The 13th June was the first anniversary of my ‘breakdown’. It had been building for a number of months and had gradually got worse and worse. Initially it was just my sleep that was problematic, then a disconnection from my mother and sister which was exasperated by some bullying via another student in the degree course who was unfortunately attached to the placement I was on.
By Christmas 2012 I was tired, overstressed and really not enjoying the second year of my degree. I did however love my placement. It was based within a Methadone programme and I worked with some of the service users. It seemed simple and straightforward enough to just help them. Benefits, emails, phoning gp’s, etc. I put together care plans and worked on individual things which included monitoring their general wellbeing.
Mid-February I was struggling more and more. It wasn’t a case of just not being able to sleep any more but getting myself into uni for lectures was beginning to be a real mission. The anxiety and paranoia where starting to become quite strong and whilst I still cared deeply about the work I was doing on placement I was beginning to lose myself. Things were suffering and I had started to use tramadol and cocodamol as a way of switching off at night. I was completely abusing tramadol, popping them like they were going out of fashion. In a key working session with a service user we were discussing his recent bereavement, his current physical health, the prescription for methadone and his drinking. I could feel inside more and more that there was something that wasn’t right. I was relating more to those I was trying to help and instead of being strong and resilient like I had been for so long I could feel myself falling apart. He mentioned child sexual abuse and I broke down in front of him and my mentor. Far from professional and I was deeply ashamed that I had let my emotions run away from me.
I was written off work the following week and having to admit I was feeling yet another bout of depression was really exceptionally hard to do. I didn’t want to be on meds, I didn’t want to be mentally unwell. I just wanted to get on with my life and finish my degree. So whilst I withdrew from tramadol, was prescribed sertraline and zopiclone, followed by phenergran. I didn’t get any support from the University and my practice educator (liaison between the uni and placement) was fucking useless. I couldn’t stand her, she was patronising and reminded me of my mother-in-law, someone who I don’t like at all and who tried to cause problems between me and my husband. So it wasn’t great. I did what I always do, I put back on the veneer and told myself to get on with my work. So I spent Easter writing essays and the following weeks revising for a law exam. I passed all of them, including a high B for one of them, which given the state I was in was quite incredible! I am proud of that particular piece as I was convinced I would fail it. However, April was a difficult month and although I was doing my best on the surface, on the inside I was having hallucinations, hearing voices, having panic attacks. I had two in Uni, it was unbearable and I didn’t go back in for any lectures. I couldn’t. The paranoia was building by this point that I was convinced that everyone was against me, I couldn’t look people in the eye, I was withdrawn and according to people who knew me my speech had become very slow and what I said didn’t always make sense. They later informed me that they were shocked when they saw me a few weeks later at how I seemed to be a shell of myself. I seemed to have shrunk into myself. My meds were changed to citalopram as the sertaline was doing nothing. The voices got louder and louder, the visions, flashbacks and hallucinations were truly hideous. I was no longer on the phenergran as it did nothing for me, instead I was taking nytol, calms, co-codamol, poppers and stupid amounts of vodka. I would go to bed long after my husband and still be up before he was. I literally wasn’t sleeping at at all. When I went to placement I was constantly agitated, the service users still needed my help but all I was thinking about was how much I wanted to get off my head, that I needed to shut the voices up. I listened to my music really loud as much as I could, my thoughts were constantly drifting, I was self harming again, the first time in 8 years. I don’t remember everything about this time other than I was consumed by a darkness, it seemed to be everywhere I went, there was no escaping it. I felt trapped and desperate, I just didn’t want to be here any more. I had tried on a couple of occasions to do something, but I could hear my kids and knew I couldn’t. The time I remember clearly is phoning my dad. I had a knife in my hand and was going to slit my wrists, I was going to stab myself, but something made me call my dad. I sobbed down the phone at him and whilst he is brilliant, it was my step mum who talked to me. She is so calm and loving. Her voice just soothing and caring. She helped me by talking to me for almost 2 hours. I eventually got the knife back to the kitchen and just curled up in my bed and sobbed for what seemed like hours.
The morning of June 13th I had to go to my mentors house. We had broken boundaries of student and mentor by discussing things which perhaps shouldn’t. She was the first person I ever talked to about my family, my childhood, what happened…not in so much detail, but enough for her to know that it wasn’t deal with and for her to know that I was in a bad state from it. It was day 95 of a 100 day placement.
Without going into too much detail because I find this hard even now, and I am so angry at myself for what happened….but I basically was suspended with immediate effect and that I would be suspended from Uni too…I was beside myself, I had to phone my husband who had work later that day and get him to pick up the kids because I was going to be taken to A and E by my mentor. He went quiet on me and I couldn’t deal with his anger so she spoke to him too. At lunch time I was sitting in A and E waiting for to see a psychiatrist. I felt nervous and paranoid, and wanted to hide away, I felt like everyone was staring at me, see that girl, she’s a psycho, she’s got problems. The on duty psychiatrist was nice, but I really didn’t know how to talk about things, I remember staring at the floor, picking at my cuts and just wanted to sprint out the door. However, my friend sat with me through the whole thing, answering questions that I couldn’t and getting me the support I needed. It was decided that I needed to be on Zopiclone and that I needed an urgent referral for counselling and for the mental health team. This all took weeks to start happening, the citalopram was increased and nothing much changed and it was increased again where a couple of weeks later I seemed to be a little more in control again. It was just in time for the kids holidays so we took them on picnics and made the most of the lovely weather. I was still a mess inside, but during the day I was managing to do what I needed to do. I was losing weight too, and my need for food was also disappearing so I was made to eat.
Since this time I have been diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder (BPD), depression and social anxiety although these little bits change from session to session. I had no clue what BPD meant and I was horrified when I read it on the letter from the psych. This kind of thing had never been mentioned before when i had attended the GP for my depression. I don’t now think that they took me particularly seriously. I spent a lot of time staring at the walls, writing statements about being fit to practice and all sorts.
Everything that I had planned was now falling apart around me, and I didn’t know what to do to make it better.
A year later, what has changed????????????
So, we live in yet another house which we may have to move away from which is unsettling in itself and causes tensions anyway. My traits of BPD are no full-blown and I have now openly admitted to the MHT that I am a drug addict, that it’s not just co-codamol I use. Alcohol is often present these days and the desire to do some lines is like an itch. I a still hiding a lot of me away, I don’t really know why other than the fact that I know I get fed up with people who don’t try to do anything to help themselves. From Stepps, I have learnt some skills which I do use. I don’t write it all down but I do carry out what they have taught us as best as I can. There are some things I do really struggle with, substances being one of them.
Last year, I was a 33-year-old woman who was being haunted by horrible memories and experiences, but I was 33 and I knew that. Today, I am a 14-year-old kid. I am exactly as I was as 14-year-old and whilst I may sometimes behave more maturely with the kids and with the task as hand, I feel lost. In some sort of limbo. I don’t want to party with a ton of people, I would like to drink and get drunk, take some stuff and have no need to be at home until the morning. I don’t want to sleep around but what I do want is for my husband to want me. Last night he told me that I was just a hassle. I couldn’t reach climax no matter what we did. It seemed to upset him and he got all moody. My first reaction was to scrub myself. He made me feel wrong and disgusting and then I had my mum voice popping up too. I don’t think that he truly understands how frustrating it is for ME not to be able to ORGASM and that it has nothing to do with him, he does everything right…ITS ME< I AM MENTALLY, EMOTIONALLY AND PHYSICALLY BROKEN.
Where has the girl gone who was once me, who is this new girl for everyone to see? The cravings, the voice and hallucinations, the flashbacks etc. I have them all still. I still have panic attacks, suffer with paranoia and cannot deal with stress. It sends me spinning out of control.
So, a year has gone by and what I can say is that I have support in the right places, especially a mental health team whom seem to really care. I have lost many of my friends including those whom I have known for a really long time. I am not going back to that uni, I am fighting to be well enough to attend another one with a brand new course. I am fighting….each day I fight and get through is another win. An hour at a time…I will keep on fighting whilst there is still something worth fighting for.