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Reflections…Week Twenty two

canstockphoto8630797A week of uncertainty, a week of determination.

For nearly three weeks part of my medication has been unavailable, completely ending my dose just shy of a fortnight ago. No weening off, just a sudden stop, ended, and as it is the only one in its class, no alternative.

Luckily, I have had no side effects, BUT, and it is a big but – after multiple failures to obtain the medication it took a week , due to one thing and another, to find out if I was at risk of harm from the sudden stop and what my options were.

Not the risk of harm as in suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, the usual bag of side effects. No the question was more of physical, I have been on this medication for years and my body chemistry would have adapted, to a degree, at receiving it daily.

The staff at the groups I use have been kept aware of what has been happening and helping where they can, so I have good, knowledgeable, organisations as backup should things start going wrong. Family are also available, so two safety nets as it were. But it is the group staff that have had the most concern, they have seen people ‘go off’ their meds, and the results are not usually pretty.

If I was at the stage that my belief in the medication is the source of my healing, I would have been worried, but since being on the medications my health as a whole has decreased, co-incidental?

When you go onto medication and you show side effects that the doctors doctors don’t see as problematic, weight gain, brain fog, heck, even my illusions were classed as a side effect by one doc, the usual “it’ll go away in time” becomes the standard reply. This is, I believe, because you cannot test for side effects, so how do you prove/disprove they exist in a patient? My sudden development of a twitch and stammer could not be found in a book, not in patients over the age of 16ish, so that too got the “it’ll go away eventually” line.

Add in the factor of ones improvement due to therapies, that also has no test for it, you have two variables of ones health that do not fit into the equation. The drugs get all the praise and none of the blame, does this really help the patient?

There are reports by some doctors in America, including at least one Psychiatrist, that say the drugs are not the answer, and a homeopathic approach is better for the patient long term. Now I don’t know if that is true or not, since there is no profitability by the drug companies, there have been limited studies on it, but I don’t know why it isn’t available alongside as part of the treatment, possible side effects – better health, better diet, shorter amount of time on the medication, therefore less exposure to the common side effects of suicide, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety…

One goes to a weekly group that, for want of a better term, does life learning. Which is to say ones life choices, usually influenced at an early age, are questioned and alternative thought patterns are offered. The idea is simple, identify negative traits, identify why they are there, explore alternatives, implement small changes, find oneself and become oneself. Sometimes we are shaped, including our reactions, from outside sources, to a point we become less us and more what is expected to ‘be’.

Yes I am aware I speak as one and as multiple, this can also be a side effect of the shaping, segments of ones personality can get segregated.

Side note  pomegranate/pear/raspberry juice with spirulina and green superblend powders…yuck…eugh…nasty!

I believe I have been lucky in experiencing no side effects (to present), and I would not recommend stopping medication to anyone, but I would recommend you going to as many free therapies/groups/courses as you possibly can that are available in your area. The amount of courses/groups I have gone to is the reason I don’t fear coming off the medication, even as a trail, how else can it be proven if it was the  drug or whether it was changes made during my stay at the mental hospital responsible for the improvement of my mental state and whether the drug has been ‘working’ these past years?

In the West Midlands there are groups like Brighter futures, Echo, Mind, Healthy Minds and Changes, these are the ones I know about but not all of them, they are free and recognised Mental Health groups.

If a series of events and responses in the past are responsible for present, then is it not a good thing to learn to change the responses in order for the future be different than the present?

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

 

Reflections…Week Eighteen

canstockphoto8630797I once had to dump my motorbike and jump into the side of an Artic Lorry Cab, leaving a dent in the cab door and wrapping my tobacco tin around my thigh where it hit the cab wheel. I was bruised and I ached the next day but I went back to my very manual job. Just another day, just another bruise. It was a walk away, though for the motorbike it was the end, that went under the wheel – and then under it a second time as he reversed back over it to see what he had hit.

I’m older now, not so able to just shake off the knocks, but I manage. What I find difficult is the days I wake up with every muscle aching for no reason, my head swimming like it is the morning after the night before, including the hissss – sunlight – shut the curtains and block it out, and the brain fog.  Yesterday was bad, I hardly moved out of my darkened room, my head in limbo from one thought to the next, even prompting by spot didn’t get me out of the house.  It took most of today to work up the momentum to do it, sometimes going outside is like walking against a strong wind, but only you feel it, and until you do, you don’t really understand how difficult it is.

Spot has been a godsend in my recovery, she knows when I am dipping, she plays the fool more elaborately to cheer me up, in her mind it works because I take steps to divert it when I can, she is my early warning system when I don’t wake with it in place. She will prompt me for going out, to the point of anoyance, and a simple day out for a walk with her is something to aim for .

And she gives good cuddles without asking.

But even with Spot in place the constant pain is starting to wear me down, I have support in place, but I just want to know what is happening and why my feet feel like someone is trying to rip them apart. These are the worst parts and at the same time these are the ‘worst’ parts.

They hurt the most and they hinder the most, I cannot remember a time without some sort of pain in them now. I hate being given ‘advice’, the meaning well’ness is there, but if it aggravates whatever it is, I suffer the next day maybe two. An exercise for one complaint can be torture for another. That is why I am waiting for an answer from the doctors before I start anything new, heck even they have offered no exercises to do that I am not already doing.

Its been two and a half years now and though I have a few “it’s not” statements the path has run its course and i am being signed off, so I have to start right back at the beginning because I was sent the wrong way. Not that I was expecting much from Neuro, they admitted that my stammer/stutter and twitch, which appeared out of the blue five years ago, was neurological but they did not know why, off I was sent to ‘receive help’ to accept this new feature, job done. But never have I been treated like I was dog  dirt on a shoe for being there, on another doctors referral, and wasting his time before.

All I want is an answer to the question….”Whats up doc?”

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

 

Reflections…Week Six

Try something new, it’s good for the brain.

That is what I have been told many a time, so when the opportunity to do a one day course came along on a day and time one could do, one did. Team Building. To make this more interesting, one was going alone.

Not knowing who was going, nor how many, put my system to into a panic. However, having been to the building several times before, and being in a larger size group in the room gave some calm to my mind. The room is quite spacious and even at capacity  still feels like there is plenty of space to escape. Toilet facility and door sitings, the primary locations to look for in a new building, are known, and it has noting to do with Feng Shui.

The morning arrived, my stomach churned for hours before I made my way to the course, I nearly backed out, it would be easy to do. Truth be told, with it being run for people with mental health problems, it’s kind of expected, and what do I need with team building? Every ‘team’ I have been on, and it’s not many, have been dysfunctional at best and at worst…a bunch of individuals clumped together. Solitary, shy and introverted by nature, oh and antisocial now, thats me. Not the abusive neighbour or troublesome element of a neighbourhood, more the “he just kept himself to himself officer”, “such a lovely man” kind of person. Heck I have even been called antisocial on social sites due to my non interaction. Do I really want to build teams?

The course was run by a lovely young lady, genuinely enthusiastic, warm and welcoming. I was first to arrive, promptly choosing a seat furthest from the door facing, toward it. Two more came in and sat on the table in front, then Three came in together, two of whom I recognised, and sat at the first table. This is pretty representative of my social life, not in the ‘clic’, not on the fringes, just about in the room.  Sometimes there are others, each circling the outer edges, occasionally bumping into one another, or into a group, jostling for a little while, then resuming the orbital path.

It was suggested that since a couple where know, I should sit with the first table, at least until the others arrived. Two more made Eight. Moved again, I joined three strangers on the second table. I was not looking forward to this.

Quite quickly it became apparent that this table was the table with the extrovert, bad enough, but he had an enabler, someone to feed his id, now I really started to question why I was there. I cannot speak for the fourth in the group, but his demeanour was that of a quiet reflect-full man also on his own, we were outnumbered.

Exercises to build ‘team spirit’ where a runaway, I have never been able to be heard against an extrovert. They run, I walk, if not sit. My ideas get drowned out by the enthusiasm extroverts create around them selves, at a certain point that energy is a repellant and I quietly drift back to the edge. This time however I was noticed, only by the course runner, but I will still take the notice, my ideas where heard and hints to the group were given, they were not heard though, the train had left the station and the passengers were chasing behind it.

The pattern repeated itself with each tasks, same old same old. Hints by the course runner could not have been more obvious to include, nay, listen to, the quiet ones, only to get squatted away like an annoying fly. I did things that I found uncomfortable, at one point I swear I was glowing with embarrassment. But I plodded along, right until the last task. A daft little task but my geek came out and it wanted to be heard.

Build a structure out of marshmallows and dried spaghetti, the tallest to stand on its own for thirty seconds wins.

What was being built lacked structural integrity, strength and geometry. I drew out a stronger design on paper, it was ignored, I tried to explain the reason why the structure being built would fail, it was ignored, or how I spoke was not understood, same result either way.  I then went as far as an engineering example of what I was saying, and with the help of the course runner I was finally heard. Then ignored again. Having seen the strength in what I was saying, the extrovert upgraded his design, but he didn’t need the bits he did not understand, so I was ignored. I got stuck in this time and did the structural cross-members and support beams whilst arguing the point of having a solid base. It was not easy, but each success was seen and copied on the other sides. We became an ‘awkward first date’ team, stumbling along but managing; just.

I have, in my past, helped to break in a horse, and I had the bruises and cuts to prove it, for days after I ached. This was comparable.

Time was called and the structure stood firm-ish, the top layer had not been finished so it twisted around on itself  but it stood up. We won.  The course runner gave tips, the biggest for me was that I gave up to easy when I had the best idea, because I had the best knowledge on the subject. “You just need to boost my confidence in yourself” she said “and fight to be heard longer”.

The course next week …Assertiveness.

With the biggest class she has ever had!

Someone somewhere is takin the ….

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Reflections… Week Five

What is it that makes us want to sing? It can’t be just pure emotions, to have the music lost would mean one was emotionless, that would be more positive than being stuck in the negative. So being stuck in the negative emotions means that one feels emotions, but the music is lost.

The reason that this has become an issue is due to joining a music therapy type group, with the aim of keeping my finger joints loose and learning to play an instrument, with the added benefit of noise exposure. Ten cats fighting in a tin room is what karioke sounds like to me.

Its not the fact I cannot play a tune, I am realistic in my expectations, its the fact I cannot hear a note, I am not tone deaf, I hear each part of the note not the whole. Let me try to explain, If an instrument has 3 strings and is in the key of D, all three are strummed to make the D note. For this example the strings are D,a,d. My brain, as awkward as it is of late, is hearing me play D,a,d and not the note D, no matter how fast I strum. Unless I play the instrument through an amplifier that is facing me, then I hear the note of D.

So play through an amplifier all the time then! I play like a beginner, definitely not something that you would want to make louder.

What does this have to do with the opening question?

Well there may be a connection. I do not have any desire to sing, I have not, on reflection, for a very long time. I listen to music, but nowadays it is part of a coping mechanism to control my audio stimulation, I do not sing along, even in the car, a non fiction audio book is preferred. Tunes, even annoying ones, are quickly forgotten once no longer heard, they don’t get “stuck”, annoying when trying to learn a song to play.

The playing of an instrument is as much a tool as it is the desire to one day play by an open fire at a campsite. In writing this I now know I have a desire, Progress.  So , I have desire and emotion but music is lost.

Where does the music go? I had it before the “breakdown”, never public scince choir; a mandatory position, as I was bass, and loud.  I play alone, so nerves are ruled out. Its not heart because I’m not heartless. So am I over analysing things, getting stuck in the anilitical process?

Am I having a thechnical Fault?

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Unstable tower?

canstockphoto8630797Jenga, the wooden tower of blocks, a game for the young, a game for the adults, a game for the drinkers and an analogy of ones mind.

An analogy I have used more than once to try to understand what I cannot and one I have used to elevate the blame from people from the past. I do not see the point of them wondering if they played a part in my ‘breakdown’.

Here’s how I use it:-

All minds start off as a solid block tower, straight and true.

Then our minds are shaped by us and those around us.

Blocks are pulled or pushed out, teased or eased and placed on top.

The tower grows whilst taking an individual shape.

Some blocks are moved by the removal of others, some make the tower lean left, right, forward or backward or any combination thereof.

Jenga of life.

Some people add blocks to fill the gaps, as we all can do, and some of us try to spread out the blocks we were given at the start, reasons why are as varied as the individuals who do it.

By adding the blocks the structure can take knocks and stand firm.

By spreading the blocks thin even the lightest of knocks can shift the structures balance.

If on top of this, if a block is placed at the wrong place, the balance can be placed to the very tipping point. Only a counter block will stabilise the tower. Another block badly placed causes the towers collapse.

Now it could be said that the last couple of blocks were the reason for the towers failure, but that would be incorrect. If that were so just the last couple of blocks would fall away and the tower left standing. For a tower to collapse the structure was weakened over time by the way it was built/shaped.

My tower collapsed, I spent that much time building it for others I forgot to build it for myself. I was never shown how to build my Jenga  of life strong and too low a self esteem stopped me asking for help. Knock after knock and badly placed blocks proved too much.

Some blocks are damaged and need replacing, some just repairing, some seem to have come from someone else set and some are new.

I am a child; with a set of blocks in front of me. Building a tower.

My Tower.

JENGA® is a registered trademark owned by Pokonobe Associates. 

I have No association to this company. 

Nor do I guarantee how many hours of fun you will have playing this game.

I don’t know your friends.

Paddle in the sea.

DSCF0934As the mid-way point of yet another Bank holiday has passed and the rush to the coast to enjoy the good weather, judging by the lack of traffic on the roads here, I have allowed a small smile to cross my lips at my choice to go a walking barefoot earlier in the week.

The weather forecast was for a sunny day, but to honest I have not been to the sea since last time I wrote, so being able to go, I would have gone regardless. There is a peace wandering down a near empty beach, the sound of the waves being the main auditory input.

Once, there was a feeling , nay, a longing, that the sea gave me, a draw unto itself if you will. I felt I understood what it was that made the first people venture forth unto the unknown toward a new destiny, the very sound of the waves calming the spirit whilst enthralling it . I revisit the coast now to try and rekindle the feeling. Walking with the hot sand enveloping my toes, a thought came to mind.

Do the people, who may have never even seen the beach, fleeing their country due to war get that same feeling?

I was a toddler when first introduced to the sea, so the memory of seeing this great expanse of water for the first time is lost. Did the sense of wonderment gradually build up, or has it always been there? Does the sea have a subconscious connection with the human brain? The sea has claimed many a life, by being what it is, no emotional drive or impulse, so we should fear it as we fear all things that can cause harm. But as a species we are drawn to it, why? It goes beyond gathering resources and materials, there is an affinity with it.

I pondered this a I wandered, my body taking its own path, no real destination for either, when suddenly I was bought back to the now with a wave splashing up my thigh. I had inadvertently been paddling in the sea, not much excitement in that statement I grant you, but I, over half a lifetime ago, stopped paddling, because the sea was too cold. And here I was knee deep in the sea and not minding the temperature one bit nor caring how long I had been in it.

The inadvertent paddle left me with a sense of familiarity and memories locked away from my childhood Holidays came trickling back, times of hours spent in rock pools catching shrimp or gathering molluscs. The feeling that the sea used to give me may have faded, replaced by a small spark of hope; hope that nature will ultimately be my guide to where I need to be, or at least the path I need to be on.

A thought also goes out to all that embark on the journey across the sea, may your journey be a safe one.

A crossroads reached.

DSCF0966Perception.

Perception is a curious thing, it taints all we see or it reveals, it all depends on your view point. Perception is individual and yet it is, for all under a psychiatrist, supposed to be what someone else has perceived to be normal. And not all the people who wrote the book come across as what would be perceived in this ‘modern’ world as ethically correct. Case in point would be John Broads Watson, the ‘Father’ of behaviourism and the ‘little Albert’ experiment, an experiment on a nine month old infant to condition a phobia.

If you take 100 people off the streets today, ask them all the same 100 questions, on a scale of 1 to 10, then take the average from all the results; how many would be normal? A Mathematician does not think like an Artist who does not think like a Writer, and yet there is art in all three. A flower will still be a flower when all three perceptions put there respective art onto paper as their representation of  the said flower. Not all will be understood by all viewing, but that by no right makes one  perspective wrong. As long as there is no harm done, that pretty much is universal.

Mental Illness has a mask, a false projection, not only to others but also to the sufferer. Perception of ones self is not what you would expect, many a reflection is of a stranger, coping well, whilst failing. Being asked the same questions over and over, on  a scale of 1 to 10. Never wanting to answer truthfully if experiencing a really bad patch, for the fear of being put back into ‘Hospital’ is a real one. A Hospital where the beds can be broken and should have been thrown out ages ago. The last one I slept in I had to put a folded blanket under the mattress to fill the hole in the bed itself. Not to mention the negative stigma that would come from ‘another’ stay in ‘the’ Hospital.

And when did someone come up with the idea that a person with a Mental health problem has the perception to answer the questions correctly when it has already been perceived that they do not have the mental perception that they are ill in the first place. A drunk will never perceive the level of drunkenness they are at, so asking them to rate their drunken state on a scale of 1 to 10 is pointless.

If by now you are wondering if I have a pet peeve with the forms resembling a customer satisfaction survey, Yes I have.

But if the system is not there to help one recover, rebuild and remove ‘shackles’ from the past if necessary, then what is the point of the system. When it feels like you have been drugged up and shipped out to pasture, is that the time to question the process? What if the drugs are making you ill? Or there is the chance they are making you ill, don’t you have the right to be told?

Imagine breaking a leg, being told you have broke your leg, given pain killers at varying strengths until the pain is blocked, told you have to accept that your leg is broken and all that can be done is to monitor the pain killer strength (the side effects of the pain killer include pain), ignoring the techniques are out there to mend the broken leg.

Wouldn’t happen would it?

Unfortunately it happens at a regular rate when the mind breaks.