or about how my right boob is considerably bigger than my left.  I'm not so good at really discussing private thoughts and feelings.  I'm British; I don't really do all those icky emotions.

However, the Wolf emphatically pointed out there would be no point in me going if I wasn't going to be completely open and honest so I answered all questions truthfully and in detail: thoughts I obsessed over, personal admissions and - indeed - all the icky emotions.

The whole time I was talking the therapist seemed...disinterested.  Perhaps I'd watched too much TV but I expected him to pick out something I'd mentioned and focus on discussing it.  Or, perhaps, he'd just show some amazing insight into my psyche from all I'd told him and so be able to cure my depression.  Or we'd strike up an unlikely but humorous friendship and both end up learning something about ourselves.  Unrealistic, perhaps, but it was called talking therapy.  I was expecting there to be an emphasis on the...you know...talking!

It's not like there was anything shocking in all I'd told him; I'm fortunate enough to have had a relatively uneventful life free of abuse or hardship.  Still, I wanted some acknowledgement that I had spoken, that I was an individual.  Instead, he showed me a booklet I was to fill in and sent me on my way.  It was obvious I could have told this guy absolutely anything and his response (handing over the booklet) would have been the same.  So why had I even bothered?

The booklet was a CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) self-help style book to be filled in.  I know more about CBT these days and have heard some really good things about it.  Back then, I knew about Pavlov's dogs and that was about it.  Really, it shouldn't have mattered how much I knew because my therapist should have given me all sufficient information and built up some sort of rapport with me so I placed a little trust in him.  The actual information he did give me coupled with his general attitude just meant I felt dismissed and patronised.

Of course, these days I'm used to that.
The booklet itself was very basic and seemed to me  to be condescending.  I'd researched depression pretty thoroughly before going to the doctor in the first place because the last thing I wanted was to be told I was talking nonsense.  The booklet just seemed to reiterate everything I'd already read and offered very little I couldn't have found on Wikipedia.  It was literally along the lines of, 'when you start to feel sad, try to think of happy things.'  I thought, 'If it was that smegging easy nobody would ever have depression in the first place!'

Thanks for that.
Next appointment, I told the therapist all this.  I thought he could suggest an alternate approach or even just talk through the merits of the book.  Perhaps there was a different book?  He told me it had to be simplistic to be understood by anyone who might need it and that was that.  I was to carry on with the book and he'd see me next week.

The third appointment I told him I felt much better and didn't think I needed to come back.  He accepted this, no questions asked, and I went home feeling utterly hopeless.

Actually, this kid's book is a little weird.
Months later we moved into a new flat and changed GPs so I decided to try the new doctor and confess my depression hadn't gone away.  The GP I saw suggested antidepressants almost straight away.  Again, I was relieved I was again being taken seriously...until she she told me she could only prescribe me a week's worth at a time because it probably wasn't wise for someone in my mental state, 'to have lots of pills lying around.'  Then I wondered if she was taking it a little too seriously and I wasn't sure whether I should tell her my suicide 'plan' - for want of a better word - had never involved an overdose...

I wouldn't electrocute myself either but, seriously, this book is odd...
Depression can make you paranoid.  I was convinced, to start with, the GP had given me a placebo (though, why she would be so worried about all those pills 'lying around' if they were sugar pills I don't know) but the side effects I got for the first week convinced me they were the real deal.

I felt...stoned.  Sort of, anyway.  I just felt incredibly spaced out and slow.  I had a part-time job as a sales assistant and I was convinced my boss would call me into the office to tell me there was a discrepancy in my till during that first week.  I'd get to the end of my shift and have almost no memory of serving any of the customers who'd come to my till.

The Wolf and I went to play badminton and as soon as we started he just laughed at me.  I thought I was moving at normal speed but he said it was like I was moving in slow motion.  Imagine a not particularly sporty 19 year old probably wearing the same pair of Skechers trainers I've owned since I was about 14 or 15 (they're still the only trainers I own), a pair of purple tie-dye short shorts and a baggy t-shirt with Tigger on the front drifting around the badminton court (are they called courts in badminton?? - told you I'm not sporty) and trying to swing at the shuttlecock at half the speed necessary to make contact with it.  It probably was quite comical.

The last thing I want to do is put anyone off getting treatment for depression.  The side effects from antidepressants can vary pretty wildly from person to person and - as I said - this fuzzy state didn't last long.

After a couple of weeks the tablets started to help.  It's hard to describe in what way they help, in much the same way it's hard to describe how depression feels in the first place.  The severity of my depression varied from week to week anyway and I think I felt a bit better as soon as I'd been prescribed the antidepressants just for the fact I was doing something to help so it was hard to tell when the tablets kicked in.  It wasn't like I felt amazingly happy overnight;  I wouldn't say the meds even take away the depression, as such, but they level me out enough that I can deal with the situations and thoughts that made me feel depressed.

I guess it's like - and bear with me here because I've said before I'm crap with metaphors - if depression is being lost in a forest in the dark then the antidepressants don't take you out of the forest but they do provide you with a torch and...compass (not that I'm sure a compass would really help me if I was lost in a forest...maybe a map...or a mobile phone?) so you can find your own way out.

Since then I've been back to the doctor to say I'm depressed again - and been put on antidepressants again - three more times.  The only regrets I have around taking antidepressants is I stopped once I felt better (normally after about three months) without consulting my GP.  The last time I went back the doctor told me I should stay on for at least two years for the best chance of avoiding another recurrence.  I've been on them now for perhaps nine months and other than changing the kind I was taking because these treat anxiety better (something I'll perhaps write about another time), I've taken them consistently and plan to carry on doing so for at least the next year.

And that's okay, actually.

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Sunday, 15 November 2015

What If There Was a Cure for Autism?

About five months ago I wrote this blog post about Baby Bear and my growing suspicion that he - like Tyger - has ASD.

So, have I changed my mind in the interim?


I am surer and surer with every week that passes.  Baby Bear is autistic.

There are many reasons I'm so sure Bear (I really need to stop calling him 'Baby Bear' at some point given he hasn't technically been a baby for almost eight months now) has ASD.  He walks on tiptoes a lot, he flaps his hands when he's excited or frustrated, he has some slightly 'odd' mannerisms like walking around with his head pressed against his shoulder as if he's keeping an imaginary phone in place without using his hands, the way he talks in mostly vowel sounds with very few consonants, he's funny about textures and has become more and more fussy with regards to food, and he has huge tantrums where he screams and screams for half an hour or more and scratches his face and hits himself and...you get the idea.

In the last few days I've been pondering how I feel already knowing Bear has ASD when he's still so young.  How do I feel about having two autistic children, what does it mean for Bear in the future, when should I start trying to get him a diagnosis?  But the main thing I've caught myself thinking over and over is, 'Does Bear do that because he's autistic or would he do it anyway?'

Bear can be quite violent (he might run over to me when I'm sitting on the sofa and suddenly bite me so hard it draws blood) and a week or so ago I pretended to cry after he'd hit me.  He seemed concerned and brushed my hair out of my face.  It was very sweet and it seemed to make sense that he wanted to study my face to figure out what was going on and how I felt.  But, a couple of days later, he hurt me again and - again - I pretended to cry.  This time I had my hair back in a ponytail...so he grabbed some of the loose bits and put them in front of my face before brushing them aside.  I can only assume he has seen me brush the hair out of Tyger's face when he's upset and Bear has decided that's just what you do when someone's crying.  Copying and repeating a social action without actually understanding the reasoning behind it?  Hmm...that's very autistic.

Or is it?  Maybe he did it that first time because he really did want to see my face and liked the fact I smiled so tried to recreate that sequence.  It doesn't really matter whether he did it because he's autistic or not but the fact I wonder so often is interesting and reminds me of a recent conversation I had with the Wolf.  He asked, if a 'cure' for ASD was discovered would I give it to Tyger.  Without really thinking I said 'yes'.

I suppose, at that point, I was assuming a 'cure' for ASD would be akin to taking antidepressants.  When I take antidepressants for my depression (which, incidentally, I wrote about last week) they help with the negative symptoms of depression but they don't change me as a person.  I do quite often feel a little 'spaced' for a week or so but past that I still quote Firefly and Game of Thrones at people, I still drink copious amounts of tea, I still feel socially awkward about strangers holding the door for me but I don't cry whenever the slightest thing goes wrong, I don't take hours to get to sleep.

I know highly you all regard my MS Paint skills.
But would it be the same for ASD?  If there was some 'antiautisant' would it simply take away Tyger's need for certain routines and distress at their change, would it just remove his anxiety, would it help with his sensory issues?  That would be great.  That would be Tyger without so much stress and worry and with fewer - if any - meltdowns.

Or would it stop all obsessive behaviour completely so he wasn't interested in hoovers anymore?  Would it reduce his anxiety to the point where he'd stop telling me he loved me all the time (I strongly suspect he tells me so often for the reassurance of hearing me say it back because of his anxiety)?  Would it mean his unique way of viewing the world would disappear along with the autism?

Would Tyger still have put the old, broken Dyson attachment on his
toy Henry Hoover if he wasn't autistic?
And would he still have decorated one of his Halloween cupcakes with
a Henry Hoover (that's apparently what you're looking at here...)?
Would it, as the Wolf put it, essentially 'kill' Tyger and leave us with a stranger in his place?

Because that's a chilling thought.

This is actually a very controversial debate among a lot of autistic people and the parents of autistic children and understandably, too.  It's unsurprising anyone with ASD who thinks their personality and identity are inextricable from their ASD would be offended by the very idea of something that would remove it.  On the other hand, it's equally understandable someone who feels every day is a battle because of their ASD would be in favour of making things easier.  Then there are the parents of children with 'regressive autism'.  Children with regressive autism often start talking and communicating and developing like their neurotypical peers but they suddenly stop talking, laughing, smiling and engaging in any social interaction at some point as a toddler.  When this happens, the parents - especially if they don't have any knowledge or experience of ASD - can feel like they've 'lost' the child they had.  Like that child has disappeared and been replaced by a different one.  Can you blame them for wanting the child they feel they've lost back, if only fleetingly?  In actuality they have not 'lost' their child but it's not surprising if that's how they feel at the point of regression.

Of course, whilst ASD is still so little understood it's impossible to say exactly what a 'cure' would entail and what it would actually do.

There's no way of knowing whether 'getting rid' of his ASD would stop Bear from brushing the hair from my face when I pretend to cry.  Or take away his cheekiness or his love of his favourite toy and his current obsession with the anime film Totoro.  Maybe it would just stop his violent, half hour tantrums.

Or maybe it would stop him from hiding when he's doing a poo.
It might make Tyger a better eater so he could have his food touching and would consider trying vegetables...or it might stop all his fascinating and quirky questions about how the world works.

Perhaps it would make it easier for my sister to attend college without becoming completely overloaded but it could completely change her interests and hobbies and all the things that make her...her.

To be honest, there's probably no point arguing over it right now because the truth is we just don't know.  That doesn't stop me analysing everything the cubs do, though, and wondering whether they do it because they're autistic or because of their personalities...or whether there's even a difference.

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Saturday, 7 November 2015

Me, My Mental Health and I

I was toying with the idea of writing an 'All about Nym' post.  Some sort of flippant, humorous and probably slightly twee list of things I like and dislike or some facts about me or some such.  But having paid attention to my last blog post asking for feedback and just thinking about which of my posts seem to get the best response, I think I know what would go down better even if I've shied away from writing an entire blog post about it so far because it seems self indulgent.  Besides, if my 16 year old sister can open up about how ASD and meltdowns affect her (in this post) then I feel I really should show the same sort of willing (though, I can't promise the results will make for such good reading).

Okay.  I suffer from depression.

Not a particularly shocking or daring admission given - besides the fact I've mentioned it on this blog before - depression affects one in...ten...five...four...I'm not sure, actually, Google couldn't seem to come to a consensus.  Loads.  Loads and loads of people have depression at some point and even more people know someone who is depressed, is what I'm trying to say.

I think I had been suffering on and off with depression for a long time before I realised what it was.  A long time.  As in, I remember taking myself off to my dad's workshop to read and just crying and crying for no reason then lying when Mum asked if something was wrong and I was nine at the time.

I was twice that age when I figured out what might be causing it.  The Wolf and I got a flat in Glasgow the September after I turned 18 because I'd been accepted into the University of Glasgow.  I remember unpacking one of the boxes for the kitchen - the Wolf was at work so I was home alone - and as I was taking the bubble wrap off a champagne flute I dropped it and it broke.  And then I broke...down (this seemed like a good metaphor when I started).  This wasn't some ornate, crystal champagne flute or anything.  At least, I'm pretty sure it wasn't!  No, it was part of a present from a friend; what with me turning 18 and everything (for any US readers, the legal age for buying alcohol in the UK is 18) and I think it was even part of a set of two but it just upset me so much that I'd managed to package this breakable thing up and transport it all the way from home with it intact just to drop it after I'd unwrapped it.  It was like a Of Mice and Men thing except instead of my home being destroyed like in the poem or having to kill my best friend like in the novel my champagne flute broke despite all that bubble wrap.  Okay, so maybe they're not comparable but that's the point.  It wasn't the end of the world (it wasn't even the end of me drinking champagne since we couldn't afford it at the time, anyway) but I sat on the floor of our tiny kitchenette and sobbed and sobbed.

None of these are the glass in question.
Obviously, since that one...you know.

I don't think it was as a direct result of this I sought help but this was certainly one of the incidents that led to my realisation it probably wasn't 'normal' to cry for half an hour over breaking a glass.

I've been asked before what depression feels like and it's hard to answer, not least because when I'm not depressed I don't think I truly remember what it was like when I was in the midst of it.  The thing with the glass was common, though.  You know how sometimes you have a really crappy day?  Maybe you were kept awake half the night by noisy neighbours, then you realise you're out of milk when you go to make tea, then you forget your purse/phone etc. when you go out and each thing on its own is just a small irritation you'd normally sigh about and shrug off but after a whole day of small irritations it just takes one more to make you snap?  That's part of what being depressed is for me.  Small annoyances seem like the very last straw every single time.  The number of times I cried through washing up just because...I didn't want to wash up (we ended up getting a dishwasher eventually) is ridiculous.  If I was alone - I don't do crying in front of people - it didn't take much: something breaking, realising an item of clothing I wanted to wear was in the wash, not being able to decide what to eat.  Any of these things could cause me to cry and cry.

Or finding there was only Goram Eclairs left in the tub.
Actually, we probably couldn't afford Cadbury's Heroes at the time.
Which would also have made me cry.

Whilst I didn't realise this was, in fact, depression I did know my reactions were not completely normal so I hid it all from everyone bar the Wolf.  Though, even with him, I didn't confide exactly but when you live with someone in a small, one bedroom flat the darkness will seep out.

When we were little my brother decided it would be fun to try to make 'slime'  He went about this by combining the inside of a glowstick with some WD40, a rubber (eraser for you non-Brits - he didn't put any condoms in to my knowledge, though he probably would have if he'd had one) and who knows what else.  This was all stored in a small plastic pot with a magnifying glass lid designed - I assume from the plastic spider that came with it - to hold spiders and insects.  He blithely added all these ingredients and left the little tub on a shelf.  The terrifying concoction eroded the plastic, ate its way through the wooden shelf underneath...and the shelf below that.  It was...sort of fascinating but pretty scary and weird.  And not entirely unlike my depression eroding away my hope, patience, self confidence and very gradually dripping its acid on the Wolf and our relationship and my relationships with everyone else, too.

See, whilst I did hide my depression from everyone I knew (very well apparently since more than one of my friends said I was literally the last person they would have thought was depressed after I finally told people), it still took its toll on all my interactions with other humans.  When you construct this happy, jokey, easy going facade for all conversations you're left behind it peeking out.  It's not really you having chatting and smiling, it's this construction.  Once you're alone again you feel all the more lonely for having faked your way through all your chances to properly connect with someone else.  That is the single most overriding feeling when I'm depressed, actually,  Sure, I feel defeated and distressed and miserable and guilty and paranoid but more than anything else I feel lonely.

Within a few months of the champagne flute breaking I took an online test where if you tick yes to more than X number of questions it indicates you may have depression.  I scored more than the minimum number and decided to go and see my GP.

But I was scared.  I wasn't scared he'd say I had depression; I was scared he'd say I didn't.  If I had depression there was a reason for why I felt the way I felt and there was a chance I could get better.  If I didn't...then I was just a miserable git of a person and that wasn't ever likely to change.

One of the reasons it had taken so long for me to realise I might have depression was because depression was a real condition and surely me crying quite a lot and feeling completely and utterly hopeless and alone was just being a teenager.  The impression I got from the little I knew about depression was that it rendered you incapable of any sort of normal life without you grabbing at the nearest sharp object to hack away at your wrists.  I was having a hard time but I had some good days here and there and I managed to function and even talk and laugh when around other people.  If I had a particularly rough night of obsessing over every single bad thing that had happened in the last year or so and finally crying myself to sleep at 3am (very quietly so as not to wake the Wolf) then the next day when I was out at Uni and the sun was shining and people were going about their lives all around me I'd tell myself I'd been silly and everything always seems worse in the middle of the night and I just needed to pull myself together.  I'm British, after all!  Stiff upper lip and all that.  Surely I could just walk it off.

But as stiff as my lip was (that sounds really terribly bad now I've written it down) and as much walking as I did to and from campus every day, I still had these awful episodes and an overriding sense of things being hopeless.

I went along to the GP appointment with a list.  I was worried I'd be laughed out of the room for being a melodramatic teenage girl so I clutched my little notebook of evidence (this was to stand me in good stead when I needed to document all Tyger's autistic traits and behaviours for evidence almost a decade later) and hoped I'd be taken seriously.

Which one is best for taking notes on Great Expectations and which
is best for noting down all the signs of a potential mental illness?

I earnestly went through my list of symptoms: both psychological (feelings of despair, guilt, irritability etc.) and physical (insomnia, headaches, loss of appetite, fatigue...).  The doctor was lovely and thankfully did take me very seriously.  I had to fill out a sort of assessment questionnaire, which went over the same ground I'd already covered with my little notebook but this was official and asked how many times I'd suffered from each thought or symptom in the last week.  It came back showing I had moderate depression.

I was so relieved.

The doctor said he was reluctant to put someone so young straight onto antidepressants so he referred me for 'talking therapy' instead.  I was secretly a little thrilled.  As much as the thought of having to actually tell someone all about the ridiculous things going on in my head was, I felt a little like a character out of an American TV show.  They all seemed to have 'shrinks', after all and at 18 it seemed almost glamorous.  As it happens, my experience with the talking therapist was not particularly positive but I suspect this is reaching it's attention-holding limit so that may be the subject of a future post.

If you're disappointed I didn't write a blog post about my likes and dislikes I can tell you I like tea and stepping on crunchy pine cones and dislike motivational minion memes and the volume for the TV being on an odd number.  It probably wasn't worth an entire post.

Linked with:
Mami 2 Five

The Twinkle Diaries

A Bit Of Everything

A Cornish Mum

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