Ahoy friends, ahoy and greetings from the temporarily rainy city of Manchester!
Those of you in the UK might not have noticed, because it hasn’t been mentioned too much, but it’s been pretty ruddy hot in recent weeks. I’m developing a potentially unhealthy dependency on my bedside fan and Vulpe has been taking refuge in the more shady spots of the garden on account of her abundance of fluff (which seems to regenerate at a phenomenal rate so much so I have made purchase of some RUBBER MITTS which are also v handy for soft furnishings o lord when did I get so old).
Anyhoo. Life has been happening once again, as it tends to do. I mentioned in my last post that my dear Nana passed away at the beginning of May, and around the same time -and a little since- I was coping with some intense stresses at work, and grappling with the last taught module of my distance-learning master’s degree. I guess you could say that my resilience of late has been preeeetty feeble, and it’s been rather like treading water for a while.
Mr J-M and me spent a very pleasant weekend in Edinburgh in June, as he did another of his completely bonkers bike rides (overnight from Carlisle to Edinburgh in this case) and I had lots of delicious food with some absolutely wonderful people. I want to live in Edinburgh now, does anyone have lots and lots of money for me please?
It was also a big fat pleasure to have attended the #StillNotAskingForIt flash event at Tooth and Talon Tattoo, where I had a delightfully punny tattoo done by the lovely Harriet. The folks there raised more than £3,000 for Rape Crisis England & Wales which is amazing.
Other than these thrilling things I have been primarily slaving over/avoiding my final non-dissertation assignment for my master’s, which was on the subject of compassionate conservation. It’s a subject I’m very interested in, and one that’s dear to me, but with everything happening in recent months and the pure brain fatigue of having finally completed my second full year of study, I really wasn’t in the zone. Nevertheless, she is DONE! I really don’t think that last assignment is anything less than terrible, but it is done. I plan to mostly rest my brain over the next couple of months but also re-draft and submit a couple of my recent papers to journals before September. But plenty of Netflix, first, I think…
In other news: I am borderline uh-mazing
A more recent development in the thrilling tea-cup ride that is my life is a brand new, long overdue, oddly much appreciated mental health diagnosis. I’ve tried numerous times in the last couple of years to get a psych referral from my GP, and every time I’m dissuaded from doing so. I recently finished an 8 week course of therapy, as I’ve mentioned previously, and while it was helpful to talk through my recent bereavements and have a place to share my stresses, ultimately I found it a way to address symptoms rather than anything more fundamental. After I reached a bit of an anxiety crisis point whilst at work a few weeks back, I made an emergency appointment with my employer’s counselling service. My intention was simply to share my significant work stresses and try to relieve it somewhat. However, I turned up in such a ridiculous state that I spent 90 minutes solid talking about e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. with a very wonderful counselor. At another recent session, I mentioned to her that I wanted to seek a psych referral from my GP (again) and that I would take Mr J-M along to help and to act as advocate. She then told me that a consultant psychiatrist was actually on staff at their counselling service and arranged for me to see him only two days later.
Frens! This was such a brilliant opportunity and I am SO lucky and SO grateful to have had this chance. Mental health services are woefully underfunded and under-resourced in Greater Manchester so I would have had to fight even for the chance at a diagnosis. I met with the kind doctor chap and we talked for a long time about everything in the world, more or less. He has made a diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (aka Borderline Personality Disorder) with co-morbid, moderate atypical depression. Here is some more very handy information, though I still have much to learn:
- What is Borderline Personality Disorder? (video)
- Mind – What’s it like to live with BPD?
- Rethink – About BPD
- Time to Change – Personality Disorders
And here are some of the m-a-n-y symptoms I struggle with the most:
Here is some more info from a recent Facebook post…..
I’d say that 70% of the time, on average, I am pretty thumbs-up okay. But maybe 30% of the time, give or take, I can suffer some pretty rubbish symptoms that can make stuff very hard to handle. My dissociation doesn’t mean that I float around the room or anything like that. Oh noes. It basically means I sometimes feel very empty and emotionally ‘flat’, and after ~episodes of horrible/distressing thoughts/feelings, I’ll often forget I even felt that way completely. It also means I don’t have buckets of memories from a lot of my childhood and teen years, which makes working through that stuff in therapy kinda tricky.
BUT WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
It means that I have a DIAGNOSIS and, actually, perhaps oddly, this makes me super duper happy. Yayayay! This means I can start to think about tackling some of the ways that the symptoms impact my life and start to make positive changes. This is way overdue!! It means I can go “oh, guess what Jenny, this isn’t happening because you’re an inherently terrible human person, it’s happening because of an illness and a very crafty one at that, but you can talk back to it and find better ways of managing”. It means I can separate out the ‘normal’ feelings of (for example) grief at a bereavement, and the very unhealthy and damaging thought processes/feelings that can hit me at any time regardless of other life events, good or bad.
The psych confirmed that the meds I’m on right now are sensible for managing the symptoms of low mood and occasional anxiety. But he also said that he thinks I need between 6 months – 2 years of intensive therapy, either Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) or Cognitive Analytical Therapy (CAT). There is a private provider in Manchester that is reportedly excellent, but at an approximate total cost of £2-£3k I’m trying my luck with the NHS first to see if I can go on a waiting list.
I absolutely wanted to be open about this because down with stigma, and it’s good to talk. Now I just need to figure out a way to communicate when I’m under my glumbrella and having a bit of an ~episode because communication is my absolute most absent skill at those times. Like maybe I am kidding myself and it’s painfully obvious for the world to see, I dunno.
The super good news is that there are books I can read, communities I can join, treatment I can seek out, and most of it’s jolly effective. Yayayay! Honestly, I am still me, I’ve always been me in fact though much of the time I’m not quite sure who that is or what the next steps are. But now I have a slightly better idea and I want to be a better and more flipping normal person if I can manage it.
And that about wraps it up for now, folks. I could ramble on forever but I want to get my thoughts in order and figure out my plan of action, and I plan to blog a bit more about my experience with my symptoms and wotnot. On the one hand having this diagnosis feels like I am HOME after all these years, even if home isn’t always a great place to be right now. On the other hand I am also just exhausted after the last few months or so and I’m greatly looking forward to a nice little holiday in Hamburg next week, which Mr J-M is very kindly treating me to as a birthday indulgence. Speaking of indulgence obvs I already have my Google map with food destinations all planned out. Though honestly it is a wee bit horrifying how many pies I’ve been eating the last few months because I feel sluggish and un-bendy and my trousers are tight but gorging relentlessly on all the pies is one of those activities linked to my mental health and hopefully at some point soon those crappy coping mechanisms will start to heal up a bit and I’ll be able to feel a bit more like myself.
My blogging regime really did take a tumble this year, but hopefully things are looking up, and I have bits and bobs to look forward to in the coming months which is super. I hope that you are all well, friends, and are enjoying the summertime!
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