Why is it so hard to talk about?

Why is it so hard to talk about the “difficult things”?

I can write about them sometimes. I can plan what I’m going to say, I have the words in my mind but they don’t come to my lips. I can’t say them.

I’ve been having a lot of nightmares recently. Screaming in my sleep again while Footballer was staying. A week or two ago, S said I kept asking where I was, saying I want to be at home (in my sleep.)

A lot of the time I don’t remember the nightmares. Sometimes I wake up scared and don’t know why. Sometimes I just know I had a nightmare, and sometimes they are so vivid. I feel like I’m being haunted by these images. But it’s all too hard to talk about, the words just don’t come out.

The nightmares that week involved the ex. Raping me. And it all felt so vivid.

I was really really scared and anxious for days. I started writing this post not long after the nightmares but I couldn’t find the words time. I eventually managed to tell S that the nightmare involved the ex “making me do stuff.” But that’s as much as I could say, and even that took a long time.

So why can’t I say these difficult things? Like when I’m feeling suicidal, I can’t tell anyone, I just say “I feel low” or “I feel shit.” When in my head I’m screaming “I just want to die!” And when I’m talking about the ex, I can never explain what it was like. I can say he wasn’t nice to me, or that he treated me badly but it’s difficult for me to say more… it’s like I’m ashamed that I let it happen… How messed up is that? He treats me horribly and abuses me, and I’m the one that feels guilty and ashamed?

I try to tell S these difficult things sometimes. Often I just can’t say it, and he doesn’t understand why I’m crying or on edge or scared in the night. Sometimes I end up texting things because I couldn’t say it on the phone. The words stick in my throat and it’s like someone presses mute and I can’t speak anymore.

But I don’t want to be muted.

I have depression and anxiety and it’s hard. Most of the time I don’t look like anything is wrong with me but there is. I am very jumpy and I get scared and upset easily. And it’s not my fault. It is an illness and I don’t want to feel ashamed anymore. These things are just labels and they don’t make me who I am, but they do affect who I am and sometimes I can’t deal with everything that a “normal” person can. I think more needs to be done to raise awareness about mental illness because people don’t understand it – they can’t see it so they think it’s not there.

Since I’ve been writing this blog I have come across a lot of mental health bloggers, all telling their different stories. Sometimes they are difficult to read because people have suffered so greatly, but they are all strong people and we all have things in common so we can support one another. And all of this makes me even more sure that I want to work in mental health. I want to make a difference.

Disclosing mental illnesses

Despite the fact that now it is a lot more “acceptable” to talk about mental illness, there is still a stigma. Even though there are laws to say that employers can’t use your mental illnesses as a reason not to give you a job etc., it doesn’t mean that isn’t sometimes a reason (it could even happen implicitly.)

I have been quite open about my issues… when I was first diagnosed, I told my work. At uni, I told my tutor, my departments etc. Close friends know (at least part of) what is going on/has happened. Most of these people don’t know the full story but they know I suffer from depression and anxiety.

I am off to Germany in 2 weeks, to a place where no one knows anything about me.

They don’t know that I have depression or anxiety, they don’t know any of it at all. And now I have to decide who needs to know and who doesn’t.

For example, I’m staying with a family for at least the first month… do they need to know? At first I thought not. And then I realised I probably should warn them about me screaming in the night sometimes (as it has happened a few times recently.) But how would I explain that? 

And what about the school I’m going to be working in? Or the university I’ll be enrolling at? Or the friends I make there?

Who needs to know? Or maybe the better question is, who do I want to know?

I would love to not tell any of them, and for everything to run smoothly, without my depression and anxiety affecting me in a major way… but is that realistic? Probably not.

I know that if I start struggling I need to reach out for help and support straight away, not wait until I literally have had enough and have booked myself on the next flight home. But what if I tell them and they judge me? What if I tell them and then I’m fine – I’ll look like I’m lying. What if I don’t tell them and then I need help?

Too many questions. And I don’t know the right answer to any of them. I don’t know how understanding/supportive they would/will be. I just don’t know!

It can happen to anyone

**Trigger warning – suicide**

Mental illness can spring at any time, it can get anyone.

Recently, Stephen Fry, who has bipolar disorder, has spoken about a suicide attempt in 2012. Here is the link to the video where he speak about it.  He explains that there is no “why”, no reason, and just because someone “has it all” doesn’t mean they can’t be suicidal. As the president of Mind charity, I think it was really brave and good of him to speak out about this. Being suicidal is something that happens to a lot of people. There is not generally much awareness about this or mental illness more generally, and that does need to change. Frankie Sandford (a member of the band The Saturdays) is another celebrity affected by mental illness, here in the form of depression. This year she has become an ambassador for Mind, and earlier in the year her story appeared in some of the magazines (eg Cosmo, Glamour) to raise awareness of depression and how it is an illness like any other.

It feels very strange that a few years ago I didn’t know anything about mental illness/depression specifically, and yet in the last 5 years, my mum, myself, my best friend and a lot of other people I know have been affected by it. I used to live in a world where (I thought) everyone was pretty happy, strange how much that has changed in the last 5 years or so. And the more I know about it, the more I think that I probably have had some form of mild depression for quite a few years, probably at least from the age of 14, and based on a couple of memories, maybe even in primary school.

I got a text from my best friend (Artist) saying she’s going to drop out of uni because she’s been really depressed for months. I feel like the worst friend ever, I had no idea. She told me uni was much better this year and it seemed like she was happy. I should’ve seen it, I should’ve been there for her. I’m pretty shocked to be honest. She’s one of the ones who I always thought, do you know what, if I was as happy as her I’d be living the good life. She is always so sociable and seems happy, confident too. But this is a stark reminder that it can happen to anyone, anytime.

I feel really bad, I wish I’d been there for her more. I feel like such a bad friend. We are at opposite ends of the country when we are at uni, me in the North and her in Cornwall. It is difficult to stay in touch properly, but this really made me think… Don’t forget your friends, they might need you.

 

Ele friends

Some people might know TheElephant InTheRoom on facebook, but I thought it might be of interest to people to know that a website has now been launched called Ele Friends, which is an online community where people can support each other with mental illness/who are struggling. 

Of course the fact that it is an elephant makes me think it is a great idea automatically, but it seems like a really good idea to have a place where people can speak their mind and be supported. 

There are 3 buttons as responses to posts: A thumbs up – I like this, A heart – Thinking of you and An ear – I hear you. I think these are a great idea too! And of course you can comment too! It’s kind of like facebook, but a bit friendlier!

I think it’s a really good idea!  So why not pop over to Elefriends and give it a try? What do you think?

 

CBT – Week 4

Today was another hour spent mostly crying.

We talked too of course.

Today we started looking at trauma memories from my relationship with the ex. It was hard, and scary thinking about it all again, but hopefully in the long run this will be helpful.

I used my safe space and grounding techniques to calm me down, and A made sure I was back in the room and ok before I left.

For homework I’ve got to write down as much as I can remember about a certain memory. It is a horrible, triggering memory. I think it’s the worst one; the one that haunts me most. I thought I was going to die.

I’ll probably write a post on that memory when I write it for my “homework”.

No session next week – mixed feelings about that. On one hand it’s a shame because I want to get on with this so it will help asap! On the other hand, maybe it’s good not to take it too fast, and at least I will get a lie in next Monday for once!

On the next session we will look at retelling and rescripting the memory.

I hope that this will help, and maybe one day soon I might be able to feel safe.

Today we also talked about the last week. I told her about Saturday night, and how I’ve been feeling really low this week. I also explained how irritable and angry I am. Everything winds me up. Everything makes me angry. It’s not fair – life is not fair. It makes me angry when I see people complaining when they have nothing to complain about. It makes me angry when my housemate can’t be bothered to go to uni, puts no effort in, and then comes out with good grades. I wonder what most people would do if they felt like I do. Then they would understand, what an effort it is for me to do the everyday things that they can’t be bothered to do. Or maybe all of this is just an excuse, and I’m just lazy?

6th time lucky?

I went to see my GP today. We talked about what has been going on – the screaming, feeling detached, no concentration etc.

We decided to try another medication. I’m a little unsure on this – on one hand, I’ve tried 5, why would a 6th medication make a difference? But on the other hand, it’s probably worth a try! Also, my GP said this one has been recommended for me by the psychiatrist, so if I don’t try it now, that is what he is likely to suggest when I finally have my appointment with him (at the end of February) so I may as well try it now!

The new one is called Lofepramine, which is an older type of antidepressant apparently. It will take 3 – 4 weeks to get into my system… so we will see! Has anyone tried this one?

Also I went to see the disability service at my uni today, about travel to uni from CBT (by getting the bus I am late) and possibly extra time in exams. The lady was really nice. She gave me a form to fill in to apply for disabled students allowance, and says I need to get a letter from my doctor, and then they can sort out extra time in exams, and I can do my summer exams in a smaller room (which hopefully equals less anxiety!)

This is good news! Although I will have to do a 2 hour assessment so they can see what I need and how they can help! The other annoying thing is that I have to pay for a letter from the doctor… Why do we have to pay for something which proves our own medical history?! Apparently they are around £30… so not even cheap!

So today I am feeling a little bit hopeful for the future – new medication to start tomorrow, and probably extra time in exams which might help me!

But on the other hand I’m feeling really low. The hopefulness is very small, compared to the feeling of emptiness and being really fed up. What I really want to do is hide in my room for a few days, with no responsibilities, and just rest. But no, can’t do that – life gets in the way! I am hoping to have a restful weekend though!

This morning I had a lecture at 9am, I spent a good hour arguing with myself, telling myself to get out of bed. I did it eventually, and made it to the lecture only a couple of minutes late.

This is a daily routine. Sometimes I win, sometimes the depression wins. But I am trying. My attendance isn’t perfect, but it’s not bad considering everything.

Tomorrow is another 9am, this time it’s a German seminar… can’t even sleep my way through one of those!

After that I have agreed to go to the gym with my housemate. It will be horrible, but I know it’s good for me, and afterwards hopefully I’ll feel a little better!

Now I’m off to do some german grammar exercises, then bed, and hopefully a decent night’s sleep!

Hope all my bloggy friends are doing ok! 🙂

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

Blog for Mental Health 2013

Image

I was pledged by Ruby for “Blog for Mental Health 2013”. You can see her post about it here. I think this is an amazing idea, and so I make my pledge:

I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project.  I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others.  By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health.  I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

My Mental Health

First of all, everyone has mental health, whether it’s good or bad!

I am currently fighting depression and anxiety (and possibly post traumatic stress disorder). A number of events seem to have led me to where I am today, including a horrible relationship with the ex. I have tried 5 different antidepressants and none of them have helped at all, so I have just come off the 5th one, and am no longer on any antidepressant medication (for now at least). I have started CBT therapy, and am writing about it on my blog.

Although depression, anxiety etc are horrible things to deal with, they have also helped me discover an amazing blogging community. One day I saw The Depressed Moose’s blog on Mind, and read his blog, and that was the day I decided that I would start a blog. Now, several months later, I am very happy to say that I have “met” a lot of lovely, strong and amazing people here. We all have our difficulties, we all struggle sometimes, but we pull together and look after one another. If it wasn’t for my own mental illnesses, I wouldn’t be here on WordPress.

Although things have been far from great over the last year and a half, I am glad to say that I am no longer in touch with the ex, and am struggling on through. I am not going to let him, or depression stop me from living the life I should be living. Sometimes it’s hard to remember all your hopes and dreams when you are feeling so low, but I know we all have to keep on fighting, and one day it will get better.

So what I’m saying really is that yes I suffer from mental illnesses, but I am still me.

I’m not the same me that I used to be, but that’s ok. Different things shape our lives, and eventually I will be stronger for going through this pain.

My pledges

I would like to pledge 5 others to blog about mental health and help other people in doing so (which these people already do!) I have chosen some of the blogs that I have been following for the longest, who are always helping other people here.

Garry, of The Depressed Moose

WeeGee, of How do you eat an Elephant

Bourbon, of Crazy in the coconut

Zoe, of Behind the Mask of Abuse

B, of Broken Little Bird

If you happen upon this without being pledged, I still pledge you.  Feel free to take the pledge!  Promote awareness!

~~

So you know what to do, I’ve copy and pasted the instructions below:

Please note: This is NOT an award, but an attempt to unite all mental health bloggers!

1.) Take the pledge by copying and pasting the following into a post featuring “Blog for Mental Health 2013″.

I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project.  I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others.  By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health.  I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

2.) Link back to the person who pledged you.

3.) Write a short biography of your mental health, and what this means to you.

4.) Pledge five others, and be sure to let them know!

5.) And, as something novel for 2013, Lulu and I ask one more thing of you.

As you may have noticed, Canvas does not keep an official blogroll, outside of links to our authors’ personal blogs.  For something new and special to introduce Blog For Mental Health 2013, and really build a sense of community — and show everyone how many of us there are, and how strong we are, coming together — we are launching a Blog For Mental Health 2013 Official Blogroll!  So, in addition to linking back to the person who pledged you, please include the link to the original post in your piece.  As this gets passed along, link back or click here and leave a comment containing the link to your pledge, and we will put you on our Blog For Mental Health 2013 Official Blogroll page!  Show the world our strength, show them our solidarity, show them what we are made of.  Take the Blog for Mental Health pledge and proudly display the badge on your blog!

 

When is it a crisis?

The NHS have “crisis teams” which you can call/go and see if you are having a crisis.

But what is a crisis?

My doctor once said if things get any worse I should call them.

How are you meant to know whether you should call or not?

I don’t want to waste their time. Even at my lowest points, all I could think was: This is not a crisis. There are people who need the help more than me. I’d just be wasting their time. They would be angry with me for wasting their time. I’m not worth their help anyway. And what could they possibly do to help??

So I didn’t call them.

This all got me thinking, what is a crisis? What are the NHS Crisis teams for?

So I consulted Mind’s website – http://www.mind.org.uk/mental_health_a-z/8038_the_mind_guide_to_crisis_services

And this is what it says about crises:

Mental health crises include:

  • suicidal behaviour or intention
  • panic attacks/extreme anxiety
  • psychotic episodes (loss of sense of reality, hallucinations, hearing voices)
  • other behaviour that seems out of control or irrational and that is likely to endanger yourself or others.

And who can help in a crisis?

Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment (CRHT) teams

  • usually includes a psychiatrist, mental health nurses, social workers and support workers.

Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs) are teams of mental health professionals who support people with ongoing mental health problems living in the community.

~ ~ ~

But this still doesn’t really answer my question: When is a crisis a crisis?!

Another mixed day (which ended with hope!)

This morning I had my statistics exam. I was worried about it because last time I tried to take it, I had a panic attack and couldn’t do it.

I did it. It was hard, my mind kept going blank. Anxiety was going wild and I couldn’t concentrate. I don’t think I’ve done very well, but I’ve done it, and that’s the main thing.

After the exam was feeling pretty down and rubbish. There were things in the exam that I had practiced last night on SPSS… could I remember them in the exam? No I could not.

So I came back to the house, had some lunch and got ready to go and do my volunteer training at Help Direct.

I’m not sure if I’ve written about it before, but it is a service which aims to help people with mental health/wellbeing problems to change things and make things better. I met the team there before Christmas when I had my initial meeting where we checked that I wanted to do it, and that I was suitable for the role.

Today I got to watch a session, and then afterwards we sent out the relevant details in the post etc. It was really interesting, and it filled me with hope for the future. I was terrified that I was going to hate doing it, and then I wouldn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.

But so far, it was really interesting and enjoyable. I like helping other people, and this role allows you to see the progress people make which is lovely. So for now at least, my goal is still to work in mental health.

Ironically, the reason I want to work in mental health is because of my own experiences. Having watched my mum go through depression a few years ago, I started to be interested in mental illness/mental health. Now, dealing with depression, anxiety and possible PTSD myself, I want to do it even more. I have seen second hand, and felt first hand, how difficult things become where mental illness is concerned. I have seen how hard it is to get help, and seen that sometimes the “help” you are given is not helpful at all. So I want to help, and I want to do it right. So now all I’ve got to do is get better, get my degree, a heap of work experience, a doctorate… and taa daa… I can do the job I want to do, and help people!

(Bloody hell, that’s going to take a while!)

But the good news best news is that I have hope for the future again. I have goals, and aspirations, and I’m on my way. It’s going to be a long journey, but now I have faith that eventually I will get there.

Yay for hope!! 🙂

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

Long walks and therapy

So this morning I had my CBT assessment at the hospital. The morning did not start off very well as I overslept. My appointment was at 10, and I had woken up at 9:15, which considering it was a 40 minute walk, was not ideal!

But, after waiting for so long to get to see a CBT counsellor, I leapt out of bed, threw on some clothes, brushed my teeth and was out of the door.

Thankfully I didn’t get lost on my way, and although it’s freezing, it was a beautiful sunny day so the walk was actually quite nice (even if it was quite long, and up steep hills!)

When I arrived I had to fill in that horrible form. This one was a slightly longer version than I normally do, as it had phobias and how depression affects your work/life as well as the normal depression and anxiety parts.

So I filled the horrible thing in, and it didn’t look good. But I gave it to the CBT counsellor, who I shall now call A (until I think of a better name) and we went into one of the therapy rooms and sat down.

I was really nervous, and very worried because I am beginning to think I’m a lost cause. I was terrified that one of two things would happen. 1) After the assessment she would say that CBT wasn’t suitable for me, and then I would be out of ideas. or 2) I will have the CBT, but it won’t help, so then I’ll be out of ideas.

But A was lovely. Even though I was feeling very anxious, she made me feel a bit more calm, and she explained everything about CBT, and that I’m allowed 16 sessions, and that we could organise a weekly time to see her.

And then when she finished talking, she asked me what I was doing there, in my own words. So I talked a bit, about how I feel really low and I have too high expectations of myself, and about things with the ex, but I didn’t even get started on the heavy stuff (which will obviously need to be dealt with at a later date.)

I was telling her about how I did my A levels and I thought I failed but I didn’t, and she said “did you do well?” and I ummed and ahhed and eventually said “yes, I did do well, but I didn’t do as well as I had hoped,” which was an example of my belief that “if it’s not the best it’s a failure.”

I know it’s irrational, and I said so. But the belief is ingrained into my brain, so I guess that’s one of the things we need to work on. And another is probably that I take on too much, but that’s for another post.

And then we talked about some other stuff but I can’t really remember. And at the end she set me some “homework.” I have to keep a daily mood diary, and she wants me to rate my mood on a scale of 1 – 10 each day. This resulted in me saying it’s hard to do because there’s no measure of what 1 is and what 10 is, and she said this is another example of me wanting to do it perfectly, but it doesn’t have to be perfect, and it just has to be subjective and how I feel that day.

My other homework is to make a timeline of my life, including good and bad events up until now, so that it might explain why I am how I am now, and why I am needing therapy.

A said I should get a book and use it for my CBT, and keep my mood diary and timeline, and future homework in there. I think this is a good idea, and I want to find a nice notebook to use for it. I am going to go and hunt for a suitable notebook when I get a chance.

So then it got to the end of the session and we looked at our timetables for next term, and decided on a time for our therapy sessions. And do you know when it is? The worst time of the week! 9am on a Monday morning!! This was the only suitable time (for now) but at least it will mean I’ll be up in the morning!

So after that we said goodbye, and I started walking back. But I went through Williamson park on the way back because it’s easier to get to uni that way, and I took a few pictures, as it was such a lovely day!

The view from Williamson park

The view from Williamson park

Hmm, having seen how that photo turned out it doesn’t look so nice. In real life it looked much brighter and prettier!! I also got a photo of the Ashton Memorial, which looks pretty cool!

The Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park

The Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park

Oh yes, and one more thing. Near the end of the session, A asked me to give my cognitive triad (the world/other people are…, I am…., the future is…) and I found it really hard to answer.

Eventually we came up with The world/other people are changeable, I am unimportant/I don’t know, the future is hopefully better. She said this is good because I still have some hope left!

And the other thing she asked me was “what are 3 words you would use to describe yourself?” but I couldn’t answer. I didn’t know what to say, so she asked what my boyfriend or friends would say, but I still couldn’t answer.

So instead, I’ll ask you: What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?