Feeling blue / depression

With hindsight ...........

Although with hindsight it is felt that mental health issues stem from a turbulant childhood ( involoving social services, adoption aged 6 and divorce of my adopted parents aged 15) , my problems did not really become apparent until a pretty severe bout of post natal depression that was left untreated.

My son Freddy was born in the UK in June 2000 and we returned to France in the July. Living in a very isolated spot, renovating our home and caring for a new born – I knew I didn't 'feel right' despite visting the UK to see the health visitor in the autumn of that year.

I continued struggling, even getting worse as my then husband would constantly emotionally abuse me, for 6 years. In 2006 I finally saw a médecin generaliste, who prescibed anti depressants and anti anxiety medication. Sadly 2 weeks later, and still receiving a lot of abuse from my husband including that I was obliged to stay with him as I would never be able to make a go of things on my own in France, I reached rock bottom and saw no way out. I overdosed on the prescribed medication and found myself at the urgences departement.

Although it didn't seem like it at the time, the fact my husband filed for divorce the next day and I was not able to 'go home' was a blessing in disguise. Whilst awaiting a place with the CHRS (centre d'herbergement et reinsertion sociale ) I was sent to a psychiatric hospital . With specialist doctors on hand, my diagnosis of severe depression and anxiety was made and measure taken for a continued aid once I left the hospital.

For 10 years now I have been seeing the equivelent of a cpn and a pyshciatrist at the CMP (centre médico psychologique ) . There have been ups and downs, good times, bad times. Following a miscarriage in 2010, the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder was made and a year later Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The continued aid from the CMP have helped me learn that I will never be 'better' but that I can live with these illnesses. I am currently coping without medication but I have learnt to see the signs of a 'down' cycle and when I need to ask for extra help and not to be ashamed of needing medication.

Suffering from mental illness can be very frightening and alienating – having been a member of a facebook group for mothers suffering from mental health issues, a friend from the States and I decided to set up our own, smaller, support group Harmony Haven 2 years ago.

We prefer to keep the group small, we currently have only 40 members, and friendly. A safe haven for women suffering to chat, distract, rant and ask advice (although we would never remplace a Dr's opinion) https://www.facebook.com/groups/253872898113706/?fref=ts

For help -

English speaking for all over France is SOS Help website is http://www.soshelpline.org/

The SOS Help telephone number is 01 46 21 46 46

For UK The Samaratians http://www.samaritans.org/

Hi Shirley, an important thing I learnt about research was to question both evidence & perspectives, including my own! And Moncrieff's.

My belief is that we are wonderful 'organisms' affected & affecting through sights, sounds, tastes, touches in the creation of our field ('the life-space of an individual'). That sensitivity may change through drugs in every shape & form & multiple other factors.

Cozolino offers the concept of 'social synapses' perhaps connections through which we change in both directions. To bring the theory down to earth, for me that means for example I am adversely affected by the form of my football team, worried about alterations to our fosse septique & the courtyard etc. Minor details in one sense. However, there is power in the idea, in that, we can change positively if we wish through healthy connections like Helen's Facebook page, with animals, people, drinks, SFN, food, gods, music & the only limits are our imagination.

This maybe all sounds a bit fanciful when considering the plight of people in Syria & elsewhere & the state of those refugee camps in Calais & the daily loss of life of would-be escapees. However, even there people are reaching out to help, maybe a drop in the ocean, BUT still making a positive difference to those giving & receiving.

For me the idea that we can learn to change our own reality through what we do is magic. A practical personal example Is coping with pins being pulled from the Ilizarov Frame around my shattered tib & fib & using a self-hypnosis & breathing techique, not forgetting the cuppa tea & codeine phos & paracetamol of course!

All the best,


I totally agree with that passage Roger - my father was also a physchoanalyst wether before or after he was a probation officer I don’t remember. Whether he was employed in that field before he moved back to Scotland but I know he used talk to/ interview prisoners at Dartmoor and also Barlinnie. He ended up as Sec Gen of SACRO there.

He was employed by the Home Office in England and was a Probation Officer either before or after utilizing his skills as a P A.

I hope I learnt Lot about analysing from him in both our latter years when we used to have long Saturday afternoon chats on the phone. Sadly that was when I was also in the middle of screwing up my life. With age comes Wisom - I hope.

I do know I am currently vehemently against the use of psychotic drugs of whatever sort - and as a non professional I class Antidepressants amongst those! They do more damage to other internal organs than helping the brain! I now analyse medications from a medical and physical health viewpoint not an emotional one.

Looking after our hormonal and endocrine systems will benefit our health better! It’s the right blood tests that will give us the answers to what we lack and need to add to our bodies and therefore benefit our brains with their neurological and physchological benefits.

Hi Helen,

In the UK I worked as a UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy) Registered Psychotherapist & Doctor of Integrative Psychotherapy Practice. My co-research thesis was into the Phenomenology (totality of experience) of Madness & Spirituality & the Implications for Practice with those professionals who have experience of both states, as I have.

Part of research outcome is that one of the steps on the bridge to healthy change/Recovery is perhaps Sanctuary. Indeed we are in the process of establishing our personal sanctuary & perhaps in future a professional sanctuary.

If you or anyone wishes to read that Doctoral Thesis I will glady email a copy if you back channel your email address. I also have a website that has a lot of self-help info freely available-I won't give it here in case I get turned into a pumpkin for advertising. I am en retraite/sabbatical at the moment, but happy to offer a free Skype chat.

All the best,


PS As a taster or maybe to put you off (!)

"Moncrieff (2008, p. 217, 218) emphasises something oft hese issues

The data surveyed in this book suggest that psychiatric drug treatment is

currently administered on the basis of a huge collective myth; the myth that

psychiatric drugs act by correcting the biological basis of psychiatric

symptoms or diseases. We have seen that for the three main classes of drugs

used in psychiatry there is no evidence to substantiate this view…"

Moncrieff, J. (2008) The Myth of the Chemical Cure A Critique of Psychiatric

Drug Treatment. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Thank you all for your replies . It's good to see people talking honestly about mental health.

Shirley that sounds like an awful experience - I'm very lucky in that my psychiatrist at the CMP is excellent and doesn't just throw pills at me - I've been seeing the same psychiatrist and cpn for about 6 years now, so they know me well. Before we resort to pills again both he and she are more type to mush for extra talking therapy .

I also, when living in town, used to be a member of Advocacy Basse Normandie which is a sort of drop in centre. We would regularly have 'ateliers' or trips out, all in the aim of combatting isolation .

Once my husband feels ready to talk openly about it, I will also be writting on what it is like to live with someone with bipolar

I’d like to wish you well also with your venture Helen. Safe havens are often or sometimes needed, not only by women either! Mental health issues - that’s what they all are - with many and varied causes in this day and age. I know there are a few of us on SFN who for our own various reasons and causes of, have spoken out, just as John tonight and to find people who understand what goes in the brain when it happens to them, as well, is actually a comfort and relief.

We all get sympathy from family and friends for a few days or weeks - Then those friends, family even, carry on with their lives - while people like us, John, Peter and others included, are left with emotions and effects that never truly go away,and we are never again really the people we were before. We lead lives that plaster over the cracks! But the stress and long term memories in whatever form, are still there, doing what they will to physical health also!

Somehow though I think so often doctors are as bad or worse - take these pills they say! EG They hope they’ve picked the right anti-depressant or whatever and you’ll be as right as rain! You are right though Helen, it’s the practical help that is needed to get on the right track.

After my move up here and sign on with the Doctor, his idea of neurological help 2 years ago for my BI effects, of walking, speech, vision, hearing - lack of appetite being the worst and still is, was to send me to see a Neurologist - who looked well past retirement age, asked me to walk up and down his 12ft long room, to add up 3 numbers which I got wrong at first attempt and corrected myself, then I’ll never forget this - asked me who the British Prime Minister was - er David Cameron. That was the extent of my neurological assessment, and he wrote and told my doctor I was fine! It wasn’t till March 2015 my vision was sorted because the doc kept forgetting to apply to the hospital Opthalmology dept to give me a RDV, despite my neurosurgeon had said recommened in his letter that I see one. I saw an optician in UK summer 13 and had new glasses. But the whole time my sight was deteriorating more and more rapidly, my left eye especially, the side of my brain most affected. So life for me is full of frustration, not depression I’m relieved to say.

Some have the strength to sort themselves and their lives out eventually, but yes a helping hand is certainly needed, whatever the causes and circumstances, so again I applaud you and your friend for setting up your Harmony Haven and wish you much success!

I would just add I tried soshelpline not long after I arrived up here, and the lady who I spoke to lived so far away from me distance wise it was going to cost me a small fortune for her time and mileage plus a more than once visit, may well have been necessary, so I didn’t progress matters with her because it wasn’t emotional help or depression that I’d phoned for.

I dont know if you saw it or not but on Thursday evenings on 9pm BBC4 there is programme called The Brain it’s a 6 part series, pt 2 was last night and Explained about what controlled what and makes us the people we are! I look forward to seeing the next 4.

Good luck Helen, I know it’s very difficult. My late wife suffered from bouts of severe depression for twenty years before she died two years ago at only 53. I was distraught when she died and ended up suffering from depression and anxiety myself. I’m sort of over it now but it gave me a real insight into what my wife had been battling for all those years. I was always supportive but I wish I had understood then as I do now.

I went through a really bad patch during a bad marriage and menopause at the same time and completely cracked up. I have discovered an amazing remedy when one starts to feel low - alfalfa tablets. If you want to know more email me as I am travelling at the moment. sue.stanley27@yahoo.co.uk