Archive for the Everyday Life Category

Changing My Name

Posted in Context, Everyday Life, Moods with tags , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 13 January, 2010 by Pandora

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen the other day that I had asked the Twitterverse how difficult it was to change one’s name by deed poll (it turns out that it’s actually very easy, if logistically something of a pain in the arse).

I have been thinking about changing my surname for ages – at least two years.  During that time I’ve been fairly to absolutely sure of the new name that I would adopt, and I think I have thought through all the ramifications of the whole thing properly.

Despite what many people think, there is no official or central register of name changes in the UK.  Theoretically, you can simply write a letter yourself stating your intention to use a new name, though that tends not to work much in practice when you involve banks and passport agencies and the like.  The lack of such a register means that you have to inform everyone yourself – preferably using certified copies of your deed poll – of your new name.

This includes passport agencies, driving licensing authorities, the health service (and specific services therein that you use), banks, credit and ‘store’ cards, insurance companies, utility companies, pension companies – the list goes on.  That’s not even considering your personal contacts.  It’s a profound logistical hassle.

But, for me, it is worth it.  I have long since hated the fact that I have links to my father via my name, as of course the man was a detestable piece of shit.  This was exacerbated after the whole kerfuffle over V’s will; I don’t want to share the same name as my American relatives either, after them virtually glorifying my ‘father’ and then stealing my bloody money.  I want to sever connections with that whole side of the family absolutely and completely, and this gesture is a symbolic way of doing so.

Furthermore, my surname is a completely shit one.  So much so that it was the brunt of endless verbal pestering when I was at school, which wasn’t exactly fun (not that that was what made me so inherently miserable there, but the name-calling and teasing certainly didn’t help).

I haven’t discussed changing my name with with C, although I probably should.  Perhaps this can be touched upon briefly tomorrow.  I did discuss it in some detail with Margaret, the CBT therapist I saw in 2008, and she felt that if I was prepared to go through the hassle of informing everyone, that changing my name could bring some “closure” [hate that word] on the many mental health issues I have that are attributable (at least in part) to V.  To be honest, I think that’s a very simplistic way of looking at it – changing my name is not going to change what he did to me, nor to my mother.  However, it’s one thing I can do to publicly acknowledge that I want no part in his legacy.  A token gesture, some might say, but I think it’s an important one.

I determined towards the end of last year that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it in 2010.  So yesterday (as intimated last night on Twitter) I took a deep breath, filled in the online deed poll application, and – after dithering a bit – hit ‘submit’.

The lack of a central register means that my name is not changed at all until I sign and date the deed poll (which should be with me by early next week), and in practice it remains unchanged until I send the certified copies to the aforementioned agencies and they update their systems, my cards, etc.  But I’ve taken the first step – and as I said, it’s a big step, in my view, as I have lived with this name for over 26 years.

I’m really nervous about what I am doing, but it’s a new start in a kind of symbolic way, and to that end I’m terribly excited too.

So up yours, V, and up yours, V’s family, for contributing to my being completely batshit mad.  Shortly I will have no links with you whatsoever other than my mother and genetics, and I cannot wait.

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Victories and Failures: Updates on *Those* Letters

Posted in Context, Everyday Life, Moods with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Saturday, 9 January, 2010 by Pandora

Let’s deal with these chronolgically and, coincidentally, in order of bad to good.

FAIL

On 17 December, I wrote to two mental health advocacy groups (Mindwise and the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health) regarding the whole ‘you can only have 24 more sessions’ bullshit with C.  Both have now responded, and both have represented something of an epic fail.

Mindwise simply told me to discuss the matter with my consultant psychiatrist, as “they would be the ones making the decision”.  Well, I will, when I see my (new!) consultant on 20 January (over a month late, might I add).  However, as regular readers will know, Psychiatry have been one of the problems I’ve been having with the NHS during this most recent breakdown (though to be fair, this was not outlined in the letter).

Talk about passing the fucking buck.  It was simply a case of pushing responsibility onto someone else, and not wanting to tackle my case themselves.  Is it because I is borderline?  Everyone hates a borderline, innit.

Should the meeting with the psychiatrist not yield results, though, I am going to write pompously back to these tossers and demand their assistance.  Either that or the media will be learning of their incompetence and unwillingness to help a mentally ill individual, which is exactly what they exist for.

I heard from NIAMH yesterday.  Apparently, their advocacy service does not operate in my Trust area.

Forgive me, but is it not the NORTHERN FUCKING IRELAND Association for Mental Health?!  At no point does the name of the charity remotely infer that it is not operational across the entire country.  How, then, can they not operate in my Trust area?  Is it because I is borderline?  Everyone hates a borderline, innit.

In fairness, at least they did suggest some sort of action I could take.  They said I should try the Trust’s Patient Council service, who apparently deal with matters like this.

I will heed their advice, especially given that a Twitter friend had some results via the Patient Council in his area, but not until I have heard back from the Trust, who were copied in on the original letter.

POSSIBLE WIN

As you know, the advocacy letter was copied to the Chief Executive of the Trust.  Not wanting to be arsed himself, the individual in question passed my letter to the Director of Mental Health services.

This bloke wrote back to me a few weeks ago, telling me that he had requested more information and that he would be in touch once he had received same.  I have not heard more from him yet, but am hopeful that the mere act of kicking up a fuss like this and threatening to contact the politicians and the media might be enough to get some action from him.

I won’t hold my breath, of course, but I will cross my fingers.

WIN

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Asshole GP has backed down!

Apparently, Dr Bellend/Twatbag/Arsehole/whatever-else-I-called-him “would like to apologise” and accepts that his attitude fell short of “desirable [surely ‘necessary’?] professional standards”.  Ha!  Muah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

The letter went so far as to offer me the opportunity to meet the Practice Manager and Dr Knobjockey to further discuss the matter.  I will not accept the invitation, but I suppose it was good of them to offer it.

As I have generally been well supported by the practice (recently, at least), I won’t be a dick over this.  I’ll write back and accept Dr Fuckwit’s apology, and just hope that I won’t have to see him again.

MEH

And that, folks, is the latest news on that front.  I feel smugly satisfied about the GP letter result, but of course am rather disappointed that the advocacy charities are not actually doing anything that remotely resembles advocacy.  But we shall see how this continues to play out over the next few weeks.

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Flogging a Dead Horse with C – Week 35

Posted in C, Everyday Life, Psychotherapy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 6 January, 2010 by Pandora

Christmas and the arrival of 2010 have seen some disruption to your usual service from SI. It seemed impossible to get a chance to write on the latest C session, given as these post seem to be the most ridiculously detailed.

This post shouldn’t be overly detailed, as a lot of it was repetitive bullshit regarding the annoyances of the previous week. Nevertheless, here we go.

Upon leaving C’s company the previous week, we had agreed that we would use week 35, the last week before a break of three weeks owing to Christmas, as a session to discuss how I would manage the so-called festive season.  In reality, that bit ended up taking approximately five minutes at the end, and although it was ever so slightly more helpful than some of the nonsense he’s come off with at other breaks (“breathe!”), it was still not entirely helpful.  But then again, he’s not my guardian, is he?  Much as I would like it that way.

I say we were flogging a dead horse because the majority of the discussion centred around the same crap we had discussed over the previous week (leave a comment or get in touch if you need the password) and the week before that, ie. my anger and distress about his decision to cut short my treatment, and my general disgust about the NHS’s abject failure to adequately treat me since I first sought help for my mental health problems.  I do understand that in some ways maybe C sees exploring my reactions to this as a form of projection or transference, and maybe in some ways it is: perhaps I feel so rejected and aggrieved because that’s how I was meant to feel about my father, uncle, ex, etc etc.

However, it endlessly frustrates me that I cannot just simply be angry because I have been so horribly fucked about by the health service.  Again, in this session, C reiterated that the 24 week limit (starting from tomorrow) was his decision; he said he was “not a robot” controlled by the NHS.

It completely contradicts all the stuff he says about my right to be annoyed and about how BPD should really be treated, and we went round and round in circles on how I could not reconcile his two contrasting views, and about how he either couldn’t or wouldn’t explain it properly.

I also, having decided as a result of the preceding week that he hated me, went to find out whether or not this was indeed the case.

I said, “if I ask you a question, will you promise not to answer with a question?”

He shifted uncomfortably, then admitted that he was unsure as to whether or not this was achievable.

I asked him anyway, on the proviso that if I thought he was “blagging” his way through his answer I would pull him up on it.

He did come off with the form bullshit such as, “why is it important for you to know that?” and whatnot, but I was pleased when he finally admitted that he too had found the preceding week “frustrating”.  So he is a human after all!

He said that I had been “very angry” with him, which I thought was unfair.  I told him that I genuinely hadn’t been angry with him, merely the system, until he confessed to having been the one that decided on the time limit.

“But you were angry with me then,” he pointed out.

“Yes,” I said.  “You had seemed so supportive of me prior to that; you agreed that my situation was wholly unfair.  Then you completely contradicted that by admitting to this arbitrary limit crap.”

And so back we went to flagellating that deceased equine.  More questioning demands from me, more bullet-dodging from him, no progress from either of us.

He had asked me in week 34 to seriously consider whether or not to continue with therapy, as I “had” to agree to the time limit as part of the contract (which strikes me as being quite unreasonable, as contracts are meant to be negotiated rather than forced in this type of setting).  Apparently if I don’t accept the limit, I cannot continue treatment.

“On that note,” I told him, “I am prepared to accept it, but only if you accept – because this works both ways – that I am going to fight it.”

He asked what I meant by ‘fighting’ it, prompting me to withdraw a copy of the letter to the advocacy groups out of my pocket.

“It’s only fair that you read that, given that you’re going to be involved,” I told him, handing the document over.  He took it and began reading.

I sat there and watched him reading it for a minute or two, then stood up and walked to the window, knowing perfectly well that he would almost certainly comment on this, as he had done two weeks previously.  Indeed, he didn’t disappoint.

“I’m wondering why you got up, SI…” he pondered, as he continued reading the letter.

“It’s not reflective of anything,” I spat cynically.  “I’m not denying my hurt or failing to face up to my problems.  I’m simply looking out the window whilst you are occupied with reading that.  Am I not allowed to get up, C?”

He shrugged and muttered something along the lines of that I was, in fact, allowed to get up, then continued reading in silence.

He eventually looked up and said, encouragingly, “it’s a good letter.  Who all are you going to send it to?”

I told him about the advocacy groups, Mindwise and the NI Association for Mental Health.

I was astonished – and delighted – when he then proceeded to actively encourage me to also send it to both the Chief Executive of my Trust, and the head of the mental health directorate of same.  In the end, he forgot to give me the person’s name, but as it turns out it’s been passed to him anyway (more details on how the letter has progressed in a future post).

C said, “you’ve also made reference there to people I think are in England – perhaps it would also be worth adding information about provision for personality disorders in other Northern Ireland Trusts.”

I asked him what such provision existed, knowing that people with the most serious PDs are in fact sent to specialist units in England as there are no facilities to treat them here at all.

C said a self-harm team exists in one of the other Trusts here.  “Although not everyone who self-harms has BPD, and not everyone with BPD self-harms, they would probably see a disproportionately high rate of people with your diagnosis,” he said.  “No such team exists in this Trust at the minute.  There’s discussion ongoing about making the existing team a regional, cross-Trust one, but it hasn’t yet come to anything.”

He talked on for a few minutes about plans our Trust has for action on personality disorders, and how they don’t seem to much be coming to fruition.  But the best part of the session was when he asked me if he could have a copy of the letter.

“I think it would be good for my line managers to know how you feel about all this,” he said.  He went on to say something (I don’t recall what) indicating that there might be some benefit to me in this, but was very quick to point out that it was my choice as to whether or not he did take a copy for them.  I readily agreed, of course, delighting in his apparent desire to act as my advocate to the bureaucrats above him.

Now, of course, I am convinced that he took the letter so he and his twatfaced bosses of evil can formulate some plan of self-defence in advance of hearing from the advocacy groups.  It was not in my interest at all – merely their own.  No doubt over the next few weeks we’ll see which way it actually is.

Eventually – I don’t remember how – I said that he must get sick of his job, what with all the whinging he would have to listen to.  “I accused you of being a sadist a few weeks back,” I said.  “Now I think you’re a mashochist.”

He accused me (sympathetically, to be fair to him) of splitting, which on reflection makes me slightly irritated, but at the time I agreed and called myself all the names of the day for employing this “silly psychological process.”

C leapt to my defence.  He said he knew that I had long since known I was guilty of splitting, but that it’s now “emotional for [me]”, not just something I recognise intellectually.  And it is OK, I do not need to berate myself for it, because I have suffered serious traumas, apparently, that have caused this defence mechanism (which is not silly, he contends) to develop.

On that note, as I recall it anyhow, we moved on to the discussion about the dreaded Christmas.

C’s advice was basically to get the fuck out if I felt anxious or overwhelmed.  I said that was easy to say, but he didn’t have to listen to my mother’s wrath if I did so.

He advised me to talk to her in advance, but I protested against this as well.  “When I told her about what happened with my uncle, she said I made it up to avoid going to his house,” I reminded C.  “So how can I justify my anxiety?”

“Blame your crowd phobia,” C said.  “She can’t be critical of that, can she?  There will be a crowd there, won’t there?

“Yes,” I replied.  “And they’re all part of the problem – it’s not all about my history with my uncle.  I have nothing in common with them and it’s a weird matriarchal set-up, where about 18 different generations all live under the same roof.  They’re freaks.”

He said, “are there children living there?”

I was horrified.  He was obviously wondering if anyone else is presently at risk from Paedo.

“Now you’re angry with me for putting the baby and all the other generations in danger.  I’m sorry,” I raced, in a bizarre panic.

C looked at me, his eyes wide-open.  “Where did that come from?” he enquired, surprised.

“Oh, you’re not angry with me?  Then I’m using you as a board for my anger at myself, am I?”

“OK, you’ve lost me,” he admitted.  “Just…just remember – get out.  Talk to your mother in advance, blame your crowd phobia if you have to, but if you feel yourself becoming tense, get out of there, even if only for a few minutes.  Allow yourself to be anxious about this.  How could you not be?”

And that, folks, was really that.  Of course, you know how ridiculously awful Christmas turned out to be, but I did remove myself from the others when I went so horribly mental, so I suppose I did at least follow the advice given.

As I was leaving, I wished him a Merry Christmas.  He said, admittedly cautiously, “you too,” causing me to laugh bitterly.  I think he knew that it was inevitable that the season would be utterly shite.

So, the three week gap is due to be over tomorrow.  Of course, I am convinced that C is dead again; either that or therapy will be cancelled due to the stupid, horrible, pointless fucking snow, and I need him so desperately at the minute.  Though I have not heard anything about a cancellation today, and I suppose I would have expected an advanced notification were the snow to fuck everything up on the monumental scale that it has in Britain.

The last time he was on holiday, in August, I didn’t miss him that much.  But this time I have, and I need him to help me pick up the pieces of the last few weeks.

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Reflections on 2009

Posted in C, Everyday Life, Moods, psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Random, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Thursday, 31 December, 2009 by Pandora

Wasn’t it 1992 that the Queen said was her annus horribilis?  Well, let’s fast forward 17 years to now, New Year’s Eve, 2009. This year has turned out to be the annus horribilis of your humble narrator – mostly. I’ve been on the brink of sectioning on a number of occasions, the brink of suicide on others, I’ve developed serious psychoses, I’ve been twatted by the system and I lost my job.  Yet, there are a few glimmers of non-shit somewhere in there.

To that end, here, for your dubious delectation, is the good, the bad and the ugly (well, the bad and good anyway) of the last 12 months in the world of this PsychoFreakBitch…

THE BAD

Being Mental

Perhaps rather obvious, but yeah, being mental hasn’t been a great deal of fun.  I know I’ve argued that if I could flick that figurative switch to the sanity setting I wouldn’t do so, and I still hold to that, but nevertheless, the panics, depressions, mixed states, psychoses and frantic states are not exactly things that I enjoy.

As you know, faithful, darling readers, I have been mental for many years – my first diagnosis was in 1998, but in reality I did have some manifestations of madness well before that juncture.  However, 2009 was by far the worst year for it, as I think most of those close to me would attest.  The dysphorias, the exceptional levels of anxiety and the psychoses, all having existed before, have been exacerbated so considerably during the last 12 months.  I’m not sure why; maybe it is the intensity of psychotherapy, maybe it’s medication, maybe it’s simply the ‘proper’ development of BPD and/or bipolar disorder, given as they tend to manifest most strongly in one’s 20s, maybe it’s another psychiatric illness altogether.  Maybe it’s nothing more than coincidence.  Either way, it is.

Specific Issues on Mentalism

–> Psychoses

Tom was alright, but ‘They’ have been a hideous bloody curse.  Even with the anti-psychotic, ‘They’ are almost ever-present, though their severity was mostly reduced with said medication.  The worst manifestations of ‘They’ were when they tried to get me to kill myself and, worse again, when they wanted me to kill MW on Christmas Day.

Of course, the psychotic symptoms were not limited to hearing voices.  The shapes continued amok throughout 2009, though in retrospect I think I can say that I maybe noticed some abatement of their severity when I started taking Olanzapine.  However, I also developed new hallucinations, such as music, knocking and whimpering.  And I hallucinated my erstwhile stalker once.  Fuckin’ A.

Oh, and let’s not forget the delusions – A was in collusion with GCHQ, the sun and signs were watching and/or communicating with me, ‘They’ steal the thoughts from my mind, my cousin ScumFan was a drug dealer, A was not A but A’s sister, yadda yadda.

–> Dissociation

This has been pretty fucking annoying and at times highly disturbing.  There have been a number of times that I have found myself in dissociative fugue states – being in random places some distance from home, having no idea how or why I got there.  I need not explain the potential implications of these (admittedly relatively minor) fugues to my readership.

Of course, it does not take a fugue to make a dissociative episode.  Despite my ability to write 3,000 or more words on my sessions with C, my psychotherapist, it is not infrequent for me to dissociate parts of these meetings, particularly (unsurprisingly) when we are tackling something difficult together.  Several of the fugues have been in the wake of sessions with C.

I’ve also found myself in amnesiac states during or after arguments or highly stressful events, and of course I have the standard BPD features of depersonalisation and derealisation – forms of dissociation, I believe – on a frequent basis.

Although I’ve experienced depersonalisation and derealisation for years, I’ve only knowingly experienced full dissociative episodes – ie. proper periods of amnesia, losing time – in the last year.  Well…maybe it began in 2008, but it would mostly have been in 2009.

However, I only remember the rape and other parts of the sexual abuse in flashbacks, for example, and in discussion with C we have found that I have many ‘symptoms’ characteristic of someone who dissociated something traumatic in childhood.  The suggestion has been that, given the strength and quantity of these symptoms, there may be more than I don’t consciously remember.  I hate the idea for its own sake, obviously, but I hate it even more by virtue of the fact that it is not recalled (if indeed it did happen); it leaves me with a distinct lack of control over how I now react to triggers.  Perhaps that can be addressed in therapy over time (if therapy even fucking continues over time).

–>  Self-Harm

Is self-harm even bad?  Sometimes I really do wonder.  As a way to cope, it works.  As a way to fascinate (by virtue of watching the beautiful krovvy), it works.  As a way to seek absolution, it works (albeit temporarily).

Still, it serves as a permanent record of a very horrible year of my life, and I suppose in that way it could be considered a bad thing.  It’s something that, as of this writing, I feel quite nonchalantly about, but who’s to say in 10 years or something, I won’t look at my scars and feel triggered back into mentalism from which I may have found some relief?

I’m classing this as a bad thing of this year because, prior to 2009, I hadn’t engaged in any serious self-harm for years.  2009 saw it return on a relatively frequent basis.

Losing My Job

In reality, I was nowhere near as upset about this as I should have been, but one thing I really do detest is being in the hateful position of being dependent on the state for my living.  I had always dreamed of a career (not just a job) and the opportunity to use my intellect in a meaningful fashion.  I did not want to end up being a dolescum, and this is still something that I am hoping to change in seeking treatment for my madness.

So I suppose that is the worst part of losing my job; I now am officially everything that I never wanted to be in my adult life.  It’s also awkward from the perspective of my developing my career; having to explain a gap in employment of whatever length and an incapability dismissal will not be a lot of fun.

Trouble with the NHS

It all started with all the trouble with getting an appointment with, and then sustaining appointments with, the VCB.  Then C waded into the quagmire with his ‘I can only offer you 24 more sessions’ bullshit.  As you know, of course, I am fighting this.

Then there was Dr Arsehole just before Christmas (about whom I will write in the next ‘C’ installment), and the latest is that I have an appointment with Psychiatry on 20 January (more than a month after I was meant to have my most recent review appointment)…but not with VCB!  No, readers, apparently I am seeing ‘Dr M’.  What in the fuck..?  I might not like VCB, but at least I had got to know her to some extent.  But now they’re fucking me about again.  Arsecunt.

Christmas

It was fucking God-awful dreadful.  Enough said.

C

Not C himself; of course I don’t know the man in any realistic way, but my sense of him is positive.  OK, he does wind me up sometimes, and it is not at all unknown for him to actually anger me, but generally I am very fond of the man, regardless of whether or not that is simply a case of transference.  However, psychotherapy is not a fun process.  It’s not fun at all.  In fact, I believe firmly that it has made me more mental than I already was.

It therefore seems ridiculous to continue with it, but there’s method in the madness…

THE GOOD

C

‘Him again?  You just said he was a bad thing in this year!’

Yeah, I did, but he’s also been one of the most fabulous things.  Aside from my absolutely obsessive attachment to him, which I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have were I not very fond of him in a non-transferential sense, I believe the therapy is good for me, and is working.  Yes, it has made me more mental, but I believe this is a temporary state.

In being forced to (re)live some of the most horrible things about my past and, to a lesser extent, my present and potential future, it seems inevitable to me that my conditions would be exacerbated.  I had to get worse before I get better.  That was what I expected well before I commenced therapy with C, and that is still my belief.

Additionally, and this is probably related to the transference issues, C is the only person to whom I will talk completely openly.  For a long time, I would literally discuss many (not all) things with him, but it is only in the last couple of months that I really have stopped abstracting things.  I’ve now let my guard down and allow myself to be vulnerable around him, and I trust him.  That kind of relationship, however strangely asymmetrical, is a big achievement for me, and I think if it is allowed to continue as it should that it will pay dividends in terms of my mental health.

Diagnoses

Some people hate them.  There are a number of other mental health bloggers for whom I have the utmost respect that consider diagnoses ‘diagnonsense’.  I do get where they’re coming from, but I am grateful for mine.

It helps me to be able to attribute certain symptoms to an actual illness.  Now I’m not saying I use the conditions as excuses, but they do explain some erratic and bizarre behaviour, and I find that rather comforting.  Furthermore, in saying I have certain illnesses, it makes my range of symptoms part of something, rather than just a nebulous bunch of ‘things’; quantifying it in this way makes it seem more real, I am convinced, to others.  Just throwing the term ‘depression’ out makes it sound like a cop-out (NB. please note that this is not my view of real depression at all – I just think that some people, ignorant of mental health issues, view the word this way.  They believe that “I have depression” equals “I’m depressed,”, which of course those of us who have been there know to be a fallacy).

One further positive I’d add about the diagnoses is that they have enabled me to connect with others that have the same (or similar) disorders.  I will be eternally grateful for that, and for the support and kinship those individuals have given me (see more on this below).

Turkey

Our holiday to Turkey back in September was probably the happiest time of this year.  As I wrote at the time, I felt entirely contented throughout our stay, and indeed we enjoyed it so much that we are returning to a resort close to the one from 2009 again in May 2010.  I will never forget the crystal clear waters, the warmth of the locals and the sheer relaxation of lying about in secluded coves.  Whilst reading Social Factors in the Personality Disorders: A Biopsychosocial Approach to Etiology and Treatment, of course.  I mean, obviously!!!

This Blog

I will always be thankful that I started writing this blog, and indeed that I kept writing this blog.  My initial hope was that it might help me to identify triggers, but to be honest in that regard it hasn’t been as successful as I might have liked.  It has, however, given me a focus – writing is an activity that, despite the sometime difficulty of it, is something that I enjoy, and can direct my energy towards.  It also serves as a chronicle of what has been an extremely difficult period in my life, but one that is also likely to be a highly formative one too, if I don’t end up offing myself.  I’ve found it fascinating to rediscover diaries I kept in the past, and no doubt I shall find the same with this – though I hope that I will still be maintaining this journal well into the future.

I’ve been ever so grateful for the wonderful feedback I’ve been given on this blog too.  Some people find my writing style engaging, which is a huge compliment; others find solace in the fact that they are not alone, as what I’ve written correlates with their experiences and/or feelings; yet others seem to be grateful to learn directly what everyday life, therapy or whatever with my various diagnoses is like.

On a similar note, the blog has enabled me to meet so many people with whom I have found affinity.

Twitter

By far the best thing I have done this year was join Twitter (I’ve met many brilliant people through the account allied to this blog, but even more again through my ‘main’, slightly less anonymous, account).  I have met so many wonderful people – both mentals and non-mentals – through this service that I could not possibly thank them all here, much as I’d like to.  The support, friendship, empathy and, frankly, in some cases love that I have been shown has been a source of immeasurable help, more than the personnel concerned will ever know.

–>  Thank Yous – Twitter

CVM*
K*
@bourach
@woundedgenius / @behindthecouch
@notbovvered
@fromthesamesky
@error505
@an_other
@kimshannon
@helentaustin
@benpolar

* Both of whom I now consider ‘real life’ friends – I have met K and communicate with her most days; I haven’t met CVM, but again communicate with her most days and certainly will meet her when finances and circumstances allow the travel.  I love them both.

The above is far from an exhaustive list, but there are others that I cannot mention to protect either their or my anonymity.  Some to whom I am incredibly grateful are not even aware of the fact that I write this blog.  That does not mean I value them less, however.

–> Thank Yous – Blogging Buddies

Some of the above-named individuals of course keep blogs, but they are not people I met originally through this medium.  The following are.  Thank you to:

Alix Rites
Crazy Mermaid
Borderline Case
The Prozac Queen
Pumpkin
Vanessa
NiroZ (no longer blogging, alas)

Again this is not an exhaustive list.

It is my honestly held belief that were it not for the aforementioned individuals – both the Twitter friends and blogging mates – I would either have killed myself or been horribly sectioned this year.  So thank you to all of you listed, to many not listed, and extra special thanks to a select few – I hope you know who you are.

Friends

Of course, real life friends have been of immense value to me this year too.  I haven’t been fortunate enough to see my best friend D an awful lot, but we’ve have corresponded via email and communicated via the hated telephonic device, so of course I am very grateful for his support.  In spite of an acrimonious break-up of a serious relationship, not to mention other problems, D has still been there for me through all of this sorry year, and for that I am significantly in his debt.

B has also been very supportive.  It’s not that we tend to go into great detail about issues of concern, but he’s just there, and that means a lot.  In particular, like D, his ability to provide a metaphorical shoulder to cry on whilst dealing with significant difficulties in his own personal life is testament to his integrity and the strength of his friendship.

AC has also been great; as well as actually giving a shit and supporting me through mental illness, AC has also been there just for those ordinary, everyday things that friends do together – the theatre, lunch, whatever.  I also must hat-tip DL for this too.

Honourable mentions to A’s friends and family too.  Even though they’re (mostly) not conversant with the finer points of my mentalism, they nonetheless have been a source of fun and comfort.

And of course a re-acknowledgement of CVM and K 🙂

A

Saving the best for last.  He’s seen it all, and it all ain’t pretty.  Yet he is still there.  Still loving, still comforting, still supporting, still protecting, still fighting the corner, still providing, still entertaining, still staying sane.

There are no words.  ‘Thank you’ seems so woefully inadequate, but it is all I have.  I just want to make it publically known that I will always owe a debt of gratitude to A for everything he has put up with this year.

AND FINALLY…

This post might lead you to believe that there was more good than bad this year, and I suppose in the most objective of senses that may be true.  This is why something like CBT will never work therapy-wise for me; it doesn’t matter how much evidence there is or is not for a belief – the belief is still held.  The reasons for the belief need to be explored fully and processed.  But I digress.  My point: 2009 was an absolutely fucking shit year, and I will be glad to see the end of it.

But I have hope.  A small glimmer thereof, but a glimmer nonetheless.  Not of a miraculous cure, but of some stability maybe.  With the help of C (I hope) and the love and support of my fabulous friends, both those in the physical world and those online, there might just be a path to stability somewhere down the line.

Happy New Year folks.  If ‘happy’ is ambitious, then at least I wish you peace and something approaching sanity in 2010.

Yours ever

SI x

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Christmas…Revisited

Posted in Context, Everyday Life, Moods, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 30 December, 2009 by Pandora

I feel I should say a few more words in addition to the last post.  Firstly, thank you all for your concern – to those that commented here, contacted me through Twitter or indeed those that contacted me directly.  I am OK, and all the better for your concern, for which I am extremely grateful.

Despite what I said on Boxing Night, I don’t think a hospital admission is necessary or desirable just at the minute (well, not that it would ever be desirable, but you know what I mean).  It is my belief that the delusions and the severity of the hallucinations the previous day were induced by severe stress, and are hopefully ‘just’ transient.  ‘They’ are usually there these days, even to the extent where they are stealing my thoughts (schizophrenic-esque thought-blocking?) but fortunately their desire to cause harm in the same way as the day they first arrived has not been present since I’ve been taking Olanzapine.

I was discussing with C at the last session (which I have yet to blog about – hopefully by early next week) about how I hadn’t been (consciously) bothered about my history with Paedo until fairly recently.  As this was towards the end of the session, we didn’t have time to explore the possible reasons for that, but no doubt it was lying in my unconscious, unprocessed, the whole time, subtly and insidiously contributing to my chronic depression and severe breakdowns.

Anyway, for whatever reason, it bothers me now, and the feeling of horror and dread about it and about him was very acute on Christmas Day.  The McFs were going out for Christmas Dinner (good, because it meant slightly less claustrophobia), but it started out badly when it was decided (after an unnecessarily protracted debate) that A and I would travel to the restaurant alone with Paedo and MMcF.  It was an utterly vile 20 minutes trying to make smalltalk with the two of them and when MMcF surreptitiously handed me £10 to buy A and myself a drink, she said, “I hope you have a very happy Christmas,” causing me to laugh incredulously in her face.

By the time we arrived at the restaurant I was highly agitated, and upon sitting down (trying and failing to not be close to Paedo) downed two Valium.  It was not just him.  It really was not just him.  There were about 16 or 17 people around the table, and I just cannot tolerate that.  Groups make me endlessly nervous, especially when they are all talking loudly and demandingly at once, and especially when (despite knowing them all my life) I am deeply nervous around and have nothing in common whatsoever with the personnel concerned.  My history with Paedo just exacerbated something that would have already been there.

The Valium helped, and I relaxed a bit, but it was still bloody awful.  The meal was nice enough, but I threw half of it up and my IBS was out of control.  A and I forced our way through it, but the worst was yet to come.  Rather than go back to MMcF’s house after dinner, it had been decided to go to SL’s.  I have nothing against SL and her husband, but for some reason the dynamic in their house is always different from elsewhere; everyone congregates in the same room on top of each other, whereas back at MMcF’s, at least people break into factions, making the group more manageable.

SL’s was tortuous.  The overbearing crowd, the inanity of the stilted conversation, the obsessive fixation with MW (whose nose will be put out of joint when his sibling is born in March), my mind recalling my history with Paedo and my Mum’s disbelief when I told her about it – it all got on top of me, and indeed of poor A.

‘They’ had been telling me all day what a horrid, fetid slag I am, but I’ve learnt to…not ignore them, and not push them to the back of my head, because that’s where they reside anyway.  I don’t know; I’ve learnt how to not respond to them, I suppose, when they are wittering on like this, which is a lot of the time.  However, it’s pretty much not possible to fight them when they turn into the all-powerful screaming cacophony that they were the first day I encountered them.

Well, didn’t they start it again, just as we had managed to escape the worst bit of sitting about in the living room, joining as we did ScumFan and DMcF, who were playing the X-Box in the kitchen.  ‘They’ started screaming at me that I was evil for keeping my mouth shut about the rape and the molestation, that I had put all the other generations at risk and that it would therefore be a mercy for me to “eliminate” MW, given that he could expect “nothing but” the same fate from his great-grandfather.  I tried to ignore them, really I tried, but the more I fought them, the more and more effort they put into their critical wailing.  I was ordered to go to where MW was sleeping and smother him.

Of course, the last thing in the world I want to do is kill someone, especially not an innocent kid, so by this point I was hiding behind A and covering my ears and muttering a poem (as well as some ‘shut ups’) in order to try and distract myself.  The next thing I remember was being in the utility room in tears banging my head against the washing machine (!).  I tried to get past A, who was standing their blocking my exit, but he wouldn’t let me past for fear that ‘They’ might have successfully compelled me to go to MW’s room.  I think I slid down the wall in defeated resignation then; I was convinced ‘They’ had finally taken complete control of my mind.  The fight was over.

Well, luckily ‘They’ hadn’t managed to take control, and the fight wasn’t over.  I honestly don’t recall how this all finished, but the next thing of which I do have a clear recollection was having a discussion about something or other with SL, MW’s mother, in a calm, almost seemingly jolly fashion.  Yet all the time I was thinking, “the voices in my head just now wanted me to murder your baby son, you know.”  Thank God people generally can’t read my mind.

When A and I went to bed, and I don’t remember saying any of this, apparently I was convinced that A was not A but in fact his sister.  I also apparently believed that ScumFan – surely the most innocent and naive of young men – was involved in a serious way with drugs.  Needless to say, these ridiculous delusions disturbed A considerably.  And then, thanks to Zopiclone…nothing.

Boxing Day was better than Christmas Day, but still awful.  In the morning, I completely defied ‘They’ by playing with MW as I normally would (obviously in others’ company).  ‘They’ mumbled and whined a little like they usually do, but mercifully it was nothing with which I could not deal, and at no point did they try to persuade me to harm the baby.  Shortly after midday, A and I headed off to his father’s house.

Normally, it’s just A, his father, step-mother and me for Boxing Day, but on this occasion his aunt and her husband turned up.  I just wanted to sit and vegetate, as is the norm on our visits to A’s Dad’s, but the aunt would not shut up for more than three seconds.  Nice enough woman, but she began to grate on me not just through her constant demands for conversation, but also as she made underhand insults directed at A, inferring (and not at all subtly) that he was less intelligent than her children (which is not true, but since they have degrees from Oxford she feels that it is so, apparently).  A told me later that she had been intensely jealous of his parents when it was realised that he was a smart kid, and she always wanted to better them.  What a poor, sad cow.  How pathetic and meaningless must one’s life be to be so utterly fixated on bringing up intelligent children simply to compete with others?

One thing I’ll say in her defence was that despite her laughable level of inebriation she didn’t at any point attempt to embarrass me by quizzing me on the reasons for my present lack of employment, presumably having been warned in advance by A’s step-mother not to do so.  It’s not that I’m ashamed of being mental, but it’s hard to convince people of the sincerity of the conditions sometimes, especially (I’d imagine) when they’re as plastered as she was.

Eventually A and I escaped to his mother and step-father’s house, which is always fairly relaxed.  Upon getting in, knowing I wouldn’t have to drive again, I opened a bottle of red and downed it in literally about five minutes.

And now it is over.  It is over.  There surely is a God!  We are keeping out of everyone’s way on New Year’s Eve, having booked into a hotel for the night.  We’re not attending any function – we’re just going to sit in either a quiet corner of the bar, or in our room with a bottle of wine.  Alone.  All a-fucking-amazingly-lone.  Then, on Sunday 3 January, we’re going to another hotel, this time for two nights, thus using a Christmas present from A’s mother.  Both hotels are fairly plush, with pools, nice restaurants and bars, beautiful settings and privacy.  AI hope these will prove just what is needed as a tonic to the horrors of the past week.

I had strongly considered killing myself on Boxing Morning, but I need to remain alive for the duration of these sojourns, as I hope they will serve to relax me and hopefully mentally prepare me in some small way for the year ahead.

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Christmas…

Posted in Context, Everyday Life, Moods with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Saturday, 26 December, 2009 by Pandora

…has been fucking awful. I had a complete psychotic break on Christmas Night after the stress of engaging with the MMcFs (and in particular Paedo) all day and heard ‘They’ telling me to kill MW. Obvioulsly I didn’t. I also told A, apparently believing completely, that ScumFan was a drug-dealer (he’s not) and that A was actually his sister in disguise (!).

Boxing Day has been a fucking nightmare too, though on a lesser scale. But the psychoses of last night are what matters. It is time to be hospitalised.

‘They’ told me that smothering MW would be “a mercy”. Maybe or maybe not, the very thought of harming him is beyond contempt.

Enough is enough.


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The Advocacy Letter

Posted in C, Context, Everyday Life, psychiatry, Psychotherapy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Thursday, 17 December, 2009 by Pandora

Dear Sir or Madam

Re: Advocacy in Accessing Mental Health Services

I am writing to enquire as to my rights and to what extent you can assist me in accessing the services to which I am entitled.  I am diagnosed with borderline personality disorder with psychotic features with a possible co-morbidity of bipolar disorder, type II.  I take anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medication, and although I only received the diagnoses in June 2009, I have been utilising mental health services both on the NHS and  in the private sector since 1998 (having originally been diagnosed with clinical depression and social anxiety).  The care that the NHS has provided has always been wholly inadequate; until recently, any therapy I have been offered has either not come to fruition, has ended abruptly or, in one incident, has seen me being regarded with outright hostility.

Since 29 February 2009 I have been seeing a clinical psychologist on a weekly basis for psychotherapy broadly of a psychodynamic nature (though the  approach is integrative).  As of today’s date, we have had 35 sessions in total. It has taken me some time to fully open up to and to trust this psychotherapist, but now that I have, I feel that progress is being made, albeit slowly.  I believe that further progress can be made through this relationship.

Unfortunately, my psychologist has informed me that he can only continue to offer me therapy for 24 further weeks (starting from the next session).  This would, of course, equal 59 total weeks of therapy (including three assessment sessions at the start, and four sessions to end the therapy).

As you will be aware, all published research on borderline personality disorder strongly recommends long-term therapy for the condition. Indeed, NHS and NICE guidelines on this illness and on personality disorders in general completely contradict the view that one year’s worth of psychotherapy is remotely adequate treatment.  I believe that the New Horizons consultation recently undertaken by the health service would not support this situation either.  I strongly believe that not only is long-term treatment advisable, it is in fact necessary to deal effectively with my condition and therefore I feel that it is my entitlement.

Whilst I appreciate that resources are limited, I am frankly disgusted by the postcode lottery that seems to be in operation.  For example, I am aware that there is a specific self-harm team within the <other NI area> Trust – whilst self-harm is not, of course, by any means the only symptom of BPD, I am sure that this team would work frequently with individuals with this diagnosis and would thus understand it well.  Furthermore, I am familiar with several other individuals that have this (and other) disorders – in most cases less severe than mine – that have received guarantees of treatment lasting at least two years (in some cases) and three years (in one).  I have yet to encounter a single other individual who has received only a year’s guaranteed treatment.  My psychologist himself admits that ideally BPD should be treated twice a week for a minimum of 18 months.

I believe that if therapy comes to an end as proposed that I will in fact undergo a significant regression, and probably end up utilising yet more NHS resources.  I am unable to work, and am in the regrettable position of being dependant on state benefits – a situation that I abhor.  Any saving of government resources in cutting short my treatment is, therefore, a false economy.  I also feel that the worry of treatment coming to a close will overshadow my relationship with my therapist thus preventing us from tackling more substantive issues together in the relatively short period we have remaining.

Additionally, I understand from the various guidelines from the health service that multi-disciplinary approaches are considered desirable and indeed necessary for personality disorders.  To that end, I am surprised that I have never been offered access to the CMHT’s social workers, CPNs or occupational therapists, despite presenting symptoms perhaps best dealt with by such individuals in conjunction with my psychologist.  Although I have had one experience of the Crisis Response Team (which, I might add, was an utterly appalling meeting), I have never been advised on how to contact them again in an emergency, of which I have had several in the past year.

I am not prepared for the NHS to once again treat me as a second class service user and am prepared to contact MLAs, MPs, the relevant Minister and Permanent Secretary, and indeed the media in order to obtain the treatment to which I am entitled.  I would therefore be strongly grateful for your advice and assistance on (a) ensuring that I obtain a guarantee of continued psychotherapy, in line with NHS guidelines on the longevity of same; (b) ensuring that said psychotherapy can preferably continue with the therapist I presently see, as of course issues of trust and abandonment are a big part of this illness; and (c) ensuring that I can have access to the full range of services from the CMHT and the Crisis Team in an emergency.

As you know, borderline personality disorder, especially when psychosis is involved, is a severe mental illness and in this case has not been taken seriously.  I feel that this matter is urgent and desperate, and to that end would be very grateful for your help and advice.  Should you require further details, or if you would simply prefer to correspond via another medium, please do not hesitate to contact me via email on <my email address>.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you in advance.

Yours etc.

Copy to: Chief Executive of my Trust

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