I am not sure there are many people who would say that they feel fortunate to have had depressive episodes in their life: particularly, when the last one, four and a half years ago, led to being Sectioned and incarcerated in a Mental Health Unit. However, I can genuinely say I am glad I have had such an experience along with a diagnosis of ‘a chemical imbalance needing medication for the rest of my life’.
Things have to become pretty bad when you have suicidal thoughts that you act upon. Taking 90 paracetamol is pretty drastic action and you need to be lucky to get away without any long term consequences: that is down to the prompt action of Maureen. I was also fortunate the side effects of the prescribed solution ‘mirtazapine’ made me feel worse. That encouraged me to think about what had happened and where my suicidal feelings had come from. This morning I have an appointment with Paul Martin who helped me to put my depressive episodes into perspective.
Paul along with many others sees depression as a response to environment. He helped me to see that it was my environment that was the problem: not a chemical imbalance. His thinking is supported by the likes of Irving Kirsch and Peter Kinderman . In fact Irving has proved that antidepressants are little better than a placebo for treating mild to moderate depression. Peter has argued long and hard for a new way of treating depression; with talking therapy the solution rather than medication.
My appointment with Paul this morning could not have come at a better time; as once again my environment has the capacity to impact upon my mental well-being. The pressures of being a Care Partner are well documented: they are life shortening. Yesterday Maureen articulated once again her disappointment about being left with carers while I went out on my own. Maureen’s reactions are par for the course as empathy goes out of the window with dementia progresses. If I respond to her feelings of desertion I compromise plans to help me develop a life of my own. I could easily put off returning to Buddhist Meditation Classes tonight or even delay my long awaited day trip to see family in Coventry on Monday.
It is fortunate that Paul’s initial training was as a Mental Health Nurse often working with patients diagnosed with dementia.. He understands my dilemma of attempting to have a life of my own alongside being a Care Partner for someone who lacks any semblance of empathy.. None of this is anything to get depressed about: the issue is once again is how to respond to challenges in my environment.
One of my initial conversations with Paul this morning will be about sleep, as I’m really struggling to drop off when I’ve been woken in the night. Maureen was up and about three times last night. Getting back to sleep after easing her distress is becoming increasingly difficult. As always Paul will have something up his sleeve to help me on this front. I just hope his solutions bring to an end sleep deprivation and consequent exhaustion: I’m well aware of the dangers if my sleep deficit continues.
I’m also aware that dementia and lack of empathy go hand in hand. Pandering to Maureen’s fears of desertion will not help: they are part and parcel of the condition.