Adventures with Anxiety

One of the most difficult things to deal with is a budding anxiety attack whilst in the office. Today I find myself sitting at my desk doing just that. Trying to resist the need to go chain-smoke nicotine into my system; if I went for a smoke it would help, until I got back to my desk and started fretting that people would notice that I’ve been away and wonder just how many breaks I’ve taken. I’ve even started timing my breaks to make sure a) I’m not taking too much time away and b) I’ve got some kind of evidence should the point be raised regarding breaks. It’s happened before; I am not getting caught in that situation again.

The anxiety absolutely sucks. I feel like I’m running fast – too fast – and wondering constantly if I’m messing things up; surely if I get the deck cleared by 2pm I’m doing something wrong, says my worried brain. But things have always been like this at work. I’ve always been this person who gets on with things and winds up facing down a long afternoon of slow hours because all the work is up-to-date. I’m new here, so maybe I’m missing something, but I’ve tried asking a few people what happens in the afternoons and haven’t had much by way of a definitive answer. It’s not like I’m kicking back and relaxing from here on in; being who I am I’ve been obsessively refreshing the work queue and picking off the tasks as they appear. But it feels repetitive and endless – my brain is barely engaged with the task beyond not making mistakes. It’s super dissatisfying.

And the long afternoon feeds the anxiety, which in turn feeds the drawn out hours ahead of me today. Really what I want to do is head home, dive under a duvet and try to relax. If I was at home I’d be able to paint, or do some colouring, or watch silly television till the husband gets home. This is where I have a real issue with the team at CMHRS who tell me that I should be using my coping skills to get through these anxious times; that’s all well and good for when I’m not in a situation where I can’t actually use anything beyond chain-smoking (and that’s still not really an option) and writing. Having said that, it’s not like many anxiety meds seem to help me – not that I’ve tried them all. But benzos don’t work; diazepam, temazepam and lorazepam have all failed to touch the anxiety when it hits hard. And developing coping skills is hard when all their offerings of therapy involve a group I can’t make because I’m working when they meet.

I’m really actually quite annoyed with the whole therapy situation too. There’s nothing I want more than to get to grips with the behavioural aspects of these disorders I have been labelled with and beat down the negative effects they have on my life. It would be wonderful to be able to learn to cope with things, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. I am so proud of myself for continuing to work – I think more people with mental illness should be encouraged to do so – but it does sometimes feel like CMHRS assume that everyone with diagnoses is out of a job and there’s no provision to deal with people like me who would ideally need out of hours appointments. The next time I see my care coordinator is May, and I’ve wanted to see my psychiatrist for a while to discuss changing my anti-psychotic (because I can’t seem to shift the weight, and olanzapine is notorious for that issue). There have been a few occasions lately where I really have missed my old care team; where I’ve wanted to be able to pick up the phone and call someone I’m comfortable with who can hear me out and help me calm down. I simply don’t feel able to do that with the current CMHRS set-up.

I feel like I should round this off with some positives but I’m struggling to see the light today. So I’ll leave things as they are, and hopefully have a cheerier post for next time.

Adventures with Anxiety

This is Sunday

Oh holy hell, what a weird place to be. The mental inner-dialogue is speaking a language made up almost entirely of expletives right now, because I am hypo and it feels like the worst thing in the world. Hypo is the worst thing. Or maybe I’m using absolutes simply because I am in that kind of mood. Either way, I want this mood to sod off and leave me alone.

The problem with being hypo is that it’s a kind of no-man’s land between ‘normal’ (yes please) and full on mania (no thanks). If I was in normal mood territory everything would be fine. If I was manic, I’d likely be acting out but at least I wouldn’t care about the consequences. Instead I’m in the middle, where all I really want is to head to the pub and start sinking pints, or jump on a train somewhere for a while… This mood where I want to do all these things my brain thinks I need, but I’m still ‘me’ enough to know that I shouldn’t misbehave. I hate this.

So, the only good solution I have to these moods is to simply sit on my hands and try to ignore the urges, the need to cut loose and let my hair down. I have to remember that I’m still working on living a normal life, with a normal job and that normalcy is a good thing. It is a good thing.

It is a good thing.

This is Sunday

The NHS Service

Goodness, it’s been a fair bit of time since my last post! If anyone actually still bothers to come by, I suppose an update is overdue… #inwhichIrantaboutNHSservicesbutgenerallythingsaregoingwell

It has been a fair while since I saw anyone from CMHRS. Things got a little confusing; I finally got my psychotherapy referral through, but then got put into an emotional coping skills group pending my referral into PD STEPPS group. Eh, group is not a setting I find therapeutic! I went to the first emotional coping skills session and never said a word. It wasn’t like an ‘air your issues’ forum, more ‘let’s go through skills together’ workshop. The thing is, I know the skills. I do! I’m rubbish at practicing them, and I find very few work for me. I also felt totally railroaded by the bigger personalities in there. But – being who I am – I kind of chickened out of calling the psychology worker and letting her know. I did try to call to tell her I wouldn’t be attending STEPPS group though; I’d have loved to give it a try but with starting the new job I could hardly be away from the office for a whole morning every week.

Anyway, that’s the story with therapy. For now, it looks like I’m going to have to go back to paying for one-on-one sessions privately; kind of defeats the point of the NHS services. The other problem I’ve had with CMHRS lately is their working hours. In this job I work 9 to 5:30, with the odd week of late shifts here and there. Of course, CMHRS close at 5pm. Meaning getting in touch with my care coordinator is really quite tricky; especially when I’m not supposed to text or email him. I broke the no emailing rule to at least schedule an appointment. But, when I have a day like the other day, where I was spinning with anxiety and dissociating at work, I really could’ve used a friendly helper on the other end of a text message. I really miss K and Doc P from EIiP, I knew I could rely on them to be understanding and helpful if I needed them.

Hubs and I have been discussing asking to switch care coordinator actually; as hubs puts it, P could use his time better on another service user. I don’t feel able to approach P with issues, and – being honest here – I need a gentler style. I think I need someone who can empathise with what I’m saying; someone I feel able to call up and ask for help with whatever issue. This last year, I’ve hardly made contact; though I have wanted to on a few occasions.

TL;DR: There’s a lot of work still to do, but I think things are on the right track.

The NHS Service