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Day 2 Life as a mental health service user – week special

I’ve been really testing the patience of my care team this week. I have been struggling so much that I have done nothing but call helplines, crisis teams and my Community Mental Health care team. I have been struggling so much that at some points I couldn’t see any future for myself. My mind is so conflicted and I’m scared of what I’m capable of.

I have had phone call after phone call with my social worker this week, and she has calmly explained all the things that she is going to try to do to attempt to make my life better. Things like attending a mental health day centre with me to improve my confidence about being there, surrounded by new people, when that’s exactly what I need.

The Occupational Therapist asked me to fill in a form about which goals I wanted to focus on for my recovery. I struggled to choose just a few goals when there is so much of my life that is chaos, a complete mess.

My first goal was improved concentration. To do this I need to organise my surroundings as well as my mind. I have boxes everywhere from where I’ve only just had my stuff out of storage, as I was in hospital for the first few months I had moved into the flat.Someone kindly stored my possessions but they had to drop the last of it off recently and now I’m overwhelmed by boxes. My mind needs to be sorted out too. I’m in therapy with the CMHT psychologist, and I’m also seeing the rest of my care team but it’s so hard. I feel like I’m stuck in limbo waiting to get better, and I want to be able to start moving on with my life. Instead I’m stuck in this rut, and it feels like I’ll never get out of it.

My second goal was improved energy levels, physically and mentally, so that I can do what I set out to do. This means really campaigning for the right treatments so that I can have better pain management and less fatigue. I’m due to see the rheumatologist towards the end of June and I’ve finally decided that if I’m not satisfied with the treatment plan decided then I’m going to ask for a second opinion. I’m also temped to do the same with my psychiatrist care.

My third goal is to take better care of the flat. To do that I need to deal with my debts, budget better and apply to anyone who can help me to improve my situation. I’m sick of living in a shell of a flat. I want a home. I’ve moved around so much during the past decade. The problem is I don’t want to settle down here, I miss my family and friends in London but I can’t afford to get over there. I’m so depressed here in this city on my own, I just want to be surrounded by people who care. I know that might be wishful thinking where my family are concerned but I have some good friends there, and London will always be my home. I feel trapped.

I will discuss my other goals in later posts. At the moment I feel exhausted and sad and frustrated. I just want to be happy and it feels like, despite the efforts of my care team, that that will never happen.

Do you have any goals that you’re struggling to reach? What are your obstacles and how do you plan to overcome them? Get in touch in the comments section or on Twitter @spursbythebeach.

How I want my life to feel

Recently in Cognitive Analytical Therapy, my psychologist got me to fill out a sheet, which got me to consider how distorted my thinking and feeling is, as well as how I would actually like my life to feel.

1. I would like to be more open with people, especially my partner. I tend to bottle things up, especially as many, including my partner, struggle to understand my battle with physical and mental health problems.

People tend to be either completely ignorant, or so afraid of saying the wrong thing that they say nothing, or avoid me. My partner is one of the few who really worries about what these problems mean for me, he sees it as a real possibility that he could lose me as a result of these difficulties, especially my mental health, and so he fears it. He emotionally blackmails me, in an attempt to keep me safe, as though that’s the opposite of what I want. I love him and my friends dearly, but sometimes I wish people would ask more questions, instead of just making assumptions.

It’s also hard when friends make plans that don’t take into account my disabilities. It’s nice that they see me as ‘one of them’ , ‘normal’ , but the fact is that I am different and I would love it if more often that difference was embraced, rather than forgotten. Especially as it’s a difference that I have to live with every day of my life.

2. I would like to feel less angry and more forgiving about my past with my family. I hold onto so much from the past and it is time that I started to let go. To do this I need to continue engaging with therapy and writing.

What makes me angry? That my family hardly ever call, that I always have to call them, that even Skype is too much of an effort for my computer literate sister, that my niece will probably grow up not knowing me as her aunt, that I am still ,and probably always will be, the black sheep of the family, That even when I was in hospital there were hardly any phone calls, and none of them contacted, or visited the hospital. Finally without the disruption of my childhood home life, I may have been more successful in my education.

Looking at it differently though, their lack of support has made me more independent, and even if I did have an amazing education behind me, my disabilities would probably still get in the way of me achieving, and my family are  not responsible for my disabilities.

3. I would like to feel happier. I want to finally win my long-running battle with depression. To do this I need to spend more of my days doing the things that make me happy as well as facing up to my worries.

The things that make me happy include blogging, creative writing, scrapbooking and being creative. The things that worry me are debts, health problems and my partner’s parole. As well as facing up to these problems I need to find time to have some fun.

4. I would like to feel less afraid of criticism, as I feel that this holds me back a great deal. To do this I need to continue to fight back by blogging, even if not everybody likes me. Instead of attempting to be a people pleaser, I need to focus on being honest, even if people don’t want to hear it.

5. I would like to feel more confident to follow my dreams, without constantly worrying about the barriers that I need to overcome to achieve them. To do this I need help to overcome these barriers, like my mobility problems, pain and fatigue. If, at my next appointment with the rheumatologist, he is still unwilling to do a great deal to help me, I will be finally requesting a second opinion.

6. As I mentioned before, I want to be less of a people pleaser, as this causes me to hideaway a great deal. I want to be less worried about how people will react if I just be myself. To do that I need to actually start being myself.

One example is my drinking, I usually only drink when I want to fit in, but I need to recognise that if I am going to show my real self, then masking it with booze every time I’m with friends, will not help me. On top of that, for health reasons, I shouldn’t be drinking anyway.

7. I would like to feel less anxious as I feel that this would help me to become more independent and less socially isolated.

A big part of me facing up to this is the possibility of me getting a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair through the Motability scheme. The thought of being more self-reliant makes me feel very nervous and excited. It would be great to get involved in community courses and activities and just to get some fresh air. Does anyone else have a Motability vehicle?

8. I would like to have better self-esteem, instead of constantly putting myself down. I’d like to start believing in myself. I could start this by praising myself for the things that I do well – however small, from getting more organised to posting on my blog.

9. I would like to feel more stable and in control of my mind. The only way I feel that I can do this is by persisting with medication and engaging with my care team. This includes attending and engaging with therapy sessions as well as my social worker and Community Psychiatric Nurse.

My dream to be confident, happy, organised and independent, seems so far away, but with the right steps I may be able to realise that dream sooner than I think.

Does anyone have any goals about how they would like to feel? What steps are you going to take to achieve them? Feel free to comment below or tweet @spursbythebeach .

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