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Shareen - Interview 22

Age at interview: 39
Age at diagnosis: 24
Brief Outline: Shareen, 39, describes herself as Asian. She was born in the UK but lived in Pakistan between the ages of 11 and 19. Shareen experiences panic attacks, anxiety and depression. Shareen's sister, Marlene was also interviewed.
Background: Housewife, married with 6 children. Ethnic background/nationality: Asian (born UK).

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Shareen, 39, describes herself as Asian. She was born in the UK to an English mother but was sent, aged 11, with her sister to her grandmother in Pakistan. (Shareen's sister, Marlene, was also interviewed for this project.) Shareen wanted to go home to her parents in the UK, but her grandmother refused. When she was 19, Shareen's father brought his daughters home' he had to sell his house and furniture to buy the air tickets. Shareen feels that she missed out on her childhood because she didn't play or go to school; instead, she cared for children, cooked and cleaned. Consequently, she can't read and can't help her own children with their schoolwork. 

After she had her first baby, Shareen was told she couldn't have any more children, and she became depressed. Shareen and her husband began arguing and he started drinking and gambling. Shareen and her family had to move house several times, sometimes losing their as a result of her husband's gambling. 

Shareen has experienced many periods of depression and has attempted to take her own life many times. As a result she has been hospitalised, once for 6 months, had her stomach pumped and been on a life support machine. Shareen often feels like she cannot cope and wonders whether life is worth living. She also experiences panic attacks, anxiety, forgetfulness, crying, difficulty getting up in the morning, difficulty eating, hot flushes, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath and a dry throat. She has also seen and heard things that are not there. Shareen can't go out or have a bath on her own because of her panic attacks. On a bad day, Shareen says she gets angry and smashes things up, pulls her hair and bangs her head. Shareen believes her symptoms are getting worse.

Shareen is prescribed Temazepam but she doesn't take it because she's worried about 'being a zombie'. She says it knocks her out for two days and there's no one except her mum to look after her children or do the housework. Shareen says her doctor tells her to keep taking her tablets but she says they don't have to look after her 6 children. Shareen thinks her 6 children have been affected because they're not doing well at school and have a lot of anger. She feels she has to be strong for her children because when she's ill there is no one to look after them. Her eldest son has always helped around the house; Shareen says he took her place because she didn't have the energy and her husband didn't help. She is now separated from her husband who is forbidden to have contact with the children by Social Services. Shareen says her in-laws have told her she isn't a good wife or mother but she wants her children to know she tries to be a good mum. She wonders whether everything that has happened is her fault or if she's being punished for something. 

Shareen wants her symptoms to improve and to have a happy life. She says she knows she's strong. Shareen goes to a support centre to relax and feel calm, to do nice things, socialise and talk confidentially.

 

When she takes her medication she is "knocked out" for 2 days and there is no-one to look after...

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When she takes her medication she is "knocked out" for 2 days and there is no-one to look after...

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Once I've taken my tablet, I'm knocked out, I'm no use for nobody [sighs]. So that's, you know, that's what I have to do is take my tablets, knock myself out, sleep two, a couple of days, miss two days, then wake up. And you don't know what's gone on next day. You're missing a day out. And I think that's no life. 

And I'm sick of going to doctors all the time, because they're always saying, “It's anxiety.” If you've got something wrong with you, they'll just write you a prescription. “Here you are. Take your tablets.” They'll just put you on tablets all the time. I mean I don't want to be a zombie all my life, and I don't want to take tablets. I'm not one for tablets. I only take them when I really really need them, when I feel like I'm going down and down and down. But that's when I take a tablet and that's when I'm knocked out for a day or two. And I don't know if my kids are dressed, I don't know if my kids are fed. So I'm waking up, I'm waking up with a house upside-down. The kids, they're only young in their self, but they clean up, they do what they can. But I'm waking up, there's the house untidy, there's nowt in the house, there's no cooking being done. So I think to myself, “It's a waste of time knocking yourself out, [Shareen].” The house needs cleaning, the cooking needs doing. So I keep myself going. I mean in the morning when I get up, I get my kids up, get their breakfast. I should have a cup of coffee for myself first. But I don't. I do everything, I clean the house from top to bottom. About 12 o'clock I sit down and say, “Now I'll have a drink.” I don't eat. My food, every time I eat I get like indigestion. It sticks in me.

 

Shareen often experiences panic attacks and says they feel like she is having a heart attack. ...

Shareen often experiences panic attacks and says they feel like she is having a heart attack. ...

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I'm trying my best. But these, I can't cross the roads. I can't go out anywhere on my own. I can't even get a bath on my own. I can't even, I've got to have somebody there at the bath, near the bath or near the door to make sure I can get out, because I have these panic attacks. Because the other day I, I got a bath and my mum were downstairs. I got a bath and I got out of bath, and that were it. The panic attack started. I started breathing really heavy. It was like my breathing stopped. I couldn't even talk. And my heart, it was just racing so much I felt I'm going to just, having a big heart attack. And, and I'm saying, 'Mum, I can't breathe, I can't breathe.' She's saying, 'Come on. Breathe, breathe, breathe.' And I'm saying, 'I can't.' And tears were just rolling down. And my legs and my arms and my body were just completely shaking. So I had to blow in these paper bags like I've been told to. And then it released. It was okay, I was okay then. Then I had to take one of my tablets, one of them tema- paza-, mazepam. And I were asleep for two days. And I woke up and I were feeling okay in myself. 

 

Shareen feels suicidal and has intrusive thoughts about hurting herself; she feels like she's...

Shareen feels suicidal and has intrusive thoughts about hurting herself; she feels like she's...

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Because I've done everything, I've tried to put my life back on, in line. But nowt goes right for me. Everything goes wrong. It's like every time a block, it's like going into that wall and blocking yourself in it, putting bricks and bricks until you're blocked in that you can't breathe. And then it's like when a happy day starts for me, I can throw a brick off of that wall and start breathing. And I think, 'Wow, this is a lovely day.' And then only half a day I can have a nice day. And then in the evening, that's it. I'm back to my moods and back to tiredness. I've no strength or nothing. I'm getting really weak in myself. And then sometimes I think, you know, 'Why is it me all the time who's got to suffer? Why is it me who's always got to go down?' It's just like climbing up a ladder and saying, 'I'm climbing up this ladder. When am I going to reach that top?' And nobody knows when I'm going to reach it. But I'm always slipping back down this ladder. And sometimes I just think it's not worth living, you know. But then I say, 'My children are growing up. If I'm not here, who's going to look after them then?' Because when I get poorly, like in the past when I've been poorly they've had no food, you know. Like sometimes my sister's come round with, with milk and biscuits, something like that for them. Or sometimes she's cooked their food. But I know if I'm not there my children have not been fed or clothed. So it's important for me to be strong and be there for my children. It's hard, but I'm trying'

Feel like I want to suffocate myself or put like a rope over the, somewhere so I can hang myself. And sometimes when I'm in the bathroom I'll talk to myself in front of mirror. It's like I'm two people sometimes. I'll say bad and I'll say good. I'll say to myself, 'Well, don't do this. It's not, it's not right. You've got kids.' And I'll say, 'Well, I've put up with all this before. Why should I put up with it? I'm packing my bags and I'm going.' And then my mind will click, 'Oh, you're going downstairs. Why don't you jump off of this, you know, fall downstairs? You might break your leg or you might end up in hospital.' Then I think to myself, 'No, I can't do that. If I do that, who's going to look after my kids?' You know. Things just come to my mind.

 

Shareen first became depressed after being told she couldn't have any more children. (Played by...

Shareen first became depressed after being told she couldn't have any more children. (Played by...

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And then I had my first son. He was about 8 months, no, sorry, he was, he, when I had him, about he was 2 months old, that's when I started working. And my sister took over the looking after him. She had a daughter as well. Nine days between them. And she looked after them while I worked, me and my mum. We brought us wages and put food on the table and everything for them. And we used to take, take it in turns sleeping because there were only three rooms and there was six of us in one house. So we had to wake one person up and say, 'Get out of the bed. It's my turn to sleep now.' So it, it carried on to be rough and everything but we got through. And then we got us own association house, me and my husband. And we settled down.

And then after that they told me that I couldn't have no more children. It took about three years to have another child. And I got really down, I got really depressed. Anybody used to talk to me, I used to just snap at them. I used to get up at night and just open the door, just wander off. And my husband had to go looking for me. And I'd be walking the streets not knowing where I were. So he had to bring me back. And then I used to just get really annoyed with my husband. And my husband were getting fed up of me. He were just saying, you know, 'I try my best here.' I used to nag at him all the time. And he'll come home and say, 'Is the food cooked?' I'll say, 'No, it's not cooked,' you know. 'Why haven't you cooked owt?' 'I can't be bothered.' And I was just getting that way, I couldn't do nothing. So we started arguing. 

Then he turned to drink. He turned to drink and every night kept on coming home drunk. Then he started gambling, spending money what we didn't have to spend. So that got me really down. And then his family came on top. His sisters and that. And they started interfering with everything else. So I just told them where the door were. They didn't like it. So me and my husband started arguing again over them.

 

She describes a range of symptoms including feeling hot and cold, "something in my mouth like a...

She describes a range of symptoms including feeling hot and cold, "something in my mouth like a...

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And now it's my, got really, getting out of bed in the morning, hot flushes, sweatiness, shakiness. And sometimes I feel like I've got something in my mouth like a ton of bricks. When I talk my tongue's sometimes twisted and my throat dries up. I get out of breath. Sometimes I get like a feeling that I'm not the same person. And I get angry'

And sometimes the doctors don't take a lot of notice. They just put everything down to anxiety, panic attacks and this and that. It's like if you get aches and pains, 'Oh, it's, it's anxiety.' If you get a swollen stomach, 'Oh, it's anxiety. You're worrying too much.' You don't have to worry and you still get all these symptoms. Like, you know, when I'm laid down I get really numb. My head goes like it's, it's like I'm not laid on a pillow, it's like I'm laid on a brick. My head, it goes really tense. All my mouth it's like it's, I've got like a ton of bricks in my mouth. It's like, it's just like having numb, really numb teeth and numb faces and that. And then my fingers and my thumb and my hands go numb. And then my legs go numb. My knees lock. And I just think to myself, you know, 'I need shaking up. I need, I've got to be renewed again, you know. I've got to be a new person. If I carry on like that, maybe I'm going to end up in a box. I'm not going to be here any longer, you know.' But I just say to myself, 'Well, what's going to happen, it's got to happen.' But I'm trying my best. And I know, you know, if every, anything did happen, I just want my children to know that I tried my best to be a good mum. And what's gone wrong in the past, I tried to put everything right. I tried and tried, but I can't do any more. You know, I've tried and tried. That's the end of it now, that's all. So, but it's just all these panic attacks what get me down now, and anxieties and I get out of breath. And at night-time I'll be asleep and I'll wake up in, like I'm going down. And then I woke up in a shock and I can't breathe. I'm panicking, I've got to open the window, sit there and start puffing and making myself breathe. Then if I can't, if I'm not that settled, I've got to walk the rooms. And cool myself down, because I go really hot. It's like I'm on fire.

And it's awful, because one night I was just laid in bed and nowt never happened to me like that before. It just happened like I was laid in bed just normal, and all of a sudden I started dribbling from there. And then all my body went all cold like I was in an icebox, really numb. And my head, it was just freezing cold. And I was, my teeth was chattering. And I thought, 'Oh, well, what's going on here?' in my mind. And then all of a sudden I felt this rush come up to me, hot, really hot. And it went to my head and all I saw were red. I thought, 'God's ready to take me.' It only happened for just a second. It were like, I could see, it were just like the room went red and it were just like my body was on fire. And I went right into a deep hole, I can remember that. I went right, my, like my brain were going round, down, down, down into this like bright deep red hole. And then all of a sudden I just went numb and I went cold. And I felt all this thing come down me again. Then I was okay. And that really scared me, that night. It were just a weird thing that happened. And I just said, you know, said to myself, 'Well, be calm, [Shareen], you know. There's nowt, there's nowt there, you know.' And then I got up, had a glass of water, then I went into telly room, watched the television. Then I couldn't sleep.

 

Shareen asked herself why she was suffering and wondered whether she was being punished for...

Shareen asked herself why she was suffering and wondered whether she was being punished for...

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I couldn't cope with it. I were crying. I were seeing stuff at night-time. I couldn't sleep. I were getting like fears, like the house has got on fire. But it wasn't. I was seeing smoke in the house. I were getting scared that if I go out on my own, I heard footsteps behind me and stuff like that. And I just didn't, I didn't want to live any more. I'd just had enough. I just thought, you know, 'Why has God put me on this earth? Why am I suffering that much? What have I done to hurt somebody?' And I was thinking to myself, 'If I weren't here, the big trouble would be, you know, all the trouble would be gone. Is it because I'm the youngest and that'?'

One day I was that so down because my husband and me had had an argument. And in-laws came in and they said to me, you know, 'You're not a good wife. You're not a good mum.' And I always thought to myself, 'Is it me who's causing all these problems? Maybe I'm not a good mum, I'm not a good wife.' So, and I thought to myself, 'You can't do right for wrong here.' So I said, 'A dog gets treated better than a human being''

I mean people there, they get mostly everything. I've never asked anybody for this and that. And sometimes I think, you know, 'Is it, am I being punished for it? Have I done something wrong? Is that why I'm going through all this and going through all these anxieties?' And I want to laugh. I don't want to cry any more. But I can't laugh.

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