Sunday, February 11, 2007


Bene sent me the address of a blog to look at - 'tis here. It's a woman writing about her experiences with bipolar - the medications, the highs and lows, the whole thing. A lot more open about some of it than I am now. Give it a look.

If you do want to know about the experience, at the moment you'd be better off asking her than me. I am so bloody sick of it I can't express it, sick of talking about it and hearing about it and writing about it and reading about it and utterly, overwhelmingly, eminently, mightily, vastly, probably transcendently sick of having it.

The last six months or so - depending where I want to draw the line I can say this episode started three months ago, when I was hospitalised the first time, or six months ago, when I started to withdraw at work, eat my lunch in my office, not talking to people, maybe two years ago, just before my unsuccessful attempt at the Primary - the last six months have been abysmal. The highs have been absent, the periods of normality few and chemically sustained, the lows have put me in hospital, in secure psychiatric wards or in the ICU. They've cost me a fair slab of my professional reputation, they've damaged important relationships, they've cost time and money, they've put Sarah through hell and only part of the way back.

And the thing is, they are ongoing. I still don't sleep well without antipsychotics. I still respond to stressors with the same damning pattern of thoughts, the same churning, clunking mechanical progression along panic to self-loathing to suicidality. I still feel the guilt, heavy in my heart like a steel plate upon my chest, feel the loathing of those around me, radiating like cold. I still get periods where I eat crap, huddle in my room, won't see anyone.

This is what I'd expect. And I'm doing all the right things - I've managed not to get any fatter on the olanzapine via aggressive diet and exercise. I've got a good relationship with a good psychiatrist, who recently put me back on weekly visits rather than three-weekly, and most importantly I am taking the medications. And I have, the registrar from the medical board says, commendable insight. That side of it is going well.

Still, I am still sick, and things get to me that shouldn't get to me. I like the image of ruts in a country road, deep scores in the pale red earth, down the gravel road or across the paddock. Unless you have a firm hold of the wheel, when you drive that's the way you're going to keep travelling. I imagine deep indentations in the cerebral cortex, strong neuronal linkages, dendrites intermeshing with dendrites. My mind runs easily down the hollows in the road, only with difficulty breaks out into new ground.

But still. The repetitive thoughts are there, the moods, the cognitive stuff. I am not looking forward to seeing Dr Tesla on Wednesday, because I will have to tell him this stuff, and he will perhaps delay my returning to work, and while I can see his point in this, staying home loafing while my wife works to bring sorely needed money into the house only exacerbates the situation. I depserately want to get back to the hospital and do something. One part of depression that I hate is the way it encourages you focus on yourself, even encourages others to focus on you, as if somehow this behaviour should be rewarded.

Anyhow, these are stupid thoughts. It is late, I have to get up early to drive my niece to work. The gym tomorrow, and maybe some boxing, fix my bicycle, build a compost heap. Do something useful with my life.

Thanks for listening, and I promise to be both more interesting and less whiny next time.


Blogger Camilla said...

Thanks for the link, BJ. I hope things look up for you soon! It must be so frustrating not to be able to get started at work again.

Am thinking of you both, as always. Did you have fun with Mr Lissom? (Er...that sounds a bit smuttier than it was intended to. You know what I meant...right?)


1:10 AM  
Blogger Midwife with a Knife said...

Not being able to work must be so frustrating. I hope you feel better soon!

8:47 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

I admire you for addressing your situation head on. Many, many people who know better don't. They test the limits of every relationship they have and everyone is pulled down the loo with them... because they won't take their meds, they won't admit it is real, they stick their head in the sand or worse.

People I love are suffering due to this illness and it is exacerbated due to denial. It is a difficult thing to witness.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Bronze John said...

Hail Cam',
Thanks. The not being able to work is driving me slowly insane - I am sure there is an element of irony in there somewhere. The Mr Lissom visit went wellish, I was perhaps less vivacious than I could have been.

He says hello.


9:27 AM  
Blogger Bronze John said...

Hail Midwife-with-knife,
That's still such a brilliant title.

As stated, if I don't get back to hospital work soon - early March - I am going to snap like a twig.

We shall see.


9:33 AM  
Blogger Bronze John said...

The facing the situation head on is something that I have only recently been brought to, and it is a hard thing to keep on doing. The problem is it's much more pleasant to imagine you don't have the problem because of the depressing things mental illness says about you as a person, and it's very tempting to minimise your symptoms to doctors and friends because of the significant penalties that you get when you admit to them - drugs, detentions, that kind of thing.

Anyway. More on this later.


9:35 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

I think mental illness may be viewed with more bias in the sciences because it is something that science hasn't mastered. In the arts its a different story. Melancholia and depression have been associated with some of the greatest artist and writers of all time... seers, really.
I touched on this in a comment I wrote for a later post.

There was a huge exhibition called Melancholia that toured Paris and Berlin last year. I waited in the friggin cold for three hours to see that show and it was packed with people taking notes on the likes of Rembrandt, Munch, etc. I guess I am one of those people who wish the world didn't build such a big wall between the arts and sciences. I don't see it or feel it but most others do.

5:07 AM  

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