Into the system…

blogging, work, mental health, therapy, disability, benefits and more…

Posts Tagged ‘doctors

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?

Feeling Vague…

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I’ve not really been here over the past couple days. I feel very vague and am completely utterly exhausted. I don’t really know what to say. There are things floating around in my head but it’s so foggy and useless at the moment I don’t think I can begin to form sentences and write a proper blog entry. Another day perhaps.

I just feel overwhelmed by everything at the moment. I don’t know why. This week is scaring me. Too many meetings, med changes, doctors to see, phone calls to make, things to do, plans to write… It’s going to be a nightmare. All this preparation for discharge is too much for me.

I can’t comprehend leaving The Priory at the moment. It’s scary. I’ve been here almost 9 weeks now and I don’t know how I can cope with anything else. Normal life exhausts me. I just can’t handle it. I’m so institutionalised and I am safe in my little bubble. The outside world is a whole different ball game and I’m not sure I can do it right now. I can barely do this safe dependant life, let alone my life in the real world. Meep.

Written by intothesystem

Sunday, 19th April 2009 at 8:51 pm

A Second Opinion…

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I went into my ward round this morning with some notes that I’d prepared in advance. I am fed up of going in to see my consultant and not knowing what to say to her. I am fed up of going in to see my consultant and forgetting everything that I want to share with her. I am fed up of the blankness that descends the second I walk into a room with her. So I was prepared. I have been trying to write the notes for a few days and found it quite difficult, but I did get some of it pulled together and managed to get them printed off when I was home yesterday. I handed her the notes as I went in and she read them quickly. I hate that moment. I want the world to swallow me up so I don’t have to sit there as she reads the inner workings of my useless and faulty mind. We get there in the end though and she finishes reading my notes and then begins to answer some of my questions in her usual evasive manner.

She wants me to see one of the other consultants here for a second opinion. I get the impression she is a little flummoxed by me and does not know where to go now. She wants me to see Dr P, who is a specialist in mood disorders, especially bipolar disorder. She warned me he is not in any way shape or form, touchy feely and I’ve heard from others that he is very medication focussed, so will probably listen to me talk for a little while and then dole out meds, but it might be interesting to see what he has to say. I am a little scared though. I hate seeing doctors for the first time.

Aside from the second opinion, she talked about working on my care plan with her on Thursday. The idea is we will work out a plan for when I am out of hospital. She has already contacted my NHS trust with the hope they can provide me some support when I am out of The Priory, but I do not really trust them to be any help. Maybe with a respected psychiatrist or two on my side rather than just a single GP, I might have a bit more luck. We will see I guess.

Finally, she wants to refer me for some long-term psychodynamic therapy. Probably in group format, but she needs to find something suitable to refer me to. I’m a little scared at the prospect and worry that I will dread it in the same way that Alison does, but I think group therapy would be better than one to ones. I find individual therapy a terrifying prospect. I guess we will see what happens.

So.. Despite the fact I was waiting for hours this morning, it was a useful ward round. I just hope Thursday is helpful. We will see I guess…

Written by intothesystem

Tuesday, 14th April 2009 at 4:54 pm

Going Backwards…

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So I’m back to where I was 7 weeks ago. I’ve just returned to my GP and have been signed off again. The appointment didn’t go as I’d hoped. The second I walked in the door, I was reminded of how frustrated she makes me. I had written a lot of stuff down, but failed to share it with her. I just couldn’t bring myself to show her and the paper remained screwed up in my handbag, unread. I go in there and feel flustered and rushed and unable to explain things. I lose all semblance of coherence and talk utter rubbish. She makes me feel patronised and pathetic.

I did manage to talk a little about my agitated mood. She suggested the agitation could be a side effect of the medication, but wanted to persevere with them, telling me they can take a month or so to settle down. I am unconvinced. I feel the same way that I did a couple of months back, long before I was medicated. I am not sure I convinced her how frustrated this makes me feel. I am not sure she realises the extent of this mood. I know I failed to mention the s-word again.

We talked about work and HR’s worries. I suggested part-time work and she seemed reluctant. She seems to have this theory that if you’re fit to work, then you work, if you’re not fit, you don’t. She doesn’t seem to like the idea of a phased return or working a bit. I tried to explain that I think it would help. Doing nothing drives me mad, but she just told me I wasn’t up to it. I’m not sure I’ll listen though – need to talk to HR and see what they say instead.

In the end, I was shuttled off with my prescription for the next month’s worth of pills, a sick note for the next 2 weeks and an instruction to see her again. I tried to book the next appointment, but she’s on holiday. I’m glad. I think the receptionist was taken aback by my keenness to see someone else instead! A new doctor has started at the practice so I will see him in 2 weeks time. I just hope I can be more honest with him than I can with her. I just hope I can get through the next 2 weeks to actually see him. I’m not 100% sure I can. I know I have to take things a bit at a time.

One thing I’d been worried about, was the fact I still haven’t been completely honest with my partner over the past few days, or even weeks. Although he knows I’ve been off and knows I’m still not better, I know that I’ve maintained the front I have always had. I know that I’ve hidden the worst from him and made out that everything was okay, even if it wasn’t. He doesn’t know that I have a secret stash of pills, there for if I need them, let alone how close I find myself getting to needing them.

After the doctors I talked to him briefly. I let him know I’d been signed off again and I think he was surprised. I tried to explain things weren’t as better as I’d made out, telling him I’ve been struggling to concentrate with work and feeling agitated again. He doesn’t think a lack of concentration is cause for concern, pointing out that everyone has trouble concentrating at work and he joked that he’d like to be signed off for it! I don’t think he understood what I meant, although I did say that things are like how they were before I was signed off and I think he might get it now. I’m not convinced though. At least I can try and shake off the guilt a little. I’ve tried.

I don’t know what my next steps are. For now, I’ve told my manager and I’m waiting on HR. What is next though, I really don’t know.

Back to the GP…

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My mood seems to have calmed down a little from it’s hyper, agitated position yesterday, at least for the time being. Okay – I thought it had, but half an hour since I began this entry (I got distracted!!) my mood is back to where it was yesterday and seems to be getting increasingly frustrating.

I hate this agitated state I’m in. It’s so much worse than the low, dull depression that has been my predominant mood over the past few weeks. My concentration is next-to-none and I’m so wound up. I can’t stay still and my mind is on overdrive. I’m really finding it difficult to be coherent. The few sentences I’ve strung together have taken me ages. I have to read them over and over again to check they do actually make sense.

It’s hard to explain how it feels right now. It’s something I’ve experienced before, but you forget what it’s like until you find yourself there again. The self-awareness that you are not yourself, but the inability to do anything about it, the inability to slow down your thoughts and actions. My concentration is shot to pieces. I can’t think about things properly. I have tried to settle down and work, but I can’t even distract myself with it – it just seems to fuel my mood. I find myself jumping between my tasks, but doing none of them efficiently. I find myself reading things a million miles an hour but making no sense of them. I know I’m incapable of completing anything useful at this point. I’m trying to slow down, but struggling to put a hold of myself.

I know that part of this is returning anxiety. I am seeing my doctor again today. I called up for an appointment yesterday, but had to resort to calling at 8am this morning for a book-on-day. I’m seeing her at 3.30pm and I’m wound up about it. I am scared of telling her the truth. Scared of telling her about this agitated mood. Scared of telling her about the suicidal thoughts that were dominating my mind over the past week. Scared of the knowledge that suicide is still floating around my mind, but now I have the agitated state that gives me the energy to act on those thoughts. I’m battling them and promising myself I won’t act, at least not in the immediate sense, but I’m scared of what might be done “for my safety” if I admit these thoughts. That is a thought that runs around and around in my head and I can’t seem to shake out of it.

I am full of self-loathing and fear. I am embarrassed by my mood. I worry about how I come across. I tried to explain things to A. A is the girl that has joined the comms team whilst I’ve been off. She is lovely, but I am jealous. It is weird being in the office, working with someone who is doing your old job. It makes me feel so self-worthless, as she is clearly capable of doing everything without me. I was getting frustrated that I couldn’t just walk back in and go back to what I was doing before. I know I couldn’t handle it on my own anymore. I feel like I’m on hand just to answer questions and do the boring bits. I want to do the exciting things, the interesting things, the big projects, but I know I can’t and I hate it. I wonder if I should have found a new role so I didn’t feel like this. I can’t think straight though and thoughts about work and whether I should be there roll around in my head. I’m confused and tired by it all.

I am worried that I am back to where I was before. It feels like deja vu. I had a call with HR yesterday afternoon, and it pretty much followed a similar pattern to one I had months back. They want me to go back to the occupational health for another assessment. They are unsure if I’m fit for work. That scares me. They want to support me and find a way to make things work and they want me to go back to my GP. My HR rep is in trouble because she didn’t call me before she went on holiday. Her boss called yesterday. She’s worried that I’ve returned to work on a full-time basis rather than using a phased return. I told her I only did that as I didn’t know what else to do and no one had given me any advice or support. She said I should have a think about what might work and I should see my doctor for advice. She told me not to do long hours, but I find myself unable to rein them in.

I’m still taking the pills. I have no idea if they’re working or not. I have no idea if they’re having an effect. Before I didn’t know if it was illness, circumstance or personality that made the cocktail that is my mood, actions and feelings. Now I don’t know if it is illness, circumstance, personality or medication. I worry if it is the pills that have flipped me into this state. I worry that they’re just not working on me in the way they should. Over two weeks in and the black thoughts are as strong as ever, but are mixed now with this agitated, hyper, frustrated ball of energy, that is my new mood. It’s even worse than before.

This entry as disjointed as my head. I’ve tried to pull it together and have wrote and rewrote it a million times, but I just can’t get my thoughts down and put them in order. My mind is like spaghetti junction, but without the road signs to guide you. Or maybe a jigsaw with no picture. Just lots of little pieces all spread across the floor, that don’t fit together or make any coherent whole.

I go to my doctor in 4 hours. I’m scared and don’t know what to say.

Continued existence…

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I want to write, but I just don’t know how to put things into words at the moment. I am unsure of how I feel, of where I stand and of my future.

I should be working, but I guess I can award myself a lunch break. It’s not something I am used to doing though. I have always worked long hours, without breaks. I am still a workaholic. Nothing changes.

Working from home today. It feels easier. Less pressure and the option to be myself; just stare at the wall if I need to. I have got more done than yesterday, but I’m still struggling. It is a pointless, continual existence. I can carry on, but I don’t know why I am.

I feel isolated. Both my HR contacts are on holiday and there is no one to go to. I want to discuss flexible working and other options, but I don’t know who to ask. I know I should be shouting up. I know I should be telling people how I feel and asking for help, but then there is no one here to listen. My line manager is busy and has enough on her plate. She has been supportive, but I don’t want to be a burden. I’m trying to let her get on with things. Trying to support myself.

I know I should go to my GP, but I don’t trust her and can’t open up with her. I wish there was another way. Someone else to go to, but I feel so cut off. I’ve still not heard from the mental health team. I don’t know who else to ask.

Things are back to how they were when no one knew. I’ve stopped talking to people. Stopped asking for help again. Started pretending things are okay. It’s easier to just put on my happy face again and pretend everything is sorted, even though it clearly isn’t.

I can’t admit how bad I feel and how hard this is. There’s this piece of me that wants to fall apart. This self-destructive urge that wants me to go back to work and fail spectacularly, because then I can say “I told you so”. Then I could show just how hard this all is, without having to admit it. I could show that things are far worse than I make out they are. I have suggested I’m coping to those that ask, but I’m not. I am still on the edge. I’m still close to breaking down completely, holding it together for no reason that I can see.

There frustrating thing is the lack of light at the end of the tunnel. I still see no future and no point. It’s something that niggles away at me constantly. I try to pretend I’m okay and things are improving, but I know there is no point if I don’t see a future. I can carry on like this. I can keep going, keep working, keep pretending, for days, weeks or years. I could do it, but I see no point in it. Is there any point for existing for existence’s sake? Is there any point in continuing to work, continuing to live, if it is always going to be this way? It makes any kind of effort or recovery seem pointless. Impossible, even. I don’t know why I’m still here. I wish it was easier not to be.

Written by intothesystem

Friday, 1st August 2008 at 1:33 pm

into the present…

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Moving away from the topic of work for a minute and thinking about how I am right this moment is not all that easy. Many of the thoughts about when I might return to work and if I’m actually any better are still on my mind, but there are other things too, alongside a fairly high presence of suicidal thoughts. I guess my slight improvement was fairly short-lived, although I’m not quite in the same place that I was on Friday morning.

I think I’m going to take a break from my laptop for a few hours and see if that brings about any improvement. Finding the energy and motivation to do anything is not easy though. I guess I still need to pay my daily trip the pool, but the thought is tiring in itself. My partner has also set me a challenge – one that I’d usually relish (it involves web design, proper WordPress and other joys like that), but right now it’s not really something I fancy (oh, it’s that age old thing of not wanting to do the things you love again!).

I have the doctors tomorrow. I’m going to ask for the meds. I think that in itself tells a story. I’m scared though. What if they don’t work? I read this somewhere the other day, as justification for not wanting to take meds and I agree. It was comforting to have this last-ditch option available to me, so I’m scared that I’m now having to use it. Where would I be if they don’t work and what if I have to rely on meds forever? I’m scared at the prospect, but I suppose I need to do something. I guess we shall see what happens.

I do just wish this would all go away. I just wish *I* could go away, but maybe that isn’t the answer either? *sigh*

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 16th July 2008 at 2:09 pm