D is for Depression

This blogpost was originally posted on The Pandora Box Gift Company website.

Something a little bit different today. I tried writing a post about depression, whilst not feeling great. Instead of my usual full blogpost, all I could manage was this. I feel that it shows how depression can effect you.

Depression drowns and drains you.

Rids you of yourself.

Self confidence becomes a thing of the past.

Colours and light darken and grey.

This world is not meant for me.

It’s a place where everyone else is happy.

Usually I’d say I don’t deserve this,

But lately I don’t feel like I deserve anything.

No-one can get to me

I’m lost in this dark silent void

But don’t worry my friend,

there is still hope.

A little light that shines dimly in the distance

it shows me the way out of this.

Eventually I will make it.

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The day I started a company.

Earlier this year, I was sitting in my room, staring at my laptop fixating on things that might help me get out of this horrible depressive episode I had once again found myself in. I was constantly refreshing websites every few seconds, trying to find anything new that might distract myself as much as possible. When that got boring I’d move on to emails, the odd funny cat picture and then back to refreshing. It was one of those endless loops I’d usually find myself in. Trying to break this cycle, I tried searching for something I could buy myself that might make me feel better. A gift that was focused on me and my mental health. One that said “I know Lisa, it sucks right now, but here, have this. And see if it makes you feel any better.” The only problem was, when I typed in “mental health” and “gift boxes” in the same search, there weren’t very many results.

It was at that point that I decided to start my own company. I don’t know whether it was a brief stint of hypomania after the depression, or whether I was just annoyed that I didn’t have chocolate in the house, but I came up with the idea of packaging and selling gift boxes for people with poor mental health. Gift boxes that would try and provide some comfort when you’re not feeling great.

I spent the next six months putting together items that I thought people would like to receive and trying to build what would hopefully be a business that would help people. Then on the 25th of September I launched The Pandora Box Gift Company, the gift giving service with a focus on mental wellbeing.

www.thepandoraboxgiftcompany.com

The website has a range of items that have been put together with the simple idea that they will hopefully lift the mood of whoever receives them. Each of the gift boxes has been designed with a range of different products to help someone’s mood, all based on how I try and help myself when I’m feeling low.

The first is the Bath Set Gift Box. This box focuses on taking some time for yourself, relaxing and helping yourself to calm down, leading to a calmer, more settled mind. I can definitely vouch for the amazing effect a simple scented bath can have on your mood.

bath set full

The second is the Treat Set Gift Box. Packed full of chocolate, biscuits, bars and tea bags, these are all items that I find comforting when I need a little pick me up. Not only does it act as a treat, but it ensures that whoever receives it has access to some food. I usually find my willingness to get food for myself or cook goes right out the window when my mood drops.

food full set

The third is the Puzzle Set Gift Box. I find that when I do a simple task such as reading, drawing or completing a puzzle, I can distract my mind for a little bit and help calm myself down or distract myself from the thoughts that are effecting my mood. I’ve added a colouring book, a crosswords puzzle, a 3D wooden puzzle and a pack of playing cards to cover a multitude of activities that someone may want to do.

puzzle set full

The last gift box is the Combo Set Gift Box. This has all the contents of both the Bath Set and Treat set in one, giving someone the option to rest and relax and then treat themselves afterwards.

combo full set

All gift boxes come with a small information card that has important numbers and contacts for mental health services and information of what to do in a non-urgent and urgent mental health situation.

If anyone is actually out there, and still reads this blog, I hope you like the website and the idea. I really want this to be something that will help people around the country and give them a little mood boost when they need it.

To follow what we’re doing, please Like the official facebook page www.facebook.com/thepandoraboxgiftcompany

An introduction

   It’s always the deeply personal subjects that most of us are too afraid to talk about, which is a shame because once you put it out there I guarantee you’ll find people who are going through the exact same thing. If not, you’ll just end up teaching someone about your situation meaning they’re no longer ignorant to it. Result! So when it came to my newly diagnosed mental health issue, I wanted everyone to know. Not in a weird way where I’m grabbing people off the street, forcing them to listen and then making them answer a quiz about it at the end, I just  wouldn’t be afraid to drop it into conversation. But when it came down to it, I found myself missing out some of the harsh, upsetting, or just plain outrageous, details. At the end of the day, they still got some understanding but without those little chunks of info that I kept missing out, they’d never fully get it. That is when I decided to write a blog. A blog where I can just write about all the different aspects of my life which have been effected by my mental health. I’ve actually “decided” to write this about 4 times now…. Here goes nothing!

  For the past six years, I had always found myself switching from extremely low moods to extremely high, sometimes in the space of just an hour. When I was at school I had the excuse of being a teenager and having to deal with the stress of school work. At university, I had the excuse of being in a new environment, having lots of things happen around me and of course, uni work. But when I finished university and had a brief spell of unemployment, I ran out of excuses. In a week where I would do nothing at all, my mood would fluctuate rapidly. It scared me. I would be so low that I couldn’t get out of bed and then suddenly so high, all I wanted to do was go out, drink loads and find as many guys as I could to sleep with. Finally, in October, I couldn’t take it anymore. I sat in my room feeling the worst I have ever felt in my life and surrounded myself with paracetamol pills in the vain hope that, if I took them, I would get a break. I wouldn’t say I necessarily wanted to kill myself but I did want to be hospitalised. Taken away from real life and given the freedom to be considered too ill to function normally. Thankfully, I was stopped. My secret was now out there. I couldn’t hide these mood swings from anyone anymore. That is when I finally got some help.  

  7 months later and I’m writing this. I’m on 75mg of Quetiapine a day, with a diagnosis of Cyclothymia. The drugs haven’t completely stopped the mood swings (In fact I’ve just come down after a week of hypomania) but they do help take the edge off of them. They give me a slightly clearer head so I can identify when my mood is changing and think of ways to help improve the situation. I will be starting CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) soon with the aim to be weaned off the drugs when the time is right. This could take up to a year to happen which is annoying but nothing is an instant fix when it comes to mental health. I’m also using the internet to try and help keep a visual graph of my mood that I can refer to, www.moodscope.com, and a safe space where I can talk to others in a similar situation, www.elefriends.org.uk. (check it out if you feel like you need somewhere to talk!)

  Well, there you go! A little introduction for you. I have no idea how often I’ll be blogging so I guess all I can say is watch this space and thanks for reading. For anyone that wants more information on Cyclothymia or other mental health issues, here’s the Mind website: http://www.mind.org.uk/mental_health_a-z