Into the system…

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Posts Tagged ‘mixed state

Stream of Conciousness…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A little speedy…

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What’s this? Another post!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Argh!

Written by intothesystem

Wednesday, 23rd September 2009 at 9:25 pm

More Shifts…

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It seems I may have entered the land of rapid cycling again. A week of agitated depression has shifted back into plain old depression. I’m still a little agitated and the thoughts are still muddled and racy, but that’s part of the course. My depression is always like that, however I’m no longer jiggling about like a cat on a hot tin roof and full of the energy to act upon the intrusive thoughts.

The shift began yesterday, even before the additional medication was brought into force. Taking the haloperidol pushed things that extra notch. I’m already missing the energy, if not the agitation. I did get some sleep last night, which makes a change but I am tired again. Before, I wasn’t sleeping but I wasn’t really tired either. I had all the energy in the world, albeit not with the concentration to follow my flying ideas though. Now I am left just wanting to hibernate and feeling like crap. I wish I knew where I stood.

I don’t know if to keep taking the haloperidol tonight. I feel I should just follow the psychiatrist’s instructions, but I don’t think she expected me to crash back down quite so quickly. I certainly didn’t expect it to happen so soon. On Thursday, it felt like the agitation was going to last forever and only get worse. Instead, two days later, things are different and I’m really not sure I need to be sedated to the same extent. The extra sleep is a nice change I guess, but I’m not hypomanic anymore, so should I really be taking medication used to control mania?

Considering all of these changes in mood have happened since starting a new mood stabiliser, I wonder just how stabilising this medication is. I know it is early days, but so far I’ve just gone from being constantly suicidally depressed to all over the place. I really don’t know what’s going on. One minute I’m full of beans, albeit with a nasty edge of suicidality and the next I’m lethargic, suicidally depressed but unable to motivate myself to do much of anything. I know I’m safer like this, but it isn’t a nice place to be.

I’ve also started logging my mood again. I had homework from Open CBT to log my activity and stress levels, so whilst doing that it made sense to start logging my mood and agitation too. I was told to a while back and did it at first then kept forgetting. I think it will be helpful to see where the shifts are, but it’s difficult to rate things. When you’re depressed, by nature I think you can be quite negative so I wonder if I am rating things lower than perhaps I should. I don’t know how to rate my mood when I’m always suicidal, even though sometimes my mood may be overall a little higher. How on earth do you show mixed states? Over the past week my presiding mood has been full of the energy of hypomania but with the suicidal side of depression. If I rate my mood negatively (ie as depression) how do I distinguish from the times when I don’t have masses of energy? I don’t know. I guess that’s where the agitation ratings come in. Anyway, I’ve tried to put something together but I’m not sure how useful it really is. I guess I will stick with it for a while, but I probably won’t keep it up like last time. Does anyone else rate their mood and how do you do it?

October 7th: Into the hospital…

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When I saw Dr G, I had been told I would probably have to wait about a week for a bed to come available, so I was shocked on Tuesday 7th when I received a phone call from admissions at about 9.30am. They asked me if I could come in for 11am as a bed had become available. I told them that there was no way I could get ready for then, so we agreed on 2pm. I then realised I had a mad rush to get ready.

I had to go shopping. I had no clean clothes and I needed underwear, nightclothes and slippers. My partner came home from work and we made a mad dash to pack and get the things I needed. We got ready and drove to the hospital ready for my admission. I was shown into one of the consulting rooms and asked to wait for the doctor. When they came, my other half left me to it and I went through the admissions process. The doctor on duty was terrifying. I didn’t like him and so rushed through the questions as fast as I could, leaving out loads of information. I hadn’t realised that the questions would be forming the basis of my initial notes and that they didn’t have access to the history I’d already given Dr G or I’d have made more of an attempt to be open and honest. I really didn’t like him. After the questions I was shown to my room and then came a short physical examination, which proceeded to make me feel very uncomfortable. He poked and prodded me and then handed over to the nurse. I was left for a while and then the nurse came back and asked me a few more questions, got me to sign a few forms and explained that he would become my “named nurse”. I was then left to settle in. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Slowly I unpacked my things and found my way around the room.

I was on 1 in 30 observations, so a nurse popped their head around the door every thirty minutes. Most of them introduced themselves the first time, but there was no way I’d remember any names. I was far too anxious and uncomfortable. Later someone asked me if I wanted to go to dinner or to order something to my room. I decided I had to brave the restaurant sooner rather than later, so agreed to go and get something. I was on escort, so that meant a nurse had to walk me between the different buildings, including the short walk to the restaurant at meal times. This was a status that was to remain the whole time I was an inpatient. Usually people were only on escort for a couple of days whilst they settle in, but they were anxious that I would do something stupid and insisted on keeping a regular eye on me. It was weird though being followed by a shadow all of the time.

On my first night I was met by a very manic patient, A, who decided she would introduce me to everyone. This was terrifying, but I was glad of it. She dragged me into the lounge and announced me to the fellow patients. I stayed for a while and talked to people, but I was pretty nervous and really wanted to run and hide in my room.

The next day was awful. I spent most of it alone in my room feeling terrible, occasionally interrupted for blood tests, a therapy assessment and other admissions rituals. The nurses would pop their heads around the door regularly and every time I was asked if I was okay, I would say yes, no matter how bad I felt. I began to look for ways to self harm and this became a focus. I didn’t know what else to do.

Thursday brought my first ward round, but I can remember very little of what happened. I can’t even remember if it was multi-disciplinary or one-on-one. I think it was MD, but Thursday ward rounds were usually 1:1 so I can’t be sure. It did bring about a change in medication. The Citalopram was to be phased out and Venlafaxine was to be phased in.

I also got to start therapy, which was a relief. It gave me something to fill my days with and stopped me staring at the wall, thinking about ways to hurt myself. This coincided with a fairly dramatic lift in my mood. I went from being suicidally depressed to hypomanic in a matter of hours and by Thursday evening I was running around the ward with A, both of us as high as a kite. I was agitated and couldn’t keep still, my mind racing at a million miles an hour. I retired to my room when I realised I was probably driving everyone else mad and then proceeded to draw all over my legs and entertain myself by listening to The Ting Tings on repeat. I don’t know what time I got to sleep. It was late. Friday was a continuation of this mood, but things started to darken on Friday evening. The weekend was spent on the ward and my sister visited, bringing cakes and presents.

The rest of my admission is all a bit of a blur. It was a great big melting pot of therapy, medication, mood swings, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, lots of self harm, which was getting increasingly out of hand, ward rounds, nurses, visitors, CBT, art, agitation, friendship, talking, TV and jigsaws.