Monday, 19 May 2014

Here I go again. Blog rant.


I decided some time ago that if I didn't have anything to blog about in relation to my mental health, I would write about things that irked me. Things in the media that cause me to swear loudly. This is one of those blogs!

Hopefully I will be back to regular blogging soon but in the meantime this needs time written!

You will often read in newspapers that some poor schmuck or other has died after taking a "legal high". In a recent copy of the Metro, there was a short article about this issue. They ended the article with the following;

"'They are certainly not necessarily safe, and the word "legal" implies they are safe'".

Now, let's get right down to business here. Legal and safe are NOT synonymous. Look them up in the dictionary. The words are not interchangeable. Some of these "legal highs" have warnings on them saying "not safe for human consumption" HELLOOO?! 

I personally once took a legal high. Why? Why not! I'm not a stupid person. I bought the pills from a reputable seller. I read the instructions and I took one of the pills. I can't remember the exact instructions but I do recall the explicit advice to "not consume alcohol whilst using this substance"  and also "do not use in conjunction with any other substance, legal or otherwise" or something to that effect. So guess what? I didn't drink and I didn't take anything else. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed that I felt nothing from taking the pill. However, I dint feel compelled to take another, have a drink or score something more "industrial strength" because the instructions told me not to.

You may have your own opinions on my taking of drugs, legal or otherwise and you are perfectly entitled to let me know how you feel about my admission. However, it will not change the past and probably won't influence any future drug taking choices should they arise.

The youngsters that seem to have died from taking these legal highs were also often found to have consumed alcohol and also taken Ketamine. Do you know about Ketamine? I wouldn't expect that you would to be honest. It is used during surgeries from time to time. For people and animals. Ketamine is a sedative. Now, when you mix two seemingly safe chemicals together, you are bound (by the laws of chemistry) to create some sort of reaction. That is just basic science! Sometimes the reaction won't do anything noticeable to you but sometimes, BOOM! It's like those who take x amount of "uppers" alongside x amount of "downers" and their heart explodes!!

Here is just a short list of stories and what is wrong with them;

Matt Ford "smoked via a bong" a substance that you are advised to "burn and let the aroma relax you"
Jimmy Guichard died from smoking a substance marked "not safe for human consumption"
Jennifer Whiteley died after taking legal highs with cocaine

These are just a few stories. There are many more, do the research yourself and then make a conclusion.

The other story I am tired of reading which lies in the same vein is that about people consuming energy drinks.  These people having heart attacks after consuming x amount of Monster or Red Bull or whatever. Ok, first of all, if you have a HEART CONDITION you ought to know better! If you suffer in this way I'm almost certain your doctor will have told you to avoid drinks with high caffeine content. Second, how many of these drinks does one actually think is ok to consume? Yeah so you're a bit tired and you need something to perk you up, by all means, have a can or two but it's at your own risk! These drinks contain sufficient information about the ingredients contained therein. You just need to check the label.

Here are some stories about those deaths, what do you think?

Anais Fournier had defective blood vessels

Alex Morris "habitually drank" Monster
Drank 3 cans of Red Bull ofter intense gym workout!
Corey Terry drank Red Bull "all the time"
FDA reports "no link" between deaths and energy drinks

If these people can't drink this stuff responsibly then tough shit!

People often drink energy drinks combined with alcohol. They think they're fine yet energy drinks are a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant...! HELLOO???

We live in a society where a bag of nuts contains a warning "contains nuts" as Lee Evans once said "Well, fuckin YEAH! You'd be surprised if you opened the bag and a socket set fell out!" People are no longer accepting responsibility for their own stupidities. If you use a hair drier in the bathroom, there's a greater chance you're going to get electrocuted. That's your own stupid problem quite frankly! Gone are the days when such idiots were posthumously "honoured" for removing themselves from the gene pool by way of a Darwin Award. Pioneering surgery is now available to save the lives of such morons. I despair of this bubble wrapped world!

The whole "war on drugs" issue is a huge bee in my proverbial bonnet for many reasons. Having done a lot of my own research on the subject, I strongly agree with the legalisation of all drugs. This way they can be controls by scientists. They will be cleaner and quite probably somewhat safer! Also, think of the money that the economy will recoup! There will be less drug relate crimes, less police time/money invested in "stings" or "busts" and the association of drugs being "cool" because they are illegal will eventually disappear. Of course, this is not an exact science. Nothing ever is. However, all you need to do is look at the facts in places such as Portugal.

A lot of this boils down to freedom of choice. People ought to be able to make a choice of their own accord and face the risks associated with making such a choice. As long as what they choose to do doesn't cause direct harm to another living creature, where is the problem? If they weigh up the pros and cons and proceed with their choice and subsequently die, why is that anyone else's problem? As long as they weren't duped or coerced into doing the thing that may or may not kill them it's no one else's business!

Take responsibility for your own actions people! Stop seeking to blame someone else for your own idiotic actions!!

I'd be interested in hearing your opinions as ever on this matter. In the meantime,

Keep smiling :(:

Disclaimer: Just to be clear, I think that it's terrible these people have died. It's awful when anyone dies. However, I don't accept the way people are too quick to shove the blame onto someone instead of accepting the fact that either their parenting skills are shit or their kids are simply idiots! 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Anxiety Awareness


First semester of the final year at uni. I finally got to take the lectures I'd been waiting for since my first day stepping through those doors! I knew I wouldn't be with any of the friends I'd gained since being at uni which, let's face it, haven't been many so I was already a little anxious. I got to the class nice and early and couldn't wait to get started. These lectures were the ONLY reason I wanted to do this course!! The lecturer arrived and let us in. There was only a small group of us.

When we sat down I had a quick glance around the classroom and I noticed two girls who had been friends with someone who had given me trouble in the previous two years. I began to get prickles down the back of my neck.I ignored it as best as I could. I was concentrating on what the lecturer had to say. The prickles were getting more intense and my foot started twitching. I carried on concentrating as best I could, taking notes where appropriate but my hands were now tremoring.

The lecturer then announced a break and I breathed a hugh sigh of relief. Just before we left the classroom she also announced that upon our return there would be group work. GROUP WORK! Those two words were like a knife through my soul! I had enough trouble doing group work with people I knew. In my class now were two people who I really didn't want to be with and about 10 people I didn't know.

My breathing started getting quicker, my head started to swim and those prickles were becoming more intense. I hastily exited the classroom and made for the stairs. I needed air I decided. I paced back and forth outside the building, taking huge gulps of cold, fresh air. I wasn't helping, it was getting worse. I sat on the ledge with my head between my knees taking long deep breaths. I felt like I was going to vomit!

I went back into the building to get a cup of tea. Tea has magical powers for me, it works on almost anything. Almost! By the time I got to the front of the queue I couldn't speak, I could feel tears forming at the backs of my eyes, my hands were shaking quite violently and I felt so embarrassed.I left the cafe without my tea and made for the ladies. Perhaps a splash of cold water and a stern mirror talk would help.

I spent about 5 minutes in the bathroom and the anxiety was not subsiding. I knew by this point I was almost due to be back in the class. I took the lift up the three floors fearing my heart wouldn't cope with the stairs. Inside the lift my chest began to tighten.

Those tears were now falling down my face and I was shaking so badly I couldn't hold myself upright. I burst into the classroom and could feel the few people already back from their break staring at me. I went over to the lecturer and tried to ask if I could have a quick word. I couldn't speak still. My body was becoming racked with huge sobs. I saw a glimmer of recognition in her eyes.

When we exited the classroom I explained that I had to leave in incredibly halting speech. She said that she knew what was wrong as her husband also had panic attacks. She advised me to sit outside for a while and take slow deep breaths. She also said it wasn't imperative that I attend the second half of the class. By this point my mind was racing so fast and I was crying so hard that I couldn't see properly.

I could feel people staring at me as I fled from the building. I headed to the bus stop with a view to going to my friend's who lived nearby and in the meantime, I called my Aunty Julie as she has often been a pillar of strength for me. She could tell immediately something wasn't right and tried to talk me down off the proverbial ledge.

Despite all of her fantastic efforts, I think I was actually too far gone to bring back in this manner. By the time I got to my friend's stop I was practically hysterical. I felt like my head and chest were going to explode. She saw me coming and opened her door and waited.

She said nothing. She guided me into the kitchen. I was crying and stuttering. My breathing was incredibly erratic and I couldn't stand still.

My friend then continued what appeared to be her morning routine. She was making a cup of tea and some cereal. She was talking me through her plan for the day. I couldn't hear too well as the sound of my own heart beating was deafening in my ears. I continued pacing round and round the kitchen and my friend continued to talk to me, making eye contact wherever possible. I could feel the anxiety subsiding.

The panic was receding like waves from the shore. My tears were drying and my sobs were becoming less violent. My thoughts were still in disarray but I could now hear what she was saying. She was telling me very matter-of-factly that we were going to have breakfast out in the garden then we would head on over to the high street to pick up some essentials and then she would head off to uni.

Slowly but surely, my anxiety passed. I was able to eat and enjoy my breakfast in the sunny garden.

In all, this attack lasted around an hour. It was the most excruciating attack I've ever experienced. When people generally speak of anxiety they seem to dismiss it as something that everyone gets from time to time and it's no big deal. Imagine going through what I went through even once and someone saying it's "no big deal"...!

Mental Health Awareness Week 2014 takes place from 12-18 May. This year's theme is Anxiety.

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their lives, whether it's preparing for a job interview or bringing up a child. It is normal to experience anxiety in everyday situations, however persistent and excessive anxiety can cause more serious mental health problems.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems in nearly every country in the world and, while a low level of anxiety can be a useful motivating force, in some cases it can take over your life. That's why we're raising awareness of anxiety and how to live with the condition this Mental Health Awareness Week.

The success of Mental Health Awareness Week is largely down to the generous support we receive from organisations and individuals throughout the UK who get involved by publicising the week, organising activities and events, and hopefully having some fun as well.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Where is TheBipolarKid?


It's been a while since I've felt able to write. I've had an awful lot going on!  I'm not sure yet what this blog will cover but I'm sure it will  figure itself out. 

The biggest problem I've had since my last blog is the breakdown and eventual end of my relationship with Mr Aussie. You may remember I've mentioned him a few times. 

It's somewhat difficult to pin down the reasoning for the end of the relationship but I'd say my main motivation for ending it was maintaining what shred of sanity I have left! 

I loved Mr Aussie. I'm pretty sure I still do but there are so many things going on in my life right now and I'm unable to reconcile any of them! It has been incredibly difficult to accept the relationship is over. In fairness, it's been over for some time before I actually finally walked away. Will it stay over? I couldn't say right now but I need to find myself and that is going to take some time. More recently, he threatened to take his own life and selfish though it may sound, I'm not equipped to deal with that.

My mum has been sick since October or thereabouts. She had a really bad cough that she didn't seek medical attention for and it just got worse. She eventually went to the doctors and they gave her antibiotics and ordered a chest x-ray. When the results of said x-ray came back, there was a "shadow on her lung". A CT scan was subsequently ordered. I've never been particularly close with my mum but since moving away from home some 9 years ago I've found myself to be entirely in edge whenever something goes bad at home. When she told me about the x-ray, my mind went to the only conclusion it could at that moment - cancer. I got myself very worked up about it. The stress it caused me resulted in me taking a leave from my studies. This, in turn  made me incredibly depressed given that I only had one semester left to complete. However, not only was it for the best for my wellbeing, it would also, hopefully, give me the chance to re-take the earlier semester as well as I know I didn't do as well as I ought to have. As well as leaving university, I have managed to lose all of my friends! 

My mum went for her CT scan after what seemed like an endless wait and the. There was more waiting for the results. They were inconclusive and an endoscopy was ordered. More waiting ensued. Once she got her appointment for the endoscopy, we had to wait yet again for those results.  Frustratingly, the endoscopy results didn't show anything and the doctor ordered her yet another course of antibiotics. Taking the total to 5 I believe. When she went to her latest appointment, she mentioned to the doctor about the swelling in her legs. You see, some time last year, my mum broke her knee very badly. Her legs were so swollen it was almost impossible to distinguish between her thighs and her ankles based on size! The doctor said that swollen legs "may indicate a heart issue". However, they didn't seem to actually address this! I'm at the point at the moment where I want to switch off from this whole issue for a while. That may seem really selfish but on the grand scheme if things, my mums problems were/are the least of my worries and if the doctors ruled out cancer then theoretically, there's still life in the old dog! 

The next issue I have spent a lot of time dealing with lately is the issue of a close friend's health anxiety. 

Now, given my experience in the field of psychology and my own experiences of mental health issues, I was almost immediately convinced that my friend had HA. When she had her baby, she suffered from post natal depression. Since I hadn't been around at the time of the baby's birth, I wasn't aware that there were some rather serious medical issues in the last few months of the pregnancy as well as during the actual birth. 

When I got round to meeting my friend's baby, she was a few weeks old at least. The instant I saw my friend, I knew something was amiss. Despite her pride in her creation, the sparkle had gone from her beautiful blue eyes. Instead, a dullness had taken up residence. I observed her behaviour for a while and concluded that she was suffering post natal depression. When I mentioned this to her, she instantly became defensive, angry and upset. If I remember correctly, her words to me were; "have you seen my beautiful baby? What the fuck could I possibly have to be depressed about?!" Of course, this was a rather irrational, response but only because of her lack of knowledge and understanding. I left it at that. 

Some one year later, my friend came to me and asked if I recalled telling her she had suffered PND. Of course I remembered. She then said "I think you might be right" and proceeded to give me a run down. She had become very tearful, after baby went to sleep, my friend would sit and cry. When she was around her boyfriend, she would become irritable and snappy for "stupid reasons". She also felt lonely and isolated. My friend had also moved away from her family village and even out of the home city she grew up in. Leaving behind friends and family. She moved to a new city where she knew almost nobody. She didn't have a particularly good relationship with 'mother-in-law' and felt she couldn't turn to her for help and instead came to me. I have to say, I am incredibly proud that she was able to do that as we all know very well it's not only difficult to admit there is an issue, it's also excruciating to talk to someone about it.

I listened to what she had to say and offered my advice as a close friend, childcare worker, psychology student and fellow mental health sufferer. I told her to go to the doctors. Seeking help is probably the next greatest issue for anyone with a mental health condition. My friend rationalised that if she sought help for PND she would have her child taken away. A possibly irrational thought but not entirely illogical. Needless to say, no help was sought. 

More recently, my friend has been coming to me for advice on various ailments. Stomach pains, a possible lump "down there", trouble going to the bathroom, back ache and a number of other maladies. The first issue was the lump. I remember my own experience of such a thing a few years back. I found a pea sized lump in my lady parts and instantly assumed the worst. This was not an illogical leap really, there is female cancer in both my parents' families. For weeks I would check this lump, convinced it was getting bigger and harder but I avoided going to the doctors. Eventually, it got to a point where my boyfriend at the time ordered me to make a doctor's appointment. I called my GP practice the next day and unsurprisingly was told I would have to wait. Three weeks! Of course, that was painful! 4/5 days before the actual appointment I eventually went to a walk-in clinic. I had to wait quite some time as there were many people using this service. When my name was eventually called, I felt sick to my stomach! To make things worse, the doctor I was seeing was male! I described my issue to him. I was under the impression that he would want to take a look. I tensed up at the thought. However, after a few seconds (that felt like hours) of chin scratching, doc told me it was "probably nothing but if it gets worse, go to A&E! Well, this instantly put me on edge. It took me enough time to work up the courage to speak to my GP let alone wander into a hospital (something I loathe by the way) and tell them about a lump I had on my lady parts!

I kept my appointment with the GP and pretty much counted the hours until it was go time. To my relief, the doctor was female. I described the issue as well as my fears and family history. The doctor the examined me and informed me that there was simply a cyst down there and prescribed me some antibiotics which I was to take the following day. Miraculously, (or not), the following morning the lump had completely disappeared! I know it was definitely there as the doctor felt it. I called up the GP practice slightly concerned and explained to her what had happened and she in formed me that "sometimes cysts just disappear". I was both surprised and relieved. Not only had the lump gone, I had no reason to take the antibiotics!

I digress! Back to my friend, she described the lump to me as best she could and I told her it sounds either similar to what I had or possibly an infected follicle/ingrown hair. I told her to make an appointment with her GP. In the meantime, I told her to hold a hot cloth to the area as if it was a pore it should help open it up and then if she was to take a bath, she may be able to wash away whatever was causing the problem. After her bath, she informed me that the the lump was now really red and the top was a bit yellowish. These things pointed to infected follicle or an ingrown hair. I advised her to re-apply the hot towel in the hopes of bringing the swelling to a head and safely draw out whatever was contained therein! Some time later she told me that she had been picking and squeezing at this thing and suddenly some "yellow stuff came out". I reaffirmed my original though of ingrown hair or infected follicle. I tried to reassure her of this. Unfortunately, my friend was held too tight in the grip of her health anxiety demons and was now convinced that she may have poisoned herself.

Now, any ordinary person might get a little fed up here of a friend "overreacting" to what is "obviously" not a big deal. However, I'm more than aware that in mental health, there is no such thing as an overreaction and nothing is ever obvious. Since this first issue, my friend has frequently come to me with issues. It's so difficult to try and talk a person through a mental health issue when they don't really understand it. I've spent a little time doing research and helping my friend to understand the illness she has. It seems we are making reasonable progress. She is seemingly happy to accept the things I am telling her. She has been reading material I have provided her and will hopefully soon embark on a CBT course. I also had her watch an episode of House M.D. in order that she see health anxiety played out. For those interested in seeing the episode, it's season 4, episode 18 - Airborne. 

Also recently, I lost my job! It's been really difficult for me because the one thing that keeps me going is my work!!

So yeah, these are the things I've been dealing with recently which is why I haven't been blogging. 

With some amount of luck, things will change, even a little, some time soon and things will get a little better!

I feel like there should be more here but I'm not really up to writing!!

In the meantime, as ever, I am looking to feature true life stories of my readers as well as web sites and/or forums that you find useful! Drop me a line if you have anything to share!

Keep Smiling :):