Into the system…

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

Archive for August 2009

My story…

with 3 comments

I’ve spent the last hour or so going through my archives and highlighting the key posts that tell my story. I have been meaning to do this for a while. I’d realised that anyone coming here would have a hard time understanding what was going on unless they read my archives. The About page doesn’t give much away. I thought it would be useful for me to have a list of key posts too. I’m not sure I’ve chosen all that wisely. A few posts that probably didn’t need to may be included and I may have missed a few that should have been. I don’t know.

Anyway, you can find this page here.

Written by intothesystem

Monday, 24th August 2009 at 12:27 am

Short Pause…

with one comment

It’s been 10 days since I last posted. Each time I keep thinking I should start writing more often again, but it doesn’t seem to happen. The gaps seem to get larger, not smaller.

I often think of things I want to write about, but I don’t seem to translate those thoughts into posts. I wanted to write about the NHS when the #welovetheNHS campaign was in full swing, but now I can’t really remember what I wanted to say and the moment has passed.

The last week or so has been up and down. A phrase I say so often.

I went to my parents for a few days last weekend. On Monday my sister, the dog and I trecked over to Porthcawl for the day. It was lovely weather and we enjoyed a splash in the sea, some fish and chips and icecream. Not a bad day really.

Tuesday involved bringing the dog home on the train. It was stressful, but we managed to get back safely. She slept a lot of the way taking up most of the aisle.

I saw Dr G on Wednesday. She increased the Lamotrigine again. I’m now on 125mg Mane, 100mg Nocte. Again it was an increase I expected. She is increasing the Lamotrigine by 25mg every 2 weeks. I wonder if it’s worth seeing her each time or if I’d be better off asking her to give my GP the instructions to increase it, thus saving myself some money. Seeing her every 1-2 weeks is not cheap.

I can’t remember what else we talked about. I remember her telling me she still thought it was too early for me to go back to work. Disappointment and relief. Disappointment that I am not well enough to go back. Relief that I don’t have to make the decision yet and that I am not being forced to go back too soon.

My social worker is still useless. I saw her on Thursday after forgetting I was meant to see her on Tuesday. She turned up at my house and I was at my parents 140 miles away. I guess that makes me useless too.

Anyway, we talked for a little while. She asked me if I’m interested in the creative remedies therapy group and the “positive thoughts” group. She’d forgotten to bring the information again so I’m not entirely sure what I’m letting myself in for. I agreed to both though so we shall see what happens. I’m pretty skeptical about the positive thoughts one. She said it’s simplified CBT, which rings alarm bells, especially as I’ve done non-simplified CBT in the past. I have visions of us sitting in group having to repeat affirmations. The groups are meant to start in September.

J came up with excuses about her failure to complete the referrals so far saying that the problem is she’s useless at doing paper work. More alarm bells ringing when she said that. I’m sure form-filling must be a huge part of her job so I wonder why she’s doing it if she can’t be bothered. I hope she does the referrals but I’m not holding my breath.

She also told me she’ll be with me at my psychiatrist’s appointment in September. I don’t want her to be, but I guess I have little choice. I’d rather I was on my own. I generally find I’m more comfortable with the psychiatrists and I have no trust in her at all, so I think I will find it hard to be open.

She didn’t think my appointment was with Dr B because the time doesn’t correspond to one of her clinics. I’m not surprised at that, but still a little disappointed. She did say who she thinks it will be but I can’t remember his name. Apparently he’s quite new and she doesn’t know what he’s like, which is a little worrying, but I get the impression that is quite normal with the NHS.

The rest of the time lately has been littered with arguments and random drops in mood. Friday evening was difficult. After a long argument with my partner I became hysterical and couldn’t stop crying. I find myself wanting us to break up and these episodes only make that wish stronger. I don’t know how we can carry on like this. The arguments are frequent and pointless. They just hurt us both and make life so difficult. I want to isolate myself from it all. It fuels my desire to not be here.

Earlier today I read this post on mentalnurse.org.uk. It talks of the anger at being saved from suicide. I still feel that anger and unlike Torah, I am not pleased to not be dead. I still wish that I had not been saved. I remember the disappointment of waking up and knowing I’d failed. I remember people asking me if I was glad to be alive and thinking they were insane. I still don’t understand how they could ask that. I didn’t make the decision lightly. I knew I didn’t want to be here anymore and failing to complete my plan did not change that decision. It’s still not changed that decision. I still want to be dead.

That’s not to say my suicidal ideation has not lessened. A few months ago I was constantly actively suicidal. Always thinking of plans, always looking for the next opportunity, always battling the thoughts. Now my thoughts come and go, but they are still a frequent annoyance. I have moments when the thoughts lessen, but I am never glad to be alive. Most of the time I’m still wishing I was dead.

I do not see the point in life, nor the appeal. I don’t understand anyone who is glad to be alive. I see life as a long hard battle with no positive outcome at the end. I don’t see why anyone would put themselves through that for any longer than is really necessary.

I don’t know what will come of these thoughts. I have managed to resist over the past 6 months, but I do not know how long I can keep this up. I have been kept safe for most of that time, unable to act when I have most wanted to. That supervision will of course continue while I still harbour the desire to be dead. I wish it wouldn’t but know I can’t stop them. There is anger there of course. An annoyance that I am not in control of my own life. I understand their reasons though and I know I have no choice but to comply. I just wonder how long for.

I wish that things will change. I wish I could find a zest for life. I wish that I could see a point to it all. I wish that there was enough hope to keep me going.

I find myself wanting to force the change, but I can only see one option for that and I know it’s not the one that everyone else desires. I worry that I will take that option regardless. Suicide is always the fall back position. My trapdoor to escape all of this.

Disappearing Posts…

with 5 comments

Some of you may have noticed that my posts disappeared yesterday for a while. My bloke and I had an argument and in order to hurt me, he signed into here and deleted my blog. Thankfully he had the nouse to back it up first, but I was still upset and felt violated.

I saw Dr N this morning. As always it was good to see him. He always gives me time and is understanding. We talked about various things, including the arguing and anger, work and the CMHT. I got my script and I now have my melatonin so here’s hoping I get a decent nights sleep soon.

He is still keen for me to go back to work, but I just don’t know how I can. I am still as low as I was last May when I was signed off initially. I can’t handle even the smallest thing and I just snap and lash out. I’m worried the stress would tip me over the edge and I’d end up hurting someone or killing myself. Last night I dreamt I was at work and I hit my old boss. It was horrible. I hate that vision of myself and worse, I know it is close to reality. I suspect I wouldn’t last a week, even on part-time hours. I really don’t want to go back before I’m ready, yet I don’t know if I will ever know when I’m ready. The longer I leave it, the harder it is getting.

I am getting frustrated at being left behind and the way this illness has ruined my career. If I’d been well I’d be promoted this September. I am being left behind by my colleagues that started with me. Even worse, people that started after me and who were not as good at their job as me are being promoted ahead of me. I feel like a failure.

I fear returning to work and people’s thoughts about me. I fear the questions about my absence. I fear people’s confusion over why I’ve been in the company over 2 years, but have not been promoted to the next level. I fear people will think I’m useless because of that.

So far I’ve had some fairly negative reactions to my time off from work due to illness and that both upsets and worries me. I feel that I’ve lost people’s respect. What if I can’t find a new project because every manager is too worried about my sickness record? What if they treat me differently?

There is part of me though that is dying to go back. I want to get out of the house and start my life again. I want the freedom and independance that work will give me. I want the social life that work gave me. I want the daily routine. I want a reason to carry on. I’m fed up of this illness ruining my life. I want to go back and be better than ever.

I know that going back would not be the same. I loved my old job, but this wouldn’t be my old job. I will be working on a new project with new people. At first I will not even be on a project, which will be strange and difficult. I don’t want to return to a watered down version. A phased return would be painful for me, even though I know it is for the best. I want an exciting project and want to be in the thick of things. I don’t want to do pointless activities for the sake of it. I don’t want to be stuck in the Manchester office all the time. I don’t want to be learning how to do my job again. I am worried I just won’t be as good at it as I used to be. I am not as sharp and find everything so difficult.

When I went back to my old role for a few days last August, I found it unbearable not being able to do my old job. I found it unbearable knowing that someone else was now in control. I won’t be going back to the same project this time, so maybe that won’t be a problem, but then I’m scared about starting over again with something new.

There are also the small issues of the finance side of things. If I go back my permanent health insurance would be stopped. Initially it is complicated as I won’t be working full hours, but I’d be on some form of pro-rata pay. Also I’m currently applying for ESA. If I tried to go back to work and found I couldn’t manage it, I wouldn’t be eligible to claim again for another 28 weeks. It’s not exactly an incentive to try and go back before you are ready.

I guess we shall see what happens. I am signed off for another 6 weeks or so anyway so won’t be deciding before then. Dr G said yesterday she doesn’t think we can consider it until at least the end of September and I’m not sure I’ll be ready then. I will also have to attend an Occupational Health appointment before they let me back. OH of course might decide that I’m not well enough anyway.

Written by intothesystem

Thursday, 13th August 2009 at 12:36 pm

Urgh…

with 2 comments

I feel awful. I don’t know why, but my mood has dropped like a stone.

I saw Dr G this afternoon. I didn’t really know what to say to her. I just said that my week had been “more of the same”, but she tried to probe further and wanted me to tell her how I actually felt. For some reason I didn’t feel able to. I was just vague and didn’t know how to explain things. She asked me about my suicidality. All the way there I’d been thinking about how I could still do it at any point if the opportunity presented itself. Suicide was on my mind. Yet when asked, I played things down. I said that the thoughts were still there, but that some of the time they aren’t as strong as they have been. I said that, when only a few minutes before seeing her they were as loud as ever.

I think most people would be surprised at my suicidality, even now. I suspect that most people think I wouldn’t do it now as I’ve managed to resist for so long. I suspect that most people think things are improving and I am on the way to recovery. The reality is though I am kept safe and if I wasn’t, I’d be long gone.

In some ways maybe I am on the way to recovery. Lamotrigine has been the first medication to not make me worse, and maybe with time it will make things better. My concentration has improved a little and I’ve started to read again, something I wondered if I’d ever do again. I am usually not grappling with the most extremes of my mood any more, although I still have my moments. There are enough encouraging signs to give Dr G and others some hope.

The problem is it is not enough and I still feel hopeless. In many ways I’m still as ill as ever. I could give up on these signs of recovery at any point. I could and probably would end it all given the chance. It may not work and then I’d be back to where I was last February, but I’m certainly willing to take that risk. I don’t care that I may get better. At the moment things aren’t good enough to want to survive.

I am still not sleeping – rarely getting more than a few hours. Dr G has decided that it’s worth trying Melatonin (Circadin). I need to see Dr N to get the script. I hope it helps. Anything is worth a try.

We also talked about how we are going to manage things until I see the NHS. I will continue to see Dr G for now, but I will probably have to be passed over following my appointment with Dr B (or her team) in September (if I make it that far :S). Something I am not overly keen on.

I wish all this could be over. *sigh*

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 12th August 2009 at 5:31 pm

Anger…

with 3 comments

This is something I’m really ashamed about. Over the past few weeks I’ve been agitated and struggling to manage my anger. Worse still, I’ve often resorted to violence. I have been afraid to admit that there is a problem. I don’t want to reinforce stigma. I am afraid of reinforcing the prejudice that mentally ill people are dangerous and violent.

Over the past month or so things have become more problematic. I have found myself getting angry and agitated, often for no real reason. Things seem to happen very quickly and there doesn’t need to be a trigger. Sometimes I just seem to be agitated and aggressive and I’ve been taking it out on the bloke, both verbally, and more recently, physically, mainly punching, kicking or throwing things. Sometimes I guess I could probably be compared to a toddler throwing a wobbler! I pretty much lose all insight and the smallest thing makes things worse.

Normally, I wouldn’t say I’m someone with a temper. I tend to be pretty calm and argue my point constructively. Although I can get frustrated and agitated at times, I am usually able to contain things and don’t lash out.

In the past I have snapped and thrown things during periods of depression and agitation, but I’ve never directed it at any thing other than myself or the wall. Unfortunately that has changed recently and I’ve started to lash out.

A week past Sunday there was an incident when we were out walking the dog. I’d asked my bloke to do something and he’d ignored me. I asked him why he had ignored me and he said it was because he thought what I wanted him to do was stupid. I argued with him and ended up throwing a stone at him. It was an impulsive action and I didn’t really expect to hit or hurt him. He ducked and it missed, but then he picked it up and threw it back at me hitting me on the head. I made no attempt to avoid the stone. It was almost as if I wanted him to hurt me and I felt I deserved it. It really hurt, leaving me crying hysterically, although I think I was more upset about losing control than I was about the pain.

Last Monday there was another incident. Similar trigger in that I’d asked my bloke to do something and he didn’t, although this time I was even quicker to anger. He didn’t respond immediately so I threw the pair of trainers I was carrying at him. He snapped and hit me back, but I didn’t seem to care that I was being hurt.

I know that my bloke will probably fight back if I hit him, but I don’t care., although often I don’t realise I’m doing anything until I get hurt. There are times though when I’ve punched my partner and he’s threatened to punch me back and I’ve continued even though I know it will eventually hurt. I seem to almost seek the pain. Perhaps it is some weird form of self-harm.

Sometimes these outbursts can be triggered. My bloke does have a habit of purposefully trying to wind me up and taking the piss out of me. I used to just ignore him or get annoyed but not lash out, but lately I’ve been unable to handle this. I just have no tolerance for unfunny “jokes”.

There seems to be this constant underlying irritability and it doesn’t take much to provoke it. I am getting agitated at the smallest things. I just feel so wound up and unable to relax or contain it.

I am worried that things are getting worse. Before, I was getting angry and irritable, but I wasn’t violent. I have threatened violence in the past, but never actually tried to hurt someone. Recently though I’ve even threatened to strangle or stab my partner. I know it’s not right, but at the time I really do want to. I’ve managed to resist and he is also pretty good at restraining me (he is far stronger than I am), but I’m scared that something bad will happen. I don’t trust myself. I never thought I’d throw a stone at someone and I have, so what is to say I won’t just throw a knife across the room if I’m using one and someone upsets me.

I did think that perhaps the Nitrazepam was to blame. After all, one of the worst episodes was the trip to The Peak District after the dose was increased. When I explained what happened here, I didn’t really mention the fact I was quite aggressive. I was too ashamed to admit it.

I admitted things to Dr G last Thursday and she seemed to be pretty concerned. I wrote her a long note as I didn’t think I could explain things face-to-face due to the shame. She wanted me to talk to her rather than use the note, but I found the note easier. I think she saw it as a bit of a backwards step as I’ve not had to write to her recently. We’ve come on a long way in terms of our relationship and I find it a lot easier to be open and honest with her than I used to.

Anyway, she expressed her concern and asked plenty of questions. She even went as far to say that she thinks this anger and violence is as dangerous as suicide. I guess risk of harming others is grounds for admission, just as much as risk of harming oneself.

She was worried that me and my bloke are making things worse for each other and that we are almost self-destructing. I think she is right.  She said that I just have to try and take myself away from the situation and calm myself down as much as possible. If I’m feeling agitated then I have to warn the bloke to stay away and not wind me up!

We have agreed that I should come off the Nitrazepam, although we are not convinced that is to blame. Dr G thinks that this agitation and aggression is a sign that the Bipolar Disorder is not controlled well enough yet. She increased my Lamotrigine again, but also said that we may have to reconsider adding Lithium as a top-up treatment.

We talked about sleep but she decided not to try anything else for now. She wants to see if the increased Lamotrigine helps my mood at all and doesn’t want any sleepers to interfere I guess. My sleep has been terrible both before and since I saw her. I am struggling to get any sleep before it is getting light each day.

She asked me to pop in to see her in a week as she wants to monitor things more closely again. I’m seeing her on Wednesday, so we shall see what happens then. I can barely afford more frequent appointments, but I understand her concern and think the support is probably more important than the money.

I now of course know when I’ll be seeing the NHS psychiatrist, so I guess I’ve got another 6 weeks of Dr G before someone else. I don’t know what is going to happen when I see Dr B. I was meant to stop seeing Dr G, but I don’t want to. I think I may consider continuing to see her privately, even though the CMHT aren’t happy with it. We shall see anyway.

Written by intothesystem

Monday, 10th August 2009 at 9:50 pm

Appointment Letter…

with 10 comments

It came! It came! Would you believe it? I am finally going to see an NHS psychiatrist, only 6 months after I was referred to her. The appointment isn’t until 22nd September, which seems like ages away, but at least I have a date now. The letter has the ominous line “or a member of the team”, so I don’t expect to actually see Dr B, but we shall see.

Anyway.. proper post coming soon.

Written by intothesystem

Monday, 10th August 2009 at 2:44 pm