Saturday 16th December 2017 (8.12pm)

I miss being a cop

Just writing this and I am not sure as to whether it will go live onto my blog or not. I do not want to appear doom and gloom but looking through my Facebook feed for the first time today has triggered all sorts of feelings and emotions. It reminds me of my blog titled ‘December’ as I see all of my friends and work colleagues enjoying themselves (or appearing to) at Christmas ‘do’s’. Whilst I am not fussed about being out drinking (in fact this is my worst nightmare) it is the people who I have met through the ‘job’ which has brought back so many memories.

I miss my job, I miss being a Police Officer but I am confused about what my head is doing. Tonight is one of the busiest nights of the year for the emergency services and I miss those times working as a response officer in Cardiff City Centre. At the time, I would have moaned that I was cold and fed up at 3am as people dropped their chips on the floor and all I could think about was my warm bed which would have to wait until sometime after 7am.

I feel like I am letting the side down by not being there to help colleagues. It’s a strange feeling of being lost and not being part of the team.

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Thursday 14th December 2017 (12.47pm)

Confused

I have not written for a while as I have had no motivation or emotion to do so. Mood has been quite flat and I have felt that I have had nothing to say. Not sure why I feel the way I do. I guess that is the nature of the beast.

I sit here in the lounge at David Lloyd having just completed a 2000m swim and a 45 minute run. I felt distracted during my training as I have things on my mind. I saw my GP this morning and my medication has been increased (it is being done in stages for medical and safety reasons to ensure that I can tolerate it). Appointment went fine and I will not see her now until after Christmas.

I collected my medical report written by the Psychiatrist who I saw 13th December last year. I requested it for work purposes. It confuses me how two Psychiatrists can have massively differing opinions. Granted they are written 10 months apart but their conclusions could not be more different. Whilst report 1 (December 2016) states that I am not suffering from a severe mental illness but refers to an adjustment disorder without persistent depressive symptoms; report 2 (October 2017) concludes that I have complex and severe PTSD and severe depression.

The problem I have, as previously described is that my intellect and my emotions function on a different level. They do not work together. In appointment 1, I sat there and felt like an intellectual robot as if I knew the answers but could not relate them to me or the way I was feeling. Perhaps I played down the way I was feeling as I did not want to be labelled or I was scared to be diagnosed with a mental illness. I spoke about how things were and I was intellectually able to describe and articulate things. I distanced myself from the real me.

Ten months on and things have changed. I am more open and honest about my mental health. I can talk about it and by the time I saw Psychiatrist 2 I felt like a different person. By this I mean that I did not care about labels and just needed to be me. On that day I was. Whilst I still think I am talking about someone else, it was still me. I was asked questions which I have not been asked before, I completed questionnaires which I have never competed and after two hours felt mentally drained.

I am not the professional but two differing opinions could massively influence my future career. Unfortunately, my honest, intellectual and emotional head tends to agree with report 2. This maybe more damming for me in terms of diagnosis and future but that’s how it is.

I have spoken to my federation rep this morning and I will send the report to her for FMA and HR attention. Due to the discrepancies a further opinion may be sought. In the meantime I am still in limbo with where I stand in relation to policy and unsatisfactory attendance procedures.

Wednesday 6th December 2017 (8.32pm)

December – Look out for each other

This blog is a slight deviation from what I usually write but I feel that it is important to share.

December is a time for festive cheer, Christmas parties, catching up with friends and spending time with family. It is a time to unwind and put the pressures of work and everyday life on hold. This is what a perfect Christmas looks like; but is this reality? The run up to the 25th December for many indicates stress and anxiety. Overspending, chasing the next ‘in’ toy, gift or gadget or fretting about sprouts or arguing about where to sit the mother in law at dinner can all take the enjoyment of what the day is about.

For many, Christmas is a time of sadness or loneliness, it is about hiding your feelings of mental illness from others, simply because you want to fit in to what society tells you to. There will be people out there sitting around the table struggling. They say 1 in 4 suffer from a mental health illness, but I believe it to be more like 1 in 2. Therefore, there is a distinct possibility that someone close to you may have other things on their mind.

What about the colleague who does not get involved in secret santa or avoids the Christmas party, festivities or other social situations? Do you just think they are ‘unsociable?’ They maybe, but are there any other underlying issues?

What can you do about it? How can you recognise it?

This is a simple one to answer. Just look out for each other, ask your friend, colleague, family member how they are and if you detect something you ask further. I do not want to take the fun out of Christmas, but you only have to look at suicide rates to see the real story.

As for me, two years ago on Christmas Eve, a friend and colleague spotted I was in a bad place and would not let me leave the office. Whilst everyone came in to wish me a Merry Christmas, all I wanted to do was curl up and die. I hid this as best as I could and returned the complements with a smile. My friend took me out in the car for two hours before feeling reassured and allowing me to go home. I decided to spend Christmas day alone. This is what I wanted. I had offers from family but I needed time out for myself. I could not face my own head.

If it was not for my friend / colleague who took the time to ask how I was and probe further I do not know where I would be.

For me, this year, Christmas will be different and I intend to enjoy it and have a good time.

Look out for each other and enjoy the December festivities x

Wednesday 6th December (12.31pm)

A morning at Mind

I am sat in the Mind Cmryu meeting room, Cardiff with a number of other Blue Light (emergency service) champions learning about how to Blog successfully. We have been given 5 minutes to write a practice blog so this is mine. I am no expert in the subject as you know so I thought I would come along to see what tips I could pick up. I am glad that I did as a) it gets me out of a training session, b) there are lovely cakes from M&S, c) there is a buffet lunch, but most importantly, d) It gets me out meeting other people from emergency services who I can learn from.

I have given a talk on how I got into blogging and it still amazes me how far I have come with my mental health. I would say that at the moment things are pretty stable; by that I mean I have had no self destructive thoughts and no fluctuations in my mood. Things are just normal I would say. The busyness of hunting high and low for a dog Advent calendar (apparently I need to get one early November), having new furniture delivered, putting up my Christmas tree and Ironman training has kept me occupied… That’s it … 5 minutes up …

Thursday 30th November 2017 (12.11pm)

I am still here

I thought I would just check in as it has been a week since I last managed to write anything. I did not want you thinking that I had fallen off the face of the planet.

Since last writing I have started my Ironman 2018 training under a new coach, I have completely decorated my living room and kitted out with new furniture, Prince Harry has announced his engagement to Meghan (he must have sussed my gayness), Olly has had his first Las Iguanas chicken, and this is my first time in a coffee shop in I don’t know how many days (which is a rarity).

Suffice to say I have been ticking along. The busyness of everything has kept my head in a different place as I have not have had time to ruminate on any negative thoughts which randomly but frequently pop into my head.

It has been two weeks since my visit to A&E after eating too many paracetamol. I am pleased to say that I am in a better place now and have plans which I can focus on. The big thing for me is structure in my training. I was starting to lose motivation and focus for exercise and it became a chore rather than an out for enjoyment. My Ironman coach has given me a plan which I have been working on for the last 4 days. I am pleased to say that after looking at it, I am still alive! It has certainly got me motivated again and it is helping my head massively.

I am back at the Doctors later, as I was only given 1 week worth of drugs. So far no adverse affects but appreciate that I am on a low dosage. I was given a sick note last week for 8 weeks which takes me into January. As of tomorrow I go onto zero pay, I have managed before and I am sure I will again. For now I am not going to worry about it, instead I am off to get a chocolate advent calendar.

Now whatever day, time and date it is

Today

Today I visited my GP.

Today I was given new antidepressants (Venlafaxine).

Today I was given a sick certificate for another 8 weeks.

Today I saw the Force Medical Doctor.

Today I was told that I am not on the scrap heap (yet).

Today I met with friends (finally) and got treated to a Costa hot chocolate, toastie and cake.

Today I have bought paint to decorate my living room. Project white wall will commence tomorrow.

Today, Olly rolled in something smelly.

Today is not a bad day.

Tomorrow