Tag Archives: recovery

Therapy 2020: Session 3

Date of session: 16/09/2020

Please be aware some content may be triggering. This post will be discussing self harm. Though I will try to avoid discussing methods it may become apparent with other things mentioned. Please take care. 💚

Today’s therapy session has left me feeling annoyed and frustrated. If I’m honest there is also a bit of resentment in there too I think. I feel like I’m repeating everything from my assessment and it has become obvious that this is because the psychologist has not read the background mentioned in the assessment. I understand have to explain a little but when she said she had no awareness of my living situation or my issues at home this annoyed me. Why did I bother with the assessment? Surely it’s there to help them know something about me before it is discussed. Like I said I understand going through some things but the basics at least should be noted.

I also feel I’m getting no new methods to help me. Everything is a repeat of things I already know and understand. For example today when asked at the beginning I mentioned my issue with sleep. She then asked if I knew about and used sleep hygiene to which I responded that yes I did know about and use it. We then spent nearly fifteen minutes going through each item of sleep hygiene to find out I’m doing it all, which I’d already said, and that it was not something we should focus on. When a session is limited to 50ish minutes and there are a finite number of sessions this feels wasteful.

We also discussedy self harm. This was also documented in my assessment but seemed to be a revelation to her. We discussed the seriousness of the current level of self harm. We looked at how things could go wrong with the self harm I am doing and how even a slight mistake could end my life. In all honesty I think she was expecting this to bother me. It didn’t. With my current mood that would be a blessing. She asked me how important stopping was to me and the honest answer is that at this time it doesn’t bother me that I’m self harming. Then I think she wanted to make me bothered by telling me we would definitely not be doing trauma therapy with this level of self harm. I’m angry about this as the assessment knew all this and still recommended trauma therapy. Plus my psychiatrist believes without trauma therapy the things they want to be better for me to do it won’t get better without it.

With regard to the self harm we also discussed about the use of DBT skills to help, in particular distress tolerance skills. I was able to explain that I find this unhelpful as my self harm is not impulsive which is what these skills seem to be aimed at. I was grateful that the psychologist agreed with me on this matter. I’ve not had much support with this idea elsewhere.

Currently I’m feeling trapped in a cycle which I don’t know how I can get out of. I feel like noone is taking into account what needs to happen to move things on or it is not being discussed between professionals. It’s making me lose hope. It’s making me wonder if there is any point to anything. We shall see how it goes I guess.

Technology was an issue again today with us being cut off but I did receive a phone call after this.

I was lucky that straight after I was able to have cat cuddles to help me calm myself.

Therapy 2020: Session 2

Date of session: 09/09/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering.

Today was session 2 of this round of therapy. And my goodness was it hard. The build up was very much part of the difficulty. I found last week extremely difficult and was scared what may come this week.

This week though the psychologist wanted to discuss whether I should even do therapy. She was unsure if it was the right time which confused me a bit as I had my assessment which was then discussed with others who agreed on therapy and this was done by someone I knew so could talk to more openly. I felt like I was going to lose the therapy before it even started and I could feel the panic in me rising. While doing therapy is hard the thought of not getting it just made me feel totally hopeless.

The psychologist decided we should do a pros and cons list for doing therapy and not doing therapy. They were as follows:

Pros of doing therapy:

  • Reduce flashbacks
  • More aware of causes of issues
  • Reduce self harm
  • Improve things

Cons of doing therapy:

  • Relapse may occur
  • Feel like a failure if I don’t achieve anything
  • Painful to do

Pros of not doing therapy:

  • Don’t have to deal with things
  • Don’t have to change

Cons of not doing therapy:

  • Lose hope

I then had to score how important each were and it came out that I really wanted to be doing therapy and trying. This is true. That con of not doing therapy was for me the biggest thing. Losing hope. If I don’t do therapy I don’t know what will happen. I feel stuck if I don’t as everyone is convinced in order to sort anything out it is what I need.

So it was decided I should do therapy but maybe not trauma based. This is disappointing in some ways as it’s what I feel is holding me back but as I’m self harming and hearing a voice she is not convinced I’m stable enough. The thing is the psychiatrist is convinced I need to do this therapy in order for these things to be help. So yeah… Where do we go to from here? I feel trapped.

I started to feel like I was dissociating during this session. I think it was self protective as I just wanted to cry but not in front of someone I barely know. I cried after.

So that was session 2. I think I’ve got a lot to process still. I’m feeling very vulnerable. Also a lot of pressure to stay stable. I’m not very good at that at the best of times. Thing is I feel BPD doesn’t help with stability. Who knows what will happen next?

Therapy 2020: Session 1

Date of session: 02/09/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering.

Today was my first therapy session (of my fourth course). I want to kind of record my thoughts afterwards. This will be a general process without specifics. It’s for my benefit more than anything but if it helps someone then all the better. If it doesn’t work for me I will stop.

The therapy I’m doing is trauma focused. It is being done via video link due to the covid pandemic. This was something that was really bothering me but I have seen some advantages already to try and hold on to. These are mainly linked to the aftermath in that I don’t have to get home or be in public after a session and I can have immediate cat cuddles. There were some issues though.

The first issue linked to the video was getting it to work. I managed in the end but it felt more complex than zoom which I’m used to. The other is that the session is a set time so it will just cut out at the end, which it did during the risk assessment. I thought she would phone to finish the risk assessment but that didn’t happen and its left me wondering if that’s a sign to hurt myself/end my life.

Talking was hard. I find certain words impossible to say and others hard to hear. This was tested straight away. I also felt like I was repeating some of my assessment again. I should of realised that would be the case but I stupidly didn’t think of that. I think the logistics of starting the therapy took more of my anxiety than the content. This has now reversed.

EMDR has been mentioned but may not be easy via video. It’s also something I’ve not particularly wanted it to do as I find keeping my eyes on one thing difficult. My eyes are constantly flicking everywhere. Also being at home there are distractions. All this has come to me after the session so will probably need discussing with the psychologist.

The psychologist seems really nice. I know she will push me but she is understanding this is going to be hard and will take time to build a relationship.

In the aftermath the voice has been horrendous. Its been telling me that things that she has said are untrue. That she is being nice but what I believe about myself and things being my fault is still true. I’m struggling in all honesty.

Therapy Fear

Please be aware some of the content may be triggering.

On Wednesday I start a new lot of therapy. I’m terrified. I’m always nervous about starting therapy (this will be my fourth crack at it) but this time the fear is hitting me more. I think possibly because in the assessment I’ve been the most honest ever and laid everything on the table without holding back. This means that they have decided that the best therapy this time will be individual trauma focused therapy.

I don’t talk an awful lot about everything that’s happened to me on here. I choose not too for a number of reasons including that it’s all my fault. This was my major reason for pushing for this therapy. It’s even on my assessment. I want to clear it up once and for all. People tell me it’s not my fault, that it’s the people I’ve encountered along the way that have hurt me and that’s down to them. I’m not so sure so I want this therapy to see who is right. To make sense of everything.

But it’s going to be hard dealing with the past. To go back to events that hurt so badly. I’m terrified. I feel sick to my stomach. Bits are turning up in nightmares again already. Tactile flashbacks linger longer. The voice reminds me that it’s silly when I know it’s my fault already. But I need to be sure. People are too nice to me.

Something that is bothering me is that this therapy is going to be done via video link similar to zoom. I will be sitting in my bedroom going through this stuff (some of which happened there). It won’t be a safe, separate space. I know I’m lucky to get therapy at this time but this was why I was so reluctant to do it via video link. How can I separate it from my home space? I want to be able to leave at least some of it behind but I think this will make it harder. Maybe I’m being silly. I don’t know.

Something else that makes me fearful is how unwell mentally I became last time I did any therapy and not having the support network I had then to put crisis plans in to action. Therapy is by its nature very tough. It brings up a lot and I find that hard to cope with alone. Often it increases my level of self harm and my suicidal thoughts. Last time I did therapy my self harm escalated dramatically, I was under the crisis team at times, I had extra appointments with my care coordinator and I made a suicide attempt. The thought of not having the same level of support this time scares me. I no longer have a care coordinator who can intervene to make me safe. It’s pretty much down to me. And I’m not always reliable at looking after myself especially when it means I actually have to ask for help rather than its just noticed I’m going down hill. I also find crisis services difficult to access. I’m hoping things don’t get too bad.

Anyway that’s just a few thoughts on starting therapy. I’m sure I’m not alone being terrified with these things and if you’re starting therapy and feeling this way, you’re not alone either. You’re stronger than you realise. You deserve help and are worthy of it.

I will probably do updates on my social media channels which are available on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. If you have any advice feel free to share on these or in the comments.

Will I Recover?

“Will I recover?” is often the first question you think when you get ill. You wonder whether things will ever be the same again. You wonder what the future holds. This is the same whether it is a physical or mental illness, but it seems less clear cut when the illness is mental (though I know many physical illnesses carry the same ambiguity).

I have a mental illness for a long time. In fact in my head I don’t ever remember feeling OK mentally. This has meant recovery to me has always felt unclear. The major thing with the question “will I recover?” is defining recovery. This is tricky in mental illness, maybe more so than physical illness, where the lines aren’t always obvious.

Recovery for everyone is defined differently. For me the definition below is what I feel I aspire to most.

My reason for identifying with this most of all is that it is not about going to a state where my mental illness is completely gone to be “better”. My recovery will be about managing my condition.

However… I have still gone through the “Will I recover?” question looking for the answer that says my illness will be completely gone. I think that’s what a lot of people want. It doesn’t seem fair that managing a condition is all we can hope for. It’s not like the broken leg that is often used in the analogy of getting treatment for a physical illness versus a mental illness. It is not clear cut. It takes a lot to feel well with a mental illness.

This is still a complicated idea as recovery is still what is aimed for in some mental illnesses like depression where complete recovery is possible in some cases. I’ve even been told that those of us with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) may be classed as recovered as we won’t meet the criteria for a diagnosis with time and treatment. However for many of us it will be about management more than being completely better so for us this is our recovery.

So back to our main question “will I recover?”. There is no simple answer. Will we ever be how we were before our illness? Probably not as it changes us and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Will we be able to live a decent life? Yes. It won’t be easy but there is hope. Its not easy to see in the midst of mental illness. I struggle with this most days and even as I write this it’s something I’m struggling to believe but I’ve seen others manage so that’s my hope. Hope for recovery, in whatever form, is what we need to keep. We may just have to adjust our thoughts on what recovery is for us.

I’d love to hear your ideas on this topic. Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

N.B. Since writing this post I have come to dislike the word recovery with a passion. I’ve decided it is not the word for me and I don’t wish to use it in relation to dealing with my mental illnesses. I know this is a personal choice and I respect other people’s choice to use the word recovery.

Losing People

Today has been tough. Several people have left my life to an extent. It might seem irrelevant to the loss others are feeling in these times but these have led to my mood dropping.

At the moment I wouldn’t really be seeing these people but they were people I was looking forward to seeing after this current crisis was over and today those hopes seem to of been crushed. The feeling of loss is overwhelming. I know this is intensified by the symptoms of my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), where a fear of abandonment is strong and emotions are intense.

Hearing the news about these different people had an immediate effect on me mentally and physically. I felt sick to my stomach and my temperature rose. My chest felt tight. My mind started to race and try to work out what I could do with this situation. Could I rectify it? Could I stop the loss? What had I done wrong? Was this all my fault? Would it be better if I was dead? Yep suicide came up. Welcome to my mind.

Pulling myself back is easier these days than it used to be. Making myself take a step back is important. I have to make myself take another look at the situation and all the facts (DBT: check the facts). In this instance it is not my fault. It is the life situation of one person and it impacts on many. I’m not alone. I can make new links. I do not need to die.

The thing is I tell myself all this. But there is doubt still there. I still feel bereft. It seems ridiculous. These are not close relations. But it feels like I’ve lost everything. And it scares me for losing someone in my immediate family or close friends and how that will go. And this is where my brain spirals again and becomes overwhelmed. The physical symptoms reoccur. And I have to go back again. And again. And again. It’s exhausting.

I have no answer for how to deal with other than to keep check of the facts and what you can realistically do. If you have any more tips feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Lost In Lockdown

So it seems like the world has been shut down for forever. Everyone is finding it tough. People are losing loved ones or being kept away from them at least. Life is restricted. Unfortunately my mental illness has decided to take advantage of this situation to cause ultimate unpleasantness.

I know this lockdown is not fun for anyone. I’m not pretending that I’m the only one negatively effected. Everyone seems to be in the same boat. But unfortunately that doesn’t help make it easier. In fact it’s making it harder. I feel guilty that I need support. I feel like a burden when I know so many are struggling to deal with this. I hate myself for being able to access support yet still feel on the edge.

The thing is I know I would tell any of my friends who are mentally ill and struggling that it’s OK and mental illness doesn’t make it easier but harder. That it will impact you more as you have to work harder than everyone else to stay well. I’ve even said these words to others. But I can’t apply it to me.

I think also that as things that help keep me more stable have been removed temporarily due to the lockdown this is going to make it harder. I’ve been lucky that my mental health team have given me permission to exercise more than once a day. This is allowed for medical reasons. (For more information click here.) But there are other things I’m missing that I’d not even realised I needed.

Social contact for me has always been exhausting and something I need a break after. I thought I’d be OK without it as I still can contact friends and others through social media or WhatsApp. But it turns out I need to physically see people. I need hugs. I need to be closer to them. I miss them. Yes I may need quiet time after but I still need the contact.

While we can all say lockdown is not our ideal situation I have found some things that are helping keep me a little bit saner (never completely sane, that ship sailed long ago). I’ve rediscovered things I liked doing. I’ve discovered I’m more skilled in them than I thought and that they can help others feel better. Drawing has been a major one for me, with me drawing animals and characters for others and children.

I’ve also found it useful to set myself projects. I’ve put together things I’ve been meaning to do for ages, I’ve built Lego I’d been meaning to make or made friendship bracelets for others. Focusing on this one thing has helped me keep moving and not dropping into deep despair.

The thing is it’s not always helpful. I seem to have a regular Friday night meltdown at the moment. I just disintegrate. My anxiety at times is so high it gives me chronic chest pain. I’ve got an almost constant headache. These are things that I’m struggling to manage. I’ve had a lot of anxiety that I’m going to infect my family. Hair pulling and skin picking have increased along with self harm. Things are not ideal.

Unfortunately there is nothing we can do to make this go quicker but we can help each other. Just checking in is helpful. And we need to ask for support when we need it. Fingers crossed we’ll be able to have some normality soon.

To keep in contact please feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Self Harm: A Decision?

Please be aware this post will be discussing self harm so some content may be triggering.

There is a lot of thought about whether self harm is a decision or not. I know it’s a highly controversial topic and it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. As someone who self harms it can be a difficult thing to consider.

The definition of self harm is deliberately hurting yourself. This suggests that self harm is a choice but how much is that true? When we consider self harm as a symptom of a mental illness is it really a choice?

If you had an illness like cancer would you consider your symptoms your choice? Quite obviously the answer would be no. So is self harm any different? If you ask anyone with self harm about what happens when they need to harm most will say its an uncontrollable urge. It is something they feel forced to do. This is especially common as you go deeper down the self harm hole.

The urge to self harm, for many, is intense. It takes over. It’s hard to think clearly. The urge is made stronger by the fact that many who self harm have low self esteem and don’t feel deserving of care. Whatever has been a trigger will bring up all sorts of feelings that are hard to deal with. Everything can feel overwhelming. Sometimes we are not totally there, maybe dissociated. Then it’s not really a choice is it?

But in some ways it can be a choice. We decide to inflict the harm, don’t we? I honestly don’t know. This is where I’m hugely torn. And why I’m torn is based on how I see others and how I see myself. For others, and this is probably the most important part, I don’t think it is a true choice. There is a lot leading or pushing you in that direction. It is a symptom of an illness so is never a true choice. Then I look at myself and berate myself for choosing to hurt myself in the first place.

I don’t give myself a break on the decision making idea. I blame myself for self harming every time. I blame myself for making that “choice”. I see myself as truly being the reason I’m hurting myself. Even the name makes it seem like that. Especially when medical staff call it deliberate self harm.

And this is where the issue becomes more apparent. We are treated by medical staff, including in mental health teams, who see it as a choice rather than a symptom. Yes I may pick up the blade etc but there is something pushing me to that. I am unwell. My choices are not truly my own always. It’s not an excuse but an explanation. I’ve been told I’ve made the choice to hurt myself. This in a time when I was so distressed I couldn’t see any other choice. So surely it isn’t a true choice?

There is hope with this though and this is where it gets more into the dodgy area of being a choice. Learning through therapy of other ways to cope instead of self harming means we do start to have a choice between self harm or using our new coping methods. I start to see why they say its a choice. They’ve given us other options and we’ve gone for self harm. What they don’t seem to realise is we probably chose their new methods first but it takes time for them to be an effective choice for us. It’s all about time.

So these are just my views on self harm as a choice, I’d love to hear yours. Feel free to connect in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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