Tag Archives: depression

Rage Against The Lesion

Lesions, eh?

Little white sinister blobs on our MRI’s, causing untold relapses and despair.

I had a spectacular first ‘proper’ relapse eight years ago and nothing – absolutely nothing – could prepare me for it.

A day trip; a long-planned stroll around shops, and a coffee with a dollop of cream on top with a generous slice of cake in Ye Olde Tea Shoppe afterwards.

The Teenager was away on a rare break, and even though I still had a packet of wet wipes and an emergency box of Lego-themed plasters in my handbag, I was … an adult … for the day.

Or so I thought.

It started on the way there. I couldn’t stop yawning and slumped in the passenger seat, answering my friend with a Danish accent.

We parked up, and I meandered the streets, weaving this way and that, feeling completely spaced out. I floated around with numb, unworking feet and arms, disconnected and, if I’m honest, beyond scared. I fell against walls and tripped over my feet.

I finally found the Ye Olde place we’d agreed to meet at and I sat down, terrified. Something was very, very wrong. The language difficulties increased, as did the sensation of not being of this planet (I know, not that unusual for me, but bear with).

Two days later, I was admitted to hospital with an (eventually diagnosed) unusual lesion on the speech part of my brain. I could have gone in earlier and stayed in for days, but The Teenager was due back within hours and that took complete  precedence over anything and everything. Within a year I had highly-active MS and treatment to match.

Fair play, The Teenager, even after all these years, still does a wicked Danish impression of me. I cannot begin to imagine the impression it left on him at such as young age.

So, lesions. Every day I wake up, I know exactly which ones will come forward and play up. Some are here to stay, the frayed cables permanently snapped – the foot drop, the balance. Some flare under fatigue – the language, the garbled speech, the cog fog. Sometimes they all get together and push me on to the sofa where I spend my days watching clouds drift past my window.

The one I hate the most is the sudden darkness and depression. It descends rapidly – I can be happy one moment and then in the pit of utter despair; I would rather speak with a Danish accent the rest of my life than go through it over and over and over again, a vindictive Groundhog Day I cannot escape from.

In short, it’s awful. It happened just two days ago. That sudden darkness. I’ve tried to learn to just relax in to it – I tell myself it will pass and I will be ok, but it’s so hard.

I know it’s MS and I know it’s a lesion. It’s just a blob asking for attention.

So I try to rage against the lesion. I know what’s happening. But it can take all my diminishing strength to see it pass back in to real life again.

But the bonus? I can still do a wicked Scandi-cop impression …

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Catching Me When I’m Falling

depressionHours, days, weeks can go by and I’m absolutely fine.

I have a good life. MS is under control (just about) and no longer scares the living daylights out of me. I sometimes struggle to remember what life was like before it.

So why do I have moments when I plunge into a deep, black depression? Just like MS, there is no way of knowing when it will strike. I can have had the best of days, life is on track and the future is looking a shade more defined than before. Then suddenly the shutters come down, blocking out the light.

This sensation is like a relapse of the mind – a sudden, catastrophic descent into despair. I’m aware it’s happening, just like physical relapses when there is a period of disconnection before the symptoms flare up, snatching control of my body away from me.

I know people with MS are more likely to experience depression, whether due to our circumstances or from our brains playing havoc with our minds. Whatever the explanation, I need to find ways to cope with this. Perhaps it’s been around since MS started but I was unable to distinguish it from the shock of the diagnosis. Now life has reached a happier plateau, maybe I can see it in unsplendid isolation.

When it happens, I want to retreat, hide myself away and wait until it passes. But life gets in the way. I have a Teenager to raise and a house to run. I have a life.

My friends and family are unfortunately becoming used to helping me pick up the pieces. They catch me and hold onto me so I don’t fall any further. They don’t try to cheer me up or tell me how much worse it could have been. They are simply there for me.

If I knew how to fix this, I would. It’s an unwelcome visitor in the new life I’m constructing for me and my little family. It lifts as suddenly as it comes. Colours burst through once more and life is shiny, exciting and vibrant again.

I am trying. I can’t retreat, but I can sit out the storm.

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Good Grief

Cardiff-20131102-00293I think I’ve finally come to terms with having MS in my life.

It’s been a long grieving process, a period of mourning what I have lost and what will never be.

But through this grief, I’m now more aware of what is good in my life, and I’ve discovered previously-untapped inner strength. So how well did I manage the classic five stages of grief?

Denial – This. Cannot. Be. Happening. I spent a long time with this thought, lying awake night after night, gripped by an unfathomable darkness, terrified of stepping into the unknown. It was an unreal situation and I blundered through it, denial far easier than facing up to very real fears.

Anger – I had this in bucketloads, plus an unhealthy dollop of self-pity. I was angry beyond belief. Just when my life was opening up again and long-awaited opportunities were within my reach, they were going to be snatched away? Seriously?

Bargaining – I didn’t really spend any time at this stage. I knew deep down that there would be no bargaining. Rather than try to exercise more or incorporate a healthier diet in an attempt to avoid the inevitable, I veered off in the opposite direction, thinking, ‘what does it matter, the damage is already done’. I self-medicated with chocolate, wine and comfort food.

Depression – This was the longest, most soul-destroying stage. I withdrew from the world, helped along by my symptoms speeding up the process. Home became my sanctuary and my prison in equal measure. Life was interminably bleak, the days long and dark, the nights longer. And darker.

Acceptance – After the awful depression, I had a choice. Either to go under or create a new way of living. I was fed up waking up every day under a cloud of misery. Rather than focus on what was lost, I looked at what I could do. What had this whole process taught me? After facing a vortex of fear and terror, the only way to look was up. The alternative was unthinkable.

Grieving allowed me to survive this change in my life and come out more positive and stronger within myself. Change comes in many guises, mine just happened to be MS. It shook my life to its foundations, but the resulting re-building is more secure and solid than before.

And the best thing? I had overwhelming support support from you, through this blog. Thank you.

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Cast Adrift

This is not shaping up to be the best week. I called the office for some feedback for the work I had done from home and had emailed over to them. The telephone call lasted 53 seconds. Great.

I have two months grace from being dismissed from my job for having MS. I still need to be able to contact the office. I hate working from home. I liked getting up in the morning, having my coffee, getting ready for work. Leaving the house.

I have been cast adrift and I am not enjoying it. Routine has disappeared. Coffees, once gulped down at the same time as doing my mascara, now take far longer. I sit in my dressing gown watching the news. 8.30am passes me by, the time I would normally be in the office.

I am sinking into lethargy. I am stressed. All my MS symptoms are coming back. My feet buzz and tingle incessantly, my left arm doesn’t work properly and I am unbalanced on my feet. I just want to go back to bed and pull the duvet over my head. I drove past my old workplace today. and I was so close to stopping the car, pressing the buzzer and yelling at them. How can they treat me like this? Why are they doing this to me?

In desperation, I went to my sister’s kiddy Hallowe’en party, just to get out the house. It was great to be surrounded by miniature Frankensteins, witches and Harry Potter’s. There was nothing else on their minds except grabbing the largest slice of pizza or getting the highest score on the Wii.

I need to get back into the swing of things. I need to maintain a routine. I don’t want to sink, but a big part of me thinks it would be far easier to give into it.

So, if you’re passing, knock my door and take me out. Anywhere, just out.



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