When faced with my demons I clothe them and feed them…

Archive for January, 2008

All is well…

In the last couple of days I tried the Emilia Project and the Expert Patients Programme. I realised that neither of them were for me. The Emilia was particularly disappointing because I really expected more from it. Basically it was just another special ‘service users’ course. I had an excruciating afternoon supposedly discovering something called the ‘strengths approach’. Felt very tense and frustrated all afternoon, unable to really contribute anything meaningful because, to me, the class itself had no meaning! Though having said that I guess I discovered something quite important. That I really have no need of being hived off into a ‘service users’ ghetto in order to be ’empowered’. The exact opposite of empowerment is what that does for me.

The teacher/trainer’s approach to ‘strengths’ was to pussyfoot around us all. ‘If you don’t feel you can say anything at all, that’s fine’. Etc etc. Then we were sat around in groups in order to help each other list our strengths. When the professor came around, asking us how we were getting on, I had to tell him the truth, but ended up feeling characterised as awkward rather than understood. Well, he did ask! I noticed that others, after some initial reluctance, did seem to get into it more as time went on. But not me. If this would ever have been any use to me, it might have been about fifteen years ago, when I was first diagnosed and at my worst, with the condition. It was bloody rehabilitation! Which I do not need!

I did strike up some camaraderie and shared subversive humour with some of the others. But I knew I wasn’t going to be going back. It was even more awkward because one of the trainer/teachers was someone I knew well and was friendly with.

So then today it was the Expert Patients, a self-management programme that originated in the States and is now over here. I had reservations about it but was withholding judgment until I tried it. After the Emilia debacle yesterday I was dreading a kind of repeat performance. Well it wasn’t the same thing at all, but for me it was equally useless. I have already written the letter to the administrator of the Programme explaining why I don’t want to pursue it any further. It so wasn’t me. Picture this, gentle reader! The facilitator tells us ‘do as your doctor says and take your medication’. I kid you not! And I’m thinking, dream on, honey. I’m outta here! The thing is, the title really does say it all. But I ain’t anyone’s patient! Expert or otherwise!

So. perhaps, in their way, a couple of productive days. Discovering what I in no way, shape or form, am interested in doing! Back to the drawing board, back to looking for a job I guess. The Emilia was supposed to be helping us with that but it’s pitched at such a low level it would be more of a hindrance. What I do know is, I am not ill any more. I am confident, capable and competent. I’m flexible, a great learner and have good skills which I’m building on all the time. I’m ready to work!

I think I may try working one day at the library (voluntary), one day at MIND and one day at HAVCO. That way I won’t get bored and may get some insight into which I prefer. Well, we’ll see. Take care all! Love, Zoe.

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Very happy.

Just had another lovely weekend with Richard. I guess things HAVE changed between us. I now realise that, though I sometimes didn’t believe he was changing or interested in doing so, he actually is. Not necessarily in precise ways that I envisaged but I have conclusive proof that he DOES learn from his mistakes etc. We had a bad row in the week, and it could have been a virtual replay of what happened in the autumn when we broke up for two months, but we both reacted differently. That was very reassuring. And the fact that he showed his feelings for me… That was what I needed from him more than anything. Just to know he really cared and was prepared to go the extra mile for our relationship.

We’ve had some lovely happy times since we’ve been back together. Very close and loving. I’ll just add the slight caveat that I am not sure how much my mood is influencing my perceptions. But it might be being back with Richard that has made me feel better.

Got a busy week to come…I supposedly start my voluntary work at MIND tomorrow. I haven’t even started and am already thinking about putting it on hold, because of the other things I’m taking on…something called the Emilia Project which is really hard to explain, so I’ve added their website to my link list, as well as Expert Patients Program.

Oh and my J called yesterday, so really what more could I ask for? He was fine, quite happy and chatty. Very sweet and affectionate. Take care all! Love, Zoe.

Buddhist monk on the World Service…

Hi dear people. ‘The happiest man in the world’ is being interviewed on the BBC…he’s the Dalai Lama’s French translator: he gave up a privileged life in Paris and so on. Mathieu Ricard is his name. He chats animatedly about meditation and finding contentment and peace within. He has something of the Dalai Lama’s ebullience about him.

Had a chat with my Mum today. She was telling me about her philosophy discussion group: they were discussing Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’ and she told me about the ‘militant’ and ‘resentful’ atheists present, who seemed uncomfortable with anyone else having any beliefs! I felt a connection with her over this. She was brought up strictly Catholic, mostly in boarding schools run by nuns, and turned her back on that form of religion when she was 22. Yet she is not at all militant about it. It hasn’t closed her mind to all spirituality and religious faith. It was really good to talk to her today. Something I need to record, for all the other times when I can be irritable with her verging on mean.

I would have liked to be able to give her news of J but as he still hasn’t phoned (only the answerphone message last week) I can’t. However I did try to be reassuring about him. ‘He’s probably just going through a phase’. I believe it…most of the time.

Richard and I had a lovely weekend together. We got on really well. His presence is calming and comforting somehow. We didn’t do much. Went to the Farmers’ Market, and I made beetroot coconut and lime soup which he loved…he pronounced it ‘probably the best soup I’ve ever had!’ Praise indeed! Good old Leith’s Vegetarian Bible.

Mood definitely more down-to-earth. Take care all…lots of love, Zoe.

Update…

Hi. I’ve been a remiss blogger… and been busy. Need to check in though. Moods have largely been settling down though there’s still been some turbulence, but of a lesser degree than before. Energy levels have been pretty good most of the time though sometimes I get very tired by the evening. I wanted to go to the Buddhist Centre on Wednesday or Friday but just couldn’t make it.

Am juggling a lot of different projects at the moment and sometimes I think maybe it’s just too much. There’s little or no space in my diary for unforeseen eventualities. Work on Tuesday and Thursday was quite enjoyable. On the Thursday I had to make a ton of phone calls to ‘our’ organisations to tell them about an event ‘we’ are holding the following week. There was another volunteer doing the same thing and it made it quite fun. All the more so because for me, picking up the phone is a little challenging at the best of times. Let alone to call about fifty strangers!

Have kept up with the rest of my routine…OA, yoga, meditation, the gym. Food has not been brilliant as I’ve noticed that since I began experiencing mood turbulence I also started to feel a little messy and uncontrolled around my eating. I used to have a real weakness for sweet things and thought giving up sugar would knock that on the head, but sweet things with xylitol or agave syrup in them seem to have a similar addictive effect and certainly don’t taste much different. I’m going to have to cut down on desserts of any kind, even healthy sugar-free ones.

Richard is here and I’m off to cook dinner. Love, Zoe.

Seem to be stabilising…

…At least I hope so. I am maybe a little melancholy the last few days, a very pale, washed-out shade of blue. New Year blues maybe…the party season is over, now we’ve got to knuckle down to work, etc without the pretty lights and hyped-up goodwill! Reality bites! Usually I just heave one big sigh of relief when it’s all over to be honest, but this year was different…my mood went a bit high just as the collective one was becoming manically festive, I actually felt really Christmassy! Then Richard and I got back together just in time for Christmas…that was really nice. He was with me all this weekend, and was very sweet and attentive. We went for a long walk yesterday, all the way to Highgate Village via the woods.

Today we went to the farmers’ market, then raked the leaves out of the front garden. I made spicy lentils with potatoes for lunch, then he went off home and I went to the gym. I’m glad the routine starts again this week. Holidays are OK but at times I was slightly at a loose end.

I’m slightly uninspired as to what to write, that’s the mood…not sad enough to wax lyrical about it, just a little flat and depleted. I had been a bit worried that being med-free was going to prove unworkable. But I need to give it time. As I said before, this level of mood disturbance is more inconvenient and annoying than dangerous. I am menopausal too, that might account for some of it. Take care all! Love, Zoe.

Still swinging along…

Today I was a bit low. My mood swings are not out of control, not off the scale, but still capable of being bloody annoying! I cheered up in the evening after going out to the West End, to my Dual Recovery group and shopping…found some super-duper bargain boots in Clark’s sale!

J my son is apparently refusing to call me at the moment. I was expecting a call at the weekend… Maybe he wants to enjoy his holiday without having to fulfil his ‘duties’ or ‘obligations’. To be honest, mostly that is how he sees it. He calls me because it is expected, not from spontaneous desire to talk to me. I can tell from the nature of our chats. I usually have to hold up more than half the conversation. Well, he’s 12. I need to not awfulize the situation, jumping to the conclusion that this temporary situation will necessarily become permanent. The last time I talked to him, Monday 17th December, we had a nice chat and he was in a good mood. That’s something.

Tomorrow I must get up and do my yoga, meditation and prayer, no questions asked. Love, Zoe.

New Year’s Day!

Richard stayed the night so we saw in the New Year together. Unfortunately we managed to launch into a row just as midnight was approaching! I ended up shouting myself hoarse and then beating a hasty retreat to the spare room rather than let the situation get any more volatile. It wasn’t the most auspicious way to enter a New Year but I’m not superstitious about what is basically just another day.

It was hard adjusting to being back. This has become quite a familiar experience for me even when I’m just returning from a holiday. However, factor in my mood turbulence which kicked in about a month ago. Though in a funny way it is reassuring to know that the bipolar tendency hasn’t vanished completely as a result of my lifestyle changes, (imagine if all it turned out to be was an allergy to sugar or sensitivity to caffeine! Wouldn’t I be hopping mad?) my moods have intruded into my life and decisions I have made over that time, no question.

It was a mood crash last night that probably caused the row I had with Richard. I had a bit of a low day, felt better in the evening when he came round, but then started to feel insecure and emotionally incontinent again after we went to bed. The contact with J and my Mum didn’t go well, largely due to my moodswing. It was in the throes of hypomania that I decided I had to have Richard back! My libido completely went into overdrive and all I could think about was the good times.

Not that I’m saying I regret going back with Richard. I’m just saying, who knows how things would have panned out if I hadn’t got a bit high, and written that letter and then asked him to meet me? But that would have required me to be a different person. Someone who maintains an equilibrium, maybe…and who doesn’t know what it is to be desperate for sex!

This is all a bit analytical and I hope my dear readers are not getting impatient with me. But that’s the nature of the beast, this blog, I guess. To monitor myself, record what happens, see how my life changes as a result of being med-free. It’s by no means a foregone conclusion that I manage to stay med-free. But I will certainly be giving it my very best shot.

Gianna mentioned stuff about connecting with passionate and romantic feelings again as a result of the withdrawal. Well I can certainly relate to that, though in my case being on HRT might have done something for the flagging libido. Certainly taking shedloads of nutritional supplements and sticking to a wholefood, sugar and caffeine-free diet probably has all helped. Thinks: was it that 5 types of Ginseng tablet I was taking? Not to mention exercising in a disciplined way, losing fat and gaining muscle…that definitely makes me feel more attractive.

Anyway, when I awoke this morning I did get back into the conjugal bed and somehow from that point on everything was just fine. We had a lovely day…played some music, sang a few songs, went for a walk. He’s gone home now.

In the bad old days before becoming very proactive at self-management such a mood fluctuation as I have had in the last month would have likely finished with me being sectioned (forcibly admitted to hospital), or at the very least having to be supervised in the community. There is a world of difference between this and that. That’s the hopeful and optimistic thought I want to hold on to at this threshold of a fresh new year. Happy New Year to each and every one of you dear readers…may you be well and happy and may you progress! Love, Zoe.