Been a while…

Wow, it’s really been a while since I’ve been on here…

So what has been going on with me? A lot has been going on with me…

Firstly, I got used to my antidepressants, started counselling, finished counselling, and got sane again. Tried to go off the antidepressants recently, got insane, went back on them, got sane again.

Now I’m reassessing my sanity. It’s not something I’ve had, consistently, without extra, medicinal ‘help’, since I was a child. So why am I trying so hard to get to a place where I can be sane and stable, all the time? It’s not something I’ve ever had. It’s not my fault. My brain doesn’t produce enough ‘happy’ chemicals for me to be on an even keel without help. But maybe that’s ok.

Right now, I’m on a low dosage, I’m stable. I have ups and downs that feel natural, and I have worries and sadnesses and self consciousness that comes and goes, just like a normal person. I look at when I last posted to this blog. I wasn’t sane. I wasn’t happy. I felt nothing, everyday. I felt nothing, or I felt like I was about to die with sadness. I had no idea what my issues were or how to cope with them. I had no idea where my negative feelings were coming from or what had caused them in the first place. I felt guilty all the time. I felt awful about myself, and never thought I would know how to feel good about myself. Counselling gave me the tools to understand myself and forgive myself. But that doesn’t mean it could magically fix my brain chemistry. That’s a lifelong journey, and it will probably never end.

An Open Letter to Humanists

AAAAGGGHHHH I love this! What great writing 🙂

Hey Bro

How about that sharing economy, amirite? Bitcoins; Uber; media disruption – all totally rad. *High five* It’s cool that we’re coming from the same space, you know? However, I sort of wanted to talk to you about, well, “humanism.”See, humanism is a word like “atheist”or “dude”that I used to seriously identify with but lately has morphed into a he-man woman haters club shibboleth; an epithet that proudly marks members of privileged classes trying desperately to pull up the ladder before some bogus subaltern claims more than a shred of equality.

Instead of referring to a belief in the inherent dignity and equality of all humanity, humanism in 2014 is marked by a tremendous anti feminist and anti social justice stance, predicated on a mistaken idea that, like, misandry is real and not just very, very, very funny. Essentially, humanists tell us, often / always…

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A quick synopsis for my ideas on good Consent education.

hessianwithteeth

Make it quick and repeat it often

Make it informative

Make it inescapable

Focus on Consent (but don’t avoid saying rape)

Make it quick

Make it from different perspectives

Tailor it to the audience where ever you can

Make it mandatory

Make it informative

Make it quick and repeat it often.

Obviously this doesn’t give good info on the actual how’s, though there are not shortage of skilled sex educators and film students out there. Make a hundred or so pick 15-25 of the best.

Withteeth

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‘Unintentional poverty discrimination’ – does it exist?

Good point, and also I think this highlights the reasons why the ‘universal free school meals’ plan recently put in place by the government won’t really help the children who need the meals. The idea, I suppose, is that if all children get free school meals then there’s no distinguishing between those who need them to be free, and those whose parents could afford to pay for them. But as you point out, there are myriad ways that children are singled out at school for being poor, so wouldn’t the money the government’s spending on the free meals for the kids who don’t need it be better spent providing free school trips or free school uniforms for those that are in need?

fielsted

When I was 7 my dad was unemployed for a while. My parents cushioned us from the blow to the extent that they were able but still a few events from that time are forged in my memory. They are all connected with school. The somewhat blatant question asked of me by my teacher in front of the class: ‘WHEN is your father going to actually get a job, Fiona?’ holds a special place as it succeeded in making me feel I’d done something wrong. Having to wait for lunch in a separate queue to those who paid for their meals and then not being allowed to sit with my friends, resulted in my feeling tainted in some way. Whilst going to the Co-op with my mum to meet a man with a clipboard from the council who signed off the purchase of my winter coat, was just downright scary…

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Symptoms of Depression VS Side effects of Anti-Depressants

The question being: how can you tell the difference between the two?

I took the step, a couple of weeks ago now, to start taking anti-depressants. I could cope with the sadness, I could cope with the fatigue, I could cope with the self-hatred and the anxiety and the hopelessness, and even with the constant urge to self-harm. But I couldn’t cope when it all went away.

I mean, literally. My feelings (of which I had been feeling too many, too intensely), all just disappeared. I don’t remember if it happened gradually or overnight, but I remember how scary it was. It wasn’t that any of the physical symptoms of depression that I was experiencing (extreme tiredness, loss of concentration/motor skills, inability to sit still/inability to get out of bed, jaw clenching etc) went away, it was just that all I was capable of feeling was these things. No sadness, but no happiness. No anger, but no sense of humour either. I was also becoming slower, intellectually, having to read each sentence of a book or article a few times to understand it, and taking longer to process and make sense of what other people said to me.

So that was really scary. And even though I had counselling on the cards on the NHS, I knew that A) I would quite possibly end up having to sit on the 15 month waiting list for it (even though I’d already been referred for a year), and B) the counselling would be a long term help, whereas I was finding it harder and harder to physically make it through each day.

So I decided to go back to my GP and ask for anti-depressants after one particularly memorable evening when, despite having no emotions whatsoever, I found myself sobbing hysterically for around 4 hours for pretty much no reason.

The GP visit was interesting: ‘But what life events have happened in the past month to make you more depressed?’ – my only answer to this (I was too depressed to think of it at the time, but it would’ve been kick-ass), was: ‘The main life event that’s made my depression worse has been jumping through hoops to qualify my worthiness for treatment for my depression, and having no idea whether that treatment could start in a few weeks, or in 15 months.’

Anyway, she prescribed me the damn drug, yay.

So here comes my problem. I’m sitting, reading the leaflet in the packet like a good girl, and I’m having a real issue with the side effects listed. In that almost all of the side effects of the anti-depressant were symptoms of depression that I was already experiencing. I think the only ones listed that I wasn’t already having were nausea and weight loss (my depression made me fat).

I’ve been on them now, as I say, for a couple of weeks, and I’m really finding it hard to work out if they’re having any effect. The first couple of days I was on them I couldn’t get out of bed because I felt like I was literally just about to throw up, constantly, for two days, so that’s an effect, I guess. I’d say my appetite is also probably reduced quite a bit, which is really annoying, cos I get all excited about eating something, take one bite out of it, and feel sick. But then I was already getting that feeling for a couple of weeks before I started the drug.

I suppose my sleep might be a little disturbed, I’m getting more (and really terrifying) nightmares, and possibly feeling a touch more tired, too.

I’m possibly a bit less anxious? Yes, I think a bit less anxious, but then everything’s feeling really daunting, a bit scary, and waaaay too much effort, so I don’t know if that counts as a different kind of anxious.

So I suppose what I’m really saying is that, so far, I’m not feeling a whole lot of better. I’d say I’m possibly feeling a little worse (physically of course. As I’ve mentioned, my only ’emotions’ right now are physical sensations).

The whole point of taking these drugs is to get my emotions back, which I…don’t think has happened yet. I mean, I’m not sure, but I think that not being able to work out/remember whether I can feel anything or not is probably quite a clear indication that I can’t feel anything. I do hope they help. I don’t have that many options left and I suppose I do (in a very disconnected, depressed way), worry, because another mentioned ‘side affect’ of the drug is a sense of flatness or de-personification, which, as I’ve mentioned, is my main problem just now.

But hi-di-ho, I guess I’ll just wait. And wait. And hopefully, one day, I’ll feel some more things. I’ll keep you posted, either way.

Has anyone had a similar experience with anti-depressants? Does anyone know how to tell the difference between symptoms of depression and side affects of anti-depressants? Can anyone tell me why the room’s been spinning the whole time I’ve been writing this?

Answers on a postcard (but written really clearly cos printed text is confusing for me right now, let alone blummin’ handwriting!)

British Values for British People

Great piece on British Values. I mean, really, British Values! I ask you, what the hell are they supposed to be? My top picks: 1. Oppression of minorities and women 2. one rule for the people and another for the private schools 3. fish and chips

Left at the Lights

As a member of my family, a friend of many circles and a citizen of the patch of land on which I made my entry into the world, I share a common set of values with the people I choose to have in my spaces. They’re old, young, black, white and brown. Some of them practice a religion but a significant number don’t. They come in all shapes and sizes, genders and sexualities. Oddly, they do not share the same political beliefs necessarily but they place the same values on the things we all think are important; like treating each other with respect, for example, and dignity regardless of borders and stereotypes.

Honesty also scores fairly highly in our value system. It takes courage and humility to admit when you are wrong or when you may have hurt someone, unintentionally or otherwise. Recognising humanity in others is something I need…

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A more accepting age? Why stigma is nowhere near a thing of the past

For how many other illnesses would you have to wait 15 months or more for treatment to even begin, unless you were on death’s door? In treating how many other illnesses do we neglect to give patients a range of treatment options? How many other illnesses cost the economy over £100 billion a year, according to the Centre for Mental Health, but are only allocated spending of just £11.3 billion a year? 25% of our population experiences mental health problems each year, and yet mental illness (including dementia), is allocated just 13% of NHS funding.
Despite a rising demand for services, mental health funding has seen a real-terms cut of 2% in the past 2 years.
Fewer than 4 in 10 employers say that they would employ someone with mental health problems (http://www.mind.org.uk/media/1081517/Mind-Manifesto-Jun14.pdf) and yet we have people writing articles saying that there is no longer a stigma around mental health!
Even on a cultural basis, as purplepersuasion quite rightly points out, we jokingly call people ‘mental’ or ‘psychotic’ if they act strangely, we say that we’re ‘depressed’ if we’re having a bad day, we make jokes about suicide, self-harm and ‘mental patients’. We make parties themed around ‘looney bins’ and victorian asylums – and we assume that people with psychosis are violent and dangerous.
So not only does the stigma most definitely exist, but its prevalence in our general consciousness has filtered through to adversely effect actual treatment of real mental health patients. It’s basically a fucking disgrace!

purplepersuasion

STIGMA

  1. fig. A mark of disgrace or infamy; a sign of severe censure or condemnation, regarded as impressed on a person or thing; a ‘brand’.

Example: 1882   J. H. Blunt Reformation Church of Eng. II. 172   Branded with the stigma of illegitimacy.

Oxford English Dictionary

 

I’m particularly lucky where stigma is concerned. Despite having had bipolar since early adolescence, generally I have not experienced much stigma and discrimination. Some of it is to do with how open I am (it’s harder for someone to attack you if anything they could potentially use against you is already out in the open) but some of it must just be pure lucky because almost everyone I know who has a mental health condition has experienced much worse stigma. I know people who have been turned down at interview or hounded out of jobs, people who rejected by friends and family, people verbally…

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