Sunday, August 31, 2014

Back to reality

As you may have noticed if you've been reading the blog for any length of time, my relationship with Therapist is somewhat complicated. I struggle constantly with how one sided it is, and push far harder than I should to try and even things out - I'm much happier being the one asking questions than doing the talking. Needless to say that hasn't really worked, and the boundaries are still firmly in place. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was in two minds about whether or not to go back to Therapist at the end of this break. It's been almost five weeks since I've seen her, and it's certainly the longest I've gone without any support in years. I'm quietly proud of that, and also relieved that I managed to get through all those weeks without either caving and mailing her in desperation (and having the inevitable guilt and corresponding drop in mood at having done so), or else contacting her back up person in a panic.

But here's the thing. I'm due back with her tomorrow, and today is the first time I've given it any real thought. Do I want to go back? Do I want to risk opening up all that vulnerability and neediness again after working so hard the last few weeks to shut it down? Do I even really need her any more? Am I going back out of habit? Or is it that I don't want to go back to the reality of life? The last few weeks I've been off work, the kids have been out of school, life has been so simple and I know there's a big part of me that doesn't want to see an end to that. Tomorrow is back to work, back to school, to routine and to Therapist. In short, back to reality and all that goes with it.

There's something else as well, something I've been slightly more reluctant to think about - I'm angry with her. There's a part of me that's really, really pissed that she dared to take five whole weeks off, and expected me to be able to cope, when only a couple of weeks before she left the idea of leaving as much a two week gap between appointments wasn't even up for discussion. And, for sure, that is partly what's fuelling my thinking about not going back. I realise that's a completely irrational reason, it's nothing more than cutting off my nose to spite my face. Logically, I understand her need to take a break, we all do. But emotionally? Emotionally I feel abandoned, let down and rejected. Hello borderline. Nice to see you again.

I spoke about it with Hubby earlier, and he had two main concerns - firstly, if I don't go back, I will essentially have gone cold turkey on what has been a massive support for me for a long time. Apart from anything else, it's not therapeutically sound to end a counselling relationship without warning and without working up to it. His second concern was whether or not my reasons actually make sense - the very fact that I'm angry with her is probably an indicator that there's a bit more work to be done. I've long struggled with the fact of needing support, so I guess the thoughts of realising that I still do is a little off putting as well.

So, I'll go tomorrow. I have my reservations, lots of them. But maybe I'll surprise myself. Maybe the break has been enough to show me I can manage without her, that I don't need her as much as I used to. There's only one way to find out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Another ugly cry

I'm struggling the last few days, really, really struggling. Mood has been getting progressively lower, and now today I'm really tearful. It sucks. I've just had a good cry down the phone to Hubby, and in between sniffling managed to work out that there are probably a few factors at play. Summer is almost over. Autumn has arrived rather dramatically - it's chilly, grey, and the evenings are noticeably shorter. I haven't seen Therapist for 4 weeks, which is longer than I've managed without her (and without resorting to her emergency back up person) in almost four years. I'm hormonal as fuck. It's a heady combination.

Today it's mostly about the kids. I'm having to work really hard to remind myself that we've had a good summer. No, we didn't go away, but we had a lot of fun at home. They have finally, finally overcome their shyness of the green outside, and are happy out playing with their little friends. But where is my thinking going today? I should be doing something nice with them. I'm neglecting them by leaving them playing outside. I've wasted the summer etc etc etc. At a rational level I realise the complete and utter ridiculousness of this but emotionally that's how things are today. I cannot motivate myself. I'm looking around at the various things I could be doing, things I would normally enjoy, and I can't get myself up to do any of them. Quite frankly, feeling like this scares the absolute shit out of me. I haven't cried in months.

I'm apprehensive about next week - we'll be back to a really strict timetable if this half time thing is to work. I'm a little worried about my son and how he's going to settle back into school. I'm really, really scared of the approaching winter - the weather has such an impact on my mood.

But, next week also sees me back with Therapist. I think. I've an appointment made, although I've really been in two minds as to whether I should keep it, having gone this long without her. That said, for much of the time she was away things have been remarkably easy, so it's been easy to be ok. I'm definitely missing the process now. I can't make up my mind if it's because of all of the above, or because I somehow managed to keep it together knowing she was inaccessible, but now that I know she's back soon, I'm losing it a little. I'm not explaining this right. It's like I managed without her because I had to, but now that I don't, I can't. Does that make sense?

Anyway, that's today. I'm hoping it will pass soon. I've been keeping up with spinning/yoga/walking and occasional running, it's definitely helped. I'll try and get out again this evening. Sitting down with nothing to occupy me is definitely not a good plan.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

#Mentalhealthlifesaver

Last week saw the launch of Mental Health Reform's pre-budget campaign, the aim of which is to gather as many signatures as possible on a petition to try and persuade Government to both follow through on the promises they've already made in relation to mental health services in the country, and also in the hope of securing increased funding in the upcoming budget.

Another aspect of the campaign aims to get us thinking about what own mental health lifesavers are, what we can do for ourselves to help ourselves feel better. I put out a request for photos on my page and a really lovely pattern started emerging.

Just some of the images people have shared with me
What makes people happiest aren't things. It's other people, beautiful places, exercise or a hobby. The 'stuff' that we all have isn't important, not when we really take time to sit back and think about it, and there's something really uplifting in that.

That's not to say the medical side of things isn't needed - it very much is. For many of us, myself included, we can't appreciate any of these things without first getting well enough to be able to notice them, and that's why improved mental health services are so desperately needed. It's taken me a long, long time to be able to think about spending time with my family and smile, or break out my yoga mat because I want to, not because I feel I should. I can look forward to catching up with friends. I'm not desperate to get through the day as quickly as possible so I can legitimately go back to bed. Myself and Hubby are no longer just business partners, we get to be a couple again. All of this is just wonderful, but bitter experience has taught me that without the appropriate support from psychiatric services, as well as on-going therapy, all of this could be taken from me so, so quickly.

Three of the key requests being made of Government are
  • 24/7 crisis intervention services in every area of the country
  • Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurses in primary care and mental health liaison nurses in A&E
  • Counselling in Primary Care to be made available to more people who need it
These aren't outlandish requests, in fact, they're common sense. More widespread crisis intervention services in the community might actually stop people needing hospital in the first place. Staff who are appropriately trained to deal with people in severe mental distress in A&E could save a lot of heartache, both for staff and those looking for help. Counselling in primary care is so obvious it shouldn't even need to be on the list. For sure, I needed psychiatric intervention, but after that, I 110% needed talk therapy. Medication is only ever going to be 10% of the solution, the rest is working out triggers, finding coping mechanisms and finally realising what our own mental health life savers are.

I decided to go ahead and dunk a bucket of icy cold water over my head in the hope of encouraging a few more people to sign the petition


If you haven't already done so, please, please go and sign it. We badly, I'd go so far as to say desperately, need improved mental health services in this country, particularly for those who don't have health insurance. If enough of us shout, maybe the powers that be will listen?