Dating anxieties

June this year was the last time I had purged. Until today that is. Still, five months is the longest I’ve gone since 2008, when this all started.

I can identify anxiety as the trigger for this. Dating for the first time would make anyone anxious. So for someone who has social anxiety, dating is quite high up there on the list of challenging scenarios that would rather be avoided. And oh have I been tempted to avoid.

I’ve been out four times with this guy. There are times when I think to myself it would be so much easier to not date him nor anyone else to avoid the anxiety that each date brings. But on the other hand I’m not so keen on ending up forever alone either. Guess I’ll just have keep facing up to it to see how things go then. Ugh.

Poor verbal skills

We’re about to start embarking on fieldwork this semester as part of the OT course. We each go to three locations once; a hospital, an aged care home, and an Independent Living Centre. Initially I was quite excited at the opportunity. I suppose I still somewhat am. But after yesterday’s lecture and tutorial, I am also rather nervous and apprehensive about it. Questioning if I really am suited to becoming an OT or not.

The lecturer brought up that there are a number of us who are more confident and assertive and others who are more shy, quiet and reserved. Guess which category I fit into and which I’d like to fit into? He had one piece of advice for those of us who think we may be more of the shy, reserved type. I leaned forward in my chair, ready to take in what he had to say. “Get over it,” were his exact words. Great. Thanks for that. As people started chuckling (probably the confident ones I’d say), the lecturer exclaimed to us, “I’m serious.” We were advised to seek help from the university counselling service or contact the lecturers of the School of OT to learn more assertiveness, but essentially to ‘get over it.’ The importance of being able to communicate well as an OT was emphasised to us as ‘all we do is talk.’ We were warned about third years who were terminated from fieldwork because they just couldn’t communicate.

I find it very difficult to speak up and offer my views or ask questions for the fear of appearing completely stupid and foolish, utterly wrong, being told off because I should know this, or being reprimanded for not studying enough because I don’t know something. That’s when I have something to say. A lot of the time I don’t. Really, I don’t posses the wit and quick mindedness that I so envy in other people and am in awe of. When fired with a question they hit right back with a confident and long enough answer that flows. Me? I stutter and stumble, um and ahh through a response which consist of a jumble of words that only half make sense. That’s when I’m asked a question. When queried as to whether I have any questions for them, I usually shake my head no. I lack confidence, I’m passive and meek, and afraid of asking something they’ve already explained/I should already know. The other reason then is again, I don’t have that ability to think on the spot and so don’t have intelligent questions formed in my mind.

I’m starting to question my suitability as an OT when I have such poor verbal communication skills. Not to mention we’ll also have to do manual handling, being able to push clients up or down a stair. A challenge for me; a small-built, weak Asian girl. Another hurdle we’ve been advised we must “get over [it],” as said by our tutor, quoting the aforementioned lecturer.

I want to leave.

Breakfast started off with another patient verbally attacking me. The same one who had a problem with me in group a couple of days ago. This morning she turned around and glared at me while I was in a conversation with another patient. She started saying something which I couldn’t comprehend. I was then accused of giggling at her. “No, I didn’t even do anything, I was just talking to J,” I defended myself. It was an unpleasant shock to discover someone has such a problem with me. I’m a quiet, meek person and I don’t usually find people have such strong dislike for me. As a result of this incident, I was reduced to a shaky mess and close to tears. Later on a nurse explained to me that it’s not my problem, she’s done this to other patients and nurses, she has schizophrenia and her behaviour is a result of her illness. Though it helps a bit to know this, it doesn’t stop me from being absolutely intimidated by her.

I attended art therapy group this morning. Apparently it wasn’t enough, as my nurse chided me, “It’s part of your treatment program,” when I didn’t attend the Optimal Health group. Instead I lay in bed out of exhaustion.

After two weeks of being in hospital, I’m really, really over being here. I want to leave, I want to leave, I want to leave. I am sick of being made to attend pointless groups. I do not appreciate being verbally attacked just for existing. My anxiety is worse as a result. I now feel as though everyone is judging me, hating me. Sharing a room with an eating disorder patient is not helping my own issues with purging.

I am a voluntary patient. I agreed to be admitted, I should be allowed to discharge myself. They have no reason to schedule me either. I’m displeased that Dr T didn’t turn up today like she said she would because it means at least another day before I tell her what I want to tell her: I. Want. To. Leave.

Now.

Coping with hospital

Twelve days now I’ve been here at H Clinic. I just feel drained. A couple of days ago I couldn’t handle the urge to self harm anymore. I managed to break off the blade of a sharpener. Made a cut on my arm. It’s not that deep, but deeper than the other cuts I’ve done on my arm in the past. Stupid stupid me. What happened to my resolve to never do it on such an obvious place as my arm?

Yesterday I was tempted to self discharge. Found it difficult to cope with being here in the clinic. This feeling was predominantly set off by a comment made by another patient in group.

I shake my leg repetitively when anxious. It’s just something I do to try to reduce that tension I’m feeling. Being in group isn’t the easiest at the best of times, and the fact that I was meeting with the Uni’s disability counsellor later in the day didn’t help my anxiety at all. And so, while in group, the woman sitting next to me made the comment to the entire room that she doesn’t like people shaking their legs. She even went so far as to use her folder to hold up to her face to shield me from her vision at one point. Another woman then put it out to the group that this is a mental health clinic and you do see a lot of [leg shaking] here. I was almost in tears and ready to leave the room right then. But I stayed until the end and as soon as group ended I bolted from the room and bawled.

I already have anxiety and social anxiety so having that comment made didn’t help at all. It served to make me insecure about what others and especially her think about me and apprehensive about attending groups.

I was dismayed to find the girl coming in whom I would next be sharing a room with has an eating disorder. I’ve spoken to her and she’s lovely, but two people with eating issues sharing a room? Really?! I walked out of the bathroom last night to hear her and the nurse talking about eating and purging. Couldn’t handle it so I walked out. I walk into the room again, I find her in the bathroom and I’m suspicious she’s been purging. Come today, and this time it’s me who’s throwing up the contents of my stomach down the toilet bowl. While my eating issues now are not nearly as bad as they used to be, I still do occasionally find myself purging what I’ve eaten. Which has happened three times in the twelve days I’ve been in hospital. So I don’t think it’s very good for either of us to be sharing the room, despite my not being on the ED program to seek treatment for it unlike her.

This morning I was still feeling fragile and found myself getting a bit emotional in art therapy. The afternoon was an improvement, as a friend came to visit, we went for a stroll and sat down to smoothies at a cafe.

Dr T came for a quick round today in the middle of my 5:30pm dinner and says she will be in to see me again tomorrow. My Pristiq has been increased to 100mg as of two days ago. Meanwhile I’m still unsure as to when I’ll be discharged. Fourteen days does seem rather long to have not slept in my own bed and eaten my mother’s home cooked meals. Hospital food has really lost its appeal to me.

Appointment yesterday

Yesterday I went for my appointment with R. I was asked whether I had heard from Dr T. The answer was ‘No.’ R then told me she hadn’t been contacted back either, and the assumption is that Dr T’s on holiday. Either that, or she can’t be bothered.

R then dropped the news that she would be away for three weeks and she’s fully booked next week. This means I will not see her at all during the month of May and my next appointment is scheduled on the 4th of June. I’ve since realised that is the weekend before the commencement of my exams, thus I will need to cancel.

I was given the DASS questionnaire to complete, identical to the one I filled in when I first started seeing her. Anxiety was about the same compared to last time, stress had gone up a bit from ‘normal’ to ‘moderate’ and depression had jumped to the ‘extremely severe’ range. I was told she would send a progress report to Dr T, notify her that she would be away for three weeks and attempt to get in touch with her again to see what the options are and whether she agrees I should be admitted to hospital.

R consulted me as to whether I’d be okay with sending off a referral to the social anxiety group program she had previously mentioned. I responded something along the lines of ‘I don’t care’ and right now it ‘feels pointless.’ It’s difficult to find the motivation to want to conquer my social anxiety when I’m overcome with misery and just trying to get through the day. She’s sent off the referral anyway advising me that if I don’t feel it’s the right time I can just say no and ask to stay on the waiting list.

Tears had been silently falling at intervals throughout the session, but towards the end there was a spectacular show of me bawling my eyes out. Crying in despair as I had been holding on until this session, I’m going to be left without support for the next month, so now what am I to do? She told me she was concerned. Still, that didn’t stop her from kicking me out of her office, as time was up and her next client was waiting. I was told that if she has a cancellation next week she’d offer me the appointment time.

R gave me the business card of her colleague, whom I could call while she was away. Right. I’m unable to call even her if I’m in a crisis, what makes her think I’d be able to call a complete stranger, who doesn’t receive payment from me, and thus has no obligation to speak to me? I was also given R’s email, as she said she’d still be checking it even when she’s on holiday.

I’m hoping Dr T is back in office this week and hanging on for the possibility of more support. And if not…hmm…

Pdoc appointment, tears and more tears

I am absolutely disgusted with myself for doing this. Cringing with embarrassment just thinking about it. I know, lots of people cry in their psychologist or psychiatrist appointments. I could excuse myself if I had a justifiable reason to cry, as I did last August when I had an appointment with my psychiatrist right after I was discharged from the ED. But this, this was just pathetic. I was asked by Dr T how my mood has been. In response I said, “Not that good…” She inquired as to why. I answered that I was feeling alone and like no one cares, and promptly started tearing up. Stupidstupidstupid. I will endeavour not to display such vulnerability for something so trivial in the future. In addition to the tears, I also said more than I should have. Something along the lines of what I wrote in this post. Just to add to my mortification.

Towards the end of the session, Dr T spoke of the issues of being stuck, turning to those old behaviours of overdosing and self harming, the fact that she nor anyone else can make me stop self harming- you can put someone in hospital but eventually they’ll have to leave, medication can only do so much, I have to choose to want to help myself and I have to believe that things can change- all of which can’t happen if I’m dead. To which I responded that it’s hard to believe things can be different when it’s been this way for so so long and that I have no incentive to change these self destructive behaviours- I don’t care enough about myself to do that. A discussion that has generated lots and lots of tears as I’ve ruminated on it throughout the day. Why must this be so gosh damn freakin’ difficult???? :( :( :(

Last appointment with my psychologist R, she suggested attending a social anxiety group therapy program run by a colleague of hers. The program is apparently ‘really good.’ I mentioned this to Dr T today and she was rather keen on the idea. Refer to this group, refer to that group, don’t hear from this group, don’t hear from that group… Hmm…

I was asked by Dr T if R and I had discussed payment options after I’ve used up my allowance of eighteen subsidised sessions per annum, courtesy of Medicare. Umm no, I assumed that I’d just stop seeing her, until at least next year…

Upon presenting at the reception for payment, Dr T’s secretary informed me that my GP referral expires on the 28th of May. Having never stuck to a psychiatrist or psychologist for more than a year prior to this (heh), I wasn’t aware that GP referrals for a specialist are only valid for a year. Which is great because the GP I saw last year has moved practices, and seeing a new GP for mental health issues is always really fun. Though my Uni does have GPs, and Dr T has given me the names of two who are apparently good, and good with mental health issues too.

But geez, a year… One year has passed and I’ve made what feels like, and probably is, zero progress. That’s a fun realisation to make…

!

OT: Week 3, Semester 1

Whilst chatting in our groups in my Health & Occupation class, a fellow student reported that she’s starting on prac next week. She revealed one of her placements is at P Clinic and proclaimed, “I don’t even know what it is.” “It’s a mental health clinic,” I informed her. My friend has been admitted there a number of times, and though that’s not where I was an inpatient in December 2010, the first psychiatrist I saw practised in the consulting rooms adjoining P Clinic.

This got me thinking. How extremely awkward would it be if I came crossed paths with a fellow OT student, with them on prac and me as a psychiatric patient? I didn’t come across any OT students in the psych ward last year, but that’s because I was there during Uni holidays, just days before Christmas. During Uni semesters however is a different story. Oh well, I doubt my chances of being admitted to a psychiatric hospital again are very large anyway. And I could always just avoid the OT activities. Because let’s face it, pinning sequins to foam baubles is an activity I could do without…and incidentally I did engage in that particular craft in class when I was in um, Year 4. I’d like to think my cognitive abilities have improved a little bit since then.

Speaking of being an OT student, I don’t think I’m cut out to be a health professional. Which is nothing new. But I just don’t know how I’m going to get through this four year degree. Readings, assignments, tests, exams, study, learning, writing, memorizing… Which requires attention, motivation, time, energy, concentration, ARGH. Furthermore, I can’t imagine ever becoming professional enough to BE a professional.

Oh yeah, and three weeks into the semester, socially inept me has not made many friends at all. This week; two out of two lectures I sat alone, two out of two labs I did sit with people, but only because the desks were arranged in groups, and only one tutorial did I actually have a friend to sit with. Oh, and between classes in my breaks I’m also all by my lonesome. Which is making the Uni experience really enjoyable.

Part of the problem is that I don’t feel I have anything interesting to add to the conversation, and I don’t think I have all that much in common with the people in my classes. You love going to music concerts? Cool…I’ve never been to any. But it’s partly my fault too. I’ve not been making all that much effort, it’s my third time being a first year Uni student and I’m a little bit over it. Then there’s the social insecurities. I can’t help thinking that they don’t want me there, I’m imposing on them, they think I’m a boring person who has nothing to say, etc etc. And so I find myself avoiding the situation altogether and keeping to myself much of the time.