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Monthly Archives: February 2012

24 Hours of Someone with PTSD

For those that follow me on twitter, writing this is number 5 out of 10 on distraction technique.

This time yesterday I had pretty much woken up from my day of dozing after my EMDR session. I felt horrid when I got back in the morning and so I took some of my sleeping tablets and after sleeping on it, I felt like I needed to be a bit easier on myself and give it chance to work.

I tried to do something for me and so took a long bath to try to relax and get rid of some of the emotions that had been brought up by the earlier session. I then wrote a couple of blog posts whilst I had some concentration and spent the night on twitter. It was at this point that I began to feel my emotions coming back about my dad and so I took another lot of sleeping meds to knock me out (about 2am).

I woke up at 4.30am curled up on the floor at the side of bed screaming – yet another night terror. No matter how many of these I have, I never get used to the feeling of waking up and for few seconds not knowing where I am and adrenaline pumping round body!! I went and made myself a hot water bottle, went back to bed and just lay crying for the next hour or so.

I was scared of going back to sleep again so I just lay, no reading etc watching my room get lighter and lighter. I couldn’t get up, I had no want to so I just carried on lying there. I tried going on twitter but every time I tried catching up on tweets, I got frustrated because I had to re-read too many times, so I gave up on that as well.

I’m often asked (by cc and psychiatrist), if I am in bed all day what do I do? And to be honest the answer is I don’t know! Time goes by and I’m still lying there. If you can remember the times when you are driving along and before you know it you are at your destination but for the life of you can’t remember the journey – that’s the best way I can describe it. my journey is the time and when I look at it I have no idea how I got from previous time to this one.

This afternoon I got a text from my local car garage saying my MOT had cost £410 and that was it. Such a small thing which normally I would work out a way to deal with it (I don’t have that money at min due to lack of work), turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I was supposed to pick up medication today (I’m still on weekly scripts), but there is no way I can leave my bed at the minute and I’m not sure having tablets here is a good idea right now!

And that’s the past 24 hours, nothing majorly significant but a number of small issues that I have completely lost the coping ability for. So here I am, working through my distraction technique plan! Number 5 done and still feel the same!!

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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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First Real EMDR Session

So far all my therapy sessions have been the preparation for the actual processing of the memories. We have worked a lot on my timeline and the reason behind this became more apparent today.

This is a brief intro on what EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) is all about. Please bear in mind this is my explanation of it from my experience so far, not an official one. Whilst thinking of the specific memory, I was told to think about how it made me feel/think and rate it on scales. And then whilst thinking of that memory, follow my therapists fingers horizontally. After about 10 seconds of that, she would stop and ask if any other thoughts or feeling came up. I never actually made it to the processing part and so can’t comment on that part.

Going back to my timeline, my therapist explained that there was no point starting with recent traumas when I had earlier issues as this could potentially block the process. And also wanted to start on something not that bad to get in to the swing of how it all works.

One of my earliest memories was from about aged 6 when my mum and dad had divorced (he was violent and had numerous affairs). Me, my mum and my brother were in our new home when he came banging on the door. My mum immediately moved us in to the back room which had a lock on it (don’t know why there was a lock!!) and called the police. In the meantime my dad had kicked the front door in and was having a good go at the inside one that we were behind. Then the next thing I remember was the police being there and telling my brother and I to go to the park around the corner. As we set off I remember seeing my dad being put in to a police car. So ask you can see it’s not a great memory but I wouldn’t say it was life changing!

And then we began the EMDR, I told her I felt scared in the memory and we worked on that. After one round of finger following I didn’t feel any different. So we did it again, concentrating on the feeling of scared. And then it all unravelled. I had the thought what did I do wrong, I felt hatred and also the thought of why doesn’t he love me? By this time I was in tears and asked to stop.

The problem is, my relationship with my dad is pretty much non-existent but over the years has caused me a lot of issues (based on the how can someone who is supposed to love me unconditionally, hate me so much!). However, I had decided at Christmas that I wanted him out of my life and why was I so bothered what he thought of me. And so to bring up all these emotions about him at a time when I am really struggling with all other stuff has really messed my head up!!

Everyone has told me to expect to feel worse before better with therapy and I thought this would be true when I spoke about (or using whatever therapy) it all. However, I didn’t expect it so soon and over a minor memory when I was 6. If we use that as a start point, I have a lot of traumas in my life and I don’t think I want to go in to them all like this.

 

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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More Support

In a previous post I mentioned how I had struggled with leaving the routine environment of being detained in a psychiatric ward. In the 2 weeks after being discharged, I had 2 therapy sessions and 1 visit from my care co-ordinator (which was after 5 days of coming out).I felt alone and unsupported.

I am the type of person that if something is on my mind, I will tell the person involved and so when I had my 2nd visit from my care co-ordinator (cc), that’s exactly what I did!!

I told her that I was pissed off with her (thankfully we have the kind of relationship where this is ok for me to say). I explained in her last visit I said how much I was struggling after being discharged and that was me asking for help. And the fact at the end of the session she made an appointment for 10 days later was what had riled me. We spoke about it for a while, about the fact she wasn’t able to fit another visit in that week because of her schedule. I totally understood this and I wasn’t asking for another visit, just a phone call – it didn’t even have to be from her, a duty worker would have done. Just someone who I could reach out to in what for me has been one of the hardest times of this whole illness!

I’m really not one to hold a grudge, I’d said my piece, she had said hers and so we could both move on. This was last Thursday and we arranged for her (or someone else) to call on Monday to see if I was ok.

However, on the Friday, for some reason I got an overwhelming need to be hurt. It took a lot for me to do but I eventually managed to call my cc. We spoke about why I might feel this way and I realised that if I was in enough physical pain, then my mind would be on that and not the mental pain I was in. Once I understood this, I felt a bit better and promised her I would make it through the weekend without going ahead with the ‘hurt me’ plans I had thought of (nothing to do with suicide!!)

Yesterday, my cc called as promised and during our conversation she asked if I could think of anything that she could do to support me more. I honestly couldn’t think of anything she could do in the confines of the system. And that’s where I was wrong when I told my cc I was pissed off with her. I think it should have been the system I was angry at – not her!!

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Thoughts of a Suicidal Person

Before I start writing the main part of this post, let me just say I am not planning on killing myself. I am feeling suicidal and there is a difference between that and actually doing it. I would never say on the internet if I was going to do it, just like I’m never able to tell anyone in real life that I am feeling this way for fear of going back to hospital!!

This last week, I have really noticed my mood taking a drastic turn for the worse. I thought that when I was detained, that this was it, I had hit the lowest point possible. But I was wrong! And this is where I think suicide is the answer. Everytime I think ‘right this is it, I’m at rock bottom’, it really isn’t and I just can’t cope with going in to anymore of a darker, lonelier place than I currently am. And even if I could see a way out, I have zero motivation to do anything about it.

Suicide is still quite a taboo subject and something not many people understand or possibly want to. The two main things I’ve heard said to others are ‘That’s such a selfish thing to do’ and ‘Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem’. So let me answer those in turn.

Anyone who truly understands mental health would not come out with that statement. I can try to understand where they are coming from when they say that leaving behind people who love them is a selfish act, however, flipping it on its head, is it not therefore selfish to ask someone to live for the sake of others? I know I have family, but I know I am a burden and actually they would be a lot better off if I wasn’t here. In terms of friends, I stopped going to football training (which is where majority of my friends were) last year and not even my manager or assistant manager (who I thought were good friends), called to ask if I was ok and why I had stopped. I haven’t heard from them in about 5 or 6 months, so they really wouldn’t miss me if I wasn’t here as they haven’t actually missed me when I have been here!!

The second statement ‘Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem’ makes a huge assumption that it is temporary. I know I have mentioned diagnosis etc before but to keep it all in one post; I have C-PTSD, major depression and bad anxiety issues (they are my care co-ordinator’s words, not mine). Using PTSD as an example they say that in its chronic phase, that it is treatable but not curable. Do I really want to learn to live with all that is going on in my head? I know flashbacks can diminish over time and you can learn coping strategies, but is that really any quality of life that I want to be left with? In my eyes that is not a temporary problem!

Again as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I had a number of goals and dreams before my main trauma. I will never be that person again, I am expected to build a different me – well what if I don’t want to? What if I want to see what the next life brings me (if there is another life – but that’s a whole other topic!!), what is so wrong with me saying, ‘I’ve had enough and it’s my time?’

That brings me on to something I watched yesterday (courtesy of @Sectioned_ which can be seen here http://bit.ly/zx8lNs and is about a woman, who happens to be a police officer, and how she finds a reason to live when she is feeling suicidal). In the film, she mentions the fact that she believed it just wasn’t her time and I too am a big believer in that. That if something isn’t meant to happen, then it won’t. And so using that theory, if I attempted suicide today and it wasn’t meant to be, something would happen to prevent this. And if I was successful then it was my time anyway.

This post feels a bit all over the place, no real structure to it but I am trying to write my thoughts as they come out but I believe the things I talk about are rational. And so how can I suddenly be known as irrational just because I mention death? Who in society makes suicide unacceptable? Is it just our culture or is suicide looked down upon in other societies too (I know it isn’t but I’m not going to go in to that here!).

It is openly said we don’t know how the brain works properly and only 50 years ago were procedures like the lobotomy taking place. How do we know that in another 50 years, people won’t look back and say, ‘can you believe they made them live through that and if they didn’t want to carry on, they were put in a locked ward!’ I know, it sounds ludicrous, but so does someone making me stay alive when I don’t want to!!!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Quick post

When you finally figure a route out that means no more battling or hurt, then that has to be the right one doesn’t it?!?

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Therapy & Support

Since being discharged after being detained under section 2, I’ve had quite a lot of trouble settling back in to my own environment.

Whether I liked it or not, being on a locked ward makes you adhere to a routine and even though I received little support, I knew if I really wanted to speak to someone they were there (especially during the night).

There is a complete contrast between that environment to my own place (where I live alone). I had convinced myself in hospital that I’d get out and everything would be different and I’d go on to achieve all manner of goals. What I didn’t factor in, is that the only thing that would make all that happen is me and me changing my thinking. I know it sounds simple!!! But in order for me to make changes I need help.

Since being discharged on the Wednesday, my care coordinator (cc) had to see me within 7 days and so came out on Monday. Normally my session with my cc is towards the end of the week. This is because I have therapy on Wednesdays and so we work it so I have support after therapy in case anything has come up that is hard for me. But because of the legal requirement for her to see me within 7 days it means in the 2 weeks since discharge I would have had 2 therapy sessions and only one visit from her.

How has this inflexibility helped me? Well, it hasn’t! Fortunately in therapy so far (I’m relatively new to it), I have managed to be very clinical as we have been working on my timeline and so I’ve not needed any real support after the sessions. This week however, I got extremely emotional (first session since being discharged) and left me feeling in a very dark place. And because of the way the system works, I’ve had no support and the next person I’m seeing from the services is my therapist again next Wednesday.

I guess the point of this post is to say how extremely lonely this whole experience has left me (from a professional stance!). This really isn’t working for me but not sure of the alternatives. All I want is to get better, is it too much to ask that the process that’s supposed to help me doesn’t actually hinder me?

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Experience of A Psychiatric Ward

I’ve not been able to write about this so far as I feel I have been re-traumatised in a number of ways during my stay in the psychiatric ward. But now, I am going to try and write about my experiences and hope it is therapeutic for me. I am probably going to go over things I’ve mentioned before but I just want to write it all in one place.

When I arrived on the ward, I was terrified. My care co-ordinator (cc) who also happens to be an AMHP met me out of the ambulance and took me in. They showed me to my room and only when my cc said that I’m really uneasy around men, did they move me to another one which was in a female only area of the ward. But all amenities were in the mixed bits; i.e. the dining room/visiting room, lounge (where the tv was), all information boards and the nurses’ station.

That first night was a terrible one; I was wide awake and didn’t get any sleep at all. I just kept thinking about how on earth I’d ended up here in my life. I felt angry that I hadn’t coped with my emotions better, but I was convinced that I’d see the consultant in ward rounds the next day and she would let me go home. Or at the worst, would be there for 2 days.

I spent the night crying and trying to get used to a flashlight being shone in to my room every 15 mins (and over the following 2 weeks, if by chance my eyes weren’t visible, then they would come in the room which would invariably wake me up!!)

So my first day I waited all day until it was my turn for ward rounds. This is basically where you go in to a room with a consultant psychiatrist, the nurse in charge on that shift and you are allowed an advocate as well. Luckily I had the same psychiatrist as the one I had been seeing in the community so she knew me and how I normally am. Unfortunately, she was also the one who came out and sectioned me and so she told me there was no chance I would be going home so soon. That the reason she felt it would be a good idea was to try and break come of the cycles that I had found myself in and that would take a number of days.

I went back to my room and carried on being checked upon every 15 mins but no one ever told me any info on what the routine of the ward was. I knew there were set times for the meals but wasn’t sure when they were and to be honest I still felt sick and didn’t want anything to eat. The main reason behind this was the whole mixed ward thing. I was so anxious about hearing males shouting throughout the day and night (obviously having their own issues) and hearing the heavy handedness of the staff dealing with them and the different sections of the ward going on lockdown. This was the main reason I wasn’t leaving my room and why I didn’t eat or drink for 3 days.

It was on day 3 that I managed to get to speak to a nurse who explained that on every shift handover, my notes were: no food or drink, isolating herself, low in mood and not engaging with staff or other patients. She told me that if I stayed like this then I wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon. I explained that I thought I was doing everything they asked by taking my medication when they called me. I didn’t realise that I had to ‘engage’ with staff and patients – I didn’t want to speak with other patients, I was too anxious and couldn’t be bothered. But my other point was that I had to work. It had been arranged that I could use my laptop and internet in my room and as I had self assessment deadlines to complete and as I have my own business I made it known that the worst thing for me was to lose clients as I would have nothing to go out to.

When I explained this to the nurse she said I had to start coming out for meals and that I could take my work up to the dining room (but only use internet in my room) and that would show I was making an effort. So that night when I couldn’t sleep and one of the staff asked if I wanted to sit with them for a while, I said yes and sat talking to them. I realised that this was their game and I had to abide by their rules to get out as quickly as possible. And so over the weekend, I sat and worked in the dining room and only going back to my room to connect to the internet. I also had lunch and dinner (never breakfast) every day – I waited until the last minute so the dining room was mainly empty. I cannot say how much this whole process was difficult for me; it took every bit of courage I had to go to that dining room every time. I never spoke to anyone, I didn’t want to but at least I was showing that I was trying.

On the Monday (so nearly a week from when I was admitted), my cc came to see me. I have never been so grateful to see a friendly but professional face. We were allowed to speak in my room and I explained that over the weekend I had looked at my goals for the future and had written them down including smaller steps to achieve them. She said she could see a difference in me and that she believed another few days would do me good. I explained that I felt I had accomplished quite a lot and its usefulness had peaked and felt I should go home. She told me she would speak to the psychiatrist and give her opinion but ultimately it was up to them to decide the best way forward for me. I was quite hopeful that at the next ward round, I would be discharged.

On the Tuesday evening, I was in the dining room doing some work when the shift changed and the nurse in charge told me I couldn’t use my laptop in communal areas, only in my room. I explained what I was told about isolating myself because I had to work and essentially she said tough it was her shift and her rules! The thing that annoyed me is that an hour later I went up for a break from my work (and thought I better show willing), and there was 4 people round 1 table with music blaring out as they swapped tunes between their phones. And on another table there were 2 guys who had a laptop and a keyboard trying to make some music. So why on earth were they allowed theirs and me, who was sat quietly in a corner, not allowed mine. I was so angry!

Anyway, ward rounds came around again and I was quite excited as I thought I would be discharged – er that would be a no then!! I was told I had to prove I could keep myself safe in small bits of time and so I was given ground leave (which meant I was allowed out of the ward but not off the hospital grounds). I had to gradually increase it every day and work up to having my first overnight leave on Sunday.

I don’t think it’s important to talk about those times out – the overwhelming feeling was anxiety and panic attacks but I kept going because I had to show them that I could do it.

On Friday I became ill with my chest being tight. I have asthma but I haven’t had to use a spray for a long time and so I didn’t have one with me. On Friday evening I asked if I could get one prescribed – I was wheezing and coughing and struggling to get that big breath. I was awake all night until at 5am they gave me a tablet that knocked me out. When I woke at 8am, I asked again for an asthma spray and was told they still didn’t have one. I asked if I could have access to a peak flow meter so I could check my levels to see how things really were, but I was told they didn’t have one of those either.

By Saturday evening, one of the nurses said I sounded really ill and was I ok? I explained about my asthma and me asking a number of times to no avail. She promised she would sort it and an hour later I had my spray.

Also on that Saturday night, I was taken to one side by another nurse who introduced themselves as my key nurse. Bear in mind I had been in for 12 nights by this point. He said that he had been off for 3 weeks (why on earth was I allocated to someone who was on leave!!) and we just had to go through some paperwork. In some ways it did explain why I had slipped through the net on so many things (e.g. not being called for my medication 2 nights on the run!!!).

So the paperwork turned out to be my care plan which someone who had never met me had written and had things on there that made no sense at all. It read like a template text where my name had just been added. I asked for certain things to be taken out and my key nurse (who was also male, even thought they knew what I am like around males!!) asked if there was anything else I wanted adding. I explained that the next day I was going on overnight leave and if that went well then I would get 2 nights leave before being discharged and so there really wasn’t any point adding anything at that stage. Another thing that was a complete joke then (are you seeing a pattern!!)

So Sunday arrived and I left for the day/night and was excited to be leaving the ward and going back home. Unfortunately, I was still ill with my asthma and so on the Monday morning I went to my GP and he said it had flared up and he prescribed me steroids. However, he said that the side effects were increased anxiety and disturbed sleep and so asked that they were approved by the doctor on the ward to make sure they knew about it. So I went back to the ward a lot earlier than I had planned and found all my stuff had been packed up and my room given to another one of the women. I took this as a positive as it meant they didn’t think I would need it again!! I spoke to an SHO who explained that I had to look out for increased anxiety and let them know if the steroids made me worse. Luckily, they didn’t!!

On the Wednesday I went back to the ward for what I hoped to be my final ward round. I also had a therapy session on the ward at 2.30pm. I was told the ward rounds would be in the morning and so I arrived in plenty of time. Obviously I didn’t have a room and so I had to sit in the lounge (not a good start!!). It reached 12pm and I asked someone when it was likely my ward round would be as I was told it was the morning. They went to find out and told me that the SHO was in the ward next door and would be over soon. Around came 2.20pm and my therapist turned up and I was really angry by this point (I think it was my anxiety from being in the lounge and having no escape that had got too much for me). I explained everything to her and said I wasn’t in the place to do anything because I was too het up. Instead she went to find out what was happening for me and was told the SHO would be over soon (like the 2 hours ago soon I had been told?!?!)

Eventually at 4pm, the SHO came over and said she was sorry, there had been a mis-communication and as I was the only one on this ward with my consultant I had been overlooked (I really shouldn’t have been surprised). The 5 minute chat went ok and she agreed to discharge me. I just had to wait for my medication and then I could go home. So back I went to the lounge and waited, and waited!!

After asking numerous times, I finally lost it. It was now 6pm and I was fed up. I told the nurse that they had 10 minutes to sort my medication out, and after that I was leaving with or without it (didn’t really think it through because I was in a locked ward!!). They actually took me seriously and went on a hunt for my medication – the pharmacy said it had been sent but they couldn’t find it and even checked the ward next door and it wasn’t there. Finally they located it – still at the pharmacy and guess what, the pharmacy had now shut for the night!!! They ended up giving me medication from the ward stock and would replenish it the next day.

And that was me, angry but a free woman!!

And that was generally my journey through the 2 weeks of being on a section 2. In more general terms, there are a number of things I noticed that really shouldn’t be experienced by anyone, never mind someone who is in a bad place with my history.

I know the NICE guidelines say there shouldn’t be any mixed wards and I truly agree with this. I believe my time would have been a lot different if I didn’t have to deal with the whole mixed ward thing. The hospital I was in has two acute wards, so why can’t one be female and one male instead of 2 mixed ones?

It became apparent very early on that those who shout loudest get the most attention. There were times when 1 man had 6 members of staff following him around ‘just in case’ he kicked off again. It must be just as frustrating for those staff as well but when things like my care plan being 12 days late and them forgetting my medication 2 nights in a row, it just shows that if you put your head down and get on with things, you get ignored.

Also things became normal in that 2 week period that really shouldn’t be. Things like hearing people screaming not to be injected and the sound of all the internal doors being shut and locked. Also hearing people sobbing (including myself) at all times of day and night and also shouting throughout the ward. These are things that are still with me now – pathetic isn’t it!!

The other thing that I noticed was that no one ever explained the way things work e.g. what happens at meal times, the fact you have to fill a menu in for the following day. The times you are allowed to shower, just general things but ones you are left to feel about to learn. These might seem like small things but when you are in a place because of mental illness, these small things are actually huge!!

I know a lot of this post has been about what went wrong in there (and I have left a lot out) but there were also some good things. The night staff always had a lot more time and so I found that period the best for me as I could talk to them and sometimes sat with them for a while.

I have no doubt the other staff were just extremely busy and although it felt very personal when ignored all the time, that really wasn’t their intention. They obviously work in that role because they have some kind of caring side to them, but I guess the paperwork etc meant they couldn’t show this very often.

As I mentioned in the original post about being detained, I never blamed my cc or psychiatrist for sectioning me. For them to do it, they believed that at that point it was the best place for me. They are the ones with the experience and I can’t argue with that. All I do know is keeping me in there for 2 weeks did more harm than good and now I am left dealing with another uphill battle!

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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