No Blessing

Times are hard for everyone

I really shouldn’t dwell 

But I can’t help but worry

That the future doesn’t bode well
The thoughts are whirring round my head

My life is such a mess

But what does it really matter?

I have no need to impress

Those closest to me in my life

Have seen me fall apart

There’s a limit to the number of times

One can make a brand new start

I feel I should go far away

But there’s nowhere left to run

I’ve exhausted all my avenues

It’s over, finished, done

I had so many dreams once

Positive internal voices

I flushed it all away though

With a series of poor choices

If only I could remove my head

Reset my bipolar brain

Live a life without this curse

That stops me staying sane

I’ve heard it said by celebs that

They like the upward swing

That ‘bipolar is a blessing’

And they ‘wouldn’t change a thing’

I find this hard to comprehend

As my highs are rarely fun

Delusional and paranoid 

My world becomes undone

What state my mind is in right now

I really couldn’t say

Thoughts are racing through my head

But I mostly feel dismay

I’m dancing in the darkness

Tears streaming down my face

Fighting with the demons

As through my mind they race

I’ve yet to meet a person,

Celebrities aside,

Who genuinely claim that they enjoy

The manic depressive ride

That anyone would choose this life 

I cannot comprehend

To glamourise an illness

Is the wrong message to send

So whilst I am still capable

Of some rational cognition

I’d like to get a message out

I guess it is my mission

Bipolar is an illness

Not a blessed gift

It tortures and torments us

With dark thoughts we cannot shift

Any raised attainment

Is a temporary short lived gain

One that is outweighed by far

With deep emotional pain

Neither is it simply

A frequent change of affect

It alters thought and behaviour

And leads to self neglect

It’s such a varied illness

The parameters are vast

It makes many a sufferer

Feel like an outcast

So I have a message for you

To lay the myth to rest

Bipolar is no blessing

But an inconvenience at best

Distraction is the key

So I’ve written a bit lately about the struggles I’m having so I thought I’d depart from the doom and gloom today and share something more positive.

I have a good friend who always seems to have my back of late. I was resistant to her trying to get me out of the house at first but have come to my senses now I’ve done it a few times. She knows that if left to my own devices I will stay at home every day, venturing outside only for a sly cigarette, choosing mainly to spend the rest of my time hiding under the duvet or plugged into my iPod and ignoring all attempts at contact from the outside world. I was comfortable doing this but now I realise just how isolated I had become. Even when my family are home on an evening we tend to stay in our respective rooms, communicating only when absolutely necessary but my friend has made me realise I need human contact. Yes I have some wonderful online friends but I have missed face to face spoken word conversations.

My RL friend has not only been my personal chaperone of late, she has introduced me to other people who are struggling to socialise which has been lovely. I am widening my circle of friends and actually enjoying the company of others; something I haven’t done in a long time. This week we have been to various places ;I am fortunate to live on the outskirts of a major city so there are plenty of places to spend time. We have drunk far too much coffee and smoked too much but it’s been worth it. She has introduced me to an arts cafe where, despite not having an artistic bone in my body, I have produced a vaguely recognisable collage of an owl and a slightly wonky pair of earrings. Small things I know but I am pleased wih my achievements. A visit to our local museum also proved to be an enjoyable experience accompanied by a slow walk around the grounds of the adjoining Abbey.

These sound like very small achievements I know but they are huge for me given how reclusive I had become. It’s not all been a walk in the park if you’ll forgive the pun, yesterday I was unable to physically manage a walk around the lake. I guess not eating is taking its toll. My friend has helped me with his too and I’m pleased to report I’ve actually managed some solid food today; just a little but it’s a start. 

All the above is keeping me going through the day when mh services are letting me down. On an evening I chat to an equally kind and helpful friend, online this time. My friends are my world at the moment and I’m very lucky to have them in my life. They provide the distraction I need from my health and social difficulties and I am very grateful to them. 

Let down again 

It takes a lot for me to ask for professional help and consequently I end up in crisis before I actually get the help I need.I feel unworthy, a nuisance, untreatable and guilty for taking up someone else’s time. I’ve told my CMHT this countless times. I am told that this inability to reach out is the reason I have a CPN still. Why then do they think it is ok to frequently cancel on me? Today I received a phone call from a secretary telling me tomorrow’s appointment is cancelled. No explanation, no apology but more importantly no enquiry as to the state of my mental health. I felt too uncomfortable to volunteer the information that I am not coping. I haven’t seen my CPN for weeks because she has been away and cancelled a previous appointment just as I was heading into crisis but I thought ok, these things happen, I can cope a few more days. Then the secretary announces I can’t have an appointment for another 3 weeks! (I am supposed to be on at least a visit a fortnight) I am heading for crisis again and I’m scared. I can’t eat or sleep & I have fainted twice in the past week. My mood is all over the place but I attribute this more to my struggle with food than the bipolar. Never the less I am scared it is destabilising enough to send me into an episode. I don’t want to end up on the ward again. It doesn’t help. All I need is some proactive community support, not picking up when I fall. What ever happened to preventative care? Guess I’m on my own this time.

Sworn enemies – a warning to others. TW eating disorder

I wrote a few weeks ago about the dark place I found myself in. I was hoping to have a positive outcome to write about but things have only got worse. My rational mind and my emotions have become sworn enemies, my body the victim. They share a common weapon: food. 

As the weeks have gone by my relationship with food has deteriorated. My mind accepts I need to eat to be healthy and survive and I try I really do but it has become an all or nothing situation. I eat nothing for days on end until I get so hungry that something inside snaps and I eat everything in sight. I don’t enjoy it, in fact I don’t think I even taste the food as I cram it down. I know I am really in trouble when I hit this point and an overwhelming sense of panic sets in. I have to get rid of what I’ve eaten at all costs. Purging is the only thing I’ve found that gives me relief. I feel cleansed and a huge sense of relief towards the end but is not the answer. It leaves me feeling guilty and so exhausted I usually fall asleep for an hour or more straight after. Sometimes I physically shake and my pulse races erratically.

Some would have you believe that purging is the magic solution to dieting without deprivation. It really is not as I’ve found out to my cost. My mind is killing my body. I now bleed every time I purge. I have small tears and ulcers in my eosophagus due to forced vomiting. I have to stop but I don’t know how. You may be thinking JUST STOP but it really isn’t that simple.i know what I’m doing could ultimately kill me but I’m trapped in a vicious cycle. 

I disgust myself and I know this isn’t a nice topic to write about but I’m doing it to warn others to get help as soon as you get the slightest sign that your eating is disordered. Sure, at first I thought I could cope, thought I was in control.  I could almost sense the pounds dropping off me. I didn’t realise how quickly I would become gripped by this awful condition again. I have asked for help but now I have to wait. like every other medical treatment in the UK there is a waiting list. I don’t want others to go through this so please don’t believe your emotions or the image in the mirror. Listen to your bodies and get help. I only hope I haven’t left it too late.

An exercise in catharsis

Forbidden love

There exists a person in my world

For whom my love has been unfurled

It’s so much more than a passing phase

This person has me in a daze

Sadly they cannot ever know

No relationship will ever grow

I’ve felt this way for quite some time

But told myself they can’t be mine

Even though I know all this

I pine for them, to hold, to kiss

This longing I have is so intense

Pervades my body, my every sense

But even if I were one day free

I’m certain that they couldn’t love me

For it doesn’t matter how long I wait

I am bi and they are straight

So I’ll fight this ache that grips my heart

I won’t let it tear our friendship apart

I’ve put my sentiments into verse

Before the pain gets any worse

I had to get these feelings out

To metaphorically scream and shout

So now I’ve put this piece to bed

I’ve bared my soul, it’s all been said

There’s only one thing left to do

To thank all those that read this through

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.

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.

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

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.