Into the system…

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Posts Tagged ‘CBT

Therapy Update…

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So I had my second therapy appointment a few weeks ago now, but I haven’t had the chance to post about it yet. I’ve wanted to write a lot over the past few weeks, but for one reason or another I haven’t managed it.

The appointment covered pretty similar territory to the last one really and I am not sure it was all that helpful. I guess it was worth meeting again, if only to let us bring things to a close a little better, but it still felt a bit like a waste of time. It would have felt very rushed if we only had the one appointment though and I guess I may as well make the most of the psychologist’s time whilst I have it.

Unfortunately, she didn’t really have any further information on the future of the therapy service or when I might be able to see another therapist. They don’t know what is going to happen and it is unlikely that anyone else will be joining the team in the near future. It seems there are only 3 therapists working in the service at the moment, which explains why the waiting lists are so long. Two of those are CBT therapists, so are not really suitable, although apparently one of those is “much more than just a CBT therapist”. The other therapist is male and the assessing psychologist thought that a female might be better and more challenging for me (due to my usual preference of dealing with men). They all have full case loads anyway, so wouldn’t be able to take me on, even if they were considered suitable. It was suggested that perhaps the “much more than CBT” therapist could have maybe taken me on, but the assessing psychologist wasn’t sure if she had the space or if she’d really be suitable. She was going to talk to the team manager and discuss that possibility, but she did think that someone else would probably be better. If she can take me on though I wondered if I should just see her. At least there would be a concrete offer of therapy soon, which could mean I would get started before I am planning to go back to work. I am worried that if I have to keep waiting I will miss my opportunity.

The other option is to wait for the therapist that is out on maternity leave until November and hope that she will be able to take me on. She is a psychodynamic therapist and the psychologist I saw thinks she would be best placed to work with me. I am worried that she will decide not to come back to work or that she won’t have room in her case load for me though. Even worse, I worry that I won’t like her or be able to work with her. If I am going to have to wait a few more months, I’d like there to be some guarantee of a positive outcome at the end of it.

Otherwise I will just be waiting for someone else to join the service, although the likelihood of that happening and them being suitable seems pretty slim. I still can’t believe there are only 3 therapists for the whole service. I dread to think how many people they are meant to be covering between them or how many people are waiting.

As well as talking about therapists, we also talked about topics for therapy and what things I needed to address when I eventually get offered a therapist. We didn’t really identify much more aside from the previous session, but we did look at a few things in more depth.

We talked about school and about bullying a little. I never used to think much of the bullying I went through at school. I didn’t think it really bothered me, aside from making me a bit miserable at the time, but I’d been dreaming a lot about some of the main protagonists lately and some of the dreams or nightmares have been really upsetting. They have been less frequent in the past fortnight, but in the weeks before that they were starting to bother me a lot. I would wake up shaking and confused. I don’t know why it has suddenly come up in my dreams. There is no reason for it to be a problem all of a sudden. I’ve had a lot of nightmares in general lately, but school has definitely been the main focus. Some of these dreams are so realistic, they feel like buried memories and I wake up terrified that I’m back at school. Others are strange and convoluted and make little sense. It has made me think about how I felt back then, a little more. I wonder if things were actually worse than I remembered or hurt me more than I would like to admit. There are periods from school that are really clear in my memory, but other times are just gone and I wonder how much of that is me trying to forget the worst of it all. My  memory is patchy these days anyway, especially since the ECT, but my long-term memory is certainly less affected than more recent times.

Specifically we talked about how there were two kinds of bullying I went through and how they affected me differently. I was teased and bullied during a lot of primary and early secondary school. On the surface, most of the bullying at secondary school came in the form of name calling and the occasional push on the stairs from a bunch of lads in the year above. This was annoying, but I tended to brush it off and ignore them, or be pretty mouthy back. I was usually too quick for them..

On the other hand, even though it was less visible, it was the other stuff that got me. There was always a lot of teasing and bitching from most of the girls, many of whom were meant to be friends. There were a lot of things supposedly said in jest, that really hurt and worse of all, they were meant to hurt. People would pretend to be nice, but many of them were pretty damn cruel when they wanted to be.

In the long-term, this side of things has certainly had the most effect on me. I became afraid to get close to anyone, because they always seemed to stab me in the back. Even now I struggle to trust friends and worry about what they really think about me. I get anxious in social situations and never feel good enough. If people are being nice, I always worry they aren’t genuine. I try to come across as confident, but afterwards I always analyse everything to death and worry I came across as an idiot. I have little true self-esteem (although I can pretend), but when it was battered constantly for years, that is probably understandable. The only thing I have much faith in is my intelligence, ability at school/work and the like and over the past couple years that has somewhat taken a knock too, due to being ill.

Anyway, this wasn’t what I set out to write about, but we didn’t discuss all that much else aside from what I wrote about in the last post.

We left the situation with the psychologist planning to talk to her manager to discuss whether “Not Just CBT Therapist” or “Maternity Leave Therapist” would be best placed to take me on. She was then going to call me to let me know what is happening.

I thought she had forgotten about me, but she finally called on Monday. It seems I will have to wait for “Maternity Therapist” to come back. She may not be able to take me on straight away, but at least they will know more then. It could be months before I actually get to see someone now though.

I’m still frustrated by this. To think the wait is coming to an end and then to be let down is annoying. I just don’t know if it will be worth bothering by the time I actually get to see someone.

Oh well. I don’t know why I expected anything better.

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 6th October 2010 at 1:47 pm

Bombshell…

with 16 comments

On Wednesday night Dr M dropped a bombshell and then ran away whilst it detonated.

Contrary to what was said in ward round on Tuesday, “yes, it does sound like a mood disorder. We shall discuss your notes and call you in later to discuss medication”, they are now questioning my diagnosis, saying my picture doesn’t fit with their understanding of Bipolar Disorder. Now, considering this is based on a half hour conversation with me and a couple days of uncharacteristically fast (for me) mood swings, I am concerned.

They said they want me assessed by the clinical psychologist, which may take “many weeks” before they make any decisions. She isn’t sure where I should wait, here or at home, but is concerned about my safety (which to be honest she needs to be! Being in here doesn’t exactly do anything to convince you life is worth it, when you have already given up).

She said she doesn’t want to change my medication as it might influence the assessment. No mention of taking me off my current meds, which could be doing the same!

Then the meeting was over and I was left to handle the fallout alone.

I am a little shocked. They haven’t seen my Priory notes as the CMHT has lost them. I was under the care of The Priory for many months and I think they had enough time to assess me. Not make assumptions based on a short conversation and observations over a couple of days, which have obviously been influenced by an overdose and stress!

I am concerned that the change of tack seems to have come after J spoke to them. What on earth did she say, especially as she didn’t exactly know me or get the full picture as I didn’t trust her?

I can also sense what is coming. A borderline diagnosis is ahead on the tracks and coming at me fast (or slowly as it’s the NHS). I wouldn’t mind if this seemed to fit, but I am fairly familiar with the criteria and nature of the condition. It doesn’t ring true with my experience. I have no fears of abandonment – I am fiercely independent and quite happy to accept someone won’t be in my life any more, e.g. when therapy has ended. I may miss the person or thing, but not object to losing it and will not try to stop them. I do not have stormy and unreliable relationships – I have been with my partner 7 years. We argue like man and wife and our relationship is strained by this episode of illness, but I don’t love him one minute and hate him the next. My mood swings are not generally reactive and *usually* slower than those suggested for BPD. I don’t suddenly want to kill myself after bad news. Yes, I can express frustration or be upset, but not out to a level that is out of the norm or to extremes. I do not act impulsively without considering the consequences. My major suicide attempts have both been a result of a huge amount of thought and planning. In fact, aside from my mood swings I don’t think I am generally a person of extremes. I also have no past trauma, which is often involved with the condition. I could probably half meet maybe 3 or 4 criteria, but never the 5 needed by the DSM or the descriptions given in the ICD. I’m aware I am having to simplify things through lack of space or time – my thumbs will fall off if I write everything I want to, but I think you get the idea.

Also worth noting that borderline PD is one of Dr G’s specialisms and she never mentioned it to me. She tends to be pretty straight with people, so if she thought it was that then surely she would have been able to say so? She also wouldn’t have referred me to Dr P, him being the mood disorder specialist.

I can’t help but feel this is all part and parcel of the way this label can be misused. Don’t fit classic diagnosis, don’t respond to first line medication, female, suicidal and have mood swings. Oh BPD will do. Lets try and put the square peg in the round hole.

Maybe they aren’t thinking Borderline PD, but the mention of psychologists and lack of anything else even remotely close, suggests they are.

I am also frustrated at the lack of desire to do anything whilst waiting for the psychology/therapy assessment. Even if it was BPD, medication can be helpful with treatment and is often following the same kind of strategy as Bipolar II. She may in a couple months time go back to my current diagnosis, make the same changes and in the meantime I have wasted months of my life stuck on this ward. There never seems to be much desire to get you out, unless they suddenly need a bed then you can be out on your ear, recovered or not.

There are a lot of questions and no one has given any answers yet. I wrote a list of the key practical ones and handed it to my nurse to pass on yesterday, but no mention yet. I suspect I will be waiting until ward round next week.

After all this, my bloke went to see Dr N yesterday for his opinion. I thought this would help but it has made me more confused. Apparently Dr N is quite pleased I am being reassessed as he was never convinced by my diagnosis and he even suggested Dr G wasn’t. I had suspected this myself, but when I questioned Dr G on it, she said she agreed with Dr P. My bloke and Dr N apparently discussed borderline PD for a bit too. My bloke also expressed his concerns about rumination (he seems to think if I stop overthinking and forget about my illness I will be okay) and my blog came up. Apparently Dr N didn’t know I was still doing it! Surprised by this as everyone else, including the CMHT knew. I kinda feel left out of my own care again, so am wishing I had been there yesterday, although I know it is not practical.

Since then I have spent a lot of the last day or so pondering all this. I had a visit from Em in the afternoon which was lovely of her and a short break from everything.

My bloke came in the evening. It was his birthday but he wasn’t exactly full of birthday cheer. Em had got me a cake to give him, which we shared some of, but then we spent the rest of the time talking about all this. He has been doing a lot of research, trying to fix everything and find solutions (typical man).

He has been going over the rumination thing and my lack of positive thinking. I know I overthink. I even overthink good things. The problem is I always have and it feels like part of me. Questioning that feels like a direct attack. It may be an exacerbating factor, but it isn’t the only problem and I also don’t know how I could really change this. I can tell myself to stop and distract myself, but the running commentary just carries on and questions me further. I will almost overthink, overthinking. Distraction works to a point, but when I stop I just go into thinking overdrive instead and I can’t distract forever.

He has all these suggestions of how I can get better and things I need to do. Thinking and therapy techniques, supplements, the usuals of exercise etc. Many of these I do try to employ already and it is all well and good to suggest them, but at the end of the day I am: a) unwell and that can make it hard to do anything, especially when I’m in crisis and all logic goes out of the window, b) stuck in here so many of the suggestions are impractical and c) they may help to some degree but none of these things are going to fix things.

It still feels like he basically wants me to buck my ideas up. I was getting frustrated by this. I know he means well and is trying to help, but I wish he was perhaps more sensitive in his approach. He has gone from acting caring and supportively over the last couple days to criticising me again. I do wish things were all as simple as a bit of CBT, some positive thoughts, routine, eating and exercising well and some distraction. Sadly they are not.

Edit: Maybe this is unfair. The conversation was frustrating and I did feel attacked at times, but I am glad he is trying to help. Some of his suggestions were helpful. There are good bits within the bad. I do just find it hard to see them and I don’t know how much I can do right now.

Today looks pretty bleak and pointless. More waiting and the thought of another long weekend ahead is tiresome. I asked about having Nikki, coming to visit so we could have a walk around the grounds, utilities the nurse said I need to get it sanctioned by the doctor. Considering I am not on a section and would be escorted by my partner this seems unfair. I wish I could just walk out and although in theory I can, they are unlikely to let me. A section would probably beckon, if only an assessment one.

I am tempted to ask for some haloperidol! It is the only thing to ever sedate me and although it turns me into a zombie, I’d quite like to sleep away a few days in an antipsychotic-fueled daze right now. It is not practical in the real world, but in here it doesn’t matter. I don’t have any PRN written up as nothing really works.

Anyway this is pretty long and I’m scared it won’t post! I better go. Xx

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.

Doctors and EAPs…

with 6 comments

I saw Dr N on Thursday. It was good to have him back.

I wasn’t really with it at the appointment. I couldn’t focus and didn’t know what to say. I have felt pretty numb over the past few weeks and I couldn’t convey how I felt. At one point he just said “Are you okay? Have you been sleeping? You seem like you’re on another planet”. I told him that sleeping was a silly question, which he admitted, but he was right. I was very tired and vague. The fact he’d noticed though was good. It makes a change from other doctors that clearly pay no attention to how you really are.

I explained that I’d been having problems with headaches over the past couple months. I’ve literally had a headache every day for about 3 months, sometimes incredibly intense pain, other times just a dull ache, but nearly always there in some form. Beta Blockers are meant to be effective in preventing headaches, so he was a little concerned seeing as I’m already taking propanolol (for anxiety/agitation). We’ve decided to increase the dose and also switch to the modified release version so I’m now taking 160mg daily instead of 40mg b.d. Hopefully it will have some effect.

On Friday I got a phone call from HR. I have a new HR Rep, R. She introduced herself a couple of months ago, but hasn’t been in touch since. She was meant to call me regularly but hasn’t, so it was quite a long catch up. She asked me about therapy referrals, my social worker and psychiatrist. I told her there wasn’t much to say. Therapy referrals take forever, my social worker is still useless and I don’t see my psychiatrist until tomorrow.

She asked me when my last occupational health assessment was. It was over a year ago, so she said she will look into that again. I don’t know what an OH assessment will achieve. I get the impression they only want me to go so that work can say they are doing something to help. I don’t think there will be any pressure on me to get back to work, but I may be wrong. I guess it depends on the doctor I see. I have the same fears I had about the ESA medical. Fears they will tell me that I am making it all up and should just go to work.

If I do go, I wonder if I will see the same doctor as last time. He seemed to be pretty knowledgeable when it came to mental illness and was the first medic to suggest that Bipolar Disorder was a possibility. Shame it took a further 7 months before an agreement was reached on that topic. When I’d brought up his thoughts later with other doctors they didn’t seem interested. I guess they wanted to make their own decisions.

It may be useful to discuss work though. I haven’t managed to get much of an idea from the CMHT about when they think I will be ready to go to work. I am going to try and talk about it with the psych tomorrow. Dr N keeps asking me if I’ve heard anything from HR or whatever, but there hasn’t been anything to tell. I told him about my medical result too and I think he was a little surprised I’d been placed in the support group, although I think it also told him how ill I’d been on the day of the medical. I am not sure he quite understood how bad it was when I’d told him before.

The other thing R mentioned was regarding our company Employee Assistance Programme. I was told that they had been running a CBT trial and maybe I should consider asking about it. I told her I was pretty skeptical about CBT, but it could be useful to have some contact with a therapist whilst I am waiting for the NHS to do something. I agreed I’d give them a call anyway.

I was on the phone to the EAP for ages. First of all someone took my details and asked why I was calling. I explained I’d been told about CBT by my HR rep. She explained that they only offered telephone and online CBT (I’m guessing Beating The Blues!). I told her I wasn’t sure about that, but she said she’d put me through to the counselling team for an assessment and to discuss what might be helpful.

The counsellor was lovely. I explained I’d been on long-term sick leave for mental illness and that HR had suggested I got in touch. He asked me for a potted history, which I gave him as quickly as I could manage. At the end he just kinda went “oh, blimey”. I mentioned I’d had CBT whilst at The Priory and he asked me what I thought of it. I was honest and said that I was pretty skeptical and generally thought it was common sense, useful for mild depression, but ineffective for me. He asked me why I’d even bothered calling then, which was a sensible question. I said that I guess I thought it might be useful to have some contact with therapy whilst waiting for the NHS. Apparently his assessment of CBT was similar to mine and he didn’t think online CBT was going to be much help. He explained that usually a case like mine would be too complex for them to consider, but he wanted to help. He suggested that because I am waiting for long-term support, but I’m not getting the help I need currently, he felt it might be possible to refer me to the face-to-face service temporarily. It would only be four assessment appointments, but it might help me to work out what I want to work on when my NHS referral actually comes through. I agreed that this may be helpful. He asked me more questions then. Mainly about risk and safety. He stressed that his boss wouldn’t allow him to go through with it if they felt I was at too much risk. I had to give him the assurance I would be safe for the next four weeks, which was difficult even now. I am keeping myself safe at the moment, but I don’t know if or when that will change. At the end of the call he explained he would need to ask his boss to authorise my case, but hopefully it would be okay and then he wished me luck.

I am awaiting the phone call back to arrange my first appointment. He said if his line manager had refused he would call me back straight away and I didn’t hear anything, so I’m hopeful. I do think it could be good to just see someone for a few weeks. I don’t trust my social worker and have very little other support. In some ways I’m hoping it will be the same therapist I saw through the EAP back in April/May 2008, but I don’t suppose it will be, but you never know.

I need to go now. I have more to write, but no time. My bloke is going back to work part-time and I have the psychiatrist tomorrow. I guess I will update more soon.

*Sigh*…

with 4 comments

I don’t really know what to say. I have posts I want to write about specific topics, but I don’t know where to start. Head is a bit fried really and I’m just so unbelievably exhausted.

My social worker came yesterday. I had forgotten she was coming and had a bit of a panic when my phone alarm went off. To put it bluntly, she really is full of shit. She spouted all this stuff about positive thoughts and recreating brain pathways and activating synapses, when she clearly had no idea what she was talking about. She was basically waving the CBT stick at me, but tried to dress it all up in technical language and scientific explanations. I am fed up of her suggesting that all my problems will be fixed if I just apply some CBT, think positively and buck my ideas up. I have done a lot of CBT in the past, most of which is common sense. I’ve been applying CBT methods myself most of my life, long before I even knew what CBT was. How do you think I managed to cope with the depression of my childhood, teens and university years? Things have got worse and these methods just aren’t enough any more. CBT doesn’t work for everyone. There is limited evidence to suggest that CBT works with Bipolar Disorder and severe depression (and apparently that’s what it is) anyway, but still they persist. Maybe if I just try that little bit harder it will? Maybe it’s my fault it doesn’t?

Yesterday, I also managed to cut my wrist. This was an accident involving some wire netting and our fish tank. It’s a clean cut, about two inches long, right across the top of my wrist. The blood poured and I felt this massive urge to make more. I’ve not self harmed at all for a couple of months,  but it was a clear trigger. I’ve never really cut. A couple of times perhaps, but it’s not my chosen method of self harm.

When I was last self harming I don’t think I wrote about it, not wanting to alert my partner to the fact. There was a hammer lying around the house, not put back in the garage after some DIY. I was routinely hitting myself with it, all over my body. Sometimes it would bruise, but these could easily be blamed on the dog. She’s bruised me herself enough times. Other times it hurt like hell, yet didn’t leave a mark.

I can’t remember why I started again. I just felt the need one day in the summer, saw the hammer and that was it. Actually I don’t know if the hammer or the need came first. Maybe I was triggered by it then.

This seemed to help for a while. It released some frustration. Things carried on for a couple of months, but then it stopped as quickly as it started. Again I don’t know why. Soon after, we tidied the garage and the hammer went back.

Now I am struggling with the urge again. I want to hurt myself. I don’t know why. I don’t even think it would help. I just want to do it. I have resisted so far and I will keep resisting but the thought is niggling away. I wonder if I will ever get away from the temptation to hurt. I seem to stop and start without rhyme nor reason.

Written by intothesystem

Tuesday, 17th November 2009 at 1:19 pm

Tiresome…

with one comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope everyone out there is okay. Take care folks xx

Short Pause…

with one comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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