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April 2016

Hating but Needing to Cry

In my last blog post I said I wasn’t feeling great, so with some of the last bits of my sanity I managed to call, get a doctor’s appointment and tell a health professional how I feel.

However, there is a problem I face, whenever I try and tell someone how I genuinely feel when I’m ill, I start crying.

I hate people seeing me cry.

I don’t do it often or lightly but whenever I have to actually confront feeling ill instead of just saying ‘I’m fine’ the tears come out.

Through tears I told a nurse how I was feeling and she booked me a telephone appointment with a doctor.

I cried throughout the telephone appointment the next day and got a number for some therapy and advised that it is quicker to self-refer in this case.

The doctor also offered to sign me off sick if I needed it and is sending a referral to a consultant psychiatrist.

I then cried to a stranger who assesses you and books you a therapist and then finally a week later (which in mental health time-lines is extremely fast) I had my first appointment with a therapist.

Naturally I cried for an hour straight while we discussed what issues I had and how we should tackle them over the next 6 sessions.

Six sessions, that is all you tend to get.

In a strange twist of common sense – something I haven’t experienced a lot of in over ten years of being ill – you can actually have more than six sessions if your therapist decides that you need them.

I feel spoilt: a week turn-around and unlimited therapy sessions.

This is the thing of dreams.  This is the way a mental health service should work.

Sadly it is a rarity and often you wait months and months for a referral to any sort of help.  My referral to see the consultant, I know, will take months but therapy in the meantime within a week is the stuff of dreams.

My First Therapy Session

In it, as I already have said, I cried for the entire hour.  Many snotty tissues later and we had decided that there were three main problems I am facing at the moment.

  1. My grief and having no time to deal with it
  2. My anxiety and its impact on my day to day life
  3. Finding coping mechanisms to deal with the depression side of my bipolar

 

This seems like a short list to come out with after an hour but believe me it was a tough hour.

Therapy sessions for me are a time where a stranger takes you apart and removes all the defence and coping mechanisms you have been using and gets to the root of the problem.

The problem is that in the process you are left feeling raw, exposed, exhausted and to be honest destroyed.

They really do knock you down and then build you back up.

The problem is the knocking down is mentally painful.

From my past experiences of therapy and from this one this week, therapy is something I hate but recommend highly.

It leaves you exhausted and sad but eventually you begin to get better.

Coping at Work

To be honest I’m not.

One day this week I was lying in bed feeling like the walls were closing in on me and the only thing I had left inside my head was this one prayer.

Please, God, give me the strength to put on my socks.

It’s a throw-back to some CBT sessions I had years ago.

I couldn’t face the enormity of going to work but what I might have been able to do at this instant if some higher deity deemed it time to give me some strength was put on my socks.

My mind felt like it was on fire, but after 45 minutes I managed to put on the socks.

The next task was getting dressed.

The next task was leaving the house.

Then walking to the bus stop.

All the time my mind was in so much pain, my anxiety was going at full pelt and everything was screaming at me to go back to the house and get back in bed and call in sick.

CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) teaches you to break cycles of thought and to learn new coping mechanisms.

I haven’t had a CBT in years but somehow the idea of breaking a bigger impossible task into small chunks stuck with me and slowly and painfully I made it to work that day.

While I was there people noted that I wasn’t myself and I was quieter but I didn’t care.  I felt like a warrior.  That day I had won.  I had won against my own mind and got into work and managed to function in a semi normal way.

I had to count down every minute until it was home time and I had to push myself beyond my normal capacity but I did it.

You could say that that means I should be able to cope every day at work.  All I have to do is break it down into small chunks.

However it doesn’t work like that with a mental health problem.

Some days like that day there was a miracle. There is a last sliver of strength to push me through.

Other days I’m not so lucky and I stay in bed with the walls closing in.

What’s the point?

Usually I like to end a post with a message.

I guess I still want to.

My point in this post is that therapy works.

CBT can reach across the years and remind you how to get out of bed

Talking therapies can help you de-tangle a twisted ball of pain.

If you can get it, and sadly it is a major if,  then therapy works.

I highly recommend it, but I will say the process itself is horrible.

It’s torture, mentally pulling yourself apart in order to put yourself together again, but in reality it is no different to how body builders or anyone at the gym creates a healthier version of themselves.

You have to pull things apart and get that ache from the process before you become a healthier more balanced version of yourself.

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A Bipolar Wedding when you are Grieving

Recently I got married and overall had a great day during it but it wasn’t the only thing going on that day.

Two great friends died in the last two months and I had to try and cope with grief and loss at a time of high stress with a wedding and a mental health problem.

The second friend’s funeral in fact was on the same day as my wedding so it was a very mixed bag of emotions.

I was happy on my wedding day, of course I was but I was also very conscious of the pressure to be happy because it was my wedding day.

In the lead up to the wedding things got too much for me and I shut down.

I didn’t feel like I had enough time to grieve my friends and I certainly didn’t have enough time to get all the wedding things done.

I don’t really have much advice for how to cope in this situation however I can say that having a good support system is essential.

Luckily for me I had the support of friends, family, and my husband and when I shut down and stopped being able to deal with the practical things that needed to be done other people stepped up and took on the responsibilities but emotionally I wasn’t in a great place at all.

Everyone was asking me if I was excited to be getting married and honestly I wasn’t excited about anything.

I just felt grief that was knocking me over each day and getting through the work was about all I could do.

In the few days I had off before the wedding I had a house full of family so not a lot of time to myself.

I don’t really know how I got through it all, I can tell you I was happy to be married to my lovely husband but I was also stressed and sad and anxious at times throughout the day.

Now post wedding I am feeling very delicate and have had to go back to the doctors to review medications and try and sort myself out.

The pressure of a wedding combined with the grief of losing friends has been awful and I do not feel very well at the moment.

Sometimes you have to realise your own limitations and accept help from other people.

I wasn’t able to organise an entire wedding on my own.

This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who has had a wedding but it was a shock to me.

I expected to be able to cope. I demanded it of my body and mind and in the end I had to admit defeat and ask for help.

It’s a sobering lesson to learn, mental health issues often leave you feeling alone and when you have your own personal pressures to try and achieve things on your own it can be hard to ask for help.

However, asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

In reality I wasn’t defeated by my wedding but I learned a lesson from it.

Asking for help makes the day more enjoyable and more importantly people want to help you!

Without great friends and a wonderful husband I would not have made it to my wedding day and I certainly wouldn’t have had such a smooth running day in the end.

So to my brides to be I say, always ask for help.

To my fellow sufferers from mental health issues I say, always ask for help.

To my grieving readers once again I say always ask for help.

We don’t have to face the trials and tribulations of life alone and there is always help available.

I have said it many times before but my wedding was where I learned the lesson once again.

Asking for help is ok.

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