It’s been a while since I last wrote so I thought it would be good to take a bit of time out to catch up. The last month or so has been pretty crazy getting used to all the changes and all the new beginnings. It’s taken a lot out of me and I’ve been extremely tired, physically, emotionally and mentally.
I’ve now had several appointments with ‘H’ my new Mental Recovery Worker at Rethink. We are getting on well and building a rapport and I’m getting to like her. She’s very different from the other worker I had which has been quite refreshing.
The therapeutic massage has continued once every three weeks. I had my fourth massage last week. I was amazed by how I was. I had given myself a bit of a talking to after the first three massages during which I’d been incredibly tense. I’d reminded myself that I was having the massage for positive reasons, to nurture me, help me to relax and to introduce touch into my life in a safe environment. The massages are not survival exercises! So going to my fourth massage I kept reminding myself that it was safe. The hour went really fast, I chatted with the massage therapist all the way through and I hardly noticed the time passing, I couldn’t believe it when the hour was up. As I walked back into town afterwards I caught myself thinking “that was nice, it was really nice!” I was amazed, astounded to feel that way after only four massages. The next step for me is to allow myself to feel, really feel, myself being massaged, it is my natural response to dissociate from that. She is still only working on my back and shoulders but wow the progress I am making. She’s pretty amazed too. I’m really pleased to now have touch back in my life, even if it is only for an hour once every three weeks. It’s also really good to be learning that touch can be safe and nice.
The counselling I’m having with my counsellor ‘T’ is going really well and I’ve begun to go much deeper with her. When we met last week we looked again at the contract between us to review progress and clarify the role of the counselling, especially in relation to the other support and therapy I’ve just started. We clarified what I want to achieve and what I can talk about. It was really useful to have that discussion and to give myself permission to bring anything I need to the counselling room. When I started I stated I’d only discuss certain things but as things have developed I found that boundary too restricting which was why we looked again at the contract. I’m finding our sessions really helpful. I’m comfortable in that safe supportive accepting environment I’ve chosen and prioritised for myself.
Two weeks ago I attended my long awaited appointment with the psychiatrist attached to my local Community Mental Health Team. I’d waited 16 months for the appointment which was supposed to be about diagnosis, medication and treatment options. It was helpful to have a serious discussion about my mental health and the concerns I have about how I am. It was also helpful to talk about the last 25 years of my life from a mental health point of view. I found that really useful. It was also helpful to be able to ask the question “am I bipolar?” and to hear the answer “there is no doubt that you have bipolar characteristics but you are not actually bipolar.” That response was in line with what I thought.
That was where the positives ended.
It was not helpful when as the appointment was drawing to a close I asked “so what’s going on?” I asked that question because the appointment was supposed to be about diagnosis. Up until that point it had been me doing most of the talking. I wanted and needed to hear from the psychiatrist. The question was turned back to me “what do you think? Have you been looking things up on the internet?” While it’s nice to be asked my opinion I didn’t think it appropriate in this situation. I know what I think but I am not a mental health professional. I was already feeling stunned that I hadn’t been asked when I last self harmed or thought of suicide. I was asked if people talk to me out of the TV and if I think people have put cameras in my flat. I thought those questions were crazy and inappropriate to my situation. The psychiatrist had picked up on my abandonment and rejection issues and on my severely messed up sleep. I tried to talk the big problems I have with dissociation and child parts but they seemed unwilling to discuss that with me in any detail which irritated me. I mentioned my PTSD only to be asked “what PTSD symptoms do you have then?” I thought “what have I been talking about for the last hour?” I talked about my flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, manic states, heightened arousal states, startle response etc. This got the response “oh we don’t want to label people.” I couldn’t believe my ears and thought “Well I am asking you, I want you to, I want to know, how can I be properly and effectively treated without appropriate diagnosis? That is after all what this meeting was supposed to be all about?”
So I asked again “what do you think?” beginning to feel very frustrated. “It’s going to get much worse before it gets better, you have clinical depression and you are extremely emotionally unstable.” Yes, well I knew that already which was why I wanted the meeting because I knew I was extremely unstable and it scares me.
So I tried a different tack “I want to review my medication because I know it’s not working as I need it to.” The response was “we don’t want to change your medication because of the risk to you of such a change, we can’t add in any new medication for the depression alongside your existing anti-depressant because it would be of the Prozac family and you can’t take Prozac. See your GP about increasing your diazepam and sleeping tablet”.
I blurted out “Yeah but my GP aint keen on me taking diazepam or a sleeping tablet regularly, I need something official from you for that which is another reason why I wanted this meeting.” “Oh I’ll be sending your GP a summary letter of this meeting, you’re doing the right thing with starting therapy, you have a highly experienced therapist whom you are very lucky to have, keep on with the therapy, that’s all I can suggest.” I felt that was an extremely inadequate reply but it was the only one I was going to get. I left the meeting feeling very depressed, very black and very alone and wondering what the point of all that had been. Whilst I agree that changing my medication at this time of year would be crazy and is asking for a meltdown, I feel that to indefinitely leave me on something which isn’t sufficient isn’t really a solution.
It took me a few days to recover from that meeting and get over the depression it threw me into.
My CPN has not been changed yet. There is no named replacement so until there is ‘K’ remains my CPN and care co-ordinator. That is unlikely to change until January. Applicants have yet to be interviewed and recruited which isn’t going to happen before Christmas. So it‘s looking like nothing will change until probably the end of January. I’m pleased at that because it means that particular huge change has not happened at the same time as all the other changes and it gives me more time to get used to the idea. It’s still going to hurt when it happens, I know it will be hard, but I hope that by the time the change happens I will be more ready to go with it. I will hopefully be feeling more settled with my sexual abuse therapist by then and more equipped emotionally to switch to a new CPN.
I’ve now had three appointments with my sexual abuse therapist ‘M’. The first two sessions were about narrating an overview of my childhood. That was extremely helpful. I tried to do it chronologically but found that impossible due to the complexities of multiple abusers and so many overlaps. Our session this week was more about exploring how my life and belief system have been affected by the abuse. I‘m finding it relatively easy to talk and open up to her. It’s still very early days getting to know you stuff but it’s proving very helpful. It’s also extremely tiring and the day after each session I am dog tired.
On a more general level I’m amazed at how well I’ve coped with all that’s happened. I’ve come a long way. It’s been a huge learning curve to experience huge changes in my life which have turned out to be more positive than I could ever have believed. I’ve been so conditioned to expect bad stuff and to expect things to go badly and negatively. Suddenly events in my life are beginning to turn out more positively than negatively.
I had an ultrasound scan on my left foot last week which confirmed diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. They want to do a course of shockwave therapy over the next couple of months to see if that works. If not then it’ll mean an injection. But they are very hopeful of being able to successfully treat it without such an invasive and painful procedure.
I’m now preparing for my annual Christmas trip to the Alps. I had my travel itinerary from the tour company yesterday. I am travelling to Austria this year and really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a huge change from my usual pilgrimage to Switzerland and I’m excited about what I’ve planned. I’m ultra organised this year. I’ve sent off all my cards which had to go be sent early because of my name change early in the year. All my Christmas decorations are up. For the second successive year I’m first on my part of the road to have my Christmas lights up because I’ve beaten the guy across the road from me who puts a flashing star in his window.
The good thing to come out of the last few months is awareness and acceptance of my child parts. I really take notice of them, take care of them and do things for them as well as for the adult me. They are a lot happier and more content as a result. I no longer feel at war with myself which makes a HUGE difference to me!!