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June 10, 2013

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Confiding in people – part 3: psychiatric services and what happened in the last few years

June 9, 2013

I split my last posts Confiding in people – part 1 and part 2 because the are far too long.

By ‘confide in’, I mean talk about the worst of my mental health symptoms in particular suicidal thoughts and the things I am ashamed about in my life.

After I dropped out of university, I changed psychiatrist from Dr D to my fourth psychiatrist, Dr McL, which I found difficult at first but she became my favourite psychiatrist. She was a fat woman and was the first person to talk to me about fat acceptance though never called it that and I thought she was just kidding herself (I never said that to her).  She was the first doctor to take my eating disorder seriously and the first person at all to take the depersonalization stuff seriously too. I started to trust her and became less worried about having to censor what I could say in case she thought I was attention-seeking. She kept telling me that I’d get better, that I’d be okay and that I would work things out. I started to believe her made some plans for the future – I was going to do a part-time university course then either go back to university and complete a different degree or finish the open university degree. I thought I would be able to get a job from that. I had hope for the future again which was a lovely feeling.

Then I made another mistake and moved to a different city because my ex-boyfriend J had got a job there so was moving. The move itself was awful and I got ill again and had to withdraw from the open university course. I had to change doctors of course so a new psychiatrist, CPN and GP. But I was so ill that I got sent to the local version of the crisis team so had a different psychiatrist and nurse there first. The crisis team doctor was like my second psychiatrist and I felt like she thought I was the worst kind of attention-seeking, faking scum. That experience is a different story. I stopped confiding in any of the psychiatric services and didn’t trust them. What was worse was that my ex-boyfriend J didn’t believe how bad things were and told me it was just my illness making me think that way. He had been using that argument more and more in the increasing number of fights we were having. I felt very alone. When I got a bit better, I was transferred from the crisis team to the normal outpatient psychiatric department. I didn’t trust my new psychiatrist, Dr S, my new CPN or my new psychologist, B, at all and didn’t confide in any of them. I did start to trust B and begin to confide in her after a few months but that ended badly. Again, another story.

When I moved back to the city where I live, I had my sixth psychiatrist, Dr D. Fuck, already got a Dr D. This one can be Dr E. When I was younger I would walk into a doctor’s office and pretty much trust them straight off without thinking about it. That was just what you did when you went to the doctors: of course they had your best interests at heart! When I went to Dr E, I didn’t trust her at all and barely talked to her. I didn’t get over that, which she noticed (just changed all the “Dr D”s to “Dr E”s hopefully), but she did begin to repair my faith in doctors and never actually did anything bad to me or acted like she thought I was attention-seeking. Dr E moved jobs and I had a temporary psychiatrist, Dr P. When I first met him I think was a bit more open-minded than I had been for years. I was very ill again and I heard later that he’d been worried about me. He was kind to me and again, was repairing my faith in the idea that some doctors might be trustworthy and he never acted like he thought I was attention-seeking. In fact, he was more the opposite and I felt like he thought I was more ill than I really was but he didn’t insist I went into hospital the times he suggested it. He pissed me off the last time I saw him by insisting we shake hands (he was wishing me well) because I don’t like to touch people but that was the worst thing he did. I only saw him for a few months which I was sad about. Then I got my current psychiatrist, Dr H. He’s quiet and calm and has, so far, respected my decisions when I’ve said “no” to the crisis team and going into hospital. I’ve come to feel that I can’t trust a doctor unless they ‘let’ me say “no”. He’s also let me change some medications, even though he’s said that he’s not sure how succesful it’ll be, and that has made me feel more in control and like I can actually make some things happen. I like that he asks directly about “self-harm” as he puts it meaning self-injury and suicidal thoughts. Of course, I’ve lied and lead the conversation around past it. But I like that he asks because I don’t think I’d ever bring it up.

When I moved, I was also given my new CPN, M. I’m going to run out of fucking letters. I didn’t trust her at the start either. I thought seeing her was pretty pointless and that they were just checking up on me to make sure I hadn’t killed myself yet. Then I got the letter to see ATOS and holy fuck, I panicked like I have never panicked before. I phoned her at the outpatient department and I couldn’t speak I was so upset and hysterical. She came round to my flat straight away and… I can’t actually write about this just now because I’m too upset but she was the best kind of nurse and took care of me. She took me to the ATOS appointment. She made it okay and I got through it. So suddenly I trust her now. She was there for me on the worst day of my life and I am incredibly grateful. I don’t think she’d ever laugh at me or think I was a fake so I feel safe with her now.

It’s bizarre reading these posts back to myself. It sounds like I keep grudges and don’t talk to people about it which I didn’t realise. I still don’t know how to ask other people for help. I think that’s the shame: I’ll end up hysterically sobbing and unable to speak (I’m not over-reacting, it has actually happened). Also, I seriously still have the that ‘in denial’ thing going. The thought of “that didn’t really happen to me” keeps flickering in and out and puts itself between me and feeling like these things are my life. And how did I get onto a five thousand word rant of all this history from “I have a psychiatrist appointment on Tuesday”? Guess I’m still not too keen on psychiatrists.

Confiding in people – part 2: friends and what happened while I was at university

June 9, 2013

I split my last post Confiding in people because it was far too long.

By ‘confide in’, I mean talk about the worst of my mental health symptoms in particular suicidal thoughts and the things I am ashamed about in my life.

When I left home and moved to the city where I live now, I didn’t have any contact with psychiatric services. I went to university and my first year went really well. I felt like I fitted in so much. I loved being one of the hundreds of students and felt like I was just like everyone else. I had a boyfriend, I made friends easily and liked my student halls. As sad as it sounds, it was the best year of my life. At the end of first year I moved in my ex-boyfriend, R, which in retrospect was probably a mistake and I should have waited. He’d bought a very small studio flat with a combined living room and bedroom and the kitchen had nowhere to sit down. So if we were both in the flat then we were both in the same room. Each of us found that stressful and I found second year more stressful too I think. Or perhaps it was mainly my relationship and where I was living. As the winter started, I felt like I was getting depressed again and went to my new GP and asked to start antidepressants. So I started paroxetine. I hadn’t researched any drugs and just accepted the GP’s suggestion. But that didn’t worry me and I felt pretty in control of what was happening. But the paroxetine didn’t help a great deal and even though I asked for the dose to be put up, my symptoms didn’t get much better. By the time my end of year exams came around, I was badly depressed and very freaked out. My thoughts were very confused as well as all the depression symptoms. I was convinced I would fail all the exams. Ironically, I got distinctions like I had in first year… my perfectionism had made me over-work and I’d lost any sense of perspective at all. I’d never been very good at taking care of myself and by then I wasn’t looking after myself at all. I would work all night and have hardly any sleep only to sleep far too much the next week. I don’t think I was drinking alcohol but I was probably fucking around with my eating and not exercising or making time for socialising or any kind of relaxation. I hated my body. It was awful and it didn’t really occur to me to talk to my ex-boyfriend, R, about it. Or maybe I tried a little but then gave up. I don’t think I knew how to start to confide in him. Immediately after the exams I changed antidepressants: I came off paroxetine at the same time as starting venlafaxine. Paroxetine is now known for it’s particularly bad withdrawal. And venlafaxine is known for having difficult side-effects too. So that really didn’t help. As I was waiting for the exam results, everything seemed to fall apart. My ex-boyfriend, R, hadn’t know what to do with me for months and we were barely talking I think. I ended up going to one of my friends from student halls, D, and confiding in her how bad it was. Or at least some of it. She believed me and took me seriously and made the phone calls to see the emergency GP. She came with me and helped me talk to the doctors. I’m incredibly grateful to her and I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t believed me. But I’ve never in confided in her again. We’re still friends though we are less and less in touch. That is down to me not replying to her messages or making the effort to see her. I’ve made plans and then backed out so often because I couldn’t make myself go. She has kept trying to keep our friendship going over the years and I’ve been shit. I apologise to her but I keep disappearing over and over again. I’ve not been there very often for her at all. The only other time I’ve sort-of confided in a friend was by accident when I mentioned to another friend from university, S, about a suicide attempt. I didn’t talk about any details and was kind of shocked that I’d even said it. I remember that he thanked me for telling him. When things were particularly bad, I used to think about talking to one of my friends but I never actually did it. Just thinking about talking to them would comfort me though. I make friends easily as I’m (or was then) a classic extrovert. I’ve drifted apart from so many friends over the years just because I never get around to or can’t bring myself to get in touch with them. I’m still in sporadic contact with three friends from university. Plus even more sporadic contact with a few other friends. And I’ve made online friends then drifted apart from them too though I think that’s pretty common. I can’t ever bring myself to talk honestly about my symptoms to them and just talk around it like I do with my mother. Actually I did begin to talk about things more honesty with one gaming friend last summer. But I abandoned that MMO for a different reason and I’ve never gone back.

So I’m often not a very good friend either. Well, sometimes I am. I like to do things for people and I’ve often got the time and make the effort to do things for them that I can’t do for myself. But that’s only half a friendship really and I know it pisses people off that I either won’t let them help me or never ask them for help.

After that severe depression at the end of second year, I went straight back to university at the start of the next term. That was a ridiculously stupid mistake as I was still ill and still hadn’t really worked out what was happening. Plus trying to recover from the embarrassment of some of the things I did (like booking a very expensive foreign holiday in a pretty unusual place and going there for three days then coming home). I ended up having to withdraw from that year at university. But the person who was in charge of third year, Dr N, was very kind to me and I confided some things to her though I lied about the suicidal thoughts and said I hadn’t any. I’d been seeing the psychiatric services since seeing the emergency GP and had a CPN and a psychiatrist by then. The psychiatrist was awful, didn’t talk to me or explain things and swung between making me feel like I was over-reacting, attention-seeking and a malingerer or I was severely ill. I was very confused and while at first I’d talked to him as if he was my old GP, Dr I, I quickly changed and censored myself and started over-thinking and trying to work out what this new psychiatrist would think of me if I said this or what he would think if I said that. In a way I was being manipulative because I didn’t want him to think I attention-seeking and so only mentioned things that didn’t risk that. He sent me for an EEG and a head MRI because of the possibility that I had a brain tumour and I was terrified because I didn’t have any idea of what was going on. Even though I’d withdrawn from third year, I was still seeing the year head, Dr N, occasionally and I told her a bit of my problems with this new psychiatrist. She somehow arranged that I was transferred to a different psychiatrist, Dr D, who was an NHS psychiatrist but also involved with the university. I didn’t realise the behind-the-scenes politics or consequences of changing psychiatrists and it caused me a lot of problems a few years later. Different story though. I liked Dr D and trusted him a lot. Actually a few years later, I got overly reliant on him but again, that’s a different story. So I had two people who I was sort-of talking to and sort-of confiding in: the year head, Dr N, and my third psychiatrist, Dr D. I started to find out one of the problems with confiding in doctors or nurse though. Confiding suicidal thoughts meant that I ended up in hospital and while I found being sent to the hospital validating and reassuring in a way, it made me feel frightened, out of control and ashamed too. I was also still very wary of talking about anything that I thought risked Dr D, or my new CPN, from thinking I might be an attention-seeker.

I moved out of my ex-boyfriend R’s flat back into student halls and while we were supposedly still a couple and were having sex, I was putting the relationship behind me and starting to move on from it and from the trauma of the severe depression and having to withdraw from third year. R had told me before I moved out of his house that he had found my illness very difficult and that “[he] was never going through that again”. I felt guilty and ashamed and that was part of why I moved out and wanted the relationship to end. In the summer, I moved in with my friend D and some other friends. Actually, from when I moved out of R’s flat, the next year was a pretty good year for me. I was back at university and while I struggled with the course and ended up having to redo parts of it and having to sit my exams at the resist diet during the summer rather than at the end of term, I passed the year. I finally split up with R for good, after a year of on-off drama, and a couple of months later started another long-term relationship with J. He had been depressed the year before we got together and was starting to get better. It made me feel good to be helping him to get his life back together and I felt okay about confiding in him. I continued to confide in him for the seven years we were together, as my illness got worse and worse and I dropped out university and started to become the recluse I am today. We split up over four years ago and we carried on having sex until the end of last year. I kept on confiding in him up until about two years ago. That saga and rant is for another post I think.

Part 3 of this post is here.

Confiding in people – part 1: family and before I left home

June 9, 2013

(Trigger warning: rape)

I have a psychiatrist appointment on Tuesday. When I was younger, I used to prepare for psychiatrist appointments. I wanted to get the most out of them. That petered out years ago. I often think to myself between appointments “oh, I should say that” but then I spend a lot of my time sort of daydreaming that I’m talking to a random nameless person. Part of that is because I ‘ruminate‘ like a motherfucker, getting more and more stuck in the habit, partly because I am lonely and partly because I don’t confide in anyone these days. By ‘confide in’, I mean talk about the worst of my mental health symptoms in particular suicidal thoughts and the things I am ashamed about in my life.

I’ve rarely been able to confide in my family. I remember telling my mother the first time that I was having problems. I was 15 and I’d been a disaster area for years: I was badly bullied at school from about 7-15 and didn’t have any friends; my first (sort-of?) suicide attempt was when I was 12; I’d had disordered eating/eating disorder from the ages of 13-14; I’d replaced the eating problems with self-injury because I’d found that worked a lot better and had been self-injuring from the ages of 14-15 being very dependant on it in the last year and doing it every day; and I’d been having suicidal thoughts and depression symptoms off and on that whole time. I told my mother a very shortened version of this and didn’t mention the suicide attempt or thoughts or the eating problems. I lived in an isolated rural area where everyone knew each other and the only GP was a family friend. My mother took me to a locum GP who was a woman. I lied and lied when she asked me questions. I was frightened and finally felt in control by holding back my private information. My symptoms got worse, surprise-fucking-surprise. So a few months later my mother took me back to the usual GP, Dr I,  and I told him the truth. I was desperate by this time. He was very kind to me and it makes me cry to even think of it. I was exceptionally lucky in how he dealt with my self-injury. He never shamed me for it and made it make sense to me. He said that I did it because I felt so bad and didn’t have “the words” to say it in any other way. He gave me steri-strips and dressings and I took care of my wounds myself, like I wanted. It made me feel good to take care of my wounds and it was the only way I’d ever deliberately taken care of myself. I felt safe. He explained that what I feeling and thinking was this illness called ‘depression’. I remember feeling so relieved. Oh god, I was so relieved. It was like some tight painful part of me unclenched. He treated me for the depression with fluoxetine (this was around the time that Prozac first became famous/notorious in the media) and weekly counselling with him. He asked me if I wanted to go to the psychiatric hospital and I said no because the idea freaked me out and I knew that everyone where I lived would know. I think perhaps that was the wrong decision and I should have gone and had some formal psychotherapy. It might have stopped some of the things that happened to me later. I saw the consultant psychiatrist twice I think and I felt at the time that was mainly to reassure Dr I and I didn’t get much out of it. Maybe validation that my symptoms was actually real enough to ‘deserve’ seeing a psychiatrist? Dr I asked me I wanted to see the psychiatrist again and I said no. I didn’t think it would help and he respected my decision. I kept getting better and felt calmer and steadier. I made friends at school – started smoking and made friends with the smokers. But they felt like genuine friends and I felt like I fitted in. I freaked out a bit around the time of my Higher exams when I was 17 and I think that was when he increased the dose of the fluoxetine. I remember him talking to me quite seriously about how the exams wouldn’t go away and I had to do them or I’d regret it. I did the exams and got the five As I wanted. My symptoms went away again and I got my first boyfriend, R, who loved me and was kind and gentle. By the time I was about to leave home I was doing well and didn’t have much anything other than ‘normal’ stresses that I wanted to talk about. Ah, now I read that back, I realise it wasn’t true: I was raped a few months after I started the relationship with R and when I told him about it, he acted like I had cheated on him and was very hurt. It wasn’t a violent rape and I was very confused by what had happened and thought it was all my own fault. I still kind of think that though I know (sort-of) that it was rape because I hadn’t wanted to have sex with that man, didn’t even realise that was what he was making happen until he started, had tried to say no and he did it anyway. I didn’t mention the rape, or “that thing” as I thought about it, to anyone else.

When I started confiding in Dr I. I didn’t over-think it and just did it. Once I started it got easier though I can remember him having to encourage me and reassure me a lot (sometime about “making the most of this time where you can say whatever you want and no one else will ever hear it”). Then when I got better I didn’t really need him anymore. I don’t remember ‘officially’ ending the counselling. I think it just can of came to some kind of natural end which I was happy and content with. Same with the fluoxetine. I pretty much decided I didn’t want to take it anymore and didn’t need it. Dr I had wanted me to take it for at least a certain number of months after I’d got better (I think it was 18 months) and I’d done most of that but didn’t want to wait any longer.

I don’t think it even occurred to me to confide in my mother anymore once I started confiding in Dr I. It hadn’t really occurred to me to confide in her in the first place. I’d basically had a nervous breakdown (stopped functioning) when I was 15 and had told some of my problems to a teacher at school who insisted that I told my mother. When I was raped when I was 17, it didn’t occur to me to tell anyone possibly because I didn’t call it ‘rape’ until years later. I’m still uncomfortable calling it rape. But with any of the problems, it didn’t occur to me to talk to my mother. And I definitely didn’t want to tell my father. I didn’t want him to know about the diagnosis of depression, that I was taking an antidepressant and definitely in no way know about the self-injury. Since then I’ve told both of them small bits and pieces about my mental illness. Usually it’s about what medication I am taking and I tell them when I go into hospital. My sister, L, is three years younger than me and I actively tried to protect her from knowing any of this for years up until her early twenties. I can’t even remember how she found out about it in the first place but I don’t think it was from me. We both live in the same city except for two years when I lived in another city. When I came back here, I had split up with my ex-boyfriend and I was badly ill. I gave her keys to my flat in case I got locked out and in case I went into hospital and needed someone to look after my pet rats. I gave keys to two other people as well. I probably didn’t handle it well and just gave her the keys rather than asking. But she really, really hurt my feelings by being very cold and saying that she didn’t want to get involved in my mental illness or in any way end up as my ‘carer’. I don’t think she used the word carer. I think it was my mother who used the word carer when she brought it up with me a while afterwards after she’d talked to my sister about it. I think the first year I came back here, I made an effort to see my sister and keep in contact. She often didn’t reply to messages though that’s the norm in my family as we’re not close and I do that too. I remember being in her car after going somewhere and saying to her that I could really do with some company. I think was in a bad way with suicidal thoughts though hadn’t directly mentioned the suicidal thoughts. She said she was too busy and again, it really hurt my feelings. After that first year or so, I’ve considered my sister as off-limits and I keep away. In this last year, she’s asked if there was anything she could do to help a couple of times. It’s seemed like she wanted to spend more time with me. At the moment, I only see her when our mother visits which is 3-4 times a year. I’ve not made much effort other than a couple of times too. I don’t know, it’s a strange relationship I think. I am far, far too ashamed to talk to her directly about any of this. I can’t even imagine being able to say any of this in front of her without being in hysterical tears. It’s very painful. That’s a bit like my relationship with my mother too. Though my mother has been clearer that she’d like to be closer with me. But I’m much more wary of my mother and there are a lot of things I don’t trust her with. My father is often kind to me and asks if there is anything he can do to help. When I had nowhere to live after I split up with my ex-boyfriend, he offered to try to find me somewhere to live but never mentioned it again after that. I feel like he offers to help to make himself feel better rather than actually wanting to get involved. When I talk to him on the phone (not that often), he tells me that he loves me though and that he’d like to see me. He really upsets my sister by not making more of an effort with her. So I don’t take my father’s behaviour personally.

Through all this, I’ve not been a very good daughter or sister. I don’t think I know how to be a good daughter and I don’t think I’ve really thought about it until now. That’s kind of weird. I’ve done some things for my mother and father but probably much less than most people. I know I’ve not been a very good sister and I’ve thought about that a lot before. In particular, I’ve not been around much for any of the bad things that have happened in my sister’s life like her bad experience with a surgeon or her problems with work. I was about to type “when she got married last year, I didn’t do much to help” but I did do something and they even thanked me in their speech. It’s only just occurred to me now that it was probably strange for my sister when I moved to another city for those two years as I had been reasonably in contact with her before and then pretty much disappeared for two years. She came up to visit and stayed with me once and we both went, with my ex-boyfriend J, to stay with my mother for a week. I’m not sure I saw her other than that. So perhaps it was pretty jarring and unreasonable of me to disappear for two years and then come back and just expect things to be like before I left. Since I can’t imagine talking to her about this, I’ve considered emailing her instead but… I don’t know, I’m afraid of making things worse or just looking like an idiot. She has her own life that I’m not really involved in, that really hit home to me when I was at her wedding because I didn’t know many of her friends at all, so I don’t even know if I want to ask her to make room for me especially since I’m such a fucking nightmare with the mental illness, no job, no relationship, etc, etc.

Part 2 of this post is here.

My old About page from 2009

June 8, 2013

I am a 30 year old(1) Scottish woman. I have bipolar I disorder(2) and bulima that merges into binge eating disorder(3). I’m fat and I’m trying like fuck to believe in fat acceptance. I am a gamer and play a lot of WoW where I am an officer in a casual raiding guild(4). I love rats and have two girls who I am devoted to(5). I like taking photos especially of my rats and the sea. I am an atheist. I’m a big fan of reading and particularly love science fiction, dark comedy, historical drama and a lot of non-fiction and even instruction manuals. I like listening to music and used to play a lot when I was younger but it is often too overwhelming these days(6). I try hard to be what some fuckwits(7) call politically correct but what I call polite. I spend a lot of time, in fact the majority of my time awake, trying to deal with my thoughts and feelings of which I seem to have an excess due to my mental illnesses and that is why I do not have a job. This is a personal blog and so I will post about any of these subjects and probably random other things too.

1. Fuck, I’m getting old. Still not done anything with my life and still shite at dealing with my mood.

2. I’ve always called it “manic depression” to myself so bollocks to translating it to “bipolar I disorder” for other people anymore.

3. Holy crap, recovered a fair bit from the eating disorder. Most behaviours gone though most of the thoughts remain. It kind of threatens to relapse sometimes. How many fucking posts did I do about weight and eating?! It’s even boring me. I’ve re-categorised them as ‘eating disorder’.

4. Left WoW and come back to it again since then. Also: left that guild, joined another more progressed one, that guild died so I went to another MMO, joined a new raiding guild, did a decent amount of progression, became an officer again, took on more responsibility, did more progression, got burnt out (in retrospect), left that MMO and came back to WoW, keep thinking about joining another guild but haven’t got the courage/motivation yet.

5. I miss them and still talk to them.

6. That’s improved and I’m now playing the guitar and singing along fairly regularly.

7. Name-calling. Not helping my point.