The next nine days.

This is the process for being ‘ill’ and / or ‘in crisis’ in the UK today. I have in the past been told that, if necessary, I am to go to Casualty or ring 999 and ask for an ambulance. As I don’t think I could possibly cope with the wait of several hours for either (assuming either of these would be interested).

My GP surgery has changed the rules for seeing a doctor. Before last month you could turn up at the door for opening time at 8am then wait with the rest of the queue until a GP is free.  Or you could try to book an appointment over the phone; often there would be none free for the next 2 weeks. If there was an appointment free it would invariably be 2 weeks away.

I have a number for the mental health team. Referral appointments for a psychiatrist have always been up to 2 months away.

To reiterate, if I am suicidal and exhibiting other signs of crisis relating to my bipolar / anxiety / OCD I must wait a fortnight to see a doctor.

I have already self-certified myself for having a week off work just before the half term break last week. Which means I must go to work tomorrow or I won’t be paid. I am nowhere near being well enough, mentally (and physically – because mental illnesses have their own physiological friends), to do my job at the standard I have set for myself. That is, as well as anyone else there who doesn’t have a ‘severe mental illness’ such as bipolar disorder.

Technically, I shouldn’t be driving while I am ill, either.

When I do see a GP in 9 days time there will only be two options, because talking therapy is never on the cards: change my meds; sign me off work for x amount of weeks.

Having spent three years trying to get along with quetiapine, Epilim and fluoxetine I am not about to spend the next few months going through withdrawal- and side effects. And I don’t want to put the burden on other staff to cover me in work, even though my manager is very empathetic and helpful (within the realms of employment law). I never think of myself as having a ‘disability’, though this is exactly what I have.

So.. I only have one option, and that is to turn up for work tomorrow, suicidal or not. I am suffering from fatigue, I find it almost impossible to get out of bed, I am trembling, I am confused, I sometimes see shadows, and I continue to put on weight – which makes me feel even more worthless.

Anything could happen in the next nine days. And it probably will.

 

disabilities

 

 

 

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Suicide

Historically my ‘suicidal ideation’ has been extremely intrusive. Sudden and severe, but thankfully very brief episodes with enough space in-between them to make them manageable with the decades of experience I have of doing so.

But the past three days I have been constantly suicidal without breaks, without relief from the exhaustion that carrying this huge weight around – physically as well as mentally – burdens me with. It’s so bloody tiring.

 

Suicide.

 

I’ve spent three days, now, under a cloud

blackbirds have flown into existence. It

 

wraps me in a colourless silk stripping me

of every nerve, every piece of me. I could

 

pull death over me; dive into its net and

drown in the wet ocean of dead fishes,

effortlessly.

 

breathe sm

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

Wow, it’s been 3 months since I last wrote here. I have no excuse, though my mood has been relatively stable and I’ve been calm. I’m still not well, of course – there is no cure, just an endless swallowing of tablets – but things could be a lot worse. If anything has got worse then it’s my OCD. And what irks me more than OCD is that people have no idea what it entails; what it is.

Just this week, again, a Facebook friend asked me how OCD is – if at all – more than just a hankering for neatness. How can anyone define OCD in a few sentences? It’s importance. It’s an evil, chronic, debilitating disease with no cure and – as far as I’m aware – no treatment. Vicious, that’s what is is.

I’m managing to get to work; and to stay there. I’ve had little more than a week off work sick in the past 12 months, which frankly is something of a miracle. My ex-psychiatrist once told me I had ‘too strong a work ethic’. Probably true. But if I gave in to bipolar, anxiety or OCD every time one or more of them hit me, I’d be off work constantly.

After starting writing again (another novel) that ground to a – hopefully temporary – halt a few months ago. I’ve been doing research but no actual creative writing. I’m sure it’ll return however. It has to.

I went away for a few days last week, to Tenby, a seaside town with a small harbour, in southwest Wales. I felt almost perfectly well. What was it that made such an effect on me? I wish I knew; maybe exercise, no stress or pressure, warm sunny weather, fresh air and exercise (walking, swimming). Doing things I like to do: writing poetry, taking photos. Sleep.

So that’s where I am at the moment. I still have intrusive suicidal thoughts and rapid mood swings. I’m still taking my meds. I’m still, I don’t mind admitting, very lonely (no relationship of any kind for four years). I’m still carrying on. ‘Steady’ is good. Long live ‘steady’, eh?

stones manorbier

 

 

Brief moments of madness

At least my illness is a steady one, most highs and lows (highest and lowest) clipped by the meds. It means that when something does trigger a mood I’m in a good position (hopefully) to work through it.

Unless of course we’re talking about psychosis. However brief and temporary that might be.

One such very brief episode occurred this a couple of evenings ago after a frustrating argument with my son.

Within moments my mood had escalated like a rocket taking off. These moments, if I remember them correctly (or at all), surprise me and I wonder where on earth they come from.

For example, the one I’m talking about now involved two separate obsessions appearing – and disappearing just as quickly. I had an overwhelming urge to saw the coffee table in half. Which let’s face it would have made quite a mess. Sawdust must be hell to get out of a carpet. As long as I keep my sense of humour, eh?

Along with this I had another urge, to stick metal skewers through my throat. Where did that come from, eh? Luckily I don’t own such things. Just those brittle wooden ones for BBQs and they’re locked in the shed.

And just as soon as these obsessions / compulsions arrived, with a breath of air they disappeared again. A welcome characteristic of ultradian cycling.

***

On a different note, my war of attrition against the rat family that set up home beneath my garden – attracted no doubt by the hanging bird feeders – seems to be in its closing stages (for now) thanks to my use of chemical warfare and the employment of mercenary cat infantry. I’d do anything to protect wildlife.. but I draw the line at rats on my property.

 

Rat bastards

 

Visual hallucination.

 

A strange night, warm and humid. I slept badly, as always. The difference with last night (in the early hours) is that I had a visual hallucination.

It was a figure, in the darkest part of the room, a yard from my head. The figure was an exaggerated one; marching on the spot, monochrome, side-on to me.

(“All colours will agree in the dark.” – Francis Bacon)

It didn’t appear human. Without lifting my head from the pillow I reached out my hand to touch it, a couple of times. Nothing solid, and no reaction. As unusual as this was, I wasn’t afraid and was too sleepy to react further. I turned over, facing the opposite direction, and fell asleep again. Next time I woke in the night there was no figure there.

 

The Ghost of a Flea c.1819-20 by William Blake 1757-1827

William Blake, ‘The Ghost of a Flea’.

 

Delusion or truth. Again.

Hallucination or Vision? Age 17-ish

Midnight, I’ve walked to the top of a local hilltop, Twm Barlwm with my best friend. The news headlines the evening before was a new Middle East war. Despite not being religious we decide to pray for peace. I do this with the Lord’s Prayer, silently to myself. At the end of this I feel a firm hand on my right shoulder. I assume it’s my friend but on opening my eyes I see he is some distance from me.

A thick fog has enveloped the hill, with a visibility of just a few feet. We are on a hilltop with fog and darkness all around us. There’s the sound of a sheep, or a lamb, which we decide to follow. It leads us all the way down the hill, bleating continually so we can follow as we’ve not seen this creature.

Getting back to the house in the early hours of morning the radio says a ceasefire in the war has just been declared.

 

fog

 

 

Vision or hallucination? Age 17-ish

Late at night, I have just left my girlfriend’s house to walk the half a mile home. It’s a clear night, bright and dry. Fifty yards from her house I stop still as there is a bright light in the night sky – not a star, but the planet Venus. I don’t know how long I stop there, transfixed. Several minutes, not that long.

The star tells me a story: the meaning of Love. I return to my girlfriend’s house, make myself unwelcome as it’s quite late now. In the kitchen I proceed to tell her all about Love as transmitted to me. This takes an hour or so of manic speech. I eventually leave, and run home – ecstatic, full of intense energy and happiness – jumping off walls, climbing over obstacles, unable to wear myself out.

Some years later I discover this story was a re-telling of Plato’s Symposium, something I’d obviously never read at that age and indeed had had no exposure to.

 

 

Delusion or Truth.

 

A vision? Age 4-ish

Nursery school. I am riding a tricycle in the play-yard. Suddenly everything stops, goes blank and distant and I know I have had a “daydream”. I can’t remember what I saw in that reverie but I know it wasn’t there and then, wasn’t real.

A vision? Age 6-ish

Jesus and some of his disciples are sitting around a campfire at night, cooking, boiling water or soup. Some of the boiling liquid spills onto Jesus’s hand but he doesn’t feel it. I conclude from this (at the time) that Jesus has leprosy.

 

so vivid