Thursday, 29 September 2016

First meds reduction!

As I touched upon on my last post, I made the decision a month or so back that I wanted to come off my anti-psychotic... and I finally got the go ahead last week! I'm on quite a high dose of Olanzapine and I've been on anti-psychotics all of my adult life, so it's going to be a sloooooow process. When my psychiatrist told me how slow- I'm going to be tapered off over the next 6+ months- I was a bit disappointed. I want off it, like, last year. But, really, I can cope. At least it's all in motion.

My reasons for coming off are varied. A big reason is the side effects. I've gained a lot of weight from Olanzapine and I honestly don't think, on balance, it's going to be better for my mental health for me to stay on and to gain much more weight than it would be for me to come off it. I'm not even coming at this from an former anorexic point of view. I just feel it's not right for me, right now. That's not even the worst side effect, either. The worst is the fatigue. On the dosage I was on, I was sleeping 13/14 hours a night and still felt like my blood had been replaced with molten steel through the day. Bit bloody inconvenient.

I also just want to know if I can now cope without meds, although for now, I'm not too bothered about coming off any of my others because I don't get side effects from any of those. In the future, though, I def want to try coming off things. It's like, in the time since I was first prescribed anti-psychotics, I've had so much treatment and learnt so much about myself, and I'd like to see if I can put everything into action.

So I started coming off last week and I've been so ill from withdrawals. I feel like I've got the flu and had my first panic attack in a while last night, which is pretty sucky. I didn't really imagine coming off would make me feel this ill. I thought it would be exciting because I have literally never had my meds reduced unless I'm going onto something else, so it's a really big milestone. But honestly, I feel like I've been beaten up, everything hurts so much. So forgive me for how boring this post probably is, but I'm dyyyyyyying.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Psychiatrists

You know how you have those little prejudices buried down deep? I don't mean major ones like racism or sexism, but I mean those little ones that are usually about the choices people make. Like disliking strangers because you see them reading the Daily Mail and so on. Well, I have a bit of an issue with psychiatrists.

I know, generally, that they're all different people and, like any group, there are good and bad ones and yadda yadda yadda. Before appointments- which, yay recovery, aren't too often these days- I give myself a little talking to about being fair to the doctor and go through what's likely to come up and how I feel about it. I think that's probably a hang up from being in hospital so long, and probably not necessary. But, my point is, I really do start with good intentions. Promise.

Anyway though, I'm pretty sure that if I ever came across a doctor who wasn't mine, I'd be as likely to get on with them as I am with anybody. I have even made conversation with a woman who thinks mental healthcare is full of 'druggies' (which she says with that tone, you know the one). I'd probably extend to them the same sort of courtesy as I would a Daily Mail reader- I'd give it a shot. Actually, in my last job I did a lot of meetings with psychiatrists and never had an issue. Its just, I think, when it's my notes they're holding and my life they're judging.

I think there are two reasons for this. One is from being in hospital. For that 2.5yr admission, I had two psychs. The first didn't like me because I wouldn't beg for shit. He wouldn't let me go see Gatsby when it first came out at the cinema, because I told him not to spit his dummy out over something. He told me that the staff didn't like me and all this power trip crap. Eventually, I changed psych and my new one was fair. Even though I didn't often get what I want, he was decent about it. I still get anxious about appointments because of the first guy, even though the second one was fine.

The other reason I struggle with psychiatrists is that most of mine have men. I know this sounds awful, but powerful men terrify me. I've been burnt far too seriously to entertain a fire. And psychiatrists, particularly as an inpatient but also in the community, have a lot of power.

I had an appointment today and it went as well as they ever do. And by that, I mean the doctor agreed to me starting to come off my antipsychotic (but it's going to be extremely slow because of how risky it is. I won't be off it totally for at least 6 months) which was good and exciting and I'll post about that itself soon. But then we had an argument about my diagnosis (that's another thing that will get its own post!) and he stormed off without doing me a prescription and then refused when I chased him. Another psych spitting his dummy out. Petty.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Proving you're a Real Anorexic.

Few things make me sadder than people posting pictures showing their bones or a lot of photos with NG tubes. Not just because it can be triggering, but because I've been there. It sucks. And it sucks even more when you know people are doing it to try reassure themselves that they're ill enough. When they're trying to prove that they're a Real Anorexic.

The first time I ever had a feeding tube fitted, I was sort of obsessed with it. Straight after having it inserted, I went to look in the mirror to see if I could see it down the back of my mouth (I couldn't). Honestly, I was obsessed with the idea of them far before I first had one fitted. When it came to it, though, I panicked and begged them not to fit it, and I tried at any chance I could to pull it out- although you could lazily stick an arm across me and I was so physically weak that I'd be unable to move- but I admired its symbolism. Or rather, the symbolism I'd attached to it. When they held me down to insert that tube up my nose, I'd elevated myself to the rank of Real Anorexic. I had an identity. I had a badge of honour. I had proof of my suffering. I had recognition of my hell. I had a place.

Way before I was ever diagnosed, I was fully aware of my eating disorder. At the same time as knowing, myself, that I was ill (and of pretty much everyone else knowing it too), I always felt inferior to Real Anorexics who had those two words- anorexia nervosa- on their medical notes. They'd been force fed. They'd had hospital admissions, They were visible. So I'd attached a certain symbolism to the diagnosis too, although that faded when once I'd got it, because there was nothing to see with it. The goalposts to being a Real Anorexic changed. You can't really take photos of your medical notes.

But you can take photos of yourself with a feeding tube. Or in a wheelchair, because you're too weak to move and can't afford the calorie expenditure. Or with a feeding tube, in a wheelchair. And you just know that I did that.

A long time has passed since that, and a lot more feeding tubes have been inserted and angrily pulled out, in the meantime. But the obsession ended after that first tube, when I realised that the reality of being force fed was far worse than I could have imagined. That's if I'd ever thought of what it meant, apart from the status of Real Anorexic. It's just not nice physically, and don't even get me started on what it does to you mentally. It's a constant violation.

So I cringe whenever I see somebody taking pictures with NG tubes, or prominently displaying their jutting bones on photos. Listen to me: you have nothing to prove. And if you've never had an NG and you don't think your bones jut out as much as they ought to: you have nothing to prove. If you don't have a diagnosis and don't feel Real enough: you have nothing to prove. If you've just got the diagnosis and don't feel like you're ill enough: you have nothing to prove.

It's a clever illness, because it feeds on you never feeling enough. Don't help it along.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Small comments.

I was talking to Penny the other day about how a little comment you make to a child can really stick with them. I don't mean the big, messy, obviously life changing- 'your daddy and I don't love each other any more'- stuff either. That I'll get to, but I mean the little things now.

Like, I can remember towards the start of year 1, when I'd just turned 6, telling my dad's girlfriend at the time about how much I loved my new school shoes, but how a girl in my class had really ugly shoes. Long story short, I ended up getting a pretty harsh lecture about personal tastes. Did it change my habit of thoughtlessly bitchy comments? Unfortunately not, I was a judgemental bitch for a few more years. Did the feeling of an unexpected rap to the proverbial wrist stay with me? Absolutely.

And if that little lecture, over all of the lectures I have so far received in my life (and I assure you there have been a lot) stayed with me, what have I said to the kids in my life, without realising that a quick, sharp word, can stay with a kid? And if the wounded feeling of a small, compared to most tellings off I've had, telling off over my thoughtlessness stayed with me, what about the big stuff?

I'm going to try not to politicise this too much right now, although there are political implications. The things we tell kids without really thinking about it is really fucked up. We tell young girls to carry rape alarms and to watch their drinks on nights out. Don't get me wrong, I see the necessity of both of these things, but that doesn't mean they're not really odd things to do. As if walking alone or alcohol are to blame for rape, as against the fault being with the rapist. We give girls fashion dolls and baby dolls, and we give boys action figures, without reminding our girls that they can do great things, or our boys that it's ok to preen or nurture. But I digress.

I think often it's the way you say things rather than what you say. Like, going back to the shoe story, I think that stayed with me so much because I was embarrassed that I'd been caught out being mean. I've alwaysalwaysalways been as scared about being a horrible person as I ever was about the size of my thighs. As I've got older and more mentally healthy, I come to realise that I'm not generally a bad person, but I can be thoughtless and I lack the filter most people seem to have.

And when it comes to the unsaid things, the things we sort of imply, are the things that probably are the hardest for kids to shake as they grow up, because they tend to be more insidious. It's the idea that you must always be good, must always be smart, must always be pretty, must always be happy. When sometimes we all do what we shouldn't, say nonsensical things, go days without grooming, have Sad Girl moments. As adults, we understand the difference between aspirations and reality, in a way I don't think children necessarily do.

I'm not sure what the answer to all of this is, I'm purely musing. I think it's maybe all about understanding that children are going through this world without direction. They are never all good or all bad, just a mix of nature and nurture. I suppose that although I come from a family with a lot of children, I don't have kids yet myself and it's infinitely easier when a child's emotional health and physical safety aren't your full time job.

I have so much respect for anyone bringing up kids, and respect the job they have in ensuring their kids are the best that they can be. But I do think sometimes we all- parents or not- need to remember that children have their nerves on display. It's cool to want the best for the kids in your life, but we all just probably need to give a bit more leeway.