I didn’t have to wait long at all after I last posted for further symptoms to develop. Manic symptoms. Neurological symptoms. Some might argue with the ‘neurological’ description for a mental illness. But when you develop the short-term memory of an advanced stage Alzheimer’s patient, the attention span of a toddler, and irritability so pathological it hurts (feels like you’ve been coated in oil, rolled in sand, rubbed down with a towel, and then someone sprays lemon juice all over you.) virtually overnight, it feels neurological.
I am in hospital, waiting for this monster to decide. Which way will it go? Mania and worse, or depression and worse. Yes, it gets worse than both of those. Mania can tip into psychosis. Depression can turn catatonic. At least it can for me. We are nowhere near either…yet. But it can happen within hours. I’ve learnt from bitter, repeated experience… and if it does, this will be the last you’ll hear from me for a while.
But right now, I am just caught in deep, deep water.
I love a big city get away. The energy, architecture, great food, art galleries, the zingy mix of languages, the cultural melting pot. But there are down sides: the crowds, high prices, and the sharp, sharp contrast between those who have and those who haven’t a roof over their heads. On a recent trip to Sydney, I was reminded of living in London years ago. I became desensitised to the homeless dotting the pavement because they were just part of my daily landscape. But that was before…
As we enter the pointy end of the year my trusty, hard copy 2017 diary is filling up. There are end of year everythings to go to. There are kids’ concerts. There are art shows and celebrations of learning. There are special assemblies and swimming carnivals. There is keeping a spotless house…WHAT THE? Oops I seem to have slipped into someone else’s list because that one never makes it onto mine. But it’s an easy mistake to make – the straying into someone else’s list of ‘Shoulds’. There are extra work shifts, and continuing education seminars. There are more invitations for catch ups with friends, family, acquaintances, work colleagues. There is of course Christmas – no longer quietly creeping up, but everywhere we look, reminding us to worship. At the altar of consumerism. Impending Christmas shouts that we should put reindeer antlers on our cars and see people we might not otherwise choose to spend time with.
To anyone who is having suicidal thoughts or ideations, please call Lifeline (13 11 14) or your primary mental health care provider NOW. We need to keep you alive until you get better.
To anyone who is currently mentally unwell (but not suicidal) – conserve your energy for getting better, and return to this article when you are recovering or better. To everyone else – read on…
Kirsty Alley is right. Psychiatric medications cause aggression and suicide…
I probably would have added a ‘some’ in front of psychiatric medications and a ‘can’ in front of ‘cause’. And I draw the line at blaming all shooting homicides in the US on psychiatric medications, but it is true that some psychiatric medications cause psychiatric side effects. For a harrowing account of how psychiatric care can go horribly wrong one need only read Rebekah Beddoe’s memoir Dying For A Cure.
Psychiatric care done right is complex and unfortunately not always easy to access.
So I wake up one morning in a room with nothing in it but a bed and bars on the window, and I spend the day trying desperately to explain my way out of that room with no success. By the following morning the anti-psychotic medication has started to work and I realise I was wrong. These past days my reality has been completely different to the truth. There are no mirrors, so I can’t see what I look like. But I know I can’t possibly feel like this and still look like me. So, I ask my husband to take a picture of me so that I can see what it looks like to be this sick.