Wednesday, July 23, 2008

This blog is moving but no need to cry...

Just go to my shiny new blog at Wordpress, click on this link!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Making bloggie friends.

Hi peeps. It is always nice when I get...out of the unexpected comment, and then take a little virtual trip over to their corner of Blogland and have a nose around. It has only dawned on me relatively recently that the best way to get your blog read is, first to link to other people as much as poss, both in the text and in the blogroll (frankly I still don't quite understand how they manage to link back to you but they do), second to read other people's blogs and comment, comment, comment.

You can lurk as much and as admiringly as you like around other people's blogs but you will only count as a faceless 'stat' unless you establish a presence there by commenting, if possible, on a regular basis. It helps if the blogs you go to are based around the same 'niche' or area of interest as your own, because in this way you become a part of an online community; become known to the other bloggers and regular commenters within it and get a feel for who among them particularly interests you.

As I've always said I am still very much a novice at the art of blogging. I am quite in awe of the many, brilliant young women bloggers there are... Dumped by a Hallucination and her many cohorts for instance but they have essentially grown up in a different world to the one I did. But I am loving the learning process, I have to say, and if I still have few comments, the kind Zania has helped me to understand that it is not necessarily a direct reflection on my general rubbishness.

It is true that it is indeed difficult to know what to say to someone who is going through extreme mental distress: that is one factor that might influence a lack of comments on depression blogs in general. But in my case there are other factors at work as well. I do need to be more blog-sociable, cross-reference more, link more, comment more, and as for the world of tagging and key words, that is still a complete mystery to me, but I'm confident I will get there in the end!

But the essential thing to remember in all this is that I love blogging. I blog because I thoroughly enjoy it, because I think the Internet in general and blogging in particular is one of the very best things about living in these times, and we might as well enjoy it. I don't blog entirely in the hope of having an appreciative audience, although naturally, that would greatly add to the satisfaction. I blog for the sheer joy of blogging and because now I've started, I really, really don't want to stop.

Take care all!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Still out for the count

I've been ill with the flu and more or less out of action all week, any plans scuppered. Am hoping to get to Bonkersfest on Saturday, at Camberwell Green, South London, though. Anyway I've been interwebbing away today, hardly commenting or writing anything, just reading and imbibing others' wisdom. Been at SF Jane's for the last couple of hours, she is really something else. I am impressed by her to the point of paralysis. She is so alive, so intelligent and articulate. And the way she delivers the videos as well as the writing. And her story. OK, I'm just gushing now.

It may be partly the depression but I don't have a lot of self-confidence or esteem right now. I don't rate my abilities highly. I feel a little bit brain dead. Reading a lot of other people's blogs is good but there comes a point where I need to start doing something myself. Finding a way to frame my own thoughts.

I am still gutted that I had to go back on meds because I had a recurrence of mania. I suppose I felt that I would have to stay on them forever and that meant giving up hope of recovering by other means.

You know what? I don't know any of this. I don't know what the future holds. I feel too confused, ill and fog-brained right now to come to any clear conclusions. For me God or a Higher Power seems to be something I need in my life to have any sense of security, peace or equanimity. Chaos and mental torment have ravaged me of late. I still don't have my feet on solid ground.

Take care though...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happier...but full of cold.

Hi peeps. The OA Convention was an absolute blast. I enjoyed every minute. We were staying in the Birmingham Hilton, near the NEC, and there was a beautiful pool, sauna, steam room and gym which I took advantage of. A very uplifting gathering of the OA brethren, with lots of great meetings and speakers, telling us their stories and sharing their 'experience, strength and hope'. There was even a disco and karaoke on the Saturday, and would you believe this, I got up and danced! It's ages since I hit a dance floor and I remembered how much I enjoy it, even though most of the music was pretty cheesy.

The company of my friends was most enjoyable, and I managed to take a few quiet walks around the lake and do a bit of communing with nature too.

Was that ever what I needed!

However the air con was pretty fierce in the meeting rooms and I managed to catch a bug, my throat is sore, I'm all croaky, nose streaming and had to cry off work today. Knackered too.

But just after I had breakfast this morning my lovely son called. First time he has rung for ages. We had a nice chat. So that cheered me up hugely. And if I had gone to work as normal I would have missed the call. Ah well.

Lots of love, Zoe.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hello sadness my old friend...

Actually I feel a little more human today. Managed to get myself to work (thank God for work). Found that Seaneen had linked to my blog, so was happy about that. I do most of my blog reading and writing when I'm here. Anyone who hasn't already visited Pole to Polar I would recommend it as absolutely unmissable for anyone of a mentally interesting persuasion. It's always my first port of call when I've been away from the Madosphere for a few days.

Tomorrow I am going to Birmingham, to the Overeaters Anonymous Convention which is held in the Hilton Hotel. Driving up there with two friends from my local group. I was dreading it earlier in the week and wondering if I should give it a miss. So depressed and socially phobic it could be a real ordeal. But now I feel a bit better and I am far too mean to miss out: I've booked and paid, I won't get any of the money back if I don't go. Damn it, if the worst comes to the worst I will simply hole myself up in my room with a good book for the duration.

Have just finished 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' by Mohsin Hamid, and started 'This Book Could Save Your Life' by A.M. Homes. Reading is one thing that is, mercifully, working for me at the moment. I need to feel the same way about housework now, and have a load of my son's old toys and games to unload onto a charity shop. At the moment they are sitting in the spare room and causing me distress every time I walk past to the airing cupboard.

Going to Dual Recovery Anonymous tonight. That usually does me a power of good. Twelve-step fellowships for people with mental health problems: there are plenty of arguments for and against. But the most useful thing about the meetings is simply being able to share openly and honestly without the need to hold back or feel in danger of being stigmatised or marginalised. In other words, it's peer support. We don't tend to bang on about the virtues of 'the Program' or working the Twelve Steps. Most of us are pretty much in a perpetual survival mode.

Thinking about going back to Manic Depression Fellowship Support Group meetings after a few years staying away. It would not surprise me if the name has changed since I was last involved.

I know this post is dull and lacklustre. It's how I feel. But I have to blog while I have the strength in my fingertips, as most of the time I don't really want to go near a computer right now. Love, Zoe.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Depression, anger and general fall-out.

At work. Had a mixed weekend with some very difficult moments. Richard came over and I found myself struggling with big-time anger, resentment, hostility and so on. He did stay, for two nights in the end, and we watched the INCREDIBLE Men's Final at Wimbledon. We both calmed down. But I still feel fairly wrung out and exhausted from it all.

It's pissing down with rain today, which I usually find quite therapeutic. Being at work has helped me to feel more human, but I am still really wrestling with a sense of being sub-human, worthless, defective and so on. I also feel like an outsider everywhere I go. When I am well and reasonably positive I don't particularly aspire to having all the conventional trappings. (Marriage, kids, career). When I am like this I haven't the confidence to accept my difference. I am just full of the most painful envy towards others (even close friends) for what I perceive I lack.

It's horribly painful. I'm back at home now and have to deal with that too. But I'll get there. I've been reading Sally Clay's articles on her website (link on my blogroll) and drawing a lot of strength from that. There's a woman who's really and truly been there! More soon...Love, Zoe.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

More info on the Unit.

We are fortunate in my particular London borough to have a crisis unit. It consists of a large house (with a beautiful, large garden), big enough to take a maximum of eight clients at a time. All clients have their own bedrooms and share all other communal spaces: there's a comfy, homely TV lounge, a kitchen where we eat together and can make drinks or snacks anytime, an art-room/conservatory and a verandah where the smokers are allowed to indulge.

Lunch and dinner is provided by a cook, special diets (such as my veganism) are catered for and the food is very high quality and delicious.

All clients are assigned a named worker, but even when this person is not available, they can speak with someone else privately.

Unless there is a particular issue of risk clients are free to come and go as they please. In case there is a risk, it is agreed with such clients at the outset that they will leave the Unit only as agreed.

The service is designed for people with mental health problems either in need of respite or going through a crisis which nevertheless is not severe enough to require treatment at the hospital.

There is a weekly yoga class, and the chance to enjoy a massage. There are also relaxation sessions, staff talk you through 'grounding exercises', there is a community meeting once a week, and 'coffee mornings' to socialise. There is also an art and craft session, access to the internet and facilities to do your own laundry.

Most important of all one is treated throughout as if one is important. The food, the homely comforts and the harmony of the surroundings communicate a vital non-verbal message to that effect. The crisis unit is easily, in my opinion, the best mental health service in my borough. Another time I will tell you more about the hospital and what a way we have to go in terms of acute mental health care.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Last few days at Unit

Hi dear peeps. Note to self: get a new computer and maybe a new ISP while I'm at it. My ancient 'puter is so slow to connect, slow to everything, and often disconnects itself without a by your leave. Further note to self: try not to think about the money I gave away to a ne'er do well while I was manic which could easily have bought me a beautiful new 'puter.

Am counting down my last few days in the Crisis Unit. Since I've been here I've struck up some nice friendships with a couple of other bipolar peeps, which has been good. Decided to start going again to the Manic Depression Fellowship (maybe it's called something else now). This latest episode of illness has humbled me. I was too arrogant and tended to think I knew it all. I've had to start over, knowing that there is always more to learn and that other sufferers are often the best teachers. It is also always a huge relief to remember that I'm not the only one dealing with this stuff.

The food here's been excellent, and just a little too plentiful perhaps. The rooms are a bit hot and airless, but there are fans. You can talk to staff when you need to pretty much. I have my review of stay tomorrow which my care coordinator will be coming to and will probably have an overnight stay at home tonight.

Most of the stay I have continued to struggle with depression, but I am definitely calmer and less agitated than before. Thank God for this place. It is everything a crisis service should be, the only drawback is that the maximum stay is two weeks.

Going to yoga class this morning. Take care all. Love, Zoe

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The fog is lifting.

Last two days have seen a vast improvement in my state of mind. I am getting back in touch with possibilities, with hope, with the idea of a future. The self-recriminations have all but gone from my head. That stale, repetitious drone of self-loathing has subsided into silence. I am already picturing a new life, making fresh footsteps into the virgin snow of the future. Shedding the weight of this inevitable and maybe unavoidable depression.

I have some useful new directions for the route, that are, if you like, a gift of this breakdown. I know I need to prioritise relationships and friendships. They are the hardest thing for me, and yet the most important. I cannot continue to avoid dealing with my intimacy issues.

Before I felt horribly trapped. Physically free but mentally and emotionally in a stifling, suffocating dungeon. I felt that my relationship with R is hellish but that I will never be able to make another, so I am trapped in hell. Now the fear is gone. I know once again that I have choices.

Take care all. Lots of love, Zoe.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Should I wipe this blog?

That's what I was thinking yesterday. The idea had appeal then...I was very depressed and tired all day...but I slept well last night and am rethinking now. What appeals is the idea of making a completely fresh start. But perhaps what I also wanted to do is symbolically expunge the last three months, when everything I had so carefully and effortfully built up seemed to come crashing down.

Removing the blog cannot remove this chunk of my life and the unwelcome realities that it has brought to bear on me.

However, it's no longer appropriate to call this the blog of my withdrawal, as I have had to return to taking psych meds. It is the end of an experiment, an episode of my life from which I learned a lot and which was tremendously hopeful and exciting. I guess with all the benefits of hindsight I had too much invested in an idea. From the loneliness I feel in this depression I need to invest more in close relationships and less in ideas.

It's undeniably a blow to my pride not to mention my self-esteem. It's hard to distinguish the feelings of loss and mourning for my 'failure' from the biological imperative of depression following mania, but I know they are there.

Acceptance is calling me now. Calling me on because I know that there is a future for me and a life. I do not expend much energy contemplating suicide: I have been through this routine so many times before. I have been worse than this, a lot worse, and much more suicidal, but I demonstrated to myself that I could absolutely come back from that place relatively intact and live a good life. All the better for having been to hell, because there is that sense of benediction you get in a resurrection of sorts.

I have not really begun to sum up this experiment and what I have learned from it. I can't do it justice right now. I am grateful for the record I have kept of it here, and as thoughts and reflections on it occur to me I can write them down.

There is no guarantee that I won't have a relapse on meds, any more than there was off meds. I have had breakdowns on them, off them, and in the past they were often precipitated by stressful events. However I have been burned by this experience. For the time being I am on meds. I want to get into some therapy that is a good fit for what I need now, and I will continue to review, monitor and explore my feelings about being on meds as well as how the meds seem to make me feel.

Non. Je ne regrette rien! Zoe.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A prolonged whine.

Well I will try not to just give vent to one of those, but can't promise anything. I'm not Ms Stoical, stiff upper lip. When it hurts I cry and prefer to have someone there to hear me!

This week, I have to say, the depression got worse. It's become angry and agitated. My thoughts are my enemy. Even in my sleep there is little peace, because the poison sneaks into my dreams. I couldn't go to work yesterday. I have redoubled my efforts to get into the crisis unit, and it seems the GP has finally sent the risk assessment over, I'm hoping I will hear from them soon, and that they will call me in for an assessment.

However. I have been eating sensibly, healthily and moderately, and enjoying my food. I sleep well. I have been reading Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, which is a memoir in cartoon form. I listen to Radio 4 and get quite absorbed by that sometimes. I even watched a documentary on TV about the Orthodox Jewish community in Stamford Hill, North London. In other words I do get little windows in between the self-recrimination and harsh judgment of my own thoughts.

I went to my Dual Recovery meeting yesterday which was really good. We went for a coffee afterwards. It's the social contact that I need which at the same time feels safe, because everyone there has experienced mental illness. And I had a chance to share about how I'm feeling in the meeting. Openly and honestly and not having to hold stuff back.

Later today I'm meeting two friends at the cafe. Apart from that there's nothing that urgently needs doing. Good. Take care all. Love, Zoe.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Powered by WebRing.

A dreaded sunny day...

...So let's go where we're happy and I'll meet you at the cemetery gates...

Well, the work day is nearly done, I've spent most of it tying myself in painful mental knots but at least I'm still here.

Spent quite a lot of time yesterday scanning various people's handy tips and hints for getting more comments on your blog. Also, reading other people's more successful blogs than mine. When I can get over the painful feeling of envy and inferiority that that engenders at the moment (because I am depressed and basically constantly looking for reasons to feel worse) I begin to understand ways that I can tweak what I'm doing here to make it more reader-friendly and more comment-friendly.

One thing I plead guilty to is not always having answered comments. Apologies to anyone I did that to. I just had not really mastered this aspect of netiquette. Secondly I need to make a point of visiting other blogs, finding some favourites, and commenting. When I comment it's best to have something pertinent to add.

I also need to add more links to my blogroll, and get into the habit of using links in my posts. Asking open questions and inviting comments explicitly is also a good idea. Up till now I've been using this blog mainly as a personal diary, with the aim of monitoring myself, but actually I really value the interactive side of things and want to get more involved in the online communities. As mental patient calls it 'the madosphere'. Hey I did my first link! Hope I got the url right. I'm still a novice at this game! No, stop the press, the correct link is I think!

I'll get there. Love, Zoe

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lonely, sad, needy.

Another sad, Sunday afternoon. R has gone which is probably a blessing for both of us, since I am convinced I am annoying hell out of anyone I'm with and at least I can be miserable on my own with no one to account to for it.

The tendency to compare myself and my lot constantly with others is still there, playng havoc with my head. This week at least I am less inclined to blame R and project my stuff on to him, and instead am directing my ire at myself.

The self-obsession does not make me exactly riveting company no doubt, and the amount of comments on my blogs has dwindled from few to nil accordingly which feeds right into my sense of loneliness.

Overwhelmed by losses. Exhausted, and after a night's sleep wake up more exhausted still. It's almost two calendar months since I became ill. I guess I've just got to give it time.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Some 'me' time...

...Pottering, baking bread, doing chores. Enjoying the house and some peace and quiet.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Only connect...

Another better day today. Although I awoke feeling like crap I went to the AGM of a charity I am a member of and have done voluntary work for, called MATCH (Mothers Apart from their Children). It was a great tonic, it always is (I've been to the last two). It was down by Westminster Bridge, in the heart of Touristland. It did me a power of good seeing old friends and meeting new ones, and hearing the talk by a wonderful lady called Sarah Hart ( about letting go of guilt, caring for ourselves, doing our grieving and keeping the love (for our children) alive, and so on. She was a real inspiration.

Maybe I am getting better. If so, that is short for a depressive episode. I'm probably not out of the woods just yet, anyway we'll see. My referral to the crisis house is being processed but maybe by the time they call me for an assessment I might not need it any more. The panic and anxiety, the intense neediness and loneliness is subsiding. I'm focusing better. I'm taking pleasure in reading, eating and talking. I'm laughing more. It's all good.

People at the AGM who know me all commented on how well I looked, so I guess my year of living dangerously healthily has paid off. All those supplements I'm still shoving down my neck each morning.

Back to the gym this week. No more excuses! Apart from anything else it's money down the drain if I don't go.

Lots of love. Zoe.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Whither my self-esteem?

Shattered and in bits. That's what a manic breakdown does to you. You have to start over. It all takes time, and the depression that follows mania isn't pretty. I've known worse. I've been suicidal, making plans. This time I don't even go there. I know this will pass. All the same, it is hideous.

The worst thing for me is the empty feeling of absolute neediness and dependence. I have nothing inside myself, no resources to buoy myself up. It is a horrible blow to my hard-won pride and self-respect to feel like this again.

HOWEVER. I went to work today. I've lasted the whole day, unlike the other day when I went home in the afternoon. I've completed a few routine, fairly simple tasks and been busy most of the day. Yesterday, likewise, I went to Learn Direct at the library and did two and a half hours worth of my course on Presentations. That was also an improvement on what I managed last time. I guess my concentration is improving, despite myself.

And I'm going to my Dual Recovery Anonymous group this evening. I missed it last week, couldn't face the trip across London. This week, despite myself, despite the pain, I am stronger.

I remember feeling OK and more than OK. I remember I had some rapid cycling mood swings but an underlying sense of well-being. I remember a sense of hope and excitement about this new phase of my life. I remember the delight I felt at being able to take my health into my own hands.

I can get all of that back. I repeat. I CAN GET ALL OF THAT BACK. Maybe I will have to take the blasted meds as well. But all those great things I was doing for myself are still just as important.

And I've got my CBT sessions to begin working on the relationship issues, the difficulties with intimacy. I've identified that as a priority area, if not THE priority area.

Love, Zoe.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Struggling with envy and odious comparisons.

My friend has a new man. She has also lost a shedload of weight. She has tons of close friends. She is going to try for a baby. It's all quite difficult and painful for me, in the sorry state I'm in. She seems to have all that I feel I lack. She even gets along well with her mother and speaks to her on the phone most days.

She also has a serious mood disorder (unipolar depression) and is a recovering alcoholic. She has well and truly been through the mill over the last four years, and certainly deserves a break. But I can't really find it in my heart to be happy for her at the moment. I feel too sad for myself, as if her happiness somehow takes away from mine. Ridiculous I know.

This is a confession. I'm not proud of it. I have talked to her about it. She was understanding. She seems a far more accepting, tolerant person than I am. But there I go again. Feeling 'less than', perceiving her as 'more than'.

This too will pass. At least I bloody hope so. It's horrible to feel like this. Zoe.

Sad and serious post.

I am alive. And while there's life there's hope. For God's sake, I've got my physical health and strength. I will survive this. In time I will get up from this corpse of my shattered self-esteem like Plath's Lady Lazarus and walk on. I'm beginning to remember that others survive far worse challenges. This, at least, is all in my mind. No-one died! I wasn't tortured or raped (thank you BBC World Service) and I haven't just survived a car crash in which both my sons died.

I look back at my life before this breakdown with longing. I have lost the innocence of my belief that I could cure this thing with a lot of hard work and just wanting it badly enough. It just doesn't work that way. My friends at Moodgarden don't want this disorder any more than I do. They have probably done their share of denial. After all, that is a part of the grieving process.

Even the lack of understanding and dismissive attitude of relatives is not uncommon. That is denial too. They don't want to take on board that one so near and dear can be a prey to this illness. It is too threatening to all they think they know. They probably have no idea how hurtful it can be to the person with the illness, who is then burdened further by the assumption that the illness is basically their moral weakness, almost a choice.

I have not been blessed with the backing and support of a strong and united family. And in my relationship I have tended to repeat that pattern, choosing someone who is only ever supportive up to a point and who, when the chips are down, I often feel abandoned by. That just means that I need to find and forge strong bonds with my own family of friends. That is not easy for me. My comfort zone is to be alone...until it becomes painful and distressing.

But it is OK to be where I'm at. Even if that's pretty much rock bottom right now. The dance of life is progress, and it really doesn't matter where you start from, the point is to be on the move, growing, developing, moving nearer the light, reaching out more and more to others, breaking down fear.

This is all quite sad and serious. Heck, I'm depressed. But I will rise again. Watch me!

Saturday, June 7, 2008


It's two and a half years since I last had serious depression. It's a hideous condition. Depression that follows mania is even worse than the usual sort in my experience, because you have to deal with all the fall-out from what you did and said when you were manic. The embarrassment and shame alone could kill you.

I also have to accept that I cannot even carry on with the original raison d'etre of this blog, which was monitoring my life in withdrawal from and free of meds. I am now back on 1000mg Sodium Valproate, an anti-convulsant mood stabilizer.

Not sure whether this means I will have to change the blurb at the beginning of the blog. I think I will have to update it in some way. Otherwise people may come here and then feel short-changed when they find out I am not the dazzling success story that they were looking to read about.

I will have to find some other niche, or just create my own, Zoe-shaped niche, I suppose.

I'm really glad that I did write this blog, though. It's a very useful record and reminder of what life was like off meds. It was by no means all roses. The rapid cycling, milder moodswings were quite disruptive and unsettling. Though they didn't stop me functioning, they made things difficult. I think the Sodium Valproate does dampen those down. It dampens me down overall. This is a trade-off. It's always a trade-off...the side effects for more stability. I do need more stability than I had, even before this episode.

I still have few readers, but this is still early days. Blogging is not a skill that you just learn overnight. How to build an active blog, with comments and discussion, is a whole other thing than just keeping a diary, which has been kind of my mindset up till now. Maybe it's as well. By the time I do develop a readership, there will be an interesting (hopefully!) archive to look back at. On Wordpress, they do that thing 'Posts that I want you to read'. If/when I make it over to Wordpress that would be a useful tool, and encourage me to make more of a conscious effort over some entries.

Depression is awful, excoriating, soul-killing. But I'm already starting to look forward. Optimism and hope will return. I am good at that. Maybe I even have a talent for it, but it's one I've had to use to the fullest, in this life. Even depression, it doesn't actually kill your soul. It just feels like it does. It can't hurt you. Maybe it even has a weird kind of function, one which eludes most of us. It's part of the rich tapestry.

Take care all. More very soon. I'm blogging a lot just now, also over at Moodgarden. People there are great at times like this, so supportive, and it feels safe and protected. Love, Zoe.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Oh dear.

Depression. It's been a long time since I renewed my acquaintance with this old enemy. Where were you all that time? You peeped in the window and a few times chased me around my living room but were usually gone within a few hours. This is the real thing. The real deal, when you know what you are in for when you go to bed. You know you will awake with dread in your heart at the thought of the day ahead. Sleep is the only release, and it is almost too comforting. The contrast with reality is all the more stark and horrible.

Self-confidence is a distant dream. I feel permanently guilty and worthless. I am overwhelmingly needy and dependent but I spend most of the time alone because I can't face social interaction.

I will have to, when this is over, start over. Find new hope and life. I've always been so good at making fresh starts. Just as well, because how many have I already had to make?

I'm just glad I don't have to do anything and that no-one is depending on me. Crying over my keyboard. Have been down on my knees praying to a silent God. My faith is shattered to tiny bits. With all the effort I made I thought I must surely stay well. That isn't how it works.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Struck down by the Big D.

Have sunk into Depression Proper since the weekend. The contact, with all it's emotional content, triggered a lot of stuff, but in any case, I was going that way. Am labouring under a ton of grief, well actually, I've keeled over under the weight of it. Even more or less took to my bed today. Cancelled one meeting which was going to be too challenging (with J's social worker and manager) and now only... only! have to go for a dental check-up. Pretty much every task I have to accomplish is a source of dread, especially social engagements.

But it's hardly a surprise. It is the nature of the beast. The hard part is accepting that, yes, I am still ill, that despite all my efforts to keep a healthy mind, body and spirit, I still had a breakdown. Am now back on 1000mg Sodium Valproate (Epilim). Have not entirely gone full circle to this time last year. But am still absolutely gutted.

I did, however, manage to do one and a half days back at my voluntary work. That really helped, though obviously it wasn't easy going back. Routine tasks and working for a concern bigger than myself, as part of a team, is one of the most therapeutic things I can do. Also managed some yoga. Gave up smoking early last week. Am eating healthily and not too much. But the sadness feels bottomless and overwhelming. All the losses. Because of this illness.

Take care all.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Contact with my Boy...

Yesterday had our afternoon with J. It went really well. However I was a bit hypersensitive because I am recovering from an episode, and I overreacted (afterwards) to a few things he said (about my weight and my frisbee-throwing!) Kind of exploded at Richard in the evening. He was very restrained really, considering the state I was getting in. I was just emotionally overwrought and found the whole thing...the contact, my Mum's presence in my house, the depression, all too much.

However as I say it was a good contact. Enjoyable, quite relaxed, and for once we didn't have to drive for miles. It was nice to take J back to a place that he remembers well from his younger years, with us.

But I am having to readjust to life on earth. When I feel low I think, oh this is it, I'm in for months of this now. When I feel OK I am half waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don't entirely know what to expect. This episode hasn't been typical so far, so I don't know how much I will be affected by the depression. Some, though, is pretty much inevitable. I'm also grieving for my good mental and physical health, for the feeling of well-being, optimism and self-belief that I had when I was completely on the programme.

I can get back to it, but I have to face the fact that even with the yoga, the meditation, the careful nutritious sugar and caffeine-free diet, all the supplements and all the exercise at the gym...oh and the 12-Step Fellowships...I STILL got ill.

Despite this being the Blog of my Withdrawal from the Dread Meds, I now find myself back on Depakote. I'm seeing the doc tomorrow and will negotiate for a lower dose but I think I will stay on it for the time being and observe how it seems to affect me. Whether, for instance, it sorts out the rapid-cycling but mild moodswings that were routine before the psychotic episode.

Am supposed to be back to my voluntary work tomorrow. I know that will not feel easy. I will find it hard to face them. But once I've overcome that initial barrier it should get better.

Take care all! Love, Zoe.

Friday, May 30, 2008


We have contact with my son tomorrow. I talked to his foster mum on the phone today and it wasn't a good conversation. I wanted to ask her opinion about whether Jasper would be OK to come to the house, as he had expressed a desire to look through his old things. I also wanted to register with her my idea that instead of him phoning us we could be allowed to phone him (at specific times). None of it went down well, in fact she seemed put out from the first minute when I said we wanted him to come to London this time.

Previously we have always gone down there (to Hertfordshire), and it's quite a long drive, plus the further drive to wherever we have decided to go. The foster mum did seem to emphasise when I spoke to her last week that it would be OK for him to come to London, one of them will bring him on the train. It's a lot quicker by train. So I was a bit non-plussed when she sighed in an irritated kind of way. Then the conversation just went even further downhill.

It's the first time she has been like this, and it came as a bit of a shock. What is more important is that we are not getting any phone contact and she seems to think that us phoning there will put more pressure on Jasper, and that, as he is doing well lately, she doesn't want to risk it. He basically finds it easier to keep us in a separate compartment. That is how he copes.

I felt that I was a) being a nuisance b) being unreasonable c) somehow a monster by implication, because my son feels better not contacting me. And I know those reactions are a little over the top, but I have been hurting all day. I'm recovering from a breakdown as well, and definitely more insecure as a result.

As I was blogging this I got a phone call from Jasper's social worker who is a nice chap, well-meaning. I asked if we could arrange to meet and we set it up for next week, also with his manager. I have written the manager a letter detailing the concerns I have. It seems though, that the manager has already decided to say no to any changes in the phoning arrangements. I will just have to say well what can we do then?

I am somewhat dreading my mum arriving, somewhat dreading the contact and the weekend in general. It will probably not be as bad as I fear just at this moment.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Psychosis as Wish Fulfilment

Today I'm going to try titling the blog AFTER I've written it. Gives me a chance to work up some inspiration and find out what I'm mainly thinking of today.

Today was a successful day. Cleaned my room, then went to yoga, then to my computer class, then a bit of shopping, chatted to a friend then caught the Tube to Covent Garden and went to see Marjane Sartrapi's Persepolis. Absolutely brilliant...a cartoon (beautifully and movingly drawn) memoir of her life growing up under various Iranian regimes as well as a spell in Vienna and ending up in Paris when her parents more or less told her to leave Iran and never go back (for her own sake)...there was no upbeat, resolved ending, it ended very abruptly actually when she arrives in Paris. I'd been wanting to see that for ages, so I'm really glad I got myself there. It's one of the joys of living in London that I can choose from a seemingly infinite number of films and different cinemas. Nothing better on a damp afternoon like today than disappearing into another world for a few hours.

Hmm, was actually reflecting on the reasons for my psychosis, if indeed there can be said to be reasons. I don't mean triggers, I just mean the underlying psychological motivation for taking as it were a holiday from reality as she is commonly understood. I've got to talk personally, because I only know about me, but there is a lot about reality that I find very hard to stomach. One thing I find hard to stomach is old age and death (oh, don't we all?) Another is the separate existence of all these other humanoids. Apparently just like me, with their own set of thoughts, feelings and impulses. And therefore, to me at any rate, threatening. Then there's all the shit that goes on. People hurting and killing other people. So-called acts of God like earthquakes which hurt and kill thousands albeit in a purely impersonal manner.

The nature of my particular psychosis is that I have the delusion that I am (more or less) God, that therefore I have the power to end the cycle of birth, pain and death, bring Heaven on earth, see instantly into the depths of any human being's soul, etc etc. It is one hell of a powerful wish fulfilment! At the time it feels very real and significant.

Up till now I was ashamed to state the nature of my psychosis so baldly but, I don't know. If you see it as an escape from harsh reality, a prolonged waking dream, the ultimate wish fulfilment, maybe it's not so hard to understand. There's a lot of people outside the pub of an evening when I go past. A lot of them drink habitually to dull that ache. I don't feel the need to do that, but maybe my periodic bouts of psychosis serve somewhat of the same function.

Take care all. Love, Zoe.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Am probably moving to Wordpress...

...that is if I can work out all the tecchie bits and bobs over there. Have set up a blog there and imported all my posts from here, but then noticed that my blogroll there was empty and also that I couldn't figure out how to add a new post! I know...pathetic!

Well had quite a nice weekend with Richard. He stayed over two nights as it was Bank Holiday. It's been pissing down yesterday and today. Yesterday had a bit of a mood wobble a propos of nothing in particular. Suddenly felt really low, needy and desperate for reassurance. It lasted approx two hours. It just went away by itself.

In the old days I was classic Bipolar 1. After maybe six or eight weeks of out of control mania I would slowly but surely descend into at least two or three months solid depression featuring suicidal ideation.

This time has been very different. Yeah, I have been prey to deluded thinking. Yeah I have done a few things I now regret. However none of them was dangerous or really destructive, I didn't become promiscuous or have any inclination to. I didn't really enjoy the mania. Actually I noticed very many physical symptoms which often eclipsed the mental stuff. I was a lot more aware of what was going on.

And now that I am very much touching down back where I was before all this kicked off I note a so far complete absence of the kind of protracted severe depression I used to succumb to. Frankly I am amazed and exhilarated by this realisation. However I am still subject, as always to unpredictable moodswings, witness my wobble yesterday.

Next on the agenda: give up this appalling smoking. I give myself no more than a week to do that but hope I can kick it in the next few days. I want to have finished with the Weed by next weekend when I see my boy. He hates me smoking. Hell, I hate me smoking.

Then, item by item, I will reinstate all the things I was doing before back into my life. Take care all. Love, Zoe.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Domestic mortality... opposed to Nigella's Goddess. Been cleaning, cooking, baking bread, shopping, washing, oh you know the drill. Saw the Crisis Team this morning and tried not to wind them up too much. Bit tired. Still not got gym-energy back.

Back to my pernnial moan: waah, everyone has more readers than me, and right now do not have the energy or the ingenuity to do anything much about it.

Listening to James Bond on BBC Radio 4. It's a clevering-up treatment of a genre that usually leaves me cold, which I've found quite listenable.

Looking forward to Richard coming over. Run dry of ideas for now...Love, Z.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hello lovelies!

I can hardly contain my probably unseemly delight that no less a personage than Jane has linked to me. It feels as if I have suddenly and unexpectedly achieved a lifetime's ambition after years of poorly-rewarded effort. Watch out Zoe, she linked to you, but probably got you mixed up with someone else! She can unlink when she reads your shameless grovelling comment on her blog, that let's face it, is only there because she linked to you!

Oh hell, I know how ridiculous I am! Now I feel I have something to live up to, and I have that feeling that apparently a lot of people in high-powered jobs have, that it's only a matter of time before 'they' find out.

I'm no good at being something I'm not so I just have to gulp, bite the bullet and carry on with the usual ravings my mostly non-existent readers have come to know ( if not love) me for. Anyway, as I noted on my Moodgarden blog (yes, there's more of this over there under username 'Stricken' for anyone who just can't get enough! You have to have a mood disorder and join first though!) I am narcissistic in the extreme. I am so 'up' myself that probably people are just struck dumb or incorrectly deduce that I don't require their reflections or comments.

Anyway, back on Planet Earth...I am quite perky today (even more so now of course!) As I might have said before, this episode is nothing like previous ones. I have got to say it, all my efforts to treat the illness holistically, by means of yoga, meditation, careful diet (and veganism), exercise and a highly structured lifestyle HAVE paid dividends. I am really a transformed person. Listening to Mary J Blige 'No More Drama' on my Ipod and she is pretty much mirroring where I feel I'm at in my life. Soap operas, even real-life ones, have very limited appeal for me. They are just not nearly real enough. The kind of blogs that drivel on about MIL's visit (Mother-in-Law for the uninitiated), OK, I'm sorry, they often seem to garner a lot more readers than I can muster, but, in Morrissey's words 'I was bored before I even began'.

The Soap of Zoe and her phantasmagorical inner and outer life is what fascinates me. OK I might have a job persuading anyone else to be equally interested but at least I'm levelling with you dear and most cherished readers.

But I've harassed you enough for one day. Take great care until the next time...Zoe.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hello oh thankless blog!

Yes blog, you are a little thankless. All the literary efforts I pour out here and they are apparently hardly read let alone appreciated! It's almost embarrassing how few readers I seem to have. What is more, blog, while we're at it, sometimes you don't even let potential readers access you. Why blog, why?

I seem destined to struggle on in almost total obscurity. And never to meet that Perfect Partner that I raved so psychotically about in my last entry.

Heard the song that goes 'If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with'? Well that is the story of my life. However I'm feeling a little old for that philosophy, and getting pickier all the time. My so-called psychosis doesn't help. I daren't tell you in bald terms what my biggest and most grandiose delusion is. Any readers that I've accidentally garnered would no doubt scuttle off in fright if I did. Let's draw a veil.

I've developed a sort of tunnel vision in the course of this episode. I hardly look to left or right. There is very little pleasure in my life. OK, that's part of depression. But the mania wasn't any fun either. I'm pretty much completely anhedonic. I enjoy (sometimes) smoking a roll-up, eating and sleeping. The last, only because there is no consciousness. I don't wake up depressed. I am still a morning person.

This episode has resulted in an almost complete personality change in many other ways though. I mean, smoking! After three years 'clean'! Eating shedloads of sugar! After being Patrick Holford's Number One disciple. Drinking coffee again...ooh how lovely it is to have the license to do that!

Still have my gym membership but not the physical or mental strength to get down there just yet. My life is still struggling to right itself, like one of those toys with weight in the bottom. However I did get to my yoga class yesterday and managed to do the whole practice which I was pleased about.

Still have the Crisis Team coming round which feels more like a duty I have to perform than something I actively take spiritual sustenance from. But they have acted in good faith throughout so I must return the compliment.

Am attending Dual Recovery Anonymous meetings which are more than a duty. However, do find going all the way into central London a bit of a trial to the nerves. Try to shelter behind the armour of my Ipod as best I can. Am simply overwhelmed by the utter futility of most people's lives. Which is sort of a reversal of the usual depressive story...where it's your own futility that overwhelms you most. I am still meekly waiting to inherit the earth...'if that's all right with the rest of you'.

I know, I'm grandiose, psychotic, lacking in insight. There's nothing you can tell me about that that I don't know and worse, have to live with every day. Pity me, don't judge I beg you! I have given up on fitting in. I never will. I'm not normal and believe me I really have given it my best shot.

Take care dear peeps. Love, Zoe.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mama's got a brand new bag...

Yeah, I spilt orange juice all over my last one (brown leather). This one suits me better so 'bye-bye'. What can I tell you? Been sleeping a lot better. Have done crack once in a week which I reckon amounts to moderation. Am cooking, eating better. My Ipod still helps me get through the days. Whivh are far too long. Only really happy when I'm asleep, hey, you know the drill.

This episode is different, so very different from previous ones. Still addicted to listening to music, whereas usually once I'm depressed I don't want to know. Can laugh and smile with the right people. Don't feel ugly and worthless most of the time.

I feel powerful. I know I am powerful. They say that's the biggest aphrodisiac but maybe that's just men because I'm finding it has the opposite effect. Can't get a new man in my life for love or money. In the meantime Richard is a treasure. It's just he's only with me twice a week. When he leaves I plummet down again.

Tocay I plan on going to the Farmer's Market to get some fresh local produce. Generally getting back into the old routine but minus the self-pressure to get a job etc. It doesn't matter a tuppenny damn whether I work or not. Get back into my spiritual practice too. My fellowships. Keep lighting the candles, burning the incense and hope that Higher Power will have pity on me eventually and bring that new man into my life. The one who will be powerless to resist!

Love you...Zoe.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mood check on a scale of 1 to 10...

Hi peeps. Yesterday was pretty shit as I felt myself start to plummet down. However Richard was here and that cheered me up. This morning I feel a bit better. Still generally despairing about my single status. In answer to your question Jana, yeah for sure I want and need a life partner. I'm 46 for God's sake. And menopausal! That's a lot of years to be on your own.

Have upped the ante on the healthy diet. Now have much fewere sweets. No need, as I no longer have that permanent awful taste in my mouth.

Thanks to Richard's son I've now got a recharged mobile phone so hopefully some of my friends (so-called!) will rally round. I can absolutely never depend on that though. When depressed I have the effect on people of a magnet in reverse. They are repelled without even realising it. And when high, oh don't they all love to crowd around and have a good laugh.

Moodgardeners who make it here, I tried to blog at Moodgarden just now and was told in no uncertain terms that I could not blog there. Wonder what that was about? Am I considered a dangerous subversive in those parts for being part of the withdrawal community? Doubt it. The MGers are far too nice to engage in that kind of exclusion. Anyone who comes here can access the blog at MG, but you have to be bipolar or depressed, and join first. My user name is Stricken.

Good thing I've got this place anyway. Thanks to Gianna at Bipolar Blast for her very kind and helpful message of support by email. Love you all folks...Zoe.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Calling Interwebbers anonymous...

Hi there. Checking in for the day. Had a much better night's sleep thanks to the doc's advice yesterday to take my Zyprexa last thing. Consequently feel much fresher, and have had a nice bath and breakfasted on wheat-free toast and black coffee. Still Ipodding away. Determined not to let any of youse fuck up my day!

Admittedly it's lonely in my little house all alone. Even the Crisis Team come as a welcome relief, especially now they've decided to actually start helping me instead of firing off irrelevant and inane questions. An Occupational Therapist even came yesterday and helped me a great deal by making constructive suggestions about how to best pass the time. I followed his advice to go for a walk in my local park, Alexandra Palace. Enjoyed nature, seeing happy mothers with their babes and an orange ice lolly in the shade when I got to the top, at the boating lake. He also sensibly told me to leave my fags at home, and I did that too.

What do I have to complain of? I am sure you can hear that 'but' coming! Well same old same old. I'm lonely. I would like a full-time partner, and would even consider trading in Richard for a new model, as neither he nor I wants to live together. Everyone needs someone! I ain't no nun!

Don't get me wrong. Richard is an absolute treasure, and without him I quite simply would not have made it thus far. He's kind and decent to a fault. But my friend Angie says 'he is Immanence and I am Transcendence. He is stronger than I am and squashes me flat in any dispute. Plus he has the trump card of being able to leave me with equanimity. he loves me to bits but we both know that we are not life partners. And he has a roving eye!

Angie also gave me a new phrase to conjure with. She said that she has 'Gemini Status'. Made being born in June seem like a disease! I thought that was very funny and clever and immediately started to talk about having Gemini Status myself despite being born in unlucky old Pisces! What it implies first and foremost is the feling that you are a two for the price of one. Also, that you have a twin who you may or may not know. In Peter Cook's words, 'Tragically I was an only twin'.

Waxing philosophical here. Well it makes a change from talking about the blasted laundry. I have aspirations to develop a reputation for reliability, dependability and being ultimately a very down to earth person. Coulfd have my work cut out, 'cause none of the planets in my horoscope are in Earth signs, not one. Correction, my Pluto is in Virgo, but so is that of millions of other, because Pluto moves exceeding slowly. Oh Zoe I hear you groan, you don't believe all that stuff do you? Put it this way, I'd like to. Astrology makes life seem so simple. I devour astrology books in the same way other women devour Mills and Boon romances.

Enough Thoughts for the Day for now. I'm off to smoke another skinny roll-up. I now look pregnant by the way from all the sweeties. God make me whole and healthy again. Amen. Love you! Zoe xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, May 12, 2008

Well hello Internet!

All these secure web pages would make a lesser person impatient if not frankly honicidal but we vegans are made of stronger stuff! Did you know? That vegans make good body builders and marathon runners? Zoe's Thought for the Day.

How am I today? I'm really f****** good actually since you ask! I feel fucking amazing. See if that one makes it on to the Net. The Man can't ban me, the waves can't silence me, I'm out of the motherfucking closet screaming Hi honeys I'm home! And the policemen in England are my friends, har har har!

Scuse the dodgy cackling but what do you expect of a menopausal minx living in Horny Hornsey North London? Listening to hard core hip-hop fresh from the ghetto until her shell-like ears bleed?

Revealing myself to myself seems to be the order of the day and as I believe in focusing on the job in hand that's what I'm gonna do. Delusions of grandeur are a thing of the past. If I ever get that stack of ironing done though, just nail my head to the ironing board because my effing life is short too iron!

Emptying ash-trays, making black coffee, cooking dinner from raw veggies, shopping for provisions and upping the ante on my healthy diet are mainly what I'm about 'Just for Today'. A also mindfully light incense and candles but rarely get round to any meditation. I'm more of a contemplative by nature. Sometimes my own reflection tells me just what I need to know, and if that makes me guilty of 'Narcissitic Personality Disorder' then it's a fair cop Guv. I'm on the money and in England that's the Queen's head we see.

I love you all dear readers but better 'fess up. I love myself even more.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, May 11, 2008

It's just all moan moan moan....

Poor me! Can't sleep and personality appears to change by the hour if not by the minute. Takes absolutely forever to get connected to this internet thingy and all. But suppose I should check in with you lot anyway. If only to have a bit of a rant.

Y'see, sometimes the battle's not over even when it's won. Sometimes it gets worse AFTER it gets better. That is truly soul-destroying. Sometimes you seem to be taking one step forward and two back. Sometimes...

Me boyfriend is puzzled. I can't explain myself to myself let alone to him. Expecting a rational explanation...well frankly he should know me bettr than that by now, but I appear to have just contradicted myself.

Doctor doctor, no-one understands me! I think I'm a pair of curtains... 'Pull yourself together'.

I am up at half two in the bloody morning and getting uglier by the minute as I dismally fail to get the required beauty sleep. Still they expect me to listen to all the pop music din with equanimity. I ask can anyone? My disguise is just not cunning enough and I just might be the real slim shady.

But Zoe, NO-ONE listens to Eminem anymore. We have so moved on! He's cold product.

How about bourgeois bohemians living in Hornsey North London practising yoga, meditation and partaking in twelve-step fellowships? With a kid's future to think of, vegan to boot (though at the moment I am stuffing sweets down my gullet like there's no tomorrow). Well? How many of them listen to Eminem? Oh and I'm forty-six and menopausal, that ups the weirdness stakes even more.

Admittedly my life has become unaccountably more colourful of late. Have spent the afternoon in a police cell in Hornsey after smashing a pane of glass in the front door of a friend of mine who I was smoking crack with. Next day I collapsed in the street and had to be ambulanced to the local hospital (physical this time). All tests came back normal. BUT I'M NOT NORMAL!

And then there's this blog. On the rare occasions when the internet condescends to let me access it I notice the phenomenal level of silence here...With all my literary gifts I can only capture a small handful of kind readers who probably feel more sorry for me than anything else. But if you are good at reading between the words, you will notice I have a fuck of a lot to say! Other people go all around the houses. I get to the point! Is that the problem we ask ourselves? Well it's probably the same one Eminem had. Or whatever he calls himself these days.

Have now joined the Ipod generation thanks to the strenuous efforts of my beloved Richard. Intend getting into my bubble and refusing to let anyone bother me very much at all in the next few weeks. If that's alright with the rest of you.

Love and hugs...despite everything...and all comments welcomed. Even the dodgy ones will probably tell me something. Zoe.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Here at last!

Wherever the on the road back leads to folks...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Hello dear peeps!

Although actually you are in disgrace and persona non grata with me because you haven't been commenting again. How very dare you as we say in England!

I have been admitted to psych ward in the intervening coupla weeks since we last spoke. Managed to do only a single solitary hellish week before getting sprung out of the goddamn place. Pretty good huh?

I live not just a charmed life but a pretty funky one and one that simply demands to be shared with you lot and the world in gerneral. You would not believe some of my adventures, fact is stranger than fiction and the biggest miracle of all is that I am sat here typing away at my blog after literally yesterday being banged up in a psych ward.

How are all my mythical readers anyway? Please let me know I am not typing all of this in vain. Have pity? Even a Smartphones blogger from Brazil is better than nothing and beggars can't be choosers.

Please my honeys. Email me if you know my email. I daren't give it out though. Love you... a recuperating, Zoe. xxx

Friday, April 18, 2008

Changing my name!

Well actually, I want to change my blog name. On the road back is not only boring, dull, unoriginal and uninspired, it's already been done! By someone on a blooming weight loss program! I probably shouldn't say this here, but, well, her whole blog consists of what she has and hasn't eaten! After reading that I went even more off my blog title than I was before. Something must be done!

So I had a little solo brainstorming session and haven't come up with the perfect name yet, surprise surprise! 'Am I still ill', after the celebrated Smiths' song was a possible, but I thought it was a little on the negative side! Oh what's in a name...

Am blogging from work again. Ironically seems to be the only spare time I have to write this blog. After work I thought I would go to the Phoenix in East Finchley (wonderful independent cinema) to see the new Mike Leigh, 'Happy go lucky'. A nice blast of positive lightness just what the doctor ordered.

Actually I've had a good week. Despite things going pear-shaped yet again with Richard I feel happy, positive, reasonably stable. More confident. Definitely more confident. And in the Spring a middle-aged woman's thoughts turn to lerve, do they not? That's a young man? Now you're being both sexist and ageist...

The very words middle-aged do not factually describe a state, you will notice. Let's face it I can no longer call myself 'young' at 46...yet the words 'middle-aged' carry a baggage of secondary meanings, or should that just be 'a baggage'.

My best female friend has a new love in her life. It's early days but frankly, I want a piece of the action too! Got to pack up it's nearly home-time... All ideas for a blog title will be gratefully received and absolutely no prizes for the winner! Love you... Zoe

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Good Lord!

Someone from a Brazilian blog promoting 'Smartphone' commented on my last entry...nice comment, shame about the blog. Not that I could understand it, it might be the deepest postmodern irony for all I know...Then again can beggars be choosers? Well OK, just for the record, comments are great but if you are selling something, don't bother! Thinks, did I mention phones in my last entry? It reminds me of those Orange mobile ads you get at the cinema...'Lord of the Ring Tones'.

Anyway, down to business. I have had a good few days. Had an almighty row with Richard at the weekend (anyone discerning a pattern here?) Was completely overwhelmed and overpowered by my feelings of frustration and hopelessness about our relationship. Seemed to have little choice but to watch myself turn into that all-too-familiar monster once again. It reminded me of past relationships when I was (even more) immature and just fell into the wrong kinds of connections which made me feel stifled and trapped. I fear that more than almost anything else, and in fact in later years the choices I've made in relationships reflect the need to feel free and independent even though the reality is, I'm not. Hence, I've never lived with Richard. He has always stayed in his house and I in mine.

Well now that I'm doing CBT perhaps I am less inclined to analyse why I feel that way and more to look at the processes and mechanisms that tend to create those feelings with a view to stopping. Certainly, after my last sojourn into psychoanalytical group therapy, and then discovering the delights of the 12-step Program, I am very disinclined to keep digging over the past. Been there, got the T-shirt and thanks for all the fish.

Quite enjoyed the session today. A new person showed who is the mother of an old friend of my son's, who I therefore knew quite well from the local school. Also my great friend is in the group. So it's a fun thing to go to, together, and then we go for a coffee and a gossip afterwards. And today I was most delighted and intrigued to hear about a new romance with a mutual acquaintance! I immediately identified with what was going on for her, feeling envious, pleased, excited and fearful for her all at once.

It seems a timely thing that I'm in a CBT group now. My fear of change is making me very intolerant of Richard...yes, although I have made ENORMOUS changes in my life in the last year I am still mighty fearful of making new connections, showing my vulnerability, acknowledging attraction to people and so on. My friend has been able to make a new connection. It may not work out, or it may, but she has basically had more bottle than me, even though she is suffering far more from depression and related states of mind than I am.

At the grand old age of 46 I am realising that there are worse things under Heaven and on Earth than rejection. Like being forever unfulfilled and dying alone and full of regrets for what might have been for instance! I will soon be at the point where I can openly engage in a flirtation with someone I really like! Well, why not think positive. You have nothing to lose but your hang-ups.

Have been asked to do a 'chair' at my local OA meeting. Aargh, was my first thought. Damn, I'll do it was my second, hot on the heels of the first.

Love everyone and everything. Take care! Zoe

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Been Spring cleaning...

...or rather, Spring tidying, or rather rationalising my impressive collection of papers, files, books and magazines. About six white bin-bags of papers have made their way outside, ready for the recycling men. It feels like having a really good s***! Excuse my earthy metaphor, but I'm sure you know what I mean! It's great to see my bookshelves tidy, with an actual space underneath the bottom shelf instead of a jumble of muddled up, out of date phone books and such. I really recommend it if you want a mood lift!

That, of course, is if you aren't too low to find the motivation for such tasks. They can seem daunting at first. I actually felt quite low this morning myself and went out for a wander for no better reason than that I could not bear my own four walls any longer. I'm a bit low about Richard. We had another big row last Wednesday and he is still upset about it and didn't want to come round yesterday. Which has highlighted to me in no uncertain terms that the problems we had in our relationship before have not miraculously gone away. Surprise!

As a couple we have never learned to use conflict constructively. For awhile things will be hunky dory then suddenly they are not. And the more active, proactive and involved I become in recovery and my many and various projects the more obvious it becomes that he is just not engaged in the same way. He seems to feel quite defeated at the moment by the job business. I could say a lot more but I don't want to put this in a public space...I guess it's not fair to him. Plus, he might read it and feel unhappy.

Anyway I'm going to my Dual Recovery Anonymous meeting this evening. Take care all! Love - Zoe.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Blogging at work.

Grabbing some spare time on a quiet afternoon at work to check in here. Had a great with my son went really well, despite the yucky, wintry weather. He was on such good form. I haven't seen him so well and balanced since I don't know. He wanted to go to a wildlife park so we did. He took a ton of pics with the digital camera I bought him for Christmas. He is a dab hand with it and apparently has been using it a lot, so that was a success. The big cats, as always, were the stars of the show...some 'white' lions, a 'white' tiger (and a massive ordinary tiger) and...a pair of snow leopards, they are so special.

Mum and Richard both came too. After we dropped him back off with Jo we drove back to London and went out for a splendiferous meal at Jai Krishna's, one of our favourite veggie Indians. After wandering about in the cold and wet all afternoon we had worked up an appetite.

Mum and Richard both went home about mid-afternoon on Sunday. My mood promptly took a bit of a dive, and stayed low for the duration of Monday, which I spent working at the library. Aargh! I am beginning to feel that working in a public library is not for me. In the afternoon I was put upstairs on the Junior section. It's more like an after-school club than anything else, and I felt like a spare part most of the time because I still don't know how to do the many, many little procedures I have to learn. Well, it's only my third day but I'm starting to wonder how anyone learns this stuff. And whether this is going to really be for me.

So here I am at my other job, not that busy but nevertheless grateful that it is a whole lot easier on my nerves than the library. Had an early night last night, feeling utterly exhausted and managed to get up early for yoga and meditation, which did me good. Still have yet to really carry out that resolution I made about visiting and commenting on more blogs and raising my blog profile. When I'm low and tired as I was last night I don't tend to go on the 'puter.

Ah well, another day another dollar, and now I have two days off. Though it's going to be a busy week. Am starting CBT seminars tomorrow, and then there's the Emilia project on Thursday. Somehow have to fit in Learn Direct and the gym. Take care all.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Spring is here!

Hi dear readers. I've been thinking, among other things, about my blog. Have realised that I would actually like more readers, and with a view to increasing my readership, am resolved to visit more blogs, and not just lurk but comment! That is crucial! And probably stick to my main sphere of interests for this mental health, recovery in mental health, the role of nutrition, exercise and spirituality. It probably won't ever be a particularly polemical or political blog. Apart from anything else that is already being done by many who do it better than I would. This is above all a personal story of recovery, and well, can you ever get too many of those?

Let me clarify. I am not 'recovered' from mental illness but I am very much 'in recovery' from it. That could very easily be a lifetime's work, but as for claiming to be recovered, well that's a big claim. I have been tempted to say it over the last year of withdrawal and a vast improvement in my overall health, but the last few weeks have demonstrated to me more than adequately that I still have to work with and around a mood disorder of some degree.

I had a much better day at the library today. After literally being in a state of high anxiety and fear for much of the last two weeks about it! Remarkably I didn't even have to tell anyone 'I feel anxious about going on the counter'. One of the higher-ups said I should really have been given some proper training before being put on the desk. Another reassured me that if I felt stressed out by anything I had to do, just to say and they would give me something else! I could really have hugged both of them on the spot.

I did quite a bit of re-shelving (which is strangely enjoyable!) , did some 'book prep' (where you mend books or strengthen them and put various labels on) and even went on the counter a bit, always with someone there though. There were no big queues, or angry customers! You get two tea breaks and an hour for lunch. The people are really friendly. It's actually pretty good! I am doing this work experience in order to establish whether I might pursue a library/information career. Well obviously the jury is still out but from today's experience I think there's a good chance.

Take care all!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I'm still struggling with depression. Heartily wish I didn't have to do any work at all right now but instead am doing the minimum. Also postponed my contact with my son from this weekend to next. Gives me a chance to see my doc on Monday and see what can be done. I would like to get a salivary hormone test, as the blood tests I have had before don't seem to tell you very much and can be misleading in my experience. Don't know if my doc can or will refer me to this service.

Some of this may be triggered by psychological issues, such as my difficulties around work and relationships. Even I have got to be shocked by the degree of tension, anxiety and sheer dread I experience at the thought of the workplace. A lot of it is centred on the people I have to interact with at work. I am experiencing a crippling shyness, partly stemming from my feeling of inadequacy and inferiority around work. I didn't think working in a quiet office or in a library - a library for God's sake - would expose me too much socially, but remarkably, it does. Or rather, when I feel vulnerable, which is quite frequently, I can't cope with 'normal' social interaction at work.

For the first time since I withdrew from meds I am facing the fact that my pre-existing problems have not miraculously disappeared. Back to the goddamn drawing board. Thought I'd better check in but haven't the strength or the inspiration to write any more now. Zoe.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Just keepin' on keepin' on.

Hi y'all. Well, I've had my week off. It's been mixed, but at least partly enjoyable. Today I met some chums from Dual Recovery Anonymous in Euston. We went for a fab slap-up veggie Indian meal at Diwana's in Drummond Street, then crossed the road to the Wellcome Institute which has a fascinating free exhibition of artefacts from the Wellcome collection. Quite an eclectic mix with a vaguely medical and scientific theme. From Darwin's walking stick, Florence Nightingale's shoe to a mummified corpse, Hieronymous Bosch's paintings and Japense erotica. Really weird, wayout and wonderful. We really enjoyed ourselves, then went for a cuppa in their beautifully designed, minimalist cafe. Chewed the fat thoroughly about some of the drawbacks of Twelve Step fellowships for people with mental health problems. It was very refreshing and fun and pretty much totally un-stressful..

I cheered up a lot in the course of the day having been glum in the morning despite a workout in the gym. I was anxious too about going back to work tomorrow. But I travelled back on the bus with my good friend and she somehow eased my mind by understanding my issues around work...and pinpointing them as about rehabilitation into the 'normal' world... gaining acceptance, challenging stigma and alienation. If it was easy, well probably a lot more people would 'return' from serious mental health issues to tell the tale and be fully rehabilitated. As it is, we are the exception that proves the rule. Just being so well understood by someone who really knows me well, I felt a weight lift off me...a weight of shame, twisted-up feelings, hurt, wounded ego, dread, fear and heaven only knows what else.

She said maybe the work issues are triggering these moodswings up to a point. It's a chicken and egg, both things fed into each other. One thing is for sure. I cannot butt out now. I'm in the middle of the pain barrier and must keep on pushing through it until the pain eases and I begin to see clearly what my issues really are. At the end of it I'm doing this for me. It's a discipline akin to getting up at six-thirty to do yoga and meditate. Sure I would rather stay in the comfort zone of my warm bed. I just know that this chrysalis stage can't last forever, and I must keep pushing through until I burst out into the Spring sunlight.

Lots of love. And if you are reading, do drop by and say hi! It gets echoey in here!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My main emotion was relief...

...this week and gratitude that I had some me-time. I badly needed to take stock, relax and rest. The day after my last entry I picked up a lot. Helped by (at last) getting the birthday card and letter from my son.

What is clear is that I still have a pronounced bipolar tendency, or at the very least, cyclothymia. My moods have a tendency to dominate my life, and no-one could say that I neglect my health in any way. I'm doing all the right things. Still my moods have a tendency to take charge of me rather than the other way around. Thank God for my spiritual life. Sometimes it is all I have that is effective against the mood demon. Sometimes I'm left clinging to it like a piece of driftwood in a stormy sea.

Anxiety over work issues looms large at the moment. That's clear from reading the last few blog entries and seeing what a preoccupation it is. Work as I think I said before, is a trigger. It triggers the recollection of all I have missed through these years of debilitating mental illness, which in turn sets off feelings of inadequacy, uselessness, incompetence, inferiority and...crippling shyness. Morrissey's line 'No I've never had a job because I'm too shy' could have been written about me. I lack a normal sense of being protected by my skin. Other people scare me and threaten me just by existing in that separate but parallel way they have. No wonder I ended up escaping into mania.

Not that I'm about to let any of that make me give up on it. Only by persistence can I come to terms with the work demon and convert it into a friend or at least neutralise it. I'll keep on keeping on. Nothing worth having ever comes easy. Besides I have the perspective of maturity. That's a gift that the passing years have brought. I am basically cognizant of just how incredibly fortunate and blessed I am. I have led a charmed come back from some of the places I have been to not only intact but whole and healthy is testimony to that. To have work issues is a high-class problem for someone who has been repeatedly locked up, who has totally lost her mind on countless occasions, endangering myself and possibly others.

Above all I am grateful for the presence in my life of a Higher Power.

There's been so much to tell this week. I almost have pressure of speech trying to somehow get it out. My inner life is so overwhelming sometimes. Even that is a privilege in a way. There's such a richness of experience inside me that others don't necessarily know about. When I share at my OA group I feel like an outsider, never really fitting in and not by any means sure I even fit the description of 'compulsive overeater'. But I'm inclined to accept that and even celebrate it. My only fear is that others will be annoyed at my presence in the group. After all that wouldn't be a new experience for me. In one way I'm most at home in groups (more than pairs for instance!) In another I have a history of challenging them without necessarily even realising it.

Take care dear readers...thank you whoever makes it to this blog. It's the literary equivalent of a sketchy overgrown footpath that the Ramblers Association are trying to keep open. Hardly a main road then! Love, Zoe.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Like wading through wet concrete...

...that's my life at the moment. Started at the library. The morning was fine when I was being given my induction. In the afternoon though I was a bit daunted at having to go on the counter and deal with the public. There are loads of fiddly little things to learn have to use a scanner and a mouse. I felt terribly inadequate.

What was even worse than of the customers was a woman I'd been in a therapy group with. I had ended up leaving because I basically couldn't handle what I felt at the time were remarks that crossed the line. I've never really regretted leaving, though at the time I felt pushed out. Anyway she was friendly and I was friendly back, she wasn't really the one I had a problem with although she was a kind of catalyst that affected the dynamics of the group.

But oh my God I didn't want her to see me make a fool of myself on my first day in a new job. Seeing her just made me feel even more painfully exposed than I did already. Then she was talking about her daughter. It all just fed right into my depression, low self-esteem and sadness over Jasper not ringing and not sending me a birthday card. I can't help feeling there's got to be a reason for it. And I'm already low, ready to read negative interpretations into...whatever. Roll on the CBT seminars that I'm booked onto in April. Any sense that I no longer require therapy was premature.

I was just relieved to get out of the library, and become anonymous in the street again. It will probably take me a while to process all of this. These feelings, which are making my life intermittently hellish. I've also got to do things like contact Jasper's social worker. I've bought him an Easter egg and card which I've wrapped up all ready to send tomorrow. Thank God I don't have to work for the next week...the servers are down at my other job and my line manager phoned to say I needn't come in. We also have the Easter weekend. Usually I don't care for bank holidays but the way I feel right now I'm just relieved I don't have to struggle on at work.

I did feel better for awhile after doing some shopping for Jasper's egg and some hairdye, etc. My hair is utterly disgusting today...all greasy and lank. But I'm too wrung out to do the dye job tonight.

One of the few things that helps me feel somewhat OK is doing my yoga in the morning, and meditating and praying afterwards. At times like this, though it's hard to even get out of bed, I need these things more than ever. For the first time since I came off psych meds I am seriously contemplating going back on them. Well maybe not seriously, but contemplating. And I've booked an appointment to see my doc to discuss the moodswings and the HRT. Take care all, a weary Zoe.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pretty low.

Oh dear. I perked up a bit at the gym yesterday and while Richard was here but now he's gone I feel a bit s***. Starting at the library tomorrow. Now 46. And computer playing up. And I haven't had a card from Jasper. He phoned yesterday and I was out and he hasn't phoned again. Not good. Haven't the heart to blog right now. Take care.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Still moody after all these years...

Ohmigod. First two days of this week I was up and away and ready for anything. Halfway through Wednesday I started to crash. I am thinking 'hormones'. And maybe, 'HRT'. I've been on it for about six months now and at first it seemed miraculous in its effects. Now I am less sure. My appetite has been out of control too...cravings for sweets, even though I don't go near sugar any more. Also been waking quite early. And getting terribly tired. Haven't been to the gym all week. Just couldn't face it.

It isn't mental health problems as I've known them in the past...there seems very little danger of a recurrence of psychosis or severe persistent depression. However these rapid and unpredictable moodswings are impacting on my life. They don't prevent me from working or functioning, but they do make me feel fairly miserable at times. In the course of a few days, even hours, it's all change. Today I was massively fed up at work, yet the other day I really enjoyed it. It isn't the blasted work. It's me!

Will be starting a new voluntary job at the library on Monday. So that will be three days working out of five.

Still pretty down, and I am doing pretty much every damn thing I can to be well. It occurred to me today that work itself does trigger me the sense that in an average, office environment I am faced with facts about my life that I find difficult. For instance, I have been on state benefits for the best part of twenty years...for a lot of that time I was too ill to work and as a result I have missed out on a career or even gaining significant work experience in the professional world. Whether I can really catch up now is doubtful, however good I am at learning and so forth. I'm going to be forty-six tomorrow. The best I can hope is to defy my age somewhat by keeping mentally and physically fit. I feel so depressed right now that I'd better not even carry on down this route...I just can't find it in me to be positive and I just hope to God that I'll feel better tomorrow.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Feeling better...

...and hope I will be out of my little trough soon. I guess I was a bit gung-ho about the work thing to start out with. The other shoe had to that the right expression? Well anyone bipolar knows the score. The knack is to ride these mood waves and prevent them from derailing us too badly...but if I am forced to pretend normality I am afraid I will fail every time. For God's sake, I'm working in a mental health organisation and I already feel pressured to keep the mask up. Because it's an office and I'm on the reception desk! If it was at all a busy reception I think I would chicken out of's just too exposing for my hypersensitive little bipolar soul!

Anything regarding work is a steep learning curve for me. I've been, in some ways, privileged to be able to do my own thing for years and years without having any significant money worries or restrictions. Now I'm discovering something about how the other half live. My ego is having to take a battering, and my self-esteem is suffering too. I basically feel like the office dogsbody...I'm the only volunteer and it can't be coincidence that I'm having to do stock-checking (YAWN!) post franking and entering lists of names and figures in a book for the finance department. Is it for this that I got a first class degree in languages?

Whither my grandiosity! Still there, but in reduced circumstances! I have to withhold any conclusions about my current work situation because, please note dearest reader, I'm a little bit low! I have to bite my tongue, which feels like giving vent to an outbreak of Tourette's, and play the good, docile office worker. My ego has to bear feeling incompetent and clumsy at even these most basic of tasks.

I'll give it time. And as I'm only doing two days a week I have plenty of time to scan the job market. Surely a paid job can scarcely be harder work than bloody volunteering! Take care all...Love, Zoe.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Been a little bit low...

...and been having a crisis of confidence about the work thing. Been having to fight feelings of reluctance and resentment about going into my voluntary work. Long to somehow connect my abilities with the task but there's no flow at all at the moment. I feel like I'm doing tasks that any idiot could do. Coupled with that when I browse the job websites (such as Charityjobs) I am overwhelmed by the length and specificity of the person specs.

I've always waited to have a sort of Eureka moment as regards work, looking for a vocation rather than just a way to pay the bills. I'm an idealist. It's never really happened and at this point in my life, on the cusp of my 46th year, is as good a time as any to have to come to terms with that, I suppose. It happens for some people Goddammit! Why not me?

Slightly depressed, energy a little low. Take care! Love, Zoe.

Monday, February 25, 2008

It's been a while...

...and maybe I didn't mention that I was going on a Buddhist retreat? Maybe I did, anyway I went for a week, came back last Friday and it was quite an adventure! What with the communal living with seventeen or so assorted folks, the amazing beautiful setting (and weather), the long periods of silence and seemingly endless long periods of sitting meditating in the shrine and lovely vegan food too. Does that sound like Zoe heaven to you? Well, almost. And the teacher was one of the Western Buddhist Order's best meditation teachers, He's written a few books and his approach is very compassionate, humane and above all, very grounded in the body.

Even though it was by no means easy (by God meditation and silence faces you with yourself like nothing else!) I felt great by the end and really began to enjoy the company of the others and appreciate them. We had a lot of fond goodbyes when it was time to leave, like long-lost friends, and yet we had been in silence most of the time!

And it helped me a lot with my difficulties with the loving-kindness meditation practice, the metta bhavana. The way he explained it, that and the mindfulness of breathing meditation are basically the same practice. And also, he said not to necessarily think of metta (loving kindness) as a feeling. One can equally use one's intelligence to approach a problem or a person lovingly. This was very comforting as I was experiencing quite a bit of emotional turmoil and I think my heart centre or whatever was rebelling at being told what it should be feeling!

I've been back a few days now and had a lovely weekend with Richard. Today did my computer course, then the gym, and tomorrow I start a new voluntary job at Tulip, another mental health organisation. I found that a few days after I realised MIND wasn't going to work out. It seemed fortuitous, they just happened to have a volunteer leaving and wanted to take on two new people to job-share. I am going to do Tuesdays and Thursdays. I am a bit nervous about starting another new thing, but they seem very nice and quite efficient. Which will make a change from MIND. I will doing general admin and reception work...quite a bit of answering the phone. I seem fated to have to do phone work...Once I know who's who and what's what it should be OK I suppose.

I'm also thinking of volunteering my cooking skills on Buddhist meditation retreats. You get to go on retreat for free if you do. And that NVQ in Catering might come in handy at last!

Take care all...Lots of love, Zoe.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The rocky road!

Hi peeps. Yes, this week has been a saga of work. My personal life is going fine, my health and fitness levels are better than they've every been, but on Monday I went to do my day at my local MIND centre in the office and found everything kind of collapsing around me. It would have been inexplicable except that a friend who knows someone on the committee had told me that they were in a lot of difficulties with their funders. They basically may have to close, and it's clear that no-one is quite sure if they will still have a job in a few months. Which is all fair enough, mental health organisations are all being squeezed these days, but no-one said a thing to me. I was left to do my own detective work. Finally I asked the admin lady if it was true they might be closing and she didn't confirm or deny, they were having a meeting at lunchtime and it was clear that everyone was pretty preoccupied. It absolutely was not a time to be taking on volunteers!

There wasn't nearly enough for me to do, I wasn't told who my line manager was or introduced, I didn't even have my own computer to work at, just a desk with nothing on it that they had pushed against a wall for me. I have been volunteering at a volunteer office! I kind of know that this is not the way to treat volunteers! Why did no-one tell me anything? Is it because I have been a service user, or is everyone just in denial, trying to pretend everything is fine? I can only speculate and perhaps it's better not to go there. Whatever the reasons, it's not good enough.

So I said perhaps I better leave it for now (no perhaps about it but I was being polite) and she said OK and to call in a few weeks if I'm still interested. Well frankly after all this malarkey, I'm not! I went straight up to the gym and worked out then went to Learn Direct but the disappointment over the lack of communication (as well as the loss of the job) kind of threw me out for a few days. Not helped by the fact that I am becoming less satisfied with the volunteer centre work. My line manager there does not really supervise me to speak of and I'm getting stuck doing jobs that feel peripheral (and very dull) such as inputting numbers onto a database. All day. This at a volunteer centre that definitely knows better! I bumped into this guy my line manager in my local area last week and we went for a cup of tea. He talked! I listened and tried to get a word in edgeways now and then. Basically he isn't that happy in the job, he's stressed and by God it shows! So I have to say that that also unsettled and demotivated me.

So the week wore on and I felt a bit stressed and disenchanted with the whole volunteering scenario. However I knew I could not give up on it, I need to get stuck into something that will help my job prospects. On Thursday I plodded wearily to the volunteer centre to do my boring work (phoning our organisations to ask them for flyers/leaflets, well at least it wasn't the database). My line manager wasn't there as he was at a meeting (hadn't even told me). The volunteer coordinator was though (I get on quite well with her) and I'd told her all about the MIND thing. She said 'Tulip are looking for someone'...they are another mental health organisation in the borough, really, the only other one they've got on their books and not one I've had a lot to do with as a client. 'Shall I phone them for you?' That's her job, you see.

I had a brief chat on the phone to one of the administrators and arranged to go in the next day. Eureka! He and the very nice (somewhat pregnant) lady who does most of the HR work both interviewed me. They were everything that MIND wasn't! Very volunteer-aware. She will be meeting with me regularly, proper supervision. I've got my own desk, will be answering calls and transferring them and my own computer. Quite a bit of reception-type work. No contact with service users (I'm OK with that). A variety of admin tasks and they can adapt the role to suit me (so some higher-level stuff). It's a really pleasant friendly office, they get good feedback from their volunteers and it's really local, I can walk there in fifteen minutes or so. They want me for three days if I can manage that, but can be flexible. HOORAH! So in the space of a week things have turned around. As we say in the 12-Step Fellowships, 'these are high-class problems!', in any case. A few years ago I would have given my eye-teeth to be worrying about work! Except that I don't have any eye-teeth, they were taken out because my mouth was overcrowded!

Enough! All is well and this weekend Richard and I are driving down to see my Mum. Weather is unseasonally gorgeous. We're also set to see Jasper on Thursday. And I go on retreat on Friday. I will start at Tulip on Tuesday 26 February. Lots of love! Zoe.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Not a bad week...

...bit of a mixed bag really. The failure of the two E's, Emilia and Expert Patients, to float my boat has focused my mind in a way. More than ever I feel sure that I really have to go for the work thing. All other considerations aside getting and keeping a job is simply one of the most conclusive ways I can prove to myself and everyone else that I am capable, competent, and fully viable. As I've become weller (is that a word? no says my spellchecker) I become more and more interested in work for work's sake. I enjoy the way it can absorb you, soak up your energies, distract you when you need distracting. It also binds you to others and to the wider society.

I know that I can contribute more than adequately in the workplace. My voluntary work confirms me in that. However it probably won't be an easy or straightforward path into a suitable job, one that really is appropriate and commensurate with my abilities, and where I can fulfil at least some of my potential. That's why I am getting as much support as I can. Life is exciting...more than ever so. But pretty scary too sometimes.

I heard that the lowest point of the average person's life comes around age 44. No way is that true for me. I struggled so much in my earlier years...a lot of my twenties were pure hell and the thirties not much better. It seems that many people look back at their youth with nostalgia, feeling they have lost something. For sure I guess it's nice to have smooth, taut skin and be able to eat whatever you like and not get fat. For me the appeal of youth kind of ends there. I was the most godawful mess, a walking disaster area I'm afraid.

At some stage in this blog I need to write something about my history. The history of my 'manic depression'. Only by putting the present in the context of the past can I really explain just how miraculous it is. There are lots of us out there and it's important to speak out for the sake of all the others who need just this kind of hope. Recovery from major mental illness(I ain't just talking the odd bout of depression either!) totally IS possible, I have done it, am doing it, the quality of my life now is FANTASTIC, WONDERFUL.

Beliefs that bipolar and other diagnoses are basically life sentences are inaccurate if not just plain wrong and too often become a self-fulfilling prophecy. What I say to any truth-seeking person is, just dare to think outside the box. Study yourself, allow yourself to be drawn into the endless fascination of YOU! You are so much more than some dodgy label! Doctors simply have no authority to tell you what you will or won't amount to in life! That is between you and your higher power...don't ever be tempted to hand your sacred power over to some bloody medic! Like your plumber and your postman, doctors have their place. Advising you how to live your life is not, so far as I'm aware, in their remit.

Oops, been having a soapbox moment. Take care of your dear selves! Love, Zoe.

Friday, January 25, 2008

All is well...

In the last couple of days I tried the Emilia Project and the Expert Patients Programme. I realised that neither of them were for me. The Emilia was particularly disappointing because I really expected more from it. Basically it was just another special 'service users' course. I had an excruciating afternoon supposedly discovering something called the 'strengths approach'. Felt very tense and frustrated all afternoon, unable to really contribute anything meaningful because, to me, the class itself had no meaning! Though having said that I guess I discovered something quite important. That I really have no need of being hived off into a 'service users' ghetto in order to be 'empowered'. The exact opposite of empowerment is what that does for me.

The teacher/trainer's approach to 'strengths' was to pussyfoot around us all. 'If you don't feel you can say anything at all, that's fine'. Etc etc. Then we were sat around in groups in order to help each other list our strengths. When the professor came around, asking us how we were getting on, I had to tell him the truth, but ended up feeling characterised as awkward rather than understood. Well, he did ask! I noticed that others, after some initial reluctance, did seem to get into it more as time went on. But not me. If this would ever have been any use to me, it might have been about fifteen years ago, when I was first diagnosed and at my worst, with the condition. It was bloody rehabilitation! Which I do not need!

I did strike up some camaraderie and shared subversive humour with some of the others. But I knew I wasn't going to be going back. It was even more awkward because one of the trainer/teachers was someone I knew well and was friendly with.

So then today it was the Expert Patients, a self-management programme that originated in the States and is now over here. I had reservations about it but was withholding judgment until I tried it. After the Emilia debacle yesterday I was dreading a kind of repeat performance. Well it wasn't the same thing at all, but for me it was equally useless. I have already written the letter to the administrator of the Programme explaining why I don't want to pursue it any further. It so wasn't me. Picture this, gentle reader! The facilitator tells us 'do as your doctor says and take your medication'. I kid you not! And I'm thinking, dream on, honey. I'm outta here! The thing is, the title really does say it all. But I ain't anyone's patient! Expert or otherwise!

So. perhaps, in their way, a couple of productive days. Discovering what I in no way, shape or form, am interested in doing! Back to the drawing board, back to looking for a job I guess. The Emilia was supposed to be helping us with that but it's pitched at such a low level it would be more of a hindrance. What I do know is, I am not ill any more. I am confident, capable and competent. I'm flexible, a great learner and have good skills which I'm building on all the time. I'm ready to work!

I think I may try working one day at the library (voluntary), one day at MIND and one day at HAVCO. That way I won't get bored and may get some insight into which I prefer. Well, we'll see. Take care all! Love, Zoe.