Into the system…

blogging, work, mental health, therapy, disability, benefits and more…

Archive for June 2008

Not satisfied…

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I’m not happy with my last post at all. I want to edit it and make it more relevant. It’s rambling and a lot of it is redundant information. *reminds self that it is never going to be perfect* Something in me wants to ensure that what I write here is as good as I can make it, even though I know it’s not really going to be read by an audience. I may be writing for myself, but I’m probably the harshest audience I could have. I hate my perfectionist-self sometimes.

I have so much to do today and I keep procrastinating and don’t have any concentration. It’s so frustrating! I keep trying to make myself snap out of it, but we all know what good that does. I wish my other half would learn that chores take three times the usual time at the moment and it’s no good having a go at me for procrastinating and not getting them done. ARGH!! I feel under pressure to get them done on time and that makes me stressed. No wonder I felt so bad when I was at work if I can’t even deal with hoovering and cleaning. Mind you, I enjoy my job. I hate cleaning.

Anyway, I’m behind schedule as it is. *must tear self away from laptop*. I really am an internet addict.

Have a fantastic few days everyone. I will return on Monday. No doubt covered in mud, completely exhausted and on a come-down from the festival. Something to look forward to then.

Written by intothesystem

Tuesday, 24th June 2008 at 3:24 pm

After the doctors…

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So I mentioned in this post that I’d been signed off from work. As I said before, this presented me with a couple of immediate issues, most notably having to talk to my partner.

Following the doctors appointment on 12th June I had my last counselling appointment. This was kinda weird. We talked about my experience at the GP and what happens next. He was glad I’d finally made the move to talk to my GP and we talked about how far I’d come over the past few weeks. We then went onto talk about the issue of telling my partner. We’d discussed it on previous sessions and he’d encouraged me to write some of the things I’d like to say to my partner, but I hadn’t had the opportunity. He then got me to talk through some of the things I might say, but I found this quite difficult. I guess I felt this was a private matter for me and my bloke. It was a strange session. We didn’t know what would be happening afterwards as my company had talked about the possibility of extending the sessions, but it was only a possibility. At the end we said goodbye and I’ve promised to keep him informed if I don’t see him again. I didn’t really know what else to say.

Afterwards, I found myself sat in my car crying my eyes out. It was the first time I’d cried in over a month. I was upset for a number of reasons. I guess I was upset that I might not see him again – my counsellor has been pretty fundamental in getting me this far. That snap decision back in March to ring up and ask for counselling has led to an awful lot of change. I was also desperately upset because it was only just occurring to me that although I’d come a long way and taken some massive steps, this is going to be a very long journey. As clich├ęd as that sounds, it’s true. I’d been suppressing a lot of my feelings about the doctors visit and previous events and it was like there was a small release and I managed to let some of it out. It didn’t last long though.

After I didn’t really feel quite up to going back to work straight away. I went for a drive and for a short walk at a nearby water park. Fed my lunch to the ducks, as I wasn’t hungry. I’ve not been very hungry at all lately, only eating when people cook and put it in front of me, yet I don’t seem to be losing any weight. It’s not like me to not be hungry though.

Eventually returned to work for the afternoon. I had things to do and needed to talk to my manager. I may have been signed off but I wasn’t prepared to stop working just yet.

On Friday, I worked from my company office. I’m a consultant, so I spend most of my time on client site, but I decided to work from the company office, which is much quieter and I don’t get pestered all the time. It would give me a bit of peace and quiet and time to think. A close friend of mine was also working from there. We hadn’t seen each other much lately, but he knew a bit about what was going on, so it was good to talk a little and distract myself from everything.

In the evening me and my partner had a long argument. It was the usual one. About work/life balance. I was meant to be travelling to London for a friend’s birthday and then staying down on Monday to work from our London office. He wanted me to just go down for the one night and come back on Sunday, but it made more sense for me to work from London on the Monday, plus he obviously didn’t know there was a reason I wanted some time away from him, so I could think things through. The argument lasted ages and was pathetic. I wanted to just tell him that it doesn’t matter, none of it, because in the grand scheme of things there was a lot more important stuff going on in my life, but I couldn’t find the words. I didn’t feel up to arguing with him, as I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t want to keep hiding things from him, yet I also didn’t feel ready to share. In the end I gave up and went into the other room. Later he threw some paper at me with a letter on. He had written to me to try and share some of his feelings about why he hated my job etc. I just read it and cried and the argument dissipated, but I felt guilty for not opening up myself. We’ve not been very good at talking lately. We’ve been together for over five years, yet the last three we probably haven’t shared that much. We’ve just settled into this routine of being together, both of us hiding how we’re feeling.

The next day I went to London as planned. Travelling time for me is always precious. I love nothing better than being on a train and having the opportunity to think and write. I rely on my laptop to pour my soul into. The journey passed quickly as I wrote. I had started the beginnings of a 10,000 word letter to my partner. One that would explain everything and allow me to share. I knew I would never find the words to just blurt it out. It was far more complex than that. So I began to write. What I wrote was far from coherent and full of apologies and repeated, rambling sentences, but I just felt I had to pour everything into it. By the time the train rolled into Marylebone I had far from finished.

The afternoon was lovely. One of the friends I was staying with was aware of what was going on, so it was good to have her to look out for me. We met in Regents park and had a lovely time drinking and chatting, followed by food at Strada, then back to their flat for more drinking and chatting. It was a nice evening and a good distraction from everything going on. I drank quite a bit, and although I could feel it tugging on my emotions I was able to hold things together, unlike the last time I’d been drinking. I hadn’t really had anything since the incident in my hotel room in May. Having nice people around to keep an eye on my obviously helped. The next day was relaxed and exactly what I needed following a tough week. We got food, I sat and wrote (I know it’s hardly sociable to sit with your laptop all day and type, but everyone else was fairly hungover too and just watched telly so it was fine) and I chatted to my friend. We talked a lot and she helped me to get my head around things. We also popped out for a few hours to buy stuff and get food, so all in all it was a fairly normal day.

The following morning, I headed to the office. Didn’t rush in for my usual time of 7.30am, which was nice, but I hate commuting across London. I hate the tube and generally try to walk or take the bus, but I was forced to brave the northern line to Bank. Made it without fainting and I spent the day in the office, trying hard to work, but struggling. I couldn’t concentrate on my tasks and had to work hard to just get the essentials done. I realised I wasn’t up to working when someone contacted me to do a task and I just couldn’t find the energy to help. I was full of anxiety. I’d made myself the promise that I wouldn’t leave London without sending my letter to my partner. I wanted to give him a couple hours to read it after work before my train got in. I didn’t want him to have too much time to stew over it, but knew he would need a little while on his own to read it and allow it to sink in. Knowing that I had one of the most difficult conversations I would ever have to face at the end of the day, made it difficult to carry on.

During the afternoon I met with a colleague who I’d told a few days previously about things. She was meant to be my next line manager, but things might not work out that way now what with everything going on. I had to tell her, because she was putting in plans for the new team changes and needed to know I might not be around to be included in those changes, but it was still difficult. She was however, amazing. Completely understanding and just happy to talk as friends about things. We talked about how it affected work and what we can do to work around things. I talked about the previous events and how I’d been struggling to cope with it all. I told her how I was planning to share with my partner and how scared I was about this. I talked about how I hated the fact I’d been hiding things for so long, but didn’t know what else to say. It was useful. She helped me to realise I was doing the right thing and encouraged me not to chicken out in telling him.

Anyway 5pm rolled around and I had to send my letter. I’d gone over and over it so many times. I’d written about the previous events, the past, why I’d been scared of telling him, about my job, all sorts of things. Everything I could think of that explained what was going on. It was long and I worried he wouldn’t read it in time. I found the courage to hit send and left the office before I had the chance to change my mind. Heading to Euston I felt so sick I could barely see straight. I had to run for my train because I was late and was tempted to not get on, but I made it just as the doors were shutting. As I sat on the train I was shaking. I’d not eaten all day and couldn’t even swallow my water. I was terrified. I kept thinking over and over what I’d said and what my partner might say. I hated myself for taking the cowardly option and writing, but I didn’t see what other option I had. I was so tempted to just not get off the train. I didn’t know what to do. I sent my partner a text telling him to check his email, worried he wouldn’t read it before I got home. I sat on the train, logging into my email on my phone as often as I possibly could, bearing in mind the signal on the west coast mainline is terrible. I didn’t get a reply, but not long before I was due to arrive at my station I got a text. He’d read it. He called me silly, but at least I knew he’d read it. I didn’t know what reaction I wanted really, but I was just glad that it was finally in the open.

When he picked me up at the station I didn’t know what to say. I desperately wanted to run away and hide. I certainly didn’t want to talk. He asked me questions. Lots of questions. It turns out he hadn’t read my letter in detail, only skimming over it. So he kept asking me all the things I’d already explained. He was angry that I hadn’t shared things with him earlier. He didn’t trust me and kept asking me if it was all just some elaborate lie. He asked me what the doctors had said. He asked me if I thought I really was ill, or if it was just some conspiracy. His immediate thought was that I can’t be ill, that I was just overreacting to normal feelings of sadness. He’s always thought I was melodramatic and I think now he felt he had the proof of this. I got much the reaction I had expected and feared. That night he tried to get me to talk. I didn’t know what to say, other than what I’d already said in my letter. He told me about having suicidal thoughts in the past and told me he thought that was normal and that depression was all part of intelligence. He doesn’t believe in mental illness and he certainly doesn’t believe in counselling or antidepressants. He believes it’s all a matter of choice and that we can control these thoughts if we so wish and that we shouldn’t have interference in order to get over this. He accused me of just wanting to copy Stephen Fry. Why is it that whenever someone, who happens to like Stephen Fry, is found to be depressed that accusation comes flying out? He asked me what the doctor had told me and what I’d told the doctor and if I’d exaggerated things to make it sound worse. He kept asking me if I was still hiding things. He was incessant and negative and just couldn’t find it within himself to accept things and support me. I knew though that it was a big shock and I needed to let it sink in. I felt guilty for hiding things and worried I was going to lose him. He told me he didn’t think he could stay with me if I had lied to him. He told me that we were over, but I knew I needed to let things sink in.

The next day I had my first day off from work. Now he was aware, I could finally give in to doctors orders and take a break. It was almost a relief, but was horrible too. My partner insisted I met him for lunch in order to give us more opportunity to talk and to get me out of the house. He kept trying to press me to explain things and repeating the same questions, but I didn’t have any new answers. Afterwards I went into town, to try and find a dress for my work summer party. I failed. I couldn’t concentrate and the last thing I wanted to do was shop. In the evening the questions continued. We tried to talk, but I just couldn’t explain things and he didn’t want to know. I was upset that he couldn’t accept things and support me. I gave up trying and decided to just let things sink in and let him think. The next day things were a little better. He was starting to accept things, but still holds his belief that mental illness doesn’t exist. He said he wants to help me, but doesn’t see how doctors are necessary. He said he just wished I’d talked to him instead of letting it get to this point. I tried to make him see that it wouldn’t have helped, but I don’t think he would listen.

He kept asking me if I was ill or if I thought I was ill. I didn’t have the answer to that. I don’t really know if this is an illness or if it’s something more, something that is just intrinsically part of me. I am told that it’s an illness, but I don’t know if I believe that. The difference though between me and him, is that I am willing to treat it that way if it has a chance of making things better. I don’t want to feel like this forever. I think he expects me to.

I asked him if he wanted to come to the doctors with me on Thursday. I gave him the choice, although I actually kinda wanted to go on my own. In the end he decided to just go to work. So I went to the doctors on my own. It was a pointless visit really, other than it meant I got signed off for a further week. I had already booked holiday for either side of this weekend, so we agreed I would stay off work until I’d returned from holiday and I would see her again on my return. She asked me how telling my partner went. I told her about some of his reaction and she told me I really need to think about what I want from the relationship. She told me that she thinks if I can work some of the things out between us, it might just make recovery easier. I know she’s right, but I don’t know what more I can do. She also asked about medication again, but we’ve agreed to leave that for now.

That brings us up to last Thursday. Since then, my partner and I have pretty much stopped talking about it, but he seems more supportive. I think we both want to work on the relationship and want to get through this, but I’m not sure we’re quite moving in the same direction yet. Things seem on hold. I think we’re both just waiting for things to happen. I’m waiting for the referral to come through. He’s waiting to see if I get better or top myself. He keeps trying to keep me busy and distract me. He gives me lists of chores to do during the day and has gone back to calling me lazy when I don’t do stuff. It’s almost as if not much has changed between us. I don’t really know what to do. When I say that I’m struggling to concentrate or just feel tired and want to sleep he moans that I should just snap out of it. He still won’t let me use this depression as an excuse. It isn’t an excuse. It’s a very real reason for not being very productive, but he still won’t take it. I think it’s going to be difficult to change his opinions on depression, but I know if we’re to have a future he needs to.

The next few days see us living in a field. We’re off to Glastonbury. I’ve been before, but not with my partner, so it will be interesting how this pans out. A friend and my dad are also there. I have no intention of my dad knowing what is going on, so it is going to be difficult to talk about things. At first he wasn’t sure he still wanted to go what with everything going on. He didn’t see how we could just go back to normality and ignore things, but I think he is coming around to the idea now. He’s scared of the rain though!

Anyway I have my last of chores to do and the remainder of the packing. I must go. I want to stay and write all day, but I can’t. I want to write about work and how being off is affecting me, I want to write about my relationship, I want to write about how I perceive this illness and how I’m struggling to come to terms with it all, but half of me can’t find the words and the other half can’t find the time. My days are short now. They felt a lot longer when I worked 13 hour days, but now I’m getting up later and my partner comes home early so I only have a few hours to myself. I’m not even allowed to spend those as I like, as my partner finds lists of things for me to do and expects me to do them. I miss the freedom of work.

I will try and write soon, but it might not be for a few days, as I won’t have internet in a field except on my phone or if I go to the orange tent.

Finally – I wanted to thank those of you who have encouraged me to write, those who have commented and offered advice and those who continue to blog and inspire me to write. It’s nice to know others are interested in what I have to say. It’s a pleasant surprise. Thank you.

Written by intothesystem

Tuesday, 24th June 2008 at 12:45 pm

Since Thursday 13th March 2008…

with 4 comments

I was trying to work out where my story begins. I can’t deny the fact I’ve suffered from this “illness” for as long as I can remember, but the events of recent weeks must have a beginning. Something started to change things.

Thinking about it, I guess things start with Thursday, 13th March 2008. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by intothesystem

Monday, 23rd June 2008 at 1:25 pm

entering the system…

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Thursday 12th June was what I guess you could describe as a life-changing day. After many, many years of burying my head in the sand, pretending I was okay and avoiding getting help, I saw my GP. A strange string of events led up to this point. It was like a big snowball that was out of control, but in the end I reached the point of no return and had to go see her.

I booked the appointment the Monday before, following an afternoon of nagging from my line manager. I hate doctors. I have to be practically dying in order to make an appointment. I find it difficult enough going for a physical problem, but the idea of going for a mental issue seemed almost impossible. Unfortunately, it got to the stage where I had little choice.

The appointment rolled around. I’d had little sleep and felt physically sick. Thankfully it was an early morning appointment, so it would be over quickly. At the doctors, I presented my doctor with a piece of paper. This paper contained some typed words describing how I’d been feeling, what had been happening lately and what had happened in the past. I knew I would be unable to find the words to talk to her directly and I’d been encouraged to write by others. She read my script intently and then looked at me and just said “what you’re describing here is obviously some form of depressive illness”. So that was that. I obviously knew before, but it was strange to finally have a doctor telling me and more importantly writing it in my medical notes. She immediately suggested that she referred me to the local community mental health team for assessment and the possibility of counselling or therapy and began to fill in the form. As she did so, she asked me further questions. Questions about self-harm and suicide mainly. Difficult questions when you’re ashamed of your thoughts and don’t want to admit that they’re still bothering you, but somehow I felt I had to be honest. I almost thought she’d be able to tell if I was lying.

She then went on to ask me my thoughts on medication. She was keen to prescribe an antidepressant and I told her I’d already feared she would but wasn’t sure if I wanted to. She quickly tried to convince me of the benefits and asked me to think about it. I’m still reluctant, and as such remain unmedicated, but I wonder how long I can keep it that way.

Finally, she signed me off work. Now the sign-off was the thing I was dreading most. It was only a note for a week, with the instructions to “take a break” and return to see her a week later. I was disappointed though. I love my job and I’ve been using it as a distraction for so long, I was unsure how I’d be able to handle an enforced absence.

It’s weird. The whole appointment only lasted a few minutes, yet it felt like so much had changed. I’d never seen my GP about any of this before, despite suffering from similar episodes on and off for years. I was now being classed as a mental health patient – someone suffering from depressive illness. It scared me, the implications of this. It still scares me. I may have been someone suffering depression, long before I was told I was, but it still seems different to have it in your medical notes. There in black and white. It takes some getting used to.

The appointment also presented some more immediate issues. The most prominent of these was telling my partner. If I was to take the time off work, as dictated my GP, he needed to know that something was up. He would obviously question why I was not in work, so I quickly realised I had no choice but to tell him or to keep working. I had been keeping from him everything that had been happening and all that I felt. We’ve been together years, but he had no idea of my thoughts. No idea I’d been desperate, hysterical and suicidal. No idea I had a history of self harm that dated back before he even knew me. No idea that I’d been to my doctor. No idea that work had forced me to see occupational health. No idea I’d been seeing a counsellor. No idea at all.

Written by intothesystem

Friday, 20th June 2008 at 5:11 pm

the difficulty of wanting to stay anonymous…

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I want to write about the last six weeks… but then I’m scared that those close to me, who already know the story, would be able to identify me. Although it wouldn’t be new to them, I’d be scared that it will make it very difficult for me to be completely, utterly honest and I’d be scared that my anonymity would be at risk.

Then again, I have so much difficulty in talking to them, maybe by writing here I will be able to open up more freely. There are some people it wouldn’t matter if they read this and recognise me, some other people I’d actually want them to read this just so they could understand better, but then I also worry what long-term repercussions might come out of revealing my identity to the wider world.

I guess if I’m going to blog, I need to get over that.

I’m still struggling to find a point from which to start. I have so much written and so much to say, but something holds me back. I don’t know why. I want to write for myself, not really for others, so this shouldn’t stop me but somehow it still does.

Over the last day or two I’ve noticed a few people are coming here and seeing what I have to say. No doubt they will see this is very little so far and will go away again, but I do hope one day someone might find this at least a little bit interesting. I’m guessing these people have started to come because I’ve been commenting on other blogs using this ID and not the name I used to sign under. If you are one of those people, I just want to say “Hi”.

EDIT: p.s. I’ve updated the about page a little.

Written by intothesystem

Thursday, 19th June 2008 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Into the system...

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the hardest thing is getting started…

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I keep finding myself wanting to write, but being unable to. So much is happening that I can’t get my head around it. I just don’t know where to start.

I spent the weekend writing thousands upon thousands of words about how I felt, but I just don’t know how to share them.

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 18th June 2008 at 10:08 am

Posted in Into the system...

Writing is therapy…

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…I intend on making the most of it.

Written by intothesystem

Thursday, 12th June 2008 at 11:25 am

Posted in Into the system...