Have been dithering over my first blog post for some time. This is partly because technical hitches setting up the blog and fiddling round with fonts etc has provided hours of procrastination and taken the edge of the 'new project' enthusiasm. Of course, this isn't a 'project' but an outlet for thoughts, frustrations and reflections, but I have to constantly suppress the creative perfectionist tendencies that can take over. Note to self: repeat ten times - “Blog is an outlet, not a masterpiece...”
The second and main reason for the delay in posting anything is that my rant-o-meter is swinging wildly all over the place, as the mental health services differ in their attitude towards me. I set up this blog when it seemed all hope of treatment/therapy was lost, but as soon as I began expelling my wrath and disappointment in the form of a post, they suddenly became very helpful. Rallying the forces after this unforeseen development, I started writing about my general thoughts and issues with psychiatry and mental health service provision, only to find myself becoming increasingly annoyed at and disillusioned with them and their previous attitude towards me. I say 'previous', but this attitude seems to be indelibly, eternally etched into my notes; misunderstanding (wilful?) laid upon misunderstanding. It causes mental health types to ask me some odd questions as they try to reconcile the person on file with the person in front of them, as well as a marked change in tone of voice over the phone whenever they get my notes up in front of them. I sometimes worry that in future I might suffer from a rare disease, and instead of investigating it, I'll just get fobbed off as a mental attention-seeker.
(Incidentally, whenever I imagine my psychiatric notes, I picture a huge bundle of yellowing, torn pages held together with chains, insulting words carved into them with a scalpel, sat forlornly on a trolley between dusty shelves of rustling paper. They probably have dart-holes in too.)
Anyway, I digress; the point is that I am now wondering whether I'm actually better off out of the system. I've been reading “Users and Abusers of Psychiatry” by Lucy Johnstone which is very enlightening, although guaranteed to get the blood pressure up. As well as being very skeptical of the mental health system, I'm also very aware that they may drop me due to a life situation (more in a moment) that would probably be labelled as non-compliance. So I'm in a sort of non-committal, inbetween world whereby I don't want to hope for therapy I will never get, but also don't want to burn my bridges in case they may actually be helpful or I need them in future.
It really seems like it has to be one or the other though – I can't slink off, let down and hopeless; I need to be able to stick two fingers up at them, finding my own way on, knowing I tried the other way and it wasn't the answer. I suppose what I mean is that it need to feel like a positive choice. Obviously if they do help me, there is plenty of room for healthy skepticism, but I would need to embrace therapy to get the most use from it.
I guess I'm secretly hoping I'll just somehow get better during the next year without needing therapy, that somehow my reflections and insights will eventually all join up and complete the parts that make me struggle to function. However, I'm not sure how likely this is, and I'm also going to be putting myself in a situation somewhat removed from everyday life so will likely appear to be fine when that may not be the case. This is because I am going travelling (yey!) at some point over the winter. It seems like a very good idea for my mental health to be off with the backpack again - all that soul-searching under the stars and whatnot. Only now, of course, the mental health services are finally responding to my pleas for help (approx. 20 months after the initial GP appointment) and it will look like I am:
a) Completely irresponsible, immature, and unwilling to commit to a treatment plan, or anything for that matter (they would probably use the phrase 'not engaging with services')
b) Trying to 'run away' from my problems (as if you can run away from problems in your mind!)
c) Obviously not really struggling, an attention-seeking waste of time as they previously thought.
With regards to the last one, I can see it seems odd that I can trot off to foreign lands when basic things here day-to-day seem so hard, and I have spent many hours musing on why this might be. As it is, even planning the trip is making me happier although only marginally improving what I manage to do each day - probably because of the crippling tiredness I feel. Still, when I am away I can still sleep when I want, socialise when I want, etc, etc – but with the added bonus of sunshine, exciting/entertaining experiences, and new and interesting people. I don't know really, but if I could crack the puzzle and apply it to my everyday life, I'd be sorted. I think it'll require further thought and a follow-up post...
Anyway, I am hoping the mental health services will understand my reasons for going away for a bit, and I will be able to get therapy when I return. Even better, that I magically get better (or at least slowly get better via insights as mentioned) while I am away and hereafter lead a worthwhile, productive and fulfilling life.
Or something like that...