On Trauma

The following does not contain any accounts of emotional, mental or physical abuse.

 

I’ve never experienced any kind of trauma.

Or at least I thought I hadn’t. My first session with the hearing voices psychologist has changed my perspective somewhat. We discussed what might have caused the voices, and the long and short of it is, that while I have never been subject to any mental or physical abuse, the mood swings in themselves were traumatic.

I’m in two minds about this. On the one had I feel like it belittles the experiences of those who have experienced true trauma. What are a few (albeit extreme) mood swings compared to the kinds of trauma others have experienced? On the other hand, this is the only explanation I’ve ever had for the voices and delusions that isn’t “oh it’s just psychosis.” Because surely psychosis must have triggers outside of chemical and structural brain changes. It’s refreshing to have someone look at my childhood and teens rather than just my history of mental illness.

No one has asked me about my childhood very much, although this could be partially my fault as I’ve always described it as “idyllic”. Because it was! There was no abuse, there wasn’t even neglect. Both my parents gave us, somehow, the amount of attention we needed and no more – we weren’t helicopter parented. They both worked full time but when they were home we played games with them, or were allowed to play on our own, depending on how we felt. By “we” I mean me and my sister. I remember bad things happening, like getting in trouble at school, or arguing with friends. It was by no means absolutely perfect, but it was normal, and that, I think, is the important part.

Those early mood swings were traumatic in their own way. I didn’t understand what was happening, I didn’t realise what was happening until it was too late and I was already batshit. I was around 15 when they started. I remember not wanting to be around people, having a low mood, being anxious about people reading my thoughts – I remember yelling at my best friend for commiting this latter offence. I was depressed basically, but completely unaware of the name for what was happening to me, and that this was something that happened to a lot of people. I just thought I was breaking. Then I remember those highs, short to begin with, perhaps only a few days, before they gradually extended to what they are now – months without medical intervention. I remember trying to mumify my tongue (without embalming fluid), and writing musicals about geckos in science lessons. Maybe not too extreme, but given my personality at the time was very introverted and quiet, this was very unlike me. My friends used to say I would get high on air. So I didn’t understand what was happening. There was no one to talk to because no one else seemed to be going through quite the same thing as me. I mean, sure we were all teenagers, but the one or two times I did talk to a friend, they didn’t understand. Of course I’d never wish this on any of them, so in a way I’m glad they didn’t understand. After the mood swing left I had to mop up the pieces.

I think this is something I’d like to look at more with the psychologist – why do I hear voices that are not, say, an abuser? That would be more understandable. These are voices who don’t seem to exist in the world other people experience, these are voices who have no basis in my past. They seem so external – it’s hard to understand that something in my brain created them. I could posit ideas, perhaps one is me giving me my own advice but has got warped with the chemical imbalance, perhaps the second is the part of me with low confidence that constantly argues, perhaps the last is the part of me that tries to push me harder. I feel like they’re there to help me, and sometimes they do. But when they’re not there, when I’m well, I realise they weren’t helping. Beachy Head wasn’t a good idea in the summer, it nearly got me sectioned but it seemed like the exact right thing to do at the time. I suppose again, this is traumatic in itself. Maybe it’s a never ending cycle.

Right now the voices are telling me to kill myself. I’ve told them it’s my decision and right now I’m too scared to kill myself. Too scared of failing, too scared for those I’ll leave behind. I told the psychologist that the voices were telling me to get out of the building, that I needed to leave and hide somewhere safe. I told her it wasn’t her they were having a problem with but the building itself (the CMHT HQ) and who might be in there (MI:5 and the police). She said it was very kind of me to reassure her that it wasn’t her, and that I was a very kind person. This is very important to me. Being kind is quite an integral part of who I am – I like my friends and family to be happy and a big part of that is being kind to them. I appreciated her saying this – a boost to the ego just when my mood is down and could do with a shot of self-confidence.

So maybe this is all something to explore next week. I have to say, it was a bit of a shock – I’d really never thought of trauma like this. It’s made me reevaluate my perspective. I’m still hung up on “it’s not really trauma”, because it’s nothing like others have experienced in that it’s not verbal, physical, or emotional. There was no abuser. I really am concious of undervaluing the experience of others. That’s not the right word, but you know what I mean.

Can mental illness itself be traumatic?

What Next?

Following on from my previous post, a quick update. I saw my GP again, around two or three weeks later, still with suicidal ideation, and a plan, so he did in the end put me back on antidepressants for a maximum of one month and with strict instructions to come off them at the first sign of any loopiness. Within two weeks I was getting hypomanic and feeling just amazing, so I stopped the antidepressants immediately. Unfortunately the high mood seems to have stuck around and is getting out of control (this is according to Husband, I feel perfectly normal!)

I’m trying to be objective – no, I’m not sitting still, or managing to complete tasks without going off on a series of tangents. Apparently I’m talking quickly and jumping from topic to topic (although it doesn’t seem like that to me!). I don’t think I’m hearing voices but it’s so hard to tell what I’m actually hearing and what other people are hearing, and I’m not 100% sure about what I should be hearing. Does that make sense? People say it doesn’t but it does to me, maybe I’m not explaining well. I can’t tell if what I’m hearing is the same as what other people are hearing. I could ask I suppose, but Husband is already worried enough, and I don’t want to look like a crazy person. The things I’m not sure about hearing are mostly about numbers and their various levels of important, and about certain branches of physics and the associated experiments. There are also some bits about the danger of the physics from certain other people. 2058 is showing up everywhere.

Husband wants me to see my GP again – this is only five weeks after my last visit. I don’t want to be going too often, but at the moment he’s literally my only mental health support. I’m trying to tell myself that if I had a CPN, or support worker or something, a five week interval would be considered a huge break for most people. The thing is that there’s nothing he can do. He can’t increase my olanzapine as he only has the authority from the consultant to put it up to 10mg. He could refer me back to th CMHT I suppose, but I’ve managed to avoid them for over a year which has been brilliant because although they help I’m not that mental and I don’t need them. So what’s next? Husband says I’ve lost control and it’ll no longer get better by itself. But I’m still stuck on the idea that I’m FINE!

Mixed Episode

I think I am having a mixed episode, my mood graph seems to be mapping a steady high-low-combo,, and I’m all messed up, full of energy, no energy at the same time. The worst thing is this need to do something but an inability to focus, or even decide what I want to do, I’m just wasting time and unable to distract myself from all the THOUGHTS whirling round, good and bad. It’s slightly easier to deal with when I’m on my own – I can pace up and down, dance, fidget, these things I am able to do – but when Husband is home he expects me to focus my attention and achieve things, which sometimes is just not always possible.

I’m on my third notebook now, I’m slowly saving the world but I need to build things now, which is also something I can’t do when Husband is here because he doesn’t believe I’m saving the world. Messages are coming clearer through through the TV.

The Voices are saying to hurry up, “you’re running out of time”, save the world or reset – be reborn. Reset back to when it was safe, when I was safe, before They knew about me and knew I was chosen. How far back is that? I can’t say for sure, could it be before the Voices came, it could be, but there is no evidence to say when it will be, I don’t know when I was chosen, but I think, I feel, it might be early 2012.

I can’t go on like this.

Husband wants me to go and see the GP but I’m not sure what the point is – Husband wants my olanzapine increased, but I don’t see the point in that either. I’m sure the GP will be happy to increase the medication, maybe he’ll let me go back on antidepressants too, because then I won’t sleep even my current couple of hours, so I would get even more done (although given my concentration).

Rapid Cycling

When I was at university, yeaaaars ago now, I would cycling up and down pretty much daily, which was horrible and I hated it, but as I got older my mood episodes swung towards longer and more pronounced… things, which whilst also horrible, at least I could plan around them, and it also meant that I got long periods of stability in between. So now I’ve just switched from quitealotofquetiapine to alittleolanzapine and it’s not doing its job – I’m up to my ears in voices (pun intended, or whatever it is), my mood has switched three times in the last three weeks and a do.not.like it. I saw my GP today as an aside since my blood test results came back and I’m anaemic (10, but the worst it’s ever been is 8 – I work on “can I get up the stairs without getting out of breath?” if yes, I’m not that anaemic, and as I can I thought I was probably okay, but apparently this is an ineffective scoring method probably because I’ve got so used to it. Maybe running will be easier now, I always struggled with my respiratory system giving out before my muscles) and whilst he was concerned about mood (and some other things I may have talked about but I don’t want to if I haven’t already, here anyway – just don’t want it where They (you know who I mean) can get hold of it) he just didn’t have the time to go into it properly. He’s an amazing GP, but I can see the NHS stifling him.

The olanzapine isn’t doing its job, and there’s no one to call to help – I think I’ve talked before about the lack of accessible services in my area, I’m on meds, I should be well, so I don’t get any help. I do wonder if they’d change their minds if they actually talked to me though. I’m appalled by the lack of care I’ve received – some stats: I haven’t seen a psychiatrist (outside of the hospital admission in November 2013) since February 2013; I haven’t seen a mental health professional at all since August 2014 (ish, I can’t be arsed with looking things up), and god knows I’ve NEEDED to! I’ve seriously considered making a complaint, perhaps via PALS, but to be perfectly honest I’m not sure it would achieve anything other than get me blacklisted by the CMHT, and they’re really nice people besides, they just have limited resources.

I’m looking at other options for getting help – private is too expensive, although my parents have said they could pay for 3 or so sessions to get my medication sorted, but that won’t help with things like applying for benefits/jobs and other services the CMHT have (or at least used to have). The wonderful Sean has pointed me in the direction of Together UK, which looks like it could be useful. It’s hard though, I really don’t have the brain functionality to sort this out right now and Husband and my family all have too much on their plates, I can’t ask more of them and Husband (although he feels like a dick doing it) really doesn’t like me when I’m manic (and of course I don’t blame him, I’m horrendous) I don’t want this! The Voices aren’t helping with the whole thing, I’m trying to pretend I don’t hear them but I don’t know how well it’s working. Maybe people have noticed.

Another Day, Another GP Appointment

Well I didn’t get sectioned, so I’m rather pleased about that, although it was a rather close thing. On the edge of a knife. It came down to, essentially, more quetiapine or MHA.

GP: You’re manic.

Me: No I’m not.

GP: Yes you are.

That was basically the gist of the appointment. Husband is really rather angry with me right now because he thinks I’m manic and I think I’m fine (except maybe a touch bouncy).

I don’t know what to do really. I take the meds, blah blah, there are no other treatment options available, so I don’t see what I could do even if it was a mental health issue!

I’m concerned about the voices with regards to my safety, I don’t want to go into it anymore than that. I’ll just have to remember.

GP: Do you want some sleeping tablets?

Me: No!

GP: *confused look* but people usually bash down my door for these!

I hate sleepers. I’d rather not sleep. I hate the lack of alertness, I hate not being able to wake up, I hate that I’m so helpless when I’m on them and I hate the hangover.

The plan for the rest of the day is to not go for a walk and maybe have a bath.

Er… Meds and Stuff I Suppose

Oh I am so happy, oh I am so happy *sings*

Possibly too happy… BUT I trusted other people’s judgement and they said phone your CPN, so I did.

She wasn’t there.

(Because she works between HomeTown and two other nearby towns).

But the duty person has emailed her.

I (and husband has agreed) want to drop my duloxetine back down to 15mg (that is 30mg one day, nothing the next, rinse and repeat).  I may have to change antidepressant – this one seems to make me loopy, although only recently! I’m only on 30mg now and have been for two weeks (up from 15mg, and I was kind of low, but I was also on more quetiapine then and I’m now down to 200mg, so that may also be partially to blame, I don’t even know anymore).

So I expect she’ll phone on Thursday, when I can’t talk properly because I’m O-U-T-side. I don’t know what else to do, I’m avoiding everything on my trigger list and aggravation list (coffee, certain types of music, some other things I’ve forgotten already).

Oh I don’t want the quetiapine put up again. Too much makes me lethargic and hungry. It’s not like the voices went – they were quieter yes, that’s true, and much easier to deal with, but they were coming back and those saving-the-world thoughts were coming back (although they are back now – but can I do it? I think I can and I think I have to). I don’t know what I want even. I don’t want to be drugged into zombie-uncaring-state-of-gradual-depression. I don’t want to be damagingly manic, but although I was that before, I don’t think I am that now, and I don’t think I will be as I am on more meds than before.

I can’t think now, I’m having a hard time controlling my thoughts. And my sleep is dropping off again. And my moodscope score is increasing again.

I alarmed people on the train I think – no one sat near me and people kept glancing at me nervously. I assume these specific people were in.on.it. Police everywhere. It’s all part of it. The notebooks are filling up again.

Urgh, I can’t even remember the point of this post. Like the last one. I think I just wanted to try and get some thoughts in order. Hmm. Bullet points:

  • I want duloxetine down to 15mg.
  • I want quetiapine the same or less.
  • I want the voices to go away (I don’t like that word, you know the one).
  • I want the meanings to come clearer so I can get my saving-the-world done.

Right – so if I write that down somewhere accessible I can repeat it back to my CPN!