Category Archives: Blog

Light After Dark (Part 1)

Seven months. It’s probably the longest I’ve gone without writing since I met my husband 4 years ago. It has been an uphill battle just to survive these last 9, 10 months or so. Depression turned into severe mood swings cycling through every mood in the human reservoir (with irritability featuring as every other emotion) every hour of the day. I slept 18-36 hours at a time and had nightmares. Being awake was a nightmare. I felt nothing, I was numb. Eventually, at some point around 4 or 5 months ago, I started listening to my body more; the cravings for a natural lifestyle were overwhelming, to say the least. I was sick of trying every drug under the sun to control my lupus and pain. I was sick of taking anti-depressants that obviously were not working. I was sick of eating junk food and binge eating. I was very sick.

The first step to rediscovering myself was to take control of my medication and diet. My body wanted natural foods, so I started adding more and more fresh veg to meals, eating fruit, drinking more water. I came off the anti-depressant. I did it cold turkey. I figured there was no point titrating it; it was doing nothing for me. Within days I felt happier than I had in months. After around 6 weeks, my symptoms returned; not as severe but certainly extremely marked. I also started on a new-old treatment for the lupus and arthritis that exacerbated my symptoms and, at one point, sent me into a severe neurotic, bordering psychotic, episode. I made the decision based on my gut instinct.

Yes, I wanted a cleaner body, as chemical-free as possible. But I also needed the disease to be under control. I re-introduced the anti-depressant, and at present I take it just two days a week so I can take the treatment for the lupus. The trouble is, the combination for the lupus (Etodolac and Prednisolone) was the first thing to work. Last year I went through codeine, tramadol, buprenorphine, fentanyl, even morphine. I eventually opted to go back onto an anti-inflammatory drug and, perhaps unsurprisingly, my pain drastically reduced. Etodolac was prescribed as a long-term sustained-release option, but wasn’t controlling the disease; with the re-introduction of Prednisolone at a low dose, all my pain, all my symptoms, were virtually gone. I couldn’t give that up, having spent months wanting to die to escape the pain, having had to suffer the humiliation of needing to be lifted out of bed, waking crying at night with joints that had locked, being put into and out of the bath, and being dressed head to toe by my husband, all at the age of 27. As much as I want to be chemical-free, I’m glad I’m on a regime that currently works; especially knowing what I know now (we’ll come to that later).

Back to the anti-depressant, having just taken it blithely day after day for month after month seems to have been masking the real issue; making me believe I had depression and that was that. But I know now, the real issue was not depression. I’m awaiting assessment for Level 3 care (high intensity therapy) to help me understand and manage my depressive episodes better, but the depression is only a part of a bigger picture. We ruled out bipolar a long time ago, before understanding the different levels. There’s not just bipolar I and II, but III, IV, and V.  It’s a broader spectrum. Like lupus. If you had to put lupus into five levels, I’d probably be a four. So we can’t rule out bipolar. However, the diagnosis that ticks every single box, every diagnostic pointer, and explains so much of my behaviour, my feelings, my beliefs since childhood, is borderline personality disorder. It helps to explain my difficulty in maintaining close friendships. My irrational but sickeningly real fear of abandonment. My permanent belief of, “I’m not good enough, I never will be, everyone is better than me”, “I’m only ever good enough to have potential, I’m never good enough at anything to have a purpose in life”, which leads to the suicidal thoughts of, “People would be better off without me”. I ended friendships based on this fear and this belief. I left my job in part because I was overwhelmed with feeling this way.

As my pain improved, and when the depressive episodes lifted and I had a burst of motivation, I began to step onto my yoga mat again. And it is through this, and the yoga community, I believe I found my path.

“To Those I Love”: An Open Letter

To Those I Love Public PDF – Download & Print

Published May 2015
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To Those I Love,

A Letter from the Heart.

If I cannot come to see you, or to see you if you come to see me, know that it’s not personal; it’s never you.

If I try and I fail, it is better to be happy for me that I tried than to be sad or frustrated that I failed. Every attempt, no matter how far I get, is a step I am taking back to you.

If I am able to reach you physically yet cannot meet your eyes, speak, stay or seem to be comfortable in your company, it’s not personal; it’s never you.

If I try and I fail to be there emotionally, please try to remember that it is because my demons are taking my attention away from you and making me uncomfortable.

If I seem selfish in my behaviour, it is because I am trying so hard not to be selfish. I am trying to find myself and reclaim my mind from my demons so that I can be there, in mind and body, for you.

If I become so uncomfortable to the point my behaviour screams that I want to get away, know that it’s not because of you. Sometimes I have to leave in order to redeem myself and to protect you from feeling uncomfortable or from worrying about me quite as much. Sometimes I have to say to myself, “I’ve done all I can for now. I will try again another day.” I will come back to you. If not that day, then another day.

I came to be this way because of life experiences that imprinted into my young and influential brain that certain situations are not safe for me to be in. Years of seeking help and failing to get it meant that the longer I went untreated, the more ingrained my behaviours, thoughts and fears became. By the time someone listened and I did receive help, my demons had become so deep-rooted that even twelve years on, I haven’t been able to fix all the things that went so wrong.

Anything that reminds me of those experiences encourages the demons to come forwards, and it often takes all my energy to hold them back until they relent.

And they do relent. It is possible for me to put them in their place and to live life just as me, without my demons. But to bounce back from a time when they got the better of me, from a time they have ruled my life, it’s the hardest thing in the world to do. Sometimes it feels like a constant fight. I am told that one approach to recovery is to stop fighting. Yet to stop fighting means to fight against the urge to fight. There is no easy way for me to recover and live the life I want to, and it will take time. It might take weeks, months, or even years. No-one can know how long it will take. Matters of the brain and mind are complex. All I can do is keep trying. Some days will be better than others.

I have written this to you because you are one of a select group of people who have loved and supported me through the tough times. You have also seen me at my best and therefore have the belief and knowledge that I can be fully present and safe in life, no matter where I am. Your belief in me gives me hope and faith and reminds me that I can get back to living my life as I was, with you as an important and regular feature, enjoying your company and love and sharing days and life experiences with nothing to get in the way. No-one can understand how much I am missing that freedom right now.

I am more grateful than anyone can ever know for those people who love and have loved me. I am not an easy person, and knowing that makes me appreciate and love you all the more for the fact that you have accepted me as a part of your life, whether directly or by association.

Thank you for celebrating the good times with me, and for supporting me through the difficult times. I hope one day to be able to return the kindness, stability and love you have given me when you also need it most.

With much love….