I’m An Ex-Mental Patient

…so, this is the end.

The first tagline I ever had for this blog, way back in 2007, was, “Navigating the labyrinth of the NHS Mental Health Services”. Four years and six months later, I’ve found my way out.

I had my final appointment on Friday. It was with my social worker and a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist has such a fantastic name that I expected her to smash through the window on a trapeze before backflipping onto the customary blue fabric chair. She didn’t, and quite frankly I don’t know why I pay my taxes.

It went well. They partly had to discharge me because I’ve moved borough (and I will now also tell you that I was in the Camden and Islington trust, and now I’m in Southwark).

(Quick aside- look at this. This is Southwark’s logo:

Look me in the internet eye and tell me that you didn’t imagine that said in smooth italics by an ageing Italian crooner whose photo hangs proudly in the local chippy. Someone like this:

Oh wait, that’s Bryan Ferry. But him too.

Mr. Southwark.

It gives me a genuine joy to see Southwark adorning the sides of bins because I imagine Mr. Southwark sneaking around at night, taking a fountain pen out of his pocket with a flourish then daubing them with his own hand in the hope that someone, somewhere, will remember him. Which is really rather a depressing image rather than a happy one, but it’s okay, he goes home to somewhere warm, kicks back with a whiskey and sticks a record of his greats on).

What the hell was I on about again? Oh yes.

Anyway, the appointment. I was being discharged anyway due to moving, but if they’d been worried, they would have referred me onwards. I don’t have a GP as of yet in my new borough anyway, so all their letters would have been addressed to Mr. Southwark’s greatest fans. They aren’t worried. They- and I- think I can manage without their help now. Not cured, just managing.

I’m back on Seroquel fairly consistently again, and I have the prerequisite starting-it-off-two-skips-full-of-fat, which has corroded my confidence in my physical appearance to the sliver-thin scalf of wood I wish I looked like. When I met Chris Grayling MP (MP), I had also forgotten to wash paint out of my hair, so. My friend’s giving me her bike, so I’m hoping to shift it, but still. I have the POX so it makes it that bit harder.

The psychiatrist was very nice. We talked about my mood and medication, did the run-down of past medications and what I’d be willing to try in the future. I told her about recent moods and she agreed with me that I was under a lot of stress, which would send anyone doolally. I just need to learn how to manage it a bit better. Jo told her about the shenanigans last year when I stopped medication totally and had a high episode followed by a very sharp, very steep and sudden depression which was largely resolved when I began taking medication again. We’re not starting anything new- it was silly of me to even think so, since I’ve moved and don’t have a doctor. She agrees with Jo that I should stick to Seroquel. I concede grudgingly that it mostly works. Psychiatrists nor social workers don’t want to hear the long whine, “But I don’t like sleeping so much. I don’t like being fat. I don’t like being dopey”. She listened to that, though, and suggested the extended release version. She’s made a note in my records for the new GP to see how I’m doing and discuss medication changes if I stop doing okay.

She also gave me the information I needed in my new borough if I hit crisis, so I know where to go and what to do. I can shine my big, “SHITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!” light into the sky. To be honest, I partly moved into this borough because it has some good mental health facilities.

I’m doing good. Better than good. Managing myself. Oddly, I think going out with Robert has helped me. A lot of people were very against us being together- when we were, a decade ago, when I was fourteen and he was eighteen, we were rather, er, full on. He is quite, quite mad, but in the best way. Creative, emotional, spinning, strange. Jo has commented that he, “wears me out”, and it’s true. He often goes along with my stranger schemes, and I often go along with his. You’d think a rather dull character would be the stabilising force, but it’s been quite the opposite. My ex, Rob, was never dull, but he was more stable than me. I didn’t like being the “mental” one- I still don’t. Robert is silly and explosive and yet extremely patient and kind with me. He didn’t deal very well with my depression last year- being, as it was, a very marked change from what had gone on in the previous months- but he experienced his own bout of depression recently. He’s okay, now (and it was odd, the role reversal, I wonder if I am any good at it, he says I helped, I hope I did) but he gets it, too. Likewise, before he’d seen me proper-mad, he was quite against medication. Now he’s for it. He never panics or judges me. Even last year when I decided to take myself off to the seaside for few days just to get some sleep-and failed to, wandering around instead- he just joined me the day after. In a way, our mercurial selves strengthens our sanity, not weakens it. I would never have expected that.

The doctor and Jo were very encouraging and gave me so many congratulations that I felt like it was my birthday. My instinct was to refute them but I just smiled and said thank you. When I left, Jo hugged me and said, “Thank you for everything you’ve taught me”, and I almost burst into tears. Instead, I blurted out, “Do you remember that time you laughed about my dad dying?” to her now-leaden face. She didn’t, obviously. I do and I geniunely meant it in a nice way. We were talking and I said something about my dad, then followed it with, “He’s dead now”, and she burst out laughing. It was just at the manner in which I said it, but I remember it fondly. She got my sense of humour and understood I wouldn’t be offended by that. My siblings and I often taunt each other with, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah, your da’s dead!” and people look at us sideways. It wasn’t the smoothest parting shot, though, and there you go! I was going to get her a card but I left my purse at home. I’ve bought her one since, but I’m not sure whether to send it or not. I do want to thank her. We had quite the shaky start, but she’s been brilliant. She made me laugh, called me on my own bullshit and bollocks-talking, and she fought for me. I have always appreciated those things.

I left that odd shaped building for the last time, forgetting to say goodbye to the receptionist who always says hello to me and the other patients. I remember her ringing upstairs last year when I was swinging over the disabled handrails laughing my head off. I lit up a smoke (I’m quitting and have the raft of unused patches to prove it- I can’t and have never been able to afford to smoke) and went to my Holloway flat too for the last time. Still nothing from my landlord, so I’m not expecting my much-needed deposit back.

It was quite magnificent, going over the river at Blackfriars in the obscenely slow train. Now I’m Sath of the Rivah, most of my jaunts into the city involve that lovely journey. I have lived here almost eight years and I still never tire of the sight of it, the river looming, all glittery, the bridges, the boats.

When I arrived home (home, proper home, with cats and Robert and double glazing), there were two cakes waiting for me, and four candles- one for each year. (Alas, they fell rather dejectedly into the cake when lit, but it’s the thought that counts).

The weekend was spent getting the flat in order and blanching every time I looked at my bank account. Today was spent at my Very First University Interview for mental health nursing, and in all honesty, I have no idea how it went. It was very exciting, though. My next one is on the 23rd of February. Tomorrow I have a test. I miss writing, and miss having the time to write. I’m still wondering whether I should bother with a book. I’m unsure as to whether to continue this blog at all- I’m still involved in activism, but as far as the mental health system goes, that’s it. I haven’t had time to write on my other blog, but I will, so BOOKMARK IT OR DIE. And hopefully the horrendous self-obsession I’ve employed to try and sort myself out and monitor what’s going on can relax. Yeah, as if I wasn’t already self obsessed, whoops… But I do want to write about more things. And I’m doing more things, which means I have an outer life, not just an inner life these days.

So, as is customary, here are some (shitty quality, stolen from Facebook) photos of this month! They’re all crap, my AF is still broken, my eyesight is too bad to use manual focus, I can’t really afford new glasses right now, so I don’t use my camera for creative things anymore. But you can nosey at the new flat. It’s weekly rent wise split between us, about £30 a week cheaper than it would even be in halls of residence. Go places without a tube! VISIT SOUTH LONDON.

I am very excited about the kitchen and main bedroom- I’ve never lived somewhere with a proper kitchen or main bedroom before. I’ve either lived in scrappy, broken-windowed bedsits or places with tiny bedrooms crowded with crap and kitchens handcrafted by people with dyspraxia, armed solely with a pickaxe. Such tiny, stupid things that make it feel like a home, but it’s nice, y’know? I need a stable base to be, er, stable from. Ish. Who knows, maybe this will be the flat the crisis team doesn’t visit and criticise for being a shithole!

Our Glorious Leader, who needs a frame.

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Valentine’s Day message from Robert, written in chalk outside the flat. The neighbours are going mental about it. He has yet to own up.

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The beginning of the fall of the candles.

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Not at all Robert in a bicorne as a revolutionary leader of South London.

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51 Responses

  1. congrats on getting discharged, and welcome to the sarf🙂

  2. Keyboard in the fireplace = fabulous

    Dress on your hanging rail = WANT!

    Congrats on moving onward & upward🙂

    K x

  3. Pleased for you love! x

  4. That’s awesome news! Not going to go into the self obsessed ramblings of you’re one of the people who inspired me to start blogging in the first place, but you were. So there! Best of luck.

  5. Wonderful, absolutely wonderful.
    I really do hope life starts handing out the good stuff to you – you deserve every bit.

  6. I love you both. And will see you soon to say this to you in person, but you really are a great friend and a fantastic writer and a huge inspiration. I know you’ll be fine. This post feels like you know it, too.

    Also, Mr Southwark made me spit my tea.

  7. This is awesome to hear, I’m pleased for you🙂

  8. I’m really pleased for you, Seaneen😀

  9. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ira, brain opera. brain opera said: I'm An Ex-Mental Patient http://wp.me/p3do2-2X5 […]

  10. you are fab, your post warmed my heart, good luck with everything, enjoy your new home. Pleased the discharge went well x

  11. It’s really nice to hear that you have made it out the other end and that you are “managing”. That’s a great achievement and I really hope things go well for you south of the river. The flat looks lovely and a far cry from some of the shitholes you’ve described in the past.

    Good luck and take care. xx

  12. What a lovely place. Very nice rocking chair too, with space!😉

    I’m glad you’re out the other side of the mental health system, but also glad there’s a way back should you need it.

    We love your writing. You could write about carpets and I’d read it.

  13. I’ve just arrived to yr blog – shame i caught it at the end but it is good that you are feeling better. i’m just starting my recovery from psychosis. good to see that people come out the other side!🙂

    steff xxx

  14. Congrats on moving and like you said, living somewhere stable is an essential part of being stable🙂

  15. Congrats – happy for you, here’s to the new start etc🙂

  16. […] has been discharged from the CMHT. She also gave me the information I needed in my new borough if I hit crisis, so I […]

  17. Hello Senean,
    We have not heard from you recently, I hope you are well. Your new house looks fabulous, red suits your character. Look forward to hearing from you soon.
    Kind Regards David.

  18. Loving the new place! Congrats on being an ex mental patient, I’m soon to be discharged myself🙂

    Good luck chick, I’m proud to have followed your blog for the last 2/3 years and I’m happy to see you moving on to other things! 🙂

    x x x x

  19. RE: sending a card to Jo… I sent one to my last counsellor, and although I felt a bit daft sending it, it also made me feel good – not enough people say please and thank you these days, I assure you it will make you and her smile!x

  20. Amy, I think it will mean a lot . David.

  21. Loving the post and the pictures – And well done and the discharge.

    There is a new linky starting today at http://wordsinsync.blogspot.com/2011/02/monday-madness-week-1.html called Monday Madness – and it’s in support of the bloggers out there who are involved in mental health/illness. I’d like it to grow steadily, to allow for a solid support community for those of us who could use it/those of us who can help/those of us to tackle stigma and awareness. Do pop by. Be great to have you with us. Shah .X

  22. I remember telling someone about committing suicide waking up and realizing I wasn’t dead and they laughed and laughed their head off. I wish I could remember how I told it because it was obviously hilariously funny. Innit weird when people laugh??!

  23. Hello Seaneen🙂

    So sorry I haven’t responded to any of you blogs for a while, blog reading was something I had to fore-go when I was so busy finishing up my degree (and had a month or 6 of doing bugger all in recover!) , but I’m back now and I was so glad to read this blog and find you in a good place🙂. Your flat is lovely.

  24. Actually hun the MOST SUCCESSFUL bipolar bloggers and the ones I enjoy reading most….are those who have figured out how to “get on with it” and share that experience and even the occasional hiccups on the road…..your not “ill” you live with bipolar disorder….(you have the same official diagnosis as my partner…which I had guessed at quite some time ago) and that sweet heart is an achievement to be proud of.

  25. Unpicking the bits of a personality that are the disorder and those that are you is very complex, but as you pop out of the system something which you may wish to reflect on, i know i did to some depth and still do. The only problem is if you look for patterns you will find them. Anyway thought your may like this joke – that I’ve been working on and mulling over.

    What Bear?

    Q: What bear lives at the top of the world and swims in the northern lights one month and languishes in the deep dark recesses of a cave at the bottom of the world the next?

    A: A bipolarbear.

  26. Congratulations. It’s so brave of you to be willing to share your experiences with the rest of the world. Bipolar disease is such a devastating condition that it takes a lot of courage to deal with constructively.

  27. Congrats. Welcome to the new start🙂

  28. Great blog. When will you start writing again?🙂

  29. Congratulations! I’m glad you got out of the hospital and are feeling better. I was a psychiatry resident and I’m manic-depressive so I’ve seen both sides. As a patient, I would do anything not to get admitted and if I did, I’d do everything to get out. The mental health care system can really suck you in and make you feel sicker than you are. I’m really happy for you.

  30. I love your flat! Especially the butterflies in the hallway. Congrats on having a proper kitchen and bedroom.

  31. Hi there!

    What a fab blog!
    Clearly, I am comming to it late, but it’s been good to read a bit about your journey. Bi-polar is often so poorly understood by the medical fraternity (that I am currently doing research in fish-oils, yap, crazy, but I won’t bore you with this).
    I worked in a mental health place for may years — and we all only survived with a huge dollop of irreverent humour. Great to see the twinkle in your eyes. Say hello to Mr. Southwark 🙂

  32. […] 1. Being Mentally Interesting And Other Stories […]

  33. Hey Seaneen! I’ve been lurking on your blog for awhile enjoying your posts and wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award! http://fussy-budget.com/2011/12/16/you-like-me/

  34. […] 1) I was discharged from the community mental health team after 4 years […]

  35. […] 1) I was discharged from the community mental health team after 4 years […]

  36. Congratulations on getting out and beat of luck for the future!

    Iain

  37. Hi Seaneen,

    I’m so glad you’re doing well. It’s good to know that other people are sorting themselves out as well. And it’s also good to read someone who writes so eloquently. I was a frequent silent visitor to your blog a few years ago and never commented much. I’m glad you’re here. And although we’re not friends, and are very unlikely to be in the same place at the same time, as I live in the States, I’m very happy to have watched all the progress you have made.

    best,

    Seana

  38. Congratulations on being discharged at last!

  39. Hi Seaneen,

    I’m new to your blog, but can see multiple visits in future. Congrats on finding your way out!

    ” I can shine my big, “SHITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!” light into the sky.” Love it!!

    Shielsy

  40. This is heartening.

  41. Very overwhelming to see, something like this as you are.
    Life is not easy and we all fight our share of battles, while most of the people give up sooner or later, only few remain who fight till the end.
    And Seaneen, you are one those few who fight till the end.

    Good luck.

  42. Hi Seaneen

    I would like to wish you well too, although I don’t know whether you will get this message – I see that it is some time since you have posted on this blog. I had three periods of psychosis, and was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia – I have recovered now. I saw a psychiatrist recently because I wanted my recovery documented – he now says the original diagnosis was likely to have been a mistake. I would resent it all, but I can’t because I have learned so much from it – I do think though that people should not be labelled – the label so often stands as a barrier to recovery.
    All the best
    Louise

  43. […] far) wrestling with treatment and the mental health system. The tagline of this blog used to be, “Navigating the labyrinth of NHS mental health services”, which I found my way out of in… I, like a lot of people my age, have grown up online. I’ve kept journals since I was 12, and […]

  44. […]  wrestling with treatment and the mental health system.  The tagline of this blog used to be, “Navigating the labyrinth of NHS mental health services”, which I found my way out of in… I, like a lot of people my age, have grown up online.  I’ve kept journals since I was 12, […]

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