I'm not going to lie, I do struggle with taking medication. I don't like swallowing pills for starters and up until Colin's passing, I never took anything. I also don't want to rely on them and it's taken ages to train myself to get into a routine. I hate the weight gain and the sluggishness on the anti-psychotic. I don't like taking pain medication everyday. I don't mind my anti depressant but I worry it won't work forever, after trying a few before this, with devastating consequences on the last attempt to switch and consolidate back in the autumn...
So I've been off them for two days. And right now I'm flying high. I haven't slept but I feel I can do anything. I know this is not going to last but my brain says stick with it. Actually my brain feels quite scrambled at the moment and the voices are back, so I don't completely trust what I'm writing here. But I think it's important to write it because I know I'm not the only one who feels like this and it's important to share our experiences. I don't know what the answer is but I wish I did. I wish there was a checklist for mental health, an end goal, a list of things to accomplish and then you get signed off and are better and more determined to living a good, honest, adventurous and happy life.
When I'm doing well professionally, I feel amazing. I'm smashing it this month in my job despite the fact we are in a pandemic. People need to have something to look forward to, I know I do, and people need holidays. That's two of my recovery pillars for maintaining good mental health - future plans and travel. A third pillar for me is to feel part of society and feel like I am contributing to something bigger than myself. That's what having paid employment does for me. Working from home is tough and I am somebody who doesn't mind being in my own company, but this is next level stuff. I have missed my colleagues and the banter and good humour we share everyday, so I am looking forward to going back to the office on 12th April.
I am still working on the big declutter of my home. Recently I have started to put things up into the loft I had boarded for storage back in the summer. It takes me time to do things, not just because of my physical limitations, but I have to think about each and every item and sometimes it can take me weeks to make a decision. Sometimes I don't like things moving too fast, but other times, I can't move fast enough. I often get caught in this circle and become paralysed by my own restrictions and rituals. This is why the recent suggestion I may be on the autistic spectrum makes a lot of sense to me. High functioning ASD is what I'm going to be tested for. I don't necessarily feel I need a diagnosis for this. It's enough that the professionals caring for me have raised it because now I know I'm not making it up and my behaviours are making more sense to me from childhood to teenage years to now.
I get angry in therapy that it has taken so long to understand things and people have let me down along the way. At the moment I am trying to get to younger me so I can comfort her. I get frustrated that she's there and I can't reach her and that I can't articulate what I need. The Stabilisation group therapy has finished now so I am experimenting with the ideas we discussed. I realised I can't self soothe but I love being read to. I've been listening to Kate Winslet read Enid Blyton's Enchanted Wood on Audible. As a child, I devoured everything Enid Blyton wrote. It is helping me to settle into a sleep routine and feel safe.
Another of my Great Aunts on my Mum's side died this past week. She was 91 years old. It gives me hope that I too can reach a decent old age before I die and have lots of adventures and achievements and fond memories to look back on.
It's been a strange week. I had a meeting with my psychiatrist and care co-ordinator and it was good to get some things off my chest, the biggest definitely being why were things allowed to get so bad that I ended up being sectioned. It's been written into my crisis plan now that I would prefer to be treated at home rather than hospital, which is what I was asking for repeatedly during that period before my last hospitalisation. I also received a diagnosis of complex trauma and possible high functioning ASD. I also learned that I was dissociating a lot and it wasn't psychosis. I have a lot of questions swirling around in my head, but I can't articulate them at the moment. I tried in the meeting but it was impossible. I ended up feeling pretty frustrated. From now on, I'm trying to journal and write things down when they come to me.
The next day it was the last Stabilisation group therapy. At the beginning I was daunted about doing it online but it's actually been ok. This week I was able to tell the group about yesterday and then others began to share their stories about their route to diagnosis and how complicated it can be because complex trauma also presents like - and I hate this term - Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. If that diagnosis doesn't sound like a direct attack on the poor patient, then I don't know what does! I felt good when the session ended and just realising that I am not alone is a huge relief.
Later on in the week it was good to chat through those couple of days with my care co-ordinator and my counselor. My brain has to process every bit of information in detail before I can file it away and move forwards in my recovery. I am so grateful to have both of them to talk to because I wouldn't be able to cope with my thoughts and emotions otherwise.
Work has gone mental since the Prime Minister's covid briefing last Monday evening. It's great to be talking itineraries again with clients, rather than refunds. Although, there's still a fair amount of crystal balling and I think that will continue for ages yet. I'm hoping but seriously doubting I will get to Turkey next month. I think I will postpone the trip to October and move India and Nepal to March 2022. This is what it's like isn't it, constantly pushing trips and events on and never actually getting anywhere or being able to do anything!
I felt sick Friday evening when I permanently deleted half of my Venice photos. I thought I could load them into Photos on my new iMac and delete them from the iCloud, but they completely disappeared from Photos, as I realised with a sickening feeling afterwards that I hadn't imported them properly into the program. When stuff like this happens, whatever it may be in life, I go into panic mode whilst trying to stay extremely calm. I don't like being in this situation and I don't want to talk to anybody. My problem solving skills have got better over time as I've taught myself coping strategies and skills, but I become obsessed with trying to fix the problem and won't rest until it's sorted. And if I can't sort it, I'll think about it until I've exhausted my brain. What I tried to do this time is to rationalise with myself that it was going to be ok and it wasn't such a big deal and I still had some memories of the trip. Talking about it helped massively too. I went through the whole evening with my counselor in my next session. She talked to be about how we react to things in life a certain way because of things that have happened to us in the past. She always asks me what the feelings are and then I dig deep to remember where and when I've felt those feelings before. Sometimes I can't do the work by speaking so she has loads of different ways to help me. I do a lot of art therapy and stone work and she bought me some stress balls. I think it's brilliant. I am learning so much about myself.
Week 3 of Stabilisation therapy was about soothing and relaxation this week. I want to aim to find one grounding exercise and one soothing exercise to put in my self care toolbox. More to follow on this.
Learning about the science behind trauma in Week 1 definitely helped me to feel less that's it's all my fault. I told my care co-ordinator and counselor that this is a massive revelation for me and I'm happy another weight has been lifted and I can inch another step or two forward in my recovery and understanding of my mental health. It often feels to me that this is all too big for me to cope with, so little wins are really important to me and I feel they need to be acknowledged and celebrated.
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.