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Posts Tagged ‘art therapy

A long week…

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A lot has happened in the past week. I kept meaning to write, but time got away from me.

I saw Dr G last Tuesday and was disappointed. It was a fairly pointless appointment. I did mention my dip in mood in the weeks prior to seeing her, but she didn’t have much to say. She increased the Lamotrigine again by the minute amount of 25mg, so I’m now up to 125mg b.d. She asked me about the hand over to the NHS. She seems ready to hand me over and doesn’t seem to want me to continue seeing her once I’m in the hands of the NHS. She thinks it will complicate things, which it would, but I trust her a lot more than I trust the NHS and I appreciate the constant input. I’m worried about the frequency I will be seeing the NHS psychiatrist. Talking about this with my social worker today, she said that if people are “stable” they will only see the psychiatrist every 6 months, even if that stability isn’t a particularly nice state to be stable in. She said I may see them a little more often at first, but even then it may only be every 3 months or so. This terrifies me. At the moment I always have that “if I can get through the next fortnight until I see Dr G, things may be okay”. This can keep me going. Knowing I’m on my own for months may be enough to make me give up again. I know I can ask for a rapid access appointment if things get scary, bad, but I’m not sure that’s enough and I can’t be asking for one every month or so!

On Tuesday night I learnt the bad side of knowing lots of people with mental health issues. One of my friends who I met in The Priory texted me to thank me for being her friend and to apologise for the fact she was going to kill herself that evening. I didn’t know what to do as I felt powerless to intervene and hypocritical for wanting to do so. She had been a long-stay patient in hospital and I believe was on overnight leave at the time. In the end I contacted the hospital she had been at and told them what she’d said. They wouldn’t discuss it with me due to patient confidentiality or even acknowledge what I had said, but I hope it alerted them and was of some help. They told me to call the police instead as they would have the power to intervene, but I didn’t want to do that. She tried to call me a couple of times in the evening but I missed the calls and when I called her back she didn’t pick up. I was worried but I did what I could. I was relieved when she later texted to say she had been picked up by the police, although worried for her. The hospital she had been in have chucked her out, presumably for breaking the rules of her overnight leave. I’m shocked and appalled by this decision as she’s at her most vulnerable at the moment. The people who are meant to be caring for her have dumped her when she needs them most and she is now alone and extremely ill. Last I heard she was staying with some friends and I just hope they can keep her safe.

This whole thing was triggering for me. I wanted to help her and intervene with her decision, yet I myself wanted to do exactly what she was doing. I was jealous of her at the same time as worried for her. I was angry at myself for being so hypocritical. I knew that if I was in her position I’d have been frustrated if she had intervened, but then I still wanted to do something. I couldn’t just stand by and let a friend die. I was comforted by the fact that she had contacted me. It suggested to me that she wanted someone to do something. She’d have gone alone and quietly if she was completely determined to succeed.

Wednesday started with a trip to Dr N so he could steal my blood for the mood disorder research. He struggled to get anything out of me. Spent ages trying to find veins in my arms and used my wrists in the end. The first attempt failed and has left me with terrible bruising and some wrist pain. The second attempt was eventually successful, but painful as he pushed the needle around in my wrist. We got there though in the end.

After this it was a trip to my office. My work laptop was due to be upgraded so I had to go drop it in to the IT department. It was weird to be in my old work environment. It made me realise that I really missed it. I wish I could just go back and do my job.

I had Creative Remedies in the afternoon. It was visual arts this time, which boils down to painting. I was disappointed by the class as it is restrictive. We had to start with a “colour wheel”, which made me feel I was in primary school. I know very well which colours mix together and what primary and secondary colours are. For our first project we have to choose images from a selection of Japanese, Egyptian and Art-Deco pictures and use these as inspiration. It feels very much like art at school, which is frustrating as I’d rather paint whatever I liked. I was impressed with the materials on offer though. We get a portfolio folder and sketchbook, access to good quality acrylics, watercolours and gouache paints and canvasses to work on. It’s all free so I can’t really complain. The teacher does seem to be experienced and the outreach workers are the same as on Monday’s session, so we should be able to develop a good relationship with them. I’ve been getting on well with one of them in particular already. It is basically just an art class though and not art therapy at all and although it gets me out of the house and doing something it doesn’t seem therapeutic. I miss the emotional freedom of art therapy at The Priory and the therapists there.

Wednesday evening saw us heading over to Snowdonia for a few days camping. My parents and grandparents had rented a cottage over there for a week, so we joined them for a couple of days. It was nice to get away for a few days, but I was feeling a bit flat a lot of the time. A good campsite near Beddgelert, we enjoyed nice food at The Goat Hotel on Wednesday evening.

The highlight of Thursday was a trip to Harlech castle, but a further reminder of my illness. Disabled admission was one such reminder. A bonus in that it was free, but even still I feel weird asking for it. I find it hard to think of myself as disabled. The second reminder came from climbing the towers. I felt uncomfortable at those heights. I am not scared of heights in any way, but I wanted to jump. If my parents and partner weren’t with me it would have been a huge temptation. I don’t think I could do that in front of them though. The image of my fall would haunt them for too long. Aside from this though it was good. I’ve never been such a big fan of ruined castles, but the views were fantastic.

Friday brought beautiful weather and a trip to the beach. We struggled to find one where our dog was welcome, but eventually stumbled across a beautiful little cove, with golden sands and shallow water. The beach was almost deserted with just one other couple there most of the time. We went for a swim, which was of course cold, but good. It was lovely to see our puppy swimming properly for the first time. I felt like a proud parent. There were also lots of little silver fish swimming around, which was unusual but made me a little squeamish.

We came home on Saturday, amidst drizzle and murkiness. A real downer after the lovely day on Friday. Our tent was soggy and I hate packing at the best of times, so I felt pretty awful. I’ve just felt pretty low all weekend and have had little motivation to do anything. I just want to hibernate really.

The highlight of today was another trip to Creative Remedies. I have enjoyed it and I think I will continue to, but I am still unsure of the therapeutic benefit. I wonder whether the vast amount of money that is being spent on this should be put to better use elsewhere, especially in reducing the waiting lists for other therapy.

My social worker came over today to check up on me before we both go and see the NHS psychiatrist tomorrow. She had some paper work to read and sign – mainly my risk assessment and enhanced CPA. It was weird to read a catalogued list of risks and declarations of my suicidal thoughts. She asked me what I wanted from the appointment tomorrow and tried to set some expectations. It seems that we will go over history and recent mood. It is apparently unlikely that the psychiatrist will change my medication on the first meeting and it is likely that I won’t see them again for a while. I don’t see the point in just going over my history and not actually doing anything. He can find the history in my notes and I’d rather use this appointment to make some changes that may help me to recover. We will see though. Wish me luck. I really fear I am going to need it.

Another Bad Night…

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Last night was just another bad night of many recently. I couldn’t sleep, mainly because I felt physically awful, but also because there was a lot rolling around my mind. Little positive unfortunately.

Morning rolled around and I still felt terrible, so forcing myself out of bed really didn’t seem like a good idea. I just couldn’t face more therapy on top of the dizziness and stomach ache I was struggling with, so I decided not to head to The Priory today. Art Therapy this afternoon had been cancelled anyway as the therapist is away.

Afternoon arrived and I got up, but could only manage an hour or so before escaping back to bed. I had to get up eventually though mid-afternoon as there were things that needed doing and I had an appointment with my GP, Dr N.

The appointment was similar to usual. I wasn’t honest enough again, but I don’t know if I need to be anymore. They seem to realise that things are pretty bad. He asked me if I wanted to get better, and although I do, I confessed I sometimes find it hard. I just want everything to go away. He told me to stay safe. I wonder why they keep telling me that.

He gave me my scripts. 2 weeks this time, but he basically told me that 2 weeks of my new baby starting dose of Lamotrigine (25mg) is not enough to hurt a cat, let alone me, so told me not to bother. The silly thing is I’d already checked and knew that.

Tonight, I’ve been left alone whilst my partner is out for a few hours. I should feel the freedom and relish it, but I am just left disappointed that I feel so physically crap I can’t make the most of it. I am also bound by the dog and the fact my car is at the garage (even worse than not knowing where my keys are). I took the dog for a short walk, but didn’t feel very well doing it. My head was spinning and the strain of trying to get a 16 week old puppy to go where you want to was getting to me. I just wanted it to be over. It’s stupid that things like that left me not just wanting the walk to be over, but wanting everything to be over. That is the way things are at the moment.

Earlier this week, I had a plan for tonight. A plan I’ve not been able to realise. When asked if I was going to be safe on my own tonight I had always said yes. When asked if I had a plan and had set a date I had always said no. The truth was, I had a plan and today was the date.

All last night I was thinking about it. All last night I was thinking about whether or not it would work, whether there were any better options, whether or not I’d feel physically up to carrying it out, whether or not I’d be mentally up to it. I guess it is no wonder I didn’t sleep very well.

Today though has not gone to plan. I was missing some of the means and the physical strength to do it. I think it is hard to think about doing anything when you feel so physically crap that all you want to do is go to bed.

I am left disappointed and sad. I am left frustrated. I still wanted to do it tonight. It is too late now, but I find myself regretful. I should have done it. I should have just stuck to the plan. I feel weird. I didn’t see a future beyond today, so tomorrow will be strange. A day that I had not intended on seeing. I don’t know what to do with it.

Hope or Hopeless?

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Reading back over my last post, I’m struck by the hopefulness of it. I didn’t think I felt especially hopeful when I was writing it, but that is the sense I feel looking back. At the time, I thought I was going through the motions, self-censoring my words to make it seem like I was hopeful. I had it in my mind that I would not return from London. I had it in my mind that I had to present that I was okay and going to be safe down there for my partner’s sake, but deep down knew I’d be battling against the safety measures that I had put in place.

As you can see, I have returned from London, so maybe my hopefulness was genuine? Maybe I realised that I would overcome my suicidal wishes and survive the weekend? I don’t know. My hope is as fleeting as my moods.

It was touch and go at times. On Sunday night, I genuinely thought I would not return. I had a clear plan in mind and was preparing myself for it. I was on the edge. I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to die. I got scared by my mind and the clarity of it and forced myself to take double sleepers to knock myself out. I think they worked. By morning, I woke feeling less certain of my plan and keen to get home. I felt mildly optimistic and even, dare I say it, happy?

How can one’s perspective on things change so quickly? I don’t know if I am coming or going. I don’t know if I am full of hope or hopeless.

My weekend, overall, was good. My mood was unstable, as is the usual, but I did enjoy Saturday night. Lots of alcohol and lots of dancing and I was okay. Moments of withdrawal and sadness descended if I stopped to breathe, but I kept them at bay with a relentless performance of “coping”. I tried to live in the moment, something we are continually preached about at The Priory. It was enough to keep me going and even enough to let me smile a little and actually believe in it and mean it.

Sunday was a slow one and much harder. I didn’t have an alcohol hangover, but a mood one was definitely apparent. We didn’t do much. Stayed in the flat most of the day and went for food in the evening. There was no pressure and with that, I could manage. I had to battle against the thoughts in my head, but without any need for a performance, I could concentrate on that and concentrate on the moment. It was okay.

Last week I didn’t see past the weekend. I didn’t expect to see today. A friend of mine said to me on Friday, life is like driving in the dark. You can only see as far as your headlights allow you, but you know that if you keep going you will see a little further and if you keep going like that you can go all the way. I think that is how I’m living life at the moment. I can’t see very far. I don’t really want to see very far, but I am still getting through each little bit. I just hope that my headlamps don’t go out any time soon or the fog doesn’t get any worse. I’m still struggling and I hate it.

My mood dropped again yesterday. I was at The Priory and although Art was reasonably relaxing, Support was uncomfortable. I was agitated, unable to stay still and the conversation was irrelevant to me for most of the session. I sat and tried to listen, but all I could think about was my unrealised plans from the weekend. When it was eventually my turn to speak, I unleashed my frustration at my mood. My frustration at the speed in which it twists and turns. I did not know what else to say and neither did anyone else. Their depression is explained by divorce, family issues or work stress. Mine is explained by nothing. By faulty brain chemicals or a disordered personality? I do not know and I still don’t have any answers. I am fed up of it.

I don’t know what else to say anymore. On Sunday, I had lost all hope. On Monday, it returned. Yesterday, it was wavering. Today, I do not know.

Knowing how it feels…

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As Chouette pointed out, it is no secret that I met up with her, Kate, Colouredmind and Eccedentesiat this weekend. It was good to attach real people to the blogs and stories that I read. I enjoyed the meet, however brief for me, but am conscious I was talking far too much. It is a trait that comes from nervousness and agitation, but one I struggle to keep under control. Thanks though. I hope we can do it again.

It was great to just chat about everything and anything. Although we all know how it feels to suffer at the hands of mental illness, it was good that we could be “normal” and talk about other things too. We all know what it is to be students and to live in the city that we met. We all have a life aside from this. I think it is good for all of us to remember that. My partner thinks that I have become too wrapped up in being ill and that I shouldn’t spend all my time with “depressed friends”, but I think doing just that has helped me to remember the other side of life.

That said, I also appreciated being with people that know how it feels. I agree with both Hannah and Chou that we have all lost much to this illness. I too, have a list of wishes and a collection of regrets. I too, wish I didn’t have to take medication to live and sleep, wish I could find enjoyment in things and wish I could erase many things from my memory. I wish I didn’t have to spend days in therapy. I wish I could drive without being a risk to myself or others. I wish I could spend time alone without someone worrying about me. I wish I could turn off the negative thoughts that infiltrate my mind. I wish I could return to the career that I loved and not head straight for a nervous breakdown. I wish I could get on with life and want to live.

I have all these big wishes, but it was weird. The thing that struck me most from Hannah’s post, was the line:

I want to wear my hair parting on the otherside and not have scars to hide underneath my hair

I too wish for this. Worse, I wish I could part my hair anywhere and not show the scars of a lifetime of destruction. This is something I am so ashamed of, yet I still continue to wreak havoc. I have scratched my scalp to the point of bleeding and picked at every scar, every single night, for as long as I can remember. My hair no longer grows in the worst places. Elsewhere, it grows in tufts, as it tries to recover from the abuse. I cannot get a haircut, for fear of what the hairdresser might say when they see the mess that is my head. I am deeply embarrassed by it. My scalp constantly hurts and itches and I can feel the blood in my hair. I hate it, yet I am unable to stop. It is a compulsive act of nervousness, a compulsive act of self-destruction, a compulsive act of distraction. It is worse than ever at the moment. I lie awake at night and give in to the urge to hurt myself., leaving blood on my pillow. I sit in therapy and find my hands wandering. I hope no one notices, but fear that they do. I stand at the mirror and look at the scars. Most of the time I don’t even realise I am doing it, but I am painfully aware of the consequences. I wish that I could stop. I wish that wish was enough and I’d have the willpower. I know that I don’t. It is another one of those wishes, but I think it’s another one that is hopeless.

Yesterday I saw my consultant. I didn’t know what to say to her. I said that I’ve been frustrated that I feel no better. I said that the insomnia has returned. Her only answer was sleeping pills, Phenergan (Promethazine) again. I tried it on the ward and don’t think it helped, but it’s all I can try. I refuse to take Zopiclone, Promazine had no effect on me and Trazodone gave me all the silliness and uncoordination of drinking five pints, then left me with the hangover to match. Diazepam is off limits outside of the ward, as she doesn’t want to leave me with a nice addiction at the end of it all. She looked through her bible of psychotropic drugs at the sleep disorder pages, but didn’t find any other suggestions. Only Mirtazapine, which she discounted with a shake of the head. She went through the sleep hygiene list with me, but she knew better than to push that one. Admittedly, the fact I only had an hour or two’s sleep at most last night, was probably exacerbated by the diet coke I’d been drinking, but nevermind. Anyway, I have a note to give Dr N on Thursday, so my green slip will have the new one on the end.

Back to Dr G. She wants to put up my venlafaxine, but is scared of the consequences. The constant background agitation of the past few weeks makes that seem like a bad idea. She wants to put up my quetiapine, but is scared of the consequences of that too. My chronic apathy and considerable numbness are the issue here. Instead, she has done neither and left me in limbo-land with meds that don’t seem to help. I am fed up of the medi-go-round. I just want them to work. She is waiting and hoping that they kick in soon, but I’ve been on these for over 7 weeks now. Surely if they were going to work, they would be by now? Maybe I need to have more faith. How is the placebo effect going to work if I don’t believe in them? It’s still frustrating though.

She seems to think the way forward for me is therapy though. She isn’t holding out too much hope on the meds front. I wish I had as much faith as she does that splodging some paint around, talking about my life story, or getting annoyed at CBT will do anything to help me. It may be a short term distraction, help me to be more honest with myself and others about how I feel and give me a chance to think about stuff, but at the end of the day I still feel like crap and still battle day in day out with the intrusive thoughts. I don’t know how much “working through my issues” I can take and where it is going to leave me ending up.

I am chronically frustrated with this chronic depression. When will things change? I keep ending up in the same place. I keep waiting for things to improve. I am fed up. I feel like screaming it.