Daily Archives: September 1, 2013

Sobbing Again

I'm sobbing again. It's a regular thing lately but this time I'm crying because I'm happy. I've just seen my son and for the first time in years I felt really proud of him. He just seemed "normal" and when he said goodbye he told me he loved me. I haven't heard that in such a long time. He's managed to wean himself off the methadone completely. I'm under no illusions that he still has the hardest job to stay drug free but for him to get this far is something I'd given up hope of ever seeing. To be able to have a proper conversation about everyday things is such a joy. He's spent time with my family and when I've spoken to them they've had nothing but good things to say. I knew deep down there was a good person trying to get out. He's struggling with withdrawals from the methadone but he's managing to go to work and carry on with everyday things. He's probably done more in the last couple of weeks than he's done in years. He's been out for a meal, been to the pub, been for a bike ride, all things that most people take for granted. I was watching him laughing and joking with my Dad and it brought a lump to my throat. Seeing him look so well and happy is everything I've wished for. I can still see that he's struggling. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must be overcoming being addicted to something like heroin and then methadone. I've read everything there is to read about it and it always says the same. Heroin is the hardest drug to beat and methadone is as bad if not worse. That makes me even more proud of him. I do worry that he'll relapse but I've never seen him this focused before and he's got the help and support he needs so I'm trying not to dwell on it. 
For the last 10 years I have watched my only child almost destroy himself and I've been helpless to do anything about it. Now I am watching him begin to pick himself up again and that's the best feeling a mother could have.

Counting Buttons

I like counting. I enjoy watching as the digits blink at me and change as I glance at my bicycle computer perched on the handlebars of my bike. How fast (and how slowly) I’m going. How many miles I’m clocking up – even when it’s on an unspectacular, familiar ride into town, or to the station. I clock the number of miles I ride in a week, and this year I have tried – with mixed results – to track how many miles I cover in a month. For someone who has made his peace with the numeric arts (we don’t get along) I am still drawn to those fiendish figures that track cyclists’ progress in the Grand Tours. They may ride in excess of 200 miles in any given stage, for example.

Then there are the steeply rising rates of diagnosis of serious mental disorders since the publication of the 4th edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual in 1994 which listed 297 mental disorders, up from 292 in the previous edition first published in 1980 (revised in 1987). There has been much muttering in the media about the unrelenting rise in prescriptions of chemical constraints (sorry, anti – depressants and the like) in the U.K., U.S.A. and elsewhere, especially the  increasing readiness of the medical community to prescribe mind – altering drugs to children because they are behaving like….children.

The numbers can keep me up nights sometimes, too. Well, not so much numbers, but the bone – rattling mumbo jumbo that clatters through my mind….morning, noon and night.

I am writing this edition while on holiday visiting family in South Africa. Earlier this week we visited the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, which is built on the site of a prison established by the British in 1904, and a notorious apartheid era prison which closed its doors in 1983. Before working in the mental health field I used to work in the criminal justice system, first for the Criminal Prosecution Service, and later in the probation service, working with ex offenders in the community, as well as with those awaiting trial for crimes ranging from shoplifting to rape and murder. So, prisons have featured in my life quite a lot for someone who has never been inside. Well, not literally. The first book I ever read about depression after I was first diagnosed back in 2001, was by the Australian psychologist Dorothy Rowe. It was called ‘Depression: The Way Out Of Your Prison’. I highly reccomend it. Her choice of imagery is stark and to the point.

Although I have not been plagued by disturbing dreams much since I began taking mood stabilising drugs every evening, I used to be plagued by nightmares, which had a recurring theme. I would dream that I had been convicted of a serious offence, and in a Kafkaesque twist, although I knew I was guilty, and had been justly convicted, I had no idea what the charges were. On one particulary disturbing occaision I woke up (in a Bed and Breakfast in Hull, as it happens) after such a dream in which I was – as usual – condemned to death. I lay there, staring at the flowery wall paper, convinced that I had woken up in the Death Cell on the morning of my execution. I’ll go into what those dreams meant another time. I relate them here because of what I read and saw in the wing of the women’s section of the prison which housed political prisoners in  solitary confinement.

Prison Cell

In 1981 an anti apartheid activist and member of the banned African National Congress (A.N.C.) Barbara Anne Hogan was arrested, held in solitary confinement for 12 months, and tortured. Visiting the wing of the prison in which she was held, I stood in a cell like the one in which she would have been incarcerated and read her account of what it was like to be locked up in such a place for so long, with no knowledge or information about whether or not she would be charged with an offence, and if so what that might be. She wrote of how one of the ways she tried to cope with these harsh conditions was to lie on her matress and look at the ceiling and count the lines of button – like designs, row upon row, upon row upon…..

I don’t pretend to have been through what Barbara Anne Hogan was subjected to, but standing by the bed, looking up at the ceiling, I was transported right back to the bedroom of that Bed and Breakfast all those years ago.

Even though the house is deeply silent

and the room, with no moon,
is perfectly dark,
even though the body is a sack of exhaustion
inert on the bed,

someone inside me will not
get off his tricycle,
will not stop tracing the same tight circle
on the same green threadbare carpet.

It makes no difference whether I lie
staring at the ceiling
or pace the living-room floor,
he keeps on making his furious rounds,
little pedaler in his frenzy,
my own worst enemy, my oldest friend.

What is there to do but close my eyes
and watch him circling the night,
schoolboy in an ill-fitting jacket,
leaning forward, his cap on backwards,
wringing the handlebars,
maintaining a certain speed?

Does anything exist at this hour
in this nest of dark rooms
but the spectacle of him
and the hope that before dawn
I can lift out some curious detail
that will carry me off to sleep—
the watch that encircles his pale wrist,
the expandable band,
the tiny hands that keep pointing this way and that.

  Billy Collins (1941-)


I don't know why he's doing it. I don't know why my ex husband is so concerned with how I am. Since I've not been well this time he's texted or phoned me nearly every day. He even came to see me and brought some shopping. He says its because he still cares about me and always will. But why? Why does he still care about me? I don't know why I'm letting him do it. I thought it was all done and dusted between us. It's a comfort that he's still there but it's also confusing. Maybe he really does just care for me and that's all there is to it. Maybe he's still in love with me and can't let me go. Maybe I'm still in love with him and that's why I let him do it. I don't know. When I felt so miserable that I didn't know what to do, having him cuddle me and kiss the top of my head and tell me I'd be ok made me feel safe. For those few minutes it felt like it used to when we were married. I shut my eyes and imagined I was back in my old house and that everything was back to the way it used to be before I got ill. Of course now I'm feeling a bit better I'm just wondering what the fuck he thought he was doing and even more so what the fuck was I doing? The problem with trying to be "just friends" with your ex is that there's too much history, too many deep feelings flying about. 
I do think he genuinely wants to help but I don't think he understands the aftermath. Its ok at the time but when he's gone and I'm left all alone wondering why we have to be apart, it seems cruel. I doubt his girlfriend would understand. She must be totally smitten or just plain dumb. He never tried to help me in the last few months we were together. He just buggered off and left me to it, so why bother now? It will be three years in November since I left and we still can't seem to draw a line under it all. When he came to see me I thought it was because he wanted to tell me she was moving in or they were getting married or something, but no it was because he was worried about me. Sometimes it's a real comfort to know that if push comes to shove he will help me and sometimes I wish he would just butt out and mind his own business. He tells me he still wants me in his life and doesn't want me to push him out. I guess it's my own fault. I need to decide once and for all wether I want to have him in my life or not and I'm just not ready to make that decision yet.

Most recent episode of Bipolar: Depression

I had been depressed for months and as many of you know it is sometimes hard to know it until it is over. So how do I know I was depressed….well it is kinda sad but here goes.
I stopped taking showers regularly. It always felt good to get in the shower but I just couldn’t get undressed.
I felt stuck, dull, and had to force a smile most of the time for about two months.
I stopped doing laundry and sweeping the floors and fixing meals
I was napping a lot
I felt unimportant in my own life (does that make sense?)
I couldn’t feel joy or elation
I was always feeling a blank stare in my head

But now I am in a much better place. Whew! Oh and I saw my psychiatrist and I told her about my lack of doing things and how I am feeling better and that I would like to get back on ADHD medicine. She said okay and so for the past week I have been very productive.

And I am just curious…
Does anyone have to take ADHD meds and it makes them tired?

The shitty and the shiny


Thursday the brain zaps were mild. The depression, churning thoughts, emotional annoyance-it was all amped up on twenty out of a ten. I began to have hyperventilating heart pounding panic attacks because my brain was on  overdrive, looking for any slight committed against me that could be used as a reason to be hurt or pissed off. And I have no idea why, its not like I want to be that way. In fact, when I am that way…

I hate myself. I hated the way I felt. My kid went to sleep at 7pm. I took 50mg Trazadone and slept myself just to escape my own brain. Though I did pay for the Trazzy D this morning, my brain was wrapped in gauze for two hours. It was all I could do to put clean clothes on my kid and hand her a pop tart.

friday-My brain zaps are constant and disconcerting, especially combined with the Novacaine brain and basically walking around in a floating head haze. My stomach is upset. My panic is barely held at bay by the xanax. I am starting to look like I have Tourette’s because of the brain zaps. The intensity is giving me physical jolts.

Saturday- 95 degrees, high humidity, and neighbor kids literally under my feet. Apparently, hanging out with me is the thing, no matter how many times I tell them to go play. I felt like I was smothering and it brought on the panic and the spazzing out anger.  I become Satan when it’s this warm and i am that crowded. I forced myself to get a grip but not before several meltdowns in which I am sure I resembled more of a child than the children. Gotta love mental illness and all its highly accurate messages telling you people really are trying to smother you therefore it’s okay to be scared and lash out by yelling and damn near bursting into tears.

I don’t think Parent magazine is going to be giving me mom of the year award any time soon.

Now it’s 12:28 Sunday morning. Earlier, all I wanted was to curl up because Spook has been psychotic lately and I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in days without her waking up. Then I realized it’s cooled off and it’s quiet and…I baked macaroon brownies. YUMMMM. I mean, 11pm is the time everyone bakes, right?

So that’s the shitty.

The shiny?

Azazel is NOT dead. He is actually doing well, moving around, eating a bit more. Between the kittens next to the shop and the ones here, I am getting a gazillion hours of fuzzy nuzzle therapy time. I cooked a sausage, egg, and cheese scramble the other night and my kid hugged me and said “You’re the best cooker of them all.” Even though my laptop is gone, I did manage to back some of the stuff from it up so I have been able to watch my favorite shows. I will never stop hating myself for not backing up the pictures, but for all my negative paranoia, I didn’t in a million years see someone invading my home to take a three hundred dollar laptop.

I initially cringed a bit when I heard the new 30 Seconds to Mars song “Up in the air”. Now I am wearing out the repeat function. Different  doesn’t mean bad.

I got a couple of cheapie Halloween items, which made my day because HALLOWEEN IS FUCKING AWESOME.

Maybe I get too focused on the shitty, but there just seems to be soooo much more of it than the shiny. R and his wife lambasted me this week, saying I am an ineffectual parent and the way my kid acts, she deserves a slap on the butt. Sure, I give her a slap on the butt, then I have the rabid “don’t blink at the snowflake, you will damage their psyche” crowd on my butt.

Parenting is a bucket of suck sometimes when people can’t mind their own damn business.

It’s just a preponderance of bullshit like that that gets me down. Just how many bad things have to happy, how much criticism do you have to take, how much mental illness bullshit do you have to deal with…before you’re entitled to be a little salty about it all?

Yeah, I tried. Salty trumped shitty and shiny.

Back to my brain zaps. Too much fun.