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.