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.

How Do You Work Full-Time When You're a Mentally Ill Seroquel-Gobbler?

Seroquel has tended to dictate that I sleep until at least 10.30am each day, and often much later. When I say ‘sleep’, I don’t necessarily mean that literally, because of course Seroquel regrettably loses its soporific effects over time, and I have an apparent predisposition to insomnia anyway; however, one way or another, the hangover effects of the drug leave me in a zombified stupor the whole of each morning.

Seroquel may dictate that I don’t do anything at all in its wake, but unfortunately of late circumstance has demanded the polar opposite. You may recall that A and I were burgled (for the second time) about a month ago. Two requirements arose out of this: one was the need to urgently repair the damage caused by the tossbags responsible (that being the broken back gate and the door between the kitchen and living room) and the second was, in respect of our probable desire to move, to get the house into some sort of cosmetic order. A and I live in perpetual mess and don’t really give a shit what the house looks like ordinarily. Of course maintenance of a house is a general chore to anybody, but I appear to have a specific phobia of it. Not that I’m using that as an excuse to get out of it, mind you, because I wouldn’t fucking do it whether I had said fear or not. (At least I’m honest, yes?).

Anyway, A’s father and step-mother have a mate who’s good around the house. He paints, tiles, joins, does minor structural work, blah blah de blah fucking blah blah. He’s trusted, being a family friend, and he charges reasonable rates. Excellent. Brilliant. Amazing.

Does that sound sarcastic? It is, to an extent, but seriously – we’re very lucky to have this connection, because of course it would be just our luck, were we to seek out a similar sort of individual via classified ads or something, that the person contacted would be an unscrupulous wanker with a criminal record the length of one of my more…um…exploratory posts on this blog (that’s c. 4,000 – 5,000 words, for current readers fortunate enough to be uninitiated). Furthermore, the bloke in question is a nice bloke; he’s fairly easy to chat to and seems to do a good job.

However. Fuck me but I’ll be glad to see the back of him.

I have a routine. An inane and, perhaps paradoxically, fairly un-regimented one, admittedly, but something that suits me nevertheless. I get up when Seroquel allows me to get up. Then I write, read or occasionally watch the pointless but inexplicably addictive rolling *ahem* news¬†(read: sensationalised bullwank) on BBC News 24. I sound like a work-shy fucker, I know, but even in these not-so-heady days of pseudo-“recovery”, this is genuinely all I am capable of. I don’t like lying in half the day, and I don’t do it through choice. I do it because the medication forces me to do it. In turn, the threat of potentially dangerous psychosis forces me to take the medication.

Our builder-joiner-decorater-Everythinger, and his penchant for showing up at eight in the bloody morning, has screwed up this seemingly idle but oddly workable routine on an epic scale. I haven’t felt this chronically and soul-destroyingly fatigued since I was plagued with literally months on end¬†of insomnia. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it takes me back to when I was still at work full-time and plagued with literally months on end of insomnia (God, that’s a vile memory. I would lie in bed, awake, all night – every night, for months. I’d get up at 7am and almost throw coffee beans down my throat. Then I’d go to work for 8am, stay there to 6pm in a futile effort to wear myself out, come home, stare blindly at the TV for a few hours, then repeat the whole hideous cycle for another day, and another day, and another day. And¬†this was before my 2008 breakdown came a-callin’. How the fuck did I do that every day?).

It’s the Seroquel’s fault, of course. I would probably be tired if I wasn’t taking it, but I don’t think I’d be so completely devoid of any atom of energy whatsoever. It’s the drug that demands that I rest (if you can call existing in a stupefied Seroquel hangover ‘rest’) so much, and when I don’t do its bidding, it punishes me, like some embittered monarch lashing out at a traitor.

Anyway, whilst I’m on the themes of Seroquel and working both, herein lies a huge issue. Last month, Differently left the following comment on my rant about knobend MP Philip Davies (who, incidentally, was one of the ones to question the Murdochs and Rebecca Rebecka¬†Rebeckah Rebekah Wade Grant-Mitchell Brooks over the News of the Screws phone-hacking allegations – how the hell did Parliament let him¬†on that committee?):

…realistically I‚Äôm unsure that I‚Äôll ever be able to work full time, since a combination of my experiences and the meds I take mean that managing 2 weeks at 10-4 left me looking physically unwell, pale and tired and feeling horrendous, thereby meaning that I hope to work part-time…

Seaneen, who is presently working full-time, has also alluded recently to how much Seroquel has inhibited her at work in the mornings (and she has, as a consequence, withdrawn from it).

I had been thinking, much to my chagrin, that part-time employment was becoming my own only realistic option as far as future return to work goes, but I kept trying to tell myself that¬†eventually¬†that wouldn’t be the case, that¬†eventually¬†I could back to working full-time. But this exhaustion-debacle with the Everythinger has left me seriously questioning that feigned optimism.

I cannot function without devoting most of the morning to a complete state of bleugh. I just can’t. Not whilst 600 daily milligrams of Quetiapine addles my entire system. So, if I continue to take the stuff – certainly at this dosage – there is no way in hell that I could work full-time. It is simply impossible.

I keep looking at other people (especially, to my personal feminist frustration, other women) Рrandoms in the pub, the street, whatever Рand I silently ask them, how Рhow?! Рcan you possibly work eight hours a day, five days a week? How is that even remotely physically feasible? And then I remember that I too did this Рfor years, some of it whilst doing a sodding postgraduate degree Рand I shake my head in stunned disbelief. How did I do that? How was that even approaching possible? Was I an imposter in my own body? (I do love a bit of ((self-directed)) Capgras). I am certainly not that person now. Was I ever that person, really? Who was I then? Who am I now? How did it all change? (And, you might ask, who fucking cares, Pan?).

Those that are masochistic enough to regularly read this blog may be remember that, at my last psychiatric review, I asked NewVCB if I could consider reducing my dosage of Quetiapine. You may also recall that she was potentially amenable to this, citing a maintenance dose of 300mg.

This could¬†help, and I might notice the difference more markedly after coming down from such a high dose, but my recollection of taking 300mg in the past was that it was still very – if not quite, as currently, absolutely and unequivocally –¬†debilitating¬†the next morning. Besides, I’m not convinced that 300mg adequately functioned on the psychotic features of my illness. It sated some of the voices a little I suppose, but it was only when I started ingesting a daily whack of 400mg upwards that they actually shut the fuck up (and random, probably stress-related delusions¬†are¬†notwithstanding).

So, herein lies my dilemma. You all know I don’t buy into anti-psychiatry ideals and (conspiracy?) theories. Seroquel works. I know I whinge about weight gain and have launched a virtual diatribe against the stuff in this post, but it has truly made my life better. As long as I have my get-over-the-hangover routine, I am fine. Venlafaxine at a high dose has worked wonders – well, quasi-wonders, anyway – in terms of my mood; Quetiapine has probably aided in that too, but the key issue with it is that I am almost entirely without psychosis at the minute, and have been (bar that one episode the other week, as linked to in the previous paragraph) for aaaaaaaaaaages.

But, much as I don’t want to be normal in what seems to be the standard, societally accepted version of the word, I want to be able to do the things I always wanted to do. In other words, I want to work. A career – not a job, a career¬†– was all I ever really wanted. Thus far, mentalism has denied me a career, but has periodically at least allowed me to have jobs, which may have – in another place and time – led to careers. Is being mental now going to rob me of both possibilities? Will I be a dolescum forever? Are part-time workers actually commonly sought by employers? Besides which, why is it fair that A works full-time (fuck knows how he does it) and I don’t?

Bah. I don’t know. It looks to me like I have a choice between relative sanity and full-time work. Please don’t tell me to kick the Seroquel, by the way. It isn’t going to happen, at least not in the short to medium term. I’d rather not live with a bunch of nefarious fucktards telling me to kill myself (or, worse, others); I’d rather not live with Paedo following me about the place; I’d rather not have to make sense of contemptuously vicious peccaries and stupid fucking gnomes randomly¬†harassing¬†me; I’d rather not live convinced that cameras are watching my every bloody move. Waaah waah waah, whinge whinge whinge, ad infinitum.

We could argue the toss about the true roots of psychosis all we might like – Paul of course held (and, presumably, holds) that psychosis is an entirely logical response to severe trauma, and he may well have a point – but I don’t think I’m ever going to go all R D Laing/Robert Whitaker on this. At the risk of being infuriatingly repetitive, Seroquel, for me at least, works. It does exactly what it’s indicated to do. (Or, as I mistyped, tindicated¬†to do. Geddit?!!!?1?!!!?11????!!eleven?!?! It does exactly what it says on the tin? Tindicate? No? Meh. Sorry. Humour ain’t my strong point).

So, sanity or full-time work. Full-time work or sanity. Why is nothing ever simple or easy in this enforced existence that the fabled they (not my¬†‘They’ ;)) smugly refer to as ‘life’? Why do we always have to make choices, to compromise, to ‘make do’?

Am I an immature little brat for being irate that mutual exclusivity exists in this context? (Actually, don’t¬†answer¬†that).

Anyway, enough.

(And yeah, by the way, I have¬†sold out and stuck PayPal begging buttons on some posts and on the sidebar. What can I say? I’m a slave to a capitalist world, a traitor to my fellow benefit claimants, a betrayer of my lefty principles, a self-serving money-whore of evil, a rabiator of [insert hated multi-national¬†conglomerate¬†of your choice here]¬†proportions, a twat, a dick, a __________, a &%$(“($, a…yeah, you get the idea. A few of you also did ask about it, in my defence ;)).


Psychology vs Therapy, and Being Burgled (AGAIN)

It seems I have ignited a mini-debate (very, very mini) in the comments thread of my last post for apparently having been less than complimentary about C in the post pertaining to same (I wasn’t particularly nice about him, granted, but I didn’t think I’d said anything incendiary either). Anyway, this was intended to be a comment, but unsurprisingly it became rather long, and anyway, I have NEWS. So here is a post instead. Lucky you!

Right, it’s like this. I do not hate C (A does; I don’t). When compared to the woeful CBT that I went through, or my experiences of a couple of dreadful assessors and nurses and twatbags I saw prior to him, he was a therapeutic fucking genius. Even A acknowledged on a couple of occasions (most notably this. Perhaps this to some extent too?) that he (C) was obviously intelligent, and even dared to wonder briefly if “he actually [did] know what he [was] talking about”. Believe me, coming from A in relation to C, this is a compliment.

However, if you’ve read this blog for a long time, you’ll know that it wasn’t as simple as that.

Surely the contemptuous tone in which I frequently wrote about him cannot have gone unnoticed? I used to have this pathetic worry in terms of this blog than the only phrase I ever used in my session reviews was “I laughed in his face,” because really, I seemed to write it every other week. When C and I had a good session, I admitted that and indubitably felt smug and self-satisfied about it, which I’m sure came across in the narrative (check out this gushing, for example). When we had a bad one, most of the time I would vituperate against him – but simultaneously I acknowledged the role the transference was playing in my ire.

And this is the crux of everything really; not only did C allow the development of a very strong parental/fraternal transference, he encouraged and fostered it. OK, it was psychodynamic therapy; transference is an issue therein, and that is fine. I understand the process, and I’m OK with the reality that that one has to deal with these feelings. What C abjectly failed to do was do, though, and what is a fundamental imperative in analysis-derived therapy, was to deal with the phenomenon. Therapeutic literature is pretty clear on this issue: a lot can be learned from transferential feelings and behaviour, but the work cannot be considered completed until the issues resultant from this type of work are resolved.

You must surely also recall all the goings-round in circles, the sitting pointlessly looking at each other, saying nothing (which happened with Paul too, to be fair, but those silences seemed to have more ‘contained’ ((in the non-analytical sense)) in them), the constant repetitive remarks from both parties. Feel free to reread the posts if you think I’m mis-representing any of this.

What I only occasionally detailed was how I’d often spend Thursdays (a) in tears – not because of the content of a session, but because of what C had said or how he behaved; (b) waking up from a mini-dissociative fugue as a result of that morning’s therapy; (c) having a bitching session about C with A over coffee; or, most commonly, (d) some combination of all (a) to (c) inclusive.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Paul is a worshipful therapeutic guru to whom you need to bow or I’ll shoot you in the face, but I will tell you that none of that ever happened when he was treating me. Well, that’s a lie – there were occasional tears (this awfulness springs mind), but the disparity between him and C is ably demonstrated by the fact that those tears were almost exclusively because of the content that the appointment had brought up, not because of Paul doing something to hurt me or otherwise fuck me off.

I remember some of the comments I got from my readers when I wrote certain sessions. “Sorry, but ‘C’ stands for ‘cunt’,” stands out. “Just change his name to ‘Fucker’,” was also quite nice. I also had another therapist challenge his competence a couple of times (though in fairness, the said person and I disagree on the various models of therapy). Often I disagreed with everything that was said against him, and in many of the cases I still do. The point I’m making, though, is that my weariness of the man has not been something that new, not something sculpted by my relationship with Paul; there were always concerns there, and I wasn’t the only one to notice them either.

Of course, I was always encouraged by my interactions with him, even where they were negative ones. In a perverse sort of fashion, my willingness to scream abuse into his face was a sort of backhanded compliment; it meant I was comfortable showing my entire self with him (something I’ve still not done with Paul, though I have rarely felt the desire to). However, my optimism was based on my expectation that my treatment with C would last until it had yielded tangible results (and C’s lie in my discharge letter to NewVCB that “mindful breathing ha[d] had some impact” does most assuredly not count as a “tangible result”). And so that optimism was justifiably destroyed.

Someone said on the aforementioned mini-debate that my relationship with C only became toxic when the end of therapy was announced. This I agree with, despite my acknowledgement that the relationship was never properly ideal, and indeed herein lies my point about the hope that I’d formerly held vis a vis my relationship with him. The thing is, although I obviously never expected my time with him to be permanent (surely the point of therapy is to eventually not need therapy any more?!), I was given to believe that I would be treated until I was better – better, as far as I’m concerned, being defined as being functional in the real world (ie. with work, strangers, phones, leaving the house alone, yadda). The literature and even the relevant guidelines from the odious NICE are, again, clear on this. Given that I was at the time diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, the Northern Ireland PD Strategy (essentially a rip-off of NICE’s PD recommendations) also applied. None of this was adhered to.

Partly it wasn’t his fault. Indeed, mainly it wasn’t his fault. It’s the pathetic bureaucracy and evil postcode lottery that is seen so disgustingly frequently across NHS mental health services, piles of shite that they are. C, however, kept alternating between saying “I support your complaint” and then whinging that it actually was he, not Mr Director-Person nor any of his minions, that had decided on the ending point. Granted, C had to take a decision within a certain framework and context, but his position on that decision and on my indignant response to it alternated wildly between Point A and Point Z.

Another issue is that he never seemed to take serious my (in my view entirely legitimate) concerns about how the end of therapy was likely to affect me, psychologically speaking. Reading through my notes has been particularly insightful in this particular regard; for example, each time I used the word re-traumatisation in session, he put the term in scare quotes, as if to suggest that the premature cessation of the therapy could not possibly really result in further trauma. But believe me – it did.

On the point of trauma, when I told him that NewVCB agreed that I had Complex PTSD, C was highly critical of the diagnosis, proclaiming that it was “controversial” (see?! I can do scare quotes too!). Possibly so – it’s not included in either the ICD nor the DSM, after all. However, it is used by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and anyway – Zen Buddhist crusader C had already stated that he was not a slave to “labels”, so surely a less “label”-ly, more personally appropriate diagnosis is superior to that of “a high functioning borderline personality”. Oh, wait a minute. It was…!dun dun dun!…C that described me as having “a high functioning borderline personality”. (Incidentally, he was incorrect. Because I was incapable of functioning in society, my intellect should not have come into his judgement; in reality, I was pretty low functioning at the time. So there).

So. Am I guilty of revisionism? Am I wearing the opposite of rose-tinted glasses (shit-stained glasses, perhaps?)? I don’t particularly think so, though one thing I accept is that now having had the services of a truly excellent therapist, I might be more open to seeing where C was at fault. However, well before I met Paul, I noted on this blog that I was, in fact, “better off without” C. I think what the key difference in my transgression to “meh, screw you” has been is simply not being in a complete thrall to the man any more. I can clearly see where he made dubious judgements, but by the same token I can also acknowledge that he did do some good things for me.

Perhaps I’m being pedantic, but the long and the short of things is simply this. We did some good work, some times. The work with C did, in fairness, gave me some sort of meaningful foundation on which I could later build with a proper trauma therapist like Paul. C is an extremely insightful man, and he’s actually a wonderful psychologist. I’m just not overly convinced that he is a wonderful clinical psychologist¬†[sponsored link] (ie. therapist). I’m not saying that he wasn’t better in that capacity than those I’d seen before, or that he isn’t better than many therapists who dine on a menu of tiresome, generic behavioural techniques. He was, and he is. But then, being hit in the face with a tennis ball would be better for me than any of that.

He’s a nice enough man. I believe that he generally wanted the best for me, and we certainly ‘gelled’ together; there were times of humour and there was usually some rapport. But, other than allow me to trust (and then distrust) him, thus giving me scope for further psychotherapeutic exploration, he didn’t actually do much. He didn’t do much other than hurt me, that is, surely the last thing that should be one’s enduring memory of a competent therapist.

OK, news. Yes. I was sitting minding my own business on Friday afternoon, when the menagerie in the kitchen starting behaving oddly. Mr Cat was so scared of something that he stopped eating his food. This is the domestic-tale equivalent of a super-massive blackhole sucking an entire universe into itself. It simply doesn’t happen more than once in a lifetime.

Ms Cat followed suit. This means that the super-massive blackhole had just sucked in a second entire universe (I’m a proponent of M Theory).

In genuine shock, I staggered to the kitchen. Nothing was out of the ordinary, though there were some weird noises in the back alleyway – something I thought nothing of, really, because there are a few things out the back that someone could have been working on. I went back to the living room and tried to coax the cowardly felines back to their dinner.

They refused to co-operate, which is much more in keeping with their general behaviour. I shrugged, and sat down to read something or other.

Something must have caught my attention out of the corner of my eye because I looked up without thinking, and there – looking in my fucking living room window – was some hoodied spide. Looking in. Talking on his fucking mobile, as if to relay the details of what he could see in my fucking house. He fled as soon as he saw me.

Rather than go after the cunt, I stared out the window in a sort of stupefied apprehension for a minute, then sent a message to A and asked him to come home. Then I went out the back, wondering perhaps if the cacophony that had scared the cats was perhaps connected. Our gate-door into the alley was open, so yeah. A correlation looked likely.

Fucking cunts. We were burgled in 2005 and lost quite a bit of stuff; as a result, and as a pre-requisite of a renewed insurance claim, we installed an expensive but sophisticated alarm system. These cheeky bastards were not only trying to break in despite this, they had the temerity not to check whether or not anyone was in!

Long story short (well, -ish), A came home, we secured things as best we could and eventually went out anyway. You can’t be a prisoner in your own home; we’d have to have gone out sooner or later, so why not make it sooner?

We went out for a bit on Saturday too. All was fine, and I wondered had I perhaps misinterpreted Friday’s events.

Cut to Sunday. A third universe was then destroyed by our friendly super-massive black hole because A and I decided to leave the house. This is almost unprecedented. A and I loathe Sundays so much that we almost always lock ourselves away in the house, trying to pretend that the rest of the world does not exist. This week, though, we decided to go out for a couple of pints and a meal. I think A was even more overwhelmed by Sunday-itis than normal, so yearned to ‘shake things up’ a bit. We left the house about 4.30pm.

At about 6.30pm, my mother called me on my mobile. Had I been in the house, I would almost certainly have ignored her, but something must have compelled me to answer on this occasion. She asked where I was; I told her, and asked why she cared.

“The alarm people called me,” she said. “They’ve been trying to get hold of you. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but there’s a confirmed intruder.”

We got a taxi straight back, and found the cops awaiting our arrival. They were pleasant but useless. A SOC officer came out a bit later, and although he took prints, apparently the quality of them was utter shite. Not that I’d have expected to see the wee shites brought to justice, anyway.

The following was stolen:

  • A’s Mac Mini
  • My iPod
  • Several video games

Mercifully, the cunts had spotted neither the Kindle nor the satnav, and Friday’s occurences had scared me enough into hiding the two laptops. I will always be grateful for that, at least.

Of course, the theft is only a secondary issue. What sucks most about burglary is the breaking and entering element of it. Knowing that someone you didn’t invite has been in your private property. That they have, sometimes intimately, examined your things and made judgements on their material worth without a thought towards sentimental value. Simply that someone stood there, in your home, your safe place, looking.

And this is particularly exacerbated in this case because they had been watching us. They knew I normally left the house on Friday afternoons to meet A (I was running late the other day). Then they knew that we’d uncharacteristically gone out on Sunday. They were watching us.

It almost makes my ongoing sort-of delusion (legitimate belief) that GCHQ read this blog look tame. At least they’re not looking in my window at me (or maybe they are? Perhaps the spide was one of them. He donned a superlative disguise, if so).

Our living room door and the alley door-gate-thing need to be replaced, and frankly – since this is the second time in little over half-a-decade – we intend to move now. That, of course, will incur massive expenses, both in terms of doing our present house up to the extent where it won’t completely require potential buyers/renters to be fumigated afterwards and, of course, as regards getting and furnishing a new place.

All this when I am ¬£950 overdrawn. Our plan had always been to move, but the plan was that this would take place when I was back at work. Now, we’re hoping to make it by the end of this year. I will help A with a new mortgage in whatever way I can, but it won’t be particularly significant until I have substantially more money coming in than I currently do. Still, I’m just grateful that this happened now, when at least I see working again as feasible in the medium-term, rather than, say, six months ago where it was distinctly a future-aspiration.

Practicalities aside, I have obviously been affected by this incident. On Sunday itself, A and I were both…I don’t know, numb with shock? Too confused and fed up to feel? For a while, it even seemed that it had hit A worse than me. My mood has been slowly dipping for about a week now, so I didn’t really notice any reactive change in it after the burglary…until, that is, last night.

A’s step-mother is a friend of a man who’s a very competent DIY maestro. A spoke to him yesterday evening about the replacement of the two doors, as well as improvements to the general look and maintenance of the house, and he is coming round on Friday morning.

A reports him to be “a lovely fella”, but as soon as I heard that I was to be his host, my body went mental at me. Shaking, breathlessness, nausea – you know the drill. Psychologically, my mind went into a spin of utter terror. This is entirely and completely ridiculous. I have met this man before, albeit briefly, and there is nothing to fear. Indeed, after greeting him, I can in all probability loll about upstairs reading A Song of Fire and Ice. But my bloody head won’t listen to its own rationalisations.

However, the worse was to come. In preparation for the DIY bloke, A started tidying the house. Long-term readers may recall how I reacted to similar before. Well, I reacted in the same fashion again. Poor A; as he rightly said, this needed to be done, but here I was – this stupid, childish, pathetic ball of quivering madness. Who in the name of all that is holy has a phobia of fucking tidying up, for fuck’s sake? Furthermore, who has a phobia of tidying up in the wake of a legitimate fear, namely burglary? I shock even myself.

But there’s something there. There are faint, peripheral stabs of familiarity in the fear. As with the last time this happened, I haven’t worked out exactly what they allude to as yet, and perhaps I never will. But it’s a ridiculous, completely impractical disability; I can’t go on living with it.

Every cloud, though. Although I took Zopiclone last night (as both of us had done in the immediate wake of the break-in on Sunday), otherwise I survived the panic attack without drugs. This, I think, is A Good Thing. Moreover, had the burglary happened in February or March when I was completely off my rocker, this set-back – and it is a set-back; I’m just not sure to what extent yet – would almost certainly have seen an express delivery of helium arriving at our door.

But for now, we’re OK. Both of us. We got through the last break-in, in which much more was stolen (though was, in a sense, less disturbing; we didn’t have the ‘protection’ of the alarm then), and we’ll get through this one too. If we do move as planned, the next six months will be some of the most stressful of my life, but I have the support of NewVCB and Christine, Paul again at some point, and – more importantly – my mother, our friends and of course the lovely A himself. I think my prognosis over the aforementioned timeframe is dubious to say the least, but it could certainly be a lot worse.

Christine tomorrow, though unless there’s anything outstandingly amazing about it, I shan’t write about it until another time (if at all). At least she can help deal with the fall-out of the burglary in some fashion…or such is my hope, anyhow.

Also, if you’re about tomorrow, don’t forget that I’m hosting this month’s Blog Carnival of Mental Health. See you there ūüėÄ

Anyway. That was my news. You can go to bed now.

PS. Thank you so much to Counselor Careers for awarding Confessions, in common with several of my favourite mental health journals, a Top 50 Most Inspiring Mental Health Blog award! I still don’t get why this blog is deemed worthy of awards and recognitions, but I do sincerely appreciate that it is. So thank you, very much indeed.

Now, off to bed with you! ūüôā

EDIT (Thursday 30 June): I corrected all the mistakes above, then the computer crashed on me and WordPress apparently failed to take an autosave. I cannot be arsed to go through this tripe again, so you’ll just have to live with the multitude of errors. Sorry.