Totally Mental : A Week In Carnage Day 1 Monday

It hasn’t started well, the week.

Up at 06.20 – bad enough in itself – to take my wife to work at the hospital.  It’s a short drive of about 5 minutes. As I turn the corner onto another road on the estate, there is a police car – one occupant, driver’s side – parked at the roadside.  The officer watches me as I go past. Immediately, my mind goes into overdrive, as if someone has flicked a switch; I see me arriving back home with the door hammered in and a search taking place.

My wife, understanding my terror, tries to calm me by making logical suggestions why he should be there. They don’t register. I understand them, but they just don’t stick.  They just send other thought processes racing, as to why someone should try to throw me off the scent.  The someone being my wife.  I hate myself for thinking about it.

The journey is a difficult one. I’m hypervigilant, watching for signs of activity, anyone following or observing me. 

On my return, alone, the police car is still there, with the same occupant. He looks into his side mirror as I approach and pass. My mind, already jumpy, now ratchets up a gear; he is going to let them know I am returning.  A few seconds later I arrive home to a quiet house, no suspicious cars parked.  They are waiting until I am inside to pounce.  I do some mundane tasks to pass time, distract. I write this. So far, my front door is intact. I must go check outside the window, to see if there are suspicious cars in the street. 

The cats eye me almost warily before settling themselves down to a post-breakfast sleep.  I must eat. Then I too, may sleep. I’m still listening. A noise like a helicopter in the distance. I listen again, carefully. But I think it is a light ‘plane; not a threat.

More later.

 

 

 


 

 

It’s later. 08.25, and the panic is starting to subside, though a feeling like a hangover still dominates.

I’ve not yet breakfasted, I don’t really want to go nto the kitchen, which faces the road, to see out. 

On the positive side, I’ve replaced the batteries and linked up the electricity economy meter.  I need to wash up.

 

 

 

 


 

 

Breakfast. 0930 hours. Getting the feeling I’m an embarrassment to be ignored, and the usual idea that people are laughing at me behind my back. 

I need to shop today. ‘Out’ is going to be difficult.  

My CRB should be back in 3 weeks. It’s a sword of damocles. 

I’m panicking a little now I have typed ‘out’.  Rocking is comforting.

 

 

 


 

 

Difficult to move today.  Mental arthritis.

I really want to try and go to the neighbouring town which has a Lakeland to get a tap fitting.  It will please my missus when she gets home from a hard day as a Sister on a busy NHS ward. But the fear is something that has to be overcome; it is a paralysing force that even makes ringing those I love difficult.  I need to put on my mask, and all the other dreadful clichés that abound. Act my way throught it.  Frightened of the people who might be observing me.

Just bloody frightened.

 

 

 


 

 

I didn’t make it.

That’s the awkward thing about writing a live blog; all your mistakes and failures are there for all to see. Ok, I could have lied, made something up, but that would have made the point of this exercise nul and void. Another cliche. I don’t seem able to avoid them today.

The thing is, I baulked at leaving, and made an excuse to myself that I needed a quick cup of tea – to avoid getting dehydrated, you understand. As if I was going to run all the way from Telford to Shrewsbury.  So I had my cuppa, and joked about it on Twitter – mea cuppa.  I sat on the sofa for a minute to collect my thoughts after drinking the tea – and fell deeply asleep.

I was awoken about 13.30 by a phone call. My CRB was at stage 2 and clear so far. My paranoia subsides a little, and I relax.  I am asleep again before I even am aware of it; and I awake at 15.00 hrs , guilty for not having contributed more during the day.  

Guilt takes hold, and self-loathing begins. I’m useless, I’m worthless as a member of the household. They might just as well come and get me now. The fact that I am ill – depressive bipolar, PTSD – once again fails to take root in my brain. I know it, but I cannot believe it. I have tidied the house a little. It makes it look like I have done something; the small amount of washing up remains undone.  Not for the first time, I am glad that my wife is working over her hours. I may yet get that done so at least downstairs looks better. Panic.

Panic renders actions impossible,

 

 

 


 

 

16.30 and no call yet to say Belinda is finished work. She’s a ward Sister. Anger rises and burns like bile in the throat; they are taking advantage of her, of the fact she wants to do such a good job for her patients.  I am angry at them, and frustrated too, as I can do nothing against them.  Then again, she does not, so the story in my head goes, have a lot to come home to.  A depressed failure, so the narrative runs. Or maybe the police are keeping her back to unnerve me before they pounce. Or maybe she has been assaulted, as so many nurses are, and lies unconscious, and they have forgotten to let me know.

The telephone rings. She is ready to come home. Only 90 minutes late. Anger again at those who exploit her.

I get my car keys.

            

The mist clears a little now that Belinda is home; after a rocky unloading of the day from her, we settle down.

I have made bread. It has risen well. We are going to have a treat:

Fish & Chips from town. I just have to go out and get it. Things are a little more hopeful. 

If I am honest, anxious about continuing this blog; can I do it, can I continue to do it, can I continue to show my mind’s inaccuracies and malfunctions.  Tomorrow is Belinda’s day off. It may start later than today. 

 

 


 

 

It’s 2100 hrs and the evening turns to trying to distract – usually by watching a little television.

If I didn’t distract myself, the late evening blues would come in earlier; that feeling of having a darkness outside, and a darkness inside. Some days it is worse than others, tonight I am jumpy and nervous. I’m trying to sort out why. It may be that the very lowering of defences necessary in this blog posting is making me insecure. However, some nights I am practically tourettish; jumpy and talking in stacatto bursts to myself, which sometimes escapes thought and into speech.

I’m going to watch a recording I made of Lillehammer, a US/Norwegian comedy that is quirky enough to distract. I’ll laugh, probably, but that’s not what depression is about.  Depressed people laugh. Get over it.

Worrying already about tomorrow. I’m obviously not going to make Manchester and the Labour Left fringe.  Too jumpy.

I need to shower, but a shower makes me very vulnerable. Apart from having no clothes – obviously – I cannot hear adequately what is going on. If the doorbell were to ring or the phone to go, I would be extremely agitated until I knew who or what it was. I seldom shower when I am in the house on my own.  I might make it tonight, I don’t know.  We will see.

 

 


2230 hours.  I am aware it is time to take my meds. They’re strong stuff, but their effect is also psychological. See, I – and a lot of people with mentalillness – feel that having them validates my health problems; they are saying, look, I have strong antipsychotic/antidepressant/antibipolar drugs, I must be ill.  Because it is not only other people who think I and those like me are not really ill – the self-doubt of mental health sufferers is often far worse.  I probably tell myself to ‘pull myself together’ more than anyone else.  

So I am happy to poison my system with the meds for much more reason than the mollification of the mental anguish they give. 

I am nervous now. I cannot see out of the windows, I can only hear what may be going on, which hypervigilance interprets for the worst, always. I need to distance myself from the noises. Music will mask them too much, so I will probably play some game on the computer, or try to concentrate on photo editing or sumsuch.  I could do with a drink, but I ration myself to only once or twice a week for a shot of rum, or whisky.  I have seen what happens if drowning your sorrows is the only way to alleviate them.

There.  A helicopter. It will have its lights on, maybe even a searchlight. I am made worse by helicopters. I know they are not looking at/for me, but again, my brain fails to believe it completely. I’m not delusional. I just don’t believe everything I know. That’s confusing for you, reader, but I know what it means.  I’ll try to find a better way to explain anon.

This may be tonight’s last post, there may be another. I’m unsure. I need a shower. The helicopter has put that at risk now.

If you have been, thank you for reading.

 

*************************************

So it starts again, a trigger goes and my head is now reeling as thoughts and scenarios hurtle through my brain. It is at times like this I believe I shall never be well or at peace again, and might as well not be here.  Triggers cannot be escaped from, they are such that they will always happen, and my response has been the same since I can remember. Blind panic.  

 

*************************************

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8 comments on “Totally Mental : A Week In Carnage Day 1 Monday

  1. This is fascinating. And the thing that strikes me most is how familiar some of it feels to me – A person who is not diagnosed as being mentally ill. Behind my mask I am irrational and scared, but the mask enables me to act/perform like a rational and confident (i.e. “normal”) person. I wonder if the difference between “normality” and mental illness is sometimes just a matter of how we perceive our masks? To me my mask is like a pair of pants – Something I would not walk out of the house without wearing – It makes me comfortable – It enables me to become what I perceive to be the real me. I wonder if for some who have a mental illness their mask feels like a falsehood – It makes them uncomfortable – It hides what they perceive to be the real them?

    I will follow your week with interest.

    • vetican2 says:

      Thank you Graham.
      You are right, of course. The mask is a tool used by many people to make their day to day lives more workable. Not all have a mental illness. The person working, say, in a hospice, would be far less effective without a professional mask.

      I’m glad you find this post fascinating; it makes it worthwhile. It is far more painful a process than I had thought when embarking upon it. Stripping away the usual defences which keep one safe is very unsettling. Even if only a few people read it.

  2. I have only just found your blogs and would really like you to continue with this one. It really has been a help for me to think of how brave you are to talk about your feelings. You are an inspiration to me today. If only I had the courage to put down what goes on in my mind sometimes, I usually just like and not comment, but here you go.Thank you so much, I am so looking forward to reading your other blogs. Believe in yourSelf & You are safe 🙂

    • vetican2 says:

      Thank you very much, Jayne.
      I have written this, not to be brave, but to illuminate, to the few people who may read it, the depth of what goes on behind the mask of someone who is mentally ill.
      At the moment it is painful, but I hope, as the week goes on, it may also become cathartic.
      I was about to write ‘I must be out of my mind’ – but then the irony hit me! But I feel nervous and I feel unsure how pewople will take this part of the blog; and so comments such as yours help to stay those fears.
      So, you do your part in helping me continue. For which I thank you very, very much.
      R x

      • I have read more of your blogs now, and just want to let you know you are one of only two people I have commented on.. As I have abit of a thing about expressing myself, Incase I say the wrong thing and upset someone. As in the past I have found myself sectioned and being given ECT’ I was 18 at the time way back in the early 80’s but those experiences as other experiences do, stay with us a long time. I am grateful for your blog, for which I thank you very much too Please keep them coming Jayne x 🙂

      • vetican2 says:

        Dear Jayne, your comment made me quite emotional – thank you so much for it. Connections with empathy are always a great help, and your connection has certainly helped me today; a day that remains difficult, but made easier by people like you, who support other people. I’m hoping that this week long blog will not only inform, but also help a little to ease the pain of those who can identify with me. Comments like yours keep me writing this, for it’s not a little painful at times. So thank you very very much. R.

  3. Chris Ferris says:

    Roger, I am truely humbled by what you have shared. I have always appreciated your depth and warmth as a person and one of my regrets in life is that I have never met you. I hope to remedy that some day. I am reading your blog and, like Graham, I see myself in much of what you say. I am all too familiar with masks, it goes with the job.

    Go gently

    Chris

    • vetican2 says:

      Chris, thank you – this first day has been a trial, but comments like yours help steady things.
      I have been humbled by you on many occasions; your polite quietness has often steadied both a wavering sanity and a wavering faith.
      I hope this blog may be of help to you, in some small way. I hope your mask is not too painful a necessity.

      I hope you can understand if this blog does not go the way you might like. I may not always be warm.

      I hope to meet you soon. DV, as ever.

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