Into the system…

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Posts Tagged ‘opening up

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.

September/October: Meet the Shrink…

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Late September: Referral to Psychiatrist

I returned to Dr N shortly after my trip to A&E. I was embarrassed about my previous visit to him and quite apprehensive, but it was okay. He was lovely as ever and showed his concern. He apologised for sending me to A&E, but pointed out he had to. He was concerned that I could have taken something else and not be telling him, so needed to get things checked out. I explained what had happened in A&E and following, with the crisis team. He was pretty shocked and disappointed that they hadn’t offered me more support or a proper assessment.

I questioned him on the borderline thing and he kinda avoided the question, horrified that the A&E department had been stupid enough to show me the letter, but did suggest that he wasn’t attempting to make a psychiatric diagnosis, more trying to assure I got the right attention in A&E. I wasn’t really happy with his response, but nevermind. He’s since redeemed himself.

Anyway, I asked him what other options there were and reminded him of my health insurance. In the end we agreed that a referral to a private psychiatrist was probably the best option and he arranged to do this.

When I saw him again, he explained he was referring me to Dr G and had written the letter. When I got to see the referral letter I was a little horrified. It was hard to see everything in black and white, honest and accurate as it was.

The referral process was quick and I managed to get a cancellation. An appointment was booked for October 2nd.

October 2nd: See Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr G.

I was absolutely terrified before my appointment. So terrified, I managed to miss the turning on my drive there and took a while to realise I was going in the wrong direction. I was not really in the right frame of mind to be driving. I got there safely though and was pointed in the direction of a waiting area. She was running quite late, although no one thought to tell me, so I sat there nervously looking at the clock, worrying I’d been forgotten or was in the wrong place. Eventually she came down to find me and led me up to her consulting room.

I was relieved to see there wasn’t a couch. I was terrified I’d have to sit on the cliché psychiatrist’s couch. No one prepares you for what it is going to be like, so I was relying on Hollywood’s interpretation of the psychiatrist for clues. I sat in a small, blue armchair and she began. She explained that the session would take around an hour and that she wanted to go over some of the things discussed in the referral letter and gather an overall history. Then she left it to me to talk.

I am not good at talking. I find it very difficult to open up, but I knew I had to if I wanted to make the most of her expertise. So I went through things. I probably forgot stuff. I was very nervous and didn’t know what to say, but we got there. Afterwards, she wanted to lay out the options for how to proceed. We discussed medication and Quetiapine (Seroquel) was brought up as a possibility. Then she dropped the bombshell. She thought I should come in as an inpatient. I was completely shocked by this and did not know how to react. I had not expected it. She did say if staying as an inpatient wasn’t an option, day care would be the second best thing, but she really wanted me to stay. I couldn’t really think straight after this. I was worried about what my other half would think and terrified at the prospect of being admitted.

At the end of the appointment, she showed me down to the ward and the woman in admissions showed me around. I think they wanted me to see that it was more like a Travelodge than a hospital and were trying to put me at ease. There were no beds available so they explained I would be put on a waiting list and it was up to me if I accepted and came in.

A million thoughts were racing through my head after this. I was worried about what my partner would think. I was anxious about the argument that was likely to follow when I told him. I was worried it was all an overreaction. I worried that maybe I’d been exaggerating things to make them seem worse than they were, yet at the same time I was glad to be taken seriously for the first time. I was cynical and thought that she probably just wanted to make the most money she could from me. Mostly I was just plain scared. I didn’t know what to expect and also knew that if I was to be admitted I would need to tell my parents.

An argument did follow and it took a while for my partner to come around to the idea. He didn’t want me to go in at all. I’m not sure he had realistic visions of what it might be like and seemed to worry it would make me worse. I also suspect he didn’t want me to go because he’d miss me and he was probably worried about not having me around to look after the house too! He did say that he wouldn’t want to visit me there and considered going away for a few days, but in the end he didn’t.

I also went and saw Dr N to get his advice. He agreed that I should be admitted and was glad that I was finally getting some support. He told me he’d have wanted me admitted to the local NHS unit if he thought it would do me any good, but said that it was so terrible it would probably do more harm. I think that’s a sad reflection on NHS mental health services. He also told me he’d been a ward doctor at a Priory hospital for a while, so knew what it was like and thought it would be beneficial. We talked about the benefits of staying over day care, such as not having to drive to and from the hospital after a challenging day of therapy. He really helped me to make up my mind and I made the decision to be admitted.