Looking forward

It’s the new year. And like everyone else I’m looking back over the last one, looking forward towards this one, and generally taking stock. 2015 was interesting. It was pretty extreme in some ways, starting at a point of severe depression, enduring eight long months of regular ECT treatments to climb out of that depression, dealing with two episodes of hypomania, and the day to day challenges of managing a severe mental illness. It also included being physically well enough during the first half of the year to get properly fit for the first time in years, and the 19lb weight loss (losing some of the absurd gain from taking antipsychotics combined with misery eating) which came from that. There were 3 months or so of wonderful crossover between good mental health and good physical health, and I and therefore my whole family were able to enjoy things that we had never been able to do as a family before. Then in the Autumn I faced a return of physical symptoms which had been mostly absent for a while, and had the mental challenge of coping with that return and the loss of those previous gains. I also managed to acquire a new back injury, whilst swimming, of all things. This change in physical symptoms landed me with a brief stint back on antipsychotics (mainly because of the challenge of accessing adequate care and pain relief, meaning that five weeks into the flare I was literally losing my mind trying to cope with the pain and life with very little support), leading to a 14llb weight gain in one single month. I then gained a few more pounds from using eating as a method to cope with the combination of stress from pain and fatigue, studying for an exam, and the holiday season which is so much more intense in this country than it is in England! I enter the new year only 2lb lighter than I was this time last year. At least I’m not heavier I guess.

Back to that exam – I passed! I took the CGFNS nursing knowledge exam for nurses who have qualified outside the US to prove that their knowledge is adequate to be considered eligible to take the NCLEX exam – the general nursing boards/registration exam. The few weeks leading up to the test are a blur of severe pain, and I actually only had adequate pain relief prescribed by the Yale Advanced Diagnostic Pain Treatment Center (a brilliant place!) the day AFTER the exam. It’s a bit of a miracle that I passed! Getting permission to test for the NCLEX has been much easier than getting permission to test for the CGFNS, so I’m scheduled to take that on the 13th February. I am taking a Hurst course this coming week (three very long full days, it’s going to be a massive change of pace!) which I’m hoping will give me the knowledge needed to direct my NCLEX study, because I’ve done literally nothing for it yet!

This brings me to my biggest challenge of 2016. Managing my return to work. I haven’t worked for nearly 9 years now, mostly due to poor mental or physical health, often both. I’ve also been a stay-at-home mum (I HATE that name!), but before Amelie was born we always planned for me to work part time from when she was about 7 months old). Returning to work is an enormous source of anxiety for me, which I think is understandable given the circumstances! It’s also really exciting, as I’m sure if I can physically and mentally cope with it that I’ll love working part time. It’s been such a frustration to me to never be able to truly use the knowledge that I gained in my training, and really do what I wanted to do. Hopefully this year that may happen. I’m going to write more about work challenges for people with chronic health problems in the next few weeks.

In the rest of my life, I hope to continue to rebuild my marriage and my relationships with my children even more, although we are at a much much better place than we were this time last year. I also want to continue to develop relationships with family and friends here (again massive gains on last year, but still hard not having the kind of long term deep relationships that we had in the UK), and continue to make efforts to keep relationships from the UK alive via various technological means! I want to further explore my faith and the challenges that I have experienced with that, and my overall beliefs about life and the world which are still fragile following the earthquake that is truly losing one’s mind. I also plan on addressing my use of eating as a coping mechanism, and trying to lose weight again, despite it being likely to be harder this time, not being able to do high impact cardio.

This year I’m also going to try to write in detail about my experience with psychosis, the times leading up to each time that it happened, and about rebuilding life following an episode. I’m also going to try to write about suicide, as it’s something that isn’t widely discussed, and that I have come very close to on several occasions. All in all I’m going to try to be open about my struggles in the hope that it will help others who have experienced similar things and possibly felt as alone as I have done in the middle of it.

I very much hope that 2016 will be a great year for my family and I, and I hope that if you’re reading this, that it will be the same for you.



~ by jennkeast on January 3, 2016.

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