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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Ready as I'll ever be.

Its been a rather hectic and interesting couple of weeks so I'm going to break it up a litiile bit.

Mental Stuff

Firstly I had an appointment at the psychiatric hospital which went quite well I feel. My psychiatrist is pleased with the progress that I have made over the three months since he increased the dose of my medication and feels that I am ready to make my own way in the world. I have been discharged into the care of my GP with the addendum that I be instatly refered back to the hospital should I have any problems. I am happy to have been discharged from the hospital, as now that my medication is stable there is little point in me going back to the hospital on a regualr basis to essentially tell him the same thing repeatedly, I feel that this would be a dire waste of the pitifully low funding available to the mental health team. I am slightly worried about it though as it feels as though I have lost a safety net, my appoinments at the hospital were serving as something of a barometer as to how well I was doing and now that has been taken away from me, I can still make an appointment with my GP and I have access the the Crisis Response Team if needs be (although from personal experience thats more of a threat than an offer of help) but it just feels slightly weird to have lost that as it has been a part of my life for over a year now. I still have a strong support group of Sheldon, my friends and to a lesser extent my family (certain members of said family being more of a hinderance than a help) and I am feeling more confident in my own coping abilities so I am  sure that this discharge can only be a positive step, although its going to take some time to get my head around the fact. When I saw the psychiatrist he said that I would have to stay on the medication at my current dose for at least two years before I would be able to consider lowering the dose let alone coming of the meds completely. This is a long time but I knew when I started on this regime of medication that I would be making a long term decision because of the half-life of Venlafaxine and the severity of the discontinuation syndrome  that the ceasation of the drug regeime can induce, the duration that the psychiatrist gave us was more of a shock to Sheldon than it was to me. I really do not like taking the psych meds, but over the course of the last 18 months it has become a part of my day to day routine and it will continue to be thus until such time as the medical professionals whose care I am under decide that I am ready to come off them.

A Night with Tim Minchin

The day after my hospital appointment Sheldon and I went back to my home town to see Tim Minchin (or The Wondeful Minchin of Oz as Sheldon and I refered to him as for most of that week) he is currently tourin the country supported by The Heritage Orchestra and this tour makes for a fantastic night of musical entertainment. Tim Minchin is a brilliant musician and a thoughtful and observant comic, during the evening we were treated to an array of different styles and themes conveyed through song. I myself went on an emotional rollercoaster while sat in the audience at that show, I laughed, I cried, and I was angered (not by the material itself but by the subject matter and the institutions at which it was aimed). I have been a fan of Tim Minchin since the first time I saw him on television and I am so glad to have been able to see him live. I have long been an admirer of comedy and I follow a number of comedians such as Marcus Brigstocke and Robin Ince who seem to share some of my own ideas in relation to various issues, but I had never come across someone who conveyed my own exact thoughts and feelings through their work until I came across Tim Minchin. For those of you who are unaware of Tim Minchin's work I will share a few of his pieces which I feel best sum up the laughter, anger and tears that I experience from this man's performance.

 Laughter



This song always makes me laugh, the lyrics are awesome for a start. I love the juxtaposition, it is a love song but its completely turned on its head and I love that and secondly I'm constantly amused by his funny little wigle dance

Anger
 


When I talk about the performance inspiring anger this is what I mean. I was born and raised in the Catholic church and am now a self confirmed Deist. This song sums up my anger with the concept of organised religion, or man made rules being proclaimed as the word of God, and of one supposedly ─▒nfalible man being held sacred and beyond reproach while he covers up deplorable acts.

Tears



This song is beautiful, it has some very subtle humor so that its not depressing but it conveys the imperfect nature of life. I first heard this song towards the start of my current depressive episode about two years ago and it choked me up but also made me feel better odly, it never fails to bring a tear to my eye and has got me through a lot of hard times over the past couple of years.

Life in General

Things are going fairly well at the moment, I'm not to stressed right now which is a positive as I have a great deal of travelling to do and people to see over the next few weeks, between now and the start of January, I'm hoping that I can keep up some of the positivity and the energy that I seem to have found recently so that I can at least coast through until I'm back at home and can crash for a while but that remains to be seen.

The work christmas party was a good night, most of the people that I work with showed up which was really good as usually there are only 5 or 6 of us when we go out for a night. I think I may have had a wee bit to much to drink, but Sheldon and I both got home in one piece so no harm done.  All of our christmas shopping has been done and all the presents for our family and friends have been wrapped ready to be taken to various locations around the country and now I am planning on having a couple of days of well deserved chill out time before we have to head off down to see my relatives this weekend. I'm a little bit worried about Sheldon as he's been a bit down of late and his sleep pattern is rotating again although he seems to be cheering up as the days go by so hopefully with some rest he'll be ok by the weekend, and then we have a couple of days to ourself after seeing my family before we have to head away again to spend christmas with his family. I'm looking forward to it and I'm sure it'll be a great time, as it will be the first christmas that the two of us have spent together so its kind of a special occassion for us. I really hope that everything goes well and that his family like me and we all get on ok. Fingers Crossed.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Feeling Trapped

I'm not feeling great right now, we've had a fair bit of snow and its predicted to continue through to the weekend. I loved snow when I was younger, my brothers and I used to run around and build snowmen and we all had a great time, now however, I find myself driven to hate it. The view from the window my flat is very pretty with a lovely smooth white blanket over the road, but thats the problem really. Sheldon and I live at the end of a very quiet cul-de-sac in a small town and the snow doesn't really get sh─▒ifted from the road, I'm dyspraxic and highly prone to slipping and falling, last year when we had similar weather I ventured out in it and ended up doing some substantial damage to my knee by falling on ice. I went to the supermarket with Sheldon on monday afternoon, when the snow had just started, and haven't left the house since. My anxiety management class on tuesday was cancelled due to the poor weather and I didn't go into town to the charity shop where I normally volunteer on tuesday as I didn't want to risk injury. The flat that Sheldon and I live in in a small one bedroom flat and as I have not been leaving the house in order to avoid any possible tragedy I have been spending my days going from bedroom to living room/kitchen and back again. I'm starting to get a sense of chlaustrophobia, or perhaps thats not the best way of putting it, cabin fever is probably a better term, either way I feel trapped.

Sheldon and I put up our Christmas tree today, as I have on the 1st December for as long as I can remeber.

 We also decorated the rest of the flat, it looks very pretty and provided a distraction for a while, I put on a christmas themed playlist on Spotify and we sorted through our decorations and decorated the flat, there are Christmas cards hanging up on the wall and the presents will soon be under the tree, but I'm not really feeling the Christmas spirit. I'm not sure if this is because I'm currently feeling trapped because of the snow or because Christmas isn't generally a positive event in my home. I am actually looking forward to Christmas this year as we will be spending it with Sheldon's family down south which means I will not have all of the usuall stress associated with Christmas at my family and having to put up with my mother being so drunk she can barely stand by lunchtime and starting an arguement with anyone who so much as utters a word in her dirrection, but I'm just not feeling Christmassy. Maybe its because today was world aids day which isn't exactly a terribly festive day, maybe its because I'm driving myself mad staring at the same four walls day after day, or maybe its because I have so much to deal with before I can even think about Christmas in any concrete way.

Tomorrow I have decided that I will attempt to create a makeshift menorah for Hannukah which beggins tomorrow, as hopefully this will distract my mind from these thoughts of being trapped and also it will make Sheldon happy as he is currently converting to Reform Judaism. Hopefully I will be able to venture out to do my volunteer work on friday and this will get me out of this funk. Sheldon and I have a busy week ahead of us next week with a few fantastic things to look forward to. Firstly on wednesday Sheldon and I will be seeing the amazing Tim Minchin live, as Sheldon bought us tickets as a flat warming present when we moved in here. Following that on thursday we will be seeing my grandmother, I adore my grandmother she is an wonderful, fantastic woman, and I don't see her nearly enough due to my problems with my mother, so it will be really good to see her next week. Finally on saturday Sheldon and I will be heading out on the town with a bunch of work mates for my works Christmas party, hopefully that will get me into more of a Christmassy mood, as I need my mood to improve in order to cope with all the travelling up and down the country Sheldon and I will be doing in the lead up to Christmas and then to get back home after the Christmas period.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Progress?

My mood has been better recently and I have actually managed to get myself focused enough to do things on a few occassions. I'm still distracted and I can't conentrate for any lenght of time which is highly frustrating. I've been trying to encourage myself by looking back at how I was before I started my current medication regime and I can see that I have made a lot of progress and am starting to regain the independence that  I once had. I have been somewhat motivated by my latest Goldberg Score which was 60, this is well into the "severe depression" category and I'm sure to many this score would be seen as a cause for concern but in my case its a significant improvement as before I started on my current medication regime my score was 83. I can still see that I know that I still have a long way to go but I am encouraged by the progress I have made in the last year or so.

I've now been attending an anxiety management course run by my local mental health team for two weeks. I really didn't want to go as I thought that it would just be the same nonsense and patronising waffle that I have heard before, especially when I met with the two people leading the course prior to its commencement at they mentioned that the course would be using a CBT framework, but I am actually finding it beneficial not because of what the course is teaching but for other reasons. Firstly, its a way of reintroducing myself to a social situations, as there are only 6 people in the group and it is in a quiet and secure location, I'm getting used to being a part of a group of people again and it feels liberating. Secondly, I have found that during the group sessions I have been holding discussions with the leaders and other group members on an intellectual  level, and have also found myself teaching the leaders things that relate to the content of the course that they did not know. These two factors have shown me that I haven't really changed in the way that I thought I had, I can see that I'm still the person I was before the start of this episode, I just need to work on building my confidence back up and coming back out of my shell.

I have been feeling in a bit of a funk recently and I have had little energy or motivation to do even the simplest of household tasks, but I am feeling a bit better about that now and can actually consider actually cooking and tackling my building mountain of laundry next week. I'm hoping that I can maintain this new found motivation and continue to focus on the positive aspects and the improvements to my attitiude and mood however, Christmas is just around the corner and that means a lot of travelling up and down the country a lot of people and an emotional rollercoaster over then next month or so. Christmas is a bridge I am going to cross when I get to it and I am going to take each trip and each encounter as it comes and try not to get overwhelmed. Hopefully, I'll be able to emmotianally support myself and Sheldon throughout the holiday period and we'll come out the other side relatively intact but I will have to wait to see if that happens,I'm just gonna relax and take things easy for the next few weeks to try and perpare physically and mentally for the challenge of Christmas.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Drained

Right now I am absolutely exhausted. I had a really restless night, largely because I have been worrying a lot about my partner Sheldon*. Sheldon is has rapid cycling bipolar disorder and is FTM. We are currently in the process of getting him refered to a specialist gender identity clinic in order to get a surgical referal so that he can have chest surgery as well as a hysterectomy and oophorectomy. This in itself is a very positive step in affirming Sheldon's identity and presention in the gender he defines as but it brings with it a number of other issues which cause a great deal of anxiety. Firstly Sheldon has been undergoing testosterone hormone therapy for over two years, this was started by a different gender identity clinic, where Sheldon was treated very badly and to which we will most deffinitely not be returning.While this has been highly beneficial to Sheldon it is a source of worry as eah gender clinic operates by their own rules and there is a posibility that the new clinic will terminate Sheldon's hormone therapy until her fulfills their own real life time requirements*. This is unlikely as he has been living as a male full time for almost 5 years now and has been on hormones for over 2 years, but it still a possibility and if it were to happen it would be a devastating blow as it would knock Sheldon back to the same position he was in at the age of 17 and 5 years progress will essentially be for nothing, that is a bridge that we will have to cross if and when we get to it.

Oddly having his real life time reset and his hormone therapy suspended is fairly low on my list of concerns relating to this new referal. If Sheldon is refered for the surgery, it will be seen as Elective Surgery and therefore will carry some provisos these being that Sheldon will have to stop smoking prior to his surgery and as he is currently classed as overweight in terms of his BMI he will most likely be required to loose some weight. The smoking cessation is not so much of a problem, he has stopped smoking before and has been saying that he intends to quit for a while so hopefully the surgical referal will give him the incentive he needs to make hisintention become a reality. It's the weight loss issue that is a real problem and which is currently causing a great deal of anticipatory stress for want of a better phrase. Sheldon has a history of weight problems and has previously suffered from EDNOS, although I'm not sure if this was officially diagnosed. What I do know for sure is that in the past he has induced vomiting and abused laxatives in attempts to control his weight. I will try to help him loose weight healthily by cooking balanced meals and not buying junk food when I do our weekly food shop. I am very worried that he will become obsessive about the weight loss, especially if he has a specific goal set by the clinic, I can't wath him 24/7 and with the increasing availability of laxatives and fat binders in pharmacists and even supermarkets now I know that it will be ver easy for him to revert to his previous, highly damaging, methods of weight management.

These concerns however are all concerns for things which may happen in the future, and we're not going to make any progress in terms of referal to a gender identity clinic until the new year now as christmas is fast approaching. My imminent concern is that these possibilities are dwelling on Sheldon's mind as they are on mie and I think that he may be on the brink of a depressive episode. This time of year is stressful enough at the best of times as it means having to spend time with my family which is something that I try to avoid at all costs. This year we will be spending christmas with Sheldon's family so that means that some of the stress on my part has  been eliminated as I don't have to spend a week trapped  in my hometown exchanging pleasantries with people that I can't stand. Sheldon's mother doesn't like christmas for the same reasons as I don't but she tends to stress out and this stresses Shedon out, if he does lapse into a depressive or mixed episode, as I suspect he will some time in the iminent future, I really don't know if I will have the energy to keep myself sane.

For those of you who like me are dreading the christmas period I leave you with this




*Not his real name but in reference to Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang theory and in particular this scene where Sheldon says "Its taking forever to load the new operating system on my computer, I disinfected the kitchen and the bathroom and now I thought I'd learn Finnish" which is something I can see my partner saying. 

*This basically means that he would have to spend a certain length or time (usually around 1-2 years) living full time as a man in society before they will approve hormone treatment.




Thursday, 18 November 2010

Introduction

A second attempt at blogging for me and this time I am actually going to stick at it. Looking at life from different perspectives, depending on my mood, and cataloguing my successes and failures along the way.

"Don't think...it don't 'elp to think" 
This has become something of a mantra for me during my latest "episode" (I hate that expression but a better way of phrasing it eludes me just now) as when I'm left alone with my own thoughts I tend to dwell on the negative and I am unable to concentrate or sleep as these thoughts constantly plague my mind. I've tried not thinking about the future, attempting to live life one day at a time, but I can not cope without some sort of plan or schedule so that I know what needs to be done, I get distracted and frazzeled and tend to just stop living completely, which makes motivating myself to carry on difficult.

It's a catch 22 situation. If I let myself think and consider the future then my thoughts become all consuming, I think about how I'm not goo enough, how little I have done with my life and all the things that I hope to achieve, I'm dominated but what ifs, wondering if I could be in a better position if I'd done things differently. On the other hand if I stop myself thinking about those things and try to livein the moment as it has been suggested to me on numerous ocasions I become frustrated and confused by a lack of structure and loose any focus of motivation that I had to begin with. Either way this position is not helping me get to where I want to be and so I've decided to give blogging another go as a way of getting some of thoughts and preocupations out of my mind, an outlet for my metal wanderings so to speak, I find it difficult to talk to people, even my partner, about these things that are going through my head but I can't keep them to myself anymore as the negativity and the self doubt are holding me back.  I feel that if I can get some of these things out in the open rather than keeping them bottled up I will be able to regain some control over my life and move on.