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Posts from August 2010

  • Fourth day of CBT

    by JustEliza on 18 August 2010


    My therapist had a long talk with his supervisor about me. He revealed it suddenly, as though he wanted to say something else but couldn’t, and just as suddenly tried to explain himself, in anticipation of my own anxiety about breaches of confidentiality. But I’m not an ordinary service user. I know mental health workers discuss cases with supervisors and, where appropriate, their teams. It gives me more confidence and faith in the system to know therapists are supported. His concern was misplaced.


    I’m no longer participating in cognitive behavioural therapy. [Avoidant tendencies, check] This is more than how frustrated I felt on my third day. Maybe it has to do with my therapist’s “long talk.” He has noted several times during our meetings how anxious and upset I was talking to him as though it was unexpected of me to be anxious and upset talking to a complete stranger whose sole role is to judge, challenge, change, and support you. What did he want me to say? Correct; I struggle to trust strangers who smile at me on the street, muchless strangers who have the ability to section me.


    I agreed to step up my care to a clinical psychologist who would be better suited to help me using alternative therapeutic models. So, in a way, I was right last week. I like to think that my therapist’s supervisor found my case so interesting that she wanted to meet me herself. [Narcissistic tendencies, check]


    In truth, I felt both relieved and guilty.


    When I offered to quit entirely, my therapist’s reaction was immediately and strongly NO. I wasn’t even testing him; I really do want to quit. I work in healthcare; I know how precious these resources are. Someone else needs him more. I’ve coped for years. I can cope for more. But, NO. Apparently, NO.


    The Guilt:  Why would the NHS want to help me?


    I’m not a risk to others. I’m not a risk to myself. I obey the law. I don’t misuse substances. I am intelligent. I am independent. I am hopeful. I contribute meaningfully and financially to society through work, volunteering, and community events.


    Flip the coin.


    I have a personality disorder, and I don’t even have the decency to be a vulnerable child, an offender, or a woman who self-harms. I am Other. I am less than 1% of the general population. No NICE guidelines exist for how to help me.


    Stick my smiling face up on a poster. It’s possible to have “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the culture of the individual who exhibits it” and still succeed.  It’s possible to succeed and still be broken.


    Or in my case, in exile.


    JustEliza says she's 'spent most of my life trying to solve the puzzle that is me'



    The Relief: I found me.


    A step up the mental health ladder means that something must be really wrong with me. All my Stigma bells rang when my therapist suggested I see the clinical psychologist instead. I knew the sorts of people who needed clinical psychologists. I never imagined myself one of them. Not even when I agreed.


    Later that day, I devoured commissioning guidelines and service frameworks and, finally, diagnostic criteria on personality disorders. One link, after another, and then: I found me.


    Take that, Clinical Psychologist. I’m one step ahead of you. I’m weak in the knees, fuzzy in the head, and filled with a sparkling mix of intimacy and revulsion at this discovery (and doesn’t that pretty much confirm it all). I have my ICD-10 code. I have my “emotional anatomy.”


    Now, the reconciliation can finally begin.

  • dang ol'

    by eleni valentine on 17 August 2010

    big hurt, man.

    its back and its black and its miserable and cold and its lonely and oh god it hurts so damn much.


    dang ol' big hurt.


  • I always said that I would never work in an office, it's would kill me.  being stuck in front of a computer all day doing the same stuff over and over again would end me, I just couldn't do it.  Funny how things turn out, isn't it?  My boss has gone away for two weeks and at first I was quite excited, thinking this was my chance to prove myself, get some brownie points.  Her first day off and I crumbled.  I just couldn't do it.  I'm already a complete failure without this.  Work doens't know I have depression.  I like being able to go to work and people not knowing, not giving me that look.  I also thought it was personal, and as it didn't effect my work that they didn't need to know about it.  Who have I been kidding?  I'm possible at my worst point since being diagnosed, my boss has left me to do her job and it looks like I could be getting someone elses job to do too because she "doesn't like it anymore" and started crying at her desk.  I'm not being horrible to her, dealing with complaints really does suck but even if I wanted to I couldn't possibly taken them back on, I can't even manage the two jobs I'm doing now, let alone giving me 3 people's jobs to do!  Like I said in my last blog, I'm having a pretty rough time at the moment.  Liek the drugs aren't working.  And it's still goign on!  10 days now.  10 DAYS!  If I dodn't have my rock of a boyfriend I don't think I would have made it this far.  He really has supported me so much and I love him for it.  I feel better for writing all this out, it has to be said, but I guess that's the idea behind this blog isn't it?  I feel like I'm back at school..."I don't want to go back tomorrow, it's too hard."  I really don't want to go back to work, but I will.  I've had my moan on now, and I've just realised the time, so I'm going to get going.


    Good Night & Good Luck

  • It's Been Some Time

    by Everybody Lies on 15 August 2010

    I really need to keep this up to date!  Quick re-cap: got depression, on fluoxetine, was coping, then not, tried every other anti depressant on the face of the earth, didn't like them, back on fluoxetine, still struggeling.

    What've found is every once in a while I will really struggle, like the drugs aren't having any effect.  This time the feeling has lasted 9 days about, which is really long, it's usually only a few days, never more than a week.  I told the doc that I was constantly tired and had to go to bed at 10pm everynight but I was still struggling to drag myself out of bed on a morning for work.  Doc suggested taking the drugs on a night, which I did, which meant I couldn't sleep and REALLY couldn't get out of bed on a morning.  Hence me reverting to taking them on a morning again.  When I told the doc about how every so often it's like the drugs aren't working she kind of just looked at me, as if I was hinting for some more drugs or blantently lying :S  Her answer to this was, "This is very rare, I've never even heard of this happening.  If you feel like you need to, double up on the fluoxetine."  Hmm, interesting.   I've tried doubling up, even trippled up once, but to no avail.  I still can't shake this "episode" of the drugs seemingly haveing no effect.  Who knows what i'll have to try next, I've tried all the drugs possible but I don't know.  Any suggestions guys?  You're normally pretty good at this kind of stuff.  I'm pretty new at this whole depression thing, only been on meds for 2 years ish.  Being 20 doesn't help either :P


    Good Night & Good Luck

  • The Little Penguin

    by JustEliza on 15 August 2010

    If you watched BBC recently, you might have seen an animated short titled "The Little Penguin" by World of Happy.  For just a short time, you can view it again on BBC Iplayer. I hope they leave it up for longer, but if you can't find it, try youtube. I hope Giles Andreae doesn't mind me sharing the story here, as it's a very short, beautiful (albeit highly optimistic) lesson on one of the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: challenging negative thoughts.



    There was once a little penguin who was frightened of the water.

    "This is no way for penguins to behave," said his father.

    "Be gentle," said his mother, "for all of us have fears that others may find hard to understand. Come little penguin, come into the water with me"

    "But what if it's cold," said the penguin, "What if it's dark and deep? What if there is a big fat scary monster? What if I can't swim?"

    "Ahh," said his mother. "But what if it is light and beautiful? What if all your brothers and sisters are there? What if there are fish for you to eat and friends for you to play with? Come little penguin, take my hand."

    And with great courage and great trust, the little penguin slipped into the water, and, for the first time in his life, he felt the joy and freedom, wonder and delight, that every penguin's heart is born to know.




  • Third Day of CBT

    by JustEliza on 11 August 2010

    In the dream, I am worrying. I look at product after product on the shelf, until I forget I am standing, or where I am standing, or who I am. I've become simply a vessel for image after image of Possibility in the form of Sugar. I worry, visually, and then I wake, because waking is easier than making a decision. Than acting on a belief. Than believing anything at all.

    My homework now includes The Workbook -- a collection of checklists interspersed with definitions and stereotyping -- which treats me like I, too, am just a checklist of symptoms just waiting to be defined. Did the person who wrote this ever have anxiety? I'm not sure she did. She might have realised how horrible it feels to battle intellectually with a form over whether "generalised anxiety is a problem for you."

    I'm going to skip straight to Section 2: my own Five Areas Assessment. My therapist has now explained this approach to me 4 times. That's one for each time we've met, plus one extra when he was feeling especially pedantic. Essentially, our thoughts, physical symptoms, feelings/emotions, and behaviour all are linked and affect one another. This is basic science for someone whose post-graduate education focused entirely on theories of mind and behaviour, let alone someone who has already been labelled gifted. I'm not looking forward to the fifth time he explains it to me. If I interrupt, will I earn a new label? Difficult? Disrespectful? Impatient?

    Shoot, there's another checklist already. I'm putting The Workbook away before I hurt it with my condescension.

    We talked in circles this week, because we've finally reached the edge of his understanding of the human mind. I didn't think it would come this early in the process, and to be honest, I'm considering giving CBT up because of it. I feel deliciously mean just writing that, because essentially I just put my therapist, another human being, down.

    Did you catch that? I'm being defensive. At some point, I shut the gate, and he's left standing outside, alone.

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is meant to be challenging. It's good to have help, but we should all be doing this ourselves in the first place. But it's not as easy as thinking "Hmm, I am underestimating my ability to cope with this new situation. I feel unsafe and confused about what is happening to me. I am anxious." I know I can cope. I can make all of my problems disappear, one way or another, with distance and time. I don't worry about me.

    I worry about you.

    I worry, because I see you. I interact with you and I know you. My mind races through your life, calculating, estimating, testing, evaluating, predicting.  Is mind-reading so very wrong then, if I am always right?

    I avoid you.

    I avoid, because I would rather be alone than have the opportunity to manipulate you. And I will manipulate you, even if it's simply to counsel you. Knowledge is power, and power is responsibility, and I simply don't want responsibility for you.

    There comes a point in your life when you realise you will never have what you want most. Is that what I'm grieving? That I won't ever be able to make everything right in the world? That I can't heal everything? I'm past adolescent, past puberty. I've discovered what I am capable of. I'm past exploring. I've recoiled.

    My therapist challenged me this week. I reached the edge of my own understanding of my mind. I didn't think it would come this early in the process, and to be honest, I considered giving CBT up because of it. But that would be avoiding, again. So I challenged myself. I went home, and I wrote this, like I'm writing now. We talked in circles because I cannot resist shutting the gate. Because it's easier to be talked to about self-esteem, shaky hands, and shallow breathing than admit what I'm truly afraid of:

    Hurting you.


  • Second Day of CBT

    by JustEliza on 04 August 2010

    Things I stopped doing because they made me feel bad:


    Hearing the news

    Listening to non-classical music

    Reading crime thrillers

    Watching violent movies

    Developing friendships

    Eating processed foods


    Sometimes, I test the waters again. I rob a bank on a popular console game. I hear about a brutal murder-rape in the local news. I start reading a famous crime thriller series. I meet a friend for coffee. I microwave some chicken tikka masala. And the music tells me sweet dreams are made of these, but I know better. I’ve been having nightmares all week.


    I’m not perfect at avoiding. But, I am practiced.


    This week we talked about my past, and I've been paying for it all day in flashbacks, shaking hands, and racing thoughts. It’s been nearly twenty years since all of my bad habits began, but the penultimate one is not sharing how I feel, what I’ve experienced, with others. Complex trauma. Avoidant personality. Attachment disorder. I’m sorry; it’s just that… everyone else here seems identify with labels: Pregnant. Asthmatic. Diabetic. Bipolar. Obese. I thought you might want a label for me. Like Sociophobic. No?


    In counselling, I realized being gifted meant more than being smart: it meant being differently human. In cognitive behavioural therapy, I am changing how I cope with being differently human.  And the rest of the time, I am unpacking just how different I’ve become, now that the worst is over.


    The elephant in the room.


    I am happier without you. Should I be happier without you? I feel guilty for this. I feel guilty for being alone so long, loneliness became my familiar. I feel angry, because you never found me. You never even looked for me. I never asked for you, so you never asked for me. And now they’re asking. Now you’re asking.


    I have no idea how to answer.


    I’m not even sure I want to.

  • okay.

    by eleni valentine on 04 August 2010

    im experiementing with lowering the dose of seroquel.

    by myself with no input from the bloody mental health team who STILL refuse to see me somewhere i can get to. part of me is supremely happy with this state of affairs, it gives you a kind of childish...excuse to do what you want and in a way its their fault.

    dont worry, im under no illusions that this is anything but me cutting of my nose to spite my face.

    what i'd like, ideally, is a situation where i can take enough seroquel to sleep and keep the majority of the monsters at bay but not so much that it squashes out any semblance of personality or creativity. i hate that i cant draw any more, i dont have any good ideas and i mainly sit at home watching internet TV and venturing into town when neccessary.

    the thing is that the doctors wont go for anything less that 600mg of seroquel if i want antidepressants. they are prepared to go lower to 400mg as long as i dont take the antidepressant. which is clearly not going to work because all that happens is that i get suicidally depressed and fat. there is very little difference between 400 and 600. at least for me.

    lithium was a complete write off and i refuse to take anything that might make you lactate. i would kill myself instantly if that happened (personal stuff that i dont really want to get into)

    what else is happening? oh yes the conservatives in their infinite wisdom seem to have decided that everyone on disability or ESA need to retake the 'fit for work' interview.

    and it angers me beyond words that everyone i meet seems to think that the disability/illness benefit system is an easy one to cheat. i've been thinking about it and actually you'd have to cheat your GP, then the community mental team that they'd refer you to, then the consultant psychiatrist and THEN and only then the DWP. it would take a phenomenal amount of effort before you'd even be liable and i just dont see anyone going to that extent. you have to provide letters from your doctor, psychiatrist, any hospitals you've been in, bank statements and in the case of ESA constant sick notes from said GP.

    if you're going to reform anything, reform the job seekers benefit. i personally know people who've cheated that particular benefit for years and nothing has come of it.

    im not that worried for myself because i know that i'll be okay, im more worried for my boyfriend and best friend who went through absolute hell the first time to get to the 'fit for work' interview, and then had the hideous tribunal service to deal with. it nearly destroyed them.

    and dont even get me started on ATOS healthcare who were in charge of the whole thing.

    disability benefits are not a lifestyle choice, i always always thought i'd have a job.

    i worked from the age of fifteen to support myself, even when i was living with my parents. the only reason i've had this enforced break is because i become too ill to work. i have every intention of getting back to work as soon as im in a reasonable state to do so.

    it seems to me that i have no hope of doing that until i sort out the med situation, because one of the...good side effects of seroquel is that it makes you massively sleepy. so i have not one hope of getting up at any kind of reasonable time which pretty my cancels out any kind of job that i'd have to be up in the morning for. if things continue the way they are then i'll have to get some kind of night job, i mainly want to work with old people in homes so that could work - except that i'd have to do training which leads me back to the sleep thing.

    on a good note my boyfriend has got a job dry stone walling! its not paid yet but he's getting the experience so hopefully he'll be able to get back into work sooner rather than later. i think it'll suit him since he cant cope with people at all but is amazing at maths and patterns so its something he can do by himself with minimal supervision. i am unbelievably proud of him.

    another good thing is that we've looked at some nice houses in bristol, nothing amazing yet...(obviously my amazing is less so than anyone elses) but im very very hopeful! i've heard that the mental health service is really good there.

    because of our problems we need to be somewhere that we can get to hospital relatively easily, nothing with too many neighbours since at some point its probably going to go wrong and we'll need emergency treatment.

    i've decided that today is going to be a good day!


    sorry that turned into a little bit of a rant and a ramble - i hope everyone is getting on okay x


  • The ninja

    by Daniel S on 03 August 2010

    You know how Winston Churchill referred to his depression as a “black dog”? Well, I call mine “the screaming”.

    It’s supposed to be a joke: I hold up my 40mg of citalopram and say to whoever’s listening, “This’ll stop the screaming in my brain” as if I’m a quivering hospital-case for whom a daily pill is the flimsy cover over a bottomless manhole of spittle-flecked insanity.

    Oh, I’m a hoot, you can be sure.

    It’s not an accurate nickname for my condition (or a funny one). I don’t hear non-existent hollering of any sort. (I sometimes fantasise about screaming until my throat bleeds out all my rage and despair, but that ain’t quite the same thing.)

    A more fitting – and way cooler – moniker would the “the ninja”, because my illness creeps up on me unnoticed and then strikes with vicious, studied precision. It leaves me in great pain, battered and weeping.

    At least, it used to. The ninja has become a little less sly of late. Or rather, I’ve become attuned to its sneakiness, I think. For a couple of days recently, I neglected to take my medication and thought nothing of it for a while.

    But then I began to suspect something was amiss: minor worries were preoccupying me unduly, I felt a need for assurances from loved ones, and there was a burgeoning sense of defeat.

    As a result, I’ve raised my defences again. The wall of citalopram has been repaired and the ninja will remain outside for now, and I will be safe. I hope.

  • A people free life

    by RubyP on 01 August 2010

    I don't know anyone who's as socially isolated as I am.

    At the age of 38 I'm trying to work out who I am and where I belong. I spend all my time trying to work it out and life feels difficult.  Between the ages of 22 and 37 I had no friends other than my partner so I missed out on being young. I missed out on dating, parties, festivals - just all the stuff young people do.  For a long time my parents were the only people I had contact with outside of work. I've lived all over too so I don't feel there's a region I belong to.

    I had a major depression when I was 21 and really lost all sense of who I was. Before that I was a shy but relatively normal young person and had some good friends.  After the depression hit I became a recluse and life was all about survival.  Just doing the minimum to pass my degree and then drifting through lots of temp admin jobs - keeping a low profile and living hand to mouth. 

    Recently I've been receiving psychotherapy on the NHS.  This has helped me remember bits of stuff about myself - the kinds of things I like to do, my tastes and preferences. It's painful remembering how life used to be before I became chronically depressed. Thinking about missed opportunities is tough.






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