Sober October

How are we in October already?

As the impending winter brings a magnetic pull towards the back end of 2021, I am already finding myself in the midst of denial over the start of October. I permitted myself another day of September by drinking on the 1st October and calling it the 31st September, kicking myself for dragging myself and my partner in to doing ‘Sober October’ (whose brilliant idea was that?!). The colder months are hard enough as they are without denying yourself a glass of wine in the evenings.

So yes we shamefully cheated, then woke up on the second day of the month with a joyful “Happy October!”

It’s good to give yourself allowances sometimes.

This month, starting a day late, will be alcohol free. I am ready for this now, I promise.

As the late summer dwindled away, I could feel that this year was going to be a difficult one, particularly with the familiar feelings of a niggling anxiety stirring up in my chest with the summer sunsets. Sunsets have always been an indicator of my own mental state since I was a child. I either enjoy them, or I feel myself sinking along with the sun. I have had two great winters over the last years – surprising, considering the mess of last years lockdown – but this year I am pretty confident I’m not going to get away with it.

There has been a very strange energy in the air over the last few weeks, an energy I usually blame blindly on the lunar cycles, but it has been hanging around since September and I am feeling it in everyone. Family, friends, colleagues, even my cat seems to be off and uneased. People are going through illnesses, troubles with work, finances and heartbreak. Even my mobile signal seems to be struggling like it’s not ready for this time of the year either and wants to hibernate. Our thriving chilli plant on our kitchen window has perished. As unsettling as it is to see every living being around you hanging their heads and looking miserable, its given me somewhat comfort to know that it’s not just me who is struggling away and clinging on to that extra last day of September just to hang on to a tiny bit of joy.

In a way, a way that I want to pretend I have not acknowledged, Sober October might have come at the exact right time after all. Drinking makes me anxious, yet i’ve fallen in to the lockdown trap of being a borderline alcoholic which I have somehow made excuses to carry through to this year.

If you are reading this, it is not too late to take the Sober October pledge, especially if you are also feeling that heavy energy. It might just transform your month and set you up for some healthier habits to see you through the winter. Just see it as though you’ve give yourself a few extra September days, like me…

When you feel wrong, write – By Charlotte.

charlotte

“The first time I knew for definite that something had gone wrong in my brain was in the middle of a GCSE exam.

“You’re going crazy,” a random thought popped into my head. “You’re about to have a breakdown.” Now up until this point I’d been answering questions about photosynthesis, happy as Larry. But this thought just wouldn’t shut up. “You’re losing it,” the thought said. “You’re about to go completely batshit crazy.”

“Eh?” I tried to think back. “What are you going on about?”

Long story short, I ended up having my first colossal panic attack – or a whatinthenameofarsingarseholeishappeningohmygodimdyingoratleasthavingaheartattackwhatthefuckpleasesparemebabyJesus– in front of everyone and after that I had to sit every single exam for the rest of my education in my own little room like Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.

There had of course been signs leading up to this. My mum had recently been diagnosed with cancer and I’d managed to convince myself that if I got A*s in everything then she wouldn’t die (side note: God let me off with 6A*, 2A, 2B, the absolute babe). I’d started writing endless lists which I’d rip to shreds if the colours didn’t match; organising my DVDs into genre, age certificate and alphabetical order; brushing my teeth six times per day; and genuinely believing that if the green man on the traffic light flashed quickly after I’d pressed the button, it meant I was going to have a good day. LOL.

I’d also completely stopped talking. To the point where I could quite easily go a day without saying a word. To the point where I haunted the school corridors like a silent, creepy ghoul. I just couldn’t talk about how I was feeling or what was going on at home so I shut down and ultimately focused my efforts on being an anxious, obsessive little weirdo.

I was eventually referred to a child counsellor, who confirmed I was depressed and prescribed me medication – which my parents decided I was too young for. The ‘talking about my feelings’ thing wasn’t really for me, so I pretended I’d gotten better and spent the next six years swinging between feeling fine and feeling distinctly not fine, occasionally dabbling in anti-anxiety medication and half-arsed counselling appointments.

During this time, I started writing seriously. I’d always written stories, and it became the one thing that made me feel good about myself. I knew I had a knack for it, and seeing something through to completion – even if it was a weird-ass story about a tomato plant – gave me both a distraction and a sense of purpose.

Somehow I managed to turn this into a career and I now work as a professional writer. And for me, this has been the best therapy. There are lots of things I am horrendous at – small talk, parking and being on time for stuff to name a few – but I am a good writer, and being able to write every day is essential to me feeling okay about myself.

Don’t get me wrong, writing isn’t a magical elixir for anxiety. There are times when I feel absolutely shit and I’d rather throw my laptop out of a window than write another word. There are times when I stress-buy £30 worth of chocolate and crisps from Morrison’s and then have to gradually smuggle them into work as office treats so I don’t put on five stone. There are times when I lie in bed and sob and sob and then idly think ‘Hey, I’m actually pretty amazing at crying, maybe I have the potential to be an Oscar-winning actress’ and then get a grip and wash the snot off my face.

Mental health doesn’t have a beginning or an end. At the moment, I am fine. And I have been fine for a long time. Tomorrow I might not be fine. But I don’t wallow in what might be. I know I can write my own future.”

– By Charlotte, Birmingham.

 – 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 – M.

Bipolar; The rollercoaster I didn’t pay to get on, By Allison Padgett

image

“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

Living in Fear, by Marco.

sharing stories

“I never quite appreciated anxiety when I was younger. I always figured it was just a feeling of nervousness associated with something, like an interview or a presentation. It’s only now that I realise how serious a mental issue anxiety is.

My name is Marco and I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression some 9 months ago now. I have since dealt with my depression, however my anxiety still lingers. It affects pretty much everything I do, from work to social situations to family life.

Since my diagnosis, I have been through a low intensity CBT course to try and help me out (I didn’t want any kind of medication) and have now moved onto high intensity CBT. Not only has CBT helped me recognise my thought processes that contribute towards my anxiety but it’s also made me realise that anxiety has always been present in my life. I can now look back at my childhood memories through to present day (I’m now 27) and recognise the same anxiety-influenced thought processes and behaviours. The amount of times I avoided certain situations because of fear is… well I don’t think I can put a number to it to be honest.

And that’s what anxiety is like for me. It’s like living in a constant state of fear. Fear that something will go wrong. Fear that I’ll make a fool out of myself somehow and be ridiculed. Fear that, no matter what I do, I will never be able to break out of this anxiety cycle.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people don’t realise just how much of an effect anxiety has on everyday life – an opinion I’ve more than likely formed based on my own complete ignorance to the issue in the past. For me, it affects my work, not only because I find it incredibly difficult to focus on what I’m doing, but also because I find it incredibly difficult to form relationships with those I work with. It affects my social life in that I find it almost impossible to truly be myself in social situations unless the people around me belong to my absolute closest of friends. It affects my ability to relax because I constantly feel like I’m running out of time and that, if I don’t do something with my time, everyone I love is drifting away from me. It affects my health because it’s both mentally and physically exhausting – most of the time stopping me from sleeping properly. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Nowadays I write for my blog called Never Mind the Cancer where I talk about my life with anxiety, depression and cancer, which I had almost 5 years ago now (something I think also contributed towards my mental health issues). I write not only to help myself, but also to help those with any of those conditions realise that they’re not alone and to give them something to relate to.

I also write because I want to change the way we think about these conditions. If we talk about them, our understanding will grow and our fear and the stigma surrounding them will slowly diminish.”

-By Marco.

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

“Sharing Stories” – Tales of Depression, by Gary Cooper.

“Hi, my name is Gary Cooper, 26. I am a Lecturer in Biological Science, Zoo Keeper and I have depression. Throughout my life I have, like many others, suffered the tragedy of loss, of relationships, friends and quite recently; Family. Surprisingly it is none of the above that defines who I am, I’m just a guy trying to make his way through life the best he can. I suffer from chronic pain these days and surprisingly my depression has subsided, probably because the pain tends to keep my mind from wondering. Anyway i’m sharing some of my writings in the hope that at least one person can find comfort and maybe feel a little less lonely in this big crazy world.

If I could give anyone suffering from depression / social anxiety any advice it would be this;

We need people, without them we can never truly understand ourselves; how we treat others can say a lot about a person. So be kind, be patient, be the person you want others to be, remove negative people from your life and be with the people that matter to you and make you feel like you matter. Enjoy the little things in life.”

Giving to others gives back.

”It’s always crazy this time of year, getting students through their qualifications but this year has been pretty rough, i can see the light at the end of the tunnel just a few more sleepless nights on the cards before next week ! I can do this.”

Sharing Stories

Things like this that makes waking up in the morning a little easier, written by one of my students when asked to write about what they liked about college.

“One student made my day today, through all the hard work it’s amazing how a positive comment from one person can make it all worthwhile. This is my first year teaching, taken on a hell of a lot for a newbie …… it’s more than hard work but it will all be worth it in the end, presentation of awards evening next Thursday, I will watch my course group stand up and receive their qualifications, nobody will ever be able to take that feeling away from me and that’s what’s keeping me going.”

Thoughts on losing yourself.

“Losing somebody close to you or feeling betrayed by a person or a number of people; forcing yourself to deal with this and suppressing the resulting emotion makes you switch off inside, your mind makes the decision somewhere along the line that it is easier to carry on in life being contented and numb rather than to feel the highs and the crippling lows that come with it. You lose your sense of yourself; you forget what makes you special and no longer place any real value on yourself. If your mind won’t let you get excited or have any real sense of achievement or happiness for worry that it will ultimately cripple your soul again, how you possibly see yourself as being of value. This means you search for beauty in the wrong places, you wonder why you only find people physically attractive now and not adorable, why you only muster a smile at a joke rather than cry like you used to, why you haven’t got a competitive bone in your body. You make acquaintances with everyone but never true friends because you can’t distinguish between desirable and undesirable qualities. There is a disconnect between your dreams of your life as a child and what you believe to be a harsh reality, a total and disappointing lack of any magic. This isn’t true and is a warped perspective – as a matter of urgency you need either go for counselling as I did, or make the decision, at some point every day to go back to the situation that caused this. You need to write down everything that you used to feel and where/why along the line you’ve lost hope. Then you need to make a conscious decision every day to let yourself feel happy and excited about life again because you deserve it. Let your mind know that it is ok to feel the pain next time it comes because without it you can’t enjoy anything; let your mind know that you will deal with it next time no matter what.

This problem can be especially difficult if you’re the rare type of person that is always self-analysing, and trying to improve on who you are, stretching your social boundaries and putting yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable, that important and developed image of yourself (that you spend your whole childhood creating), whilst your spiritual side develops and your view of the workings of the world become clearer, you have confused your sense of self which is what makes us human. The image of who you are becomes too vague and you lose any sense of self – and thus self worth – and you naively but understandably come to the decision that nothing really matters. Along with the above you need to rein it back in, close your bubble that you have allowed to expand too far. Make your world yours again, it is yours and it is personal, unique and beautiful. People are interested in it and you and you are fascinating and fervently loved by select group of equally fascinating and lovable human beings who have remembered what is important in life. Because you think the opposite you have ironically turned into a selfish person who refuses to be interested in the people most close to you, no one expects you to be interested in the world, just a selection of the world, so choose wisely and be passionate about it.

Write down your qualities and think hard about why they are attractive, think about the kind of people you want to hang around with and what you want out of life, and how you want to make your stamp on this world. If you do this every day, it will take a few months to connect with yourself again. Strip away everything and feel the uniqueness of your soul, remember that that is what makes you attractive, this is the only thing that you used to function as a child which is why your childhood memories are so clear (the good and the bad). Function as you did then, live life in the moment and stop over analysing, just be. If you believe the noises of the world, rather than the silences of your soul, you will be lost.”

By Gary Cooper.

Do you have a Mental Health experience you would like to share? Send your story, name and picture in to themanicyears@gmail.com and be featured in the Sharing Stories series.

‘Here comes the sun’ – Appreciating stability.

After two weeks of aimlessly wondering around with a dreadful anxiety as a companion, she is slowly starting to turn the dimmer down on her radiation. She is still here no doubt,  but she is getting bored now.

Instead of letting my mentality slip, I have spent the past lonely days and nights acknowledging her and carefully carrying on with my days as usual. Let me give myself a moment here to pat myself on the back and say a huge well done for showing some sort of strength with this one.

It still gets every time how sour I can feel even when things are absolutely fine and dandy in my life. For some reason, I still find myself screaming Why to the high heavens because it just doesn’t make sense for me to be feeling the way I feel when my life is running smoothly and I have a great routine. And then I switch my mind back on and remind myself, ‘Oh yeah, I almost forgot I have a chronic illness…’

I hate saying that I have an illness. Not in the way that I feel I haven’t accepted it (although I do have my moments) – but in by saying so I feel like I am using it as an excuse. Does anyone else feel that way with theirs?

I was having a catch up with a rather skeptical friend this week, who has always been quite closed and blind sided to like likes of depression and other disorders. I was explaining that I was having a bad time with anxiety and that I was being productive and just seeing when it will pass this time around. She looked at me and began to explain kindly to me that sometimes overthinking about things makes it worse.

And then she started to explain the anxiety she feels when things in her house are messy, and she gets really uncomfortable and frustrated when things aren’t tidy, and the more she lets it get on top of her, the worse she feels about it.

I then proceeded to look at her blindly.

What I said in reply was that I was at a good place in my life right now, and that the anxiety I feel I believed was different then the normal environmental anxiety you feel on a daily basis.

What I wanted to say was, that if the anxiety I feel offered me a one way ‘no-concequence to others’ cliff jumping ticket, I would happily take it without question and still have a smile on my face when I reached the bottom.

I guess, even with a label, people who have never experienced the wrath of the storm will more than likely never take it as serious as it actually is.

Which is okay.

But it does tend to push you a little bit further in to that lonely box of yours sometimes.

On a lighter note, my anxiety is still lingering, but I am getting to the point when I can see a stable 5 at the end of the tunnel, and I feel like I can muster the stamina to reach it. Bipolar is like the weather, it is unpredictable, it is inevitable, but so is the sun.

So as I (hopefully) wander in to the sunlight, I will do my best to appreciate the good days, and take my mind off the fact that I will  indeed, shift again someday, as that it how we are built.

Here’s to the Summer.

*raises glass*

Tackling anxiety – A proactive approach.

Relapses are inevitable in mental illness, particularly in Bipolar disorder. They come as Seasonal shifts, the sunny hypomanic spark and the cold winters of depression. And then you have the weather changes in between; the bad days, the good days, the sleepless nights, the medication side effects, the bad choices and the days in bed.

One of the symptoms that I seem to be battling with at present is Anxiety. One of my worst enemies, the one who has won me over time and time again. My anxiety presents itself in many forms; this time it has been brought to me by the change in psychiatric medication. There is a huge problem with this, my anxiety has not come through worry or a difficult time in my life. So when there is nothing particularly wrong with your days, how on earth do you even attempt to tackle it? This time I have taken myself out of the sit-and-wallow approach, and become more proactive instead – Here’s a short list of the changes that seem to be working out for me…

Acceptance

That’s right. I am not fighting against something that cannot be fought against. I have said hello to my company, welcomed it as a dear friend and I have told myself that it might be here to stay for some time. There have been many, many times in my life where it has broken me, I have pitied myself and I have knelt down on my knees and prayed to god to take it away. This time, I am sucking it up and trying my hardest to live side by side until it decides to rest for another time.

Routine

Having a rock solid routine has been a savior. Whether that is in getting up earlier in the day than usual, going to bed in a timely manner, what time of the day I eat… Predictability has brought along stability. The amount of times I have gone to the doctors and they have thrown the ‘Make sure you get yourself in to a good routine!’ suggestion at me. News flash: IT ACTUALLY WORKS. I think the hardest part will be trying to stick to it, but I’m doing a pretty good job for now.

Keeping active

I have always viewed as anxiety as some form of unwanted energy, and so the more active I keep myself the more it seems to burn away. Whereas some anxious episodes have kept me bedridden and housebound (I know, it’s extremely difficult to get out in public when you keep having attacks), this time I have taken the more productive approach and do you know what? It is helping. I have upped the walks, and taken on swimming – the more I do, the quicker time goes by – and I feel so much better, mind and body, in doing so. There is something about that water when I go for a swim that has the magic to melt away all that niggling harvested energy form the day; and it helps me sleep at night to. Bonus.

Distraction

Desperate to pass the time, I have found myself this week picking up my phone and spending a questionable amount of time playing… games. I am not a games person at all, (I prefer to be more productive with my time!) but as I have been dallying about catching Pokémon, battling people with trivia and popping bubbles; I have realized that when I am in the moment my anxiety disperses. So in that light I will be carrying on, for as long as it takes, sitting out time being unsociable (I have an excuse, right??).

Having Zen time

Ever since I got diagnosed I have, without fail, used hypnosis on a daily basis. It is one of the tools I use to battle insomnia (it works!!), and along with it I have gone from spending hours tossing and turning restlessly in bed, to a peaceful night by my mind drifting away to soothing words and sounds. Since my anxiety has taken hold of me, I have ramped up the daily Zen time; whether that be a ten minute meditation on my dinner break at work, talking a quick silent walk in the fresh air, or switching my music to the more classical variety in the car. My Zen is slowly transforming from a necessity to a luxury, and I have found mini breaks of this throughout the day (when I find the time!) has developed its ability to reset my body time and time again from that buzzing energy to a silent calm.

Anxiety, however unpleasant it may be, will always persistent in my life. It comes with the package of having a long term mental illness. So in the meantime, I will be walking side by side with it, and taking it one day at a time until it decides to give me a much needed rest.

The appointment – switching 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.