Monday, 23 May 2011

Stepford Wives v The Young Ones

It's been exactly a week into the lithium treatment now and I'm wondering how much I can sue the NHS for, for giving a psychiatric patient a placebo drug. I jest. I just over estimated how I would be feeling and behaving - I expected to be sleeping and vomiting a lot, and responding only to commands - not at all. There's been a slight reduction in the intrusive/obsessive dark thoughts, mixed episodes and brain racing (now there's a new pitch for the Olympics - a bunch of nutters running round the track bare feet and arms up screaming. First the paralympics and now the psycholympics).

The burning urge to crack open cava and create a cure for cancer at 11am has lessened, sorry Marie Curie, and I can be told my hair looks nice up without bursting into tears or sleeping with them in return. I've noticed that I'm noticing stuff too, like oncoming traffic and other spacial/visual stuff I've never really paid much attention to other than when someone shouts for me to get out of the f*cking way.

I have however let my flat become an utter tip in my slight vagueness and only yesterday did I take the plunge, after a very long conversation with myself, and I felt like a Stepford wife in The Young Ones house.

They increase today. Will post. In the meantime check out some art or something. I recommend Steve McCann, he's got some fab stuff up at Core Arts in East London at he mo.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Cream Cakes and Lithium

The paracetamol plan didn't work. I'm been prescribed Lithium instead.

When I think of Lithium I think of the 1950's, a chemistry lab and a lobotomy kit, so I freaked out, obviously, just a few days ago when Mr Upstairs explained to me that my regular dose of Lamotrigine (lactimal) wasn't working, which I feel partly responsible for as it's taking me five years of being on this to point out to him what psychological side affects these have on me, which I've always thought were the psychological side affects of WHY I take them in the first place.. acute anxieties, deep depression, obsessive intrusive thoughts, distractive (and destructive) mania etc.. whether it's the pixels in my brain or the powder in my pills I don't care anymore, I just want a clean white, fresh start.

So in a couple of days, pending on blood results I start the new treatment. Several things concern me..

1) Blood tests - these are in my top five list of things I hate along with headless bass guitars and mackeral pate, and I need to have blood tests every four days for up to eight weeks.

2) Lithium is commonly linked with weight gain - I've never been overweight which I find hard to believe as my eating habits portray something like a bulimic who skips the throwing up afterwards bit. Yesterday my friend reminded me of a story I told her about my last day at school where cream cakes were laid out on trays in the classroom and I silently ate in the privacy of my own desk, six, without a care in the world, to be interrupted my the chanting "Eat!.. Eat!.. Eat!.." and I turned to see the class circling the two biggest boys in school having a cake eating competition and the winner painfully folded the last of, er, six cakes in his mouth whilst the other doubled over at four and a half. The class stomped and cheered, the winner couldn't move, and I silently shocked myself silly.

3) Lithium can stunt emotions and creativity - now this concerns me the most. If I can't write, think, make sense of, or make my dolls, play the drums, any other activity which involves impulse or improvise I'll feel a) numb and b) someone else has hijacked my body. 

4) Lithium can cause tremors - How the f*ck am I gonna put my make-up on?? Or explain myself to other people; I have a choice of saying that a) You make me nervous, b) I'm withdrawing or c) I'm on Lithium. My doll making requires detailed sewing and I also have a photography exhibition coming up.

I'm going to go on some forums now and find some fellow lithiumees to put my mind at rest. I'll keep you posted.


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Booze, Fags and Self Help

I've started counting booze units again. Partly because I'm bordering on listomania again - approached with caution, it used to be such a "listless" operation that during a hospital admission once I wrote consecutive lists for days without stopping, something I only became aware of when I asked for a copy of my file years later and some poor secretary had to photocopy the lot -  but also because I seem to constantly have a glass of plonk in my hand at the moment. I'm smoking too and smoking a lot, and as a non smoker I don't smoke at all. Obviously. 

I could blame my recent Angie Watts personification on this time of year - it's wedding season, the sun's out, there seem to be more bank holidays than actual days - but I'm spending most of my time indoors, on my own, and for obvious reasons I often get tippexed off the wedding list.

I'm also having to list some of my thoughts, they're neither fun nor glamourous, to take to Mr Upstairs. The poor note book that has to hold all this information (yes, I'm even feeling sorry for stationary now days)  looks like a polluted take on Bridgit Jones' diary. 

But on a positive note (and yes, that happens sometimes too) when you write things down, be it lists, letters, your will, etc.. things a) starts to make sense - I sometimes script format my conversation for therapists beforehand other wise I feel that what I'm trying to say doesn't make sense or is untrue, and b) it lets a little of whatever is bugging you out, and you do feel a bit better, slightly resolved. This is why I write, why I've always written, why I've spent years writing for journals, press, stage,TV, radio.. even toilet graffiti - no one needed to know that it was me who did it with Matthew Spears. 

Ironically I'm not much of a reader. Maybe the odd serial killer biography or self help book. The latter was recently eaten by one of my guinea pigs who has never been as chilled out, smug and vegan since!

The Science of Paracetamol and Pound Shops

I recently got an email from a friend I haven't seen since sixth form, he's been following my blog and took a particular interest in 'Side-Effects of Effectiveness'. He keeps pretty up to date with new science stuff and explained to me that pain-killers have been proved to help with intrusive/ compulsive negative thinking (the stuff that bugs me the most). The upshot of the research is that compulsive thinking actually creates emotional stress/pain in the same part of the brain that tells our bodies that they are experiencing physical pain. Early tests seem to show that paracetamol is the most effective drug in inhibiting receptors in that part of the brain. Thus - paracetamol (or similar drugs) are likely to be part of the formulation of future anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs.
Could this explain why some of us are addicted to painkillers? I myself have been through phases of popping codeine pills at every opportunity, convincing myself I had a stomach ache when I was just a bit hungry, walking into A&E with self diagnosed meningitis when it was just an ignored sell by date, and don't even get me started with my strokes and hangovers. 
So next time I see Mr Upstairs we're  going discuss this. I doubt they actually write prescriptions for paracetamol for such psychiatric illnesses but it's being grown up enough to discuss it as I am notorious for self medicating, self increasing/reducing and self withdrawing. No wonder I often feel as stable as a yoyo from the pound shop!
When I think of that brain receptor stuff (above) I try to think of it like this..