Thank Christ(ine) for Christine

A lot happened this week, but I have neither the time nor inclination to discuss it in detail. Perhaps next week. In summary: I saw Paul on Tuesday for our first ‘proper’ therapy session of the new stint. A bit of a weird dynamic was present – I babbled relentlessly, flitting from one random tangent to another rather than discussing anything remotely meaningful. Not that he agreed, of course; he opined, as he always does, that anything that runs through my mind (aside, perhaps, from “oh, look, the sun’s out” – though could that be read as an example of avoidance?) is worthy of raising in the therapeutic setting, and can give insights into my psyche. That said, he did admit at the end of the appointment that things had been a bit up in the air (I forget his specific terminology), and said we’d get down to some proper work next week. I await it with interest – but not at all without trepidation.

Last weekend I decided I was going to turn a corner of the kitchen into an office. I don’t think I can do much about it right now, but I think if I have a future, then I ought to have something to aim for – and I’ve decided that this will be professional writing. My dream: to register as a sole trader business, and make at least a part-time income from writing – and no longer have to claim at least some of my welfare benefits (I would like to think I could keep my Disability Living Allowance, on the grounds that the disability remains, but that in having my own workplace I don’t have to engage with general office tradition, which would exacerbate my illnesses). I know I’m capable of professional writing now – or, at least, I know other people think I’m capable, and that matters much more in this arena than my own self-assessments – and I’m building a few contacts. For now, that is all it is – a dream. A few commissions here or there doesn’t really mean much, but I’ve narcissistically (why is that not a word, spellcheck? Incidentally, why is spellcheck not a word when it’s the precise term WordPress uses to refer to this utility?) got it into my head now that I can achieve this if I don’t do myself in any time soon. When I mentioned the proposed office to A, he suggested that instead of setting it up in the kitchen, I actually reconvert our former study – lately, since the advent of The Everythinger, nothing more than a place for dumping stuff we can’t be bothered to sort out.

It seemed more palatable than the kitchen, admittedly: for one, it’s fucking cold in the kitchen no matter how long the heat stays on. Secondly, as I am not wont to be in the former study much, with a bit of re-configuration, it will feel more like an office than part of this house. Currently I do all my work sitting on the sofa with the laptop on my knee – but I do all my fucking about in this fashion too, and ergo it is difficult to associate the environment with work specifically. The study in many ways resembles – or will resemble, when I have it sorted – my office in my last job: small, but with everything necessary to get on with the task at hand. As such, I feel that I can ‘trick’ my brain into thinking that the proposed office will actually be a workspace, rather than a mere spare room.

We ordered a new desk, which arrived on Wednesday. I sat down to it last night and, aside from a few side panels that A had fitted, built the entire thing from scratch. It is (optionally) an ‘L’ shape, and has ample surface area, meaning that aside from the PC and laptop, I’ll have plenty of room to write by hand, consult the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, or study the professional writing course materials I bought several years ago.

All of that, particularly my suggestion about setting my writing projects up as a business, is a long way off – because right now I’m not a professional writer, but a professional mental. I even get paid for it! Though for how much longer?

As you may have gathered from the last couple of posts, things are dreadful. It’s at the point now where people are noticing: when I can no longer maintain a fa√ßade, then I know things are bad. My mother has even realised that the excrement has been liberally sprayed in the general direction of the thermantidote, and that is a tremendously dangerous sign, since I have always attempted to muster every last atom of energy my mind and body possess into convincing her that everything is fine (the reason being that she shouldn’t have to worry about me all the time).

As if things were not bad enough, therefore, when I got up yesterday morning and found an ESA50* form waiting for me, I thought I was literally going to have a heart attack – I hyperventilated so fucking much that I could see no way that my heart could continue to pump blood around my not-insubstantial body.

My ma immediately said, “we’ll take it to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.” Reasonable advice, to be sure, but she’d missed the point; the point was that, re-fucking-gardless of how competent the CAB may have been in the completion of the bloody thing, I would almost certainly still have to attend a medical examination with the fuckwitted social security agency. I know I’ve written in passing about one of my previous exposures to this immense trauma…where?…ah yes, here it is. (*This post also explains a bit about ESA ((which stands for Employment and Support Allowance)) to those of you outside the UK. Basically, it’s a disability/illness benefit – but it has two components that complicate it, which the aforelinked posts discusses). After that experience – and even regardless of it – I genuinely don’t think that I can go through another assessment of this ilk (or of any, come to that). Not any time soon; pipedreams or not, I’m still really ill. I told my mother that if I had to go through such an encounter, that I would end my life.

Fortuitously, I had an appointment with Christine in the early afternoon. Since the hospital in which I see her is close to the CAB, I took the form with me. I went in, sat down, when asked reported that since our last encounter everything was still appalling, uncopably (new word) terrible, and that “the icing on the fucking cake” had just arrived, at which point I pulled the ESA50 out of my handbag.

She shook her head in frustration – “everyone’s getting those bloody things!” – and I repeated my promise that if I was called to a medical I would commit suicide.

Christine said, “I’ll complete it for you. At least that will be a weight off your mind.”

“That would be brilliant, thank you,” I replied, “but won’t they still send for me anyway?”

She told me that she is getting the impression that the Social Securitcunts have been sending out the forms to weed out the few “scroungers” that exist in the system, and also to catch out those with a mild to moderate illness, who they (quite possibly erroneously) perceive as being able to work. She exemplified by telling me about a patient of her’s that has mild, borderline moderate, depression. “She’s been found fit for work,” Christine explained, “but honestly, Pandora, there are things she could do. Not everyone’s in that boat, and in fact most of my patients haven’t even been called to a medical, and these forms have been arriving through their letterboxes since the start of January.”

“Are you saying that you think I won’t have to go to an examination?” I checked.

“I’d make an educated guess that when I’ve finished with this” – she nodded with contempt at the form – “it’s highly unlikely.”

She smiled conspiratorially at me, but I pressed on with my concerns. She wasn’t saying definitively that I’d not have to go to the fucking thing, after all.

Eventually she said, when I had finished yet another monologue of social security-driven angsty misery, that if they did call me to an examination, that she and NewVCB would write to the bastards advising them that I would be unable to attend, as to do so would be “severely and dangerously detrimental to my mental health.”

I stared at my CPN in something akin to wonder. “Really?” I murmured in a small voice laden with disbelief.

“Yes,” she said definitely. “So don’t worry. I’ll deal with this, send it off to them, give you a photocopy at our next appointment – and if an ‘invitation’ letter turns up at your door, contact me, and we’ll make it go away.”

“Thank you,” I almost-sobbed. “Thank you. I really appreciate it.”

Christine dismissed my gratitude – not in an unappreciative way, just in the sense that she was happy to provide the service and information that she had – as part of her job. Then she said, “you’ll be horrified when you read what I’ve written. Try not to be. They need to hear the very worst aspects of your illness; yeah, some people could accuse me of extending the truth, but I don’t think that’s the case. The case is that all of what I am going to write has happened and even though you’re taking measures to control these things, the unfortunate truth is that they also have the potential to happen again…possibly at any point.”

“Why would I be ‘horrified’ that you accurately explained the most severe symptoms of my illnesses?”

She sighed. “The voices tried to get you to kill yourself. They tried to get you to kill your baby cousin. Cameras follow you wherever you go and GCHQ are obsessed by you. You’re endlessly suspicious of people, and are cripplingly anxious when you’re forced to be in any proximity to them. Some days you can’t get out of bed due to overwhelming depression. You have, at times, to be watched to make sure you don’t harm yourself. There will be occasions on which people have to remind you to take your tablets – or even make you do so.”

She paused, flicking through the form, then added that one of the key parts of the mental health section of the ESA50 was about interaction with other human beings. “Given the aforementioned symptoms, that’s not…er…well, it wouldn’t really work for you, would it?” Ah, the sweet scent of diplomacy.

We talked about other stuff. Paul. Writing. Mum’s cancer scare. Rhona’s operation (with which there were no complications but lots of pain followed by a hook-up to morphine, which was removed five days after the procedure and even then caused quite significant withdrawal symptoms). An increase in Lamictal to help me with this current vault of depression (she’s going to discuss this with NewVCB on Monday). The exact nature of how low I felt, not that I could quantify it in words. I was acutely aware that I was acting very differently around her from my norm; regardless of how I’m feeling, I usually witter on and on and on, engaging with her non-verbally too – often it belies the reality of my mental (ill) health, but it seems to come naturally around her anyway. This was completely different. I steadfastly avoided eye contact, one of their favourite observations, and apart from issues surrounding the ESA50, I didn’t speak much at all. In fact, to my abject horror and disgust, at one point I believed I looked like I was close to tears. I didn’t cry, thank fuck – I can’t imagine the shame that would have been wedded to that – but I suspect that Christine thought I was on the verge of it.

Anyway, she was brilliant. My current episode continues, and no doubt will not abate for quite a while – either more Lamictal will help, or the vileness of the low will end itself in some sort of cyclical fashion, or I’ll off myself before any improvement manifests. But for now, what would have been one of the most serious stressors this year – as if there have not been enough already – has been removed from my responsibility. I didn’t thank her enough, because I can’t thank her enough.

The only downside to her brilliance is that it makes me even more sad and distressed that thanks to non-sensical bureaucratic bullshit I may well lose her. Good mental health professionals like her, ones that actually seem to care about you, are sadly uncommon ūüė¶

I’m in a rush so haven’t proof-read this, for which my apologies are due to you. Please forgive the probable multitude of errors of grammar, punctuation and spelling in the foregoing. Thanks x

Cancer, Crohn's and Crappy Days

Someone please write Saturday’s TWIM for me (thanks to the lovely sanabituranima for writing this week’s TNIM at short notice). My head is too mushed to even think about This Week in Mentalists at the minute – it’s not just that I can’t face writing it myself; even approaching potential authors is a task pathetically beyond me right now. So please volunteer. Ta.

Firstly, may I refer you to the rant at the start of this post. I had written up a shitload of this entry, then went to look for some links to add into it, only to return to find that the WordPress iPad application had crashed in the interim. Granted, I should have learnt my fucking lesson the last time this happened and saved the thing frequently – but really. What is it with the device that hates my blogging self so? FUCK YOU, STUPID APPS.

With that out of the way…OK. Now. Me. Not dead. Well, not dead in the biological sense, but certainly without any form of the life-emitting spirit that I believe less cunty individuals refer to as the ‘soul’ (an amorphous concept to my mind, but then nothing much makes sense to me). Writing is not something to come easily to me right now, so Maisie’s funeral saga will have to continue to wait. Thank fuck I have no professional deadlines at the minute. So, in brief…

Monday

My mother had an appointment at the cuntspital where Maisie drew her last breaths. She had been recalled, rather urgently I’d add, to the dump after a recent mammogram, the implicit suggestion being that something untoward had been found.

Naturally, as if I have not been mental enough over the last week or two, this sent me completely round the bend with worry. I lay awake all night on Sunday night/Monday morning dilemminating about it, wondering what I could possibly do to maintain even the vaguest semblance of sanity – possibly of life – if Mum had cancer and died.

This panicked frenzy of morbid thoughts was not aided by something that I heard about over the weekend. About 10 days ago (from today) one of Mum’s closest friends, Lucy, had been taken into (the same) hospital after being unable to breathe. Her breathlessness was caused by a large lump in her throat, which her genius GP – on several occasions – had perceived to be an “infection”, for which he kept throwing her anti-biotic scripts.

Upon her hospital admission, predictably enough, the lump was found to be cancerous.

Despite the GP’s incompetence, though, the medical staff thought that they’d probably got it in time. They stabilised her breathing through her neck, and undertook further biopsies on the lump to see whether they would favour chemo- or radiotherapy as treatment. There was no, “we’re sorry, but you only have x weeks/months”. Despite being unable to speak, Lucy was apparently in cheerful spirits, passing convivial notes of communication to her husband Andy and other assorted family members. This was on Wednesday or Thursday of last week.

My mother contacted me on Saturday to advise that Lucy had died in the early hours of Friday morning.

Another death. Thanks, 2012, you’re really loving everyone in the Pandorian plane, aren’t you? Now, in all honesty, I was never close to Lucy, and my mother and her had, in recent years, not been the good mates they once were – but overall, for quite a while, she’d probably have been Mum’s second best friend. So whilst I wasn’t upset for my own reasons, I was for those of my mother. First her sister, now her friend. Who fucking next?

And of course, Lucy’s passing only served to reinforce my concerns about my mother’s breast screening. I tried to rationalise it. I tried to weigh up statistics and likelihoods of x and y in my mind. I tried “positive thinking”. Unsurprisingly, none of this did anything whatsoever to assuage my concerns – if anything, it only worsened them.

After the appointment time had long elapsed, I voluntarily rang my mother. Yes. I chose to use the phone; that was my level of concern. To my abject horror, she didn’t answer either her mobile nor her landline. I started catastrophising that she’d been admitted right away, due to the severity of whatever had been found.

As time passed with further no-replies, my apprehension turned into a full-blown mentalist panic. Should I ring the cuntspital? Should I go to it? Should I just kill myself now – why wait to hear that the fuckers accidentally killed her whilst she was in a scan or something?

Ridiculous, but real. When I finally saw her name jump up on my mobile, I was stunned and relieved (though still paranoid – “it’s one of the nurses or doctors using her phone to tell me that she’s dead”). As I answered it, however, I feigned nonchalance. My mother worries about me being worried.

This is what happened, as I reported on Twitter:

Mum has a mass in her left breast, spotted from a comparison of her recent mammogram and the one prior to it. They performed three more mammograms and an ultrasound. Apparently the mass spread out under pressure – which they claim it probably would not have done were it malignant – and the ultrasound was clear. So they are “happy enough”. It’s a relief…”

Yay! Great news! Surely that was the end to my panicked worry?

Not quite:

It’s a relief, but the tests were at the shithole hospital where Maisie and half the rest of the country die(d), so I can’t settle despite them giving what Mum described as “the all clear”. Paranoia, I know. Should just be grateful and relieved. I am, obviously, but catastrophising was/is always my default setting. Just hope that she really is OK.

I mean, there was a mass. Is an ultrasound and a mammogram sufficient to tell what that mass’s true nature is? I’m no oncologist – maybe it is. But the fact that they didn’t give her a biopsy or any such tests keeps my nervousness from abating entirely.

When I logged off from Twitter, I was suddenly overcome with a great sadness, as well as the severe depression and anxiety I’d already been experiencing. And I started to fucking cry again, sitting alone on my sofa. Pathetic. But then I remembered that the cameras were there and I dried the fuck out of my eyes and sat there pretending to be normal. Which was a fail, it seems, because A was struck by how palpably black the house felt when he got home from work that evening.

Tuesday

Up early to get Srto Gato to the vets for his neutering operation. Went back to bed upon return to the house and spent most of the day there. Dozed in a haze of non-sleep drowsiness for a bit, spent most of the time staring at the wall as the seconds languorously ticked by. Vets sent a message about 2pm to tell me to collect the cat about 5pm. Blocked number then called, but naturally enough I ignored it. For once, though, the caller left a voice message.

Turned out that, in the wake of our re-assessment sessions, it was Paul offering me “ongoing counselling” from Tuesday 28th February. He asked me to call the office to confirm whether or not this was suitable. I duly contacted Nice Lady That Works for Nexus and advised that this was fine.

But it’s not fine. I mean, I am glad to be going back – ultimately, psychotherapy with Paul was an enriching and helpful experience – but I’m dreading it too. Through no fault of his, working with him fucked me up on several occasions in the past. It’s the inevitable, gruesome nature of trauma therapy. And whilst it is, in the long-term, important that all the trauma and related issues are thrashed out, in the short-term it makes for a very difficult mindset. So. I don’t mind admitting it for once. I’m scared.

Went to get the cat, and forced myself to stop at the shop. Bought pancake ingredients and made A and myself two batches that evening. I’ve no idea how I managed to fight teh m3nt@Lz for long enough to be able to have done this, but whatever the case, I’m glad of it, and count my pancake-making as a win.

Wednesday

Mother phones. “Rhona McFaul is in hospital,” she tells me. “They’re doing her operation tomorrow.”

I mentioned briefly towards the end of this post that Rhona was being admitted, and that her husband was worried that said admission would be to the cuntspital where Maisie died. Unfortunately, that is exactly where she ended up.

Worry about Rhona. She is one of the McFauls that I like. The operation – to help relieve her very severe form of Crohn’s disease – is major. They were cutting out her entire large bowel, sewing up her rectum and attaching a colostomy bag to her stomach. Poor cow.

Go to mother’s house, as per weekly convention. Manage to maintain an utterly deceitful fa√ßade of pseudo-sanity to stop mother worrying about me. Mother asks if I will go with her to cuntspital to see Rhona before she is taken away to the gas chambers goes through the operation on Thursday morning. Agree.

Go to cuntspital. Wave after depressing wave of oppression and misery emanates from every atom of its building. Force self to carry on to Rhona’s ward. Ward is even worse.

Rhona and family – just her, her husband and their two children – are in surprisingly cheerful form. Rhona is having a blood transfusion and being forced to take ridiculously strong and foul tasting laxatives. Do not envy her one bit.

Why am I writing this in the present tense? This happened on Wednesday. This is Friday.

So, I didn’t envy Rhona at all, but was encouraged by the positivity she seemed to be demonstrating. We didn’t stay with them that long – it was only right to let her have her last time before the thing with her immediate family – but wished her well and told her daughter, Student, to keep in touch the next day to advise on how the operation had gone.

We returned to my mother’s, and I continued to exhaust myself with the maintenance of my “sane” fa√ßade until bedtime.

Thursday

At 3.30am I decided that I was evil and should ergo ingest about 60 Zopiclone. This was a moment of sheer idiocy, as I know full well that that sort of Zopiclone OD is unlikely to be fatal (to me, that is. I am not for one second suggesting that it is in any way not dangerous for others). Got up to get Zopiclone, to find that I only had three of the fucking little shits. It didn’t seem worth it, so I took one for sleeping purposes and abandoned my plans.

The rest of the day was uneventful, except for my mother’s worry at several points about not having heard from Student. When we eventually did learn how things had gone – quite late in the day, perhaps about 4pm – it turned out that the delay had been caused by Rhona being in severe pain straight after the procedure, meaning that she had to have an epidural and stay in the recovery ward for much longer than expected. Other than that, though, the operation apparently went well and there were no complications.

That didn’t stop my mother’s neuroticism, however – yes, I know, I know, I’m one to talk – instead, her need to worry fixated upon me instead.

“You know, Rhona might not have had to have such a huge operation if something had been done about her Crohn’s a lot earlier,” she said, reasonably enough.

“I know,” I replied, “it’s a fucking disgrace.”

“Yes,” Mum said, in that expectant tone she uses when there’s something more she wants to say, but she’s unsure as to whether or not she should actually say it.

I waited.

“You should really go back to Lovely GP,” she complained eventually. I asked why.

“Your IBS has gotten ridiculous. You can barely keep anything even down, and when you do, off you have to go, straight to the toilet.” This is true. So much so that I’m genuinely mystified as to why the fuck I’m still so fat.

“But Lovely GP and his colleagues have already told me that there’s nothing they can do about it,” I reminded my mother.

“Fuck that,” she said defiantly. “What if you have what Rhona has? They originally told her that she had IBS. It was only when she insisted that they examine her more closely that they found out she had Crohn’s – and now they’ve removed her bowel, and she’ll have to use that horrible bag thing for the rest of her life. Just in case, go and see him and ask for a referral. Please. Hopefully it’s not Crohn’s, but if it is, then the sooner they find that out the better.”

I think I’m as likely to have Crohn’s disease as I am to be sanctified by Benedict XVI, but I made the appointment, if only to put her mind at rest. Things are really bad IBS-wise, but nothing has helped – medication, removal of x and y and sodding z from my diet, eating the fuck out of fibre-rich products. Nothing changes it. There is nothing Lovely GP can do, save for referring me to a specialist. And then I’ll go through the trauma of having a fucking camera shoved up my arse to find that – surprise surprise – there’s nothing they can do, but have I tried a nice bath before bed?

Still. If it calms my mother, then good.

Friday

Sitting in bed typing this. Consider the following as a scale of depression: zero is when you are awake but so full of blackness that you can’t move and might as well be comatose. Five is hide under the duvets. 10 is being able to comb your hair or something. That means that something like 100 is feeling OK. I think right now I’m at about six. This is actually good, because the rest of the week was generally hovering at zero/one, with occasional threes or fours.

I don’t entertain the notion that I’m coming out of the depression, mind you (though obviously I’d welcome it greatly if I were). I still feel fucking awful, and although I’m not going to off myself (despite the Zopiclone wobble), I keep seeing helium, bodies flying off buildings, the usual cal, floating nefariously in front of my eyes like Macbeth’s dagger. But I’ve survived this long, so don’t worry.

(Can’t be arsed to proof-read this, sorry).

CPN Appointment

***Possible Self-Harm Triggers, Blah Blah Blah***

Saw Christine on Thursday afternoon for the first time late December. Explained all that had happened in the first few months of 2012 and how things are very, very shit. She seemed to be of the view that this is a depressive episode more generally, because of the self-harm in which I engaged before Maisie’s death (she views it as serious because I was trying to dig out the veins in my hands, and seeing if I could sever the tendons in my wrists. When I shrugged it off, she said, “you do realise that this isn’t…normal, don’t you?” I said that I didn’t know). All that has happened, of course, has not exactly helped me claw my way back up the slippery slope I’m currently navigating.

She was horrified to hear that, as I spoke, Paedo was sitting in my mother’s living room. I explained that the reason for his presence was my mother and the McFauls’ over-compensatory just because the matriarch is dead doesn’t mean we’re not still family!¬†routine. Christine opined that this must have been very difficult for me. I said that I didn’t care, but I don’t think she believed me.

Complained about either losing her or losing NewVCB; went on a rant (well, insofar as I was able to speak) about how much the health service has failed me in the past, and just as it had started to get things right, it was cunting them up again. I must have looked particularly distressed at some juncture because she appeared to think I was about to burst into tears – “that’s really¬†hit you hard, Pan,” she said, adding that the entire CMHT is furious about the changes – at which point I said that I do not do¬†tears and that even when I’m sitting alone in the house and feel the ‘need’ to cry, I do not permit myself to engage in said activity because someone will be watching me through the¬†clandestine¬†cameras that follow me about.

Naturally, this remark piqued her interest, and she asked if I really believed it, or if it’s just a feeling. I said that I knew it was ridiculous – “maybe they were right when they diagnosed me with a personality disorder, it’s just that they got the specifics wrong; it’s not borderline, it’s narcissistic” – but that I believed it nevertheless. Cue the usual questions about voices and visions, of which I was able to truthfully say there are none.

Either way, she was extremely concerned about my levels of depression. I laughed (if one can call such a hollow, cynical sound ‘laughter’) and said that this was nothing. I know how bad it gets, and this isn’t it – even though it’s heading distinctly in that direction, and has been for weeks. Christine said that in a sense this was good – might I be able to ‘get it in time’, she wondered, if I wasn’t yet at rock bottom? ¬†I shook my head. “By the time it’s got to this stage, it’s still gone too far to prevent it from getting to its worst. It creeps up on you so slowly and insidiously that when you get to ‘now’ – the realisation you’re spirally into the abyss – it’s virtually written in stone that the very worst of depressions will be upon you anon. Like a fixed variable in space-time.”

She kept asking me over and over again if I could “guarantee [my] safety”. I kept trying to make non-committal responses, but she wouldn’t let it drop. Eventually I said something along the lines of expecting to be alive at the time of our next appointment. She accepted that, but added that she wasn’t just¬†concerned about my trying to top myself; she was also worried that I’d engage in more self-harm, and this time actually succeed in doing myself some proper damage. I stated that I couldn’t guarantee¬†I wouldn’t do anything of that nature, but that I thought it was highly unlikely. As I told her, you need at least some mental vigour to engage in self-injury, and with each passing day I have less and less of such commodities available. Depression sucks out your very soul.

Christine nodded, but kept prattling on that my safety was the most important thing. Meh. Fuck my safety. Don’t fuck my safety. I don’t care either way. I was just glad that she let me leave without a shiteist¬†crisis team assessment.

She wants me back in two weeks rather than the usual month. In the meantime, I am to contact her urgently if things get notably worse or if I’m running helium cannisters through price-comparison websites again. I said, “I know you always say I can contact you, but can I actually¬†do so? Do you mean it?”

She seemed surprised by the question, and emphatically told me without breaking eye contact (which was odd, because I’d spent the entire appointment trying to avoiding looking at her – mental health professionals love it when you don’t engage in eye contact; it’s always splattered over your notes) that of course¬†she meant it, that she wouldn’t have offered it had she not, and indeed that she wanted¬†me to contact her if things get worse. ‘Get worse’ is a stupid phrase in context – of course¬†things will ‘get worse’. But I think she means ‘really¬†bad’.

I might take her up on it, assuming I can get out of bed.

End of terrible post, and of pathetic pity-party. Can’t be bothered to proof-read, for which you have my apologies. Love to all. xxx

Day of Ridiculous Paranoia and Panic

OK. I privatised two posts, but am feeling a little calmer – and therefore less paranoid – so have decided to post them here in summary, and with a brief update.

Post One: Night Terror

Published c. 1.30pm. Hidden c. 2pm.

I’m going to publish this utter rubbish, but don’t be surprised if it quickly disappears or gains a password…

  • 11.30pm: Go to bed. After a number of nights of insomnia, for once can’t keep eyes open to concentrate on book. Sleep.
  • 4am: Waken. Completely. Dick around with phone for a minute or two. Become bored. Pick up Kindle and see that this morning’s¬†Guardian¬†has already been delivered. Read it.
  • 4.30am: In an effort not to wake A, keep trying not to laugh at Rupert Murdoch’s deserved and long-time-coming misfortune.¬†Grauniad¬†has devoted thousands of words and an entire section to this.
  • 4.35am: Complete Rupert Murdoch section of¬†Grauniad. Go to next section. Do not pass ‘go’, do not collect ¬£200.
  • 4.35am and 10 seconds: Freak out. Picture of GCHQ building in Cheltenham is staring back at me from Kindle screen.
  • 4.36am – c. 4.39am: Read GCHQ piece with growing trepidation. Article is actually about whether GCHQ, MIs 5 and 6 should face greater scrutiny from MPs and peers.
  • 4.39am and 30 seconds: Start having heart palpitations. GCHQ is complaining they do not have enough “internet specialists”. Try to rationalise that this means they’re¬†not¬†watching me; according to this article, they simply don’t have the manpower. Fail to thus rationalise. That this is in the media means they’ll soon have more relevant workers to spy on me.
  • 4.41am: Hide under bedclothes, convinced that the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee have kicked this story off as they’ve found out that GCHQ are after me and need more people to keep tabs on me. Further convince self that ISC has put out this story to lull me into a false sense of security.
  • 4.42am – c. 5.00am: Scour bedroom with eyes, trying to find evidence of government (or, indeed, any other) cameras. Do not find any.
  • 5am: Get up and go into bathroom to try to pull self together. Find disgusting and fairly unique-looking spider in the bath. Freak out even more. Scared of spiders anyway, but this is shaped oddly; it has a long, elongated body, rather than a round one. Could spider actually be a tiny hidden camera?
  • 5.01am: Spider doesn’t seem to be a camera because fucker is clearly alive. Surprise myself by having ability to stand there watching it slowly circle towards, and eventually into and down, the plughole – rather than the more common practice of screaming the house down.
  • 5.03am: Return to bed. Spend what must be nearly an hour arguing with myself about GCHQ.¬†I¬†say I’m paranoid and narcissistic. Story about GCHQ is just a normal politics scoop about the funding and accountability of government agencies.¬†Someone, however, laughs scornfully, and tells me I’m doomed. Cannot work out whether this is ‘me’ being irrational and completely self-obsessed, or if it’s someone ‘else’. Not reminiscent of ‘They‘, Tom, peccaries, gnomes¬†or Paedo. Is female. Probably just me countering myself. Not sure.
  • c. 6am: Suddenly don’t care whether GCHQ are watching or not. Stick two fingers up to room around me and without speaking advise GCHQ, if they’re there, that I am just going to go about daily life anyway. Pick up Kindle again, deliberately ignore rest of¬†Grauniad, read book instead.
  • c. 7am: Suddenly pass out into deep sleep.
  • c. 8.20am: Re-awaken. Converse with A, only giving fleeting thought to cameras/GCHQ.
  • c. 8.30am to present: Get up, eat, do some stupid puzzles to wake mind up, wonder why I became so terrified during the night, accuse self of narcissism, don’t believe GCHQ have cameras watching me (at least not to crippling extent of the early hours). Debate whether or not to discuss this with Christine tomorrow. Do not want to change medication or end up in bin.

    Conclude incident in the night was mere paranoia without logical basis precipitated by FuckBitch Aunt of Evil’s presence, and my uncertainty about her intended movements. Decide this is some bizarre, psychotic form of transference. Am transferring AoE’s unpredictability and sheer fucking nosiness about me onto GCHQ, because I know GCHQ technically¬†can¬†(though probably don’t) read/listen to/see me/my stuff. Very unlikely that AoE has the requisite surveillance knowledge or equipment to do so.

    Decide, therefore, that episode was a one-off, mainly caused by AoE but also partly catalysed by sleep deprivation. My sleep patterns – or insomnia patterns – go in cycles. This is period of the latter. Am reminded that I named this blog what I did for a reason. Mood is still OK, so a brief bout of evil/insomnia-induced mentalness can’t be¬†that¬†bad…right?

    Given the above, decide to hide information from Christine. Don’t need bin nor stronger anti-psychotics. Need AoE to go away (which she will on Tuesday, yay!) and Zopiclone (of which I have plenty).

So. Yay. Good. All is fine. I only wrote this for posterity, not because I’m concerned. Sorry for the crap writing, but it’s partly due to (a) the stream of consciousness bullshit that I wrote ‘live’ on my phone as events progressed and (b) I can’t be arsed switching on the laptop or PC, so am still writing this from via the iOS WordPress application.

I’ll try and catch on more therapy reviews next week. For now, it seems this bollocks is my only blogging contribution this week. Probably a good thing if I’m being this narcissistic ūüėČ

Post Two: I Am Actually Going Mad

Written c. 3.30pm. Not published.

This is new. I cannot recall paranoia on this level. I am absolutely petrified, to the point where I’m shaking, hiding in a corner and throwing up.

Worries:

  1. Mother is dead;
  2. Aunt of Evil is going to come here and confront me;
  3. GCHQ;
  4. Burglars, rapists, GBHers and murderers;
  5. Debt – creditors are going to put me in prison;
  6. A will also die on the way home from work;
  7. But I can’t go out in the car to collect him or see if mother is OK because I will have an accident;
  8. Stupid decision to publish last post because if the people discussed therein find it, then they will bin me;
  9. Christine tomorrow in case she bins me because all of a sudden I’m really,¬†really¬†not sane.

Tried trich to calm down. Didn’t work. I don’t want to cut but I’m scared, I need some sort of release. I am going to try Valium, but that won’t stop my current persecution complex; it’ll only numb my response to it. I thought that maybe splurging out shit here would be cathartic but it only fuels my perception that everyone is out to get me.

I keep hearing noises outside and am convinced that it’s someone coming to get me. It’s not. It’s people going about their bloody business. But is it though?

Oh God.

I’ve turned up the TV so as I don’t hear them but my concern there is that then they¬†know¬†that I’m in here and if I don’t let them in by legitimate means then they will get in by other methods.

What has happened? I was so fucking well for a while there and no one was out to get me. Now I’m not and they are (well, I retain some insight that says they’re¬†not, but I can’t believe it). It feels like a psychotic mixed episode. I don’t want this. Why has it happened?

I hope my previous assertion that this has been induced by insomnia was correct but I don’t believe that right now.

My IBS is out of control today so I might not even be able to run away should I need to do so. Not that I do, I know. But yet I might. Fuck, I don’t know.

Don’t know what else to say. This is not good. I’m such a fucking idiot.

Now

  • Mother is not dead. I stupidly advised her that I was mental, but luckily she hasn’t shot over here to see if she can make me saner, because I assured her that A would be home soon.
  • No one has tried to force entry.
  • AoE is staying with my mother, and is therefore not (nor has been) here.
  • A could¬†be dead, but I seriously doubt it.
  • GCHQ have no interest in me. Why do I keep thinking that they do? If they happen to come across any of this, I bet they’re laughing their bollocks off.
  • I am not particularly behind in paying my creditors. A little, but not enough to be of major concern yet. I’ve already considered bankruptcy if it comes to that.
  • I could¬†be murdered, raped, GBHed or burgled, but hopefully the statistics are presently in my favour. I mean, two of those have happened several times already; could I really be that statistically unlucky?
  • There are no voices but my own.
  • IBS continues, but that’s a several-times-daily thing that I should not have taken out of context.
  • I am mortified about all of this but am going to publish this post as a warning to myself.
  • I am very grateful for the support afforded to me on Twitter today. Thank you.
  • I am fine now. Please don’t worry about me 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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Missing a Dose of Venlafaxine, and Inevitable Post-Consultant Blah

When I first started writing this blog nearly two years ago, I was – as the title suggests – plagued by almost continuous insomnia. It is a truly dreadful affliction, but it’s surprising how much the human body and, to a lesser extent, the mind, learn to adapt to it. I remember when I was still at work, about three years ago maybe; I would lie awake all night, often for a number of respective daily cycles, getting a maximum of ten minutes’ sleep if I was lucky – and then I’d get up early, frustrated, and be in the office before 8am. Very often I stayed until after 6pm, sometimes without a lunch hour or even a tea break. It fucked with my head undoubtedly, but I still managed to undertake the duties of my position competently and courteously.

However, since I was prescribed Seroquel*¬†last January, sleep has been much less elusive, to the point where I partly regret naming the blog what I did – though it’s established under this moniker, so I have no intention of changing it. Seroquel does tend to lose its soporific effects over time, but as my dose has increased on several occasions, I’ve been more immune to that than many that take it. I’m presently taking 600mg daily, and have been since October-ish. It’s a pretty hefty dose by UK standards, and so far although I often have difficulty in falling asleep, I usually get there eventually. The trade-off for both the management of psychosis and getting some rest is that one has a horrible, drowsy drug-induced hangover the next day, but it’s a balance I’m prepared to accept.

[* Please note that I use the terms Seroquel and Effexor¬†interchangeably¬†with Quetiapine and Venlafaxine in this post. For some reason, I’ve got into the habit of calling the former by its brand name, despite more typically using the generic medication terms, as I do with the latter in this case.]

So when, on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I was still wide awake at 3am, I was puzzled. I was at my mother’s house, and mused briefly on whether it was being out of my normal bed, but I dismissed this fairly quickly as I usually stay with her one night a week, and am therefore not exactly unfamiliar with the sleeping quarters to which I am allocated.

Then it dawned on me: I had forgotten to take my medication.

I was beyond furious with myself. After¬†this bizarre incident last year, I know what missing both Venlafaxine and Quetiapine means, and it is not fucking good. I mean, on that particular day I ended up quite hypomanic, but it wasn’t all so pleasant; I have this gruesome memory of lying in a toilet cubicle in Newcastle, shaking my tits off, struggling to breathe, alternating between hot and cold flushes, desperately trying to throw up and being so consumed by ‘head-zaps’ and dizziness that I thought I might die. Even though I thought I was already dead. So yeah. I’ve had better times.

At about 6am I got up, still not having slept, and took the Venlafaxine. I decided to omit the Quetiapine in case its sedative properties caused me to end up passing out, especially as I knew I had to see NewVCB at 9.30am.

I sat with a coffee and watched the sun rise. As I did,¬†it began to start. I could have blamed it ‘merely’ on insomnia at first, but as time wore on, it became clear that¬†it was to do with missing the tablets. Not for the first nor last time that day, I cursed my idiocy in forgetting to take the damn things.

At 8.30am, I went to my mother’s room, where fortunately she lay awake. I explained that I was mental and did not feel in enough control of myself to be able to drive to the hospital, and asked if she would take me. She agreed and duly arose.

All the time¬†it was getting progressively worse. I nearly fell over with the¬†unquantifiable¬†dizziness at one point¬†and several times I was surprised that I didn’t faint. I was shivering. I was hypervigilant, jumping out of my own skin at even the most subtle noises. I was restless and agitated.¬†Suspicious¬†and ‘zappy’. Nauseated and sore.

By the time we got to the hospital I could hardly stand. In fact, when NewVCB came to get me from the waiting room, I had to drag myself along the wall all the way as I followed her to her office (getting a few looks as I went – but what do they expect? It’s a psychiatric service for God’s sake!). As I sat down, I just went completelybluegh at her. “I’m fine, really I’m fine – just not today. I forgot the tablets last night, and I’m going out of my mind.”

She swung into action, telling me how to manage having missed the stuff. Apparently I was to go home and take 150mg straight away (I neglected to mention that I had already taken the full 300mg. For some reason, I am still scared of doing something even remotely opposed to her advice, even though I know that she’s nice). Then I was to take a Diazpeam or two, as required, before taking the second 150mg as usual. I was not to take any of the Seroquel until the normal time.

As the minutes passed, I was feeling worse and worse. I hadn’t noticed I was clawing constantly and fervently at my skin until NewVCB pointed it out to me. She said she was reminded of a man she’d see a few years ago who’d been stable when she’d last seen him, but was literally clawing off his face the next time she met him. He had missed three doses of Venlafaxine.

She asked about the symptoms I was experiencing, and I told her it was beyond description. She asked me to try anyway, so I did. I said I felt like I was being attacked from the inside. My muscles felt as if they were on fire; I needed to pace or hop about to mitigate this, but as soon as I tried to my head was overwrought with dizziness and I felt faint. I said that I was incredibly cold one second, but sweating my arse off the next. I tried to describe the head-zaps but couldn’t – the best I could do was to say that it felt like a million¬†minuscule¬†guns were shooting something toxic into my brain, from inside my brain. I tingled. I shook. I was agitated. I felt sick. In terms of mentalism, I was paranoid and filled with a feeling of unspecific dread. Reading that back, and remembering what yesterday was actually ¬†like, it actually reminds me a good bit of akathasia. How odd that one can feel that as a side-effect of not taking a drug…as well as a side effect of taking said drug! (It’s normally seen as a side-effect to anti-psychotics, but has apparently been observed in some that take Venlafaxine).

“It’s the Effexor, not the Seroquel,” NewVCB said, certainty lacing her tone. I have just¬†checked it out, and indeed I must have seemed like a textbook case to her yesterday. I had almost every symptom of it in remarkable abundance. She reiterated the need to go home and “straight away” take half of the missed dose. Since I’d already taken the full dose, albeit 10 hours too fucking late, I hoped that this would indeed lead to a reduction fairly quickly¬†in the horror story that I was living through. It took its time as it turned out, but I’ll come to that.

NewVCB said she realised that given the circumstances it would be difficult to discuss the general state of things, but I’m generally OK at seeing what some arsehole manager somewhere would call ‘the bigger picture’, so despite my physical discomfort, I instigated a conversation with her on how matters had been since our previous meeting.

Firstly, given her intention to ultimately increase my dosage of Venlafaxine to 375mg daily (God forbid I ever miss a dose of¬†that), I have been ‘invited’ (yeah, it’s going to be such a laugh, isn’t it? RSVPiss off) for an ECG on Wednesday 13th April. Other than that, I didn’t really have much on which to update her – other than that matters with Paul are due to come to (a hopefully temporary) end in less than six weeks.

I told her that luckily Paul had advised me that I could simply return to Nexus a few months after last seeing him, and that he would intend to simply pick up my file when my second application had gone through the system. “However,” I said, “that means – I don’t know – eight, ten weeks with no therapist, so I was wondering if I could continue to see Christine during that time? I know we’d both intended for her intervention to be pretty short-term, but I really think it would be helpful to have some support during those months.”

NewVCB was nodding her head¬†vigorously. “Yes, absolutely,” she assured me. “I’ll talk to her about that this week.”

She paused, then continued by telling me that she wanted Christine to discuss practical matters with me. The term ‘practical matters’ reignited a subtle fear somewhere in my mind – it always reminds me of those types of therapy that I utterly despise, such as C- and DBT. However, NewVCB surely knows me better than that; she would know that I cannot abide anything that I even vaguely perceive as patronising, and to that end, I (hope that) I can trust her not to make the ‘practical matters’ with Christine to be some wank of this ilk.

She asked me how things had been with Paul in general, and I advised that I thought the work had been very productive overall. I tried to explain what we’d been doing but it’s hard to put it into succinct terms, so I ended up saying that he was basically trying to convince me that everything that’s happened wasn’t my fault.

“Despite working for who he does, though, he doesn’t just focus on sex abuse, which is good,” I said. “Certainly, that is a big issue, but it isn’t the only one.”

“And that’s part of the reason why 26 weeks is often enough for Nexus clients,” she opined. “You get a lot of people there that have maybe one or two incidents of abuse, or have much fewer defensive mechanisms or complex issues than you, and so in a relatively short period you’ll often find that they can resolve many of their difficulties. Unfortunately that’s not the case with you – but then, as they’re essentially a self-referral organisation, it means that as Paul says, you can return.

“How have the last few weeks been with him?” she continued.

“Introspective,” I replied. “I don’t think it’s been useless, but I’ve found myself sitting there in silence a lot, thinking about things rather than verbalising them.”

“Do you think you shut down when you know there’s an ending coming?”

It did sound that way, certainly. However, unless it’s very unconscious, it hasn’t been the reason for my recent long silences – all that has happened is that a lot of strong shit has been brought into the room, and I’ve been sitting there experiencing it, rather than talking about it. I’ll try and write about these sessions shortly.

“At an unconscious level, maybe a bit,” I ventured, finally. “However, I don’t think that’s really the case. I still expect the next six weeks with Paul to be productive, unlike the last six months with C were.”

To my amazement, she said, “therapy on the NHS can be pretty questionable.”

Obviously I know this, but I did not expect a consultant psychiatrist to say it to a patient’s face. I cocked my head in query at her.

“Well, you know…” she shrugged. “Finances,¬†bureaucracy, targets. Sometimes voluntary and private sector organisations provide a much better service.” She laughed lightly. “You of all people know what we’re like..!”

Still clawing away at myself, I managed to laugh a little myself. Oh yes, NewVCB. I know what you’re like alright. Except that I don’t like including ‘you’ in my general derisive view, because you’re alright. It’s the sprawling mass of red tape and management-speak bollocks that you’re part of that I hate.

She went on to question me on things more generally. Mood? Awful at the time, thanks to the Venlafaxine withdrawal, but overall actually fairly reasonable. Anxious and stressed at times, but not completely pre-occupied with bringing about my own demise nor unable to get out of bed. Trying to live a little, rather than just hanging on to mere survival by a thin thread of second-by-second-ness.

Voices? Nothing much. Whispers occasionally, but no real commands and comparably little hassle. Delusions? It’s not a delusion but GCHQ and related organisations are still reading my blog, Twitter and Facebook messages. Why is it not a delusional? Because I know people who are involved in such agencies and am aware that they do this. But do they actively do it to you? Yes. Well, does it stop you from writing what you want to write? No, I stick to fingers up at their unseen faces and think, ‘if you don’t like it, you can sod off’.

She laughed. “OK. I think that you’re maybe reading a little too much into their motives, if they have any, but it doesn’t seem to be bothering you unduly.”

“Not really.” Pause. “Seroquel really is a wonderful drug, you know.”

“It certainly seems to have worked for you.”

“Paul’s not a believer in the medical model. He thinks mental illnesses are social issues. I don’t agree; medication has been instrumental in making me feel a bit better.”

She shrugged. “Whatever works is what’s important. Medication, therapy, no medication, no therapy, whatever. A combination of both seems to have made a real difference in your case.”

At this point, she turned and looked me straight in the eye. “Compared to the girl I met here last January,” she said, “you’re almost a different person. I know progress is slow, but take it from me – it’s evident. There will be times when things are bad again – it’s the nature of the beast – but overall, I really think you’re moving forward.”

I found myself smiling slightly, and I agreed. “I don’t know whether it’s a combination of the therapy and the drugs, or just the latter,” I told her, “but one way or another, I think things have improved, yes.”

There was little remaining to be said. Yet again, she advised me to go off and dose up on my missed dose. I apologised for “being stupid enough to forget it,” but she said that it happens to everyone from time to time, and that at least it might encourage me not to do it again! As I was walking out the door, she said – surprising me again – “bye, Pandora, it was nice to see you.”

NewVCB has generally been a pleasant and helpful woman to work with, but she’s never before actually given me any compliments, however vague that one may have been. It was a weird but nonetheless appreciated gesture.

Not that my body cared. I stumbled back to where I’d come from to collect my waiting mother, then went into a spin of dizziness and fell out the front door. Fortunately, the rail for wheelchair users prevented me falling flat on the concrete and splitting my face into 22 pieces.

The journey from the hospital to my mother’s house is a short one, but the motion of the car sent my withdrawal symptoms out of control. When we got back to the house I retched several times (being unsuccessful in my attempts to vomit, given that I had a completely empty stomach), then stood at the back door smoking and jumping about in an attempt to curb the physical agitation. Apparently I was also babbling endlessly on about some stupid nonsense with barely a pause for breath; I remember a little of that, but not a lot. My mother, who was going to the doctor’s surgery to have her monthly blood checks, decided that she had better take me with her. Originally she had instructed me to return to bed after seeing NewVCB, but upon seeing me so mental, she decided that it wasn’t a good idea to leave me alone.

I went with her without complaint, but it just got worse and worse. I didn’t go into the surgery, as I feared that if one of the GPs came out and saw me, they’d see how mad I was and try to bin me (realistically, I know now that that was highly unlikely, but it’s still a good thing I didn’t go in as I’m fairly sure I could have upset other patients with my evident insanity. I was even fucking drooling by this stage.). I sat in the car, audibly moaning from time to time, dissociating in some places, being miserable in all.

When my mother returned, she offered to take me home again, but I demurred. I didn’t want to stay out, but I didn’t want to go home either. I didn’t want anything. I didn’t even want the paradisical escape of unconsciousness – just nothing. I know that makes absolutely no sense at all, but there aren’t words to describe what I’m discussing (or if there are, they – like so many wonderful concepts – are foreign terms that are not at all easily translatable to English). I only existed in the moment, and anything beyond it was out of reach.

My mother had to go to the bloody golf club, so I accompanied her. I was scared of running into some of the pretentious fuckwits that permeate the place, thus mortifying my mother, but fortunately she has a tendency to hide in deserted offices when there anyway. I sat. I tilted my head to the left, I tilted it to the right. I stood and paced a bit. I sat again. I stretched. I moaned. I spaced out. I shook. I flushed. I sweated. I froze. I stood. Sat. Moved. Wiggled my fingers and toes, stretched my leg muscles. I banged my head off the wall once in an attempt to stop the ‘zaps’. My mother asked me to desist. I did. I sat. I felt my eyes dart from left to right. Up and down. I scrunched up my face and shook my head speedily. I clawed at myself. I punched my muscles. I bit my lip.

And so on and so on and so on.

However, towards the end of my mother’s tenure behind the golf club computer, it subsided a little. Encouraged, I dared to look at my iPhone; I’ve got quite into geocaching recently (assuming someone’s with me, obviously, as I can still hardly go outside alone) and wondered were there any caches in the near¬†vicinity. As it turned out, there was one right across the road. I said so to my mother, prompting her to ask if I wanted to look for it. Had it not been across the road, given my fucked-up state¬†there was no way I’d have bothered, but I figured since I was already there…

The fresh air seemed to have some positive impact upon my condition – or maybe the medicine was simply starting to makes its mark by that point, who knows. In the end, I was able to have lunch with my mother in the town, although I picked through a lot of it.

The hot/cold flushes remained with me all day. I wrapped myself in a blanket on the sofa, but the next minute I’d throw it off again. Only to pull it back 10 seconds later. The zapping significantly reduced as time went on, but didn’t go away entirely – the same was true of the agitation and akathasia-like restlessness. I didn’t have to get up/sit down every five minutes, but I would have to alternate between lying down and sitting up. Overall, although I felt better than I had, the afternoon and evening were still quite wretched; however, I determined that I would stick things out and go to bed at 11pm, a fairly normal time, rather than oversleep.

I did so, and passed out within minutes – with one of the most peaceful night’s slumber I’ve had in ages (though not before I found a fucking packet of fucking Zopiclone sitting on the fucking bedside table that I had failed to fucking spot the previous fucking evening. In a furious rage at the sod’s law involved I threw them at the wall, but upon getting into bed I was able to roll my eyes a little and see the humourous side of this frustrating turn of events). I suppose I had been awake without a single second’s interruption for about 40 hours, so a good sleep was deserved.

When I woke up today, I was still exhausted – but I felt half-human again. Thank Christ. Of course, being half-human leads to half-human thoughts, or at least the thoughts of a half-human who’s a mental anyway. I mulled over NewVCB’s positive words about my mental health progress, and started panicking that this meant that she was imminently planning to discharge me. Here we go again: rationally, I doubt that this is likely, but since it’s actually physically possible, I am now convinced it’s going to happen.

Rather than sit and obsess about this all day, though, I let my tiredness consume me, and went back to sleep. Having been unable to drive yesterday due to being mad, I finally came back to A’s this evening, where I was distracted firstly by taking him out for a coffee and, secondly, by writing this post.

Both last night and tonight, as soon as my phone alarm went off, I dutifully whipped the pillbox out of my bag and knocked the fucking tablets back right away. I have no intention of letting yesterday’s awfulness happen ever again.

I’m tired again now, and have written over 3,700 words for a post that could have been done in 10% of that. So I shall bid you good evening, lovely people. For those of you that do – keep taking your tablets! x

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Sinking

Last week, I wrote about how – according to external depression measuring scales – I am apparently very severely depressed. You may recall that I was somewhat surprised at this. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I look back from my current perspective and see that I should have realised long before last week that I have been sinking. I’ve fallen back into a pattern that I should have recognised after all these years – one of apathy, exhaustion, insomnia, anhedonia and agoraphobia. But depression – true, severe, clinical depression – is insidious, and it’s not until you reach a real low, mood-wise, that you really recognise that it was creeping up on you all along.

I don’t think I’ve reached the lowest ebb yet either, but at least I now know that I’m falling. Sinking. Drowning in a sea of overwhelming blackness and doom. I still struggle with finding the words to describe depression, for the word itself is such a small one that does little except to underplay and delude. I suppose an attempt to grasp the situation would go something like this. Bear in mind this is nothing more than an attempt, mind you, because I really, seriously doubt that this kind of incredible unhappiness can ever be entirely quantified.

Nothing else exists but me. Yes, that’s inverted narcissism, but that’s the nature of the beast in my experience. There is only me, here in this murky, deep¬†swathe of bleakness and utter hopelessness. I’ve described it before as being like a treacle; if you try to pull yourself out, you can’t – you are stuck fast in this adhesive blackness. Because no one else really exists, I don’t want to see anyone else. They’d only be out to get me anyway. I mean, someone’s always watching me anyway, and in this stand of mind, I’m at my most vulnerable. They’d be able to take advantage of that if I left the house. I just want to lie in this evil treacle-quicksand thing and submit and acquiesce to it. Let it win. Let me not exist. The thought of continuing existence is an¬†enormity¬†to big to even consider. How can one even dream of walking this road of indescribable despair and nothingness for any more than a few seconds into the¬†immediate¬†future? It’s just inconceivable.

I keep wanting to break down and cry, which as you know is not particularly in my nature. As the previous paragraph denotes, I don’t want to continue living. I doubt I’ll try to do myself in, even though I’d love to – I simply don’t have the energy to properly plan the execution (pun intended) of my preferred bus-catching method, never mind actually go through with it. My mind and body are both crippled, utterly paralysed to the point where I can literally hardly move at times. On the occasions on which I can, I keep stuffing my emetically obese face with anything I can lay my gruesome, fetid hands on. I know it’s comfort eating, but who cares – I am vile, disgusting, fat bitch.

I keep trying to think of words for this state of being, and all I can come up with is the overly prosaic wank of the last-but-one paragraph. Bleak. Dark. Hopeless. Black. Doom. Futureless. Blah blah blah.

All I know for sure is that right now I want to sleep forever. Nothing more, and nothing less. I don’t want to play this silly game of life where we keep coming back to this plummeting abyss, or something akin to it.

I don’t know why I’m even writing this bollocks because it has no form or reason. I have loads of more substantive stuff to write but I can’t bring myself to engage with that material at the minute. I can’t take pleasure in writing right now, and even if I could, I (a) can’t fucking concentrate for more than a few minutes (this short post has taken me hours) and (b) I don’t have the energy to do any of it. My will has been taken from me by this fucking disease.

For now, my friends, hasta luego.