I went to the workshop with K today. It was good, really really good. Everyone there is so friendly and helpful, it's a lovely atmosphere. I'm carving a wooden horse, not a fancy detailed one, just something that I hope will look at least vaguely horse-like, because I need to get used to the tools and working with the wood.
I started to get really frazzled after a couple of hours though, and told K I needed to leave. I'm not used to talking to people, and the muscles in my jaw actually hurt! I want to build up to going to the workshop three or four times a week and if I can save the money go the ceramics course that starts in February. I'm starting to think that, you know, I might actually be able to have a life. This Reablement work is exactly what I need.
But I'm also aware that I have to be realistic. That's something I've not always been terribly good at in the past. I have this pattern of feeling relatively sane and capable, and wanting to catch up on all the things I want to do but haven't been able to, and making various grand plans and then being so disappointed with myself when I fall apart and can't manage. And then I feel defeated all over again. I want to do things differently this time around. Get used to doing one thing and then try adding another. Be patient with myself.
Because it's just after four and the only thing I feel capable of doing is getting into bed and watching a film, and I wouldn't be surprised if I fell asleep before the film was over. Pathetic, eh?
I'm not quite sure what is going on. Something is changing, and when something starts changing I've learned that I need to take notice.
Yesterday the chimney sweep came in the morning. I busied myself cleaning while I waited. Cleaning, which has seemed an impossible task for a while, is suddenly easy. The chimney sweep was late so I had to rush into town to meet K. We went to the library first. I collected a ridiculous amount of books and then I made myself be sensible and reduced my armful to five - a book about living with bipolar, a book of David Hockney's recent paintings, a couple of books about painting abstracts and a book about woodcarving, because I am going to begin learning how to carve wood on Monday.
Then we went for a coffee and we talked. Wow, we talked - art, books, politics, oh yes, lots of politics. It made me feel really fizzy and buzzy, it made me think that yes, I would like to make some friends, that I would join the reading group I saw advertised at the library, maybe I'd even go back to the dating websites. But by the time I got home I was physically shaking.
This morning I had to go into town - shopping, bank, prescription. Except there had been a screw-up with my prescription and they gave me lamotrigine, quetiapine and paroxetine which weren't due, but no depakote, which was. Turned out that because the last letter the GP's got from the hospital didn't list depakote on it they'd taken it off repeat, and they won't put it back on repeat until they have another letter from the hospital, so the doctor just wrote me a prescription for a month, and I had to go back into town to collect it this afternoon, and I'll have to phone my CPN on Monday.
Inbetween all this I carried on cleaning. My muscles were aching and my temperature control seemed to be shot, but I felt driven, I didn't want to sit still. And I didn't want to just get my house basically clean and tidy, I wanted to make it spotless, to organise all my paperwork, and to arrange my books. I have this really strong feeling that I don't want to sleep tonight. The idea of getting into bed is repugnant. My mind is trying to override my body. Which makes me suspect I should do the exact opposite of what I feel like doing. Because of this mix-up with the prescription I now have a fair amount of 'spare' quetiapine, so I think I am going to take some extra and try to get a decent night's sleep.
Yesterday morning I had the second part of my psychology assessment. I was in there for nearly two hours, but it felt like no time at all. We picked up where we had left off last time in the basic timeline of my life, and then talked about the difficulties I have and what I want to change. She felt that therapy could help me so I am now on the waiting list. She said people usually have 20-30 sessions though it can be extended if necessary, and it can be flexible in the approach used and the timing of sessions - she said that it could be temporarily put on hold if I became excessively elated or depressed and couldn't make the most of it (though I actually think that that might be when it would be most useful). She felt that Acceptance and Commitment therapy might work well for me. Having read a book about it a couple of years ago, I agree. I'm not drawn to the more psychodynamic approaches, I don't feel I have particular issues from the past to resolve or trauma to heal from. I'm more interested in exploring and developing ways to manage my moods, experiences and extreme states so that I can do some of the many things I want to. So I feel quite positive about that, but I'm also impatient and would like to get started with it NOW! It seems daft that you are told that here is something that might help you, but you have to wait six months (and I know many people have to wait longer). I guess in the meantime I could track down that book again and start doing some work myself.
Then in the afternoon my Reablement worker, K, came round. They're going to pay for my chimney to be swept because I am still seriously short of cash and they were worried that my house was cold - I have no central heating. So that is happening on Thursday morning. It will be good to be able to get a fire going again. She also spoke to the library on my behalf and got them to waive my fines so I can start using it again, which is great. We're going there on Thursday afternoon to see what events they're running, and to ask if they have or know of a reading group. I might struggle to keep up with one because I can't always concentrate enough to read, but I'd like to meet some more people who love books. It turns out that K loves books, and so we just chatted for ages about books and art and obsessions. She ended up staying an hour and a half. I can't remember the last time I did so much talking in one day!
This morning I went to the hospital to see my CPN. She said I looked well and she was pleased because I'd had a really tough time and she couldn't actually think of anyone who'd had it tougher. I was really taken aback by that. I just don't see myself and my life that way. She asked how my finances were because she knows that's a major stressor at the moment and I told her that it just seems to be one thing after another, so I'm struggling to claw my way back to a more manageable place - my washing machine is now broken so that's another bill coming my way. She said that there was a local charitable organisation that she could apply to for funding so if it turns out I need a new machine they might help. And if I don't need a new washing machine they might help me get a new computer, because my ancient one keeps having major wobbles and I live in fear of it giving up the ghost entirely. So that's pretty amazing.
I do find myself feeling rather uncomfortable though. Here I am getting this money and these services, and being supported to do stuff, and it's all about me and what I want to do. I'd like to do something to help other people as well, even if it was only in a small way. So I think I'm going to ask K about volunteering. The problem I had before is that the voluntary jobs I was interested in wanted multiple references that I just don't have, but maybe she knows a way round that.
This afternoon I had to go to the GP's to have an ECG. Hardly a major task, but having had two relatively busy days for me, I now feel rather exhausted and am actually shaking. I am in utter awe of people who manage to work and to have families and social lives. I think I may just have to get cosy in bed and watch something on Netflix.
Things are heavy-going at the moment. It seems that I have one or two days when I am able to get a few things done, and then three I have to write off as useless. I just want to go to bed all the time. And the problem with setting goals for yourself, however small, is that you open up space for feelings of failure. Today's a failure day. I can feel it in me.
I was introduced to my Reablement worker today, though it turned out I met her a few times last year. I really like her, so that's good. She's coming back on Monday and we'll draw up some kind of plan for the twelve weeks she'll be working with me. Maybe that will give me some oomph and encouragement.
It's hard to express my current state of mind. It's not that I feel apathetic or unmotivated. I'm not depressed or distressed. It's just that my skull is the only thing holding my thoughts together. I am having to be patient with myself, and I am not very good at that. I am having to be content with the smallest of small steps. I am so far away from living the life I want to.
I remember when I was at school, and I could write essays analysing arguments, or understand mathematical proofs. I used to enjoy feeling my brain work like that. I remember the teachers who told me I was "a high-flier" and would be able to succeed at anything I chose to do. What a joke. These days I struggle to do something as simple as have a shower every day. I am aware of the New Year rushing towards me, and of my absolute lack of achievement during this one.
My mood is good to high right now, but my thinking is very very disorganised. Thoughts don't follow on from each other but leap around and often aren't completed. Words and phrases repeat. Then there are periods of blankness. It's a problem. And it makes it very hard to actually decide to do something and then do it. It's no wonder I don't tend to achieve very much in my life.
I'm trying, when I can, to sort the house out. I need my environment to be ordered because inside my head is so very disordered. I'm still waiting for help with my finances, that just feels too big and complicated to think clearly about. I'm working hard on developing a routine, so the ordinary everyday things that need doing, like showering, I do automatically because that's just what I do and I don't need to think about it. I'm having some success with that. I've started splurging out thoughts into a notebook every morning. It's a bit scary just how all over the place they are, but I think it helps me feel a bit clearer and get at least some stuff done during the day. I think I'm also going to start keeping a more traditional diary because writing it will force me to be more organised (just as writing this blog does). Hopefully that will also help with my memory, which is terrible at the moment.
Sometimes I feel like I've just been parachuted into my life and I'm looking around saying "Huh? What the hell is going on here?" I know that I've had various things I've wanted to write about since my last post but they've never quite coalesced into paragraphs. There was something about the "sick role". And patience. And paradoxes. But I don't really know exactly where my head is at right now, so this may be rather random
I know I've been sleeping a lot, a lot, a lot. It's the quetiapine. I feel great when I'm awake, I'm just not awake that much. It means I'm dreaming all sorts of elaborate dreams, both personal dreams, about emotions and events past and present, and more impersonal dreams about ideas and epic fantasy adventures. So I am spending a long time in another world, and it makes this world seem rather less solid, rather less definitely real. I feel a need to read and read about dreams, and to investigate the holographic nature of the universe. Because maybe experiences that have been labelled "psychotic" are actually telling me some truth about reality. So that's the parodox, I guess. That the effect of the anti-psychotics I'm taking is to make me think about "psychosis" in another way.
I know also that I've been feeling rather expansive, that I've had the thought "I'm just a naturally happy, high-energy person! Skipping in the supermarket, or having to pause because there is a rush of pleasure in my blood, that's just the way I am!" Hmm.
I had the first part of my psychology assessment this morning. It's hard to know how it went, but I talked a lot. The ninety minutes went by very fast. And I'm still talking in my head. I could talk and talk! I must make sure I note down the things I want to highlight in the second part, so I don't get distracted. Today was mostly, inevitably, about family and childhood, but oh, there is so much else I want to say! It'll be about a six month wait for therapy, if the psychologist feels it is suitable for me.