Tales of anxiety, depression and life and work

At this particular point in time I am writing this as my first ever blog from the comfort of my sofa. I should be at work as a manager of an occupational health service whose life's work is focused on the health and wellbeing of the organisation I work for.

Unfortunately, I have crippling work related stress which has led to an anxiety disorder and depression. For the last 3 months I have kept going with the surprisingly useful benefits (for me at least) of propanolol, along with the zopiclone I have been taking at night for the past year.

I have known of my vulnerability to anxiety and depression for some time and have periods of medicated low mood that rarely kept me from working. The stress I was clearly experiencing in this job crept up on me and for a while I thought I had a post viral condition. It was only when my GP had run out of medications to try that the penny started to drop.

I have tried CBT, NLP, counselling, mindfullness and goodness know how many other methods of finding a way to cope. Final straws were placed on my back last week and it was time to admit I couldn't carry on as I was and am taking some time out, although at the moment if feels like I jumped in a hole that might be difficult to get out of.

I thought it might help me (and maybe others) to blog my progress in the hole that there is life after this, and some lessons to learn.

My first week has been something of a mixed bag of anxiety causing thought and action paralysis. When I get moving it has only been to try and distract myself.

My boss has referred me to another occupational health doctor mainly because I said she should! I suspect a bit of concern about when or if I will return is bothering them, especially as when I am not there, no one picks up the ball. I am feeling guilty about being off and the affect this may be having on my team but I have put the job before my health for way too long. Trouble is, I can't see what the future holds just yet.

I'll update this in a few days I think. Greetings to anyone who reads it, may your cerebral cortex know peace in your lifetime.

6 Replies

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  • Hi there and welcome to the site.

    I don't post that much but I just wanted to respond to your post. It sounds as if you've been struggling for a long time and just trying your best to live your life well. Sometimes it's necessary to take time out to re-charge.

    I don't work outside the home (have a very small biz of my own but am nearing retirement age anyway at 59!) but can identify with your long term attempts to find ways of coping. I too tried CBT, but that tends to be a short term therapy and quite specific and maybe you need something which addresses deeper issues and problems.

    As far as mindfulness goes, I too have 'tried' it and am trying to make mindfulness a habit, meditating as often as possible (which should be every day). It's not something you can try for a quick fix as I'm sure you know. It's a lifetime thing and will gradually help form new neural pathways, but only if you keep going even if you don't think it will help.

    I would urge you to have another look at it. Have you read any books about Mindfulness? At the risk of teaching my grandmother to suck the proverbials, I recommend anything by Mark WIlliams and/or Danny Penman (try Amazon). The Mindfulness book by Danny Penman has a CD at the back which you can upload onto an Ipod or MP3 player. You can then do the guided meditations last thing at night and first thing in the morning. What do you have to lose?

    There are also other excellent books on the subject - The Mindful Way through Depression by Jon kabat-Zinn (which I expect you've read, but read it again. And again. And then DO THE PROGRAMME again.

    I know myself how despair can eat away at us - I suffer from anxiety and depression and it's been resistant to therapy so far. I have just been diagnosed with Borderline PD though I don't engage in risky or impulsive behaviour or attempt suicide - it's my moods and feelings which are out of control. I have thoughts and feelings I don't want to have and wake most days feeling anxious and/or low and resent others feeling happy (which makes me feel guilty and ashamed and increases my self-loathing).

    I believe that we could look at our suffering in a different way with Mindfulness. Looking for a 'cure' is pointless - it's not going to happen, is it? Better to find ways of living well with how we are (far from easy though, I know that only too well!) and accepting ourselves as we are, in the moment. That's my aim and I am convinced that ultimately Mindfulness will help IF I can keep going at it without letting despair prevent me from carrying on with the meditations and the practice. Also, you then know you are doing something for yourself, for your own mental health, which can only be good and which has no side-effects. That, I think, could be empowering.

    What has your GP suggested for the short/medium term? Are you finding medication of any help? I don't take any at the moment because antidepressants don't seem to help me and I don't want to be knocked out by being too drugged up with anti-anxiety medication. I have some for emergencies only. I'm awaiting a decision whether or not to accept me onto a newish programme of therapy called Mentalisation-Based Therapy which helps those with Borderline PD (in theory!) but it's a huge commitment - 2 full days a week at the local psychiatric unit. I will hear in a month's time.

    I wonder if it might help you to focus on very small goals each day (yes, yes, I know I'm telling you what you know already!) - but even if you manage to do small things at home, you will feel a sense of achievement. Push yourself a little, but not too much - and as for your job, you are not well, and you need time to recover. I am sure your colleagues are aware of that, but I can understand why you feel guilty and worry about what is going on at work in your absence. Is there someone who can talk with you about that while you're off?

    Above all be kind to yourself. You have tried your best to cope and you are still trying. Don't beat yourself up for being ill. Look after your physical health as best you can, foodwise, sleepwise, light exercise-wise (even a walk round the block in the morning if you can). You deserve no less.

  • I appreciate your kind and thoughtful reply, your words speak well of your experience and wisdom and I am fascinated by the prospect of your Therapy! You will have to post your experience.

    I hear what you say about the mindfullness and I will endeavour to give it more time now I am off work. Early days and I am yet to allow myself to let go.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  • we are all in the same place, not alone.

    just don't feel guilty!!

    i do feel for you as everyone on this site, we can all link to each others.

    thinking of you

  • Cheers rouri! My failed catholic inner self wants the guilt for a while yet I fear;) but thanks for the reply.

  • Hi Rogitian

    Often unfortunately lots of people tend to put work before their health,including me.I had to stop working I couldn't t carrying on.and it s fine.try to don t think about tomorrow or the future..when I do it always depresses me,lol!!Just think about getting better and how u could help yourself through this rough time of your life.work can wait till u feel u can cope with it again...hugs

  • Appreciate it train80, I am trying to stay in the present! All the best.

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