All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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31 Days of Bipolar: Day 19. What people need to understand about bipolar

Day 19: What don’t people without bipolar understand about people with it?

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People without bipolar have no understanding – and no way to understand – just how problematic and painful the mood swings can be.

It isn’t like the usual sway of emotions, the ups and downs of regular, hum-drum, normal life. The mood swings of bipolar are epic in nature; the highs extremely high and the lows extremely low. I don’t think anyone who isn’t bipolar can understand this. There is nothing to compare the highs and lows to as nothing comes close to the chaos of emotion that a bipolar person experiences.

The depression is more than unipolar depression; it is all-consuming in nature and leaves you wrecked, exhausted and unable to function. The mania isn’t just feeling a bit happy; it is feeling like you are a God, and nothing you do could ever be conceived as being wrong. Then comes the other states; the hypomania, which is like mania but not as pronounced, or the rapid cycling, which is a brutal state to be in as you don’t know which way is up and you’re being dragged left, right and center on a seemingly endless emotional roller-coaster.

Sure people can claim to understand the mood swings, they can claim to get it, but I really don’t think they do. I really don’t.

I also don’t think people without bipolar understand just how controlling these mood swings can be. It isn’t a case of just “getting over it” or “dealing with it”. It isn’t a case of just “ignoring it” or “pretending it isn’t there”. None of this works when it comes to a bipolar mood. The mood swings of bipolar are all-controlling; there is little you can do once you’re lost to the mayhem other than ride it out and hope to come out the other end relatively unscathed.

Some people think people with bipolar aren’t trying hard enough, and it is these people who need to understand just how severe the mood shifts of bipolar can be. Everyone with bipolar works there arse off every single day of their lives, they have to, otherwise the illness would consume them in an instant.

Bipolar people are strong – incredibly strong – and I think this, more than anything, is what people without bipolar need to understand.

What about you? What do you think people without bipolar don’t understand about people with it?


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Sunday Stealing: Very Much Questions Meme

After last weeks triumphant return to the world of Sunday Stealing, I’ve decided to make it a regular occurrence. So, welcome back to Sunday Stealing which originated on WTIT: The Blog. Here we will steal all types of memes from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent memes. Enjoy!

1. What was the last clothing item that you bought?

Due to my rather unfortunate financial situation, I am reliant on the disability pension. For reasons best known to the Australian government, this isn’t a rather large amount of money, in fact, most people who are on it are living substantially below the poverty line. As a result, after taking into account rent, bills and other essential items such as food, there is very little money left for luxuries such as phone credit and clothing. After all, who knew that clothing was a luxury item in Australia? Anyway, as I don’t walk around naked all day (be still your beating hearts), I do have some clothing and the last item of clothing I purchased was a T-Shirt adorned with a Pac-man decoration. A T-Shirt that has been well received by the few people in my life, as well as complete strangers, who stop me in the street to compliment my rather awesome (and only $6) T-Shirt.

2. If you could stay one age forever, what age would you choose?

One of the problems with being the victim of abuse is that, quite commonly, you become stuck at the age you were when the abuse happened. For example, victims of childhood abuse can appear quite immature in their adulthood as they become stuck at that emotional age. For me, although I am 36 in physical age, I am perpetually trapped at 27, as this was the age I had reached when the abuse I received was at its peak. As such, I would answer this question with a ‘not for me’, I’m afraid, as it isn’t at all fun being stuck at a particular age; I promise you.

3. When you say “lol”, are you really laughing?

In all honesty, I rarely, if ever, use the abbreviation “lol”. But if I were to use it, I would absolutely be laughing, for if I wasn’t, I would be lying. And lying, as I was taught growing up, is a very naughty thing to do.

4. What is the most interesting thing you’ve done in the past year?

I have been trapped in a vicious, bothersome and unruly depressive episode for the last year, so my life hasn’t been all that interesting. In fact, it’s been a constant battle to even get out of bed in the morning, let alone do something interesting or productive with my time. But, in order to answer the question, I would say blogging has been the most interesting thing I’ve done in the last year, with this post in particular being a stand-out.

5. If you started a business, what would it be?

I have always wanted to have my own book or DVD store. But with the advent of e-readers and streaming services, neither industry is particularly viable these days, so my dream of my own little emporium will probably remain just that, a dream.

bookstore

6. Do your friends/family/coworkers know about your blog?

I have always been totally honest to my family about my blogging activities. In fact, when I began this blogging journey some seven and a half years ago now, I informed my parents about it almost instantaneously. Since then I have told my friends (most of whom vanished upon reading about my mental health issues) and anyone who comes into my life, including support workers, counselors and psychiatrists. Some of whom took it upon themselves to read my words and further try to understand the slightly warped and twisted world in which I exist.

7. How long does it take you to write an average blog post?

I would say it would take me about an hour to write my average blog post. But there are times that I put a lot more effort into what I’m writing, so can take hours or even days, to find the correct words to get my message across. These posts tend to be better than the ones I whip up in an hour, but that doesn’t mean they’re read more than the ones which were quicker to write, which is marginally annoying, to be honest.

8. How do you keep up with the blogs you follow?

I have my favourite blogs bookmarked and subscribed to, so I can easily access them through my Firefox toolbar. Other blogs I keep up to date with via the WordPress reader feature, which has undergone some changes over the years, and is now slightly annoying to use, but use it I do.

9. What is your bedtime?

Pre-hospitalisation, my bedtime was anywhere between midnight and 2am. Post-hospitalisation, my bedtime has been anywhere between 10pm and 10:30pm. This is because I no longer get anything out of being awake and want to spend as much time in my bed as possible. I have depression to thank for that!

10. Introvert or extrovert?

Introvert; and proud of it!

introvert

11. What is your biggest wish?

To no longer be lonely. People tend not to understand how painful being isolated from society is, and even fewer people understand what it’s like to have no-one in your life, because most people tend to have at least one friend they can turn to. So yeah, if I had one wish, I would wish for the ability to talk to people, to make friends with people, and no longer have this crippling loneliness to deal with day-in, day-out.

12. What is the best job you ever had?

In hindsight, the best job I ever had was being the manager of a backpacker hostel in Melbourne. A job I left because I had become suicidal. Although I don’t miss it most of the time – mostly because of the fact I had become suicidal from working there – there are fleeting moments that I look back on that period with a song in my heart. I was good at the job and did some fantastic work there, which isn’t me being arrogant, just a rare moment of self-honesty.

13. Dog person/cat person/both/neither?

Cat person; I’ve never been a fan of dogs, but love (and respect) the independence and spirit of the humble feline.

14. If you had $1,000 to spend any way you wanted, what would you do with it?

I would probably head to the local clothes store and stock up on a variety of new (and not pre-loved) clothing options. Living beneath the poverty line isn’t fun, and I would love to be able to dress more the way I want to, rather than the way I’m forced to.

15. How do you “dress” your toast?

With butter and Vegemite; scrumptious!

vegemite

16. How do you feel about snow?

I love snow. It’s one of the things I miss most about living in Scotland. Back then, you could guarantee at least one decent snowfall that would have you rampaging around like a child making snow angels and hurling snowballs. But living in Australia, you don’t really get snow, and what snow you get, is pretty sodding pathetic.

17. What was the worst job you ever had?

Discounting paper rounds, which I don’t really classify as a job, I would probably say the worst job I ever had was being the manager of a backpacker hostel in Melbourne. However good I was at the job, and however much I am proud of the fantastic work I did there, working there turned me into a severely depressed, suicidal man…and that’s not a good thing. No it’s not.

18. What song can you not stop listening to?

19. Love your name or hate it?

The only thing I like about my name is that it’s the namesake of the patron Saint of Scotland. Other than that, I’m not overly fond of it. Magnus, on the other hand, I would be fond of that! :p

20. How did you choose your blog/twitter handle?

My blog handle (Addy) is basically a shortened version of my name. I’ve never liked Andy, so when someone started calling me Addy way back in 2006, I fell slightly in love with it and have used it ever since. Even though the person who christened me Addy turned out to be an emotionally abusive sociopathic narcissist. But I try not to hold that against her too much.


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31 Days of Bipolar: Day 18. Dear Big Pharma…

Day 18: If big pharma was actually listening, what would you say about bipolar meds?

medication

Dear Big Pharma,

So, what exactly was going through your minds when you created medication for bipolar? Were you actually trying to create something with so many side effects it would take a novel the length of War and Peace to list them all properly, or was that just a happy little outcome for you callous and heartless individuals?

I mean really, weight gain. You think this is an acceptable side effect for people with mental health issues? You do realise that many people who suffer from mental ill-health have self-esteem issues, don’t you? What do you think weight gain is going to do to their self-esteem? Do you seriously think it’s going to improve it? Of course not! It’s going to make it ten times worse you ridiculous individuals!

And suicidal ideation!? I am so pissed off with this particular side effect you’ve forced me to illustrate it with an exclamation mark and a question mark! At what point did you think it was a wise and noble idea to create a medication for someone suffering from depression that has a side effect that makes them more depressed and potentially suicidal. Do you not see the problem there? Really? Because most people who are forced to take this medication sees the problem quite clearly and these people are considered insane by large (and ignorant) portions of the greater population. So if they can see the problems inherent with your side effects, why can’t you?

As for side effects as serious as pancreatitis, I mean c’mon! No-one wants to spend three weeks of their life in a hospital bed, solely because they were taking medication that you deemed safe for someone to take. How is it safe when they end up in hospital for three weeks?

I refuse to believe there is nothing you can do about this side effect issue. Personally I think it’s a wonderful money-maker for you, forcing people to take medication to counteract the side effects of their initial medication; a situation I myself have been forced into in the past.

And while we’re at it. Does medication really need to be so expensive? Granted I can’t really complain about this as being on the disability pension and the holder of a magical pension card, I get my medication for $6.10 a script, but if I wasn’t, I’d have to remortgage my future house in order to afford one months worth of medication.

They’re tiny, almost insignificantly small, tablets; how much do they really cost to make? A few cents? A dollar? I’m willing to bet it’s nothing close to the price that you slap on these medications, the price that you force sick and needy individuals to pay in order to improve their quality of living.

You see we people afflicted with a mental illness have no choice about taking medication. It’s not something we do for fun, it’s not something we do to warm the cockles of our hearts. We have to take these medications in order to function as a healthy and happy individual. So we’re forced to pay for them. We don’t have a choice. But you know that, don’t you, you know you have a nice little captive audience to keep you merrily in business. Of course you do. But even so, I still believe you could do something about it, just like you could do something about your side effect con.

Okay. Mini rant over. You may return to ripping people off and making their lives a living hell. It is, after all, what you do best.

Regards,
Addy


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31 Days of Bipolar: Day 17. What if bipolar was a real thing?

Day 17: If bipolar was a real thing or being, what would it look, sound and behave like?

bipolar creature

An alternative, and slightly more artistic, interpretation of the theme.

I’ve never really been very good at these ‘visualize your illness’ exercises. Not because I’m not creative, but because I fail to see what good it can do. A mental illness isn’t a real, living and breathing thing, nor is it something that can be picked up on a CT scan or ultrasound. It is invisible. It cannot be seen. Only felt. So what is the point of visualizing your illness as a creature or being; it’s not going to help, it’s not going to change a damn thing.

But. In the spirit of answering the prompts in this challenge to the best of my ability, let’s see what I can come up with.

Would bipolar be a monster? All slime and fangs and grotesque, dribbling orifices? Would it be a chirpy little woodland-esque creature? All fur, blinking eyes with a cute squeaky voice? Or would it be something from the realm of mythology? A hybrid animal with the body of a lion and the head of a hawk?

No.

Bipolar would not be any of these things.

Bipolar would be a shape-shifter.

In depression mode bipolar would be a burrowing creature; all hardened scales, tough claws and unblinking, blind eyes. Imagine a mole the size of a wombat. A creature destined to spend its days deep beneath the earth, living a solitary, lonely life. A life so unremarkable that no-one has even thought to name the creature. It just exists. Seen fleetingly when it rises to the surface to forage for bugs to eat or grass to nibble on.

But in manic mode bipolar would be something else entirely; a humanoid with the physique of a supermodel, all hardened abs, rippling biceps and a long, flowing mane of hair. It’s flesh would be impenetrable. It’s skin immune to anything man-made, including the mythical silver bullet of werewolf slaying fame. It would be a creature of tremendous intelligence, highly manipulative and driven by a firm, unwavering belief in its own superiority. Never before has a creature existed as perfect as this. Physically, mentally and emotionally it is unlike anything that has ever existed. Unique.

But when it least expects it, it can change back to the burrowing, nameless creature that is rarely, if ever, noticed. It’s life once again devoid of point; endlessly burrowing through the earth in its quest to remain as unseen and irrelevant as it believes, deep down, that it is.

Such is the heady life of the bipolar creature; nothingness and solitude one day, perfection and partying the next.


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Roadblocks to Recovery: #4. Home is where the heart is

Being homeless is more than just being without a roof over your head. It is being without comfort, without security, without love. It is being without any of the things that most people take for granted in life. When you’re homeless, your life becomes about one thing; survival. It is about finding food to provide sustenance, it is about finding water to imbibe, and it is about doing whatever you can to get through each day and each long, never-ending night. Some homeless people sleep with knives and/or clubs to offer a layer of protection should someone attack you in the night. Some homeless people have the emergency services on speed dial on their phone, just in case the daily onslaught of abuse you receive from those more-fortunate than you turns nasty.

I know this because I was one of those people. For years of my life my home was a park just south of the Melbourne CBD. I slept with a stick that I wrenched off a tree; I had the emergency services on speed dial. My ‘home’ was a patch of grass; no comfort, no security, no love. It was, without question, one of the most brutal periods of my life – but it was a period that taught me something; it taught me the value of ‘home’.

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My ‘home’ was a patch of grass beneath a tree; no comfort, no security, no love.

Ever since I moved into my unit in February 2012, I have felt grateful for having a roof over my head. I’ve felt grateful for not having to sleep with a stick digging into my ribs and for having some semblance of security and comfort around me. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I’ve felt gratitude of the like most people couldn’t even conceive of, because my life has been, almost literally, in the gutter. But this gratitude still doesn’t detract from the fact I don’t – and have never – felt at ‘home’ where I live. It has always been a case of ‘the place I sleep’ or ‘the place I live’ rather than home, and that is because I know – and have always known – that my heart isn’t in it. And home, for me, has always been intrinsically linked with heart.

When I was growing up in Portlethen, on the east coast of Scotland, I liked where I was living. I felt at home in our house. I felt at home traversing the various streets and alleyways of the town. And I felt at home playing amidst the various brooks, burns and open spaces the township had to offer.

When I was growing up in Caldicot, on the south coast of Wales, I didn’t like where I was living. I hated the house in which we lived. I disliked the various streets and alleyways of the town. And I rarely, if ever, played amidst the various fields, parks and open spaces the township had to offer.

So it comes as no surprise to me that the latter – Caldicot – is where my mental health began to deteriorate. Sure, my age had something to do with it, but I have always linked my lack of ‘home’ to my increasing depression and anxiety. Being somewhere so devoid of comfort, so devoid of security, so devoid of love, can have a devastating effect on ones mental health.

After living in Caldicot for the better part of my teenage years, I finally realised that I was able to assert my adulthood and move somewhere that I actually liked. Within months of this decision I was back in Scotland, this time in the north, living in the city of Inverness. And I found almost instantaneous solace amidst the river, islands and back streets of this fair city. Within minutes of being there I felt ‘at home'; I could feel a weight being lifted from my soul, I could sense my depression easing, I could sense my anxiety waning. Years of pain that Caldicot had inflicted on me were being undone, simply from living somewhere that I was passionate about, somewhere that provided me the safety and warmth that I crave from a home.

And herein lies one of the fundamental problems that is plaguing my hopelessness today; however grateful I am for the roof that I have over my head, I cannot deny that it does not – and has never – felt like home. Not the unit that I call home. Not the town that houses that unit. None of it stirs my soul. None of it lights a fire in my heart. All this town is doing is slowly depleting my strength. It has become, over the last few years, a major trigger; impacting on my depression, PTSD and anxiety in ways that I could never have comprehended when I ended up here during my homelessness.

I need to be somewhere I feel passionate about; I need to live somewhere that I feel comfortable. It is as important to me as the most necessary components of human life; food, water and love. If I’m not happy where I live, then it stands to reason, that I’m not going to happy within myself.

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However grateful I am for the roof that I have over my head, I cannot deny that it does not – and has never – felt like home.

So what can be done about it.

Firstly, I need to make the difficult decision that has been plaguing me for over a year, a decision that I wrote about just last week; I need to decide whether or not I want to make my future Australia, or whether I’m going to return home to the UK. Both options have their advantages, both their disadvantages, and I have been veering between the two for the last several months. Although I know no-one can make this decision for me, I’m still open to hear your opinions and advice, given this is such an important and life-altering decision.

But until I make that choice, there are other things I could do to improve my sense of home:

Secondly, I could invest some money into decorating my unit. I’m not talking about painting and wallpapering, I don’t think my lease would allow such drastic alteration to the premises. I’m talking about fitting it with furniture and decoration that I have chosen. The only furniture I currently have was donated to me by a charity when I first moved in. They gave me a bed, a table and chairs, and a couch. I had no say in the style of furniture, I had no choice in the matter, I was just grateful for the help. But now I want that choice; I want to live somewhere that looks the way I want it to look.

Thirdly, I need to find the ‘love’ that makes a home a home. And this is where the social anxiety has an impact. I know that if I had friends, and/or a relationship, my sense of home in both my unit and the town in which I live, would improve. Love always has that effect. But to find those friends and/or a relationship whilst suffering from social anxiety is all but impossible, so I need to improve that, in order to improve my sense of home.

Fourthly, I could move to somewhere else in Australia. The only reason I moved to this town was because I couldn’t find accommodation in Melbourne. I didn’t choose this town. I didn’t opt to live here. I just ended up here because I had nowhere else to go. So moving somewhere that was my choice; moving somewhere that I wanted to be, may be the best thing for me. But this opens up a whole kettle of fish in regards to my finances that I’m not sure I would be able to deal with, for the last thing I want is to be homeless again. I may have survived it once, but that doesn’t mean I want to end up back in that park with a stick digging into my ribs night after night.

Fifthly, well, I can’t think of a fifth option right now so I’ll have to leave it there.

Unlike the previous installments of this series, this is a problem area of my life that I do have some semblance of control over. I could decide to leave this town tomorrow – and probably be happier for it – but the constant threat of homelessness prevents me from doing so. I know I need to improve my sense of home, I know that this would improve my hopelessness and other mental health issues, I just need to make some difficult choices.

Previous installments in ‘Roadblocks to Recovery':


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Sunday Stealing: RaNdOm Meme

Welcome back to Sunday Stealing which originated on WTIT: The Blog. Here we will steal all types of memes from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent memes. It’s been quite some time since I last ventured into the realm of Sunday Stealing, but I thought now was a good time to throw myself back into this wacky and random world. Enjoy!

willowoz

(1) Paying homage to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

1. If you were to attend a costume party tonight, what or whom would you go as?

I would write “God” on a white sticker and adhere it to my chest, thus saving a fortune on costume rental and paying homage to Buffy the Vampire Slayer all at the same time.

2. What are your choice of toppings on a hamburger?

I rarely if ever eat red meat, but on the extremely rare occasions that I do, my hamburger would be topped with a fried egg, lettuce and cheddar cheese. And I would absolutely not, under any circumstances, have beetroot on my burger because beetroot is, quite honestly, disgusting.

3. You are chosen to have lunch with the President. The condition is you only get to ask one question. What do you ask?

If I were to have lunch with the American President, I would ask him what his plans are for when he’s no longer in office? Is he going to wile away the hours playing Xbox or do something more productive with his time? But if I were to have lunch with the Australian Prime Minister I would ask him why, as minister for women, does he hate women? Which he clearly does!

4. It’s your first day of vacation, what are you doing?

My first day of any vacation is spent exploring the location I have chosen for my vacation. I will arm myself with a camera and nonchalantly stroll around the city – or countryside – taking random photos of buildings, landscapes and people. I will acclimatize myself with the geography of the area and do whatever it takes to feel ‘at one’ with my vacation spot. Sometimes I will visit the local museum or art gallery, to get a feel for local culture, and I will always purchase a book that was written by an author of the location I’ve chosen for my holiday. That’s just the way it is.

5. What is your concession stand must-have at the movies?

I abhor anyone who spends the entire duration of a movie gorging themselves on candified food products, so will never, under any circumstances, purchase food to eat during a movie. If I did, I would be a hypocrite, and that is one thing I am not.

6. Which do you dislike most: pop-up ads or spam email?

My Gmail account works wonders in keeping spam email at bay, but pop-up ads annoy the bejesus out of me whenever they appear.

7. What do you think Captain Hook’s name was before he had a hook for a hand?

I think his name was Captain Jonathan Magnus Hook; which is ironic, considering what was going to befall his hand.

8. Rock, paper, or scissors?

Rock. Just because.

9. Let’s say a brick fell on your foot, and your kid is standing right next to you, what is your ‘cleaned up’ swear word?

I don’t have any children, so I would happily swear like a sailor if a brick was to fall on my foot, but on the hypothetical circumstance that I did have children my cleaned up swear word would be: fooglestumps, because it’s a word that doesn’t actually exist so could, theoretically, be the ultimate swear word.

10. Which is worse, being in a place that is too loud, or too quiet?

Easily a place that is too loud. My social anxiety causes me to hate noise with an absolute passion. Sometimes my neighbour plays music so loudly that I can hear every note, every beat and every lyric as if I were standing next to the speaker and it drives me completely bonkers. Similarly, if I’m trapped in a location populated by loud-talking individuals, my anxiety levels will go through the roof. So a quiet place is easily preferable for me. Plus, can a place really be too quiet, I think not!

11. What is one quality that you really appreciate in a person?

Honesty.

12. At the good old general store, what particular kind of candy would you expect to be in the big jar at the counter?

Kola Kubes; because they were a particular favourite of mine as a child and I miss them dearly.

kola kubes

(12) Kola Kubes; a particular favourite of mine.

13. What is the most distinguishing landmark in your city?

A water tower. It’s pretty nondescript and unremarkable. Although it’s no longer used as a water tower, these days it houses a shoe repair shop, but it is what it is.

14. Everyone hears discussions that they consider boring. What topic can put you to sleep quicker than any other?

Anything that revolves around Kim Kardashian puts me to sleep. In fact, anything that revolves around the lives of so-called “celebrities”, bores me to absolute tears.

15. How many times did it take you to pass your drivers test?

I have never passed my drivers test, but I did take it twice when I was younger, and should have passed on the second attempt but my examiner was a complete tosser and failed me for no discernible reason.

16. If you had to have the same topping on your vanilla ice cream for the rest of your life, what topping would you choose?

I tend not to have topping on my ice-cream, so I’m not sure what I would choose. Crushed biscuit perhaps, for a bit of texture.

17. What food item would need to be removed from the market altogether in order for you to live a healthier, longer life?

Potatoes. I am obsessed with them.

18. You are offered an envelope that you know contains $50. You are then told that you may either keep it or exchange it for another envelope that may contain $500 or may be empty. Do you keep the first envelope, or do you take your chances with the second?

I am bipolar, so of course I would risk the second envelope, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself!

19. If you had to choose, which would you give up: cable TV, or DSL/cable internet?

I have neither, so you can’t miss what you don’t have.

20. What is your highest level of education?

My highest level of education is a certificate course, which would be TAFE for Australians and god-knows-what for Americans. Hopefully this will change, however, as I am considering venturing off to university later in the year.

21. How much is a gallon of gas in your city? What was the highest it’s been?

I don’t drive, so to be honest, have no real idea. Why retain information that you have no use for?

22. What kind of lunch box did you have as a kid?

I honestly don’t remember, but knowing me, it was an Indiana Jones themed lunchbox because Indiana Jones is completely awesome!

23. What would you rather have, a nanny, a housekeeper, a cook, or a chauffeur?

From those options, it would be housekeeper. When I’m in a depressive episode (which I’m currently in) housework is the last thing I want to be spending my life doing, so having someone keep the place spick and span would be quite wonderful. And may actually improve my mood!

24. Would you rather be trapped in an elevator, or stuck in traffic?

I hate elevators. And I mean hate with a fiery intense passion. I will do whatever I can to never venture into one, even if that means taking several hundred flights of stairs, so being trapped in one would be one of my worst ever nightmares!

elevator

(24) Being trapped in an elevator would be one of my worst ever nightmares!


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The hope that tomorrow will be better

anxiety

So far today has been a day that could be best described as ‘not good’ but most aptly described as ‘effing awful’. It all started yesterday afternoon when I had an appointment with my support worker. Usually they’re fairly uneventful occasions that see us discuss how my life has been (crap) and what could be done to improve it (pretty much anything). But yesterday she decided to assault me with dozens of questions about my anxiety, how it makes me feel and what can be done about it. After two dozen rapidly fired questions I started to dissociate and, as such, was totally non-present throughout the rest of the appointment. In fact, after that twenty-fourth question, I have no memory of what was being discussed at all. All I can remember is sitting on a cloud watching an overweight person speak monosyllabic statements at someone who seemed to be completely unaware of the mental health crisis that was unfolding before them.

I gained nothing from the appointment. In fact, I left in a completely anxious daze that saw me suffer a panic attack in the supermarket within ten minutes, a panic attack that consumed my being and left me, quite literally, a dribbling creature on the floor. By the time it took me to gather myself together and leave the supermarket with a shred of decency, I knew my day was over. It usually is when I suffer a panic attack in the open. It took me nearly forty-five minutes to walk home (a journey that usually takes me twenty) and when I finally crashed in through the back door I ended up lying on my back staring at the ceiling for some two hours, desperately trying to calm myself down and enable me to function at least half as much as a normal person.

Suffice to say, I didn’t, function as a normal person that is. I spent the rest of the evening cowering on the couch with feelings of high anxiety, unable to watch DVDs, unable to listen to the radio, unable to do anything other than my level best not to have another panic attack. Eventually I grew tired of the couch and retired to bed, where I could at least curl up in the shelter of the doona, and slowly drifted off to a fitful, nightmare laden sleep.

Upon waking up this morning I was still overwhelmed with feelings of high anxiety. In fact, they have followed me throughout everything I’ve tried to do today. This morning I tried to watch a movie (Lethal Weapon) but found myself unable to concentrate for longer than five minutes, so switched it off and stared at the wall instead. This afternoon I tried to watch a different movie (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) but again found myself unable to concentrate for longer than five minutes, so switched it off and stared at the ceiling instead. Realizing that I needed to do something (anything) I switched onto my blog and tried to write something (anything), but found myself all but unable to focus on the words, and my fingers stumbled on the keyboard so greatly that I was mistyping letters every few seconds. Eventually – after some sixty minutes – I managed to complete a blog post that felt, for the most part, like I was pulling my own teeth.

Which brings us to now, and another blog post, another teeth pulling session, and another attempt to do something with my day so it isn’t a complete failure. Even if I could write one sentence without mistyping a letter it would be some small victory in a day devoid of them. All my usual coping mechanisms – from distraction to grounding exercises to mindfulness – have done nothing to quell the anxiety, have done nothing to quench the overwhelming feelings of depression, desolation and ineptitude that have consumed me today. Even my favourite musicians – Paul Mounsey, Serena Ryder, Runrig – have been unable to soothe my soul today.

All because I allowed myself to become overwhelmed during an appointment yesterday afternoon with someone I trust, someone I actually like. Why I became so overwhelmed is the reason I’ve been so anxious, because I have no true explanation for it, one minute I was present – the next I was dissociating like a fiend, my brain doing whatever it could to protect me from the onslaught of emotions that were attacking me, an onslaught that has continued and ruined yet another day of my so-called life.

So all that is left is to finish typing this post, publish it to the world-wide web, and then somehow scrape myself together some dinner before once again retiring for the night with the hope that tomorrow will be better. That’s all I have left these days, the hope that tomorrow will be better, which it usually isn’t, especially as this vicious depressive episode continues, especially as anxiety continues its relentless quest to consume my soul.

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