If you had told me three years ago I would be working on a wellbeing project helping others with their struggles around Mental Health I would not have believed you. This time three years ago, my life had gone from being a loving wife, mother of three, professional nurse within critical care, having fulfilled most of my life’s dreams to someone who was determined to destroy themselves in any way possible.
This obviously did not happen overnight, and looking back, I have always had a tendency to act impulsively and irrationally at times, but always thought this was normal and I was just an emotional, passionate person. I knew at times in my life I was struggling with depression but always related it to my menstrual cycle saying, “oh it’s cos I’m due on”.
I was also aware that my mum had suffered with a hormone imbalance, which caused behaviour changes and she had spent many years on hormone replacement therapy.
As a teenager I was a typical tearaway, and really struggled with my identity. Often I would feel like I just changed according to the people around me and didn’t know who the real Lydia was.
I moved to Liverpool in 1999 to work at Alderhey hospital as a staff nurse. I met my husband and we married in 2002 and went on to have three children. After my first child, I suffered with post-natal depression and was started on antidepressants by my doctor. I stopped these once pregnant with my daughter but as soon as I had finished breastfeeding her, I relapsed. In September 2007 I found I was pregnant with my third child Ethan and once again stopped my medication. I still felt that somehow my mood and behaviour changes were linked to my hormones as when I was pregnant or breast feeding I would feel so much better. Once Ethan was born, yet again my thoughts and behaviour were becoming erratic with outbursts of anger and plenty of tears. During the years I had struggled I always managed to maintain an external appearance of a women who balanced, family, work, church and life in general really well. I can remember people often saying to me, “How do you do it all??” Even at work where I held a responsible job as a sister in critical care, no-one had any idea of my internal suffering and the constant struggles I had inside my head. One of the obsessive thoughts I would often have to fight was the fear of something happening to my children. This soon became too close to reality when my youngest son Ethan had a large seizure at home and was diagnosed with epilepsy.
I started to lose separation as to what was real and what was not and began to lose grip on reality. I couldn’t understand what the point of me living was when I couldn’t protect my children. I felt like a failure as a mother and as a nurse as the realisation set in that I couldn’t save everyone. The world felt like an awful place to be and heaven seemed an easy option.
After a serious attempt to take my own life I spent most of the following year in and out of a psychiatric unit and made numerous attempts to end my life. I was eventually diagnosed with bipolar type two disorder and stabilised on medication.
In some ways being ill has given me a new sense of freedom. After all when you have walked through Liverpool in nothing other than a theatre gown with a drip and lots more showing than you would like, being foolish in public now feels quite acceptable.
However, on a serious note, the lows were extremely painful and included numerous attempts to end my life and generally destroy myself in any way possible. Since being diagnosed I have completed a course of cognitive analytical therapy which has helped me to understand why I think the way I do and helped me to recognise and change certain thought patterns I struggle with. I have taken time to understand my illness in order to recognise triggers and signs of me becoming unwell again and have put preventers in place. I do still have to take medication and may have to continue this long term, but my life is worth living and those feelings of despair have gone. I want to take this opportunity to thank my husband; Stuart, Children; Cameron, Rosie, and Ethan, family, and friends for supporting me and loving me through this very difficult time. But ultimately I want to thank God, as he never gave up on me and when I had no fight left in me to live, He carried me through to the next day. God is my hope and foundation for the future.
Key Symptoms I was suffering: Obsessive intrusive thoughts, Catastrophic thinking, paranoia, outbursts of anger, extreme behaviour changes, suicidal tendencies, switching between being very happy and busy to very sad and melancholy.
Symptoms for PMS/PMDD: mood swings, depression, tiredness, fatigue or lethargy, anxiety, feeling out of control, irritability, aggression, anger, sleep disorder, breast tenderness, bloating, weight gain, clumsiness and headaches. Dramatic change in behaviour from ovulation to the onset of a period (7-10 days prior to a period)and complete relief from those symptoms once you have menstruated.
For further help and advice, please go to www.Pms.org.uk
Places I found help: St Andrews Church Clubmoor, Celebrate Recovery Programme, Community Mental Health Team, Merseycare NHS Trust, GP, Family and Friends.
If this story has affected you or you would like any further information on services provided by the wellbeing project, St Andrew’s Community Network, please email; Wellbeing@standrewslive.org.uk.
“I want to give Hope to others suffering from mental health Problems”
My name is Lydia and I currently volunteer for the Wellbeing project in St Andrews Community Network. The project looks to help people within our local community who are struggling with physical, social and mental wellbeing.
The services we currently provide are:
Connect with Lydia: Twitter: @likeablelyd
Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton - From Fame to Prostitution to Advocacy
Hall of Fame Basketball Star Chamique Holdsclaw on Mental Resilience
Diana Nightingale on her husband Earl Nightingale's Principles for Mental Health Success
JoAnn Buttaro on Date Rape & PTSD Survival
Story: Its Never Too Late
Gabe Howard on BiPolar Advocacy
Phil Fulmer on Teen Suicide
Prison, Bipolar and Mania with Andy Behrman
Columbia Univeristy's Dr. Rynn on OCD