The Marathon Break

Teaching my sister’s oldest how to fold traditional paper cranes

So, I’m in the middle of the annual summer therapy break.. Well, I guess – technically – I am close to the end of it, but I am in the middle of struggling to cope with the break. You know, it’s the Big One, the one that is dreaded for weeks and weeks in advance, the one that also lasts for about a decade. [Again, technically, it’s really about a month – but who’s counting?]

It’s been a rough one. I’ve been meaning to, and probably needing to, write about it sooner – but..well.. too painful, too close, too hard to know what I’m actually feeling. Too confusing to be able to write anything even semi-sensible on my blog.

I knew that it would be a rough one. Not just because it is that marathon break, but because I knew that I had plans during that break that would almost certainly be challenging to deal with. The main one was that I had, for some inexplicable reason, decided that it would be a good idea to see one of my parents during the break. For the first time in two years. Very clever thinking! I’m not going into detail about how that went, because to be perfectly honest, I really don’t think I could manage the feelings doing so would bring out in a safe way. So, for now, I’ve decided to put that to the side. It is something that I will need to very slowly and steadily explore together with P., when she returns. There’s weeks’, maybe even months’, worth of emotional material to work with there. I think. – Like I said, I’m keeping the lid firmly shut on that one for now – not just in terms of this blog, but in terms of everything.

Prior to the beginning of this break we had a Professionals Meeting to make sure that there was a Firm Plan in place. For those of you who don’t know, a Professionals Meeting is exactly what the name implies, a meeting where the Professionals involved in my care [care coordinator, social worker, psychotherapist – and generally a psychiatrist] meet to decide what is best for me. Being that I am Un-Professional it has over the years been rather a struggle to be allowed to be present and part of these meetings – primarily because there has been some serious resistance to the idea coming from the only statutory service I’m accessing. [Hands up everyone who’s surprise by this.] This time, however – and largely owing to my having been appointed a new care coordinator – there was no such struggle, and I was even able to say that I didn’t want the psychiatrist present. [Not because I have an aversion to psychiatrists per se.. errr.. well, maybe I do have a little aversion.. but, primarily, because this particular one happens to be male, and I find it extremely difficult to openly express my feelings and fears when there is a man present, especially one that I don’t really know – since I’ve only ever really met him at previous Professionals Meetings].

Anyway, this particular pre-major break meeting, went really well, I felt. I was able to say exactly what my concerns were and come with suggestions as how to tackle them, as were everyone else. It felt like a very open forum, where everyone talked and listened on equal terms. So, that was really positive. We basically agreed that there were some very specific risk factors to be dealt with – that not only P. but also O. [the new-ish care coordinator] would be away when I returned from having seen my parent, that I may receive [potentially negative] news about the ESA re-application I sent in earlier this summer, that it is my pattern to dip quite badly when I get back to the UK after having spent time with my sisters and their families [regardless of how nice the time with them has been], and that Drayton Park have made an amendment as to how I can access their services, following the near fatal self-poisoning during my last stay. So – yes, a lot to be dealt with.

The plan that was formulated was that I would be able to email P. during the break – particularly during the week I was spending with my parent – and that on my return I had set appointments to see K. [the social worker from my shul] already in place. That way, should it be needed, she could start a referral to the crisis resolution team – as I may not feel able to do so myself. Also, this would mean that there would be a statutory service involved, should a further referral to Drayton Park become necessary. [This was basically what the aforementioned amendment was; that I can no longer self-refer to Drayton Park, and that any referral needs to come from a statutory service].

As it turned out the extra support from the crisis resolution team was indeed needed, so I am very glad that we had already talked about this prior to the beginning of the break. It made it so much easier for me to admit how much I was struggling when I saw K. the day after my return. [O. had even contacted the crisis resolution team in advance to let them know that it was likely that they would be receiving a referral from me]. Also, K. was able to make the actual call – something which I always dread, not only because such things make me very anxious, but also because of my hearing, and that, too, was really helpful.

I’ve found the crisis team really useful this time around. We made a very solid plan whereby I would be seeing them every other day, and have contact in between, as needed. We also made it clear that there is no pre-set date for me to be discharged, as the impending discharge was identified as one of the trigger points for what happened at Drayton Park last time [it wasn’t the only trigger point by any means, but it was one of them]. It would have been easy to say that I would be discharged on the day P. and O. are both back, but actually, as much as I look forward to their respective returns – there is also a lot of anxiety tied in with starting over again, and so it feels good to know that if I feel I need a few extra appointments with the CRT even after they are back, that’s available to me.

So.. How am I actually doing? Well, I suppose the fact that I’m with the crisis resolution team in itself indicates that, yes, things are really hard. I’m struggling. Also, in spite of the extra support both from them and from K., I have definitely been steadily slipping. I have had unusually strong urges to self-harm. But, importantly, so far I have been able to resist. However, in recognition of this decline, some additional appointments with the crisis resolution team have been scheduled, plus I am seeing K. later today – which is good, because as much as I like the CRT, I haven’t got the same close personal connection with everyone on the team, as I do with K. and P. Also, seeing a different person for most of the appointments [even though I do know the individual people], makes it seem a bit choppy, if that makes sense. It’s not the same as seeing P. regularly three times a week. That said, this flexibility on the part of the crisis resolution team, offering additional extras as needed, has felt really good, really supportive – and has definitely been a big factor in my not having needed a referral to Drayton Park, and I am hopeful that I’ll be able to stay out of residential care until the end of this long long break, in spite of things being really quite challenging at the moment.

Anyway, consider yourselves “caught up” with the riveting goings on in my life.
With some luck, there might even be another update before Chrismukkah!

Be kind to your Selves.


Slow Progress and Power Ups

“Sunrise” – a drawing I made to illustrate how I felt one particular morning

It’s been a few weeks now, and I thought it was probably time to post something on here to avoid dust settling on my domain, if nothing else.

Things have been reasonably OK-ish lately. Physically I am doing a lot better, which is a real relief. Had another few rounds of tests over the last couple of weeks and in the end the good doc declared that I’d reached “not perfect, but certainly acceptable levels”, adding that I may just have to accept that it takes time for a body to recover, and that until then I may be more tired than usual. In essence, it’s one of those scenarios where “slow progress” will have to do. 

Now, I’m not the most active person at the best of times, in part owing to general depression – meaning that I can’t seem to find the motivation to drag myself out of bed unless I have an appointment that I have to get to, and in part owing to the fact that I suffer from a huge amount of flashbacks, more often than not making it far too dangerous for me to venture outside. [It has been less than a year since that particular point was quite literally rammed home; I was hit by a car, because I had a flashback and didn’t notice that I was walking into oncoming traffic]. So, being fairly used to a state of houseboundness, it really shouldn’t have made much of a difference being too physically weak to go out. But, somehow, it did. It’s one of those “I don’t want to run a marathon, I have no intention of ever doing it, but I’d like to think that I could” kind of things, I suppose. No, I wasn’t likely to go for daily walks – owing to the above stated reasons – but the fact that I physically couldn’t still somehow messed with my mind, made me feel even more a prisoner of my circumstances than usual. So, yes, I am very thankful to be officially NHS-doc-certified on the mend.

I have noticed a definite change in myself since I came out of hospital, in that I am very aware of all the things I would have missed out on, had I not survived my most recent self-poisoning. Every time I bump into a friend or get a text consisting of nothing but emoticons from one of my sisters’ too-young-to-write-actual-words children, I find myself mentally pausing to marvel at the fact that I got to have that precious moment, that I didn’t miss out on it. Because I so easily could have.

I have a friend who killed himself. It has been many years now, and while it isn’t acutely painful in the way it once was to think of him, I do often still think to myself ‘I can’t believe W. missed out this’ when something happens which I know he would have appreciated and enjoyed. And, I guess what I am experiencing at the moment is something similar to that, but in reverse.

I have been in this situation more than once [having survived a serious suicide attempt], but as I wrote in a previous post, this time I felt immediately grateful to have made it through. And as much as I am still struggling with all of the things I was struggling with before [yup, every single one of them], being able to take notice of the little things does help. It’s like one of those video games where you pick up a gem and it gives you a Power Up. Yes, it is temporary, and I may well get frustrated and bored with the game again – but while my little avatar is in Power Up mode (think Mario Kart blinking star mode), I feel GREAT.

And it’s been a looooong old time since I’ve felt that way, so, “slow progress with the occasional Power Up” – heck, yes, I’ll take it!


Do be kind to your Selfs,


“Moonlight” – making a small adjustment to express how I was feeling at the end of the same day