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Posts Tagged ‘history’

>I am not feeling that great. Not desperately suicidal or anything. Just not good. I suppose that is a bit of a daft thing to say really as I never feel good. I don’t know how to explain it really. I suppose it is partly just the post show blues making me feel flat – I think that is something everyone experiences after performing. It fills so much of your life, particularly during the actual performance period, and the week or two leading up to that, and so it is bound to leave something of a void when it finishes. It is strange how slowly the last few weeks have gone – it is less than 3 weeks ago that my friend was here, and it feels like so much longer. Back then, just 2 weeks ago, I didn’t even want to go to rehearsals, and I wished I wasn’t doing the show at all. Then it took over for a couple of weeks, and whilst I would say I was happy to be going off out every night, and I didn’t always feel like it, I got on with it, and it was fine, and sometimes it was fun. And now I suppose I just have a gap. It has been quite a few years since I have done a big musical, which may be contributing to it I suppose – I didn’t perform at all, apart from some concerts and festivals, between 2006 and this year, so that was a 4 year gap, which is really quite a long time. I was still dancing, and I did some teaching in that time, and some directing and choreographing etc, but I didn’t actually perform myself, and the last musical I did before Carousel was Les Miserables back in 2005. I actually hadn’t realised quite how big a gap there had been – I knew I hadn’t been performing for a while, but it is only now I have opened up my CV and am actually looking at dates that I have realised just how long. Then in 2006 I did open air Shakespeare, and a very small part in a play, and then absolutely nothing bar concerts/festivals, and extra work in one film in 2007 (which I don’t count as acting as you just stand about and move when you are told to) until the one act play I did earlier this year, then The Tempest, and then Carousel. It is strange – between 1998 and 2003 I did 2 musicals every year, and sometimes a play or pantomime too, and then usually a couple of concerts as part of a choir as well, and various other things, and after that I started doing less and less, until I stopped completely in 2006. I know that is no coinidence – 2005 is when I first tried to kill myself, and also when I moved away to university and was hospitalised etc, and although I did a couple of things in 2006 when I was back home, I know things had changed. They had started to change before that actually – I did my first summer course at a big Drama School in 2002, when I was 16, and I came home pissed off that I was starting A levels rather than a performing course, and unhappy with the quality of the productions I had been doing, and just wanting more. I also had my first audition for a West End production that year, which despite being dreadful, made me want to perform even more, and therefore made me even more frustrated with college etc. Then 2003 was when everything seemed to go wrong and I was first diagnosed with Depression, and given anti depressants, and an Eating Disorder, and referred to the CMHT. And I suppose I just started performing less and less as I just didn’t have the motivation or energy, and I found being around people too difficult. I kept up with dance classes virtually the whole time, and I carried on with singing lessons until about 18 months ago, when a) my singing teacher moved away, and b) I was having severe problems with my voice, and I did some acting classes for a while, and some summer courses etc, but there were absolutely no productions after the summer of 2006, until the spring of this year.

Then this year I decided to force myself to do things, even if I didn’t feel like it. I knew that performing was still the only thing I ever cared about, despite not caring the majority of the time. So I got involved in the 1 act play. I can honestly say I regretted that about 99% of the time. There wasn’t a single rehearsal or performance I wanted to go to, I couldn’t be bothered with it, I didn’t care about it, I didn’t enjoy myself. Then it was on to the Shakespeare. That was better. I still didn’t want to be doing it most of the time, but there were some points that I was enjoying it. Shakespeare wrote so beautifully that it is hard not to get into it – when something is that well written you have to put everything you can into it (as of course you should with everything, but some thing just demand it). So although I never felt like going to the rehearsals or learning my lines, there were times when I was pleased to be doing it. And then Carousel. That has been a bit of a mixed one. I would be lying if I said I haven’t enjoyed it some of the time. I still felt a real lack of motivation towards going to rehearsals, but they generally improved when I got there, although not always. I liked working with a good choreographer. I liked doing the pas de deux (bar the somewhat scary Saturday performances, and of course hurting my back!). It was a little difficult only being in the second half of Act 2, as that meant I didn’t go to many rehearsals, and so really didn’t get to know the cast very well at all, apart from those I was in scenes with, until the couple of weeks before the show week, but when I did get to know them they were a really lovely bunch. I got to know the other principal females particularly well during the week of the show when we were sharing a dressing room, and that was great – they were good fun. So there were lots of positives. On the other hand, there were also days when the thought of going out to a rehearsal had me in tears, as it just felt too much, and a couple of rehearsals that I didn’t go to because it was just more than I could face. 3 weeks ago I would have said I would be massively relieved when it was over. But it really did improve a lot during the week before the show, and the week of the show itself. I wasn’t happy, and I wasn’t hyper and excitable like I used to be during shows, and like other people were. I felt quite flat and numb. I didn’t get at all nervous, which actually isn’t a good sign, as you need a bit of adrenaline to give a good performance I find. But it was the most positive performing experience I have had this year. Maybe because it was a musical, and really that is what I am most passionate about, or maybe because of having such a great cast, particularly in my dressing room. I don’t know. I still didn’t have the spark I want, but I didn’t spend my whole time wishing I was at home, and that has to be a good thing right? Goodness, this was such a tangent. I can’t even remember what my point was….

Right, yes. So when you are doing a show, it kind of takes over you life, and when it finished you are just left with this hole. I suppose it is particularly strong because I haven’t been doing anything else this week either – normally I would have been to ballet twice, but it has been half term so that hasn’t been on. So yes, I suppose I am partly just feeling a bit empty because of the show being over. Then I am struggling with my weight and food as usual. I ate far more today than I should have, and so feel terrible, and am really scared of what the scales will say tomorrow, but not weighing is not an option. Then there is normal depression stuff. I am doing better than I was a few weeks ago I think – I have read a few books over the last couple of weeks, which is usually at least a vague indicator for me, as when things are really dreadful I can’t read. But I just feel kind of on edge. I am still having lots of suicidal thoughts, but I am not in that numb, unable to move type depression. I feel a bit impulsive I suppose, which kind of scares me, because in some ways it feels more unsafe, but I don’t think I am at risk of acting on the suicidal thoughts at the moment, even in an impulsive mood. I have been getting a lot of urges to self harm though. They are often strong when I am really frustrated with my weight and body. I wish I could just cut big slices of fat off. Off my thighs. I keep getting these pictures flashing into my head of just carving massive chunks of fat off my legs. I won’t attempt it – that isn’t my style, but I would like to. I really need to find a way of getting in control of my weight and what I am eating, because at the moment it is just making me feel terrible about myself. I need to lose weight. I can’t even express how important that feels at the moment, and yet how impossible.

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>Anniversary

>I first tried to kill myself 5 years ago today, 26th June 2005. It was a Sunday. It was pretty impulsive. The suicidal thoughts had been around a lot, but I hadn’t planned when I was going to overdose or anything, although I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to keep myself safe over the weekend, and had said so to the psychologist I was seeing at the time. My dad was away at Glastonbury. It was Sunday afternoon, and my mum was out, and I just couldn’t cope any more, and I took an overdose. Just paracetamol. I didn’t know any better at the time. I had written a note, which I had left next to my bed, and I think it was about 10PM when my mum came up and found me. I had been sleeping, but I was fully conscious etc. When the ambulance crew came they were absolutely convinced I had taken something else too because my pupils were so dilated, but I hadn’t. I just have big pupils. I was taken to hospital, and they did blood tests, and then put me on a drip. I assume it was too many hours after I had taken it for charcoal. I was on the drip for 2 or 3 days, and by that time my bloods were back to normal. On the thursday I was assessed by the psychiatrist on duty. I remember him not speaking very good English, and asking a lot of stupid questions, like ‘If I let you go home are you going to kill yourself again?’ which I remember finding quite amusing. I was given the choice of being admitted to the psychiatric ward or going home. I naturally chose to go home. My birthday was 2 days later.

When I look back at that, 5 years ago, it upsets me. 5 years later and I am no better. In fact, I am worse than I was back then. I was still living a normal life back then – I just felt very bad, and my bulimia was quite bad. But I was still going to college, although I remember having to leave some lessons because I was too much of a mess. Ok, I took an overdose, and I did feel like I wanted to die, but the thoughts were nothing compared to how much stronger they got in later years. I wish that it had worked, or that I had managed to kill myself at some other point since then. I have achieved absolutely nothing in the last 5 years. My life has mainly consisted of staying in my room. I have very rarely felt happy or contented. I have just been surviving. And I don’t see the point of just surviving – I may as well not be here at all. If I had known 5 years ago that I was going to be in this position now, I could not have coped. I would have kept trying to kill myself until it had worked. But back then I still had hope some of the time. Now I don’t. 7 years of Depression has eradicated that. I am convinced that at some point I will end up killing myself – trying not to is just delaying the inevitable. I just wish it had happened years ago, and I hadn’t had to go through all of this.

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>I have decided to write about my experiences fairly chronologically, but divide it into experiences within that. I don’t know when my mental health problems started really, so I am going to start writing about my experiences from the first time I sought help for them. I am a little hazy about the timing of all of this, for example I know that the following events all took place between the Summer of ’03 and the Summer of ’04, but I may have some in the wrong order. Which doesn’t really matter to be honest. Again, it may all be pretty dull, but I have already forgotten so much of what happened that I want to write it down before I forget everything!

First contact – I was 17 at the time, at 6th Form College, and had been feeling very low, and also started making myself sick. I knew this wasn’t right, and I ended up going to talk to my English teacher, AJ, about it. She was very supportive, and I ended up talking to her a lot, most weeks for the whole academic year. She persuaded me to go and see my GP about what was going on, which after a month or 2 I did. She also booked an appointment for me to see the college counsellor. She also got me a lot of literature on bulimia, and found out about treatment etc, and also got the college to buy a Self Help Bulimia book that had been recommended to her by someone she had spoken to when finding out about treatment.

First GP appointment – This was not a terribly positive experience. I was obviously very nervous, and went in there and mumbled that I was there because my teacher at college thought I might be depressed. He started asking me the usual questions – how is your sleep, concentration etc etc. When it got to how is your eating I said that I had been making myself sick. His response was ‘Why have you been doing that? You’re not overweight are you? Jump on the scales. (I did so). No, you’re not overweight, so why are you doing that?’. As anyone who has had an ED knows, this is NOT a helpful response. And it almost felt as though he was saying that if I was overweight it would have been acceptable to have been purging. I left the appointment with a prescription for 20mg of Citalopram and instructions to come back in 1 month.

Second GP appointment – When my month was up and I was due to go back to the GP I decided I couldn’t face seeing the same one again, as I had left feeling so awful. I decided to see the other GP at the surgery that I sometimes saw. I felt slightly uncomfortable about this, as although I was happy enough to see this GP for physical problems, I did know him personally, having sung in concerts and been in plays with him etc, and so felt a little awkward talking to him about my mental health problems. The appointment went far better than the previous one had though, and he raised the Citalopram dose to 40mg, and made a referral to the CMHT. Although he was very helpful, I did feel a bit uncomfortable talking to him about things, and so made the decision to change to the other local GP surgery, where there was a female GP, so all future appointments were with her. My anti depressants were changed at some point from Citalopram to Sertraline, but I can’t remember when, or to what dose.

Counselling – As I already mentioned, AJ had made me an appointment to see the college counsellor. This was a very difficult experience for me. I wasn’t used to talking about feelings – I just didn’t do that. And this particular counsellor was the type where you both sit there in silence until you start talking. Needless to say I didn’t get on very well with this approach. I remember having appointments where we would both just be sitting there in silence until it got too much for me and I would make an inane comment about the curtains or the colour of the carpet or something. I didn’t feel like I was getting much out of this, and after a few months I switched to seeing the other college counsellor. To be honest I don’t actually remember that much about her. She did ask more questions than counsellor number 1, which I found easier, but I don’t remember finding it terribly helpful. I remember her making a funny little ‘mm mmm’ noise every time I said anything at all, even if irrelevant, which was slightly distracting, and her talking quite metaphorically about bulimia a lot – the purging was about getting rid of the feeling and emotions that I was experiencing, and by throwing up I was attempting to get rid of them or something.

Assessment – At some point, I believe in early ’04, I had my assessment appointment at the CMHT. As I had no formal treatment prior to this, only the counselling sessions at college, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. My assessment was with the team Clinical Psychologist, and one of the CPNs. They asked me lots and lots of questions, which I answered as best as I could, which in retrospect was probably pretty badly, as talking about feelings was still such an alien concept to me. It was the usual deal of one talking, and the other writing, and they were both very nice. The outcome of the assessment was that I would be put on a waiting list to see the Clinical Psychologist, which would be about 6 months, and they recommended a self help book in the meantime, which was the same as the one that AJ had already got.

Next time – being under the CMHT, suicide attempt, more anti-depressants, and various psychiatrists.

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>I have decided to write a series of posts about some of my experiences within the MH system. I will discuss my experiences of inpatient and outpatient care, NHS and private, and people who have been important to me during this time. To start with I am going to do a timeline, outlining the major events, both MH, and what I was doing life wise at the time. This will probably be fairly dull, but will help to form the basis of future posts.

2003 – Aged 16/17
– Was at 6th Form College – took my AS levels in the Summer of ’03
– First spoke to someone about the difficulties I was having with my mood and eating
– Had first experience of counselling, at college
– First saw my GP regarding my MH problems
– First started anti depressants
– Was referred to the CMHT by my GP

2004 – Aged 17/18
– 6th Form College – took my A levels in the Summer of ’04
– Was assessed by the CMHT
– Was diagnosed with Bulimia and Depression
– Began seeing a Clinical Psychologist at the CMHT
– Saw the first in a line of Psychiatrists
– Started anti depressant number 2

2005 – Aged 18/19
– Still at college – had stayed on an extra year
– Started anti depressant number 3
– Bulimia diagnosis changed to EDNOS
– First serious suicide attempt – was in hospital for medical purposes, but did not go into a psychiatric hospital
– Went to university
– First psychiatric admission, to NHS Acute Psychiatric Ward number 1
– Started anti depressant number 4
– Returned to university
– Second psychiatric admission, to NHS Acute Psych Ward number 2, then transferred to Posh Private Hospital
– Was discharged from Posh Private Hospital, deemed too ill to return to Uni, so came home

2006 – Aged 19/20
– Registered with a new GP, which meant I was now under a different CMHT to the one I had been prior to Uni
– New care coordinator was an OT
– New GP went off sick
– Was first under the Crisis Team in terms of daily visits
– Was referred to day hospital
– Was out of area for day hospital
– Started Art Therapy group
– Started seeing a support worker
– Started attending local MIND drop in centre
– Care Coordinator went off sick
– GP returned

2007 – Aged 20/21
– Had informal family therapy
– GP went off sick
– Had 3 session assessment appointment with a Clinical Psychologist
– Received a new Care Coordinator as the other was still off sick
– Started anti depressant number 5

2008 – Aged 21/22
– GP returned
– Stopped Art Therapy group
– Care Coordinator was promoted to manager, so stopped seeing me
– Support Worker left
– Stopped attending MIND centre
– Started seeing the Psychologist I had been assessed by the year before
– Was diagnosed as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder
– Started an evening course in London, and was planning to move there
– Second serious suicide attempt – again was on medical ward, but not psychiatric
– Started anti depressant number 6 (which was number 1 again, but a higher dose, and with Tryptophan alongside)
– GP went off sick
– Switched GPs (to my current GP – Dr O). This meant I was now under the original CMHT again
– Under Crisis Team again
– New Care Coordinator was an incompetant Social Worker

2009 – Aged 22/23
– Started seeing my current Psychiatrist – Dr E
– Had formal family therapy
– Started seeing my current Support Worker, N
– Attended an Anxiety Management course run by MIND
– Multiple visits to A&E
– The Narcissistic Personality Disorder diagnosis was scrapped, and replaced with Borderline Personality Disorder
– After much fighting, got a new Care Coordinator – my fantastic CPN, L

And that brings us up to date! Sorry that was so boring, and far longer than I expected. I have missed out some minor overdoses that weren’t proper suicide attempts, and am unsure of all the dates of my GP going off sick and returning, so I guessed some of them. I am unsure whether to continue the rest of the series by talking about things in chronological order, or in themes. Chronological order may be a bit dull, but themes might get confusing if I start talking about things that haven’t happened yet! I am leaning towards chronological, perhaps with some old diary excerpts, and them a separate post on the important people in all of this (ie those I have been quite attached to). I might start with that, as it is the simplest. This is probably all quite dull to people reading, but if there is anything in particular that you would like me to write about then please say.

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>Skin games

>I was going to self harm now. I kind of did, but it wasn’t actual self harm. Actually it wasn’t self harm at all. It was more playing with my skin and a blade. Seeing how far I could dig the blade into the fat on my thigh. Pushing it hard. But not slicing. There is definitely far too much fat on my thighs. Looking at them makes me feel physically sick. It hurt like slicing does, but it didn’t really bleed. Skin is pretty tough really. I can push a sharp blade into my leg with all my strength and it only cuts through a few layers of skin. Quite impressive stuff when you think about it. I suppose this playing with a blade game should be win win really – the pain without the scar. But it isn’t the same without the blood. I want to do it properly now, but I know there is no point really. It will only make me feel better for about 5 minutes. I want to overdose really. That would be infinitely more satisfying. Even if it doesn’t work it is. Obviously it would be most satisfying if it did work. But even if it doesn’t, it still calms me down a bit. I suppose because the discomfort lasts for longer. And because I get taken care of for a few days somewhere safe. Safety is reassuring. But even small overdoses that I haven’t been to hospital for have been quite satisfying. Maybe because I know I am hurting myself inside.

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>So a little bit about me. As I said in my profile, I am 23, and this blog will probably be mostly Mental Health related. I live in the South East of England with my parents. I started having problems with depression and bulimia when I was 17, for which I was given Prozac and a CMHT referral. At 18 I started seeing a psychologist at the CMHT, whom I saw for about a year, and various psychiatrists. I also tried to kill myself. Several years/hospitalisations/suicide attempts later and here we are. My diagnosis is now Borderline Personality Disorder, which I have rather mixed feelings about, that I will discuss another time. Prior to this my diagnoses were depression, anxiety, and EDNOS. All still apply. I just have a shiny new label on top. I have a fantastic CPN, who is my Care Coordinator, who I will refer to as L. I see her weekly. I also see N, my support worker weekly, and Dr E my psychiatrist, and Dr O my GP monthly.

I would say that I am not a ‘typical’ Borderline in some ways. Although I do self harm, it is infrequent, and superficial. It is something I do as a last resort, when I am very suicidal, in an attempt not to do anything worse. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it doesn’t. I tend to be rather sarcastic, rather un PC, and laugh about my problems. Sometimes this doesn’t go down too well with the professionals. I think that is probably about all I have to say for now. Beware though, I usually ramble on for far longer than this.

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