I’ve not written much lately. This is partly for a number of reasons. Firstly, I want to slow down my input with regards to this blog. Secondly, I’ve been away and finally I just feel so tired all of the time.
In fact, it has become such a major part of my daily living I’m wondering if I can include it on my CV as an occupation or a hobby. When tiredness hits it’s all I can think about. Nothing can get me to focus on anything else. I become tired and that is who I am, a man who is tired and needs sleep.
No crazy routines
I’m not following any crazy schedules or working late shifts anymore. I’m making a conscious effort to eat better. But I now find I could fall asleep should the opportunity arise. I wake at a normal hour of the morning then find myself dropping off to sleep again after a short while.
I am aware that coffee and sweet foods can have an impact upon my sleeping patterns. However, I have now cut out sugar from my drinks and I have reduced my coffee intake to about two cups a day.
Of course, you are aware that I have recently come out of a stressful situation but there are other stresses still going on (that I will talk about another time). But nothing much has changed. I do feel better about myself but this is undoubtedly due to the medication and the coming to the end of my counselling.
I recently had a blood test for something unrelated and nothing was highlighted. I’ve had no change in my medication. So, what on earth is going on?
Is there a connection?
I spoke to a medical friend about this and she drew an interesting comparison. She suggested that the psychological stresses that I had experienced – including the acquittal at court, may now be having a physical output. I am aware that I have been very near to breaking point and only kept it together because of support. But my physical health has clearly been side-lined.
I’m getting more than the minimum requirements of sleep. I find that I’m getting between 8-10 hours a night then at least a few hours during the day.
Recently, I have suffered with back pains and the odd leg cramps. My belly has returned and my skin does not look as clear as it used to. So a lot of what was said makes sense. But I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve had time away and I’m getting back into reading again (of which I have always enjoyed).
Simple on-line research
Following some simple research, I discovered that physical tiredness also brings about the following:
Feeling drained mentally and physically – Literally everything involves an effort. As stated I could drop off to sleep whenever I get the opportunity.
Inability to bounce back – This has been the case for a while now. I have previously written that I have no emotions whatsoever. This has still not changed. I’m not saying I am emotionally void, it’s just that I see a little more perspective on things and so don’t get so involved in things anymore.
Headaches – These come and go but nothing blindingly bad.
Joint pain – I have had horrendous back pain for nearly a week now. I have no idea what has caused it but it has been slow to disappear.
Depression – Goes without saying.
Poor short-term memory – I often have difficulty recalling what I had to eat yesterday but I could tell you in great detail events that happened years ago.
Weight gain – My belly has come back. I worked hard to lose it a while ago but there it is, it’s back.
Now, I know I’m not being a hypochondriac and hope that this will just go away, but following recent events I don’t want to see my GP again. I’m sure she must be fed up of me by now.
Anxiety is a good thing. It stops you from heading into dangerous or unusual situations. It is a normal reaction to things that we dread. For example, as a teenager, I always felt anxiety before entering the exam hall. As an adult, I get anxious everytime I have to have a blood test – I just hate needles. I have known other people become anxious if they spot a spider within close proximity. Everytime I get anxious my mouth goes dry, my breathing increases and I feel light headed. Sometimes I sweat and I can hear my heart racing. But this is normally a short lasting period of panic.
There is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s good and it’s natural.
But what is life like when anxiety takes over everything?
Earth shattering legacy
I have given this some thought today. The only example I can give is that after an earth quake (depression) there is always an after shock (the anxiety). After having my personality shattered I then started to question what I knew or understood. This led to having anxiety about doing normal everyday things that I had previously taken for granted.
My anxiety gave rise to other psychological problems. Such as:
These feelings became a problem when they were too strong to deal with. My anxiety generally made my life difficult and making choices even harder.
Domestic abuse and anxiety
Following research, it has been established that sufferers and survivors of domestic abuse experience increased levels of anxiety. Living in constant stress or fear can indeed create a constant raised level of anxiety.
I always lived in fear of what I would expect to find when I got home from work. The above examples of how I felt (dry mouth, increased heart rate and so on) was often a characteristic of my journey home. However, I could also add the churning feeling inside my stomach. Once home, I would feel anxious about her ever-changing moods and behaviours. This anxiety was a result of living in fear. And this living fear became a habit which increased my anxiety and depression. And so, the constant cycle continued.
Constant high anxiety
When I found that my living conditions were stressful I had no opportunities to off load, other than going to work. I was not allowed out on my own and I had to contact my partner at least three times a day when I was at work (sometimes I had to include a photo so she could see I was in uniform). I had no opportunity to relax or de stress. Also, I couldn’t socialise with friends or family and so had no escape from the captivity I found myself in. What was worse was that a home should be a haven yet it became my prison.
However, what I found once I had left was that the same levels of anxiety still existed. I had learnt that following the lack of support I had received, and the lack of help from the authorities the world is a dangerous place. I felt vulnerable and often experienced nightmares. In effect, the life I had led remained after leaving the environment. Now, I have become accustomed to the feelings of fear and vulnerability even though I was no longer living under that regime.
Further research found that people who are exposed to any form of abuse or persecution, tend to develop extreme social anxiety, or/and stress related illnesses. Sadly they can also develop confusion over their own identities.
Emotionally abused people can experience post-breakup symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
I worked out I had PTSD after taking a walk one afternoon. I heard a song that she used to like and my mind was rushed back to a moment I heard it in the kitchen. This time in the kitchen was when she said she was going to have me killed. Other occasions also cause PTSD such as smells, colours and even types of cars. My mind would associate these ‘items’ with periods of stress and unhappiness. As a result it took me a while to try and do normal things like listen to certain songs. Even shop in certain supermarkets. I no longer visit certain places, not only for the fear of bumping into her but because these places have so much association with the cause of my problems.
Anxiety has left me hesitant although I am able to often hide it well. My anxiety has taught me to be even more suspicious of authority or kind actions by others.
I know that this will be overcome. It has to. I have a lot of support in place and I have created nice, easy personal goals to give me a level of achievements of which to reflect upon. The abuse left a long dark shadow that created, depression, PTSD and anxiety. With enough light and reflection this shadow will recede and I will be able to replicate the person I eventually want to be.
Having now left an abusive relationship I found that struggles began in other areas. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) became a daily (and nightly) problem. For me this didn’t make any sense, here I was now free of any form of abuse -although I was struggling with depression. Yet I was experiencing all manner of ‘flashbacks’. Furthermore, there was no initial trigger or understanding why they were happening. The worst was waking up following a bad dream thinking she was in the room with me.
Having to admit to being a male victim of domestic abuse (especially sexual assault) was extremely difficult. Perhaps these episodes of PTSD was a way of venting this frustration against a world of whom I considered did not care – this was enforced and endorsed by the police who failed to react or support me in my claims.
My experience of PTSD
Enduring any length of abuse whether physical, emotional, sexual or psychological will leave some form of mark. Some domestic violence survivors, like myself, will suffer PTSD. Suffering these emotions does not indicate any form of weakness. I have had to deal with my PTSD which has made me relive my ordeal through flashbacks and nightmares that have interfered with my ability to function normally on a daily basis. This has often left me tired or uninterested in doing daily activities. Further symptoms are listed below
The symptoms of PTSD can include
Intrusive memories of the abuse – this can come following certain songs or smells or even being in certain places at certain times. There are no strict rules to this – it can just happen anywhere at any time.
Loss of interest in other people and the outside world – I found that I isolated myself from friends and was happy to stay indoors.
Following research I found that these symptoms will last for at least a month and can occur either directly after the trauma, or be delayed, beginning six months, a year or 20 years after the abuse has ended.
Everyone recovers at their own pace. As a minimum you should be seeking help and support from your doctor.
I had to move to temporary accommodation and as a result I registered with the local GP there. I must stress that from the outset they were fantastic. She took the time to listen to events and and aftershocks. I was prescribed medication for both my depression and my sleep problems (see my relationship with medication).
My work supplied and paid for counselling sessions. Initially, I was cautious about sharing my thoughts and experiences with a complete stranger but she allowed me to work at my pace.
I wondered if the effects of abuse would ever go away. Yes, I am still jumpy at times and I still experience thoughts following certain triggers but I recognise these now and can prepare myself for this. I have not fully recovered but I sense a certain amount of freedom from PTSD. There was a time when I stayed silent about the abuse but a part of my recovery was to share what happened either with friends or by writing it down (via this blog), medication, counselling and a slow recognition of my own self-worth.
Guilt is a feeling of regret or remorse. It could be a result over what you have or have not done in the past. Shame is thought to result from the feeling of being judged by those around you.
These feelings can be normal. But when it comes to depression, these feelings can become magnified and distorted. In many cases depressive guilt and shame can become toxic and threaten our mental health and well being.
Feelings of guilt for ‘wasting time’
I came across an article today that I wish to share.
The article covers, with great clarity, how it feels to suffer when you don’t want to.
Paragraph of note
A key point she shares is the following;
I already have all these regrets of not doing anything, of thinking about the things I could have accomplished had I not convinced myself it wasn’t worth it and just stayed in bed. The guilt is another physical being that holds me back. I feel bad for not being a “normal” person with a “normal” life. Instead, I just stare at the ceiling as the guilt eats away at me.
My feelings of guilt and shame
I have a mixture of feelings. I felt guilt for allowing the abuse in my relationship to have happened. A feeling of shame that I didn’t stop it or share what was going on with other people. These feelings had left me exhausted and in the early stages I found I was treading water just to keep going.
I’ve found today fairly difficult. Of course, I’m still doing my routine of getting up and taking my pill. Then getting dressed and heading off to the gym for a couple of hours. However, the pending court case has been at the forefront of my mind today.
I know everyone keeps telling me that there is no evidence and it’s her word against mine. Yet, throughout my life I have avoided getting into trouble with the law and so standing in a court room is more than just defending myself against a false allegation. It is shaping my character and my standing.
I don’t suppose these feelings will go until after the court case yet even now I know that whatever the outcome it will change me. I’m also aware that I will probably crash and want to sleep – even if I am found not guilty.
Trying to keep myself busy may take my mind off things
There is nothing I can really do about it. I’m taking my headmeds, I’m going to the gym, I’m filling my time with things. I’m even considering changing my career and starting a fresh in something new. I suppose I just have to get on with it.
The point I’m making is that I’m sure these feelings are normal for anyone going through this. It’s just not a very nice feeling at all.
Depression is often connected to problems with sleep. It can either be too much sleep (hypersomnia), or too little sleep (insomnia). There is also some debate about whether it can be the cause of weight gain and/or weight loss. This blog considers all of these factors and the benefits of medication, namely anti depressants and zopiclone.
It has been estimated that more than 80 per cent of people suffering from depression have problems with their sleep, usually not getting enough . However, I have found that during my periods of depression I sleep more.
Being tired effects everything
This type of tired is like a constant state of exhaustion, which takes over your body from top to toe. It starts from the mental exhaustion from the daily battles you have inside your head. It affects your emotions, causing hypersensitivity and complete numbness and running the emotional gauntlet in between. Having to constantly explain or justify why you’re tired is exhausting in itself.
Being tired stops you being focused
Being constantly tired makes you feel weak and vulnerable. It makes every decision harder to make and often means not being able to think clearly or focus on the things you previously took for granted.
How do I manage my sleep problems?
I find that my sleep regime is dependant upon the events of the day and my general mood. There are, however, two major considerations that help me sleep;
Going to the gym. This has been beneficial for a number of reasons. Firstly, it offers a routine.Take a look at my blog entitled I’ve been busy keeping myself busy – a good way of feeling better? I tend to go in the morning and then have the afternoon to ‘get things done’. Secondly, it was highly recommended as a form of treatment as the body produces ‘feel good chemicals’ into the body following a good work out finally, it gives me an appetite when I leave otherwise I probably wouldn’t bother eating.
Sleeping patterns of somebody with depression is very different to normal sleeping patterns:
· It takes much longer to get off to sleep
· The total sleep time is reduced
· There is little or no deep sleep
· REM sleep occurs earlier in the night
· There are more frequent wakenings during the night, which may last long enough for the person to be aware of them. The person wakes up earlier in the morning and can’t get back to sleep, even if feeling very tired.
What can I do about my sleep problem?
For those of you who are finding it difficult to sleep it can be extremely distressing. Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to try and improve your sleep.
Below is some general advice for anybody who has difficulty getting to sleep.
· Get into a routine with your sleep times. Get up at the same time each morning, even if you have not had a good night’s sleep. Don’t sleep during the day, and don’t go to bed early to try and get more sleep – you are likely just to lie in bed thinking over problems. Go to bed in the evening when you are tired.
· Take some physical exercise during the day. This helps to make your body more tired in the evening and makes it easier to get to sleep. . Exercise is good for you physically, and there’s also research that suggests that exercise can have an antidepressant effect. Take a look at my blog entitled I’ve been busy keeping myself busy – a good way of feeling better?
· Avoid exercise in the two hours before bedtime. This is because exercise ‘activates’ the body, which can make it difficult to get off to sleep.
· Avoid watching disturbing or violent films prior to bedtime.
· Avoid drinking caffeine (tea, coffee, cola) in the evening after 6pm. Caffeine is a stimulant and can prevent sleep. Drink no more than four cups of tea, or of coffee, or cans of cola in a day.
· Drink herbal teas or milky drinks such as Horlicks in the evening. Herbal teas don’t contain caffeine and milky drinks have been shown to be as good as sleeping tablets for many people. However, be aware that chocolate or cocoa milk drinks often contain caffeine.
· Avoid heavy meals in the two hours before bedtime. It can be extremely difficult to get off to sleep with a full stomach.
· Avoid alcohol in the evening. While alcohol is sedative, it is not a good idea to try to use it to sort out a sleep problem. This is because alcohol does not lead to normal restful sleep. In addition, alcohol causes you to pass increasing amounts of urine, which further disrupts sleep. Unfortunately, a significant number of people with depression develop an alcohol problem from using alcohol to help them sleep.
· You should associate your room with sleep: avoid having a TV or radio in your bedroom. For similar reasons do not check your mobile phone in bed or work on your laptop.
· Your bedroom should be warm and familiar with a comfortable bed and duvet, etc. Ideally, the room should be decorated in a relaxing way. This all helps in associating the room in your mind with restful sleep.
During my professional life I came across Zopiclone a number of times. I was aware that it was normally prescribed for insomnia but had never put sleeping problems and depression together. I did find that early on following my arrest I was subjected to regular flashbacks of events that happened during my relationship with my ex. Initially my GP was hesitant to prescribe zopiclone but we concluded that it was worth a try to help me get some form of sleep and rest.
Zopiclone is usually prescribed for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Long-term use is not recommended, as tolerance and addiction is known to occur.
How have I found Zopiclone?
I’ve been lucky with Zopiclone as I have managed to avoid some of the well known side effects. These are listed as being dizziness, nausea and vomiting, headache, confusion and nightmares nightmares. However, be aware that just because they work for me doesn’t necessarily mean they will be right for you.
Is having a lack of energy a sign of depression?
More than 90 percent of depressed people experience overwhelming loss of energy. This can cause a person to stay home and avoid social interaction, and prevent a person from starting or finishing projects, maintaining previous interests, or exercising. The effects of diminished energy compound the effects of depression, when work, school, and family obligations are compromised. Also, lack of activity results in loss of muscle tone, muscle mass, and, eventually, bone mass. In turn, these effects lead to degeneration in physique, strength, and physical well-being.
Can depression lead to weight loss or weight gain?
When depressed people lose the energy it takes to accomplish basic tasks, important needs such as eating are compromised. Many depressed people lose their appetite, which results in erratic eating habits and missed meals. Subsequent weight loss may result in nutritional deficiency and mental and physical sluggishness. Some people with depression have an increased appetite and gain weight. These people are usually the same who oversleep.
Manage your sleeping patterns
Problems sleeping are therefore, normal when it comes to dealing with depression. It does need to be managed otherwise it can create problems in other quarters and this may lead to an ever decreasing circle of despair and problems. Go and speak to your GP and have a go at trying out the gym.