Monthly Archives: October 2014

humbling

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Driving to the caravan on Saturday, over half way here I realised I had left my tablets at home… 😦 Soooo frustrating. In that moment I had to decide whether I would turn around to get them or I would just hope for the best and miss some doses.

I need to say that I decided not to turn around. Hephzibah, I am sorry that you did that to yourself.

In the bottom of my bag I found some stray tablets that would enable me to fudge through. Friends were visiting on Monday, so I knew I could get some to them to bring with them.

I am humbled. My sister drove 1.5 hours each way to bring my tablets to me. I didn’t ask her to. But she and her husband did.

I should have done that for myself. The more I think and chat with others I realise that loving yourself and caring for yourself like we care for others is difficult. How much more pleasant life could be for everyone if we could just be nicer to ourselves.

Thanks for listening.

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I am learning

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Once again, I realise this will come into people’s inboxes in the wrong order… start with the oldest one first!

In my previous post I described the events of a Saturday a few weeks ago… horrible! This Sunday I had a similar situation, but I handled it differently… which was really great 🙂

I am on half term. I have decided to go to the caravan. Saturday night a friend stayed over, but she left early Sunday morning. 9am, and the black cloud descends. I remembered where I went wrong before. I took a deep breath and prepared for moment by moment combat. Potentially I would have to go from skill to skill, hour by hour to manage. I did. and I did.

I have been doing lots of colouring of mandalas. I then walked. I then watched X Factor. I then went to the clubhouse to get some internet. I ate. I text. I did it.

Today has been similar. I have coloured, washed up, ate, walked and now I am sitting in a vintage tea room using their internet and blogging. I am slightly on the edge. If I wasn’t intentional I could envisage the slip. So I need a plan. I am looking at the sea, sitting in the wind. Eating a cream tea (sorry Daniel!) I need internet to blog. I have tried writing posts on word and then uploading at a different point- it isn’t quite the same… the power of blogging for me, is being heard. Being heard by myself and by others. I am having to buy expensive drinks to justify my use of their internet and chairs- but I have to give myself this gift.

I find that tricky.. but I’m going to do it.

Thanks for listening.

back to the title- it really is an illness

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My blog is entitled from BP to BPD to DBT… from Bipolar to Borderline Personality Disorder to Dialectical Behaviour Therapy… what a mouthful! I won’t go over all this again, but feel free to read my first few posts to get the background!

I haven’t quite got the energy to go over everything of the last couple of weeks, suffice to say, that my diagnosis has been reverted back to bipolar disorder, more specifically cyclothymia. I have increased my medication (which is helping) and I need to decide whether I start lithium. I plan to talk this through with friends, however, the issue being I don’t quite have the energy to talk about it!

The purpose of this post, is for me to clarify my own thoughts about mental illness. I had an awful day a couple of Saturdays ago when I think I really saw clearly that depression is an illness. An awful. Thieving. Rotten illness.

I saw Penelope after a break of 3 weeks. I think she realised quite quickly that I was not in such a good place. And as I would want and expect she was pretty tough on me. She acknowledged my situation but she wasn’t really having any of it. Wallowing in my sadness was no way on her agenda. We made plans, set agendas, agreed agreements and armed me with my homework which was basically, get out of bed, go walking, eat more fruit and veg, cut out refined sugar and talk to people. If only it were that easy.

The next morning I got myself out of bed before our agreed time…. tick. I went for a briskest walk…. tick. Came home, was feeling great. Sorted. The skills work!!!! I can do this!!! I can beat this!!! Just do as I’m told and I’ll be ok. I won’t get bad again because I’ve done DBT, I have Penelope. I can do this!!! I was almost excited with the potential of change.

15 mins later, I am in a black heap paralysed on my sofa. It didn’t last. Getting up and going for a walk, hadn’t cured me. It was still only 9.30 I was dying. I couldn’t understand it. If I was making up feeling depressed and then did the right thing, surely I wouldn’t feel like this. I was floored. Unfortunately I remained floored most of that weekend.

At my next session we talked through what had happened.

a) I still am in a place where I think I am making things up 😦

b) I had utterly unrealistic expectations. I thought getting up and walking would make the day ok. It didn’t- it made that hour or so manageable, but it was never going to be a cure.

c) I have the skills, but managing depression is a moment by moment condition. After the walk when I dipped, I should have then worked on some more skills. I should have continued to self-soothe and distract. Instead I couldn’t understand why I was like the way I was. and it spiralled. Unfortunately into some self-destructive behaviour (sorry 😦 )

d) depression is an illness. it doesn’t always play by the rules. It needs continuous treatment when in an acute episode and it needs preventative treatment when not in crisis.

e) we discussed that whether I have BP or BPD is irrelevant in one sense. I currently have a mood disorder that means I have to be aware of it all the time. That is actually quite freeing. Thinking in terms of well/ not well… doesn’t help me. When I feel ‘well’ I want to forget/ deny my struggles, the issue with that is when I am not so well, it comes as such a shock.

I’m learning.

Thanks for listening.

Reading the Signs

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Wow, the last few weeks have been difficult. Unexpectedly. Shockingly. Scarily. It wasn’t quite meant to be this way. I was never going to be like this ever again. It wasn’t part of the plan. I read the signs wrong.

A couple of months ago I knew I was very tired. Very tired. I also presumed it was because I had started my new role in my school and it has been fairly busy. I was proud of myself for listening to my body. I was trying to show compassion to myself and therefore made adjustments to my schedule. I was trying to do the right thing and look after myself. But I got it wrong… I failed to notice that my tiredness was not exhaustion but depression. And my strategies for managing my tiredness had inadvertently made my depression worse. In a bid to conserve energy I cut out lots of my social activities. I focussed just on getting through work and trying to sleep.

The consequence of this was that my sense of isolation increased. I wasn’t talking or seeing people who love me. I was spending far too much time in bed. Resting was making me more tired not less. But I had my moment of clarity a few weeks ago- and it has been pretty awful since!

I wasn’t ever meant to feel depressed ever again. I was cured. That was the past. There was no reason for it, I am the happiest and most fulfilled I think I have ever been. I’m not sure what has been worse, the black cloud suffocating me or the terror of being like I was two years ago. It has been tricky.

But I am now reading the signs correctly. It doesn’t particularly make it any easier but it does mean that my actions should eventually help me not exacerbate it. My thinking is muddled. Even writing, which comes very easily to me is more challenging. Nothing is quite as ordered as I usually like it! But in my heart I know two things… at least I was trying to read the signs and secondly, I can now see the signs more correctly. I have a long way to go.

Thanks for listening.

Contamination 2!

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I have another friend who is in her early 80’s. I have known her since I was about 10 and completely coincidentally she lives 5/10 mins away from my new school. (My sister often jokes that I should open an old-people’s home, which I could fill with my friends!)

I love Ethel. She is sparky, good fun to be with and intellectually I enjoy her company. She is also extremely opinionated and bossy! The beginning of term has been busy at my new school. I had to make an early conscious decision that getting through work and trying to sleep were pretty much going to be my sole priorities for a while. Survival, especially of the physical kind.

Ethel made noises of support and understanding regarding this. She would say things like she knew I was busy, not to worry about seeing her… I had lots on etc… but of course, not only was this true, but I was also going to Thelma the caravan at weekends. I was feeling guilty and Ethel began to make noises of discontent.

As some of you know I’ve been in this position before. I also know that a ‘quick’ phone call or ‘popping in and out’ just isn’t good enough. If it’s quick, I get in to trouble for that, and if it’s not very frequent I get in to trouble for that!

I didn’t tell Ethel about the caravan. I want to get to a point where I don’t always feel I have to tell everyone everything. One of the reasons I like blogging is that I am in charge of what I do or do not say. Blogging feels like a precious gift in that respect.

I rang Ethel from school seeing if she wanted to come and meet me for lunch. She couldn’t make it. But I literally couldn’t offer another date in that moment, I just didn’t know when I was going to be able to see her for long enough. She asked about the weekend, but of course I wanted to go to Thelma. I said I would ring back with an alternative. She replied, “Don’t make it too far away, I might be dead by then- you haven’t got me around for much longer, so get a move on!”

She was partly joking but I also know she was serious. She however, would not have known that every time I see or speak to anyone at the moment, Im slightly anxiety-ridden that they are going to die on me and that will be my last dealing with them. I’ve been like this for years with my brother. Every time I leave his home I think I might never see him again. But I’ve noticed recently I’m doing that with most people. The reality is that at some point, it will be my last interaction with him or anyone, but I don’t find it very liberating to be panicked by imminent death. Ethel is elderly. But her saying that was difficult for me.

I feel like I am having to choose caravan or Ethel, caravan or Maud. The challenge is to choose me. And I find that so difficult, I can sense my heart rate increasing even writing this. I have to manage myself to know that if Ethel or Maud die while I’m at the caravan (or doing anything that doesn’t include them) I can manage the potential guilt. Thelma the caravan is bringing it’s issues!

Thanks for listening.

Contamination

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While discussing the caravan with Penelope in a DBT session- 2 words became a common theme.

1) Haven and

2) Contamination

The potential of a haven. The lure of a sanctuary. The place of an oasis.

Thelma (as my caravan is currently called) has already been and hopefully will continue to be all of these, as well as a lot of fun!

However, so has contamination already been and will continue to be unless I change my behaviour. One of the DBT modules is ‘Interpersonal Effectiveness’, the ability to say no, to ask for what I need and maybe even shock horror to ask for what I want. It is in many ways the module I have had most difficulty with. And I know that until I change and do things differently the same patterns will keep recurring.

Contamination 1.

The contamination started almost immediately. I have a wonderful 83 year old neighbour. She is special to me, she is also declining rapidly with dementia. I go in every day and sit and have tea and crumpets with her while watching The Chase quiz show. However, I have known for a long time that she becomes increasingly cross if for some reason I cannot make that visit. I have also felt increasingly under pressure to make sure I’m home in time for 5 pm or if I’m not, ringing her to let her know. I am at the point that if I am home at 5 pm there is absolutely no way I would feel able to not go in and see her.

My first weekend at Thelma’s (the caravan) I didn’t want to go in to the whole facts of my exclusive rent- I just said I was visiting a caravan with a friend. She immediately responded how much she loved caravans and wished she could get away. I shrunk a little inside, feeling automatically that I should invite her. I didn’t.

The following weekend when I went again, her response was a little more aggressive and I am shrivelling out of guilt. She now tries different approaches- slight aggression, pointed sarcastic comments and blatant emotional blackmail. And I am holding on with dear life not to give in and invite her. (mainly because I know I shouldn’t to protect my safe place but also Penelope would go mad!) I really wouldn’t mind a day visit, but it is too far for me to do just for a day. Having her stay over is a liability that I just don’t want to do. I also know, that just like The Chase, I could so easily set myself up for a routine that I then feel unable to break. There is part of me dreading telling her I’m off again this weekend. But it is me that has to change not her.

More contaminations to follow… but it’s coming up to 5pm and I have to go next door!

Thanks for listening