Ramblings

I am definitely in recovery as I am starting to sleep longer – for the past year I have been surviving on 4 hours sleep a night, which everyone will tell you is not enough, however my body clock seemed determined that I would wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning and that was all there was to it.

I functioned fine, or so I thought. Then, last summer, 4 hours became less and one day, I went to work with no hours sleep and that’s when my psychosis became full blown.

I realise now I stayed in psychosis for quite a while last summer. I was only made aware recently of some of my actions which were appalling.

I don’t want to remember all I did. It fills me with shame.

I now find myself in a few situations that are tough to deal with; my return to work the hardest.

I am desperate to return see but my return is being delayed.

I am a little scared of returning to work truth be told, I am not sure if it is the aftermath of the psychosis, who I am or whether the effect of the depression but I am finding it hard being around people for long periods of time.

Reason being, I seem to be an outsider looking in to “normal” life.

I went out to lunch with my friend Miles today and I found myself looking at the people around me and trying to imagine their cosy life. You know, a life with no mental illness.

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I felt such an outsider, outcast doing this. I wish my life was simple. As simple as having lunch with a friend or a colleague.

I felt so alone.

It seems most people who have mental health issues have people around them, partners, families, to support them through their hard times.

Apart from a handful of contacts, I have no-one serious. It makes the journey that little, lot, tougher.

Sometimes though I wonder how the journey would feel if I had someone to help me cope with it. Would I feel guilt on top of the other negative emotions? Guilt of not being a different, happier person.

It’s funny, not a month ago, I felt happier than I had been in a long time. How do things go so wrong so quickly?

I am writing all this in the hope it will help me pull through this cycle.

Happy, a month ago.

I wonder where I will be a month from now…

 

Diagnosis

It’s time I accepted something isn’t right with me.

This past year has been amazing, up to July, when I lost the plot and suffered a couple of psychosis.

The diagnosis is Bipolar Type 1. Something I have fervently refused to accept since being back from Canada over five years ago now as I had never had any mental health issues up to then but I must face reality.

I have had six psychosis now since my husband left me and two depressions.

As I write, I am fighting another depression.

Things had been going good til my reality hit me: signed off work with long days of nothing to do, it soon drives you insane.

It did me.

On top of that, my new lover has been sectioned again, he can’t cope with the real world he said, and he was suicidal.

So he is now locked up an hour away from me and he is not fit for visitors. I don’t know what will happen to us.

Part of the depression is realising the damage I caused when I was in psychosis mode. The people I have upset, the relationships that have broken down. I am lucky work took me back as I sent some “interesting” emails to them during that time.

Being alone is weighing hard on me too. I realise I have no-one, no-one to help me in this journey called life. It’s really tough doing it alone.

Every day I am reaching out where I can but it doesn’t feel like it’s making a difference.

So BP1, what does that mean for me? How is my life going to be affected by this?

I am now taking anti-psychotic medication, via a jab every two weeks, should I be medicated for depression too? When does the darkness become too much that it needs medication? Can I even cope with life?

I don’t know what to do anymore. I let each day unfold, hoping it will be a better day but each night I am relieved when it is time to go to bed, another day over. Waiting for the day I will feel better.

Will it happen just like that? Will there be a day I wake up with a smile on my face again?

I had hoped never to experience depression again, I had hoped wrong.

depression

A Side Effect of Aloneness

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There really is no better entertainment than reality.

I have had a few “light bulb” moments in the past weeks that have enabled me to understand why living in the moment is a good idea. I think the biggest light bulb moment was to realise that the future doesn’t exist; at least, it will never exist as we imagine it to be in our mind so there is no point living there in your thoughts.

Since starting my introspection/contemplation journey, I have had many little experiences that made me understand this about The Future: I have got excited about future events such as gigs only to be disappointed by them, situations I might have worried about turning out just fine, and having great experiences from something I hadn’t expected to happen.

Enough of such experiences to realise thinking about the future is futile. Not saying you shouldn’t “plan” for it, but having any expectations about it is useless.

And the best way not to “live” in the future, or the past for that matter, is to be present in the moment. Not an easy task mind as your mind will try and take you wandering every opportunity it gets. But feasible.

The easiest way I have found to train myself to be present is by taking a walk. Which I do daily, either walking my friend’s dog or walking into town, mobile phone not present or out of easy reach and head up, and more and more without my mp3 player in my ears.

Soon after I start walking, my thoughts begin to dissipate and I notice the world around me more, the people I come across, whether I interact with them or not, the nature around me, the sky above my head, the sound of birds, wind, Life.

I become an observer and through observation, an experiencer of the reality I am witnessing.

As I become present, I am able to detach myself from whatever thoughts might have been preoccupying my mind and “realisations” become possible, enabling me to better “see” situations and thus have clearer understanding of them, less fogged by emotions. I think this is what they call mindfulness.

I also realised recently that being on my own makes it easier for me to be present. No-one to interfere or distract me from my direct experience. Not drinking helps too if you want to be a sharper observer.

Last night, I took a walk to a Comedy show and had the most entertaining evening. And it had nothing to do with the comedians: all the entertainment came from my interaction with some individuals and my observation of others. Priceless.

More and more recently I have felt lucky to be on my own as it renders me free to fully experience life on my very own terms.

They say that to thrive in life, you need a good social network. I disagree. “Others” create interferences in your self-enquiry.

By having people in your life, you are never truly free.

This idea that you need people in your life is also very dangerous: it puts pressure on people to think they are lacking if they don’t have a good bunch of friends or support network, some may even think that they are a failure, and thus making aloneness the biggest cause of depression.

I very recently came to the realisation that a problem shared isn’t a problem halved. It actually makes it a problem. The more you involve people in your “problems”, the more the problem exists.

I realised this following a work situation recently. We all heard the disturbing news that we are all on consultation due to a big restructure to save costs. Meaning all of our jobs will either change or disappear.

I got home that evening and briefly thought how a side effect of aloneness was that I had no-one to talk to about this whereas my colleagues would be going home to their family or partners and no doubt spend the night going over it with who ever is in their life.

As per my daily schedule, I took my friend’s dog, Theo, for my evening walk. By the time the walk ended, I had sorted it all out in my head and was back in the moment again. How many of my colleagues would have spent the evening, and the next one, and the next one, and the whole weekend and possibly their entire time from now on, talking about an imaginary future in their social environment I wondered. I felt so grateful my aloneness allowed me to quickly process the event and get back to the present, where I have so much fun :-).

Makes me wonder why people – and I used to be one of those – are so scared of aloneness when actually one of its major side effects is personal freedom, which apparently is the Holy Grail of existence…

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“Just a diagnosis”

So I have bipolar, it’s just a diagnosis. Only this illness has got me sectioned three times now. That’s pretty scary. 

After the first section, which really was two but I count it as one as I feel I was discharged too early the first time, with only 24 hours’ worth of medication and no way to get anymore as I was then literally homeless in Canada, my husband having washed his hands off me, I was in a bit of a daze, under shock and moved back to the UK to start my life again. I didn’t think much about what had happened, I was just eager to rebuild my life the best I could.

After the second sectioning last August, I was still on a high when I was discharged and picked life up where I had left it and all was going well.

Since the third one in February, everything has changed. Suddenly, I “crashed” from the high, got my insight back and realised what had been happening. I had lost the plot. So badly I was put in a mental health place and now I am left to deal with the damage, signed off work, no money coming in and not able to drive.

So yes, maybe Bipolar is just a diagnosis but it has broken my life so badly in the past 6 months that right now, it feels beyond repairs.

I found out yesterday that some of the medications I am taking can make you suicidal. Great.

I will carry on getting through each day the best I can, until my life either gets better or I can take it no more. That is all I can do.

Pondering on depression

Last time I suffered depression, when I moved back from Canada after my husband and I split, I had a job to go to every day and a dog to walk. I had a mate who would call for me every day too with his dog and we would walk the dogs together. I’d spend all weekends alone though with my dog, staring at my four walls.

I have since lost my dog, currently not working, have no driving licence, have suffered two manic episodes which ended in psychosis and was hospitalised twice for those in the past 6 months. Safe to say this depression will be harder to cope with than my previous one. Although this time, I have asked for meds much earlier than I did last time. I am still waiting for them to work, although I am unsure what they will do, plus I was told last time I took them they can bring on manic episodes too so to be careful with them.

My depressions seem different to those I hear or read about. I am still able to get out of bed and clean. I also try and get myself out of the house when I get the opportunity. I don’t spend all day sleeping, although I wish I did, but It’s the utter despair in my mind stops me sleeping all day. Maybe it’s not depression, maybe I am just really really down? The dark thoughts that enter my mind on occasions though tell me it’s something more…

Support, what support?

“Hang in there”, “You’ll pull through”, “be positive”, these are words I have heard often recently. I know people mean well of course, if only they knew what was going on in my mind.

Hanging I am, desperately trying to return to work, despite not having a driving licence, scared of returning after a 3 months long absence and whether I can still do the job I loved. But there seems to be a conspiracy against it. Today, I chased my psychiatrist’s office again to find out whether the report that says I am fit to return to work has been signed only to be told that it hadn’t. Oh he was so encouraging when I saw him on the 22 April, telling me “yep, you are fit to return to work, everything will be fine as long as you take your meds.”

Well, I am taking my meds, I am certainly not manic anymore, I have crashed and now suffering from what I can only assume is situational depression, for which I am taking medication too but waiting for the pills to work, and no sign of when I will go back to work yet.

I am not really sure how I am expected to keep it together under the circumstances really.

I received a text from a friend yesterday asking me how I was doing, I said I was feeling pretty low, she asked if I had spoken to someone about it, concerned things were getting worse for me. I sent her a long text explaining there was no-one to talk to about it. She went silent and I haven’t heard from her since.

Everyday “normal” people aren’t mental health experts, they can’t be expected to know what to do to help. Gee, even the experts can’t even help you! When I was in hospital, I got no therapy or emotional help, all the nurses would do was baby sit us until the meds had worked and we were good enough to be sent back out in the big wide world. Sometimes though, I wish I was back there, being looked after, having my meals cooked for me and no responsibility. My life as I know it would be fucked of course, but hey, isn’t it already?

I am not feeling suicidal today for some reason, just emotionally numb going through the motion, what else can I do?

Thought just now, I am kinda glad I am single, the strain this would put on a relationship would be unbearable…

All getting too much

This morning I woke up to find my latch on the kitchen window broken. It snapped so it’s not repairable. Yet another thing to add to the list of things going wrong in my life. I don’t know what to do about it, it would no doubt cost a lot of money to sort out, money I haven’t got.

So I had a bath to try and chill. What am I going to do? If suicide is not an option, what are my other options? Sell the house I guess and move back to France, where I am from. My dad mentioned when I visited in April that he and my mum, now divorced, would help my return if I ever decided to go back.

I have lived in the UK some 24 years now, longer than I have lived in France. The thought of moving back fills me with anxiety, as my life is now firmly in the UK. But the simple truth is I just cannot cope here anymore.

Yes there has been some happy moments in the past 3 years since being back from Canada, but most were alcohol driven and the rest were what I now know to be manic episodes so now I am on medication, they won’t happen anymore.

The idea of selling my house also fills me with dread. I don’t know I can cope with the process which is quite stressful on its own.

This month I gave myself to be back on some kind of track isn’t looking too good.

This morning I deactivated my facebook account, I had re-enabled it on the 1st January after a 6 week break and enjoyed being back on at the start, especially when I became manic again, but lately it has depressed me more and more. Every time I logged on, I have felt more down, seeing other people’s happy lives, and yes I know not everyone is as happy as they make out to be on there but at least they can give the impression they are, I can’t even do that. I felt it best to close the account.

My world is getting smaller and smaller. I just cannot see a way out of the tunnel. I really don’t.

Morning anxiety

Doomed if I do doomed if I don’t.

I started to get ready as soon as I woke up and then finding myself ready with nothing to do was hard to bear. So I started to lay in bed for a while instead but then thoughts come and go in my head, as I am going over my situation.

I wake up feeling extremely anxious, so anxious even I get sick first thing in the morning. My new lodger witnessed this this morning and said I needed to tell the doctor. But what for? More medication? Surely the medication isn’t going to chase away the thoughts that go round in my head? 

What thoughts? Well let’s see, this morning I was looking back at my life and realised that I have never done well when I have lived alone. I had a long period of being single in my late 20s and I remember drinking every night, and smoking quite a lot of weed. When I see pictures of my flat at the time, it’s a wreck, there’s mess everywhere.

And so my thoughts this morning were what if I just can’t live alone, what if I cannot cope alone? 

My lodger said she was glad I didn’t live alone at the moment as she dreaded to think how I would be feeling. She also said she felt when I am back at work and I have my licence back I will be in a better place. I hope so.

Nearly three years ago, when I moved back to the UK from Canada after my husband and I split, I lived alone. And I experienced depression, for the first time in my life. I was no longer drinking or smoking pot so my crutches were gone and I went down a spiral.

Three years on, I am still without crutches and still unable to cope properly. Now I have a new diagnostic to contend with too. Having Bipolar.

It sounds like a big deal and I need to talk about it to someone in the know. My current care co-ordinator is on holidays at the moment and so I have asked to see a different one. I need to know how bad this thing is, whether medication will make it all better.

I texted my old boss still working in the department yesterday to tell him the news. His text back was very nice, quite compassionate. It scared me a bit. It sounded like bipolar is a big deal. He talked about knowing your triggers. I don’t know what triggers are so I went on the net and searched for triggers for bipolar. Well, seems every life changing event is a trigger, divorce, death, birth, job loss, etc. 

I now know for sure my split with my husband was what brought on my first manic episode. What brought on the other two though I am unsure, I know shortly before both the American guy and I broke up. Guess I’d better stay away from relationships then if breakups are going to affect me this way. In any case, who wants a bipolar partner? 

What kind of life am I going to have? I know anxiety is fear of the unknown. And I shouldn’t look at the future, just take each day at the time at the moment. Please tell that to my mind first thing in the morning when I wake up and look at my new reality.

Depression sets in

This is it, I am back neck deep in depression.

Today all I could manage was to walk to the doctors, I had an appointment I couldn’t miss, for anti-depressants – which will take a good 10 days to work anyway – then a few hours later, hoovered the spare room ready for my lodger who is moving in on Sunday.

The rest of the time, I spent lying on the sofa, watching videos about bipolar, or about anxiety, napping, and drinking tea.

I saw the mood stabilisers I have been prescribed should be taken 3 times a day with or after food. I should be so lucky. I have eaten two little croissants today and that’s all I can manage. I haven’t been eating for a week now, apart from the occasional meal here and there when I get a bit of energy, yet, have lost no weight! (not that I weight myself, I can feel my clothes are still tight)

So earlier, I had a good cry, missing my dog and wishing I was with him, wherever he is. I thought about texting a friend, but decided against it.

Thing is there’s only so much you can put on friends when you feel like this. It’s not their business nor their jobs to cheer you up constantly. Plus, from my experiences with my psychosis, they would probably call the doctor saying I am suicidal and my life would sure be over. Would probably be brought in the mental health place again, no going back to work any time soon, no driving licence, whatever is left of my fighting spirit would definitely die.

The only person right now that is keeping me alive is my mother, strangely enough. She phones me daily, sometimes twice daily, and tries as best she can to help me move forward. I couldn’t do this to her.

If I get through this, maybe I should have her initial tattooed on the other inside wrist hey…

Mental Health – Depression

“Sometimes, a friendly chat is all that one needs to feel connected to the world.”

As I typed this last sentence on my previous blog entry, I realised that really, it is all anyone can ever give to people. For we are all ultimately in control of our lives, and how we react to our experiences.

I have been thinking about mental health and how I can help that cause, since my experiences with it gives me a good understanding of the issue.

I have been observing, thanks to the internet, what is happening in the world with regards to Mental Health and can see that people are starting to get it – only by facing yourself fully can you get out of mental health issues.

I fell on a great video the other day on Ted of a woman talking about her experience with “hearing voices”, and she put into words exactly everything I have realised about mental health issues, it was great to see – the best bit was to see over 1 million people had seen her video.

And so I don’t need to try and shake the world out of their belief mental health is to be treated with medication and shame. Other people are doing that, and they are doing a much better job than I could ever do.

However, there is one bit of mental health I really want to do my bit about – and that is depression. And ultimately, I see that out of all the mental illnesses, there is no “cure” as yet. Although there are many many books written on the subject – I know because I read quite a few when I was going through depression myself – and all are talking about a black dog taking over your life and learning to live with it so it doesn’t overtake your life anymore.

There are also many forums where people share their experiences in the hope it will help them – and whilst I agree it is great to realise you are not alone, I found it didn’t help me, the same ideas that I had read in the books were going around those forums, there was nothing new there.

This is the only mental illness I still fear for myself.

I had never experienced depression before I moved back to the UK, I was always quite a cheerful person in fact, especially when the circumstances were right – and to suddenly find myself plunged in the depth of despair was very traumatic for me, I tried as hard as I could not to be dragged down, anyway I could, did everything I knew was supposed to help, exercised, walked in nature, look at positive stuff, try to understand my depression etc, yet I was constantly being pulled from underneath and started to sink. To the point that I just wanted to die.

I have mentioned before, the only reason why I didn’t actually kill myself was thanks to my dog. I couldn’t find a way to do it while ensuring his safety. I even thought of taking him with me, but was worried what would happen if I failed my suicide and found I had killed him, or if I succeeded my attempt but he’d still be alive – who would rescue him then?

And so I got myself to the doctors and demanded medication, which my doctor had resisted giving me until then. It took a lot for me to do this as I am scared of medication – and the few people I knew in my life who had taken medication for depression told me being on it and coming off it was worse than the depression itself – so I was pretty desperate when I got myself to the doctors and said I needed help through medication and I wouldn’t take no for an answer.

And it worked, the new doctor I saw gave me a low dosage of anti-depressants and within weeks, the black cloud lifted. I came off the medication soon after that too, as I was conscious staying on it too long could be addictive. And I knew I would be fine, I just needed that stupid black cloud to go away.

Recently, two people in my life came off anti-depressants soon after meeting me.

One who isn’t in my life much, a girl I met via the Social Group I had created on Facebook and whom, to be honest, I have kept my distance from as she seemed very unstable. That group though seemed to help her take positive decisions in her life, and she has thanked me on occasions for creating it. She recently announced, clumsily, on facebook that she had decided to quit the meds and start living again. I shall try and keep informed how she is doing as she hasn’t really been in touch much since I left Facebook, but I am pleased she has decided to take control over her life again and I hope she is successful.

The other person is my new guy friend – I only found out when we met the second time that he was medicating for depression and he has since gradually stopped his medication.

I am trying to understand how people shift their perceptions that it enables them to decide to free themselves from depression – I know I couldn’t, despite all I was trying – and had to resort to medication.

The only thing that I can see is that maybe, all it takes is a friendly ear. An independent, no agenda friendly ear.

And looking back, this is what I missed when I was going through my depression. The rare people who were trying to help me had an agenda, they wanted me better. Whether it was my family, or the medical profession – I attended CBT sessions too – all wanted me better. And so the pressure they put on me made it all the harder for me, I felt I was failing them, and myself, by not being able to get better – and so I started to shut them off too. I was tired of hearing their own despair, in the case of my family – in their voice. In fact, I now realise the only person who made a difference to me in that time was my brother – I remember chatting with him one day explaining how bad I was feeling and he said “You’ll get there, I have faith in you – you can do it”.

And then there was my mate who lodged with me recently. He would come every night to walk Frodo and Sam with me during the week. No pressure, no heavy talking, no trying to help me, just there, and go for a walk with me. I have mentioned before, this was my only lifeline during that time.

So I am getting the picture that people with depression just really need someone or someones just to be there.

I know there is the Samaritans, and I did call them during that period once, but even they have an agenda, to prevent you from wanting to kill yourself. And so I really didn’t find it useful, they were interested in getting me out of my rut. Well, no-one could get me out of my rut at the time. Not even me. And that’s what scares me about depression, it really is like something takes over you and will push you down no matter what. And it touches a wide variety of people in this world, with no discrimination. Kids even get depressed! And animals too as I believe my dog did too when his lovely, happy world got turned upside down and he lost my husband, who he loved too and got stuck with me who wasn’t a fun person anymore.

I am realising that maybe the only people who can actually help you during your depression are those who just don’t care about it. 

I know when my new friend told me he had depression and he had been medicated for a long while through it, I instantly felt detached from him. I knew I couldn’t help him, and nor I wanted to. By then I had started my disconnection from people and depression was definitely something I wanted to leave well alone. I liked him, a lot, but I wasn’t going to get involved in that side of him.

And since, he has taken his own decisions about coming off medication and done his own thing, occasionally updating me on his progress, although I never ask these days. Yesterday, he told me he hadn’t taken his medication in over two weeks and made some joke about something else to which I responded “lol” – the fact that he hadn’t taken his medication for two weeks really registered nothing with me. Not even a well done. I don’t know how he feels about it, whether he was expecting me to say anything or congratulate him, but I just didn’t care truth be told.

Maybe that’s the answer to helping people through depression – it’s to just not care. I am not saying I don’t care about him, of course I do, and I want him to be happy – but I just don’t care how he does it. 

Maybe if people stopped putting so much pressure on people to get out of depression, maybe they will.