Archive for the ‘cancer’ Category

The policeman is your friend (unless you’re diagnosed mentally ill of course)

March 9, 2009

I’ve not had much contact with the police over the years. That’s more through luck than judgement if I’m honest, along with an ability to run fast when I was younger. As a child, the local bobby was a fatherly type man, who came to school and told us not to get into the car with the stranger. On the betamax video he showed us, the car was easily visible as it was flashing red. For years I thought that all the bad men had flashing red cars and I’d be safe as long as I avoided those. I’ve since grown up and learnt that bad men are usually to be found in nightclubs on over 25’s night, or perhaps that’s just sad men?

As a teen I did once trip over a police dog whilst protesting against the Poll Tax. Rather than being arrested I ended up sleeping with the dog’s trainer on his next shift off. Oh the joys of bpd inspired one night stands. Waking up next to someone who looks and smells a lot less appealing than they did after ten pints. Or in this case, halfs, as Mr Copper didn’t think women should be seen with pint glasses. It’s not feminine apparantly. I didn’t see him again.

Anyway, back to the point in hand. The policeman is your friend. I always thought that to be true. I grew up on a fairly middle class estate, where a visit from the police was tantamount to social suicide, and the Turkish family who moved onto the street were suspected to be terrorists because they had natural yoghurt delivered with their milk. I always thought that if someone committed a crime against me, one phone call would have them promptly arrested, charged and sent to prison, whilst I would be commended by a tearful Judge for my outstanding bravery in giving evidence in court!

Then 10 years ago I moved into my first council flat. Oh the joy to be given those keys. The knowledge that in one quick move I had disappointed my father (who still had a lingering hope I would get my head together and become the next Poet Laureate or Nobel Prize winner), annoyed the hell out of my Tory brother by paying a subsidised rent whilst he worked 24/7 to pay his mortgage , and finally got out of the horrors of shared accommodation (myself and 4 aussie men, all of whom I’d slept with at one point over the years). I’d only been on the waiting list for 5 months. There must be a catch surely? Oh yeah.

Meet bad neighbour number one. A scrawny, ponytailed, jobless lout who spent his days playing Emimem on his stereo and having his friends round to get stoned. Obviously his days weren’t fun filled enough because within weeks of my moving in he realised the lone female in the flat below him was easy prey. Cue two years of harrassment in the form of death threats, vandalism, loud music and eggs. Yes, eggs. Remarkably difficult to scrape off the front door. I gave up in the end and just revarnished it. It took two years for the police to arrest him. At first I put it down to the intricacies of the law and the lack of evidence. It was my word against his as none of the neighbours were brave enough to give statements. Eventually he was arrested, and the discovery of a drugs factory in his flat helped add to the charges. Harrassment, Threats to kill and producing cannabis. I fully expected him to be sent down or at least evicted.

But then the police found out that I had a history of depression. Overnight my credibility was shot. The threats to kill charge was dropped with the excuse that I was ”too mentally unstable to give evidence in court”. The neighbour ended up with a fine and a years restraining order. I had to move home. That in itself was a battle, and only the threat of going to the press would make the council agree to a transfer. Ten years on and I still feel bitter. No one asked if I felt able to give evidence. No one suggested that I make use of the services of Victim Support, who would have helped me through the trial process. When I went to make a further statement at the station, there was a noticeable difference in the way I was treated. Sympathy and a promise to help became raised eyebrows and condescension. Officers became unreachable on the telephone to me. No one even saw fit to keep me up to date with the court appearances. I only found out the outcome when I opened my door to find the neighbour coming up the path with his belongings. He’d been forced to live with his father until the case was over. Once he pleaded guilty he was allowed to live above me again.

I try not to think about bad neighbour number one anymore. Shit happens after all, and he did cite depression as the reason for his anti social behaviour. I’ll take that with a very large pinch of salt if I’m honest. Anyway it’s in the past. I didn’t even realise it was ten years ago until I started to write this post. Another reminder of how I’ve drifted in recent years. However, I’m currently embroiled in the ongoing saga of Bad Neighbour Number 2. I’ve posted about him previously and did hope to have something more positive to report by now, (perhaps his sudden death from chronic nastiness) but nothing has changed as yet.

My local bobby is fantastic when it comes to giving out assurances. Unfortunately, actually visiting either myself or the neighbour seems to be beyond her capabilities. The estate I live on is fairly rough I suppose, but not quite a no go area yet. The local teens do like to play chase the community support officer on occasion, and my culdesac has become the in place to abandon the stolen car on a Saturday night, but other than that we’re a pretty friendly lot. Think ‘Shameless’ with a Yorkshire accent and no pub (shut down for frequent brawls on the street outside).

It seems that my local plod can only communicate via email at the moment. In other words, I send them frequent updates (as requested) on the notes my neighbour is still placing in his window. In return I get the occasional reply saying how shocking it is and how we must come down hard on him, but unfortunately we’re off shift for the next few days.

Perhaps I’m a little paranoid here, but I have a suspicion that my name has been run through the computer and the Mental alarm has gone off. Either that or my council estate manager has warned the police of my past problems. I nearly got evicted prior to hospitalisation after forgetting about things like paying rent or letting workmen in. As before, nothing I say seems to carry any weight anymore. It seems that this is regarded as a problem between two nutters and the police are happy to step back and take bets on who cracks first. I wonder if they would react in the same way if I lived on a middle class street or didn’t have a number for the crisis line stuck on my fridge. Yes ok, I should have taken that down before she came to take my statement.

So we’re in limbo at the moment. He puts up the notes. I write down a copy. His wife gives me dirty looks and I check that neither of them are out in the street before I leave the house. Dad thinks I should just ignore him and I know he might be right, but be fair, could you walk past that window and not read what rubbish he’d put there? My whole reason for going to the police was that he hassles my other neighbours who are elderly and good friends of mine. And as the weather gets warmer and we go back to sitting in the garden again, I know from experience that the situation will escalate again. He can’t stand to see us out there. But I still feel sorry for the guy. There’s something very wrong going on in that flat and, whilst I don’t fear him (I will not become like the general public and assume mental illness equates to violent sociopath), I do fear for the well being of his young daughter, who hasn’t been seen by anyone for weeks. But the more I complain the more I feel myself getting sucked into an obsession. He is starting to be the focus for all my low moods and angry feelings. The person I can blame for why I have trouble getting out of bed or doing the washing up. And that’s not right. Perhaps I need to step back from the situation, but I hate losing! But really that’s what I should do. I have enough to worry about at the moment.

An update on Dad. He was hospitalised for a few days last week, after his blood tests showed a low platelet count and he also had a temperature. He’s back home now but it did mean he couldn’t have his chemo, and will have to have a milder dose of it from now on. So it’s a knock back. His hair also started to fall out this week, which has really brought it home to me that he is frail. I’m trying to play the role of attentive daughter, and it does feel like an act, because cancer doesn’t delete all the crap from the past. Something which Jade Goody should also realise. But I think I’m doing a fairly good job of hiding how I feel from him. I limit the visits to a couple of hours which helps me to rein the feelings in. It’s bloody tiring though.

So that’s what’s going on with me right now. I’m coping ok, if drifting through the days without any real sense of purpose. I take my meds. I behave myself. The fact that I don’t feel like a real person most of the time is incidental. Tomorrow I will be interviewed by some doctors, after agreeing to take part in research into BPD and psychosis. A chance for me to feel listened to for once. I know I crave attention, but honestly, most days I only have the cat to talk to and he doesn’t like me very much. 

And lastly, a shout out to Fairy’s mum, who I understand likes to read this blog. Your daughter hassled me into posting again. Hope you enjoyed it lol xx

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February 4, 2009

Dad was due to start his chemo today. Unfortunately his remaining kidney isn’t strong enough to cope with the preferred treatment. He’ll start next week instead and will be given a less toxic drug. I would imagine that means the chances of the treatment working are also lower. So it’s a bit of a blow. He just wants to start the treatment now and is sick of all this hanging around. It must be nigh on 6 months since he was diagnosed and over 3 months since his nephrectomy and he has yet to start treatment. I know I’m finding it is wearing me out so heaven knows how he is coping with it.

Other than that, life is treating me very well. Seeing the pdoc last week gave me an opportunity to reflect on life and I think I am slowly improving. I haven’t cut for a long time. I sleep properly now (apart from tonight) and am starting to eat more healthily. I am feeling a bit lost though. Where do I go from here? What do people do when they are well? Actually ‘well’ might be an exaggeration, but I’m not in crisis and I’m not suicidal. Looking back at recent posts I realise that I have been stalling for quite a while. I know I should be doing more each day but I’m just not getting round to it. I need to set some goals. Hmmm, let me have a think about it and I’ll post another time. Shopping less would be a start though, but there are still sales on!

Quick update

January 20, 2009

Well, as expected, Dad will have to start chemo at the beginning of Feb. He’ll stay overnight for one night in the first week, attend once as a day patient the second week, then have the third week off. Providing he can handle it, they’ll repeat the cycle three times. First of all though he needs to have tests to check his remaining kidney is functioning well enough to cope with the chemo. He is remarkably fit for a man in his seventies though, and has been out walking five miles a day in the last week, which is amazing given that it’s less than three months since his operation. If anyone can beat it he can.

The people who are running the research into BPD’ers with psychosis phoned me today. I’d forgotten to send in my consent form for them to look through my records. We’ve arranged for me to be interviewed on March 10th so that should be interesting. Fortunately the fact that I haven’t experienced any psychosis for several months doesn’t matter, as they want to hear about the last year. It all seems a bit hazy now though, so I’m not sure that I’ll be much use to them. Any research into BPD is useful though so I’m glad to be able to help. And lets face it, I’ll love the attention!

Just watched Obama’s inaugaration speech. Have to say that I was slightly disappointed. There wasn’t any stand out line for which he’ll be remembered, and more importantly, we still don’t know which puppy they’ve chosen! I liked the way he messed up his lines though. Perhaps a homage to Bush? Give him a week and the backstabbers will start circling.

Feeling like I’ve let the side down.

January 20, 2009

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been having some problems with a neighbour. It’s my opinion that he suffers from some sort of psychiatric problem, perhaps paranoia or maybe the early onset of dementia as he’s in his seventies. After years of unsociable behaviour towards myself and other people on the street, he has taken to posting notes up in his window about us. The lastest talks about his struggle to deal with the conspirators.

So the upshot is that I have spoken to the police this weekend and they will be visiting him shortly with a view to getting him assessed under the mental health act. However, they doubt the CMHT will agree to assess him because a) he hasn’t been charged with anything yet, and b) he isn’t violent. So that leaves them with the options of either arresting him for harrassment and then sectioning him once he’s outside his house (it can’t be done on his property) or contacting social services because he has a young daughter living with him.

I feel like I’m betraying one of my own kind. However unpleasant he is, if he is mentally ill he is like me. And I would hate it if someone tried to have me assessed against my will. There’s a kind of them and us attitude between the mentally ill  community and officialdom, and I don’t like going over to the other side. Also, I have friends who have suffered at the hands of overly zealous social workers. Friends who have lost access to their children because in the past they have had a breakdown. If my neighbour has managed to get through life without being picked up by the CMHT so far, am I really doing him a favour now? Let’s face it, an assessment doesn’t automatically mean he will get help. It might just make him even angrier to us all.

The police were meant to keep me updated and should have rung me yesterday, but so far I’ve heard nothing. I’m wondering if they’ve looked me up on their system and realised that I’m also flagged up as mental. In which case, anything I’ve told them will be taken with a pinch of salt. They may not mean to be prejudice but you tend to see that look in their eyes as soon as you disclose it. In my last neighbour dispute I had to agree to drop some of the charges because I was deemed unfit to give evidence in court. So a man who threatened me on almost a daily basis for two years, received a years probation for harrassment rather than a prison sentence for threats to kill.  This latest dispute is nowhere near as bad, yet I wonder if my past experience is impacting on it. I’m coming out fighting this time, rather than being a victim. Perhaps as a result I am being too hard on him. Damn I wish I’d never had group therapy. Decisions were so much easier before that lol.

Dad gets his scan results today, so I’m rather on edge. Another reason why I’ve spoken to the police perhaps. I needed to transfer my anger onto someone else.

Today is a good day though. A new president in the USA. A black president no less. A president who doesn’t make me cringe and turn over every time he speaks. Hopefully the mood of optimism and change will reach over to the UK too. We certainly need it.

Freezing, frantic and fat.

January 7, 2009

God I hate January. Especially January in northern England. In past years I’ve escaped to sunnier climes, but state benefits don’t stretch to a week drinking Ouzo and flirting with Greek waiters, so  coffee from a spotty youth in my local Mcdonalds will have to do. It’s been a strange start to the new year. I’ve been out and about a lot more than usual, due entirely to a mania induced shopping habit, and a refusal to miss even the slightest bargain. This week saw the final closure of Woolworths stores in the UK. A very sad time for the 30,000 staff who will start 2009 signing on at their local job centre. For me it was an opportunity to buy a lot of tat at 90% off. I now have enough lightbulbs to see me into the next century (5p each), which means I can’t OD for a while as I’d hate to waste them. Shopping in my three nearest woolies this week felt uncomfortably like grave robbing. With the news today that M&S are to close some of their stores too, I wonder what my high street will look like this time next year. Probably like that episode of the Simpsons where every store was a Starbucks. Hey ho, at least I’ll have somewhere to get my coffee. How this government still intends to get all us workshy off incapacity benefit and into jobs is beyond me. Would you hire a mad person if there were ten norms applying at the same time as her?

Speaking of benefits, it appears that the numpties at the DWP were wrong to send me the IB50 form. As a recipient of high rate care on DLA I am apparantly exempt from the PCA (personal capability assessment). Unfortunately the computer at my local job centre doesn’t know that I’m on DLA , so I have to wait for that computer to speak to another one and then someone will phone me to say I don’t need to fill in the form. They were meant to call me yesterday. Of course that didn’t happen. I hate answering my mobile if I can’t see who is ringing me, but not answering it could result in my benefits being suspended. Added to that is the dilemma that if I do answer it, some bright spark at the DLA office may see it as proof that I am not as mad as I used to be, and stop my benefits anyway. It’s a no win situation really, especially as the office I need to speak to doesn’t appear to have a phone, so I can’t ring them at a time that suits me. They really do make it easy for us don’t they?

Another phone call I need to make this week is to my pdoc. I believe I have an appointment with her at the end of Jan but can’t remember when. The appointment was made in October, so it’s not surprising that I’ve forgotten. Again, my turning up is probably a test of how capable I am lol. (I’m slightly paranoid this week in case you haven’t guessed). I’m just going there to have a chat about the meds, in particular how I’m getting on with the Quetiapine. Well the answer to that is not too bad. For the most part it has removed my angry moods and voices. However it only seems to work on a normal stress free day. If anything unusual occurs my anxiety levels spike again. I only need to look at the arrival of the IB50 form for that, as it brought back a lot of self harm urges and strangely, an urge to shave my head! However, I didn’t cut. Perhaps without the quetiapine I would have done. I’m also still waking up in a panic each day. I feel jittery until I take my first pill. It makes me feel like an addict and I hate being reliant on medication. Personally, I feel that it is the thought of hurting my dad which helps me behave at the moment. I’m not suicidal at the moment but I have to admit that dad has become my reason to continue. Without that link I think all my impulses would have free reign and that’s scary.  

I’m not sure that I am always honest on this blog. I was extremely chuffed to receive an award from that crazy lot over at mental nurse for best personality disorder blog. They mentioned my irreverent attitude. I’ve always used humour when talking about my mental health. Nothing bores me more than those people who are forever complaining about how bad their life is, how few friends they have, what a bad person they are etc. I have all the same thoughts as them. I know how much it hurts to be us. But I have a huge brick wall behind which I store all my emotions and it’s only when I’m at my worst that I let anyone look over it. I find other people’s emotions overwhelming. Boredom isn’t the right word really. The negativity scares me because it’s too close to home and I can’t cope with it. To be honest, I’ve been struggling this week. A mixture of high and low moods, several days without sleep, a need to get out of the house for hours each day, rather than be on my own. I’ve even lost my appetite, which is normally a sure sign that I’m close to breakdown. But this time I think I’m going to be ok. The meds are definately taking the edge off it. I just wish I could cope without them.

A quick update on Dad. He’s due to have a scan next week, after which he will see the consultant about whether or not he should have chemo. To look at him, you would think he was completely healthy. We went for a walk together and I was puffing away behind him, struggling to keep up. He has some problems with back pain, which may not be a good sign, but he’s determined to be positive. On the downside, he has bought the ugliest hat in ugly hat making history, in anticipation of losing his hair. Fingers crossed that he won’t need chemo, in which case his wife can burn it.

Hugs and best wishes to all my fellow bpd’ers. Here’s to the coming of spring. xx

Swimming through quetiapine flavoured treacle

November 22, 2008

I’m beginning to question whether being on an anti psychotic is a good thing. That’s not uncommon with me as I tend to stop taking pills shortly after they start to work, but in the past they’ve only been an anti depressant.

I feel so much calmer these days, but am I calm or sedated? I realised lately that the majority of my days follow the same routine now. Wake up after midday. Transfer to the sofa. Take pill. Sleep for another hour. Get up and go to the supermarket for carb laden food. Come home, eat, watch tv, talk to friends online, go to sleep for 14 hours. The only change from pre Quetiapine days is that I sleep a lot longer than I used to, and that my inactivity doesn’t really bother me. That window during the day when I can do things and meet people has narrowed considerably due to the drowsiness. If I have something major planned, like the Rethink event last week, I have to skip my pills for 24 hours. But, and it’s a big but, I haven’t had an urge to self harm for ages and I don’t obsess about suicide every day. I suppose I have to weigh up the pro’s and cons and should probably stay on the pills at least until the winter is over. They are the reason that I haven’t been posting as often though.

I mentioned the Rethink agm. What a lovely bunch of people! And another indication of how much anti psychotics are helping, because without them I wouldn’t have got on a train and gone to a meeting in a big posh hotel on my own. Rethink, for those who don’t know, is a leading mental health charity which campaigns against stigma and for the rights of people with serious mental illness. (They think I qualify as a borderline even if my pdoc doesn’t). I travelled there on my own but with the intention of meeting Charlie and Ellen, two lovely internet based friends. It was a rather surreal experience, stood in a foyer amongst a crowd of people, trying to find two friends whom I’d never seen in person before. But we got on like a house on fire, even if Charlie did drag me off to the bar for a drink and a gossip (I took loads of persuading lol), thus making us miss one of the seminars. I had such a good day and I can’t tell you how cool it was to be around people like me and to see us all doing something positive together. I was proud to be mental!

Now back down to earth again and a quick update on my Dad. Alison, thanks for asking how he was getting on. It turns out that his cancer isn’t kidney cancer as suspected, but something called transitional cell carcinoma of the ureter. He had his kidney removed, which contained an aggressive tumour. His lymph nodes were also malignant, so he’ll start chemo in January. Fortunately he can do this as an outpatient so at least he won’t be stuck in hospital again. At the moment my stepmum is concentrating on feeding him up before he starts the treatment. He lost a huge amount of weight after the op because he didn’t eat for nearly two weeks afterwards, and felt nauseous for a long time after. I’ll pop over again next week to see him and we talk on the phone quite a lot. I hate this so much though. It feels like the cancer has a grip over us all. As a family our lives are now governed by distinct stages. Diagnosis, Op, Recovery, Chemo etc. How can I feel positive about a treatment which essentially poisons the body? It feels like a temporary break now over christmas until we start the next chapter. But at the same time, I am a bystander. I can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be Dad right now. He’s so positive about it all and just calmly accepts each stage of the journey. I’m the one who is angry and wants to hit out at someone, even him. Fortunately I am only on the periphery of it all. I really feel for my stepmum who has to be supportive 24/7. On a positive note though, I am so much closer to her as a result of all this.

So that’s what’s happening with me at the moment. Oh and something I’m loathe to put down here because it makes it real. The engineers are coming to look at my heating on 5th December. That means I have to open the front door and let someone into my house. Probably two people because they always bring a spotty, lank haired trainee with them. I’m trying to be positive about this. I’ll have hot water and heating for the first time in two years. But there’s a LOT of cleaning to be done in this midden between now and then. Wish me luck!

In my past life I must have been a tortoise.

November 11, 2008

I think I am hibernating for the winter. It would be nice if someone could put me into a nice warm box filled with straw, and wake me up in March. Unfortunately my eating disorder insists I leave the house each day to forage for food in the ice cream aisles of Sainsburys. However, I spend the other 23 hours of the day nestling under fleecy blankets in my freezing cold flat (broken boiler), either asleep or watching daytime tv.

The Seroquel (quetiapine) helps a lot with this. Most days I can easily sleep until mid afternoon, with another hours nap at tea time. I don’t know if it’s the shorter days or a reaction to being so busy with dad’s illness recently, but all I want to do is sleep. And without fail I wake up shaking from weird and frightening dreams, which are definately down to the anti psychotics. Dad is improving fortunately. He’s back home recovering from having his kidney removed, and is being fussed over constantly by my step mum. We’ll need to wait a couple of weeks before we know if his lymph nodes were also cancerous, and it’s likely that he’ll be having chemo, but we’ll all face that when it happens.

Saturday is a big day for me. I’m attending the Rethink AGM in Leeds. For those who don’t know, Rethink is a mental health charity, which used to be primarily for schizophrenics, but now welcomes all those with a serious mental illness. I’m really looking forward to it, but am also scared witless. I’ll be meeting a couple of internet friends for the first time, and that’s nervewracking. Especially as I’ve gained even more weight and am now a humungous uk size 28. I made the mistake of going clothes shopping today and looked like Mrs Michelin in everything I tried on. I gave up in the end and bought some cheesecake lol.

I had to venture out on Monday to get my prescription from the doc. Unfortunately I had to see the resident clown, who is the gp equivalent of Ricky Gervais in The Office. He gave me 8 weeks of anti d’s but only 4 weeks of anti p’s. What’s the point of that? After I mentioned that the seroquel was really helping me, he said ”oh good you’re not ill anymore then”. Umm actually that’s the very reason that I’m on the pills. I’m sure GP’s receive a bonus for getting patients off incapacity benefit, because this guy trys to get me back to work every time I see him, and that’s regardless of what my usual GP may have written on my notes. He didn’t even bother to look up how much Seroquel I was on and just took my word for it (my previous prescriptions were from the hospital doc so weren’t on his screen).  Damn it I should have asked for some diazepam. Oh well.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on with me right now. To those of you who are passing by and reading my blog, I hope you’re all keeping well and staying safe. Take care xx

Week three on Seroquel and I look like the michelin man!

October 3, 2008

It started with my hands, which look like they belong to someone twice my size. Now my upper arms are bloated, my ankles are massive and even my lips look like I’ve been to Lesley Ash’s plastic surgeon. I’ve had episodes where I can’t stop blinking. Awful indigestion, drowsiness, diarrhoea, and occasional twitches. Why on earth would anyone swallow a pill which does that to them?

Well on the upside I feel so much more relaxed. Ok, so sometimes my voice is slurred and I shuffle down the street like I’m drunk, but  so long as I get enough sleep, the rest of the time I feel great. Seroquel has shortened my day, and I really only have 4 or 5 hours of full consciousness. I’m hoping these side effects wear off in a few weeks. If not, then I guess I’ll have to re-evaluate the pros and cons of continuing to take it. I still have low moods but it’s kind of like they are behind a big plastic bubble. I’m not angry anymore (well not much).

I saw my gp today, just to pick up my script for venlafaxine. I’m aware that he asked me questions, but I couldn’t do much more than smile at him. My blood test results are back and my glucose level is borderline (like my brain lol) so I need to go back for a fasting test next week. I’ve made sure it’s an early appointment because I get very narky if I’m not fed regularly.  He was videoing the session for training purposes again, which usually makes me feel a little paranoid, but today I had to stop myself giggling into the camera.

The seroquel doesn’t take away all my bad moods though. Yesterday was a downer. Probably overtired after spending the previous day with my Dad. I won’t see him again now until he’s had his operation. He thinks there’s no point in me visiting til he’s out of the high dependancy ward, but I want to be there, even if he’s not aware that I am. His wife is a die hard catholic and is very positive and talking about prayer a lot. I don’t share her beliefs and am generally pessimistic. I keep imagining Dad dying on the operating table. Being with him all day and having to keep up this false positivity wore me out. He’s not letting on how he feels at all and I’m not going to push him to talk about it. But all this brings back so many memories of losing mum to cancer when I was 18. Half the time I feel wiped out by worry for him, and the rest of the time I despise myself for using his cancer to get sympathy. I can’t believe I’m actually jealous of him for having a bona fide physical illness. One that everyone feels sorry for him about. I’m struggling a lot even with the new meds. Torn between needing to do everything and anything, and being too tired and down to even get dressed. I feel like I’m leeching off my own father. I don’t know how to trust my own emotions. When I get upset, is it because I’m scared for him, or am I just acting? I really thought I’d got all this identity stuff sorted out but I feel like two people at the moment. Good and bad. Weak and strong. Cold and Warm. Black and White. Damn bpd.

A reminder that life goes on around me

September 23, 2008

When you live with mental illness, your world is small. If something doesn’t affect you directly, the chances are that you won’t care about it, or even let it register. You spend each day battling intense mood swings, chronic lack of motivation, and bone numbing fatigue. You wish people would care more for you, or at least acknowledge the pain you are in. I know that I have frequently wished a serious physical ailment on myself, just so I can point and say, ”look, this is where it hurts.”

When I think back to this time last year, my mind is almost a blank. I was spiralling into a deep depression, which resulted in a hospital stay. I see news items now, anniversaries of events from a year ago, and I wonder why I have no memory of them. But time stood still back then. I was wrapped up in my own little world, protecting myself from any more bad news.

This evening my father phoned with the latest update of his cancer battle. What was scheduled to be key hole surgery to remove his kidney has altered following an appointment with his surgeon today. The cancer appears to have spread to his lymph nodes, which will mean a bigger operation, and in the longer term, a much lower survival rate. Dad was his usual self. Not making a big deal of it. His wife was more upset and would have told me more if he hadn’t been whispering to her in the background to not worry me. So the next few months will be filled with hospital visits and cancer jargon, whilst I firmly place my normal mask on my face.

And therein lies the problem. I resent having to act normal. I want to fall apart. I don’t want to be the strong one. Hello! Excuse me! Mentally ill person here! Never mind the man with cancer. Of course I care about him deep down. I was briefly in tears after I hung up the phone. But I can’t lie about this. My primary concern is for myself and how this will affect me and that’s a personality trait I can’t stand about myself.

But life doesn’t stand still just because I have chosen to. Dad has been wonderful in the past year, whilst I’ve bemoaned my life and spent time in hospital. I didn’t really stop to think how distressing it must have been for him to visit me there, especially as I’d told the staff not to tell him why I’d been admitted (overdose). He was, and still is, bewildered by his youngest child’s emotional state, and yet he calmly offers himself as a shoulder to cry on any time I need it. Will I be able to do the same? I’ll certainly do my best but I know it will cost me one way or another. I feel held to ransom by his cancer. The option of ending my life, should I want to, has gone, for I could never add that stress to Dads’ life. My coping strategies will need to be secretive again. Rather than put the world on hold, I now need to put my mental illness on hold, at least until Dad is well again. It’s going to be a difficult few months for us both.