It hasn’t been an easy year for me so far. I haven’t written here since March and that wasn’t a positive post, to say the least. A week after that post I was back in hospital. I assumed it would be like the other times and they would keep me a day or two and send me home. If that had happened, that would have been the end of me. On my third day there a mishap caused major water damage to another ward. Because they had to make room in the other already over crowded wards, I was sent to a transitional unit. A wonderful nurse that was working that night helped me so much. He made sure I was assigned to a doctor who has been a great fit for me. The staff and atmosphere at this unit was such a good and fortunate thing for me. I was there a few weeks and through another quirk of fate, my doctor ended up at my community MH office so I have continued working with her. It is only for a short while, but it has been good for me. Last week I started DBT and WRAP. Life is still a struggle but at least my support team seems to have more hope for me. I am slowly getting back into the world, also. More updates to come, there are some other exciting possibilities coming up soon for me.
I currently have only two significant relationships in my life. They are both professionals, my GP and my therapist. I have no personal relationships. I am afraid of relationships, I know how bad I mess them up and how bad I feel when I do. I see my GP every week for a half hour and my therapist for an hour, that is less than 1% of my week. Work consumes roughly 24% of my week so that leaves 75% of my week where I am completely alone. To look at it another way, I spend 24% of my time to earn the money to just survive 75% of the time while I wait for the 1% of my time that matters at all to me. Lately I have spent a good deal of the 75% of my time wondering why I bother at all. Is it really worth it to keep fighting with myself and keep holding on just so I can go to work and make my appointments each week?
Tomorrow is my enemy. Today has been no walk in the park, but I managed to get to work. Once my day has started, I somehow manage to break it into chunks that can be survived. I have made it to lunch, now I just have to make it to the end of work. After that I just have to make it home, then dinner, then to bedtime. It isn’t always easy, but it is mostly manageable. Tomorrow is another story, though. Tomorrow is always frightening and overwhelming. I don’t even know if I will be able to get out of bed. I am not sure why, but tomorrow can never be split into manageable pieces. Tomorrow is always this big huge task that hovers just over the horizon. It is dark and scary and full of the unknown. The unknown is never good either! The promises tomorrow holds will surely be the end of me. Tomorrow scares me, I know I can’t defeat all the tomorrows. I guess I am safe, though as long as the enemy is always tomorrow. I know I am in real trouble when today becomes the enemy that I can’t manage.
The last few weeks have pointed out the difference between worry and anxiety to me. Right now I am dealing with both and they both suck.
I have felt really on edge the last several weeks. It feels like my fight or flight response is stuck in overdrive. I am not sure exactly when or how it started and most of the time there is no reason for it.
My response was to figure out the cause and fix it. Because financial security has been on my mind, I impulsively applied for a full time job last week. By the end of the week, they had offered me the job on the condition that my references are ok.
Now I see that financial security was a worry. I have almost found a solution for the worry, but in the process have added a couple more worries. Now I have to worry about the reference checks and whether I am able to work full time again.
The whole time all of this has been happening, I still have that uneasy feeling. I can see now that it is not related to anything in particular. It is just a general ominous feeling that something bad is going to happen. This is my anxiety. My one big hope right now is that the job will work out and full time work will help at least distract me from this anxiety for 8 hours a day.
That is what I would love to be able to tell my doctor when she calls next week. I would love to wake up one morning and think this. There really isn’t any reason I can see that I shouldn’t be feeling great today.
I met with an intake worker this week at an organization I am excited to start going to. It will provide social contact and an opportunity to feel a little productive again, all in a supportive environment. My new counsellor and I have moved past the get to know you stage and are starting to do some real work. Today, my former employer let me know they are finally going to send me the backpay they owe me, so housing is not an immediate problem. Overall, it has been a good week, but I have been anxious all week. There is no particular reason. Everytime I leave home, I am just waiting for something bad to happen. It is almost like I am holding my breath until I get home again. Home feels safe but danger lurks on the other side of the door.
My logical brain hates this feeling. Unfortunately, logic doesn’t make the feeling go away. I think I am becoming immune to logic. Logic has no place in my life right now. Logic has always served me well and now it just makes me feel worse about myself.
I get angry every time I go to the outpatient center for services. I am sure I do not understand everything that goes on there, but it is hard to see three or four people being paid to chat and joke with each other when I am told there is no funding for the treatment I need. Don’t they realize how inefficient the system looks from the users point of view? Do they understand that the salary of one of those administrative workers could pay for private treatment of 5 people in need?
I have been fortunate enough to connect with a couple of non profit organisations that have provided some of the help I have been looking for. In all cases, they have been efficient, timely and kind. They have always been very clear about who I needed to talk to and what I needed to do. They have always provided follow up, also. An example is this week. After helping me access a government social program, I thought the non profit’s involvement was done. They had gone above and beyond already in my eyes to make the whole process as easy as possible. They called me though and let me know they were still helping and would be setting up an appointment to complete forms that I would have to fill out once I am in this particular program. In contrast, when I tried to do the same thing in the public health system, everyone I talked to sent me to see someone else. In the end I spent almost a month to get nowhere while it took only a week for the non profit to have everything set up.
Unfortunately this does not seem to be the exception to the rule. The non profits seem to do a much better job at providing services with fewer resources. While the non profits are client focused, the public health system seems to be administrative focussed. The system is a maze that is hard enough for the people that work in it to navigate. It is nearly impossible for patients to navigate. The fact that they need positions called Health Navigators should be a clue that something may be wrong.
I am forced to rely on this system for my treatment, though. While the non profits offer excellent and very valuable services, they are limited to social and employment services for the most part. Meanwhile, the government of BC adds layer after layer of beauracracy to the public mental health and addictions system to try to fix it. The system just seems to get farther and farther removed from the reality of the people living with these illnesses. It would be great if the government would recognize these organizations that are working well and try to emulate them. Imagine how much more good could be done in an organization run as effeciently as the non profits but with the resources the public system has. Imagine the lives that could be saved if care was provided by a system that was actually patient focussed.
DBT is a recognized treatment for BPD. This has been proven through clinical trials and it has been used to help many patients. I was introduced to DBT while I was in hospital, even before my BPD diagnosis. I found it to be very helpful for me, even in the small doses offered during my stay. It was encouraging when my doctor let me know I was on the waiting list for the DBT program offered by the health authority’s outpatient department. After a little research, I found that an actual program run the way it was intended by the founder of DBT consists of much more than what I had seen. I had only been given a cursory introduction to some of the concepts. If that was helpful, the full program may actually make it possible for me to live a fulfilling life!
That was three months ago. Last week I found out I am not on the waiting list for DBT. The waiting list is in fact closed because the resources to offer the program are not sufficient to meet the needs. There are DBT programs available in the private sector, but the cost is around $10,000. That is impossible, especially considering my illness is keeping me from decent employment. I often wonder if the cost of not treating mental illness is actually more than the cost to the government of an effective mental health system. When you consider human suffering, I am certain an effective system would be much cheaper.
So here I am with a diagnosis, the knowledge that a great treatment exists and no access to that treatment. At least the system can offer medications, right? Did I mention that no medications have been shown to be effective in treating BPD? There are medications to help with some of the symptoms. My latest one seems to be pretty effective so far for sleep and seems to work some for mood stabilization. What I mean by that is that I find I am much more calm about this lousy situation I have found myself in. I still think it is lousy and it is hard to see any hope.
For now I will take what help I can find and continue to search for more. The hope I had when I left hospital is gone, though.