Depression, Anxiety and Counselling

As well as taking anti-depressants, I also have been seeing a counsellor.  My first appointment was all about what brought me to her door in the first place.  At the beginning of the second appointment I was pretty agitated and I said that I thought she was going to tell me that wasn’t as good a daughter to my father as I am to my mother.  We skimmed over my issues because she wanted information about my background and I went into detail about my childhood.  So far so good.  Nothing particularly controversial. After both appointments I was reasonably relaxed.

 The nice thing about the second appointment was that afterwards I remembered my parents are two different people and of course our relationships would differ.  Although we didn’t go into the reasons why I’m feeling so insecure, I felt happier.

 The third appointment started to deal with the meat of the matter.   I hope you can respect me when I say it was a good appointment and we can leave it at that.  There are some things I cannot tell you.

 I’m working hard to feel better.



Anxiety is a strange thing.  It’s more than just a worry about passing your exams.  Worries,  like some fears, are healthy – worries remind you to do things in good time so that you’re prepared.  Anxiety is different.  It’s a shadow that looms over your every move.  It saps your confidence.  It haunts you day and night.  It can leave you unable to perform the simplest of tasks.  You know, I could easily succumb to agoraphobia.  Even now, parts of me would love to stay at home and never emerge.  However, in forcing myself to get out, I am keeping my confidence up and the anxiety is being kept at bay.

I am managing to get to work on time and am doing all the usual tasks.  I will admit that I find myself going over certain things (emails to clients for example) over and over again before I have the courage to complete it.  However, I am doing it and I have to focus on the little achievements sometimes: I am getting the job done and it’s taking all my strength to do it.  I should be given a medal.  I think one of those London 2012 Gold Medals would suffice.

Life goes on.  At work I’m managing to do my job.  I’m involved on a couple of committees where I have to organise and attend meetings.  The more I do at the office, the more comfortable I am with being there.  However, I do still fret when it comes to doing things outside my normal routine.  When it snows I find myself panicking about being able to get to/from work.  I have to keep reminding myself that I can only do what I can do.  Luckily I’m only 4 miles from home so if the trains stop running altogether one afternoon (which is unlikely) I can walk home and complain like mad the next morning.

So I’m getting by with a lot of effort.


Anti-Depressants and Counselling


I’m now taking 20mg Citalopram every evening.  I’m feeling better than I did but still not myself.  I’m finding anxiety to be difficult.    The trouble with living in England is that the country grinds to a halt after the first few flakes hit the ground.  Monday evening I was due to see Les Miserables with my husband and my film club.  That morning it snowed and I found myself struggling.  I had a hard time breathing.  My palms were sweaty.  My heart was pounding.  Once again, it was another out of control moment.  I struggle with things that are out of the ordinary.  I was unsure if we would be able to get home safely if we went to the movie.

Luckily that afternoon the snow turned to rain and I felt a bit more confident about being able to get home after the film.  I calmed down and saw the film.  Good film too.  I’d recommend it.  It probably wasn’t the right thing to watch if I’m feeling down but it was an epic and I appreciated it.   I enjoyed it.  I don’t normally like musicals.

Otherwise, I’m starting to find going to work a bit more natural.  I’m walking to the train station and home – which is about 30 minutes each way a day.  I generally get a bit of sweat out during my exercise.  Every morning I take lots of photographs to take advantage of the early morning light.  I really enjoy taking photographs.  I try and look at things from different perspectives.


I’ve had two counselling sessions.   One a week ago and one yesterday.  During the first we talked about what brought me to counselling and how I feel.  I told her about Dad’s birthday and how I’ve been feeling since then.  I told her that I was determined to feel better.  Oh sure I had a problem with depression after my divorce, a depression that realistically took me years to get over.  I am NOT going to struggle for that long with depression ever again.  I made an appointment for the following week.

Between appointments I was thinking about the relationship I have with my mom and the relationship I had with my dad.  By comparison, I think I’m a better daughter to my mom than I was to my dad.   However, the counsellor wanted to know some of my history.  It took me all of my appointment to get my life story through to when I arrived in England.  My parents divorced when I was 4.  My dad got remarried and redivorced when I was 6 and 8 respectively.  My sister was born when I was 12.  I talked about my friends in junior high and high school.  I talked about my decision at university to leave elementary education for European History and French.

After my session and going through my childhood, it felt good to remember that my parents were two very different people and that I ought not compare my relationship with my dad to my relationship with my mom: I communicated in a very masculine way with Dad and I have to remember that I owe him a lot for teaching me how to appreciate men for who they are and how they communicate.

Today I had a terrible throat so I stayed at home.  I’m grateful I did because it started snowing at about 10am.  If I had been at work I’m sure I would have panicked about being able to get home.  What a relief to be at home and admire the snow with no where to go!

I’m getting better slowly.  It’s a process.


Depression and Anxiety

My first week back to work has been more full of anxiety than I’d care to admit.  Who would have thought that three days at work would leave me shaking and ceaselessly wringing my hands?  I needed a follow-up with the GP to get more anti-depressants and got an appointment on Friday morning.  While there, I was given a repeat prescription and a phone number for a counsellor.  I had thought that I might get counselling through the NHS but the number I was given was for a service that charges an astonishing half-price for January of £99.  (!)

Of course I started to wonder what a counsellor might actually do for me and if I really needed the help.  My depression/anxiety started on the occasion of my deceased father’s birthday in November.  Am I still wrestling with the idea that I was a terrible daughter to him?  Yes.  I still feel guilty that I wasn’t there for him.  I missed my own father’s funeral.  While I did what I could at the time to mourn, but the guilt is there too.  I wasn’t there.  I feel I was never there.  Not for him, nor any of my American family.  It’s a constant and dark guilt that became sharp when my father died.  I had missed the opportunity to tell him how much I love being his daughter.

Not long after Dad died I had a dream.  I was in Dad’s house.  Helios was there, wearing a light blue and white bathrobe.  He walked from one room to another.  Then, I walked down the hall to the kitchen where Dad was holding a miniature version of me.  Dad was young, had a full head of hair and no sign of his Parkinsons Tremour.  He tickled the pint-sized girl under the chin the way he used to with me.  He pointedly looked at me and then to the child and then back at me.  He stood the girl on the chair and pointed at her and me as if to say “Look!  It’s you!”  It was as if we were unable to speak to one another – I wanted to say “I understand”;  I wanted to say “I miss you”.  At the time I took the dream as a sign that Dad had forgiven me and he still loved me.

I think what really set me off wasn’t just Dad’s birthday but the fact that a friend at work was unable to go to her grandmother’s funeral in Ghana.  The two events made me feel the full press of grief all over again.  Bearing this in mind, before I ask for counselling, I’ll speak to my friend and hear her story.  Perhaps after I speak to her I’ll feel a bit more positive about being able to leave the flat, go to work and feel a bit more like myself again?

Of course there may be other reasons why I am feeling the way I’m feeling but this is my most obvious starting point.  In the meantime, I’ve looked at more local counsellors and have  been recommended to speak to someone who only charges £20 per hour.


Christmas Break

We had quite a journey to the West Country between Christmas and New Year.  I thought it would be a good idea to take the train – a more relaxing way to travel.  We got there in the end but public transport doesn’t always go to plan.  Our transfer at Reading Station took a lot longer than we’d anticipated and we spent nearly two hours standing in the cold awaiting our next train.  Luckily for us, we hopped on and found a seat where we could – in first class – and stayed there.

Our journey in first class ended at Tiverton Parkway where we took a bus replacement service to Exeter because there was flooding on the rails between Tiverton and Exeter.  Ultimately our journey that should have taken about 4½ hours took nearly 6½.  Understandably, we were pretty tired when we arrived.

My mother in law had a pizza on hand for us together with a wide variety of cakes, sweets, drinks and other food that we may or may not like.  I was reminded of visiting with my mom – who stocks up with enough provisions to feed the Romanian Army when we come to visit!

The next morning we awoke and got ready to see my father in law.  We have to time our visits well because he tends to be easily distracted and has been known to forget to eat.  We were told that the best time to go is 11am.  Thanks to my time with my dad, I feel I have an idea of what to look for in a nursing home.  It’s set in what could be a manor house.  There is a large dining room to the right just inside the front door.  To the left, a few comfy chairs where my father in law was sitting.  It seemed a clean and bright place where the staff smiled when they saw us.

My father in law beamed with a smile when he saw Helios.  It’s clear that he recognised him but was unable to put a name to his face straightaway.  He got my name right though and we were thinking that there is probably a reasonable explanation: he has only known me as an adult whereas he’s known Helios all his life and may be trying to match the mental pictures he has of a child to the adult standing before him.  My father in law was on good form as he was hoisted from his chair and wheeled to the dining room where we could have a visit in private.  While the move was being undertaken, Helios went to his dad’s room.   In the meantime, I sat with my father in law and listened to how much he liked the place and how nice it was festooned with festive paraphernalia.  He loved the attention and I was pleased to be there.

Later that afternoon we met Apollo, Helios’s son.  He’s a lovely kid and I just adore him.  I made sure to tell him how much my mom appreciates him looking in on her every so often.

The next day we visited my father in law again.  I found this visit to be harder because he looks so frail and, as we were going, I couldn’t stop myself thinking: “I may not see you again in this life.”  It’s hard not to adore such a kind-hearted and positive individual.  I fought  back the tears as we were leaving.

That afternoon – perhaps to take our minds off how ill my father  in law is – my mother in law has arranged to see a number of her family at the Conservative Club in town.  Uncle R met us at the flat and walked with us to the Club.  Lucky thing he did, one of the door handles fell apart in Helios’s hand so Uncle R fixed it (with a bit of tin foil in the end) and we were off.

One of the things I love about blokes in families is the lively banter they affectionately give one another.  The teasing can be relentless but it’s never malicious and, I think, is a replacement for the more obvious affection that women give one another.  Well, Helios was being teased something chronic that afternoon but he gave as good as he got.  I couldn’t stop chuckling.  So when they started playing darts, we ladies joined in and had a great time.

That evening we had a Chinese delivered and enjoyed a quiet evening with my mother in law.  It’s unusual for us to spend so much time with her because her flat is too small to comfortably sleep four people.  With her husband in the nursing home, I think she was glad to have company, if only for a couple of days.

The next morning we went to the train station and started our epic journey home.  Luckily the flooding had subsided and the rails repaired so we didn’t have the problem of taking a bus-replacement service near Exeter.  Our connecting trains were all on time and we arrived home in the early evening.  Good thing we had New Years to get ourselves prepared for more work and daily routine.

I hope you had a peaceful Christmas and New Year.


Goodbye 2012

Well friends, I cannot let the end of 2012 pass without pondering how it all went.  I have to say, 2012 was a long year.  At the beginning of 2012 I was still rather bloated and in a lot of pain.  I had a laparoscopic surgery in March where I expected endometriosis to be found and cleared.  Unfortunately, a new malady was found and, where possible, cleared.  Fibroids were the cause of my period pain this time.  For treatment I had two choices: I could live with it or I could have a hysterectomy.  It took a couple of weeks to come to a decision but, as soon as I had another period, I knew I had to have a hysterectomy.  I was at wits end and needed to wait three months for relief.

Meanwhile, during my recovery from my first surgery of 2012, I organised to go to the US using the money my father left me.  Emotionally, it was an intense trip.  It’s so hard to do and see and say everything that I want to within just a few days.  Having said that, I had a wonderful time and wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Thanks Dad.

In June we celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  I didn’t go to London but I did enjoy all the festivities from the comfort of my own sofa.  Brits don’t normally make a big deal about patriotism but, on this occasion, it was an astounding success.  It made me proud to call England home.

Shortly after the Jubilee, my sister and her boyfriend came to visit.  What a wonderful time we had!  England, despite periodic rain, has rarely looked so lovely.  I did my best to keep up with her but, I’m sorry to say, she has more energy in her little finger than I have in my entire body.

The London Olympics and Paralympics was an amazing experience.  I saw the Olympic Torch go by in person.  My husband and I went to see the Men’s Road Race event in person – because 1) it was reasonably close, 2) we didn’t need tickets and 3) we could say that we were there.  I absolutely loved the whole atmosphere of the country during the Olympics.

The wait continued for my hysterectomy.  Rarely has a mere 3 months felt more like 6 years!  In some ways, the wait was a good thing as I was able to do a number of things to lessen my recovery time overall.  By the time my date arrived I felt fat, bloated and uncomfortable.  I will never forget the sensation of constantly needing the loo –  my uterus was so full of fibroids it was pushing on my bladder and bowel.  They removed 2 kgs of material in my surgery – so I’m not surprised that I was uncomfortable beforehand!  My time in hospital passed without serious incident.   Afterwards I had a nasty stomach bug – which did nothing to shorten my recovery time!  However, the rest of my recovery time passed without incident.

Coming  back to a normal routine and finally feeling better has proved to be more of a struggle than I’d hoped.  After my dad’s birthday this year I’ve had problems with depression.  I think, after all the struggles I’ve had – not to mention two surgeries in the space of just a few months – my body may just be recovering from the various traumas in its own way.  You know how it goes when you’ve been really stressed for a few months and then, as soon as you get the chance to relax, you come down with a cold?  I think my depression may just  be the same sort of thing.  I’ll feel better overall once I get over my “cold”.

Let’s hope that everyone has a happier, healthier 2013!

Happy New Year



Normally Helios and I stay at home over the Holidays and relax.  However, Helios and I are planning to go to his hometown on 27th December to see his family.  His father is dreadfully ill.  After several months of him going downhill and going in and out of hospital, and his mom trying to cope with him when he’s out of hospital, he’s finally gone into a nursing home.  His mom sounds a lot more like herself on the phone and his dad is getting the attention he needs.  It has been a struggle since his dad has had a number of infections and is now unable to walk at all.  I think his dad is still losing weight.  Anyway, I am bracing myself for the worst.  We will be coming home the afternoon of 30th after spending the morning with his mom on her birthday.  I’ve decided we can take the train for the journey – it will be more expensive than driving but I figure Helios and I can focus our attention on one another for the trips (4 hours each way) or read and relax.  I just want to be there for him, you know what I mean?