Saturday, October 31, 2009

Charlatons, Soothsayers and Therapists

So, I went to the markets with a friend of mine today. (Yes, I'm being a good girl and trying to make sure that I get out of the house regularly). So apart from picking up my usual loaf of yummy bannana bread, on a lark, my friend and I decided to get out tarot cards read by a 'clairvoyant' who is there every week.

Some of the reading was somewhat predictable. She asked me to take off my sunglasses, and then commented on how I put up a mask to hide from the world. (I then informed her, they were prescription sunglasses, and spent the next few minutes fumbling in my bag for my normal specs. She made mention of my health issues (hrrmm...could the medi-alert necklace around my neck have tipped you off?) But other than those two very obvious observations...erm... I mean psychic feelings, a lot of what she said was pretty spot on. Well, at least, she seemed to be in agreement with a lot of the things my therapist (D) has mentioned. She said I needed to focus on respecting myself, and deciding what other people do and do not deserve from me, rather than allowing other people to make those decisions. To have confidence in my own choices. And to let go of the pain from the past that no longer served me. I needed to stop being so cautious and allow my 'cheeky, daring, inner child' to explore. She said that I was at a place in my life of transformation.

Ultimately it was really, not that much different from the average therapy session. The only difference being that I didn't say a word, or nod, or shake my head for the whole session. It kind of made me wonder how many of the mini-epiphanies I have experienced in therapy are due to the therapeutic process... and how much of it is just having a therapist who is as skilled as this clairvoyant and reading body language and other pragmatic cues.

I guess the other option is that this lady was really psychic. The one thing that did really creep me out was the fact that she kept mentioning snakes. Snakes (spare me your dream interpretations please) form a very strong part of a recurrent, very frightening nightmare that I have about the abuse in my past. I'm sure there are all sorts of reasons why snakes are in there symbolically. And when I went into hallucinations after my overdose, it was hallucinations of snakes crawling all over me, the bed and the room. The psych nurse who was on constants with me at the time later told me she had never seen a heart rate go as high from anxiety as mine did during that episode. Needless to say snakes as a whole terrify me.

The other vision she had was of me smacking my hand with a ruler... that made me laugh on the inside a little. Self reproach is certainly my specialty.

Anyway. I do believe, ultimately what happens in my therapists office is a lot more complicated than that. Afterall $10 for a Tarot reading versus $130 for a therapy session it would have to be, right?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Being Productive

I had yet another interview with Centrelink last week. Par, for the course, just ensuring nothing had changed, I hadn't had a lottery win I forgot to tell them about etc. Of course, in my less than chipper frame of mind, I heard their questions as "So, how long have you been an unproductive member of society" "How long do you plan to remain a drain on those of us who actually manage to pull it together and work?'. I'm pretty sure they're not the words that came out of her mouth, but once it went through my inner translator, that's how it came out.

And with the heightened levels of anxiety I've been experiencing lately, I've been wondering whether maybe I just have too much time to sit around and worry. What to do..what to do?

Sometimes I feel between the psychologist, the psychiatrist, the case manager, the neurologist and the GP etc I feel like my whole life is appointments.

Well, for what its worth, I put my resume in to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House. And I got an email back today saying they were very impressed with my resume and want to meet next week. Which I guess is a boost to my ego. So why am I so terrified!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Older sister (K) came over for the evening yesterday, and as I sat there and listened to the details of her grievances (real and percieved) against the world wash over me, I was struck by the question. Why do I allow her practically a free pass on all of her destructive behaviour, whilst continually serving myself up as a whipping boy for my own? Why can I brush away, so easily, so much of her behaviour as... she can't help it, its just part of the illness, she has trouble with empathizing... blah blah blah, any of the million reasons I give to absolve her of all of the pain she causes. But hold myself to such a standard that I am tied up in knots trying not to hurt my family and friends. I feel guilty all the time, that they worry about me, about the trauma I put them through with the OD, I feel guilty I don't live up to their expectations, I feel guilty that I don't seem to be able to get well as easily as others. I feel guilty about taking too much... too much time..too much thought... too much everything. I feel guilty that I'm not completely honest. And thats just on the surface... I feel guilty I didnt protect my family better, I feel guilty I didn't get help earlier................

I guess with OS (K)'s case, I feel bad that she fell through the cracks, maybe if she had gotten help earlier... maybe if all those people at DFCS and foster care had asked the right questions, maybe if we as family members had stepped in when we saw her spiralling and put it down to her being 'a bad egg', rather than recognising the emergence of a mental illness, she wouldn't have become so thouroughly entrenched in these patterns.

Rambling along...

I guess the payoff for OS (K) is that she gets to live with little to no consequences with her get out of free card, and feel no guilt. So what is the payoff of guilt for me? The easy answer is a sense of control. The more things I feel guilty about, the more things I can fool myself into believing I have control over, if only I put in more effort. And its both comforting, unrealistic and demoralising all wrapped up in one little neurotic mess.

Not sure where this post was going... was just a very long visit and she's due back today.... I love her, but she the epitome of an emotional vampire.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

For K...if I decide to let her read this :P

Well... I have been somewhat lax in my blogging, haven't I? I guess I would put it down to a few things. 1. Anxiety has been so very out of control, I have been finding it hard to think straight. My uni work is falling desperately behind, which in turn is making me more anxious. And the worst part is, I don't really know what I am anxious about, and as someone wisely pointed out, I am getting more anxious, worrying about the source of the anxiety. So there you have it, a few weeks of riding the waves of anxiety, full blown panic attacks ect. I guess, the good thing is I am reaching out for help at times like that, by calling the people I need to call, some are more helpful than others (still not really getting much help from Triage Line, but I guess... I don't know exactly what I expect them to say!) I have persevered though, and called them twice over weekends, which seem to be the worst times for me. (Could that be because I know in those times its harder to get in touch with the people I am actually comfortable with, so I work myself up into a panic?..... maybe) I also think its because I don't have the house to myself during the day. You would think that was a good thing, to be surrounded and contained, but for me it just means having to keep my 'game face' up for a full 48 hrs, regardless of how I feel, which is exhausting.

Time with Case Manager (M) has been more productive, and I think we are building more of a rapport now we are meeting outside of the Continuing Care Office. I feel more relaxed and I can talk more with her, and she has been quite supportive in the last week or so, while I've called a few times over panic 'melt-downs', uni work and general ' I am a loser who can't cope with the world' type feelings. Although I'm sure reception is getting quite sick of hearing "This is Ophelia, may I please speak to M". I guess and (hope) that they have clients much more needier than I am... but still, I feel (a probably imagined) sigh in their voice when I ring. My hope is though, maybe she can help strengthen some of the self soothing and self calming techniques I have in my little reserve, so that I can better handle these things myself. I will need them as therapist (D) continues to delve deeper into previously untravelled terrain in my brain (and yes she is meeting much resistance along the way, although I try to cooperate, what's the point of going otherwise?)

Consumer Advocate (K) has been a good resource too, if only to remind me to laugh. Black humor has seen me through some pretty bad spots, particularly when I was learning to walk again, and it is always good to talk to somebody who won't shy away from the darker parts of your psyche.

This week has hit a bit of a health bump with an "Exorcist" style stomach bug, that has left me feeling like a deflated pool toy. Have an appointment with GP to get medical certificate ( which I will not use!!!!) Just in case. And also just make sure my serum levels for anti epileptics is ok after my many rounds with the porcelin bus.

Hypothetical person made it clear to hypothetical friend that she will not be given anymore medication. Her regular doctor is back and she needs to figure it out with him. Friendship seems to have survived this announcement which is nice.

Finally, (referencing the title) K was interested when I mentioned I wrote a blog about my mental health experiences.... and asked if I was willing to share the link with her. As you all know,this blog is completely anonymous.... so I am thinking about it. I don't know whether she would find anything of interest in here anyway... but I do feel like I can trust her, and as a a professional she would keep it confidential... I thinkas I mentioned a few blogs ago, whn I first met her (after much reservation leading up) I kind of feel like she understands when I speak. There is a feeling of sympatico... I'm thinking about it anyway.

And finally, for those of you who are interested Bachelor number 1, and I had our second date last week, and it went very nicely, movie, dinner, and then off to cafe for coffee and a dessert. He was quite gentlemanly, and we shared our first (very g-rated) kiss. Plans for third date are in the works... I really like him... but there are a lot of trust issues to contend with. And I haven't shown the best taste in men thus far.... And of course, at some point I will have to tell him he is dating a nutter, which I think I have done a remarkable job of hiding from him thus far.... sigh....

Anyways.,... until I have pondered my decision K, I shall remain.... the shadow!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It doesn't matter what I know

It doesn't matter that I know, I am not likely to be having a heart attack. It doesn't matter that I know I'm likely too young. It doesn't matter that the woman on the mental health triage line has told me the new medication changes are unlikely to actually be physically causing these symptoms. It doesn't matter that I know that heart attacks don't occur off and on for three days.

Because each time that it happens, (and it has happened a few times this weekend) I think I am going to die. The world spins out in a kaleidescope before me, stars swim in front on my eyes, my breathing is ragged, forcing its way out of my heavy chest, and my heart.... well my heart feels like its about to explode. It doesn't matter that I KNOW this is a panic attack... because in that moment, inspite of all that I know, I still feel like I am about to die.

And I don't know whats causing it. I've had panic attacks in the past, but always with some clear and discernible trigger. I don't know what is wrong with me now.... but I have no reason to be this anxious.

It doesn't help for the lady on the mental triage line to tell me to concentrate on breathing and relaxation, I already know that... its not helping. (Although what else I expect her to say or do, I don't know)

The increase in the serepax and the switch to the thorazine should be helping.... but I just have this overwhelming feeling something bad is going to happen. Something is lying awaiting me in the shadows.

I tried to get in contact with psychologist (D) but it would seem she is out of range today. Which she is well within her right to be, it is her weekend... and I have the Triage line, as useless as that is. Although there is that paranoid part of me that's thinking maybe she just isn't returning my message because she thinks I should figure this out myself. But realistically, I don't think thats the case, I dont call unless I absolutely need to, and she has always said before that it is fine. The lady from Triage line said she would put a not in my file, so I guess i can expect a call from case manager tomorrow... if not maybe I will call her myself. This can't be long. It is so hard to keep myself compliant to their regime when I know a couple of my left over xanax or maybe a bit of vodka would maybe take the edge off... But I need to follow their plan.

Its been a hard weekend, I suspect It will be a hard night

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Coming out of hiding

Well.... I've not written in a little while. The anxiety gremlins have been feasting on my brain. A few things have happened... some good, some bad. Let's see... Medications.. Doctors have upped my dose of serepax to try and help smooth out the anxiety and also changed me from Seroquel to Thorazine. (hopefully, this will help with the weight gain and I will stop looking like a chipmunk hoarding for the winter) The downside to this change, is the drug increases your sensitivity to the sun. And being, a fair, red-headed gal from down under approaching summer, this is not great news. Particularly since we have a history of skin cancers in the family. So slip slop slap. I usually just put on some sunscreen when I go out, but now Ive bought a roll on one to keep in my purse for touch ups during the day, just ordered a new pair of prescription sunglasses, and as for the hat... well I'm working on it... I have yet to find a hat I do not look like a total tool in.... seriously... I look like a wanna be gangsta, a chimney sweep or an old lady pruning her rose garden (argh)

Went and visted the local 'drop-in centre' with my case manager. Don't think its a place I will be going, but I guess it doesn't hurt to know its there. In more positive news, was heaps more relaxed with Case Manager (M) in the car, and after talking to Consumer Advocate (K) she has agreed to come to my house for our meetings, instead of me having to go to horrible mental health building. Yay! Iv'e asked her to give me a touch up on some of the CBT anti-anxiety strategies as that seems to be the biggest bugbear at the moment, as well as insomnia... but they are intertwined. She is also going to try and get me into public dental system to fix my teeth (background story: whilst in hospital in a different town, was over-medicated, fell face first onto bathroom tiles and smashed up my teeth, three years, multiple caps and two root canals later they are still a mess, and a big shaker of confidence)

Therapy with D has had its good moments and bad moments.. a lot of zoning out and dissassociating. Especially Monday, when the other Occupant of the suite decided to have work done during my session. Today was pretty good thoug, managed to stay present for the whole session. I really think we're still dancing around the trust thing, and thats going to take a while... but its coming along

In more astounding news, I had a date tonight... my first since ex (he who shall not be named) broke up over a year ago. I'm jumping back on the horse ready or not. Bachelor Number 1 (hereafter known as A) works with software engineering. He is well travelled, intelligent and funny... not sure what the heck he sees in me. But he asked for a second dinner next thursday it tis... will keep you posted

Sunday, October 11, 2009

You are such a Pill!

So here's the scenario:
Mary's friend Jane's regular doctor is out of town, so she has to rely on the locum GP to fill her scripts. But because of a change in her anti-depressants and other life factor Jane's anxiety is through the roof, and she needs a little bit more than her regular dose of valium to help take the edge off. She has been on higher doses before in times of crisis and then had it tapered down, during more level times, under the careful eye of her very understanding and responsible GP. But GP is not there at present time. She turns to her friend Mary, who has large amounts of clonazepam (because she has no history of addiction and because it is co-prescribed as an anti-anxiety/anti-epileptic drug) and asks whether she can have a few of her pills just to get through because locum GP is unwilling to change medications on patient she is not familiar with (fair enough). Mary is not really sure about handing over medication to friend who has a history of addictions and suicidal gestures. But she knows the alternative is friend will just end up getting so carried off by anxiety she will end up back in hospital, which is definately to be avoided. So Mary gets on line and researches clonazepam vs valium, contraindications ect, and gives her friend 14 o.5mg tablets to supplement her valium for the week. SHE DOES NOT TAKE MONEY for the tablets. She is doing it as a favor, although she feels uneasy. Jane calls Mary back to tell her how much the tablets have helped, that she is definately NOT taking more than 1mg a day, and that she is going to talk to her doctor about changing over to Clonazepam. Mary feels really unsure about the whole thing... questions? comments?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Its important to remember

Its important to remember to take the little pieces of happiness, when you can. Its the only way to keep your head above water... Somebody reminded me of this today, so I thought I'd write a list here to remind me when I am really low.

5 Things that make me Smile!
1. Babies... I love being around babies and children. I feel more relaxed and yet energised at the same time... I love the gurgles, the sloppy questions, and especially the folds on their chubby little legs
2. Books... When I can concentrate, I can find almost anything I need in a book, comfort, insight, fantasy, escape, hope
3. My Cat... she is a little she-devil, but when its down to the crunch she sits by me through the worst times
4. Rainforests... there is just something magical about a rainforest, like being in a fairy glen.. even if i do seem to attract every tick within a 5km radius
5. Photography... Catching the heappy moments, the beauty, so I have something to hold onto in the ugly, unhappy moments.

RE: The Dunce

Meeting with consumer advocate was not as bad as I had feared. I seem to have a bit in common with her personality wise and I actually felt like she understood the things I was saying. And she has a dark sense of humor which I can relate too. Case Manager (M) seemed a lot more relaxed with consumer advocate (K) in the room too... it was a lot less tense than it has been previously. There is a good chance there is something to be gained from listening to what this woman has to say, and heck, if somebody can give me some clues for how to punch my way out of this paper bag, I'm up for listening.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Dunce

I have a meeting with Case Manager (M) tomorrow. But this is going to be one wwith a twist... she is introducing me to a former 'mental health consumer'. They have some fancy title for them which slips my mind at the moment, but they are basically people who have been in the system before, have had mental health issues, and found ways to make successes of their lives. They come and talk to current clients through request by Case Manager, to share their stories as, I dunno... I guess a beacon of hope? Sounds great in theory, and in some ways I am interested in meeting her. I have often found it to be the case that those who have actually experienced mental health issues themselves can be of more help than the "professionals".

But there is also another part of me that is resistant to this arranged meeting. I guess, it comes from Case Manager basically saying to me last week that sometimes they label people Borderline Personality when they have been in a few different types of therapy with limited or moderate success. Basically those of us that fail the goal orientated behaviour therapies like CBT. So I kinda feel like the dunce student being shown the A-plus student. Kind of like, this is what you could be if you just put a little more effort in. Probably the wrong way to think about it, and I'm trying not to, but it hurts you know? Especially, since, being an inate people pleaser, I actually was the A student at school, who never got in trouble, no suspensions, no skipping school, not even detention. Basically if I could humanly do what they want me to do, what would make my family and friends happy and get 'better' I would. I try really hard to follow whatever advice, rules, medication regimes ect have been put in front of me. I don't skip therapy. I don't show up late. The few times I have rebelled against 'whats best for me', its been at times when I was just too damned tired to keep the enormous effort of what they ask from me going.


Anyways. Will see how it all pans out. Have decided to have a chat with Case Manager tomorrow anyway. She sees (I believe) my distractedness and aloofness as a form or resistance or challenge to her, and I want to try and explain that a)it takes me a while to trust and get comfortable with new situations/people and b) the room we meet in at the clinic totally freaks me out. Its really small, because they have so many offices crammed in, you can hear all the noise from around you which triggers my hypervigilance, and doesn't really assure me of the confidentiality of what I am saying and it locks and unlocks with a swipe card, which makes me feel trapped. I hope that if she undestands this, she might be able to understand me in context a little and not take these things on face value.

In other news. Toe is almost definately broken. Its purple and black and quite sore. So have been off my feet for most of the last few days (I know... I am such a wuss) But in the good news, has given me a chance to learn how to play Bob Marley's Three Little Birds on the guitar. I'm sure my beginner attempts at the guitar are driving the neighbors to distraction, but it gives me something new to focus on and sink my teeth into. :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pushing the boundaries

This one is not necessarily mental health related, but translates across far too often in my life.

I walk a knife's edge. Between good health and bad health, between sanity and insanity. And a good part of what has the capacity to make me tumble either way is the choices I make.... and boy do I make some stupid choices!

The one I'm refering to at the moment is my choice to stay at a friends housewarming last night later than I should have, pushing back my medications, when I was already exhausted.... predictable result... I had a seizure... in front of everybody... (and broke a couple of toes in the process)

Not the end of the world, but an unfortunate and embarrassing event that could easily have been prevented by making a better choice. Of course with my mental illness I come across these choices time after time, the bad choice to 'have a few drinks' because I wanted yo numb myself, preceding my last downhill spiral into hospital.

There are things I have no choices about...flashbacks, nightmares ect...

There are things I can choose to try an assert some control through CBT techniques, meds ect

And there are things I have ABSOLUTE control over... if I take this path, there is a firly good chance X is gonna happen.

I Don't do it often... I'm usually quite the well-behaved rule follower... but what is it in my unconcious mind that leads me to want to totally self destruct from time to time...

Am very annoyed with myself... but adequately punished with an aching body, throbbing foot and the knowledge I'm gonna have to fess this up to the neurologist.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Which one is me?

I've had a rough couple of weeks, trying to sort through the debris of the aftermath of my black anniversary, the brief hospitalisation and then the slapdash (secret) application of a new diag ostic layer.

Ive sat down a few time to right a blog entry but have not seemed to be able to pull my thoughts together enough to write anything coherent.

But I thought I would just send a shout-out to the precious few people who read this blog, to say, yup, still here, treading water, but I haven't gone under.. so don't worry.

My therapy sessions have been (as usual) full of odd emotional twists and turns. On Monday, for the first 40 minutes of the session, I was 100% there, in the present, in the moment. We were talking about my therapist (D's) recent appearances in a nightmare that I have had consistently for many years. Its the first time anything about this nightmare has changed, and obviously it was kind of weird for her to pop up in my sub-concious. But I was able to talk about it, and my discomfort. We basically came to the conclusion that her presence in the dream was symbolic of her 'intrusion' into my inner life and that I had mixed feelings. One, hope that somebody could hear, understand and maybe help me figure out my messed up mind and Two, fear, because allowing any breaches of my armoured defenses has always gotten me hurt before, and I generally try to stick to the heads down, don't make any waves type approach. All of a sudden, in the last 10 minutes of the session, we must of hit a raw nerve, because "the voice", (the embodiment of all negative thoughts and actions I have) seemed to come and push this open, present and calm me, who had been in the room for the last 40 minutes to the back, and take over. Therapist said, youcould actually feel the oppression settle heavily in the room. Session ended badly.

Today, I went to therapy and once again, it was not authentic me who walked in the room, but "Game-face me". Everything is fine, very blase,somewhat aloof and slightly manic. Therapist picked up on it straight away. Was the result of having family come to stay... had to keep my game face on whilst they were here, and when you settle into that state it can be kind of hard to shake.

Even though these parts of me feel at times like discreet personalities, I know that they are just groupings of emotional states. The problem is, those emotional states become so overwhelming, I feel my authentic self be shunted off to the side. They are the sum of me, and yet not me at all.

Well, well done to anyone who can make sense of that hogwash... I'm off to try and sleep