Lithium and PTSD

So I’m officially back on lithium now. It’s too early to feel the awful side effects, but my psychiatrist reassured me that my mood would stop dipping. So we’ll see how it goes. I’m starting on 1000mg increasing after a week. I’m still keeping my other medication which I’m hoping to reduce over time because I’m now on so many pills.

My PTSD reared up spectacularly recently. My car was making a hideous noise to the point I was panicking while I drove it. I made it to Steve’s house and asked to borrow his car. I begged him to call the dealership because I’m so anxious about confrontation. I’ve dealt with them three times already and my anxiety was too high. I was prepared to abandon the car altogether. He made the initial call but I followed it up after he kept on having a go at me for dumping the car outside his house. They agreed to come and collect it.

So turns out, someone took my wheel nuts off, no doubt desperate to steal my alloys to make some money for Xmas. Fortunately one is safety locked on, so I was driving a car with no wheel nuts. I was very fortunate that I didn’t have an accident. The car is either parked outside my house or the police station where I work. Naturally it’s unlikely to be the latter where this occurred, so it means the offender came onto my driveway. I reported it to the police who classified it as a burglary and they asked me to check for signs of entry into the house. I couldn’t see anything, but that didn’t stop me from panicking. That night I barely slept, every noise sounded like an intruder, I was absolutely terrified. The first time I have felt so vulnerable in my home.

I told my elderly neighbour what had happened as she parks outside her house and she told me that her neighbor (on the other side) had had his car trashed. A garbage can thrown over it, windscreen wipers bent. I was shocked and I guess grateful that nothing worse had happened to mine.

I borrowed one of Steve’s golf club’s in an attempt to feel safer at night. But it’s been hard. I’ve been especially jumpy and been suffering with horrible nightmares. I have had an unrelenting migraine for three days, which is costing me a fortune in medication as the prescribed codeine isn’t working.

The deduction from my pay for my student loan was so huge, it’s meant I can’t make the rent. I don’t understand it at all, I thought I had to meet a certain income threshold. I really don’t need this. I’m literally going to be one of these people that is better just living off benefits. Which is awful because work, despite the long hours, has been really good for my confidence and sense of independence.

I’m really feeling the stress and with Xmas fast approaching, it’s only going to get worse. I hate Xmas as it is, so I’m making steps to avoid it, although I’m supposed to be attending this bloody work function on the 13th. I can’t think of anything worse. The people I work with are nice, but so bitchy and in these cliches it’s pretty pathetic. They’re definitely not the sort of people I’d want to liaise with outside of work. I’ve offered to cover the night shift in an attempt to get out of it, but they’ve worked it so that I can still attend and work later!

I’m not seeing the kids from now and through the weekend, I’m working and Steve’s away so his parents are down and looking after them. Of course I’m grateful to them for stepping up, but I miss the kids terribly. I wonder what this is all for sometimes.

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Going down

I saw my CPN today. I was in tears by the time my appointment started. I’ve been working long hours, I’m scheduled to work tonight from 9.30pm-7am – with no breaks. And tomorrow night the same! I was up at 4am this morning because Steve was going away for business. I’ve got no money, my car is expensive to run (why oh why didn’t I factor in running costs) I’ve got no food and no money to buy food. And yet I’m working all the hours I can which is slowly killing me. I’ve been so emotional, I had to ask Steve to order pizza for me and the kids tonight. He did so, without any argument and I was so pathetically grateful I sobbed over that.

So I’m feeling kind of raw, overly tired and tiredness is a huge factor for me. Plus all this talk about sexual assault allegations is making me feel triggered and sick.

I wanted to see the CPN to check in because I’m terrified of a relapse. He told me that he felt my reaction was that caused by stress – which he considered normal, but commented that shift work can of course trigger mood disorders. I’m talking to him next week to see how I am.

I’m glad he’s there to listen and guide me as I can’t afford therapy anymore.

I haven’t been able to catch up with any of my friends because I’m either working or too tired from work, so I’m feeling quite alone and isolated. More trigger points for me.

The commute into work is killing me, parking is a hassle, and the train seems too much hard work after a long shift,plus I don’t like travelling alone at night.

In all I feel like a flake.  I’m barely making enough to pay rent and bills. My hair looks bloody awful but i can’t afford a hair cut, let alone colour. I feel miserable about my appearance, but can’t do anything about it.

I’m of course grateful that I have a house AND a car AND a job. But at the moment work is ruling my entire life, I’mmissing valuable time with my children and my financial situation is dire. Meanwhile Steve continues to live in the big house and now drives a Jaguar. 

I feel so useless.

House and kids!

So I’m pretty much moved, depending on your definition of moved! My clothes are pretty much put away, the furniture is pretty much put in place. I have an electricity account, changed my drivers license address and Sky television came today to sort out my programming! I have Vodafone coming tomorrow to sort out the wifi – thank god!  The house looks good, it feels like a home. I think this is the best rental I’ve had. It’s comfy, warm and homely.

I don’t have food! My budget won’t allow a shop which is annoying because I’d like to clean up and have friends over.

Having the 4 kids on my own has been really tough going. It’s the holidays, so I’m juggling the move, issues that arise with that and driving around as well as tidying Steve’s house! Talk about out of the frying pan into the fire!

I’m a bit disappointed that my parents aren’t really involved with the kids. They could have used this time to get to know them better, even taking them out individually to make things easier. But they are in ‘holiday’ mode, so babysitting is a no go zone. And I’m shattered and very conscious that I don’t want to become unwell.

I’m trying to hold the fort until steve gets back (tomorrow) and enjoy my time with my much missed kids. But it is harder than most people would appreciate. I’d love to get into my eldest daughter’s bedroom and give it a good tidy out and move furniture around – I love surprising them like that – but frankly I’m too tired for that! I’d like to be able to take them out but I’m stone cold broke at the moment. I got some money through benefits but that wouldn’t even cover rent! I’ve got to make it last as long as possible.

On the whole I’m ‘doing it.’ I’m up early for the busy days, but my sleep is out of whack again, despite the medication . I think it’s because I spend all night ruminating over the events of the day, the next day and all of my anxieties and concerns. I almost fell into a panic attack last night, just because of how much is going on. But I’m determined to keep a handle on it. It’s just a shame that I can’t see my psychiatrist or CPN until 20 October. I could do with some support on this medication regime, although keeping up with therapy will help.

Last night I was determined to have a bath! Luckily my personal hygiene is back on track so I shower daily, but I wanted to indulge in a bath at Steve’s house because it’s been soooo long. I literally never got a chance with the kids and then I was too knackered. But tonight I will attempt it!

Well I’ve taken some time out to write this blog, I’ll have a hefty price to pay (house will be messed up again!). But I really needed some down time (although I’ve had numerous interruptions!). But I am glad to be back, I’m happy to have my children with me and I’m relieved that Steve is being really helpful and hospitable. It feels so nice not to have the negative energy and fear of the unknown.

I’ve even had a nice email communication with Steve’s parents. Thanking them for looking after the kids – they are really good with them, especially Steve’s dad and I’m happy the kids have that relationship with them. I can’t imagine them having the same closeness with my parents, but maybe when they’re older my parents will find it easier.

In other news, my sister got engaged! I’m so happy for her. She’s been with her partner for years, and they own a house together but it didn’t look like marriage would ever be on the cards, but he surprised her on a holiday in the US. I feel really lucky to have reconnected with her when I went back to the UK.

Reality

So my dad has booked the tickets and I’m beyond excited to see my babies again. It’s been too long and much longer than I anticipated. I keep imagining their faces, their warmth, even the way they smell. I won’t be able to get enough of them.

The hurdles that I have to deal with on my return are what are keeping me awake at night. I’m so glad my parents are going to be flying with me and have booked accomodation for us. That’s a huge weight off of my mind. But I have so much to organise in the short time they’re with me, seeing my lawyer, organising my medication and worse still, organising my own accomodation in the long term. I keep having terrible anxiety attacks and I’m barely sleeping. I feel deeply suicidal because I don’t know how I’m going to be strong enough to deal with all the shit, especially how Steve will inevitably treat me. I feel so vulnerable, so alone, so afraid of my uncertain future. But having my parents by my side in the start will help immensely. My focus is on my children and their love and excitement to see me back.

I am both relieved at the booked flights and equally terrified. There is something to be said for the ignorant sanctity I have been indulging in back home. Although I’ve obviously had guilt and uncertainty, the immediate concerns could be thwarted by delay. Now everything is speeding towards me like a jump from a tall building and I know this landing is also going to hurt.

I’m scared of my unknown future. I’m not strong like I used to be. Nothing is the same. And somehow I need to conjure the strength to organise everything in the short time that I have my parents both emotionally and financially. And I worry about the toll on them. They don’t have deep pockets, they’re old and deserve their peace. Not hurtling towards a car crash situation that’s geographically the furthest point away with a large potential financial burden.

I feel like I’ve let everyone down. I’m no longer the daughter to be proud of, the mother to be proud of and the woman to be envied because I had it all. I’m broken and I have nothing. I am nothing and I’m completely without direction. 

Aside from the warmth of my children – that is all I have to cling to.

Fighting

The UK continues to provide a good source of friendship and family and a nurturing environment. But I miss my kids so much I’m feeling the loss like a physical illness. I Skype with them almost daily and it’s not enough. I’m consumed with thoughts of them and can’t enjoy the simplest thing without wondering what they’d think.

Unfortunately S has gotten progressively worse and nasty and I know a cold, hard fight awaits me in NZ. The blows which he’s dealt have at times rendered me breathless and unable to see a way forward. It’s like his contempt of me grows daily and he’s trying to make me stay away by increasingly throwing obstacles at me. I can’t remember feeling as despised as I have been. And this thrusts me into a horrible quandary. I want to be with my babies but I need to be strong to face S and his hard hitting blows. I wonder if I’ll be able to survive it.

My kids are gutted as time goes on. They miss me and need me back. They don’t understand why I can’t afford a flight back, they don’t understand that I’m not allowed in the house – but their father has hired a live in nanny instead. It’s confusing for them. I can’t slate their father to them. I have to bite my tongue and say it’s all going to be ok.

But it’s never going to be ok. I had no idea how capable of change someone I once loved could be. Someone that used to make me feel safe and loved. Now I’m treated like something lower than scum. 

The whole thing is a brutal mess. 

I don’t regret coming back to the UK. It’s been a place that’s felt safe and where I’ve been reassured I’m not a bad person.

But going back will take some serious strength. And as any communication I have with S usually renders me in a state of panic and unable to function – I worry if I’ll ever be strong enough.

This is looking to be my toughest fight yet.

Novelty wears thin

Staying with my parents;

Pros – I get treated like a kid

Cons – I get treated like a kid

As the novelty of their distant first born returning wears off and the frustration builds (we’ve had her hair done, bought her clothes and she’s still miserable) things are getting more strained. My dad feels it necessary to comment on anything I eat, and when I eat (which isn’t often but apparently I still get it wrong) and also there’s the whole, ‘get some fresh air, it’ll help you’ as I remain hidden away like a vampire reading my books. Of course, if they’d put me on the bloody insurance I could go out and yes, even walk! But no, they’re playing taxi which makes me feel awkward, and it’s slightly embarrassing ending a day with a friend, ‘I just have to call my mum.’

I did have lunch with my pregnant best mate the other day. It was an anxiety provoking start but I ended up relaxed and really happy to see her. And she’s asked me to be her birth partner – very exciting! Of course if she goes into labour before her induction, I’ll have to get my mum to drive me (insert eye roll here).

So I haven’t been out as much as I’d planned in my mind, but then England was never going to be a cure. 

And now I find my nights lying awake tossing and turning and dreading going back to NZ but not feeling I belong here either.

Of course I miss the kids dreadfully and we Skype a couple of times a day. S hasn’t bothered messaging at all to see how I am. I had to chase him down to discuss the kids and a parents evening, and even then I could tell I was a major inconvenience to him. That my opinions didn’t count and basically- who the hell was I again? And if it’s at all possible, he’s even colder with me than normal.

Mind you, despite my planned trip to Cambodia he later accused me of leaving our marriage, which was completely inaccurate. So I suppose with his family firmly inserted into my family, there’ll be whispers that I deserted them and I’ve no doubt it’ll be held against me for all eternity, like with Cambodia.

So in essence, I need to get myself sorted pronto. But as I can’t see a psychiatrist, I can’t see anyway to lift this perpetual dark fog. I’m chugging on with fluoxetine, but it’s not making a difference. And I can’t find myself facing the imminent task of house hunting and moving again with any energy or determination. To be honest, I’m not even sure how I’ll manage the flight at the moment. I’m conscious that September is divorce month and S will slap me with the paperwork before the ink from the printer is dry. Perhaps there’s some avoidance on my part. Although I don’t why. He’s as cold as the ocean, and has made it abundantly clear that he stopped feeling anything for me years ago. Why I continue to pine something that ultimately makes me feel like pond scum is anyone’s guess.

So here I am in limbo. Not getting the miracle fresh air that will cure me, and feeling completely isolated and deeply uncertain about my future.

Swimming

I have been living well below the normal functioning level for so long it’s become normal for me. Even having a shower in the morning is a huge feet which a lot of the times I haven’t been able to accomplish. I don’t brush my teeth often enough and I don’t brush my hair very often. My depression has pulled me so low that I prefer to spend my days in bed, I feel tired all of the time and swing between emotional and feeling nothing. At night it is hard to sleep but I prefer the night even if I have nightmares because at night no one expects anything of you.

I have been very isolated and at times I have felt extremely lonely but been unable to reach out for help. I honestly believe that this was going to be my normal life from now until the day I die.

Gradually I have noticed it’s become very slightly more easy to get up in the morning, and yesterday I was able to last most of the day without having to have a nap, I was also able to make phone calls and put preparations and plans in place for when I move out at the weekend. Today because of having a bit more energy I decided to actually go swimming. This is a huge accomplishment for me. It means seeing strangers, facing the world and doing physical activity. I am really proud of myself for doing this today. I know that there’ll continue to be good and bad days. I don’t believe that I am magically cured but I do feel that I’m getting some energy back.

I am still very much in limbo in terms of my future plans and feel in the long term that I don’t have a lot to look forward to. There is still a huge amount of pain in my heart that I can feel like Jagged pieces of glass. But for today I swam. Today I felt a little bit more normal, and for that I am happy.