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Depression Guide and Personal Experiences (post your experience with Depression)

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    This is not a discussion thread for Depression. It's a place where you can post a write-up about your whole personal experience and struggle with depression.

    Personal experiences:
    • Who you are
    • When it started
    • How long you've had it
    • Official diagnosis
    • Therapy/medication
    • When it got worse/when it got better
    • How has it affected your life?
    • How you are coping now.


    If you want to add information to the guide like experiences with medicine or further resources, post it here. Alternatively, if you just want to discuss or chat about depression, head over to the Depression Society.

    'Guide' does not mean this replaces medical advice or is wholly representative of various aspects of depression. Go to your GP. This is design to inform you of the general procedure involved, misconceptions regarding depression and the effects that some medication has had on some users. Bear in mind, this is subjective and differs from person to person. This guide was created and compiled by several members of the Depression Society.

    Depression Guide and Personal Experiences

    GeneralDepression has a stigma attached to it in society. It is only recently that it's been taken seriously, and recognised as a medical condition. The term is also used widely, in cases where a person does not have depression, he will use the word to describe his feelings. This degrades the meaning. Depression is a very serious illness. It can increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts and self-harm. It destroys relationships and saps you of all willpower. The mere thought of doing something can become exhaustive. It's effects differ from person to person so there's really no point in describing it. The important thing about it is that it goes to the core of a person. It emerges like a vicious monster, a parasite clinging onto your very being. It changes the way you think and your perception of life. Pessimism is inevitable.

    A lot of people are afraid of accepting what they have, afraid of taking the trip to the GP. This is only harming themselves. Suppresion is key in many treatments, but denial can only be harmful. Talking about your problems, going to the GP and getting a professional opinion and advice is the way forward. Do not expect medication as soon as you are diagnosed.

    Self-diagnosis
    Never self-diagnosis yourself with depression. Go to your GP. They are the professionals.

    I'm having suicidal thoughts
    Don't act rashly. The best procedure, and the best thing you can do is talk to someone. A trusted friend, family member or professional. Do not be afraid to talk about your problems, or think you alone carry the burden and weight of them.

    We have a skewed perception of life when we are feeling low.


    Resources and Help
    Samaritans: If you're feeling isolated right now and don't have anyone close you can turn to, consider calling the Samaritans. Their details can be found here: http://www.samaritans.org/

    beat - Eating disorders will be Beaten. It's a charity to help people who have eating disorders. Their details can be found here: http://www.b-eat.co.uk/Home

    NSHN - National Self Harm Network. This is a charity to support individuals who self-harm. Their details can be found here: http://www.nshn.co.uk/

    Mind: http://www.mind.org.uk/

    Rethink: http://www.rethink.org/

    moodgym is a free online CBT program.

    depression distractions thread


    Role of professionals
    GP - likely to be the first person you see if you're having mental health problems. They should either diagnose you or, if your case seems more complicated, refer you on to a psychiatrist for diagnosis. They can prescribe you with medication, and also make referrals to other mental health services such as counsellors or the Crisis Team.

    Psychiatrists - deal with harder to diagnose mental illnesses, or ones which have proven treatment-resistant. They are not to be confused with the psychiatrists you get on American TV shows, where they psychoanalyse you - in my experience the main roles of British psychiatrists are to diagnose and prescribe treatment. Can prescribe some but not necessarily all drugs.

    Crisis Team - are usually called in when it's thought someone is at particular risk, e.g. are suicidal, but for one reason or another aren't being admitted to hospital. They make home calls or can arrange transportation if you need to see someone further away, such as in hospital. The Crisis Team are mostly composed of nurses and social workers, but they also have psychiatrists, psychologists and other experts who can see you if necessary. If you are under the care of the Crisis Team you can call them any time of the day or night, and request that they come and see you. Because they are meant more for emergency situations the Crisis Team will not usually see you for more than a few months, for longer term treatment they may refer you on to another team.

    Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) - a nurse assigned to you who can check on how you're doing and give advice on medical issues as well as practical ones like applying for benefits.

    Early intervention in Psychosis team (EIP) - Team of people who specialize in treating first episode psychosis in young people. Contains all the different elements of mental health care; CPNs, psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, psychotherapists etc who work together to treat all aspects of the young person's problem. Will treat people for up to 3 years, tend to offer quite extensive support with regular appointments with psychiatrists to check up on how meds are going along with appointments with other members of the team to help people, for instance, find a job, apply for classes or organize their time etc. Also assign everyone a key worker who you can talk to about any problems you're having or if you need any help with anything (for example filling in forms).

    Community Mental Health Teams, more info: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealt...nityteams.aspx


    Experiences of another TSR member in Hospital
    I stayed on a psychiatric ward for two months. I went in voluntarily, under the advice of my GP, as I was suicidal and at high risk of following through with it. She sent me to A&E, where (after a wait of several hours) I was seen by a psychiatrist who asked me various questions about how I was feeling and why I was going into hospital, and then I was sent over to the ward where I'd be staying.

    Once I was there I got asked more questions about how I was feeling and about my circumstances (I think my files had been mislaid), and also given a brief physical examination - I think they just took my blood pressure and heart rate. Then since it was the middle of the night they showed me my room and I went to sleep.

    I didn't leave my room much over the course of the next few days, but eventually when I did I found the layout of the ward was like this: there were several corridors with bedrooms and bathrooms off of them, two corridors being single-sex the other one mixed. You got a bedroom each and the bathrooms were between every two people, with a shower and toilet in them. There was also a sink in each of the rooms. Apart from that there was a small kitchen where you could make tea or coffee, a staff kitchen you weren't allowed in, a dining room which also had vending machines, two TV rooms also with a bookshelf, the IPAS room (no idea what that stood for, but it was basically just an activities room where you could do various arts and crafts and there was one computer you could use with internet), and in the middle of everything was an office where there were always a few staff posted. There was also a dispensary where you got your medication, a small room for doing physical examinations, two gardens where you could go and smoke (I assume I would have been allowed in them, but I actually never tried going or asking if I was allowed), and a couple of other rooms which had no particular purpose.

    My general experiences: I think I was quite lucky with the ward I ended up on. It was boring as hell, but there were at least a few things you could do to occupy yourself, like arts and crafts or you could usually get on the computer for half an hour to an hour every day or so. There were also organised activities like an exercise class. The food was standard hospital fare, so not especially enticing, but not completely inedible either. I didn't speak much to the other patients, but I gathered that they were a mix of people who'd been sectioned and voluntary patients like myself. The nurses were generally quite nice, each patient had a named nurse who was the person you were supposed to go to if you were having problems.

    I was listed as 1:15, which meant someone had to check up on me every 15 minutes. If you were on a 1:1 it meant there was someone with you constantly. Violent patients were either on a 1:1 or were put on a separate ward. I saw the doctors once a week, who reviewed my medication and checked how my mood was doing. There were no psychologists or therapists on the ward, but if you were seeing someone outside of the hospital then they could arrange for you to be transported.

    A week before I was released from hospital I was allowed home for the weekend to see how I'd cope. Since it went alright they discharged me permanently. I probably could have got out a lot sooner than the two months I spent in there, but at that time I was so indifferent to my surroundings that I made no attempt to leave.

    Despite certainly not enjoying my time in hospital, I do still think it was a positive experience, since it did what it was intended to - keep me out of harm's way until I was no longer a danger to myself.


    Misconceptions
    Misconception: Medical drugs like anti-depressants make everything better

    Firstly, any good doctor should not start you off with drugs. Secondly, different anti-depressants work with different people. And lastly, they can make your life worse. You can essentially become a zombie, no depressive emotion - yes but not capable of any emotion. However, you can still get a good combination of drugs that work.

    Misconception: People who say you're just thinking negative.

    It's not as simple as that. There are actual chemical imbalances (don't know much) within your brain. You should never disregard someone's depressive problem as thinking negative, instead you should help them focus on the core of their problem - or just listen. Listening can make all the difference. Many depressed people just don't have anyone to talk to so they build up the emotion and their problems. What seems hopeless becomes more hopeless, and you're stuck in a vicious circle.

    Misconception: Depression is just a temporary mood

    People can become depressed for a short while when something negative happens, but depression is an actual condition that can last for weeks, months or even a whole lifetime.

    Misconception: Teenagers who say they have depression are just angst
    No, (what would be diagnosed as clinical) depression does strike (a certain percentage) teenagers as well. They're just not good at showing it as adults.

    Misconception: It's there for life

    No, treatment of it can eradicate it completely

    Misconception: Just a mood, not a serious condition
    It can increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts (and from that suicidal actions), self-harm, lack of willpower and negativity - and the resulting effect that has on activities and relationships.

    Misconception: If you take antidepressants it means that you're crazy, or that it's weak to turn to medications, or that all antidepressants will turn you into a zombie, affect your personality, etc.
    There seems to be a lot of stigma out there around medical drugs for depression. But clinical depression is an illness, and like many other illnesses, drugs can assist. They certainly won't 'make it all better' but they can help to 'take the edge off' to allow the individual to do the other hard work involved in turning thought patterns around.

    Misconception: telling your doctor you're depressed/having suicidal thoughts will get you sectioned.
    Things have to be very serious before you get sectioned, i.e. you're a danger to yourself or others.


    TSR members experiences of common medication
    This is a fairly small sample, and that this list does somewhat reflect the fact that it can take a while to find the right drug for each individual.

    Antidepressants

    Amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)

    • Hellish withdrawal symptoms after 2 months taking it; shivering, headaches, couldn't eat, couldn't sleep. No sufficiently bad effects whilst taking it.


    Lithium
    • made me feel a little zombified and indifferent to everything. Didn't help my mood apart from making me not care about not caring.

    Citalopram (Celexa, Cipramil)

    • Nausea, headaches, slight dizziness wore off after about 10 days. No other effects.
    • Trembling and nausea for the first two days of taking it, but after that there were no other issues.
    • Started at 10mg for a few days, then up to 20mg. 40mg after a couple of weeks. Nausea, dizziness for the first few days. No side-effects for a bit, then after a while it made me nocturnal. A while longer and it started giving me crippling headaches, nausea, generally quite unwell until I backed off the dosage from 40mg and eventually stopped it. Unpleasant withdrawal. Never hugely helped me aside from maybe making me marginally less suicidal.
    • Headaches, nausea, no real effect either.
    • Didn't really get many noticeable side effects other than a weird metallic taste and very vivid dreams. That said it didn't really help at all even after 6 months of use. Withdrawal wasn't very pleasant as citalopram can cause brain zap headaches.
    • Worsened my insomnia, gave me headaches and nausea (which, coupled with simply forgetting to eat, led to extreme weight loss and so I was taken off it). Might also have contributed to my increased suicidal thoughts and worsening self-harming. No positive effect on mood, but since I was only on it for six weeks at a fairly low dosage it wasn't really a fair trial.

    Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

    • One of the less bad ones in terms of side effects, nausea, slight dizziness and headache which all wore off relatively quickly.
    • Started straight at 60mg. Nausea, dizziness, horrible stomach cramps for a couple of days. No side-effects for a while other than maybe feeling a bit more tired. After about a month made me feel almost normal again for a couple of weeks, then pooped out, made me nocturnal. Again got headaches/nausea/fever/generally badness after I'd tried stepping up to 90mg for a while. Also fairly horrible withdrawal, although maybe not as bad as Citalopram.
    • No initial side effects. No real effect for me. Withdrawl was horrific though. Like having a terrible case of the flu, and the dreaded "brain zaps". Totally wiped me for about two weeks. If you are going to come off, do at least work on a way to ease yourself off with your doctor.

    Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Symbyax)

    • Like the worst flu of my life. Aching muscles all over, coldness, headache, dizziness, nausea, seriously seriously horrible experience, I stopped it after 4 days no idea if it would have lasted. Also destroyed any feelings I had, I felt utterly dead inside.
    • Started on this when I was 14 so used the oral solution to start with (tastes horrible!) No major side effects but I found this did make me rather emotionless.
    • Wasn't on this for very long at all. I was prescribed this by the second GP I went to about all of this, she prescribed me it to see me through until my appointment with the psychiatrist that she referred me to. It always seemed to give me heartburn when I took it. More seriously though, it aggravated my moods, causing me to get more manic, more often.*

    Mirtazapine (Remeron, Avanza, Zispin)

    • Very sedating on low doses, not so much on higher doses. Also has a tendency to make people very very hungry and hence put on weight. Unlike quetiapine, I found the weight I gained on mirtazapine was from eating stupid amounts rather than it messing my metabolism up or anything like that. Worked well as an antidepressant for a few weeks for me, then quit working entirely.
    • Makes you very sleepy but this does wear off over time. Also made me very hungry (fun fact - used as an appetite stimulant and anti depressant in cats (my dad is a vet)). Currently on 30mg and no effect yet.
    • Despite also being an anti-depressant, this worked an awful lot better for me. It caused me to miss about a two months of my 3rd year of college due to the sedation. I also got the constant hunger- as a friend put it 'on this drug, I'd eat that door if there wasn't anything else available!' Over time, both those side effects wore off, but in the end, I stopped taking it because of the nasty overly vivid dreams. Drinking whilst taking Mirtazapine = very cheap nights out
    • First couple of days on 15mg I felt kinda sedated, didn't get any real oversleeping because of the Reboxetine at the time. No side-effects at all aside from that really. Maybe slight appetite increase, but I've been relatively bored/depressed in general which tends to make me eat more anyway. Quick acting, although positive effects generally tapered down a lot after the first few days (still better than without).
    • Made me sleep a lot (which, what with my insomnia, I welcomed) and gave me vivid dreams. No positive effect on my mood.

    Reboxetine (Edronax)

    • Massive ear pain in one ear, extreme coldness (was wearing so many layers and still freezing cold), dizziness, severe insomnia. The dizziness and ear pain wore off after a little while on it the coldness and insomnia did not.

    Sertraline (Zoloft)

    • Nausea and insomnia, both of which wore off after about 10 days.
    • Caused significant nausea and killed my appetite causing me to lose a lot of weight, I dropped from 10 stone to 7 and a half stone. Didn't help with depression at all, and probably caused my insomnia to worsen.
    • gave me awful hangover/flu-like symptoms and tachycardia, so I stopped taking it after several days. No effect on mood.

    Trazodone (Desyrel)

    • Very sedating, no other reportable effects.

    Venlafaxine (Effexor)

    • Messed up my sleep a lot - can't remember if it was too much sleep or insomnia though. Didn't have any trouble coming off it despite taking it for several months.
    • flu-like symptoms, including dizziness and weakness, meaning I could barely get out of bed. Also mental confusion, similar to having a really bad hangover or being extremely sleep-deprived. After a week I saw my GP, who gave me a check up, found my pulse was over 170 bpm and so sent me into hospital overnight (I had a pretty severe and atypical reaction though, and my symptoms all disappeared as soon as I stopped taking the pills). No effect on mood.

    Agomelatine(Valdoxan)

    • Very itchy, was probably allergic to it so discontinued after a few days. Probably helped my sleep a little.
    • No side-effects whatsoever, gave me a slight lift in mood.

    Lofepramine

    • Started at 70mg. Very dry mouth for the first few days, not so bad after that. Hot flushes kinda when starting up too. After a few days started giving me fairly bad tachycardia, tried cutting down to 35mg but it still gave me issues. Discontinued, no withdrawal syndrome (was only on it for a couple of weeks total).

    Reboxetine

    • Insomnia, weird kinda prickly heat feeling on my back occasionally for the first few days. Insomnia turned into waking up at 4 or 5am which got pretty annoying. Added Mirtazapine to try to sleep better, eventually discontinued Reboxetine as it was only minorly helping. As a solo med it kept me pretty stable and helped concentration a bit anyway. No discontinuation issues.

    Lexapro/Escitalopram

    • Much better than citalopram, no side effects and actually had a decent effect (unfortunately, it stopped working for me after about 6 weeks so I changed)

    Depakote (or Sodium Valproate)

    • When starting felt like a bit of an old man : heartburn, headaches, aches and pains etc. But does wear off. Has definitely reduced my highs.

    Carbamazapine (tegretol)

    • I started this whilst on Mirtazapine. I've not really noticed any major side effects, other than it's a bloody pain when it comes to taking any other drug (most noticably: BC). You're also not meant to drink on it at all, which sucks.

    Antipsychotics

    Amisulpride (Solian)

    • This drug has literally saved my life. I felt extremely sedated to start with and also had very blurred vision but these both wore off after about 2 weeks. Slight nausea when I eat (not sure if this is caused by it), also lactation, but not sure if that's not residual from the risperidone I took before it. "Drugged up" feeling (though I am on a very high dose) for the first 3 weeks or so, less now.

    Aripiprazole (Abilify)

    • Quite stimulating for an antipsychotic, often had to have zopiclone to help me sleep while on it. Also great in that it was one of the few where weight gain wasn't a problem.
    • An atypical antipsychotic with some unusual properties as it functions as both a dopamine agonist and antagonist. For these reasons some people can find it very stimulating and it can significantly worsen insomnia in those who suffer from it. Caused me a lot of problems with akathisia and blurred vision for these reasons I was pulled off it by my doctors. It was actually very effective in controlling the psychotic symptoms however the aforementioned problems unfortunately made staying on this medication unbearable. Definitely worth trying as not everyone will experience the side effects like I did. Another plus is that it doesn't cause any weight gain!

    Chlorpromazine (Thorazine, Largactil)

    • Very good as a sleeping pill, not much help as an antipsychotic, significant effects on mental abilities which didn't wear off. Good as a prn when you're having a rough time.

    Olanzapine (Zyprexa)

    • 2 words: Weight gain. 4 stone in 2 months. Way too much sleep as well, upwards of 17hours a day, every day.
    • Generally accepted to be the most sedating of the atypical antipsychotics it definitely lived up to its reputation. Most days whilst taking this medication it would cause me to sleep for up to 15 hours at a time. Also caused significant weight gain, drooling, and severe mental dulling. Also caused me to lapse into a severe depressive episode, definitely wont be trying this ever again.
    • initially no side-effects, but after being on it for a long period of time it might have caused me to develop a bit of a tremor. Augmented the positive effects of my antidepressants, and also stopped some weird and highly unwelcome thoughts I was having.


    Clomipramine
    • Gave me low blood pressure for the first month or two, causing dizziness and loss of vision whenever I stood up, and I fainted a couple of times. But this wore off after a while and is no longer a problem. Cured my depression almost completely.

    Quetiapine (Seroquel)

    • 2 words again: weight gain. 2 stone in 3 weeks. Significant mental dulling, couldn't do simple math sums, again very sedating but no where near as bad as the olanzapine. Worth mentioning I did a lot of exercise and watched my diet on this but the weight still piled on.
    • Can be rather sedating during the first few weeks of use, however after a couple of months the sedation becomes less noticeable and more tolerable. Common to experience orthostatic hypotension during the first few days of use however this will generally subside with time. As with most sedating atypical antipsychotics weight gain is very common, I gained 3 stone in two months. This medication caused significant mental dulling and suppression of emotional responses. Negativity aside it is generally pretty good in controlling psychotic experiences such as visual and auditory hallucinations, although breakthrough experiences did occur even at high doses of 750 mg per day.
    • flu-like symptoms, including dizziness and weakness, meaning I could barely get out of bed. Also mental confusion, similar to having a really bad hangover or being extremely sleep-deprived. After a week I saw my GP, who gave me a check up, found my pulse was over 170 bpm and so sent me into hospital overnight (I had a pretty severe and atypical reaction though, and my symptoms all disappeared as soon as I stopped taking the pills). No effect on mood.

    Risperidone (Risperdal

    • Lactation. Yep. Not fun. Again significant mental dulling, not as bad as quetiapine but certainly affected my ability to study. These effects didn't wear off over the several months I took it.

    Trifluoperazine (Stelazine)

    • Blurred vision, slight sedation, quite a good prn drug but not so good as a daily drug in that it only worked for a little while afterwards I found, hence why it was useful at higher doses as prn.

    Sleep drugs

    Zopiclone

    • Works really nicely for me, knocks me out quickly enough, but doesn't keep me asleep for too long.
    • apparently can cause a metallic taste but I've never experienced that, just sleep within 20mins no morning drowsiness or anything else. Good useful drug.
    • Short term it functions well in assisting with inducing sleep. However after 7 days of use the effectiveness declines noticeably & rapidly. Unlike benzodiazepines such as lorazepam it seems to induce a more natural sleep which leaves you feeling rested with no hangover effects. After taking this medication it is common to experience a bitter metallic taste particularly when consuming flavour neutral liquids such as plain water.
    • Usually quite effective at sending me off to sleep. It does give me a slight metallic taste in my mouth, and I think it might once have given me auditory hallucinations, but nothing I couldn't handle.

    Seroquel

    • I took this at a 20mg dosage, and it gave me palpitations. I have no idea how common that is.

    Other

    Valium

    • I don't like this drug one bit. It really failed at the making me sleep thing, but did manage to give me a nightmare whilst on a hospital ward. Personally, I wouldn't take it again.
    • This drug is like a big warm friendly contentness hug.

    Lorazepam

    • Effective fast acting sedation particularly during periods of agitation and aggression. Very good for inducing sleep, there were however some hangover effects the following morning which made me feel sluggish and at times dissociated particularly at higher doses.

    Clonazepam

    • Good medication for controlling anxiety and agitation although unfortunately addictive thus not suitable for long term treatment. Useful for controlling extrapyramidal side effects induced by use of antipsychotics such as haloperidol. It does however like most benzodiazepines seem to cause cognitive impairments, slower memory recall and difficulty taking in new information was what I experienced.

    Promethazine

    • H1 receptor antagonist of the phenothiazine class. Previously used as an antipsychotic these days it's used primarily for it's sedative and antihistamine properties. It's ok for mild or moderate sleep problems however it's definitely not as sedating as lorazepam or zopiclone. Unlike both of those however it is fine for long term use.

    Haloperidol

    • Generally speaking no longer prescribed for long term use due to the risk of tardive dyskinesia. Short term use however I have found this to be a wonder drug during particularly bad bouts of auditory hallucinations, it is a very potent antipsychotic. Unfortunately it can cause a number of extrapyramidal side effects such as akathisia and dystonia, for these reasons I was usually prescribed clonazepam alongside it to help counteract these side effects

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    Ape Gone Insane has requested that I post this on here myself, in the hopes that might encourage some of you guys to do so as well (and to save him some effort, which is fair enough). So, this would be my experience:


    I’m Rhianne, and I’m 20. My experiences differ somewhat from a lot of other people’s in this guide (and on the depression thread) as I’m classed as being on the bipolar spectrum. I suffer much more from depression; it takes some serious stress for me to get manic, whereas this isn’t so much the case with depressive episodes.

    If I had to pinpoint when I started struggling with mood problems, I’d probably go for year 10. I’d been through quite a lot in the year or so previous, as I also have scoliosis which meant I spent all of year nine in a really bulky plastic brace. All was meant to mean 20 hours a day, every day (not even time off for Christmas.. I know, so mean!), in reality it worked out to about 8 hours every day. By the time year 10 came round, it’d been decided it wasn’t worth putting me through it anymore. It was also the first time the idea of surgery was brought up, and at this point it was all my choice!

    Coupled with studying for my GCSE’s, all too frequent arguments with my parents, not being liked back by my first crush, and general friend drama, I ended up fairly stressed out. I kept pretty much everything to myself, ignored the feeling sick every morning at not being able to remain curled up in bed, and lived on very little sleep. I don’t recall my moods ever going worryingly high at this point, however, upon telling one old school friend about all of this his response was ‘well, you’ve always been very up and down’. Another said that it did rather explain an awful lot, so well maybe there was more going on than I ever realised.

    Over year 11 things thankfully settled down a little, so I was able to get through my GCSEs. I do think that my version of ‘settled down’ and other peoples would be fairly different though. First year of college went fairly well, I got my first boyfriend halfway through which was pretty awesome at the time.

    By second year of sixth form however, my moods started to act up more and more again. I remember going quite up over February half term that year and thinking ‘finally I feel better!’ I think that perhaps the plans to get a tattoo if it lasted might just possibly hint that it wasn’t so much ‘better’.

    The very next week, my mood plummeted out of the blue. Matters didn’t improve on the Thursday of that week when I got told that surgery was no longer a choice. I really hate hospitals, so that counted as quite the stressor, especially with A2’s coming up.

    I started to cycle very, very rapidly. I would be down for a week, week and a half, touch normal for two days, and then betalkinglikethis and generally being somewhat ‘up’. Each up would lead to a nasty crash, setting the whole cycle off again, eventually building up to suicidal downs and scary highs.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, my aforementioned first BF didn’t deal with any of this at all well, which just caused more stress. I ended up not doing any of my June A2 exams, and was lucky enough to get an aggregate grade from my exam boards. I also got a lot ‘I wish I could skip my exams!’ but there you go.

    In the end, surgery was delayed because I had an infection. When my surgeon found out about my mental ill-health, he was adamant I also had to recover from that as well prior to surgery. The second time around was somewhat easier, but still far from great. Put it this way, the stress of dealing with me, my moods, and the stress of this surgery has ended two relationships for me now.

    Since 2009 however, my moods have been getting steadily better. For a short time from the end of 2010 till just recently I was given permission to trial being off of medication entirely which went fairly well for the most part. Recently however, I’ve felt that there have been early warning signs, and what with uni coming up soon and meds taking forever to work I’m starting back on Carbamazapine now. Now I just have to work out how to cope at university with all of this.
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    A post which I made a few years ago which gives some first hand experience of depression:

    I don't really know why I'm posting this, I guess sometimes it just helps to tell people and find people who know a bit what you're feeling like - not like the NHS is helping. Since like january last year I've been in a pretty bad way, it started with sitting in my room crying, smoking a lot of weed, drinking vast, vast amounts of alcohol and self-harming, then moved onto casual sex just for the closeness it provided with people I actually didn't give a **** about. I never went out, stopped going to lectures, just sat in my room eating nothing, drinking loads and staring at the screen trying to find a way not to just kill myself there.

    My very few friends and uni tutor convinced me to get help, but when I managed to get the courage to see a GP, he told me it was just a regular teenage phase, that I was fine and should just piss off. I cried so badly when I got home from that; it was like he thought I was making it up, everything got much worse and I felt terrible, it stopped me seeing a doctor again for ages though I did get counselling at uni. I was also really paranoid around now, scared of people breaking into my room so I kept a knife under my pillow and a hockey stick by my bed, when I went out it was always in clothes I could run and hide in and it felt like everyone was talking and laughing at me. I was scared of everything.

    oh yeah and if you haven't guessed I have pretty ****ing awful insomnia which is why I can post something so long before 7am. I've had about an hour combined sleep tonight in 10 minute or so bursts.

    Fast forward a bit; over the summer I quit the self-harm (mostly), drinking, sex & drugs but I still felt ****ing appalling. Finally saw my home GP and got given citalopram and told I've apparently got depression. The citalopram didn't really touch it, and made my already severe paranoia even worse, I hated going out. I hated doing anything still and would just sit and cry for hours. Once I got into a bad situation of being on my own late at night outside and started hearing voices - I was just running in the dark, crying, then hiding in bushes, trying to get rid of them from screaming what a useless **** I was and that I should just end it all.

    End of summer back at uni I had a different GP, given prozac which omg, made me want to kill myself so badly, it was like a punishment that stuff, I felt like someone had grabbed all my feelings and ripped them out of me. I was just dead inside, like a zombie, I couldn't take it and took myself off it after 4 days - cue appalling withdrawal symptoms for a week. Next reboxetine which I'm still on despite it making me a total insomniac, I've had about 5 different sleeping drugs over the last few weeks and none have given me more than about 2 hours a nice consistently so I'm exhausted all the time and still feel bad. I'm a bit scared of the dark because I see spiders which I'm terrified of, so have to lie in bed with a candle. I also had a situation in the uni library where I ended up just sobbing as I had some weird awake dream thing; all I could think about was ripping my arms to bits as punishment for upsetting a friend accidentally. I could see the cuts and the blood pouring out of my arms whereever I looked, I could even smell it, so I just sat crying waiting for it all to go away which took ages. But at least I managed not to hurt myself.

    I'm not entirely sure how much I can take. I often feel suicidal, the drugs do nothing, the GP won't refer me to a specialist, I keep wanting to hurt myself again, or drink a load with the useless sleeping pills so I can sleep. I've even considered taking the remaining prozac pills to give myself the horrible feelings I got on them to punish myself when I do something wrong. I'm still crying all the time, uni work is getting impossible but the paranoia has lifted enough for me to go out though seems to be getting a little worse this past 2 weeks. Also my anger is getting out of control, I've always had a problem with it but now I'm getting really angry at just the smallest things. I feel nothing but anger and sadness, occasionally, like now, I just don't feel anything really, vague sadness but this is a better moment. I'm not entirely sure what else to do, and I've just realised how long this post is. Damn, no one will read it. I'm not even sure what I want people to say if anything, I don't know. I hate people saying that people with depression should just pull themselves out of it, or that taking drugs to try control it is the weak cowards way out. Them people don't know what they're talking about, I would never wish this on anyone.

    Anyway, yeah, I don't know even if to push the "post reply" button, I guess I can just wander off into obscurity if it goes wrong so there's no harm in it. I'm not feeling too bad right this minute actually...I guess it's the fact it's freezing cold in here and completely quiet except for me typing. I like when no one's about, I don't even trust the people I live with.

    I don't know what to do about anything.


    An overall summary of my depression

    I never had any friends at school, I was always the outsider bullied constantly throughout my time at school, I guess that's what caused me to self harm to begin with. When I was about 14 I was cutting daily after school, people would tell me I was worth nothing and I took the resulting self hatred out on myself. I did it for a couple of years without getting found out, stopped when the bullying scaled back in the last couple of years at school.

    At university everything changed, I had friends for the first time and life was good. I fell out with these friends over a misunderstanding (obviously caused by my complete inability to interact successfully with people) and this caused massive reactive depression. I was drinking every day ridiculous amounts, cutting again because I felt so alone and hated myself so much and smoking a lot as well. I didn't eat for weeks and lost loads of weight, I stayed up all night watching south park in my underpants and all day too actually. I rarely went to class and didn't follow when I did go.

    About this time I saw a doctor when my new friend (later girlfriend) told me she thought I might be depressed. The doctor told me I was fine, apparently this is all normal behavior. Over the summer things got even worse, I was permanently in a state of drunken, malnourished, sleep-deprived-ness, finally I got the courage to see another doctor who instantly told me I needed medication no question about it.

    Started citalopram, the first of so many different antidepressants. Felt nauseous and headachey for a few days but little else. After no effect for a couple of months the doctor changed it to fluoxetine, those first few days on fluoxetine were absolute hell. It was like the worst flu imaginable. I quit after 4 days, it was intolerable. Next came 7 more antidepressants, each failing to have any effect just side effects every time. Weight gain, insomnia, nausea, headaches, earaches, insatiable hunger, too much sleep, terrible concentration, etc etc etc. Meanwhile I dropped out of university to try focusing on getting better. This was a terrible mistake. It meant I had nothing to do but think all day, and when you're depressed your thoughts are horrible to be alone with. Out of desperation I applied to another university, I couldn't stand the lack of focus in my life, I needed to distract myself.

    I struggled so much at this new university, I didn't make a single friend in the 3 years I was there. My self harm spiraled out of control, I'd started hallucinating regularly and antipsychotics were added to my antidepressants. The side effects of the antipsychotics were even worse. I gained 4 stone in a couple of months and on one of them, again I went through several, I was sleeping upwards of 17hours a day. I couldn't think, I couldn't concentrate, I still drank too much, I still did nothing but go on my computer every waking hour or stare lifelessly at the wall wishing for death. Nothing was fun, I had zero motivation for anything, I hardly went to classes and to this day I'm still amazed they didn't kick me out. Every first year essay was given in late, most second year ones also late, exams were barely passed but still I soldiered on, I would not quit.

    Near the end of final year I hit my lowest point, a mixture of stress and other factors meant I attempted to kill myself and was forced (well "voluntary" technically but not really) to go into a psychiatric hospital, there I was started on a new drug, amisulpride, which amazingly did absolute wonders. It's a few weeks later and I feel better than I have in years, I don't remember ever feeling this good. I feel positive about the future, I can feel motivated again, things like playing video games or watching south park are fun again, all in all it's pretty incredible the change. I was let out of hospital and although I'm still under the crisis team things are really looking up.

    I'm so glad I never quit at uni because in a week's time I will have finished totally. It took so much effort to get to this stage but I think it's paid off, I feel good, I nearly have a degree I worked my ass off for, I have a beautiful fantastic girlfriend and my life is finally looking up. I'll be living somewhere new, will hopefully get a job and make friends and finally, finally, finally be happy.
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    I have been suffering from depression for about 7 years, since the start of high-school, when I also started self-harming. But I wasn't diagnosed until I was in year 10 after a serious attempt on my life. I was referred to a local mental health clinic, I attended every week or so to have a chat about how things are going in my life, and to explore the possible causes. I was eventually diagnosed and prescribed Fluoxetine (Prozac). I started with 2.5ml (liquid form) per day, for say, a month, then slowly built it up to the 10mg I am on today. At first it made me feel a bit sick, like any meds would, but now i'm fairly stable, but of course it's different for everyone.

    I still have my off days, anti-depressants aren't miracle cures. But it does help me get on with my life and has enabled me to restore a bit of normality to my life, like being in a long-term relationship. It's so important to have someone to talk to when you're feeling down. Yes, I still cut, but nowhere as near as much as I used to. It's just the way I deal with things.

    Today I went for a DSA (Disabled Student Allowance) assessment, to see what help I could recieve at university. People often ask, "why would you need that? You're not disabled". But still people don't really understand how depression can affect a person. Forgetfullness, lack of concentration, lack of motivation, fatigue,paranoia. All examples of how depression can affect our daily lives.
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    I'll add a few personal experiences of medications...

    Lorazepam - Effective fast acting sedation particularly during periods of agitation and aggression. Very good for inducing sleep, there were however some hangover effects the following morning which made me feel sluggish and at times dissociated particularly at higher doses.

    Clonazepam - Good medication for controlling anxiety and agitation although unfortunately addictive thus not suitable for long term treatment. Useful for controlling extrapyramidal side effects induced by use of antipsychotics such as haloperidol. It does however like most benzodiazepines seem to cause cognitive impairments, slower memory recall and difficulty taking in new information was what I experienced.

    Promethazine - H1 receptor antagonist of the phenothiazine class. Previously used as an antipsychotic these days it's used primarily for it's sedative and antihistamine properties. It's ok for mild or moderate sleep problems however it's definitely not as sedating as lorazepam or zopiclone. Unlike both of those however it is fine for long term use.

    Zopiclone - Short term it functions well in assisting with inducing sleep. However after 7 days of use the effectiveness declines noticeably & rapidly. Unlike benzodiazepines such as lorazepam it seems to induce a more natural sleep which leaves you feeling rested with no hangover effects. After taking this medication it is common to experience a bitter metallic taste particularly when consuming flavour neutral liquids such as plain water.

    Quetiapine (Seroquel) - Can be rather sedating during the first few weeks of use, however after a couple of months the sedation becomes less noticeable and more tolerable. Common to experience orthostatic hypotension during the first few days of use however this will generally subside with time. As with most sedating atypical antipsychotics weight gain is very common, I gained 3 stone in two months. This medication caused significant mental dulling and suppression of emotional responses. Negativity aside it is generally pretty good in controlling psychotic experiences such as visual and auditory hallucinations, although breakthrough experiences did occur even at high doses of 750 mg per day.

    Olanzapine - Generally accepted to be the most sedating of the atypical antipsychotics it definitely lived up to its reputation. Most days whilst taking this medication it would cause me to sleep for up to 15 hours at a time. Also caused significant weight gain, drooling, and severe mental dulling. Also caused me to lapse into a severe depressive episode, definitely wont be trying this ever again.

    Aripiprazole - An atypical antipsychotic with some unusual properties as it functions as both a dopamine agonist and antagonist. For these reasons some people can find it very stimulating and it can significantly worsen insomnia in those who suffer from it. Caused me a lot of problems with akathisia and blurred vision for these reasons I was pulled off it by my doctors. It was actually very effective in controlling the psychotic symptoms however the aforementioned problems unfortunately made staying on this medication unbearable. Definitely worth trying as not everyone will experience the side effects like I did. Another plus is that it doesn't cause any weight gain!

    Haloperidol - Generally speaking no longer prescribed for long term use due to the risk of tardive dyskinesia. Short term use however I have found this to be a wonder drug during particularly bad bouts of auditory hallucinations, it is a very potent antipsychotic. Unfortunately it can cause a number of extrapyramidal side effects such as akathisia and dystonia, for these reasons I was usually prescribed clonazepam alongside it to help counteract these side effects.

    Citalopram - Didn't really get many noticeable side effects other than a weird metallic taste and very vivid dreams. That said it didn't really help at all even after 6 months of use. Withdrawal wasn't very pleasant as citalopram can cause brain zap headaches.

    Sertraline - Caused significant nausea and killed my appetite causing me to lose a lot of weight, I dropped from 10 stone to 7 and a half stone. Didn't help with depression at all, and probably caused my insomnia to worsen.


    Hmmm I would write up the others but I'm not feeling great at the moment and my mind isn't what it used to be Trying hard not to be negative and provide a balanced view however this is quite difficult given the circumstances at the moment. I hope you find them useful for the guide anyway.
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    A personal experience of recovering from depression:

    My name's Imogen and I'm 19. I've had experience with depression from the age of 13, when I first had symptoms of a major depressive episode. At that time I self-harmed for a few months. My mother intervened and with her help I recovered. From 13 to 18 I did not have any major depressive episodes, but I was consistently unhappy. I've never received any diagnoses, but the symptoms of Bi-polar II fit my mood for those years. I had periods of hypomania and dysthymia, which means periods of slightly elevated moods interspersed between periods of mild depression.

    When I was 18 I moved out for university. My first term was tough for me and I became very deeply depressed. I slept all day, couldn't do any work, couldn't sleep at night and lost a lot of weight. I felt completely lost, hopeless and had a strong sense of self-loathing. I became obsessed with thoughts of suicide and would spend hours researching different methods and people who had killed themselves. I really just wanted to die, though at that point the idea of self-harming never entered my mind. Eventually it got so bad that I dropped out of university halfway through my first year.

    For a while after I came home nothing changed. I still felt very lost and miserable, and it didn't help that I was now isolated from all my friends and stuck in the house all day. After a while I decided I wanted to go back to university to study English and began reading a lot. I truthfully believe that reading saved me. It taught me how easy it is to change one's perception of one's life, made me want to achieve things, helped me see that I could choose to make myself into someone I wanted to be rather than hating my self and feeling empty. I started reading a lot about zen buddhism, feminism and existential philosophy, which I feel had a huge impact.

    I personally believe that negative thought patterns, beliefs and behaviours are major causes of depression in our society. When I began examining my inner life is when I recovered from despair and misery. However, this doesn't mean that it would work for all people suffering from depression. I think that in some cases depression is caused by chemical balances or some other biological factor, and that anti-depressants are important in helping people with this kind of depression.

    I've now felt pretty much better for over a year. I had a brief relapse early this year, in which I had very strong suicidal thoughts and an almost psychotic desire to self-harm. I'm not sure what caused it, as my life and beliefs had not changed a bit, but it might have been something to do with it being winter and caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder. I think this supports my theory that some depression has a chemical cause in the brain, and that therapy will not always work for everyone.

    I'm very lucky that I had the luxury of taking a lot of time off (18 months in total) to sort my head out and start to feel comfortable with being alive, and that I managed it without drugs or professional help. I know that for some people that is impossible, but I would always recommend taking a step back to take a look at the way you live your life in case it is that which is causing you pain and anguish.

    Good luck and best wishes to anyone who is reading this and feeling hopeless. You will get through it somehow :hugs:
    #1

    I’ve struggled with depression since I was 16. Looking back, I can see that it probably started a lot earlier, but the first time I was aware of it was when I had a massive argument with my parents. I was so frustrated and angry the only thing that I could think of to do to calm myself down was scratching my arm with a pin. The mood swings were blamed on hormones and being a teenager, but now I recognise that they were probably the result of a mild depression.

    I moved through the next two years occasionally harming myself superficially, but generally managing – even though I was rarely motivated to do my A level work or to take care of myself, being overweight and rarely bothering to shower or even brush my hair before school. I failed my A levels but got offered a place at university to study a subject that I just wasn’t interested in. Not wanting to lose face and admit that I was unsure about what to do with my university place, I took it and lived at the university for 5 months. It soon became apparent that university would only exacerbate my personality disorder. In halls I had no stability and quickly fell out with my flatmates, stopped eating properly (I lost nearly a stone and a half between September and Christmas) and was ill all the time. Self-harming was no longer a tool of frustration, it was an addiction and I was cutting every day. I started to think that I would be better off dead, as it would be less hassle. When I came home at Christmas I told my parents I could no longer carry on there but they persuaded me to try a few more months to see if it was just homesickness. I called them at the end of January and told them I was coming home, whether they liked it or not, and in February I left university.

    When I got back home, for a while I was ok. I was back with my friends, my family and I felt secure. The self-harming cycle I was gripped in at university was broken and I was starting to think about my future. I got a job in a hospital as an health care assistant which I enjoyed initially; unfortunately we had a lot of suicide patients on my ward and other patients with mental health problems which triggered my depression and urge to hurt myself again. I told a friend about it, and he took me to my GP surgery. Whilst there, she looked at me like I was insane and just gave me a questionnaire to do at home – and told me to come back in two weeks. We did the questionnaire immediately in the car park. I scored something like 19 out of 22 – anything over 15 is considered depressed, with 22 being near suicidal and in need of urgent help. Still, I refused to go back to the doctor. I eventually quit my job in the hospital as being around people who were also depressed was bringing me down and I was starting to feel suicidal again. Instead, I returned to college.

    A few weeks after I started at college I got a new job in a nightclub and found that I actually started to enjoy working. College was going great, work was fun, I had a purpose and started to think about pursuing my dreams that had been put on the back burner when I failed my A levels. I still self-harmed, but now there was no reason for it other than I craved it. I started to be more secretive about my body and slowly came to terms with the idea that I’d never have a boyfriend or anyone who would want to be near me in a relationship. The year past largely without incident, I got my head down and got into a university that I wanted to go to and made sure I did my work. In February the nightclub where I worked went into administration and in May I was given a job in a pub, working with some of the people I worked with in the nightclub which was great as I kept my friends. The worst thing in my life then was that my Dad was working away from May to September, however he was often away from home and whilst I was worried about him, it was not a massive trigger for me.
    Around this time I started to get closer to one of the guys I worked with. We went out on a couple of dates and by June we were going out (albeit unofficially). I still self-harmed which causes many problems between us, as he had also suffered from depression as a teenager.

    On June the 22nd last year I found out one of my school friends had died suddenly. When I turned to him for comfort, he pushed me away and a couple of days later, he dumped me. I felt totally alone and lost, and unable to think clearly, drank a bottle of wine and downed two packets of pills in my first suicide attempt. Desperate and in pain, I phoned him for help and he took me to A+E and sat with me all night. My parents don’t know about that night, and I’ll never tell them. Whilst in hospital, I was given activated charcoal and spent the evening throwing up. In the morning before I was discharged the Crisis Team’s psychologist was sent to see me and I blagged to her that everything was ok, it was just a result of the break up and college stress and that I was just a stupid teenager.

    In July I went to my friend’s funeral, and made the decision to stay away from my ex as much as I could. I wasn’t coping very well and went back to the GP, where she put me on medication called Citalopram. Citalopram is an SSRI that’s not commonly used in under 18s as it can increase suicidal ideations and attempts. The initial low dosage didn’t help me at all, so it got doubled at the start of August. A week later, on a rainy day when my Mum was away, I experienced something I hope I never experience again. That morning, I woke up, and I knew that I wasn’t going to be alive the next day. I showered, got dressed into clean clothes, tidied my bedroom, tidied the house and then wrote my family a note. I told them that it wasn’t their fault, that they should forget about me and that they would be better off without me. I left out a few things like a necklace and a ring which I wanted my friends to have, and wrote them individual notes too thanking them for their friendship. I got a bottle of alcohol and raided the medicine cabinet for what I could find. Unsatisfied with what I had, I took my Dad’s migraine medication – all three months of it. I also took two kitchen knives with me. I took the pills and the alcohol and walked to a local park, where I downed as much of the pills as I could with the alcohol (even though I threw most of them up later on) and cut my wrists with the knives. Walkers passed me by and paid me no attention, all apart from one little black dog who kept licking my hands and face. His owner called him away rather than coming over to fetch him; which I’m glad for. I’m happy no-one saw me like that in that park.

    Why am I still here? Well, I left a message on here saying what I intended to do. Somehow, this got relayed to one of my friends, and soon my best friends were informed. As I had turned my phone off, they tried to come round the house and when they got no answer, they phoned the police. Luckily, my next door neighbour has a house key otherwise I’d be paying for a new front door! When they found only suicide notes inside, they started to look for me in the town we live in. Eventually one of them found me, and I was taken to hospital. My family were called and my Dad was given leave to come home and be with me. In hospital I was put on a drip and given another psychological assessment. As it was so close to me going to university, I had to convince them that I was psychologically sound and that I wouldn’t attempt it again. Once they were happy, I was transferred to a ward to spend the next two days whilst the drip worked and they checked I hadn’t damaged my liver. The ward I was on? The old ward that I used to work on. I was recognised by the nurse who was looking after me. Whilst I was closer to 20 when I took the medication, it would appear that it caused the suicidal episode and so that medication has been written off for me completely!

    In order to go to university, I promised my parents that I would get help, and that I would attend a depression day centre until I went. The centre was based around group therapy and helping patients to understand their minds and to resist self-harming/suicide/other bad actions. Whilst I found it hard to deal with, and not massively helpful, it occupied me and I did learn from it. When I got to university, I immediately talked to my new GP and we decided to go down the route of counselling (free with the university service). I went for a few weeks but overall found it more damaging than helpful and didn’t go after the third week. Over the next few months I cycled up and down, and during my biggest down period I met my current boyfriend. I was self-harming and drinking on my own, and he made me go back to the doctors and counselling. When I went back, I got put on Sertraline, another SSRI but one without the pesky little side effect of suicidal intent. It did, however, turn me into a zombie for the first week of taking it. After the teething problems were sorted, it seemed to work for a bit though. I went cold turkey off it in January (really, really dumb) and haven’t been on drugs since. They just don’t seem to work on me.

    In March life threw me another curve ball. I found out I was pregnant. As I was throwing up twice every morning and slept for 16 hours a day, it wasn’t hard to figure out, but still came as a shock. We talked about it and whilst my boyfriend would have been happy to keep it, I decided that it was too much of a risk with my depression (especially as my mood had dropped dramatically in the last few weeks) and that neither of us were ready. The pregnancy was terminated late March and I’m still trying to get my head around it – I *should* be in my second trimester now. But if I had kept it, I would have had to give up my university course, my job, my boyfriend would’ve had to get a dead end job he hated to pay for us, we would be living totally different lives. I’m certain I’ll get married and have children in the future, I’m just not ready now. I still struggled with self-harm and drinking and in April my boyfriend laid down an ultimatum = make a serious attempt at stopping or he’d break up with me. So I threw away my blades and haven’t looked back.

    It’s been 2 months, I think, since I last self-harmed and the scars are still bright red and raised. I can’t go swimming because they’re all over my legs and arms and look awful. I can’t wear pretty dresses and I can’t even wear a strap top in my own home. Mood wise, since finishing first year of university and moving back home, I’ve become happier and more complacent. For now, everything is going ok. I still have my own demons to deal with and I’m certain they’ll raise their ugly heads in the future but for now, I’m happy. I still have bad days, I find out soon whether I’ve passed first year or not because I didn’t do a lot of the work due to lack of motivation and concentration, but I’m loving where I am in life. I love my degree, I love my job, I love my boyfriend and my family.

    Bad days come in the form of having literally no motivation; it's a struggle to even get out of bed, let alone shower or leave the house. Sometimes I eat to give myself something to do and other times I don't eat for days because the feeling of hunger is better than feeling horrible all the time. My moods change quite rapidly and I can be bouncing off the walls one minute and then crying in the corner the next. Thankfully it's getting rarer but on very bad days I turn to self harm and drinking.

    I would urge anyone who self-harms or is thinking of self-harming to get in contact with a support network. Out of all the problems with my depression, it's the one that's affected me and my relationships the most. It's not worth it.
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    My medication experience

    Fluoxetine- Started it on liquid form, which had a minty flavouring. I then changed to solid tablet form, which takes a few weeks to get used to. In that time I suffered from nausea and mild palpatations, but it's important to carry on with it.

    Diazepam- A fast acting drug, that affects your short term memory. It successfully relieved my feelings of anxiety and filled me with confidence.

    Melatonin (sleeping pill) - A natural chemical produced in the brain which enabled me to get a good nights sleep. It used to take me about 3 hours to drift off. Now it only takes about 10 minutes.
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    My depression started at the end of Year 11, around the time of my 16th birthday. I don't know what triggered it at all, it's most probably a mixture of things and I've had it for nearly two years. My official diagnosis is clinical depression with social phobia thrown in for good measure. When I eventually saw my GP she said that she didn't want to put me on antidepressants partly because of my age but mainly because I had nearly taken an overdose a few weeks before- obviously giving me more pills was not the best idea.

    I had CBT with a private therapist but stopped after about 8 sessions because my parents were under the impression I was getting better. It was also £40 a session whereas my Maths tutor is only £25 per hour, so he won that battle. Naturally, this meant that I got a lot better at Maths but mentally I slipped down again at the beginning of this year. I don't think the therapy helped that much, maybe because I didn't have the required amount of sessions for it to make a long-lasting difference. I always felt as though my therapist was telling me off for my behaviour so I didn't feel that comfortable talking to her.

    It's changed my life dramatically, I've lost basically all of my friends and I'm a lot more cynical and have a clearer view of the world, which I don't think is always a bad thing. It also affected my AS exams last year so I had to get a letter from my GP explaining that I could have done better had I not been mentally ill.

    I'm practically back to how I've started now, I have bad days and OK days and the odd moment where I'm smiling and laughing or enjoying myself. Mainly bad days though. I just can't see myself ever getting better.
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    Drugs:
    Citalopram: worsened my insomnia, gave me headaches and nausea (which, coupled with simply forgetting to eat, led to extreme weight loss and so I was taken off it). Might also have contributed to my increased suicidal thoughts and worsening self-harming. No positive effect on mood, but since I was only on it for six weeks at a fairly low dosage it wasn't really a fair trial.

    Mirtazapine: made me sleep a lot (which, what with my insomnia, I welcomed) and gave me vivid dreams. No positive effect on my mood.

    Venlafaxine and quetiapine (I started both at the same time, so don't know which side-effects came from which): flu-like symptoms, including dizziness and weakness, meaning I could barely get out of bed. Also mental confusion, similar to having a really bad hangover or being extremely sleep-deprived. After a week I saw my GP, who gave me a check up, found my pulse was over 170 bpm and so sent me into hospital overnight (I had a pretty severe and atypical reaction though, and my symptoms all disappeared as soon as I stopped taking the pills). No effect on mood.

    Sertraline: gave me awful hangover/flu-like symptoms and tachycardia, so I stopped taking it after several days. No effect on mood.

    Agomelatine: No side-effects whatsoever, gave me a slight lift in mood.

    Olanzapine: initially no side-effects, but after being on it for a long period of time it might have caused me to develop a bit of a tremor. Augmented the positive effects of my antidepressants, and also stopped some weird and highly unwelcome thoughts I was having.

    Lithium: made me feel a little zombified and indifferent to everything. Didn't help my mood apart from making me not care about not caring.

    Clomipramine: gave me low blood pressure for the first month or two, causing dizziness and loss of vision whenever I stood up, and I fainted a couple of times. But this wore off after a while and is no longer a problem. Cured my depression almost completely.

    Zopiclone: usually quite effective at sending me off to sleep. It does give me a slight metallic taste in my mouth, and I think it might once have given me auditory hallucinations, but nothing I couldn't handle.


    My experience:
    I think I first got depressed when I was about 17, although I wasn't diagnosed until several years later. I skived a lot of school and got some bad grades, and generally spent a lot of time lying on the floor of my room doing nothing, although I just about managed to keep other people from knowing there was something wrong. I then had a couple of good years, but kept doing some minor self-harming throughout this time (which I actually started before I got properly depressed, sometime around the time I hit puberty).

    Things started getting bad again during my second year of uni. I self-medicated by smoking weed on a far too regular basis, which worked to an extent, but eventually it stopped helping so I stopped smoking. I attempted to get help for the first time that year, by going to see a doctor. She was awful, made me feel like I was wasting her time, and also heavily implied that I had a drug problem (I didn't, I only smoked so much because I was depressed). She told me to come back in two weeks but I never bothered to make another appointment. Several months later I told my best friend I was feeling suicidal - I didn't mean to, but one night I got so drunk I became mildly delusional and started thinking there were people chasing me, and then started crying and rambling about killing myself.

    I then had another few good months (my better times generally coincide with having a change of scenery), followed by getting worse once again. I decided to try again with another GP, and this time got one who was far more sympathetic. She diagnosed me with major depression, and decided it was bad enough to start me on antidepressants (citalopram) immediately. But despite getting help my depression got worse rather than better, and I ended up interrupting my studies.

    No longer having uni to occupy me and having a difficult living situation, my depression rapidly got worse. I would spend almost all the day in bed, either on the internet, watching tv or just crying or staring at the walls. My suicidal feelings got bad to the point that sometimes I didn't know whether I'd make it through to the next day. I stopped speaking to my friends, and for some time the only people I spoke to were the Crisis Team (who I hated but who used to come round on a daily basis to check on me). I stopped eating almost entirely, and lost an unhealthy amount of weight. I tried various different antidepressants over the course of six months, none of which helped in the slightest. I was put on a waiting list for counselling, but never reached the top of it.

    The final straw came with an act of total betrayal by my friends and flatmates, which I won't go into. I didn't trust myself to keep from killing myself, so my GP arranged for me to go into hospital. I was on a psychiatric ward for two months, during which I was put on agomelatine and olanzapine, which were the first drugs to have any positive effect on me at all. I was still severely depressed, but no longer considered a suicide risk so they released me and I went to live with my sister.

    I made slight gradual progress over the following year, and then suddenly felt a whole lot better when I switched antidepressants to clomipramine. I considered myself almost completely cured (albeit still with a slight self-harm problem), although I had to rethink that when I suffered a brief but intense relapse caused by some highly stressful circumstances. I am now a bit more careful not to put too much pressure on myself, and overall am feeling pretty good and not too worried about returning to uni. I'm also finally nearing the top of a psychology waiting list, so I'm hoping they'll be able to give me some coping strategies for if I feel my depression returning.


    AGI, I've got a few suggestions: first of all I think maybe you should spoiler the OP into sections, it looks a little daunting as it is. Also, I think a bit about the various roles of GPs, psychiatrists, CPNs, CMHT etc. might be useful (let me know if you want me to write anything for it). And moodgym is a free online CBT program, you might want to stick that in somewhere too. Plus there's my depression distractions thread (which is basically just three pages of funny animal videos, but what the hell's wrong with that?).

    Edit: a section (no pun intended) on being on a psychiatric ward might also be useful.
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    Hi, my names Lizzie

    I've had it for around 3/4 years I never got it diagnosed as Its quite hard to approach someone when your in that state of mind. I didn't want to be given medication either as I know first hand what effects it had on people and I didn't want to end up that way.

    From what I can tell it was all bought on by the fact I was bullied at school about my looks and weight I hated it so much, I wanted to move schools pretty bad but I couldn't so I had to put up with it. This made me obsessed with loosing weight and thinking it would make me happy but suffering from an eating disorder makes you depressed the fact I cant control my urges with food makes me upset and it really shows physically with the way I act around people like being aggressive and defensive when I don't mean to

    Therapy wise talking about it helped a lot and I appreciate I had people around me to listen and help me through the bad times. It had gone for a while and I felt happy again.. I'm now back to the state I was previously In I often feel sad and like crying. It really affects my life, the way I act around people, my emotions, relationships, even my eating is affected by it.

    At the worst state It made me attempt suicide and although it failed I realized it was a stupid idea and I needed help. It got better when I met my ex boyfriend as he always knew how to cheer me up and always done lovely things for me but now I've pushed him out of my life and I feel alone

    I'm hoping to get help in building up the courage to admit I have problems and get professional help. Would be nice to finally have my life under control and be happy again.
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    I''m Hannah, and i've been suffering with depression for around 8 years. I was diagnosed aged 15, but trying to actually pin point a time when it happened is some what hard. I remember being quite an anxious, scared and sad child. Which makes little sense as to many people I had the perfect childhood. But internally, I was a wreck. I remember clearly aged 7 crying myself to sleep most nights because I was scared of growing up. It sounds so silly now, but the fear for a 7 year old was immense. I had this picture of when I was a toddler sitting under a chair, and I remember sobbing as I tried to fit myself under the chair. I was scared. Crying myself to sleep became a regular occurance. Birthdays were dreaded, and since age 8 I have cried at every birthday. I didnt want to grow up because I thought that would be a disapointment to my parents. I was very much a perfectionist, never wanting to dissapoint. I was also scared to losing my parents. I became convinced people were out to kill us. I became obsessional with making sure doors were locked at night, curtains were closed etc in fear of being burgled. As I was older, a few things happened which really screwed up my mentality. But i've tended to supress these.
    As I get older and into teenage years, depression becomes mixed into other issues, mainly eating. It was aged 14 that I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. And from there to now, age 18 it all seems a blur. The eating issues again, I cannot quite pin point when they occured, but i'd had slightly strange thoughts on weight and food from an early age.
    Treatment wise, I refused to take antidepressants. I hated the idea of being controlled by a drug. I was scared that i'd suddenly become this happy out going person. At the time I was in denial, id felt this way for as long as I could remember and it just felt normal to me, and this was just me. By aged 15, the depression was not the main cause of concern, i'd dropped out of school and spent 5 months in hospital for my eating disorder. This made my mood much lower, looking over my diary of that time is scary. All I talked about was death. I'd planned my funeral, written many versions of suicide notes. I also took my first overdose there. I remember sitting in my bed crying, taking the tablets and feeling such relief that this could all be over. Instead I spent the night being sick and shaking. But I felt huge control that I could just end it all.
    At 16, I was sectioned to a specialist unit, where I was forced to take medication. I had lorazapam, diazapam, and fluoxatine. I stayed there for 4 months but was re sectioned a few months later and stayed for 7 months. In that time things got really bad. There were numerous suicide attempts, and self harm had become much worse. I remember sitting in my room crying just sitting in pools of blood. It was a bad time, often being carted off to A&E to be stitched back up. Those months seem muck of a blur, I spent alot of it, sleeping, crying, sleeping, crying. The fluoxatine was going little to help, but due to my age they were reluctant to change it. Im now on sertraline, which I dont find helpful. I was put on olanzapine because at night I would exercise obsessively, and it meant I could sleep through the day to avoid having to cope with everything. I hated the olanzapine. I was knocked out completly, I remember very little of the time whilst I was on it. And I gained a huge anount of weight which freaked me out too.
    I then tried quetiapine, but the effects were simular.

    Now though, I still suffer alot, despite being on sertraline and seeing a psychologist. I depent alot on the drugs, I sometimes stop them, but quickly fall into a pit of despair, tears, and suicidal ideations. But i'm trying to make changes. I dont want to be this way all my life, and in the times when I can see hope, I do have aspirations for the future.


    It's just so darrn hard
    #2

    Hey guys, this is a good idea, and really helpful

    My personal experience started October 2009, when I was applying for university. As many TSRians may know, the pressure for Oxbridge is ridiculously high, and I've had it through school - although not parents - since about year 6, bloody teachers. So I'd been set up for a very large fall, with school telling me (and everyone else, to be fair) that Oxbridge/Medicine/Law were pretty much the only real options, and everything else was just settling for second best. Words can't describe how furious I am at the attitude this school has, because I absolutely adore where I am now, and I wish I hadn't been so negative/apprehensive about going anywhere else. It's ridiculous.

    Anyway, when I applied, and went for my Cambridge interview, I was barely prepared at all, and I had started to experience classic anxiety symptoms for a month or two - nervous twitches that continued pretty much all day, then faded to just when I was nervous. This continues to this day, although to a much lesser degree. I have also had (mostly alcohol-induced) panic attacks for a few years, albeit rarely, and usually in conjunction with boy troubles but now they became more frequent, and specified to uni worries. It was a horrific wait for the results at school, and I went in with a friend who had applied to Cambridge to collect the offer/rejection letters. The receptionist said "oh my goodness! Well done!" and we obviously enquired who had got it. It was my friend. I found this to be not only hugely insensitive and cruel to me, but also highly unprofessional and really quite unfair - I had received a letter informing me I was in the pool. Were it not for her outburst, I would have been quite happy about my being pooled - it wasn't a rejection after all! - but instead she said "never mind" and made me feel as if I'd failed, especially in comparison to my friend, who had very little regard for how I might have been feeling, but I don't mind that as much, as I would be just as elated. When the post-pool offers came in, I was terrified - and I had been rejected. I was pretty distraught, after all, this was now 2 of my universities being rejections (Bristol rejected me within a month of application. Tossers). My dreams and high ambitions were slipping away, and I had no idea why. I started to find myself in a very deep pit of depression, unsure what to do or who to turn to.

    Another issue was my relationship. My boyfriend, whom I had been going out with for around 9 months (Oct 2009) was starting to get very serious, and I had never had a relationship beyond 2/3 months before. Various intimacy issues (which still happen) increased the anxiety issues, and the anxiety in turn fuelled the depression.

    The anxiety and depression took it in turns to get worse than the other, one day leaving me a nervous, twitching wreck, jumping at everything and worrying about silly things until 3am every night, the next day leaving me sobbing uncontrollably and endlessly into a pillow, wondering if I would ever manage to find happiness in life again. I withdrew from friendships, keeping quiet in class and in the common room, and accordingly my friends treated me differently - or so it seemed, anyway. I would ask if anyone would come to town with me - a 5 minute walk - to get lunch. Everyone would refuse. This, I took personally, thinking that no one really cared about me enough to want to spend time with me. Instead, I would either not eat lunch or eat whatever was available in the vending machine. I did not have an eating disorder, but it was a lonely and unhappy time. I stopped talking to a friend completely, for reasons that confuse me still now, for about 3 months. Eventually we made up, but at the time I thought we would never be friends again. We are now closer than ever, and I am glad.

    The intimacy issues I had really affected me. I had had sex, but the anxiety made it impossible without a HUGE amount of pain. This is still an issue, and has not been fixed... therefore I have not actually had sex in, say, one-and-a-half years. And I'm still with my boyfriend. This upsets me greatly. I have been to see a doctor, but it is a psychological thing, so I'm unsure where to find the appropriate counselling.

    When Durham rejected me right at the end of offer deadlines, I felt cheated. They had made me wait 9 months for their answer, and this made me more angry than sad - when I requested a reason, they offered the answer 'because you didn't have 11A*s' which again made me feel cheated - the open day had SPECIFICALLY said 5-7 A*s was average, and more than enough, and as well, I had only taken 10 GCSEs, meaning that although I took a GCSE in my spare time, therefore one more than most students at my school, this was not taken into consideration. GAH. At this point, I just couldn't bring myself to care, so this affected me less, apart from when my Cambridge-offer friend would moan about having 5 offers, and wasn't life hard for her. I had 2, and one of them was never really one I wanted, but just something to fill up the choices (I didn't want London, or Scotland, for various reasons, which left me very few choices in my subject)

    I thought that when I got a firm offer, life would be alright again, but unfortunately on results day, I didn't get the grades required (AAA) on results day. My friends were off celebrating, going to the results party, having their photos taken, while I sat in the careers room crying, calling up the uni, asking for an extension, getting my mum to pay for a re-mark. It's true what they say - you can re-sit (or, in this case, re-mark) the exam, but not the party. When the result came back with 23 marks added on, I knew it wasn't my fault. Another thing that made me angry. AQA had ruined my chance at having a last day at school with my friends. It had nearly ruined my chances of getting into university. Luckily my uni let me get the re-mark, and let me in. I honestly have so much admiration for them for being so kind. I know Cambridge would not have done the same.

    Now, this year at uni, I have really had a great time, but the depression has still been there, this time over worries over friends and whether people genuinely like me; over a brief break-up with my boyfriend and my confusion over what I wanted (yup, that's still in the back of my mind, and the main cause of depression these days) and being terrified about work (rightly so, I managed to fail an exam this term - luckily the coursework averaged it out as 5% above a pass, which is a shock for me, having always done well at school, and I despair massively over how stupid I feel). I have got help - my counsellor is fantastic, understanding, patient and has really good methods of solving problems. All counsellors I have previously had have been terrible, unhelpful and more concerned about themselves and their own voices. I am so, so grateful to my university. They are fantastic - the support service and counselling here was one of the huge reasons why I fell in love, and I have made some wonderful friends, seen beautiful things, and found myself more than I've ever managed before.

    Yet still I feel horrifically anxious and swinging towards depressive feelings again - and I feel like there is one thing I am unsure about - my relationship. Having found out more about myself, I know that right now, I want to focus on myself and getting where I want, and what I want. As horrible as it sounds, I feel like I can't be bothered with a long-distance and fairly needy relationship when I need to really concentrate on me. But I don't know if I want to break up, because we've been together for 2.5 years (minus a 4 month, fairly horrible, messy and hurtful breakup instigated by myself, that started a long period of him being alternately upset and cruel...) and we are very close, and in many ways best friends. Not to mention the fact that I don't know if I can do that breakup thing again. It was horrible. And I want to be friends. But I don't know if that's possible. In many ways, too, he feels more like a best friend than a boyfriend, which I could never tell him - he has low self-esteem, and that would crush him, because it would crush me too. So this is worrying me a whole lot, and I know it'll seem simple from an outsider's perspective, but I know I have a tendency to either be all loved-up or to be distant and fancy other men. Right now I have a crush on someone else, it's kind of not serious or anything, it's just to keep me entertained in between seeing him, plus having crushes/flirting really boosts my self-esteem. I do care about him a lot, but I owe it to myself to care about me, too.

    Recently my parents told me they were getting divorced. It is amicable, and they still live in the same house, although my mum will move out at some point, but they will still visit, and my mum will live close by. However, understandably, it's still ripped out the floor from under my feet. I was under no illusion that they were happy, and beforehand, I cried myself to sleep worrying about how unhappy they were, so really, it's the best outcome - but they're still my parents, and I want them near me, because without my mum, it's not a home.

    On top of this, she has to work about 100 or so miles away for 5 days a week since her original work site here closed. So I feel alone, with my dad and my brother, there's no one to talk to about stuff or to hug when I'm sad. This really upsets me. It will feel like she's died, and that's one of the things I'm most terrified about - the death of a loved one.

    Gahhh sorry this is so long, and mostly rubbish. Sorry. Still, if anyone wants to slog through it, I would really appreciate it if you could maybe reply, and I can contact you through PM... I don't want to reveal myself here, as people I've mentioned might see. But thanks for having this group. x
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    GP - likely to be the first person you see if you're having mental health problems. They should either diagnose you or, if your case seems more complicated, refer you on to a psychiatrist for diagnosis. They can prescribe you with medication, and also make referrals to other mental health services such as counsellors or the Crisis Team.

    Psychiatrists - deal with harder to diagnose mental illnesses, or ones which have proven treatment-resistant. They are not to be confused with the psychiatrists you get on American TV shows, where they psychoanalyse you - in my experience the main roles of British psychiatrists are to diagnose and prescribe treatment. Can prescribe some but not necessarily all drugs.

    Crisis Team - are usually called in when it's thought someone is at particular risk, e.g. are suicidal, but for one reason or another aren't being admitted to hospital. They make home calls or can arrange transportation if you need to see someone further away, such as in hospital. The Crisis Team are mostly composed of nurses and social workers, but they also have psychiatrists, psychologists and other experts who can see you if necessary. If you are under the care of the Crisis Team you can call them any time of the day or night, and request that they come and see you. Because they are meant more for emergency situations the Crisis Team will not usually see you for more than a few months, for longer term treatment they may refer you on to another team.

    Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) - a nurse assigned to you who can check on how you're doing and give advice on medical issues as well as practical ones like applying for benefits.

    AGI - I've only described the ones I've had experience with, and you might want to check with other people to see if I've got anything wrong. Descriptions of the EIP, psychologists and CAMHS would be good. I used this site for reference, you might want to link to it.

    I'll try and do a description of being in hospital tomorrow.
    #3

    (Original post by animalnitrate)
    My depression started at the end of Year 11, around the time of my 16th birthday. I don't know what triggered it at all, it's most probably a mixture of things and I've had it for nearly two years. My official diagnosis is clinical depression with social phobia thrown in for good measure. When I eventually saw my GP she said that she didn't want to put me on antidepressants partly because of my age but mainly because I had nearly taken an overdose a few weeks before- obviously giving me more pills was not the best idea.

    I had CBT with a private therapist but stopped after about 8 sessions because my parents were under the impression I was getting better. It was also £40 a session whereas my Maths tutor is only £25 per hour, so he won that battle. Naturally, this meant that I got a lot better at Maths but mentally I slipped down again at the beginning of this year. I don't think the therapy helped that much, maybe because I didn't have the required amount of sessions for it to make a long-lasting difference. I always felt as though my therapist was telling me off for my behaviour so I didn't feel that comfortable talking to her.

    It's changed my life dramatically, I've lost basically all of my friends and I'm a lot more cynical and have a clearer view of the world, which I don't think is always a bad thing. It also affected my AS exams last year so I had to get a letter from my GP explaining that I could have done better had I not been mentally ill.

    I'm practically back to how I've started now, I have bad days and OK days and the odd moment where I'm smiling and laughing or enjoying myself. Mainly bad days though. I just can't see myself ever getting better.
    What's CBT and what is it like? What kind of things do you do in your CBT sessions?
    #3

    Ok my story - I haven't been diagnosed with depression but I have had suicidal thoughts for a big part of my life.

    At some points in my life I have been physically abused and emotionally abused. Also, I was bullied for a sometime in primary school and in my first three years of secondary school (I eventually moved schools). The adults in these situations didn't do much to help me. As a result of the abuse I'd suffered, I began to feel suicidal from the age of 11. I used to think so much about taking me life, I felt I had more of a right to because people were hurting me. I even had nightmares when I was a child about the stuff that was happening to me or could happen to me. I was also really paranoid, and I felt as though everyone was against me. I had a really poor perception of myself and I felt like I was less than human and even less than a pet. I had so many negative feelings - worthlessness, unloved, degraded, belittled, fear, hurt, anger, devastation, absolutely sadness etc etc and I had no self-esteem, and that I wasn't good enough for others because if I was then people close to me and people like other pupils wouldn't hurt me and let me down.

    Last year I had enough of everything - it had all had affected me, it all got too much, and I just didn't want to live anymore. I overdosed, but ended up confessing to a couple of teachers at school and I was taken to hospital. I'm now having counselling, which is my second time, and was considering therapy but I don't know much about it and I don't know if my GP would refer me.
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    What's CBT and what is it like? What kind of things do you do in your CBT sessions?
    CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and is based around talking. In the first session it's mainly just you telling the therapist about your background and everything. The sessions which follow often start on something that's deep-rooted, it tries to stop you thinking in such a negative way and changes your thought process. I had to keep a mood diary in which I filled in 2-3 hourly intervals, syaing what I'd done and how I'd felt, that was trying to pin-point when I felt low and when I felt ok.

    I'm sorry this is such a rubbish explanation, I had CBT about a year ago now and I don't remember it in any great detail.
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    (Original post by animalnitrate)
    CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and is based around talking. In the first session it's mainly just you telling the therapist about your background and everything. The sessions which follow often start on something that's deep-rooted, it tries to stop you thinking in such a negative way and changes your thought process. I had to keep a mood diary in which I filled in 2-3 hourly intervals, syaing what I'd done and how I'd felt, that was trying to pin-point when I felt low and when I felt ok.

    I'm sorry this is such a rubbish explanation, I had CBT about a year ago now and I don't remember it in any great detail.
    Yeah you've pretty much got it there. There's usually about 5-20 sessions in which you set yourself goals and you are given 'homework tasks' to do in order to help yourself. It encourages you to think positively rather than negatively, and it helps you identify what your triggers are.
    It's now availible on the NHS.
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    Hospital: I stayed on a psychiatric ward for two months. I went in voluntarily, under the advice of my GP, as I was suicidal and at high risk of following through with it. She sent me to A&E, where (after a wait of several hours) I was seen by a psychiatrist who asked me various questions about how I was feeling and why I was going into hospital, and then I was sent over to the ward where I'd be staying.

    Once I was there I got asked more questions about how I was feeling and about my circumstances (I think my files had been mislaid), and also given a brief physical examination - I think they just took my blood pressure and heart rate. Then since it was the middle of the night they showed me my room and I went to sleep.

    I didn't leave my room much over the course of the next few days, but eventually when I did I found the layout of the ward was like this: there were several corridors with bedrooms and bathrooms off of them, two corridors being single-sex the other one mixed. You got a bedroom each and the bathrooms were between every two people, with a shower and toilet in them. There was also a sink in each of the rooms. Apart from that there was a small kitchen where you could make tea or coffee, a staff kitchen you weren't allowed in, a dining room which also had vending machines, two TV rooms also with a bookshelf, the IPAS room (no idea what that stood for, but it was basically just an activities room where you could do various arts and crafts and there was one computer you could use with internet), and in the middle of everything was an office where there were always a few staff posted. There was also a dispensary where you got your medication, a small room for doing physical examinations, two gardens where you could go and smoke (I assume I would have been allowed in them, but I actually never tried going or asking if I was allowed), and a couple of other rooms which had no particular purpose.

    My general experiences: I think I was quite lucky with the ward I ended up on. It was boring as hell, but there were at least a few things you could do to occupy yourself, like arts and crafts or you could usually get on the computer for half an hour to an hour every day or so. There were also organised activities like an exercise class. The food was standard hospital fare, so not especially enticing, but not completely inedible either. I didn't speak much to the other patients, but I gathered that they were a mix of people who'd been sectioned and voluntary patients like myself. The nurses were generally quite nice, each patient had a named nurse who was the person you were supposed to go to if you were having problems.

    I was listed as 1:15, which meant someone had to check up on me every 15 minutes. If you were on a 1:1 it meant there was someone with you constantly. Violent patients were either on a 1:1 or were put on a separate ward. I saw the doctors once a week, who reviewed my medication and checked how my mood was doing. There were no psychologists or therapists on the ward, but if you were seeing someone outside of the hospital then they could arrange for you to be transported.

    A week before I was released from hospital I was allowed home for the weekend to see how I'd cope. Since it went alright they discharged me permanently. I probably could have got out a lot sooner than the two months I spent in there, but at that time I was so indifferent to my surroundings that I made no attempt to leave.

    Despite certainly not enjoying my time in hospital, I do still think it was a positive experience, since it did what it was intended to - keep me out of harm's way until I was no longer a danger to myself.



    For balance you should probably try and get some less positive experiences, maybe from someone who's been sectioned.
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    Early intervention in Psychosis team (EIP)
    Team of people who specialize in treating first episode psychosis in young people. Contains all the different elements of mental health care; CPNs, psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, psychotherapists etc who work together to treat all aspects of the young person's problem. Will treat people for up to 3 years, tend to offer quite extensive support with regular appointments with psychiatrists to check up on how meds are going along with appointments with other members of the team to help people, for instance, find a job, apply for classes or organize their time etc. Also assign everyone a key worker who you can talk to about any problems you're having or if you need any help with anything (for example filling in forms).

Updated: April 29, 2014
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