Tag: Coping Strategies

Crashing

This is a hard post to write.

I have not been coping physically with my job for a long time. I have really tried to ignore this. Since I started it made my pain levels worse and ever since they have kept increasing. I kept hoping it would at least stop getting worse and maybe that I’d get better at coping with it. I wanted to be able to do it. Be some kind of normal. My job sometimes helps me mentally, engaging in something creative and focusing on helping customers and giving the best service I can. It takes my focus outward which I’ve long believed is really important in staying well. The tactile aspects of my work, handling the different fabrics and trying to create attractive displays, can in themselves be grounding and soothing. Additionally, it’s an area where I can try`to do some good and not feel useless. (I know that’s something I need to work on, how connected my sense of worth is with others’ outward perception of me, but I can’t deny it helps for the time being.)

Now I’ve come to the point of crashing completely. In the last 3 months in particular my pain and physical weakness has increased faster. Since around the time of my operation I guess marked a real down-turn physically and it was to be expected really that  my fibromyalgia symptoms will be worse for a while afterwards. Everything is worse really, my back problems (I had a slipped disc years ago), arthritis…

I know I haven’t really talked about it so maybe this sounds weird. Whenever I talk about my physical health I worry it all sounds stupid, nobody would believe me, I’m a fake and I should just get on with it and everything’s my fault. (There’s a lot I have to work on there too, I know.)

I feel like I’ve crashed suddenly. Gradually it has got harder and harder to – move, to put it bluntly…  Getting harder to get through the day….harder to be able to get home, having to sit and rest, and crumpling as soon as I get in, lying down most of the evening… Today I have had to spend most of the day lying down. Pain and shakiness in my legs makes any standing and walking really hard. My legs are cramping and jerking out of the blue. I can’t feel in my right foot normally and at the same time the pain is really bad through my lower back and hips, worst on the right… I’ve had all this before although not as bad, but I am very scared right now. I feel scared and shaky and lost and so tired. I slept a lot today too. My support worker came this morning and I was so tired I was struggling to literally get words out.

So I find myself admitting again that I am probably going to have to leave this job. The physical deterioration from trying to meet its demands is too much. I have tried to look into reducing my hours but it does not look as though this will be possible. I;d have to massively reduce them in any case. My manager has been kind and understanding in her approach but has to follow the sickness absence procedures set down by the company. Since I have been off sick 4 times within a 6 month period, this is flagged as a problem. I can well understand that it is not fair to colleagues to be off too frequently and I know myself that I am struggling more and more with daily tasks, which is increasing my anxiety and in turn my psychotic thoughts and my fears about what colleagues are saying and thinking about me and making it harder to cope with the hallucinations and all the mental struggles of every day.

Outside of work the effect is great too. Not only are the pain and mobility problems an issue, but I have no energy or coping resources left to manage day to day tasks like keeping my house clean, keeping in touch with people, doing positive things to bring a balance to life outside work, or perhaps most importantly right now, giving the energy to therapy and recovery that I need to. The months I have left with the PD service are precious and working on making use of my individual and group sessions is demanding. I want to be mentally “present” for it, not shut off protecting myself because I’m desperately trying to cope with pain and utter exhaustion.

I’m going to be referred to Occupational Health so I await to see what they will suggest.

ergonomic occ health

I also have to follow my doctors’ and my support worker’s advice. I believe they would all prefer me to reduce my hours. My support worker definitely thinks so.

The one thing that ironically, in a twisted way makes this situation possibly not quite so bad, is that I may actually not be worse off financially working fewer hours or not working at all. I want to talk about this more in a separate post shortly. It’s a bizarre situation that doesn’t sit well with me. At the moment I am struggling in pain and making myself physically worse every day, working part-time, earning just above the minimum hourly wage.  I receive less than £10 per week help towards my rent, I am not entitled to any help at all with things like council tax*, and although I was initially assessed as eligible for a small amount of tax credits, this decision has now been changed and I have been told that I am not entitled to any.  Now, I strongly believe that it is morally right to work as much as I can and not to expect to receive handouts when I could be earning myself. However, what I cannot get away from is that on my current earnings whilst I am working as many hours as I can (well, I have to admit now, more than I can) I cannot live. I do not have enough to cover basic bills and simple living costs and I would not be getting by if it were not for regular help from my family and even occasionally my very good friend who has lent me money for grocery shopping when money has been tightest.

Not only can this situation not go on – I am over 30 now and I simply cannot go on needing financial help from my dad; I have to support myself – but the cost of this job physically is just too much to go through to still not be able to live. It is painfully ironic that because if I were not working or were working fewer hours, for example for a few months or so whilst I complete my therapy, my financial situation would actually be more stable because of the greater help I would get towards rent and living costs. That makes me really really uncomfortable and it isn’t right. Yet I have to be able to live.

It isn’t the main factor that has led me to this point. If I were coping physically I would keep going and if I could I would see if I can increase my hours. But I’m forced to accept that just isn’t so and physically things are not good right now.

I feel really worn out and vulnerable right now. The last time I was so low physically, about 7 years ago, I didn’t feel so afraid or sad. I wonder why that change has come. Perhaps I feel more responsible now. Perhaps I am sadder about potentially leaving my job because there are aspects of it that I genuinely like this time. Perhaps I feel more of a failure that this has happened again.

I need to focus on the good things that could come out of it if I do have to leave. My health problems are not life threatening or anything that serious and so many people are going through much worse, much more medically severe, perhaps without friends to help them and understanding doctors. In moments I can see that there can be ways that in the next few months I can try to turn things around.

I don’t want anyone to feel bad for me. Tonight I just needed to get all this out and admit that I’m scared.

Thank you for listening. I can’t imagine where I would be right now without this blog and the support of you lovely people who read and care and comment. There’s so much more I should say on that. I hope you know how much you mean to me. Hugs xxx

Ginny xxx

(*apart from the 25% single person occupancy discount. For non-UK readers, council tax is a roughly monthly fee payable towards local government spending like policing and other emergency services, refuse collection, some elements of care for vulnerable people, etc. Most working adults pay council tax. The amount payable depends on the value of the property you live in.)

Image not mine, sourced on the ever useful Google – I am afraid I do not know the artist (it says in the top left I believe but I was not able to expand it to read it.

Do you think hope is a choice?

Two things were said to me yesterday which have given rise to strong feelings and thoughts for me.

The first was that hope is always there and it’s a choice and we choose whether to accept or deny it.

The second was that healing of even awful pain is possible but we have to want it.

These statements and what they imply and the thoughts they lead to are very hard for me.

Tomorrow I will post again on this topic. For now I’m really interested to know what you think. Do you agree? What do you think? Do the statements imply particular things for you or give rise to strong feelings?

I know it’s a bit strange without the context but I did not want to cloud the issue with my own strong interpretations and what I felt. Tomorrow I’ll write about that…but first I’m really interested in any thoughts you may want to share in the comments.

Thank you.

Ginny xxx

Walking this Borderland #12: 5 4 3 2 1 steps

A family member gave a women’s wellbeing workshop recently. I wasn’t able to go but I helped her look over some of her materials. Many of the daily challenges she suggested to improve our wellbeing incorporated elements of mindfulness  (in a loose sense at least – I’m not yet very knowledgeable about mindfulness so you may correct me). For example, becoming aware of our emotions, or being curious about our environment, perhaps taking a little time to be present in each moment and noticing new things in places that are familiar to us which we might often pass on “autopilot”, such as the beauty of a tree coming into bloom on our route to work.

I came across The 5 3 1 Technique to improve your daily wellbeing, of which you can easily find various versions online, for example here *. All credit for the idea behind this post goes to that technique. I do not know who first invented it and I’ve seen a couple of different versions.

Inspired by this, I developed my own version, which I’m going to try to practice daily. I’ve called mine simply “5 4 3 2 1” (this being more memorable than 5 3 1, perhaps?!):

FIVE – the original 531 technique suggests 5 minutes of meditation at the start of each day. I think starting each day with meditation or prayer is a great idea but it can be really difficult if you have never done it before or if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. I find it helps to give the time more structure, for example, finding 5 things or people you are thankful for and thinking about them for a minute or so each. Or you could write a list of 5 things that happened in the previous day that you enjoyed or are thankful for. I’m Catholic and another way I sometimes do this is to pray a decade of the rosary really slowly. On each bead, I say the prayer in gratitude for a particular person or event, trying to be open to let the thankfulness fill my heart. This can be a good way to calm down when I’m feeling very anxious or a good way to pray when I’m struggling to be still.

FOUR – find 4 ways to connect to the outside world. For instance. … Go for a walk. Write a letter to someone. Pray for someone. In your work or chores, find a tiny way to do something with a little more concentration than normal, or with a little more care than normal. The simplest task done with love and attention has value and grounds you in the present moment, turning your thoughts and energy outwards rather than inwards to anxiety and fears.

THREE – notice 3 things in the world around you that are different or beautiful. It could be something new you’ve learnt, a conversation that made you think, something beautiful in nature, a sensory experience like a soothing scent or touch, and so on.

TWO – look in the mirror and tell yourself 2 good things about yourself. For example: you are beautiful; you are loved; today you are going to help people; you deserve to take care of yourself… (wow, for me at least it’s incredibly hard to come up with these things for myself 😉 !)

ONE – do one small act of kindness for another person. This need not be a big action. It could be simply smiling at them, allowing them to go before you in a queue, or asking them about their day and really listening. Just something to make them feel valued.

All these steps are intended to be small things which all work towards grounding us in the present moment and increasing our sense of wellbeing. I’m giving it a go. ..

Ginny xxx

*I have not followed up all the links on the mindfulness site myself so am not advocating their contents / saying that the techniques or information there will be useful for everyone. I just intended it as a description of the original 531 Technique.

Carers who really care

The doctors and nurses who looked after me when I was in hospital for my operation last week were fantastic. I owe them huge thanks. It was really busy on the ward the two days I was there, probably all the more so because a lot of surgeries had had to be rescheduled from the previous day. From my arrival, they were sensitive and compassionate. I was there because of my physical health but they knew about my mental health as well and we discussed it during my assessment when I arrived. The nurse taking care of me took time to be really aware of how both my physical and my mental health issues were affecting me and to enquire about whether I was getting the help I felt I needed and would be supported once I returned home after the operation.

It was a minor op but still daunting to me. The nurses and doctors’ compassion, communication, availability to answer questions, even simply their general presence, genuinely doing all they could to help, made such a huge difference. One nurse even taught me the instant ice trick!

I wasn’t an emergency, an urgent or complicated case, thanks be to God. They treated so many people in those two days, most of whom I’m sure needed much more care than I did. Yet they still had time for me.

I am so thankful for these people who give so much.

Ginny xxx

Mixed up

It’s a night of confusing feelings. It felt like a strange day from the start as group therapy was cancelled. Tonight I keep nearly crying for no reason. My chest hurts. Feels like there’s a weight under my ribs. Anxiety? I don’t know. I just want a hug.

It wasn’t all bad today. Actually there was a lot of good. I met my friend for coffee. She has a beautiful baby girl, six months old. Baby was in the mood for cuddles, despite not having seen me for a couple of months, and giggled away in my arms. Being loved and trusted by her just made me really happy. With a little baby there’s no room for the second guessing and doubting that comes into all my other relationships (like the voices telling me they can’t stand me really even if they pretend to like me and finding proof all too easily of how bad I’m sure they think I am). With a baby it’s open emotion that I don’t doubt.

It was good to talk to my friend and I realised how much I miss her. She’s special, very astute and empathic and reflective. She is really supportive to me and still so through the fulness of her own life as a mum when she has do many demands and many people might understandably lose touch or be less “present” for friends.

We talked some about how I feel really unhappy with the hospital at the moment. On the way to meet her I’d had another upsetting phonecall with the hospital which I won’t bore you with detailing right now. Talking helped at the time for a little while and stopped me losing it but soon after the crashing guilt hit me, that I shouldn’t have said anything and shouldn’t moan and it’s my fault anyway and that I took up her time and took over the conversation; although I really tried not to and tried to turn the conversation back to her quickly, I worry what if it did. I’m trying to trust she meant it when she said she enjoyed meeting.

Through the afternoon spikes of anger kept hitting me about the phonecall. I kept actively choosing to do things other than self-harm, which did have the one positive effect that I cleaned my flat as distraction!

This evening I made a card for my colleague B’s golden wedding anniversary. Tomorrow evening B and her husband are having a party and she’s kindly invited us from work. I’m very happy for her and it’s very generous of her indeed to include us. At the same time I’m anxious already. I’m getting a lift with another colleague as it’s not really on a bus route, which means I don’t have control over when I can leave if I don’t feel good. I worry about spoiling things for other people. There’ll be lots of people, it’ll be busy, it’s in the evening, I don’t know the venue and it’s the first socialising I’ve done with colleagues outside work (apart from one coffee with someone). All challenges for me right now. I’m trying to just focus on being happy for B. and being warm towards new people I meet. I don’t want to waste all the good of the lovely celebration with my anxieties.

I’m missing N. and feeling very upset with how I left things with her. I’m determined to do something, go to see her, to tell her meaningfully I’m sorry and try to sort it all out but I’m not sure how she’ll feel about me approaching her or if it’s better for her that I leave things be now and don’t try to get in touch if I’d only cause more hurt.

Anyhow. It’s a lot of feelings to sit with tonight. I’m tired and I need to try to be still. Thanks be for tea and hot water bottles!

Goodnight. I’m praying for you.

Ginny xxx

My rescue box – update

A while ago I posted about making up a “rescue box” as a tool to help me cope in times of crisis. You can read more about the principle and how the box helps here and I’d strongly recommend reading that before reading this post. In brief, the Box is a way of putting together in one place, easily visible and quickly accessible, the things that will help you cope when you are feeling bad. For me feeling bad tends to mean very upset, crying, struggling with voices and other hallucinations, and re-experiencing traumatic memories. The Box is not a cure for how you are feeling and is not meant to make the emotions go away. It isn’t intended to be a way to suppress them. Having said that, it is to some extent distraction, and a way to access tools to lower your very heightened emotional state so that you can then be more able to cope, to think, or to avoid impulsive actions that may be harmful to you. The CPN who explained the idea to me recommends it as a tool for BPD sufferers. I would imagine it could help people dealing with a variety of other situations / conditions too.

I promised an update about my box once I had put it together, so here goes. I’m new to this technique and I’m sharing updates as I go along.

I made my Box by covering a cardboard packaging box in gift wrap. I’ve started to stick some pretty things to the outside of it as well – a flower, some Hello Kitty stickers because they make me smile, a few little snippets of encouraging text – and I’ve put a little plastic pouch on top with a pretty card and a message from a dear friend. I’ll continue decorating the box with more sensory, pretty, attractive things and things that have a meaning for me and remind me of good times. I think this increases the likelihood the Box will be in my mind and be an appealing thing. (Half the problem with coping strategies, I find, is remembering to use them when the hard times come – often the distress can be so consuming I just don’t think of how to access helpful tools and techniques! Anything that helps me call them to mind has to be a plus!)

rescuebox

The contents of the Box is very much a personal thing, of course, as different things will be important to each of us. In case it’s of interest, here are some of the things I keep in mine (you can see them in the picture).

  • A couple of little stuffed animals – I’ll freely admit I am very childish! 🙂 I find them comforting and have quite a collection. To be honest, Bunny is usually next to me on the sofa, not in the box 🙂 and I collect “ty” Beanie owls and my-little-ponies. I guess stuffed toys also give a soothing tactile experience when you hold them, which can be useful for BPD sufferers. As a soothing sensation increases, the unpleasant sensation of very heightened emotion may reduce (again, I explain this better in my earlier post).
  • For similar reasons, a little bottle of scent. It’s soothing and distracting and if you are trying to control your breathing, the pleasant aroma can help you be aware of exhaling and inhaling.
  • A coaster, to remind me – make a soothing cup of tea! Drink it really focussing on the warmth and taste.
  • A special smooth, flat pebble from the beach, which is calming to hold (feeling the cool, polished surface) and which reminds me of the happy day on which I collected it.
  • A CD – at the moment it’s a CD I like with songs that lift my mood. This is a new one for me to try and I’m not sure which way it will go. When I am not in crisis, I enjoy listening to music. Putting on particular kinds of music and even dancing to it (well okay that’s a strong word – bouncing, at least!) can really pick me up. I’m not sure what kind of effect listening to upbeat music when I feel absolutely dreadful will have, but I’ll give it a go! It’s a way of trying to take an “opposite action” i.e. forcing yourself to do something “happy” or good for you when you are feeling sad and bad about yourself. The idea is this may in turn lift your thoughts. So listening to happy music and making myself move around to it might help lift my thoughts and feelings. Equally, at times music that expresses some of the anger or sadness I’m feeling can help as a way of “letting it out”.  I think I am going to trial both and then put together a playlist of favourite tracks specially for times I’m feeling down. Good job I live alone so there’s nobody to suffer for the fact that if I sing along I sound like a mouse with a particularly bad chest cold 😉
  • A favourite book I know well, which encourages me at the very hardest times, and some prayer cards with very short prayers. I can read over passages of the book, or say the prayers in my head, to repeat a hopeful and loving message to take the place of spiralling panicky thoughts, or the voices I hear telling me that I’m evil.
  • A few cards and a pen, to remind me – could I write a note to a friend? I.E., something nice to take me “out of” my own mixed up head, to force myself to do something positive, thus acting against the negative thoughts in my head, and making somebody else happy too?
  • A ball of wool – could I do something creative? Make pom poms? Do some cross stitch embroidery? Colouring?

I’ve tried to include a mixture of things that are happy and soothing of themselves (eg the stuffed animals, the scent) and things to encourage me to do something positive (eg the cards or the music). I’m also going to add to the box some pictures of my family and my close friends and my godchildren, basically people that matter to me, as a reminder of reasons to keep going and all the good things and good times that I can be thankful for – all things that can so easily be eclipsed in times of extreme distress.

So, that’s my Box! I hope perhaps this might be of interest…. I’m new to this and I will post another update about whether / how I find that it helps me.

Do you use any kind of toolkit like this to help you in the hard times? What would you put in your rescue box?

Ginny xxx

 

Did I actually just enjoy something?!

Since I came back from my lovely weekend stay with my friend L and her family a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been thinking back to it thankfully and often. In that weekend I felt genuinely positive emotions that have been absent for me for a long time (we’re talking years). Things like happiness at my goddaughters’ interest and excitement at our little activities and projects.  Their unboundedly curious questions showing perspectives so different from mine, especially different from my exhausted autopilot. Time with L. and real thankfulness for the strength and comfort her non-judgmental empathy gave me and really wanting to be there for her too, glad to be able to talk and share in her life, worries, joys, and so on.

Yes, the hard things were still there too. Voices, doubts, exhaustion, anxiety, it doesn’t magically go away. But the good experiences were so unusual for me that they particularly give me pause and I am all the more grateful for them.

Their good is lasting beyond the days I spent with L (nearly 2 weeks so now) in a way that’s more than just a happy memory. Perhaps it’s because it isn’t just a memory in my factual thought; it’s an emotional memory too. That’s stronger and more active and has a more continously creative effect on how I feel. I’m enjoying it and trying to nurture it, in thought and in prayer and in trying to build up some more creative, good experiences, especially where I can give or share something to someone else in even a small way. One thing I’ve been doing in recent days is making greetings cards, which I used to love but had completely lost all motivation or creativity to do. And I’m actually enjoying it, even looking forward to it. I can’t think when I last genuinely looked forward to an activity like this.

Maybe I’m starting to understand what a doctor told me when I was an inpatient in 2014 – that the more good experiences and memories you create, they can slowly begin to replace the terrible re-experiencing of traumatic past events and the automatic nature of obsessional thoughts and the power of the voices. I could not understand how this could work at the time though I really wanted to believe it. Later, in the most desperate times I was furious if anyone began to suggest anything like it. The suggestion seemed to trivialise the terror I was locked into. Yet now, I think I might be beginning to understand it.

Ginny xxx

Today I will find good

Ouch. The pain is really bad this morning and I’m exhausted, anxious and don’t know if I’ll get through the day at work.

Today I am deciding to find as much good as I can. Today I commit to notice and be thankful for 5 good things around me. Today I commit to hold onto hope. Today I commit to find every small way I can to go that little bit further and bring help and happiness to others.

I’ll post the 5 thankful things later today.

Wishing you good today.

Xxx

This is My Body broken for you – Good Friday of the Passion of Our Lord

Today is Good Friday (for another 40 minutes anyway, as I’m so late posting!).

Today we remember Our Lord Jesus’s suffering and death and begin the watching and waiting with Him – in His prayer in Gesthemane, in His arrest, scourging, crowning with thorns, trial, carrying the Cross, crucifixion, death and burial. At the Cross and at the tomb we wait and watch with Mary his Mother and the disciples.

Today tells us Love came down to us. Our Jesus suffers with us and we with Him. He too cried out in desperation, feeling forsaken. He too wept. He too hurt and bled. Today tells us that in the hardest and darkest times when everything seems lost, everything covered in darkness, everything of you poured out – in that very moment love can still be at work and hope, though yet unseen, can be falling to the earth. At the Cross, all seemed lost, all seemed hopeless, in terrible pain Jesus our hope – died. Yet in that moment His love is poured out and His saving work accomplished.

We wait. We kneel with Mary, watching and waiting. Hope is hidden. Our Lord is in the tomb.  Yes, we wait.  We trust. Today tells us, even in this darkness, even in despair, hold on, because you are beloved of God, and nothing is lost. Love and hope fell to the earth and was hidden – but then love arose! We wait in sure and certain hope of the resurrection on Easter morning and when Jesus is lifted up He calls us to Himself.

When we see so much suffering as there is throughout the world right now, when we are struggling with our own pain, when darkness covers everything for us, we don’t know how to respond. It can seem so huge our efforts seem to be of little worth. Perhaps first, part of holding on is learning to wait, and kneel, not in a passive waiting, but in certain hope that though we cannot yet see it, through our time of darkness, love is at work.

We are never alone. We the church are the Body of Christ. As He suffered so do we. At times He draws us closer to His Cross. Just as He is fully present with us and fully sharing every moment of our lives, so He gives us an active part in His Father’s saving plan. In His suffering on the Cross His love poured out and so in the suffering we – His Body – go through,  so His love also pours out. We cannot see the way out of the darkness but we can be sure love is at work and love has won the victory.

“I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and noone will take your joy from you.” John 16 v 22

Is that an absinthe with your coffee? – These fragile little changes.

Is that an absinthe with your coffee? – These fragile little changes.

Wednesday was a really difficult day. I had come back from my stay with my friend and my goddaughters and started to have a glimmer of the thought that perhaps, mentally I was feeling a little bit better for the first time since well before Christmas. I wanted to hang onto the good that the weekend with my friend had given me.

In what has become a frustratingly typical pattern, as soon as I began to take hope in this and the idea that I had a rest day to recuperate before going back to work the next day…. bang went that one.

First I got a letter about my Housing Benefit. Somebody thinks I earn nearly £300 per week and therefore they have stopped my housing benefit. My claim had already been suspended for several weeks whilst they recalculated the (clearly extremely complex – ahem!) change to my income caused by the fact that I am working 2 more hours each week. So I have been receiving no benefit whilst waiting for the decision to be made, and hoping to receive a payment. Now they have stopped it completely so I have nothing. £300 per week coming in would certainly be nice but certainly is not true! I have no idea where they got that figure from. It’ll be another trip to the Housing office on Tuesday to try to sort this mess out.

Then I spoke to the CPN working with the Victim Support services. She had been meant to call me a month previously. I am still too upset about what she told me and how she handled things, to be able to write very much about it. Basically she still flatly refused to help me or even in her terms “signpost” me to support.  The Personality Disorder Service have given her the impression that they are doing trauma work with me and meeting all my needs, which is just absolutely untrue. They are not, they have told me they have no intention of doing it, and they are not helping me access the services that would do it. She continued to block me at every turn as I tried to suggest ways she could help me.  Apparently I am just not allowed to have the support any other victim of crime would receive, just because I have a personality disorder, and apparently, everyone thinks this is fine and wonders why I’d need any help with the nightmares, hallucinations, flashbacks, panic, etc, etc…

I was in complete distress after that call. Once again, I felt as if I’d been tricked into trusting someone, brought to the edge, cut open, left as raw as possible (going through the inevitable distress of making the statement and reliving the memories and the vulnerability of having started to trust somebody to be there), then kicked, ridiculed, not believed and rejected. It was like going through being a victim of someone’s abuse and deception again.

Something inside me was different this time. Something resisted the instant urge to cut and cut til the noise stopped and overdose to freeze everything out and enter the safe, numb world and preferably lose consciousness. Perhaps there was some little thing inside me, built up during the weekend with my friend, or built up from the strength of having resisted self-harming for several days, and the grace and mercy of my God. This time I decided to make it different.

I didn’t shut myself away. I stayed outside and walked. I went to a cafe I know I like and that feels safe. I ordered a coffee (it’s the best coffee there, in my opinion) and the suspicious green concoction pictured. No, it isn’t absinthe 😉 don’t worry. It’s a very refreshing drink made from almond syrup, mint syrup, ice and very cold water. Odd, I know. LS., my favourite barrista there, invented it. Anyhow… so I ordered my coffee and I sat and wrote down everything I was feeling about what the CPN had said and how I’d been treated by her and all the wrong information that had been passed from the PD Service and other sectors of the mental health trust. I sent the PD Service and email to say that I would now be making a formal complaint. I also sent them another email requesting in writing the discharge summary / care plan and letters they have so far refused to allow me a copy of.

I went and got my nails done. I went home and made myself some food for dinner. Okay it was only cooked frozen veg and chicken with considerable assistance from Captain Birdseye*. But it’s the thing most reminiscent of cooking myself an evening meal that I’ve done since autumn. After dinner I didn’t binge-eat. I had some more coffee and I made several greetings cards. (Hand making cards is a hobby of mine when I’m feeling more well.) I took the proper dose of my tablets and I slept. I had nightmares and had to move back to the sofa half way through the night, but at least I slept in the bed for a little while.

So, you see, I did what I could to break the pattern and keep some strength going and not resort to only what hurts me most. Instead of cutting and cutting the hurt into myself, I wrote it all out on paper. Instead of imploding I started to take action, beginning my complaint. Instead of agreeing with the voices shouting ugly, evil, liar, etc, I pushed them away and did something nice for myself and something nourishing. Instead of letting the destruction going on in my head take hold, I tried to create something positive and pretty.

Here’s to these little changes.

Ginny xxx

[*For those readers not from the UK – “Birdseye” is a popular brand of frozen / part-prepared meat and fish products; Birdseye fish fingers used to be advertised by the character of “Captain Birdseye”]