Hello, it’s me | Returning to the Blog

Hello and welcome to the re-launch of my blog.

My blog has been neglected since Summer 2014. There are many reasons for this; namely the past year has been the hardest of my life, and as such I didn’t even have the strength or capacity to blog about it. Additionally the nature of a lot of my pain was very unique and new to me. Alongside two of the worst bouts of depressions of my life (one of which nearly ended in hospitalisation – Summer ’14 – and the other which lead to being diagnosed as Bipolar again and putting on Lithium, Diazepam and sleeping tablets – Spring ’15), I also lost my cat (who has featured heavily on this blog, and was a huge source of self-care for me), and, most importantly, one of the most significant and special men in my life; my grandpa, the first grandparent I have lost and indeed the first truly devastating loss I’ve experienced (I know I am incredibly lucky in one sense, for being so sheltered thus far, but in another sense, I didn’t just lose a grandpa, I lost a genuine friend, a friendship built upon adult interests, and mature emotional insights).

I know many people have applauded me in the past for being so open online; for saying it how it is, and for exposing truths that most would rather shy away from. However this year I couldn’t bear to fill the internet with posts that were wholly negative in character, posts which couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I went to extremely dark places in 2015, places I hope never to return to. I was suicidal, self harming again, and felt totally alone. I despaired about my career choices; I regretted my decision to go to drama school (something I now feel much happier about), I couldn’t bear the thought of living in London, but equally felt incredibly stifled and lost living at home. I didn’t know what else to do with myself, and applied back to Cambridge on a whim, thinking I would never in a million years get in. I despaired that I had no relevant work experience as all my undergrad holidays had been devoted to theatre.  I had a place to begin Teach First in September ’15, but had to drop out because I was too unwell and fatigued to begin the training programme. I was too ill to work a ‘regular’ day job, and thus wasn’t financially independent. I lost interest in everything, and spent days lying in bed, too tired and depressed to even put netflix on. I was suffering the repercussions of my 3 stone weight gain in 2014 (from medication that was wrongly prescribed to me). I felt lethargic and unmotivated and lost all self-confidence. I was suffering with adult acne, and trying creams, and tablets to deal with it. I was sick from the lithium, and the sleeping tablets were having no effects. I had two severe bouts of food poisoning whilst travelling, which resulted in permanent, and painful IBS, which is turn also led to very painful haemorrhoids (just being honest). My trip of a lifetime was marred by constant IBS, food poisoning, severe anxiety and insomnia, and 2nd degree burns to my face, as well as repercussions of medication (antipsyhotic) withdrawal a week before departing. It was also a worrying time for my family; my grandpa passed away from cancer a mere 9 weeks after being diagnosed (after returning from Asia, I had 4 incredibly heartbreaking weeks with him, despite being told he had 1-2 years left to live),my dad had lost his right hand man at work (grandpa), and my mum had lost one of the most important men in her life, my other grandad had a small skin cancer removed from his face, and my sister struggled with anxiety and severe tinnitus (resulting in MRI scans, and a very stressful period).

I am not saying any of this for pity. Life sucks. We all know that. And unfortunately sometimes it all comes at once, but we tend to do the British thing of  ‘stiff upper lip’. I know I did. I told bits and bobs to people, my friends were very supportive, but I never painted the whole picture… not for anyone.  Nobody knew that when I was nursing and helping my grandpa each day (parents were at work, and Liv sometimes at uni), I was severely suicidal because of my Bipolar, but I kept smiling, and never once let my grandpa see that I was upset and hurting. This became increasingly difficult when I realised the 1-2 years wasn’t going to happen.. that he was in fact getting sicker. Nothing can prepare you for watching a loved one slowly die in front of you. Each day he got weaker and weaker until eventually he couldn’t leave his bed. But we never left his side. We kept caring for him until the moment he took his last breath, which, we were all there for.

But this is where the new blog comes in. I don’t want my blog to just be about the bad stuff. I want to recognise the good can come from shit. It’s almost impossible to see good in death. But I must be thankful that my grandpa didn’t suffer for too long. He wasn’t in a lot of pain, and he got to die at home as he wanted. The NHS doctors were incredible and the hospice (from home team) were incredible (and this actually resulted in my volunteering for the hospice in the Summer, and helping out at their fundraising events). I must also be thankful that grief and hurt can bring families closer together. We spent a lot of time together over that period and are a stronger unit as a result. My friends were also amazing throughout.

And same with my own life, I can feel depressed one day, or for a couple of weeks, and then something can switch and I can feel good again. I want to make those switches more regular. Do little things to improve my wellbeing each day – whether it be buying a nice new candle, or going for a jog in the fresh Winter air, or reconnecting with an old friend, or having a good old sing. And just generally try and see little positives in shit times, because there is always something to be thankful for.

Also a quick thank-you to everyone who has been asking about my blog for the last year and where I had got to and for giving me that extra nudge to re-start it.

I hope to write many more blogs and help many more people.

 

R x

 

MORE ABOUT MY BLOG IF YOU ARE NEW:

A twenty-something year old Masters student living in Cambridge, suffering, like 1/4 of the population, with a mental health disorder. I am living with Bipolar Disorder, and will probably have it for the rest of my life. However it does not define me, and I hope to show that life doesn’t have to be on hold but can still be lived. I am reclaiming the equilibrium in my life through self-care, medication, and being open with people around me.

I write my blog to help me and to help you, my readers, whether you’re a fellow sufferer or a friend or family member seeking to understand.

I mostly write what’s on my mind in the moment, or sometimes slightly longer, more composed pieces on particular broader topics, such as ‘loneliness’, and ‘suicide’.

I do hope my little blog helps you in some way.

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Side Effects | Weight Gain

I have tried to start this blog several times. Nothing really felt right. So in the end I have decided to start by telling you that I don’t know how to start. I am struggling with setting the tone. I don’t want this blog to be simply me moaning about the unfortunate side effects of my medication, or me apologizing or excusing myself for the way I look. 

 

I think it would be naïve of me to assume that nobody has discussed my weight gain. We (a generic we here) don’t intentionally sit around to talk about other people, but sometimes someone will pop up in conversation and someone will comment, ‘Ooh they’re looking really good at the moment’, or ‘They’ve let themselves go a bit haven’t they?’ or ‘They look so much better now’ or ‘What’s happened to her?’ We all do it (if you don’t then you’re a saint, well done).

 

I know a bit of weight gain isn’t the end of the world. It can be lost again. It can be fixed. But it has really knocked my confidence and I feel ready to share my experience with my blog readers, many of whom know me in real life and have probably noticed a shift in my appearance.

 

In January I started taking Quitiapine, a pretty strong antipsychotic for Bipolar disorder ( According to the Internet: Quetiapine is used to relieve the symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other similar mental health problems. Bipolar disorder is a long-term condition where you have periods of depression (lows) and periods of mania (highs). Quetiapine will help keep your mood within normal limits.)

They told me weight gain was probable but I didn’t really take these warnings seriously; how can a tiny tablet make you put on weight? I was determined to be one of the lucky ones, one of the ones who got away with only a couple of lb if that. I was still at drama school so taking part in four 1 1/2 hour dance classes a week. On top of this I decided to get the couch to 5k app on my phone and started running 3 times a week. Now I didn’t restrict my diet massively but I was certainly careful (I even gave up mini eggs for the whole of Lent; If you know me personally then you know this is a really big deal). More recently I signed up to a 10k run and so have upped my training (I try to run every couple of days and walk every day). Despite my best efforts I have gained nearly 2 stone since January. Yes. 2 whole stone. That’s a lot right?

 

I asked the mental health twitter community about their experiences with Quitiapine and everybody responded in the same way. Every person who replied to my enquiry said they had gained weight (anywhere from 1 stone to 3 stone). Phew I thought, it isn’t just me. However there is a difference between me and (most of) the people I questioned. Quitiapine seems to do something for them. Seems to work effectively. Unfortunately I haven’t really felt different since taking the drug. Since January I have had 2 major depressive episodes and one rather long hypomanic episode. Where was the Quitiapine when I needed it? Rather than concluding that Quitiapine wasn’t the drug for me, my doctors just upped my dose (cue dejavu of when I was taking Prozac). It’s only last week that I decided to take the matter into my own hands. I went to a new GP and asked him to supervise the reduction of my Quitiapine dose. I am seeing a Psychiatrist at the end of September so hopefully by then I will be Quitiapine free and a blank canvas for any new medication they want to throw at me.

 

Side effects are such difficult little monkeys. Some people are adamant that without certain drugs they wouldn’t be able to function and thus weight gain, dry mouth, nausea etc. are completely worth it. However for me, in the case of this particular drug, the side effects just weren’t worth it. The weight gain has made me feel so bloody depressed that any positives of the medication have been cancelled out anyway.

 

Unfortunately finding the right medication can be a long hard slog and you need the support of your doctor and psychiatrist in order to discover the correct cocktail for you; two things I don’t have. I’m hoping that by Christmas my health care will be more settled; I will have hopefully decided on my new permanent location (Bolton, Manchester, London or Cambridge are contesters at the moment.)

 

I think this whole experience has really opened my eyes to the power of medication and the very realness of side effects. In my youthful, more ignorant days, I would sometimes question the huge weight gain caused by medications such as steroids. Surely the person could just do some more exercise and eat better to combat the side effects? It simply does’t work that way. 

 

There is a very real chemical change inside you which slows down your metabolism. In addition to this your appetite is increased and your muscles feel fatigued and heavy making exercise way less appealing. I have spoken to some people who take Quitiapine who say that they wouldn’t dream of going to the gym because their limbs feel so heavy. After the first morning of increasing my dose I struggled to walk to the bathroom. My body felt limp and out of my control. Since then I have really struggled to train on certain days. If I take my Quitiapine too late at night I can find myself fatigued until around lunchtime.

 

I suppose this blog carries a message. Try not to judge people for the way they look, especially if they are taking medication. Don’t bitch about someone’s weight. Why does it matter? Seriously. It doesn’t affect you at all. Side effects are very real and can be very difficult to deal with; sometimes just as difficult as the illness they are trying to fight (I know some people who take extra medication to treat the side effects of their initial medication.) It can be very difficult, especially in a society that can be so harsh and judging. Because of the stigma attached to side effects and their authenticity I have felt very embarrassed about my weight gain and try to make light of it in social situations but inside I am really hurting. I need to learn to not feel guilty about what has happened. Accept it. And do whatever I can to rectify the change. 

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Mental Health and Loneliness | A blog for MIND

i’ve blogged about this before, but I was asked by MIND if I’d like to do a blog for them, and I decided to re-work/ re-write my blog on loneliness. It’s a subject very close to my heart as I find loneliness to be one of the most difficult emotional responses to deal with, and one of the most poignant symptoms of my depression.

I think this is a particularly difficult subject to tackle, because, as with so many aspects of mental illness, loneliness can be a difficult feeling to describe, particularly because, as a lot of you will understand, I am not physically lonely or isolated. I have just completed an MA on a very intense, full time course. I was surrounded by people 9-6 during college contact hours and then spent my evenings in the company of my flat mates. I am thus, according to logic, anything but lonely. However loneliness for me takes on a different meaning.

I feel isolated and lonely in my struggles with a mental illness. Now don’t get me wrong; I know the facts. I know 1 in 4 people suffer with a mental illness. However when you are in the depths of a depression you forget this; you think you’re the only one battling dark emotions.

I have identified two main, prevailing reasons as to why I feel this way. Firstly it is very difficult for those who don’t suffer from a mental health condition to understand/ empathise with how you are feeling. Sympathise they may do. But empathy and true understanding can only come, I believe, with experience, or some very intense/ very good training! Friends and acquaintances have tried to offer me advice and kind words, but their words often have the opposite effect. I have heard the classics ‘pull yourself together’, ‘put things into perspective’ and ‘stop being dramatic’ on countless occasions.

You can go part of the way to remedying this predicament by explaining to people how you feel. This is where I fall short, and this leads me onto the second reason for my persistent feelings of loneliness: I find it very difficult to talk face to face with people about how I am feeling. I come across fairly eloquently on my blog, twitter and facebook accounts (where I passionately discuss mental illness and my experiences of bipolar, depression and borderline personality disorder). But having face-to-face conversations about my mental health causes me to feel embarrassed, insecure and awkward. This is where loneliness kicks in. When people ask probing questions I turn away, brushing off inquiries with the usual ‘I’m fine’.

Because I have been let down in the past by so many people, I am scared of letting anyone new, or indeed old, in. I push people away. I’ve created walls, formed to provide protection against the world. I even push older friends and family away. If someone isn’t close to me emotionally then they can’t let me down. Unfortunately I have ended up pushing almost everybody away. I am lonely because I can’t let anyone get near me. I am scared that they won’t understand. And these fears are somewhat founded in truth. On the whole people haven’t been able to understand my illness. In the past this has led to break-ups, arguments, bullying etc. At school girls would tell me that I was ‘making up my depression’, that I was ‘putting it on for attention’, and that my ‘panic attacks weren’t real’. These words have left deeper wounds than my self-harming. I am still anxious about getting similar reactions.

I have been driven to believe that if I cannot help myself then obviously nobody else is going to be able to help me. I shut myself off from exterior interference, sure that if I could just have a moments peace with myself that I would be able to sort out what is going on in my head. This hasn’t happened so far. In fact being alone has seemingly only served to worsen my problems. I am resenting the fact that I have made myself emotionally distant and unavailable to my friends. I have imposed this loneliness on myself in some respects; it is a never-ending cycle of self-doubt and blame.

A lot of the problem is that I don’t believe I can get better and therefore I resent people who try to help me. I’d rather be alone with my problems.

However I have started blogging regularly about how I am feeling. It’s a way of letting people in; albeit slowly and from a distance. Maybe it is something you could try if you are feeling isolated? The online community has been a huge comfort to me in times of doubt, despair and depression.

I think it’s important to recognize the fact that even if someone is surrounded by people, they may be feeling completely cut-off and isolated emotionally. Even sending a text could help alleviate these feelings.

 

 

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Time for Change | Dying my Hair

I recently dyed my hair brown for my upcoming final performance of ‘Little Women’. I am playing Marmee, and the costume designer joked with me that they didn’t have hair bleach in those days. I decided to take the plunge and dye my hair brown. 

Now, as well as looking more suitable for the role, dying my hair has had an unexpectedly positive effect on my mood. I think it’s something about  change. I am quite a creature of habit, and like things to be just so. I know what I like and am sometimes nervous to experiment, especially when I am not feeling emotionally 100% stable. 

My new hair has given me a new confidence. I feel excited about the change. Even though hair colour/ style is just a vanity, it is still nice to feel good about yourself on the outside. And even though it is just a small change in the long run, it has provided me with a temporary distraction. 

Anyway the main message of this mini blog post is to try new things. It’s exciting and distracting. And no harm to anyone else. 

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Therapy | Last session with current therapist

I have been in and out of therapy for years, but have recently come to the end of my most recent stint. I have been seeing a therapist in London since January, and because of my upcoming show, and her holiday dates we had our final session last week. I hadn’t really thought about the end of our meetings, and found myself slightly emotional at our last session. It seemed to come around so quickly. 

In the past I have seen psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists. My most recent therapist was a humanistic psychotherapist. The humanistic approach entails finding our inner resources and potential in order to face challenges and develop. It’s about developing greater awareness about yourself and increasing the possibility of positive change. 

So, yeah. Humanistic psychotherapist. 

To be honest I don’t know how useful therapy was for me. I think it was good to have a regular meeting with someone where I could unload and vent. But I don’t think that I learned a great deal, and I don’t really feel better equipped to tackle the world. 

The success of a therapy session is so dependent on the relationship between you and the therapist. I certainly liked my therapist. She was lovely. But I think I respond better to someone with a heavier hand. She was a bit too nice, and relied too heavily on the Freudian method of letting me do all the talking. There was often huge periods of silence, where she waited for me to make the next move. I’d rather have someone who was more front-footed and active in their approach. My therapist’s relaxed approach left me feeling, on occasion, that certain sessions were a complete waste of time. Sometimes I thought that I might as well have talked to myself for an hour, rather than paying £55 to talk to a nice lady. 

I think the most successful part of my time with this therapist was the fact that she was often able to change and rearrange my appointments depending on my mood. I called her several times in crisis and she fitted me in that night. She was able to provide me with a sense of security. My parents have been travelling a lot this year, and I haven’t felt as secure in London, particularly as I haven’t had  a reliable GP, so it was comforting to know my therapist was on the other end of the phone. 

I’m not sure what I am going to do about finding a new therapist when I move back to Cambridge. I am being re-assessed by a psychiatrist in September, so I am probably going to wait until that appointment, and see what she recommends. It is very likely that my medication will change, and in addition I will be back with my old GP, who will see my regularly, and so therapy might not be needed.  

I now however have a better understanding about the importance of finding the right therapist. My therapist was lovely, but probably not the best therapist for me. She was there to support me, but I haven’t actually got any better, in fact I have probably got worse. I just spoke about my problems, rather than finding solutions for them or developing the inner resources to cope with them. 

 

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Two very special people | My parents

There are two very special people in my life who I haven’t spoken about nearly enough in this blog. They are Sue and Chris Brown, my amazing parents.

I think sometimes it is difficult to remember what is good in your life. I’m sure everyone, mental illness or not, would admit that from time to time they tend to wallow in negatives and forget to count the positives. Having a mental illness makes this even harder. I have written a blog about the contradictory effects of saying things like ‘think of the positives’. Mantras like this can exacerbate feelings of guilt, isolation and worthlessness in those with a mental illness. I certainly still stand by this. Telling someone to look for positives when they are in the midst of a deep depression is patronising and unhelpful.

But today I want to celebrate the two most important positives in my life: my parents.

I often give them a hard time for not understanding me and my illness. In retrospect I can see that they were (and are) trying their best to understand my ‘highly complex’ mental illness. It’s even hard for me to understand; it feels like I am given a new diagnosis every week, I am constantly seeing new doctors and psychiatrists, I am passed from Complex Care Teams to Home Treatment Teams (what’s the difference?!), and I’m always taking new medication, or the same medication but different doses! It’s also very difficult to keep up with my moods. I am often a rapid cycler (whether this means I am Borderline or Cyclothymic they don’t know), though recently my cycles have become much longer (2 month high, followed by a 3 month depression for example). Sometimes I like to talk about my illness; sometimes I avoid talking like the plague. Sometimes I am positive about my recovery; sometimes I wail down the phone, saying that I am never going to recover.

Basically I am hard work.

Simply they are amazing.

Recently my parents have absolutely outdone themselves. A combination of reasons and factors have led me to feeling very uncomfortable in my current living circumstances, as those of you who follow me on twitter will know. I told my mum I was very unhappy, and that if I couldn’t find somewhere else to live I would consider walking out on my course. Firstly, I am sorry for being so demanding mum and dad. But secondly, thanks so much for listening to me and understanding the severity of my feelings.

Mum found and organised somewhere else for me to live for the last 5/6 weeks of my course. It is a lovely student accommodation complex. I have my own en-suite bedroom and there are some great communal areas (including a gym!) Best of all it is clean!

This blog is slightly rambley, but what I am trying to say is Thank-you to my mum and dad. Some people may think I am spoilt. But what does spoilt mean? Being ungrateful? I am certainly grateful for everything my parents do , and try to let them know/ show them this as much as possible. I love my parents. We have a wonderful relationship. They are my best friends. They work extremely hard; long hours and highly stressful at times. I am so proud of all the work they do. Yes, they work hard so they can enjoy nice holidays, but they also work this hard so that my sister and I are afforded so many opportunities. I wouldn’t have been able to have done my MA in London if my parents hadn’t supported me, and I wouldn’t have been able to make this move for the last weeks of my term.

But don’t get me wrong. I am not just thanking my parents for their financial support. I am thanking them for their never-wavering emotional support. They are always on the other end of the phone; always willing to drive to London to see me (unless they are sunning themselves somewhere exotic!) They are kind and caring and just wonderful.

So mum and dad: I love you and thank-you.

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Things not to say to a Suicidal Person

As you all know I have been feeling very low over the past couple of weeks. There was even talk of admitting me into a mental hospital. I tried my best to avoid this path as I wanted to try and complete my Masters. I am still not sure about my fate (in terms of studying); whether I will complete my Masters or not.

I thought I would turn my negative experiences into a useful exercise. I have compiled a provisional list of things that I have heard, either from friends and family or over social media (not always directed at me, but general comments); things that shouldn’t, in my humble opinion, be said to a suicidal person. I’ve left this blog open and will be sure to add to it if and when new comments are directed either my way, or in the direction of others. Similarly if you’d like to contribute to this list please do let me know – I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences. 

Things not to say to a Suicidal Person

1. Just put things into perspective. Put what into perspective? The fact that my suffering is no where near as bad as others? Asking someone to put things into perspective is asking them to compare their pain to someone else’s. Comparing is alway bad news. When I think about the awful pain and suffering in the world, I don’t suddenly feel fortunate to be in my position: I feel worse. I feel guilty that I should be so unhappy when my life is so fortunate and full of positive things. This guilt feeds the voices that tell me I am not worth it. Comments like this make me feel like an awful person. A selfish person. 

2. Think of your family. Oh if only you knew. My family are the reason I am alive today. The reason I haven’t killed myself during my major depressive episodes. However sometimes you get so deep that you can’t even remember how much your family love you. Or your self-esteem is so low that you start to believe your family would be better off without you. 

3. Have you thought about the consequences? Of course I have. Thinking about the consequences drives me insane. I think about how awful it would be to leave my family behind. I think about friends that have been touched by suicide. I think about how it tore their lives apart. I think about my sister, my mum, dad, grandparents and friends. I think about how devastated they would be. Thinking about how selfish the act would be just depresses me further. I hate myself for what I could do to my loved ones. I hate myself for even entertaining the notion of suicide. What am I ? What have I become?

4. There are so many positive things going on in your life right now. This is true. But this is also why it is so hard. Far back in the dustier regions of my brain lives a highly logical and practical person. This person can look at the situation without emotional attachment and see that there are lots of good and exciting things happening at the moment. However the dark depression which is seeping into every other part of my brain sucks the joy from everything it touches. It creates a film; like cling film. Everything is seen from behind this warped piece of plastic. You try your hardest to blink and see past the film; but it’s too strong. It even frosts up sometimes; this is when you can’t see anything worth living for. Life looks bleak. You can see a point in living, in plaguing the planet with your existence. 

5. You don’t even know what it feels like to experience ‘real’ adult problems.  Ok, I haven’t experienced the stress of bringing up a family, or the intense competitiveness of the business world, or the ruthlessness of the property market, but I have had depression. Depression is not linked completely to situations and circumstance. It is very often chemical. You can feel depressed when everything in your life is going well. It is an illness. Just like any physical illness it can strike at any time. It isn’t nice. And it isn’t made up. The pain is real and deep. We don’t have the vocabulary to describe how painful a depression can be. Those with depression resort to metaphor to describe how bad it is; “it feels like you are drowning…except you can see everyone around you breathing.” It’s REAL pain. It’s anguish. It’s not knowing why. It’s not being able to help yourself or resort to any quick-fixes. It effects your whole body, not just your brain. You can feel lethargy, pain in your limbs and tremors from anxiety. Please don’t belittle depression, or try to pass it off as a ‘phase’. It is serious, and most definitely a ‘real’ problem. 

6. You’ll feel differently tomorrow. Yes, you know what, I might feel differently tomorrow. But that doesn’t diminish the amount of physical and mental pain I am currently in. Also when you are in a suicidal state you can only think of the here and now. The future holds no sway. Thinking about tomorrow is meaningless. Pointless. 

7. You’re just attention seeking. ‘Just’ attention seeking? The ‘just’ is so judgemental. And yes. I probably am attention seeking. But is this so bad? If you were in acute physical pain you would ask for help; you would ask to be taken to the hospital or doctor, you would ask for painkillers. There’s such a taboo around asking for help when you are in acute mental pain. A lot of the time people think that the only way that their illness will be taken seriously is if they do something drastic like make a suicide attempt. A suicide attempt says, ‘Help me! I am in pain. Please don’t ignore my pain’. Rather than calling someone attention seeking you should calmly acknowledge and validate their feelings. 

8. You’re too young to go. Time doesn’t matter when you have depression. The pain overrides any notion of time. It doesn’t care how old you are, or whether you’ve got ‘more to offer’. If all you have experienced for the last few years is depression then you are unlikely to have any confidence in the future. For the past 5 years I have been passed from doctor to doctor; service to service, and still haven’t received the help I need or deserve. I already fell like 5 years of suffering is enough for me. Imagining the rest of my life in this state of mental anguish only makes me want to die more. 

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Charity| I’m running a 10k for MIND

 

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I might have mentioned this in a previous blog, but I thought I would do a proper blog on it now. I have previously done a blog about the Couch to 5K challenge. As a consequence of starting this challenge I set myself the goal of running a 5k for charity. However I decided that running a 5k wasn’t challenging enough and so I signed up to do a 10k! This is a huge challenge for me, as before I started the Couch to 5k app I couldn’t even run for more than one minute without walking!

I have almost finished the Couch to 5k app and actually ran 5k last night! I am so pleased with my progress, but I know there’s a lot of hard work to do before I can run 10k.

I have signed up to ‘Run to the Beat’, which is in London on the 14th September, and I have decided to raise money for MIND charity. There are so many charities, but I particularly admire the work of SANE and MIND. I have been able to blog and write for SANE so chose to support MIND on this occasion.

MIND provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. Their website can be found here:

http://www.mind.org.uk

 If you’d like to support me my JustGiving page is here:

https://www.justgiving.com/RosieJaneBrown

I am currently struggling to get past the 5k mark, so would love some sponsors to keep me motivated. I’ll keep you all updated about my training and progress (probably mostly on twitter – @fighting_stigma)

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Ultimatum| Mental Hospital or Grandparents

As you all probably know I had a fantastic GP in Cambridge and a pretty bad one currently in London. I have been struggling lately and so decided to give my old GP a visit when I went to visit Cambridge last week. I registered as a visitor and was given an appointment; unfortunately my super GP was off, but I was able to get an appointment with another equally good GP (Dr H), who I had seen previously and who had some idea of my situation.

Dr H was very concerned about my well being and, without hearing my views on the topic, said my symptoms were scarily bipolar. I explained what had gone on with the Complex Care team ; that they had diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder, despite my clearly Bipolar symptoms. I expressed my frustration at the fact that the psychiatrist didn’t consider that I might have both Bipolar and Borderline (as psychiatrists in the past have questioned).

Dr H said that she didn’t feel comfortable in letting me go. She said she would need to call the hospital unless I could prove that I was going somewhere safe. I explained that my parents were in Italy, my sister was in Thailand, and that I was living in student accommodation in London. In the end we agreed that I would go and stay with my gran in the West Country.

My gran and grandad drove from Bath to Cambridge the next day to collect me. The thought of travelling on public transport was making me feel sick with anxiety, but I didn’t even need to tell them this; they volunteered to collect me.

I am writing this blog in retrospect; I didn’t have my laptop with me. I’ve been back in London for a few days now. I am finding it very difficult indeed. I was given the whole week off by my course leader who has been very supportive; but I have spent my days feeling depressed and suicidal.

I went back to Cambridge on Weds/Thurs to see my friend in hospital and to see my other friends graduate. I managed to get an appointment with my actual GP (Dr L). She was also very concerned but admitted that her hands were tied until I moved to Cambridge; she needed a Cambridge address to start processing appointments. However she said she would be there to help me the moment I moved to Cambridge.

It’s now the weekend and I have spent the last two nights here in London. I have called the Home Treatment Team and explained my situation; I don’t feel safe, I’ve been having suicidal thoughts and I have begun to self-harm again. Hopefully they will be able to provide some support. I have managed to stupidly isolate myself from all my friends/ housemates; I pushed them away; scared of their rejection and misunderstanding. I am now feeling very alone and incredibly eager to move out of London, back to Cambridge, where I belong.

 

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VIDEO | A Vlog on Loneliness | Blog to Vlog Series

I have decided to do a little video series where I make a video ‘version’ of my most popular blogs. First in the series is this video on ‘loneliness’. I got a great response when I posted my blog back in February. I hope that you enjoy hearing the blog in video form – I have elaborated on certain parts and provided new examples and experiences.

Here is the original blog if you’re interested –>

https://reclaimingequilibrium.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/a-blog-on-loneliness-i-talk-to-myself-and-look-at-the-dark-trees-blessedly-neutral-so-much-easier-than-facing-people-than-having-to-look-happy-invulnerable-clever-sylvia-plath/

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June 13, 2014 · 3:43 pm