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