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Saturday, 10 October 2015

June-October

Today is World Mental Health Day so I figured "what better day to write another blog entry, right?"

First a little update on my physical health though. I mentioned before about falling and hurting my arm around the start of May. I've been mostly managing the pain myself with OTC painkillers but I was also eventually referred to physiotherapy for it. I've been doing some exercises to "stretch out the nerves" as my physio put it. I feel this has been helping quite a bit and it's still painful and easily worn out but it's doing better.

In the middle of July, I had another accident. This may sound so typical of me but I was about to go out and had put on a pair of high-heel sandals I got a few days before and... I'm sure you can see where this is going. Leaving my room I tripped up and fell in our hallway. The way I can remember it is that because of the shape of these sandals, the top half of my right foot went one way and the bottom half went the other. I couldn't stand up on my own and I spent the rest of the night trying to hold back the tears as my foot became very swollen. My parents and boyfriend helped me out by lifting me, giving me a stool to put my foot up on and wrapping it in an icy cold rag to try and keep the swelling down. The swelling persisted for quite a while and only now is it beginning to disappear. 

I got another doctor's appointment a few weeks later to follow up on my arm and also to mention my still swollen foot. The doctor got me an immediate x-ray for my foot and I had another x-ray planned for a few days later for my arm. According to the x-rays - which both culminated in a months late appointment with the fracture clinic - I had broken 5 bones in my foot (each metatarsal, from an actual break in my big toe down to what seemed like a hairline fracture in my little toe) and had also broken the radial bone in my arm at the elbow. I had been walking around for over 3 months with a broken arm and a month with a broken foot. More importantly, neither had healed up like they should. The arm was still painful to move into certain positions and to lift things with and the foot was still so swollen I couldn't wear anything other than slippers or sandals (neither of which were particularly good for my feet.) I think everyone was pretty amazed that I was able to keep going with both injured limbs like that. In fact, all I could do when I found out the extent of the injuries was to laugh. I have another appointment with the fracture clinic next week to see how they're healing up.

As for my mental health, I'm glad to say I've been discharged from the community mental health team here. This doesn't really mean much though, as all they really did was refer me to other groups and to help me see the psychiatrist when my medication was needing adjusted. Through the years, my key worker has changed every couple of months to the extent that I had trouble even telling them when something was wrong (I don't exactly open up much to someone I've seen about twice for a total of 20 minutes.) When I was informed I would be getting a new key worker, I wasn't particularly sad because I became used to it. This last one I had knew very little about me and even after 3 sessions, only mentioned reading through my notes and asking about things on the day she was discharging me. "So I was looking through your notes and..." That's nice. Maybe you could have looked through them a few weeks before deciding to discharge me from the service?

All-in-all, while I feel I should be happy about being discharged - like it means I'm better or something like that - I just can't shake this feeling I have that I've not been discharged because I'm "better" but because they're sick of having to see me. I've always felt somewhat parasitic with the health care system. I've always felt like I've been using these resources for too long and I feel like some of the things said at my final meeting with my last key worker reinforced this: "We feel you've been to so many groups and courses now that you probably know more about how to cope and deal with your mood than we do!" Another way of saying "I can't believe you haven't got your shit together yet, how much do you need to do?!" They spoke to the psychiatrist and rest of the team about me being referred to psychology when they were discussing my discharge. Apparently they feel like I don't need it right now. I think they were again implying I've been to so many things that I shouldn't need to see the psychologist. I feel they're also basing the decision on when I went to psychology before and wasn't ready for it. Those two things are contradictory but it wasn't my decision.

I'm not sure where this leaves me. Right now I feel like I'm stuck. Indeed, I haven't self harmed in a while and my drug use is healthy but there's always been a cycle for me that I get trapped in. I would be fine for a few months and then I would be struck down with terrible anxiety, paranoia and depression. All it takes is for this to happen and then I slip up and go back to my self harm as a crutch. I figure the reason for this is that when things get really bad, it's a definite way to make things feel better. There's no hesitation that this might not work, that it might not make me feel normal again, because I know it will and it has many hundreds of times before. This is why I feel so uneasy about being discharged - it's like being left on my own with that.

I suppose I should mention the medication. Despite being discharged from the service, none of my medications have changed. I still have to take pills to keep me relatively sedate. I still have to take my SSRIs and my sleeping pills, Ideally, a mentally healthy person doesn't have to shovel tablets into their mouth 3-4 times a day and the fact that I do shows I'm not there yet. I'm only doing so well right now because of all of the medications and because of the precautions I take to keep myself safe. If any of these get adjusted or taken away from me, I very much doubt I'll be able to fight the negativity inside my mind. One reason I wanted to go to psychology was to sort out all the things stuck in my head from when I was younger. So many things need worked through and unfortunately I can't do that as well as staying safe. Even thinking  about certain events makes my heart beat faster and my body uneasy. 

I figure that right now all I can do is keep doing what I'm doing. Perhaps some day I'll either forget about things or become so detached from them that they no longer matter. It's important at the minute that instead of trying to fix things in my head, I just keep it numb and functioning instead of letting the negative emotions take hold for good.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Drugs: A Mental Safety Net

My last entry seemed to be brimming with optimism so I'm very sorry to have to bring back the cynicism.

The past couple of months have been very difficult for me in the sense that I've been finding myself struggling to stand on two feet - quite literally at one point. At the start of May I fell and injured my arm in such a way that it's yet to recover. I've been held back all month by a constantly painful arm and so I haven't been exercising and I've been taking a considerable amount (but not overdoses) of co-codamol each day to deal with the pain.

I've been to see the psychiatrist (at last) and was left feeling quite down. I spoke to her about my sleep and how I was struggling with one 50mg quetiapine each night. I remember very clearly the whole appointment of being looked at like the scum of the earth for leeching so many medications. She asked, "You don't want the rest of your life to be like this do you?" Of course, I'm so used to these appointments over all these years that I know just to smile and nod or shake my head as appropriate. You never let them know exactly what you're thinking because sometimes it's so emotionally charged in my mind that to even speak it would be to have a meltdown.

Well, after several "tsks" and heavy sighs, I got my quetiapine doubled and my promethazine doubled also to keep me sedated. I came home that day and stared at the ceiling and cried. "You don't want the rest of your life to be like this do you?"

A couple of weeks earlier, my parents had went away on holiday over Easter. On Easter Monday I was due to collect my weekly prescriptions but was told to go and collect them from another pharmacy at this time and place... I was, of course, told the wrong date. Due to this, I couldn't get my prescriptions until that Wednesday. That meant two whole days of no medication. Just to put that in perspective for you, I'm on medication for anxiety (propranolol, promethazine), depression (sertraline), hand pain (diclofenac), neuralgia (pregabalin, carbamazepine) and insomnia (quetiapine). I don't think I've had a worse couple of days in... quite a long time. I was crying constantly. It was like when I was younger and hadn't had any treatment yet. I felt sick. I was in a lot of pain.  I had to take a massive diphenhydramine overdose just to get some sleep (which was disjointed and light). I think I had a few co-codamol hanging around but nothing that could tide me over. When anyone mentions to me now about how many meds I'm on and how I should come off them soon cause it'll be so much better, I just think of those couple of days. I was a broken, useless human being.

I do find myself thinking about my future a lot more these days than I used to. Before I couldn't see a life past the age of 30 - not that I've anything against that age, I just thought I was going through so much crap there's no way I wouldn't have killed myself by that time. Now, I'm trying to think of what I can do in life, what I'm good at, what I want from life. I see it going down a certain path and I'm not sure it's a path I want to go down.

I'm still attending groups. Currently I'm attending two! As long as I can continue to go out and see other people, I think I'm doing okay. I don't want to push myself too much but I'm certainly still concerned. I try not to think about how it ended up like this. Those memories are locked away underneath all of the medications. Every now and then, something surfaces and I'm forced to try and work through it. My mind blurs things and I don't doubt the details from the more painful incidents are still there... if not jumbled up. I hope someday to be able to work through them in a clearer manner and in a controlled manner. Right now? I shouldn't let people rush me into stopping things I know are helping rather than hurting. It would be good to be able to get active again though.

Oh, and for the record, I haven't hurt myself in almost two whole months. That's an achievement for me (even if it's a small one).

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Progress

I've been attending a lot of course recently. The idea is to "get me out and about" and integrating with people again. I think I've been doing alright. I've been to a course on self esteem, a course on fighting depression and most recently a 2 day wellness recovery action plan (WRAP) course. I would say at this point I'm much more qualified in dealing with my low mood and self harming.

Of course, now that I'm at a point where I'm feeling much more confident and content with life, I find it difficult to rediscover who I am below this illness I've been fighting for over 10 years. It seems to have defined every part of my life. I'm wondering about what kind of career I want now because I gave up a long time ago on anything I wanted to do thinking I would never be able to achieve what I need to thanks to this. All my ambitions have been wiped away and I'm lost.

There is always a fear in the back of my mind that this level headedness, this content life I'm living is just temporary. In a month or two something will crack me and I'll be crying and cutting and wanting to die all over again. All it takes is one thing at the right time and I'm gone.

I guess all I can do is work on myself and work on my coping mechanisms so that if it comes to the point where it's make or break, I know what to do. I've been drawing, I've been writing (I still need to write out my WRAP), I've been gaming and doing whatever I need to distract. It's finding out what works best and remembering it when I need it.

I've self harmed once in the last 3 weeks or so. Obviously I'm disappointed but the fact that it's become less and less common for me is something I'm proud of. Mind you, the cut was bad enough that I thought I cut off my own hand for a split second. All is fine and healed now.

Drug use has ground to a halt. The only medicines I'm taking are those prescribed and the occasional ibuprofen for foot pain. I can't remember when I last took any codeine but I don't want to know and I don't want to touch the stuff again. Well, that's a lie. It's great. I love it. That's why I'm not allowing myself to have it any more. An easy fix that fixes nothing.

I do have an appointment with the psychiatrist in a little while about my medication. I'm hoping to get some at least changed. My last day of counselling was today and my counsellor says my progress in the past 4 months alone is amazing. Apparently my mental health nurse agrees.

I'm just hoping the progress continues and I'm hoping maybe at some point I can get off some of the medication I'm on.