It’s been four weeks since I hit rock bottom and started making my way back up to the surface again and four weeks seemed as good a time as any to step back and review how things have been going so far.
As I have mentioned elsewhere, my last episode involved a rather spectacular unravelling of the practical and the ordinary. I wasn’t just an emotional wreck (which is bad enough) I was also a practical wreck and for a person who is usually Mrs Organised** this felt doubly distressing. Still, if I’ve learned only one thing recently it’s that the only way to deal with practical problems is to take practical steps. Dealing with this side of the chaos was about rolling my sleeves up and digging deep (there’s a line in a Maximo Park song which sums this up quite neatly (to me anyway) “what happens when you lose everything? You start over again’). And so ensued an impressively thorough spring clean of the flat, a session of opening three months worth of post, a trip to the supermarket, a meeting at the bank and some robust financial planning. I’ve definitely had some notable successes in putting the practical aspects of my life back together, and this is definitely helping with the anxiety and (utterly terrifying) panic attacks that had been creeping in.
On a daily basis I’ve been splitting my tasks up into the things I need to do, the things I should do and the things that I want to do and in following these lists I feel I am achieving a good balance of sorting things out and taking care of my interests. The last part, taking care of my interests, has already started to have a positive impact. We’re not talking major things here – just a bit of reading (I finished Death at intervals and commend it to anyone and everyone and have now stated reading Philip Pullman’s The good man Jesus and the scoundrel Christ), plenty of music in the background (thank you Radio Six Music) and a spot of exercise (this week wii fit, maybe even running in the outside world next week!). All of these things seem to be coming together as a useful reminder that I am a proper person who cares about and has an interest in things – I’m sure also sure that the exercise has an impact on my mood day to day. There’s also been this blog which has been a welcome distraction and a good way of refocusing the mind away from the darkness that threatens to consume me.
As has been mentioned elsewhere I’ve spoken to colleagues about my difficulties and am definitely feeling a bit more like myself at work. I’ve had my first psych appointment so have a really good crisis plan in place. I also had my initial CBT assessment this morning – I think it went quite well and I’m interested to find out what the next steps will be. This type of contact is important to me. If nothing else it serves as a check and balance preventing me from withdrawing from the strategies that have been serving me well in recent weeks. It will also be good, in the fullness of time, to get different perspectives and different ideas about managing the symptoms right out of my life.
Of course the dark passenger is ever present and I’d be lying if I said there hadn’t been some tough times. On the upside, the tough times have felt a little shorter lived and a little less severe of late – there was a time when I wasn’t able to contemplate getting through the next few minutes, now, if I’m struggling at all, I’m struggling to think about getting through the next few hours. I’m taking this as a big positive because whilst you can do quite a lot of harm to yourself in a few impulsive, wrong-headed minutes, a few hours has (so far) been long enough for me to take a few deep breaths and reach for the crisis plan.
Insofar as that the last few weeks have been about me managing better rather than me being completely better I think it’s fair to say that things are working out okay at the moment. I’m almost looking forward to what the next four weeks might bring.
* With apologies to Stevie Smith for indulging in a small spot of kind-of-plagiarism.
** It took me ages to decide to capitalise both Mrs and Organised and fear I may still have got it wrong.