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Sunday, 7 June 2015

THE DARK SIDE OF LIFE

There is a side to life that most people go through but rarely want to discus and that's depression and anxiety. Its like the elephant in the room. Being disabled from birth I have found that I bounced back easier then I do these days from it.

I am not saying that disabled people get this more or worse then anyone else but I often find myself wondering how much it dominates other amputees lives. Losing a limb is like nothing else health wise I have been through and grieving is definitely part of that process. Its took me 4 year to be objective and admit that having the second amputation really screwed me up mentally.

At first I thought it would be no different to going through my first amputation when my feet where removed. Couldn't understand why people made a big deal about grieving for the limb and how they found it hard to get past it, not until I had the below knee, then it all made sense. I was so not prepared for what was about to happen to me or how I would feel afterwards.

Therapy and advice was non existing for the second amputation. For the feet I was introduced to a guy who had lost his leg below the knee from an accident at work, nothing like me having my feet removed through necessity. This time though there was nothing. I was not given support before I went in, never mind after it, no one to talk to, I wasn't even put in touch with any one who had been through this for the first time never mind a second time. But hey I would be fine ..right? wrong!
Although the operation went well I found it hard to bring myself to look at the bandages. This just got worse when it was time to remove them. I felt physically sick every time I looked at them. I wouldn't look in a full length mirror nor did I want my photo taken. I wouldn't go out, my friends stopped coming around as often (not sure if it was because of how I was acting or because they did not know how to handle the fact I had no lower legs), I stopped getting invited to go places, nights out and family events as I guess it became more "complicated" to accommodate me or because people did not want a constant reminder of their own mortality. Maybe it was because it would be more trouble then it was worth or they assumed because my legs where gone so had my likes, interests and personality.

I became agoraphobic and having panic attacks at the thought of going out never mind to a new place, not sleeping, moving between binge eating and not eating at all, sleeping all the time and up all night not to mention the crying and mood swings. My weight ballooned and family where non existent for support or help.My mother was dead and my husbands mother helped as much as she could up until her death but when she died we where left afloat on our own and I became more dependent on my two oldest kids and my husband.

I was discharged from hospital with no help put in place. We had to organise the wheelchair our selves, as well as OT to look at adaptions. I had to apply twice and wait over a year to have the bathroom adapted so I could use a toilet instead of a commode and a shower instead of having a bed bath.
Trying times that luckily made me and my husbands marriage stronger if anything and my relationship with my children better. I ended up on anti depressants and having CBT therapy, which I had to do the research for and implement myself.  That is when my life turned around. I found the tools to manage my anxiety, signed up to University and have never looked back !

But not everyone is as strong as me, not everyone has a loving husband and kids who understand and this is when depression can swallow you up like a black whole, never ending and not forgiving.

That's when I thought "is this the same for everyone who goes through an amputation?", "what about people with other disabilities? do they have anything in place".I went back to work 3 month after my amputation, desperate to get back to a "normal" life as quick as possible, this was when things really went down hill ! The medication I was on started having effects on my judgement and I left the job I had as I felt uncomfortable, out of place and discriminated against. Then came the trying to get another job. Not great for a confidence boost, you would be amazed at how many employers will not higher you on the grounds of not having the facility's to cater for some one like me eg an amputee using a wheelchair.

I did find another job but then my other health issues started to raise their ugly heads. My body was in shock and my nervous system was suffering from trauma and working was no longer an option,  I felt at one point that society had basically washed it's hands of me and I no longer had a purpose in life. Yes I had no legs and was in a wheelchair, alright this ended up causing other health issues for me, but surely this can't be it?? There must be something I can do? I can't just spend all day every day on meds that spaced me out watching the days merge into one and time slipping away.

But how many others just accept this? Believe the crap that society feeds them? thinking that because of this their life is over?  This is wrong !! There should be something in place to support and advice people before AND after the operation. People with disabilities should have access to free counselling to help them if and when needed , some one to point them in the right directions for services, help and advice. This is one of the reasons I have started the Psych Twins.

If you are suffering from depression and think whats the point? you are not alone.  You are not the first and wont be the last to go through this, to feel the way you do. You're not "abnormal" for feeling the way you do and do not let anyone make you think you are. Your life is not over!!

Yes am better these days then I was but I still suffer bad days as well as good. There are days when I wonder why I bother and what is the point of getting out of bed. Days when I think to myself " why struggle on painkillers that take the edge off when you can take stronger ones and just let the pain and days/time slip away". I still have times when I cry for no reason or something some one says or does that normally would not bother me makes me despair or break down. Anxiety, stress and panic attacks are still my constant companion but I now have the tools that help, sometimes they still over whelm me but its better then it was. And I still do not like having my photo taken in my wheelchair, but am working on that one lol.

The point of this story is you might ask. I guess the point is, you are not alone, this is normal, don't give up and keep fighting. You are worth it ! If you need to talk or have questions please feel free to contact me.

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