Respawn: round fucking-whatever

I had a 45 minute telephone assessment last Monday. I had referred myself to the local Wellbeing service to ask for help managing my drinking, and Monday was my initial consultation. 

Whenever you access a mental health service in the UK, you are asked to complete a questionnaire before your first appointment. This is to assess your levels of anxiety and depression and establish if you are at risk of harming yourself and/or others. This helps the service categorise urgent cases, and at the end of the treatment you can do the questionnaire again to see if you’ve improved. 

The counsellor began our conversation by telling me that I’d scored very highly for depression. That wasn’t a surprise. I have done this questionnaire many times throughout my life and I always score highly for depression. But that isn’t why I’m asking for help this time. We spent a little while talking about why I’d referred myself, and what kind of help I was looking for. Eventually, we agreed that it would be best to refer me to a specific drug and alcohol service.

She said that she thought I would definitely benefit from counselling but, since counselling has a tendency to unpack all your issues and dredge up a lot of feelings, it was probably a better idea to help control my drinking first. Otherwise, if I was still relying on alcohol as a coping mechanism, I’d just end up getting really drunk after every therapy session. (Not her exact words, obviously.)

Unfortunately, I can’t be registered under more than one mental health service at the time (because everyone only ever has one issue at a time). This means that she has to discharge me from the Wellbeing service, and refer me to a drug and alcohol service instead. 

That was last Monday. Today is the following Tuesday and I haven’t heard a single thing. I’m trying not to be impatient or ungrateful. I am really lucky to be able to access these services for free on the NHS. I love the NHS. I just don’t like this feeling of being in limbo. If I knew when my next appointment was, if i’d even received an email to say that I’d been registered for the new service, I’d feel better. Even if my next appointment was weeks away, at least I’d know that help was on the way. 

Well, I spent the whole of last week in a state of hurry-up-and-wait. I got low, and I got drunk, and I had a good cry.

But today is a new day. Every day is a new day. So today I woke up, started the day with a ten minute meditation, and set my intention to not drink today. I brushed my hair, brushed my teeth and washed my face. It felt good to do those things. It’s been a very long time since i did all of those things in a single morning.

I feel refreshed and energised. I feel hopeful. Maybe it won’t last, but for today I feel good, and I’m going to allow myself to enjoy that. 

I’ve been in this hole before, and I’ve climbed out of it before. I know the way. And yes it’s going to be hard. And yes it’s frustrating to be here again. But I’ve spent 30 years putting together a toolkit to handle this. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.

It starts with mindfulness.

Alcohol and food are symptoms of a bigger issue for me. I know they are. I drink so I don’t have to feel. I eat as a distraction. Last week I found myself sitting on the sofa with the TV on, a game console on my lap and my phone in my hand. Input! Input! Input! It’s important to be so busy that I don’t have a chance to think. 

I listen to audiobooks to go to sleep. When I’m walking the dog I call my parents for a chat, or listen to a podcast. I am constantly avoiding being alone with my thoughts. I know why I’m doing it. Whenever I stop, I get intrusive and upsetting thoughts. So I don’t stop.

But this isn’t healthy and it isn’t tenable. So step one has to be learning to be ok with my thoughts. I’ve practised this before. I’ve never mastered it, but that’s no reason not to try. 

I have a long road ahead of me, but I feel hopeful. I’m going to start with ten minutes a day alone with my thoughts, and I’m going to build up from there. 

Published by QuirkyCnt

I've spent 10 years living with chronic pelvic pain. Vulvodynia, vestibulodynia, vaginismus - I've got the set. I've even got lichen planus, which is an autoimmune disorder, and adenomyosis. This blog documents my experience with chronic pain, sexual dysfunction and all the ways I've tried to manage it. Expect fetish clubs, polygamy and explicit conversations about sex and sexuality.

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