1

Bipolar UK

We’re doing a joint post today about a really incredible charity.

Bipolar UK is a “charity dedicated to supporting individuals with the much misunderstood and devastating condition of bipolar, their families and carers”

We have contacted this charity many times, both via email and telephone, and every time they have been amazingly helpful and overwhelmingly understanding. We want to use this post to say THANK YOU to them and, if any readers are feeling charitable, please donate as this charity does so much good.

This charity offers advice on a variety of topics, but unlike other charities we have asked for advice from they do seem to care and really go out of their way to help.

We have spoken with the mental health charity Mind several times over the years, and they have never offered any useful advice or seemed to really give a rat’s ass about us – in fact the last time Gog rang was because Anon was psychotic and suicidal, and we were struggling to get help from the NHS. Mind talked to Gog about breathing techniques, and said that a volunteer could come see us weekly to “offer us structure”…um, no, thanks!

Bipolar UK on the other hand have offered practical help & advice many times – let’s use when Gog phoned them today as an example.

If you follow this blog you will know that we have been really struggling with getting help, and getting Anon to a psychiatrist for medication…the NHS seem hell bent on making her have a dozen appts with various other people but refuse to let her see a psych any time soon.

We took her to A&E the other day at the recommendation of 111, and it went disastrously wrong. Gog is really struggling to find any method of helping her… 😦

So he phoned Bipolar UK. Gog says:

“The man on the other end of the phone listened patiently as I told the story. I stumbled through and spoke for around fifteen minutes, and they were sympathetic when I explained how the hospital had set the police onto Anon.

I told them how the local mental health service refused to send anybody out to see us at home, or at our local GP practice, or talk to us via video call – all ideas we came up with because we could cope with them.

I told them that getting to appointments rocketed Anon’s anxiety, and that travelling 40 minutes on public transport to appointments was not possible. 

The advice I got was fantastic.

They were sorry the NHS had been so unhelpful, and then the man said he would go speak to somebody else to get their advice as well. I spoke with two different people, and they turned our day around…Anon and myself were both stressed, and struggling to find hope. After the phone call we have a plan of action, and we feel empowered. 

Bipolar UK have advised us to phone the GP surgery tomorrow and tell the receptionist that we need an emergency appointment. They told me I didn’t have to tell the receptionist why we needed an appointment, I can literally say “you don’t need to know that, I need an emergency appointment, please make one” – we have had a lot of trouble in the past with receptionists saying that, as I am with Anon and prevent harm to herself, she is not in danger and so does not qualify for urgent appointments. 

At the GP appointment I am to tell the GP that we need an urgent referral to a psychiatrist – NOT an appointment with social worker OR single point of access; but a psychiatrist.

We have jumped through hoops for the past four months; it has not helped and it has not got us to a psychiatrist. We NEED a psychiatrist, we need medication, so please sort us out an appointment with one.”

That is our plan – so simple, yet we would never have thought of it or had the confidence to go through with it 🙂

Alongside that Bipolar UK also complimented Gog several times and said what a helpful and amazing person he is – Anon is always telling him this, but nobody else does. At the end of the phone call as Gog was saying goodbye, the man on the other end also asked if he was okay, wanted to talk about himself, and checked he had support – just lovely.

Thank you so much Bipolar UK.

You have helped us many times. You’ve given us hope and confidence and we trust you infinitely more than the NHS. I wish we had more money so we could give to you more!

To anyone struggling with Bipolar, check out this charity, and again if you can spare a little for them please do, because they’re amazing 🙂

0

From the murky depths to the skies

For the past month I have been very depressed; before that I had three weeks of mania. Now that I keep a chart, I have exact details of my episodes.

On 1st April we went to A&E (which was horrifying) because I was struggling with the suicidal depression…then yesterday, 4th April, I woke up heading towards mania.

Completely out the blue, with absolutely no previous symptoms.

Because the A&E trip was so traumatic, I guess it could have been caused by that – but still: yay, rapid cycling Bipolar…!

I’m not manic yet, just hypomanic.

Symptoms include lack of sleep (because of course – atm I’m getting about 6 hours, but not good sleep, I wake A LOT during the night). I have the energy, the irritability, and I feel fairly happy. I know  that as this manic episode continues I’ll get more psychotic, more angry, my thoughts will race and I’ll end up not sleeping at all. Until then, I’m trying to enjoy it.

The day-to-day differences with Bipolar is something I struggle with most.

I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that a few days ago I wanted to kill myself.

I was in extreme emotional pain, and everyday I was in physical pain too. I didn’t move off the couch. I cried, I slept a lot, I self-harmed and everything was a struggle.

Then the very next day I woke up, I leapt out of bed and began *doing* things. In one day I did three dog walks ranging from 45-60 minutes – I hadn’t managed a 15 minute dog walk a day prior to that!

I carried a heavy pet cage upstairs. I fed all the pets (something I hadn’t been able to do for weeks; my partner had taken over responsibility) and cleaned several cages. I went from struggling to get to the toilet to barely sitting still…in just 24 hours.

How can that happen?! And how are you supposed to be able to cope with that, or understand it?

Although I’m better off now, I’m still nowhere near okay, and I don’t want anyone reading this blog to think “well she’s fine now!”

I still have psychosis all the time. I am still planning to kill myself (don’t know how, don’t know when) because it is the only option – I KNOW this hypomania will turn into full-blown mania, and I also know there will be another horrific depressive episode following it.

My sleep is fucked (I’m nocturnal again…) and we can’t afford to let me spend any money – which I WILL want to do – because after the manic episode a month ago we still barely have any.

I can’t live like this.

But right now, with me hypomanic, this is as good as it ever gets with my illness, so I’ll enjoy it while I can 🙂

2

Ways I cope

With my last post being about self-harm, I thought I should talk about other ways I cope with shitty moods.

At some point most people will be advised by mental health professionals to do one / all of the following in order to cope with a variety of symptoms:

  • Colouring
  • Listen to music
  • Go for a walk
  • Socialise with friends
  • Exercise
  • Read
  • Do something crafty

While all those are nice ideas, professionals don’t seem to understand that when someone is feeling the worst they ever have…it’s impossible to do almost all of them, and the others are generally unhelpful. At least this is how it is for me.

The list of ‘ways to cope’ most social workers spew at me are helpful for when I’m not feeling that bad – probably a 3.5-4/10 on the mood scale – but any worse and they’re useless.

Today I wrote out lists of what activities might help me in various stages of ‘I feel like shit’

1st: I don’t feel too bad
~ colouring
~ reading
~ watch a movie
~ sit with a pet
~ eat junk food
~ watch my partner play a video game
~ bake
~ clean out a pet
~ draw
~ play a game

2nd = I feel Bad
~ blog
~draw
~ walk a dog
~ take a camera on a walk and snap photos of the world
~ listen to music
~ eat chocolate
~ look for random stuff on Pinterest

3rd =  I feel really bad
~ tickles (I love being tickled, it’s really calming for me, and I can also tickle myself)
~ read old blog posts
~ watch the fake jellyfish (see pic below)
~ listen to sad music
~ self-harm
~ see if Pinterest holds my interest

4th = This is the worst
~ self-harm
~ write out a list of my thoughts over and over and over (see pic below)
~ listen to sad music
~ just sit in the sensory corner and be

calm1

A little more about the sensory corner

This is a little corner of our little room where I have things to focus on / meddle with. When I’m at my worst I can’t concentrate on anything, so in this corner there’s a glitter lamp (like a lava lamp, but cheaper and filled with glitter!), one of those things you probably had as a kid where blobs run down a track, fake jellyfish that bob about in water, and a torch that projects dinosaurs onto the walls.

The torch is actually one of the most useful – not just because dinosaurs are cool, but because it provides something to fiddle with.

Most these products are targeted at very young children…but they can also work to soothe, distract and give me time to sort my head out. They’re great for focus. Sometimes they don’t work, sometimes they do. Worth a try.

calm

 

0

Hello old friend

**self-harm triggers, nothing graphic but treat yourselves gently**

Another really shit day today.

Had a moment on a walk with our youngest dog where I just tilted my head back, looked through the trees at the blue sky, and just enjoyed it. Gog asked what I was doing, and I said “Right now I feel like I’m actually enjoying this, so I’m making sure to remember it because I know it won’t last”.

It didn’t last, but it was nice right then, right there.

I self-harmed for the first time in a long time today, the last time I self-harmed was probably over a year ago.

I first self-harmed when I was about nine years old, and between ten and twenty I self-harmed fairly regularly…from banging my head against walls to cutting myself to breaking bones, I used it as a coping mechanism. Self-harm has never been an addictive or worrying behaviour for me, rather it’s a tool that – if I need it – I will use.

After about twenty I just didn’t seem to do it as much, maybe because around that age I started dating Gog…he’s a legend 🙂

I’ve never been particularly worried about my self-harm, and neither has Gog. He was scared by it at first, but over the years we’ve come to accept it for what it is – it’s helped us through some very tricky times.

Today I was filled with anger, alongside the low mood. I was literally trembling with rage, and I was getting really cross at Gog.

I’d say “I can’t do this anymore, this isn’t a life!” To which he’d respond “I know, you’re right”, and then I’d yell “Then how can you make me live?! This is mental torture!”

I spent several hours trying to work through it or find solutions…I tried colouring, listening to loud music, walking a dog, writing down how I feel, sitting with my rabbit, watching my new sensory things (I’ll post about these later), blogging, eating…nothing was helping at all. The anger was building and so was the desperation.

So I self-harmed.

I didn’t think it would help, the idea of it wasn’t comforting…then I did it and I feel so, SO much calmer. You cannot understand how much better I feel 🙂

I was at rock bottom…now I am not craving suicide, and I’m not hating the world. Am I depressed still? Oh yeah, everything is a huge struggle. But I am here, blogging, and I’m not crying with misery anymore.

A lot of people can’t understand self-harm. I know a lot of people who hurt themselves describe it as ‘an addiction’ – something that gets worse and they need to do it more and more. As I said, it’s never been like that for me. I will use it every now and then, when I need to, but it’s a last resort and I don’t mind it at all.

I’ve had friends and professionals tell me not to do it…most don’t listen to my explanations (I had one social worker that did, and then agreed for me it could be a useful coping mechanism), in fact they usually say “think of yourself in the future, having to hide your arm forever because of scars!”

Well, I’ve been doing that since I was 14 anyway! I learned early on that self-harming came with repercussions, namely never being able to wear short sleeves around anybody, no matter how hot the weather is.

I’ve managed that for a dozen years now and it’s fine – annoying, yes, but I can live with it.

It also helps that Gog is someone I am 100% comfortable with, and who I can wear short sleeves around. It’s nice to wear short sleeves sometimes 😉

15

A long day at A&E

This morning Gog phoned up the nearby mental health service that’s supposed to be treating me.

He said that he called 111 a few days ago, and was told that psychiatrists should be able to do home visits. Gog said we needed a home visit asap, because we are really, really struggling.

The receptionist said the duty professional would call us back and, three hours later, they did. They said they couldn’t do home visits (not enough staff) and the only reason they would do home visits was if they were sectioning someone.

Gog explained appts were too hard for us atm, and they had no suggestions. The duty professional did say she could get me sectioned, which he declined.

Gog then phoned 111, who were really, really good yet again.

The man said we needed to go to A&E, and they would prescribe us medication to help. He said he would send us an ambulance out, because travel was too stressful, but Gog declined as the thought panicked me a lot, and we said we’d get a taxi.

We got a taxi to hospital and checking in at reception was horrible – the receptionist was very cold and not at all understanding, she also kept asking my partner to speak up about what was wrong with me and why we were there…my partner was having to practically yell that I was struggling with suicidal thoughts, and the woman in the queue behind was standing really close and just staring at me, it was absolutely horrible.

We were told to go sit in the waiting room.

I was feeling terrible. I felt like I was going to vomit because I was so scared, and I was trembling. I felt like everybody else was staring at me and whispering about me, and the lights in the hospital were so bright I had a really bad headache.

We waited for three hours and weren’t even seen by the triage nurse.

The emergency room was virtually empty, just us and three other people, and everyone else came and went.

After over three hours, we were seen by the triage nurse. Gog spoke for me because I was far too panicked by that point, and she said we’d have to be seen by a Dr who would then get Crisis Team to come and see us.

I was so terrified and overwhelmed at that point I told my partner I wanted to go home, and he went and asked the triage nurse if we could go home and see CRHT there. She said we’d have to wait to see a Dr, and then we could go.

A while later a Dr took us into a room and said “you don’t need to tell me everything again, I know it gives you anxiety. I will just go phone Crisis Team and then I’ll come back and let you know what is going to happen”. We were in the room with the Dr for less than 30 seconds.

The Dr left us in the waiting room and, half an hour later, he still hadn’t reappeared.

I was completely done; I was stressed to the max, I wanted to cry and, as we’d been out almost five hours, I was getting increasingly stressed about our dogs.

My partner went to look for the Dr we’d just spoken with, to either ask what was going on or tell him we were leaving. He couldn’t find the Dr anywhere, and when he asked a nurse she told us to go check ourselves out at reception.

We went to the receptionist and said we wanted to leave; we gave my name, date of birth, and she said we could go. My partner called a taxi on the free phone,  we waited for it, got in, and set off home.

When we got back my partner had several missed calls on his phone and an answer phone message. Upon listening to it, it seemed the hospital had called the police on me.

They’d told the police that I had escaped and that I was a danger to myself and planning to kill myself. They had patrol cars out searching for me near the hospital, and had been told to bring me in to be sectioned.

After a hellish day when I was already feeling like utter shit, I had just begun to de-stress…the knowledge that the police were coming to section me obviously didn’t help with that.

I have never felt so stressed and desperate in all my life.

My partner phoned the police and said I was safe. They wanted to talk to me on the phone (I am terrified of talking on the phone, I have been since I was a child). The police then wanted to send officers around to come talk to me and check I was safe – again, needlessly stressful and held the threat of me being sectioned.

My partner explained that we were just eating our tea, we needed to walk our dogs, and I’d had a highly stressful day and did not need it making worse. He explained we had told the hospital we were leaving, we had been told it was fine, and we were there of our own accord. I am perfectly safe when he is with me.

The person on the other end said the sergeant would call us back in five minutes.

Twenty minutes came and went. I was sat on the stairs rocking and trying to remember to breathe amidst the panic. My partner phoned the police back and asked what was happening, because we really needed to walk our dogs.

After an agonising wait the person on the phone said the log was closed, they were happy I was safe, they had told the hospital so and said that they should contact us themselves if they want to.

We have wasted hours and hours trying to get help today. We spent £40 of money we don’t have on taxis there and back.

We were ignored for hours on end in A&E. Nobody told us how long our wait would be or what was happening. We were made to wait in the main waiting room, where it was busy and scary and I was very distressed. When we decided to leave they then set the police on me and told them I needed to be sectioned.

I’ve never felt so low and scared, or threatened by the NHS.

I am broken. I am stressed and scared. I am sat here crying.

I do not want to try and get professional help again…