Archive for the ‘depression’ Category

Happy New Year

December 31, 2008

Happy New Year to whichever drone at the DWP thought it would help to send me an IB50 form on the last day of 2008. What a great way to end the year. However, I am determined not to fall into the trap of reflecting on what has gone wrong in the last 12 months. If I did I’d be spending the chimes of midnight on a railway line with a bottle of vodka, whilst listening to leonard cohen on my I-pod.  Actually, that might be ok. Don’t the trains stop running early tonight? So, instead, here’s my list of what went well for me in 2008.

I started a blog! And more amazingly, I kept going with it. Thanks mostly to the occasional reminder from Lola to enquire where I am. Lola you are the Mr Motivator of wordpress. Thankyou xx

I didn’t stab any neighbours, push any old ladies over at Sainsburys, or take my clothes off and run down the high street. Those were all bad thoughts, not reality. However, I regard the thoughts about firebombing my local PC World as a failed opportunity.

I singlehandedly protected my local retail park from the economic slowdown.

I did the same for Ben and Jerries icecream.

And Pizza Hut.

I kept up with my friendships and maintained a close relationship with my Dad, despite the urge to hide in the house and wrap the phone in tinfoil.

I stopped watching Eastenders and within days was able to lower my dose of anti depressants.

I limited my online forum arguments to one per week, and got away with just one temporary suspension and no permanent bans!

On a more serious note, I survived the year. I didn’t become another statistic. And that’s something that all of us who live day to day with mental illness should congratulate ourselves on acheiving. Well done us!  May we continue into 2009, driving our GP’s up the wall, giving our CPN’s stress induced rashes and personally stealing the hard earned money of every saintly tax payer in the UK. Happy New Year everyone xxx

Advertisements

a crap attempt at poetry

October 10, 2008

My Mother said “What’s wrong now?

You nasty, ugly, little cow”

Please help me Mum, I feel so sad

“Get away from me, you make me mad”

 

 

My mate said “I won’t play with you,

You’re weird and I’ve found someone new.”

You’re all I’ve got, I need a friend

“No one likes you, we just pretend.”

 

 

My Teacher said “ Your work is shoddy”

Whilst ignoring the new cuts on my body.

I feel so lost, my brain won’t rest

“Well make sure that you pass this test’’

 

 

My Dad said, “Pack your things and go,

Don’t plead with me, the answer’s no”

But Dad, just once please be on my side

“Your Mum comes first, she says you lied”

 

 

My GP said ‘’You’re not depressed

Get off your arse, work like the rest.’’

But I’m so low, my head’s a mess

‘’That’s easy. Just try smoking less’’

 

 

My nurse said “oh you’re here again,

Bloody cutters, I’m sick of them”

I want to die, I WANT TO DIE

“Are you still here? There’s the door, Goodbye”

 

 

My favourite forum said “you’re banned tonight

We are mods, we have the right”

But she’s the troll, it was not me

“Well we don’t care cos you’re bpd”

 

 

 

Some days I wish I wasn’t here, 

It gets so hard to kill the fear,

That they were right and I am wrong

But it’s up to me and I am strong.

 

My therapist said BPD

Fuck off, I thought,

I am just me.

Black and white thinking towards therapy

October 6, 2008

I’ve somewhat stupidly signed up to take part in some research on Therapeutic Communities, having spent a year at one myself. I thought it would consist of filling out forms, which for some strange reason I get a real buzz out of, but it’s going to take place over the phone. The downside to this is that I have to be spontaneous (eek!) and can’t plan my answers in advance. Any other borderlines reading this will know that we thrive on control, especially when it comes to authority figures, so this is starting to stress me out big time.

My main concern has been a fear over how I will come across. But of course, it doesn’t matter! I’ll never meet this person face to face, and my name won’t be published in her research. So why is it so important that I don’t come across as a whingeing bpd’er?

This has obviously led to much introspection of my time at the TC, and whether my own feelings about it are valid. I could very easily come across as angry and negative about my experiences, but I don’t want to be so one sided. There must have been some positives surely? But I don’t want to think about them. Why not? Because then the blame for my decline over the last year, once more falls squarely on my shoulders, and it’s much easier to blame my therapist. The problem is that I’m really struggling to think of any positives. I’ll try making a list, and I’ll start with the negatives because that’s much easier, and it makes me feel better lol.

Negatives

I gave up a longstanding full time job to attend the TC and haven’t managed to cope with work since.

I now self harm frequently, despite not having done so for years before I went there.

It has reinforced my mad status, rather than removed it. I am much more of a professional mental patient than I ever was, and having being deemed nutty enough to need to be in a TC, my gp now sees me as someone with severe mental health problems, rather than someone who suffers from occasional depression.

Discovering what feelings are has made my mood swings so much more painful. It’s not just about anger anymore, and after a year of being told that I am to blame, I have no one to shift those feelings onto. I’ve never felt suicidal for so long.

Being around people day in day out made me need human contact. Now that I am isolated again, apart from one friend and one family member, I find it much more difficult to cope with being alone. Yet the motivation to change that is still missing.

Positives

I made a good friend at therapy and we are still in touch.

I can eat in front of other people without feeling ashamed.

I can usually realise the triggers behind my moodswings.

I am back in touch with my Dad, after two years of not speaking. Something which the therapists pushed me to do.

Hmmm, well I guess there are some positives after all. The trouble is that a huge part of me is glad to be out of work and staying at home on benefits. I don’t want to get better and I don’t want to get a job. I’ve never wanted that. So there really wasn’t any chance that a TC was going to work for me. I either wanted to be 100% cured, in a fantastically well paid job, with a new partner and a great sex life, 2.4 kids, a size ten body, no dark feelings ever again, or constantly ill, dependent on others, preferably locked away for life, wasting away of starvation (didn’t manage that one lol), no expectations from anyone.

I guess the only thing I’ve learnt from therapy is that black and white feelings exist, and my life is ruled by them.

Week three on Seroquel and I look like the michelin man!

October 3, 2008

It started with my hands, which look like they belong to someone twice my size. Now my upper arms are bloated, my ankles are massive and even my lips look like I’ve been to Lesley Ash’s plastic surgeon. I’ve had episodes where I can’t stop blinking. Awful indigestion, drowsiness, diarrhoea, and occasional twitches. Why on earth would anyone swallow a pill which does that to them?

Well on the upside I feel so much more relaxed. Ok, so sometimes my voice is slurred and I shuffle down the street like I’m drunk, but  so long as I get enough sleep, the rest of the time I feel great. Seroquel has shortened my day, and I really only have 4 or 5 hours of full consciousness. I’m hoping these side effects wear off in a few weeks. If not, then I guess I’ll have to re-evaluate the pros and cons of continuing to take it. I still have low moods but it’s kind of like they are behind a big plastic bubble. I’m not angry anymore (well not much).

I saw my gp today, just to pick up my script for venlafaxine. I’m aware that he asked me questions, but I couldn’t do much more than smile at him. My blood test results are back and my glucose level is borderline (like my brain lol) so I need to go back for a fasting test next week. I’ve made sure it’s an early appointment because I get very narky if I’m not fed regularly.  He was videoing the session for training purposes again, which usually makes me feel a little paranoid, but today I had to stop myself giggling into the camera.

The seroquel doesn’t take away all my bad moods though. Yesterday was a downer. Probably overtired after spending the previous day with my Dad. I won’t see him again now until he’s had his operation. He thinks there’s no point in me visiting til he’s out of the high dependancy ward, but I want to be there, even if he’s not aware that I am. His wife is a die hard catholic and is very positive and talking about prayer a lot. I don’t share her beliefs and am generally pessimistic. I keep imagining Dad dying on the operating table. Being with him all day and having to keep up this false positivity wore me out. He’s not letting on how he feels at all and I’m not going to push him to talk about it. But all this brings back so many memories of losing mum to cancer when I was 18. Half the time I feel wiped out by worry for him, and the rest of the time I despise myself for using his cancer to get sympathy. I can’t believe I’m actually jealous of him for having a bona fide physical illness. One that everyone feels sorry for him about. I’m struggling a lot even with the new meds. Torn between needing to do everything and anything, and being too tired and down to even get dressed. I feel like I’m leeching off my own father. I don’t know how to trust my own emotions. When I get upset, is it because I’m scared for him, or am I just acting? I really thought I’d got all this identity stuff sorted out but I feel like two people at the moment. Good and bad. Weak and strong. Cold and Warm. Black and White. Damn bpd.

Is it time to start buying tinned food and candles?

September 29, 2008

I’ll admit right now that I don’t know the first thing about stocks and shares or boom and bust. I’d quite like my bank to go bust if it means they won’t be chasing me about my overdraft anymore. The credit crunch hasn’t affected me at all yet, as I live on benefits and don’t own my own home. If anything, I’m hoping the increasing unemployment figures will prevent the government from continuing its attack on those of us who claim Incapacity Benefit. But even in my insular world, I haven’t failed to notice that something is happening out there and that it could be bad. I’ve only got to use the tag surfer, where most of the posts about depression have more to do with the world of finance than mental illness, to know that people are worried about this.

It seems crazy to me, as a crazy person lol, that life as we know it can be so affected by a group of sweaty, overpaid men, shouting and waving their arms about in various rooms across the world. It’s hard to have sympathy for someone who earns millions in bonuses every year, especially as they’ll still come out of this mess with significantly more money than the rest of us.

Think I might nip down to Lloyds TSB in the morning and withdraw the rest of my benefit. Just in case. And when the looting starts I’m going to treat myself to some goodies from M&S as opposed to my usual Netto shop lol.

Go away and come back when you’re dying.

September 26, 2008

What makes more sense? Prevention or cure?

When it comes to secondary mental health services neither seem to apply. They much prefer to wait until you deteriorate into crisis, and then use a sticking plaster to cover a gaping wound. Or so it seems here in the north of England.

I met a friend for coffee yesterday. When I say friend, she’s actually someone I met at the bus stop a few months ago. We mentalists seem able to recognise a kindred spirit and know who it’s safe to talk to. Or perhaps we just talk to anyone lol. Anyway, K and I soon moved past the occasional hello and finally got round to meeting up for a chat over a cheap cuppa. It had to be cheap because K is surviving on basic benefits and couldn’t even afford the bus back home. No one appears to have advised her how to claim more money and she’s not the type to ask herself, being ashamed of claiming at all.

K has spent the last couple of years recovering from a particularly nasty cancer, which has left her with a host of gynaecological problems, in addition to a worsening of her long term battle with depression. Her partner of ten years is an alcoholic depressive, recently diagnosed as suffering from psychosis. They live together in a small  housing association flat, quite far out of the city, in an area which has little more to offer than a small newsagents and a fish and chip shop. K is more of a full time carer than a girlfriend. They haven’t slept together in years.  Her partner frequently comes off his medication and drinks to escape the voices in his head. K desperately wants to improve her life. She volunteers several times per week in a local charity shop and has admitted that it provides an escape from her homelife, which is becoming unbearable. She has wanted to leave her partner for some time now, but has nowhere to go, and would be perceived as having made herself intentionally homeless by the authorities, if she should move out.

K feels unsafe at home and has had to up her medication to treat her worsening mood. Her partner has only recently been allocated help from the crisis team, and only because he took an overdose. He refused to go to hospital and they can’t see past his alcoholism, saying that he can’t be helped until he stops drinking. He won’t stop because that is his life now. He never leaves the flat and suffers from paranoia. K knows the paranoia began long before the drinking, but can’t get the crisis team to take this on board. They will discharge him shortly and the only help then will come from a gp, who he won’t visit because he won’t leave the house. K has no idea what is happening because confidentiality rules prevent the crisis team from discussing her partners case with her.

K has recently started an affair with another volunteer from the charity shop. He’s considerably younger than her and has learning difficulties. I tentatively suggested that she has swapped one dependant for another, and she agrees, but explained that she just needed to do something that would make her feel alive for once. As far as she is concerned, her relationship is over and the new affair is just a bit of fun, but she had tears in her eyes as she spoke to me. Indeed, during our time together yesterday, K came across as a woman on the edge, desperate for comfort and full of guilt for not being able to cope. She admitted to having frequent thoughts of suicide, due to the knowledge that she is completely stuck in her present situation.  It’s hard to take responsibility for your life and move on, when you only have a couple of pounds to your name and no family support.

So, on to mental health services. K sees the same consultant as me. It appears that we also share the same personality disorder label. K has repeatedly tried to get help from a social worker or community mental health nurse. As with me, the answer has always been a resounding  no. K feels very angry that her attempts to help herself are simply used against her as proof that she doesn’t need any help. She is utterly exhausted and close to breakdown, but knows that when she comes out the other end, nothing will have changed. All she wants right now is a break from being her partners carer. Just a few days to get her head together. The affair is her first, and not at all her usual behaviour. She has reached the stage where it makes sense to her to take an overdose now. Not to die, but to get some time on the ward away from real life. In reality it is her partner who needs to be in hospital, but he knows enough about how it works to be able to escape a section. So what else can she do?

The reason I wrote about K today is that there are so many other K’s living in this country. Not quite ill enough to be allocated a keyworker or cpn, but too ill to manage their own lives. Let down by the NHS because it is so underfunded and understaffed that it can only help the worst cases. In a few months K will probably fall into that category. At least then she will receive help. But the road back to health will be so much longer than it needed to be. It’s a shame.

Hallucinations or angry feelings?

September 17, 2008

Yesterday a woman walked past me at Starbucks and threw her baby off the mezzanine onto the floor below.

Well that’s what I saw. Until I blinked and saw her continue on past me, with the baby safe in her arms.  For a split second I felt horrified at what I’d seen, but have to admit to a nagging wish that it had been true, rather than my mind playing dirty tricks on me again.

I’ve pushed people over, stabbed pensioners in the queue in front of me at the check out, punched my father in the face, seen passing cars explode into flames. Just split second glimpses of what feels almost like a parallel world, where my anger and aggression has real consequences on those around me.

I’ve never physically hurt anyone other than myself. A lot of the cutting is to do with my guilt at these images. They’ve been part of my life for so long, since early childhood, that they are almost normal to me now. I brush them away fairly easily when they are of strangers, but the frequent thoughts and visions of killing people close to me disturbs me. I feel like I’m keeping a secret from them. Don’t they realise they have a monster in their midst?

There are different types of hallucinations too. Some seem to appear from nowhere, at a time when I don’t feel particularly stressed. Others I can very easily link to feelings of frustration or anger at those around me. I have tons of horrible thoughts about people too. And voices / thoughts out loud in my head, saying bad things about them or me.

I guess the difference between myself and someone with real hallucinations is that after that split second, I know they are my imagination. But that doesn’t make them any less unpleasant.

Sometimes I feel like I’m just a tiny step away from losing my grip on reality. It would be so easy just to give into it and lose the responsibility of being well. I wish I’d been born decades earlier and could have spent my life in an institution, safe away from everyone. No need to put on this pretence of being normal. Is that just the bpd talking? I hate being so confused about who I am and what I feel. I see the pdoc tomorrow and don’t know how to explain this to her. When I asked for the referral I was agitated and hyper. This week I’ve been depressed. Previously I was detached. Now I’m anxious. I seem to go from one state of mind to another so quickly and as each one passes I discount it as a period of self indulgence.

Today I have a huge urge to self harm. However, I know that it’s down to the upcoming meeting and I am determined not to succumb to these feelings. So much is riding on this appointment. I’ve been stupid to build my hopes up like this. I’ll go in there and be all passive as usual, overawed by her authority, and agreeing with everything she sais. I won’t tell her about the visions or the voices. I never do. I need to make her understand how much I’m struggling on a day to day basis without her over reacting and not letting me leave the hospital. I can’t be sick right now. Dad needs me too much. I just need something to get me past the next few months whilst he has his op and recovers or dies. Whichever comes first.

Feeling low

September 15, 2008

I’ve been waking up depressed again, which I absolutely hate because surely it’s not too much to expect to feel refreshed after a nights sleep? I wonder if it’s the change in seasons already? I feel like I’m wading through treacle today. A letter arrived from a debt collector. Looks like Lloyds have finally sold my debt on and he wants me to phone him to arrange partial settlement, whatever that means. I can’t face it today. Lloyds ignored several of my letters where I explained my health problems and included a letter from my doctor, so I’m going to ignore this one too. I know it’s not sensible but I really can’t deal with it. I only opened the letter because it was cunningly disguised as a normal, non bill type envelope. I made arrangements to pay £1 per month last year but never stuck to it. Isn’t that ridiculous? But filling out a direct debit form and posting it back is beyond me. Everytime I think about dealing with it I just curl up on the sofa and go to sleep again.

Last year I tried to get help from a social worker with all this, but they said no. I suppose I could try the citizens advice bureau again but it’s on the other side of town and I can’t face sitting in their waiting room. I don’t want to be around people.

Psychiatrist appointment coming up on Thursday which may account for me wanting to put my head in the oven right now.

God this is such a pity party post. I really need to just get off my bum and open this mail. Maybe tomorrow.

lack of motivation

September 13, 2008

I hate weekends. You wouldn’t think they would be so different, considering I can’t work anymore, but they are. Because outside these walls there are people having fun. Planning to spend time with their families. Waking up with a hangover after a night round town. The rest of the week is quieter. I can take a bus to the local shopping centre and know I’ll only bump into pensioners or mums with toddlers. But today isn’t safe. Today there will be so many more people to stare at me and judge me. Today I’ll see lots of couples walking hand in hand to remind me how alone I am. Today I might bump into ex colleagues from back in the days when I could put on the front of normality. I won’t be able to escape the awkward questions.

So today I’m staying put on the sofa with the curtains closed. Another day spent ignoring the ever growing pile of letters on my hall floor. Another day where I don’t wash the pots or do the laundry. Another day where I don’t have a shower or brush my hair, or even get dressed.

Because today, like most days, I just want to close my eyes and forget I exist in the same space as all of you.

Therapeutic Communities. Do they work?

September 11, 2008

 

It’s nearly two years now since I finished group therapy and sometimes I wonder just what, if anything, I learnt from my experiences there. If you’d asked me a few years ago whether I would ever have considered giving a year of my life to full time introspection I would have laughed and replied ”Of course not, I’m not that mad!” Indeed that’s what I said to the community manager during my first assessment. You see, I’d asked for a referral for counselling to help with my longstanding depression. I was expecting to receive the bog standard hour per fortnight with a psychologist, so I was quite angry to sit there 8 months later and be told I should give up my job, go on benefits for a year, and attend a centre 4 days per week. I was horrified that anyone should think I was that ill and I returned to work and forgot about therapy. A year later, after a winter spent feeling suicidal and wanting to murder my work colleagues, I capitulated and found myself back in the same office, pleading for a second chance.

And so began the strangest, most frustrating, yet often most rewarding year of my life. Sitting in a room with up to 16 strangers and being expected to talk about your feelings is absolutely terrifying at first, especially when you wouldn’t recognise a feeling if it smacked you round the head and said ”hello i’m angry, now fuck off.” It took me quite a few months to settle in and stop staring at the floor. At first the staff encouraged me to speak, then they cajoled me, and eventually they threatened me with eviction from the community. At some point, and I’m not sure how, I started to talk.

I loved the weekly art therapy sessions. A chance to be a child again and splash paint around. Even better, a chance to criticise other people’s work afterwards, albeit it ahem constructively. Art therapy always brought the bitch out in me. Actually group therapy in general brought the bitch out in me, and I started to see that I had a nasty bullying side to my nature. But slowly, over time, I began to care about those other people. I formed friendships in the smoking area, one of which has lasted since leaving the community, and become one of the best friendships I’ve ever had. I finally managed to eat in front of the other members (it took 6 months) and after a few relapses, learnt to control my urge to self harm.

But it wasn’t all a bed of roses. The protective wall of self reliance and extreme independence I’d carefully constructed over the years was  beginning to develop holes. Being alone and managing my feelings during the days off was increasingly difficult. I had no crisis support, no medication, no friends other than those in the community, and the weekends stretched longer and longer. There were some issues which I never managed to talk about in group, sexual abuse being the main one. The one time I managed to bring it up I received a negative response from the therapists and I clammed up again after that. There was a huge emphasis on staying in the present, and moving on from the past. That’s all well and good, but sometimes you just desperately need someone to say ”That’s awful and it shouldn’t have happened to you”. Instead we heard a lot of ”You only have yourself to blame” and whilst they may not have meant the abuse, that’s how my mind interpreted it.

In the latter months I began to feel the pressure of being seen to have succeeded. The therapists thought I had turned a corner because I stopped fighting and started being positive about life. The reality was that I felt a huge responsibility to the newer group members and didn’t want anyone to know how frightened I was of leaving. So I put a smile on my face, shut off the part of my mind which still mourned the past, and sailed out of the centre on my last day with huge plans to get a job and report back to the follow up group as the most successful member ever!

5 months later I walked out of my new job. A few months later I was in hospital following a suicide attempt. I had pleaded with my doctor for help from the CMHT but that request was blocked by the community therapists, who felt I should be encouraged to be responsible for myself. They failed to understand that after 20 years of mental illness I knew how to recognise the signs, and I knew the difference between a blip and a serious slide into depression. I’d stopped opening my mail and paying my bills. I was close to being evicted from my home, and couldn’t even get dressed most days, let alone wash my hair or eat properly. The worst of it was that after a year of learning coping strategies, I knew I was fully to blame. So I hated myself even more. The therapy had been a last resort for me. Lets face it, if a year of full time treatment from the NHS doesn’t fix you, what will? And they sure did rub it in every day how lucky you were to have a place there.

Before I started therapy I had managed to hold down a full time job for 6 years, albeit with a lot of sick leave. Now I sit at home, on benefits, becoming more and more isolated as the weeks go by. My confidence is shot to pieces. I feel guilty for not acheiving a happy life, for not being ‘fixed’. I have a new (to me) diagnosis of emotionally unstable personality traits, which comes with the knowledge that I’ll be left to get on with it on my own now. It turns out that the therapeutic community was specifically for people with personality disorders, yet that term wasn’t used once the entire time I was there. None of us had been told about our diagnosis. Imagine being a depressive and going somewhere where you are constantly told off for feeling low. That’s how it is when you have a PD, because suddenly you’re not allowed to have ‘real’ depression anymore. You’re just acting out or being non compliant. If they’d just been honest with me from the start, I could have worked with them to overcome this condition. Instead I spent months in a state of confusion, wondering why I was being blamed for being ill.

To sum up, when I think about the TC I often have very angry feelings. Their biggest failing was the follow up care once you leave. To go from 4 days per week to one hour per month is a big wrench and something they really should consider changing.

However, there are positives too. I have learnt how to articulate my feelings. I recognise the triggers for most of my mood swings and I know they won’t last for ever. I’m in contact with my family again for the first time in several years, and I’ve learnt not to judge them in such black and white terms. If I could start that year again I would put so much more into my time there. I would make myself speak up about the past and work through it, rather than shut it away. And lastly, I would have taken the issue of boundaries more seriously and not got drunk and slept with another group member a few months after finishing the programme. Oops. I’ll just blame that bit on being borderline lol.