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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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. 

 

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…

The Bad Week – A prime example of how external influences can affect my mood swings.

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It all started when I woke up one morning and it hurt to pee.

Many females are familiar with the uncomfortable sensation, especially if you are one of the lucky ladies such as myself with UTI’s frequently occurring a few times a year (ouch), even more so, if you find them problematic to shift.

Hence, I gave a vocal sigh, started working out in my head the impossibility of how I could fit myself in to see the doctor around my busy schedule, and carried on with my day, little of knowing there was more displeasing incidents to follow. After a busy morning and afternoon running back and fourth from my desk to the Loo’s at work, 6pm finally came around and I kept up out of my seat eager to get in to my car and get home to rest. Silly me decided – that in the circumstance of which I longed to be in my bed – to make the practical decision to also run down the stairs, which the day in the midst of my decending gallop was made more entertaining by my iPhone –  item not insured – joining in with the fun and also leaping out of my hand, landing a rather impressive bellyflop on the marble steps below me.

I knew I had caused some significant damage to the screen before my eyes could dare to take a look at the wreckage, by the audible echo it produced up the stairwell. If anyone has damaged their iPhone screen before, they could easily draw up the mathematics here that I would at least be £50 out of pocket this month.

Hence, I gave another vocal sigh, started working out in my head the impossibility of how I could fit myself in to see the phone doctor around my busy schedule, and carried on with my day, little of knowing there was more displeasing incidents to follow.

I soon shrugged off the incidence as ‘Oh well, such is life,’ and finally got to my car to drive home. I popped my earphones in, and welcomed a voice of one of my many companions for my journey (this week it was a dramatic reading of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park), and got settled in to the story.

At this point I must defend myself here – yes, I am fully aware of the dangers of the distraction brought along with not only fully engaging in an audiobook rather than what I am doing on the road, but also using my earphones to drown out all sounds around me – but I do drive for three hours a day for work, what else is a girl to do in rush hour traffic?

On this occasion, I am ashamed to admit that it must have took me at least 50 minutes to realise the screeching, no – god awful grinding noise – that  was coming from my brakes. The absolute panic arose in me, followed by a frantic effort to type ‘WHY IS MY CAR MAKING A HORRIBLE NOISE’ in to a search engine on my phone and squinting through it’s shattered screen to find that the majority of advice concluded by Yahoo answers was; Stop driving.

Fortunately I made it home, gave a vocal sigh, started working out in my head the impossibility of how I could fit myself in to see the car doctor around my busy schedule, and carried on with my night, little of knowing there was more displeasing incidents the next day to follow.

By 8pm I was tucked up safe in my bed, and whether it was the infection or the build up of stressful events of the day – or both – made the conscious decision to take some time off work, and settled down for the night.

The following day, after many half-arsed attempts from The Boy to get me out of bed, I finally woke. It was 1pm. And I was absolutely exhausted, in pain and felt utter rotten. Yep, my water infection had succeeded in invading my system even further, and I could barely wake myself up. I had a painful day of recurrent fevers, sweating, nausea, and a headache from hell that a small handful of painkillers failed to shift. If I can recall correctly through my fog of a memory of that horrendous afternoon, there was even an episode of tears. The only good fate of the day, being that I had predicted my relentless state and decided to take action and notify work that for that one Wednesday at least; I was done for.

Of course, when you work in clinical research, the heavy workload demands you back on your feet when you get knocked down. With this requirement, having a fuzzy head and a car booked in at the local mechanics, I was driven in to work by The Boy the following day.

My only ever sickness day of the year and of course, shit went down. The emails were piled up, recent developments erupted on studies which had otherwise been laying dormant the past few months, people were panicked. I felt like shit and my kidneys were hurting. Whilst I was juggling three things at once, running to the toilet to throw my coffees up, and multiple people stopping me to politely tell me that I ‘looked at shit as I probably felt’ – I got a phone call of the mechanic.

‘Your brakes are sorted, we’ve also tightened up some jiggly bits [insert car related lingo here as appropriate]. That will be £160 please.’

Fuck.

Mother of actual fucks for this to happen on the month I was skint anyway -the very month of my Daughter’s birthday, the month my washing machine brakes down, the month where the floor deliberately decided to shatter my phone screen, the month where I also had to pay an unexpected £20 prescription charge for I’d realised my NHS exemption had expired. Fucketty, fuck, fuck, fuck. 

With my ever so pounding head, I ran to the toilet to chuck again after that, and kicked myself in the shin for not taking that additional time off to stay in bed.

The Boy picked me up after what seemed to be the longest 8 hours a person could ever endure, and I let out the biggest rant of life is not fair and why is it always me! that could be expected after the unfortunate past few days. We sat a typical two hours in traffic together, no audiobooks in tow, and played childish games of One or the Other. He made me smile, the first smiles of the week. We talked, told jokes, made plans. It was the best I’d felt for what felt like mini eternity, and I even forgot about the headache that had seemed to have settled in and made a cosy home in my temples.

And then; he pissed me off.

For his God defying sake, I will not go in to the details of his selfish stupidity – but all in one I felt the wrath of the hellish week that had bestowed on me – much to his disadvantage. I cried. I just broke down and I sobbed. The boy had realised then, how much of a toll this week and him not making it any better and sat beside me (who was on the bed curled up in a foetal position, clutching at my knees like a child).

This is a scene that is expected of anyone, regardless of their mental health status, after such events. What is not expected, is the following…

Me; Stalling in my sobs and staring across the room startled.

The Boy; ‘Are you okay?’

Me; continues to distantly stare across the room, embarrassing display of emotion still on hold. 

The Boy; ‘Megan, what is it?’

He looks at the wall. Then turns back around to me. I break my gaze and catch his eye. Then, startling him in the most unexpected and freakish way, I burst out uncontrollably in the biggest fit of laughter.

I laughed. I laughed so fucking hard, that even more tears ran down my face. My body scrunched up even further; unable to breath through my uncomprehendable outburst of emotion, my body shaking violently next to him.

The Boy just looked at me in silence. He just sat there, bewildered at the manic mess that was myself, wondering why the hell I was in the state that I was when a few blinks before I was a blubbering baby.

A minute passed by, before I was even able to manage to compose myself enough to communicate with him.

Why the fuck are you laughing?’ He asked, a look of concern and confusion across his face.

For I was not laughing for the unfortunate events that had contributed  to my disastrous week, no. I was laughing because in that moment, the light switch which was on my wall across the room, looked like Pingu the Penguin’s younger Brother. 

And in my heightened state, I’d lost all control of my emotion. That guys, is a glimmer of Bipolar mania in all it’s glory. To conclude the night, I later realised that I accidentally had skipped a few of my meds the week before.

Here’s to hoping – for my sake and the sake’s of those around me – that next week bring better days.

‘Sharing Stories’ – These days: Living with Bipolar disorder, by Russell Myers.

 

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  “What do you say when telling people about your mental health problems? How much do you reveal? Do people really want to hear your life story? Will they think you’re looking for sympathy? Do they want to know how your birth Mother left when you were young? How you always felt different and isolated from others despite the appearance you put up? You know what though it’s just all so bloody Freud isn’t it? I can see myself on Freud’s couch as he asks me to tell him about my Mother before prescribing me cocaine to alleviate the on-going madness in my head. Thing is that’s all in the past and I learnt a while back to not let that control my life. So instead how about I tell you about what it’s like to live with it.

I have bipolar, manic depression, extreme moods or whatever else you wish to refer to it as. It’s a funny condition bipolar not funny ha ha but in that it’s a maelstrom of conflicting emotions and ever changing moods.

It’s certainly interesting living with it each day and I’ll be honest there are some days I can’t bear it. Some days I just want the pain to stop, the noise in my head to just be quiet for a few moments. I want that solitude of silence but I know that silence is alone and in the dark. A dark place where a thousand voices whisper inside my head. A place where my own voice struggles to be heard above all the others.

The paranoia creeps in and a numbness begins to crawl over like a black cloud of hopelessness. The voices continue to whisper, turning over and over in my head “you’re worthless, pathetic, a waste of space, nobody wants you, needs you, you should die, nobody will notice or miss you”. The voices are convincing to because it’s your own voice, one your familiar with but it’s lying. It tricks you, deceives you, convinces you and it takes all of the little strength you have left to not cave into their lies. They want to drag you into their pit, that hole of despair, the place where depression dwells and it wants to suck the life from you. I hate these days.

Hang on though there’s something else……

Bipolar can take you another way. A place of excitement, fun, laughter and joy. Bipolar can bring you mania and wow that’s just fantastic in every way. The need to start a business selling unicorn tears, learn guitar, buy a boat, walk to Spain, become a Shaolin monk or learn to unicycle so you can get yourself to Edinburgh or any other random or unachievable idea you can create in your head. Thoughts race through my mind at a thousand miles an hour and logical thoughts have no place there. It’s not about what I can’t do but about what I can do and that I want to do it now. It feels great, amazing, fluid, beautiful, exciting yet erratic, destabilising and narcissistic. A cycle begins of promiscuous behaviour, excessive spending and in the past drug use with no sense of danger only a hunger for adventure.

There’s no room for manoeuvre, no patience for those that don’t understand what I’m trying to say, achieve or those who don’t think I should follow my dreams. I am too important for others not to get it and I never understand why they don’t. This lack of understanding by others gives birth to something else, a monster that is the most difficult to control. The monster that is rage and anger that builds up quickly and manifests in a way that is both terrifying and uncontrolled. I become something I am not, verbally abusive and aggressive towards myself as I punch myself around the head and face with my fists or any heavy object that’s nearby before collapsing exhausted and crying. Then I feel it again, that dark place, those pitch black claws grabbing me and pulling me back down. I really hate those days.

However there’s the other days. The days when I can go out with my friends, I can cook dinner, study for my degree, look after my son, laugh, love and live because despite those days I am not my condition, I am not bipolar, it’s just part of me and something I live with. For despite it all and regardless of those days I am above all of this; a Father, a Son, a Friend. I am strong and brave and stubborn and it’s due to this; that these days are the ones that I keep in my thoughts when I’m having one of those days; because it’s these days that I cherish the most, and it’s these days that will be my strength when I need them most of all.”

-By Russell Myers.

 

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 to themanicyears@gmail.com and i’d be happy to publish on the Blog.

Sharing saves lives –

M x

 

 

 

‘Sharing Stories’ -Hypomania in Bipolar disorder, by Samantha Pottinger

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“When I went to my GP I described my behaviour and feelings. I was expecting to be diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, given that I’d gone from one extreme to the other in such a short space of time. The best way I could describe it was like the feeling of an overexcited child at Christmas.  My favorite foods and drinks tasted amazing, music sounded better, I would be overwhelmed by the beauty of scenery, my nephews and niece looked cuter, colours would look more distinct. I would get fits of the giggles and struggle not to burst out laughing whilst walking down the street. My mind would be racing and instead of having no business ideas I had so many I couldn’t switch off.

Hypomania does not mean that one feels happy all the time, it’s more like an obsession with engaging in hedonistic activities and an intolerance of displeasure. It can result in serious irritability and impatience. Although being overwhelmed by positive emotion is certainly more pleasant than being overwhelmed by negativity, it’s still uncomfortable. In a hypomanic episode I feel overstimulated and overexcited about everything, I really resent my job for taking up my time up and stopping me from doing the things I enjoy (whereas in a depressive episode my job is one of the few things keeping me going).  At work I get over excited by all the interesting books I see and take out several but then I don’t read them because I’m too restless and can’t sit still. I can’t watch films either because I have too much energy. I end up spending too much money because I get overexcited about everything I see and then end up getting frustrated for having to wait so long for the next pay day.  I have lots of pent up energy and get really frustrated if I can’t release it. I can even remember being jealous of people saying they were tired!

Although hypomania has its disadvantages, it can be quite a pleasant feeling. I think my hypomanic episodes are the reason I’ve never had any interest whatsoever in taking illegal drugs, I see my ability to feel high naturally as a blessing. I become more creative and my brain is a lot sharper and I’m sure my hypomanic phases helped give me the energy to fit my studying in with work and are responsible for some of my good marks.

Depressive episodes are certainly unpleasant but for me, the fact that I went for the therapy meant that I’m left with useful mind tools for when I see it recurring and I can empathize with and help others.

My doctor mentioned (but didn’t diagnose me with) a milder form of Bipolar disorder called Cyclothymia. Some people find labels helpful, others don’t. Personally, I feel that we are all prone to fluctuations in mood as we go through ups and downs and transitions in life, (who feels ‘neutral’ all the time?) I think that being a HSP or ’empath’ as I’ve talked about in my blog just means they are a bit more pronounced in me.  It can make life a bit more challenging to deal with but as you become more self-aware, you can learn to manage better and stop your condition from over-ruling your life.

If you have or think you might have a diagnosable mental health condition, don’t be afraid to seek support from your GP, mental health organizations or read some mental health blogs. But remember there is nothing wrong with or ‘freaky’ about you and having a mental health condition does not make you not inferior.

You are not alone.”

-By Samantha Pottinger.

 

Samantha incorporates her experiences with mental health and bipolar disorder in to her health blog Samantha the Sane Vegan.

 

Do you have a mental health/recovery story of your own that you’d like to reach out and share to others? Get involved! 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 else’s 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.

M x

 

 

 

 

The appointment – The switch in psychiatric medication

If anything summed up the dark side of the standard of mental health care in my current cummunity it would have been this appointment.

Psychiatric appointments, with a consultant Psych, are like liquid gold these days. So imagine the shock I got when the postman dropped off a letter with an actual date that she was available to hear what I had to say. And to strip this down of all it’s glory; I didn’t even ask to see her in the first place.

 

9 months prior.

After meeitng my eccentric new Quack at my local healthcare centre, and sneakily flipping through my medical notes and snapping pictures of the annotations on my iphone when she’d left the room, I had failed my case against coming off the Zombie med. For those who have read my journey, I had been on Quetiapine by that point for the past year and a half, and unfortunately gained 3 and a half stone – I was protesting that now I had crossed over the unhealthy line on the BMI chart and that for that sake (as well as not being able to drive/look after my daughter/not go a day without taking a nap/function altogether etc) – and she managed to try to convince me that because my mood was controlled  I was not causing any trouble; she had me walking away with a prescription of the extended release version of the same devil drug.

Then the biggest mistake she made was that she would promise to see me in 4-6 weeks time, and that I would easily be able to get hold of her receptionist if something went wrong.

That apointment never happened, until I unexpectedly ended up sitting in that chair in her office two weeks ago, whilst she insisted in calling me by the wrong name. (In case you were wondering, she had decided to label me as Bruce. It is not even a complete anagram of my surname).

 

1 month prior.

As it turns out, the appointment they had randomly allocatede me to, I couldn’t make it. I had just started a new job and didn’t want to be taking time off so soon. So i tried to get hold of her receptionsist. This is how that wen’t down.

Friday – Tried to ring the local trust from the generic number they gave me. Went round in circles for half an hour as the automated system didn’t have an option for psychiatric appointments.

Monday – Finally got through to a human being. Went round in circles for half an hour as human being didn’t have an option for psychiatric appointments.

Tuesday – Two days before appointment. Got through to Psych’s receptionist. She was very pleasant.

“So can you tell me why you can’t make this appointment, Miss Bruce?”

“It’s B****. I am unavailable and I’m going to have to reschedule.”

“Well you are going to have to give me a good enough reason for not wanting to turn up to the appointment you made…”

“I’m sorry, but this was an unexpected appointment. And I am unavailable at the time of the appointment.”

Silence.

“Can you tell me why you can’t wake this appointment?”

“I have just started a new job you see, and I do not want to be taking any leave this early in to me starting. Especially two days before.”

“Well you should have rang up sooner Miss Bruce.”

“It’s B****.”

*Considers explaining how easy it was to get hold of her, but i’d blatantly had enough of trying to get this appointment I didn’t make*

“Look can I please just reschedu-

NO, no, no, no, no – I will tell you when you can reshedule for.”

*!!!!!!!!

“Okay……”

“It’s going to have to be June i’m afraid…”

“Perfect, I’ll have it for then.”

“But if work is the issue here, then you are going to have the same problem when it comes to this next appointment…”

I was done by this point. But, gritting my teeth, I proceeded to politely explain in hope she did not think I was a dumbass who couldn’t grasp the concept of what she was saying to me.

 

“Okay, have a great day Miss Bruce, thank you so much for calling…”

 

Condescending B***h.

 

The Event itself.

The ‘assessment’ went quick itself. Can I call it an assessment? Not only did the psychiatrist not review my notes (she admitted this when I walked in to the room), but she hardly gave me the opportunity to tell her what had been going on in my life since I last saw her. There is a huge issue here, as she couldn’t even recall when the last time she saw me actually was. I told her, again, that a major part of the medication was the worrying amount of weight that has made itself a comfortable lodger on my physique, and how difficult it was for me to try to evict. I am not the slim size 8 anymore that I was after having my first child. I was now a size 14.

She proceeded to tell me that yes, with Quetiapine, you usually have problems with your appetite.

Don’t get me wrong, I may have had some serious sugar cravings. But that was not the issue here. My whole metabolism has grinded to a halt. System down.

We reviewed medication, again, then after going through every option apart form the one we discussed, I politely reminded her about the Abilify that we had discussed.

“Great idea!”

No SHIT.

She was happy then. No more questions asked, and I walked away with a prescription of Abilify, A few mil’s of Quetiapine to wean off and help me sleep for the next week and some Diazepam.

Diazepam. That’s right. She had let a drug addict walk away with a prescription of Valium, all because she couldn’t be bothered to read her notes properly.

I took it of course. My GP, who on the contrary knows me very well, won’t even prescribe that to me.

And so, after some messing about to get a ten minute appointment, I am now off the Zombie drug.

I am free (for now!)

 

*Hypomanic post to follow.

 

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.

“Sharing Stories” – Bipolar; The rollercoaster I didn’t pay to get on, By Allison Padgett

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“You’re crazy! You’re a bitch! You’re a mess! I wish you’d just get your shit together! Why can’t you be normal? Just get out of bed! It’s like you’re two different people! It’s all in your head! You’re just lazy! Good for nothing! Worthless! Pathetic!

These are just a few of the things I’ve heard over the years in my struggle with my mental health. Some of these things have been said by friends. Some of these things have been said by loved ones. And some of these things I’ve said to myself.

Have you ever had a bad day? I mean, a really bad day. You wake up late. Forget the most important thing that you needed for work at home, but you’re already late, so you have to make up and excuse not only about your lateness, but about your not bringing that important thing. Your boss calls you in the office to “discuss” your performance or lack there of. You then begin to cry, but it’s only eleven AM, so you have to keep working and act like someone didn’t just make you feel like an idiot, when you know you’re not. Then, you start doubting yourself and start believing what was said. Next, no one asks you to join them for lunch because you look like you’re having one of your “days”. You try to work, but the thoughts play in your head like a CD stuck on repeat. You accomplish nothing, but more failure and your closest coworker gets mad at you for not holding up your end of the bargain. You try to tell them that you’re sorry. You try to tell them that you’ll do better, but they don’t believe you and you start not to believe yourself either. Finally, you go home only to think more about being worthless and wishing you could just die. You think that you’re probably just a burden on everyone and should just quit. Quit your job and life, itself. You’re hungry. No, you’re not hungry enough to fix anything, so you sit in silence and try to go to sleep early. Ha! The Sandman laughs in your face. Sleep doesn’t come because you continue to listen to that CD. Over and over. You believe it. You know you’re just a pathetic human being. Then you finally fall asleep miraculously, only to be awoken by a nightmare that you’re being thrown in a dumpster filled with other people “just like you”. Then, much to your dismay, your alarm goes off and it’s time to start the struggle of life for one more day.

Sounds like hell, doesn’t it? It sounds unreal.

It was a day in my life. On my “down” days, I felt like this. Sometimes even worse. So your worst day, is a day in the life of someone with bipolar disorder when they cycle down. Oh sure, I cycle up, too. Here’s what that feels like…

You are woken up by your alarm and today, you don’t feel like throwing it across the room. Could it be? You’re not sure yet. You get ready for work and today you feel like listening to the radio. What? You get to work and say hello to everyone you see. Good Morning, everybody!! You start your workday and do your work without interruptions of doubt. All of the sudden, while chatting with your favorite coworker you both realize that it’s almost time to go home. Already? Awesome! You drive home, windows down, singing your favorite song and thinking that sunlight is pretty great. When you get home, you cook your favorite meal and enjoy it in front of the TV, watching your favorite rerun of Friends. (The Prom Video, obviously) Then you take a nice warm bath, look in the mirror one last time and smile. Today was your day! Today was an amazing day! You pick up that novel you’ve been meaning to read and then fall asleep easily, without the constant feeling of worthlessness.

Sounds like a pretty good day, right? Sounds like what most people would call a normal day. For me, these days are precious. They are coveted. I yearn for these days. I beg for these days and when they come they’re gone too soon.

I haven’t always been bipolar. I’ve been to so many doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists. I’ve been told I’m depressed. I have anxiety disorder. I’m just hormonal. I need to exercise more. I should just eat better. I have toxic people in my life and if I rid myself of them, then I’ll be fine. Fine, they said. But, fine never came. Fine felt a million miles away.

So, I started doing research. I listened to some of those closest to me. One ex said I acted like two different people. He named them “Allison and Callison”. It took 10 years before I knew what that meant. I’m not two different people, but my brain just might be. So, I called an emergency mental health hotline. No, I wasn’t having a true mental health emergency, but I needed someone to listen to this epiphany. I needed someone to listen. I needed some one to listen to ME. Not judge me. Not try to over analyze me. And not throw the latest pill at me and tell me it’s been a miracle for other patients. So, he listened while I explained what I knew in my heart was finally right. I think I’m bipolar, I said. I had actually said it. Bipolar.

The next step was making an appointment with yet another psychologist. But this time was different. I had an idea of what to say. I’d never been completely open with any provider before, but this time I was. I explained my lifelong battle with my brain. And she listened. She gave me a test. It wasn’t long. I had to answer about twenty questions. I answered all, but a select few, with a resounding YES. I didn’t know what the test was for, but I knew whatever it was, it understood me. The results? Bipolar Type 2, with hypo-mania. YES!! I knew it. But, wait. What the hell do I do now? Another pill? No. That’s not why I came. Pills don’t work for me. I should know. I’d been on every single one. But, she was adamant that this pill was for bipolar disorder. This pill was “right” for me. I gave in. I went to the pharmacy and filled it.

Then, I waited. They always say to wait two to three weeks before you give up.

I waited three days. Yes, three days. On day four I woke up different. Good different. Something felt good. Not high, good. But, I just felt good. What? No self loathing this morning? No hatred of all things morning? Ok. That’s great. Now, I’ll need to go on and get up. I have things to do. I got up. I showered and dressed and then I had an errand to run. I hopped in my car and immediately turned on the radio. I rolled the windows down and began driving. About three miles down the road I came to a stoplight. One of those looong stoplights that if you don’t hit at just the right time, you’ll sit forever. So, I sat. I looked around at all of the other people in their cars. Some just sitting. Some on the phone. And some smiling at me. Why were they smiling, I thought. Oh, shit! I’m smiling, too. Then, it hit me! I’m happy. And I began to cry. I cried because I was happy. I cried because I felt what most people call normal. And right there at that stoplight, I knew my struggle had just gotten a little easier. So, I cried some more. I cried for the years I’d missed not feeling this way. Then, I stopped crying. I stopped because I wanted too. I stopped because I could.

So, what now? I had a diagnosis and a medication that managed it. I felt like someone or something had given me back my life. No, wait. I felt like someone or something had finally given me life.

And, so goes the beginning of my life with bipolar disorder. Is it always as easy as it was that fourth day? No. Is it ever as bad as my worst day? No. I still cycle up and down. Just not as frequently and not as high or as low. I’ve had to add some medications and I’ve taken a few away, but right now I’m managed. I still deal with the stigma. How many times have I heard someone laugh at someone else’s expense and joke that they must be bipolar? A lot. I just kind of look down and smile to myself. They don’t know what they’re saying. They don’t know what it’s like. They don’t know that every single day is a battle. But, they also don’t know that I’m finally winning.”

– By Allison Padgett

Thank you to Allison for submitting her story. To read more of Allison’s journey upon Bipolar, homeschooling and living with her Husband’s Brain tumour diagnosis, please support her blog at https://immamabutimstillme.wordpress.com

 

WE NEED YOUR STORIES….

– Please drop me an email on themanicyears@gmail.com if you want to take part and be featured in “Sharing Stories”, if you have a story to tell or you just want to share your thoughts about your experiences with mental health. I am so proud of everyone who has contributed and who has joined me in this journey so far, and I do hope our army gets stronger. A bigger voice. A fight to speak louder. – M