Mental health service experiences

Hello all.
Once again I want to apologise for not posting much on here. As I mentioned in the previous post, my mental health has been getting worse. There are quite a few reasons for this which I will try to explain in the following posts.

I guess the first thing I should bring up is my experience of the mental health services.

You may recall from a previous post that in 2014 I had seen a therapist from the local CMHT (community mental health team) who would only deal with my OCD. He wasn’t interested in the other issues causing me issues with my mental health. All he would offer was CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).
Back in March 2016, I went to see my GP to discuss my mental health problems (not OCD) and to see if there would be any help available. The GP was reluctant at first to refer me back to the CMHT via something called SPA (singe point of access). After a few different telephone calls, he agreed to send a referral to SPA so that I could be seen and assessed by the CMHT.

In May, I was offered an appointment with another therapist under the adult psychological therapy service (APTS) to discuss my issues. The therapist was actually quite good and listened to things I had to say regarding my non-OCD issues. I had about 3 or 4 appointments with him and he did help me to understand some things about myself.
Unfortunately, as he was only a therapist, he was unable to diagnose anything or give any possible diagnoses.
On my last appointment with him in June 2016, he asked me to fill out a questionnaire. This questionnaire was different from the usual ones they ask you to do at the start of the sessions. This questionnaire was to identify possible autism, aspergers syndrome or another autistic spectrum disorder. When going through the questionnaire answers with the therapist, he gave me a score and a result.
The results did show that there was a possibility that I could have autism or another spectrum disorder as I scored quite highly. However, as stated above, he was unable to offer anything concrete as he is not qualified to diagnose.
His recommendation was that I should be referred to the adult autism services for further assessment and he would write to the GP.
However, this would not be simple as my local area did not have any services in place for adult autism assessments at that time. This would have meant having to be referred out of area to the nearest assessment centre which would have cost the local NHS trust more and a special request for funding would have had to have been made.

So, I found out later on (after seeing my medical records) that the recommendation to be referred to adult autism services was never put on my file, nor was it written down on the letter from the therapist to the GP.

A few months later I decided to contact the GP again regarding my mental health issues. Once again, the GP seemed reluctant to refer me to anywhere for assessment. I managed to get referred back to the CMHT via SPA and was sent an appointment letter a few weeks later.
The appointment was for an initial telephone call to discuss my issues.
Once this telephone call had been completed, they told me they would discuss what steps to take and contact me via letter.
I was then sent an appointment letter which stated the appointment would take place at my flat due to what had been discussed in the telephone call.
Unfortunately, I had to contact them and ask if I could move the appointment to somewhere other than my home (due to the OCD issues and not allowing people into my flat).
The appointment was changed to where the CMHT were based which was better for me.
The day before the appointment, the person who was going to carry out the assessment called me to tell me there had been a change of plans. Unfortunately he was not going to be available that day but one of his colleagues would be doing the assessment instead. The appointment location hadn’t changed and would still be at their offices.

The day of the assessment arrived and it was snowing. I set off in good time to get to the location due to the weather, even though I knew where the hospital was.
It had been arranged that the person doing the assessment would meet me at the reception as I had never been there before and it was quite a large building.
I had the assessment and that was it. The person doing the assessment said that he would put a recommendation forward to have some sort of therapy (day therapy, possibly a group one) and I would get a letter soon.

After a few weeks I get a letter asking me to go to a follow up appointment at a new location (the CMHT were moving into a new building and all services would be under one roof).
I attended the appointment and talked to the 2 people there. It was at this point that they recommended that I should see the psychology team to do some further digging into my past to see if there might be an explanation for my mental health issues. They would arrange a referral. They also agreed that at that time, it wouldn’t be right for me to be placed into therapy until further information had been discussed.

I then was given an appointment with the psychology department about 6 weeks or so later (February 2017). During the appointment I explained that I wanted to see a psychiatrist so that I could at least get some kind of diagnosis. They agreed to this and so the appointment ended.

About 2 months later I received a letter saying that an appointment had been scheduled for me to see a psychiatrist. I thought it was about time but the appointment was still 6 weeks away (May 2017).

The psychiatry appointment lasted about 40 minutes and not much was discussed. At the end of the session, the psychiatrist mentioned BPD or EUPD traits and that was it. Nothing else was said or suggested. Autism was mentioned but no referrals were suggested. It was suggested that I chase up an autism assessment with the GP.

No further psychiatry appointments were offered and I had been told that I would be referred back to the psychology department after that appointment but I heard nothing, nor was I given anything to suggest that it would happen (no letters, no recommendations or even leaflets).

After a few days, I contacted the CMHT to find out what was happening and whether or not I was going to be referred back to the psychology department. There were no notes on the system at that time so they had to call me back.
I then got a phone call from the person who had done the assessment on me and he stated that I should have been referred back to psychology but it hadn’t been done. If I wanted to be referred back I would have to speak to the GP again and arrange it. I had been discharged from all services under the mental health team.

To be honest, at that point I had given up wanting to even try talking to my GP or even trying to get referred anywhere.
I really felt like each department was passing the buck and not actually wanting to do anything to help me.

I have not had any contact with the CMHT or my GP since May 2017 (except for a few minor physical issues). I did request all the medical records from them though but most of the things contained within the files are just the same letters and referrals which are on my general medical records (I will mention the reason why I asked for my patient records in my next post).
There are some hand written notes contained in the files but I can’t read or understand them.

To be completely honest, I’m not sure if the diagnosis of BPD/EUPD is actually confirmed or not. I know the OCD is documented and mentioned on my files, as is depression but I have never had a straight answer when it comes to BPD or any other diagnoses.

I’m sorry I rambled on a bit and that this post is a long one but I needed to get this out there. I hope that I will be back very soon to continue talking about the last 18 months and my experiences in that time (some good, some bad, some positive and some negative).

Thanks for reading.
Nick

Advertisements

It’s time for an update

Hi there everyone.

I’m sorry I haven’t blogged here recently. Things have been getting on top of me mental health wise but a lot has happened since the last update around 2 years ago.

So, where do I start?  Well, I guess I should start with the OCD seeing as that is what the main theme of this blog is.

I’m not going to say my OCD has improved or become worse because it hasn’t done either of those. It has been pretty constant with the same main contamination fear over the last 2 years. I would say that it is what I like to call balanced, especially when at home. If I have to leave the flat, the anxiety level rises as I fear that the risk factor is increased because I am around unknown people.

I still wash up items multiple times before preparing food and then scald them under boiling water from the kettle. Depending on what food I am preparing, it takes an average of 1 hour to do the washing up and scalding of items before use and then there’s the actual cooking or preparation time on top. Even for a simple thing like a sandwich, the whole process of washing up, preparation of items and then the food preparation takes roughly one hour and thirty minutes. If I do this twice per day, it gets exhausting and, being honest, there are times when depression kicks in and I don’t even want to go through all that so I don’t end up eating at all or I end up eating snack foods such as crisps or biscuits.
I will also say that I am still able to use plates to eat from and cutlery to eat with (unless not necessary), hence the washing up and scalding of items which I will be using.

Then there’s the handwashing side of things. I have mentioned this in previous posts, especially when it comes to using the toilet. I’m not going to go into detail about that but all I will say is that it takes me 45 minutes to wash my hands enough to feel clean.
I will say that since the post describing this information (March 19th 2013) not much has changed.
I still wash my hands after touching pretty much everything so I still go through a lot of antibacterial hand wash.
Until recently I had been able to cut down on the handwashing after touching things by using specialist antiviral and antibacterial wipes and hand sprays after touching or using certain items but the use of this has unfortunately dwindled due to no longer being able to afford it.
I will explain the reasons behind that in another post soon.

Until the end of May this year, I had been able to get out by myself to do things like visit the supermarket once a week or go see my friend (who also has OCD and BPD) roughly once a month because I had a car. Even though going out was rare, it was still an option for me. Even just going out for a random drive somewhere and taking in the views when my mental health was dipping helped me through some low points.
Unfortunately this is no longer the case. I still own a car, I just can’t drive it because I can’t afford to run it (again, this will be explained in another post).
I’m back to having to rely on family members to take me to the supermarket for my shopping. This poses problems for me because I am no longer able to go when I know that the store will be quiet (early morning or early evening time). Although I don’t show it when my foster mum takes me to the supermarket, I am very anxious because I know that the store will be busy and there are people around me. I try to be as quick as I can and get in and out as soon as possible. I still won’t touch the trolley handle with my bare hands (partly because I now do not have the antiviral hand spray) and use my coat sleeves. I also use the self service checkout so that nobody else has to handle my items.

Unfortunately, not being able to get out of the flat has had a knock on effect with my depression. I am barely leaving the flat. In fact, the only times I leave my flat are when my foster mum takes me to the supermarket and that’s usually around once per fortnight. I haven’t even been out in the garden just for a few minutes for some fresh air.
I basically just sit in my flat all day and do nothing, often wearing the same clothes for days on end and having no motivation to actually do anything at all including cooking, tidying and cleaning.
Of course, this isn’t going to do me much good and it often triggers the BPD to the point where I am fed up of everything and see no point in anything.

Because I don’t get out now, I am not really able to continue one of my hobbies of landscape photography but I do sometimes take photos of the clouds, the moon or night sky from my window, some of which I’d like to share with you at some point.
My other hobby of building plastic model kits has also suffered recently. I’ve not had much motivation to actually continue building them or start new ones but I do still do bits of them every once in a while.
Since I started making the model kits back in August 2014, I have produced some 59 kits in total. Most have been of aircraft (planes and helicopters) but I have also built quite a few car kits too. Again, I hope to be able to share some of these with you.

I want to briefly mention foods now as I have touched upon food preparation earlier in this post.
Until recently, there were very few foods I would actually eat and pretty much none contained meats, except the pork pies and sausage rolls I ate as snack foods or comfort foods and pepperoni or ham and pineapple pizzas.
In the last few months I have been gradually introducing meat back into my eating habits. This doesn’t mean I am able to handle raw meats such as mince or chicken but I have been bringing in ready meals which contain meats.
I have to say, the anxiety levels surrounding ready meals containing meats has reduced over the few months I’ve been eating them. I actually enjoy some of them, particularly cottage pie or shepherd’s pie. I also quite like steak pie in gravy with chips (fries) and mushy peas or steak pie with vegetables and gravy. I actually buy more ready meals containing meats now than I did before and have even tried things that I haven’t had for years, things like sausages with mash potato and onion gravy.
It actually made me realise just how much of a hold OCD had on me with foods and that I’d only eat vegetarian meals or non-meat alternatives (except for the sausage rolls etc). It also made me realise just how much I missed eating those foods and how much I used to enjoy them (home cooked versions, not the ready meals).

In some ways, I am slowly starting to try combating the OCD and the hold that it has on me with foods, but in other ways I just can’t escape the hold it has over me such as the handwashing or going out to places like the supermarket without someone being with me.

Anyway, I suppose that’s enough from me for now but I will be writing further posts soon regarding other things which have been happening since I last updated this blog.

Take care.

Nick

Another big adventure

Following on from my previous post (A big adventure), here is another post about another adventure (road trip) I have had recently.

On October 10th, myself and a friend embarked on a road trip. This was for 3 reasons. Firstly, we rarely get out of the house at this time of year because of the contamination fears, secondly because I try to visit her once a month and thirdly because it was a very special day.

Most of you know I love aircraft and building model replicas of them. Well, one particular aircraft was embarking on a nationwide farewell tour over 2 days (first day north, second day south) on this day. Sadly, she is being retired from the air because of her age and for technical reasons so this was one of the final opportunities, if not the final opportunity for me to see her. This would be my third time seeing her fly as I have seen her fly twice before at her home airport (video footage is available on YouTube of the previous 2 trips).

I set off from my flat at around 8 am for the 2 hour, 90 mile trip to visit my friend and arrived at about 10 am (ish).

I had decided that we would go see this iconic aircraft on her farewell tour at the point nearest my friends house. Her dad lent me his camera so I could get some images of the aircraft flying because mobile phone cameras just aren’t good enough.  

So, we set off on the 30 mile journey to a nearby airport. When we got there I found a great place to park (less than 100ft from the end of the runway) and there was already someone there waiting.
At this point, we still didn’t know what time she was due to fly over the airport (she wasn’t landing) so it was a case of waiting around.

After talking to the gentleman that was already there with his camera, we agreed that the best vantage point to see the aircraft was in a field next to where we had parked.

We had about an hour and a half to wait until she was due to fly over us so we went into the field to find the best vantage point. The field had been ploughed recently so it was a little muddy and rough but we still made it to the edge of the field.

I decided that the best view was in the corner of the field next to a small tree. The tree would act as a buffer/safe zone between us and fellow viewers. I could also then move to the other side of the tree to capture the aircraft moving over the airfield and away from us.

As the minutes counted down towards the aircraft approaching, more people started to turn up. Luckily for my friend and I, they stayed at the other side of the tree away from us.

I kept checking Twitter on my phone to see where the aircraft was and to judge how long it would be before she was flying over. The Twitter feed is slightly delayed but was very useful to find out where she was. Unfortunately, I was unable to track the aircraft on the flight tracker apps because she often flies at low level so the radar system can’t pick up her location.

Then, I heard someone say she’s almost here and as I looked into the distance, I saw a small dot. This dot was trailed by smoke and I instantly knew that it was the aircraft.

I grabbed the camera, took off the lens cap and powered it up. I then started taking multiple shots of her approaching the airfield (burst images).

After a few minutes you could hear the distinctive roar of her engines getting louder as she approached us and you could pick out the distinctive delta-wing shape. Yes, the aircraft we were all there to see was Avro Vulcan XH558, the only remaining example of a flying Vulcan bomber aircraft anywhere in the world. The Vulcan is a British aviation Icon made by the Avro corporation in the 1950s (they also made the famous Lancaster aircraft used in bombing runs during WW2).

We all stood there in silence as she flew across the runway line at low altitude just feet away from us. The noise pounding through our bodies as she passed us and started to turn on her journey northwards followed by the distinctive black exhaust smoke. A few seconds later, she was gone and the airfield fell silent once again.

We waited around whilst the many people made their way back to their cars and I looked back through some of the images I had taken. Unfortunately some didn’t show the aircraft because it is difficult to take images and track at the same time, especially when taking multiple images without releasing your finger from the button. There were a few gaps in the images where I had released my finger momentarily to allow the images to be saved to the memory card (which took several seconds).

Well, it was worth the drive out there and worth the wait we had to see her possibly for the last time. My friend actually liked seeing her fly, despite getting very bored by me talking about aircraft and the Vulcan.

So, what to do now? It was only 2pm and we still had quite a few hours to do things before I would set off to return home.

I decided that it would be nice to go for a drive and visit some of the places I had spent time at when I was in my teens doing my Duke of Edinburgh’s award.

We set off from the airport and started driving south. After a few miles we got stuck in traffic but were still talking about seeing the Vulcan and how it was a shame that after October 30th, she will no longer grace the skies. We also talked about places to visit and how we were going to be driving across the moors on a lovely autumnal day.

The first place we visited was a youth hostel I had spent many a weekend at. It was a converted mill right on the edge of the moors in a small village.

Next, after driving around the village and looking at some of the places I had walked to, we set off over the moors on the single track roads. Now, the distance between the 2 places was small (about 12 miles) but because of the roads, it would take quite a while because they are narrow and twisting in places.

Once over the moors we stopped at the side of the road to admire the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey. A beautiful abbey that now lays in ruins, much like most of the other abbeys in England.

We then continued driving around the area and I decided to visit something I have heard about but never visited. 

Just on the edge of the national park is a horse carved into the sandstone of the hillside and covered with limestone. This is the white horse of Kilburn. I have never visited or seen the lovely white horse and I have to say, it is beautiful. It is visible for miles around and has been on the hillside for over 150 years. 

Next, it was time to eat. My friend needed something to eat so we stopped by a local market town. I know this town well as it was used as a base for my DofE (Duke of Edinburgh) award. I knew of a chip shop that has great reviews and so I recommended that my friend try them out whilst I bought food from the little Co-op in the town (I didn’t end up eating the items I had bought). The town was busy but we both managed to control our anxiety. We had a little drive around the town and we also decided that one day, we would walk from the town to Rievaulx Abbey and back just to get us out and in the fresh, country air. 

After this, we headed back towards my friends town and stopped off in another market town to see the castle there. Unfortunately, the castle was closed so we couldn’t see it but one day, we will go see it. We carried on driving back towards her home town and again pulled over to take some photos of the scenery and then we drove to the supermarket so I could get a snack and something to drink. 

We then drove around the town and went to a little seaside village just a few miles away to look out to sea. Then we went back to her parents house so I could return the camera and show my photos off.

Now, here’s the thing. For the first time since I have been meeting my friend, I went into her parents house. I normally stay outside but I used this as an opportunity to challenge my ocd and go into houses. We stayed for a while and chatted about our day, showed off the photos and then I took her home.

I went into her home for the second time to say goodbye and use the loo (again, something I can’t do at other peoples homes). She showed me her hamsters (all very cute) and let them play for a while whilst we talked.

I then said goodbye and set off on my 90 mile, 2 hour journey home. By this time it was dark but I was able to manage the drive home (a lot of it is dual carriageway and motorway so it is quicker). I was able to manage the drive home because now I am used to travelling the route so it makes it easier and the anxiety of travelling on strange roads is less, especially at night. 

It was a very long day but it was enjoyable for both of us. We don’t normally get out at this time of year but, we both know that we wouldn’t put each other at risk (contamination wise) so we were ok. 

I will leave you with some of the photos from the day.

The Vulcan Bomber on approach

The Vulcan Bomber on approach with smoke trail

The Vulcan bomber on approach with smoke trail

The Vulcan bomber on approach with smoke trail

The underside of the Vulcan with her distinctive delta wing shape

The underside of the Vulcan with her distinctive delta wing shape

The Vulcan banking away to continue on her farewell tour

The Vulcan banking away to continue on her farewell tour

A close up of the Vulcan banking away as she continues north on her farewell tour

A close up of the Vulcan banking away as she continues north on her farewell tour

Some moorland scenery

Some moorland scenery

Some more moorland scenery

Some more moorland scenery

The beautiful ruins of Rievaulx Abbey

The beautiful ruins of Rievaulx Abbey

The White Horse of Kilburn carved into the hillside

The White Horse of Kilburn carved into the hillside

The hole of Horcum on the moors between Pickering and Whitby

The hole of Horcum on the moors between Pickering and Whitby

Looking towards Whitby from the moors

Looking towards Whitby from the moors

Thanks for reading and I look forward to writing more about some adventures I have soon (as well as other updates on mental health).


Nick

A big adventure

I forgot to post these a few weeks ago so I’ll post them now as two separate posts. 

As some of you know from my last blog post I am now driving again and able to go out to places. I have finally been able to meet a friend who I have been talking to for 2 years after meeting her in my OCD facebook group. We both have similar mental health issues and both have emetophobia and contamination based OCD. 

I have visited her a few times now and we usually stayed around her local area. 

On the 2nd September we decided to go further out and go to a museum to see some aircraft because of my interest in aviation. 

Now, my friend doesn’t really like me talking about aircraft but, despite this, she actually enjoyed visiting the museum, seeing the collections of aircraft and also asking me questions about them. 

We both don’t like going to busy places and prefer to be outdoors away from people to minimise any risk of contamination, especially at this time of year. Luckily most of the museum exhibits are displayed outdoors as some of them still run but cannot fly and some are being carefully restored by volunteers. 

We had an enjoyable time at the museum and I actually sat in 2 cockpits (no longer attached to the aircraft) despite others having been in them a few moments before me. My friend also sat in one aircraft despite it being in an enclosed space (luckily there was only me and her in there as we waited for people to come out). 

After visiting this museum, it was still early in the day so we decided to drive 20 miles away to another museum which was a former POW camp from the second world war. 

This museum is more enclosed than the air museum as the exhibits are in the old dorm huts from the camp. Some of them have recreations of things in them including streets, destroyed houses and submarines and they are quite dark. Despite this, we still decided to carry on and go.

Now I can deal with things like that (dark and noisy) but my friend has some difficulty. A few times during the visit she started panicking and I was able to calm her down and I even managed to get her through some of the dark, smokey ones. I basically let her grab my arms and told her to keep hold of me. I kept reassuring her that she was safe and she was with me and that nothing would happen. 

I was able to calm her down and she did actually enjoy seeing some of the displays and learning about them

The museum was quite busy and we did have to hurry through some of the huts so that we didn’t get so close to other people as we both don’t like busy places (as mentioned before).
There was a bit of an incident between us whilst at the museum but we were both able to carry on after having a bit of time to ourselves to calm down. 
I was able to calm down after thinking about the situation and understanding things from her point of view. 

The final place we were going to visit was a corn (maize) maze which was back near the air museum. 

We drove back towards the museum and got into the car park of the maze. Unfortunately we were 10 minutes late for the final entry time so we couldn’t go in. This was a shame because it was laid out like an aircraft from one of my favourite childhood TV shows, Thunderbirds (it was Thunderbird 2).

Feeling a little disappointed, we headed back towards her town. It was then a quick decision to go visit a local village that was used as part of a long running TV series called Heartbeat. 

Whilst driving down the narrow moorland road towards the village, I noticed steam in the distance. There is a preserved railway that runs across the moors and I was lucky to get a glimpse of a restored steam locomotive. A big blue train called “The Sir Nigel Gresley”, an LNER class A4 Pacific steam train (restored) which is the same type as the word record holder “Mallard”

After this, we drove on through the village and a few others, then headed back to her house. 

We said goodbye and I set off home after having a long but good day out. 

In my next blog, I will be talking about another big adventure that we have been on more recently.

I will leave you with a few photos I took during the day.

A replica of a Mk1a Supermarine Spitfire aircraft on display at the museum

A replica of a Mk1a Supermarine Spitfire aircraft on display at the museum

A Tornado aircraft on display at the air museum

A Tornado aircraft on display at the air museum

An English Electric Lightning jet on display at the air museum

An English Electric Lightning jet on display at the air museum

A Jet Provost aircraft on display at the air museum.  I sat in the cockpit of an aircraft of this type

A Jet Provost aircraft on display at the air museum.
I sat in the cockpit of an aircraft of this type

A De Havilland Vampire T.11 aircraft

A De Havilland Vampire T.11 aircraft

A Douglas Dakota (C-47) on display at the air museum.  This aircraft is under restoration and visitors can enter the rear and look around

A Douglas Dakota (C-47) on display at the air museum.
This aircraft is under restoration and visitors can enter the rear and look around

XL231 (Lusty Lindy) A Handley Page Victor bomber used during the cold war and part of the UK's V-Force nuclear deterent

XL231 (Lusty Lindy) A Handley Page Victor bomber used during the cold war and part of the UK’s V-Force nuclear deterrent

A V1 (Doodlebug) rocket used by the Germans in WW2 on display at the POW camp museum

A V1 (Doodlebug) rocket used by the Germans in WW2 on display at the POW camp museum

During WW2, road signs were removed to confuse any enemy spies or invaders

During WW2, road signs were removed to confuse any enemy spies or invaders (on display at the POW museum)

The restored A4 Pacific locomotive named "The Sir Nigel Gresley" used on the NYMR

The restored A4 Pacific locomotive named “The Sir Nigel Gresley” being used on the NYMR

Thank you for reading and keep looking out for my next post about another big adventure.

Nick

A very good day and a dream achieved

Hi everyone. This will be a long post and might bore some of you as it is talking about aircraft.

I just wanted to share something very special with you all.
Some of you may have read my blog post a few days ago regarding exposures.
Well, it all worked out today and for the first time in years, I ventured away from my normal areas and went to see something very special. I have wanted to be able to do this and see this for a long time and yesterday (6/6/15), it finally happened.

At 10am I left my flat and picked up my nephew. I stayed and chatted for a bit and then I then drove (with my nephew in the car) for over an hour to an airport, pulled over on the side of the road at the bottom of the runway and stepped out to the perimeter fence.

There was a fair few people there waiting for the departure of an iconic British built aircraft which had been restored to flight over several years. Unfortunately at the end of summer, this aircraft will never fly again and will become a museum piece at the airport. There are other Vulcan aircraft on display at various museums but none of them are airworthy and cannot fly. 

I’ve never been able to see or hear this aircraft fly because I haven’t had transport to get to airshows and also with the contamination issues of being around people who I don’t know. Yesterday I got my chance. I put my issues with contamination around others aside and joined these people at the bottom of the runway, standing there for about 40 minutes waiting for take off. I even chatted with some of them about the aircraft.

I was finally able to see the Avro Vulcan bomber (XH558) take flight from her home base (now a commercial airport). I filmed the take-off and even hung around for another few hours to watch and film her land. I did move to another position for the landing as she was landing into the wind to help braking.

It was a fantastic day and well worth putting my issues aside and I met some lovely people, all Vulcan and aircraft enthusiasts (I guess you can call us plane spotters). I’m now planning more trips out to see her fly (as long as I have someone with me) and I know on other days when she is doing her displays, there will be many more people around me. My ultimate goal this year is to actually go to a full airshow, see the displays and the many aircraft on offer but, the Vulcan will always be my favourite aircraft with her unique design that could have influenced the design and building of Concorde (delta wing shape).

Most of you know that I like aircraft and build plastic models of them but this is a totally new and different experience for me. Being honest here, I got a totally new feeling being there at the end of the windswept runway, hearing the howl of the engines and having the aircraft fly directly over my head.

I think today has not only helped with exposures for my ocd but has also helped my borderline personality disorder too. I haven’t felt like this for a long time and the buzz of this won’t wear off anytime soon. I have achieved one of my goals, a goal that I set myself when I initially saw the Vulcan sat in a hangar being restored 8 years ago (before the major mental health issues) when I was working. The goal then shifted when I found out that she was flying again but the ocd had taken hold of my life and I was unable to go anywhere. Until this year, the goal to see her fly was a long term thing but after finding out that 2015 was her last ever flying season, I knew I had to do something about it so that I could achieve the target and see this fantastic, iconic plane.

I just want to say a few things to you all now.
My contamination issues and anxiety levels were still very high during the day but I pushed through them.
I also want to add that by doing exposures at my own pace, I can control the anxiety. The ocd will always be part of my life but, with the controlled exposures, it becomes easier and I’m already planning my next big adventure.
I also want to tell you that, I only wiped my hands once during the day with my wipes and I didn’t shower when I got home like I would normally do. I just washed my hands a few times, got changed and continued the evening as if I’d never been out.

I think I’ve bored you enough now but for those of you who are interested, I have posted some videos on YouTube and I will link them here (3 in total)

A few very big exposures for my OCD

Well, it’s been a long time since I posted an update here and I wanted my first post to be a positive one.

Some of you will know that I rely heavily on my family to help out with things (transport, shopping etc). A few months ago I decided to start saving up for a car. Now, I’ve wanted to get back behind the wheel for a long time, but I just haven’t had the money. 

So, after a few months of saving, I started looking round at used cars. I saw a few advertised and took an interest.

On the 17th May, I asked my foster mum if she’d be available to take me to a few places to look at some cars. She agreed to help me look and we met up.

When we got to the car place, I went in to find out about the car I was interested in. This car place wasn’t a dealer but a large showroom trader (cars bought cheaply at auctions and sold on).
After a while of looking around at cars, we decided to leave. The place was not nice looking and most of the cars looked like they were ready for the scrapheap, not the road. Most were un-valeted but I still looked around at them. 

So, looking at the cars in this place was a big exposure for me but there was also the fact that my foster mum had told me that she wasn’t feeling too great (she told me not long after I got into the car to drive to the car place). I decided to ignore the thoughts going round in my head and carry on anyway. 

Now, onto my second big exposure of the month (again this involves vehicles).

Yesterday (4/6/15) I went to look at another car that was local. I went with my foster mum again (as she is my transport).

We got there and had a look at the car inside and out. There were a few scratches on the paintwork but for the age of the car, you have to expect a few cosmetic issues. I even shook the guys hand when we met. 

Anyway, I got in the car and actually drove it with the trader (my foster mum stayed at the trader’s yard). Normally, I never get in a car with anyone, especially someone who I have only just met, but I wanted to see if the car was right for me. 

So, big exposure there with not only driving the car but with having someone completely unknown sat next to me. 

After driving the car, I decided I liked it and that I’d buy it. This meant getting back in the car and driving to the bank to pay him. So, I even went in the bank (something I don’t normally do).

I drove the car back to his yard and sorted the paperwork out. This also meant that I was touching paper and also pens that others had used. 

So, I’m now the owner of a vehicle, albeit a cheap one. 

After I’d sorted the paperwork, vehicle tax and insurance, I drove to pick up my nephew (it was only a few minutes away from the car place). 

Here comes another exposure. I normally wouldn’t have anyone in the car but as I’d already been in the car with the trader, I thought I might as well let my nephew come in it with me. Plus, he could help me with fitting a radio and subwoofer in the boot. 

Before fitting those items, I needed to go to the petrol station and the post office to renew my photocard driving licence. I drove to the petrol station and without even thinking, picked up the nozzle and put some petrol in the car without using gloves or wipes. Then I drove to the post office and left my nephew sitting in the car whilst I went in.

Another exposure here as I had to stand in a photobooth to have my picture taken and I also had to use a digital pen for my signature. I got all that done and my licence was sent to the driving licence agency (DVLA).

Next, I drove to Halfords to select a new radio/stereo system for the car (I wanted one with bluetooth and USB compatibility). Luckily the store was quiet and the radio I wanted was in stock. 

I drove home and installed the radio and subwoofer. 

After this, I decided to go for a drive and took my nephew home so he could get a lighter (he smokes and I don’t as I use an electronic one now). I ended up picking his girlfriend up too and we drove around for a few hours. 

Whilst we were out and about, I went to visit my mum. For the first time since December 2013, I went to her house (she normally comes to see me with my sister and we go to my foster mums).

I was out in the car for over 6 hours in total yesterday and, I only wiped my hands 3 times in total using the medical grade wipes I buy every month. I didn’t even use my specialist cleaning spray in the car so it was one big exposure day yesterday.

Obviously when I got home, I showered but that was because yesterday was quite warm. 

For the first time in almost 4 and a half years, I was driving again and, it felt good. Having this car now means that I will be less reliant on family members to help me do things like shopping. I can gradually build myself up to going to the supermarket alone (it will be early morning or late night though). It also means that I can get myself back out into the countryside and start walking again, I can go to places to photograph clouds and the weather and, I can go visit people including one friend I have never met but talk to very regularly.

I did make 1 big error yesterday, which I guess I can class as another exposure. 
Some of you know that I like to check that my doors are locked multiple times before leaving the flat. Unfortunately, yesterday afternoon when leaving to go to my nephews house (after fitting the stereo etc), I didn’t check that I’d locked the flat door. When I got home 4 hours later, I found my door was wide open and unlocked (big oops). Luckily, nothing was stolen. I guess I’m lucky because my door is hidden away from normal view so no-one knows that it exists. My flat looks just like a house from the road and my door is hidden away from view. I think that the excitement of having some freedom was partly to blame for me failing to check the door was locked before leaving home.

So, a very eventful day and full of exposures too. Sometimes I guess excitement pushes the ocd thoughts to the back of your mind, especially when it is something that you really want to do and have dreamed about for years.

Thanks for reading and I hope that this new era of freedom will help me control my ocd and also show that with some effort, progress can be made towards a life that is relatively free from ocd. 

Take care of yourselves and remember the words of one UK supermarket
                               “Every little helps”

Nick

Achievements and downs this last month

This post will be split into 2 halves. The first half will be about my achievements so far this year (green) and the second half will be about my downs (red) and will be possibly triggering for some readers.

So, the achievements and the good points to start with.

Earlier this month (6th February) I decided to challenge my OCD again and introduce another trigger food for me. As most of you know I have trouble eating products containing meat and normally have meat substitutes such as Quorn.
On the 6th February I decided I wanted to have pizza for my tea (dinner to those of you outside the UK). I went to the local shop (small so not much selection) and was going to get either my usual 4 cheese or ham and pineapple pizzas (2 small pie like pizzas). Unfortunately these were unavailable and my only option was pepperoni. I have, in recent years, eaten Pepperami (a brand of snack in the UK) and thought that because I had eaten those before that I would try the pepperoni pizzas.
When I got home I did my usual decontamination routine and then put the oven on to prepare the pizzas.

Well, I actually did 2 things to challenge my OCD here. The first was to actually cook these pizzas. The second was that I managed to cut down my finger food handwash routine. Instead of the usual 10x then dry, 10x then dry, 10x then dry and use an antiviral wipe I did this instead.
I washed my hands 10x like usual and then dried them and then the second part I cut down to 8x then dried and followed up with an antiviral wipe (that’s 12 times less than I normally do).
So, after doing the new routine I ate the pizzas and I must say that I actually enjoyed them. I’m pleased to say that since then, I’ve had another 3 boxes of them (so that’s 8 in total from 4 boxes).
I’ve also got another positive point about my handwashing routine here. Since cutting down the routine above (18 washes), I’ve cut down by a further 2 washes to 16. I now wash 8x and dry and then do another 8x and dry but still followed by the use of an antiviral wipe.

So, onto the next set of achievements over my OCD.

In this last week (since Tuesday 17th February) I have seen family members 3 times and been in the house 3 times too.
The first time was Tuesday when my sister and my mum were coming over to visit my foster mum. This meant going to my foster mums house and seeing them.
I went and was there for about 3-3.5 hours and it was nice. I still haven’t been able to pluck up the courage to have a cuppa there yet though, despite being asked and being reassured by my foster mum.

The next morning (Wednesday 18th February) I received a text message from my foster mum saying that my foster dads new mobility scooter had arrived and could I go and help build it up.
I called up my foster mum when I woke up and checked the message and said that I would be there in about an hour.
Now, I don’t have much experience building mobility scooters but I went anyway and took my own tools (spanners, screwdrivers etc) and also a few pairs of gloves (medical grade disposable ones) and my antibacterial/antiviral spray.
I managed to build the scooter in about an hour and then put the batteries on charge hoping that after a few hours, my foster dad could have a quick go on it on the driveway.
Well, that didn’t happen as the batteries needed at least 8 hours to charge before use. I didn’t let that phase me and sat at the house watching TV and talking to my foster mum and dad.
I was at the house for at least 6 hours and it was quite pleasant really. It has been a long time since I spent so much time with them. I usually only see them for a few minutes at a time when they deliver some shopping for me.

There was a third time this week when I saw family members too.
On Friday (20th February) I had saved up enough money to buy myself a new TV for my living area. I messaged my foster mum asking if there was any chance that they could run me to the store and pick it up. My foster mum was busy babysitting but my foster dad was taking my niece (15) to town to see friends so he could take me down after.
So, I was given a time to be at my foster mums house and I went round. At this point I found out that my foster mum was babysitting my youngest nephew (14/15 months) at the house for the afternoon whilst his eldest brother had a birthday party for his 5th birthday (the middle child was also attending the party). I was ok with that and whilst I was waiting to be taken to the shop, my foster sister arrived with my nephew and put him in his pram/pushchair to sleep. She then went home and my foster mum then came back.
At this point my foster dad was taking my niece to town and so we could go together to save 2 journeys and also save fuel. Normally I can’t get in a car with anyone other that my foster mum and dad, but, because I was going to collect my new TV, I pushed through the anxiety and got in the car (plus, it’s school half term so risk is minimal anyway).
After dropping my niece off and collecting the TV, we returned to my foster mums house. My nephew was still asleep at this point so I went into the house again and sat talking.
Then, my nephew woke up and was put in his high chair to watch TV and have a few biscuits. Normally, I can’t be around children because I fear that I will get ill. This time I pushed though it and was sat in the same room as him. I feel proud that I did this because I have never met him. I have to say, he’s very lively but, he’s so lovely too.

One more OCD victory/small step I should mention. My washing up routine has changed and has become slightly quicker as my kettle boils faster. Also, I no longer wash each item 10 times. I’ve managed to reduce this to 8 times for each item. I am still scalding items before use though using boiling kettle water.

So, there’s a few of my victories over OCD so far in 2015.

Now I have to discuss a few bad points and downs for this last few weeks. This part does contain a trigger warning.

Recently, I have been feeling very low and alone and I’ve even left my twitter account twice because I felt like I wasn’t getting supported enough and that no one actually replied when I was in distress.
I think that this is a common theme with my BPD as it comes up time and time again.
I’ve also been feeling like a failure recently and that I let my family down because I’m unable to work due to the severity of the ocd and also now with the BPD and ever changing moods.
I’ve also been feeling rather left out in the OCD community recently too. I feel like when events are happening or plans are being made for meet-ups, I’m left out. Being honest here, that makes the BPD flare up and again it makes me feel unwanted and unwelcomed.
I also feel like since I was diagnosed with BPD, people have backed away from me and no longer want to talk to me. I feel like having BPD has changed people’s attitude towards me and that because of the diagnosis, they don’t want to be my friends anymore.

The above brings me to another point. Last week I unfortunately ended my 8 months free of self harm. I had reached a point where I just couldn’t cope with my thoughts anymore and I had to release. Unfortunately my normal coping methods weren’t working (my model building, listening to calming music, watching TV or playing on the playstation).
Now, I know people will often say that self harmers only do it for attention. I rarely post about or tell people about when I self harm and I don’t even tell people I trust because I fear I will be labelled as an attention seeker. Believe me, I’m not an attention seeker. I do everything I can to hide my self harm (even from family).
I don’t want to sound silly here but in a way, my ocd prevents me from harming badly. I fear that if I do harm badly, it will result in a visit to the A&E department (ER to others). My OCD wouldn’t be able to cope with going to hospital and being around other, sick people because of the contamination and emetophobia. I also wouldn’t be able to take myself to the A&E so it would require paramedics to come and treat me at home (I can’t go to hospitals or doctors surgeries). Having paramedics come treat me at home would be just as bad, if not worse, for my OCD because then my home would be contaminated too.

Sorry for the last part, I just needed to get this off my chest. I’m hoping that I can be more positive in future posts.

Thank you for reading and take care of yourselves.

Nick (OCDsuffererUK)