Grief.

 

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Some people say, that grief washes over you like waves. Those some people, are absolutely right.

When the morning approaches, it hits my body before my mind even has the chance to wake up and acknowledge the day. I feel it; a solid, heavy burning weight, like my heart has been set alight before I even open my eyes. And then I do, and the anchor of reality sinks me.

This is how I have spent each and every once of my mornings for the past 3 months. Most of these days, I have succeeded to bite down hard and talk myself in to getting out of bed and facing the day. Others, I have not.

One day, around three weeks ago, I woke up and realised that I did not want to live. This was not a passive, drifting thought. This was a certified, stubborn fact. I did not want to be here. The weightiness of Bipolar depression, of a spiral hard hitting life events, a year worth of losses, are an unhealthy concoction for the mind and the spirit.

I went to see my GP just before the truth occurred to me, an she suggested that I increased by anti-depressant up by double. I reluctantly took the prescription, paid for the charge regardless of not being able to afford them and started on my higher dose. Then a few days later, I stopped. I stopped taking my meds altogether.

You would have thought, having lived with this for years exactly how dangerous it is to just stop, that I would have accumulated at least some wisdom to keep me alive along the way. The last time I stopped taking them, I ended up attempting to drive to the hospital to seek help but instead had a brain blip and ended up manically driving to another country instead. The time before that, I also had another brain blip, but this time it happened in an Asda Superstore which resulted in me being chaperoned by an ambulance and being left hovering around in A&E with none of the medical staff not knowing what to do with me. But no, I got to the point where everything that had a point did not have a point anymore. Including taking my medication. They were not working, so what was the point in taking them?

And so I fell. I fell further than what I thought could be humanly possible.

One night, out of panic, frustration, anger at the world and with the impulse to kick and scream and do something at least, I ran out of the house, got in the car and put my foot down. I ended up in the hills, in the middle of the night but instead of screaming or doing something stupid, I fumbled around frantically for a pen and ripped a scrap of paper and wrote the first thing my hand would write, without even thinking of what I was writing. I wrote one word and then froze with it.

FRAUD. 

Fraud. Is that what I have been feeling all this time? A fraud? The answer was yes. I did not feel like I belonged. I don’t belong in a room full of people. I don’t belong in society. My thoughts, my beliefs, my morals were all different and it pushed me further and further from this planet until I got pushed so far I could not find my way back in to it.

I took a train one evening. I got out in to town, I tried to enjoy myself, but it was there, ebbing inside my chest. Fraud. I took a train, but the train was cancelled and moved to another platform. It was busy. The whole of the commuters pushed and ran – why were they running? –  they ran like a flock of desperate souls to this other platform, and they all scrambled on to this train, pushing and shoving and elbowing in the battle, each one of them only looking out for themselves in their fight to get on to this train and get a seat at the cost of other people. I did not understand why they were running for this train like their lives depended on it. I did not understand why they were fighting to aggressively to get a seat. Was it really so important? I stood beside the crowd, watching them like rats in their desperate efforts and felt more like an outsider because I couldn’t understand it. They scrambled on to the train like I had been scrambling on to my last reason to stay alive.

I fell further. I stopped sleeping properly. I didn’t tell people. Occasionally, I mentioned it to my partner.

“I feel down.”

“I don’t feel too good today.”

“My anxiety is shocking.”

“I can’t do this anymore.”

Then we would talk, and I would feel comforted for a moment. Then the next day I’d say, “I feel bad today,” and he’d say –

“Why? I thought you was feeling better?”

If a rant, and a cuddle and a cry on ones shoulder was all it took to make it completely disappear, then I would be the healthiest and most happiest girl on this planet. Depression doesn’t care whether you are rich with love and with the strength given by other people.

So I stopped talking as much. Because that, as all, felt pointless too.

I went on autopilot mode. I wrote bullet lists. I wrote LOTS of bullet lists. I checked them off one after another. Trying to pass the time and distract me from ‘I don’t want to be here anymore’ because sitting there with my own thoughts in my own mind was too much. I tried not to think about the present. I tried not to think about Christmas. I tried not to think about the future. I tried not to think about lying there sleepless in the dark, night after night with my mind tormenting me. My heart hurt. Like, physically hurt. I was walking around with a sharp shooting pain which wouldn’t ease.

Why am I getting pains in my heart? Am I going to die?!

No, Megan. You are not going to die. 

Then, few nights ago, to add insult to injury; I lost someone close to me.

This is the first family death to have occurred in my life, as I have been fortunate to have everyone still here up until this week. And it hit me, slowly with the steady pace that realisation sometimes does when it can’t be arsed smacking you cold in the face, but it did, and it came over me wave after wave after wave, just like they said it would.

The pain of losing a loved one is an unbearable ache. It is a burning fire in your chest that sits there uninvited and ever present, and occasionally gets washed over by the deepest waves of sadness whilst memories come flooding up to the surface. Then the waves go, and you carry that unbearable burning in you chest again. Rinse and repeat. With this in mind, I have come to another hard-realisation this week. The realisation that pure pain of depression and anxiety and feelings of ‘doom’ and the so many fragments of the things I have been experiencing over the past months which can no just be summed up in to a one word-diagnosis, felt the same as my grief did.

This is what I have not been well with, all this time. Grief. I am grieving. Not just at the loss of my Nan. I have been grieving these past few months. At the loss of everything this year, at the loss of myself, my home, my dignity, all the other things I have lost this year? I did not know, but I was grieving nonetheless.

And so, the next time someone asks me what it feels like to feel this bad, I can truthfully and most honestly say this. It feels like Grief.

With the push of my partner I ended up filling out another prescription with my meds, and to start taking them again. The doctors surgery wouldn’t release them without another ‘medication review’ (which I had just 5 weeks ago) and so I ended up having to fill up on one the out of hours appointments, thus wasting NHS services again.

“What can I do for you Megan?”

“Um…”

No matter how many times I have been there, said that, admitting that I am not okay and that I need help still fills me with shame, dread and other taunting emotions that, if you look at it from an outsiders point of view, I should not be obliged to feel.

“Have you, or have you feel like hurting yourself?”

“Yes.”

“How have you hurt yourself?”

Please don’t make me say it.

“Have you felt suicidal?”

“Yes.”

“Have you or do you feel like making any plans to act on these feelings?”

“No.”

Which is true – although they might seem like two of the same questions, I have picked up within the last few years that practitioners always ask and separate the following:

1. Do you feel suicidal?

2. Have you made any plans to commit suicide?

Although I made my mind up a while back now that no, I did not want to live – but it didn’t necessarily mean that I wanted to die either.

He gave me two weeks worth of both my medications.

“Two weeks? So does that mean I have to make another appointment in a fortnight to claim my monthly rolling prescription back?”

“I can’t give you more than that just incase you decide to take them all at once.”

Oh. Good point.

And so I started my medication again, and wrote another bullet list.

I don’t know what tomorrow brings. But I do know this. I am depressed. I am grieving. I am not functioning and I am not well. And it has taken me over three months to admit it.

But also,

I am still.

I am.

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I want to live before I die – Joyline Maenzanise

 

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For a while now, I have been haunted by the superfluity of my existence

Of late, my mind has become weary from all the years of displaying resilience

I keep searching and am struggling to find a way out of what feels like a runnel

It is fading, the belief that there is a glimmer of light at the end of this dark tunnel

At this point, I no longer find inspiration in loved ones or ambitions I had

For so long, love received and goals set have worked to keep me motivated

Sadly, that only got me to this place of feeling emotionally depleted

My days seem to have become mere obstacles that must be overcome

The pain – even as I quit smoking – I still do whatever it takes to numb

I pretend to be jovial, I pretend to be interested, I pretend to be present

But, could it be that through all this, I may not be pretending to be “OK” after all?

Could it be I am trying to give myself a break and move away from this dark pall?

I talk openly about my struggles for I don’t want to bottle my pain so dire

I talk because a part of me wishes someone might help me out of this mire

Probably as an effort to help me feel better, I am told that we are all “not OK”

It could be an effort to deter me from burdening others or expecting any aid

As just another solution I’ve thought of, “go for therapy”, some folks have said

Sadly, access to (queer-friendly) mental healthcare services is a privilege

Not many of us seem to understand this as though it were a cryptic adage

Still, some folks understand my pain and that is all I can appreciate

It has taken some time but, now, I embrace the stomach-churning revelation

I ought to be to self the person I hope will offer emotional support and inspiration

Still, I find it all tiring and when night comes, I wish I would sleep everlastingly

I have had to learn to manage panic attacks which often overwhelm me agonizingly

Oftentimes, I find myself convincing self to get out of bed in the morning

On many instances, before leaving the house, I make sure to give myself a pep- talk

Other times, I wait until the coast is clear before, out of my room, I can walk

Through all the struggling, I find myself wondering, what is the point of it all?

What is the point of being alive? On me existential questions as these take their toll

Death does seem like a pacifying escape from what seems to be meaningless

But, before I eventually die, regardless of cause, how I yearn to just live.

– Joyline Maenzanise

 

Joyline is a contributing writer at On The Line, a South African publication. Some of her published work can be viewed here: Stories by Joyline Maenzanise : Contently

 

Image by Brian Minear Photography

NaNoWriMo 2017 for Rochdale and District Mind

 

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As November closely approaches, we are also getting geared up to dive in to the madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – a major annual event which sees published author’s and aspiring writers amongst us preparing to face the challenge of undertaking 50,000 words during the course of November.

That’s averaging 1,667 words per day, and provides 100% commitment from the participant to meet that target.

To give you a vague idea of the amount of work 50k is, that’s pretty much just over the word count of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby… (47,097!)

This year, I have geared myself up for my first ever NaNoWriMo challenge, and took the sensible advice to start prepping early. To say I started three months ago, it certainly has come around quickly!

Whilst taking this challenge, I also thought it a great opportunity to do some fundraising for a charity that is very close to my heart.

Rochdale and District Mind is a local mental health and wellbeing organisation who primarily relay on donations and sponsorships to keep the Charity afloat. The volunteers work tirelessly to support and assist in recovery for those in need – myself being one of those seeking help when I turned 18.

Mind was the first services that I braved to access on my own. At the time, I was severely struggling with depression, cripplingly low self esteem, bouts of mania, self-harm and addiction after suffering in silence from my early teens. This pathway ultimately lead me on the right pathway to get my diagnosis of Bipolar disorder – from which I received the treatment I needed to get back on my feet, go back to university and raise my beautiful young daughter.

As of many people who I have to be thankful for, the kindness and the efforts of the service workers at Rochdale Mind saved my life.

As much as I feel I can’t give enough back, this is my way of saying thank you. For my NaNoWriMo project 2017, I will be undertaking my first fiction project, a novel, which focusses on the realities of mental health.

Please help support Rochdale and District Mind (and also encourage me in my word count!) by visiting my just giving page below and giving a small donation.

 

DONATE HERE!

 

I’d also love to hear from those who are taking part with NaNo this year!

 

Thank you!

 

To find more about the incredible services and support that Rochdale Mind do please visit their website: https://www.rochdalemind.org.uk/

I am so much more.

 

woman

 

Badgered and bullied

I always felt both sadness and rage

at home and school

 

just wanted a moment that was mine

where I didn’t feel swept and carried away

by some sea that was not mine,

 

and my best friend were books

few people seemed to understand me or care

those who did only wanted to use me;

 

I am putting those years behind me

looking forward to a better future because

I choose to be happy even on my hardest days

 

won’t let depression or anxiety conquer me

I am so much more than this misery, anger, and pain

that is trying to strangle the life from me.

 – By Linda M. Crate.

 

You can find more of Linda’s words here at https://www.facebook.com/Linda-M-Crate-129813357119547/

 

Image rights by Pexels stock images. 

Tick, tock…

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Tick tock, tick tock
No time for time on this mania clock!
Seconds minutes that’s how I operate
Hours, days, weeks, mind tossing back and forth on an endless debate!
Don’t you dare trigger me, I walk recklessly along this tight rope
And I dare you to think you’ve figured me, these thoughts slide along a slippery slope
The cunning confidence of grandiosity, protects that vulnerable “stable” me,
disguising my true identity with a thick cloak
They really can’t get enough of me, but their ignorance has ruffled me
I talk circles until I choke
But they’ve not seen the last of me, no argument could baffle me
I’ll feed on my dreams til there’s nothing left to hope
The weak they refuel on sleep, but I’ve got the water beneath my feet
The wind beneath my own wings, no song your soul knows that mine can’t sing!
My ears they begin to ring, the unhinging of my mind, my subconscious has knowingly foreseen…
Better luck catching me when I’m in between.
 – Bipolar poetry, by Stephanie G. 
Image rights; ‘Killing time’ – Joel Robison photography. 

 

Self Care.

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Self-care is a really difficult thing to endure when you are feeling under the weather yourself.

This week, I have had to force myself to get up off the couch, get showered and eat. Life changes, illness, pain and other indemnities have left me feeling tense and angry over the last few weeks and this has of course mirrored itself in the forefront of my mental health. I am one again finding myself enraged with not only the unpredictable practicalities of life, but aiming the flaming arrows at myself everyone around me. Not good news for my close friends and family, my partner and my daughter – particularly when I can’t seem to gain any sort of control over it.

I had my bi-annually medication review with my GP a few days ago, and mentioned to her that with all that is happening – decline in my physical health, moving house, the change in weather  – my mood has significantly dropped to the levels where I feel I’m in the red warning zone. She doubled my Sertraline, something which hasn’t happened in a long time, and two days later I can certainly feel the effects. This morning I managed to get myself out of bed without being too exhausted to want to crawl back in to it, I feel less like an emotional blubbering mess and my productivity and creativity has sky rocketed. Hallelujah.

I am starting to realise that the many medication tweaks and altering my environment to compliment my bipolar waves will be permanent. There is no easy ‘one state’ fix for me. These little adjustments are mandatory to see me through to a healthy life. I feel okay with this now, there will never be a single solution.

As the years go by, and I get further and further away from the messy life before diagnosis, I can feel how far I have come and how much I am learning from my past to implement in my future self-care. There’s so much value in experience.

 

What Happened to Eleanor – Part 1.

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I walked in to the room and was immediately alerted by the wild look which had taken over her panicked face.

 

‘What’s happened?’

 

I looked around the room for some clarification of the unexpected welcome. Everybody was silent, their heads bowed in ignorance. I looked back at her. She didn’t offer any words, just widened her eyes and shook her head in defiance.

 

‘What? Will somebody tell me what the hell is going on?’

 

More shaking of the head. Eyes as big and glassy as two large blue moons, her skin bagging underneath with exhaustion.

 

‘It’s bad Megan.’

 

She spoke as if I should have known the full context of what she was talking about. My face crumped in confusion again, I pursed my lips for a preliminary ‘what the fuck’ and scanned the room for another clue. Nothing. I looked back at her again.

 

‘Haunted.’ She said sternly.

 

‘Oh for ffff-‘

 

‘No.’ She stopped me in my tracks, holding her palm in front of me in attempt to block the words pouring out of my mouth. My mind was still on loop – ‘Not this again…’

 

‘Bad. It’s bad… I’ve had to get my sister up here because I just couldn’t be on my own, I just can’t –‘

 

Then, the rambling began.

 

‘ – Voices. Footsteps, walking behind me, following me ‘tap, tap, tap’. Taunting me, all night. Skeletons, Ouija board, books, videos – the lot! All in the bin, it’s gone, wiped. It’s not the house anymore, it’s me, it’s latched on to me and it is evil, it is evil Megan! It’s following me. Stalking me. All day, all night. Touching me, prodding me in the night. Taunting.’ Her words were rolling off her tongue and rang in to the room, I could barely keep up. Her nephew was sat in the corner sniggering to himself at the absurdity of it all.

 

Christ. I’d just about had enough of this heebie jeebie bollocks.

 

‘Where’s the tape?’

 

‘It’s gone. It’s not on the tape anymore, it’s in the bin. It’s gone – the voices aren’t there anymore. They are in the room now.’

 

I looked at her in bewilderment. Did she look  genuinely petrified?

 

‘Honestly Megan I am not pulling your leg even the priest that has come up and cleansed the –‘

 

‘You wha -?’

 

‘- place has told me that there’s a presence, and –

 

‘A priest? You have had a priest around?’

 

She nodded, expectantly. I looked over to her sister for confirmation. She looked up at me, closed her eyes and quietly nodded, before hanging her head back down shamefully.

 

‘Oh God.’

 

‘God can’t save me now…’

 

She had been at it for months. None stop talking about the paranormal and the afterlife, making her own Ouija board, voice recordings in attempt to pick up ghools that she believed were floating around her 19th Century block of terraces. She’s always had an interest, but over the past few weeks an interest had slowly evolved in to an obsession. In the past two week that lead to this moment, it was getting painful to come up to see her – all you’d get is ghosts and presence and ‘can you hear this on the tape? Listen, I can pick up a word!’ She was driving her son bonkers with all, he’d roll his eyes every time the subject was mentioned. Recently, it had been that bad that in a passive thought one night before bed a week earlier, I sat there thinking how she couldn’t seem to think of anything else, I’d be telling her important details about my life and you could just tell her mind was elsewhere, or she would interrupt at the most inappropriate moment. I shrugged it off as unnecessary worry.

 

I took another look at her and realised how sunken and haggard she looked. Had she slept at all? She appeared as though she hadn’t bathed in weeks, her fluffy fine hair stuck up all over the place in short blonde tuffs like a feral chicken. I looked over her chest to find a solid chunky metal cross, which hung around her neck and rested on her oversized jumper embedded with rips and holes. Her eyes were teary. She was genuinely petrified.

 

She continued to ramble on about how the priest was now on leave for a few weeks and that she couldn’t stay here, then tearfully began pleading for me to believe her.

 

‘Okay, of course I believe you.’ I said to her, gently. ‘Calm down, you can stay at mine for the time being, you don’t have to be alone.’ I needed to keep an eye on her, something was not right.

 

I had never seen her so jumpy in my life. Every noise, every shadow she feared. She was frightened. After an update form her sister, I’d also found out that she’d been hearing voices all night and tried sleeping with a bible over her face. At all hours of the morning, she had been jolted awake by her shouting ‘The power of Christ – Begone!!’ in to the emptiness of the room. Throwing salt about the place. Making growling noises that she swore was out of her control. This had gone on for a few days now, and it had pissed me off that I wasn’t told about this sooner.

 

I got her to my house and settled her on the couch. Her eyes darted around the room in alert, survival instinct charged up full force like she was being hunted down by a predator. She cling on to her cross and whilst she pulled on her chain, I noticed she also had rosary beads tucked in to her shirt. She got her bible out and stared reading. She is not remotely religious. Never had been.

 

My stomach churned as I dialled The Boy’s number – I needed some support. It was happening again, like it did during my young teenage years. I can’t go through this again, I just can’t. What scared me the most is that you could see this was factual it in her eyes, it was a dead cert, the adamancy that she was not going completely bonkers, but she was ‘in fact’ possessed by a demon.

 

I put a reminder on my phone to ring the doctor’s in the morning.

 

to be continued…