The Neverending Story

Hello! I’ve been privating a lot of posts lately, many apologies.  I will make this brief.

Firstly, thank you for the comments on the post I recently made private.  Love is very appreciated.

In summary, this is what has happened:

Relapse (if you could call it that, which I guess you could) into depression. I haven’t had a bad episode of depression since this time of year 2010 when it followed 3 months of hypomania, which, as autumn follows spring and rather literally so as that it when my moods hit the skids and gave way into one of the worst episodes I have ever had.  It was mercifully brief; antidepressants lifted it, then I was taken off them for the usual reasons (mood being like a sliding scale, and antidepressants going up, up, up, so you stop at the reasonable point).

I haven’t gotten that far yet.  As in, I haven’t even been able to see a GP to get antidepressants or anything else.  Then was different, I was still under CMHT care so the crisis team were called out by my social worker and they dealt with me.

This time around, I have none of that support.  I can’t get an emergency appointment (you must ring or show up at 8am- it’s either engaged or a huge queue and invariably, the appointments are gone) so I am waiting until the 29th.  I could self-refer to the local CMHT but they just said see your GP and by the way, take your medication.  Which I would have been doing had my GP taken heed of the psychiatrist’s letter and prescribed it.  I followed it up, but I had also felt okay through the summer so didn’t push them further. I felt I was managing anyway.  I tried to call the crisis team last week (after psyching myself up for some time) and they hung up.  I don’t think the nurse could hear me, she shouted, “HELLO HELLO” then hung up. I don’t think it was anyone’s fault but the click of the receiver was the last thing I needed to hear. But I am glad because I am not sure I want that kind of support anyway- even if it’s available. I need my space and time, and not intrusive and questions.  I know what is wrong.  I am trying to find my way through.

It had begun in September and become intolerable this month in which I have been filthy, unwashed, gained 20lbs, wanted to sleep forever and been finding it hard to even speak.  With the odd okay days (and evenings, when I sometimes feel better) thrown in, just to annoy me, just to make it seem like the awfulness was all in my head and all I needed to do was Change my Attitude. The same way when this hit I was shocked.  As if it had never happened before.  The aftermath of episodes brings the forgiving anaesthesia, the not-remembering, the not being able to recall the pain of despair.  Or not recalling the excesses of hypomania (in flashbacks, they come, with shame, shame, shame).  And then depression itself brings the same anaesthesia, of dulling the happiness and warmness of memory.  A friend asked the question the other day, “When was the last time you laughed til it hurt?”  And I have?  Have I? I must have done.  But I can’t remember.  Even the joy of my wedding day, less than 3 months ago, feels as though it never happened.  An email from a colleague who I met on placement telling me I should be on the stage instead.  That was me?  That capable, bouncy, happy person?  8 months ago? How?  And now.

I stopped wearing seatbelts. Cried myself to sleep in despair at how I was ruining my husband’s life, how I was ruining everything.  Spent days researching where to get medical grade nitrous oxide for the big deep sleep.

I had been on placement full time while depressed and it became increasingly clear I could not cope. I finally saw my tutor (also a mental health nurse) and asked for help.  I felt shaky and sick on the way there.  I felt like a failure.  She said she could immediately see I was unwell (seeing is believing, not just the dull dead face but the stress induced face-herpes and bloatedness from weight gain).  That I am not the girl she knows right now (it is true, and it is agony to hear those words).

So now I am on sick leave.

My relief is indescribable because as much as I get the, “Well, if you’re not taking your mood stabiliser of course you got ill” schick I got from the CMHT, it is also, “Well, you are working shifts which is destroying your incredibly necessary sleeping pattern, and you’ve had a massive life change in getting married (and HA! this depression will begin to destroy your marriage before it has even had time to root, enjoy that), you have intense pressure upon you, you are financially fucked due to studenting and not being able to work part time too (but use every single penny to move from the place were you are being stolen from and bombarded with religious shit day and night) and you are in an emotionally draining environment…So of course you got sick”.

I need time and space and sleep.

It’s the same swooping mood crash as always, the same out of nowhere crash.  Maybe something fiddly in the brain, bipolarity, par for the course. But I have limits.  I do. I could work full time and study part time and I managed beautifully.  It was stressful but I came home, went to sleep, woke up, had some sort of routine. Not bed at 11pm then up again at 4. Then bed at 12pm, up at 10am.

Remember when I started this blog, back when I was just diagnosed, all 20 years old and full of it, and the strongest believer in the medical model, absolutely ear-closed to the idea that it could be anything BUT this thing in my head (the spiky sea urchin, christened then and ever was, will be) which could be vanquished by Lithiums and antipsychotics and and Effexors (the last one, a particularly particular disaster). Now I can’t believe I ever thought that way.  It was part of me then, but one I thought I could kill.  I don’t believe that now.  It’s a part I have to live with, forever. The medication does help.  It does.  But there is no magic pill.

How things change.

Accepting that means accepting, really accepting, that this could happen again. Whether it’s a character flaw, illness, or both, it could happen again. That thought is intolerable.  The unhopeful me does not want to accept it.  Best to stop it now, here, and never live through it again.

But I won’t do that.

I’m seeing the doctor on the 29th, I am moving, I am going back on the 7th, I am going to try and be more open with my husband and not feeling like an abject failure for this, try to be more open in accepting help from friends, who have been wonderful in offering it.  To find things that interest me (writing, radio, if anyone wants anything, even though I can write for about 10 minutes a month these days) and use it, little projects, to occupy myself, to keep some semblance of a purpose.  To make myself get out of bed when all I want to do is sleep. And that is what I am doing. It is what I have to do.

15 Responses

  1. The forgetting. It seems like a blessing. It is to me, I never want to remember. But when something does hit then it’s the most intolerable shock. And you describe the reverse forgetting so well – not remembering fully what another state was like. A nasty cursed blessing.

    Seaneen, I’m so glad you’re on sick leave now. And please, if we can do anything at all, shout. We’d be happy to provide company if you’d like it, you could stay over or just come for one of hubby’s awesome roasts. anything. I’m going to attempt to make Turkish Delight this weekend. I hate the stuff but if you want to risk your lives testing it you’re welcome. 😉

    Just look after yourself. You have so much to be proud of. I know depression makes you see just the failure, makes you blame yourself, hate yourself. But you’re fab and I see it if you don’t.


  2. I just want you to know my thoughts are with you; I have been there.
    One day at a time xxx

  3. Shift work sounds like hell. I hope you get the chance to rest & recover on sick leave.

  4. Love, love, and more love. And my dear, you are doing all the right things and I’m proud of you for that. I know that might sound a little odd in the circumstances, but I hope you know what I mean! Keep doing what you’re doing. And give me a shout if you need anything, even company to sit and write, conversation optional 🙂 xoxo

  5. Oh hon, I’m sorry you’re not well. I know how incredibly hard it is to admit that you’re struggling, to take time off, to open up – and you have done the right thing. Take all the time you need, and rest.
    Let me know if you need anything lovely. xxx

  6. Shift work and bipolar are the worst combination. If we don’t sleep, we go mental. Simple as. I’m currently on placement at a CMHT working 9-5 and whilst I’m not the greatest fan of where I am.. for once the hours and commuting aren’t killing me. My brain just decided to relapse anyway.

    For me, I’m not sure if it’s some sort of delayed grieving that slowly tipped me over the edge but suddenly more of my days were spent in inconsolable tears, punching walls and slapping my face. There was an instance sat on my bathroom floor that I fleetingly thought of self harming. I was supplementing my seroquel with ketamine.. I still am.

    I saw my psych on the 5th and she doubled my seroquel. I’m part way there on 500mg now and I can’t remember a day in the last week where I have cried. I’m the opposite of that hysterical mess who sat in front of my doctor 20 days ago.

    Watching a sad film today made me wonder if I’ve actually lost the ability to feel anything but heartburn..

    • You’re taking ketamine on top of quetiapine?… that’s CRAZY. What you’re saying is you’re taking an incredibly powerful pro-psychotic on top of a way less powerful anti-psychotic. 😦 This is not going to end well!

  7. Yeah I’ve heard shiftwork and even jetlag can trigger manic episodes.

    The level of “care” you get from local mental health services sounds entirely typical of London… what am I saying? Of the UK in general. Still I would FAR rather have our NHS than an American system where tens of millions are totally uninsured … I know a fellow blogger:

    who also happens to be bipolar, who says she is considering declaring “health bankruptcy” ~~ something to do with not being able to pay for all the treatments she needs…

    I wouldn’t be put off by long queues at the GP remember 90% of people in there are probably wasting the dr’s time with sore throats and runny noses. If you’re feeling that bad and have had severe bipolar episodes in the past, your case is URGENT.

  8. Hi Em. was also on 500mg seroquel, and also couldn’t feel anything…that’s the problem.

  9. Hi Gledwood, wow that is harsh on Em, we all turn to self-medicating sometimes…part of the illness…and because we are not getting the care we need as you say.

  10. Setting boundaries and limits within our lives, in relation to our mental illness(es) is vital, but often hard to do because we take it as a knock against our character. We are not our illness and our illness is not us — we just coexist in the same physical flesh.

    My boss doesn’t quite understand why I’m having to drop my hours, but I’ve tried to tell him that if I don’t — he lose me all together because I’ll end up so ill that I’ll either get fired or be on medical leave. I have to work less, so that I can give the business more. It’s hard for me not to take this personally, as I wish I could work more, but right now I can’t. If I don’t take care of my body and illness, it will take control of me. I struggle with guilt and shame for having to drop my work load due to my mental illness.

    Your sleep is important. Taking care of you is important. I’m sorry you are waiting so long to get in to get things releveled out, but it will be okay. Keep on hanging and know that others out there are juggling the knives of mental illness with life and work and family and friends too.

    Don’t claim relapse either, refuse to claim it. Admit that you might have slacked off with self-care, but that you are on the mend and determined to beat this! We all make mistakes and perfect judgement in all circumstances is impossible.

    • I have NO CHOICE in my working hours. None. I am a student nurse. We HAVE TO complete a set amount of hours and we HAVE TO work shifts. There is no way around this whatsoever, so it is not something I can just ask for.

      • Wow! I didn’t know you had those specific restraints. I apologize… Can you take on less hours, but take longer to complete the hours — I guess I’m saying like go part-time?

  11. Hi there

    I have just stumbled across your blog whilst searching for mental health nurse with bipolar. The reason for this? I am also a ‘mental’ mental health nursing student. I also have suspected bipolar after years of on and off severe depressions (and it seems to have suddenly come to light, some sort of manias). I am also on leave.

    How are you doing now? Am going to have a read through your other blogs so maybe there is more recent stuff there…

    I can relate to what you say, particularly about killing it. I thought I had finally beat this thing but no, and now I’m scared for my future and of my return to university. I hope we can chat as I feel we may be able to help each other.

    Take care xx

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