Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The End Of Psychotherapy

This morning I had my last psychotherapy session with JR. I arrived early, as usual, but this gave me time to sit in the hospital's garden and contemplate what was going to happen with a cold drink and a cigarette. Considering how I usually feel when I have a psychotherapy session, today I was calm and composed. The ending of therapy had been a bad experience for me previously but I was sure that would not be the case this time.

Today's session was more like a chat between two old friends and it wasn't until about half way through the session that I had even a hint of anxiety, and even that passed quickly. I would be lying if I said that it was not an emotional experience, and it would also indicate that I had not been partaking of it seriously. We touched on the good sessions and the not so good ones. We talked about how I had spent most of my life turning my anger in on myself and how that had damaged me and how we had managed to take the first steps towards me being able to stop this destructive pattern of behaviour and hopefully towards me being less self-critical. We talked about my feelings of isolation and how I had made an effort to improve this by joining the knitting group.

We talked a little about the therapy that is to come. While it is impossible for me to continue receiving one-to-one therapy with the NHS at present, I know that I will soon be undergoing group psychotherapy. This will be something new for me and we talked about the difficulties that I am likely to encounter in a group situation. Now it is just a case of waiting for a start date and a meeting with the therapist in charge of the group.

The minutes passed by very quickly and it was soon time for me to leave. One of the things that mark the passage of my week is no longer a regular item in my calendar. For the eight months that I have been attending psychotherapy with JR, I have only missed one possible appointment and that was when I had day surgery two weeks ago. Difficult as I have sometimes found therapy, I have never thought that I would give it a miss. I have many problems that we have only had the time to scratch the surface of, but having made that initial scratch I am now much more aware of these problems and have a few strategies for helping me overcome them. I will probably never be a completely normal person, but then what is normal, and why would I want to be like that anyway?

Friday, 23 July 2010

Is It Blogger's Block Or Too Much Whirling About In My Mind?

I've managed to make it to the library again so that I can write something for the blog, though having now sat down to do so I find myself struggling for something to say. This is a somewhat unusual situation for me to be in because while I find it very difficult to talk to people, I usually have very little problem writing about whatever springs to mind.

I have been feeling really under the weather for the last few days. I have been very tearful much of the time, found it difficult to settle to do anything for longer than five minutes, and been in excruciating pain from the surgery that I underwent last week. the pain has been so intense that there have been times when it has brought me out in a cold sweat and caused overwhelming bouts of nausea.

And sleep has been difficult to come by even though the medication that I take at night often leaves me drowsy throughout much of the following day. For the last two days I have been eating breakfast and then going back to bed to try to catch up a little on what I seem to be missing at night, but I don't want to do this too much because I am afraid that I will get back to the cycle of nocturnal living that I was going through a few months ago.

While all of this is happening my mind seems to be constantly churning over stuff, much of it things that I don't want to think about at the moment. I know that I can't put everything off for ever, but I need to deal with things in manageable portions so that I don't become so overloaded that I implode again.

So, it's a strange post from me, but hopefully having actually sat down to write it has helped in some small way. I shall be back again tomorrow when I will hopefully have something more meaningful to say.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Psychotherapy And The Wonderful World Of Bloggers

Today I have been for my penultimate psychotherapy session with my current therapist. He is a lovely man and therapy with him has been good. We talked today about it being so near the end of our work together and he asked how I felt about that, especially in light of the disastrous termination of therapy that I experienced last year. There is no doubt that having a very experienced therapist makes a big difference, but as with all things people have to be trained and I am sure that in the future my previous therapist will be very much better at handling termination of therapy than he was with me.

I will miss my Tuesday sessions, not least because they have been responsible for a bit of structure and routine in my life for the last eight months. Today we talked about a wide range of subjects not all of them things that I would have considered as subjects for discussion during therapy. I said that I felt that while I still find it difficult to talk about my feelings when we are in a session, something that I don't think I will ever feel comfortable doing, one really positive thing to have come directly from this therapy was joining the knitting group.

It was as a result of one of our sessions that I made my first tentative steps into the world of the knitting group. My therapist encouraged me at a time when things were particularly difficult to take that first step and like blogging it has made a difference to my life. I haven't been for two weeks (the first week because of the trauma of becoming homeless and then last week because I really couldn't face it so soon after my surgery) but tomorrow I will be going and taking with me a finished item for all to see. I have just a few rows left to knit on the shawl/stole that I have been knitting for the last few weeks. I actually started it a day or two after my last visit to the knitting group and today I will finish the last of the 554 rows. It will still require blocking to show it off in all its glory but that is something for later.

I talked about going to the knitting group tomorrow and having this wonderful work of art to show to all. My therapist then asked why I had not talked more about my knitting in my sessions with him. His question was "Did I not think that he would be interested?" After thinking about this I suppose that I didn't think of it as being a subject for therapy, but following a complicated pattern and creating a work of art, as this shawl is, probably says quite a lot about me that I find impossible to express orally. One thing is certain, I will be taking it with me to next week's session to show him what I can do.

We also talked a little about my blogging. He has never asked for details of my blog and I have no idea whether I have given him enough information to be able to find it that easily, but one of his comments leads me to believe that he may have come across it at some time. He spoke of my ability to express myself in my blog in a way that I find very difficult, if not impossible, to do face to face. There is no doubt that blogging is a way of expressing my frustrations and pain and despair without having to burden someone with what I need to say. After all, you can carry on reading each post if it interests you but you don't need to continue to read if you find that what is being said is not interesting or thought provoking. I have always tried not to write post after post about how depressed that I am. There are only so many ways in which you can say it and I don't want to come across as someone who whines continually about how bad their life is. My life sucks; it's not how I thought it was going to turn out but it's a whole lot better than that of many other people out there.

This brings me nicely to what I wanted to say about bloggers. I know that it is something that I have said many times before, but it is worth saying again because I think that it is very important. There are some really nice people out there in the blogosphere and the supportive comments that I have received after my last few posts show how much we care for each other, even if we never actually meet. I may not be able to deal with comments as quickly as I would like owing to my limited Internet access at the moment, but logging in today as I have and finding six comments on my last post, all very supportive and kind, has reduced me to tears in the public library. As someone who hates showing emotion in public, I think you will understand just how much the sentiments expressed in these comments has moved me and saying thank you just doesn't seem to be enough, but it will have to do for the time being.

Once I am settled into some more permanent accommodation and have an Internet connection that I can access all the time, I will try to write most days again and to include photographs of whatever I am knitting so that you can keep up with how things are going. Once I have finished the shawl today, I need to head back to the socks so that I can get them all knitted and the patterns written ready for entry into the competition. I have five pairs to complete although socks grow a lot faster than the kind of lace knitting that I have been doing over the last few weeks, so while it may seem like a huge mountain of work, I think that I should be able to manage it without too much trouble.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Being Homeless

Life has not been easy over the last couple of weeks but I have survived thanks to the support of some lovely people. I would like to be able to say that it was the staff from the CMHT but it wasn't. I have had contact with CMHT staff almost every day since I left the house, but it has rarely been the same person twice and it seems that we go over the same things every day.

When I was seeing the Home Treatment Team when I came out of hospital the first time, my biggest complaint was that they seemed to work to a formula. It was always the same questions, and you could almost see the cogs going round in their brain as they mentally ticked off the questions. How have you been sleeping? How is your appetite? How are you feeling? What is your mood like?

When I became homeless, a room was found for me in the respite home that I stayed in after my first hospital admission. Unfortunately, it was only for five nights, which meant that last Monday somewhere else had to be found. The staff in this respite home are absolutely wonderful. Nothing is too much for them and yet they are almost certainly on minimum wage and have no formal training for the job that they do. they ensure that we have a good home-cooked meal every evening and that there is always someone who you can talk to if you need it. The house has nine bedrooms (two of which are for long-stay residents) which means that it is not an easy place to get in to. Run for the benefit of the local mental health trust, a week's stay costs £55 which is never going to break the bank and means that it can be afforded by just about anyone.

My stay there coincided with the long run of hot weather which meant that I spent much of my time sitting in the garden under the umbrella. I did some knitting, some puzzles, and played some games on my Nintendo DSi (this has to be one of the best investments that I have ever made). The knitting progressed slowly, but progressed nonetheless. Even though I did not sit in direct sun at any time during my time there, I came away with well tanned arms which means that my hands and arms no longer look like porcelain.

Last Monday I had to move from the respite home so with my belongings packed in the boot of a taxi, I made a tearful farewell to the lovely lady who is the home's manager with exhortations that I must visit them regularly for a cup of tea and a chat.

The move of temporary accommodation has found me in a hostel most of the inhabitants of which are men with drink and/or drugs problems. While many of the inmates leave a lot to be desired in the way of cleanliness, once again the facility is lucky in its staff. The manager and deputy manager have looked after me very well ensuring that I had a room on the first floor so that I didn't have to climb multiple flights of stairs to get to my room (my arthritic hip is giving me quite a lot of problems at the moment).

I am the only person in the facility who is not on benefits of any kind which means that I have to pay for my board and lodging out of my pensions. The problem with this is that the sum paid weekly by the benefits people for each of the inmates that they support is actually higher than I receive as a pension (well, four pensions actually; two occupational pensions of my own and two occupational widow's pensions in respect of my husband, both of which would cease if I was to remarry or even formally cohabit with a new partner). The manager has negotiated with the head office of the company that runs this hostel and it has been agreed that I can pay half the normal rate, but at £190 a week, this is still considerably more that I paid at the respite home.

The difference between the two places could not be more extreme, but at least I have a roof over my head. Hopefully, this situation will be rectified in a week or so. I have found a ground-floor studio flat a few hundred yards from where I was living and hope that I will be able to complete all the financial aspects over the next week and then be able to move in. Being in the same locality as my former residence means that I don't need to change doctors, and I will be even closer to the bus stop serving the buses that I use most often. In fact it is just a few yards from my new front door.

Last Tuesday was the day of my surgery and I am now on heavy duty painkillers and antibiotics. Sitting is at times painful, but each day gets easier and I am hoping that I will be pain-free in a couple more days. I was warned that I would suffer a great deal of pain after the operation, but it has not been as bad as I thought it might be, and I now have to hope that the problem does not arise again.

I am going to try to get to a location that offers free
wi-fiaccess every couple of days over the next few weeks so that I can keep you up to date with how things are going. I would also like to thank everyone who has sent me good wishes over this difficult period. Bloggers really are the nicest people and it means a lot to me that so many have taken the time to send me a few words of encouragement.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


At 8 o'clock tomorrow morning I will be officially homeless. Yesterday I found somewhere to stay for a couple of weeks while I sorted out some rented accommodation only to receive a phone call this morning while I was waiting for the bus to take me to my psychotherapy session saying that the offer had been rescinded.

I'm sure that you can imagine how I felt. By the time that I got to see my therapist I was an absolute wreck and it didn't take him many seconds to realise that there was something seriously wrong. We talked through the situation and he made a couple of phone calls to the CMHT and managed to make arrangements for my key worker to see me once the therapy session was over.

We continued with the therapy session by discussing the impact that this has had on me. At that moment I felt alone and vulnerable and suicide was at the forefront of my mind. Much of the rest of the session was spent talking about the way that I am constantly suffering setbacks and how this is causing me to sink into deeper and deeper depression.

I don't have psychotherapy next week because I am due to go into hospital for my day surgery so I won't see my therapist for two weeks and then there will only be that session and one more before this course of psychotherapy ends. We talked about the impact that the ending of therapy will have on me. I said that I thought that I had accepted that end was in sight, but my therapist is concerned that even though I think that I will be able to cope, it may be harder than I think and that I may experience a sense of grieving.

I made my way to the CHMT and we rang around countless bed and breakfast places to try find me some temporary accommodation but none had vacancies. I left them and made my way towards home and a visit to an estate agent that I knew had some accommodation for rent. I have found myself a ground-floor studio flat that I can move into in two weeks time. It is in the same road that I am living in at the moment so I know the neighbourhood and it is just yards away from the bus stop that serves most of the buses that I use on a frequent basis. I have to go into the estate agents tomorrow to fill in the necessary paperwork and pay a holding fee.

This evening I am going to have to spend time on the web trying to find myself some accommodation for the next two weeks. I think that there are a couple of places not too far from where I am at the moment so keep your fingers crossed that one of them will be able to provide me with a bed for a couple of weeks.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

A Difficult Time

I'm having a very difficult time at the moment, which is why posts have been a bit few and far between. And it is about to get worse because I am going to be without access to the internet.

I will be moving into new accommodation in the next few days and as this is likely to be temporary accommodation to tide me over until I can get myself something more permanent, luxuries like a phone line and internet connection are likely to be unavailable. I will, however, try to get myself to a place with free wi-fi a couple of times a week so that I can keep up with all my blogging friends.

So, if you don't find any new posts from me don't worry too much, I will post as and when I can.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

I Won A Prize!

As regular readers will know, I go to a knitting group on a Wednesday afternoon/evening at I Knit London. Over the last few weeks I have also been going on a Thursday. Some of my fellow knitters go to just one of the evenings, but there are a few who attend both.

This week we have been raising money for Mencap by selling cake and cups of tea and coffee. There has also been a raffle which had 12 donated prizes including a wonderful bag of goodies from the Knitter magazine, a lovely lace shawl, a gift voucher from I Knit London, several prizes of various toiletries from one of the local shops, and some note cards and photograph frames donated by Mencap.

I was very good last night and managed to avoid the cakes but I did buy some raffle tickets. This evening I bought a couple more raffle tickets and indulged in some cake and cookies. It was nice to be able to support a charity while we were enjoying our evening's knitting.

At about 7.30 this evening it was time for drawing the winning tickets in the raffle. My record for winning prizes in a raffle used to be very good years ago, but in recent years my luck in such events has been appalling and it seemed that this was going to be another of those unlucky occasions. As the winning tickets were drawn prizes were won by those who had bought the tickets immediately before and immediately after those that I had bought both yesterday and today. It is bad enough to be so close once, but when it happened four times I was beginning to feel a little paranoid. And then it was time for the eighth prize to be given, and somewhat unbelievably, mine was the winning ticket.

My prize was a set of beautiful note cards. They are made from beautiful thick handmade card with a wonderful flocked design on the front. The design is swirling flowers and leaves and there are two each of three colours, black, brown and white. And the box that they come in has the same lovely flocked design on its lid making it a very beautiful gift.

What is extra specially nice about this prize is that not only has Mencap been the focus of our fund-raising, but the note cards have been made in a fair trade project in rural Bangladesh for Mencap. The cards are just so beautiful that I would find it difficult to use them. However, I will use them when I want to send a greeting or communication to someone special.

I wish that my luck in other areas of my life could be as good.