Small Steps

Hey!

I’ve been reflecting on this past year and how I have taken a lot of small steps that have added up to be huge leaps forward, and I am now a significantly different person than I was even a few months ago. A lot of this is up to my mental illness and how my recovery has become more and more stable, to the point that one of my small steps is coming off one of my medications I’ve been on for over a year! The changes being made are small but very challenging for me.

The medication in question is an antipsychotic and mood stabiliser that helps to reduce my psychotic symptoms of visual hallucinations, paranoia and the intensity of hearing voices, as well as managing my anxiety and obsessive behaviours to some extent. The dose was reduced by 25mg, a small fraction of the full dose but had a quick effect. I had several panic attacks for the first 2 weeks, but it calmed down after that. The voices got gradually worse but haven’t got any worse recently. I’m managing and they aren’t controlling me at this point so the decision has been made to put it down another 25mg. I’m going to be tracking my symptoms but I’m feeling really hopeful and positive about this change.

Another big change that has happened recently is I am now independent in taking my medication myself. One of the reasons for this is that I have stayed out of crisis for so long, making me more trusted not to overdose during a bad moment. Along with this, my alarm I set helps me remember and means I consistently take it on time! 

Thanks for reading, see you tomorrow.

Liam 🙂

Daily Posts

Hey!!

I’m going to be attempting near enough daily posts this month. We’re going to see how it goes, but I will definitely be posting a minimum of 10 over the period of this month so please follow if you’d like to read them. On average I post 3 a month but I really enjoyed doing blogmas in December and was really happy with the things I wrote about, so I will be trying again. I go to college full time so I am busy but I’ve got lots of ideas for posts and will be trying my best to create posts I am happy with regardless of their length. Quality not quantity!

Over this month I will be writing about mental health as per usual but other topics too like…

  • Being transgender – how my referral to Tavistock is going and how I’m coping being pre-t
  • Spirituality and my recent interest in chakras
  • Yoga – following up from my January goals
  • Books – reviewing Doing it! By Hannah Witton

And more!

See you tomorrow

Liam 🙂

Being New to CAMHS

Ah CAMHS, reminiscing over CAMHS causes mild panic, disgust and some level gratitude for keeping me alive. Being new to CAMHS is like being sucked up by a whirlwind and waiting for them to plop you down somewhere whilst you get smashed in the face with new people and professionals and diagnoses. Many people detest it, however make up your own mind, don’t listen to everyone else. Whilst I was with CAMHS I found it very helpful and vital in my recovery. Looking back I can see the flaws and things I would have done differently if I was a professional, however I am not. And I am still thankful of them.

People get admitted to CAMHS for all different types of illnesses. And also for no illnesses at all. CAMHS help people who are: depressed, anxious, transgender, autistic, have ADHD, have a learning disability, have an eating disorder, have psychosis or schizophrenia, have bipolar disorder, have a personality disorder, have PTSD, dissociative disorders and more. 

I was thinking of structuring this post addressing the new CAMHS go-er and some things you need to remember, and then some CAMHS vocab, because it’s a very strange world.

  1. Be honest. You need to be honest to get help, and they will listen.
  2. Trust them as much as you can, they do want to help
  3. They will not force you to tell them anything, however if you’re in danger please please speak out because they can help
  4. Do not stand for a bad therapist. If you feel victimised or discriminated against by any of the staff you need to speak out because you deserve better than that.
  5. It doesn’t matter that there’s trying to help you if you don’t help yourself.
  6. Your parents don’t need to know everything that goes on in sessions, except that when you are in danger they need to be involved in keeping you safe. However, if your parents are the ones struggling to come to terms with it, tell CAMHS. They are used to helping the parents as well as the child, they can explain things and are often listened to because they are professionals.
  7. Whatever illness, disorder, diagnosis or label you are given, that is not all there is to you. 

Vocab:

  • CAMHS – Child and adolescent mental health service
  • Crisis – When you are high risk and need extra support to get through each day. Often someone will visit your house or call every day if you are on the crisis list and you can also access 24 hour phone support.
  • Crisis team – The team of therapists who come and visit children and teens in crisis. They are involved temporarily during a time of high risk.
  • Psychiatrist – A highly qualified professional in medicine who deals with the medical side of treatment. This involves prescribing medication and giving diagnoses.
  • Psychologist – A highly qualified professional in psychology who help treat different mental illnesses or emotional difficulties with therapy.
  • Section – When you are forced by the mental health act to be in hospital for a certain amount of time 
  • Therapist – Someone who specialises in helping people with certain conditions, illnesses and difficulties. Specific types include occupational therapists, play therapists and psychotherapists. 

I hope that is helpful and informative as well as interesting. 

See you next time,

Liam 🙂

10 Things New CAMHS Parents Should Know

Hello there!

Before I tell you about the things I think new CAMHS parents should be told, I will give you some background about me and my parent’s experience with CAMHS, as well as what’s prompted me to write this. Just a quick disclaimer, this is what I think would help parents based off my own experiences and what I have seen other friends with various mental illnesses and SEN go through. This is my opinion and I hope it helps you or is interesting to read.

I was admitted to CAMHS aged 14 in March 2014, with suicide plans, severe psychosis and anorexia nervosa amongst other issues. It was one of the worst times for not only me but my parents too. They struggled hugely especially with how badly my psychosis went downhill. I was discharged in August 2016 and have got so much better over the years, whilst my parents have been amazing throughout. I’m no longer in crisis and out the other end of frequent severe psychotic episodes, now managed with medication. Recently my girlfriend has been referred to CAMHS and her parents have struggled to come terms with it, which is what has made me want to write this post. I’d love to involve my actual parents in a post, so might interview them for a blog post at a later point. Next week I will be doing another post like this but instead for the child instead of their parents. So, here it is.

  1. It is going to be a long journey ahead. Even if your time with CAMHS is short, whatever is affecting your child is probably not going to be solved or fixed immediately. Be prepared for this, there is usually not a quick fix.
  2. You need to take each day one at a time. Because of how each day can be an unknown and often we don’t know how long things are going to last, taking each day one at a time can help to cope with it.
  3. You will learn true compassion.
  4. Your child is not going to be locked up. Inpatient is a worst case scenario, and even then the ‘locked up’ you may be thinking of is more like a secure unit, not just usual inpatient. You will be informed fully if they are even considering inpatient as an option.
  5. Demand more support. When you think you child needs more help, be loud so that they have to listen.
  6. Keep your child’s support system strong and balanced. It should include family, friends, therapists and school teachers.
  7. Encourage their independence. This is important in all cases and also vital if you are with CAMHS for a long time because your child may often miss opportunities if there are other priorities like keeping them safe. Talk to the team about this and work out what’s more important and how things will be effected short VS long term.
  8. Remember that CAMHS are not always going to be there, they might care but this is their job. It’s good to be grateful but remember they are being paid to help you.
  9. The crisis team is an excellent idea in theory however they are limited and have to prioritise incredibly sick children over very sick children and that is hard.
  10. The appointments made are not reliable. Prepare your child for dealing with this, especially if your child doesn’t cope well with change because of something like mental illness or autism.

I would really like to know what anyone else thinks or has anything to add. Please feel free to comment. I’ll see you soon.

Liam 🙂

Realisations in Psychotherapy 

I have felt and been vulnerable throughout my life, and the most meaningful results of this have always been negative. I have been punished and faced scary consequences and had to look at my pain head on. The vulnerability is hard and makes me feel unsafe.

I’m trying to rewrite that link. Dissociation has kept me ‘safe’ from feeling vulnerable. Going into therapy and not really connecting to the words I was saying, like explaining my suicide plan with a smile on my face as if I was talking about my favourite film. 

My current psychologist I am seeing privately. I see her once or twice and month and am lucky and privileged enough to have a mum who will and is able to pay for it. She does psychotherapy which is a lot of thinking and reflecting. In comparison to other therapies like CBT and DBT, it is without structure. I cannot learn how to do it correctly and perfectly. I have to go through my days and think and reflect constantly, with the hope that things will start to pull together.

When I had my first appointment with her, it was apparent I have been programmed by professionals and CAMHS to talk about my ‘illness’ using medical terms like ‘childhood trauma’ and ‘psychosis’ and ‘dissociation’. She talks about how me using those words I am separating myself from their meaning. She wants me to talk about my experiences, not medical conditions. 

I have found it hard. I have disagreed with her. These words I have used summarise best what I struggle with. Hearing voices, visual hallucinations, paranoid thoughts and obsessions, delusions fuelled by mania. Those are my experiences, but even then that’s not enough. I feel like she prods and pokes me for 50 mins to make me really look at myself. Look at myself to see who I am, without the labels professionals have stuck on me. But there is conflict in my head, to an extent I identify with those labels and I don’t understand why that is a bad thing.

What is wrong with naming my abnormal struggles. The complexity is so hard to explain with words, it having a name helps so much. Gives a meaning to what I’ve gone through. 

I tried to rewrite my introduction to her. I started off good she said, when I talked about me and what I enjoy and want to do with my life. Where things started to go wrong, what was at the route of all that. She said that was going back to medical conditions. I don’t know how to make it better. I can’t learn to do this right, I have to actually do it right. There is no perfecting in psychotherapy. Only making genuine and slow progress.

Thank you for reading this very open blog post. Posting this is making me feel vulnerable, but I think that’s exactly what I need to challenge. See you next time.

Liam 🙂

What am I doing here?

Hello!

It’s time for some reflecting on this blog that I titled His Adventures in Wonderland nearly 1½ years ago. I started this blog with a few things in mind…

  • I’d talk about mental illness and being transgender
  • I’d write about my own experiences constructively 
  • I’d spread awareness, break stigma and help those around me with less talked about mental illnesses by offering genuine advice I’ve worked out over the years

I think it’s fair enough to start a blog with others as the main thing in mind, but I’ve kept going because of myself. This blog is loved by me and I enjoy posting lots of different types of posts, not just advice to benefit those around me. My posts help me too. 16 months and 49 posts down the line, I am still here and able to reflect on what I’m doing here. Have a colourful spider diagram listing some of the things I gain from blogging!

Thank you for reading, whether this is a one off post, you are a recent follower or have been doing so for a while. See you in my next post!
Liam 🙂

Books

Hello,

I’ve recognised a sense of avoiding my blog recently. I think that because I have talked about my struggle with mental illness in the moment it is happening, it has made me feel quite vulnerable. I think that the new vulnerability and honesty is a good thing but I need to take a step back and post something I really enjoy talking about… books!

I have always been a book worm, I know I was reading books throughout my childhood, despite me not rememebering a lot due to dissociation. In the more recent years I haven’t been able to read much at all. My concentration has been at an all time low these past 2-3 years because of psychosis mainly, (let me tell you, hearing voices 24/7 makes so many simple tasks near impossible!) but guess what?!! I made it my 1 year goal to read a book. With the help of coloured acetate, glasses and stable medication I read my first book in years within a few days of setting the goal!!! Now I have read 4 books in 3 months and am just starting a 5th! 

I want to share with you the books I have been reading and letting myself get absorbed into, just like I did as a child. Below each book is a mini review 🙂 

The ABCs of LGBT by Ashley Mardell (Now Ash Hardell)

A very thought provoking and well laid out book. I enjoyed the analysing of different identities and terms such as bi erasure from the point of view of those affected by it, along with colourful illustrations and lots of reflective suggestions. I would recommend it to every person as an easily accessible information point for all things LGBT+, and I’d recommend it as a reading book to people with an already general knowledge of LGBT+, whether you are an ally, are questioning or are comfortable within your identity and what that is.

 The Art of Being a Brilliant Teenager by Andy Cope, Andy Whitaker, Darrell Woodman and Amy Bradley

A very easy read that I gained a lot of insight on how to be a positive and an all round brilliant person. I’d recommend every person to read just the first few pages, from that you will work out if you are bothered enough to make changes to yourself to have a better quality life or are fine being ordinary. For those that choose to read on you will be satisfied by all the colourful quotes and anecdotes and genuine suggestions on how to be a better person and get more out of yourself and life. Not just limited to teenagers, also people on either side of the age bracket and parents of teenagers too.

 A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

An amazing and beautiful story told from the point of a young boy going through the trauma of watching his mother battle cancer. A monster starts to call round his house each night and tells 3 stories, with the deal being the boy tells his story after. This is an incredibly well written book with realistic characters, vivid imagery and a gripping plot. I would recommend this to adults as much as I would to children, especially to those who have been through some kind of trauma. I found I related hugely to the young boy and liked how it was told from his own in denial perspective.

 BZRK by Michael Grant

A complex science fiction novel that takes a lot of patience and concentration to understand but is very worth it. It has a lot of interesting characters with room for so much further development I hope to read in the next books. The concept of BZRK and having the world split into nano and macro sounds scientifically believable and is talked about so vividly it’s like you are taking a step into their world. I love the focus on death or madness, and all twitchers (people who enter the nano world) are named after mad people like Vincent Van Gogh and Sylvia Plath. A unique read that I’d recommend to anyone with the capacity to constantly be working things out, perhaps a minimum age of 12 though as it is very dark at times. 

Currently reading: Stealing Snow

Future reads: Doing it!, BZRK Reloaded, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Being Jazz

Thank you for reading. I’ll see you in my next post,

Liam 🙂