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

Archive for July, 2008

Mental Illness Impacts on Relationships Part 47

Hi all. Things have been a bit all-over-the-place for me emotionally over the last week. Even by my standards! I decided to go and stay with my Mum at the weekend, in my wisdom. It was a scorcher – she lives near the coast – seemed like a no-brainer. Why can’t things ever just be that simple?

The first 24 hours were fine enough. We chatted lots, went to the beach, went swimming in the sea. Then we went for an Indian meal. I don’t know why but my mood plummeted into my boots around the time we had the meal. Maybe it was partly the situation…eating a meal alone with my mother on a Saturday night. Feeling like a useless, washed-up failure with a history of broken and discarded relationships and an empty life.

Anyway we had been going to see a film but I had to cry off that and got an early night. The next day I was struggling again with my mood…until I exploded with anger and resentment at my Mum. It was a broiling hot afternoon, even near the coast, and we went for a hellish drive and an even more hellish walk, arguing as we went, both now really upset and saying a lot of stuff we didn’t mean and maybe some we did.

This is unfortunately a pattern. I now rarely go to see my Mum or if I do I only spend one night or just an afternoon. It’s the same when she comes here, sometimes even worse because I feel territorial, as if she is invading my space.

I am naturally ashamed of my behaviour. Depression doesn’t make me dignified, silent, poetic or melancholy. It is so raw and painful I frequently cannot contain myself from exploding with irritation or lashing out with anger. The excruciating guilt, shame and remorse follow close behind.

I spoke to my Mum on the phone today and we smoothed things over. We were both quite devastated by the argument. With all the ambivalence, the history and strain there can be between us I know that she loves me to the best of her ability. She suffers, seeing me suffer. That is the bottom line. That is why the relationship has been strained to breaking point, but has never broken.

I am not over this depressive episode. It’s a time thing. As I tried to explain to my Mum (who does not really understand depression first-hand) the best way to recover from depression is to recover from depression. Only when you start to recover can you start doing all those things again that give you a sense of self-worth and build you up physically, mentally, spiritually. When you are in the full throes of an acute phase you often can’t do more than keep breathing.

Anger in depression can be a dangerous thing if it drives you to alienate the people who are closest to you. I have been in serious danger of doing just that. But I went to my CBT session today, and that is definitely starting to make more sense. The rapport with the therapist is building too. Then this evening I went to a marvellous OA (Overeaters Anonymous) meeting. Relationships are powerful things. Scary, yes. Terrifying, sometimes. But I know I need them…

Lovely to be here at WordPress by the way, and lovely to be able to read my ‘stats’ and comments and know that I’m not nattering away to an empty room! Love you … Zoe.

First post at my Bright New Shiny Blog!

Hello everyone.

First a big welcome. Please update your links to me on your blogrolls, though of course I have left a link at Blogspot redirecting people here.

First I did promise to update you about Bonkersfest. Well might I suggest you pay a visit to Mental Patient About Town as he has given a good account and also thoughtfully provided some pics!

There’s a whole ‘scene’ in London which as far as I know is pretty unique, although I can’t be sure. It used to be known as ‘Survivor’s Poetry’, but that also seemed to cover music. It is a sort of blend of politicised madness as in Mad Pride and Survivors [of the psychiatric system] Speak Out and a kind of bohemian underground scene which could really only thrive in an enormous city like London.

There are regular gigs at various venues around the city, where you usually get some headlining acts plus a lot of ‘spot’ performances from various poets and other artists. I would have to say honestly that the results can be a bit patchy and shambolic at times but then your patience will be rewarded by hearing an absolute gem.

The whole ethos is quite ‘punk’ I guess…the emphasis being that pretty much everyone who has been through the mental health system has something valuable to say. Audiences consisting largely of ‘the converted’ (and other performers) tend to be quite supportive and give everyone a clap regardless of how intelligible they were, just for having the bottle to get up there! And maybe that’s about right. It does take bottle! More than I’ve got for sure!

If it’s a shambles sometimes maybe that’s a part of it’s charm. We’re all too used to slick professionalism. Anyway I think these gigs and the Bonkersfest definitely contribute something to the sum of human happiness and do very little harm. I’m aware that sounds a little patronising. Put it this way, I want to support them but my sceptical mind tends to get in the way.

Anyway it was an enjoyable day on Camberwell Green ‘celebrating madness, creativity and eccentricity’. According to the programme, after last year’s event MindFreedom International acknowledged Bonkersfest as ‘the biggest grassroots mad-run public arts event in the world’, so I guess that is an achievement. I wanted to visit the ‘Denormalisation Tent’ which sounded like a great concept but was disappointed on that score as so did everyone else including a couple of film crews!

One last quote: ‘Bonkersfest is a celebration of the creativity of mad people, and pride in our unique way of looking at life, our internal world externalised and shared with others without shame, as a valid way of life. Bonkersfest is challenging the idea that madness is something to be hidden; it realises that visibility counts in order to break the stigma that has a stranglehold over every single mad person alive today. Bonkersfest is saying ‘yes,yes’ to life even if it embarrasses the ‘normals’.’

Anyway what do you think? Love, Zoe.

Making bloggie friends.

Hi peeps. It is always nice when I get…out of the blue…an unexpected comment, and then take a little virtual trip over to their corner of Blogland and have a nose around. It has only dawned on me relatively recently that the best way to get your blog read is, first to link to other people as much as poss, both in the text and in the blogroll (frankly I still don’t quite understand how they manage to link back to you but they do), second to read other people’s blogs and comment, comment, comment.

You can lurk as much and as admiringly as you like around other people’s blogs but you will only count as a faceless ‘stat’ unless you establish a presence there by commenting, if possible, on a regular basis. It helps if the blogs you go to are based around the same ‘niche’ or area of interest as your own, because in this way you become a part of an online community; become known to the other bloggers and regular commenters within it and get a feel for who among them particularly interests you.

As I’ve always said I am still very much a novice at the art of blogging. I am quite in awe of the many, brilliant young women bloggers there are… Dumped by a Hallucination and her many cohorts for instance but they have essentially grown up in a different world to the one I did. But I am loving the learning process, I have to say, and if I still have few comments, the kind Zania has helped me to understand that it is not necessarily a direct reflection on my general rubbishness.

It is true that it is indeed difficult to know what to say to someone who is going through extreme mental distress: that is one factor that might influence a lack of comments on depression blogs in general. But in my case there are other factors at work as well. I do need to be more blog-sociable, cross-reference more, link more, comment more, and as for the world of tagging and key words, that is still a complete mystery to me, but I’m confident I will get there in the end!

But the essential thing to remember in all this is that I love blogging. I blog because I thoroughly enjoy it, because I think the Internet in general and blogging in particular is one of the very best things about living in these times, and we might as make the most of it. I don’t blog entirely in the hope of having an appreciative audience, although naturally, that would greatly add to the satisfaction. I blog for the sheer joy of blogging and because now I’ve started, I really, really don’t want to stop.

Take care all!

Still out for the count

I’ve been ill with the flu and more or less out of action all week, any plans scuppered. Am hoping to get to Bonkersfest on Saturday, at Camberwell Green, South London, though. Anyway I’ve been interwebbing away today, hardly commenting or writing anything, just reading and imbibing others’ wisdom. Been at SF Jane’s for the last couple of hours, she is really something else. I am impressed by her to the point of paralysis. She is so alive, so intelligent and articulate. And the way she delivers the videos as well as the writing. And her story. OK, I’m just gushing now.

It may be partly the depression but I don’t have a lot of self-confidence or esteem right now. I don’t rate my abilities highly. I feel a little bit brain dead. Reading a lot of other people’s blogs is good but there comes a point where I need to start doing something myself. Finding a way to frame my own thoughts.

I am still gutted that I had to go back on meds because I had a recurrence of mania. I suppose I felt that I would have to stay on them forever and that meant giving up hope of recovering by other means.

You know what? I don’t know any of this. I don’t know what the future holds. I feel too confused, ill and fog-brained right now to come to any clear conclusions. For me God or a Higher Power seems to be something I need in my life to have any sense of security, peace or equanimity. Chaos and mental torment have ravaged me of late. I still don’t have my feet on solid ground.

Take care though…

Happier…but full of cold.

Hi peeps. The OA Convention was an absolute blast. I enjoyed every minute. We were staying in the Birmingham Hilton, near the NEC, and there was a beautiful pool, sauna, steam room and gym which I took advantage of. A very uplifting gathering of the OA brethren, with lots of great meetings and speakers, telling us their stories and sharing their ‘experience, strength and hope’. There was even a disco and karaoke on the Saturday, and would you believe this, I got up and danced! It’s ages since I hit a dance floor and I remembered how much I enjoy it, even though most of the music was pretty cheesy.

The company of my friends was most enjoyable, and I managed to take a few quiet walks around the lake and do a bit of communing with nature too.

Was that ever what I needed!

However the air con was pretty fierce in the meeting rooms and I managed to catch a bug, my throat is sore, I’m all croaky, nose streaming and had to cry off work today. Knackered too.

But just after I had breakfast this morning my lovely son called. First time he has rung for ages. We had a nice chat. So that cheered me up hugely. And if I had gone to work as normal I would have missed the call. Ah well.

Lots of love, Zoe.

Hello sadness my old friend…

Actually I feel a little more human today. Managed to get myself to work (thank God for work). Found that Seaneen had linked to my blog, so was happy about that. I do most of my blog reading and writing when I’m here. Anyone who hasn’t already visited Pole to Polar I would recommend it as absolutely unmissable for anyone of a ‘mentally interesting’ persuasion. It’s always my first port of call when I’ve been away from the ‘Madosphere’ for a few days.

Tomorrow I am going to Birmingham, to the Overeaters Anonymous Convention which is held in the Hilton Hotel. Driving up there with two friends from my local group. I was dreading it earlier in the week and wondering if I should give it a miss. So depressed and socially phobic it could be a real ordeal. But now I feel a bit better and I am far too mean to miss out: I’ve booked and paid, I won’t get any of the money back if I don’t go. Damn it, if the worst comes to the worst I will simply hole myself up in my room with a good book for the duration.

Have just finished ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ by Mohsin Hamid, and started ‘This Book Could Save Your Life’ by A.M. Homes. Reading is one thing that is, mercifully, working for me at the moment. I need to feel the same way about housework now, and have a load of my son’s old toys and games to unload onto a charity shop. At the moment they are sitting in the spare room and causing me distress every time I walk past to the airing cupboard.

Going to Dual Recovery Anonymous tonight. That usually does me a power of good. Twelve-step fellowships for people with mental health problems: there are plenty of arguments for and against. But the most useful thing about the meetings is simply being able to share openly and honestly without the need to hold back or feel in danger of being stigmatised or marginalised. In other words, it’s peer support. We don’t tend to bang on about the virtues of ‘the Program’ or working the Twelve Steps. Most of us are pretty much in a perpetual survival mode.

Thinking about going back to Manic Depression Fellowship Support Group meetings after a few years staying away. It would not surprise me if the name has changed since I was last involved.

I know this post is dull and lacklustre. It’s how I feel. But I have to blog while I have the strength in my fingertips, as most of the time I don’t really want to go near a computer right now. Love, Zoe.

Depression, anger and general fall-out.

At work. Had a mixed weekend with some very difficult moments. Richard came over and I found myself struggling with big-time anger, resentment, hostility and so on. He did stay, for two nights in the end, and we watched the INCREDIBLE Men’s Final at Wimbledon. We both calmed down. But I still feel fairly wrung out and exhausted from it all.

It’s pissing down with rain today, which I usually find quite therapeutic. Being at work has helped me to feel more human, but I am still really wrestling with a sense of being sub-human, worthless, defective and so on. I also feel like an outsider everywhere I go. When I am well and reasonably positive I don’t particularly aspire to having all the conventional trappings. (Marriage, kids, career). When I am like this I haven’t the confidence to accept my difference. I am just full of the most painful envy towards others (even close friends) for what I perceive I lack.

It’s horribly painful. I’m back at home now and have to deal with that too. But I’ll get there. I’ve been reading Sally Clay’s articles on her website (link on my blogroll) and drawing a lot of strength from that. There’s a woman who’s really and truly been there! More soon…Love, Zoe.