Monday, September 20, 2010


I am alive.

Was officially discharged from hospital today after a weekend of leave. Too much to explain with my currently still somehwhat addled brain. But the story told later will include severe insomnia again. Acute Transient psychosis with the additon of a bunch of anti-pyschotic meds and a week worth of toxic serum levels on my epilepsy meds, because I wouldn't eat for 7 days because a voice told me I wasnt allowed. weekend stay turns into over a fortnight. But an starting to come good and hopefully will be firing my little blogging missives back into the blogo-sphere again soon.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


First off, my Granddad is doing better, and is out of hospital. He still has a lot of health issues he is going to have to take a look at in the near future and at least one upcoming surgery, but at least he's home now, thank goodness.

I got back from hometown, to my current home yesterday afternoon. I think after the stress of last week and family etc, I was just entirely and physically run down. Mentally, I'm not even sure how I stand right now. I was supposed to do a shift at RMH this morning, but I woke up completely and utterly shattered, and was a little worried if i went I would end up having a seizure, so I stayed home to rest.

I'm not sure how much all you Northern Hemispherers know about Aussie politics, not a lot I would imagine..... we're a pretty insular little country down here! Today was election day. Basically, an early election was called, because the Labor party delivered a vote of no confidence in their leader Kevin Rudd, our Prime Minister. The Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard took over leadership and became our Prime Minister for about two months, while they organised an early election. Our first ever female Prime Minister. (And a red head to boot, which gives her a double tick in my little y chromosoned, ranga mind)

So, election day. I felt like shite. In Australia voting is compulsary once you turn 18... if you don't show up, they fine you. I once even cast my vote from a booth set up in the Psych Ward! Personally I think its a great thing... it would seem when voting is voluntary in different countries, a lot of the time the people who need a voice, are sadly the ones who can't or don't bother to vote, for whatever reason. But today, I was kind of wishing it was voluntary as I really didn't feel well enough to drag myself to the polling booths. Now, I'm not going to share who I vote for, but I vote based on the party that serves my particular interests (particularly healthcare and mental health) as well as the more global issues ie carbon emissions, the best.

I've been watching the count on tv, and it looks like at this point we may be heading towards a hung parliment. This hasn't happened since, like, the second world war. It's been a really historical few months for politics in Australia. First female leader (although how long her reign is remains to be seen), A prime minister being deposed, as such, by his own party, and now possibly a hung parliment. Its been hard for a lot of Australians to get past the idea that PM Gillard, stabbed Ex-PM Rudd in the back... it's Un-Australian, is the oft-outcry. Then just her sex alone has been a hard thing for some of the older die hard Labor voters to accept (especially with her Defacto boyfriend, not even a husband to keep the little woman in line!!) And finally the sense of betrayal from voters who didn't seem to get that ultimately, in Australia we vote in a Party, not an individual leader...

Anyway, at least one of my insomnia fuelled nights will be taken up with some interesting viewing as we continue to tally up all the votes (I think postal votes could take up to a few days to come in.

Hopefully, I get some sleep though, as I do have a shift at RMH tomorrow, and I really don't want to bail on another shift.

Peace and Love

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Granddad

I did an emergency drive back to my family hometown last night. My Granddad is in hospital. Last night we were really worried, and we weren't sure whether they would end up putting him on the medi-copter to go to a bigger city, but they've got him stabilised, and now he's just undergoing a lot of tests. He's convinced he's coming home tomorrow or Tuesday at the latest, which at this stage looks pretty damned unlikely, but its a bit hard to convince him. He hates doctors and hospitals, this is the first time he has been in hospital since 1954. The tests so far have shown up some pretty serious health problems, so even if he manages to avoid a city transfer and an operation, he is definately going to have some struggles for the rest of his life. It breaks my heart to see him hooked up to all of the stuff in the bed, he always seemed pretty infallible. My Gran needs some support right now, definately emotional, but also because she is almost blind and needs a lot of help. So I'm here for the next little while. God, I'm so tired!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Becoming a group person

Like a lot of people with mental health problems, I lean towards isolation. The energy it requires to put on a good 'public' face is just sometimes a little too much. I also am not much of a "group" person. One on one, I do ok, but too many people, I can get anxious and overwhelmed. But I am doing reasonably well at the moment, and really trying to be proactive from a recovery standpoint. (M), my Case Manager took me to visit a Mental Health house with a Peer Support slant last year, when she first started seeing me, but it was just not the right time for me. But, (with further gentle encouragement from M) today I went along to one of the group sessions, to see how I went. And it went suprisingly well. The group was quite small, and they were very welcoming without being pushy. Just "glad you came, hope we see you back again". There are a variety of interesting groups including Art, Music, Women's and Under 30's. And it was not as I had feared (and experienced when I tried one of these places in a different city many years ago) all centred around talking about illness, or worse, competing to see "who had it worst". The focus seems to be about providing social opportunities to those of us who struggle with it, something that gets you out of the house, particularly when all your sane friends are working 9-5. Providing support that is Peer support, from people who have a lived experience of mental illness, and outside the medical framework. Which is a real attraction for me... as I feel like I spend most of my life in either a Doctor's or a Therapists office. A real chance to meet people of similar age and experience, who will accept you as you are at that moment in time. Time will see if the experience continues as well as it did today I guess. I particularly liked when one of the PS workers was talking to me about how they didn't focus on diagnosis, as that didn't define the person, their day to day experiences and general personality were more important. It wasn't denying the impact of the mental illness, but rather looking at it in a broader sense.

I'm quite proud of myself for actually going. The support I recieve through blogging is great, but to be able to get some of that IRL would be good too. And as much as I love ya'all, we can't sit down for a coffee, ciggie and a chat, ya know? So, I guess I kind of achieved two things today...a possible addition of support, socialisation and activity, and a sense of achievement for being able to stepout of my comfort zone and face my fears....

I'm working quite hard on the isolation thing at the moment... taking the opportunity while I feel well to reconnect with friends and increase my volunteer work. My friend (S) and I are going to a Farmers Market tomorrow morning, which I am looking forward too, especially picking up some oh so yummy bannana bread and cheap fresh flowers. The parentals are also coming to stay for the weekend, which means Big Sis will probably be over a lot.... which can create a lot of tension... but I'm going to try not to get drawn into it and just enjoy the time with my mum.

In other news, I am on the third day of my Serepax tapering down. We've just removed the midday dose at this time, but I guess its going well. Mostly it's just a physical anxiety in the afternoons, not really worrying about anything mentally, but the body is responding like I am. Trying to use a combination of relaxation techniques and distractions, reminding myself that its my body's reaction to the medicatio withdrawal and will pass, rather than 'true anxiety'. I've found bubble gum and blowing gum bubbles is a handy trick for redirecting the physical frenetic energy when I am stuck in a place where I can't move about, or when I am trying to concentrate on TV or something.

Peace and Love

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How did they survive?

Our power is out. Not the lights, just everything that requires a power point. (Lucky the laptop has battery power!) I rang Energex and they said the power is delivered on a two phase circuit (?) and because only one of these circuits is out, its a problem with the fuse box, not the electricity supply. Nothing has tripped in the fuse box, so something is just fundamentally damaged. The mains fuse seems to spark on and off. As we rent, I looked up our lease and found the emergency repairs number. But the lease states you can only contact the emergency repairer yourself, in cases of serious electrical faults. What does serious mean? I'm not an electrician? If the mains fuse is sparking as it appears, I would think that's a safety issue... but what would I know? I went ahead and called the Emergency Electricians mobile, to ask advice, as to whether this needed to be dealt with tonight, or we could wait and contact the rental agency tomorrow, but I got voicemail. I've left a message so hopefully he should call back... sigh. In the meantime, we have no tv, no microwave, no dryer etc etc... How did they every survive before electricity??

Here's hoping my house isn't burnt down due to electricity fault tonight!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Its my Blogoversary

Yup! It's my blog's first birthday! A whole year since I first wandered onto the blogosphere! I hope you've enjoyed the craz-eeeee!

Let's have a look back at the last 365 days...
  • It took me a while to figure out the whole stat counter gadget thang, so I've only had that installed for about 10 months, but its currently hovering at 5983 visitors... Not the crazy amounts of hits some of the greater blogs out there recieve, but still either ya'all find somewhat I've said interesting or amusing in a tragically pathetic way!
  • I started this blog with a new therapist (D) who I had been seeing for about a month, along the way I have somehow picked up a Case Manager and a Psychiatrist...well technically I guess I've had 2 Case Managers and 2 Psychiatrists... but (M) and (Dr F), my current MH peeps are pretty damned good (most of the time)
  • I also managed to (after having avoided hospital for about 18 months) get myself hospitalised 6 times in the last year, spending nearly three months all up in hospital...sigh.
  • This will be my 209th post... didn't quite stick to my goal of posting every day, but still a fair effort considering the aforementioned time spent in psych ward captivity, no?
  • I've been on 7 different medications in the last year... I'm still trying to lose the weight from the damned anti-psychotics!
  • I've had approximately 112 therapy sessions (including phone sessions while I was away). Argh! Even at the sliding scale fee (D) kindly offers me... this has cost me about $3500
  • I had a boyfriend. I dumped the boyfriend. We got together again. I dumped him again. Yeah... I'm a biatch.
  • I started volunteering, which I still absolutely love
  • I completed my Practicuum for Uni against all odds. I then decided to drop out of Uni two weeks later. Seemed crazy, but I still think it was the right decision.
  • I went horseback riding, highroping, on a trip to Melbourne and Tasmania... seems I do still have a bit of a life afterall.
  • I also spent countless hours lying in my bed, unable to get the motivation or energy to dress or eat
  • I got drunk for the first time in six years.... then again, and again.... I think I've managed to knock that bad habit back on the head now...
  • I discovered
  • I had my 27th birthday... which I spent in hospital. I'm getting kind of old, eh?
  • I've had three different hair colours, three different mobile phones and three chest infections...three's the magic number!
Well, that's a few highlights and lowpoints of the year. Laughter and tears. Thanks for sharing it with me. Thanks for commenting and supporting. I kind of can't believe I stuck to it a whole year. I also can't believe how fast the year went. And although I really haven't moved that far forward (my CM and Therapist would jump down my throat for that, apparently they see 'great strides!'), it was a crazy year and I am proud of myself for getting through, and sticking around.

Peace and love,

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Driving under water ain't right!

I discovered today that I don't like tunnels. I mean, I really, really, truly despise tunnels!

See, we ventured over to the northern suburbs today. My lil sis ( also my current housemate), her bf (soon to be my new housemate) and I. Our journey across the river was to look at some of the suburbs to determine where we will be moving to when our lease runs out in a few months.

Now let me say here, I don't actually want to move. I like where we live. I like the freedom I have from me close to a major shopping centre and fantastic public transport into the city. I am comfortable with the people who work with me from the Mental Health district that services the south-eastern suburbs. I like my GP. I like my pharmacist. (When you are on as many medications as I am, and they are dispensed weekly, you develop quite the relationship with your pharmacist!) I can get to my volunteer job easily. I can visit my friends easily. It has become familiar and comfortable and workable. Sigh. But I also like (for the most part) living with Lil sis. I can't afford to live by myself and I would not cope moving into share accomodation with strangers. So, the time has come for compromise. She wants to move in with her bf. He works on the coast. He is prepared to move to the city to live with us, but in order for his work commute to be reasonable that means we need to live on the other side of the city. At first, they wanted to move to one of those "Lifestyle" gated communities, pretty much as far north as you can go and still claim to live in *our city*. You know the places, where they advertise how you'll rollerblade around the fake lake, and take walks every evening... blah blah. As if a physical move suddenly turns you into a fitter, healthier, relaxed, more active person. As if that's all it takes. Problem being, it would take me well over an hour just to get into the city centre.

So we are working on a compromise. Far enough north that bf is closer to work, and can get on the motorway avoiding too much heavy traffic in the morning. But closer to the city and public transport, so that I can stay independent and not totally isolated. It means I will have to move to a different Health District (but maybe by then I'll be discharged from the Mental Health service anyway?), find a new GP/Pharmacist, and getting to work and visiting friends will take a little longer. But it's a pretty fair compromise I guess. I just don't adjust to change very well. Sigh. The good news is that it is actually on the same side of town as my therapist, so if we get somewhere on the right busroute, the travel time there might be reduced.

Now I said we had to venture across the river. Thats not strictly true. Lil Sis had the bright idea that instead of taking the bridge, we should take the new, you-beaut tunnel they have built to bypass the city, that takes you under the river. It was horrible. My skin got clammy, I started hyperventilating, I felt totally trapped. Ugh. They spent a fortune on this tunnel bypass, but hardly anyone uses it, even though they've dropped the toll to try and increase the traffic. And now I know why. It's just not natural, driving under all that water. But lil sis thinks its great, because its cheaper than the bridge and you avoid the traffic. So on the way home we took it again. Ugh! It was not a phobia I was aware of until today, but its easily hit the "Top 5 Things that freak me the fuck out!" list.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Too lazy to write a post

After boasting about my superior intelligence yesterday (joking!) and because after three days straight of therapy sessions, I cannot be arsed to talk about today's, I have decided to put up a stupidity test in leiu of an actual blog post that would require thinking and stuff! I've never really done the meme thing on this blog before, and it definately won't be a regular feature, but hey, think of it as getting to know Ophelia time.

Feel free to ignore or read and laugh at me... whatever floats your boat.

✖]Stupidity Test: (Mark with an X)

[X] Gum has fallen out of your mouth when you were talking.
[  ] Gum has fallen out of your mouth when you were NOT talking.
[X] You have run into a glass/screen door.
[  ] You have jumped out of a moving vehicle.
[X] You have thought of something funny and laughed, realised you were the only one in the room laughing.

So far: 3 outta 5.. Not a great start... hmm

[  ] You have ran into a tree/bush.
[  ]  You know that it IS possible to lick your elbow.
[X] You have tried to lick your elbow.
[X] You never knew that the Alphabet and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star have the same rhythm.
[X ] You just tried to sing them.

So far: Ok.. another 3 outta 5... Actually despite my best attempts I can't lick my elbow... can anyone really?

[X] You have tripped on your shoelace and fallen.
[X] You have choked on your own spit. (AND SURVIVED!)
[  ] You have seen the Matrix and still don't get it.
[  ] You've never seen the Matrix.
[  ] You type only with two fingers.

So far: Getting better...2 outta 5, but I got out of the last one on a technicality... I type with 3 fingers!!

[X] You have accidentally set something on fire.
[X] You tried to drink out of a straw, but it went into your nose/eyes.
[X] You have caught yourself drooling.
[X] You've fallen asleep in public.
[  ] If someone says "fart" you laugh.

So far: Uh-oh...4 outta 5 and a flashback to tenth grade when I set the kitchen on fire dousing an oil-pan fire with water... the whole room had to be repainted. Now, the straw thing I do quite regularly, but an extra special trick was back in college when I tried to take a shot from a split shot glass and ended up with a nip of Black Sambuca in my eyes...Smooth mover!
[ ] Sometimes you just stop thinking.
[X] You are telling a story and forget what you were talking about
[ ] People are often shaking their heads and walk away from you.
[ ] You are often told to use your "inside voice".
[ ] You use your fingers to do simple math.

So far: He he... One outta five.. and that one shouldn't count because I am often on heavy duty psychotropic drugs!

[X] You have eaten a bug
[X] You are taking this test when you should be doing something more important.
[X] You have put your clothes on backwards or inside out, and didn't realize it.
[X] You've looked all over for something and realized it was in your hand.

So far: Oh dear... Four outta four...FAIL. Although pertaining to the first, its hard to avoid swallowing bugs when your are jumping out of a plane.. so not really stupidity...that being said.. jumping out of a plane when its your first time ever in an aeroplane... kinda stupid.. so I'll cop that point and shut up.

[ ] Your friends know not to use big words around you
[ ] You tilt your head when you're confused
[X] You have fallen out of your chair before

So far:  One out of three... but seriously, who above the legal drinking age hasn't fallen out of a chair. In the most memorable instance, my friend left me drunk and in a chair when she went to call us a cab from a party one time. When she came back I had dissappeared and she assumed I had headed back out to find more liquor at the bonfire... after fruitlessly searching she came back in and realised... yep, I had passed out and slid right off the chair under the table where I was curled up asleep... Ah to be young and still able to drink!

[X] When you're laying in bed, you try to find pictures in the texture of the ceiling (in my curtains actually)
[  ] The word "umm" is used many times a day.

So far: Oh that was my favourite passtime in the psych ward.... says more about the state of the wards OT programme then me, I think. One outta two

"I've done 19 stupid things out of 30"

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I think therefore I resist....

I am a person of reasonable intelligence. Some have said above average intelligence... I don't really know, there always seems to be people out there that are smarter... but my brain has certainly been a strong part of my identity and day to day functioning.

But is it getting in the way? Certainly, I have always known that I have a tendency to over-intellectualise issues as a way of calming the not so rational world of emotions. And in many ways, that's been a saving grace. I am able to rationalise away when people's actions hurt me, rather than acting out from a purely emotional stance, which enables me to save relationships. I am sometimes able to rationalise away unpleasant feelings or moods if they are making functioning in life difficult. It gives the distance needed to react in ways that are productive rather than destructive, ordered rather than disordered and chaotic, fair and rational rather than unfair and irrational. It's part of the grease on the wheels of civilisation, I feel. To act from the evolved, thinking part of the brain, rather than the animalistic instinctual parts, or the slightly more evolved, yet largely unconcious emotional parts of the brain.

But as an annoying American TV therapist would say..."How's that working for you?" Obviously not so well, (see multiple hospitalisations, bucket loads of medication, and three therapy sessions a week) There are things that can't be held in check by rationality and intellectualisation. I have to admit so much of what goes on in my mind has little to do with that small, evolved, intellectual part. And in order to deal with those uncontainable, unrationalisable little gremlins that are running about, I need to be able to talk about them in therapy in their native language... the language of emotions. I am book smart but my emotional intelligence is lacking, to be sure.

Obviously, this came up in therapy today. And maybe it does have a lot to do with why therapy has stalled a little or to reference my previous post become a little tedious. Because there isn't anywhere to go until I learn to speak from emotions. Ugh. I hate emotions. I often will sit there in session and think, I should be feeling something about this, and underneath it I am, I just often can't access it, or identify what it is. When (D) asks me "I wonder what you might be feeling right now?" and I say "I don't know" I am not being difficult, I just can't quite put my finger on it and name it. And then the one of the two basic feelings that I do see to be able to identify 'panic' and less often 'anger' flood in and override the more subtle emotions... sadness, despair, vulnerability, shame.... an endless list.

I seem to have gotten better at identifying the physical elements of the emotions and with (D)'s help linking them to a named emotion. Sadness sits around the jaw, tight and wound. Shame creates a bodily feeling of disconnection... a rejection of the physical self really. But still there is an inherent disconnect between the naming and basic somatic reactions and any deep understanding of what the emotion actually is.

Looking back at therapy sessions this evening, I have come to realise how much I employ intellectualisation as a defense mechanism. Arguing semantics, being pedantic as a form of deflection, looking for the flaw in each persuasive arguement my therapist makes, much as I used to try and tear apart the opposing teams position in High School debate. Not really caring so much about the position I am taking, but more about negating the position she takes. Deflect, deflect, deflect. Anything to keep her, and more importantly myself away from peering at the primal wounds. And so often I haven't even realised I am doing it.

But what do I do? How do I make myself drop this defence? Recognising it is a good first step, admitting it to (D) and allowing her to call me on it another good step. But beyond that... how do I speak this language I just don't understand? I don't know how to communicate these things. Even this blog post... entirely rational and intellectualised.

Let's give it a try... At the moment I feel... pretty tired (ok, so that's more physical)... hmm, a bit anxious... but my mind immediately jumped to rationalising that as the fact its late at night, which is the worst time for me so I generally feel a bit anxious at this time of night. Ok...why anxious? Nights are a time where I feel vulnerable, like I am open to attack, I feel quite childlike like a little kid terrified of the boogie man in the cupboard, 90% of you knows its not there, but the other 10% can't be that certain. Ashamed, because I am a grown woman who is still afraid of childish things like the dark and the monsters that inhabit it. Fearful... it always sits in the pit of my stomach until dawn breaks or I fall asleep. Sigh. I don't know. Is that the way you do it? Maybe typing them isn't the way to acknowledge the feelings. Maybe I would be best to just lie quietly and let them come, yep thats fear, that's what it feels like, now let it flow on and feel what comes next? Maybe thats one way to start learning this language in a way that's more about understanding then just knowing the words. Does that even make sense?

I am so confused right now... and I really don't know how to start chipping away through this so we can start doing the things we need to be doing in therapy.

Peace and love

Monday, July 26, 2010


Tedium: The quality or condition of being tedious; tediousness or boredom.
[Latin taedium, from taedre, to weary.]

Therapy was ok today. Unsuprisingly, some of the content focussed around the conversation we had about Borderline Personality last session, and the feelings this aroused. We spoke a little about the split between the purpose of the Public Mental Health team (my PsychDoc and Case Manager) and her, my private therapist. She purported that there should be no split, and anything that was impacting on me re: Public Health, was important to consider in therapy as well. More specifically, I had stated that I wasn't really all that interested in discussing the Borderline diagnosis with her, as I didn't feel that it impacted in anyway on the therapeutic process... PH was the place where diagnosis, medication and day to day coping skills were paramount, and therapy was more for understanding the motivations behind behaviours. I kind of felt like we were wasting time talking about it.

As the conversation continued, evidently I let out a rather large sigh. Cue thera-speak... "I wonder what is going on for you right now, behind that sigh?" (Sidenote: Why can't they just talk normally? How often do you say to the average person "I wonder why you chose this movie"? Just ask directly...I can take it, and its a little less irritating) Anyway, I told her that I was just feeling a bit fed-up. Not with her particularly, just with therapy in general. Walking into the room three times a week, and talking about things that more often than not recently, feel pretty unimportant. It felt tedious, and I didn't particularly, in that moment want to be there.

This resulted in an examination of what tedium was, was it felt like and when I had felt  it before... a conversation that in itself felt pretty tedious.

The thing is... I don't feel like it is that important to look at in any great depth. For any human there comes times whether it be in relationships or work, where the act of doing the same or similar thing over an over again created a tedious feeling. It's natural, but it passes. Something will happen, that will break the monotony and spark a new engagement. In therapy, sometimes it is just the tedious task of poking around and hitting all the boring, non-painful areas for a while, until you hit a raw spot... and then the tedium breaks and there is room for growth or new insights. The only time I think the feeling of tedium is particulalry worriesome is if it persists and nothing sparks that break, or if you react to the tedium in a maladaptive way ie. this therapy is boring and wearisome in this exact moment, so I'm going to quit and never come back.

Sure the feeling is certainly a signpost in the therapeutic space that we're a bit off track, but if we keep pushing on eventually we'll get back on track again. IMO. Not a big deal. But everything must be examined within an inch of its life, whether important or not... so we'll be continuing this conversation in therapy tomorrow, no doubt, as we ran out of time today.

Re-reading this post it has a slightly snarky quality... but you know, I'm just a bit fed up. It will pass.

The mighty mighty benzo

Aside from the diagnosis issues to discuss with PsychDoc on Tuesday, we are also looking to start withdrawing me from the Serepax. A little scary, but I'm really keen to try. Ultimately, research has proven that Benzodiazepams are really not the best drugs to be on long term... and I have been on one or another benzo for the past 10 years. My first script was Temazepam, which did sweet f.a., to be honest. That was followed by a brief affair with Valium, but we parted ways after just two doses as it made me feel incredibly disconnected from myself and the world and nauseous and dizzy to boot. Xanax was my buddy for a good number of years, but that was cut short by the Psych after my admission to hospital last year, when they changed me over to Serepax, as it was longer acting. I only ever took the Xanax to stem off major panic attacks, so pretty much left to my own devices, I would often go weeks without taking any, and when I did, it would just be one or two. When they changed me to Serepax to help with anxiety and insomnia I was prescribed 3 doses a day.... so in the end, even though the Public Health System doesn't like Xanax, as being shorter acting, its more likely to be abused, I have actually ended up taking more benzos under their guidance than when left to my own discretion... oh well. In addition to this, I take Clonazepam twice a day in conjunction with my anti-epileptic meds. So yeah, me and benzos? Old Pals!

I can't stop taking the Clonazepam as it helps significantly with my seizure threshold. But I never intended to be on the Serepax for this long, particularly taking it three times a day. And I've been bringing up the idea of ceasing it for about 6 months now, but there always seemed to be some crisis or upcoming event that made it advisable to hold off on cessation. But things have evened out a lot more over the last two months or so, so it is time to try.

Dr F is quite supportive of this, and is open to discussing the ways in which we can best taper it down. There are a few inherent issues. Usually they switch out the serepax with valium, and then taper off the valium, but as mentioned, Valium is no friend of mine, so I've chosen to taper down with out any crossovers. We also have to be careful, as withdrawing off Benzos can lower the seizure threshold for a while, but I have some room to play with my Epilim Dosage, which should hopefully counteract this.

I'm on the lowest dose for each of the three doses... 7.5mg, which is half a tablet each time... so it doesn't leave much room to half the dosage. So, we figured that I will just start skipping the lunchtime dose to begin with. I've had a bit of a trial run last fortnight, and whilst I definately felt more agitated and anxious in the afternoon, it was certainly manageable. Because I'm on weekly meds, Dr F wants to make sure I have enough tablets each week so that I can take the lunchtime tablet if I need to. But she's also quite rightly concerned about me hoarding them. Frankly it would be a temptation... not because I'm suicidal right now, but because Ive been on weekly meds and thus without the safety blanket of stored meds for so long now. When she expressed her concern, I admitted I wasn't quite sure if I trusted myself. So, I'm going to propose she writes ONE script with the extra dose (adding up to 3 and a half extra tablets, nothing I can do with that), and I will give the extras to my sister to mind, unless I need them. And after that she writes the script for just two dose, unless we discuss otherwise. I know part of recovery is being responsible for my own well being, but part of being responsible, I believ, is knowing the areas you can't yet be trusted and asking for help.

So, she has talked to me about how important it is to withdraw slowly... but frankly I didn't think it was going to be too huge a deal. I mean I did ok for those couple of days last fortnight, and although I've been on this particular Benzo for nearly a year, its a reasonably low dose, and I still have the Clonazepam and my anti depressant in my system. But then I made the mistake of looking up Benzo Withdrawal....oh, internet, sometimes you are a Pandoras Box!... Some of the side effects of withdrawal allegedly include:
abdominal pains, aching, agoraphobia, anxiety, blurred vision, body vibrations, changes in perception, diarrhea, distended abdomen, feeling of unreality, flu-like symptoms, flatulence, food cravings, hair loss, heart palpitations, heavy limbs, increased allergies, increased sense of smell, insomnia, lethargy, loss of balance, metallic taste, muscle spasms, nightmares, panic attacks, paranoia, persistent & unpleasant memories, severe headaches, shaking, short term memory loss, sore mouth and tongue, sound & light sensitivity, speech difficulties, sweating, suicidal thoughts, tinnitus, unusually sensitive, fear
This was one of the shorter lists. On some sites, there are those who seem to hold it responsible for everything from cavaties to the hole in the ozone layer... I don't know, its hard to find accurate information. I mean flatulence? Seriously? I think even when the side effects are written up on legitimate sited, the information is still derived from patient reporting, and there is a population of patients who just make the weirdest connections in their minds between vague somatic complaints and medications. Its hard to know which ones are valid. And then of course there is the fact its all planted in my mind.... you start thinking maybe my ears are ringing just a little, oooh and my mouth is dry, definately dry and that light is getting a bit bright for my eyes. Short story, I would have been better off not looking it up. And I know this from past experience... so why do I continue to do it? Sigh. We will just wait and see what the next week brings...

And in the meantime... if I do cut the cheese... I can just blame it on my benzo withdrawl, instead of the long suffering, unfairly maligned cat :P

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hurt and confused

So. It rears its head again. Borderline Personality Disorder. I was at an appointment with my GP on Tuesday, and we were looking for the latest letter from the PsychDoc. My GPs computer is set up so that the patient can actually see information as it is pulled up. I don't know why, and I'm kind of wishing now that it didn't. Anyway, she pulled a letter that turned out to be from last year when I was with BabyPsychDoc Douchebag, rather than the lovely Dr F that I see at the clinic now. And the top line stated (I'm not sure of it verbatim) basically that patient has diagnosis of PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder (although patient has expressed discontent over the latter diagnosis). Sigh. Patient did not express 'discontent', patient was never actually formerly given the diagnosis, tested for the diagnosis or had it explained in any way. Patient only found out about the diagnosis attached to her name when she saw it in the hospital records whilst in a neurologist appointment. Patient tried to (rather calmly and rationally, I may add) ask for confirmation and justification of this new added diagnosis, only to be met with noone who would actually admit to being the one to put said diagnosis in her file!

That was last September. Although it pissed me off, I let it go, because a) it didn't seem to be impacting in anyway on my course of treatment (as stated before BabyPsychDoc at the time was a complete and utter douchbag for many reasons, a classic line of his was "you seem to be doing better, but its always hard to tell with 'you people' WTF? But I was changed to seeing the Consultant Psych, until the new registrar replaced him,  and she is really quite good) and b)to confront it to aggressively would be to affrim the stereotypes that surround the diagnosis...we wouldn't want a female patient who is actually proactive about her mental health treatment and advocates for herself now would we?

This time, I was pissed and I wanted to do something about it. First, this is now outside of hospital records and in my general medical records which follow me forever, having a chronic medical condition, I need to keep my medical records intact, and although current GP is lovely and it doesn't affect the way she treats me at all, there are others in the medical field who will stigmatise based on this diagnosis...thats just the sad truth of it. If I'm ever in a court case (God knows for what?) it can be supnoead (sp?) If I wanted to adopt etc etc...none of these are issues at the moment, but when you are thinking of something that follows you FOREVER. Second, it creates a distrust in the mental health system I'm supposed to derive support from. It is blatent dishonesty. What other diagnosis would it be acceptable to just sneak into somebody's records and NEVER discuss it with them. How am I supposed to trust what they say with such a fundamental omission in play. This is how it should be. Clinician sees signs and symptoms of a particular disorder, they test their hypothesis against the DSM and through testing. (I've never undergone any of the accepted tests for Borderline diagnosis ie Perry Borderline Personality Disorder Scale) and once they are supported in their diagnosis, they then (here's the important part) sit down with the patient, share their findings and opinions, explain the diagnosis and share the current treatment plan.

I'm not saying that I flat out refuse to accept such a diagnosis. I have issues with the diagnosis itself on conceptual grounds. 5 out of 9 criterion to meet the Disorder. Two people can share 1 symptom and be diagnosed with the same disorder. Statistically there are over 2000 variations of criterion combination that could justify a diagnosis. It just seems to be a very broad brushstroke to me. And any diagnosis that has a 75% female, 25% male split certainly has to be examined in the light of sociological context. That is, behaviour accepted as normal for men, being pathologised in females. Takes us right back to Ancient Greek times when women were thought to suffer from "wandering wombs". It is not at all a far reach to say the broadness of this diagnosis has led to it being used as a wastebin for "difficult" female patient who have the audacity not to respond to the righteous treatment of hubristic practioners, because of course it could not be that their treatment is actually inadequate. And the stigma that comes from such a diagnosis just serves to marginalise and suppress a population that quite often has already had a lengthy history of marginalisation and mistreatment, and should be treated with empathy and understanding. Does Borderline Personality Disorder exist? Most certainly. And it can debilitating for those who do classically fit the criteria. I read some fantastic blogs from people who have accepted this diagnosis, and find it to be helpful in explaining why they see and engage in the world the way they do. Does it automatically apply to anyone with an XX chromosome that self harms? According to the DSM it shouldn't..... but in reality it does.

So, jumping off my soapbox now. Because this is about me. Does it apply to me? My gut says no. After extensive reading, my mind says no. But I am reasonable and open to hearing the professionals opinions. If I can get them to talk to me. I spoke to my Case Manager (another lovely lady) this morning during our appointment and told her what I had seen, and let her know that I was going to bring it up at my appointment with Dr F on Tuesday, that I just wanted to get all of it out in the open, rather than it being dealt with in an underhanded way. I have no idea if it is the enduring opinion of the professionals or just the work of Dr Douchebag. I was just letting her know in case she wanted to be at the appointment, as she has been my Case Manager since the time of Dr Douchebag when this letter was written. She was quite supportive about it, without ever actually saying whether or not she agreed with the diagnosis. She is a psychologist and they can't actually diagnose here in Australia, and really I guess its probably not her place to speak for the team. I think she understood my frustration about the manner in which it was handled, although she did express how incredibly difficult it is to get something like that removed from one's record. I think she still felt it was important for me to find out once and for all, and to feel like there was a transparency in my treatment and not a me versus them thing going on. She also said that if it were her, given the implicit stigmas that can be attached to this particualr diagnosis she would want to ensure that it was thoroughly assessed and valid before it was attached to her file. So all in all, a positive response, and I am sure it will be the same with Dr F. Not necessarily that they will agree with me, but that they will at least be open and honest with me about it... and that's all I ask.

But then.

I went to therapy. (D) is a private psychologist, with no link to the public system. She asked what had been going on over the last few days, and I let her know, about my talk with (M) and the upcoming appointment with Dr F. Now, keep in mind, I didn't actually ask her whether she thought I had this disorder. Why? Well, first because she has stated before that she feels that there is overly too much emphasis on labels and that it takes away from the ability to truly 'see' the person. And second, because I didn't want to know. Seems a bit hypocritical, no? I want full disclosure from the Public Health professionals, but I don't want to know what my therapist thinks? And maybe it is. But her opinion is NOT written down in my records, she cannot officially diagnose me, so her opinion can't hurt me in that sense. But it can sure as hell hurt me in a more practical sense. Unfortunately, I guess by bringing up the conversation she assumed I wanted to know her opinion, and I did nothing to dissuade her from that assumption. Totally my fault. Well, 99% my fault. So she proceeded to give me her take. First, labels tend to be more of a distraction from seeing and understanding the person (see I do know her!), second that she has issues with Borderline Personality as a disorder, for similar reasons to what I mentioned above. But that she does believe that people can suffer from (and I'm paraphrasing) a disorder of their sense of self... I do love how she believes that semiotics make much of a difference at all. And apparantly, a good part of her studies, she focussed on Borderline Personality (a disorder she has issues with, so I'm a little confused) And she does think that some of the criterion I don't think I fulfill, I actually kind of do. For instance, abandoment issues. I certainly don't display the traditionally thought of "Borderline" behaviours around it... ie lack of Object Constancy etc... but that you can't have the experiences I did in infancy and childhood, and not have abandonment issues. She admitted she couldn't quote the DSM verbatim, and would have to have a look at it, and would be happy to bring it in and go through it with me. At this point, I had gotten pretty quiet.... and yes, a little hurt and upset. I told her that I didn't want her to bring it in, and in fact, I hadn't asked her opinion. At which point she stated "I'm a little confused", to which I replied "Me too".

So that's the sum of it. I think I would have been better not knowing her opinion. And now I'm kind of stuck between not wanting to know anymore and needing her to actually explain her position because I don't know if she thinks I have it or not, and now its the elephant in the room. And yeah, my feelings got hurt. But I also have to buck up and be prepared to face the truth, whatever that is, and part of that is being prepared to listen to others opinions. So i think I need to hear her out in full, and of course (M) and Dr F as well, and then test those opinions against my own. Afterall, logically, living with a mental illness, whatever it may be, can distort ones own perceptions and insight. It doesn't mean I have to just unreservedly accept others opionions, but, if they've shown themselves to be trustworthy, and they have taken the time to know me, and try to understand me, which all three of these women have, then I should at least listen.

So, for now, I'm left hurt and confused

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Itty Bitty Tanties

Ok, so maybe I threw a little, eensy, weensy, tiny tantrum in therapy today. Highlights included telling her to back off, stop patronising me, screwing up my fists and lasping into a sulky, scowling silence for the last 15 minutes or so of the session. And yes, it probably is still a good thing therapeutically, working through transference issues and having the chance to experience and express (however clumsily) anger in the safe containment of the therapy room. But ultimately I'm left feeling like quite a prat, and am feeling quite embarrassed at the prospect of going back. And I maintain, for today at least, THERAPY SUCKS BALLS.

Had my PsychDoc appointment, and it went pretty well. We're going to put off the benzo withdrawal for a fortnight or so. With the current little slump I'm experiencing, its just better to wait until things stabilise a little. But then hopefully, we'll start a slow withdrawal process, and sometime (in the hopefully near future) I will be completely off the Serepax.

Other than that I'm just trying to focus on keeping a positive attitude. Its just a little slump and it will pass. It doesn't mean that things are spinning out of control. I will sleep again. And I will feel happy again. This too will pass.

Spoke to Case Manager (M) and she said to give her a call if things continue to be a bit down, otherwise I will see her next week. I guess a part of me just doesn't want to admit to them how low I am feeling, because I want to be able to handle it myself, there isn't really any particular problem that they can help address, and probably a little bit of pride as well.... I was doing so well, I hate that I wasn't able to keep it up.

Anyway, Lil Sis and I got some boxed we'll be watching Outrageous Fortunes, True Blood, and the first season of Glee for the forseeable future.

Peace and love


Argggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggh! Therapy sucks balls. That is all.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I don't wanna and you can't make me, so there!

So feeling much better. Sleep seems to be slowly improving which is fantastic. Had a bit of a funny converstion with Lil Sis this evening:
Me: Why is it that the "Woman's Day" (an Aussie Magazine) is only released weekly and the "Woman's Weekly" is only released monthly?
Lil Sis: Well, it wouldn't sell very well if they called it "Woman's Monthly"
Me: Touche, Grasshopper, Touche....

Therapy was interesting today. We got talking about my little irrational crying jag on Saturday night. I mentioned that I knew what had triggered it off (a movie I was watching) but that wasn't really the reason I kept crying. The crying jag was completely out of proportion with what I had seen. That being said, I really wasn't entirely sure of what was behind it... but it was more than what I had seen on the TV. Here is where it got a bit tricky, because obviously her next question was what I had been watching that upset me. And I didn't want to tell her. She assumed it was because I was embarrassed and I let her think that. But it was actually not that at all. The truth was, I knew if I told her what it was, she would read way more into it than was necessary, and we would be caught up in a conversation I didn't want to have. I'll share it with you, my dear readers. The movie I was watching was "MASH- the movie", quite an oldie. The scene that upset me was when Hawkeye was in a bus, trapped behind enemy lines, and they were trying to keep as quiet as they could so the soldiers wouldn't know they were there. But there was one Korean woman with a baby that wouldn't stop crying and was putting them all at risk of being found. So in desperation, she smothered the baby to death. It was really quite horrible. And of course if I shared this with (D) than what direction do you think the conversation would take. Mother who sacrifices her child for her own survival. Easy to see where that would lead to in a therapy situation.

So, I didn't tell her. Which she accepted, but of course then we had to examine why I didn't want to tell her. Sigh. I felt myself digging my heels in even harder, which was not helpful and really, I was starting to annoy myself. I felt like a petulant child. But I also didn't feel like I could do anything about it. I knew I was being childish, but I couldn't stop myself. So I did the next best thing. I talked to (D), she pulled the old therapy chestnut "what's going through your head right now". And I answered honestly, that I felt like I often was behaving like a petulant child, and that I didn't know how to stop myself, and be open and less stubborn so that we could actually have productive session. We spoke about it for a while, and she posited that when a child behaves like that it is away of them creating that seperation of self from a parent, and maybe I was doing it to create that seperation of self from her in the therapeutic process. Which annoyingly, made sense. Freaking transference. If I was to talk about this process to any of my friends, they would just think its bloody weird. And it is. But it is helpful. Sigh.

Anyhow. I'm applying to volunteer in the children's ward across from the RMH, which I think is a good step toward filling my life with productive and meaningful stuff. Job Hunt 2010 still goes on. Hopefully I should hear back from the Disability Employment Ofiicer soon. Tomorrow, I've got therapy again and then an appointment with Psych Doc. And then in the afternoon Lil Sis and I are going to go shopping for new DVD BoxSets to keep us entertained. Any suggestions?

Peace and Love