Catch-up

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged, so here’s a short catch-up post. (It’s got bullet points and everything to stop it from turning into an essay…)

1. I am definitely saying goodbye to my therapy group, and my leaving date will be 28 March – just two sessions to go! In contrast to how he reacted when I first raised the issue, I’ve been pleased with Group Therapist’s response. Although he hopes I’ll change my mind and thinks staying in the group will help me, he’s been very respectful of my right to make my own decisions about what I need.

2. I started feeling a bit low a couple of weeks ago, following a very busy week at work. I decided to take this seriously rather than plough on regardless, and I took steps to reduce my workload. I am now 100% back to normal and enjoying a week’s annual leave – my first since September. When you’re self-employed and don’t get paid holidays it can be difficult to make yourself take time off without a ‘good reason’, but I’ve realised that simply needing a break is a good reason. Go me!

3. I’ve been reflecting a lot on ways I can reach out to other people more, which I feel is my main issue at the moment. My Christian faith is going to be very important here. More on that in its own blog post soon. :)

4. I’ve found a book with an excellent-looking chapter on core beliefs that I also intend to work through. However, I definitely haven’t ruled out the option of getting individual therapy if I need it.

5. OH and I have an appointment at our local fertility clinic on Maundy Thursday, and it’s looking likely we’ll be starting treatment in a few months, although I need to taper off my mirtazapine first. I’m going to discuss a back-up plan with my GP in case coming off the meds makes me depressed again, and if I get pregnant I will be referred to the perinatal mental health service. I’ve told my parents about our plans to start a family using donor sperm and they were fully supportive. Hurrah!

That’s all for now, folks…

A decision

I’m pretty sure I’ve made the decision to leave my therapy group. I’ve talked about it, written about it and reflected on it a lot over the past couple of weeks and it’s come to seem like a no-brainer. It just isn’t working for me, and I’m not at all happy about how Group Therapist has handled my concerns and desire to leave.

I’ve experienced therapy that has helped me before and I know what it’s like. A good therapist to me, or perhaps a therapist who’s a good match for me, is someone who helps me to feel at ease and to open up. Someone who doesn’t tell me how to make sense of my problems, but helps me to come to my own understanding. Someone who balances self-awareness with practical ways of changing. Someone who (dare I say it?) demonstrates normal social skills instead of that clichéd analytical silence which is supposed to help with transference but so often comes across as rude and uncaring.

I do understand how psychoanalytical therapy is supposed to work. I know it’s meant to be a difficult process, that it’s normal not to see any benefit for a long time, but that the theory is when change does come it will be all the more profound for it. I also know it’s likely that some of the things I feel about Group Therapist are transference and more a reflection of my own issues than his ability or otherwise, but I just don’t want to work in this way. It seems unnecessarily painful and risky to me.

My financial circumstances will soon be changing for the better :) which means that, should I need therapy in future, I can go private and see someone of my own choosing. The option of group work also still remains open to me through A’s charity.

You’ll notice that I said “should I need therapy”. I’m not planning to jump straight back into something, because my mental health is really good at the moment and I want to allow the dust to settle. Given the recurrent nature of my depression and other issues, though, I doubt I am done with therapy for life. :P

Baptism by fire

My therapy group on Wednesday was very, very difficult.

Not surprisingly, we returned to the topic of my difficulties engaging with the group, and the fact that I’m questioning whether group therapy is the right approach for me. We talked about gender a little first, and whether the fact that it’s a mixed-sex group is a problem, but then Group Therapist said something that really upset and angered me.

He said that me wanting to leave the group is basically just avoidance. I explained that I feel as though to get much out of the group, I’d need to have already overcome the issues I’m there for in the first place – and he said I should let the group help me overcome them, and that he thinks group therapy is the only thing that will help me with said issues.

Ouch.

The thing about letting the group help me is interesting. I hadn’t really thought of it like that, but I think he has a point there – although another member of the group did then immediately say that they didn’t know what to do to help, and that they felt quite powerless in the situation. Not the most encouraging response.

But the reason I’m so angry is that when I was assessed, I was offered a choice between group or individual psychotherapy, and I was told either would help me. When I found that a difficult decision to make, Group Therapist reassured me that it wasn’t irrevocable, and that if one approach didn’t work for me I could go back on the waiting list for the other. (I also feel as though he nudged me towards group therapy a bit by offering me a place in this group before I’d made my mind up, though I appreciated the information at the time.) Now that I feel group therapy isn’t working, I’m a little shocked that he would go back on his word, dismiss my reasons for wanting to leave as not valid, and imply individual psychotherapy wouldn’t actually help.

I’m also upset by his assertion that I’m just being avoidant. I understand that giving up on a particular type of therapy, when you’re finding it difficult and think another approach might work better, could be about avoidance but it could also be a healthy and appropriate treatment decision. It may even be a little bit of both. From my point of view, to understand all the different factors at play you have to tease them out and examine them closely (and isn’t that what therapy is supposed to be all about?) We haven’t really done much of this, and I appreciate I’m not making it easy by finding it so hard to open up in group, but that GT thinks he knows best anyway I find arrogant and unhelpful. Maybe he’s calling my bluff, trying to draw me out that way – but if so, I wish he’d f*** off.

It was early on in the 90 minutes that he said it, and the rest of the session involved a lot of silence. I’m normally OK with silence in the group. That is, I find long silences difficult to break, but they don’t make me particularly uncomfortable or uneasy. This time was different. The silence seemed oppressive, thick and heavy, suffocating. I was literally finding it difficult to breathe. Then GT suggested we all share how we were feeling in order to ‘move things on’. Nobody did. I couldn’t find the courage to speak up about how hurt and angry I was with GT, and whatever anyone else was thinking, they didn’t want to share it either.

One of the things that concerns me most about group is that I’m not usually like this – or not to this extent. Yes, I find it hard to open up to people, and I’m cowardly about confrontation, and that undoubtedly makes life difficult for me, but I’m not normally this dysfunctional in my relationships. The psychoanalytical group environment brings all my issues to the surface and magnifies everything. It’s meant to do this, I know that, so that we can really understand my issues and tackle them at a deep level – but not all therapy works this way, and I’m questioning whether it’s necessary.

I’ve written before about some of the things I’ve preferred about person-centred therapy, which has helped me in the past. But one aspect I didn’t really touch on is the environment. By being flexible to my needs, and though unconditional positive regard, my person-centred Ts created an environment that felt safe and nurturing, and where it was as easy as possible (not that it’s ever easy) for me to engage with them and to change. It was all about bringing out the best in me and often about getting as much as we could out of the time available. Psychoanalytical group therapy could not be more different.

I think one disadvantage of the person-centred approach, at least as I’ve experienced it, is that sometimes issues can get missed. Certainly the biggest problem I had with F was I sometimes felt her view of me was too positive – that she didn’t always ‘get’ how much I was still struggling during relapses. So it’s not that I think person-centred is good and psychoanalytical is bad. I think they can both be valid approaches to treatment, with their own strengths and weaknesses (and I think the same of well-conducted CBT too). What it comes down to is which is going to be best for me, and there’s no easy answer to that question.

I had a bit of an epiphany today, though. One thing I’ve learned through therapy with GT is how much the environment makes a difference – and to what extent I use changing my environment as a way of tackling problems. For example, when I was really struggling with B/Ping after dinner, I started spending my evenings in places where I wouldn’t binge – I would go for a walk or to the library or visit friends. When a bitchy or stressful work environment caused a relapse of depression, I changed jobs (I’ve done this twice). When I’m pulling from my eyebrows a lot, I cover them with a scarf or hat so I can’t access them. Leaving the group for (possibly person-centred) individual therapy would also be an example of this. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with this, and I don’t regret any of the decisions I’ve just described, but I do think I’m probably over-reliant on tweaking my environment and I’d like to be able to cope better in difficult situations rather than having to leave. Maybe that’s what GT meant about avoidance. Harumph. Two epiphanies for the price of one. Anyway, the original one was:

One of the things I don’t like about GT is I feel he sees the way I am in group, in a difficult environment that brings all my issues to the surface, as somehow ‘truer’ than how I am in situations where I’m able to cope just fine. I think he sees my functioning normally in the right setting, or when my mental health is good, as a front and not as the real me. I realised today that I cannot agree with this. For an environment to bring out the best in me, that ‘best’ has to be there in the first place. It’s all within me, the good and the bad. I need this to be understood and while it sounds ridiculous to suggest that a therapist wouldn’t understand that, I do feel the things I’ve achieved and the progress I’ve made with my mental health over the past ten years, before I started working with GT, get discounted. I could be wrong. This could well be transference. And the only way to know for sure is to discuss it with him… which brings me back to my original problem.

I think the person-centred counselling was about a series of increments. Baby steps, tackling the easier issues first, starting from an encouraging environment. The one danger with that approach is that as things get harder and scarier you may step off the ladder. By contrast, my psychoanalytical group is baptism by fire. If you can address your problems in that environment you’ll probably be sorted everywhere. The question is, can I take the heat?

Unexpected A

I had an unexpected opportunity this week to discuss my group therapy situation with someone totally impartial. To cut a long story short, at around the same time as I was referred to the NHS psychotherapy service, I made contact with a local charity which runs short-term therapy and art therapy groups. At that time I didn’t know that the NHS would also offer me group therapy or that ongoing treatment would come through so quickly, so I planned to use the charity as a stopgap. I have since twice turned down a place in one of their groups because of my NHS therapy, but twice asked to stay on their waiting list because I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with my current group. So the lady who runs the charity (I’ll call her A) suggested I might like to come and have a chat with her about what I feel I need right now, and it seemed like the ideal opportunity to talk things through.

I went to see A on Wednesday afternoon and found her very helpful. She confirmed that many of the problems I’m having with the group, how difficult and awkward it is and how the environment seems to bring out the ‘crazy’ in me, are a normal part of the psychoanalytical process and don’t mean the therapy isn’t working properly. They are the price for what, hopefully, I will get out of therapy – a very deep understanding of myself and my issues. She also said that not everyone can tolerate what I’m going to call the side effects of psychoanalytical therapy, and there is no shame in that. It’s not for everyone. We agreed that it has to be my decision whether I want that kind of very intensive, in-depth therapy and deep understanding, or whether I’d prefer something with a more supportive and practical focus.

We then talked about the biggest problem I have in group, how hard I find it to open up and participate at all, in more detail. I realised that I rely on a complex and largely unconscious set of cues to tell me whether someone is ‘safe’ or not, and if just one person in the group is not ‘safe’ to talk to on a particular topic, I can’t bring it up. As a result of this (and perhaps because I was very clearly able to open up to her), A suggested that maybe individual therapy would be better for me. She encouraged me to discuss this in the group, while being very understanding of how intimidated I felt by the prospect.

I then brought up this issue:

There are many areas of my life that I think I’m reasonably happy about when I’m well, but when I’m depressed they not only get me down, but I view them as a likely cause of my depression. Is this just the ‘depression talking’ (distorted thoughts and beliefs) and me grabbing at straws to make sense of things, or are these real problems that I’m refusing to tackle and which do indeed make me ill?

A agreed with me that depression can make you see all sorts of ‘problems’ that weren’t there before, and she said how I am when I’m well might be a better guide. Do all my issues completely go away when I’m not depressed? I had to admit that they don’t, that my problems trusting or relying on people and letting them support me are pretty much a constant - but that when my mental health is otherwise good I usually feel quite happy managing by myself and as though I can cope that way. “When I’m depressed…” I started to say, and suddenly I realised that it’s a real problem when I’m depressed, it can’t just be a twisted-thinking-type symptom, because when I’m depressed I need more help from other people and that’s when my difficulties in reaching out – and, I suspect, the emotional connections I haven’t made when I’m well – really come back to bite me on the arse.

A took this one step further and suggested that although I feel able to cope by myself when I’m well, perhaps the fact I’m not talking things through with other people much means issues don’t get properly resolved, and then they build up, ultimately bring my mood down again. I don’t know whether this is the case, but I acknowledged it as a possibility. She said human beings aren’t designed to function alone, we need to lean on others to some extent, and I agreed with her on this. Maybe there are some people in the world who truly don’t need anyone else, but deep down I know that I’m not one of them.

We talked a little about how I could learn to trust people more and A suggested thinking carefully about who I trust, and how I can tell whether someone is trustworthy, and how I can test that out. I think that ties into my ‘safety’ cues, in a way. In some way I am already doing this, already deciding who can be trusted and with what, but the rule book is wrong and it needs to be rewritten – no small feat when it’s written with the emotional fabric of my life.

Still, the rule book isn’t always wrong, and I was feeling quite proud of myself that I’d judged A as very trustworthy and been able to open up to her. Then she suggested I come back and see her in a few weeks once I’ve talked to Group Therapist, and I realised what I was afraid of with her. As far as I’m aware, A doesn’t provide regular counselling; she works with people on an ad hoc basis. She also told me that if I leave the NHS group, and for example go on the waiting list for individual therapy, she’d be happy to support me in the mean time. This is brilliant, but my fear is that I will ask for too much. Without the structure of weekly or fortnightly sessions, I don’t know how much support I’m ‘allowed’ or would be seen as appropriate. It feels as though if I asked A (or anyone who was supporting me) for more than she could give, and had to be turned down, this would be The Worst Thing in the World. It feels as though it would destroy me.

Come to think of it, the one thing that nearly did destroy me – what made me want to end my life ten years ago – was when my then best friend walked out of my life because I had become too needy and she couldn’t cope with my depression. J was probably the first person in my life that I let myself rely on and that risk didn’t pay off for me. Rationally, I know the situation is very different. I know a mental health professional telling me they can’t see me as often as I would like, at a time when I have good coping skills and multiple avenues of support, is not the same as a one-and-only friend leaving for good when I had very little else. But I learned – or perhaps had reinforced – that asking for too much from others is bad, bad, bad and wrong, wrong, wrong to the extent that it would cost you your friends and possibly your life. That’s the kind of black-and-white place I was in back then, and I’m a lot more rational now, but the mind remembers the pathways it’s forged.

A suggested I get in touch once I’d spoken to my therapy group, but I knew if I left that office without making an appointment I would probably never contact her again. I told her that tends to be my pattern, so we’ve set a date to meet in three weeks’ time. :)

And I went to my therapy group that evening. It was difficult. I missed last week’s session because of the funeral, and it turned out someone in the group had admitted right at the end that they might have a drug problem, so everyone wanted to talk about that. I felt so frustrated and, yes, left out that everyone’s focus was on this other woman. The 90 minutes dragged on with no good opportunity for me to bring up what I needed to say. I prayed. I didn’t mean to pray, but it kind of slipped out (inside my head) and you should be careful what you pray for. ;) With five minutes to go, another person mentioned that they find it hard to open up to the group and that was my cue. I shared that I find it very difficult too – to the point that I’m questioning whether group therapy is for me.

There wasn’t time to discuss it very much, so at the start of next week’s group, all the focus is going to be on me (gulp!) Group Therapist did say though that he wondered if it might be a gender issue. That I find it hard to open up because there are men in the group and it’s facilitated by a man. I don’t think it’s a gender issue. I have as many male as female friends and on balance I’m no more scared of the men in the group than I am of the women. That said, the coward in me is wondering whether requesting a female therapist (if I decide on individual psychoanalytical therapy) might be a way of avoiding saying that I’m not sure whether Group Therapist is a good match for me either.

To be continued…

Of psychiatrists and therapists

I saw my psychiatrist last week, and she’s discharged me back to my GP. I’m reasonably happy about this. With my mood and energy levels stable, it doesn’t seem like the best use of my time or NHS resources to have me trekking out to the hospital every couple of months. In an ideal world, I’d like to remain on her books without regular visits to see her, and to be able to phone for an appointment when and if I experience any mental health issues, but the NHS just doesn’t work that way.

I did ask whether my recent episode had changed her opinion about me taking antidepressants in the first trimester of pregnancy. It hasn’t, although she now wants me to be referred back to her as soon as I become pregnant, even if my mental health is good. She seemed to be saying that I could wait until I’m actually pregnant to come off the meds, but I’m a bit confused about that because she also said I should reduce the dose gradually over a month to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Surely that would defeat the object of not having mirtazapine in my system during the crucial first month when the embryo is developing and the risk of miscarriage high? The thing is, my main concern isn’t getting through three months of pregnancy without medication – that’s a relatively short period, and I know some women find the hormones actually help their mood – but coping without meds for potentially months and months of failed fertility treatment. Anyway, I’ll see what she’s written in the letter to my GP and what my GP and the fertility clinic advise.

That’s the easiest part of this post out of the way. It’s going to be much harder to write about group therapy, because I’m still struggling to make sense of how I feel about it and what I want.

For some time now – maybe since about November? – I’ve been questioning whether the therapy group is right for me. The first reason is that I just don’t feel I’m getting much out of it. That might be an odd thing to say when my mental health has improved so dramatically, but I honestly don’t feel the group has had much to do with it. In the past, when therapy has helped, it’s been obvious to me how and why it’s helping. Talking about the bullying, and coming to a new understanding of what happened to me as a child that doesn’t place the blame on me, cured me of social anxiety disorder and there’s no doubt in my mind that that’s why I no longer have difficulties socialising and making friends. On a less radical scale, learning some CBT techniques for coping with depression has made depression easier to cope with (duh) so that it no longer has such a devastating impact on my life. With the therapy group, everything’s more tenuous. I have developed some new insights which may well have helped me to change but the link is far less obvious. This is something I need to explore further.

The second reason is that I’m not sure whether group therapy of any kind is the best approach for me, or not as the main mode of treatment. In the past one of the things I’ve really valued about therapy is that it’s a space just for me, where I can be ‘selfish’ and talk through whatever I need to talk through, without having to worry about other people’s needs or whether I’m monopolising the conversation. In a group I don’t have any of that. Arguably, group therapy is the ideal place for me to learn how to get my own needs met in a mutually supportive environment, how to get the balance right between giving and taking, but it can feel like a catch 22 in that to get the therapy in the first place I already have to resolve the issue to some extent. I don’t talk about my own problems as much as I should, both for this reason and the one below, and that may be one explanation for why I’m pretty sure the recent improvement in my mental health has little to do with therapy.

The third reason has to do with the psychoanalytical orientation of the group and the NHS service, and it’s the hardest to pin down. I guess I can sum it up by saying that for a long time I’ve been preoccupied by the following questions:

  • There are many areas of my life that I think I’m reasonably happy about when I’m well, but when I’m depressed they not only get me down, but I view them as a likely cause of my depression. Is this just the ‘depression talking’ (distorted thoughts and beliefs) and me grabbing at straws to make sense of things, or are these real problems that I’m refusing to tackle and which do indeed make me ill?
  • The psychoanalytical therapy I’ve had so far has been known to stir up difficult and painful stuff and I have subsequently relapsed into depression (I’m thinking in particular of the individual assessment sessions with Group Therapist here). Is this stuff that needed to be addressed, and would have made me ill sooner or later anyway, or is dwelling on things which don’t bother me in my day-to-day life unhelpful and misguided?

What I would really like is to be able to talk these questions through in a safe and non-judgemental environment. The problem is, I don’t feel Group Therapist is a safe person to discuss this stuff with, not only because he’s implicated, but because psychoanalytical theory (to the best of my knowledge) has set views about this. It’s all about the importance of the subconscious, of issues we’ve pushed out of our minds which continue to affect us, and of the need to stir up difficult and painful stuff and for things to get worse before they get better. From my perspective, though, I don’t think these are questions that can or should be answered easily. I don’t think there can ever be a ‘one size fits all’ answer that applies to every person and every situation, and I also think the answer in any one situation is unlikely to be black and white. It’s quite possible, for example, that when I see myself as well I am brushing a particular issue under the carpet, but that at the same time it’s not as big a problem as I think it is when I’m depressed, and is only a minor factor in me relapsing. I don’t know, I might be doing Group Therapist a disservice here (trust issues, much?) but I’ve seen him work very hard to persuade other group members of things and I don’t want to put myself in a situation where I feel pressured into accepting a particular explanation or belief. Another thing I’ve really valued about the therapy that’s helped me most – which was all person-centred – is that I did have the space to come to my own conclusions. Even if Group Therapist is right about everything, I feel it’s more likely to ‘stick’ if I have that opportunity to realise things for myself and not feel as though they’re being forced on me.

I became disillusioned with the NHS approach to CBT because I didn’t feel it was flexible enough – I was taught helping coping techniques, and the practical side of things was good, but there wasn’t the opportunity to talk about painful childhood experiences if I needed to, nor anything else to try if a thought record / behaviour experiment didn’t help with a particular issue. The psychoanalytical service seems to be just as inflexible, just at the opposite end of the spectrum (I know I’ve made the comparison with communism and fascism before). :P Now that my mood and energy levels are fine, what I really want to do is focus on the practical stuff – make sure I’m taking good care of myself, make sure I’m not pushing myself too hard. Since the fatigue went away, I’ve been doing a lot of that. I read a self-help book about body/eating issues and am implementing the ideas in that which are really helping. I’ve admitted that on mirtazapine I really do need nine hours of sleep most nights and am making sure I go to bed early enough. I’ve acknowledged that getting overwhelmed can be a big problem for me and so prioritising is vital, and I’ve found a prioritising system that seems to work. I’ve recognised that the long days teaching in another city were really draining me last year so this year I’ve arranged to only ever teach one workshop in a day, not two. But this is all stuff I’ve done and figured out on my own, because my therapy group is emphatically not about taking practical steps.

What are the reasons for staying in group therapy, then?

1. As I said above, I can’t be sure that the group hasn’t helped. I’ve left a lot of therapists in the past and I don’t want to cut and run again for what may be the wrong reasons.

2. I can’t afford to see someone privately at the moment, so the group (or individual therapy at the same service) is my only option for a long-term talking treatment. I could access shorter-term counselling through a local charity, but with my mental health being so changeable and cyclical, and with one of my main goals being to understand why I relapse and whether it can be prevented, I feel I really do need something long term.

3. I really like some of the others in the group and can relate to them a lot. Contact outside the group isn’t allowed and I would very much miss them.

4. The idea of having to discuss my issues with the therapy and reasons for wanting to leave in front of the whole group – a place which still doesn’t feel safe even after seven months of treatment – is extremely daunting. I’m worried that Group Therapist will pressure me and the other patients will be upset or think they’re to blame. OK, this isn’t a good reason for staying but the group does feel a bit like Hotel California sometimes…

5. I’m worried that if I leave the group and decline the option of individual psychoanalytical therapy – especially if I’m not arranging my own counselling straight away – I’ll be viewed as ‘non-compliant’ and this will cause problems accessing NHS mental health or fertility treatment in future.

6. I’m also worried that if I leave the group, then relapse and need more support, I won’t be able to get it and may really regret my decision.

According to WordPress I’ve written close to 2,000 words. I will leave this now and allow the dust to settle in my head, but any comments or feedback would be welcome.

P.S. If you follow me on Twitter you may know that I recently suffered a bereavement. I’m not blogging about it publicly for privacy reasons but I do really appreciate all your support. The death was expected and I’m coping with it well but it’s still a sad time for me and my family.

11 things

I’ve been tagged in the ’11 things’ survey by Giant Fossilized Armadillo, which apparently means I need to do the following:

  1. You must post these rules.
  2. Each person must post 11 things about themselves on their blog.
  3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.

So, here goes!

11 things about me

1. I consider myself to be 75% English, 22% Scottish and 3% Italian. This means there is a 50% chance that a team I support will win the rugby Six Nations Championship (in theory, at least).

2. I’m a pescetarian, which means I don’t eat meat or poultry, but do occasionally eat fish and seafood. I try to make sure it’s ethically sourced. I was veggie throughout my teens and for a couple of years more recently, and I often still refer to myself as veggie – it’s not strictly accurate but stops people trying to feed me chicken.

3. I’m allergic to penicillin (and apparently something else too, judging from the rashes I keep getting).

4. I speak figs. (What do you mean, how can someone speak figs? All right, here’s a reference.)

5. I like to eat figs too, but my favourite foods are cheese, cake and mushrooms.

6. I’m very fussy about which gloves and socks I’ll wear, because I hate the way they feel against my nails. I currently have fingerless alpaca gloves and a small selection of ‘safe’ fluffy socks.

7. When I’m blogging or working from home, I frequently have to type around the cat.

8. I can’t cope with losing things. It’s not that I’m particularly materialistic – I just find it distressing not to know where something is, even if it has no real financial or sentimental value. I’ve never really understood what that’s about.

9. I’m also rubbish at finding things. If something’s not where I expect it to be, or doesn’t look how I expect it to look, it could be right in front of my nose and I wouldn’t spot it.

10. When I was a child I liked to play at being blind. I’ve walked through the park near my parents’ house with my eyes closed the whole time, and I’ve tidied my bedroom with a blindfold on… just to prove I could.

11. As a teenager I went to band camp every Easter. No, I didn’t do what you’re thinking… but I might have been responsible for tying tampons on the boys’ violin pegs. ;)

11 answers

1. What made you start blogging?
There are several reasons, but the main one is that I’d started to read other mental health blogs (Pandora’s Confessions of a Serial Insomniac was the first) and it inspired me to do something similar myself. I’ve always loved writing and found it helpful, and I’ve kept a journal since I was 13. I also used to use online mental health forums as part of my support system, but a very bad experience with one put me off. I prefer the autonomy that the blogosphere offers me.

2. What’s the craziest (fun crazy, not crazy crazy!) thing you’ve ever done?
When I moved back to the UK from Italy, due to a friend’s cock-up there was a gap of two weeks between me having to move out of my Italian flat and my flight to Scotland. I could have changed the flight for an admin fee, but instead I decided to backpack around Italy with all my worldly possessions in the left luggage office at Milan Central Station. That was a very cool experience.

3. When was the last time you laughed until it hurt, and why?
Yesterday, when I found out CNN can’t tell the difference between London and Norwich. They got Cornwall right, though.

4. Are you a morning or evening person?
I used to be a morning person, then I started taking mirtazapine which makes it difficult to wake up. Now I’m most productive in the early afternoon.

5. This has been asked before, but I don’t care, it’s interesting – who would you invite to your ideal dinner party and why?
Once upon a time I would have said Sylvia Plath because her poems about depression really spoke to me (and this question is the only time you can invite the dead to dinner), but to be honest, my ideal dinner party would be with close friends. Especially those I don’t see often because they live far away.

6. What did you want to be when you grow up?
I kept changing my mind, but doctor and writer both figured frequently.

7. What do you want to be now? Are you already there or working towards it?
I’m there now. :) Because I’m self-employed and my career is kind of unusual, I don’t like to post my job title on this blog, but it does combine writing and medical knowledge.

8. Order or chaos?
Oh, definitely order. I’m a control freak. A little chaos is good, though.

9. Science or art? (BOTH says the nerd over here, hehe)
I agree with Katie – both! I love art, music and creative writing but I’m also fascinated by medical science and abnormal psychology.

10. What’s your favourite thing to eat for breakfast?
Fried or scrambled eggs with mushrooms (of course). Preferably portobello mushrooms cooked in very good quality olive oil.

11. Do you find asking questions or answering them easier?
In real life I prefer asking questions because some questions are awkward and I hate being put on the spot. However, for this survey it’s definitely been easier to answer the questions than think of new ones.

11 questions

  1. What is your weirdest fear?
  2. If you could travel back in time, which time period would you visit?
  3. How did you decide whether to blog under a pseudonym or use your real name?
  4. What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought, and was it worth it?
  5. Where is your ideal holiday destination and who would you go with?
  6. If you won the lottery jackpot, what would you do with the money and how would you keep yourself occupied?
  7. Are you squeamish and about what?
  8. Chocolate or wine?
  9. Meds or talking treatments? (I’m going to be really mean and make you choose, even if you need both.)
  10. What was your favourite toy when you were little?
  11. Would you rather be in poor physical health, poor mental health or poor financial health? (I realise these things often go hand in hand, but for the purposes of this question they magically don’t.)

Katie has already tagged some of the people I would usually ask (namely Aardvark, Chananth and Zee Aitch Bully). I therefore tag:

Of course, if anyone I’ve tagged would rather not take part, that’s fine too. :)