I had an appointment with my GP today.  Not my usual GP, which was deliberate.  It usually takes a leg or two falling off before I submit myself to the GP, and if that was the case, it’s pretty certain the first question I’d be asked would be, “So…how’s your mood?  Have you been self harming?” while I awkwardly fiddle with the sinew dripping elastically upon the floor.

This is just being thorough.  Today was no different from the usual, but I faintly recall that I was up for a medication review anyway.  I went to see the doctor for two reasons- the first being about my arms.  I didn’t get a referral to a dermatologist, or anything of the like.  She thought there isn’t much they can do-she had a viddy, the scars are pretty widespread, and surgery might make them look worse.  I don’t know whether to pursue it or not.  The second was due to the fact I keep blacking out at the moment.  In the past week I’ve cracked my head twice due to, “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit…thunk”.  I also keep falling asleep.  If you know me in real life, you’ll know how unusual the latter is for me.  I have  piled on yet more weight, rather inexplicably, and my eyesight is coming and going.

So, as well as blood tests, I got a gentle bollocking for not taking my medication.  It was only two and half months ago (which I stated as six weeks, because I can’t count) I was with the crisis team, which I sometimes forget.  But I pulled myself out of that depression.  I felt horrendous, as it was a sudden, shocking, “where the fuck did that come from?” depression but doing things- forcing myself to do things- did help (as did citalopram, I guess, but who knows).   I honestly feel quite well off medication. Everyone has noticed how much brighter I am.  I don’t want to expect something to go wrong.  It helps, I guess, that something physical is probably going on that means I sleep, and sleeping enough does tend to keep my mood alright. I reassured her that I was seeing my social worker, who is okay with it.  But more to the point, she will notice if I start going weird, probably before I do. A few weeks ago she thought I was getting vaguely high, and I maybe was, but then being slammed by strange tiredness seemed to sort it out.  I’m a bit twitchy, but mentally I feel quite good.

“Anyway…”, I continued, “I have borderline personality disorder, so I don’t need medication”.  If they are going to slap me with that one, I shall exploit it to the hilt.

“No,”, she riposted, “you have bipolar disorder, so you do need to take medication”.

I told her that I’d been told in April that I have BPD, not bipolar, and shouldn’t be taking medication, to which she showed me a letter, dated August, from the psychiatrist who told me this, stating that I had bipolar disorder with, “underlying borderline personality disorder” and to issue a prescription.  But under, “active issues”- there it was, personality disorder!

Shenanigans!  Who the buggery knows.  Either way, if I’m not taking anything, it’s all a bit irrelevant.  It’ll only be relevant if I flip out and find myself on a ward, but I imagine if that happened, it would be fairly obvious what the problem is either way.

I did get the, “Have you had thoughts of suicide, self harm etc?” questions to which I answered no.  She asked me if I was in counselling or therapy and I said no to that too.  When she asked why, I said I don’t think I need it.  Which is also true.

I’m curious as to what they have on me, so I’ve booked myself in for a ball-kicking session on the 29th, in which you sit in a room with a receptionist, scroll through your notes and gasp in shock and hurt as to what’s been written about you.  I am terrified of this and am aware it’s going to be painful, but I want to know.

My social worker appointment on Wednesday was fine- more bloody forms for my funding.  We’re also back to the, “Six months and we’ll discharge you”.  So if I get through six months without any serious incident (we started this in May this year, but there were two notable mood swings so I got stuck), then I’m free!  Which will be good.

I mentioned that my view of mental illness has kind of come around to her view of it (“My hippy shit?  Ha!”).  I said I was worried about changing trusts as, “I didn’t want another Haringey”.  When she asked me to explain,  I told her they weren’t very good, but I had some responsibility in that one in that I was twenty and a dogmatic little shit who expected to be magically cured and was pissed off when I wasn’t (after the obligatory seven months rampaging around telling them to fuck off and that I didn’t have any problems).  When I did accept I have manic depression, I thought I could just take pills and be fine.  Or not take them, take them, not take them… Now I realise that it’s only a small bit of the equation, but it took a few years to get to that point, of trial and error, of sometimes painful introspection.  And it’s nice, in a way, to feel responsible for myself.  To feel grown up. What I should never forget about then is that I wasn’t grown up, I was very young, quite unwell and had no idea how to deal with that.  It’s something they- especially psychiatrists- should never forget either before putting personality disorders on my medical records that cannot be erased, despite my growing out of all the symptoms of them. (And it’s something you- younger people reading- should also remember.  You may think you are irrevocably fucked up at the moment, but you may not be in the future.  When I think back to what I was like when I was eighteen, I can’t imagine feeling like that again.  I was a mess).

I’m not even sure why I stopped taking medication.  Partly the very sudden weight gain with citalopram, despite often feeling too nauseous to eat, which freaked me out.  I ran out of my Quetiapine prescription and just didn’t pick up another one.  I missed two or three days, found that, aside from being twitchy and brain-noisey, I didn’t feel too bad, so just kept going.  It’s not an ethical thing.  If I do become ill, I will take medication again without moaning too much about it.  Without the quetiapine drowsiness, I actually find myself on time for things, which makes a pleasant change.

It will be nice to be discharged, though, even though I’ll miss my social worker.  We had a rocky start, but I have grown to like her and she’s been really supportive.  If I get onto a course for next year, I’d be discharged anyway as I’d need to move south of the river to be close to placement hospitals.  I am very very keen to stay well so if I do go weird I will take medication again.  I do not want to bugger this year up, as this is the year I want to get back to a life.  I got a reference from my tutor, and it was very lovely, and once  I send my personal statement for approval, that’s it, all sent, and I will have to wait for answers from the universities.  Eek.

I wondered briefly today why so many of my mentally interesting brethren go into mental health nursing.  Is it because we have a better grasp of the challenging facing mentalists, being so ourselves?  And is it a  bit reclaiming the power balance?  If you’ve spent years submitting yourself to services, how delicious, how ironic it is to find yourself on the other side of that locked door.  Both certainly come into it with me.  I want to help- directly,  not just through blogging and activism- people going through mental illness because I know what a painfully long and lonely experience it is.  I know mental illness can make people act out of character and that sometimes people don’t grasp that, and I know that people with mental illness are also as susceptible to being complete arseholes as people without.  But I also want to get behind the scenes and try to change things I see being done wrong, because so very much is when it comes to mental health.  I know that too from experience.

Anyway, I also managed some writing yesterday, which is good.  I have possibly been given up on, though, as it’s been almost a year now and I’m still nowhere near finished with what I was writing.  Ah, I am an arse.

13 Responses

  1. You are not an arse, but you do make me chuckle!
    You have hit the nail on the head though, us ‘mentals’ are people first, with an illness, symptoms of which are not always present. I too have been an arse, I have done things I am ashamed and confused by, both when well and more so went unwell. I can not put all my bad choices down to mental health, some are from teen angst, more are from just being a bit of a nob, but yes, some are when I have been unwell and trying to hang onto what seems important or doing what I thought was right when I wasn’t seeing clearly.
    I am frightened to read my notes. I am sure they will contain things I don’t want to read, and perhaps imply I am an attention seeking loser. I have thought about doing it lately but receptionists generally scare the crap outta me!
    Good news about your applications being submitted. Fingers crossed for ya.

  2. the blackouts don’t sound good, or the oversleeping – i found when i was on the meds i could hardly keep my eyes open and even now i’m off them i can either hardly sleep at all (the norm) or (as is happening at the moment) i go through little stages where i can’t stay awake and struggle to get out of bed at all – not in a depressive way, i’m just bloody knackered (for no reason). it’s very odd. i’m sure all these meds, even once you’re off them, have these impacts that can’t be proven but are probably related…

    your normal gp sounds like my mum! “how’s your mood? are you up, you sound a bit excited?!” – grrr….

    i’d quite like to see my notes, although on the other hand it’s all a little scary. i was talking to my T recently and she’s sure i’m borderline, although i think she thinks bipolar too, with, like you said, borderline underlying it. various psychiatrists have mooted the same thing – obviously she can’t diagnose but i’m quite glad about that as (so far) borderline and/or any other PD is firmly in the “maybe” category and i think it’d be wise for me to keep it there as long as possible, and not get stuck with the label officially. that said, i’d be interested to hear what the docs really think. personally i think my T has a point, a lot of what happens to me feels more like borderline than bipolar, but i’m hardly about to go to the psych’s office and tell them that!

    as for discharge, i hope you get it. although mine annoy me a bit, my psych discharges at the merest hint of getting better, then if you have a lapse, you get back to square one, you have to go to the gp, get a referral, blah blah blah, it can take a while, by which time the situation’s changed. i know they discharge so they can meet precious government targets but it’s quite frustrating when you have an illness that’s cyclical by nature to have to “reapply” every time something happens. not that everything is worthy of going to the psych, i’m not saying i want to run to her every time i feel sad, but y’know, when things do take a turn, it’s useful to have access at the time, and not maybe in 6 weeks….

    sorry, that ended up as a waffle….

  3. hope you get the blackouts sorted, sound scary. Good luck with your applications. As for mentals working in mh, there are lots about. I tried to work in mh as I wanted to make a difference, thought I would be understood and would understand. I found it too stressful for me, mostly as I was useless and ended up leaving due to my mh again. I also found it too awkward to use local mh services as I worked in them and knew staff. Once I left, and not until then I was able to access cmht etc. Still find that hard now – years later. I think you will be great at being a nurse, good luck x

  4. Good luck reading your notes…..I did that 9 years ago when I was 20. Kinda scary, no one had actually told me BPD was my diagnosis, I read it on those notes. Obviously I was 20, a big BPD mess and thought I knew it all! Don’t regret reading my notes, I get curious now and then what’s in them now but not sure I want to know now.
    Will be so pleased for you when you get into uni!!!!

  5. *hugs* I hope these physical symptoms aren’t anything major.

  6. I’m jealous you managed to find a way to get them or force them to let you read the notes (and yeah, I know legally they have to…)

  7. I’m going to start having laser therapy for my self-harm scars. I always have to wear long sleeves and am very self-conscious about them. I’m hoping it’ll make a difference.

  8. your not a arse, your lovely, glad everything is sounding so positive for u.

  9. It was a good move to visit your GP and sometimes it takes more than one visit to convince them that something is wrong
    I always feel that my mental illness casts a shadow over my general well being in the eyes of my GP.And that’s no surprise as mental illness casts a shadow over every aspect of my life.
    I wont be looking at my. records. It was suggested that I might do so once but as they were laughing at the time I decided against it.
    If you can manage without medication that’s good. I still take a little and its impossible to know if it does any good but having hit rock bottom in the past and spent weeks in hospital I figure its better safe than sorry.

  10. have you tried scar cream- for your arms? i used to use one called contractubex (bought it in germany, but you should be able to get that one or similar in the uk) which worked pretty well on keloid scars… it would reduce the redness and lumpiness of the scars a lot quicker than letting them heal by themselves.

  11. I am to be on quetiapin soon. The psych says it will lift my mood. How can this be true of an atypical anti-psychotic?


  12. No, not shenanigans — Seaneenigans =p

    Oddly enough I was told the same thing a few months ago (bipolar w/ borderline traits), and like you I stopped taking medication, and *also* like you I am doing better than ever, despite having enormous amounts of stress.

    Fight the good fight and I am so happy for you that you are doing so well with your courses!!

    Catherine, Long Walk

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