Tag Archives: peer support

Cancer Scare: Waiting For Diagnosis

This is a personal piece. Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering.

The date today as I write this is 15th February 2020. Three weeks ago I found a lump in my breast. I regularly check mine but this one was actually brought to my attention by my cat kneading my chest as she loves to do and it not feeling right. So I checked it out and it felt sizeable. It had been 2 weeks at most since I’d last checked.

I kept checking it over the weekend just to make sure it wasn’t just some lumpiness that would go away. Then the following week I tried repeatedly to get a GP appointment, finally managing to get one on the Thursday. Luckily it was a GP I know well and trust as with my history of sexual abuse it was raising anxiety. When he checked he said he thought it was about 5cm. He referred me on the two week wait cancer initiative.

My appointment came through for 12th February 2020. I went along with more apprehension of facing the tests than the results. It started with an ultrasound of the breast. This seemed to confuse them and another person was brought in to look. Then it was decided I needed both a mammogram and biopsies. Normally someone my age would not be given a mammogram as it may not show anything. But mine showed the lump clearly.

The biopsy process was painless due to local anaesthetic. I was still just thinking it was a normal part of the process and they would be like it’s all fine but we just have to know what it is. That was not the case.

After the biopsy I was asked to wait in a room. My mum was with me. We got called back in and I was faced with a number of people which put me on edge. They explained that they were concerned about the lump. That I was going to have to return for another appointment to get the results of the biopsies and find out the next steps. That they were pretty sure surgery would be needed whatever.

One of the people in the room was a breast care nurse. She had been assigned to my case and would be my point of contact. She was lovely. She took me and mum off into another room. We discussed a few things and she sorted out the appointment. Her comment that there was a lot that they can do to treat cancer made me feel they know already but I can’t be sure. I’m in a state of not knowing.

So I’m sat here having a mixture of thoughts. I’ve been through so many emotions in the last few days. From the incredibly calm to the extremely anxious to suicidal. I’ve been showing others the calm side. I’ve been pushing my emotions down. A few people have heard some of the worry but not the full extent. Not the thoughts that have been going through my head that make me ashamed of myself.

There is a part of me that feels IF it is cancer then I don’t want to go through the treatment. The thought of dealing with being unwell and making it worse to get better scares me. The thought of trying to live when mentally I want to die all the time seems hypocritical. In fact it feels like it could be my way out which is a terrible thought isn’t it? But I know others will want me to go through it all. I know I will have to do it for them.

Obviously at this stage I have no definite answers. But this doesn’t stop the thoughts. Google is not my friend at the moment and the late night Google searches are not a good idea (other search engines still available?). I feel so much guilt over my thoughts. I’m just trying to push all the feelings down. I don’t want the pity. I don’t want to be treated as delicate. I don’t want people thinking I’m brave and strong. I’m not. I’m a mess. Not because I care about me but because of those around me. I don’t want to cause them anymore suffering.

So yeah that is where I’m at as I write this. I don’t know anything definite. If I publish this I may know more by then. I will keep people updated. Feel free to connect in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. For more information and support about cancer click here.

Picture from Pinterest

Control

This is a personal piece. Please be aware some of the content may be triggering.

Control is the thing I crave most in my life. I’ve known it for a while but it’s taken a while to admit it. A lot of what I do is about trying to retain some control in a life that constantly feels out of control. It’s also about managing the feelings of being out of control. The problem is I’ve gone down what people would call negative routes to deal with this.

The reason I think I need the control is that so many people have taken away any control I should have had. People have taken away control of my body and my life. Little decisions don’t feel like mine to make. My life doesn’t feel like mine.

The things I use to feel in control include self harm and hair pulling. They are not the only things I have used or do use. These are just the most regular. Food has been something I’ve used to feel in control (I do not have an eating disorder nor been diagnosed with one, this was just a period of restriction). Alcohol was another thing until it took control of me. I also feel some of my suicide attempts have been an attempt to be in control of when my life ends among other reasons.

I also can see my need to be in control in other situations. When I sit in a room with others I try to be first in to choose a seat that I feel safe in. I’m constantly early. I plan things meticulously. If I’m creating things I find others input hard to deal with. Relinquishing control on things and allowing others in is hard. I’d much rather do things myself. It’s things I’m trying to work on.

So what are your tips to deal with the need for control? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

We Need To Talk About… Psychosis

Psychosis! What do you think it means? Does it mean schizophrenia? Does it mean being locked up? Does it mean there is no hope? These things are things I thought before I experienced psychosis and I know many still think this way. This is why we need to talk about psychosis.

So what is psychosis?

Psychosis is made up of many different symptoms. Some people will have many, some only one. They include:

  • Hallucinations (these may be visual, auditory, tactile or related to smell and taste)
  • Delusions (having strong beliefs not shared by others, for example, people are going to hurt you)

Does everyone with psychosis have schizophrenia?

It’s a common assumption that the only people that experience psychosis are those with schizophrenia. This simply isn’t the case. Many mental illnesses may cause a person to experience psychosis. These include bipolar, depression and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Psychosis can also be a result of physical illness or trauma.

Will someone with psychosis recover?

There is hope for those with psychosis. Many people will only have one episode of psychosis. Psychosis can also be managed with medication. There is a variety of antipsychotics. Of course as with any medication there can be side effects but these often are often outweighed by the benefits. It can also be a process of finding what works for you. Sometimes, when the psychosis is caused by trauma, psychosis can be helped by therapy.

What does someone with psychosis look like?

There is no specific way that someone who experiences psychosis looks. The term “psychotic look” which is often used to describe a way someone is looking is a work of fiction. Those with psychosis look like everyone else. The signs are more likely to be in their behaviour.

A last thought

People with psychosis experience extreme stigma. We are made out to be “crazy” and someone to be feared. In fact we are more likely to be a danger to ourselves or be at risk from others. It can be scary to see someone dealing with psychosis but remember they are probably scared too.

For more information about psychosis click here.

To share your experience feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

New Year, New You?

So it’s that time of year: New Year. Ugh. I hate it. There is so much out there about New Year, New You, and I hate it. Why must the new year signal a major change? Why must we put pressure on everyone to do more and change who they are?

The thing is I do get why people choose a new year to make a change to their lifestyle. It’s a good marker. And actually I have no problem with that part. My issue is with the advertising companies and the social media influencers. We should not be pushing people to make a change. If they want to that’s fine but putting pressure on makes people feel inadequate. It may also have a backwards effect as if they’re not ready to change it will be forgotten within a couple of weeks.

Another reason I think it’s a bad thing to push people to change is that it can make people feel like a failure. If you’re bombarded with all these things you should change you start to think you’re not good enough. That somehow you’ve failed as a person and the only way people will like you is if you change everything. This is just not true. Yes there may be small things you might want to do to feel better about yourself but that’s it, you should only be doing it for you, not because some advert has told you to.

A major part of the New Year, New You dynamic is based on losing weight. It’s the time of year when adverts for gyms and dieting are prominent. You’re made to feel fat and bad for enjoying food over Christmas. This can really effect people with distorted views around the way they look and food. They see it as a sign they need to lose weight even though they may already be under weight. It can retrigger eating disorder behaviours. Or start them off. It lowers people’s self esteem.

A lot of this New Year, New You malarkey is just there to make people feel bad. To put pressure on to be someone society sees as acceptable. To quash individuality. It’s not about your happiness in the eyes of the companies pushing it. It’s about making you spend money.

I also want to tackle here another part that is linked to the New Year, New You philosophy. This is the fact that we are encouraged to look back and reminisce over the last 12 months (and in 2019 it seems the last decade as well). I know I’m not alone in hating this. I don’t want to look back at all my failures. Yes it could help me change things but it also is likely to make me depressed and feel awful. I know many people are looking at achievements but when I’ve had a year where I have been very ill mentally it is hard. I feel like a failure and end up comparing myself to others. It feels like a minefield.

So what can we do?

My advice is to just treat New Year as any other time of the year. It is just a date. Just a marking of time. It is no more significant than any other if we don’t want it to be. If you want to make a change then do, but don’t feel you have to. It’s not a necessity. Block the diet and “lifestyle” ads. Treat yourself with kindness. You are amazing to get to this point. What will be, will be. There is no pressure to put goals in place for the long term if all you can manage is the next hour or even five minutes.

If you have tips to help with dealing with the New Year pressures then feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

Christmas Eve 2019

It’s Christmas eve evening. I’m sat after doing all the usual Christmas eve things. I’ve seen family and sorted out some things. I’ve walked the dog twice. I’m wearing a Christmas jumper. And I couldn’t feel less festive.

Everything feels like such an effort. If I could sleep through the day I think I would. My mood feels like it’s dropped as far as it could. I can feel in the depths of me something isn’t right. I can’t identify what the actual feeling is. And I’m not sure I want to. I know I could do opposite action but I actually don’t think I have the time to or the energy. I’m exhausted.

The thing is I don’t want to ruin the day for others so I’m fighting the feeling to appear happy and involved. I’m telling jokes and taking part in games. I don’t want to let them down. The pressure is overwhelming. I feel lonely as I don’t feel I can reach out and say I’m struggling. Especially as everyone is so busy.

The thing that we all need to understand is that mental illness doesn’t disappear for the holidays. My illness doesn’t see the advent calendar countdown and go “oo, I’ll stop being a pain now and let her enjoy things”. If only. The thing is we need family and friends to understand too. If we feel we can say we’re struggling and that we’re not ruining everything by saying it, then that is huge. We can start this off by showing others they can say it until we feel we can say it. Let’s lead by example.

Also let’s ask people if they are doing OK. Let’s tell them we don’t mind if the answer is no. We need to make the world a more accepting place. Especially at these times of the year.

So I hope if you can you talk to someone. You’re all amazing. Big hugs to all. Feel free to connect on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

I Miss You

This is a personal piece. Please be aware some content may be triggering.

If things had gone to plan you’d be turning 14. You’d be mine. You’d be loved. You’d be cared for. I promise.

But my promises mean nothing. You’re not here. You never stepped on this earth. I never got to meet you. To hold you. To tell you I love you.

I do love you. I miss you even though I never met you. I want you here. I don’t care that you’d probably be a stroppy teenager. You’d be doing what you’d meant to be doing. You’d be growing up. Becoming independent. But you’d be mine. And I’d be yours. You’d always have someone.

The thing is I think to myself that maybe it’s for the best for you that you never came. I wouldn’t mess you up. You wouldn’t have to deal with your dad and what he was. I would of been to young and immature. I’m still too young and immature. I can’t even look after myself. You’d be better off without me.

I still love you though. You are a part of my heart that has been broken away. I feel incomplete. It all sounds cliché but it’s true. I’m a mum without a child. But I know many wouldn’t class me as one. Maybe I’m not really. Maybe I’m being above myself. Probably. I have no right to call myself that.

I wish you were here. We’d be getting ready to celebrate your birthday and Christmas. It would be so special. You would be my family. I’d do my best to make you happy. I’d do my best to protect you. I’d love you.

My memories of losing you are as clear as day. They were the worst days of my life. People don’t tell you what it will be like. And even if someone had I don’t think it would cover everything. And I would of been too young to understand before. How could a 15 year old know? It was scary. The whole situation. Finding out you were there was scary too but nothing to losing you. The guilt ate me up. It still does. Being alone with this secret for years because that’s what you were. I was ashamed. But it was never you I was ashamed of. It was me. I never stopped loving you, once I started.

I know you’d be amazing. I know you’d make me proud. I know you’d drive me crazy. I know I’d get cross some times. I know I would support you as best I could. I know I’d never stop loving you and I never will. I miss you.

If you’ve been in this situation you are not alone. Feel free to make contact via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

One Year From The End Of DBT

The 18th December 2019 marks one year since I finished DBT skills group. A whole year. It feels both not very long and forever. So I thought why not have a look back at how it has influenced me.

Since finishing DBT my mental health has been really up and down. My year was going well until August time. I still had major mood swings and was self harming but I was coping and building up my life. This all changed. The truth is I came off some of my medication by myself, no tapering, just cold turkey. I had my reasons. And these were accepted by the mental health team when they found out. However it led to a major crisis which was picked up, maybe ironically, by the facilitator of the DBT peer support group I started attending in August. But this really is unrelated to how I have been managing with the DBT skills. I just wanted to give a bit of background information on my mental state.

So as I mentioned, in August I started attending a DBT peer support group. It was set up with my local mind with the support of the NHS Trust that runs the mental health services in my area. It was designed to be the follow up to doing the DBT skills therapy group. Only people who had done DBT could join. I’ve found it amazing. I love the people. Even the facilitator has BPD and done the six months skills group. Everyone is on a level and so supportive of each other.

We use the time to discuss issues and how we can use DBT skills in those situations. This is what I find particularly helpful and what I needed in the first place. I’ve found that I’m definitely putting the skills to more use now I have the support of the group. Some situations have definitely improved and there is more of a chance I will use the skills or ask for help than self destruct. I’m not saying I’m perfect but I’ve definitely seen improvements and found myself embedding skills into life rather than having to think “which skill can I use now?”. It’s become a little bit more automatic. Hopefully this will continue.

One area I still really need to work on is identifying my emotions. This is something I still struggle with. I really need a pocket book I can carry to refer too until its a bit more automatic. This would then hopefully allow me to bring those emotions more under control. I won’t say “not great” or “fine” or “it’s been a bit difficult” when asked how I am and be able to express myself more easily. Well that’s the idea…

Another thing I need to work on is finding a way to reduce my self harming. The thing is at the moment I don’t feel I’m at a place to work on it properly. I also need to get over the fact my self harm is not impulsive so the distress tolerance skills don’t seem to work for me.

Overall I’m finding the skills more useful now and having the follow up has definitely helped me. I’m seeing the point of them. I’m seeing their potential. Hopefully it will help things to improve.

For more information about DBT, you can look here.

Picture is from Pinterest