Archive for the ‘family’ 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

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

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.