96 Hours in a Surreal, Mood-Swingy, Mental Dystopia

Adrenaline is a wonderful thing in many ways. It is responsible, at least in part, for the flight-or-fight instinct we humans (and other animals) need to survive when a potential threat may pose danger to us. It can save us from injury, and even from death.

The problem with adrenaline is that by its very nature it is provided to the body as a short-term measure. The hyperarousal of sensations and high levels of coping-mechanisms in evidence when it pumps through our bodies eventually subsides, presumably as soon as the threatening situation has desisted, and then we are left to our own chemical devices. Unfortunately chemistry controls our bloody brains too.

I have an incredible ability to function really rather well during a crisis (that is to say, a crisis that is not directly related to the madness in my head). I tend to switch into a mode in which I am surprisingly resourceful, improvising and calm, yet efficient. In short, I seem like I have a little bit of common sense, and it would be helpful if I could emulate this state during ‘normal’ life.

Alas. That is not to be. When the crisis ends, not only do I lose this mental and functional dexterity, I lose it – you know, go mental. A interestingly described this the other night as a “sort of mini-PTSD”.

Thursday during the day had been quite good, though earlier in the week was marred by depression. There was a major event on in town, and I had gone to it with my mother, for once not cracking up in the middle of a large crowd. She had brought some letters with her from the hateful, doubleplusungoodofevil (hat-tip to bourach) Social Security Agency. Obviously I didn’t read them at the event, but I did when I got home, and fuck me, was I pissed off.

This requires a bit of context. I am currently receiving Employment and Support Allowance, which is basically their shitty new name for Incapacity Benefit. After an initial assessment period, they place you in one of two groups: (a) a ‘Work Related Activity’ group in which you have to regularly meet some underqualified cunt who no doubt patronises you like some dolescum fuckwit with an IQ of four and (b) a ‘Support’ group, in which they leave you the fuck alone.

Because I crack up completely when dealing with anyone I don’t know (and often those I do), because I’m shit at communicating (especially with but not limited the phone), because I am delusional and disassociated at times, because I self-harm and frequently want to kill myself, because I fly into irrationally angry or dysphoric crazy moods over virtually nothing, I was convinced I would be put into group (b). Not so.

I was unconcerned at first, and merely asked them to review their decision, convinced that outlining the situation in greater detail would convince them to review the situation. I asked them, under the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Acts, for all supporting documentation that they had used to make their decision.

These were the documents that Mum brought to me. They refused to change their decision, and included a copy of a form on which I had initially claimed ESA, plus a copy of the medical report from when I was assessed by one of their doctors to apparently make sure my claim was legitimate.

The medical report was what angered me. I was so fucking angry. The stupid cunt had provided not only incomplete information, he had also provided inaccurate information. I was in a mad panic the day I had this assessment – I’m sure I’ve made reference to it here before but I can’t remember where – and didn’t articulate myself well (I never do in the company of people I don’t know, especially in hideously confrontational situations like this), but nevertheless I conveyed, clearly, a number of things to him – eg. the BPD / bipolar II diagnoses (made after the first form was completed), my delusions, the fact that my lack of concentration makes normal tasks at least twice as long as they should be, he regular bouts of disassociation, yada yada yada. He either underplayed the matters discussed, misreported them, or didn’t include them at all. For example, he didn’t once mention the BPD diagnosis. That was the main fucking diagnosis made by Dr C!!! He said I “occasionally” take longer to do things than would normally be expected. The whole thing was fucking bullshit.

In a rage I wrote a contemptuous letter to the knob at SSA who had rejected my request for a redecision. I asked what the sodding hell the point of an intensely stressful medical assessment was when the physician conducting it failed to accurately record all pertinent details of the conversation. I pointed out all the instances where the wankstain doctor had fucked up. I then called my mother and asked her would she accompany me to the CAB the next day with this letter and the rest of the chain of correspondence, to see what way I could proceed. My intention was to appeal the decision.

Then A came in from the gym and suggested going for coffee. I agreed, and thus calmed down. For a while.

We were asked to leave the coffee shop just after 9pm, as surprisingly they were closing – normally they do so much later. We paid up as normal, and proceeded towards the exit.

I realised too late that A wouldn’t see that the shutter was partially suspended, to denote to would-be customers that the place was closing. I am unsure whether or not I have mentioned this but A is visually impaired; he is completely blind in his left eye, and only has partial vision in his right. To avoid walking into things, he tends to look down whilst walking. In this case, of course, that practice caused him to walk into something.

I did shout at him to watch out but it was too late. Right into it he slammed, and Christ, did he slam into it with some force. I tried to examine his head, but he refused to let me and demanded we got out of there. I didn’t realise until he sat in the car that the injured area was bleeding, but bleeding it was – and badly. The worst bit was not that it was bleeding though – but that it was doing so from his right eyelid.

Mercifully, he said he could see perfectly well, but nevertheless, the wound was bleeding considerably and was, for me, too close to his eyeball for comfort.

I told him I was taking him to Casualty (ER, Americans), but he refused to allow me and asked me to take him home. I went into the aforementioned crisis mode and instructed him to apply pressure to the wound with the tissue he’d found. Then I drove home.

In the house, I was able to examine the wound in better light and in better detail. It was worse that I’d thought; his right eyelid was deeply slit, maybe half an inch across. It was hanging there, suspended down the side of his face, like a gaping mouth vomiting up blood. I swear to God I thought I was going to be sick, and I genuinely don’t find myself to be squeamish as a general rule.

I reiterated the need to go to Casualty, but A thought I was being histrionic and again refused to co-operate with this request. He did say that if it was still “as bad” in about an hour he would reconsider. I could not argue with this stubbornness, so I dressed the wound, made him a strong, sweet coffee, kept him warm and made him lie down in a position consistent with treating shock. Whilst making regularly sure he didn’t fall asleep, I then did the only possible sensible thing and started nattering on Twitter, posting pictures of my day and chatting randomly. I mean, what else would one do when one’s beloved had cunted the only eye out of which he can see?!

Eventually he told me that the dressing was becoming moist and needed changing, so I removed it; yet again I was disgusted by what I saw. For once I broke the crisis mode and became a bit distressed; A said that if it would prevent me from cracking up he would go to Casualty. To prevent him panicking, I put on my metaphorical mask and pretended to have calmed down, telling him firmly that I wanted it put on record that I wanted him to go to the hospital, and not because of my horror at his wound, but rather because I strongly felt that the gash needed stitches and that if he didn’t get them he may have ended up with a permanently hanging-down eyelid.

A asked if this was a serious or exaggerated belief, to which I responded by telling him the former was strongly the case. At this point, he finally – if reluctantly – agreed to go to the hospital. This was about 10.30pm.

He was seen by a triage nurse fairly quickly, who confirmed that your humble narrator had been right all along; the cut was deep and needed stitched.

To cut a long story short (short? On this blog?!), we were told we’d be there for at least three hours, and indeed we were. A was taken into the clinical area after some time, though he was still not seen for about another hour. In his absence, I read the scandal rags lying about the waiting room and enjoyed a few amicable chats on Twitter, ranging from discussion about the situation right down (up?) to discussion on the finer points of characterisation in The Wire (!). In short, I was still in the crisis mode; I was tired and a bit fed up, but was, given the circumstances, in fairly good form, although I did see a cop come in wanting to have her charge assessed under the Mental Health Act, at which point I had a horrible sense of foreboding.

It began to change when A finally emerged from what I had begun to think were fucking gas chambers behind the evil closed doors of the clinical area. I couldn’t find my parking ticket and went into a mad dysphoric, defeated panic thinking my poor car would be marooned in the stupid hospital car park. I eventually went back to the waiting room and managed to find the thing lying under the chair in which I had been seated, and temporarily calmed down.

I made A some Hot Chocolate when we got back to the house and took a sleeping pill, but when I got into bed I completely fucking lost it. I don’t really remember it – I remember it happening, but as if through some sort of tainted window or glasses. In fact, when A alluded to it the next day, I was astonished, as I had honestly thought it had been a dream (though I suppose the whole evening seemed completely surreal by that point). Apparently I had been crying to the point of almost screaming, then laughing, then talking gibberish about vices and blackness. I do recall him asking what the madness felt like or what I was thinking; I can only assume that these odd allusions were my best attempt to describe what the the sensations, the feelings, the (lack of?) thoughts. It is kind of like a non-physical vice. I know that makes no sense whatsoever, but I can’t think of better terms.

Despite my instructions to the contrary, A got up the next morning and went to work (!). However, as I was leaving the house to meet my mother for the CAB adventure, I saw him coming back and spoke briefly to him. Basically his colleagues, including his boss, couldn’t work out why the hell he’d gone into work and said he was to leave if he felt his eye becoming strained at the computer. Shortly after 12, he did exactly that. For once in his life he actually went and lay down after I’d gone.

So onwards to CAB, then. I went and got my mother and off we went with the myriad of letters and forms from the social security knobjockeys. I was delighted to see that the CAB was empty, save for three children sitting there, obviously waiting for their parent(s) to come out of the consultation rooms. I went to the reception and briefly explained the situation.

“The only thing is,” the girl said, “we only do appointments in the afternoons. You’ll have to come back in the morning – Monday perhaps.”

I contested this vehemently. I pointed out that I had been there in the afternoon without an appointment before, and asked when it had changed. She said she didn’t know, but handed me a sheet detailing the opening times. So I had to leave, no advice on what to do about the SSA having been forthcoming. This was annoying in the extreme.

We went back to my ma’s house and I asked would she ring the knob at SSA on my behalf and ask if the medical assessment was a valid basis for an appeal against their decision, given that said assessment was inaccurate. A, who works in legislation (although a different type), had looked at the relevant regulations and explained them to me, so I felt that I knew mostly where I stood – but I wanted the SSA’s own take on it. She did phone the bloke, but the wanker that answered the phone had no idea who he was and said merely that he would find out and get the bloke in question to ring Mum back. We both doubted that this would indeed be the case, given general civil service efficiency, so I left and went back to A’s house.

A was in bed when I got back so I pottered about downstairs for a while then eventually took him a cup of tea and sat with him for a while. After about half an hour my mobile rang – it was my mother. The knob had, amazingly, returned her call. Apparently he was a “lovely fella” though he sounded like a cunt to me when she described the conversation between them.

Firstly, he said that I don’t really need to panic about the work-related activity wank, as apparently the ‘Advisor’ decides on your competence for same at the first meeting, and as such may not call you for another wanky meeting for six months, or even up to a year. This is good. The rest is not so good.

Cunthead contends I was assessed under the Regulations that A had looked into. No fucking shit, Sherlock-Poirot-Miss Marple-Nancy Drew-fuckhead. He contends that the SSA cannot undertake a new medical assessment (not true according to Regulations). He contends that I was assessed under two relevant Schedules of the Regulations (not true; he described the awarding of points under both Schedules, when in fact they are only awarded under one of them). He contends that the physician that originally assessed me, when Mum protested about said doctor’s inaccurate testimony on the medical report, was assessing me merely on the basis of the form I had already filled in when I originally applied for ESA.

Two annoyances emerge from this. One, what the fucking sodding wanking hell is the point of a medical assessment when it examinines stuff they already know? Under the Regulations, it states that such assessments are requested when “more information is required”. I provided “more information,” and it was ignored. Two, Cunthead said the original form was “very lucidly written”, thereby implying that I do not have any cognitive impairment, and thereby implying that I am a liar in claiming that I do.

Obviously I am not always thus impaired. I could not write this steaming pile of bollocks on a semi-regular basis if I were, for example. That does not mean that I am perfectly lucid and mentally competent at all (or even most) other times, however. This blog is not written as frequently as I would like, and indeed is sometimes rambling, because I cannot concentrate or focus myself adequately. Furthermore, the stupid form to which he alluded does not ask a range of questions that are pertinent to the Regulations on which it is supposedly based. If the form means so fucking much, as opposed to the pointless but exceptionally stressful medical assessment, why the fuck doesn’t it ask more relevant questions instead of meaningless drivel such as, “can you count to three whilst standing on your head smiling down the phone and staring at the face of Satan out of your office window?”

Anyway, Cunthead told Mum that because this is a new benefit that I would be the first to appeal it, if I went ahead as I intended. As such, the process could take up to six months, and would involve a tribunal. Although I would not have to attend this tribunal, he said it would be strongly advisable for me to do so. I would need supporting evidence from C, Dr C and LGP (I have already written to the latter two requesting this, and will ask the former for same tomorrow).

It practical terms, an appeal is fairly pointless. The difference in money is something like a fiver a week. But it is not about money; there is a principle involved here. It makes me so angry that despite very debilitating mental health conditions I’ve been trying my very best to hold down a job since I was 16. And would I have wasted five years and thousands of pounds in going to university if I’d wanted to be a layabout dolescum all my life? I DO NOT WANT TO BE IN THIS FUCKING POSITION. I am trying to get out of it, but for now I am stuck in it. That’s the fucking way it is. I cannot help it!

It really infuriates me that if I had not bothered to try and work like my cousin Sarah, for instance, that I could just go on and claim benefits year after year, yet because I tried to make my own way in the world, I am now being punished when I do need the social security system.

I spat down the phone at my mother, “Mr Cunthead and his tribunal will be sorry when they are standing over my grave,” then pretended to cheer up and eventually got rid of her. Then, once more, I lost it completely.

A said that he does not think I have the mental strength at the minute to fight what is likely to be a protracted battle, and should be more pragmatic in my approach. I don’t want to do that, but maybe it’s what I need to do. But the SSA get away with nonsense like this because they rely on people like me backing down on matters like this. My head is fucked just thinking about it.

A also made the point later that my responses both to his eye injury and to the social security saga exemplified why I cannot go back to work at present, or in the imminent future. He said that even if I deal with a stressful situation with apparent competence at the time, I am only going to end up having a breakdown about it shortly thereafter and fucking up any progress made through dealing with said stressful event. I think this is a pretty accurate summary of the current situation.

And so to Saturday. A was feeling sufficiently better to be able to attend the big event in town to which I had gone with Mum on Thursday, so off we headed to that. I was hyper, indeed hypomanic, in stark contrast to some of the moods described here hitherto. I didn’t even lose it in the middle of the crowds, and was actually somewhat perplexed by A’s considerable aversion to them.

After a while he relaxed and we even ran into his mother and step-father, with whom we then had a drink. I was still in my hypomanic state and appeared to be the life and soul of the party, cracking jokes and making apparently interesting conversation. They are constantly perplexed by the fact that I am mental, as they very rarely see anything other than a woman that seems happy and fun to be around. They know now that part of my diagnosis is bipolar, so I suppose that makes more sense, but nevertheless, I don’t think they get it, and I can’t blame them. A’s father and step-mother don’t even know about my insanity, but then we see much less of them.

Anyhow, I don’t remember how or why we ended up separated from the in-laws. I had fallen and seriously hurt my leg, which probably affected my mood, and certainly caused me to spend the rest of the day limping. It is quite possible that in light of this, or simply for no real reason, I eventually lost it and demanded we leave immediately. I do remember arguing with A shortly afterwards and storming off on him. He phoned me, and I answered, but I remember hanging up on him, though I don’t recall what he said that acted as a catalyst for that action. I then rang him back and we found each other and left together. For another while, I returned to vague mania and as we waited for a bus, I was chattering away quite amicably, if probably somewhat inanely.

When we exited the bus later though, there was some other stupid argument, no doubt over nothing, causing A to walk off without me. I have no recollection of what happened next. The next thing I do remember was being ensconced in a small corner between a wall and a fence, holding my phone in one hand, and reaching for the newly re-appeared A’s with the other. I have no idea how or why I got there, or how he found me. This amnesia disturbs me. Was I intending to sleep rough in this tiny corner or something? If so, my choice of location was pretty stupid, given as it is literally about 20 yards away from a loyalist housing estate.

I remember the rest of the evening clearly (this above was about 10pm). I went back into a hypomanic state and happily nattered again all the way home, cheerily suggesting the procurement of a Chinese meal, then contentedly watching a recorded football match from earlier. But before I went to bed, my mood dropped again, and I remember telling bourach on Twitter that I was off to self-harm.

I went up to bed with the absolute intention of executing this deed (if that’s read as a pun it isn’t intended), but A was awake and was talking to me, so I was unable to get to my knife, and eventually the sleeping tablet kicked in and I fell asleep, skin as intact as it had been.

I remember little of Sunday. I was beginning to feel flu-ey, and my leg was killing me after Saturday’s fall, but other than that it’s a blur. The only thing I really remember, though the specifics are non-existent in my vault of memories, is that I was thoroughly and utterly depressed all day.

My moods had regulated a little by Monday, though by then I was completely physically ill, and I am only starting to recover from that now.

So, between mental and physical illness, I could not make good on my intention to write later last week, for which my apologies.

96 hours of mood-swingy-madness. Is this (a) normal for a mental, (b) a continuing result of my reaction to Venlafaxine, (c) environmental or with direct and observable causation, (d) coincidental or (e) a subconscious reaction to such a long time without C, who is essentially the only person to whom I will expunge myself?

Well. If (a), I’m fucked. If (b), I’m fucked until 8 September, but hopefully Dr C or her minions will help me then. If (c) or (d), I’m completely fucked, as I can’t avoid all circumstances like these all of the time. If (e), tomorrow may bring some light back into my darkness, as C and I are reunited at 9.30am.

Though I am worried now, of course. I’ve read up a lot on BPD recently and it’s the one mental illness that even members of the psychiatric establishment cannot stand and even fear. So now I am convinced that C will no longer want to treat me. Rationally, I rail against this belief, but (rationality + me = rational) is about as accurate an equation as (2 + 2 = 495).

A report will be made here on the occurrences between 9.30 and 10.20am tomorrow, regardless of what actually happens.


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4 thoughts on “96 Hours in a Surreal, Mood-Swingy, Mental Dystopia

  1. I’m not sure why the mood swings are happening. Could it be that you had a really really stressful week and that most people would find what had happened difficult to cope with? Maybe your being mental only exacerbated what normals feel? I dunno. I think you’ve been really really brave and tough and I would have crumbled at the same times too (except I’d never have made it to the event cos of millions of evil crowds).

    I hope this week is less stressful and things are ok with C. Take care hugs

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