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Last updated: October 2018

Living with depression

I had personal experience of depression and suicide about two years ago. For ages I felt really ashamed, but since then I’ve done a lot of soul-searching and I’ve tried to look at what happened and learn from it. Besides I’m in a much better place now so I don’t really feel ashamed anymore. So here goes: in July 2006 I attempted to committed suicide.

This will no doubt come as a big shock to most people. I’ve old told maybe a handful of people until I published this story in a Facebook note. Before 2006/the events up to attempting commit suicide I’d had absolutely no history of depression so no one could have foreseen it. Now I’m in a better place it’s again hard to imagine that I got so low. Everyone has their limits I guess.

In March 2006 I had surgery on my tendons following many years of pain and problems. The surgery gave me the potential to be able to stand - something I hadn’t been able to do in years - and I wanted to get on it so much afterwards. I was in a bit of pain and having both legs in plaster wasn’t exactly comfortable but actually I was expecting a lot worse. I recovered well but the hospital lost one of the splints which needed to be worn after the casts came off so one of the splints stayed on for another 6 weeks and rehab was put on hold which was really frustrating.

I then had a bad fall and as I fell I yanked my catheter tube. At this time I had a Foley catheter and was on the waiting list for a supapubic catheter. A few days later I went to Norfolk and I was in a lot of pain and by the time i got home I was in agony. Even so when they took the cast off I started working hard and even got back to standing at the gym. However I repeatedly spasmed out the balloon that keeps the catheter in the bladder out through my urethra - a VERY painful affair. I remember amongst all this pain I thought "sod it" and got on the bus to the gym. On the bus I started to have really strong spasms and by the time I arrived at the bus station the spasms were so strong that I must have looked like I was having a baby - hot, sweaty and trying to stop my body from giving birth to a catheter! In tears I got a bus back home, where I spasmed out another catheter.

Every time this would happen I would phone the district nurses who would come and fit another even though they knew about the discomfort I was in. I was in so much pain that I called two ambulances and went to A&E myself but every time they would send me away with antibiotics for a UTI which I knew it wasn’t. The next time I spasmed out a catheter that was it - I refused to have another. This is when I experienced the first sign that things weren’t right - I remember crying when my PAs came in the morning. I didn’t really know why and I lacked the motivation to find out. I wished I had of been aware enough to realise then that depression had snuck in and I could do with a bit of help.

The alternative to a catheter for me was pads. I know other people who use pads quite comfortably but I'm just not built for the indignity of it. I was now pain free but had to sit/lie in a wet pad all day which randomly used to leak and smell - I just didn't want to leave the house. Depression had already set in and now I’d lost confidence to leave the house too. I also had a silly amount of spasm in my legs when the catheter came out and this was something that disappeared completely after the foot surgery so far from life getting easier, I was seeing myself get worse. I did at this point email my urologist’s secretary telling her how desperate the situation had become and how much I needed a supapubic catheter (I had now been waiting about 6 months) but I didn’t get a reply or with it any hope that the situation would soon change.

I was now depressed, isolated and I lacked motivation. I couldn’t be bothered to talk to friends and I was crying a lot. I couldn’t even explain to myself why I was feeling the way I was. I'd usually say to myself “this isn't for ever: you will have the suprapubic surgery and everything will work out” but when you’re depressed there is no light at the end of the tunnel and I didn’t have any hope that I’d ever feel any better. I started adding the fact that I have a progressive disability to the mix: if I was finding life this difficult now then what was the point. If you were to ask me now I could name a million points but back i couldn’t think of one.

The final straw was when I had an argument with my bedtime PA who then told me she wanted to leave so I had the stress of needing to find another one ASAP. Then I fell out with my mum over my PA situation and at that point I just cracked. I should say that mum had been supermum that year - she had spent getting on for two months at my flat caring for me through my foot surgery and the catheter problems, but she was tired and she’d reached her limit too I guess. But back then I felt so unloved and such a burden. I left mum's house in tears and I knew what I was going to do. Life wasn't going to be so horrible for me and those around me anymore - it was the answer. So I came home and took a lot of Dihydrocodeine tablets (strong painkillers) and sat with the back of my chair against the front door so no one would disturb me.

I fell asleep quickly but woke up about 4 hours later so I went through to the kitchen and took some more. I looked down at my phone and there were LOTS of messages from mum and one from dad saying if I hadn't been in touch by 8 he was getting a cab to mine. My dad isn't really emotionally equipped for situations like that so I had no choice but to phone mum. However when I tried to talk to her what came out was a slurry mess. I think she guessed what I’d done and came to my flat with my sister. They tried to get in but I was sitting with my back to the door. My neighbour then tried to break the door down so I admitted defeat and moved. Plus I didn't want him to break the door lol.

My sister called an ambulance and I stayed in hospital for a week. During that time I made sure I told every doctor I saw how much I needed a supapubic catheter. I eventually saw a psychiatrist who said I was fit to leave hospital. About 2 weeks later I was called for the supapubic catheter surgery I so badly needed.

However I left hospital after attempting to commit suicide with no antidepressants or any follow up appointments and as the months passed I started to struggle. In the summer I’d taken on another bedtime PA whose commitment started to wane. In December 2006 she caused me a great deal of stress and didn’t turn up to help me into bed twice leaving me to sleep in my chair. At the same time I felt really really poorly. I just put it down to stress but it actually turned out to be rather significant.

A few days before Christmas 2006 I fell out of my wheelchair at home. I was ok I just needed helping back into my chair so I called the paramedics. One of their routine tests is blood sugar and mine was high so they took me into hospital where they said it was caused by a UTI and sent me away with antibiotics. However I know that diabetes is more common amongst those who have Friedreich’s ataxia so I bought a test kit so I could monitor things. Over Christmas my readings went through the roof and I felt so so poorly. To cap it all the depression was well and truly back and I spent Christmas in floods of tears.

I was terrified of depression taking over again so with my blood sugar numbers I went to the doctors and even though it took a lot of gumption, talked to him about my depression. He was really easy to talk to and very helpful - he prescribed antidepressants which were to help me with the thing that was coming next: being diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes was a huge adjustment but that’s another story.

The antidepressants have made a huge difference to my life. I initially thought my thinking would be cloudy whilst taking them but quite the opposite - I now sleep like a dream and I have so much more energy because of it. Ever since I was at school I’ve suffered with anxiety when it came to speaking on the phone, speaking to new people or speaking in situations which made me nervous. I battled with this anxiety throughout my adult years but the antidepressants addressed this and now it shocks me sometimes how confident I am. I also see the antidepressants as a safety net which wouldn’t let me fall as low as I felt last year which has taken away a big fear. In fact I’m doing so well that I’m almost afraid to stop taking them. There are too many times when I think I’d slip without them and things would get on top of me again.

Now I really try to appreciate the good times and the people I love. I can’t believe in my mind I stopped seeing them. I can’t believe that when I had that argument with mum and I left the house in tears that I didn’t come back to my flat, put some Ed Sheeran on, look at all the photos of people I love in my "hall of fame" and just cool off. I guess that’s depression for you, which is why you shouldn’t do what I did and wait until it takes over if you are ever unlucky enough to suffer from it.

 

This website has been around sinse 1998, and although it's changed a lot over the years it's always been about me and my disability. Over the years I have used many different hosts and website design packages. For the past ten years or so I have used 1&1 as my host and I have always been very happy with it. I have always wanted to learn how to build a website from scratch using Adobe Dreamweaver, so about three years ago I got in touch with Polar Solutions and arranged for a trainer to come out to my home to teach me at my own pace. So I now design this website using Adobe Dreamweaver and the skills I learned on that course. I designed the buttons using Cool Text.