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Stream of Conciousness…

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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.

Days pass by…

with 12 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm not okay…

with 15 comments

I’m really not. Everyone seems to expect me to be fixed now that I’m out of The Priory, but I’m not. I’m less okay now than I was when I was there. Now I have to cope with life on the outside, on top of all the darkness and mess that was there already. I hate it.

I haven’t written much lately, mainly because I’m not well enough to write. My family read this blog and I don’t want them to know the grizzly truth of how I really feel. I know now that by writing this, they will of course know I have been hiding things again, but I feel that it is almost bursting out of me. I just want to scream. “I’m not okay, I’m not okay, I’M NOT OKAAY!!”

I hate how trapped I feel by everyone else’s need to know that I am okay. Everyone else wanting me to be fine so that they can be okay. They don’t realise that it only makes me feel less okay. I hate how I seem to have no choice in the matter. I have to be kept safe and pretend to be okay even though it’s the last thing that I want. It just makes me more frustrated with life and two fingers to that.

I don’t know what else I can say. I don’t really want to go into the grizzlier truth. I will only be forced to talk about it and that’s the last thing I want right now. None of this is a topic for discussion. At least, not with my family. It’s all too close to home.

EDIT: Maybe I do want to write a little more. I just need to get some of this out. One of the things I am battling with is where to draw the line with honesty and openness. I know that I’m meant to be more honest with my family and doctors, but it’s hard, especially with my family. It’s made harder because the last thing they want to hear is that I want to kill myself and I don’t want them to stop me. It’s made harder because I am meant to be rebuilding the trust between me and my partner so that I can have a bit more freedom. At the moment, I am barely allowed at home alone, meds are locked away, my car keys are taken off me. The last thing he is going to do when he hears that I’m suicidal is give me more freedom. I can’t stand that. I feel suffocated. I feel like he is my keeper, not my lover.

I am trapped between how I feel and how people want me to feel. I am trapped between keeping people happy or being honest and neither is a sensible option. It all leaves me wanting to scream.

Written by intothesystem

Friday, 15th May 2009 at 11:50 am