Mental health awareness month
I'm finding Aripiprazole leaves me a little restless in the evenings, so it's been difficult to settle down to watch some tele on the sofa after a hard day's work. My body says I need to move whilst my brain is exhausted. That being said, I am loving my Friday night's triple bill of comedy and satire with Here We Go, Have I Got News For You and then The Other One (and before that, Not Going Out), all on BBC1.
Well, as May and mental health awareness month draws to a close, I've been thinking a lot about the things that have helped me this month. This has probably been my steadiest month for over six months in terms of stabilised mood and actively taking care of my mental health on a daily basis. My mood has been rock steady even though I'm flying at work with hitting targets and this would usually send me into a tailspin of reckless activity. I've used the CALM app religiously to help me get off to sleep and for meditation, and their monthly chart with a daily mindful focus has helped me take one day at a time. I put together a folder of the people who influence me in a good way and I also displayed my old writing files in my study so they are easily accessible when I need some inspiration. I did the monthly MIND activity they popped through my letterbox as you can see from the photo above. I decided to print and display some of my favourite pictures from the last 18 months. I've been slowly working towards my goals for the year and keeping in regular contact with my therapist and GP, knowing that the virtual Safe Haven is only a phone call away. I hope to be discharged from the Community Mental Health Team soon. I think I have the medication situation under control now. I've decided it's best for me to take it in the evenings, even though my psychiatrist insists it's better in the mornings. I find I get even more restless early on in the afternoon if I take it in the mornings and I feel an increased anxiousness. I'd rather be asleep when my body wants to attack me like that! I do think the benefits of Aripiprazole overrule the negatives at the moment, although I am fully aware how this can flip.
Resilience Vs Stress
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!
Being part of something meaningful
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.
Hannah Gadsby and ASD
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!
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.