Welcome back irritable day…

Mania, building up as hysterical bubbles


I’ve been manic for a few weeks now but, as usual, didn’t see the signs until it was too late to do anything about it.

I don’t recognise the signs when they begin to appear and nor do I recognise the signs of depression when they start creeping in. I have a kind of memory loss I suppose that hides the indicators from me and can get me into all sorts of trouble.

Mania, especially when I am ultradian cycling, can be vicious and those are the days that I sincerely want to die. I want to commit suicide (don’t pick me up on my use of the word suicide, it’s my blog and my words) and I have to talk myself out of it.

I always self harm because it feels like it’s the only thing I can do to ease the pressure. Try putting a piece of sellotape on an inflated balloon and then sticking a pin through it. It will deflate slowly and gently and that’s what the self harm does to me.

I refuse to go into the details of the self harm but it is safe and I am in no danger of death or infection.

The mania has been reaching a peak over the past few days. As usual I’m not getting any joy from this episode. I almost envy people who are elated during mania but only almost.

Mid level mania at its peak

Yesterday was disorganised day and I was genuinely afraid that I wouldn’t eat and as my eating has been patchy lately I really needed to eat. At 9.30 last night I ate nursery food and though it wasn’t what I wanted it was what I needed.

Today I am experiencing irritable day.

My brain is itching and I want to rip it out. Sounds are too loud, my animals want to sit too close, someone knocked on the door too loudly and I need to sleep for another eight hours.

I am desperate for rest.

Back in the day…

I’m so old I can remember when I didn’t talk about having Manic Depression because people would take a step back. I don’t know if they thought they’d catch it or they didn’t know what it was but the name scared them.

Sometimes you could tell that they did know what it was and they pictured me hanging round bus stops with a machete because we all know that people with mental health problems have the desire to murder someone just under their skin.

A few years ago a did an hour long interview on the local BBC radio station and that came up during the broadcast. The presenter said “Well we all know that couldn’t happen here because the buses are so bad you’d get fed up of waiting.” I couldn’t help but laugh because he’d deflated a misconception in a way that had a bigger impact than discussing it in a sober way.

When they changed the name from Manic Depression (which I thought described it well) to Bipolar Disorder it became a bit of a fashion item and it’s increased in popularity over the years. There appears to be a tendency that experiencing moods make you “bipolar”. It a load of fucking shit of course.

While we’re on it, I hate the terms Self Stigma and Imposter Syndrome. You’re experiencing doubts. THAT IS ALL.

Anyway on to the point of this blog post. I read a tweet from @simonfromharlow about dishing out unsolicited advice to strangers. Whether it was tongue in cheek or not I don’t care (sorry Simon) but I get it a lot. I mean every single day.

It’s worse now we have the internet of course because everyone is an expert because they read an article in an outdated magazine while they were waiting to see the doctor. Or some celebrity “bravely fights it” We don’t fight it by the way, we live with the effects it has on us and learn coping strategies to help us manage it.

People are well meaning, I know that but it’s physically and mentally exhausting to fend off someone’s advice when they haven’t a clue what they’re experiencing.

While we’re on the subject of well meaning advice NEVER suggest to anyone with a mental health problem that they should take medication and have a lie down. Would you tell someone with cancer to have a bit of chemo? No, so don’t tell me to take my medication.

Unless you know someone personally and they’ve talked to you about their particular brand of Bipolar Disorder then lay off. The kindest and best thing you can do is give them time, space and no advice. Truly.



I saw some tweets on Twitter recently about people who had been talking about mental health. One of them was a woman who I’d known briefly on Twitter and who blocked me after a series of bullying tweets. Some of these were directly at me and some were subtweets; aimed at me but not mentioning me.

People always ask how you know subtweets are about you and believe me you know. Most of us have written subtweets, some of us in a nasty way, and all of us have been on the other end of them.

This is how it began.

I had a mutual follow with a woman on Twitter for about six months or so when she announced that she was  moving to the town in which I live. I briefly tweeted them about  it with lots of exclamation marks and an exchange of tweets followed with overuse of exclamation marks. She promised to get in touch when she moved here. She didn’t.

I shrugged it off because she was in a new town and probably out of work and, in this area, good jobs in her field aren’t that easy to come by. Her tweets showed that she was living on the breadline in a part of town you wouldn’t expect to find a newcomer but that she was mixing with people who were supporting her in one way or another.

An opportunity arose (in a voluntary capacity) that would suit her so I let her know. She came to meet me and I introduced her to the setup and she seemed to fit in well with the established group.

Then the group began to disintegrate. There was unease and discomfort and within weeks the people who had started the group left and there were few people left. Strange things happened. I’m not saying she was a thief but things went missing and there was always a scapegoat mentioned.

She played to my sense of paranoia and made me feel as though I was going more than a little mad. As the group photographer I found myself being sidelined more and more. I left the group under a carefully orchestrated cloud.

I tweeted about it. I tweet a lot of rubbish but I tweet a lot of the big stuff that goes on in my life too. I tweeted about how I’d been abused by that person and then the abuse from the person I mentioned above began. Subtweets saying that if anyone hurt her friend they’d have to answer to her, tweets directly to me asking me why I thought I had the right to stand in judgement.

This is what this woman did so swell. She divided people, she gossiped about people and told lies about her life. You can guarantee that if she was gossiping to you about one person then she was gossiping about you about someone else. She took delight in telling me about one person whose relationship had broken down because he was impotent. She is a nasty piece of work.

To see her defender talking mental health in public last week was a shock but it also brought back some memories that hurt. It seemed that her mental health had to be protected and treated as something precious but mine was tossed aside and stood on by her. In my opinion, this person is not an adovacte for mental health. You cannot talk of equality if you act in a way that is destructive to someone else’s mental health.

If either of them recognise themselves from this blog post then shame on them. If they’re not happy about it then it’s tough. This is how my experience of them affected me, this is my opinion and I’m allowed to have one.

Bullying is wrong no matter why we do it and covert abuse of people with mental health problems is vile.



Last month, before Ogden died, I did a poll on Twitter to get suggestions about what I should blog about. I was hoping that people would pick food but of course it was the subject I wanted to blog least about was the one that was chosen.

Okay everyone has seen those newspaper reports about people who get taken to court and sometimes evicted because they’ve been playing the same song over and over again and sometimes very loud. That’s me except for the sound level.

Psychologically anticipating the next sound and knowing what the next word is elicits a feeling of comfort in the brain so I’m givng myself a hug. Lots of people do this and most people don’t force their neighbours  to listen to it.

It explains I suppose why I’m reluctant to listen to new music. I’m still listening to the Doobie Brothers with the same regularity I did when I was 14 which was *coughs* ago.

I’ve sang in choirs over the years most of them assoociated with sacred music. I’m still a fence sitter when it comes to God but, like a lot of other fence sitters and atheists, sacred music is fantastic to sing. When music is composed for God it is composed in a way that is different to composing it for man and that’s why it’s so wonderful to sing it.

I sing out loud at home all the time. When I’m not talking to the cats I’m singing something. I’m one of those people who can’t shut up even when I have nothing to say.

I used to sing to Ogden all the time and when I did he used to come and sit with his back to me and press himself up against my legs and I used to stroke him from his lovely silky head down over this rough lurcher type hair. I groomed him at times when I sang and that suited him well too.

This is what I used to sing to him. I’d say enjoy but my voice isn’t what it was.

Ogden Nash, a great dog

Three years ago, give a take a week or so, I saw a photo of a dog on a Facebook rescue page. The photo was shared to me by a friend and it was of a very sad looking dog who’d been in a Spanish pound for three years. THREE YEARS. Five months is considered a long time in a British pound and dogs are reasonably well looked after but three years in a Spanish pound where the dogs are treated like shit? No wonder he looked sad.

The charity I got him from was basically shit and there was a lot of problems before he finally arrived home. This sounds crazy but I missed him before he got here and I was desperate to see him. His Spanish name was Relampago which means streak of lightening and he was well named but I called him Ogden.

He arrived six inches taller than I’d been told and 10 kilos heavier and he was 5 kilos overweight. He hadn’t had a walk all the time he’s been in the pound and he had a scar on his back that had been caused by either acid, hot fat or hot metal. He had scars in his ears and he was nervous.

As soon as he arrived, after having the longest pee ever and a quick snack (two days by road from Spain = little food in case of travel sickness and few stops) I took him out for his first walk.

It was evening so the streets were quite quiet and we could walk around without him being too scared of things. He didn’t know where to look first – everything and anything drew his eye. He kept bumping into things because he couldn’t concentrate. There was one or two poo related accidents at home but that was because he didn’t know where to go.

I’d got him a bed, a cushion and a fleece to encourage him to find his own sleeping space and he refused to use them. He didn’t know that he was allowed to sleep on something soft and it took several weeks for him to sleep in the bed. He had three in the end!

He didn’t wag his tail for ages. He seemed to be convinced that I wasn’t going to be around long and I think he was scared about getting attached to me.

Right from the start people told me how handsome he was and were suprised that I’d just got him because they thought we looked so right together and we did. We complemented each other perfectly and we’re both a bit on the batty side so it was a match made in heaven.

He wasn’t just a good dog he was one of the great dogs. He had healing properties. That sounds all new agey and religious but he had an amazing way with people that I’d never seen in other dogs.

Once when we were on the way to the train station for a day out a guy stopped us and asked if he could smooth Ogden because he felt depressed and needed a lift. By the time we walked away to catch our train the guy was visibly better.

In Bromley, London and Bristol disable people approached us and asked to fuss over him and he really brightened them up. Everyone felt better when they met Ogden, he was truly one of the great dogs.

Last Wednesday morning we went out for our walk first thing. He’d had a few problems for a few days but on that morning he was obviously not well at all and I knew that  there was only one thing to do. I rang my vet and we arranged to have him put to sleep at lunchtime the same day.

I rang Rob who had looked after him when I went away on every Wednesday afternoon for since he got to England and told him and asked him to come with me. I rang my sister and she listened while my heart broke.

I took Ogden round to Rob’s house to pick him up to go to the vet and so that his mum and dad could say goodbye to him too.

He had lots ot treats that morning, probably about a weeks worth but the smile on his face as he ate them was wonderful.

The vet was kind. She laid a blanket on the floor and we had 15 minutes with him in private to say our goodbye and  then came back with a sedative that sent him off into a deep sleep and left us with him again. After we’d had time talking to him and hugging him she came back, gave him his injections and we held him and each others hands as she monitored his life signs until  he stopped breathiing and she could confirm that Ogden, who had been alive that morning and had been the centre of my work for 2 years and 8 months was no longer alive.

I miss coming home and hearing him bark as I open the gate. I miss shouting, “Have you been a good boy?” as I come through the door. I miss taking his collar off every afternoon and grooming him. I miss singing You Are My Sunshine to him and having him snuggle tightly in as I sing. I miss him nudging at me every morning to get out of bed so  he can start his day. I miss his dog smell and the fur he shed everywhere. I miss him the dog I longed to arrive and thought would  live forever.

He safe now, his illness was swift and the solution was equally as swift.

I’m being taken for coffee by so many people that I’ve lost count and I’m rearranging my time so life can change back to being about me and not about him.

His first four years of life were fucking awful but the two years and eight months he had with me were the way his life should have been lived. He had lovely beds, he had good food, he had antlers to chew on, he had me and his extended family to lovely him and he was free.

I cannot begin to describe how much I miss him or how much I will miss him but I’m so glad I had him with me. I will never forget him and I will never stop loving him.