2012 Continues its Shittery, But Reports of My Death are Greatly Exaggerated

Good evening (or morning, if you prefer). It must have been about three weeks since I last posted, which is pretty much a record absence for me in the almost-three years that I’ve been writing this blog. There are some underlying reasons, I suppose, but primarily my disappearance can be attributed to the usual culprit: that of crippling, fuck you anhedonia. I haven’t been as badly afflicted by the phenomenon since I was a teenager. I mean, depression always carries this demon in its clutches, that much is a given, but it exists in degrees. The depression that has blighted my life so far this year was, initially, relatively free from anhedonia and its cousin, avolition – I blogged quite prolifically around the time of Maisie’s death, after all. I gravitated here when that happened; as it had been, Confessions became my outlet, my place to vent, my catharsis and analysis. In the last few weeks, I haven’t felt that at all.

This apathy and utter dearth of motivation have been compounded by an exhaustion of a magnitude I cannot describe. I’ve been sleeping poorly, and waking early when I do manage to find slumber for a few hours – but it’s more than just that sort of tiredness, for I’ve lived with that for many years. Every step I’ve taken recently has taken the effort that I’d imagine normals would put into a bloody marathon. My head constantly droops somewhere down in my chest – giving the unfortunate impression to the cameras and any other onlookers that I’m orally pleasuring myself – because I have not an ounce of strength to hold it up. My mind is either blank, or thinking repetitive, monotonous, lifeless thoughts. I have, on many days, literally had to tell myself what to do: “move your left foot now, Pan. Good, now move your left. No, no, fuck, sorry! Move your right. Yes, right. Good. Left now. Well done.” And my body aches with this…something. Aches aches aches. And sometimes my mind joins it: it can’t even summon the energy to feel anything with my usual levels of desperation. It currently doesn’t feel raw pain, just like my body doesn’t. It just aches.

[Coincidentally – or not? – the last time I felt tiredness on this scale was back when The Everythinger was here in August. More thrilling musings on that later…]

Perhaps ironically, therefore, I think the depression to which I alluded has abated a little. I’m confident that were I to take any of the usual diagnostic tests that I’d still be deemed ‘severely’ depressed, but, again, it’s about degrees. I do feel a bit better than I did when I last wrote. This could be the normal cyclical run of my supposed manic depression, or it could be down to Lamictal. I mentioned last time that Christine was going to ask NewVCB to increase my dosage of the aforesaid drug; however, NewVCB adamantly refused. Her rationale was something that I didn’t entirely comprehend – something along the lines of not raising the dose when I was planning to cut down on Seroquel, which I think translates as “don’t let her get too used to the stuff just yet, because she’ll need a fuckload more when we start titrating the Seroquel down.”

Why, then, has the drug possibly made a difference? The reason is that effectively the dose has increased. Confused? Well, I’m not sure if I mentioned it before or not, but since I’ve been taking 100mg of Lamictal, that has (theoretically) meant ingestion of one tablet in the morning, and one in the evening. In effect, this has meant one in the evening only – ie. 50mg daily – due to the toxicity that is the infamous Seroquel hangover. Even when I had dezombified five hours later, I simply forgot to take the damn thing. Of late, however, I’ve taken to leaving a strip of the stuff on the bedside table, in order that it is the first thing I see each afternoon morning. With the sun rising earlier, I’m waking (assuming I’ve slept, which is not always the case) earlier anyway, so the morning tablet is taken at a more appropriate time, meaning that the stuff floating around my body is more regulated and less quickly half-lifed away.

So, that’s medication. What else? Ah yes. As reported in the last post, I’d received the brown envelope that all ill or disabled people in the UK fear most: that of a social security assessment form (an ESA50, in this case). I also noted that Christine has said she’d fill it in for me. When I saw her last week, she had indeed done so, the poor, lovely woman. Bless her.

Can you spot the impending ‘but’? To my regret, there is one. To be honest, she’d really written very little about my hallucinations and delusions, referring to ‘hearing voices’ or ‘feeling paranoid’ – and that was qualified by the hideous words of ‘sometimes’ or ‘on occasion’. I hadn’t the nerve to say this to her, but I felt that this wasn’t really an accurate presentation of the issues, so when an brought it home, I modified some of the content, and added stuff in. For example, it asks something like, “are other people frightened by your behaviour?”, and she had ticked ‘no’. I don’t agree with that; I know from experience that people find experiences of those like ‘They‘ deeply disturbing and, yes, frighhtening. Even some cheery ramblings of, “oh, look, that sign’s trying to tell me I’m beautiful!” sees neighbouring eyes widen in horror and concern. And something as ostensibly simple as a panic attack can have people shifting their eyes, crossing the street and then running like the hammers from hell.

By the time I’d modified that which I felt needed alteration, of course the form looked like I was trying to make my condition sound worse simply for the purpose of getting more money, rather than attempting to present reality. I therefore asked my mother to ring the Social Security Agency (SSA) and ask for a new form. “Whilst at it,” I instructed, “ask them why I’m actually being assessed.”

She responded a few hours later advising me that they refused to tell her anything and that I’d have to ring them myself. Cue fucking panic stations galore. Asking me to use the phone, as ever, was like asking me asking me to translate War and sodding Peace or Beowulf into Sanskrit. But needs must, so after perusing the SSA’s website in painstakingly close detail in a futile attempt to obtain an email address for a relevant member of staff, I took a deep breath and called them.

Naturally, this was not a simple process. At first the robotic female who ‘answered’ my call advised me, after talking frustratingly slowly through six years of patronising explanatory shit and in doing so costing me a lot of money, that my call could “not be taken at the minute. We are sorry.” (Read: “we’re on our fag break. Fuck off”). When I called back immediately, after listening to the same initial bollocks, Robot intimated to me that my call was in a queue. How surprising. “Please continue to hold and someone will be with you as soon as possible. Or, if you prefer to call back later, our opening hours are [x, y and z].”

I did not prefer to call back later, so held. Robot repeated the soft and still enragingly slow monologue about 100 times. Why the fuck do they use that voice? Are its lulled t
ones supposed to hypnotise you into compliance? If so, they’ve supremely failed. The only compliance they’ve evoked in me is a willingness to comply with the invoice I’m expecting from the people I sent round to break Robot’s non-existent legs (and yes, GCHQ, that is/was a joke and is not to be taken literally, seriously or as anything other than just a joke. OK?).

The real cunt, though, was fucking Vivaldi. Fuck Vivaldi. To think once I appreciated what I then found to be the majestic chords and melodies for which he was responsible. I swear to fucking God that I nearly rang Matt Smith’s agent to inquire about TARDIS rental. A trip back to 1677 to prevent the birth of the composer seems to be the only solution to this widespread problem; it’s always Vivaldi that is played when you ring any sort of call centre, and so it proved in this case. In between Robot came the first 30 seconds of (I think) Summer. Over and over and over. It would put a sane human being into an asylum.

In the end, the call itself was very straightforward. The girl was friendly, if clueless – when asked why I was being reassessed, she said, “um…well, I think they do this every year, I’m not sure though.”

“Even for people in the support group?” I checked (interruptive spluttering and stammering not included. You can obtain these with my all-singing, all-dancing in-blog purchase function, denoted by a button displaying the word ‘Donate’, at the bottom of this post).

“The support group?” The poor cow sounded genuinely mystified. “Uh…uh, yeah, I think so.”

It was a futile effort, so I told her I’d lost the ESA50 and asked if she’d send another. She cheerfully told me that this was not a problem, that she’d get someone to do it forthwith, and – apart from checking if Mum could ring on my behalf in future (yes; I just need to give details on the form) – that was really that. A simple, inoffensive, unconfrontational discussion that still left me hyperventilating. I wish I could overcome this fucking terror. My only other serious phobia is the old formulaic one of spiders and, as a general rule, that doesn’t interrupt my daily living. Sadly, if I ever want to work again – and I do, I do so much, when I’m well enough – my farcical and excessive anxiety about phones will significantly interfere with my everyday functioning,

Why should it? Why can’t people move into the 21st century and use fucking Twitter or email for their communication needs? Fuck phones.

I can’t believe I just wrote eight paragraphs about a phone call. I become increasingly ridiculous by the day, dearest readers. Moving on, I have now been back under the watchful eyes and perked-up ears of everyone’s favourite psychotherapist, the inimitable Paul, for three sessions. I will actually discuss these in more detail, though to my abject alarm, I’ve lost the notes I kept on sessions two and three. Now, the reason for my apprehension is to do with the fact that they could easily have fallen into the wrong hands, if I am in correct in my assumption that they fell out of my bag or something. However, I will admit to also being irritated for an altogether less ethical reason: I will not be able to record these two appointments here in the fashion to which I’ve become accustomed. Fuck’s sake. This blog has taken over my life. Incidentally, that’s something that actually came up with Paul – in session two? – but I’ll leave you veritably on the edge of your seat in anticipation of that. I’m sure you’re on the brink of self-immolation because you simply can’t stand the wait any other way. Burning ‘grounds’ you, to use modern therapeutic parlance.

What else? I suppose before getting to The Big Thing that I should apologise to many people on Twitter. I dip in and out of it erratically; even if I’m sending tweets, I am not necessarily reading others’ messages, or their @s or DMs to me. I often tweet by text message, and now have a quirky little iPhone app that allows me to tweet under this identity whilst being in another account. So it’s not that I’m ignoring you; I just don’t always see you. Every so often, I log in and see a few messages to me, and sometimes reply, but I’m pathetically incapable of catching up on everything. I don’t know whether this is social anxiety, increasing apathy, an identity crisis or just my being a total knob. Whatever the case, I’m sorry.

Right, then. I live in Northern Ireland, as most of you know. People on this island like to drink alcohol – a lot. Once a year, something comes up that seems to grant them complete impunity to engage in this pursuit: St Patrick’s Day. Perhaps it wil not shock you to hear that I loathe this occasion with a fucking passion; I have a pretty low tolerance for the obnoxious behaviours that many irregular drinkers display when inebriated out of their skulls, and I can’t cope the busy-ness around the place. This year, the event fell on Saturday past. A and I went out for dinner but had to come straight home, which is not at all common for us on that evening of the week. We’re usually in our local.

Anyway, the silver lining around the cloud of St Patrick (who gives a fuck about him anyway? He sounds like a bellend to me) is that A gets the day off (or gets it off in lieu when, as in this case, it’s at a weekend). Monday was therefore free, so we went out on Sunday to make up for our inability to do so the previous evening.

Exactly 51 minutes after we’d left the house, A’s phone started ringing. When he withdrew it from his pocket, we were both perplexed to observe that the caller was my mother. Thinking she was trying to get hold of me, but that my phone had lost its signal or something, I answered it (yes, yes, phone phobia notwithstanding).

The alarm was going off. If they can’t get hold of A or me, they ring my mother first, as she’s closest to our house, and then A’s mother second. A worked out the purpose of my mother’s call, and got ready to leave. I hung up and told him I’d stay in the pub; I would only hold him back by accompanying him (he’s a much faster walker than I am), and anyway, I reckoned it was a false alarm. That used to happen all the fucking time, to the point where I’ve wondered of late how the company responsible for running the thing had managed to improve their product so vastly. So A went back himself, advising that he’d call if anything untoward had happened. Otherwise, I supposed, he’d just return.

A few minutes passed, during which I caught up on some blogs on my Google Reader. In the middle of this, though, I was interrupted by a phone call incoming from my brother-in-law. Truthfully, at my core, I knew why he was ringing – but I let myself pretend that he was calling about joining us in the bar, especially given that he and A had exchanged a few messages about the outing earlier in the day. I duly ignored him.

When my mother-in-law’s name appeared on the screen of my phone, although I again tried to ignore the ramifications of this telephonic confluence of events, I really knew the game was up. This time I answered. She told me that they’d also called her and that my brother-in-law, who was at her house as it transpired, had called the police. In return, I advised her that A had gone back to the house to check that things were in order.

I’d only just hung up when A phoned. It wouldn’t be the last discussion via this medium that day…God, I wish
I believed in exposure therapy. I got a lot of potential practice with it on Sunday.

I knew as soon as I answered that he was horribly distressed. It doesn’t take a skilled conversationalist to decipher the first intake of breath before a single word is spoken; cheer, shock, thrills, anger – they and many more moods besides can be deconstructed in that split second. I’ve often heard parents say that when their kid reaches a few weeks or months old that they can tell by the ‘type’ of cry it emits that it wants x or y. Maybe this is a similar type of thing.

A’s gasp was one of shock and panic. Jesus Christ, I thought within the nanosecond left to me. Not again. We were burgled last only back in June, for fuck’s sake!

“They’ve taken the TV [42 fucking inches! In a heavily-populated terraced street!], the X-Box, the PS3, the iPad…” he was gasping. “They’ve smashed the door between the kitchen and the living room in…”

“I’m coming now,” I said. I hung up and called a taxi.

I could go into my usual level of detail about this, but it’s late and I’m tired. So…

  • The cops had been when I got home, but had apparently spotted some potential culprits, so legged it after them before talking to us and examining the house.
  • Without touching anything, I managed to piece together what had happened. The burglars – or, rather, a burglar – had crawled through the tiny window we keep open for the cats; I know this because it was completely fucked. Then he (and I use the male pronoun for a reason, which I’ll detail) saw the keys hanging up, opened the back door, and let his companion in.
  • They tried, I assume, to simply open the living room door – but, as we have done since the last burglary, we had locked it before leaving the house. They smashed the poor thing in with the Dyson, which was sitting in a corner of the kitchen. Unsurprisingly, they broke that too.
  • Entering the living room would have set the alarm off, and given all that they took and the bloody mess that they’d made, it was obvious that they knew the layout of the place. They couldn’t have got away with all that they did with the alarm (which itself calls the police) curbing their time had it been any other way.
  • They shoved the smaller items, which now seemed to include my old laptop, in bags, exited through the now-open back door, and onward through the gate at the back to the entry (which they’d also used the keys to unlock).
  • They hadn’t gone upstairs. Thank fuck I’d taken my current laptop up to the office; it was safe there. Curiously, they also hadn’t taken my Kindle. It was behind the door they’d smashed in, so perhaps they didn’t see it, or perhaps they didn’t identify it as a piece of expensive electronics because it was in its case, mimicking (to a point) a normal book.
  • Before we’d left, I’d deliberately moved the Kindle and A’s iPad out of view of the window. I neurotically checked the back door was locked about seven times, as I almost always do since the last break-in. Fat lot of good my caution did us.
  • The peelers returned. We were advised that they had taken two blokes into custody (hence my use of the male pronoun in reference to these criminals), and as I detailed my theory of their entrance to the female officer, her male colleague went to look around the back entry for further clues.
  • ….
  • …..
  • I am writing this post on A’s stolen iPad.
  • …..
  • ….
  • The policeman found everything out the back!
  • It seems that when the wankers were spotted, they unceremoniously dumped everything – or perhaps not quite everything? – and ran like fuck. But they were too late ūüôā
  • The police were here for quite a while. In short, they took statements, got the forensic people in and liaised back and forth with their station colleagues. The girl from forensics was extremely thorough – much more so than any of her colleagues we’ve previously met (bearing in mind that this is the fucking third time we’ve been burgled). Although she didn’t say much, it did appear that she had got some evidence from various things.
  • The male peeler had been around the entries of the surrounding area, and came across a small but slick, and quite evidently new, flat screen TV – in a bin. He reasonably enough supposed that it would be unlikely to have been chucked out by its owners, and thus brought it round here briefly for the forensics woman to dust. He and his colleague also revealed that other burglaries had been reported in the area that day.
  • As the cops were rounding things off, the bloke said, “just to check, you didn’t happen to have any wallets here, did you?” We responded in the negative. He nodded, but added, “any foreign currency, no?” It then occurred to me that yes – we did have a wallet in the house after all. We go to down to the Republic every so often, and there’s always leftover Euros. A has kept them in a wallet in the kitchen for months. I relayed this information to the cop as I went into the kitchen to see if it was there. It was not. The cop asked how much was in it. “At least ‚ā¨50, plus coins,” I told him. “There was a ‚ā¨50 note in it; I’m not sure if there were additional ones, but there was definitely a fifty.”
  • I watched with interest as the police exchanged satisfied glances. The wallet with the Euros had been found on the person of one of the personnel that their colleagues had in custody. A couldn’t contain his delight at this wonderful revelation; he jumped up and down screaming, “YES!!!” with the peelers standing there watching. In later conversation, the man said to me that he’s always thrilled in cases like this – both for the victims of the crime, and for officers themselves. “It’s always really nice when we manage to get a conviction,” he smiled. Indeed it must be. They don’t get very many of them for offences like this.
  • After they’d left, I ran down the street to a lovely lady, the only one in the whole area we’ve ever really spoken to, who’d offered us tea when she first realised what had happened. I wanted to let her know what had transpired, and also to apologise if we’d appeared ignorant in refusing said tea. That was weird, because I have never been in a neighbour’s house since I moved in with A, and have only ever exchanged pleasantries and cat-related anecdotes with this woman before. But I appreciated her kindness, and enjoyed the tea and cake that she was decent enough to serve me.
  • I came back and joined A in the clean-up operation. There was glass everywhere. There were strewn bags, clothes and other assorted pieces of fuck also everywhere.
  • Thankfully, the cats were both safe. Srto Gato was here when A got back, and sat down on the sofa, right in the middle of the carnage, and went to sleep. Mr Cat was, however, nowhere to be seen, and we both worried that, twisted as these fucks clearly are, they’d hurt him. H
    e turned up about about an hour after I got home, which was a relief, though he did seem unsettled all evening. Whether he merely sensed our moods, or whether he’d borne witness to some frightening events, we are of course unable to tell.
  • Another set of cops turned up after 10pm, when things had got vaguely back to normal. They had brought the wallet, the ‚ā¨50s and the various Euro coins in separate evidence bags for us to identify as ours. Needless to say, we confirmed that they indeed were. The bloke said as he was leaving that he had “no doubt” that the case would come to court, though he added drolly, “and then they’ll get their 25p fine and get back to their games.” He stressed, assuming as he erroneously did that we completely lacked any knowledge of legal infrastructure, that things were out of their hands then. People can be imprisoned in Norn Iron for burglary, but it’s rare. Even when it happens, custodial sentences tend to be pretty low.
  • The worst thing in the aftermath of all this was that the house wasn’t secure; a bollocksed window and a cunted internal door require supervision. The upshot of that is that I’ve had to stay here when A’s been at work. I don’t mind that, but it does inhibit our ability to live our normal lives. Determined to buy fags before Gideon’s shite budget whacked the price of the vile things up by 37p per packet, I ran out at lunchtime today. In the half hour or so that I was gone – I dropped into a few food-ish places as well – I was panicking, panicking, panicking that the little cunts were out on bail (as they almost certainly are by now) and would break-in again as revenge for our part in their apprehension.
  • On Monday, A rang an “emergency” glass fitter and then The Everythinger (to whom I alluded millaria above). The glass people came out later that day, removed the window from its frame and stuck a temporary board up in its stead. They said they’d be back on Tuesday to fix the window itself. They weren’t. They weren’t today either. They eventually contacted A to tell him that it’ll be at least tomorrow, as they’re waiting on hinges. What double fucking glazing company runs out of hinges?! “Emergency” my arse. At least The Everythinger, who was horrified to hear we’d been burgled only months after he was here the last time for the same reason, is coming tomorrow (later today, whatever it is).
  • Hilarious incidental. The peelers speculated that the theiving scum were on a drunken bender as they went about the area pilfering what they could. As such, they nicked beer from our kitchen. In fact, the one bottle that was open seemed to have been drunk out of, thus meaning potential evidence. Anyway, the burglars were clearly pissed off, as evidenced by their smashing of a few of the bottles and dumping of other ones. This, we’re all pretty sure, is because they had they discovered that they contained Becks Non-Alcoholic beers ūüėÄ Hahaha!

So, if it isn’t death, cancer scares, missing cats, depression, NHS cuntery (and the destruction of that already flawed system), a potentially impending financial desert (and the macro implications of that too), or other assorted nasties, it’s fucking burglary. Thanks, 2012. You’ve brought me the bleakest start to a new year that I can recall.

Yet, comparitively speaking, I’m OK, and thus must sound a note of optimism. Well, not optimism as such, but perhaps a little faith. Overall, I was extremely impressed with the Police Service of Northern Ireland on Sunday, and I was very touched that the lady from down the street had offered the basic but important kindness that she did. The hard work of the cops and the generosity of this sweet stranger reminded me that sometimes when you see the worst of humanity, you also see the best too.

Thank you to Mental Healthy, their judges, nominators and sponsors for their very kind short-listing of this blog for the 2011 Mental Health Heroes awards (in the ‘Creative – Writer’ category). It’s a big honour to be featured alongside such people as the wonderful Kayla Kavanagh, her partner and carer Nigel, and the lovely Fiona Art, so thank you again ūüôā

Anyone want to volunteer for TWIM or TNIM? You know you want to. Email me.

I can’t be arsed to proof-read this right now, sorry. It always mortifies me that my narratives could be error-laden, but I’m too tired to care as much as I should.

Initial Side Effects of Lamictal…and a Long Overdue Rant

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have been the unfortunate recipient of a number of tweets yesterday evening that contained almost epic levels of ranting. I had written an entire post for this blog on A’s iPad, which, whilst better for typing than our iPhones, is not as conducive to creating lengthy prosaic lamentations as a proper keyboard. Unfortunately for me, I’m in my laptop-phobia zone this week, and to that end only the iPad and the iPhone are safe for use (don’t ask for an explanation of this fatuity, because I don’t have one. Maybe I’ve simply grown to hate Windross so much that I fear even seeing it. Time to put Debian on the laptop, perchance).

Anyhow, I was a complete moron and decided to use the Blogpress iOS app to aid me in this ignoble endeavour. Just as I had finished, with the usual laughably stupid length of post completed, and went to save the entry – the cunting, fucking, shitting bastard of an application died on me. I lost every single word. I tried all the usual wank in an attempt to save it – close the app, turn device off and back on, etc – but circa 2,000 words and just over an hour of my time were lost to the dark realms of the e-ther (geddit?!) and try as I might to continue the rescue effort, the bloody thing just crashed, crashed and crashed a-fucking-gain. Shitting fuckery hell and bollocks.

So, iOS V users – don’t use Blogpress, OK? Not, at least, it’s been thoroughly updated and tested. It used to be a great wee app – it is, ostensibly, a much more fully featured blogging program than WordPress’s own. But at least (eventually) the latter fucking works. So that is where I find myself as I type this attempt at a re-write.

First though…

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST BUT I AM SO ANGRY. THE POST WAS ACTUALLY NOT BAD, UNLIKE FUCKING EVERYTHING I’VE WRITTEN FOR MONTHS. I WOULD HAVE BEEN FUCKING CUNTED THE FUCK OFF IF THE BASTARDING PIECE OF FUCKWITTAGE LOST A MORE CHARACTERISTIC LOAD OF FUCKING SHITEY CUNTFLAPPED BELLENDERY, BUT THE FACT IT LOST SOMETHING VAGUELY NOT COMPLETELY BLOODY AWFUL MAKES ME WANT TO SMASH THE LIVING BECHRIST OUT OF EVERYTHING. YOU CAN NEVER BASTARDING WELL REWRITE SOMETHING TOLERABLY BLOODY PASSABLE TO THE SAME PSEUDO-ALRIGHT LEVEL AS IT WAS THE FIRST SHITHEAD OF A TIME YOU FIRST BLOODY WROTE THE BOLLOCKFIST OF A FUCKING THING, SO WHAT FOLLOWS HERE WILL BE BACK TO MY USUAL DICKHEAD STANDARD OF UTTER COCK. FUCK TO THE ENDS OF ALL THE KNOWN BALLWIPED DIMENSIONS. FUCK. FUCK. FUCK.

Well, it’s been a while since there was a proper rant here, hasn’t it? And lo, I used to be the Queen of Rants in the Madosophere. But anyway, now that we’ve got that out of the way…

I’m having some difficulty adjusting to Lamictal. Don’t worry, if you’re one of those odd people that may in some way give a flying arse about my existence, there’s no “FUCK I’M DYING” rash or anything. But the drug has brought me an insane level of fatigue (for example, I nearly fell asleep yesterday afternoon whilst playing Saints Row: The Third, which had delightfully arrived here early. I mean seriously, what the actual fuck? No one with even five per cent of a pulse falls asleep whilst playing Saints fucking Row!!!), my eyes have gone cross-eyed, my levels of forgetfulness that began with Venlafaxine (curse it) are amplified to objectively hilarious points of pseudo-dementia (cf. in people’s company a few days ago: “A, what’s my name again? Oh yeah. And, old chap, should you be so obliging as to advise me on the word one uses to intimate the device used to take a crap? Yes! ‘Toilet’. That’s it.”) and my regular migraine-level headaches are now even more frequent. The last point is especially irritating as, in off-label indications at least, Lamictal is used to treat headaches. Go figure, eh?

The exhaustion is not simply that frustrating but familiar kind of languorous weariness to which we are all often slaves – oh no, this is hardcore stuff, even by my own insomniac standards. It’s that kind of exhaustion that is like an gaping vault of oppressive darkness, sucking you in, dominating you entirely, screwing with your mind until it hurts but rendering you useless to do anything about it. It’s that kind of interminable, preponderant bleak tiredness normally wedded to the very worst of depressions – you know the ones I mean. That old familiar hangdog horror in which rising from your bed is not just a difficulty, but an impossibility. The old foe that leaves you helplessly staring at the wall, willing it with whatever mental faculties you have remaining to somehow show you some mercy and let you die. The old knocking on the door of the mind that reminds you that you have no escape, because you are utterly devoid of enough motivation to even end things yourself. The old living hell that seems unresolvable.

Normally such exhaustion and a depressive hell are thus united – but not in this case. It would be a lie to say that the tiredness does not impact upon my mood in some fashion, but for someone whose mental agility and body alike are so heavily enervated, I actually feel pretty stable in this regard. Indeed, Null thinks I’m high. As I was trying to write the original of this post last night (RIP), I must confess that I did wonder that myself; the style of my prose, whilst slightly better than my shitty norm, did have something of a manic quality to it (perhaps that’s exactly why it was slightly less rubbish than as is typical!).

Allow me to exemplify how OK I am, despite Lamictal’s nefarious side effects. I have exactly ¬£1.06 to my name right now, and even that’s part of my overdraft – yet I am not panicking like an old lady denied her copy of her all-important Bella magazine like I normally would; instead, I’m tolerably riding the wave of patience until I get paid next week. It’s November, and I don’t want to run out and throw myself off the nearest bridge or towerblock. Indeed, even bastarding, fuckwitted, hateful, cunting Shitmas has been surprisingly kind to me this year: the hackneyed and improbably dainty ads for the accursed capitalist nonsense only began registering on my radar about six weeks in advance of 25 December, rather than the 12 or 13 weeks to which I am normally frustratingly used. And, next week, off I go to London, where I am short-listed for a Mind Media Award. I am excited, rather than entirely petrified, by this. I mean, of course I should be excited – but as someone with social anxiety issues which are, at times, very severe, it’s a surprisingly gratifying thing that being faced with being in such a busy venue with – dun-dun-DUN! – famous people does not scare the living bejesus out of me right now.

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Lest anyone think I’m in the midst of a narcissistic delusion of grandeur regarding the awards ceremony, no, I do not – not for half a second – entertain the notion that I could possibly win the award. No way. But it doesn’t matter; what matters is being there. It is enough to have the opportunity to meet some incredibly interesting and highly influential individuals operating in the arena of mental health; it is enough that someone, somewhere has considered this silly blog even worthy of mentioning in the same breath as some truly excellent anti-stigma and exploratory material; it is enough that I dare to see my name listed in honour of the late Mark Hanson, a stalwart of the social media world who suffered from horrendous depression; and it is enough that I have the opportunity to see some of my wonderful old friends and, indeed, to meet one of my oldest and most supportive online friends for the first time (so excited, bourach! :D). Although it would be beyond absolutely incredible to win, to be in the position I already am is more than enough.

So, although I’m fighting medication side effects from every angle, I’m doing relatively well. As for the side effects themselves – well, according to most of the literature on Lamictal, they will pass. Indeed, I already feel them abate, ever so slightly. As the days pass, my eyes will blur things a little less, my energy levels will increase a little more, and my headaches will revert to the mediocre but liveable standards to which I’ve long been accustomed. Maybe the current drug cocktail will, in the end, work for me after all.

What’s that you say, fair reader? “Oh dear God, Pan’s defining characteristic of cynicism has been lost?” No, fear not – I have not become so washed away by some sort of bright absolution that I have become an optimist. Christmas still sucks, the world is still a cunthole, I’m still an infernal misanthrope and I still can’t stand the sight of happy couples frolicking around the shops like some sort of silly vapid bunnies. I’m just a misanthrope that can’t stand the sight of happy couples frolicking around the shops like some sort of silly vapid bunnies who happens not to feel opprobriously atrocious for once.

If you don’t like that…suck it up ūüėČ

(NB. I haven’t proof-read the above folks, sorry. I humbly beg your forgiveness for any poor turn of phrase, grammar, spelling etc, and I shall endeavour to correct such issues at my next available opportunity. Toodle-pip!).

Body Memories and the Power of Silence – Paul: Week 23, Part I

I’m going back to Nexus, my previous centre for psychotherapy, as demanded by NewVCB, Christine, A and seemingly everyone else across the space-time continuum right from the beginning of the universe all the way to its infinite ends (don’t you just love the paradoxes of physics?).

Please forgive my customary flippancy. It is probably a good thing to be returning, especially since Nice Lady That Works for Nexus has responded to my email saying she’d stick me back on the waiting list to see Paul. I mean, I knew he’d pick it up when he saw my name on the system, but Nice Lady has already made sure he won’t somehow miss it amongst all the noise of all the other registered clients. Additionally, they’re also going to “call” me (groan) when someone has a cancellation, so that I can go in, pre-therapy, to “update [them] on [my] present circumstances.” That’s going to be a hugely insightful and interesting meeting. “Hello, Nexus Person. Me? Hmm. Still seeing psychiatrist. Still seeing CPN [when she bothers to turn up, which she didn’t last time. I never did rant about that here – I shall rectify that in another post to be composed probably-not-anon]. Still writing that stupid blog, though thanks to anhedonia, avolition and other nefarious a¬†words, not with the frequency or passion that I once did. Still mad. Still depressed. Still unemployed. Still x, still y, still z. Isn’t that so obscenely¬†fascinating that you might have a passion-fuelled heart attack and die right now? No? No, I didn’t think so. It isn’t for me either.”

Anyhow, as any of you who regularly follow this nonsense will know, I’ve been horribly remiss in recording my last few sessions of my last round of therapy with Paul (as I was in the final weeks with C before him, but that was more about my avoiding having to think about the trauma it would have evoked, rather than being merely attributable to an apathetic lethargy caused, at least in part, by the rut of mentalism). I mean, I last saw him in June, for God’s sake, and now it’s the end of September (though quite how that came to be the case is quite beyond me. My life is passing me by…). So. I’m going to bang out this session today (and continue it tomorrow/Sunday), and the two that followed it WITHIN THE NEXT FORTNIGHT AT MOST. Should I fail to achieve this, you are not just permitted to bollock me: you are actively required¬†to do so. OK? OK. Here we go.

This session was on 16 May, just before we went to Fuerteventura. It’s kind of fucked to start writing a review of it over four months later, but I have my notes, and they catalyse certain memories of it, so sod the dispassion and let’s get to it. It will not surprise you to learn that of course things opened with silence. I didn’t know what to say – who’d have guessed it? – and Paul refused to let me off the hook. In a fit of pique, I refused to break a stare with him. Why let him¬†off the hook if he won’t afford me the same courtesy?

But I’m a weakling of a human being, and after several minutes had elapsed, I gave in and told him I couldn’t stare him out any longer. He advised that he had “not considered it a competition.” Whatever. Do you just stare intensely at people for what seems like ages for fun, mate?

In any effort just to say something, I ended up telling him about my neo-psychotic encounter with a Monty Python keyring. When I’d concluded the story, at first he didn’t laugh, which left me feeling utterly mortified. I was disgusted that I had dared find my little anecdote mildly amusing when it apparently wasn’t – but just as I was about to start verbalising my self-castigations, he sort of bowed his head and started howling with laughter. So, ever the psychological splitter, I then began to regard him with a measured incredulity – I mean, it wasn’t that funny!

Composing himself, Paul said, “how appropriate that Monty Python were involved. They seem psychotic at the best of times.”

I concurred, and voiced the view that the whole episode had itself been worthy of a Python sketch.

He used the opportunity to ask me about my friends (spot the heavy irony), the hallucinatory voices. “They seem to have been quiet of late,” he commented. “Why is that?”

I boldly stated that 600 daily milligrams of Seroquel was a forced to be reckoned with.

He smiled appeasingly at me for a welcome but frustratingly brief second. “Wouldn’t it be nice if that were true?” he said, his grin shifting to something slightly more sceptical.

When I elected not to respond to this remark, he continued by saying that maybe it had more to do with the fact that, as we had discussed to some extent the previous week, I was allowed to ‘hurt’ in therapy without that pain’s typical accompaniment of panic. As well you know, dearest readers, I don’t agree with Paul’s views on medication and the medical model at large – however, what I do¬†think is that drugs only help to a point. It is only through therapy that anything approximating proper, long-lasting recovery can be achieved. I thus declared that I agreed with him on that point, adding that in that room with him I could speak with impunity about anything and everything, without facing any value judgements whatsoever (at which point he quipped that whilst that was mostly true, he had to condemn my taste in keyrings. I appreciated that amusing aside).

“You know, it’s odd,” I mused. “I spent a year and a half in NHS therapy, and yet it was only in the last few weeks of it that I felt able to share anything more than the least worse bits of this whole sorry saga with the psychologist. I know Nexus is here to counsel people with experience of sexual abuse specifically, and my previous psychotherapy wasn’t, but it’s still a really positive thing for me that I was able to walk straight in here and start talking about it to you.”

[At this point my mobile started vibrating in my bag, interrupting the flow of conversation. I was absolutely affronted, and when I brought it out of my bag to shut it up, I noted that it was my old friend Brian calling. It is not to my credit that in those few seconds I fantasised about rearranging the face of one of my closest friends for unwittingly intruding upon my therapy session, but that’s the strength of feeling that in my experience so frequently bounces around the room on these occasions.]

“It’s not just about being able to speak,” Paul told me. “It’s also about being able to be silent.”

Ha! I think I call bullshit on that, Paul. As I said to him, “I always feel shit about there being so much silence in session. Which I suppose is odd as I do a lot of it, but you know what I mean.” Don the metaphorical mortar board and amend the uncertain tone of voice.¬†“Of course, intellectually I appreciate that of course there is therapeutic value to be gleaned from silence; you can derive psychological detail from same, and in doing so, afford benefits back to me. Nonetheless, it feels like time-wasting.”

He had been shaking his head, ready to softly scold me for treading into academic territory yet again. With the last sentence uttered, however, he was sated, and proffered the opinion that perhaps, then, it was somehow therapeutic to be allowed to be a ‘time-waster’. “You don’t have to be the ‘good’ client or the ‘good’ child,” he said. “Not in here.”

Not content with my earlier foray into pseudo-scholarly speculation, I hit back with, “I’m not saying this is¬†the case, but if I were to offer a hypothesis [he rolled his eyes, a gesture that I chose to ignore], I might suggest that if I had silence enforced upon me as a child, that it makes sense to re-enact it now, in these circumstances, as an adult.”

Paul looked at me with vague curiosity. I think I’ve said it before, but sometimes you can almost see the cogs turning in his head. In this case, I’m fairly sure that he was trying to develop a response to my continued intellectualising, or perhaps he was mentally querying why I kept insisting on taking the sessions down that route (avoidance, I should imagine). Either way, I know – I knew with C, and I knew with Paul – that I’m not supposed to wank endlessly on about the subconscious thinking behind my feelings and actions. That’s his¬†fucking job.

Thus began the beating-myself-about-the-face for not conforming to what is expected of me in this inherently bizarre social setting. “Why the fuck didn’t I become a psychologist? I’m ridiculously well-versed in o’er pretentious but probably¬†empirically¬†flawed psychobabble shite, just like they are,” I declared.

A ghost of a smile crossed his lips at this, but instead of replying he asked if the silence in session was forced or chosen. To be honest, it’s neither – or not insofar as I had previously considered it anyway. It just is. I said so, but added that on reflection it was probably closer to the latter. I mean, he doesn’t sit there and scream at me every time I use my vocal chords, so he’s hardly coercing me into keeping my fat gob shut.

And guess what? That¬†resulted in a silence as long as the name of a Welsh village. I remember sitting there wearing this ridiculous expression that I suppose was meant to convey some sort of “oh fuck!” embarrassment and discomfort at my entirely predictable but nevertheless irritating failure. Having learnt my lesson at the start of the appointment, I decided not to look at Paul. Instead, the ever-fascinating carpet was the object of my less-than-dignified gaze.

“So,” Paul said eventually. “Is this a comfortable or uncomfortable silence?”

If the question hadn’t been so completely ridiculous, I’d have laughed in his face. How could it be anything¬†other than the latter?!

“I keep racking my brains in order to think of something to say to you.”

“Stop trying to think of intelligent things to say. What would you say then?”

An even more ludicrous remark, I thought Рthough as I acknowledged, I knew what I was meant to say (or, perhaps more accurately, I knew what clients who are less dickhead-ish than I would have said in similar circumstances. They would have got to the fucking point).

I cleared my throat. OK then, I thought. Let us talk about what he wants to talk about.

“Have you ever heard of the term ‘body memories’?” I asked. When he nodded, I continued by saying, “well, association is the oldest trick in the psychological book. When I come in here, associating what we do with the reason I came here in the first place, I sometimes experience such things.”

“Which is a horrible thing,” he speculated. “How do they manifest?”

I see from an archived post that I briefly alluded to this phenomenon with C – in fact, to my retrospective surprise, I see that I used the actual words¬†when discussing it with him. Fortunately for my too-frequently-blushing cheeks, I managed to avoid such hideous terminology with Paul. “Sometimes I feel like I need to urinate [I somehow managed to resist my urge to play with him by using the word ‘micturate’], even though I actually don’t. I remember this happening from waaaay back into my childhood. If someone was drunk on TV, say, I’d feel this weird sensation, and it often continues this day [something of an odd issue given that my adult self is not exactly a¬†teetotaller]. I was always completely mystified by it, but now of course my supposition, although I have no conscious recollection of it, is that he must have been pissed on one of our…encounters.”

“And how is discussing that for you?”

Aha! The inevitable re-phrasing of that old therapeutic mantra,¬†and how does that make you feel?¬†For once, the question was aptly timed. Even mentioning this bizarre ‘body memory’ caused my head to do what I described as “that thing it does.” In other words, I felt myself trying to float away – to dissociate – but I fought it. I didn’t want Aurora¬†(or anything/anyone else) taking control, little bloody brat that she is. And hark!¬†I¬†was the victor in this case. Mwhahaha! Screw you, Aurora! However, my internally-fought fight against feeling smug at beating her down was somewhat less successful.

Paul broke into my mental tug-of-war. “As well as dissociating, you often choke or stutter whilst trying to talk about these things,” he said. The dialogue presented in these blog posts completely belies the truth of this statement. I am an unmitigated mess of¬†oratorical¬†shite every time I see him.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m abusing you here,” he announced, completely to my surprise.

“That’s not how it feels to me…”

“Well. I try to bridge the gap between the dissociated and repressed to the conscious. It’s inevitably difficult for you, and at those times it’s like I’m coercing you into feeling that pain.”

I reiterated that, at least on a surface level, I didn’t feel that way about things. “I can see your point, though,” I admitted. “But I think reliving the trauma and pain is a necessary part of the process. Not pleasant at the time, but helpful in the long-term, I think.”

He nodded, then – in reference to body memories – brought up another client. “She dreams a lot, and wakes up brutally tender and sore. She’s also constantly bothered with urinary tract problems, despite no medical reason for them.”

I felt¬†immediate¬†empathy with this and said so. Not with dreams resulting in tenderness per se, but regarding random flare-ups of¬†embarrassing¬†down-there¬†issues. I’m frequently afflicted with thrush, which has occasionally been resultant from my now-discovered allergy to¬†penicillin, but which more often develops for no¬†discernible¬†reason at all. I get it in my throat too, so you can see the whole rape-analogy shebang…so I have conversion disorder on top of everything bloody else, how fantastic! Seriously though, in my case I suspect nothing more than coincidence to be at play, but it is interesting and potentially revealing to at least consider possible connections.

Anyhow, Paul had reminded me of something else in his allusion to this other woman. “I dream a lot these days,” I told him. “I’ve never had recurring dreams – other than the one probably everyone has where they’re falling through air – until relatively recently. Now there’s one with which I’m constantly plagued.”

Oh boy. This fairly opened up a set of gargantuan twatting floodgates…

OK, I’m going to leave this post here for now, and continue the session review in a second one. There’s still a myriad of crap to cover, but a month or so ago I decided I was going to try to start writing blog posts that weren’t of the preposterous length to which I seem addicted, at least not every time I put fingers to keys. Since this is already 2,600 words long I have clearly failed, but I wish to fail no more than I already have. So, then, dear readers: duh-duh-DUH! To be continued…

Continued here.

Any Thoughts on Depakote or Lithium? ***¬°Advice Please!***

Saw NewVCB last Wednesday morning.

Not much to report, really, and even if there was, as you’ll be able to tell from the appalling calibre of the following, I’m still not really in the form needed to competently review it.

She asked how things were and told her everything was fucked, thanks to my idiotic decision to reduce my Seroquel dosage. She checked that I was had gone back up to the 600mg dose, and I confirmed that I had, and had been doing so for about a fortnight.

Long and the short of it is that she claims it’ll take up to six weeks back on the high dose for things to start to improve. Wonderful. Well done, Pandora. It would be less annoying if¬†it wasn’t my own fault. She encouraged me not to berate myself – she says patients do it all¬†the time, and that if nothing else, it demonstrates to me what I do and don’t need. Well, maybe so – but I did this years ago when taking Fluoxetine, and should have learnt from that experience to leave such things to the quacks. But nooooooo. I know better, don’t I? Twat.

Anyhow, naturally she asked why¬†I’d decided I’d half the dose. I explained about the horribleness of the hangover effects and the preposterous weight gain. I said that I’d be willing to tolerate the former for now (and as she noted, if and when I go back to work, I am more likely to get a ((post-hangover)) afternoon part-time job anyway, since most part-timers prefer mornings), but that I hated the weight gain issue because I was down to a size 16ish at one point (I hadn’t been that size since I was¬†16), and that having put most of it back on was pretty soul-destroying.

Her plan, then, is to wait until my mood has re-stabilised on my current medications (which seems unlikely to ever happen to me right now, but she opines to the contrary), and then we can look at how to play this in the long-term. She does, to be fair, acknowledge that even ignoring the physical issues surrounding my gargantuan size, it’s not good for my mental health to see 14 rolls lopping down around my knees, hiding even the briefest glimpse of my toes and their ingrowing nails. What she has suggested is reducing, though not eliminating, the Seroquel – and then adding in a mood stabiliser to make up for the loss of those same properties from said drug.

She specifically named Lithium and Depakote, though she expressed a mild reluctance regarding the latter; she laughed and said that she knew I was filled with abhorrence at the mere mention¬†of breeding, but that nevertheless, she had to be very, very careful about the prescription of the thing to ‘fertile females’ on a ‘just in case’ basis. Apparently it can seriously fuck up a foetus/embryo.

I really don’t give a fuck about that, as – as she rightly noted, though I’m not sure how she figured it out as I don’t recall ever discussing it with her – I fully intend to never become pregnant. However, I think¬†I read somewhere that it can interfere with the mini-pill, which I take as a contraceptive and fuck-off-menstruation-and-related-pain medication. A quick look just now has suggested that it doesn’t stop it working, but could increase levels of hormones in one’s body. Which could be a bit wank as I’m not unconvinced that oestrogen has an effect on mentalism, specifically depression (sometimes of the particularly vile variety known as ‘agitated’).

She did say, though, that she would¬†prescribe it (regardless of my presumed ability to conceive) if she thought it best, on the balance of the foetus issue versus its active psychiatric indications. I was initially quite encouraged by this, because I’m not sure how I feel about Lithium: I’ve heard of others gaining weight on it (and one friend was constantly ill whilst taking it), so what would be the point in cutting the Seroquel (which I know works)? So, I thought, bring on the Depakote. Except that, since then, I’ve read the article on it on Net Doctor¬†and see that it too can cause weight gain!

So, maybe either it or Lithium would mitigate the undeniably shitty hangover effects of Seroquel, but it’s quite possible my main concern would not be assuaged in any way. So what would be the point in modifying my current cocktail which, whilst problematic, has shown itself to work very well in terms of its indicated usages, only to find myself at the mercy of the same cunty side effects I’d hoped to avoid anyway?

All that said, I have known people to take mood stabilisers (Lithium in particular) who’ve found that it completely changed their life. Indeed, the Net Doctor article on it¬†states that it’s a very good medication to take to boost the effects of pre-existing anti-depressants. So if I could get my depression and its related anhedonia/lethargy/etc to sod off (it’s never¬†really gone away – it’s only got a bit less shit), then I might be more willing to leave the house and get some exercise to combat any extra weight anyway. But that’s a bit of a punt, really.

Have any of you any experience of Lithium and/or Depakote, and if so, what’s your view on it/them – both in terms of how they help (or don’t) psychologically, and on what the side effects are? If you take an alternative mood stabiliser (whether a ‘true’ mood stabiliser or an anti-convulsant) and you’ve found it useful and/or lacking in side effects, could you tell me a bit about it too please?

NewVCB also mentioned other anti-psychotics such as Risperidone, which typically have lesser weight issues than Seroquel. However, as a form of anti-compensation for that, you lose the mood stabilisation, so one such medication would again presumably be needed in that circumstance.

Despite my dreadful mood, I managed to crack a joke during the appointment, and was pleased to make her laugh. She asked me about suicidal ideation, and I told her all I could think about was my body flying off the Golden Gate Bridge or the high-rise apartment blocks close to my house.

“But don’t worry,” I added drolly. “I suffer from vertigo*, so…”

(* And it is¬†((usually, though not always, height-triggered))¬†vertigo, as opposed to acrophobia. I don’t really have the latter, bizarrely).

She laughed out loud, caught herself on and apologised, then¬†started laughing (almost hysterically) again. I told her it was meant¬†to be humourous and to laugh away. I like humour in this arena. I remember once ages ago that¬†C cracked a joke¬†(oh look – it was my very first therapy post. How quaint)¬†about how my footballing allegiances were not at all good for my mental health (especially true that fucking season) – a comment made viscerally, for which he then apologised. Fuck that. Don’t apologise! Joke away. I mean, if you didn’t laugh, you’d have to fucking cry.

Anyway, medication issues aside, I handed NewVCB a copy of my last post, and that coupled with her usual questioning determined that I am “very clearly” in the midst of a major depressive episode. However, at least A and Mum are usually about somewhere, and my suicidality is operating “at fantasy level”, so there is unlikely to be any “danger”. I’d say that the lack of danger comes more from avolition and apathy rather than anything else, but there you have it. I shall, most likely, remain alive for the next while.

As I left the appointment (having managed to blag myself a script for Diazepam – which frankly I don’t particularly¬†need, but insurance is always good) she said, for the second time since I first met her, “nice to see you, Pandora.”

Incidentally, the first time she gave me a complimentary goodbye of this nature, I was also similarly mental to last week (and both occasions were caused by fluctuations in medication, rather than being distinct ‘episodes’ in their own right). Why do I find that probably coincidental and innocuous fact so intriguing and revealing?

In other news – I haven’t written anything in the last week…BUT! I’ve had this laptop completely closed – it’s literally not been open once – since…fuck, I don’t know, last weekend? Although I have tweeted some articles and suchlike, I haven’t checked Twitter at all (ditto G+ and the odious Facebook). In this complete abandon of social media, I’ve been working on The Book. I’ve not written anything, as noted, but I have been studying the distance learning¬†writing course I enrolled on when I first went off work a few years ago, and have been especially concentrating on the modules on novel composition. Much of it seems obvious – although this blog is factual and autobiographical, sometimes the narrative of posts takes on a tone similar to fiction, so I feel I have some pre-existing understanding of the idea. However, there has also been a lot of benefit in what I’ve studied to date, and I feel cautiously confident about The Book and its plot at the minute.

Furthermore, in my¬†absence¬†from internet sociability, for some reason I’ve been internally bombarded with quite a number of creative fictional ideas that I think I can turn into short stories, novellas, or perhaps a second The Book. There’s one about which I’m especially hopeful, which was garnered from a disturbed, haunting dream this very morning. At least nightmares have some¬†purpose!

On Thursday, Wendy Perriam, whose excellent book Broken Places¬†I reviewed for Mind, emailed me to thank me for said review. This was a wonderful buoyancy both for my own sake and for that of my writing (which Wendy was kind enough to compliment, which was incredibly flattering coming not just from a published author, but also from a published author who I hold in high regard). I asked her for a few tips, which she kindly gave me, and it’s added to my sense of ‘I can do this and it won’t be completely crap’. I’m not undaunted by any means, but neither am I totally petrified of my own potential incapacity.

The weekend was quite good. I’d been apathetic about going to one of our regularly organised poker nights on Friday because that meant fucking¬†seeing people, but in the end it was fairly good craic – and guess what? Muggins won ūüėÄ It’s my first win in a long time but it sees me atop the leader board. I’m the only woman in the whole group, yet the stats show me as the best player. Suck it up, gents!

On Saturday we met W, A’s best friend who was back in Norn Iron from England for the weekend, and ended up spending all day talking complete and utter bollocks and laughing at puerile nonsense. It was good. In keeping with what’s been occupying my own life lately, I suggested a writing challenge to W and A, an idea that both seemed to embrace for their own reasons of escapism and intellect. As well as just being fun¬†(what even is that?),¬†I think this could be useful in terms of my self-imposed deadlines – if A and W are in competition, I am going to be more driven to compete within this cause myself.

So, all in all, ostensibly things are good – but the reality, of course, is far from as black and white as that. I’m back into a firm agoraphobic, hide-in-the-house-and-brood-with-the-blinds-closed mode. But I’m keeping up with the studying element of my (hopefully) soon-to-be The Book, so there’s a sliver of a silver lining (try saying that after six pints of pale ale).

I’m seeing Christine tomorrow. She asked me, the last time I saw her, to do two things before tomorrow’s appointment: (a) ask Daniel to write me a reference for the voluntary position I was considering applying for and (b) get in touch with Nexus again to organise my second stint of therapy with Paul. Re: (a)…well, I have¬†asked Daniel for the reference, to which he has agreed. However, I’ve not filled in anything of the application form, which therefore renders the request redundant. As for (b)…no chance.

Normally speaking, it seems like an uphill battle (at a bloody 85¬į slant)¬†to acknowledge the mere existence of others, which both of Christine’s challenges require. I simply can’t face any communication without A holding my hand (literally and metaphorically). Beyond reading, I can’t really do anything off my own bat, and even if I could, I wouldn’t enjoy a milisecond of it. I haven’t had a bath in about a month. I keep trying to rewatch Babylon 5, but I can’t concentrate on it.¬†I’m scared, I’m low, and I’m so,¬†so¬†tired. But I have something¬†to cling to, for now at least.

Anyway, any advice you have on Depakote, Lithium or indeed any other mood stabilisers would be greatly appreciated. Thanks folks.

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Futility

Don’t read this if you’re in a bad mood or have an aversion to pointless, inane, self-indulgent whining.

Breathing. Awake – awake almost all the time. Out of bed – somehow. Eating – just. Disillusioned. Hermitting. Ruminating, especially during the wee small hours, swathed as I am in darkness, both literal and figurative, about suicide – spent all last night thinking about the film The [Golden Gate] Bridge, and kept seeing my body flying off it. Too exhausted and fed up to do anything about it, not enough money to buy petrol never mind a flight to California (jumping from GGB causes a horrid death anyhow. There are better ways to go). Avoiding laptop as if it carried Ebola (I haven’t opened it since Thursday or Friday and this is being written on my phone) – I’m positively belligerent towards the poor, innocent thing right now, which is most unusual. Weepy – again, most unlike me. Obsessed with idea that my mother will die – it fills with me with a profoundly horrified dread and deep sorrow that I cannot quantify. Very worried about her on a more rational level due to an arthritis flare-up. Triggered and disturbed by a few things I’ve seen lately. Possibly experiencing tactile hallucinations, but not sure. No other obvious psychotic symptoms. IBS, migraines and knee pain strongly in evidence. Back and neck aren’t good either. Psychosomatic, I suppose. Same nett effect as if issues were organic, though. Intoxicated by the sounds of the wind and the rain – the only positive release and escapism other than reading. Yes, reading! Shockingly I can do this, for which I give my heartfelt and eternal thanks to God(s) in whom I don’t believe. Can’t write, as this spiel of complete shit attests. Lonely but paradoxically desperately desirous of no social interaction at all. Shut down FB – more particularly, not using Twitter or G+, which means things are bad. No idea what’s going on outside my tiny little house and really, honestly, truly don’t care. An aberration for a news and current affairs junkie, surely.

I’ve been at best ambivalent and at worst actively hostile about the future of this blog lately. I go through periods where I loathe it, then others where I remember how truly important to me it is, and how markedly therapeutic it has generally been. I was going to delete the whole thing on Friday night, then again on Saturday, but must have retained some semblance of sanity because I realised (admittedly with some advice from Twitter) that I wasn’t in the correct frame of mind to make a big decision like that.

But I might take a break. Might not. Can’t say. Can’t think straight, don’t care about much, in love with the idea of complete unconsciousness, too fatigued to be angry, useful, or remotely coherent or interesting company.

Odd sense of déjà vu.

Psychiatrist in morning. Logically know this is timely and necessary, realistically dreading the living fuck out of it. Mother’s house afterwards. Unfortunately some McFauls will be there. Cannot avoid them as I need to make sure mother is OK. Hopefully there will be no Paedo though. Christine next week some time. Have so far failed to contact Nexus about renewing therapy as I promised her I would, because I’m avoiding contact with anyone (other that A, in person, and mother, by text message), regardless of reason.

Sorry this is such an unmitigated pile of hot, steaming wankshit. Thought I ought to advise those of you that inexplicably give a damn about me that I do, in fact, still exist. Thanks for comments on recent posts, tweets if you’ve sent them (I haven’t checked, sorry) and whatnot. You do mean a lot to me, I hope you all do know that – I just can’t be part of this world right now.

Much love

Pan ‚̧ xxx

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I Lied – The Mentalism is 'Back'

Didn’t I sound so positive on Friday?

All that positivity about The Book, the proposed voluntary position, blah de blah. Although I seemed like (and am) a work in progress – a person notoriously uncompleted, perhaps – my apparent optimism last week did not seem to represent the words of a person in regression. It didn’t seem to be the commentary of someone whose outward skins of positivity were being painfully sliced off, little by little.

But that’s the truth of the matter.

I didn’t mean to lie. I wasn’t even truly aware at the time that I was lying. I mean, when I wrote “I might be slightly depressed…but given all that has been going on, that’s actually quite good”, I did sort of raise an eye-brow in self-referential suspicion, but I think the crux here is that if I was trying to fool anyone, it was primarily myself.

Things are not continuing to get better, as they had been for some months – and I’ve been very firmly in denial about this. The signs have been very strongly, and at times starkly acutely, in evidence for a couple of weeks now, but until Monday I was in complete denial about them. I ignored them: not consciously, but nevertheless, I believe, deliberately. When they couldn’t be ignored, I attempted to dismiss them as circumstantially appropriate, or nominally sane in some other respect, rather than doing the fucking adult thing and recognising them for what they are – clear, indubitable, glaringly-obvious-with-hindsight signs of an impending serious depression. It isn’t fully that yet, but without action and intervention now, that’s what it will become. I know (and should have known) from bitter experience that that is how this hand plays out.

Why the denial? The short answer is that I don’t really know; in the past, I’ve recognised and accepted going mental when I’ve seen it coming, so it’s hard to determine exactly why I deviated from that pattern this time around. I would hypothesise that, having tasted the pseudo-heady heights of pseudo-recovery, I didn’t want to ‘fail’ myself, to go back on all that I had seemed to have ‘achieved’, by knowing I was slowly becoming ill again. Also, and I know this is hatefully egotistical, but I often feel a sense of responsibility to others, mainly because of the relative success of this blog. I got better – -ish – and wrote about it to the world. It doesn’t look good to suddenly come back one day and say, “sorry, folks, scratch that,” does it?

Also, in this case, the problem is very likely to be attributable to my own stupid decisions. I’ll come back to that later.

I only realised how fucked I was when I spoke to Christine, my CPN, on Monday. I really can’t be bothered going into this in any detail, but essentially I told her I was experiencing the following symptoms:

  • the usual paranoia (still convinced I have schizoaffective disorder, but now also of the view that I have schizoid and/or schizotypal personality disorder, on top of the clinical depression and complex PTSD) – no better nor worse than it was the last time I saw her;
  • agoraphobia – won’t leave the house alone, don’t really want to leave it at all during the day anyway, not always at night, either (though at least then I have A to join me);
  • hideous insomnia;
  • ergo, hideous fatigue – but the levels of it are even greater than I’d expect to correlate with the level of insomnia I’m currently experiencing. I mean, I’m not exactly unused to insomnia;
  • complete and utter apathy and malaise;
  • probably some old other bollocks that I’ve forgotten.

I said to her initially that things hadn’t really changed since our last session together, and I really didn’t think that they had. The above ‘symptoms’ strike me as being part and parcel of everyday existence (to a greater or lesser extent, anyway), and it was not thinking about nor discussing them out loud that made me realise that a major depressive episode is a-callin’. It was Christine’s response to me – to what I detailed, certainly, but mostly towards me specifically.

I seemed different, apparently. I seemed ‘flat’ and disinterested. She said that the absolute confirmation of that assessment came when she asked me about writing; apparently, I spoke of this blog, and even some of my other writing ventures, with complete impassivity and detachment. In the past, she claims, there has always been a ‘spark’ about me when I’ve conversed on these matters, but in this case, I just didn’t care.

I hadn’t realised that I’d previously spoken about the blog with such enthusiasm to Christine, but what I did notice when she asked about it was how much I felt that I just didn’t care. This makes me feel guilty; there are hundreds of thousands (possibly millions?) of words chronicling a huge and important chunk of my life here. There are thousands of (mostly!) supportive and interesting comments. There are dozens of links in the blogroll to the writings of others that I really appreciate. It’s a big deal. I cannot reasonably be apathetic about this, yet I am. That was not the case a few weeks ago.

In talking to her, I also realised how ridiculously irritable I’ve become of late. Don’t worry – I didn’t fly off the handle at her (although when she kept looking at her watch I silently seethed), but she did ask a lot of questions and when I thought about the answers, I realised how narky I have actually been over the last few weeks. I’ve kept that to myself pretty well, but the feeling has certainly been there. I’ve been internally going completely batshit barmy over every single little bloody thing, and though I’ve always been easily irritated to some extent, the sheer intensity and frequency recently experienced is something that is only every present when I’m clinically doolally.

Other things I noticed in the course of the discussion were that I was even more hypervigilant than normal and that I’d behaved really strangely this weekend past. Christine asked me if I was getting out at all, and I said that A and I had gone out on Friday and Saturday night (though of course I advised her that I refuse to go out alone and am still petrified of crowds, and thus spend all day sitting in the house, cowering from the outside world. This concerned her because at points I had been trying to go some places, such as shops, by myself. I haven’t done that for ages). She was pleased that I’d gone out at all, but the weird thing is, on Saturday night when A went to bed, I sat up until 5am watching YouTube videos and smoking.

That might seem like a normal thing to anyone else in the world, but it’s odd behaviour for me. There are occasions when I stay up later than A, but they’re usually to write because in a cruel twist of fate, most of my ‘inspiration’ seems to come around the witching hour. This was different – I don’t know why it’s so odd that I would remain up whilst he went to bed, I don’t know why it’s so odd to listen to music videos whilst alone…but it is. It’s just not me at all.

She asked me if I had even enjoyed my late night pursuit. I laughed, and said that I’d taken no pleasure from it at all, but that I couldn’t seem to tear myself away from it. I said I was taking pleasure from almost nothing (save for writing the first chapter of The Book, not that I told her about that), all over again. A different tact, then; what about motivation for anything? Don’t be daft, Christine love, it simply doesn’t exist. Have I any social contact? Meh, occasionally I check Twitter. No, no, she meant in real life. Of course – A is there. But A is only there in the evenings, is he not? Well…yeah. What about my mother? Yes, my mother is there, I can go up to her house again now that AoE and The Everythinger are gone. Good, right?

But…I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to use my vocal chords at all: it is so much effort. Whilst I can get away with this in A’s company, it’s not possible in Mum’s; A can entertain himself quite easily with computer games or whatever, whereas my mother, at least when I’m with her, seems to need verbal social interaction in order to even breathe. Yet I’m too tired to speak. Speaking a few words seems akin to remastering the theory of relativity right now, so I dread the idea of having an entire conversation.

So, Christine mused, if I don’t want to (or literally can’t, at times) talk to anyone, am I willing to even see anyone? Well, Mum and A, yes – despite the communication problems inherent in seeing anybody. But beyond that, no. I’d rather gouge out my eyeballs with a rusty fork and stick them so far up my anus they come out in next year’s vomit than see anyone right now. I did force myself to have lunch with my oldest friend Brian about a fortnight ago, because I’d essentially ignored his text messages and Facebastard comments and so forth for ages, and knew I was being a shit friend. However, if I could have gotten out of it with any ounce of integrity left intact, I would have done so in a heartbeat. The meeting was awful; Brian is a lovely bloke, and we’ve known each other for so long that there will always be something to say, but I couldn’t feel anything other than selfish frustration that I had to be out of the house (fortunately, as ever, I think I hid it well).

And that brings me to another point. I felt hideously guilty for not enjoying lunch with Brian; I feel hideously guilty for not wanting to speak, especially to Mum because she’s so nice and she’s so lonely oftentimes; I felt guilty for complaining to Christine about not wanting to speak, because in doing so I was speaking, so she probably thought I was angry with her for ‘making’ me engage in that; I felt guilty for being irritable; I felt guilty for not being more respectful and appreciative of this blog; I then felt guilty for being narcissistic enough to think that people actually care about it; I felt guilty for thinking that almost everyone is out to get me; I felt guilty for my general issues of anhedonia and avolition, because when you think about it, life hasn’t really been too cruel to me, and I should be bloody grateful for what I have.

Christine cocked her head, and lifted her eyes to me. “Excessive guilt,” she said simply. An explanation of the term was not necessary. I am well aware that it is a symptom of a major depressive episode. Not that I felt or feel that the guilt is excessive, but she apparently did.

“OK,” she finally continued. “Your mood, your general demeanour, has definitely changed since I saw you last.” As noted, I’m not sure how, but then I can only observe myself from within. “You’re just…” …she searched for the correct terminology… “…not yourself, not the person I’m used to meeting.”

I thought about this for a moment. How can she know what ‘myself’ truly is? I see her for an hour every fortnight or three weeks, for Christ’s sake! But I forced myself to try to see things from her perspective, and realised that if my demeanour had indeed changed, then in fact surely it is her of all people that would notice. A sees me every day, Mum once a week. Any changes to them would be subtle, and only clearly observable retrospectively. An analogy would be when we got our cats as kittens. We didn’t notice them aging day to day, but when my sister-in-law – who was with us the day we took them home – saw them several months later, she very clearly noticed how much they’d grown. I suppose observable shifts in mood are a bit like that.

Indeed, I remember when I got my accursed medical notes (yes, those things that I didn’t bother doing anything useful with – fail fail fail fail fail), the letters from Psychiatry to Lovely GP would detail my mood self-reports and then their ‘objective’ assessments. Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t always (or even often) agree with their alleged ‘objectivity’; however, unlike many within this discipline, Christine is a no-bullshitter, and the more we talked about how things were, the more I grew to see that she was right. Things are Heading South.

So, then. What caused it?

I tried to blame it on insomnia. If I can’t sleep, then it’s inevitable that my mood is going to drop. She accepted that, to a point, but asked if I was still feeling so apathetic and (sometimes willfully) disconnected from the world when I had taken Zopiclone and ergo had had at least some sleep. I was forced to admit that I was. In all honesty, sleeping hadn’t really affected that at all.

“Ah well,” I sighed. “These things do go in circles, don’t they? I’ve never been stupid enough to believe that I wouldn’t go through another major depression. It’s always going to be a part of my life in some fashion.”

“Hmm,” she replied, uncertainly. “Maybe. But I’m just wondering…how long has it been since you sliced your Seroquel dosage in half?”

“About five weeks…” I began.

“And how long has this…this downward slide been going on? About three?”

“Um…yes, I suppose so. But it can’t be anything to do with the Seroquel, can it? I mean, I know it’s used as an anti-depressant, but I thought that was at lower doses. [NewVCB] told me that the maintenance dosage of it for depressive features is 300mg.”

“As a general rule, it is,” Christine replied. “But it doesn’t mean that the mood stabilising and anti-depressant properties aren’t applicable in higher doses – and anyhow, you seem to have a high tolerance to medication to begin with. Everyone responds differently to different doses of medication, as you know.”

I had to concede those points to her, and after debating it in my head for a couple of minutes, I was forced to recognise that the timing of my apparent descent back into madness relative to my idiotic decision to reduce my daily intake of Seroquel was highly coincidental.

“And I don’t believe in coincidences,” I added softly.

She nodded. “Neither do I. I don’t know if you know this, but in the XR version of Seroquel [the one I take], the anti-depressant properties are more potent than in the standard version [no, I didn’t know this. I thought extended release was just that – so why does that have an impact on mood more so than getting the hit all at once?], so I think that further evidences the fact that there’s a connection here.”

“But,” I protested, “I have had no hallucinations at all since I reduced the dose, and that day of heightened paranoia last month was when I was still taking 600mg.”

“Even so,” she shrugged. “The depressive and anhedonic symptoms still strike me as being related.”

Maybe the psychosis remits. Maybe it only occurs in times of stress (so maybe I don’t have schizoaffective disorder, as I posited at the beginning of this post. Though I still think I do). Maybe it simply can’t be bothered right now, and will return down the line a bit along with some other nefarious attacks on my psyche, such as the hateful mental prison that is the psychiatric mixed state. Maybe it only comes at all when I’m in the midst of a full-blown mood episode (therefore, again, possibly ruling out schizoaffective disorder, and suggesting psychotic depression or bipolar disorder). I mean, when you’re terrified by hallucinations, it isn’t your first priority to start assessing what your general mood state has been at the time, so I really don’t know.

Who cares. Whatever the case, psychosis or no psychosis, I was forced to agree that it looked very likely that the reduction in Seroquel had dramatically affected my psychological well-being.

“If I were you, I’d very seriously consider going back on to the 600mg,” Christine told me.

“What, tonight?” I checked.

“Yes. And if you find that you still want to reduce it after that, discuss it with [NewVCB] in your appointment on 7th September, and she can maybe consider tapering it down or something. But for now, I really think you should go back on it until you see her. I know it’s only a fortnight, but…”

“…that’s a long time when you’re going mental,” I finished despondently, and she nodded her agreement.

“What do you think about that?” she asked.

“I reduced the Seroquel because I was sick of not being able to get up in the mornings. and then experiencing this repulsive, zombified hangover when I did. But I’d rather both of those than be mental – particularly ‘mental’ in the form of ‘depressed’. I’m just worried about the weight gain. It makes me need chocolate, which is contrary to my nature. I’ve never really had a sweet tooth, but as soon as I started taking 600mg of this stuff, I developed one that is surely unparalleled across space and time.”

“We can discuss that, if it continues,” she said. “If you can get back your interest in things, then maybe you can start taking occasional trips to the swimming pool, for example, and build it up from there. If your mood is better to begin with, things like that will seem less daunting.”

I inhaled deeply. “OK. I’ll increase it again. If this is the start of a black treacle of depression, I want to nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. If I can. Maybe it’s already too late?”

“Possibly, but by no means definitely,” Christine replied. “You may well be able to stop this before it becomes significantly worse. And at least you have a psychiatric appointment soon, and that will help guide us from there.”

I have been back on the 600mg of Seroquel for two nights now. Obviously two nights isn’t going to make a difference, but let’s just see where we are with the depression thing. I don’t feel depressed as such – Christine, when I said that to her, once again used the adjective ‘flat’ to describe my disposition – but the curious thing about depressive episodes is that they’re not always characterised by raw despair itself; many other things can mould themselves into that horrible, amorphous shape. So, as I did in February, I’m going to use those amazingly accurate, wonderfully telling and obviously entirely diagnostically valid depression scales to see what the craic is.

Goldberg – 68
Beck – 53
Hamilton – 37
Burns – 89

Look at the fucking score on the Beck Inventory! All the others are slightly better than February, but it is a fuckload worse. By fucking miles! Either I inaccurately recorded my Beck scores when I previously did this test, or things have really fucked up, because I think I’ve been honest in my answers today. Perhaps the thing with it is that it places a lot more emphasis on behaviour and thoughts, rather than depressed feelings alone, than some of the other assessments do. But whatever the case, that isn’t good.

Perhaps one of the biggest indicators that things are not good is the fact that I collapsed on Monday night. I just blanked out – presumably I fainted – and fell, with the next thing I knew being my lying on the floor. Mum, who is trying to buy a new car, kept asking me to stand behind her at the computer as she looked up endless reams of automotive specifications, and I was so fucking exhausted that even that was an effort akin to climbing Mount Kiliman-fucking-jaro. So I apparently responded somatically, and passed out. Don’t worry; I wasn’t hurt or anything. But I do think that all factors, when detailed here together, suggest that until things start to demonstrably improve, I have to be very, very careful.

My concentration isn’t as bad as it normally is when I’m off my head, so maybe I can seek some solace in writing The Book. Yet even that seems like it has to be treated with kid-gloves, because writing can very quickly wear even the sanest person out (I’ve been writing this fucking post on and off since Monday afternoon!). Take it easy, The Eagles once sang. Good advice, that.

Those of you that read TWIM will know that on Saturday I featured, as one of the wildcards, a blog denouncing the inappropriate use of quotation marks. You might very well attempt to protest at my use of said marks in the title of this blog post, but you can’t put me on trial for hypocritical punctuation abuse just yet (at least, not for that. I’m sure there’s a multitude of errors within this post, but I’m typing on my mother’s netbook which makes things difficult and, furthermore, I’m a bit mental and can’t be arsed to proof-read this. So suck it). I put the word ‘back’ in quotes because it isn’t back; it can’t be, because it was never away. It was, and is, always there – just to greater or lesser extents that can or can’t be easily managed. ‘Back’ seemed like the most appropriate word given the apparent change in intensity, however, so there you go.

I’m really, really not a fan of BBC3 in the least, but BBC1 happened to repeat this programme originally broadcast on the former last night. It’s a surprisingly sensitive and interesting look at how caring for a parent with mental illness can affect a young person. If your country allows you access to the BBC iPlayer, do check it out ūüôā

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Agoraphobic Persecutory Delusions of Familial Evil and Seroquel. Etc.

In the absence of Paul – I know I’m still catching up on writing about my final few sessions with him, but they did in fact finish about three weeks ago – I’ve been seeing Christine at fortnightly intervals. The last appointment was last week.

Although things have been generally going OK, as testified by this blog throughout recent months, over the last week or so they’ve taken a slight¬†downwards turn. As things stand, I can manage it;I suppose it could perhaps be a mild depression (by my standards – I think that probably equates to moderate by official scales? [EDIT: I am correct, apparently. I just took this test¬†again and scored 52, which is within the bracket of ‘moderate to severe’ depression. Well, it’s better than having gotten 82 back in February, I suppose..!]), but we’ll see.

I guessed that the whitecoats would claim that my mood dip was reactive, for the following reasons:

  1. the cessation of the treatment with Paul;
  2. the burglary; and
  3. the fact (as yet unmentioned on this journal) that FuckBitch Queen of All Levels of Hell Aunt of Evil arrived in the country on Wednesday morning (more on this anon).

Appointment With Christine

I guessed correctly. It didn’t come as massive shock to the system when Christine carefully opined that it was “hardly surprising” that I “wasn’t at” myself. In my view, my moods are, by and large, non-reactive (I’ve always maintained, and I continue to maintain, that my particular blend of clinical depression is melancholic rather than atypical), but I can see why she came to the conclusion she did. I’m not saying the above has not¬†affected my mental status at all, but I think this goes in cycles too. Interestingly, NewVCB seemed to primarily agree with me, but I’ll get to her later.

I was with Christine for quite a while, though not quite as long as the last time I saw her. In a supposedly¬†surreptitious¬†fashion, she kept glancing at her watch, which mildly irritated me, but I do appreciate that she has other people to see. Anyhow. We discussed how I’m feeling in the wake of the end of therapy (fine, though I’m not sure she was convinced of that, given that she kept bleating on what a “big deal” it apparently was for me), how I’d dealt with the burglary (relatively well) and medication.

Seroquel has been a wonderful drug for me. It really has made my life a lot better. However, predictably for an anti-psychotic, it has sent my appetite completely out of control, and a lot of weight I’d lost has piled right back on. It wasn’t always like this, though; I’ve been taking Seroquel for about a year and a half now, and it’s only since the dosage was increased to 600mg daily that this has happened. I did a fair bit of whinging about it to Christine.

The long and the short of it was that I should discuss the issue with NewVCB (well, I’d never have thought of that…), but – reasonably enough – Christine thinks that this would be the wrong time to reduce my dose of the stuff. I agreed that I’d like to retain this level of relative stability for several more months before I’d seriously consider reducing it, particularly if there are likely to be stressful events hovering about.

She kept emphasising how important it was that I remained free from psychosis. In light of our last meeting, where she said that NewVCB was reconsidering my previous diagnosis of BPD, I am now wondering if they think that I actually have some sort of specifically psychotic illness – Christine, at least, puts very heavy emphasis on that side of things. She’s worried that if I started reducing my intake of Seroquel that all the voices and visions would come flooding back. Her concern troubles me, because when she heard that I had suffered from command hallucinations and hadn’t been sectioned (or¬†voluntarily¬†admitted) at any point in my life, she was utterly stunned. So if I go mental again, if ‘They‘ come back or some other(s) turn up, will she recommend the bin for me?

Am I Still Proper Mental?

She asked me if I was still free from the voices, and I was pleased to respond in the affirmative. But then she asked me about possible delusional thinking. I denied any, but I must have shifted my eyes suspiciously because she kept probing me about it. I admitted, then, that yeah РI might just have a little bit of paranoia hovering about. Might. Just maybe. Perhaps.

In an admission of narcissism that shocks even me, I blathered on about how GCHQ read this blog, and about how people still have cameras up watching me. The funny thing about the cameras is that they go wherever I go. Yeah, I am really that important!

Naturally, Christine enquired as to the strength of these alleged delusions. I said that I rationally knew they were a load of bollocks, but that…well, that I still had the fear that the “paranoia” was grounded in at least some truth. For example, I have a friend, William, who’s a policeman. None of us know exactly what it is that he does, because it’s some shady, cloak-and-dagger, national security-esque thing that requires his¬†utmost¬†discretion and a solemn vow never to speak about it in detail to anyone. What he has¬†told us, though, is that the amount the security services know about people, their movements, their online habits, etc is truly shocking. He also confirmed that yes, they probably are¬†scouring insignificant online bullshit like this blog – though he contends that it’s probably based on keyword searches, patterns and the like, rather than some agent sitting in a dimly-lit room in Cheltenham reading every word that people like me are typing.

You see? As the old adage goes, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not watching you.

I told Christine about all this, and of course she pointed out that, given that this is a public blog, it probably could be read by GCHQ and their kin. However, she picked up on William’s point that it’s unlikely to be in any detail, unless something suspect comes up. She laughingly asked if I had somehow threatened national security in my writing of this blog, and I had to concede that I haven’t. She sorted of tilted her head as if to say “I told you so,” and then started quizzing me about the cameras.

“I know¬†the cameras aren’t there,” I said, exasperated with myself, “but I just can’t shake off this stupid irrational belief that they are.” I’m a walking conta-fucking-diction.

As I said to her, in a way having this kind of insight is almost worse than being completely under the control of a delusion. Not that I’m saying the latter is nice – far fucking from it. But when you know that your beliefs are (potentially) psychotic (is it even psychotic at all in that case?), then you have the added pressure of arguing with yourself about the damn thing all the time. You might as well have one of those tossers that doesn’t believe in mental illness with you at all times, telling you to “wise up” and “pull yourself together”. The rational, ‘well’ side of my mind isn’t particularly sympathetic to the sicker part.

The upshot of the conversation, though, was that the “paranoia” isn’t too¬†intrusive. It doesn’t stop me from doing things I want to do (no, anhedonia, avolition and agoraphobia are the culprits there), and most of the time it’s operating at a fairly peripheral level rather than being right in the middle of my conscious mind. Christine seemed mostly satisfied with this, though I suspect she’ll be coming back to this issue at each session for the next foreseeable future.

Rant: Aunt of Evil is on this Landmass!

We then moved on to an issue about which I was, according to her, “very angry”. I thought I’d been speaking perfectly reasonably and rationally, but Christine did not concur. The topic in question was the arrival of Aunt of Evil in this country. Those of you that have been reading this in the long term may realise that this means that this is the third¬†time the stupid fucking bitch has been here in less than two and a half years. If you’re not so intimately acquainted with this blog, or indeed if you’re a normal human being who doesn’t have a photographic memory for bullshit, I have a long running dispute with the woman and her¬†immediate¬†family. They reside in the USA, and frankly their existence in Ireland makes me wish that air travel had never been invented (other than for the flight that sent them across the pond in the first place, that is).

The story of my feud with Aunt of Evil, Georgie, is a protracted and¬†convoluted¬†one that I’ve never discussed fully here – not because I have a problem with any of you knowing about it, but simply because other people’s familial dramas are really not that interesting. Indeed, most of it is not that interesting even to me, so I’m not going to waste my time or bandwidth or put myself at even greater risk of repetitive strain injury by detailing it all. You can see contextual posts here, here, here¬†and here. There’s probably more, but those links should give enough information, and I can’t be arsed going through any more archives.

Now, of course given my history with Aunt of Evil and her spawn, I am not¬†going anywhere near any of them. In that way, their presence doesn’t particularly¬†bother me – but what does is that I know that (a) Aunt of Evil (AoE) has a skewed perception of why it is that I loathe her, and have no time for her family and (b) I will be talked about between them all, behind my back, despite my express fucking instructions¬†to my mother – and to AoE herself – that I am not a suitable subject for their conversation.

My ma told me the other week that AoE has been going around whinging that V, the deceased lump of shite that forcefully donated his sperm in order to facilitate my conception, “has achieved something in death that he didn’t in life – the breaking up of the family.”

This fucking¬†enraged me. AoE has always been a wanker, and I’ve never liked her. However, given that she purports to be a Christian and should therefore have a corresponding set of morals, I did expect her to at least behave honourably when V snuffed it. I did not expect V himself¬†to behave thus, in life or in death, so her contention is completely erroneous. V was a cunt. I expected him to behave like a cunt. I did not expect her, her offspring and her offspring’s mate, to be have like cunts. And they did.

What is so fucking difficult to understand about that? It’s not fucking about V. It’s about them. Simple.

I advised my mother in no uncertain terms to appraise AoE of the above – but I don’t think that she will. My mother is lovely, but she is, in this instance, also a hypocrite. She agrees with my position on AoE and her twatpack, yet she has quite happily arranged to see them, have them stay with her, etc etc. In fairness to her, she has this idea that [cue best EastEnders-esque put-on accent] faaaahhhmmmlaayyy¬†is one of the most important things that an individual can have on this Earth. I respect her view, but I fundamentally disagree with it. One of our friends, G (of intellectual fame, waaaaaaaay back in 2009), put it best:

Family is genetics; friendship is earned.

Quite. I don’t get this societal obsession with family for its own sake. If the people concerned are nice, if you have something in common with them, if they’re a laugh, whatever – fine. If not, why bother? Seriously. I don’t understand it. What ties do you have to such people other than DNA?

I so wish I could show you my cousin’s wife’s blog, so that you could have a laugh (or, indeed, recoil in repulsion) at her utterly nauseating nice-middle-class-ism, and pictures of the nice house that they bought with the money that should have gone to my mother and me (tangential point of amusement: she has 23 blog ‘fans’ on Fuckbook. I’m not exactly some bigshot on the hateful service myself, but at least I have over 670. Mwhahahahaha! :D). I see from said blog that she’s up the duff again. I wonder how they’re funding that brat¬†Gift from God?

No, no, no – I’m not bitter¬†or anything ūüėČ

Aaaaaaaanyway, I gave Christine a redacted version of the story, and as I said, I thought I’d been fairly calm and reasonable in my narration thereof. It certainly wasn’t a rant like the last few paragraphs here were! However, when I’d finished, she said, “you’re clearly angry about this.”

Well…yeah. I sort of am. I then proceeded to rant a good bit about V, justifying my view that he was a knobend of Rupert Murdoch proportions by referencing his actions towards my mother during the joke that was their marriage. I said that I was furious with AoE for believing that my problem with her and her family was about him because, as noted, no one expected V not to be a dick.

She was curious as to why I care about what someone I can’t stand thinks of me, which was a fair question. The answer is that it’s not so much about what AoE thinks of me – she still “loves” me according to My Mother the Messenger, but I really couldn’t care less whether she adored or despised me – but, rather, about her consistent and unwavering failure to accept responsibility for her actions. She still¬†thinks that what she and her family did is right. It was legally¬†permissible, I’ll give her that. It was, however, ethically repugnant.

None of this, of course, even acknowledges my more general, more long-lasting disdain for AoE. She is self-righteous, patronising and a Queen proselythiser (she’s one of the key reasons that I had such a profound and blanket hatred of Christians until I met lovely people like Phil Groom¬†and bourach). Once, when she asked Mum why I didn’t like her, my mother – bless her – was honest, and told her exactly that. AoE affected to be shocked by this information, but honestly – on this side of the Atlantic¬†there is no one¬†in this shittily sprawling dynasty of mine, including my mother and the other Bible bashers like Suzanne, that strongly disagrees with my stance on that.

Back to the Fucking Point, Pan…

To get back to the original point of this post, Christine feels that it is a positive thing that I am avoiding these people; I know my limits, apparently, and “not everybody does, you know.” Nevertheless, given my levels of resentment, anger and general frustration towards them, she also thinks that this is a massive stressor for me. Perhaps it must seem that way – the rant above would appear to be clear and present testament to that – but I actually don’t think it is. I’m staying out of their way, and as long as my mother does not provide me with a running commentary on all the inevitable back-biting, I am happy to sit here at A’s in my blissful ignorance until they all sod away off again.

The appointment was basically left with her saying that if my mood dips any further before I see her again (next Friday), I can contact her, presumably to arrange an emergency appointment. NewVCB (after this week) is off for about 408 years – Christine says that all the consultants just disappear over the summer – so it’s good to at least have some professional support,¬†especially¬†when I don’t have Paul to bleat to. I better not go really mental though, because if it were to come to the bit and some SHO or other had to assess me, he or she would inevitably take advice from Christine as the only present person within the CMHT that knows me. And as I noted above, Christine is stunned I’ve never been binned.

So. I must retain a modicum of sanity at least until NewVCB is back from her summer gallivanting.

Speaking of her…

Appointment with NewVCB

This is Friday (albeit only into its early hours). I saw NewVCB first thing on Wednesday morning (9.30am) and felt that¬†the appointment went fairly well. I told her that things weren’t quite as positive as the last time I’d seen her (which I didn’t record here at all, because I was in and out within minutes, and all was deemed to be well), but also said that I was happy to leave my medication as it was, and that if the downer got worse or, indeed, if it lengthily prevailed, then we could possibly reconsider this at a future appointment. She seemed to think this was a fairly sensible course of action.

I did raise the weight gain on my current dosage of Seroquel issue with her however, whilst stressing that I didn’t want to reduce the dose right now. She agreed that this was something we could think about over the coming months; according to her, a standard maintenance dose of the stuff is usually 300mg. That said, I wouldn’t like to whack the dose in half at any point, even if life was absolutely fucking amazing, so if that’s where we ultimately want to return to, then I’d have to insist that we slowly taper it down. She’s not stupid, though, so I’m sure she’d agree with that.

I told her that I was worried that, if we go ahead and do this at some point, the voices would return. “At the end of the day,” I said, “I’d rather carry some extra weight that be persecuted by ‘They’.” She nodded her assent to this, and added that in a case like mine – where the mental illness may remit at times, but usually returns in some fashion – it would be fine to have xmg as a maintenance dose, but that it would at times be necessary to whack it back up.

It sounds odd, but I was quite pleased by this statement. I took it as recognition on NewVCB’s part that my mental health problems are chronic and recurrent, and not necessarily the reactive issues that Christine had perhaps suggested (though I’d add that I don’t think that Christine thinks it’s all¬†reactive – just that that, to her, is probably part of it, and maybe it is). This isn’t me saying, “yay, it’s all biological,” because clearly it isn’t (even if it was then that would be pretty shit – therapy would be an utter waste of time, would it not?); would I be so fucked up were it not for the ‘trauma’ I experienced? Probably not to this degree. But I’ve always maintained that I hold to a biopsychosocial model of mentalism, and she seems to concur with that.

Of course, therapy has helped me a lot, hence the ‘psychosocial’ bit. But, as I am forever¬†banging on, I don’t believe in cures. Therapy – and medication for that matter – may help to reduce both the severity and frequency of episodes, but that doesn’t mean that the whole sorry business is dead and buried.

Anyhow, this led onto a conversation about suicidal ideation. Christine is usually concerned when I say something like, “but of course¬†I still have suicidal thoughts, how could I not?” NewVCB, on the other hand, says she wouldn’t even¬†believe me¬†if I went in one day and said that I absolutely wasn’t suicidal in the least. As she says, the horrific intensity of my preoccupation with ending my life that I’ve often experienced will not always be present, but she believes – in the short to medium term, at least – that there will be probably always be some level of it.

That’s a pretty poor prognosis, I suppose, but I’d rather she was honest with me. I’ve always respected her for her candour, and even if she’s not painting the rosiest picture in creation, better that than false hope and lies.

She said that I should use this period of relative stability to think about what I can do when things go tits up again. Well, I’ve thought about it, and I haven’t a fucking clue. One thing NewVCB suggested was that I should keep the idea with me, for the next time I’m standing on the edge of some cliff with a bottle of gin and 20 packets of Zopiclone, that I have¬†come back from the absolute brink (remember the 4th October plan, anyone?) and that therefore I don’t need to take the jump. “Use this period as a reminder when you’re that low again,” she instructed. “You can, and you have, recovered from very severe suicidality.”

Spot on: I have. However, I know from bitter experience that the mind of a person at that kind of hideously low ebb does not think like this. Well, the omni-present rational narrator in my head would certainly say, “but look, remember how well you did in mid-2011?” but the depressed side is always going to dominate that with responses such as, “yeah, but that was then, this¬†is different. I can’t recover this time,” or even “so what? I don’t want¬†to recover anyway.” You might very well think that both of these (and other possible) responses are¬†thoroughly¬†illogical, but that’s how severe depression works I’m afraid. Indeed, continuing my standing-at-the-abyss scenario, I could look down over the cliff,¬†knowing¬†that The Rational Narrator was right and that everything else was a crock of shit. And it wouldn’t make an iota of bloody difference.

Still, she has a point, and I’ll try to do as she says. One thing I have now that I didn’t have when I had a major crash-and-burn in the past is this blog; one crucial thing about it is that for the first time I have a proper record of something that approximates recovery, or at least a road to relative wellness. Perhaps those positive words, penned (typed) by my very own hand, could make a difference? I’m not convinced of it, but you never know.

We spent some time discussing this journal actually. NewVCB alluded to it in the context of it being one of the things that had helped me when I felt at my worst, but was careful to remind me of the dangers of becoming too immersed in the online and mentalist world, rather than in the supposedly real and sane one.

I laughed, and told her that since I’ve been feeling better, the amount of visitors here has gone way¬†down. I still get about 200 hits on days on which I don’t post and often over double that when I do. This is far¬†more than I ever could have expected when I embarked on this¬†narcissistic but cathartic¬†pursuit, and don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful to and for every person that takes an interest in this bollocks. Compared to my hits when I was posting my most morbid, morose material, though, things are definitely much less popular. I don’t mind that – I just thing it’s an interesting statistic.

In any case, I assured her that I think I’ve achieved a good balance between being here, being Pandora, and being there, being me, in the “real world”. She asked me if I was getting out much.

Ha! As if. I’ll go out alone for little errands, such as buying milk or something, if I’m feeling game. Otherwise I won’t leave the house without A, or at least without the promise of meeting someone I know well. Even then, there’s some difficulties.

I was due to meet Brian, one of my close friends, on Monday evening. Realising, however, that I would actually have to go out and, shock horror, talk to Brian, I backed out and made a frankly idiotic excuse to avoid him. (Contrast this with my intended meeting with Aaron on Wednesday, which I was going to until fate intervened. I bring this up because never, never, never ever ever ever, have Aaron and I been able meet based on our original arrangements. Something always comes up. Famine or feast, eh?).

I admitted to NewVCB that I’m sometimes genuinely scared of seeing my/our friends. Naturally she asked why, and naturally I said that I didn’t know.

She said, to paraphrase, that I need to really take some time to work out the specifics of this social and agoraphobia. I agree that the roots of it need to be uncovered, but I thought that was what therapy was for. Oh, wait. The NHS won’t fucking give me therapy, and Nexus deals with sexual abuse issues rather than this sort of fuckwittery. So basically I’m screwed.

Maybe I’ll try and look at this through writing in a future post here. I can’t seem to get the thoughts that need to be…er…thought…into my my head with any modicum of coherence, and sometimes writing about thoughts can be more¬†revelatory¬†than thoughts in themselves.

And that was pretty much it. Since NewVCB is on holiday now for a good while, she said she’d see me again towards the end of August or start of September. That’s a little longer a gap than I usually have between my appointments with her, but not too much so. And it’s still a fuck of a lot better than the erratic scheduling her predecessor afforded me.

Meh and Blah and Yadda and Etc and Such

If you’re still reading this, you really must have a strong interest in self-flagellatory pursuits¬†¬†– but seriously, thank you. I don’t know if anyone has the lack of wit to care about me, but if you are thus afflicted, please don’t worry. I’m OK. Really, I’m mostly OK. People have downers, whether they’re mental or not. It could be a mild ‘episode’, it could be the start of something more serious, or it could be just one of those things that happens from time to time. Indeed, I’m feeling a good bit better than I was on, say, Wednesday, so it’s probably nothing much – I mentioned it to Christine and NewVCB on a ‘just in case’ basis, I suppose. I’ll be fine.

As you might imagine, sleep is an issue for someone whose blog is entitled Confessions of a Serial Insomniac. Generally, one of the most positive side effects of Seroquel has been its soporific effects, but the downside of same is the hangover the stuff gives you the following day.

The fact, therefore, that I’d been up really early from Monday to Thursday inclusive is probably not insignificant. After the burglary, we had to replace the two doors that the robbing cunts smashed through; one was in a room that has a second (undamaged) door that we also decided to change for the sake of aesthetic consistency. The bloke we got to to do the work arrived each morning bright and early, and I had to be up to greet him, make the obligatory cups of tea and share the obligatory cigarettes. It hasn’t been a particularly unpleasant effort – he’s a nice man – but it has resulted in severe fatigue. That, in turn, can be a major issue vis a vis mentalism.

Next week sees Northern Ireland’s Lovely Loyalist Love-in, the Twelfth (or, as one council is trying to politically correctly re-market it, “Orangefest”), come to pass. I have nothing particularly against the occasion despite my unionist-nationalist ambivalence (although, of course, I do loathe the contingent of wankers that set about causing trouble around this time of year – utter cunts), but neither do I care for it either. There are two days’ holidays, though, which from a practical point of view means that our door-hanger – soon-to-be our painter and decorator – can’t come out next week. So, in this way, Orangeism has done me a favour. It will allow me and my Seroquel-addled mind to rest.

Anyway, this is the abrupt end of this stupidly but predictably long post. Cheerio.

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