Thursday, 17 December 2015

Todays new meds part 3

So I've been on this medication for quite a while now. It works really well. I don't hear the voices at all and have few feelings of paranoia. The only trouble is, it has horrendous side effects.
People probably don't think side effects of medication would be that important as long as it is doing the job it is intended to do. The truth is that side effects can make one question whether it is worth being on the medication at all.
There are certain problems I have which started round about the same time i started my new medication. For instance tiredness. I don't mean 'just a bit sleepy' I mean really tired. I have always been an insomniac, since I was a little baby, but I've actually been sleeping really well recently. Too well. I can go to bed reasonably early and yet sleep through my alarm. I have been able to sleep through till 3PM before. Sometimes I just can't get up at all and I have to spend the entire day in bed. This is not laziness. I really cannot open my eyes and have the energy to get up. Sometimes if I manage to get myself up early I can't last the whole day and have to go for a nap. It really interferes with my life. How am I meant to experience life and do anything if I'm stuck in bed the whole time. I'm never going to be able to get a job this way.
Another thing that has happened over the last year or so is that I have put on an awful amount of weight. This is i guess partly a problem to do with vanity, no 30 year old wants to look overweight but i also feel heavy. I don't feel comfortable in my body anymore. I put on a bit of weight after coming back from uni. This was understandable as i was less active and could afford to eat more. However, over the last year I have gone up 2 dress sizes. I eat reasonably healthy I think and even went vegan for a month (which I am mostly keeping up). I thought I'd lose a few pounds by cutting out dairy but i feel more heavy than ever. It doesn't help either that I don't have the energy to get up and do lots of exercise.
I spoke to my Psychiatrist about the medication he put me on but he was mainly interested in whether or not it was doing the job it was meant to. Not bothered about the side effects. As I've said before, different medical professionals are just interested in their particular field. His one piece of advice though was to feel more energetic, do more exercise. Not helpful at all. I have decided instead to speak to my GP who is very good and hope she has some advice.
It's very difficult writing this without sounding lazy, vain, whingy or whiny. But they are things that people on medication have to go through. The next question is, what is more important, staying on the meds and having side effects or coming off and potentially feeling paranoid again. Perhaps I can find a happy medium.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Soooo what do you do then?

Since I have been unemployed there is one question I dread, that makes me fear meeting new people even more because I know they're going to ask 'So what do you do'. It's the second question anyone asks after 'what's your name?'.
I can see it's difficult as it seems to be the only way to open a conversation with someone new. I don't think people realise how difficult it is for me (and maybe others) to answer it. I feel awkward saying that I'm unemployed at the moment because unemployment and benefits have a stigma for many people in this country. If I say I'm unemployed it leads to the question 'what do you usually do then?'. 'Gosh! it's been such a long time I don't know. I went to college and studied acting but I wouldn't call myself an actress. I used to work in a shop but that was ages ago now'. Not the best conversation starter.
Sometimes I panic and take the brutal attack where i go into all the details about my mental health but apart from that scaring people off I don't want to start every meeting by talking about that.
I've tried the avoiding technique by just saying 'I don't do anything' and then staying quiet but that just makes me sound cold and you can't create conversation that way.
When meeting someone you haven't seen in a while and they say 'so what have you been up to then?' Is even worse. I try hard to think of something interesting but usually it's just nothing. It's shaming having to say you've been doing nothing.
I don't like the way people are defined by what job they do. There are many people who are employed but don't particularly like talking about there job, it's just a job, so why do we ask?
It's hard because the question 'so what do you do then?' is such a natural way to start a conversation, even I say it. It's hard to think what to put there instead. Maybe something like 'so what are you interested in?'.
I've managed to get my answer down to 'I can't work at the moment as I've been ill' and then when they ask what I normally do I just say 'I'm not sure yet but I studied acting at college and am really interested in the arts'. If they ask more about my illness I oblige. It seems to work ok but there would be so much less dread and fear of the question if it was 'So what makes you happy?'.

The stranger on the bridge

I just watched an excellent documentary on channel 4, 'The stranger on the bridge'. It was about a man who was looking for the man who talked him down from jumping off a bridge. I had come across the find mike campaign so it was interesting hearing more. It ended up with it being more than just a search for a man but other people feeling they could relate to what this guy had been through. I know I could. Like me he had psychosis too. It was amazing to hear about someone who had been so close to the edge but made it back and created a successful life for himself. It was sad to see how common it is for people to be jumping off bridges but comforting to know how many people care enough to talk them down.
The reunion between the two men was a very touching moment.
If you didn't watch it, I hope you read this and follow the link to the channel 4 page to watch it.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Face to face assesment...and ATOS!

To anyone who hasn't experienced applying for health benefits you will not know about the assessments held by ATOS.They are an independent company employed by the government. From what I gather they get paid a commission of how many people they can clear off their list.
Anyway, going to a health assessment can be one of the most anxious and humiliating experiences. I had to go to one the other day and I was so stressed in there that I thought I would pop! At certain points I thought I would just scream and run out. They always ask me the usual questions about 'can I wipe my own bum' and 'can I read' but it's when they get onto the questions like 'can I cook alone'. Well I do, but there's always a chance I'll throw the pan of boiling water down myself. This is why I usually have one of my parents with me. I can get easily confused by the questions, and stressed about how to answer properly (as with form filling, blah!).
The bit I hate most is when they start asking intrusive questions about self harm and suicide. These are things that took long enough to talk to a doctor about, let alone in a room with your dad and a complete stranger who is writing down every WORD YOU SAY.
I do understand why they have to ask the questions, and the people at the assessments are usually nice, but they don't make the decision. I've been through this stressful time and then it is all sent off to The Decision Maker. Yes, that's genuinely the title.
The Decision Maker. A faceless stranger in a room who sits in a big chair and has 2 piles of folders labelled YES and NO. A person who has never met me.

Todays new meds part 2

After weeks of taking my new medication I started to realise that where that little room in my head where the people were talking about me, was boarded up! I was still a little sceptical, thinking maybe it was just a coincidence and not the medication, but either way it's a pretty good result.
Then the problems started. I slowly realised how much time I was spending in bed. I was sooo tired and couldn't see the point in getting up when I had nothing to do. I would stay in bed for days at a time. If I did get up it wouldn't be long before I went back to bed again. I also started to feel anxious and lonely when I was alone so would stay at my mums occasionally but then would be panicky about being away from my flat. It was a feeling that was all to familiar.
I started to think that this was probably side effects of my medication so I proceeded to make the mistake of self medicating (silly me!). I called my GP and told her the problem. She's a wonderful GP but obviously not a specialist in those medications. She reduced my dose for me which I have been taking for about 2-3 weeks. The same lethargy came back. Withdrawal from a medication can be just as nasty.
Luckily, I had a surprise phone consultation with my Psychiatrist (ok, he was calling because I'd forgotten to go to a meeting). I told him the problem and after and quick, kind telling off for self medicating, he arranged a different plan. I'm going back on all my meds. Whereas before I took half in the morning and half in the evening I will now be taking all in the evening. I guess that kind of makes sense. Hopefully, I'll be sleepy at the right time now.
Starting that next week so I'll follow up with how that goes.