This evening I’ve been writing a list of things that I struggle with, that I’d like to be looked at with my psychologist. This is following her asking whether or not I thought I’d managed to make her aware of all of my problems or during our assessment, to which we both agreed that that certainly wasn’t the case and so she’d work with me with the assumption that we’d be continuing to uncover different things as we went along. I realise how lucky I am to have someone so aware of the complexity of mental illness and the difficulty in expressing one’s troubles/problems.
In the time between our session I got to thinking that actually there were things that I could write down and let her know of straight away – and, even better, I have referrals, assessments and notes to help me here and jog my memory a bit.
In the interests of wanting to be open and honest, and especially with the hope of increasing understanding of mental illness, I thought it would be good to share this list with you. Now, it is obviously personal to an incredibly high degree, so I just ask that you please do not leave judgemental or critical comments or this post, and that you please don’t suggest certain therapies etc (just because I’m already receiving all the support available in my area, following extensive assessments and lots of professional advice).
So, rather than what diagnoses can often make appear to be quite simplistic, easily defined, and easy to pick apart/treat as entire ‘conditions’, I hope this post shows the complexity that lies behind all of this, and the many elements that often have to be tackled to treat severe mental illness. Below are all elements of ‘me’ and ‘my illness’ that fall under the shortened descriptions provided by diagnosis of Mixed Personality Disorder, Severe Clinical Depression, and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. I have omitted the basics of mood, safety, etc. and of course there is likely to be more that I can’t remember or haven’t acknowledged/realised yet.
*deep breath* Here goes…
Things that I struggle with/would like to investigate/get help with
([P] = opinion of a psychologist/psychiatrist)
*Struggling to recognise/express/cope with emotions
– [P] emotional dysregulation
*Struggling to pick apart, sort through, understand and express thoughts and experiences
– [P] need to ‘excavate’ thoughts and feelings
– [P] used and recommended mentalisation based techniques because I struggle so much with my own and other’s thoughts/feelings
– [P] “unable to verbalise or reflect on her thoughts or emotional states”
– [P] express thoughts and feelings in general terms (suggested to be alexithymia)
* Feeling a of shame/guilt/embarrassment/bekng at fault for being unwell and needing help [P]
– [P] need to work on self compassion with urgency
– [P] “greatly struggles in interpersonal relationships…very focused on trying to avoid upsetting or burdening anyone”
– [P] “fears of abandonment stemming from precarious family support”
– [P] understandable in context of circumstances growing up, but need to stop protecting and looking after everyone else at the result of neglecting myself
* Issues with allowing myself to feel, acknowledge or express anger – instead directing it at myself or misinterpreting it [P]
* [P] Need to acknowledge and understand my feelings, pain and trauma e.g. my father, physical illness
– [P] in particular, it’s been felt by psychotherapists etc. that exploring my father’s ‘cruelty’ (a term used by them… I’m still kind of sticking my head in the sand) is key and explains a lot of the things that I think/feel
* Detachment, dissociation, depersonalisation [P]
*Results of Young Schema Questionnaire: [P]
– dominant schemas: self-sacrifice, subjugation, unrelenting standards, social undesirability
* Memory/cognition/information processing problems [P]
– [P] e.g. “has to study ridiculously hard to get information to gel”
– [P] e.g. “poor at generating images from words, linking memories to feelings, retrieving specific memories and generally in communication”
– [P] “blankness in her head, an absence of thought”
And that’s just the tip of the ice burg!
I hope me baring all and sharing this can help people understand that these little labels can have a multitude of things behind them, or to help sufferers feel less alone.