June update

I’m relatively stable at the moment, hence the reason I’ve not written anything here in a while. The sole reason for this stability is my meds. After all, I don’t have any other help or input – in this respect I’m where I was three years ago, before therapy and starting on quetiapine + fluoxetine. I am theoretically in the care of my GP though I never see my GP.

After having so much time off work last year (several months) my main objective this academic year was to have no time off at all. That’s how stubborn I am! But here we are, seven weeks from the end of the school year and I have 100% attendance.

It doesn’t mean I’m “better”. I’m not; there’s no cure for bipolar. No cure for anxiety. No cure for OCD. No cure for the dissociation (DID). There’s just medication; damage limitation.

I still, of course, get intrusive suicidal thoughts. I still don’t sleep well. Surely 550mg quetiapine + 20mg fluoxetine daily should be knocking me out all night? But no, I’ve not slept through the night in decades, if I ever did at all. My short term memory has taken a severe hit (I suspect some of this is memory lapses linked to the DID symptoms) though my long-term memory in many respects would put your average elephant to shame.

Quetiapine continues to function in making me fat. It’s a straight either / or choice with these meds: Fat or Mad. I’ve opted for the former, somewhat reluctantly.

There’s a blog piece to be written about the DID symptoms I’ve experienced through my life and I’ll write than when I’m able to collect those thoughts together.

 

Appraising my suicidal ideation and assumed methods.

1. Plough car into a suitable concrete wall somewhere on the M4:

Well, I’ve only just washed it, not to mention having T-Cut that scratch.

2. Take a shower after dark, drink copious amounts of alcohol, lie naked on lawn on a chilly night.

It’s a bit cold out there, and cosy indoors – what with the thick jumper and the central heating. And ‘Homeland’ is on in a minute.

3. Cut wrists.

That’s going to hurt, isn’t it? And there’ll be blood everywhere, I’ve only just started Spring cleaning.

4. Drink copious amounts of alcohol, swallow a few sleeping tablets. Jump off high building.

I don’t like heights and high buildings. They make me want to jump off. Oh…

5. Shoot myself.

Don’t have a suitable weapon. Nerf gun with foam ‘bullets’ borrowed from son probably not going to do the job to be honest, even at point-blank range.

6. Overdose of meds.

Couldn’t understand the document about quetiapine o.d. I found on Google – it was far too technical. Does it or doesn’t it?? Also, fluoxetine o.d. seems unlikely.

 

As Samuel Beckett put it: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday

 

 

 

Today, again, I’m not me. Today,

again, I see reflections of elsewhere;

else-one. Some other to be. Buzzing

with a particle pulse of happening,

sampling on another level, distant.

 

Withdrawn and imagining how the

smooth cut of a wet stem makes

the flower undone. I’m not here

today; something is, but not me.

I am that close to the atom, see?

 

 

10 tips

My advice, from experience:

  1. Allow yourself, wherever possible, to be not well. Some days are like that; in fact many days are like that. But it’s easy to feel guilty handing your day over to something outside your control. If you have a job, it’s even more difficult. But on those not well days, take it easy: watch TV for too long; don’t shower if it’s not essential (and when is it essential?); indulge, mindfully, in your drug of choice later in the day (thanks, I’ll have a kir or white wine).
  1. Get some sleep. Preferably at night. OK, so this is totally outside our control and I really don’t know what the answer for insomnia is. Mine is chronic and seemingly without reason. It used to be worsened by night-time hypomania but I’m medicated now.
  1. Speaking of which, always – always – take your meds. Don’t change the dose without consulting your psychiatrist / doctor. Follow your medication programme closely. And if you’re bipolar then why aren’t you on meds?!
  1. Exercise isn’t the be-all and end-all; sure, a little walk on a sunny day isn’t going to hurt you. I discovered quite recently that too much exercise can trigger hypomania. So before you decide to climb that mountain, take heed to allow plenty of time and be mindful the whole time that you – not your illness – are in charge.
  1. Treat yourself. Indulge in those treats that ease your moods. Could be music – those old favourite tunes – could be chocolate (tell me about it..), could be a glass of wine (go easy, young fellow!). Don’t let it be anything destructive; hypomania rules that part of you so stand up to it, show it who’s boss. In theory at least.
  1. If you must buy loads of crap, buy cheap crap. And no, that Harley is definitely not cheap, even if it is cheaper than a yacht. I bought four USB drives the other day, didn’t need any of them but I can handle a £20 hit and they’ll get used eventually. Maybe not in my lifetime, but eventually.
  1. Do what the Walker Brothers and Edith Piaf told us and have no regrets. Don’t obsess on things. Just learn from things.
  1. Try not to kill yourself; it leaves a hell of a mess and doesn’t achieve much. It also means you’ve lost.. and you’re not a loser are you?
  1. Talk about it. Preferably to someone with ears.
  1. Get a grip. Do what it takes to stay sane. Yes, of course it’s a battle. A daily battle. Focus on the endgame: not the battle but the war. Be who you are.

Teacher with bipolar disorder

I rarely post links to articles in the press, but as a teacher myself this story was important to me. Last year, beginning meds and therapy, I had almost 9 months off work. Since I returned to my teaching job at the end of last July I haven’t had a single day off. This is the result of great effort (and a lot of stubbornness) and I feel proud to have achieved what I have done. I’ve had little or no support from Management, including seldom if ever being asked how I am and if they can help in any way. I’m certain if I had my arm in a sling or a foot in plaster they’d be falling over themselves to assist. But of course you can’t (usually) see bipolar… so evidently – to them – it doesn’t really exist.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/teacher-bipolar-disorder-been-awarded-12519829

 

 

22 of them

Time passing fast, almost the end of January.

I’ve been pretty much discharged by my psychiatrist as I’m seemingly one of her success stories; the meds appear to be working. The fluoxetine is clipping the extreme lows, with Quetiapine helping it out and of course clipping the highs as it does so. Poor overworked Q!

I returned to work at the end of last July, just before schoool broke up for the 6 week summer break. And I’m still there, having not missed a single day so far. That’s how stubborn, some would say how strong, I am. I’ve had a lifetime, middle-50 years, fighting, struggling, but ultimately winning.

It takes concentration, a continual fight, to exist. Yes, that’s what it comes down to: maintaining existence.

My enemy (well, part of the pack) is still that damned intrusive suicidal ideation that looks for any glitch in the system, any gap atomically small. And says “hey, do it! Why wouldn’t you?”

Why wouldn’t I.

And I’m in this war alone; single for almost 2 years. Almost friendless, alone. I was pretty much discharged by my psychiatrist at my latest appointment in the shadow of the New Year. Now I really am on my own. Me and my meds. Featuring battles such as “fat or mad” – I continue to put on weight despite my best efforts.

I don’t trust the meds; it would be extremely foolish to do so. Madness still breathes and creeps inside me. I still don’t sleep. I’m sedated much of the time, I’ve stopped writing (poetry, fiction). Meds and me, we’re like that chess game in “The Seventh Seal”.