Tuesday, 23 December 2008

I felt a change come over me on Monday. Not the slow metamorphosis from Autumn to Winter but a sudden zap on the remote control from ITV to BBC. My merry jig has become dirge.

I had been immersed in "get rich quick schemes", spending hours completing online surveys and reviews where 30 minutes work gets you 20p. I also was planning on going back to work until my musical career took off. All pretty much nonsense.

Now my sleep is all screwed up, I am distracted, anxious and disinterested. I only hope I can manage to perform in my clown persona for the family on Christmas Day.

Public blogging feels wrong and I'm considering locking this up.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Yesterday I went to my old workplace to meet my old colleagues... the whole two of them... there were only three of us in the team and we were incredibly close. Outwardly I was in great form and held court, frantically acting out anecdotes such as tales of my sister in the car. It was great to see the girls but it was strange to see someone else sitting in my chair! I was left with the rickety crappy visitors chair. It was a bit like coming home and finding another man had moved in with the missus and you were supposed to be all smiley and chatty over a cup of tea.

It was the first time I had been in the office since I broke down in tears and left three years ago. I almost wanted to beg... "Can I come back? I can start again on Monday". I'm going through one of those phases when I think I'd love to be working again. Obviously I have the rose tinted specs on and have conveniently forgotten all the crap stuff. I was once again looking at local volunteer opportunities. But I know it would only be a transient thing, just a matter of time before I became a housebound, antisocial, moaner again. I'd be terrified of losing my benefits and having to go through another year of seeing the doctor weekly, getting sicklines and once again trying to fill out that monstrous form to claim DLA... well I say fill it out, my wife and a benefits officer sweated over it while I spent a few weeks in bed.

Speaking of benefits I see the government are once again terrorising the sick and needy by threatening to remove benefits from anyone not working. Private companies are to be paid to "help" disabled people into work... I have a vision of debt collector's henchmen threatening to break both your legs if you don't sign on the dotted line. James Purnell is adamant that anyone not in full time work within two years will lose their benefits. Err... have I got this right??? If your doctor has deemed you too sick to work and if the DWP have granted you the high level of DLA due to your disability you will now have to work full time to get benefits... isn't that just making people work, people who have been medically certified as too ill to work? I don't understand this. God help people who are terminally ill... Mo envisages chemo patients forced into Alabama style chain gangs... the click of a shotgun then..."come on you, get in the fuckin' ditch and dig the hole!"

All the biased reporting on TV does not help at all. Invariably we see interviews with healthy looking people whose main complaint is that they'd be worse off financially by working. No wonder the bleedin' taxpayers are out to lynch us! Obviously whatever creepy politicians like James Purnell say must be taken with a pinch of salt but if he actually believes all this crap then the bloke is a nutter. Oops... pot.. kettle.. black... he must be mad when a loony calls him a nutter! It would be interesting to see Mr Purnell turn into a workshy layabout and lounge around in luxury... thriving on the huge sum of £63.75 per week which would rise eventually to the maximum of £84.50. How come the national minimum wage is £5.73 an hour, normal people cannot be expected to survive below this. For someone working a 40 hour week this equates to £229.20. Why is it that normal people cannot be expected to live on less than £229 but those on Incapacity Benefit are expected to live on £63.75 a week. Are we subhuman? Are we not men? Are we Devo?

It's not all bad news though. While the sick are left to rot, there is some good news for single parents on benefits...

Meanwhile back in the mundane world of yours truly. Mrs Mo has gone to her work's Christmas party. I was all worked up about this last year but this year I am cool as she is driving and so will not be drinking. So I have no fears of her going out on the piss, clubbing till the wee small hours. Part of me wishes I was going out tonight. As The Nolans once famously sang "I'm In The Mood For Dancing". Ya gotta dig those spandex pants...

Instead I'm here downing a box of cheap red wine (yes my drinking has once again accelerated) and wishing I was out on the town as well shaking my tailfeather... not a pretty sight.. perhaps it's just as well to protect the masses that I keep my old fat body in front of the monitor.

So what am I doing. I've just listened to the best Christmas album of all time, A Christmas Gift For Youfrom the crazy gun wielding genius Phil Spector. Fair enough the guy is a probably a psychokiller and even worse than that he wears the worst wigs on the planet.... yes even worse than Elton's... but what a producer! I can't believe this was made in 1963... that's 45 years ago! This is a fantastic album featuring Darlene Love who is one of the greatest vocalists of all time.

She has that amazingly distinctive slow vibrato at the end of her phrases. Despite being head and shoulders above her peers, she never really achieved any real commercial success. She ended up singing backing vocals for all the major Motown artists. Ironically she is best known for playing Danny Glover's wife in the Lethal Weapon movies... how fuckin' crass is that... it's like Mozart being best known for appearing on an incest special on the Jerry Springer show... shame on the world. You will recognize her fantastic voice instantly on Winter Wonderland...

Thursday, 11 December 2008

My wife picked up my prescription yesterday. I wasn't sure if I'd get 7 or 14 temazepam tablets... well it must be fekn Christmas cos I got 28 of them!!! Yabadabadoo! God bless old Portillo, the man is a saint. Although I have hardly had a drink since I got the cold a few weeks ago, last night I indulged myself in an orgy of wine and temazepam and subsequently slept for 7 hours. Sheer bliss. I feel so much better after having a good night's sleep. Fuck fluoride in the water, benzodiazepines for the masses I say!

Yesterday I went to Edinburgh and bought myself a new guitar. I know, I know... ICD F30.0... "mild overspending"... well fuck hypomania, I'm having a good time and for the first time in ages I'm going to enjoy myself and make the most of it. To hell with the consequences. This is my new baby, isn't she beautiful...

I've also broken my rule about getting involved in other peoples blogs. One of the reasons I don't have a blogroll and avoid getting involved in the "madosphere" is that it became a full time job for me. I would spend all day reading and commenting on blogs. Eventually I decided to cut out the lot and try and focus on the real world. This week however I have became absorbed in other folk's stuff and throwing in my tuppence worth at the drop of a hat. I only hope I'm not being patronising or pissing people off. They all seem so intense and I'm so fekn shallow and superficial.

I have discovered this amazing blog which outlines an RMN's admission to a psychiatric hospital and also rediscovered Mandy who thows in some great videos (from the Smiths to Aerosmith) amongst all the psychological shit. I think I wrote a big reply on Seaneen's blog about bipolar and creativity. I don't think I got my point across at all. I failed to say that out of all the artists I know, none of the musicians I know are bipolar... but all of the bipolars I know are creative in some way. Shit. Why am I bothering about this? I don't know. I'm getting irritable. I should be in bed but here I am mind buzzing and typing out crap at 100mph.

Speaking of creative stuff, I haven't posted anything yet off my last album. It's time for me to show off now. Yeah! You'll be glad to hear there is no bipolar theme to this song. It's just the usual run of the mill, self pitying, whining love song. Just the usual piece of angst from the ever tortured artist... this would be OK if I was a teenager... but a middle aged man?... Sheesh... this is lo-fi but wtf... let's rock...

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

On Saturday I drove to Glasgow to explore the woods with the stranger. He had brought a friend with him and as we made our way through the suburban housing scheme and up into the woods I did wonder if I was doing the right thing. I thought if one of them pulls out a banjo and starts singing cajun songs I'm out of here!

Fortunately they turned out to be two really nice genuine blokes who led me to the water tower. Unfortunately we got there only to discover a shiny new padlock on the gate. I was happy just to wander about but they were insistent that we go in after me travelling all that way. The fence was about 8 feet high with sharp spikes on top... so they started to dig underneath. it was like a scene out of Colditz as the smallest guy lay on his back trying to wriggle through a foxhole. He eventually got through but there was no way my massive gut could get through. So there was more lengthy digging and eventually I dragged my huge bulk across the mud under the fence as if I was doing a bushtucker trial.

Once inside the perimeter fence we climbed up the dark and crumbling stairs to the roof. I thought we would see for miles but of course forgot we were in a woodland of Scot's Pine so would see very little apart from trees. Regardless of the views it was a great experience, somewhere I'd always wanted to go since I was a kid and it still looked like an ominous building out of Doctor Who. I had to walk quite a bit away to get it all in so it's hard to see the scale of it from this photo. The auction description describes it as ... The water tower (30m x 21.5m and 15m high approx), is a large concrete water tank supported on concrete legs approximately 6m above the ground.

Probably the best bit was all the graffiti underneath on the supports...

On Sunday I was back in Glasgow again. We went up to exchange Christmas presents with my brother and his family. He is the only one of my four brothers that I have any contact with. One of my other brothers has a woman and a kind of step family. I think the other two are pretty much solitary guys who live alone in relative poverty. Although I certainly don't wish for either of them to return like the prodigal son on my doorstep on Christmas Eve, full of hugs and love and stuff. God no, I'd be scared they wanted to move in and eat me out of house and home. They were almost a generation older than me and I never really got to know them as we lived in different parts of the country from when I was 9. I only saw these men awkwardly and briefly at Christmas times and divorced myself from them completely after their selfish behaviour when my mother died. So there's no real love lost between us but I still feel a bit guilty about them being alone at Christmas and only wish there was someway of sending a card that said Happy Christmas but please don't visit.

Anyway, back to our visit to the family in Glasgow. We took my sister up with us. Unfortunately my sister is the most neurotic person in the world and almost goes into neurogenic shock at traffic lights or any slight movement in the car such as going round a corner. So it was quite a journey.

We met up with my brother, his wife, two daughters, one boyfriend and a cousin. Sometimes things can be a bit dry and staid if we all sit in the house and try and make conversation but this time we all went out for lunch together and I was in top form, telling anecdotes and overacting at 100mph. I completely monopolised the day as I often do but I think it went down well (smiling faces, no hint of fear in the eyes) and was better than silence. So I think it all went down a treat.

My insomnia has persisted since stopping the quetiapine last week. I am still lying awake at 2am despite going to bed alcohol free at 10pm. I have tried imagining I am lying on the beach with the warm sun on me etc... but then I get wrapped up in the whole holiday vision and start to worry about the hotel room and where we shall go for dinner. So, I have started taking chlorpromazine 25mgs at night (from a secret stash). I've taken it 3 nights now and it's helped me get away to sleep although I have had palpitations when getting up in the morning. So I phoned the CMHT today. They said Moonstone was in a meeting for another 15 minutes but they would get her to call me back when she came out. I waited.... no reply. I gave up and decided this was the last time they would screw me around. I was never going to have anything to do with the CMHT again. Much to my surprise a couple of hours later I got a call from Dr Woodstock. As usual she was really nice. I was dreading all the suggestions about hot drinks, baths, soft music, lavender under the pillow, etc... thankfully she didn't bother repeating anything like this (she had mentioned some of these at our last meeting)... and went straight to suggesting an antipsychotic prescription. I wasn't keen on this and when she asked me if I'd had any probs with my (unprescribed) chlorpromazine I told her about the palpitations and returning oedema. I suggested an hypnotic but she wasn't keen at all, she wanted to try another antipsychotic like the dreaded risperidone. I pushed for benzos and she wasn't going for it emphasising how addictive they were. I retorted well how bloody ill do you need to be to get them? On yer deathbed? Apart from the dependence... if taken only as required they beat the pants off all the other crap as far as side effects are concerned. Eventually she reneged and agreed to a hypnotic... but only for a week. She said she'd need to discuss it with my GP, she would go away and put on her thinking cap and speak to him. I should get a prescription of some sort in the chemist by the end of the day. Dr Woodstock is wayyyy better than the pirate, I am so chuffed.

Portillo (my GP) has just phoned me. As ever he was obsessed about my alcohol intake. I explained I wasn't really drinking since getting the cold a few weeks ago. He didn't sound very convinced when I said I was only taking about a glass of wine every 2-3 days at the moment. We had a bit banter about converting an ECG machine into a lie detector and he then said he was prescribing me temazepam 10-20mg at night. YOOOOOWWWWZAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, 5 December 2008

Well the past couple of days have been odd since stopping the quetiapine. On the one hand I'm full of fun (still saying "ow are ye mate" to myself continuously and laughing) and on the other hand I don't feel too well.

I'll get the negative stuff over with first. I've been feeling nauseous all the time, so I'm no longer snacking (read that as stuffing my face like a pig) like I usually do. But then I start to wonder if the nausea is hunger, so I eat something then I feel sick again. I haven't been sleeping well either. Instead of falling unconscious as soon as my head hits the pillow I've been lying awake with all sorts of crap running through my head then getting up for a cup of tea then sleeping from about 3am until 7am. I'm not racing about during the day and although a bit anxious, I don't feel pressured. So I don't think I'm hypomanic.

I have been reluctantly wondering if I am having a wee withdrawal from quetiapine as the symptoms are apparently nausea and nervousness. I say reluctantly as I'm not a great believer in withdrawals. I surprisingly had no probs stopping smoking after smoking heavily for 30 years, I was a patient in a medical ward at the time so had to stop, so just stopped (it probably helped that I was acutely psychotic at the time and had forgotten I smoked). I've been fortunate in never having any withdrawal symptoms coming off any of the multitude of psychotropic meds I've had in the past. Anyway I've just taken some Rantidine so hopefully that will help.

On the plus side I'm in very good fettle. I was reading a news article today about a guy in Malaysia who had been murdered for hogging the microphone at a karaoke bar. I've heard of plenty of people murdering a song but never the singer. Poor chap... but I couldn't stop laughing. If I'm ever murdered at a karaoke bar, I hope I go down singing some really crap song... something cheesy from the 80's like Kajagoogoo. Imagine being killed for singing something by Kajagoogoo. It would make for a great epitaph and a great eulogy and maybe even some great headlines....

Also on my news feed was an item about Condoleezza Rice wanting South Africa to put more pressure on Mugabe to quit. Google kindly throw in little topic related ads to my reader. This time this one came up....

Cheap flights to Harare... why the fuck are advertisers trying to entice Brits to holiday in Zimbabwe??? Crazy. Where shall we go this year darling... Zimbabwe? Iraq? North Korea?

Tomorrow I'm going to meet a stranger I recently met on the internet. there's an old water tower in the woods where I used to live in Glasgow which is soon to be demolished. It's quite an amazing structure and I'm really keen to photograph it. Anyway, this guy has agreed to be my guide so I'm off to meet him tomorrow. My wife is already wondering how to explain my impending disappearance to the police...

"So missus, you're telling us that your husband arranged to meet a strange man he'd only spoken to once on the internet... drive 100 miles to a housing scheme in Glasgow, walk into some dark woods with him so that they could break into an old disused water tower. Hmmm... we'd better get the sniffer dogs out and start the manhunt. There's been a murrrrder!"

I'm sure it'll all be fine.... hmmm... thinks back to ICD F30.0 "increased sociability, over-familiarity and other types of reckless and irresponsible behaviour". Naaahhhh!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

I was just reading Seaneen's post about accidently saying "Thankyou mummy" to a shop assistant. By strange coincidence I had a sort of similar experience in the supermarket last night.

Although he has been recently deemed to be the antichrist by many of the hugely tolerant people of middle England, I am a huge fan of Russell Brand.

I was in stitches at his TV programme, Ponderland, last week.There was this bit about a guy with an oscilloscope sound generator thingy which kept saying "How are you mate?". You can listen in the player below...

Well I've never stopped repeating it. Over the past few days I've been going around the house saying "'ow are ye mate?" and then just about pissing myself laughing. It just keeps getting funnier and funnier.

Anyway, last night I went with the missus to the supermarket and I was busy packing bags at the checkout when I suddenly adopted the deep robotic voice and said to myself...."How are you mate?". Well, much to my horror, the young woman on the till turned round her her chair, smiled, looked me in the eye and said "Oh I'm fine thanks how are you?".

What a fekn dilemma!!!! I didn't know how to respond. She obviously thought that was my normal voice... what should I do now. If I speak normally she will wonder why I spoke like a robot a second ago and think I am a nutter. But if I try and continue to speak like Stephen Hawking I will crack up and piss myself. Either way she will think I am mad.

I swithered for what seemed a lifetime and then did what was probably the daftest option available and attempted to do a cross between my normal voice and a deep robotic voice... "Fine thanks. Cold outside isn't it". She was probably working on autopilot as she just beamed back and returned to swiping the items. Sometimes it's nice to be ignored.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

I am now off quetiapine completely!
And I feel grrrrrreat!!!!

I hate taking pills at the best of times but those muthas were not my cup of tea at all. I met with Moonstone this morning. She asked with a suspicious look in her eye if I was still taking them and I said yes... well up until this morning anyway. She said I'd done well to persist and taper them off gradually and then she agreed to stop them completely. Yabadabadoo!!!!!!

I don't know if it's been with my cold or the reduction in quetiapine but there has been a big change in me physically. The other day I suddenly noticed I could once again cross my legs... I had a look under my trousers and saw my shinbones... hadn't seen them for months! There's always been about an inch of oedema over them. All the oedema has gone. I dashed to the scales... 17 stones 6 pounds instead of 18st 3lbs... that's 11 pounds!!!!!! Couldn't possibly be weight loss. I must have been carrying 11 pounds of fluid all thanks to my dear friend quetiapine. Great to see it all melt off me, I thought I was peeing a lot last week.

So Dr Woodstock is happy with my progress and left it up to me when we would meet again. December 24th or 14th January, I opted to leave it until after Christmas, so six weeks until my next appointment. Moonstone was really nice and encouraged me to phone her if I should have any problems in the interim. I forgot to wish her a happy Christmas... doh!

We've had some wintry weather here over the last week and my pal Simon, who is a keen photographer, came round yesterday and took me out for the day to take some photos. So here's a couple of mine instead of all the usual plagiarism...

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

I've spent most of the past few days in bed with snots and aches and pains... no they are not three of the seven dwarfs, nor the alternative names for the Rice Krispies... I've still been rotten with the cold/bubonic plague. I thought colds would be much milder since I stopped smoking but they seem to get worse with age. And where the fuck does all that sputum come from? You've no sooner emptied your lungs of a bucket load then you immediately start wheezing and rasping again. How does it synthesize faster than you can cough it out... If only my biceps and beer belly could metabolize as fast as that. I think I've turned the corner now and am finally on the mend but it's making me think about having another three years of virtual isolation and avoiding all germs.

I see in the last comments I've got another request to be some sort of torch bearer for bipolar. Me a "leader"?... err... only of a small anarchist cell to overthrow leaders methinks... "find people in need"... oh gawd... do we need to... there seems to be no shortage of miserable folks on the world wide net. Teetering terabytes packed with blogs of unhappy people longing for a formal diagnosis. Oh I know I'm being a cunt but I feel like shit today and the last thing I needed was to be invited to another group. Groups just aren't my bag baby. Never have been, never will. I have never felt a sense of belonging or affiliation to anything be it a football team or even a country. And like the late and incredibly brave Kirsty MacColl I have no desire to change the world...

I spent 26 years in health care, I don't ever want to go back to it. I gave it 100%, I have no more to give. My days of supporting other folks are done. Finito!

My blog is primarily a personal record for me as my memory has been terrible since they fried my brain. Also, my sense of time is very poor. I can't remember if something happened two months or two years ago. So the blog is basically just my diary and I can easily search it for stuff using the search box.

I also enjoy making the pictures and generally showing off, I always have done.
Finally... and this really is at the bottom of the priority list... I thought it might interest some people to read about my experience as someone with this disorder. In particular, what it is like to see a psychiatrist. I always used to wonder about how they questioned, probed, analysed and therapized you. My experience has not been like this at all. With the exception of my very first appointment where the doc spent an hour gathering background history (which I lied about), the shrinks only asks practical stuff like have you been going out? Instead of spending the day doing nothing is there anything you would like to do? Exactly the same stuff as an ordinary person would, the only big difference is that the shrink also prescribes pills.

Also, my experience is different from other peoples, I don't live in a city, I don't have a crisis team or a day centre. Maybe some day this will be useful to one reader.

I've read a lot of blogs/articles where people write that "THIS IS WHAT ECT IS LIKE", "THIS IS WHAT OLANZAPINE DOES" and they declaim like religious zealots that these are the facts. In the real world however, everyone's experience is different and my experiences provide the reader with just one more viewpoint to add to the many. From all of these they can draw their own conclusions.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

The day after meeting with Woodstock and Shiny Shoes I got an email from my muso friend asking me to play with his blues band on the Saturday night. Their singer had gone down with the cold and apparently I had made an impression at the blues night and they thought I could fill the gap. Only two days warning to get ready for a real gig... ZOIKS! Any nerves I had were quickly brushed aside by dreams of being a guitar hero for the night.

(Apologies for the above shocking image, it does not allude to Seaneen's plant).

So I spent two days playing my socks off, sustaining real, live, bleeding fingers and come Saturday I was high as a kite. We rehearsed all Saturday afternoon and played the gig on Saturday night. The band's guitarist did most of the singing while I took over on lead guitar but I got to do a few songs of my own too and really got in the spirit of it throwing myself into the performance compared to the rather sobre stances of the others. So much so that I got to do the two encores. It was also great to get paid for a change, some money to go towards a new guitar.

I took another trip to Edinburgh on Tuesday to see about buying a new guitar but none of the shops had an Epiphone semi acoustic in stock. The bus journeys were, as ever, adventures. Phones ringing, people answering them loudly in strange languages, drunks smoking fags, walkmans blaring out tinny drum sounds and yobs swearing profusely despite all the old people on the bus. Obviously, the driver, me and everyone else pretends they can't hear all this. I'm really taken aback at how many "Fucks'" and "cunts" are roared aggressively to each other and into phones with no thought of how intimidating this is for other folks. It must be great for politicians in ivory towers talking about congestion charges and getting people onto public transport, they obviously never get on a bus in the real world.

Midweek I met with my old P.A. for lunch which was great. It's the first time for ages I've met up with an ex colleague and it was really nice to see her and catch up with all the gossip. As well as being a colleague she was a great friend so I had none of the old paranoia about NHS staff being out to get me.

After all the week's excitement there was a price to be paid. All this new found mingling with the human race did not come without cost. I felt a tingle in my throat on Thursday night and by Friday morning this had developed into the cold. Real bummer as I was supposed to be going to an open mike session last night. Despite all my aches and pains, I have crawled from my death bed today to write these parting words.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

On Sunday we did lunch with the internet people… *cue scary theme music*....”DA DA DA!!!”.

My fears of meeting a group of psychos were unfounded, they were two lovely, normal couples who chatted away fine and it all went well. It was only afterwards I realised the irony of it. It never occurred to me for one second that I was the psycho that they were coming to meet and I had a bloody cheek thinking that they might be the nutters. Isn’t that weird?

My level of insight into my illness/personality is very hard to explain. Certainly at the moment I consider myself completely normal, albeit with one or two minor issues that need resolved. But were I reviewing someone else with all my history and behaviours I might think differently, well I know I would. I just can’t accept or come to terms with the fact that I am mad. I can’t believe how easily I slipped from the other side. I can almost hear David Byrne singing “And you may ask yourself… Well, how did I get here?”

On Monday my winemaking kit arrived and I spent the afternoon busily sterilizing things like an overworked midwife and got on with the serious business of brewing up some merlot. It should be ready to poison me before Christmas.

Last night there was an interesting programme on TV “How mad are you?” in which 10 people go to stay in a country house. 5 normal people and 5 with psychiatric disorders. There is a team of psychiatrist, psychologist and nurse who purely by remote observation have to work out who is who. It’s basically “Spot the loony” or “I’m a nutter get me out of here”. After a couple of days they had to pick one normal person and one mentally ill. Interestingly the person they all agreed was the best adjusted, normal person turned out to have a chronic illness. As I said above, I don’t really think of myself as a nutter, I certainly have no desire to join something like Mad Pride or wave the flag for bipolar folks as I don’t feel any sense of affiliation to any particular group. I just found it an interesting and programme which was akin to the Rosenhan experiment.

This morning I met with Dr Woodstock and Mr Shiny Shoes. I encouraged Shiny to use the opportunity to ask me any questions he liked but he just kinda blushed and mumbled something like “No it’s OK”. He was sat further back from us and I felt sorry for him as he looked such an awkward observer. Once again he never said a word but at least he did have those very shiny shoes on. I kept imagining Moonstone would suddenly jump up and shriek out “I want those ruby slippers!”

But she didn't. Instead she asked the usual stuff about my mood, sleep, level of activity and sociability. I explained it was all good, I was sleeping around 8 hours a night and feeling very positive about everything at the moment. She once again emphasized that I should be looking for indicators of hypomania and planning to manage these promptly rather than letting things escalate out of hand. Unlike my previous shrink who was a real ignorant bastard and refused to offer my wife any guidelines for responding to concerns about my mood, Moonstone was very clear and helpful about this. One of the difficulties accessing care is that there is no out of hours psychiatrist in our region and NHS24 is such an unbelievably crap service which makes you jump through so many hoops and after many hours responds with “computer says no”. Moonstone says don’t hesitate to contact the CMHT between 9 and 5 for any reason, out of hours contact the acute inpatient unit directly where a nurse led service with access to your records will provide a much better response than NHS24. She wrote all this down on a note for my wife which I very much appreciated as my memory is on par with the 1kb of an old Sinclair ZX81…my first computer.

Then came the difficult subject of medication. My valproate levels are perfect at 78 µg/ml. As I am doing well at the moment, she was loathe to change anything, She argued that she didn’t want to risk me going high and having to go into hospital, end up getting sedated and having to suffer a big comedown. I guess she was following the old adage of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. I insisted however that “it was broke”. Although I am mentally well, I am still grossly obese, sweating with marked oedema (I still can’t get any proper shoes on) and having palpitations on mild exertion. I would like to feel better physically. She asked what I thought was causing this and I said I was sure it was the quetiapine. She eventually and reluctantly agreed to reduce the quetiapine to 50mg at night.

She asked how I’d got on with the lifestyle advisor and I reminded her that I was not a private patient so did not expect to get an NHS appointment before 2015.