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

Archive for February, 2009

You’ve Got A Lotta Nerve…

Like Humpty Dumpty, I got put back together over the course of yesterday. Paul is history. No, he’s toast. My friend J was most instrumental of anyone in helping me over it. I went to his flat, sat on his sofa, looked at his beautiful collection of artefacts from various eastern religions and talked and talked.

He did not interject. He did not ask questions. He did not intervene. He just sat and listened. He did me more good than any therapist I’ve ever been to.  I guess this is because he knows me really, really well. While I was in hospital I compulsively sent texts to all my friends. J was the only one who unfailingly texted me back. Often he is the one to text me first.

He sends enigmatic, witty, hilarious, poetic and slightly off-key texts by turns. Sometimes I would sigh a little when I received yet another text, wanting it to be from someone else but then finding it was from him. I’ve changed though. I used to find J quite heavy going. When I was trying so hard to be positive and fighting my own negativity he seemed overwhelmingly pessimistic. I now feel completely different. I appreciate J for who he is and wouldn’t have him any other way.

I have another friend, a young woman in her late twenties called A. Today we exchanged a number of texts before she invited me round to her flat. I’ve never been there before. She rarely invites anyone there. She is quite paranoid and like me, is not long out of the hospital. We bonded with each other when we were both in the Crisis Unit. I found her very demanding at that time and was slightly dreading seeing her today as I was feeling rather drained.

However I came away fom her place today feeling quite honoured to have been asked round. She is an amazing person. I believe she is very powerfully psychic. She managed to freak me out a fair bit but kind of in a good way. I told her she was quite possibly the strangest person I have ever met. I meant it too. And I’ve met some oddballs in my time.

I spoke to my Mum on the phone for an hour today. Our relationship has changed too. You know that awful expression officey types like to use about ‘singing from the same hymn sheet?’ Ghastly isn’t it? Sorry to have mentioned it. But after years of singing dodgy off-key harmonies, my Mum and I are finally getting it together. We’ll be round at your gaff carol singing some Xmas soon…forewarned is forearmed and all that…

I also tried to help a lovely, talented, wonderful friend and neighbour, J, to sort out her head. I know that until she exorcises her own personal demons we will not be able to really enjoy each others’ company. The phone call and the texts left me feeling pretty drained but I knew I had tried my best.

I didn’t have time to blog after all these shenanigans. My Mum would seemingly have been happy to go on chatting at least another hour. Then I went to a really good art class at the local day centre. The prolific texter J is also a very talented artist and was my main reason for going. I managed to draw some wiggly shapes and colour them in. He thinks I’m talented which is encouraging, but I just get mildly irritated by the messy pastels getting under my fingernails.

R my partner was struck down by a knackered attack this afternoon. I wondered if he would make it over here at all at one point. But in the end he had some lentil stew made by his ex wife from a recipe by Gillian McKeith. That seemed to put enough lead in his pencil to get him on his bike and over here where he proceeded to do loads of work on the computer.

I forgot to buy the Saturday Guardian which departs from our usual routine, but it’s probably as well. It would just have irritated me. I was mildly pleased to note that Ireland beat England at rugby, while Richard was mildly disappointed. Out of the two of us, he’s the patriot.

Bob Dylan is currently expressing his ‘Other Side’ on the stereo. He has just declaimed ‘I’ve got a million friends’. I know how he feels…

But Paul isn’t one of them. In fact next time I play Bob’s ‘Positively 4th Street’, where he lays into every insincere so-called friend who ever wanted to see you ‘paralysed’, I will be thinking of him.

But not of any of you, folks. Thanks for reading my off the wall garbage. Love, Zoe.

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Aborted Friendship…

Oh dear. Yesterday was a difficult day for me, for my best female friend and my partner. For different reasons. Their stuff is their stuff and is not my business to share on my blog. I will just share what happened to me.

Well I guess I wasn’t in the best of moods after WordPress decided to mess with my head by swallowing two paragraphs of the last blog entry.  It also squashed the text together and turned it green. R got on the case last night and sorted most of it but not the lost text. OK that is hardly a catastrophe of world-shattering proportions, agreed.

Then I met my friend S for coffee and new mate Paul turns up unexpectedly and unannounced. Which was kind of OK because S knows and likes him.

But the next bit was more problematic. At 6 in the evening I was meeting my best female friend A and another friend, J, in an Italian restaurant in Muswell Hill. The three of us have been meeting for coffees for ages pretty regularly. I was stunned when Paul showed up  plonked himself down opposite me and ordered a glass of wine! My friend A doesn’t even know him and J has met him only once.

Y’know what? I would find all of this easier to understand if his diagnosis was manic depression. Although to the best of my knowledge I have never behaved quite as insensitively as this or been such a right royal pain even at the height of mania. My long-suffering partner R might beg to differ.

It was just plain embarrassing and I was beginning to feel resentful. Then as is his wont he began to zero in on my friend A. Something he said annoyed me and I intervened. He took his glass of wine and just disappeared. Can’t say ‘he stomped off’ or anything like that. He was like a small fly. He just seemed to de-materialise. Up his own ass or something.

This caused us problems later on with the waitress telling us it’s against the law to order alcohol without food. She went on and on about it. I didn’t even understand why it was such an issue. We never used to go to this place, just to a cafe for coffee or tea, and A is the only one who eats there but this particular evening she didn’t. So potentially this idiot/maniac could have soured her relations with the restaurant.

Anyway, A told us all about her appalling day which also involved my bloke. I came away feeling well stressed out. It wasn’t so much her stuff, it was the encounter with Paul.

I spoke on the phone to R about the day he’d had when I got home. It was pretty nasty but he managed to retain a sense of perspective. No one had actually died…or even been physically hurt. It’s a work-related issue.

After that I was just fit for nothing. Because I’m on Seroquel at night I sleep at least one or two hours extra in the morning. So I decided to zonk myself out completely by taking a Clonazepam with the Seroquel, before 9pm. There was just no point in being awake any more! I certainly couldn’t face going back on the blog again and R was trying to sort that out anyway.

Then this morning, the nasty texts. Blaming me. Saying I need to live in the real world. Saying goodbye. Friendship aborted before it even had time to gestate…

What was all that about folks?

If I hadn’t liked the guy and valued his company, taking his offer of friendship at face value, if I hadn’t connected with him at quite a deep level – or so I thought – I would not feel so hurt and upset. Hmm so much for being a human robot eh?

But his actions in themselves demonstrate clearly that he cannot be serious about the friendship. Friendship is a delicate flower that needs space, time and RESPECT to germinate and begin to grow. He wasn’t prepared to give me that. Butting in on my friendships wth others demonstrates that.

R and others said maybe he just fancied you. But I didn’t ‘get’ that from him. If anything he was far too far up his own ass to fancy anyone else.

Anyway, the Home Treatment Team just came round. Two ex-psych nurses who know me and listened sympathetically to my tale of woe. Made supportive and constructive suggestions. I do feel a little better now. Who’d have thought they could have been so helpful.

And it’s a beautiful sunny day. R texted me saying he was glad to be able to ‘fix’ something last night after the diabolical day he’d had. I try to remind myself of all the good things and people I do have in my life and how, in many ways, I’m blessed.

Thanks for reading honeys. I am now quite addicted to blogging so rest assured you will hear from me again very soon. And this too will bloody pass… Lots of love, Zoe.

Big questions and slightly smaller answers….

To answer my own perpetual question, Am I Still Ill? maybe this is less an illness and more a state of sensitivity to the chaotic, mad world we find ourselves in. What you thinkin’ guys? I can’t help noticing there’s a number of us even just here on the Madosphere and also among my Real Life acquaintance who find ourselves with a nagging sense of What the feck is going on here?

C’mon guys, look how many amazing, talented, highly intelligent folks we got on this Madosphere of ours. And look how, when it comes down to it, we’re all asking the same basic questions. We all have our different, unique ways of asking and answering. There are no clones here! We’re finding our own coping mechanisms, and sometimes we are so immersed in the struggle to keep breathing that all we really get on the blogs is a prolonged yelp of pain. There is a missing piece of text here: am currently trying to retrieve it…Yes, these women, along with many others both on my blogroll and in real life are heroines and mentors to me. They are where I need to be myself. I recognise my own realised potential in what they are already doing.

This time around there was a qualitative difference to my manic episode. Now, in the supposed downswing, I see and feel how I have changed. Instead of plummetting down into the depths yet again I sense a level of awareness in myself that is altogether new.
It is time to stop trying so bloody hard to be something I’m not. Time to accept and even f****** celebrate who I actually am. One thing I will say that you may or may not relate to.

Freedom of choice has never been a positive thing for me. All that did was overwhelm me. How was I supposed to make a decision about who or what to be?

I want to KNOW what I am supposed to do at any given time. I want to regain all the energy I used to expend on worrying about whether I made the right f****** decision or not. I want to hold my head high, be graceful and confident, and, as the film title goes just Do The Right Thing.

I’m fully aware that some people might find this a little strange. I even talked to my friend Paul about wanting to become a human robot. He didn’t understand. Don’t we all go on a lot in the Western world about freedom? Ain’t choice, more and more of it, supposed to be some kind of Holy Grail?

I speak for no-one but myself when I say, in words from yet another song lyric (by Talk Talk), you can take my freedom. If freedom equals ever more choices I no longer have any use for it.

Annoyingly, WordPress has decided it prefers this blog entry in snot-green lettering and all shoved together with collapsed paragraphs. I can only apologise until I can get my geeky boyfriend onto the case! Lots of love, Zoe.

DRA, Ward Round and Total Futility…

Hi there. Yesterday I managed to get to my Dual Recovery Anonymous meeting at lunchtime. There was a good turnout and a sprinkling of new faces, good to see. I felt I could have ‘shared’ for half an hour rather than four minutes though. It’s been so long since I got to a meeting and I had to race through an update, bearing in mind that newcomers would know nothing about me.

As always it was also very helpful to hear what others had to say. One particular friend wept as she described the gross mistreatment and frank unprofessionalism she was currently receiving from assorted mental health professionals. Many of us frequently spontaneously remark during our ‘shares’ just how vital the DRA meetings are to our continued existence on this planet.

I have always found that ‘service user’-led initiatives, support groups etc are far more useful and effective than anything the professionals can ever put together for us, no matter how well-meaning they are.

In case any of you are interested in coming along to a meeting to try it for size, this particular meeting takes place at the Methodist Church in Hinde Street at the corner with Thayer Street, nearest tube Bond Street, at 1pm every Monday. The criteria for attending DRA is that you have some kind of addiction alongside a mental health problem. Addictions could be behavioural or related to substances…in my case for instance, it’s compulsive overeating.

I had to leave straightaway after the meeting to get to the ward round. Saw a couple of my friends on the ward, that was nice. The meeting with psych and only a few odd-bods, all of whom I knew, went very well. Couldn’t have asked for better, except of course that dream meeting where the psych agrees with me that I’m not really ill and takes me off all medication for ever…(hey, I’m joking!)

She was as nice as pie to me, even listened to some of my self-diagnosis and insights quite patiently and not at all dismissively. You will note that I don’t go in with high expectations! That is the first cardinal mistake people tend to make with M.H. professionals. I’ve been around too long and been too badly burned to go that route.

She suggested we reduce the Seroquel, I asked to just have it at night before I go to bed. She felt I could be trusted to take it myself henceforth, and that the Home Treatment team need only visit me every other day. Better still, she is now on the Home Treatment Team herself, so she can come and visit me instead of me having to go to her. We decided I did not need the Clonazepam any more. I complained mildly about the Sodium Valproate seeming completely ineffectual, and she asked me to stay on it until things have completely settled down, then we would look at swapping it for another mood stabiliser.

No more enforced medication! No more Cinderella, having to get home to take meds that zonk me out at a ridiculously unsocial hour. All good.

After that I met up with Paul, my new mate who seems to like me as a platonic friend. We went for tea and toast in the greasy spoon, then for a drink at the pub. He seems to want to see me a lot. This takes some getting used to. He is very proactive, seeking my company, and paying for me in the cafes and so on. Sometimes I don’t know what to make of it. I feel myself changing, but at the same time am slightly fearful of ‘the other shoe dropping’.

Have one more module of the ECDL computer course to go at Learn Direct. I guess it’s time to get back to that. Am in two minds about my gym membership. I put on the customary amount of weight during the episode, plus the smoking affecting my fitness levels and lung capacity.

But I still have no proper identifiable role in this life of ours, peeps. And I defy anyone to say that’s nice. If I could leave the planet now with no mess or pain involved I would. It just ain’t fair.

Love as always peeps…thanks for reading. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Hi darlings…

OK now, you were with me through the high. Now is the test of Bloggie Friendship. The depressed phase.

It’s also the test of little old me. As I shared with you previously I had some what seemed like valuable insights during this episode of mania and hypomania. I realised that it’s not a chemical imbalance that is making me ill. Not a lack of Sodium Valproate, Seroquel or any other bloody thing that causes the roller coaster pattern of my life. It isn’t for want of trying all of these substances.

One definition of insanity is keeping on doing the same thing and expecting different results. Well I’ve tried a lot of different things. Many of them chemical, because the nature of the beast is that I have been thoroughly caught in the psychiatric system for about seventeen years now. I’ve also gone the holistic route.

I do think that the amount of meditation I did over the ten day retreat over Xmas, while it might have had a role in tipping me into mania, also helped me be more self-aware during the episode, hence the new insight.

To recapitulate what I think I have said before…it is the way I’m living my life that is precipitating the manic depression. I am living against my own nature. My nature is gregarious, sociable, loving to communicate and commune with others. Much of the time I cut myself off from others and from my own nature out of fear.

Fear of being swamped by the weight of others’ personalities and needs. Fear of the demands they might make on me. It’s essentially a boundaries issue.

I look around and notice that the happiest people I see do not seem to behave like this. With them, you don’t see this barrier. They are secure within their own healthy ego boundaries, and are therefore free to enjoy others’ company. It doesn’t have the power to pull them down.

What I need to do right now, in the depressed phase of the episode, is to allow others to lift me up, but to do my best to screen out anything that can pull me down.

What I don’t need is to allow the fear and shame most depressives feel to prevent me from enjoying others’ company. I need to proactively seek the company of people who are positive and who make me laugh. Failing that I just need to be with people. On my own life quickly seems meaningless.

Anyway it’s the ward round today. I’m going to go to my Dual Recovery Anonymous meeting first. I’ve already squared that with the nurses. I’ve said I will be there around 3.30. Can see no earthly reason why that should be a problem for them in any case. And I need the DRA meeting.

Contact with my son on Saturday was a bit of a downer to be honest. We’ve had a lot of lovely ones lately, but this wasn’t. J seemed a bit tired and distant. It was very hard to draw him out.

The paintballing, which I had been convinced he would like even if I hated it, was frankly quite scary. A lot of men in their late teens early twenties…a quasi military exercise. Paintballs, when they hit you, and I got one squarely on the top of the head, hurt. J my son is a sensible boy who doesn’t like getting hurt, so he hung back defensively. No women of my age, and only one girl. I was about as far out of my comfort zone as I could possibly be.

But at least the weather was beautiful and after we had exhausted our ammunition we left and found a very quaint old-fashioned tea shop for a comforting afternoon tea.

J hung back when it was time to say goodbye. The hug he gave me was half-hearted. I don’t know, maybe he was feeling a little down. Because I have so little time with him, this stuff makes a huge difference to how I feel. I have to undertand though, that he lives much more in the present and does not have the same need for my demonstrated affection as I do for his. Especially in the downward swing of an episode…

Yeah it’s sad. No way around that. Sadness is distinct from depression though.

Much love peeps. I won’t apologise for having been manic. It isn’t my fault. But thank you for the act of affirmation you give me by reading. It means more to me than you can know. Zoe.

A better day…

After successfully completing a few chores (the dread post office, cancelling my gym membership, changing the sheets on the bed, shopping for our picnic tomorrow) had very nice tea and chat with my old friend S round at his house. That was cool.

Also Paul returned my messages and it is all cool between us again. Thank Christmas for that.

to find on the Go Ballistic paintballing website that there are vacancies at the (place name deleted) site so we don’t even have to go to Royston. I will call them first thing in the morning to see if we can transfer the booking. It was the telephone bookings guy’s fault as I asked for the nearest place to (place name deleted) and Hertfordshire. Fingers crossed folks. Love, Zoe

One Step Forward, Three Steps Back…

Hi peeps. Here is my corner of relative sanity in this mad old world. I had my Seroquel about an hour ago and am now drinking black coffee to counter it.

Yesterday was a bit of a debacle. Stuff that I was looking forward to (seeing my friend, going to the Laughter Therapy thing at the hospital) turned out to be underwhelming in the extreme.

Why? I dunno. It was my mood I guess. At least partly. I am so dependent on others to lift me up and it ain’t their fault if they’re just not up to the task I suppose.

Also Paul the new potential squeeze didn’t turn up to Laughter Therapy. I had to take the blasted pills at 7.30 and was good for nothing an hour later. Went to bed and found six messages from him on my mobile in the morning demanding to know why I wasn’t answering, and coming on all melodramatic about it.

This morning I texted him four messages back trying to make peace, but still haven’t heard from him. It’s all more than a little mad. He is half-living in another world completely, a jetsetting, actor/comedian world. He probably can’t get his head around the fact that I am newly out of the mental ward and on a rigid regime of enforced psych drugs which tend to scupper any kind of a conventional social life.

As for the guy I was grooming to be my Bit on the Side well he’s blotted his copybook pretty badly as well. He borrowed money from me the other day which he was meant to pay back yesterday and didn’t, and is generally acting like a prize tosser. Don’t think I’m that interested any more. Certainly not gonna waste any heartache over him. If he wasn’t a vegetarian I wouldn’t even give him a second glance.

Aargh, men though. I’m now waiting on a call, anxious that it will never come. He’s probably still in bed/lost his mobile/got no credit. These are the types I attract. Feckless losers. Thing is he threatened not to contact me again if I didn’t answer last night so maybe he’s still mad and punishing me. Though I actually think that’s most unlikely.

He’s simply disorganised, a bad timekeeper and unreliable. Which in itself is a bit of a downer. I’m the opposite of all three.

Anyway my tea date for today is an old old friend and ex-lover. We were the very closest and best of friends for five years after the affair but then the friendship soured after I told him some rather brutal home truths. During this last episode of mine I bumped into him at the Patient’s Council, got chatting again and now we’ve both let bygones be bygones. So that’s good as far as it goes.

The booking for paintballing with my son at Royston near Cambridge is all sorted now at any rate. Seeing him always cheers me up. Watching me trying to wield a gun would be funny at the best of times. The Seroquel will probably render it hilarious. Frankly wish I didn’t have to do it but paintballing isn’t much of a spectator sport apparently. The important thing is, J will love it. And the weather forecast for tomorrow is dry with sunny spells.

Have to get out of the house to buy groceries so I can make a picnic for us. Mundane chores still not coming that easily to me as yet. For instance I need to go pay my rent at the post office. Type A Personality has a tendency to kick in when I have to stand in any kind of queue.

Thank God I will be seeing my baby tomorrow…yeah J, but I meant my other baby. Nookie is surely guaranteed, at least for one night/day of the week.

Why can’t the past just die? Why am I in permanent limbo? Why are relationship difficulties so boringly persistent? When I can see such a pretty picture, and know so well how it’s supposed to be? Love, a slightly wistful Zoe xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx