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catherine mcwhinnie's Story

I have suffered from anxiety and depression for more than 30 years. I had to give up a promising career. Over the years I've tried everything I could which I thought could help. I read anything I could find on the subject until I came across, at an auction, a very old book written by Mesmer and realised that every modern book I had bought contained nothing more and nothing less than this little original. The condition became much worse over the years and took over my whole life. I had agorophobia and claustrophobia - both of which I managed to cure by myself , with great difficulty, suffering and bravery. I saw a couple of psychiatrists when I was feeling really suicidal but this did not help the overall condition. At one point it was affecting my heart so badly that I went into hospital for several days to see if I had a'boil' on my adrenal gland. This proved negative and I came out worse than ever and with even less hope. However, something happened in the hospital which gave me food for thought. A few weeks later, as suggested by the consultant, I had an appointment with another psychiatrist who was a retired consultant psychiatrist and very experienced. He took me on and taught me self hypnosis and put me on an anti-depressant - Phenalzine. Very slowly I regained some sort of life, but could never get back to work, desperate though I was since I was most definitely a workaholic. I'd been in banking. I did try several part-time clerical jobs but always lasted no more than 2 weeks before I fell apart again. I was taking phenalzine for more than 20 years. It had its bad side effects, but I could live with them easier than with what I had before. I moved to another part of the country and continued with the prescription. The side effects became to bad that, in the latter part of 2008, I decided to stop taking them. The side effects included a not too pleasant personality change which was becoming more and more regular - a Jeckyl and Hyde syndrome which was very distressing to myself and to my beloved family. I felt better for a month or so and then really lost the place. I was really going crazy - all those years of taking a very strong drug I suppose. I finally really went to pieces early in 2009. My husband took me to the emergency department at St John's hospital in Livingston. I was taken to a ward where I stayed for a month or so with very severe depression. That was the first of 4 stays in that ward in 2009. I was given several types of anti depressants and sent home for a while - none of them seemed to work. I then had 6 sessions of E.C.T. but apparently this did not agree with me. Finally I was prescribed Lithium and sent home once again I can't say that I felt all that much better - I would get up in the morning, get washed and dressed, which left me thoroughly exhausted, then lie on the couch until my husband dragged me out for a long walk. Then back on the bed, making a semblance of eating, desperate for bed time. Very luckily, I slept well. Suicidal thoughts rarely left me. I didn't want to commit suicide, but the urge was there. In June 2010 I was as bad as ever and was re-admitted to hospital though this time it was much worse because I'd reached the age of 66 and put into the ward for the aged psychiatric patients. I hastily add that the nurses there said I didn't look and behave as though I should be there, as did the people in my former ward, but rules are rules. The staff in the 'aged' ward didn't know me. I knew that there was something very badly wrong with me, as did my husband and daughter. It transpired that for a week after I was admitted I had Lithium toxicity. I'll go no further with that just now, and get to the point. I got out of hospital in September 2010 with the assurance that I could come back if I felt I needed to. I was given a psychologist, a nurse and appointments with my psychiatrist with whom I'd developed a very good and trusting relationship. In May 2011 I read the article about Benjamin Fry and E.M.D.R. His story was exactly as mine. I had several bad traumas in the past, including being attacked by 2 rottweillers in France on a lonely road just a few months before my first admission to hospital. I bought the book 'Taming the Tiger' and decided to look for a practioner of EMDR. I mentioned this to my psychologist and, much to my surprise, he said that there was an EMDR physologist at St John's hospital. It was arranged for me to see him. I shall relay my results if you wish. I was most interested in Gabrielle's story. I was writing to an ex colleague in Mexico (an ex Banker) and decided to write all about my experiences with anxiety and depression. He and his wife were so taken with what I'd written over a period of 2 years that he suggested we wrire a book about it. I have loads of my written articles - certainly enough for a book. My recent illness of the past couple of years halted it for a bit, but we have recently resumed. I first read your article in May 2011. It mirrored exactly what I had been through.