World Suicide Prevention Day

So many other people have written about today and probably better than I will. Despite that, I don’t think I could let today pass without sharing something.

 

This post may be triggering, so for that reason it is after the cut.

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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.

A few thoughts

This diagram basically sums up studying for me, especially over the last term. It’s never good when trying to finish some coursework just feeds into an already dangerously low mood. If you stop, there’s all the guilt of giving up, but the more you try to work, the worse you feel for not being able to write anything of any worth.

My course has the handy situation of requesting a piece of coursework practically every single week- and this is only first year! Next year that’s only going to get a lot worse. It’s hard not to burn up with jealousy at the philosophy student with an essay every so often sometimes.

The only stage I can see the break the cycle, personally, is between missing work and stressing out. No one ever likes that I do this, but after a certain point, I just prioritise my health, and I refuse to feel guilty for making this decision.

Thankfully, after doing that last term, things have been arranged that my exams are in August. This means I have a lot of self teaching to do, but I’m finding actually I hugely prefer being able to work on what I want, when I want, just me, some paper, a textbook, a laptop for journal articles and some music.

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I told a couple more people about identifying outside of the gender binary recently. Both conversations were pretty awesome.

The first was with a guy whose attitude is if that’s how you identify, that’s cool. If you prefer a gender neutral name, then that’s what I’ll do. So much love ❤

The second was with a person who identifies basically the same way I do: a mix of both. That was pretty unexpected, but it was damn good to talk to someone who totally gets it. That there’s such a difference between ‘butch female’ or ‘femme-y trans-guy’ or ‘effeminate male’ or whatever and feeling androgynous, even if you can’t explain why that is.

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I am really not sure how I am meant to fix my own sleeping pattern. It’d be very much appreciated if any doctor had any idea what the hell to do, or allow me to see a specialist in sleep so we can work out why I wake up the later it gets and feel tired in the morning.

All I know is that going to bed earlier does not mean sleeping earlier and staying up all night  and day results in 40 hours awake and a massive sleep where I wake up late afternoon/early evening.

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.

 

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.

Lithium

I sort of hate being on lithium.

I hate that I have to be on it, firstly. People often assume that as I’ve been on psychiatric medication for the past three years, I must be a supporter of it’s use unconditionally. It’s not a total untruth either, I definitely do feel that these medications have a role to play. At the same time however, knowing how long I will likely have to take it for is something I really do not like. There’s simply a sense of I do not want to have to take this in order to be able to live ‘normally’.

Additionally, I hate the physical effects. The nausea. The constant thirst. The hand tremor. The long term poisoning of my liver and kidneys.

The only redeeming factor is that I am more stable whilst on it.

 

Gone Fishing

I suppose it’d be about time to make the post I alluded to the other day. Unfortunately, the subject matter  this time is somewhat less happy.

I am the one out of the four: I am mentally ill. I have rapid cycling bipolar disorder.

This makes being a student very, very challenging. It’s hard writing up an essay when your moods have changed like quicksand underneath you, and you now either have no motivation – or alternatively, you can’t begin to focus, nor take in meaning from a page of text. Or maybe you just can’t work because your medications are scrambling your brain.

Thankfully, I get an awful lot of support from my university and the government. I’m able to claim Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA). The main benefit of this is my lovely mental health advisor, who I jokingly refer to as ‘my Cardiff mummy’ when talking to my friends. I never expected to have someone who’d be able to talk to me for 2 minutes within the first week of term, go ‘you’re manic’ and have them call my old GP, my new GP and both CMHT’s in order to co-ordinate everything. Thanks to her, I got seen by my new CMHT only a month after starting university.

I also get extended library loans, a study skills adviser, extensions on work if needed, a voice recorder, software and a computer capable of running them. All of this is incredibly useful to me, and I’m very grateful that I have it.

Unfortunately, there’s only so much it can achieve. Very little helps when it’s hard just to get yourself to go and food shop. Daily functioning takes an awful lot of effort for me, and a lot of willpower.

My sleep has also been fairly ruined by my moods. Right now for example, I’ve spent the entire day exhausted but I now can’t sleep because I wake up at 8pmish. I’m hoping that tomorrow my psychiatrist can sort that one out.

In general though, being a student is so worthwhile for me, even with all of these problems. Absolutely no way any of this is going to stop me.