Hospital season 

On Monday is my next hospital appointment. I am in the strange situation of having 5 hospital appointments before Christmas. I find that embarrassing, ridiculous. I guess this is the life of someone with multiple long term conditions. This one is the psychiatry appointment. 5 different appointments with 5 different departments of the same hospital! 

My anxiety is pretty bad at the moment. Finding myself avoiding things more than before. Mainly social things. I am considering asking to try another medication. We will see. Is it worth the Side effects? I’ve already tried at least 6 antidepressants, but there are still more options. 

Time for bed said zebedee! 

Love,

Ellie xx

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Ellie’s little think (and ramble)

Today I went to the doctors. It seems like I haven’t been in ages! Last term I was going every week (not an exageration) but I think this was only the 2nd or maybe 3rd time I’ve been this term (and the term is nearly over now!) That’s progress in itself, I haven’t felt the need to go because things have been improving.

Over the last month or so I have felt a bit worse again and had a few wobbles. But I’m still a lot better than I was, so maybe recovery isn’t a straight line all at one gradient, it seems like it has its ups and downs, and times when things seem to stay the same for a while. But looking back, things are SO much better than they were, and I’ve come a long way this year.

I also got a copy of the letter from the psychiatrist (that I saw in February) to give to my GP in London when I get home. So obviously I had to read it… (Ever tried having a letter that is about you and not reading it? No thank you!) I thought it might upset me a bit, it is the reality of how things are (were?) in 4 pages. Written without compassion or explanation, just the bare bones of it really… And it was difficult to read. I had a little cry.

And then I had a little think, because these kind of things do make you think. One thing about this letter was that it had an actual diagnosis. It says depression and anxiety with post traumatic symptoms. And in that one sentence, it brings validity to what I am feeling. Someone else’s words shouldn’t be worth more than my own experience and emotions, but somehow it is. Sometimes I still think that maybe it isn’t that bad, or I’ve been overreacting to normal emotions. Sometimes I still doubt that it’s all real. But this man knows his stuff, and he is saying it’s real.

But since February things started to improve, little by little. Sometimes there were big changes, sometimes tiny, almost insignificant changes. And still now, I have my wobbles, and I have my little victories, but most important of all I have hope again. Hope that things can change and get better, hope that I can do this!

Well this is all sounding a bit positive and progressive isn’t it?! Time to add some worrying (because otherwise this wouldn’t be an Ellie post!)

I got an email back from the school I am going to in Germany today. I emailed them yesterday, in German. My “Betreuungslehrerin” (mentor teacher) emailed me back today, in English. So now I’m stuck; a decision that probably wouldn’t phase most people, but somehow any decision gets me into a flap! I’m just not good with decisions. So do I reply in English? Do I reply in German? Do I do half and half? (No Ellie, that is ridiculous!)

And what about living arrangements. She mentioned that in the past sometimes the assistant has found a flat in the town, sometimes lived in the nearest city (about an hour away) or she said I could live with one of the other teachers… Too much choice, too many decisions! I’ve decided not to reply today, but I’ll think about it and try and get out of this anxious worrying. Because really, whatever decisions I make – English or German, town or city, alone or with people, it’s not that important. And living arrangements can be changed if it doesn’t work out when I get there…

So time for Elllie to take a deep breath, and CALM DOWN.

Talking of breathing, I must do my meditation for today! And that’s another thing I want to blog about.

I’ve also been trying to plan my dissertation. As I’m doing psychology, we have to do an experiment so need ethics approval. I’ve been working on my ethics proposal today, but have been stopped in my tracks as there is a large flaw in my experimental plans… I have a PC and not a Mac. I have never seen this as an issue before, but apparently the software that I was planning to use for testing in my dissertation which measure reaction time does not exist on PCs!! (I mean seriously, come on!!) So there has been a lot of rushing around, panicking, and emailing my supervisor… hopefully we will sort this out soon! The problem is that next week is the last week of term, and I’m leaving Lancaster then so won’t be able to organise these things once I’m gone!

(Once again, breathing may be useful here!)

So little time, so much to do! In just over a week I will be leaving Lancaster until after my year abroad! Scary stuff!

Edit: I have just seen that I have passed the 200 mark on followers! Wow!! 🙂

One step at a time

Sometimes I need to remember that it’s ok to take little steps. Recovery does not happen overnight, even small amounts of progress take time. I am one of those people who wants to achieve everything straight away. But I can’t. (Because no one can!)

Take climbing as an example. I have learnt in the couple of months that I have been climbing for, that progress takes time and that little improvements are good. Yesterday I went climbing, I tried a route I hadn’t done before and couldn’t do it, and I tried one that I had tried before and still couldn’t do it. I was talking to S and saying that I felt like I was getting worse at climbing (instead of improving) and  it had been a very unsuccessful climb, and that I only got a little bit further on the one I couldn’t do before so I was disappointed. He said, but you got further than last time, so surely that’s progress and not getting worse!? And he’s right. I know he is, but until he said it, it didn’t register in my mind in that way. Maybe I’m just too used to putting myself down.

And when it comes to recovery it’s the same. I feel frustrated and disappointed that I don’t magically feel better yet. I have tried to put a time limit on it (as in, I must be better before I go to Germany) but that isn’t a realistic goal. Yes, I am a lot better than I was, and I hope to make more progress before I go to Germany, but the chances are I’m still going to have some problems. These things don’t go away overnight, especially when it’s complicated and it has been building up for a long time.

I asked A whether the psychiatrist had actually diagnosed me with PTSD. I guess a part of me still feels that I don’t have it, how could I? My experiences weren’t bad enough… But what does that even mean? Who is anyone to say what events and experiences are and aren’t traumatic enough. I feel like I am a fake, that I’m being a drama queen and making a fuss out of nothing. And at the same time I know that this stuff did happen and did affect me. Maybe I just want some validation in the form of a diagnosis. If a doctor says it then it must be true. Don’t even get me started on the flaws in that, talk about irrational! Anyway, A said she will try and get me a copy of the letter that the psychiatrist wrote, and she said that when I’ve filled in the impacts of events scale (which is a questionnaire that they use to diagnose PTSD) my scores definitely indicate that I have it.

I want to stop the past from affecting my future. Most of the time I manage to fight against things – do things even though they scare me, try and succeed even though my thoughts tell me I’ll fail (because of the past). But when it comes to relationship stuff I’m a mess. It’s probably not surprising, given that my relationship with the ex was not only a long one (nearly 3 years) but also my first relationship. And so I find it hard to trust. I’m scared, terrified that S is going to cheat on me, and even more than that I am scared that he is going to leave me. He tells me that he’s not going anywhere, that I should trust him, that I am just pushing him away. I asked him not to let me [push him away], and he said it’s hard because even though we’ve been together a year and a half and he’s never given me a reason not to trust him, I’m still convinced something will go wrong…

So this is a reminder for me and anyone else with this tendency to forget to take things one step at a time… Progress is slow and it takes time but it will happen!

Lots of love,

Ellie xx

There’s no magic wand

I knew that before. But I guess I was still hoping…

Today was my appointment with the psychiatrist that I have been waiting for for quite a while. 

I managed to get lost on the way, but found the place eventually, and even arrived on time.

We sat and talked for about an hour. He asked questions. I answered them. I cried. I cried more. 

He increased the dosage of my medication. I cried even more.

He said “There’s nothing you’ve told me that we can’t help you with” and then explained his “plan”. But I couldn’t stop crying.

He wants me to try a higher dosage for a month. If that doesn’t help, he wants me to try another antidepressant. And if that doesn’t work then he will try combining an antidepressant with an antipsychotic, which apparently can also be prescribed for depression/anxiety and can help with flash backs. He also said that after I finish my CBT, there might be other talking therapies to try.

So there are ways forward. So I should be happy? Relieved? 

I’m not. I am sad. Sad that there is nothing they can do that will help me NOW. Sad that getting better is months or years away. And sad that there wasn’t something blindingly obvious that we had missed, like another diagnosis which could be treated easily and would suddenly mean I’d get better.

I know there’s no such thing. I know it’s a long journey. I know people spend years and years fighting depression. But I want to feel better now. I could deal with ok, I don’t even need happy. I just want to be able to finish my degree, but I can’t keep going forever the way things are at the moment. 

I should be feeling more hopeful – there are things that can still be done. But instead I feel disappointed and let down. I don’t know what I was hoping for, but not this.

I just can’t stop crying.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a magic cure?

CBT – Week 6*

Today I went to my CBT session, and if you read my post yesterday, you’ll know I was feeling very anxious and scared about it, and really didn’t want to go. I decided to be kind to myself and got a taxi instead of walking up that massive hill for a change!

As suggested by some of you here (being the lovely and helpful people that you are!) I spoke to A about it, and told her that I had really struggled with writing down the memory, and about the flash backs, nightmares and screaming in the night.

She said we will wait a bit longer before we start the trauma work. In a way I am disappointed because I wanted to get it over with, but I am also relieved because I think it probably was too soon, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to deal with it very well at the moment. So instead we are looking at the thoughts which come with the feelings.

CBT says that thoughts cause feelings which cause behaviours, so in order to change feelings and behaviours, we have to change the thoughts. And that means starting by identifying the thoughts which cause the feelings. For example, I may think “I am useless” (thought) which will cause me to feel down (feeling), so I hide in bed (behaviour).

I need to become more aware of my thoughts so that I can start to counteract them with evidence. And realise that they are only thoughts, so they don’t have to be right.

A gave the example that even if I think about her crashing her car on the way home, it won’t cause it to happen! I said “That’s not very nice!” 

We will look at the thoughts that I identify, and test them, to see if there is evidence for them. It all sounds very scientific! 

I did some crying in my session (as usual) and A also said she thinks we need to look at the anger as well. As well as feeling upset/hurt/sad about the memories, I am also very angry. Angry at myself, angry at him, angry at anyone who didn’t do anything to help. 

Also this week I will be seeing my GP (tomorrow) and the psychiatrist (on Thursday) so it’s a very busy week for appointments! I am really hoping that the psychiatrist will be able to make the right diagnosis/es and hopefully work out the right medication for me! Although I’m pretty sure that he will say I have anxiety, depression (as previously diagnosed) and PTSD (which has been suggested but not diagnosed).

I asked A about my mood swings and tried to explain that even when I am feeling horrific, and at my lowest I normally manage to do things that I have committed to, like going to lectures, but that doesn’t mean I am ok, and it doesn’t mean I take anything in! I know that part of what they measure how bad things are on is your functioning level, but even though I appear to function, I’m really not. My memory and concentration are appalling, and I sit in lectures without listening to a word half of the time. She said that I need to make sure I tell the psychiatrist all of this, and that he will understand where I am coming from. Apparently he is very good** and is nice, so hopefully it will go ok on Thursday. I just want things to be sorted out and to start making progress.

So all in all, today was a difficult but kind of helpful session. AND afterwards I took the decision to go home and rest instead of going to class because I need to start looking after myself and stop doing things just because I “should”. 

*There was no week 5, in case you’re wondering where that went!

**Well I should hope so too!

It’s sunny!

It’s sunny in Lancaster*, and it’s sunny in my mind**. Today there is hope.

I’m not saying I magically feel better, or even that I do feel dramatically better, but today I feel like there is hope for the future.

There is hope because I have started my CBT. There is hope because I’m trying a new medication. There is hope because at the end of the month I will see the psychiatrist. And there is hope because for the first time in a long time, I am looking forward to something.

Last night I booked some flights to Germany for during the Easter holidays. I will be going to stay with Sheep who is doing her year abroad this year! I am excited to visit the place where she is so happy, to see the sights of a part of Germany I haven’t been to before, and to spend time with one of my best friends on holiday!

Let’s hope this enthusiasm stays!

There is hope. We will all get through this!

*If you’ve ever been to Lancaster, you’ll know how unusual this is!

**And if you know me, you’ll know how unusual this is too!

Ramblings of a tired Ellie

Yesterday I took my last dose of Mirtazapine. I’m now off it completely.

Only the propranolol left now, and technically that’s to prevent migraines (although it has just been increased to reduce anxiety).

So we’ll see, what is Ellie like when she’s not on antidepressants? This is the first time in over a year and a half that I have been completely off them. I’ve tried 5 different medications in that time (citalopram, fluoxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine and mirtazapine), and a range of dosages for each one. And none of them helped. Not one.

So this has led me to the conclusion that it is unlikely that antidepressants are going to help. And this probably means that my depression isn’t a chemical imbalance, which means it’s not biological, which means it’s my fault. And medically, I should be ok. But I’m not.

There are still more medications I could try. But is there any point? If I haven’t reacted to five, what difference will one more make? 

I am going to try not being on any for a little while and then we’ll see. I’ve got an appointment with the psychiatrist but it’s not until the end of February.

And then there’s the other question: is it depression? Or is it depression and something else? Or just something else entirely? Or worst of all, is it that I’m just making a fuss over nothing, and it’s all in my head?

Who knows? I don’t. The GP doesn’t. No one seems to know.

On a more positive note, today I caught myself feeling hopeful, having aspirations for the future – that kind of thing. I was surprised (in a good way), and just for a while I thought F*** you depression, I can do this, I’m going to get out of this, and I’m going to achieve.

That’s an improvement from how I’ve been recently.

Although now I am tired. Not sleepy tired (well that too) but just exhausted – physically and mentally. I don’t want to do anything. The hope is gone. 

When it gets to this (as it does quite often in the evening/night) the best thing to do is sleep. Sleep all night and then tomorrow is a new day.

And tomorrow I will drag myself out of bed. I will dive into the shower, rush through getting ready and power walk to the bus stop. And I will go to uni, whether I like it or not. And it will be hard, but I will be ok, because I have to be ok. I have to appear ok anyway.

And then tomorrow evening, when I want to retreat to my room and hide, I will get ready and I will go to my friend’s party, because that’s what friends do. And I might leave early, I might come home and cry, but I’ll be there because that’s what friends do.

Why can’t I just have a few days to just escape. To just unwind completely. To rest and just be me. No obligations. No people. Just rest.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Shame it’s never going to happen.

Everything needs to change (back in Lancaster)

I have made it back to Lancaster. At times I thought I wouldn’t be coming back this term, but here I am, sitting in my tiny little bedroom and catching up on my blog reading.

I have finished 2 of my pieces of coursework. I’ve got 1 more to do, and an exam on Wednesday, and then the pressure is off (for a little while). This term, I hope to stay on top of my work. But then again, I always say that.

I am feeling very low, and still wondering what I am doing back here… Can I get through this term? Am I good enough? Why can’t I just go home and hide until it all goes away?

Last night we went out for Footballer’s birthday. It was nice to see everyone, and I got drunk for the first time in ages. There was a part of the evening where I started crying, and couldn’t stop. I heard my friend talking to her boyfriend, saying “never leave me”, and that was enough to set me off.

I wanted to go home. Actually, I wanted to die. (Not just because of that, but because I generally felt incredibly rubbish*).

I didn’t go home. I stayed out and went to the club. I didn’t want to let Footballer down by going home. Several other people didn’t come out, and (drunk) footballer got really upset. She thought no one cared and that no one was really her friend.

This is ridiculous; we all love her, we all care about her so much. But Footballer has a very idyllic view of the world, and she expects (and wants) everything to be perfect, but naturally it isn’t.

Someone didn’t come out because they were ill, some are not back in Lancaster, one was at work (but did come out afterwards). No one wanted to hurt her, but it did. She felt let down, and so I went out, and tried to make sure she had fun.

I think she did in the end.

When we came home, I went to bed. I lay there for ages. Just feeling nothing but pain.

When is this going to stop hurting? When am I going to get better? Or, worst of all… what if I never get better?

Today I didn’t get up until about 2. I was drifting in and out of sleep from about 10, but didn’t have the motivation to get up. I was very achy, tired and generally fed up. I got up eventually, and read some blogs.

I was supposed to be doing my lab report today, but I haven’t. It’s half past 6 now and I still can’t be bothered to do anything.

I don’t want to eat. I don’t want to work. I don’t want to talk. I don’t even want to sleep. I just want this to stop hurting.

Tomorrow uni begins again. This term my timetable is much better – no more 9-6 on a Monday! I don’t start until 11 tomorrow, so I can have a bit of a lie in. I don’t want to go to uni. I don’t want to do any of this right now.

People say I should “try and stay positive”, but how can I stay positive when I’m not positive to begin with?

Feeling very negative. And I wanted this term to be different. I don’t think it will be though.

I am hoping and praying** that things will get better. That the CBT will work. That the psychiatrist will be able to help. That I will lose some of this weight. That I will be able to get through this term. That I will do well in my work…

Everything needs to change. And I don’t know how.

*I always say that. “I feel rubbish”. Actually this is a massive understatement, but it gets across the general feeling.

**This is very hypocritical. I don’t even know if I believe in God anymore. I want to, but I’m in so much pain. I don’t really believe in much anymore. I pray sometimes, that God will help me, and show me a sign that he’s listening. It’s probably stupid. If he’s there, why would he listen to me, who doesn’t even know if I believe anymore?

Rant – beware!!

I’m so disorganised.

Useless.

There’s so much stuff to do, and I keep forgetting things.

I still haven’t written about that stupid psychiatrists appointment and it was (nearly) a whole week ago!! ARghh..

There’s been a lot going on this week. My other 3 house mates are now all here, and we had a visit from some of our housemates from last year (we lived in a group of 12 last year)

I embarrassingly still have not fully finished unpacking, although I think everyone else (who arrived yesterday and today) has already finished! What a failure!

I never knew I was such a procrastinator.

This probably isn’t making much sense. I’m just typing. I’m typing all my jumbled thoughts.

I’m absolutely knackered. Been aching all day too. Yuck.

I bet I won’t be able to sleep later on though. Urgh. Typical.

Stop trying to predict the future. Why can’t you just let things happen? Maybe then you’d feel more positive because you wouldn’t be thinking all these bad things are going to happen!

And BLOODY DOCTOR O. WHAT A USELESS MAN!!! At the beginning of the summer holidays I rang the doctors in Lancaster and made a phone appointment with DR O. He rang me as planned at the agreed time, and he agreed to put through a referral to the mental health team in Lancaster. I was glad to get that sorted, and thought – by the time I’m back in Lancaster, it will come through so I’ll get some (much needed) help!! Sadly this was not to be.

I went to the doctor today and asked about the referral. It had indeed been sent off. And a letter had been sent out from the mental health team to me… did I receive this letter? No. No I did not. Why not? (I hear you ask) Because readers, despite me telling Dr O several times, and double and triple checking this, he had put my uni address on the referral and not my home address.

For anyone who is not familiar with the system in the UK, there is an opt-in system, which means if you get referred for mental health stuff, they send you a letter and you have to ring to confirm your attendance. If you do not ring them, you are discharged from them. This means that despite my efforts, I am now back in Lancaster, with no appointment with the local mental health team, and back to the bottom of the waiting list.

Thanks Doctor O, thanks very much! LFHM:GHULGOolaphdphusuphG\AH I am so annoyed about this!!!!!

Anyway enough of this rant, I am so tired I can’t type or read properly, but I bet I won’t be able to sleep.

URGH. Meh.

Tomorrow is a new day, hopefully one with less stresses. Yeah right.. the freshers are arriving soon! EEEK!

Good night wordpress, and sorry for the rant, hopefully a more sane Ellie will be back tomorrow.

Oh yeah. AND I’m not doing well with those 30 days things… missed so many days already. MEH will try and catch up when I have time… Time is something I never seem to have enough of. I want a time turner like in Harry Potter (Hermione, HP 3) that would be amazing!

ENOUGH RAMBLING WOMAN! SHHHH and go to sleep!!

Thanks to a lovely man called Rob

I am back!! (yay!)

Today, at 12pm I rang the people who manage problems etc at my new house in Lancaster to tell them my internet wasn’t working, and that the microwave wasn’t working. By 12:10, a man called Rob (from IT) had phoned me, and was talking me through how to fix the internet. And by 12:20, I had internet!! So today, I am thankful for a lovely man called Rob, who knows about internet!!

(It turned out this wasn’t my fault/me being stupid, but was the landlord’s fault, and a problem which recurred each year. On the router it says “Please do not unplug or remove this router.” And, every year, the land lord unplugs the router and moves it! Long story short, it now works! Yay Rob!!)

So anyway, I shall do an update on life, the universe and everything… (The answer is 42, by the way.*)

On Wednesday I had my trip to Birmingham to go and see Michael McIntyre. I had a really nice day out with my boyfriend, Monkey and her boyfriend. We went shopping, and then went for dinner and cocktails in a pub, before going to the NIA to see Michael McIntyre himself. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in my whole life! (I actually felt sick from laughing so much, and my face ached at the end – so worth it though!!)

Then me and my boyfriend got the train back to London, and the nightbus back home. It was a long journey, slipping in and out of sleep on the train, and trying to stay awake on the night bus. On the train I overheard a couple of guys (who were drinking copious amounts of beer) having a strange conversation. At one point, one man said to the other “If you had to lose one of your senses, which one would it be?” Fairly deep for a drunken conversation, I thought!! (Although I didn’t actually hear the answer from the 2nd man.)

So, which would it be? If you had to lose one of your senses?

When we got back it was about 2:30am, and my boyfriend was allowed to stay round (he’s not usually), so we had lots of lovely cuddles, which was nice as I was going to leave the next day!

On Thursday, I had my appointment with the psychiatrist. I am going to write about it properly later. Afterwards, I went for breakfast with my boyfriend and cheese**. We had pancakes at Wetherspoons (I would recommend these if you ever get the chance!) I had mine with maple syrup and bacon… sounds strange, but an AMAZING combination!!

Then it was full steam ahead on packing! I didn’t know I owned this much stuff! And although I tried to bring less stuff than last year, I am now sitting in my new room, completely surrounded by boxes, suitcases, bags and a ukulele. (To be fair, it is a very small room!)

On Thursday night I stayed at my Nannie’s house in the Midlands (about half way to Lancaster), it was really nice to see her, but sad at the same time. She has Alzheimer’s disease, and it is very sad to see her so different to how she used to be. We had the same conversations over and over again, and she had no recollection that we had already talked about these things.

On Friday, me and my mum said our goodbyes to my Nannie (my mum’s mum) and got back in the car to continue our journey up to The North. I am pleased to tell you that Steve*** made it up to Lancaster in one piece, in case anyone was worried about him! 😛

We arrived on campus to pick up keys to the new house, then went to the town hall to get a temporary parking permit. Sadly, this was not the five minute in – and – out that I was expecting, but took closer to an hour, sitting and waiting for my number to be called! We then went up to the house, and started bringing my ridiculous amount of stuff into the house. (I am the first out of my housemates to arrive, the others won’t be here until Tuesday/Wednesday.)

Later, we went out for dinner and had a wander around the city. I am glad to be back, I do love Lancaster – such a cute and pretty town. It is quite cold up here though, and I could see my breath as I talked – in September!!

On Saturday morning, I had to be on campus for 8am (this time does not usually exist to me, let alone getting up at 6:30!!) and started my day as a “Grizedale accommodation guide”. I basically spent the entire day explaining about the accommodation (which is where I lived last year) and telling everyone that Grizedale is the best college to be in! Gotta love college spirit!

I was very pleased with how the day went. I felt a bit unsure and nervous at the beginning, but within a short time I settled into the role, and actually quite enjoyed it! No anxiety in sight!! 😀 I felt a great sense of achievement at the end of the day, I had received only good comments about my accommodation tours, and one person even said “It was worth coming just to meet you,” which was lovely, even if it was a bit strange.

Back in my house yesterday evening, I was knackered. I couldn’t be bothered to cook anything properly, so I just made chicken instant noodles (I’m a real student!) and settled down to watch Bridget Jones’ Diary and Bridget Jones’ Diary 2! (I had no internet, so DVDs were the only option!)

I went to bed relatively early, seeing as I had nothing else to do, and I was tired, and actually slept pretty well! (Despite the trains outside my house, which are not actually too much of a problem.)

So now we’re back to today, and I have already explained what happened, so now… I’m back!

Today I’m planning to do a number of things:

1. Go into town to buy some cleaning supplies

2. Unpack (or at least start)

3. Catch up on reading the blogs I follow

4. Do one of the 30 days writing challenges

5. Start cleaning the house

6. Cook something proper for dinner

7. Skype the boyfriend, and possibly parents

8. Write about the appointment with the psychiatrist

Sorry about the length of this post, if you’ve got to the end thank you so much for reading my ramblings!

* 10 Ellie points if you get this reference!

** cheese is one of my friends who I used to work with. He is called cheese because he works on the cheese counter at work, however he doesn’t like cheese (much to my amusement!)

*** the orchid – of course!