Friday, April 22, 2011

Talking Trollops!

I need to get stuff off my chest today and so the more humorous 'She Wears Short Shorts-Part Deux' will have to wait. Neither does this post flow well-I think it reflects my confusion today.
 This, despite my excitement at Australian blogger and all round fabulous woman-Mrs Woog- actually replying to my comment on her blog. Having now raised my awareness of Australian country music. I shall be bracing myself for You Tube after this post, lest Kath and Kim are doing something unsavoury with a ten gallon hat, which ends in tears.

Talking Trollops
I wish I wasn't so frightened of my cyclothymia/bipolar whatever. My therapist calls it transgenerational trauma.
She reckons that I do myself no favours calling it anything else since everyone is an individual and you should just look at your own set of circumstances. She reminds me that I wasn't frightened about being bipolar before I knew I was, it's the word that frightens me.
Actually, I beg to differ. I often felt terrified but the focus often changed. That awful sense of impending doom settled over the kids, my health, the future, the news, whatever. But it's true that being mentally ill is the Mother of all Major Causes of Fear. Yet (she argues with herself) I wouldn't be so ill if I could stop the fear and so reduce the symptoms. The condition may even be (whisper it )controlled. Yes folks, controlled. That is what we are aiming for.

So, what reduces fear?  The fear which is neither real nor here in this moment. In reality-it comes from my imagination.

Eye contact- it's amazingly powerful but hard to do if you are jellified with anxiety. You actually need someone to help you do it, by looking at you in the eye and making you return the favour. You don't need to talk about the illness if you find that difficult-just make and keep eye contact and talk about the weather or coffee subs or (cough) AAAaaarsenal as Eric Morecambe would say. I sometimes sketch people to maintain eye contact. It gives me a peaceful interlude in a fraught day.

What next?
Turn up at the door.
A phonecall is better than nothing at all but as we've said, eye contact is best and I tend not to be honest on the phone "No, no need to come round. You get on with your own stuff. Don't worry about me" and then I sob myself dry when they take me at my word..
So, turn up have a cup of tea or best of all , take me out somewhere if I've had a bad spell. Again, no need to talk about the illness-just show your acceptance by acknowledging it and then go out. People tend to get housebound in bad spells.
One of the best days I ever had started out as one of the worst. I felt in complete despair when a friend turned up at the door, gave me a big hug (she is not one for talking things out) and took me christmas shopping. I felt completely safe and calm. I'd have held her hand going round the shopping centre if I could've. We had a great day and she said it was one of the loveliest she's ever had.
We never mentioned the cyclothymia and now we meet once a week for coffee come what may. She tells me each time what a lot it means to her that we make the time for each other. After so long being acquaintances, now we are real friends.
If you can listen to the problem, then that is helpful because otherwise things can get out of proportion and just saying it aloud is like using a parachute when you are in free fall. If I can't do it myself, then someone needs to pull the chord for me and just tell me the reality of the situation . For example
" Now, Spikey. You know very well that you can't be the impending mother of sextuplets because you haven't had sex since 1993, and even then you kept your tights on"  (this is very nearly true)
 I understand from my therapist that I will learn to remember that I am wearing a parachute in time.

Be encouraging. I know from personal experience and experimentation that these comments do not help (me)

1."Why aren't you on medication? It's an illness. You ought to be careful. It could get so much worse!"
This is not good as it purports to be professional advice but is in fact, scaremongering smug shite. It does not encourage me to get better and it is quite insulting as she obviously feels that she knows my condition better than me.  The middle 2 sentences are statements of fact masquerading as considered opinion . In other words -the bleeding bloody obvious!!!.

2. "I think that your daughter may have a brain tumour or have had a recent haemorrhage."
This is advanced shite. This was a health professional giving a very unprofessional, unfounded 'musing' in order to explain away her error of judgement and the fact that she never listened to me properly. It turned out to be completely wrong, but not before I had a near-certification experience since I was in the middle of a bipolar depression at the time. Bear in mind the impending doom that follows me about like Eeyore's tail and you can imagine the hurtling journey to rock bottom. Beware of thinking aloud. It does me damage.
3. Someone with your illness shouldn't really do meditation at all. It could be really dangerous. Have you had to go to hospital?
This was followed by very worried eye contact. This is the one instance where it doesn't help- seeing other people's grave concern and pity rather than encouraging engagement. It doesn't help you to feel safe and feeling safe is the key.
To be honest, I was wondering about the meditation myself though. Enlightenment sounds like mania to me with its white light of euphoria filling your being and making you feel as though you are soaring. Been there and done that and have several T-shirts. I really don't want to go there again.
Wouldn't it be ironic if I were practising meditation to control mania and the rest of the world is inadvertently tracking it down. Priceless!
 If you receive a message, text, email, voice mail or letter telling you that things haven't been/aren't too good then reply as soon as you physically can.
This is a cry for help and even if you can give nothing but a text, send it. It's contact with the outside world which takes one out of one's head.

Finally, we are all on a scale of something or other. I just get anxious more often with less reason than the next man. That's all. I am trying to control that and encouraging input from others is always helpful. Talking helps.

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