The last October snowfall in London was in 1934 so I celebrated with my camera, a cigarette, a can and a complete stranger

Which probably indicates something apocalyptic about climate change but I don’t care.

I’ve just had one of those lovely experiences that makes me grateful for both life and London.  I have a big smile on my face.

Firstly, I should say that thanks to your incredible generosity (see a previous post for what was going on), I paid my bills (two yesterday, two on Friday) and had enough left over to pay half (one half being Rob’s) of a second hand camera.  That felt a bit cheeky but it was £verylittlemoney.  I felt like I’d lost a limb when I lost my camera.  Well, a finger, maybe.  So thank you from the bottom of my granite pebble heart for helping me out. Things are settled and back on an even keel now.  My bills being sorted is such a load off my mind, I had really been panicking over it and eyeing up things to sell (my body, for example.  A packet of crisps and a some cigarettes, in all likelihood.  But I like crisps.  It’s a fair trade).  I was going to post that yesterday but wasn’t sure how to crowbar it in between zombies and Kerry Katona. Thank you too for understanding how uncomfortable it was for me to make that post and being very tactful. And everyone seems to love Dead Set, even amongst my contrary circle of friends I have yet to see a bad word about it.

Secondly, sorry for yet another off topic post.  After an extremely traumatic fortnight, I’ve really needed a break from the intensely analytical mentalist posts.   I have a lot to talk about on Thursday (The Reckoning, oh dear), so it’ll be back to business as usual.  I’m sure that you’ve, er, missed the posts about mental illness?  It must be dull…not reading about it?  Really, what’s the etiquette for mental health blogs?  When people feel better and spend their days flicking through books rather than streaking down the street in their flimsy underwear, do they apologise for it?  It’s a tricky medium.

It’s bitter winter here now, and I’d had my thick drapes shut all day, warming my hands on cigarettes and strong cups of tea.  Then Rob called, telling me it was snowing.  I opened my curtains, and there it was, fat flakes storming to the ground.  When it snows in London, due to the heat of pollution, it’s just farty, feathery little scraps that dissolve as soon as they touch solids.  But this was proper snow.

I threw my coat on, without any socks, pulled my hood up and tore downstairs with my camera swinging around my neck.  I live on the Holloway Road, possibly one of the least picturesque locations in London, but it was beautiful, the snow was swirling around the street lights and I must have looked slightly odd standing in the street, laughing my head off, with my arms outstretched at 10.30pm.  The insurance with actually being mad is that you never mind if someone stares at you, you’re used to it. People were shuffling by clutching umbrellas, and then a man wrapped in a tartan scarf walked past, spotted me and gave this great, big beaming smile, and we looked at each other and laughed with pleasure.  I love the fact that snow brings the child out in some people.  (I know that at twenty three I am technically a foetus.  I find new nubs of flesh every day). Some people sneer at it, but fuck ’em.

While I was snapping and giggling, a blonde girl appeared and commented on the brilliance of the rare London snow.  I’d never seen or met her before, but it turns out that she’s my neighbour and lives next door to me.  We chatted for a minute, introduced ourselves and then made the snap decision that we should go to Highbury Park.

We were both fagless, since we’d just leapt out of our flats in the spur of the moment (and the streets were pretty dead), so she ran indoors and grabbed some cigarettes, then reappeared with gloves for me (my hands looked like cuts of meat) and some cans of booze.  Then off we went, smoking our fags and swigging our beer, looking like tramps.

It was still snowing by the time we got there, and looked beautiful.  Highbury Park runs incognito behind the main road into Finsbury Park.  It’s lined with expensive looking houses that belong in a Richard Curtis film and black Victorian streetlamps.  The snow had settled on the grass and cars and a few footprints muddied the white asphalt.  Our hands were frozen as we clutched our beers but only one other person was around and we were alone the haze, and the park was untouched.  Only the heads of the blades of grass peeked out The snow had started to lessen and sleet, so we would be the only people to see it like this, carpetted and lovely.

I wrote my name on a car windscreen (childhood habits haven’t left me; I also valiantly attempted a three line cock) expecting the alarm to go off and for us to end up sprinting and sliding home.  It was so quiet, and everyone had their curtains shut.

We were freezing so had to turn back onto the main road with cars slooshing by.  It was a drizzle by then, with people hurrying home.  We had a victory cigarette, wiping wet hair out of our eyes.  By the time we reached our doors, it has almost stopped.  We said cheerio and hurried inside.

I’m glad I ran outside and played in the snow before it disappeared. It’ll be gone in an hour, and it might not snow again all winter.  And what a lovely way to meet your neighbours.  It’s made me really happy, even though I’m freezing and I’m using the cats as slippers.

Here’s some blurry, excitable, shaking hand photos.

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Dead Set / Pitchforks out for Kerry Katona

As I write, I’m listening to Gnossienne No. 1 by Erik Satie. I’m very fond of Satie, who is an incredibly imaginative writer, as well as a wonderful composer. However, the room appears to have shrank and, try as I might, I can’t seem to squeak out a crumb of humour as it’s playing, which is a disservice to the man himself.  My mind has been clouded over with Royal Dalton.  There’s something about classical piano pieces that render the listener hypnotically earnest. I couldn’t fathom a having a dinner party while this kind of music was on in the background. I’d imagine that even those not from England would lapse into affected Sloaneyisms. They’d voice opinions that they don’t even have on modern art, and I’d be stood there, out of my depth, wondering if its impolite to chain smoke in my own flat, ashamed of my Northern Irish accent that makes everything I say sound like a threat. I can’t ever say the word “knee” in any context because people stiffen and ask, “Did you say you were going to do my knees?” Jesus, of course not. I have family members to do that for me.

(I couldn’t have a dinner party anyway, unless everyone wanted to sit on the floor picking cat fur off their trousers and drinking warm Londis wine from an ancient cracked mug that was sprouting pale green downy fur).

Ah, Pulp! Much better.  

Yesterday, Rob, myself and my rather fetching facial herpes toddled down to Piccadilly Circus to attend the premiere of Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set. Some people had come dressed as zombies but I had no desire to relive the four days of utter discomfort in which I was so saturated in fake blood that I had to use a jack to prise my legs apart every time I got a spare second for a wee. I hung around in the foyer with my head in a trough of popcorn, occasionally having, “Oh, that’s her” moments when my eyesight wasn’t obscured by hot butter.

Dead Set is a short horror series starting tonight on E4 (watch it or I’ll burn your family) and gorily climaxing on Halloween. I had my reservations about it; the setup consists of the end of the world with what may be the last survivors battling for their lives in the Big Brother house. There’s the plucky runner, the bastard producer and the hapless housemates whom we hate on sight but then eventually grow to care for, or at least not break into rapturous applause when they’re ripped in half.

It could have been a compendium of amusing verb-noun swearing (“You fucknut! You complete shitbasket!”) self consciously signposted with clunky satirical swipes. As it stands, though, I’m surprised that E4- home of American exports like Desperate Housewives and uselessly frothy list shows- agreed to make it. It starts off as sharp commentary on the underbelly of television and then descends into brutal, kinetic gore. It’s relentless, tense, hopeless and genuinely horrible. With the occasional amusing verb-noun swearing. It also featured newsreader Krisnan Guru Murphy, who seems to be my generation’s Patrick Allen.

What always irks me about zombie films is that they never use the word zombie. If you’re setting a zombie film in 2008, then your characters would know what a zombie is. The skipping around it with “the undead”, the “living dead” and, “Oh fuck, it’s THEM!” is lost on me. Likewise, Dead Set followed the 28 Days Later school of shaky camera work, which is distracting and irritating because you can’t actually see what the hell is going on. Maybe that’s the point, but a few times last night I was confused when zombies poured in from nowhere and became a blur of blue skin and bad teeth while I struggled to grasp who, if anyone, they were eviscerating.

I really enjoyed Dead Set, if enjoyed is the right word for leaving the cinema checking the irises of people’s eyes. Oh, and if you want to see me in it, just look for a flash of pink hair at the end.  It was also a testament to the power of television.  I hadn’t had a fried egg sandwich in six years.  I’ve had two today.

After the premiere, we stopped by the aftershow party to sample its free bar. Through the glaze of wine I had more of those, “Oh, it’s her” moments. I haven’t watched a series of Big Brother in five years but I still recognise the housemates as most of them spent a while plastered on the front cover of Heat magazine. I strolled up to a few of them to say hello and they were all obscenely friendly and sweet, even though next to their blonde, designer litheness I felt like a full stop, given that I was dressed particularly badly at the time. I met Andy Nyman, who I admire an awful lot, since I’m a fan of triangle headed modern day witch Derren Brown. He’s about five foot five tall and I was quite grateful to drape myself across his shoulder for a photograph, feeling like I’d stumbled into the land of My People, those without thirty yards of legs separating their oxygen starved heads from the ground. I said hello again to the make up girls, the director and Charlie Brooker, and was quite flattered that they all remembered me, even though it was hard not to since I was sporting a pink mohawk and my breasts had been determinedly wriggling out of my dress all day.  They were also effusive and lovely.  I said hello to Kevin Eldon, too, who I can’t look at without imagining in a nappy (not a weird sexual fetish of mine, just something from The Day Today).  I don’t get star struck and generally speak to everyone in the same way but I was a little by Kevin Eldon.

Saturday was a good evening, too, being the first of two days in which I found myself pleasantly tipsy. I’ve actually been in a good mood throughout the weekend. Yesterday before going out I watched “Boy A”, in which a former child killer tries to rebuild his life, and cried my eyes out. It’s one of those dramas where you find yourself pounding your fists against the screen howling, “WHY? YOU COULD HAVE BEEN ALRIGHT!” and your neighbours ring the bell and ask if everything’s “okay”, and then you fall into their arms mumbling something about bridges. In my actual day to day life, I rarely cry, even if I’m very depressed. I’m one of those depressives who gets the classic “flat affect” rather than bawling. When I’m depressed, I look like this:

and my vocabulary extends to grunting and gesticulating. But sad songs and films make me cry like a twat. Even not sad ones. I cried when I watched Ratatouille. Something about a cartoon rat not being accepted by humans, I don’t know. It’s a METAPHOR isn’t it. Likewise, I laugh when I really shouldn’t. At my grandad’s funeral, the priest was straight out of Father Ted, dully intoning something or other about god. He occasionally hiccuped and kept referring to my grandad as “she” and I burst out laughing. When we were given the body of Christ (a wafer thin mint), it got stuck to the roof of my mouth and I was uselessly trying to prise it off with my tongue. It finally dislodged and fell into my hand with a tiny wet slap, so I had to shove it back in a swallow it. Regurgitating the body of Christ like a mother bird. Then I performed the trick that all Catholics forced to sit through endless masses in their childhoods know about; bow your head as though you’re overwhelmed with piousness and laugh into your lap. If people behind you see your shoulders shaking, they’ll assume that you’re so overcome with love that you can’t control your emotions.

You can’t do that in America, though. When I was there on an exchange trip, rather than pretending to pray on my own, they made me hold their hands in the air and stand up so I felt like we were in the Wicker Man and that the alter was going to split open like Predator’s mouth and reveal a giant wicker Jesus. Aged twelve and precocious, I had written an exasperated note to myself in the bedroom talking about how I didn’t believe in god anyway, and I had told them as much. They found it and subjected me to an angry tearful lecture. Ah, happy memories.

In today’s non-news, Twatty Britain has been dusting off its pitchforks and driving themselves into a judgmental (quite literally, in this case) frenzy over a TV appearance by Kerry Katona. She’s a singer and reality TV star that appeared on a magazine show called “This Morning”. It’s broadcast at about 10.30 after the Jeremy Kyle show so is therefore watched by those who like the sensation of being repeatedly punched in the face.

Kerry has manic depression and is being treated for it. This was the appearance:

To me, it’s immediately clear that she’s still under the influence of medication. She takes an antipsychotic (which are taken at night time) and got to bed late. It’s early in the morning and of course she’s still going to be doped up. I am exactly the same at that time since I also take an antipsychotic. In my past job, they thought I was an alcoholic as I’d arrive at 9am and still be slurring my words. You have to take that type of medication really early if you want to function in the morning.

Kerry even responds to the presenter’s tactless questioning by naming the medication she’s taking. And yet, even with this, she’s being lynched over here, being called a drug addict, alcoholic slut and bad mother. The video is on Youtube in different guises and each one contains a ream of astonishingly ill-informed, abusive crap. Here she tries to speak out and says that people are prejudiced against those with bipolar disorder, which, as we all know, is bloody true (and in every sense; we can’t do jury service and those of us with the severe form of the illness can’t adopt or foster or work within certain places like British defence organisations). And yet the article is still rollseyes. Even the more rational people who accept her explanation are saying that bipolar disorder isn’t an “excuse”.

I don’t have much affection for her given that she’s a vapid, frozen food hawking popstrel with the voice of a haunted five year old but I feel really sorry for her here and angry on her behalf. People are ignorant, and some of the abuse (like calling her a slut and slag over and over- isn’t it great to be a woman?) is like a bad day out in BBC’s Have Your Say (the internet home of, “Get back to work you fucking scroungers!”) and makes me want to gouge my eyes out.

As her protests aren’t really endearing herself to anyone, I’m expecting a sobbing Jade Goody-esque TV appearance sometime soon in which she apologises for somehing she didn’t do.

Well, I feel a bit daft.

(this post has been edited a million times)

Hello chaps.  Feel I owe you all an explanation.  I am, as you can see, alive.  This account isn’t that reliable because I was totally out of it.  Rob has filled me in a lot of it.

Firstly, thanks for all your comments and concern.  Special thanks to Neil and Laura for keeping everyone updated and Cathy for sending an ambulance and Angel, Ed, Miriam, Rob, Dan, Jo, Francesca and Sarah (for hoover lendage, my floor looks class), and my friends have been amazing, though I do expect that some people will be angry at me, an that’s okay and I totally understand.  I’m back home already.  My blood tests came back clear which surprised me as it was a pretty massive dose. That means no lasting damage although I feel like total crap today!  Four hours elapsed before anyone (well, Rob) found me and I was vomiting an awful lot so I think that helped.

So, this is what happened.

I had been depressed for months and suddenly, I got the energy.

I wrote the previous post completely out of my mind, it wasn’t for attention or for help.  Luckily my friend Francesca read it and updated Rob.  Rob had been planning on going to the pub and I often don’t answer my phone so he would have gone to the pub anyway.  Please understand that this wasn’t an attention thing.  Hence pulling the phone out of the wall.

As you know, I have been really battling intrusive thoughts recently, along the lines of killing myself, mostly with the pills I had in my shoebox.  Like I’ve said, it’s an itch you want to scratch, just to make it stop.

I lost it yesterday.  Completely lost it and I couldn’t bear it anymore; couldn’t bear the voice in my head telling me to die, telling me I wouldn’t die if I took the pills, I’d be fine, but die, but take the pills, be fine.

I had handfuls of pills and I took them in quick succession.  I was considering getting some alcohol too but I don’t really like the taste of it and I would have been really out of it.  I didn’t see any of your comments yesterday.

As I said, I took Lamictal.  Most of my Lamictal is 50mg, but there was a lot of 100mg so that was about sixty five pills, or thereabouts, and I took quite a lot more after I wrote the post.  30mg of Risperidone was fifteen, but again I think I took more and the forty Zopiclone was earlier in the day.  To be honest, I’m hazy on the doses because I was in a weird place when I wrote that entry.  The dose was “a lot”. I vomited most of it and am used to Lamictal an Zopiclone so hence my not being dead.  I’ve taken two overdoses in the past but this was the worst.

Pretty much as soon as I wrote the post on my blog I started vomiting, all over the place.  Then I collapsed off my chair, smacked my face on the table and onto the floor, where I vomited some more.  At this point, my eyesight and co-ordination went and I could barely move, and couldn’t see.  I had a few spasms and a mini fit and kept vomiting.  I couldn’t stand up, couldn’t really move at all.  I did try to phone an ambulance (I was really sick and in a lot of pain) but I’ve pulled the phone out of the wall and had turned off my mobile.  My co-ordination was completely gone and I couldn’t see properly, so couldn’t plug the phone in.  I started just hitting numbers, none of which were 999.  I was crawling about but couldn’t stand up.  I started shouting for my mum (who is in Belfast) and I have a slight memory of calling out for my daddy, too, then I think I fell unconscious because it didn’t feel like four hours.

Apparently Neil got through on the phone and I was incoherant and he was shouting at me because I went silent (must have passed out again) and thought I had died.  Then he couldn’t get through so I must have knocked the phone out accidentally.  That must have been traumatic as fuck for him.  I feel awful about it and don’t remember it all (he told me about it).  To be honest, I thought I was dying too.  I hope Brendan’s family don’t find out.

When I came to, I shouted for Rob but he wasn’t here yet.  He had found out from my friend Francesca so he got here quickly after work.  I was curled up on the floor so he thought I was dead and was drifting in and out of awakeness.  I had woken up a few times to vomit and was still vomiting when he got here.  I was out of it so didn’t know what was happening and my clothes and room were covered in sick.

Rob rang an ambulance straight away and was trying to comfort me.  They arrived very quickly but I wasn’t really sure what was going on.  I kept being sick and they took my clothes off (mortifying! they saw me in the buff) and Rob grabbed new clothes for me to wear.  I don’t remember the ambulance journey but I think Rob and the paramedics were jokey to calm me down.  I do remember the blonde woman paramedic asking me why I did it, because I was a “beautiful girl”.  Don’t know why she thought that since I was covered in puke!  I think I was lying down or maybe sitting up so I didn’t choke and I know that they cleaned my face. I remember that she was allergic to cats. When we were going into hospital she said, “This is your fault” (to another paramedic about cats) but I thought that she was referring to me.  They had their sirens on.

I think I was lying down or maybe sitting up so I didn’t choke and I know that they cleaned my face. There were straps on my arm and stomach which I think is why my ribs hurt.  I feel like I’ve been beaten up.  Rob explained to them and the doctors that I had severe manic depression, that I wasn’t thinking straight, that I’d been having intrusive thoughts and that my moods are largely beyond my control.  I’m just sick.  If I wasn’t sick, I wouldn’t have done it. I sometimes don’t take it seriously and make too many jokes and drink when I shouldn’t but I’ve realised it is a life or death thing and I need to get well.  When I’m not experiencing severe mood swings (beyond hypomania, beyond depression) I am not like that, I’m a naturally giggly, enthusiastic person which is why this illness is so devastating to me.  It is the illness, it is not me. Sometimes it takes over and it is terrifying for and for Rob. It doesn’t mean that I don’t do everything I can to get better but I really underestimated how unwell I was.

I don’t remember being admitted but I did get a bed straight away.  I was out of it.  They didn’t pump my stomach because it had been a while since I had taken the pills so they were absorbed by then.  I had a mad craving for a Snickers.  After a few hours they said I could eat but I threw up straight away and had been throwing up since I was admitted.  They took my blood and I was hooked up to a drip thing and blood pressure thing and a heart monitor.

Angel and Ed, two of my friends, came pretty much straight away, but I don’t remember much of Ed being there as I was still out of it.  Angel was brilliant and stayed the whole time, stroking my hair, helping me stand up when I had to (I was very, very dizzy and would have fallen over otherwise) and she stayed with us until two in the morning.

My friends came and visited too.  Again, I’m a bit foggy on the details but was very embarrased, lying in the hospital be feeling like a dick for what I’d done.  I was so grateful, though.  They offered-and did- clean the flat so Rob didn’t have to face it.  It was probably one of the most lovely things anyone has ever done for me, and they did it for Rob, too.  They didn’t go to the pub (kinda ruined their night, there) and they all went as a group, with Sarah lending a hoover.  I guess all my paranoia that people didn’t like me was wrong. Neil and Laura rang too from Belfast.  I’m not sure how people knew I was in the hospital because as far as I know, Rob didn’t tell them.  Today I got a new keyboard and phone because they were a write off from sick.  I’m a bit pissed at the expense!   Could have spent it on new clothes as I ruined my hoodie!  Arf.  Or barf in this case.

The doctors and psychiatrist came.  I am foggy on that, too, but I did bullshit a bit because I was desperate to get out of there.  I had pretty much vomited my body weight but couldn’t keep water down and managed to chuck up outside.

Another psychiatrist had to be called but I saw him much later. I asked Angel to leave the room because I was quite embarrassed.  Rob’s used to my mentals, though.  Again I bullshitted (not really about my mental state. I told him I was seeing someone. I just needed to get out of there) a little bit, especially when it came to food and eating.  I don’t know if you know this but I haven’t been eating properly (lost my appetite due to Effexor) and I have a laxative addiction that replaced vomiting bulimia, which I’m trying to kick (thank god I didn’t, er, evacuate when I was sick). I wasn’t sure what day it was (and wasn’t thinking straight) so I said I was seeing my CPN today when I had actually missed my appointment yesterday).

He said he wasn’t going to admit me to hospital but said that I should be with the Crisis Team and asked Rob to look after me.  I told him that I saw my CPN every week, which is true.

They let me go, although I was unsteady and foggy and also exhausted.  Ed had come back with Rob’s keys and lent us enough money to get a taxi.  We got home, had a fag, had some water and fell asleep.  The place was completely clean, even the bathroom and kitchen.  I nearly cried.  I can’t believe they did for us and put so much effort in, I don’t know how I can repay then.  “Thank you” doesn’t do it justice.

I had a very fitful sleep and Rob didn’t really sleep at all.  I didn’t chuck up again but felt very, very sick and disorientated.  Today I feel a better, have got my balance back and am keeping water and bland food down.  I am still quite foggy, bruised and for some reason, in quite a lot of pain over my body.  Rob is napping on the sofa.

Anyway, this post may sound quite robotic but it’s because I am still a bit out of it.  I’m not sure if I would have survived if I’d drank because I would’ve passed out quickly and probably choked on my vomit.  But vomiting my body weight probably saved me.

Effexor is bad for me.

More than anything, I just feel daft! I feel absolutely fucking awful for what I put them and Rob though.  I’m not sure how to face people but I’ve had overwhelming support and love from my friends and this blog, so really, really thank you so much.  And thank you Anna for dropping fags off! Sorry we weren’t in, had gone get a replacement phone and keyboard.

Anyway, so that’s it.  Hopefully the nausea, dizziness and pain will go away and I’ll be back to my old self again. Rob is with me, so I’m safe.  I have no more extra medication and I’m on weekly prescriptions.

Hilariously, this happened near my two year anniversary of leaving the mental hospital.  I can’t get the bracelet off my wrist, nor find the scissors.  I hope at least posting this on this blog might help people realise the reality of it and not do it themselves.

The crappiest thing about yesterday is that I lost the eBay auction for the camera that broke on me. I miss it so much!  Ah well, I couldn’t afford it anyway.

(rest assured I will be making jokes about this)

My Review of The A-Z Guide To Good Mental Health: You Don’t Have to Be Famous to Have Manic Depression

…and other such delights are available in the new issues of “One in Four” magazine. 

One in Four fights stigma and exclusion by challenging negative images of people with mental health difficulty, dispelling myths and increasing understanding.

Go and look, it’s the Bran Flakes of publishing, full of good stuff!  

For those who cannot be bothered to click the above link (and shame on you), this is what I wrote (the edited version).  

Oh, what I didn’t mention is that it had a foreword by Stephen Fry.  So it has a forward by Stephen Fry.

When I was first diagnosed with manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, my well-meaning psychiatrist adjusted his geography teacher cuffs and penned an extensive reading list that he hoped would help educate me about my condition. I found myself lost in Waterstones, too nervous to ask the shop assistant which book would be most helpful. I skimmed the titles, sidestepping at least five Madnesses ‘, a few Angels and, worst of all, How to Love Someone With Bipolar Disorder , as though people like me were an exotic subspecies who required our cages cleaning out every two days.   There was also the bafflingly titled How to Survive Bipolar Disorder: What You and Your Family Need To Know , a book crying out for a Protect and Survive style television marketing campaign.

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