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)

 

 

Rose is Back For a 3rd Time

As always I am happy for people to get in touch if they wish to write a post about depression. The more people we can get talking about it the better it becomes for everyone. Don’t be shy get in touch via the contact page! Garry

 

The talking trouble.

One thing that is mostly done against depression is talking, to either a psychiatrist, therapist or psychiatric nurse. Some people find it very pleasant to talk about their problems, I am not such a person. So what do you do when talking difficult?

1: information

when I first came to the psychiatrist and therapist, I had no idea what to expect or what would be expected of me. This made the whole thing a lot more scarier, many thoughts went through me. “do I have to tell everything about me?” “are my problems big enough?” “what will he/she think of me?”. “what if I can’t answer their questions ?”.

I will answer those questions now.

1 no, you only have to tell what you are comfortable to share, a relationship of trust between doctor/therapist/nurse and patient has to grow, he/she knows this too.

2 if something is bothering you it is important/big enough to talk about it. 3 these people are trained not to judge you and are ultimately there to help you and its good to keep in mind that they see a lot of people and heard a lot of story’s, you are not alone with these problems and there is always someone weirder then you. 4 then you say “I don’t know” or “I have to think about it”

it’s also good to be aware of the rules of confidentially where he/she is bound by, everything you say in therapy or with a doctor stays between you and him/her. There are exceptions to the rule, when you say anything that makes them believe you are a dangerous to yourself or anyone else they have to take action to ensure safety even if that means breaking confidentially.

Some countries have laws that say that they have to report abuse when the victim is someone who can’t protect themselves (like a child). It’s easy to find on the internet what the law says about that in your country.

When you are a child (under 18) its good to inform yourself about if and when your parents or legal guardians are informed. You can also talk to the therapist/doctor about what he/she will say if they do inform them.

You have rights as a patient and its good to look into them before you go for your first meeting, you will know where you stand.

2: questions

when you are with a therapist or doctor they like to ask a lot of questions but keep in mind that you can also question them, its important to understand what they are doing to help you and if something doesn’t make sense to you question them about it. If after the session you think of some things that don’t make sense, write them down to ask about it next time.

3 : pen and paper.

Talking about problems, especially emotional problems is not easy and sometimes you just cant say what you want to let them know. It’s okay to write these things down either before or even during the session and let them read it. In the beginning I always had a letter with me with the things I wanted to talk about. It is a good way to get the conversation started and let them know what is important for you at that time.

My therapist and psychiatrist even let me email them when being in the same room when they are reading the letter is too scary.

4. you’re the boss

its good to know that if you are an adult your therapist/doctor can’t do anything without your consent (if you are a child its your parents/guardians consent they need). The only exceptions to the rule is if you’re or anyone else’s safety is in danger and even then they need a judge to sign off on it.

Also in the conversation the doctor/therapist will follow your lead, so you decide about what you talk but you also decide if you don’t want to talk about something or if you had enough for that session, you are not obligated to fill the hour.

5. when it doesn’t click switch

therapist and doctors are also just people and there are no two alike. You can for example have 5 very good doctors and feel more comfortable with one then the others, they also have their own style and it doesn’t always match your needs. So if you don’t feel good with one, see if you can go to another. They also know that and understand that it just doesn’t always click and won’t feel personally offended by that you want to switch.

All this doesn’t make it easy to talk but maybe just a bit more manageable. I think everyone is a bit scared when they have to talk about the most personal feelings, you feel vulnerable and that is very understandable. But even when talking is difficult as it is for me, it can feel good to let it out and have someone who understands you and that makes it worth the effort.

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.

Guest Post – Mary

We Have to Stop Now

I have been diagnosed with Treatment Resistant Major Depression (plus other things). Recently I was in therapy & my therapist was looking through my file for a court document from when I first started therapy. She found it, read it to me and while doing so she mentioned the date on the document-2006. 2006?!?!?! Are you kidding me?!? I’ve been in therapy for 7+ years?!?!?!? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I get it together? Why can’t I be normal? Why does the past haunt me 24/7? Will it ever stop?

These are just some of the thoughts that ran through my head. Am I better off now then I was in 2006? Well, yes, for the past 7 years I have had someone to talk to twice a week. Someone who actually listens, respects me, believes me and says they care about me. When I say “talk” I mean deep, hurtful, powerful feelings and memories. It is hard work. After 7 years, have I talked about everything that happened to me in my life that has contributed to my current state of mind? The answer is no. 7 years and no, there is still baggage that I am too afraid to talk about, or say out loud. It is choking me and making me feel and act crazy and want to die. I am grateful that the community outreach center that I go to for therapy has been letting me come twice a week. Still, there never seems to be enough time. I go to therapy wanting to talk about things that have happened during the past few days, feelings, memories, thoughts and dreams. The time always seems to go by so quickly. Before I know it I hear “We have to stop now.” I hate hearing those words.

It brings me back to reality and reminds me that I am just another crazy, depressed person. There are many other clients that need to be seen, that need help too. It reminds me that the person I am talking to is getting paid to listen and talk to me. It reminds me that I have no one in my life that cares. It reminds me of my loneliness and that I don’t really matter to anyone.

At a recent session I wanted to talk about some horrifying nightmares (some events that actually happened-not dreams, but flashbacks that happen while I am sleeping) that I am having about my father. Before I started I asked if we still had time for me to do this. The answer was yes. I was shaking as I talked about the events and was scared to talk about them. I couldn’t look at my therapist, I felt embarrassed, mortified and humiliated. When I was finished. I heard “we have to stop now“. It was such an emotional let down. I just finished spilling my guts about something that is upsetting me. Something that I was extremely anxious to say out loud.

There was no time to talk about the nightmares, my feelings about them, my extreme anxiety and the panic I feel every night when I go to sleep. I felt left in limbo. I left the office feeling very upset, anxious and feeling sort of ‘out of my body’. As I was getting in my car my mind was reeling, confused as to what just happened. I was not upset with my therapist, she was just doing her job, time was up and she probably had another client waiting. This is what I mean by there never being enough time. It’s no ones fault, that is just they way things work. It probably would have helped if I had a friend to call, but I don’t have any friends. Instead I ended up collapsing in tears when I got home. The nightmares and flashbacks in my sleep continue. I am afraid to sleep. I am afraid of having intense flash backs. I don’t want to sound selfish. I am so grateful for my therapist and the community outreach center I go to.

Everyone there has been kind and generous to me. They have taken me to family court, social services, doctor appointments, etc. Anytime I need someone to go some place with me, my therapist is there to help. The kindness that has been shown to me is something that is a rarity in my life. I am grateful for the kindness and everything the center and staff have done for me.

I am responsible for my current state of mind and not being able to communicate what’s in my head. After all, I’ve had 7 years. The situation feels hopeless, there is nothing anyone can do and there is no “magic” pill that will erase the years of abuse, neglect and torture that I have been though and am still going through. I feel powerless over the memories that constantly play back in my head, the flash backs, the nightmares, my inability to control them, to be normal, the excruciating emotional pain that never stops, the voices in my head that tell me over and over what a bad person I am, and the constant thoughts of death.

I am still here, but what’s the point when you feel hopeless, worthless, useless, sad (really sad), crazy, alone, empty inside, agitated, angry, upset all the time, anxious, panicky, afraid, scared, different from everyone else, not normal and your mind constantly telling you that you are not needed and you bother people and it would be better if you just disappeared. I can’t take it anymore. I try telling my mind that we have to stop now. Stop all the voices, the flash backs and fear, but it doesn’t work. My depression has me in a very dark place and I have been fighting to get out for a long time. I am tired of fighting, of not being understood, not being able to find the words to express what’s in my head. I am tired of being so lonely. I’m tired of being starved for something as simple as a hug and wishing someone would tell me that everything is going to be ok, that I just need more time. So I am asking whoever is reading this – is it time to stop now?

 

Mary is available on twitter here

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!