What a week! I've seen the best and the worst of people this week and my stress levels and resilience have been tested to the limit. My engine gave up on the way home last Tuesday, completely out of the blue. The garage say they found diesel in it, but how did I drive 3/4 of a tank on diesel? The car would've spluttered and died shortly after leaving the forecourt, plus you can't get a diesel nozzle into a petrol tank on a car. It won't fit. I've been royally screwed over by my local Morrison's garage and it's going to cost in excess of 3K and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. This is when I wish there was someone in my life who I could turn to and ask "what do I do?" I really miss that support from my dearest. Driving in the dark when you're being towed is an experience I wouldn't want to repeat in a hurry either. The car has no power steering so picture this - I'm knackered after a day's work, I'm hungry, I've been waiting over an hour for the AA man to rescue me and then I have to steer my car to the garage with no power steering whilst fatigue kicks in and pain is already present. I honestly don't know where I got the strength from.
The next day I had to get taxis to and from the next lived experience group for the new hospital, where we were meeting for the first time, after all the online sessions. I didn't want to miss it because we were going on a journey using our senses to give our thoughts, experiences and feelings on how the new hospital should look and feel in a sensory capacity. We worked through touch, taste, smell, hearing and seeing. The picture above shows an example of the touch exercise. I loved the way we could relate everything we did to colours. I found that immensely helpful. I learned in my Trauma Stabilisation group that smell and taste are the two strongest senses for grounding quickly, but that doesn't work for me. Touch is my strongest sense.
Anyway I ordered a new engine after cancelling my latest mental health team appointment. I couldn't face it and I couldn't let them see me stressed out! I need only good reports for when I approach the first fertility clinic again in the autumn.
I then endured five days of work and a particularly gruelling weekend of abusive and barmy customers, even being sexually harrassed on Sunday and having to call the police. Seriously. Give. Me. A. Break.
I did hit my second target though so that's something to celebrate, despite feeling incredibly triggered. I had a good chat with my therapist today about all of this and I can now see what courage I've had to come out the other side of this week still doing ok and keeping myself well. I'm currently listening to a beautiful playlist on CALM to wind down for the day. Talk again next week!
joy to get reacquainted! I used to religiously watch and point score when I was younger. I will never forget the fun of 1997 - the prospect of a new Labour government making its mark whilst Katrina and the Waves got the win with Love Shine A Light in Dublin.
I've been feeling really tired this past week, so I had to plan carefully and only attempt the things that were the most important to me. I had brunch with a friend, therapy, cleared out some more of the shed, threw out old VHS tapes and DVDR discs, planted some of the flowers I ordered, went on a picnic with my two closest friends in Kingston even though the weather that day was sadly raining, I hit my first target of the month at work and I had a really good chat with my Doctor.
It didn't feel like a progressive week, but when I list it all out, I think wow, I did a lot!
There was a big food festival in Reading this past weekend and this was the truck right outside my office. Really chuffed it was there and I just had to share a pic! Great exposure for mental health awareness which runs throughout the month of May.
I've finally had my porch door replaced from when the police had to break the glass to get in back in February. Covid might be quieting down a bit, but the lingering effects for getting enough workers and supplies to do the jobs continues. Pretty crazy.
I started my new medication last night. I've got one day left of my anti depressant so I'm cautiously seeing what the overlap does to my mind and body, whilst I've got two days off. I definitely feel a little odd, but I am so keen to get back on Aripiprazole and pick up from when I left hospital in March. I think I've run the course with Escitalopram. Even this low dose I'm using to taper off was making me feel hyper again and I was beginning not to sleep. I mean don't get me wrong, I love the hyperness and energy I feel, but I don't like how quickly it gets out of control.
I am really enjoying being part of the consultation group for the new mental health hospital build in Surrey. I feel a part of something meaningful and that makes me feel super good inside and this is why it's one of my recovery pillars. Just connecting with people who also have mental illness and have the same experience of the hospitals around here where we've all stayed as inpatients, makes me feel a bond I can't explain, but it's comforting. At the next meeting, we get to see each other in person and it's going to be a sensory session. I can't wait.
It's been a good week. I'm tapering off Escitalopram ready to start Aripiprazole, I took part in the second of three workshops about the new mental health hospital being built in Surrey and that made me feel a part of something positive, and finally, I had a good chat with my Dr and I feel more supported and hopeful.
Amidst all of this, I listened to an interview with Ozzie comedian Hannah Gadsby who I discovered on Netflix at the end of last year with her two shows Nanette and Douglas. I'm interested to hear her talking about being diagnosed so late in life with ASD, as I'm still awaiting assessment. Much of what she says completely resonates with me and I can't tell you how comforting it is. She describes being profoundly lonely in childhood and adolescence because she intended to be social, but she didn't know how. How do you make that jump from being friendly to being a friend? The constant analysing her peers, working out social structures, sensory overload. The lifelong exercise of masking symptoms and learning coping mechanisms to cover up deficiencies. It all makes so much sense to me. I really understand the pain, but it's wonderful to discover that I'm not nearly as alone as I thought I was. Being seen and heard is so important and being given time to process it all because there's so damn much to process!
So my referral back to the Community Mental Health team has finally been accepted after more knock backs than I can count. After the way things were left at my discharge from Services in December, it was assumed I wouldn't engage with them again. Anyway, that's all by the by now and I saw my psychiatrist and care co-ordinator on Friday. It was an intense hour discussing the last few months with regards to my mental health highs and lows, being detained in hospital again, and piecing together what a period of stability looks like so that I can try with the fertility clinic again. We settled on tapering off Escitalopram in order to start Aripiprazole - and I was really happy with this outcome especially as I've been waiting so long to get back on it after hospital - however, I took it Saturday morning and by Saturday afternoon I'm having a panic attack at work. My nerves were jangling, I didn't know what to do with myself and I felt like somebody was sitting on my chest. I tried to ride it out at work but in the end I went home and eventually had a virtual chat with my local safe haven. By this time, I feel so alien to myself and I'm in tears. It was god awful. What followed was a night of hallucinations and I slept most of Sunday. By yesterday morning, I was almost feeling normal again but it really knocked my confidence at work. My psychiatrist thinks I'm one of the rare ones where the mood stabiliser interacts negatively with the anti depressant. When I started Aripiprazole in hospital, I'd been detoxed of medication for about 3 weeks, so it had nothing to react with. I'm not going to be put off, but it's definitely frightened me with how it quickly changed me in a terrible, uncontrollable way. I want to say it's all the medication, but I have been feeling very low and exhausted since coming back from India and Nepal. The world feels very loud at the moment and I feel really fragile.
I've been on this amazing holiday of a lifetime and family pilgrimage and now I'm feeling hopeless - but I feel like I have no right to feel this way. I know something is wrong because, after a trip like this I would usually be buzzing, and that buzz would carry me for months. But I'm not feeling any such buzz. Work is difficult and relentless and I feel like I'm drowning. In the last week, out of sheer desperation, I've restarted my anti depressant. It was sitting in my medication drawer and I just made the decision that if I've got something there to help me, use it! In the absence of any external help from my GP and the Community Mental Health team and feeling completely and utterly ignored and forgotten about regarding the new mood stabiliser I was supposed to be taking after coming out of hospital, I thought it was time to try and help myself, rather than sabotage myself as I'm so accustomed to doing. I can't say it's working yet, but the knowledge I'm regaining some control just by taking it is helping.
I forced myself to go out in the garden on Friday and Saturday because the sun was shining and I badly need distractions. I finished pruning and cleared all of the leaves and that was immensely satisfying. I also mowed the lawn and started building the path to the shed - a project from last summer that I put on hold as the flowers were still blooming. Sadly, I have lost all of my fish again. These ones only survived a year! So I've ordered a stronger netting and a plastic heron to try and keep the real life heron out of my pond in the future!
Back to work today boo! I just cannot believe that this time last week, Mum and I were taking the scenic flight to see Everest. This has been a dream of mine for a very long time. The weather was perfect as you can see from the photo and it was so worth the extremely early start. It surprised me that we had to check in like a regular flight. It's all taken very seriously. I guess considering where we are and how quickly the flight could go wrong, that's a good thing. Our landing into Kathmandu was pretty rocky and that's the first time I've ever really worried about being on an aircraft - and I've been on some dodgy flights!
The rest of Nepal - Pokhara and Chitwan - was a whirlwind of enjoyment and lovely hospitality at stunning accommodations (Pavillions - The Farm and Tiger Tops), long drives on bumpy and broken roads (it's so wonderful to be travelling again!), mooching around Pokhara the much more chilled out sister to Kathmandu, temples, pagodas and boat rides, getting lost trying to find Tiger Tops, just missing a male tiger bathing, sweating on safari (again, so fab to be back travelling!) and ending our stay in Nepal with a walk with the mahouts and their elephants down to the river for them to bathe, whilst we enjoy a perfect sundowner to celebrate 3 weeks of amazing adventures on the road. I mean, what could be better than that!
wonderful to get away from the town and noisiness and watch the tea pickers in the sunshine though.
We then had a short pitstop in Gangtok in Sikkim just because and nearly got stuck when heavy rain flooded the river and broke some of the bridges! It was lovely to be welcomed as the first British tourists they have seen for two years.
After Gangtok, we arrived in Kalimpong and met up with new found family. That was really special. We visited Dr Grahams famous school where my Nanna went 100 years ago and St Joseph's Convent where my Grandpop's sisters went. We found my Great Grandfather's estate - which called into question whether he did live in Darjeeling - and my Great Great Grandmother's grave along with her boyfriend's! The villagers who remember my Great Grandfather, were able to give us bits and pieces of information, but there is so much more to discover. It's rumoured it takes two days to ride around the estate on horseback. Unfortunately the Indian government claimed the land from my Grandpop's sister who remained in India and now use it for farming. The villagers don't hesitate to ask us why we never claimed the land and sadly because my Great Aunt has now passed, we don't have answers for them. I was gutted we ran out of time and the mist was descending rapidly. We did learn that most of the bungalows from the estate were burned to the ground in the 1986 riots when the local people wanted independence from West Bengal. This was another piece of devastating news, along with the fact that nobody seems to know where my Great Grandfather's grave is. I think I have more questions than answers from this trip!
Staying in the Mayfair Himalayan hotel which my relatives used to own and run was some consolation. I tried to soak up as much of the history as I could despite the hotel being full of conference types. I definitely would have liked to have seen it pre Mayfair ownership.
could be snakes. 47 Beniapukar Road is officially a transport police station now and we so nearly missed the house. Luckily we had the photo you see above and some of the officers pointed us in the right direction. It was a really special moment for mum, one that is hard to put into words. I guess there are no words. I was just happy to be a part of that moment.
The train was fabulous if not a little noisy with the horn blaring all of the time. The train runs right alongside normal village and town life - sometimes too close - so that horn has to be alerting people! It was a little different to the calm app Darjeeling train ride mum and I listened to the night before to get us in the mood. Again, another wonderful memory for mum to rekindle though.
Leading up to this trip, I've been convinced that until we actually land in Calcutta, I won't believe we are finally able to do this. Covid aside, it was already a mammoth trip to plan.. building in rest days, trying to get the time off work, making sure we visited the essential destinations to trace our family history and meet family we've never met before, but also to throw in some sightseeing as well. Logistics have been more complicated thanks to the pandemic and the shortage of flight options have meant more days travelling. It's been a mission, that's for sure! But here we are, finally!
Amidst the struggles trying to keep myself well without medication post my latest hospital admission and trying to advocate for myself and feeling very vulnerable and alone, I've been researching the Cresswell's in the book you see in the picture. This is my mum's father's family line and the one we are focusing on whilst on our trip. I've also been catching up with stuff I had to postpone due to hospital - dinner with friends, getting a quote to replace my porch door that was smashed to smitherines, getting my car MOTd, test driving a new SUV in preparation for being a mum (if that is ever going to happen - trying to keep the faith), pamper session with a haircut and colour, contacting a cat sitter, building a new bookcase for my bedroom, getting the back garden up to scratch, sorting out my typhoid booster which I've left to the last minute and filling out the numerous forms for our travels... you know, just a few things to keep me occupied.
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.