Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Seven Of Diamonds

I've recently discovered that playing Snap with yourself just doesn't work. 

This year the majority of my friends have left London for good to play grown ups - move to the country, raise kids etc - and I'm finally starting to feel that blanket of isolation. When my mobile used to ring I'd ignore it - my handbag being at least a foot away - now I have it taped to my ear and wait for it to ring. I refuse to skype, I will not put my make up on just to have a conversation.

One of my new years resolutions will be to spend more time with other people, even if they irritate me, be in a philanthropic or misanthropic day.

Other new years resolutions include..

Lots of CBT, big fan of.
Laugh more, even if I have to hold a gun to my own head
Don't pretend to forget to take lithium
Drink less
Read more
Delete all online shopping accounts
Listen to more music, does not include playing the same song on repeat for hours on end
No more guinea pigs, people already need a ticket to come round the flat

There's already loads of what I call "CBT typos" in that list which are gun, don't, delete, no.
Right, back to the card deck. Unfortunately the only pack available in the rather dodgy tobacconist in the Canary Islands where I purchased them was a pornographic deck. Every time I flip the seven of diamonds I get a bit excited.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Mummy, why is that lady talking to herself?

I also recently joined the writing team at  the glossy magazine "N16". Here I write about the common misconceptions of mental health.

To read it on the mags website click.. (p45)

Lack of Routine, Too Much Creativity, a Mental Health Condition... You're in Butlins

Today I drank coffee from a mug that say's "Tea" on it and I didn't even freak out!

I'd say that is pretty sweet progress considering I've been sleep deprived and over stimulated lately. 

I've been busy advocating on behalf of Mental Health as usual, and this week I was part of a live panel interview on Resonance FM. 

Artist Gary Molloy, Musician Mark Roberts and some writer called Kerry Hudson (that'll be me then) discussed the therapeutic benefits of creativity. Gary hasn't been in hospital, where he was in and out of for years, since he picked up a paint brush nearly fifteen years ago, and he in on minimum medication. I've spoken with countless artists (as in the art form, these are mainly musicians) whilst writing about the subject who say that medication slows them down - their creative drive, their idea formatting process, their motor skills.. - which in turn makes them more frustrated, more depressed, and further from recovery. 

I guess I'm one of the lucky ones who has a supportive shrink - he knows that if I can't go from idea to production I'll get cranky. Really cranky, I'd NEVER be able to drink coffee out of a tea mug, life would be a list of lists, timetables and IF THEY WEREN'T NEAT ENOUGH... I currently take five lots of little white ones daily, from lithium to diazapam and I rarely keep up with all my publications and I torment myself by thinking if I came off them all, I'll have multiple books written, multiple screen plays even, multiple everything. But I'd probably be writing them all from Butlins Ward (a psych ward) having bought every pet from every pet shop in London and talked so much so fast I put Energy companies out of business.

Speaking of psych wards, the show's presenter  Yodet Gherez asked our experiences about institutions and if they changed and the first time I was in one (aged sixteen) it really did feel like a holiday camp, there were numerous activities, daily. There were also extra curricular activities I got in trouble for too, like setting up a secret aerobics class for the eating disorder patients, and running a walking club in the basement, and this was Addenbrooks in Cambridge, one of Europe's largest hospitals and basement corridors went on for miles, and you could get, and we did get lost. It had a fully kitted out music room, complete with piano and drum kit for music therapy. My last trip to a ward, a couple of years ago, music therapy consisted of a tatty boom box and a pile of RnB CD singles, and we take turns playing them. No offense to RnB but I'd rather play Rene and Renate on repeat for the whole of my stay.

Back to the creative process. I sometimes wish that I didn't have a brain that has a hundred thoughts, suggestions, ideas,and at times beliefs per second or so it seems, my flat is often covered in notes, papers, lists, post-it's, drafts, fabric cuts, storyboards, pins, "to do's", latex.. and I sometimes have my laptop and sewing machine whirring simultaneously because I'm running with a new textile art idea as well as an article. 

I used to work for an architect and his PA would make me very jealous when she talked about her life, she knew exactly what she was doing from one day, one hour to the next. Monday evenings she and her husband would go to her mums, his mums on a Sunday. Tuesday gym, Wednesday ironing, Thursday late night shopping at Lakeside, Friday dinner with their friends and Saturday they laid in till 10am then did DIY. And when she left work every day, she didn't take anything home, she switched off. You can't switch off when you're creative, or you can but I haven't worked it out yet. Wine helps but it's also loopy juice on top of most psyche meds. 

Routine can be difficult for people with mental health, no day is the same, it's ruled by our moods, thoughts, beliefs, behaviour, energy etc.. I may have "10am appointment" in my diary but even if I'm up by 7am on a rare occasion I've slept, it's likely that by 3pm I still haven't made it in the shower and have no idea what I've been doing. I once started writing it down, every hour, on the hour, and I came up with "writing down what I'm doing" which completely fed my OCD!!

I haven't met many people with mental health problems who aren't in some way or other creative, we naturally question everything, perhaps to obsessiveness sometimes, and spiral off in different directions looking for alternative conclusions, very much like the artists' mind. It would be good if we could switch off occasionally, lithium does so much but I'd love to switch off at 5.30pm and go late night shopping with the rest of Essex!

Should you want to hear the interview you can access it here..

I'm sorry in advance if I offend any Loose Women fans.

You can read more about creativity and mental health in my article on the subject here..

Should you want to read this blog in the Huffington Post you can click here...

Monday, 15 October 2012

Healthy Hobbies

I recently became a regular writer for Mental Healthy (formerly Uncovered) magazine. 

At the same time I'm having a combination of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and CAT (cognitive analytical therapy) where we're focusing on the need for but also the destructiveness of "quick fixes". For some people this is erratic spending, for others opiate using, for me it's pretty much all of them. Sometimes I think people like me with mania were built with an extra impulse button that just doesn't switch off. Many manic depressives confuse this with addiction, thinking that if we cut out booze and other substances we'll be OK. Although to some extent that helps, unfortunately the mood disorder remains. I actually got diagnosed nearly a year into giving up booze and I was still kind of drunk, and high and a f*cking kite. If you slow that compulsive drive right down, you get the ability to make a better decision, or a healthier choice. 

With that in mind I wrote an article about healthy hobbies, funnily enough, it's called Healthy Hobbies and it's here.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Excuse me?

Sometimes it's the little things. Unfortunately I don't have a two week Caribbean cruise to look forward to at the end of the month. (I am a liability around water especially with a glass of anything in my hand) but I do have Homelands to look forward to on the box every Sunday night. I'm usually the one that misses out on what everyone's watching, I missed a whole series of Downtown Abbey which meant I couldn't join in a conversation in an office or pub for eight weeks and Footballers Wives I was discovered so late I had to cram in five series' into a long weekend, by the end of it I found myself wandering round Lidl in my funeral/pulling dress, six inch heels and cramp.

So, Homelands, I'm in the loop. US drama about terrorism, yes it's miles apart from my usual Confessions Of A Pet Hoarder or Embarrassing Bodies but now I'm socially accepted. The main character is also called Carrie, and like myself suffers from Bipolar, and is also on lithium. She plays the part well. This IS going somewhere.

In the meantime, a friend of mine comes over on a Monday morning to help me plan my week. She's not my PA, or CPN (community practice nurse) but somewhere in between, and she has dull taste in biscuits so she's cost effective.
She helps me fill my diary otherwise I'm stuck with things like Wednesday, re-write the bible as a musical, Wednesday PM cure hepatitis. It's the change of season and I've noticed some of my bipolar colleagues have been getting manic, myself included, and left unsupervised my diary starts to look like listed coding.

I taped Sundays' Homelands so my diary friend and I could watch it together on Monday over tea and crap biscuits. As we watch it, my poor friend not only has me, receptively asking her questions (I didn't see the first series) but on the screen another Carrie with bipolar is receptively asking questions (she works for the CIA).

From stuff I've read by other bipolar bears, Carrie Fisher included (another Carrie), we do tend to ask a lot of questions, often at inappropriate times. I once woke a boyfriend up at 4am to ask if he liked ghost trains. Another time at 5.30am with brushes and paint because I wanted to learn to paint NOW. A dear friend of mine's husband left her and my sympathy was much needed but all I was coming out with was the need to know the dimensions of the place he had moved into and the distance to and from his job.

Excitement, rush, impulse, anxiety, mania, inquisitive, instability... no idea why we do it. We just do.

I'm starting to think it would be easier for everyone else if I just booked that bloody Caribbean cruise after all...