Sunday, 31 December 2006

After my last post, Bryan from Kentucky commented... "I know our cultures our different but even the pirate should be advocating strict abstinence while trying to get you balanced. Sorry if that sounds sour, not trying to hurt your feelings."

First of all, no need to be sorry Bryan, it doesn't sound sour at all, it's a perfectly reasonable question. And in answer to your question, I'm pretty sure he would Bryan. He certainly often asks me about my drinking. I'm sure if I read the leaflets included in my medicines they would tell me to avoid alcohol. Unfortunately, like most bipolar folk I have a great fondness for mind altering substances. Around 50% of bipolars have some sort of substance abuse or dependence. For a real life experience visit Mrs P's current struggle.

I remember on my first visit to a shrink I was asked about my alcohol consumption. I guessed I was only drinking a bottle of red wine or 5 cans of beer each night and maybe a bit more at weekends... probably about 80 units a week. I was quite taken aback when the shrink said that I was close to the threshold where if I wanted to stop I would need be admitted to a hospital for detox. He had to be joking. I wasn't a down and out. I was a professional person. He also said I shouldn't be drinking at all with the medicines I was on at the time. Did I follow his advice? No. Taking antidepressants wasn't having any effect on me at all. Whereas I could feel the calming and relaxing effects of alcohol within 30 minutes. Over the following six months I was prescribed Fluoxetine, Citalopram, Venlafaxine, Lithium and L-Tryptophan. All with no benefit whatsoever, unlike alcohol which continued to relax me and satisfy some need within me. As I was no longer working I didn't even need to worry about being ill the next day. Were there any side effects from my alcohol therapy? Yes, after drinking excessively I did things I later regretted, tried to harm myself and others and also became known as a nutter to the local police.

Can alcohol be helpful? Well I think my mother actually cured her manic depression with alcohol. After being hospitalised with bipolar disorder in the 1960s, my mother started drinking heavily and then went on to develop full blown alcohol dependence. She spent the next 30 years despising the world and selfishly immersed in alcohol. But she never had another episode of clinical depression or mania. I'm sure I would do the same now if I lived alone. I would love to drink and get drunk every day and live in my own little bubble avoiding the outside world. Fortunately my wife keeps me on a short leash. She only lets me drink on Friday night and Saturday night. I have also devised a way to limit my drinking when I have one of those "lets go for it" nights. I never used to get hangovers but these days I feel hellish the morning after if I've been drinking red wine and subsequently don't like drinking it. So I've now trained myself that if I feel like having a real bender, I drink red wine and thus limit myself.

So to return to Bryan's original question. I think the shrink is happier now that I'm drinking about 30 units weekly instead of 100. It's not abstinence but it's a reasonable compromise.

And finally... I have just been reading about the 4 men arrested and charged with being involved in genocide in Rwanda. Britain has refused to extradite them unless Rwanda assures they will not be given the death penalty. Meanwhile in Iraq, Saddam Hussein was taunted before being hanged by masked men in a scene reminiscent of a lynching. Hanging is viewed as too barbaric for Peter Sutcliffe, Ian Brady and the Ipswich serial killer. We are a civilised country and these people have human rights. We invaded and devastated Iraq to improve their human rights. Unfortunately, even in the 21st century some animals are still more equal than others.

What a way to end 2006. Lets hope 2007 is better.

Thursday, 28 December 2006

After my last visit to the shrink I came home determined never to go back. I also decided to stop taking my medicines since they were useless. I had asked a while ago to try a period without pills, if nothing else I felt it would give us a clear picture of how I really was. Unfortunately nobody else thought it was a good idea so I kept taking them. This time though, I was miserable and felt I had nothing to lose. I had a long chat with my wife about it and we agreed I would wait till Christmas was over before stopping. However, over the next few days I began to feel better, my mood improved as did my confidence (I know what you’re thinking… that guy is so fickle… he’s not got a mood disorder, he is just a bloody prima donna… you may well be right!).

Christmas day was much better than I had anticipated. I forgot how much we had bought for each other on joint shopping trips over the past month. Mrs Mo had lots of presents (even if she had chose them herself rather than been surprised). We had Christmas dinner at the in-laws as usual. It was all nice enough but they’re pretty straight laced and old fashioned, so I tend to be a bit uptight and say very little. Irony and sarcasm is way over their heads and only offends them.

After dinner we have to suffer the Queens speech. I loathe the royal family, where as the in-laws doff their caps and almost bow in subservience. We sit silently in front of the TV until the Victorian propaganda show is over. I know it’s unfair of me to criticise my relatives, as they invite us into their house, wine us and dine us and then refuse to let us help with any of the washing up etc. They are good people who are just from a different generation with different values.

Later in the day we manage to escape to my sister’s house. This is a much rowdier affair as although my sister is very neurotic and overprotective, she has two sons in their early twentys who are a pair of rascals and live life to the full. Dad and the boys are swigging lagers when we arrive and soon I’m in full swing telling funny anecdotes of how things were when I was a their age. We all have a great laugh into the evening. It’s only when we’re coming away that I realise how normal I have been today, how much like my old self.

We headed off to Edinburgh on boxing day to buy a new PC in the Christmas sales. I did something I haven’t done for over a year (no… not that… my libido remains lost) and drove the car. Like every shop on boxing day, PC World was absolutely heaving but they had a good system of issuing tickets to give you a number in the queue.

Mrs Mo was back to work yesterday so I spent the day setting up the PC and getting things the way I like them. Last night I was still feeling OK, so after discussion with Her Majesty, I have decided to stay on my pills meantime. No point rocking the boat when things are going well. I think I’ll also give the Pirate anther chance.

Insanely Me was asking if I could see another psychiatrist. Well, back in the beginning when I finally agreed to see a psychiatrist, I refused to see the Pirate as I already knew him and had paranoid ideas about him. So I initially saw a psychiatrist who looked like Ben Elton.

For about nine months, I did a regular 50 mile round trip to see Ben, who was very easy to talk with and seemed a genuinely nice guy. Unfortunately I didn’t get any better while seeing Ben. I live in a very rural area and he felt in case of crisis and for the long term support of a full team that I should transfer to seeing my local team (including at the helm… the Pirate). Although I didn’t want to, I felt that this was the inevitable conclusion of my delusions about the Pirate. Although I’ve never been comfortable with him, I must say things progressed much quicker with him. Unlike Ben, who was very cautious about increasing dosages and changing drugs, the Pirate tried me on various antidepressants and ECT over a relatively short period of time. So I seem to be stuck with him.

This morning I headed down to the health centre to get bloods taken for Lithium levels. The place was empty so I got taken straight away. I've got dreadful veins and the nurses always have trouble getting blood from me. Today she was unable to get it from my arm but eventually got some out of my hand.

Friday, 22 December 2006

I can't remember what I did yesterday. Whether I got up in the afternoon or just lay in bed all day. It doesn't matter anyway. I see the shrink today. Today is the last Friday before Christmas, known locally as "Mad Friday". So it's quite appropriate for me to see the trick cyclist today. Usually my wife manages to come with me by working extra time through the week and getting the last hour off at the end of the day. The shrink was only doing morning appointments today and her work won't let her off in the morning, so I went alone. I left early for the 2 mile walk to the health centre. I kept to the back streets to avoid seeing anyone I knew and nearly succeeded. Just before the health centre I saw a lady approaching me. It was my old schoolteacher. Not just that but I had also cared for her mother a few years ago. I presume the mother has probably died by now and I start to worry about what to say to her. "How is your mother?" or "Is your mother still alive?" or don't mention the mother at all and pretend she never existed? I'm starting to sweat as she approaches... get ready to smile and say hello... I look up and turn in her direction... she turns her head away and walks on by. Merry bloody Christmas! I suppose she's used to seeing me with hair and being smartly dressed. I'm nearly bald nowadays as my wife keeps my hair tidy with a #1 clipper because I won't go out to the barbers. I'm wearing a T-shirt, tracksuit bottoms and a scruffy old fleece. But probably the main reason she doesn't recognize me is because I look absolutely miserable, shuffling along head down. Not the bright and breezy, confident person she knew.
In the health centre they are playing Frosty The Snowman. I join a group of elderly people in the waiting room. They are waiting for the treatment room to have their hydroceles and varicose ulcers seen to. I'm waiting for the loony tunes room to see the trick cyclist. Unfortunately I'm 15 minutes early. Never mind, the record has changed and now Willie Nelson is singing Blue Christmas...

I'll have a Blue Christmas that's certain
And when that blue heartache starts hurtin'
You'll be doin' all right, with your Christmas of white
But I'll have a blue, blue Christmas

Who needs a psychiatrist with this sort of music playing. Aye, thats just what I need to hear. I start scanning the room for a short length of rope or any sharp objects. Unfortunately the only sharp objects are the corners of the zimmer frames in front of the old folks who I realise are now eyeing me with suspicion. I hadn't realised Willie Nelson had generated a few teardrops in my eyes. Now that is a serious problem. I know most people don't like labels nowadays and prefer to use euphamisms like "mental health issues" but as far as I'm concerned, crying at a Willie Nelson record is the hallmark of a severe and enduring psychiatric illness. I spend the next half hour listening to xylophones and bells and choirs singing about Santa and Rudolph. At times they seemed to be speaking directly at me... "You better not cry! You better not pout!". If those are the guidelines for Christmas then I am fairly certain that Santa Claus is not coming to my town. Nor does it seem that the shrink is coming to town... 15 minutes late now. I'm fretting and pondering about leaving when, as if by magic, the pirate suddenly appears dressed in black.

Pleased to meet you. Hope you guessed my name.

"On your own today?" he asks smiling and leads me into his lair. He asks how I've been and what I've been doing. I tell him I've slipped back a bit and been spending more time in bed. He asks how much Mirtazapine I am taking just now. I remind him he stopped that in early November and I'm now on Imipramine 150mgs. "We can increase that up to 300mg" he offers. No thanks I tell him, I already think (or imagine) I'm developing urinary hesitancy and would rather not be catheterised for New Year. No, I'd rather sit in a pool of my own urine at New Year, like everyone else in Scotland. He asks what else I'm on (aren't medical records invaluable) and I tell him just the 1200mg of Lithium.

Next he asks me if I've had any more strange thoughts. Nothing new I say but I tell him I'm still unsure of his motives, I don't think he is genuine. Hmmm... but no offer of an antipsychotic. I just don't get it. I know I'm paranoid but... maybe because I admit it and have insight he thinks it's insignificant. More likely I think is that he doesn't believe me and thinks I'm putting on all my signs and symptoms, a complete fake. And then I think am I?

Next he asks what we're doing for Christmas and I tell him we're going to the in-laws. He asks what I've bought my wife for Christmas and I have to admit... nothing. We don't spend much during the year but when Christmas comes we usually push the boat out and buy each other loads of presents. Mrs Mo gets really excited about it all. The pirate dwells on this and keeps asking me why I haven't bought her anything. I tell him because I can't get off my lazy fat arse. He then starts repeatedly asking me why I don't go out and buy her something tomorrow. I stare at the carpet, determined not to cry and tell him it's cos I'm a lazy, miserable, bastard. Things wind up and I eventually manage to escape. All in all a really helpful positive session. It's great to know the support is there when you need it. I never want to see that twat again. Every session with the shrink is the same. I dread going. I hate it when I'm there. I always feel much worse afterwards. None of the sessions have helped me, the ECT didn't help me, none of the pills have helped me. Two years down the line and everything is the same. What is the fuckin' point. There is one thing I'm looking forward to... getting pissed tonight.

And on that happy note I'll sign off.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

I think I’ve plateaued at best but more likely slipping back down. I’ve done little the past couple of days but browse other blogs and leave negative comments, either taking the piss or disagreeing. All negative and nothing positive or creative.

Today I just lay in bed. Mrs Mo came home at lunch time and discovered there was a letter for me. It was from the NMC asking me to renew my nurse registration. It basically said, send us £43 and we’ll allow you to have full access to some of the most vulnerable people in society. So after the Mrs went back to work I got up. I’ve searched their website for guidelines on fitness to practice but only found how to report someone you’re concerned about, nothing about the mental health of the practitioner. Would I ever want to go back to nursing? Maybe if it was simply that, nursing, caring for people who were ill. I certainly never want to go back to the politics and bitching on the wards where much of your time is spent fussing or fighting over the staff. Nor would I want to return to the NHS, forgetting about standards and working my arse off to try and provide only the most basic care, praying there were no disasters on my shift and giving the handover knowing there were patients who still needed attention.
No, it’s been a few years since I worked in a clinical area and I never want to go back to that again. Unfortunately I received an excellent training back in the days when Kajagoogoo and Buck’s Fizz dominated the charts. Although I was trained to do my job well, by the time Britney Spears and S Club 7 were in the Top 10, an increased workload and decreased staff compliment made this impossible and I have no desire to do a job badly. The form has now been ripped up and will be joining the Christmas cards for recycling. When/if the time comes to go back to work I’ll probably be a van driver or something like that. Yeah, white van man that’ll do.

It’s strange how much your job makes your identity. I don’t know what I am now. When people ask “What are you up to these days?” I can’t say I’m depressed or I’ll get that look that says “Aren’t we all mate. Get off your arse and get a job”. I don’t want to say I’m on incapacity benefit or I’ll be classed as a scrounger. And with stunning, youthful looks I can hardly say I’m retired. Nor do I fancy saying I’m mad… take a step back then run! If I say I’m bipolar they’ll probably reply “I don’t care what you do in the bedroom, it’s just your job I asked for”. And I’m sure if I say I’m manic depressive the word manic will stick and they’ll think maniac, as in “axe wielding homicidal maniac”. Strangely enough, I think the most acceptable thing to say is “I’m on the dole” and I’m sure that will generate much more sympathy than any of the others. Better jobless than brainless.

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Still tired and lethargic... hmm... and still moaning. Why on earth anyone would want to read about somebody whinging and moaning? I don't know but here you are.

Anyway, I've been thinking about my diagnosis and I think the doctors have got it wrong. I'm not a manic depressive, I'm a depressive depressive... who occasionally comes alive and is immediately hammered with tranquilisers. How come the bring you down pills work quickly and effectively but the bring you up pills rarely have any effect at all? Isn't that weird, isn't that just like most things in life. Aye, merry bloody Christmas!

Well, although I lay in bed this morning thinking about such world changing stuff, I eventually got up just in time for lunch and a better lunch I couldn't have dreamed of... a piece n' sausage (otherwise known as a sausage sandwich) and a cup of tea. Good healthy Scottish cooking, not quite in the same league as the deep fried Mars bar but nonetheless, bliss. So nice in fact that I agreed to go out with Mrs Mo for the afternoon.

When she was out buying her dress on Tuesday night she discovered an amazing new device that she simply had to buy. The incredible appliance makes fat people thin... it says so on the box so it must be true! Yes, you simply slip into it and all your wobbly bits disappear and you are compressed into a sylph like beauty making you the envy of all who see you. Well, she tried the body suit on this morning and we took it back to the shop this afternoon. Quelle surprise!

Despite this mornings disappointments, tonight Cinderella did get to the ball (her works night out) and left me at home with the cat. I'm sitting at the PC and Bagpuss is on the couch. Boring? Not at all, we've already had some excitement. Half an hour ago we heard the catflap go and both leapt up in surprise... an intruder! We rushed to the hall, the flap whacked and looking through the window I saw another cat running off. So I have filled an old Squezy bottle with water and am now armed and dangerous should that beast return.

I suppose you think I'm going to sit here as usual getting drunk on red wine. Well I certainly am not, no, not at all. Tonight I'll be getting drunk on Caffrey's. Why Caffrey's? I'm sure any Scottish readers will know only too well how I chose my poison. Yes of course... it was on special offer at the Co-op. Buy one get one free. Hoots mon!

Friday, 15 December 2006

I've got nothing to say but it's OK.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

I slept on in to the afternoon today. Not one of those lovely long refreshing sleeps where you wake up rejuvenated and ready to go. One of those "my whole body is slowing down" sleeps where you wake up after 15 hours and feel like you've just got into bed. Hopefully it's just a combination of the miserable weather and the fact that I haven't been over the threshold this week.

I think I'll go and switch on the lights on the Christmas tree... maybe their magical radiation will enliven me... I'll just check first that they weren't made in Russia, don't want to get the wrong kind of radiation...

"Oh no! It looks like they are polonium lights!!!".........

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Well, after my last brief post, I turned the central heating up full blast, made myself a nice cup of tea, grabbed two peanut biscuits and plonked my arse down in front of the telly for an afternoon of sloth and self indulgence. The first thing that rattled me was the peanut biscuits, they were all that was left in our Ebeneezer Scrooge biscuit box. We’re not millionaires by any means but I’m sure there are folks out there struggling on poorer incomes than us that will be stuffing their faces with Kit-Kats, Rockys, Penguins and Breakaways. However, despite being handicapped with a chronic illness there was no chocolate biscuits for me today, I’m sure most of you are near to tears by now, so I’ll move on.

I switched on the telly to see what my choices were for this afternoons viewing. Flicking through the channels there’s Doctors, Snooker, The Price Is Right... (oh my God!)… a couple of old movies (both halfway through)… but don’t panic, we’ve got Freeview as well so… Eight Simple Rules, Home Improvement, 3 music channels offering me Britney, J Lo and the wonderful guys that are Il Divo (puke). Fortunately things come back down to earth with the cardboard set of QVC where they’re selling a chocolate fountain for only £29.96… wow… but wait... Bid TV are selling a vaccum cleaner for £19.99 (obviously very high quality), Price Drop TV are selling a 24 piece dinner set for the unbelievable price of £6.99… surely only the finest bone china. Although I’m sure there is plenty more tat and absolute crap to come, I resist the buying urge and switch the box off, groan and make my way back to my now pristine workstation and log back on to the interweb thing.

I wonder what I’m going to write about now… and then my mind goes back to last night… of course… shopping. In particular, women shopping.
You see, if I’m going shopping, I decide what I’m going to buy, I go to a shop and buy it. However, things are very different with Mrs Mo.
If I can no longer fit into my beige chinos, I’ll go to the appropriate shop, try a pair on and if they fit I take them to the checkout and pay for them. I will wear those trousers lots of times, sometimes other guys will be wearing the same but I won’t notice, never mind care.
If Mrs Mo is going to a night out however, she needs to buy something new! You see someone might have seen her in that dress before (and probably taken photographs and had enlargements hung all around tonights venue). So off we go to the shops. Once there I’ll innocently ask “what is it your after?”. Invariably she’ll reply “hmmm… I’m not sure, I don’t know”. She’ll spend about two hours looking at trousers, skirts, dresses and suits. She’ll pick things up and look at them for about 5 minutes then shake her head and mumble “nah”. Eventually my continual loud sighing will provoke her in to taking two or three items into the changing rooms. Of course as soon as she is inside, I will realise that I am standing alone, surrounded by women’s lingerie and several old ladies are scowling and tutting at me. After about 45 minutes Mrs Mo will shuffle out looking dejected and when I ask her what was wrong with the blue one, she will of course reply “it made me look fat” (as if it were the dress’s fault). This will be repeated in several shops until we’re both tired and angry and then we’ll leave with nothing and drive home in silence. Once home all her clothes will be dragged out over the bed and there’ll be a huge cafuffle about what she’s going to wear now, but eventually she will pick something and then we will all be happy.
Well, that’s the usual carry on. Yesterday evening she was going to buy a dress for her work’s Christmas night out… aaaaargh!.... but because I’ve been unwell she decided to go with a friend….big sigh of relief… I’m saved from the shopping trip… hooray!
Now you’d think I’d be happy… but no… I was furious… unbelievably… unbeloodylievably… she bought the “perfect dress” within the hour!... Women!!!... I was speechless…. Grrrrr…. where did I leave my GTN and those diazepam tablets?
Just time to share a couple of things I've came across on the web.

First of all the BBC report that doctors in Glasgow have been helping smokers to quit by prescribing them Viagra! What an incentive, a really hard offer to refuse.

And secondly a short film about the joys of driving in winter...

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

By Royal decree, Her Majesty (Mrs Mo) requested that the area around the computer be tidied up and any materials we no longer require be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way, before Christmas if possible. In actual fact her precise words were “Get that pile of shit cleaned up… Today!”. As you can probably guess, I didn't marry her for her looks or her money but for her subtle charm and eloquence. I looked at the teetering piles of CDs intertwined with papers, precariously held together by a tacky glue made of long since spilt coffee and felt another wave of depression coming on. I was about to phone the Samaritans but remembered they only operate in the evenings. I then foolishly considered phoning NHS Direct before realizing that would just make things worse. There was nothing for it but to tidy up my precious belongings, otherwise known as “that pile of shit” this morning. It’s strange how stuff that only occupies about 2 square feet suddenly grows to cover over 20 square feet of floor space when you try to sort it out. The first temptation is just to move it all to another room until you realise that at some point in your life you will have to part with that empty Neil Young CD case as the CD itself has now been lost for years.

Anyway, in the midst of all this I came across a poem I wrote for my GP (family doctor) a couple of years ago. I was profoundly tired and lethargic at the time and having lots of physical tests done. I didn’t feel down, sad or weepy at all just knackered. At night however, I felt strange when lying in bed. I was unable to describe this strangeness to the doc but said I would make a note next time it happened. The following night I got up and wrote the following poem…

Shapes take on great significance
The picture frame holds more meaning than the painting
A spiral staircase has immense power
I am nothing

Time stretches like chewing gum across the galaxy
Childhood, only a dream in a previous incarnation
Death races towards me
But I am nothing

Dreams and reality meld in a whirlpool of consciousness
I am lost in a maze of concepts and ideas
I see all sides of the circle

I was obviously completely off my rocker when I wrote it and it’s hard to believe I was still working in a professional capacity at this time. I took it to my GP as if it would explain everything… and unfortunately it did, although not the way I intended. I refused to see a psychiatrist until some time after this when I broke down at work and it was obvious even to me then, that I couldn’t cope any longer. I was taking beta blockers for a heart condition at the time and I’m sure they contributed to my nocturnal confusion.
Anyway, beside the poem I found the Lucinda Williams CD I listened to constantly at that time, when I was spiralling down into the big black hole…

If we lived in a world without tears
How would bruises find the face to lie upon
How would scars find skin to etch themselves into
How would broken find the bones

If we lived in a world without tears
How would heartbeats know when to stop
How would blood know which body to flow outside of
How would bullets find the guns

If we lived in a world without tears
How would misery know which back door to walk through
How would trouble know which mind to live inside of
How would sorrow find a home

Saturday, 9 December 2006

The shrink was in good form on Friday afternoon, he gave me his full attention and only played with his palm pilot once. He started off by thanking me for my letter which he got earlier in the week in which I described my experience of delusional perception and my paranoid ideas about him. Much to my surprise he didn't frown and express concern at my psychotic state, nor did reach for his prescription pad and start writing Olanzapine. Instead he said he was really pleased that I had sent him the letter and then sat there beaming with delight as if I had sent him a Wii console for Christmas. Maybe he has never had a letter before? Anyway, he quickly moved on to ask how I'd been over the past week and the fact that I was mad was never mentioned again. Very strange. I told him I had been a bit down at the start of the week but all in all I was much better and happy to be back on planet earth. He asked if I'd given any thought to going back to work... my jaw dropped and I frantically explained I had got ill health retirement from the NHS and didn't feel able yet to do any type of work... I must have turned pale as he quickly assured me that he just wondered if maybe in the future I envisaged perhaps doing a few hours at something. Fortunately he soon decided to wind things up, we had the obligatory nice "comfortable silence", I'm never sure whether I'm supposed to get tense and burst out with some revealing statement to break the silence or if it's just his polite way of saying piss off. I presume the latter and as we're getting ready to go he says "have a nice Christmas" and then the palm pilot makes another appearance, "I'll see you again in two weeks" he says. I'm a bit puzzled about the "Have a nice Christmas" followed by "I'll see you in two weeks" which is before Christmas. What with that and not enquiring further about my previous psychosis I start to wonder if it's some sort of psychological ploy, or perhaps the shrink is mad too, or maybe he's just been dabbling in too many drugs. Hmmm.... anyway, appointment in two weeks... "That's mad Friday" I reply then wonder if I'm allowed to use the word mad with the shrink as it is very un PC (Oh... in case anybody doesn't know what "mad Friday" is, it's the Friday before Christmas when all the factory workers finish at lunch time for the holidays. It's an accepted tradition that everyone heads straight for the pubs, dons party hats and drinks at a furious rate. By mid afternoon the entire population is absolutely sozzled. I think a lot of folk look forward much more to mad Friday than Christmas itself). Anyway, we say our farewells and once more I escape the clutches of the pirate.

On Saturday we took the neighbours dog out for the afternoon and threw sticks until his mouth could hold no more...

Perhaps we should try and teach him the "drop" command. Despite it being a bitterly cold day, (you can see the frost on the grass) we stayed out for ages and by the time we were coming home it was pitch black. Fortunately at night time the hound from hell's eyes turn into amber flashlights...

Once home we had an Indian takeaway and I laboured my way through some of the wine we had bought with the Threshers voucher. Subsequently I snored like a pig all night and woke up this morning with a swollen uvula (Oooohh matron!!!) and a hangover. While I lay around feeling sorry for myself, Mrs Mo headed off to see Cinderella in Edinburgh with her pals. She had areally good time and thought the pantomime was excellent.

Thursday, 7 December 2006

After spending most of the week in bed, Lazarus finally rose from the dead today. I got up, had a long soak in the bath, shaved, dressed and was soon ready to face the world… well not quite… but I was ready to face a walk alone in the woods.

The leaves have all but gone from the branches now, but as one cycle ends another begins.

All around the forest floor the first snowdrops are beginning to shoot. Soon they will be everywhere, it’s the abundance of spring flowers here that gives this woodland it’s name… Springwood.

Once through the woods I made my way along the River Teviot which was running high and dirty. Just a few seconds after I took this photo, a brilliant flash of electric blue shot out of the bank and across the water, the first kingfisher I have seen for ages. I carried on and climbed the steep slopes up to the ruins of Roxburgh Castle and looked across the River Tweed to Floors Castle.

I made my way home listening to Love, George Martin’s reworking/remixing of the Beatles greatest hits. It’s a bit weird with various samples dropped in here and there, especially when you know the originals so well. I was surprised to notice that even in the vocals played backwards that John Lennon’s voice is profoundly distinctive. It's interesting to listen to a couple of times but I think I'll stick to the originals. And if my “regulars” are wondering… yes I am listening to music OK again. Surprisingly the only track to upset me wasn’t Eleanor Rigby or Yesterday… it was an up tempo song…

When I was younger so much younger than today
I never needed anybody's help in any way
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors

Hmmm... well, that’s the end of the tourist guide and the record review, now, down to the nitty gritty. I see the trick cyclist again tomorrow afternoon. I wrote him a letter describing my paranoid ideas about him, I’m not sure how he’ll respond. Although I said that was my only psychotic experience, just after I posted it I remembered other stuff that was going on my head at the same time. I think I’m all right now… but then again I’ve thought I was all right since day one. Whatever he decides, I am definitely not taking Olanzapine again, I put on three stones (42 pounds) the last time and have never managed to lose it (absolutely nothing to do with the Mars bars and biscuits of course).

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Blues day
Pay your dues day

I’m a bit down just now. Not real down… it’s not down to my bipolarity but down to my personality. I think my “clinical” mood is better and I’m just in some kind of a childish sulk.

I’ve always been a loud mouthed smartass, thinking I was hilarious with my sarcastic comments while all the time probably hurting people acutely. On Sunday night I logged into my old chatroom/quiz and seemed to be back on form with my quick fire “humour”, making puns and making fun of the others. It was only at the end when I noticed that half the folks had gone early, I realized I had probably offended some of them. And to add insult to injury… or to be precise… injury to insult… I chewed on a toffee and lost a large filling from my tooth!

I was fortunate to get an urgent appointment first thing on Monday morning. I didn’t see my usual dentist however, who is a rather serious, quiet man. Instead I saw a lovely young lady who was very skilled and very chatty. Afterwards she smiled as I thanked her for seeing me and not hurting me… and for being a much better conversationalist than the quiet man. At this point her face froze and I knew I had got it horribly wrong… was she his wife? His daughter? Or just a professional and loyal colleague? Either way, I quickly paid my bill and left… well I say quickly, the machine kept my card in for ages, it was like waiting for toast to pop up. And yes, Mrs Mo let me have my credit card for an hour!

I hurried home and crawled into bed feeling like shit… those folks last night and the dentist this morning. Then I started to think… what a damn cheek, I insult people, then instead of wondering how they are feeling, I wallow in my own self pity. That’s rich. How bloody selfish of me.

So , no I’m not really down, not that horrible, vacant, detached on another planet kinda down. Just your everyday self pity.

Monday, 4 December 2006

There is a line between me and the human race
A line so thin I can see right through it
And yet so thick we shall never touch

Friday, 1 December 2006

I've had a look at quite a few bipolar blogs tonight (01:37 ...hic) and been surprised at how many bipolar people rate Catcher In The Rye as their favourite book. I remember reading it when I was about 14 and while I enjoyed it, I never felt like it was one of "my" books. My (bipolar) mother had used it as her course book for evening classes she attended one year and she constantly raved on about J.D. Salinger like he was the new Messiah. I couldn't help but loathe him. Maybe I should read it again, now I might be more objective.

From something I hate, to something I love. I am constantly amazed by the Radio 2 promo video featuring Elvis and his band. Those of you outside the UK who haven't seen this should give this a look. It is an absolutely brilliant piece of work. I don't know how they did it... and I don't want to... I just love watching it... it's great!

And finally... something you may have seen in the US but not in the UK... don't you just want to make her wish come true...

I'm really sick of the newspapers, TV and web repeatedly showing that dreadful picture of the late Alexander Litvinenk in his last few hours. I know it was his own wish to have it shown, initially to raise awareness of his terrible situation and to that end it has definitely served it's purpose globally. But surely now it is time to treat the man with some dignity and respect and remember him as the man he really was.

Thursday, 30 November 2006

I had a long lie in bed this morning. I wasn't particularly down, just having one of those off days that even normal folks have. Fortunately the difference between normal folks and me is that I don't have to go to work on these days. There are some real benefits to being crazy. Anyway, Mrs Mo came home at lunchtime and noted it was very convenient for me to be having an off day... on a Thursday! Shit... I forgot. Our local paper comes out on a Thursday and I had agreed with the psychiatrist that on Thursdays I would go into town and buy a paper. Hmmm.... So I dragged myself out of bed and got dressed (that's another benefit of being mad, you can get away without showering occassionaly).

So after lunch I hooked up my wee MP3 player... oh that's another thing I forgot to tell you. I have now managed to find some music I can listen to without getting all emotional. Obviously I'd be crying like a baby if I listened to The Carpenters singing Close To You, but I've found out I have no such problem with the old glam rock from the 70s. So I walked out the gate listening to the first record I ever bought....

...Blockbuster by Sweet. I almost started laughing when I passed an old couple just as Steve Priest was screaming in my ear "We just haven't got a clue what do!".

Anyway, once I was in the town centre I certainly wasn't laughing. I was in to the paper shop and out again ASAP, head down the whole time hoping no one would recognize me or try to speak to me. Walking back by the river, the fishermen were out for the last day of the salmon season.

I used to be a keen angler and know most of the fishermen on the river. Now that the season is over I'll be able to go for long walks up the river without worrying about bumping into any old friends. As well as being the last day of the fishing season it is also St Andrews Day, this has already been covered extensively in Puddlejumper's Blog!

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

The phone rang yesterday afternoon. I don’t usually answer the phone anymore. Not that I mind the “you have won a holiday in Las Vegas” calls, or the “save money by combining your gas and electricity bills” calls, or even the “can we arrange for a financial advisor to visit you?” calls. No, those sort of calls allow me to have a huge catharsis, involving loud shouting of multiple expletives and are of great benefit to me. No, the calls I dread are from real people, friends and relatives, who phone to ask how I am. I used to talk for ages, usually dominating the conversation but now I dry up after a couple of sentences. And because I used to be such a chatterbox, I assume people will take offence when I don’t speak much. So the least stressful thing is to not answer the phone at all.

Anyway, yesterday, curiosity got the better of me and I walked over and checked the caller ID while it was still ringing. It was a local number, and though I didn’t recognize it, I thought it could be my wife or my sister. Oh… what should I do?... I picked up… “hello?”.

It was Laura, a girl I used to work with. The phone call went surprisingly well, Laura is always very bright and breezy and you just get carried along with her giggles and chat. She wondered if I fancied meeting up for a coffee and a chat sometime. I made my excuses, thanked her for calling and got off the line just as I was coming over all emotional. I know what you’re thinking... that big woose is always crying… and you’re right, I am. But I wasn’t just touched by Laura taking the time and trouble to call me. I had also just experienced a significant moment of insight.

About three years ago I had problems with my heart and ended up in hospital for a couple of weeks. I got lots of cards from colleagues and friends while I was in hospital and afterwards I had lots of visitors and people asking how I was getting on. A few months later I had to go on long term sick and eventually give up work due to the onset of my bipolar illness. This time there was no such response and other than my two immediate close colleagues keeping in touch, virtually no response. That’s the stigma of mental illness you see.

So I’ve stayed at home, basking in my own self pity, bitter about all those people I knew for years who now turn their back on me. I’ve been determined to not to rejoin the human race. I’ve had several arguments with my wife about this. She always says my view is incorrect and for whatever reason I’m not remembering the facts. We always end up agreeing to disagree.

Laura’s phone call brought it all home to me yesterday. That was the third time she has called in the past 2 years and each time I have said no.
When I first became ill I refused to see anyone. Whenever someone phoned, I told my wife to tell them I didn’t want to see anyone. I did this repeatedly until eventually the calls dried up. Now I live detached from the world in my own little bubble.

My mother was bipolar and lived most of her life a bitter woman, detached from the world. I swore that I would never let that happen to me… and yet here I am, exactly where she was at my age.
As for the stigma of mental illness, I now think that has more to do with me than with my old friends and colleagues.

Sunday, 26 November 2006

I can feel a change in me. Over the past week I have become a bit more animated and more active. My thinking is becoming a bit clearer and I am sleeping less. Sleep is a good “moodometer” for me. I only sleep about 2 hours a night when I’m up, whereas when I’m down I sleep for about 18 hours a day. At the moment I’m on about 9 hours which is OK. For the first time in ages I’m not wishing the grim reaper would hurry up and turn out the lights… and as an added bonus I’m no longer constipated! However, there is no danger of elation yet, never mind hypomania but at least I seem to be heading in the right direction.

Is Christmas on the way already? Mrs Mo spent this afternoon wrapping up Christmas presents. I’m at a loss as to what to do this year regarding getting money to buy presents. For obvious reasons I no longer have access to a credit card or large amounts of cash. Fortunately my darling wife reads this blog, so this should hopefully serve as a subtle hint… (I shall leave a begging bowl under the stairs).
We went for a walk down town this afternoon and sure enough, Yuletide fever is spreading, the Christmas tree is already up in the town square…

Oh, and just in case you think it's all good news... it isn't! My back is still giving me a hard time. There, I feel better now. I just couldn't post without having a moan about something.

Oh, my current medication is... Lithium Carbonate 1200mg, Imipramine 150mg

Friday, 24 November 2006

Sorry folks, this isn’t one of my funny posts… yeah yeah… I can already hear you saying “What funny ones!”… anyway, if you want a laugh, come back another day. If you want to see a bit more into my psyche, read on…….

It was a stormy afternoon yesterday as Mrs Mo and I headed over to the bin. Well it’s not really a bin anymore, the old asylum closed down a few years ago, now it’s more of a small shiny bucket than a bin. It was like a scene out of a horror movie as we dashed across the car park in the dark, in gale force winds and torrential rain, only to find ourselves faced with a locked door. After negotiating the buttons and voices of the security system, we were eventually let in. A lady told us that the pirate was going to be late and then led us down a corridor and into a big alcove. Well, really more of a doorless cupboard than an alcove. It contained two chairs and a huge photocopier. We spent the next half hour leafing through service leaflets, browsing the large Health and Safety notice on the wall opposite and resisting the temptation to photocopy our arses. Later the shrink arrived looking somewhat bedraggled and windswept. He apologised for being late and led us upstairs to a consulting room.

It was a very strained and brief meeting consisting of some obvious questions and uncomfortable silences. The psychiatrist didn’t seem at ease at all and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It was a bit like a movie where his family had been kidnapped and he had been told to act as normal as possible and was making a dreadful job of it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t making things any easier, not making eye contact and answering in monosyllables. I knew I was being awkward but I can’t help it, our relationship is very complex.

I worked with him briefly about 20 years ago and since then we’ve joked and said hello on the odd occasions when we’ve bumped into each other. A couple of years ago we both attended a large meeting/discussion and I had a delusional experience involving him. This was at a time when my life was disintegrating and I was no longer able to function at work. My colleagues were carrying me and reluctantly allowed me to stay on despite my unfit state. Work was the only thing I had left in life. I had lost all interest in every other part of my life. Up until then I had refused to see a psychiatrist but now I was beginning to reconsider. As my life collapsed around me, for the first time I had more or less decided to at least try psychiatric treatment.

Anyway, back to this meeting. I had expected to sit back passively and just observe for the afternoon but much to my surprise, my department suddenly came under fire. Not just from one or two folks but the majority of the room. Feeling a bit stunned and vulnerable and not really having the presence of mind or concentration to form a cohesive argument, I mumbled a few weak responses. Seeing my weakness, the mob brayed and quickly prepared to pounce. At this point the Pirate suddenly spoke out loudly and clearly grabbing the attention of everyone in the room. He uttered a ludicrous statement that diverted all attention away from me… “Next time, why don’t we discuss the compulsory treatment of alcoholism”… People were quite taken aback by what he said and it diffused the whole situation. And in that moment he looked at me and conveyed this message… “You are no longer welcome in the Mental Health Network. If you ever come here looking for help, I will admit you to hospital and publicly humiliate you, revealing you for the fraud that you are”. He never actually spoke the words, he just kinda “conveyed” them but there was no ambiguity about it. The same way that sometimes in a dream, you just realize something and you know it is a fact. I had absolutely no doubts and didn’t question the experience at all.

I have never revealed this experience to any of my doctors (nor anyone else come to that), partly because now it all sounds stupid and partly because I fear the consequences. In retrospect it seems like what I experienced was delusional perception, a first rank Schneiderian symptom of schizophrenia. I have never had any other psychotic experiences (at least not in adulthood). I know now that I imagined this experience, even though it was pin sharp and crystal clear at the time. But it’s a bit like knowing a big spider can’t hurt you….. you still don’t want to pick it up.

I never ever went back to work after that meeting and it was a while before I agreed to see another doctor.

Maybe I should tell the shrink about it?

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

I was feeling a bit chirpier this morning, sitting up drinking tea in bed at 8am. I asked Mrs Mo what I could do as a wee challenge today, she told me my task for the day was to get up out of bed before she got home for lunch. After she’d left I thought… I’ll surprise her and not just get up, I’ll go out for a walk as well! Steady now, I know what you’re thinking… “What a brilliant guy, going out for a walk, all on his own. What an overachiever.”… lol.

So up I gets and after a long soak in the bath, get wrapped up and head off down the road. At the bottom of our street I’m approaching an elderly lady with a walking stick. I smile and look up, about to say “good morning” to her. Just before I speak however, she scowls and turns away. Sheesh! Sometimes I wonder if I really do have a social phobia or just social contempt. I turned off into the woods and was quickly cheered up at the sight of the golden carpet before me made up of all the fallen leaves.

Once safely out of public view, I hooked up my MP3 player which I’d brought with me. I haven’t been able to listen to music since my life disintegrated a couple of years ago. It’s something I miss really badly. Today I’d decided to give it another go. I pressed Play and my ears were filled with the intro of Nelly Furtado’s “Turn Off The Light”. The sound was amazing, samples rushing round my head. When the drums and bass kick in, the sound is so rich, full and overwhelming and it all fits in so perfectly appropriately with the empty forest that surrounds me. Ms Furtado starts to sing and her seductive voice launches me into a state of bliss. Things quickly go downhill however, I’m soon sniffling and by the time Nelly is singing “Follow me, follow me, follow me, follow me down, down, down, down” I am certainly going down, down, down and the tears are rolling. For those of you familiar with the concept of Yin and Yang, if you imagine John Wayne at one end of the spectrum, the snivelling wretch, cowering at the other end is me. The headphones are quickly removed and the player put away for another day.

Once I’m out of the woods, I cross the road and wander up the banks of the River Teviot, where the fishermen are hard at it in the last few days of the salmon season.

Oh I nearly forgot about the support group I went to yesterday. Hmmm. There were only three “service users” there. God, I hate that terminology. I’d much rather be a patient, a nutter or even a loony. A service user sounds to me like someone using a public toilet. There were a similair number of professionals… now that is a good name, how come us nutters can’t get a tag like that.

It kicked off a bit like an AA meeting… “Hi, my name is Mo and I have been diagnosed bipolar for a couple of years”. Then we were asked what we hoped to get out of the group. I had hoped for practical stuff, like information on supported employment and welfare benefits but the professionals mumbled and said that was a very grey area. The other folks (I refuse to call them service users!) were looking to share experiences and emotional support. I really don’t think this group is for me. I prefer the completely anonymous sharing and support I get from you guys on the internet. Amen.

Monday, 20 November 2006

Saturday night was the night of the Leonids. Every year, around November 17th, the earth moves through the meteoroid stream of comet Tempel Tuttle, resulting in a night full of meteor showers in our skies. The man on the news said that this years display would be particularly good in the UK. So once it was dark, Mrs Mo and I jumped in the car, full of anticipation, and headed out into the darkness of the countryside to find a good viewpoint. A lay-by on the A699 turned out to be our venue for the night. The first thing we noticed when we jumped out the car was how cold and windy it was and I wished I'd worn a thicker coat. As we gazed up expectantly into the heavens we suddenly found ourselves caught like rabbits in a car's headlights. They must have thought we were out on some illicit liaison but thank goodness they were polite enough not to toot or wind down the window and shout at us. Once they had passed, we looked up and scanned the skies but for the most part, all we saw were clouds and in the gaps only stars. Unfortunately, we were not treated to any dazzling displays of shooting stars, as time passed, the only moving lights we saw were just more cars passing us by. By now it was bitterly cold and blowing a gale. We started to think about the rest of the world on this Saturday night... laughing and joking in cosy pubs and clubs... or cuddling up snug in front of the telly... or tucked up snoozing in warm beds. Another car passed, once more I felt a right twat. The Leonids could wait till next year. Home James!

Oh, I must thank Marlena Rivers for her subtle explanation of what a "twat" is in America. I'd always thought George Bush was a twat but... err... maybe I should drop it right there.
It's strange how many subtle (or perhaps gross) differences there are between US English and UK English. I was playing blackjack in Las Vegas a few years ago and drew a dirty look from the guy sitting next to me when I lit up a cigarette. "Oh sorry, I'm terrible" I apologised "I can get through 60 fags in a day". I was perplexed as his expression changed from disgust to horror. The tables were turned later however, when I was stunned to hear a waitress tell my wife she had a "cute fanny pack" (apparently translates into UK English as bum bag). If you are still a bit puzzled, a British fanny is an American twat whereas an American bum is a British tramp and a British.... och Sheesh! It's much easier learning French than American, at least you can use Altavista's Babel Fish to help you out. I hope I haven't offended too many readers (not that there are thousands of you out there) and anyway, you'll be glad to hear we're moving on to nicer stuff!

Sunday morning we awoke to see the Cheviot Hills painted white with the first snowfall of winter. It looked beautiful BUT... we've had such a long, mild summer I think that winter is really gonna hit us hard this year. Anyway, we got all wrapped up, kidnapped next door's dog and headed for the woods. Once again we walked for miles and threw sticks until we realized just how far from home we were. We drudged back cold, tired and weary. Once home we sat down cosy in front of the TV with steaming mugs of hot chocolate. It should have been bliss, like something out of a Disney movie, but I felt another kind of black dog creeping up on me. I sighed and said I was going to lie down for a while and made my way upstairs to bed. Apart from getting up to the bog occassionally, I slept for about 18 hours. Not a good sign for me.

I really didn't want to get up at all today, but unlike Yoko Ono, Mrs Mo is not a fan of "bed-ins" and gets upset if I try to hibernate. So anyway, I've dragged myself up, came downstairs and am now playing quite happily on the computer. Tomorrow I'm going to the first meeting of our local bipolar self help group. I'm concerned that with this being such a rural area that I might be the only person that turns up. Now that really would be a self help group!

I apologise for the lack of images but "new improved" Beta Blogger is refusing to upload my pictures. Perhaps this happens when your text includes the word "fanny".

Friday, 17 November 2006

Well, today was D-Day... time to own up to the shrink that I hadn't been taking the tablets. All the dizziness I had when taking the Mirtazapine has now vanished. Great! Surprisingly the psychiatrist was OK with this and quickly moved on. He asked me how I'd been over the past week. I surprised myself by blurting out something I had been keeping secret from everyone... even from my blog! When I was a teenager, like a lot of young folks, I read a lot of books about the paranormal and ended up really scaring myself most of the time. Throughout my teens I slept with the light on. Fortunately I shook this off when I grew up. I became a hardened and pragmatic cynic... happy days. However, over the past week it's all come back out of nowhere with a vengence. I've became really uptight, frightened of being alone in the house and particularly freaked out at night. What a muckle jessy. I hoped the shrink would give me some benzos but no. I mean I know benzodiazepines are addictive and perhaps they should not be prescribed willy nilly to folks with mild anxiety but for goodness sake... I'm a manic depressive!... I'm a fully certified raving mad lunatic who is freaking out! If I can't drop a Valium who can? Hmmmm... hang on... I'm gonna chant my mantra and chill.

Anyway, the shrink thinks I should try Imipramine as my next antidepressant. It has a mild calming/sedative effect which should help reduce my fear of the bogey man. I said although I was still labile and tearful at times, I didn't feel down or depressed and I'd like to try a period without an antidepressant (and I wasn't just in the huff about not getting Valium!). The pirate didn't concur and subsequently I am now on Tofranil (Imipramine).

He also "encouraged" me to accept a support worker to help "get me out" when Mrs Mo is working. I say "encouraged" but he was quite pushy when I declined. He described the scenario and I thought it sounded horrible, meeting someone downtown to go to a cafe or the community centre a couple of times a week. At best I would feel like an "imbecile" being taken out and put on public display, and at worst some kind of social prostitute. I continued to say no and the shrink became very forceful. Eventually he asks my wife... she says if Mo says no then it's no! Yeeeaaahhh!!!! That's my baby! I was really proud of her for supporting me.

In the afternoon we went out for a run in the car. Out to Linton Kirk, which is the most beautiful small church in the world. I'm not religious but it is a beautiful quiet stone building which is really nice to sit in and gather your thoughts. We attended a wedding there a few years back and it was a lovely intimate setting.

An old legend surrounds the hill on which the Kirk stands on. There are marks on the hillside, apparently caused by the thrashing of a huge worm (steady ladies). The Linton Worm apparently ate cattle and terrorised villagers until it was eventually slain by John Sommerville.

Driving through this beatiful, rural landscape, steeped in legend, Mrs Mo and I began to discuss how great it would be to live in the countryside. Conveniently forgetting things like wild February snowdrifts and running out of milk on a Sunday evening. Yeah, it would all be great, all so idyllic. Then we turned a corner........

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Thursday was a bad day.
Thursday was not going to get any better.
Thursday was one of those "go back to bed and hope tomorrow is better" days.
And that's exactly what I did on Thursday.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

My strange kind of one-sided (i.e. downsided) lability persists, whereby the mere whiff of sentimentality reduces me to tears. I'm loathe to test it out but I'm pretty sure that even listening to Little Jimmy Osmond singing "Long Haired Lover From Liverpool" would cause me to instantly burst out crying... and for all the wrong reasons! While I've always been an excitable person, ready to burst into song and dance at the drop of a hat, crying has never been my style, so I'm hating every minute of this pathetic whinging.

On the bright side... my dizziness is now reducing. Rather than being constant, it has only been intermittent today... which is brilliant! So hopefully it has been the Mirtazapine that's been causing it and it will wind down now.

Today was a thoroughly miserable and dreach day, thick with fog and persistent rain. We had considered spending the day at home arguing but instead decided to visit Edinburgh Butterfly Farm.

Although I was pleased to get some good pictures of the butterflies, I was not so enthusiastic about the 3:00pm session with the creepy crawlies. About half a dozen "kids" gathered to watch. I was feeling very old around these youngsters when one girl who looked about 12 turned to us and announced that she was a primary school teacher doing a reccy on the place before bringing her class next week! I left Mrs Mo to handle the spiders, snakes, cockroaches and centipedes while I went off and sat on a bench and looked at the fish.

We decided to leave the young people and join the elderly folks across the road at Dobbies Garden Centre. If you want to feel young, go to a garden centre! Dobbies is no exception. As soon as we entered we were surrounded by grey haired folks with wrinkled, yellow skin, wearing sensible clothes and looking for the toilets. Soon our batteries were recharged and once again we were feeling like teenagers, ready to move on. We jumped in the car and set course for Pizza Hut. As we drove across Edinburgh in the darkness, Mrs Mo commented that she had not seen a single Christmas tree. Usually there's always at least one person who is overenthusiastic and puts their tree up in mid October. I scanned all the houses we passed... nothing... nada... zilch. Nothing that was, until we came to the junction of Ferniehill Road and Old Dalkeith Road and then WOW!!!!!! The house on the corner was covered in huge decorations from the rooftop to the front gate. Far out, well done folks! We watched in amazement for a while, until the car horns tooting behind us became unbearable, and then moved on.

It had been a long time since I had been in Pizza Hut and boy was I in for a shock. Not that the food wasn't good, no, the cajun chicken pizza with sour cream dip was excellent. No, the shocking thing was that God had played a dreadful trick on us. The average age of the diners was THREE! I could see them looking at me, like I was some ancient Egyptian mummy who had lost his bandages and run out of embalming fluid. This was Dobbies in reverse. God I hate being old!
I said I would try and be more upbeat this time (apologies to Jane in comments below and thanks for your support) so here we go! Oh, before we go, could I just say that I keep getting an "error" when trying to post comments in other folks' blogs. I have tried to post comments to about 40 blogs (all using Blogger) and failed. I think I'll have to investigate my PC settings. Hmmm.... moving on...

Anyway, this was funny... I came across "The Psychiatric Hotline" which is worth a quick read if you fancy a laugh My favourite switchboard option was... "If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be transferred to the mother ship".

Meanwhile back on earth, life proceeds slowly. Mrs Mo and I took the neighbours' dog down to the woods yesterday and spent the afternoon throwing sticks. He would happilly play this game forever (as would we probably).

On the way back, we came across this spooky old underground water tank. It was too much like something out of a Stephen King book for me, so we quickly moved on.

I spent the evening surfing the net (certainly the nearest thing to surfing I could manage at the moment!). Once in bed, sleep eluded me again and I lay anxiously awake until Mrs Mo (God bless her), sick of my tossing and turning, went downstairs and returned with a glass of milk and one of our few remaining Temazepam tablets . I thought it took me about an hour to fall asleep but apparently I was snoring within a couple of minutes.

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

I'm afraid this is going to be a very negative post, you may well wish to give today a miss and return another day.

Well, here goes... things went from bad to worse on Sunday. Once we had returned home, I found myself becoming more emotional for no apparent reason. We went out for a meal in the evening and I started crying during the meal. Fortunately the restaurant was virtually empty (it did not spoil the enjoyment of my sirloin steak!... how superficial I am) and nobody noticed. That night I was unable to sleep and after much tossing and turning in the wee small hours, I rifled through our stash of medicines and took some Temazepam which did the trick.

I felt thoroughly miserable on the Monday; back pain, dizziness and crying at the drop of a hat. I eventually got out of bed in the afternoon and we went for a long walk in the country (Mrs Mo is on holiday this week).

I used to enjoy playing an online trivia game, the now defunct "Trivia Free For All", so was pleased to discover that there is a new live game Trivbot with questions and live chat running 24/7. I signed in and was soon enthusiastically typing in answers but screaming "fek" when the American autohost failed to recognise my British English spelling. I was quickly scolded by a lady who found "fek" offensive. I know it sounds very childish but this really upset me, particularly as it was the first time I had managed to participate in anything like this for a couple of years. I can't believe how fickle I am nowadays. I have never been a macho tough guy but c'mon, there is a happy medium.

At bedtime I was getting increasingly wound up, feeling miserable and constantly dizzy, so decided to stop taking my Mirtazipine. I'm sure it was making me worse rather than better, although I have no doubt The Pirate will not agree with me on Friday.

On the way to bed the cat added insult to injury by screaming at me...

Once in bed, I eventually fell asleep but I had several vivid nightmares. Later I lay awake, listening to the noises of the house and the wind howling outside. I thought I heard phones ringing and voices whispering threats to me. It was 4:30am, way too late for Temazepam but I took another trip to the medicine drawer and found some Diazepam which enticed me into a beautiful sleep.

If you're still reading, you'll be glad to know that's the end of my moaning. I promise to be more upbeat next time. Sorry folks, I can't believe I'm such a twat.

Sunday, 12 November 2006

The sabbath is such a wasted day for atheists like me. I mean, Sunday is such an ideal day for going to church, it seems such a shame not to go. I wasn't always a heathen, I was actually originally brought up a Roman Catholic. Unfortunately I went to a Catholic primary school and had an overzealous teacher called Miss Coogan, who assured me that I would burn in the fires of hell for all eternity, everytime I committed a minor misdemeanour. By the time I was about 7 years old, I had reasoned that it was pretty unlikely that this perfect creature they called God would wish to torture a small child like me with such enthusiasm. And once I had dismissed God, it wasn't long before Santa Claus and the tooth fairy followed suit. Nowadays Sundays are lazy days for long lies, lounging around, going for walks and doing the odd bit of shopping... err.... ahem... actually that about sums up every day for me nowadays! Anyway, today was no different, Mrs Mo went swimming in the morning and after lunch we headed off to Edinburgh. I had put Abba's Greatest Hits onto CD and played it in the car. We only got as far as Track 2 - "Mama Mia", when I found myself greetin' and snotterin' (translates roughly as 'crying profusely'). Apparently I still can't listen to music at all. I guess my mood is still nowhere near as good as the shrink thinks it is.

Anyway, we went up to Fort Kinnaird (above) and I bought a new camera which I'm looking forward to trying out over the next few days. On the way back from Edinburgh, we stopped on Soutra Hill to take some pictures of the windfarm. Unfortunately the sun was setting in the opposite direction and the windmills looked extremely bland. Fortunately, (being a Scotsman), I was able to persuade some sheep to pose for a final photo from my old camera...

My back has been a wee bit better today... but just in case you think I've stopped moaning about my physical complaints... oh no, I'm afraid not! I've still got persistent dizziness, and pins and needles around my head. I think it's coming from my neck, probably injured during my recent ECT. Fortunately it's not painful at all but it is really irritating and unbalancing. I have now decided I shall never have ECT again.

Yesterday I found myself in the "Mood for Dancing" (as the Nolan Sisters would have sung in 1979). For the first time in ages I felt like listening to some music. So I popped over to Mininova to see if there was anything I recognized. Surprisingly, two of the days Top 10 downloads were, 10CC's Greatest hits and Abba's Greatest Hits, I had expected it all to be dance and rap. There must be loads of old farts like me downloading music this week! (You need to use a program like BitTornado to download the tunes.) Unfortunately, by the time I had them on my hard drive, the moment had passed and I was no longer interested. I haven't listened to any music for a couple of years.

Outside it was a bitterly cold day. Mrs Mo and I spent the afternoon at my sisters' house, our usual weekend ritual of reminiscing over funny experiences we had in our otherwise miserable childhoods.

At night we rented a DVD, bought in some booze, turned the heating up full blast and battened down the hatches. Like most immature men, I usually enjoy Jim Carey's childish, slapstick sense of humour. I had been looking forward to "Fun with Dick and Jane" but I'm afraid I failed to understand it or laugh at it and I ended up going away to bed before the end.

Friday, 10 November 2006

My back is still sore from the ECT but I've tried to keep on the move. Rather than sit about resting today, I went for a walk through the woods. It's lovely at this time of year, with all the leaves falling and lying on the ground.

I'm really lucky to have these woods just at the bottom of my street. The lane you see above, is the long since disused entrance road to an old country estate.

I've just noticed how positive I'm beginning to sound. What a complete turnaround from a couple of weeks ago. It may have screwed up my back but I reckon the old electric shock treatment has worked wonders on my brain cells.

Thursday, 9 November 2006

My back pain was even worse this morning (much worse than my depression) so I resolved not to have any further ECT. I discussed this with the Pirate (my psychiatrist) at the hospital, who agreed to discharge me. I subsequently popped into the day hospital and thanked them for repeatedly electrocuting me with such kindness, it was really emotional as all the staff (some good friends) came out to say farewell. I really can't thank the staff of the Day Procedures Unit at my local hospital enough, for their care and kindness, they were all brilliant, professional and soooo nice, without exception. It sounds daft but I would have no reservations about going back for ECT at any point in the future.

Current medication:
Mirtazapine 15mg
Lithium Carbonate 1200mg
Simvastatin 40mg
Aspirin 75mg

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

I had ECT #9 yesterday, unfortunately my lower back was even worse afterwards. The hospital were helpful however, gave me a hot-pack and arranged for a physio to see me, who gave me some exercises to do.

My Venlafaxine has been reduced to 75mg daily and I have been prescribed Mirtazapine 15mg daily.

I came home yesterday evening and am keen to get my last electrocution over with on Friday.

Saturday, 4 November 2006

I remained fairly chirpy until yesterday morning when I received ECT #8. As usual I slept for most of the remainder of the day. Afterwards, I felt pretty flat and was certainly not happy that I had to remain in hospital again overnight. My lower back is really sore now. I must remember next time to ask for a lower voltage or more muscle relaxant when they zap me.

Mrs Mo picked me up this morning and we went for a country walk on the way home. We were surprised to see a hunt taking place as we thought hunting with dogs was now illegal in Scotland. Fortunately from our viewpoint (and not the hunts') we could see the large, dog fox making it's getaway across the lower fields.

It was great to get home. I was wearing a bandana and as I approached my front door I heard the 5 year old boy next door shouting... "Pirate! Pirate!"... which was a hilarious coincidence. We took the other neighbours' dog on a walk up to my sister's. Despite the icy November weather, he was repeatedly in and out of the river and splashing about.

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

I went back to the bin on Monday morning. The Pirate (my psychiatrist) was in a very serious mood. He suggested we increase the charge for my last two ECTs, though this was not without risk. I thought... oh yeah, here we go, the magic black box trick. It's like when they ask you to sign for this really potent pill they are going to try, then you give you a placebo, usually a vitamin tablet. Anyway, I says "fine". He also reduced my Venlafaxine again, to 150mg.

The Pirate (my psychiatrist)

Tuesday morning I'm taken down to the hospital and getting a bit nervous about this big blast I may be about to receive. Although I think I'm looking nonchalant and cool as a cucumber in front of the nurses... I'm obviously not... the nurses sense my unease and bring the High Electrocutioner through to the waiting room. Fortunately the ECT shrink is an old friend of mine and quickly reassures me not to worry... "It's OK. You've already had the bigger charge, I gave you it last time!".... frazzin razzin!

Next, into the operating theatre and I'm asked "Is it OK if a medical student attends?"... "Fine" I reply... suddenly this girl in blues steps forward, eyes wide open like she's about to see her first public execution, she moves close to me and stares and stares at me. I'm tempted to tell her I have chlamydia but my anaesthetic starts to kick in and I drift off.

Later I wake as usual, completely disorientated and confused but am easily calmed with tea and toast. I don't sleep as much as I usually do for the remainder of the day and when Mrs Mo picks me up in the evening I can't shut up and talk all the way home. She thinks I'm much better... and I think she could be right! I'm certainly much more animated. I was unable to sleep last night, so took 10mg Temazepam. Even then I only slept for about 2 hours. This could be bad news because insomnia usually means mania to me. I hope I'm not going to start rapid cycling.

Shit, I'm writing too much... I think I'll go for a walk... Hmmm.

Saturday, 28 October 2006

I felt thoroughly miserable today. Eventually crawled out of bed around 2pm and helped my wife tidy up the garden for a while. She then took me for a drive around town after which I went back to bed.

I seem to be wallowing in self pity today. Pining for all the hobbies I've lost... playing the guitar, singing, fishing, walking, cycling and going out. Life seems so empty now. I go back to the hospital in the morning. If this weeks ECT doesn't bring about any change I think I'll call it a day with the shrink. None of the pills have helped me, the ECT isn't working and the nurses just leave me to lie in bed 24/7.

We visited my sister then the in-laws this afternoon. We talked about the weather and how all the leaves are falling from the trees, all sorts of chit-chat... bar lunacy... my condition is never mentioned. In fact the only person who looks me straight in the eye and asks "how are you doin'?" is Sheila, one of my neighbours. She seems completely unperturbed about my depression, it's so refreshing. Always a pleasure to meet her.

Saturday night without alcohol was a real pain. I begged the missus but she was adamant... no booze! So I'm going to do the mature thing and go to bed early in the huff. Goodnight!

Friday, 27 October 2006

The shrink was in a really foul mood yesterday, nothing positive to say, playing with his phone and palm-pilot throughout our meeting, which really cheered up my wife... NOT! Anyway, I had ECT#6 this morning, all uneventful as far as I know. I slept for most of the day. Late afternoon a doctor took bloods to check my LFTs (Liver Function Tests). "Have they been abnormal?" I asked (I knew my Ggt had been elevated in the past), he went and checked my previous bloods and returned "No they are all fine". I was going to ask well why are you checking them then but I fell asleep again.

Anyway I'm back home for the weekend now... yay! ..... but the wife has removed all the alcohol... boo!

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Heading back to the loony bin this morning after one nights pass. Due to be fried again tomorrow.
Venlafaxine has again been reduced to 225mg.

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Just when things were starting to go well, I go and reveal myself as a psychopath. After writing the last entry (on Friday), I sat down, had a few drinks and went to bed. Woke up in the night came down and sank a bottle of rum and then decided to go walkabout. By the time I got to my old school it was about 9am. Being a Saturday, everything was locked up, so I broke in through a back door and went for a nostalgic trip around. Unfortunately all the classroom doors were locked. After about 10 minutes of suffering, I suddenly realised what the horrible noise was... the alarm! I found a hiding place in the gym, a cupboard full of exercise mats.

Soon I heard the front doors bang open and the sound of footsteps approaching... didn't sound like the Police to me. I heard a woman's voice and slight footsteps cross the gym towards the cupboard... eek! "Please don't get a fright" I said as the doorhandle turned "I promise not to hurt you"... "Have you been there all night?" the lady asked repeatedly, before saying aside "Wait there Lyndsey, I'm going to get help", the lady then ran away. I thought it best that I run off too, so left the cupboard only to find a small child standing alone, poor wee soul. However the best thing I could do was get out of the place.

I was on the run now, so went to the off-licence, bought a half bottle of rum and took the next bus to Edinburgh. Spent a while sitting in St James centre then found the next bus home. On arrival home I was hugged by Mrs Mo and then the Police arrived. They all said I was to go back to the loony bin which I duly did.

Been in bed most of the time. Got ECT #5 yesterday and am now home till tomorrow morning.