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

A normal day for some

A normal day for some

happy-wedneasday-2

Considering I was up until gone 2 this morning, I awoke bright and fresh ready to seize the day. Wonderful you may thing, good for you! All though is not as it seems, the black cloud is just there on the horizon, the mind full of the zapping negative thoughts. I am trying to push them back, I have my mental fly swatter at hand. In these times I try to keep busy, and when you live life in constant chaos there is plenty to do, normally just shuffling one lot of crap from one corner of the house to another.

Let us not dwell on the negative here, I have a plan to be both productive and calm. It involves a little app and a bit of hypnosis, that’s right I shall endeavour to turn myself into a chicken! No, seriously having studied hypnotherapy I see a very powerful tool, I have recorded a small ten minute relaxation and motivation script and will use the BeFocusedPro app (IOS). The app will give me 25 minute windows for being productive, interspersed with 10 minute breaks, (when I shall listen to my script). Lets see how it works, the time is now 11am and on a scale of 1-10 my motivation level is about 6.

12:03

Okay I have done two sessions of 25 minutes each, however I just sat down for the 10 minute break. Motivation level now about 3, just want to sit and have a nap. Even clock watching till meds time which is something I rarely do. Would help if dog wasn’t being a pain in the arse like he normally is when I ‘do housework’, I emphasis this because I have a nasty habit of letting things build up and then attack it with all the effort I can muster.

Having started several chores around the house (none of which completely finished), I need to go out and run some errands (I do like that term, much better than saying i’m going to the shop). Before I go I shall listen to my 10 minute relaxing motivation recording, lets see if I can motivate a bit.

14:10

Okay, I listened to my script (yes, I recorded it myself) and I did manage to relax (I was sat down), once it finished I went out and ran some errands, I came back and continued fighting with the housework. Motivation level right now is about 4-5, I don’t want to do any more but in my head my own words are pushing me on. Going to have another listen now ………

14:55

Well I managed another productive 25 minutes, though I will admit that I got slightly distracted towards the end, but when you move things and find something you have been looking for it does brighten your day. I must say that I am a bit of a hoarder, in the way that I loath throwing things away as they might come in useful. I have tubs of old cables and other assorted electronic items that ‘one day will be used’. I could write a whole blog post on clutter (makes a note) but suffice to say that it does make life difficult.

My motivation level now is pretty good, shall I say a 6 or maybe even a 7, I see the end in sight of sorting the living room. Just to clarify, I am doing a clean my mum would have been proud of, moving furniture and even using polish! (although I think she would despair at the time it has taken me). Anyway, the final push, I have no need for relaxation-motivation, I can do this…..

16:35

I did it, the living room now looks tidy enough, that should I ever have visitors I would be happy for them to actually enter the house. I shall not go into how the rest of the house looks but I am at least happy with my efforts. Did the 10 minute relaxation-motivation help, well, I think it did, however I recorded it and I believe in it so I would say that would I not? Truth be told, if I didn’t find any benefit from it I would not have bothered. To most people, this must be the most boring blog post ever, for that I apologise. For a few though, those who struggle with even simple tasks, maybe it will give them strength in the knowledge that they are not odd, not pathetic, not lazy. In fact it is hard to get across to some people just how difficult it can be to do simple things.

Comments and discussion welcome, providing it is positive and constructive.

Have a pleasant day

David

 

The problem of direction

The problem of direction

Confusing Directional Signs

 

I find myself at that point where I desire to go back to work. It has been two years since my breakdown, two long years. I have learned a lot about myself in this time. Unfortunately I have learned that I am unable to trust my own judgement. At 44 years of age I am still undecided what it is that I wish to do with my life. I am scared after so many stupid decisions the trend will continue.

It is quite an existential problem working out your place in life, the more I think the more philosophical the answers become. When I first had my breakdown I threw myself into trying to support and help others, this proved to be just as damaging as the breakdown itself, though over a longer period. I surrounded myself with mental illness, I guess I lived it, not only through myself but through others. To know that you are not alone is helpful, however, in hindsight, I guess I should have been more selfish, more orientated to my own wellbeing.

I spent a large sum of money on a course to learn cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy, I believed in it, I still do, to a point. Like many things though I did not see it through. Self doubt crept in, maybe it was always there, maybe I was just setting myself up for another fall. Whatever the reason I still was left feeling a failure. Whilst I have achieved much in my life, I do not think I finished anything. So many open pathways left to become overgrown. Almost every day I have different ideas about what I should do, this causes a lot of confusion and despondency, then nothing gets done.

I try every day to do things, I even have an app on my phone with a list of things that need to be done, even down to brushing teeth and eating breakfast. Where I want organisation I find chaos, I find even keeping the house tidy almost impossible, there is only myself, a dog and a cat! I even have to have alarms set to remind me to take my medication, I guess I am painting a pretty feeble picture. When I look at this, my current lifestyle, I wonder, “can I work?”. I fear my reliability, some days are better than others, however I don’t think I have gone a week where I could say I was reliable.

I tried looking for work to do from home, seems there is not very much call for people who are good with spreadsheets, and data analysis is all I am really good at. If life was one big spreadsheet I would be sorted, I would no longer have any worries. Alas it is not to be, I shall have to find another direction, the problem is, which direction do I go?