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Posts Tagged ‘CMHT

I feel crap…

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I’ve got a much longer post in the making about returning to work and all that jazz, but right now I just need to whine. The other post doesn’t portray much of how I’m really feeling. It is about recovery, yet at the moment that seems like a strange concept.

I feel crap. Not just a little crap, but really crap.

I’ve been trying to avoid admitting this, but pretending things are okay never does me much good. Maybe if I’m more honest and accepting of how I feel, it will help to ease the pressure a little? I am trying so hard to keep functioning that I am probably making myself worse. I don’t know, but I need to do something and I hope that writing about it will help for a moment.

My mood has dropped. Not just a little bit, but a lot. I could feel depression creeping up on me again, but this past 10 days or so have been far, far worse. During the past week, I have felt worse than at any other point in the last six months. My mood slumped at the end of September /early October, but it didn’t slump this far or this fast. Things had picked up quite nicely since then (and the increase in Reboxetine) and I thought it was just a temporary blip, but now I feel awful and I’m less sure it will be temporary this time.

Every morning is a real struggle at the moment. It is hard for anyone at this time of year, waking up when it is dark and cold outside, but this is more than just winter blues. When I wake up from yet another night of broken sleep and nightmares, I feel the familiar cloud hanging over me. It is a cliché, but it is definitely there, dark and cold, looming over the bed. I realise that it’s back. Depression is here and I am hit with a daily dose of disappointment that I haven’t woken up feeling any better. The sense of dread about yet another day hits me and I want to hide under the cover and never come out.

I know I need to keep functioning and I am forcing myself to keep going, but it is getting harder. On some days I have to go to work and there is plenty for me to do the rest of the time, so I have no choice but to keep going. I force myself out of bed, but it is getting later and later and the incentive to do so is diminishing. I was making myself get out of bed by 9am at the latest, no matter how badly I’d slept the night before, but I can’t do that now. Most mornings I am forcing myself up at 10am, but it was later than that yesterday. If it carries on like this, before long it will be lunchtime before I usually get up. I am doing my best to stop that happening.

I feel guilty when I am like this. I chastise myself for being lazy, but I don’t want to be. I just can’t find the motivation to not be. I know the bloke would chastise me too and that makes me feel more guilty and makes me want to hide how I am feeling. It is nearly always the motivation that goes first. Motivation is tied to noradrenaline and that is what the Reboxetine is meant to be working on, but it doesn’t seem to be doing enough at the moment. I need to get it back, but even forcing myself to do things isn’t likely to help much. It will just tire me out and make me frustrated when I can’t seem to cope.

I am still going to work. I refuse to admit defeat on that. I can’t give up on work. I don’t want to let people down and I don’t want to admit that I can’t cope. I’m worried that everyone will blame this relapse on work and say that I can’t do it. Maybe work is to blame, but I don’t see how it can be. It is not stressful and I was enjoying it at first. It felt really good to be going back and I had definitely missed it. I was being careful not to push myself too hard. My four hours a week were going really quickly, but as my mood has dropped, time has slowed down to a crawl and my last few shifts have felt excruciatingly long, despite being so very short. I have been struggling to find the motivation to go as well and have arrived late a few times because I had been putting off getting ready. My concentration appears to be slipping and I have to keep stopping to remind myself of what I was meant to be doing. I had run out of work the other day as well, so it felt like a complete waste of time and boredom was not helping my mood, but I have now got something new to do, which made it a little easier today.  I will manage though. I have to.

I am struggling to do much else at the moment though. Fighting depression and carrying on with work is sapping all my energy. There is housework to be done, but I am trying to get by with the bare minimum. I sit and stare at the laptop, but I don’t do much with it. I am barely bothering to read blogs or even the news at the moment. I spend too much time hitting refresh on facebook or hotukdeals, because they require little attention. I leave emails unanswered or unsent because I can’t concentrate long enough to write them properly. I am trying to knit a hat for my sister’s Christmas present, but it is slow progress and I keep making mistakes, despite switching to an easier pattern. I tried to go Christmas shopping on Monday, but I was so indecisive I barely bought anything and it took the whole day instead of the few hours I had planned. I have voluntary stuff to do – website updates and press releases to write, but I am putting it off.

I did manage to cope with fundraising at the Christmas Fair on Saturday though, which was a relief. I had been dreading it because I didn’t know how I was going to cope. Adrenaline helped get me through the day, which was a long one to say the least, but I survived. I was working with a decent bunch of girls for most of the day, so at least I had some support and there were plenty of yummy cakes to cheer me up, but I was flagging by the end of the day. We raised a decent amount of cash, which I guess makes it worth it. I felt completely frazzled afterwards though. I had to go out for the bloke’s work do in the evening, but I was exhausted and didn’t really want to go. I did and it was a nice enough evening, but I think I’m still recovering from the late night and long day. Everyone else was drunk too and I was driving, so that didn’t help me enjoy it. My head was so fuzzy, I have no idea how we got home safely. Not good really.

I curiously did the PHQ-9 and the BDI the other day, because I saw reference to the PHQ-9 somewhere and I suspected my scores would show I was depressed again. Scores of around 20 and 30 respectively puts me right on the Moderate-Severe threshold on both scales. I don’t believe that it has got that bad so quickly and I think severe is pushing it, but moderate depression is probably a fair assessment at the moment. Strangely, my scores are worse in different areas to where they used to be, but it’s still higher than I had expected. My BDI score did get up to the late 50s/early 60s though when I was really unwell, so there is a long way to go before I get like that. I did a retrospective scoring for how I was during the summer, just to compare and I would have said my PHQ-9 was about 4 or 5 (not depressed/mild depression) and my BDI around 8 (mild depression?). Things have definitely gone down hill. I think my “natural” state is probably a little on the low side anyway, but this is more than that.

Physically I feel awful as well. Tummy troubles continue. I spent one afternoon last week rolling around in agony. The pain in my gut was just so bad and it came on so suddenly I didn’t know what to do. It was probably the worst attack that I have had and it took a few hours to settle down to a dull ache. My appetite was hit by it and still hasn’t really recovered. My bowels just can’t seem to find any sort of rhythm or pattern, no matter what laxatives or diet I am eating – eat eggs and I end up with diarrhoea, eat beans and I can end up constipated. It makes no sense at all.

In general, my body feels really run down. I have a cold sore and have had a few spots break out lately. I think I may have a urinary infection of some form. I’ve spent most of this week constantly needing to wee, although thankfully it hasn’t felt burny/stingy, so I’m not sure. Last night, a lymph node at the back of my head (behind my right ear, up from my neck) has swelled up and it is really painful. It feels like someone has hammered something into the back of my head and that they are constantly notching up the pressure. I couldn’t sleep at all with it last night. I had the same thing happen on the other side a while back and it took a few days to go down. I hope it does soon. I am not sure how much longer I can take this.

I went and saw Dr N this evening. I was hoping he could at least suggest something to fix my body, if not my mind. Sadly he didn’t have much to offer either. That may be partly because I didn’t know what to say to him. I didn’t tell him all that I wanted or meant to. I seem to have forgotten how to talk about this stuff and I keep forgetting things I should do or say.

He asked me what had triggered my mood. I said I didn’t know. Possibly the time of year, but I’m not really sure. He asked what support I was getting from the CMHT. Nothing is the answer I gave and the truthful one too. I had a phone call last week to tell me they’ve “closed” my case, because I no longer have a worker. They had forgotten to sign off my old CPA when my social worker C left, which was back in June, but someone had found it and said they would send it off to me so they could close my case. Dr N had received a copy too, remembering that there was an apology attached to the front. I don’t know what he thought about that. He asked what other support I have. I reminded him that I am still seeing Dr M as an outpatient, but I won’t see her until January now. He asked about the psychology referral. I’ve not heard anything. He sighed at that.

He mentioned that her last letter suggested that I drop the Reboxetine a few days a week to see if that helps the side effects. She suggested either going every other day – 6mg one day and 8mg the next or even 8mg in the week when I have to work or am at home alone and 6mg at weekends when I have more support. Dr N said he thought the latter may be worth a try, because he hopes that improving how I feel physically may ease my mental symptoms too. He doesn’t think 6 or 8mg will make that much difference either way to my mood, but it might help with the tummy troubles. I am not so sure about the idea, especially in light of my dropping mood. In fact, I’d even tried a few days on a slightly higher dose – 10mg (an extra half tablet), just to see if that could kick my mood back up quickly. No such luck though. I guess it is worth a try.

I didn’t know what else to say to him and in the end we just wished each other a good Christmas and I left. I walked out and finally started crying. I’ve needed to for days, but the tears hadn’t come. I don’t know what to do to stop this decline and I don’t feel like I have anyone to help me. I am scared about Christmas and January and all the memories that this time of year is dragging up. This time last year I was telling myself I just have to get through Christmas. I am doing the same now. The problem is, last time I got through Christmas, only to try and kill myself when January came. I don’t want that to happen again. I am not as bad as I was back then. Things have moved on a lot in the past year. I have hope that my mood can recover again, where as last year I had no hope at all, but I am starting to feel more and more helpless and I fear that I will always be waiting for the next relapse. I am terrified that every time I try to live a normal life, depression will come back and bite me. I don’t want that to happen. My mood has to pick up soon. I need to keep going.

This only seems to scratch at the surface of what I am thinking right now. I am scared. I am worried about what everyone will think. I don’t want to let everyone down. Everyone has been so pleased about the progress I had been making and seemed to be excited about me getting better. I had been so pleased too. I thought I was getting my life back. I am going back to work at last. I am driving again. Everything seemed to be getting back to normal. Things seemed to be going really well. Then I am hit with this slump in mood and I don’t know what to do with myself. I know recovery is a difficult process and I’m always going to have set backs, but this feels different. It isn’t just a bad day or two. Nasty thoughts are creeping back in. I am having to put on my happy face. Life feels like a struggle, rather than just being life. I hope it is just a blip. I really do.

I’m also scared about the diagnosis stuff being stirred up. I was recovering, medication was helping, my condition wasn’t pervasive and untreatable, so I couldn’t have had a Personality Disorder. If I’m getting ill again then people will probably start thinking that it was just a co-incidence and that I do have a PD after all. Maybe I am being paranoid, but I am scared about this. I was glad that I had responded to medication. I may have been treatment resistant, but at least I was treatable.  Now I just feel like a failure. It will be back to the theory that I need therapy if I am ever to recover and I will be blamed for not recovering. No doubt I will never get offered therapy anyway, even if I need it, but I was hoping I didn’t need it. I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it. Whenever I think about what went on earlier this year about my diagnosis I get panicky, anxious and upset. It seems to hit a nerve and I have to stop thinking about it.

I hate feeling like this. We will see how things go. At least I have admitted it now. I have been carrying around these thoughts like a guilty burden. I have been secretly acknowledging the depression, whilst denying it in the hope it would go away and that no one else would find out. I feel like I am letting everyone down. I wanted to have a “happy ever after” for this blog and then I’m back here again whining about depression again. That isn’t what I wanted. Sorry.

On my own…

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My care-coordinator, C came to see me on Thursday. We weren’t meant to be seeing each other until Monday when I had my appointment with my psychiatrist, Dr M, but C called me on Wednesday to tell me she wanted to go through the updates to my CPA and risk assessment beforehand. When she arrived she told me the real reason she had came was to tell me she is leaving. It was nice that she wanted to do this personally and made the effort to make the appointment to see me before she went, but I’m sad that she’s going. She’s been asked to work in a CAMHS role, which is what she trained in. I think this is really positive for her and she seems excited about it, so I’m happy for her. I’d just got used to having her around and she was so much nicer and more helpful than useless SW, J, who I had before, so it is a shame. It was quite nice to know she was there if I needed her as I had faith in her, but I think I’ll be okay anyway.

I was asked what I wanted to happen now. I had the option of being assigned someone new or having no one assigned and letting Dr M and my GP, Dr N manage things for a while. I decided to go for the latter. I’ve never found the CMHT overly helpful and I am not sure I really need a social worker at the moment, although it was nice to have C there, just in case. To be honest, I think not asking for another person is more about trying to avoid another useless SW like J was. She did more harm than good I think. I’m not quite sure about the prospect of being a little on my own, but I think it will be okay. I’ve been told I can ask for one at any point and someone will be assigned, so this seems to make sense. I think whilst I’m just waiting to see if things stabilise there isn’t that much to do or say. It just seems to be a case of waiting to see if the improvements hold out. I do wonder if it will be helpful to have someone involved when I am trying to return to work, but we shall see what happens.

Saturday was a bad day. I guess one had to come along again at some point, but it was worse than I’d expected. I woke up feeling a little dodgy in a physical sense, but after a silly argument with the bloke things went downhill. I was crying almost non-stop for hours and when I wasn’t crying I only felt capable of staring into space. I couldn’t think and felt completely exhausted. It got to the stage where I couldn’t really speak properly and when we went to Morrisons I was struggling to do much more than walk around like a zombie, whilst my bloke did the shopping. Something just wasn’t right. I felt depressed, but I didn’t even have the energy to be suicidal. I was just devoid of anything. In the end I couldn’t wait to get to bed so I could start a new day and hope it would be better.

I felt a little better by Sunday morning and by the evening I felt okay again, so hopefully that has passed and won’t happen again. I don’t know if something just snapped or if crying wore me out, but it wasn’t good. I just felt so awful and it was horrible to be back in that place. I’ve not experienced that sort of catatonic depression much as I have a tendency to irritability and agitation, but it is scary when it happens. I don’t know how anyone gets through days or weeks or months of that. I guess the fact is, you’re so down it is impossible to do anything but wait. You don’t have the energy to end it.

On Monday I saw Dr M again. It was a bit of a nothing appointment really. We discussed how the last 6 weeks have gone, but there wasn’t much to be said. Things are still much the same as when I last saw her. I am a lot, lot better, but not 100%. Still getting the odd bad day that catches me off guard, but most of the times things are in the realms of normal. We talked about possibly increasing the Reboxetine again, but she was inclined to leave things as they are for now. She wants the option to manoeuvre the dose up again in future if things dip over time or if  I struggle whenever my therapy referral ever comes around. If she puts it up now, she wouldn’t really be able to increase it much more without pushing the side effects up into unmanageable territory. She asked if I’d heard anything about therapy, which I still haven’t. It’s getting a bit ridiculous because it gets pushed back further and further, but it doesn’t surprise me at all.

We talked about the fact I was seeing occupational health today and what I felt about it. She asked me when I next wanted to see her, which I felt was positive. I was given the option of two weeks, two months, whenever or never again. This would never happen with the CMHT, although I’m not sure how serious she was about never again! I suspect she may have had something to say about it if I chose that option. We decided I’d call her when I have decided though, based upon what was said at occy health and whatnot. She was good to point out I can call her whenever if I need to see her between appointments. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how things have changed between me and Dr M. I didn’t like her at first and I really got the feeling she didn’t like me, but now she’s seen improvements and got to know me a little better and not the me she met when I was in hospital, things have improved. We shall see how things go. I don’t know what happens when I am passed back to the CMHT or discharged by her, but at the moment I’m appreciating the stability and glad I’m not being passed from SHO to SHO.

So today was occupational health. I have been worried about this one because the nice consultant I’ve seen in the past has left the firm. I have to confess to googling the new guy (another Dr G, so not sure I’ll be using that moniker for him) and I found out he has worked for the Health & Safety Executive in the past and has a more safety-focussed history than the last doctor – I got the impression ladders and chemicals were more his thing than mental health, but I could see he was an experienced occy health consultant, so he was going to have come across psychiatric patients at some point in his career. He seemed nice enough. Quite softly spoken and very keen to point out that he is not on anyone’s side and that he has my best interests and health in mind, so I guess that’s good to know. I’ve found that to be true for all of the occupational doctors I’ve seen. Every time, they’ve been supportive and they are not just trying to get me back in work. A pleasant contrast to the DWP/Atos Origin lot I guess, who only seem to care about declaring you fit for work (although to be fair in my case they didn’t).

We discussed how things were compared to last time I saw Dr R. In general, things have improved a little and the improvements have been maintained so that is good. He asked me how I felt about work and occupational health. I confessed to being in two minds – half the time itching to get back and on bad days, worrying that I’d never be well enough. He said that was to be expected, which I guess is true. I was pretty surprised that early on in the appointment he made it pretty clear he didn’t think I’d be returning any time soon. He feels it will be a long time before I go back properly and that I need to show stability for a while before we consider it. I was hoping to go back in some capacity soonish, so I’m disappointed really. I guess I have to slow down and wait and see how things go. I am aware that I shouldn’t rush things, but at the same time it’s about balance, because if I wait too long I will begin to feel useless and get frustrated.

He also said that a return will be very slow when it comes and it could be a very long time before I’m back at work properly. At first it will be just dropping into the office a couple of times to say hello and then maybe working an hour or two a week, building that up to a few mornings or afternoons and then we’ll see. I suspect I will get impatient with that approach, but I know it is what we have to do. I know though that I have a tendancy to do more than I’m meant to, so it will be difficult I think.

Now that I’ve been told I definitely can’t work yet, I feel a bit stuck. I’m having to wait and be patient and I am getting itchy. I had thought that I’d be going back sometime this summer. I expected to be setting a date to start a phased return, but I’m apparently not even ready to do that yet. I have to wait a couple of months before I see him again. If things have improved/stabilised then we can “possibly” start to plan a return. He did suggest three or four months before I next saw him, but I felt that seemed too far away. I’m worried I’d miss my window of opportunity to have some “normal” life. He agreed on two months or so unless I go downhill again in that time. He said I deserve to have a bit of happiness first, which I guess is a nice thought, although it also makes me worry he feels I won’t stay well if I do ever go back to work. I also wonder if I can be really happy if I’m not working. I want things to be normal. I want a career. I want to stay well.

In a way it is good. I know that I don’t have the worry of going back to destabilise things whilst I’m still not 100%. Maybe the therapy assessment will come through in time. It might be good to follow Dr R’s recommendation that I wait to see how I get on with therapy before I return to work. I don’t hold out much hope on that one though.

I guess this time of year is the best to be off too. Summertime. I won’t have to worry about taking time off for holidays. I can make the most of the sunshine, when it happens. I felt awful for most of last summer and I didn’t appreciate it. I am appreciating the sunnier days now.

I guess I can also stop feeling guilty and worrying about being on ESA and in the support group. When I have a good day and I feel normal, I wonder why I’m not at work. I am in the support group, which means I am meant to be too ill or disabled to ever consider seeking or returning to work. Until recently I thought that was the right decision, but as things have improved and I have got keen to return, I wasn’t sure I fitted that criteria any more. I always hated the thought that I was too ill to consider working, even though I knew it was true, but I find it even harder now I am not so sure. Before, I did fear I’d never go back. I couldn’t see any sign of improvement, but I hated the fact that others didn’t have much hope of improvement either. Now I can see that improvement I want to work. I loved my job and I miss it more than ever now. To be told I’m still not well enough to consider working is sad and hard to admit. The upside is though I should stop worrying they will accuse me of benefit fraud. I am not allowed to work even if I want to, so I have to accept that. Without the blessing of Occupational Health I can’t go back.

I just can’t shake off the feeling I am being held back, but at the same time I need to stop myself trying to run before I can walk. I’ve been off work for two years and during that time I’ve been very ill. I know that. 6 months ago I was in hospital. A few months ago I was still threatening to kill myself. Things have improved a lot in a short period of time, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean they can’t change back in a short period of time either. I hope they won’t. I don’t think they will, but it seems I have to prove that these improvements are going to hold out and I can reach some form of stability, before I can consider myself well.

Hmm. We shall see. We shall see.

p.s. I did a quick edit on this post on 9th June. I ran out of time yesterday so the last couple of paragraphs had been somewhat rushed and I didn’t say everything I wanted to. I also didn’t tag things properly. There is still more I can say on this, especially as I spoke to HR today, but I will leave that for another post.

Good days, Bad days…

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I’ve had a lot of good days lately. My mood has picked up sufficiently that I am feeling almost “normal” at times now and certainly manageable at others. I have actually felt happiness or contentedness, something I wasn’t really sure was possible any more. My concentration has been improving and my confidence is growing.

I have started to contemplate the idea that I may finally be heading towards some form of recovery. Maybe, just maybe, we have found the drug that works, despite the problematic side effects.

I have been foolish though in thinking the bad days had passed. I had hoped that I wouldn’t feel that bad again, at least any time soon. I really didn’t feel good yesterday. I woke up feeling low and felt worse as the morning went on. For the first time in a while I felt seriously suicidal, as opposed to the passing thoughts that had been floating around, but which I could brush off relatively easily. I was having to really fight the urge to just thrown in the towel. I felt anxious and uneasy. I’ve been struggling with strange dreams and nightmares lately and they were bothering me. Everything just felt wrong somehow. I wanted to crawl back in to bed and hide there. It felt like nothing had changed. I thought I was past all that, but I was wrong.

Things did start to improve again yesterday evening, but I am feeling a little shaky still. I feel like I’ve been knocked off balance and I’m struggling to right myself.

I am trying to tell myself that this is normal, recovery isn’t a smooth process and bad days are to be expected, but it doesn’t ease the disappointment. Telling myself this didn’t make yesterday any easier.

I hope that things will pick up again, but I am worried that this will set me back. One of the things I struggle most with is the idea that I will never be completely well again and there is always a fear of relapse. A bad day is like a mini relapse and it makes me question if it is all worth it. What is the point in carrying on, if in 6 months, a year, 20 years I end up severely depressed again and try to kill myself? My thinking may be screwed up, but I just wonder if I may as well get it over with.

I had been thinking about going back to work. I do miss it and I’ve been missing it even more when I’ve felt okay. I wonder why I am not there. I know I have only just seen Occy Health and I agree that I’m probably not ready to go back just yet, but I was starting to think that I will be able to do it. Even 3 or 4 weeks ago when I was there, I doubted it would ever be possible. A run of good days has made me think it is, but this bad one has put the doubt back. I worry that it would only take a couple of bad days at work and I would be back where I was before.

I’m still really struggling with the future. I panic when I think about what lies ahead. I am scared of therapy. I am scared of going back to work. I am scared that I will relapse. I am scared of commitment in all shapes and forms. I am scared of getting married. I am scared of buying a house. I am scared of getting old.

I am frustrated, because I was meant to be seeing Dr M on Thursday and I got a phone call today to say she has cancelled. I am disappointed, as after yesterday I felt I could really do with seeing her again soon. I wanted to discuss the Reboxetine. I think it is time to increase it to the “therapeutic dose” (4mg b.d.). I hope that those extra 2mgs will be enough to stave off the bad days. I just hope it isn’t enough to tip the side effects into not-worth-it territory. She was also going to discuss what we can do to ease the side effects, particularly looking at sleep again – the insomnia is the biggest problem. I quite wanted to know what ideas she had come up with since I’d last seen her.

I now have to wait another 2 weeks. It is going to end up being 6 weeks between appointments by the time I eventually see her and we were aiming for every 2-3 weeks, so that’s not so good. It may still be better than the CMHT, but I could have done with seeing her sooner.

I guess I will just have to manage how I am. We will see what happens. I’d like some more good days.

A Little Clarification…

with 8 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t know.

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

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

Day 5…

with 5 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 13th January 2010 at 9:59 am

Waste of Time…

with 15 comments

So I saw Dr D today for the second time. My social worker came in with me, along with a junior doctor who looked about 12.

I didn’t know where to start. I had taken some notes with me which helped a little, but I’m not sure how much he actually paid attention. I ended up having to explain most of my notes when he questioned me.

It seems he doesn’t really know what to do with me. He asked about antidepressants again, but when I reeled off the list of medication I’ve tried, he said I’ve pretty much exhausted the list. He decided to just leave my meds as they are. I’m a little disappointed about this. Although my current medication regime is the best combination so far (as in I haven’t gone *completely* batshit crazy on it), it’s hardly doing the job. I was hoping he’d have a suggestion of something else we could add. It just feels that by leaving the meds as they are, nothing is being done to try and improve things.

I brought up the subject of work and when I was likely to go back. He told me I’m still very ill and that I shouldn’t try to run before I can walk. Clichéd I know. I still find it weird when I’m told that I’m seriously ill. I guess as much as I do know differently, I still have those niggling thoughts that mental illness isn’t real illness. Everyone else’s prejudices still rub off on your subconscious.

I tried to push the subject saying that work were interested to know when I was likely to start a return to work. He just told me not to think about work. He just said the usual things about mental illness not having any exact time-scales. Apparently the CMHT are trying to get me better as fast as they can. I’m not exactly convinced. It feels like nothing has been done to try and get me better so far.

I also brought up driving and he just reiterated the need for me to be “stable”. He didn’t give any indication of what that means, just that I am not well enough to drive at the moment. Apparently all of these things will just happen when I am well again and I shouldn’t think about them. Easier said than done.

I mentioned the EAP therapy and he agreed that it might be helpful for me to have some support whilst waiting for the Enhanced Day Therapies referral to come through. Useless social worker, J was meant to chase up my EDT referral but hasn’t, so we shall see if she does it now she’s been reminded by Dr D. I think he was quite pleased to hear this about temporary therapy because it meant he didn’t have to do anything now himself!

The appointment didn’t last long and just felt like a complete waste of time. Apparently I will see him again early next year. No doubt it will be more of the same.

Regarding the EAP service. Yesterday, I was contacted by one of their counsellors to book an appointment. Unfortunately they were based in Liverpool, which is a two hour trek by bus from here (train would cost me money, bus is free!). I contacted the EAP today to ask if there was anyone I could see in Manchester. They’d linked me to someone in Liverpool because my address comes under Warrington, but Manchester is actually much easier and closer. Unfortunately all of their counsellors in Manchester are currently unavailable, but one comes back from holiday at the end of the week so they are going to ask them then. I guess we shall have to see what happens. If they can’t do it then I will probably give the Liverpool guy a go, but I’m not sure if it will be worth it with all the travelling.

Meh. I really feel crap now. Headache is raging (come on Propanolol! Work!!) and I just feel really demoralised by the crapness of the CMHT.

Written by intothesystem

Tuesday, 24th November 2009 at 6:31 pm

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.