Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Blog 4.1 Treatment *Trigger Warnings Ahead*

Hi everyone!

Before we start I just wanted to say that this is a bit of a long blog so I've split it into two parts - one for today and one for the next time I post. Also; there are trigger warnings throughout which will be in bold and underlined so that I don't get in trouble with writing about sensitive subjects and it will mention what the triggering subject is. If you are easily triggered then these next two posts may not be for you (it's up to you but I encourage you to know what your limits are so you don't put yourself through possible unnecessary harm). The blog starts now:

I know that some people read my social media posts (particularly on my bad days) and think “why don’t you just go get treatment?” The answer to that is: I have been receiving treatment of different variations from around the age of 11.
Between the ages of 11 and 17 it was counselling through school and going to doctors who were against giving me medication and instead blamed it on “teenage hormones”. At 19 it was being prescribed my first lot of anti-depressants which I didn’t end up taking as I didn’t want to become reliant on drugs to make me feel better and I was well aware that it wasn’t just a simple case of “leveling” me out. No amount of serotonin was going to undo all of the psychological damage that years of bullying had done.
My college also provided me with an off-campus counsellor once a week until I left (she practiced at another campus that was a branch of the one I went to) and they paid for my taxi fares from my home and to college one the days that I saw her so ensure that I still had a way of attending without it taking two hours to get there. I was also referred to programme called “Beating the Blues” the summer after where I went to a new clinic to sit at a computer to answer questions each week (on a scale of 1 to 10; how depressed have you felt this week? One a scale of 1 to 10 how would you say your mood was this week?), and was given homework via said computer which no health professional ever saw.

*Skip ahead  to “End of Trigger Warning” if you’re easily triggered by reading other people’s accounts of feeling suicidal*
At 21 it was back to counselling and reluctantly taking medication because I was so genuinely afraid that I was going to end up harming myself. I had noticed that whilst I may not have been suicidal in the “I’m going to take my own life” way, I was when it came to things like crossing the road without looking and not caring if, say, I was involved in some kind of accident. *End of Trigger Warning*. I had just gone from only volunteering a maximum of 8 hours a week to having a 40+ hour job where I was getting up 3 hours beforehand just to travel to. I was leaving home when it was dark and coming home when it was dark 5 days a week because it was the start of winter. My depression gets even worse during the winter season.

Counselling stopped when I was about 22 as my counsellor had retired and no one had bothered to tell me even though I had been on the phone asking to reschedule an appointment with him about a week before he left. Year 23 for me brought me being referred to an outpatient clinic at my local hospital. That was scary as that that section used to be a particular ward that had a reputation for people with severe mental illnesses going in and not being able to leave because they were a danger to themselves and others. Basically it was what people refer to as a “nut house” or a UK equivalent of Radley for those of you who watch “Pretty Little Liars”. You didn’t want to be seen going there because of the stigma. Thankfully, these days it’s not like that at all and, to be honest, I don’t think it ever was as daunting as people would make it out to be – like embellishing a horror story to frighten young children. This clinic assigned me a key worker who along with their panel of staff gave me a referral for new medication and set me up with group sessions for things like anxiety management and mindfulness. I found them to very useful in getting to know why I feel the way that I do symptom-wise.
I’ve always been aware of what the root causes of my anxiety and depression are; bullying, no self-confidence or self-esteem, struggles with weight and paranoia from all three. These group sessions and meetings with my key worker got me out of the house on a regular basis; something that I hadn’t been doing for at least a year and a half after leaving my job. I hadn’t even been back to the kids club that I was a leader at or back to the charity shop where I had been volunteering up until my job started. I’d even given up going to my writing group that I loved and stopped singing because it no longer brought me any kind of joy. For 3 hours a week it gave me structure and a sense of purpose. I was finally on my way to feeling better with a chance of recovery for the most part.
After so many years of struggling I was finally getting to learn how to deal with being mentally ill all the time. When that ended I was promised a referral to another group for those with mental illnesses (mainly depression and anxiety) and that a letter would go out to request an appointment with a psychiatrist – something I’ve learned hasn’t happened nearly 7 months later due to an error somewhere. This new group is wonderful. I won’t mention what we do there as that’s a matter of confidentiality but I feel very welcome there and people understand what I’m going through there. I may not make it even once a week but it is still there for me to attend when I can either get myself out of bed or work up the courage to attend as despite it being a place where I feel safe, it’s the getting there that still triggers panic attacks.

You might wonder why I’m telling you all of this and the long and short of it is; I don’t you to go away thinking that I am not doing everything in my power to get better to a point where I can work even if it is only for a couple of hours a week. 

Depression and anxiety are always going to be a part of me but I am trying my hardest; I’m sick and tired of being, well, sick and tired and I finally feel like I deserve to get better.

I’ve also split this blog into two parts so keep checking back for the next installment! 



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