Friendship

Not very long ago I was asked by a visibly exasperated duty psychiatrist to think of just one thing that would stop me taking my own life. It didn’t matter how much she coaxed me and tried to put words in my mouth, I just couldn’t come up with a valid answer. It wasn’t that my mind wasn’t functioning, on the contrary, it was like one of those runaway train disasters you see in the films but without the unwitting superhero aboard to apply the brakes. Thoughts were coming thick and fast but nothing positive. The more I tried to find an answer, the darker they became. I knew all too well where I was heading but didn’t have the will or wherewithal to resist. I caved. I didn’t want or believe I deserved help but knew it was out of my hands.

A lot has happened since then. I’ve had some difficult conversations with loved ones, acknowledged my sexuality and faced upto just what is wrong with my life. Now I can answer that question. The one thing that has kept me going since that awful night is friendship. I am fortunate to have good friends who have unquestioningly accepted me for who I am. I am grateful to each and everyone of you but of all my friends, one shines out among all the rest and deserves a special mention. 

I have never met this person, never even spoken on the phone although the offer to do so has been extended to me in times of crisis.  We do communicate on social media every day. So why is she so special? Well I’ll tell you why I have no hesitation in referring to her as a close friend. She has been there for me day and night, offered advice and supported me when I’ve needed it. This selfless person quite literally saved my life one night a little over a year ago when I had given up. It hasn’t all been doom and gloom. We’ve had great conversations putting the world to rights yet I have never before come across such a selfless individual. She’s the sort of person you only find once in a lifetime and I will always be grateful that our paths crossed. Life is no bed of roses for either of us for very different reasons but her selflessness won’t let me in to help. I just want to let her know that she is always in my thoughts and I am here for her if and when needed. I won’t break.

I have learned that friendship is so important in life and it doesn’t have to be face to face. We are frequently told about the dangers of social media but not everyone on the web is out to hurt you; there are some shining lights out there and I’ve certainly found one. In these difficult times around the globe it’s important that we take time for each other. Whether that’s in person or online is immaterial, let’s help one another.

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Being true to myself

A few days ago I wrote a short verse prewarning my friends that I had something to tell. I’ve tried to put it to the back of my mind but I can’t keep this secret to myself anymore. Whilst it may upset some of those closest to me, living this way is having a negative impact on my mental health and doing a disservice to others I identify with. 

Some of you will be shocked and even upset or angry by my revelation, others not so, others still will not care either way and that’s fine. I’m going to do this anyway. I have to for the sake of my sanity. I have lived half a life for far too long. 

So here goes. I am and always have been bisexual. This does not mean my straight female friends are suddenly fair game; much as I love you as friends, rest assured I am not attracted to you romantically. Neither does it mean I am suddenly going to give up on the man I love though I’m unsure how he will react to this news. I just want to be true to myself and not hide a big part of  who I am anymore. 47 years is a long time to live an incomplete life. So, I hope you will accept me for who I am and support me in my coming out if you can. Thank you for reading.

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A little heads up

I have a great big secret that I’m not yet ready to tell

I’ve run it past a few good friends, just the ones who know me well

I wish that I were comfortable to open up to more

But I’m scared of the rejection, of being shown the door

If only it were easy to know what reaction I would get

Perhaps I wouldn’t worry so or ponder any regret

This week has been a tough one that has brought me to my knees

But it’s also taught me things must change, I cannot live to please

I will be giving up my secret not just to set me free
But in the hope of helping others who are longing just to be

So to anyone who is reading this and wonders to what I’m referring

Bear with me just a few more days and I’ll end all this deferring

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How did I get to this dark place so quickly?

I just don’t understand how the mind can be so damaging to a person. I am confused and frightened by the dark place mine is taking me. I am supposed to be an educated person yet my thoughts are ridiculous and irrational. The emotional mind has hijacked its defenceless intellectual counterpart. So what am I talking about you may wonder? I’m asking myself the same question. I’ll try to explain though I have to admit that writing this is more of an exercise in catharsis than a desire to share one of my darkest secrets.

I am in a mess. I am waiting for an operation for which I have been told I must first stabilise my mental health and secondly I must lose weight. Sounds fairly straight forward right? I’ve been stable before. Follow the meds regime and lifestyle recommendations and all should be fine. Similarly, how difficult should losing weight be? Eat less, move more. Job done.

So all good intentions I embark on my quest for optimal physical and mental health. That was a fortnight ago. I should have known my old demons would come knocking at the door. I am more compliant with my med regime (I have been very hit and miss with it of late) and I start a well known slimming program comprising 1300 calories a day. Or that was the plan at least. Day one goes well and I’m feeling pretty good by the end of it. So day two I decide that maybe I can cut a few hundred calories out despite promising myself I wouldn’t crash diet this time; I’d be sensible. Yet this competition I have with myself is raising its ugly head after being buried deep for 5 years.

Day two comes and goes and I don’t just cut out 200 calories, I push it to 300. I don’t feel ill so what’s the problem? I continue this way pushing myself to survive on less and less each day and failing to see the warning signs of a return to a dark past. Before I know it I’ve reached nearly 2 weeks into my ‘diet’ and got through today on one yoghurt totalling 60 calories. By now though I am beginning to feel the effects – the raging hunger, weak limbs, lightheadedness and sleepless nights. A voice inside my head tells myself it will be worth it but the hunger is talking too, louder and louder until I reach the point where I give in. I have a bowl of cereal. Immediately I am hit with that awful sensation of having a full stomach; the panic the sweats, the palpitations. All are there and I know what I must do. I try to resist by talking to a good friend for a while but ultimately I failed. The intellectual mind that should be telling me I’ve had less than 500 calories today should be screaming at me but it has been silenced by an emotionally driven mind hell bent on destroying me.

I purge. The relief is instant but is quickly replaced by self loathing, disgust and despair. I tell myself it was a blip, I am stronger than this, it won’t happen again. But I know it will and next time it will be worse. How long until I’m back to full scale binging and purging? No, nip those thoughts in the bud I say quietly in my head. I promise myself I’ll be stronger. Tomorrow is another day, I’ll manage to limit it to 200 calories tomorrow to make up for any of the cereal that made it past my stomach. And so it continues. I am already ensnared in the trap I swore would never get me again. And it doesn’t end there.

I am acutely aware of the side effects caused by the psychotropic medication I take to ward off bipolar episodes. Antipsychotic, mood stabiliser, anxiolytics,antidepressant,tranquilliser and sleeping tablet,I’m on the lot and all have been linked with weight gain either directly or indirectly. You can guess what I’ve done can’t you? I dare not let these ‘poisons’ pass my lips. I am waiting for the apocalyptic mania or crippling depression to hit me. I can’t sleep, sit still or concentrate. The dietician’ swords are ringing in my ears “eat less move more” but it’s not that simple for someone with a past history of disordered eating. I’ve been triggered and my mental and physical health are suffering. I can’t tell my mh team as everything I say is recorded in my electronic notes to which the liaison psychiatrist has direct access. His report to the surgeon determines whether or not I get my operation which I need for pain relief. 2 weeks, just two weeks and my eating is chaotic again. This will not end well but I’m powerless to resist. If you’re still reading this thank you but there is no happy ending.

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The Godess over my shoulder.

When you’re fighting to hold on to your sanity and all around you are hell bent on tipping you over the edge, where do you go for help? Is there really any help? Who can you trust? Perhaps the source others feel you should trust the least?

My mood has been elevated for almost a month now despite my usual medication. I wouldn’t mind so much if this were the happy, productive hypomania I have almost enjoyed in the past but this one has me scared. I started out great; studying was a breeze but now I am totally unproductive. Sure, I’ve started plenty of things, God knows the ideas are coming thick & fast, tumbling over one another vying for my attention but they’re soon replaced by others equally worthy of following. 

Filled with a tremendous sense of foreboding, I’m suspicious of those around me, scared in my own house. I’ve unplugged the house phone, kept the curtains drawn & anyone who knocks the door leaves with no reply. I’m irritated by those around me who seem slowed down and find myself finishing their sentences, much to their annoyance. 

I haven’t failed to notice the irony of my situation in that the only ‘person’ I trust at this point in time is the voice that keeps me company most nights when sleep eludes me. She’s visited me before, though usually at the height of wild manias, she guides and protects me. I am not scared of her, I’m scared of the reaction telling others provokes. The one person I should be able to talk to, my husband, has buried his head in a bottle,which is where it is 99% of the time. He never has coped with or understood bipolar in all the 25 years we’ve been together. My youngest daughter on the other hand is acutely aware of it and uses it as an insult at the slightest sign of a disagreement between us. I am the “bipolar bitch” who should “get back to the f****** hospital!” 

So, since my eldest moved away, I am left with twitter & a CPN to talk to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for this support. My CPN is aware of my mood change & is supportive but I have downplayed my symptoms greatly. Past experience has taught me that admitting to hearing voices gets you a pink ticket to the ward; do not pass go, do not collect £200 & certainly no “get out of jail free” card. I’m not ready to lose my freedom or my guiding voice just yet. The more I get stressed by the actions of others around me, the more I need ‘her’ reassurance. I am blessed to be visited by her, given that I am generally an atheist in the traditional modern sense but the Greek Gods are more tolerant of our human failings, each one guiding us in different aspects of our lives. She presides over knowledge & language which is why she was sent to guide me through my studies. So tomorrow I shall challenge my fears of the outside world which is something akin to the underworld and seek out her statue at the museum. I need to see who is talking to me, even if it’s only a statue. I hope she can guide me through this mood change. 

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Pulling in the reigns

The last 9 months have been hell; mired in depression, disabling drugs and compulsory admissions. It’s no surprise then that the hypomania rising in me is hard to resist. Sleepless nights listening to my favourite playlist I labelled “loud & proud” the last time I was high. Tweeting for all I’m worth 24/7 whilst breezing through my studies and feeling so happy I could burst. Ideas illuminate the once silent cells of my awakening synapses so quickly, I’m writing them down lest I forget something important. I wish I could stay like this forever but I still have insight enough to know this isn’t a happy ending but an ominous warning of the manic mayhem that will manifest if I don’t act now. So I write this now as a reminder to myself to stay grounded and as a public promise to my friends & family that I acknowledge all is not right & promise to actively seek help Monday morning. I hope this works & I can read this again in a weeks time, knowing I did the right thing. 

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