A life running in circles with mental illness.

A life running in circles with mental illness.

The one thing that defines my illness is the constant feeling that I am running in circles. I find myself repeating the same patterns of self-destructive behaviour, I find that no matter how hard I try I end up back at the same point. As Sisyphus was condemned to roll a boulder up a mountain, only for it to roll back down, I often feel the same.

No matter how hard I try to bring order from chaos within my life, it creeps back in, so frustrating. I really can not complain about my standard of living, I cope, I have family and friends who support me, but I want to stand on my own two feet. Maybe I want the impossible, the one thing that is for sure is that I do not want what lies beneath.

There is a me that must not be allowed to live, a me that I am scared of. Not that I am violent, but then violence can come in verbal and mental forms not just the physical, so maybe I am. It is the me that sit drunk in the corner of a pub for eternity. I have seen it with my own eyes, the son must not follow in the footsteps of the father.

Over the past couple of years I have learned a lot about mental illness in general, and a lot about my own mental health. I have learned to spot triggers and warning signs, though not always, and sometimes a little bit late. The more I learn, the smaller my circle gets, however there are circles within circles. A change in one circle, let us say for example, leading a healthier life, can have effects on others, such as money, change of daily routine, I could go on.

Cycling from mania to depression is another circle in my life, with medication these episodes can be mild and easily recognised, if not actually dealt with. Other times the can be intense, both can be quick (a matter of minutes) or slow (spread over a few weeks). No matter what, once you start looking deep into yourself, you soon see the cyclic nature of prolonged mental illness.

I know that I will never break these cycles, the best that I can hope for is to increase the up cycle and decrease the down side. I believe self-knowledge is the key to better ‘recovery’ from the worst of mental illness. I strongly believe that my quality of living is getting better, the gap between father and son grows. Maybe the more I keep trying, the more subtle changes will stick. What ever happens, it will happen in circles.

This post is inspired by The Daily Prompt 

 

 

Is there a witty side to mental illness

Is there a witty side to mental illness

I have found a rather interesting site which provides a daily prompt for blog posts. If you are a blogger like myself, a ‘fits and starts’ type, it might be useful. The site is called The Daily Post , check it out and see what you think.

Anyway, I have decided to take up their challenge of both writing a post every day, and also writting a post ‘inspired’ by the daily prompt. The word today is witty. Now as I write mainly about my personal experience with mental illness, and occasionally my views on mental illness, trying to formulate a blog post around the word witty is interesting.

Here.  I have to be careful, putting witty and mental health could get me in trouble. Some people could take it that I am saying mental illness is funny, I am not, though I do laugh at myself. This I think is my first point, the ability to laugh at yourself. I do stupid things, I spend money when I know full well that I don’t really have it to spend. Until recently I drank (see my post ‘The trouble with alcohol and mental health’), and other things that made my life just that bit more difficult.

Now I used to get angry at myself for doing these things, fuelled the self loathing, gave myself more to mentally beat myself up, now I try to laugh them off. Logically I know what I have done and what the results of my actions will be, I now accept that it cannot be undone, so it is ‘counter productive?’ For me beat myself up. I try to say to myself “oh well, thats another fuck up” and move on. I do talk to myself a lot, often out loud when alone, I try to keep a positive mindset by joking with myself.

This leads nicely into my second point, what some call ‘military humour’, though I believe it is shared by many front line services. When you see a lot of bad things often the way to accept it, is to joke about it. Now I feel I am coming close to the line, but fuck it I will say it anyway, “why the hell can we not joke about mental health”. I know someone who had a heart attack last week, I seen him today laughing and joking about it. My own mum passed away as a result of cancer just a few months ago (another time) and right up until the end she kept her sense of humour.

Try to make light of mental health and run the risk of scorn and damnation. Is mental illness funny, no it is not, but neither are heart disease and cancer. Is the use of wit when explaining your condition wrong? This depends in my view, I am very open about my illness, I do take it very serious. However trying to explain my illness involves going into some rather heavy stuff, to those of casual acquaintance who enquire I simply say “oh I had a crap electrician wire my brain”, or “I am fit and healthy from the neck down”.

I think you get the picture, sometimes people enquire out of courtesy, they neither want, or, probably fully understand the clinical “I have <insert label here>”. My daughter read my last blog post and nearly cried, she hugged me tightly and said “daddy, it’s so sad”. Now compared to some of my past posts it was very matter of fact, at least that is what I thought. It got me thinking, do I write depressing posts?, and more so, is that the reason people read them, I really hope not.

I know that there is still a massive amount of stigma attached to mental illness, I actively support the education of the masses to the serious plight people face with mental health issues, but are we making a problem with a solution. As most mental illness involves some form of anxiety and/or depression, by stamping our feet so hard to get the masses to take us seriously do we not run a risk of further reinforcing  negative beliefs? Just a thought. Now I may have crossed the line with this post, and I do actively encourage debate (though just calling me a dumb asshole is neither constructive but possibly true….anyway) but I have said what I feel.

No person should take a characteristic of another and use it to cause them discomfort. That being said, within the confines of a social circle, you will often find banter, sarcastic wit and repartee the binding ingredient. I wonder if it is possible to use the power of social media to create such a place. I have just set up a Twitter group called The MHB Club which is open to anyone. There is a Facebook group called The MHB Club which you can ask to join.

So, before I get stoned (with metaphorical rocks not weed) please think, join the groups, spread the work, and let us use our wit to help each other, who knows it might actually work.

Love and peace to you all,

David

NB The picture for those that do not recognise it is the stoning scene from Monty Python, The life of Brian. If you have never seen it shame on you. Yes this is my.  Type of humour.

Launch- mental health inspiration

Launch- mental health inspiration

The other day I sat and watched Apollo 13 with my daughter, a film I have seen countless times, but for her the first. She asked me not long ago about role models, and I told her I chose those people who faced adversity with strength and resolve. I spoke to her about the Apollo 13 mission and how even under extreme conditions people can still ‘hold it together’, granted they were highly trained and skilled people.

Showing her the film though was more to show her how it was not just the astronauts, but all of the support staff on earth who came together to solve the problem. Hundreds of people all working together towards a common goal. I told her after, these are the people I would class as role models. People who studied hard, became passionate about their work, and most of all worked as a team.

To me, you can keep your celebrities and sports stars, they, with a few exceptions are just distractions from the millions of ordinary people who work hard for the betterment of others. I wish I was one of those people, I will be one day. I often ask myself, am I better off being average at a lot of things, or concentrate on excelling at one? In the case of the NASA scientists, engineers etc, they excel at their chosen field. I admire them for that, I can’t help but admire all people who manage to build and stick to one thing.

I sadly never know when I wake each day, who I will be, never mind what. I have constant doubt and hesitation, when you have a long history of poor decision making, making any decision becomes a dilemma. A struggle I know that faces many people of all ages. Maybe it is because there is so much in the world today, certainly more freedom to choose which career path you wish to follow.

I will be 44 on Sunday, I have mental health problems, I have lost what little threads of direction in my life. I do have my degree which I hope will channel me, I should be a certified hypnotherapist, but I just didn’t do the paperwork, why?? Not only did I spend a lot of money on the course, which I did do all the practical training, but I enjoyed it. I like to think I was even good at it, but like a lot of things, I never finished it.

I am a history of faded dreams, I close my eye and imagine those rockets launching into space, and I think to myself, “If we can put a man in space, surely you can do the housework”.

Peace and love

David

This blog post is inspired by The Daily Post, daily prompts

Finally someone listened

Finally someone listened

Today I had my three monthly review with my consultant psychiatrist, it was the first time I had seen this one, in fact I always seem to have a different one. This Doctor however took the time to review my notes, which were a mess according to him. My medication also baffled him, but when I explained that some was to control the epilepsy others my mental health he kind of got his head around it. Most importantly though he asked the magic question:

“Have you had a diagnosis?”

I explained, yet again, my history, symptoms and feelings, but no, I have no formal diagnosis. He seemed somewhat shocked that after over two years I was still undiagnosed. I told him that I had my own feeling, that I was either bipolar or borderline personality. Finally someone in the medical profession agreed that, in his words “it fits, and there is a lot of overlap between the two (he drew two overlapping circles and shaded the overlap), you may well be here” pointing the shaded area.

For those that follow my blog, you will know that I do not hold ‘labels’ in high regard, however, as a diagnosis of a condition they provide the first and best comfort,

I AM NOT MAKING ALL THIS UP

It may sound stupid to you but I sit here and I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders, even though I know that aside from seeing my psychiatrist, there is no chance of therapy. It is a good job that I am training to be a therapist, although it is much easier to help others than it is ones self. I can now concentrate on building a care plan for myself, using the reference material to help keep me on track. This is where the DSM5 and/or ICD10 are useful.

I have often written, learn to help yourself first, then you can help others. So I shall start, here, now, I am still not a ‘label’ or a statistic. I mentioned in a previous post about using my birthday as the start of a 365 day plan. A plan is forming in my head, as the A Team would say “I love it when a plan comes together”.

For now, peace and love to you all,

David

Why more than DSM5

Why more than DSM5

Hang on, I need to put the kettle on………

In five days and eight hours I will turn 44

Which is quite amazing, because I was sure I was 44 last year!, just in case, I was born in the year nineteen hundred and seventy-three, feel free to correct me if I am wrong. I always remember being different, the typical square peg trying to fit into the round hole of life. When I had my last breakdown I started getting interested in mental health, as many people do. The DSM5 was actually one of the first books I bought and I devoured it.

I actually remember having a conversation with a psychiatrist, well more of an argument, because I wanted a diagnosis, I wanted to know what was wrong with me. In fact I basically had made up my mind what was wrong with me, because I had read a book! My thinking was, if I know what pigeon-hole I fit in, then I can work out the best therapy to get out of it.

Two years have passed, I no longer care what label I may or may not have. In the past two years I have probably reviewed every form of therapy and I can honestly say that the DSM5 or the ICD10 have little bearing on the choice of therapy. So I call myself (my blog is an extension of me, that’s right your eyes are wandering over a bit of me, poor you) MoreThanDSM5. I am more than a bunch of symptoms, I am an individual, just because someone else acts similar does not mean we are the same.

The name has now come to mean even more to me, it means going beyond. Facing the fear of the next step, recovery. I know that a lot of mental illness cannot be cured, but in many ways, I believe, it can be managed. Recovery to me, means going from one state to a better state. Being cured means you are no longer ill.

Unfortunately changing your life in seven days is all but impossible, so how about I give myself a year. 365 days of change, and I have just five days to work out how and what I am going to do.

Peace and love

 

David

NB DSM5 stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
The trouble with alcohol and mental health

The trouble with alcohol and mental health

I finished off my last blog post quite abruptly as I went out and had a few pints. The whole post was looking at how easy it is for me to get distracted, alcohol seems to be one of the most devastating distractions. I have in the past drank to excess, a whole period of my 20’s is lost in the mist of poor decision making and covering my health problems with a veneer of alcoholic, and to be honest narcotic remedies.

I live in quite an isolated area, even though I live close to family, the epicentre of life revolves around the local golf club. I am even a member, though I seem to spend a lot more time there drinking than playing golf. This hurts me, if I am to be honest. I am so scared of drinking that I often avoid the place purely for that fact. This is a difficult post to write, mainly because it is forcing me to face how I deal with alcohol, and more so, why I drink.

When I drink I am intoxicated by the second pint, by intoxicated I mean that I feel the effects of drinking. Pint three is the tipping point (not the pint), once pint three has gone the thirst is upon me and I want more. To drag myself away at this point is very hard, I want more. Around 5 or 6 I am drunk, slurring, stumbling and the likes. The inhibitions are gone and I am free to talk and joke and basically not give a fcuk. Obviously some might say, well thats not exactly a lot to drink, which is true. However I do take a lot of powerful medication and I am not one for eating regular meals.

I try to follow a strict medication routine, my meds enable me to wobble the narrow line of being a competent person. They have been honed over time to keep me balanced, but when I drink not only does it feed of the medication. I also stop taking it once I have had a drink because I’m worried about the effects. I struggle the next day because of feeling the effects of the day before, and so my meds routine goes out of balance and so do I.

I know within myself that I should not drink, at all. Just say no, as the saying goes. I also know that I should eat healthy, and regularly. Knowing these things though, does not necessarily mean that it is easy to do. I do not wish to label myself as an alcoholic, at the risk of offending those that face a bigger problem with alcohol in their lives. I do however feel like one. Sitting here, using hindsight as my evidence, I honestly feel that alcohol needs to be cut from my life. No just taking it in moderation, having just a couple, it needs to be a complete stop.

If ever anyone needed to know the power of writing just for the sake of writing here it is.

Thank you all and may you know peace,

David

Clutter, clutter everywhere, what am I to do

Clutter, clutter everywhere, what am I to do

verb
  1. cover or fill (something) with an untidy collection of things.
    “the room was cluttered with his bric-a-brac”
    synonyms: litter, make untidy, make a mess of, mess up, throw into disorder, disarrange, jumble;More

noun
  1. a collection of things lying about in an untidy state.
    “the attic is full of clutter”
    (Thanks to the mighty Google for these nice definitions)

    In my post yesterday I discussed how hard it is some times for me to actually achieve something, even as basic as tidying a room. I have heard that it is a common problem for people suffering from mental health issues (as well as those with physical problems, here I would like to concentrate on mental health). The reason I wish to talk just about mental health can be summed up in one word;

    LAZY

    If you wish to find a word that drives me crazy it is LAZY, I am not lazy! I fight bloody hard every day, some days I can get things done, other days it is a fight just to get out of bed, but I do it. People look at me as if I should be in work, holding down a full time job and having a pristine house. I wish I could hold down a full time job (or any job for that matter) and have a pristine house. It is bloody hard trying to survive on benefits, especially when I used to bring in a nice comfortable wage……. I have digressed into a rant, maybe this should be saved for another post.

    Getting back to the topic of clutter, now I appreciate that I am a man who live on his own, and I am not the most tidy of person, even though I actually hate mess. Yes, it drives me up the wall, but no matter how hard I try it just never looks tidy. I do keep hold of things, because they may become useful, this drives my sisters crazy. And finally I have a dog and cat, who like nothing better than to leave bits of themselves all around the house. Oh, and a part time daughter (I only see here every other weekend and on Wednesdays), who leaves behind her a full time mess.

    Clutter = Lazy

    Suffering from mood swings as I do, it makes keeping things tidy hard. When I am down I can hardly face anything, which just adds to the depression. It is hard to explain to people why lying all day on the sofa is not lazy and loving it, but more a hive of self hatred that you can’t function like the excepted norm. Tell people that you lie there arguing with yourself, berating yourself, making yourself feel like a piece of crap, they think your bonkers, well, technically I am, that is why I am lying on the sofa. Why can’t they get it. I have now banned myself from the living room until evening and no TV until then as well, just in an effort to get me away from my nest.

    This has led to me relocating to the kitchen and swapping TV for blogging and forum surfing, but at least I am not curled up under my blanket hating myself. As I sit here at the kitchen table, I look around me at clutter, bits, bobs, things and stuff. Every surface is home to something, most of which probably have a home somewhere else. Below is a picture of my kitchen table as an illustration.

    IMG_4281

    The bits in the foreground, my ecig, liquid, coffee cup and to do list, acceptable. under my ‘to do’ list are my degree notes (they have a file). beyond you see my daughters wallet and Welsh dictionary (they should be in her room).

    The two white rolls are plastic wrap used last week for covering school books, I keep my spare stationary down the side of a cupboard not two meters away. The plastic bag should contain the hair removal tape sticky roll and be under the sink, I have no idea where the sticky roll is, and I only used it this morning! The bottle contains watered PVA used in an arty project several weekends ago, it has lived in that spot ever since. The tin is dog food that the dog refuses to eat, again homeless. Finally the tray and tub at the back are all the bits and bobs that were deemed homeless the last time I tidied the kitchen!!

    Right before I continue, I shall remedy this table……..

    Okay, 25 minutes later (yes, I am using BeFocusedPro) and half of the clutter from the table has been sorted, also a load of dishes have been done, the kitchen side wiped down and laundry taken out of the tumble dryer. A resounding success! Actually no, all I set out to do was clear the table, I even bored you to tears with where everything lived and yet I still managed to get side tracked.

    Distraction = Clutter?

    I have two states of thinking, absolute distraction or laser like focus, 99% of the time it is absolute distraction. I flit from one thing to another, whilst doing something I will see something else and go do that, leaving the first task unfinished. My entire life could be summed up as little piles of incompleteness, I don’t think I have ever finished something, certainly not to how I wanted it.

     

    I have to be honest at this point, alcohol, one of the biggest distractions of all has reared its ugly head. I will not type under the influence except to say that I shall explain more tomorrow

Thank you and be kind to each other

 

David