Tag Archive | suicidal thoughts

5 relapse signatures that my mind is becoming depressed

Depressed Kitty

Depressed Kitty

Care planning

Today I was working on my care plan with my Social Worker and my Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) and they asked me to think about what my signs are that I am about to relapse. At the time I struggled to think of any, but I’ve given it more thought and come up with 5 for me to be aware of.

1. Tearfulness

I cry at anything and everything when I’m becoming depressed. Once I start crying, I’m in floods of tears and nothing can stop me. The slightest thing could set me off then that gets added to my insecurities, low self-esteem and bad memories, and it feels like I’ll never get away from the misery.

2. Lethargy

I have absolutely NO energy. My eyes are getting heavy this far into writing this post. All I want to do is sleep. I try to fight it but it never lasts and as a result my routine is all over the place and I find myself writing with my eyes closed.

3. Poor concentration

At this point in drafting the post I really could no longer focus so I went back to bed. Words were jumbled in my mind and I couldn’t work out where best to place them. It’s a struggle to both read and write, even picking up a magazine is a huge challenge. All I can think is, this isn’t me, this isn’t what I wanted my life to be like.

4.Loss of interest in things

Mainly people, which isn’t like me at all. It’s like I’m trying to distance myself from the pain that they would feel if I were to act on my suicidal thoughts. This can include isolating myself socially. I also stop doing the things that I love such as reading and writing, or I do less of them.

5. Difficulty making decisions

From what to wear in the morning, to what to eat, to what to buy, it’s so difficult to make a choice, because I’m convinced that I’ll make the wrong one, with my self-esteem so low.

People who know me, and maybe some who don’t, are probably noticing that I fit my relapse signatures at the moment. I’m nervous, but I’m trying to fight it by reaching out on here and social media to see if anyone feels the same as me or knows what to do.

Keep on fighting, then rest

I do kind of know what to do: keep busy, keep fighting, keep talking about how I feel, sleep when it’s safer to sleep, take my medication as prescribed and once I’ve reached the peak of fighting it, allow myself to rest.

New year, new focus

As some of my Twitter followers (@spursbythebeach) may already know , i have been re admitted to a psychiatric ward since just before Christmas . Despite my positivity at the end of my last hospitalisation that I would be assessed and care-mana

Me

Me

ged once again by the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) and the ward doctor’s assurance that an assessment was due a couple of days after my discharge , absolutely NOTHING happened on that front.

No, no and…no!

Well aside from being assured that I would not be entitled to another assessment from the CMHT, that I did not have a serious mental illness (news to me and the ward doctor!) and that I couldn’t even get advocacy to make a complaint about the decision as I wasn’t being care managed.

Things worsened at home . I struggled to manage my new flat with the limited support that was available to me. I’ve struggled to manage physically, mentally and financially.

Step backwards?

Just before Christmas I was ready to give up. I hit self-destruct and almost lost my partner because I self-harmed. I was suicidal and close to acting on my thoughts, so the safest thing for me to do, although it feels like a step backwards, was to be re admitted to hospital .

This period in hospital has been a challenging one. I’ve had to spend time on two wards, had fewer visitors and less of an inpatient support network than last time.

Recovery

Instead of spending my time focussing on other people, I’ve had to focus on my own thoughts and feelings , my own recovery strategies, my own future, however difficult that has been at times.

I’ve been trying to focus on ways I can move forward that are positive and practical . I’ve started engaging in more creative activities like scrapbooking and cardmaking, although I have to be careful to balance activity with rest because of my Ankylosing Spondylitis (a form of inflammatory arthritis known as AS).

I also have suspected nerve damage in my left arm and hand, which I’m waiting to see a specialist about and which could also be as a result of my arthritis.

Perspective

The other thing I’ve gained from this is perspective . It’s made me question what I really want from my life. I’m in two minds whether to try distance learning , probably in creative writing or something artistic. The main thing I want to focus on this year though is my writing, especially my blogs.

Blogging focus

I’ve been writing this blog for about a year now and trying to juggle it with being unwell has been a real challenge, leading me at times to wonder if I should just give up. However, I love blogging and feel so passionate about growing and improving this blog that I don’t have the heart to give up on it. Plus I still have so much that I want to say. That means that I need to fight harder to make a go of it.

I’m starting 2015 by remembering the reasons why I started this blog in the first place. I want to raise awareness of what life is like with mental illness and physical disability and to reach out to those who face similar struggles so that we all feel less alone.

With this focus in mind my aim is to post more often but to also remember what works: honesty, passion and not being afraid to share things that at times are very personal to me. I do not do this to air my dirty laundry in public, but because I hope that my truth may also be someone else’s truth, if that makes any sense?

Something new

As well as this blog, I also fancied creating a bit of escapism for myself and hopefully others too with the focus on budget make up and beauty products. My blog Http://thebudgetbeautyexperiment.wordpress.com will be launched later this month so for those who might be interested I’ll also keep you focused on my progress with that.

Thank you

Finally, for those of you who have kept on believing in me and continued to read my posts no matter how few and far between they may have been at times, I just want to say thank you! It really means a lot to have your support and encouragement.

Please continue to comment, tweet @spursbythebeach, Instagram @spursbythebeach or email me on brokenglassshimmers@hotmail.co.uk , as I really enjoy getting your feedback and learn a lot from it. If you have any ideas on how the blog could be improved further, I’m always open to hearing a reader’s perspective.

The beginning of a new beginning?

What follows are extracts from a letter I wrote to someone while I was in my third week of hospital admission in a psychiatric ward. This was a real turning point for me and by writing it I came to realise a few things…

‘…My memories of you and thoughts of you are what keep me fighting harder and harder every day…And I’ve realised, although it’s taken me a stupidly long time to realise, that if I die then I will lose you, so even considering dying is stupid because I CAN’T lose you.

Writing this has made me more aware of how much I need to get better and has finally sorted out my head. I think I’m ready to start thinking about leaving hospital.

…I just need to think carefully about how I’m going to stay in this frame of mind, put stuff in place so that I can leave hospital without coming back. I don’t ever want you to go through this worry again.

It doesn’t mean that I’ll ever be completely cured but I’m not spending my life in hospital waiting for that day to come when I could be out in the real world, living my life…

…I’m not going to go to supported accommodation either. I’ve thought about it and even if it means losing support and having to go back to my temporary accommodation, I need my own space.

The only thing keeping me here now is pain management but I’m going to speak to the doctor asap to ask what can be done about that if I go home on Monday or Thursday at the latest (hopefully). I’m a voluntary patient so as long as I can prove that I am ready, they’ll be happy to let me go home and I may even show them this letter to fight my case.

I’m going to call a few people, speak to my carer and a member of staff and hopefully I will then have some good news for you…

The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life. I’ve learnt so much about myself, my relationships with others and my battle with mental illness. I’ve pushed myself and many loved ones, to their limits and there were times I (and I’m sure many others) weren’t sure if I was going to make it. 

By using the support I’ve received from my partner, family, friends, staff and other patients, I have begun to come out the other side and I now have the smallest shred of hope that I need to hold on to tightly.

The lessons I’ve learned about the impact of self-harm and suicide , have taken many long years of battling mental illness, to accept.

I’ve read so often about the finality of suicide and never really took it in. It won’t just mean an end of physical and mental pain, it means an end of my relationships with the people that I love, an impact on people whose lives I may have touched – even in the smallest of ways, and giving up before I’ve had a chance to see if I can achieve my dreams. 

When life is at its bleakest, those lessons are hard to accept and we often delude ourselves, ignore them or fight against the truth. I just hope that this is the beginning of a new attitude towards my life.

For a long time, my life stretched on before me full of fear and negative predictions. The fear hasn’t completely left me and the negative predictions haven’t all gone away. I’m sure there will still be times when I feel frustrated, disappointed and hopeless. The difference is, now I’ve finally admitted to myself that I have a great deal to lose and a lot of hurt to cause, if I give up on life.

The decision about supported accommodation has been given a lot of consideration but I have recognised that although hospital has been beneficial, I don’t want to live my life permanently in that sort of environment.

I also have yet to be assessed by Swansea Community Mental Health Team. This is something that really frustrates me. I feel extremely disappointed in the mental health provision that I have received in the community and that it has taken a hospital admission for me to receive the care that I so desperately need. It worries me a great deal that nothing has been put in place and I’m sure that Swansea CMHT will do everything they can to avoid taking over my care, despite my high level of need.

Despite that, I have now recovered some of my fight and I will not be giving up so easily once I am discharged. I just hope that the fighting pays off.’

That was weeks ago and a lot has happened since for me to fill you in on. I will be trying to update you as soon as possible with the latest going’s on as well as other issues related to having a mental illness and physical disability.

I wanted to share this so that hopefully I can challenge some of the stigma about mental illness and hospitalisation and show that being admitted to a psychiatric ward does not always have to mean the end of the world.

Have any of you been admitted to a psych hospital? If so, what were your experiences and how did you know when you were ready to leave? You can comment below or add me on Twitter @spursbythebeach or email brokenglassshimmers@hotmail.co.uk .

Juggling posting with ill health

Diagnosis:

I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder 7 years ago and with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) in addition, 3 years ago. On top of that, I also have a diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), a form of arthritis. I have attempted blogging in the past as I love to write but struggled to combine writing on a regular basis with ill health. A few months ago I set up this blog as I decided I didn’t want to give up on my dream of writing for an audience as well as that I wanted to raise awareness of life with mental illness and to increase understanding and tolerance.

So far, so ok. I have blogged as often as I can but not as often as I’d like. As well as the mental illness and the pain and fatigue of the AS I also have a reduced immune system thanks to a couple of the drugs that I’m on for my arthritis. As a result of this I am more likely to pick up infections and, once I have them, struggle to fight them off. This weekend was no different.

I had an infection, I felt rotten all weekend, my sleep pattern was all over the place and so was my blogging. Blogging with physical or mental health issues is always a struggle, with both it’s even more of a challenge.

Physical disability and blogging:

As a result of my AS I spend a great deal of time struggling with pain, fatigue, mobility issues, restricted movement and, as I mentioned, a reduced immune system. My pain levels have a huge effect on my productivity. When it’s at its worst the best thing I can do is crawl into bed and lay flat on my back (AS effects my spine as well as knees and hands). When the pain is more manageable I can do a lot more but there is a tendency then to over-do it which can effect my levels of pain and fatigue. Pain can make even something as simple as sitting on the sofa to use my laptop a next to impossible task. A lot of the pain I get is at the base of my spine so as you can imagine, when pain flares up, sitting is a challenge.

The best thing I can do is balance activity but in that planning, include a great deal of flexibility. It’s important to make allowances for yourself when you’re living with chronic pain or any chronic illness for that matter (physical or mental). The other thing to do is to schedule in activities for times when you know that you will be feeling at your best (for example, an hour after taking pain meds) and rest periods for times when you will feel less good.

Fatigue:

Fatigue is another challenging part of having AS. AS causes fatigue for two main reasons, levels of pain tire out the body and disease activity can exhaust it too. Fatigue is so frustrating. I’ve experienced it as a result of physical and mental illness and personally I think that having fatigue due to a physical illness is more frustrating (although it’s a close run thing), this is because you have all the mental energy and focus to do things but your body can’t keep up with it.

Ways of managing fatigue are similar to those of managing pain but the most important piece of advice I can give is to never feel ashamed of needing to nap. In fact scheduling in naps in between periods of activity, is probably a good idea. When I’m struggling with fatigue I feel sheer exhaustion and my concentration can be affected as a result, including blogging. The important thing to remember is to not beat yourself up because of the symptoms of an illness (any illness) that you didn’t choose to have.

Mobility issues:

Mobility issues may not seem to be something that could have an effect on blogging, especially for someone who owns a laptop, but things aren’t always that straightforward. As a blogger, there are things that I would like to do that involve leaving the house, for example interviewing people, for my fashion blog getting out and about taking photos of stylish people in public, for my beauty blog attending events such as a new make-up launch as well as attending blogger meet-ups and conferences. I often feel like I’m missing out because my mobility is limited meaning that I’m on crutches, can’t travel far without assistance and get tired easily.

Some solutions to the problems I have as a result of my mobility problems are pretty obvious, others less so. I can interview people by phone or email and I can get involved with online blogger chats. The thing is though, sometimes you can’t beat meeting people face-to-face and I crave that often. I have access to a PA and taxis for meet-ups closer-to-home but as someone who doesn’t live in a big city these are few and far between. It would be so nice to meet people face-to-face and bounce ideas off each other. On the positive side though, I am very grateful to my online community for providing me with support, encouragement and a feeling of belonging when I would otherwise have felt very much alone. I haven’t been disabled all of my life so I can still remember what it was like to have an active social life (not that you can’t have an active social life with a disability-I just happen to find it much more of a challenge). The internet is a real gift for people who struggle to get out as a result of ill health.

Restricted movement:

Having restricted movement links back to the previous two issues fatigue and mobility problems. I can’t get around easily because of my disability and also have to be careful not to sit in the same position for too long either or the pain will kick in. If I use my hands for too long (writing or typing especially) they can start to hurt or feel swollen. The best thing I can do is to take regular breaks and try not to beat myself up when I have to stop because of pain.

Low immune system:

My low immune system is a real nuisance. The average person with a cold or virus can manage to soldier on, however much of a struggle it may be but when you have a low immune system it really takes everything out of you to fight something like that off. The best thing I can do when I’m like that is to do the little that I can cope with and get the much needed rest that I need.

Mental illness and blogging:

As a result of mental illness I struggle with fatigue, anxiety, paranoia, depression, mania as well as suicidal thoughts or behaviour.

It’s even harder to blog with mental fatigue as it feels like you have complete brain fog. Any mental effort results in such extreme tiredness that the smallest tasks can take all day. All you can do during times like that is have patience with yourself and try not to beat yourself up (however easy it can be to do). Again balancing activity with rest and picking your best times of day to do those things that are the most mentally draining. The other thing is to stop comparing your ill self to you when you are healthy or manic. I’ve done this so many times and it simply achieves nothing. It doesn’t help you to work any faster and the negative mental energy you spend on telling yourself how rubbish you are could be better spent focusing on the task at hand or having some much needed relaxation time.

Anxiety is a hard one to deal with too. Anxiety can place similar barriers around you to that of someone with physical mobility issues. You often isolate yourself, struggle to go to new places or meet new people. As well as that it can affect your energy levels (panic attacks are incredibly draining) and a fear of criticism could mean that your writing never gets to see the light of day. As far as anxiety is concerned, small steady steps are what work best. There is even a type of therapy that suggests this: gradual exposure therapy when you confront your fears gradually by starting with the challenge that scares you least and gradually upping the fear factor. The other thing I recommend is trying to be as honest as you possibly can with people (easier said than done I know). Not everyone will understand but it beats people simply thinking that you don’t want to spend time with them. Taking regular time out of your day to do things that relax or comfort you also helps.

Paranoia can work in some ways similar to anxiety in that it is all about fear. The problem is that while I suggested for anxiety being honest with people about your problem, the very people that you need to be honest with are often unreachable either because your paranoia is about them so you don’t trust them or you’ve confided in them but they either react badly or say the wrong thing or just don’t know how to help or what to say. The best things you can do in this situation is to firstly, find someone who you trust and who reacts well and confide in them, seek help from your mental health team if you can and educate family and friends about what helps and what doesn’t as well as tell-tale signs to look out for, when you’re well and feeling clear-headed.

Depression can lead to fatigue, anxiety, extreme negative thinking and in worst cases, suicidal thinking and behaviour (which I’ll talk about later). The best things I would recommend if you have depression is to seek help from a qualified medical professional as you may need counselling, medication, or in some cases support from the mental health team and/or hospitalisation. Try to find a loved one or friend that you can confide in and be as honest with them as you possibly can although that can be scary at times. Doing something nice for yourself each day is a big step forward, something as simple as a pampering bath can have a positive impact. Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help. The Samaritans are just one of many organisations who provide advice and guidance to people who need someone to talk to who can keep their issues confidential. http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/contact-us .

Mania can be just as terrifying as depression in some cases. That feeling of being out of control, engaging in risky behaviours, impulsivity, not being completely yourself. The best thing that you can do is seek help. Confide in a friend or family member and/or a health professional. When you’re well plan for periods of mania by setting out what you can do to help yourself and who you can contact. You might have lots of creative energy but find it difficult to focus on one task at a time. Try to spend time on calming activities like listening to a relaxing CD and if you don’t feel safe-tell someone!

Suicidal thoughts or behaviour:

Suicidal thoughts or behaviour is probably the hardest thing of all on this list. If you feel like this then please don’t put any expectations on yourself as far as blogging, only do it if it helps you to feel better. If you feel like this then please seek help or confide in someone. I’m really sorry that that’s the best I can come up with despite having felt like this many times. The only other thing that can help short-term is any kind of positive distraction. A favourite CD, TV programme or book, spending time with someone you love. But you will still need to seek help as you only have so much energy to distract yourself with in the day. Telling someone, although difficult is a positive step towards keeping yourself safe.

There are many similarities and differences between physical and mental health problems and their impact on blogging. People are generally more understanding and supportive of physical illness as it is something that they can see obviously and find easier to relate to. There is still so much stigma surrounding mental illness but also ignorance that younger people can have physical disabilities.

Physical and mental illness can also interlink and impact upon each other. Have you ever felt depressed because you had the flu? Anxious because of the pressure of a disability? In the same way have you ever felt that your mobility was restricted because of a mental illness?

Things to remember:

When blogging with a physical or mental health condition, or both, the important things to remember are regular rest, flexibility and be kind to yourself whilst not forgetting to seek help as soon as possible. Do you blog with a physical or mental health condition? How do you find it and what are your tips for keeping going? Please feel free to comment on this post, add me on Twitter @spursbythebeach or email brokenglassshimmers@hotmail.co.uk . If you like what you’ve read today, for more mental health posts on a regular basis (usually shorter than this) follow me. Thanks 🙂

Benefits – life with them, life without them.

I started a life on and off benefits aged 17 after I was made homeless by my family. At first I lived in a subsidised hostel, but when I moved into my own (council) flat a month after my eighteenth birthday, I was left shocked by the existence of life on benefits. I was on about £40 a week income support as I regularly struggled and had to apply for crisis loans then had to pay them back out of the extra few quid on top of that that I would otherwise have received. 

During my time on benefits, I remained determined that this would not be my future and it wasn’t. I finished college with the help of Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), I don’t know how teens in crisis survive without it. I also had some financial assistance from the college including a travel warrant. I lived quite a distance from the college and couldn’t have got there without it. 

My life was a struggle. I lived on toast apart from my free lunches from the college. I was in constant fear of running out of toiletries etc and even now I have the habit of buying more than I actually need because I’m scared of having to live on the breadline. 

That part of my life changed when I started university for the first time in 2004. For the next few years I studied and worked hard until eventually, around 2006, after dropping out of uni for a second time, I saw a psychiatrist (in fact a few psychiatrists) and was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. Eventually due to my mood instability and a lack of understanding and support from my employer, I had to give up work and was again in the position of living on benefits. It wasn’t much of a life, more an existence. I rarely left my flat, lost nearly all of my friends, became withdrawn and angry. 

It took a lot of support from the Community Mental Health team, tenancy support and my then boyfriend before in 2010 I was able to work for a matter of months before the Bipolar once again became too much to deal with. When I was high I took on too much work without being able to concentrate on any of it, then when depressed I became extremely overwhelmed and struggled to even get out of bed in the morning. 

I signed back onto benefits and my health deteriorated further. In 2011 I tried to take my own life a number of times then almost overnight an ongoing problem with my knees worsened meaning that I could only get around on crutches. Eventually the pain spread to my back and after seeing a rheumatologist and having lots of tests I was finally diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a severe form of arthritis that causes pain, fatigue and if effective treatment isn’t received soon enough, can cause the bones in the spine to fuse. It can also affect joints such as the knees. 

It took nearly a year of seeing a rheumatologist before I was given a drug called Enbrel. Since being on this drug for a few weeks I have already noticed improvements in my levels of pain and it has left me beginning to hope about what this drug could mean for my future physically. My main issues now are my mental illness and my levels of fatigue (impacted by my physical and mental health). 

Mentally, I’m a mess. My mood yo-yo’s on an hourly basis and I struggle with mania, paranoia and anxiety or depression and lethargy, mixed states, suicidal thoughts, the lot. I receive treatment from the CMHT including a social worker and PA. I’m also waiting for group therapy and tenancy support to start.

I receive disability benefits including ESA and DLA, so life isn’t as much of a struggle for me as it was when I first signed on to benefits but it is still traumatic. That constant fear that someone will declare you fit for work when you’re ill or that the cuts that are being put in place next year will impact me, leave me feeling like nothing is secure, nothing can be relied upon. 

I’d love the security of a job but I know that I couldn’t cope with the inflexibility, the stress and pressure. I’d love to be a journalist but some days I can’t even speak to my friends, let alone strangers and I struggle to leave the house unaccompanied. I’m still on crutches too so with that and my record of mental illness causing an end to my employment, it is unlikely that anyone would want to employ me anyway. 

I would love to write on a regular basis , which is why I set this blog up, but some days I can’t concentrate at all, or if I have great concentration due to a manic episode, I could be writing complete nonsense anyway. 

As a result of my ill health I’ve lost friends, family avoid me and I have no social life. I’d love to be a normal twenty-something. At my age I should be in a position of responsibility, have a career, perhaps be thinking about starting a family. Instead if I am ever able to work again I will be extremely lucky to get a job on the bottom rung of the ladder, no matter what my age. 

I’m not what some would call a ‘chav’. I have part of a university education behind me. I’m not lazy and I’m not greedy. I’m hardworking, determined and I love a challenge. The problem is that despite the best of my intentions, my enthusiasm doesn’t turn into anything reliable, concrete. Instead I am crushed under the pressure and fall apart. 

I started this blog in the hope that one day I can be a freelance journalist but more importantly than that, that I can raise awareness of people like me who are affected by disabilities, physical and mental, who are unable to work and who have to rely on benefits that are threatened by the government cuts. I want people to realise that we are not an ‘underclass’ to be threatened by, but ‘normal’ people like them who just happen to have fallen on hard times. If it was you in my position, wouldn’t you expect some government support? How would you feel if people looked down on you as a result? How would claiming benefits make you feel as a person or how does it make you feel? 

I am happy to continue this discussion on this blog as well as on Twitter @spursbythebeach. If you have something you want to say more privately then please feel free to email me on brokenglassshimmers@hotmail.co.uk and I will try to get back to you as soon as possible. 

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