I received a letter from APNI in January of this year following my application to work as a volunteer for the APNI. It was explained that currently it was your policy not to take on volunteers who are still receiving psychotropic medication therefore it would be appropriate that I contact you when I had been off medication for 6 months. I have given this a great deal of thought, and I have finally decided to write back to you in order to suggest that this policy could be reviewed as I believe it may serve to exclude those who despite remaining on medication, could still be of value to both you and your service users.
I had a post partum psychosis following my daughter’s birth in 2003. Following discharge from the maternity unit I had a period of mild to moderate elation, which escalated into total sleeplessness and florid psychosis. Once the psychotic symptoms were managed I was left with a dark depression I felt that would never leave me. My illness was managed by the use of antidepressant and anti psychotic medication, and support by a Community Mental Health Nurse and regular review by a Consultant Psychiatrist. I recovered and returned to work and grew to love being a mother to my daughter. Following the birth of my second daughter in 2005, strategies were put into place to prevent a re occurrence, and I was fortunate to remain reasonably, though not entirely well during the initial post partum period. However the following year when my youngest daughter was 1 year of age, I suffered from a period of psychotic depression, which was followed by a period of hypomania. It was at this stage I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type II. Once this diagnosis was made, lots of things began to fall into place, and I could begin to make some sense of the events of the recent years, and those years prior to having children. I also became aware that had the diagnosis of bipolar disorder type II been made prior to my having children, the increased risk of a psychotic episode during the post partum period would have been identified, and appropriate preventative strategies may have been put in place.
I currently work as a Registered Mental Nurse for a NHS Trust, and since this year I am working in the Recovery service. Prior to this I was working in on an NHS Acute Inpatient Unit, employed as a senior staff nurse for five years. In my job I nurse people with serious and enduring mental illness, and as a senior staff nurse I am responsible for taking charge of the ward and managing any situations that arise during the course of my shift. My manager, some colleagues and occupational health are aware of my diagnosis, and the fact that I am currently on both anti psychotic and antidepressant medication. They are aware that I am under the care of a Consultant Psychiatrist and CPN who were also both fully supportive of returning to work in my full capacity as a Registered Mental Nurse. They understand and support the fact that it is likely that I will need to take medication for a long time, perhaps for life, and it is the fact that I take this medication that helps to keep me stable and functioning at an optimum level of mental health. I feel lucky to be employed in a Trust is truly working towards the de-stigmatisation of those with mental illness, and shows it values, respects and trust the judgement of people like me employing me in a professional role, and trusting me to do my job. My employers understand that like a diabetic needs to take insulin to stay well, some individuals need to remain on psychotropic medication long term in order to stay well, and this is not to be seen as a weakness or a indicator of being unwell.
So, the point I am attempting to make is that although I understand that for some suffers of PNI, the sign that they are truly well is when they are medication free, this is not true for all. Some women who suffer from PMI also suffer from recurrent depression, and it is possible that they will need to take medication for many years. Those with bipolar disorder type I or II are also much more likely to be required to take medication for the long term in order function at an optimum level and prevent relapse. These two groups of women are more likely to suffer from severe PNI and psychosis than those with no previous history of mental illness. And these two groups of women, who may be on medication for the long term, could still make fantastic volunteers for the APNI, myself included. It is well reported that if you have a previous history of a mood disorder, the risk of PNI is significantly increased therefore it is likely that many women who have suffered from PNI will remain on medication for the long term. It seems to me to be a real error of judgement to turn the experiences and understanding of the women away purely because they remain medicated. I understand that you need to be sure that a woman is fully recovered to volunteer, but I don’t think that being medication free is the best indicator of wellness.
I hope this letter goes some way to explain why I think your current policy needs review. I feel that I, and many other women who remain on medication could be a great asset to the APNI and its service users, and I believe women like me serve to reduce the stigmatisation of mental illness and medication, and reinforce that despite mental illness you can have a valued and productive life.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts, and I sincerely hope to join you as a volunteer in the very near future.
So, I shall wait and see.............................................................
Anyhow - the house is a mess, the kids rooms and all the toys need sorting out, and I need to speak to my manager about what is going on. It's not that I'm particularly worried about these things -more that my mind keeps moving from one to the next without sorting anything out. I seem to spend long periods of time on things, but really don't sort anything out or get anything dome before I've moved onto something else.
I'm doing my own head in.
In a way I sometimes wish that Hubby wasn't here so I could just get on with it. If he wasn't here I could just scrap the night meds and get this feeling out of my system by getting it all done.
I feel that I could be onto something really big that might really help me and other people like me, but I don;t know how to stay focused enough to express it properly. All the distractions get on my nerves -Hubby, the kids, work, friends, the phone, cooking, the house -EVERYTHING. I just want to hide away and get on with it. I really do think that I may be able to do something fantastic and life changing. But instead I will take my pills and try to get some sleep so I can go to work in the morning.
I fucking HATE the Quetiapine yet sometimes love it too. I love the fact that it lets me actually sleep, it feels like a warm alcohol glow washing over me as it takes effect - and I'm only on a tiny dose. I hate the fact it makes me feel shit in the morning unless I take it so fucking early I loose half my evening as I have to think about bed from about 9.30pm. All I want to do is be able to stay up until 11 or 12 o'clock and get up at 7 without being bolloxed., It does my head in. I feel that it's such a waste of valuable time going to bed when I could be doing other interesting things. I'm not high though. If anything I feel a bit low right now. Some difficult thoughts starting up again. Hubby playing with little one and she didn't have any nappy on and I got a strong visual image of him raping her and her screaming and crying and wondering what was going on but there was nothing I could do.
A man came to my door and gave me a booklet. He said that there were paedophiles everywhere. It really upset me as I keep trying to tell myself that it's just me who think they are everywhere.
I'm just trying to distract myself from all that stuff at the moment as it feels like a slippery slope.
It's strange because my mind is racing, but not in a nice way with nice plans. More in a desperate panicky way. My stomach is in knots as I sit writing this - I have an almost overwhelming sense of urgency that I need to do something, but I don't know what it is. I'm caught between worrying that by doing what I really want to do could draw attention and ruin everything.
Perhaps I should just promise myself that I will try and write down my thoughts and feeling , no matter how stupid or random -just as it pops into my head, and hopefully by writing it down it will turn into something that makes sense. I do sometimes feel that my personal experience combined with my mental nursing could be combined to make something really good. I know it's there in my brain - I just don't know how to get it out in a way that will make sense to anyone, least of all myself. A diary might be a good idea as long as I just keep it to one diary, as I usually end up with lots of different scribblings on bits of paper or separate projects, or separate parts of the same project but creating a system to manage and organise my projects is too trivial and a distraction from the great ideas I'm having and if I sit and try to organise it into a folder with different sections I may forget all the different sections and the potential sections there may be. I feel terrified of giving into some linear type of organisational format because it will cause me to stop me from fully exploring all the possibilities of my mind.
But the downside of this is that I don't usually manage to get anything written down. At all. Which makes me feel like I'm a bubble of amazing knowledge of ideas and theories, but to everyone else I'm just a boring woman doing the school run or the shopping who doesn't think of anything. This feels crippling, like a bird with no wings, and then I feel like a big fraud because I don't want to be doing these mundane things but I do them because I have to. I feel torn between wanting to live as the person I want to be, but knowing that the person I feel like I want to be is ultimately not good for me, and I would get in a mess and have regret and shame. It must be like alcohol, drugs or gambling only with this its choosing to go with your personal sense of direction or putting self imposed fuck off red traffic lights, stop signs and speed cameras up so I stay in a state of wanting instead of doing.
Right -meds kicking in now and feel a bit fucked and can't hold my pen or read my writing. bye x