Daily Archives: September 10, 2015

What really matters at the end of life

This day is designated as “Suicide Prevention Day.” The Internet is chock full of exhortations to DO SOMETHING to prevent suicide.

I must admit that I think a lot about something that could be labeled as suicide.

The conditions one thinks of as being most likely to cause a person to consider bringing their life to a close are devastating physical illnesses such as terminal cancer, ALS, incurable painful diseases of various kinds. Physical diseases, you know.

But what about the pain of mental illness?

This is taboo. It is “the easy way out,” it is to be prevented at all costs.

At this point, I must insert a caveat:

I do not intend this piece to suggest to anyone that they consider suicide as a way of treating psychological pain. NO.

Mental illness is generally treatable. Some forms of mental illness are indeed temporary, such as most postpartum depression, and situational depression, and appropriate grief, which is often labeled and treated as a form of mental illness. Most forms of mental illness can be palliated to the point where they are at least bearable. Some people are fortunate to find medicines or other treatments that successfully treat their symptoms such that they are indeed able to live healthy, productive lives.

But what happens when every possible treatment has been given a fair chance, and nothing has worked, and the person is left living with unbearable psychic pain?

Is psychic pain by definition less painful than physical pain, say, that of bone cancer?

I would argue not.

In my own case, I have lived with mental illness all of my life. I became aware of it at age three. At age seven, I began to dissociate as a way of escaping from the pain. I had no connection to most other people.

As I grew up, the pain grew too. I did self-destructive things. I tried blotting it all out by over-achieving. Nothing worked. The pain began to overtake me, wash me away like a tsunami. A tornado.

I killed myself by inhaling a gas. Someone found me and resuscitated me. I hated them. I went on living.

Since then I have manufactured reasons to live: I wanted to graduate. I wanted to graduate again. And again. I wanted to get married. I wanted to get married again (no more!). I can’t do this to my son. Who would take care of my dog? Et cetera. I make bargains with myself. I feel better for a few hours once in a while. I see a beautiful flower, an elk, a stream with fish in it. I read a great book. Then the pain hits again, and only the deep, drugged sleep–if my body will respond to drugs, which it sometimes refuses to do, when a mixed bipolar state overcomes me–(and by the way, mixed state is the most dangerous of all, for suicidal behaviors)–can give me a few hours of blessed relief. Then, all I can do is hope that when I awake I will feel better. Sometimes that even happens.

Then there is the physical illness, which will eventually lead to at least hemiplegia (paralysis of one side of the body), and probably eventual quadriplegia. Even now, by the end of the day I am unable to hold objects in my left hand. From its source at the place where the nerves emerge from the left side of my neck to the tips of my fingers, throbbing pain and tingling and numbness and weakness and spasms. Sounds like a walk in the park, doesn’t it? Yes, I have been offered surgery, at the expense of a 25% chance of waking up quadriplegic. No thanks, I’ll take my chances with the natural process.

This, combined with the depression, is just barely tolerable. But I keep on keeping on, because I still have things to live for, and I still have ways of dulling the pain when it overwhelms me.

I do have an end point in mind, but I haven’t reached it yet.

I have goals: I want to see my son graduate with his Ph.D. I’d really like to see him married, but there’s no guarantee of that, since his last girlfriend dumped him the day before he was planning to propose. We shall see.

Of course I’ve been sent a sick dog who needs me. Her life, like mine, and like everybody’s, is self-limited. We shall see.

In exactly three years, my income will disappear. I will have Social Security, which does not even cover the cost of my medicines plus Medicare premiums, let alone other expenses of living. I am totally disabled, mentally and physically. I have no other means of support. This, then, if nothing else magically shows up, or if nothing else intervenes, is the end of the road.

For me, this is not a dreaded outcome, but a comfort. It gives me a timeline. There are things I want to accomplish. I want to finish the books I’m writing. That’s becoming more difficult, because my left hand can no longer type. I’ve tried and tried to get Dragon Dictate to recognize my speech, but I have some kind of palsy that affects my tongue, and Dragon just isn’t up to the task. (I wonder if that has something to do with the fact that my fingerprints have also disappeared. That’s it! Laura, the one-handed safe-cracker!)

Yesterday I read an article in a medical journal, written by a physician in Belgium, where, like Switzerland and Holland, psychic suffering is considered to be on a par with physical suffering. In these three countries, euthanasia is legal, and people suffering from intractable psychic pain are permitted, after extensive evaluation by three separate psychiatrists, to request euthanasia by means of thiopental, a potent barbiturate. Only about half of the people who apply are accepted, and of those who are, less than half actually go ahead and take the medicine. Those who don’t said that just knowing they have the means gives them the strength to go on living. Those who do take it most often die in their own homes, surrounded by their families, in peace. This alone is a vastly different scenario from the way most people with mental illness live: in isolation, stigmatized, shunned. If people who live in supportive communities, with loving families, still suffer psychic pain that is so intolerable that they opt for euthanasia, how much more the marginalized and stigmatized mentally ill of the rest of the world?

Before I stop my own narrative and give you a special life-affirming video, I want to emphasize:

I DO NOT ADVOCATE, OR BY MEANS OF TELLING MY PERSONAL STORY RECOMMEND, THAT ANYONE CONSIDER SUICIDE AS A SOLUTION TO THEIR OWN PAIN. MY STORY IS MINE ALONE, AND IS NOT TO BE CONSTRUED AS ADVICE OR SUGGESTION.


Suicide Prevention Day 2015

Here are a few things that helped me get into my suicidal states, and the things that got me out...

Frustration and Hypomania

Horrendous week so far. A weekend of hypomania followed swiftly by a mixed state for the past four days. Sleep.. what’s that? Awake 2.22am.. and looked at my car’s ‘how many miles before fuel needed’ display: 222.

Magical Thinking is one of several things that manifests itself when hypomanic/mixed. But that’s interesting rather than a nuisance. What is a nuisance is the OCD that steps up several gears whilst in these moods. Oh, and the anxiety.

And what really isn’t helping is that I rang for an appointment with my psychiatrist (to start meds) a fortnight ago. Nothing happened so I rang again last week. Nothing’s happened again. Which means I’m going to have to ring a 3rd time.. Do they not realize that this kind of behaviour is not what we need??

And my ‘discharge papers’ arrived now the CBT has finished, from Secondary- back to Primary Care. Which means I’m having no treatment, support or guidance whatsoever at the moment.

As I said, horrendous week..

MH letter


Today is World Suicide Prevention Day

http://www.addiction.com/expert-blogs/suicide-prevention-is-everyones-business/

Suicide Prevention Is Everyone’s Business

Suicide Prevention Is Everyone’s Business

World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is today, September 10. The theme for 2015 is “Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives.” WSPD is an initiative of the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organization and has taken place since 2003. In honor of the event, you can join WSPD on Facebook and light a candle near a window at 8 PM tonight. September 7 to 13 is also National Suicide Prevention Week in the U.S.

As someone with bipolar disorder, I have contemplated suicide at several points in my life. I’ve also experienced the loss of a friend to suicide, and I’m a mental health professional — so it’s easy to see why I have a significant interest in suicide prevention. However, the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention’s latest report concludes that “suicide prevention is everyone’s business.” Suicide impacts us all, directly or indirectly, and we all can play a role in its prevention.

In about 90% of cases, suicide is related to a mental disorder, most commonly major depression or another mood disorder, a substance use disorder, schizophrenia or a personality disorder—though in many cases the issue was not diagnosed or treated. Because mental disorders are treatable, suicide is largely preventable. However, there are a number of barriers to prevention that need to be overcome:

  • Underdiagnosis of mental disorders
  • Lack of access to or lack of insurance coverage for treatment
  • Lack of awareness in the general public regarding the signs of mental illness and the warning signs of suicide
  • Stigma, prejudice and discrimination regarding mental disorders; a taboo around talking about suicide
  • Inadequate training for health care professionals, including mental health professionals, in suicide assessment

While there are complex, systemic problems that need to be addressed, each of us has at least some power to prevent suicide. Below are 10 groups that play a key role in suicide prevention, and what each can do:

1. Everyone

Suicide impacts everyone. It’s the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States. The economic cost of suicide in the U.S. is estimated to be more than $44 billion annually, mainly due to lost wages and productivity. For every reported suicide, an estimated 12 people either attempt suicide or engage in some type of self-harm. Non-fatal injuries due to attempted suicide or self-harm cost an estimated $6.3 billion annually in medical care, lost wages and productivity.

What everyone can do:

  • Learn the signs of mental illness. Visit the Campaign to Change Direction and learn the five signs that someone might need help.
  • Learn the warning signs of suicide. Visit the American Association of Suicidology and learn the “IS PATH WARM?”
  • Educate yourself about suicide. Visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for answers to frequently-asked questions.
  • Change your attitude. If you believe suicide is a sign of weakness or selfishness, recognize that people with mental illness who attempt suicide are incapable of seeing other options, incapable of making rational decisions or are acting out of impulse; weakness and selfishness don’t enter the equation.
  • Change your language. Learn and use non-stigmatizing terms regarding suicide. Most important, use “died by suicide” instead of “committed suicide,” and “attempted suicide” instead of “unsuccessful suicide.”
  • Answer phones at a local crisis center or become a suicide prevention advocate.
  • Choose a non-profit related to suicide prevention or a local mental health program.
  • Get involved in mental health treatment reform. The Treatment Advocacy Center, a national nonprofit organization, hassuggestions for advocating to remove barriers to treatment.

2. Those diagnosed with a mental disorder

Again, 90% of people who die by suicide have a mental disorder (this is determined by “psychological autopsy,” which includes reviewing records and interviewing people who knew the decedent). As someone with a mental disorder, I’ve come to understand that we have to be proactive about our own suicide prevention — and that we have a lot of power to help prevent it in others.

What you can do if you are diagnosed with a mental disorder:

3. Those who think they might have a mental disorder

Mental disorders are very common. In 2013, an estimated 18.5% of U.S. adults had some type of mental illness in the past year. Overall, only about half of those affected by mental illness receive treatment.

What you can do if you think you might have a mental disorder:

4. Family members or loved ones of someone who may be at risk for suicide

About one-third of people who die by suicide do not communicate their intent to anyone. However, most exhibit warning signs. People close to those with mental illness can play a powerful role by being on the lookout for warning signs and helping their loved one find treatment.

What you can do if you are a family member or loved one of somebody who may be at risk for suicide:

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for advice and resources in your area.
  • Be familiar with the warning signs of suicide. Get a free wallet card from SAMHSA.
  • Find a support group or education program for family through organizations such as your local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
  • Talk openly with your loved one about suicide. You’re not going to plant an idea in their head that wasn’t already there.
  • Offer hope (“Things will get better”), but avoid platitudes (“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”).

5. Those affected by the suicide of another person (also called a “survivor” or “one bereaved by suicide”)

The loss of someone to suicide is said to leave a “special scar.” People who have lost a loved one to suicide are more likely to die by suicide themselves. Many people bereaved by suicide feel alone and have trouble getting support. People can be significantly affected even if they weren’t close to the decedent.

What you can do if you are affected by the suicide of another person:

6. Those who know someone affected by the suicide of another person

If you know someone bereaved by suicide, it can be difficult to know what to do or say. Survivors are at risk for suicide, and they are at even greater risk if they are socially isolated.

What you can do if you know someone affected by the suicide of another person:

  • Offer your sympathy, condolences and support.
  • Don’t avoid the topic of suicide.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of mental disorders and warning signs of suicide.
  • Suggest the possibility of seeking counseling or joining a support group.
  • Take care of yourself so you can be there for the bereaved person.

7. Primary care physicians (PCPs)

Primary care physicians play an important role in screening for suicide risk. At any given time, 2% to 4% of patients visiting their PCP are having thoughts of suicide. Over 75% of those who die by suicide have seen a PCP in the year before their death; but only about 30% have received mental health services. Studies have shown that educating doctors in assessing and treating depression leads to reductions in suicide.

What you can do if you are a PCP:

8. Mental health professionals

Many mental health professionals haven’t received adequate training in suicide prevention. According to a 2013 study, only about 50% of psychologists, 25% of social workers, and 6% of counselors have training in suicide risk assessment.

What you can do if you are a mental health professional:

  • Get training in suicide risk assessment and renew your knowledge regularly.
  • Get a free Suicide Assessment Pocket Card for clinicians, available from SAMHSA.
  • Find trainings, webinars and other resources through the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
  • Consult with colleagues as needed.
  • Communicate hope to clients and their families, and let them know that recovery is possible.

9. Employers and managers

Because mental disorders are so common, it’s highly likely that some of your employees have one — and it’s also likely that some aren’t getting treatment.

What you can do if you are an employer or manager:

  • Include mental health benefits in employee health plans and encourage people to use them when needed.
  • Promote the mental health of employees through organizational changes and wellness programs.
  • Check out the resources at Working Minds on suicide prevention in the workplace.
  • Arrange for the National Alliance on Mental Illness to do an “In Our Own Voice” presentation for your organization to increase employees’ understanding of mental illness.

10. Journalists, bloggers and others who report and write about suicide

Journalists play an important role in the public’s perception of suicide. By reporting news stories about suicides properly, they can help prevent the documented phenomenon of “suicide contagion” or “copycat suicides”. Suicide contagion is more likely when media sources describe the suicide method, sensationalize the story using dramatic or graphic content or give the story extensive and repeated coverage.

What you can do if you are a journalist, blogger or otherwise write or report on suicide:

If we all do our part to reach out and save lives on World Suicide Prevention Day and beyond, we can get people at risk the help they need, reduce suicides and alleviate a lot of pain and suffering.


world suicide attention day

Obviously the trigger warning here is suicide, I want to add a caveat – if you’re a survivor, I’m extremely concerned that my post will cause you pain, and I don’t want you to be sore. Firstly I just need to say RIP all the warriors who fell on their own swords in battle, and…

World Suicide Prevention Day

Like many (most?) amongst the Bipolaratti, I too have entertained the notion of killing myself. I’ve even had one incident since getting diagnosed with bipolar, but thankfully, only the one.

Having said that, I’ve not trended much towards suicidiality. I’ve always done my best to pull myself along by self-cheering, and reminding myself that it could always be worse. I’m not sure how I convinced myself of such at all those pits I had to climb back out of after the worst of depressive episodes, but anyways.

 

That One Time…

The longest period of depression that was leading to the contemplation of suicide was when I was 19. I had been bullied into attending community college on my own dime after being utterly burned out at the end of high school. I was working full time atop a full time school schedule (as I had been through the second half of high school), except unlike high school, I had a shitty car eating up most of my money. It was nice to have that measure of freedom, but not so nice to almost die all the time because the breaks apparently didn’t know how to work (in spite of being replaced completely at least once, if not twice).

Suffices to say, was running on the ghost of the fumes after the tank is empty, and it was killing me. I remember sitting at home on a rare night off, sobbing with exhaustion, doing my best to keep my brain from going down dark paths. I was ‘saved’ by having to rescue some alcoholic idiots, which pushed me into my Meg Murry-esque saving fault: anger. I got angry enough to realise that I desperately had to change something in my life, and opted to join the Air Force.

 

That Other Time…

In some ways, it was a great idea to join the military, but in a lot of other ways, it wasn’t. I mainly liked my job, but I worked rotation shifts, never got enough sleep, and had sleep paralysis complete with seeing my loved ones trying to kill me while I laid there unable to move. I drank enough to float the entire Navy, and in general was in horrible shape the entire time. The closest I came to suicide in all that was trying to throw myself off the balcony while drunk because my cheating boyfriend kept gaslighting the fuck out of me. He stopped me, and was rewarded with a Hello Kitty stool thrown over my shoulder straight into his face. I hadn’t felt suicidal per se at that time (outside of being incredibly depressed and isolated), but that flash point made me decide that I needed to die immediately.

 

Kk, Time to Die Now

Really, that’s the big problem with me and suicidal stuff — it comes out of nowhere. The incident that occurred in 2012 was just my brain screaming for some relief from the combination of extreme physical and mental pain that were happening within that particular framework of hours. My psychiatrist didn’t seem too concerned by that, and I guess I didn’t want to dwell on it either? I also suspect the chances of that sort of incident occurring again is lower now that I am better at candidly telling things to my spouse instead of having to push myself into rage to overcome despair.


 

Now, why am I sharing this? As it says at the top, today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Because of my own experiences, and because of the experiences of my friends, I care deeply about preventing suicide. While my personal experiences have been transient and blessedly infrequent, I have friends who have spent months or years in a suicidal fugue. It matters to me that I can be there and supportive of my friends without making them feel cornered by trite ‘truisisms’, or trying to force them to think about what anyone outside of themselves. Certainly, I want all of my friends to live long and full lives, but the best thing I can give them, and they in turn can give me, is a safe space to think out loud.

And that, really, is the main thing that I am putting out there for World Suicide Prevention Day. You are not alone. There are people out there who you can talk to if you are feeling suicidal. Yes, ‘everyone knows’ about the hotlines you can call, but what if you’re not a phone person? Most of my closest friends with mental illnesses are emphatically not phone people, so having to try to handle calling someone while being in a distressed state is just impossible to consider. And even worse, most of the ‘big’ places like the Samaritans here in the United Kingdom have little to no online support — many places I saw when Googling around had limited online hours.

To that end, I made the below. The first three have online text chat availability, while the last one is a fairly comprehensive directory of things. If you are feeling suicidal or alone, please — reach out to someone who wants to help you. Hell, feel free to contact me if you want someone to talk at, though my old lady hours mean that I’m not going to be up for more than a couple more hours today.

Really though, you guys all matter out there, and I would be sad to lose any of y’all (for what it’s worth). I hope everyone is having a good day, as I always do, and if not? I hope the bad passes swiftly.

<3

swpd

Vanity V. Sanity, Part I

After fending it off for like maybe a year, I finally let my doctor prescribe me Depakote. I’m at that point again where I feel like I have no choice. My mood for the last 6ish days has been extremely unpredictable and varied. I’m ecstatic at 11 a.m., fiercely focused on a writing project at 3 p.m., then depressed and contemplating suicide by 6. (I’m not in any real danger right now, my husband is watching me like a hawk and my roommate has a keen eye for this shit. Oh yeah, and I’m doing my part too, that shouldn’t be discounted. Part of me not trying to kill myself is me trying not to kill myself.)

I got a couple blood draws yesterday to check my liver and thyroid – but especially my liver ’cause Depakote can apparently trash your liver. Because with bipolar it seems – or at least with my bipolar – relief never comes without strings attached. I can have a healthy mind or a healthy liver, but the combination of both is not guaranteed me. Lithium lifers know this one all too well. After I left the walk-in diagnostic center at the hospital, I went to get my prescription filled immediately so I could start the Depakote last night, before I had the chance to scare the shit out of myself by reading too much about it and its side effects on the Internet. Before I had the chance to talk myself out of piling another mood stabilizer on top of my current cocktail ’cause, as of right now, I’m not swapping out the Depakote for any other drug. That’ll probably happen sometime in the near future, but for right now, we’re just adding. I hate that. I really do. The fucking pharmacy was out of Depakote. They told me to come back Friday after noon. I just wanted to pull the damned trigger. I didn’t used to be such a wuss when it came to meds, but Depakote will be the 18th psych med I’ve tried in just under 8 years. I’ve had a few bad reactions, both instantaneous and longterm. I’ve had the side effects of otherwise helpful medication make my life shittier than it needs to be. Sometimes it just seems easier to suffer and to force my loved ones to deal with my contagious suffering than to wander through territory that’s both new and old at the same time.

But the thing that scares me the most is the possibility of contracting the stupids. Depakote is an anti-epileptic. I’ve tried 2 other drugs in this class before and they both made me dumb as a sack of doorknobs. One of them was really uncomfortable to wean off of. I couldn’t find the words I was looking for. I couldn’t concentrate easily or read properly. If this blog goes silent, it might be because I’m doing really well on Depakote and my vocabulary has shrunk to that of a 4 year-old’s.

So I’m being a little hyperbolic here. But I’m apprehensive and I’m scared, Ok? This is why I wanted to just start taking the damned pills yesterday evening so I wouldn’t have time to let this shit marinate. I’m pretty fragile already. I’ve been struggling with a pretty bad depressive episode since the end of May. I don’t feel like I can do very much well, but at least I can read and write better than most people. I dance like a snake handler and I can’t drive a car for shit. I know what I’m bad at and it’s almost everything, but the things I’m actually good at require a certain level of mental acuity that, when compromised PISSES ME THE FUCK OFF. Nobody wants to feel useless, especially those of us who’ve been fighting off feelings of uselessness for 3 and a half months.

Ok. Silver lining: Depakote prevents migraines. I mean, I might still have hair loss and double vision which is just fucking GREAT ’cause my vision is already garbage. I joked to a woman in my husband’s eye doctor’s office yesterday that my right eye is primarily ornamental. It’s barely a joke. THIS. THIS PARAGRAPH RIGHT HERE. This is why I didn’t wanna give myself time to overthink this ’cause I insist upon fixating on the potential negative side effects and ignore the fact that I’m taking this medication to make me better. But I look at the future and see a bald, blind idiot who is nothing else but not dead.

In my calmer moments, I’ve written about quality of life issues regarding medication and treatment and trying to find a workable balance between the necessary goods and the inescapable bads, and I think I did so with deliberation and some degree of restraint. This is not one of those moments. This is a fuck everything I hate my life I’mma put my fist through a wall I know how to do that now moment. I think I should be allowed these occasionally so that when I finally get my hands on those damned pills, I might’ve worked some of the resentment at my lot out of my system. Here’s hoping.

So, maybe some of you who are taking or have taken Depakote will read this and be like, “Laura. Chill, dude. It’s not the nightmare you’re envisioning. It might actually help and you won’t become a drooling, hairless crone devoid of human-like cognitive faculties.” To which I say: I love you, but shut up.

I just need to air out my insecurities.

But seriously, I still love you.

I’m just not at my most rational right now, which, all things considered in this post, should bug me a lot. But I’ve kinda worked myself into a small tantrum. I gave myself stomach knots and I wouldn’t mind a solid cry right now. It’s ok. It’ll pass. I’ll be fine. I got pills for this shit.

-LB

Tagged: anger, bipolar disorder, depression, fear, meds, mental health, migraines, quality of life, side effects, suicide, treatment, vanity

Vanity V. Sanity, Part I

After fending it off for like maybe a year, I finally let my doctor prescribe me Depakote. I’m at that point again where I feel like I have no choice. My mood for the last 6ish days has been extremely unpredictable and varied. I’m ecstatic at 11 a.m., fiercely focused on a writing project at 3 p.m., then depressed and contemplating suicide by 6. (I’m not in any real danger right now, my husband is watching my like a hawk and my roommate has a keen eye for this shit. Oh yeah, and I’m doing my part too, that shouldn’t be discounted. Part of me not trying to kill myself is me trying not to kill myself.)

I got a couple blood draws yesterday to check my liver and thyroid – but especially my liver ’cause Depakote can apparently trash your liver. Because with bipolar it seems – or at least with my bipolar – relief never comes without strings attached. I can have a healthy mind or a healthy liver, but the combination of both is not guaranteed me. Lithium lifers know this one all too well. After I left the walk-in diagnostic center at the hospital, I went to get my prescription filled immediately so I could start the Depakote last night, before I had the chance to scare the shit out of myself by reading too much about it and its side effects on the Internet. Before I had the chance to talk myself out of piling another mood stabilizer on top of my current cocktail ’cause, as of right now, I’m not swapping out the Depakote for any other drug. That’ll probably happen sometime in the near future, but for right now, we’re just adding. I hate that. I really do. The fucking pharmacy was out of Depakote. They told me to come back Friday after noon. I just wanted to pull the damned trigger. I didn’t used to be such a wuss when it came to meds, but Depakote will be the 18th psych med I’ve tried in just under 8 years. I’ve had a few bad reactions, both instantaneous and longterm. I’ve had the side effects of otherwise helpful medication make my life shittier than it needs to be. Sometimes it just seems easier to suffer and to force my loved ones to deal with my contagious suffering than to wander through territory that’s both new and old at the same time.

But the thing that scares me the most is the possibility of contracting the stupids. Depakote is an anti-epileptic. I’ve tried 2 other drugs in this class before and the both made me dumb as a sack of doorknobs. One of them was really uncomfortable to wean off of. I couldn’t find the words I was looking for. I couldn’t concentrate easily or read properly. If this blog goes silent, it might be because I’m doing really well on Depakote and my vocabulary has shrunk to that of a 4 year-old’s.

So I’m being a little hyperbolic here. But I’m apprehensive and I’m scared, Ok? This is why I wanted to just start taking the damned pills yesterday evening so I wouldn’t have time to let this shit marinate. I’m pretty fragile already. I’ve been struggling with a pretty bad depressive episode since the end of May. I don’t feel like I can do very much well, but at least I can read and write better than most people. I dance like a snake handler and I can’t drive a car for shit. I know what I’m bad at and it’s almost everything, but the things I’m actually good at require a certain level of mental acuity that, when compromised PISSES ME THE FUCK OFF. Nobody wants to feel useless, especially those of us who’ve been fighting off feelings of uselessness for 3 and a half months.

Ok. Silver lining: Depakote prevents migraines. I mean, I might still have hair loss and double vision which is just fucking GREAT ’cause my vision is already garbage. I joked to a woman in my husband’s eye doctor’s office yesterday that my right eye is primarily ornamental. It’s barely a joke. THIS. THIS PARAGRAPH RIGHT HERE. This is why I didn’t wanna give myself time to overthink this ’cause I insist upon fixating on the potential negative side effects and ignore the fact that I’m taking this medication to make me better. But I look at the future and see a bald, blind idiot who is nothing else but not dead.

In my calmer moments, I’ve written about quality of life issues regarding medication and treatment and trying to find a workable balance between the necessary goods and the inescapable bads, and I think I did so with deliberation and some degree of restraint. This is not one of those moments. This is a fuck everything I hate my life I’mma put my fist through a wall I know how to do that now moment. I think I should be allowed these occasionally so that when I finally get my hands on those damned pills, I might’ve worked some of the resentment at my lot out of my system. Here’s hoping.

So, maybe some of you who are taking or have taken Depakote will read this and be like, “Laura. Chill, dude. It’s not the nightmare you’re envisioning. It might actually help and you won’t become a drooling, hairless crone devoid of human-like cognitive faculties.” To which I say: I love you, but shut up.

I just need to air out my insecurities.

But seriously, I still love you.

I’m just not at my most rational right now, which, all things considered in this post, should bug me a lot. But I’ve kinda worked myself into a small tantrum. I gave myself stomach knots and I wouldn’t mind a solid cry right now. It’s ok. It’ll pass. I’ll be fine. I got pills for this shit.

-LB

Tagged: anger, bipolar disorder, depression, fear, meds, mental health, migraines, quality of life, side effects, suicide, treatment, vanity

(S)he’s Been Away #2

It has been over 2 months since I last made an effort to get your attention. I will post again soon. In the meantime here is a post from the archives.

It’s been a month or so, for those of you who follow these ramblings on a regular basis, since I last bothered you with my wisdom on two wheels. Too busy clocking up autumnal miles in the Sussex countryside as the changing colours make me look up from my handlebars and take it all in?

Nope.

All this time I have only once been seen out in my bike tights. I’ve only been out on local trips clocking up a couple of miles here and there, and what’s more I haven’t bothered to check why my bike computer has decided to blank me this whole time, either.

Warning: Self Pitying Moan Approaching….

Did any of you wonder why? If you did, no one said anything to me about it. That wasn’t how it was that first time I disappeared from my usual haunts because I had vanished into a peat bog.

That was in the spring of 2001. I had been dagnosed with depression and off work for I forget how long – a while, anyhow. Enough for it to have been more than the flu, that’s for sure. I’d been running a mental health day centre at the time. No, really.  I had immediately told my colleagues. In fact I had insisted on going into work (it was a Health and Safety Training Day which, I recall, had included sinister references to the dangers of using the coffee machine in the corridor). I think that my team were surprised, even a little shocked, but it felt important for me to tell them. Did I want to reassure them that I’d be back? Or me, that this thing was not so serious?

My return to work was, as these things tend to be in my experience, a somewhat damp affair. Coming back to a place where – I had come to realise while I had been away, trying out various antidepressants – was, well, a place I had no business working (let alone being in charge). I had expected people – who had been a whole lot sicker than me – to actually turn up fully dressed and with something sensible to say about current affairs (we provided a selection of daily papers for the punters). Side effects? Well one slobbering, word – slurring side effect of my return to work was to realise with all the clarity of someone on 200 mgs of Sulpride (some of them, not me), that I had had absolutely no idea about mental illness, its symptoms or the impact it has on, well, anyone.

The moment I remember most clearly was when one of the people who used the service asked me what had been the matter that I had been away so long. Without missing a beat I replied, ‘my probation officer said it would be alright to come back…’ I relished the moment of shock and delight on her face as she registered what a story this was to share at the day centre lunch later that day. I gave it a moment and winked at her, and saw all her goggle – eyed interest evaporate.

These days some people think that I’m on a bit of a mission to tell anyone who will listen about my moods and mental health in general. It’s not just part of my role as a Peer Supporter where it’s my job to share my experiences with fellow travellers in order to promote recovery, fuller, more meaningful lives, but a kind of soundtrack playing in the background.

I’ve taken the title of this edition from a film that is worth watching if you have a spare 1 hour 42 minutes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHr8lLYdiSU

The Tollund Man

I
Some day I will go to Aarhus

To see his peat-brown head,

The mild pods of his eye-lids,

His pointed skin cap.

In the flat country near by

Where they dug him out,

His last gruel of winter seeds

Caked in his stomach,

Naked except for

The cap, noose and girdle,

I will stand a long time.

Bridegroom to the goddess,

She tightened her torc on him

And opened her fen,

Those dark juices working

Him to a saint’s kept body,

Trove of the turfcutters’

Honeycombed workings.

Now his stained face Reposes at Aarhus.

II
I could risk blasphemy,

Consecrate the cauldron bog

Our holy ground and pray

Him to make germinate

The scattered, ambushed

Flesh of labourers,

Stockinged corpses

Laid out in the farmyards,

Tell-tale skin and teeth

Flecking the sleepers

Of four young brothers, trailed

For miles along the lines.

III
Something of his sad freedom

As he rode the tumbril

Should come to me, driving,

Saying the names

Tollund, Grauballe, Nebelgard,

Watching the pointing hands

Of country people,

Not knowing their tongue.

Out here in Jutland

In the old man-killing parishes

I will feel lost, Unhappy and at home

Seamus Heaney (1939 – 2013)

 


(S)he’s Been Away #2

It has been over 2 months since I last made an effort to get your attention. I will post again soon. In the meantime here is a post from the archives.

It’s been a month or so, for those of you who follow these ramblings on a regular basis, since I last bothered you with my wisdom on two wheels. Too busy clocking up autumnal miles in the Sussex countryside as the changing colours make me look up from my handlebars and take it all in?

Nope.

All this time I have only once been seen out in my bike tights. I’ve only been out on local trips clocking up a couple of miles here and there, and what’s more I haven’t bothered to check why my bike computer has decided to blank me this whole time, either.

Warning: Self Pitying Moan Approaching….

Did any of you wonder why? If you did, no one said anything to me about it. That wasn’t how it was that first time I disappeared from my usual haunts because I had vanished into a peat bog.

That was in the spring of 2001. I had been dagnosed with depression and off work for I forget how long – a while, anyhow. Enough for it to have been more than the flu, that’s for sure. I’d been running a mental health day centre at the time. No, really.  I had immediately told my colleagues. In fact I had insisted on going into work (it was a Health and Safety Training Day which, I recall, had included sinister references to the dangers of using the coffee machine in the corridor). I think that my team were surprised, even a little shocked, but it felt important for me to tell them. Did I want to reassure them that I’d be back? Or me, that this thing was not so serious?

My return to work was, as these things tend to be in my experience, a somewhat damp affair. Coming back to a place where – I had come to realise while I had been away, trying out various antidepressants – was, well, a place I had no business working (let alone being in charge). I had expected people – who had been a whole lot sicker than me – to actually turn up fully dressed and with something sensible to say about current affairs (we provided a selection of daily papers for the punters). Side effects? Well one slobbering, word – slurring side effect of my return to work was to realise with all the clarity of someone on 200 mgs of Sulpride (some of them, not me), that I had had absolutely no idea about mental illness, its symptoms or the impact it has on, well, anyone.

The moment I remember most clearly was when one of the people who used the service asked me what had been the matter that I had been away so long. Without missing a beat I replied, ‘my probation officer said it would be alright to come back…’ I relished the moment of shock and delight on her face as she registered what a story this was to share at the day centre lunch later that day. I gave it a moment and winked at her, and saw all her goggle – eyed interest evaporate.

These days some people think that I’m on a bit of a mission to tell anyone who will listen about my moods and mental health in general. It’s not just part of my role as a Peer Supporter where it’s my job to share my experiences with fellow travellers in order to promote recovery, fuller, more meaningful lives, but a kind of soundtrack playing in the background.

I’ve taken the title of this edition from a film that is worth watching if you have a spare 1 hour 42 minutes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHr8lLYdiSU

The Tollund Man

I
Some day I will go to Aarhus

To see his peat-brown head,

The mild pods of his eye-lids,

His pointed skin cap.

In the flat country near by

Where they dug him out,

His last gruel of winter seeds

Caked in his stomach,

Naked except for

The cap, noose and girdle,

I will stand a long time.

Bridegroom to the goddess,

She tightened her torc on him

And opened her fen,

Those dark juices working

Him to a saint’s kept body,

Trove of the turfcutters’

Honeycombed workings.

Now his stained face Reposes at Aarhus.

II
I could risk blasphemy,

Consecrate the cauldron bog

Our holy ground and pray

Him to make germinate

The scattered, ambushed

Flesh of labourers,

Stockinged corpses

Laid out in the farmyards,

Tell-tale skin and teeth

Flecking the sleepers

Of four young brothers, trailed

For miles along the lines.

III
Something of his sad freedom

As he rode the tumbril

Should come to me, driving,

Saying the names

Tollund, Grauballe, Nebelgard,

Watching the pointing hands

Of country people,

Not knowing their tongue.

Out here in Jutland

In the old man-killing parishes

I will feel lost, Unhappy and at home

Seamus Heaney (1939 – 2013)