INvisible Health Spotlight #3


Today we have Kate with her story about mental health and polycystic ovaries.

Hey there campers
So……  Leah asked on twitter if any bloggers wanted to talk about their illness or disability.  As my loyal readers will know I blog regularly about my mental illness and have blogged about my polycystic ovarian syndrome.
So…..  I have had problems with my mood for as long as I can remember to be honest.  I had … an interesting… childhood, I don’t want to go into THAT here.  Plus I was bullied at school, I could go on forever about how easy it was for people to pick on me, but again I won’t discuss that here.  The whys and how’s aren’t important!

I saw counsellors at school on and off till I left then saw them at college, GP surgeries etc for years.  I was finally diagnosed as being depressed and given medication at 19, at the same time I mentioned to my GP that my periods still hadn’t settled down after they had started when I was 15.  they were very heavy lasted a couple of weeks to a month and were very irregular, he put me on the pill then after a quick chat about my mum (who had had problems too)  he agreed to do an ultrasound the following week.

I was petrified, terrified that they’d see something really horrible.

I went to the ultrasound alone as I didn’t want to worry anyone.  It was an awkward nerve wracking experience.  The nurse didn’t say anything but got the GP to come and a have a look as I wasn’t used to being at the doctors (more recently I went through a stage of seeing the doctor weekly, how things change)  I didn’t realise this was unusual.

Anyway he took me into his office and explained I had cysts on my enlarged ovaries!  Scary stuff!  He explained it was a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome.  He said it also affected hair growth (with fair skin and black hair I was finding I had to shave daily it especially affects my upper lip and chin which is at best embarrassing), acne (again I have and still get acne not horrifically but enough to bother me) he then dropped the bombshell that I might not be able to have kids at 19 it wasn’t my top concern but still scary!!  I asked if the cysts could be removed, he said no and that I would need to learn to accept the condition. 

So for the next 7/8 years that’s what I did took the pill, occasionally took anti-depressants (depending on my current boyfriend or the GP I was registered with I hated taking them so it depended on who could persuade me to take them).  I worked hard and played harder, my mood would crash id take the week off and then back to it.  Over the years till quite recently the people around me including family, GP’s, psychiatrists have considered the possibility I might be bipolar.  I tried to self manage on the whole but it was disastrously bad.

3 ½ years ago things started to fall apart big time, a series of relationships had broken down, I hadn’t been able to keep down a job for about a year as my erratic behaviour and mood meant I couldn’t concentrate on anything and relationships were hard as I would cry for no reason, shout and scream at the slightest thing, and I couldn’t understand why I was so difficult to be around.  I alienated my fiends, barely spoke to family I was a wreck but I still worked hard.  I was a nightmare.

Then the temporary job I was barely holding down finished, I was dumped by someone I really cared about and my living situation became unbearable, my benefits barely covered my living expenses and my flatmate was getting frustrated.  I started to hide in my bedroom only coming out to use the bathroom, eat and walk to the jobcentre to sign on.  I barely washed, I ate junk food that didn’t need cooking and lived in my trackie bottoms and hoodies, and I didn’t wash my clothes so I was generally covered in sauce stains.  I went to my GP he put me on an anti-depressant and referred me to a counsellor (when I finally saw her she said that the 6 weeks minimum she was allowed to allocate to a client wasn’t enough for me, so I had to go to a private counsellor which as I had to get the train and pay for it took so much of my benefits that I couldn’t afford to eat some weeks, saw her for 16 months and got nowhere!!!)

After a couple of months, I had yet to see a counsellor, I walked into the jobcentre to sign on and I had slipped a bit of paper in the little packet they give you with your book in, saying i’m depressed I cant cope anymore and i’m scared.  I gave to the advisor; she read it then asked me to follow her and took me into an office.  She asked me if I was okay…as soon as I said f..ine I started crying and didn’t stop for an hour!  Once I stopped she said ‘I don’t want you to apply for another job!’  I started panicking I was so worried that all my benefits would stop.  She helped me apply for ESA.

I haven’t worked since.

I’m also on DLA now too.

My medication takes the edge off but to be honest not much as changed in myself since that day in the jobcentre.

I go to college now and get out a bit more but that’s mainly down to a fantastic support worker who helped me for 2 years and I’ve been seeing a cognitive behavioural therapist since the end of my support.

I use distraction techniques to get me through the day if I let myself think about things I get overwhelmed and can’t achieve the simplest thing like eating or making a cuppa.

My housekeeping skills have never been great but now the task is so daunting it can weeks without being touched, the worst thing is that I cant manage the washing up so sometimes that gets to the point where my flat stinks and I just can’t get my head round doing it!

I have to keep my hair short as it gets soooo knotty when I don’t brush it; it is very painful when I can manage that seemingly simple task.  Showering can be just as daunting. 

I’m now on mood stabilisers instead of anti-depressants as they work better for me (still no firm diagnosis of bipolar), beta blockers for my anxiety plus a cocktail of other meds that help me sleep, and reduce some of the side effects of the mood stabilisers.  I’m now on the depo injection to control my periods. 

Anxiety is my biggest challenge it stops me doing all the things I used to love like clothes shopping, having a drink with friends and travelling around the country.  Though the depression is no picnic either, my lack of self esteem and tearfulness creates challenges that a year of CBT and the medications struggle to control.

On top of the stigma of having mental illness, the lack of personal hygiene, a messy flat, weight gain from medication and anxiety attacks in busy places its hard to talk about and when I do some people looked scared like I’m going to knife them or disgusted and they think I am lazy!

Thanks Kate for writing this! I know it's really hard and scary to reveal yourself in this way, so thank you.

Thanks for reading!
Have a great weekend.

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