Into the system…

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Posts Tagged ‘honesty

I feel crap…

with 23 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phased Return…

with 29 comments

So last week, I finally met up with the HR manager to discuss Dr Occy Health’s latest report and we have agreed that I can begin a very slow phased return.

I am starting with 2 hours a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I will be doing this for the next few weeks until I see Dr Occy Health again in December, when we will review again. All being well we will add a few more hours to each day and eventually extra days until I am back full-time, but I have been told to expect this process to take many months. I have no idea if I will be able to cope with going back at all, but it is time to try. It has to be a case of seeing how it goes and hoping that the transition is smooth.

It’s more than two weeks since I saw Dr Occy Health and our discussion about how I may go about a return to work. He seemed reluctant to try and push me into anything more than I was already doing (the occasional short visit), but I asked about formalising something more and he agreed I could begin with a slow phased return. He set some guidelines, but said I would need to arrange the details with HR, rather than him prescribe anything more definite.

The guidelines suggested that I am restricted to a maximum of 15% of normal hours at first. I didn’t ask him if he meant contractual hours or realistic ones, but I suspect he meant the former. It would mean quite a big difference – my contractual working week was 37.5 hours, but realistically I did anything upwards of 50 hours. I don’t think I will be allowed to do those sort of hours again though. Essentially I am restricted to a maximum of 5 and a half hours, which I guess seems reasonable, although of course I am only doing 4 at first. I don’t know how long this restriction is meant to last – the first week, first fortnight, first month? It looks like it will be at least the first month though and possibly even until the new year.

He suggested I start my working day during late morning, which suits me fine. I am usually at my most stable in the middle of the day and I am not used to early starts any more, so it makes sense for me to try and work when my mood is best. It also gives me the chance to take the dog out and get anything else that needs to be done beforehand.

Whereas over the summer my mood was consistently on the low end of normal and hardly ever changed, since the slow decline in my mood during late September and the subsequent increase in Reboxetine, my mood has been fluctuating a lot more. I am having good days and bad days, rather than lots of okayish ones and my mood is varying during the day too. Over the past month, my mood has been largely following the classic depressive cycle of feeling worst in the morning and mood improving throughout the day. I am waking up feeling pretty depressed each morning, but by lunchtime I am usually feeling okay. By evening, I am often feeling agitated or edgy, which is also not conducive to work either, so not leaving work until too late in the day is probably wise. Occasionally I’ve had a day that has gone the other way around or the morning depression has lingered long past lunchtime, some days are just crap all round, other days are absolutely fine. On the whole, I think the increase in Reboxetine has brought my average mood up again, but I am less comfortable with the instability that has come with it. I don’t know how I am going to feel from one day to the next and I find it harder to plan what I’m going to do, because one day I will be able to get loads done and the next I can’t face getting up. My mood isn’t really getting to the extremes, but it’s wobbly enough to be problematic.

Alongside the fluctuating mood, is also a fluctuating, but omnipresent level of anxiety. Most of the time I don’t even know what I’m anxious about, but I just feel the physical presence of anxiety lurking in my chest and a niggling worry about something in my brain. Sometimes that physical presence is a lot more than just a niggle and I feel physically sick, my heart keeps skipping a bit and I feel dizzy and shaky. I am getting a lot of nightmares too. Often I don’t know why this is happening. Sometimes the cause makes itself very clear and I can’t stop thinking about it no matter how much I try. There are plenty of worries about work, how it affects my benefits and finances, my tummy troubles, medication, diagnosis stuff and other stupid things like “what am I going to knit next?” floating around, but they shouldn’t be enough to prompt the level of panic I’ve been experiencing.

I don’t really know where this anxiety is all coming from, because until fairly recently I’ve not had much of a problem with it. I am usually pretty good at managing my worries and very rarely have I experienced the physical symptoms of them. Anxiety was always tagged alongside my list of diagnoses and I was often sent to “Anxiety Management” at The Priory, but I think that mainly came out of an assumption that all depression comes with anxiety and not because I actually experienced it. I can use those anxiety management skills and rationalise my worries and thoughts, but I don’t seem to be able to beat away the physical results. I have been taking Propranolol for months and that is supposedly meant to reduce agitation and anxiety, but I don’t know if it does much good. Reboxetine is known to increase anxiety, so it could just be that, but I am loathe to attribute everything to the damn drug.

Anyway, we shall see how I go with my working hours. I think if I stick to the middle of the day I will be okay. I don’t think there is anything stopping me going in a bit earlier or later if I want so if needs be I can do that, but I think it’s important I try and stick to a routine and get used to going to work at a specific time. I don’t know what will happen when I need to increase my hours or which end of the day it would be better to add to, but we will come to that when it happens. Having a routine and going in at regular times is one of the things I am going to need to adjust to. I’m not sure I’m up to doing stuff whenever I have to, rather than just when I feel up to it. When I’ve had chores I really need to do and am having a bad day it can make things a whole lot worse, so I hope I can manage.

Another guideline suggested that whatever I do is non-client facing. This is pretty important to me at the moment, because I can’t deal with the stress and responsibility that goes with working directly for the client. I am having to remember how to communicate in the world of business and not the world of mental health services or just with my friends. I think it is going to take some getting used to. I don’t know what to write in work-related emails or how to talk to people any more, so I’d rather keep my communication with others down to a minimum until I get used to it. At least if I make an idiot of myself with a colleague it’s not going to get me fired, but say or do something stupid with a client and I could be in trouble.

This is actually something that upset me during the HR meeting. The HR manager said she was worried about how I am going to cope interacting with others in the workplace. She remarked that observing me at the community meeting I went to the other week, she was worried that I was too honest and open with people and she is worried that my openness will shock people. She said she doesn’t want me to stand out too much or give people the wrong impression. I don’t think I said anything other than that I’d been off work for a couple of years due to illness, but I am currently in the process of returning to work. I didn’t elaborate on what kind of illness I’d experienced. I only said that because we were asked when we joined the company and what client we were working with at the start of the meeting. If I didn’t explain that I’d been off for a while, it would look like I’d been passed over for promotion a couple of times and that I wasn’t chargeable to a project, which I think would have been more embarrassing.

I’m not ashamed of the fact I’ve been ill and don’t see why I should hide it from people. I didn’t mention mental illness, but even if I did, it shouldn’t be a problem. I’m sure nobody would be telling me not to tell people that I’d been off work if it had been cancer or a heart attack keeping me away, so why do I have to hide it because I’ve been off for mental illness? I don’t intend on telling everyone the whys and wherefores, but questions are going to be asked or assumptions made unless I say something. You can’t just ignore two years of my career that have just disappeared. The gap in my company CV and in my client history is plain for everyone to see and the fact I’m still at my current level over 3 years after joining, also points to some kind of problem. I don’t see what is wrong about being honest about the fact I’ve been on long-term sick leave. I don’t know what else I’m meant to say. I have no intentions of lying or deliberately hiding the truth.

She said I should treat it like starting a new job and I should remember that I will be meeting new people all the time and they don’t know my history, so I should feel no reason to tell them. I understand this and agree, but the problem is that there will be plenty of times that my absence will be obvious. My company start date and level is on my people profile and my CV is on the system for anyone to see. The question of what client I am working on or have worked on in the past is going to come up. People I have worked with in the past will see me and ask where I’ve been. People will see me arriving and leaving the office at strange times, only working for a few hours and doing pointless tasks. I can’t hide things forever and I see no reason why I should, especially as I don’t have to worry about HR finding out, resulting in me losing my job. HR know the whole grizzly story, so there is no reason to hide. I will have to be honest with whoever I work with next, because I will be working reduced hours.

I was really quite upset by this comment and it took a lot to bite back the tears that were threatening. I knew I couldn’t break down at that point, because she would never think me well enough if that happened. I really would look like an overly emotional mental person if I burst into tears in her office and it would confirm all of her worst fears, so I did my best to maintain my composure. She thinks that I’m not able to act professionally and deal with people’s reactions and of course her comments do feed my own fears and anxiety. I am scared about what I will say, but I have thought about it a lot and see no option but to be honest. If they aren’t happy with that, then it is their problem, not mine. I know I am going to have to get used to this kind of thing, but it hit a nerve. I worry I will be faced with this dilemma for the rest of my life.

I’d asked Dr Occy Health if he thought I should or could go to the all-day community event and Christmas party in London. I’d like to go because I have missed out on the last couple of years and the meetings are usually interesting. I think it would be a good opportunity to find out what is happening in the company at the moment and the party should be fun too! I was a bit worried about the fact I will be travelling down to London on my own and it may be a bit much, but I think I will be okay. Dr Occy Health agreed that it would probably be good for me and said he would put a comment supporting my attendance on his report.

HR Manager was less keen on the idea. She was worried about me travelling to London on my own and is worried that I won’t cope with meeting everyone. She seemed worried about how it will look if I manage to attend a whole day event and a party, yet I’m only able to work four hours a week normally. People may judge me for it. They may, but it is a bit different spending a day listening to someone else talk than actually having to do proper work and very few of them will know I’m working reduced hours anyway. We have agreed to take a call on it next week, so we shall see what she says. I don’t know what is the right decision, but I’d like to go if I can.

I can’t remember what the other guidelines said. I think they probably mentioned local working and having a local manager, but I’m not sure. There was a note about me being protected by the DDA and the fact that these could be considered “reasonable adjustments”. Finally it was noted that I should be reviewed by Dr Occy Health in early December.

I hope I can manage. I have survived my visits so far, but I think it will get harder when I have to tackle some proper work. I have run out of initial tasks now, but HR Manager talked about the possibility of me doing some work for her. There’s a project she is considering that is related to something I did on a previous role, so I may be able to help with that, but I don’t know yet. I’m just waiting to see what she suggests.

At the moment it is a bit frustrating. I feel weird when I arrive at work so late and have to leave so early. I worry what everyone thinks of me. I generally feel okay whilst I am working, but I struggle either side of it. Strangely, one of the weirdest things is wearing smart clothes again. I am not used to it.

I wish I could fast forward to being back properly, but sadly that is not an option. I have been off work for nearly two and a half years though and I know it is going to take a lot of adjusting to go back. Dr Occy Health keeps reminding me of this and I think as far as he’s concerned, it’s a miracle that I’m trying to go back at all. This is somewhat disheartening, but I know the statistics and he must see enough people that never make it. I hope I can be one of the lucky few.

Anyway, I must stop writing now. I always finish blog posts like this, but I never get the chance to say everything that I am thinking at once. I have been writing this on and off for days anyway, so it’s time I posted.

Written by intothesystem

Tuesday, 16th November 2010 at 6:35 pm

Thoughts, Thoughts, Thoughts…

with 8 comments

So I’ve not been sleeping well the last couple of days. A nasty cold combined with racing and distressing thoughts is tiring me out. I was wide awake last night for hours and hours and no matter how much I tried I didn’t seem to be able to switch off. Eventually my cold must have defeated me and I got a couple of hours of broken sleep, only to wake up to the sound of our dog whimpering and a continuation of the thoughts.

My mind had been fairly still and quiet over the past couple of weeks. My mood was that of low rumbling depression, hidden under a façade of festive cheer. My thoughts have been dark, but calm and slow. It made a change to the agitated depression that had been the main feature of 2009.

It seems though with this cold, my thoughts have quickened. I feel as if I’m in a quiet turmoil, with ever-racing thoughts bubbling under the surface. I start on one thing and it gives me a hundred leads to follow, all in turn leading to more. The thoughts circle and spiral out of control. I can’t get a hold on them.

I store my thoughts up for the night-time, trying to maintain a semblance of normality during the day. Being ill with this cold though has allowed me to stay in bed and I can drop the pretence of normality a little.

I need to untangle everything and write it all down so I can try and make sense of it all, but it would take me hours, days even. I could probably write 10,000 words and still barely scratch the surface. I suspect my bloke may be justified in his complaints if I tried to blog all of that. I’d like the chance to blog some of it though.

I feel so alone with these thoughts though. I don’t know who I would share all this with. I can’t work it all out, let alone express it to others. Some of these thoughts are thoughts I can’t bear to share. Some of these thoughts I desperately want to share, but I am unsure if it is wise. Some of these thoughts are too confusing to know what to do with. I alternate between wanting to share them and thinking it is a very bad idea. Instead they all go round and round in my head and I’m too scared to let them out.

I did actually try and share a few things with Dr N on Thursday, but that has only amplified my confusion. By sharing my thoughts, I have made them real and that has only made them stronger. This just makes it harder for me to tackle the rest.

I don’t really know what to do.

This argument is still rumbling on and I don’t feel strong enough to resist right now. I need time to write, but I feel too guilty for it. The pressure is on for me to get off my laptop and “go and do something useful”, yet I can’t summon the energy for that either. I wish I could hibernate and wait for this to blow over.

Written by intothesystem

Saturday, 2nd January 2010 at 1:18 pm

Face the Music…

with 11 comments

I think it’s time I admitted something. I started to write about this a couple of weeks ago, but I didn’t feel up to facing the music. I didn’t post about it at the time because I didn’t want my bloke to know, but now this is over I guess I can admit it.

I stopped taking my meds.

I know it was stupid, but I did it anyway. I don’t know why I stopped. It started when I missed a couple of doses by accident sometime in November. I really didn’t notice any difference and started to wonder what would happen if I stopped taking my medication. It is something that has crossed my mind plenty of times, but I’d never really done anything to test it. I know my partner often questions the point of the medication and I often doubt it too. After all, I managed without it during my teens, even when I was unwell.

Anyway. I started forgetting to take my meds or messing with the dose. One day I’d miss the night-time dose. The next I’d skip the morning one or I’d try doubling something or whatever. I wasn’t taking any of it regularly and I wasn’t taking what I should have been.

This continued until I saw Dr N about a month ago. We were discussing increasing the Propanolol and he asked me something about my medication and it just slipped out that I’d been skipping doses. I don’t quite know how I ended up telling him really. I had made a concious effort to keep this a secret, but somehow it just slipped out. He gave me a mini-lecture and seemed concerned, but it was okay. He seemed to understand why I was doing it. He asked me if I’d tell Dr D and although I was very reluctant to do this, I did at our appointment last month. Dr D had little of value to say on the matter and just told me repeatedly to take my medication. This made me less keen on the idea! I don’t exactly have much faith in the man.

After I saw Dr N I did make an effort to start taking my medication again. I had been taking the Propanolol properly, hoping that it would help the headaches and generally I’d been taking the others too, but then the next thing I realised I’d stopped the Lamotrigine and Melatonin completely. I don’t even know when it happened. I just realised I hadn’t been taking any when I noticed I hadn’t used any of my new lot of medication. When I realised I had stopped I didn’t want to start again. I was worried about side effects and decided it was easier just to stay off them and I just didn’t care enough to bother.

Useless Social Worker, J asked me if I’d started taking my meds properly again and I outright lied to her. I seem to be making a habit of lying to her now. I feel bad about it, but I just don’t trust her. She asks me how I am and I tell her I’m fine. It just seems easier.

Then I returned to see Dr N a fortnight or so ago and he of course asked me about the meds. I couldn’t lie to him as much as I wanted to. He could see right through me anyway so I just admitted it. Again he was good about it. Concerned, but understanding. He even went as far as to say he’d probably think the same if he was taking regular medication and didn’t see much benefit to them. Unprofessional perhaps, but he knows me pretty well and I think his attitude is that any intelligent person would question such things.

He did point out though that I was less well than I had been a couple of months before and that I was heading the right way towards admission. He joked that he knew if I needed to be admitted again, it would take the men in white coats to do it. He is right of course. Voluntary admission to Hollins Park is just not happening. I’d consider somewhere else, but I’m not going back there if I can help it. I’ve actually been bad enough to consider that hospital may be the best place for me right now, but I’m not going to rush there in a hurry.

He asked me if I was throwing the pills away or stockpiling and I had to admit I’d been stockpiling. He was concerned that I was planning an overdose, which I guess was a logical assumption. I hadn’t been really though, knowing that Lamotrigine even in those doses is unlikely to cause much damage. Not to say that I hadn’t considered doing it anyway just in case.

He tried to persuade me to take the medication again. We agreed that I would need to titrate the dose back up, but we should do it quickly, unlike the usual 25mg increases used for Lamotrigine. So he didn’t give me another script for the Lamotrigine and sent me on my way with one for the propanolol – which I had still been taking intermittently. I was told to come back when I had used up most of my stock or if I needed to before.

So I reluctantly restarted the meds. My thoughts were confused on the matter. I didn’t want to because I didn’t see the point. In another way I wanted to because maybe restarting the meds so quickly would go horribly wrong and kill me anyway (there is meant to be an increased risk of The Rash). I also wondered if I continued to get worse whilst back on the medication then maybe people will not blame any deterioration on that and I will prove my theory right that the medication is crap. I guess the rational part of me also hoped that things would actually improve again.

I saw Dr N again this week. I told him I’d restarted the medication and he seemed pretty relieved. He said he had been quite doubtful if I would, which is fair enough. I doubted if I would. I think he was pretty worried about what might happen if I didn’t though and I suspect he questioned whether or not he should have been getting the crisis team involved, with a view to calling the men in white coats. I found it hard to talk to him this week though. I didn’t know what to say and was a little vague. I should have been more honest about how things are, but I fear those white coats. I was at the branch surgery too and I always feel uneasy there. I think it’s because it brings back memories of the silly overdose back in September 2008.

He asked if restarting the Lamotrigine was making me sleepy, which was possibly his way of telling me that I didn’t seem with it. I wasn’t really with it, but I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t think it had been. If anything it had increased the insomnia, but then again I may be more tired in the day due to sleep deprivation. I had little to report in the way of side effects, but I’m not sure I’d even notice any if they were there.

So how have I been without the medication? Did my experiment teach me anything? Yes, I have to admit I’ve not been well this last month, but is it due to a lack of medication? I know that everyone is going to blame my deterioration on the lack of meds, but I really don’t think it’s that simple. I think the fact I stopped taking the pills is probably symptomatic of the deterioration. When I stopped, things were already messy. I was very suicidal. I wasn’t thinking clearly. I was having weird dissociative episodes and felt out of control. I was getting worse anyway and because of that I didn’t care what happened to me. Stopping the medication seemed like a logical step.

I think about why I did it and I don’t really have any answers. My thoughts were racing through all sorts of things at the time. I guess maybe I just wanted to accelerate the self-destruction. I think I almost hoped that I’d go truly mad and finally have the impetus to try and off myself again. I’ve been holding on by a thread for so long I just wanted to snap it. I seem to spend so much time depressed lately, that I wondered if it is the medication causing it. In some ways the monotonous, not-quite-so-bad depression is worse than the actual pits of despair. It’s so dull and draining. I was truly fed up of it. I had been a little better, but I still wasn’t well and the knowledge of that was demoralising. If the best I can hope for is moderate-severe depression then I’m screwed. Life really isn’t worth it. I am perpetually suicidal and even the improvement I saw a couple of months ago was not enough to change that. I wanted out and this seemed a way to do it. I knew there were risks involved with stopping the meds and I wanted to take them. I felt awful anyway, so what was the point in the medication?

Part of me also wanted to see if I could induce some hypomania by stopping my medication. I’ve wondered a lot recently about what would happen if I was unmedicated. Would my little ventures upwards continue to escalate without the medication pulling me down? I want to experience the highs as well as the lows. What is the point in living with this awful mood disorder if I only get the horrible side of it. The depression and agitated mixed states, but none of the “nice” highs. I just wanted a change and hoped that by stopping my medication I’d be able to create that.

All the while I did have a small piece of rational mind that questioned what I was doing. I could feel I was getting more out of control, but this rational side was not strong enough to stop the rest of my mind. I think it was also overpowered by a little part of me that hoped this would be enough to make people realise I was struggling. Maybe it would help me to get more support. Perhaps it was really a pathetic cry for help?

Another theory is it was actually a way of stopping me from killing myself. By doing this I was trying to change things. I was trying to prove my medication wasn’t right. I was also trying to see if I could make things better without the medication. I needed a change. I couldn’t carry on the way things were. I was getting impatient again and the way things were going I’d have tried to kill myself out of frustration pretty soon anyway, just as I did when I was in a similar place at the start of the year. I’m annoyed that I didn’t spot the loop repeating itself, but maybe I did and this was my way of changing the course.

I also worry about what people think of me for this. I knew it was such a cliché to stop taking my medication and I hated being that cliché. I worry that people will think I don’t want to get well and that my illness is all my fault and that I’m just not trying hard enough. I worry about having non-compliance all over my notes.

Sadly my foray into non-compliance hasn’t really worked out as I had hoped. The lack of meds didn’t trigger any really nasty side effects. I didn’t get fits, like the patient information leaflet warns. I certainly didn’t get any highs. I just continued the way I was already going, getting more and more suicidal and losing motivation and energy all the time. I didn’t manage to kill myself, possibly because I am too depressed and can’t be arsed. I continued to pretend everything was fine and hid this from almost everyone.

I wonder what would have happened though if I Dr N hadn’t got this out of me so soon. If I’d stayed off the meds longer maybe what I’d secretly hoped might happen would have. I wish I had the chance to find out. I still don’t want to take the medication. I still see very little point. I noticed that I slept better without the Lamotrigine and with it my sleep has got worse again. I’ve felt a bit physically dodgy since restarting, which is a pain, but nothing overly nasty. I didn’t seem to get any withdrawals coming off the meds either. I don’t feel any better now than I was when I didn’t take them, so maybe things would have been the same with or without. It maybe feels like someone is trying to put the brakes on my snowballing descent though. I feel a little more in control, but then again, brakes don’t work in ice and I am not sure they are working right now.

Maybe a little longer and things will stabilise. Medication can take a while to kick in. Dr N suggested we increase the Lamotrigine after Christmas if things aren’t any better. I wonder if it’s worth trying something new instead. Yes, maybe this test has proved the medication does help a tiny bit. Yes, it is by far the best medication I’ve been on so far, but I am not sure it’s enough. If all the medication can manage is to keep my head above water, then what is the point? If things continue as they were then this will probably only happen all over again. That or I’d try and kill myself in frustration. It’s very true that you are at more risk of killing yourself when you are getting better. I proved that back in February.

So.. I’ve got that off my chest now. I am worried if there will be any backlash. I hope not.

Mind Spinning…

with 3 comments

I have so many potential blog posts spinning around my head. So much I want to get out of here. I keep seeing things I want to comment on and I just don’t seem to have the time or the means to articulate the things I want to.

I don’t really know where to start and I don’t really have time to start. I wish I did.

By the time I get around to writing what I want to, no doubt the moment will have passed. I wanted to comment on the Kerrie Wooltorton case. I wanted to comment on The Conservative party’s proposals to “Get Britain Working”. I don’t know when I will find the time.

There are personal things I wish to say too. I am unsure I can say them here. I feel torn between the need to share and the need to hide. I feel torn between honesty and not wanting to worry people.

There is one other debate I’m having at the moment with myself. The question of anonymity. I have written about this before, but it’s all about the balance of being honest and open about my illness and wanting to hide things and protect my family from the worst of it all.

If you know much about me you could probably find my blog. For example, a search for “Creative Remedies” puts me in the top 5 results on Google. Knowing just a few basic facts you would identify me from reading here. I guess this just makes me wonder if I should be done with it and stick my name on here.

Anyway the short window of time I had to write has come to an end. I’ll be back soon.

Written by intothesystem

Saturday, 10th October 2009 at 2:12 pm

Trichotillomania…

with 8 comments

This is interesting. I have pulled my hair for so long I can’t remember not doing it. It’s something I’ve always been ashamed of, but don’t seem able to stop. My partner can never understand why I do it even when he tells me not to. It is something that gets worse when I’m stressed or feeling low, but is such an ingrained habit it is there when I’m well too. I really do wonder if there is a magic pill that could stop me and if so, why haven’t I been given it yet?

Aside from that, today I saw Dr G with my bloke and therapist. It was strange having the four of us in Dr G’s little room. I felt quite intimidated and overwhelmed and it didn’t take me long to start crying from the stress of it all. We talked about how I need to be more open about things, something that has been repeatedly a topic for discussion, but something I find very difficult. I often think I don’t want to be open and honest about how I feel. I don’t want people to panic and I don’t want to be helped. If you’re feeling really suicidal, the last thing you want is everyone to know so they can stop you. I don’t see how I can break that barrier to openness.

Yesterday I finally met my CMHT worker, J. She’s a social worker, not a CPN, which I’m slightly disappointed about. I have been told they don’t distinguish between them in our trust, but I somehow think a CPN would be more use. They’d have more understanding of my illness and what it really entails. We chatted about my life and the past year as she wants to get to know me. I don’t know if what I said was helpful but the time raced by. I wanted to ask what is going to happen to me but she didn’t seem to know. She was surprised that I hadn’t yet had been sent an appointment with the consultant so is going to chase that up. I am not sure her coming to see me is going to be that helpful but we will see. I might be able to talk to her properly eventually. I found I was being economical with the truth when she asked me how I was feeling. I couldn’t help it. I don’t yet trust her. I see her again next week.

I am seeing Dr G again on Thursday as she didn’t have time to do a medication review today. She said she’d review my sleep again, which has gone haywire since coming off the Haloperidol. I’m a little more awake during the day but not sleeping much at night. Temazepam was suggested so we shall see what she comes up with. I’m sure the Lamotrigine will go up again too. She has to titrate it up so very slowly. It’s hard being patient waiting for the increases. I just want her to stick it up to a high dose and be done with it, but I know she can’t.

Generally I feel a little empty and numb. I am just carrying on because I have no choice, but it’s hard. I don’t want to.

Sexuality…

with 8 comments

I initially started this post last July when there was a discussion about the lack of gay mental health blogs from both Lexie and Aethelread but I never got around to completing my post and following them up myself.

More recently Kate got me musing on the subject of sexuality again and I thought it was time to resurrect the draft that I started so very long ago.

Like last time, it may take me a while to work out what I want to say and I don’t know if I’ll ever manage to complete it. It’s a topic that is still so very tangled in my head despite going through a whole battle of acceptance a few years ago.

In particular I remember from the initial discussion that, Aethelread said the following:

On the one hand, I think it can lead to us being so keen to stress that being gay has nothing to do with mental ill-health that we decide not to mention our sexual orientation when we blog about our MH problems.

For me, I think this hits the nail on the head. I’m not sure that it’s because of guilt as he suggests, but I think the reason I’ve not mentioned my sexuality before, is that I do genuinely believe it is unrelated to my mental health.

For those who have been reading my blog so far, you would be forgiven for the assumption that I’m straight. I’m in a long-term relationship with a man – a decidedly heterosexual arrangement. In fact, I’m engaged to that man. However, my sexuality isn’t that straight-forward (if you will forgive the unintentional pun!). I have always hesitated to attach this label to myself, because it’s not one I particularly like the sound of, but it is the one that fits. I’m bisexual.

In many ways I am lucky in that I can always let people have their assumptions. It is entirely my choice whether or not to disclose my sexuality and it is nice to have that choice, but then again if I was straight I wouldn’t need to make that choice, would I? My relationship with my partner makes it even easier for people to assume I’m straight, but I find that difficult at times. It often feels like I’m hiding part of my identity and not being honest about who I really am. It’s something I’ve struggled with because I don’t want to have to shout from the rooftops that I’m not straight, but then again I don’t want to hide matters either. I wish that bisexuality was commonly accepted and that people didn’t make assumptions that you are either gay or straight based upon your current partner.

As for my sexuality and its involvement in my illness, I do not really think there is much of a connection. I have battled with acceptance in the past and things have added to my confusion at times of crisis, but it’s not something that is directly responsible for my mental health problems. This is something that thankfully my therapists and Dr G at The Priory have agreed with me on.

It took a long time for me to even bring up my sexuality at The Priory because I was scared that it would be blamed for my issues. At the time, I was really scared that my bisexuality would be seen as another reason to slap on an unstable (borderline) personality disorder label – after all, uncertainty over sexuality is meant to be a trait. The thing I wanted to make clear was that I was no longer uncertain about my sexuality; I had accepted the fact that I like both men and women. I was scared that my sexuality would change the way people saw me. I was scared that it would become a problem because everyone else thought it was. I was scared about prejudice.

It got to the stage though that I felt it was becoming a problem because I was hiding a part of me. I kept thinking about it and it felt like I was living a lie. When you are going through therapy I guess it’s important that every part of you is on show. I felt that I needed to be honest and open up about things. I didn’t know how I could do it. I wrote to Dr G in the end. Thankfully my fears weren’t realised and she was very supportive.  My issues with my sexuality were boxed up carefully to be treated as a side problem, not the main affair, and everyone seemed to agree with me that we couldn’t use my sexuality as a scapegoat for my mental health issues.

As for what Kate wrote, I know how she feels. I have been through many of the same thoughts and issues over the years. The issue of acceptance is a difficult one and I think it’s something that I will always have some issues with. I also understand the fear of bullying, the fear of being different and the fear of scaring off your friends, especially female ones who may think you’re hitting onto them. Coming out is scary.

One of the things that made it so hard for me to accept that I liked women was the fact I used to be bullied and one of the things they used to say was “Lesley, the lesbo”. (oops, there goes my real name.. let’s just leave it hidden here and hope most people don’t notice!). An unoriginal put down considering my name, but one I used to hate. I began to associate being a lesbian with bullying, so it’s no wonder I was reluctant to admit I liked girls.

Another reason was my mother. I remember when there have been stories about lesbianism on TV she would always say how disgusting it was and would always expect me and my sister to say the same. She had no issues with gay men, but couldn’t accept lesbianism at all. This of course is difficult, because you don’t want to go against your family’s expectations. I don’t want my mother to be repulsed by me. This is why my mum will never know. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her and it’s easier for her to just assume I’m straight. If I wasn’t with my partner and was going out with a girl I guess things would have to be different, but I guess I’m lucky in that way.

Being bisexual I think there are added issues. Homosexuality is becoming more and more acceptable, but there are still prejudices towards bisexuality from both the straight and gay camps. Biphobia takes many forms, but generally there’s a belief that bisexuality doesn’t exist or there’s an assumption that bisexual people are promiscuous. I may not be fussy, but that’s because I see people for what they are and am not bothered about gender, not because I just want to shag anything that moves.

I often feel like I don’t fit in. I am not straight, but I am not gay either and that leaves me caught. I feel as if I don’t know where I belong. Although I am in a relationship with a man, that doesn’t mean I want to live an entirely heterosexual existence. Doing so would be denying the other half of me that is just as interested in women. It’s a difficult one and one I don’t think I’ll ever really overcome.

I think I’ve rambled enough about this for now. As I said before, I still struggle to untangle all my thoughts on the topic and as such my writing is confused. I don’t really know what I wanted to say, other than to come out here too.

Written by intothesystem

Tuesday, 16th June 2009 at 2:25 pm