Into the system…

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Posts Tagged ‘agitation

Home Alone…

with 18 comments

Time keeps passing. I don’t know where it goes to.

This weekend has been somewhat strange. The bloke is away for the weekend at a stag do and I’m home with just the doggy for company. I don’t remember the last time I was here on my own overnight, let alone for a whole weekend, so I don’t really know what to do with myself. Aside from my trip in the summer, there have been so few times when I’ve been without the bloke for more than a day since we went to uni. I was “well” in the summer too and now things are not so easy. I am managing, but it has made me realise how used I am to having him around and how much his presence keeps me functioning. Without him here, the temptation to give in and give up is so much greater.

Getting up and dressed is a struggle at the moment and I feel even less urge to conform when I don’t have reminders from the bloke. The guilt wears on me when he’s about and it serves to push me into action. It was only the desperate requests from the dog to be let out, that dragged me out of bed this morning. The thought of having to clean up any mess was enough to force me downstairs, but I climbed back in when she was sorted. I had to get up in the end as I was going over to a new friend’s for her kiddy’s 1st birthday party, but it took me literally hours to work myself up to that. Without that commitment today, the temptation would have been to stay in bed all weekend.

Food is another problem. The bloke is the cook in our house. I can bake cakes, but when it comes to a proper meal I don’t tend to bother. I don’t have the best appetite these days, but when food is presented to me I do tend to eat. Without the bloke around to cook for me, I don’t tend to bother. I’m even less inclined to cook at the moment as both our oven and the microwave are broken.

The dog is a commitment too and she does keep me going, but she isn’t as effective at nagging as the bloke is and I find the commitment straining. She did get me up this morning and she gets me into the kitchen, prompting me to eat at the same time that I feed her, but she is also tiring and I feel guilty when I just want to stay in bed and ignore her. She also got me to go outside for a walk, which I know is good for me, but at the same time I wish I didn’t have to. It’s so tempting not to bother, but I cannot deny her a walk for long or she turns into a great big bonkers thing, which is even more draining to live with than the walk.

I’m really tired. I want to sleep forever, yet sleeping for just a few hours seems to be enough of a challenge. It was late when I finally dragged myself upstairs to bed last night and I sat and knitted up there for a while because I couldn’t sleep.

Before the bloke left, I had to promise I’d be safe this weekend. He has been somewhat paranoid over the past few weeks that I’m suicidal again. The last two years have been particularly difficult at this time, in the run up to my birthday, so I know he is on edge. He doesn’t trust me at all and although I know his fears are not unfounded and it is only because he cares, it is still hard. One day last week I had nipped out and wasn’t home when he was due back from work. My mobile phone battery had died so he couldn’t get hold of me. I’d even left a note to say that I’d be back in a minute, because I worried that without my phone he would wonder where the hell I was, but he didn’t see it and just flew into a tailspin instead. He completely jumped to conclusions and panicked that I’d gone out to kill myself.

I’d actually nipped out to rescue the dog’s ball because she had lost it on our walk and I couldn’t get it out of the brambles and control her at the same time. She has a habit of diving head first into all the brambles and rose briers to rescue her ball then getting stuck – we both end up cut and bleeding, as I have to battle to rescue both her and the ball. I literally had to drag her home, shut her in the house and then go back out to dig out the ball from the bushes. By the time I got home I was greeted by the bloke just about to drive off in my car to try and find me, ranting and raving with anger. This isn’t the first time this has happened, but it the first time in a long while and I was disappointed that things had not moved on and that the trust hasn’t been rebuilt by now.

It turns out that he mainly panicked because he had been reading my mood log. I was updating one online and I had no idea he had been reading it. I tended to keep my notes in there very short and they were only for me, so a note mentioning suicidal planning thoughts did not necessarily mean what he thought it did. I was angry that he had invaded my privacy again, but I know it only comes from fear and concern. I don’t feel able to update the log any more though. It was meant to be for me and no one else. A reminder of how things are, because so often I cannot remember what my mood was like a week or a month ago.

But anyway. I agreed that I will be safe. I am safe, but it doesn’t mean the temptation isn’t there. My mood is low and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it. This weekend would have been the perfect opportunity and there are times when I cannot help the thoughts, but I have resigned myself to sticking around for a while yet.

I know the fact it is winter and in the run up to my birthday can’t be helping. I have been in hospital at this time for the last two years, and both times I was desperately suicidal and determined not to be around for my birthday. This year I seem to have accepted that I will be around and although I am not overly happy about it, I’m resigned to it. I am low and I don’t really want to be alive, but I feel the obligation to be. Also, I’m not sure why, but being 25 seems like a much better idea than 24 anyway – something about round numbers I think. My worry is that I’m already having to battle the thoughts that 25 is a good age to die. I have no desire to see 26, even if I am sure I will see 25. I hope that my mood will pick up before those thoughts get too strong or that the approach of my 26th birthday gets too urgent.

As for my 25th birthday, as Seaneen will recall, my invite for a smear test arrived. I went and had it a couple weeks ago and it was fairly painless and straightforward, although I bled quite a bit afterwards. Unfortunately though I got a letter on Thursday saying the result was “inconclusive” so I have to go and have another one in three months. I think this was just a case of not enough cells, at least that’s what I’m hoping, but it’s still pretty annoying to have to wait before they do it again.

In other news, I’ve had a review form for DLA to fill in for a couple of weeks now and I’ve failed to do it. I wrote to them before Christmas at the same time I wrote to notify the DWP that I was starting work part-time for ESA purposes, to say there had been *some* improvement to my condition since my initial application for DLA. I felt I had to, as I have been receiving Higher Rate Care and I am not sure I should be getting that rate any more. They sent me out a review form and I started to complete it, but I made a complete mess. I filled in my surname in the first name section, my date of birth wrong and made mistakes all over the place, because I couldn’t concentrate enough to fill it in and my memory is so shoddy I kept forgetting things. After some frustration, I rang them to ask for another form because I had made so many mistakes. I got this replacement two weeks ago now and I have still not even started it. Thankfully because I requested the review rather than them, there is no deadline for me to get it back, but I know I need to do it. I can’t face it though. I can copy across the stuff that was correct on my first attempt, but I don’t know what to do about the rest of it. The form is overwhelming and I don’t know what to write, especially as my mood has been so unstable of late. Sometimes I look at the form, think nothing is wrong and answer everything as if I was fine, but other days I look at the form and realise I can’t do any of the things it asks, including filling in the form for that matter. I know you have to say how your good and bad days very and highlight what the worst case scenario is, but I just don’t know what to write. I don’t even know what to put in the diagnosis section. Should I have told them that my diagnosis is under question back when it was first questioned a year ago, or can I just tell them I don’t know any more? I guess the latter is the truth, I don’t know, but I’m not sure if I should have told them I don’t know. As far as DLA and ESA are concerned, I assume they think my diagnosis to be Bipolar II disorder, which is what it was when I applied. As I don’t know what it has been changed to, I guess I can’t tell them, but I worry about what Dr M or Dr N will write when asked. I hate having to evaluate how bad I am. I honestly don’t know.

Hmm I don’t know what else to write. There are things I keep thinking about to write, but I just don’t know what to say. It has been the same all week. For weeks really. I am meant to be keeping a diary for therapy again and I haven’t managed to write anything properly. I just don’t know what to say. Brain is mush. I cannot think, I can barely feel. I just want a new head.

I am feeling increasingly agitated this evening. I am not sure why. Maybe now is the time I stop and knit for a bit to see if it calms me down. I spent a lot of yesterday knitting – I made a hat for the little boy’s birthday today and started a frilly scarf and it kept me busy and distracted whilst I was on my own. It’s the first thing I’ve done for a while. I haven’t had the motivation or the concentration for a while. Sometimes I get the urge to knit and think of a million projects I could be doing and other days I cannot even comprehend lifting the needles. There has been a lot of the latter lately, yet yesterday my head was buzzing with ideas of things I could knit. I can only knit so much though and when my concentration is so crap lately as much as I want to make these magical creations, there’s no way I’m actually able to. I end up having to undo as much as I do.

hmm. Head is starting to spin. I’m both tired and agitated and feel like I may need to throw things soon if things get any worse. I don’t know why I am feeling like this. I have been good lately and I’m avoiding caffeine in the hope that would ease the occasional agitation, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. Maybe I should just go to bed and try to sleep or maybe I should have a bath. Perhaps I’m just grouchy and tired. I don’t know.

This is a bitty post. I don’t seem able to write properly at the moment. I started writing this about 4pm and it’s now 11.30pm. It’s not even very long. I have found it really hard to try and get things down or to concentrate on it. I have watched bits of TV and fed the animals and stuff in between, but the rest of the time I have just been staring at the box wondering what to put in it, or more likely how to slow down and speed up and unravel my thoughts to try and type them. Some of the time it feels like my brain is like treacle and the thoughts are just so slow and other times they are bouncing around and rattling off the sides and at the moment both is happening at the same time and it just feels like a big ball of mush. It all makes no sense.

Anyway I am going to stop and kick the dog outside. She’s already taken herself to bed, but she needs to go out or I’ll get woken up very early in the morning! I don’t intend on being up early. The bloke isn’t due back until at least mid-afternoon and I think I’m leaning towards a morning of hibernation.

Day 5…

with 5 comments

in the nuthouse (not the godawful Big Brother one).

I’m updating purely for something to do. I don’t think anything is going to happen today. No visitors and no ward round.

My ward round yesterday was strange. The usual scary NHS experience of a room full of people and not having any idea who most of them were. It’s not like we have any occupation or therapy here so there can’t even be OTs. Unless there were and they just do nothing! I was too nervous and hyper to ask who they were or remember if they told me their names.

I was interviewed by a psych whose job title I cannot remember, but Dr M was there too and interjected now and then. I was so nervous, that mixed with the hypomania, I became pretty incoherent, speaking so fast they were grappling to keep up. I started by trying to lay down my guidelines – respect, not being patronised and being informed. Not sure how much they listened. I was asked and talked about my diagnosis and how it came about, when I first sought help and what happened following, my last admission here, ECT, The Priory, medication and more. I talked so so much in the half hour that I became hoarse and barely stopped for breath. Felt like both hours due to the amount covered and minutes due to speed! At the end they decided that they needed more time to read my notes and discuss before they did anything and suggested that they would call me back in later so they could give me an idea of the plan. I agreed to this.

Sadly later never came. I don’t know if this is because of what happened afterwards. At 1.30 which was my original appointment time my useless social worker, J turned up uninvited and apparently unannounced. I had been asked if I wanted her there and said no, which is why they could change my time to this morning. The nurses seemed to be as confused as I was when she arrived. J saw me and proceeded to wind me up, which as I was already agitated was not helpful at all. She basically suggested I have made bad choices to end up here and it is all my fault. She doesn’t seem to recognise or acknowledge mental illness despite it being her job. She moaned about not going in ward round with me, ignoring the fact I didn’t ask her to come. Apparently it is just what happens. Well no it isn’t if I am asked and say no, surely? She then asked to see the doctor and went in without me. I am angry about this because I explicitly asked to be treated like an adult and be kept informed, but I was not involved in this conversation. I don’t know what was said, but she came out and told me they intend to RE-assess me next week before they decide to write my CPA or do anything. I got the impression I would not be involved in this latter process. She then left saying she will be checking exactly when my next ward round was so she can be there. I didn’t seem to have a choice in this matter and it seems they are generally weekly. No wonder no one gets out very fast with all this waiting to be seen.

I still hoped I would see the doctor again and they would have a plan for me, but it didn’t happen. I fear they decided just to talk to J and not bother with me, despite my wishes.

I am concerned by the mention of reassessment. Surely that is what happened yesterday? Admittedly I was hypomanic so it may not have been as clear as they would like, but for all they know I could be very manic by next week and they can’t reassess me every week before they do anything. I could be here forever. I also worry it means they do not trust or believe me. I have been feeling a little paranoid.

I moaned about J a lot to my bloke when she’d gone and said I wanted to change. He called the CMHT afterwards. Told J’s manager I wasn’t happy and hadn’t been for a while. Apparently they are meeting today to discuss and consider someone else. I’ve not been informed by anyone here about this yet, just by the bloke. Another sign of being ignored.

They asked if I wanted to complain formally. I was unsure about this, but have been encouraged by my bloke to write a letter, which I did last night. It is probably too long, but there have been so many niggling problems, as well as her general attitude, it was hard to express things. That and hypomania leads to verbiosity.

I feel a lot less hyper and giddy this morning and may be starting to come down a little. Kinda in two minds about this. Some of the hypomania has felt pretty good over the last couple days. Writing and writing. Not feeling tired. Things feeling bright and fast. It makes a change to numbing depression. But, and there is a but, I was worried about how I was coming across. It may have been to blame for the lack of response in ward round. I have also worried about things turning really nasty and the background thoughts becoming louder whilst still having this energy. Although my mood is mixed, the hypomania has been dominant meaning it is less bad.

Now I feel a little agitated, but mainly unable to think. Numb and bored. Frustrated. Wish I knew what was happening.

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 13th January 2010 at 9:59 am

Am I Being Fair…?

with 14 comments

A question that is plaguing me and my relationship at the moment.

My partner has been objecting to what I’ve written about our arguments lately. I am not sure he appreciates me writing about our relationship in such a public, but one-sided way. Maybe it is unfair to expect him to sit back without the opportunity to say his piece, but I need somewhere to work all of this out. I need to know if I am making sense. I need someone to listen.

He is of course right that I am only showing my side of the story and I am not giving him the opportunity to defend himself. Maybe I could let him write his own post, give his own argument, but I’m not sure it would be suitable for publication! ;) It is true though that much of what I have written has presented the facts and I am not trying to criticise or upset him with these posts. He did indeed call my illness a “stupid teenage fantasy” and does indeed make little snide comments about my blogging, so he cannot argue with that.

He tells me though that I do not realise how much the things I write hurt him and that I shouldn’t portray him as some big evil monster. I don’t mean to do that. He isn’t. We really do have our problems at the moment, but I don’t think he acts with any malice. I don’t think he gets any pleasure out of annoying or hurting me. He just doesn’t know how to deal with everything that is going on. I’m pretty sure he genuinely tries to understand better, but I am just not sure that it works.

One thing he said was that his sulking is not in any way aimed at me. He said that when he read about me stopping my medication he was really angry and that when he went off to sulk he wasn’t trying to manipulate me, he was just taking time out so he didn’t do or say something he may regret. That seems fair enough. There are times I have to take myself away from a situation. The problem is though I am unsure. Even if he doesn’t mean it that way, it still puts me on the back foot and makes me feel guilty. Of course he says that is my problem and that I shouldn’t think everything is about trying to hurt me. I guess it is my own fault for feeling guilty, but perhaps he should find another way of staying in control and maybe he shouldn’t give me the cold shoulder when I try and find out what is wrong.

When I said that our long conversation (argument) on Saturday night didn’t get us anywhere he was upset as well. He felt it did help and that we were getting somewhere. He argued that I am always seeing the negative in things and that we’re never going to get anywhere if I continue with that attitude. Yes, we did say things that needed to be said, but I am unsure if we actually got any closer to finding a solution. I know that he was trying though.

We had another one of those conversations on Sunday night. He said he’d been making a concious effort all day on Sunday not to make the biting comments I find so frustrating, yet I can’t say I noticed an improvement. This confuses me. Are things really not as bad as I think they are, but because of the negative nature of depressed thinking I am feeling things more acutely? Am I just making things up to taunt myself with?

We seemed to spend a great deal of time discussing the merits of twitter. I do think things have escalated on the blogging-hatred front since I started using twitter more regularly. You may remember that I wrote a blog post about my feelings on twitter about a month ago. I myself was sceptical of its merits, but I have come around because I do genuinely think it is helpful and dare I say it? I enjoy it. I enjoy being in the middle of discussion between an interesting group of people. I like the fact that twitter is taking my blog to new audiences. I like the fact it is quick and I can log my thoughts without having to dwell or develop them.

One of his arguments was that 140 characters is far too little to say anything constructive. I thought that too at first, but I am amazed at what you can actually convey through a few short messages. Thoughts after all aren’t logically constructed into sentences and paragraphs when you have them, so sharing a few snippets can still get across the same message.

His other was that he doesn’t understand why I want to broadcast little snippets of info to a bunch of strangers. He doesn’t really understand why I want an audience on my blog. I know I didn’t really start writing this for an audience. I started as I hoped it would be therapeutic, but I have found it helpful, interesting and encouraging to know there are people out there that care. I have met people who I do genuinely count as friends and I have received a great deal of useful advice and support. I wouldn’t get all that from a paper journal hidden under my bed.

As for twitter and an audience. I only really intended it to be aimed at my blogging audience. Little extra snippets of information for those that already read. Little updates for when I don’t have the words for more. It has developed into a new outlet though and also a new source of readers to this blog.

We also talked about me and my illness. His main argument was that I do not try hard enough to get better. This is an argument I hate, because it implies such a lack of understanding about mental illness, that I thought I could have changed by now. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, it isn’t going to take this illness away. I may be able to ease some of the symptoms, but that will be as far as it goes. Yes, I know that lifestyle changes can be useful and I even know that eating better and exercise can help, but it is not a panacea. The eat better, exercise more, be a better person stuff just doesn’t wash.

He is worried that I am pinning all my hopes of recovery on finding a wonder drug and/or therapy and that I am not going to do anything myself to get better. I am hoping that one day I will find a cocktail of medication that helps. Most of the people I know that have had some recovery have been aided in that by medication. It is often pointed out at The Priory that you should take a three pronged approach to recovery: medication, therapy and lifestyle change. By pinning my hopes for recovery on therapy and medication I am not being lazy, just realistic. I would also hope that the fact I have hopes for therapy (when the NHS finally get their ass in gear) does suggest I want to do some of the work to get better myself. Therapy is far from an easy process and involves a great deal of hard work, work which I am going to have to do.

As an example of how I am being lazy and not trying hard enough, he says that I haven’t done anything to improve my sleep, except take a few pills. I have tried medication, but I’ve been through the sleep hygiene stuff too. Admittedly I’ve made less effort in recent months, but only because I have given up hope. I have spent years swinging between hypersomnia and insomnia, although in recent years I’ve been firmly in the insomnia camp. I have tried all sorts of things and nothing has succeeded in restoring “normal” sleep. What is normal is questionable anyway, because there are times when 4 hours is fine, other times when 4 hours is no where near enough and even times when 4 hours feels too much. Sometimes I can have 2 hours sleep and feel fine. Sometimes I can have 2 hours sleep and feel awful. Other times I can have 7 hours sleep and still feel exhausted. I guess it’s all linked to mood, but I guess it also means my sleep will never be great.

He suggests I need to follow more of the CBT and self-help stuff we went over at The Priory. Setting myself a routine and activity scheduling. I do need to get back into a routine, but it is understandable that things go haywire over Christmas. I know activity scheduling was something that was always encouraged at The Priory, but I never really found it helpful. I also worry that this is just another means for exerting control. He can try and make me follow a routine he approves of and if I don’t stick to it, then he can get angry and tell me I’m not trying hard enough.

His latest suggestion is that I only use the internet/blog in the evenings to try and contain the time I spend on here, but I fear this is merely so he will be around at the time I’m doing it. Of course him being around will mean I will spend even less time on here because the automatic guilt-trip will be triggered and secondly, he will be able to keep an eye on me whilst I do it. When I tried to go online this morning, forgetting this had been suggested, he got angry at me and told me I was only allowed online at night and that I should do as I’m told. I had never agreed to following his suggestion, yet he was determined to enforce it. I am not sure I’m comfortable with his assumption that I will do as I’m told

I can’t remember what else was discussed on Sunday. I don’t exactly enjoy the arguments and I have found my short term memory seems to be pretty selective. Some of the bits that provoke the strongest emotion and reaction stick, but the rest slips through my hands like sand.

I do remember that I gave up before the bloke was ready to stop. I couldn’t take any more of the argument and at 2am or whatever it was I was too tired to discuss anything properly. He was annoyed at this, but I couldn’t help it. I didn’t want to start the discussion then anyway. It would be a lot easier to talk about such things when I’m actually functioning properly.

The thing is now I am confused and conflicted. I wonder if I’m being fair. I wonder if this is all my fault and if I am overreacting. I wonder if I am just seeing the negatives all the time. But things have got to the stage now that I am always suspicious of his motives. Is he trying to make me feel bad so that he can control me? Is he trying to guilt trip me into compliance? Is he just saying all of this to get his own way?

I wonder if anything will ever change. I really don’t know what to do.

Alison suggested on my last post we had some time apart and it is something I have thought about a lot myself, but I do not know how feasible it is. I hope that him going back to work will help. At least it will give us a few hours space. His cold is now improving, but his attempt to get to work this morning proved futile due to the snow. Both routes out of the village towards Warrington were difficult – one impassable and one almost so and he didn’t want to get stuck on the way back, so he turned around and came home. Unless it dramatically warms up overnight there’s little sign of him getting there tomorrow either. We’ve had another couple of inches since he got home this morning.

Even if he does get to work soon, a few hours apart probably isn’t going to be enough to help. Would a temporary separation be useful? It might make us realise what things we miss about each other and it might give me some space to get better. Our relationship was once long distance and it is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I just don’t know if he’d be happy about it and I don’t even know if I could. Things are not good at the moment and I wonder how Dr N and the CMHT will react if I am on my own. I wonder how I would cope. I worry that I would end up in hospital, perhaps not because he would get me sectioned or maybe even not because I couldn’t cope, but pretty much because there is no where else for me to go. I can’t exactly go home – my support is up here and I’d go mad after a couple of days with my parents anyway and I don’t really have any friends I could stay with. I don’t have anywhere else to go.

As has been mentioned before, I don’t think I am well enough to make any big decisions on our relationship whilst I am still in the acute throes of this illness. I am pretty sure things would be a lot easier if I was well. My illness has skewed the power relationship and I think that has escalated the worries about control. I think he wants to control me, because he wants to keep me safe. I am in a weakened position naturally, because he is my carer and ultimately if he wanted me in hospital he could make it so. Before I was his equal and I had things of my own and they gave me freedom. I had my career and my work friends, both of which I have lost through illness. I find it hard because I don’t feel I have anything of my own any more and that only adds to the feeling that I have no freedom anymore.

Admittedly we argued before I was ill, but it is true that arguments are a fact of life in relationships and things have been so much worse lately. The problem is, I can’t really remember the good times. A combination of depression and the effects of ECT means they’ve pretty much gone. I can barely remember our engagement. It makes it very easy to think that our relationship is all bad and maybe it should be over, when really things are just a little difficult at the moment and there is a lot going for us. NYE was our 7 year anniversary. That’s a long time and we must have been doing something right to get this far.

You would be forgiven for reading this post and thinking that our relationship struggles are the only thing going through my mind at the moment, but they are not. These struggles are the thing which I feel most able to write about, but on top of all this there are other struggles going on. I want to write about them, yet I am scared about doing so. The depression is pretty intense, but the agitation is back again and the only respite I have is my appreciation of snow. I love snow and it has been a welcome distraction from the worst of my thoughts. Sadly I know that as the snow melts that respite will disappear and I will be left with the misery that fills the rest of my mind. I do not relish that thought.

Stream of Conciousness…

with 10 comments

I started this post on Monday, but didn’t get time to finish it. It’s now Sunday! I don’t know where my weeks are going. I keep snatching five, ten minutes or so to write, but it takes me half that time to work out where I was before. I keep wishing I could write more, but other things get in the way. I guess more accurately I could say another person gets in the way. My bloke is still not too keen on me spending time on here and that means I usually have to fit it in when he’s not around.

At Creative Remedies on Monday we were asked to write. To write and to keep writing whatever came into our heads for three minutes. I wrote something private, something which I had thought about writing on here for a while. My thoughts were about how I come across at Creative Remedies. I behave like I used to at work and at uni. Friendly, helpful, bright, but hiding how I actually feel. There is a front there that hides the illness. An act. I feel like I have two halves. One outgoing and intelligent, the other ill and flawed. One bright, one dark.

I soon wished I hadn’t have written this. The next step of the exercise was to place our work in a pile on the table. Each one would be passed onto someone else who would then highlight the bits they most liked. The idea was to give us suggestions of how we could turn our stream of conciousness into something a little more creative. I didn’t want to share these inner thoughts. I didn’t want to let anyone in and break down the front. It was made even worse because my notebook is distinctive so whoever got it would know it was mine.

I felt almost sick as I handed over my book. I was given someone else’s piece. Theirs was fairly personal too, but completely anonymous and it gave me no real idea of the context. It didn’t let me in like mine would let someone else in. I was jealous of the guarded nature of their writing.

I could see who had mine. They were writing fervently on my piece. I worried about what they thought. They hesitated to pass it back still writing away. She glanced over at me and mouthed the words “is this yours?”. I had to reluctantly nod as she brought it over to me. Everyone else was scrabbling away at the pile trying to find their own.

I looked at her words. They were kind and expressive, but I still felt a little violated. She had liked my writing, yet I still felt uneasy. She was worried for me. She could feel the sadness and emotion in my words and wanted to comfort me. She later asked me if I was okay. It felt strange and I wasn’t comfortable with her concern. I don’t know that I deserve it.

I know she will never see me in the same light. She is the one person that knows the façade isn’t real. She will look at me with suspicion wondering what is behind the act. Wondering how I really am. I feel like I’ve been found out.

It’s weird how I can write here, knowing anyone could read this, yet I am so uncomfortable. It’s weird how I’m actually considering dropping my anonymity on this blog, yet I didn’t want to drop the act with one person. How would I feel if the same person came along and read all of this? I don’t know.

I don’t know how I really feel about these two sides. I guess in some ways the act shows I am making progress. I can hold myself together in front of people now. I can portray a sense of capability and confidence.  I can actually do things and at times I even enjoy them. There have been times in the past year or so when there was no way I could hide anything and enjoyment was a foreign concept. I was a mess, unwell and visibly so. That’s not true any more.

Yet, I am not sure it’s a good thing. I wasn’t well a year ago when I was first admitted to The Priory and I behaved the same in therapy. I was the sensible, level headed, friendly one. I spent more time giving others advice than I did talking about myself. I was the helpful, confident person. People even wondered why I was there. I seemed fine. I wasn’t.

I don’t really like the act. I don’t like its return. I have worked so hard in therapy to break it down. To be more open and honest about how I feel. To be more true to myself. For the therapists at The Priory, I was making progress when I started to talk about myself. I was chastised when I went into helpful, clever mode. I wonder if I should chastise myself when I act like this now.

At times I wonder if the act was what broke me in the first place. The act was a problem before, back when I was at work. I kept going, working harder and harder to hide how I felt. At times fuelled by unidentified hypomania, at other times fuelled by denied depression. I didn’t want to admit I couldn’t cope. I didn’t want to fail. I wanted to be confident and capable and not at mercy of emotions or illness. I drove myself into the ground until I snapped and my world fell apart.

I am worried I will do that again. I have been doing new things and taking on new projects over the past few weeks. I have ideas, I want to do things, I want to be successful. It’s a familiar feeling. My life has been full of periods where I take on new things and projects, but more often than not I take on too much and cannot cope. With hindsight some of these periods can be clearly attributed to hypomania, but others I am less sure. I wonder if it is just my personality. I don’t want to immediately see everything as something to be pathologised, yet I also want to learn from the past. I need to recognise the patterns and change them. I don’t want to keep crashing head first.

I don’t know what my mood is doing at the moment. People ask me how I am and I don’t know how to answer. I’m depressed, yet am I? Yes, the signs of depression are there. I feel numb, empty, suicidal. Negative thoughts, anxiety, paranoia too. The physical signs are out as well. Headaches, insomnia, tiredness. It all points to depression, but it’s not the whole picture. I am excited about new projects, interested in things (albeit not everything), doing stuff. Where is the anhedonia? I don’t think it’s a mixed state either though. Not in a classic way. I am not really sleeping, but I am tired with it. My thoughts race, but no more than is really usual for me. I am a little on the snappy, agitated, quick-to-anger side, but not physically agitated or excessively so. I don’t feel like things are going too fast. yet. I wish my mind would make it’s mind up. I feel almost lost within my mood.

Going back to the topic of anonymity and this blog. I don’t really want to be anonymous any more. I am not ashamed of my illness and I think it’s so important people are open and honest about these things. We can’t break down stigma if we’re too afraid to talk openly about mental health.

I am not even worried about employers googling me. I have no intention to leave my company any time soon. Even if I was looking for a new job, if a company didn’t want to employ me after reading this then I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway. This may limit my career in future, but it’s something I’m willing to take the risk on.

There is a problem though and it’s my family. I am not sure I am willing for them to know how I really feel. I don’t want them to worry. I know my partner reads this already, but with my parents I am even more economical with the truth. I have never been open with them and I’m not sure I’m ready to start. I guess it is doubtful they will ever google me and find this anyway, but it is still a risk.

I realised though recently it’s not even that which is the main problem. It’s actually the stuff about my sexuality I’m most scared about. I thought I was comfortable with it. I thought I’d worked through everything a few years ago when I really went through a crisis of identity. I haven’t. I am fine with coming out knowing the people I am talking to are open minded, but I am not so sure about the rest of the world. More specific I’m not so sure about those closer to me. It doesn’t hurt if some stranger says something horrible, but if it’s someone I know it’s different. I know my mother can be quite homophobic and I suspect her opinions on bisexuality are even worse. I don’t want her to find out. I have always said that she doesn’t need to know and what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. I suspect other members of my family would be even worse. I just don’t think I can face it.

I realised the other day that I’m not as comfortable as I’d like with my sexuality in general. The other night I was at the pub with a friend and somehow we ended up talking about gay couples. I mentioned a girl I know who used to be in a gay couple and she now goes out with a bloke. She made some comment about him “turning her” and I pointed out that she could be bisexual. She seemed a little taken aback by that and I didn’t know what to say really. It could have been the time to be honest myself, yet I was uneasy with her reaction. I wish I was comfortable enough to be completely “out”, but I guess I’m still not there.

I guess I could always go back and censor myself. I could make any mention of my sexuality private and I’d be safe, yet I don’t want to. I guess I could throw caution to the wind, face my fears and all of that, but I’m not sure I can do. I don’t know what to do.

ESA Medical…

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I know I’m updating a lot all of a sudden, but I guess there are things I want to document this week. My talkative mood is probably helping too.

I made it to my medical this afternoon. I am so glad it is over.

I was all over the place during the interview. The doctor kept asking the same things over and over again and it was tiresome. My head was spinning, thoughts racing, agitation brewing. I kept forgetting what I had just said and found myself getting more and more worked up. I couldn’t keep still from the agitation. It didn’t help that she wasn’t following things, but I don’t know if that was me talking too fast or her being a bit slow. She kept mixing my doctors up (I know it’s complicated. I still have 2 psychiatrists!) which was getting really confusing.

She didn’t seem to ask me much about what I can and can’t do. She did ask if I got up, dressed etc (yes, with bullying from my bloke). She asked me if I went anywhere (yes, if someone takes me – I mentioned Creative Remedies). She asked me if I saw friends and socialised (sometimes). She asked about driving (no, not since October 2008).

We talked a little about my overdose in February and what happened afterwards. We talked about ECT. I told her when I’d been in hospital. We talked about my current care – The Priory and transfer to NHS, who does what. She asked me a million times if my doctors knew what I was telling her and who was most up to date with everything. I didn’t know why she was asking that so much. Maybe so she knows whether to trust any information she gets from them or so she could check up on what I was saying?

She kept asking me about suicidal thoughts. She wanted to know why I hadn’t tried again if I still experience the thoughts. She asked me literally 30 times if I had any active plans, maybe even more. She seemed quite concerned when I was honest about the extent of my thoughts, even though I have no real means or firm intention to act at the moment.

I was forced to talk about anger and violence. I couldn’t deny that it has been a problem of late, but I didn’t want to be seen as “dangerous”. I felt so uncomfortable talking about it.

We talked about mood. I found it hard to convey what it is really like. I told her about the current agitation and how this is a fairly new development. She suggested the agitation could have been caused by anxiety about the appointment. I didn’t think it was and denied it at the time, but since I’ve thought about it some more I think it may well have contributed. I really was all over the place whilst I was in there and anxiety must have been exacerbating the situation. I tried to describe the aching, dull, flat, numbing depression that has lingered on and off for ages. I tried to describe the mixed agitated depression that is often a problem. I don’t think I succeeded on any account.

I mentioned that my partner had given up his job to care for me and she asked me about this. Is he with me all the time? How often does he leave me on my own? Who does what in the house? Do I ever go out on my own? etc. etc.

When we went over my meds, she seemed surprised that I am taking melatonin and even asked if it’s a hospital-only prescription. Considering melatonin can be bought over the counter in the US, it does make you wonder why it is so reluctantly used over here. The CMHT seemed surprised too.

At one point towards the end, she left the office to go ask her colleague something and I couldn’t help but burst into tears. I’d been holding myself together up until then, but the stress of it all tipped me over the edge. I don’t know what it was as I barely ever cry these days. Girlie hormones probably aren’t helping at the moment, but even still it seemed ludicrous. Unfortunately she came back in whilst I was trying to pull myself together and then asked me a million questions about why I was crying. I was worried she would think I was putting it on for effect or something. I genuinely couldn’t help it, but was so embarrassed and paranoid about it.

Although she asked me a million questions I don’t know if she has got anywhere near enough information. Most of the stuff didn’t seem to be very relevant to whether or not I can work. Maybe she was just nosy? I guess that’s her job.

I cannot convey how erratic the whole appointment was. Questions were being fired in all directions and I was so mixed up I couldn’t answer her. My sentences were blurring into one. I was jabbering on and on and going off on tangents. I didn’t say half the things I should have. I was not clear at all. I’ve been going over things in my head since, trying to make sense of it all. Trying to work out her intentions and what she was thinking and asking. I know I should just forget about it and wait for the results, but my head is just looking for things to think about.

One thing I have noted is the clear effect of stress. I was anxious and stressed by the situation and I could not deal with it at all. I was turned into a whirlwind of agitated confusion. I’m just thinking about work and similar situations where I have to answer questions and think about what I’m saying. Conference calls for example. There is no way I can handle one at the moment. It’s okay doing that with a doctor that is trained to deal with it, but it is not okay to talk like a madwoman in front of your boss.

In some ways my inability to deal with the situation may stand in my favour. I suspect now I probably came across quite mad. After all, I need her to think I am too ill to work. The problem is, I think I may have come across *too* mad. I was incapable of answering her questions and I’m worried I may have messed up in some way. I’m worried I didn’t answer things clearly enough or that I missed things out. I am paranoid that she was trying to catch me out. I’m really worried she will think I was putting it on or making things up. I wasn’t, but I wasn’t “myself” either and that could be problematic.

Afterwards I was tired and didn’t really want to do anything. The session took it out of me and I needed processing time. Kinda like therapy actually. I guess it was similar in that I had to talk a lot about how I was feeling and what has happened.

Unfortunately I wasn’t really given that processing time as my bloke wanted me to do stuff. He forced me to clean my car, which took ages at it was filthy. As I’m not driving at the moment my lovely little car spends most of its time sat on the drive. It has been sat still so long that green slime was growing on all the window seals. Not good. It’s looking better now, but there are still bits that aren’t quite there.

My thoughts are still racing. I walked the dog this evening and I thought that would help calm me down but it hasn’t. I was distracted thinking about the medical, work, suicide, random pointless stuff, everything. I have music spinning around in my head on top of everything else. The “We buy any car” advert is driving me mad… we buy any car, we buy any car, any, any, any, any, we buy any car… Make it stop, please!!

I suspect I won’t be updating quite so much in the next few days. Nothing is happening. We are taking the dog to a breed show on Sunday, but that is all I can think of. I will see Dr N sometime at the end of next week. I have Creative Remedies too, but nothing unusual or exciting coming up.

Limited Capability for Work?…

with 2 comments

A little less agitated than yesterday evening at the moment, but I’ve had a terrible night’s sleep. I was very wound up all night and couldn’t keep still. My head was flying all over the place. Every time I drifted into sleep I had busy, fast, vivid, strange dreams. I was waking up from them every 30 minutes or so and wondering why I wasn’t doing all the things I was dreaming about and then I couldn’t get back to sleep because my mind was flying off on all these tangents inspired by the dreams. Things eventually seemed to calm down a little around 6-7am, so I did get a couple hours of sleep, but even then my sleep was littered with more dreams.

Part of this agitation may have been exacerbated by the argument I had with my partner last night. The night before I am due to go for an ESA medical, testing whether or not I am fit for work, he tells me I should just go back to work and implies that I am lazy, a skiver and not ill at all. This isn’t helpful.

He was telling me that I should just go back because unless I do, I’ll never be ready. He thinks I am just putting it off forever. He thinks I need to go back and try to work because until I do I can’t be sure if I am ready or not. This is of course true, but I think I need to be showing more signs of being ready before I try it.

There are of course a lot of things to lose by going back too soon and then having to stop working. The loss of my permanent health insurance income being one. I’d have to apply again for it, which is a lengthy process. The loss of ESA will be another factor, if of course they ever give me it. As I am claiming under youth rules I’d have to be off sick for another 6 months before I can claim again.

I suspect that he may in part be pushing me back for selfish reasons. He has of course given up a lot to look after me, but I think it is wearing thin and he doesn’t want to stay at home and care for me any more. I pointed out to him that if I am ready enough to go back to work then he shouldn’t need to care for me anyway and should just go out and get himself another job, but he didn’t seem to agree. The fact he still thinks I can’t be left on my own must tell him I can’t be expected to work. I would likely be on my own a lot in the office and there’s also the matter of getting to and from work. It would be easy to abscond.

My social worker seems to have a strange attitude to my employment. She was asking me if my goal for recovery is to get back to work. For me, the ultimate goal is being well enough to work again and more importantly for me, to go back to the job I loved doing. She seemed disappointed with this and almost surprised. It really felt as if she thought I shouldn’t expect to work again because of my mental health. Maybe she just feels I shouldn’t be working in a high-pressure, highly competitive environment, but for me, working in a simpler job wouldn’t be recovery. It would seem like a poor compromise.

To me her attitude to work seems bizarre. Surely her goal should be for me to return to a normal life, or at least as normal life as possible? I don’t think it should be expected that I will remain disabled and a full-time mental for life? I really fear that will happen and need as much help as possible to stop it happening. I know I have to face the fact that this illness isn’t going to go away and I will have to learn to live with it, but I hope that I will be living a fuller life than this sometime soon.

At the moment I don’t think I’m ready to go back to work. This sudden swing into agitation is a suggestion of that. Last time I tried to return to work I became very hypomanic, very quickly, probably aided by the fluoxetine I was on at the time. Work is likely to fuel this mood and send me up and up. Maybe that would be nice, but I’m not sure I’d be a productive employee.

Even if I hadn’t have entered this mood yesterday, I don’t think I’m ready yet. I am still battling suicidal thoughts almost constantly. Stress would only make these thoughts more urgent and amplify the need to escape this world.

There is also the matter of anger management. I’m not there yet. I have calmed down on a month or two ago, but I am still struggling with bubbling agitation. The smallest thing can send me into rage, wanting to hurt both myself and the cause of the anger. I have to admit I can’t take criticism. It was something I found hard before, but I usually turned it on myself mentally. Lately I’ve been literally hitting back and that is not suitable behaviour for work. I don’t want to be violent and I certainly don’t want to display that in the workplace. It would do nothing for reducing the stigma that mentally ill people are dangerous.

It is these things that I’ll be talking about today at the medical. I need to convince them I shouldn’t be working, yet I’m doubting this myself. I hate being hypocritical. I guess if I do get through the medical it is proof that I shouldn’t be working. If I can convince the DWP, who are notoriously bad at trying to get people back to work before they are ready, then I really must be ill. We will see. I don’t hold my breath.

There is a voice that tells me I am a fraud and I should just go back to work. I feel lazy, sitting around having nothing to do all day. I am trying to occupy myself, but I am not a productive member of society.

I am getting stuff done, but this only makes me think I should be working. Over the past couple of days I’ve embarked on a project to sort out all of my photos and to get them online. I used to have a photo gallery on my website, but I took it down when the domain was up to expire and since uni I’ve been very lazy about my photography. I have literally thousands of images, over 40gb worth. A lot of these are utter rubbish, but I want to find the ones that aren’t and get them out in the open. Anyway, the point of this is I’ve been sitting on my computer sorting this photos out and generally I’ve been able to concentrate on the task in hand. Considering a vast amount of my job is sitting at a computer then maybe I should be doing that and not just sorting out my photos.

I’ve been baking more recently and on Tuesday, I also made a load of home-made chocolates. I managed to do it successfully this time after a recent attempt involved me using semolina instead of sugar. Unsurprisingly the mixture had to go in the bin. They were popular at creative remedies yesterday, with many suggestions of having to sell them or give them as christmas presents.

I had even ventured back into the world of books and reading over the past month or so. I haven’t picked up a book for a couple of weeks, but I was getting there. I was reading stuff and even starting to enjoy it a little. I sometimes had to read paragraphs multiple times or forgot what I had been reading the previous day, but I was getting through the pages.

I also worry about this blog. The fact I can sit here and read and write. Does that mean I should be working instead of just writing about the fact I’m not? If people found this, would they use it against me to tell me I should be working?

This desire to work has of course has been amplified by my mood since yesterday. I have all these ideas of things I could be doing at work. I will not be on a project at first so need to find some internal work I could be doing. I can think of so many ways to improve our company. So many things that could be done and I want to be the person to do them.

There are barriers to returning. My doctors tell me I’m not ready. My social worker tells me I’m not ready. I need to go to occupational health before they will let me go back to work and they may well tell me I’m not ready. When will I know if I’m ready? How can they know?

A little speedy…

with 4 comments

What’s this? Another post!

My mood today has been strange. I woke up this morning with my head racing, thoughts flying all over the place, a preoccupation with work and a desire to do a million things and make a million plans. The verge of hypomania, somewhere I’ve not really been for a while.

The preoccupation with work is strange. I dreamt about going back to work and woke up thinking about all the things I could be doing if I was there. I miss it. I wish I could go back. I have projects I want to get on with.

This speedy mood has been coming and going all day. Concentration coming and going. Thoughts racing.

At Creative Remedies I think I was a little high and probably a little annoying. Talking too much and I was getting bored of my painting too easily. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Even now I’m jumping from one sentence to another and not even finishing paragraphs.

I wonder where this is going. I’m praying for it to be the end of my depression, yet the rapidly recurrent suicidal thought intruding into the rest of my thoughts suggests it isn’t. It definitely feels like the closest I’ve been to a “good” mood, even if my head feels like it’s spinning too fast, but there is still that dangerous, destructiveness mixed in. I don’t know where I am. I expect this is just rapid cycling showing its head and no doubt it will be gone as suddenly as it arrived, but we will see.

At the moment my mood isn’t physically obvious, but my mind feels like it’s being thrown about and shaken up. I am keeping the agitation down, but I don’t know how long that will last. I am trying to keep myself in check.

Tomorrow I have my ESA medical. I’m worried. I don’t think this mood is going to be helpful. I can’t really think and don’t know how to describe my worst days. I don’t think I seem depressed, which isn’t going to help. I guess I’m there for bipolar disorder, not depression, but it is the depression that stops me working. I don’t even know if I want to have “limited capability for work”. The way I’m thinking at the moment I want to go to work.

Argh!

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 23rd September 2009 at 9:25 pm