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Searching, Always Searching

20 May

I’m sorry I’ve been so utterly unreachable and quiet this past month or so. First the crushing defeat of depression was nipping at my heels and running me ragged, and then I went on a month long trip to America. I visited friends, I met my half brother, but still I couldn’t shake the drunken, depressive devil free from my shoulder. I think he must have talons the size of fifty states because whatever I did the bastard and his friends wouldn’t leave me alone. But I’m home now, I have been for weeks. Has anything changed though? No, nothing apart from the sights, sounds and silence I’ve surrounded myself with.

Last week I had another appointment with the psychologist. In my previous appointment I was what she described as “hypomanic”.  This time around I was anxious, in floods of tears, incredibly depressed and apparently I looked “ill”.  Yes, that would be because I had ventured out the day before and spent the better part of a lazy afternoon in the pub. I was self-medicating on alcohol because the thoughts, the feelings, the paranoia, it was impossible to live with.

The woman, the psychologist as she calls herself, tried to palm my symptoms off on drinking. I was sitting there stunned, alone, crying and wondering if there would ever come a time when somebody would listen to me. I mean really listen. Listen to what I have to say about the way I feel and respond in a manner that tells me you understand and you’re going to do everything in your power to help me banish this fucking illness from my mind.

She then murmured on about me needing to stop drinking because that’s why I was feeling so terrible. Fine, I understand alcohol can be a depressant because I’ve been told that a million times before. But no, feeling that way was what led me to the local pub in the first place. I’ve been feeling like this without drinking, goddamn it! I drink because I can’t stand myself and I don’t want to be left alone with my thoughts!

My mind scares me when I leave the house and I’m convinced the two people ahead of me on the pathway are conspiring to murder me as I pass them by. I’m worried when I overhear people talking close to me and I think they’re discussing how ugly I am or why they don’t like me. I don’t even think I can return to my volunteer job now because I spent the best part of three weeks drowning myself in thoughts of how everybody in that office wanted to make me leave because they didn’t want me there anymore.

I saw that my local Mind office (The place I volunteer at) had released their first newsletter. I read it, scanned the pages and when I saw another man had joined the ranks and was doing the same job as me I was convinced it was a conspiracy. That was their way of telling me I wasn’t wanted, I thought. They haven’t mentioned me and I’m now reading between the lines. I came to the conclusion so quickly and the feelings were so powerful I’m still having trouble processing them. I know its paranoia now, but at the time I didn’t. It was real to me and I started to frantically think of what I could have done wrong. Why did I do that made them want to cut me loose? I wrote charity letters for them, I did everything they asked! Were they just using me for a while? Were they planning on doing this all along?

Thankfully these feelings have subsided since and I’m no longer caught so tightly in the grip of paranoia. I deleted facebook friends because I was convinced they were gossiping about me, I’ve hidden myself away in my room, I refused to listen to my iPod as I walked home in case somebody attacked me, I’ve done all these things because of incessant worrying and fears.

Is this another symptom of Bipolar disorder? Does paranoia go hand-in-hand with the manic stages, the crashing lows and this strange tingling across my skin when my mood begins to skyrocket?

The psychiatrist continued her appraisal of me and said I needed to start a course of anti-depressants. Her tone of voice was dull, lackluster and made me think I was either the most boring individual she had ever had the misfortune of meeting or her mind was elsewhere. As in, ‘Oh God, when I left the house this morning did I lock the door?’ I’m pretty sure that was where her mind was at.

My mind was on an entirely different level though. “Anti-depressants?” I said, staring at the woman with red rimmed eyes. “But… What happened to Bipolar?

I know I need anti-depressants to keep the low moods at bay, but the way she was announcing this I had a feeling she was sweeping the whole Bipolar diagnosis under the carpet.

“Who said you had Bipolar?” The woman, allegedly a psychiatrist, asked me.

Well, she did. But my counselor was the first person to broach the topic so I told her he had suspicions that I could have it.

“Hmm,” She drawled, looking through her notes. “What anti-depressants have you taken before?”

It went on like this until the meeting was thankfully over.

“Do you want me to ring and let you know what’s happening?” The alleged psychiatrist said to me after she had informed me she would talk to a colleague about what depression medication I needed to take.

“Uh, yes.” I answered, dragging my feet to the exit and willing myself not to break down and cry.

“Okay, I will.” She replied, stopping at the exit for a spilt-second. “Goodbye.”

I didn’t bother to watch her walk away; I just left as quickly as I could and swallowed the lump in my throat. The tears started running down my cheeks and I was so frustrated at the meeting I’d just encountered I dialed the number of my counselor. My God, I was standing in the street by a busy NHS walk in centre and I was crying for all to see.

I talked to him, all but begged for an appointment that same day and was told he had a free slot in an hour and a half. I walked to town, not wanting to sit on the bus and cry. It was a slow walk and I was falling into paranoia over the alleged psychiatrist. I couldn’t understand why she was doing this to me! Why was she suddenly not taking me seriously? And why wasn’t her colleague in the appointment like she was supposed to be? I’d been told that she would be there and it was even in the letter I’d received.  Did they think I was pretending to have all these symptoms? But I wasn’t doing this for attention, I was actually ill.

I willed away some time in McDonalds with a Diet Pepsi and I stared into space for what seemed like forever. Soon I caught the bus and was ranting away in my counselor’s office about what had just happened. He wanted to ask how my holiday had gone but I was more interested in venting my fears.

It’s actually thanks to him I have now started a course of medication. He was unhappy with what had happened and said he would contact the alleged psychiatrist if she hadn’t contacted me by Tuesday. I rang him on said Tuesday letting him know I still hadn’t heard from the woman, even though she had been saying she would fax the prescription of anti-depressants to my doctors the very same day. He couldn’t get in touch with her either, but had my file opened, the prescription found and it was finally sent to my doctors where I could pick it up.

The strange thing is I’m not taking anti-depressants…

My medication, Quetiapine: a Bipolar med.

I don’t understand how I was prescribed this when the alleged psychiatrist spent a lovely amount of time going through different anti-depressants with me. Does this medication also work as an antidepressant or just as a mood stabiliser to stop my hypomanic phases? I have absolutely no bloody idea either way. What I do know is I would love a string of answers for once. A sharp, solid answer I can digest and then I won’t have to Google my questions in hopes I will find some closure.

I think I have Bipolar, the people around me think I have it, so why can’t the alleged psychiatrist put me out of my misery? I have another appointment with her later next month and I’m in two minds not to go. A definitive answer means I can work on myself and strive to fight this illness and all it throws at me while on medication. No answer leaves me swimming blind, alone and with a severe cramp in every limb. The woman, let’s call her ‘Alleged’ doesn’t contact me when she says she will, doesn’t fax my prescriptions to my doctor, seems bored when I speak, can’t give me a definitive answer, leaves me feeling unsure of myself and rather paranoid… The list goes on!

Perhaps I need to kick Alleged to the curb and ask for a new psychiatrist or maybe even a new brain?

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Why Me?

21 Mar

Dear Diary,

My mood slumped last night and I could feel it happening. That happy-go-lucky heart of mine lost its hypomanic sparkle and I crashed to a place where worry, anger and tears are the norm.  I read about Bipolar II Disorder and I wondered if that’s what’s wrong with me. My eyes drank in the words until I felt like my head was going to explode and then I slammed my laptop shut because I couldn’t stomach anymore. The list of symptoms I was reading, they were describing how I’ve been feeling! The depressive lows are becoming worse and I’m scared one day I will drown in my misery because the suicidal feelings are stronger and stronger each time the darkness infects my mind. I’m not saying I’m depressed now, just slightly miserable, but I know the depression is coming for me.

I woke up today and sighed because I had to contact the psychiatrist again. They said they would call yesterday, there was no phone call, and so it was up to me to see what the hell was happening. I realise when I look back now that I’m starting to get snappy with people again. I’m irritated at the slightest of things and that isn’t normal. I’m usually more pleasant in social circles, but my brain isn’t having any of that today. I guess I’m going to have to live like this until early May because they won’t give me medication until I sit through another appointment. Joy of fucking joys, I thought, this is just what I need! Now I’m going away on holiday none the wiser and wondering if any doctor will ever take my worries seriously.

Yes, I’m off to Heathrow next Tuesday and part of me can’t wait to get away from England because I need some time to pull myself together. I’m scared of a diagnosis like Bipolar because it’s a lifelong illness and even with medication, it’s always going to be there. I’m scared my life will never change for the better and most of all, I’m scared because I’ve always known I was different, but I never knew it was a mental illness making me act this way. I’d come to terms with the depression label a long time ago and now that process has to begin again because pitiful lows signal major depression, but coupled with those beautiful highs I’ve been experiencing, I feel completely out of my depth.

Yesterday I was convinced every time I stood at the bus stop a bus would come hurtling down the street right away because I was lucky. I had two days of this, Monday and Tuesday, where I felt on top of the world and I could do no wrong. I would stand at the bus stop for no longer than a few minutes and the transport would arrive and I’d be grinning manically. I even told a woman as we were standing there that I was lucky and she wouldn’t have to wait much longer. She was complaining because she had been standing there for twenty five minutes and I told her not to worry because each time I arrive at the bus stop the bus soon rolls in. Of course when that happened straight away, I became even more convinced I was on a lucky streak. I should point out I no longer feel this way at all. It vanished when I came back to Earth with a bump and now I’m left wondering what the heck I was doing Monday and Tuesday. I mean, I know what I was doing, but why was I acting that way?

I’ve never believed in luck before and I certainly don’t court it or babble about it when I’m depressed or my usual miserable self. So is that a symptom of Bipolar, a tie in with hypomania or am I losing my mind completely? I’m sitting here right now thinking about all these things and I don’t know what to do. Part of me doesn’t want to be patient and wait until May because I need this all to be sorted right this second. Another part of me wants to run away from this because I don’t want to be told I’m crazy and that’s how I feel, absolutely crazy.

I tried to talk to my mum about everything and she shot me down straight away. She said I shouldn’t be listening to other people because there’s nothing wrong with me and I need to get a job and get on with my life. If I was being honest I would say it crushed me to hear those words because all I wanted was a little support. But I’m not being honest though, so not one word bothered me and I don’t care what she has to say on the subject. I’m not lazy and I’m not selfish, I’m hurting, I’m scared and I feel all alone.

I’ve been told families are supposed to be supportive and if that’s the case, what the hell happened to mine? I think mines broken, just like my brain and I can’t fix either of them. But what I am going to do is try and focus on the positives. I’m going on holiday in six days and if this is Bipolar I guess I’m in good company. Perhaps there’s a reason why I’m far more creative and like to toss around words until I’m the puppet master of paragraphs? Whatever the reason, I’m thankful I find the writing process so therapeutic because it helps to post here; it really does, especially on a day like today.

Well, Well, Well, What Do We Have Here Then?

19 Mar

Dear Diary,

I don’t know where to start really, my mind is racing at such a speed, I feel like my neck is going to break. This morning I had an appointment with a psychiatrist and I was finally given an answer. I guess I should see this as a positive experience because the lady was lovely, but I didn’t really receive the answer I was hoping for. Somewhere deep in my heart I knew it was always a possibility because my moods aren’t stable and haven’t been since November, yet when those words left the woman’s lips, I couldn’t quite believe it. Me? I thought, but I have depression! I’m depressed! The doctors I’ve spoken to have always told me I suffer from depression! 

When I left the stark white office I didn’t have the time to digest the information because I had to rush to the Jobcentre. Yes, all that trouble I caused myself when I snapped at the sullen faced advisor has been dealt with now. My local Jobcentre relented and I’m still searching for a job. But now I have this niggling feeling inside me because Christ, who the hell would want me to work for them?

After the Jobcentre, I went to Mind and I sat in another office, but this time I was in front of a computer. I like my volunteer job, I really do. It’s helping my confidence and brick by nervous brick, I’m beginning to shed my terror at holding another job.  And the brilliant people at Mind helped me snatch my benefits back after I lost them due to no fault of my own. Well, those snappy words did leave my lips, the depressed tears did roll down my cheeks and I did have a little breakdown at my local Jobcentre, but now I have a reason for that!

I left Mind early today because I felt like the walls were closing in on me. I knew I needed to go home and put everything I had learnt today into perspective. Of course with me being my usual disorganised and clumsy self, I’m still trying to come to terms with the tsunami in my head. My brother did take me out to lunch though, which was a sweet gesture and the baguette was beautiful. But back to the main point I’m trying desperately to explain before my head implodes…

The psychiatrist said I was currently in a Hypomanic state. Add the severely depressed episodes into the equation and what do you have? A mood disorder, possibly Bipolar.

Well, fuck.

FUCK.

FUCK.

FUCK!

Why does this have to happen to me now!? I was beginning to really understand my depression, the triggers and what I could do to make myself feel a little better. But now my life has another twist, a turn and everything is up in the air. I know there are different types of Bipolar disorders and I don’t know what I have. To be honest, I think it’s difficult to diagnose in the first place and I just want to tear my hair out. Although there is one side to this illness I’m quite taken with: The creativity. I’m being doused in flames of words, thoughts and ideas to the point where I’m jumping from one thought to another. It’s a constant rush and it’s making me feel queasy but compared to depression, this is a walk in a pretty, little park with ten foot flowers and a famous Beatle on every corner.

I love the creative side to this, even though I just stopped myself from decorating the house the other week. There are these small tubes of paint downstairs and I really wanted to splatter the walls with bright colours and express myself like a true artist. I should probably note here that I’m not an artist and I can’t paint, draw or create masterpieces. Although if I tried… You see what’s happening?  My thoughts are so pure, happy and fluffy they’re telling me I can do anything or be anyone! It’s only when I write these things down do I wonder if my brain is trying to get me in trouble.

Oh, bollocks. I don’t know what to do right now.  I slept about four hours last night, I fell asleep for at least an hour and a half earlier and although my body tells me I need sleep, my mind is hurtling away from me and I don’t want to wrangle with it. This isn’t depression and I don’t want to die. There are no deep, dark, bleak, black thoughts so why should I be trying to calm myself down? This is a much needed and loved run of happiness and long may it continue!