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.


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.




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.

Hand Tremors

I attempted a small amount of photography, and discovered something not too welcome. I seem to have the lithium hand tremors badly enough that no matter what I do, I can not take a photograph that doesn’t look like my camera has had a night out on the town.

I’d noticed it before at times, usually when I’d not been drinking enough. I’d figured though that so long as I was drinking enough water, my hands were fine. Certainly, it’s just a very very slight shake. I’d think nothing of it -except I know I used to be able to take pictures that were in fact crisp and in focus.

For example, this was taken about 8 months ago:

In comparison, these shots of my mum’s amaryllis which has just bloomed were taken tonight:

Probably the best one of the night and even then still not properly in focus

I suppose this means I will need to just do photography properly and use a tripod, which is something I wanted to do anyway. It’s just a shame when it comes to taking photos on the hoof. If anyone knows of any ways around this, or of decent portable tripods, I’d be much appreciative!

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.

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.