Title: Living with depression/ptsd as a single mum
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(Date Posted:16/07/2011 5:26 PM)
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Hi, I just realised that the Ouch message board has closed but glad to see this one has opened up. I used it a few times before and then left because it was difficult for me to post at the time. Thanks for opening this one.
I am a single mum with with depression and what I think is ptsd but I don't know my diagnosed due to the fact my doctor would not disclose it. But I have had problems since my teens and I am now in my 30s. I am unsupported because basically I am in a difficult situation where I have no next-of-kin or carer and the mental health services and SS disappeared long ago when they realised they could get away with it.

Although I feel depressed from time to time at the moment I feel worn down in general from years of isolation due to health problems. I meet people all the time but I do not have many friends as people just do not understand why I am unable to do things sometimes then not at others. I struggle a lot with my short term memory at times. I do not understand why as no one has explained this to me but as you can imagine it makes me come across as stupid or rude. I am familiar with my symptoms as it has been many years and I accept myself as I am but I feel it is so isolating being me at the moment. Being a mum doesn't make it much easier as people treat me as if I am just horrible to my son despite the fact I struggle every single day to do normal everyday things. 

Now I am at the point of my life when I just sit and think that the quality of my life is so bad I don't know what to do. I work part-time because I have no choice but I do admit it gives me something to do so I look forward to it. But I don't socialise in anyway because I am so tired of trying to explain all my faults like the short term memory problems, anxiety, depression eg. as people tend to get a bit fed up with me. I don't have much money and my time is restricted but I feel so fed up of just being on my own or alone in a crowd of people I have to be around for whatever reason. I'd like to make some friends who I can socialise with rather than be the odd woman people actively avoid. At the moment I feel so useless and like a failure because everything is so hard for me but because I am a mother I think people assume everything must be alright when in fact it is the opposite. It just means I get bullied more by people like the SS and ignored by other parents but cannot cope with trying to go to any mental health support groups as they seem to assume you have a carer and never that you are one.

Any thoughts?
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RE:Living with depression/ptsd as a single mum
(Date Posted:17/07/2011 7:25 AM)

Hello humanbeen

I'm sorry to hear that you are having such a tough time.  I'm a single mum too, though my son is all grown up now and has "left home".    I work for a University as a Diversity Advisor (Equal Opportunities) and I have a degree in psychology, but I'm not a qualified therapist!

Reading your post it seems to me that there are several issues, these are not in any particular order:

you are feeling lonely and in need of some additional social contact.   Is there a single mums group in your area?  Or maybe a branch of "Gingerbread"?    They have a website   http://www.gingerbread.org.uk/   which has some useful information.   Your health visitor may be able to put you in touch with some other single mums too.  There are often posters for such groups at local GP surgeries and libraries - and if there isn't a group, why not start one?

And when you get there for the meeting or whatever, rather than worrying about your own differences, try to concentrate on the other people - take a real interest in them, ask them about themselves.

Another possibility is to look into voluntary activities - even if it is just providing a bit of companionship for a lonely older person in your area, that's still a help.  I used to fetch library books and stuff for a delightful older lady.

I think you should press your doctor to know what your diagnoses are, after all, it's YOUR health, you are entitled to know.  If necessary, invest the £10 needed (that's the max they can charge under the Data Protection Act) to make a request for a copy of your records.  Once you know your diagnoses you can press your doctor for some active treatment - e.g. if you do have PTSD as well as depression, you might benefit from some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy if it is available from the NHS in your area.    Even if it's not, available on the NHS as it is a short course of treatment, not long term therapy,  you could consider saving up to get private treatment - the cost would be likely to be around £750-£1000 for a course of treatment.   It does not promise a complete cure, the idea is to help you to develop better ways to cope.  You can find a private therapist through the British Psychological Society website at www.bps.org.uk 

If you are finding that the MH services are not supporting you, then you might want to consider getting an Advocate to help you - for example http://www.matrixsdt.com/  is based in the Surrey area, but there are others in other parts of the country, see if your local Mental Health organisations  or Library have any information about advocacy services.   Basically their job is to agree with you what you want to achieve (e.g. what help you want from local services) and then to help you to achieve it.

The short term memory problem is something that perhaps your doctor should help you to look into:  this can have various causes and it can sometimes be a feature of depression or a side effect of the medications, but there are other causes too, such as previous head injury and various other things.   But also,  sometimes a neuropsychologist can suggest ways to help improve use of the memory you do have.

I hope all that's helpful. regards, Deb

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Re:Living with depression/ptsd as a single mum
(Date Posted:17/07/2011 9:08 AM)

 What Deb said, plus try Mind for groups you might benefit from, especially if you can't get the NHS services to prioritise your needs.

There are no restrictions on who can benefit from Mind groups and lots of people, regardless of diagnosis (or without a diagnosis) can benefit from support with things like low self esteem, poor confidence and anxiety management. (I was until recently a mental health clinician and have used the techniques on myself, so I know that they can work!).

You can find your local Mind offices using google and the site will tell you what kinds of groups are available in your area, and what you need to do to apply. Sometimes there is a small charge, but they try to be very understanding of folk on low incomes and can make accommodations. You will be offered an appointment with a psychologist to discuss what you would like to work on and which groups will work for you.

Many people struggle with the idea of working on stuff in groups, but they are very non-confrontational, maintain confidentiality with rigorous ground rules and you don't ever need to disclose anything you don't want to share with other group members. The facilitators will never judge you and they try to make the classes as enjoyable as possible. I have known people who have told me how much they benefited from attending, being able to use the techniques they have learned for years to come. 

On the subject of poor short term memory: This can stem from being depressed or anxious (the more stressed we are the more likely we are to forget stuff) and is a very common symptom. It can also in itself be a side effect of anti-depressant or other medication. And it is a side effect of normal aging as well. The only way to deal with it (apart from making lists etc) is to try not to let it worry you on top of everything else.  
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RE:Living with depression/ptsd as a single mum
(Date Posted:21/07/2011 9:50 PM)

Thanks devineDeb and Darrowsgirl for your replies.
I'm in a frustrating situation where I don't get the help I need because I have no carer or next of kin to act as an advocate. I've found myself in the position of having to defend myself to avoid having my child taken into care or just being generally harassed regularly. It seems that there is no obligation to treat us as a family so that my caring duties are ignored or threatened. So I find it difficult dealing with doctors or social workers. Even though they are supposed to help me it is easier for them to cover their backs and watch their budgets so they do.

I also don't like to take medication as I feel I have no control over the dosage or the medication. After several years different types of medication that felt unsuitable and often the doses were too high. I got fed up of being my worries being dismissed when I realised there were negative reactions rather than relief. I tend to feel suicidal at times, sometimes I do because of my situation but I also do when I have periods of depression. Normally I don't act on it because I am too exhausted to do so. However whilst I was taking anti-depressants I found myself feeling suicidal more often and I actually was able to attempt it on several occasions. I realise now that all my suicide attempts happened whilst I was on medication so I am reluctant to take medication and prefer alternative methods. I have also had a few different types of talking therapy including psychotherapy. I did it privately because I realised I needed to cope without medication and  I couldn't get it through my GP. I think I'm at the point that I recognise my problems just need some support to live with them.

I think the voluntary idea is a good one. I don't have much time and I did do voluntary work for a few organisations in the past. I don't feel up to that due to time but the befriending thing is a good idea. I sort of already did that without realising so I think it is something to do that I didn't really think of.

Voluntary organisations like Mind seem to work according to the area you live in. Unfortunately I live in an area where they don't seem to do very much. I've asked to go to a neighbouring borough that seems to be more useful but they only accept members by postcode. In my borough I have given up completely. Most of their activities are aimed at people who are a lot less independent.

Although I'm fed up with my GP I think it may well be a good idea to find out my diagnosis and find out if there may be a cause for the short term memory loss because my first major breakdown was after I was physically assaulted but was not able to seek help. When I came in to contact with the mental health services I did talk about it but no one listened. They treated anything I said as if it didn't matter. So that including my observations of the effects of my medication got ignored. At the moment I feel worried that I may have been mis-diagnosed and could also be affected from an previous head injury.

I think at the moment I can do the befriending thing but for everything else I need an advocate. So far I only know of mind and there is another local charity but they would not be useful as they just stopped working with me one day because they didn't think I needed help. Now that I am not taking medication and would like to continue without it I am not sure whether I fit the criteria for help as it is. Please let me know if you have any ideas for advocacy workers who work nationally or across boroughs as I think it would make the difference whether I get what I need if there was someone there with me or able to at least write and support me.

Thanks for the replies.

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RE:Living with depression/ptsd as a single mum
(Date Posted:22/07/2011 7:09 AM)

Just wanted to send you some smiley97's and welcome you to the board.  This is an excellent place for advice, or just for someone to talk to :)
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Re:Living with depression/ptsd as a single mum
(Date Posted:22/07/2011 3:18 PM)

 hello again humanbeen

A previous head injury could certainly be the cause of any memory difficulties - but it depends on how serious it was...

I found at least one service which appears to be national:


You can also use an internet search engine and just type in "Advocacy Services" to find one in your area; you could also ask local Citizen's Advice Bureau:  or ask local Centre for Independent Living or Disability Advice organisation.  Your local Council may have an Access officer who may know of a local service.

The problem about not being treated as a family: that certainly is not right.  Please look up the British Institute for Human Rights on http://www.bihr.org.uk/  and have a look at the right to family life stuff in their Changing Lives guide.
regards,. Deb
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