Sir Winston Churchill
There is one day in the year where mental illness is guaranteed to get more press than any other day ; that day came two days ago on the third Monday in January or as many would have us call it the most miserable day of the year. What is strange then is on this day I for one was happily free of any symptons of depression or mania most commonly presented in people with a biopolar type two illness. What was also strange was on this day I was outwardly presenting all the signs of having a mental illness, being as I was sat inside the out patients cliniuc at the Brandon Mental Health Unit at Leicester general awaiting my consultation with a new doctor with whom I would access my current health and discuss alternative methods of medication. I was feeling then surprisingly sparky as I left the appointment because for the first time in months I felt as though a medical professional had actually heard what I was saying and had taken what I had said into account than dismissing it as the Dear Diary ramblings of a troubled girl, very rarely do they refer to me as a woman even though I am now a quarter of a century old.
Rather than just send me away with a prescription for the standard treatment, the consultant, a lady sat and went over my past, present and future before having a frank conversation with me about medication. Being as I am now in remission from depression there is a concern I will fall into a mania. People with bipolar type two are characteristically troubled with depressive episodes but these infrequently peppered with episodes of mania or highs. unlike bipolar type one, the mania one has with type two does not involve hallucinations or delusions rather an extended period of intense energy which tends to last about five days. The difficulty with these highs is in some ways they can be rather wonderful, the problem comes when they stop, and they always do come to an end. When I awake from a high I tend to be 4 lbs lighter and physically and mentally exhausted. It is these highs then which me and my consultant are trying to control and she sat with me patiently as we went through the various treatments. We finally came to a decision one tablet with which we were both happy and a low dose as I feared becoming zombie like as other tablets have left me feeling in the past. Before we reached a solution however we had crossed out salts due to family history concerns and two others on account of possible birth defects for the offspring of women who take them.
In spite of feeling positive when leaving the hospital however, I have since been feeling myself sink a little lower into the haze of the black dog and little by little it is getting harder to see the colours.
It is quite possible this is the result of the tablets working their way into my system, but more than likely it may be the frustration I feel at having to take medicine to normalise my mood. The most troublesome issue is the fact my condition has only recently been recognised as not being merely depression combined with anxiety disorder. Indeed only in the US, obviously, do they recognise the existence of bipolar type two, a type of mania which is not prolonged and where you do not experience delusions or hear voices. One poor man in the waiting room for a second obviously thought he had been given a brand new symptom to tell his Doctor about; as music played quietly in the background he suddenly sat up straight and said rather delightedly, “I can hear voices, I knew it!” The receptionist, apparently well used to his outbursts, told him in a bored voice that what he was hearing was in-fact Chris Moyle’s ramblings in-between the few records he plays. Admittedly we must feel for this man. No doubt many people have at one stage found themselves questioning their sanity as this king of the waves continues to pour out a near constant stream of $£”%!*.
The new tablets make me feel sick on the day after I first take them and I am conscious of being horribly drowsy come the morning forcing me to do most of my work from under the duvet where I am safe from the dizzy spells which are another unwelcome side effect. I try to force myself to not become too disheartened, but as my train nightmares continue into the middle of the week and Dell continue to hold my laptop hostage I do sink a little deeper and though I choose purple tights, my choice of this black dress is yet more evidence of how difficult I am finding it to surface from the haze. The dress is a French Connection number from autumn/ winter 2007 which I got in the sale for £36. I bought it during my first proper job as an events manager and though it now sounds like an extravagant purchase to my poverty-stricken ears, at the time when I was able to eat out a couple of times a week, it seemed like a bargain. It is again rather busty at the front but with a crop top worn over one’s bra it is suitable for day-time and if wearing to the office a black vest would make it more conservative if needs be.
The one thing I try to remember when a black dress mood strikes is the positives of having such a condition. People with bipolar disorder type one and two tend to be rather more productive than the average person and other than the difficulties they might experience during periods of mania the majority can live perfectly functioning if not perfectly ordinary lives. Some days it is difficult to keep the black dog of despair at bay than on others and I do hope I have not assumed too much by commenting on this condition in my post, but I feel it is important that some writers come out of the closet with regards to mental illness. It is not something of which I feel ashamed but I once did and I think the shame many sufferers feel is down to a lack of faces of people who are able to admit to their condition and at the same time be living, blogging, breathing proof of how one can live perfectly happily with a mental illness without it defining you or restricting you as you often first believe it will.
Keeping a mental illness from consuming you is a life long battle and though in this quote Churchill was talking at a time of war, I think it speaks true to the ongoing battle he had with his own illness whilst reminding us of the great rewards that await those of us who refuse to give in.
“Never give in–never, never, never,never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except tp convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. “
Sir Winston Churchill 1941