Another week in lockdown, what else is new?
I had a terrible night’s sleep. I woke up repeatedly and slept fitfully the rest of the time. Surprisingly I felt able to get up when the alarm went off at 7 AM. I have a long week ahead of me at work. I did some admin things in the morning, and at 8:20 AM I went for a walk. You might remember from last year I read about the morning walk idea in Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s book ‘The Four Pillar Plan’ and started implementing it last year with some success. I had fallen out of the habit of it as the year drew to a close. I am trying to bring it back.
I suddenly remembered I needed to phone the Doctor’s surgery to make an appointment, so hurried home. I was able to get through to reception with little wait and explained what I wanted a telephone appointment for. I have decided to try and seek a diagnosis for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (hereafter abbreviated to PMDD) as my mental health and general health greatly changes around key points in my menstrual cycle and I am beginning to find my symptoms hard to cope with.
I managed to get a lot of work done before lunchtime. I had a quick lunch as I was starving and then tried to go on the exercise bike. I was feeling extremely nauseated though and stepped off after 20 minutes. I had taken some paracetamol in the morning but would have to wait till later to take my next dosage.
In the afternoon I had an important meeting, and it was at that point the surgery rang me. I couldn’t answer the phone. After the meeting, I checked my messages and the surgery had said to call them back if I still needed an appointment. I did that straight away, getting quite stressed in the process.
Very shortly after that, I was called back by the surgery. I was speaking to a final year medical student helping with the doctor. I explained everything, just how my health suffers across the month, the years I’ve experienced these symptoms and the patterns I have noticed. The student said he would speak to the doctor to discuss a course of action.
He rang back. The doctor wasn’t willing to diagnose it as PMDD but did diagnose it as Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) which is similar but less serious. To get a PMDD diagnosis I would have to try out a chemically induced menopause (it’s reversible) and the doctor didn’t want to do that to a young woman (I’m 31).
The student and the doctor thought the likely reason was a recent change in my medication; I am coming off an antipsychotic I have been on for years. I must have not have done an adequate job of conveying that I have had these symptoms for years, not months. The doctor and student want me to monitor my symptoms for another three months. This was extremely frustrating as I have had these symptoms for years, since at least 2009 (when I first made the correlation between being extremely depressed and near my cycle) and I resent that I’m expected to be a sub-standard version of myself one week in every four.
But, PMS is a diagnosis I didn’t have on my medical records before today, and it is a diagnosis in itself. You’ve probably heard PMS bandied about as a reason for people who menstruate getting agitated near their period, but PMS is a genuine serious condition, not just a bad mood. It is a start on the path to managing my cycle. I guess I sound really arrogant here like I know more than the doctor. That’s definitely not what I’m trying to say, more that I was upset to come away without even a change in medication or contraceptive pill to manage my symptoms.
I am looking to make adjustments at work for the weeks when my symptoms are at their worst, so I really wanted a diagnosis to legitimise my needs. The student did say that by merely experiencing these symptoms my needs are legitimised, with or without a diagnosis, which I guess is true.
My flatmate had gone to the shops during the day and came back with summer fruits squash, 2 x 0% Ghost Ship beers, orange juice, Heineken 0% beers multipack, Actimel, part-baked rolls, bran flakes, rice pudding, Cheddar and cucumber from Tesco (£16.10, saving £3.15 due to loyalty card offers). He also popped to Home Bargains and had bought salt and vinegar crisps, dental floss and 4 x Carlsberg 0% beers which came to £3.54. I have seriously gone off alcohol, and the flatmate doesn’t drink much alcohol anyway, so as you’ve probably gathered from all these spending diaries we buy an awful lot of 0% alcohol beers.
The flatmate kindly cooked dinner, though that does mean I have to do the washing up. We watched an old episode of Taskmaster whilst eating. Afterwards, the flatmate went upstairs to call his girlfriend and I watched the news and played away online. I went on Amazon and bought a book called ‘The PMDD Phenomenon’ by Carol Svec and Diana L. Dell, as well as some more ‘Dots for Spots’ which are little hydrocolloid pimple patches, another joy of an extreme menstrual cycle is adult cystic acne. My shopping came to £25.95, but I had £11.50 in vouchers on my account. I put them towards the £11.95 the book cost, meaning it was 45p from my personal account for that, which I also used to cover the £13.99 of the Dots for Spots because I had budgeted for them at the start of the month. The order said it wouldn’t arrive till the end of February, I will just have to wait till then.
Finally, because always going to the shops to buy 0% beers is getting a bit tiring, I went on a beer site I used to use and bought a crate of 20 0.5% beers. That was £29.90 off the food shopping budget. Earlier in the day, I had also placed an order for oat milk and decaf coffee from a local coffee shop, that should be delivered on Wednesday. I will most likely get the invoice the next day though.
The flatmate finally came downstairs to watch Disney+ and I joined him. The day is complete.
I went to bed at a silly time last night and thus woke up later than I wanted today. I had a meeting before lunch and had done a mixture of admin tasks before that. I was still very sleepy despite my two coffees. I am still trying to exercise every day as part of Red January (a charity campaign where participants exercise every day of January to beat the January blues and to promote mental health). However, I felt extremely nauseated and tired at lunchtime and all I could manage was a brief walk around the park.
Work went better after lunch. After a while, I began to feel well again. I came across a problem at work and tried to seek help, but everyone seemed to have left for the day. Stuck, I finished early. I had a shower and my weekly beauty maintenance. It was then I began to feel really unwell again. I curled up on the sofa with a cup of lemon and ginger tea. My flatmate took over cooking duties.
I logged into my mobile supplier account and decided on a whim to check out their deals. I saw that I could get exactly what I have now but for £1.10 cheaper. Two clicks of a button and I had saved myself an admittedly small amount of money, but it is money in my pocket, not theirs.
I had my usual counselling session in the evening. Typically my laptop decided to disconnect from the internet just at the point I needed to go into my session. Soon the technical difficulties were over. The main thing I discussed was my diagnosis of PMS, and how I wanted it to be PMDD, and that I felt let done by the GP surgery. My counsellor has a medical background, and she did suggest I may have a need to check things out when I mentioned other problems. I hadn’t told her about my high prolactin levels which I discovered last year, and she was very interested in that. I am due to finish a medication that might be causing those high prolactin levels this week. Perhaps that is why my sleep is so bad at the moment.
My sessions cost £35, but shamefully I forgot to make the payment immediately after the call was over!
I have been feeling quite flat this week. I am still doing some exercise each day as part of Red January, but it is now usually just a short walk. I had a lot of nausea at the start of the week which is only beginning to ease now. I have definitely got the January blues.
After midday, my order from the coffee shop arrived. It was three 250g bags of decaff coffee, plus a six-pack of Welsh oat milk – my usual choice of oat milk was out of stock. I had received the invoice in the morning and it all came to £36.90.
I received an email from Amazon to say my order had been updated and would now arrive at the beginning of February. I thought that might happen when I ordered it, so that makes me happy.
I probably had the most productive day of the week today. I have been working till late into the evening due to starting work later in the morning than I would like because of my excessive tiredness. The medication I am coming off affects sleep – usually in a positive way for me – so perhaps withdrawing from it is what is making me so sleepy now. I am having trouble falling asleep at night. I try to relax by reading and turn off the lights when I start yawning, but I am still usually awake an hour later.
I am definitely in need of sorting out a few things in my life.
Shamefully it took me until today to realise that I hadn’t paid my counsellor yet, so I did that as soon as I remembered.
Today my order for the case of 0% beers I ordered at the start of the week arrived. I didn’t have time to unpack them because I was in a meeting, so I just left them on the side of the counter.
I had another email from Amazon to say my order would be coming on Sunday now, score!
I had a good one to one with my line manager before I went to lunch, and it put me in the best mood I had been in all week. I decided to use this to my advantage, and I went for a 5km run at lunchtime. Back home I quickly washed my face and then went into a coffee connect scheme with a colleague who works in the same department as me, though the department is huge so we still haven’t encountered each other before today. He recommended a good book to me, and I recommended a network I was part of to him. It was a great catch up.
I wanted to work till late today, but my flatmate was getting anxious about going to the shops and making dinner. I finished earlier than I wanted to and off we went to the shops. It’s encouraged that you shop on your own, but neither my flatmate nor I drive, and we try to shop big and therefore infrequently, so it does mean we need both of us to carry the shopping back home.
We bought Pepsi Max, milk, ice cream, Lucozade, spaghetti x 2, Quorn Nuggets, veggie sausages, houmous, broccoli, Flora, felafel, sweet potato, mayonnaise, stir fry vegetables, cucumber, parsnip, tofu, halloumi, bread, carrots and tortilla wraps, which came to £25.58 after discount.
Back home, we made a stir fry for dinner, watched Taskmaster, and then did our own thing. I went on Duolingo for a bit, and then got caught up watching an ITV show. I went upstairs to my room at 10:20 PM, read for a bit, then tried to sleep. It was still a while before I fell asleep though.
I woke up early, hooray! The morning seemed to pass quickly before I had my weekly social catch up coffee session with my colleagues. I decided to head to lunch early. I went for a walk first, taking a route around some residential streets as opposed to the park, to be around fewer people.
Arriving home, I made sure to watch the Welsh news. The First Minister is announcing more restrictions today, it was mainly concerned around retail. Supermarkets would have to restrict numbers, unessential items could not be purchased and there is a clear clampdown on the abuse that retail staff have been facing.
I made a quick cup of tea and then headed back upstairs for my next meeting.
At lunchtime, I went for a quick walk. I chose to go along some residential streets where it would be quieter. I came back and watched the Welsh news as there were going to be some more announcements about the lockdown, mainly concerning supermarkets.
There was another meeting in the afternoon, and then I managed to finish the part of the work I had been on since before Christmas. Once my colleagues finish their parts we will be going on to the next project very soon.
Today is the first night I won’t be taking any dosage of a medication I used to be on called risperidone. My doctor has gradually been withdrawing me from it as it could be causing my high prolactin levels. I am a bit nervous about going to sleep tonight. Risperidone makes you drowsy, so it has always knocked me out and I’ve had a pretty good sleep because of it. During the times I took it, if I forgot to take it one evening I would have a really disrupted sleep because of it. I predict that will happen again.
I was right, I did have a crap night’s sleep. I woke up wide awake at three different points, all far too early from a midnight bedtime to get up. I managed to get back to sleep each time, but it took a while.
My alarm went off at 10 AM, but I still dozed for nearly another hour, even though this meant turning off my alarm every ten minutes.
I realised that a book I was waiting to be released on the 14th of January would now be ready. Before Christmas, my friend sent me a £20 WH Smith voucher. I had been skulking their site for a while. I went on it and selected ‘Some Body to Love’ by Alexandra Heminsley, this is the book I was waiting to be released. I also selected ‘The Skincare Bible’ by Dr Anjali Mahto. Both of these books were £11.99, and I had to spend over £25 to get free postage and packaging. I added some jaunty fast food stickers (£1.99) and that meant my £25.97 order only cost £5.97 in cash.
It took a while to get going today. In the early afternoon, I went for a 5KM run. Back home I sat down in front of my laptop and fell asleep. I didn’t even realise I had fallen asleep until I woke up again. It was liked I had blacked out. I had a shower to wake me up.
I did some Duolingo lessons, and just relaxed. I was extremely tired today.
The flatmate and I had a late dinner, and then watched Dunkirk, which I had never seen before but thought it was tremendous.
I went to bed a bit later than I would have liked to, and it took me a little while to fall asleep.
Once again I had a disrupted night’s sleep. I woke up at several points and struggled to fall back asleep. At 6 AM I woke up and was still awake 20 minutes later. I decided I may have to get up.
I went downstairs, had breakfast, put on the TV, and then fell asleep. Like yesterday, it felt like I had just blacked out, I had no idea I had fallen asleep until I woke up. I ended up dozing off at another point, and it was about 10:30 AM before I felt awake enough to do anything. I’ve been trialling going without caffeinated coffee, I’ve switched to decaf, but I needed caffeine so had an instant coffee. It should have less caffeine than the ground coffee I used to have.
At 12 PM I went upstairs to begin an application for a role that could change my life if I’m accepted. It is for a degree-level apprenticeship in economics, I’d be gaining a degree whilst working at the same time. I applied for the scheme last year but there were three preliminary tests you had to do first, and I did not reach the pass rate on the numerical test. That meant my application was not taken beyond that point.
I haven’t gained significant mathematic skills in the last year, but today I felt very confident in the test. I finished, then had to wait about five minutes whilst my results were processed to see if I would be able to continue.
I had passed! This is already an improvement from last year, which is something to feel good about. I wrote the rest of the application and then pressed submit. I will have to see what happens.
The application process took me up to 4 PM. I quickly went for a 5 KM run, I was due to do a 10 mile run today, but the application was more important. I had a shower whilst my flatmate made dinner. I began to have really bad stomach cramps and didn’t finish all of my dinner. We watched various TV shows, and then I headed upstairs to read and to sleep.
The week is over!
FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £112.02 (MY HALF = £56.01)
PERSONAL SHOPPING = £6.42
COUNSELLING = £35
TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £97.43