Anxiety · Medication · Therapy · Updates

New meds, a goodbye and the anxious interim

So things have been hectic the past few weeks, and will be hectic for another while, which I will talk about if if if things all work out.

I say if because last Thursday I saw my CPN and psychiatrist and was told I’m currently not doing well enough to go to university. I was told I have two weeks to Turn Things Around, because the way things stand at the minute, I won’t cope with the course. Needless to say, I’m bricking it.

We stopped the thorazine. I couldn’t take it as prescribed (up to 100mg/day, 25mg as needed) because it was far, far to sedating the few times I did. When I tried taking 50mg at night (with a view to working up to take my prescribed 100mg/day), I had that horrible medication hangover, shuffling the thorazine shuffle til early afternoon the next day. CPN tuts and sighs and shakes her head and decides I need an urgent psych review. Psych shakes his head sympathetically and says “that won’t do”. So he suggests Olanzapine. Starting at 2.5mg for 3 days, then 5mg, then 7.5mg if needed. It should take the edge of. He tells me it’s a far better drug that thorazine, that weight gain is a small price to pay if it will give me peace of mind. I am desperate, so I agree.

He tells me that sometimes people need something else alongside the lithium to stay well. He tells me this is all trial and error. It is. Psych med #17. Combination #godknowswhat. So far, lithium has been my miracle mood drug, now we just need to get the anxiety under control. We also talked about CBT- the consultant recommending it for when I begin at uni, and after focusing on a few CBT worksheets with my therapist in the past few sessions and finding them to be really helpful, I’m really hoping this will be possible if I can get my mental health care transferred to the new trust. Treating anxiety isn’t all about the meds. As my therapist said, the chain of thought/feeling/emotion/behaviour is broken if I change the thought, the root. I just don’t know how to do that yet.

I am due to see my psych again tomorrow. I am very, very thankful for my proactive CPN, for having a psych that is taking the anxiety so seriously and (despite his tardiness) is keen to help. It’s a pleasant change having a care team that are keen to give care!

Last week I also said goodbye to my private therapist of five and a half years. I was a very broken, very depressed 17 year old when I first saw him. I still remember the day my head of year called over to her classroom, the grin on her face as she told me she had a friend who was a therapist that was willing to take on my case. I remember feeling tentative, wary, unsure. I couldn’t share her excitement. I was too afraid of it falling apart before it even happened. But I agreed to go and mum agreed to take me and he was the very last thread of hope I was willing to cling to and for the next 2, 3 years, he was my lifeline, every Friday at 4pm.

I’d only seen him a handful of times over the past two years- a while ago we agreed to kind of just have a catch up session every couple of months, but last week I did the whole card/goodbye hug thing. It was a good session, a nice goodbye. I remember thinking all those years ago that I could never possibly say goodbye, but I grew up, became more able to put the things we worked on into practice. Came to learn things about myself that have helped me move forward. So it was nice ending it. It felt positive, like the end of a hard chapter and the start of something new. New obviously doesn’t have to mean ‘better’, and the reality of the whole bipolar thing means relapses are possible, but I feel more able to cope now, and I feel that all the years of therapy, combined with these past few months of stability have helped create a more solid foundation. I feel more capable. I am very thankful that he came into my life at just the right time.

My (old) therapist said some lovely things, the one which has made me smile the most being that I have no idea how many people I’ve helped indirectly. He trains new therapists and runs counselling courses, and a few years back he asked for my permission to use my ‘story’ for teaching material. He said I’d taught him a LOT, and that was a huge, huge compliment. It makes me really happy to know that other people have maybe been helped by me indirectly. It’s a ripple effect, isn’t it? I teach him, he teaches other therapists who help their patients. It’s bizarre and really flattering to think that little ol’ me has made a small difference. And it makes me feel good, like all of this pain, all of my struggles have been worthwhile, for they are helping others. And really, that’s why this university place means so much to me. I just want to give back to others what so many therapists and nurses and doctors have given to me over the years.

By the end of this week I will hopefully have a clearer idea of what’s happening, but for now, I remain riddled with anxiety. My hands are dry and cracked and sore- another manifestation of anxiety, and my chest is tight and I have that horrible churning stomach feeling almost perpetually. I feel pretty awful, incredibly stressed, unbearably anxious, but despite it all, somehow, I am feeling quite ok.

(I realise some of this sounds really big headed but oh wellll)



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