I’ve been taking 300mg of Venlafaxine for a week now. A week is damn all in the context of anti-depressant medication, I know, but I’m actually feeling cautiously optimistic about it. A and I had a really good weekend; I’m not saying that most weekends are shit per se, but experiencing raw fun and pleasure is, as you can imagine, rather rare for your Not-So-Humble Narrator.
Also, last night we saw a very professional and wonderfully authentic production of King Lear. I was actually proud that I was able to go, even though on paper I would always have been keen to do so; last week I’m pretty sure it would have been impossible, and even if I could have dragged myself to it, I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate for any more than about three seconds. When you’re watching an intense Shakespearean tragedy, concentration is clearly a pre-requisite, so that would have been a fucking disaster. As it was, I was actually able to both follow and even enjoy the play, which surprised and gratified me greatly.
I’ve felt fairly level over the last few days (as my Moodscope results, unscientific as they are, would appear to attest – currently they’re about 20% each day, which is much better than the standard 1% or 2%), but I (unlike NewVCB, apparently, in the context of our last appointment at least) am well aware that I have a secondary or at least differential diagnosis of bipolar disorder, type II. All anti-depressants carry with them the risk of (hypo)mania, and that presents a slight concern. It’s particularly noteworthy for me as I genuinely have no conception of what is ‘normal’ contentment/happiness, and what is psychiatric pathology; I simply do not have a proper frame of reference from before mentalism. Arguably, if you hold to the medical model at least, the mentalism was always – to a greater or lesser extent – there anyway, thus rendering a frame of reference devoid of it impossible.
I’m reminded of Freud’s old dictum about the transition from ‘hysterical misery to common unhappiness’, or whatever way it was that he put it. Let me make this clear: I am still strongly depressed, still suffering the usual intrusions of PTSD and occasional psychosis and dissociation, and am still terrified of leaving the house (particularly alone – although I went to a non-Paul appointment by myself yesterday, about which I was very pleased). Drugs don’t cure people – actually, as you know, I don’t believe that anything actually cures people – but maybe I was too quick to condemn Venlafaxine. Maybe, to use the old phrase employed by myself, both VCBs and doubtless countless others, medication can at least take the edge off the ‘hysterical misery’.
So, so far, so acceptable. In other news, I’m on a diet again and, again, am cautiously hopeful that I can stick to it. Since I’ve been taking 600mg of Seroquel, my cravings for sweet stuff have spiralled out of control. A few weeks ago I ate six bars of chocolate and three Creme fucking Eggs in one day! Unsurprisingly, I’ve gained 11 lbs since the last time I weighed myself, which was a fucking year ago (I know I have a dangerous personality, so I keep away from the scales. There’s no danger of any imminent eating disorder given my humongous size, but I don’t want to step onto a slippery slope and become obsessed with my weight). To that end, yesterday, I procured some Slimfast, and have found that the Cafe Latte flavour can (again) take the edge off my craving for such ridiculous amounts of crap. This is all weird to me, because savoury rubbish rather than sweet stuff has always been my weakness. This is why I opine that Seroquel, not just me, is to blame. Anyhow, if it fails, it fails. I’m also planning to re-quit smoking next month, but again – if I don’t, then I don’t. There’s no point in self-vituperating about it (that’s easy to fucking say, mind you…). I want to lose weight and get back off cigarettes, but if my mental illnesses don’t like that, then I am a slave to them. All I can say is that I’ll try.
For all my positivity in the last 600 words, though, there has been a lot troubling me in the last few days too – I mean, yes, the usual pervades my mind (abuse, fear, therapy, blah de blah). But it’s not just that. A lot has been afoot in parts of the mental health blogosphere of late, and it has left me feeling very disillusioned. I’ve been angry and frustrated on behalf of the personnel in question, and furthermore it left me questioning why the fuck I even write what I do here. I was actually asked this question by a third party fairly recently (respectfully, I’d add), and defended myself on the grounds that this blog is nothing more than a personal journal.
Is it though? When I sat and thought about it, I’m not really sure any more. It’s not meant to be anything more, but to my surprise it’s morphed into something more popular than I could ever have expected when I started writing it in May 2009. The thing is, sometimes I feel pressurised to write, to the extent that I get irritated by my ‘need’ to blog. This is especially true of my reviews of therapy sessions, which are by their nature very long. I mean, I could reduce them to abstracts rather than specifics, but then all the minutiae would all be lost and forgotten to time, and I don’t want that. I want all I can possibly remember here, for me, for posterity, for recollection of the healing points made, and for help in avoidance of the bad. But, perhaps paradoxically, the more I have felt under pressure to sit down and write said posts, the less I have been able to do it. My motivation, minuscule as it was in the first place, erodes completely. I find excuses to avoid writing. I feel anxiety rising from the pit of my stomach – not because of the content I wish to record, but because of the recording itself. It’s pathetic, I know.
What all this culminated in was this: I wrote two posts that I haven’t published. Both declared that I was taking a (possibly lengthy) break from writing here (at least publicly); one entry was bitter and angry, one more measured and considered. I sought advice from another blogger and from A, and decided to wait before I published either.
Cue today. I went out the back to smoke and sat down and just thought about it for a long while. For all the negative sides to it, and for all the unpleasantness of the last few weeks in parts of the Madosphere, I think I have done something worthwhile in writing this blog. For myself. If it is somehow worthwhile for others as ‘entertainment’, a form of advocacy or whatever, then that is a very beneficial side effect – but with no disrespect intended at all, I don’t write it for you. The blog is public merely because I value feedback, support or advice for myself, but if commentators/readers derive catharsis from it, then that’s an excellent and gratifying incidental.
So I will not be taking any sort of extended break. I’m not sure how I’ll catch up on all the psychotherapy stuff, but I’ll work it out sooner or later.
To be clear, if people don’t like the realities they read in the mental health blogs out there (regardless of who the author may be), then – as I’ve said a million times before – then DON’T FUCKING READ the mental health blogs out there. Just click the ‘x’ on the top right (a variable location if you’re a Linux user, that said), and go the fuck away. S.I.M.P.L.E.
Otherwise, readers, Twitter friends, etc, you do (I hope) know that I value you all very, very deeply. Without social media, and without this blog, I wouldn’t have made so many wonderful, gentle, kind, genuine and supportive people – in fact, not just ‘people’, but ‘friends‘ - and for me that actuality easily trumps the negatives associated with what I do here. Thank you all for continuing to follow the life and times of Yours Truly, and for all your amazing encouragement, friendship and kinship.
Onwards and upwards.