I haven’t been this close to tears for a while, but today has brought some jarring pain. I had my weekly appointment with Nurse L, which was supposed to be the last one before she takes a two week holiday. Except it turns out she won’t be coming back from this holiday; to use her own words she’s accepted ‘a more exciting job’ as a long term therapist. There will be no replacement.
I am really struggling to process all the thoughts and feelings this is stirring up.
Perhaps first I should give a reminder of who Nurse L is/has been to me: during my last (and worst) crisis, my psychiatrist referred me to a team of psychiatric nurses who support suicidal patients. Nurse L volunteered to take on my case. I’ve been meeting with her on a weekly basis at the psych hospital for what I have labelled ‘Reasons Not To Kill Yourself’ sessions.
In our first meeting, Nurse L asked a million and one questions about my situation, and then struck a deal with me: if I completed her ‘programme’ and still wanted to kill myself, she’d respect my death. Her optimism about the chances of her programme being persuasive amused me, but I agreed to the deal because I wanted someone, somewhere, to understand and respect my death.
The ‘programme’ was her compilation of worksheets borrowed from other books, and it pretty quickly ignored addressing suicide ideation altogether. But that was okay; we had some useful discussions about self-harm, keeping busy etc. It seemed a bit random, but the most important part of each session was the opportunity to honestly tell Nurse L how I was doing, with the hard, dark details I struggled to share with Dr T. I can’t describe how valuable that has been. Before Nurse L, if I had problems/thoughts/issues that were hurting me but I couldn’t tell Dr T about, I’d end up feeling very hopeless.
For the first time in several months, I found myself able to think about the future again. It became more real, and touchable, and actually stood a chance of fighting against the persistent suicide ideation.
More recently that fight has intensified, and my mood has been all over the place, as my recent posts probably suggest. And now I find I’m losing Nurse L.
On an emotional level, my heart screams the word ABANDONED, even though that isn’t true. There is nothing personal in this – Nurse L isn’t ‘leaving me’, she’s taking on a new job.
But this is opening an old wound, with scars that never healed properly. Here’s why:
– Last week my GP of two years left, without telling me himself. He was the person I trusted most out of pretty much everyone.
– Last year my psychiatric nurse discharged me, again without telling me. I found out six months later, after a long time wondering why she hadn’t contacted me like she said she would.
– I lost my first psychiatrist, who I REALLY liked, because he was an SHO on rotation and had to move on after six months.
This is why I maintain my defences around therapists, doctors, nurses etc. I’ve learned a clear lesson over time: THESE PEOPLE COULD DISAPPEAR AT ANY TIME. YOU CAN’T BE DEPENDENT ON/ATTACHED TO THEM, OR YOU’LL GET HURT. I know this holds back my progress in therapy, but the alternative is to be vulnerable to pain I can’t imagine – it hurts as it is.
It is such, such bad luck that Dr T went on vacation last week (until mid-September). And now I’m wondering when he’s going to quit on me, or disappear for whatever reason. We’ve had this conversation many times before, but given my history he can’t be too surprised.
When Nurse L gave me the news, I think I must have dissociated a bit; I was aware of her speaking, and the rough content of the words, but for the rest of the session I felt things collapsing in on me. I felt disbelief that this could be happening again.
And what adds to the pain is that Nurse L couldn’t get out of there fast enough. She didn’t even show me out of the room like she usually does.
We have a last appointment lined up for Sunday. I don’t know how I feel about that. Deep down I’m angry at her, but my brain says that isn’t fair, so I don’t want to take it out on her with an attitude. But even if I play normal, I don’t know how I can sit there and listen to her talking about mental health topics – we had a deal, and it’s been forgotten. Even if I remind her, there’s nothing she can do now to fill the deal. The ‘programme’ is unfinished, and will remain so. The deal that helped keep me alive was a sham, as made up as the programme was. I think it’s just as well she won’t be replaced by another member of the team; I couldn’t trust them.
And so the world becomes just that little bit smaller.