Archive for category Self harm

Sock Monkeys (Everything is shit)

Is it shit? Or is it me?

I have a tendency to think everything is shit/I am shit/life is shit/shitshitshit.

I have re-written this post five times because my writing is shit.

I gave up at my attempt at an very needed conversation with my mum about what was going on inside my head because what I think is all shit.

I have not written any stories or poems since the end of my degree because everyone else is better than me and I am shit.

I am convinced everyone I love will eventually hate me because I am innately shit.

I do not send people letters I write (after a promise of old style pen-pals) because anything I have to say is shit.

I give up on therapy because I think my therapist thinks I am a shit.

I did not want to make a blog post about the sock monkeys I have been making, because I am shit.

(sorry for the slightly out of focus images. I have shakey mad-person hands..thank you psych meds, thank you…yes, once again, it is because of the meds!)

So, today I am giving a large Fuck You to my crappy ‘everything is shit’ self confidence issues.

I am very aware that my ‘it is all shit, I am bollocks’ mind set will lead me no where expect, possibly, to a career as a speed bump much like Raymond. I do not want that. I know so many people feel like this – for me, sock monkeys have helped..not because I think I am good at it, but because it keeps me too busy to listen to my head. I generally send the stuff I make to friends (the neglected pen pals) and that helps too – because it makes other people happy, I like doing that.

In therapy you occasionally get sent ‘review letters’ which are pretty much school reports for mad people. Mine generally read something like ‘tries hard, talks too much, has self confidence issues’. Every time. I started crafting, not to be good at it, but I found I need to keep my hands busy. If I sew/knit/make cards/bead/embroider/draw my hands and mind are not so free to strave/binge/purge/cut/explode. It sounds obvious and simple doesn’t it? When I entered therapy at 14 I did art therapy, and since then I have been in so many art and craft classes. When I was inpatient in hospital I loved the creative writing and art groups..and they were main reason I complied with my treatment plan. During my most recent hospitalization I panicked and cried while in a large room of loud strangers (something I never do) purely due to the promise of Fimo. Why? Because I like it and it helps.

The reason I have only just (after nine long years) realised I can carry this into my not-in-therapy free time is all down my ‘you are shit at all the stuff’ imp that sits on my shoulder. Without a kindly therapist telling me I was doing well & being kind to me I could not tolerate the idea of trying.

I am trying to change that. With sock monkeys, sock zebras and other crafty things. It sounds so small doesn’t it?

But really – it is pretty big. I would advocate this to anyone. Make things, even if you think you are shit at it, it may help.

My Fimo is nearly cooked.

I am on a roll.

I have always been shy, sensitive and a little mad, I do not think that will change really. I may never become a brilliant positive person with bags of self confidence..but I think I may be able to live alongside my ‘everything is shit’ imp rather than let it cripple me. A therapy quote, I have one: Self acceptance is more helpful that total transformations. I do so very much believe that.

(Ps: blame any spelling mistakes on the meds. Yes. yet again)

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Seasonal Socks & their implications on my Mental Health.

This post comes post a large unjustified identity crisis and a great deal of panic at the Bad Robbers who were not at the door (eventually proven by Brave Boy who unlocked the door) so if it is a bit discombobulated and confused please write to my cpn at

CPN name of choice
CPN housing
CPN Villiage
Mental illness aid land
H31P M31

and ask for an increase in my don’t-bo-so-paranoid pills and the don’t-panic-about-non-existent-Bad-Robbers medication.

Thank you.  (whenever I write ‘thank you’ i think back to my prior self who thought thank you was one word and feel smug due to my improved literacy skills, I aim that one day the same will happen with my use of commas..and possible my ability to deviate from the topic of socks.)

Today, I purchased a pair of Easter themed socks…

A visual example to make this post more exciting

They are grey and pink and have easter eggs on them (which could also be ovals with spots and stripes in, but who am I to nit pick drawings?)

Anyway – the bottom line is that these were seasonal Easter socks, not just your run of the mill, every day socks.

I promise that this post have a point and I shall get there, but (in the style of ‘Miranda’) bear with, bear with!

This Christmas I purchased for myself and others, and in turn received, a large amount of Festive Christmas Socks…

Does this need a caption?

Mine had slightly psychotic looking Penguins with Santa hats and a candy cane on them. (and trust me, they really did look Psychotic, I should know).

I also have a pair of Birthday socks…

And I so WISH they were copies of that image, but I am not so lucky…mine have purple presents and cakes on. Be it not for the cakes, they could have been mistaken for Christmas socks, especially as my birthday is in December.

Lastly, I have Valentines socks…

I want one just like this...

I am proud of my sock collection. I mostly spend my days in dresses, as the Eating Disorder complain less loudly when I am buried in fabrics than held tightly by jeans..and thus my feet are often covered by tights. I do not let that small fact stop my sock enthusiams, no! I wear socks over my tights and if I do venture Outside Into The Scary I hide them with my big clomping DM’s.

Today as I was placing my Easter Egg socks into my shopping trolley and eyeing up the pjamas I do not need and could not afford I realised how much had changed….

I actually used to hate seasonal socks. With a passion.

I know, I was so wrong!

I thought it was a waste. I thought that people would only wear those socks once a year and it also made them appear overly happy people who would happily suck up to a materialistic, consumerist world view.

Yes, I was a teenager at the time. These days, now I am OLD and approaching the mid-twenties I realize I LIKE being sock-happy and I happily admit I am somewhat materialistic-in as much that I buy seasonal socks, creame eggs when they are at till points and any biscuits or food advertised in the breaks between the tense bits of CSI-and consumerist because I like all the above and spend money.

But, before, I was a bit scared of breaking my own sock rules…and so many other rules. Rules like…’I can not eat until 4pm’ ‘I can not stop washing my hands for 35 minuites on my phone timer’ ‘I must get 100%, A’s, Firsts or U’s, 0%, fails and nothing in between’ ‘I can not open a door’ ‘I can not eat chocolate without the mother of all binge purge sessions’ ‘I cannot think any nice things about myself’.

I do not know what came first, relaxing my sock type rules or the bigger scary ones – but what I do know is that I have made really progress, and I was able to identify that fact while sock shopping in Tesco. It may sound odd but I used to fear any positive progress, I wanted to be the most depressed, the most eating disordered, the most scarred, the most borderline, the most ill…and when I realized that would equate to the most dead I tried for that too.

I do not think like that any longer, or not often.

I will happily wear Christmas scary penguin socks in the summer…and while things to do with my illness are still very prominent in my life I do not want to be the ‘most’ or ‘worst’..or, perhaps the ‘best most worst’. My mental health is not a competition.

I dare whom ever reads this to buy some Easter socks and wear them in October, when there are no real exciting events..only the terrifying run up to fireworks night, which shall never be saluted with sock desgins as bangs and fire are very terrifying things.

Now, in homage to the humble sock I intend to inundate any readers with countless socky images..

Socky happiness

These are an uncomfortable necessity in a sock drawer

WORD FACT: I also recall the time when I accepted the fact a ‘drawer’ was drawer not jsut plain draw…such a confusing word day, but I learnt it.

WANT

It is a sock cake! I do not know who I have lived like without it.

I am now googling sock cakes further to see if these are things you can buy, or a deft example of how useful origami really is in modern life. (and proving to my younger self that materialistic tendencies and consumerism is okay if it ends in owning such an item…)

a possible wedding cake?

It seems to be mostly folding…and aimed as presents for young babies..bit I prefer the wedding cake idea..I think the boy would like something edible though, so maybe a mix of the two.

I am constantly surprised at the amount of words I am happily devoting to the subject of socks..

and, of course..I can not finish this post with out adding an image of sock animals, can I?

#

I think I know what I will be doing once I have finished my current knitting projects..

I am slightly sad they do not look more sock-ish though..but I am off to amazon to buy a hefty amount of socks for craft purposes.

I need an I love socks badge or something. Some people conquer elements of mental illness and find a higer power to believe in…I find socks.

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Yes, I hear voices (an essay of confused thoughts)

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.

Keats – Ode On A Grecian Urn


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Lovely Friends – Attempt Two

I deleted this because I wanted to first ask my lovely friend if it was okay to post. It feels like a dramatic step over into the overly personal..bits of my life that I tape iup, box up and only look at in safety. But, Nicoles comment (see first attempt) made me re-think. Honesty is important.

I set up this Blog because I wanted to draw stupid shit, make people smile and because I wanted to show that sufferers of significant mental health issues belonged and we not circus freaks. 

 

Lovely Friends

Everyone has Lovely Friends but I have been thinking recently a lot about mine. Aside from my sister I have a small but sturdy handful of utterly amazing friends.

Considering my return to the world in the form of an MA has caused a dramatic spike in memories of my Undergrad degree, as well as a lot of good, old fashioned nail biting contemplation.

Contemplation used to lead to a locked bathroom door and shameful, sad acts of violence towards myself. These days it leads to a overwhelming feeling of gratitude. I am more than enamored at this change in mindset and wanted to write a post a one of the reasons, or people, behind it.

My Old University

 

Emma T

I met Emma on my first day of University and I think I did a pretty epic job of freaking her the fuck out and considering hightailing the fuck out of our slightly odd smelling student housing.

I have not always had the stellar social skills I now own as a full time recluse and expert nutjob. Considering my return to the world in the form of an MA has caused a dramatic spike in memories of my Undergrad degree. I spoke too much and was anxious when I shouldn’t be. I was scared of the non-existant bearded men at my windows. I was reculse then in your face. I was strange. I was sad.

It was not easy, the degree was not easy. There were books, word counts, exams and portfolios. But I think the things around my degree were harder. There was the battle of my eating disorder, self harm, scary medical shit and psychosis.

Emma, the Boyfriend/make that fiancé and other-amazing-friend-who-shall-not-yet be named pulled me through the worst of everything, and the best.

Emma was there to dress up in stupid costumes for parties with, to drink tea with, to dance (badly, on my part) with. She was there to hand me whatever current cocktails or psych meds I was on. She was once the not-so-proud owner of my razor blades when I decided I was ‘quitting for real, this time’, she was there when I needed ambulances, when there was police, she sat up to stupid ‘o’clock in the morning in the waiting room of A&E god knows how many times.

Em drew me rabbits (and naked ladies) and together we decorated rooms for parties. She fed me Jamie Oliver food, and muffins I can never re-create (not for the want of nagging Boyfriend anyway!)

Em helped me cover up my illicit Bunny Rabbit purchase (RIP Geoffrey) and she pretended not to smoke outside with me and Boyfriend.

And somewhere in between picking me off the floor, finding herself, making her own friends, drinking tea, loving Jamie Oliver and pulling me up from some of the worst times in my life, ever, she managed to get a BA in Fine Art…

She drew, and drew, and painted and painted and threw ink and knitted and knitted and knitted and drew and knitted and spray painted and crocheted and painted and inked and sew and sew and sew and embroidered and knitted and knitted and drew…and she did fantastically.

I love and hate the space between my Undergrad and now. I hate it because it means Uni was just memories. I hate it because I miss it, I miss my friends. I miss mornings balancing tea on a kitchen table piled so high with books, art projects, half empty wine glasses and dead plants we never threw away – and being unable to balance the tea because the night before we had spent all night chatting or watching yet another film…or opening yet another bottle of wine, or playing more cards or colouring in kids books and covering the wall.

I love that space because I have watched my friends grow. I Em, as I always guessed she would, is amazing and doing the art thing while also doing a billion and one things I can’t keep up with. I love it because yet another series of Casualty has passed and Charlie Fairhead is still going strong. I love it because if time had not passed I would not be engaged to the most amazing BoyMan.

I am excited/terrified/hopeful about my MA and I am looking forward to new words, new skills and new friends – but no-one has friends like the ones I already have – and no-one has an arty, lovely, funny, sarcastic, strange Emma T like mine.

I write this mostly because I want the world/blog-o-sphere to know about my experiences. Mad people have friends. Mad people go to Uni. But also living with all this stuff, it is not easy on other people either. I do not think many people would take me on as a friend if they knew where it had taken Emma, Boyfriend and co. To be truthful I am positive that there have been times Emma and co have doubted their own decisions to remain in my life.

I do not do spoonfuls of sentiment often without the aid of Vodka.
I just wanted to air what was on my mind –and how I know how lucky I am to have someone who was willing to learn how to push a wheelchair for me!!  (in Wales –upward slopes abound)

This is my Emma T, with her fabulous and fantastic art (which she sells, like a clever bunny)

http://emmatann.wordpress.com/

and a sample of her art that she showed in an exhibition

Emma Tann

 

 

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Meet Simon, a prize tosser..(Fighting back against Eating Disorders)

Do you remeber playing Simon says as a child?

I didn’t win many friends when playing  because I can’t follow instructions. Or I won’t.

If a school- mate said ‘Simon says stand on one foot’ I’d immediately begin doing frenzied star jumps because I so desperation wanted to be different and stand out from the crowd. I was a annoying child.

In school reports I was often described as having ‘a great deal of willpower’ and ‘knowing my own mind’ which I think is politically correct teacher speak for ‘irritating shitty child’. (I now have this confirmed by my Sister who is a primary teacher in a inner city school).

At some point I changed. I begun listening too and following one voice that told me what to do. I did everything it siad and bowed to its will.

In my life Simon now says a lot of things..

Simon says I shouldn’t take 4 sugars in my tea.

Simon says I shouldn’t replace said sugar with sweetener because may make me grow seven limbs and ten eyes.

Simon says I shouldn’t eat fats or salt or..food

Simon says I should be a slave to calories

Simon says I should worry constantly about the scale, and use a number to define

Simon says I should be miserable and have no social life.

Simon says I should inflict harm to myself and try to extinguish my life.

At some point a childhood abilty to NOT do what was asked of me altered to an utter dedication to the eating disroder voice in my mind.

Simon is my eating disorder and Simon is a tosser.

I miss the child in me that was free, that was able to break away from the rules and regulations, that had an opinion and had people make opinions about her. No-one forms many opinions about me anymore, I have become defined by boxes, tick boxes, diagnostic labels. I do not know many people outside of Therapists anymore and they do not see me as anything more than a personified label.

I miss childhood games..

 

I know lots of people have a Simon in thier life.

He takes on many forms..Eating disorders,OCD, self harm, depression, pain, illness – any life event at all that drags you down and whispers things you do not want to hear in your ear.

I hope you can break free of Simon, kick him down and become a contrary child who star jumps when they are told to sit down and write sums.

[The caption that came into my head when I saw this was ‘don’t be a muttet, you are not his puppet! *snorts* maybe I should write for Hallmark..]

For me, part of loosing Simon, of kicking him down and shrugging him off, is to let myself do things I fear. Which is difficult, because I am scared of nearly everything..even dumb stuff like the remote possibility of the kettle exploding when I put it on to boil (it sounds as if it is in pain..) and the washing machine blowing up the house (boyfriend has done all my washing for the past four years, my phobia has actually paid off in that respect..)

One massive thing is my fear of succeeding.

During my Undergrad degree I was a mess. A massive mess. So much of a mess i ended up having a huge breakdown at the end of the year and notched up more stays in the emergency Psych ward than I care to recall. I would cry, publicly and snottily everytime I had to hand in an essay due to the fear it would be lost in the system or that there was last minute mistakes they would lose me a grade. Usually, I would do well..and usually the relief of getting a good mark would once more cause me to burst into inconsolable tears in the department corridor..oh, the tutors were confused (‘but you did well! who on earth are you sobbing!!??’)

Before I even begun my GSCEs I have wanted to take my academia to the next level and do not just a BA but an MA..

Simon said no.

Today I am saying

Screw You Simon 

You utter tool!

 

*snort* > screw, nail, tool…sex jokes *snorts*

But yes. Today I have begun to fill out my application to begin an MA in September.

My eating disorder wants me to stay rooted in this place, this place where going backwards is seductive because it is known, because there is comfort in suffering. Because I am scared.

I kept on thinking ‘when I am better I will continue learning’ ‘when I am better I will do what I want to do’ ‘when I am better I will have a life’

A realization came and slapped me in the face today, and it left a mark.

It was the knowladge that I need to work to get better. I need to move forwards..as a horribly humliating motivational work confrence once told me way back when I worked in retail

‘I need to be the change’

This sort of thing makes me want to vom in protest, but it is true

Me going back to learn stuff isn’t going to change the world, it isn’t going to have a profund effect on human suffering..but hopefully it will set things in motion so that I can be who I want to be and do what I want to in life..

I am firing my Simon.

Because he is boring, and eating disorders, self harm, depression..all this shit, it is all the same. I read so much stuff online from other people with the same, or similar, issues and they may as well be me typing..becuase eating disorder thoughts are not special or orginal. It is boring. It is misguided. It only leads to pain.

An Eating Disorder does not make you special

 

Please kick me if I try to give up.

And let me know if you have any Simon’s and how you are going to kick him in the face.

 

 

 

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Therapy woes and Personality Disorders

Not a happy bunny

I am not a happy bunny at the moment, although possibly less grumpy and more melancholic than the bunny in the picture. I do not know how to draw melancholy.

Some links that may help make this post make more sense – DSM for BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) DSM for Anorexia DSM for Bulimia DSM for EDNOS

The Eating Woman was not very helpful, although I am pretty sure it is a) my mindset toward treatment in general and b) the personality clash that seems to be going on, rather than any major wrong doing on her part. Nonetheless I have been sulking since I saw her and licking my (metaphorical) wounds..

Therapy is not easy, as I said in a previous post I saw my first therapist when I was 14 and have not really been ‘out of the system’ since then. Someone from an online forum today said to me it was hard when you have been in therapy since a young age as you are forced to take on a persona of a ‘miniature adult’ both in terms of responding to your immediate chaotic environment and in terms of beginning of the path to understanding yourself. I agree with this statement wholeheartedly, although I do feel I apply it too liberally to my own situation in an attempt to dampen down the more difficult parts of therapy…

Tips of Therapy (and BPD) from about.com

Why is it hard? Isn’t it just moaning about how you feel?

Yes, and no. I think that therapy is very much individual, even if you are under a specific ‘treatment programme’..therapists, also, be they psychologists, clinical nurses, psychiatrists or any other -ist, do seem to have their own expectations that they bring to the room. Even in behavioural therapies, such as cognitive (CBT) or dialectal (DBT) seem to vary from clinician to clinician and I think this is appropaite but slightly confusing. I spent nearly 24 months in a DBT treatment group while I was studying for my BA and the group would change significantly depending on which group leader was in charge. It always surprised me that this used to alter the atmosphere of the room more than the emotions of the ‘service users’..(other mad people in the group)..I suppose I adopted an ‘us against them’ mentality and thought our emotional distress would sway the agenda much more than the planning of a trained therapist.

I think that therapists often know a lot more than the ‘client’ thinks they do..and also has a much greater role in a grop context. It has always surprised me when I have had an opportunity to see my notes (not a very nice experience)…I think when you have been in therapy for a long time you (well, me) tends to think they already know what the shrink/doctor/whatever is going to think..this is wrong, contray to my understanding therapists are not robots, but actual people with minds of there own.

Well, that was a bit of a directionless rant wasn’t it?

I am lost in therapy at the moment because I am considered ‘complex’ with many ‘co-morbid’ psychiatric diagnoses.

The main aim of any therapy I have ever been in is to focus on my Eating Disorder, probably because it has the most physical health issues directly attached to it. I have also been labelled with Emotional Unstable Personality Disorder, more commonly known as Borderline Personality Disorder (EUP or BPD)..

As a population, patients with BPD are more likely than Joe Blogs to develop an ED, with 21.7% developing Anorexia Nervosa and 24% developing Bulimia Nervosa..(I beleive that the percentage of people with EDNOS..eating disorder not otherwise specified…would be even higher, but unfortunately this is still not as well known or respected as a concreated diagnoses as ‘pure’ ED’s) Info and statistics from about.com

It is a commonly debated chicken-or-egg type problem..if someone has BPD and an ED..which do you treat first?

I, personally, would like more of a focus on what, supposedly, translates as my BPD symptoms, as I think if the thoughts, the anxiety and my general lack of abiltiy to be normal is made magically ‘all better’ or at least just..slightly altered for the better..I may then be able to think more openly about letting go of my ED, which is my most prevelant coping mechanism. (I do wonder if this is just me using excuses because I am too scared though.)

Anyway, I think therapy is an interesting topic to input into Google. I am always interested in any changes that are made in treatment or any new articles that are released. I love hearing other peoples experiences of therapy, treatment and what works and what doesn’t.

Dr D, my current ED Psych (Eating disorder psychologist) constantly tells me I am being ‘treatment resistant’ in both talk therapy and because I seem largely unaffected by even gross amounts of medication. I think the medication thing is very common in people with underlying BPD and personality disorders as a whole. I agree with the element about medication but I do think she is wrong, to an extent, about the eating disorder. I am not anti-recovery..I am just scared, and feel like If I launch into good ship ‘meal plan’ and ‘weight restoration’ at the moment all my big-bad feelings that I beat down using my ED will come and bash me and leave me in a heap on the floor unable to move. I do understand that this view point is pretty contrary, there are so many people out there that are so pro-recovery, and I do not dismiss that or think it is a bad thing, I have the greatest respect for anyone who has taken on an Eating Disorder and won, it must be such a hard and unforgiving fight..but, I just do not feel as if I have the inner resources or i suppose, the hope, to embark on that perilous journey yet. I suppose I am a big wuss.

I cannot really imagine myself outside of the realm of mental illness. I have had a lot of therapy and I am sure it is my fault, not the fault of anyone clinician or therapist that I have not yet won this war..like I said, I am not a happy bunny at the moment and I think the overall atmosphere of this post reflects that..what I say now is not necessarily very indicative of my general attitude, I get very frustrated that my viewpoint on things and the amount of hope I harbor differs so very dramatically. Depression and the utter fight it takes to even get out of new newly decorated bed is exhausting, this is not always so.

I very much feel for anyone currently struggling with depression, eating disorders or any other mental-wonkyness…or even just plain old, run of the mill discontent. I am lucky to have a good support team; as I said before I have a very good CPN, an ED Pysch who makes me go and feel miserable (which I think does me good) an Eating Disorder Dietitian, a psychiatrist and a very supportive boyfriend/fiance and family. I know I am one of the lucky ones..but, still, it is difficult.

Sirius Project < if you have not encountered this website before it provides very good, clear information on BPD, self harm, ED’s and other mental health issues, I like it as it is very clearly written, check it out.

I am trying to find other Blog’s that deal with similar issues that I am facing, I know there are many out there so if you read this feel free to plug yours or others that you like.

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Getting on my soapbox, Self harm and Eating Disorders

 

I do not usually get on my high horse and my soap box is generally banished to a dark, spider web infested corner but I feel I have to make a Blog post about this topic;

Doctors and mental illness/self harm/eating disorders.

I belong to a few online communities that deal with self harm and eating disorders. Today i logged on and there were two messages from very good friends, one struggles with self harm and the other with bulimia.

My friend who self harms recently ended up in A&E, needed stitches for her wounds but was told, by a doctor, that ‘people like you don’t need stitches’.

The girl with bulimia is on medication for an allergy. Her mother went behind her back to her GP, concerned about her weight loss and her GP prescribed her a different allergy medication where the most common side effect is weight gain.

I am going to write about these two incidents seperatly but I think they are equally awful and show that, whatever progress that the medical community has made, both frontline medics like A&E doctors and family GP’s need to receive further training. Self harm and eating disorders are both ‘passed off’ as ‘phases’ or ‘fads’. They are both serious symptoms of underlying mental illness and both can and do have very serious medical complications – that is ignoring the suffering of the person dealing with these issues.

Firstly, self harm. It is not ‘trendy’. It is not a teenage ‘phase’. Self harm is a coping skill, a bad one, yes, but a method of coping used, unfortunately, by a very varied demographic. It is not just teenagers, I personally know people in their 40’s. 50’s even 60’s who struggle with self harm. It is not just a ‘cool thing’ that teenagers experiment with, it is a symptom of  an underlying issue.

It is very rarely done for attention, most self harmers go to great lengths to hide their activites. Most are ashamed, scared and feel alone, which is why it is a problem of a much larger scale then actually seen in A&E. If a self harmer has the courage to actually go to seek treatment for their wounds then they should be supported and encouraged, not shot down. Even IF it is an attention seeking act (because I would be naive to say this never happens) surely the origins of the need for attention should be looked at? If somebody is hurting so much inside they come to A&E claiming, for example, they have taken an overdose and it turns out they have not, surely doctors should be more concered about the origins of this lie than the fact that their time has been taken up? Nobody craves negative attention over positive attention unless there is something wrong, so even acts that appear to be ‘attention seeking’ signal to some kind of problem on an emotional level.

I do not understand why a self harmer is seen as undeserving of help. If people were to apply this warped and discriminatory logic to all health conditions then there would be a much higher death rate amongst the general population.

Yes, a self harmer picks up a ‘tool’ and afflicts damage to themselves. ( I loathe to use the word ‘cut’ as although that is the most common cause of self harm it is not the only one, there are many, many different methods opf self harming which all points to the same level of emotional turbulence and an inability to cope with stressors and day to day events.) However, a type one diabetic may skip his/her insulin because they are tired of having to constantly monitor what they eat/their activity levels – when they are unconscious in A&E due to a hypoglycaemic episode or having keytones they are not viewed as time wasters. It is a fact (and I can dig out the published study) that most admissions to A&E and subsequent moves to medical wards for type one diabetics is caused by an ignorance or mishandling of their condition…so how are self harmers all that different?

Alcoholism is now, thankfully, widely accepted as a disease and a patient suffering from acute alcohol withdrawal is not as likely to come across judgemental nurses/doctors or to find themselves refused care as self harmers. (This observation has been made by talking to self harmers who also suffer with alcohol misuse issues/ online communities dealing with alcohol misuse and through my own first hand experiences of a working A&E department.)

Everybody has a right to medical treatment and care. A self harmer has as much right to self-present at A&E, or even call for an ambulance if needed, as a patient suffering from psychosis, breathing difficulties or any medical complaint.

If a self harmer who needs stitches/medical care does not go to A&E they pose a serious risk of infection and could then find themselves being in need of more serious and time consuming medical intervention than if they went in the first place. If the doctor in question, who decided my friend was ‘seeking attention’ in needing her wounds looked at did not know she was a self harmer would she have been treated differently? Yes. If she has come by the wound via a ‘real’ accident she would have been given more medical care and attention than she did receive. Even if doctors do not want to pay attention to the emotional needs of a patient than the wound should be viewed in isolation, with the same risk assessment and infection management rules applying as with any patient.

Also, A&E is a ‘first response’ unit for psychological crisis’s. If someone feel like harming themselves or ending their life and are not already in contact with the mental health services then their first port of call in A&E. Even if a patient does already receive input from a local mental health team they will often be referred to A&E because CPN’s/psychologists cannot often make emergency appointments or admit patients to a ward without going through the emergency psych team connected to A&E. Therefore this is a KNOWN part of the job. Doctors/nurses/HCA’s should be more adequately trained in mental illness, ranging from self harm to how to deal with a panic attack or psychosis because they are going to encounter it often, possibly multiple times in a day.

I can recognize how it is easy to become jaded. Self harm is selfish, it doesn’t really help and yes, it does take a long time to give stitches to somebody who may possibly go and make another, similar wound within days or hours or treatment – but that shouldn’t be a reason to deny treatment, ever.

If an idvidiual is repeatedly self harming and repeatedly presenting at A&E and needing time intensive treatment it probably does get irritating. There was a time in my life, and it wasn’t that long ago, where I was on first name terms with the receptionist at my local A&E. I was very ill at that point and I wasn’t trying to put doctors out or annoy them – I simply was trying to stay alive. (I realise that it may seem counterproductive but for most self harmers the act of harming oneself is not a suicide attempt, it is a method used to try and keep alive.)

I was very ashamed of my actions and embarrassed but I could not curtail my behaviour. It was not something I was in control of. When I am ill I do not expect tea, sympathy and fluffy bunnies and neither, i think, do any self harmers. I do not go to A&E looking for a pat on the head or a cuddle or for someone to feel sorry for me, I go because I have a medical issue that needs addressing urgently. A doctor who refuses to treat a patient does not help. It simply puts suffers off seeking aid when they require it which increases the chance of infection, or any progress being made, of sufferers receiving help from the psych team, and can, in cases, heighten the change of fatality from wounds or injuries.

My friend is writing a complaint to the A&E department that was involved in her ‘care’. I strongly advise anyone who experiences anything like this to do the same. The medical population as well as the general population need educating about these issues.

I could write about this for ages – I know professionals often raise other points such as ‘why reduce scarring on someone who already has many scar’ and if anyone is interested I am happy to give my opinions on this matter – but from here on it gets very opinion based and (although I am not good at it) I wanted to keep this post as concise as possible in the hope people will take my points on board.

 

Now, my friend whose GP gave her medication that would cause weight gain.

To me this demonstrates a massive lack of understanding about the fact that eating disorders are a mental illness. It is a pathological fear of weight gain and of food that means that individuals engage in behaviours such as self induced vomiting or excessive exercise and calorie restriction.

A GP prescribing medication in this way is not only going against patient confidentiality but also spreading the mindset that if somebody with an eating disorder ‘puts on weight’ or ‘eats normally’ they will be magically cured. I am sorry, but this is bollocks, and it makes me so angry to see evidence of a GP still viewing ED’s (eating disorders) in this manner.

Yes, most people do, at some point, struggle with their weight and diet. Most people have dieted at some point, a lot of people have taken this to an unhealthly level..but, luckily, few people get to rthe point where there life is ruled by food and they are diagnosed with Anorexia, Bulimia or EDNOS. An eating disorder will never be fixed by weight gain alone.

If a patient is underweight then their medical risks increase, I agree with this in theory, but it a ‘normal’ weight will not ever reverse the eating disordered mindset.

In this particular case the mother was concerned about her daughter’s weight loss and spoke about her concerns with her daughters  GP. The GP, on hearing this, should have called in the daughter for an appointment and spoken to her about her eating habits as well as running a physical which included a weight check and blood test as well as blood pressure and an ECG.  None of this was done, which not only demonstrates an utter lack of medical knowledge about the dangers of eating disorders but also reinforces stereotypes.

Again, eating disorders are going to be something that a GP see’s a lot of. It has also long been viewed as a ‘teenage illness’ and a ‘diet gone wrong’. Recently a study (again, I can provide this if wanted) has shown that anorexia is more commonly diagnosed in women in their early twenties and thirties than teenagers..and the population of male eating disorder sufferers is increasing rapidly.

In 2007 when I was in treatment for anorexia I was unusual as I was only 17, most of the inpatients were a lot older than me. I also saw several boys come through treatment with me. Of the ‘older’ population in the inpatient unit most suffers had developed the illness later in life and only one woman, who was in her sixties, had been a lifelong sufferer from a pre-teen age. (This woman went on to make a full recovery after over twenty years of being in and out treatment centres from life –threatening anorexia.)

I feel I am going a little off point here, but ED’s should not have the stigma that continues to be attached to them. It is not a ‘diet gone wrong’ and gaining weight is not a miracle cure..similarly in ALL eating disorders, including binge eating disorder, weight does not dictate health – a patient may appear to be a normal, healthy weight but be medically very unwell, a heart attack can be fatal at any weight, as can many other complications of an ED. For me, I was much more of a medical risk at a higher BMI than a emaciated one. At my highest weight I was abusing laxative, diet pills, water tablets and purging in order to try and get my weight back down, it was at this stage that my heart, blood pressure and electrolytes were the most of a whack. At a very very low weight I was very poorly, yes, but my blood pressure was a lot more closely monitored and a lot more stable than it was when I was at my ‘worst’. There is a preconception that a person with an ED is super-skinny, skeletal, quiet, shy, fragile and a victim – this is not true at all. Any individual that has any signs of an ED or shows ‘faulty thinking’ when it comes to food and weight should be taken seriously, especially by the medical community.

As with A&E Gp’s are on the front line for giving access to mental health professional, dieticians and professional that can aid an individual with any type of eating disorder. Professional help is often crucial to a sufferer. Eating disorders are not born from a desire to be a size 0 but are rooted in psychological issues and fears, also, if depression/ insomnia/ anxiety is not already present in a individual with an ED they are bound to become co-morbid problems. It is never ever just about food. GP’s especially should be better trained in recognising the signs of all ED’s and know where to make referrals.

It makes me so angry that a GP can prescribe weight gaining medication to a patient without even explaining the side effects, this would be true even if my friend did not have an eating disorder – this GP would still be in the wrong, the fact that he was told that this individual was losing vast amount of weight and inducing vomiting should have begun a very different chain of response than prescribing a pill that will make her feel more alone, more scared, angry, misunderstood and overall less likely to seek help.

I would like to end this by saying that I have had many, many run in’s with the medical community in direct regards to my ED and my self harm over the years. I have had some amazing doctors and nurses who have helped me considerably – I have also had doctors and nurses who have obviously had their own opinions about such matters and got on with the job regardless. I think that both responses are fine and appropaite. I am not asking for every Doctor/healthcare professional to put aside their own opinions but just to treat people as equals and following the correct protocol and procedures. There are understanding and wonderful Doctors/professionals out there…similarly there are so called ‘specialists’ who deal with ED’s/self harm on a regular basis who treat individuals badly..I really am glad of all the GOOD  care I have received and I urge ANYONE WHO THINKS THEY NEED MEDICAL ATTENTION TO SEEK IT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. However, these two events are described above need addressing.

 B-eat website

Self injury site

Do I have an eating disorder questionnaire

NHS direct link (helps work out if wounds need medical attention)

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