So. It is exactly a year since I last wrote anything here. That is strange. In a way it feels far less time, but it also feels like a lifetime ago that I was blogging. I am not sure if this is a return to blogging, or just a one-off post to let people know what has been happening over the last year etc. Most of the time I don’t feel the same need to write anymore as I used to, but I do miss the community and the support, and sometimes something happens and I feel like blogging about it, so we’ll see.
So, what’s been going on then? Last time I wrote I had been going through a particularly bad patch, and had just seen Dr E and been restarted on anti depressants. I am pleased to say that these seemed to have a gradual but noticeable impact on my mood, and things improved to some extent. Probably the most noticeable effect was decreased anxiety – after I had been taking them for a while I needed far less Diazepam than I had been using, which was a very positive thing. I did have a lot of difficulty in the spring and summer with my eating however. I lost quite a lot of weight, and got down to a fairly low, significantly underweight BMI, and there was a lot of talk about referring me to the eating disorder service, which I really didn’t want, and I was told that if I continued to lose weight I would have no choice but to see them, and that hospital would be likely as I clearly wasn’t going to engage with them in the community. I don’t really know what triggered off this episode, although it was at least partially related to my mood, and I remember saying that if I died from my weight then that would be a slightly more socially acceptable way of dying than actively killing myself. But I don’t know why then, and why food became such a massive issue. I did have an awful lot of difficulty with food, and I was actually finding it really terrifying – it was certainly the worst my eating disorder has ever been. I was completely taken over by it, and in retrospect it is somewhat scary how much of a grip it gained over me, and how easily I could have gone further down that path. Of course at the time I was just delighted to be losing weight. Again, that gradually begun to improve, and I started to gain weight and feel a bit stronger and less in pain – it is amazing how much more uncomfortable things like chairs become, and how much more easily you bruise etc, and I remember my laptop hurting my hip bones quite a lot if I was leaning back with my laptop on my lap, as I tend to do. I have to confess, I would be lying if I said a large part of me wouldn’t like to go back to being underweight like I was, as I did feel more comfortable with my body, and certainly more in control of things. And I can’t say it will never happen again. But at the moment my weight seems to be reasonably stable, and I am not engaging in any ED behaviours, although a lot of the thoughts are still present, and probably always will be.
Hmmm, what else? I did open air Shakespeare again last summer, and also a couple of charity concerts. I also did a ballet exam at the beginning of July. I did another charity concert in the Autumn, with the same team as the one the previous Autumn, and with the same singer headlining, and again, that was a great experience. I also finally got managed to get back to driving, and had some lessons, and then passed my test in October, which has been really fantastic. As most of you probably know, I live in a very rural area, with very little public transport, and so was very reliant on my mum to drive me around. Early in July she had to go into hospital for an operation, and wasn’t allowed to drive for several months after that, which is partially what finally stirred me into action I think! Prior to that, L nagged me every single time I saw her about taking my theory (I had done it twice before, but both had expired) and I actually eventually booked that to get her off my back! And then my mum not being able to drive was the push to get the practical out the way. I have to say, I now can’t imagine my life without my car. The thought of not having it scares me so much that I won’t even book it into the garage on a day when I shouldn’t need it, because being without it just makes me feel really trapped. So I think that has been a really big thing for me.
Some things have been very difficult, besides the eating. At the beginning of July L went off sick. After she’d been off for a couple of weeks I began to see J regularly, who is the social worker that I had mentioned I would be seeing when L wasn’t around. I got on very well with her, and liked her a lot, but didn’t find seeing her very helpful. However, L was off for quite some time, and after a while I was told that because they didn’t know when she would be back they were reallocating her case load, and so I was switched to J for good. This was incredibly difficult, as although I liked J a lot, I was very attached to L, and also did find her really helpful. So I found that very hard for a very long time. She returned to work at the beginning of September, but I wasn’t able to go back to seeing her, and the whole thing was very difficult and very upsetting. I still find it difficult going to the CMHT and seeing her car there, or being in the waiting room when she comes through or anything. I miss seeing her a lot, and I do still feel angry that I had to stop seeing her when she was one of the few people I have ever seen who I have felt was helping me. So that was something that was a fairly big deal, and over a long time period. Just before L went off sick, I began therapy with the psychologist. I had been referred some time before, for CAT, but had been on the waiting list for a long time. I saw her until January, and that was really good, although I was frustrated by how time limited it was. There was still so much left to do by the end of the allocated number of sessions, and we had really only reached the point in the therapy where it becomes helpful in terms of helping you find other options and strategies etc, so again, that was very difficult. I had also had to spend several of those sessions talking about the situation with L, which obviously gave us less time than we would have ordinarily had, and both the psychologist and I found it difficult that the ending came when it did, when there was obviously things we needed to work on, but for anyone unfamiliar with CAT, the number of sessions is settled at the very beginning of the therapy, and doesn’t get changed. The CAT was interesting – I found it far more relevant than a lot of other therapies, particularly CBT, which I was worried it might be similar to, and which I have a very low opinion of. I also begun attending a BPD group at my local MIND in the Autumn, and I am still doing that. It’s a good group, and I’m glad I’m able to go to it. It’s something I wasn’t able to do when I wasn’t driving as it is during the day, and so my mum was at work.
Despite my mood having improved a little on the medication, I was struggling quite a lot in the early autumn, and I saw a psychiatrist (not Dr E as she is on maternity leave) and he prescribed another anti-depressant to work alongside the first one, and I do think the combination of the two has helped. There have still been times when my mood has started to crash, and I have been worried about where it will end up, but so far it has stopped it short of the very bottom – it has got pretty bad, but it hasn’t crashed through the floor like it did this time last year. I don’t like to tempt fate, but I have been feeling more stable. I’m not better, and my mood overall is still low, but the crashes haven’t been quite as bad, and I am taking that as a positive thing. Additionally, being able to drive and get out to places has meant that I have had more going on, and have been able to do things that I wouldn’t have been able to before, like the BPD group. I’m not claiming to be cured – I still have days when I can’t get out of bed, and I still get completely exhausted and wiped out by a busier day, and my mood is still low overall. But it is an improvement. And I realised this week that I think I am starting to feel a bit more like myself, and just a bit more alive and less like a zombie. The zombie times still happen, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t still think about suicide and wish I was dead at times, but the percentage of alive days has increased, and I can’t say how welcome that is.
So essentially that has been the last year for me. Apologies for rambling on so much, but it is difficult to sum up a year! I should have just said ‘Meds have helped. Still not great, but some improvement’ really, but that’s not my style! I am still not sure whether I will continue writing here or not. I love the madosphere, and loved meeting those of you who were at the last madup. But I don’t want to get into recording and analysing everything again, as I’m not sure how healthy that would be for me at the moment. Blogging has certainly served a purpose for me, but what I need to decide now is if it will continue to do so, and if so whether this is the appropriate place for that or whether I should start anew with a more subject neutral blog and try to focus less on the mental health side of things, to avoid getting stuck in navel gazing land. I’ll have a think and let you know! But thank you so much to everyone who has commented on here and sent me emails and Facebook messages and tweets asking how things are and whether I will go back to blogging etc. I have really appreciated the support, and I am very sorry for doing a disappearing act and just not being around. But truly, thank you. There are people I have met through blogging who I really don’t think I would still be alive without, particularly the wonderful http://ifnarky.com who has been an absolute rock over the past year or so. Anyway, must go to bed, I will update soon whether I decide to stay here or not. Oh, and thank you very much to everyone who voted for me for the most missed blog in the TWIM awards – it was very unexpected, but much appreciated!