#TimeToChange – Revisited

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When I first suffered from mental health issues in the UK, back over two years ago, I joined the campaign “Time To Change” because I felt it was important to talk about mental illness to end the stigma, which is the group’s main mission.

When I checked out the website and the blogs though, I was fairly quickly put off.

I saw stories of people telling us how well they are coping with their mental health “illness”, some were “bipolar”, some had anxiety disorders – ALL seemed defined by their “illness” – that really put me off because at the time, and still to this day, I didn’t believe I was, or had, whatever term is PC these days, “Bipolar”.

I am sure to have spoken about this somewhere in this blog previously, but my diagnosis came five years ago, an hour after speaking to a psychiatrist, in full psychosis mode – although I had no clue I was as it was my first -, drugged on to the eyeball – from medication I was given the previous night when I was taken in/sectioned although again I had no clue I had been sectioned, to make me sleep.

SLEEP

Some four months after a very good friend of mine had killed someone, about three months after my husband had left me and about two months and 29 days after finding out he fancied my best friend instead and about two months after quitting alcohol and pot straight after over 20 years of abuse.

You could say I had had a lot going on in a short period of time that may have affected my stability somehow.

Oh and to top it all, I was literally homeless then too. My husband wanted me out of the house and the house I needed to move back to in a different country wasn’t vacated. In between houses and in between countries. In between life would summarise it well.

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The psychiatrist who examined me – I have yet to file my complaint against him and mark my words I will – asked me a very simple question:

“Do you know why you are here?”

The floodgate to my repressed emotions opened: I started to tell him all about the crap that had happened to me, since I was a child. I felt I had limited time to fit it all in so I was talking 12 to the dozen, ie, extremely fast. [I have since realised that what I do when I get excited and/or feel I have limited time to make an impression.]

After the hour, I sat back and relaxed, fully expecting some answers. How do I deal with this trauma, or this other one, how do I move on from this event or this other one – type of answers.

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His? “Clearly you have Bipolar”.

“Huh? What the hell? What? Huh?” were my first thoughts (my mind was pretty foggy don’t forget too).

My seconds were “Cool, so what is Bipolar then?”.

He wasn’t interested in replying, he had his diagnosis which gave him the green light to prescribe any old shit he felt like (and he did).

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So off I went on the internet finding out all I could about this “new” me.

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This was my very first experience of a psychosis. Since then I have had five psychosis and two depressions, fitting in nicely with the diagnosis (to be diagnosed you need two episodes of depression and at last three psychosis, although that may have changed since).

That psychiatrist was clearly a clairvoyant.

Anyway, back on the subject at hand, I eventually started to realise “The Truth” and decided I wasn’t bipolar. Too late though obviously, with my five psychosis, it will never wash.

My two depressions I am not too worried about because the first was due to going back to the UK to an empty house, two suitcases and a savings account in my name. Nothing else.

No income, no car, no insurance, no friends, no anything else. No dog too to start with, then a few weeks later a dog whose health had started deteriorating since the split, becoming more and more blind (and a liability).

No life in effect.

NOLIFE

The second was when I was signed off work for six months to a psychosis where I was sectioned,and realising I was getting no income from work sick pay (I hadn’t been permanent long enough, despite having worked there as a temp nearly three years), my driving licence had been suspended (making me stuck at home with no money), and I was suffering from a massive heartbreak (from a relationship that could be best described as friends with benefits and feelings).

I dare anyone to try either situations for size and tell me if they don’t suffer from some kind of depression too ;-).

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Time to Change being mainly focussed on the illness, I felt the site wasn’t for me. I wasn’t about to go brandishing banners saying “Bipolar rocks”.

Mental illness sucks – big time.

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Just go and visit a mental health ward and tell me what you think.

Just for the record, and in case this isn’t clear, those people in there are your siblings, or parents, or relative, or friend, or workmate. NORMAL people.

You may see them rock back and forth against a wall, or on the floor doing weird shit, crying in a corner somewhere, away from everyone. They might be unable to sit still or they might be staring at you blankly because they are unable to focus on what you are saying.

Worst of all, you may see their arms all stitched up after they cut themselves.

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The biggest tragedy of all is that one day,

you might not ever see them again.

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So no, I will not say having a mental illness rocks.

It sucks, it sucks big time – it can very well fuck up your life enough that you have no choice but live with it, because no-one wants you like that, no-one truly understands what you are going through – and most just shy away for fear of making things worse.

That’s what living with a label does for you.

I am Pascale, not a label.

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When a quarter of the youth suffers from mental health issues, we can no longer call it a label. More a way of life – and that is scary.

Whilst on the ward, and this is where I saw each and every behaviour I mentioned above by the way, I saw a display dedicated to Time To Change.

It seems Time To Change is changing in the right direction for me. I now really want to get involved: #lets-end-the-labelling.

The name of the people I mentioned I met above are:

Pam (So sorry I saw you where still “in position” when I came to visit),

Ray (so sorry you had a heart attack),

Lee (sorry I missed you my last visit, looking forward to catching up),

Simon (I saw one of your carers on the way to the hospital, I mentioned how much 70s music brings you back to earth, she seemed to take it in),

Pascale (crying in private is the best way to be if you don’t want to be diagnosed as being too emotional when you are sad, the happiness though, spread that shit everywhere ;-)),

Andrew (I will save you I promise),

Matty (crazy adorable monkey despite all, I will send you a post card from Canada),

Jo (I want to experience your candle massages!),

Amanda (Amanda, the state of your arms the day I was discharged will forever be engraved in my mind, I love you so much girl!),

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Lisa (oh Lisa, I won’t forget you I promise),

Harvey (A great reminder of my friend Wade, thank you, I love you despite your toughness ;-)),

Trish (Sista’, sorry I missed you my last visit, hope you enjoy the CD I brought in for you),

Ema (so shocked to see you back in after we were both discharged last week!),

Yvonne (I can’t wait for you to get better to help me with the website),

Bill (missed you my last visit, hope you were discharged rather than hiding in your room),

Glen (so glad I caught you, you were amazing with enabling me to release the pressure),

John with an H, (you were out sorry I missed you),

Andrea (sorry I missed you, hope you keep spreading those wonderful hugs),

Emma (so glad I caught you, can’t wait to meet you in the outside world),

Roger – one day I will show you, it’s not about money or heritage, it’s about Love.

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Mental Health Revolution: Open Letter to Trustees

I am finding myself sectioned again. This is the letter I am going to give to all the people in charge of my “wellbeing”/”recovery”:

Open Letter to the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

My Name is Pascale Taylor and I am currently sectioned under Section 2 at Southgate, Wedgwood, Bury St Edmunds, a facility that comes under your remit.

From personal experience, observation and listening to the feedback of most Patients whose primary consultant has been Dr Michael, this is the style Dr Michael seems to have adopted to treat Patients under his care at Wedgwood – which is quite common in Mental Health Institutions, in the UK but also quite common Worldwide, from personal experience in Canada and accounts from the US model:

  • Diagnosis, in Doctor Michael’s case: on the whole Schizophrenia for males, Bipolar for females, often with side diagnoses, such as borderline/split personality disorder, disassociative disorder etc
  • Medication
  • Discharge
  • Sectioning again
  • Medication
  • Discharge
  • …. To Infinity and Beyond….. And Back Again.

This has resulted in Patients being discharged before their mental health “dysfunction” has been dealt with.

Dr Michael, as the Primary Consultant of Southgate, Wedgwood, is generally seen as the “Monster”  by Patients, someone who doesn’t listen – rather than the “Enabler” – as he tries to get you “bettersolely through Medication.

As a result, most Patients found at Wedgwood are serial “Offenders” and require to be sectioned over and over again and are unable to function in society as we know it, often claiming benefits too as they are unable to work due to their mental health issues and/or Medication Side Effects, costing society a lot of money paid through Taxes and funding for mental health is ever decreasing whilst mental health issues are increasing.

Quoted from “The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundation of a Theory of Personal Conduct” by Thomas S Szsz:

“the entire psychiatric enterprise hinges on [the notion] that human beings diagnosed as “mentally ill” have a brain disease that deprives them of free will”.

Dr Michael – and all Psychiatrists I have come across since experiencing mental health issues some five years ago following a Trauma I suffered then – appears to re-inforce this Notion: that Patients aren’t able to think for themselves. Which indeed, pumped full of Medication, they are mostly unable to do so and rely entirely on the Psychiatrist getting it right.

I believe most people with mental health issues have suffered a trauma left unresolved and their inability to get to the core issue(s), and/or dealt with, has resulted in repression of said trauma, causing shame, guilt and/or anger, which can result in “hearing voices”, disassociation (personality disorder), or being on an emotional rollercoaster (bipolar), extremely angry or, worse still, so depressed that people feel they have no options but take their own life to end the suffering, all of which has become uncontrollable enough that they need hospitalisation, or prison – some may say same difference as both result in loss of freedom.

My suggestion:

  • Get to the root of the core issue(s) – “Listen
  • Understand how the issue(s) has shaped/is shaping their lives – “Think/Analyse
  • Find a way to “de-programunwanted behaviour, using medication if necessary in the short term with a view to dealing with the core issue(s) and its (their) effect(s) in the long term – “Resolve

I believe Human Beings are made of Essence (core being) and Personality (life experiences/circumstances).

The goal of mental health care should be for Patients to understand what their essence is and how their personality has been shaped by their experiences and influences in life since children, with a view to bringing more of the Essence to the forefront and correct unhelpful behaviour from their Personality.

Influences come in all shape and sizes:

In early years, Influences will have come from parents/family (including family friends), school, friendships and later from their working environment/social life as well.

As a person grows, influences come from all sorts of environment the person choses to find themselves in, particularly, in this day and age, influences from TV, the media as a whole (including social media) and the information available on the internet, as well as friends, as it is drummed into us that to thrive one needs a big social network.

The bigger the social network, the bigger the influences are, and the more damaging this can be, providing many people whose standards one “needs to live up to.

A Patient needs to be guided to understand that as an adult, they and they only, have the choice over their environment.

I believe labelling someone with a mental illness is a sure way for Patients to believe they have no choice in how they conduct their lives and this is very damaging to their recovery – ie, they believe there is no recovery possible, only medication will help them and they often aren’t able to function properly in society and often live on its edge.

Taking my own example, last year around February 2015 time, I decided that I needed to deal with my issues once and for all after I had fallen into “bad habits” again: drinking and a total lack of self-respect.

Two books allowed me to start this journey whilst many others enabled me to carry on this self-discovery journey:

  • One called “Attached” which explained attachment issues in relationships, after which I realised that I had suffered attachment issues all my life steaming from childhood issues, being the middle child with two disabled brothers and the pressure I had been put under from my parents being the only “normal” (abled) child. As well as an unfortunate first sexual experience at aged 12.

I was also quite a boisterous child and this “over protectionresulted in my mother and grandparents – who had a big hand in my care as my parents’ time was taken up looking after my two disabled brothers – being over protective over me, this in turn resulted in my cousins, who I spent a lot of time with on holidays in Morocco where I spent most, if not all, my childhood vacations as my grandparents lived there, resenting me or keeping me at a distance for fear of reprisal if something was to happen to me.

  • The other called “You Are Not So Smart”, a book on learned behaviour and biases every human being “suffers” from.

In that book, I found myself in so many biases it started a quest to understand who I was – “Know Thyself”- through self-inspection, observation and then introducing new positive habits to change my core “Personality”.

From Attached, I started the process of detaching myself from as much as I could in my personal life to give myself space to re-discover my core “personality”.

From You Are Not So Smart, I became aware of the automatic behaviour(s) I had acquired whilst being shaped by events outside of my control which resulted in the personality I had developed, and I started a quest to change myself as a result.

With those two realisations, I started an intense period of self-study which resulted in quitting alcohol in December 2015, out of choice rather than need, as I had realised I had used alcohol to “escape myself” for over 25 years.

In short: I hadn’t liked who I had become and used alcohol in order to function with this dislike of my persona.

Through this self-study, I found my true Essence (or core values) and worked on bringing them to the forefront.

Best of all, I started to take personal responsibility for the human I had become and corrected as much of the learned behaviour I was able to, particularly away from “friendlyinfluences I had allowed in my adult life, as well as family influences, which were the basis of the Personality I had developed throughout my childhood/teens and also adulthood.

I tried and tested various methods too, finding the ones which worked best for me.

Example: I had had weight issues since my teens and decided to try and find a way to resolve this and I decided I needed to try and eat healthier food and exercise more and so I introduced a lifestyle change in my diet and exercise regime which resulted in losing 2.5 stones in a little over a year.

Unfortunately finding myself sectioned, I found I have put on four kilos so far through comfort eating. I was 56 kilos, close to my target weight, when I arrived at Wedgwood, two weeks later I now weigh 60 kilos due to unhealthy eating habit via comfort eating and lack of exercise due to being restricted in the amount of exercise I can do as I didn’t have the right shoes to exercise, due to being tricked into being sectioned – which I am addressing via the  and Care Quality Commission (CQC), a UK company which protects the rights and interests of people who are detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act, nor do I have the freedom to go for walks on a regular basis, something I have found works well for me in the “outside” world, following a no explanation abrupt restrictions on my leave, which were luckily recently lifted.

I am also concerned about my diabetes as the diet I had adopted at home resulted in lowering the level of diabetes to below the diagnosis level 7 consistently over the past year, following two checks in the past six months.

Here, with the comfort eating and lack of freedom to exercise, I fear the rate is going to increase and so I have to try to be extremely self-disciplined in my eating habits, which is proven to be hard due to my circumstances: being sectioned under a regime I don’t agree with and surrounded by Patients each with varying degrees of mental health issues.

Lack of freedom is a major issue for me being in Wedgwood as I process my thinking best at night (I started this letter at 1:30 am and it is now 4:00 am), as I find this time of day (night) more peaceful and quiet.

Unfortunately at Wedgwood, night becomes a time when most freedom is restricted, ie, I cannot make myself tea and need to rely on staff to keep me “watered”. I am also unable to smoke freely as the courtyard is normally out of bound at this time.

Smoking helps me process my thinking by taking a break from it, some kind of mindfulness best achieved when no-one else is around so it allows for little distractions.

Recently there was also talk that access to the Ward laptop, that I use to write my thoughts on as I didn’t bring any electronic devices with me apart from my kindle (to read and listen to saved music), was going to be restricted to be used only between 7:00 am to 10:00 pm.

I believe, quoting The Myth of Mental Illness: “hospitals are like prisons, not hospitals; and that involuntary mental hospitalisation is a type of imprisonment, not medical care; and that coercive psychiatrists function as judges and failers, not healers”. Again a model Dr Michael and the staff, or at least the ward manager, seem to have adopted here.

The quote continues to say “I suggested that we view and understand “mental illnesses” and psychiatric responses to them as matters of law and rhetoric, not matters of medicine or science.”

Medication having a purpose to “correct the brain chemistry”, subject we still know very little about, particularly when it comes to Consciousness, I am very reticent to be pumped full of medication, which Dr Michael has imposed on me since I have come here, even injecting me with medication not recommended for diabetics.

Let’s also not forget not so long ago, lobotomy was used to correct the brain’s perceived imperfection(s). Now we could say the equivalent is ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy), which scares me as much if not more than lobotomy.

All this is messing with the brain, an extremely powerful organ that we still know very little about, despite science’s progress to understand its functionality in what makes us “human”.

I am a great believer the answer to one’s mental health dysfunction, as I prefer to call it, lies within.

To quote from The Myth of Mental Illness again, Shakespeare had a similar view.

Referring to a dialog in MacBeth with a Doctor:

Shakespeare’s insight that the mad person “must minister to himself” is at once profound and obvious- profound because witnessing suffering calls forth in us the impulse to help, “to do somethingfor or to the sufferer, yet also obvious because understanding Lady MacBeth’s suffering as a consequence of internal rhetoric (the “voice” of conscience, imagination, “Hallucination”), the remedy must be internal rhetoric (self-conversation, “internal ministry”).”

It is therefore very difficult for psychiatrists to truly understand what is going on in someone’s Psyche, unless the psychiatrist himself has experienced similar mental health dysfunctions.

Psychiatry seems too focussed on medication and not enough on understanding what brought the Patient to the state he/she find themselves in.

of the observer’s construction and definition of the behaviour of the persons he [the psychiatrist/staff in a mental health institution] observes as a medically disabled individuals [patients] needing medical treatment.”

I believe this is wrong, and I am not alone in this thinking.

The author of the book I am quoting from states: “[…] it taught me, at an early age, that being wrong can be dangerous, but being right when society regards the majority’s falsewood as truth, could be fatal”.

This is the exact situation I am finding myself in, totally at the Mercy of a psychiatrist whose techniques (medication) I disagree with, despite the fact that I have proven my techniques work better.

Again, I believe one can only get better by self-enquiry and starting the process – which doesn’t bring overnight results and is an ongoing process – of correcting unwanted, detrimental behaviour to live a more fulfilling, balanced life.

The book I am quoting from agrees:

“Persons said to have mental diseases, on the other hand, have reasons for their actions that must be understood; they cannot be treated or cured by drugs or other medical interventions, but may be helped to help themselves over the obstacles they face.”

Not something Dr Michael seems to understand and/or agree with as his main purpose appears to be Medication.

This unfortunately seems to be endorsed by society because it sanctions easysolutions” for problem individuals.

So I am finding myself going against the grain of the accepted psychiatry model and since Dr Michael is my Primary Consultant, I cannot see how working with him can help me and, as I am under Section, I find myself completely at his Mercy.

A very unsettling and scary thought for obvious reason: my freedom depends entirely on his say so, so does my brain.

 

Psychosis

I have been a bit quiet of late. The reason for this is I had a psychosis two weeks ago and was taken into care. I am now back home safe and sound, and still happy I am on the right path to living a full and happy life.

I am in fact grateful this happened as this is exactly what I suffered from last time I had stopped drinking completely, back in Canada two years ago, these episodes were what got me interested in Mental Illness.

I will probably talk a bit more about my psychosis and Mental Illness in general, now I have had two weeks living among peers who suffered from various mental health issues.

I have learned so much during that time, my head could be spinning if I hadn’t learnt to keep my thoughts under control, helped by an anti-psychotic medication, Olanzapine, albeit I am taking a really low dosage to help me sleep and slow down my thoughts.

I will post here the entry I wrote on Facebook to explain what had happened. Various people knew I was in hospital but not many knew why. I wanted to explain, from the safety of Facebook, exactly what happened to me, especially to work colleagues so they know before I return to work, probably in about two weeks time.

Writing this entry was a leap of faith for me, due to the Stigma attached to mental illness, however, I believe openness and honesty are the only way to break the barriers down. The responses I received proved me right:

I guess I’d better explain what happened to me a couple of weeks ago, as most of you will know I have been in hospital but not the reason why.

In short, I suffered from what people might call a Psychosis. For 48 hours, I wasn’t myself, at all.

Two weeks ago, on a Tuesday, as I woke up, something didn’t feel quite right and I had a weird experience…erm..blushing smiley… I thought I had a deep connection with “God” all of the sudden (I had been agnostic verging on the atheist all my life) and that I could stop time.

Luckily, for me anyway, I was at a neighbour’s house soon after and someone called for help.

During this psychosis, a lot of emotions surfaced, such as corruption within the Police force (long story, going back to something that happened in Canada) and also (organised) religion, which I am all in all fervently against.

It took a few Police officers to restrain me and secure me so I could be taken to a hospital in Bury, where I spend 24 hours in confinement.

I remember everything that happened, however I had no control over my actions/words. I remember feeling extremely angry too, poor cops received a mouthful!! I also remember having a strength I had never known before, it took a few of them to restrain and secure me, and I even managed to loosen a handcuff by the cheer force of my wrist (I was pretty surprised my wrist weren’t that bruised the following days!).

After the 24 hours in confinement, I felt back to my old self and I am now trying to figure out how this happened so it doesn’t happen again. I do know lack of sleep plays an important part of Psychosis, as well as repressed emotions.

I can see several reasons that brought me to that point:

– inability to deal with the betrayal I felt I suffered when my husband left me two years ago and started seeing my best friend, although I am now absolutely fine with both of them
– the loss of my dog Frodo, which I feel responsible for
– loss of friends due to my newly found need to be honest these days
– a course I attended at work which gave me hope that my company might actually have got the right message these days that people matter more than processes, making me feel really excited that things can change for the better there.

My life had been going good too since I became sober and I started a few too many projects with my newly found enthusiasm for life.

Work had also been quite busy too for the past month and so I was in constant state of “excitement” and began to sleep less and less.

I had experienced something very similar in Canada after my husband left me, except there, I had no-one looking after me. Luckily though I called the cops myself that time.

So, I am now feeling completely back to “normal” – I still am very different to what I used to be like when using alcohol and repressing my emotions – and looking at ways to channel my newly found energy, learning to take it easier (not quite there yet judging by the amount of stuff I have accomplished this weekend!) and also learning to live with being honest, as I used to be a people pleaser and honesty sometimes loses you friends.

I’m not ashamed of what happened to me as, believe me, under the “right” circumstances, this could happen to anyone.

I am also extremely grateful to have discovered really good friends through all this, people who have really been there for me, by talking to me about it or carrying on their business as usual which is also a great help!

My family has been great too, by being there when I have needed them and not freaking out.

My boss at work has been really understanding too, I feel lucky to have had that pressure off whilst concentrating on this new me.

I have also learnt a lot about mental illness during my stay at the hospital, and people. I will invest more time in my findings sometime in the future because I would love for my experience/thoughts to help this “Time To Change” campaign that is running at the moment.

I hope this won’t change the way you see me or how you behave towards me. As, apart from me seeing life from a different angle now (and really appreciating it), and this need to be honest, I haven’t changed at all, some might say I am just a little bit wiser these days  and I personally can say I am much happier:-)

If you have any questions or want to know more about what happened, please let me know as I’m more than happy to talk about it. I’d much rather you ask me direct rather than speak about it behind my back, but hey, whatever works for you 😉

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http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

Happiness is a mental illness

I had a doctor’s appointment booked tonight for something and I thought I would mention that I was feeling slightly manic recently and that I haven’t really managed to get more than 5/6 hours sleep a night since I became a tea-total.

I also explained to her what happened to me after my husband and I split up, when I stopped alcohol and drugs straight and went into a big manic phase which got out of control and for which I had treatment to give her some background as to why I felt I needed to mention my current mood.

Well, she is referring to a psychiatrist for assessment and talked about possible mood stabilisers (apparently much better than they used to be). She said when someone says they are happy all the time, it rings alarm bells to her. A friend of mine said something similar recently “No-one can be happy all the time”.

Well, guess what? As I am sitting here typing, tears are filling my eyes. It seems being happy is a mental illness.

I know I have been manic recently, but for the first time in my life, I am living free from addictions (dope, alcohol and toxic relationships) and re-discovering the world in a different light.

I have everything I need to be happy. I have a job I truly love, I have good friends, I have two lovely kitties, I have a nice house which doesn’t cost me a fortune, I have a car, I earn enough money that I don’t have to need for anything. I am closer than ever to my family, I am having healthy fun in my life. I have started successful worthy projects, I have reconnected with people I had neglected during my depression, I have made up with my husband and forgiven my best friend for being with him. I am now starting to turn my attention to what I can bring to the world and people who may need help and it brings me great pleasure.

Yet I should be on medication.

Funny thing happened when I was starting to type I was feeling tearful. A man, a Rastafarian, knocked on my door. He was looking for a house on the estate, No 8 something Close.

He said as I opened the door, “I know this isn’t the right place because the number is different but I don’t know where to look”.

I offered to look up the direction and asked him to come in. I showed him where he needed to go and as he left, he said he was going to visit his grandchildren that he hadn’t seen for a long time, you could see the happiness on his face, mixed with some sadness in his eyes. I smiled, feeling happy for him, and happy that I was there to help him find his way.

How many people would have opened the door to this man and told him he was at the wrong house and sent him on his way?

That little moment of connection we shared when he told me about his excitement of seeing his little ones was all I needed to make me realise I am not going crazy: Life really is wonderful and full of special moments.

Three times during our little encounter he said “God bless you”. I am not religious, but I felt what he was telling me. I realise he probably wasn’t expecting the welcome he got. This warmed my heart and left me with a big smile.

I am learning to appreciate life now I have nothing to worry about and sometimes I get a little over excited. After 23 years of repressing my feelings, I’m not surprised sometimes, all this processing gets a bit much.

And now to convince the “experts”. Perfect timing actually since I have been wondering what my contribution to the mental health issue could be.

And anyway, that doctor gave me something serious to worry about: apparently, I am one kilo in the obese zone. Bummer.

The Stigma with Mental Illness – Bipolar

Since pledging on the Time To Change website, I have been thinking about how my experience with Mental Health can help others.

I have a lot to say on the subject but I would like my contribution to be helpful, so I am working on the best way to do this. I have some ideas that are forming, but it is a slow process. I want to do it right.

A couple of days ago, I received an email from someone who was upset with me. I had broken off our relationship as I felt it was the right thing to do. I had known from the beginning we were not right for each other, however I had realised we could learn a lot from each other so I continued seeing him. (I had written a post about it on this blog but sadly I deleted it a couple of days ago as I felt maybe it was too personal (for him) for me to share openly.

On Sunday I realised that we would be better off as friends and told him so. This didn’t go down well and he got rather angry with me (which happens).

I had told him very little about my experience with Mental Health, only that after my husband and I split up, “they” tried to diagnose me as Bipolar (it took a psychiatrist one hour chatting with me to decide I was Bipolar) but that’s a story for another post.

Yesterday, I received an email from that chap, listing the symptoms that go with the manic stage of Bipolar, blaming the decision I had taken to finish with him on this illness.

I was rather angry at first, it felt like a slap in my face “see, you are crazy, you are not thinking straight, that’s why you dumped me, you’ll regret it”. More so that his sister apparently has been diagnosed with Bipolar and he seems to have very little understanding of the problem, and even less empathy.

However, I have had signs of being manic recently so I decided to look at each point and see where I was on the Manic scale.

This is my findings (which I emailed back to him):

The manic phase of bipolar disorder may include:
  • feeling very happy, elated or overjoyed – yes, but for good reasons, my life has turned around, I am no longer reliant on drugs and alcohol or guys to be happy.
  • talking very quickly – sometimes yes, when I get excited – who doesn’t?
  • feeling full of energy – yes, probably due to too many teas in the morning though and the fact that my life is quite fun these days, no mopping about in bed for hours on end (reminds you of someone?). Most days though I feel quite tired towards the end of the day, pretty normal behaviour really. Also, apparently stopping alcohol does that to you (gives you extra energy)
  • feeling self-important – no. Proud of myself for achieving what I have at the moment for sure (quitting drinking, successful launch of the social and other groups) but nothing wrong with that. But self-important no. I even had a debate with someone on FB who suggested I should “go down to their level” when approaching my neighbours about the noise issue. Told him I talked to everyone the same, apart from to kids when I might be softer.
  • feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans – I do have good ideas and all seem to go down well so far, nothing “disorder-y” about that. Important plans are only important to me. For my own reason (ie figuring out where I went wrong in life and bettering myself). If they happen to matter to others, great. I am certainly not pushing my ideas/plans on anyone, I am just doing my thing and if people like it, then great, if they don’t then it doesn’t matter. My blog for instance, I haven’t told many of my friends about it.
  • being easily distracted – not really, in fact when I concentrate on something, I tell people to wait before speaking to me so as not to be distracted. My boss actually laughed at me today because I was concentrating on something at work and hadn’t noticed he was sitting there waiting to talk to me.
  • being easily irritated or agitated – no more than usual. Probably a lot less actually. Certainly not anxious at all these days (used to be a very anxious person)
  • being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking – categorically no. (I suffered from that when I was sleep deprived before so I know what that’s like)
  • not feeling like sleeping – I do sleep, maybe not long enough but I certainly like my sleep, plus I nap when I need to as well, so I have no problems shutting down my brain when needed.
  • not eating – I eat plenty 🙂
  • doing things that often have disastrous consequences, such as spending large sums of money on expensive and sometimes unaffordable items – no disastrous consequences from my actions – in fact, very positive ones, made peace (properly) with my husband, getting on better with my friends, making new nice ones, and work is getting better all the time. Money wise, hmmm let me think what my latest expensive, unaffordable item was….nope can’t think of any. Even managed to go round a whole car boot sale and not bought anything.
  • making decisions or saying things that are out of character and that others see as being risky or harmful – all the people in my life are telling me they like this new “positive paz”, my mum in particular is very happy to hear how I am doing (and she would know if I was out of character)

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If I am really Bipolar, I sure hope I will be able to see as clearly why I feel the symptoms that go with depression when that stage hits.

As an addendum, I am closely watching this seemingly manic phase, in particular the over excitement bit. This is what I do to make sure my overthinking doesn’t affect my life too much:

  • Go on long walks with my friend’s dog. sometimes my friend joins us too.
  • Meet up with people regularly, nothing beats interaction with people to level you (and they can tell me if I get too excited)
  • Having a routine to make sure “normal” stuff gets done, such as tidying up, clearing up the dishes straight after eating, food shop so I don’t run out of food.
  • Listen to chillout music
  • Switched to decaf tea
  • Spend time with my cats (cats have an amazing calming influence)
  • And most importantly, I make sure I make my bed every morning 😉

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