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How do you make a head quiet?

This is one of those questions that nobody ever seems to have an answer for. They always tell me to just ignore the voices in my head. It’s really not that easy.

Today is a difficult day. I’ve had my PICC line put in, and while I’m happy I’ve got it, it’s annoying me that I need it. I know that I need reasonable access and that I spend a lot of time in hospital, but it’s a constant reminder that there’s something wrong and it’s a visible reminder. People ask me about it when I wear a t-shirt and forget to cover it. And I don’t like having to explain it to them, cause then you get the “Awww I’m sorry to hear that” stories. Having it is both a blessing and a curse.

My head’s being especially shitty today though. And there’s only so long I can try and have the argument of “you’re wrong, I’m not a shit person” before I start not have the energy for it. Which is a bad thing in itself. I’ve been struggling with my chest and I’m not sleeping fantastically, so I’m tired and feel rough. Never a good combination. I should be revising but the stuff I’m revising is ball achingly boring and I just can’t be bothered. Learning about 15 different fungi groups and how they all reproduce and grow just isn’t my idea of a party. So I ended up building lego with loud music on in an attempt to shut my stupid head up. Doesn’t seem to be working though, so I think I might just give up and go to bed. Seems the best plan, and the safest right now to be honest.

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Realising difficult truths.

It’s been about 6 months since my last blog post, and I can only apologise to the people who read my blog (and thank you for doing so, not sure what about my life is that interesting though!). I could give any number of excuses about bereavements, busy lives, being poorly, but ultimately I just didn’t have the time, motivation or mental energy to collect all my thoughts in one place. And with that opens my blog, that things have been difficult and I don’t like having to think about them.

So far this year I’ve lost 2 very close friends that I knew from hospital, and 2 people I would call good friends. All but one wasn’t expected and was totally unfair and before time. And it’s difficult to think about as Andrea was only 44, younger than my own mum, and Laurel’s death could’ve been prevented if the care she received from an unnamed doctor hadn’t have been negligent. That made the death of Laurel all the more unfair and although she passed in January, I’m still struggling to accept it. I had just started to when we suddenly lost Andrea, and being unable to attend the funeral hasn’t helped. I feel when someone passes that I need to be able to properly say goodbye, and that hasn’t happened with the death of any of my friends, apart from Laurel.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how my mental health has been affecting my friends. I feel more than ever like I’m bringing them down along with me. My closest friends are all struggling with their mental health and I’ve been watching them slowly go downhill for months, with the penultimate occurring recently with 3 of them all giving me cause toconsider calling ambulances, and on several occasions having to call ambulances for 2 of those friends. I honestly do believe that part of the reason they have crashed so spectacularly is that they’ve spent so long trying to hold it together for me, that they’ve been ignoring their own head’s getting bad, and as what happened with me, they are crashing and burning. Which has lead me to make the decision to not talk to them about what’s going on anymore. I’m going to avoid trying to come across as cold, but I think it’s going to be a learning curve. I’m going to have to learn to manage things on my own, specially as I got a letter yesterday saying it’s going to be 19months before they can offer me any form of psychology. I’m going to attempt to make use of the uni counselling services in the mean time, but I can’t and won’t bring my friends down anymore so am going to be dealing with this one on my own for a bit and allow my friends to concentrate on themselves. I think also that some of the symptoms I get and at the times I do are making me appear attention seeking. And that’s the last thing I want. I’d be more than happy to just crawl under a blanket and hide from everyone and everything and deal with it on my own, which is what I’m going to be doing. So the realisation that I’ve contributed to my friends breakdowns and that i’m quite possibly making things worse for myself has made me come to the decision that I need to not be as vocal in real life about my mental health. I’ll probably continue to blog about it, as I do find it helps to get my thoughts in one place, plus I like reading back over them, especially as this blog is coming up for 8 years old now.

I think this will also help the fact I’ve got my exams coming up. Having my exams will give me something to focus on and work through rubbish head stuff for. I know I’m probably going to end up overworking myself, but I’d rather overwork and pass my exams and deal with the consequences after, than not work enough and flunk them because I’d been too busy having a pity party in my head. I’ve got 2 lab reports I need to write plus a lot of lab work to catch up. I’m in hospital this week having my monthly infusion of Aminophylline for 5 days, then I’m hoping to just throw myself into university again. I can’t fault my university for the support they offer me. They are phenomenal and have not once pushed me to do more than I’m able. My tutor has given me his mobile number and I just have to text him and he will come and help me catch up.with work at the library or lab. I’ve been racking my brains for ways to thank both him, and my lab module leader as they are both unbelievably supportive. I’ve been considering moving out of Manchester, and the only reason I’m not at the moment is purely that I love my university and tutors too much.

My dad’s getting married at the start of April, so I’m quite looking forward to that. I’ve not seen a lot of my family on dad’s side for well over 3 years so I’m definitely looking forward to that. Plus the fact that my dad is getting married is a big deal. His last marriage ended in disaster and she was just a manipulative, horrible person. So the fact dad’s found someone he loves enough to actually marry makes me happier than I can put into words. Both my parents are finally getting back on their feet and that’s fantastic. Mum’s got Gerald and Dad has Irene. Here’s hoping it works out for both of them. I’ve warned both Gerald and Irene that if they hurt my parents, i’ll hurt them in ways they can’t even imagine. Protective daughter and all that….

I’m probably going to try and get home for a few days after my exams finish and after the family go to Spain. My uncle is getting married in Spain in May and although I’m unable to go, I’m going to try and get home to see my family afterwards instead. Sophie wants to come with me so it’ll be good for that. As well as that I want to try and take my friends out to Tenerife for a week during the summer. I need to speak to my grandparents about getting a room in the complex for a week and see how much it’s going to cost, but I definitely need a holiday, and so do my friends. It would be actually amazing to be able to just have a girlie holiday and lie by the pool with kindles and be lazy slobs in the sunshine for a week. Here’s hoping my plans happen!

I promise to try and be a bit better at blogging. Not promising anything, but I can try. Might do some blogs about being a disabled student. Uni have asked me to do a “Day in the Life of a Disabled Student” so once that’s been done I might start doing some regular blogs about the different things that I’ve found useful and how I’ve managed, or not managed so far.

So until next time!

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Yoyoing.

The past few months have been a bit like an emotional yo-yo for me. I’ve had as many ups as downs and that’s difficult to deal with. It’s hard to get yourself into a mindframe that can deal with both in short spaces of time.

While the ups have been reasonably easy to deal with, the downs have been extremely difficult. I was home for my birthday in September, and brought Sophie home with me. That was a really good trip home,  even if it did end in Sophie being taken off the plane by the anti-terrorism police and an ambulance crew…. More on that later. It was good to just have a few days of doing very little and spending some quality time with my family. I hadn’t been home since January when everything kicked off with my mental health, and I really missed home.

Having asthma, one has to learn to deal with the unexpected and unwanted experiences. But I think one of those most unwanted things that could possibly happen is when you have an asthma attack on a plane and have to get taken off said plane by the emergency services. Which is exactly what happened to Sophie. Her chest had been rubbish while we were home, and my main aim was just to get her back to Manchester. Needless to say we did some rather foolish things in order to make that happen, but at least we got there. Her chest kicked off though on the descent into Manchester airport, and we had to let the crew know that she needed an ambulachariot. Unfortunately the way it works at the airport is that the first response is the fire crew medics, who decide then if you are poorly enough to warrant a proper ambulance. But if you are going to delay a flight, they have to deploy Anti-Terrorism officers aswell. For all they know you’re delaying it for some naughtier reason than naughty lungs.  But it was amusing watching them all arriving to get Sophie off the plane. Concerned friend and all that, I couldn’t stop laughing and asked them to handcuff her. I’m a good friend. Honest. But that meant that we didn’t get a chance to pick up our checked baggage which was a major pain in the arse. There was stuff like a lot of my spare meds that I needed in it, and my colouring books. Which were definitely an urgent necessity! And then I managed to end up in about 2 days later. So we were both on the respiratory ward at the same time. Thankfully we didn’t get a chance to cause toooo much havoc. I think.

On Wednesday though, something new and totally unexpected happened. I had a seizure. In the middle of WH Smith’s in the sodding Trafford Centre of all places. We think it was related to my adrenal stuff because I’d forgotten my evening steroids, and when Cookie stabbed me with steroids, I came round, but it was a fucking terrifying ordeal. I bit my tongue pretty impressively which made drinking and eating for the past few days a nightmare. It just scared seven bells out of both of us. I think it’s taught me I need to be a lot better at taking my steroids on time. Urgh, the idea of that happening again just scares me in itself.

I did however finally get back to uni this week. I should’ve been back at the end of September, but between being in hospital and my head still not being great it wasn’t as easy as I thought. I went in on Thursday for my first lab. Thankfully this year my lab partner is a lot nicer, and it was his first lab aswell cause he’d moved from Bangor Uni. I managed to spill a pH12 NaOH all over the bench though, I wasn’t flavour of the month with the people around me whose module books I managed to kill. Whoops. I’m in Ireland this weekend because it’s my Mum’s 50th birthday, so I was off on Friday, and missed todays lectures but I’m flying back on Tuesday, so I should be able to get back for my lab on Thursday.  I do want to get back, and it’s getting to me something chronic that I’m struggling so much to do it. I should be able to just go back and get on with work as if I’d never left. Not having my stupid head controlling everything I do. It’s stupid and it’s making me angry. I know I can’t help how my head behaves, but I just want to get back to being normal. Or as normal as I can be.

Tonight I got some news that’s shook me up a bit. In January when my head went to pot, one of the contributing factors was that I’d found out that my nanny had a lump in her temporal lobe. Up until recently they weren’t worried about it and had said they didn’t need to do anything. she’s had a scan recently and they’ve found it’s grown 2cm since they last scanned it in June, and want to see her as a matter of urgency tomorrow. It’s totally freaked me out. I don’t like the idea of ANYTHING being wrong with nanny, never mind it being neurological.  Brain stuff is scary. It could change her. And I don’t like the idea of that.  Nanny and I have always been very close, and the idea that there’s something neuro going on is scary. And unfortunately my science brain has gone into total over drive and is over analysing it all. I’m a bit mental at the best of times, and having something like this to read up on isn’t the best idea.

I understand that life is stressful. But I’d just like a break for a bit. Give me a few weeks of things just going right and easy. And £500 :P. That would help.

It’s been going being home though. It was mum’s 50th birthday yesterday, so the whole family got together on Saturday night for a meal. It was a really good night. It was the first time I’d seen all my family together since my Nanny’s 70th, and it was an opportunity for other halfs to be introduced. I hadn’t met Kieran’s(uncle) new girlfriend Esther and mum got to introduce her new boyfriend, Gerald to the family.  Gerald’s mammy was home aswell and she came along. I was dreading it to some extent because I don’t like big groups of people and I knew that there was quite a lot had gone on that I hadn’t a clue about and I like knowing, but I’m really glad I just bit the bullet and went. It was a fantastic night and I really enjoyed it, and so did mum. Which was the important part.

I’m flying back to England tomorrow though, and hopefully can start getting my teeth back into uni. We’ll see. I’m looking forward to at least trying. Here’s hoping it all goes a bit better than last year.

 

 

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Making tough choices.

The past few weeks have been totally manic for me. Between myself ending up in hospital, Cookie going to Spain and my head going to pot, losing one of my best friends, having to cremate said friend, making the decision to resit first year and making the choice to bring Sophie back to Ireland with me.

At the end of August I was meant to sit my end of year exams at uni. Because of my mental health, my GP, Cookie, Sophie and I had made the decision to defer my May exams to give me the best chance of getting my head into the best place as possible. Unfortunately, I ended up in hospital during the first week of the exams. I managed to make the first one, which was Cell Biology but wasn’t well enough mentally or physically to sit the rest. This left me in a bit of pickle in that I wouldn’t be able to proceed into second year because I didn’t get enough credits. So I attended quite a bit meeting in uni last week with my tutor, lab module co-ordinator and student welfare officer. We have decided that I’m going to redo 1st year as a clean slate and not have to sit the modules I passed, which were Study Skills and (shock horror) Cell Biology. I was totally gobsmacked to see I’d passed CB! It’s my worst subject!

Making the decision to resit 1st year and not just go “fuck it, I’ve had enough” was not easy. Every part of me at that time was not believing I was in anyway smart enough to be doing this course or well enough to be able to keep up. I just wanted to be able to do it in 3 years like everyone else. I know not everyone else didn’t have the crap going on that I did, but still. There’s so much I need to be able to do to keep up, and I’m scared I’m not going to be able to again. And then it’s essentially 2 years of my life and about 15 grand wasted. But I enjoy uni. I love having a reason to get out of bed and do something, I love learning new things and I’m excited to see what the future will hold for me. So I’m going to give it another go. Hopefully now we  know my head is doing a lot better(touch wood), I’ve had my shoulder surgery and hopefully my chest consultant will pull his finger out, things will be a bit easier this year. But I have another reason to work hard, and I’ll explain that in a minute.

I’ve had some rotten luck with the DWP lately. I got back from Leeds and the meeting at uni on Wednesday last week to a letter from the council telling me my housing benefit had been stopped. At this point I totally panicked and rang the council. They told me it had been stopped because it was up for renewal. I’d heard nothing about this and had no letter about it or anything, so needless to say I was a total mess.  At this point I rang the DWP to find out what was going on. They said that they hadn’t actually been cancelled or up for renewal, but in fact they were only suspended because I hadn’t sent in proof of my student finance for this year. I hadn’t a clue I needed to and was surprised when they mentioned it. The woman on the phone told me that they should’ve sent a letter out but didn’t for some reason and the only thing they could do was fit me in at the job centre in person to get the relevant documents sent into them quicker than it would be by post. Thankfully it was pretty much sorted by that afternoon, and hopefully things are semi sorted. Unfortunately due to a change in my student finance rate, my ESA rate has dropped considerably which is causing me a great deal of worry at the minute. I’ve been struggling to manage as it is. I’m debating cancelling a few things that aren’t totally necessary and seeing how much I can knock off monthly bills.  It was just a really shitty week.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Leeds lately. Sophie ended up quite poorly in her local and unfortunately her mum was in the Scottish Highlands and couldn’t get home, so I said I’d hang around to make sure she was OK and not on her own. I ended up with a sore arse from sitting in hospital chairs for so long! But we picked her up from hospital when she was discharged and the difference I saw from when I left her in the evenings during the week was astounding and was good to see. It was absolutely gutting and soul destroying to see her in so much pain and not being able to help or do anything. She really is an amazing human and I wish she understood that. But knowing that she wasn’t on her own has helped us both deal with it a bit. It was a very difficult admission for her, both mentally and physically, and being able to be there to hold her hand and show her the difference that she makes to me when she does the same was rewarding.

The reason I had to leave Leeds was that I had to go to the funeral of one of my best friends. Simi passed at the beginning of August, but due to circumstances we were only able to say goodbye properly last Thursday. It was heartbreaking. I was in no way ready to say goodbye. Simi was doing the same course as me, all be it at a different uni. But it brought us so much closer together and we spent many a night moaning about uni politics, lecturers and the stress of assignments and exams. She would’ve known exactly what to say when I made the decision to resit the year. She always just knew the right thing to say and I can’t see how it’s ever going to not hurt. To not be heartbreaking when I see a picture of us both or to make me cry when I think of good memories. I’m just glad she was able to fill the last few months of her life with things she enjoyed. And that brings some comfort to us all.

I’m going to be going to Ireland on Wednesday for the first time since January. I absolutely cannot wait. I’ve not been home since January because of many circumstances. I’m taking Sophie home with me for the first time ever. I’m totally beside myself with excitement. I’m counting down the days. It’s logistically a nightmare, but the idea of giving Sophie a break for a few days and seeing where I grew up is fantastic. It’s coinciding with my birthday as well so I’m hoping we can all go out for a few drinks. It was tough making the choice to ask Sophie, as she has a lot of medical problems that could stop her flying and is taking a lot of phone calls and toing and froing to try and get it sorted. But I made the choice to ask her if she wanted to and left the ball in her court. And she made the choice to come over! And I’m glad she did! I’ve already started writing my packing list and tidying my room so I’m not having to come back to a bombsite!

 

So anyway, it’s nearly 4am and I’m not asleep.

 

Until next time people x

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Rough seas.

I’ve kind of neglected my blog lately. I do think about it quite a lot,  but it’s finding the time, energy and motivation to actually take the time to start writing. Even more so when you have more revision to do than you can shake a stick at.

So. Since the last time I’ve posted….

It feels like a lot has happened, but in reality it hasn’t. We changed my anti-depressant to a completely different one, I’ve had 2 assessments by two different branches of the mental health trust, I’ve had surgery on my shoulder (Oh yea, that kind of counts as a lot…) and then all the general shenanigans that I get up to.

So I reckon I should just start with the first thing and work my way down. We (GP, me and Sophie) decided that it was time to do something about my antidepressant. It’s going to be a hell of a while before I’m seen by psychiatry (more on that later) so he’s decided to change it and see where we go. I have swapped from mirtazipine which I’ve been on now for about 2 years to Venlafaxine, which tends to be used more in severe depression but it is difficult to manage because you can only increase it every 2 weeks and it can mess about with your heart a bit, and because I’ve got a history of SVT, they’re being a bit cautious. He increased it again on Wednesday so we shall see how that goes. I’m starting to get frustrated with the amount of meds I’m having to take, and it’s getting more and more difficult to make myself take them. It’s frustrating me that nobody trusts me with more than a weeks worth of meds. I can understand why it’s happening, and I’ve been the one having to make that decision on behalf of someone, but it still isn’t easy. I’m losing control of something that has such a big impact on my life and I don’t like it.

I had an assessment with the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT), who are tasked with looking after people with severe mental health problems in the community. , which took 4 appointments. It doesn’t normally take as long, but apparently I’m “complex”. Not going to deny that! But the woman doing it was a total tosspot. She was so rude it was unbelievable. I took both Cookie and Sophie along to different appointments to make sure it wasn’t just me taking things the wrong way, but they both said she was totally out of order. She didn’t quite understand that there’s things I struggle to talk about, and that I may not necessarily be able to very easily. Making me feel bad by telling me I don’t want to get better and that they’re never going to be able to help me isn’t helpful. It was an assessment and she really did push me too much in them without giving me any coping mechanisms to deal with the emotions that she brought back to the surface. I had only just got to the point with my PTSD that I could walk past resus in A&E without having a panic attack and she decided that she wanted me to tell her exactly what happened that night. Despite me explaining I really didn’t want to talk about it for self preservation reasons, and I’d appreciate it if she would let Cookie explain it, she wasn’t having any of it, despite me bursting into tears. My psychologist and GP where absolutely furious with her for doing it. My psychologist told me she didn’t actually need to know the specifics for the purpose of that assessment. As well as that, there’s a rule in Manchester that if you miss two appointments with the mental health trust, even if you have a valid reason (eg being in hospital) they’ll discharge you. Not even 2 consecutive appointments, but 2 appointments at all. She wasn’t willing to discuss it with her manager because apparently too many people were taking the biscuit with it. I can understand that there was people taking the piss, I really do. But when I have a discharge letter from the hospital saying I was an inpatient, surely that counts as a valid reason?! In the end she decided to refer me to the Early Intervention Team (EIT) who are there to help treat the early stages of psychosis. So I had to have an assessment at home with them. That was only the one appointment thankfully, but they decided that my psychosis isn’t actually psychosis but is anxiety and PTSD related. Not sure I agree, but that was their call.  So they referred me back to the CMHT and I had to see the tosspot again yesterday. She’s decided she wants to see me for 6 appointments.  I’m not happy about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the help. I understand that there are people who don’t get any help. But she makes things a hell of a lot worse, and I don’t think I have much room to get worse at the minute. But we’ll see.  I just want to be able to get on with my life the way it was before January. It’s one of those vicious circles that once you’re in, it’s damned near impossible to get out of that I want to get back to uni, but going scares me into having a panic attack, but getting back is going to help my head.

So I had the surgery on my shoulder that I’d been waiting on since last year in April. Feck me that was tough. I was in hospital for Cookie’s birthday again though which sucked. But I did my best and made sure she had some presents to open and she brought them and some cake up on her birthday. I was in for a few days beforehand for IV’s to get my chest right because I had to have a general anesthetic, which in people with naughty lungs is a scary concept. The anesthetist I had seen for my assessment a few months prior had been absolutely lovely. He had said I could have someone in the anesthetic room, a PCA post op and would be allowed someone in the recovery room with me. The anesthetist who actually did my operation wasn’t having any of it and I had to pretty much argue the toss to allow Sophie into recovery. He got the huff when I put my iPod in when I was in the anesthetic room because I was starting to totally panic and was just a general arse. He told me he wasn’t having any of it the night before, so needless to say I didn’t get much sleep that night. My chest kicked off a smidge when I was in recovery and I had to have some magnesium and hydrocortisone, but apart from that it was all good. I think I was in for about 2 weeks in total, but my shoulder is a hell of a lot better now. I spent 4 weeks in sling instead of 3 because I managed to (being me) fall on my sore shoulder about a week post op. I will say though that I’m terrible at doing my physio. I’ve been trying to do it a bit more in the past few weeks, but I am absolutely terrible at remembering. But even despite that, it’s doing well. I’ve a good bit of movement back in it, and I’m slowly building up the strength in it. I’m still not fully trusting of it, but it was the same after my hip replacements. It took me months to trust my leg to take my weight fully when I was going up and down stairs. It’s only been recently that I’ve trusted them enough to go down stairs without holding onto the banister! But I’ll get there, I’m looking forward to hopefully getting back to the gym. I’m not allowed just yet, but I think once I hit 3 months post op in July they’ll let me.

I’m going to be sitting all my exams at the end of August/beginning of September with all the resits. I’m not actually sitting any of them as resits, but because I missed 2 in January because I was in hospital, and with having surgery and my mental health being so rubbish, my GP, me and uni all decided that deferring my exams to then would be better for me. It put less pressure on me because there was no way in hell I was going to be ready by May to sit the exams. Bearing in mind in two of my 4 modules I have to do 2 semesters worth of revision. So I have a kind of revision plan at the minute and I’m really trying to stick to it. Hopefully I will and it will all pay off. As it stands I’m on the fence about repeating first year so we will see how things go when I sit my exams. Not going to lie, I’m nervous as feck, but uni have been fantastic. Because I missed the majority of my labs, I wouldn’t be able to move onto 2nd year because of that. But my module co-ordinator is going to work with me during July and August to catch up and get me to the level for the must pass exam. So here’s hoping!

Trying to think whether anything else big has happened. I went to Edinburgh to see Dad on Father’s Day. He hadn’t a clue I was coming, and seeing his face when he saw me coming up the stairs has to be in my top 15 moments ever. It was good to see him. I’ve not seen Irene or Sean since November, and although I’ve seen dad since, it was only briefly because he came down for the day.  So it was good to spend some proper time with them all. Sean’s voice has broke and he’s getting so grown up. He’s just a little bit older than TJ, but he’s so much more mature. With TJ’s learning difficulties he’s very naive and innocent and can’t really look after himself to any degree. Whereas Sean is a lot more independant. Hopefully though we will get TJ to that level and he’ll be able to be to live independantly. While I was in Edinburgh, I had a massive haircut. I’m still undecided as to whether I like it. I think it’s too short and I look like an oompa loompa, but everyone else says it’s lovely. I think it’s nicer when I can get it tussled and not like a bob. It actually means I have to use products on my hair for the first time in my life. It’s mad. Although the advantage of having it dried in an hour and it taking about a quarter of the time to shower is a massive one. It’s whether or not I can keep it this short or not! I think I might let it grow a bit, and keep it just above shoulder level. But time will tell.

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Unfortunately a few months ago we lost Dolly. Dolly was my Jack Russell Terrier back in Monaghan. She was a total legend. She got me through the worst of stuff with James and was absolutely epic at making me laugh. She had a heart attack when mum went to pick her up from Nanny’s. I was, and still am totally devastated. I can’t imagine going home now and Dolly not being there. It’s going to take some doing. Miss my puppy 😦

 

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If you’ve managed to get to this point and not fall asleep, I congratulate you. I promise to try to be a bit better at blogging. Hopefully once my head starts to wise up, things will get a bit easier and I will have a bit more motivation to do it. Watch this space.

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Wearing a mask.

Trigger Warning – Depression, PTSD, Suicide, Self Harm, Hallucinations, Abuse.

So there has been a lot of talk this week in the news about the lack of support available to people suffering from mental health issues in the UK. They reckon that 3 out of 4 people with mental health issues receive no support whatsoever. Whether that’s because they haven’t been diagnosed, haven’t spoken up about how they’re feeling, or the lack of support available to them once they’ve been diagnosed due to funding or lack of services, it’s happening.

I’ve had depression of some description since I was 13. I’ve got diagnosed PTSD, severe depression and they’re querying some kind of psychosis at the minute. A lot of this stems from issues I’ve grown up with. Be it my stepdads drinking and subsequent emotional and physical abuse, seeing my grandad dying of Motor Neurone Disease or things that have happened during both my mum and dads other relationships as I grew up.  More lately I have lived with someone who suffers from similar issues, but has had to deal with a lot more severe symptoms than me for much longer than me. She was sectioned for 7 months in 2012-2013. I still believe to this day she was sectioned because they didn’t listen to my calls for help when I told them how much she was struggling. I spent 2 years telling them her mental health was getting worse and worse, and wasn’t taken seriously. I remember taking her to see her GP in February 2009 about her worsening mental health and it wasn’t until she took a massive overdose and ended up in Intensive Care nearly dead at the end of 2012 that they stood up and listened, and even then the care she received while an inpatient was absolutely diabolical. She spent 7 months on several different inpatient psychiatric wards being offered absolutely no counselling or therapy whatsoever. When it got too much on the ward and they ended up hysteric, the solution was to sedate them with injections and medication. She was discharged in April 2013, and it took them until September 2015 to offer her some kind of psychotherapy. Not really something that I’d consider acceptable for someone who made a substantial attempt on her life.

This past month has seen a severe decline in my own mental health. Since New Year I’ve struggled to make it out of my flat, have made it to one lecture at uni and have had to start taking regular diazepam, sleeping tablets and have my anti depressants increased with the possibility of adding in an anti psychotic. I’ve been struggling to take my regular medication for my various other conditions, believing they either aren’t helping or using it as a way to self harm. My nightmares have gotten substantially worse and I’m waking up most nights screaming. Today is one of the few days I’m actually able to sit here and rationally explain what’s going on. Unfortunately it comes as I’m in hospital. I was due to be admitted on Monday 15th for my regular elective admission for aminophylline. My GP has been seeing me twice weekly for about a month now, and knew the state my head was in. He rang ahead to ensure the ward was aware of the difficulties I’m having and to try and ensure I would be seen by the on call psychiatry team with the aim of starting some more medication, asked them to make sure I was taking my regular medications, including my steroids and not skipping painkillers just because it’s a good way of causing pain. When I got to the ward, none of this had been done, and none of the staff were aware of the difficulties I’m facing. My friend S, my flatmate and my mum all told them they needed to watch me take my medications as I had been going several days at a time without taking any, which meant I have had about 4 major adrenal crisis’ in 2 weeks.  I was requiring a side room as I’ve tested positive for MRSA so was hoping that my nightmares wouldn’t be too much of an issue for the others on the ward. However it turned out the ward I was admitted to wasn’t my normal respiratory ward, and was in fact the ward that Cookie had been sent to when she was discharged from ICU after the overdose and spent several weeks on. That ward has a lot of bad memories for me and I was struggling in a massive way to deal with my PTSD while there. My first night brought yet another nightmare, and one of the agency staff on the ward shouted at me for shouting and waking the other patients up. It has really mucked my head up and it’s left me even more scared to go to sleep at nighttime than I had already been.  I’m struggling to keep myself going, and I can’t keep taking regular diazepam and sleeping tablets until a proper referral to psych comes through. As it is I’m going to be in hospital longer than I anticipated cause they’ve found I’ve pneumonia which made me fairly poorly, so I’m looking at over the weekend or Monday. I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling. I was seen by RAID which is the sort of on call psych team in the hospital. They were pretty useless and told me to cheer up. Really helpful.

One of the reasons I’m finding things so difficult is that I witnessed something a bit horrific in resus (area of A&E where they bring poorly people who need close monitoring and fast treatment) last time I was there. They brought a 14 year old in, and he was the spitting image of TJ. They were doing CPR on him. He had fallen down the stairs and had a brain bleed. They told his family that they didn’t think he was going to wake up, and were discussing organ donation with his family. It broke my heart and one of my more common nightmares is that it’s TJ on that trolley having CPR performed. I know he’s safe back home, I know he’s OK. But I can’t get my head to understand that, and it’s going to be mega difficult to make my head understand that sub consciously. There’s so many different factors adding into my brain fuck at the minute and it’s not going to be easy to get on top of it. I’m not convinced it’s possible to be honest. So many people have told the powers at be that I’m struggling and they just don’t care. My GP has been epic but he’s banging his head off a brick wall. I’m lucky I have some truly amazing friends who are fighting my corner, even if I don’t want to or can’t.

This is where the findings that have come to light this week have angered me. I asked for help for both myself, and my flatmate. I spent hours fighting for her. I begged them to give her proper help so many times and got ignored. It took her to overdose and end up having a seizure and being admitted to intensive care for them to stand up and pay attention. I’ve been telling them since before Christmas that my head has been getting worse. It’s now at the point where I’m pretty much constantly suicidal and have made so many different plans that my flatmate, GP and S have decided that I can’t be trusted with my own medication anymore and have confiscated my medication trays and morphine. People ask for help. People ask for the support. There just isn’t the support there to give it to them. And GPs hands are tied. They want to help. They see the struggle that we are going through and yet there’s still nothing they can do to help because even when they do ask, they get ignored. So what do you do? Not everyone is lucky enough to have friends like mine. Who drop everything and run when the shit hits the fan. As a result of all of this, uni is suffering. I’ve not been to a lab since before Christmas and my lecturers are starting to get panicked and worried. I want to be able to keep up with uni. I want to be able to go to lectures and labs. I really bloody enjoy it. I did well in the exams I sat, I got over 70% on them both. Which considering I had about a week to revise the entire semesters worth of work. That’s one thing that is keeping me going.

So many people see me smiling and happy. See me joking and cheery. They don’t see what goes on at night. When I wake up screaming. When I’m convinced someone’s sitting on the end of my bed with a knife or telling me to self harm because it will make them go away. It’s a mask. And it’s not one I like having to wear.

Mental health isn’t something that can be ignored. It won’t just go away. It won’t just disappear if we “cheer up” a bit. But something I’m finding helpful is saying “No, I’m not OK” when people ask if I’m OK. I’m accepting things aren’t OK and accepting the help my friends are offering. I’m offloading on more than one person and am trying to make sure that I keep myself reasonably safe. It isn’t always possible, but by making sure my flatmate knows when I’m having massive self harm thoughts, it means she can keep my company until I go to sleep and knows if something does happen and can help me deal with it.

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To the person who “wants the locker so they don’t have to carry books.”

Dear Friend,

Today you saw me using my locker in the lab buildings at university. The ones that we aren’t meant to have on long term loan and get emptied out after each session. You saw me putting the key back on my lanyard, putting my lab coat, folder and some other bits into it, shutting the door and walking out. I heard you mentioning to your friends how unfair it is that I get to have that locker and nobody else can. Well, let me explain to you a bit about why I have that locker.

I have a couple of health problems. Brittle Asthma, Adrenal Insufficiency, Diabetes, Supraventricular Tachycardia (in other words, my heart goes a bit stupid fast sometimes) and have had to have both hips replaced and am waiting on shoulder surgery. I also have a couple of life threatening reactions. So, needless to say, I have to carry a fair amount of extra medications around with me. I’m not actually in uni right now, cause I’m in hospital following a life threatening exacerbation of my asthma. Oh yea, please stop spraying your deodorant in the halls, it’s making my life difficult. Cheers. But this is about half of what is normally kept in my locker at uni. It’s what I like to call my “Get out of jail free” kit. It’s basically the stuff that if it really came down to it, would keep me alive. Sounds dramatic, but it’s kind of true. What you see is my epipen for when I react to the balloons that are currently all over the student union or have a massive asthma attack that goes from 0-100 in 5 seconds, my steroid injection kit (because we all need to look like Hulk, right? Or my body has decided to stop producing it’s own steroids and has chucked a fit at the idea of having to, so I have to carry artificial means around with me incase I get put under a lot of physical stress and need a boost quickly), some nebulisers to stop my airways from closing up when I have a reaction to your deodorant, some cereal bars for when my blood sugars go dangerously low and I start getting grumpy and confused, and then that little orange tin has a lot of tablets in it like more steroids, paracetamol (yes, even we need the paracetamol sometimes, it’s not just a fuck off pill),  anti-histamines, diazepam and some anti sickness. It really does start to add up. And that’s not including the device I have to carry around to use my nebules in, it’s about the size of a CD walkman by the way (if you remember those?) or my blood sugar testing kit.

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So I have to carry a lot around in my rucksack. Don’t forget as well that I’m waiting on surgery on my shoulder, so carrying a heavy bag can add to the pain I get there. And in my hips which have both been replaced. Add into that normal uni stuff like books, notepads, pencil case, a drink and then whatever other crap I have in my bag (I found thai baht in there the other day), It gets heavy. It also means if I manage to forget something important, that I’m not stuck in uni without a rather important medication or piece of equipment. I like to keep spares there incase something like that happens. I think that’s fair, wouldn’t you say?  But I know that “It’s really unfair that there’s one rule for one person, and another for everyone else” and I would totally agree with you that they should provide us all with lockers. But there’s about, what, 3000 people at our university? You planning on putting those lockers in the….?  I would gladly give you my health problems if it meant I didn’t need to use a locker. I know you didn’t mean it in a nasty way, or at least I hope you didn’t. But can you see now why I don’t like having to carry a heavy lab coat, my folders and lab stuff around with me all day after a lab? And why I do need to have a locker?  It’s not just for my deodorant and make up, it’s kind of important.

Cheers

Vicky