As I near my 29th birthday, I find myself feeling rather reflective. Over the last ten years I have tried to kill myself four times and although it may be stating the obvious, if I had managed to do so, I wouldn’t be sat here today, writing this and telling this tale.
In the past I have always believed that I would never live long enough to get married, have children or even grow grey. I believed that I would take my own life, that ill health or the natural process of growing older would ever have the chance to take away my last breath.
Now though I am not so sure. As I approach the day on which I celebrate my birth, I find myself thinking, albeit rather morbidly, about death. In the past, assuming I would die young, I have always spoken to the boy about how my funeral would be. I have chosen songs, hymns and even prayers that I felt I would like had I been alive to see it.
Sitting here now, I realise that maybe the time where my life would end after a rash swallowing of pills and the downing of any alcohol available may have come to an end. It has been more than a year since I have fully succumbed to the depths of depression and although there has been blips, isn’t there always, I’ve never quite given up as before.
A couple of weeks ago after a difficult week I found myself however back in that place. I found myself pressing the sleeping pills out of the packet one by one and preparing to down them all. Unlike in the past however, there was something that stopped me seeing it through. I called my mother in tears and I called the boy and before I had a chance to think about it further my brother was at the door ready to take over the situation that risked rolling out of control.
The difference is these days, apart from freaking out about wrinkles and worrying about not being able to wear nineties fashion, I don’t mind the passage of time so much. I look forward now to friend’s birthday parties, to becoming a God mother and one day even maybe a mother.
I may still have bipolar, I may still have blips, but I am loving life again and because of this I have no more time to devote to wondering whether my mourners will wear black or brights.
The signal goes out, the train doors close, I try to force myself to get up, to get off the train but I can’t and before I know it, within the blink of an eye, I’m gone and he’s still there.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. A desperate goodbye, a half hearted wave and a choked back tear. I was meant to be, well, normal. Able to say goodbye without succumbing to utter and complete sadness.
It started this morning when I woke up. It was there in the background as I tried to shake it off with a shower, it was there, lurking at the back of my mind and now, well now it’s here.
The depression has returned and as always I am failing to understand where or why it has come from.
As the day goes on it gets worse. I try to distract myself by immersing my mind in a show, in a drama that is not my own, but it doesn’t work. I keep thinking about what a dreadful person I am, how ugly, how much of a failure.
I read a magazine, again in search of escape and distraction, but it only serves to remind me of how disgusting I am and just how fat I feel.
The day gets worse and by the afternoon I find myself staring into space ruminating on everything that’s wrong. I feel unable to think of anything that’s right in my life and the dark thoughts start cascading into my cranium, filling me with nothing but desires for an end and for escape.
I want to run away but I don’t know where to go. I end up sobbing in desperation in the arms of the boy who struggles to understand what’s wrong but who knows enough of this illness now not to ask.
I crave sleep and after what feels like forever I drift off away from the tears only to wake shortly after gripped by anxiety. The thought of my train home is not something I can handle and the tears come again. I feel sick at the thought of it and don’t know how I’ll be able to travel in this state.
But we go to the station and I get on the train and i get home and now i sit here alone, and so miserable I could cry. And I do.
I like to think that things are stable nowadays and that there will be no more dark days or manic highs. I like to think that nobody else will have to suffer the worry and upset of what goes on when I go into a high, I like to think that I will make no more attempts on my own life and that life will be full of blooms and full of roses. I worry though because the stability is fading and the worry is starting again and I fear that I feel the high start to take flight once more.
It starts with the sleep. Already I have more energy, so much more that even when I go to bed late I find myself waking way before I should, already tuned for the day.
The spending has started to increase. All my plans of saving for a holiday went out the window the other day when I walked into Monsoon in my lunch break and bought clothes that I do not need. And I can take them back I know but it’s not just that. It’s what I bought and the strange reasons I bought it. In my mind one top I bought was to be my dinner party hostess top. Now this is odd because nearly one year on and I’m yet to hold a dinner party in my new home.
The talking is another thing that worries me and that I know worries others as well. I get carried away and say stupid things. I prattle on at the boy who I fear has had enough of listening to me getting all enthusiastic about a tin of paint.
What I’m getting at here is that I do not feel well anymore and it’s terrifying because it has been so long since this has happened. I thought that lithium suited me, that it would be a miracle drug but my expectations were so high that I forgot to listen to warnings that there would still be mood fluctuation. I’m paranoid and I worry about everything and it is so exhausting.
I feel lost and I feel alone, and I have no idea of how to stop the high that feels like a racing heat in my head.
I awoke moments ago feeling sick and just oh so sad. I feel over-medicated and frustrated that I can feel the depression creeping in again.
There are now three different mood stabilisers that I have to take every day. As well as the lithium, there is the aripiprizole and a relatively new addition to the mix, lamotrigine.
I look back to last year when I spent six wonderful weeks drug free and find myself wondering about chucking all the pills away. I remember however what happened after the six weeks – the suicidal thoughts, the coming of the crisis team and the tears which I thought would never end.
The truth of the matter is that I am sick of being bipolar. I have gone from not even knowing what it is or how to spell it to being it. Nearly two years after a full diagnosis I worry I am no wiser about how to handle it or no more at peace with having it.
I want to go back to being me but I no longer even know what that is. I think of the endless examples of odd behaviour and foolish acts and I cringe at what I was but find myself not wanting to be this.
When I first got ill, a long time ago, I never really knew that there was anyone who could help. Typically I would shy away from the world, hide in bed and hope and pray that the world would end. These were the days before I’d even started to consider suicide an option and as such the end of existence seemed the only real possible way for there to be an end in sight to my darkest of days.
Today is a real case in point that when you are down you do not have to suffer alone. The last few days have been tough and I nearly missed my appointment with the CPN at lunchtime because I was back to thinking there was nothing at all to be done for me.
In the end I forced myself to go and it was well worth it. In some ways we both concluded my latest glum glum could simply be a case of post-holiday blues and spending too much time alone with my thoughts.
To deal with it rather than hiding away I am going to try taking positive forward steps. For a start I am going to come off that which I cannot pronounce. It’s a mood stabiliser but it is making me too dopey at night and sometimes in the morning too and beside it’s not much fun taking a drug one cannot pronounce.
The second thing I will be doing is trying to be nicer to myself. Rather than berating myself for being consistently crap I am going to instead try to do the things that I enjoy. I am going to try taking up hockey, get my nails done and try to start exercising again.
I feel that the try word is important here as I find that sometimes putting any pressure on oneself can lead to the dreaded fail. Failure is like fuel to fire for someone in the middle of a depression.
Although today has been another down day I feel that I have dodged a bullet thanks to the help and advice of the CPN. It just goes to show that if you an summon the strength to ask for help there is always someone there ready and waiting to give it to you. All you must do is ask.
I am finding things tough at the moment. I am tearful and cry at everything from Come Dine With Me, don’t ask, to One Born Every Minute. I am seeing my CPN tomorrow and in many ways the visit feels long overdue. I do not know why I am feeling so down. Things are good, they really are but here I am sad and blue not really knowing what to do.
A visit to the CPN always helps because I get a chance to offload and work out a plan for how I’m going to deal with life generally. At the moment things are tricky because the boy is not here and my parents are in Ireland so I have far too much time alone with my thoughts.
The one thing that really sticks out is the moment is my lack of a regular photographer. When I did the 365 Dresses project my mum and the boy were regular snappers and it became part of the fun of the blog and made sure that even when I was down I still had to make the effort to smile. The boy is always full of advice about how smiling, even when you don’t feel like it, is great as it releases endorphins.
When he tells me this when all I want to do is run away and cry .I want to yell at him but I’m usually just to low to summon the strength to do so.
Today saw good progress in terms of footwear. Four days in I have mastered the art of these heels and no longer waddle but stride on my way to the office. Although I am getting the hang of the courts I could have hugged the estate agent when he offered me a lift to the second viewing. As soon as I got home I slipped my purple tights into my silky red slip on shoes and heard my toes breathe a sigh of relief.
The photos will be taken tomorrow as I am too low and too tired to put on a show, even in front of a mirror.
Despite having a lovely day with my brother and sister I am very aware that the beginnings of another depression are creeping up on me. As always I find myself trying to work out why it has come back. I am a dreadful scientist and although the Docs have told me time and time again that it has as much to do with a ‘chemical reaction in my brain due to a biological malfunction’ or some such thing I still look outward for the cause.
Perhaps I have been having too much fun of late, or maybe it is this cold that I can’t shake or the fact that I feel rather under pressure. I don’t know what it is but I find myself tearful and full of self loathing. My figure feels too full and my eyes too prone to water and generally it just kind of sucks.
I am trying to subscribe to the American way of being and think positive but it is hard and I am scared. My last high which started in October was pretty severe and according to my medical history and the famous law of what goes up must come down I cannot help but worry that this next low will be colossal.
The reason I acknowledge it here and now is that I do not want people to get the wrong idea about the nature of my illness. For those of you who are new to the blog I must admit that the lows can be quite significant and at times crippling to everything I do including friendships, work and life generally.
I am doing as far as I can see everything right. I am taking my tablets, getting plenty of sleep and seeing friends and family as often as I can. As well as having a new project to put my energy into I have even taken to eating healthily and having herbal teas, health supplements and warm baths. My only remaining vice, well more or less, is my temporary nicotine addiction and that will pass as it always does.
Fingers crossed I am just worrying without cause and tomorrow will be a brighter day. The shoes have helped in that those I have been wearing for the main part of the day are bright but comfortable without resorting to sweaty Ugg inspired slippers. I spent the most part of the day with my big sis who bought me them and according to her partner they were seen a few months ago on Dragons Den. Wearing them made a walk to the shops a hell of a lot easier but the outfit demanded heels and so they came out to play too although in the mood I’m in today the lower of the two seemed more appropriate.
Look out tomorrow for pictures of the pairs.
Armed with a lot of tears and frustration I had pretty much decided by the time I walked into the psychiatrists office today that I did not want to be on the same tablets any more. As far as I can tell they are not working and as I only see him every six weeks it is hard to tell him this.
One of the most frustrating things about this latest diagnosis is that so far it has been treated only medically, previously I’ve had counselling but what with being out of work for so long I haven’t been able to afford it myself so far and I haven’t got the heart to ask my parents to fork out like they have in the past, it’s not up to them and it wouldn’t be fair. They tell me there is a CPN who will see me to discuss coping techniques but though I have called her and left messages I have never heard back and so I keep getting discharged from the team. One would expect a formal discharge would only happen once the person is better or at least able to cope better than before but you would be wrong. People have said in the past this quick fire discharge helps their figures but maybe its more simple, maybe they just don’t care or simply don’t have the time so let a few slide along the way.
The last time I went in to see The Shrink I felt a little overwhelmed by how quickly it was over and as I am always in a bit of a state when I go there I asked my mother if she could come in to the room with me. It sounds pathetic but sometimes its just good to have someone there on your behalf who can say the words that have been in your head for weeks but just don’t come out when they need to the most. The last time I came here I admitted I was sleepy and tearful a lot of the time and was taken off duloxetine to try something new. Today when my mother admits that I am still half asleep when I leave the house he says he will take me off the tablets he put me on before.
Its all going very fast and I feel as though I have no part in this and I’m crying but I just wish I could take control. Thankfully my mother is a former English teacher and her negotiating skills are such that I sometimes wonder whether she missed out on a calling as a peace keeper. Her voice rings out clear bringing the ball firmly back into our court. If I had been alone in here I would probably have walked out of the room with a different anti depressant another referral to the elusive CPN and a feeling of utter frustration that I failed to fight my corner. It is not The Shrink’s fault but I am a wisp of myself at the moment and one of the things I wanted to get across is how hard I am finding it to connect with people. Unfortunately I am failing to connect with him as I am crying too much and am too busy hunting out tissues to properly convey how dreadful I’ve been feeling. By the time my mother has intervened carefully explaining what I have said there is an agreement that I need something other than just medication and a firm decision to take me off the quetiapine. I am relieved but terrified as this means the start of yet another drug and all I want to do is flush the whole lot down the toilet.
The whole experience is exhausting and when I walk out of there I am so frustrated I can’t stop crying. In spite of the tears I am grateful because if it wasn’t for my mother we would have got nowhere and I feel for those who come here alone.
Though it seemed like a bad thing when I was booked, visits to The Shrink generally involve travelling a good twenty miles in traffic to get to the hospital. It works out in my favour as it gives me an extra thirty minutes to stop the tears and reapply the make up. By the time I get to work I have sectioned off all thoughts of the appointment and if I can just get through the day without crying I can pretend I am just like everyone else.
- The dress is from Boden and is beautiful. My godmother gave it to me and it is so bright and cheerful it helps me in my great pretence. I feel dreadful though and I can’t stand the way I look at the moment, in anything. If I could I’d hide myself in baggy jeans and a jumper and these photos would never see the light of day.
Getting behind with blogs always bums me out. I do like to make sure I am up to date but there are times like today when I have so many to catch up on that the task just seems too much. After many attempts to bash out a birthday blog, a tribute to the red dress and even a recollection of the night of my birthday celebrations I had to give up because I just couldn’t get them right and because in the case of the celebration blog my memory has been compromised by too many cocktails. Who knew something so delicious could be so lethal, darn you Oat Hill and your sorcerer ways.
There are times the blogs just fire from my fingers and in a matter of minutes a medley of words will shoot up on the screen. Today though no matter how hard I try I can’t finish even one, or even start it for that matter. My mind is all over the place and I’ve been on a downward slide ever since I woke up on Sunday morning. They say that alcohol is a depressant and the state I was in at the end of the day would seem to support that fact.
I do try to cheer myself up, I really do. I abandon Yoga for a three episode Glee marathon in the hope that the cheesy tunes would prove to be more spiritually cleansing than another session of singing oms. Unfortunately I fear I may have made the wrong choice and find myself wishing I had given the hippy healing another go. Glee is great but if I am honest its a little like Harry Potter, you always find yourself wishing it was real and knowing that there isn’t really a magical world or a place where spontaneous song is totally acceptable makes me a little sad.
In the end I decide to abandon my attempts to become a professional singer and opt for an early night. When I enter my room I am instantly cheered. The boy stayed over last night and I confessed to him that I was fed up of getting behind with blogs and having a room that was constantly in a state due to having a hundred dresses with no real place to put them. He has tidied up the room, put up my birthday cards, hoovered the floor and I even detect a hint of polish in the air. As well as this he has found the picture of liownn and I and mounted it on the wall opposite my bed so that the first thing I see when I wake up is the colourful drawing. Admittedly the dresses are still in a pile at the end of the bed but they are in a neat pile. This makes all the difference. Though things are tough with us living apart he still seems able to find ways to make my week easier even when he isn’t here. Now if only I could remember how to write.
- Today’s dress is from Florence and Fred sent from my mystery dress donor. Unfortunately I still know no more about the identity of this person and feel as though I am getting nowhere after ruling out my only suspect. Though I had thought the Polish Princess was the sender, the boy’s mother was away in Spain when this package arrived and unless she has gained an accomplice I think I must look elsewhere to find the culprit.
Wearing a red dress, perhaps because of all of the popular culture references which stand alongside it can be a bit like playing a part in your own private theatre. There are few things in this world which lend femininity more readily than a red dress. The little black dress the six inch high stiletto and the black pencil lined silk stockings are a short cut to traditional sex appeal but the red dress is more about the way it makes the wearer feel.
Wearing it today I feel stronger than I have been in some time and throughout the day I can not help but be pleased as punch with my reflection which betrays someone who is smiling, actually smiling! The colour is so bright and vivid that whenever I walk the light catches the red in the windows and just for a moment I get a glimpse of the person I become when I wear red. Though I have been at war with my body for months I finally feel happy with what the dress is draping.
At one stage a pigeon swoops over my head whilst I’m passing by Sainsburys and though the wretched things usually scare me stiff my body just folds forward away from the tips of its wings and standing as it soars up and on above me I smile at the strangeness of it all. I do not respond so well to compliments these days but in this dress I accept them with grace. A man in the market tells me I am a sight for his sore eyes and rather than frown, looking away and having a sulk I turn and thank him.
When I woke up this morning I did not feel confident. I fell flat when I caught sight of my now 26-year-old reflection. My footballers wife blow-dry had fallen flat and one too many glasses of wine saw circles round my eyes more fitting for a panda. Yet once I put on this dress I felt strong, feminine and elated. This will be one of the dresses that I wish I could keep if only for the way it made me feel.
- My good friend Monica Kenny picked me this particular red dress up from one of the charity shops in Kettering. It is originally from Next and the material is wonderfully heavy so it clings kindly. I don’t usually push this as I do not know when the dresses will go up for sale but whoever gets this one will be a lucky lady.