Channel 4 goes MAD

I was recently linked to this website by a friend. It’s a brief explanation of three common but misunderstood mental illnesses, funded by Mind and Rethink (two of my favourite charities within the UK).

It’s very much a simple overview, but I think it’s a good initiative. There really needs to be more discussion and awareness about these illnesses and I think this goes a long way to starting it.

The joys of housekeeping

I am by nature a fairly messy person. I grew up in a pretty small house, which inevitably was permanently cluttered – more so in recent years with four adults living in it rather than two adults, two kids. I like being surrounded by stuff, things, junk and items, minimalist designs always feel far too empty.

It’s only good up to a point though. One of the main outcomes of a bout of mood episodes is a very, very messy living space. Clothes on the floor, dishes on the surfaces, that level of mess. It becomes a rather vicious cycle; it’s (not so) surprisingly hard to feel good when your surroundings are so unpleasant, but the less good I feel the harder it is to sort it all out.

So, and apologies for the profanity, I have a feeling that http://unfuckyourhabitat.tumblr.com/ might just be fairly useful. I could do with no nonsense daily reminders to simply make my bed, and at least re-organise one area. Even more important is the focus on short bursts, rather than marathons. It’s good to be reassured that it’s ok not to be able to do it all in one massive go.

On monday I move into my new house that I’m renting with two friends. I’d rather not be ‘the messy one’, or at least, not by too much! Hopefully this’ll help with keeping on top of things right from the start.

Book update

Back in March I wrote about re-reading the Terry Pratchett series, Truckers, Diggers, and Wings in the hopes of kickstarting a bit more reading than I had been doing. It was a plan that worked rather well, the silliness was just what I needed at the time, and they were just as good as I remembered them!

Cover of "Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile...
Since then, my reading dropped off a little, so I decided that Sandman and Fables anthologies were the perfect antidote. The highly visual media and that all you have to read is dialogue for the most part makes them less of a challenge when concentration is lacking. It only gets better when the kick-ass character in Fables is Snow White (with Bigby a close second).

English: Belly Band of Norwegian Wood 1st edit...

I wish I’d had the chance to read this Norwegian Wood 1st edition written by Haruki Murakami! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


After that, I decided it was time to bring out the big guns. Yup. A Murakami novel, the magical cure for all reading maladies. This time it was Norwegian Wood, his least surreal novel. I’m rather glad it’s not the novel I started with, though one could argue that Kafka on the Shore is hardly a normal story. However, whilst Kafka is unarguably more weird, Norwegian Wood is instead far more intense. It was a rather unusual reading experience in that watching the movie adaptation beforehand didn’t spoil the book, but rather enhanced it (though, of course your mileage may vary on that). In Norwegian Wood, Murakami tells the relatively straight forward story of a Japanese man in his 30′s recalling his life from late teens through to his mid twenties. It’s a fairly intense period for most people, one might feel, but for Watanabe it’s perhaps worse than most. Without wishing to reveal too much, the novel’s themes centre on love, mental illness, loss and the process of becoming an adult amidst all of this turmoil. For perhaps obvious, and some that are less so, reasons this story resonated with me to a great deal. Even if I never find time to revisit it, I can’t see the stories of Watanabe, Naoko, Midori, and Reikos’ leaving me anytime soon.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill B...
Currently though, I am once again re-reading. This time it’s Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. I first read this aged 14, just after my room had had to be evacuated due to massive amounts of rain and a leak in our roof. This would, of course, have been around the time I first became ill. I really enjoyed this book the first time I read it, sat in a room that for once looked spacious (it’s very small, and contains around 200 books when not evacuated), and that’s since become quite a fond memory. I don’t suppose I am the only one who knows how nice enjoying something again after a while of not being able to is.

After I’ve finished this, I have a fair few books I ought (never a good word in this context), to read. The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath), On the Road, (Jack Kerouac), The Long Earth (Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter). I think I might remind myself to mix those up with some good old trusty re-reads. Sabriel has spent a long time now sat on my shelf.

BIPOLAR OWL

 

BIPOLAR OWL.

Found this on Tumblr today, and absolutely loving it. Whilst also mildly worried about the amount of times I’m going ‘Oh God yes, so true’. It’ll  come in handy for the next time I’m convinced there’s no way I’m ill, I’m fine now, how could I have ever thought I was so ill, I suppose.

As for why it’s an owl, I’m not sure. I think it’s probably best explained as ‘it’s a Tumblr thing’.

Very much wishing I felt more like the above image right now, it has to be said.

Still here, honest!

I’ve not been doing very well at updating this.. whoops!

Couple of days back went to a meet up of friends from all over the UK in London. Unfortunately a couple of people I really wanted to be there weren’t able to make it. I suppose that may be the slight flaw in having a group of friends each with their own mental health oddities.

Despite that though, it was a really awesome day. It’s nice to be able to socialise with a group of people who all understand. We chilled in Regent’s Park for a bit, then headed onto Camden Market until the evening.

Now all I have  to do is catch up on everything I’ve missed at uni, which is intimidating.

A mildly worrying pattern

2004 – unwell

2005 – mildly better, but not great

2006 – about as ok as I get

2007 – getting ill again

2008 – as ill as I’ve ever been

2009 – slowly recovering

2010 – again, basically ok

2011 – getting ill again

2012 – constant cycling, at least one incapacitating low, more than one high already.

This has been a vague idea floating around in my mind for a while now, but I only just wrote it down tonight. Upon doing so, I think the only words might just be ‘ah. shit.’.

It’s imperative I find the right medication cocktail, and soon. The only problem is that I’m at home now for the next three weeks, and may or may not be back in Cardiff after that. Then there’ll be another stretch at home, and then back in Cardiff. Coordinating appointments around that is not easy, especially not when side effects become just unbearable whilst at home (i.e. right now, with the nausea that lithium causes).

One might argue I should never have gone to a uni so far from home. I could have studied psychology almost anywhere. Should I have to give up on the course and location I actually want just because of illness though? Would that even do me any good, knowing I wasn’t where I really wanted to be?

It’s a little easier this time around. It’s amazing the sheer difference simply knowing ‘this is the bipolar, it does this’ makes. For that reason, I will never disagree with the idea of diagnosis (though, it’s hardly unflawed). I know a little better what helps, that it passes, that other people have the same thing, and simply why today getting out of bed is just not going to happen.

At the same time, this time around, it’s a better knowledge of how it can/will likely pan out. Months of cycling, getting increasingly worse. Potentially making studying impossible. If I’m up, I can make myself feel I will get through it. Obviously, when down, it’s quite the opposite.

I can only hope I am very wrong, and prepare to not to be.

 

Turns out stayi…

Aside

Turns out staying up all day didn’t really work. Hypersomnia just took over and ensured I slept from 12pm till 6pm. Ah well, should be better next week when there’s actually people about during the day.

Apparently, my only option with uni is to return next January. This seems somewhat unnecessary, I should be doing better a long  before 9 months time. I hope so, at least. Right now, the effects of being down, such as this, seem to be only helping me stay this way. I suppose that’s not too unusual.

I’ll do a longer post sometime when my head is less scrambled. Gender is on my mind a lot recently, I just need to find a coherent way of wording it that someone else might understand.

So far, not so good

It seems that taking the end of term off of university to recover from this episode means taking an awful lot longer than I really need at all. This is really rather disheartening.

I’m already 3 years behind my peers. I took an extra year to get through college, and then due to needing surgery for my spine, another 2 years (thanks to MH issues, waiting lists and post-op restrictions).

I am beginning to feel I will be in education for well over 30 years of my life. I just hope I can afford it. Even more than that, I hope I can cope with it. I really want to work as a clinical psychologist, ideally with young people. To do that though, I have to do well at this degree, and then a doctorate. So far, not so good.

So.. right now I feel like

I can’t cope with studying

I’m damn near unemployable 

I can’t sustain meaningful relationships

I generally can’t cope as an adult. 

I know I have the brains for studying. It’s just the lack of stability – which is really not helped by the student lifestyle. One nasty bout of temporary illness and it can have an effect for weeks afterwards, or just add a few more missed lectures. Or take  the one week you might have been able to really put effort into work rather than just ‘getting it done’. One late night out. One night of noise in halls. One bad night with low self esteem leaving it hard to work to a deadline.

One of the most annoying things is the complete lack of option to study part time on this course. I love it here. I love Cardiff. I love the course. I want the placement year. So.. I have to study full time or not at all.

And now I’m taking one out of two breaks I can take, because of one episode, which happened because it is never useful when coughing fits, exhaustion, blocked nose and headaches co-incide with running out of meds. When you have no repeat prescription. And your GP is backlogged with appointments – and you’d have to trek to a pharmacy afterwards as well. When going to the CMHT means maybe waiting hours just for meds. This is ridiculous.. but right now, studying is not something I can do.

As for relationships, I don’t even know what I feel. All I know is I have no interest in feeling like I am being seen as the crazy one who’s opinions don’t need listening to. It’s hard to feel any relationship can work. Maybe one day.

Pushing through

Right now, it’s hard  to feel as though I can do anything of any worth at all. It feels as though it is best not to try anything, because there is simply no point.

Living like this is horrible. Plunging into these low moods over and over is draining and frustrating. It leaves me feeling like I simply don’t want to be alive like this.

I know though, that I absolutely love being in Cardiff. I don’t always love studying (it’s hard when you’re always doubting your own abilities), but I do love being here when well. So, I’ve got to try to get more stable, so I can enjoy being here fully.