Friday, 29 April 2011

New Blog - please follow if you want to stay in touch

I have frozen this blog. If you want to carry on following my posts, please follow the new blog. It will still mention bipolar and mental health issues, but it will be more general.


Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Buddy, can you spare some time?

Everyone in the modern world seems obsessed with how busy their lives are. Give me a break!! Try living for 4 months on 2-3 hours sleep a night. I have time in abundance, made even more apparent by having no job, and not through want of trying. Doesn't this sound wrong somewhere? I am reasonably intelligent, IT literate, published author, lousy at Suduko, quite healthy having lost 84 pounds and I can't even get arrested {in job terms}. I am angry and I think I am right to be after being thrown on the scrap heap of life prematurely. Enough of my rant. I have to move on.

What frustrates me most is that all these people wit such busy lives have no time for us, the long suffering people with a mental illness diagnosis. Because of the insomnia that is commonly associated wit Bipolar Disorder, I have a lot of time on my hands. Most of it is spent alone. Much of that is in the long nights, made bearable by the internet and on-line friends. I just can't remember how I managed before the internet. It probably explains some of the nocturnal wandering that accompanied manic episodes. The internet can now keep the most manic person reasonably occupied.

The on-line community and support system can work well. Even on-line, it is easy to find yourself alone despite there being millions of people on at any time. I am at a loss to explain this phenomena. There is often no one to tweet to, message on facebook, talk to on skype or simply chat to. Everyone goes MIA. This is understandable in the Mental health community but maybe not in the wider population. I guess I am pleading to those who are logged on and not talking. If you see a friend who posts at some ungodly hour, please say hello at least. They may appreciate a quick chat. In my most anxious periods, an early on-chat could turn around my day and often did.

I have time on my hands so I have been idly thinking about time zones. The UK must be one of the most unfortunate time zones for the insomniac who is awake between midnight and sunrise. The stragglers in the USA and Canada drift off to bed as rime passes. There are a few Aussies and Kiwis who are around but there are far less of them. The area in between is a bit of an internet desert, at least there is no one in my circle of friends. I think it must be good to live down under if you are an insomniac. There is more chance of finding someone awake. Just an idle but totally useless conjecture...

Monday, 18 April 2011

If You Can't Stand the Heat .....

I care for all my on-line friends. Most of you have an interest in Mental Health issues and that is no coincidence. Others of you shared my eight loss journey over what is now 2 years. I have never hidden away my bipolar disorder, some might say to the detriment of my life. I don't feel like I have lost out. I feel like I have gained far more than I have lost and I hopefully continue to be a good role model.

I am at a crossroads in my recovery. I am not as arrogant as to claim a cure is possible. You might hear that from a certain Catherine ZJ in coming weeks. Bipolar is for life not just for Christmas. I put down my progress to working hard over the 28 years since the onset. There have been downs, the most sever of which came this year. I have always bounced back from illness setbacks and life's setbacks. I have some resilience.

Before I ramble on, as is my style, my point! A lot of my progress was made possible by my isolation. I had no one second guessing me, no parrot on the shoulder saying "Take Your Meds", "Get Some Sleep", " I am Busy Now" or other inane suggestions. Let's face it, no one ever has time. Muggles, as my friend calls them, have busy lives. Why should they put off their plans to support a sick loved one? They have worked hard all year and deserve some R&R. I have been very much been left to my own devices, even in my lowest suicidal moments. I manage my finances pretty well. I have always taken pride in the fact that I work on problems. I never take the elated moods for granted and rarely use them (except for maybe in writing my book). Every manic or hypomanic experience has been less of a problem than previous ones. That is my commitment.

All I ask is that friends accept my intelligence and my commitment to get better if not well. If you don't understand, just ask but don't second guess me unless you have walked in my shoes. Only fellow sufferers know what it is like to be bipolar. I have tried to explain in newspaper articles and in radio appearances but i am not sure how well I did? My book hopefully helped to a point. My best feedback comes from the intelligent questions from those who read the book.

I don't ask for much. I am not a government statistic except maybe as a winter fuel payment recipient or someone who gets free prescriptions. Everyone won't "get" bipolar. If you don't, let me get on with my life. To quote a very old phrase "If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Out of The Kitchen". It is bad enough that mental health professionals don't understand, without everyone and their dog having an opinion.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

My isolation ... and hope for the future

Okay, I am a grumpy old man. Maybe 61 isn't old, but go with me on this!

It is my weekend for self reflection and having a good moan. Please allow me that indulgence. I have got out more recently and enjoyed the nice spell of weather. I have enjoyed taking my camera out to the parks and around town. This is all good, but i still don't talk to anyone for days on end. This excludes my excellent on-line friends who keep me sane. It also excludes the mental health professionals, pharmacy staff and fellow MH sufferers who I meet now I get out.

I need to do something. I have been saying this for 40 years, maybe longer. Not a lot has improved except my ability to put it in perspective and not stress about it. I find myself feeling better than ever in my whole life and totally isolated socially. Someone said I was admired recently. I said I would exchange admiration for a nice hug. I was serious but there was no response. In view of who it was, it could have been considered stalking. Okay I am busted. I like to have some good looking ladies in my friends list!

I thought it might be interesting to list my face to face contacts this weekend. That is since I bitch about weekends and holidays meaning nothing to non-working unpaid people. We have a spate of Public holidays coming up.

• Day Center staff and fellow attendees
• Guy on Cheese and Cooked Meats stall in market
• Nice lady who serves in the health food store
• My neighbor
• Surprise phone call from my friend in Canada
• Guy sitting on a bench who I passed in the park.

This was a good weekend. I am making progress. I am a normal guy who happens to be bipolar. If I accept that and put bipolar behind me, will all the friends I have lost do that also. Will my friends and family want to spend time with me? Do I have to re invent myself and go back to being Clive Edwards? Clive Wild will be that bipolar guy who wrote a book. I like being Clive Wild and there will be at least two more books. I am not a willing writer, so don't worry.

I hope this rant/vent helps to put me in perspective. I have been a lonely isolated introspective shy invisible guy for much of my life. That guy has gone. I think I can thank my recovery process and the fact that much of it was done in isolation. I maybe alone and unseen, But I think clearly and you wouldn't believe how productive I can be. That is mostly when most people are tucked up in bed. The days have been 20 hours and longer. I don't take a breath unless I get over tired.

Is it not likely that my sort of mind goes MAD if unstimulated or under used ??

The hope for the future? That starts here. It will get a big kick start when I visit Michael in Toronto in September, my on-line family in the US/Canada and extended family in New England.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Hero or Zero?

Are bipolar sufferers crazy or special? I think it depends on your perspective. The general public would probably lean towards “crazy” because it is easier to marginalize someone you don’t understand. It is easier to control someone who is treated as an aberration. I am afraid this view might extend to family, friends, doctors and other mental health professionals. This is because no one really understands what it means to be bipolar. How could anyone without direct experience as a sufferer?

I think this situation is responsible for most bipolar sufferers being thrown on life’s scrap heap and often prematurely. I have met a lot of other bipolar sufferers in my 28 years as a sufferer. I can say without a doubt that the majority of sufferers are very intelligent and have hidden talents. For the most part, bipolar sufferers are treated like other mental illness sufferers. They are medicated heavily and sent home to get on with their lives. Many of their friends, family and former colleagues have backed off, especially if they came face to face with a manic episode. This is the true stigma, not that by the general public or even the media. Highly intelligent people are left isolated and often unable to find work. I am convinced that many problems of bipolar sufferers are caused by a lack of meaningful activity and a feeling of not being wanted.

I believe that many bipolar sufferers have much to offer society. Society would rather they were medicated and seen but not heard. There are exceptions such as celebrities. Sufferers like Stephen Fry would argue that it is the same for them to be bipolar. They may suffer the same traits but money and fame do make life easier. While Stephen Fry is fighting off work all the time, many sufferers can’t find any kind of work. When was Stephen Fry asked for a CV or resumé. His checkered past is a badge of honor. For most bipolar sufferers it is a sign of mental illness.

Many bipolar sufferers have written their experiences in a book. Very few have sold many copies, I would wager. Publishers are only interested in celebrity authors, even if they are C-list or D-list. The book stores are filled with piles of discounted celebrity biographies. People like me find it hard to get their book discounted and it will never appear in a book store. Publishers and retailers don’t seem to want to sell books by unknown people?

The bipolar sufferer’s main support comes from other sufferers, either in support groups of on-line social network sites. At least other sufferers truly understand and listen without judging.

I asked the question “Hero or Zero?”. I would suggest that many bipolar sufferers have the potential to be heroes. Instead, they are treated as zeros and stamped “reject”. I am doing myself to be a hero but it is a constant struggle. Thanks for reading.