Knowing when to stop
Apologies again for the longer gap between posts. Things have been hectic and quite overwhelming at times.
We have now had the family wedding, which went very well and was a lovely day. I managed to pull off my bridesmaid duties without disaster and didn’t trip over my dress or my shoes! It was an exhausting experience though - physically and emotionally. My anxiety did feature, especially as the day wore on but on the whole I managed it fairly well.
It has made me realise how much I need to sleep adequately to function well though. When I sleep badly or don’t get enough, I am far more emotional and short tempered and I find it difficult to be around people. I guess that’s the same for everyone but it seems to make the symptoms of my EUPD far more pronounced, which is difficult to handle when my energy reserves are low too.
I did feel very emotional when I got home after all the wedding mayhem - perhaps also because I was keeping a lot of feelings closely controlled at the event. I think I could have done with a quiet week afterwards to collect my thoughts and recover but no such luck.
A few days ago I had the opportunity to go and visit a personality disorder service elsewhere in the country in order to get some ideas for the campaign for a local service, which I am heading up. It was a fantastic day, it was really interesting to see how a community based programme can be run and the people were more than accommodating of our visit. Much like the therapeutic community I experienced as an inpatient, it was tricky to tell the staff from the service users until they introduced themselves and even then there was no ‘us and them’ culture at all. This is really important to me because I think it empowers patients to take more responsibility for their own recovery rather than expecting the professionals to wave a magic wand and ‘do’ recovery to them. Furthermore, I found it really helps with the belief that although you may be unwell, you do still have a value to the world and thus it boosted my self-esteem at a time when it was otherwise extremely low. I would really like a service that uses therapeutic community principles for my locality and this visit will help form part of my ‘pitch’ to the CCG. The good thing about having no service at all in place at the moment is that we can cherry pick from best practice in other areas and design from scratch. I just hope it doesn’t all fall on deaf ears in the end.
Also this week I was invited to attend a beginners’ workshop on EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) which is also known as ‘tapping’. I didn’t know much about it beforehand but learnt that it can be use to reduce emotional stress or overwhelming feelings, amongst other things, by tapping on acupressure points at various places on the head and body. You can also make the effect stronger by repeating positive affirmations as you tap. Normally I would have felt incredibly awkward doing such things but the fact that there was a room of us doing the same thing helped me keep more of an open mind and try it regardless. It was difficult to tell in such a short session whether it would work for me on an ongoing basis but I am intending to try and use it frequently to see if it does. Nothing ventured, nothing gained after all!
I have been asked to contribute to a couple of new mental health projects in the new year as an expert by lived experience, which I am looking forward to. Having things to focus on and contribute to does help me keep motivated. Plus, the range of things I have been, and continue to be involved in, is helping to show me what skills I have and which areas of mental health I am most interested in. This time last year I had no idea what kind of things I enjoy in the sphere or even that I would like to work within mental health at all when I am well enough to return to work. After taking part in such a range of activities over the last few months though, I am fairly certain that that is now what I want to do. Of course there is a big difference between contributing to projects that involve a few hours here and there and having a paid job with real hours and responsibilities. Whilst I know that I am still not ready to make that step, especially with the prospect of EMDR restarting in the new year, I am trying to look at every opportunity I take between now and then as a bonus point to add to my CV.
However, the winter nights being so long and dark at the moment tend to make everything feel subdued and melancholy and my energy levels considerably lower. I, along with everyone really, need to be careful that I don’t overdo it with keeping busy and take some time out for self-care too. Whilst being occupied helps me distract from difficult thoughts, the exhaustion that it brings makes them harder to deal with when I do stop. Therefore, my pre-new year’s resolution is “more me time”!