Tag Archives: depression

GLAD

I have signed up to the GLAD Study – the largest of its kind in mental health to try to understand associations between genes and depression/anxiety.

I am someone who professionally has been on the “other side of the fence” for decades – trying to recruit people, and the right type of people, to studies in attempts to help patients and further scientific knowledge. Thus I understand the need to sign up to studies, if one is eligible and I do so whenever appropriate.

I also have a very personal interest in the study – my mental health problems in recent years relating to anxiety and depression are no secret. I could probably write a patient’s guide on most antidepressants and types of talk therapy! I am in a relatively good place at the moment…..but I was only able to navigate the tortuous process of trying a multitude of treatments over a necessarily long period because I am self-employed and was always able to schedule my work in a manner that ensured I provided 100% in my work…..even though it often led to difficulties in the non-work arena.

Many people are not as fortunate – they have no flexibility in their life to undergo such tortuous “suck it and see” approaches to treatment. The GLAD study may ultimately make life easier for all of us – if we begin to understand what medications and other interventions are more or less likely to work in what patients, based on their genetic makeup, then much human misery may be avoided.

I have a purely personal desire, too, that some older treatments are rediscovered, along with the facts their side effect profiles are not half as bad as many young doctors have been taught!

In a hostage situation, shoot the hostage

I write this after consulting widely and with a heavy heart. But the truth be told, there isn’t another viable option.

I have a severe mental illness.

In Australia I was diagnosed with (severe) clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder.
I am not at liberty to divulge the familial associations, but truth be told, there was a not insignificant chance I might suffer from depression and/or anxiety. But, if familial history is anything to go by, not until my 60s. Unfortunately certain issues – which I am unable to refer to for legal reasons – during my time in Australia caused me to suffer from severe depression and anxiety early, in my 40s.

I spent several years seeing a psychiatrist, trying every SSRI, SNRI, TCA, MAOI, atypical antidepressant and every anti-anxiety medication there is. Largely to no avail. I thought I had a combination (SNRI + pregabalin) that solved both problems when I moved to Sweden. I thought I was A-OK and ready to hit the ground running again. Alas no.

Both problems reappeared pretty quickly after moving here in early January 2015. Plus I seemed to cycle between depressed and elevated states…..classical indicator of bipolar disorder. I had ruled this out as I never (and have never) experienced the classic “mania” of bipolar. But it turns out that there is Type 2 Bipolar (of which I hadn’t been aware) in which instead of full blown mania the patient experiences “hypomania” (“sort of but not complete” mania). I found one of the main clinical questionnaires for this and I almost definitely suffer this – so when I troll on Twitter or my Blog, have 15 brilliant ideas during a half-day, accept 10 major reviewing tasks, or simply be an argumentative sh!t, then the chances are you have caught me in a hypomanic phase.

Sorry.

Plus hypomania causes risk-taking behavior. Yes, some of you have seen me do that too. It feels exquisite at the time. But it is simply me pulling the trigger more slowly.

So, I am simply making some observations and requests.
(1) Accessing adequate mental health services in Sweden has not been easy for me. I have had to being honest about my mental health to people I would otherwise not have done so.

(2) Please bear with me, when it comes to all the “unpaid but unspoken” bits of academia, like refereeing. I will probably have to refuse all of these. It is hard enough doing my day job.

(3) To those who think I have been a sh!t to them on twitter. Sorry. Maybe I was hypomanic. Or maybe you are actually a moron. If you make the effort to attend one of my courses you can learn which. I put 200% effort into those and people love them.

But finally, I just wanted to say I am very very scared, and have no idea whether my career goals are still possible. I know I am bloody good at my job, but I also don’t know if that means much when I often spend 2 days in every week lying in bed virtually comatose, when episodes of Grey’s Anatomy make me cry uncontrollably, and when I find myself nodding vigorously at that article explaining that the leading cause of death among men in their 40s is suicide.
So please bear with me.