Matthew Johnstone has written three books that I have found useful, the first is I HAD A BLACK DOG which with illustrations takes you through the feelings and expereinces you might have with depression. I found this useful particulalrly in terms of knowing that there are other people out there expereincing the same feelings. His second book LIVING with a BLACK DOG is a great book for family members to help understand what is going on and specfically what is helpful and what is not helpful to a sufferer of depression. His third book QUIET THE MIND starts you on the subject of meditation which is an area I have found very usueful and continues to help me greatly. Below are links to each book and if you buy any of the books using this link will earn me a few pennies.
I hope you find Matthews books as useful as I do.
I last posted about my experience of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the replacement for DLA in June 2014, so I am well overdue to update you on my experience. My last post got me to the stage of the process of having completed the anxiety inducing medical assessment on the 22nd May 2014
So I received a letter from the DWP dated the 10th June, which helpfully told me that they now had all the information they needed and would be in touch again soon.
On the 7th July 2014, 6 months after I returned the application paperwork I had a decision from the DWP on my PIP application. Thankfully they agreed to Personal Independence Payment to help support me financially.
Having finally got the process completed, I have extremely mixed emotions:
8th November 2014
I thought I would share my experience so far of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
I have been receiving Disabled Living Allowance (DLA) for the past two years and renewal was due in May 2014. So in January I received a letter from the DWP asking if I wanted to claim and switch to PIP the replacement for DLA as my current DLA was due to expire.
So I telephoned the DWP and confirmed I wished to apply for PIP and they subsequently sent me a claim form for completion. The lady on the phone indicated that I would be asked to do a medical assessment within about 4 to 5 weeks after they received the submitted claim form.
I would acknowledge that the claim form was much more geared towards Mental Health illness, but was as I had been warned a comprehensive 40 odd page form. Completing it didn’t help my illness as I want to focus on the positives and don't find much benefit in dwelling on what I can not do, which is what the form is looking for. Anyway I completed the form and then went through it with a support worker from my local Mind in Rushden. The form was then returned to the DWP for the 6th February 2014 deadline.
The 5 weeks passed without hearing anything, so I plucked up the courage to phone DWP and check progress, also mindful of the fact that my existing claim for DLA expired in mid May. The helpful man from DWP advised me that it could take anything up to 15 to 20 WEEKS before I would hear about an assessment and that I should phone again close to the end date of my DLA claim and it would probably be extended.
So we got to May, 3 months after I submitted the claim and I called DWP again, they confirmed that my DLA claim had been extended to November, to allow time for the PIP claim to be processed.
Now, let’s pause for a moment and I will try and explain how this has affected me. Firstly completing the form and identifying and recording what I can NOT do, such as go out on my own, remember to take medication, wash and change clothes and cope with people generally, had a negative impact on my thinking and well being. Secondly I feel guilt and doubt about claiming for PIP because of the demonising of benefit claimants by the Government and media. Thirdly and perhaps most significantly the waiting for contact from DWP is constantly on my mind and fueling my anxiety. No matter how much I tell myself that all is fine and things will happen whether I worry about it or not, I can not get it of my mind.
Then mid May I got a telephone call from Capita the agency carry out the medical assessments on behalf of DWP and they arranged an appointment for the next day, as they had a cancellation. The appointment was for 9.30 and would happen at my home. I thought that it was good that it was such short notice and early in the day so I could try and minimise my anxiety over the appointment. Following a night of little sleep, I was up early in anticipation of the appointment and slowly my anxiety built. Unfortunately an hour and half after the appointment no one had arrived and my anxiety was out of control. My wife phoned to see what was happening and after they checked Capita said the person was of sick and would not be coming. Then I suffered a panic/anxiety attack and broke down, two days in bed were needed before I could face things again.
A second appointment was made for the end of the following week, so I had to go through the anxiety building and constant overwhelming thoughts and worry, (“needlessly” I would tell myself to no avail), until the next appointment.
The man was an hour late, but did keep us advised. The assessment itself was fine, just an hour of questions about my typical day and what help I needed and why I couldn’t do things.
So now it is done - I have mixed emotions: I am relived it is over, cross with myself and even shocked at the reaction I had to the events and now trying to focus again on the positives and move forward.
I do think the process has stalled my recovery for 6 months, the constant worry and anxiety of the process, coupled with the need to focus on the negatives held me back and I noticed that I was trying less to do things, to push myself, avoiding everything, as though I needed to emphasise my illness.
I have noticed I am not even thinking about the awaited decision that much, which is good because it is all out of my control for now.
What an unhelpful and protracted experience for mental health sufferers!
I have just got myself a £14.99 unlimited calls/text/data mobile phone sim from @TPOuk and 10% goes to @RushdenMind we are all winners!
Find out more at www.thepeoplesoperator.com
Well, things are different, better, yes better and good, still traveling on the path to recovery, but better.
I had a break with dad in France in October (2013) and again he was telling me about this hypno-therapist that had worked 'magic' with people suffering anxiety and depression. Dad has been encouraging me to go see him, the therapist for some time, by that I mean for at least a year. So at the end of our break, I agreed I would make contact with the therapist and go see him.
A week after my return home, dad called and in passing asked if I had contacted the therapist. I replied am feeling better at the moment, so ‘no’, his reply was well if you are feeling better, then it is a good time to contact him - good point pops.
So after a brief telephone conversation I went to see my hypno-therapist. I had a two hour session, where we talked about my problems, focusing on my anxiety and IBS, which I knew were (note past tense) directly linked.
I am now going to attempt to describe my understanding of hypnotherapy, this being slanted by ignorance, scepticism and the unknown. The brain is in two halves, left and right. The left controls most day to day activities and the right works in the background keeping a check on things. His two examples which helped me were:
A bird pecks at the ground and finds food and seeds to eat, whilst he is concentrating on finding and eating the seed, he is also monitoring his surroundings to ensure he is not in danger; the left side of his brain is working on the food finding, whilst the right side is monitoring his surroundings in the background.
Second example, is whilst I am at a party talking intently to one person, I am still able to 'hear' if someone else in one of the many conversations going on in the room says something like: 'oh Adrian would be able to help you with that' I.e. left side having conversation and right hand side monitoring what is going on in background.
Now, my high anxiety means that the right hand side brain doing the monitoring role has gone into overdrive and is constantly sending alarm or warning signals because of previous experiences.
So what does solution hypnotherapy do, my interpretation as a client, don’t forget. The therapist talks to the right hand side of the brain changing the learnt or programmed thinking that keeps me in a high anxiety state. Because I don’t need to 'hear' this directly (remember background monitoring and thinking), I relax in a hypnosis state or as I decided to accept/call it a meditative state, whilst the therapist talks to your right hand side brain.
So sessions comprised a brief discussion of the problems and then what changes I had experienced or noticed. Then a gentle relax into a meditative state, whilst the therapist talked to my right hand side brain, and I listened (directly) or not. That was it! - from a patients, oops sorry- client perspective it was easy and not a great deal of effort needed on my part - to say the least.
So I had four double sessions, between each session I noticed I was less anxious and the constant worry was reducing, first week for a day after session and a day before next session. Following week few days each end of week. Now was very difficult times to, I had two periods of dark depressed mood during the therapy.
But overall, I have now lifted the overwhelming, constant high anxious state that I was in for the past few years. I am taking small steps; I go out on my own for small activities, like taking the dog for a walk, buying a paper, and getting the bread rolls from Lidl. Also, my bowels are significantly improved; I am not going to dwell on this in this post, but massively better.
You may have noticed my reference to scepticism earlier, I was massively unsure about this therapy, partly because dad presented it as a 'magic wand' solution and because of the reference to hypnotism. But my anxious state is lifted, no that coincides with new medication that I have been on for 3 months and the hypnotherapy sessions, whether it was all down to hypnotherapy or helped by medication, I don’t know and I suppose it doesn’t matter.
So I have lifted the anxiety, what is now clear is that I am still of the path or journey to recovery, because I am now struggling with new, other, hidden, revealed issues which i will talk about in a different Blog.
If you are thinking about hypnotherapy, are drawn to mediation, mindfulness then I think you should give it a go as PART of your recover journey.
4th January 2014
I have had a renewed effort to tackle my anxiety. I have been to a few group depression and anxiety meetings at Rushden Mind. I enrolled on a self esteem course too at Mind; sadly there were not enough attendees, so the course is postponed to November. I am also fast approaching the top of the list for a therapist.
In the meantime I am reading a Self Help book: The Complete CBT Guide for Anxiety and read How Not to Worry by Caroline Carr. The key message I am taking from the books is that I am now in numerous habits of avoidance to minimalise my anxiety. But as this is preventing me from doing things I wish to do. I have started tackling the issues and reversing my habits.
One of the key anxiety problems I have is that I worry about my bowels, I have IBS and have changed my diet and started using Regucol, which is helping. Obviously getting anxious triggers bowel movements, so the IBS and Anxiety are aggravating each other more. So as I want to be able to go for walks, exercise helps IBS and Anxiety and losing weight will help my self esteem, I have bitten the bullet and started walking.
I have started walking by: taking small steps (excuse the pun); I went for a walk around the block with Eddie, our Parsons Terrier. Then I walked into our town, a little further and more people, then I went into the town and bought a paper, some days I wore my incontinent pants for insurance, the rest I took a jumper so if I had an accident I could tie it round my waist. I had my mobile and my wife was on standby to collect me if anything went wrong. I wanted to walk in the morning as that is when my IBS is at its peak.
So, I am a few weeks in now, and today I walked my old favourite walk with Eddie, down to Irthlingborough lakes and Meadows and the River Nene. I then walked my old circuit around the lakes with minimal thoughts about my bowels. On the way home I even took a detour to walk down some back streets I hadn't been down before. Got home safely, relaxed and pleased with my self. So much so that I have used a Google map to mark out my route around Irthlingborough lakes, and Irthlingborough Greenway
So ready for my next walk tomorrow, how about you Eddie?
Well, I put it off last week, but today I made another step forward.
Following my assessment at Mind a few weeks ago, we agreed that I would try counseling and attend the Anxiety & Depression Group.
I attended my first Mind 'Anxiety and Depression Group'. This was the first of any group session for me and I was, not surprisingly, anxious, but whilst it had been on my mind leading up to today, it was not all consuming worrying thankfully. I managed to do a few things this morning rather than just obsessing about the session.
My wife dropped me off and I went in on my own to Mind's office in Rushden and to the group session. It was good, there was around 7 of us and a facilitator. We took it in turns to talk about our week and I used the opportunity to explain a little about my background.
Overall it was a good session, I particularly liked meeting other sufferers and hearing their experiences and each of us relating to others experiences and feeling. The group felt safe and relaxed. I find the whole Mind office environment feels very safe - which is very important to me.
So I have come away pleased, slightly worried about how I put things about the kids, but they will get to know me better over time and I them.
So that is a date in my diary for each Monday and a big thanks to @rushdenmind
22nd July 2013
I have just added a google search facility for my anxiety website, a really easy way to find blogs about particular subjects.
click here to search My Anxiety website
Wow, it has been a month and quite a bit has happened.
A month ago, I blogged that I recognised I was stuck in a cycle with anxiety feeding IBS feeding anxiety, which was at the least hindering my recovery. So I have had a string of appointments over the past month, which included, GP, Psychiatrist, Gastroenterologist, and an Endoscopy.
So, to start, an anxious visit to the GP: who as usual seemed to lack empathy. I explained my bowel symptoms and link to anxiety. He concluded that I displayed the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and suggested I discuss it more at my next Gastroenterologist appointment.
Thankfully my appointment with the Gastroenterologist was the following week. He agreed that it sounded like IBS and said having looked at my blood test results that my IBD was under control. He suggested I have an Endoscopy to check my bowel as I had not had one for ten years. In terms of the IBS he suggested a drug called Amitriptyline, but because of my other medication wanted the Psychiatrist to prescribe it.
I then had my appointment with the Psychiatrist, where I discovered that the Gables Mental Health Hospital site has been closed and that I had another new doctor. We explored my medication and I was reluctant to change the Trazodone, as it has been good for me. So the Amitriptyline was not an option if I was to stay on Trazodone. He did though increase my dose of Trazodone to 150mg a day.
My outpatients appointment for the Endoscopy was fine. The consultants letter to my GP said there was no signs of inflammation or history of inflammation and that I no longer needed to take Asacol.
So the outcome of these medical appointments seems to be a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but I do not have IBD. So this means I can now focus on my Anxiety and IBS.
17th July 2013
PDF File Version for Blog Post- Visits to GP, Psychiatrist and Gastroenterologist, for printing or saving
Sorry everyone - bowel talk! So I have now worked out that my bowel control problems are not necessarily a symptom of my Ulcerative Colitis, (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) and have now been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
So how did I get there?
Well I recognised that I had got caught up in a vicious cycle of getting anxious about bowel control, which meant my bowels reacted, which means my anxiety is proved right and round and round it goes, meaning I stay in the safety of my home. Bowel accidents do happen and have happened for many years, thereby confirming to my brain that it is right to be anxious.
So of to the GP I went and explained my thoughts, he said discuss it with my Gastroenterologist, with whom I had an appointment coming up soon.
So at my appointment with the gastroenterologist I explained again. He confirmed I probably had IBS linked to getting stressed and anxious. He suggested Amitriptyline, for stopping signals from my brain to bowel, but said that I would need to discuss it with my Psychiatrist, because he did not know how it would react with my other medication.
Luckily (again) I had an appointment with my Psychiatrist fairly soon. So we discussed it all, for me again. He concluded that Amitriptyline could not be combined with Trazodone. As Trazodone has been my best medication to date, I did not want to change it. So we concluded we would have to leave Amitriptyline medication for stopping signals from my brain to bowel for the time being!
It took me a week to recover from the anxiety of these trips and successfully entrenching my brains control of my anxiety and bowels. But I will not give up!
See my separate posts on my current medication [LINK TO FOLLOW] and trip to Psychiatrist [LINK TO FOLLOW]
22nd June 2013
If you are on certain benefits including ESA income based on the 20th July 2013, you can qualify for a £135 discount on your electricity bill for the winter of 2013/2014. Government website link is here. You have to make an application direct to your supplier. Find out more at your energy suppliers website - EDF Support Plus link here
12th June 2013
Hi, moneys getting tight for us as well as many many other households. I must admit I am a keen fan of Lidl's and my distrust and hate of Tesco's grows every day, but lots not go there today.
Many purpose of this blog is that I wanted to check my own benefits entitlement as we have had a few changes. I used the government one - Benefits Adviser which i found poor as it didn't touch on DLA or CA. But then found via my trusty pal, Martin Lewis entitledto, which i found was great to use and you could enter different scenerios and see what the effect was on most benefits. So if you need a to check your benefit entitlement, I suggest entitledto
By the way, having worked solidly for 30 years and paid a fortune in tax, 'entitled to' is what I and the majority of others are, when it comes to the benefit system.
6th June 2013
Martin Lewis (Money Savings Expert) & Mind have released their 2013 Guide to Mental Health and Debt. Well worth a read if you are struggling. Click Anxiety and Debt for pdf version.
I can also recommended My Money Steps which is part of National Debtline. This is all truly independent and no fees! I have used them for a senior family member and sorted out her credit card and loan problems very easily.
6th June 2013
I have decided to turn My Anxiety website into a blog for anxiety, depression and sufferer's of ulcerative colitis. I have relaunched the site tonight. All the information that was part of the old website has now been incorporated into the blog page.
Most blog posts have a Adobe PDF file version of the post at the end, for easy download or printing,
I hope you find the new site easier to navigate and certainly in a more chronological order
1st June 2013
My Anxiety was asked: 'My friends have a middle aged son with mental health illnesses who can no longer work, what financial help & support is available for him? He is struggling more and we are getting older and are worried about him now and when we are gone'
The first step is for him to acknowledge that he is ill and go to his GP for help.
For mental illnesses the GP may treat the illness in terms of medication and/or therapy at the primary care level, or they may refer the person to secondary care and the mental health team for medication and therapy. He will need a medical certificate if he wants to claim sickness benefits.
Once you have a medical certificate and there is medical evidence/records of an illness he could submit a claim for Employment Support Allowance , which is managed by the Department of Work and Pensions, like Jobsseekers Allowance.
If the initial application satisfies the DWP they will make payments whilst they investigate and you attend a medical. If the person does not fully acknowledge their illness and discuss it openly they will NOT pass the medical. See my recent blog on Atos Medical
Following the medical the DWP will write to advise whether their application has been accepted and how long before a review is required (6 to 24 months)
Link to ESA claim details: https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/overview
If someone is successful with an ESA application they may want to consider a Disabled Living Allowance which comprises of a care element and a support element.
Link to DLA Claim: https://www.gov.uk/dla-disability-living-allowance-benefit
Details of the benefits available for people who are ill can be found at my benefits post, click on each of the tittles to access more information from government websites.
To help matters the government is changing both the ESA and DLA benefits at the moment.
To be blunt if the person is not able to acknowledge their illness and seek and engage in medication and therapy treatment - then the benefits system is likely to fail them completely.
More help can also be found at http://www.mind.org.uk/ and http://www.sane.org.uk/
18th March 2013
Hi, I am going to take a little break from My Anxiety to focus on myself and some issues that are arising.
Best wishes and be mindful !
I am an individual diagnosed with anxiety & depression in 2009 following a mental breakdown; I was also diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2000.
My privacy is important to me, as when I have bad mental health periods I can destroy everything I have created online, then have to rebuild it again from scratch. I am therefore trying to prevent my name being associated to the site, so if I have another bad period I might not destroy this version of My Anxiety.
I have worked in the property field my entire life; reaching senior level at a London based Organisation. I think a combination of work stress, an element of bullying, financial problems, not telling my employer I had Ulcerative Colitis and serious problems within my immediate family all contributed to my mental breakdown in 2009.
We now live in the East Midlands and to be honest I am a lot happier, even with my continuing mental health problems.
In 2009 I had no experience of website build, other than as a client to creative agencies. I have taught myself and learnt my website design and build skills by using resources from the internet and reading.
Managing and developing this website gives me pride & purpose and a safe area to spend my time.
14th January 2013
I have been taking 150mg of Trazodone at night for a week now, the good news is my head / mental health seems to be a lot better, I feel less anxious and depressed.
BUT I am suffering with aching joints, particularly my knees and back, find it difficult to physically get out of bed because I ache and feel so 'heavy', to the point I am close to calling my wife to help me out of bed.
I have found a number of discussions and acknowledgments of the problem of joint ache whilst taking Trazodone, but no one seems to be talking about what they or the doctor did about it. I would be reluctant to stop taking Trazodone because I feel so much better mentally. Anyone else got any experience of how they dealt with the pain?
14th January 2013
The medication I take of Trazodone, Pregabalin and Asacol Mesalazine tablets are working for me so I will continue with them
I am attending Solution Focused Brief Therapy every two weeks and find that very helpful; I always come away feeling more positive, happy and motivated.
I am spending a lot of time developing My Anxiety website, which is giving me focus and purpose. I am now considering establishing it as a charity so watch this space
I have had my bicycle repaired and want to start using it more. Physical activity helps both Ulcerative Colitis and depression and anxiety.
I am getting things done in our home, many things have been left like fitting the skirting board to the lounge and dining area and repairing the shower. I am not doing it myself I hasten to add, but have had builders into quote and one of them starts next week on the skirting board.
2013 has started well, I feel I have a purpose and a plan, which accommodates my mental health as it is, so I don’t have to think if only…. All of this is helped by knowing I have not got to prove that I am ill by attending a DWP ESA Medical until March 2014. I feel that they are leaving me alone for a bit.
11th January 2013
I have been on Trazodone 150mg for a week now.
Firstly Trazodone has stopped the awful side effects I was getting from Duloxetine withdrawal – which is great because the nightmares, dizziness, brain zaps and sleep problems where getting to much. So lesson learnt is always do what the doctor tells you...............
Secondly the Trazodone seems to be alleviating my anxiety and depressive moods. I sleep 8 hours a night and have no recollection of any nightmares in the morning.
Thirdly, whilst my head is better the physical effect on my body is significant, getting up is hard work and my whole body aches and is difficult to get started. During the day my joints ache and are slightly ceased, I suspect I am walking like an older man and have to be careful on the stairs. Hopefully this will pass once my body is used to the Trazodone
Trazodone is an older drug and part of the serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI) group. I assume from the fact it stopped my withdrawal from Duloxetine that it is managing my serotonin levels, but in a slightly different way
So other than the fact my body aches and getting out of bed is so hard, the Trazodone is working. Given the choice between how my head was mentally before and the current physical difficulties, I would opt for taking the Trazodone any day.
Another benefit to me is I have a sense of purpose again, hence all the activity on My Anxiety website and establishing all the social media accounts
11th January 2013
I don’t know whether I am making a big mistake but I am trying to come off Duloxetine (Cymbalta). I have not taken Duloxetine for 5 days now, having slowly reduced my dosage over three weeks.............
I had my appointment with the Psychiatrist on the 19th December and we reviewed my medication.
I was taking:
100mg, three times a day of Pregablin (Lyrica) and 90mg, once a day of Duloxetine (Cymbalta)...........
BT offer a reduced line rental package, called BT basics for those of certain means tested benefits, including Employment Support Allowance (income based). £14.85 a quarter instead of £15 per month !
Link here to BT Basics
1st January 2013
Merry Christmas and seasons greetings to all visitors to My Anxiety. Please be mindful and especially think of those with mental health issues during what can be a difficult time for some.
Please contact someone if you are having difficulties:
Samaritans 08457 90 90 90
Mind 0300 123 3393
Sane 0845 767 8000
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