TW: mild reference to self-harm.
In light of recent events, both personally and online, I want to reinforce something I blogged about previously. I will thus refer you back to Rock Bottom: My Light Bulb Moment, a post in which I described my realisation that a lot of MH recovery isn’t an exact science and requires a mammoth effort from ourselves.
I saw my CPN yesterday morning, an appointment I had been anticipating for some time. There were so many things I wanted to ask. Actually, to be honest, there were so many things I wanted her to fix. I’ve had issues with medication and self-harm, familial relationships seem to be breaking down, I completely lack the drive to begin work on some overdue OU work and I was hoping she would give me all the answers. Basically, I wanted her to wave a magic wand, perhaps incanting a spell or two at the same time.
But the rational part of me knows that this simply isn’t how it works. If I self-harm, no one will cart me off to hospital to have it seen to – I need to make this decision for myself (or risk being detained under the Mental Health Act). Granted, reverse psychology usually plays a role here. MH professionals are excellent at making us think we have reached a decision of our own accord, when really they have steered our minds in the right direction!
Similarly, with my own medication, I know better than my CPN what works and what doesn’t. So it is my responsibility to communicate this and take the necessary steps to have it prescribed accordingly, making sure I am on the best possible combination of drugs.
Depressed people commonly lack drive and motivation, so my inability to focus on my OU work is simply a symptom of my illness. With any luck, sorting out my meds will help with this. In the mean time, I just need to keep doing the smaller, more manageable things – housework, walking along the beach, crosswords and number puzzles – in the hope that this will eventually gain momentum and I feel more able to tackle the bigger things.
For some time now, my family and I have been undergoing Family Behavioural Therapy (FBT) with the CMHT. This not only helps improve their understanding of my illness and the unhelpful coping strategies I use, but also aims to improve the way we, as a household, communicate in general. So it is not my sole responsibility to rectify any breakdown in communication. It is something for us to address and work on together.
MH services are somewhat lacking in terms of funding and resources and, at times, they dispense such ineffectual advice that one can only laugh (so far, my personal favourite has been ‘watch a musical’…frankly, at the height of my distress, the last thing I want to watch is Julie Andrews running through the hills, bringing them to life with ‘The Sound of Music’) but our safety and wellbeing is not always their responsibility – especially in the less acute, community setting. For one, how can they help us if they don’t know we’re suffering? We have to call when we feel we are nearing crisis point and need extra support. We also need to be motivated to fully engage with these services and take their advice on board, meet them in the middle. Yes, they have a role to play, but they can only do so much. They can’t climb into our bodies and take control for us – wouldn’t that be nice, though? If we could just surrender, say f**k it and let someone else take the reins for a while?…if only!
My sister has Crohn’s Disease, which is a vile illness that can affect virtually every part of your body in some way. But she has said on more than one occasion that she would rather have Crohn’s than what I have. So would I.