Hooray, I’m not dead!

Tongue in cheek but …

Happy one year anniversary of me not succeeding in topping myself! And three year anniversary of being diagnosed with the mentals!

Shame, my flat’s a bit of a mess right now.  Maybe I should find some more pills for the sequel and get it cleaned again.

It’s been a very strange year indeed.  Changeable, surprising, painful, joyful, somewhat unproductive and downright fecking weird!   When I don’t feel so delicate, I’ll go into detail.

In 2009 I seem to have mastered the art of forcing myself to carry on living with a glimmer of confidence it might actually be worth it.  I went mental from April-July and didn’t realise how mental (manic, mostly) I’d been until I was chewing my fist off in August and howling, “OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?!”  Swings and WOO-HOO! roundabouts, though.   I went through the heartbreaking end of a relationship with someone hugely important to me that I probably wouldn’t be here without and who I love(d) very much that was complicated with-and partly caused by- madness, which made me (and makes me, and scares me because I don’t want the same thing to happen again, to take people for granted, to make the same mistakes) sad and angry, but survived and coped with it like a “normal” person, i.e crying an awful lot. And began a new relationship with someone who taught me what love was when I was fourteen, which, to be honest, is sometimes very surreal.

I haven’t escaped a year without a fairly severe wobble since my mid-teens, so if I make it to 2010 lesser-scarred (and hopefully not mentally scarring those close to me, like I did this time last year), it’ll be a bit of an achievement.  Self fulfilling prophesies may not be us after all. I do have nightmares sometimes about the events last year.  It was fairly traumatic, but hey ho.  More traumatic for everybody else who saw my boobs that day though.

If I’d expired in my own vomit last year my Radio 4 play would have ended on a bit of a downer.  And I’d never have met Michael Palin.  Did I tell you I met Michael Palin? LOOK I MET MICHAEL PALIN!

That’s him considering the marriage proposal I’d scribbled in the inside of the book.  It was accompanied by a line drawing of my breasts.

Point is, it’s a year on and I don’t feel that way anymore, which I couldn’t imagine back then.

Anyway, hooray for me not being dead!  Cut yourself a slice of cake, but do hide the knife.

Edit: Robert sneaked out in secret and bought me a lovely coffee walnut cake with three candles.  It was bloody delicious and the other half has gone into hiding lest I scoff it down immediately. All a bit silly, but there’s nothing wrong with taking one day a year to go pat yourself on the back with some cake.  Or to let someone else do it for you.

Big old pile of toss

I feel like shite today. How are you?

Is there any debate on this?

I have to rush out to go to a wedding reception so apologies for this post being short and rubbish but quickly, here’s a story on the Daily Mail website about a twenty six year old woman who swallowed anti-freeze and arrived at hospital with a note requesting her wish to die.  Which was honoured.

It has the usual hysterical Daily Mail title of,

What kind of country have we become if doctors and lawyers allow a disturbed young woman to die?

The coroner’s verdict was unequivocal. Dr Alexander Heaton, he said, ‘went over and above what was required of him’ when Kerrie Wooltorton was admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

She had swallowed anti-freeze, but insisted she didn’t want to be saved. In her hand was a note which began: ‘To whom it may concern, if I come into hospital regarding taking an overdose or any attempt on my life, I would like for NO lifesaving treatment to be given.

‘I would appreciate if you could continue to give medicines to help relieve my discomfort, painkillers, oxygen etc. I would hope these wishes will be carried out.’

Kerrie Wooltorton who died at the Norfolk and Norwich University hospital after drinking anti freeze and leaving written instructions not to revive her
Kerrie Wooltorton, pictured with her godson George Miller, died at the Norfolk and Norwich University hospital after drinking anti freeze and leaving written instructions not to revive her

Those wishes were eventually carried out, to the letter – throughout the 37 agonising hours it took for Kerrie to slip away. But, initially, a second opinion about Kerrie’s mental state was sought by Dr Heaton as to what he should do: in other words, should he save this young woman’s life or not?

The medical director of the hospital was contacted. The hospital lawyer was consulted. Then, and only then, was the decision not to treat Kerrie taken, the Greater Norfolk Coroner William Armstrong told me this week.

In other words, as far as Dr Heaton and his colleagues were concerned, all the boxes had been ticked. Legally, anyway.

Had he and his team not respected Kerrie’s wishes, Dr Heaton argued, they could have opened themselves up to charges of assault. That’s the law, apparently – one which, to all intents and purposes, has now resulted in lawyers sitting in judgment on life-and-death cases in A&E departments.

Such cataclysmic developments should give us all cause for concern, and this special investigation into the circumstances surrounding Kerrie’s death will do little to allay the fears of those who believe a culture of ‘medicine by lawyer’ is beginning to prevail.

The case has provoked fears that ‘civilised’ Britain is moving insidiously into an era of euthanasia on demand. All but forgotten, it seems, by those at the centre of this tragedy is the central principle of the Hippocratic oath, which has guided doctors for the past 2,000 years. It is: ‘Never do harm to anyone.’

She requested pain-killing treatment and explained she had called an ambulance because she didn’t want to die at home alone.

The problem here is that she was young and physically healthy and her illness was a mental one.  There is a prevailing attitude that anybody with a mental illness who is suicidal isn’t in their right mind.  In fact, having a mental illness at all- which invariably clouds your judgment (as does pain in the case of terminal illness, but that’s different because death is imminent)- means that their wish to die shouldn’t be respected.  That people are always treated, always eventually saved, will always look back and say, “I’m so glad I didn’t end my life then”.

But that isn’t always the case and sometimes, ending your life is the rational decision you take, not the irrational one.  And as far as someone can demonstrate that they know what they’re doing, then their wishes should be respected.

The Hippocratic Oath is the tenet of practice in modern medicine but medical intervention can just be a sticking plaster prolonging the process of life without any consideration as to which quality of life the person has.  It’s the whole, “sanctity of life” idea, that, “Hey, at least you’re alive!”, without thinking if that life is worth living to that person.  Not everyone would choose life over death.  If they had intervened in this case, Kerrie might have just been on dialysis for the rest of her life, and possibly would have made another suicide attempt.

I know it’s all well and good saying, “might have been”, by the way. Likewise, you could argue she might have been okay, might have been happy. But she wanted to die, the doctors honoured her wishes and they shouldn’t be attacked for it as harbingers of moral doom.  It is far more respectful to actually give a thought to the individual person’s desires than to just treat them with the vague, hypothetical, “first do no harm”. And I think it’s everyone’s right to end their own life if they want.  It is their life, after all.

Anyway, excuse the lack of proper intelligent commentary here but I mostly just wanted to bring this story to your attention- what do you think?  Should the doctors have intervened and tried to save her life?  Should suicidal people be allowed to die if you can’t prove that they’re in their “right mind”?

Workshy scroungers redux

Hypomania is calming down. I am a little bit disappointed by the relative quietness in my head. This typing sounds like thunderclaps.

Anyway, hooray for the Conservatives, the new-New Labour.  First we find out that DLA is in danger and now they want to cut incapacity benefits and boot people onto JSA, which is already a criminally low amount of money.   Given the idiosyncratic and very-much-geared-at-physical-illness criteria for ESA in deciding who’s “fit for work”, let’s enjoy our final few months hating ourselves for being too mental to hold down a full time job so we can hate ourselves for being even poorer.

The Conservatives say they would pay for their £600m plan to “get Britain working” by cutting the incapacity benefit bill.

People on employment support allowance who are deemed fit to work would be put on the jobseeker’s allowance, reducing their benefits by £25 a week.

All incapacity benefit claimants would be assessed to see if they could work.

Robert noticed my worried face as I read this story and said, “It’s ages away and anyway, it won’t be for people like you, who have real illnesses and have the doctors and nurses helping you”, but it is for people like me, and for people like you, not just the famed, “dodgy backs” of Britain.  (Speaking of which, as I write this, I have a completely buggered neck I can barely move.  GIVE ME MONEY).  It’s not the first time someone has said, “Ah, but YOU deserve it”.  They can only say that because they know me well enough to know and see first hand how severely my illness affects my life.  I’m still judged unfit to work by the DWP but I’ll eventually be assessed and probably booted onto JSA.  I can walk, after all.  And people who do bullshit, like a certain someone I know who does the double (works and claims benefits) and who faked a panic attack at an assessment, should be pulled (and in her case, kicked up the hole although there are many people who are in such poverty that they claim benefits for the much-needed extra income, which is seemingly never addressed).  But the process for judging who is and who isn’t “deserving” isn’t just a medical one, it’s becoming a moral and social one.  The system is hugely flawed.  Have a read of the Benefits and Work forum to see actual examples of the judged “dodgy backs” who find themselves utterly fucked because of it.

I am aspiring to be in part time work by mid-next year.  Nobody, including myself, believes me well enough for it yet,  but I try to routinely do something (even if it’s just writing something by a deadline) to test myself and to keep busy.  I am meeting the therapist for an assessment on the 22nd so that might help, too.  But it’s besides the point.  There is a sour attitude towards people who are ill in Britain right now.  I feel like human flotsam, guilty for every single penny I spend, even though I worked and paid my taxes since I was seventeen.  Just force people into shitty, badly paid jobs and cut benefits to the point where there’s no financial gain to be had on them. I don’t even have the energy or the impetus to write about it.  “Benefit reform” by both Labour and the Conservatives have long since ceased to pretend to be humanitarian.

(P.S:  I should say that I am embarrassed to be writing this as I know some people reading will be thinking, “Get to work! There’s nothing wrong with  you!  You can type this, you have a life!”  which is a little internal prejudice against myself I hold also because my problems are mental and I am often ashamed of them.  Which I think says quite a lot about what “real” illness allegedly is

Lydia just pointed out how much she hates the, “what do you do?” question from people.  Ah, yes, me too).

Dos and Don’ts was nominated for a Mind Mental Health Media Award. Hooray!

Cheers, MHM!

Leading mental health charity Mind today announces the shortlist for this year’s Mental Health Media Awards, sponsored by Comic Relief and Shift.Terry Pratchett, Fiona Phillips and Alastair Campbell are among those competing for the full length television documentary prize, and the BBC and Channel 4 go head to head in many of the categories, with top rated soaps Eastenders and Hollyoaks battling it out for the soaps and continuing TV drama award.

This is the first year the prestigious event, which celebrates the best portrayals of mental distress and reporting of mental health in broadcast media, will be managed by Mind following its merger with Mental Health Media earlier this year.

Radio Drama

  • (BBC Radio 4)
  • Dos and Don’ts for the Mentally Interesting
    Uplifting factual drama based on 23-year old Seaneen Molloy’s acclaimed blog about learning to live – and love – with bipolar disorder.


I am proud, though feel somewhat fraudulent (and I do find it tricky listening because of this) as the play was partly based on a relationship with Rob that is no longer (though it’s no-longer-ness does not negate its loveliness and immensely life changing importance when it was an is.  And he is still my much loved friend).  But!- it’s very very lovely that people consider the play to have raised awareness of mental illness.  I hope it did in some way. I never really know what to say about it because its existence at all is highly surreal! But I was very happy and proud to be involved.

So, well done to the lovely Louise Ramsden, who adapted the play, and Fiona Kelcher, the equally lovely  producer!  (And squeak! Jimmy McGovern is one of the judges!  Quake!)  I have no idea if we’ll win anything but it’s still rather nice to be nominated for something (last prize I ever got a plastic parrot that had been wronged by nature).

Also on the shortlist:

EastEnders (BBC One)
One of EastEnders’ most loved characters, Stacey Branning comes to terms with the prospect that she may have bipolar disorder, the same condition that her mother has had for many years.

Eastenders fans, what do you make of this portrayal?  A spiteful text was sent to Robert about it about the episode in which she was diagnosed. Watch it! I hadn’t watched it in years, but the texter clearly thought such a portrayal would, er, somehow unmask my own monstrosity and his lunacy at being with someone like me.  (You can read Robert’s not-entirely-serious ramblings at The Trap Box and decide who is the real lunatic. The answer is, as usual, neither).

What from I’ve seen, it’s been handled rather well.  The discussion with the psychiatrist raised both a wry smile and inspired a somewhat uncomfortable shifting in the chair from me.  TV drama tends to go a little overboard when trying to convey bipolar disorder.  The characters are usually jumping up and down and waving their arms frantically, or leaden with depressive paralysis.  But Stacey was agitated- that skin crawling, can’t sit still, can’t hold a coherent thought agitation that’s very familiar to me.  And her terror, having seen her mother go through it, and her denial, was quite an important point to get across.  Now she’s descending into psychosis.

I was a little bit pissed that the histrionic, “promiscuous” (I hate that word, I hate what it implies, I don’t believe in it, but it’s what Eastenders were scripting her as) character was the one who became mentally ill, and thought it might have been more effective if someone less stereotypically “mental” became so, but I guess it did illustrate the descent, the gradient, the tremors.

Anyway, what are your thoughts?

I’d like MHM to introduce a web category for outstanding websites and blogs about mental health.  I imagine it would be a somewhat impossible task to be representative, but a cursory look over —————–> shows that there’s more than enough to warrant such a thing.  (And on a side note, how pissed off does the woman on the banner look?  GERROF MY WEBSITE!)

And to say I have bloggers’ block right now is an understatement.  I might join the ranks of the uber-Web2.0 Facepeople and do a video post next time, providing I can somehow brush my hair over my face and talk from beneath the curtains like the Wizard of Oz.  I may be struggling with writing, but christ, I can talk. (Though cannot promise to be coherent or interesting since I have slept not-much of late and I am a tiny bit high and have been admittedly somewhat unstable lately.  I am managing though, just not very good at concentrating for long, or short, periods of time! So, er, probably not a video but I can try).

(P.S:  I got an indefinite award from DLA, which I’m guessing is due to the, well, obvious.  It’s been three years since my diagnosis and here I still am. Anyway, no sooner had I found out the happy news of not having to do the renewal form in two years, I discover that they’re thinking of scrapping the fecking thing! You gits!)

(P.P.S:  The Mentally Interesting community still lives at Ning! Go frolic! Or as best you can do on antipsychotics! Go forth and stumble!)

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