The Mail team has been preparing for weeks for a pub quiz called Battle of the Businesses. I am not terribly good at quizzes and was concerned that I would be kicked off the team. Imagine my delight then when the day came round I actually managed to answer some of the questions correctly.
We do extremely well in the quiz and end up coming third out of a total of nine teams. We have been swatting up on quiz questions since the quiz was announced in January and it all seems to have paid off on the night. There is a round about Great Britains, a picture round about dragons and an impossibly difficult music round in which I think I’ve got one but end up submitting the answer for the cover rather than the original. Whoopsadaisy!
Lots of things have been going right of late, my mortgage offer has been progressing nicely and although I don’t think I will truly believe it until I have the keys to the house it has given me back a bit of bounce in my step that was much needed.
Depression is a funny thing. One day it can consume you to the point that you think life is no longer worth living and then the next day it lifts and you are left wondering what all that fuss was about. Yesterday I thought I had hit into a downward spiral and I was on the verge of starting back on the Fluoxetine to try to control it. Today though, relatively speaking I have been fine. I have laughed and joked and although I don’t feel completely well it seems to have faded.
To me this is a lesson that no matter how hard things get I must keep on trying. I was at the stage where I thought I was no longer able to do my job, should give up on the idea of ever living alone and was generally just a being that should be left out with the rubbish. If I had allowed this train of thought to take over completely I don’t suppose it would have been very long before I reached the stage where suicide was a real option.
It is dangerous thinking that descends upon me when I get depressed and it is something that I am hoping this course I am due to start on Thursday will help me to deal with and prevent it from getting to a more sinister stage. I am understandably nervous about it as I have found in the past that therapies can actually cause me to descend into a depression and with all the stresses of buying a house I simply cannot afford to let it consume me.
I am trying hard to keep it at bay and hopefully I will manage to but there are days that are easier than others and thankfully today was one of those days.
Depression can creep up on you so slowly that you barely notice it arrive or it can come down on you like a wall suddenly overnight while you’re sleeping in bed with no idea that your world is darkening outside your dreams. The first sign for me is a withdrawal from everything and everyone. It starts with every day people that pass me by, I stop making eye contact and start huddling into my coat, head down, then it spreads to friends and eventually to even family.
I cannot bear company because everyone just seems far too darn ordinary and cheerful. Laughter may be the best medicine for some but for me, when I am depressed at least, it is like the sound of nails drawing down a chalkboard. It seems amazing that life carries on and cruel somehow that while you are trapped in a prism inside yourself that the world is carrying on as always.
I stop reading the paper, stop caring about politics and cannot abide radio. I stop wanting to be a part of anything and my only comfort is to be alone. Even books cannot give me any relief from my condition and I detest magazines where women are going about their day reading about skincare and top ways to redefine one’s waist.
The world becomes increasingly infuriating and I long to be far away. It is times like this that I long to be a hermit crab, scuttling away to a place as dark as the mood that engulfs me. I am alone but people are all around me.
It is ridiculous and makes me feel like a child but everything is making me cry at the moment. I do my best to hold it together all day as the boy is leaving back up to Manchester and I don’t want him to worry but by the time dinner comes round I am so distant that I can barely even engage with the waitress.
I speak to the boy and he tells me that he couldn’t get a seat on the train and I cry because I cannot bear to think of him like that. The fact that I am too tired to do any exercise makes me cry, the fact that I am tired makes me cry and the fact that the boy is no longer here all makes me cry.
I hate it when I get like this. I am no good to anyone and all I want to do is hide away and I have no idea how I am going to cope with work or the week ahead. I am meant to be starting the CBT course on Thursday but I barely even have the energy to think about it let alone to do it.
I am depressed and it is at this point that the boy stands in and insists that we make an appointment for me to see my CPN. Early intervention I guess is key but I just don’t even want to pick up the phone to anyone let alone tell them how I’m feeling. I wish there was a magic legal tablet that I could take that would make it all go away and just lift me from this lull but there isn’t and it sucks so so much.
I don’t understand why the depression is back but then when I think about it when I am feeling this way I cannot understand why it didn’t stay in the first place. I am so sad and fed-up and down that everything, including the idea of living alone just feels like an insurmountable task. I am useless at conversation, at my job, at making dinner and everything else beside. I don’t know how to cope or how to get through another day and in the car I feel the return of an all too familiar wish of not wanting to be here. This is the danger that I am trying to avoid but it is not easy and I am feeling so alone.
This week’s first shoes are a pair of sandals from Dune. I am struggling to walk in them but this is probably because I am predictably dragging my feet. It is times like this when I understand why people want to wear Uggs. Slippers is all that I want to wear and if I had my choice I would be wearing a dressing gown as well.
Today has been a bit of a strange one. The boy was looking at a drumming website today and I just felt so irritable at all the tapping that I had to leave the room. I was sat there reading the paper when all of a sudden I was overcome by despondency and what felt like the familiar dip of the start of a depression. I continued to read the paper, trying to focus on the cheerier articles but by the time the boy came in I was severely blue.
We had discussed going out for dinner but all I wanted to do was go to bed. It is very hard when one is depressed to know what is best to do. Do you wallow in your mood, go to sleep and hope it lifts by the morning or try to distract yourself in the hope that it fades. Every part of me today said wallow but in the end I forced myself to go out despite the dip.
It was not an easy decision to make and I felt conscious while out at dinner that maybe I wasn’t being entertaining enough. It was hard to leave the house and I ended up spending far too much time putting make-up on, brushing my hair into various different styles and fretting about the state of my body.
The boy is a sweetheart, the kind of man who tells you that you don’t need make-up and that you look lovely as you are. Usually it’s sweet but tonight I just find it annoying as I feel so negative about myself that I just can’t believe anything he says.
The night out is not too bad, I struggle through and even manage a few laughs. We have a good time and the dip it seems has lifted at least for now.
I worry that it is coming back and how I’m going to cope if it does. There is the blog of course, and this time there is support but what if I get too low to take it. These are all silly little what ifs but when I am feeling this way it is hard not to dwell on them in this way.
My laptop has stood me in good stead for some years now, so much so that when the photographer came from The Sun to take my picture for the paper and dared to suggest I use his Apple laptop for a pose I was slightly offended. I got it the Christmas before the blog started and it has seen me through several depressions and a nervous breakdown.
It comes in great use when I am low and too sad to do anything but watch Sopranos, West Wing or The Wire. I get into bed, pull the duvet up to my chin and sat back on as many pillows as possible indulge in a fantasy far removed from my near comatose existence. I eat and I sleep and I watch and until I start to come out of it that is pretty much all that my life is.
This then is why I am so sad today. My poor little laptop has been on its last legs for some time now and today has finally given up the ghost. It may be something to do with the orange juice I spilled near it, well, on it, or the cold weather or the way it got handled by customs but it is refusing to turn on.
I do not really know what this means for the project but it is going to make it a whole lot harder for me to get through a depression.
Technology has long thwarted me and the boy becomes increasingly frustrated with my general attitude of if I can write with it and go on-line what more do I need.
This comes in contrast to the fact that I am now the proud owner of an i-Phone. Apparently there are all kinds of things I can do with it but at the moment I have become hooked on The Sims. Even when I am feeling blue and under the weather at least I can make my five little people happy by instructing them to dance, read pulp fiction or even whoo hoo, don’t ask.
Hopefully my laptop will fix itself but in the meanwhile if posts are a bit late or haphazard this is the reason for it. Thanks for understanding.
Forgot to mention the other day but this week’s second pair of shoes are boots by Kurt Geiger. They are lovely, warm and slouchy but a little bit on the battered side but I still love them.
While having a cup of tea and looking through my portfolio this morning I find myself looking back to the time when I went, well, a little bit mad. It is not a comfortable time to remember but I feel it is sometimes necessary to do so to remind myself of why I must strive so hard to stay well.
My mood had been all over the place for months and I would find myself falling in and out of love and in and out of friendships at the drop of a hat. My weight was in a constant state of flux and I was coping at work by the skin of my teeth. I remember one day at work when all it took to set me off in floods of tears was a kind word by a colleague.
As my mood went from high to low and back again at an ever increasing speed I started to feel isolated from everyone around me and began to distance myself from them all. People were expressing concern and yet I didn’t want to hear it and even ended up distancing myself from doctors and other professionals who perhaps could have helped me get better.
To me my biggest concern was my physical health and with frequent fainting combined with paranoia and a heightened sense of awareness led to my going to hospital on several occasions. My mother thinks and I would tend to agree that there was perhaps some part of me that realised I was not well and so from that point of view the hospital seemed like the best place for me to be.
After spending several days in Kettering General Hospital however it must have become clear to the staff there that my main problems were with my mental health. I was scared of everyone; not sleeping at all and in the end I was completely paranoid and convinced I was going to die.
I was on Twitter at the time and updating both my status there and on Facebook up to several times an hour with increasingly desperate pleas. I had completely lost it to the point where I ended up convinced that the only place I would be safe was in the hospital’s chapel.
Even when a psychiatrist visited me I did not realise the severity of the situation but the same day I was sectioned and found myself against my will transported to a psychiatric unit in Leicester. Once there, I was by then so very ill and confused that I was convinced the whole thing was a set up. I couldn’t believe that a sick person could be taken somewhere against their will.
I was to spend the next three months in and out of that facility and I wouldn’t come down off my high for more than a month. The staff there were great and the patients even better, nicknaming me HRH due to my tendency to act like a great dame and it must be said at times a Great Dane.
In spite of having scared many people half to death, including myself, friends were incredibly supportive and continued to keep in touch with me even when I descended into a deep depression and often refused to even get out of bed.
Sitting here and looking back on that time I cannot believe how far I have come with the help of finding the right medication, taking it and generally just being supported in the community. I hope I will never reach that stage in my life again but if I do I know that I am lucky enough to have support of loved ones to get me through to the other side.
There are days like today when doing the blog can feel like a bit of a chore. I had some worrying news about the house today and have had to pay a substantial fee for the mortgage and financially and personally it just feels like the waves just keep on coming and I can’t seem to catch a break. I am also conscious that I have not yet read my Bill Bryson book for the book club, still haven’t set up a Read it account and am dreadful at Geography.
All of this makes me feel like a bad person and coming home from work in this frame of mind it is hard to take to the keyboard. Imagine my delight then when I received a message from someone who reads the blog saying that they thought they I should keep on blogging and that they took enjoyment from reading it.
The thing is that although I love wearing shoes and dresses, I do not always do the blog for me. I do it because I love the thought that someone out there who may be having a hard time might read a post and think, thank God I’m not the only one going through this. I hope that someone who has suicidal thoughts will read the post about my dreaded six days spent in hospital and think to themselves, maybe that’s not what I want.
I really am passionate about wanting to help people who suffer with a mental illness in any way that I can. I often wonder whether there is more that I can do and I berate myself that I am not more active in campaigning. What I like to think is that the more time that goes by between episodes the more I’ll be able to take on. Last year I didn’t do a blog or anything really but this year I feel able to start-up the Bipolar Support group, take on another project and blog and hopefully stay well.
It is all very much little by little but when I hear from supporters of the blog and indeed realise the amount of support I get in turn from my own friends and family and from the team in Harborough I can’t help but feel I shall succeed.
The boy has come down today for Valentine’s Day and I am so excited that even my flat shoes can’t bring me down. He turns up to meet me at the front of the Mail’s offices with a bunch of Roses and it is just so good to see him.
It is horrible that we don’t get to see more of each other but this week he is staying until Sunday and I can’t stop smiling.
He is a terrible one for surprises and refuses to tell me where it is we are going for a meal despite my many attempts to coax it out of him. I get ready and wear a pink dress with an open back despite the cold and do my make up just how he likes it to be.
We end up going to Leicester for the night and we have a wonderful time in spite of dreadful service and being charged for the wrong bottle of wine by a snooty waitress. I feel sorry for the boy because he has tried so hard and the meal just seems far too expensive and even just the flowers would have been enough for me.
We decide by the end of the night that although it was lovely to go out for future Valentine’s Days we will stay in and one of us will cook. It seems strange in a way to spend the day of love surrounded by strangers and perhaps next year we will at last have a home in which to be alone.
My mood has been a little flat of late and I wonder that this is reflected somehow in my footwear. Although flat shoes mean that I can run and jump, dance and shimmy, all I want to do is slouch and slump. I am worrying about every tiny little thing there is to worry about, from money to natural disaster. I am anxious about the project, the house falling through and everything else in between.
I feel unmotivated and just quite blue. I can’t seem to lift myself and it is taking me longer and longer to get out of bed each morning. There was a time not so long ago when I looked forward to the start of each day with enthusiasm but I can’t remember when I last did.
I notice aches and pains more and am generally just more self centred. I keep putting things off that I keep meaning to do and when a letter comes through telling me I am at long last at the front of the queue for CBT I do not feel glad about it but think of it as just another thing that I have to do.
It should help I suppose. It is meant to stop reoccurrence of depression and I am lucky to be on it because they do not usually accept bipolar patients on the course. It will take place over ten weeks and there is not only a lot of work in the sessions but a lot of homework to perfect the techniques of what is known as mindfulness based CBT. The idea of it is as I understand it to try to not focus on negative thoughts. To be aware of them but not to let one’s mind fixate upon them.
I am terrified of meeting the other people in the group, of whether we have to tell our story and that I will become unwell during it and so not be able to complete the course. You have to be reasonably well to do it or it does not work.
The thing is that I am not depressed at the moment, I know I’m not, I’m just terribly flat and the problem is that I compare my mood to how I am when I am high and this I know is not helpful as there is nothing on earth that compares to that feeling.
My CPN said that my heel height tends to be a dead give away as to how I am feeling and where my mood is on a scale of one to ten. Wearing flats with a poor excuse of a heel I would tend to agree with her on this occasion.