Tag: recovery

The Yankee Candle Life Bomb

Sometimes Life thinks it is lighting a Yankee Candle… but really it is causing a major explosion. Oops!

The gang on my Facebook page said they’d like to see more of my original illustrations on both UDC and Facebook. So here we go.

This one is a bit symbolic of my life at the moment, things start okay or nice and then… boom. If there is anything that could go wrong it does. Hence the blog silence. BUT things are getting sorted slowly, which means when I’m up to writing a full blog post I’ll have lots to tell.

Mouse stands next to a small pile of explosives. ‘Life’, a character which looks like a blue and purple ghost, is standing next to Mouse. Mouse says: “Okay Life, if we stay very very still we might be okay.” In the next image Life is holding a pink candle in a jar and a lit match. “Yankee Candle?” Life asks. “No Life No!!!” Shouts mouse looking shocked. In the next image, after the inevitable explosion, blue and purple Life is lying on the floor looking forlorn. Mouse is standing looking at Life. Mouse says: “oh for crying out loud... let’s start again... “ Copyright Upside Down Chronicles

Thanks for reading 🐭x

I’m Twenty

Today I turn twenty. Most people will celebrate their 21st birthday as the major milestone, but I’m partying today. Well when I say ‘Partying’… I’m drinking tea and feeling grateful. Partying.

To put it bluntly: I’m here. My teenage years are over and I made it. I got through. I did it.

This may sound over dramatic, but there were times where it really was a close call. I was so ill that I was trying to end my life. It’s hard to look back, but I am proud of myself now, really bloomin’ proud. Ten year old me wouldn’t have been able to dream up all the things I am doing at the moment. I hit rock bottom, yes, but the only way to go from there is up. I live in fear that the lowest of low will return one day and I won’t be so lucky, but hitting the bottom of the pit turned out to be a catalyst for change.

I feel such relief. Relief that I wasn’t allowed to just die. I am so grateful to those who brushed the dirt from my face, inspired me and believed my life would change. They dreamed of what my life could be like when I couldn’t dream it for myself. They encouraged me no matter how many times I screamed at them to give up. I can’t thank these people enough. You saved me.

I don’t think anyone could call me mentally well, but it’s not terminal. My illnesses aren’t going to kill me anymore- I can think, do things and meet people.

The day I am editing this (may the 12th) is international nursing day. So from the bottom of my heart thank you to those nurses who gave friendliness along with professionalism. For the hours I’ve had them by my side and for the hours I’ve cried on their shoulders. I’ve met nurses who are unshakable: They can handle any combination of crises and chaos. They are rushed off their feet on busy wards but still pop in to check that you are okay. The best nurses I know give more than just medication, they give genuine love and care to patients.

Oh-See-Dee Irony… (a series of unfortunate paradoxes)

Through scrubbing my skin my hands become infected.

I was scrubbing at my hands in case they were infected.

I’m too scared to eat in case it makes me ill.

Then not eating makes me ill too.

I use hand gel to kill bacteria.

The gel cracks my skin and it’s infection prone.

I know my night meds make me feel better.

Yet when I take them I panic in case they kill me.

When the thing you use to stop freaking out gives you cause to freak out more; where do you turn?

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original image © UDC

And to think people think it is about being neat…

Please note: I am safe and okay. Just struggling a bit at the moment. I’m keen to keep the authenticity in this blog and after writing I decided to publish this in my ‘recovery notes’ area. Good news… crisis services (and services in general) are a lot better where I live now!

RECOVERY IS JUST A LOAD OF BALLS. METAPHORICALLY.

Seriously.

In French there is a saying: “le mieux est l’ennemi du bien”. Translation: The best is the enemy of the good. I can’t think of a phrase more truthful about mental health recovery.

The best is doing everything. In my head this is running around; getting top notch A Levels, spontaneously producing poetry and blog posts, finding somewhere great to live, learning more languages, pointing my finger at the government on Twitter and… Being healthy I guess. But if I’m honest my ideal doesn’t specifically contain being recovered. It’s just a fact that in order to achieve these things I would have to be. I haven’t achieved this basic requirement but I’m still going for it full throttle. Day in, day out I’m turning up to the tracks wearing pizza boxes on my feet and hoping to be Usaine Bolt. I’m tripping and falling and generally being stupid because, the truth is, recovery is a load of balls!

No, really.

You have to, like everyone else, juggle like crazy to catch all the things life throws at you. You didn’t learn to juggle properly so, inevitably and without warning, you lose control. You drop everything and have to start again.

The bit I need to get my head around is that no one learns to juggle with eight balls. They start with one and work their way up, dropping odd ones on the way but eventually getting into the rythmn of life. Of course you can stop juggling and put them all down: but that is your decision. You’re being strategic and stopping for a break before everything crashes down. After you’ve rested, eaten a few cheesy snacks and gulped a cup of tea you can start juggling again. Crisis averted.

I apologise for the long analogy. But recovery is a load of balls and I have to learn to juggle one way or another. It’s just deciding what takes priority. By trying to get the best am I missing what would actually be really, really good for me?

Brutal Murder in The Name of Cake

Today I was feeling rubbish. I was in my pyjamas sorting assorted stuff out; when a sinister friend surfaced from the storage boxes it had been skulking in. The set of portable scales that this time last year I was carrying around in my handbag like a soldier carries a bible. So I did to it what I intend to eventually do to my mental illness as a whole- brutally attack it with a hammer. My Dad filmed the occasion.

No apologies for the baggy jumper, lack of make up or PJs. It’s just one of those days.

The scales prior to the attack.
The scales prior to the attack.

From the Rubble I Can See the Stars

Today I’m in hibernation. My body says sleep and my legs say still and my head says no.

Over the last few months it has felt like I have been mentally burgled.  Everything that I thought was nailed down in my life has been dragged away and burnt to embers, leaving me sitting with the scuff marks on the ground.

The pursuit for housing seems to be going on forever and in the meantime I’m stuck in hospital. To understand all of the systems I am stumbling through I would need a degree. Everything seems to be set up for people with one disability or illness- any more and it turns into a clash of services and procedures.

Yesterday I had an unexpected blow. It broke me completely at first but if anything now I feel relieved. I say to myself “there is nothing to lose and everything to gain”. Again and again. Something will change. The only way from here is up. It’s stoked the fire for me to keep going. Well that’s the case at the moment anyway.

Bollocks to BPD

Diagnosis ain’t easy.

I first heard of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) at Heron. The psychiatrist there seemed to be trying to fill a ward quota of 25% of female patients being diagnosed with BPD. I wasn’t in that percent.

The next time I heard it I was sitting in my CPA meeting for professionals. My new psychiatrist reeled off my conditions and then the letters- B.P.D. After the meeting was over and myself and my key nurse were on our victory lap around the village I asked if she’d heard it too. She wasn’t sure.

I asked for confirmation when I saw the doctor next. He quickly drew a grid with numbers and the disorders I have come to know. Then there it was- BPD. He said something about how this is what he suspects my problem lies within- my Jabberwocky to fight.

“Personality disorders have a stigma to them.” He added. “But don’t worry, it’s not the one serial killers have.”

Looking it up on the Internet isn’t pleasant. People with BPD were clingy and unstable. All the stories I could find were negative. ‘WHERE ARE THE REAL PEOPLE?!’ I found myself mentally screaming. And I’m ashamed to say I didn’t want to make myself one of the few who spoke up. The stigma seemed huge. But if no one speaks up, who else will be scared into silence by this monster? I tentatively took my first move with my poem borderline and now this.

To make matters worse in my quest for information, symptoms listed on every website I searched seemed increasingly vague or scary. Out of desperation I hit the books and surfaced with “Sometimes I Act Crazy“. Which gave me the broadest picture of the disorder and those living with it. I would highly recommend it for anyone else scared away by the Internet.

I think the description of BPD on rethink is the best:

  • “Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can mean that you are prone to strong emotions, mood swings and feelings you can’t cope with easily and may feel distressed a lot of the time.
  • Around 1 in 100 people have BPD.
  • There may be different reasons why someone develops BPD.
  • There are a number of different approaches to treating BPD, most of which include different types of one-to-one and group talking therapies.
  • Complications can arise if you have BPD, including problems with substance misuse and self-harm.”

It’s still vague; but every warrior is different. The thing with mental illness diagnosis is that it says more about your past than your future. My brain developed a little different. I see and hear things you can’t. My moods swing in ways you can’t predict. But whatever it says about me now, or me then, I am going to have CONQUERED my Jabberwocky soon. Just you wait. It doesn’t matter what it’s name is. If it is one disorder or three. It’s going down.

And then I will stand in the street; in the rain, in bare feet and scream at the top of my lungs: 

“I made it!!”

And I don’t care who hears me. 

 

Because I’m getting out alive.  

It’s Not the Destination, It’s the Journey- An Imaginary Parents Evening.

Today I managed to go on some unescorted leave. It was sunny and subsaharan on the unit because the heating seems to be permanently on full. To say I was desperate to get out is an understatement and in my rush of excitement to go outside I forgot that I don’t know the local area at all. So armed with a very tiny map that I didn’t want to admit I couldn’t read; off I went. A member of staff had marked onto the map in red felt tip a short and simple route to the church and back.

It turns out that there are two churches in the vicinity of the hospital-and of course I initially went to the wrong one which was in completely the wrong direction. I asked for directions from an elderly lady who, after telling me how brave I am for:
a) being blind
b) existing
told me to follow the road until I came across a ‘horsey smell’. Sadly she declined my request for conventional directions. So myself and Noodle stumbled around trying to follow our noses to a smell that never came.

It took about an hour for me to find myself stuck in the graveyard of the church I had initially been looking for. Unable to find my way out of said graveyard and no one live to ask for directions I stumbled into what I thought was a big green field. There appeared to be dogs running around so I let Noodle go for a frolic while I tried to work out where we were and how we could get back.

Splash. A shallow river made itself known and Noodle in all her wisdom decided to swim alongside me as I paced the bank. Still lost I asked a woman for directions to ‘the school’ -which would then point me in the right direction for the unit. She decided to walk me there instead.

“Is there anything on at the school?” She asked as we walked.
“Yeah…” I say accidentally, having just realised that we are at the wrong school and that I’m completely lost. Why did this village insist on having two of everything?
“What’s on?” She asked.
“Parents evening.” I responded. I really don’t know why but that was the first thought in my head. I knew instantly how stupid this sounded but felt too paralysed with awkwardness to do anything. I felt like I had dived into a shark tank of social tension.
“On a bank holiday?” She asked with a slight tone of disbelief, clearly thinking that I am deranged or mourning some imaginary child who attended this school.
I mumbled something along the lines of “yes isn’t it ridiculous” as I kicked myself silently for putting myself in this mess. She eventually left me at the derelict school.

I must have walked miles around the village today because I have never been so completely lost in my life. But I couldn’t have been happier.

My life is bonkers sometimes but I do completely love it. There are many things worse than being lost on a sunny day with my furry colleague. Even if she does decide to go for a dive. I really do need to work on the awkwardness thing though…

I suppose I could use a cheesy recovery quote at this point: “It’s not the destination it’s the journey” etcetera etcetera. But don’t worry. I won’t.

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I Got Reported Missing

I don’t think when *Cheery Lodge accepted a blind kid and her dog that they expected the duo to be a major abscondssion risk. But- always smashing assumptions, I proved them wrong.

My escape wasn’t cleverly planned, or even remotely smart. In fact I didn’t even escape- I was already out on leave. I don’t want to go into the details of why I ran but something had snapped inside of me.

I’ve talked about my problems with Dissociation before, but at the moment it has hit an all time high. I’m finding I lose a lot of time with no memory of what I have done. I drift away and it is incredibly hard to drift back. I’m lucky that my psychiatrist is really on the ball with this kind of thing, he is helping me understand why it happens and helping me get to a more stable place mentally. This will hopefully limit it’s effect on me. Annoyingly I can’t be discharged from hospital until my mind is fully and consciously in control of my body at all times.

It’s because of this that I don’t remember the build up. I don’t remember how fast I ran or if people were shouting me. It’s like when the cinema screen fades to black. When I came back to my body I had no idea where I was apart from it being green and very, very quiet. My phone was dead and even the ever-knowing Noodle had no idea where we were.

Eventually I found what sounded like a sports field. Cars were coming in and out of a concrete area and the sound of whistles and footballs being kicked was nearby.

“Are you okay?” Says a woman.

“No” I reply in tears. “I’ve run away from a hospital”

“What kind of hospital? Who’s dog is this? Where’s the dog from?” She suddenly developed a harsh and panicked tone.

“I can’t see very well.” I mumbled. And then I ran.

Finally I found my way to a road where, what are the chances, the unit manager caught sight of me from her car on her way home. The police had been out looking for me and staff from the unit had been driving round the area all afternoon. It was accepted that the reason I hadn’t been found was that I was in some kind of woodland away from any streets or roads.

When I turned my phone on I had the following text:

a text message reads not protectively marked. you have been reported missing. please ring the police on 101 to let us know you are ok

I also had a similar answer phone message. For some reason I didn’t think the police did things like message missing people. ‘Reported missing’ sounds so scary, it shocked me to read. To me I had just been lost. But I suppose my lost is everyone else’s missing patient.

Turns out that the lady I spoke to works at the local vets practice. They were contacted the following day about getting Noodle a routine check up and the receptionist said that one of the partners had mentioned seeing a distressed girl and a Labrador that could have been a guide dog. It makes me laugh that this made worthy news to tell her colleagues but not the local police!

My disappearance was in no way as dramatic as some of the ones I have witnessed whilst in hospital. I just got lost. I’ve been put on a higher observation level and I’m not allowed out without a member of staff. I feel quite sad about this, but I guess I’m just too ill at the moment.

I’m not proud of that day. But this blog is my story, and I want people to know just how powerful the brain is and how a problem in the brain can affect people.

A Break from Your Routine.

Quote: sometimes a break from your routine is the very thing you need.

This week I am away at Summer Theatre School. I am hoping that the break from routine will help me not to feel quite so rubbish for a while. The heat is incredible- it is almost like being abroad. I’m going to take my blog ‘annual leave’ and won’t post until the first week in August now. By then I will hopefully have lots of stories to tell, maybe even enough to fill in all the gaps from my time away!

Monday Mantra: Take some time out now and again,