Wednesday, 31 March 2010

I Love My DSi

I have never been much of a fan of video or computer games although I have been known to play the odd game of Spider or Mah Jong on my laptop when I should have been working on an OU assignment. My husband, on the other hand was a fan from the very start. Yes, he bought a little box of tricks that you connected to your television's aerial socket and spent many hours playing Pong.

As basic home computers, which were really not much more than a vehicle for playing games, appeared he moved on to one of those. The purchase of a cheap book from somewhere enabled him to type in rows and rows of code that when set to run created a basic slot machine programme. I would sit watching television and doing some knitting while my husband would be sat at this basic computer (I think that it was a very early Amstrad) adjusting the code of the slot machine programme with the result that it was so like the real thing (except that you didn't need any money to play it) that even I would occasionally have a go.

Although I have used computers both at work and at home, games have never been a major factor in my using them. So it was a bit of a surprise to me that I even considered purchasing a Nintendo DSi a few months ago and when I actually made the purchase I wasn't that certain that I wasn't making a mistake and it would be a waste of money. I could not have been more wrong.

I bought a couple of games at the time that I purchased the DSi, and I have added a couple more since. My DSi goes everywhere with me. It goes into my handbag when I leave the house for anything more than a trip to the supermarket and has proved very handy when waiting for appointments with my therapist, or other hospital appointments. My most recent purchase was the 100 Classic Book Collection. I usually have a book in my handbag too but that is not necessary any more. And while there are a number of books that I probably will never read amongst the collection, it does include some of my all time favourites. I have started reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.

I first read this book, or at least I was supposed to have read it, when I was 11. It was one of the first books that we had to read for our English classes when I went to secondary school. The book is comprised of a number of narratives written by various characters in the book telling the story of the theft of a diamond (The Moonstone), the mystery about this theft, and the diamond's subsequent rediscovery. It was the first of these narratives that I found so difficult to read and which I sort of skimmed through. I shouldn't have because it is really the most important part of the book. I might not have read the book properly when I was 11, but I did when I was a bit older and it has subsequently joined the list of books that I am happy to read again every couple of years.

Other books in the collection include Little Women (Louisa May Alcott), Uncle Tom's Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte), The Pilgrim's Progress (John Bunyan), most of Dickens' best works, others by George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Victor Hugo, William Shakespeare, and probably Britain's favourite author, Jane Austen. To have bought all of these books would have cost me a fortune, and would have filled a bookcase. Instead they are contained in little little cartridge less than 2 inches square.

Oh yes. I love my DSi.


I hate Jobsworths. I expect most of the population of this country hates them too. It's even conceivable that Jobsworths hate other Jobsworths.

You might well be wondering what has brought this on, so I will tell you what happened when I was on the bus travelling to the hospital to see the consultant about my indelicate problem. My appointment was at 9.30 so I left home at 8 o'clock to walk to the bus stop. the bus that I wanted arrived a few minutes after I got to the stop and having boarded it and swiped my Oyster card I sat down in the front seat alongside an elderly lady. The bus set off, went round the roundabout that is just a few yards from the bus stop and within about 400 yards we had joined a very long queue of traffic.

We moved very slowly, taking about 15 minutes to travel half a mile. At this point we were stationary and a man who was on a seat near the back of the bus walked along the bus to speak to the driver. He asked if it was possible for the driver to open the doors to get off as he was feeling sick. The driver replied that it was not possible because we weren't at the bus stop. We had another half mile to travel to get to the next bus stop and at the rate that we were moving it would probably take at least another 10 minutes to get there.

The man stood near the driver obviously in some discomfort and could be seen to hold back from vomiting several times. He implored the driver to let him off, but the driver decided to ignore the poor man who then promptly vomited all over the doorway of the bus, and still the doors were not opened. A lady offered the poor man some wet wipes which he took gratefully and then she turned to the driver and told him that if he had opened the doors when the man had asked then he wouldn't have been sick on the bus. And we still hadn't moved!

At this point the driver did open the door to allow the man to get off, and then we started to creep forward. The next thing was an announcement from the driver that he was taking the bus out of service at the next stop as he needed to go back to the garage to get the bus cleaned up. Most of the passengers got off at this point and decided to walk to the next stop, however, the lady who was sitting next to me and myself stayed on the bus until we finally reached the bus stop. We were lucky because at this particular stop we would have a choice of buses to get us to our destination (we were both going to the hospital for appointments) and a bus arrived about 5 minutes later. I managed to get to my outpatient clinic just before my appointment time, but my consultant was running late and hadn't yet arrived for the clinic so I had a bit of a wait.

Yes, the bus driver definitely qualifies as a Jobsworth.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Filling In Questionnaires

As regular readers will know I am currently receiving psychotherapy at the hospital where I was an inpatient. I am lucky because my psychotherapist is the senior consultant psychologist at the hospital and although he is working me hard during the therapy sessions, he is a nice person and has made a real effort to get to know me so that I can gain as much as possible from this therapy. However, it became evident to him that I needed more therapy than he is able to offer me as much of his work (and that of the other psychologists at the hospital) is with the inpatients. So, in January he referred me back to the hospital where I was receiving psychotherapy before (it's all the same mental health trust).

I have an assessment appointment with a consultant psychologist there in three weeks time and in preparation for this I have had to fill in a series of questionnaires before I attend for this assessment. I fully understand the purpose of the questionnaires because the answers that I give will indicate the areas that need to be explored in greater detail during the assessment.

The easiest to complete was the basic hospital form which required name, address, GP details, whether I had any dependent children or worked with children and, of course, the ubiquitous ethnicity details. The next easiest was the questionnaire that will be so familiar to anyone who has suffered from mental illness and who has come into contact with mental health professional that requires you to answer a series of questions about how you have felt about lots of things during the previous week. That took only a few minutes to fill in because it was just ticking boxes.

The difficulty came in answering the 33 questions on the third questionnaire. Many of these questions required long written answers and a certain amount of soul searching to find the required words. I spent about two hours yesterday evening and another four hours this afternoon and evening, but I eventually managed to complete it. Okay, there were a couple of questions that I didn't answer, but if they really need answers to those then they can be asked when I attend for assessment.

Once the assessment is over I will find out whether I am going to be offered the psychotherapy and then what will probably be a long wait will begin.

For Bippidee (And Anyone Else Who Is Interested)

Dear Bippidee,

Thank you for your comment; like you I read lots of blogs but don't necessarily comment on all of them. You asked about how I knew how many visitors I had to my blog so I thought that I would write and let you know.

I have three methods of determining visitor numbers and all of them are free. There can be significant differences in the numbers that they produce and differences in what information you can derive from them. I think that the one that is most accurate, and the one that I use to determine how many visitors that there have been on a daily basis is Statcounter. If you click on the link it will take you to Statcounter and by following the simple instructions you can create your own free account and copy the script to your blog and have a visitor count of your own.

I hope that this information helps. You can email me if you have any problems.

Best wishes


Blog Posts

At the beginning of the year I promised myself that I would try to write something on this blog everyday. Okay, so I knew that there would be days when it might prove difficult, but equally there would be days when I would suffer from verbal diarrhoea and would write more than one post. When I suffered from a sort of writer's block last year, Mr Smiley told me not to worry about it because I would soon write something meaningful because that was the way that I am; I don't waste words when I have nothing to say.

In January of this year, I managed to write more posts than there were days in the month. February saw me sinking into deep depression and being admitted to hospital again, so it stood to reason that posts may be a bit sparser. But I managed 22 posts for a 28-day month so not too shabby a total. March is now approaching its end and this is post number 31, so even if I don't manage to write anything further today, or tomorrow, I will have managed to average one post a day for the month of March.

I have never written this blog as a way to win friends and to influence people, but I have probably managed to do both during its existence. I have certainly made friends through blogging and some of them are not just 'virtual' friends never to be seen, but real-life, living people who I have met and with whom I conduct a friendship outside of this blog. The influencing people is perhaps a little more difficult to quantify, but if anything that I have written about living with depression has made a difference to someone, then perhaps I can claim that it has had the power to influence.

I know that I don't have the huge readership of many blogs but I do have a band of loyal readers and I worry if certain readers seem to be absent for a while. Before I went into hospital last year, the highest number of visitors on a single day had been 47. I thought that this was fantastic number until Mental Nurse found my posts about Tackling the Mental Health Minefield and highlighted them in TWIM. The number of visitors increased overnight and it meant a great deal to me that others should find something useful or interesting in what I wrote.

Over the last few days there has been a slight decrease in visitors but this is probably because I haven't been posting rather than any other factor. I'm not sure why I haven't been able to write anything, but I have tried a couple of times and nothing seemed to flow from my fingers. Perhaps Mr Smiley was right when he told me not to worry about not being able to write every day because the words would come when I had a message to pass on. I think that Mr Smiley would be really proud of me at this moment because that is what I have done; I haven't worried.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Why Is It ...

... that just as I am starting to be able to sleep at night, the clocks are going forward and I have to do with one less hour in bed tonight?

Actually, I will stay in bed as long as I need to tomorrow morning, after all, it is Sunday and I don't have anywhere to go.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Making Up For Lost Sleep

I'm not sure whether it is because the increase in medication has now built up to a proper therapeutic level or it was just a case of lack of sleep catching up with me, but I have spent a significant proportion of the last 24 hours asleep. Even as I sit here writing this post I know that it would be fairly easy for me to sit back and close my eyes and probably drop off to sleep in a couple of minutes. But I am determined not to do that. I need to stay awake for a few hours so that I stand a chance of sleeping through the night.

So, with that aim in mind I am going to sit down with my knitting this evening and work on Daisy Livingstone Fairy. I have finished knitting all her little bits and pieces of jewellery and I am working on the finishing touches on her jacket at the moment. When that has been completed, there will only be one bit left to knit and that is her hair. This means that tomorrow it is more than likely that I will start sewing Daisy together and stuffing her. And maybe I will add her features too.

Once Daisy Livingstone Fairy is finished I will get back to knitting the teddy bear that I started a couple of months ago. I have enjoyed making these toys and I am sure that toy-making will form a part of my knitting for many years to come.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

A Round Of Applause

Today has been a long day. I know that sounds stupid because days are all the same length. But for me today has been long because I have done a lot of travelling and I have presented my lecture on "A Patient's Perspective On Psychotherapy".

I have managed to incorporate the subject of termination of therapy and my present therapy into the lecture and it has made it a far wider ranging lecture than that which I presented last year. When I was talking to S before we headed to the lecture room, I mentioned that I had included a bit about the termination of therapy and how it can affect the patient, and he replied that he was pleased about that because he felt that it was something that needed to be covered and that I could probably do it far better that the lecturers because I was speaking from personal experience.

Anyway, after a brief introduction from S, I started giving the lecture. Amazingly I did not feel particularly nervous, which considering the extreme anxiety that I always suffer before a psychotherapy session really surprised me. I spoke for just over an hour and when I finished there was a round of applause from the students. Not a gentle polite round of applause but a real enthusiastic hand clapping.

After a short break for coffee, the students were offered the opportunity to ask me questions, and ask questions they did. Lots of questions. S had allowed half an hour for the question and answer session but it went on for more than an hour. I think that all of the students appreciated the opportunity to listen to a mental health patient talk about how mental illness can affect everything that they do in their lives, and how therapy can make a real difference as long as a good therapeutic relationship can be built between the patient and the therapist.

At the conclusion of the question and answer session S and I left for our lunch date. The university is in financial difficulty and can't afford to pay visiting lecturers at the moment. This would never stop me from giving this lecture as it seems to be so well received, but S offered to buy me lunch as payment for my travelling across London to the university and I accepted. We had a lovely meal at a little restaurant just a short distance from the university building and it provided us with the opportunity to chat, both about this morning and the possibility of me continuing to present the lecture whenever the course is being presented, including as a short course in the summer.

After our lunch, S headed back to the university and an afternoon of lecturing on another course, and I headed to the Underground station to begin my journey home. I can't say that I am 'feeling high' like I did last year, but I am feeling quite happy about how well the lecture was received again and that makes all the effort well worth while.

Don't You Just Hate It ...

... when you do everything right and what should result from this doesn't happen?

Yesterday evening I was having problems keeping my eyes open from about 8pm onwards. Not only that, but I was also yawning every couple of minutes. I thought that if I took my night-time medication then I would be able to go to bed and drop off to sleep almost immediately. I was wrong.

Medication was taken at 8.45, and the dose of my night-time medication is sufficient that it should be able to knock out an elephant. Into my jimjams and under the duvet, I rested my head on the pillow and waited for sleep to come. Half an hour later I was more awake than I had been when I had got out of bed yesterday morning.

I knew that I had to do something to help me get to sleep. I tried some knitting; that didn't work. I tried reading a book; all that happened was that my eyes became heavy but as soon as I put my head on the pillow I woke up again. Then I tried the thing that they say you shouldn't do; I started to watch television in bed. At midnight I was still awake with no apparent likelihood of sleep being imminent.

Trying to decide what to do next, I called up BBC iPlayer to catch up on things that I had missed. I wanted to watch the final episode of Series 4 of Doctor Who. So I called up the programme, laid back to watch it and promptly fell asleep. And I slept until the alarm woke me at 6am, to remind me that I needed to get up to get myself ready to head out for the day.

So much for my early night. So much for the medication that is supposed to be able to knock me out within an hour of me having taken it. Still, there is always tonight. Maybe I can get that elusive early night tonight. When I don't really need it.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Ready For My Lecture

Tomorrow is a big day for me. It means an early start because I have to travel to the other side of London, and encounter all that the rush hour brings with it. One of the nightmares of living and working in London is travelling in the rush hour and it is something that I always said I would avoid if at all possible. But tomorrow I must face it because I am off to one of our universities to give my lecture entitled "A Patient's Perspective On Psychotherapy".

Over the last couple of weeks, I have updated my lecture notes, so that I now include the termination of my psychotherapy last May, and the psychotherapy that I am undergoing at the present time. This morning I have printed my lecture notes and they are now sitting in a folder ready for me to take with me in the morning.

It's not an easy lecture to present because it is so personal, but it is important that these postgraduate students, who are all going to be working in a mental health setting, understand what it is like for the patient to undergo psychotherapy. The lecture is mainly based on emails between myself and Mr Smiley and posts on this blog, although it does include details of therapy that I underwent long before this blog came into existence.

It is going to be very difficult for me to talk about Mr Smiley so soon after his death. I'm not sure that I won't want to shed a few tears. When I gave the lecture to last year's students, Mr Smiley rang me as I was walking from the Underground station to the university. Whenever, I was about to do something that was difficult or anxiety-producing, Mr Smiley was call me or send me a text message offering encouragement. He would always tell me that I should imagine that he was there beside me and that if necessary I should imagine myself squeezing his hand for support.

I know that I won't receive a phone call from Mr Smiley tomorrow, but I hope that he will be watching over me. And if I need to, I will give a virtual squeeze of Mr Smiley's hand and hope that he squeezes my hand in return.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Letting Rip

I rarely sleep well on Monday nights because I am usually getting anxious about psychotherapy on a Tuesday morning. Last night was different; I still didn't get much sleep but it was my own fault because I just kept knitting rather than going to bed as I should have done. When the alarm went this morning I didn't want to get out of bed, but I did.

I was feeling very depressed, but I had been expecting that and was prepared for it. No matter how hard you try to not think about significant anniversaries they always creep into your brain insidiously and you just have to learn to cope with it. Today would have been my husband's birthday; he would have been 61. But even though I was feeling low, I wasn't feeling anxious. This was a first for me and I thought that I had the anxiety thing cracked. I was wrong; oh boy, was I wrong.

I got up to the 4th floor, pushed the buzzer, was admitted into the psychological services department, took off my coat and sat down on one of the chairs in the waiting area. And within seconds the anxiety started to build up. By the time my psychologist called me to his room I was suffering gut-wrenching spasms caused by the anxiety.

As I have mentioned before, the aim of this therapy is to stop me turning my anger in on myself; I need to express my anger, when it occurs, so that I no longer suppress it and cause it to fester inside me. As the weeks of therapy have progressed, I have had to learn to stop doing what I have done for most of my life. It isn't easy. Not only because I am having to unlearn the strategies that I have developed to prevent my anger spilling out onto other people, but also because my psychologist is such a nice person.

Today things went better than they have ever done before. It was not long before I was feeling angry; unfortunately I was more angry at myself for getting angry, than I was with my psychologist. Okay, it wasn't exactly what we were after, but it was a start. But things got better and it wasn't long before I was shouting at my therapist, and at one point I was ready to leap out of my chair, cross the office and hit him.

At this point, J decided that things had gone far enough for today, and we finished the session by talking about how I felt, what had been going through my mind as these actions occurred and why it was so important for me to stop the self-destructive practice of internalizing my anger. I told him that I felt really drained, and he replied that this was good because it showed that I had been engaging in the therapy properly and it was finally starting to show results.

I came back home and I could so easily have gone to bed to sleep. But I didn't, I want to sleep tonight, and I had an appointment with my GP this evening so I needed to make sure that I didn't miss that. Tonight I am going to have an early night, and hope that I can sleep the night through. However, saying I will have an early night is easy, actually making sure that it happens is a different thing completely.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Lily's Bad News

Last week I wrote about meeting Lily for tea and conversation. I enjoy our occasional meetings and while I am more than old enough to be Lily's mother I hope she thinks of me as a friend. We talk of many things, sometimes it might be Lily talking about what it is like being a medical student and what she would like to specialized in once she is qualified, while on other occasions I may do most of the talking such as when telling her about what it was like being a patient in a psychiatric hospital.

Recently, we have often talked about her wedding and trying to make arrangements for it while studying medicine. That was a subject on Friday's agenda and it was what prompted my post about reminiscences of planning my own wedding. Therefore, you can imagine my shock when I read an email from Lily today telling me that her fiancé had decided that he didn't want to be with her any more; that he didn't love her.

I have spoken to Lily today, and I offered to be the person who broke the news to the blogging world. In her email, Lily had said that she didn't know how she was going to raise the subject on her blog, so I am doing it for her.

Lily has exams next week and needs to try to concentrate her mind on revising for them so she won't be blogging for a few days. Let us hope that this bad news doesn't impact on how Lily does in her exams.

Getting Some Sleep

I have finally managed to start getting some sleep. There is only one problem. I'm sleeping during the day rather than at night.

When I was younger, and certainly all the time that I was working, I was a morning person. I could face the day, and whatever it had to throw at me, without too much of a problem. I generally needed about eight hours sleep a night, so I used to follow the old adage of early to bed, early to rise. It served me well for many years.

Then I started to suffer from depression and sleep became something that was more difficult to come by. There were times when I would survive on a couple of hours sleep a night for several weeks and then, usually on a Friday evening, my mind would just switch off because my body told it that it could take no more. I would sleep for anything up to 24 hours.

Over the last couple of years I have found myself becoming more of a night owl than an early bird. I can still get myself up early if the occasion requires it, but I am also more likely to be awake at 2am than I am at 9am.

I will probably be able to get myself back to a more normal sleeping pattern, but it may take me a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, I shall continue knitting until I can't keep my eyes open any longer and have to fall asleep. I'm hoping that tonight I can get to sleep at a reasonable hour because tomorrow is psychotherapy day and I need to get up to go to the hospital to see my psychologist and it's best that I don't spend too much of the session yawning.

And talking of knitting, Daisy Livingstone Fairy is coming along nicely. As well as having completed Daisy herself, I have made her dress and I am halfway to completing her jacket. She is going to be a very stylish fairy.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Victoria And Her Finery

There and Back has kindly sent me some more photographs of Victoria, who has been named Victoria Plum.

From her curly hair ...
... to her dainty little shoes...
... Victoria is a picture in purple and lilac.

She is normally the model of decorum, but just for you she has raised her skirts a little to show her very ladylike bloomers.
Victoria is very pleased with her colour coordinated outfit which even includes a lovely little handbag in which she can store her treasures.

And she is really proud of her cape which has been edged with tiny beads, each sewn on by hand.

I am sure that Victoria is going to be very happy in her new home.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Meet Victoria

This is Victoria, well that is her provisional name, her owner may choose to call her something else. Yes, she is the doll that I have been knitting and she was finished very late on Thursday, just in time for me to take her to the Post Office yesterday to send her to There and Back, whose birthday it is today. There and Back sent me this photograph since I didn't have time to photograph her myself before she went in the post. She is delighted with her, so I am delighted.

I need something to keep my mind, and hands, occupied so I have already started making another doll. This time her name is Daisy Livingstone Fairy and she is being made for Lily, who fell in love with the picture of her when we met yesterday. So Lily, if you are reading this, I have a progress report. Daisy's feet have been knitted, her legs and body are finished and her head will be completed tonight.

Friday, 19 March 2010

I Knew It Was A Mistake And Some Reminiscences

Yesterday, when I was on the bus travelling both to and from my hospital appointment, I sat squinting with the sun shining in my eyes. So last night I changed my glasses from the ones with ordinary lenses to the ones that have photochromatic lenses. Because I can't see without my glasses it makes sense to have a pair with these relatively expensive lenses so that I don't need to wear sunglasses. I shouldn't have bothered because today has been very grey; the sky completely covered in cloud and this afternoon a significant amount of rain. I hope that my swapping glasses hasn't put the mockers on the weather for too long.

I've been out most of today; this morning I had to go to the Post Office to post There and Back's birthday card and birthday present, and this afternoon I met up with Lily for a chat and a cup of tea or two. There was a fair bit to chat about because we haven't seen each other since I was in hospital and she kindly visited me a couple of times. A lot of the conversation was about her recent placement at an outlying hospital and how it has allowed her to cross off another specialty from what she might do once she is qualified. We also chatted about her wedding plans and how things were starting to come together.

It reminded me of the planning of my own wedding nearly 34 years ago. The thing that amazes me most of all about what has changed in the intervening years is the sheer cost of everything these days. Shortly after my Mum died, Dad and I were sorting through a lot of her things and amongst the papers that she had tucked away in the desk unit was the bill for my wedding reception. Dad only had to pay a nominal sum for the venue (I think it was £10) and we had decided to have a buffet because we wanted to be able to spend as much time as possible chatting with our guests before leaving to catch the train for our honeymoon. The buffet, which I remember as being pretty sumptuous, including things like smoked salmon, asparagus and prawns which were definitely items in the luxury category then, and the champagne for the toasts came in at £4.50 a head for something like 100 guests. The waitresses who spent the afternoon plying the guests with food offered their time for nothing (although I know that Dad did pay them) as many of them had known my Dad for many years and had known me since I was a toddler.

My wedding dress was made by Mum and cost the huge sum of £15, and that included the cost of the pattern, while my headdress and veil cost me £30. My husband had a three-piece made-to-measure suit from a bespoke tailors and that cost something in the region of £45 (a bit of a luxury but it lasted for years), Our wedding cake, which was three tiers and heart-shaped was made by a lady who used to make wedding cakes for Harrods (we found her through a friend of a friend) and cost me £30 including the hire of a heart-shaped cake stand and knife with which to cut the cake.

Our honeymoon was at the Castle Hotel in Taunton (it had a bridal suite with a four-poster bed) and cost us approximately £300, which was for 10 days full board, and included the cost of extras such as drinks before dinner, wine with our meals and the occasional afternoon teas with dainty little sandwiches and scrumptious cream cakes. I think that our wedding car (a white Rolls Royce once owned by Rod Stewart), the photographer and our wedding album, and flowers came to less than £100.

In comparison with the price of weddings today, ours was cheap. But, and it is a big but, although it cost a lot less than today's weddings, it was a very special day which we all remembered as being both beautiful and very special.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

In Memorium - Mr Smiley

Mr Smiley lost his battle with cancer. Mrs Smiley has asked that this prayer be made in memory of her husband and my dear, dear friend, and for all others who are suffering from or have lost their lives through cancer.

Dear God, I pray for the cure of cancer. Amen.

Seeing Dr M

Although I started writing this blog to record how I was feeling and to document the methods that I use to try to help me when I sink into depression, I have also tried to make sure that it doesn't descend into a series of daily posts saying that I feel awful. I am still feeling as low as I did when I came out of hospital and I seem to be unable to do anything to lift myself out of this terrible blackness.

I went to see my consultant psychiatrist, Dr M, this morning. This was the appointment to make up for the one that was cancelled when I was in hospital. I arrived about 10 minutes before the time of my appointment and amazingly was called in immediately.

We had a long talk about how my mood has been since I last saw Dr M. I admitted that I am finding things very difficult at the moment. I am literally living each day as it comes. I make no plans in case I am unable to do the things that I have planned. I am very depressed all the time. I am not sleeping properly, nor are my eating habits anything like they should be. And while we were talking about all this, I burst into tears. We also talked about my recent time in the hospital and what had caused me to seek help.

Dr M has decided that I need significant help from the CMHT and is going to set that in motion. He has also decided that the dose of both the antidepressants that I take should be raised to maximum levels in an effort to both try to improve my mood and help me to get a proper night's sleep on a regular basis. I have to see him again in three weeks so that we can see whether there has been any improvement and if there hasn't, Dr M has said that a change of medication may be necessary to see if a different combination of drugs will bring about an improvement.

Having read of the problems that so many people with mental health problems have with their psychiatrists, I feel that I am very lucky in having Dr M as my consultant. He is very kind and he listens. Something that I know many people say that their psychiatrists don't do. There is no doubt that having confidence in the people who are responsible for your mental wellbeing can make a significant impact on how things go.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Early Bird ,,,

,,, catches the worm; or so the saying goes.

It was late when I got to sleep last night even though I had promised myself an early night. It was early when I woke up this morning, and with it being Tuesday, and therefore, psychotherapy day, I decided that allowing myself to fall back to sleep was not necessarily a good idea. I needed to find something to do that would keep me awake.

My solution to this problem has been to bring up to date my lecture notes for the lecture that I will be giving next week. I had already cut and pasted various posts from this blog into the lecture notes from last year. I had intended to do the editing one morning last week but things conspired against me. It was a job that still needed to be done and procrastination was not going to make it go away, so I fired up the computer and set to work.

I have added what happened at the termination of my psychotherapy last year, a brief mention of my hospitalization, and some thoughts about the psychotherapy that I am undergoing at the present time. I have also added the section that 'S' asked me to put in about what I think the qualities that a therapist requires.

This additional material has added about 15 minutes to my lecture, but there are a few areas that I will probably skim over, or cut out completely, when the day actually arrives. I am responsible for the whole of the morning session, so while my actual lecture is probably slightly longer than an hour in length, there is still plenty of time left for discussion afterwards. Last year, this developed into a question and answer session rather than the seminar that had originally been planned. 'S' wants it to follow the same formula again. And I am more than happy to accede to this request.

Yes, it can be quite difficult talking about the subject, after all, therapy is a very personal thing. But I believe that it is most important that the postgraduate students get a feel for what it is like to be on the receiving end of therapy rather than just looking at the subject from a theoretical point of view focusing on the different types of therapy that abound.

So, my lecture is prepared. All that is left for me to do is to print it and put it in a folder ready for me to take with me next week. At least waking early this morning has not been totally wasted.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Tackling The Mental Health Minefield Part 11 - Being Admitted The Second Time Around

As regular readers will know I have recently spent a week in hospital again. I thought that I would write a post in the Tackling the Mental Health Minefield series detailing how this second admission went and how I found things on the Admissions Ward four months after my first admission.

I had found things becoming too much for me and thoughts of suicide had started to crowd in again. Having got to this terrible place, I knew that the only thing to do as it was Sunday morning was to make my way to A&E. I'd previously been told if I found myself in this position that I should phone for an ambulance but I felt that this was inappropriate as I could probably get to the hospital as quickly by bus, so that is what I did.

Once I arrived at A&E I booked in at the reception desk, telling them that I wanted to see the duty psychiatric team. I waited on the terribly uncomfortable seats for about 20 minutes and was then called in to see the nurse who was doing assessments. She asked what the problem was, so I told her that I wanted to see someone from the duty psychiatric team. That didn't stop her from taking my blood pressure (which was sky high), pulse (again very high) and temperature (which was normal). then it was back to the waiting area until someone came for me.

It was a long wait. Even the CPN from the duty psychiatric team commented on the length of time I had to wait. It seems that that A&E weren't in any hurry to call her, because she had responded to the call immediately. It seems that mental patients come way down on the list when it is necessary to call someone in. I find this rather strange because you would expect that they would want to get a mental patient out of the way as quickly as possible.

The CPN took me to the room set aside for them, and learning that I was known to the mental health services she proceeded to call up my records. I should perhaps explain here that this is a separate computer system to the hospital's because the mental health services are provided by a completely separate trust. After talking me through what had been going in on my life and had led me to coming to A&E she decided that I ought to be admitted.

There now comes one of those incredible little ironies that can only happen in the NHS. It seems that as a member of the psychiatric liaison team she was allowed to discharge patients but not to admit them to hospital; that needed to be done by a doctor. So she went to the desk in A&E and removed me from their computer then bleeped the duty psychiatric SHO. As with my previous admission, I struck lucky with the doctor who took care of me at this stage of the proceedings.

We had a long talk about how I was feeling, about the lack of sleep (even though the dose of antidepressants that I take at night ought to knock me out pretty quickly), about not wanting to eat, and when I did eat it wasn't the right things, about the nightmares, about the noises that I hear and the visions that I see. It didn't take him very long to decide that admission to the psychiatric hospital was necessary.

After a couple of quick phone calls, we left the hospital and walked to the psychiatric hospital. Then it was into the lift and entry into the Admissions Ward. This time admission onto the ward wasn't the frightening experience that it had been the first time. There were two members of staff waiting for me when we arrived at the airlock, a nurse and a care support worker, both knew me so everything went very smoothly.

Once the formalities had been done, it was through the airlock and onto the ward proper. There was no need to explain to me where everything was and what the procedures were as I had been through it all before, so it was straight to my room, which incredibly was the same one that I had occupied when I was on the ward before, to drop off the belongings that I had been allowed to keep, then into the treatment room for the usual blood pressure, pulse, temperature and blood sugar tests. In the intervening period my blood pressure and pulse had dropped from their excessively high levels although they were still much higher than normal.

With this taken care of, the next priority for the staff was to find me something to eat as I had not had anything since Saturday lunch time. A salad was presented which I half-heartedly ate but the cup of tea that was also provided went down a treat. Then it was back to my room, where I was joined by the duty SHO who took down details of my medication, doses, and when they were taken. He was about to carry out a physical examination when he was called away to an emergency on another of the wards.

So, I was on the ward again. What differences did I see? Most of the staff were the same as when I was on the ward before so little had changed there. Unfortunately, they still seemed to spend the majority of their time in the office and rarely ventured out to interact with the patients. I was berated a couple of times for self-harming and told that I should have asked to speak to one of the nurses, but in my defence I have to say that the reason that I resorted to the self-harm was frustration at never being able to get to talk to a nurse when I needed to. there was also significant evidence of excessive use of force being used on patients, so significant that one of the patients was badly bruised and unnecessarily drugged when her only sin was to not be in her bed at midnight. She made a formal complaint to the consultant psychiatrist when she saw him the following day at ward round, and was discharged a few hours later because it was recognized that excessive force had been used and that it would be better if she were not on the ward when the night staff came on duty that night.

The other change that I saw on the ward was something that surprised me and made me wonder whether there were staff in the hospital, particularly on the Admissions Ward who had been reading my Tackling The Mental Health Minefield posts. And if they had, were they aware that I was Madsadgirl? At my first ward round I asked the consultant if I would be granted leave. He said yes, as I was an informal patient, without any hesitation, but did ask if I would do anything silly if I went out for an hour or two. I said that I wouldn't, but that getting out for a while was the only way that I could get the exercise that I needed (walking does help free up my hip when it is really bad) and that I wanted to be able to go to the shops to get myself a few bits and pieces that I hadn't brought with me. After I had been into ward round, the nurse who was doing that day's ward round went to the office to report that I had been given leave and could have it whenever I wanted it. When I went to inquire about when the next cigarette break would be I was handed a lighter and allowed to go out into the garden by myself. When I had asked for this when I was in hospital the first time, although the consultant had said yes, the nurses had said that it was not possible. Can my posts have been responsible for the change? It's possible, and if they were then I have at least managed to make one change to the way that patients are treated on this ward, for it was not long before another of the patients was able to also partake of this little luxury.

The Ankle Bone Connects To The Leg Bone

I had my lunch and decided to sit down to work on the doll. I had put her aside the other day to spend some time concentrating on the clothes, but I knew that I needed the doll ready for her clothes, so she came out of the bag and sat looking at me. Well she would have done if she had any features.

Her head has now been stuffed to the requisite size and some threads have been drawn up to make her neck. they are only tied in a bow at the moment so that adjustments can be made if necessary. The next task has been to sew her feet to the legs. Her feet are already stuffed so it it quite a fiddly task attaching them to the legs. The first one was attached without too much difficulty. However, having attached the second foot and started to stuff the legs, I realised that the foot had been attached the wrong way round. So the foot has now been amputated and I will have to attach it again. Hopefully, the right way round this time.

Once this bit of surgery has been completed I will need to complete the stuffing of the body and legs, then work on her hands and arms will begin. I know that the hands are going to take a while to complete but it will be worth it when finished. When the hands and arms are attached, I will give the doll some features. Just some eyes and a mouth, but I am sure that she will then have a character all her own. Then her hair will need to be attached. As this has been created in the form of a wig, it will just need to be properly sited on her head and then sewn into place.

The final act will be to complete her clothing. Most of it is now sewn together and just requires the embellishments to be completed. then she can be dressed in her finery and she will be ready to face the world.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Working In Miniature Is Fiddly

This afternoon and evening I have been working on the doll's clothes. Much as I love knitting I really hate having to do the sewing up afterwards. I try to join a new ball at one of the edges of the piece that I am knitting so that I reduce the number of ends that I have to sew in. Unfortunately, because of the design of the doll's clothes, there are hundreds (okay, so that is a bit of an exaggeration) of ends that are having to be sewn in and then cut off.

At the moment I am working on her jacket. I have sewn in all the ends on the main part of the jacket. I have also sewn in all the ends of one of the sleeves, and sewn up the seam. Now I have to sew the sleeve to the jacket. This can be difficult enough to achieve neatly when making a garment for an adult, when you are doing it in miniature it is very fiddly. Fortunately, it will only take a few minutes to sew in now that I have it pinned into position.

I still have all the ends to sew in for the second sleeve and then it too will need to be sewn into position. Then I have the collar to affix; this also has lots of ends that need sewing in before I attach it to the jacket.

There is still a lot of work to be done, but I think that I should be able to manage it to meet the deadline that I have. I'm really looking forward to seeing the doll dressed in all her finery.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Not A Good Day

Today has not been a good day. I was shattered as I have not been sleeping at night, so I took some medication and went to bed at lunchtime. The pills worked and I sunk into a drug-induced sleep. I was woken this evening by a loud bang. Somebody tried to break into the house by attempting to smash one of the double-glazed panels in my back door.

He was spotted running away by someone walking along the road so the police have a good description of him. The damage control man has just left after making the back door secure again.

I'm not sure that I am going to sleep tonight.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Beads, Thousands of Beads

I decided to take a break from working on the doll this evening to concentrate on her clothes for a while. There is a lot of embellishment to be done on the clothes so I know that it is going to take a long time.

I have decided to make her cloak the first thing to be worked on. It's not really a cloak in the accepted sense, more a beautifully shaped sleeveless coat. I have decided to put a row of beads around the coat and with this in mind I have started work and have completed about four inches in half an hour. Not exactly speed sewing but I am getting quicker as I progress.

The most difficult part about it all is threading the needle. There are special needles for applying beads. The beads have relatively small holes so a standard needle cannot be used because its eye is too big to go through the hole in the bead. I wear glasses which have varifocal lenses so managing to line up the thread with the eye of the beading needle has proven to be pretty difficult. It took me about 10 minutes to thread the needle for this first run of beads. Fortunately I cut myself a reasonable length of thread with which to work and I will get approximately a quarter of the way round the cloak with it.

If things go well this evening I am hoping to complete the beading on the cloak. That will be two items of her clothing completed because I did the embroidery required on her bodice earlier today. I will still have her bloomers, skirt, overskirt, jacket and her shoes to work on, but her wardrobe is progressing.

Bendy Girl
asked me in a comment how I was feeling. BG, my cold seems to be getting worse instead of better, but I am keeping myself well wrapped up and hoping that it will be gone soon. I think that it is probably dragging on because I am a bit run down although it is possible that the additional antidepressants that I was prescribed a few weeks ago may be responsible because one of the possible side-effects of them is a reduced ability to fight infections. We'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Stuffing And A Loss Of Memory

I did it. Last night I managed to finish all the knitting for my knitted doll so all that remains for me to do is put it all together. So far I have sewn the seams on the main piece of the doll, leaving a small gap in the back seam through which I have started to stuff her.

Her head is well stuffed and I have started on her legs. I decided to take a break because I need to find the pair of scissors that I had just half an hour ago and have put down somewhere and now can't find. And I need to find a tape measure. I had one yesterday and again I have put it somewhere and I can't remember where I put it.

I'm not sure whether this loss of memory is the subtle approach of dementia or just me being stupid. I'm blaming it on this horrible cold that I just don't seem to be able to shift. I have to admit that suffering from some form of dementia really frightens me. Living on my own would I realise what was happening to me or would it creep up on me and I be unaware of it? But I don't let it cause me to lose sleep; depression does a good enough job of that without me worrying about anything else.

So, I will go in search of my scissors, they can't be too far away, and get back to work on the doll. I'm hoping that I will manage to get her stuffed and put together this evening. Then I can concentrate on her clothes. There is a fair amount of work to be done on them ranging from sewing in the ends and sewing the seams together, to adding hundreds of beads and sequins for the decoration. And when she is finished I will be able to say that all the sequins were sewn on by hand; my hand.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Tying Myself In Knots

I finished knitting the body parts of the doll today. Two tiny little hands with fingers and thumbs (and having read the instructions they are going to be hell to sew together) and two arms to attach the hands to.

I am knitting the final piece now; it's the wig that forms the doll's hair. It is only 30 rows and with 24 stitches at it widest part but it is taking me forever. This is because of the loop stitch that is used to create the hair is hard on my fingers and I am having to take a break every couple of rows. I'm hoping to finish the wig tonight which will give my poor arthritic left forefinger a rest because it is not used so much in the sewing process like it is when knitting.

Tomorrow will see me start to sew up all the seams on the clothes and inserting the sleeves on the jacket. Then I will be sewing the doll together and starting the stuffing process. I am expecting these tasks to take me a couple of days to complete after which I have to start the embellishment of the clothes before dressing the doll in her finery.

Now I have to publish this post so that I can get back to tying myself in knots with the loop stitch and see if I can get the wig completed this evening. I'm almost halfway at the moment but as the wig is started at the neck edge there are fewer loop stitches to work as I get towards the front of the wig. And fewer loop stitches should make the rows quicker to knit.

Updating My Lecture

As regular readers will know, I have been asked again to give my lecture on 'A Patient's Perspective of Psychotherapy' at one of the London universities. I was originally due to give this lecture last week, but owing to having to go into hospital again I asked 'S' if it could be postponed. As it turned out, I was home again before the lecture was to be given but it would have been difficult for me to get it updated and I'm not sure that I was well enough to cope with the experience anyway.

This morning I have contacted 'S' and said that I would be happy to do it on 25th March if that date is still suitable and available ('S' had given me three dates and that one suited me best). He's going to get back to me later to confirm, but no matter when I give it, the lecture does need some work done on it. So I have spent the last hour trawling through my blog looking at the posts that deal with psychotherapy.

I should explain here that the lecture is based on a series of emails that I wrote to Mr Smiley and posts from this blog. I have written a great deal about what has been discussed at my therapy sessions and how I have felt before, during, and after them here, and as such it provides an invaluable source of material for the lecture.

Since I gave the lecture last year, my first period of psychotherapy has come to an end, I have been admitted to a psychiatric hospital (twice) and I have started a new phase of psychotherapy. In addition, I have been referred back to the psychotherapy service where I had my year-long period of psychotherapy for further assessment with a view to me receiving group psychotherapy.

Fortunately my lecture was on my computer so it has simply meant me copying and pasting material from the blog into the lecture and now all I have to do is to edit the additional material, taking out the extra stuff that is not actually about the therapy, and massaging it into a flowing speech.

The course that I give this lecture on is a Master's course on Mental Health, and a significant part of the course covers various aspects of the talking therapies, so the students receive lots of lectures about the different types of therapies that there are, but all from a theoretical point of view. My lecture is the only one given by someone who gives a patient's perspective of what it is like to live with a mental health problem and the value, or otherwise, of talking therapies. I have also been asked by 'S' to include something in the lecture about what I think are the qualities that make a good therapist. Having had four different therapists over the years (one of them informally) I have had the very good, the inexperienced but good, and one who was absolutely appalling so I think that I can give a pretty good answer to that one.

This afternoon I have returned to working on the doll, but tomorrow morning I will get up and go to work editing the lecture and adding the part that 'S' has asked for. It will seem strange revisiting the words that I have written on this subject but I know that the lecture was very well received last year and received an excellent evaluation from the students, so although I know that I will be anxious about doing it all over again, it is important that the patient's perspective is given and I am grateful for the opportunity to do this.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

If It's Tuesday ...

... it must be psychotherapy. So this means that this crazy mixed up lady doesn't sleep well on a Monday night and wakes Tuesday morning with anxiety that makes doing even simple things time consuming.

I never eat breakfast on a Tuesday morning because I feel sick at the thought of it, just as I used to on a Friday morning when I was having psychotherapy before. I start to panic about making sure that I leave the house with plenty of time to make my appointment, allowing for problems with getting a bus that never materialise, and consequently arriving at the hospital long before my appointment time. I usually get myself a cup of tea at the little kiosk on the ground floor of the hospital, and if it isn't too cold or raining too hard, I make my way out to the hospital's little garden to drink my tea and have a cigarette.

The garden can be a tranquil place to pass the time for both patients and visitors. There are numerous squirrels that can be seen racing along the fences and onto the roof of the covered area in the far corner of the garden. A robin guards his territory from all comers and will ferociously attack any bird, no matter their size, if he thinks that they have come to take over his home ground. Sometimes the tranquility is broken by the squawking of parakeets that have become indigenous to the area.

Sometimes, and this morning was one such occasion, the tranquility is broken by shouting from the exercise area provided for the patients from the psychiatric intensive care unit; it is separated from the garden for the main part of the psychiatric hospital by the wooden fence of the hospital garden and the high wire fence around the exercise area. Today there was just one patient in the exercise area when I entered the garden and she was making sure that people knew she was there. The area behind the psychiatric and general hospitals is a park and is used as a short-cut by many people particularly those going to the hospitals from the local station and by others trying to shorten their journey to the local college and to a nearby comprehensive school. The patient in the exercise area spent about 10 minutes or more shouting to anybody that she could see, begging them to set her free or telling them to study hard. Eventually she was called back in from the area and quiet was again restored to the garden.

After having to race up to the fourth floor last week (which isn't easy for someone with an arthritic hip which plays up terribly in the cold) I was constantly looking at my watch this morning to make sure that I wasn't late. The consequence of this was that I arrived at the fourth floor 15 minutes early and then had to sit waiting for my psychologist to come to collect me and take me to his office. That meant 15 minutes for the calmness that I had manage to achieve sitting in the garden to disappear and 15 minutes for anxiety to take over; stomach-wrenching anxiety that was physically painful.

Today's session seemed to pass in a flash. My feelings changed from minute to minute; it was hard, it was painful, it was emotional, it was thought-provoking, I was frightened, I was anxious, I was angry. We talked about whether I saw it as a form of torture, for that is often what the expression on my face as I enter my psychologist's office seems to indicate. We talked about whether I felt that the therapy was working and we talked about why I find it so hard to stop turning my anger against myself.

There were moments this morning when I felt so angry that I felt as though I was going to explode, and one moment when I literally saw red. Yet, on leaving the hospital this morning I felt calm. I felt that although the session had been hard work that I had tried to engage in that work in a way that meant that I wasn't punishing myself. And at the end of it I had a sense of well-being that I don't think that I have ever felt before.

I'm sure that when next Tuesday arrives I shall be anxious as usual, but I also know that it is possible for me to work at the therapy and for it to help me to stop trying to martyr myself by directing feelings at myself when they should rightly be directed elsewhere.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Having A Cold

The Fuddled Medic has asked how my cold is this morning and I have to say that it is in full flow. I have a streaming nose, eyes that are constantly filling with tears and a cough that is extremely painful on my chest.

I managed a pretty reasonable night's sleep all things considered. I switched off the television at 9pm, lay down on my pillow and I was asleep in seconds. And I slept through until 6am.

I have managed to make myself something to eat, and actually managed to eat it, and I am now watching David Tennant's last episode as Doctor Who (I recorded it so that I could watch it again) wondering what I can do that won't make me cough too much.

I think that staying in bed as much as possible is definitely on the cards because I don't have the energy to do much else, and it is the best way that I know for getting me through this stage of a cold. Whatever happens to me today, I want to be well enough to go to my psychotherapy session tomorrow. So fingers crossed I will get over the worst of this plague today and I will get up tomorrow feeling much better.

So, Fuddled Medic, that's how I am feeling today.

Sunday, 7 March 2010


Actually, they are bloomers rather than pants. Yes, the doll has some bloomers and they are gathered at the knees and at the waist with ribbons; pretty much like the real thing would be.

Her wardrobe is almost complete now. Just her shoes and bodice to knit and a little bit of finishing off on her cape. Yes, there is a lot of sewing together of pieces still to do and all the embellishing but her extensive wardrobe is coming along nicely.

I've spent much of today wrapped up in afghans and a duvet with not much more than my hands exposed in an effort to sweat out this cold. Plenty of paracetamol over the last few days has helped too. A niggling cough has developed but I have my good old standby for such occasions; cough candy.

I'm hoping that I will be over this cold by Tuesday when I have to go for my next psychotherapy session. I just don't want to have to face therapy with a cold making me feel down. So it will be an early night tonight, with a couple of blankets to make sure that I am extra warm. And with a bit of luck I might start to feel a bit more human tomorrow; depressed maybe, but human.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

As I Lie Here In My Bed

I have spent all day in bed. It's not the depression (I can cope with that, I think) but the nasty cold that I have that has brought about this state of affairs.

I spent much of this morning sleeping, colds have that effect on me, and this afternoon I have spent my time watching television and knitting. The doll's jacket now only needs its sleeves, and I am working on the first of those at the moment, to finish it.

One of the things that I have discovered about knitting toys and their garments is that they can actually take longer to make than those for a baby. Lots of little pieces that don't necessarily take particularly long to knit but are fiddly and time-consuming to sew together and finish off. However, having said that, I am quite enjoying this foray into toy making and I can't wait to see the finished doll in all her finery.

So I shall spend the rest of this evening half watching television as I work on two little sleeves. Victoria's clothes will hopefully be finished as far as knitting is concerned either tomorrow or Monday. Then the work begins on creating Victoria herself. I have read the instructions and I don't think that she is going to cause too much of a problem although creating her features is likely to be a bit of a challenge as they are embroidered on and I want to make sure that she doesn't end up with one eye higher than the other, or a lopsided smile, and her hair should be interesting. It's made in the form of a wig which is knitted using a loop stitch and then applied to her head.

I am sure that she will look beautiful when she is finished but there is a long way to go yet, so I guess I shall have to stop pounding the keyboard and starting clicking the needles.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Where Have All The Haberdashers Gone?

There was a time, certainly in my lifetime, when just about every shopping centre had a haberdashers. Even the village that I used to live in, which had only about a dozen shops, had one. These shops were often like Aladdin's cave, full of wool, and threads, and lots of other items that one would use to make, and repair, clothing. They also stocked many other things like table runners, pretty little tray cloths and doilies, and often various items of underwear.

In many of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple stories, the elderly sleuth visits the haberdasher's shop in order to gather information while she bought wool for someone's vest, or some tray cloths, or some other such item.

Haberdashery departments were to be found in department stores too. So I felt reasonably sure that I would find the items that I wanted in John Lewis in Oxford Street. I was wrong. I managed to get the lurex yarn that I wanted, but there was no sign of a fluffy yarn or the silk flower embellishments. I did manage to find some wonderful little beads (purple iridescent round beads and bright green bugle beads) which when placed on sequins will enable me to make flower shapes and leaves, unfortunately they didn't have the sequins. So I decided to make my way to Croydon.

So a journey by bus and train found me pounding the streets of Croydon. It has a department store, with a haberdashery, not as good as that in John Lewis, but pretty good all the same. Or it did the last time that I went there. Unfortunately, the store has fallen on difficult times and many of its departments no longer seem to be there, and one of those missing was the haberdashery. So Croydon turned out to be a total failure.

There was one last chance. I knew that I had seen some sequins in the shop where I had bought the polyester stuffing that I had bought earlier in the week so it was another bus journey to that shopping centre. And there they were, some lovely iridescent sequins which will go beautifully with the purple iridescent and green beads.

It has been a long day, there have been four journeys by bus and one by train, and there has been lots of walking, but I think that I now have all that I need to decorate the doll's clothes. It is going to take nearly as long to do the embellishing as it will to make the doll and her clothes so I had better get back to work as I have a self-imposed deadline to meet to get the doll finished. It has to be in the mail in just under three weeks so I am going to have my work cut out, so if I don't post you will know it is because I am hard at work making Victoria (the doll's name in the book that I am working from) as beautiful as possible for someone who I am sure will love her when she receives her.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Sleeping And Knitting

I have spent a significant part of today asleep; it's a shame because I wish it was a significant part of the night that I could sleep. But having managed a reasonable amount of sleep, I have at least managed to do some knitting today.

This may seem a little thing, but when I say that I have managed to do some knitting today, it is actually quite a lot of knitting; certainly more than I have managed for a few days. Today I will complete the doll's underskirt and start work on her jacket. There is still much work to do on her clothes before I actually start work on the doll herself. Actually I have cheated a little and done one of her feet already. Much of the doll is actually made in one piece (well her legs are done separately and then joined at the hips) so once I get started on her I will be able to watch her grow as I complete each row.

Having never knitted toys before I have to admit that this is a bit of a learning curve for me but even though my mood is low, I am actually get some sense of enjoyment watching the various pieces of the teddy bear and the doll being completed. Teddy has taken a bit of a back seat for the moment because he is not needed for a few months yet, but I want to give the doll to a friend so she is going to take all of my spare time at the moment.

I still have to find the embellishments that I want for her clothes. This means searching out somewhere that sells a variety of knitting yarns (I need something fluffy in the colour of the cloak), some glittery yarn (for embellishing the bodice and making her jewellery), and something like ribbon roses (to embellish her underskirt, overskirt and jacket). It's amazing how difficult it can be to find all of these things in one place but I am hoping that John Lewis in Oxford Street might be that place, so I may try to force myself out tomorrow in search of these items.

This may not seem like much, but it has been difficult for me to do anything other than exist for the last few weeks and making a plan like this does seem like a major milestone. This excursion will depend on how I am feeling physically because I also have a raging sore throat at the moment. But making plans is a good sign, and I am going to hang on to that thought.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Was This Really How My Life Was Meant To Be?

Depression is crowding in on me again. Having spent nearly a week in hospital and surviving the weekend at home I hoped that the slight improvement in my mood was an indicator that things were starting to get better. But I was wrong.

Last night it was about 3am before I got to sleep, which on the heels of only a couple of hours sleep on Monday night, meant that I woke this morning feeling dreadful. Not only am I tired but I am feeling much lower than either Monday or yesterday. It is that awful vicious circle again; feeling low so I can't sleep, not being able to sleep so I feel low.

The feeling of worthlessness is overpowering. I want to do so much but have neither the energy nor inclination to do anything. It is impossible to focus on anything for more than a few minutes, and for someone who was known for her focus and determination that is difficult to take.

I haven't been able to concentrate for long enough to read a book for many weeks now. Knitting, a pastime that I have enjoyed practically my whole life, is something that I can only do for a short period of a time before I have to take a break. This means that something that ought to take just hours to do is taking days.

Cooking has become an impossible chore and eating only a little less so. I know that it is not good that I am feeling this way about everyday things but it is almost impossible for me to do anything about it. Life, that once was so enjoyable, is now difficult to contemplate. The terrible thoughts of death and harm are forever crowding in and I seem powerless to stop them.

Was this really how my life was meant to be?

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

A Walk On The Dark Side

Tuesday is psychotherapy day for me at the moment. I always wake with a feeling of trepidation (although most Monday nights just recently I haven't managed much sleep) and an awareness that I am going to be tested. Because I have this thing about always being on time for any appointment, I always arrive early, sometimes very early, and today was one of those days. This morning the bus arrived within a couple of minutes of me getting to the bus stop and it seemed that there were not many people who wanted to get on or off the bus because the journey seemed to fly by.

Arriving early this morning meant that I was able to go to the Outpatients Department to make an appointment to see my consultant psychiatrist (I should have seen him last Thursday but as I was an inpatient and seeing the ward consultant, the appointment was cancelled). Unfortunately I won't be able to see him for a couple of weeks as he is off for two weeks, but I can live with that. After having completed this task, I bought myself a cup of tea and went out into the garden to pass the time before my psychotherapy appointment. I had almost an hour to wait, but it was quite pleasant sitting in the sun and I had my Nintendo DSi in my handbag so I could do a few puzzles to pass the time. And time passed much quicker than I expected because when I looked at my watch I found that I only had a couple of minutes to make it up to the 4th floor. There are two lifts, a large one and a small one and only the small one goes to the 4th floor. Usually I have to wait ages for this lift, but today as luck would have it, it was at the ground floor and the doors opened as soon as I pressed the button. I made it to the 4th floor with about a minute to spare instead of being about 10 minutes early as I am normally.

The work that we are doing in this psychotherapy is related to me directing anger at myself rather than at others. I have, for as long as I can remember, tried to bottle up my anger and avoid lashing out at others either verbally or physically. This has meant that I have ended up hurting myself emotionally and mentally. In these sessions I am encouraged to feel anger towards my therapist and not keep it bottled up. Today it happened in a way that it hasn't before and it was an overwhelming feeling.

For the first time, I found myself physically shaking with anger and only finding release from it by shouting at my therapist and taking it out on the arm of the chair. I was a little shocked by how much pain I felt within my body through the tensed up muscles and the difficulty with breathing. It seems strange to be undertaking therapy where the aim is for me to get angry and express it in a way that means that I am not containing it; it is more usual for people to undergo therapy to help in management of anger to contain that anger so that it does not hurt other people.

During the last part of the session, my therapist asked me how I felt after our sessions. I said that I usually feel very drained, often very emotional, and that it is not unusual for me to need a nap in the afternoon to cope with the feelings. Today, perhaps somewhat strangely, I have not needed a nap. I have actually felt quite calm and relaxed, far more so than I have for a long time. It seems that having pushed me to feel anger in a way that I probably haven't since I was a small child, my therapist has started me on the path to letting my feelings out. It's not easy being angry with someone who is a nice person, but I am finding it easier to express my anger as the weeks progress.

After my therapy session I walked to the shops, had some lunch, bought the knitting needles and polyester filling that I need for the teddy and the doll that I am working on, and some extra wool that I needed for the doll's clothes. I still have to buy some bits and pieces to decorate the doll's clothes, but that means a trip to a shopping centre with a shop with a good craft department; perhaps a job for tomorrow. Having managed to get the very fine needles that I required for the doll, I can now start work on her when I have finished the piece of her clothing that I am working on at the moment. Like teddy, she will be photographed in all her finery once she is completed.