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Interview 39

Age at interview: 43
Age at diagnosis: 37
Brief Outline: Helpful approaches have included hospitalisation, venlafaxine (75mg X 3/day), Fish Oils, individual Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and relationship counselling, support from local women, joining Depression Alliance, and a gradual return to work to build confidence.
Background: Lives with her husband and 6 year old son in a village. Was diagnosed with severe depression after the birth of her son, and had another episode subsequently.

More about me...

 
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Feels that taking fish oils helped to lift her mood, but it took 6 weeks, and she continues to...

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Yes, it (Fish Oils) didn't help immediately. I guess it must have taken about six weeks to build up. But I'd say there was a definite lifting of mood. It may have happened in time, but I, I think there was some link there. And the fact that the doctor says it can help with prevention of future depression is incredibly important to me. It gives me a greater feeling of confidence that I have some control over the depression coming back. 

Mm, is that - it sounds almost like insurance?

That's right, that's right. I think that I - that this has been a journey, and I've learned a lot about what caused the depression, and along the way, ways of coping with the depression, so I have more control over it coming back, and if it does, how to handle it.
 
 
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Although talking and listening was too tiring when depressed, having her friend there and doing...

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Yes, we needed to balance it because I would still get very tired, and so I didn't want somebody who was there, talking all the time, because I found talking and listening tiring, and we, we might just go for a walk, and say very little really.... But just having their presence there. I don't, I don't know. I think I was frightened that I would go mad in some way, and loose control completely. That never happened, even when I was in hospital, that never happened. I was overly controlling really, but I just felt that if anything like that happened I'd got somebody there with me, and I was safe and [son's name] was safe. So as I say, I just remember someone sitting in the kitchen with me while I just tidied round and did the ironing. Somehow it just helped give me a little more motivation. We talked about very little. She just shared her day with me. It was very mundane, and then we just had a coffee. We didn't talk about a lot, we didn't say a lot, we just... having her there I just felt safe in some way.

So it was her presence more than conversation?

Yes, yes. As I was saying I did get very tired very quickly and I did have a friend that talked a lot, and I cut back from seeing her because it was just too wearing.
 
 
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Her husband missed out on the support she got. Having a break and getting counselling through...

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No, I feel that [husband's name] felt that there was the focus on me, so I'd got the psychiatrist and the hospital, and as I'll say later on I did have friends too, and my family. But he felt very isolated and cut off, and he'd found it very hard going to work, juggling [son's name]'s care, and being worried about me. And also because I'd been through it before with the postnatal depression. He just felt that he couldn't go through it again, and he didn't have anyone to talk to, so in the end he did go and see a GP because he was concerned that he was going to get depressed as well. And he did pay for some private counselling sessions. And then after six months I came back... yes after six months I came back to live here, and he came back. And we also had some joint sessions, through Relate, to help us deal with the depression together, and the fall out as well on our relationship.

What were Relate like?

They were excellent.

How - in what way were they helpful to you?

They gave us both a chance to talk properly to one another about our experience of the depression. I think before we'd kind of tiptoed round one another really. We were just so scared of it, it just seemed like such a big thing. And I'd also felt very abandoned by him, and very let down, because he's left. But I was able to see through the sessions that... the pressure that he'd been under, and why he'd found it so difficult. And so we were able to talk through those very difficult emotions and feelings, and thoughts, in a safe environment.

How many sessions did it take to work through that?

We must have gone along for about six, and then we had a long break, and went back and had two more. But by then I think we felt that we were communicating that much better, that we didn't need a third person there anymore.
 
 
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Her depression lifted but left her lacking confidence, yet she was fortunate to be able to...

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And what happened was the depression gradually went. It didn't go over night, and I - I saw the clinical psychologist again, and I remember her saying to me I think your depression has lifted, but it's left you very unconfident and very anxious. But I could see the black moods had gone, but I had become very anxious in social situations. I managed to go back to work, again I went for half a day, then a day, then gradually built up to the three days I'm doing now, and for a little while I just shadowed other people. I could do the job, but when it came to sitting in the staff room and talking generally I wouldn't say anything because I just felt so anxious about how people perceived me because I'd been so ill. And what were they thinking, and were they thinking if I could do the job? So I found that very difficult, and I also found it very difficult with other people in other settings.
 
 
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While she constantly thinks about depression, she can now see she has bad days, but they do not...

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What's happened with that fear of the depression coming back?

Well as the time between the depression now grows, in does get easier. I... I still think about depression most days, it's still there in my thoughts, but I - I'm more able now to - to see that I do have moods, perhaps slightly more than other people, but because there's a dip, that doesn't mean the depression is going to come back. And I'm able just to go, go with it, and through experience I know that I do come out the other side, but it has been tough lesson and I suppose it had left me quite hyper-vigilant in terms of my thoughts and feelings.

Bad days don't necessarily mean depression?

No, no. Yes, yes. So I may have a stressful day at work, but I can cope with it now.
 
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