The year that was

December 28, 2011

So, I’ve survived 2011 relatively intact. The most significant achievement I suppose is that it’s the first year in a long time that I haven’t tried to top myself. It’s sad in a way that I put that down as the highlight of my year but sometimes just surviving is a small miracle in itself. I’m not going to pretend it’s been plain sailing, or that the desire to end it all has gone, but for one whole year I’ve resisted acting on them. Not only that, I’ve avoided A+E visits, ambulance calls and crisis team invasions. I know most people do perfectly well without any of those for their whole lives but to me it’s significant.

The year started with me falling back into depression and slight psychosis. I refused to leave the house as I believed everyone stared at me and judged me and I lost all sense of direction. Things improved significantly with a change of medication and I had a few months where it was pretty good. I wasn’t symptom free but things seemed to fit in the normal sphere of human existence. For a while I even flirted with the idea that I was cured.

In the middle of the year, there was a lot of upheaval with a move halfway across the country and a massive home renovation. It was a chance to live with my boyfriend of a year and it enabled me to start university once again. As the date for university approached, I was full of doubts. I questioned whether I had made the right decision and if I would be able to cope with the course pressures. The course started and initial enjoyment unfortunately didn’t last. A combination of course stress, student finance fuck ups and a car crash lead to me dropping out. It was yet another failure to add to my substantial list.

I fell back into depression. My motivation dropped through the floor and there it’s stayed. I angered my boyfriend through my lack of anything and barely moved from the sofa for weeks. Over the last few weeks though, things have slowly started to look up. My fledgling craft business has started to come to life with a couple of excellent craft fairs which has led me to believe that there may be a future niche there for me to exploit.

Today I met a psychologist through the day hospital. He thinks he can help me particularly with the black and white thinking which is one of my biggest problems. He’s prepared to help me and I start therapy next week. I am investing a lot of hope into it as I really feel it is my last chance to find something to help in the long run. Purely from an academic viewpoint, I am fascinated to see how therapy works. It is something I have been waiting for for a long time.

As for next year, in January I am starting a craft course which potentially will give me further business opportunities. More on that if and when it develops. I hope to grow my craft business further, establishing a website and starting to sell on Etsy. I really hope I can make it work, it would be an ideal “job” as I could work the hours I want and set my own agendas. There’s a lot to come to terms with in terms of tax and benefit implications but I am hoping that with a bit of help I can take it somewhere. I have also been referred to the gym by my doctor which should allow me to exercise on the cheap. I would very much like to get some of my fitness back. In the last 18 months I have put on so much weight through a combination of antipsychotics and lack of motivation and it would be brilliant to shift some of it. It’s an exciting opportunity.

So in conclusion, I am approaching 2012 with cautious optimism. I can’t pretend to be happy with where I am right now but it seems I have the best chance in a while to change that. I would love for this to be the year that my life really turns around. I’ve been ill for so long, surely I deserve for some of that to change.


Day Hospital

December 5, 2011

I spent my first day at the Day Hospital today. In the morning, there was an art group. Slightly unsurprisingly we were making christmas decorations – in this case paper snowflakes. You know the ones, you fold up paper and then cut artistic holes in it. I have a degree from arguably the best university in the world and I am reduced to activities that wouldn’t stretch your average primary school child. If you want an example of how mental illness completely destroys your life, that’s it there. Sorry, it wasn’t that bad. It doesn’t help that I’m rubbish at cutting things neatly particularly as there were no left handed scissors. I get the impression they’re fairly stretched for resources which is a shame, it’s hard to enjoy art if you don’t have the supplies to do it. I’ve said next week I’m going to take in some paper chains. I love making paper chains!

After lunch was anxiety management. I tend to view self help as patronising bollocks which I’m aware is a bad viewpoint from which to approach it. It just seems a bit like using a plaster to treat a shotgun wound, ie completely ineffective. But as boyfriend said to me when I got home, a plaster is better than nothing.

We were discussing avoidance, something I am often guilty of. Apparently the solution is to approach it in baby steps. For example, if you can’t leave the house, start by standing in the door for a while. Do that for a few times, then move to the doorstep and so on and so forth. For it to work we were told to do at least 90 minutes a day. Like I have the concentration for that! The thing that frustrated me most and it’s what always gets me with self help is some steps are just not considered. In this case it said initially “Don’t get overwhelmed by the vastness of what there is to achieve” or summat like that. The problem is though, I am overwhelmed. That’s the whole reason I’ve got half the problems, if I knew how to not be overwhelmed by it, it wouldn’t be a problem. There’s no explanation of how to tackle it if you do get overwhelmed, just a statement saying don’t do it. It doesn’t work. Things like that get my back up and mean I don’t try to engage with the rest of the exercise which is a pity.

After a break we did a breathing exercise followed by a relaxation technique. I just can’t take this sort of thing seriously. If I try and quiet my mind and concentrate on breathing, my head gets full of extraneous rubbish. It was perfectly pleasant though, as relaxation often is. I just can’t see it working in a crisis situation. If I’ve got the urge to do damage to myself, I can’t imagine stopping to do a breathing exercise and then seeing how I feel. Assuming of course, that I could summon the concentration for and remember the details of said exercise.

I sound really ungrateful don’t I? I don’t mean to, I know I’m lucky that such a service exists at all. Given the cutbacks, I’m fortunate that there is somewhere safe I can go to, at least between the hours 0f 9 and 4, Monday to Friday. During those hours, there will be someone who can talk to me and hopefully help. At the moment, I’m only booked in to do activities on a Monday. I can go in the rest of the time and sit and cross stitch in the coffee area if I want to. There is the option to add other groups, maybe after Christmas. I’ll think about it. It’s good to get out the house. When I’m home all the time it winds my boyfriend up no end. So I am grateful, it’s just frustrating that self help doesn’t really seem to help me.