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Posts Tagged ‘trichotillomania

Mad Men…

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Again it has been 10 days since I last wrote. I don’t know where the days have gone.

I saw Dr N last Thursday. Just a routine appointment to pick up my scripts, but it was good to talk. He asked the usual questions. Mood, suicidal thoughts, self harm etc. He seemed concerned. More so than in recent appointments.

He pointed out that he could see my scalp was in a bad state. As well as the trich, I also struggle with skin picking or Dermatillomania to give it the technical name. My scalp gets the worst of it. Every day, usually at night, I pick and scratch at my head until it bleeds. It’s covered in terrible wounds, some a few centimetres across. My hair hides the worst of it, but it’s got so bad that it can be seen at the moment. It’s always worst when I’m not sleeping well as I tend to lie awake scratching my head to distract myself from the insomnia.

I have done it for years, longer than the hair pulling even. I think it started when I had chicken pox as a child and I would itch my head. I was maybe 8 or 9? I can’t really remember.

I was shocked that Dr N noticed and mentioned it. I’d confessed it to him a long while ago, but he had never brought it up before. I tried to change the subject pretty quickly and felt uncomfortable that he had seen.

Both the skin picking and hair pulling make the hairdressers a nightmare. My hair is thin in places and there are bits where it is really short where I’ve damaged the scalp so badly it doesn’t grow properly. The scars and cuts are awful and would make most hairdressers flinch. I’ve been asked what has happened so many times and I don’t like making up lies, but I’m too ashamed to tell the truth. One hairdresser even insisted on putting on gloves when she saw the wounds, too afraid to touch them. I last had my hair cut when I was in The Priory, knowing that the hairdresser there would be understanding. I often go over 6 months between a hair cut and it’s been a year before. I try and avoid it as much as possible, even if that means my hair looks rubbish and gets far longer than I’d like. My hair really needs cutting, but I just can’t face it.

Other than the trip to the GP, very little has happened. I’ve spent lots of time watching back to back episodes of Mad Men. If you haven’t seen it, it’s an American TV series about advertising executives during the 1960s. Over here it has been shown on BBC Four, but that doesn’t mean it’s dull and serious! I loved it the first time round, but I watched a lot of it whilst I was in The Priory and ECT has erased most of it from my memory. Watching it again has been a little weird as it brings up memories of those times. I started watching it again because I saw that Series 3 has started in the US now. Will be good to have more to watch. It kills a few hours and takes me away from this world for a little while.

In other news, my bloke may be going back to work a little part time. He left his job to care for me since I came out of The Priory last May. His replacement has quit suddenly, so his old employer have asked if he can do a few hours until they can find someone else. He went in on Tuesday morning, but hasn’t been in again yet.

For me, this is quite exciting. I feel that I am getting a little independance back, being left alone for a few hours. I miss the time I got to myself when he was at work. It is hard being together 24/7.

It is a challenge though. I am still fighting the thoughts and the time alone makes them harder to ignore. It feels like tempting the devil. The monster tells me that “you can do it now, you know you want to”. Over the past few months I’ve had little opportunity to act on my suicidal thoughts. These few hours alone change that and I know there is a risk. My bloke worries about it and I don’t want him to, but I know his worries are justified. I wish I could give him a 100% guarantee that it won’t happen, but I don’t think I can. I am in control to a point and will fight as much as I can, but I can’t guarantee that I will win. The thoughts are intrusive and often impulsive and I know I could act on them before I even think about it. They can spiral out of control and it can be hard to stop yourself when you get to a point. I know I need to hit the panic button before things get that far. I’ve told him I will, but I can’t even guarantee that.

Despite the risk, I still want him to go. I felt bad that he left his job for me as it is. I want him to be able to work again. I can’t be watched 24/7 forever. I am going to have to take this step eventually and it might as well be now. I could be waiting the rest of my life if I waited for the thoughts to go away. I don’t want to let the thoughts win. If he stays at home with me I am doing that. I am letting the thoughts control my life.

Generally I’ve been pretty low over the past few weeks. I’ve been lower, but not much lower than this. I am carrying on, because I don’t know what else to do, but it’s a struggle. Most of the time I just feel so empty and numb. There are still a few better moments, but less than there were a month ago and the average score is down. There are still worse moments too. Fits of rage, agitiation, arguments. There’s this little bubbling pot and occasionally it boils over.

I am disappointed that improvement has stalled. It feels like I am failing. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough to get better. Maybe I am just stuck in depression. There had been seeds of hope, but I am not sure they will propagate. I don’t want to give up on the Lamotrigine as it has been far better than anything else I’ve tried, but it’s just not doing enough. It seems I am heading into a long period of mind-numbingly dull depression, with only the occasional painful period of agitiation thrown in to liven things up. I guess I am already there and I don’t see any way out yet. I don’t know what all this means. I guess I will have to talk to Dr G when she’s back from holiday and see what her thoughts are. I suspect she may eventually give in and resort to the Lithium. She’s threatened it often enough.

I don’t have all that much coming up to look forward to.

Like Seaneen, on Monday I have someone turning up to interview me for the Cardiff and Birmingham Universities’ Bipolar Disorder study. I am a little scared about going over everything and hope it won’t make my mood worse. I feel forewarned having read Seaneen’s post, so it may be a little easier, but it’s true that it isn’t fun for anyone reliving your worst moments. I do think it will be interesting though and I definitely want to support research where I can so hopefully it will be okay.

I see the chocolate teapot again on Friday 11th. She’s actually done some stuff at last. I finally got the referral through for the ALERT service (Out of hours telephone support). They haven’t called me to give me the number yet so I can’t use it, but at least she’s contacted them. I also got the dates through for the Creative Remedies groups. I start on 16th September. There’s a performing arts group and a visual arts group, both lasting 2 hours a week, so that will give me something to do.

I’ve also got a wedding to go to on the 12th, my NHS psych appointment on 22nd and an ESA medical on the 24th. I’m really dreading the latter. I am scared they are going to tell me I’m not ill, I’m just making it all up and I should go back to work. I’m scared they will think I’m a fraud. I did the questionnaire really quickly and sloppily as I just wanted it over and I’m worried now that I didn’t say enough. I have read so many horror stories lately that I am quite worried, but I just hope I can get through it. I am claiming under the youth rules as I haven’t paid enough NI and can’t claim income-related due to my bloke’s savings. Unfortunately they didn’t take the youth rules into account at first and rejected me, so I’m having to appeal. Usually you only get a medical after you have been claiming for 3 months and although it is over 3 months since I applied I haven’t been paid a penny yet due to the appeal. I just hope it gets sorted out soon. Benefits are a nightmare. I don’t see how anyone gets away with claiming when they are not entitled. It seems that most people who are entitled can’t even get them.

Anyway, enough for now. If I posted more often they wouldn’t be such mammoth posts. I shall try.

More Evidence…

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Some of you may remember my post on Trichotillomania which I made a couple of weeks ago. In it I referred to this BBC article which mentions some research into the use of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) for the treatment of Trich. Today I saw Dr G and towards the end of the appointment my bloke mentioned the article and I explained it to her. I couldn’t remember the name of the drug involved, so she asked me to check and let her know. She hadn’t heard the news story herself, but was interested to know more and was happy to check if it will interact with any of my other drugs before I can give it a go. Dr G is quite progressive and innovative with what she prescribes anyway. She won’t always wait for things to become proven and approved before she prescribes something. She also mentioned a new drug, for which I could spot a leaflet about on her desk, that is meant to be good for sleep, but it’s also an antidepressant and she’s scared of the effect this may have being bipolar and my past experience of antidepressants. She said research is currently being done, but this one she didn’t want to risk.

Anyway, whilst I was looking up the name of the drug concerned in this article, I did a little bit of research and stumbled over the fact it had also been connected to improving residual depression in bipolar. Someone has done a some research into this and the paper was published last September. This article sums up the findings. If this really is the case, then there are two reasons for me to be taking it. I am certainly willing to give it a go. It’s a proven drug for other things, so should be safe and even if it isn’t, do I really care? Maybe that is flippant of me and my partner will be horrified to read it, but I really don’t worry about such things anymore. I guess that is the suicidal thinking that undermines everything. I should be thinking about this positively though and my willingness to try anything is the part of me that just wants to get better and doesn’t care how I do it.

For a change, Dr G was running on time. My therapist, M however wasn’t. With that in mind, we got started and did a quick meds review initially. The expected increase in Lamotrigine happened and an increase in the Nitrazepam too. I could do this prescribing lark myself these days! In two weeks time we shall do the increase again and I will then be on the 200mg she’s aiming for.

We talked about how things over the past few weeks seem to be showing signs of stabilisation and improvement. This is true but I say it with caution. In the past three weeks I’ve gone from rapid cycling every day or two between an almost okay mood and a horrifically suicidal one. This was followed by a week of consistant suicidal depression and generally feeling awful. Then over the last couple of days I’ve kinda felt depressed but getting closer to okay mood. The suicidal thoughts are still there, they never go away, but things are quieter.

The thing is, I don’t trust the cycles to not come back. My mood sometimes settles down and then the swings come back with avengence and I am up and down like a yo-yo again.  I also don’t trust the curve on the mood graph to continue rising. It has only been a couple of days of slightly improved mood and I’ve had that before. The bubble bursts as quickly as it forms.

Dr G is hoping that things are stabilising. Last week was stable but hell. If things stick like that it just isn’t going to work. I will get frustrated and then fall off a cliff, which is similar to what happened last January/February. She knows this and I think is as worried about it as I am, but I guess neither of us knows what to do about it. We just have to try and hope that this mood holds out.

M turned up and we talked a bit about what we’d said last week. Dr G was meant to have another appointment with the four of us there last week; Her, M, my bloke and me. At least that’s what three of us thought. Dr G was at her daughter’s graduation and had somehow double booked herself. The three of us carried on and had a session anyway talking about some of the relationship issues we’ve been having and communication. It is a topic that always comes up but an issue that doesn’t go away. Again the solution seemed to be to wait a few months and try not to think about it. Easier said, but they aren’t living with the torment all the time.

The rest of the appointment consisted of lots of ums and ahs whilst I grappled for something I felt comfortable to talk about. I generally failed until the mention of that article came up.

The previous couple of days have been spent at my grandparents. I hadn’t seen them since March last year, when it was my great grandma’s funeral. It was good I guess to see them although always a bit surreal and slow. It always feels like a bit of an act at the best of times, but even more so at the moment. I also saw my two cousins on that side of the family. H, the youngest, loved our puppy. My animal-mad aunt did too for that matter.

The future holds very little at the moment. I don’t know what to do with myself and that is scary. I have a lot of uncertainties and I want answers. I see my worker on Monday and Dr G in a couple of weeks. Aside from that, who knows?

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.