May
08

I found out on Sunday that, after a few weeks of waiting, the decision had been made that I was to be offered the job! This is very exciting ūüôā And also rather scary as I haven’t worked since August. It’s been quite a weird week or so. ¬†In the last week or so, I have given evidence in court, been offered a job, applied for a master’s and stepped up my involvement in the voluntary work I do.

I also had a really bad day too, in which I stayed in bed. 

I’ve joined a women’s support group, which seems really good. ¬†I’ve been twice, and they are a really good group of women, very supportive, and as well as the support function of the group, part of the session is some kind of activity. Last week we did an exercise about confidence, this week i was something crafty, next week it’ll be some kinect games on the leader’s x box, if we can find a functional TV!

It’s been an eventful week really. Maybe the next one will be a bit quieter.

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Apr
11

In fact, I just realised I haven’t blogged since February 2nd! Which is a pretty long time ago. ¬†There have been a few things going on in my life that are me trying to move forward and get out of this depression for good. ¬†Firstly, I’ve applied for a couple of jobs. ¬†I’m still waiting for the outcome of one job. ¬†I had my interview, and now I’m waiting. ¬†I have been told I am a very strong candidate but they are waiting to interview one more person before making their decision. ¬†So I won’t hear til the end of the month.

I have also made the decision that I want to return to uni in the autumn to study for an MA, which is pretty exciting. ¬†Yesterday I contacted a former uni tutor to ask for a reference, and once she has got back to me I will be able to put my application in. ūüôā

On a slightly less good note, I had my WCA the other week, and that was NOT fun. ¬†The woman who assessed me was patronising (“oh you have bipolar disorder, that doesn’t sound very nice”) and it seemed like all she wanted was to catch me out, interrogating me, doing all she could to make out that I am making things up. ¬†She really got a shock when I told her that until January this year, I had actually worked my entire adult life.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. ¬†Later dudes!

Feb
02

I was on the bus home from town today, when an old man tried to get on the bus. He was unsteady on his feet. His hands shook, he struggled with gripping his pass. When he placed his pass on the machine to be scanned, it didn’t work. He asked if he could still get a ticket. The bus driver said “if you open your pass you can”. Well, as I said, the man could barely hold his pass, let alone have the manual dexterity to open the pass. He asked the driver if he would help.

The driver said no.

Before any of us on the bus realised the driver was going to be such an arsehole, the man had got off the bus, very distressed, and even after a man ran after him, he was too upset and had to go home.

This may be a bit of a leap, but the attitude of the driver made me think of recent events in the House of Commons. The person that could and should help this man just flat out refused. Yesterday in the House of Commons, the government who are supposed to protect our interests and support those in need, voted to destroy our welfare system.

I’m struggling to articulate just how damaging the welfare reform bill actually is. How many disabled children will have their benefits taken away. How cancer patients will be forced to attend work capability assessments while receiving chemotherapy treatment. How families will have their benefits capped at ¬£26k per year, regardless of the number of children in the family or average rents in the area.

The idea is to get people off benefits and into work.  Well, they can chuck people off benefits, but there is no work to put people into. So instead of having lots of people on ESA, we will have lots of people on JSA.  This is supposed to save the country money. How does it save money sending truckloads of people for assessments (which they fail, because the assessments are designed to be failed), then having failed the assessments, making them claim JSA, which means sending them for fortnightly Jobcentre appointments.  Does anyone else think that this will cost money, rather than saving it?

Of course, the saving will come from the people who have benefits removed completely. The people whose partners earn £7500 but who have been claiming contributions based ESA for more than a year.  Those people will just have to be supported by whatever small salary their partners can bring in. Meanwhile, bosses of nationalised banks continue to get shockingly inflated bonuses, and large companies disgracefully avoid paying the enormous tax bills they owe.

By the time the “reforms” have taken effect, more people will be forced to choose between heating and food, more people will be forced to move into inappropriate housing, more disabled people will have had care removed and be unable to wash or feed themselves, we will have sent dying cancer patients to work capability assessments, and driven more people to increasingly desperate measures. Then the “reforms” will be shown for what they are. Unfortunately, for many, by this point, it will be too little, too late. Just like it was for the gentleman on the bus.

Dec
15

Since my last post, not much has happened regarding me and being seen by the CMHT. ¬†Actually, scrap that. ¬†NOTHING has happened. ¬†They will not see me. ¬†I’m not even sure if my GP managed to speak to anyone other than my old psych’s secretary.

I am still being seen by the PCT mental health worker, but that is limited to 6 sessions, so we are now only meeting monthly to “make the most” of my sessions with her. ¬†I told her about my plans with TWH, and she thinks that is much more like what I need than what she could provide.

So I’ve been to TWH, spoken to one of the workers there, and I went to their drop in for the first time on Monday. ¬†I’m not sure if that particular service is right for me, as I had very little in common with the women there. ¬†I’m going to try their drop in at their other centre (was going to go today, but in the end felt like it actually wasn’t something I needed to do today) to see if the women there are any different. ¬†I also have a place on their confidence building course, and am ¬†going to be getting some counselling from them. ¬†And I’m planning to sign up to some of their other things as and when they appeal to me.

I think things are looking up for me. ¬†A difficult situation in my life is being resolved and will be sorted by the new year. ¬†The med increase seems to be helping. ¬†I am more functional and more “back in the real world”. ¬†I am not “better” by any stretch of the imagination. ¬†I’m still easily tearful, overwhelmed and tired. ¬†I still struggle with sleep sometimes. ¬†I still get suicidal/SH thoughts more often than is normal for me (even when “well” they pop into my head without warning). ¬†But I am getting up, showered and dressed every day. ¬†I am eating. ¬†I am giving myself daily tasks and sticking to them. ¬†I am not hiding away from the world.

I still frequently need hats¬†to get me out of the house feeling safe. ¬†But sometimes I don’t need the Serious Hat. ¬†Sometimes I can do things without ANY hat, which is a big improvement.

I have, however, developed a strange phobia of present wrapping. ¬†I don’t know why or where it came from, but I can’t do it! ¬†Luckily OH enjoys present wrapping and has taken my share, but obviously she won’t be wrapping her own. ¬†I may just have to fall back on a nice gift bag. ¬†Which would be a shame. ¬†It’s much nicer to remove wrapping paper than simply taking something out of a bag. ¬†I will do my best though!

And now, I need to venture into town.  Meep!

Nov
25

Well, after waiting for the phone call the other day, I managed to speak to my GP.  I have a prescription for the extra lofepramine needed to allow the med increase.

As to the other stuff, it’s anyone’s guess. ¬†The GP hadn’t managed to speak to the psych, despite numerous calls. ¬†So no movement there. ¬†She is going to send another letter, but there’s no guarantee the psych will even see the letter! ¬†Apparently, they have a new system in place where all referrals go to the same place, and are then looked at using a kind of triage system, and they decide from there who they will and won’t see. ¬†At present, it would appear that I am still in the “won’t see” category. ¬†Which is frustrating for both me and OH. ¬†And my GP seemed unimpressed too.

In the mean time, we are muddling by as well as we can. ¬†I’m seeing my GP again on Wednesday, I’ve got a welcome session at the women’s mental health place (Now known as TWH) on Thursday, as well as my next appointment with mental health worker. ¬†So we’re getting by til then, and trying to cobble together something that will help when the NHS is so reluctant.

At least we have things to keep us busy over the weekend – lots of churchy things!

Nov
24

After my positive steps the other day, once more I am sinking. ¬†Tearful, frequently suicidal, all that kind of fun stuff. ¬†I don’t know if this makes any sense at all, but I am almost desperate for that final piece of resistance to harming myself to crumble away and I just let myself do it. ¬†It hasn’t yet and this is a Good Thing. ¬†But I want to hurt in a way that I can take care of and “make better” myself because in every other way I feel helpless.

I saw Good GP yesterday (my favourite GP for mh stuff, and she’s known me for years). ¬†OH came with me for moral support. ¬†We discussed how things were deteriorating, how I was struggling to complete the daily routine set by mh worker, thoughts of suicide/self harm.

GP now feels that things have gone beyond primary care treatment and that I need input from the CMHT.  There was still no word from psych about whether she would see me, or whether she had any med suggestions.  The GP feels that help from the day hospital or frequent CPN support would now be more appropriate for me as things have slid too far.  I agree.

The plan was to ring the psych’s secretary and chase up the referral, and try to speak to the psych herself for further discussion about treatment for me, and then ring me to tell me the outcome.

She spoke to the psych’s secretary yesterday and found out that it was recommended that we increase my lofepramine to 280mg. ¬†This is what I was taking a while back, but we reduced it at the start of this episode as we weren’t quite sure what my mood was doing, it was bouncing around all over the place, we wondered if the lofepramine was doing crazy weird shit with my mood. ¬†Once it became clear that actually, I was becoming increasingly depressed, the GPs didn’t want to put it back up again, as technically 280mg is higher than the recommended maximum for lofepramine. ¬†She rang yesterday and told me this, so that will go back up as soon as I have enough.

In the mean time, GP is trying to speak to psych to see about further CMHT involvement, and will ring me back again about that.  She has promised I will hear from her, or another good GP who I have seen a few times, about that before the end of the day tomorrow.  So I am waiting and hanging on.  I am crossing my fingers that the phone will ring soon as it is nearing the end of morning surgery.

In the mean time, should I take some diazepam to calm me?

And also, remember: 3 years self harm free for the aardvark. ¬†Don’t fuck it up now.

 

Nov
23

Thursday’s appointment with MH worker was cancelled yesterday. ¬†Given that we only had 4 arranged before Christmas (and I’m not sure if I get any after Christmas, or how many, or if it has the magical 6 session limit) I’m quite upset.

I know I’ve complained a bit about her, but she is my MH support. ¬†I had planned to discuss some things with her at this appointment – why I didn’t think her approach was quite right for example. ¬†Also… well, emotionally I’m feeling worse. ¬†I explained this on the phone to her, but to no avail. ¬†Therefore, I have to wait an extra week to see her. ¬†This is all just so frustrating!

At least I’m seeing my GP today, who is very good.

What a mess.

The gestational period of an aardvark is 7 months.

Nov
21

After a (necessary) boot up the arse from my darling OH, I’m trying to start to move forward through my current depressive episode. ¬†Yes, I’ve been shat on somewhat, but I need to look forward, not back. ¬†Or something like that. ¬†It’s not easy.

The first thing that has now happened is that, after being referred for some kind of mh support in June, I finally got to see the PCT’s mental health worker (still not sure what he background/qualifications are) last Thursday for an actual appointment, rather than an assessment. ¬†It didn’t start too well in my view, since she didn’t seem to remember that she’d seen me in October. ¬†I filled in a depression/anxiety/phobia questionnaire. ¬†Depression score very high (duh!) and she asked me all the same questions she’d asked in October.

The big difference was the self harm/suicidal thoughts, which are increasing (particularly at 4am). ¬†She asked about them, but I don’t really feel I trust her enough to be fully honest with her about that stuff. ¬†This may be stupid on my part, but I just couldn’t tell her.

Anyway, then we went through my daily routine (or lack thereof) and we agreed on a daily routine for me.  This goes as follows:

Get up at 10am

Have breakfast and shower and dress immediately after that

Lunch at 2pm

Dinner at 6.30pm

I then have a minimum of 1 goal to complete every day

She was unimpressed that I said that getting up before 10 was unrealistic at this point. ¬†TBH, I’m not particularly arsed about making myself wake up at a particular time unless I have to. ¬†Since Thursday (when I saw her) I’ve managed to wake before 11, which is an improvement.

The showering and dressing is a sticking point. ¬†Unless I have somewhere to be, I just don’t see the point in dressing. ¬†I tend to wash at some point during the day, but then re-pyjamify (to pyjamify – this should clearly be added to the OED as current phrases for putting ones pyjamas on/getting ready for bed are clumsy, whereas to pyjamify/pyjamification is not). ¬†It’s more comfortable.

I am also not doing too well at the meals thing. ¬†I’m eating, just not at the times set.

What I am managing though is the completion of my daily goal(s).

This is meant to make it all better. ¬†Meanwhile, I’m waiting to see if there has been any movement on the psych front – whether she would at least deign to offer some med advice if she still won’t see me. ¬†We’ll find out if there’s any progress when I see the GP on Wednesday.

Next step forward is that I contacted my union rep about resigning, and we have a plan for that.

And finally, I rang a local charitable organisation for women which offers support for women having mental health problems: drop in services, mental health courses, therapeutic and creative activities. ¬†I’m going to a welcome session next Thursday at 10.

In the mean time though, I still haven’t got out of bed. ¬†Wondering if I have the energy to face going downstairs to use the coffee machine for a cappuccino.

This has been a hard post to write Рit has taken well over an hour.  Apologies for its length.

Nov
19

I like hats. Hats are great. They serve many functions in life. Here I will outline some of the different hats in my life, and what it means when I wear them.

The common-or-garden hat

This is not a great hat. It is quite thin, and not great at keeping a dry head in heavyish snow. However, it does keep one’s head reasonably warm and hides bad hair. It doesn’t serve any purpose in keeping me safe in times of mentalness, due to its thinness and the sparkles. The sparkles matter in this, I have no idea why.

The football hat

Does exactly what it says on the tin. Keeps my head warm on the few occasions I am able to get to the Riverside to see the Boro. No mental protection.

The cold-weather-and-slightly-mental hat

I love this hat. It is a marvellous multi-functional hat. It is snuggly warm. Its 2 layers help keep the head warm and dry. It also helps in times of minor to mid level mentalness. The snug warmth and feeling of being protected make things feel better.

The Serious Hat

This is the mother of all hats. It was purchased in Estonia when the common-or-garden hat failed in its duty to keep my head warm and dry. This hat comes out when it is seriously cold. It also makes an appearance in times of serious mental need. It is VERY thick, which helps me feel safe. The ear flaps help reduce some of the sensory overload which can be so overwhelming when I’m not well. It has helped me get to the supermarket, into town, to appointments on many occasions. The tassels add to the feeling of safety. I have no idea why, they just give the hat extra powers. My mother does not like to be seen with me wearing the Serious Hat. Last night, I even resorted to wearing the Serious Hat in bed for protective purposes. Note to self: the Serious Hat is not comfortable for wearing in bed, mainly due to the tassels.

I also have a selection of baseball caps and an awesome England cricket hat. ¬†The baseball hats tend to be worn predominantly to hide bad hair ¬†when I need to pop out on quick errands. The cricket hat is worn… when I go to the cricket.

As you can see, hats are vital in times of trouble. Without my hats, going out at times such as this would be very tricky indeed. Hats are essential in my mentally interesting life.

Nov
02

I knew this would happen.¬† I started a blog thinking that all of my more interesting thoughts and opinions would be able to leave my brain and enter the blogosphere and all would be well.¬† I thought “I can write in a logical and coherent fashion”.

As it turns out, I can’t.

I read an article about stigma and self stigma the other day and had things to say.  Truly I did.  It came to actually writing about it and all that I had was a jumbled mess of half responses that disappeared before I could get even half of them down.  I thought I might try later.

As soon as I left the computer, thoughts came back.¬† But then once again, I couldn’t get them out.¬† I think I have actually lost the ability to write properly, express opinions coherently and communicate how I feel in anything longer than a facebook status/tweet.

So now I’m wondering.¬† Is my new found inability to write a symptom of my illness?¬† Is it psych meds clouding my brain?¬† Or is it a side effect of increasing reliance on social media to communicate?¬† And does it matter which?¬† Does it matter at all?

I used to be able to write well and now I can’t.¬† It’s irritating.

The aardvark has fewer teeth than most mammals. The teeth are columnar in shape, have no roots and do not grow simultaneously.