Thursday, 15 February 2018

“Nothing is so Painful to the Human Mind as a Great and Sudden Change.”

In my last couple of posts, I briefly mentioned the fact that I'm trying to cut my drinking back.

Trying to drink less has been a huge challenge. For the first five weeks of the year, I was doing well. I have having a 50-50 balance of drinking and sober days, and which that mightn't seem like much, it's a big step from only having one day off each week (if I was lucky).

Unfortunately, the last week and a half has been a disaster. Mum announced that she was planning on downsizing for a smaller house later this year, and I will have to find a few place to life.

I've been drinking every day since (11 days, so far. 12 if I drink tonight.)

And I cannot function. I try to distract myself, but I can't focus. Every little thing triggers more worries and problems, and there have been too many days that I end up in tears.

How do I afford to get furniture and appliances and even the little things like getting a kitchen stocked with utensils? How will I cope taking care of Billy and Misty by self? How will I cope with being so isolated, more so than I already am? How will I find a place that allows pets? How can I even afford it?

Most shopping, I'll be able to do online, but I feel I'd need to venture into a supermarket for the first time in years, so I can peruse the aisles to make sure I don't miss any essentials, and that is terrifying.

I am scared shitless.

So I drink.

At least, I do feel like a piece of shit and a failure when I do drink, and while it's not exactly a healthy thought, it's reinforcing that it doesn't make me feel good anymore. If anything, sometimes it just numbs the pain a little.

I'm trying to drink only when I'm distressed, depressed, or have breakdowns, and medication doesn't help – I very rarely drink out of boredom or fun anymore. But this past week or two, sometimes it's hard to get through until midday before I hit the bottle.

I'm trying to limit myself to one bottle a vodka a week (a 1L bottle, mind you), instead of 2-3. Again, this was working find for the first five weeks of the year, but this week, I've already been through two bottles.

There was one thing that really helped in the first couple of weeks of trying to cut back on drinking. Gaming, my other true vice. And now with a new laptop, the world is my oyster. The first week I had my laptop, I gamed for roughly 70 hours, although it's cut back to a more reasonable amount now. But being able to get sucked into that world, it just makes everything so much easier.

I did in fact renew my WoW subscription last week. I was playing 8-10 hours a day for the first few days, but again, it's cut back. Sadly, even gaming can't help me escape from having to deal with moving out right now.

(If any of you lovely people use Steam or play WoW, drop me comment (or email, if you'd prefer, which is on the side of my blog)).

I know blogger's been quite lately (where's the annual New Years flood of new people?), but I'm always glad to know that you guys are still sticking in there and not just gravitating to instagram and whatnot.

Oh, and on a final note, this year I ended up as #15 on the

so now I have a shiny medal to show you all.


Sunday, 14 January 2018

New Year, Same Old Me

Well, it's the start of yet another year. Unfortunately, I don't have much positive to look back on from the last year. Usually, one of the big things I look back on is the progress I've made with my agoraphobia, but this past year, I've barely left the house – even less so than usual. 

I went out for dinner with the family twice – once to an Indian place in March for my brother's birthday, and once to an Italian place in April for my birthday

I also went to one of Billy's vet appointments in March, which mum usually does solo. As it was a consultation for his most recent lot of surgery, and as I've taken on 100% of his financial burden, there were big decisions to make (if I couldn't pay, it looked like he may have had to be put down, although fortunately I managed to secure loan, which I'm still paying off).

I did go for a short walk in town (somewhere I never venture) with my friend R when I was staying with him in April, although thankfully it was quiet as it was a public holiday and everywhere was shut.

That's it. So, basically, I haven't really ventured out in public except for March and April. I have done 8 or 9 walks with my GP to go to appointments and as a form of exposure therapy, but it's still not getting any easier. I've also visited friends – R three times, and A three times – which never involves going out in public. They pick me up and drop me off. The latter, I shall not be visiting anymore, due to an unfortunate incident the last time I saw him.

Last year's resolutions are pretty much pointless to even mention, but here we go. 

  • I wanted to start some form of online study, although I came to the conclusion I'm better off expanding my sewing skills myself. 
  • I wanted to learn tightrope walking, but the agoraphobia aspect made that impossible. 
  • The same goes for wanting to learn to dance.
  • I never got my probationary driver's license, as mum refused to keep taking me driving, and it's only now that I'm starting to find the finance to pay for lessons, so I hope I'll get there this year.
  •  I certainly didn't get back to monthly outings. 
  • The only one I did achieve was reaching a year off synthetics (June 27th).

This year, I'm setting very basic resolutions. I don't want specific goals and deadlines, but rather small things I'd like to achieve.

  • I want to cut back my drinking to a more appropriate level, instead of drinking most days, and I want to drink less when I do, and start later in the day. More on this another time.
  • I want to sew more, and learn more. Since some of the larger financial hurdles have now been taken care of (such as saving for a laptop), I've finally started ordering what I need to finish furnishing my sewing room (mostly storage items).
  • I want to finally start driving lessons once I have a bit more money to do so (when the sewing room is done, when Billy's surgery is paid off, and/or when my drinking cuts back further).
  • But probably most importantly, my New Years resolution is to not spend time with people who treat me poorly and/or do not value me, just because I have no friends and am desperate for human interaction.

Christmas, to put it succinctly, sucked. The few days beforehand were busy, getting baking done for the day. I didn't feel like making anything, but mum had a few things she wanted to make. If I did it, at least I could weigh everything up and make sure I had accurate nutritional info. 

Then, on the day, I was up at 8am, alarm set. I had an hour for my coffee and to do my usual morning notes, blog checking, Facebook, etc, and then I was in the kitchen 99% of the time from 9am through 2pm, when lunch was served.

After lunch was done, I was exhausted. I had a mini breakdown from stress and just feeling so overwhelmed. I spent most of the afternoon alone outside, drinking and smoking while my mum and brother sat inside talking and laughing.

Feeling so overwhelmed, I did something stupid, and got sick for a few days.

I'd been wanting to take a laxative overdose since the week before Christmas, but had too much to do and organise. Between the stress and nibbling on homemade goodies, the urge built. The tipping point, ironically, was when I had too many sugar-free sweets on the weekend, trying to avoid the homemade goodies, and ended up with a disgustingly bloated stomach. I just wanted to cut it off.

At the end of Christmas Day, with my to-do list quieter, I decided to take them that night. Although I do enjoy seeing the water weight drop (even though the gain after they lose their effect and I find myself blocked up is distressing), it's more of just another form of self-harm for me. And sadly enough, it gives me an excuse to spend a couple of days doing nothing, without beating myself up for being lazy, and it makes me too sick to even consider eating.

4 senna is the standard dose. My usual overdoses are 100. This time, it was 200 – 100 one day, and 100 more the next. It's addictive, the pain. Next time, I want to do it day after day for an entire week. I want to see how much it would hurt, how much it would harm me.

There's much more to say, especially about appointments and my goal to cut back on drinking, but this post is already more than long enough, so I'll leave that for next time. For now, Christmas photos.

For Christmas lunch, I made my usual garlic & thyme stuffed roast chicken, 
with roast potatoes, steamed carrots and green beans, bread rolls, and of course, home made gravy. 

My baking spoils. In the end, I made caramel slice, 
Mars bar slice, chocolate truffles, and shortbread.

One of my new favourite things.
Because I know at least one of you will be curious about the nutritional info.

My treat for the day, which used to be my favourite drink. 
Now, even with sugar-free lemonade, I find it sickeningly sweet.


Monday, 18 December 2017

One Plus One

After three appointments, things actually seem to be going well with the new psychologist.

She wants to focus on learning healthy coping mechanisms and how to deal with crises and breakdowns. I told her about a breakdown I had a few weeks ago, which was particularly bad.

I'd asked mum again about doing family therapy, to deal with abuse I experienced as a child. She refused. I tried to explain that it's not about anger or blame, but because I don't want to feel this way anymore. I've always felt like she knew it was going on, and even when she says she didn't, it's hard for me to understand. In my mind, one plus one does not equal two, and I want to work through it together with a professional.

She said it was 'emotional manipulation' (which the psych disagreed with), and that it was against the terms of the intervention order she has (which it's not). By the end of it, she called the police because I was hysterical, hiding in my room, screaming and bashing my head against the wall. They seemed to agree with my psych, because when they got here, nothing happened. I sat against the door to keep them out. They knocked once, I didn't answer, then left without approaching me again – presumably after talking to mum. What a waste of our precious emergency services' time.

Talking to my psych about it, she asked if I thought there was any way she'd be open to family therapy. I told her that mum said she would if a professional asked her to. The psych said she would facilitate it, and thought it would be a good idea, to which I agreed.

She's worked with families on similar cases before. She said she'd talk to her supervisor to get advice, and after a few more sessions, will ask mum to come in.

I'm scared about what will happen, but it's something I've been asking for for years. But what will it be like when we leave the appointment and come home?

We also spoke about how my dad died when I was 3, from a brain tumor. She asked if I ever thought of how life would be different if he hadn't died. I laughed. In my mind, it's always been the start of a chain of events. If he hadn't died, I wouldn't have been abused as a child (or I would've been protected, or maybe he would've realised what was going on), which wouldn't have led to me being susceptible to an abuse relationship at 14/15, and I wouldn't have ended up with the mental health issues I have now.

When I'm talking to her, so much makes sense, and gives me a sense of clarity, but I never remember everything she says that give me that feeling once I leave. Maybe I should start taking notes too.

My GP has still been walking me to the appointments. This time, the psych came on the walk home, as a transistion to her starting to walk me to and from. My GP told me that my last blood test was very low in vitamin D. It's supposed to be over 50, and mine is currently under 20, and I need to start taking supplments. I never go outside further than the back porch unless I'm going to appointments.

The problem is, I have a lot of trouble taking supplements. I'm going to talk to my dietician about it, but I don't think it'll help at all. I don't know if that's something you guys can relate to or not, but I really struggle to do anything good for my health. It's like passive self-harm in a way. It's the same reason I can't quit smoking despite having COPD and bronchilotis obliterans, and actually try to smoke as much as I can, even though (or because) I know it will slowly kill me.

As it'll be after Christmas or New Year by the next time I post, I'd just like to wish you all a happy Christmas. I know the holidays are tough for a lot of us, for various reasons, but I hope you all make it through okay.

Always relevant.


Tuesday, 28 November 2017

I'd Rather be Dreaming...

The day after my last post, I met the dreaded new psychologist; the latest in what seems to be an endless stream of changing mental health professionals. I haven't seen anyone except my GP and dietician since January, so I guess I had a good run.

Thankfully, my GP was there for most of it, meaning I didn't have to say much at all. It's not easy to hear the introductory speech she does with new psychs though. Going over my life history and trauma and all this crappy stuff sends my brain into overload.

After she left for the last 15 minutes, I didn't talk much. My eyes were fixed on the same spot on the floor the entire time. It was mostly just getting more details on my history, but I hate having to talk about it.

She thinks we should focus on distress tolerance with bits of DBT to start with, but go slowly with easing in to therapy regarding the actual issues. She also wants to work on alternatives to self-harm and overdosing when I feel overwhelmed. Both she and my GP agreed to leave the ED in the dietician's hands though, and not to go into it unless I bring it up.

I saw her again on Friday. She talked about self-harm triggers, overwhelming emotions, and how I cope with them. She gave me some handouts on distress tolerance, crisis survival skills, and a few pages with distraction and self-soothing techniques

One of the crisis survival skills is called 'STOP'. It stands for Stop, Take a step back, Observe, Proceed mindfully. Basically, when you hit a crisis, you need to stop and not just react straight away, take a step back from the situation, notice what you're thinking and feeling, what's going on around you, how you feel inside, and think about what actions will make the situation better or worse.

So far, the appointments have been pretty uneventful, which is to be expected when there's not really 'talking therapy' and instead learning new coping strategies. I'm still doubtful that she'll be able to help me, but I guess we'll see how it goes.

The initial referral is for 10 appointments over the course of a year. She wants me to go in every second week, so that's going to disappear quickly. She asked my thoughts about changing the referral to 10 sessions over eight weeks, since I have suicidal thoughts, but it's way too often to leave the house and deal with a new team member. For the moment, it's sticking to the initial referral, although the more intensive referral can be activated at any point.

One thing I'm dreading is that, after the first few appointments, the psychologist will start walking with me instead of my GP, which is completely understandable, but it's still freaking me out. The psych will join my GP on the walk home next time, but after that, no more Jo.

On a final note, I'm sorry I keep disappearing. I'm trying to keep up to date on reading, and trying to comment as much as I can, but posting has just felt like too much. Every day, I tell myself I'll get a blog post done, but every day I put it off until tomorrow.

This past month or so, the depression has been overwhelming. I feel so low, most days I just lay comatose and watch the same old series over and over again, just trying to get through each day as quickly as possible. My life is going no where, and I keep wondering why I'm even here. I feel guilty for spending all day in bed medicating instead of sewing or doing other productive things, but right now, I just can't do it.


Wednesday, 1 November 2017


On Friday, at the insistence of my GP, I'll be going to meet a new psychologist. I've told her time and time again that I don't want to see anybody. After cycling through so many different mental health professionals for over half of my life, I don't believe they can help me, and at this point, I just don't want to talk anymore. No one's ever managed to improve my mental health at all. It's just been a steady decline over the years.

As much as I don't want to, I'm not being given much of a choice. My GP can't continue to see me without psychological support, which is fair enough. Just like when I started seeing my dietician, I had to find a GP to cover the medical side of things.

But at this point, I just don't want to talk.

I've had a hard time trying to work myself up to posting about the past few weeks. Even things as usual as my appointments, I haven't been able to find words for. There have been some rough times, and at the moment, all I do is medicate, drink, exercise, and sleep.

When I saw my GP a couple of weeks ago, she told me she'd be making an appointment with this new psychologist and would text me the details. She's forewarned me about it for the last couple of appointments, so I knew it was coming. She'll walk me there and be present for the first few appointments. It's just a few blocks down the street, about halfway between my house and my GP and dietician's offices.

It was our third or fourth appointment where she's walked me to and from for appointments with herself and my dietician. Usually we weave through the back lanes to avoid the busyness of the main streets. This time, she took me along the main streets, which was loud and stressful. On the way back, she agreed to go back to using the lanes.

She asked me which would be less stressful if I was walking alone, but I still don't know. The solitude of the lanes makes it easier, but by the same token, makes me anxious because I worry I would be an easy target and no one would be able to see if something happened.

As always, it was really good to see the dietician. I miss our weekly appointments so much, as I now only see her every month or so due to the transport issue.

At the moment, her focus is to try to reduce the calories I drink in alcohol and replace them with food, so I'll be getting actual nutrients. But if I cut back on drinking, I'll take the weight loss over more food any day. I've had four or five days off drinking in the last two weeks, and without alcohol, my intakes were between 400-700.

She also wants me to try to at least have one supplement each day. Whenever I consider it, my first thought is always "I could have this, or five vodkas". I did try for about a week and a half. Some days I was even having two. On sober days, it was tolerable, but when I eat, drink, and have a supplement, it freaks me out. After my weight started creeping up, I cut them back this week, and have only been having them every other day (which is still a lot). 

I spoke with both her and my GP about how to cut back on the drinking. To my credit, I am now having a day or two off each week, and try to keep my drinks around 6-8, instead of struggling to stay under 10. All that really helps is medicating excessively or smoking (and it's been a few months since I last smoked). Both agreed that neither is an ideal replacement. But basically all of my sober days in recent weeks have been because I've knocked myself out with extra meds around the time I would usually start drinking.

For now, I'm just going to try to relax and ignore the fact that in 48 hours I'm going to be sitting down with yet another stranger. I didn't drink yesterday, so tonight I'm going to have my Halloween movie marathon, then try not to drink tomorrow to make sure I'm not hungover for the psych appointment. This time, I think I'm going to ask my GP to give me a copy of the mysterious letters she always hands to new psychs (one of which is from my first psychiatrist at age 12 who I never really talked with, and I'm really curious to see what he said that was so very important).

Wish me luck.


Friday, 6 October 2017

This House is Haunted. Not by Ghosts, but Memories.

Two weeks ago, I spent the first night in my bedroom for years.

It mightn't sound like much, but it's a big step for me. After an abusive relationship as a teenager, I stopped sleeping in there. I would spend my nights on the couch, viewing my bedroom as little more than a crime scene. Despite getting a new bed and replacing furniture shortly after, it doesn't change the room and the memories the walls contain.

I did sleep in there for a while, when my ex moved in. But when we broke up, it didn't take long for me to land back on the couch.

It's been difficult. The first night had me so on edge, I drank 500ml of vodka, plus a few glasses of wine. I still have to have had a few drinks, and/or a few extra oxazepam, to be in there, and I have to keep myself distracted. There is constantly something playing on the TV, and I try to forget where I am.

As hard as it is, it's nice to have somewhere to hide away again. If I can isolate and get away, maybe the threats to kick me out will lessen. One of the conditions of being allowed to come home after my last hospital trip was that I stop sleeping on the couch. If I can spend more time in there, you wouldn't even know I'm here.

It took a few weeks to try to get everything organised. On days I had the energy, I'd spend a few hours a day shuffling furniture, cleaning from ceiling to floor, moving boxes to and from the study, unpacking and sorting, organising my clothes, putting up hooks for belts and bags and coats, and just trying to find places for everything. I even got a new cheap table to give me more display space.

It still hasn't changed the room or the memories, but in a way, it's helped.

Misty is loving it. She stays at the foot of the bed all day. Billy is getting older, and can't jump up on the bed any more, or even jump down, but he will wake me up to get a hand.

One bonus is that, being able to isolate myself, it makes it easier to avoid dinner. Even though I cook my own safe dinners 99% of the time, and rarely join in on family meals, I can just forget about routine and meal times, just like when I'm home alone.

I have also been working on the study, mostly just stacking boxes until I can get the storage furniture I need, but hopefully my little sewing room will be completed in not too long.

I've also been trying to get some actual sewing done, although it's difficult with my machines currently inaccessible. I've been working on repairing a couple of corsets – one that I wore daily for a long time, and the last one I made before I took a long hiatus some 7 years ago but didn't get the chance to wear much before I misplaced it for a long time. It's all by hand – replacing grommets and the bias binding – just fixing things that I could've done better. But it's something.

Just a short update for today. For now, here are a few photos from around my room.


Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Long Days, Longer Nights

First of all, I just want to say a huge thank you to those of you who reached out to me after my last post. I never forget how supportive and amazing this community is, but sometimes, I still find myself in awe at just how much support is out there.

As you probably know, I don't have many friends in real life, friends outside the blogosphere. I can count a grand total of three who I've seen in the past five years, and one of them I'm no longer friends with. It's just so comforting to know that, in the darkest hours, when I feel so alone, there are still people there for me, even if we're oceans apart. You guys are seriously all amazing, and I don't know what I'd do without this community.

The week before last, I had my first appointment with my dietician and GP in 11 weeks, after my GP missed the last one.

As I waited for my GP to get here to walk me to the medical center (part because I can't get to appointments by myself, part as exposure therapy), she texted and asked me to meet her at the corner, instead of at the front door. This had been discussed as the next step, but I didn't know it'd be happening that day, especially after so long since I last went out.

The idea is for me to start walking little bits by myself, and eventually be able to walk there myself. Even though it's not even 100m to the corner of my block, it made me very uncomfortable. But as she was already on the way, and the text came through the medical center's no-reply notification system, I felt stuck, and had no way of cancelling.

I slowly made my way down the path until I could see her at the corner. She routed a way going through the laneways, so I don't feel as exposed as on the main roads. While it's worked okay so far, I don't know how I'd do it alone. The main roads are busy and full of cars and people. The laneways are secluded and I fear something bad could happen. I don't know which is more terrifying.

Despite so much having happened, especially with the ambulance call-outs and police drama, I had surprisingly little to say. I felt a tad sour toward her after not finding an appointment for me in a month – and appointment that mum had actually agreed to drive me to – after the police first turned up and tried to arrange an appointment for me.

It was really good to see my dietician though. I miss her weekly appointments so much.

I gave her the list I've been keeping of what I eat. Some days, it's dinner and a snack, usually fruit or yoghurt, or sometimes a small lunch. If I'm not drinking, sometime's there'll be a second snack. But some days, I'll just have dinner and save the rest of my calories for the alcohol.

Most of my calories come from alcohol – usually around 500-800 a day, or more. Some days, if I don't drink much (under ~200 cal), my intake struggles to reach 500-600. In a way, I use this as a backwards way of justifying my drinking to others. On the days I don't drink (which are sadly few and far between at the moment), my intake is usually around 300-600, sometimes up to 800 if I indulge in something like chocolate or baked goods. Although I still drink wine, most of the time it's cheap vodka mixed with diet orange soda. While the wine does have some carbs, when I just stick with vodka, I get nothing from it nutritionally but pure alcohol.

The only reason for me to stop drinking is for the calories and the weight loss that would come with it. But, as strong as that desire is, I struggle. When I stopped smoking all day every day, it immediately became my new crutch, my way to escape. At least weed and synthetics were kinder to my intake and weight.

I didn't tell my GP, but I did speak to the dietician about the police drama. After telling her about not being able to get an appointment with my GP, she said to always feel free to go in to see her, even if it's short notice. She really is a sweetheart. I had thought about it when the police asked if there was anyone I wanted them to call, but it didn't seem right. Sometimes I wish she was a therapist – she's the only one outside the blogosphere that I can really talk to.

Back with my GP, she asked about the overdoses. The information she received from the hospital didn't specify beyond 'overdose', and she was concerned it was the meds she prescribes me – mainly the oxaezpam – and was wondering if she needed to stop them. But it was my over-the-counter sedatives, which I keep mainly in case I overdose. If I take too many of the meds she gives me, not only could they be ceased, but could also get her in trouble as I've overdosed on them so many times in the past.

She's got no idea what's going on with the Clinic either, but I told her I don't care anymore, that it was pointless and I no longer want to go.

She then brought up the dreaded topic of meeting a new psychologist. There's a few in an office about halfway between me and the medical center. I told her I didn't want to see one, but she's insisting.
  "I understand that you're anxious and afraid --"
  "It's not fear or anxiety. I just don't see the point."

And it's not like I can get there anyway. She said she'd walk me and come to the first few appointments, but what then? I'm a long way off being able to walk there alone. She said she was going to arrange an appointment and text me the details, but thankfully she hasn't, buying me another month or so before I have to meet them.

On the walk home, she wanted to leave me at the end of the last laneway, nearly doubling the time I'd walked alone to the corner. I panicked, and when she tried to reassure me, I snapped
  "I haven't been for a walk in nearly three months – it's too much."
She agreed to come to the corner, but I'm afraid that next time I won't have a choice.

One thing that hit me hard was when the dietician said she was proud of me for still eating at all, with my mood so low and everything that's been going on. Obviously, this makes me feel like a failure and just makes me want to eat less. Since she said it, it's just been playing in my head over and over.