My mum died in a hospital with my two sisters and brother by her side. I couldn’t be there I’d just had a major operation two days earlier and when I heard I sobbed and my wife held me as I began to momentarily fall into grief.
Therapy -Conkers – Thoughts on thinking
I’ve been in therapy for two and a half years now and it will finish in June and I know I’ve been really lucky to have such an amazing therapist ( no I’ve not idealised her … much)
The type of therapy I’m having is Transference Focused Psychotherapy and if you’re interested more in it you can read about it below
My main comment on this therapy is that it’s changed so much my way of thinking about me and my life. I am more content as a person I’m not going to be happy all the time, I feel sad, I feel envy, I feel angry, I feel emotions oh the joy, I was cut off from them before. I can now feel the wonder of my emotions in their full blown glory and sometimes it hurts and feels overwhelming but I’d rather feel.
I can also pause (most times) before reacting my days of self harm and overdosing are mostly behind me, I am human I sometimes stumble .
I see the good in things I missed before, like the movement of the leaves on the trees and in people I see their good and their bad and all of their inbetween.
I’ve done a lot of thinking in therapy lots about my childhood and my mum with schizophrenia and how that affects me now, particularly my deep deep fear of being left, it paralyses me still today, its my Achilles heal. I hate the clock in therapy I see the session ending I hear it’s tick tock and I want to smash it as it counts down the time of each session, oh damn those endings. I even went through a phase of ending the sessions before she could until I realised what I was doing and then I laughed at myself ..’oh Sue those endings’ Needless to say I’m still working on it or maybe I will accept its part of me.
My relationship with my therapist is also key after all it’s transference focused psychotherapy .. I usually spend my time looking at her shoes or the floor or the bin or out of the window or at my hands constantly messing fidgeting and sometimes I look into her eyes …more often these days. It’s taken time for me to trust.
Which brings me to the conker.
I often dissociate in therapy I either can’t hear what’s been said or I just sit slumped my eyes half closed and I can’t open them no matter how I try and once they shut completely and I was dragged back to my childhood frightened alone I clung onto the chair whilst she talked and I came round and slowly my eyes opened. Calm .
So back to the conker I was using it to ground with, to keep me in the here and now not dissociating, I walk before therapy and found it in the park and each session I use different objects my bracelet with beads my fingers.
She said ‘so what is it with the conker?’ I replied defensively feeling criticised and ashamed that I sit messing with a conker, I told her I always fidget each week it helps me. I changed the subject. Sometimes I hate feeling different I hate my mental health I don’t want to be ‘Mental’
I went away though thinking why is she asking me about the conker? Does she get sick of me messing? Should I try to stop fidgeting in therapy? If I keep messing will she have a go at me again? Why did she have to say that about the conker ? My emotions started screaming I was judging her myself and I ruminated. I got angry, I felt ashamed.
I then before next session wondered whether to take a conker in, what would she think? Then what if I didn’t take one in would she wonder why I hadn’t? Or maybe I would take two in she can analyse that!!
At my next session I looked at her took a deep breath and said ‘why did you ask me about the conker ?’ In a somewhat accusatory tone.
She replied ‘ I was curious about the conker and what it meant to you’ I sighed I had failed to mentalise correctly I thought she was judging me but she was not, I’d failed to see her intention which was kind and curious. I’d wasted my energy and time on a thing that was not.
We then talked about my thinking and the whole incident of the conker so I could understand my misunderstandings.
It has reminded me once again that all of this was just thinking all of it my thoughts none of it was fact until I checked out things with my therapist.
We have done a lot of this in therapy she is MBT ( mentalisation based therapy) trained and it’s helped me with relationships I don’t jump to conclusions so quickly I think more about what the other person maybe thinking their beliefs desires needs and feelings. Not just mine, although mine matter too.
I wonder how often we all fail to mentalise? Its worth thinking about !! We all have those ‘conker’ moments in our lives.
Below is a PowerPoint on mentalising if you’re interested in reading more
Moved, touched, left wondering, sad, a glimmer of hope, distressed, frightened all profound feelings I felt when visiting In a Dark Wood the link explains it here –
To begin with I will give you two definitions of validation …
To acknowledge and accept a person’s feelings, thoughts, behaviours and internal experience as valid and understandable.
To confirm or strengthen what is relevant, true, or effective about a response, be it a thought, emotion, physical sensation, or action. Validation requires empathy (the accurate understanding of the person’s experience) but validation also includes the communication that the person’s response makes sense. (Linehan) From Karyn Hall’s NEABPD call in 2011
Some of the things validation helps with are communication, building trust, it can help lessen the distress for someone and shows you just get it.
Invalidation causes the person to get more upset and this happens to many people who self harm and attend A&E or by other Health Care Professionals not taking people seriously or family and friends.
When I’m educating people about validation this is the story I tell ….
One day my daughter had gone off on a bike ride with my wife and I was outside gardening. Suddenly I heard the car pull in and I thought hmm what’s happened here? My daughter appeared on the path her chin wobbling looking really upset.
I asked her ‘what’s wrong what’s happened? She replied that her chain had broken on her bike and she didn’t get to go on the bike ride ..
I said ‘oh no you really wanted to go on that bike ride you must be really upset ‘ (validation)
She started crying and I asked her what she wanted to do she replied her voice faltering that she just didn’t know. I saw that there was rhubarb growing in the garden and she loved baking. I said how about you make a rhubarb crumble I can cut you some? She said ok and after a few tears off she went into the house and baked a delicious rhubarb crumble.
Now take two…. rewind …. If she had come down the path and I’d said oh you can go on a bike ride another day, listen big girls don’t cry (invalidation)
I know she would have become really upset more than likely run down the path into the house slamming doors and more importantly I wouldn’t have got a rhubarb crumble!!
But seriously this is what happens in life particularly with those who seek help for self harm. They are often ignored, treated with disdain and those overwhelming emotions that often bring people to self harm are completely invalidated. A few validating statements such as ‘ it looks like you’re having a really tough time right now’ or ‘You must be really hurting right now’ would help. It’s not about necessarily agreeing with the self harm its about letting the person know you get the real emotional pain they are in.
My thoughts are also that people could learn a thing or two from the people on Twitter with mental health difficulties … Watch how they validate each other on a daily basis show empathy and really help each other. We know how it feels and we know how to help, peer support at its best.
I’m wondering how people use validation in their work or day to day life? I use it at work with people my colleagues and my family. It truly helps with relationships.
The past few weeks have once again opened my eyes to neglect and I would also say abuse within the social care system and the abuse that happens in the mental health system.
My mum with a label of schizophrenia who lives in a home which I can’t name, but if anyone wants to know they can DM me, had left my mum with a bed sore and oral thrush and she had ended up in hospital with severe pneumonia .
They just a week before had informed us via. CPA meeting they wanted her to leave her home as they couldn’t manage. They didn’t mention her bed sore or the thrush I’m guessing they knew but if they didn’t it just showed the neglect of her by them.
My mum had lived in that home for 20 plus years and they wanted her to leave just like that. She had a stroke a year ago and had now finds it difficult to get around and her speech is very limited she’s 80 and the home she had for all those years wants to throw her out . She has friends there and yes she gets angry frustrated I’m guessing as she was in pain and couldn’t do what she used to be able to.
I’d be angry too if I were in her position I’d be livid and I am so so angry with them I’m fuming I could swear all over this post and I have whilst writing. We’ve kept quiet on occasion as we feared she would be thrown out. An instance of this was when a member of staff restrained her aged 76 with her legs over her head, my mum had insulted her and was assaulted by the woman. The police were involved but the case was dropped, I mean who would believe a person with schizophrenia and her fellow housemates who witnessed it? Not a court that’s for sure. The woman was dismissed I’m guessing she’s working somewhere else in the system doing who knows what? We felt gagged afraid to complain anymore, afraid for our mum.
We’ve been visiting as a family to the hospital the past few weeks and we believe her home won’t have her back . Not one person has visited her from there … They are uncaring people in my opinion . It’s her home damn it it’s her home.
I’m sad very sad for my mum and my family… Things are hard enough as it is knowing you have to trust people for the care of someone but you find out they don’t give a damn .
My second story is that of my nephew with autism who was in a home in the community really happy then his ‘carers’ started to sanction him not letting him have his treats train rides and hot chocolate, I thought negative reinforcement had gone out with the dark ages my sister said. He ended up getting more frustrated and violent and ended up being sectioned and thrown into the mental health system. It was there he had his arm broken in an illegal restraint all on CCTV.
He then was under a psychiatrist who told my sister she couldn’t visit as it was her fault he was so bad, but we all knew she was the person keeping him out of forensics which is where they said he needed to be , this psychiatrist thought he had to learn how to behave and should be punished not allowed things. This doesn’t help anyone especially with autism it’s barbaric and a nonsense in my opinion .
I love my nephew he tells me four stories and that’s his world it keeps him together and makes him happy. You can either get into his world or drag him into ours which to him is a scary place.I like his world best and he’s brilliant at dates of things, unbelievable in fact he has his talents, I love him he’s an amazing young man.
The psychiatrist lost his battle with the visits and then abruptly took him off clonazepam which made him poorly and was highly dangerous and could cause fits . One day on it the next off. This abuse by this man was unbelievable and my sister was powerless as he was under section. She did stick by him though and complained and the psychiatrist suddenly disappeared … We think he resigned and I wonder who he is punishing now?
The good ending to the story is my sister kept battling and he’s back now in the community at a brilliant place his own flat where he gets lots of support and positive reinforcement .
These stories though as I recount them make me angry, sad ,frustrated , scared and I see many like them on Twitter . If you follow @schizoaffected you can see how she was illegally sectioned and totally traumatised by the experience and by the distress the complaint procedure is causing to her when people don’t accept responsibility. I stand in solidarity with you.
All of this abuse, neglect and not thinking about the effects of actions against people, I wonder how many others it’s happening to?
My mum being removed from her home left to sit in her own piss so she got a bedsore, my nephew abused by a psychiatrist….. how the hell is this allowed to happen?
When you as a family and as a carer feel vulnerable for that vulnerable person, afraid they will be punished if you complain or lose their care that’s what makes me so so sad and so so angry I just cry . We couldn’t contemplate my mum losing her friends her home but now she is …..
My family are managing the best we can each doing our share of caring, it’s so difficult somedays and I reach out to all carers some who work day and night and who worry about their family member in a home.
My sister @TwittleyJules has written a song about her experiences with my nephew and is setting up a just giving page to buy it.
Finally I’d like to hear from others in this position and I’d like things to change but not sure how this will happen.
Who is being neglected and abused in the health and care system?
Who is being really well looked after I know there are brilliant people out there ..?
I’m always losing people well it seems that way to me .. I’ve been trying really hard to make relationships as I have a great difficulty with attachments, I become so distressed when people leave.
I’ve been trying to take a leap of faith trying to trust in people it’s like dipping your toe in the cold sea or jumping from the top diving board, I try to believe you won’t go.
On meeting my care coordinator today I noted she was well kempt although I often wonder where she gets her clothes from hmm Primark maybe, I don’t think they get paid very well. She also showed appropriate eye contact, although I try best as I can not to look at her. Her speech was a little forced but I put that down to the copious amounts of coffee she always goes on about that she drinks.
We were going to do my care plan which was mainly completed by herself, she had included such things when I’m feeling distressed to have a bath which would be difficult as I only have a shower and to go out walking after work. However this time of year it is dark and I am a little concerned for my safety.
We also looked at a safety plan which had numbers for me to call, at the minute I don’t have a mobile I sold mine so I could buy some more wine from when I’m feeling so overwhelmed, I guess I will just have to go to A&E and take my chances there although I don’t feel very welcome. Some of the doctors and nurses look a little scared of me but I just put that down to their paranoia which I think they should get some therapy to help with.
We talked about my family and how they could help but I’ve not seen them for years so I just put their phone numbers down anyway to please her. I’m quite good at that it helps our relationship I have to say though I’m always aware of my boundaries with her I don’t want to be telling her too much, I keep the names of my rabbits from her I think that’s really important
She got a little frustrated with me as I couldn’t think of steps to take when I felt suicidal I don’t think she was being very cooperative . I was trying my hardest and I tried to validate her feelings of frustration which helped a little and we managed to complete my care and safety plan.
She says that this plan will really help me with my recovery I think she is suffering with delusions and I am quite concerned for her I think to myself she needs some medication but I’m not sure she will comply with that. Oh well.
My care coordinator told me she couldn’t see me for a few weeks as she was in training and on holiday I don’t think she is engaging very well with me and wonder if she needs a short stay in hospital so people can make sure she complies with her duties as my care coordinator .
I’m going to to make sure that I write the notes up on my computer programme (lack of insight) just in case something happens to her before the end of the day after visiting me. I also decide to do a risk assessment with her not there as that’s the sort of thing she might do and I am pretty worried.
Well that’s another visit over with I will look to see if their are any improvements for next time but I’m not very hopeful I think I might tell her to get some therapy… not sure she’s ready for it though she probably needs stabilising…… Oh well
All of this is completely fabricated my care coordinators have all been really helpful, kind and included me in decision making … However I have read some funny stories on Twitter. I just hope it makes you laugh… If the boot was on the other foot….