MIA

It has been a while since I last wrote on here and I do apologise for my absence, not that my writing is of any interest.

I’ve had a lot happen in the past couple of weeks and I’ve not known quite how to handle it all. I’ve been very high then very low. There hasn’t been a balance and it is throwing me off.

Therapy:

So I’ve had two face to face session and got my third on Monday. My first session was not at all to my liking. I found it very difficult to agree with what was being said and the techniques that I was being taught. I did do a blog post on my first session. I did take on board the advice and kept a worry diary between the two weeks of my appointments.

I understood how the diary could help. How me deciphering if my worries were hypothetical or practical would help me control some of the extent of my worrying. I understood and so wanted this method to work. I gave it a go. My best shot. I kept it for the first week roughly. I wrote down my general worries throughout the day. I knew what these were so they weren’t a surprise. I knew majority of them were hypothetical and there was nothing I could do but it didn’t help me or the worrying. I just had them written down instead of in my head.

My second face to face session. I broke down. I had had a bad couple of weeks between appointments. My tablets were changed and before that I just felt generally low. I told my therapist about the past weeks. What had been bothering me. What I had felt. What had happened. All I was told was that my next appointment would be in a week and I’d be taught techniques to deal with the lows. And apart from a quick run over of my worry diary and some brief explanation of a new worry technique of only allowing myself to worry for half an hour at about 7pm that was the end of the session. 

Third session was even more rushed and unhelpful. It was barely 20 minutes before we said our goodbyes and I was out the door. No techniques to deal with the lows. Not a lot was said except the next session might be my last. 

Medication: 

I was taken off my Prozac and put on a different tablet because the Prozac was not doing anything. This new tablet, I’m really not a fan. I don’t feel comfortable on it at all. I’m worried it is slowing my reactions down. That it’s making me gain weight. That it’s making me very high then very low. I hate it. I’ve stopped taking it because I’m convinced it is more harmful than good. Probably shouldn’t just stop all medication so abruptly but at the end of the day if I’m not comfortable with it then I’m going to stop. I felt it was really messing with me. I felt spaced out at times. Felt weird. I haven’t taken it since. 

I’m struggling. Really struggling. I’m so low. But I don’t want to restart taking the stronger tablets again. I can’t get an appointment for a month and even then it’s not with my normal doctor. I can’t get an evening appointment either so I’d either have to have half a day at work and take the morning as holiday or just forget it and hope I sort myself out. 
Job

Well for once I’ve got quite a bit to write about on this section. I’ve finally had a bit of luck. I’ve finally been given a chance.

A couple of months ago my auntie sent me a text telling me that her best friend’s son told her to get me to send him my CV so he could pass it on where he worked to see if anything was going.

I was in a very low place when I got this text and completely blanked it and ignored all existence of it. Then about a month or so ago me and F were out with my Auntie having drinks to celebrate her birthday and she mentioned the text. I tried to change the subject but F was already hooked on the conversation. He was adamant after hearing about the company that it would be a great opportunity for me. So long story short he kept asking and asking me if I had sent my CV off.

Long story short, after three interviews, I was offered the job. At first I was kind of excited then I didn’t really know what to think, then I was excited again and then I got anxious. Sickly anxious. Which didn’t go too well with my already low mood. 

All through the process I’ve been very up and down about the situation. A bit excited. Anxious. Worried. Panicked. Happy. Sad. I felt all emotions through it all. 

I had my first day this week and by the evening I was snuggled in bed in tears. There was nothing particularly wrong with my first day and the people are lovely but I just don’t feel mentally or physically ready for this all. But maybe once I get into the routine of it all I will start to feel better. Once I’m fully emerged in my role maybe I’ll feel more human again. 

Boyfriend

Well the next topic was going to be about how me and F were getting on but I already covered that in my previous post:

Im just generally exhausted with everything at the moment. I don’t know how I’m feeling from one minute to the next. I don’t know if I’m ready for life and everything it involves. I’ve got no choice but to be but I just sometimes wish I could curl up and maybe not exist for a while. 

Not Quite Made Girl 

X

Therapy

It was my turn at last. I had reached the top of the waiting list to receive my first therapy session. The letter came in the post informing me of when my appointment was and that it would take place on the phone. The phone? How can a therapy session work on the phone? I didn’t care how the logistics worked, all I cared about was that it was finally my name being called and it was me who could finally talk to someone and maybe get a hand of this situation.

The 1st of March. A new month. A new chance. And what better way to start a new month than with my first therapy session. Even if it was on a telephone.

I chose an early appointment so it would force me to get up and try and do something with my day afterwards. I was apprehensive before my phone call. I didn’t think that I would be totally honest with how I felt or what I was going through because it is easier to hide it when you are on a phone. I did worry that I would cry and become so incoherent on the phone that it would be pointless.
The phone went off and I picked up. It was similar to that of my initial phone call with the service. We went through the Questionnaires and my scores on that. What I was feeling to make me give the answers that I did. What I hoped to gain from CBT. What my goals were. It was a quick 45 minute chat and Sarah was very understanding and acknowledged everything I said to show she was listening.
At the end of the call, we booked our next appointment, which would be a face to face for the 13th March.

Today, the 13th, unlucky for some was my first face to face CBT. I had to drive there. That was a panic in itself. I hate driving new routes on my own. I am continuously thinking of the worse and panicking that I will take the wrong turn, end up down a one way street going the wrong way, or just getting so lost that I just stop and breakdown into tears. But I made it. And I made it in plenty of time.Had a bit of a panic over parking but that soon sorted itself out.
I had no idea where to go once I entered the Health Centre. I felt that as soon as I walked in everyone was looking at me as I was hesitant on which reception to go to. I finally went over to one and they weren’t the most helpful of people. They simply pointed in a direction and told me to go there. I finally found it. It was pretty concealed. Wasn’t exactly staring you in the face obvious. I signed in and followed the directions the lady gave me to go find the correct room and I sat outside.
This is how awkward I am. I wasn’t sure whether to knock or not. I hovered, looked into the room, saw my therapist sat typing. Instead of knocking I got all panicked and just sat down outside. After a couple of minutes, I got the courage to knock. She opened the door, said she’d be a couple of minutes and to just sit outside. It felt an eternity.
I really didn’t want to be there. I didn’t feel comfortable. My anxiety was through the roof. I didn’t feel in the mood to talk. I just wanted to go home. I wanted to go back to bed.
But I stayed. My Therapist Sarah* opened the door and invited me into the room.
There were two chairs on either side of a small round table placed next to a window looking out onto the car park. In the corner was a table and a computer. There was a height measure on one side, and a GP’s bed on the other with an abacus and a couple of other toys on it.
This room wasn’t exactly what I imagined my therapy to take place in. But it did the job. There was somewhere to sit and it was nice to be by the window.
I didn’t realise just how uncomfortable I was talking to strangers, especially when it is about something so personal. I was a bit reluctant at first. I did try to expand on what I was feeling but I kept getting choked up. I didn’t think I would get that emotional trying to explain how I felt. I really couldn’t look at her. I know you’re meant to have eye contact with people when you speak to them but I couldn’t. I was fidgeting. I kept playing with my rings, swirling them round on my fingers, pulling them off and pushing them back on. Pulling my jumper sleeve down, fiddling with the end of the cuff. I wasn’t comfortable. I couldn’t wait for the session to end. I didn’t really talk. I said the odd thing but otherwise I didn’t really have anything to say. I was struggling to get my words out. To explain what was going on in my head. How the past couple of weeks had been since I last spoke to her. I did tell her a bit about my boyfriend buying his flat, and the fact that I had a job interview and had the next stage of it this week and how I was the only one not excited about it. I went into a bit of worries that came from those situations.

 

5 aspects
My attempt at explaining the 5 Aspects 

Sarah showed me a really interesting cycle called the 5 aspects of how a situation and how we think during this situation affect our moods, which in turn affect our behaviours which then have consequences on our physical sensations. Well that’s how I came to understand it anyway. We went through a situation I was experiencing as an example. It made sense and I can see how it works. It gets you thinking about how you react to a situation.
We then looked at a booklet about controlling worry. I learnt about hypothetical and practical worries. And I was asked to keep a worry diary for the next two weeks and decipher if the worries I was having were hypothetical (where you can’t control the outcome) or a practical one (where you can affect the outcome and not have to rely on others).
As lovely as Sarah was I just felt like I was back in school and I hated that. The idea of writing down when I’m worried and what’s caused it filled me with anxiety. I felt like I was being set homework and felt so much pressure to get it right. I know it is silly but I really didn’t feel comfortable.

It was only a half an hour session but it felt like I was in there forever. It was good to put a face to the name as well and to know who I was talking to and who I was relying on for help and advice. But I didn’t feel better than when I got there. I felt more anxious. More worried. And thinking far too much. It is hard because a lot of the time I can’t pinpoint just what it is that I am worrying about. Sarah understood this and just said to try my best to write down when I do know what is worrying me.
I will give it a go. I am so grateful for the help. I am so lucky to get it as quick as I have. I will try and be positive with this. And I will try my best to be as open and as honest as I can with her. I will have to come out of my comfort zone. I will have to speak. I will have to make eye contact with her and stop fidgeting because I want to make the most of these sessions. I want to feel better and I want this help. I am determined to make it work.

Not Quite Made Girl

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*Pseudo name

Assessment

Yesterday, I took another step in my journey. I had my assessment telephone call with IAPT.

So after a bit of reading on just what IAPT is, it stands for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies. It deals with those who primarily feel stressed, anxious, low in mood or depressed, and then provide talking therapies for them.

Before my phone call I had to do a self-referral. This consisted of me filling in multiple forms. That’s all I seemed to have done this past week, answer questions about my  thoughts and how I’ve felt and circle a number between 0-3 depending on how often I have felt that way in the past two weeks.

There were 7 sections including; the PHQ-9, GAd-7, Risk assessment and Work and Social Adjustment. When I first filled in the PHQ-9 at the Doctors I had a score of 21 out of 27, it only went up one when I filled it in for the IAPT. The statements of the problems on the PHQ-9 are pretty bog standard I suppose when talking about mental health. There’s questions asking how often you feel down, depressed or hopeless, feeling tired, feel that you’re a failure and thoughts that you would be better off dead or hurting yourself.
I won’t say how I scored on these, but I will say that none of the statements given received a 0 for not at all and only one scored 1 for feeling it several days. The others ranged from more than half the days and nearly every day. The thing with these statements is that they’re just words on paper. They don’t truly convey just how much these thoughts barricade in your mind. They don’t show the real effect that these thoughts have.
I suppose they use this method of judging mental health to record the severity of depression and because it can be taken multiple times, it can also record the response of the patient to any treatment that they do receive once they have been diagnosed.

After a bit of googling, I have noted that I was placed in severe depression and that is why I am on both antidepressants and been referred to psychotherapy. Depending on your score, there are different routes of treatment.

The GAD-7 section, as the number suggests included 7 question and I think the GAD stands for General Anxiety Disorder. Again the questions included how often in the past 2 weeks you have felt nervous, anxious or on edge, feeling afraid as if something awful might happen and not being able to stop or control worrying.
The risk assessment basically assessed how much your life in your current state of mind put your life or other’s lives at risk. Although I have had moments where I do want to harm myself and I have even thought about ending it all, I know deep down, that I don’t have it in me. I don’t have the drive or the want enough to end my life. This is a good thing because I know no matter how bad the thoughts I get, I physically won’t be able to end it all. I clearly, self consciously, know I have so much more to gain from life and have a reason to live even if I can’t see it right now. One day I will and I will be so grateful for not ending it all.
Finally the Work and Social adjustment. Pretty self explanatory. How my state of mind was affecting work, my social leisure activities and family and relationships. The highest scoring section for me was the impact on Family and Relationships. This has been the hardest thing for me to cope with. This is the time when you need your family and those who you’ve built up a relationship with around you, but instead they become distant. It’s hard to talk to them when they either don’t understand or refuse to believe there’s anything wrong. Even those that do understand don’t want to hear about it and find it hard to deal with, that they end up becoming distant and leaving me without their support.
This is why I want the treatment. This is why I want to get better.I want my relationships back.

Anyway, back on to the assessment. I sure do love a good description of stuff! I always start with the intention of only writing the basics but then the detail just keeps coming haha.

So yes, I had my assessment with Jamie yesterday. 3.30pm on the dot may I add. I was adamant I wouldn’t cry and become all breathy and weird on the phone but my brain clearly had other plans. Poor Jamie, that is all I can say. I suppose he must be used to it. I bloody hope he is used to it and I wasn’t that weirdo girl on the other end of the line. I’ll give it to Jamie, he was soothing and calming and I was able to express how I felt and even when I couldn’t always put into words just what it was that I was thinking and feeling, he soon came to my rescue and understood just what it was and tried his best to offer his understanding of how I felt. He hit the nail on the head a lot and not once was there a single judgemental tone in his voice. After twenty minutes, and a billion tears and ‘urms’ later, it was done. I was deemed anxious and depressed (or should I just say mad!) enough that I would benefit from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
I wasn’t too sure what this would entail. I vaguely remembered learning about it in Psychology back when I was at school and that’s going back at least five or six years, (Showing my age now!)  but I couldn’t recall what it exactly entailed. Jamie did explain it a bit. The gist I got was that it changes your behaviour. It is a talking therapy that can help manage your problems and change the way you think and behave. For example, it will replace negative behaviour responses with positive ones.

I don’t know how I feel about this. But got to give everything a try at least once right? I don’t know when I will get my appointment as currently there is a 6-8 week waiting time for my local area. Despite me being available whenever and having no restrictions, it is still going to take at least a month and a half before anything can start.
I think at first you get 4-6 sessions, and these can be both on the phone and face-to-face and held in your local area. I am dreading it. I hate talking at the best of times. I hate being an open book. I hate the vulnerability that comes with being so open. But it’s necessary. As much as I hate all of the above, my want and need to get better is far greater.

I haven’t spoken with F yet about my phone call, but I am seeing him tonight so will give him a bit of an update then. I told my Mum and Dad and they didn’t really respond to it. I had to remind them that I had the phone call and only then did Mum ask how it went in passing. I told her about the CBT and that I was placed on the waiting list and I got nothing. No words of praise or encouragement. No questions. Nothing. Just an ‘okay’ and a change of subject. I don’t know why I’m surprised every time, just thought they might have come to terms with it all a bit more now. Obviously not.

Yesterday was a heavy day and my anxiety was through the roof from the minute I woke up. I also found something out about something my boyfriend liked on Social Media that didn’t help matters. I couldn’t move from my bed until the afternoon and that was only because I knew I had my phone call at half three. Before the phone call, I had a sudden bout of, not confidence, but determination that I wasn’t going to be sat around crying and anxious all bloody day. Instead I got in touch with an old friend who I haven’t spoken to in six years and organised to meet up with her and her horses, one of which I used to loan many years ago. Luckily she was about that afternoon and  I was more than welcome to go and see her and the horses and help her out.
I knew seeing my old horse, Hamlet, would make me feel better. He always calmed me down and just spending time with him would help. After my phone call, I did a drive I’ve never done before. I pushed my anxiety to the back of my head and dealt with the drive as I did it. I got lost. I got panicked but I made it.
I had a good afternoon. It was good to see my friend again. I was open to her about everything that was going on in my life. I told her about the anxiety and depression and the tablets I was on, the therapy that I was waiting for. She didn’t push to know more, nor tell me it would be okay. She just listened. We took turns catching up. It was great to hear how well she had done and how much had changed for her. It was like we had never stopped talking. How lucky was I to have found a good friend like that all them years ago?

I spent hours down there and reluctantly came home but not before seeing her old dog, who to my surprise remembered me and was excited to see me. Normally she growls at strangers but with me she couldn’t have been more friendly.
Seeing Hamlet was the highlight of my day. He took a while to remember me, but I think he did towards the end. I know it sounds silly, but I felt our connection that we used to have all those years ago. He is just the definition of comfort.

I better go. I have to go get ready as I’m seeing the boyfriend later and we’re going to see Kaleo and I need to get ready. (Yes, I’m still sat in my pyjamas and in need of a shower, even though it is ten minutes to one in the afternoon. Disgusting, I know!)

I’ll do a blog on Kaleo tomorrow or Thursday so keep tuned 🙂

Not Quite Made Girl

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