Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Rhino, The Quicksand and The Badger - Part three.

It was the beginning of July 2010 that we started our next placement. I was assigned to be with a Health Visitor for 8 weeks. Nursing students do not get typical student holidays, our course is more like a job except you are being paid much less than everyone else. I phoned in before we were due to start as to find out who my mentor was and what hours I would be doing. I found out that my mentor was on holiday in the Dominican Republic for a couple of weeks. Well that was another great start to a placement, my first two mentors were part time so I barely saw them and now this mentor was on holiday. How well organised of her. I was feeling very anxious and fragile about starting this placement, it was in an area I didn't know very well and technically not the most pleasant of neighbourhoods. In fact, Raoul Moat was from around there. (I don't want to mention the name as Nursing Students can get in trouble for that sort of thing.) However, this wasn't my main concern, what really bothered me was getting there. The most anxious part of the day for me is getting ready to leave the house and actually getting to the placement. Fortunately, on this placement I was not doing Long Days but 9-5.

The other Health Visitors decided to change my mentor to someone else, she was very friendly and kind. Just after a couple of house visits and driving around with her, made me realise what an understanding and caring person she was. I felt like I had an adopted mother at work. She was amazingly calm and approachable so about two days into working with her, I told her I had depression. I felt I needed to tell her because I had only been put on Fluoxetine (prosac) recently and it usually takes at least about a month to start noticing a difference in your mood. Personally, I didn't react well to Fluoxetine. The side effects I got from taking them, I would say made me feel worse. Everyone reacts differently to different drugs but prosac just wasn't for me. Previously, I had had problems with excess sleeping and wanted to sleep all the time, now that I was on prosac I was waking up very early, I was restless and fidgety. As well as this, my appetite decreased significantly, I wasn't interested in food at all. I remember my mum putting a roast dinner in front of me, I felt like it was so much effort to even pick up the fork but I had one mouthful and couldn't be bothered. I felt repulsed by food which was incredibly out of the ordinary for me.

I had always had a problem with my self esteem but it plummeted while I was depressed. I found a part of me being pleased that my appetite had decreased as I wanted to lose weight. There were many times where I didn't want to look in the mirror because I found myself repulsive, I wouldn't look in the mirror while getting dressed and I began wearing my baggy hoody and jeans all the time. Ideally I should have washed that hoody more than I did but I didn't care at the time. I took no pride in my appearance if I knew I could avoid it. I would only make an effort if I knew photos would be taken as I cared so much more for what other people thought than what I thought of myself. I knew it wasn't healthy but I didn't really care, eating was too much effort and my anxiety was making me feel sick which made eating even more offputting so it didn't bother me if I lost weight. I would eat when I felt I could but would never force myself. I couldn't cook for myself anymore, I had difficulty making decisions so I wouldn't be able to choose what to cook even if I did have the energy. 

Anyway, on placement when I wasn't distracted by doing visits, I would sit in the office at lunch. My hands would be shaking and clammy, my heart would be racing and I felt like I was constantly trying to fight off a panic attack. There were quite a few days where my mentor would just let me go home as I clearly wasn't fit to be in the workplace. During visits, sitting and staring into space became very difficult not to do. I didn't want to look rude but I couldn't concentrate, so trying to care about other peoples problems and listen to them effectively, trying to give others support was hard. Luckily most of the time people would just need someone to listen to them this is where my non-verbal skills came in so useful, managing to nod my head, holding a hand, facial expressions served me very well during this time. I would have bad days and very bad days. I didn't really have good days at that point. I found it difficult to laugh at jokes, I would pretend out of politeness where I could.

This is an insert from my diary around that time. I have taken certain sentences out as I feel they are too personal to me to reveal but I hope this can give you an insight as to how I was feeling.

4th June 2010

"It's a sunny day which I would usually relish. It's difficult to write this and hard to concentrate. It's beautiful but I don't care. I feel grey, blue, whatever you want to call it. I'm not myself. I should be doing something fun but I'm not. Relaxing in the sun is one of my favourite things to do but it's not enough to make me happy now. Everything seems hopeless, pointless. It comes and goes in severity but never completely leaves. Things I know I would usually love or cheer me up seem worthless and irrelevant. I know their not but I have no joy from them anymore...These past two days  I've been becoming quieter, it's becoming harder not to stare into space and harder to get words out. "


 There was a time when I couldn't remember who I was, I hadn't forgotten any memories I had or what my name was but I couldn't remember what it was like to be myself. My behaviour when depressed was so unlike my true happy self and I was genuinely worried I would never remember that. My friends and family told me everyday that it would get better eventually and all I could do was hope they were right because I really didn't believe them.
I returned to my GP to have a medication assessment, I told him what had been happening and he changed my medication to Citalopram. It has worked incredibly well for me, just like with prosac, it takes a while for you to notice a change in your mood. He wasn't the most understanding doctor and I'd say he is probably just a bit quirky. Not all doctors will understand how you are feeling but most will do what they can to help you. You shouldn't let one bad experience put you off seeking help even if you feel like you've been slapped in the face, I changed my GP during this time because of this and She has been incredibly supportive and caring about my well being. This wasn't the end of my experience with depression and I'm sure it will have to deal with it throughout my life but I started to finally feel better. There was a light at the end of the tunnel which I found impossible to see before then.

Please feel free to comment and/or ask questions. I have been touched by the responses I have had from people who have read The Rhino, The Quicksand and The Badger so far. Thank you for reading!


  1. I had no idea about all of this - or what depression was/is like.

    This is brilliantly written! Really feel like you have given me (and I'm sure others who have taken the time to read it) an insight into what it can be like to live with this.

    You know your cousin is always here if you need him :-D


  2. And reading this comment back I appear to be turning into such a teacher, bad times!


  3. Thank you Michael, only just seen your comments now. I'm glad you found it useful in some way :) and ha yes, you can mark my work for me if you like haha xxxx