An ode to toilet paper…

Hello

So all is not well in Jonesy towers. Well in one of the littlest Jonesy family members bowels. There have been some digestive pyrotechnics going on in Jonesy Juniors stomach, and unfortunately we all had a front row seat to that particular chocolate firework display, as did most of the Co-Op. Jonesy Junior was mortified, his siblings positively gleeful ‘he’s just runny bummed in his pants, muhahahahahaha’ – and once again, crisis management was required to stop the literal shit hitting the fan. I swear I could negotiate easier with the UN than with my children when they are trying to lynch each other. So Jonesy Junior is still unwell and not loving life, and is refusing to even come out of his bedroom. I am bracing myself for my little tribe of drama queens to become unwell and anticipate battlefield type scenes of destruction when it hits. Yay for me.

Not that the distraction was particularly unwelcome. My reading for this week was all about the marriage law of consummation, and what English law thinks of artificial vaginas. Yes, that is correct, ‘artificial cavities’ and how much they will ‘accommodate’. For a bunch of prudes the English seem to think the average penis is a lot bigger than really is, they are remarkably detailed regarding this area of law, and I even had to read one article which asserted there is no agreed medical definition of a penis. Well I beg to differ, its orange, with stupid hair and lives in the white house, but I digress. It is detail I feel highly unnecessary in todays society, and I have come away not so much enlightened but bemused, and in need of sensible adult conversation. Problem is I don’t seem to know any sensible adults so I’m fairly stumped.

So I settled for the Brexit debate on BBC Parliament. So I went from being bemused, to outraged, to slightly bemused again, and then googling MP expenses for some of the jeering bullies I was watching, back to outraged again. Tried to watch Lord of the Rings to help me sleep – nope, I have a friend with a mashed up toe, that I think has Hobbit feet, so Bilbo’s brief appearance did nothing to send me off to sleep, but set me off in hysterics with my spiteful temper.

So for another night, in a countless chain of god knows how many I cannot sleep. I really don’t want sleeping tablets again, but I’m not seeing a choice, because I don’t want to risk hypomania. I have experienced one episode of full blown mania, which lasted about a week, but smaller, less severe episodes of hypomania. Now, during these I am not so much manic, but very productive. To the outside world I am doing well, and seem to be getting through and catching up with a lot, but that is not the case. My mind is going at a hundred miles an hour, and I find myself increasingly frustrated with other people and how slow they are. I also don’t retain a lot of information, so these periods are less productive than people think. They drop off after less than a week, followed by another drop in mood, which I can quite frankly do without right now. I am trying to stabilise, and its important to keep to a routine.

Now for someone who is usually quite relaxed, I have to be rigid with routines and it’s frustrating. I have to go to sleep and wake up at the same times, in order to keep a sleep pattern, where I get just the right amount of sleep. Too much and I’m tired, too little and I’m tired – tiredness causes instability in moods, which is not good. I have to eat at the same times, to ensure one I do eat, and that I stay in control of my appetite. I forget to eat and I binge, which leads to weight gain, or even sickness, or loss of appetite. I have to take medication at set times, and so on. I quite like being flexible, having a list of stuff to do and working through it as you please, however with my routine so fixed and the kids routine – the flexibility isn’t always there. So I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel at the moment. Same shit, different day almost.

Plus I had the shittiest letter ever from Caroline telling me because I haven’t made an appointment I’ve been discharged from therapy. Now I wasn’t aware these appointments were therapy, I thought she was a CPN, so this was news to me. I don’t know if that is the sign of a good therapist or a really shit one, when you don’t know you’re supposed to be in therapy, or that you are having therapy. I’m going with really shit. I have written a letter to the PCT outlining my thoughts on this. I don’t expect a happy response. But in essence this is a service the taxpayer is funding, and I think it is so poor they deserve their money back. Now I will fight defending the NHS to my last breath, but this is not a result of budget cuts, this is poor service and delivery. One week I sat in a waiting room for half an hour, before I was told no one was there, and I should go home and rearrange. Cue Caroline ringing me half way up the carpark to ask why I had not shown to my appointment. Turns out the receptionists believe that eating biscuits and talking shit amongst themselves, was in their job description and them telling my nurse I had arrived for my appointment was not. Nurses must come down at appointment times and play hide and seek with their outpatients. Well one of the benefits of being a tubby is that finding me is quite easy, and hiding damn near impossible, so you would think someone with a degree could manage to locate the fat lass, with the resting bitch face, eyeballing the Vera Duckworth lookalike receptionist munching her way through a pack of hobnobs with a look of disapproval on my face Katie Hopkins would high five. So I had to go back into the building, flicking a Baroness Trumpington style V sign at the Vera Duckworth lookalike who told me to go home on the way in, make small talk with Caroline to go back home. They wonder why the NHS is in crisis.

It takes someone remarkable to work at the coal face of the NHS. What the NHS does not need is petty rules, and job descriptions and bull shit politics. Do your job, do it well, and the NHS may just manage. Most professionals do this and more. But mental health services do not have ring fenced funding, to the extra funds placed into it by governments placating national outcries, more than not, it ends up funding gastric bands, or the endless march of the old dears, who we seem to be drowning in. Not where it was promised. As the saying goes, you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Those receptionists were definitely on peanuts. And as for Caroline, well I’m sure she’ll do very well in MI5 with her top secret therapy no one knows they are receiving.

I was thinking about private therapy, but after that no thanks. I’ll tell my friends and family if I need to talk about anything, and save the receptionists the job of working their fat fingers to the phone (get it, my first pun).

So I need to get some sleep, pray this pin pricky type rash appearing all up my hands and arms, which is getting quite hot, is not shingles, as my god daughter has chicken pox, so I am slightly praying some nasty bug has decided to bite me instead. (In winter I know its  reach but work with me here, I don’t fancy singing shingle bells at the Gestapo GP receptionist, who likes to question every thing down to your last bowel movement, which I  always offer to do on her desk, before she’ll allow you through the gates of Mordor to see her ‘precious’, I mean Doctor).

Take Care

 

Laura 🙂 x

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Time to talk day…

Hello all,

So despite my posting daily, not all my posts are appearing on my blog. I have them saved, but I am in the process of uploading them so it may be an arse about face reading list. But I am an arse about face type of girl, so hey ho.

It is national time to talk day. A campaign by time to change to end mental health discrimination and technically the end of my blog challenge. I may just have to keep on though, until I get my cheesecake sponsorship deal, and the world appreciates the genius in my ramblings (I know, I might have a long wait).

If I could change one thing about mental health, it would be how it is seen and talked about. Mental illness has a fight on so many fronts. The ignorance of how bad it can be, the stereotypes that it faces, and the shame people feel it admitting they struggle.

When I started this blog, it was me admitting  to the world I have Bipolar. Not that I think for a second that the world spins on what I have to say, but it was a personal thing. I have always said I am not ashamed of my condition, but am not that open about it. Well I am hereby calling myself on my own bullshit. If I am not ashamed, why I am I not open about it? Why can’t I talk about it openly? Why do I play down how hard it is to live with sometimes? How much of my life, and of me in general it has taken and destroyed? How many Birthdays, Christmases, and events it has ruined? How many of my friends it has taken from me? It made me doubt myself, and removed all of my self esteem, with no warning.

It has seeped into every area of my life and tainted every area of my life and personality that is the very essence of me. The illness and medication affected my ability to socialise, study, maintain employment, mother my children, interact with my family, and made me want to die. Because its not just the illness, its the parts of you it takes, so you don’t recognise what is left.

I am not alone. One in four experience mental illness, and more deal with the effects it has on loved ones. Well here I am, leading by example. I have been that person, as you can see from my posts, who has had the shit kicked out of her by Bipolar. But you know something, unlike so many of the people I cared about, I’m still here. So fuck you Bipolar, you keep trying, but I am better than you. You win a few rounds, but I am still standing. I will keep standing, you have taken too much from me, you have taken my friends, but as with most things in my life, I’ll have the last say, I wont back down, and I’ll put you back in your place. Go to hell, and take your misery with you.

I have Bipolar, I am not Bipolar. I am still me. But there are times where I need a break because its gets to much. I walk through life with the monstrous weight of my illness on my back. But for my children, no matter how heavy it gets, how tired I get, how despondent, or miserable, I’ll keep walking. I am not perfect, and not quite the mother they deserve, but I love my children with my every breath, and Bipolar may throw some punches, a few might even land, but Bipolar hits like a bitch and I’m the biggest bitch I know, I wont let it take me down.

Bravery comes in many different forms. It may be all you can do to walk into that busy supermarket, the crowds are overwhelming sometimes. It may take everything you have to walk into that Doctors room and admit you are not coping. Do it anyway. You are not on your own. Because no matter who you are, where you are, what you are going through, I am going through hell too. So you have one friend in this world. Me.

What people don’t realise about mental illness, is it has more power to bond us all together than it does to separate us. Once you have faced the kind of darkness it brings, no matter how little you know about a stranger, you would go beyond to help them. Because once you have experienced it, you wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy. I will quite happily talk to anyone, about anything if it helps. Even people I wouldn’t normally spend time with, because that darkness is what we have in common. Because mental illness is essentially, your own brain turning against you. But while that makes you feel like the world is against you, it really isn’t. There are people who will help. Who will listen. You just need to take the leap. It is a leap of faith, reaching out to someone, admitting you are not doing ok, and trusting them to understand and be there. Sometimes it feels like a leap we are not ready to take. But do it, you really don’t have anything to lose. If they don’t respond how you need them to, they are not worth being in your life anyway. If you aren’t ready to just yet, that’s fine. Be kind to yourself. Deep breath, one day, or even hour at a time.

It will lift eventually, keep the faith. I have been lifted by my friends. I like my friends, hence why they are friends. But I have been truly amazed by what wonderful people they are. Especially my very own Braveheart. Mental illness is a part of us none of us like, but it is still part of us. We should never have to hide any part of ourselves from our loved ones. Let people in every now and again, they’ll surprise you. Ease the burden on yourself, because make no mistake it is a burden and a bloody big one at that.

So I had my  very own ‘coming out’. I have Bipolar and I’m proud. Proud because I deal with an illness that takes lives. Ends lives. Fighting Bipolar and fighting life makes me no less than a warrior. I may not be physically strong, but I have a kind of resilience that is worthy of being proud of. I am still a person, with a massive arse, tree trunk legs, bemused expression or resting bitch face, I am still intelligent, still likeable, still a good friend (when I’m not ill), still loveable (even married, get me), still a mother. I still have a life worth living. I am in a better position than most, because I’m still breathing.

Above all else, it has taught me things. I care about people in a way I didn’t before. Because again being taken to the depths it takes you to, makes you care about other people. So whilst yes I am a bitch, I will also make time for whoever needs to talk to me. A woman who has gone for weeks without showering is in no position to judge anyone so you have no fear on that front. But hopefully I am proof that it gets better, that the world will not cave in because you have admitted all is not well. Plus people are more caring than you give them credit for.

So please keep talking. Mental illness is like a fungus, it relies on darkness and isolation to thrive. No one likes fungus.

 

Take Care

Laura 🙂 xx

 

It’s not about the money, money, money….

that’s great, Jessie J – could you let British Gas know, because those fuckers seem to think its all about the money, money, money. So do their BFF’s Severn Trent, and the Council – and pretty much any other organisation that can get hold of my name and address.

So lovely  people, if you haven’t already guessed its mid January. That wonderful time of year, where pay day is a million miles away, you’ve realised just how much money you have spent on Christmas presents, including for those people you don’t really like but can’t get away with not buying for, like your husband- and just as you’re coming to terms with how expensive Christmas is, the bills arrive. Just brilliant.

Not just a few mind, but a white avalanche of paper through your letterbox, and even though my lovely Grandma got me letterbox type organiser to put them out the way, even that is running out of room. My letterbox looked like that scene from Harry Potter when his Hogwarts letters arrived and went flooding into the house, although thank god there were no Owls. I refuse to trust anything that can spin its neck around backwards, weird, big eyed, serial killers they are.  The only letter I’ve had in the past week that hasn’t wanted money is one from Gala Bingo, which was encouraging me to gamble it away instead. Though to be fair to Gala Bingo at least they included a voucher to take three friends for free, give you free wine – and the envelope was all colourful – take note British Gas, if you want me to acknowledge your presence on my mat – get colourful and include a voucher, like one for one free phone call to an advisor who doesn’t call me Lauren, or ma’am, or make me want to send them anthrax.

So here I am – all champagne tastes and lemonade budget. This is another wonderful part of Bipolar – when you’re manic you’re spending money like water, and when you’re depressed you don’t (in my case anyway) but you don’t spend any money at all, on important things like paying your gas bill or council tax, and come January you get angry letters from Scarface wannabe bureaucrats demanding payment or else. (Or else what, they are welcome to repossess the dust in my house, because that’s about the only thing at the minute that isn’t covered in felt tip, thanks to Gabriella).

So I’ve been dutifully paying all my bills (silently swearing vengeance on places like Severn Trent, who charge you for water, when we live on an island where all it does is fucking rain). So I am now, along with the vast majority of my friends and family, in January, watching the sales, and the smugly financially organised love them – and quite frankly Joanie ‘Nan’ Taylor from the Catherine Tate Show has got nothing on me. Fucking Liberty.

Which brings me to the two points I wanted to make about mental illness and finance. First the two do not go hand in hand. To get a grip on your finances and stay in control, you need to be in control of your mind yourself. Which when your brain works off its own agenda, and some days you’re Martin Lewis, and others Eddie from Ab Fab, it’s not possible. Some people, like I have in the past, use spending money as a way to feel better. To buy presents for people, to shift the guilt for being flaky, or unwell. For others its a way of making sure you have nice things, and look nice, when you feel like shit inside. Its a release and that short high you get from the purchase doesn’t last long enough, so you make another one, and it spirals. Then debt hits. Then the darkness you go into has another hold on you, you have another reason to hate yourself and the circle continues.

Secondly, for the seriously ill, working is not always possible. Managing money when you can just about break even is one thing (lets face it, with inflation, petrol prices, wage freezes and bastard tory government no one is feeling flush, or even in the black), managing on benefits when you are mentally ill is quite another. That takes rigid, precise money management that the mentally ill are usually not capable of. To sort that, it involves having another person have access to their finances, which is embarrassing, and if you can’t ask for help regarding mental health, you are hardly likely to ask for help for your finances. Being skint, is just as bad, if not worse as being mentally ill, as its stigmatised as a another kind of personal failure. Another way of outing yourself as not being part of the Instagram/Facebook perfect lifestyle.

Then the other nasty side to this, is the shame people feel for being on benefits. Like they have to explain why they are not capable of working right now, to almost justify it. People can see benefit claimants as lazy scroungers, and yes some are. However being made to feel like a scrounger when you are ill, is not helpful to anyone, especially people who will already hate themselves enough without outside help. Something the job centre does in spades. The job centre is not designed to assist people with mental health problems, in fact I would go so far as to say the job centre does more damage to some people, than not taking their medication. They ram everyone into their one size fits all approach, and sanctioning the mentally ill until they have to go to a food bank, is just disgusting and if I had my way, would be criminal.

There is not enough understanding of what exactly it means to be mentally ill. Genuinely mentally ill. The problem is the word depression is thrown around so casually now, that the workshy have come to see it as the answer to their prayers. The jobcentre seem to think that the GP will issue a sick note for anyone that says they are depressed. However, anyone with serious psychiatric problems will have other symptoms. Plus the genuinely ill, want help, not babysitting. They are usually the ones who will look for work when they are not well enough, because they don’t want the shame of the ordeal ‘capability for work’ assessments put them through.

Depression is a word that covers too wide a spectrum of mental illness. Slight low mood on one end, to suicidal thoughts, plans and serious psychiatric distress on the other. It is a term too frequently used with no precision. It is also a term I don’t allow on any formal letter, note or report I have any say on. I ask for a more precise description, usually Bipolar episode, depressive etc than just depression, because I have a problem with being in the same category as someone who is mildly depressed. Not that I am devaluing mild depression, it is just it is a different set of symptoms and severity being experienced, therefore there should be a difference in how they are described. I liken it to the phrase ‘had surgery’. You could have had a mole taken off, or your tonsils out, or even an ingrowing toe nail removed, that is a world of difference to having a hysterectomy, or a lung removed, or a liver transplant, or a brain tumour removed. But technically all that could be summed up with the phrase ‘had surgery’.

Changing how we describe mental illness will help how it is seen and treated. That will make all the world of difference to people living with it. Anything that stops genuine people being caught up in the assault on the unemployed by the government is golden to me. Now don’t get me wrong, I think the government does need to tighten up around unemployment benefits. It isn’t fair on those who graft and pay tax, to see the feckless in our society getting pissed and/or pregnant on their tax money. However imagine being unwell, having to use the system designed to catch you when you are ill, and being put in the same category as those who wont work. I believe our  welfare system in a safety net not a hammock. However there is too much shame experienced by the mentally ill from using it at all. That has got to stop. To help people, mental health care needs a holistic approach. It is not just the illness that needs treating, but all aspects of life that people need assistance with.

However I am one of the lucky ones. I have a husband who is mentally ok (well as well as he can be married to me)  and took control when I couldn’t. He handled everything from the kids, to the house, to Christmas .It was just the bills that were in my name that he couldn’t deal with. Which makes me laugh, because we are married yet they refuse to talk to him. Some wouldn’t even tell him how much was due, so he couldn’t pay them. Which makes me laugh, they either want the money or they don’t. So now I am well, to prevent this from happening again, I either need to spend the best part of a grand getting a power of attorney drawn up, in case of future ‘mental incapacity’ – which has potential negative drawbacks for me in certain circumstances, let alone its cost – or I have to go around, putting data protection waivers onto every organisation I deal with, or make accounts joint, when I might not want to. More administrative ball ache and yet another example of how organisations need to catch up and find ways of dealing with disabled people that help them.

For anyone reading this that is struggling financially or has genuine concerns about their financial health, then please get proactive and try to sort it out. Financial health has the biggest impact on our mental health, and its very rare to be financially ill, and mentally healthy. Jessie J is wrong, it is all about the money, money, money as money can reach its long fingers into so many aspects of our lives and make it miserable. If you feel in control of your finances, you feel in control of your life.

First step, is a website called moneysavingexpert.com – the advice on that site and its forum helps so many people, as it helped me in the past. It has budgeting advice and tools, money saving  tips and advice. The forum is great for getting advice on, and has helped people 30k in debt sort themselves out. Plus it has links to debt advice related charities, such as step change. Please if contacting a debt charity, do not use one who charge you, there are so many out there that will do it for free. Check it out.

Try not to emotionally spend. If you feel low, spending money you know you don’t have will not help you. I go by ‘if its free, its for me’ – that has helped find ways of doing things to lift my mood without spending money. As you need to find ways to help yourself you can frequently rely on, and for that its needs to be free or really cheap, so you always have access to it.

Budget – knowing the damage, and where you can start to fix it will massively help. If you can ask a trusted friend of family member to help you, sometimes even talking about it helps. There is always a way out of financial mess – so says Martin Lewis, and thanks to the 3 free pairs of trainers I got from a tip off from his site and all the countless discounts and cash backs I’ve scored I take his word as gospel – it may be painful but there is always a way out. You will need independent advice from citizens advice if it is bad, but his website is a good place to start. I am that addicted, I take it as failure if I pay full price for anything these days, its almost a buzz – one of my weirder quirks but hey at least this one is helpful, downing neat bottles of Jack Daniels has never gotten me anywhere helpful in the past, although I am quite proud of my binge drinking super powers, even if they are now retired.

So my bills are paid, my bank balance is back to that place where the cash point laughs when you put your card in, but all is right with the world. I am a student, the cash point should be laughing at me, I don’t the other students to think I’m weird, well weirder. I have lots of fun stuff planned, and again I’m on the up. I’m still taking one step at a time, one bastard pill at a time – but I’m not going backwards.

Take Care

Laura 🙂 x

DISCLAIMER – Martin Lewis is in no way affiliated with my blog (although I think he bloody well should be, and a few cheesecake companies – I’ll take and advertise cheesecake, provided for me, its free) – I doubt he knows of my existence, so please remember all tory hating, foul mouthed opinions are my own. Plus any advice you get from the site, is the responsibility of the site, I just told you to have a look. However Martin, if you are reading this, and would like some cheesecake and a chat about mental health and money saving, and money saving in general, please get in touch – I don’t go cheap on cheesecake – and I quite like a man with a discount code.

 

Lost my mind, keys and my blogs….

Hello,

So it has been five days since my last blog. I have been doing them daily but my last four have disappeared. I know, I know it is tragic, I’m wearing black to mourn the loss of my writing genius, what will the world do without it (a lot better I’d imagine lol). *Disclaimer, I’m wearing black due to the lack of clean clothes, I have fallen out with the washing machine, and my clothes for not walking themselves into the washing machine, and expecting me to put them in there, like I’m a servant – but hey black works for loads of reasons.

So trying to remember the ramblings in the past four blogs – and I thought id just start again. I have been attempting to get my shit together this week – which made me anxious and I went without sleep for two days. Got up Tuesday morning, did not go to sleep until Thursday afternoon. Which then resulted in me being asleep until this afternoon.

This is very dangerous for someone with Bipolar and can lead to mania, rapid cycling, relapses. I know this. Except the pressure I was putting on myself to get everything done, and prove to the world I am ok was driving myself to  it. Plus thanks to the long sleep, I didn’t get half of what I needed to get done, done. So it was counter-productive.

I am my own worst enemy, my own worst critic, my own worst bully. I listen to the negative inside voice faster than I listen to other people. It is like if it isn’t a criticism it isn’t true. I cannot take compliments, they make me uncomfortable, I get the face like I’m downing the nasty tasting shots you get in student bars (not that I’ve ever been in one, especially underage AHEM Mum and Dad, I swear) whenever I get one. You almost talk yourself out of them ‘she’s just being nice’ or ‘she knows you’ve had a bad time, just trying to make you feel better, she didn’t mean it’. So I push harder. Take more on, run round trying to get everything done, despite having took too much on, and go and go and go, until I hit breaking point and then nothing gets done. Then I get down at my own perceived failure. Then as I start to feel better, I take more on again to prove to the world that I’m ok, but in reality I’m trying to prove to myself I’m ok. Then the cycle starts again.

Well its time to stop. I have made a list, with ten things on, I have a week to do them, and if its not on the list, then I’ll get to it eventually. I need to respect my Bipolar for the life threatening condition it is. My self care is more important than deadlines set by other people, or me. I need to be more truthful – stop looking ok if I’m not.

This blog went up proving that I’m not ok, and nothing bad happened. Everyone, even strangers have been lovely. The worst part was the people closest to me feeling hurt I hadn’t come to talk to them about it. That I felt I couldn’t. I didn’t realise how affected my family are by my illness. Not just the illness, but me not sharing with them. How refusing to share things with them made them feel helpless. Like they were watching me in hell but they couldn’t do anything to help. Because I refuse point blank to say anything other than I’m ok. Whether that is the truth or not.

I felt like an absolute scum bag when I watched how upset my Dad was, when he said I never talk to him, and he worries about me. He’d read my blog and didn’t know how to bring the subject up, because, the same with anyone else, any attempt to talk to me about how I’m feeling is shut down – ‘I’m ok, don’t worry, I’m fine’ – despite my being online at 3.30 am is a sure sign I’m not. I feel like I put my own illness on other people, when its not their problem its mine. It is selfish to share the darkness, and by doing so drag them into darkness as well. When you love someone, you do what you can to shield them from whatever unhappiness you can. But its only this week I’ve realised that shutting people out, hurts them more than letting them in. They wont have a cure, or magic wand, but to trust them enough to share, even a little bit -is sometimes all you need to do.

So I am. Because I don’t want to upset my Dad of all people the way I have done. This week has been a lot better than some of the weeks I  have had. I have a new nurse called Caroline. Now I am the stuff of legend in community care. Apparently I’m a lucky dip, either really nice, or screaming at them to fuck off. Mostly I tell them to fuck off. When one suggested mindfulness colouring, I was indignant in rage ‘fucking colouring in, are you joking, do I look 5, you trying to say I’ve got special needs, here colour this in *writes go fuck yourself in bubble writing*  and then stormed out. Muttering all the way down the car park. Its only later on that I realised loads of people do it, its almost a craze, and its relaxing, she wasn’t talking down to me, and I had acted like an epic twat. I did apologise profusely, and I am quite lucky that particular nurse was understanding and took it with good humour (she had coloured in my sign and gave it back – which I took as black belt level banter and put it on my fridge). However the other nurses who suggested I go to a group with 25 people crammed into a little room when I hate crowds, and was very patronising when I told her I would not be coming back, deserved her fuck off.

Mental health care is hit or miss. Mostly, thanks to Tory funding cuts, miss. I go months with nothing, get put on inappropriate treatment plans, and have had some awful nurses and treatment plans. But Caroline is ok. I quite like her. She reckons this is an honour in itself, and she’s enjoying the smug ‘she’s not told me to fuck off’ kudos she’s getting in the office. We’ve even had cheesecake together. I haven’t opened up, but I’ve been talking to her. She encouraging of me returning to Uni, and has given me loads of advice, that is working for me. She doesn’t patronise me. Its nice to talk to someone about things, that I know I wont upset either through worry, or not talking.

Now as much as I have been critical about my level of care, at least I have some. I was listening to Free Radio (the local radio station for Warwickshire) and there was a lady on there talking about her daughter. Her daughter has tried to end her life three time in four weeks and has been told it will be SIX months before she sees a professional. SIX MONTHS. That made the hair on the end of my neck stand up. I can remember being in A and E one quite serious attempt and waking up to a psychiatrist at the end of my bed. I had one visit me at home every day for a fortnight and a nurse twice a day I was considered such a high risk. This poor lady is beside herself about her daughter and is getting no help. I wanted to reach inside that radio and hug her. I also wanted to reach inside the TV and choke hold Theresa May until she realised that mental health funding needs ring fencing so it gets where it is needed. If we want people to start talking, some of them will need professionals to talk to. One suicide due to lack of mental health provision is one too many.

Which brings me to my next good news. I am now a champion for ‘time to change’ an organisation who in conjunction with Mind and Rethink, are challenging the stigma surrounding mental health. I applied and got an email through, so here I am, a fully fledged champion. It involves challenging the stigma – in every day life, social media, and being part of the wider network willing to share their experiences. I have sent my blog off to be featured, as well as to other places, as I want to play my part in breaking this stupid stigma down and dragging mental health to the forefront. We lose too much talent through suicide, and enough is enough. I lost my first friend at 16 to suicide. He was also 16 and sometimes I wonder where he’d be now, how many kids he’d have, what job he’d be doing. He had decades of fresh air in front of him. Same as Jasmine. I have lost 9 friends to suicide in 12 years – all aged between 16-30. Five men, four women. I know I’ll lose more. But I wont sit by idle, while this happens. My biggest weapon is my big mouth, and I’ll use it to try to affect change, and get others to affect change. They can’t ignore us all together. No stigma, better treatment, more funding for treatment, fairer treatment in the workplace. All reasonable things, all achievable, all missing.

But for now I am on the up, apart from my blog posts going into the big cyber black hole. I have the joys of a autism referral form for my son to get through this weekend. As well as other work and paperwork I’ve not got through,  but will do at my own pace. As well as a nice sprinkling of seeing friends and family in between.

I’ve seen my lovely god daughter Charlotte this week, she makes me howl with laughter. This child has been on the earth before, I’m convinced. The faces that she pulls, the fact she hates my curtains and tries to pull them off, her straight abuse of her mum and dad (she wont pull her own hair as she’s worked out it hurts, but she has no problem pulling big clumps of her Mum and Dads, which makes me cry laughing). Plus put her arms up for a cuddle now, which makes me melt. She’s very selective with who she’ll go to, so I’m enjoying being on her VIP list, even if she uses a cuddle as an excuse to wipe her dribble down my shoulder I’m still chuffed to bits. I call her ‘my little angel cake’ – she side eyes me her obvious cringing, but hey, she’ll just have to take it.

Her Mum really helped me out this week. She dropped me a lovely card, cheesecake, and what I call my board of fame – all pictures on for me to look at of the people who care (and a few of Pauls mate who couldn’t be cropped out the photo lol). It was really touching and gave me a brilliant lift.

So there is always chunks of light around if you look for it. Please keep letting me know what you think of my blog. I want to do a kind of Q and A blog, which might help people who have just had a diagnosis, or are struggling, so if you can think of any questions I could answer that may help someone that would be fab. I’ll will be doing slightly longer blogs to catch up with the four that didn’t post – annoyed about that. Please keep sharing my blog, and engaging with it – and I’m really, really appreciative of all the love and support I’ve had so far, it has meant so much. Thank you  x

Take Care,

Laura 🙂 x

So I’ll start a revolution from my bed….cause they said the brains I had went to my head.

Hello

So I woke up today feeling rather fresh considering last nights antics. So you would think I am in a good mood and feeling positive. WRONG. I hate my life today, I hate all the bullshit that comes with being a parent, and an adult, and a semi functioning human being.

One conversation I had recently about how I have mainly slept during my latest episode was met with ‘well it must be nice to re join the land of the living, and take things slowly’. Err no. Despite ‘checking out’ and not interacting  with the world, it didn’t mean the world wanted to stop interacting with me, however much I was ignoring everything and everyone. I still have responsibilities and obligations and that doesn’t stop because I’m unwell. What happens is things build up, and when you feel well again, it’s like a tsunami of shit to deal with and it does not take long before you feel overwhelmed. Like today.

I have so many plates spinning right now it really will not be long before they all come crashing down. My eldest son is in the middle of being assessed for autism, and its been a long fight to get him here. He has been through hell this past six months. He has numerous appointments every week, as well as meetings at his school, 35 page referral letters we have to fill in, and his everyday life to manage, including his homework, the preparations for his SATS and the pressure the kids are put under for that (which is disgusting in my view, 10/11 year olds should not be feeling exam stress) occupational therapy exercises for muscle weakness, and just the stress of living with an autistic child. My daughter has been referred to a speech therapist by nursery, despite my maintaining  she doesn’t need a speech therapist, she needs a swear jar. (Not helped by her mother, who has a foul temper and a foul mouth and who needs her own swear jar). She has no trouble in communicating, it’s just the issue of what she is communicating and how she is doing it that is really bringing home living with a toddler dictator. That does not stop the need for a five page referral form I have to fill in, appointments I have to take her to and again, living with a demanding three year old.

I have opened letters from my psychiatrist, because over Christmas I stopped going to appointments (or out of the house in general), and he is now writing to me demanding I show myself before I’m removed from his list. Another thing to sort out. As well as all the appointments I have to attend, my other son who was born with bilateral talipes is having a relapse (his feet are turning back in and he’s getting painful cramping in the balls of his feet, and his calfs and ankles) so again is having to attend the outpatients clinic at hospital again as well as the physiotherapy that goes with it. That’s without the usual household admin, bill paying (another thing I blanked while unwell) so catching up with that, and university. That is really biting me on the arse. My big oversized arse that needs shrinking rapidly seeing as my clothes are hanging on by a thread (like literally when I put them on, my muffin top has become a cake shelf).

None of these things are things that can be left until later. They are all things which now are pretty urgent because I have been unwell and ignored them for so long they are all now time sensitive. Which means instead of spending a Sunday dealing with different things getting it all sorted out and organised, I’ve realised the sheer amount I have going on right now, and I’m totally overwhelmed. That’s without even adding in that I’m still in recovery, reeling from bad news about my friend and trying to find the focus and the motivation to deal with all of this. AND BREATHE.

So I hate life today. I’m likely to be in the foulest of all moods all week. My good friend Jonathan, and Paul both agree that when I am in a foul mood, I’m exactly like the Nan from the Catherine Tate Show, no one is safe from the wrath of Nan. I’m even called Joanie by Jonathan and the worst part about it is that several other people have made that connection without me saying anything. So ‘what a fucking liberty’ is all you will likely hear out of me for the week now.

The worst part of it I have no one to blame for this current mess but me. I didn’t ask for help, or explain what I had going on, and I didn’t trust anyone else to handle things, but I didn’t bother handling them myself. This sticking my head in the sand approach has helped no one, especially not me, and I’m now in for one hell of a week trying to even begin sorting all of this out. Apart from feeling overwhelmed I’m scared. Scared that this feeling of being overwhelmed and not in control or organised (which is something I absolutely detest) will lead to a relapse, and more than anything I do not want to go back to where I have just been. It is no exaggeration I would rather break every bone in my body than go back there.

The recent tragic passing of Carrie Fisher made me pause and think. I think Carrie Fisher did not get the recognition she deserved for what she did for awareness of mental illness and challenging the attitudes towards it. If Ellen DeGeneres got the presidential medal of freedom I think Carrie Fisher should have had one years ago. She admitted to having  Bipolar, long before having Bipolar was seen by Hollywood and the idiot hangers on as being ‘in’ or the mental illness of the moment. Her honesty in her condition, and her humour about it made it easier for people like me who were coming to terms with their diagnosis and condition.

Even Winston Churchill, the war time prime minister, and arguably one of the first images that comes to mind when you see the union jack, or the British bull dog, admitted to periods of dark depression. His ‘black dog’. There was no official diagnosis released, but you can see from his diaries and accounts, and accounts from people around him, he clearly suffered from a mood disorder. Now if Churchill could run a country in one of the worst times in it’s history whilst dealing with mental illness, and Carrie Fisher could have her career and success, why can’t I deal with the issues in my life. I don’t have half on my plate as they had on theirs, yet here I am moaning.

Everyone has their own coping strategies, and a plan of attack for stuff like this, and I need to work out what mine is. Maybe take my own advice, of one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. I know what needs doing, I just need to do it. I also need to pull my sleep patterns back to normal, because despite not sleeping all the time, I am now up all night, and have to cat nap in the day which is helping nobody, especially me. I have to share with Paul what I have on, and let him help. I have to realise I won’t get everything done at once, and some things will have to wait. All of this sounds really simple when laid out like this, but doing it will be another challenge.

When you are ill, and you have conversations with doctors and other professionals about how to manage your condition, you are always given the same (stupid and obvious) advice. Keep to a routine, eat well, sleep well, take your medication like a good little zombie, and just focus on doing that. Well that is all well and good doc, but what about when life comes and kicks you up the arse. Life is an equal opportunities bitch and comes for everyone regardless of age, illness or whether you deserve it to or not. It does not discriminate. You would think with what I’ve been through, and what I’ve had come at me the past few days I could catch a break. But no. Saying that, I don’t believe I deserve one more than anyone else, there are people out there who have it a lot worse than me. A good friend of mine has just found out her sister has cancer, and this is someone who over the years has had so much shit thrown at them that I’m surprised she is still moving. She just keeps going though, without any bitterness or sadness. She is genuinely a glass half full type of woman, and is someone I think about often when I’m moaning about my life. I think if she can get through that and keep smiling, I can get through this. Though I’ve never said this to her, at times her bravery made me brave. Or at least try to be brave.

But again, this brings me to the other point I want to make. You shouldn’t compare your experiences with other people like you have to justify feeling sad. Like there is a criteria to make it acceptable to feel down. You may know someone who has had a bad time, and think well who I am to feel depressed when you look at so and so. I haven’t had it as bad as them. Or I feel down but they tried to kill themselves, or they are on medication, or stronger medication, or have been ill for longer so I should count myself lucky and stay quiet. It is ok to use other people experiences to help drag yourself up, like I do with my friend when I need courage, but not to keep yourself down. Just because what is traumatic or upsetting for you, isn’t to other people doesn’t lessen the experience you have. Some people take bereavement in different ways. Members of the same family may react differently to the loss of the same relative, but that’s ok. Different things effect different people in different ways. Like I’ll keep saying its ok to not be ok. Its ok not to be ok and not really have a reason for it. There is no emotional yard stick, or tick box or criteria, where someone will say, ok you can be depressed, or down, or feel low, you’ve proved your case.

What is not ok is to let these feelings go on without confronting them. By that I mean not talking about them or if they persist, going to see your GP. What I want is for people to see being mentally unwell, the same as having a broken arm or leg. With a broken bone you know what is wrong, and that it can be fixed, and you can see the problem and make sense of it. Mental illness is not all that different. It is almost physical if you think the chemicals in our brains and our hormones play a big part. So think of being mentally unwell, the same as having a broken arm. You have to treat it, it will get better, and you cant ignore it. It’s not strange or weak. Everyone can relate, as everyone at some point in their lives will be mentally unwell. Whether its grief, post natal depression, stress, anxiety, depression, everyone will experience it in some form at some point. So its not cheesy to say you’re not alone, because if you were to look around your friends and family, someone will either be going through the same, or have been through it.

So I am off to finish my ‘fuck my life’ tantrum. A good old fashioned things to do list will be the start I think. Followed by a cup of tea and a biscuit. (Digestives are an under rated biscuit, and the fixer of many a crisis in Laura land). Then I’ll crack on. Don’t get me wrong I’m going to whinge about it. But its time I put my big girl pants on (Bridget Jones style granny pants given the size of my newly inflated arse) and just got on with it. One thing at a time, until I’m all sorted out. Wish me luck.

Take Care

Laura 🙂 x

 

If at first you don’t succeed…go to the pub with your friends.

Hello

I had every intention of writing a well thought out, insightful, quite serious blog. But then I went to the pub, and quite frankly I’m not capable right now. Or will I be capable tomorrow. Of anything really.

For the first time today was quite productive. I took my herd to a birthday party. Dylan was sat in hot tub with his friends like he was born there. He has decided his original career ambition of being a doctor, has been replaced by ‘something that involves sitting in a hot tub all day’. So basically he wants to be Donald Trump. When I am feeling more capable, we are going to have a chat about ambition, life goals, and what I will nag him about, and what I’ll let slide. Doctor equals happy mother, full time bum equals nagging mother. But for now, I’ve put that on the things to do list.

It’s also the first time since the blog went up, that I’m seeing people in real life. Not just online. So I felt quite exposed. Like I was walking around with a big neon sign flashing ‘nutjob’ above my head. I was scared about what people would say. Surprisingly hardly anything. My friend Lisa has been amazing, she actually reads this which is a start. She even suggested I get a cheesecake company sponsor, given how much I talk about it, which is a very good idea. I haven’t had any negative reactions, in fact quite the opposite which is fantastic. I have been truly moved and humbled by the comments left so thank you. I had a great time, there was cake, my new favourite pulled pork and stuffing batches, sweets – you can see how I judge the success of a party.

I had completely forgotten that weeks ago I had arranged to meet two good friends of mine for a drink that night. Usually I find a way to wiggle out things, but after Jasmine I need to keep busy. I haven’t spoken about that in ‘real life’ nor do I want to. Nothing left to say really. Just need to work through it. But avoiding going out is a step to isolation and that helps no one. Sometimes you need to put your big girl pants on and just crack on with things. Plus I’m going on like I was attending a concert about toilets, I was going to the pub. Ten years ago you had trouble getting me out the pub, not into one, so off I went.

My heart was pounding, my hands were shaking as we pulled into the car park. It was a Saturday night, and like most good pubs, it was really busy. I spent some time making an effort to go out not looking homeless so I was running late. Big busy places are the stuff of my nightmares. So I walked in by myself and looked for my friends. They were by the window, which made it easy to find them. It was a great night. We haven’t seen each other in ages, but it was like no time at all. We met when I was at college, and we all just clicked. We left college nearly five years ago, but we just carried on. These girls are hilarious, like a drink or ten, still call me by my maiden name which makes me smile. I don’t really talk about my Bipolar with them but again after the blog I was bracing myself, but nothing. I think my own self doubt is my biggest problem. We had a good time, Paul dropped us all home, me via McDonalds. I wasn’t even too drunk. Saying that usually drunk to me is what most people would call an absolute mess so coming home about to speak, stand and walk is a revelation. Though I’m not saying I could speak, stand or walk very well. When I finally surface I doubt I’ll be feeling that fresh.

I have agreed to a challenge in August. Straight crazy challenge for charity. I’ll reveal all when I’m officially signed up and preparing. But lets just say its one of those things you have to be drunk to agree to, but once you have no way you can back down. I’ll keep you posted, but I doubt I’ll make it to 30.

I’ll leave my ramblings here, because I think I need to sleep and try and remember where I abandoned my bag with my phone, keys, money, make up and the McDonalds Happy Meal toy some random man in the pub gave me.

Take Care,

Laura 🙂 x

 

How to win friends and influence people….or not.

Hello

So today was about as crazy as I am. A group at my university asked me to share my blog for mental health awareness month and I agreed to. Not only did I agree to it, I then shared the address on my social media. Wow was that an experience. I was expecting an arse kicking with the nature of what I shared. Admitting some of the things that I did, to people that I mostly only see on social media, and we only share the ‘Facebook approved’ parts of our lives, which is the only the good bits, was scary as hell. I’m quite open on Facebook, but not this open. I rarely have nice photos on there, the vast majority of them I look like Dawn French pre diet. As much as I love Dawn French. I am open about the fact that yes, you will see me running down the cheesecake aisle at Tesco (better cheesecake than anywhere else) like Gollum looking for the precious, and will status update about it. But I never over share too much on there.

Then I realised looking down my friends list, these people aren’t perfect either. Of the 300 odd on there, I have personally seen at least 12 of them roll about drunk in their own sick. I’ve seen three wee themselves. One on a national television programme. I know two of them have children their partners think belong to them but a DNA test would disagree. I know one of these people tried to fart discreetly at work, but the fart turned rebellious and followed through. This still makes me laugh, when I read the judgey posts from this Facebook friend. I’ve seen a bird use one for target practice. I’ve seen at least five get so drunk that they take home people so obviously riddled with chlamydia you can almost hear it whisper to you like the Horcruxes did to Harry Potter in the Deathly Hallows. So yeah I feel slightly better now I’ve realised that.

The feedback from some of my friends was amazing so thank you to every one that left a nice comment, it made an ice queen smile. I only had one comment emailed from this blog, from a reader that read ‘smelly bitch’ which made me laugh my head off because it’s not wrong haha. I think my three year old has found the address to this blog lol.

However the self doubt still crept in and I spent parts of the day wondering whether to edit it, or even take it down. I kept myself busy, went to see my god-daughter who was wearing a pink fluffy dressing gown so it was like cuddling a teddy bear. I resisted and went to bed, only to be woken up by my brother, who had found the smelliest of all stray dogs and was trying to talk me into adopting it. It is at times like this when, as much as I love that little prick, I think back to my parents thinking that it would be ‘unfair’ for me to be an only child and I must have a sibling, and think yeah thanks for that, we could have got a dog. A fragrant smelling, obedient dog. I’ve made several notes to get revenge when they are in their old age and their marbles are AWOL. Not that they still hold too many of them now, mental illness can run in the family lol.

So after he’d admitted defeat and left – to take said dog back to my mums, so I’m looking forward to finding his body parts tomorrow, I couldn’t sleep. So I made a drink, checked my emails and that is when a good day went bad. Not just bad, go back to bed, and stay there bad.

Back in 2010, in the midst of the worst episode I have ever been in, I was made to attend a day hospital for ‘assessment’. This was recorded as voluntarily but it wasn’t. The doctors had made it very clear it was this or they would section me. Even when I’m deranged I’m a know it all. So I made a point of detailing the finer points of the mental health act to try and show they’d not be able to section me anyway. Until I realised two things. First, two doctors would agree I need sectioning, and I had not helped my case by telling one he could be a look a like for Alan Carr. Secondly, despite being with Paul, legally my next of kin was my Dad. He had also had enough, and is from the generation where they do what the Doctor tells them, and mostly when it comes to me being off my box, my parents and Paul, quite rightly, follow the advice of the doctors and not the gobby lunatic. So it was part time funny farm or full time funny farm. Part time it was.

Now even when you have a mental illness, you can still hold the same stereotypes that the people who don’t have a mental illness hold about treatment facilities. It’s a funny farm, full time human zoo, they are all dangerous, it’s just like an asylum, you will never be employed again if you get sectioned, they throw their own poo around. So I was indignant upon arrival. Normally I’m quite opened minded, but bare in mind I also wasn’t well. So upon coming through the doors, and announcing, ‘oh right, lets get on with this, which window am I supposed to be licking then’ I suppose I wasn’t set to make friends. Not that I thought I wanted to be friends with this mob.

One girl who I’ll call Jasmine, laughed and told me that they only lick the windows on Tuesdays as that is when they are cleaned, and as the new girl I could have the toilet window. This made me laugh and feel very embarrassed at my attitude at the same time. So, I apologised. Which is something I never do. We then all got talking. I realised there were professional people in here. One was a lecturer of physics at a very well known university, almost all of them there were graduates. Most had families. Not that this should have changed my view, but as the only one there without even A Levels I realised in the outside world, I couldn’t compete with this people. But I was the only one who it even occurred to. They were all nice and open. Despite none of us being there because we were having a great time in our lives.

I realised for the first time in my life that I wasn’t alone. The experiences I had were not unique and in fact, I wasn’t even on the extreme end of the spectrum. Jasmine eventually showed me her scars from her failed suicide attempts. One on her neck from a skin burn when she tried to hang herself. The scars on her wrists. Even that she has a bi weekly prescription because she has overdosed so many times its not safe for her to have more than three days medication at a time. The shame I felt at my recent attempt went away. I realised that it wasn’t me, but the Bipolar that had made me do it. That I’m not evil, or selfish, but the chemicals in my brain go off kilter and I have a really shit time as a result. She told me it probably wouldn’t be the last time it happens, but we work through it. She gave me possibly one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard.

She said that life is a bitch to everyone, we all have demons that we fight. But she said with Bipolar, it’s like walking up a mountain. Every one struggles, but the pack on your back is five times the weight of everyone else’s. So you are likely the first one to fall down, and you will fall down most, but you will also pick yourself up more than anyone else and still finish with everyone else. Oh how I wish that last part were true.

We became really good friends. We kept in touch after I was let out for good behaviour. She had a family, a successful business and moved away. But we kept emailing and talking on the phone. She wont use Facebook as she likens it to emotional self harm. Her reasoning is that when you feel shit, or even well, watching everyone else advertise how wonderful their life it, puts pressure on you to make you life as wonderful as everyone else pretends it is. Plus it is never as wonderful as they make out. So we email, or even tweet (as you only have 150 characters to lie apparently).

What struck me when I looked back, is that I had shared more with Jasmine, who was a complete stranger in the first half hour of talking to her, than I had in five years with my friends and family. I  tried to work out why. Then I realised it’s because she was also struggling, so I had no fear of being judged or insulted. I knew she wouldn’t hold it against me. The same with the other 7-8 people I became close with. It is this fear, even among people you like, and know like you, that stops us sharing. That saying to someone I’m feeling down and I don’t know what to do, is like saying I’ve just shit my pants. You will admit to friends about being drunkenly sick, or spending too much money, or putting weight on, but not to feeling mentally unwell. Its ludicrous.

So I waited for a response from my good friend who I emailed over Christmas when I felt bad. Her answer to my bat signal that all was not well. We often did that for each other, support each other through the bad times. I have visited her in hospital, talked her down from several attempts, even helped her change her clothes and eat something when its been bad. She’s done similar for me. Then I got my answer. From her husband. She too had been unwell. My clever, funny, successful, beautiful friend had hung herself on the 2nd of January, and it was only when going through her emails, that he had found my new contact details to tell me. I phoned him and told him how sorry I was, and did the usual of ‘is there anything I can do’ when there very rarely is. He told me that the church she goes to, that she found so helpful, has refused to let her be buried in their churchyard, in the family plot, because she committed suicide and its consecrated ground. They don’t want to be seen as condoning suicide. For a group of people that like to give it ‘Jesus loves everyone’ and ‘love thy neighbour’ they can be right bastards.

I’ve decided to not go to the funeral. For a few reasons. Mainly because I think the family need some privacy and that they would prefer people go to the memorial service instead of the funeral. Secondly, I’m not visiting a church, and filling the collection plate of somewhere that is so unchristian and selfish. The family are the only ones being punished for their choice and I hope this place see sense. Thirdly, I’m sick of funerals. I would go to any funeral quite happily, because its a chance to say good bye and celebrate a life. But at 28 Jasmine had had no chance of life. She had barely started it. I’m sick of funerals for people who go well before their time. Funerals are for people at the end of a life, not the start and I’m sick of it. Moreover I’m sick of funerals for people who suffer so much they feel they have no choice but to end their life. Of the 7 people in our little part time funny farm club four are dead. One through cancer, but the rest through suicide. Any other death rate like this and there would be television events, red noses, cake selling etc. But there isn’t.

I don’t even want there to be. All I want, and the point of this highly embarrassing open blog is to get people to talk to each other. Myself and Jasmine, I feel, have saved each others lives on so many occasions over the years by supporting each other and being there. Trusting each other enough to be honest. I don’t mean to sound dramatic or flippant but that’s the truth. This is more effective than medication, or therapy, because the biggest risk factor is isolation.

One positive thing from my Facebook promotion of this shamefully self indulgent blog is the response from the lovely people on there. Who all said I was brave, and one who even shared it. Over Christmas I looked on Facebook, and thought if I died how many of these people would actually be  bothered. They would do the whole ‘RIP’ post that we all do online, and statuses and probably even turn up to my funeral at the crem, because I wouldn’t put my family through the row with the church so the crem can have the money for my service. But how many would actually feel sad. I’ve now realised more than I thought which is nice.

So in memory of Jasmine, and the countless others who have come to the end of their brave fighting of their mental illness I hope I can keep pushing people to talk to each other. To open up. Not in the horrendously public way I have to prove a point, but even over coffee, or prosecco, or even cheesecake. Talk to each other. Don’t be judgemental. Thanks to Jasmine, one of my life mottos is ‘if in doubt, don’t be a dick’, Make time for people. Don’t just put stupid statuses online that say you are there to talk, or mental health awareness statuses that you just click share. But actually ask someone, ‘are you ok, no bullshit, how are you? Pay it forward, if someone does something or says something nice that makes you feel good, do the same for someone else. You never know how much on nice comment online, or face to face could really help someone. I’m proof of that yesterday when I advertised this blog. Above all, put Facebook down and talk to each other. Less online interaction, more face to face. Be more honest on Facebook, that despite your well placed camera angle for that model looking photo, tell people you have a massive spot and have had a shit day.

For all the Jasmines out there, keep going, one foot in front of the other, one day or even hour at a time. No one likes a funeral, you will be missed and no matter how bad it seems there is always a way out. I’ll be a supportive Jasmine for anyone who needs me to. Like she was for me. I’ll miss her, but treasure the time we did know each other, and be forever grateful for the impact she had on me and others.

Take Care

Laura 🙂 x

 

 

 

 

Life lessons from a lunatic.

Hello

Today was a better day. I managed to get dressed. This is for the first time in about four weeks. I also managed to have a shower, this also is for the first time in about four weeks. I can almost feel the cringe people must feel from me going onto a public blog and admitting to the whole world that I, a fully grown mother with responsibilities has not showered, or changed my clothes in a month. Or brushed my hair. Or eaten more than a bowl of Weetabix in one day. I have not left my house in a month. I have actively avoided talking to friends or family. I have countless messages, emails and texts that I have not replied to. I have seen they are there, but had nothing to say. Well nothing to say that would not have dragged my loved ones down with me.

Welcome to the depression side of Bipolar. I’ll give you the guided tour. It’s not a glamourous affliction that people claim to have, to join in a trend they see among certain people to emulate celebrities. It is not a flippant remark when you’ve had a bad day, because your car won’t start and your boss is a bit of a dick. It’s not when a bad day turns good and then bad again, and you see people laugh ‘Oh I am so Bipolar’. It’s not when your jeans won’t do up after Christmas and you moan to your friends, ‘oh I’m so depressed my jeans won’t fit, I’d rather kill myself than go up a size’. It’s all engulfing misery, and numbness, and darkness. You have no energy, you are so tired all the time, that even changing your clothes feels like a marathon. You don’t care what you look like, or smell like, or that the world keeps spinning and bills need paying, and life goes on. Because for you it doesn’t. It stops. The biggest wish you have is that it would stop for good. That there is an end to this feeling of hopelessness. Forever. Depression is the mortal reality of hell on earth. The closest thing an Atheist gets to experiencing purgatory. It’s also the most self indulgent thing on earth. Because you can’t see past your own misery. You can’t consider the needs and feelings of other people, because you can barely give proper care to yourself.

J.K Rowling in her description of the Dementors in Harry Potter representing her depression was close to how I find it. Depression does suck out your soul, and your hope, and you feel like you’ll never feel happy again. Life is in black and white, muted with no sound and you can’t see the colour or hear the music anymore. TV programmes that make you laugh don’t, you can’t find joy in your children laughing or getting 10 out of 10 on their spellings, however much you might want to, because to you there is no joy in the world. Then you feel like the worlds shittiest mother on top. I have lost count of the amount of times over the holidays when I have looked at my children, and thought you deserve better than me. You didn’t ask for me as a mother. My biggest wish for them is that they get to 18 without me fucking them up too much, but hey I suppose that a wish most parents share. Or at least the honest ones anyway.

This is what I have been going though. Over Christmas of all times. A time when the kids laughing and getting excited is what I live for. Yet I could barely stay awake. I dreaded it, because the safe haven of my house, was not safe. Because I knew I would have visitors, and I knew that I would have to put on half a pretence that I’m ok. Fake a smile, try desperately to find the energy to talk and find conversation. Hope they understand what I’m saying because the joys of an increase in medication is the slurring, and loss of concentration. This is most fun when you are half way through a sentence and you forget what you are saying, so you just stand there and stare, and hope the person you have been talking to has followed enough of what you said to finish your own sentence off for you.

Today has been a better day. I am awake, I am showered, dressed, and almost human looking. Well as close as I get to looking like a paid up member of the human race, my hair covers my red horns, my scales are back under my skin and my usual resting bitch face is back. Which I have regardless of mood. I am just one of these people who even in a daydream has a face like Katie Hopkins at a weight watchers meeting. My youngest daughter said something earlier and I laughed. I cant remember the last time I properly laughed. I text some of my friends back and tried to brush over the fact I have been M.I.A for weeks now. At times I can be the shittiest friend going. I duck out at times when they need me. Instead of being honest and admitting how bad things have been, I try and brush over it and tell them I’ve been busy. Because the only thing worse than people knowing I have Bipolar, is me admitting I very rarely have my shit together. Like admitting I have bad days makes me dangerous to be around. My biggest fear is people thinking that because I’ve been unwell I’m not safe around their kids. I’ve experienced that before, being told I wasn’t invited to a wedding because I was recovering from an depressive episode and the unenlightened bride thought I could be a risk to kids ‘until her medication has settled’.

When I am depressed I sleep a lot. So the latest thing is that I am lazy. I take regular digs from people about always being asleep, ‘shes so lazy, all she does it sleep, its so selfish, don’t bother texting her shes still in bed’. I laugh it off, but its about time I give my head a wobble. Because the truth  of it is, this is cowardice on my part. Preferring people to think you are lazy, than admit you are mentally unwell, and that, combined with the side effects of your medication is why you sleep. I hate the stigma surrounding mental health, but I enforce it.

Which brings me rather neatly to the title of my blog, ‘life lessons from a lunatic’. Given the amount of new year resolutions I have watched people make that have already gone to the barren wasteland of broken promises, I haven’t made any. Well I made one,  which was to never make any. You don’t need a date to tell you to change what you don’t like in your life. If you know what it is that makes you unhappy then change it, it doesn’t need to be January for that to happen. My Bipolar makes me unhappy and there is no cure for it, so its here to stay. But I can change how I feel about my condition, even if I live with its symptoms. I have Bipolar, I’m not Bipolar. I’m not a victim but a patient. Its nothing to be ashamed of, so I’ll stop acting like I am ashamed. But instead of saying it, I’m going to do it.

This blog is the start. I’ll be honest about how much of an impact it has on me. Rather  than lie when I say, ‘I have Bipolar, but I haven’t had an episode in years’, or ‘Don’t worry if its bad, I just sleep’, or joke about having more medication than Boots, or that I would probably get away with murder because I’m Bipolar and watch as people laugh at a joke I made about something that isn’t funny. Because that minimising, minimises me every time I do it. I have lived with this condition for decades. I was only diagnosed in 2010, but I can remember feeling suicidal at 12. I tell others all the time ‘its ok to not be ok’ but I’m going to take my own advice and stop lying. Stop lying about why I haven’t responded to people, why I am not dressed, why I don’t want to go out, why I’m avoiding things/people, that I’m ok, have my shit together at all times, I’m super mum, super wife, super student. Its taken years for me to realise having Bipolar is just another layer. It doesn’t stop me being intelligent, or capable, or likeable, or a good person. I need to finally accept it.

This isn’t just unique to me or having Bipolar. Accepting your faults I think is the key to changing them. So you’re partial to a biscuit or ten, and like me, you are building an arse the size of a small tank. So what. The number on the scales isn’t going to tell you how much your family loves you, or how good you are at your job, how despite what you think about your weight, you actually have good cheekbones, or nice hair, or nice skin. It’s a part of you. You can change your weight, but change how you feel about yourself at the same time. Don’t punish yourself for your faults, reward your efforts to change them. So you ate 7 Jaffa cakes when you originally went in the fridge for a salad. (Shock horror, I don’t care what anyone says, I would rather eat gravel than salad some days, not just any gravel, gravel the neighbours cat had pissed on gravel). You stopped eating before you got to 10 Jaffa cakes. Tomorrow you might only eat 5. Small manageable changes, just stay committed. If you have off days, you have off days. Make your most important change to be kinder to yourself, the rest will follow. I will also be trying this so I’m not being all cheesy meme, we can all hate doing it together.

You hate your job (who doesn’t, working is rarely fun, unless you have a job on Top Gear, or are James Corden who spends his life singing, driving badly and nearly knocking celebs out with his arm gestures). It’s not like you can just stop doing it. But why do you hate it – your boss is a dick, it’s boring, you don’t like your loud smelly colleagues, the pay is shit, the customers are horrible (the saying the customer is always right, missed off ‘and usually a complete tosser’ at the end). Some folk have the joy of all that being true. Change it. Think about changing your job, retrain, spray your colleagues discreetly with Lynx, smile sweetly at said customers whilst imaging drop kicking them in the head, its not illegal if it stays in your imagination. Reward yourself with something small for every day you manage without committing mass murder. Then plan small ways to change it. But be kind to yourself. Accept that unless you like cardboard boxes and your local park, rent/mortgages have to be paid. It’s ok to hate your job, its not ok to do nothing about it.

So I’ve rambled on for nearly 2000 words. If only essays were as easy as random blog posts. I’ll keep you updated with how I get on, I promise with shorter updates. And more showers, less self pity and a bit more humour.

Take Care

Laura 🙂 x

 

The Ramblings of a Mad Woman.

Hello,

Welcome to the ramblings of a madwoman. No I am actually mad. Well to be more politically correct ‘I have Bipolar Disorder’. But if you are talking to certain members of my family, friends, or random dickheads online or on social media I am mad. Or ‘ a danger to society and the general public’ which was levelled at me during a disagreement with one uneducated, bulldog looking, advert for contraception. In hindsight, far from being offended, I quite liked that label – and have it on a mug, t-shirt and a personalised note pad. I had done no more to this individual than disagree with them on social media, but when the argument is lost, as well as the moral high ground, the only thing left they could do was ‘out’ me for being Bipolar. At the time that hurt more than the remarks about my weight, or the insults levelled about my home, or general appearance. However looking back my outlook has since changed. I’ll share why in this blog.

So why do I have a blog. Well I was asked to start one after yet another rant on my Facebook page, that several of my friends found hilarious, and told me to start a blog. So, what with it being new year, I thought why not. But in light of several events that have happened I thought that instead of using a blog as an excuse to rant (I have my facebook page for that) I would use it to share my truth with the world. Or more likely just me. I am not expecting anyone to stick with my ramblings, but if you have made it this far, I salute you. I promise my self indulgent musings will get more interesting, and a point to this will become apparent quickly I promise.

As I mentioned I have Bipolar Disorder. It is not something I hide, but nor do I share it openly. I am open if asked about it, but the vast majority of my friends or family do not know I have Bipolar, and they do not know the extent of what I go through sometimes. I am not ashamed of it, no more than I am ashamed of having brown hair or green eyes. I was born with the potential for this to develop, and I can help it no more than I can help my eye colour or hair colour. However it is time I got braver about being more open about it. I am a heartfelt believer in breaking the stigma surrounding mental health and it is about time I put my money where my mouth is so to speak. I want to share my experiences, not just for the benefit of whoever happens to be reading, but also for me. I am hoping this blog will be an outlet for me as well. I find writing helps me process things and make sense of events, thoughts and feelings.

So what can you expect from my ramblings. Well apart from being Bipolar, clinically obese (thanks for that one doc), sarcastic, and somewhat outspoken (not really selling myself here am I?), I am honest, occasionally funny (or so I’m told), definitely funny looking, a mother of four, a wife to a long suffering husband, a student at a demanding university, daughter, sister, friend and hopefully the inspiration for more people to be honest about their own struggles with mental health. If through my posts I help one person to feel a bit better about what they are going through then this will have been all worth it. Moreover, this blog is for me. An open online diary for myself to chart the ups and downs of this year that I thought I would share with you all.

I wanted to call this blog the diary of the unpaid, unappreciated and unmedicated, but to be honest it was too long to type. But essentially that is what this is. So my day to day events, my random musings, my effort to recover from an especially bad episode of depression, my attempt to lose the four stone I have put on since my medication was changed, my attempts to manage my house, my family, my studies and life in general, will all be posted here. As well as my unfiltered opinions on life, love and whatever happens to have pissed me off that day. Fair warning the only thing I love more in the world than cheesecake is my love of expletives. There will be a few. My mouth is as foul as my temper was when Trump won the US election. Or when the Conservatives won the election. Or Katie Hopkins when….well any given day really.

So hello, welcome and Happy New Year.

Laura 🙂 x