Friday, 17 May 2019

All About Identity: Counselling Session 3

TW: Mentions of abortion, weight, death, and suicide

Again, lots of things have happened recently, and I feel completely overwhelmed. If it isn't something happening in my life, with friends and/or family, it's something on the news or social media that has deeply affected me. I was definitely in need of yesterday's counselling session. She called me through to her room, and as we sat down, she went through my answers to the depression/anxiety/phobias etc questionnaires. I had lower scores on some things, and higher scores on others. She asked me what had gone on recently.

A big piece of news for me was finding out (via Facebook unfortunately) that an old schoolfriend of mine had died. Although I wouldn't call us best friends, we were friends and had known each other since Year 3 of primary school, right up until now. The news had come a little late for me, so the funeral had already passed. At first I was really shocked, and then in floods of tears. After this, I had really confused feelings about it all. The truth was, although she hadn't spoken to me in a while, I hadn't made the effort to talk to her recently either. I didn't blame her at all, but I did blame myself. I wish I had the energy to keep in contact with all my friends, but it just isn't possible. I don't want to lose any of them though, and I guess losing a friend to death has made me realise how important friendship is, how short life is, and how important it is to keep your loved ones close.

Anyway, I digress. Some really prominent feelings I had about my friend's passing were guilt, anger at myself, and regret. How dare I feel upset about someone I hadn't made the effort for? How dare I allow myself to be comforted for my loss, when others had been much better friends to her?

The counsellor seemed to find it quite sad and interesting that I had those feelings. Again, I was blaming myself for my own feelings, and thinking that I'm reacting the "wrong" way.

We then moved on to the next thing that had affected me deeply. This was the news of an abortion ban in Alabama (please Google for more info, I can't bear to read any articles on this). I tried to listen to the news item, but found myself dissociating. Nothing felt real, I felt as if I were elsewhere, I felt like someone else was moving and speaking for me. This lasted a few hours, but I did manage to function for some of it. I just felt as if I were going through the motions rather than consciously going about my day. Dissociation can have such an effect on someone, yet can be totally invisible to someone not experiencing this. Usually, I would be triggered, panicky, dizzy, nauseous, scared, suicidal, urges to self harm etc. I suppose I expected to feel that way, because being exposed to anything about abortion made me react that way usually.

The counsellor asked how I thought I should feel, and I explained this to her as fluently as I could. I was judging and criticising my own reactions to things that usually affect me deeply. I said that I would like to get to a point where my reactions, feelings, thoughts etc weren't so extreme. I wanted to just feel upset and angry at the news, but not to a point where I couldn't focus on other things. I want to feel things the "normal" not "extreme" amount.

We talked a bit more about how I judge my own emotions and reactions, and she asked where I think this judgment stemmed from. I told her about the bullying I experienced from the start of primary school, right until the end of secondary school. I've said it in previous posts, but this bullying was mostly psychological, and involved everything I said, did, thought, wore, looked like, being judged. Before all this, I wasn't that aware of myself, and so didn't feel critical of certain aspects of myself.

I said that these judgments seemed to seep into my own identity, and I have very critical views of myself. I worry about everything I say, I wonder whether I'm doing things "correctly". I pay careful attention to what I wear, I use makeup to enhance what I do like, and conceal what I don't, I second guess my beliefs. I believe everything about myself to be wrong and not enough for acceptance.

My counsellor asked if I react extremely to anything else. I said I tend to get very worried about relationships and friends. I'm a people pleaser, but I never feel worthy enough for my partner at the time, or my friends.

I remember when something happened to a couple of my close friends online. They believed it was one person at fault, that they both knew. Although I would never do what this person did, I immediately felt guilty and scared that they would think it was me. I got so worked up about this, that I ended up messaging one of them. I then felt scared about doing that, because I thought that only a guilty person would deny doing something.

I get so scared about being judged for things I'm not/haven't done.

We then spoke about identity. How do I form my own identity? Where do my beliefs about myself stem from? Again, it was school. The comments from bullies became so ingrained that I believed them about myself. Even the odd positive (or perceived positive) comment would become part of my identity. At school, I was always complimented on how slim I was. I was told this so much that I took on this identity of the slim friend. Although I worried about everything else, I could eat anything and stay slim, so I didn't worry about my body (apart from my small boobs).

When I had my longest relationship, my partner used to talk about weight a lot; specifically the fact that his ex girlfriend had put on a lot of weight since they broke up. It made me more aware of my own weight. I remember asking him if my weight gain showed. He told me not to worry now, but if I got fat, he would drop hints about going to the gym. At the time, I thought being fat was a thing to feel bad about and do something about, so I didn't see how problematic his views were.

After we broke up, I became very depressed and suicidal. Since then, I have put on a lot of weight, and now it shows, I feel terrible about myself. I also feel bad for having this reaction. I am at least slightly body positive about other people. I believe it is completely the individual's business, how much they weigh, and people should be treated with love and respect no matter how fat or thin they are. Yet I can't feel this way about myself, so am I truly body positive?

We went back to talking about relationships. I said in a lot of romantic relationships, everything seemed fine as long as I was going along with what they wanted, agreeing with their views (or at least accepting them without argument) etc. As soon as I found a problem with something they did/didn't do, or I disagreed with them, suddenly I was the bad guy. In some relationships, I was treated as if I was irrational if I couldn't find a specific example for my argument. I was also treated as if I was causing trouble, and should just let them do what they liked, and not be so "clingy" or paranoid.

I'm not usually confrontational. Counsellor asked if I'm quite laid back and passive in relationships.  I said I guess I am. I tend to let them take the lead and make the decisions. If I make decisions, disagree or try to confront, again, I'm the bad guy.

I told her I seek reassurance about everything. This stems from being judged at school when bullied. I said that I wish I could separate the things I believed (because of the bullies) from my identity. I was so dependent on others' opinions of me, when I take that all away, I don't know what I'm left with. This makes me feel lost and uncomfortable. I want to accept myself, and have a more solid idea about my own identity.

Somehow, the conversation then went on to feminism. My counsellor gave me an example of a time she reacted to something very differently to her partner, and he couldn't understand why it had affected her so much. It involved some instances of misogyny in a television programme. I won't go into all the details (mainly because I'm exhausted after typing for so long!) but it brought up many questions about what we accept, and how our proximity to certain things affects how we react.

She told me that her feminism had formed part of her identity. She then asked me to do an exercise, where I was asked to list what kind of identity I wanted to have. This is what I put:

How I want to feel

  • Accepted/accept myself
  • Respected
  • Treated with kindness, acceptance, civility, like an equal, like a human
  • Assertive
  • Attractive (physically and personality)
  • Trust myself/my own opinion
  • Self confident
  • Not too influenced
There are probably other things I could add to this, so she told me to take the list home to go over.

It was a really interesting session, where we explored how we form our identity, and my struggles with it. My entire view of myself is strongly influenced by other people, because I have been bullied and criticised for so long that I have accepted it as part of me. I struggle to trust my own judgment and constantly ask for reassurance. I am also terrified of being misjudged, but I am unhappy with my own personality. I want to find any way I can of self improving or becoming of some use in the world. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

How do I define myself? Counselling Session 2

My second counselling session came around at just the right time. I'd been feeling extremely low and anxious over the past couple of weeks, and although I did confide (a bit) in friends, I needed to be able to just let it all out in a therapeutic setting.

Naturally, the PHQ etc scores were very high, and my counsellor seemed concerned about this. She asked how I'd been recently, and if anything had triggered my low moods and anxiety.

I started by telling her about something that had cropped up again recently, on social media. It involved an ex friend who had set up a malicious forum to name and shame people they believed were over-exaggerating or faking their illnesses/disabilities. Of course, this caused an uproar with the online community this person was a part of. How could we trust someone who may judge us and question how disabled we really are, just based on our social media posts, hobbies etc? Everyone is different in terms of their capabilities, what debilitates them severely, moderately, mildly etc. It is not the job of a random person to decide who is disabled enough to deserve the support they get. This is probably the last time I will talk about this, as it is far too upsetting, but it was something I mentioned in my counselling session as it was a big trigger for my anxiety.

We then talked about paranoia. It's a term I use a lot to describe my feelings about certain things. I wasn't sure if my anxious feelings (about being judged for my disabilities) qualified as paranoia anymore as they were much less extreme than they used to be. At my worst, I truly believed that if there were any car or van outside my house, that I did not recognise, it would be an informant for the government, spying on my daily activities. I also felt the same about strangers I passed in the street, if they stared at me for too long, or made any odd comments. As well as this, I would be hyper aware of anything strange going on with my laptop, online accounts etc. I thought someone had taken control of my laptop, regardless of how many times I checked anti virus/anti malware/anti spyware etc programs. Although my feelings are much less extreme now, she believed that how I felt still counted as paranoia, and that this is more of a scale where you can be mildly paranoid, severely, or anything inbetween.

Next, the counsellor wanted me to do an exercise. There was a whiteboard in the room, and she drew a table with 3 columns. The first was entitled "Who I am", the second was "How others perceive me", and the third was "Who I want to be". I had to put words and phrases in each column to answer the question in the headings. At first, I found this very difficult. I didn't want to just put negative things about myself, even though I was feeling very negative and depressed at the time. With the counsellor's help, I wrote the following:

Who I am

  • Friendly
  • Caring
  • Ambitious
  • Determined
  • Strong Morals
  • Negative
  • A Worrier
  • A Perfectionist
  • Weird
  • Struggling
Whilst writing these things, I paused to think about my answers as well as how specific the header's question actually was. How do we define ourselves? Is it about who we are, and/or what we do? Should we mention academic achievements as part of our identity? How about chronic mental or physical illnesses/disabilities? I asked the counsellor this, and she found it very interesting how I analysed the question to such a degree. She asked if I felt my illnesses formed part of my identity now. I thought about this for a few seconds, before saying that yes, I did feel that way. This was partly because I'd been ill for so long, and partly because my interests in breaking down stigma to do with mental illnesses and chronic physical illnesses were so strong. I guess how I assert myself and teach people about things to do with stigma forms part of how I define myself. I feel I have to "do" something in order to be someone. I found certain things people have said about me in the past, and the way they had treated me, were so ingrained that they became how I saw myself, so words to describe this (weird, negative etc) were written in the first and second columns of the table. 

In the second column, I had to write words/phrases about "How others perceive me". I found this a little easier to fill in, because I have spent so much time focused on how I believe others perceive me. Here's what I wrote:

How others perceive me

  • Lazy
  • Defeatist
  • Negative
  • Friendly
  • Strong Morals
  • Weird
  • Incompetent
  • Stupid
  • Weak
As you can see, a lot of these descriptions are very negative and harsh. Defeatist was a word I worried that mental health staff felt towards me. They often only see my negative days; where I feel useless and deflated, as well as very pessimistic about the world in general. I speak as if I have the weight of the world on my shoulders and nothing will ever improve. I feel that they believe I have given up and have no desire to change the things I can. In truth, I'm struggling and I'm asking for help because I still have that slight bit of hope that things will get better (with the right support, for enough time). I am willing to put in the effort and commitment needed, but I need a long term type therapy that focuses on my past traumas. I am presenting my therapist, CPN etc with the feelings/symptoms I have, some mentions of diagnoses, and how my struggles affect my life, aspirations, relationships etc. This is in the hope that they will make connections with these struggles, and decide the best course of treatment/therapy for me. In reality, they may try to do this, or they will just pick out the anxiety or low mood symptoms. In terms of treatment though, my local CMHT barely have a thing they can offer me. 

"Incompetent", "Stupid", and "Weak" were descriptions I felt people have associated with me for years. I can link a lot of that to the bullying I experienced throughout Primary and Secondary School. Everything I said, did, wore, enjoyed, knew or didn't know, was judged severely. My bullies would make me feel as if I was completely wrong about everything and couldn't do anything right. I didn't fit in, I was far too polite, I cried too much, I didn't start conversations enough, I was too quiet, my nose was too bumpy, my ears stuck out too much, my makeup wasn't right. Even the way I sat was mocked! I doubted everything about myself, and even now I have to ask reassurance for certain things. Most recently, I spoke up about something and then worried that people would demand sources for my information. I worried that I would not be able to find strong enough sources and people would just put me down as a bitter and bitchy person who didn't know what they were talking about. 

Lastly, I filled in the "Who I want to be" column. I couldn't think of many things, but the following terms were included:

Who I want to be

  • Successful
  • Happy
  • Confident
  • Assertive
  • Balanced (less mood swings)
Until finding out otherwise, I tend to believe lots of friends and acquaintances fit all these descriptions, by what they say/how they express themselves online. I admit I get very jealous and compare my life to theirs. I want the Doctorate in Psychology, I want the spouse and children, I want to move out before I turn 30, I want to react to criticism in a less extreme way, I don't want to be triggered by things. I want to grasp every opportunity I get. 

Whilst speaking to my counsellor about this, we realised together that I actually blamed myself for things that were (mostly) out of my control. Of course, the termination experience came up, as my struggles around this are exactly why I sought counselling this time. Part of me regrets having the termination, as I worry this may have been my only chance to have children. I hate that I hurt my ex partner (who would've been the baby's father), even though it was my body and my choice to make. I at least told him what I'd decided to do. Even though I was only 19 at the time, I knew other friends who had managed to bring up children from a young age. I guess I thought a person was supposed to feel a certain way after a termination and I thought I had all the "wrong" feelings about it. I expected to feel relieved and able to move on after a while. Instead, the memories, mental images, conversations I had with people, the way I was treated by nurses, stuck with me. I felt that I had made the decision too hastily and almost as if I'd done it for other people rather than myself. I felt ashamed about getting pregnant so young, especially while studying and living in halls. I'd just started a new relationship and I guess I didn't want him to have to deal with my "baggage" (to put it extremely bluntly). I had all of these feelings, and worries that my thoughts about it were taboo, that I didn't know how to deal with it. So I have this huge messy knot filled with memories, images, feelings etc and I'm searching for someone who can help me unpick it and deal with what we find. I don't want to completely forget what happened, I just want to accept it and not worry so much about the future.

The hour was nearly up, so the counsellor decided we should look at the bigger picture and see how things are linked, certain things affect me and why. 

One glaringly obvious conclusion was that the way I believe others perceive me, has a big effect on my moods and therefore my mental health as a whole. I am easily triggered by things that play on my insecurities and deeply held worries. My chronic physical illnesses/disabilities are very debilitating, but the way I believe others judge me can be very debilitating too. 

The counsellor then asked how I would feel, and what I think my life would be like without the worry of people perceiving me in a certain way. I said that I couldn't even imagine this, but I think I would feel a bit more free, confident, and like I was "allowed" by society to go out of the house whenever I was having a good enough day. Maybe I could try things like a gentle form of yoga, to see if I could cope with more exercise. At the moment, the fear of someone reporting me to DWP for being too active makes me feel I can't even go for a taster session. 

I told the counsellor how I felt society thought that everyone should be in a job and that no one is truly unable to work (of course this is wrong, but this is what I believe politicians and the media have taught a lot of people). The way I am now though, I can't imagine what sort of accommodations could be put in place in order to allow me to participate in a job. My illnesses are so predictable, and I would have so many sick days that I would end up losing my job within months (or even weeks). I feel my employer would see me as far too much of a liability to keep on. I think back to how much I struggled when I did work. I had at least one sick day every month, and my pain, exhaustion etc slowed down my processing, communicating, organising information etc. I would make mistakes and need help. I couldn't learn things in 5 minutes and be at the same standard in 1 month, that someone had got to in 3 years, for example.  

Chronic illness in itself is a full time job. I'm especially feeling like it is, this month. There are many appointments with GPs, specialists, mental health professionals to go to, in order to review medication, continue therapy, have tests of various kinds etc. The times inbetween include managing daily life. This consists of making sure I sleep when I need to, I take my medication on time, I make sure to avoid any food that might flare up my symptoms, I pace what I do, but also try to get some sort of exercise, I do any therapy homework required of me, I make phonecalls to doctors etc if needs be, I try to socialise in order to tackle anxious thoughts and raise my low moods, I monitor how I feel from day to day so that I can accurately give information (at appointments) about my symptoms. I fear the future because I want more out of life, but I can't see how anything can change, unless treatments improve for example.

Overall, I found this counselling session very interesting, and it gave me opportunity to think about various things; including how I react to the things I believe are happening/may happen. I get on well with the counsellor, and feel I can confide in her. I'll keep documenting my sessions (there may be more than 10 posts on this alone)

I'm sorry this is such a long read, it was a very full on session! Thank you so much, and also well done for reading this far. I will keep you posted about my next one.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Putting Myself First: Counselling Session 1

(Trigger Warning: Mentions of Suicide, Self Harm, and Abortion)

Today, I had my first counselling session. It was nothing like CBT or other therapies I've had before, as it didn't have a specific structure. Also, no homework! Of course, I still had to fill in the good old PHQ scale etc questionnaires. According to my counsellor, I had quite high levels of Anxiety and Depression. To be honest, with everything going on recently, I'm not surprised it's caused relapses. I don't think I'm in a very good place at the moment, but I don't think I realised this until I started talking about things and focusing on myself.

The main reason I decided to ask for counselling this time was because I needed to come to terms with the abortion I had 10 years ago. I did it because I thought I had no other choice. I was 19 and still felt like a kid. To have the responsibility of bringing up a child was far too much for me. I was only just learning to look after myself! I made the decision quickly, and felt numb sometimes, scared others, when I made the appointments, went to them, took the tablets I was given etc. The nurses were matter of fact at best, and completely judgmental and horrible at worst. It was a difficult time, and an experience I wanted to get past as soon as possible with as little people as possible knowing.

Some people were very supportive, some made me feel incredibly guilty and ashamed of what I had done. I felt I couldn't talk through it at the time, so I kept it mostly locked up inside.

I don't know when I started thinking about the termination more, or when I started to get triggered by any mention of it, but things started getting really difficult at least 10 years ago. I get just as triggered (if not more) now and I am so fed up of feeling this way. I have to leave the room or put my earphones on, when storylines or discussion of abortion are on the television. I can't properly contribute to conversations around it, whether face to face or online. Even seeing a pregnancy scan can set me off.

I've written about my feelings of being triggered before, but I'll quickly explain how I feel below:

  • At first, I feel very upset and panicky
  • I'm very likely to have bad panic attacks
  • I may get angry that someone has not considered putting a warning on their post about abortion, or a TV programme hasn't warned beforehand.
  • I may dissociate and tense up; going completely silent and being unable to concentrate on anything else
  • I will be brought right back to the time when I experienced an abortion. I can imagine the nurses, visualise the clinic full of upset women, feel the intense pain I had soon after, visualise the blood and everything that came with it.
  • I will not be able to concentrate on anything else for a while, and I will have to (maybe with some prompting) do things to ground myself or distract myself.
  • At its worst, my suicidal feelings will return and/or I will have extremely strong urges to self harm badly, as if I want to punish myself or distract myself with a pain I can control to a certain extent.
  • I may become hyper-aware and jump at loud noises etc
I said some of this to the counsellor and she told me it sounded like symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

She can't diagnose me as such, but I did find it interesting, as I've wondered before if this is bad enough to be considered as PTSD. I don't know if I should try to get assessed for it, whether it'll result in extra support (probably not). I guess I can just say I have symptoms of PTSD rather than the full diagnosis itself. 

Whilst talking about that particular topic, I digressed and talked about when I first got ill, my abusive relationship at the time, as well as how my ex partner (who would've been the father) reacted when I'd had the termination. The conversation came round to family, friends, and childhood too, so of course the things that have happened with my Nan recently, came up, as well as my cousin. My counsellor said that I have had so much to think about, and I've been through so much, so it's no wonder I feel the way I do.

I tried to focus on this particular topic, but as I was leading the conversation (the counsellor was mainly there to listen and give me space to talk) I found I would digress a lot, go silent when I ran out of things to say or lost my train of thought, sometimes cry, apologise for rambling, and then repeat the things I said before. I don't know how much useful information the counsellor got from me, but I at least gave her lots to go through (probably too much!). I'm seeing her next, in a couple of weeks and she told me that she could help build more of a structure into our sessions if I liked. I don't want to be completely restricted, but I think I do need some prompting to keep focused on one thing at a time, so I was grateful of her offer.

For the rest of today, I've been feeling very exposed, self conscious, anxious/panicky, depressed, and overwhelmed. I keep dissociating too. I'm trying to do what self care I can, and focusing a lot on comforting myself. 

Thank you so much to my readers, it means a lot to know that people are interested in what I have to say, and support me too. I would love to be there for people who have been through similar things as myself, but I'm not able to with certain things. With the help of my counsellor, I hope to get to a point where I can. 

Thursday, 11 April 2019

An Absolute Nightmare of a Day

I'll explain.

So my Nan was in a temporary nursing home after a fall (possible TIA) and breaking her right femur. This temporary home was aiming to rehabilitate her and get her back on her feet, as physios at the hospital were unable to do so.
Her needs became greater, so we (family, social worker etc) felt a care home (with dementia specialism, as she is also being assessed for this) would now be where she needed to live. After sorting everything out, we found a really amazing place with one great room she could move into straightaway, and one even better room she could move to after a few weeks. She had made as much progress as she could at the temporary nursing home, and the end date of her contract there was soon.
My parents and I had a call from the temporary nursing home a couple of days ago. The contract had ended and Nan was to leave the next day. Bed management had booked an ambulance transfer to the new home, so all we needed to do was go to the temporary home and collect her stuff before following the ambulance to the new home. The time slot for ambulance arrival was between 11am and 1pm. Sounds pretty reasonable and relatively simple, right?
Well Dad and I made our way to the temporary nursing home yesterday morning. We arrived at 11.30am after a delay on the M6 due to a collision near the next junction after the one we were to get off at. We found my Nan had been plonked in the lounge with bags of her stuff next to her, and some cleaners in her old room. She was annoyed because they'd only told her that morning that she was leaving! She was pleased that she'd be going so soon though.
Anyway, we sat by my Nan and waited for the ambulance to arrive. 1pm came and went, so I rang my Mum to see if she could contact bed management to see if they could chase up the driver. Apparently, the time slot was actually between 11am and 3pm. More of a wait, so we weren't happy, but at least it wasn't too long. So we waited. 3pm came and went, so we spoke to one of the nurses to see if she could chase it up. She told us that ambulance transport is rarely on time, and all we could do was continue to wait
We waited another hour before ringing Mum again to see what was going on. She told us that she'd rang the temporay home and the manager would be over to speak to us as soon as possible.
The manager came at 4.30pm and said she had bad news. The cut off point for ambulance transport was 4.00pm, so we would not have any transport, and the booking hadn't been made properly, so an ambulance would never have arrived anyway! We were furious. She said she'd see what she could do. She spoke to the transfer company, and they said they could pick Nan up at 11pm that night! Of course we refused. It was far too late, and besides, the care home would not admit her that late. The manager didn't know what to do (great management, right??) and it was left to my Dad and I to figure out how we would get Nan to the home that day.
The manager told us that if we couldn't get transport, Nan would have to stay another night. Nan had already been distressed to the point of shouting and almost crying. She became angry and said there was no way she was stopping another night there at all. She'd had a terrible time there and this day was the worst day of her life. I suggested booking a wheelchair taxi, and hinted I would like the care home, bed management, or transfer company to fund this. They would not fund it, so it was down to myself and Dad to come up with the money for the 45 minute (at least) journey from temporary nursing home (in Stafford), to new care home (near Wolverhampton). The manager gave us the numbers for the only companies in Stafford that provided wheelchair taxis. I rang the first and couldn't get through after about four attempts. The second company's wheelchair taxis were all booked up for that day. The only option left (that Nan would actually agree to) would be to try and get Nan into our car, with the help of some carers. What we needed to do first though was, to get permission from the manager and physios (for health and safety reasons) and check the new care home would still admit her that day. Apparently their cut off point was usually 4pm, but the manager there made exceptions and arranged for sandwiches to be prepared for Nan.
Getting Nan from lounge to car wasn't easy in the slightest. Getting her from the chair in the lounge, into my mum's wheelchair (she didn't have her own available) was very hard and took a lot of encouragement. The same went for getting Nan from the wheelchair into the car. It involved one carer holding the wheelchair steady, another holding a walker to help her transfer, and another practically picking Nan up under the arms whilst she did her best to move her feet just enough to reach the walker and then the car. We finally got her in and managed to fit the rest of her stuff in the car. She was in a lot of pain, but in better spirits that she was going to a much nicer place.
We eventually arrived at the new home at around 7.30pm. It had been a long day! A couple of carers came out and helped Nan out of the car and into the wheelchair. They took her to the lounge to have her tea, then showed my Dad and I to her room. We were given a pot of tea and biscuits to have whilst we put Nan's stuff away! I can't fault how we or my Nan were treated. When she was taken up to her room, Nan was chatting away with a smile on her face. She wanted to check everything was how she wanted it, and that the duvet wasn't too far up to her chin when she was helped into bed. Other than that, she was happy though. This was such a relief! We had a quick chat with her and the night staff introduced themselves then we left Nan to sleep in peace.
So it was a real nightmare of a day, and Nan had been very upset and hard to calm down in the daytime, but by evening time, things had vastly improved. I feel much better about her being in this new place, as I've heard terrible things about some of the carers in the temporary home. I'm not sure how much to believe, but I do have a lot of concerns.

Friday, 5 April 2019

First Cardiology Appointment for POTS-like Symptoms

I had my first Cardiology appointment today, and I have mixed feelings about how it went.

I got there in good time, and signed in at reception. The receptionists were lovely, and I didn't have to wait long before I was called through for an ECG. I had a great conversation about Game of Thrones with the nurse! I was quite tense, so it took three attempts for a decent reading but it didn't take long overall. Soon after this, I was called through for a blood pressure test just before I saw the consultant. If I remember right, my reading was 145/85, borderline high.

The actual appointment with the consultant took about 5 mins. He seemed pleasant enough and told me to take a seat.

He sat back in his chair, and the first question he asked was "so, what do you do? Do you work?" I didn't think that was very relevant, but I explained that I haven't been able to work for a few years due to how my medical conditions affect me (chronic pain, extreme fatigue etc) I also mentioned that the dizziness and faintness also contribute to me not working and that was the main reason for me seeing him today.

He then asked me to explain my main issues, that had led to the referral to him. I described to him the symptoms (dizziness, faintness, palpitations, I forgot to mention headaches and vision stuff though damnit) as well as when they occur (standing up or sitting up for a while), what makes them better (lying down, salty snacks, hydrating well) and worse (overheating, overexertion, eating high carb meals etc).

He only really wanted to focus on the dizziness and faintness. He asked if I'd been referred to an ENT specialist. I said I had and was due to see them for Vestibular tests next week. (You can read about my first ENT appointment here). He then asked if I ever had fainted and I said only once, 5 years ago, as far as I could recall. He also asked how long an episode of faintness lasts and I couldn't think so ended up saying "a minute?" even though it fluctuates and I could spend most of the day feeling dizzy and faint, I did make sure I said it is triggered by standing or sitting up for ages. He said "oh everyone gets a bit of giddiness then". I then told him it was way worse than that though and has contributed to me giving up work.

He said that my ECG was fine and in his opinion, he didn't think I had any heart problems, but he'd get an appointment booked for me to have 24hr heart rate monitor fitted. I was finding it hard to concentrate at that point and explained I was listening, but I was very dizzy. He made sure I understood what he said though and I said I did and the 24hr monitor sounded good. He wanted to end the appointment there but I stayed sitting and asked him if he would consider assessing me for POTS and order a tilt table test.

He said he didnt think I seemed like a POTS patient but he would see how the 24hr monitor goes first, so at least I have a chance at maybe having the test. In my opinion, he did seem like he'd made up his mind about me before I'd even walked through the door. And what does a POTS patient "seem" like anyway?

Going back to the consultant's first question, the answer I would've liked to have given goes something like this:

"So what do I do? I struggle to get through each day. I try to look after myself the best I can. When I can concentrate, I game or watch tv shows/movies, I reach out to friends online and do my best to be there for them through good times and bad. I try to enjoy life. I sometimes look for work online but when I really think about what my health allows me to do, working is just too much physically & mentally. So I try to keep up my hobbies & I try to help others in whatever way I can. But I guess that's not enough in this "work or die" society"

Overall, I suppose the appointment went reasonably well? At least he is willing to see me again (even if he does seem to have already made up his mind!), but what do you think? Have you had a similar experience? Please comment below!

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Some more Developments

This post is mostly another updates one, following on from the recent post; Updates and Some Worrying Family News


To recap, my Nan was in hospital after breaking her right Femur. She spent quite a bit of time in hospital after an operation to pin and plate her leg. She was then placed in a nursing home temporarily (quite far away from her home) to rehabilitate. The physios' aim was to get her to a point where she could mobilise enough to cope back at her Assisted Living flat. Unfortunately the nursing staff (physios, carers, nurses) came to realise that Nan had significant physical needs and was on the cusp of Dementia. She simply had too many needs for a general care package in her old flat. She would need to go into a care home.

Since then, social services have been involved and after a couple of assessments (with a cognitive assessment to be done this Friday), they have decided she needs to be in a Residential home with Dementia specialism. My parents, some of my uncles, and I have arranged to see a number of homes, to see what would be suitable.
My nan wants somewhere with semi rural views, a decent sized room (that she could put a recliner chair in), and a variety of meal choices that are freshly cooked. She did also want to view the homes before deciding which she would like to live in. Unfortunately, time constrictions mean that transport could not be arranged for her to travel that far to different homes on different days. We have collected brochures to show her and are hoping this will be some sort of compromise.
She also wanted to visit her old flat for a week, to decide which furniture she wanted to bring. Again, time constrictions and her health needs meant that this wasn't possible. As well as the mobility problems, diabetes, and suspected dementia, she is doubly incontinent and needs someone to change her pads at various times of the day and night. The care staff at the flat only come in up to 4 times a day and do not make night calls. They also do not do very personal care such as this. As a compromise, I took pictures of all the furniture she'd be able to choose from to take to her new home. Together, we decided what would be practical as well as nice and homely.
Because of certain decisions that have had to be made for her, my Nan believes that we are deciding things without her input and basically trying to control her life. This has made her very distressed, angry, and upset at times, alongside other signs and symptoms of Dementia. We have been doing our best to compromise, involve her where possible, comfort her, and do things to make her happy, but it has been extremely difficult.

We were contacted by the bed management person earlier today, to say that health authority funding for the temporary nursing home placement, will end in a week's time, so it would be best to move her into a permanent placement around the same time. This is of course quite a rush, and at the moment, we are shortlisting the homes we like best, and contacting our favourites to see if a room will be available next week. I will probably blog further, once Nan is in a permanent home, to tell you (my readers) how she is settling in.

My Cousin

Things have improved quite vastly with my cousin. Her general health is much better, but she is still unable to move her legs. She has been working with physios, swimming every day (she is a very strong swimmer) and is now having further tests in London, to establish what exactly happened and what the situation is now. To say this is a relief is an understatement. I know she may be reading this so I don't want to go into too much detail, but long story short, it's looking promising.

Mental Health

My mental health has been up and down, to be honest. I've felt the weight of the world on my shoulders, I've been having some very low days, some very emotional days with bad mood swings, some very anxious/panicky days, and today I've had a very agitated and hyper day. I don't have hypomanic episodes strongly/frequently enough for a Bipolar diagnosis, so I think these episodes are part of the BPD mood swings. I'm still waiting on counselling and desperately needing to talk to someone face to face. I think if things get too bad, I'll call out of hours team. I've spoken on the phone to them before and they were very helpful and kind. I've not had to take Diazepam more than a couple of times in the space of a couple of months, so luckily I still have some left. My GP is very very reluctant to prescribe even a small amount because of risk of addiction and/or overdose. 

Physical Health

Tomorrow, I will be having an appointment with a Cardiologist. This is because I have been very dizzy and having near-fainting spells for many years. I can only recall properly fainting once, 5 years ago, but I mentioned this to the GP before referral, just in case it was relevant. These dizzy and faintness spells are at their worst and usually are triggered by standing up or sitting up for a while. I find overheating, eating carbs, not having enough fluids, or being stressed make my symptoms worse. I find lying down, eating salty food, and hydrating all help, even if just slightly. I will speak about all of this in much more detail in my next post, as well as documenting how my Cardiology appointment went.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Chronic Illness and Hair Loss

[Image Description: Photo 1: A picture of Amy with straight orange shoulder length hair
                                 Photo 2: A picture of the back of Amy's straight orange shoulder length hair
                                 Photo 3: A picture of the bald patch on the back of Amy's straight orange shoulder length hair]

For around 5 years, on and off, I have experienced patches of Alopecia Areata, aka hair loss.

Blood tests have shown different results, B12 deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, Folate deficiency etc but even when my levels have gone back to normal (with the help of a course of tablets) I have still had the hair loss. The only thing doctors seem to have put it down to is stress.

Things have been particularly stressful recently (see my latest two posts) but I do try to take time to relax as much as I can.

It's only since I've had chronic illnesses that I have experienced hair loss, so I wonder whether this is connected. My immune system must be compromised and most of the illnesses I have are systemic; with symptoms affecting various parts of my body.

I'm quite vain about my hair. I enjoy getting it styled and coloured with bright dyes, but I also look after it well; washing every 2 or 3 days with shampoo and conditioner (the kinds that keep it very moisturised, but also keep the colour in), moisturising spray before using a detangling brush, then heat spray before styling. I make sure I have days where I let my hair dry naturally, without a hairdryer.

The first time I had Alopecia, the patch was small but right on the top of my head, so I had to style my hair a certain way to hide it. I felt mortified when someone noticed the patch! I struggle with my own identity (thanks, BPD), but I see my hair as part of it, so to lose it would be like losing a part of my identity! Since then, it has been happening on and off, every few months to a year.

As for treatment, most things don't do much but I've found that a prescribed product called Dermovate at least speeds up the hair growth. I won't say it'll definitely work for you, but if you experience patchy Alopecia, I recommend going to the doctor, having whatever blood tests they send you for, and asking if you could try Dermovate. It is a steroid treatment, and thins the skin so can only be used for a couple of weeks at a time, but compared to waiting for hair to grow back without treatment, this product has definitely sped up the hair growth for me. If you do try it, I hope so much that it works for you too.

Do you experience/ Have you experienced patchy hair loss (aka Alopecia Areata)? Have you found out the cause? Are there any other treatments you would recommend? Please comment below!


What is Alopecia Areata and How do I Treat it?:

Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency Anemia:

Vitamin D deficiency:

What is Folic Acid deficiency Anemia?:

Dermovate Ointment:

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Updates, and some worrying family news

Since my last post quite a few things have happened.


My nan has now been temporarily placed in a nursing home. It's further away from family than she'd like but she at least accepted this was the best place for her, at least while she's rehabilitating. Her family (including my dad and I) are taking turns visiting her, so she only has 2 or 3 days where she doesn't see anyone other than the nursing home staff.

Her suspected Dementia is definitely getting worse and she is now doubly incontinent. As for her mobility, on a good day she can stand with the help of a machine (a Rotunda I think?) but she generally needs hoists to get her out of bed and into a chair.

Her nursing home placement was originally only supposed to be 4 weeks, with the hopes that she would be rehabilitated well enough to go back to her assisted living flat. Staff were under the impression (due to Nan convincing them) that she would receive round the clock care in her flat, and carers would tend to her every need. After speaking to some of the family, however, they now know that this is not the case. Once the 4 weeks have passed, Nan will have a thorough assessment of her physical needs, mental health and capacity. Hopefully Dad and I will be able to attend for any other information needed.

To say she is settled in this home would be quite an overstatement. Staff have told us that she is complaining about everything and accusing them of taking much longer to see to her than they actually are. We spoke to one of the nurses based in the home, who has got to know Nan fairly well, and she definitely agrees she has Dementia. She assured us they will assess her for this at the end of the placement, and along with any other concerns raised, we will discuss where she will go next.

Last time I saw Nan, she seemed to accept that she now has too many needs for her assisted living home. She reluctantly accepts she has to stay in this nursing home for now but she wants to go into one much nearer the family when she comes to the end of her placement here.

I feel so conflicted about Nan to be honest. She really annoys me, and I get embarrassed about the way she speaks to staff, but I have to remember that a lot of her behaviour etc is down to the Dementia and for the most part, she can't really help it. I love her to bits though and worry about her constantly. The main things I want are for her to be happy and safe. She's safe at least, but I wish something could help her feel happy. My family and I do our best to ensure her room is as homely as possible but it's impossible to get it just right, and unless it is exactly the same as her old flat, she isn't happy.


A few weeks ago, one of my cousins went to the Philippines to do work experience for her medical degree. She'd had all the vaccinations needed, but unfortunately a mosquito bite infected her with Dengue Fever . She was very poorly already and was unable to tell the hospital staff of any other things that had happened.

A few days after she was admitted into the hospital, she became critically ill, and doctors discovered multiple jellyfish stings on her body. She'd been swimming in the sea, and luckily was wearing a bathing suit instead of a bikini, so some of the stings didn't quite get through her skin. Regardless, she is now in intensive care and has been intubated. This is because the neuro-toxins from the jellyfish stings are severely affecting her ability to breathe. She is also experiencing paralysis in her legs.

There have been points where doctors have been unsure as to whether she will survive. Apparently the stings had been in her for a week before being discovered, and the Dengue Fever masked the symptoms of the stings.

We are all so so worried about her, but glad that friends of her parents are keeping us updated about her condition. My aunt and uncle are flying over to the Philippines, so hopefully there will be more updates soon.

My Mental Health (TW: Self Harm)

This year, I planned to do everything I could to improve my mental health. I was so fed up of feeling so stressed, anxious, agitated, demotivated, and low. I was also really frustrated about how easily triggered I am by any mention or discussion of abortion. It's been 10 years since I had my traumatic one and I've never really faced it. I still have a few weeks left on the waiting list for counselling with the Primary Care team, but I feel like I need to start therapy or at least talk to someone ASAP. Once my counselling for this has finished, I plan to get in touch with Women's Aid, about the abusive relationship I was in when at university.

At the moment, I feel like I cannot concentrate on much at all, let alone myself. I am going through the motions, trying to keep as busy as possible, but suffering physically because of it. My head is full of thoughts again, and to be honest I am self harming every day again. I feel quite sore because of it, but I get such urges to do it, I can't resist. When I'm not doing it, I'm thinking about it and it feels like the only thing I can control right now.

As well as this, I can't stop thinking about my Nan and cousin. Is Nan having a good day or bad day? Have the nursing home staff been tending to her needs quickly? How is Nan treating them? What happens if she becomes too verbally aggressive? Will she be assessed properly? Will Dad and I be able to attend the assessment so the social worker etc can get our experiences and views of her behaviour? These are just some of the worries I have about Nan. As for my cousin, my main terrifying thoughts are whether she is still alive, whether she is unconscious because she's so poorly, or because the doctor has put her under anaesthetic. My cousin and I aren't very close, but I still love her and the thought of losing her is too much to bear.

My Physical Health

As I said above, I am trying to keep busy to distract myself from my thoughts, but this is affecting my physical health. I am very dizzy and feeling faint, and having times where I almost fall over or faint.
Alongside this, I've been having some nausea, worse aches and pains, very bad joint stiffness, and I'm extremely tired and wobbly on my feet. I'm not sure how I'd cope outside without my walking stick. I have my ENT follow up next month, where I will be undergoing Vestibular tests . I also have an appointment with a Cardiologist next month, where I intend to ask about being assessed for POTS . I really hope both specialists will thoroughly assess me and be able to come up with a diagnosis on that day. I will make notes, as usual, of my symptoms, what makes them worse/better, when symptoms arise etc. In the meantime, all I can do is make sure I sit whenever possible, and lie down when I need to (which seems to be most of the day!)

So this is what's been happening with me recently! I will write another post when I know more, and my main posts will be about my appointments next month.

Have any of my readers experienced Vestibular tests? I would love to know what happens and if you get a diagnosis on that day. Also with Cardiology, do they do any tests (as well as an ECG) to thoroughly assess your symptoms?

If you can advise, that'd be great! In the meantime, take care everyone, and thank you so much for reading xxx

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Facing my Past

(TW: Meds, mention of Abortion, Overdose, Suicide, and Self Harm. Weight/Diet talk)

After being discharged from CMHT, I've been struggling a lot with my mental health, and not knowing where to turn. A meds review with my GP resulted in a small prescription of Diazepam (so far, I've only had to take 5mg) and, knowing I have this to keep me safe, has prevented me from taking overdoses in order to knock myself out.

On one of my "good" days, I made a decision to put myself first and do everything I can to look after my mental health. I simply cannot afford to abandon my mental health and end up in crisis without support. I'd been putting off contacting Women's Aid (re: abusive relationship) and Cruse Bereavement (re: traumatic abortion) and I needed to decide who I'd contact first and when.

As it had been on my mind recently, and I was getting more and more triggered by any mention or conversation about abortion, I decided to contact Cruse Bereavement first. I tried the national number, then the number for my local area, but couldn't get through. I found some email addresses though, so sent a long email to each of the ones that seemed most relevant to my enquiries.

After a couple of days, one of the email accounts messaged me back. They were sympathetic to my situation and felt an abortion clinic that offers counselling would be most appropriate. This was Marie Stopes. I contacted Marie Stopes and received an email back. Again, they were sympathetic to my situation, and wanted to help, but it would cost. I simply cannot afford to pay for counselling, so I had to decline. I decided to see if there were any other abortion charities in/near my area, but everything I found expected you to pay at least £30 for an hour's counselling. I can't afford to pay that much on a weekly basis. It felt like every time I tried to access help, a door was slammed in my face.

Eventually, I ran out of options apart from one; Primary Care. I didn't want to go through CBT again but I figured any therapy is better than none. I left a message on their voicemail to call me back and the next day, they'd called me back, taken my details, and arranged a telephone appointment for Thursday to see what they could offer me (if anything). I had my telephone appointment on the Thursday and was faced with many many questions (not just about the abortion). After going through the PHQ (questionnaire for Depression), the GAD (for Generalised Anxiety), specific phobias, and daily functioning questionnaires, they asked about my main problems now. They also asked about my lifestyle, traumas in the past, symptoms of PTSD, OCD etc.

Finally, the therapist asked what my reasons were for getting therapy from them, whether I was ready and committed, and why I wanted to tackle these main problems at this point in time specifically. I couldn't give a very detailed answer to this, it's just that I feel that I am so fed up of the way I'm feeling and how much it holds me back. I also feel that I am ready right now and I want to see how I go. I need to face my past and at least try to move on. For that, I need support.

The therapist said she would speak to her supervisor, then get back to me. Later on that day, I received a call from her, with good news. I was accepted and would be put on an 8-10 week waiting list. The wait is a little while, but at least I'm going to get help!

In other news:

I chased up my Cardiology appointment, and after sorting out a problem because my GP hadn't attached the referral letter to the right system, my referral was finally sent. A couple of days later, I received an appointment to see a Cardiologist in April!

So, at the moment I am under an ENT specialist for dizziness (vestibular tests/follow up in April), a Cardiologist for fainting/nearly fainting, and will be seeing a therapist for mental health. I'm really hoping I'll get some answers and maybe even treatment! If something can improve, I will be so pleased!


My nan is still in hospital, for her broken right femur. She has had an operation to plate and pin her femur into place and is recovering from this. It seems her impacted bowel is still causing her some problems, but she won't discuss this with hospital staff. She also won't tell them about the dizziness she gets when she bends over. Her borderline Dementia is getting much worse, and of course the effects of the anaesthetic are making her confusion worse. She's been having some strange ideas about the hospital, and her money. From what I can gather, she believed that the hospital was being used as a film set, and the other patients were actors. She also believed (and still believes) that her money will disappear, the longer she is in hospital.

When Dad and I last visited her (yesterday), a social care worker came to see her, and was under the impression (due to lack of communication from other staff) that Nan would be discharged either that day or tomorrow. Dad and I had to take the social care worker aside, and explain everything. Because of this, and the fact we'd mentioned the Dementia, she decided to rearrange the appointment. She had also not been told that Nan was eventually going to be transferred to a different hospital, for rehabilitation. It was a good job we were there to explain everything! Nan does just want to go home, and has apparently had her mental capacity assessed (she had passed because it was done on a "good" day) so if she decides she wants to be discharged, she probably will be.

It's a very difficult situation because all the family want what's best for Nan, and we want to keep her safe and comfortable. We want her to have a say in her care as well. Unfortunately, she just wants to go back to struggling along with minimal help, even though she is now at significant risk of further falls, and her Dementia is getting worse. What she really needs, and hospital staff have agreed, is 24 hour care. Nan had managed to convince the social care worker that this is exactly what she will get, but this is not the case at all. She gets a visit in the morning, for washing, putting creams on etc but she will struggle to make very simple meals for herself. The rest of the time, she will stay in her chair, on her own in her flat, and she will even sleep in her chair. She is at a stage where we are considering nursing care. We thought she had at least accepted this, but she doesn't want anything to change. She even said "I don't want anything different, I want it the same".

This is stressing me out a lot and I am letting everything get on top of me. My parents are being wonderful though, and encourage me to take the pressure off myself. For this reason, I have decided to have a break from Slimming World. I had developed an unhealthy mindset about eating and compensating for "bad" days. As well as seeking counselling for certain parts of my mental health problems, I also want to learn more about body positivity. If I can come to a point where I feel better about myself, I can then decide whether to continue with weight loss, or if I just want to maintain my weight. Either way, I will try to keep to a mostly healthy diet, with the odd treat.

So overall, I am working on putting myself first (most of the time) and looking after myself. I need to quieten the thoughts that tell me I'm useless and unimportant. I will blog about my ENT follow up/Vestibular tests, as well as my Cardiology appointment/s and Counselling appointments. For now, I think I'll leave this blog post as it is, and hope that you are all as well as possible!

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Stress Stress Stress

So much has happened recently and it's got my mind in overdrive.

Firstly, mum had a fall and couldn't stand up for hours. Doctor at A&E was useless, but luckily after a stop overnight, she gained enough strength back in her legs to stand and walk a few steps, with help. She is still very wobbly and one of us needs to be in the house with her most of the time, as she is at risk of falling again.

Secondly, I received an ESA limited capability for work questionnaire. I am to be reassessed. It came as a shock, because I thought those with long term conditions would be exempt from these. It seems not, and I'm hearing of quite a few friends in the same situation.

Thirdly, nan had an impacted bowel, and was suffering severe lower stomach pains and nausea. She was taken to hospital by ambulance and received some treatment before being released at 3am.

Fourthly, nan was taken to hospital the next night, following a fall which resulted in a large complex fracture of her right femur. She has since had to have an operation and is recovering.

On top of this, I'm due to have a smear test, I need to book a dental appointment (about 6 months after a reminder letter, oops!) I need to chase up my Cardiology referral, and I need to ring the bereavement charity and/or Women's aid about the abusive relationship I was in.

It feels as if there is so much to think about or deal with, that all I want to do is run away and hide! I have no choice though, I have to get these things done at some point, and I can't get away from the other things I need to consider.

Needless to say, I am EXHAUSTED. Mentally, physically, emotionally, you name it. My Fibromyalgia has been playing up too, as well as the intrusive thoughts and routines with my OCD. I feel on the edge of breaking down, if I'm totally honest.

I was walking down the corridor in the hospital with Dad earlier, after seeing Nan. I was trying to keep up with Dad (he wasn't being fast, it was me being slow) and I got very breathless, my heart was pounding, I was dizzy and felt as if I was going to faint. Going to the toilet only gave me a few minutes break before I had to carry on walking. I've somehow found energy to write this post, but only just.

It seems to be a difficult year for many people, especially those with chronic illnesses (physical and mental). I think all we can do is try to break down the things we need to consider, and prioritise which need doing first. It is so important to look after yourself and be kind to yourself, and I guess this is something I feel I need to do as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

A Blackout, A Fall, GP ENT Follow Up and a Gold Star for Amy!

I've had some eventful times recently, with my health!

Firstly, I had a sort of Blackout about a week ago. My dizziness and faintness have been quite bad and about a week ago I was standing by my bookcase, fussing Billie, and suddenly had a very temporary loss of consciousness. I caught myself in time before I fell, but I have been feeling very weird since.

I've been a lot clumsier since this "blackout"; knocking drinks over, bumping into things/people, and tripping up a lot. This came to a head when I had a bad fall 3 days ago. I was sitting on my armchair, and had to get up for something. I was wearing my pyjamas at the time. I rose from the chair and stepped forward, only to get my right foot caught in my left pyjama bottom leg. I fell forward, turning my left foot right over and spraining it, then fell into the bookcase and back against the wooden part of the armchair. My back is scratched and bruised, my foot/ankle are bruised, and my ankle is sprained. I don't do things in halves!

I decided to document these things, as I had a GP appointment yesterday; to discuss my first ENT appointment. This was with a GP I hadn't seen before, so I was quite nervous, though keen to let her know what had happened.

Unfortunately, the surgery was very busy when I arrived, and I think this was why the GP acted the way she did. She rushed me and, I felt, was dismissive of my symptoms. She quickly went through the ENT letter; where it mentioned the dizziness and faintness and the fact that they wanted me to change from Stemetil (Prochlorperazine) to Cyclizine (both anti-sickness medication), because they felt the Stemetil was making my dizziness worse.

I took my chance to tell her about the blackout. She felt it wasn't a proper one as I hadn't actually collapsed to the floor and she wanted to know if I had fainted recently. I said not recently, but I had fainted once, five years ago. I wasn't sure if it was related, but I thought I'd mention it just in case.

I also mentioned the fall, and showed her my foot. She didn't seem that bothered about it but she did examine it (slightly) and told me it was probably a sprain, but as it wasn't swollen, she wasn't concerned.

She next said to me (I'm paraphrasing here) "Well your blood tests and ECG were normal. Do you think the dizziness and faintness are stress related?"

This was quite an annoying thing for her to say. I know certain symptoms can be stress related, but I know that mine aren't. I have had stressors recently, but they haven't coincided with the dizziness and faintness. I experienced them months before anything particularly stressful happened.

She wasn't going to refer me to the Cardiologist either, but I stood my ground and said that the other GP was going to refer me so I would prefer this. Thankfully, she listened to me, and made the referral. She typed a lot, and I think mentioned the fainting five years ago, the almost-blackout, and the fall, in the referral request.

Lastly, she handed me my Cyclizine prescription, and said that the Cardiology appointment would get in touch with me.

Overall, the appointment wasn't a bad one, because I got what I needed (primarily, the referral). I do wish she'd rushed me less and not been dismissive though. Maybe it was a bad day for her, I won't take it personally.

I awarded myself an invisible Gold Star for holding my ground and asking for what I needed though. Past me would not have had the courage.