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Posts Tagged ‘memories’

When I heard their outcry and these words, I was very angry

Nehemiah 5:6

Last week I had an appointment with my psychiatrist, but it’s only now that I’ve calmed down enough to write about it. I’ve always had issues communicating with my psych – she has the power to clear my mind of everything I had prepared to say – leaving me with just ummms, errrs, and a desire to leave the room as soon as possible. I’m not sure why I find her so intimidating, but I do know that she makes very little attempt to alleviate this, and that responsibility for making conversation falls entirely on my shoulders.

The last time I saw her, this culminated in being discharged, just after I had been accepted by the CMHT. Apparently this “is very unusual” – all I knew at the time was that noone seemed to believe I had really been discharged, and I was even asked for the punchline – it took some effort to persuade other professionals that I really wasn’t joking, and she really had discharged me.

Perhaps some background would help here – during 2009/2010, my psychiatrist was failing to acknowledge letters being sent to her (with my consent) by my YP-place worker, detailing her concerns, and my psych appointments were proving to be slightly less common than hens’ teeth. My worker was concerned enough to discuss my case with her manager, who wrote (another) letter to my psychiatrist threatening to make a formal complaint.

This appeared to have been the magic phrase, as a couple of days later my psychiatrist made a phone call to my YP-worker.  All I know about this call is what I’ve been told by my worker, but I’ve been told that she sounded very “defensive”, and said that as I didn’t have a “severe and enduring mental illness”, there was nothing she could do. Luckily for me, YP-place stuck to their guns, and she eventually agreed to refer me to an occupational therapist, insisting that there was no point as “they won’t see her”.

Needless to say, the OT disagreed, and agreed to see me for 3 months, which stretched into 6 months, after which he had to discharge me as I’d only been referred for “short-term intervention”, but he encouraged us to push for a re-referral to the CMHT in the near future if we felt I needed it, and re-referred me to my psychiatrist to discuss issues of “risk and function” that had come up in the time he’d been working with me. My worker thought this was a positive step forward, and offered to come with me to help me explain how things were.

Suffice to say that, we need not have bothered preparing for this appointment.  My worker and I discussed “risk” in some depth beforehand,  and I was very honest with her, as I believed that this was my only chance to be honest with my psych.

Instead, my words yet again deserted me, so my psych started telling me that she “thought I was better”, and my venlafaxine was going to have to go up – oh and I should take my sleepers at 6pm to avoid the pill hangover in the morning.

My worker tried to bring up the subject of risk, but my psych didn’t really take the bait. Instead, she told me that “we’ve tried our best“, and that I’m “not a child any more“. Apparently, I need to “behave more like an adult“, and “take some responsibility for my choices“.  If I “motivate myself more” then my problems will be solved, and I need to sort myself out because “with the new government” it will be really hard for “physically able people like myself” to prove that they’re incapable of work.

If my worker hadn’t been there, I think I would have taken that advice much more to heart. After all, when I go to see a doctor, they’re in a position of authority, see many patients like me, and (generally) tend to know their stuff – it’s hard not to listen to what they say.  In one fell swoop, she would have set me back about a year with respect to the progress I’ve made on asking for help when I need it, and not trying to take responsibility for everything that happens to me.

You see, what my psychiatrist doesn’t know, is that if I were still a child, I would not be in contact with mental health services, I would not be on antidepressants, I would not be trying to turn my life around. I would be sat on my own, in a bedroom with no working light, trying to end it. There was noone who would sort things out for me and see that I was ok – instead I was routinely ignored and just left to be weird, as if I were the proverbial elephant in the room.  I only managed to tackle my teenager issues once I became old enough to drag myself up by sheer force of will, and encountered some perceptive sixth form teachers who gave me the space I needed to put myself back together, and the approval that I needed to build my self-confidence.

My psychiatrist also doesn’t know (and hasn’t asked) that I’ve spent the last 6 months putting a lot of energy into doing the “adult” thing, and fighting the DWP, that I was preparing myself to represent myself at a tribunal, and thus trying to do the responsible thing and stand up for my rights as a British citizen.

I am painfully reminded of my adulthood every time the council bill me for my council tax.  I pay my bills (mostly) on time, I make sure I have a roof over my head, I give my seat to elderly ladies on the bus (if I’m not feeling too ill myself), I gave half my DLA Christmas bonus to the guy who sells the Big Issue.

So, what gives my psychiatrist the right to remind me that I can’t be childish anymore, that my lost childhood is, well, lost? And to then twist it around and make it my fault?

I am not a child any more, I am an adult, who understands adult things, that the people in authority aren’t necessarily right. An adult, who has room for feelings like “righteous anger”.

She gave me another appointment, for June.  I’m fully expecting to be discharged again at the appointment. I’m staying on the same venlafaxine dose, and I’ve stopped taking anything at night. Ironically, I’m feeling much better in the morning now, and I suspect that I was suffering more from the side effects than I had been benefiting from it.

Bonus points to anyone who can explain the title of this post.

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Back “Home”

I’ve been back with my parents since Friday evening.

It actually feels very strange to be back, almost dreamlike. I know this place, but yet I don’t. In my mind, it’s still the sleepy coastal town it used to be, stuck a generation or so behind the rest of the country. Yet it has moved on, and only my memories are stuck behind in the past.

And this is not just about the previously thriving high street, now filled with estate agents and souless chain stores. It’s true at a far more personal level. Even up until last year, I was taunted when I walked down the road, by kids who were copying what their elder brothers and sisters had done when I still lived here – not a one of them knowing who Chou was or what she might have done to earn their emnity.

Now I’m free to walk the streets again, without a hint of recognition. Blessed anonimity, yet bringing a tinge of regret. After 19 long years lived in this place, is this all I have to show for it?

Not that I have no friends here, but they’re all within my church, and all much older than I am. More like familly than friends, as I’ve known them since I was a young teenager, and it was they who taught me to match my movements with theirs, to move in time with others and learn to be comfortable in the company of people.

My blood familly are getting on my nerves somewhat. I’m seeing their life through fresh eyes now, and I’m itching to dive in and save them from themselves. The grime in the kitchen, the clutter on the landing, the thick layer of dust on the carpets. How can anyone live like this, without being ground down? How did I ever live like this?

But… it occurs to me that this is nothing less than arrogance. If they are happy here, then I have no right to suggest that they change their ways just to please me.

All I can really do is grit my teeth and try to make the most of being here.

(Unfortunately, I’m having to grit my teeth in more ways that one, as Tally side effects are still having their way with me, even on only 10mg. I can tell that I’m being snappy as hell, and I simply can’t sit comfortably – it feels rather like there are little creatures running around inside my skin and playing the xylophone with my vertebrae. Eeeeeeeeeesh…)

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Soundbite from a conversation I had on Sunday…

It’s… like… I grew up thinking the world works one way, but now I’ve grown up and it doesn’t, it works another way – and now I feel I’ve lost those years that I could have had learning to fit in this world

I don’t subscribe to the feeling that I had a bad childhood (I did have a bad adolescence, but that’s a different matter), but I did have a slightly different childhood. In primary school I was ostracised by my schoolmates, so I grew up thinking I was worth less than other people, that it was a kindness to people to avoid them – that if I sat down next to people, I should leave an empty chair between me and them to avoid the pain that having me sitting next to them would cause.

And I can still see the echoes of that coming down the years.

Backtrack a few hours to yesterday evening. I went to a fellowship group organised by someone at my church – I go every other Wednesday, as it gets me out of the house and in the company of other people. I walked into the room where we were all meeting that day, and had a common dilemma – all the sofas were partly occupied… so where should I sit? I settled for sharing a two-seater with my conversational partner of the Sunday… and then realised that I was squished up against the arm of the sofa in order to provide as much space between her and I as possible.

Another example…

When I was a young teenager (13 – 14) I was quite talkative. Still quiet and thoughtful, because that’s me, but I thought nothing of yelling across the classroom to butt into a conversation on the other side (and indeed got picked up on that by my teachers), backchatting my teachers, or having long conversations with people I didn’t know very well about random things.

Then, at about 15, I stopped talking at school. I physically couldn’t talk, the words just wouldn’t get past my throat. Some of the more understanding teachers stopped calling my name out with the rest of the register so that I wouldn’t have to answer, some of the unobservant ones would wait for me to finally squeak out a “Yes” (to the amusement of everyone else), and one of the misunderstanding teachers would give me long passages to read aloud in class, and yell at me for being so quiet (I still somewhat wonder why on earth he thought that would solve anything, but he remains one of my favourite teachers for other reasons).

Fast-forward to the present day.

I do talk now… most of the time… and I sometimes don’t even have to think about it. But it feels a bit as if the bit of my brain that translates what I’m thinking into words that flow of my mouth sort of… disengages occasionally. And then I revert to mutism, and garner odd looks, without even realising what I’m doing, or that there’s any difference.

So, aside from the lack of opportunity for self-carnivorism (is that even a word?), I do wonder how to tackle these kind of behaviours, because (for me), they feel instinctive. I don’t have much choice in the matter – I behave that way because the old conditioning holds so strong.

However, there are no scars I can point to to show my past. I don’t walk around with a sign saying “I am occasionally a bit strange”. So I’ve struggled to make friends, because people misinterpret how I behave. And though I’d like to learn more appropriate social skills, it’s proving a bit of an uphill struggle, as I almost never get feedback on them (go on… when was the last time you praised someone on how they interacted with you? Yeah, I thought you might say that… me neither!)

So, here I am, a child of my past, in a future I haven’t quite figured out yet and never really envisaged to be this way. And I think my map might be upside down…

*twists the other way*

…no, still doesn’t make much sense. Hmmm…

Anyone up for a spot of orienteering?

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“Smile!”

Just for effect, let’s have that again:

Smile!

I went into town today, and that was exactly the word someone decided to yell at me in the middle of the local shopping centre. I was too busy trying to eat an ice cream before it melted to be able to point out that smiling while eating an ice cream is actually rather tricky (but I digress…).

I don’t know why he did that, and it’s not really my place to theorise about why he might have, but it’s certainly a complaint I heard from plenty of people when I was growing up. I assume I can’t be alone in this? There’s two reasons why, I think – one is that, obviously, depression doesn’t really make it easy to walk around looking like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. The other is kinda linked to my shyness – when I was growing up, I found that showing emotion (of whatever sort) often got attention, ranging from the innocent

“You look happy today”

through to the cutting

“Why are you happy, eh?

and to the absolutely well-meant but deadly

Are you ok, Chouette?

So I trained myself not to. Someone who knows me quite well once described me as “incredibly self-contained”, and it’s very true. In a way, this helps to feed depressive episodes, because it gives me sharper knives to hurt myself with in my mind.

I was told, in a school drama class once, to “act angry” (we were doing improvisation). I, er, did what he said. I snapped. All the anger from what had happened to me, and all the anger at myself, suddenly found an uncontrolled and unsuppressed release. I have a strong memory of seeing the poor girl who was my partner cowering up against the opposite wall, with real fear in her eyes. I think that memory will last forever.

I only got a B for that “improv”…

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