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It’s Not Me, It’s You. Wait, What?!

I’m ridiculously over sensitive. Which, in turn, makes me completely unreasonable. I feel that every single person should consider my feelings ALL THE TIME. Not only is that totally unrealistic, it’s unbelievably self involved.

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Don’t talk to me about your good day. I don’t want to see your scan photo. Why would you invite me somewhere so public? Don’t call me on the phone. Don’t expect me to drive to you. How dare channel 4 air One Born Every Minute?

The following topics are off limits and must not be discussed under any circumstances:

Pregnancy
Birth
Motherhood
Parenting
Breastfeeding
Employment
Sex
Money
Happiness
Phone conversations
Friendship
Driving
Mental health
Holidays
Your Dad
Family planning
Nights out
Future events

Due to this absurd level of sensitivity, it’s easier for me to just not go out or communicate with people. It only takes one comment, one text, one image, one tweet, just one little thing that pulls in my stomach somewhere, and I completely unravel.

The trigger goes, and there I am. Paranoid, full of hate, feeling excluded, anxious, jealous, angry, worrying, over analysing, reliving…

What I’d ideally like to do when this occurs, is live in a bubble, with no other living being, until I’m ready to emerge. Everything outside this bleak caccoon should just freeze, as it is. No one else can have a life, or be happy, or be friends with each other. There will be no laughter, because I’m miserable and that’s all that matters.

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It’s easy to forget someone that isolates themselves. There’s only so many times you can invite them to things and not get replies to your text messages before you give up. No one really knows what to say, there’s not anything they can do to make you snap out of it. And I do get that, when I’ve got the head space to be rational.

It’s hard feeling this way, acknowledging you’re an asshole, when you know that somewhere inside you is the decent person you used to be. Someone that put others first, liked doing favours, embraced all people. But at the moment, I’m this self centred, paranoid, bitter old shrew, offended by everything and analysing all.

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Normality Is Terrifying

Good grief, I can feel the anxiety rising as I write this, but I may as well put it out there with everything else. Honesty and authenticity is important to me.

As I slowly start my ascent back up from wallowing in the absolute festering pit of despair, with the tiny blink of light and hope at the surface, a new feeling descends upon me. It’s a curious mixture of relief and sheer terror.

I’m relieved that mental health professionals are taking me seriously, that they realise this isn’t a quick fix with six sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy, that actually, some if my issues are rooted deep into my childhood. The cynic in me still believes that they tell everyone they’ll get better and that I’ve heard it myself a hundred times before. But, if I just think about my therapists empathetic face, I have something to hold onto, a guide rope to assist me out of this hole.

When I think of my life when it was more ‘normal’ (or as normal as my life has ever been), I miss it for a moment. Chat with friends, play groups, walks, going to work. Just day to day things, the simple pleasures, lighting incense, sorting the recycling. I feel there’s a sort of nostalgia about it. It seems so long ago that I was building train track, trying to drink a coffee before it went cold.

And then, debilitating fear. Shit. I’m not going to wake up one morning with all this baggage gone. Baggage I’ve collected over 27 years, with a little extra acquired as I was dragged down into this current rut. It’s going to take work. Tears and time and open wounds and breathing techniques and mood diaries and medication changes. That’s not what I want. I don’t have that kind of energy. Where’s the exit? I should have got out of here while I had desperation and the enthusiasm for overdoses.

What happens when I’m through the other side of that (if I ever get there)? Life. Life is what happens. Day to day routine, a little high, a little low, normality. Every day. Every. Day. And there it is again, that heart constricting, suffocating feeling. This was a huge mistake. That life I was getting all sentimental about earlier? I don’t want it. The responsibility, of raising a human, running a home, going to work, it’s too much. I’m going back to option A, the pills and the bath tub. Cowardly? Yes.

I need the therapy to fight the depression and anxiety. Once the depression and anxiety lift, I may not feel this way. But I’m too depressed and anxious to try. These circles of torment, I’m exhausted. I’m completely overwhelmed, I don’t know where to start or how to help myself. The only positive that I can draw from my present situation is that at least I have occasional moments of wanting to get better. They’re brief, but they’re there. Sometimes, instead of death, I want ‘normality’.

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Heart: 1 Brain: 0

I’ve just had a breakthrough, a glimmer of something hopeful. I need to hold onto it as tight as I can and not let go. This episode of depression is battering me like a hurricane, but I will tighten my grip and ride it out.

Moo woke from her sleep at around 10pm, obviously too hot in this muggy heat, perhaps woken by the thunder. MrTPM went to her, I didn’t even hear her until he flicked her bedroom light on. When I stepped onto the landing, she was face down in her doorway, sobbing, not wanting to be held. This is where the magic began.

Just four hours previously, we’d been to the supermarket, the three of us. Anxiety high, pins and needles in my legs, I’d hated it. Moo wouldn’t sit in the trolley properly, she was being loud, typical two year old stuff. I couldn’t deal with it. I came home and cried. I didn’t want to be a mother, having to care for this thing that wanted so much from me. It would make me the worst parent, but I was done.

But tonight, as she lay on the hard wooden floor, hair stuck to her face with sweat, my heart was drawn to her. I calmed her, picked her up, soothed her, undressed her gently. I stood holding her in the dark for a while, watching the storm clouds out of my bedroom window. I tucked her back into bed and lay with her. I told her I loved her, I kissed her. For the first time in days, I wanted to be near to her.

Every inch of my heart loves that girl. My body seems to physically ache with it at times. I may want to disappear, to change my life, to undo the last few years, but there’s no doubt that Moo means so very much to me. I just need to get my brain on board, before I fuck it all up.

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Enough

I’ve had enough of being mental. I. HAVE. HAD. E. FUCKING. NOUGH. Someone, get me out of here, for fuck sake. I’m laid here, thinking about the 60 years of life that I might have left, literally panicking. I don’t want to live that long like this. I don’t want to have to fight every day, just to stay calm, to get out of bed, to quiet my mind. Kudos to those with bipolar disorder that have the courage to live with the constant threat of relapse, but I can’t.

I don’t think I’ve ever been this intensely ill, for this long. Something really isn’t right. I need help. I’ve needed help for a long time. Someone needs to make me better pretty sharpish, because I’ve had enough of this crazy ass bull shit. Is there some sort of medication that fixes this? Or do I just need some alcohol and heroin?

It’s so exhausting; over thinking every single thing, my mind never quiet, consciously hearing every thought in my head. The emotion I feel most is anger. Absolute burning rage. I want everyone to fuck off out of my life, leave me on my own to just lay still. And if that’s not a viable option, then I want to be dead, to not exist. And then sadness, intense sadness. I’m so sad that my life has become this. And then the guilt. It’s so heavy. Knowing that I’m wasting a life and am such a burden on others. I’ll be told that I’m not, but my husband is miserable, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s obvious that I’m fucking up Moo.

I’ve been planning a suicide, but all options are scuppered, either by my own anxiety not allowing me to leave the house, or lack of means for gaining enough prescription medication to do the job. I’ve felt quite calm about it. I know others won’t see it, perhaps for a few years, but it is the logical thing to do. I can’t live like this any more, the thought of one more day like this makes my anxiety soar. It’s inhumane. If I were an animal, I’d have been euthanised a long time ago.

How do I convey these thoughts to my community psychiatric nurse or psychiatrist? How do I make them see that I’m not making progress, I’m not coming out the other side of a ‘down’ patch, that I’m actually fucking mentally unstable? Or am I not? Am I just over analysing? Really I just need to get the fuck over myself? And it begins again. Fleeting thought, intruding, mulled over, scrutinised, creating anxiety and then, before it’s processed, another surfaces. Endless.

A Day In The Life Of A Nut Job

Wake up.

What the fuck?

Struggle to open eyes.

What the fuck.

Take medication x2

Cigarette.

Try to make myself presentable.

What the fuck.

Cigarette.

Coffee.

Vaguely amuse child

Resent parenting.

Cigarette.

Feed child.

Hate life a bit.

Cigarette.

Coffee.

Roughly tidy house.

Cigarette.

Throw together a meal.

Cigarette.

Tell child I love it.

Cigarette.

Have some great ideas.

Cigarette.

Try several random things to distract myself.

Cigarette.

Freak the fuck out about getting up again tomorrow.

Cigarette.

Medication x3

Tweet a bit.

Cigarette.

Lie awake.

Cigarette.

Sleep.

Repeat.

The Balance

I’m struggling, really struggling. I’m going to roll out the cliches, but I’m in this whirlpool, spiralling down, surrounded by shit. Eventually the plug will be pulled and I’ll drop out the bottom.

Many of the things I’m struggling with are pretty basic. Running a home, looking after a child, working part time. All challenging, but manageable for most.

Then there are the petty things. The pathetic tasks that I’m almost embarrassed to admit I can’t cope with. Remembering to sort prescriptions for my medication. Ordering the food shop online. Going to the post office. Driving. Opening post. Using the phone. My tax return and child tax credits paperwork was a minefield of anxiety. Every day it wasn’t done I was worrying about it, yet I had no energy to do it. I procrastinate my arse off to avoid facing up to the things that need to be done.

 

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The reasons I struggle with all these things? Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Bipolar Affective Disorder Type 2. I cannot live with these things and function day to day.

Something’s got to give. I need to make a list of all the things that stress me out, then decide how I can eliminate some of those worries. The parenting can’t go, obviously. Kinda stuck with that one on my own. Some of the small crap can be better organised.

But work? Claiming benefits? It’d be a whole new world. The media is full of stories of unfair cases, complicated processes. If I can’t go anywhere new on my own or talk on the phone, how do I even make a claim? Then the stigma. Yet another person ‘pretending to be mental to sit on her arse all day’. Daily Mail fodder. And then, that’s another thing added to the whirlpool. I’m drowning.

 

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Have I Ever Been The Real Me?

I wonder if, once my bipolar medication is effective, I’ll be this whole other person. Does a person ‘develop’ bipolar disorder, or are they born with it? I’ve certainly had mental health issues since my teenage years. So perhaps I’ve lived my entire adult life so far under this cloud of disease? Maybe the ‘monster’ has always ruled my thoughts, my actions, and once it’s under control, I’ll finally be ‘me’.

I wonder which bits of me will be left. Will I still have a short temper? A penchant for alternative style? Will I crave coffee and nicotine and need to plan everything in advance? Maybe I’ll be less emotional, or perhaps more so?

I like to think I’ll be able to achieve the things that I’d like to right now. Driving again, answering the phone, the social phobia gone. Less Dermatillomania would be great. A career might be nice. Or travel. But I’d settle for just being content with what I have now, and being a better parent to Moo.

My entire thought processes might be different. Just the way I function day to day altered. What if I don’t like the new me? What if the bits about myself that I do like (surprisingly, I can think of a couple) are also gone? A tick sheet to fill out would be great. If only I could opt out of some of my personality and keep the rest.

Once I’m this new person, will I have deep regrets? Will things that were once blamed on ill mental health suddenly become more rational? Maybe I am just an asshole. Maybe I do just hate being a mother. I won’t have depression and anxiety to hide behind. Maybe I’ll just be a lazy, demanding, high maintenance, ungrateful, snappy, moaning old bitch?

Meh, we’ll see.

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How My Mental Health Ruined My Holiday

The general day to day tasks stress me out. Like, really stress me out. I write lists of things to do and get pissed off when I don’t complete them all. I’ll spend hours cleaning the house in preparation for a visitor popping in for a brew. Work often fills me with dread. A trip to the shop takes an hour and two cigarettes to prepare for. An unexpected call or knock at the door has made me hide, crying on the landing. And then there’s parenting on top of that. Am I getting it right? Is she happy, well rounded, secure? The whining, the begging, the constant demand for my attention. It’s relentless, draining and some days I just can’t be arsed with it.

A break away was just what I needed. My husband planned a surprise. The trip was announced on Mother’s Day, the destination revealed on my birthday, and we were to fly out on our fourth wedding anniversary. Gorgeous, historic Venice. Suitcases were borrowed, my passport renewed. I even shaved my legs. A chance to meander through narrow mazes of streets, soak up the culture, eat whatever and whenever we wanted, drink coffee and eat gelato in the sun. No restrictions, no responsibility, bliss.

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It could not have been more opposite. Sure, I ate an ice cream. I spent hours looking at architecture, Mirano glass and sickening couples in gondolas. But I spent the majority (or so it felt) of the holiday feeling anxious, tense and too fucking hot.

I’ve had panic attacks before. Stomach knotted, shaking, hyperventilating in tears. But this was in a totally different league. Vomiting, sweating, the skin on my arms felt as though it was on fire. My legs were shaking so uncontrollably that I thought my body was going into shock. I sat, holding my face, hoping to die. I’ve only felt that ill once before, just after giving birth, suffering a haemorrhage. Flash backs to that time made the anxiety spiral further.

Suffering with an illness on holiday is never a good time. I had a bad cough in Athens years ago and was miserable. Communicating with 112 operators and paramedics in Italy made for a fun game. I can recall sitting in some wheelchair type thing in a hallway, next to a woman with a drip in her arm, wishing I was dead. Praying to God to please let me die. I was administered with Benzodiazepine and sat back out in the hall. The fire like skin feeling would come in waves, my head started rolling from side to side as my exhausted body was begging to sleep. Eventually I became calm, we paid our bill and got a taxi back to the hotel. I don’t even remember getting into bed.

We tried to salvage the holiday. We planned a chilled day. I slept in late, we mooched about, got take away food and sat by the water. And then there it was again, the burning feeling, stomach churning, cold sweats. Even typing this makes me start to feel it. I abandoned my gelato and begged my husband to get me home. I had to call time on Venice.

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The airline wouldn’t switch our flights, or let me fly at all, without a ‘fit to fly’ letter. There was no way I could go to the hospital or see a doctor. I couldn’t leave the hotel. The holiday insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of a new flight as it was my ‘choice’ to cut the holiday short. We paid the money, packed our bags and left the next morning.

I was so embarrassed, ashamed, that the weird bullshit that goes on in my head had ruined the break that my husband had so lovingly planned. Checking out of the hotel. The expense. How do I respond to ‘how was your holiday? Did you ride on a gondola?’ No, I didn’t. I didn’t get to ride on a fucking gondola because my brain is so wrongly wired that I’m ridiculously sensitive to any change.

So, holidays are out. I’m home, surrounded by my own things. When I venture out I can come home if I need to. Daily life is the same, monotonous. It’s as stressful as it was before, I didn’t get the luxury of a few days relief. It’s confirmed to me how ill I really am. My life is becoming so, so limited. I can’t talk on the phone, I can’t drive, I can’t go many places on my own, I can’t sit in the garden if neighbours are out in theirs, I can’t work full time, I can’t invite people round on a whim, so many things. And now I can’t explore the Earth. I wouldn’t have got to see much of it anyway, unless I received an unexpected windfall. But to not have that freedom, it’s suffocating. I’m so restricted. My world is getting smaller and smaller. Soon I’ll just be a little cocoon, turned completely into myself, a life of nothingness. It’s pathetic, but also wonderfully appealing.

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The Lithium Diaries

26.06.14

Today could be the last day I’m living a life without Lithium. Feeling apprehensive. I’ve never been a huge fan of popping pills, and now my life has become a whirl of anti depressants and anti anxiety medication and mood stabilisers. My ECG was fine, so if my blood test results are good then I’ll be starting a Lithium trial.
The thought of regular appointments and blood tests is overwhelming. I’ll have to arrange childcare and get myself there. But I guess I’ll have to make it up as I go along.
I hope to be as honest as I can in this journal. Side effects, changes in mood, the impact it has on my life.
See you on the other side.

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27.06.14

I start 400mg of Lithium tonight. Thing I’m most worried about? My hands shaking so much that I can’t crochet. I despair at myself sometimes. I’m feeling really agitated today, nobody likes change!
At this point, if they offered me a brain transplant I’d go for it so this is nothing.
It’s funny, now I can say I’ve got bipolar disorder, I somehow feel less of a fraud. Which is wrong. That’s society looking upon depression with a ‘pull yourself together’ attitude.
This one small daily pill feels enormous to me. It really could change my life.

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28.06.14

Nothing to report really. No side effects that I’ve noticed, so for now the crochet is safe.
I’ve filled out my ‘Lithium Alert Card’, the ultimate accessory, so now I can really show off my status as a fully fledged nutter.
I’ve never had a condition like this before, with a record book and blood tests and wallet warnings. I’m going to get one of those ├╝ber trendy pill organisers too, to complete the look. If I’m gonna do this, I may as well go all out.

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30.06.14

Still crazy. Mouth tastes like shit.

04.07.14

One week in and a few of the side effects are arriving. My mouth still tastes pretty rancid in the evenings (I hope I don’t have breath to match!) and I’ve noticed my hands being less steady. My fingers like to hit all kinds of letters on the keypad (thanks predictive text – I owe you one) and I no longer get the perfect roll on my cigarettes.
Im also exhausted a lot. I’ve always been a lazy arse anyway, but I could genuinely nod off at any moment, up until about 3pm.
I’ve been a lot more tearful. Whether that’s the lithium or not, I don’t know, but it seems weeks since I last cried. I’ve felt a lot of sadness, sadness about things that I can’t change, things that happened a long time ago. I’m hoping an improvement in my mental health will enable me to ‘let go’.

08.07.14

Blood results were normal. Perhaps a little disturbing, but I was almost hoping I’d have done some irreversible damage to my kidneys and could just die. Ah well. Dose to be increased to 600mg. I can cope with the side effects of dry, foul tasting mouth, shakes and fatigue as long as this shit makes me better. Just got to keep hanging on in there. It ain’t fucking easy.

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24.07.14

Taking a drug like Lithium is totally alien to me. It’s the same shit they put into batteries. How freaky is that? I’m ingesting battery filler. I’ve never taken such a ‘hardcore’ medication before. I’ve probably only had antibiotics a handful of times in my life. I used Domperidone long term, but barely noticed I was taking it, besides the lactation. I’ve never suffered from side effects when previously taking anything. This is something else.

The increased thirst is fine; I don’t drink enough usually. And the temperatures at the moment is probably something to do with that anyway. But the fatigue is awful. Being mentally unwell is exhausting anyway, the over analysing, the sobbing. At the moment the days seem far too long, every hour drags by. I’m so tired, I’m willing it to be bedtime by lunchtime. The shakes are becoming an issue. I somehow managed to shatter the handle of a fork by dropping it and walking down steps makes my legs quiver.

The various professionals I’ve been seeing, from the crisis and community mental health teams, are starting to play with the idea that this may not be bipolar disorder type 2, perhaps it’s a personality disorder instead. If this is the case then the lithium will probably go. I don’t know what this is, I just need it gone.