Thursday, 29 October 2009

A Difficult Night

So I have spent a night at home. It was horrendous. Just about an hour of sleep and most of the night was spent crying, shaking and trying hard not to do anything too stupid.

I will shortly be going to the hospital again for Ward Round and I'm not sure how I am going to cope with it. I know that this was just a trial run at living on my own again, but I'm just not sure that I am ready yet. Those thoughts of suicide keep creeping into my mind and they are very difficult to shift. The fact that I can't concentrate on anything for more than a couple of minutes at a time means that I am still unable to stop the horrible thoughts invading and taking over my brain.

The problem is that today the policy is that mental illness should be treated in the community, but if you have no family and no developed support system, this can be very difficult to achieve. The change to my medication was only made on Monday and it really hasn't had a chance to kick in yet so I am left in the ridiculous situation of needing to spend more time in the hospital so that I can become more stable, but the probability that there won't be a bed for me when I say that I can't cope.

It is no wonder that so many people suffer from mental health problems for so long. Instead of being able to get well enough to be stable and able to cope with everyday life again in the atmosphere of a safe place, they end up being sent back home while still not well enough to look after themselves and thus more likely to need repeated admissions to hospital because they are never really well enough to have been turned out in the first place.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The Reason For My Silence

I've been a fairly regular blogger since I started this blog in June 2008. I don't write a post every day, but there is rarely a break of more than a couple of days, but regular visitors to this blog will have noticed a long period where I haven't added anything, even about my knitting.

The reason is that I continued to go downhill and I got to the stage where I became suicidal. I couldn't find a reason to carry on with life and even though I didn't actually do anything to harm myself, it became the foremost thing in my mind. Fortunately, I was still capable of doing the sensible thing so I went to see my GP who was so concerned that he referred me to the psychiatric staff at one of the local hospitals and I ended up becoming what is laughingly called an 'informal' patient at one of our psychiatric hospitals which means that I went in voluntarily rather than being 'sectioned' under the Mental Health Act. The local Mental Health Foundation Trust has seven psychiatric hospitals and which one you end up in depends on where you live within the area that the Trust covers.

So, I have been without access to a computer at a time when I probably had more material for the blog than I could possibly use, although whether anything that I wrote during the early days of my incarceration would make any sense is somewhat debatable. Anyway, I have been granted my first bit of home leave and tonight is going to be the first night at home for a few weeks. I have to go back to the hospital for Ward Round tomorrow, when my Consultant will obviously want to know how I have coped and whether I can be allowed to spend a few more days at home without resorting to doing myself any harm.

This has been a somewhat interesting experience for me because although I have suffered from severe depression for 11 years, and I have felt suicidal at one period in the past, I have never had such intimate dealings with the mental health services offered by the NHS. During this encounter I have met some really interesting people, some nice (including a paranoid schizophrenic who was a real pleasure to be on a ward with) and some who really frightened me and who I really wouldn't want to meet on the street. One thing that I have learned is that one of the worst places for encountering discrimination towards people with mental health problems can be a psychiatric hospital, and this discrimination comes from the staff. I have encountered a few really good mental nurses and a lot who were possibly more 'mental' than the patients that they were supposed to be looking after, and I was looked after for a few hours when I was initially admitted by a doctor who was incredibly kind and compassionate at a time when I was extremely vulnerable and completely overwhelmed by everything after having been left in limbo for about nine hours while the psychiatric staff at the hospital to which I was referred by my GP seemed incapable of doing the simplest things (such as ensuring that I was fed and watered; I had nothing to eat or drink in all that time). He made me a cup of tea and got me some toast and did all he could to put me at my ease while he took a detailed history and carried out a full medical examination. If he continues to exhibit this compassion as he progresses with his training as a psychiatrist then he will make a consultant whose patients will consider themselves very fortunate to be in his care.

I need some time to get my thoughts into focus again, but once that has happened I will write a series of posts about my experience and what was good and bad about it all. One thing that I have already decided is that I want to make sure that my voice is heard and that I want to do something to help ensure that those of us with mental health problems don't get 'treated by numbers' instead of being treated as an individual with rights and feelings that need to be taken into consideration in our treatment.

Just Reporting In

This is just a quick post so that you know I am still in the land of the living. Longer post with all the details of what has been happening to me to follow.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Feeling Desperate

I'm feeling pretty desperate at the moment. Nothing seems to be able to lift my spirits and I seem to be spending all my time crying.

Even knitting has taken a back seat.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Brain Training

A month ago I wrote about taking part in the experiment that is being run on the BBC website relating to brain training. I have been pretty good at remembering to carry out the exercise, having managed to complete 27 out of a possible 29 sessions.

My average score is rising slowly, but it can definitely be influenced by which three of the six possible exercises I am required to carry out on any particular day. Three of the exercises I find relatively easy, one a little more difficult, one I have some problems with, and the final one I find almost impossible.

I do not carry out the daily brain training at a specific time of day; I do it when I think of it when I am actually sat at the computer. Sometimes it can be early in the day and sometimes it can be very late at night. It doesn't seem to make much difference to my scores.

I have come to realise as I become more familiar with the exercises that it is very difficult for me to increase my best score on any particular exercise; I seem to have already reached pretty near the maximum that I am going to score for each one. I am able to make this observation because I very rarely get any big red crosses for my selected answer, it is usually a big green tick.

This has led me to ask myself how I can improve on my scores. If I am regularly getting the same or almost the same score for any given exercise, what can I do to score more highly? The result has been for me to consider registering again under a different name and trying to do the exercises on a different computer. You see I generally use my laptop, and all my brain training has been done on it. This means that I am using the touch pad to move around the screen to make my selections; however, if I were to use my PC, I would be using a mouse for the exercises. Would this make a difference to my scores and would I get quicker each day or would I simply reach my top speed after a few days and then just vary my scores by one or two each time I did a particular exercise?

It seems to me that the brain training is less a case of improving my brain's ability to determine the correct solution to the exercise but rather a test of my manual dexterity. I think I shall use this opportunity to carry out a little experiment of my own.

Monday, 5 October 2009

I Can See

There I was, minding my own business trying to decide what to do with myself on this wet and gloomy Monday when my mobile rang. It was the opticians to tell me that both of my pairs of glasses were now in the store and I could come and pick them up whenever I wanted. I needed no encouragement; it was on with the shoes and coat and off I went to the bus stop.

Typically, because it was pouring with rain, I had a longer than usual wait for the bus that I needed and it was almost full already and there were about a dozen of us waiting for it. Fortunately I managed to find a seat and I was soon at my destination. Soon, is of course a relative term, because as has been the case for the last couple of years, there was another set of roadworks on the route which involved temporary traffic lights controlling a T-junction with single alternate line traffic flow.

After walking to the opticians, I was seen immediately and out again within 10 minutes; two pairs of glasses, two cases for said glasses, two cleaning cloths for new glasses. As it was pouring with rain, I decided not to bother wearing my new glasses, I would save that treat until I got home.

So, here I am, sitting at the computer, typing this post, and for the first time in ages I am actually able to read what I am typing with ease. I can see again.

Gloomy Monday

If I still went to work I think that I would have turned over and gone back to sleep this morning. Even for a Monday morning it is unbelievably gloomy.

I have been suffering from a particularly nasty period of depression over the last few months. This is always a difficult time of year because of birthdays and anniversaries, but this year seems to have been worse than usual. I'm not usually affected by the weather: I can feel really depressed on sunny days and perfectly happy on rainy ones. At the moment, however, the gloom seems to be making me feel worse and the fact that it is still so dark at this time in the morning means that I am aware that another year is drawing to its close.

Lack of 'good' sleep is also responsible for how I am feeling. If I take sufficient medication to ensure that I sleep deeply and for a reasonable length of time, then I spend the next day having great difficulty keeping my eyes open. If I take a smaller dose, then I drop off to sleep reasonably easily but wake again just a few hours later.

Depression, and gloom, are not good for one's well-being, but you have to try to find things that enable you to get through the day and hope that tomorrow may be better.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Starting From Scratch

After having completed my new winter hat I realised that the Autumn Rainbow version that I had been working on previously was going to be far too big for me. There was no way that I could carefully unpick it stitch by stitch, row by row; the job was far too much for me to contemplate.

This afternoon, I bit on the bullet and pulled the hat off the needles and unravelled it. I managed to get the wool wound back onto its balls without getting into too much of a mess and then I started from scratch again. I have a couple more rows to do and then I will have finished the rib at the bottom of the hat; I shall try to do those tonight and then get to work on the Fair Isle pattern tomorrow afternoon.

I'm hoping that this will be the final time that I try to get this hat right.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

A New Winter Hat

The first of my new winter hats has been completed. No, it's not the one that I was working on earlier this week; the mistake is still there and a couple of rows need to be unpicked so that I can get back on track with it. I think that is going to be a job for tomorrow.

The hat that has been completed is the same pattern, but a different set of colours.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

I Knew Things Were Going Too Well

Work on the hat continued this afternoon, only being interrupted by my needing to go out for an appointment with my GP.

I actually went to see him for a prescription for antidepressants; I shall run out in a few days and they are not one of the things on my repeat prescription list so I have to see him every time I need some more. We also had a quick chat about my biopsy results and the fact that the sore area on my nose is still giving me some trouble and discussed the ointment and dressings that the consultant at the hospital prescribed. We talked about the weight of my glasses and whether it could be that which is causing the continuing sore area, but having handed my glasses to GP for him to assess the weight and my then saying that I have been wearing them for three and a half years so why have they suddenly started to cause the problems. It was at this point that GP suggested that if I had been wearing the same glasses for all that time, perhaps I ought to go for another eye test. Well, of course, I've already done that and I can pick up one pair tomorrow but the second pair (the ones that had to go back for new lenses because the manufacturers hadn't put the right lenses in the frame) still isn't back yet.

Then it was a quick chat about my dodgy hip and how I am coping with that (and whether or not I am getting enough exercise because of it) and a quick run through my latest blood test which shows that all my levels are within normal limits (except for the couple which we know are always outside the norms; I'm just a bit different to everybody else) and it was time for me to leave and walk up to the chemist's to get my prescription dealt with. All that and I was in with my GP for only 12 minutes.

Once I was back home again, I decided that I would sit down with my knitting and try to get the hat finished. After all, the rows were going to be getting shorter and therefore each would be taking me less time as I progressed. Things were going nicely until suddenly I found that I just couldn't get the pattern right. It's quite difficult trying to keep the Fair Isle pattern going at the same time as I am decreasing stitches. Why couldn't I get it right? Because I had made a stupid mistake in the row before and now I am going to have to unpick that row so that I can put it right.

The hat is definitely not going to be finished tonight!

Working The Crown

Not much knitting got done yesterday. Even though I know that I am getting close to completing the Fair Isle hat I still couldn't summon up the enthusiasm to sit down and get on with it although I did get as far as starting to place markers between every 12 stitches ready for the decreasing for the crown.

It was only once I was almost at the end of the first of the decrease rows this afternoon that I realised that the markers should have been placed between every 14 stitches. So, it was unpick the row, reinsert the markers (in the correct places) and then do the decreases again. I have now done two of the decrease rows and I've removed 24 stitches from the hat; there is an ordinary pattern row between each of the decrease rows.
Even though there have only been two decrease rows completed it can be seen in the photograph above that the crown shaping is already apparent.

Somewhat annoyingly, now that I have only about 20 rows left to knit, and with steadily decreasing numbers of stitches at that, I have managed to get a really good difference in colours on the two balls of wool.

Isn't that just the way of things.

To Anonymous In Australia

I'm not anyone very special; I just write my blog when I can (depression and muse permitting) and hope that some people out there in the blogosphere might consider what I have written as being worth reading. I don't have a huge readership and there are certain sections of the world where I seem to have attracted more attention than I have in others.

Every day there are a number of people who alight on this blog because they have carried out a search for certain keywords and my blog has come up. Some probably don't stay very long because my blog doesn't really provide them with what they are looking for. It can definitely be an amusing exercise to see what search details have led people to your blog and I have written about this phenomena a couple of times in the past. One particular post usually attracts one or two visitors on a daily basis and there are a couple more that come up in the statistics regularly.

One of these is a post that I wrote more than a year ago, which at the time attracted a single comment. The post related to a couple of the key themes of this blog; depression and studying with the OU. Yesterday, I received a second comment on that post, although perhaps it is wrong to call it a comment, more a cry for help.
Anonymous said...

I am at uni and studying. I am about to withdraw or fail a subject due to my depression. I left it to the last minute and now it is too overwhelming and I cannot concentrate on my assignment. This seems to be the way I work and I don't know what's wrong with me. I don't even seem that worried about failing this subject.

I'm not sure why 'Anonymous' sent me this comment, nor am I sure that they would necessarily want me to highlight it, but writing about it here was the only way that I could hope to communicate with this person and beg them to seek help. I know nothing more about them other than that they are somewhere in Australia, but having visited my blog they then visited a number of other blogs on my blog roll before disappearing back into the ether.

So, 'Anonymous', please talk to someone. I'm sure that you must have a tutor or a student counsellor who could help, of perhaps you need to talk to your doctor, but it is important that you talk to someone about your difficulties so that you can get the help and support that you need. You are not alone in being in this position because I am absolutely certain that there are university students around the world who could have written a similar comment to me, but unless you tell someone who is in a position to give the help that you so obviously need, and want, then nothing can be done to help you.