Daily Archives: November 20, 2016

Devil Has Taken up Court

Tyranny run amok
In the recesses of my mind
The devil has taken up court
And he is most unkind
Thoughts don’t feel like my mine
Reverberations of self hate
Confusion and guilt
Influenced by his lordship
He pushes me as I begin to slip
Into the darkness of his hell
His fire and brimstone
Manipulate my soul
Heavy handed he baits me
Presenting me the rope
As if in grand ceremony
He shall awash me of pain
My body heaving for breath
Soon lay 6 feet under
Cold, damp dark soil
Surrounding me
Protecting me
As his dubious demands at first
Caused ripples of recoil
They snaked their way into my psyche
Feverishly adding oil
Aiding my descent
Into unknown charters of the deceased

Wow I’ve Been Missing A Lot

October was not that great to be honest. I was depressed most of the time and spent many, well every day stoned off my ass.

November I started to feel something different. Not quite full happiness but I was wanting to do somethings and be involved. I laughed often. I was also stoned off my ass every day.

Today I am sad. I have legit reasons to feel sad. I’m lonely. My mom left. You know legit shit like that. I hope the meds are working and this is just normal emotions, I’ve felt numb for so long it is hard to tell what is what.

I have way more reasons I should be happy and yet here I am, not happy. Also feeling guilty about not writing while my mom visited as much. I only get so little time with her though.

I’ve signed up for another year for my blog so I guess I’m going to be here for a awhile.


Yemen of the Mind

I was reading about racing cyclists in Yemen recently.  As you might imagine resources for the sport in a country that has been described as a ‘failed state’ are scarce.  The national team find it nearly impossible to fund participation in international cycling competitions.  The last time they were able to compete on the international stage was at the Arab Club Championships held in Egypt in 2006.  At home the small team of riders wearing faded sun – bleached lycra and riding bicycles that are in varying states of repair, cycling at altitudes of over 7,500 feet in Sana’a the country’s capital – higher than some parts of the French Alps.

But lack of oxygen and funding are not the only challenges facing these riders.  Attitudes towards them among the general public are hostile, to say the least.  These lycra – clad cyclists routinely face verbal abuse and worse.  They are seen as different, strange and therefore alien.  Riders have to contend with more than being cut up by a stressed out driver on the commute to work.  Dodging rocks being hurled at them, lorry drivers running them off the road are frequent challenges they face as they ride round the capital – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As remote from my surroundings as this country situated on the Arabian Peninsula is, I was struck by similarities in attitude that people with mental health problems are faced with.  It may be relatively rare that people with mental health problems (in the developed world) are attacked in public, but there are still attacks of a diiferent kind that we face every day.  People may not throw stones at us, but they can, and do run us off the road with silence, thoughtless quips and the lazy use of terms such as ‘mad’, ‘manic’, ‘depressed’.  They run us off the road with low expectations, impatience and the inability, or unwillingness to listen to us.

If my tone sounds angry it is because I am.

For some one for whom mood swings are – to put it mildly – a problem, sometimes my feelings are just that: feelings.  I’m not angry because sometimes my mood can spike sharply from relaxed to shouting and swearing in a moment, I’m angry because the attitudes I am describing here (and not for the first time) cause so much pain.

Now that he’s got that off his chest he’ll feel a whole lot better, right?

Sometimes it’s not me who needs to change my attitude.

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)

Good riddance to benzo dependence

If you have been following this series and you realise that you are dependent on these buggers, you will hopefully be motivated to cease your extended use. I am positive that this is possible, but it won’t be a walk in the park.

Who’s Crazy Now? A Guide to Gaslighting

“You’re crazy. I never said that.”

“That’s not the way it happened. You’re crazy.”

“No one believes you. You’re crazy.”

“You’re crazy. You’re just overreacting.”

What do these statements have in common? Obviously, they involve one person telling another that she or he is crazy.

More subtly though, the speaker is saying that the other’s perceptions and feelings are invalid, untrue – wrong.

And that’s gaslighting.

Gaslighting describes a mind game that emotional abusers use to control their victims. (Gaslight is also an old movie, in which a husband uses the technique to try to convince his wife that she is insane. The victim of gaslighting is usually a woman and the perpetrator usually a man. Of course this is not always true. Either sex can be the gaslighter and either sex the gaslightee.)

But what does gaslighting have to do with bipolar disorder? Someone who is in the depressive phase of bipolar – especially one who is undiagnosed – is especially susceptible to gaslighting. The very nature of depression leaves a person wondering, “Am I insane?” To have another person reinforcing that only strengthens the idea.

Back when I was undiagnosed and in the middle of a major depressive episode, I had an experience of being gaslit. My grasp on reality was not entirely firm at the time, both because of the depression and because I was physically, socially, and emotionally cut off from the outside world, family and most friends. This isolation left the gaslighter, Rex, in a position of control.

I endured everyday denials of reality, like those mentioned above, but the most obvious one – the one that made me aware that I was being gaslit –happened when I suggested that we go for couples counseling. Rex asked if I was sure I wanted to, as he and the therapist could declare me a danger to self and others and have me put away. That, of course, was not true and I knew it wasn’t, which gave me my first clue that something was amiss.

When we got to the couple’s sessions, Rex tenderly held my hand and spoke of how concerned he was about me and how much he wanted to help me get better. In other words, he was saying that I was the crazy one, and that he wasn’t. That is the very basis of gaslighting – to make the other person seem or possibly even become crazy.

Once a person recognizes the gaslighting for what it is, she can begin learning to trust her own perceptions again. For a person in the grips of depression or mania, this will not be easy. I know it wasn’t for me.

It took a long time and a lot of healing before I could recognize what had happened, how my circumstances had been controlled, how my perceptions had been invalidated – how I had been gaslit. That was a vast revelation. It was like turning the tube of a kaleidoscope and seeing a different pattern come into focus. The elements that made up my life may have been the same, but the new perspective changed everything.

Having someone outside the situation who can validate your perceptions is an important tool in recovery. Sometimes a friend or family member can perform this function, but mental health professionals who have been trained in the process are often more successful. They are the people we often turn to to tell us we are not crazy, that our feelings are valid, and that being the mind game of gaslighting has affected us.

Getting help for the depression or bipolar disorder is also an important step in escaping the effects of gaslighting. With proper therapy and/or medication, a person’s thinking becomes more clear, accurate, and trusted. Turning off the gaslight is like turning on a much more powerful kind of light – one that illuminates your life, improves your clarity of vision, and begins to break through the gloom and despair.

And that light is more powerful than gaslight.

Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: bipolar disorder, bullying, depression, gaslighting, mental health, mind games, my experiences, support systems

Struggling Up That Hill: Anger, Bipolar, & Me

Dawn near one of those hills: Nov 2016

Dawn near one of those hills: Nov 2016

Warnings for: the usual really – whinging, swearing, self pity

If I only could / I’d make a deal with God …” – Kate Bush

Today’s song is, of course, this one. Lately, I’ve been absent from this blog, due partly to depression, and partly because of other commitments. One of those commitments is National Short Story Week, which ended yesterdat. This is at least the third year that Sine FM and my show, Book It! has been involved. It’s hard work at times, but also good fun.

If you fancy hearing some cracking stories, you can listen to the podcast.

I’ve also been running up that work hill: night shifts, plus changes to work patterns, mean it’s been more of a struggle than usual, at times. I’ve written before about my tendency to feckin’ swear, sometimes at considerable length, and with additional blasphemy. This can upset listeners, and passersby. Which is fair enough, even if swearing helps relieve my stress.

Recently, I’ve been running up another hill, as well as the sort of thing which, given I’m fat, in my late 50s, and have a knackered left knee, might as well be hills:

Over the bridge, & far away: Doncaster, Nov 2016

Over the bridge, & far away: Doncaster, Nov 2016

Many fellow Doncastrians will recognise the bridge above: it’s at the non-shopping bit of Lakeside. The internet tells me that the artificial lake was created in the mid 90s, which helps explain why the small hills which were created in the process are looking more and more, well, natural.

A plethora of plants: Nov 2016

A plethora of plants: Nov 2016

I’ve started jogging for a variety of reasons: training for a race in March 2017; hopes of using that race to raise money for mental health charities; a desire to get fit, and – cross fingers – lose weight, plus, I know being out in Nature helps me.

In addition, I was inspired by a young man with bipolar, talking about how running helps him. He was one of several people, including Alistair Campbell, and Frank Bruno, who spoke frankly about their mental health, in a recent programme on Channel 5. While there were at least two who talked about bipolar, it was this (formerly) angry young man who I identified with the most. If running helps him with his anger, highs, and lows, why not me, too?

Thanks, mate. I wish I remembered your name. Because, so far, so good.

A clay snail I made in the ward around 10 years ago, and gave to a friend, and symbolizes my current running pace

A clay snail I made in the ward years ago, and gave to a friend, symbolizes my current running pace

Tagged: anger, bipolar, charity, Doncaster, Kate Bush, mental health, National Short Story Week, nature, radio, short stories, Sine FM, work, writing

Quite A Situation!

img_2312 A 2

Anxiety, I wonder why I have anxiety? Well here’s a clue! The maintenance department of MJ Peterson leaves a whole lot to be desired! On Thursday, my son went to take a shower and was electrocuted by the hot and cold knobs and the shower head. He felt nauseous, his heart was racing, and generally felt bad as well as his hand hurt! I was in Louisville, he called my husband and me and told us what happened, we were absolutely flabbergasted, we told him to call maintenance. They came, wearing rubber soled sneakers and NO voltmeter. Of course they didn’t get shocked, and saying they couldn’t do anything about this, they left! On Friday, I called an electrician in Amherst from Louisville, he came promptly and did bring a voltmeter, and told my son that there was quite a bit of electricity, ie 90 volts, running through the shower fixtures! So Saturday he called maintenance again, and these two … came and touched the shower and said we don’t feel anything and left. They said they’d be back on Monday, and they couldn’t fix anything if they couldn’t feel it. That was it, the risk of an electrical fire and electrocution for my son was enough. I got on a plane today and got into Amherst this evening. We were planning to come for thanksgiving anyway, I just came early. Today, Aral could feel there was a lot of electricity, so he called maintenance again, they refused to even show up, said they’d come sometime Monday. So we called another electrician and he told us there were 600 watts running through the shower!! An average light bulb is 60 watts, this was like 10 light bulbs! So we have two reports from two electricians, and we are ready to talk to the manager and maintenance people. We will be moving Aral from this wretched place into a new place with hopefully a maintenance department which actually maintains the apartments and your security! I just cannot believe their cavalier attitude about something as dangerous as electricity. Aral being a lawyer, he has written up everything, stating they have breached the “implied warranty of habitabily” 🙂 and hopefully we will throw the book at these incompetent people. I mean really, the danger of an electrical fire, say it happened when he was sleeping, not to mention getting electrocuted, and not being able to use your shower for 5 days, that wasn’t enough for these people to come and repair what was wrong!!! Idiots! Monday, I’m waiting for Monday too!