It’s been four days since I’ve attended to this project. Not sure why really. I suppose the main reason is a bit of a lack of focus. I started out with the somewhat ambitious project of coming off all my Bipolar meds and writing about it. But, as my project unfolded, I’ve changed my mind and am now going to stay on my meds. I have come off the Olanzapine — a debilitating anti-psychotic — but I’m sticking with the mood stabiliser and anti-depressant.
I should say that I hate taking medication. For the first half of my life I was virulently opposed to psychiatric meds, viewing it as: dangerous, for the ‘straights’ and liable to induce an alcoholic relapse. But now I know these attitudes were simply based on ignorance and environmental conditioning. My mother wouldn’t even take me to see a GP, if she could possibly avoid it, when I was a child. She died of an illness that could have extended her life indefinitely had she taken the meds, but she refused them, saying positive thinking would save her. In AA, a deep skepticism about psychiatrists and medics abounds, and that too influenced me enormously. Not that I had even seen a shrink, in the early days. Counsellors, yes. Therapists, yes. Psychiatrists were reserved for the proper mad people, of which I was definitely not one.
I resisted meds for a very long time, even after I worked in a psyche ward, and had seen their effectiveness. If I was given a choice I wouldn’t take them. Invariably I was given a choice because I wasn’t prone to prolonged psychotic thinking; or so everyone thought. In reality I was, but I kept quiet about my unusual ideas, because I didn’t think they were unusual. Now I have been on these particular meds for a good few years on and off (mostly on), I see that I really was ill, even when I thought I wasn’t especially bad.
In reality my illness was just gathering momentum for the next florid relapse. Accepting all this has been a long process, a twenty-five year process. And I’m still in it. So, I’ve said this before in other posts, but I’ll repeat myself: my blog is now about how I live well as a person with Bipolar type 2.
I would change the title of my blog from Medication Free to something more descriptive of this new state of affairs, but I’m not especially techie, and am not quite sure how to do it. I’m also not sure how to make the most of my blog in terms of gaining readers, and making the whole page a bit more snazzy, but with most technological process, I’ve taught myself as I go along, and am hoping that this method will work with my blog too.
Today there was an interesting article in the Guardian about a blogger who wrote anonymously about her life as it unfolded, including her work life, and then got read by her colleagues and was told she would have to stop writing about work, before being made redundant a short time later. I really felt for her, of course. I don’t relish the thought of people I know personally reading what I write. A couple of people I know asked for more information when I told them about this space, and after filling them in, and in a couple of cases, telling them my handle on Twitter, I regretted that I did that. I felt that my freedom to speak unselfconsciously was seriously curtailed afterwards. Having said that, I haven’t written about anything I wouldn’t share with people I know. This has surprised me a bit because I thought the cloak of anonymity would really disinhibit me, but it hasn’t really. It’s just a space to talk about things regular life doesn’t really offer the opportunity for in an every day sense.
In writing about my life as it pertains to my psychiatric condition, it comes as a bit of a shock as to how much of my daily life is taken up with this material. There really isn’t very much I could say about myself that is not relevant. My illness is a constant condition which I am forever reminded about. Today, for example, in my first day working at the community bookshop (very enjoyable) I had to keep my cardigan on to cover the scar on my wrist from a suicide attempt three years ago. At first I was wearing a cotton dress with three quarter length sleeves, but I quickly put my cardigan back on because I didn’t want my colleague to see the scar. Then someone I have known all my life walked past the shop. Someone I no longer have a relationship with as a result of my alcoholism and Bipolar illness. It’s a long story, but I haven’t seen them in a while, and when they strolled past the shop once, and then again, walking the other way, I was thrown back into reflections about my past episodes and how they destroyed my relationship with this man who I used to adore like a father. It was a relationship of immense importance to me, never having had a proper father myself. The fact that this person holds me in such a bad light, and was so horrible to me, in ever increasing degrees as the years passed, causes me such pain when I think about it. Such is the cost of this disease, awareness of which may strike at any moment.
Despite this reminder of my difficulties I had a generally good morning in the bookshop. My new colleague knows nothing about me so has no reason to look down on me or treat me with antipathy. The only person who came in the shop that I knew is someone I have met very recently at my local AA meeting, and she too has not had her perception irreversibly altered for the worst. Regrettably this is an exceptional experience. Maybe as the years go by I will accumulate more of these experiences, if I manage to recover from my condition. I suppose that is something to hope for and to work towards.