Into the system…

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Archive for September 2009

Creative Remedies…

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So I started at Creative Remedies today in the performing arts group. There was an interesting mix of people and an awful lot of staff. It was the first week after the summer break and there was a new tutor and some new staff so no one seemed to know what was going on at first. We started with singing, which I enjoyed. I’ve sung a lot in the past so felt at home doing the breathing exercises and warm up. This was followed by some movement and yoga stretching, which was far more energetic that I’d expected. I was falling out of my top, so know to wear something with a little more covering next time! Overall the session was okay, but I’m not sure how helpful it is going to be. It kept me distracted for a couple of hours and got me out I guess.

Friday and Saturday were days of cooking. We made some nice platters to take along to the wedding. Pink Swirly Meringues and Mars Bar Cakes on one, Goats Cheese and Red Onion Rolls and Pizza Fingers on another. I also made gingerbread biscuits and my bloke made coleslaw and potato salad with his own mayo. The meringues and mars bar cakes were especially popular. The reception was nice and relaxed. It was lovely to see the brides and there was an impressive buffet. We left fairly early though as we didn’t know many people and we were flagging a little.

Yesterday, my bloke’s mum, sister and boyfriend came up. It was the sister-in-law-to-be’s birthday on Saturday so I made a cake and we had dinner. I always find visits from the in-laws stressful and this was no exception. I was ready to hide by time they left and we had an early night.

Tomorrow I see Dr G. I’m glad. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her and I need input. Things have not been good since I last saw her and I hope she will have some suggestions. We will see anyway.

Written by intothesystem

Monday, 14th September 2009 at 8:35 pm

Tiresome…

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Another week has passed and I’ve not written again. I don’t know where all the time goes.

On Monday someone came from Birmingham University to interview me for Mood Disorder research. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would, but that may be because I was hardly verbose. I just generally ended up saying “yep” to every question. There were questions about your family situation and stuff. Then there was a series of questions about depressive symptoms, all of which I have experienced at some point or another. She recorded that part of the interview and the following part about mania. There were questions about agitated depression and dysphoric mania too, both of which I’ve experienced and most of my depressions are agitated.

There was a section on psychotic features, most of which didn’t apply, but there were some things mentioned that I’ve experienced and never really considered psychosis before. Those dissociative experiences and weird feelings where the world don’t quite feel right were given air time. There are times when I lose all sense of size and relativity. Paranoia too, but I guess everyone experiences that at times.

There were questions about medication and treatment. I realise now that I forgot a load of drugs that I had been on. I don’t know if it’s worth emailing to let them know. It felt weird when there were questions about hospitalisation and ECT and it made me realise just how ill I have been.

Her list of symptoms and questions made me realise that I can’t deny having Bipolar Disorder. I had experienced pretty much everything mentioned for both depression and mania (although generally not as severe on the manic side). I sometimes wonder if I’m actually just plain depressed as I spend so much more time on that side of the coin, but I can’t deny that I’ve been manic or at least hypomanic plenty of times too. More so, it made me realise that I am really quite severely ill. I often think because I have Bipolar II disorder, rather than I, it means I’m not that bad, but I guess that isn’t really the case. I’ve been lucky to have not had any real psychotic experiences and severe manic episodes, but my depressions are pretty much as severe as they get and I’ve been through a lot treatment-wise too.

At the end the girl tried to take my blood, but failed. I have really terrible veins. Small and deep. She’s given me a pack to take to my GP so they can take it instead. I wonder if they ever will find a gene or two that causes all of this.

Afterwards I completed the questionnaires she left me. Millions of ticky, or rather crossy, boxes. A lot of personality type questions about honesty, social anxiety and esteem. A section on events proceeding first experiences of illness, which for me was pretty much uneventful. No bereavements, abuse etc during my childhood.

Tuesday was fairly dull, except my father popped in for a couple of hours. He was in the area for a trade show so came over for dinner in the evening. We went to the new Fish and Chips in Alty and then came home and had cake. Good food and it was nice to see him for a wee while.

On Wednesday I saw Dr N for my fortnightly visit. I was pretty honest with him about how the past couple of weeks have been. Things have gone steeply downhill since a month ago and he was concerned. We talked about self harm and suicide again. We also talked about my social worker and seeing the NHS psychiatrist. He warned me that the NHS psych will probably try and get me to try an anti-depressant again especially considering the drop in mood over the past couple of weeks. He made some comment about “that’s all they [NHS psychiatrists]  seem to do”, which amused me. I’m worried about this though. I don’t think it is a good idea considering how bad things were when I was on them, but then I wonder because things have not exactly been great without.

I forgot to take the blood pack with me, so he’s going to do it next week when I’ve seen Dr G. No doubt I will have a meds increase to sort out as well.

This morning I had a visit from J, my social worker. It was a long one and I found it tiring. I tried to be honest with her too, talking about the increase in suicidal thoughts and the agitated anger outbursts that have been happening for a while. It was shaming to talk about wanting to hurt people and myself. I felt uncomfortable and was fidgeting a lot. She was pushing for info though and I felt obliged to supply.

I was alarmed when she mentioned the crisis team and hospital. I managed to calm her down and say that I’ve managed to keep myself safe over the past couple of weeks and I think I will be able to going forward, but even still. She agreed with me in the end and said she will not take action, but she kept reiterating the fact we could get the crisis team out. I don’t trust the crisis team and I certainly don’t want to go through the NHS inpatient experience again. I don’t want to put my family through that either. I am scared that my bloke will be shocked it was even considered. I have not really let on that things have been much worse in the past fortnight. I have to phone her or ALERT if things get worse again, although I still don’t have their number so not sure how to do that.

She wanted us to talk about what her role was and what I want her to do for me. I didn’t really have an answer as I find her a little useless and wonder what the point of her appointmesnts is. I was keen for her to liase with other services and make referrals for me though. We discussed other things out there, especially therapy. She is getting me on the list but warned me it will be an incredibly long wait, even just for an assessment. She also suggested Beating The Blues in the interim, but it’s more CBT and I’m not sure Kate had much positive to say about it. I start Creative Remedies next week and Positive Thoughts in a couple of weeks so we shall see how those go. She also suggested I tried the Day Centre in Warrington. I’ve been once before, but was too scared to talk to anyone there and left after 5 minutes reading the notice boards. She suggested she took me in and introduced me, which may be better. I said I will see how Creative Remedies go first and then decide.

There was a lot of boring stuff about setting expectations for recovery and doing things to help. It was a repetition of much of what she’s said before and got quite tiresome. She talked a lot about my work and how if I am ever to go back things will have to be different. We talked about the competitive nature of the company and she seemed appalled at the way things work and shocked that I accepted it. I think she really wanted me to consider leaving and working elsewhere, but didn’t dare say as much. I know things will have to be different, but I am not sure I want them to be so different I leave my job. We will have to see.

This afternoon I need to get down to some serious baking. My friends who get married tomorrow have asked for contributions to the buffet and bar instead of traditional wedding presents. Hopefully I can knock up some yummy contributions and everything goes well.

Hope everyone out there is okay. Take care folks xx

Mad Men…

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Again it has been 10 days since I last wrote. I don’t know where the days have gone.

I saw Dr N last Thursday. Just a routine appointment to pick up my scripts, but it was good to talk. He asked the usual questions. Mood, suicidal thoughts, self harm etc. He seemed concerned. More so than in recent appointments.

He pointed out that he could see my scalp was in a bad state. As well as the trich, I also struggle with skin picking or Dermatillomania to give it the technical name. My scalp gets the worst of it. Every day, usually at night, I pick and scratch at my head until it bleeds. It’s covered in terrible wounds, some a few centimetres across. My hair hides the worst of it, but it’s got so bad that it can be seen at the moment. It’s always worst when I’m not sleeping well as I tend to lie awake scratching my head to distract myself from the insomnia.

I have done it for years, longer than the hair pulling even. I think it started when I had chicken pox as a child and I would itch my head. I was maybe 8 or 9? I can’t really remember.

I was shocked that Dr N noticed and mentioned it. I’d confessed it to him a long while ago, but he had never brought it up before. I tried to change the subject pretty quickly and felt uncomfortable that he had seen.

Both the skin picking and hair pulling make the hairdressers a nightmare. My hair is thin in places and there are bits where it is really short where I’ve damaged the scalp so badly it doesn’t grow properly. The scars and cuts are awful and would make most hairdressers flinch. I’ve been asked what has happened so many times and I don’t like making up lies, but I’m too ashamed to tell the truth. One hairdresser even insisted on putting on gloves when she saw the wounds, too afraid to touch them. I last had my hair cut when I was in The Priory, knowing that the hairdresser there would be understanding. I often go over 6 months between a hair cut and it’s been a year before. I try and avoid it as much as possible, even if that means my hair looks rubbish and gets far longer than I’d like. My hair really needs cutting, but I just can’t face it.

Other than the trip to the GP, very little has happened. I’ve spent lots of time watching back to back episodes of Mad Men. If you haven’t seen it, it’s an American TV series about advertising executives during the 1960s. Over here it has been shown on BBC Four, but that doesn’t mean it’s dull and serious! I loved it the first time round, but I watched a lot of it whilst I was in The Priory and ECT has erased most of it from my memory. Watching it again has been a little weird as it brings up memories of those times. I started watching it again because I saw that Series 3 has started in the US now. Will be good to have more to watch. It kills a few hours and takes me away from this world for a little while.

In other news, my bloke may be going back to work a little part time. He left his job to care for me since I came out of The Priory last May. His replacement has quit suddenly, so his old employer have asked if he can do a few hours until they can find someone else. He went in on Tuesday morning, but hasn’t been in again yet.

For me, this is quite exciting. I feel that I am getting a little independance back, being left alone for a few hours. I miss the time I got to myself when he was at work. It is hard being together 24/7.

It is a challenge though. I am still fighting the thoughts and the time alone makes them harder to ignore. It feels like tempting the devil. The monster tells me that “you can do it now, you know you want to”. Over the past few months I’ve had little opportunity to act on my suicidal thoughts. These few hours alone change that and I know there is a risk. My bloke worries about it and I don’t want him to, but I know his worries are justified. I wish I could give him a 100% guarantee that it won’t happen, but I don’t think I can. I am in control to a point and will fight as much as I can, but I can’t guarantee that I will win. The thoughts are intrusive and often impulsive and I know I could act on them before I even think about it. They can spiral out of control and it can be hard to stop yourself when you get to a point. I know I need to hit the panic button before things get that far. I’ve told him I will, but I can’t even guarantee that.

Despite the risk, I still want him to go. I felt bad that he left his job for me as it is. I want him to be able to work again. I can’t be watched 24/7 forever. I am going to have to take this step eventually and it might as well be now. I could be waiting the rest of my life if I waited for the thoughts to go away. I don’t want to let the thoughts win. If he stays at home with me I am doing that. I am letting the thoughts control my life.

Generally I’ve been pretty low over the past few weeks. I’ve been lower, but not much lower than this. I am carrying on, because I don’t know what else to do, but it’s a struggle. Most of the time I just feel so empty and numb. There are still a few better moments, but less than there were a month ago and the average score is down. There are still worse moments too. Fits of rage, agitiation, arguments. There’s this little bubbling pot and occasionally it boils over.

I am disappointed that improvement has stalled. It feels like I am failing. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough to get better. Maybe I am just stuck in depression. There had been seeds of hope, but I am not sure they will propagate. I don’t want to give up on the Lamotrigine as it has been far better than anything else I’ve tried, but it’s just not doing enough. It seems I am heading into a long period of mind-numbingly dull depression, with only the occasional painful period of agitiation thrown in to liven things up. I guess I am already there and I don’t see any way out yet. I don’t know what all this means. I guess I will have to talk to Dr G when she’s back from holiday and see what her thoughts are. I suspect she may eventually give in and resort to the Lithium. She’s threatened it often enough.

I don’t have all that much coming up to look forward to.

Like Seaneen, on Monday I have someone turning up to interview me for the Cardiff and Birmingham Universities’ Bipolar Disorder study. I am a little scared about going over everything and hope it won’t make my mood worse. I feel forewarned having read Seaneen’s post, so it may be a little easier, but it’s true that it isn’t fun for anyone reliving your worst moments. I do think it will be interesting though and I definitely want to support research where I can so hopefully it will be okay.

I see the chocolate teapot again on Friday 11th. She’s actually done some stuff at last. I finally got the referral through for the ALERT service (Out of hours telephone support). They haven’t called me to give me the number yet so I can’t use it, but at least she’s contacted them. I also got the dates through for the Creative Remedies groups. I start on 16th September. There’s a performing arts group and a visual arts group, both lasting 2 hours a week, so that will give me something to do.

I’ve also got a wedding to go to on the 12th, my NHS psych appointment on 22nd and an ESA medical on the 24th. I’m really dreading the latter. I am scared they are going to tell me I’m not ill, I’m just making it all up and I should go back to work. I’m scared they will think I’m a fraud. I did the questionnaire really quickly and sloppily as I just wanted it over and I’m worried now that I didn’t say enough. I have read so many horror stories lately that I am quite worried, but I just hope I can get through it. I am claiming under the youth rules as I haven’t paid enough NI and can’t claim income-related due to my bloke’s savings. Unfortunately they didn’t take the youth rules into account at first and rejected me, so I’m having to appeal. Usually you only get a medical after you have been claiming for 3 months and although it is over 3 months since I applied I haven’t been paid a penny yet due to the appeal. I just hope it gets sorted out soon. Benefits are a nightmare. I don’t see how anyone gets away with claiming when they are not entitled. It seems that most people who are entitled can’t even get them.

Anyway, enough for now. If I posted more often they wouldn’t be such mammoth posts. I shall try.