New Site: Talking Mental Illness

Hi everyone,

Just a reminder to follow me on my new site: http://www.talkingmentalillness.com

This is my managed wordpress blog. I write the same things but the lay out is much better and it is much easier to navigate.

I also have a new website based on my blog: http://www.talkingmentalillness.co.uk

Please check them out 🙂

Thanks,

Michaela

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A Bad Place To Be

Dear Reader,

I have to warn you now, this post is pretty intense. But this is me, with my guard down being totally open and honest. This blog is about my illness and this is a part of it- the gruesome side- which I won’t hide. I know so many others go through this and people ought to know that they’re not alone, so I hope this will help someone in some way.

This is another excerpt from my diary. I wrote it last summer when I went through a particularly bad patch with my bipolar. I had been manic and psychotic for weeks before crashing into a suicidal depression.

I begged the mental health services for help but I never received it so here I describe my pain and frustration.

“…the fact that you are asking for help destroys your very chance of surviving.”

Well everything has gone horrifically and disastrously wrong lately. Mania has left and depression has arrived. It’s still here. I have tried and tried so desperately to get help, only to have it thrown back in my face time and time again. Not one ‘professional’ person has listened to me, and as for the Crisis Team… I would have to dedicate an entire page to talk about how useless they’ve been.

The only one person that has taken me seriously was a woman on 111. I had dealt with them four or five times already only to be passed onto the Crisis Team every time, until my friend phoned them last night out of concern when I kept repeating that I was going to kill myself, I had a plan of how and when and knew what to write in the note. That woman then called me and I spoke with her about how I was feeling and she sent an ambulance with the view that I should be admitted to hospital. What actually happened is practically unbelievable.

Two men came. One of them had been to my house several times before because we went to school together and apparently we used to get drunk together, but I can’t remember much about my drinking days. So that made it even more embarrassing and awkward. He didn’t really say anything, understandably.

The other guy, however, had plenty to say which made me feel so much more alone and helpless. As most of the people I have spoken with said: “you sound fine”. It is a raging stereotype to assume that someone with bipolar is going to be angry/swearing/hysterical/inarticulate when they are feeling like they want to die inside. I don’t know why I do it, but I can’t seem to help it, I hold back the tears (if I haven’t run out of them) and act with manners. I guess I am doing that now. This obviously works against me. He said my main problem is that I want help and I realise I am not myself. Apparently you have to think you are being normal and yet running the streets naked to merit help. So they LEFT. They left me suicidal and it is some sort of miracle that I am sat here now writing this.

Maybe when I’m dead I will finally get their attention.

I am so done with all of this. I truly hate my life. I of course had some terrible times when I lived away from here, studying, but this place is cursed. I grew up here for so many years and now I am back I would prefer to be anywhere else, just not here. The mental health team don’t even do their job. The general consensus is that the Crisis Team are useless everywhere, but here they are vile.

I got told by a mental health ‘professional’ today that- essentially- I was wasting their precious time. That they have ‘limited resources’ and I am just not mental enough to access them.

It makes me wonder if someone else had called someone- anyone- when I was manic, especially during the psychosis, because during the hyperactive happiness I had no idea I was unwell, for ages. But of course you don’t ask for help then, why would you? You feel good. So you crash into a suicidal depression and suddenly it’s not enough to want to die. No, the fact that you are asking for help destroys your very chance of surviving.

I’m sure there have been enough deaths around here related to unresponsive mental health workers, and even 111, so one more may actually help them to get a grip and start listening to the right people, not the ones that get naked and pour paint on themselves- they get sectioned easily- the ones who try to save themselves to try and be unselfish, thinking about people that might actually care.

There is a certain amount of ‘trend’ that seems to surround this illness. I have met people virtually jumping at the chance of gaining the bipolar label. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the label without what comes with it, in reality?

I am never stable for long. I don’t know who I am anymore. I act so insanely and often promiscuously when I’m manic that when I come back down a bit I feel intense shame and remorse. A lot of the time I don’t even remember what I have said and done during the madness. No one wants to be around me or even talk to me when I’m that way. I do try to talk to people when I’m depressed- like now- but I just annoy and/or depress them too. I am never talking to any mental health worker ever again.

I have a long record of dangerous manic episodes, hallucinations (the last time I saw giant breathing Chinese rugs hovering over me), I’ve jumped in front of buses, tried to jump in front of the tube. I’ve gone to the beach at 3am in January and gone swimming naked; I’ve started fights with gangs. I have taken overdoses more times than I can remember, often on hundreds of pills, I have relapsed on alcohol over and over and over, I am an expert at self-harm and I almost did a fantastic job of slitting my wrists.

I told everyone this over the last couple of days. It doesn’t make an inch of difference to them. Why would they care if I died? I am the minority. They don’t know me.

There is an Oasis lyric that goes “…I’m gonna leave this planet. You know I would stay but I just can’t stand it.”

I have had far too much of this life to hang on.

I’m sorry if I have been too well spoken today. Who ever thought that being too articulate could be the death of me? It has quite a ring to it…

Me Vs Pro-Ana

Here I have written some of the sayings that ‘inspired’ me to be ‘strong’ and not eat when I was very unwell with my eating disorder. It wasn’t easy to write this, because it brought back a lot of memories and reminded me of what motivated me to keep going when I was already very weak.

I have written a few pro-anorexia quotes and underneath (in bold) I have written my personal response to them…

‘Nothing tastes as good as thin feels’

We are designed to eat food, that’s why it tastes good

‘Go stand in front of the mirror, still want to binge?’

If you eat a healthy, balanced diet you won’t feel the need to binge

‘Starving is an example of excellent will power’

Anorexia does not make you strong; it is an illness. Fighting it makes you strong.

‘Fat hangs on your bones like a parasite’

A bit of fat is healthy, we need it to keep us warm and for women to have children

‘Hunger hurts, but starving works!’

Starving yourself eventually leads to death; it doesn’t ‘work’

‘Giving in to food shows weakness. Be strong and you will be better than everyone else.’

Hunger exists for a reason; we need to eat to live

‘Keep calm and stop eating until they take you to the hospital’

Do you want to die?

‘Calories will never make you happy’

Food releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy

‘Unless you die, keep going!’

If you keep going, you will die eventually

‘Pretty girls don’t eat’

There are more people on the planet without anorexia than those with it; they are all beautiful in their own way

‘You don’t NEED food’

Without food, we starve to death

‘Starving makes you strong’

It takes a great deal of strength to overcome anorexia

‘When you start to feel dizzy and weak, you’re almost there’

It is not normal to feel dizzy and weak, that is a sign of your body giving up

‘You have to work to look good’

There are other, healthier ways of staying slim other than starving yourself

‘Eating will NOT make you happy’

When you get well, you will come to enjoy food

Expectations And Disappointments

Dear Reader,

The (once more) long awaited day is over.

I just got back from seeing the consultant to review the case of my health, not expecting too much but still had my hope destroyed, yet again.

He said he ‘wasn’t surprised’ that my colonoscopy came back clean, although he should be because he was the one who diagnosed me with colitis the last time I saw him.

His current diagnosis is Irritable Bowel Syndrome, to which I say RUBBISH. I know several people with IBS who all live normal lives; I am far too ill to have it and it alone.

At one point he ended his sentence with ‘I mean, seriously?!’ in a sarcastic tone which was very rude and inappropriate coming from a medical professional.

In summation, he had no sympathy, no empathy, he was rude, he treated me with no respect, he didn’t take me at all seriously and, quite frankly, he was sociopathic.

He wants me to stop taking all my medication; the ones which help with the immense pain and prevent me from going to the toilet 20 times a day; the ones which give me the ounce of a life that I have left. Instead, he advises paracetamol, as if I haven’t tried that already, as if it even touches me.

So I now have to spend a week or two detoxing off of the tramadol and codeine so that I don’t have to go through the intense withdrawals like the last time when I suddenly stopped them before the test.

Just in case he’s right, I’ll have to cut most things out of my diet even though I’m already vegan and often don’t want to eat anyway, because in my brain I’m still anorexic, so I have to really like something to eat it.

He was wrong once, so he is more than likely to be wrong again, at least in my opinion. He should be acting ‘as if” and doing all tests available to rule out anything more serious, but of course that would cost a lot of money so instead he’s doing nothing bar a blood test.

So I’m back to square one, back to the pain and misery like before I went on the medication.

I fully intend on visiting another hospital and getting a second opinion and I will insist that either an MRI or an endoscopy is done.

Wish me luck all…

Michaela

Back In The Right Place

This piece is taken from my diary, when I had just moved back to Canterbury (where I am now) from my parents’ and finally got the help I needed from my old psychiatrist, while I had been begging for help all summer from another (useless) mental health team…

Dear Diary,

Reading back another diary entry I wrote a few months ago, I realise how much things have changed since then. Although I am still consistently rapid cycling, I am finally getting the help I have asked for and needed for so long. It actually feels like some sort of a miracle to be writing this as I honestly didn’t believe I would survive the summer (quite literally).

I never did get any help from the people where I was staying before, where the severe episodes began in the summer. I felt so lost and helpless and I had no faith that things would ever change. Due to a string of random and unexpected events I wound up living back here, in the city where I went to university, with a boyfriend I never anticipated would become such a large part of my life.

I have been living back here for three months now and unfortunately I cannot tell you that my terrible changes in mood have improved, in fact they have probably become worse. It is like I am two different people; one moment I am bouncy and happy and somewhat annoying with my hyperactivity and constant drive, while the next I am saying that I hate the world and everyone in it- myself more than anyone- and thinking of ways to hurt myself badly or end my life. I change so quickly that people around me can’t tell which bits are me and which are the illness (I don’t know myself a lot of the time).

Although my moods are not changing quite as quickly as in my last episode, the changes are still extreme and confusing for both myself and others. This last week I have experienced more depression than hypomania/mania which is unusual for me but I have been physically ill which does seem to at least put a dampener on my moods.

Anyway, the most promising and important part is this:

After one crazy night outside of reality (described in my blog post ‘Looking Back: A Bad Episode) I contacted my old mental health team. At first I was annoyed that I didn’t even receive a phone call from my CPN having told the receptionist the nature of my problems. However a week later I was given an appointment with my original psychiatrist who diagnosed me many years ago and helped me through so much when I lived here before.

After my experiences back at my parents’ (with the local mental health team there) I cannot begin to tell you what a relief it was to see him again. I will never take for granted or under appreciate a decent psychiatrist again. I had pinned so many hopes on that appointment due to my desperate state and I worried that I would only be let down, after all bipolar is no exact science and no medical professional owns a magic wand. But he listened, he empathized and he did not judge me. He took action; this I had been waiting for a very long time.

The plan now is to switch quetiapine for olanzipine (staying also with lithium and an increased dose of lamotrigine). I have been on the maximum dose of quetiapine for quite some time now but it has stopped having any effect on my sleeping pattern and it is clearly not helping with my rapid cycling moods. Apparently olanzipine is better for rapid cycling and- having been on it before- I remember that it is a strong sedative so perhaps I will someday be able to sleep again (it has now been 5 days since I got any sleep). I took zopiclone (a strong sleeping pill) with the quetiapine in the last fortnight for around ten days which did do the trick but we all know you can’t take that forever.

I had not planned on writing this much but I’ve had so much going on in both my outside life and inside my head that I’ve not known who to talk to about it all, I worry that I drive the few people in my life I have close to me totally mad.