Gosh I’m writing a lot lately, and it is pretty much all just my own brand of self-therapy. If you’re sticking with the blog throughout all this rambling then I sincerely thank you.
I got transitioned to CMHT two weeks ago and had my first meeting with new psychiatrist today (also a Dr P. Can’t replace MY Dr P from the old team!), and it was hard fucking work. There was a waiting room and everything – it all felt so formal and predetermined. As if one new person to deal with wasn’t enough he also had a psych student observing, plus my care co-ordinator sat in too.
We went through pretty much everything in about 45 minutes. Hard to condense around 13 years of history into that little time, but we tried! He wanted to know about the earliest indications of illness, what kind of things put me more at risk, and the things that have helped in the past when things have been tough. Open-ended questions galore. I do much better with structured talking than having to give free-form answers; when I’m left to talk I feel like I miss the point I was trying to make and that my responses aren’t communicating what I wanted them to.
Going forward, New Dr P is planning to speak to the personality disorders service to get me assess for psychological intervention. It’ll involve having an assessment and then being referred to either DBT or psychotherapy, and this can only be a good thing. I took away a sense that he was interested in helping me build skills to cope instead of reacting to every blip with a medication tweak – this makes me happy. From what he was saying, the smaller mood-swings are less due to the bipolar element and more down to poor coping skills; rejection and stress and confidence and so on affecting me.
Luke is coming with me to my appointment with my CC next Tuesday – I want them to meet because Luke is normally the first to notice things going awry so it’ll be an additional layer of safety net for them to meet and talk. It also means I’ll have my greatest advocate with me which will hopefully give me some extra confidence whilst I’m still getting used to a new person. And in the long-term, this should all work out for the best. Right?
My brain – although rebellious at times – works pretty damn well. I’m intelligent, I am articulate (generally; I admit to getting somewhat flustered on occasion!), and I am creative. My mind is sharp and all the sharper since the meds have been changed and moods have stabilised.
Two things need to happen for my life to feel ‘normal’. One is the thing I’ve been semi-ranting about over the last few days here; workload! But that’s in hand and I have a meeting with my supervisor tomorrow to discuss what value-add tasks I can take on. When that’s sorted I hope to be able to get through a work-day without stressing out about being idle. Without endless hours staring at a computer screen waiting for emails to filter in or the clock to tick round.
The other thing I hope will help me greatly is this referral to the Personality Disorders team. Much as I really don’t want another label/diagnosis, I can almost bring myself to acknowledge that this referral can only be a good thing. If I am being honest with myself, there are still things that aren’t-quite-right in the ol’ noggin. Things like my reaction to criticisms (sheer panic), my catastrophizing (frequent) and the need to be loved (constantly). They’re not unusual in their scope, but in their reach. They are extreme. They cause problems.
I need to learn to love my life; I want to know how to be content with what I’ve got. I know, intellectually, that I am lucky. I have a wonderful husband, a nice flat, great family and a good income. Maybe it’s because I didn’t do university; maybe because I’ve not gone off on wild backpacking adventures. Whatever the reason, I still feel this unease in my gut when I am on the treadmill of life. And I want to stop wanting more, more, more. I don’t know how that would come about but it needs to. I need it to.
Most of all, I need stimulation for my brain. I need more mind-food – my appetite appears to be insatiable.
The frustration is the worst thing about days like today. In all honesty, I am pushing myself further than I should and trying to achieve a goal that ultimately doesn’t really mean anything. Pushing myself to the limit because I don’t want to leave my colleague to cover my Friday afternoon jobs (report, report, repeat). A bit of reflection over the past three days highlighted a possible link between slow days at work (read: under-used, under-valued and generally b o r e d) and heightened mixed moods. Today goes against the grain; I’ve been a busy, busy woman playing the high-powered executive that my mask demands yet I am finding myself drifting into the muddy waters of mixed-mood.
Back to that frustration then. It’s hard to write eloquently about it because it is so confusing. It is the conflict between doing what I ‘should’ do and wanting more. I work so hard at just being a regular person who can do a regular job with regular hours. It is this kind of mood that leaves me yearning for an adventure, needing to rebel against the 9-5 existence and break free. I am sick of fighting with myself. You can’t let anyone down argues with screw the lot of them. And I honestly don’t know what to do about it. I know that it would be a lot easier to just allow myself a little slack in the reins; I keep them pulled tight out of a sense of obligation to society to fit in.
On my referral to the Personality Disorders team I had to answer a few questions about the things I wanted to achieve from talking therapies. I can’t remember my exact words but I wrote a lot about wanting to learn how to be satisfied with what I’ve got, about feeling trapped by my wonderful life. Writing this out now feels like a betrayal of my husband who I know will read this; once again I feel like admitting things is hurting him. There’s nothing in the world that makes me happier than being with him. So why this need to bust open the back door and invite the world for a party?
I’m pleased to be able to report that as of 12:30 today I’m back in the saddle; catching up on nearly a week’s absence has kept me busy enough that I’ve not really had time to think about Tweeting or Pressing until now. My CPN was very encouraging that I should come back and get some routine in my schedule. Part of the issue of the last few days has been being caught between not-coping-with-work and not-coping-alone-at-home.
This morning’s appointment threw a curve-ball at me. We chatted a bit about what’s been going on and ways to mitigate dangerous situations and then she said the team thinks I have a personality disorder going on in the soup I like to call my mind. They are referring me to a specialist team, who will do an assessment, and then from there I am likely to be offered talk-therapy; this is fab news really, but the idea of having another label kind of freaks me out too. I know it shouldn’t, but whoever decided to call them personality disorders needs a good spanking – your personality is a key part of your identity and saying there’s something wrong with it is a bit like being nut-punched in the mind.
Of course, being me, I’ve now been reading up on the various types of personality disorder (there are ten of them). I have known people with Borderline Personality Disorder and know how difficult a condition it is to live with for them, but I have never really identified with this disorder.
Here’s a super-brief rundown of the ten types:
- Paranoid PD: irrational suspicion and mistrust of people
- Schizoid PD: social detachment, apathy
- Schizotypal PD: social interactions are uncomfortable, unusual or eccentric beliefs.
- Antisocial PD: lack of empathy, grandiosity and manipulative behaviour
- Borderline PD: unstable relationships and self-harm is common
- Histrionic PD: attention-seeking behaviour, excessive emotions
- Narcissistic PD: grandiosity, need for admiration, lack of empathy.
- Avoidant PD: social inhibition and sensitivity to criticism
- Dependent PD: psychological need to be cared for
- Obsessive-compulsive PD: sticks to rules, perfectionism and control.
I am feeling a lot of anxiety towards Histrionic Personality Disorder; I know this is because I’ve been accused of attention-seeking in the past and I think I would feel like a fraud in every aspect of my life. It almost feels like that diagnosis would invalidate the last three years of ups and downs, and that makes me nervous.
All I can do is wait for the referral and see what comes of it. I am keen to access talk-therapy again as this was helpful the last time I did a course with a psychologist.