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Reflections…Week Forty Six

canstockphoto8630797This week has been a blur, a blur of waiting to be exact. The two things don’t go together in a normal sense, one being movement and one being the absence of it, but the mind likes to play these silly little games.

Routine is key to knowing what day of the week it is most of the time, spread throughout the week are group sessions, shopping runs, and if we, myself and Spot, can afford to go out, whether that just entails time to do the longer walks, physical problems make what used to be an hour and a half walk an afternoon now, or petrol money to get to a woodland area. And routine is what sets the pace, or the apparent pace, of time.

Rearrange one aspect of this schedule and the pace of the week can drastically be altered. And this week has been a doozy of rearrange and additions. The Thursday shop was on Tuesday, the Friday shopping place is was on Tuesday in addition to Friday. My uncle gets driven around to shopping and hospitals, usually Thursdays and at the end of the month, but had an extra appointment on Tuesday for his hearing aids as well as the end of the month one on Thursday. The Monday group was somewhere new, the Thursday daytime, prior going to my uncle, was shared between a cuppa with group friends at a church cafe, nipping round to another group to drop some things off and the American for the writing competition winner announcement. Well thats the blur covered

The waiting…Thats easy, as the Thursday shopping was on the Tuesday I didn’t require anything yet, so not in the mood for people, I waited in the car. At the hospital – both times – in the car, and the Friday shop – moneys a bit tight so I only got a couple of things and sat in the store waiting for my Mother and neighbour to do their shopping. To be honest I nearly went and sat in the car for the Friday shop, I have really been struggling to go out these past couple of weeks.

Today, Saturday, was different. Today I spent a day at the university open day throwing pots, something that has a major embarrassment memory from a school parents open day, way back then it was my first time I had been on a potters wheel and I may as well been trying to catch greased up eels coming from the centre. So today was to rid myself of that connection of embarrassment to the potters wheel. It was also a day to reconnect with distant souls, faces with whom paths have not crossed for a very long time. Also with it being an open day, our little group, and therefore myself on a potters wheel, was on display, again.

The groups run by Z are ace, there is an atmosphere of wonderment and humour, it matters not whether you are sitting on your own, spinning clay, or sitting in a group, sculpting clay, you are a part of it. Banter is varied to the clean and the shocking, well you have left me with no moral compass, Too shocking Too soon for the person the last line was for, welcome back.

Some could say I show off with the creative crafts, but I don’t do what I do to impress, not consciously anyway, but I do try to push my boundaries, in some cases I skip the basic stuff and go straight to the interesting. Today was just to play. I had no interest in bringing anything back home, everything was to be binned, emotion, shame, and whatever disaster was created.

I have, however, started a bit of — it’s not rivalry or oneupmanship, but it is – he’s done that I’m doing this kinda thing. I don’t think copper bowls will be satisfactory next metalworking class and the potters wheel is going to get a lot more advanced next clay workshop.

Did my creations end up in the bin? Only one out of the three, and the clay is reformed into a ball and used again, so not really binned as such. I have not taken any pictures yet as I am waiting until they have been fired, one has very delicate walls and my vase has a long thin neck but the clay didn’t feel right at the base of the neck once I stretched the clay upwards and has a high chance of it being an air bubble, thus blowing apart when fired. They are cockeyed but they did a great job of chasing away ghosts.

Oh I almost forgot, the writing competition winner announcement…

Is now going to take place at Christmas, I could have stayed at the cafe.

The reason — there were only two entries. The closing date was October 14th and they wait till the winner announcement day, and place, to let us know they new winner announcement time. But by telling me that there was only two entries they have tarnished the whole winning of it for me. Something that had a sense of achievement has now become a game of odds, good odds of winning. Creative skills have now been covered under a blanket of depression, to be dropped and forgotten about. I had been looking forward to being told I’d won, a rare self belief in what I had done, I don’t even know if I will bother turning up to the next winner announcement, the interest in it has gone.

Sometimes I feel the pinatas’ pain.

 

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

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Go with the flow. Echo Update.

IMG_1618ECHO had its first group session at the new place of The American, more turned up than most of us expected, this was a welcome sight as many were wondering if now was the time to stop coming.

Thats not to say we have given up on ECHO, far from it, but the serenity that Brunswick House offered contrasts greatly to the atmosphere of The American, this does not help to ‘settle in’. I am lucky in this respect as I am familiar with the American, many are not, and the process of going somewhere new can be overwhelming, but I too was hesitant as to whether the group would work here.

Chaos was expected as no routines have been set up yet, and chaos was the format for the beginning.  This will improve as time goes by with more input from us to make it work.

Emotions were being suppressed by everyone to differing levels – anger, confusion, dejection where common but most present is probably uncertainty. We have had a letter explaining what has gone on with the funding cut and how we have been given this reprieve by Brighter Futures and the generosity of Swan Bank Methodist Church in order to keep the group going , though not the same, until the end of March.

It also tells us how they are pursuing different avenues toward funding but basically it is looking like ECHO requires a night in shining armour to save the day. Understandably this alters how one approaches the group as a whole – it now has a guillotine at the end of march.

The worksheets, have become more clinical, as I call them, or educational as another does. What we got used to was a more caring way of them being worded. For example:-

You have to take four tablets a day… A Clinical response would be something like…Take two twice a day on a full stomach. A caring approach would be more…Take two tablets at dinner time and two at tea. Both say the same thing but the styling is completely different and I believe the latter helps the info to be absorbed better.

We definitely need to get the CBT papers less clinical.

(Disclaimer).  Now the term CBT has never been used in conjunction with these sessions, but I have found no difference in these and the CBT courses I have been on and the key principles in which they both work are the same.

And in this line of thought I am sending an email to the B.F boss with an idea how we may get some written for us by a University student or two. I don’t think the person who runs the group will have enough time to do the re-writes, unless she takes them home, and none of us want her to become burnt out.

As for me, I have been keeping myself busy, avoiding dealing with it, I am currently looking a a dragons tail that needs scales painting. I know it is the wrong way to do it, especially now I have nearly read a book on mindfulness that was clear on what it means to be ‘present’, and locking myself away from the outside world only makes it worse, but the habit is a lifelong one.  I’m working on replacing it with a more healthy approach.

On the plus side however, I have discovered that writing these blogs has been part of my mindfulness journey, without me even knowing about it, and it is also one way of allowing myself to process the information of the current situation and the Poetry/Prose(new chapter) has been called a cathartic release; this stage has yet to happen, I doubt it will be pretty when it gets here.

On we plod…

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk

Cut, Cut, Cut…Part Two #nsv #northstaffsvoice

Ok, you are in a charitable service that is having the funding stopped and you have issues with your Mental Health Service from the NHS. Who do you go to for help?
Luckily we have NSV(North Staffs Voice), Think PALS for mental health.

Well, we have till Christmas, this NON CLINICAL group have had their funding stopped.
Who do we have to help with unsatisfactory mental health then???

NSV are a separate charitable group from ECHO and Brighter Futures but you can see the connection I hope. If the support from these non clinical groups is ended the Support is going to be require at the budget cut hospitals, and if that is insufficient or has a problem with it, then there is nobody to help with the complaints if you stop funding the complaint enablers. Crafty really.

NSV covers all mental health services in North Staffordshire, a small team that goes a long way, and in my experience has had a profound effect to my CLINICAL treatment.

Sometimes in the mental health system a person can get stuck in a Drug Treatment program, that is to say the therapy treatments are not deemed an option.

What do I mean by that?
I have collected a lot of coping mechanisms to help me with daily life since my breakdown. This has resulted in therapy being denied due to me ‘coping’ in day to day life, to which I have ‘the medication to thank for that (according to one person),’ although the coping mechanisms themselves have been highlighted as strategies.
Positive strategies by the psych team but negative strategies (the same ones) by the couple of workshops delivered by the same service, so who is correct? Depends on who you talk to on the day.

To throw in the mix, the changes to my mood and the stability came at the time I was in the mental hospital for six weeks. Here I first developed some of the patterns I still use today.
When I left the hospital I did not return to the previous life I had before entering, everything changed. But it was the meds that got the credit.
My mood plateau’d and I kept questioning the effectiveness of the medication as my reactions are still to people, that has never changed, my coping strategy is to not mix with strangers without support or an exit plan being present, and avoiding crowds whenever possible, especially indoors.

Most of my strategies will not work in a work environment. So no, I don’t think the drugs work and I don’t think I am coping.

I was told right at the beginning, something like seven years ago, that the drugs are not the answer…therapy is the answer.
However I was left with…therapy is not the answer, just take the drugs.

I needed to be heard, without the fear of being sent back to the hospital, a real fear after being sectioned, or of being put on new meds/having the ones that you are on altered to compensate for your mood. NSV supplied that ear then became my voice. In 2014 it was a voice for over 1000 members.

If you or a loved one was ill you would want the best treatment available, and the correct treatment.
If the treatment had seemed to stall or be stuck in the same cycle that has offered no change in that persons mental state, and complaints have no effect because they are coming from the mental health patient, then yes an outside voice is helpful. If only to get a fresh look at the way treatment is received.

North Staffs Voice (formally North Staffs Users Group) is that voice for the service users. An intermediary service between service users and service providers.
Personally I think this service should be made available allover the country, just like PALS.

Mental Health problems can effect anyone at any time.
These are worth while charities that require your donations to carry on their support.

I hope that you will never need them nor anybody in your family.
However there is a 1 in 4 chance you will know somebody who will be affected and will.

 

To contact either charity follow these links

info@brighter-futures.org.uk
http://nsvoice.org.uk/contact-us/

To donate to either of these charities please follow the links bellow.

Brighter Futures Donations
http://nsvoice.org.uk/donate/

 

 

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https://www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk

Reflections…Week Twenty two

canstockphoto8630797A week of uncertainty, a week of determination.

For nearly three weeks part of my medication has been unavailable, completely ending my dose just shy of a fortnight ago. No weening off, just a sudden stop, ended, and as it is the only one in its class, no alternative.

Luckily, I have had no side effects, BUT, and it is a big but – after multiple failures to obtain the medication it took a week , due to one thing and another, to find out if I was at risk of harm from the sudden stop and what my options were.

Not the risk of harm as in suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, the usual bag of side effects. No the question was more of physical, I have been on this medication for years and my body chemistry would have adapted, to a degree, at receiving it daily.

The staff at the groups I use have been kept aware of what has been happening and helping where they can, so I have good, knowledgeable, organisations as backup should things start going wrong. Family are also available, so two safety nets as it were. But it is the group staff that have had the most concern, they have seen people ‘go off’ their meds, and the results are not usually pretty.

If I was at the stage that my belief in the medication is the source of my healing, I would have been worried, but since being on the medications my health as a whole has decreased, co-incidental?

When you go onto medication and you show side effects that the doctors doctors don’t see as problematic, weight gain, brain fog, heck, even my illusions were classed as a side effect by one doc, the usual “it’ll go away in time” becomes the standard reply. This is, I believe, because you cannot test for side effects, so how do you prove/disprove they exist in a patient? My sudden development of a twitch and stammer could not be found in a book, not in patients over the age of 16ish, so that too got the “it’ll go away eventually” line.

Add in the factor of ones improvement due to therapies, that also has no test for it, you have two variables of ones health that do not fit into the equation. The drugs get all the praise and none of the blame, does this really help the patient?

There are reports by some doctors in America, including at least one Psychiatrist, that say the drugs are not the answer, and a homeopathic approach is better for the patient long term. Now I don’t know if that is true or not, since there is no profitability by the drug companies, there have been limited studies on it, but I don’t know why it isn’t available alongside as part of the treatment, possible side effects – better health, better diet, shorter amount of time on the medication, therefore less exposure to the common side effects of suicide, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety…

One goes to a weekly group that, for want of a better term, does life learning. Which is to say ones life choices, usually influenced at an early age, are questioned and alternative thought patterns are offered. The idea is simple, identify negative traits, identify why they are there, explore alternatives, implement small changes, find oneself and become oneself. Sometimes we are shaped, including our reactions, from outside sources, to a point we become less us and more what is expected to ‘be’.

Yes I am aware I speak as one and as multiple, this can also be a side effect of the shaping, segments of ones personality can get segregated.

Side note  pomegranate/pear/raspberry juice with spirulina and green superblend powders…yuck…eugh…nasty!

I believe I have been lucky in experiencing no side effects (to present), and I would not recommend stopping medication to anyone, but I would recommend you going to as many free therapies/groups/courses as you possibly can that are available in your area. The amount of courses/groups I have gone to is the reason I don’t fear coming off the medication, even as a trail, how else can it be proven if it was the  drug or whether it was changes made during my stay at the mental hospital responsible for the improvement of my mental state and whether the drug has been ‘working’ these past years?

In the West Midlands there are groups like Brighter futures, Echo, Mind, Healthy Minds and Changes, these are the ones I know about but not all of them, they are free and recognised Mental Health groups.

If a series of events and responses in the past are responsible for present, then is it not a good thing to learn to change the responses in order for the future be different than the present?

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

 

Reflections…Week Eighteen

canstockphoto8630797I once had to dump my motorbike and jump into the side of an Artic Lorry Cab, leaving a dent in the cab door and wrapping my tobacco tin around my thigh where it hit the cab wheel. I was bruised and I ached the next day but I went back to my very manual job. Just another day, just another bruise. It was a walk away, though for the motorbike it was the end, that went under the wheel – and then under it a second time as he reversed back over it to see what he had hit.

I’m older now, not so able to just shake off the knocks, but I manage. What I find difficult is the days I wake up with every muscle aching for no reason, my head swimming like it is the morning after the night before, including the hissss – sunlight – shut the curtains and block it out, and the brain fog.  Yesterday was bad, I hardly moved out of my darkened room, my head in limbo from one thought to the next, even prompting by spot didn’t get me out of the house.  It took most of today to work up the momentum to do it, sometimes going outside is like walking against a strong wind, but only you feel it, and until you do, you don’t really understand how difficult it is.

Spot has been a godsend in my recovery, she knows when I am dipping, she plays the fool more elaborately to cheer me up, in her mind it works because I take steps to divert it when I can, she is my early warning system when I don’t wake with it in place. She will prompt me for going out, to the point of anoyance, and a simple day out for a walk with her is something to aim for .

And she gives good cuddles without asking.

But even with Spot in place the constant pain is starting to wear me down, I have support in place, but I just want to know what is happening and why my feet feel like someone is trying to rip them apart. These are the worst parts and at the same time these are the ‘worst’ parts.

They hurt the most and they hinder the most, I cannot remember a time without some sort of pain in them now. I hate being given ‘advice’, the meaning well’ness is there, but if it aggravates whatever it is, I suffer the next day maybe two. An exercise for one complaint can be torture for another. That is why I am waiting for an answer from the doctors before I start anything new, heck even they have offered no exercises to do that I am not already doing.

Its been two and a half years now and though I have a few “it’s not” statements the path has run its course and i am being signed off, so I have to start right back at the beginning because I was sent the wrong way. Not that I was expecting much from Neuro, they admitted that my stammer/stutter and twitch, which appeared out of the blue five years ago, was neurological but they did not know why, off I was sent to ‘receive help’ to accept this new feature, job done. But never have I been treated like I was dog  dirt on a shoe for being there, on another doctors referral, and wasting his time before.

All I want is an answer to the question….”Whats up doc?”

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

 

Reflections…Week Six

Try something new, it’s good for the brain.

That is what I have been told many a time, so when the opportunity to do a one day course came along on a day and time one could do, one did. Team Building. To make this more interesting, one was going alone.

Not knowing who was going, nor how many, put my system to into a panic. However, having been to the building several times before, and being in a larger size group in the room gave some calm to my mind. The room is quite spacious and even at capacity  still feels like there is plenty of space to escape. Toilet facility and door sitings, the primary locations to look for in a new building, are known, and it has noting to do with Feng Shui.

The morning arrived, my stomach churned for hours before I made my way to the course, I nearly backed out, it would be easy to do. Truth be told, with it being run for people with mental health problems, it’s kind of expected, and what do I need with team building? Every ‘team’ I have been on, and it’s not many, have been dysfunctional at best and at worst…a bunch of individuals clumped together. Solitary, shy and introverted by nature, oh and antisocial now, thats me. Not the abusive neighbour or troublesome element of a neighbourhood, more the “he just kept himself to himself officer”, “such a lovely man” kind of person. Heck I have even been called antisocial on social sites due to my non interaction. Do I really want to build teams?

The course was run by a lovely young lady, genuinely enthusiastic, warm and welcoming. I was first to arrive, promptly choosing a seat furthest from the door facing, toward it. Two more came in and sat on the table in front, then Three came in together, two of whom I recognised, and sat at the first table. This is pretty representative of my social life, not in the ‘clic’, not on the fringes, just about in the room.  Sometimes there are others, each circling the outer edges, occasionally bumping into one another, or into a group, jostling for a little while, then resuming the orbital path.

It was suggested that since a couple where know, I should sit with the first table, at least until the others arrived. Two more made Eight. Moved again, I joined three strangers on the second table. I was not looking forward to this.

Quite quickly it became apparent that this table was the table with the extrovert, bad enough, but he had an enabler, someone to feed his id, now I really started to question why I was there. I cannot speak for the fourth in the group, but his demeanour was that of a quiet reflect-full man also on his own, we were outnumbered.

Exercises to build ‘team spirit’ where a runaway, I have never been able to be heard against an extrovert. They run, I walk, if not sit. My ideas get drowned out by the enthusiasm extroverts create around them selves, at a certain point that energy is a repellant and I quietly drift back to the edge. This time however I was noticed, only by the course runner, but I will still take the notice, my ideas where heard and hints to the group were given, they were not heard though, the train had left the station and the passengers were chasing behind it.

The pattern repeated itself with each tasks, same old same old. Hints by the course runner could not have been more obvious to include, nay, listen to, the quiet ones, only to get squatted away like an annoying fly. I did things that I found uncomfortable, at one point I swear I was glowing with embarrassment. But I plodded along, right until the last task. A daft little task but my geek came out and it wanted to be heard.

Build a structure out of marshmallows and dried spaghetti, the tallest to stand on its own for thirty seconds wins.

What was being built lacked structural integrity, strength and geometry. I drew out a stronger design on paper, it was ignored, I tried to explain the reason why the structure being built would fail, it was ignored, or how I spoke was not understood, same result either way.  I then went as far as an engineering example of what I was saying, and with the help of the course runner I was finally heard. Then ignored again. Having seen the strength in what I was saying, the extrovert upgraded his design, but he didn’t need the bits he did not understand, so I was ignored. I got stuck in this time and did the structural cross-members and support beams whilst arguing the point of having a solid base. It was not easy, but each success was seen and copied on the other sides. We became an ‘awkward first date’ team, stumbling along but managing; just.

I have, in my past, helped to break in a horse, and I had the bruises and cuts to prove it, for days after I ached. This was comparable.

Time was called and the structure stood firm-ish, the top layer had not been finished so it twisted around on itself  but it stood up. We won.  The course runner gave tips, the biggest for me was that I gave up to easy when I had the best idea, because I had the best knowledge on the subject. “You just need to boost my confidence in yourself” she said “and fight to be heard longer”.

The course next week …Assertiveness.

With the biggest class she has ever had!

Someone somewhere is takin the ….

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Reflections… Week Five

What is it that makes us want to sing? It can’t be just pure emotions, to have the music lost would mean one was emotionless, that would be more positive than being stuck in the negative. So being stuck in the negative emotions means that one feels emotions, but the music is lost.

The reason that this has become an issue is due to joining a music therapy type group, with the aim of keeping my finger joints loose and learning to play an instrument, with the added benefit of noise exposure. Ten cats fighting in a tin room is what karioke sounds like to me.

Its not the fact I cannot play a tune, I am realistic in my expectations, its the fact I cannot hear a note, I am not tone deaf, I hear each part of the note not the whole. Let me try to explain, If an instrument has 3 strings and is in the key of D, all three are strummed to make the D note. For this example the strings are D,a,d. My brain, as awkward as it is of late, is hearing me play D,a,d and not the note D, no matter how fast I strum. Unless I play the instrument through an amplifier that is facing me, then I hear the note of D.

So play through an amplifier all the time then! I play like a beginner, definitely not something that you would want to make louder.

What does this have to do with the opening question?

Well there may be a connection. I do not have any desire to sing, I have not, on reflection, for a very long time. I listen to music, but nowadays it is part of a coping mechanism to control my audio stimulation, I do not sing along, even in the car, a non fiction audio book is preferred. Tunes, even annoying ones, are quickly forgotten once no longer heard, they don’t get “stuck”, annoying when trying to learn a song to play.

The playing of an instrument is as much a tool as it is the desire to one day play by an open fire at a campsite. In writing this I now know I have a desire, Progress.  So , I have desire and emotion but music is lost.

Where does the music go? I had it before the “breakdown”, never public scince choir; a mandatory position, as I was bass, and loud.  I play alone, so nerves are ruled out. Its not heart because I’m not heartless. So am I over analysing things, getting stuck in the anilitical process?

Am I having a thechnical Fault?

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017