Hello! Occasionally some posts, like this one, will be illustrated by the lovely Prozacville, so go and visit him and give him praise as you would a deity.
I am sick of having “issues”. But here is a post moaning about them! Delicious irony.
But ooh. I had forgotten the (free and fixed) Macbook had Photobooth. Here I am relaxing in my sitting room. Not pictured are my chandelier, maid, cigar and rent boy.
Except I’m clearly not relaxing in my sitting room, as only maniacs can relax when a lens is on them, and I have in fact turned the Macbook upside down and that’s not a relaxing pose. I also have silly hair. I dyed it red and blue, which apparently means orange and green. I like to think I look like I’m sporting beguiling autumnal plumage, and not that I just look like a twat that’s been left out in the rain too long.
Ah, an illuminating appointment with my social worker today, so, thought I’d write about it. Long, self obsessed and introspective- you could say it’s a Classic Secret Life… post. (And a caveat here: remember this is a blog exclusively about mental health. Some people seem to forget that. I do not go through my day to day life going, “ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH”. I have other, more cheerful topics of conversation).
I’ve never really gone into detail about my now twice-monthly (or, as the kids say, “fortnightly”) appointments with my social worker. They are mostly a bit of a chat, commentary on mood and someone for me to talk to. She’s a lovely woman, quite clearly no-nonsense, which is sometimes appreciated and sometimes not (who doesn’t occasionally want a bit of, “Ah, there, there” and to just moan into your sleeve) and I like her. The appointments are usually conducted in a small room with one window, and today there was the smell of cat piss emanating from…something. I suspect it was me, since I’m not entirely convinced that Girl Cat hasn’t weed on the cords I’m wearing. Then again, I didn’t really care this morning when I got dressed. A cheeky sniff almost clears my name, but I have a bit of a cold so I may well infact stink of her waters. My social worker insisted it was somewhere else in the room as, being a residential area, cats sometimes become cat burglars (a term which used to confuse me greatly) and pee all over the place before they’re shooed away.
She helps me with practical matters, and carried on my old CPN’s work in terms of benefits and housing. But I can mostly do these things alone. Okay, it takes me about three and half millenia to get round to doing it, but I am fairly independent, as far as people within mental health services go. She has been trying to sort out direct payments for me to study something, with both of us agreeing I need more structure in my life. I keep- genuinely- forgetting to ring up, but I will tomorrow. To be quite honest with you, I don’t particularly feel up to a lot right now, but I’d regret not trying, and it may well be good for me, especially with Robert going to university in October. We could compare notes.
Today we discussed therapy, and why the person who makes the assessment had been unwilling to make an appointment with me.
I had therapy was last year, and it was CBT for body image problems (BDD). I spent most of 2008 in a depressive stupor, indeed, I don’t particularly recall much of it. Therapy started off okay, but I was already rather depressed, and as it progressed, I began to feel worse. By the time of the fourth or so appointment, I was so depressed that I didn’t actually give a toss about my appearance, so it was difficult to engage with it. What had seemed greatly important no longer felt important, along with everything else in my life. So, the therapy ended.
It was assumed that the trials of therapy had worsened my depression. The stress of looking inward and so on. To this day, I still don’t think that was the case, but maybe there was something subconscious. Either way, in September (or possibly October), I was prescribed Effexor, went loony, took a huge overdose and there you go.
So. The Therapy Lady didn’t want an appointment for that reason, and also another reason, which is that she didn’t think I saw some of my problems as being part of my personality and that I only saw my problems as part of a chemical imbalance. Ergo, therapy would not be helpful.
It is true that I have tended to be overly clinical about myself. I am increasingly seeing myself as a whole person, with other problems, but for a long time, I was quite clinical about everything. I saw my moods etc etc as being outside myself. Which puts me in a helpless position, no? Not entirely. I have made the appropriate “lifestyle changes” to manage my illness- I didn’t drink for ages and am not doing so again, don’t take drugs, try to sleep, try to eat, avoid stress etc etc etc. But…
Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder was a kick in the bollocks for me. Who in their right mind (FNAR!) wants to be diagnosed with a serious mental illness? It sucks. It’s crap. It makes you feel as though you have, “REJECT” stamped across your forehead. The only way I felt able to cope with it was to see it in a medical sense, as an illness, as something outside myself. Because if I thought that I bought this on myself, that it was my fault, that I was flawed and fucked up (which I do often think), I could not cope. I would simply just not be able to face it. Giving myself distance, writing about it, even sometimes coldly analyzing, was what I needed to do for a few years. And I was rather, “Ah. Well. That explains an awful lot”. And I should have been relieved, but I was devastated.
It was easier for me to see it that way. I would not have come this far without that perspective. It’s unhelpful for therapists, but I needed to face up to and deal with the other stuff in my own time. I do consider bipolar disorder to be a chemical thing, by the way. The chemical basis, if you will.
I have other diagnosed problems, namely body dysmorphia, bulimia and self harm. My social worker mentioned that those things in tamden with bipolar disorder are not that common, due to the shifts in self perception and weight that comes with bipolar. This is true, but it still stands, although in terms of bulimia, I’d consider myself better.
That’s enough for me- I don’t really want more fecking problems, more diagnosis. I have trouble enough agreeing with the existence of the others. I don’t want to be pathologised. And, although maybe once I did see these things in isolation to bipolar disorder, I don’t think I do anymore. As time has gone on, I’ve moved further and further away from defining by diagnosis, and thinking in terms of diagnosis at all.
Then she said the dreaded words- “personality disorder”. My arse clenched right up. You couldn’t have fit an atom up there. Because I knew what was heading towards me, with the stinging predictability of a slap from a raised hand. Borderline personality disorder.
Diagnose me with shit if it’s accurate. Don’t diagnose me with inaccurate shit just because I’m a woman who self harms and has rapid cycling. Borderline is one of those things nobody really wants to be diagnosed with because it is the equivalent of your doctor saying, “Fuck knows”. I don’t want to be diagnosed with it, either, because I think it’s wrong. I was told I had “borderline traits” after an hour long appointment with a doctor in Haringey a week or so after I left hospital. That isn’t a diagnosis, but I even disagree with traits. Continue reading