The Stigma Of Treatment

All the important people in my life know I struggle with my mental health. That’s old news. I’m not even overly anxious about sharing some of my struggles with the right people at the right time.

On the other hand sharing what treatment I’m receiving for my mental health is so much more anxiety provoking and worrisome.

I’m on three psychotropic drugs, and there’s plenty of judgement and stigma from people about that. I need these medications to function, if anyone has a problem with that, they can get lost.

I’m seeing a therapist weekly. At this point in time the therapist is a psychiatrist. In the past they’ve been psychologists, clinical psychologists, and counsellors. Therapy is a really good way to help me manage my mental health. Again, if people have a problem with that, they can get lost.

Then there’s the inpatient psychiatric admissions. Five in the last two years. Most of them for about three weeks. Not all in times of crisis, but of great stress, and with multiple crappy coping strategies being used.

I’m heading for my seventh admission with the same doctor at the same hospital. I trust my doctor, and I trust the nursing staff. I know the admission will be helpful, they always are, but I’m scared to tell anyone.

I worry so much more about what people might think about me being in a psychiatric hospital, than being on medication, or in therapy.

Is it really that bad that I need to be in hospital?
Yes. Doing the same amount of work in therapy outpatient is impossible. Plus I’m stuck, again. DID chaos, and multiple shit storms brewing beneath the surface. That doesn’t even cover the issues I’ve had with mood (both hypomania and depression in the last month). It is that bad.

Can’t I just get over it? Isn’t therapy enough? Can’t they give you medication?
I’m doing the therapy, and taking the meds. I’m still struggling. As for getting over it? Get lost.

I know hospital is a safe place to crash land. I can be a mess, be emotional, struggle in any kind of way and it’s okay. I don’t have to keep it together. I don’t have to keep smiling. Staff are kind and supportive. I have time and space to unleash the chaos, work through it, and put myself back together again.

I’ve still only told a few people. I’m so fearful of their reaction to, and judgement of inpatient treatment that I stay silent.

I think the stigma associated with psychiatric or psychological treatment can often be so much worse than the stigma associated with a diagnosis.

It’s okay to not be okay, and it’s even more okay to get whatever help you need to be okay again.

Stuck

I’ve reached a point that I’ve reached many times in the past. A point where outpatient therapy isn’t working. A point where I’m fleeing the images I’m continually seeing in my head, the nightmares, the body memories.

Therapy involves talking. Talking about the flashbacks, the body memories, the terror, the fear, the anxiety. It means facing what I’m scared of and trusting my therapist to go there with me.

At the moment I’m running from all of that. Listening to what younger parts have to tell me seems okay in the moment, but it allows everything else to come up. Once that door is opened it’s very hard to close.

Talking about that in therapy leaves me sitting in an awkward silence. Too scared to talk about what’s really going on, but still frustrated at my fear.

Opening up that cupboard of painful, traumatic memories leaves me feeling overwhelmed. When that emotion reaches a tipping point I zone out. Dissociate to the point of being completely unresponsive. So unresponsive that I’ve been referred to as unconscious whilst in that state.

That unique ability makes outpatient therapy difficult. I’m desperate to talk about everything going on inside, but terrified of not coping, of losing control, of zoning out. Dissociating at the moment, to that extent, is almost guaranteed if either I or my therapist push talking.

That leaves me with only one choice. Another hospital admission. I’m frustrated and angry at it coming to this point again. I don’t want to be in hospital. I want to be okay. I’d prefer to stay at home in my own space, with my own things, and my freedom. Sure, hospital isn’t bad. It’s actually one of the most helpful things I could do right now, and the staff are amazing, but I still don’t want to do it.

I have a month or so until my admission. A month or so to try to get practical things organised for the time I’m in hospital.

Depending on how I cope in the lead up to this admission there may or may not be new posts. I’ll try to keep up with posting every two weeks, but prioritising self-care means this may not happen.

Homesick

Country_Town_Small_Sleepy_Bush_Home_Land_Gumtree_Trees

Recently I sorted through my memory box. This a box I store special keepsakes in. I have high school formal tickets, high school leaving gifts, special cards from people, and a few other trinkets. There’s a lot that’s either from or relates to the country town I grew up in.

I miss it. I miss the bush. I miss the sleepy vibe that only a country town has. I miss the amusing store names, and the small town community. I miss my house there. I miss the bushland I used to walk my dog in. I miss my high school. I miss all of it.

But I haven’t lived there for over ten years. The house we lived in has a new owner. My family don’t live in that town, or that state. I don’t have any friends that live there. I don’t know anyone there. There’s nothing for me to go back to. Nothing.

Yet I’ve been crying so many tears over it. Missing home. Missing familiarity. Missing the summer heat, and the evening cool breezes. Missing walking everywhere because there was no public transport, and I was physically well enough to walk.

I’m sure there’s more that I’m missing, but I can’t put my finger on it. I feel like I’m being drawn back to that sleepy, country town. The urge to book a plane ticket and just go is overwhelming. My physical limitations means visiting now would be difficult, and getting around almost impossible.

I’m also quite sure going back would bring up a lot of memories, and unexpected memories. Memories I don’t even know are there are most certainly can’t prepare for. Impulsively buying plane tickets and going back would be unwise, yet I’m feeling such a strong pull to return.

Switching Isn’t Always Bad

We’ve been switching a lot recently. Multiple times a day on our ‘busiest’ days, and once or twice on the quieter days. Some nurses (we’re currently in a psychiatric hospital) don’t appear to be very comfortable with this.

This evening Miss 7 was out and had a conversation with our nurse. There was nothing particularly interesting about the conversation until the nurse asked Miss 7 how to get me, Life As A Committee, to come back.

Miss 7 said she didn’t know, but that I’d come back if they needed me. She also said I was tired and that was why I went back inside. I’d also ducked back in to give everyone else some space to write, draw, or otherwise express themselves.

One day another nurse expressed concern about me wanting to switch because of some uncomfortable feelings. It turns out those feelings were seeping through from Miss 19, and switching with her allowed her the time and space to do some journalling, and write a poem. Having the space to express herself eased the uncomfortable feelings, and when she was done I came back.

Please hear me when I say this: Switching isn’t always a bad thing. It’s certainly going to be of concern if a part/alter comes out who is suicidal or otherwise unsafe. That’s not an issue for us at this point in time.

Being able to switch so freely here means we’ve gotten a lot of work done with lots of different parts. Perhaps some nurses are uncomfortable talking to parts/alters, or perhaps they’ve been misinformed, but switching isn’t bad!

Continual Switching

Usually I, Life As A Committee, rarely switch in front of people. I try desperately to avoid switching, and hide who’s out. I don’t want people to see other parts out. I don’t want friends to think I’m strange or weird. I don’t want people to see the crazy.

I’ve been in hospital for two weeks now. For the last week we’ve been regularly switching. No one part/alter stays out for much more than half a day. I’m used to being out for days, weeks, months on end. Everyone else finds it much more tiring, and not because of the body’s physical health issues.

As soon as one part feels tired, or particularly overwhelmed, they tend to go back inside. Then someone who hasn’t been out so recently can come out, and take over for the next few hours. It’s meant that nurses generally have no clue which of us they’re talking to (unless they make the effort to ask, or it’s particularly obvious it’s not me), and our psychiatrist has been seeing a different part each day.

I’ve given up fighting it. Trying not to switch when other parts are desperate to be out is exhausting. Trying to fight a switch means I begin to feel increasingly dissociated, and other’s thoughts, emotions, and urges become overwhelming.

Here, in hospital, I’ve given up caring about switching. We’re switching multiple times a day as different parts find themselves needing time and space to express themselves. This can be through writing, drawing, or talking. Some parts are still hesitant to talk and prefer non-verbal ways of communicating. This doesn’t mean they haven’t been out. It just means if they’re out we’re very quiet, or someone who can talk comes back when there’s a need for us to talk.

Some of our switching is planned. We know what triggers certain parts to come out, and use that to do some more focussed work with them. Other times we discuss everyone’s wants and needs, and work out who’s the best part to be out at particular time.

We’ll be going home next week, and I hope the regular switching can continue. It makes life easier when we switch cooperatively. That’s something we need to have continue.