Sunday, 1 November 2009
Saturday, 31 October 2009
I couldn't face walking round the neighbourhood. It might sound a bit odd but it's much easier to wander anonymously through the urban hubbub than risk meeting a familiar face here in the rural idyll where I live. So on Thursday I went to Glasgow.
And today I went for a walk in the woods.
I'm actually feeling fairly positive about the future now. Maybe I'll even get back to recording some music soon.
All the posts from February-October were imported from another blog in which I titled every post with a song title. I might try to continue that for a while. It could be a wee quiz... guess the band... no googling!
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
The shrink arrived this morning and I was actually able to engage properly, even making eye contact occasionally. I got the usual lecture about my drinking and she again suggested strongly that I consider treatment for alcohol abuse. Hmmm. But she also focused on my sleep pattern which has been pretty poor. I usually go into hibernation when I'm down, sleeping 18-20 hours a day. Recently I've only been sleeping 4-6 hours per night. So she suggests I take 25-50mg chlorpromazine before going to bed (I've been taking it mostly during the day for anxiety).
She also asked that I chart my mood, sleep, alcohol and drug use. So I'll try and do that for next time. She's not coming back for two weeks which is good.
As ever I had been very apprehensive about the visit but after she left it was like a weight off my shoulders and I felt much brighter. I actually feel a bit driven now and am planning to get going again.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Apparently my depakote levels are fine (76). She has put me back on chlorpromazine 25mgs twice a day and she is coming back next week.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
I began to suffer abdominal anxiety and brain pressure. Too many thoughts, not enough room in the cranium. It felt like hormonal implants had been secreted under my skin which were slowly releasing chemicals into my bloodstream and causing sudden surges of neurotransmitters. My head felt abnormal. Everything in my life became connected, it was all part of one giant bitstream flowing through me. I could hear people talking about me and laughing. Fortunately I still have a stash of chlorpromazine and took some to help calm me down.
I took to my bed not wanting to see anyone. I hated myself for this because I knew it was upsetting my wife. Despite my pathetic charade I managed to continue eating like a greedy pig and sleeping. After a couple of days I got up, for purely selfish reasons, my parcel had finally arrived from Ebay ( I had previously been sure I had been totally ripped off). On getting out of bed my old back pain returned which provided me with a great excuse to start drinking again. Once up and drinking I began to feel more normal again.
This is my second day up. My back is sore and despite my wife setting up my TENS machine (which always helps) I am sat here drinking again in the afternoon. But I guess at least I am writing something and not just staring at the wall with my head full of mad ideas.
I am due to see the shrink tomorrow but I still don't want to leave the house so my wife phoned yesterday to cancel the appointment and see if I could be seen at home. No word back yet.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
I managed to buy a PC on Ebay but it turned out to be a real pig in a poke. It fell apart when I opened the box, parts were misssing and it had numerous faults including a dead battery (obviously I left positive feedback to maintain my perfect image). After 5 days screwing it back together, working on the BIOS, formatting the HD and finally installing Windows and struggling with drivers and conflicts I eventually got the beast working. I frantically sketched down my ideas for songs before they slipped out of the thick, hazy semi-consciousness that is the all new me.
I was about to head off to the radio station for another night of dazzling repartee. Before I left I decided to check the programme schedule in case there was a new presenter on before me. I was stunned to discover that the station had shut down. I got in touch with the manager who presumed I had been sent an email telling me they were closing down due to lack of advertising. Nope. A week later I got an email saying they were starting up again and all was returning to normal. I found this all a bit weird and wondered why they were fucking me about like this. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I said I wasn't up to it just now and would not be returning meantime. He was really nice and said he hoped I would return at some point.
Now that I'm not spending my time preparing radio shows I have started getting involved with other musicians again and once a week going for a jam at a friend's house.
I forgot to say that I paid to have my new album distributed and it is available on various commercial sites including iTunes and Amazon. I also just bought some new recording equipment for the studio. I've also launched new websites as well as new profiles on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc.
Now, the reason I've forgot to mention these things is that I've not been so good these past couple of weeks. The usual stuff; spending more time in bed, not shaving, losing interest in everything, drinking more... and more. I usually try and hold off until making dinner at 4pm but have started having a fly one (or two) at lunchtime. I say a "fly one". Nobody knows but me but I am still trying to trick myself, such is the depth of my intelligence. "depth of my intelligence"... is that a real thing?
Anyway, unfortunately I see the dreaded shrink next week. We'll see what she has to say.
I'm thinking of returning this blog to it's original home as the original URL still tops the search for "uk bipolar blog". I feel guilty for leading folks to an empty page. Not that my crap is worth reading but surely arriving at a page of selfish drivel is better than arriving at a dead blank page.
Saturday, 12 September 2009
Actually it was fine. There were some stereotypical Germans; rude, brash and extremely ill mannered. There were some stereotypical Brits; tattooed, moaning and extremely offensive. There were some stereotypical Italians; smiling, elegant and extremely chilled out. But for the most part everyone was fine. The local Spaniards were without exception; extremely polite, helpful and courteous. And so endeth my brief lesson in racism a la Europa.
As for us perfect homo-sapiens, we lazed around drinking, eating and reading but I had had enough after about 4 days and spent the rest of the time pining for home. No thanks to Depakote but big thanks to Stephen King for helping me through those last few days. Eventually our seven day sentence was up and we returned to the UK tanned and tired. The main thing is that my wife got the break she needed and I got the chance to show off my flair for Spanish... "Dos cervezas por favor!"
I wrote some songs while we were away and am desperate to record them but my audio PC has finally died of old age and obsolescence and so I am currently musically impotent. I am frantically scouring Ebay for a bargain PC that will accept my audio card and drives before the new tunes escape from my head. I am radiating music like an FM transmitter at the moment, if only I had a receiver.
Monday, 31 August 2009
We fly to Spain on Thursday for a weeks holiday. Great? No, I hate holidays. I am a real home-bird. I constantly dreamed of escaping from home as a child but once I got a place of my own, never wanted to leave it. I am still happy with the holy trinity of shelter, food and safety.
I saw the practice nurse on Tuesday. Had bloods done for cholesterol, fasting blood sugar, depakote, LFTs and (I noticed while slyly glancing at the form) a secret blood alcohol was also taken...nudge nudge, say nothing to the patient.
Afterwards I saw another nurse, "the cardiovascular nurse". She checked my blood pressure, it was too high 145/85. She checked it agin, even higher, 150/90. She checked it a third time 165/95. "We'll go with the first one" she decided. Well what was the point in that? Rather than record the most significant reading, do they just keep checking it until they get the lowest reading?
CardioNurse then checked my weight and engaged in the usual patronising crap about diet and exercise. Regular walks would help, I explained I didn't really leave the house due to paranoia. Perhaps I could cut out the biscuits with my afternoon coffee. I explained that I don't have a sweet tooth and don't eat biscuits or chocolates etc. but that anti-psychotics had given me an insatiable craving for carbs such as pasta, rice and potatoes. Had I ever thought about reducing my portion sizes? Wow, what a brilliant idea, despite talking to numerous doctors, psychiatrists, dietitians and lifestyle advisors I had never considered such a radical idea... did she pick up on the irony... I don't know. So much for the joined up working in the health service. Why are people always surprised at the lack of inter-agency communication in social services when NHS staff don't even communicate with each other.
I apologized for forgetting my urine sample yet again (four times in 2 years... "don't worry bring it next time"... I could have went to the toilet and pissed but that would have ruined her schedule), she recorded my weight and my lowest blood pressure reading and that was that for another six months. All the boxes ticked, statistics recorded, targets met and who gives a fuck for the actual patient outcome? Not that I'm bitter ;o)
On the Wednesday I saw the shrink. My wife was with me. There was also a medical student, who as ever remained completely mute. Why do students never ask questions? What is the point of them being there if they don't participate? Why don't they just watch a video? Fuck knows. Anyway, despite feeling below par, because I was busy working on the radio and recording music, the consensus was that I was mildly hypomanic. Hmmph! Well how about some groovy medication. I ask again for Aripiprazole. "No. I don't want to change anything if you'e going on holiday. If you feel you need more sedation take an extra depakote at night". We then had an argument where I reminded her she was always putting things off and it would always be in the future. I would end up having my medication reviewed in 2035 when I would be too old for the relevant meds. Finally she wrote in my notes in block capitals "ARIPIPRAZOLE IF NO IMPROVEMENT" for next time.
The subject of alcohol was broached but I suggested she speak to CardioNurse and informed her of the lovely routine and perhaps they could get their shit together and do some joined up working. You're probably reading this and thinking PSYCHOPATH!!!! But us poor retards do get tired of repeating ourselves and going through the same old shit with different health care workers.
Why isn't there a little card in my notes that says "Binge drinker. Is fully aware of the long term risks of alcohol. Has reduced his drinking from 120 to 70 units per week but is still at the pre-contemplative stage and not ready for change just yet"
Too sensible I guess, must be the clouds in my eyes.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
However, there has been no turbulence in the tummy today. I have not been anxious. I have felt flat, distant, unfazed, detached.
It's been a wasted day though, I have done nothing productive. Just sat around the house. My pal phoned again today and today I decided to answer. I didn't want to but I didn't want him asking my wife why I wasn't answering the phone. She needs her holiday. The show must go on. Anyway, he wanted to pop down and return something he'd borrowed, so down he came. I really wasn't in the mood for chatting but being a real people pleaser (read that as spineless wimp) I indulged. I smiled and tried to look interested although I failed to really perform in my usual pretentious manner. Fortunately he didn't stay long. He wanted me to accompany him to a friends house tonight but I declined.
Again I've had a couple of glasses of wine today... but at least I went to bed early last night and didn't sit up drinking into the wee small hours.
I think my wife has an inkling that I'm heading for a downer but we are both pretending all is well. I hope I'm wrong. I really don't want to let her down.
Monday, 17 August 2009
I lay in the bath for an hour. Not really thinking, just gazing.
I made a cup of tea and wondered what I should do. My stomach began to complain, broadcasting waves of nausea. I could sense the old black dog sniffing around outside and trying to find it's way back home. I am so fickle, so sensitive and so selfish. I am certain I have a personality disorder.
Anyway, I fired up the computer went onto Facebook and swapped my picture for a blank white square. As I was deleting my profile a chat-box popped up. Someone from the room last night said "Good morning". I'm not sure what to do, he's an old friend but he is very close to the lady I offended last night. Any explanation I make will sound pathetic. I don't want to sound like a martyr nor do I want to offend anyone. I ignore him and quickly delete all my friends and that's the end of Facebook. I half expect an email from him asking what's going on but forget that I have already been rude by ignoring his chat this morning. As ever, it's all me, me, me.
I am inactive for the rest of the morning.
The phone rings... caller ID tells me it's a friend. I don't answer. I don't want to speak to anyone today. Nonetheless I feel the need to type this anonymous drivel. Surely a self indulgent plea of "poor me" if ever there was one.
But this is no time for self indulgence. We go on holiday in a couple of weeks. My wife is really looking forward to it. I can't reveal any weakness whatsoever. Got to keep my big smiling mask firmly in place. Especially next week when we see the shrink.
I started drinking early today. Must hide all evidence. So it's time to wash the wineglass, brush my teeth, rinse with mouthwash and have a wee sleep before my wife comes home. I know it's all disingenuous but it's for the best.
Sunday, 16 August 2009
The album is now finished. We have a holiday booked to the current bomb capital of Europe... Palma. Fortunately we have travel insurance so that should ensure a huge family squabble in the event of our deaths, God bless them. We're getting a new bathroom fitted and I'm on the verge of buying a new PC. All good.
I have some on-line friends I "meet up with" in a chat room each Sunday evening for a laugh and some banter. It usually consists of irony, sarcasm and self deprecating stuff. My kinda stuff. This evening however we were joined by an occasional visitor who was telling us how nice their part of the country was. I started "joking" about the negative aspects of her region and the more she retaliated the more I pushed the envelope. True to form I went too far. I had no idea I was offending her until she told me where to go and stormed out of the room.
I used to experience this regularly in the real world, where I all too often misread situations, thinking I was incredibly witty when in fact I was in fact offending someone. However, I have barely left the house over the past 5 years and now only engage with these virtual friends when I am in the mood. So this has come as a bit of a shock to me. I have become so used to being wrapped up in my small cocoon, isolated from real people and real emotions. I feel incredibly guilty. I really didn't mean to offend her, I was trying to make her laugh.
My immediate kneejerk response is to extinguish all ties with the group. Yet I am so inconsistent and shallow I know I never follow through with things in life. So will wait and see what tomorrow brings. Here I am moaning and playing the victim when I have actually hurt someone. What a guy!
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
New album recorded, just need to mix and master it now. The radio thang is going great. Have bought a new bass and a new FX unit. Got Pro-Tools for the PC. Can't wait to get this CD finished and start on the next. Happy days!
Am thinking about doing some voluntary work. Something environmental.
What can possibly go wrong?
Friday, 12 June 2009
I told her I was in good form. I'm much better now and have cut down on my drinking. She asked if I had gone to the addictions team for help and I explained that therapy wasn't my bag and I'd simply cut back on my own. I told her I now have my own show on community radio and that is keeping me occupied and stimulated. She asked when I wanted to see her again (NEVER, I thought!) but I simply said I wasn't in any rush and was happy to leave things as they are at present. We eventually agreed to meet again at the end of August. Making appointments is always such a pain!
I think I'm fine at the moment. Well apart from being grossly obese... and my memory is still very poor... and I'm generally a bit sluggish. I'm not sure if these are permanent defects following ECT or if I'm maybe a bit oversedated with the depakote. I'd love to stop it but I know even suggesting that would be greeted with screams of horror from my wife and the shrink.
Friday, 15 May 2009
I watched a documentary on Peter Green last night. Mr Greenbaum seems to really have got his shit together. Fuck, if he can conquer schizophrenia, surely I can master a simple mood disorder!
I got interviewed on a local internet radio station last Sunday. Played some of my music and made some merry banter... well to be honest I was a bit high and was very bubbly and effervescent. Afterwards I got asked to join and do some presenting... unfortunately my wife told me I should come clean and tell them how unreliable I was. So I sent an email outlining my problem... "I''d really love to do some radio work but unfortunately I am not renowned for long term reliablity. I have bipolar disorder (manic depression) so have periods when I am very bubbly and creative but also have times when my face is tripping me. These phases take place over months rather than days so there is usually plenty of time to make alternative arrangements. I don't know how you'd feel about my lack of long term definite commitment but fully understand if you feel it inappropriate."
Well, imagine my surprise when he replied that part of the remit of the station "is that we try to include members of the community that might otherwise be excluded for whatever reason. We strive for equality and diversity so I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem at all to allow you to come in as and when you wanted to". Wow!!!!
So I'm hoping to get involved in local radio and finally get out of the house. Maybe this will be a good thing for moi?
Thursday, 30 April 2009
I saw the shrink near the end of April. My wife was with me.
The shrink focused on my drinking which is errrr.... heavy I think. About 100 units per week now with one or two all nighters per week now and then. I never get out of my head but more and more I feel the need... well to be honest, crave the need... to drink during the day. By 5pm it's uncontrollable I need to have a glass of wine before tea.
I guess it might be obvious to you distanced readers but to me being a lovely, well rounded, perfect and subjective human being... ha ha ... it was a bit of a shocker for her to tell me that I needed to seek professional help from an addictions service! I mean I know the facts... 21 units per week for a man etc... but in the real world.. ffs... moi???? NEVER!!!
So did I agree? Me, an alcohol problem? Being a mature intelligent person did I ask for help? Naaaahhh. I did the obvious thing. I rationalized it out and denied it all. Me.... I'm nearly 50.... I don't go out... I have a severe, chronic mental illness. Booze is all I have in my otherwise miserable life. Medication does not help me. I know the long term risks with my liver, pancreas, etc. I know it maybe affecting my mood negatively (lying here.. I doubt it), but I'm still gonna drink. I said I would think about asking for a counsellor.... I lied.
After the booze, the main thrust of the meeting was about me isolating myself and staying at home. Why wasn't I trying to do things, exercise, lose weight, write songs, play music. I made a futile attempt at explaining that inspiration cannot be summoned up, it happens spontaneously. A song pops into your head. You can't make it happen. It's like asking someone to make a new invention. "Hey Newton, do another apple thing!". It either happens or it doesn't. It's not like washing the dishes or digging the garden. "What can you do to change your low mood and behaviour?". I explained that it was my belief that my mood went up or down regardless of my behaviour. Nothing I did influenced it. Like the Grand Old Duke of York... when I was up I was up, and when I was down I was down, and when I was only half way up... Depakote was doing it's job.
The shrink again went through the CBT diagram thang with me explaining that my behaviour influenced my thoughts which in turn influenced my mood which influenced my emotions. She asked me to explain this to my wife....go on... be a good patient... I said "that by staying in and avoiding people I became more negative in my thoughts, this made me feel down and so I took to my bed and stayed in and became negative and felt more paranoid and so I became more down" etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum. This is the insight the psychiatrist wanted me to achieve and she beamed with glee and said "that's exactly it!". She gave me a lovely patronising smile.... good boy!
So I guess I won the "Best Lunatic of the Day Award" and went merrily on my way. Next appointment 4 weeks.
Friday, 10 April 2009
I have become busier at home. Started writing and recording a new album. I have already managed to finish 4 tracks.
My drinking is getting a bit out of hand again. As well as drinking during the day, I have had a few binges when I've been up all night drinking red wine until 6am. I keep telling myself I won't do it again then a few days later I find myself saying "what the hell, what have I got to lose?".
I'm still not going out, not even visiting my sister. I dread meeting anyone.
As for my mood, I have no idea. I don't know what I feel but I don't think I'm depressed and I'm certainly not high.
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
I saw the shrink on the Wednesday. It was an uncomfortable meeting. I told her how I'd now started drinking in the morning for the first time. She spent a lot of time telling me how nice the people at the jobcentre were and how they might be able to help me. She lives in another world, she is oblivious to the fact that the way a civil servant speaks to a Consultant Psychiatrist is very different from how they speak to scum like me. She said there was no obligation to do anything, all they wanted to was help. She hadn't seen the threatening letter that said if you do not attend your benefit will be cut. She's too pushy, too much on their side, she's supposed to help me and be my advocate. But I guess they all have targets and have to participate in joined up working. The DWP and the NHS, it's all the same thing. I reveal no more to her. Our dialogue is over. My mind is closed.
She asks about the lifestyle adviser and my exercise, I tell her it's all over, I'm not going out at all now as the DWP are probably watching me. She encourages me to go out more and says it's an important part of my treatment. Just as important as the pills. I ask if she will support me in this and she says yes... hmmm.
So I decide to push myself and against my better judgement I go out at the weekend. For the third time in three years I go into a pub. And once again it is a disaster, it all goes tits up. We meet an ex colleague who brazenly asks my wife if I've been putting it on. This convinces me beyond all doubt that everyone believes I am a fraud. My poor missus pretended to be cool but I know she was upset, all I am doing now is making everyones life miserable. I used to be a fairly harmless, worthless, twat but now I am a ball and chain to those who could use a lifebelt.
So I've been staying in. No exercise, just drinking and sleeping and jumping whenever the phone rings. Being totally selfish, that's me.
I used to be a somebody, a person, now I'm just a nobody. God, listen to me, I sound so fucking pathetic.
Sunday, 22 February 2009
Saturday, 21 February 2009
My wife phoned my psychiatrist to see if I had to undergo the Spanish Inquisition. Unfortunately the shrink thought it might be helpful to go and see what they had to offer. Every account I have heard of "what they have to offer" is a humiliating experience where you have to sit within earshot of other claimants and divulge your medical and employment history. After being shamed for being a workshy layabout, some smarmy bastard tells you having bipolar disorder is not like having a broken leg and you should get off these lousy benefits and get a job. Then arranges a whole series of further interviews and workshops. Not my idea of helpful.
Anyway the shrink phoned the benefits people who then phoned my wife. My wife explained I was a worthless tosser who was fit for fuck all. She cried and explained how stressed out I was by it all and how afraid she was that I would again become suicidal. Surprisingly they actually backed off and said they would leave me alone until next year when my Disability Living Allowance gets reviewed.
Thank goodness for my wife. She is my guardian angel who sorts everything out for me.
I have stopped going out altogether now in case the DWP have me under surveillance. I had been walking 2 miles a day in an effort to lose weight and had planned to actually go out to the blues night next Friday but there is no way I am leaving the house now. They might be watching me, just ready to remove all my benefits and send me to the fish factory. I will stay at home.
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
I don't know what to do. I am not fit to leave the house never mind go to work. I tried to phone the shrink to ask what I should do but she was unavailable. I'll try again tomorrow.
I have been drinking all day in an effort to calm myself down.
Saturday, 14 February 2009
Friday, 13 February 2009
Thursday, 12 February 2009
Anyway, on 31st October 2009 I decided to restart my blog. I had been keeping a diary in private (actually several different blogs from time to time). I will now insert the entries from 12th February to 31st October and then restart this blog.
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
I don't really give a toss what people think about me personally but I do have family to consider and don't want them getting the piss ripped out of them. Nor do I want the likes of Dr Woodstock to think I am making a mockery of them. So it's with regret I tell you I'm shutting down my blog, this is the end of Bipolar Mo.
Thanks to all the folks who have befriended me over the past couple of years. Thanks to all the people who took time to leave comments and also to all the lurkers who although silent, brightened me up by showing up regularly on my stats. That's all there is to say really. I'll leave this up for 24 hours to feed the RSS readers then close down tomorrow.
Thank you and goodnight.
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
I distract her with the 4 year mood/medication chart I've drawn up. She is surprised by the winter peaks and the summer lows of my annual cycle which is the antithesis of what you'd expect. It's certainly in contrast with SAD and most typical depressions. She wonders if any other bipolar folks share this pattern. Anybody out there have winter highs?
I show her the pitting oedema on my legs and we discuss my request for Aripiprazole again. Looking at my chart and noting that my moodswings have been milder since staring Depakote in March 2007 she is loathe to change it unless I feel very strongly about it. I tell her while I don't want to remain an oversized depakote whale, I will continue to take it a bit longer.
She gets back onto the demon drink and drones on... well it would be interesting to see how your mood was without alcohol. Hmmm. Even if you could reduce it by one unit a day. I have been mostly monosyllabic throughout the meeting and my eyes have been focused on a dodgy looking stain on the carpet. Now I decide there's probably not much point in participating further. She is not motivating change. She is not doing the old textbook stuff like rolling with resistance. She is only annoying me, Christ I could use a drink right now! So I sit silent like Elton John doing his finest prima donna, albeit in a more subdued manner.
So she moves on to my mood which is 4/10 at the moment. What can I do to prevent relapse? I explain I feel quite fatalistic about it, my mood goes where it goes regardless of my actions. Don't my daily walks help? No they help me burn calories but I still hate going out and feel anxious and pukey throughout, there is certainly no sense of mental well being on return. What about friends, is there someone you could meet up with. No, apart from the odd email I have very little contact with any of my old friends, I haven't been to the pub for over three years. How about music, could you plan to spend time writing and playing. No, these things happen spontaneously when I'm feeling good and I have no inspiration when I'm down so nothing comes out, I have complete block. I tell her it sounds like I'm being deliberately awkward (half expecting a comforting rebuttal)... "Well, are you being awkward?" ... "errr, no". I don't elaborate as I was just trying to be honest. In retrospect I don't think I should have been so honest, I could easily have lied, told her what she wanted to hear and said something like "yeah, that's a really good idea, I'll go home and play my guitar every day". I've often misjudged situations and hurt people by being honest in the past. I'm not sure how to get the balance right between engaging and sounding positive while trying to give truthful responses. Positivity and honesty are not mutual entities for me, how do you chose which card to reveal?
Thankfully there is a silence indicating that we're done for today then Moonstone pulls out her diary. When shall we meet again, she ponders, she says she's busy for the next 3 weeks so it's 4, 6, 7 or 12 weeks from now. Which is best she asks... I don't mind... well pick whatever suits you... I'm happy for you to decide... come on, this is team work... Ok, four. What Moonstone says next takes me by surprise "Four what? Months, years?". Silence... she stares at me waiting on an answer... is it just me or is that not just the height of sheer fucking rudeness. I felt like telling her to fuck off for four fucking lightyears but I am acutely aware that I have just abandoned my last shrink and inside my head I hear a well known phrase for paranoids bellowing through my head "There comes a time when you have to accept the whole world can't be wrong". So I swallow my obscenities and smile sheepishly replying "four weeks". I feel pathetic, I envisage John Wayne sneering down on me "call yerself a man, yer yeller!". And with that parting thought I crawl home on my belly.
I am now starting to wonder if maybe Moonstone was just breaking me in gently and now the honeymoon is over. Is she in cahoots with the pirate? Are they all out to get me and make my life hell? Am I paranoid? Am I just not cut out to engage in any form of therapy? I am certainly starting to have doubts about what I thought was going to be a positive step in treatment for me.
"You get down, real low down
You listen to Coltrane, derail your own train
Well who hasn't been there before?"
Saturday, 24 January 2009
I have been asked by Gabriel to write something about recovery for a project he his putting together on his site. Just a short post about what has helped me deal with the disease that is bipolar disorder. The problem is, I tend to be very negative about my illness, I let it define me and see little future for myself. I am not someone who is religious or drawn to alternative therapies. I’m not into support groups and have a history of paranoia around health professionals. Medication and ECT have not cured me so I tend to dismiss them. The only thing that seems to alleviate my condition is alcohol and that is not generally considered a positive form of treatment. So what encouragement can I give others?.....errrr?
After some head scratching I have eventually managed to identify three things that have definitely had a positive influence on my wellbeing. So here goes…
1) Getting Diagnosed: Getting a formal diagnosis was of great benefit to me. I had always known I was different but I just presumed I had a personality disorder. Between depressions I had always been an extrovert, loudmouthed, gregarious, pain in the arse. My outrageous personality caused authority and mediocrity to loathe me whilst open minded folks thought I was hilarious (albeit in small doses). I excelled in imaginative roles and failed in prescriptive roles. However, once diagnosed bipolar, doctors who had previously been irritated by me, viewed me with sympathy (oooh such a bad word nowadays) and I was subsequently more able to engage. Authority figures now positively discriminate against me (I’m the poor chap who lost his mind). My principles tell me I should hate this but in practice it makes my life much easier and for the first time in my life I am happy to work the system. Being diagnosed has been a good thing for me.
2) Getting the right psychiatrist: I am now on my third shrink. The first one was a good guy but very cautious and reluctant to change anything. Despite his good intentions he didn’t really help me and I stayed in a state of inertia for months. My second and longstanding doctor, “the pirate”, treated me like a specimen on a Petri dish, coldly and arrogantly prescribing me treatments while he played with his palm pilot. After a long period of virtual clinical abuse I refused to see him again and demanded to see another consultant. This was the best thing I ever did as regards treatment. My third and current shrink is excellent. She is very empathetic and inclusive. She basically provides me with expert information and allows me to make informed decisions. Getting the right doctor was a huge step for me and for the first time in my life I am starting to engage with professionals and starting to listen rather than fight.
3) Having a loving partner: Without my wife to support me I would not be here. My wife has supported me through thick and thin (mostly thin) since we were in our teens. We have now been married 29 years. She disciplines me when I’m over the top, she laughs with me when I’m high, she ignores me when I’m hyperirritable, she supports and encourages me when I’m down, she cares for me when I’m bed bound. She loves me all of the time. I’ve gone missing, I’ve tried to kill her, I’ve embarrassed her, I’ve gone to bed for months, I am a bastard. Still she loves me. There is no type of formal support or treatment that comes close to this. I do not deserve her. She is way above me. How people cope on their own is beyond me and I can only admire them. She has been the most important factor in me surviving bipolar.
Well, that’s the three things that have helped me live with bipolar disorder.
Friday, 23 January 2009
My wife has also helped me by accompanying me on walks in the evenings. I had planned to take my nephew's dog out daily, it's a great excuse for being out without looking like a creep but I dread meeting people and so won't go out during the day. I really miss the neighbour's dog which I used to take out daily before they moved away. We already have a profoundly neurotic rescue cat so a dog of our own is out of the question.
I'm managing the diet side of things OK as I haven't got a sweet tooth. I have started recording what I eat and it all seems fine, I think the only thing I have to watch is the amount of olive oil I add to stir fries. I just need to exercise more.
A few months ago I dismissed my family doctor's comments regarding schizophrenia and bipolar as the same disorder. Now I must eat my hat as it seems his words were prophetic. Although up until now, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have always been viewed as two distinct entities, a recent Swedish study published in The Lancet concludes that both diseases share a common genetic cause. An increased risk of schizophrenia was found in relatives of people with bipolar disorder. According to the study, brothers and sisters of people with both these conditions were nine times more likely to be schizophrenic and had eight times the risk of developing bipolar disorder.
With all the recent controversy around embryo selection which allows parents to discard embryos with potential diseases like cancer rather than definite genetic disorders such as Huntingdon's disease, it makes you wonder if people like me will be allowed to live in the future or perhaps just be discarded after fertilization as imperfections. I'm glad I was born when I was. Although there may be times when I don't want to live, at least the decision is mine to take. Gattaca is no longer just a vision of the future.
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
There is no doubt he will be a great icon of the 21st century but I hope Mr Obama is remembered not only for the colour of his skin but for bringing great change to the world. He has been handed the reins in the midst of a deep recession and has inherited a global pile of shit from George W Bush. Sadly his egalitarian vision to bring healthcare to every American seems to be opposed by all but the poor. Fortunately he has charisma and presence in abundance and is a hugely inspirational figure for all Americans and for the world there is (excuse the Star Wars quote) a new hope.
While the world watched Washington it turned it's back on Gaza where UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon was appalled by the "outrageous" attack on the UN compound he visited.
The other day I was fed up hearing biased news about "the war" on the BBC and for the first time I watched Al Jazeera news. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. They showed the bodies of dead children with bullet holes in their heads allegedly shot by Israeli snipers. I had to quickly turn over. It was horrifying. I pray this is over ASAP. I hope Obama brings something more constructive than his recent comment "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. I would expect Israelis to do the same thing". I find all this impossible to understand, it's as if when the IRA bombed London, the UK government had responded by flying bombers over Ulster and wiped out Belfast, Newry and Derry, killing innocent men, women and children.
Anyway, meanwhile back in my little insignificant world. I saw the lifestyle advisor on Monday and have made a start on eating a bit less and exercising a bit more, well not a bit more as I don't do any but I'm starting to exercise a bit.
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
...I went down the shops and bought a pint of milk to pass the time. But soon I was back amongst the hoard of the living dead, all groaning and moaning about backpain, how the pills make them dizzy, the collapse of the banks, the price of bread, all the druggies, all the immigrants and of course how long they have been waiting to see the doctor. Surprisingly none of them mention the current massacre in Palestine.
Thankfully the psychiatrist arrives and we escape to the sanctuary of the dietician's room. I tell her how I was a bit down over Christmas and took to my bed for a few days but am better now. She asks what got me out of bed and I tell her my wife asked me to help to cook a meal one evening (the missus does not excel in the kitchen). The next day I had a bath, shaved then things slowly got better. After confirming I was housebound again she asked what had got me out in the past. I explained initially we had gone out for short walks at night where we wouldn't bump into anyone, then daytime walks in the country. She suggested I use these strategies in future to get me out of bed and out of the house (a nice wee bit of informal CBT).
She asked what the plan was now. My main concern is still getting my weight down and I mentioned Henry's suggestion of Aripiprazole as an alternative to Depakote. She agreed that it didn't have the weight gain associated with valproate and that if she had to be prescribed an antipsychotic then Aripiprazole would be her first choice (how come the doctor's drug of choice wasn't seen as the primary drug to prescribe to patients?). Anyway, she decided she'd rather not change anything at the moment as she thinks I'm doing relatively well. But should things go downhill my next drug will be Aripiprazole. I see her again in two weeks. In the meantime she's asked me if I can merge the drugs I was on into my 4 year mood chart as it would be much easier to grasp than studying my voluminous notes. So I spent the afternoon doing that.
Friday, 9 January 2009
I have a couple of appointments next week, the cardiovascular clinic on Monday and the psychiatrist on Wednesday, so will have to venture over the doorstep which may not be a bad thing.
Today I looked back over my blog and updated my long term moodchart. So here's the last four years of my life as a red line.
It looks like a fekn E.C.G.
I can't believe I haven't been to work since April 2005. That's almost 4 years now but it only seems like a few months. I still can't believe I'm not going back... but neither can I envisage ever getting my shit together enough to ever participate in the real world again.