Moose Meets Psychologist

In the spirit of trying new things today I finally had my first therapy session with a psychologist with the Mental Health Team at Goodmayes hospital.

I had a few sessions of counselling a few months ago which I had to pay for, so obviously that couldn’t continue as it was well outside my budget, but helpful at the time.

Today was a different situation though, it has been much needed and a long time in coming. I went in with an open mind and was happy to talk about what has been going on recently, in the past few years and the long forgotten past, but if I am going to get anything out of it may as well go the full monty and clear all the skeletons.

After a short while the lovely lady had come to the conclusion that group therapy is not for me as I am “too gregarious and would dominate the group” which I had to agree with. There is Garry in a group and Garry on his own, and regular readers and friends will know which one needs working on the most! She was struck at how different I was within minutes of being sitting alone in the waiting room to being in a room with someone to bounce off.

Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) was the conclusion she drew from the time we spent together, hardly surprising considering how I view myself, but nice for me to have a label on it to allow me to focus on dealing with it.

What I find interesting is that I am more concerned about certain people, their welfare etc, than I am about myself. Is it because deep down I feel not worthy? Why am I more worried about helping them, fixing them, than dealing with my issues?

Something that will certainly be worked on, because the last few nights I have been having a series of revelations about myself, not anything that I have forced either. It feels like the worm is turning in terms of how I see myself and what I bring to the table. I actually feel a lot more positive.

The only downside is that I have to wait “a few months” for a space to come up – hopefully January but as we all know nothing is guaranteed when it comes to mental health treatment. More important between now and then is that I continue to question the thoughts and feelings that contribute to my depression and that is something that I will concentrate on.

If I can see myself the way others see me, then the world could actually be my oyster and I can move on from the worst year of my life.

Moving forwards and leaving the past behind, while learning lessons from it is my new goal.

I have no idea what clicked over the weekend, but something has and I like it!

And the best part of all?

I always assumed I had ANTs in my pants…turns out I have them in my head.. (groans)

 

 

Sleep is my Frenemy

Today I actually made it to an appointment with the mental health team in Goodmayes for an assessment. This was a case of 3rd time lucky and after over an hour with the Dr I left with more questions than answers!

“what is it you think we can do for you?”

That was the question that bugged me the most as I have no idea what to expect from them.

“sort out my head so i can stop shitting myself” was my reply!

So now I have to wait to find out what happens next, do they discharge me and recommend counselling or is there something more that they can offer me. I am still waiting to find out if I have bipolar or not as my GP suspects this may be the case.

What I was wasn’t expecting was to be lectured about my sleep and sleeping habits. It is a big issue for me and I was hoping they could shed some light on the hows and why of the cycle of constant sleep or no sleep.

Instead its all my fault for going to sleep when I am tired, regardless of the time of day. It’s like I wake up after hours of broken sleep still feeling tired on purpose!

Today for example I had to get up 3 hours before my appointment time just to ensure I could go to the toilet before leaving. I managed 5 hours sleep last night (on and off) but as soon as I came home I ended up sleeping for 4 hours.

This week I have been trying to avoid sleeping during the day and had been going to bed at 10pm, expect that 3-4 hours later I was waking up and wide awake! Then I wasnt able to fall back to sleep until 6am!

But apparently its all my fault and I need to work harder at staying awake, even when absolutely shattered! I pointed out that one of my issues at the moment was having zero energy but the sleep pattern is all my fault. Even when I mentioned that during my “happy” cycles I don’t need as much sleep but this seemed to go unnoticed.

Here is my prediction for what happens next…

The mental health team will decide that they can’t do anything for me and refer me to Sanibel (a local place here that does counselling).

Sanibel have already written to my GP stating that they don’t think I should be referred to them as it’s more a case for the mental health team.

And me? I will be stuck in limbo again!

Nevermind its almost time for a nap!

Guest Post – Emily

Living with depression

Mental illness is an ongoing and controversial source of debate. Psychologists and doctors must consider how it should be treated, while the philosophers out there question whether a mind can even get ill. However, be it an illness or not, depression is a serious and unavoidable affliction which is incredibly hard to deal with since no pill, injection or operation can provide an instant remedy. There are no visible symptoms and most people will fail to notice or refuse to believe that someone they know is depressed.

The origins of depression are numerous, but it is important to remember that not everyone who suffers these ’causes’ will become depressed and much depends upon the ingrained mindset of the individual. Traumatic experiences from the past can lead to depression later in life. These include abuse (physical, sexual, emotional), losing a loved one, witnessing an accident or death or fighting off a life-threatening illness. Some surprising events are found to incite depression, including marriage, graduation and getting a new job, while other periods are more predictably difficult such as getting divorced, being extremely ill, losing a job or retiring. Often it is a case of not recovering from the hard times, through which friends and family were there for support but over time they have lost the motivation and energy to stay positive in the face of depression. The following isolation deepens the depression making it even harder to cope with.

While most illnesses come with physical symptoms, depression is harder to recognise unless the sufferer frequently cries and is easily distressed, dramatically gains or loses weight, or reports pains which usual treatment does not cure. It is only through talking to a doctor or psychiatrist that a patient can be diagnosed and directed towards relevant treatment. People with depression experience a variety of mood-related symptoms, including feeling perpetually sad, anxious, helpless, guilty, worthless or just empty, taking no pleasure from their usual activities. Other symptoms include sleeping excessively or not at all and overeating or the total loss of interest in food. These effects are detrimental to health and well-being, further increasing the feelings of depression. It is extremely difficult to live with someone with depression as there is almost nothing to be said or done which seems to help. Outbursts and suicide threats are extremely distressing for close friends and family, who often back away for self-preservation reasons, making the depressed individual feel even lonelier, hopeless and miserable.

So how does anybody escape this vicious circle of loss, grief, depression and isolation? Initially, sessions with a psychiatrist or counselor can help alleviate some of the tension by talking through a troublesome period. It may help identify a cause which had not previously been considered but was always under the surface. However, it is not a way to find somebody or something to blame, since every person must take some responsibility for their situation, or they cannot hope to get out of it. Some doctors prescribe drugs containing serotonin, the happiness chemical, which relieve the feelings of sadness. These are not a permanent cure and should be accompanied by some form of psychotherapy which can help alter negative thought patterns and improve peoples coping methods, leading to an overall improvement in well-being rather than a temporary and false dose of happiness. Ultimately, if an individual really wants to feel better, they will take the guidance and treatment seriously and work hard to develop a new perspective and positive attitude, making their life and consequently those of their friends and family much easier. There is no immediate solution but immediate action will set the ball rolling towards a better future for everyone concerned.

This article was written by Emily Banham on behalf of Living At Choice, a counselling Brighton and psychotherapy Brighton based practice.

Revelations, Insights and a Good Telling Off

I finally got to see my Dr having not seen him in an official capacity since October. Three months is  a long time in my world and a lot has changed in terms of my depression since then as well. When you walk into his office and he says “whats happened, you don’t look your usual self?!” then you know its been too long since you saw him.

We talked about my weight issues, knee issues and depression issues and it was great to unload it all. I am lucky to have a good GP. I have spoke before about how helpful he is, there is a new system in place for appointments at the surgery that means you have to phone at 8 am to try and get seen. When I explained to the receptionist that the only time I see 8 am is if I have not slept and that it would make it impossible for to get an appointment she emailed the Dr and asked him to call me. As is always the case when your expecting a call you end up not answering the phone in time but Dr Dhanji then called me again 20 minutes later to make sure he could speak to me and arrange an appointment. This is how good the man is!

Anyways lets get back on track..

On 18th December I picked up my monthly prescription of antidepressants, 28 tablets. It is now 1st February and I still have 5 tablets left that should have been finished on 15th January. This goes a long way to explaining my current mood as obviously I am not ready to come off the tablets yet. It has not been an intentional thing not taking the pills it has just happened, cue a nice telling off from the Dr and one ashamed looking moose!

Lesson #1 from me to you: Don’t stop taking your tablets unless the Dr tells you – forgetting is not an option!

I spoke about my current grief issues with the Dr, and with a friend on Facebook last night when it suddenly hit me why I am having a hard time over the passing of Teresa. When my uncle died I had expected it based on what had happened to him in hospital so I could prepare myself for his death, and although I did not handle it particularly well I did at least expect it to happen. With Teresa it happened within 2 weeks of being diagnoses and was so fast it came as a bolt out of the blue and this is why is has knocked me for six.

Lesson #2: for God’s sake talk about things!!

In terms of my dealings with therapy for my depression etc here is the current situation..

As we know I couldn’t attend my last appointment with the mental health team due to an IBS related accident on the way. I called them and left a message on the answer phone informing them I couldn’t attend so you would think they would reschedule an appointment for me, did they bollocks! Instead they have written to my Dr informing them that I DECLINED 2 appointments and that they do not think I am suitable for them. Meanwhile the counselling service I was referred to in July have told the Dr that I need to be seen by the Mental Health team and not them so I’m left in between the 2 with no one looking out for me!

Lesson #3: Don’t shit yourself on the way to the mental health team and expect sympathy!

I am now back to monthly appointments with the Dr to make sure I am taking my tablets properly rather than him giving me 3 months worth of prescriptions which is probably best for now, assuming I can get an appointment in a months time!

The Dr is also going to refer me to some sort of weight loss/ exercise program to try and work on my knee issues and is not impressed that I am planning to do the 10k run in May. “No you are not” was his response LOL but we shall see, people have sponsored me already and I feel obliged to do it :-(

New month, forget crappy January lets see what February will bring! fingers crossed that it brings a change of luck!

Garry Meets the Mental Health Team

Today was my first appointment with the mental health team at Goodmayes Hospital where I had an initial screening appointment with a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) following on from a referral by my GP.

Initially they discharged me without talking to me because my PHQ9 score had gone down from over a period of 6 weeks, despite it having increased since then so as you can imagine I am not fully confident using this route to begin with.

Apparently they even referred me to a local counselling service but 2 months later and they haven’t been in touch either so as far as I am concerned it is not a great start.

I arrived 25 minutes early and had to sit in the waiting room with the sun beating through the windows making me sweat even more than I do on an average day but thankfully they called me at bang on the appointment time where I met the CPN who invited me into a cold unwelcoming room. Not even a desk was there just four chairs, 2 on each side of the room.

For the next hour and a half I sat there and told everything about my feelings and past history while he took notes, and more notes and then some more notes.

It was nice to be able to unload some stuff BUT I am not convinced he was the right person to be telling it too. He seemed to be more focused on the death of my uncle than any other aspect of my depression. I told him that it was one of the main triggers that gave me suicidal thoughts but if I am honest I got the impression he just seemed convinced I was grieving rather than anything else, despite me telling him that the feelings have been around for years.

He also suggested that he doesn’t think I am bipolar but as he is not a psychiatrist he couldn’t make that diagnosis (why bleeding say it then?!!)

Anyway end result is that he has referred me to see a psychiatrist and suggested that I attend counselling to try and rid me of “low self esteem and low confidence issues”

And so the wait to unravel the mystery of the depressed moose continues for while yet…

And in all honesty I left wondering why the hell I bothered!