Hello there!

My name is Paul.

Evidently I can't, but you can either imagine me giving you a wave, smile, and perhaps a shake of the hand if you so wish!

I'm a twenty-two year old Briton living in Cardiff, Wales. I suspended my university studies in February '09 due to an intensifying and recurring bout of clinical/'major' depression that started in January '06.

Diagnosis summary ____________________________

To briefly explain what I'm going through, allow me to quote from a letter from a consultant psychiatrist, who I see every two-or-so months.

"Mr Tinworth's personality structure has changed over the past several years. He suffers from a variety of psychological problems, including Social Anxiety Disorder, Recurrent Depressive Episode, and Chronic Depression, or Dysthymia."

I sincerely wish I didn't have to type the last two paragraphs, believe me.

Symptoms ____________________________

I'll admit from the outset that I do not possess an iron will, nor am I easily able to find and keep myself motivated. The reason I left university was because I was simply too tired and stressed to continue; assignments of all kinds took gigantic effort and were often late or incomplete, and any form of presentation or group work led to panic attacks. By the time I left (technically half-way through my fourth year of attendance), I had already attempted to re-take a year of study twice, and still I had not finished the second year of study for a three year undergraduate degree. The frustration was too great to bear.

    On a day-to-day basis:

  • My already less-than-perfect memory is greatly hindered. I sometimes lose track of what I'm saying mid-sentence and have to ask to be prompted. Very embarrassing!

  • I am mostly coherent, but I struggle to find words when I speak. This is a source of unease for me, as I pride myself (perhaps arrogantly) on my ability to articulate.

  • Tasks of all magnitudes (laundry, phone calls, leaving the house to post a letter, shopping, etc) appear to be huge obstacles, which sometimes lead to unnecessary panic. My diet suffers because I often don't have the energy to cook for myself, and being given more than one thing to do at any one time causes me confusion.

  • My sleeping pattern is easily thrown off-course. Some times I can't sleep. On particularly bad/'down' days, I've been known to stay in bed all day until I am desperate to use the bathroom, only to return afterwards. I am, however, making progress with this!

  • I experience quick and visible mood-swings, sometimes including anxiety or paranoia. There've been too many social - and work - situations where I've simply left to escape and be by myself. In rare occurrences I will be entirely consumed by anger, but the majority of mood-swings either result in blankness or sadness. These changes of mood occur at least twice a day in no particular order.

  • Strenuous physical activity wears me out extremely quickly, usually accompanied with bouts of dizziness and/or light-headedness - I might get a maximum of fifteen minutes before I have to stop and sit down. My blood pressure and vitamin counts are, strangely enough, quite normal for someone of my age and build.

Perhaps the most infuriating aspect of this - aside from the fact that it's ruling my life - is that I have no acute/recurring social or environmental factors in my life that might typically lead to such a condition. I have a supportive family who support me both in person and financially, and the simple fact is that I have probably had a much more fortunate upbringing than the majority of my friends and peers.

Medicinal treatment ____________________________

Over the course of the last three years I've been prescribed various SSRI anti-depressants all increasing doses. The last SSRI prescribed to me was Sertraline (Prozac), which lead me to the darkest phase of my life thus far; I was regularly plagued with suicidal fantasies, despite having strong personal views against the act itself. To experience such a horrific chain of thoughts is bad enough without finding yourself on the other side of your beliefs!

As of November '08, I was finally referred to a psychiatrist, who took me off of SSRIs and put me on a SNRI called Duloxetine, which I've had several different dosages.

I currently take 60mg of Duloxetine and 100mg of Modafinil, the latter being an analeptic to help me against my constant fatigue.

Alternative treatment ____________________________

I have had several different periods of counselling, both via the NHS and privately, and it is my honest opinion that I've let it run its course. I'm not against it at all, but it does get a little embarrassing when I turn up to a session and have run out of things to discuss aside from idle chatter!

After much hassle, my psychiatrist agreed that there might be a biological aspect to my condition rather than a social one, so, under the care of a psychologist, I've undergone a small batch of aptitude tests. These only served to confirm (as much as these tests can) the symptoms I've already described.

I am currently seeing a therapist who specialises in clinical hypnotherapy (with which I've had success with as a young teenager for something entirely unrelated), neuro-linguistic programming, and cognitive behavioural therapy. I try to keep an open mind, and I am finding that I'm able to cope slightly better in social situations, possibly because of those sessions.

Enough of that! ____________________________

That's probably the most objective information I've ever typed about myself, so I'm feeling very self-conscious now!

If what I've written above doesn't suggest it already, I should say I'm a fairly open person about the subject of mental health. If anyone wants to discuss it, be it general conversation or specific to you or me, then I'm quite comfortable to do so. Feel free to send me a message/reply. :)

Thanks for reading, and take care!

~ Paul