There was a time not so long ago when I would refer to my own experience of suicidal thoughts and idealisation as the ‘S word’. I have decided that this must and will change.
In some ways calling it this meant I thought at the time I was not giving it the time of day, and it was softer to say and less harsh on others ears than saying “Good God, I feel suicidal.”
I have now decided to skip the jargon and call a plate a plate. I fear by referring to it as the ‘S word’ I am trivialisng a symptom of my illness which is life threatening. Also it makes it sound like a dirty word, and although I am by no means suggesting it is in some way a word to use lightly, it is still a word and an important one that often gets swept under the carpet because it can make us feel uncomfortable.
The fact of the matter is that some people do from time to time feel suicidal and they do from time to time try to kill themselves. It is not a pleasant fact and even I, who have tried it on several occasions, am squirming in my seat while writing this blog. So much so that I have decided to ask the boy to read it through prior to posting.
Many people this year have died at their own hands and the sad fact is that they didn’t have to. The most common cause of death of a person with bipolar is suicide. This is a fact that terrifies me, my family and even my friends, and is a fact that I will have to live with every day of my life.
The cold reality is that one day the suicidal thoughts will come back, and when they do there is little that can be done to stop them. The important thing is however that they can be stopped, the depression can end, and you do not ever have to go through with it.
One of the aims of my blog this year is to encourage others who have had experiences of suicidal thoughts, actions or even loved ones, be they friends or family who have experience of this, to come forward and write a blog to help others going through the same thing.
It can be done anonymously and can be three words or 3,000, there is no limit and no set style or subject. For me, writing about my own experiences has meant I can stay sane and although it might not seem like a long time it has been almost nine months since I last tried to take my own life.
Suicide is not a great word but I will not let it rule my life any longer. I will be aware of it but I shall be vigilant. I will not let the thoughts win and I will do my best to stand strong when it comes knocking and refuse to bow to it. I want to live, period.
After much debate and speaking to friends, family, colleagues and even the Psych I have come to a decision over what the new project will be.
My initial thought was 365 shoes but after speaking to a lot of people I began originally to modify this idea to hosiery. After all, tights and stockings are a lot cheaper than shoes.
There became several issues however with the 365 tights project. First there are far too many people who find my blog by searching for ‘women in tights’ and far more unmentionable terms. The second issue is that I would not be able to sell the tights, meaning I would have to start allowing adverts on the blog in order to raise funds for my charitable causes.
The final issue with the tights is that it just didn’t seem enough of a challenge. It felt as though I was shying away, something that when I am well I do not do as any regular reader of the blog will by now know.
I have chosen to return to the 365 shoes project, and it will be 365 shoes, and not 365 pairs (a little too decadent). My plan is to wear a different pair of shoes every other day for 2012 and I will post pics of the shoes and what I am wearing them with each day.
Once again I will not be able to buy any of these shoes in 2012 and must rely instead on footwear I have already purchased in the past, loans and donations.
Thanks to my tendency to buy when I am high I probably already have enough shoes, boots, sandals and even the odd wellington boot to last me for the first 90 days. After this however I am going to be very much dependent on the kind nature of my readers and others who support the blog.
I am hoping that now the site is rather more established it may be easier for me to approach retailers both nationally and in Market Harborough for loans and maybe even donations of shoes.
The shoes I wear, apart from those that have been loaned, will be available to buy at the end of 2012 and all of the money raised will be split between Mind and the MDF society, now known as Bipolar UK.
Some have suggested that instead of wearing a different pair of shoes every other day it may be better for my health if I stick to wearing just one pair of shoes a week or even two pairs.
I am conscious of the fact that shoes are harder to give away or to loan than a dress and I also worry that perhaps this project may be asking too much. I am game for the challenge but I am also interested in making sure I do not take on too much or ask too much of others.
I would very much appreciate your feedback and thoughts in the comments box below and then after all the opinion polls are in I will announce exactly what is to be done on January 1, 2012.
Thank you, as always.
He who cares: Guest blog from Jon Pollard on being a carer for his mum who has been diagnosed with dementia
As someone who is often asked who is your carer I thought it might be interesting to get a perspective from someone who is one. I first spoke to Jon Pollard after he contacted us at the Harborough Mail about a blog he writes on his experience of caring for a woman with dementia, his mum.
Jon is a warm and articulate writer from Harborough and I hope you will enjoy this guest blog from him and pay him the compliment of commenting and looking up his own blog which makes for an insightful and interesting read.
I had a nice experience shopping for a new jumper with Mum in Market Harborough the other day. Most shops we visited we were met with the normal shrugs and mumbles from indifferent assistants, especially once they realised
Mum may be a little “different” One shop excelled though and I will name it here for you locals, it was “Jacks” in Church Street. Very helpful and above all very very patient. Whisked Mum away into the changing room and helped try countless jumpers till we were all happy with one. Proper service. Well done.
My name is Jon, I am full-time carer for my Mum Carol who has Vascular Dementia. I upped sticks from the Wirral to Market Harborough a few years ago to investigate when we detected Mum may be having one or two problems. Once we had finally managed to secure a diagnosis I decided I should stay.
Initially I worked full-time but gradually Mum’s needs have meant spending more and more time with her so I now care full-time.
In this time as Mum’s carer I have encountered an interesting fact about dementia, people are scared by it. Tell a friend you have developed cancer and watch the flowers and fruit flood in, tell them you have developed a “mental” illness and watch most of them shuffle off into the distance mumbling to themselves.
If you just take the time to consider that the person is still in there somewhere, struggling to understand. Struggling to be understood. Imagine the frustration you would feel if day by day the words you use to express yourself were gradually disappearing.
The thoughts and concepts were still in your mind but you had no way to express them. This is the most noticeable manifestation of dementia with Mum, but no two cases are alike.
An example of a typical conversation,
“I`m looking for it”
What are you looking for Mum?
“It’s the red, you know”
Do you know where you put it?
“It’s in the thing, it was in the thing”
What thing Mum
“It’s the red one”
Repeat ad infinitum
This can lead to frustration, and even anger on both sides. We can usually get to the bottom of it eventually ( this time it was a scarf ) but it can take a long time.
Sometimes you just have to admit defeat and divert attention away from it, whatever it may be. Nine times out of ten it will soon be forgotten anyway.
Another problem is the order things happen.
Mum will understand, for example, that to make a cup of tea there is a chain of events involved, say
1.Get cup out
2.Get tea caddy out
4.Put tea bag in cup
7.Put tea caddy away
These things could be done in any order though, the tea caddy could be put away before the tea bag is in the cup, water can be added before it is boiled, there are countless possibilities for this simple action. Imagine that amplified to everything that happens on an average day.
As a carer you have to adjust your speed of life, have to adjust to the fact that the simplest of things is going to take several times longer than you would expect and be twice as complex as it needs to be.
I could just do everything for Mum, it would be so much simpler but I think it’s important to encourage her as much as possible to maintain as much independence as possible.
I suppose the point I am trying to make is if you encounter someone who appears a little “different”, maybe a little confused or tongue-tied don’t run a mile, don’t show your impatience, don’t immediately direct questions to their companion. Have a little patience, it could be Mum and me.
So back to Jacks. Hard to believe that something as simple as buying Mum a jumper could be such a nice experience for me. To come across an assistant as helpful and patient is so refreshing. Asking Mum questions, only coming to me when Mum got really stuck, all in all a little time and patience resulted in a sale and me and Mum leaving the shop smiling, and certain to return.
PS. If you know someone who is a carer and not sure what to buy them as a gift for Christmas or birthdays, you won’t go wrong with organising a full day off for them. Better than any other gift, trust me.
While in the big smoke the boy and I were lucky enough to pay a visit to our friends of marriage Mr and Mrs Matthew and Ellen White. What was really nice for the boy who after having his confidence a little crushed when I whooped his arse at shooting down the teeth in Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park was that he was able to tell our friends that he had found some work.
They are and neither thank goodness are any of our friends the kind of people who would judge someone for being out of work but nevertheless it was nice for him to be able to answer the question of what he was up to with a more positive response than he has been doing of late. It is never easy to be out of work when you want to be doing something with your time even when one is not well enough to be at work many still wish that they could.
What was lovely about seeing this pair is that we were lucky enough to attend their wedding and now had the privilege of meeting their baby girl who is just a complete sweetheart and who managed to have the boy wrapped around her tiny little hand from the moment he held her in his arms. They are both people of talent and it shows in the form of the beautiful little girl they are now the proud parents to.
When I had my dress sale back in May in spite of being heavily pregnant and with enough on their plate Mr and Mrs White both attended and got involved coming along with other friends up to th country from the depths of the big smoke, braving the traffic to show their support. Since then the baby has been born and what with all my highs and lows and little in-between the two we have only just got round to getting together for a catch up.
Since we last saw each other Mrs White has appeared in the Guardian thanks to her expertise and assistance to a baby in a hospital where she worked and cared for the child of a Guardian journalist. She is a woman committed not only to her friends and family but also to her job and it was wonderful to see that both Mrs White and the hospital for which she works in central London, which is not the one you are thinking of but whose work is equally important, received some of the recognition it deserved.
Also we had news from Mr White who is a talented musician and maker of brilliant YouTube videos such as Mr Potato Men getting dressed very slowly, (Google it , you won’t regret doing so), has now released his first single on which a track by him features. I have bought it , actually twice, by accident but am not too upset as it is very good and fun to dance to at 3am in the morning even if I should have been in bed. ANyone who likes to get their moves on or even those who just like a tune with a good beat should check it out, I have a feeling it will catch on fast.
If you are interested in finding out more about these wonderful people whose support, friendship and understanding as well as their brilliant sense of humor has helped me come through highs and lows then follow the links below and if you fancy, purchase the single. It comes from me and I am a tad biased but it is bloody good and well worth a listen.
Just as an aside I do not think that my dancing at 3am in the morning was a great sign of how I am coming off my high but rest assured I have been prescribed new medication so hopefully the late night tweeting, blogging and all round strangeness should soon come to a stop.
London is awesome and there is a huge risk that I may be a convert to Uggs of a very specific variety. Also Rickshaws are dangerous, yet fun. These are the main lessons I have taken from my time away in the big smoke last week. Those of you who know the blog know that usually I am an ardent supporter of the stop wearing Uggs outside the house their slippers brigade. Although I still class many Uggs, mainly those that do look like slippers to be, to be, well, a hideous monstrosity to put it mildly I have become a convert to Uggs as an about the house near necessity for all women. People have told me this before but they are so so bloody comfortable.
How you may ask did someone so against the bizarre slipper craze that seems to be as popular as the legging lovelys. Well the answer is this. Nicola Steel. Long has Ms Steel, a glass blower by trade, tried to talk to me of the delights of the Ugg. I have berated her while explaining she is clearly confused and at times I have even been known to turn my bad ear to her protests. For more than a year I have ignored with vigor her comments on comfort and other kinds of Ugg boots one can buy that don’t look like soggy slippers.
Finally however I found myself at a point when my ears were more open, my feet were cold and I wasn’t prepared to take the bin out while simultaneously smoking, (a relapse I’m afraid), and so I reached for the nearest thing. A pair of unsuspecting Uggs which I had put on my feet before reading the tell-tale label.
The moment I put them on I could hear a thousand cries throughout the land of ‘I told you so’. They are unbelievably comfortable and when they don’t look like Uggs they can actually look really rather nice.
Now to the point dear readers of the blog itself for I am now ready to do so 300 words in to the post. My subject matter is this; my time in London and the discovery I made there, my friend, Ms Nicola Steel is an awesome glass blower. I have always knew she was good but in the past few years she got great. She has set up her own hot shop come studio and is now creating all kinds of things which are truly breaking the mold.
Everywhere I turned in the house was another museum worthy piece. There are dragonfly pendants, glass vases, carefully crafted decanters with colourful yet so far from typical twists and big rings with swirls and bangles which jingle with tiny beads inside which brings one back to the age-old ship in a bottle conundrum. Writing of which does anybody get that? Please, do share.
Anyway I am exceedingly proud of her work because she has established herself in an industry which is tough, high pressured and overflooded with unoriginal tat. So often we go for the easy option of plain but with Ms Steel’s work even the Janest of plains would not be able to resist the sparks of colour and twists and turns of the eye which her pieces mesmerisingly lull one into.
I am now sorted for Christmas and am happy in the knowledge that I will be able to treat some of my friends and family to pieces of bespoke glass and jewellery by an artist and designer who I am lucky enough to call my friend,even if she did trick me into wearing her Uggs.
If you want to know more go to http://www.nikisteelglass.co.uk/about-us
Twelve long years ago I had a baby brother with blonde hair and a cute smile, two older sisters, brunettes, popular with all the boys, and a mother and father. This was my family; this was our family. It all stopped.
These days I have a baby brother with brown hair but still with the cute smile (like my clever sisters he went with the braces option rather than telling the dentist to go away) a sister with brown hair and a beautiful baby boy and a mother and father.
There is of course one thing missing and that will never change and although it all sounds so obvious, when you lose your sister three months before her 18th birthday you kind of try to all forget that this new reality, this new family is going to be forever.
When Catherine’s birthday comes around each year it is always a strange day. A mixture of joy and remembering while experiencing near on simultaneously such sadness you could just curl into a ball and dissapear into your thoughts and the memory of our childhood together forever.
Moving house I have come across so many things that remind me of her. Twelve years on, several breakdowns and a new home you wonder you will forget what she sounded like, what she did and how she was. People ask how many brothers and sisters you have and you tell them but bite your lip because it would be a bit harsh to tell the poor man blow drying your hair that you had two sisters and one brother but now you only have one brother and one sister but you cannot deny the fact of the existence of someone so wonderful so you tell them and then it kicks you once again to think of all the things the family could have been if she was still around.
Yesterday would have been my sister’s 30th birthday. I so wish it had been.
I have to stop, I haven’t learnt to blog and cry while wearing these bloody glasses yet and they appear to have steamed up.
Happy birthday to a darling sister, friend, daughter, cousin, and all round good egg, Catherine Yvonne O’Neill.