Into the system…

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

Archive for July 2008

Shock to the System…

with 3 comments

I knew it would be like this. I knew my return to work would be a shock. It has been and I’m not sure I am up to handling it, but I don’t know what else to do. I know I should take all of your advice and go back to my GP, but I don’t see how sitting at home is any better. I don’t see how anything can be any better. I don’t see the point in work. I don’t see the point in life.

Being back in the office has both benefits and issues.

People keep asking me where I’ve been or how I am and I genuinely don’t know how to answer. I am not better and I know that, but I don’t want to disappoint people. They expect to hear that you’re fine and glad to be back. I’m not fine and I’m not sure if I’m glad to be back.

I hate how visible my role is. I know everyone and it’s a big office. There are literally hundreds of people, all wanting to know where I’ve been. People are nosy. Some people knew where I’d been. Others had no idea – some thought I was on holiday or I’d left the project. My reappearance in the office has made people suspicious. It does make me wonder if I should have had a new start on a new project, but then I am glad for my friends. The news seemed to travel fast. Before I’d even told people I was back, they were popping over to my desk to see me. It was nice to be welcomed, but I couldn’t deal with their questions. I didn’t want to tell them how I really felt. Seeing people is nice, but it’s all too much, too fast. After seeing virtually no one for weeks, it’s weird to see everyone again.

In terms of the work. The distraction is good. Yesterday, I focussed on clearing out my inbox and that was easy. I just had to keep answering the queries, clicking the buttons and making things happen. I could do all those things on autopilot and I was distracted from my thoughts and feelings for a few hours. If work was like that all the time I could handle it. I just had to keep going.

The problem is when the distraction stops. Last night I lay awake, thinking about the day, about work, about life. I kept thinking about how pointless everything is. My thoughts are all negative. I see no light at the end of the tunnel.

Today has been harder. I’ve almost run out of monotonous tasks. I’m now being required to think. I am incapable of thought. The thoughts that I do have are negative and so far removed from the productive, work-like thoughts I need to be creating I just don’t know how. Intelligent thought is impossible.

Conference Calls are painful. I hate calls at the best of times, but today was impossible. I was aware that I sounded like a gibbering idiot; someone that doesn’t know what they’re talking about. I was frustrated with myself. I hate the fact I’m only a shadow of my old self. I hate that I’m not as quick and knowledgable. I hate that I can’t order my thoughts, because my mind is dominated by the black cloud hanging over my head. I got away with it today. The call wasn’t important and I still knew more than my colleagues, but I can’t keep this up. I will be found out. I will slip up. I will break down.

I don’t know what to do. I am back to where I was before my sick-leave. I am no better than I was then. I hate the fact that I am no better. This lack of progress makes me want to give up. I don’t want to admit there has been no progress. I don’t want to go back to my GP. I don’t want to go home and wait to feel better. I don’t want to do any of this.

I can feel myself losing hope. I see no future and no point.

p.s. On a happier note. Thanks to those who nominated me for the awards doing the rounds. I appreciate it. I will do mine soon, but I’m not quite in the frame of mind, sorry.

Written by intothesystem

Thursday, 31st July 2008 at 4:45 pm

return to the system…

with 5 comments

…a different system to the one that my blog title refers to, but a system nonetheless. Tomorrow, I go back to work.

It feels too soon. I know it is too soon, yet I’m not doing anything to stop it.

I am too scared to go back to my doctor and tell her I can’t cope. I am too scared to tell my new line manager I can’t face it. I’m too scared to tell HR I’m not ready. I am too scared to admit to my partner I am not better. Hell, I’m too scared to admit to myself.

I want to be ready. I want to go back. I want to see my friends. I want to get involved in new projects. I want to feel like I have something to live for. I want to have something to do. I want to feel capable. I want to succeed.

I want to know if I’m ready. I try and work out if I’m ready, but all I feel is that I am not.

My mood had picked up over the past week. My holiday was pleasant. I felt almost capable. We did things. I enjoyed the sunshine. My appetite has returned. I socialised and it was almost comfortable. I didn’t feel suicidal all of the time, although I can’t say the thoughts had gone completely. I had moments where I forgot I was depressed. I wondered if the pills were working or if it was the holiday that made me feel better or if I was just feeling better anyway. Generally, it wasn’t bad. Not as bad as I’d feared at least.

The problem is I’m not on holiday anymore. I’m home and it’s harder to forget things. Things are suspended when you are on holiday. You can be someone that you are not and it is easier to forget the things that haunt you, the things that bother you. I was able to forget how depressed I was, albeit temporarily, because I was with people who only knew the happy me and I could show them the happy me. I did my best to shake off my moods and did my best to keep going. I wasn’t wholly successful and it’s a tiring act to put on, but generally I did feel a bit better. By pretending to be better, I almost convinced myself I was.

I’m home now though and I know I’m not better. During the drive back, all I could feel was churning anxiety in my stomach and my mind ticking over the things I faced when I returned. I didn’t want to leave the safety of the holiday. I didn’t want to come home. I could feel post-holiday blues descending like a big cloak of gloom. I know everyone suffers from post-holiday blues at the best of times, but I couldn’t help fear that mine would be worse than most. I couldn’t help worrying that mine would be a return to the suicidal depths of my depression. The fact that they haven’t been…quite, should be comforting, but I still worry that those moods are only days away.. hours away even.

Yesterday was a day of doing stuff. Unpacking, buying food, sorting things out, mowing the lawn. It was a list of chores, which a couple of weeks ago would have been unthinkable, but I managed them. I felt okay. Not as good as last week, but not desperately low. I wonder if I am improving, if I am better. Maybe I will be able to cope with work after all? I feel a bit better. I know I am anxious about work, but my mood has been much worse, even when I was still at work and performing well. Maybe the drugs are kicking in at last and maybe if I go back it will help me to get better? I keep trying to convince myself it is a good idea. I want to go back to work. I want to go back to pretending I’m fine.

I am trying to work out if I’m ready. The anxiety coursing through my veins, suggests I am not. The fact that I almost have a panic attack when I think of my inbox, suggests I am not. The fact I still find it hard to make myself do things, suggests I am not. The fact a conversation with my new line manager has put suicide back on the brain, suggests I am not. The fact I can’t face a future, suggests I am not.

Tomorrow I go back to work. I can’t stop it now. I will give it a go, but I just wonder how long I can last.

Written by intothesystem

Tuesday, 29th July 2008 at 5:30 pm

shiny happy pills…

with 4 comments

So I took shiny-happy-pill number 1 this morning. Obviously it is going to have absolutely no effect on me at all for a few days (or weeks?!) but I still feel a little weird having done it. I know everyone is right and I have absolutely nothing to lose – at least the rational part of me does. The rest of me doesn’t see the point in doing anything, but nevermind.

Today is a stressful day. Unfortunately, stressful days = suicidal days. I can’t face the enormous task list ahead of me. The expectation of me to just get on with things. The expectation that I will complete all these tasks, despite the fact that getting up feels like enough of a challenge. The expectation that I will stop using “this excuse”. I hate expectation.

Lying in the bath half an hour ago, I’d have done anything to just slip under the water and stay there. It feels like the only thing keeping me here today, is the fact we have a friend here and his presence makes all of my possible plans useless.

Tonight, we travel down south for a weekend in a field, followed by a trip across the sea on Sunday night, for a week in France. I won’t be around for a while. The prospect of the holiday fills me with dread. I was looking forward to it, but now the day is here I can’t face it. I don’t feel up to a week pretending I’m fine and everything is normal. I don’t feel up to a week of putting on a happy face, getting up every day and going places. I don’t feel up to today. The packing, the cleaning, the endless list of tasks I have to battle through. I just can’t face anything.

I have no choice though. I guess this lack of choice, makes the ultimate exercise of choice even more appealling.

I must stop now. Writing here today is almost self-harm. It means I have even less time to complete the tasks of the day and it means I will be under even more pressure. I can’t help myself though. I almost want to put myself under this pressure. I almost want to tip myself over the edge, because then I won’t have to care anymore. Then I’d be able to just give up. I wouldn’t have this little portion of my conscience eating away at me, hating myself for thinking like this, being like this. I hate it.

Written by intothesystem

Friday, 18th July 2008 at 10:40 am

return to the GP… and a return to work…?

with 7 comments

So I’ve been back to my doctor this morning.

She’s changed her tune and now wants me to go back to work. Last time I saw her she didn’t want me to go back if I hadn’t picked up. This time she wants me to, even though I told her things hadn’t picked up. I wonder if the fact I’ve hit the month mark is making her itchy. I also wonder now if she’s given up on the hope that a break would help.

We talked a little bit about it, but I didn’t know what to say to her. She makes me terrible uncomfortable, just “hmm-ing” at me and being patronising. I realised today how much I hate her. I am not sure I can go back to her even. There are some new GPs starting at the practice soon, so I might try and get transferred. I know there’s little point me going to a GP I can’t trust.

I couldn’t be honest with her. I wonder what her response would have been if I told her what was going on in here. I can’t tell her how I feel. I can’t be honest with people face-to-face, not in the way that I can when I write. I told her that things hadn’t picked up, but I couldn’t bring myself to say the s-word, so I think she just thinks I’m feeling a little low. I suspect she doesn’t realise how low. In fact I’m fairly sure she doesn’t. I am still suicidal. More so today than yesterday. More so yesterday than Tuesday. So will I be more so tomorrow than today? I don’t know. I’m not sure I can get much more suicidal without actually doing the deed. I’m still fighting the thoughts, but it’s becoming more and more tempting to just give in.

I didn’t tell her any of that though. I just ended up agreeing with her to look at a return to work. In as much as I want to do anything (which is not much at all), I do want to go back to work, but I am scared. I have planned holiday for the next week, so she’s signed me off until 30th July. She said a short week to start off with might be a good idea and that gives me long enough to adjust to the idea of a return. I have no idea if I’ll be ready by then. I don’t feel ready, yet I wonder if it’s time to just try ignoring the problem again. Tackling it doesn’t seem to be helping much anyway, but I know where ignoring it got me. One thing I do know though is that I can’t stay off work forever.

The question of meds came up too and I think she was surprised when I agreed to her at least writing me a prescription. I have given up the fight I think. I just decided to do whatever she told me, as I didn’t know what else to say to her. I did tell her I might not go collect it, but I think I probably will. I hate giving in. I can be so stubborn sometimes. I don’t want to, but I read so often that you have to “keep taking the meds” that I should probably listen. I’m just not sure I want to. I’m just not sure I want to do anything. It seems Fluoxetine 20mg is going to be the drug of choice for the next 6 months though. So we shall see.

I am unsure about everything. The only thing I do feel sure about is that I can’t carry on like this. It’s just when I feel like this, the mind inevitably turns to the easy option. *bangs head on desk*

Written by intothesystem

Thursday, 17th July 2008 at 11:17 am

into the present…

with 4 comments

Moving away from the topic of work for a minute and thinking about how I am right this moment is not all that easy. Many of the thoughts about when I might return to work and if I’m actually any better are still on my mind, but there are other things too, alongside a fairly high presence of suicidal thoughts. I guess my slight improvement was fairly short-lived, although I’m not quite in the same place that I was on Friday morning.

I think I’m going to take a break from my laptop for a few hours and see if that brings about any improvement. Finding the energy and motivation to do anything is not easy though. I guess I still need to pay my daily trip the pool, but the thought is tiring in itself. My partner has also set me a challenge – one that I’d usually relish (it involves web design, proper WordPress and other joys like that), but right now it’s not really something I fancy (oh, it’s that age old thing of not wanting to do the things you love again!).

I have the doctors tomorrow. I’m going to ask for the meds. I think that in itself tells a story. I’m scared though. What if they don’t work? I read this somewhere the other day, as justification for not wanting to take meds and I agree. It was comforting to have this last-ditch option available to me, so I’m scared that I’m now having to use it. Where would I be if they don’t work and what if I have to rely on meds forever? I’m scared at the prospect, but I suppose I need to do something. I guess we shall see what happens.

I do just wish this would all go away. I just wish *I* could go away, but maybe that isn’t the answer either? *sigh*

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 16th July 2008 at 2:09 pm

work, work, work: but not at work…

with one comment

So I’m at it again.. writing more about work (previous posts here and here), but this time from the perspective of not being there.

Being signed-off is a weird experience. It’s difficult to know that everything you had been focussing on, everything you’ve been involved with, is still carrying on without you. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 16th July 2008 at 1:10 pm

work, work, work: life before sign-off…

with one comment

This is the second part of my post about work. The previous post can be found here.

I’ve been thinking about work and my performance in the weeks before I was signed off and trying to work out where I got the point that I was not fit to work. It’s strange because one of the things I struggle with most is working out how much things were a result of my depression/mental illness and how much of it was a cause. I can’t work out where the lines blur. It’s hard to distinguish illness from personality and circumstance. How much of it is depression, how much of it is part of my nature and how much of it was caused by the pressure of the job in general? It’s all one big melting pot and I’m not sure what to blame.

Read the rest of this entry »

improving a little…

with 5 comments

I feel a little better. I think.

Even only a couple days later, I find it hard to remember quite how low I was. Reading back what I wrote on Friday is slightly worrying, because it is weird to think when you feel a little better, that only a couple days ago you wanted to kill yourself.

On Friday afternoon I did eventually make it to the pool and spent a couple hours faking normalcy, but I retained an unhealthy obsession over suicide for much of the day. Somehow I retained the little scrap of fight though, enough to keep me here at least.

I woke up still feeling low on Saturday, but ready to switch into normal-everything-is-ok-mode, as my sister was due to arrive at lunchtime. She was coming to visit for the weekend and as she doesn’t know anything about what has happened and I don’t intend for my family to find out, I had no choice but to spend a weekend pretending I felt fine. Pretending you are okay when you’re really feeling awful is difficult, but I’m well practised. Even still, by Saturday night I had a splitting headache and had had enough.

Sunday was a lazy morning. My sister tends to get up late, so it was a good excuse for me to be lazy too. In the afternoon we went to see Antony Gormley’s, Another Place at Crosby Beach. I was still in a weird mood and was preoccupied by the idea that the figures were wandering out to sea to their deaths, wishing I could just join them, but knowing my partner and sister were with me it was pointless thinking like that. Our visit was only short – we were going to stay out longer, but had forgotten suncream and got hideously muddy in the quick-sand. I guess by pretending to feel normal, it was becoming easier to believe it really. I guess my mood did start to improve a little and the gorgeous weather was definitely helping.

This morning I don’t know how I feel. I feel better, but I think I’ve only returned to that numb state of being able to function, but not feeling all that great. I’m not desperately suicidal right now, but I still feel low.. I wouldn’t mind that much if I died, but am not in a position to DIY.

What is strange with all this, is how these awful, crushing, suicidal lows can be so fleeting. I find myself wondering why I drop to such lows so quickly, but then come back up to this moderately-depressed state just as quick as I’d fallen. It scares me that one day I won’t come back up. I also find myself frustrated as I don’t know what to do with myself when I fall down there. What happens if I do give up the fight and give in to the thoughts? All I might have needed is a couple more days and I might have come back up again. What is frustrating is I won’t remember all of this next time I fall. I will feel completely overwhelmed and unable to cope, just as I have time and time again before.

Aside from that, I wonder if this nothingness, moderate depression is the best I can hope for. It seems to be my normal state these days – so maybe that is normal? I know I haven’t tried medication and that might be what I need to push this to normal, normal, but then I wonder if it will really help, or if I am naturally like this. Maybe I’m not meant to feel anything. Maybe a low mood is normal? What would I know? I’ve nothing to compare it to.

The other thing I wonder is, when is it okay to ask for help? How do I take myself seriously when I know that it might pass, but then again, what happens if a) it doesn’t or b) it’s too late. I don’t know if to tell my GP about the mood I crashed into at the end of last week or not. Does she need to know, or is it more important that I’m feeling a little better now? I don’t want her to keep me off work any longer than I have to, so I am reluctant to let her know I had a relapse, yet I also don’t want to keep relapsing. I just don’t know what to think any more.

Written by intothesystem

Monday, 14th July 2008 at 5:05 pm

work, work, work: life before March…

with 2 comments

I started a post about work a couple weeks ago, but somehow never found the energy or time to finish it. It was made up of lots of little thoughts about work and how that relates to my depression. Returning to the post now, I’m struggling to make it a coherent whole. My thoughts and feelings surrounding work have been fairly complicated over the last few months and I’ve paid passing mentions to work and related frustrations throughout previous posts and comments, but I wanted to try and bring this together somehow.

This started to get so long that I’ve now split it into parts. This first part covers a lot of the background information, including what I actually did and how work-life was prior to my latest episode of depression. It touches on mood and my understanding of “normal”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by intothesystem

Monday, 14th July 2008 at 4:34 pm

no interest in life…

with 2 comments

I’m feeling low this morning. I’ve woken up with a headache and can’t find any motivation to move. I managed to grab my laptop from under the bed and that’s as far as I’ve got.

Wednesday was a nothing day. I didn’t make it to the pool. Ben folds was more than disappointing (sound quality was so bad we left before he finished). Thursday was better in the morning, descending to rubbish in the evening. I made it to the pool first thing, as I had to give my bloke a lift to work. Swimming does help, albeit temporarily, but it can still be so difficult to motivate myself to go. In the evening, I was meeting a friend for dinner and a catch-up. It was difficult. I wasn’t feeling very sociable and conversation was fairly awkward. Had dinner, dropped him back at his and then left early. The rainbows were beautiful though. My drive back was probably not all that safe. I felt terrible and wasn’t concentrating properly. I couldn’t see any point in making it home and was tempted to just keep driving, driving up the motorway, past junction 7 and not stopping until I reached the sea. I didn’t and I made it home safely, although I think this was more autopilot than will. I do scare myself sometimes. I wonder if I should be allowed to drive when I’m at my worst. I’m not sure I would if people knew what I was thinking.

I still want to run away. I think about driving off somewhere, just driving and seeing where I end up, seeing what happened. The thing is, in this state of mind I suspect the result wouldn’t be pretty. I wouldn’t want to bring anyone else down with me and I wouldn’t want to bring out the wombles (reference to Top Gear), so I tell myself not to. I think about just taking a train instead, but wonder if it really is possible to just disappear and start again. I suspect it wouldn’t be any easier. At least if I was dead, I wouldn’t have to live with the consequences. It would be the easier option, but still not easy. I know that. I’m not sure I can do it, but I wish I had the courage. As I’ve said before, a failed attempt would be worse than just carrying on, so it makes things harder, but then what if I could ensure it wouldn’t fail? Would I be able to then? It’s all fantasy, but it’s one that I find myself obsessing over. I have a plan and means, but no time frame at the moment. I have no stress, nothing to trigger that “I must do it now” moment, but I wonder if I’m losing the need for that trigger. Work used to be my trigger – something went wrong and I wanted to do it there and then, but at that point I rarely had the means.

I find myself thinking about the future and being scared that I don’t see one. My friend last night was talking about how things will probably change dramatically in the next five years and he could see himself finding someone, getting married and having kids. I don’t see any of that. I’m engaged, but I can’t imagine making it to a wedding, certainly not my own. My sister keeps asking me to start planning – sending me links to possible venues and dresses and I have no interest, none at all. I wish she’d shut up and leave me alone, as she doesn’t know she is only making me more desperate for the nonsense to stop. A friend of mine just had a scare – an ectopic pregnancy, resulting in emergency surgery. She is okay and I’m glad. She didn’t want a child and didn’t even know she was pregnant, but I think it has shaken her up. It shook me up too. I can’t imagine having children. I don’t feel capable of making babies, but that was a reminder that I am. I don’t want that reminder. I couldn’t be a mother, not like this, although I know my partner wants them and not even far off in the future, but in the next few years. I can’t do that. I think about my return to work, my career and I can’t even imagine that at the moment. I love my job, but I can’t face it. I see the emails about work and it makes me want to cry. Worse, the thought of going back and dealing with them makes me want to die.

I really do see no future. I see no point in carrying on with this endless battle. I don’t want to fight.

Part of me of course does want to fight. I wouldn’t write here if I didn’t. I wouldn’t have seen my GP 4 weeks ago or whenever it was. The thing is, that part isn’t strong enough. I know I should go back to my GP now and tell her all of this, but I can’t. I know I should give in and accept medication, but I can’t. I know I should get out of bed right now and go to the pool and feel better, but I can’t. I will. I will do it, but I don’t know where the fight will come from.

My partner forces me to fight. I complain when he tells me to do chores and stop wasting my life, but ultimately my fear of making him angry and disappointed does tug on a little bit of me and make me do things. I don’t want to and sometimes the stress of my failure makes me worse, but when I’m less bad it helps. I’m not sure how long though I can put up with this and I’m not sure how long this will help. It’s getting harder to find the courage and motivation to do things. I’m finding it harder to listen to him, because all I want to do is be alone and escape, but I still find myself putting on the washing or tidying up. It’s like there’s this bit of me that carries on regardless of how the rest of my brain is screaming to stop. I have this autopilot that operates and keeps me alive and I wonder if I can stop it. On the outside, I maintain composure and no one knows that all of this is going on. No one knows how hard I am fighting to stop and how hard I am fighting to carry on. I suspect I will find myself at the swimming pool in the next couple of hours, ploughing up and down, doing my fifty lengths, but I don’t want to. I want to give in. I want to stop.

I’m going mad. I’m on the verge of tears. I don’t cry anymore. I don’t know what I want to do, but all I know is I can’t carry on like this.

I look up at what I’ve written and I wonder where the articulacy comes from. I don’t feel articulate, I don’t feel capable of writing, I don’t feel capable of living, yet I continue. I wonder what will happen if I lose that capability. I wonder what happens next.

Written by intothesystem

Friday, 11th July 2008 at 12:23 pm