Friday, 3 December 2010

The ones that keep me going..

Just wanting to share one of my favourite comments to date and to raise awareness to his own blog. said..

Hi Kerry
I just wanted to say thank you for your blog.
I've been suffering from depression all my life but in the last decade it has reached the extreme and I now feel quite disabled by it.
I have started my own blog which you might link to on yours if you like.
By comparison with yours my blog is stuffy, dull, abstract and lifeless. Well, maybe that's a description of me! What I love about yours is the fun, humour LIFE in it. You are an amazing writer, very funny, very honest, very insightful. My way of having a support community has been to attend support groups here in Northern Ireland but I think that now have another source of comfort and support: blogs like yours. And just as the best thing about support groups is the amount of laughter we have there - and we do laugh at our situation A LOT! - your insights and wisdom are couched in humour.
Many many thsnks from a sufferer. I will be spreading the word and adding a link to you on my blog. Please keep it up.
David Hughes

Sanity verses Comedy

There are lots of doubts about, and pro's and con's and shall I shan't I's about taking mood stabilizers, especially from those who rely on their highs to get stuff done!! and those who equally rely on their lows to create art, of it's many forms - music, visual, literature... pole dancing, nasa program installation, bible translation... I have met many in Bipolar support groups. Without meds, (or low dose meds) many of us feel that we are at our most creative; the juices don't stop flowing, we get tired but find an energy preserve and just keep going, and producing work we couldn't had we been medicated.

Once upon a time. when I was still funny I was a working on BBC comedy radio show, a six parter, and the show's producer called end of play and asked if I could come up with pretty much an episode's worth of material by the following day (these organised systems are what you pay your TV license for) to which I replied (lied) I'll see what I can do, but just a few hours later I'd have enough material for the whole series, and I woke up the following morning to his email saying something like Hi Kerry, they 're brilliant material, but way too much bad language/bad grammar/bad taste  to which I had no recollection of the content, so checked my sent items and saw the best but too cutting edge work I'd written to date. 

And people who don't understand this condition, like these producers, simply cannot afford to give you a second chance. I lost many commissions going from naught to sixty in a matter of hours.

And it can be boring for others, last night I was at the launch of Rudolf Lindo's exhibition and I interrupted two people who were engrossed in conversation to tell them in speeded up talk my latest (amazing) ideas complete with a slide show on my digital camera and then moved on before they could comment. And left.

But, with the meds, and my usual dose is pretty high, I found myself muted and art wasn't happening, which made me fill empty, unfulfilled, and failing, even at something I could not even start.

I found it hard in my comedy career to keep up  when I took high dose meds, and sadly had to chose between the Sanity and Comedy after I couldn't attend a meeting at Tiger Aspect about a potential sitcom commission because I'd been admitted to a Psychiatric Ward. It was sanity verses comedy and against my will, sanity won.

Pic - The real Lala

Ghost-trains, tippex and Compulsive Quiz Disorder

When I get anxious, which I can very easily, REALLY easy - like being refused entry into Primark at 6.56pm even though I have FOUR FLIPPIN' MINUTES until if officially closes - I bombard people with questions. Random questions. I've woken people up at 5 am to ask if they're scared of ghost trains, how do space camera's stay still in Space, why don't we have tails, can they test me on all the tube map etc..

I remember having similar compulsive quiz anxieties as a child and getting very frustrated at cartoons - Tom just blew Jerry up so how come a second later Jerry just cut Tom in half? Penfolds eyebrows sit above his head, what happens if somebody steals them?

Last night I woke one of the girls at around 5 am to ask if they were awake.  She wasn't too happy, especially since she was snuggled up in plastic box in hay.

Listing is another sign of anxiety, I can write so many lists I then have to write a list of lists. I remember running a part televised comedy workshop for Spanish TV, a bit like X-factor but for comedy actors rather than (comedy) singers. I was so nervous I spent half the workshop taking them through pre-constructed detailed lists of how the workshop was to be facilitated. 

Same as timetables, I've spent up to eights hours designing the perfect timetable, not for anything in particular, other than living. My chronic timetable making has got the better of me in the past though, during my A levels I spent more time designing my revision timetable than actually revising.

For the above reasons I'm afraid I am a bit of a stationary addict and during my teens whilst my friends were shoplifting tights from C&A and fags from handbags, I was stealing rulers and tippex from my local library.

I guess I'm anxious at the moment, a lot has been happening and my medication remains pretty low (for me). I will go into this in the next post, I need to timetable my list of questions...

Pic - record spines. I have four and a half thousand of these to photograph, all alphabetically and chronologically ordered, and then I am going to make wallpaper.

Why I really write this blog

Either friends of mine who are reading my blog - of friends of friends of mine who have been shown my blog - who themselves suffer from Bipolar have sent me some very encouraging emails, thanking me for my honesty, for "adding a little colour", and, as Cheryl said "thank you thank you - now i feel as though I belong to a group of people that live under our duvets rather than just me" with one of those smiley faces which is on the list of things I really have to come to terms with alongside buntin and sponge-cake.

It was actually the encouragement of last years CAT therapist who gave me the idea to write this blog (that's Cognitive Analytical Therapy, not feline) as she knows my outlet is cutting edge humour, at the same time my consultant (who I refer to as Mr Upstairs) was reading my draft novel and encouraging me to write more of the same - it's very similar to this, so I have both the NHS and Bipolar sufferers themselves motivating me and my blog.

But even so, I often wake up in the middle of the night and think "I can't say that!" and delete posts, which I get told off for doing, as the one's I delete are the hard hitting ones that I'm told should stay up there. For example a close friend had a suicide attempt recently which had a huge mental impact on me and for that reason he encouraged me to write about it, as will he in his own (video) blog, so I did, but removed it shortly after. And got told off for doing so.

So I shall continue with extracts of my mind, and other bipolaree's have said I can use extracts of their minds (within reason) but as my own mind is very up and down I'm afraid so will my posts be.

I get my cutting edge humour from my Dad by the way - if anyone is shocked by my jesting they must never meet him!

Keep those emails coming - they give me strength.

Pic - my hand made (action men) toilet roll dolls.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Happy Soddin' Birthday

The weekend just gone I celebrated my fifth birthday - On the 19th November 2005, I was first diagnosed with Bipolar disorder 2. (I went for an in denial second assessment a few months later, and for £270 I was told the exact same thing). I had a birthday party to match the occasion - one guest, one balloon, non-alcoholic lager and a small cake (with three candles, as a woman I like people to think I'm a couple of years younger than I really am) and unenthusiastic paper hats cello-taped to our heads. I couldn't make he rational decision to listen to music or watch Catchphrase as both are equally important to me so instead I danced to Catchphrase. (See Pic)
The party started at 8pm and by 9pm I stopped the party, kicked out my guest and went to bed.
I simply can't wait for my tenth.

I'm starting to think Keith is haunting my blog, hence the apparition in the pic.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Neat gin, pet smells and cruise ships

I have a completely new understanding of single people now. It's late afternoon, on a Sunday, and I have no one to play with. The only person I've had any contact with today is Nail, who I parted with a couple of months ago and who has since moved to a caravan in a field hundreds of miles away (God am I that bad?) to - amongst other things -  have some space from one another. We've spoken four times already this morning. And skyped. The space is going well isn't it? To be honest were made for each other, but that can also have a negative effect. Two people with enough baggage to sink a cruise ship round the Med full of Thomas Cook blouses and scratch card winners who have already been to Benedorm and The Canary Island that year, can ultimately weigh each other right down. Mr Upstairs once asked me if we wanted to be referred to couple counseling aimed at couples who both suffer some form of mental health but I had to decline, I was in fact too embarrassed, we'd only been together for nineteen days. A friend who works for a publishing house recently asked if I'd be up for pitching a book about couples with mental health in relationships, but I feel like I need a happy ending first, or the book would end on a low "It's all over, there's nothing you can do about it, see ya"

So here I am, feeling like a bit like a Council version Carrie Bradshaw - drinking neat gin and smelling of guinea pigs. 

I'm one of these people who's hardly single. I'm not quite sure how it happens, I go outside single to put the bins out and come back in a relationship. I'm not one of these people who overlap, or as one of my favourite quotes as said by Julie Burchill "Put the hot water on before you get out of the bath" .  So I've never really understood what it really - as it not the Disney version - feels like to be at home, by self, once again, going through the phone to see which (girl) friend is a) single, b) within a five mile radius and c) hasn't deleted my number.

I'm off for a wander down Brick Lane. I think the large crowds, ironica dress sense, and over priced decaffeinated soya builders teas is just what I need to cure my Sunday loneliness. 55% on today, lets see how that compares to when I come back.

pics - my phone and one of the keyboards upstairs (in the room I shouldn't really be going in)


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Organised Chaos - When two friends with Bipolar get together

It's a week since I started my blog and I've had nearly 400 hits so I'm feeling good today. I've had many emails saying they're enjoying it - a particular one from the man behind moodscope this morning - it seems that many of us were taping the top forty on the brink of OCD back in the 80's.

I'm also feeling good today because I was expecting to have a hang-over, not because I drank my body weight in red - heavy, spicy, velvety, marry me - wine, I didn't drink anything at all, but my friend Becky came over, and between us and our medication we are Bipolar-bear and Tamaza-Panda and it was very unusual for us not to feed of each others symptoms and lose a whole evening (and the following few days) to medicinal liquor. It's a blessing hanging out  with other Bipolars - MDF groups are good (These are Manic Depression Foundation support groups, not a wood appreciation society, and by that I mean stuff wardrobes are made of, not porn) especially the last one I went to where someone was asked to take some time out because he was on a bit of a high and wouldn't let anyone else speak - only because for some people in the room this is the only time they do  speak, but friends with bipolar, although lovely, can be a dangerous thing, a bit like a couple of speeding cars that eventually lose control of the breaks and crash into each other. Becky and I did well!

In a treatment centre once I traced my first erratic drinking behaviour back to aged twelve, where I put on my mums wedding dress, poured some Thunderbird into my Paddington bear flask and went to local rec, and threw up in the sand pit. Someone called my mum but she was at the time agoraphobic and couldn't come and get me so I stumbled home, a twelve year old in an oversized wedding dress, drunk. A few years later I went back to that same bottle of Thunderbird (my parents do not drink, both of them lost parents/siblings to alcoholism) and poured myself a mug (I was a teenager, drinking booze out of mugs was the done thing, as well as smoking menthols thinking your parents won't notice it) except what I failed to remember from nicking it the first time was that I'd filled the rest of the bottle up with water. Where was that sand-pit when I needed it that time?


Pic - Nail's Synthesizer Wendy

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Kerry does Kernow

I have fled the busy streets and accidental killings of the East End of London for the calm serenity of the Cornish countryside. Basically I am in a 1950's static caravan in a place called Constantine with pubs - 0, shops - 0, Shoreditch twats - 0, you can't even get a phone signal to call 999 and even if you did they wouldn't get to you until the following day because they're in their depth of water colour paints and nettle jam straining.  I came here on bonfire night - the scariest night in East London because you can't tell the sound of fireworks from the shootings. I have come to stay with Nail, who fled our nest a month ago to come for solitary shelter to work through his long standing depression and alcoholism without the distraction and expectations of the capital (The nearest off alcohol tender is a post office, a half hour up hill walk through some woods which closes at 5pm). It was at the time we seperated from a beautiful but very thorny relationship of almost three years that I was asked to write a feature The Effect of Alcohol On Relationships for Speak Out magazine, which I will upload once it's been released (or I'm in the shit). 

I can feel the difference in my mood already - I have slowed down. This didn't happen straight away, oh no, I spent the first day (and night) pacing up and down the six square foot lounge area asking Nail repetitive, non matterable (as in, they really don't matter to anyone else, except me) questions -"What time do we go to bed..  Why don't you put everything on this side of the room on that side of the room.. What do I do if I see a ghost.. What time to the sheep outside go to bed.. etc..) and he glazes over like he trained himself to do a long time ago, probably when I woke him up in the middle of the night, on our first ever night, to ask if he was scared of fairground rides and which ones and why and, and.. But here in the countryside I eventually slowed down. And those sheep go to sleep as soon as the sun does. And they are fucking awesome - I went to introduce myself on the first night and they just looked at me, as if to say "It doesn't matter who you are" and I thought "Wow, here's a group of living beings that do not judge me". I told them that I was going to be staying in that  caravan and if they needed anything they should ask. They didn't tell me to sod off and mind my own business. I told them about something I did once that I've never tell another human being and again, they didn't turn away, not even a look of disgust. I even told them a really shit gag from my stand up days. Still they looked up at me, waiting for something else. 

I have decided I want to be a farmer. I have also decided (and this is what I earlier referred to as Multiple Personnel Disorder) that I also want to be a caravan dealer. I know I'm in deferment of my postgrad in Psychology due to, ironically, psychological reasons, but I really do think I'll make a shit hot Don Ammott - and a farmer - alongside my cross dressing Action Man design business - and of course my on-off journalism. Here I am, 35 and still don't know what to do when I grow up. How I envy these people who work 9-5 in HR who do the same thing at the same time with the same people everyday, and don't feel the need to aspire to anything else other than quiz on Tuesdays, late night shopping on Thursdays, mums on Fridays, and his mums on Sundays. 

Meet Hayley the sheep, above.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Moodometer goes up!

Moodscope calculated me at 80% today! 

It's amazing what a a stint of obsessive cleaning (yes, I even polished the bog brush again), ruthless internet shopping and a strip of co-codamol can do (though don't try that at home, I have a genuine foot injury - I sprained it recently - but I have no recollection how. Neither do I have any recollection of the weekly shop I opened the fridge to the following morning. I guess there are some advantages to being on a high, just wish the come down wasn't so f***ing horrific! I made Mr Upstairs (my Psychiatrist) promise me that when they invent a bipolar pill that retains the highs and abolishes the lows he's gonna be the first to get his prescription pad out). Yay!

Tape The Top Forty

4,500 records in my flat and I tend to listen to the same three over and over again! I think I'm reverting back to when I was about nine and had, only three cassettes and I'd wear the batteries down on my walkman out by rewinding the same song over and over again. As I recall I had The Muppets Album (every household should have a copy, even if Hugga Wugga did have strong undertones of a Porno soundtrack), BBC Theme Tunes and Mike Reeds Top Forty. I think there was a Mini-pops Album floating around somewhere but having pictures of four year old girls caked in make up sporting bikini's on the cover I think my mum banned me playing it. The good thing about the Top Forty is that you were your own DJ - you taped the Sunday charts. The thing that p***ed off thousands of kids all over the country however is that Mike Reed didn't shut up, and you had to hold your finger ready on the pause button (usually simultaneously with the record button) and press down the millisecond he started to talk towards (but never at) the end of the song, and then repeat the drill in reverse when the next song comes on. This method wasn't good for an anxious child with OCD tendencies and often resulted in the tape reel wrapped around my Girls World head (Another toy my mum should have avoided getting me to keep up with the other mums - to every other little girl they provided hours of hair and make up fun, to me it was a head missing a body and I thought Santa was out to get me). To avoid the whole Top Forty tantrums I should've just waited for the next Now Album to come out. 

Ironically, following Mike Reeds recent bankruptcy, I'm buying his old 7inch chart hits off him in bulk  from whom I call 78 Man  at Broadway market in East London on Saturday mornings. He has a good 78rpm collection as well thousands of random albums to sieve through.

But I'm currently just listening OMD Architecture, Pixies Bossinova and Now, The Christmas Album. I know it's only November, but then some people start drinking at lunchtime.

The photo is of a latex print of vinyl. Another pointless but satisfying hobby.


I wanted to write my first entry in a good mood but I woke up this morning literally swearing at the world, and since the door and curtains were closed the words just bounced back at me, therefore it was me that should go **** myself on this beautiful morning. 

I've recently subscribed to this website 
It's a daily mood recorder. Everyday you get a list of questions and it translates your answers into a score and records it on a graph so you can monitor your moods. Every morning you get an email reminder, and it's free! You get feedback and advice though it's automated feedback and reminds me a bit of Shazam - when you dial 2580 and hold your phone up to the speaker and it detects the song. When this first came out I thought there were music nerds were at the end of the phone and so I sang a song into it. Of course it didn't detect it. Todays score was 18%. I swigged this mornings medication with last nights wine and went back to bed.

On a happier note! I'm glad that I'm able to detect my mood, sometimes I have no idea where I am on the moodometer levels. My Psychiatrist told me I suffer mixed states which I'm interpreting at being high and low at the same time - it's both confusing and exhausting. My lows often surface in many other ways - my face for example - if I'm low I paint my face with enough make-up to become an Avon representative. I don't acknowledge this and it takes other people to (once including my boss who told me to tone it down - I worked in an all male psychiatric prison at the time). I also drink more or double my meds or both, however, on an up day I also tend to drink more or double my meds or both, so unless I'm pretty stable I tend to be out of it a lot of the time. I'm writing an article Dual diagnosis and self medicating for a magazine which I'll upload when it's finished. I also have to wait for other people to tell me what mood I'm in, which is embarrassing, it feels as though someone is having to spell my own name for me or something. So! At least I had that conversation with myself this morning, it's a bit like playing playing Guess what I'm thinking with myself, a nice break from playing naughts and crosses with myself I suppose.

On the subject of games I'm going to leave it there, I'm completely obsessed with Catchphrase at the moment and it's about to start, and I wish Roy Walker would wait for me at the school gates and tell me he is my father, a fantasy I started aged six when I wanted Debbie Harry to do the same thing. But then if I was coming out of infant school aged thirty five I think I'd have another problem!