My Story

Here's a little bit about me............

Diagnoses since 1987 - "See Me as a person, not a label"

Although I live in Edinburgh, Scotland, I was originally born in Doncaster, England in Jan 1971. I never lived there though and both my parents are from Scotland. I have moved around a lot during my younger years, including a short spell in Spain.

My childhood was a very disruptive one, with both my parents having been married and divorced 7 times between them, emotional trauma and relationship disturbance with step-parents, away at boarding school, St. Elphin's in Derbyshire & St.George's in Edinburgh, date-raped at 16 and long term suffering of mental health problems. I often wonder had these situations not occurred would I have suffered from a breakdown at 16, who knows?

It was while taking my exams just after my 16th birthday that my emotional health deteriorated from just the 'doldrums' that my teachers had reported during last couple of years at school. I felt so overwhelmed by tiredness, I would often fall asleep while trying to study, I couldn't concentrate and classes and life became meaningless, my school reports were less encouraging aswell. I was becoming increasingly despondent with my school and needed to get away. I thought a change of school would benefit my wellbeing, so I moved to Edinburgh in Aug 1987 to board at St. George's School. For the first few months I was ecstatic, a novelty factor I suspect and one which didn't last long because just two months later (Nov 1987) I took an impulsive overdose after a night out, feelings from contentment of sorts, changed very quickly to despair, I had my stomach pumped in hospital and saw the duty psychiatrist just before I was discharged, he very much related everything I was feeling to most of my past and present and said he would support me while back at school until I was feeling better and could deal with my situation myself. I saw him every 6 weeks, but I felt the same, school was such a struggle, lost in my own thoughts of despair, my head echoed, my brain numb. Nearing my final exams (May 1988), I shared a flat with my cousin as I was just about to leave school and would be staying there when I finally left, and I took a planned overdose and left a note, I gave my cousin nightmares upon finding me later on and I was taken to hospital and put on a drip and seen by another duty psychiatrist, who felt I was too much of a danger to myself to be trusted back at my flat and needed a psychiatric assessment in the local psych hospital, so I was admitted to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, the main psychiatric hospital in Edinburgh. I felt very scared, I had no idea about what a psychiatric hospital would be like, perceptions of a loony bin, mad people, screaming, violence etc was all I had known from what people had said and in the newspapers....but most of it was wrong, that was what I had been made to believe, I was safe from my self destruction. It was fairly quiet, the nurses were mostly friendly and most of the doctors wanted to help. I was admitted to an adult ward for 6 weeks, but they felt it was inappropriate to keep me there considering my age and couldn't make an effective full assessment, so they referred me onto the "Young People's Unit" (one of a very small number in Scotland which was in the grounds of the main hospital). They specialised in young people from around 12 up to 22 yrs of age, I was 17. It was a place to express yourself, lots of therapies, appropriate use of medication and 24/7 support from nurses/doctors and many other professions involved in caring for young people. I was prescribed an antidepressant after my assessment there and diagnosed with major depression. It was by no means an easy time, not just from a personal perspective of my illness, but there were inevitably clashes with other young people, staff members and working through issues that were very upsetting. I spent 7 months as an in-patient and over time my depression lifted to a point where I was then was well enough to get my own flat with another girl from the same Unit. I had weekly out-patient support, but unfortunately I went downhill within about a year up to the point where I was 5 weeks into employment, but still having depressive symptoms. This time the symptoms I had previously ignored and were quite mild from my last admission became menacing, so coupled with the depression, I was paranoid and delusional and starting to hear voices. I coped with these just before I was re-admitted by self-harming and it got to the point where I needed more treatment. I was 19 at the time (at the tail end of the unit accepting me before I would be referred to the adult services). I was in for 6 mths and a few months before discharge it was felt that it would be best for me to give up my flat and put in an application for Supported Accommodation where I could use the support as a transitional stepping stone back to being independent again should my illness improve. Around this time I also started some new medication, an antipsychotic called Sulpiride.

I was accepted for Supported Accommodation which was an environment of support from mental health workers and other residents with mental health problems. It was a fairly independent place with your own room and shared facilities and you could come and go as you pleased. While I was there and on a night out I met my now husband, and as our relationship became closer we applied together for a flat and we moved to where we are now (July 1991), this was a difficult adjustment after having been cared for for so long, but my husband has been a tower of strength through all the difficult times. I continued with weekly out-patient appointments until I was discharged from the "Young People's Unit" at 22 (1993), I was old enough now to use the adult services and was referred to them to take on my care. I'd still been suffering on and off and had taken a overdose of Amitriptyline in July 92, from which I nearly died and gave my husband enough stress to last a life-time!. Although in between episodes I'd not been too bad, never back to what I was, but functioning.

Along with changes in medication (put on Prozac and continued off and on with Sulpiride) and other services I had been pretty well until Sept 1997, (between 1993 and 1997 I had no contact with psychiatric services, apart seeing my GP for my medication, which was then only Prozac), when gradually I deteriorated, the paranoia and delusions came back as did the voices and I was sent to a day unit (Inverleith Unit) and put on a medication called Melleril which I feel contributed to my overdoses in Dec 1997 & Jan 1998 - Instead of them actually thinking properly how to handle the situation and putting me back on Sulpiride. I suffered what is called "paradoxical side-effects" - the drug was doing the opposite of what it was meant to do - this they deny. I felt very physically and mentally ill, the final straw was hearing voices telling me to kill myself, that it wasn't worth living anymore, so I made plans to run away and kill myself. I consulted my GP on the Wednesday who contacted the day unit and I saw my key nurse and psychiatrist on the Thursday in a terrible state telling them exactly what was happening to me and that I couldn't cope any longer with what I felt was a complete internal nightmare. I went home that night in what I can only describe as an irrational and frenzied state. After a sleepless night I decided my life was no longer believable and real so I planned my finale and ran away to Glasgow (40 miles away) on a train with many tablets in hand and booked myself into a B&B hoping the end would be very soon. I had many bizarre thoughts of doing away with my husband and myself so that I wouldn't feel guilty for leaving him alone, I had violent thoughts of committing suicide by hanging and jumping off a bridge, I often thought about holding up a chemist to get a dangerous supply of medication to poison myself. I obviously didn't do a very good job, because by the second night I was still here, although feeling very unwell and sick. At home, during this time, my husband had reported me missing to the police, upon which a local search was done, along with newspaper and television appeals. My money ran out, and I left the B&B, went to a call box and phoned the Samaritans and told them it hadn't worked, they persuaded me to call the police. They picked me up on a cold and rainy night outside a call box and I was taken to the police station where I was searched, put in a cell and waited for my husband to come through from Edinburgh to take me back. I was then admitted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to be treated for my overdose. A duty psychiatrist came to see me and found the whole scenario unbelievable and said I had wasted everybody's time, needless to say I was still admitted to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, the same ward where I had first been when I was 17.

I don't recall much during the first few weeks, I couldn't eat, sleep or think, the nurses had no time for me or anyone else, spending many hours in the nurses office writing notes and dealing with bureaucracy, (probably not even their fault, far too understaffed!) the doctors, you could never get an appointment with and no one bothered to even ask me what had led to my breakdown, and why I had run away. They 'assumed' I'd ran away to manipulate my husband into giving up work and gave me a diagnoses that was totally inappropriate and downright disrespectful. To think it all really kicked off because a medication didn't agree with me!.

I was discharged in March 1998 after finally getting my medication changed to Mirtazapine. I continued to attend my local day hospital (Inverleith Unit), and I slowly started to feel better again and for 6/8 months I felt the best I'd felt for years. This did not last for whatever reason and I had another short spell in hospital in August 1998, where I had my medication changed again, back to Prozac and Sulpiride. The following are my updates starting from Jan 2000 to the present.

January 2000

Things are stable, sleeping is still a major problem for me which gets me down. I have a referral to a Community Psychiatric Nurse, who will visit me at home to chat and check that things are OK, and intervene if any problems arise. During this last year I have made many new friends on the internet and being online is becoming a large part of my life.

June 2000

Life is difficult, the bad days outweigh the good. I have a Community Psychiatric Nurse now who visits me once a fortnight, and I value her support. I left the day hospital after being there for over 2 yrs, I felt I had used all the services they had to offer and no longer looked forward to attending there anymore. I try and attend a local drop-in for people with mental health problems just up the road from me called the "Threshold" 2 days a week, it's very friendly and supportive. And I spend a lot of time online getting support and offering support and of course adding lots to my web site, which I find very therapeutic. I am looking to get a referral for a review of my meds and see if something can be changed as I've been on one of my meds for 9 yrs, one other that I have been on in the past (Mirtazapine) changed my life for 6 months...the change in me was incredible and I am looking to try and get to that stage again.....hopefully!.

October 2000

I very gradually went downhill after my "June" report, I had an appointment to get my meds reviewed and my Sulpiride and Prozac were reduced, it was felt that the Sulpiride was possibly making me apathetic and lethargic and that a reduction would "improve" the situation. The Prozac was reduced because it was felt that 20mg was just as effective as 40mg. 2 weeks after these reductions I felt intense agitation over a period of a few days, I started to feel very desperate, very low mood, poor appetite and unable to sleep, the voices started to become nastier and harmful to me. So I approached my husband and he took me up to the Psychiatric Emergency Team up at the local psychiatric hospital (Royal Edinburgh), they assessed the situation, said there were no beds available in the whole of the hospital, so we decided to go home and my Sulpiride was increased again. Two days later we were back at the hospital, this time a little bit more desperate than before, they were unsure whether to admit me, but as they had some beds they allowed me to be admitted. They only wanted me in for a few days but it never turned out that way, as I needed a bit more time to change meds than was initially thought. Mind you, I was just in the door and they took me off my Prozac, increased the Sulpiride, and, prescribed when needed, Droperidol, and at night Zopiclone to help me sleep. Mirtazapine was started after one week off the Prozac. Staff were still a little too occupied this time, but I saw the doctors a record number of times!!!, ward was pretty busy, meals were disgusting as I'm home now, feeling calmer, but still quite low, but it's manageable as long as I don't try and do too many chores/activities. Seeing my CPN once a week just now and have out-patient appointments to adjust medication. I often think "when will it ever end"......

May 2001

After I came home from hospital I tried to tolerate the Mirtazapine, but the side-effects were really bad, I had only been on it by itself last time and I think it conflicted with the Sulpiride this time, I didn't feel much better although I was a lot calmer. I saw an Senior House Officer on an out-patient basis who didn't really want me to come off it, I eventually persauded him and then he wanted me back on Prozac, but again I told him that I'd been on that long enough and wanted to try something I hadn't taken before, he didn't listen so I went along to my GP and told her I would like to try either Paroxetine or Reboxtine, she had no experience with Reboxetine so she prescribed the former, last! I started Paroxetine 20mg in January and continued with Sulpiride which my GP increased after the SHO had decreased it. I gave up seeing the SHO because I really felt he was of no help whatsoever, I, after all knew how I felt, I know what helps me and what doesn't. The Paroxetine is not much different to Prozac, more sedating, but my mood is staying level albeit low. I'm seeing my CPN every 3 weeks and I now have a support worker from Penumbra (a mental health charity) who I see twice a week. I see my GP for my medication now and she is also very good. I may never beat this illness, but I will try my hardest not to let it get me down, and good support is the key issue in trying to stay sane!

August 2001

Over the last few months I have different symptoms, which I have not experienced to such a strong degree before.....firstly I am the heaviest I have ever been and crave carbohydrates. I'm suffering really bad hypersomnia, (excessive daytime sleepiness) and sleep long hours at night too. My whole body feels heavy and weighed down. I often feel very low in the mornings and getting up is a struggle. My psychotic symptoms have very much subsided, they are like background noises and thoughts to me, but sometimes they flare up and I battle hard with them, but the Sulpiride is very helpful to me in keeping those symptoms at bay. I asked my CPN for a referral to the new psychiatrist in my area and see if there is any more that can be done. My life around me is stable, my husband and I are celebrating 11yrs together in Nov, and we have re-decorated our home and have our pets which I find very therapeutic. My support is wonderful and invaluable to me and although my CPN has said she won't see me for too much longer as I have my new support worker and we are getting on very well. The drop-in is great too and I am continuing to build good friendships offline as well as on.

April 2002

I saw the psychiatrist but he couldn't offer me much input as to my added symptoms, he asked me what I'd like to do and we decided to try Reboxetine, but the side-effects made things worse and I just went back to Prozac (3rd time), which incidentally is much better than the Paroxetine, so I think that was part of the problem. I have been very stable since being back on it and I have come to accept any residual symptoms I am getting just now. I realise I was trying to push myself for a better level of wellbeing, which is just not possible given that I have now had mental health problems for 15+ years. I will always have my good spells and bad spells, but I will get through them, I fight to maintain my health. This website, forum and chat is my life and is growing all the time, I have that and ALL the friends I have made to thank for keeping me going :-) My CPN support has finished and I have now been seeing my support worker for a year and will continue to do so. My relationship with my husband couldn't be better!......long may it last.

October 2002

Ok......been a bit longer than usual, I have just been just so busy with the site, especially the forum! it's been steadily getting busier and I think it's actually done me good, less time for negative thinking!........I am feeling so much better, I remember the good period between 93' and 97', it took up to 2 years to gain a level of wellbeing that I was willing to accept and this is where I am at now. This time I think the doctors are quite happy for me to stay with what medication I am on and not mess around with it, which disrupted everything the last couple of times and I am quite happy to stay with it also. I still have some wobbly days.......but I know that I'll pick up again and it's not too drastic, I guess just normal mood fluctuations. Stress is a big factor in staying well.........coupled with routine, I have regular 10hrs of sleep a night, a couple of hours in the morning to get myself awake and ready for the day ahead and most afternoons (except weekends) I am doing something, either out with my support worker or at the drop-in. Most evenings and weekends are spent online catching up with friends, working on the site and relaxing. Long may it last.......I take each day as it comes although sometimes I do worry about further setbacks, it's only natural having had so many. Till my next report........................

February 2003

Well.........busy busy time, forum is exploding at the seems!!! and emails and contributions coming in thick and fast for the site. Life is going very well, I have also........wait for it........started an Open University course this month in Technology & Computing and so far so good, it's early days yet, but I love the style of learning online and internet tuition. I'll keep you updated on my progress, the first year runs till October, but I have assignments to do till then. My struggle with weight continues.....and I have been informed that since one of my drugs causes the metabolism to slow down a lot I have to reduce my calorie intake much more than someone of my height and size would normally have to do and do more have added another day to my gym routine, I am now doing 1hr twice a week of high impact workouts, I've yet to see any results but it is increasing my energy levels a great deal and mentally it is very stimulating. I'm also walking a fair bit........usually about 5 days a week at the moment. I still see my support worker, but just once a week now and I attend the drop-in regularly. Things are going well......and it's nice to have such a good spell, I've even reduced my sleeping time to about 9hrs a night now, although I do love my Sunday lie-in!!. Well, that's the end of this report.......better get back to my studies :)

August 2003

I can't believe I am here typing my update already!!! where has the time gone!!!, forum, emails, they're all the same as last time. Life is STILL going well, and that'll be 3 years this October that I was last in hospital. I would say the last year or so have been the best for me, I have found stability at last. The Open University course I am doing has nearly finished, I have done 3 assignments (83%, 79% and 81% scores) and have one more at the end of this month, then my End of Course Assessment is due on the 2nd October and that'll be it for this year. I have signed up for next year, starting again in February, so I'll see how I get on with that one. Since my struggle with weight, I decided to increase my attendance at the gym to 3 times a week and since February I have lost over 21lbs. I have a little bit to go yet, but it's been the best thing for me, because it's also increased my energy levels. I still have my support worker once a week, but this will soon be coming to an end as I feel I don't need it anymore. I am also thinking for next year about taking on a part-time job. And.........finally.......we are celebrating 13yrs of being a couple in Nov and we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary in April., till next time................

February 2004

Today is the first day of February and I realised I had not updated this part for a while!, there has been so much to do recently and today the first copies of out MHUK Poetry Booklet went out!! everyone is very excited and hopefully this will be the first of many and money will help towards MHUK long into the future!.............and so to me..........well......everything has been very very stable, after my last report I finished my first year OU course with an average of 80% and passed my End of Course Assessment with 77%, so a well deserved 'pass' and a break over the christmas period. My next part of the course starts next Saturday (7th Feb) and I am really looking forward to this one also. My attendance at the gym has continued, 3 times a week, although I had some time off over christmas and my weight loss has slowed down a little, overall now I have lost 38lbs and have about 18lbs to go, the difference in fitness and energy levels has been great and even when I do reach my target, I will continue a maintenance program, as to put all the weight back on would be criminal! I feel like a different person and my mental health problems have been greatly improved by the exercising also. I have finished with my support worker now, that was back in September and I have been doing fine and not needed any further support, I see my GP occasionally for a chat if needed, I get my medication (which has stayed the same for the last 2yrs) on repeat prescription. I am still thinking about getting a part-time job towards the end of the year and have a contact for an employment advisor based within a mental health charity, I'm not sure yet what I want to do, something simple and non stressful would be fine, as I would be doing it purely to ease myself into working again, I can then at a later date think about something I am more qualified for if everything goes ok. This April is Glen and I's 9th Wedding Anniversary and we have spent many evenings recently reminiscing and looking at how far we have come when everyone in the beginning said we wouldn't last! just goes to show you! He celebrated his 40th birthday in December and is fine, fit and healthy. And finally for this installment, MHUK is thriving and I have continued to build friendships with so many people, MHUK is very important to me and will be for a long time to come.

October 2004

I wonder if time ever stands still!!! this is another report of me being as busy as a Bee :-) My update for this month is firstly I have got through year 2 of OU, I had just started it in my last report and of course it has been pretty time consuming, but also the best course so far. I passed all four assignments with an average of 92% and I have just submitted my End Of Course Assessment of which I will get the result in December, so I will let you know, a pass will mean a certificate in IT & Computing and 60 points towards my general degree. I have signed up for a different course next year (Certificate in Health & Social Care) because I would like to expand on my interest in the mental health/support field and because I want to do a wide variety for my degree. I did indeed start some work as planned, I am currently working as a support assistant, helping people with severe and enduring mental health problems. I am doing one shift a week at the moment, because with studying and also starting advocacy training I have little time and I need to stay within the constraints of permitted work while on benefits. The advocacy training has 'just' started and runs until the beginning of December. Advocacy is really what I would like to get into and the opportunity for jobs in this fields will be wide and varied with the new Mental Health Act coming out in the Spring. And, to me............fine, my weight stabalised and although I still need to lose about 11lbs more I am quite happy with what I've achieved. I still go to the gym when time allows and I walk everywhere where possible for extra exercise. I am still on the same medication and I have my yearly appointment with my psychiatrist in November. I don't envisage any changes which would be detrimental to my wellbeing. MHUK going well also. Till next time xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

May 2005

Is it that time already! As you will probably have noticed, the whole site is in the process of being redesigned, to reflect the purpose of the site and its objectives which I would probably say have gone from personal to more person-centered, semi professional focus. The site does now reflect that it is not only a site about me, but much more about mental health in general, from a UK perspective. I do hope you like the new design and feel it is more up to date and modern. :-) And so to my update - well, regarding my Open University, I am a third of the way through my 3rd year. I passed my IT & Computing and I am awaiting my certificate, and I also now have 60 points. The Health & Social Care course I am doing this year has so far gone fine. Going back to essay writing has been difficult, but with 3 assignment results in the middle 70%, I feel I am not doing too bad! The course reflects on my work, which I have continued at the same place as a support assistant, although I am looking for something more mental health related, especially advocacy. I finished my training and have done some voluntary work in this field. The new mental health act here in Scotland has been delayed till October, so jobs should be coming up over the next year or so. On a personal note, I never did lose any more weight, although I am still trying, and my mental health has been fine with the continuation of the same medication and yearly appts with my psychiatrist who is quite happy with how things are going. Lastly, I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary in April with a lovely stay + meal in a little hotel. The year ahead is going to be as busy as ever, so if you'll forgive me, I'll get going and come back sooner rather than later :-))

November 2005

On a personal note everything has been going really really well. Although I continue with medication and self management, I feel everything is going in the right direction and don't feel that this should jeopordise my future and what I want to achieve. As for everything else, life is as busy as ever. I finished my Health & Social Care this year with an exam that I took last month, although I don't get the results until middle of December. I have signed up for next year, doing a Level 2, 30 credit one - Mental Health & Distress. I can see this is going to take a while, but I am in no hurry :). I changed jobs, and I'm now working as a Support Worker with a charity specific to Mental Health and independent living. I'm really enjoying it and hope to gain a contract with them very soon which would enable me to increase my hours. The site is going very well still and much interest has been in the new wristbands which I got made and the bracelets which I make myself to raise awareness for mental health issues. Updating is still continuing and should be finished soon.

September 2006

Why is it what you set out to do, never actually goes to plan! I have so many things on the go at the moment that life is a constant juggle - BUT.....this is by no means a negative update. Far from it, although it would be nice to have an extra few hours a day to finish off little tasks that need done. Ok, so starting from last update - I had my yearly review with my psychiatrist just after I had written it. All was fine and it was decided come the Spring/Summer to come off my antipsychotic gradually and see how I got on and also for my hormones to get back to normal. In June this was achieved by reductions using the liquid version of the drug and so far so good :) In December I received my results for my Health & Social Care course and passed fine and received my certificate in the Spring and 60 more credits. The next course I mentioned I have nearly finished and my exam is next month. That'll be 4 years and 180 credits - half way! I am just deciding which course to do next. I am still doing sessional work as a Support Worker, but gaining a part-time contract in this area or similar is proving very difficult and frustrating. Many of the organisations have had funding cuts and although mental health is still 'supposed' to be a national and local concern the reality is very different. I am now resorting to making contact myself to various places in the hope they can inform me of any current/future positions and getting the recruitment paper every week. "Permitted Work" is all very well, but not only is it financially unrewarding, it is very limiting and I am finding myself increasingly frustrated at not being able to do more. The site is running fine, although the updating has I'm afraid been slow due time constraints. The forum and chat room are a little less active, mainly due to the expansion of 'Instant Messaging" and "Blogging/My Space" type sites. Many people I know are setting up little communities and diaries online because they are much easier now to manage, update and share. The forum though will be moving to a new format before the end of they year which should encourage new members as they will be incorporating blogs/photos and messaging. Home life is fine, hubby, Bobby (budgie) and myself are keeping fit, healthy and active.

May 2007

Another very busy period of time for me. Firstly following on from last time, I passed my exam in October, BUT, at this moment in time it turns out that the Scottish Social Services Council, who regulate training and education in Scotland do not recognise any of the Open Uni courses (either in part or full). Which really means for me that I will be going down the SVQ route and happily, after I obtained my contract with the organisation I have been doing "Permitted Work" with, this should start soon. So, Open Uni is on hold just now and I will look into continuing at a later date for personal enhancement. Being finally off "Permitted Work" is a great feeling, but unfortunately due to incompetence from DWP/Jobcentre Plus in sorting out ceasement of my benefits, this did not go smoothly!! At this moment in time, the complaint is with my local MP. At least I am no longer involved with them though.

Personally, lots of things going on. I started running outside at the end of last year, I'd been using the gym for quite a while at that point and needed something more stimulating. So I entered some runs for this year and the first one was in January, a 5K and I've just done a 10K. I am also doing 2 Race For Life events. The results of all this running is that I am now finally a 'normal' weight!!! I had plateaud for such a long time, so it was encouraging to see improvements again. This has also helped maintain my mental health, although some physical issues have arisen, possibly due to anxiety. I have started to grind/clench my teeth in the night, and having been fitted for a nightguard 2 months ago, proceeded to chomp my way through it!! So, I'm getting another one, but doing this during the night is giving me daytime headaches and a very sore jaw! Coupled with this, I am being treated for a skin condition, generally known as Purigo, so I'm due to start Phototherapy twice a week at the Dermatology Dept and I have some creams etc to use at home. But, I will prevail!!! I'd rather have those ailments than poor mental health. And I am treating myself to the occasional therapeutic massage and alternative therapy for relaxation. Everything else is going smoothly :)

March 2008

These updates are getting further and further apart! Sorry about that! It's true what they say when you get older - time passes by far too quickly!!!

Work is going well, gaining lots of new skills, using existing ones and also thinking about 'where next'. I had been considering for a while about doing a Diploma in Personal Training, this I'm still keen to pursue as I would like to combine mental wellbeing with fitness and nutrition. I completed all 4 runs last year, after May I did another 5 and 10k. Just before the 10k in October I had been experiencing some numbness/pain in my left arm/hand, but hoped this would go away and it didn't at the time affect my running.

Not wanting to be too negative - at this current time my running and my job/career is being hampered and the response/action from the medical profession has been somewhat negligent and tiresome. This is not in a way that you might think - I am fully aware that I have nothing seriously wrong, but whether anyone does or not, we should all be treated by how our symptoms affect our wellbeing, both mentally and physically. Quite honestly, no wonder this country has the problems it does. The medical profession rely too much on tests, scans, modern technology, research etc instead of treating us as 'whole' people. I would much rather them say to me that they "don't know what it is but we'll continue to keep an eye on things for you with regular appts/follow up" than say "it'll go away and we don't need to see you anymore!!! I am a mentally and physically fit person, there is no reason that I should be suffering these symptoms and palm me off with painkillers and having to pay for alternative therapy!

So, I'm just bordering on applying for the PT course, but need to make sure I can get through it! I also had to drop out of the Edinburgh Half-Marathon as I've not been able to train very much. I have entered the Edinburgh 10k in May and my husband and I are doing the Great Scottish Walk in June. I'm ever hopeful!

April 2008

Update from a few weeks ago - after spending a substantial sum of money and a lot of perseverance I ended up at a really good Chiropractor who took x-rays and has been able to assess those and provide treatment which she promises me will help me enormously. While I didn't entirely waste time seeing a Neurologist and getting MRI's etc, no one steered me in the right direction or seem that bothered. I have now started intense treatment and can feel the improvement already. While there is some way to go, I can't believe the time wasted at the GP's and being bounced from pillar to post. I think the medical profession have a lot to learn with regards to understanding and the need to resolve issues that affect peoples lives. What if I had not known anything about Chiropractors (or anything else that may have been suitable), what if I wasn't working and didn't have the money to pay for my treatment? What if it was a case of being palmed off with "it's your mental health" nonsense" or being stuck with "it'll go away". Point said.

October 2008

Not going to be too negative because mentally I am absolutely fine, although I continue to stay on antidepressants, really because of having had such long bouts of depression in the past. With working now 4 days, it's an important support to still have, even if it is chemical. My work is going really well, got an excellent appraisal, doing my vocational training and in this current economic climate glad to be working. The 'other' side is not so good, the chiropractic benefit didn't last very long and although I finished the course of treatment there has been no progress in improvement. I changed GP practice and they have been really supportive. I was prescribed neuropathic pain relief, this has greatly improved my sleep (enabling me to stick at work) and lessened the 'shooting pains' so they are not as intense. I tried Acupuncture and now have a referral to the pain clinic at the Western. I haven't been able to get back to running, although I did do the charity walk in June (spent the next day in bed!) I've now got a 50% reduction in the use of my left shoulder/arm/hand and the vision in my left eye is no longer clear. The term Fibromyalgia has been mentioned, but I guess it doesn't really matter what it's called as long as I can get some kind of stable ground. Will have to wait and see, but in the meantime, I'm focusing on work and chilling/resting at home when off. :)

June 2011

I cannot for the life of me work out where the time has gone! As I've got 'some' spare time I thought I'd better update this and couldn't believe it when I saw 2008! I feel that's a good thing though as I know my focus is on many other things that to me are really important. The main change since 2008 is that as a result of my physical problems I thought I'd spend some time looking for an office-based job. I'd finished my SVQ 3 in Health & Social Care in the summer of 2009, had applied for a few jobs, had the odd interview and my perseverance paid off when in Oct 2009 I managed to secure a job as Policy & Support Officer for a local mental health charity. I was absolutely delighted, especially as I could continue working in mental health and it also meant I could go on to learn new skills and gain more experience. Although the charitable sector is struggling, I am fortunate to be still there and enjoy my job immensely. My physical difficulties continue, but being engaged with several relevant services has meant that I remain positive, can be supported at work and also supported when things are particularly difficult. I would never have appreciated how absolutely exhausting chronic pain etc. can be and it is so important to be able to talk about it get the right support. I am currently trying Pilates as a way of managing my pain. The site is going well, and had a complete re-design to keep it looking modern and engaging. MHUK plays a big part in awareness raising on Facebook and Twitter and I am always looking to do new things. As result, because of work commitments am looking for people to help out in any way they can.

I hope visitors can identify with my experiences, mental ill health is for some people a life sentence and this is why I share with others, we are creative, intelligent human beings and have a lot to give other people. I would like others to share with me, poetry and personal stories. Together we can give others hope.....

Thanks for reading............

Catherine, aka Cazie