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Telling my experience

I was recently asked to do a presentation about my recovery for the Kings Health Partnership. This is an organisation made up of 3 London Mental Health Trusts. If you like to watch my talk about my OCD and the recovery I did at ADRU then please visit https://twitter.com/rmntabatha/status/782145712649822208

 

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Anxiety Disorders Residential Unit, OCD, Work

UPDATE -My Life after ADRU

Many people have contacted me asking where my last week entry is. Well since leaving ADRU my life has finally got going. I’ve changed jobs and moved house.

I wasn’t happy at my last ward, I’m a Psychiatric Nurse, 80% of the staff didn’t care or could be bothered. I didn’t want to work in that type of environment any more so with the support from my wonderful ADRU therapist Anna I changed jobs. Something which I would have found very scary. Meeting new people was something I found very daunting. Where did I move to? I loved the atmosphere at Bethlem, the facilities, the location, the people. So I am now a Senior Staff Nurse in another unit on the grounds, and I love it. Only difficulty I encountered was during my interview. One of the panelist was one of the Activity organisers at ADRU!! She recognised me instantly, we had a little giggle, but another member of staff had to be found. I thought that this would cause problems, but thankfully it didn’t as I got the job.

On my first day I bumped into Joel (OT at ADRU) who wished me good luck, and wonderful Anna went past in her car beeping her horn and waving exstically. It was a wonderful introduction to my new world. If some staff ask why I wanted to work at Bethlem so much I tell them honestly that I was an In-Patient there. I’m not ashamed or worried about the response, it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. My life was seriously shit before I was admitted.

The low point has to have been when my sister said that she was so concerned about me she wouldn’t leave her children with me. To this day this still hurts, ALOT, but I can now see what she means. There is a picture of me at her house and I’m looking down at the floor, no make-up, and my hair is greasy. I don’t look well, I wasn’t well.

I have finally moved out of staff accommodation after 10 years (!!!) and have my own flat in Beckenham, close to the hospital. I love it, and for the first time in my life my 600+ books are not in hight and width order. Hooray. They are in colour order, but only because it is a very popular thing to do at the moment (that is my excuse, I know its a bad one hehehe). I haven’t noticed many new obsessional thoughts, going into my local supermarket took a lot of effect but I did it. I even took my Gran shopping around the massive Morrisons in Plymouth, which was one of my goals, and I loved every second of it.

New problem. My sister Kayleigh is getting married on the 18th July this year. No that isn’t the problem hehehe, being her Chief Bridesmaid in a low back dress is. I skin-pick. Have done since I was 4, and in a very wrong way I actually find it southing, but the picking on my back had to stop, just till the wedding. In its place my poor head, and sometimes my ears, has taken the brunt. When getting our hair ready for her Hen-Weekend my sister Jenna (an ex-hairdresser) noticed that massive blood patches, so was gentle. My head really hurts. However there is something that helps, colouring-in. You can get hundreds of adult colouring-in books now, I have most of them. Colouring gives my hands something to do when watching telly, or sat on the train. Its a distraction and it appears to be helping.

If you are reading this blog because you are thinking about going into ADRU, or are already there, the main bit of advice I can give is to do everything. Do everything they tell you, even if it sounds daft, dangerous, or very very scary. It is hard work but my God it works. Think about what is the alternative? Do you want to remain like this forever? I couldn’t continue the way I was living, it was destroying me, there was no future for me. Now there is, and I have ADRU to thank for that xxx

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Week 14 – Occupational Health

With treatment coming to an end, life starts again, including returning to work. I’ve been on long-term sick since March. My OCD made traveling on busses almost impossible. I love my job as a Registered Nurse in Mental Health, so I kept doing the journeys. Originally it took exactly an hour from my flat to the ward, but my OCD turned traveling into a severely anxiety provoking activity, making the journey each way take 2 hours plus. The stress was building up causing deep depression, which eventually took it toll. Very very bad thoughts started. My family would be better off without me, the world would be better off without me. Thankfully I held on. I wanted to see my nieces and nephew grow up, I wanted to be part of their lives. My family would send me pictures of them nearly everyday to keep me going. I was in a very dark place.

That was then. Now I’m working with Occupational Health to return to work. The Doctor at Occy Health was wonderful. I had been seeing her for years and she knew how important it was for me to be back at work. It was agreed that I would have a gradual return starting with 4 days a week for 4 hours as supernumerary, then increasing gradually my hours and responsibilities.

As I haven’t used any of my annual leave I was hoping to use 3 weeks of leave before starting work. I’ve been told to contact my ward manager to arrange this. Christmas with my family would be wonderful. I’m still waiting for my manager to phone me back. Next week is my last week at ADRU, and my Mum and Gran are coming up to chat with my therapist. I hope they realise how hard I’m working.

In cookery group this week I made none-cook maltesers brownies. They were bloody gorgeous, my favourite so far.

I’m getting my life back

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Week 13 – A bad week to be a fish at ADRU

Everyone at ADRU (Anxiety Disorders Residential Unit) is allocated tasks which they are responsible for. Mine was to feed the fish daily and clean the tank every couple of weeks.

Suddenly the fish started dying and the water turned very cloudy and slimy. My OCD brain went into overload. I’ve done something wrong so people will hate me and attack me. However instead of retreating into myself and hiding away I started work.

With the help from Christine the Housekeeper we cleaned the entire tank, stones, filter, everything. I took 3 hours but it was worth it.

However the fish kept dying. So in desperation we asked the owner of the local pet shop to come and look at the tank. He noticed that the fish weren’t eating all their food so it was just sitting at the bottom. Thinking that they didn’t like what we were giving to them I gave them more. A lot more. So much that the pregnant fish weren’t pregnant, just fat! Reducing the food improved the overall state of the tank.

This seems like something basic but it turned into behavioural experiments for many other residents. For those with contamination OCD this was very difficult to watch. Watching me put my entire arm in a cloudy fish tank was too much for some residents. They feared that I would get physically sick. Seeing me days later still well helped them with their own anxities. Everything that is done at ADRU is done in the best interest of the residents. Everything is turned into a behavioural experiment.

No cookery group this week as I had to go to my flat. The next day I had a review with my community Psychiatrist who reported that she was happy to finally see me smiling. Results are clearly showing 🙂

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Week 12 – the massive Tesco (dun dun derrrrrrrr!!)

For 10 years I haven’t been able to enter any large supermarkets. Most people would say ‘so what, go to the smaller ones’, Every Thursday my Mum takes my Gran to the massive Morrisons to do her weekly shop. I go with them but stay in the car. I would love to be able to go in there and help my Gran with her shopping. I have a bad history of Supermarkets.

Whilst a Student Nurse and living in Hackney I would do my weekly shop at the massive Tesco just off Mare Street. Exams were coming up and my anxiety levels were increasing by the second. I don’t know what triggered me on the particular day. I walked in Tesco and was suddenly completely over whelmed by the sights and the mess. Half full shelves, cardboard everywhere. I picked the can aisle and set to work. For 3 hours I made the shelves look full and removed every bit of cardboard.  If a customer picked something off the shelve I would instantly tidy it. Considering the large amount of customers this was really a never-ending task. Customers would ask me for directions thinking I was a member of staff!! Eventually Security got involved and had to drag me out, embarrassed I never told anyone that this happen.

So going into a large supermarket became a behavioural experiment. Armed with a trusty Therapist Anna, we made our way to the massive Tesco at Elmers End. Anna drove us there to reduce my anxiety levels. Going there on a bus would be another behavioural experiment for another day. The Tesco looked MASSIVE so my anxiety levels went through the roof. I was ready to run in the opposite direction, fight or flight had kicked in and flight was going to win. But we walked in. The automatic doors opened to a warehouse full of noise, bright lights, hundreds of people, and ‘mess’. It was incredibly overwhelming causing my feet to stick to the ground. I wasn’t moving.

Directly in front was a magazine section. We would go there and find the funniest magazine. A magazine which would be mentioned on Have I got News for You, this weeks publication! Feet stuck to the ground it took a lot of effort to walk forward into this gigantic overwhelming store. With hands covering my face and hyper-vigilant we found a funny magazine, Weekly Carp, which we thought said Weekly Crap! Eventually, as predicted, my anxiety levels came down but I still felt alert. We stayed in there for about 40 minutes, which seemed like a million years.

But i did it, thanks to the amazing support from my therapist. It left me completely exhausted but it was worth it. It was a start.

In cookery group this week I made Nigella’s mint choc chip cupcakes, which were very yummy. No cooking disasters or anxiety attacks. You cant beat a cup of tea with cake yummy.

http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/mint-chocolate-cupcakes-1170

Be kind to yourself and each other (Stephen Fry said this so it must be true)

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Week 11 – Mentally exhausted and extension

Some weeks are harder than others, and this week was a perfect example of this. My mood was up and down, sometimes bursting into tears for no reason. Anxiety levels through the roof. It all came to head during Wednesdays cookery group.

It was suggested to me to cook a savoury meal rather than the normal chocolate cake. I’m a terrible cook, living on microwave meals or snacking. The only time I ever used the oven was to make a tuna and pasta bake for my then boyfriend! This seamed to be the idea option. Previously I used a ready-made sauce so it was easier, this time I made it from scratch. I was also helping another resident make spicy potato wedges. Keeping an eye on the boiling water, making a sauce, and monitoring the other resident made my stress levels go through the roof. I walked out, leaving the food cooking, and sat at the table outside the kitchen. I put my head in my hands and burst into tears. It may seem an over reaction but anyone who knows what its like to have a severe anxiety disorder will know what it feels like. The wonderful Occupational Therapist tried to encourage me to return to the kitchen but all he received was a random out-pouring of anxiety thoughts and arm waving. Not deterred he made me a cup of tea and allowed me to vent. I didn’t return to the kitchen that day. Instead I went to my room and cried my eyes out. Some days are indeed harder than others.

The option of an extension was mention. The average stay is 12 weeks and this is the length they recommend and work towards. My therapist felt that as therapy was going very well it would be extended for a further 3 weeks. I had mixed feelings about this. On one hand I was glad for the extra time as some aspects still hadn’t been covered, such as, my OCD stopping me from reading none-fiction, and not being able to go into large supermarkets. On the other hand I was extra keen to get my life back on track, going back to work, doing ‘normal’ adult things. I was becoming an impatient in-patient.

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Anxiety Disorders Residential Unit, OCD

Week 10 and time is ticking away

Presently in the house there has been an elephant in the room. A lot of us are coming to the end of our 12 week treatment period. For those doing well and extra time is require an extension of 4 weeks can be added.

Some residents here routinely check with other residents to ensure that everyone has the same time with their therapist. If a person has therapy for 4 times a week, the person who has it 3 times a week wants to know why they have less. I frequently remind people that we are all different and will progress at different times.

The care and support we receive here is exceptional. Everyone, from the therapists, doctors, Occupational Therapists, domestics, other residents, all want everyone to succeed. There is a real sense of ‘we are all in it together’. Evidence of budget cuts are evident but the staff are still putting 100% into everything they do. They all work very hard, and still manage to have a smile on their face at the end of the day. They are all brilliant, and I hope they realise how much we appreciate them.

In cookery this week I made again my famous extreme chocolate and orange cake. It took well over an hour to cook but it was worth it. It was very yummy.

Do you know of someone who lives alone? Go and have a cup of tea with them, it will make a big difference to their day xx

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