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Anti-Depressants

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Why Happy Pills ?

I have been on anti-depressants for over 8 yrs.
My doc was always keen to give me these since I was diagnosed with CFS in 2002/2003 – after struggling on at work for at least 12 years before that.
With CFS or ME come a big list of physical problems which can make day to day life quite difficult.
Add to that almost no NHS medical help (none that works anyway), no financial help, no practical support, no emotional support.
Plus often boredom, impatience, or disinterest from people in general.

No wonder people get depressed !

Or in my case – more stressed-out than depressed.
If I didn’t “take the tablets” I would be in danger of bursting into tears of frustration and anger at stuff on a regular basis.
Almost every aspect of my life has got harder over the years. Especially the last 2 or so years.
Right now I seem to spend most of my life working – then exhausted – then sleeping.
Then more of the same . . .
There is very little time, space or energy for much else.
Not by choice – but because I work for myself and it takes me ages to get thru stuff some days with the CFS.
If I rest – the work problems and backlog gets worse. And everything has a “financial penalty” of some sort – as I deal with property.
If I just push on and on while feeling ill – I then end up “crashing” physically and mentally. And may end up in bed for a day (or even a few days) to recover. And while recovering – the work backlog and problems all get worse.
Its a vicious circle.
And I have “lost” so many days out of my life this way over the years.

Add to this the problems of trying to do normal daily activities like food shopping, cooking/preparing some dinner, laundry, housework, household finances, personal things like having a shower, or ironing clothes to wear.
These things can be major challenges at times when the CFS is bad – and often just can’t get done. Partly because no time left, but more often because no physical energy left over to do them.
Apart from the most important one – ie. Eating !
Mind you, at times I have even had to resort to just eating some biscuits or a slice of cheese for my dinner before collapsing into bed.
Not ideal.
– Then add to that the problems of having no money to spend, being overdrawn (or close), credit card debts rising, etc. And that’s just the household finance.
– The property finance is maybe 10 times as complicated and the credit crunch/recession of the last 5 years makes this all the more difficult. But I am still managing to keep it all afloat – though it feels like it is taking everything I have got at times.

But no choice here really.
As I can’t just “make it all go away”. And in this market and financial climate it isn’t possible just to sell it all off quickly – even if I wanted to.
I always look at the long picture – and keep telling myself it will be worth it in the long run.
And that I will get there.

My GP’s view on CFS and ME was that you will not get any financial help from the state – as you have to be “virtually in a coma” to qualify. So he would not help me at all. And this was years ago – around 2003.
NB. Can you imagine how angry I feel when I watch Benefit Cheats on TV . . . . Not that I would want to rely on benefits but it would have been nice just to have a little bit of financial help at times! Just to ease the strain.
I mean other people get benefits who don’t always need them, eg. Child Benefit. But thats another issue.

This is why I got into property.
My choices were very limited. And I had to do something, and something that would (ideally) produce some money in the long run.
CFS makes me unemployable – as I can only work when I can work. And I do work most days. But I can spend 8 hours at my desk and PC – but some days only get the equivalent of maybe 1 hours work done.

But I recognise I am lucky that it does fluctuate and I do have good spells too – and actually have a life. Maybe just not every day.

This has been a long post – and maybe sounds a bit “moany”. (sorry !)
But my goodness – it feels really good to get all this off my chest.

CFS – how long ?

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In Jan 2008 I met a doctor in Elgin (David Mickel) who asked me how long I had been suffering from CFS.
I didn’t know the answer – it seemed like forever.
He then turned the question around to :
“when do you last remember feeling fully well” ?
And that was easy – the mid-1980s. Maybe the late 1980s at best.

Quite a long time ago then . . .

Its funny how it can be easier to remember a “feeling” rather than precise details. And when I thought back to how it felt when I was fully well – the time/place etc all came back to me easily without having to think about it.

But my story is not unusual.
Throughout the 1990s I sort of managed but quite badly at times. And it got harder and harder as the years went on. Especially at work.
Eventually diagnosed late 2002 or early 2003.

My CFS did, and still does, fluctuate quite a lot.
And I know that I am actually very lucky with this. As it does allow me to do things and have a life. Even if quite a small life at times.
And although it may feel “severe” to me sometimes – I think it would more likely be classed as mild to moderate CFS.

Things People Say (positive thinking & housework)

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” She keeps her house immaculate – but then she has such a positive attitude “

This one also merits a post of its own.

A friend visiting me at home told me about a friend (of hers) who was sadly very ill with cancer.

My friend has know me for over 30 years – therefore has known me before CFS and all the time I have had it. And she knows that I regularly struggle with doing some physical things.
Like housework and cleaning for instance.
Which can often defeat me (and cause me to stress over it). Or I actually manage to do some – but often pay the price afterwards with a bad relapse or “crash” and may need a day or so in bed to recover. Or at best a long rest – and waste half a day while energy is restored.

When my energy is very limited I often have to choose between essentials. Therefore things like managing to have food in the house, and make meals just has to take a higher priority. Or laundry. Or even personal cleaning/hygiene.
I mean what is the point of a clean house if I am a mess myself, with no clean clothes to wear ? And hair an unwashed straggly mess.
And food – well it’s an essential for life. We cannot do without it.
Also my work – which can quickly spiral out of control when I fail to keep on top of it. And is a constant challenge for me.

But a dust-free room, clean kitchen floor, hoovered carpets etc – just cannot be as high up the priority list when you have to choose. Everybody would agree with that – surely ?

All these things my friend knows – as I have explained over and over throughout the years.
So although I tried not to – I couldn’t help but feel upset at her comment. As it kind of implied that if only I was to change my attitude in some way then I too could have a lovely clean house !

With regard to her friend who was managing to maintain a spotless house despite her awful health predicament – I had to admit I was curious.
I was imaging some sort of mind over matter positive thinking. You know the sort of thing you read about where a person somehow manages to summon up a huge amount of mental energy and can make themselves do amazing things.  Like walk over red-hot coals in bare feet.

Finally I just had to blurt out “but how does she do it ?”
The answer was not what I expected.
It was : She pays her sister to clean her house for her.

Now there is absolutely nothing at all wrong with this as it was obviously an arrangement that suited both of them.  And if I had the money to spare then I would have a cleaner too for sure. But the way that my friend was quoting it to me as an example of “positive thinking” . . .

I think maybe because of the look on my face my friend went on to explain further that the sister  “hadn’t done very well for herself in life” and that her ill friend was actually helping her out by letting her clean her house and paying her for it.

For once I was left speechless . . . .

Footnote :

I decided to add this incase I have caused any offence or distress to any cancer sufferers out there with this post ? As this was totally not my intention.  The employment of a cleaner is something to be recommended 100% if you have the spare funds to pay for it.  The point of my post was the comment made by my friend – and wasn’t meant to sound critical of the person with the cancer in any way at all.

This Week So Far

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It has been quite a difficult week so far – and now Thurs morning.

Am doing my best to keep dealing with my Property stuff and keep everything afloat. Its such a battle some days – most days actually. But its almost impossible to get a decent rest from it to help my CFS.  Because if I take time off – the work backlog increases. And I can miss certain deadlines for things that need to be done. This then may cause a financial loss or penalty of some sort – which then gives me more work.

And what does this result in ?
More stress = worse CFS symptoms.

Anyway – I just want to have a wee moan about it here. As it saves me inflicting my moans and tales of woe on friends face to face who are kind of trapped into listening at times.

Yesterday was a typical rubbish day.

Was in bed exhausted all morning and afternoon.
This was following a bout of hoovering the day before (Tues). Well not much of a “bout” – just the living room. Plus I used my Turbo Tiger (a hand-held vacuum cleaner – not a sex toy I should add . . ! ) to vacuum the sofas. But it was very hard work.

I knew this would take it out of me but it just had to be done. I have 2 visiting pussy cats who have been in a lot recently – they are gorgeous. But the build-up of fur was making me very sniffy and sneezy. I love cats but this is one of the reasons I don’t have any of my own.  But I like to have a visiting cat – in this case 2.

In the past my husband would have done any hovering needed. But we have been living apart since Jan this year. (Which is another story.)

Anyway – I didn’t manage to do any work until the evening. And rather pathetically this consisted of just 2 emails . . .

I won’t go into much detail as it really is very boring.
But just to say it concerned a flat with a recurring damp problem, a letting agent who I thought were helping me to get this sorted but have just dumped it back onto me, and a local Council (who are also factors for the building) who do F**k all when it comes to vital communal repairs to things like drains, gutters etc. No matter how many times you ask them. And a tenant who is now leaving – as nobody can get this sorted.

Probably because of the history with this – I started to feel ill very quickly when trying to think out the wording of the emails. I was trying to stay focused but kept thinking about the general imcompetence and unhelpfulness of the Council and was feeling angry and frustrated by it all. Plus the letting agent who should be helping me were now increasing my problems (another story . . ).
As well as the horrible tiredness/weakness – I got a nasty headache very fast, plus stiff neck, sore shoulder and upper back. My concentration became poor very fast and I was losing track of my thoughts and struggling to focus on what I was doing.
A simple thing will take me ages when feeling like this.

Anyway I pushed on to get the emails done – and it took me 2 hours. Even with the slightly complex history – it should take maybe 20-30 mins tops.
No wonder I have a backlog.

And by the end of this my headache was so bad I had to go and lie down (again) with the light off in darkness. And take painkillers obviously. My eyes were so tired and strained too. I couldn’t even tolerate any light.

Eventually got up again and had something to eat. Then back to bed for the night.
But didn’t even manage to do any “normal” things – like get even washed and dressed.

But I will get there . . .

Things People Say (just don’t do it)

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” If you‘re too tired you just don’t do it – it doesn’t sound like rocket science “

This was a rather impatient comment from a friend.
I was trying to explain to her how difficult it can be to do or complete things with CFS. Not because I wanted to bore her or to get sympathy. I just wanted her to understand why I can’t always manage to do things at times, or need to stop for rests. And crucially why I have often had to cancel arrangements with her after doing too much the day before.

But she couldn’t get this – and I was trying to explain how it is often impossible to tell in advance with CFS what is “too much” until after. Sometimes hours later or more often the next day. Either way too late. And how CFS fluctuates so much therefore can make it very hard (if not impossible) to tell what is going to be “too much” on any particular day.

But I got the impression she was bored and impatient. Hence this comment.
Re the “you just don’t do it . . . “ – gosh, where do I start !

I mean how do you “just not do it” when :

a) In middle of trying to cook dinner : do you just leave it to burn and go to lie down ? Or remove from heat and abandon it half-cooked to just throw out later ? Or are you more likely to push yourself on to try to finish it ? (So you have something to eat !)

b) Driving on a busy road or even motorway – you can’t normally just stop when you feel yourself getting weak . Usually have to keep going on for a bit at least. I mean you want to try to get home.

c) In middle of having a shower : do you just turn off the water and get out to rest maybe half-washed with shampoo still in hair ? Or do you keep under the running water but just stand and rest arms etc for a while ? In which case the water will probably run cold (as not an electric shower).

d) In the middle of a long difficult phone call perhaps with an Indian call-centre : do you just terminate the call mid-conversation and hang up ? Knowing that you will still have to make that call and start all over again. Or do you push on to attempt to complete the issue you have called about ?

e) When an online grocery shopping is delivered : if too tired/weak to put it away – do you just leave it all out in the kitchen ? In which case the frozen stuff will defrost and the fresh stuff may go off if its a hot day. Or do you try to push on to get it all packed away even though energy is poor ?

These are just a tiny amount of examples of day to day difficulties. I can only do my best – but do often end up with that energy “crash” a few hours later or next day. It just isn’t easy – even after all the years I have had CFS.
I just sometimes wish that people would be a bit more patient and try to understand.

Things People Say (no legs comment)

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“In my day you didn’t stay off your work unless you had no legs ”.

This was a comment made by a close relative of my husband’s. It was made loudly in front me, but to another person – a neighbour if I remember right. But I tend to think it was for my benefit . . . as I was the only person in the room who was off work.
Actually the exact comment was something like : “unless you had both legs amputated” , or “unless you had broken both legs” – but you get the gist of it.
At the time I was working with Ntl but was off sick. Just to add – I only got paid “sick pay” for 2 months (full pay) and 2 months (half pay). If I had managed to hold on for 1 more month before caving in and having to go off sick, my entitlement would have been better as it improved with each year employed with the company. But “holding on” anymore just wasn‘t possible. I had got to the stage where I couldn’t hold on any more.
No choice.

This type of comment makes me upset for many reasons :

a) All the years I had spent working full-time (approx 21yrs)
b) All the studying over the years while working full time. (approx 6yrs) To get professional qualifications in insurance and financial advice & compliance work. I had been keen to learn and get on.
c) All the years I had worked in various 2nd jobs (pub jobs) at night to save up. (maybe 3 or 4 yrs)  For 3 or even 4 nights a week on top of my full-time job.

This comment implied that I was some sort of sciver and work-shy. And maybe happy to be at home while being paid ? (even though I either wasn’t paid much – or nothing at all if sick pay had ceased at the time).

It funny but this must be from around 2002/2003 – and I’m still trying to defend myself after all these years. After 10 years. It just shows how this sort of thing really takes root in your memory.

A Small World

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Right now I feel as though my world consists of 2 rooms upstairs in my home – ie. my bedroom and my office (which is in the next bedroom). And my day to day life is just : work – exhausted/CFS worse – then sleep.
Then more of the same.
But at least I do have the luxury of working from home and for myself. Which is just as well as some days I work very badly or slowly. And some days I don’t manage at all. But thats nothing unusual with CFS – it just wouldn’t be much good to an employer !
The biggest problem I have right now is when I try to have a decent break to allow my CFS to get a bit better – all the work problems escalate. (I always have a backlog as its hard to get on top of things.)  After a few days off I will feel rested and stronger – but then have to face problems that have resulted from me missing things that maybe had to be done by a certain time. And with it being property – almost everything has a financial penalty or cost of some sort. This then causes more work and problems . . .  and a lot of stress.
An awful lot of stress !
So I seem to be in a vicious circle which is hard to get out of.
But I have to keep going – no other option. I did choose to get into property because I have CFS. (Realise that will sound odd and will explain more in another post).
I never expected it to be easy or a short-term thing. But right now it is quite a struggle.
Its difficult to get any balance in my life – like doing nice things eg. actually seeing people, friends, actually getting out of the house. Even just watching TV or reading would be nice !
I seem to be cancelling things more – or just not making any arrangements in the first place, as I know there will be a high risk I will have to cancel if not well on the day.                                                                                                                       So its not easy at the moment – but I will get there.

NB. I’m not looking for sympathy here – I just want people who know me to understand. Because I don’t think very many people do ?

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