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Posts Tagged ‘appointments

A Little Clarification…

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My last post, Distressing Diagnosis… was a little on the rushed side and basically unfinished when I posted it. I knew if I didn’t publish it when I did, I wouldn’t get the chance for a while, but I kinda wish I’d held back. I’ve been back and edited it a little, but it still doesn’t say everything.

Edit: (17/03/2010) – I’ve actually ended up reworking this post quite a lot too. I didn’t read it back yesterday and since then I’ve realised it was all over the place and made little sense. It is a little better, but I just find this so hard to write about objectively. I am struggling with it all.

Lets get one thing straight. Dr M isn’t a horrible person or a bully. In many ways she’s actually quite nice and well meaning. She is trying hard to help. I can see that and I appreciate it.

She said she doesn’t want to do anything that will make me worse, and she did agree to remove the diagnosis in my notes when I said it wasn’t helping. I guess I can’t really argue with that. I asked her to change her diagnosis and she agreed to do so. I don’t think she’s changed it in her mind, even if she has on paper, but that is at least something.

She genuinely thinks she is helping and that she is doing the right thing. She keeps saying that she will make me better and that the future is hopeful. She is always very positive and encouraging. Many patients probably really appreciate this approach, but I find it a little too much. I don’t see enough evidence to support her positivity and that can actually be damaging. It makes me lose faith and trust. I find that she can ignore the negative, which means I don’t feel like I am being listened to or taken seriously. Unfortunately she doesn’t seem able to recognise this or she is unwilling to adjust her approach.

She also gives me her time – lots of it. She tries not to rush her appointments and lets them take as long as they need to, even if that means she runs behind fairly often. One of my ward rounds was over 90 minutes long, which when I realised seems pretty incredible. She saw me regularly on the ward in addition to the weekly ward rounds. She is now seeing me fortnightly as an outpatient, as opposed to the huge expanses of time between each CMHT appointment (4 months!). This is a good thing. It is closer to what I was used to in The Priory and a vast improvement on my other NHS experiences. Usually they sit you down and before you know it the appointment is over and nothing seems to have happened.

There are certainly good points to her care so far. I think it probably is an improvement on my other experiences with the NHS, but there are issues and I am finding those hard to deal with. Overall though I don’t think she’s a bad psychiatrist. I am just not sure she is the right doctor for me and I am not sure I am the right patient for her. Things just don’t seem to be working.

I don’t think it helps that we just don’t seem to get on. She was not impressed with my initial request to not be patronised and I think that clouded her opinion of me right from the start. She doesn’t seem to understand my job and why I like it. She doesn’t seem to know how to deal with me questioning her. I have a real sense that she just doesn’t like me for some reason. There was one point that she pretty much said that she couldn’t get on with me in “real life”, although I can’t remember the context now. My bloke tells me that is paranoia, but I remember it because I was shocked at the lack of professionalism and was upset that she didn’t like me.

I know I can’t hold this against her though. People don’t get on with each other and that’s a fact of life. If she doesn’t like me then fair enough. I’m not sure I’d get on with her in “real life” either. It wouldn’t matter though if it didn’t affect our therapeutic relationship. I worry that part of the reason she has diagnosed NPD purely stems from a sense that she doesn’t like me. Is it because she thinks I’m arrogant because I didn’t want to be patronised? Is it because I don’t agree with her opinion? I fear that in many ways it probably is.

It’s always going to be easier to trust and work with someone you get on with and I am finding this hard. It was one of the things I found great about working with Dr G. We got on well and could talk about anything, not just my treatment. It felt a lot more therapeutic and less clinical, which I think is important when dealing with mental illness, which is so entwined with emotion. I miss the way things were with Dr G and I am not used to the change. I don’t see the relationship with Dr M ever being like that. I find it hard to talk to her and hard to trust her. I am meant to tell her how I feel, yet I don’t feel comfortable doing so.

I also struggle with the fact that she doesn’t seem used to dealing with patients who are capable of getting dressed, eating and general functioning. Even if you had just tried to kill yourself, said you felt absolutely terrible and were threatening to do yourself in, if you could get up and about, communicate, eat and drink etc. then you are not really depressed and should be discharged. There seemed to be little acknowledgement of the fact that patients hide how they are feeling and put on a mask. There was a lot of focus on the functional side of depression and little acknowledgement of the emotional side and how patients felt. I wasn’t the only person who noticed this. A few of the more functioning patients felt that they were always being pushed to go home, treated as if they weren’t really ill and made to feel like they were a fraud. One patient was discharged too early a couple of times because she always hid how she felt and seemed “well” but she ended up back in hospital within days. You would have thought they would realise this was a problem. I don’t think this is purely down to Dr M. There were unbelievable bed pressures and the nurses weren’t exactly great at observation, but at the end of the day she makes the decision to discharge.

I wondered if this was because she is used to treating patients who aren’t functioning – those who are catatonic, staying in bed, barely speaking etc. In many ways these patients probably are more severely depressed, but that doesn’t mean they are more “worthy” of being in hospital. Non-functioning patients are a lower risk because they aren’t even capable of hurting themselves, where as a functional patient who is dealing with distressing thoughts needs to be kept safe. There didn’t seem to be much acknowledgement of this. I always felt like I was being told my problems weren’t important and that it didn’t matter how I felt.

Maybe Dr M has a problem working with me and other patients in a similar situation because she just finds it easier to deal with patients that do as they are told and don’t answer back. I guess anyone would find it easier to deal with people that follow blindly and don’t question things, but it is wrong to judge those that aren’t like that. Maybe it is as simple as a power trip. She likes to be in control and feels threatened when that power balance is upset? I don’t know.

It was also a common complaint on the ward that she thinks she’s really in touch and that she knows what you are thinking, but the reality is she’s often a long way off. Sometimes you get this hint that she might actually understand and then she says something else to contradict that five minutes later. It can be quite frustrating because you get this feeling of hope that she is listening and understands and then you get disappointed. You often feel like she is jumping to conclusions or judging you and I find it hard to talk to her. I don’t have this problem with Dr N and I never had it with Dr G. They listen to you and seem to understand what you are trying to say.

I think my feelings towards the NPD diagnosis have made it hard for me to work with her. I am offended and upset by it and I associate her with this distress. It feels like a personal attack and I find that hard to deal with. I don’t want to be considered as narcissistic, arrogant, self-serving etc. I want to be a “nice” person, someone that people can trust and get on with. I read the descriptions of people with NPD and I am scared that anyone could think I was like that. I am disgusted with myself that someone can think I am the horrible person that the NPD diagnosis describes. I can’t handle my thoughts and emotions around this and I need someone to direct those frustrations at. I guess naturally I will direct them at her. As much as her views of me may be misguided, my feelings towards her are skewed because of my feelings around this.

I still don’t think the NPD diagnosis is very accurate (although I do understand to some degree why she may have diagnosed it). I certainly don’t think I meet the criteria and I think she was wrong to diagnose it in the way she did. I really question her judgement and it is going to be hard to work with that in mind.

Personality disorders seem to be her diagnosis of choice and that worries me. She seems to be giving anyone that doesn’t respond well to medication, functions “too” well or who doesn’t fit in the usual boxes, a personality disorder. There was someone on the ward who was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder many years ago and she had seen multiple psychiatrists who agreed with that diagnosis. Dr M began treating her, quickly questioning depression and suggesting her personality was to blame for her thoughts. There seemed to be no logical reason for this, only the fact that she functioned fairly well and medication had stopped working.

I guess in many ways a PD diagnosis means the emphasis is on the patient to get better and not the doctor. If the patient doesn’t improve the psychiatrist doesn’t need to justify herself in any way. The patient is also fairly powerless because any questioning of the diagnosis could be considered a symptom of the disorder. “I’m the doctor, you’re the mental, now do as you’re told”. It probably helps that there is enough of an overlap between symptoms of a personality disorder, general life experience and other conditions that there will probably always be some evidence you can use to back up your opinion.

A little off topic perhaps, but I do still want a second opinion on the diagnosis, but I don’t know how I go about getting it. With the diagnosis lifted from my notes, I don’t know where I stand. My personality is now “under investigation”, but does that mean she is going to change the way she thinks about me? I doubt it. Do I just wait and see what happens when the therapy referral comes through or do I try and get things clarified now? Presumably there are still mentions of the narcissism on my notes, so will that influence things in future?

I wonder if I should ask about the Affective Disorders clinic in Manchester. A couple of people have suggested it to me and they have someone who focusses on “complex needs”, who may be able to comment more on the relationship between my mood disorder and any personality problems. There’s also the CUPS service in Cardiff, who has a similar service offering second opinions to anyone in the UK with complex mental health issues. The problem with these services is they require referrals from your consultant and I don’t know how to ask her, without sounding like I don’t trust her opinion.

I don’t know.

I still don’t really know what to do or think about it all. In some ways I know I should just try and forget about it now that the problem label has been rewritten, but the therapeutic relationship thing is a problem. I still have to see her every couple of weeks after all and I don’t know how things are going to work.

I guess my conclusion is though that Dr M isn’t all that evil. It’s the NPD diagnosis that’s the problem and it is going to be an elephant in the room for a while I think.

Anger…

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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

More Evidence…

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Some of you may remember my post on Trichotillomania which I made a couple of weeks ago. In it I referred to this BBC article which mentions some research into the use of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) for the treatment of Trich. Today I saw Dr G and towards the end of the appointment my bloke mentioned the article and I explained it to her. I couldn’t remember the name of the drug involved, so she asked me to check and let her know. She hadn’t heard the news story herself, but was interested to know more and was happy to check if it will interact with any of my other drugs before I can give it a go. Dr G is quite progressive and innovative with what she prescribes anyway. She won’t always wait for things to become proven and approved before she prescribes something. She also mentioned a new drug, for which I could spot a leaflet about on her desk, that is meant to be good for sleep, but it’s also an antidepressant and she’s scared of the effect this may have being bipolar and my past experience of antidepressants. She said research is currently being done, but this one she didn’t want to risk.

Anyway, whilst I was looking up the name of the drug concerned in this article, I did a little bit of research and stumbled over the fact it had also been connected to improving residual depression in bipolar. Someone has done a some research into this and the paper was published last September. This article sums up the findings. If this really is the case, then there are two reasons for me to be taking it. I am certainly willing to give it a go. It’s a proven drug for other things, so should be safe and even if it isn’t, do I really care? Maybe that is flippant of me and my partner will be horrified to read it, but I really don’t worry about such things anymore. I guess that is the suicidal thinking that undermines everything. I should be thinking about this positively though and my willingness to try anything is the part of me that just wants to get better and doesn’t care how I do it.

For a change, Dr G was running on time. My therapist, M however wasn’t. With that in mind, we got started and did a quick meds review initially. The expected increase in Lamotrigine happened and an increase in the Nitrazepam too. I could do this prescribing lark myself these days! In two weeks time we shall do the increase again and I will then be on the 200mg she’s aiming for.

We talked about how things over the past few weeks seem to be showing signs of stabilisation and improvement. This is true but I say it with caution. In the past three weeks I’ve gone from rapid cycling every day or two between an almost okay mood and a horrifically suicidal one. This was followed by a week of consistant suicidal depression and generally feeling awful. Then over the last couple of days I’ve kinda felt depressed but getting closer to okay mood. The suicidal thoughts are still there, they never go away, but things are quieter.

The thing is, I don’t trust the cycles to not come back. My mood sometimes settles down and then the swings come back with avengence and I am up and down like a yo-yo again.  I also don’t trust the curve on the mood graph to continue rising. It has only been a couple of days of slightly improved mood and I’ve had that before. The bubble bursts as quickly as it forms.

Dr G is hoping that things are stabilising. Last week was stable but hell. If things stick like that it just isn’t going to work. I will get frustrated and then fall off a cliff, which is similar to what happened last January/February. She knows this and I think is as worried about it as I am, but I guess neither of us knows what to do about it. We just have to try and hope that this mood holds out.

M turned up and we talked a bit about what we’d said last week. Dr G was meant to have another appointment with the four of us there last week; Her, M, my bloke and me. At least that’s what three of us thought. Dr G was at her daughter’s graduation and had somehow double booked herself. The three of us carried on and had a session anyway talking about some of the relationship issues we’ve been having and communication. It is a topic that always comes up but an issue that doesn’t go away. Again the solution seemed to be to wait a few months and try not to think about it. Easier said, but they aren’t living with the torment all the time.

The rest of the appointment consisted of lots of ums and ahs whilst I grappled for something I felt comfortable to talk about. I generally failed until the mention of that article came up.

The previous couple of days have been spent at my grandparents. I hadn’t seen them since March last year, when it was my great grandma’s funeral. It was good I guess to see them although always a bit surreal and slow. It always feels like a bit of an act at the best of times, but even more so at the moment. I also saw my two cousins on that side of the family. H, the youngest, loved our puppy. My animal-mad aunt did too for that matter.

The future holds very little at the moment. I don’t know what to do with myself and that is scary. I have a lot of uncertainties and I want answers. I see my worker on Monday and Dr G in a couple of weeks. Aside from that, who knows?

A Little Shaky…

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Just a short post from me today as I’m posting from my mobile.

Yesterday, I had my appointment with Dr N. Afterwards I was left more confused and clueless than beforehand. The NHS are hopefully going to provide community support and work with The Priory but at the moment nothing seems to be organised and neither party knows what the other is doing. I was left panicking that I will be left on my own with no support. There is only one possible outcome if that happens.

Today, things are more positive. I saw Dr G and she reassures me that things are in hand. She wants everyone to work together but is aware that may not be possible or straightforward. If things don’t work out as hoped she is sure something else can be arranged that will give me some support. I just hope she is right.

My past experience of NHS mental health services, or rather my trust have been shaky at best. Dr G assures me that her experiences with them have only been positive so I hope that with her on board then maybe mine will be too. Time will tell.

As for shakiness. The Depakote seems to have given me a tremor. I can’t control my hands and it is making typing this post on my phone harder than normal. I feel a little dodgy in general today. Dr G said that is to be expected as my meds are being tweaked so much, but it still sucks. I’m coming off the Duloxetine now. Still on amitriptaline. Reducing my aripiprazole and adding the Depakote. It’s no wonder is it? No other side effects seem to be a problem so far with the Depakote but it’s early days.

Aside from talking about NHS involvement, we also talked about my diagnosis and it is confirmed as Bipolar II disorder. I am glad to have Dr G agree with Dr P and make things clear for me, but it is still sinking in. I don’t really know how I feel. I need to think about it some more. The clarity is positive though. Maybe it will bring about a better route in terms of treatment. Things have to improve. They can’t continue to be as hopeless as they have been.

Anyway. I should stop rambling. More soon…

back from glasto…

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…so I’m back. We left at 2am on Monday morning (Sunday night) and arrived home at 6am. Went to bed and got up again mid-morning yesterday, but my partner was home so spent the day going to the shops, collecting the guinea pigs from their holiday home etc.

I’ve just spent the last 3 hours catching up on all the blogs on my blogroll. I want to write, but I need to go and do some things first. The list of chores still continues.

Glasto was fun. A welcome break from reality and most of the time I felt well. I realise I’m not recovered – a bit of adversity (such as an argument with my partner) and I lapse into suicidal thoughts, but generally I’ve been fairly up over the past few days. Returning home is difficult, but hasn’t been the suicidal low I quite expected. I feel kinda tired and empty though. Not sure what comes next.

Letter from the CMHT came while I was away. It is just a simple opt-in form, so need to post that off and await appointment date.

I need to see my doctor now I’m back too. She told me to see her upon my return from the festival, so I better do as I’m told, but I couldn’t get an appointment today. I will have to ring up tomorrow and try and get a book-on-day appointment. Hope I manage to get one. I need to know where I stand and what’s next. I don’t know if I’m up to a return to work or not, but I would like to at least discuss it with her.

Anyway full post soon. Washing to do. Also need to get dressed and out of bed, but bah. So easy to just stay here in bed all day.

Written by intothesystem

Tuesday, 1st July 2008 at 12:26 pm