Into the system…

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Posts Tagged ‘chocolate teapot

Mad Men…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Days pass by…

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I’ve been wanting to write for days now, but not got around to it. Things keep coming up or I get distracted.

I saw Dr N on Friday. It was the first time I’d seen him in weeks. First there was the secretary screwing up incident, then I was at Glasto and then he was on holiday for a couple of weeks. I’d missed him, but we didn’t have long to catch up, as is the norm with GP appointments. I told him I’d met my CMHT worker. When he asked if she was a CPN, he was pretty surprised and seemed disappointed when I said I had a social worker instead. I don’t think I’m the only person to be sceptical about the usefulness of a social worker. I left soon after with a new sick note and a couple of scripts.

On Friday night I took the increased Nitrazepam dose (20mg)  for the first time. Had a night of restless sleep, but more than I had been getting before. The problem is it sent me bat-shit crazy.

I woke up in the blackest of black moods. Far worse than anything I have experienced of late and that is saying something considering my mood over the past few months. My mind was focussed on one thing and I was agitated, irritable and highly emotional. I woke up with a splitting headache and generally felt terrible. I spent most of the morning in bed, virtually unable to stand my head hurt so much and completely unwilling to face the world.

In the afternoon, my bloke insisted on dragging me out to The Peak District with the dog. I felt awful and was not in the mood at all, but didn’t have much choice in the matter. During the walk I was angry and upset and unable to control myself. I was crying and shouting and taking everything out on my partner. At one point we stopped at a bench, my bloke determined to talk to me and find out what was wrong. I was pretty much screaming at him that I hated him and just wanted to throw myself off a cliff. There was one point when I realised that we were close to a steep drop down to the reservoir below and I walked straight at it contemplating a jump. It was enticing me, calling to me. I don’t think it would have worked, but it was all I had at the time. My partner was quick to respond, realising what I was considering and restraining me, pulling me from the edge. I did my best to try and calm down and we carried around the walk and then went home, myself occupied by the black thoughts, occasionally bursting into tears for no real reason. I spent a lot of time wishing I’d been quicker at the edge.

Sunday was miserable too. I’d taken the higher dose again, unsure if it was the Nitrazepam or something else that had caused the dramatic swing downwards. I was less out of control but just low and lethargic. The headache was even worse than the previous day. At puppy school I couldn’t stand up for the pain and had to leave my bloke to do most of the training.

I reduced the dose on Sunday night to 15mg. Halfway between my last dose and my new dose. I slept much worse again, but woke up with a clearer head. I emailed Dr G’s secretary with a message for her, explaining what had happened on Saturday and how I’d felt. I said I didn’t know if it was the Nitrazepam or just a natural swing, but that I would continue to take the reduced dose unless she suggested otherwise. She agreed to that.

I haven’t been sleeping well. I do not see much point me being on sleeping tablets when I still take ages to get to sleep, wake up in the middle of the night for a few hours and struggle with frequent waking and disturbing dreams. 10mg of Nitrazepam is meant to be the highest dose and should cause me to sleep for hours and still feel drowsy the next day. It just doesn’t. Even the 20mg dose didn’t have much of an effect on my sleep.

I don’t seem to respond to sedatives much at all. Zopiclone didn’t do much and makes me hallucinate and for that reason I haven’t been given Zolpidem. Promethezine Hydrochloride, Promazine, Diazepam, Nitrazepam all have had little effect. Quetiapine didn’t sedate me at all, even on 500mg. Depakote did have some effect, but generally just slowed me down all day rather than making me sleep. Only Haloperidol has successfully resulted in sleep, but even that included frequent waking and the subsequent hangover and drowsiness lasted all day.

I wonder if Dr G will find anything else to try. She goes through her psychotropic drugs handbook regularly under insomnia and never really finds a new solution. Melatonin was mentioned and may be the next attempt, but we shall see. She also suggested Temazepam but then prescribed Nitrazepam instead. Something I think she may be regretting. It all could have been very nasty indeed on Saturday if I wasn’t kept safe.

Also on Monday, my CMHT social worker came to visit. I hadn’t seen her for two weeks as she had been on holiday. We talked about what had happened on Saturday and I explained I’d contact Dr G about it. She didn’t seem too bothered. We spent the rest of the appointment talking about things that I spend my time doing. She seemed keen to get me to go to the cinema or swimming and spent far too long labouring the point. I know I have to try and find pleasurable activities, but when you find no pleasure in anything it is difficult. I remember her trying to explain a cycle of depression and how the way to break the cycle is to change our behaviour using CBT methods, but she didn’t have a clue about how the CBT model worked or much else for that matter. It turned into me explaining The Priory CBT model to her as she attempted to patronise and bluff her way through it. She kept saying how she’s only a lay person and doesn’t know much about psychiatry. I found this alarming when she is meant to be my first point of call on all things mental health. Why oh why do I not have a CPN? I keep wondering if it is too early to ask for someone else? I don’t like her, find her patronising and her lack of knowledge scary.

She was also meant to be reviewing what services to refer me to, but had forgotten and didn’t have any of the information. Surely I should be referred to these services asap as I’ll be waiting long enough as it is?! She said she’d put some info about other services in the post for me to look at so we can discuss next time, but I still haven’t got anything. She also asked if I’d got an appointment with the consultant yet, but I still haven’t. She was meant to have chased that up but hadn’t done.  No appointment and no information. The other thing she was meant to have done was refer me to some telephone support service that I can’t remember the name of. They were meant to call me when she had, but she clearly hasn’t done that either. Chocolate teapot comes to mind. A different one to Kate and Chouette’s though! Thankfully I don’t see her again for another three weeks.

Since Monday I’ve just been feeling generally low. Tuesday night was jovial, as we had our Ladies Circle meeting. I am always cheery when there, but it is only holding the mood back for a couple of hours, assisted in my act by alcohol. I suspect people find it hard to equate how I come across there, with the openly manic depressive person most of them know me to be. I’ve been open with the group about my mental health as they all know I’m on long-term sick. They probably wonder what, if anything is really wrong with me, but I can’t help the front. It’s second nature when with people I don’t know very well.

This morning I was left on my own for a short while whilst my partner went to do a couple hours work for his old company. Thoughts were running rife, but I kept them at bay. I am low, but managing to stay safe. I am just frustrated that I still don’t want to be managing. I know I should stay safe, but my thinking is still distorted enough not to want to. I have the insight to know this, yet still don’t want to and don’t know how to change it. It’s a trap I am caught in and I know it has to change, but when and how, I don’t know.

Anyway, I’ve rambled long enough. I hope everyone out there is okay. The madosphere is quiet, but then I guess it is summer. People are on holiday.

I see others are moving on or posting less. Paranoia about anonymity seems rife. I think it’s a shame, but understand why. I hope people can continue to blog safely elsewhere or are happy outside of the blogging world.

I’ve actually considered giving up on anonymity here recently. I’ve even mentioned my first name on one of my posts, although hidden. If anyone that knew me found this blog they would instantly recognise it as me. I think it’s important more people are open about mental illness and I have been trying to be a lot more open elsewhere, but here I am hiding behind a pseudonym. Maybe it is time for that to change. We will see anyway. I still worry about my future, employment and reputation and don’t want my moaning here to jeopardise that.

As an aside – what a lot of tags I’ve stuck on this post! Blimey!