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Posts Tagged ‘creative remedies

Argh! So Busy…

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I really am so busy at the moment. I have a list of 101 things I need or want to do and although I seem to be doing lots, the list isn’t getting any shorter. I feel a little like I’m drowning in it all, but I am trying to keep going.

I’ve been at various appointments over the past couple of weeks (Occy Health, Dr M, Dr N, New Social Worker etc). We took our dog to Crufts a couple of weeks back. We had the Creative Remedies exhibition launch last week and I was busy getting things ready for that. We’ve had a couple of circle meetings. I’m on the committee for the local Youth & Community Centre, so have been doing bits and pieces for them. My little sister turned 21 last weekend, so we went home for the weekend. I’m helping get things ready for the event in the village on Easter Monday. It’s been a bit crazy really and there is plenty still to come.

The busyness is generally distracting me from how I am feeling. When I’ve seen Dr M and Dr N they ask me how I am and all I can say is “busy”. I feel pretty disconnected from my mood and emotions at the moment. I am too busy doing to think. I don’t know if that is a good thing or not. I guess at least it means that the blackness isn’t all encompassing at the moment. The thoughts are pushed back and less intrusive than they were.

If I do stop to think though, I feel a little overwhelmed and anxiety hits me. I’m worried I’m pushing myself too hard or taking on too much. I worry that things will fall apart or my mood will fall off a cliff and I will have to drop everything, letting loads of people down. I worry that I will give in to the impulsive thoughts and just give up on everything.

I also worry about things going the other way. I worry that if things improve and I get well enough to go back to work, I won’t have time for everything. I’m involved with loads of voluntary things at the moment and although I know I can’t do it all, I don’t want to stop doing them and I don’t want to let people down.

Back in December/January when I was planning my suicide attempt, I found that one thing which held me back was knowing that people were relying on me to do things and I didn’t want to let them down. It wasn’t enough to stop me, but it did make me think twice. I guess by committing to more things, I am putting up plenty of barriers to keep me here. I just hope it works that way and doesn’t have the opposite effect of overwhelming me and making me just give up.

I guess the fact I am hoping this will keep me here shows there has been an improvement over the past couple of months. I am not sure how much I truly hope, but I know a few months ago it was impossible for me to hope for life at all. All I hoped for was death and as fast as possible. I am not entirely sure what I want now, but life feels like an option again and that’s got to mean something.

This was going to be part of a much longer blog post, but it is long enough already and it may be better for me to stick to one topic per post. I have quite a lot to catch up on and it will be quicker if I do a bit at a time! So busy that I am finding it hard to find the time to write, even though I really want to.

Written by intothesystem

Thursday, 1st April 2010 at 8:33 pm

Discharged…

with 13 comments

So I was discharged on Friday.

I think my reason for discharge was more down to the fact they don’t know how to help me, than me being any better. The current bed shortage probably had something to do with it too. They are struggling for beds and suddenly they are trying to send us all home.

My consultant suggested that staying any longer would not be good for me. The longer I stay on the ward, the harder it will be for me to leave. You get used to the routine, doing nothing all day. You really can’t help but become institutionalised, living in the safe bubble of the ward. The real world gets stranger and scarier by the day. I was getting more and more scared about leaving. It was an easier life in there and I could just about cope with existing. Being home has been a shock to the system and I realise now how much I’d settled into inpatient life.

It feels pretty risky to discharge me. I know I can’t stay in there forever, but I don’t feel particularly safe. I felt safer on the ward, although in reality I probably wasn’t. I wasn’t on escort during my last week and I could have gone out and done something, but of course it’s the evenings and nights I find most difficult and I was always kept safe then. My consultant didn’t seem to be taking the risk very seriously. She seems pretty convinced I don’t mean it when I say I still want to kill myself.

I nearly didn’t get to come home last week. It was agreed that we would meet with my new care co-ordinator on Thursday, so they could work on a care plan before I was discharged. Unfortunately she wasn’t in work for some reason and my consultant was reluctant to let me go without a CPA. By this point I’d accepted I was leaving on Friday and I didn’t want things to change at the last minute, so I managed to convince her to let me go anyway. We agreed that I would be placed under the crisis team until my care co-ordinator sees me this week. They’re not visiting me, but I’m on the list so if I call they can respond quicker. The likelihood of me making the call, even if things are bad, would be slim, but it was enough to satisfy my consultant.

Then on Friday they closed the ward due to an infection outbreak. Probably Norovirus, a stomach bug had broken out. Patients and staff we dropping like flies and the decision was made to close the ward. No one in, no one out. There were doubts over whether or not I’d be able to leave, but permission was sought and I was allowed to go. I felt fated to never leave.

I also had chest/upper abdomen pain, which was pretty bad on Friday morning. At first I just assumed indigestion, but when it still hadn’t gone away by the second day I was starting to worry. I knew I should bring it up with the ward doctor, but with the stomach bug running wild, I knew I wouldn’t be able to leave if I showed any sign of being ill. I decided to keep quiet, but as the pain got worse on Saturday I was starting to regret it. Managed to get through until today and saw Dr N. He said it could be related to the Reboxetine and has given me some meds that should help. We shall see.

At first, it was a nice novelty to be home though. Not getting woken up at 7am, by a noisy nurse shouting “Good Morning”. Food that isn’t lumpy and grey. A doggy to give cuddles. Internet access and my normal phone. Being able to go out without planning it. It all made a nice change. I even got breakfast in bed delivered to me for valentines day (aww).

Sadly though, the novelty is wearing off and reality setting in. I feel pretty awful at the moment. Nothing has changed. I’m grumpy and anxious. The smallest thing is making me snap. I went to Creative Remedies and instead of making me feel better, I felt worse. I just wish everything would go away.

Anyway I have to stop writing. I want to try and write about my time on the ward, but not sure I’ll get much chance. I wrote a lot in my diaries, so I hope I can use some of it for a few entries.

Hope everyone is okay. Let me know your news! xx

Written by intothesystem

Tuesday, 16th February 2010 at 12:56 pm

This Week…

with 4 comments

I can’t remember half of what has happened lately.

Last Saturday was the village Christmas festival, so I spent the day selling tea and cake in the village hall. We raised over £300 for charity, but it was bloody hard work. I wasn’t in the mood to plaster on a smile and I just wanted to run away and hide. We got there though.

Sunday was the dog show in Birmingham. It was a very long day. Getting up at 6am and sitting around with very little to do for hours on end was tough. Our dog won the best puppy bitch, best junior bitch and best puppy in breed though, which means she has qualified for Crufts. It’s a rare breed so there isn’t much competition, but she beat her litter-mate sister. Considering her sister is owned by the breeder and they know what they are doing we were pretty impressed . We’d never even been in the ring before, so to win was a little surprising. So yes despite feeling awful most of the day, I did manage to get a bit of enjoyment out of the day. I definitely felt proud.

On Monday we had the Creative Remedies AGM. The day didn’t start well when I burst into tears on the bus. Forgot it was before half nine (by a couple of minutes!) so I couldn’t get on free with my pass and I didn’t have enough money. Was so stressed out I just burst into tears and basically had a mini panic attack. Got there in the end and the meeting was a bit flat and weird really. I was going to stand for Chair, but C wanted that role so I decided to just let her go ahead and stood for secretary instead. I saw little point in standing against her when we needed someone in the other roles anyway. I ended up getting elected to Vice Chair and Secretary in the end as we were short of people. I just hope the secretary role isn’t too stressful. We still don’t have a treasurer, which is a pain.

Tuesday was a slow, low, long day. In the evening we had the Ladies Circle Christmas drinks. I felt a little out of it at times, but it was nice to see some of the girls. I left early though as I was just too tired.

Wednesday started with a trip to see Dr N. DP had been keen for me to see him before my next appointment and I was running out of meds, but I didn’t really know what to say. Dr N knows things aren’t great right now, but I’m not sure he is fully aware of the extent of my mood. He doesn’t really know what else to do anymore though, so he just listens to me babble. I appreciate that he listens. I didn’t really babble the things I wanted to. I left feeling a bit disappointed and demoralised. I’ve made an appointment for in between Christmas and New Year though. It’s bound to be pretty booked up then so thought I better not leave it.

After the Creative Remedies Christmas Meal (fine, not overly exciting) it was time for the journey over to Manchester to meet DP. I had plenty of time so got a quick wander around Piccadilly Gardens before jumping on the bus to the therapy centre. The bus was packed and my bag got bashed against one of the seats. It made a loud noise, but I didn’t think much of it at the time. Later on as I was leaving therapy I realised my bag was wet and the can of Vimto I had with me had burst. I was not very impressed. The smallest thing stresses me out at the moment and I just wanted to cry.

Anyway, the therapy session itself? DP asked if he could send over a form from the EAP to my GP. We weren’t sure it was worth it as I am already in services, but we thought maybe Dr N can wave this piece of paper to say “look, she needs more help”. It’s worth a try anyway, so we filled that in. Then we talked about how he could help. I still don’t really know what use the four sessions are going to be (just two left now!). He wants to help me access further services, which makes sense and he wants to give me some support whilst I’m sat in the eternal wait for the NHS. I just wish it could be more.

I can’t really remember what we talked about though. Towards the end I got stuck and didn’t know what else to say. We just ignored each other and sat in silence for a few minutes, but it was time to wrap up anyway. I see him again next week, just in time for Christmas.

Thursday was a slow day again. I got up late and had slept okay. I just felt weighed down and lethargic. Truly a classic depression day. In the evening I was going to a gig in Manc and staying over with a uni friend. I didn’t really feel up to it but I made it and was glad I went. It was good to just let go, dance and pretend everything is okay. I felt a bit weird at times during the gig. Kept going dizzy and losing my balance, but nevermind. Everyone was dancing anyway so I doubt anyone really noticed. Afterwards we shuffled home in the ice and the snow trying not to fall over.

I didn’t sleep all night. It was cold, the air bed was sliding all over the laminate flooring and my mind was racing. I ended up just staring out the window at the icy city. It was a long night.

Yesterday involved another Creative Remedies meeting. We’re trying to apply for funding as we’re only funded up until March, but I noticed at the last minute that we wouldn’t have been eligible for the scheme we were about the apply to. In the end we used the hour to look for alternatives and have found a scheme that looks promising. Need to get the forms filled out in the New Year. After we tried to do a bit of Christmas shopping, but drew blanks. meh.

In the evening useless social worker, J called. I’d guessed what she was going to ask before she did. She wanted to know how I was. I told her I was a little better than I’d been the day before, which was true, but hardly gave her any indication to my mood. She took that to mean I was fine. She wanted to cancel our appointment for Monday, meaning I won’t see her now until January 6th. I’m quite glad I won’t have to see her for ages. Our appointments are always a complete waste of time and I usually end up wanting to hit her (please note, I won’t!). Yet I am not sure it’s a good idea either. I don’t know why I told her I’m fine. I am meant to be trying to get more help and instead I’ve let her walk away. I’m not sure Dr N or DP will be too happy I’m being allowed to slip under the radar. Nevermind.

So today. I’ve not done much really. Hid away from the cold a lot of the time. Wish I could just hide away from life too.

Written by intothesystem

Saturday, 19th December 2009 at 9:26 pm

Stream of Conciousness…

with 10 comments

I started this post on Monday, but didn’t get time to finish it. It’s now Sunday! I don’t know where my weeks are going. I keep snatching five, ten minutes or so to write, but it takes me half that time to work out where I was before. I keep wishing I could write more, but other things get in the way. I guess more accurately I could say another person gets in the way. My bloke is still not too keen on me spending time on here and that means I usually have to fit it in when he’s not around.

At Creative Remedies on Monday we were asked to write. To write and to keep writing whatever came into our heads for three minutes. I wrote something private, something which I had thought about writing on here for a while. My thoughts were about how I come across at Creative Remedies. I behave like I used to at work and at uni. Friendly, helpful, bright, but hiding how I actually feel. There is a front there that hides the illness. An act. I feel like I have two halves. One outgoing and intelligent, the other ill and flawed. One bright, one dark.

I soon wished I hadn’t have written this. The next step of the exercise was to place our work in a pile on the table. Each one would be passed onto someone else who would then highlight the bits they most liked. The idea was to give us suggestions of how we could turn our stream of conciousness into something a little more creative. I didn’t want to share these inner thoughts. I didn’t want to let anyone in and break down the front. It was made even worse because my notebook is distinctive so whoever got it would know it was mine.

I felt almost sick as I handed over my book. I was given someone else’s piece. Theirs was fairly personal too, but completely anonymous and it gave me no real idea of the context. It didn’t let me in like mine would let someone else in. I was jealous of the guarded nature of their writing.

I could see who had mine. They were writing fervently on my piece. I worried about what they thought. They hesitated to pass it back still writing away. She glanced over at me and mouthed the words “is this yours?”. I had to reluctantly nod as she brought it over to me. Everyone else was scrabbling away at the pile trying to find their own.

I looked at her words. They were kind and expressive, but I still felt a little violated. She had liked my writing, yet I still felt uneasy. She was worried for me. She could feel the sadness and emotion in my words and wanted to comfort me. She later asked me if I was okay. It felt strange and I wasn’t comfortable with her concern. I don’t know that I deserve it.

I know she will never see me in the same light. She is the one person that knows the façade isn’t real. She will look at me with suspicion wondering what is behind the act. Wondering how I really am. I feel like I’ve been found out.

It’s weird how I can write here, knowing anyone could read this, yet I am so uncomfortable. It’s weird how I’m actually considering dropping my anonymity on this blog, yet I didn’t want to drop the act with one person. How would I feel if the same person came along and read all of this? I don’t know.

I don’t know how I really feel about these two sides. I guess in some ways the act shows I am making progress. I can hold myself together in front of people now. I can portray a sense of capability and confidence.  I can actually do things and at times I even enjoy them. There have been times in the past year or so when there was no way I could hide anything and enjoyment was a foreign concept. I was a mess, unwell and visibly so. That’s not true any more.

Yet, I am not sure it’s a good thing. I wasn’t well a year ago when I was first admitted to The Priory and I behaved the same in therapy. I was the sensible, level headed, friendly one. I spent more time giving others advice than I did talking about myself. I was the helpful, confident person. People even wondered why I was there. I seemed fine. I wasn’t.

I don’t really like the act. I don’t like its return. I have worked so hard in therapy to break it down. To be more open and honest about how I feel. To be more true to myself. For the therapists at The Priory, I was making progress when I started to talk about myself. I was chastised when I went into helpful, clever mode. I wonder if I should chastise myself when I act like this now.

At times I wonder if the act was what broke me in the first place. The act was a problem before, back when I was at work. I kept going, working harder and harder to hide how I felt. At times fuelled by unidentified hypomania, at other times fuelled by denied depression. I didn’t want to admit I couldn’t cope. I didn’t want to fail. I wanted to be confident and capable and not at mercy of emotions or illness. I drove myself into the ground until I snapped and my world fell apart.

I am worried I will do that again. I have been doing new things and taking on new projects over the past few weeks. I have ideas, I want to do things, I want to be successful. It’s a familiar feeling. My life has been full of periods where I take on new things and projects, but more often than not I take on too much and cannot cope. With hindsight some of these periods can be clearly attributed to hypomania, but others I am less sure. I wonder if it is just my personality. I don’t want to immediately see everything as something to be pathologised, yet I also want to learn from the past. I need to recognise the patterns and change them. I don’t want to keep crashing head first.

I don’t know what my mood is doing at the moment. People ask me how I am and I don’t know how to answer. I’m depressed, yet am I? Yes, the signs of depression are there. I feel numb, empty, suicidal. Negative thoughts, anxiety, paranoia too. The physical signs are out as well. Headaches, insomnia, tiredness. It all points to depression, but it’s not the whole picture. I am excited about new projects, interested in things (albeit not everything), doing stuff. Where is the anhedonia? I don’t think it’s a mixed state either though. Not in a classic way. I am not really sleeping, but I am tired with it. My thoughts race, but no more than is really usual for me. I am a little on the snappy, agitated, quick-to-anger side, but not physically agitated or excessively so. I don’t feel like things are going too fast. yet. I wish my mind would make it’s mind up. I feel almost lost within my mood.

Going back to the topic of anonymity and this blog. I don’t really want to be anonymous any more. I am not ashamed of my illness and I think it’s so important people are open and honest about these things. We can’t break down stigma if we’re too afraid to talk openly about mental health.

I am not even worried about employers googling me. I have no intention to leave my company any time soon. Even if I was looking for a new job, if a company didn’t want to employ me after reading this then I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway. This may limit my career in future, but it’s something I’m willing to take the risk on.

There is a problem though and it’s my family. I am not sure I am willing for them to know how I really feel. I don’t want them to worry. I know my partner reads this already, but with my parents I am even more economical with the truth. I have never been open with them and I’m not sure I’m ready to start. I guess it is doubtful they will ever google me and find this anyway, but it is still a risk.

I realised though recently it’s not even that which is the main problem. It’s actually the stuff about my sexuality I’m most scared about. I thought I was comfortable with it. I thought I’d worked through everything a few years ago when I really went through a crisis of identity. I haven’t. I am fine with coming out knowing the people I am talking to are open minded, but I am not so sure about the rest of the world. More specific I’m not so sure about those closer to me. It doesn’t hurt if some stranger says something horrible, but if it’s someone I know it’s different. I know my mother can be quite homophobic and I suspect her opinions on bisexuality are even worse. I don’t want her to find out. I have always said that she doesn’t need to know and what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. I suspect other members of my family would be even worse. I just don’t think I can face it.

I realised the other day that I’m not as comfortable as I’d like with my sexuality in general. The other night I was at the pub with a friend and somehow we ended up talking about gay couples. I mentioned a girl I know who used to be in a gay couple and she now goes out with a bloke. She made some comment about him “turning her” and I pointed out that she could be bisexual. She seemed a little taken aback by that and I didn’t know what to say really. It could have been the time to be honest myself, yet I was uneasy with her reaction. I wish I was comfortable enough to be completely “out”, but I guess I’m still not there.

I guess I could always go back and censor myself. I could make any mention of my sexuality private and I’d be safe, yet I don’t want to. I guess I could throw caution to the wind, face my fears and all of that, but I’m not sure I can do. I don’t know what to do.

Freedom is regret…

with 5 comments

I’ve had the New Post page open all day, yet I’ve still not written anything. It is weeks since I last wrote a proper post. I still have a lot I want to say, but the words just aren’t flowing at the moment. They run around my head in a flurry of thoughts, but I can’t seem to convert that stream of conciousness into type.

I don’t really know how things are. On some levels I am improving. I am functioning a lot better and have been a lot more productive lately. I am doing things, going places. In many ways I could maybe even pass as okay. On a good day maybe even well!?

I’m enjoying Creative Remedies more than I expected and it is proving good to get me out of the house. I have been working on the website for them and I am quite pleased with the results. I struggled at first with concentration but I managed to get it together in the end. It just takes me longer to do anything these days. My brain just isn’t what it used to be. My thinking has slowed down and my memory and concentration aren’t there. I do wonder how much ECT has affected my thinking power for life. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to work at the level I used to be at.

I have had a little more freedom of late, which I guess comes from people thinking I’m a bit better. I’ve got the bus to and from Creative Remedies a couple of times and spent a little time wandering around town on my own or out with the Creative Remedies folk. It feels good to be out and about. It feels good to be out with others, not just my bloke. It feels normal. It isn’t normal to not be allowed anywhere on your own.

I’ve also had the odd evening at home whilst my partner has been out. This week, I’m even spending three days alone, whilst he’s doing some contract work for his old employer. Time alone is never easy though. I wish it was. I both relish and dread it. I look forward to the freedom and the time to do as I please, but dread the thoughts it generates. There is the constant wish to “make the most of the opportunity”. The thoughts that I should just get on with it and kill myself. Getting through each period of time should be an achievement, but it just fills me with regret. Regret that I didn’t take the opportunity. Regret that I’ve failed yet again to end my life. Regret that I didn’t even try.

So of course, nothing has really changed. The bottom line is I still wish I was dead. I still think about making that wish a reality, every single day. I still struggle to get through a day without hurting myself. I don’t know if this is ever going to change. It feels like it has become the norm. I think it would be strange not to feel like this.

On the outside I may be improving. I may be functioning better and superficially at least I seem okay, but the inners are still faulty. I am frustrated that despite any improvements I still feel awful most of the time. I am coping and I getting through each day, but I don’t know why. I am frustrated that my thoughts still race, the impulses are still there and I still want to die. I don’t want to give up on recovery, yet I find it so hard to keep on.

Written by intothesystem

Tuesday, 20th October 2009 at 10:03 pm

Discharge…

with 3 comments

So it is official. I am being discharged from The Priory by Dr G. I contacted her yesterday about the outcomes of my NHS appointment and her secretary called me back to say she will sort out the discharge paperwork and copy all my notes to send over to the CMHT. I knew it was coming, but it was still a little weird to know the decision has been made and put into action.

I am really going to miss her support. In a couple of days it will be a year since I first met her and a lot has happened in that year. She has been there through everything and has done her best to help. I wouldn’t be here by now if it wasn’t for her. On many an occasion my promise to her to keep going has stopped me acting. I am not going to say I’m grateful for that, because I still wish I wasn’t here, but I am sure my family are grateful.

Mood wise I’ve come back down from last week. Things started to calm down on Friday and by the weekend I was back to numb, monotonous depression. I’m missing the buzz from last week and disappointed that the promise of hypomania hasn’t been fulfilled, but in a way I am glad it is over. Impulsivity is always a real risk when I am wired like that. The flat depression isn’t fun either though. I am so bloody bored of feeling like this. Able to function, but wishing I wasn’t. Stuck in some kinda half-existence, where I go through the motions but feel so little and care even less. In a way it is better to feel worse, because at least then you are feeling something.

Today I was interviewed for local radio. Next week they are focussing on mental health in the run up to World Mental Health day on 10th October. The BBC came to Creative Remedies this afternoon as they want to feature the scheme on one of the shows. I was a little surprised when the staff asked if they could interview me. I had no idea what I was going to say, but managed to get through it and hopefully with a little editing I will sound half-coherent. I’m not quite sure why the outreach team picked me as I’ve not been going for long, but I guess I come across as fairly confident and talkative in sessions, where as a lot of people are quiet and reserved.

The team were asking me about ideas for advertising and improving the scheme. There are a lot of things they could do with it so it will be interesting to see how things go and what suggestions get implemented. They also want to set up a website about the sessions and to have somewhere to display our work. Of course I have experience in that area, so it looks like I’m going to work on that with P, one of the outreach workers. I think the team are quite keen to make use of my skills!

Not much else to report. Life goes on.

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 30th September 2009 at 8:13 pm

ESA Medical…

with 9 comments

I know I’m updating a lot all of a sudden, but I guess there are things I want to document this week. My talkative mood is probably helping too.

I made it to my medical this afternoon. I am so glad it is over.

I was all over the place during the interview. The doctor kept asking the same things over and over again and it was tiresome. My head was spinning, thoughts racing, agitation brewing. I kept forgetting what I had just said and found myself getting more and more worked up. I couldn’t keep still from the agitation. It didn’t help that she wasn’t following things, but I don’t know if that was me talking too fast or her being a bit slow. She kept mixing my doctors up (I know it’s complicated. I still have 2 psychiatrists!) which was getting really confusing.

She didn’t seem to ask me much about what I can and can’t do. She did ask if I got up, dressed etc (yes, with bullying from my bloke). She asked me if I went anywhere (yes, if someone takes me – I mentioned Creative Remedies). She asked me if I saw friends and socialised (sometimes). She asked about driving (no, not since October 2008).

We talked a little about my overdose in February and what happened afterwards. We talked about ECT. I told her when I’d been in hospital. We talked about my current care – The Priory and transfer to NHS, who does what. She asked me a million times if my doctors knew what I was telling her and who was most up to date with everything. I didn’t know why she was asking that so much. Maybe so she knows whether to trust any information she gets from them or so she could check up on what I was saying?

She kept asking me about suicidal thoughts. She wanted to know why I hadn’t tried again if I still experience the thoughts. She asked me literally 30 times if I had any active plans, maybe even more. She seemed quite concerned when I was honest about the extent of my thoughts, even though I have no real means or firm intention to act at the moment.

I was forced to talk about anger and violence. I couldn’t deny that it has been a problem of late, but I didn’t want to be seen as “dangerous”. I felt so uncomfortable talking about it.

We talked about mood. I found it hard to convey what it is really like. I told her about the current agitation and how this is a fairly new development. She suggested the agitation could have been caused by anxiety about the appointment. I didn’t think it was and denied it at the time, but since I’ve thought about it some more I think it may well have contributed. I really was all over the place whilst I was in there and anxiety must have been exacerbating the situation. I tried to describe the aching, dull, flat, numbing depression that has lingered on and off for ages. I tried to describe the mixed agitated depression that is often a problem. I don’t think I succeeded on any account.

I mentioned that my partner had given up his job to care for me and she asked me about this. Is he with me all the time? How often does he leave me on my own? Who does what in the house? Do I ever go out on my own? etc. etc.

When we went over my meds, she seemed surprised that I am taking melatonin and even asked if it’s a hospital-only prescription. Considering melatonin can be bought over the counter in the US, it does make you wonder why it is so reluctantly used over here. The CMHT seemed surprised too.

At one point towards the end, she left the office to go ask her colleague something and I couldn’t help but burst into tears. I’d been holding myself together up until then, but the stress of it all tipped me over the edge. I don’t know what it was as I barely ever cry these days. Girlie hormones probably aren’t helping at the moment, but even still it seemed ludicrous. Unfortunately she came back in whilst I was trying to pull myself together and then asked me a million questions about why I was crying. I was worried she would think I was putting it on for effect or something. I genuinely couldn’t help it, but was so embarrassed and paranoid about it.

Although she asked me a million questions I don’t know if she has got anywhere near enough information. Most of the stuff didn’t seem to be very relevant to whether or not I can work. Maybe she was just nosy? I guess that’s her job.

I cannot convey how erratic the whole appointment was. Questions were being fired in all directions and I was so mixed up I couldn’t answer her. My sentences were blurring into one. I was jabbering on and on and going off on tangents. I didn’t say half the things I should have. I was not clear at all. I’ve been going over things in my head since, trying to make sense of it all. Trying to work out her intentions and what she was thinking and asking. I know I should just forget about it and wait for the results, but my head is just looking for things to think about.

One thing I have noted is the clear effect of stress. I was anxious and stressed by the situation and I could not deal with it at all. I was turned into a whirlwind of agitated confusion. I’m just thinking about work and similar situations where I have to answer questions and think about what I’m saying. Conference calls for example. There is no way I can handle one at the moment. It’s okay doing that with a doctor that is trained to deal with it, but it is not okay to talk like a madwoman in front of your boss.

In some ways my inability to deal with the situation may stand in my favour. I suspect now I probably came across quite mad. After all, I need her to think I am too ill to work. The problem is, I think I may have come across *too* mad. I was incapable of answering her questions and I’m worried I may have messed up in some way. I’m worried I didn’t answer things clearly enough or that I missed things out. I am paranoid that she was trying to catch me out. I’m really worried she will think I was putting it on or making things up. I wasn’t, but I wasn’t “myself” either and that could be problematic.

Afterwards I was tired and didn’t really want to do anything. The session took it out of me and I needed processing time. Kinda like therapy actually. I guess it was similar in that I had to talk a lot about how I was feeling and what has happened.

Unfortunately I wasn’t really given that processing time as my bloke wanted me to do stuff. He forced me to clean my car, which took ages at it was filthy. As I’m not driving at the moment my lovely little car spends most of its time sat on the drive. It has been sat still so long that green slime was growing on all the window seals. Not good. It’s looking better now, but there are still bits that aren’t quite there.

My thoughts are still racing. I walked the dog this evening and I thought that would help calm me down but it hasn’t. I was distracted thinking about the medical, work, suicide, random pointless stuff, everything. I have music spinning around in my head on top of everything else. The “We buy any car” advert is driving me mad… we buy any car, we buy any car, any, any, any, any, we buy any car… Make it stop, please!!

I suspect I won’t be updating quite so much in the next few days. Nothing is happening. We are taking the dog to a breed show on Sunday, but that is all I can think of. I will see Dr N sometime at the end of next week. I have Creative Remedies too, but nothing unusual or exciting coming up.

Limited Capability for Work?…

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A little less agitated than yesterday evening at the moment, but I’ve had a terrible night’s sleep. I was very wound up all night and couldn’t keep still. My head was flying all over the place. Every time I drifted into sleep I had busy, fast, vivid, strange dreams. I was waking up from them every 30 minutes or so and wondering why I wasn’t doing all the things I was dreaming about and then I couldn’t get back to sleep because my mind was flying off on all these tangents inspired by the dreams. Things eventually seemed to calm down a little around 6-7am, so I did get a couple hours of sleep, but even then my sleep was littered with more dreams.

Part of this agitation may have been exacerbated by the argument I had with my partner last night. The night before I am due to go for an ESA medical, testing whether or not I am fit for work, he tells me I should just go back to work and implies that I am lazy, a skiver and not ill at all. This isn’t helpful.

He was telling me that I should just go back because unless I do, I’ll never be ready. He thinks I am just putting it off forever. He thinks I need to go back and try to work because until I do I can’t be sure if I am ready or not. This is of course true, but I think I need to be showing more signs of being ready before I try it.

There are of course a lot of things to lose by going back too soon and then having to stop working. The loss of my permanent health insurance income being one. I’d have to apply again for it, which is a lengthy process. The loss of ESA will be another factor, if of course they ever give me it. As I am claiming under youth rules I’d have to be off sick for another 6 months before I can claim again.

I suspect that he may in part be pushing me back for selfish reasons. He has of course given up a lot to look after me, but I think it is wearing thin and he doesn’t want to stay at home and care for me any more. I pointed out to him that if I am ready enough to go back to work then he shouldn’t need to care for me anyway and should just go out and get himself another job, but he didn’t seem to agree. The fact he still thinks I can’t be left on my own must tell him I can’t be expected to work. I would likely be on my own a lot in the office and there’s also the matter of getting to and from work. It would be easy to abscond.

My social worker seems to have a strange attitude to my employment. She was asking me if my goal for recovery is to get back to work. For me, the ultimate goal is being well enough to work again and more importantly for me, to go back to the job I loved doing. She seemed disappointed with this and almost surprised. It really felt as if she thought I shouldn’t expect to work again because of my mental health. Maybe she just feels I shouldn’t be working in a high-pressure, highly competitive environment, but for me, working in a simpler job wouldn’t be recovery. It would seem like a poor compromise.

To me her attitude to work seems bizarre. Surely her goal should be for me to return to a normal life, or at least as normal life as possible? I don’t think it should be expected that I will remain disabled and a full-time mental for life? I really fear that will happen and need as much help as possible to stop it happening. I know I have to face the fact that this illness isn’t going to go away and I will have to learn to live with it, but I hope that I will be living a fuller life than this sometime soon.

At the moment I don’t think I’m ready to go back to work. This sudden swing into agitation is a suggestion of that. Last time I tried to return to work I became very hypomanic, very quickly, probably aided by the fluoxetine I was on at the time. Work is likely to fuel this mood and send me up and up. Maybe that would be nice, but I’m not sure I’d be a productive employee.

Even if I hadn’t have entered this mood yesterday, I don’t think I’m ready yet. I am still battling suicidal thoughts almost constantly. Stress would only make these thoughts more urgent and amplify the need to escape this world.

There is also the matter of anger management. I’m not there yet. I have calmed down on a month or two ago, but I am still struggling with bubbling agitation. The smallest thing can send me into rage, wanting to hurt both myself and the cause of the anger. I have to admit I can’t take criticism. It was something I found hard before, but I usually turned it on myself mentally. Lately I’ve been literally hitting back and that is not suitable behaviour for work. I don’t want to be violent and I certainly don’t want to display that in the workplace. It would do nothing for reducing the stigma that mentally ill people are dangerous.

It is these things that I’ll be talking about today at the medical. I need to convince them I shouldn’t be working, yet I’m doubting this myself. I hate being hypocritical. I guess if I do get through the medical it is proof that I shouldn’t be working. If I can convince the DWP, who are notoriously bad at trying to get people back to work before they are ready, then I really must be ill. We will see. I don’t hold my breath.

There is a voice that tells me I am a fraud and I should just go back to work. I feel lazy, sitting around having nothing to do all day. I am trying to occupy myself, but I am not a productive member of society.

I am getting stuff done, but this only makes me think I should be working. Over the past couple of days I’ve embarked on a project to sort out all of my photos and to get them online. I used to have a photo gallery on my website, but I took it down when the domain was up to expire and since uni I’ve been very lazy about my photography. I have literally thousands of images, over 40gb worth. A lot of these are utter rubbish, but I want to find the ones that aren’t and get them out in the open. Anyway, the point of this is I’ve been sitting on my computer sorting this photos out and generally I’ve been able to concentrate on the task in hand. Considering a vast amount of my job is sitting at a computer then maybe I should be doing that and not just sorting out my photos.

I’ve been baking more recently and on Tuesday, I also made a load of home-made chocolates. I managed to do it successfully this time after a recent attempt involved me using semolina instead of sugar. Unsurprisingly the mixture had to go in the bin. They were popular at creative remedies yesterday, with many suggestions of having to sell them or give them as christmas presents.

I had even ventured back into the world of books and reading over the past month or so. I haven’t picked up a book for a couple of weeks, but I was getting there. I was reading stuff and even starting to enjoy it a little. I sometimes had to read paragraphs multiple times or forgot what I had been reading the previous day, but I was getting through the pages.

I also worry about this blog. The fact I can sit here and read and write. Does that mean I should be working instead of just writing about the fact I’m not? If people found this, would they use it against me to tell me I should be working?

This desire to work has of course has been amplified by my mood since yesterday. I have all these ideas of things I could be doing at work. I will not be on a project at first so need to find some internal work I could be doing. I can think of so many ways to improve our company. So many things that could be done and I want to be the person to do them.

There are barriers to returning. My doctors tell me I’m not ready. My social worker tells me I’m not ready. I need to go to occupational health before they will let me go back to work and they may well tell me I’m not ready. When will I know if I’m ready? How can they know?

A little speedy…

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What’s this? Another post!

My mood today has been strange. I woke up this morning with my head racing, thoughts flying all over the place, a preoccupation with work and a desire to do a million things and make a million plans. The verge of hypomania, somewhere I’ve not really been for a while.

The preoccupation with work is strange. I dreamt about going back to work and woke up thinking about all the things I could be doing if I was there. I miss it. I wish I could go back. I have projects I want to get on with.

This speedy mood has been coming and going all day. Concentration coming and going. Thoughts racing.

At Creative Remedies I think I was a little high and probably a little annoying. Talking too much and I was getting bored of my painting too easily. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Even now I’m jumping from one sentence to another and not even finishing paragraphs.

I wonder where this is going. I’m praying for it to be the end of my depression, yet the rapidly recurrent suicidal thought intruding into the rest of my thoughts suggests it isn’t. It definitely feels like the closest I’ve been to a “good” mood, even if my head feels like it’s spinning too fast, but there is still that dangerous, destructiveness mixed in. I don’t know where I am. I expect this is just rapid cycling showing its head and no doubt it will be gone as suddenly as it arrived, but we will see.

At the moment my mood isn’t physically obvious, but my mind feels like it’s being thrown about and shaken up. I am keeping the agitation down, but I don’t know how long that will last. I am trying to keep myself in check.

Tomorrow I have my ESA medical. I’m worried. I don’t think this mood is going to be helpful. I can’t really think and don’t know how to describe my worst days. I don’t think I seem depressed, which isn’t going to help. I guess I’m there for bipolar disorder, not depression, but it is the depression that stops me working. I don’t even know if I want to have “limited capability for work”. The way I’m thinking at the moment I want to go to work.

Argh!

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 23rd September 2009 at 9:25 pm

A long week…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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