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
What is OK? I think everyone has different definitions of what OK is for them, or for what they think OK should be.
Above is what Google reckons OK means. But I think everyone has their own definition. I think for me, OK is being able to live my life without having to rely on extra medications and being able to do the stuff every day that I want to. Like going into uni everyday, not being scared of going out and not having panic attacks at the idea of doing simple things. That for me would be epic. At the minute I can’t say I’m OK. I’m needing a lot of medication on top of my regular stuff to get through the day. Things like extra promazine, diazepam, sleeping tablets and then strong doses of antidepressants and antipsychotics. It’s hard. I was in hospital with an asthma attack over the past week, and while I was in there was a prescribing error and I went about 4 days without any of my anti-anxiety or psychotic medications. I spent a lot of the 3rd and 4th night sitting shaking and fidgeting so much I thought I was going to vibrate off my bed. I ended up making my chest worse because I was so restless I ended up wandering around the hospital for about half an hour trying to get rid of some of the excess energy.
But there’s other kinds of not OK. There’s physically not OK. I spent so long dealing with physical not OK, that when emotional not OK happened, I didn’t know how to deal with it. It took those around me to recognise it and tell me I wasn’t OK. I wanted to deal with it in my own way and that was to ignore the blatantly obvious. I spent so much time worrying about other people that I missed things getting worse with me. And I’ve learnt from it. What have I learnt from it?
I’ve learnt it’s OK to not be OK. It took a long time for me to be able to say that. It’s the beginning of July now, and I only started to be able to say that in, maybe May? I wanted for so long to be able to deal with everything and not need to ask for help. But it didn’t make any difference because everyone around me knew there was something not right and I realised that. It took me a long time but I knew that by admitting I wasn’t OK that I could get help faster which would mean getting better quicker. By saying “I’m not OK” I’ve been able to get to the point that when I say that I am OK, people actually believe it. It also means that I’m able to help tell people what’s making me not OK as much. Or other people are helping me figure out how I’m not OK. I’m still not OK in the grand sense of the term. I might have OK days, where things go right and I feel better, but overall I know I’m not OK. But that’s OK. Because I’ve got people looking out for me to make me be OK. Which if I had’ve kept saying I was OK, I wouldn’t have. It’s taking time. And I hate that. I’m not a patient person and I don’t want to wait around for something to happen. Hopefully with a combination of the right medications and therapy (which is ongoing, but I’m not convinced I’m getting the right kind with the feck wit I’m seeing) will get me to a point where I can say I’m OK more than saying I’m not OK.
Just remember that it’s OK to not be OK.
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.
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 😦
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.
As you’re lying beside me snoring and making dodgy sleepy noises (I just poked you to check you are breathing by the way), It reminds me how lucky I am to have you. It’s not easy being friends with me. I have a lot of baggage. But when you have as much going on in your life and you’re doing as much as you do for me is one of those things that is just amazing.
On the 11th March last year you posted on a support group we both use saying you had been transferred to my local hospital and I asked if you wanted a visitor. You’d been quite poorly yourself and were quite far from home. I remember bringing you smoothies and juice, a colouring book and markers and a small cuddly frog (there may have been other things, but I can only remember those and you turning down a bacon sarnie on the basis you’re a rabbit). It was the beginnings of a friendship that I hope I’ll never lose. I didn’t expect to speak to you again for a bit when you were discharged because you’d been really poorly. Although I was worried about you, I thought you needed some space. But you messaged me when I posted a message on Facebook saying I was having a rubbish day and felt poop, both mentally and physically. This was only about 3 days after you had been discharged, so as much as I was pleased you’d messaged me, I was totally surprised. But it was yet another reason why I think you’re fantastic. You spent ages talking to me that night and I was able to go to bed and not have a total meltdown over something, that looking back, probably wasn’t actually that big a deal. But a year down the line, I’ve totally lost count of the amount of times you’ve done the same, sometimes even staying up until silly o’clock with me.
I remember getting the train to come see you about 3 weeks later and we spent hours just sitting talking and putting the world to rights. We both talked about stuff that I’d never even spoken to my lifelong friends about. But I trusted you as if I’d always known you. I think because we’ve both been through so much and have similar health problems, we just got each other. You understood what goes through my head when I get frustrated about the restrictions my asthma and joints place on my life. Very few people truly understand that, and it was so good to finally have someone that I didn’t need to try and explain myself to when I didn’t have the energy to do something that most people would expect me to be able to do without hesitation. And you knew about “The Spoon Theory”. Bonus. I know there’s other people around me to talk to. And I feel truly grateful to have them. But I don’t know. You just understand so much more. You understand the fear of ABG stabs in A&E. The fear of cannulas in certain places and the fact that sometimes I just want to stay in bed and not move because I just don’t have the energy.
In January this year, my mental health crashed in a big way. I overdid it with revision for uni, staying up until 2/3/4am and getting up about 8am again for about a week, it was my stepdad’s 2nd anniversary and things were going downhill with my chest, fast. This triggered a breakdown for me, and you were the first person who picked up on it and acted on it. You helped talk me down when I was psychotic, and drove over and dragged me to the GP about it when my exams finished. I don’t think I’d have had the guts to go on my own, and although my flatmate would’ve taken me eventually, I didn’t tell her how bad things had gotten and I don’t think she’d have gotten the message across in the same way. But you started the ball rolling in getting me the proper help I needed. You stayed with me for about 2 weeks in total, and every night when I was having a nightmare, you’d wake me up, help me calm down and then get back to sleep again. When I was absolutely terrified of something most people would consider stupid, you didn’t patronise me or make me feel small for it. You took me back to the GP again and again until they finally started doing something. I went through a phase where I seriously struggled to take any of my medication, which when you have multiple medical problems, isn’t really a sustainable scenario. You helped me get to a point where I was able to take most of them, and when I went into hospital with my chest, you made sure they knew I was struggling.
When I had surgery last month, you came to stay. You got up at 7am to be at the hospital with me before they brought me down to theatres because you knew how scared I was. You demanded they let you into recovery afterwards despite the fact they don’t normally allow it. When the anaesthetist changed everything they had promised me the night before the operation, I was 90% close to telling them they weren’t doing the operation, signing out and going home. I was scared beyond belief. But between you and Nugget, you got me to a place that I was able to get some sleep and wasn’t completely terrified. I’d let them operate. You made sure that the staff knew I was scared and have done so many times beforehand.
Things have been pretty rubbish in my life lately, but things haven’t exactly been easy for you either. You’ve had a lot to deal with in terms of your own physical and mental health, and have juggled a job, lots of health problems and coming over to see me at least once every 2 weeks since January. Most people wouldn’t have done the amount you have for me, purely because you have so much in your own life to deal with. But you stuck by me. And as much as I’ve told you it over and over again, I don’t think you truly understand just how much this means to me. Life’s difficult when you have a chronic illness. Looking after yourself takes up so much energy, but when you add in looking after other people, it increases the energy need tenfold. But you do it and don’t moan about it or make me feel bad for asking.
I feel safe with you around. Things aren’t as scary and I know that when I have a nightmare, panic attack or become psychotic, you will help as much as you can and if you can’t help at the time, will make sure Nugget knows I’m struggling. I know lately you’ve had to make some pretty tough decisions for me and I know you think I hate you for making those decisions, but things couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve been the person having to make tough decisions that you’re not sure are the right ones, but I promise you from the bottom of my heart, I’m not angry and I’m not bitter. And I will never, ever hate you for making those decisions. If anything, I’m thankful that you made them. Because as much as it might anger me in the short term, in the long term I know it’s the right thing.
So thank you. Thank you for sitting with me in A&E. Thank you for making me be sensible when I want to sleep and should be taking steroids and drinking Lucozade (and stabbing me with hydro when I throw a strop and don’t take my steroids). Thank you for staying up until 2am and talking me through a psychotic episode. Thank you for being able to explain things to my GP when I can’t. But most of all, thank you for being someone I can call my best friend, who I can pour my heart out to and will never, ever judge me.
Love you Spud.
So since my last post, things haven’t improved much. I’m on more medications now for my mental health than I’ve ever been and am still struggling to manage the most stupid of tasks like leaving the house.
I’m frustrated with myself. I want things to change. I want to be able to enjoy things. I hate seeing the strain it’s putting on Cookie knowing how much I’m struggling. The worst part is, I know exactly what she’s going through. I spent so long going through the same fight with her. So I know how tough it is seeing your best friend so low and not being able to help. I don’t want to push her away, but at the same time I’m terrified of hurting her. Of her feeling even more helpless. She’s my best friend and my person. Anyone who watches Greys Anatomy would see us as Yang and Meredith. It’s that kind of relationship. I’ve told a few people who I trust to the ends of the earth what’s going on, and have urged her to talk to people about how she’s feeling about it. I’ve always been the person she talks to, and now she feels like she can’t. It’s breaking my heart. But she still needs someone, and even if it isn’t me, she needs to know that there are people there for her. Hopefully she knows that.
I’m scared things are never going to get better. I was in hospital last week with my asthma, and my consultant actually told me he’s worried about me. Which he’s never actually done before. Apparently he knows things are rubbish because I don’t argue with him. I’m fed up of my lungs ruining my life and dictating so much. I’ve had to defer my end of semester exams until August because I just don’t have time to learn everything, and have surgery in April.
I was meant to have surgery on the 18th March. I had been for an anesthetic assessment with the anesthetist the week before and it wasn’t the anesthetist that I knew the consultant wanted, so I rang the consultants secretary who said the surgeon was on leave and she’d speak to him when he got back. So I rang them on Weds 9th, Thurs 10th and Fri 11th to make sure they were aware of the anesthetist issue. They said everything was fine and it was all going ahead. I rang on Monday 14th to check I had a bed for IV’s. I was due in for IV Aminophylline for a week before my operation to make sure my lungs were as good as possible. Got told I had a bed and everything was going ahead. Was just about to leave to go to the hospital and got a phone call from the asthma nurses saying it had been cancelled. I just didn’t know what to say. I was gutted. I need this surgery to be over and done with. It’s fecking with my head and I’m fed up with being in pain. On top of that it was timed perfectly. I’m on my easter break for the next three weeks so I wouldn’t have had to miss much uni. And they did this. So now it’s delayed until the 15th April. If they do it. They’re querying if I have MRSA in my lungs which is totally shite. Just need a straight answer from them about what’s going on.
I’m scared. I want to be able to enjoy uni again. I want to look forward to going out with friends. To not being scared to do things I used to be able to do in a heartbeat. I’m scared of the nightmares I’m having. Of waking up screaming that my dead stepdad is trying to kill my little brother. Heads are scary places.
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.