RAFairman's Blog

An RAF Airman's Blog

Just out of reach…

Depression is a bugger.

It’s a fact. An absolute shite. 

It takes away your you-ness and leave behind a doppleganger who looks like you, sounds like you…but certainly isn’t you.  You are locked inside a glass cabinet, soundproofed, but watching what the alt-you is doing and saying and how it is screwing up your life, unable to get it to hear you banging on the window trying to stop it.

It fucks you over, takes away your tact, your skill at dealing with people, your patience, everything that you have worked for years trying to develop in yourself.  It leaves you stuck. Helpless. It has a go at ruining your work, your home, your relationships.  It takes away your sense of self. It takes away your ability to think.  It takes away every part of you that you like and leaves behind an empty husk of a body, with a shell-shocked and tired mind.

And there is nothing you can do about it.  You feel hopeless against it.  You feel like you are the worst person in the world. You are worthless and that there is no reason why any one would want to be with you.  You push people away.  You push people away.

I have felt all this.  This has been me, my life…well what could be called a life for the past 18 or so months.  And like I have said before I have no idea why.  That doesn’t matter anyway.  It’s hard enough trying to deal with the whole shit-ness of it all, I don’t think I have the capacity to think of the why quite yet.

But I am feeling a little bit better.  I have most importantly had my meds changed.  I was on Citalopram, but the side effects…they got to much for me.  The initial side effects I could cope with, indeed I got over the nausea and the headaches and the tiredness quite quickly, but after time, the OTHER side effects. The ones that ended up depressing me more than the actual depression got to much for me.  These are the side effects that can best be listed as…private…but if you google them…fairly common.

I had these for a few months.  In fact I had them when I went to see the RAF Psychiatrist for the last time in November.  I told him of the effects and how they made me feel and his reply was damning. ‘Well, those are the breaks really. Either you take the meds and feel better, or you stop taking them and feel worse…’

I hated that man. I had no rapport with him.  It seemed he wanted to give me the meds and then all would be good.  I think I was seeing him, just to make sure that I wasn’t thinking of harming myself (which I never have, by the way). 

I left his office with one word under my breath, and then, sucked it in for a month or so more and then went to see my new Civvi doc when I needed more tablets.  He was more understanding, and has shifted me from Citalopram to Cymbalta which we can only hope affects me less in the same way as the old meds! 

But oh! The side effects of switching.  The tiredness. Loss of appetite. The tiredness. I mention that twice simply because it is the worst I have ever come across. The wave of sleep just hits me and I just have to go to sleep…normally just after eating…it is a massive hammer blow that knocks me out.

Which is not good.  Because, dear reader, here is the second of my admissions.  You see I am also a full time carer.  My wife, as you may know has not been well, but she has actually been Medically Discharged from the Army due to an injury sustained a few years ago whilst on exercise.  She compressed a couple of vertebrae in her neck carrying a heavy load, and these were fused in a German hospital. 

The human body being the human body though tries to repair itself and sometimes can ‘overdo’ the repair and this has resulted in a bone over-growth into the central canal through her neck vertebrae which has impinged on the nerves that feed her right hand. With lots of neck and arm pain, and no feeling in her fingers she takes lots of drug – heavy duty painkillers that would result in a drugs test not only flagging a fail, but also playing the trumpets and setting of a siren to call the cops immediately.

She cannot do a lot of the things that an normal 39…sorry babe…37 year old do.  She can’t walk far due to the neck pain, she can’t drive, she can’t lie in bed comfortably…she takes many and various drugs that knock her sideways.  Somedays she doesn’t move for the pain and the drugs knocking her out.  

This means I do everything.  Thankfully, we have the two armed forces pensions coming in which gives us a modest (if we don’t want too much) income, and we’ll have a small mortgage on this place once we buy it, a mortgage that is much less than renting it. So it means that I don’t have to go out and work full time, which means I can be here all the more to look after her and my daughter.

But this impinges on my depression.  I feel angry (again) at the illness and at the drugs and at the whole bloody world, and I can’t seem to find a coping strategy to overcome it.  And I want to overcome it, because if I do, I really think that the whole bloody depression thing would be licked then.  it might not be a reason for the depression, but in solving it, it might be enough to give me a breathing space and to get my head back in order and to start to really enjoy life again.

I do enjoy my life, but it is not a full life.  That fog; the fog of my depression; is always around me…And dealing with my wife’s illness and injury is one of the reasons I call it a fog.  I can see there is a way of dealing with it, but I just can’t bloody find the buggering thing. It’s just out of reach andI won’t be able to cure myself until I can grasp it.


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19 thoughts on “Just out of reach…

  1. Stephen Webber on said:

    Once again, Alex, thank you. The more people can be open and honest about how they are feeling, the easier it is for others to get the help they need and to be taken seriously.

  2. Valerie McKinlay on said:

    I just wish I could come along and make it all better (that’s the mum in me) for you and Mrs F. I also suffer from depression and have been on Citalopram for ages. I used to get the falling asleep as soon as I sat down but it seems to have worn off and it’s the other way now. I used to welcome the sleep as it was time out from all my issues and problems. I’m getting better (I hope) as you well know life has been a bit shit in the last 18 months or so. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. My daughter is due to give birth to her first child in a month and we are all so excited at that. Hang in there. And keep talking. I, for one, am so grateful for your honesty.

  3. Sylvie on said:

    You have just put into words exactly how I feel, I couldn’t have described depression better myself. I am suffering for the third time in my 50 year life.
    Be strong, you have a lot on your plate, but it will get better and it’s amazing when it does.

  4. Thank you for sharing with us. It probably wasn’t easy to do. I have suffered clinical depression for about ten years. The first time it hit me it lasted for 3 years and I went back to work against my doctors advice (I thought I was well again). After another 2 years working it hit me like a hammer blow far worse than before and so I went back to my doctor who has been brilliant. Through counselling, meds and lots of support from family and friends I’m back on track and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I hope you will get the support you require for you and your family and get this depression licked. Kind Regards Don Perry
    P.S. keep blogging you write some great stuff

  5. Quentin Heslop on said:

    Having read your tweets for some time it is an eye opener to learn of your depression and how it affects your life. Very well written and an education.

  6. Feel for you, my wife had an op on her back, fused three vertebrae (spinal fusion) and now she is stuck in a bloody wheelchair and hooked on morphine amongst a ton of other drugs. The disability I can live with, when she gets depressed, that is impossible to deal with. I wish you well mate, I’ ll not deal you any glib cliche’s, depression is a total bastard, here’s hoping all gets better for you and you come back smiling!

  7. I feel for you I really do, I wish I could help. I’ve been on citalopram for about 2 years & I still have the tiredness, its a constant battle to stay awake most days, other days I’m fine & can’t sleep at night. Its brave of you to write about how you feel, its a good outlet for you & hopefully helps in some small way. Fingers crossed the new tablets start to work & the side effects wear off soon x big hugs to you & your family x

  8. Thank you for talking about what your going through. So many people try to hide it but to hear someone admit it in the open and say way thousands of use feel helps in so many ways.

  9. 7 years on from my best mate hanging himself at the young age of 40 we miss him like it was yesterday, deverstated . Depression is such an indiscriminate affliction. Stay strong Alex, just a biased suggestion, take your motorcycle test, buy a bike and go for long rides in the hills. Really sorts my head out. All the best mate. Respect

  10. Debbie Ware on said:

    OH Honey,, Thanks for Sharing your private emotions as a man that’s hard to do, yes in one way writing it down helps,. obviously being a follower on twitter i have seen many of your posts and you a have both been through a emotional rollercoaster… I have never been in the forces, not had clinical depression but have had bouts of it and also suffered Panic attacks Plus i am a carer to my eldest son.. and I have 2 boys 11 years appart and single after 26 years.. I had CBT therapy they can help sometimes find who you are and why you are like you are.. and in my opinion my dr has been a great star with helping me.. Depression is a Illness and its horrid, you may never know the cause.. it may be cause the exact things you are doing you are being a dad and mum in a way to your children, carer and husband to your wife, and there very different Roles and its always done out of love too.. The Fog I have had that you are on auto all the time but you can’t see a way forward.. Not yet but you will, i had to write what was bothering me then try to analyse it, but also see if there are any positives to make from the negatives.. but both mine and yours are very different but i do feel being a carer to my oldest who is 18 next week and single mum too,, my life is on HOLD i cant do stuff for me for long cause i am needed… and you get frustrated but equally i would not have it any other way.. apart from wishing my son did have learning needs, but then what is Normal, there is no normal there is NO perfect.. but your a strong man for opening up to us all xxxx

  11. tinkerbelle061 on said:

    I started following you about 18 months ago, I don’t know who re-tweeted you but I+ glad they did, I have enjoyed your tweets and blogs ever since. About the same time I started taking citalopran and propranolol (beta-blockers), part of my recovery was reading your blogs and tweets, your world seem so normal compared to the madness I was stuck in. Help is all around you, you just have to see it and believe, bless you both, I hope this helps even just a little xxx

  12. Just to let you know I’m reading and caring.

  13. As a sufferer from depression at different times in my life, & living with an ex-RAF son with PTSD, I can relate to this blog. Son has struggled with continuity of care – two and a half years after being medically discharged from the RAF he’s still waiting to start a course of therapy & it’s the drugs keeping him reasonably stable. He was on highest dose of Citalopram until the N.I.C.E. decided there were too many risks & reduced the max daily dose which was ineffective for him. Finding a suitable alternative was a nightmare but his GP has been great & he’s coping.
    I see a lot of the frustration, guilt, and loss of self that you express, in him & there’s the constant fear of a ‘trigger’ event coming out of the blue. Now we’re all hyper vigilant to try to protect him & ourselves.
    You are very brave to speak out. I sincerely wish you & your family well – you’re not alone!

  14. Alex, on a side note, as a full time carer have you looked in to attendence allowance etc. Every little helps etc
    Take care’

  15. You have my sympathies – I’ve had depression for years now and it’s incredibly frustrating looking back at what I could do compared to how I am now. I’m on imipramine, which isn’t ideal, but has the most benefits to side effects so far.
    If it’s available in your area (NHS cutbacks have been a little random on mental health care) it’s worth asking your GP if counselling eg CBT is available. I did get a course of that and it was very helpful. And if it isn’t available, or there’s a long waiting list they may be able to point you to an online resource.
    Best wishes to you all and good luck dealing with it.

  16. I know what you’re going through. Did you ever get the “brain zaps” or is that just the anti-d that I’m on – Welbutrin? I know about the tiredness and I also got headaches and it was awful. Being a gent I also know about the private side effects as well…most frustrating and it’s easy to let them get you down forgetting they’re chemically induced. Luckily my partner doesn’t have the issues from which yours suffers.

    Still; know this: I think you’re marvellous. It won’t help but I’d like you to know it.

  17. Unless you experience depression, it’s very hard to understand how it can suck the very soul out of you. Sending big cwtches from one who knows…

  18. Shesh, that explains the high electricity bills. All lights on till 2am. Drop trousers and then turn off all the lights. I can thoroughly recomend them though I take them for neuropathic pain, they have helped me get through some really crap times and deal with all the crap at work. Have you tried adjusting whenyou take them, so that burn out occours at the time you want it?
    I have names of doctors who can do various spinal nerve blocks. One of them looks like a less hirsute version of the cardiologist in Holby.

    • Leila McKinnon on said:

      I am also on citlopram for depression, and trying to get my doc to take me off of it as it is no longer working for me. I am 70, been a widow for 30 years, and have two lovely daughters and four marvelous grand children. Was in a very nasty car accident in 2004. The young woman who hit the drivers side of my car ran a red light…had to be cut out of my car. I call the accident the gift that keeps on giving as it is slowly taking my walking ability from me.

      The tiredness that you speak of, it is awful, terrible, horrible and just plain gross. I have spent most of January just sleeping…that’s how I know it is no longer working for me. I retired in 2009, so now I volunteer 10 hours a week, have friends over, go to movies and try to keep busy. May become the guardian of my 12 year old grand child if events at her school and in her family continue the way they are going. That will make sure I am not sleeping the day away.

      I also live on a limited budget, but am doing OK there. So here is a 70 year old woman in the USA who knows all too well what you are going through. Wish I could give you and your wife a hug, they do help you know. Consider yourselves hugged.

      Am not looking forward to changing meds, but it is that or start thinking about hiding in my home/cave and shutting everyone out and I don’t want to do that.

      Take care now, and keep up the blog, you are helping more than just yourself by writing it.

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