A favourite quote and a way by which to approach life.

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Away with it

I haven't been away since Christmas.  I was meant to be going up to Edinburgh to stay with my mum and step-dad over Easter, but when the time came, I wasn't able to concentrate enough to drive that far safely.  Actually, I was barely driving at all because I didn't feel it was fair on other road-users for me to do so at the time, such was my lack of concentration.  In the end, Mum and J came down to me for a couple of days over Easter, and Mum's been down to stay with me a couple of times on her own since then too.  At last, I have made it up north to stay with them.  To be honest, my concentration still wasn't very good on the drive up, but I don't think I was dreadfully unsafe (I wouldn't have come if I thought I would be).  Thankfully the roads were pretty quiet too as I came up in the middle of a bank holiday weekend (Sunday), and it was a fairly easy run.

My sleep is still very erratic, and I don't know whether it was just the change of scenery or what, but last night was very unsettled.  I felt all wrong.  I can't really describe it ... just sort of out of place, which isn't something I usually feel at Mum's.  I think perhaps it's just the weird way that things are at the moment, but it was most unnerving, and it contributed to me not getting to sleep until after 6am.  Of course, this meant that I then didn't wake up terribly promptly, and eventually Mum woke me with a cuppa at 12.30pm.  There's something very lovely about being brought a fresh cup of tea in bed, don't you think?

The good weather seems to have left Edinburgh as soon as I've arrived (typical!) and today has been very blustery and a tad chilly.  Not that I went outside to experience the chilliness - I took J's word for it when he popped to the shops.  No, I have done very, very little today, almost to the point of beginning to go a little stir-crazy.  I have, though, played the piano.  Mum has a wonderful baby grand piano in the living room, which, for some reason, I've shied away from playing for the past couple of years, perhaps just because I haven't been playing much at home either.  However, I have played a little more at home recently, so I decided to bring some music up with me in case I got itchy fingers, especially as I don't have my violin with me.  I spent an hour or so this afternoon sight reading some Scarlatti sonatas, and playing one that I used to be able to play, but which hasn't seen the light of day for maybe seven years or so.  That one's the Sonata in B minor (in case you're interested), and it's odd because although I haven't played it for such a long time, I have 'sung' it in my head a huge number of times during these past difficult months.  Actually, it's a piece that has often come to mind at a variety of different points in life during those years that I haven't played it.  I've no idea why.  Anyway, I can't say that I brilliantly today, by any stretch of the imagination, but my fingers did seem to remember most of it - just enough so that at times I would forget to read the music and I'd then very quickly forget where I was up to and lose my place.  I have to say, it makes a big difference playing a proper piano to playing my digital piano that I got 21 years ago.

There are few things at the moment in which I can really lose myself, and from which I gain solace, but music is, at last, providing a bit of both again.  I still don't have the right words to do the writing that I really want to be getting on with, but I am reassured by the presence of creativity in a different area, perhaps a neighbouring area of brain.  That's what I'm hoping, anyway, and it does kind of feel like that.  It feels like the music might gently tickle the writing 'muscles' and nudge them in to action.  I know that I need that to happen, but I'm also just trying to take comfort in the creativity of the music itself.  I can lose myself in music, and whilst listening to music can achieve that to a degree, it doesn't satisfy the fidgetiness of emotional upset/distress.  In fact, when I'm depressed I find it very difficult to sit quietly and just listen to music.  I get so much more from actually making music at these times, and I get different thing from making music with the violin, from doing so with the piano, or by singing.  Although it's still very hard to feel very positive about anything very much, I can tell that the slightly alien feeling that's been nudging my insides since doing more music again has been the feeling of pleasure.  I have to keep reminding myself that that's what the feeling is so that I don't get frightened by it and run away.  I know that sounds odd...

So tomorrow I may well have another tinkle on the piano while Mum's out at her painting class and J's out at his bridge class (yes, they've taken to retirement now ;o) ), although that does rather depend on my managing to get to sleep at a relatively reasonable hour (it's already 12.45am) and getting up in the morning.  Mum will get back home from her art class soon after 1pm, and I'm hoping that, after we've had a little lunch, we may then go out to the countryside for a bit.  The weather forecast isn't fantastic, but it's better than Wednesday, and it would still be lovely to see the hills and the loch at Flotterstone.

I'm not up here for long - just a few days - but maybe this short time away from home will help.  Sometimes a change of scenery can interrupt the monotony of everyday 'life' when you live alone, can't work, aren't studying, and aren't well enough to do all the things you think you might if you didn't have the 'usual' commitments of family and work.  Sometimes feeling constantly exhausted and poorly isn't quite so miserable when I'm in a different place or seeing people - friends or family.  Sometimes, a bit of time away can help me through the relentless battles with my health.  That's what I'm hoping from these few days, though I'm not spending too much energy on hope in case I'm disappointed.

I'll sign off now.  See if I can shut my mind down and get some rest.  See if I can sleep tonight so that I can get up in the morning.  I will listen to the silence around me and hope it drowns out the noise of my thoughts.

Monday, 20 May 2013


It's a ridiculous length of time since I last posted, for which I apologise, but I really don't know what to say.  I'm sort of shuffling along, and I guess things are a little better than they were, but it's hard to see it day-to-day.

I'm not getting very much from the CPN, and have given up any expectations I had.  It's not that she isn't coming to visit, but more a difference in personalities, a clash of ideas of what might be helpful, and ... hmm ... how do I phrase this? ... I don't feel respected.  She obviously isn't a Christian, which shouldn't matter, and hasn't mattered in the past with other clinicians, and actually it shouldn't impact at all on the patient-CPN relationship, but it does because she dismisses my beliefs as unimportant at best, and as a sign of mental illness at worst.  I don't necessarily expect her to share my Christian beliefs, but I do expect her to respect them and not treat me as a nutter simply because I have a Christian faith.  I don't have extremist beliefs.  I'm not part of some strange cult or sect.  I am part of an Anglican Church community in the neighbouring parish to where I live, and within that community, some of my views are quite liberal.  All of it is far removed from anything that could be considered even remotely crazy.  So yes, it's tricky with her.  I feel as though I have to seem willing to try and at least give it a go, but I no longer have any expectations of helpfulness.

It's not just the thing about her response to my faith, there are other things too.  I suppose most significantly is that a lot of the time she makes me feel like I'm just a case study for her student.  I'm 'good experience' for her; I'm 'something interesting to look up' when they get back to the office; I'm a 'good example of a high functioning, intelligent depressive'; I'm 'a complex and interesting case' for the student to follow through, and 'Oh, wouldn't it be good if the student could see [me] get well, although she's only on this placement for another three week.'  No pressure then!

Thankfully I still have the psychologist who continues to be helpful.  The sessions are hard work, but I trust the psychologist and feel able to tell her anything, even if it's sometimes difficult to say the words.  The difficulty is in expressing myself or trusting myself with the words (which, I am aware, sounds odd), rather than difficulty with trusting the psychologist.

There's still a degree of crisis management being needed in the psychology sessions, and when it's not quite crisis management it's kind of one step removed from that - maybe day to day management rather than minute to minute.  Eventually I will be doing some specific work on the flashback aspect of the PTSD, but the psychologist wants me to be a lot more stable and feeling much more robust than I currently am because it's very demanding.  I know this from previous CBT I've had for totally different reasons, so in many ways I'm in no hurry to start this work, but on the other hand, 'life' with PTSD is crushing.

Between appointments with the psychologist and the CPN I do feel like I'm just shuffling.  I keep trying to write, but it keeps not happening - you have born witness to my lack of writing even on my blog - although I have managed to do some editing last week for an acquaintance's End of Module Assessment for their current Open University course.  My brain wasn't in the best place for doing it, because concentrating is still difficult, but it did make me feel useful and it was productive, so the hard work was worth it.  The other thing I have been doing is playing the violin a bit.  I used to play a lot.  At one time in the past it felt as though my violin was an extension of me, and although I'm not back to that stage, it does feel good to have that creative outlet again.  I started off with playing the piano again a few weeks ago, and I'm still doing a bit of that, but I get different things from the piano and violin, and it kind of feels like the bit of brain that does the violin playing is perhaps next to the bit of brain that does writing.  I'm hoping that the violin-playing bit might nudge awake the writing bit and get it working again.  I've mostly been playing one piece of music - Bach's Concerto for Violin and Oboe in D minor, although I've been playing the oboe part on the violin as this is the part my old violin teacher had me play.  It may only be three movements long, but I can spend a couple of hours playing, replaying, and taking this piece apart.  I play along to a CD recording so that I get the experience of playing the whole piece with an orchestra.  I'm not sure my neighbours appreciate it, but I try to ignore that and instead get absorbed in the music.  Even though I'm not able to do it every day, I think the fact that I can do it at all is progress, and maybe, just maybe it'll even help me progress further.

I'm sure there was something else I was going to say, but my mind seems to have turned to mush and suddenly I can't think where this post was going.  I guess it's part of the shuffle - it's a bit directionless, but with a general hope that it might be vaguely forwards.  Um, yes, so er, I've completely forgotten where this was going so I'll stop, but I'm hoping to get back well before the time between this post and the previous one.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Beyond the CATT

It's the early hours of the morning and, yet again, I can't sleep.  I haven't slept properly since just before my hospital admission in the middle of January.  I am chronically sleep deprived, utterly exhausted, but getting to sleep is a real problem.  Even once I do eventually get to sleep I dream of violent and upsetting things, or have dreams based upon the realities of what happened during my last admission.  No sleep is restful and I am so tired that I feel as though my brain is melting.

The whole sleep thing is doing nothing to help my mental health in general, and it's most likely making things worse.  I'm doing all that I can to help myself - doing all that's asked of me and suggested to me by the professionals and helpful friends - but the extreme tiredness is crippling and inhibits any success those things may have.

In the past week I've also been finding things more difficult because the supportive input has been cut back.  The crisis team (CATT) said they thought it was the right time for me to be moved on and have my care transferred to the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) as they can provide more long-term support.  The problem with this for me, though, is that CATT were coming to see me at least every other day, but the CMHT can only come a maximum of once a week, and I feel like I still need more input than that.

I was appointed a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) from the CMHT, and on Wednesday last week I had a joint meeting with her and a member of CATT who'd seen me quite a lot during my time on their caseload.  It went okay, I guess, but it's going to take time to get to know my CPN, how she works, and what she can do with/for me.  She came again on Monday, and to be honest I didn't feel like it was very helpful.  I was feeling distracted by the chaos in my flat caused by the arrival of my new cooker at the weekend, which was sitting in the living room until it could be installed later in the week.  I couldn't think.  I couldn't concentrate.  I couldn't work out my feelings.  The phone kept ringing with junk callers, and although I let the answer machine take the calls, I still felt distracted.  In fact, it all felt rather disorienting, even though I was in my own home.  I couldn't connect either with the CPN or with myself, and it didn't help that my lungs were being really twitchy too.

We made another appointment for her to visit me, but that won't be until Wednesday next week.  That's nine days between appointments, which is an almost incomprehensible length of time for me at the moment, and so very different from the two days (at most) between appointments I've been having with CATT.  I've been told that I can still call the CATT helpline number if I need to, and I have done once, but seeing as I'm not really under CATT's care any more it feels like I'm breaking the rules ... even though I'm not.  Yes, this is something only I can change, but it's not easy.  Nothing is easy at the moment.

You know, the other thing that I'm finding difficult about all of this is the simple thing of me needing to have this referral to the CMHT, and to be needing a CPN again.  I'm disappointed in myself, hugely disappointed.  Depression had been an awful part of my past that I'd moved away from.  I'd got my antidepressant dose down to the bare minimum.  I'd had very little contact with any of the mental health services for a number of years, and last year had finally been discharged by the psychiatrist.  I had two months short of ten years of freedom from depression, despite increasing difficulties with my physical health.  I studied hard and got two degrees, writing the majority of my essays for those degrees in hospital, sometimes in my head while I was fighting for life in intensive care (distraction from the horrendous things happening to me).  Suddenly I've ended up back in the midst of depression.  I've had input from the crisis team, and now I have a CPN again, and a re-referral to the psychiatrist.

This is not what I want!  This is not who I am supposed to be any more!  I'm so angry at myself for ending up back in this place and needing these people and services!  I had opted for life, but now it feels like all life has been sapped from me again, and I'm so cross that I've let myself fall back so very far, and worst of all is that I don't know how to get out of this.

Many have said, 'You've come through it before, so you can come through it again.'  That's not helpful.  It's really not helpful.  Last time I 'got through it' because I had a miraculous healing from God at 4pm on Monday 5th May.  My healing wasn't anything to do with me, or medication, or circumstances, or psychology, or psychiatry, or anything else.  The healing was from God and was instantaneous.  I'm not a fool and I know that not only can I not expect this to happen again, but it is incredibly unlikely to happen again.  The chances of it happening even once are minuscule, let alone twice.  I have no experience of coming out of depression in any other way, and as it was nothing that I did then I don't know how to get to that point.  I don't know how to get well, and that scares me.  And I feel so guilty because I feel as though God gave me that amazing gift of my miracle moment and I can't have looked after it well enough because here I am back in depression.  I've let God down.  I've let everyone down, myself included, but I am ashamed to have let God down.