WeirdSid

a professional hermit rambles

Category: Life Page 1 of 4

On building a support network

We all need support networks but they don’t come ready made so how do we go about creating one?

If you have a chronic illness as I have then the receptionist at your medical practice and your doctor are the first in line. I know that quality varies from practice to practice but fingers crossed that you strike lucky. Should you need medication then a pharmacist follows closely behind.

I live in social housing and the housing officer who looks after the area is a key figure for those of us who are vulnerable. I have mostly good neighbours and some have become friends. I get support from those who feel animosity towards me because they remind me of who I don’t want to be.

The high street close to where I live is a combination of independent traders and chain stores. 

I know some of the independent traders well: the guy from the paper shop who always has a chat, Ross the greengrocer, Hayley from the pet shop/emporium place and Nelbo who has a corner of her shop for his business. All of them are ready to chat but also respect those days when putting my head out of the door is painful.

There are the women from Greggs who are warm and friendly, any of the assistants in Peacocks will chat even if you’re just looking around and the staff in Iceland and Asda get as much out of chatting to the customers as the customers do to them. Chain stores often have a bad press but the people working in them can be wonderful.

Most of the people in my support network have no idea that they’re part of it. I’m just a woman who goes in their shop and has a chat while I’m buying stuff. They don’t know they keep me going or that sometimes the energy spent talking to them ends with me in tears when I get home. I am unfortunate in that I have a debilitating illness but fortunate that I am surrounded by people who help either by being there or not being there.

It isn’t easy if you can’t get out as often as you would like to or you are in a community that enhances your feeling of isolation but I hope that by counting off the people in your life as I have just done then you too will realise that you have a support network or at least the makings of one.

On a sense of relief

I had an unhappy childhood and I became an unhappy adult.

The only person in my family that I felt close to was my maternal grandfather and I miss his weird sense of humour. I had a sense of detachment from the rest of my immediate family. It was as if I didn’t belong there.

When I had my first depressive episode when I was 11 years old the gap between who they were and who I seemed to be became wider. I developed an aversion to food and at one time had to drink Complan because I couldn’t eat.I was anorexic until I was 32.

When I was 15 I began to self harm. I tripped up trying to run away from the responsibility of taking exams and when I cut my knee there was a feeling of relief. I began to cut my arms and rub used cat litter into them. As I bandaged myself I was half giving myself a hug and half wishing that an infection would make me seriously ill. 

I had been developing Bipolar Disorder from my early teens (I was undiagnosed until I was 32 ) and it became increasingly difficult to cope with. A prolonged episode of depression left me out of work for two years and I went from looking after myself reasonably well to being dirty and unable to function. My mother harangued me because the neighbours were talking. I took an overdose and my mother was angry with me. I needed kind words or a hug. 

I began to drank and use drugs and alcoholism became an occupation. The best place to hide a drunk is among drink and so I became a pub landlady. When I stopped drinking I realised I was still the odd one out in the family and cut myself off from them for eight years. I will not lie and say I was unhappy because not being in touch with a mother who never missed an opportunity to make me feel small was wonderful.

The emotion that overwhelms me when I think of my mother is fear. I can’t live up to her expectations, I have to be the one to call her because she says she can’t use her phone and it seems to be beyond my sister to dial my number for her. She is old and some may say I am spiteful for wanting to cut ties with a woman in her 80s but I cannot feel any sense of freedom while there is any kind of link between us.

She will be angry and I can imagine the conversation that will happen between her and my sister (of whom I am fond) but I have to release myself from this unhappy adulthood.

Documents and punctuation

The documents that track the path of  my Bipolar Disorder are stuffed into drawers in my mind. They show how my life overflows with feelings, emotions and moods.

The pages are littered with exclamation marks, commas and semicolons but not that dreaded full stop. Not yet.

Bipolar Disorder – the butcher of mental health

At times Bipolar Disorder is talked about in the media in an almost flippant way usually with a celebrity name attached to it and it lends people a belief that it is a widespread illness. 

Only 1% – 2% of the population have Bipolar Disorder that will continue throughout their life.

Recent research suggest that 5% of the population could be on the Bipolar spectrum but this is not the same as receiving a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.

We all have background mood changes. They undulate slowly and regularly and occasionally make an impact on our lives. When the down cycle hits the bottom there can be days when nothing seems to go right and at the top of the cycle we can have those wonderfully productive days where everything that needs to be done gets done. This is not Bipolar Disorder, this is human.

Those of us with Bipolar Disorder have an overlying set of mood swings that are not always synchronised with the background cycles but when they are things can go badly wrong. Depression can become deeper and less easier to bear and mania becomes sharper and more cutting. Our mood swings can leave us on the edge of despair  and/or throw us right into psychosis.

People with Bipolar Disorder are twenty times more like to commit suicide than the general population and WHO identifies it as one of the top causes of lost health in the 15 – 44 age group.

I have rarely become suicidal while depressed because I am cocooned in a layer of candy floss that melts and reforms letting in light and sweetening life one tiny gap at a time. I feel safe when I am depressed. 

Mania scares me because it is the element of Bipolar Disorder that can kill me when it chooses. It is not the glorious thing it is often thought to be, it is pure and unadulterated madness. At its most extreme it is a psychosis that deserves to be shot down as long as it doesn’t take us with it. At its least extreme it no less poisonous, the poison simply takes longer to work its devilry.

You don’t know me…

I often see people on social media say that they are the same person online as they are in real life but are they?

I have several social media accounts and I use each one differently so how do you know which is the real me and how much is the me that I want you to see?

On Instagram it’s huge amounts of photos that I share with Twitter and  Facebook. On Facebook I share news articles. Twitter is where I tend to talk into the void and I am a little shy of joining in conversations.

How many of you, even the people I’ve met in real life, know me?

 

Which one is me?

 

My hair, what’s that like? Colour of my eyes? What’s the contents of my wardrobe? My favourite colour? Ogden my gorgeous dog who died last year – where did he come from and what did he look like? Here’s a good one – what kind of accent do I have? Know any of the jobs I’ve done in the past?

There are people who know more about us than others but even then they don’t know the whole person. We give away ourselves piecemeal and save the best stuff for ourselves. We reveal what we think we can trust people with and some deserve that trust more than others.

We never show ourselves in our entirety to anyone else so how can we say we are the same on social media as we are in real life? I can’t.

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