Firstly, I apologise in advance, as this is likely to be a long and rambly post, and not a hugely positive one. Sometimes it's just hard to be positive about a chronic illness.
The truth is, I haven't been feeling anywhere close to positive for some time. I have had so many kicks when I'm down for the last year in particular. Every time I thought I had taken a step forward, along came something to kick me back by 3 or 4 steps. It's been really hard to deal with.
A couple of years ago I had some CBT and relaxation therapy, which was not perfect for me by any means, but I did take some useful stuff away from it. So when things have seemed dark, I've employed those and been able to lift myself back up.
Around the time I found out that nobody was helping with my back, that my feet were effectively useless, and that my goal of going to RNOH in Stanmore was temporarily (still is!) blocked off, I felt like a huge, heavy black blanket had draped itself over my head and shoulders, and no matter what I did, I couldn't lift it. None of my CBT techniques were working. So it was a case of putting on a brave face (a mask, I guess) when I was around others, making everything look fine. Inside, I was in total limbo. The world was rotating around me but I was stood dead still in the middle, locked in with my feelings which I just couldn't get rid of.
Christmas and New Year came, which lifted me a bit. All too soon they were gone though, and then I hurt my hand. That seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back, and I realised that I couldn't keep on like I was. I have to stress that at no point have I ever felt suicidal, or like I was going to self harm. I just feel like a big useless lump who feels indescribably guilty about how my life impacts on those around me. Some words intended to be nothing more than a simple statement have really hit my self esteem hard, and the blunt truth is, I truly hate myself right now.
I went to see my GP, who is a lovely lovely man, and told him everything. He had asked me on previous appointments how I was doing, and I had pretended everything was fine. It clearly wasn't, so he wasn't surprised when I finally admitted it - he said he had seen it for himself. So maybe my mask wasn't as good as I thought it was after all.
He has put me onto Fluoxetine (aka Prozac), and I have a diagnosis of severe depression. On the 14th Feb we will be reviewing how I am, and looking at a referral to speak to someone who specializes in depression caused by chronic pain. When I spoke to my physio yesterday, she told me she knew of a brilliant guy based at the hospital, and she was going to liaise with my GP about referring me to him. (Something positive, finally!)
I wanted to post this to try and give me somewhere to write it down and get it out there. I don't have to hide it anymore, and with the help of my LBLC ladies, I have realised that it isn't something to be ashamed of. I am not going to say I feel instantly better, because I don't. I know full well this isn't going to be a short term thing. But I know that there are things and people there to help me. So I'm taking my first step down my own zebra brick road, and who knows where it will lead.