Turn the damn tap off

Has anyone ever found a good way of describing the pain of grief/sadness/anger etc? I’m the only person in my family to have suffered mental health issues, and as much as people want to understand what depression is like, I really struggle to tell them.

I’ve been a bit up and down recently, but at the moment I’m in real pain. Not a physical illness, but a heaviness on my chest and shoulders, pulling me down. A knot where my heart is, straining to undo itself but never really shifting. I cried on Friday, because I really needed a hug, and couldn’t have one (ever). Not the right kind of hug, anyway. I’m drawn to sad, haunting music, and even though it’s probably not helping the situation something compels me to seek it out, to tap into some pool of grief or anger or whatever the hell this is, and try to release it.

Emotions are so basic. They don’t come with words or explanations included. It seems like they completely defy the rules of logic and reason.

I think I preferred being numb.


In motion

Yesterday I wrote that I was tumbling. Today I have to say that the slope I’m slipping down is getting steeper.

I’ve noticed that my concentration levels are returning to zero, which really dented my progress at work today. Despite the fact that I spent hours doing the same task over and over (with different data), I had to keep reminding myself what to do. Even writing this blog post, I find my brain flitting all over the place.

I’ve started sighing lots again (without realising), and my eating pattern is now just a mess of comfort eating/binging, and then some short-lived starvation.

If you put all that aside, and just look at the mental picture…it hurts. I wish I knew how to accurately describe what this pain is like. I can’t write it, I can’t draw it, I can’t sculpt it, I can’t speak it, and I end up daydreaming about blades because that pain, the resulting ache, and eventually the scar, are the only package I know that can express on the outside what’s happening on the inside. I tell myself I’ve moved on from those days, and try and shame myself by imagining having to confess a return to self-harming to Dr T, but those motivations are stretched thin when I don’t know how else I can really cope with this feeling.


A different kind of pain relief

Well, I may be stuck in Pain Central for a little while, but at least things are looking up. After a morning and afternoon of lying on my bed, moaning, watching TV (maybe 5 or 6 episodes of Nurse Jackie, 2 or 3 episodes of Prison Break – don’t judge me!) and reading, I decided I would try and go to the psych hospital for the next ‘Reasons Not to Kill Yourself’ appointment, rather than cancel it. The bus journeys involved were PAINFUL, but I’m pleased to say I managed!

There’s not a lot to say about the session itself; we mostly do these CBT worksheets (today’s was all about ‘my good qualities’), and chat. My reward for coming came at the end – Nurse L and I were discussing the problem of not being able to take much in the way of painkillers due to being on lithium, and she announced she’d call the Duty Doctor and see what he said. We were just expecting some advice, but he very kindly said he’d come and see us, and fifteen minutes later he took me to a clinic room for a physical examination. The good news is I haven’t done anything more serious than pull a muscle or two.

The doc said I should have codeine, and disappeared off with Nurse L to sort out a prescription…and Nurse L returned with ‘good news’ and ‘bad news’. I opted for the bad news first: the psych hospital is not licensed to prescribe medications for physical (rather than mental) illness. Cheers for that, NHS. Good news: I could buy a low dose of codeine from a pharmacy. I’m not sure that was good news. But to be fair, I discovered a box of co-codamol (codeine + paracetamol) in my pill stash last night and decided to give that a whirl, and while it didn’t help with the pain it did a semi-decent job of knocking me out. Fingers crossed it does the same tonight.

I have to say, I’m really impressed with the ways in which the psych hospital is helping me at the moment, because it’s almost a total contrast from before. Unlike my previous CPN, Nurse L is so caring – she almost glows with it, and I am delighted to be on the receiving end. She didn’t have to call the Duty Doctor, and then hang around 30mins beyond the scheduled end of our appointment, but she did. And the doctor didn’t have to leave the inpatient ward and examine me there and then, but he did.

In the UK at least we sometimes read about ‘postcode lotteries’ when it comes to healthcare, with some areas seeming to enjoy much better service provision than others. I’m learning there’s a temporal aspect to it too; it’s not just dependent on ‘where’, but also when you need help.

I’m feeling really well looked after at the moment, and that warmth is a form of pain relief in itself.

Pain Central

I’m living in Pain Central at the moment – I’m actually panting as I write this. I don’t know how I managed it, but I woke up this morning to find my lower back was hurting (again). Moving is Difficult, with a capital ‘D’.

I wrote yesterday that I was in physical pain (for different reasons), and ended up reaching for ibuprofen, despite the numerous warnings online about mixing lithium and NSAIDs. I regretted it, because my tongue and lips started to swell up, which was very scary. However, it only lasted a few minutes, and it wasn’t quite scary enough to stop me trying it again this morning for the back pain. It isn’t helping.

Grunting and swearing all the way, I forced myself to get on a bus and head into town so I could talk to a pharmacist – she said that if paracetamol wasn’t enough, I’d have to speak to my GP. I phoned my Mum and she said the same. And yet I’m VERY reluctant to actually do that…maybe this is silly, but I already see my GP at least once a week, and I feel like there’s something pathetic about turning up again. I’ve had to make emergency appointments twice before, and in my head the receptionists were judging me and my GP was fed up to find me back again (although in reality these were just projections).

So, grit my teeth and commit to lasting out the pain until I see the nurse on Monday, or grit my teeth and make an appointment for tomorrow? I hate myself for it, but I choose the pain. I’ll take it as easy as possible, and probably watch another couple of seasons of Nurse Jackie (great show!!). I wish I had more books to hand.

In theory I’m heading over to the psych hospital tomorrow evening for another round of CBT-inspired ‘Reasons not to kill yourself’ therapy with the wonderful Nurse L. Given my recent mood-improvement, it won’t be a disaster if I cancel it, but if I can move I will go.

I don’t like living in Pain Central. Someone find me a train ticket out of here!

Possessed again

Something’s wrong with me today, big time. All I want to do is hurt myself. That’s been the subject of the whole day. If I’m not physically doing it, I’m thinking about it. I want to destroy things, but I can’t – it’s not my house, and it’s not my furniture. I’m obsessed; when I took my keys out of my bag to let myself into the house, I couldn’t help but press the sharp edges into my skin. Every little opportunity for pain…

I can’t stay still. If I look at one thing or one place for any length of time, my eyes stop focusing. I can’t read, or even watch TV. I feel sick. 

And I got an email today telling me the chemical I ordered is on it’s way, and should be here Mon/Tues. I’m not going to give its name here, because it’s very dangerous and somehow, very accessible, at least here in the UK. I’m not going to be responsible for other people trying it. I bought it to knock myself out, but with this amount I’ll have enough to have ‘options’. 

I don’t know what to do with myself. I can barely communicate with the people in this house, and I’m currently hiding from them. I live with a family I know through the university – husband, wife and their child, and the wife’s parents are staying with us now, and today I’m horribly aware that I’m an outsider. Earlier this week I tried hard to integrate myself more, but the mood for that has gone.

I can’t stand this evil restlessness. I feel possessed again. And I find myself asking an old question: is this a form of mania? A year ago my psychiatrist wondered if I was bipolar, and that’s why I had to start doing mood charts. Dr T laughed at the idea, and it hasn’t been pursued, but could that psychiatrist have been right? Am I having some kind of manic episode????

I don’t know why I’m experiencing this, and it scares me.

I’m scared I’m going to open a blood vessel. And I’m scared of what will happen when that chemical arrives.

I should email Dr T and ask to see him on Monday. I should call my GP surgery and make an appointment. But I won’t. Now I have this chemical on the way, I’m worried I’ve crossed a line that has to be kept quiet. 

Blood. Bruises. Burns. Suffocation. No rational thought. Not even much emotion. 

I don’t understand any of this.

I must have been a murderer in a previous life

I am actually in disbelief at how twisted fate is at the moment – clearly mental health problems + work problems + cold etc is just too boring. Lets add in a nasty physical problem.

Around midday yesterday I developed a pain like a stitch below my ribs on the right side of my abdomen. It hurt, but stitches pass, so I didn’t think much of it. It didn’t pass, and four hours later it was a lot worse. It hurt to breathe, and it hurt if I didn’t breathe. It was very painful to touch that area, and walking up a flight of stairs had me panting in pain. I wanted to try and grin and bear it, and then take action if it wasn’t gone by morning, but at that level of pain the thought of holding on for over twelve hours was scary.

At half four I rather desperately phoned my GP surgery to ask if there was any chance I could have an emergency appointment with any of the doctors. The receptionist apologetically informed me that there weren’t any surgeries that afternoon, but she recognized my name and put me through on the phone to my GP. He asked about my symptoms, and very kindly said he would see me. After a physical examination, and a little lesson about anatomy, he told me it looks like I have a trapped gallstone, and prescribed voltarol and codeine. Except, he forgot to put the codeine on the prescription, but I was determined I’d manage without it. despite the comforting reassurance that this pain was the equivalent to giving birth. He also said he’d put in an urgent referral for an ultrasound.

The voltarol helped, and a few hours later the pain was much more manageable. I’ve had a few hours sleep, and now it’s like having a strong stitch, along with the joys of things like indigestion. I haven’t heard from the hospital about the ultrasound yet which is disappointing. And now I have to change my diet and try and cut out foods containing fat as they’ll trigger more pain.

I can’t quite get my head around this. Admittedly, although the pain has been severe, it isn’t like I’ve got a life threatening disease or anything like that. It’s just incredible timing. I come out of therapy finally feeling like I can get some work done, and half an hour later I’m being pushed to my pain tolerance limits (and I’m pretty good with pain), and begging for medical attention. Now I’m apparently facing further attacks like this, or surgery.

Cheers for that, fate. What next?