Thank Christ(ine) for Christine

A lot happened this week, but I have neither the time nor inclination to discuss it in detail. Perhaps next week. In summary: I saw Paul on Tuesday for our first ‘proper’ therapy session of the new stint. A bit of a weird dynamic was present – I babbled relentlessly, flitting from one random tangent to another rather than discussing anything remotely meaningful. Not that he agreed, of course; he opined, as he always does, that anything that runs through my mind (aside, perhaps, from “oh, look, the sun’s out” – though could that be read as an example of avoidance?) is worthy of raising in the therapeutic setting, and can give insights into my psyche. That said, he did admit at the end of the appointment that things had been a bit up in the air (I forget his specific terminology), and said we’d get down to some proper work next week. I await it with interest – but not at all without trepidation.

Last weekend I decided I was going to turn a corner of the kitchen into an office. I don’t think I can do much about it right now, but I think if I have a future, then I ought to have something to aim for – and I’ve decided that this will be professional writing. My dream: to register as a sole trader business, and make at least a part-time income from writing – and no longer have to claim at least some of my welfare benefits (I would like to think I could keep my Disability Living Allowance, on the grounds that the disability remains, but that in having my own workplace I don’t have to engage with general office tradition, which would exacerbate my illnesses). I know I’m capable of professional writing now – or, at least, I know other people think I’m capable, and that matters much more in this arena than my own self-assessments – and I’m building a few contacts. For now, that is all it is – a dream. A few commissions here or there doesn’t really mean much, but I’ve narcissistically (why is that not a word, spellcheck? Incidentally, why is spellcheck not a word when it’s the precise term WordPress uses to refer to this utility?) got it into my head now that I can achieve this if I don’t do myself in any time soon. When I mentioned the proposed office to A, he suggested that instead of setting it up in the kitchen, I actually reconvert our former study – lately, since the advent of The Everythinger, nothing more than a place for dumping stuff we can’t be bothered to sort out.

It seemed more palatable than the kitchen, admittedly: for one, it’s fucking cold in the kitchen no matter how long the heat stays on. Secondly, as I am not wont to be in the former study much, with a bit of re-configuration, it will feel more like an office than part of this house. Currently I do all my work sitting on the sofa with the laptop on my knee – but I do all my fucking about in this fashion too, and ergo it is difficult to associate the environment with work specifically. The study in many ways resembles – or will resemble, when I have it sorted – my office in my last job: small, but with everything necessary to get on with the task at hand. As such, I feel that I can ‘trick’ my brain into thinking that the proposed office will actually be a workspace, rather than a mere spare room.

We ordered a new desk, which arrived on Wednesday. I sat down to it last night and, aside from a few side panels that A had fitted, built the entire thing from scratch. It is (optionally) an ‘L’ shape, and has ample surface area, meaning that aside from the PC and laptop, I’ll have plenty of room to write by hand, consult the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, or study the professional writing course materials I bought several years ago.

All of that, particularly my suggestion about setting my writing projects up as a business, is a long way off – because right now I’m not a professional writer, but a professional mental. I even get paid for it! Though for how much longer?

As you may have gathered from the last couple of posts, things are dreadful. It’s at the point now where people are noticing: when I can no longer maintain a fa√ßade, then I know things are bad. My mother has even realised that the excrement has been liberally sprayed in the general direction of the thermantidote, and that is a tremendously dangerous sign, since I have always attempted to muster every last atom of energy my mind and body possess into convincing her that everything is fine (the reason being that she shouldn’t have to worry about me all the time).

As if things were not bad enough, therefore, when I got up yesterday morning and found an ESA50* form waiting for me, I thought I was literally going to have a heart attack – I hyperventilated so fucking much that I could see no way that my heart could continue to pump blood around my not-insubstantial body.

My ma immediately said, “we’ll take it to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.” Reasonable advice, to be sure, but she’d missed the point; the point was that, re-fucking-gardless of how competent the CAB may have been in the completion of the bloody thing, I would almost certainly still have to attend a medical examination with the fuckwitted social security agency. I know I’ve written in passing about one of my previous exposures to this immense trauma…where?…ah yes, here it is. (*This post also explains a bit about ESA ((which stands for Employment and Support Allowance)) to those of you outside the UK. Basically, it’s a disability/illness benefit – but it has two components that complicate it, which the aforelinked posts discusses). After that experience – and even regardless of it – I genuinely don’t think that I can go through another assessment of this ilk (or of any, come to that). Not any time soon; pipedreams or not, I’m still really ill. I told my mother that if I had to go through such an encounter, that I would end my life.

Fortuitously, I had an appointment with Christine in the early afternoon. Since the hospital in which I see her is close to the CAB, I took the form with me. I went in, sat down, when asked reported that since our last encounter everything was still appalling, uncopably (new word) terrible, and that “the icing on the fucking cake” had just arrived, at which point I pulled the ESA50 out of my handbag.

She shook her head in frustration – “everyone’s getting those bloody things!” – and I repeated my promise that if I was called to a medical I would commit suicide.

Christine said, “I’ll complete it for you. At least that will be a weight off your mind.”

“That would be brilliant, thank you,” I replied, “but won’t they still send for me anyway?”

She told me that she is getting the impression that the Social Securitcunts have been sending out the forms to weed out the few “scroungers” that exist in the system, and also to catch out those with a mild to moderate illness, who they (quite possibly erroneously) perceive as being able to work. She exemplified by telling me about a patient of her’s that has mild, borderline moderate, depression. “She’s been found fit for work,” Christine explained, “but honestly, Pandora, there are things she could do. Not everyone’s in that boat, and in fact most of my patients haven’t even been called to a medical, and these forms have been arriving through their letterboxes since the start of January.”

“Are you saying that you think I won’t have to go to an examination?” I checked.

“I’d make an educated guess that when I’ve finished with this” – she nodded with contempt at the form – “it’s highly unlikely.”

She smiled conspiratorially at me, but I pressed on with my concerns. She wasn’t saying definitively that I’d not have to go to the fucking thing, after all.

Eventually she said, when I had finished yet another monologue of social security-driven angsty misery, that if they did call me to an examination, that she and NewVCB would write to the bastards advising them that I would be unable to attend, as to do so would be “severely and dangerously detrimental to my mental health.”

I stared at my CPN in something akin to wonder. “Really?” I murmured in a small voice laden with disbelief.

“Yes,” she said definitely. “So don’t worry. I’ll deal with this, send it off to them, give you a photocopy at our next appointment – and if an ‘invitation’ letter turns up at your door, contact me, and we’ll make it go away.”

“Thank you,” I almost-sobbed. “Thank you. I really appreciate it.”

Christine dismissed my gratitude – not in an unappreciative way, just in the sense that she was happy to provide the service and information that she had – as part of her job. Then she said, “you’ll be horrified when you read what I’ve written. Try not to be. They need to hear the very worst aspects of your illness; yeah, some people could accuse me of extending the truth, but I don’t think that’s the case. The case is that all of what I am going to write has happened and even though you’re taking measures to control these things, the unfortunate truth is that they also have the potential to happen again…possibly at any point.”

“Why would I be ‘horrified’ that you accurately explained the most severe symptoms of my illnesses?”

She sighed. “The voices tried to get you to kill yourself. They tried to get you to kill your baby cousin. Cameras follow you wherever you go and GCHQ are obsessed by you. You’re endlessly suspicious of people, and are cripplingly anxious when you’re forced to be in any proximity to them. Some days you can’t get out of bed due to overwhelming depression. You have, at times, to be watched to make sure you don’t harm yourself. There will be occasions on which people have to remind you to take your tablets – or even make you do so.”

She paused, flicking through the form, then added that one of the key parts of the mental health section of the ESA50 was about interaction with other human beings. “Given the aforementioned symptoms, that’s not…er…well, it wouldn’t really work for you, would it?” Ah, the sweet scent of diplomacy.

We talked about other stuff. Paul. Writing. Mum’s cancer scare. Rhona’s operation (with which there were no complications but lots of pain followed by a hook-up to morphine, which was removed five days after the procedure and even then caused quite significant withdrawal symptoms). An increase in Lamictal to help me with this current vault of depression (she’s going to discuss this with NewVCB on Monday). The exact nature of how low I felt, not that I could quantify it in words. I was acutely aware that I was acting very differently around her from my norm; regardless of how I’m feeling, I usually witter on and on and on, engaging with her non-verbally too – often it belies the reality of my mental (ill) health, but it seems to come naturally around her anyway. This was completely different. I steadfastly avoided eye contact, one of their favourite observations, and apart from issues surrounding the ESA50, I didn’t speak much at all. In fact, to my abject horror and disgust, at one point I believed I looked like I was close to tears. I didn’t cry, thank fuck – I can’t imagine the shame that would have been wedded to that – but I suspect that Christine thought I was on the verge of it.

Anyway, she was brilliant. My current episode continues, and no doubt will not abate for quite a while – either more Lamictal will help, or the vileness of the low will end itself in some sort of cyclical fashion, or I’ll off myself before any improvement manifests. But for now, what would have been one of the most serious stressors this year – as if there have not been enough already – has been removed from my responsibility. I didn’t thank her enough, because I can’t thank her enough.

The only downside to her brilliance is that it makes me even more sad and distressed that thanks to non-sensical bureaucratic bullshit I may well lose her. Good mental health professionals like her, ones that actually seem to care about you, are sadly uncommon ūüė¶

I’m in a rush so haven’t proof-read this, for which my apologies are due to you. Please forgive the probable multitude of errors of grammar, punctuation and spelling in the foregoing. Thanks x

CPN Appointment

***Possible Self-Harm Triggers, Blah Blah Blah***

Saw Christine on Thursday afternoon for the first time late December. Explained all that had happened in the first few months of 2012 and how things are very, very shit. She seemed to be of the view that this is a depressive episode more generally, because of the self-harm in which I engaged before Maisie’s death (she views it as serious because I was trying to dig out the veins in my hands, and seeing if I could sever the tendons in my wrists. When I shrugged it off, she said, “you do realise that this isn’t…normal, don’t you?” I said that I didn’t know). All that has happened, of course, has not exactly helped me claw my way back up the slippery slope I’m currently navigating.

She was horrified to hear that, as I spoke, Paedo was sitting in my mother’s living room. I explained that the reason for his presence was my mother and the McFauls’ over-compensatory just because the matriarch is dead doesn’t mean we’re not still family!¬†routine. Christine opined that this must have been very difficult for me. I said that I didn’t care, but I don’t think she believed me.

Complained about either losing her or losing NewVCB; went on a rant (well, insofar as I was able to speak) about how much the health service has failed me in the past, and just as it had started to get things right, it was cunting them up again. I must have looked particularly distressed at some juncture because she appeared to think I was about to burst into tears – “that’s really¬†hit you hard, Pan,” she said, adding that the entire CMHT is furious about the changes – at which point I said that I do not do¬†tears and that even when I’m sitting alone in the house and feel the ‘need’ to cry, I do not permit myself to engage in said activity because someone will be watching me through the¬†clandestine¬†cameras that follow me about.

Naturally, this remark piqued her interest, and she asked if I really believed it, or if it’s just a feeling. I said that I knew it was ridiculous – “maybe they were right when they diagnosed me with a personality disorder, it’s just that they got the specifics wrong; it’s not borderline, it’s narcissistic” – but that I believed it nevertheless. Cue the usual questions about voices and visions, of which I was able to truthfully say there are none.

Either way, she was extremely concerned about my levels of depression. I laughed (if one can call such a hollow, cynical sound ‘laughter’) and said that this was nothing. I know how bad it gets, and this isn’t it – even though it’s heading distinctly in that direction, and has been for weeks. Christine said that in a sense this was good – might I be able to ‘get it in time’, she wondered, if I wasn’t yet at rock bottom? ¬†I shook my head. “By the time it’s got to this stage, it’s still gone too far to prevent it from getting to its worst. It creeps up on you so slowly and insidiously that when you get to ‘now’ – the realisation you’re spirally into the abyss – it’s virtually written in stone that the very worst of depressions will be upon you anon. Like a fixed variable in space-time.”

She kept asking me over and over again if I could “guarantee [my] safety”. I kept trying to make non-committal responses, but she wouldn’t let it drop. Eventually I said something along the lines of expecting to be alive at the time of our next appointment. She accepted that, but added that she wasn’t just¬†concerned about my trying to top myself; she was also worried that I’d engage in more self-harm, and this time actually succeed in doing myself some proper damage. I stated that I couldn’t guarantee¬†I wouldn’t do anything of that nature, but that I thought it was highly unlikely. As I told her, you need at least some mental vigour to engage in self-injury, and with each passing day I have less and less of such commodities available. Depression sucks out your very soul.

Christine nodded, but kept prattling on that my safety was the most important thing. Meh. Fuck my safety. Don’t fuck my safety. I don’t care either way. I was just glad that she let me leave without a shiteist¬†crisis team assessment.

She wants me back in two weeks rather than the usual month. In the meantime, I am to contact her urgently if things get notably worse or if I’m running helium cannisters through price-comparison websites again. I said, “I know you always say I can contact you, but can I actually¬†do so? Do you mean it?”

She seemed surprised by the question, and emphatically told me without breaking eye contact (which was odd, because I’d spent the entire appointment trying to avoiding looking at her – mental health professionals love it when you don’t engage in eye contact; it’s always splattered over your notes) that of course¬†she meant it, that she wouldn’t have offered it had she not, and indeed that she wanted¬†me to contact her if things get worse. ‘Get worse’ is a stupid phrase in context – of course¬†things will ‘get worse’. But I think she means ‘really¬†bad’.

I might take her up on it, assuming I can get out of bed.

End of terrible post, and of pathetic pity-party. Can’t be bothered to proof-read, for which you have my apologies. Love to all. xxx

Apropos of Nothing

Writing is a lonely profession (if indeed it can ever be turned into a ‘profession’). But that loneliness is somehow comforting in its own paced-ness, in its ability to protect one from the perils of the outside (some would say ‘real’) world. The pursuit, whilst thoroughly without guarantees and assurances, is still a safe one – published or not, you still have the pleasure of composition, and of knowing, eventually, that you have completed something that at least has potential, if to no one else but to you.

What this amounts to is this. I’m writing a book. I’m not wont to discuss it in detail on a public forum like this blog, but it is going to be mental health related. Many of you have inexplicably but kindly asked me if I would turn this very blog into a book, but that isn’t my plan at this stage, for two key reasons. One is the simple fact that the intended book’s concept is already very clear in my mind, and I don’t want to deviate from that while it’s so vivid. The second is that going through everything written here – post by post, word by almost-endless word – is one hell of a task to take on, especially when my mental health is still relatively fragile. I’d like to maybe do it some day, but not now. Sorry ūüė¶

Also, you see, in doing all the factual writing of late that I have – here, and in other arenas – I realised that I hadn’t done any creative¬†writing since…fuck, I don’t know. Since I was at school? Maybe even since my GCSEs? That’s a horrible realisation, to know that I’ve neglected a passion of mine for such a disgustingly long period. I used to love writing fiction, and I’ve only recently realised that I miss it.

So, The Book will be a fictional narrative. Whether it’ll turn out to be a novel, a novella or a short (as if!) story, I don’t yet know, but I don’t really mind whatever the case may be. I also don’t really care if anyone is willing to publish it or not; I mean, it would be lovely if someone did, that much is self-evident – but I’m doing primarily for my own pleasure. I had genuinely forgotten what escapism and what joy comes from such a simple pass time, and I’m revelling in it at the minute.

So I haven’t written much here this week, since the idea for The Book came to me. It isn’t just¬†The Book that is keeping me away, though the other factors are still within the literary realm – I’ve been reading voraciously, planning a few pieces of non-fictional writing, and even the odd non-writing bit of so-called creativity too.

I just thought I should post something, drivelsome and dull as this is, to show you that I’m still alive, and that I’m doing relatively well. Since I cut back on the Seroquel, I haven’t been sleeping well (unsurprisingly) and have had to resort to take Zopiclone on many nights. The new neighbours and their screamer are not assisting in my quest for slumber (they keep the strangest hours, especially for a family, that I’ve ever encountered. They arrive home, child in tow, about 11.30pm, then proceed to talk half the night on the phone, child still in tow. What the fuck?). However, beyond that, I’m OK. Things aren’t amazing, and I might be slightly depressed – but I’m managing, and given everything that’s happened over the last three years, at the moment I really think that that’s good enough.

And it is¬†three years. It’s just over three years now since I left my own little office for the last time. I noted above that writing is lonely, and it is. But having your own office,¬†glamorous¬†as it may sound, is¬†lonely¬†too, yet it doesn’t have any of the advantages that working from a laptop on your own sofa does. Nonetheless, I miss it in some ways: at least the people who worked in the offices bordering mine were, generally, good people, and were I feeling a bit lost, I could normally wander in next door and have a quick chat with them, before returning to my own quiet domain. I can’t do that when I’m sitting here typing all day.

To that end, as well as writing The Book, I’m applying for a voluntary job. I think I might have mentioned this before, but I’m finally going to do it, and whilst I’m extremely nervous, I’m also quite excited about its potential as well. I haven’t put in the application yet, but I plan to this week…and then we’ll see. At present, I’m only going to offer the organisation a few hours a week, but for the type of position I’m hoping to get, I suspect that for the moment that’s more than adequate. If not, and if it works out, and if I even get it¬†for that matter, I might be willing to increase the hours a little bit further down the line.

I don’t know why any of you like this blog, but since some apparently do (thank you!), please be assured that none of this means I’m winding it down or anything. I’m trying to plan the final posts on Paul, and a few other bits and pieces, so you can’t get rid of me that easily ūüôā I just won’t promise that I’ll post once a week or more, as I usually try to do. We’ll see how it goes. But Confessions¬†will remain, so worry not ūüôā This is very far from ‘goodbye’; it’s simply a boring “here’s where I’m at right now” update.

What else? The Everythinger is gone (YAY!), I’m seeing Christine on Monday, NewVCB at the start of September, and I’m probably going to re-contact Nexus some time next month to re-embark on therapy. Part of me dreads that for what I assume are obvious reasons, but mostly I feel reassured and hopeful about the potential of it, given how useful my last course with Paul was. I’m back into something of a routine now that both Aunt of Evil and The Everythinger are gone, A seems a little less stressed at work than he had been, and I’m relieved that both Daniel and CVM are both alive and well and that the stupid riots in England appear to be over.

And that’s about it really. That’s what’s been happening in Pan’s world of late. I hope your existence has been more interesting but at least equally stable, and that you’re all well and happy ūüôā

marketing

Writing for the Rockstar CPN

Sorry for yesterday’s pathetic rant. I’d initially made it a private post, but then decided to go ahead and publish it; what’s the point of a blog but for people to read it? That said, despite its moderate success (and as I am always harping on), Confessions is still written primarily for my own benefit, so I do still occasionally write private material, if I want to keep track of particularly personal issues. But by and large I like to have things available for others to read and comment on, as it’s a huge source of support and insight. Anyway, thank you for having the kind diplomacy not to tell me what a silly bitch I was being ūüôā

I’m feeling a good bit better today. The Everythinger is still here and the house is still a tip of epic proportions, but I’m a bit more rested than I was. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before, but I suffer from relatively frequent migraines, and when I got up this morning I felt one coming on. I’m relatively fortunate compared to some thus maligned in that if I act quickly, I can sometimes prevent it developing into a full-blown, lie-in-a-darkened-room-for-three-days attack, so I threw 2,000mg of paracetamol down my throat (yeah, I know, I know) and told the Everythinger that I was going back to bed for a few hours. This I did, and though I still felt rough when I did get up, another dose of paracetamol (yeah, I know, I know x2) and a few minutes to myself seemed to curb the problem. Now the sun is shining, the cats are not being their usual indifferent, offhand selves and the Everythinger is working outside, so I’m feeling relatively OK.

Anyway, this was going to be about Christine, was it not? I saw her a few weeks ago, the day after I went completely doolally thinking that there were secret, governmental cameras all over the house etc etc. Frankly I was petrified of seeing Christine because I know she remains surprised that I’ve never been hospitalised for my psychotic difficulties. To be honest, to be sectioned in Northern Ireland it seems to me that you have to run at a psychiatrist with an axe and 13 AK47s (which is odd because so many of you in the rest of the UK and, indeed, other jurisdictions have written about how a mere idle mention of, say, suicidal ideation can see the quacks telling you to accept an informal admission or be forced into the bin), and since I am hopefully unlikely to ever do such a thing (I have no idea where to get an axe or even one AK47 anyway), I’m hopefully safe. Yet it was still a passing concern because Christine has mentioned it a few times in the past.

Anyway, as you can see from my continued bilging here, on Twitter, etc, I was not put away. In fact, I was very surprised by her reaction to my episode; yes, it was disturbing, she felt, and yes, it must have been very unpleasant for me (no shit), but given all that had been happening (the burglary, Aunt of Evil, not seeing my mother because of the presence of Aunt of Evil, etc), she felt that I was still doing remarkably well. She was of the opinion that because I had managed to retain some insight, however small that had actually been, and because the whole thing had been fairly short-lived, that it was probably a response to the stress I had been under, rather than a mentalist episode per se.

She did ask if I felt it was the start of something more, but I found myself rather inclined to agree with the sentiments she’d already expressed. Nevertheless, when she said that I was to contact her urgently should it develop into anything – even the following week, when she was on leave! – I was most reassured. I laughed lightly and said, “it’s nice to know there’s someone professional I can talk to if this all goes tits up.”

Christine cocked her head, and asked me if that had not always been the case. I wryly recounted a redacted version of a conversation I once had with C, my ex-psychologist (I’ve made reference to it here, though I can’t find the specific post on the session in question):

Pandora: Who am I supposed to contact in a crisis? I mean, no one has given me the number of the crisis team, no one has referred me to a CPN or social worker, my psychiatrist [OldVCB at the time; her successor is completely different] doesn’t want to know. So what am I meant to do when I can’t cope? Who do I contact?

C: The Samaritans.

Someone commenting in the afore-linked post aptly stated that “…The Samaritans comment was particularly wank.”

Christine laughed when I told her about this, as I did in memory of it. I don’t recall what she actually said (I don’t keep the in depth notes on appointments with her and NewVCB the way I do with therapy sessions), but there was a derisive (of C) quality to it which made me feel both dryly amused and smugly vindicated. Since I’ve been discharged from Psychology and have a proper, decent psychiatric team looking out for me, I’ve been surprised and pleased by how many times they’ve either directly criticised NHS mental health services, or delivered loaded, highly implicative statements about same with coy but suggestively raised eyebrows. It delights me no end.

Anyhow, that was the last appointment, and I didn’t go completely batshit in its wake, so didn’t need to contact her urgently. Perhaps this is a case of the stick in the drawer is the biggest stick of all, in the same way that having a stash of Zopiclone and Diazepam is. In other words, having the option there is reassurance in itself; with that very reassurance, one does not need to access the option. So instead of having to arrange an emergency appointment, I instead saw her as normal yesterday.

Those of you that read the nonsense I wrote yesterday will know that I was absolutely fed up, so I just went into the appointment and told her so.

Stress and Routine

“It’s ordinary fed up, having said that,” I added. “About normal life, and the challenges it brings.” Yet again I find myself reminded of Sigmund Freud’s dictum that recovery from “hysterical misery” means an advancement into mere “common unhappiness”. I am finding the vicissitudes of “common unhappiness” more and more starkly present in my life as I find myself to be relatively symptom-free. There’s a small part of me that rejoices in that – she’d rejoice even more if I could be symptom-free (thanks, overpowering anxiety) enough to go back to work, mind you – it’s ordinary, it’s real, it’s a part of a proper life. The larger part of me sneers at this saccharine idealist, and laughs a bitter “fuck away off” in her general direction.

In any event, I moaned and moaned about my stress pertaining to the Everythinger and the state of the house in much the same way as I did here yesterday and in the post before that, citing the unmitigated exhaustion I was feeling pursuant to my defiance of the instructions of my demanding custodian, Seroquel. I left a very important detail out until the end of the appointment, however, which I will leave out until of the end of the review of this appointment, however. However, however, however. It’s a nice word.

We also discussed how I have hardly seen my mother at all over the last few weeks, initially due to the presence of Aunt of Evil and secondarily thanks to my having to be about A’s house so frequently to accommodate the Everythinger. She asked me how I felt about that, and I felt guilty saying that it was a probably a good thing – but, all things considered, it is.

Christine asked if my levels of irritability had gone up, and I admitted that they were at an all-time high. The thing is, little things my Mum does – perhaps unfairly – wind me up to the point where my entire body seizes up in a red-blooded, silent scream. By the same token, she loses it with me quite a bit (and doesn’t try to hide it) for reasons that are rarely clear to me – a tone of voice she has (in my view) misinterpreted, or something inane like that. And at present, I’m not the only one that is stressed and irritable as a result of circumstance; my mother pretty much hated every second of Aunt of Evil’s visit, and is only beginning to recover from the stress of it.

Aunt of Evil Visitations

One of the few times I have seen her in the last few weeks was when Aunt of Evil was still in the country. I met my mother one Friday afternoon and spent about three hours listening to her ranting about what a cunt AoE is (which was a bit of a failed conversion really; she was already preaching to the choir on that one). To cut a very long story short, AoE lashed out at everyone except her offspring, his bitch, and their young offspring. Everything was someone else’s fault; she demanded service and opportunities that should only be available to someone staying in a five star hotel with spa facilities; she complained when something wasn’t up to her perfect USian standards; she patronised anyone that she perceived as being less intelligent or interesting than her and her twats; etc blah yadda. Even her husband, of whom I’m not the biggest fan but whom I also don’t utterly loathe, was apparently not exempt from her fuckery – I was interested to learn that he was even heard to complain about his wife to my mother.

They all fucked off again back to America last Tuesday, to my mother’s, the McFauls’ and even Aunt and Uncle of Boredoms’ evident and expressed relief.

(Aside: in one of her less ranting moments, Mum advised me that despite all the Amazonian-scale water under the biggest bridge in the multiverse between AoE and me, AoE considers me “the daughter she never had.” I responded cruelly: “her attachment to me makes my hatred of her all the more amusing,” or some such. I mentioned this conversation briefly on Twitter, to which @bourach expertly replied, “next time she says that say, ‘well, she’s the aunt I never wanted’.” PLUS ONE, Ms bourach :D).

So in short what I’m saying is that, thanks to my aunt’s pavonine exploits, my mother is stressed too. Putting her and I together in such a potentially double-charged situation could lead to a few sparks flying in the heat of an ill-thought-out moment. I don’t like arguing with anyone, and least of all her, so it’s for the best.

Even so, Christine argued, I have an established routine of seeing her regularly, and that’s being broken. I do feel regretful of this, but more from my mother’s point of view than my own; she is getting on in years now, and lives alone. Yes, she has the golf club and the family to visit, but of course it’s not the same as living with someone and having the comfort of coming home to them. So I feel guilty about not seeing more of her, but there’s not a hell of a lot I can reasonably do about it when I have to keep to the schedule of the Everythinger.

Depression?

I must have seemed down to Christine, because she seemed concerned that my mood had dropped (overall, in her estimation, since the burglary). I think it has, in her defence – not like the body of the condemned dropping suddenly and sharply from the gallows (sounds like fun!), but slowly and insidiously trickling and meandering its way down a mountain. I’d say I’m only a little bit down that particular hill as of yet, but the fact that this is a concern to Christine in turn concerns me. I thought I was Almost Proper Well, Like.

So I responded to her apparent worry by insisting that even if things were slipping, that that was all they were doing. No avalanche, no impending disaster. “Indeed,” I continued, “I think today’s particular frustrations relate to being so overwhelmingly exhausted. I think it’s normal – or at least normal on 600mgs of Seroquel – to feel this bad as a result of this exhaustion and stress.”

“OK,” she said cautiously. “But I want you to call me if this gets any worse, OK?”

I casually nodded my apparent assent whilst averting my eyes from her cross-examining gaze. Despite my witterings earlier about knowing she’s there for me being a reassurance, realistically I have no intention of calling anybody. I don’t do phones. Why the fuck can’t they give out email addresses?! I would, happily, contact her then.

She later commented that she didn’t notice any other deteriorations, and I assume she was referring to hallucinations and delusions. Barring what I’d told her at the previous meeting, there have been none for a long time. This is undoubtedly positive, but it was never psychosis that put me in danger. Well, it was, but not in the chronic, soul-crushing fashion that the true black treacle of depression was, can do and – let’s fucking face it – probably will (though hopefully not any time soon..?). So, if my ‘mood is slipping’, I see that as a greater problem right now than the odd voice or delusion-induced panic, cruel and heavy as those of course are.

Non-Confessions Writing Projects

Bah. This is turning into an introspective examination of my mental health problems, rather than a report of yesterday’s meeting with Christine. What followed the above was a discussion about writing, and I told her that I had completed and submitted my piece on recovery from BPD to Rethink. For those interested, by the way, I’m not sure when it will be appearing in the members’ magazine, Your Voice, but it won’t be the Autumn edition because the editorial committee had something already lined up for that. The Editor – a lovely, helpful and supportive lady called Natasha (Tash) – will advise me of its publication date, and so I’ll keep you apprised. Tash was even nice enough to tell me to keep in touch with her and send her other interesting (as if anything I write could be termed ‘interesting’!) articles, which I thought was a really delightful parting gift ūüôā

Christine was all smiles about this. In a moment of madness – that, thank God(s)/Nagi/Vishnu/Allah/Morrigun/Xuan Wu/some pantheon combination of the lot of them/common sense, I managed to keep silent – I wondered should I take her in a copy of the magazine so that she can see her little writing prot√©g√©e in action. This would be what is known in the trade as A Very Bad Idea. The article links to this blog…do I want the professionals reading it? Nope; no matter how much they help me, no matter how much I feel I owe them (and I do have a strong sense of recompense towards her and NewVCB ((and, of course, Paul)), despite the many previous vacillations of the Health Service when it came to my care), I don’t think it a particularly wise idea for them to come across this nonsense.

Anyhow, what Christine didn’t know about – because it had all happened very quickly, and took place after I’d last seen her – was about how it wasn’t just Rethink that contacted me. The evening after I’d previously seen her, I was checking Twitter and found a direct message from @MindCharity, which is the account of that other big UK mental health charity, Mind (incidentally, they and Rethink co-run the Time to Change programme – if you haven’t already done so, you should follow the link and sign their pledge to end discrimination against mental illnesses). The tweet asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing one of the books Mind have short-listed for their 2011 Book of the Year Award. Um…yeah?!!

I wrote back and expressed enthusiasm, which was rewarded with an offer to send out an advance review copy of my choice of one of four (out of a full eight) titles. After a bit of dithering, I elected my tome, and it arrived the following Tuesday. I finished it on Wednesday last week, and sent the review off back to Mind, who will later publish it on their blog. I’m not giving any details away until then, however ūüėČ

This impressed Christine greatly – she seemed genuinely thrilled that I had been contacted in a completely unsolicited fashion by a major organisation about a fairly major event in their calendar. I have to say that I was similarly pleased – not to mention rather stunned. Why do you like this blog? What have I done to garner (potentially influential) people’s respect with my blatherings here? I don’t get it, but it’s flattering, humbling and exhilarating in equal measure. Thank you. ‘Thank you’ doesn’t seem enough, but it’s all I have.

On a roll of positivity, I then told her something that I’ve not really mentioned to anyone but A yet. I’ve actually decided to pull my finger out and look into a voluntary placement somewhere. I have a position in mind, but I haven’t applied for it yet, so won’t give out any details, suffice to say that it’s in this same general arena – writing about and awareness raising of mental health issues. I’ve no idea at all if I’ll get it, but the two projects detailed above must surely stand me in good stead, as must my current editorship of TWIM (yeah, I don’t know how that happened either!).

Clouds

However, all those silver linings belong to clouds. They don’t just shiver and shimmer around a perfect blue sky by themselves, much as that would be desirable. The following issue pertains to a friend of mine, so I don’t want to discuss the details here, but I will state that her difficulty is directly affecting me too – and could, in a peripheral but still intrusive sort of way, be contributing to any whisperings of depression on the wind that is my life. However, Christine was extremely supportive and reassuring in relation to this matter, so I mostly feel assured that I can cope with my friend’s problem.

So, all in all, it was (as usual) a good appointment. “But!” I hear the eagle-eyed amongst you mutter. “You said there was a very important detail to share, Pan! Do tell, or we’ll spam your inbox from here to eternity.” I’m very wary of any so-called meat put into cans – a feeling surely shared by anyone else who played GTA III – so I shall, indeed, oblige.

As things were drawing to a close, she said, “so, is there anything else we need to discuss?”

I shrugged ambivalently, and looked away.

#lyingfail

Unfortunately for me, I must have looked away in the wrong manner, because she picked up on some sort of vibe of dissent. Examine the following scene from L A Noire:

LIAR!!!

LIAR!!!

Observe how our suspects angularly holds his jaw and avoids the gaze of the interrogator. Moreover, observe how he directs his eyes upwards. (This is actually a bad example, because he’s looking up and to the left, whereas I understand that looking up and to the right is more indicative of falsifying statements). Do you press Truth, Doubt or Lie?

I do have a vague recollection of looking up, to the right, whilst sort of biting my upper lip, at which point Christine had licence to hit the figurative ‘Doubt‘ option. (She can’t press ‘Lie‘ unless she has clear and present evidence to back it up, mwhahahaha! Oh, how I wish life were as simple as gaming).

I am absolutely disgusted with myself. I used to be a fucking excellent liar – what the shit has happened to me?! OK, so that’s an admission not to be proud of, but let’s be (ironically?) honest for a minute here: lying does come in useful when dealing with certain individuals and certain circumstances. How many times have you lied to a mental health professional? How many times have you told a so-called white lie to avoid hurting someone? How many times have you lied by default? Yes, just like that time your boss came in and said, “here’s 50,000 pages of turgid fuckwittery to proof-read and edit. Can you do that by yesterday, please?” and you merely smiled in response, leading him or her to believe that that was absolutely hunky-dory.

Seroquel Manipulation

Right, right, OK, I’ll get to the point. Christine realised that my shrug meant that there was something else I had to bring to the fore, even though I didn’t want to. I screwed up my face in an expression of embarrassed expectation and said, “I’ve decided I’m a consultant. I’ve cut back on the Seroquel.”

I waited for her to wince, or to bollock me, but instead she said, “by how much?”

I bowed my head and looked up at her meekly. “By half,” I admitted.

Then she winced.

In the end, she had mixed feelings about it. She said that it’s not always the worst thing to decrease a dose of something, particularly something that so potently affects one’s ability to do anything, but by the same token she did (reasonably enough) opine that to cut a dose of an anti-psychotic in half is potentially conducting playgroup in an incinerator.

She instructed me to call her “the second anything happens”. In this case, assuming I’m not …told… not to, then I actually will. I asked her should I just start taking the higher dose again if anything happens. Curiously, she said no – again, I was to call her first. I reluctantly agreed to this (reluctantly because it’s the cunting, fucking, shitting, bastarding phone), and also agreed to discuss it in full with NewVCB next month. I’ll see Christine before that though, on 22nd August.

And that was really that. I have to admit that, generally speaking, things have so far been fine since I cut my dose of Seroquel. No voices, paranoia, no significant mood drops other than that which has been already discussed and accounted for. What I’ve noticed, though, is that whilst I’m still stuffing my fat face, I’m slightly less out-of-control on that front than I was, and I’m slightly less lethargic than I was, say, last week. It’s not a huge difference, but (a) it’s a start and (b) it’s very early days.

Bye

Anyway, well done to anyone who got this far. It’s after 11.30pm now and I’ve been writing this on and off since about 4pm – in between bouts of reading, examining the crimes of H H Holmes and random mysterious disappearances, plus other silly, mostly self-inflicted intrusions. But I’m still in relatively good form, all things considered, so I’ll depart on that hopefully-non-shit-for-you note. Goodnight x

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Feeling Sorry for One's CPN

This pseudo-recovery thing has its downsides. I miss writing this blog with the frequency that I used to, and yet when I sit down to knock out a few (a few! Me?! As if!) paragraphs, the will to do so seems to vanish. I think it’s not so much that I miss the actual writing, although now that I’m actually doing so I can entertain the notion that there’s an element of that, but more ruefulness about the lack of a finished product – the completed posts and the resulting frame of personal reference, and the comments and the resulting support. Some of you have been lovely enough to state that you miss my former regular writing too. I’m sorry about that; it just feels like there’s very little to say at the minute, other than to harp endlessly on meetings with Paul. Of course, confronting the therapy session reviews that the blog is owed in its own self-styled way – now four in total – means remembering said sessions. And remembering risks feeling. That’s a sort of scary prospect when you’re playing with a fragile sense of sanity.

That said though, I have determined that before the end of this week, I will catch up on at least two of them. So if you don’t see at least ‘Paul – Weeks 19 and 20’ by, say, Sunday evening, please feel free to bollock me senseless.

I saw Christine last week. In many ways it was an inconsequential appointment (not that that’ll stop 4,024,203 words spewing out on the subject), in that very little had changed since my previous encounter with her. I said so, then just looked stupidly at her, trying desperately, and failing miserably, to think of something further to say to her.

In the end, I referred to the suggested writing projects to which she had alluded in the previous meeting. I was very good and contacted quite a few of the mental health charities – Northern Irish, Irish and British. Christine was delighted with this turn of events. I suppressed a smug smile and neglected to inform her that I’d only fired off the emails that morning so as I wouldn’t take a bollocking from her. Granted, she doesn’t seem the type to start bollocking people, but in NHS mental health services, one can never be sure. I’ve learnt that the difficult way.

Incidentally, I’ve had two replies to my emails – one from the Mental Health Foundation, and one from the ever-excellent Rethink. The MHF kindly tweeted about my blog, and Rethink have suggested either writing* blog entries for them, or contributing to their magazine, Your Voice. As a Rethink member, I’ve read said periodical for a few years now, and have often thought of submitting a piece to it – the problem was, and still is, identifying a meaningful topic. I just spout dribble here, for the most part, and that seems kind of inappropriate for such a publication. The idea of blogging for them is really cool, especially as there’s an outside chance of becoming a regular guest writer – the same issue applies, though. I’ll have to consider what I may want to write about carefully.¬†So as yet I’ve not replied to Rethink (if you’re reading this, nice Rethink people, I apologise); I want to formulate some ideas that would be worth their audience’s time. When I have done this, I’ll submit them and cross my fingers.

[* I know I said above that as soon as I sit down to write here, my muse fades (it frankly runs and hides in cavernous holes at times). Why would writing for Rethink be any different? I think that maintaining my own account of things is the most important thing I can do but, at the same time, doing something – writing included – for someone else makes it more…urgent? Of utilitarian value? Full of drive, perhaps? Whatever the case, there is something behind it that, if I can identify the right subject(s), will spur me on. But I won’t neglect my old friend Confessions, I promise. Not any more than I’m presently doing, anyway ūüė¶ Nasty Pan :(]

Anyhow, back to Christine. She was seemingly thrilled that I had “taken the initiative” (an odd expression to behold when it was she, not me, that had suggested the aforementioned course of action) and that it was a “really positive step” symbolising my taking some responsibility in this odd venture towards some sort of mental health. Or some old faff like that (sorry, but I don’t remember sessions with her or NewVCB in the level of detail that I do for therapy, as I never take notes on them in their immediate¬†aftermath). I suppose that I am meant to welcome her enthusiasm, but frankly I don’t. I am terrified that if she and/or NewVCB are under the impression that I’m ‘well’, that they’ll discharge me from Services. I’m well-er (there’s a new word for you) than I was; that much is evident to anyone who’s been in contact with me over the last few months (whether in real life, or here in the e-ther). But I am far from recovered. As NewVCB once put it, I remain a “very disturbed young girl” (given that I’ll be 28 this year, I dispute the use of the word ‘young’ ((and perhaps even the word ‘girl’)), but perhaps that’s not something about which I should complain too much). No, this is a good period – but I don’t know how stable ‘good periods’ are, or are meant to be. I’ve never had one in these kind of circumstances (ie. going through/having been through therapy) before.

Christine claimed that I was looking well. I thanked her for lying, and was rather taken aback when she seemed to be amused by this response. I was wearing a black dress and sandals; for some reason, this was deemed to be significant.

One thing you have probably guessed about me but which I haven’t, to the best of my recollection, stated explicitly before, is that I am about as far from domesticated as my ancestral amoeba were. Probably even more removed from domesticity than that. I occasionally cook (I can rustle up quite a nice, vaguely take-away standard hot curry when I put my mind to it) and throw clothes in the washing machine, but I do absolutely fuck all else about the house (and before someone asks, no: A doesn’t normally do it for me. He does his own stuff and that’s that).¬†This includes giving a flying green shit about my clothes. They’re piled up in a huge box in the kitchen where I throw them to get them out of my way. On this occasion, the black dress was on the top of the pile; it was not chosen as some measure of a welcome of spring or some such other o’er-prosaic wank. ‘Twas a confluence of events assured entirely by the forces of Random Luck.

“Does wearing [the dress] increase your confidence?” Christine asked, grinning from ear to ear like something out of a Lewis Carroll novel.

“No,” I replied, puzzled by the question. “Why would it?”

She made some dull remark about ‘dressing up’ or something. I laughed in her face (sort of, but less cynically than I’ve tended to do with others in the CMHT. After all, she doesn’t know me that well yet) and advised that I could be wearing a bin bag or Kate fucking Middleton’s wedding dress (which, incidentally, was underwhelming, not that I give a toss – you just couldn’t avoid encountering such things with the media in this country being such utter bellends) and I wouldn’t feel any different. It’s not that I think I’m hideously ugly or anything – it’s just that one piece of clothing is much like another to (and on) me.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that A and I are going on holiday later this month; I imparted this information to Christine, too. The usual pre-holiday question, reasonably enough, ensued; how do I cope with being away, being in a new place, blah blah? I confessed that whilst I am very much looking forward to the trip, I feel a subtle but definite amount of apprehension about going somewhere completely new. Last year, we went back to Turkey as we’d done the year previously, so I bore no such concerns – this year, it’s Fuertaventura, which is an unknown quantity. The reports from friends and from our own investigations are splendid, but I cannot be certain that they are accurate until I have experienced the place myself. As you know, unknowns scare me.

I told her so, and she offered to see me before I went left Norn Iron – which is within a shorter timescale than the gaps my meetings with her have been hitherto – so that was a good thing. Generous and thoughtful of her, I thought. I am to obtain additional Diazepam from the quacks should I need it, she says (not that that’s going to happen, as the chances of me seeing Lovely GP before 21st May is virtually nil. All the patients know that he is good and that the others are cock, so he’s booked up for weeks on end). Take Zopiclone in case my sleep is fucked. The usual really.

I said that one concern is that, whilst the travel insurance company are aware that I’m mental, the actual insurance doesn’t cover psychiatric issues of any description. We could have bought it, but it put the premium up by an absolute fuckload, and whilst it’s a peace of mind issue, on the balance of probability I’m not likely to have an episode that would require acute treatment, so it didn’t seem worthwhile to procure it. Christine, like myself, is of the view that the holiday is more likely to relax me than anything else and that if I’m going to go doolally all over again, then it’s not likely to be then. Well, fingers crossed.

She mentioned that she’d been to Fuertaventura and that it was “lovely”. I asked her what part, but in her reminiscing, she forgot to answer my question properly – not that I minded. She talked of her hotel and how it was a good bit outside a town.

“I like to go to quiet places,” she murmured quietly and reminiscently. “I travel on my own, so I like it to be…well, quiet, you know.”

I nodded expressionlessly, but I suddenly felt overwhelmed by a sense of great sadness. Here is this ordinary but good woman, in my estimation genuinely trying to help people rather than just earn a living, and she seems to be alone in the world. (She could have a husband/wife/partner and travel alone, yes, but is it really likely?). That isn’t fair. I mean, I know life’s not fair, but really. I hate the injustice of that. There are so many epic, epic twats – twats of arrogance, or of bigotry, or of whatever – out there that sport some bint or some dick on their arms and live long, contented, 2.4 nuclear perfected lives together. Then there are lovely, sincere, down-to-Earth people who are kicked in the face with sand by life. Fuck that.

I mean, maybe she’s gratefully alone; it happens, after all. But her body language, her lack of eye contact, the wistful way in which she spoke – I’m not so sure. And what can I say to her? How can I admit to this sense of profound sadness, regret and even on-her-behalf longing? She’s my CPN, not the other way around! So I cowardly lowered my head, and waited for the subject to move forward.

What has gotten into me? This whole craic of pity doesn’t sit well with my ‘Hard Bitch’ attitude (an attitude which, I was told today by Paul, I have never had. Paul met me when I was 26. I met me when I was 0, which strikes me as being a considerable head-start on what he has. So why does he profess, apparently in earnest, to think contrary to my own assessment?!). It must be a whole pre-30, slightly-more-than-third-life crisis thing. Or maybe I’m still just completely batshit mad, and managing to do a good job of disguising it, even to myself.

Anyway, for some reason we ended up having a discussion regarding Zopiclone. I admitted to her that I receive repeat prescriptions of it, but (perhaps not entirely surprisingly) I¬†omitted¬†the detail that this was simply down to an administrative error. This led Christine to believe that it was a doctor-sanctioned thing. Which, when you think about it, it is – technically. I mean, someone has to sign the monthly scripts, right? And anyway, I didn’t lie to her. And lies of omission don’t count. Because I said so, in case you’re wondering why.

The long and the short of the conversation was that I have an absolute shitload of Zopiclone lying about the place. As I told her, this is because one of these days the GPs’ practice will realise I’ve been receiving a repeat prescription of the stuff since the dawn of time (or at least since NewVCB prescribed it on a one-basis last year, anyway) and desist my allowance of it forthwith. She frowned slightly and, a trepidatious concern lacing her words, said, “you’re not planning to take an overdose with them, are you?”

I wanted to laugh at the suggestion, but I managed to control myself and instead shot her a wry smile.

“Most certainly not,” I assured her.

She raised her right eyebrow questioningly.

“I suppose I could OD if I wanted to self-harm, but it’s not at all my MO,” I told her, probably a little too matter-of-factly. “If I want to do myself in, however, believe me – there are more efficient, more reliably lethal, more peaceful methods than a few too many Zopiclone.

“But,” I added, realising I was making myself sound like I was her intellectual, psychiatrically-aware superior, “I’m sure you know that anyway.”

She ignored my secondary dictum and asked, “are you still having suicidal thoughts?”.

“Of course,” I replied, incredulous at the idea that I might not be thus afflicted. “How could I not be?”

She asked me about the severity and nature of them, I answered her honestly, blah de blah. “Basically it’s just everyday fantasy,” I concluded.

“‘Everyday fantasy’,” she repeated. “I know we had this conversation before, but it seems worth exploring again – you do know that suicidal ‘fantasy’ [the word was spoken with heavy…I don’t know. Irony?] is not…it’s not…normal for most people?”

She was right; we have had this discussion before. But I just can’t believe it. How can anyone not at least have some daily suicidal thinking, even if it doesn’t translate into exact, in-depth plans? How is that even remotely possible? It just does not compute on any level in my mind.

Christine, however, assured me that it is indeed the case. “Most” people, apparently, do not live with daily (or even less frequent) suicidal ideation to any extent.

In return, I assured her that I had no active plans to catch the bus, and that is indeed a truthful account of circumstances as they stand. But I don’t think I will ever not have at least peripheral suicidality permeating my mind. I truly don’t know anything different, and – AGAIN – I don’t believe in cures for mentalness. As long as such ideation is mere fantasy, though, I presume that I should interpret it as a mental health win.

A few further questions ensued, mainly about getting out of the house. I try to avoid it, meh. But you do do it? If I really have to, yes. Do you see friends much? No. Why? One lives in London, one works two jobs, something always happens to prevent my meeting a third (the ‘somethings’ have become increasingly ridiculous over time. It’s now a bit of a running joke between us). But! Hark. I am meeting said third friend (Aaron, if you care) on Monday after therapy. That’s great! Is it? Yes. But it’s…well, it’s ordinary. People meet their mates all the time. It can be ordinary, but when you’ve been as isolated as you have, it’s actually a really good step forward. Um…OK.

I did meet Aaron today and it went well, as it always does when we manage to circumnavigate fate and actually get to fucking see each other. There is little to report here, though, because as I said – meeting a friend is¬†ordinary. Normals do this all the time. I rarely do. I like Christine, but I’d rather she’d just have call a spade a spade. Fuck the terms ‘isolation’ and suchlike – just say that it’s not ordinary for a mental, but that it is for normals. That’s what she meant, after all. I know that I’m not a normal, and I don’t mind that. It’s OK.

A final matter that was addressed was, unsurprisingly, Paul. I reiterated to her that despite the views of “some” (namely her and NewVCB, but I couldn’t bring myself to be so direct; it would have felt accusatory), the impending end of my Nexus therapy was not about feeling “abandoned” or some old wank like that.

Instead:

“There has been a lot of productive work done with him. I therefore know that the therapy works. However, there’s an awful lot still to do. By Paul’s [and, indeed, the general literature’s]¬†own admission, this kind of trauma therapy should be conducted over two or three years. To use his terms, my…issues…were severe, systematic and long-term. That can’t be adequately dealt with in 26 weeks. So I’m¬†regretful¬†of the fact that things are drawing to a close, because I know it helps, and I know that it could continue to help.”

I went on to tell her that Paul had suggested that once week 26 has been and gone that I wait a few months, then simply go back to Nexus. “Which is good,” I conceded, “but I’ve convinced myself that despite Paul’s best intentions, it won’t happen and I’ll be therapeutically fucked. Again.” (Actually, I’m sure I didn’t use the word ‘fuck’ in the meeting; I’ve yet to make my assessment on how acceptable such parlance is to her. But you know what I mean).

“I’m sure he wouldn’t say that if he didn’t honestly feel that it was going to happen,” she offered.

“I know, I know, but…bah, I just can’t convince myself of it.”

She nodded sympathetically. “Have you any plans for those months in between the two stints?”

“Well…I was hoping to ask you about this, actually,” I began. For some reason, it felt like I was asking her to sacrifice her (possible) children to Satan, and I started stammering and bumbling like the idiot that I am.

“I…well, I…er…I kind of wondered…um…yes, wondered…well, if maybe…perhaps it would be p-p-possible, just maybe and if not it’s fiiiiine [hideously over-emphasised, thus proving that it is/was not ‘fiiiiine’]…if maybe, y’know…you could…well…see me, meet me…[massive clearance of throat]…I was wondering if I could maybe see you more often during that period than I currently do.”

After all my moronic mumbling, she didn’t take a second to even consider the request. Instead, she¬†immediately¬†nodded – and nodded emphatically. “Of course,” she said. “That would be absolutely no problem at all.” She smiled reassuringly.

Thank God!

And (finally) that was really that. One further thing she did do was try to¬†negotiate an appointment with NewVCB before our holiday – I’ve been asked to attend during the holiday, which is obviously impossible if one is 3,000 miles south of the proposed meeting place. Unfortunately, though, the next appointment isn’t until 8th June – but that’s only a week after we return, so it could’ve been worse. Hopefully NewVCB will have the results of my recent ECG, enabling us to discuss whether or not I should brace myself for a daily hit of 375mg of Venlafaxine.

3,000 odd words to say something really rather simple. Christine is a likeable and gentle person, and despite it being fairly early on in our alliance, I already believe that she wants – and will seek to get, insofar as she can – the best for me. I left her office feeling reassured and pretty positive about my current care team. I hope I’ve judged the current situation well – I’ve been known to fuck things like this up in the past. But I think she is a good thing. I’m pretty confident about it, actually.

And I still feel sorry for her. Which is wrong on so many levels – it shouldn’t be like me, and moreover it isn’t my place to take pity on the woman. She is, after all, her own person with her own agency. But I can’t shake off this sense that she maybe doesn’t have the lot in life that she actually deserves, and that continues to sadden me greatly.

I’m seeing her again on 19th May.

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It's My Birthday, and I'll Die if I Want Two

It's My Birthday, and I'll Die if I Want To

Fortunately (or unfortunately) for the not entirely insignificant number of readers this blog has, I don’t ‘want to’. Or even ‘want two’. Even if my posting here has dried up markedly of late, my little corner of cyberspace intends to remain alive and well for the foreseeable. The picture above amused me, and made me think back to some of my most suicidal days earlier this year, and thus I thought it was apt that I bring it to you along with my news…

…which is the announcement that it’s fuckin’ party time. Confessions is two years old today!

A Will Like This

This time last year, I wrote quite a long post with a sort of “where I’m up to at this point” theme, plus some stats. I’ll do the stats bit again – renewed for the blog’s second birthday – because that’s always kind of entertaining, but in terms of the ‘my life in the last year’, I’m not going to bother detailing everything that’s happened; instead, I’ll just note a few major events and hat-tip a few significant people.

Life and Times as a Mentalist

There were four major developments in my life of madness in the last year:

  1. Therapy with C ended, pretty much destroying my life.
  2. Therapy with Paul started, pretty much making my life better.
  3. I started taking 300mg of Venlafaxine and 600mg of Quetiapine, and the prescribing NewVCB proved herself to be thoroughly on my side.
  4. I was allocated a CPN.

2 – 4 inclusive have had the surprising but highly gratifying effect of improving my life, to the extent, indeed, that last month I realised I could no longer be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Whilst I still struggle with issues relating to complex PTSD, am frequently afflicted with (sometimes very debilitating) anxiety and know severe depression will once more return, I am, right now, doing fairly well, and getting rid of borderline (even if it’s unofficial) feels like a big deal. Life is OK.

In these ways, it feels like I’ve come on a long way in the space of a year (particularly in the space of the last few months), and I feel ever so slightly proud of this. However, it could not have been done alone: Paul, NewVCB and (to a lesser extent, but only because she’s new) Christine have been invaluable in the relative success of this process. In personal terms, A, my mother, my regular blog readers and Twitter friends have all been worth their weight in gold too. Thank you all for your continued support.

Blogging as a Mentalist

In terms of stats, the blog at the time of writing has 243,724 hits. Just short of the magical 250,000 that I’d hoped (though not really expected) to get, bah!!! I know that, in terms of blogging overall, this isn’t a huge amount – but in terms of a personal blog about a personal subject by a personal, provincial non-entity, it’s not bad. It’s certainly exceeded by expectations by…well, by about 243,273 hits, I suppose. I don’t think I’ll ever understand what it is that you like about this blog, but whatever it is, I’m humbled by it and very grateful for it.

I don’t think it would be a huge exaggeration for me to say that blogging has saved my life. At the very least, a combination of this and Twitter has; without the support that I have been almost unconditionally offered through these ventures, I strongly suspect that I would have caught the bus sometime in the last two years. I’ll never be entirely grateful that I’m alive, I suppose – I still can’t understand how some people aren’t suicidal. How the fuck does that work?! How the fuck can that even be?! But still, as of right now, I’d probably rather I have my life than I didn’t – and a large part of that can be attributed to the never-ending friendship and encouragement that you lot have shown me.

I got more blog awards over the past 12 months – see here and here for the main ones, and here for others that I somehow managed to rack up along the way.

The most popular posts this year were:

  1. Thoughts on the DLA Changes in the Budget – 6,501 hits
  2. BPD vs C-PTSD – 1,841 hits
  3. Self-Harm: A Warning – 1,012 hits
  4. Suicide – 950 hits
  5. Suicide Attempt Epic Fail – 832

The most popular static pages have been:

  1. About the Author – 2,811 hits
  2. NEW? Start Here! – 987 hits
  3. The Alter Ego – 953 hits
  4. A Mentalist’s Glossary Р719 hits
  5. BPD & PTSD – 592 hits

Over the last 12 months, I’ve had an average of 16,330 hits per month, and with the data available (only about six months’ worth), I see that, at a rough average, I’ve had between 3,000 and 4,000 hits a week and about 500 daily visits. Even when I haven’t posted for a while, for whatever reason there still seem to be about 200 – 250 hits daily, but this goes up notably when I do write more regularly.

The top three traffic providers have been StumbleUpon, Twitter and BlogSurfer. The top three other blogs sending visitors here were Bippidee (her old blog, and for the second year running), Mental Nurse (RIP) and My 13th Sad Day.

The top search terms arriving here are:

  1. (Confessions of a) Serial Insomniac (and analogous terms) – 2,474 hits
  2. DLA Changes (and analogous terms) – 2,229
  3. C-PTSD – 274 (bit of a gap there)
  4. Peccary – 248 (yes, I know – how odd. It’s because the picture on this post ranks highly on Google Images).
  5. Mental Nurse Blog – 238 (lots of people missing it, then)

Mentalist Acknowledgments

This is always difficult, but let’s give it a whirl. Mega thanks to bourach, Phil Groom, UselessCPN, Narky, Maria, Maybe Borderline, Sanabituranima, Seaneen, Little Feet, Autumn Delusions, Zarathustra from the erstwhile Mental Nurse, Kate (all three Kates!), Tit Flasher, MCBL, Splint, tai, Clarissa, Ali, Nick, Null and Mental Spaghetti. Thanks also to all of those on Twitter that I regularly chat with, and indeed those on Facebook ūüôā (Please, please do not be offended if you’re not mentioned here – it’s me that’s shit, not you. I’m sure I’ll come back here to add people as Venlafaxine memory-lapses allow me!).

Many thanks as always to A, Mum (not that she’ll see this), Daniel, Brian (not that he’ll see this either), Aaron (not that he likes to be called that), CVM, K and everyone from the Mad Up.

Meh

Things have changed around here lately; because I’ve been keeping relatively well, my writing on Confessions has gone down proportionately. But make no mistake – my recovery is far from complete. It’s started well, but there’s a fuck of a long way to go. This blog will continue until, at least, I am able to return to normal, paid employment. I’ve no idea if I’ll have achieved that by May next year – probably not, I’d guess, for even if I feel ready for it, the economic climate is still pretty shit. Even if it does happen by next May, I do have to keep you updated here and there, don’t I? And also, I’ll probably still be under Paul’s care then, in our second run of therapy. And who am I to deny you your vicarious therapeutic pleasures?! (Before someone says it, I know you’re owed three session reviews. Soon. Really. Yes. Honestly, soon. I promise. Yes! I really do!).

So I think Confessions will see its third birthday, at least. Whatever the case, thank you all for all your comments, emails, tweets, FB messages, RTs and so on. Thank you for the never-ending support and encouragement. And thank you for making this venture the modest but important success that it has become.

Much love

Pandora ‚̧ xxx

marketing

Mentalist Appointments and Other Boring Faff

I’ve been very sick this week. I was throwing my guts up and, to be euphemistic, losing matter at the other end almost¬†continuously¬†from Monday morning to sometime yesterday. Well, not quite; what happened on Monday was that I was sick (as in throwing up) from about 9.30am to 2.30pm straight, meaning that I had to cancel my session with Paul and a subsequent arrangement for lunch with a friend. Then, suddenly, I stopped hurling everywhere, and seemed temporarily fine. Even though there was almost no risk of it, I convinced myself that I was up the duff and drove round to Boots to buy a pregnancy test. It was negative, of course, as I knew it would be. But knowing something is or isn’t true and actually being convinced of it is, when you’re me, not at all the same thing.

Shortly after I got back from Boots, the¬†diarrhoea¬†started, and on Tuesday the vomiting came back – though this time not confined to the morning. So I’ve been feeling sorry for myself, but I’ll live.

Had I seen Paul on Monday, today (or yesterday, if you must be pedantic) would have been the fourth consecutive day of appointments. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it yet again; being mental is a full time job.

On Tuesday I went to see Christine, my CPN. I ate nothing beforehand, other than to stuff Immodium down my throat, as I didn’t want to cancel what was only our second appointment. I actually managed to talk to her reasonably well, all things considered.

As I mentioned, in my last psychiatric appointment NewVCB had said to me that she wanted Christine to focus on ‘practical’ stuff in her interactions with me. As you might imagine, this caused me a certain amount of anxiety given my general disdain for the supposedly therapeutic properties of basket weaving, ‘changing’ your thinking, flicking a fucking rubber band on your wrist or ringing the Samaritans (with no disrespect meant to said organisation).

It turns out that Christine’s approach is considerably less shit than the above. I had told her about this blog the last time I saw her, and mentioned that it had been moderately successful over its almost-two years of existence (I mean, compared to the big blogs, this site is nothing. But compared to what I expected, it’s considerably more than nothing). On Tuesday, she brought this issue up – basically she said that if I had an audience, that if people bothered to read the shit I splurge here, that if people interact with me because of it – then I must have some sort of ability to write (personally I don’t think this is the case, although some of you have been kind enough to make contrary assertions in the past. Thank you).

I shrugged at her, and asked her what her point was.

Not a bad one, actually, as it goes. She was wondering if I had considered submitting some of what I write to some of the local mental health charities – Charity A, Charity C, Aware Defeat Depression, Charity B etc etc. She said that these organisations often produce newsletters, and in her opinion they would be “crying out for” a patient with an ability to articulate him/herself to produce a few pieces for such publications. I have to say that I would never in a million years have considered something like this. It simply would not have occurred to me.

I have noticed in the waiting room at Nexus that the organisation compiles and advertises writings from some of their (former?) clients (or clients of related organisations). One lady to whom they frequently allude wrote a book, published by the small, socially-run house of¬†Chipmunka (who are mental health specialists). The verse of others features in the originally-titled Nexus Poetry Book. I remember finding these publications interesting, but I wasn’t somehow inspired into submitting anything of my own.

So, I told Christine that I hadn’t thought of it, but that it seemed like a plausible idea. She said, “have you considered writing professionally?”

Who hasn’t? Seriously, doesn’t everyone grow up wanting to be best-selling novelist? It was something that certainly crossed my mind many times. (Aside from the fact that I haven’t written any fiction since…God, probably since my GCSEs). In real terms, though, I did apply for a few freelance contracts some months ago, and based on samples from both this blog and¬†Not as Smart as Pandora Braithwaite, was successful in securing all of them. The problem was that they, reasonably enough, wanted exclusivity on all submissions.

So what? Well, my writing for me comes first. This blog comes first. Writing here, especially in the highly verbose manner in which I do, can be energy-zapping at times, meaning I don’t have any va va voom left to write elsewhere. If one of the magazines who offered me freelance contracts had been willing to budge on the exclusivity matter, I could have simply sent modified versions of posts from here – but I understand why they won’t do that. By the same token, I have my terms. I am not going to prioritise money-making articles over the therapeutic concern that is this blog.

I told this to Christine, but she reckoned that the local charities wouldn’t really give a shit. She repeated the term “crying out for”, suggesting to me that in their apparent desperation, exclusivity on articles would be the least of their worries. In which case – fine by me. Though as I said on Twitter, if indeed this comes to pass, I will have to edit out the multifarious instances of the words ‘fuck’, ‘cunt’, ‘dickshaft’, ‘tossface’ etc. Null has offered to help me. He is going to be my editor, bitches, yeah! Null advises that I must henceforth use the words ‘fudge’ and ‘cumberbund’ in place of my more typical parlance. For fudge’s sake.

What else? We talked about my ability to get out of the house, and I said that although it was still reasonably poor, it was improving. I told her that I had developed a small but fairly active interest in geocaching (though this was a difficult conversation, because anyone who engages in this practice sounds…well, mad to non-cachers. “It’s a high-tech treasure hunt!” I enthused. She raised her eyebrow, scribbled something down and gently moved the subject on) that was taking me out a little. I discussed how A and I would often go out at weekends.

“But can you go out alone?” she queried.

I laughed in her face. “Of course not!” I said, incredulous.

“Why?”

I thought about it for a minute. I had arrived at the CMHT alone, after all. Why not elsewhere? But the very idea of going almost anywhere else by myself made me anxious, and I started blathering idiotically at her.

She saw my distress, and duly steered the conversation away slightly. “OK,” she said, “but how are you when you’re out?”

“Alright if someone’s there, usually – unless there’s a crowd, or someone sitting close to me or something.”

“And then what happens?”

“I go mental and simply have to get out of the situation.” I thought back to a recent trip to fucking Tesco and shuddered.

“Have you ever been prescribed Diazepam?” she queried. I told her that I had a stash of it at home.

“Not to throw down my throat in a moment of existentialism, you understand,” I assured her. “Just…for emergencies. For when the GPs stop being willing to give it to me.”

“Like a comfort blanket,” Christine said.

“Exactly.”

The long and the short of this discussion was that she believes that taking a Diazepam, using Diazepam when needed, is better than not going into what I perceive as difficult situations. She told me to take some with me in my pill box and to just take one (or two, whatever), as needed.

She opined that most GPs, if satisfied that you’re not addicted to the things, will be willing to give them to most people. I thought back to Dickhead GP‘s abject refusal to give me anything other than that which the consultant prescribed,¬†but kept my mouth shut.

Christine then talked about volunteering for a while. She agrees with me that I’m not ready to go back to work any time soon, but does think that a few hours a week of this would be a good thing. I explained that volunteering was certainly on my long-term agenda; from an entirely selfish angle, it’s a good way back into work, both in terms of the CV experience and as an ‘ease in’ to a more demanding position. However, for once in my sorry life, my greater priority in planning to volunteer is the altruism involved. If they would be willing, I’d love to do some admin or something in Nexus, given the difference their service has made to my life. Failing that, I’d like to work with Aware or one of the other charities listed above, because their work is so vital to people with mental health problems. For some, maybe those who are not considered worthy of seeing CMHT members or something, such charities are their only lifeline.

Ultimately in terms of volunteering, I’d love to join the CAB, as they have been truly excellent when I’ve seen them regarding benefit issues. That’s a serious commitment, however, as (a) you have to be willing to give them at least 16 hours a week and (b) you have to do (at least?) a year’s worth of training (an NVQ in Advice Work, I believe). Of course, they accept applications for admin and so on as well, but these tend to be quite oversubscribed and anyway, I think that ultimately the proper training would be an excellent opportunity both in terms of my career and vis a vis ‘giving something back’.

Anyhow, Christine was essentially suggesting I apply for some sort of volunteering position now. She agreed that the CAB one should be much further down the line, but went on to say that in the case of the other charities, they may only want a few hours a week from me, and in any case, that the application processes were notoriously long (probably because of a dearth of resources). I said that I took her point, but I wanted to be certain that I was ready to move into this domain, and that right now I’m not. She accepted that, but told me to keep thinking about it. I will. In the meantime, I will see if the aforementioned charities are indeed interested in any of my written ramblings as she suggested.

I told her that I was having an ECG the following day to see if NewVCB could increase my dose of Venlafaxine to 375mg daily. Christine said that she thought that would be great; she said that she knows that that dosage is pretty hardcore, but given the chronic and severe nature of my depression, and especially given that 300mg has made such a difference so far, that she agreed with NewVCB that it could be a productive way to proceed.

This led to a brief discussion on NewVCB. Christine loves her. She told me that NewVCB does home visits to the most ill in the community – apparently this is exceptionally rare for consultant psychiatrists (I’m sure it is, though I was reminded that when Paedo first started going really mental, a consultant was at his house within 24 hours. The McFauls seem to get everything they want from the NHS, which is odd in itself; it is made all the odder by the fact that they are under the same Trust as me!). She went on to proffer the view that NewVCB is the best consultant in the area – she meant in terms of her personality and devotion to her patients, I think, but there was also a suggestion that she meant medically too. Based on my admittedly limited experience of psychiatrists, I would agree with this assessment. One thing that continually sticks in my head is the time that NewVCB said to me, “you do know that you can ring me if you need to, don’t you?” I didn’t – not before she said that. I thought that, unless I was crisis-team mental (does that kind of state even exist? I loathe the crisis team beyond words), that I was completely alone out here on the outside.

Finally, we had a discussion about Paul, and about how things are coming to an end with him in the next six weeks or so. I told her that NewVCB had intended to discuss my care with her in relation to the¬†immediate¬†aftermath of that, but Christine didn’t take the bait on that, and instead started wanking on about whether or not I felt “abandoned” or something.

I told her that I didn’t feel abandoned in the least. In part, that’s because Paul himself thinks that the time limit is a crock of shit and is enforcing it only because he has to. In part, it’s because whilst I’m very fond of him, I’m not reliant on him the way I was with C. In part, it’s because I am stronger and less borderline now.

What my problem with the discharge is, I said, is that very productive work had been going on with Paul – but that it is far from finished (by his admission as well as mine). I was abused, badly, for years. Not to mention all the other crap that came with life – Hideous Ex, V, bullying, grandfather’s death, yadda yadda. I’ve read the literature. I’ve spoken to others in similar positions. I’ve even asked the fucking professionals. And the consensus is the same: trauma therapy cannot be adequately conducted in a matter of weeks. It can take years. I told her so, and she accepted that.

And that was that really. I’ll see her again in three weeks, at which point – particularly if I haven’t seen NewVCB in between – I’ll ask her if we can increase the frequency of our meetings whilst Paul is out of the picture. I have no idea if she’ll agree – though I think NewVCB would be happy for her to, so there’s no reason why not that I can detect – but we’ll see.

I like her. I feel able to talk fairly openly to her, which is not normally an easy thing to do. I can’t necessarily see myself getting close to her as such, but I can see her being helpful and supportive, and right now I think that’s all I really need her to be. As you know, I was cynical about the role of CPNs when the idea was first mooted to me about a year ago, but I am happy to have been proven wrong in this instance.

The next day I turned up at the same hospital for the ECG. I was 20 minutes early, but went into the “waiting room” (a few broken plastic chairs strewn over the corridor of the crap mobile building) anyway.¬†Immediately, a young girl stuck her head around the door, into where I stood (I was too scared to sit). The poor cow is obviously marked for NHS redundancy, because she actually didn’t keep me waiting and didn’t fuck about. Despite my o’er-timeliness, she brought me into the crap room straight away, cheerfully gabbled out the usual small-talk (traffic, weather, her¬†fianc√©), hooked me up to the machine, waited 10 seconds, glanced at a print-out, then advised me that I was “all done”.

She was obviously not a doctor, because she couldn’t read the results of the test herself. She said that she’d sent it to NewVCB for¬†analysis¬†but – and this is hilarious – it needs to go, firstly, to Big Bastard Hospital That Everybody Hates to be lodged on the computer as “[they] don’t have a computer [there]”. Once lodged, it then goes back to this hospital (the same one in which I see NewVCB and Christine and, formerly, C).

I arrived back at my mother’s house before my allocated appointment time. I couldn’t have been in the room for more than five minutes.

Finally, to today (or rather yesterday, but meh). At 8.30am, I had an appointment with Lovely GP. I cursed myself for booking such an early slot when my¬†alarm¬†went off this morning, as I do each and every time I see him. The reason for doing so is that, as his first patient, I won’t have to wait for my predecessor to take up more than 10 minutes of his time like I normally do.

I had essentially made the appointment to discuss the usefulness or otherwise of Orlistat, which he had prescribed me the last time I saw him to try to help combat the weight issues resultant of taking Seroquel. Knowing, however, that I had stuffed my face with more chocolate in one day than can be found in an entire Cadbury’s factory in a decade, I chose not to bring the subject up.

Instead I told him how much better I was feeling, and we had the same discussion around Venlafaxine that I had had with Christine on Tuesday. He said almost exactly what she had: that yeah, 300/375mg is a fuckload to be taking, but that my issues are severe and chronic and if that’s what it takes to mitigate them, then that’s what it takes to mitigate them.

I don’t remember a lot of what was said, as I was still under the influence of Zopiclone. I do remember that he commented, as many people have, that he could see the positive difference in me – to use his term, I seemed a lot more “responsive” (an interesting way of putting it, I thought). I told him about being allocated a CPN and that how, in light of Bye Bye Paul, this was A Good Thing.

Then, cautiously, I decided to ask The Question.

“She [Christine] said…hmm…well, she said I need to keep getting out but…well, crowds still kill me. She said…um…I should maybe…well, you know…”

He looked at me with bemused enquiry etched across his face.

“…God, I feel like I ask you this every time I see you…she said…’get out, take a Diazepam if that helps you get out. It’s better than not doing so’. So I know I must seem like an addict…but could you maybe prescribe me some? Please?”

He sat back in his chair and laughed. I looked at him in irritation and asked what I had done to arouse such amusement in him.

“‘I know I must seem like an addict’,” he repeated. “I last prescribed you Diazepam months ago. And it was only 14 of them even then. No, Pandora, you are certainly not an addict. You are clearly not abusing these pills in any way.”

True – after all, I haven’t taken any of them. They’re all sitting there in my stash box taking up space. Not that I told him that though, because he wouldn’t prescribe any more if he knew that, or at least so I assume. (And at this juncture you might validly ask why I need more of them despite already having loads. The simple answer is that I have no idea. I just know that when I give myself permission to even take a couple of the things, I feel like I have to make up for their ‘loss’ by gaining three-, four- or five-fold more. As Christine said, they function as a security blanket).

LGP said that he “completely agree[d] with the CPN” that it is better to get out and about and pop a Valium than it is to sit terrified in the house and not pop a Valium. He talked about my need for¬†confidence¬†building, the need for me to develop some sense of routine and ‘normality’, and so on and suchlike – though not in the irritatingly patronising fashion normally employed by GPs. The long and the short of it is that he too is pleased with my progress. Result.

I was trying to grab my scripts and scurry away when he asked me about the Orlistat. I had a moment of¬†guilt-ridden desolation in which I considered making a run for it without saying anything, but I decided to be ‘brave’ (!) and admit that my cravings have been completely out of control.

“Let’s weigh you anyway,” he said – to my utter horror.

In a fluster, I went to frantic pains to remove my boots, belt, mobile phone and other encumbering objects from my person in order to fool the scales into saying that I was lighter than I am. I would have fucking stripped naked and picked off each scab on my body if I had thought I could get away with it. Again, LGP seemed to find amusement in my behaviour. I glared at him, and he apologised – but then added, to my utter astonishment, “you do have great capacity to entertain, you know.”

I asked him what he meant. Apparently, I am “charismatic¬†and articulate” and that will “stand [me] in good stead.”

Initially I thought he was joking, but when he said, “really!” and followed it up with an appropriately reassuring smile, I knew that he was being sincere (or, at least, that he thought he was). I could happily have hugged him – how sweet! There are a lot of cunts in the NHS, but I seem to be becoming increasingly lucky in terms of avoiding them.

Anyhow, my efforts to unladen myself worked. My weight is a pound less than when I last saw LGP. A reduction of a pound is fucking crap, I know, but I was genuinely expecting to have gained a fair bit. The Orlistat mustn’t be completely useless, then. He asked me a lot of questions about its (notorious) gastrointestinal effects, and I admitted that whilst they were frustrating and¬†embarrassing¬†at times, that they weren’t that much in excess of my pre-existing IBS. Furthermore, they’ve¬†reduced in severity¬†over time. (Interestingly ((or not if you’re a vaguely normal human being)), the drug’s¬†manufactures,¬†GlaxoSmithKline, admit to indulging in a bit of the ol’¬†A Clockwork Orange in terms of said side effects. The worse the side effects, they feel, the more likely you are to stick to a healthy diet in order to avoid them).

LGP said he’d give me another script for the stuff, and see me about it again in six weeks. After 12 weeks on it, if you haven’t lost weight you’re supposed to discontinue it, though I suspect LGP may be flexible on that exact timeframe. Either way, I’m glad he was willing to give me more at this juncture – even if the stuff doesn’t work a fuck, I feel less guilty eating when I know I can take it afterwards.

Finally, I asked him if he could prescribe my Venlafaxine on a two-monthly basis, in the same way as the Seroquel is currently issued. After last week’s disaster, I wanted to make sure that I have a decent stock of the horrible stuff at all times – and besides which, Fat¬†Pharmacist is still proving himself to be an incompetent fuck and thus needs about six years’ notice to allow him to practice pharmacy in his pharmacy. I was¬†somewhat¬†surprised when LGP agreed to this request, in the same way that I have always been surprised by Seroquel being issued in this way. I’m a mental. Is it¬†really sensible to give me two months’ worth of both drugs at any one time? (Which is to say nothing of the Zopiclone and Diazepam stashes). As it happens, if I ever do decide to do¬†myself¬†in, it’ll not be by overdosing, as I know that only certain cocktails work reliably, and that if anything else does kill you, it’ll be slowly and horribly. But the GPs don’t know that I know that.

Still, I don’t care, because this will save me an awful lot of hassle in future.

And that was about it. He asked me to come back in six weeks, said he was glad that things were on the up, and told me to take care. I reciprocated, left, hung around the car park for ages waiting for the pharmacy to open, got my prescriptions, drove back to my mother’s, had a few slices of bacon (plus Orlistat, mais oui) and went back to bed.

And now I am back at A’s and about to go back to bed again. Which is a good thing because this nonsense is waaaaaay too fucking long even by my standards. I don’t think Christine had this length of article in mind when she suggested I sow my blogging seed across Northern Ireland’s mental health outreaches.

Goodnight, lovers.