Thursday, 31 October 2013

Big Changes

Hello, how have you been?

Me?  Well it's actually been quite a hectic time during these past couple of months, something I've really not had to cope with in a very long time.  I went from a totally sedentary life to one with lots going on.  Before I say why exactly I've been so busy, I will give some context.  Oh this does tie in with one of the things my care co-ordinator helped me with before I was discharged.

Something I had begun to realise very early on during my counselling was that living at home with my dad and being around my parents in general, my mindset and often behaviour, was very much that of a teenager.  I absolutely hate it.  Then about a month or so later, dad went into hospital for heart surgery, he had a valve replaced.  The operation went well, though he had a bit of a scare after it, when a build up of fluid made it seem as though he was having a heart attack.  Apparently this fluid is quite common.  Anyway, when he came home, he informed both myself and my sister that he had would be getting married next year and that he and his now fiancĂ©e would be moving to another area.

I was happy for them both, but there was a bit of apprehension on my part, not because of their getting married, it was to do with the fact that it meant I would be moving too.  Now you have to note that at this point I still hadn't even been passed the end of my street in any way shape or form, so I did feel quite a bit anxious.  They both told me that I would have a home with them, very kind and generous for them to offer.  Over the next few months my steady growing confidence in how I began to feel, coupled with the acknowledgement of the mindset I had, really made me think about what I wanted, that I did not want to move into a house with a newly married couple and that I no longer could put with how living with dad makes me feel.  It also didn't make me feel good about myself in general, that someone my age was still living at home, even if for pretty good reasons.  I knew I had to make changes to rectify this, to get my independence.

Speaking with my MIND mentor, she told me that they may be able to help as they have semi supported living accommodation for those looking to transition and gain their independence.  I filled the form in and waited.  In the meantime, my care co-ordinator had referred me to Sanctuary housing for a housing support officer, someone to help me making transitions and not just with housing, but other things like eventually working.  So for the past few months, this is what I've been doing, filling forms, many many many forms with various charities to try and get myself housing.  All this was extra impetus in my quest to get myself out.  I heard back from MIND and was given an interview to see how suitable I would be for housing.  A couple of weeks after my interview they let me know I was first on the list and would have first refusal of any flat which became available.  I was still applying for others in the meantime.  I did see one flat with MIND back in August, but for me it was too out of the way and quiet, something I've had way too much of, so I turned it down.

However, I am happy to announce that another flat through MIND was becoming available and one which today I signed the tenancy for, a 2 year tenancy and I will be collecting the keys for on Monday. :)


For over a month I've been sorting stuff out for the move, on top of my re-starting my studies and continuing to get myself out.  Oh and I managed to get to my first tutorial a couple of weeks ago, with support, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, after initial anxiety and fluctuating anxiety during.  Looking forward to the next one in December.

My life is beginning to turn and in a direction I couldn't have contemplated at the beginning of the year.  Things are happening, I have plans, exciting ones for me.  My aim is to change the title of this blog within 18 months.

Pictures will be up in a couple of weeks once I am settled in my own place.

Laters... :)

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Info of my past 7 months

Howdy! Ciao, bonjour, hello, hola, G'day......

Well it has been almost 7 months since I last posted anything about me and you may or may not be wondering about what I've been up to or what has happened during these intervening months.  It's a mixed bag of nothing and lots of stuff.  I'll try to explain in as brief way I can, a summation rather than a day by day account, which, let's be frank, yes frank not Bill or Timmy or Kenny, would be very dull.

Not long after my last post I had a really bad IBS flair up.  It was the worst one I've ever had.  It started with stomach cramps, then feeling extremely bloated and nauseous.  I then began to feel hot and really anxious.  Next I felt I needed the loo quite desperately, which turned into me not being able to remove myself from it from around 4pm until almost midnight.  Through those 8 or so hours I just kept producing industrial amounts of belching and farting, which had no relief what so ever, I was going from feeling hot to then shivering cold and back to sweating again.  The whole experience to a lot out of me.  For a few days after I pretty much ate nothing as I was still feeling ill.  Since this episode I have really started from the beginning again regarding my diet and my eating.  With the help of an NHS dietician, who visits me at home, I have been able to control my IBS, things are much more comfortable, I am feeling more human, less lethargic, stomach cramps and bloating have decreased a fair bit, though i still produce more burps per day than anyone should, so should I be meeting any of you who are reading this, I do apologise in advance.  It's something I can't help.  How much I actually eat in a meal became tiny, less than child portions, half a slice of bread with margarine and a third of a tin of tuna with a bit of lettuce.  I have been slowly increasing since then and now I'm a tiny bit away from a full sarnie.  I'm going to continue over the next few months until I can eat one and a half sandwiches, with a bag of crisps, a piece of fruit and maybe a cake or biscuit.  So subsequently I have continued to lose weight, hopefully I'll be going back in the right direction soon with increased calories.

The types of foods I can eat have changed.  I'm on a wheat free, gluten free, lactose free diet.  Which has helped me, but it is also much more expensive to buy.  A typical loaf of bread costs £1 for 800g, wheat/gluten free bread costs £3 for a 400-500g loaf.  My diet has also been quite restrictive too, but as of today, I'll be on a low FODMAP diet, essentially it's to do with the carbohydrates within foods and the ones which are known to cause the bloating in the guts. This is across all foods, from fruit, veg, condiments, starchy foods, etc...

Here's a link to Kings College London which explains it more in detail if you're interested

It means I can begin to vary my diet, woo hoo!  Maybe a little normalcy added to my life.

Well this is one of my support avenues which has been a great.  One which was frankly shit, was my local mental health team and my care co-ordinator/social worker.

I was referred to the team in the December of last year and was assigned a care co-ordinator in the January.  She visited me that month, once, I spoke to her the phone about 6 weeks later, after I called them, then I had no communication from them for months.  I decided to phone again to find out what was going on.  I manage to just catch her the week she is leaving her post.  It then took me 3 months of continual phone calling to get myself assigned to someone else.  My new one, was helpful from the start, even admitting to me that the team had been, what she said politely had been slack.  I was getting referred for other avenues of help.

Now I should explain that in the intervening months of my waiting around to hear from the mental health team and after being told by the IAPT CBT therapist I was going to be referred for long term psychotherapy/counselling, I decided to pay for my own counselling.  I pay £35 per session once every 2 weeks, not a small sum for me, but it's the best money I have spent, ever.  I think I have now been seeing my therapist, who visits me at home, for around 5-6 months.  I have worked so much stuff out, things that have been plaguing my thoughts, ones which I've been ruminating, never until now being able to stop the cycle of destructive thinking/anxiety inducing/worry/stress.  During these months it's been like fog slowly dissipating, allowing me to think clearly and also to not think so much.  This therapy coupled with my mentor from M.I.N.D, who has been absolutely brilliant in helping me to gaining confidence about walking to the end of my road quite comfortably (she's training to be a counsellor herself and I think will be a fantastic one) and the dietary help lessening my IBS has made things easier for me to be able to tackle my agoraphobia.

3 months ago I took my first car passenger drive, beyond my street with my sister, in over 5 years.  We only went a very short distance, but it felt really great.  Since then dad has taken me most days during the week, mum has taken me out a few times and so has my sister.  I am able to be out for longer and the distance is slowly getting further.  This isn't to say I still don't find it difficult, because I do, however, not like before.
Here's a couple of photos I took,

I am slowly but surely gaining confidence within myself and beginning to actually feel pretty happy about myself, something I haven't felt in a very long time.  Things are changing for me, not without struggles, but changing.  I am back with a new vigour for studying to complete my degree with the Open University, this took a fair bit of form filling filling and appeals to get my funding for my modules, but I have them all in place now.  Study has now begun.  

Oh yeah, I side tracked myself from telling you about the care co-ordinator... Well a few weeks ago, after being referred for a couple of things, one I won't tell you about this time, I will in my next post, because it's about something that's in a process of happening and I'd rather say when it's definitely happening.  The other referral was for the Eating Disorder Service, this was because of my weight, I think she believed of was bulimic or purposefully anorexic, which presently my weight is in that category.  I did the assessment for that last week and because I have the dietician and counselling that's working for me, they don't feel there's anything else they can do for me at this stage.  Anyway, my care co-ordinator discharged me from the mental health team.  Why? you may ask.... well because i am receiving help which I found for myself, they feel there's nothing else they can do for me, also because I have been on their client list for almost 10 months they wanted me off the books.  Which hasn't been helpful for me regarding this something I'll write about in my next post.

Anyway.... that's pretty much most of it.  As I said at the beginning a lot of nothing and a lot of something.