I had an appointment with my GP today. Not my usual GP, which was deliberate. It usually takes a leg or two falling off before I submit myself to the GP, and if that was the case, it’s pretty certain the first question I’d be asked would be, “So…how’s your mood? Have you been self harming?” while I awkwardly fiddle with the sinew dripping elastically upon the floor.
This is just being thorough. Today was no different from the usual, but I faintly recall that I was up for a medication review anyway. I went to see the doctor for two reasons- the first being about my arms. I didn’t get a referral to a dermatologist, or anything of the like. She thought there isn’t much they can do-she had a viddy, the scars are pretty widespread, and surgery might make them look worse. I don’t know whether to pursue it or not. The second was due to the fact I keep blacking out at the moment. In the past week I’ve cracked my head twice due to, “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit…thunk”. I also keep falling asleep. If you know me in real life, you’ll know how unusual the latter is for me. I have piled on yet more weight, rather inexplicably, and my eyesight is coming and going.
So, as well as blood tests, I got a gentle bollocking for not taking my medication. It was only two and half months ago (which I stated as six weeks, because I can’t count) I was with the crisis team, which I sometimes forget. But I pulled myself out of that depression. I felt horrendous, as it was a sudden, shocking, “where the fuck did that come from?” depression but doing things- forcing myself to do things- did help (as did citalopram, I guess, but who knows). I honestly feel quite well off medication. Everyone has noticed how much brighter I am. I don’t want to expect something to go wrong. It helps, I guess, that something physical is probably going on that means I sleep, and sleeping enough does tend to keep my mood alright. I reassured her that I was seeing my social worker, who is okay with it. But more to the point, she will notice if I start going weird, probably before I do. A few weeks ago she thought I was getting vaguely high, and I maybe was, but then being slammed by strange tiredness seemed to sort it out. I’m a bit twitchy, but mentally I feel quite good.
“Anyway…”, I continued, “I have borderline personality disorder, so I don’t need medication”. If they are going to slap me with that one, I shall exploit it to the hilt.
“No,”, she riposted, “you have bipolar disorder, so you do need to take medication”.
I told her that I’d been told in April that I have BPD, not bipolar, and shouldn’t be taking medication, to which she showed me a letter, dated August, from the psychiatrist who told me this, stating that I had bipolar disorder with, “underlying borderline personality disorder” and to issue a prescription. But under, “active issues”- there it was, personality disorder!
Shenanigans! Who the buggery knows. Either way, if I’m not taking anything, it’s all a bit irrelevant. It’ll only be relevant if I flip out and find myself on a ward, but I imagine if that happened, it would be fairly obvious what the problem is either way.
I did get the, “Have you had thoughts of suicide, self harm etc?” questions to which I answered no. She asked me if I was in counselling or therapy and I said no to that too. When she asked why, I said I don’t think I need it. Which is also true.
I’m curious as to what they have on me, so I’ve booked myself in for a ball-kicking session on the 29th, in which you sit in a room with a receptionist, scroll through your notes and gasp in shock and hurt as to what’s been written about you. I am terrified of this and am aware it’s going to be painful, but I want to know.
My social worker appointment on Wednesday was fine- more bloody forms for my funding. We’re also back to the, “Six months and we’ll discharge you”. So if I get through six months without any serious incident (we started this in May this year, but there were two notable mood swings so I got stuck), then I’m free! Which will be good.
I mentioned that my view of mental illness has kind of come around to her view of it (“My hippy shit? Ha!”). I said I was worried about changing trusts as, “I didn’t want another Haringey”. When she asked me to explain, I told her they weren’t very good, but I had some responsibility in that one in that I was twenty and a dogmatic little shit who expected to be magically cured and was pissed off when I wasn’t (after the obligatory seven months rampaging around telling them to fuck off and that I didn’t have any problems). When I did accept I have manic depression, I thought I could just take pills and be fine. Or not take them, take them, not take them… Now I realise that it’s only a small bit of the equation, but it took a few years to get to that point, of trial and error, of sometimes painful introspection. And it’s nice, in a way, to feel responsible for myself. To feel grown up. What I should never forget about then is that I wasn’t grown up, I was very young, quite unwell and had no idea how to deal with that. It’s something they- especially psychiatrists- should never forget either before putting personality disorders on my medical records that cannot be erased, despite my growing out of all the symptoms of them. (And it’s something you- younger people reading- should also remember. You may think you are irrevocably fucked up at the moment, but you may not be in the future. When I think back to what I was like when I was eighteen, I can’t imagine feeling like that again. I was a mess).
I’m not even sure why I stopped taking medication. Partly the very sudden weight gain with citalopram, despite often feeling too nauseous to eat, which freaked me out. I ran out of my Quetiapine prescription and just didn’t pick up another one. I missed two or three days, found that, aside from being twitchy and brain-noisey, I didn’t feel too bad, so just kept going. It’s not an ethical thing. If I do become ill, I will take medication again without moaning too much about it. Without the quetiapine drowsiness, I actually find myself on time for things, which makes a pleasant change.
It will be nice to be discharged, though, even though I’ll miss my social worker. We had a rocky start, but I have grown to like her and she’s been really supportive. If I get onto a course for next year, I’d be discharged anyway as I’d need to move south of the river to be close to placement hospitals. I am very very keen to stay well so if I do go weird I will take medication again. I do not want to bugger this year up, as this is the year I want to get back to a life. I got a reference from my tutor, and it was very lovely, and once I send my personal statement for approval, that’s it, all sent, and I will have to wait for answers from the universities. Eek.
I wondered briefly today why so many of my mentally interesting brethren go into mental health nursing. Is it because we have a better grasp of the challenging facing mentalists, being so ourselves? And is it a bit reclaiming the power balance? If you’ve spent years submitting yourself to services, how delicious, how ironic it is to find yourself on the other side of that locked door. Both certainly come into it with me. I want to help- directly, not just through blogging and activism- people going through mental illness because I know what a painfully long and lonely experience it is. I know mental illness can make people act out of character and that sometimes people don’t grasp that, and I know that people with mental illness are also as susceptible to being complete arseholes as people without. But I also want to get behind the scenes and try to change things I see being done wrong, because so very much is when it comes to mental health. I know that too from experience.
Anyway, I also managed some writing yesterday, which is good. I have possibly been given up on, though, as it’s been almost a year now and I’m still nowhere near finished with what I was writing. Ah, I am an arse.
Filed under: Bipolar Disorder