Oh lord, I feel like utter shite. I spent my class this afternoon trying not to put my head into my hands and whimper softly. Someone asked me if I had a hangover because I looked, “awful” (charming) but alas, I was in bed by midnight last night. Which was tempered by my not sleeping the previous day, but still. I hope I feel better by tomorrow or else I’ll have to be wheeled on then crawl into a nest I’ve constructed of felt and fluff. I do look awful, though, and have inexplicably gained a lot of weight lately. Ngh. Robert and some of my friends are coming to support me- hopefully they’ll tongue bathe me in sweet lies to tell me I look radiant and gorgeous and etc.
Speaking of my class, though, I have a question.
How do I hide that I have am mentally interesting from everybody? My tutor knows that I did have mental health problems. But part of me doesn’t even want to apply for the disabled students’ allowance that would give me support through wish of it not being an issue at all. I will, though, as I am aware I will need the support and am liable to try and take on too much.
“You’re reinforcing stigma! Why are you ashamed of this?” I hear some of you cry. It’s not shame- well, it is, a bit of my spectacular failure to even get eight GCSEs- it’s just that, y’know, after a little while, you get sick of being treated oddly by people because of it. It happened to me in school, when I wasn’t a diagnosed mental, just a very obvious one. It happened in work, too, when I wasn’t being treated yet and was quite clearly off my rocker some of the time. I just don’t want to deal with it. I don’t want people to treat me differently- even if they aren’t aware they’re doing it.
It happened, briefly, on Thursday. Most people in my class have full time jobs and are parents. Outside, having a fag, the inevitable question, “What do you do?” came up. I answer this now with, “I’m a writer”, because answering, “I’m on benefits”, “Oh, are you looking for work?”, “Er, not yet” just doesn’t cut it. And saying I’m writer- though true but not a full time job- avoids that. When someone asked, “Who do you write for?” I mentioned the BBC and One in Four magazine. She, for some reason, presumably because she’s worked in the health service, knew what it was. She didn’t tell me this this enthusiastically, in fact, it was with outright distaste. I don’t know if she just doesn’t like the magazine, or if she had twigged that I was one of the mentals who wrote it. The conversation pretty much ended there.
I may just be being paranoid and oversensitive, but it’s nothing I want to deal with. I feel guilty for it, but I don’t have to be an advocate all the time. With my course, I just want to put my head down and get on with it. I know I’ve made myself fairly visible in the mental health movement. I’m happy with that and willing. That movement, I always think, is aimed more at people who have mental health problems than not. Some of those, “not” have a good perspective on them. Some of those, “not”, don’t. I want to help change the perception of people with mental illness- but I don’t want to feel I have to do it on my access course, y’know? I WANNA BEH MEH! If I manage to be well as can be, why should I mention it?
The reason I’m asking is because of our career development module. We have to talk about, “who we are, where we’ve been” and our barriers to education and things formally. It’s our life story, really. Where I’ve been encompasses mental health services and trying to piece my brain back together, and my barriers to education and employment were that I became unwell. What do I say? I don’t want people to know my whole history. (They can do that when my book comes out- if I ever finish writing it! Ahahah).
I’m also terrified of becoming ill. I’m not that chirpy at the moment but I’m just dealing with it and trying not to let it affect things so much. I try to act quickly if my mood starts wobbling. I control them- largely- via sleep. Simply put- too much sleep makes me depressed, too little makes me high. I do have periods of normal mood and most of this year- until I hit May- I was just mildly depressed, and that was largely due to tiredness from medication. (Snipped for the people who are interested in reading on and out of sympathy for people who do not).
When my mood became too high, I agreed to take antipsychotics for a while to calm me down. It took a while for that to work as it was only helping me sleep but as soon as I woke up, I’d begin to shake and my mood was still high. Then a crash followed, and I took antidepressants (which I have lost, and have forgotten to ring and get a prescription for which might account for why I’m not feeling good again. I found them quite activating and have felt noticeably more sluggish and down in the past week and a half of not taking them. Could just be placebo, but I have absolutely no reason whatsoever to be down) and 200mg of Seroquel to help me sleep. But it makes me sleep too much, so I end up depriving myself for a while to kick my mood up- then, inevitably, I have to take it again at some point to bring it down, and thus sleep again.
This works okay, but it’s untenable for the long term because it’s impossible to keep a routine like that. I simply don’t sleep for seven hours on Seroquel, I will sleep for a minimum of twelve, and it’s impossible to wake me up. When I do wake up, I feel drugged, even on fairly low doses because I’m a midge. I almost have to write off a day to do it, and thus it is tempting to just not sleep. I function very well without sleep- I tend to become more and more awake, and therein lies the problem, it’s a shortcut to hypomania, I have to be talked in to sleeping, and have to take something to make me sleep.
But because my diagnosis is now (recovered) borderline personality disorder and I don’t have a psychiatrist, there’s no quick intervention for when my moods become screwy. It isn’t treated with medication, and the psychiatrist writing my Seroquel prescription mostly did so to keep my social worker happy, as she strongly disagrees with his assessment of me as borderline, and had thought during the summer I had hit a manic episode and wanted something to immediately bring me down as I had refused crisis team support and asked Robert to refuse it, too. So, there isn’t anyone I can ring and go, “Achtung! I need some advice/medication to knock this on the head and take long term”, as I don’t have a doctor who thinks I have a mood disorder. Robert disagrees with him, too, so he has nowhere to go and ask for help, either. I’m keeping a mood journal and asking for his input, which is pretty much the best I can do right now, along with being careful not to take on too much or thinking I can. There’s no doctor anyway- that one has gone onto a new job, and the CMHT is so overstretched that it’s difficult to get an appointment with the new doctor, and I don’t think I really need one right now anyway.
So, in that way, I use my own methods to control them, and long term, they’re not fantastic ones. Therapy ain’t going to help, because- and no, this isn’t part of Bloggers’ Borderline Denial 2010- my moods really aren’t much to do with what happens in my life, or my past, and the mood coping mechanisms they’d teach me are things I already employ myself. I don’t think I’d even be referred for therapy. I had CBT (which was to treat body dysmorphic disorder) and some psychotherapy, but the latter ended in the assessment stage because both me and the therapist didn’t really think there was much to talk about and I was managing alright.
So, what to do? Any advice? There is obviously the huge problem that my name is all over the internet connected to mental health, but I don’t think I’d be Googled, and if I was, well, their fault for being nosey! Like I said, I don’t mind being visible, I just don’t want to feel I *have* to discuss it with anyone on my course unless they bought it up first.
I’ve also started a blog to chronicle my progress on the course. We were advised to do this (the whole career development module is about self reflection), and it’s mostly for my benefit due to a poor memory, but if students and nurses fancy chipping in, feel free. I haven’t written in it yet. It’s here: http://whybutofcourse.wordpress.com/ It’s going to be solely about school, study and etc, because I’d like to keep it off here and off my (currently down) main blog for my own purposes and because I can’t imagine most people would want to read about my struggles with time management and organisational skills.
Now I’m off to bed!