Family

(Or: At Home – Day One)

I’m home!

I feel more than ready to hit the world. I have ambition – good lord – which seems unreal. I’m very excited; I want to get on with Real Life (TM) and return to the actor/writer/teacher/singer I’ve been throughout my entire life thus far.

I love my mother. She and I are very similar creatures. I never liked it much when I was younger, but I’m actually very excited about spending time with (and developing) my life with my mother.

When I was little, I was a clone of my mother. In ever single way. Look, demeanour, manner.

In the last few years, I’ve turned far more into my dad. I’m delighted about this; I hope I’ve taken on my dad’s ability to mediate with my mother’s lethal argumentative streak.

As I’ve grown older, I hope I’ve become a mix of both. I love my parents, and I love the things I’ve stolen from them. My mother’s opinionated constancy, my dad’s stubborn-ness, my mum’s anger, my dad’s balance, my mum’s random optimism and my dad’s panic.

I love my family, and I love what they’ve made me.

I miss my sister. With every breath, and I do not over-exaggerate, I miss my sister. Every single day, every single day without fail I think about her and how she is, what she’s doing. I think about what I could have done differently, and how much I wish she would give me a chance. I miss her.

I hate my family, and I hate what they’ve made me.

My grandmother is fighting for her life against cancer, and she doesn’t want to fight any more, she’s tired. My mother does not know, and will not want to know. My father hates his parents, and I have no conscious memory of them. My sister loathes me, and I never understood why. My family is shattered beyond belief, and I would give anything to bring them together again.

But I’m not able to. I’m ill. I’m barely holding myself together. I can barely hold my own partner together, let alone myself, let alone a family of terrifyingly independent people who do not want anything to do with one another.

I don’t know.

I can’t fight this fight.

(god, I miss my sister.)

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A Good Day

(Or: Acute Inpatient, Take Two – Day Two)

Today has been one of my best days in quite a long time, much to my own surprise. I honestly thought it would be horrible – based on both my mood, location, and that my fiancée wasn’t going to be able to visit – but I actually had a positive day. I didn’t cry! Not even once! And recently I’ve been sobbing hysterically at least twice a day so this is HUGE for me.

My parents visited, first off, and were really lovely. I can tell my dad isn’t coping well, but he has always found mental illness really difficult. And seeing your daughter on a psych ward for the third time, with intense suicidal ideation, must be horrendous for any parent. My mum is the joking one, and I felt able to laugh, so time passed quickly. They brought me a portable DVD player (!!!!) and DVDs to pass time. Which is awesome. They also brought some nice food things, because hospital food sucks.

On that: I still have not thrown up! My compromise has been that I’m eating very little. I know it’s not a perfect compromise, but it’s that or fall headlong back into bulimia which I’m just terrified of doing. My mood is terrible enough without adding vomiting to the mix. Again. So I am severely undereating but will deal with that later.

To my surprise, another very close friend of mine – codename cannon fodder, for a variety of reasons – unexpectedly visited after my parents had gone. Hugely fun. Somebody who’s seen enough of people in varying states of vulnerability to be utterly unfazed by anything, and still have a wicked sense of humour.

In other news, was offered legal work pro bono. And I mean as a lawyer. I declined by virtue of not being a lawyer.

So overall? Really positive day, and this hospital experience isn’t seeming quite so purgatorial.

(Now if I could just kick the constant desire to kill myself…)

And so it begins

(Or: Acute Inpatient, Take Two – Day One)

Look at that. A new countdown.

Well, I am on a ward. No idea how long for. I had a frankly disastrous conversation with the ward consultant psychiatrist, who I’m debating lodging a formal complaint against. The man was unbelievably cruel and showed a complete lack of empathy when I was clearly very distressed. I was told that there was nothing anybody could do about the bulimia so ‘don’t throw up’. I’m not kidding. Same response to self harm. I was told that I am here to ‘wait until this passes’ and otherwise refused to talk about my further treatment outside of hospital or on discharge. I was patronised about medication decisions that have been made with my GP and usual psychiatrist, and made to feel stupid. I ended up hysterically sobbing, and I do mean hysterical. Another nurse came in and told me he probably didn’t mean it to come across that way, take it a step at a time and come eat dinner.

I responded about as well as you’d imagine.

I am vacillating between ideas on how to respond. I don’t feel able to fight this in the way I need to. It requires a fuck of a lot of time, organisation, tenacity. It’s a full time occupation, and I can’t do it, as my primary occupation right now is not dying. Nobody is listening to me as a patient, and I can’t, it’s killing me.

So it falls to my fiancée. Who has a life of her own. Who does not have endless time to devote to this.

And if I’m completely honest, I am frightened of letting her do it. I am used to being in control. The only person I relinquish control of things like this to is my mother, and that’s because I’ve grown up watching her take on situations like this and win without question. My fiancée is new to this game, and I’m worried she’s not going to do it right. And I loathe myself for saying it because it sounds like I don’t trust her and I do, I truly do, but I also want her to go have a life that doesn’t revolve around my illness.

I’m still excruciatingly suicidal. The immediacy ebbs and flows, but it’s still there, cancerous.

To my credit, haven’t thrown up yet. Get me! I’ve had the opportunity, but haven’t, so go me, ladies and gents, I’m still here and I’m still fighting.

For now.

Determination Hits (get me, guys)

Tried to go to the Recovery Cafe today, and it was an unmitigated disaster, so I’m not doing that again.

Tomorrow, I’m talking to the GP, and I’m changing care co-ordinators. Should be eventful. I need to get support somewhere, somehow. The main thing I’m gunning for now is somewhere that addresses my comorbid eating disorder as well as borderline and bipolar. There are places.

If nothing happens, I’m contacting my local MP. And anybody else. I’m going to raise absolute hell over this.

Watch me.

Still Fighting (but fuck it’s unfair)

(Or: At Home – Day Sixty-Eight)

I am back home in London, after my few days of holiday up in Liverpool. I had an unashamedly wonderful time – just for a while, it wasn’t about my illness. And just for a while, I wasn’t a ‘problem’.

However, there is the kick-back. I am exhausted, mentally and physically, and I really have no words to explain exactly how exhausted I am; it’s like nothing I’ve ever known. Today I found some words for it, in trying to explain to my partner: currently, I am holding onto my sanity with all of my strength, like one would a lifeline. It would be substantially easier to just let go, because holding onto it saps everything in my body and soul, but I’m also dimly aware that I could die if I did.

The whole Tier 4 bollocks is just so much to handle. Today I (well, my partner) phoned Mind (mental health charity) who passed us onto their legal team and they have given us the names of local care solicitors. It’s all getting rather serious. But I am legally able to challenge an assessment (woop) so all is not yet lost.

I am seeing a psychiatrist tomorrow to handle medication. I will be staying on quetiapine (I started to reduce dosage, with hilariously bad results, so I’m back to normal now) but need a new stabiliser and/or antidepressant because I’m suicidal and self-harming again. I need to emphasise that I do not want an anti-epileptic, because it would contradict orlistat, which would be my next step: weight-loss medication is a serious step, but I can’t risk coming off quetiapine which is making my weight soar.

Then, we discuss Tier 4. Depending on that, I see my GP for support in challenging the assessment.

Progress. But fucking hell, I am so fucking tired of fighting a system that is supposed to help people like me, people who are holding onto their lives by the skin of their teeth, rather than making them into desperate messes who have no autonomy and depend on the people around them utterly to keep them from oblivion.

It’s too much, and I am so lucky to have my partner.

Without her, I would be dead by now, and it is so fucking frightening to know that.

(Yet Another) NHS Battle

(Or: At Home – Day Sixty-Three)

Today has been one hell of a day.

My care co-ordinator called. The psychiatrist won’t review my case regarding Tier 4 care. And won’t see me until September. The complex needs team might get back to me at some point in the next ‘few weeks’. And there will then be a waiting list. So I’m not going to be seeing anybody for any form of therapeutic care for another months. At least.

I hand the phone to my partner, because I am holding back a complete breakdown there and then.

My partner and I are more or less threatened that, if I do not manage my care myself, there would be serious repercussions for my ongoing mental health care.

A lot of things then happen very quickly. I had to call ‘Mind’ for advice. I threatened sitting in the local psych hospital, or indeed my local A&E, until somebody saw me. Things got unpleasant.

HOWEVER: I have now got my partner officially put on my records as my advocate going forward, because it’s causing me extreme emotional distress to try and cope with my own care plan. I sent an absolute HOWLER of an email, which should have scared them shitless. I also have an appointment for next Wednesday, which is just hilarious – if you’re insistent enough, appointments MAGICALLY appear…

I cannot believe how impossible it is. I am constantly, CONSTANTLY battling the NHS, and I don’t have the energy for it. Not when I’m also trying very, very hard to simply survive with extremely serious mental health problems…

Anyway. I also had an incredibly helpful conversation with my partner last night. We’ve discussed all of the current pressing issues, and formed a lot of new ways to try and help get through things as they are. It’s overwhelmingly positive, and I do feel so lucky to have her – even when things are at their worst, I never stop loving her. Sometimes I feel like all of this is too hard to see the other side of, but she never fails to surprise me with her patience, and her faith.

I just wish I wasn’t so fucking tired.

Apathy

(Or: At Home – Day Fifty-Nine)

Today was lovely. Saw my niece and played in a fountain (no kidding) which was really fun, although I’m utterly shattered now and I still feel like my life is happening to somebody else.

Tomorrow is another week. Another set of battles. Trying to see a psychiatrist, getting my benefits sorted (as they’ve been stopped and I can’t understand why, I sent the stuff they needed over a week ago) and getting my written assessment report from the inpatient unit I’ve been rejected from and getting funding and doing my normal life and aerial and oh dear god I’m out of patience and I don’t want to do any of it any more, I’ve lost all possible impetus and drive.

Apathy is remarkably all-encompassing.