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/

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Want to write for the blog? We need your stories!

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For the past few months people have been submitting in their experiences of mental health from a wide range of disorders and issues in the Sharing Stories series… stories are still needed!

Do you have a mental health/recovery story of your own that you’d like to reach out and share to others? Whether it be overcoming depression to addiction to eating disorders… no matter what your area, there will be a chance that your experience will touch someone elses life.

Send your story with your name and location to themanicyears@gmail.com and i’d be happy to publish on The Manic Years.

Sharing saves lives.

Blackouts.

This evening, I was lounged on the couch nursing myself from my crash when I started running my finger down the bridge of my nose. It was a tactic used as a source of comfort when I was a child.

These days, it’s a subtle reminder of the horrific night of my first Blackout. The feel of the scars that run across my skin tonight made me finally decide to bring my shameful episodes out in the open.

2004.

I still remember the panic on my friends drunken faces as they suddenly sobered up and picked me up off the street. They got me inside to clean me up, and tried to calm me as I was frantically begging them to tell me what had happened.

“Please don’t panic, it’s not as bad as it looks…”

There was blood everywhere, all over my clothes, all over the tissues they cleaned my face up with. All over the kitchen knife I’d just had confiscated off me.

I was having one of my house parties, having a good time with my closest friends. And then all of a sudden I was sat on my doorstep sawing in to my face.

That was the first time it happened. I call them my blackouts, and to this day even my Psychiatrist hasn’t been able to tell me exactly why I repeatedly go through this. For ten minutes to a whole 12 hours I lose my memory and end up in an absolute mess.

I have a theory. I’ve began to predict a pattern that the blackouts only occur when I’m suspectedly high in mood. I’ve started to convince myself that when I am high, these emotions just get too intense for me that I lose control. 80% of the time I have ever engaged in a self-harm act – whether that me slicing in to my skin or taking an overdose – I have no recollection of it. My memory is always fuzzy up to a point, and then nothing. And when I’m down? Yes I used to SI when I was depressed back when I was at college (and addicted to it by then), but it was in a controlled way that I can honestly say my actions were of my own accord. I knew what I was doing and I put up with the consequences afterwards.

But when you feel you had no say in your actions, like someone else takes over your body and puts your life at risk then its a completely different story altogether. The amount of times I’ve woken up in bandages, bruises, nauseous from the amount of pills I’d taken the night before and not had a clue how I’d gotten in to that state is frightening to me. Waking up in a locked bathroom alone and scared in a pool of my own blood, with the last memory I had of me frantically cleaning the apartment at 2am in tears of joy at how lucky I was to have such an incredible life and how amazing I felt! I was scared of myself, and throughout my teenage years, when the number of these episodes increased and got more severe, I began to hate myself.

And so, that’s when I decided to start taking over and I began to self-harm in a controlled way.

The blackouts still happened, but this time, I was addicted to the sensation of the release it gave me. When I’d ran out of room on my body to hide it, I’d stopped caring. When The Boy begged and pleaded me to stop punishing myself, I started to cross – addict in to other hidden ways to hurt me. The painkiller addiction started. I wanted to stop this behaviour, but I was hooked. Relapse after relapse after relapse pretty much sums up my life from ages 16-21.

These manic blackouts obviously have some kind of dissociation/amnesiac explanation to them. And I am yet to find someone who can eliminate them completely from my life.

Of all the posts (yes, even The Wolf one!) This has yet been the hardest post to write. I hope something will come of me getting it all out in the open as yet another secret of my subconscious has been unlocked.

Hypomania.

Okay, after a week or two (or three? can’t remember what the hell I’ve been up to!) I finally hold my hands up and admit to myself that I’m hypomanic.

I think the stress of the build up to Christmas and the excitement of the new year has set me off. Here’s the list.

The past however many weeks has consisted of…

  • A four day bender
  • Being barred from my local
  • Not napping during the day (big thing for me!)
  • Struggling to get to sleep at night – apart from with help of handfuls of co-codamol and whatever else I could find to knock me out for a few hours
  • Borrowing and spending money like crazy (usually on nights out, the rest – I don’t have a clue)
  • Being a lying and manipulative little cow to get my own way
  • Making more plans with friends than I have spare time
  • Risky, overconfident driving
  • Uh-oh! The sexual predator has been out again!
  • Generally over confident and cocky about everything I’m doing
  • No feelings of empathy or guilt towards others, whatsoever
  • Switching my phone off at night and not returning home until 7am
  • Skipped meds (expecting another boom shortly, bleugh)
  • Feeling invincible
  • Uncontrollable bouts of laughter
  • Not being able to concentrate on what I’m watching on tv/what others are saying
  • Interrupting others and talking wayyy too much about things I shouldn’t be
  • Fantasising my days away due to racing thoughts
  • Having hallucinations and peripheral disturbances again
  • Total over consumption of caffeine
  • Vicious anxiety that can only be eliminated through self-medicating
  • Forgetting to eat for 24 hours (Seriously though? who does that?)
  • Self injury urges
  • Dissociation (octopus arms have made an appearance on two separate occasions)

and the last one of course….

  • Contacting my doctor/Psychiatrist is the last thing on my mind, because they will take my Wolf away from me. And I need her right now.

Yes, there’s no denying now that I am not well at the moment, but at the same time, I need this. I need to have this release for a while because it feels so good.

Does anyone else out there feel the same? Like our doctors are trying to medicate us from being 100% ourselves? I feel free for the first time in ages and I want to keep going, but I know in the back of my mind I have some awareness that my actions could have consequences not only on myself, but on others too.

Do I care?

NOPE.

The only thing that’s bugging me is the dissociation and the other psychotic symptoms. It’s not nice freaking out because you look down at your abnormally elongated arms which have gone numb, and as a result you cant seem to relax with these strange limbs beside you that don’t feel like your own. The paranoia that comes with it can be crippling. Nor is it nice when your laid in bed and your whole body disappears in to thin air.

So yes apart from that, and the fact I can feel a crash coming on, I don’t want her to go away. I need her to stay. She hasn’t finished playing yet.

But I think I know in the back of my mind that The Wolf won’t want to stop playing until she ruins some aspect of my life.

Assessment tomorrow!

Due to the struggles in recalling recent (and not so recent) memories, I figured i’d probably find it difficult to get everything out in the open to the new psych. So I made a ‘timeline’ of events over the years and just let my mind loose on it. What a mess!

Hopefully I will be able to keep adding to the list before the morning and be ready to admit some of the things I need to get out in the open. Which will be hard for me, during the past few months I’ve been reflecting on my past and i’ve even struggled admitting certain things to myself… I see a few interesting blog entries in the future, when i’m brave enough!

Other than that, this week I have remained stable (even though i’m run down with a cold!) – i’ve been nicely settled at a 5, apart from the occasional irritability, memory loss and hallucinations.

Speaking of which, they have been getting worse! I’m slowly convincing myself that i’m genuinely seeing spirits again, its all so real. They have moved from my peripheral vision and into my focus now – shadows, lots of movement, distortions and glitches in reality that stops me in my tracks – every one is different. It gets worse in the evening, and sometimes I don’t even notice them until late afternoon. It will be very interesting to hear what the psych has to say about it all.

About the memory – I have been researching and it sounds pretty much like I have Dissociative Amnesia, my symptoms appear to tick every box. Its all very confusing and overwhelming to think about.

Until the morning 🙂

Memory.

memory loss

I think i’m in trouble again.

After the past week and a half of feeling better and on the mend, I slowly started to convince myself that I was okay. This could bare a problem in so many ways;

1. Convincing myself that i’m fine could result in another bout of depression when it starts up again.

2. I have my assessment next week – and after 10 years of dealing with this – I have alot riding on that appointment.

3. Convincing myself that i’m fine could possibly be an indicator that i’m not.

It started last night. After being on the perfect 5 (and the occasional 6) on the mood scale for the past week, I went to bed irritable, wanting to move around alot and with racing thoughts again, only to wake this morning with a temper form hell for no apparent reason, irritable again – faffing around the house with my mind in a million places at once. This was followed by a rather productive day, a 5 hour stint of job application after job application in which I was forced to end (mommy duty called, I could have easily gone on for another few hours). Intense concentration, obsessive word perfecting, diverse career opportunities in which each job I convinced myself that it was the right career pathway for me until I found the next position. My phone was downstairs (not like me to not check it obsessively every half an hour!), no toilet, coffee or nap break – I had about 9 tabs open – just GO! GO! GO!

My productivity had notched my scale up to a 7. I love 7’s – it means seriously getting stuff done.

Then when I stopped and tried to settle down – I couldn’t. My head was spinning so much I slipped in to the daydreaming againg (maladaptive, usually happens when I have too many thoughts to process). Restless energy, the colours on the tv were bright, the blues and yellows on the screen popping out so much they hurt my eyes to focus. I felt great, but spacey. I started talking to myself at one point (it helps to let it all out), and the visual hallucinations that are present every day now, have been occuring much more frequently and have been much more noticable.

And then I realised it was a Friday. Nothing weird about that, right?

Only I was convinced that it was a Tuesday. When realisation suddenly dawned on me that P had finished early, and it truely was the end of the week, I freaked. Where the hell had I been since the beginning of the week? I had no memory whatsoever of what I’d been doing. I had lost 3/4 days. Small doings were popping up – I remember the halloween make up I had been doing the night before, I had been shopping that morning but barely remembered going, but I just couldn’t put all these events together. I’d remembered that this morning S had asked me how my mum was ‘when I saw her the other day’ and I was so confused. Did I see my mum? I hadn’t seen her since last week? Wrong again, my daughter had stayed at over at my mums during the week and i’d both visited and made conversation with her on two seperate occasions. This still doesn’t seem real to me. I couldn’t tell you for the life of me what I did on monday.

Thinking about it, I have no memory of the summer. It both baffles me and scares the crap out of me that it’s now November. I still see it was being April/May. I’ve lost the summer.

The only way I can describe it is if you are looking through a telescope in the night sky. When I look in to the past, I see specific memories (the moon) If i focus really hard, but when i’m concentrating on one specific thing, I cannot see what lies around it (the rest of the sky). I just can’t put a picture of my whole year together collectively. 2013 might as well have just not happened.

With this new insight and admittance of my memory deteriorating, even worse so when I appear to myself to be well – I feel scared and worried about my well being. And that makes it all the more realistic.

Maybe I’m not fine after all.

Supernatural Experiences – Can they be justified when you are mentally ill?

I’ve always been a big fan – and a big believer of the supernatural world. I come from a family where ghostly and other odd sightings are second nature to us, there are stories down the line which can be described as tales unexplained by science.

This year, I have come to a hault in what I thought I knew – what I believed – and had to question whether my past personal experiences of the unknown can be rephrased to be explained by simply tricks of the mind. And I’m feeling rather uncomfortable with the idea of testing my reality.

My past encounters with ghosts can be split in to two categories; the stories that my parents and grandparents have told me (which, without personal recollection of them, have always shed a hint of doubt to their validity), and of course, my own subjective first had experiences.

1. Mrs.Meredith.

The tales which have been told countless times throughout the family and passed on to friends started in the house in which I was brought up with my parents. Legend has told of an elderly woman (unhelpfully named ‘Miss Meredith’ by a close, sceptical friend) walking through the upper levels of the old terraced houses on that particular street, with many sightings of the lady by a number of people who occupied the homes at the time. Apparently, I was one of them. My mother used to tell me that when I was a young child I would sit and stare at the top of the stairs and watch the old lady, accompanied by the dog we owned at the time. This ‘old lady’ was present for a number of years, and also made a visit to both of my parents on a few occasions.

We left for a bigger home after my brother was born, only for my dad to return back to the house to live after they split. When I was 14, I moved back to the original house to live until I was 20. As I was growing up through my teenage years, I continuously felt her presence and felt comfortable with Mrs. M, up to the point where I knew exactly when she was in the room, and the occasional (one way) conversation with her. I managed to get as comfortable as I could have got if she was a regular living tennant.

During the last few years of high school, i’d experienced everything – from unexplained shadows and noises, voices, hearing footsteps, movement from the corner of my eye when I was alone in the house, the energy and feel of her presence, her hand on my shoulder whist I was watching a film. Even friends felt her – one in particular saw the same shadows as me, and once had felt someone blow in her ear.

There are a few events that stand out to me, which always happened when I was drifting off on the couch. I’d hear footsteps in the room and all of a sudden become too terrified to open my eyes, this presence was as real as if a stranger had entered the house. I could see shadows of the figure standing over me, blocking the natural light of the room, watching me. Breathing on me. The fear would take over and I would snap out of it, only to find the doors locked and the house empty.

2. The Animals.

Soon enough, Mrs.Meredith became much more than an energy or a shadow to me. The spirit started to form in to visual bodies, not just in my peripheral vision, but right in front of my eyes. Usually, in the form of animals. There was something uneasy about a particular corner of the room at my parents old place. Most of the unexplained shadows and movement formed from there.

One evening I’d come in from a night out with friends and I sat on the couch across from the fire place. My dad had been relaxing in the living room on the couch next to me. All of a sudden, a movement in the same corner stirred, and as I turned my to what had caught my attention I saw a white ferret scurry across the floor and under the fire place. In shock, I paused for a second to gather my thoughts and it ran from under the fire directly towards me, follwing an S shaped pathway on the floor and ran between my feet and under the couch. I SCREAMED. I jumped upon the couch, started freaking out – startled the life out of my dad who also jumped up to calm me down.

“There’s a F*****G ferret, under the couch!” I was halfway in to frantically explaining to him where it came from and how it hurried under the fire place when his face dropped. He traced the exact  pathway that the ferret took, the squiggle that it followed on the floor towards the couch before I even had the chance to tell him. Apparently, he’d seen it too, a number of times. Always the same perculiar pathway, only in his experience it was in the form of an unaturally giant ‘hand sized’ spider.

Funnily enough, a few weeks later, I saw The Spider.

I’d had another encounter with the same pathway one morning as I was getting ready for school. This time I couldn’t figure out what from this creature was. My eyes fully locked on this spirit, as it scuttled from under the fire place, almost looked like a bird with its bobbing head, with extra legs quickly carrying its deformed body towards me. There was something in the way it moved, it was unnatural and unrealistic. This time I was scared. Instead of dissolving in to the couch, it changed course and carried on in to the kitchen. I tried once more to lock my eyes on it, but it was too fast – my brain just couldn’t register this strange phenemenon. I was scared. Looking back, this one is a memory that, once again, not only I cannot make sense of but how that fear still stirs up in me to this day. Because this time, it was loud. Almost identical to the sound of a penny dropping and rolling across a laminate floor. I could not make sense iof it. It was loud, and it was right in my ears, ringing and almost deafening me.

3. Ben.

After 23 years, I’m still very close to possibly my oldest childhood friend who still questions me what happened to this day.

R used to live with her grandparents in an old house not too far away from where I lived. It was a small house, not very modern – decorated with floral patterns and a variety of ornaments collected and passed down over the years. I always felt uneasy when I visited and hated staying over, the feel of the house gave me the creeps, in a way that I was convinced there was a presence in the house. After past experiences living in a haunted house myself, my friends were accustom to me feeling the way I did about certain places, whether they genuinely believed the stories i’m not sure. One night, me and R was sat on her bed playing a board game. When her gran called her and R left the room, once again I got that uneasy feeling, and tried to shift it off. I was playing with one of the figures on the board, when the bedroom door opened and Ben, her old Westie dog walked in happily wagging his tail. With my attention still on the board, I saw him walk along the side of the bed, tail still in view and automatically whilstled and shouted “Ben!” as I patted the bed to call him up. And thats when I noticed it.

On the full stretch of the main wall in the bedroom, there had been a walk in wardrobe fitted to the wall which was all mirrored. Ben was surely there in the corner of my eye. But his reflection was non-existant in the mirror. I looked up and the dog was gone. Then it dawned on me. R didn’t have a dog.

That moment R walked back in to the room asking who I was calling to, to find me as white as a sheet sat on her bed.

“I’ve just seen Ben.”

Ben was an old white Westie dog her gran had before Rachel lived with her grandparents. He had died years before. I had no idea about the dog, and no idea that they had named him Ben.

It turns out, after seeing an old photograph of him, Ben was an exact replica of another close friend – C’s – white Westie (also named Ben). Before we had sat down to play the board game, I had rememberd that I noticed the flowery bedsheet and told R that her gran had the exact same sheets as C. For a minute when I saw the spirit of Ben, my mind must have told me I was at this other friends house, and as a result, I ended up trying to communicate to him as normal.

Other encounters experienced, such as whom I believed to be voice of my Aunt giving clear audible orders to her dog, years after her death – still play on my mind today. They were all real in my eyes, up to the point where I saw these experiences FACTS- I saw, heard and felt the presence of spirits, there was no argument about this.

Since the decline of my mental health, particularly the past two months where I have been experiencing both auditory and visual hallucinations, I have felt has all been too familiar. The shadows I see, the presences I feel and the voices I sometimes hear (possibly as a result of my medication) are strangely similar to the ghostly experiences I felt in the past. The delusions of paranoia that someone is watching me.

Can the definate supernatural experiences I have always come to know as a true reality be contested? Have I always been a prisoner of my mental state? Has my brain been tricking me in to believing that these bouts of psychosis are a result of true happenings in the external environment?

Have I always been sick?

One thing I recall is that it was always a comfort how these ghostly presences visited me significantly in my time of need – whenever I was upset, Mrs. M was there to touch my shoulder and it was her way of telling me everything was going to work out. My strong build up of emotions have frequently been broken by the feel of a shadow standing beside me, reminding me i’m not alone in the world.

The day is slowly dawning on me. There could be a possibility that the visits in my ‘time of need’ could have, in reality, been visits during times of mental stress.

Auditory Hallucinations – back with a vengence!

I’m hearing things again and i wish it would just fuck off.

I’ve heard this before. Ringing/beeping repetitive music. I know its not really there. I dont want to cross that paranoia line of searching for this ‘music’ in the house again.
I’m very restless, irritable, bad energy me tonight and it escalated very quickly!

I want to sleep and i’m frustrated with everything, the SI urges are coming back to haunt me. I know it will make me feel better and snap me out of it.

Don’t cross that line. Stay safe Megan.

Councelling session number 5.

Tonight’s session was an interesting one, and came at exactly the right time.

Due to my mood totally sinking since Sunday afternoon, my risk score was up from being at baseline the past few weeks and my ‘well-being’ score had changed too. The first thing he asked me was “Have you made plans to end your life?”

Ermmm… Yes, but not intentionally.

I told him about the manic/dissociation ‘switch’ that occurred as a result from some bad news last week, when i was feeling high anyway. Good energy turned in to bad energy, i lost control of it, i blacked out. I explained that these impulsive thoughts that i have (and the actions i have carried out in the past) i feel are out of my control, and its not me who is thinking them and making these decisions that lead to my behaviour.

This has happened a few times in the past, not necessarily when i’d been feeling down, but more of when i’d had the ‘energy’. The blackouts are always a result of when that energy turns bad. I know if someone wasnt there i’d have either taken a handful of pills, drank myself silly, self-harmed or ran out of the door in to the night and gotten up to all sorts of shit. I know this because it has happened SO many times in the past. Its just scary that its not me who controls my thoughts or behaviour when that bad energy gets its suffocating grip around my neck.

He pushed me to really pressure my GP for that assessment, and the session made me feel so much better and stronger about it all as its like i finally have a confirmation that this is not normal behaviour i have been dealing with for the past ten years. I finally have someone behind me, to back me up when my mind fails me. He believes in me, and thats what i’ve needed all along.

He made me think about how lucky i am to have my whole family (and friends) supporting me, guiding me and just being there for me when i fall. I got home and it was like someone had taken the knife out of my stomach and stopped torturing me with it – a huge weight had lifted off my shoulders and that black dog who had been gnawing at me since sunday had been tamed. Well, when i say tamed, it is still there, that dark hole is still there – but i have recognised that i have a whole support system around me to make me believe i can handle it enough to get by.

I told him about the Sertraline, that i’d stayed clear of reading up on the side effects and that i believed that it may just be making me cycle faster – instead of having seasons with my moods, it seems like I am having a week/days or ups and downs, with two days maximum of stability in between. Which is a good thing in which they dont last long, but in the context of jumping from one extreme to the other much faster makes the crash seem harder and more intense.

The suicide urges, the self injury and the pill popping have been put on hold for tonight, and i’m forever grateful for the people around me for that.

Until the next boom.