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Interview 26

Age at interview: 36
Age at diagnosis: 34
Brief Outline: Not currently on medication, has found the best approaches to include counselling, self-help books, alternative therapies, and adopting a more authentic lifestyle (including enjoyable voluntary jobs).
Background: Lives with her partner and young daughter and recently gave up full time work in a social welfare role. Grew up in a difficult family and has experienced anxiety and depression since she can remember.

More about me...

 
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She links her current day anxiety to the unpredictability of her parents arguments and father's...

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The anxiety is' was' for me it goes back to my parents and arguments and I guess living in fear of my father because he had a violent temper. I won't go too much into it because I've done all that, and it is quite upsetting so I won't do that, but I lived in a home, a household that you [phew] I could recognise when, when there was going to be' I guess like a volcano. I visualise it as a volcano becoming to, beginning to erupt and you, you know that it's building up. 

And I could see that happening between Mum and my Dad and it was like, I would be sort of saying to myself, 'Please, you know Mum please be quiet don't, don't', because she used to egg him on you see, and the more she egged him on, the more he got more angry and more angry. And I was sort of thinking no, no don't.  

And sometimes it would subside, sometimes it would subside and it would be ok and blow over, and other times it would just erupt. And, and so every time that there were raised voices, if I went to bed at night and was lying in bed, you would start hearing the voices, and you would be lying there thinking are they going to get louder, and louder and louder. And me being in that sort of state of not knowing because there is a fear of what might happen, you know, and I think that's got a lot to do with my anxiety now because anxiety is about sort of [forward thinking]' about sort of anticipating the worst.
 
 
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Suggests that people could bring someone else along to GP consultations, or write important...

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You go to the surgery and every time you go back to your surgery you see a different GP [laugh]. So that by the time the next one comes up, it's about three months down the line, and then you ask for a sick note for two months. I don't know. You've just got to feel confident. 

You just have to prepare yourself that it's ok to feel like this. I'm not being a fraud. It really is that self belief. And it's really, really hard because if you are depressed anyway you have got such low self esteem that you feel a complete fool. And then'.  In that case I guess it would be a good idea to take someone with you.

An advocate?

An advocate definitely that can speak up on your behalf. Or write it down, write it down before you get there as well. Write down what is debilitating, how you feel and stuff. For the actual daily appointment you might feel absolutely fine, and that's ok. It doesn't mean that you don't experience depression but the following day... you know you couldn't go to work or anything.
 
 
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In the mid-1990s, Prozac (fluoxetine) helped her to get 'out of a rut' and get on with life; it...

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The actual antidepressants I can't remember the first time I took those, probably, let me think, mid 1990s? I don't know whether it was after, after college. And what was I'. Prozac. Prozac worked really well actually for me. 

In what sense?

I can't remember it was that long ago. I know it worked at the time. No side-effects. Sort of kicked in within a week, and got me out of a rut. I think I was feeling very tearful, very depressed and it lifted my spirits. I don't know how long, whether I was on it for six months or a year. But this enabled me to get on with life and'. And I think see it wasn't one of those nasty early depressants or heavy ones like, I don't know I mean there were' it's quite fashionable. 

Prozac is quite a fashionable antidepressant. And it was ok to say you were on Prozac, it's like a happy pill isn't it. I'm OK I'm taking Prozac and then of course I knew quite a few people who were taking it as well, so it was like ok like join the club. So it wasn't. I didn't feel too bad on that.
 
 
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Argues that although talking therapies are costly if you go private, talking therapies are...

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You could be paying '30 to '40 an hour if you do it privately. You probably talk at the moment probably an average of '20 an hour, but I guess it's about making'. I mean the way you have to view it because I found' I mean the girl that recommended it to me, she was paying '20 odd an hour. She was on a very low income. And you have to make a sacrifice because the counselling is, it's a really' I can't flag it up enough, say enough how valuable it is. How important' and yes it might be expensive, especially for people who are on benefits, but it's about making an investment for your lifetime. 

And you think, without, you know, without some sort of'. maybe you're going to spend a few hundred pounds on it. But in the long term, you know, in a few years time, you may well be able to return to work or whatever or even if you don't return to work, it's just that whole sense of [sigh] just self' the realisation, the acceptance of yourself, your ability to move on in life, to understand it, to have the knowledge base there to accept, yes I am a depressive or I do experience depression, but this is what I know. This is how I need to move on. So I mean for me it wasn't that much'
 
 

Says counselling involves a journey and relationship with your practitioner that will one day end...

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Yeah they are on the journey and I think that's its safe' because they're on a journey that you are on, and they are with you every step of the way sort of thing. And you don't have to talk. Sometimes you can just, by not saying anything you are saying heaps, you know, so it's yeah. 

But then also they're [laugh] the downside is that once you've been seeing your counsellor for so long and you've built this wonderful relationship you're in'.then you've got to have an ending and that's quite scary' is when you think, oh my gosh I'm not going to be seeing this counsellor anymore. "Who am I going to off-load it onto? Who am I? "

And it's the same with, within families that become dependent on, doctors, nurses, social workers. There can be a dependency culture where you think, well actually I don't want to be going alone, because that's what you've got to do at the end of the day. You have to take that step and you have to brave it on your own.
 
 

Says that doing voluntary work can be enjoyable and less pressured than paid work, helping you to...

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So I thought no I love horses, let's'.. the Citizens Advice Bureau has got a great big leaflet on ' or sorry the Volunteer Bureau have got a huge booklet and there is so much out there. There is like loads of stuff that I'd you know, you could be visiting people and taking their dogs out or youth'.There was just so much stuff that I would be interested in doing, and this was like, also it was word of mouth.  I'd seen it in the Volunteer Bureau. But also I had spoken to a friend and she said she had worked out there.  I phoned up and being doing that a year now and it's great. At the beginning I used to get anxiety attacks and some days I could just phone up and say, 'Look I'm not feeling well'. If you are doing it voluntary' I felt I wasn't letting them down, even though I did feel like I was letting them down which I shouldn't. I was letting myself down more than anything. This is'. the same pressure is not there, and I can go in as little or as often as I want.

So'voluntary work I would definitely advocate because it gives you a sense of'.it helps build your confidence, self-esteem and it usually leads on to other things. I've learnt to drive, drive horse and carriage which this time last year I wouldn't have known, just wouldn't have a clue. And I started out cycling [coughing] and I've progressed and that and now I can actually take out a horse and carriage, which is like amazing. What else have I'I know we are doing something different now but I've taken up things this year that, like canoeing. It is always something I've wanted to do. I did a canoeing course this year, and started doing things for me. So it's like. Do stuff you enjoy doing. That's what I think helps. It's just doing things for me. Looking after myself.
 
 
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Having a child to look after gave her a routine and responsibilities which got her out of bed and...

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I think with having my daughter that really' I couldn't really wallow in self-pity' I couldn't afford to be ill for too long. I mean, it was hard. I because I've got my partner'  he works and you know with very limited extended family, so it was very much, I've got to get up and I've got to get on with this. And I just felt it was unfair on my daughter. You know, I didn't want her to see me ill as well. So I think she' you know, got me through it, because it's like I will get up and, you know, I've got'.  Basically I had to review my life and re-evaluate it and just leave that behind. And I think the biggest thing for me was letting go'like coming to terms with it and actually, you know you can't do this but you know, it's ok.  And accepting, it's about accepting. Accepting that for me that it's ok. I've worked all my life. I've had a child, blah blah blah' I can't, I'm not superwoman let's just take some time out.  '
 
 
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Says that she uses a book by Dorothy Rowe, and she really relates to aspects of the book, while...

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It's (Dorothy Rowe's 'Depression' The Way Out of Your Prison) one of those books that you can like dip into and dip out of it. And some of it is relevant, some of it is not at all relevant, and some of it I read it and thought, 'How dare she criticise like parents' and stuff like that. But other bits of it'. it's the sort of book you can keep going back to. And I go back to it even now. And it's really good. It's really good because it's all about'.. The stuff that I was talking about'. feeling guilty and not looking after myself and it's all in there. That's probably what I'm spouting it all from because it's about' it's about looking after you and. Some of the things just make me laugh. You know because it's so like, 'Oh my God that's me. I'm in there. That's what I do' you know.  And then there are case scenarios as well, case studies and things like that.  But obviously with any book you've got to read it with'.. And you know, be open to like criticism and there are things that aren't going to be relevant.
 
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