Sunday, 3 April 2011

Nothing to achieve and nowhere to go

I was always a very positive person – your quintessential optimist. I approached my MSDX (I think that’s short for Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis – educational isn’t this?!) with my normal, good natured acceptance. Doctors kept saying to me ‘this is serious’ with some disbelief at my calm reaction.

I told friends and family ‘I don’t want anyone weeping and wailing. At least, not in front of me.’ This may have been selfish but at the time of diagnosis I don’t think I could have dealt with their emotions. I did cry. Late at sleepless night in the hospital. Then at any time of day and night. I called it water running down my face. It wasn’t like crying. The tears would just fall – no sobbing, no sound, no real connection to emotion.

It took a long time for me to accept I was depressed. At first I thought I was sad, down, understandably so.  My father had died the year before, my mother three years before that, I had just been diagnosed with a major life-long neurological condition. I think I had good reason to be sad. I didn’t want to be depressed.

At my first appointment with one of the consultant neurologists, she told me I had the capacity to be clinically depressed. My best friend, who was at the consultation with me, and I dismissed this as ridiculous, it was completely out of character.

But eventually I had to tell my GP that I was not coping. When I say eventually, it was actually just a few months after dx. I was referred to the practice’s clinical psychologist. In turn, I was referred to a counsellor. My wonderful MS Specialist Nurse referred me to the hospital’s Clinical Neuropsychologist who enrolled me on his mindfulness based stress reduction course.

Just a year after dx I started the 8 week course. Most of the practice was based on meditation and, of course, on mindfulness. It was interesting. Some of it felt irrelevant – coping with family, children, spouse, work stress (external stress factors don’t really figure on my radar). Some of it I continue to use – 3 minute breathing space, guided yoga meditation. ‘This is how it is’ comes from the mindfulness awareness course.

‘Nothing to achieve and nowhere to go’ comes from the guided meditations. With this blog, I have nothing to achieve and nowhere to go. Except I do. This blog is an achievement in itself. I am glad to be writing. There may be no destination for now but on any journey there can be many places to visit. I’m seeing where this one takes me.

PS I am not depressed. I completed the course. Life carried on much the same. Then at a MS nurse led clinic consultation, my fabulous specialist nurse suggested that I would benefit from going onto antidepressants. I admitted I was depressed. I started on Citalopram. I became myself again.

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