4 August 2009

Back in Black

Call off the search party; I’m back. Everything has been moving and changing so quickly that I haven’t had a chance to sit down. But I’ve forced myself to update you all so here I am.

So what has happened in the last two months or so to cause me to become MIA? Well...I’ve moved house to be nearer to work, just for the summer, after that I’ll be off back to university after my council decided that not funding me was actually a pretty stupid decision...funny that. My working hours have increased due to the great British summer starting. Lots of kiddies needing science to be explained in a “fun and engaging” way and only about five of us employed to do it. And lastly but not least, I’m in a new relationship. About a month and a half in now and surprisingly it’s going well.

Yet, despite all this, despite all these positives in my life, despite the fact that for the first time in a while my life is looking up, I’m sitting here being immersed by dark thoughts. It’s finally dawned on me that actually, I have no control over this, no matter how great my life is, this depression, this life draining illness will still be there, sucking all energy from me. I always kidded myself in the past that once I was in a stable relationship, once I had a job I was happy with, once I had a purpose, this depression would go away, just like that, but it doesn’t, it stays, gripping onto you.

And this is why I’m here. Getting back into writing I’m hoping that maybe, just maybe, I’ll make some sense of it all, straighten out my thoughts at least. Because of my working hours I haven’t been able to see my care coordinator for two weeks. She wants me to start CBT, despite my reservations, but I can’t afford to cut my hours. I’ll just have to get through the summer, settle down on my course in October and start the long road to recovery once again.

Looks like I'm here for the long run, and that fact is hard to take.

13 June 2009

How Screwed Up Can The System Get?

ARRGGGHHH!!! I hate Student Finance. I hate them with every pathetic cell of my worthless body.

So I pulled out of my course during my second year. It seemed like the right thing to do as I was in such a dark place that I downed a handful of painkillers to get away. They have all of this medical evidence saying that I’ve been suffering from major depression for a considerable amount of time, that it was professional medical advice that I took a break and yet they are now cutting my funding by £3225 for next year because of it.

So here I am getting punished for finally listening to my doctor and making a proper go at getting my mind sorted. Great.

You know that if I had to pull out of the course because my kidneys shut down, for example, I bet I wouldn’t be in this position. We just can’t get away from it, this damn stigma behind any sort of mental illness. Depression to them is code for “couldn’t cope with the course because she was too lazy”.

I’m going back to Wales tomorrow to go to my council personally and try and get this sorted. I have yet more letters from my university and doctor all saying I had no choice to pull out and that being punished for it is unjustified. I’m not sure what I’m going to do if they won’t change their mind. There’s no way I can afford my course next year if they don’t fund it.

I just don’t want to think about what that is going to do to me...

3 June 2009

Needing a Hug

I desperately feel like crying at the moment and it's frustrating as I've got through the last few days without feeling remotely like this. I don't know why I've been hit by this feeling right now, but I have, and I just feel...alone. I just want someone, anyone, to take me into their arms and tell me that everything will be OK, and mean it.

I don't feel like I have a close friend right now and I think that's contributing to these random bouts of loneliness. It's complete nonsense of course, and not rational thinking in the slightest, but I just feel, deep down, that I haven't really got someone here with me that I can rely on. The conversations I have with my housemates are superficial, How was work? How was your day? They're brief, to the point and any effort I put in to have a more meaningful conversation is put to waste with the one word responses.

I just feel that I'm being pushed to the side at the moment and no matter how many times I tell myself that this is completely irrational, my mind just doesn't seem to want to listen.

Maybe if I knock myself to sleep I'll get through the worst of it and wake up tomorrow looking back at how stupid I was. Positive thinking and all that, that's what my therapist drums into me.

We'll see...

26 May 2009

Uncomfortably Numb

I’m at a loss. Everything is telling me that I should be happy but instead I am the complete opposite. The job interview I had a couple of weeks back resulted in a job offer that I gratefully accepted and after spending the day filling in form upon form my first day has been arranged for Saturday. To all purpose it’s a dream job for me; a science explainer at a science centre/museum but right now I just can’t build up any enthusiasm. Slight issue when your job is to get kids thinking science is cool.

It sounds weird but I actually physically feel empty inside. For the last few days I’ve been constantly lightheaded and my body feels like it has no substance to it. Keeping my eyes open has resorted to wedging matchsticks in-between my eyelids...ok, maybe not, but you get the idea...but once I settle down to sleep I can’t drop off, not even my sleeping tablets could knock me out last night.

So, here I am, trying to will some life into me. Could be here a while...

18 May 2009

Another Night

Another night I sit here hopelessly wishing the pain would stop. Another night I sit here praying for everything to be over. It shouldn’t surprise me anymore. It has always hit at night; the empty numbness that inhabits my body always awakens fully as the sun descends. And so I sit here yet again, feeling the facade slip, the day’s resolve fading into nothingness.

It’s ironic. Relationships. Friendships. Things which are synonymous with love and support. It’s ironic how they exacerbate the very things they are supposed to shielding against. I spend my days living inside myself. People walk on eggshells around me, and to some extent I do the same. They choose to ignore how desperately I’m screaming inside and instead focus on the smile on my face and the laughter in my voice. They don’t want to admit that inside I am a fortress of hatred and self-disgust. After all, ignorance is bliss.

It has become a vicious cycle. The lies, the hidden torment, the silence, the alienation. It is so much easier to fight yourself, to hurt and blame yourself than to do it to people you love. And they let me. That is the worst part. They don’t question the dark circles around my eyes or the changes in behaviour. No one sees me flinching back, cancelling plans, making excuses left right and centre. Sometimes they will ask me how I am but I know that they really don’t want to know. So once again I will smile and lie. It has become a second nature. I can’t imagine my life without it anymore.

If only I could lie to my heart with such ease. If only I could pacify the loneliness that way and convince myself that the pain and emptiness inside me is only temporary. Oh how easy it would be then. But of course it doesn’t work that way. The more I pretend, the harder it gets. Shame and guilt builds up and I know that it has taken over my life. I have reached the point where it has taken over everything. It’s all I feel. A deep, piercing ache that takes away my breath. I can’t do anything to stop it. Instead, I am now reduced to praying to a God I don’t believe in to show me some mercy and then maybe, just maybe I won’t wake up again in the morning. But then, that prospect also scares me and I find myself stuck.

My life is full of contradictions. I yearn for people’s affection yet I push away the few who care. I hide behind my facade hoping that today will be the day they build up the courage to confront it but at the same time hoping that they do not. And so I am lost. Lost and alone in world filled with so many people. Time is nothing but a broken watch in my pocket as the numbness takes its fill, sucking on my very being. I am falling now, falling into the abyss that has become my second home.

And so another night I sit here, desperately trying to grasp onto something to stop my fall but I know it is hopeless. This night is lost to me now. Another night lost in the dark lonely void that tortures my life. I can only hope now, as I always do, that tomorrow won’t be the same.

7 May 2009

My 5 Rules For Life

Insomnia has hit once again and while I am waiting for my tablets to kick in I have decided to write five rules in which I live my life by:

1. Breathe – remember to inhale and exhale deeply throughout the day. Oxygen is renewable, good for you, and currently tax free so enjoy it while you can.

2. Do not wear underpants over your trousers. It does not give you the ability to fly like Superman, just makes you look incredibly silly.

3. Don’t be afraid to experiment in life. Take chances, be carefree. You never know if you’re going to like something until you try it. Don’t be afraid of life, grasp it with both hands and experience all it has to offer.

4. Hug at least one person a day. Preferably someone who knows you, but if hugging random strangers in the street is your thing, who am I to stop you.

5. Never take for granted the sound of silence.


5 May 2009

Failure in Care Systems

How many tragedies need to happen before the NHS realise that its care services for mental health patients are far below satisfactory?

A man suffering from paranoia and schizophrenia stabbed a 25 year old mother in 2006 and today evidence has been shown that a number of failing in his care could’ve prevented this tragedy. The report (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/humber/8034521.stm) found that his condition was under treated and not effectively managed. He had even been assessed two days before the stabbing.

I, someone who has seen firsthand the failures in mental health treatment here, am not surprised in the slightest by the findings. My story, albeit not as extreme as this one, shows a number of failings and has led to many preventable suicidal moments.

Let’s start when I was hospitalised after my overdose in February. My answer to the question “If you had more painkillers on you, would you have taken them?” was “Almost certainly”. This led for the doctors to call for a proper psychiatric assessment which I had later that week. All good so far but this is where it starts to go downhill. The psychologist asked for an appointment at North End House, a mental health care unit where I could get long term treatment in terms of therapy, counselling, CBT, etc. After two weeks I still hadn’t heard anything. My GP sent a letter asking them again to make an appointment with me. I was still very suicidal and after a talk with my university tutor, he sent me for an emergency appointment with another doctor as it was obvious I was close to doing something very stupid. That doctor phoned and sent another letter to North End House asking what the hell they were playing at and low and behold a few days later I’m told that I have an appointment in a week or so. A full month after my overdose.

The appointment turned out to be another assessment and I yet again went through the ins and outs of my life, the whys and hows of February’s event. It was coming up to Easter at this point and I would be on my own in my house for a 4 weeks or so. I mentioned this, stating that I felt very vulnerable about it and would appreciate some extra support. The woman agreed and said they would get in contact soon. 4 weeks later. Nothing. I hadn’t heard anything from them over Easter and to this day I still don’t know how I got through it in one piece. It takes another week and THREE different doctors to finally get me an appointment. I get a half hearted apology saying that there had been some changes and my file must’ve slipped through the net.

Finally I was assigned someone and she is meant to be in charge of all my care. After a few late night phone calls to my crisis team (the only thing that’s actually a positive in the care system) and them assuring me that my care woman would phone the next day, it takes a week before she phones, the day before our appointment. During the first appointment she then leaves early saying that there has been an ‘emergency’. I was completely lost for the rest of the day. This was during my bad week (see previous posts) and I desperately needed some sort of support.

This week she is currently sunbathing in Portugal. Fair enough, I can forgive that, everyone needs a break, but I have been assigned no one as a backup. I feel failed, a burden that people can’t be bothered to look out for. More dangerously, I feel the need to prove that the system is failing. I want to make them feel guilty about how they treat people. My head is full of these dark, selfish, stupid thoughts at the worst possible time. I only hope, for their sakes as well as mine that I’m able to compose myself and keep these thoughts locked away because something needs to change. I can see plenty more tragedies to come is things carry on the way they are.

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