Monday, 31 July 2017

Screaming into the Void

After self-harming for the past twelve years – literally half my life – you start to think that you know what you're doing. If you use this tool and that technique, you think you know what the result will be. But, as I learnt last week, you can be terribly wrong.

This has been one of the hardest weeks I've had in months. Last Monday, despondent, feeling like I'll never get to the Clinic or any other help, I broke down.

I took a sizeable overdose, followed by the worst cut I've ever done. One cut. That's all it took. But I really fucked up. My skin burst open. Blood started pooling on the table at an alarming rate. I looked at my arm and freaked out. I'd never cut so deeply, and definitely never bled so much. The blood covered an area the size of at least two sheets of A4 paper, and when I changed the dressing a couple of days ago, I did measure, and it was gaping 10-11mm.

I felt like I was going to throw up. I called for help, and mum called 000. I held my arm in towels, trying to stop the bleeding. The usual entourage appeared – four paramedics and four police. Since there have been a few ambulance calls when I've still been holding knives or blades when the calls go in, it seems the police always tag along these days.

They took me into A&E until the next afternoon. Thankfully, I just barely missed a vein. Because it had stopped bleeding, they said I didn't need stitches. That said, I've had stitches in smaller cuts that had stopped bleeding too. They didn't even do steri-strips or any proper dressing – just a big pad wrapped around my wrist. Maybe they just want me to have a horrific scar as a reminder.

All in all, I had maybe 10 minutes total with the psych. It seems there is no access to help even when I'm in A&E for self-harm and an overdose. There was no follow-up or “you need to see your GP next week”. They just took out the IV, gave me my meds and a taxi voucher, and sent me on my way.

The psych had called mum in the morning, to discuss where to from here. She said she didn't know if she wanted me to come home. He gave her time to think about it, and said he'd call back in an hour. She didn't even answer the phone. After five hours, he just gave up and sent me home.

I got home, and mum had actually taken the locks off the doors so I couldn't get in. That was a really low point. She did eventually let me in. Her friend's toolbox was still right inside the door, and he came back a few hours later to put them back on, so I think she was just trying to make a statement. But still,it fucking hurt.

One small bright spot from when I was in hospital was seeing my old friend Z, who works there. He was a huge support the last time I was in there a few months ago. I saw him moving a patient and passed by my door. As I was halfway through messaging “I think I just saw you in A&E, or a very good doppelganger”, he popped his head in and talked for a couple of minutes before he had to get back to work.

Apparently he came back just after midnight when he finished work, but I was already asleep and he didn't want to wake me. He said never to hesitate to message him if I'm in a shitty place. Having been through the same system with similar issues, he actually understands. I should really try to catch up with him more often, you know, when I'm not in hospital.

A few days before, I had a breakdown in the evening. Let me preface by saying this – as much as I wanted to, I hadn't taken an overdose. I hadn't self-harmed beyond a few hits to the head. I was just crying hysterically, and had blockaded myself in the lounge room because I needed to be alone, which does happen every now and then, in one room or another.

The next thing I knew, mum was on the phone to 000. Within minutes, there were four paramedics, four police, and a mental health worker asking me to let them in. I don't mind the paramedics. I don't mind the mental health worker. But the police?! When I haven't been cutting and have no sharps? And four of them? Isn't that slight overkill?

They didn't take me in that night, but the mental health worker said she'd get the Clinic to call me the next day to arrange an interview. They did call the next day, and left a voicemail to call them back. We all know I can't talk on the phone (note to self: ask a psych about Selective Mutism next time I see one), so mum has been saying she'd at least talk to them to make an interview time. But she changed her mind, and refused to. I wallowed for days before I finally snapped, resulting in the trip to A&E on Monday.

I eventually found an online enquires form for the Clinic and explained the situation, asking if they could contact me with a time to go in for an interview, but I never heard back.

When I was in A&E, the psych also called the Clinic, but were told they'd have no beds for at least a week, and to wait for them to call back. They probably won't even take me after the 000 calls, the self-harm, the overdoses, the breakdowns. It doesn't exactly scream “able to stay safe for voluntary admission”. When I saw the psych, he said I need an advocate to talk to the Clinic and arrange the interview, but gave me no idea on how to do that.

Now, I've pretty much given up hope on the Clinic. The psych in A&E mentioned that my referral might even lapse before they admit me. I feel numb and lost, and not sure where to go from here.

Why is it that when I finally, and desperately, do want and need help, there's suddenly no way to access it?

I'm just screaming into the void.

My GP was supposed to come see me the week before last, to do a home visit and walk me to and from my appointment with the dietician. I waited for nearly two hours before she texted to say she was 'too busy' for our appointment, and rebooked it... for August 29th. That'll make it 11 long weeks between appointments. Needless to say, I was upset by this. I really needed to see them both. I book triple appointments to allow the walking time, and you can bet that she wouldn't tell a patient sitting in the waiting room that she's too busy to see them.

On the upside, I just spent a lovely, relaxed weekend with my friend R. We watched movies all day and talked and laughed and drank far too much wine. It was good to get away from the house for a bit after the recent dramas and just block out the outside world for a couple of days. Considering that after cutting off communication with A (for reasons mentioned in my last post), R is really now the only friend I ever see in real life, making these times all the more precious. It's a lonely feeling losing such a big chunk of your social life, but in the end, he can do me no good. I just wish I'd realized that earlier.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

The Waiting Game

I've been trying to figure out how to best deal with my current situation – not feeling safe, constantly scared, feeling overwhelmed and out of control.

A day or two after I last wrote, I broke down. I confessed to mum how much I've been struggling lately, especially with the trauma dates, and the extent of my self-harm and use of medication and alcohol, as it's all that gets me through each day. That life in general is overwhelming. I told her I think I need to go back to the Clinic for a week or two, and I need to see my GP to make it happen.

After an hour or two of panic and hysterics, she eventually agreed to make an appointment with my GP and drive me there as I'm in crisis. Apart from the pressure wounds and oil burns, this was the first time in about six months that she agreed to help me get to appointments.

The next day, she backtracked, and wouldn't do it.
  “They probably wouldn't have a bed for you anyway...”

Eventually, a few days later, she followed through on her original agreement, and last Monday I saw my GP, which was the first appointment available.

I told her the same things I'd told mum. She agreed it was a good idea, but said a few things that made me feel hesitant.

She thinks it's best to not tell them I'm trying to hide from trauma dates, but rather to have professionals to talk to and learn new mindfulness skills. Groups might be a problem. I can do the ones that don't involve talking. Groups like yoga, mindfulness, maybe stuff like art therapy, but I worry they're going to expect more this admission. She also said I need to try to have more days off drinking so the Clinic can know withdrawal and seizures won't be a problem. There's also the worry that they might want to reassess and change my meds, which I feel very uncomfortable with. When I take them properly, the meds I'm on do help a lot.

In the end, I'm feeling apprehensive and not overly hopeful, despite her saying she'd push for me to go in, and thinks it'd be helpful for me. She took me to get bloods done, and said she'd send off the paperwork that same day.

Amazingly enough, the next day there was a phone call from the Clinic to set up an intake interview. Last time, it took around six weeks to hear from them. Mum played the role of messenger because of my fear of talking on the phone. I just choke up and I can't get a word out. The nurse unit manager raised the issue of attending groups, but it sounds like the non-talking groups might be enough if I'm lucky. She doesn't want me hiding in my room, although last time, I spent most of my time either walking laps around the corridors or smoking with a coffee in the courtyard.

Then, I started getting distressed, so she said she'd call back in the next two days to make a time for the interview. Upset that it meant more time before I could get support, I broke down crying, attacked myself, and ate a handful of sleeping pills, hoping I'd feel better in the morning.

Wednesday and Thursday, I spent all day stressing, waiting for a phone call that never came.

Then, on Friday, mum went away for the weekend. It was my first time home alone in over a year. Before my brother moved out, he'd sometimes be gone all day, and it's not like we sat around chatting for ages, but having someone around in case something went wrong was a safety net I never appreciated. I didn't realise how hard it'd be.

I don't want to get into too much detail, but that night, I hit a wall. My friend A and I were talking about weight issues, and he wanted to see what I looked like at my smallest. I should've known better. I'd sent him pictures from my set weight (BMI 19-20) a while ago, and he told me I looked like a cow. This upset me so greatly, I didn't speak to him in the longest time.

I'd deliberately not sent pictures at, or near, my lowest weight, because it's obvious his view of women's weight is not right. But this time, I did. Truthfully, I wanted to test him. His reaction would give me an important insight to what he really thinks of me and if he was a worthwhile friend. If he said I looked awful, that would've been a good thing. If he said I looked good, that would mean he's not someone I want to have any interaction with.

Unfortunately, it was the latter. He though the pictures of me around BMI 12-13 looked good.

It was horrified and distressed. I tried calling mum to talk, but as I got more distressed, she hung up. I felt scared and unsafe and wished I wasn't alone. I tried to calm down and called her again, but it didn't go much better. After that, she stopped answering my calls. I left a voicemail, explaining that I didn't feel safe. That it was my first time alone in over a year, and it's scary to know there's no one to catch me if I fall, no one to help me if I did something stupid.

I felt, and still do feel, so low and hopeless. I couldn't just not do something about it. It was the worst time to be alone. In the end, I tried to find the least-destructive ways to self-destruct. After more sleeping pills and a few new burns, I just listened to sad music and passed out, and slept as deep as death.

Mum eventually got back on Monday afternoon. She asked how I was doing, and I told her it'd been a pretty miserable weekend after everything with A.

I'm not sure if the Clinic called when she was away. The phone rang twice on the Monday before she got home, plus once on Friday. I don't know if it was even the Clinic, as I thought they left messages, but most calls go through to our mobiles these days, so I guess it's possible.

Tuesday and Wednesday went by. No call. After more than a week since the first phone call, I'm starting to think they won't call back. I'm spending all day stressing and waiting, but I'm losing hope they'll call again.