All Behind Me

I write this post after disposing of every last one of my Mental Health Medications. I no longer have a secret stockpile just in case, I no longer live in fear of having a relapse, I no longer have the same internal struggle whether I wished to live or die. I firmly believe that this is All Behind Me.

I was sorting through our medication box that was tucked up in our hallway cupboard, looking for something to settle my wife’s stomach. Unfortunately I didn’t find anything that could help my wife, but I did find all of my old medications that I used to take for Depression and Anxiety; Lithium, Olanzapine, Sertraline, Temazepam, and Quetiapine. Boxes of them. Hundreds of tablets designed to keep me safe from myself. I looked at them all. I looked at the cost, the number, the side effects, the regime that I was under. I looked at myself. I looked at where I am now, where I have come from. I looked at the bin. I decided that I would no longer keep the medications as some kind of safety net, a fall mat for just in case. I would dispose of them all and finally say good bye to that part of my life.

Since I gave up the medications at the end of last year I have been feeling elated. I am still struggling with my anger, though I am improving day by day. I am more positive than I have been in years. I laugh, I cry, I joke, and I interact. I don’t shy away from social situations, I feel like I have my mojo back. Like I can take on the world, and Win. My job is great, it challenges me, pushes me, but most of all validates me, respects me for me, understands my background, my knowledge, my experience, and uses it. We as a family have been battling with Illness for the better part of 2-3 months, sinuses, snot, and coughing, but we are better together. We play more, interact more, laugh more, enjoy each others company. We live together more.

I write this post knowing that not everyone is having the best time. I know that I have friends and family struggling with their own Mental Health issues, physical health issues, family issues, work issues. I write this knowing that I may not be able to physically do anything about it, but at least I am now physically here to be leant on, to be a shoulder to cry on, to be a sounding board, to listen, and to share with. And sometimes that all you need. To know that there is someone in your life that no matter what, is there for you. Not to provide answers, or pearls of wisdom, but to listen. To allow you to say your piece, cry your eyes out, open your heart and reveal everything. Right before gathering it all back together again, composing oneself, and rejoining the fight. A little bit less burdened knowing that someone has your back.

That’s the feeling I have. I know that I have a great circle of friends, and an unshakable family that have my back. That listen to me whinge, bicker, yell, scream, cry, and in every other way emote. That don’t necessarily have the answers, but are there to just listen. And it helps. It helps a lot.

But I move forward. Every day I move forward and leave the past couple of years behind me. Like a bad memory, and in some cases no memory at all. I leave the drugs behind, the ECT, the weekly Psychologist appointments, and the constant meetings with my Psychiatrist. I leave it all behind, and hope and pray that I never end up there again.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

 

Weight Loss since Jan 2020: 8.5kg

Recharging

Last week I wrote about where my headspace was at, the immediate actions that were taken, and the decisions that still had to be made. This week I have been reaping the benefits of the changed medications, Thiamine, and the ever recharging event of Camping. All of these have been attributing to a greatly improved mood, improved motivation, and reduction of both negative self talk and suicidal thoughts.

Medications

Medications

As discussed last week, my Psychiatrist has upped my Venlafaxine to 375mg, added 1mg of Risperidone, and added 100mg of Thiamine three times a day. I will admit it took nearly four days for a noticeable change to take effect, however, once it did it was hard and fast. Like a switch had been flicked over, the negative self talk stopped, the suicidal ideations stopped, I was more engaged, more motivated, and generally more like me again. My wife is almost completely convinced that it’s the Thiamine, mainly because she hates Risperidone, but I am also beginning to see merit in her theory.

Out Camping

Out Camping

One of the best ways I recharge and recenter is camping. I find nothing more relaxing then sitting around a fire with a bunch of mates, enjoying the serenity, chewing the fat, and forgetting about all of life’s stressors. This weekend was no different. My friends and I decided to go camping this weekend for my birthday. We picked a suitable location, in this case it was Cockscomb Veterans Retreat, booked it all in, and set off. My brother and I were the forward party that arrived early and set almost everything up. Over the course of Friday afternoon we were joined by everyone else. We ate tons of great camp food, some of which was a little more charred then desired but that’s camping in the end of it all. We played trivia games, thanks to Jess, which showed our intellectual prowess, and shortcomings all at once. We walked through the peaceful forests and admired the majesty of Constitution Hill, which we can sadly not attempt to climb. The kids had an absolute blast getting dirty, exploring, and generally causing mischief. It was an amazing weekend that we are attempting to replicate every month or two, as we all need to camp more, and we all need to rest and recharge.

Constitution Hill

Constitution Hill

Other then that I have very little to report, which is actually a good thing in the long run. I would like to thank everyone for their love and support through the continued roller coaster that is my mental health. I thank you all for continuing to read, share, and support Maintain the Rage, and I hope that I can continue to share stories and experiences that spur conversation and action.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Decisions Made

Last week I posted about where my headspace was at. This week I met with my Psychiatrist. The meeting went as well as I could expect. Discussions were had about things I didn’t think I would have to live through again. Discussions were made based on my headspace now and the similarities to where we were almost this time last year. I am not going to lie, it scared me a bit.

Fear

Fear

My headspace hasn’t been the best of late. I have had massive issues with Negative Self Talk¬†and maintaining an even keel. I have been distancing myself from friends and family, I have had suicidal ideations, I have had thoughts of self harm, I have just wanted to run away from it all and just cease to exist. Thankfully my wife and family are more insistent than I am withdrawn. The have surrounded me and done nothing more than shower me with love and accolades. It was nice to know that I am loved, and that I am not useless, or lazy, or any of the other things my brain was trying to tell me.

Depression

Depression

I went to my psychiatrist. We caught up and had a conversation about where my head has been. He was not amused by what I had to say. He almost immediately suggested a course of ECT. A prospect I was less then interested in, given the side effects and trauma it put my family through last time. I told him I was less then keen at this particular juncture as my protective factors where in good stead, and I didn’t feel unsafe at present. He made some changes to my Venlafaxine, and added Thiamine back into the mix. I agreed to let him know of what my decision was going to be regarding ECT after I had a chance to discuss it with my wife.

ECT

ECT

I went home and discussed with my wife everything that was shared with the Psychiatrist, the options put forward, and where to from here. We both agreed that ECT was not currently a viable option, and that we are safe enough within ourselves to give the medication a chance to work. There have been studies into the effect of Thiamine and its ability to quicken the effect of Anti-Depressants and lower their side-effects, others proposed that a deficiency in Thiamine leads to depression amongst other ailments. Whatever the case, my wife did note that my depression had become worse around the same time I stopped taking Thiamine, just over a month ago. It will be interesting to see, now that I am taking it again, if this will aid in my recovery at all.

Thiamine

Thiamine

The way forward… As readers, friends both close and distant, family, and others in my life, I need you. I need you to keep an eye on my behaviour, stop me from completely isolating myself, appropriately build me up, watch out for signs of clinical worsening, ask the question “Have I thought about suicide?” “How did you plan on doing it?” and “When were you planning to?” It should be noted that if I can give you an answer to the second or third questions please call the Acute Care Team on 4920 6111 or 000. Thankfully through my entire depression I have never lied, I will not hide my thoughts if directly asked. These things will keep me safe. Also, please keep an eye on my wife, she is my first line of defense and has enough going on in her own world to have my dramas lumped on her as well, so if you can lighten her load that would be appreciated.

Support

Finally, share the message about Depression. Share the message about Suicide. Don’t let fear or a lack of knowledge be the reason someone takes their own life. Be brave enough to have the hard conversation with someone, talk to them and listen. Get them the help that they need, and be there to support them through it.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Collapsing

This week I have been feeling the weight pushing down on me harder and harder. Every day seems like I have found a new way to disappoint myself and those around me. Little Luke seems to be becoming more and more negative, and that voice is getting louder and louder. The scary thing is I think I am starting to believe what he says. I think I am seeing myself as he sees me. I feel myself collapsing under the weight of it all.

The phrase “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired” seems to be my life’s motto;

  • I am sick of being in pain
  • I am sick of these headaches
  • I am sick of my sinuses
  • I am sick of my Brain
  • I am sick of being fat
  • I am sick of seeing the ugly person in the mirror
  • I am sick of walking around corners to hushed conversations
  • I am sick of this anchor I am dragging around
  • I am sick of the anxious feeling I get when I talk to somebody about it
  • I am sick of the perceived judgement that follows
  • I am sick of the way people treat me because of my depression
  • I am sick of the expectation I have of myself
  • I am sick of not meeting it
  • I am sick of being the only person people seem to rely on
  • I am sick of feeling like it would be easier if I was gone
  • I am sick of feeling like it would better if I was gone
  • I am sick of feeling like I should be gone

The daily struggle consumes more energy than I would like to and it is getting the better of me. Even as I write this entry I am holding back tears, feel defeated, feel like I just was to crawl into a hole and never come out. I feel like I just want to let everything collapse around me, and let it just end.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Rough Patch

For those who have been following my journey through Depression and Anxiety, you will know that the trip has had many twists and turns, ups and downs. Well unfortunately I appear to be at one of the downs. The past couple of weeks has seen my motivation decline, mood slip, and overall my headspace to take a sharp turn towards the negative. So much so that my Psychologist left our routine session and made a time with my Psychiatrist for the end of our session. Made me feel awesome, huh?

I'm Fine

I’m Fine

I don’t know if it’s the end of University Semester, or the recent placement I had, or my brain just changing things up for a bit of excitement, but I hit a wall. A rather large wall. I had little to no energy to drag myself out of bed, I felt like last year were I was dragging a boat anchor around. I would go to bed early, rise late, and still feel as though I hadn’t slept a wink. I felt drained, I felt demotivated, I felt lousy. Something that was out of character for me, I was actively avoiding social situations. I was avoiding my friends, church, life group, family, everyone or anything that would drag me out of the house, or invade the hovel at home. I knew this wasn’t a good place to be but at the same time I couldn’t seem to shake it, or see the reason to actually do anything about it. I even ran into my Psychiatrist on placement when the decline started, but didn’t want to cause a fuss so just said “I’m Fine”. This was in no way going to help my situation, but it sure as heck made it worse. I slid further and further into the depressive phase, until I had my meeting with my Psychologist…. then things changed.

I'm OK

I’m OK

My headspace was in no way helping the situation. Other then feeling like I was swimming through molasses or dragging an anchor around, I had a little niggling voice at the back of my head. The voice started small and quiet, occasionally making a remark about what I was doing or calling me stupid or fat. This voice steadily got louder. Soon it would be commenting on my driving, what I was eating, things I said to patients, my weight, my clothes, my cooking, what I was watching, when I was doing things…. EVERYTHING! The voice was so loud and so constant it became impossible to ignore. Soon I started to listen. Maybe I am going to be fat forever, maybe I’m not good enough to be a Registered Nurse, maybe I am a lousy Husband, a Terrible Father, a horrible friend, an awful cook, a slovenly mess…… you get the picture. This just fed the aforementioned anchor problem.

Negative Self Talk

Negative Self Talk

Through all of this I am going to say I didn’t have suicide ideation like I had last year, and for that I am eternally grateful. I did however have thoughts of self harm, and toiled with the idea of different ways in which my life could be taken. Like whilst cutting vegetables with my exceptionally sharp knife, acknowledging the fact that the brachial artery was an easy target, or after refilling my script for Seroquel how peaceful it was be to just consume a whole box. I know to most these would seem like the start of a plan, or even intention, and if I hadn’t gone through last year I would have agreed with you. However, the power in which the thoughts carried, the lack of conviction, and the lack of desire to see them undertaken did not lend, to me, the idea that they were “proper” suicidal ideations.

Depression

Depression

However, after my Psychologist appointment, I did go and see my Psychiatrist. He was less than amused by what he heard. He was also less then amused that I didn’t say anything when we ran into each other. He was concerned that we were heading down the very slippery slope to where we were last year. So some changes to my medications where made. My Venlafaxine is now 300mg a day instead of 225mg, and my Quetiapine is now 600mg per day, instead of 450mg. I’m not overly excited about the prospect of the increase, but given the alternative, and where it could lead, I’ll take it.

I am going to call on the Maintain the Rage community, please keep me in your thoughts, prayers, and best wishes. I am doing OK, but not great. Because I am slowed, my wife shoulders the burden, which is not sustainable. Keep being awesome, and normalising the conversation. I’ll keep writing, as long as everyone else keeps reading, sharing, and motivating.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld