Friday, March 21, 2014

Today Is A New Day

So this post isn't sewing related.  Lets call it a Community Service Announcement.  And I'm going to break it up with pictures of cute puppies.  Cause why not!

In October last year I mentioned that I had been unwell, and gave a bit of a run-down of my problems.  Things have gotten worse, not better, and I feel the need to tell the story from the start and give it its own post.  I am hoping that me being honest about all that I'm dealing with will help others feel like they aren't alone, or encourage just one person to seek help.


Back in October 2012, I got pregnant.  Well, my body thought it had gotten pregnant.  In fact, I had a blighted ovum, which (in really basic terms) means that a sperm had a nibble at my egg, but then got bored and went away, but the egg got all excited and went ahead like it had been fertilised.  Anyway, I suffered near intolerable morning sickness for three weeks before we realised that I wasn't in fact pregnant.  At this point I want to say that I never wanted children, so the fact that I wasn't pregnant was actually a relief to both me and my husband.  As dedicated readers will know, he already has two wonderful children from an previous marriage.

At the end of October, I had an operation to clear my uterus so life could return to normal.

Except it didn't.

I started gaining weight, was exhausted, had a foggy head, couldn't think, and suffered from debilitating migraines every month for the week of my period.  All this time I was trying to eat well and exercise hoping that it would help, but nothing did, and no doctors seem to have an answer.  After 12 months of three normal-ish weeks and a week in bed every month I requested a referral to an endocrinologist, because I was thinking it was my hormones that were completely out of whack.


So I got a referral to a Doctor that tested me for a whole bunch of things, diagnosed me with Coeliacs Disease (spelt Celiac in the USA) which was triggered by my blighted ovum, and put me on hormone replacement therapy.  This seemed to work, and I felt better for a month, then things went downhill rapidly again.  I wasn't able to get into the same Doctor for two more months, and I wasn't prepared to wait that long, so I found a GP with a holistic approach instead.

She was HORRIFIED that a 34 year old woman who was on the contraceptive pill had been put onto hormone replacement therapy!  She did all the blood tests again, told me to stop taking what I was taking, and sent me for a pelvic ultrasound with her fingers crossed that there was nothing wrong that had been exacerbated by the extra hormones.

When the results came back, my levels for hormones and vitamins were all over the shop, but there was nothing seriously wrong thank goodness.  She put me on a mostly vegan and gluten free diet, and some chinese herbal medicine, to help me detox from all the crap I'd been taking.  And it worked, and I was feeling pretty good.  Tired a lot, but good.


But for the past couple of months, I've been going rapidly down hill.  Sick, exhausted, anxious, irritable, brain dead, depressed... not myself.  So I started doing some reading about Coeliacs disease.  The medical profession would have you believe that if you don't eat gluten you go back to normal.  What they don't tell you is this a new normal, not the old normal.  The person you are now is not the person you were before Coeliacs.  You will also battle with exhaustion, as your body doesn't absorb nutrients from food well, so you will need special supplements.  And for some people, the black dog of depression will come to visit.

All of the above is what I'm dealing with, and due to the fact that I didn't know about it, I haven't been taking supplements to support my systems.  So I'm in a total state.  Luckily, my husband and I have our own business, and he was able to give me a leave of absence so I could try and get myself together.  I honestly believe that anyone else would have fired me by now (or I would have quit out of guilt) because I have been unable to do my job or even get to work with any kind of reliability.


I have spent the last two weeks at home having ok days and bad days.  Yesterday was a really bad day.  Total exhaustion and too many tears.  My poor, supportive rock of a husband had to go to the office, so my parents dragged me to a doctor who diagnosed clinical depression and gave me a prescription for anti-depressants to help me get better.

Now, there is a huge stigma attached to mental illness, but there needn't be.  If I had a giant cut on my arm I would get stitches.  If I broke my leg I would get a cast and crutches.  Why should getting treatment for a chemical imbalance in my brain feel so embarrassing???

I refuse to be embarrassed by this.  I'm not a weak person, and this isn't a sign of weakness.  I'm going to hold my head up high and say I have a problem, and I'm gonna rock it like I rock my crazy outfits.  With confidence. 


Please, if this strikes a cord with any of you out there... GET HELP!  And then TALK ABOUT IT!  You will be surprised the number of people who come out to support you.

Beccie
xxx


PS.  I'd like to point out the irony of being diagnosed with depression on International Happiness Day...


40 comments:

  1. oh you brave and excellent woman. I hope you're on the mend and thanks for being another voice the breakdown of the stigma around mental illness. x

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    1. Now that I've been diagnosed, I almost feel responsible for breaking down the stigma that surrounds it. It really shouldn't be there.

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  2. Becci....I really am sorry that you have gone through so much. My hope for you is that you find the right balance of medication and diet so you can have your life back, on your terms. You always come across as a happy person with a great sense of humor!

    Never be embarrassed about your diagnosis...like you said, "Rock It!!"..be another voice to educate others...be the individual that can make a difference. I am proud of you for sharing your story. You had problems and you looked for a solution. You really do rock!!

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth. I often wonder what I did to deserve this... but thats the wrong attitude. I need to accept the hand I've been dealt because that is the healthy way forward. I never pretend to be something I'm not so I'm viewing this as an opportunity to educate and break down stigmas where I can.

      I am/was a happy person, but those times of happiness have become less and less over the last 6 months, and now I'm just not myself. I hope that my diagnosis will help me find the old Beccie, and I can stop putting on a brave face.

      <3

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  3. So many things you have described are things I have been seriously dealing with myself for the past five years. Things are better, but there are days that are still rage inducing and monsoon crying sessions. I understand the exhaustion and frustration. I also found going holistic was more productive than anything my GP was able to suggest. I haven't done the anti-depressives (yet), but fully expect to once I hit menopause. I've been lucky enough to have an amazing RMT (massage therapist), naturopath and acupuncturist to help with the the mental health (depression and anxiety). Speaking out about mental health is not only good for you, it's good for those around you. I'm hoping your health journey becomes easier to deal with. All the best my dear!!
    Angela Wicentowich

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    1. Thanks Angela. Speaking out has been like lifting a weight off my shoulders. I have been surprised and warmed by the love and support that has come from all corners of the globe, from my close friends (who I was keeping this from) to people I have never met.

      I am hoping when I get everything under control, I can wean myself off the anti-depressants (under supervision) and be able to cope drug free.

      xxx

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  4. Thank you for being so open and generous with your story, Beccie! And you are absolutely correct that there is nothing to be ashamed of or to hide anymore than any physical illness. I'm sorry that there has been SO much going on for you and I'm really happy to hear that you have so much support around you. Thinking of you and hoping things calm down for you soon!

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    1. Thank you Erika. I am thankful every day for the support that surrounds me. I'm not sure where I would be without them.

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  5. Around here, gluten free is the "in" thing. People state they have celiac disease almost like they're bragging. It's like gluten intolerance is an exclusive club that only the elite can join.

    Mental illness, on the other hand, is embarrassing. People try to hide it, they lie about it (like saying they have the flu when really it's anxiety or depression keeping them out of work), they feel ashamed of it.

    It shouldn't be that way. Hooray for people like you who aren't afraid to talk about mental health.

    I disagree with the (uninformed) idea that people with depression are weak. When you're suffering from depression, it takes a LOT of strength just to make it from one day to the next.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I hope you feel better soon. Diet can have a big impact on mood; you will probably start to feel better when you get your nutrients and supplements sorted out.

    Lastly... PUPPIES! :D

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    1. I know - how good are puppies!

      'Gluten-free' being trendy is a double edged sword. It has meant that there are a lot more products out there that I can eat, BUT with all those people on the bandwagon, it means those of us that really are affected are not taken seriously.

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  6. Though I have been a reader for a while, I have never commented on all your amazing clothes and accomplishments. But reading your story compels me to comment right now and let you know that I wish so genuinely that you get better and start feeling better, physically and mentally, HOWEVER you can achieve this. There is no shame at all for suffering depression. This reader in Portland Oregon wishes you all the positive energy in the world!

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    1. Thank you so much. I'm so glad I spoke up, because it has been uplifting to receive so much love and support.

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  7. So sorry to hear that you've been having so many struggles. I'm proud of you for speaking out about your mental and physical health issues. I'm so glad to hear that you have a wonderful partner that can be a rock for you during this hard time - I know from personal experience how much of a difference that can make. Know that you're not the only one to have struggled or to be struggling with mental health and by speaking up you can get the support you need, give others the chance to share that you aren't alone, and give others the chance to learn that they aren't alone. Sending hugs and best wishes.

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    1. Thank you Erin. Speaking up has been a good experience for me for the reasons you listed. It made me feel like I'm not the only one going through this, and I've been able to feel love and support from all corners of the globe.

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  8. You know, I'm all for getting medicated - and for those reasons you said exactly. There is no shame in saying you need help - and we have come a LONG way with regards to mental health. With still a long way to go, which can only be improved by removing the stigma associated with it.

    The more its out in the open, the more opportunities to study and to understand and thus find better ways to treat.

    I'm not sure what meds you've been prescribed, but from my understanding some can make things worse before they get better. I hope that you can come through the other side with a renewed positivity and it will be the start of the climb back to the top.

    Here's to the future Beccie!

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    1. Thanks for the support Eszter. Yes, some meds can make you worse before you get better, and I'm prepared for that. This one can take between 2-4 weeks before it kicks in fully. At this point I feel less like an emotional vortex, but I'm not there yet.

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  9. Beccie, Thank you for sharing your story. I want to wish you well in both your physical and mental illnesses. Both my children and husband suffer with illnesses that have caused gut problems and other physical pains. Sadly this has led to both my kids being diagnosed with Depression. They are currently on meds and seeing psychiatrist s. I know it is not easy for you, but with all the help from your wonderful family and support from medical practitioners you will get better. Thanks for sharing your story with us. Much love to you xxxx

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    1. Thanks Donna. Much love to you and your family too xxx

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  10. Hang in there Beccie, it will get better. I had post natal depression after I had my twins - and I spent A WHOLE YEAR traipsing around different doctors, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, you name it. It was only after I self-diagnosed and went to my GP And refused to budge from her office that I finally got some treatment. I started on meds and felt much better within a week or two, although I had to take them for a few years before I finally evened out enough on my own. Like you, I've always thought it's nothing to be ashamed of and have been very open about it. Keep up the good fight, you'll get through this! xxx Mim

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  11. Beccie, you mentioned before you were not well, and even if we have never met and are not "befriended" as in real life, I had a feeling you had your problems going on. I'm so sorry to hear things went worse...

    Nobody should feel ashamed of having depressions. You tried everything to go back to normal for a year, and this consumed a lot of energy, now you're not only physically exhausted. I really do understand how you feel (or at least I have an idea). I never imagined to get in a similar situation, coming from a family where everyone always was "strong" and "healthy", they were all hard-working persons and such. After my second child I somehow realised I was not the same person, I felt sad all the time, I cried a lot about everything and felt terrible about that (as it was not "normal" for me), I didn't even want to sew anymore. I was so tired, and it was certainly not because of the little baby, as the little baby got bigger and is 2 now. At a certain point I got aware that I probably had had a postpartum depression that nobody had noticed, as I usually was a happy person, positive and always busy and hard-working. I found my own way to deal with this, I had promising result with alternative medicine, as I never would take any pills (just because I don't like them, not because I think they bear a stigma or whatever), and after a terrible 2013 I feel with spring coming back that I slowly but surely I get back to normal. Physically (I lost quite a bit of extra-kilos, which has a positive impact on my overall condition) and mentally. I find much strength in tiny businesses I run, I have an understanding and supportive and VERY patient husband, and my lovely little family. We all have our own ways to deal with things, and I deeply hope you will get better soon. I'm very impressed you ad the courage to write this post - I guess this is a great thing to do, as it also helps others. And you are absolutely right: there are so many people out there with similar problems, or just friends that support you, or maybe people you would even expect, but still, they're there to help. That's the best medicine, after all.

    I'm sure you will make it. I wish you all the best and send you a warm hug from the other side of the world... Doris

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    1. Thank you Doris. 2013 was a pretty awful year for me too. I'm hoping that 2014 holds much better things in store for both of us.

      Writing this post was therapeutic for me, in that I was able to get it out, and also in all the positive support I have received. I'm glad you were able to share your story too. xxx

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  12. I have Celiac disease (spelled with no O in Canada too, weird!) and have had my own troubles with depression. I was diagnosed Celiac fourteen years ago and have a great support system (my whole family are rampant Celiacs) but that doesn't mean it isn't still hard.
    I want to say thank you for posting this because it is by more people refusing to feel shame or embarrassment about medication and depression that we can change the general outlook and raise awareness!
    I'm sorry for the difficult times you've been having, but if I dare say, living gluten-free just gets better. Just mind your supplements ;)
    -Anne

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    1. Thanks Anne. I'm the only one in my family - actually the only person I know - with coeliacs disease. This has made things a bit harder because we are all learning from scratch. About EVERYTHING. I am working really hard to get a handle on this, and I will get there. xxx

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  13. Thank you for your bravery and this very inspiring post.
    Sending you love and support from Canada.
    Besides being a newbie sewist, I am also a holistic chef who specializes in gluten and dairy free recipes. I'd be very happy to send you some, you can contact me through my website, www.jentreewholefoods.com.

    -Jenny

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    1. Oh brilliant! I will send you an email. Thanks Jenny xxx

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  14. Praying for you! It is always better to be honest, you never know who you may reach and help. And I am very glad to hear you quit doing hormone replacement. My mother was 50 and on hormone replacement therapy and suffered a stroke as a direct result of the hormones she was taking. I would also talk to your new GP about the birth control you're using as they also depend on hormones and can throw you out of whack, too. I had a horrifying experience while on a particular birth control pill about ten years ago in which I had heavy bleeding for almost a month and was depressed and sick. It was a direct result of said pill and that particular one has a class action lawsuit filed against it now here in the U.S. Even though hormones have and are often used we still don't know the full effects of using them and I always think it's better to find a natural way to balance your body.
    I'm glad to hear you're getting help with your depression, too. It's not shameful at all. What's shameful is that no one talks about it and makes those suffering feel ashamed to get help. I have many in my family who suffer with it, and with the right medication they are so much better.
    Love and prayers!
    -Sarah

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    1. Oh my goodness Sarah! I have been working to get off the contraceptive pill now for a few months. Convinced my husband to have a vasectomy and I was waiting for his 'all clear', but after all this I can't wait any longer. I am now off the pill and we will see how that goes.

      I do hope that by speaking up that others are encouraged to also speak up and get help. There is no need for anyone to be ashamed.

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  15. I opened your blog today wondering how your health has been I remembered reading that you were having difficulties so there it was an update. I'm glad you have found some answers and that you are in treatment for the depression. Probably the celiac disease kicked off the depression plus all the other hormone fluctuations too. I have had depression for most of my life and will always take meds for it. You may be able to get off the meds after a year or so. Keep taking care of yourself, love.

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    1. Thanks Connie. Yes, the depression is a direct result of the coeliacs disease. I never realised that coeliacs could have such far reaching consequences - I just though I'd have to not eat gluten and I'd be fine. Anyway, I know better now. Thanks for the support xxx

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  16. Always with you from afar Beccie ! Take it easy for once, don't demand too much of yourself, depression is not to be taken lightly. It's a blessing that you are surrounded by a very loving and caring family who supports you come what may. And if you miss a day blogging you miss it end of, your health comes first :) Hugs from Spain xxx

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  17. I read your posts all the time and don't comment too often but I love the work you do! You are so inspiring with your sewing and you will inspire many with your honesty here too.
    I wish you all the best and hope you feel more 'normal' soon. Your positive attitude will work wonders. Hugs from across the globe x

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    1. Thanks Claire. Every day is a new opportunity to be better xxx

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  18. Beccie--I just started reading your blog and loving it and recommended it to my cousin and my co-workers daughter as an example of the wonderful things people are doing out there. I am sorry to hear about the challenges your facing and overcoming. Your openess and honesty about it will help others who might think they are alone. It's definitely a "one day at a time" road to recovery. My wish is that your road is filled with roses, laughter, love, kisses and kittens and all things good. love from eagle rock, calif.

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    1. Hi Michael - thanks for sharing my blog with people you know! One of the things that I love most of all about this blog is the opportunity to inspire others :) Thanks for the love and best wishes xxx

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  19. Hope you feel better soon! We have mental problems in my extended family, and I am so blessed that my mother refused to let this be a stigmatized by her kids. Her very upfront attitude about her own struggles have helped me immensely in life. Anti-depressants are more likely to work if you have sufficient Folic acid intake. Thanks so much for sharing your struggles and passion for sewing!!!

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    1. Three cheers for your mother Lindylinda! And thanks for the tip about the folic acid. That is one of the things being tested in my latest round of blood tests, so we'll see if it needs a top up. xxx

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  20. Hello Beccie,
    I'm sorry you have not been feeling yourself but hope you feel you are on your way to feeling better.
    I wanted to share with you this link for a free pattern as I thought you might like it (although it is not a suit! Sorry, I don't mean to feed your dress addiction.): http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/1486_couture/create.php

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    1. Hey I love a free pattern - thanks for pointing it out Charlotte :)

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