Some of you may have noticed that my blogging (which has always been irregular at the best of times) has been even less often than usual. This is for a number of reasons but mainly one, one that I have debated blogging about for a while now.
You see, this blog was originally about OCD. I was diagnosed, I had excellent treatment and I made a good recovery. It was a fairy story, albeit with ups and downs, highs and lows. Occasionally I would stray off onto more general posts about OCD or my life in general but it has mainly stayed on the topic of obsessive compulsive disorder.
The thing is, I have other demons. In the last couple of years I have slowly developed other symptoms, fallen into moments of utter crisis and experienced things that I can’t put down to OCD.
I don’t know where to start the story because like most stories it doesn’t have a clear beginning. Over the last two years I have had periods where I felt so low and full of self-loathing that I have cut myself and needed stitches, stayed in bed all day and been invaded by suicidal thoughts. I have also had periods where I have felt so high and wonderful that I have churned out pages of work whilst getting no sleep, like I can follow every conversation in a crowded room full of hundreds of brilliant ideas. Unfortunately these periods tend to end badly, the euphoria making way for paranoid thoughts and invasive voices.
In April of this year, my mental health started to deteriorate significantly. My psychiatrist was concerned and started talking about hospitalisation but I was determined to finish my Masters degree. Somehow I did and once my exams were over I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. I stayed there until September, moving from the young persons’ unit to a general ward after it became apparent that there were significant problems hiding behind the depression that I was admitted for.
In September, four days after being discharged, not on stable medication and against the advice of my medical team and my family, I moved to the UK to start my PhD. Two months later I had once again slipped into a deep depression and my parents took the decision for me – I returned to France and was admitted to the unit I had been in during the summer. Whilst I was there things deteriorated further and the decision was made to section me. It was traumatic, involved being physically manhandled onto a closed unit when I refused to go myself and was incredibly hard both for myself and my family.
The unit I was on was closed for good just before Christmas and I was moved to a hospital closer to home. I have since been discharged and am attending as a day patient. I have taken a temporary withdrawal from my PhD (until at least April) and to be honest, things are so much better than they have been for a long time. I feel that the medication that I am currently on is working well and my head feels clearer than it has done for a very long time. This week I also start CBT with the same psychiatrist who treated me for my OCD. I don’t know if it will help or not but I figure it is worth a try.
Different diagnoses have been given over the last year but whilst having a label can be reassuring, it is just that, a label. It is a description of my symptoms, nothing more and nothing less. I don’t feel the need to share it at the moment, it is still fresh and I think it will take me a little longer to comfortably wear it as I did with OCD.
My friends and family have been brilliant. My mum has been especially fantastic, handling hysterical phone calls to release me whilst I was under section and generally calming me down, my dad has been Mr Rational throughout and my brothers have been stars, driving me to appointments and coming to see me in hospital. My friends have been remarkably patient with me as I have progressively withdrawn over the last few months. I still find it hard to be sociable, to reply to messages or make that phone call but they have remained stoic and consistently offered support and love. The university has also been fantastic and hopefully will help to coordinate a gentle and adapted return to my studies in a couple of months time. My supervisor has been more than helpful and has regularly emailed to ask for news and updates. I am a very lucky girl.
So that is it really. Not the whole story (I am not ready to tell that yet and may never be) but enough. I share it in the hope that it will help others and as an apology for my lack of presence on social media recently.
Obsessively compulsively yours,