Into the system…

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

Posts Tagged ‘J

Social Work & Work Social…

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My social worker / care co-ordinator came to see me for the very last time on Wednesday. I wasn’t expecting to see her again at all, but she had some paperwork to give me. It was nice to get the call on Tuesday to say she was going to be popping over. I am sad to see her go. She was far better than my previous worker, J and she did restore my faith a little that there was a point in the CMHT. I am not quite sure how it is going to work without a social worker, but my psych is going to act as care co-ordinator, so it should be okay.

On Thursday I braved the work social. I wasn’t sure about going and got quite nervous about this. It was suggested I went along as a way of getting back in touch with work in an informal way. Sort of dipping my toe in. I was worried what I would say to people. I was worried what people would think and I was quite concerned about the fact I’m still on sick leave, yet I’m well enough to go out and get drunk. Would anyone understand that?

When I arrived, virtually no one was there, so I could get talking to a couple of people and break myself in gently. The person who was assigned as a sort-of mentor was there too, so she could kinda look after me. There wasn’t a big turnout at all really, so that helped as I guess I wasn’t going to burn too many bridges if I made a pigs ear of things. I didn’t really know what to say, but I ended up just being honest about being on sick leave. When we were talking about projects, when we joined and who else we knew, it would have been pretty hard to lie. I didn’t have a project and hadn’t done for almost 2 years – in which time my old project has become obsolete. I joined 3 years ago, in which time I should have been promoted. All the people I knew are now consultants or above or have left the company, so people would wonder why I didn’t know anyone else. I didn’t specify why I’d been off though. I thought about it, but it was easier to just say I’d been off for two years and that I’d spent some of the time in hospital.

In the end I coped, but I felt a little weird about it all. I kinda felt like I didn’t fit in any more. In some ways it was fine. I am still a young graduate, with the skills and knowledge to do the job and the aspirations to do well, get promoted etc. I am no different to the rest of them in that respect. I think I can still do the job, but I am not so sure about the company culture now. I used to love it, but the work hard, play hard thing may be a challenge, because I can’t really do either. To do so, would be risking further illness. Socials are built around drinking and late nights, neither of which are a great idea – alcohol is a depressant and I need routine and sleep. Success is built around how many hours you put in, never saying no, high standards and perfectionism – I guess the same is true for many jobs, but there is a huge amount of competition and one-up-man-ship. There is a constant need to prove yourself to be better than the next person. I can’t push myself to breaking point again. I have to hold back, as hard as I am going to find that. With work encouraging me to actively not hold back, that may be difficult to control. I think occupational health and HR will have a close eye on me and will do what they can to protect me from that, but I am not sure I want to be in that position. I don’t want to be left behind. It feels hard enough as it is.

At one point, one of the girls mentioned someone she had met in the company who had been an Analyst for 5 years and she was basically insulting this guy for the amount of time he had been at level. When she said this, everyone except me laughed. She suggested that he had some form of learning difficulties, which meant he didn’t get given enough responsibility to be promoted. Although this may be true, it was meant to be an insult, suggesting he was a massive failure and terribly flawed. Are people going to be saying the same things behind my back? At the end of the summer I will be entering my fourth year as an analyst. Most people are promoted in 2-3 years and many have been promoted again within 5 years total, so I’m a long way behind already. It is highly unlikely I will get promoted in the next year or so as I will not not be working full hours or full responsibilities for a long time. So I am going to become this guy – an analyst for 5 years or more and ridiculed because of it. I am scared of this.

A lot of the time I wonder if it would be easier to start again completely. A new job and a new life. My old life has left me behind and things have changed so much they will never be the same again. I am scared of going back and trying to fit in. I don’t quite know if I will fit any more. I am scared of explaining what has happened in the past two years. I want to erase the past two years, so I can just start again where I left off. I want to catch up with everyone else and I know that is impossible.

There are advantages to staying put though. My company have looked after me and I feel I owe them some loyalty for that. They are going to be flexible with my return to work and will continue to look out for me. I don’t have to learn a new job and at least I already know what to do. The company’s expectations of me have been lowered, so there is no pressure to live up to anything. I don’t need to perform at my best. I can go at 90% and hopefully that will be enough for now.

Starting again obviously has its pitfalls as well. I couldn’t start a new job. I would work too hard trying to keep my head above water, trying to be perfect, trying to impress. I would have to meet new people, with all this history and baggage behind me to try and explain or ignore. I’d have to learn how to do a new job too – new skills, tasks, routines. I am not sure I am up to learning much at the moment. My thinking still isn’t as sharp as it used to be. My memory is crap, my concentration isn’t brilliant. I would end up burning out in no time and I’d be back where I was before. More time on sick leave and another attempt to return to work. No one in their right mind would employ me now anyway, so it is not an option anyway, but I just wish that going back would be easier.

I am starting to realise that although my mood has picked up now and I feel relatively stable, there is still a very long way to go before I can say I am recovered. The future is scary. I have a lot of things ahead that will try and trip me up and I’m a little scared about embarking on this part of the journey. I don’t want to slide back down the hill, but the baggage I’ve got to carry along the way is going to make it pretty tough going.

I feel like I’m kinda rooted to the spot for now, looking up at this big hill with a feeling of trepidation. I’m also being held back by occupational health and my doctors, so I can’t even just take a big breath and have a run at it. All I can do is keep plodding though and hope that one day I’ll be able to get there.

In other news – I’m off to Glastonbury on Tuesday night, so I probably won’t blog again, even though I have two other posts in draft. They can wait though. See you all in a week or so.

p.s. I’ve updated the My Story page again. Can’t believe it didn’t even cover my admission back in January. A lot has happened in 6 months.

On my own…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmm. We shall see. We shall see.

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

Day 5…

with 5 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 13th January 2010 at 9:59 am

This Week…

with 4 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by intothesystem

Saturday, 19th December 2009 at 9:26 pm

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.

Waste of Time…

with 15 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by intothesystem

Tuesday, 24th November 2009 at 6:31 pm

*Sigh*…

with 4 comments

I don’t really know what to say. I have posts I want to write about specific topics, but I don’t know where to start. Head is a bit fried really and I’m just so unbelievably exhausted.

My social worker came yesterday. I had forgotten she was coming and had a bit of a panic when my phone alarm went off. To put it bluntly, she really is full of shit. She spouted all this stuff about positive thoughts and recreating brain pathways and activating synapses, when she clearly had no idea what she was talking about. She was basically waving the CBT stick at me, but tried to dress it all up in technical language and scientific explanations. I am fed up of her suggesting that all my problems will be fixed if I just apply some CBT, think positively and buck my ideas up. I have done a lot of CBT in the past, most of which is common sense. I’ve been applying CBT methods myself most of my life, long before I even knew what CBT was. How do you think I managed to cope with the depression of my childhood, teens and university years? Things have got worse and these methods just aren’t enough any more. CBT doesn’t work for everyone. There is limited evidence to suggest that CBT works with Bipolar Disorder and severe depression (and apparently that’s what it is) anyway, but still they persist. Maybe if I just try that little bit harder it will? Maybe it’s my fault it doesn’t?

Yesterday, I also managed to cut my wrist. This was an accident involving some wire netting and our fish tank. It’s a clean cut, about two inches long, right across the top of my wrist. The blood poured and I felt this massive urge to make more. I’ve not self harmed at all for a couple of months,  but it was a clear trigger. I’ve never really cut. A couple of times perhaps, but it’s not my chosen method of self harm.

When I was last self harming I don’t think I wrote about it, not wanting to alert my partner to the fact. There was a hammer lying around the house, not put back in the garage after some DIY. I was routinely hitting myself with it, all over my body. Sometimes it would bruise, but these could easily be blamed on the dog. She’s bruised me herself enough times. Other times it hurt like hell, yet didn’t leave a mark.

I can’t remember why I started again. I just felt the need one day in the summer, saw the hammer and that was it. Actually I don’t know if the hammer or the need came first. Maybe I was triggered by it then.

This seemed to help for a while. It released some frustration. Things carried on for a couple of months, but then it stopped as quickly as it started. Again I don’t know why. Soon after, we tidied the garage and the hammer went back.

Now I am struggling with the urge again. I want to hurt myself. I don’t know why. I don’t even think it would help. I just want to do it. I have resisted so far and I will keep resisting but the thought is niggling away. I wonder if I will ever get away from the temptation to hurt. I seem to stop and start without rhyme nor reason.

Written by intothesystem

Tuesday, 17th November 2009 at 1:19 pm