Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Jelly Babies and eBay

Pregnancy aside, mentality aside, I'm unfortunately caught up in the part paranoid part reality 'What must people think of me' culture that still exists, decades after our grandmas twitched net curtains and aunties gossiped over garden fences. It still happens. We're not the doorstep gossip bunch we were during the war but chardonnay and facebook still hosts the best chin wagging.

Being bipolar I expected.. 'I don't think you can handle it' and 'It's not the right time' (Hello, wrong end of my thirties) and 'But what if you have a bad day?' and I did get all of the above. These reactions were, however, on delivery of the information I gave, that “I’m pregnant”. But when put.. "I’m having a baby" I got, even from the same people, 'You'll make a great mum!' and 'It's perfect timing' and 'How exciting!'.

And then come the questions, the SAME questions, for the next seven months to come, for which I reply, more animated (it makes up for enthusiasm) each time.. "Due 11th June, we find out at our twenty week scan, and no it's not yours"

The support is overwhelming (good overwhelming, not go into hiding overwhelming), old friends come back, flowers come from from proper florists, families rebond.. I'm starting to wish I'd popped babies out sooner, except that gyno's branded me infertile in my twenties obviously, a somewhat dark yet appropriate 'Should've Gone To Specsavers' commercial.

To answer the question people probably don't want to ask me, yes there is a chance the child could develop bipolar in later life, not a strong one, but it's out there. There's also a chance of lots of other stuff.. pregnancy like any condition has risks, they just have to be minimised by lifestyle changes and attending appointments.

Another question and people do ask me this one is if I can still take me meds. I can but I don't. Can being that I'd need to change to safer types ie from lamotrigine to olanzipine (the mood stabilisers), and from venlifaxin to sertreline (the anti-depressants/anxieties) but I've been on both before which is why I switched over to begin with. Olanzipine is like (I imagine) smack but without the fun bits, and sertreline made me a bit too lively. Obviously, different meds affect different people, the above have kept fellow 'geniuses' out of trouble for decades. My propanonol (beta blockers) and zopiclone (sleepers) are a no go area. Instead I just have to panic and not sleep.

Can I stay well without the meds? Ironically I feel more stable without my mood stabilisers than I ever have, but then I have a healthy lifestyle and routine forced upon me. Maybe thats the cure for mood disorders? Get up the duff? Yes I've had a few mood swings, namely in the first trimester where the rest of the pregnant world do as well, but only around people who push my buttons. I've had to ask for a bit of space, a bit of sensitivity, a bit short of a hundred times, but falling on deaf ears I have spat my dummy out a few times. I think thats called being normal, not 'having an episode'.

But the biggest problem for me personally, which contradicts the prediction of my ever growing team of doctors - consultant obstetricians, counsellors, CPN's midwives, specialist MH midwives and peri-natal doctors, seriously, between them there are more initials after their names than the alphabet - is depression, rather than mania or psychosis. Stuff I used to enjoy I don't. Stuff I used to run home to, I don't even leave the house in the first place. I cannot get excited about anything, and I'm a naturally very excitable person. People that suggest going for walks.. it's December, cold and wet and dark, and Homerton doesn't have the same qualities of say Downton. People that suggest reading a book need to check out my bookshelf first.. I have a mild obsession with criminal psychology and personality disorders. But, a bit of perspective goes a long way.. yesterday I was sitting on the sofa in front of the telly, eBay on my lap and sinking Jelly Babies, thinking to myself  'God, all I can do in the absence of merlot and high disco kicks is shopping and eating, poor me' yet on the telly was a documentary about the Jews in Nazi occupancy.

Onwards and upwards.. and here’s to a nearly happy and very healthy 2014!

Mail On Sunday article November 2014

Have your tippex handy because I didn't write the headlines..


.. and for the full unedited article..

When I first read about the case of Alessandra Pacchieri I was shocked, we all were, and it naturally threw up some questions about my own situation.

Like Alessandra I suffer from bipolar affective disorder. I’m also pregnant with my first child. I too made the decision to come off medication, to prevent any harm to the development of my unborn child.
Although coming off medication (a cocktail curbing mood swings, depression, anxiety and insomnia) I am under the supervision of the CMHT (community mental health team) who continue to monitor me without meds. I have been strongly advised to take a short term course of antipsychotics on delivery, possibly in a mother and baby unit, as there is an apparent high risk in women with bipolar who suffer post-natal psychosis due to the huge drop in hormones. Another medical professional however told me the risk of this happening is in fact low. Conflicting professional advice does make me feel a little like a player in a game of "What If?".

The decision to become a mother wasn't an easy one, I was always aware of the risks involved; bipolar can be hereditary, certain medications including one I was on can have cardiac effects on the baby, and how would the child feel about his or her mother having a serious mental illness etc.. but I never thought I'd need to address these because I was told by gynaecologists in my mid twenties that I had fertility issues as a result of PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). I also have fibroids which can affect a healthy pregnancy, and, I'm in my late thirties, so when I was hit with the shocking news of pregnancy, I didn't think it would last and prepared myself to be one of the unfortunately high statistics that miscarry. Just as I entered my second trimester, the 'safe' stage thereon, the case of Alessandra Pacchieri flooded the press, obviously triggering my own fears and “What if’s?”

Under the umbrella which is the CMHT, I see a perinatal doctor (a specialist psychiatrist who supports expectant mothers during, and for up to twelve months after birth). A standard referral was made by my regular consultant psychiatrist. This is separate to a mental health midwife who plays more of a medical role in the pregnancy. I also have a CPN (community practice nurse) who supports more practical needs. I am not sure if Alessandra had an extensive team allocated to her here in England, the ambiguity she describes says she perhaps didn’t.

Doctors assess me monthly and so far feel I'm doing OK without the meds. Funnily enough, bar a few mood swings in the first trimester that most pregnant women experience, I have felt more stable without the mood stabilisers, but I have had a healthy lifestyle forced upon me. I've developed a healthy routine; I'm constantly hungry and so I'm eating three times a day (at least!) I never used to eat breakfast, often going into mid afternoon before my first meal of the day, and I'm eating super healthy foods and drinking under 2 alcohol units a week, if at all. Getting knackered easily I go to bed earlier and get up earlier, absorbing more daylight. I'm taking recommended taking pregnancy supplements, saving money, working harder, making plans, having a focus.. of course hormones could also play a part, even though we often associate them with mood swings.

However, my team have explained to me that despite all this they have a duty of care to make a referral to child services around the time of birth. Initially I was concerned, would they deem me unfit to be a mother? But I like many were confusing child services with child protection, a different service altogether. Child services offers initial support if, and only if needed. The timing of learning about the referral came at the same time of the hype around the Alessandra case. At 32 weeks pregnant I am expecting a big meeting, a room withed with my CMHT team, social services, my family, partner and baby father, I will feel like I'm under a spotlight being judged, a little like X-Factor,  and I understand that decisions will be made for me, but I reassuringly will be present and involved, I will also give my own opinions and suggestions.

Going back to Alessandra's case, although I do understand that if she wasn't mentally stable enough to understand the harm a natural delivery would incur (a uterine rupture is life threatening to both mother and baby) hence the decision was made on her behalf for an involuntary cesarean, I don't yet understand why the child hasn't been returned to a now mentally stable, compliant and well woman.

Temporary care or adoption?
Various press have reported that Alessandra's previous children were taken into care due to neglect brought on by her own temporary mental instability, but what I think is important to highlight is that the children were (and still) permitted to reside with their maternal grandmother and therefore engage in regular contact with their mother, yet her current child is up for adoption. In adoption cases, legally the children are not returned to their natural parents or pursue contact, unless the child decides to do so as an adult. According to national statistics - Children looked after in England (including adoption and care
leavers) year ending 31 March 2013 only 5% of children ‘looked after’ are adopted, others go into foster care, residential care or with families. So what are the guidelines/assessment criteria that determine whether a child placed in care is temporarily placed, or adopted? In other words, what are the chances of Alessandra or any other woman whose child has been removed under circumstances of temporarily instability getting their child back? *Still awaiting guidelines from family lawyer*

Asking for help
One of my concerns is that many mothers or mothers to be with mental health issues who have been following Alexandra’s case will decide to keep quiet about their concerns about any deteriorating mental health they may be experiencing. During a horrific panic attack, Alessandra contacted the emergency services herself, as I myself did during my first trimester when breathing problems got out of control. Fortunately normal breathing resumed and I wasn’t admitted. Prior to this, two of Alessandra three psychiatric admissions were also voluntary. It would distress me to think that having seen the outcome of Alessandra's ordeal a pregnant woman would rather suffer in silence because she now feels that asking for help could result in having her child taken away. I have always been very vocal with my team, when I have recognised my own symptoms, I've made immediate contact with them, engaged with medication and like also voluntarily admitted myself to hospital. I would like to think that these services would recognise this not as weakness, or uncapping, but looking after myself and making positive decisions in regard to my own well being, thus the wellbeing of my child. I wouldn’t discourage this from anyone.

Also I feel that in her defence a few recent articles have pointed out that Alessandra's three children have different fathers: (the first two are American; the father of the baby who was born in England is Senegalese) and I find these facts irrelevant, as she is not under trial for having different partners, and having three or more partners in a lifetime does not indicate a mental health issue.

As a pregnant woman with bipolar myself, if i could take Alessandra to a quiet corner and whisper some advice, I would strongly suggest she sticks to the meds that are currently keeping her well. A trap I have seen many people with this condition fall into, myself included, is that when we feel well we often feel 'cured' and question whether we need to be on meds anymore. Leave the curiosity there. Another thing about this condition is, like with other mental health conditions, 'episodes' as we call them are only temporary with often many months, years or even decades of wellness in-between. Unfortunately for us, we only tend to come into the spotlight, be that in the the press or to the attention of the authorities during the occasions when we are unwell. The focus and decisions that are make for us are based on these. People more often than not, cannot tell if someone has bipolar, be it a friend, neighbour or colleague, because post episodes we too can lead ‘normal’ healthy and successful lives. We do not choose these episodes and like anyone else deserve to be given second chances.  

Pregnancy and the twelve week rule

I'm pregnant! Or am I?

The general rule is that you don't tell people you're preggars until you’re twelve weeks or more. Reasons being? You've just had your twelve week scan and there is actually a baby in there and not just wind build up or excess pies, and the 'risky' bit is now over; baby is nicely attached, breathing, doing the Hokey Cokey etc..

I asked a few preggars women if they followed the twelve week rule, some said of course, imagine every parent to be’s nightmare coming true and having to tell people you've lost your baby after personalised mugs and humorous bibs have been made. Others said they did tell people (selected people) straight away because if they had (and some did) misscarry they’d want the support rather than churning along as though nothings happened, running off to the loo's at work for secret sobs, not being able to explain why the extra work load from obviously unsympathetic boss can't be done.

I tried my hardest to keep quiet.. Of course I wanted people to know - I'd been branded the childless mad pet woman in her mid/late thirties whose never met the right man or been pregnant,  who was diagnosed infertile in her twenties, and spent the last twenty years on prescription cocktails of psych drugs - I wanted "I'm pregnant" tattooed across my face, I wanted to shove a jumper up my top, carefully so the arms didn't pop out, I wanted to ask people to ask me why I wasn't drinking, smoking, break dancing and jumping out of aeroplanes.. but I confined myself to people on busses and waiters in restaurants, because I knew I was safe with complete strangers!? "I couldn't sit down could I, pregnancy gives me swollen ankles.. Is the cream pasteurised, it's on my foods to avoid whilst pregnant list". It was like having a conversational affair. It was my release.

Of course when the time came, the twelve week rules’ sell by date has run out, I couldn't do it. Deflated? Dunno. I remember slipping it into passing conversations like.. "Me? Oh I'm just flicking through the Argos catalogue and watching Family Fortunes, oh and having a baby".

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

So It's OK For Us To Cry In Public Now?

Yep. So get out your tissues, top up your mascara, and sob your heart out, because we are now a nation of emotional wrecks, but proud? 

I grew up in a high oestrogen family home where we had tears on tap. Afternoon weepies, sibling strops, money worries.. we didn't have a family car and spent most weekends either cycling into the wind in our matching family coats on matching matching bikes (you've seen a family of ducks swimming in a line right?), or boxed indoors, finding solace on the doorstep, the top of the stairs or between four TV channels. Why so many tears? Too many theories; mercury fillings, lack of stimulation, processed food, our house being built on chemical disposal grounds... but our tears were confined between four walls. Occassionally in the outside world a kid would fall over and bawl their eyes out, or a girl would get dumped and weep through Silk Cut smoke rings in a school toilet cubical, but the general population would rather be seen bursting into the dance sequence from Flashdance in public, than that of tears.

More recently, every time I turn on the TV, (real) people are breaking down. Dreams of pop stardom are being painfully ripped away from grown men and women as we watch them break down in the public eye, if thats not enough we have to watch their families do the same back stage. All of them emotionally exposed, live, close up, slow motion.. the more they suffer the slower and closer we're allowed in. Beautiful girls swapping their innocent lives for the vicious reality world of modelling, rejected in front of the camera. Dancers, magicians, artists.. even ordinary people doing ordinary stuff - Big Brother being a personality contest, and we did away with Miss World because..? - having their hearts yanked out in front of the whole world, losing all they ever wanted, dreamt and momentarily had. We are even watching people on television in tatters because they themselves are watching people on television in tatters! The next series of Gogglebox should be people watching the people watching the people. 

One of my biggest fears is bursting into tears in public - it does happen - because I am one of these people that once I starting I simply cannot stop. Of course I can allow myself Surprise Surprise, people that can't cry to this have no soul, but I'm still running hours later through new and amazing Dyson vacuum cleaner commercials and trailers for documentaries on new waste disposal plans. So, very much like the awkward school disco social system 'I'll start dancing once someone else does first', I'll wait till others bang their forehead against a 'closed for lunch' sign on the laundrette door sobbing 'but why?' or fall onto all fours outside the tube station hearing the news of another part suspension, until I go with them. For now.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Monday, 7 October 2013

Haunted dentures, dodgy perms and my naked interview

Its been a while since I've posted.. have been up and down more times than the Grand old Duke of Yorks' ten thousand men. And distracted by boys. And board games. And Take A Break and Chat! magazines (always good to know that other people are suffering more than me, see pic's ffs) and I have recently learn't that Eastenders is in fact not actually a reality show - although I really do need to stop stalking Teat A Break/Chat! victims on Facebook.

Had a live interview with LBC on the breakfast show this morning - in the nod, half smug as.. half paranoid Nick Ferrari and his 1.2 million listeners knew - as MIND have just launched a campaign to create a better justice system for crime victims with mental health (we are 3x more likely to be a victim of.. 10x for a woman). I think I'm one of the very few that have had positive experiences with the Police in my hour of need, but then I'm banned from uniformdating.com so it's only fair.

MIND asked me to blog all about it. Here's some dark bedtime reading for y'all.. http://www.mind.org.uk/blog/9747_who_would_believe_me

I better go.. there is a boy in my bed.. 


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Ovulating in Whetherspoons

My second best friend (Yes, I’ve OD’d on Mr Freezes again) is a manic depressive two. Unlike me she’s gets more down than up. When together, our behaviour can swing both ways. When we’re both up, it’s pubs rather than coffee shops, we’re more likely to play knock door bunk on the latter, which wouldn’t work anyway as the doors are already open. I diverse. Drinking in swanky barsup west, or if one of us is ovulating then Whetherspoons, and surrounding tables seem to get further and further away.

The more ideas, goals and business plans we create, the louder we get, the higher our voices, sped up, interupting each other to the point we’re not even listening to each other anymore, we shake with excitement and fake fizz is flying everywhere. We once came up with a vision for a cabaret act and booked a six week run at a small London Theatre, two days before the ’grand opening’ we realised we hadn’t written it (we had an hour per show), rehearsed it, found costumes or music or anything, panicked and cancelled.

When just one of us is up, hmm.. by that I mean past the ‘fun stuff’ - the highs (feels like free exstasy and lasts even longer, but unfortunately so does the comedown) - past the mania - insomnia has increased, delusions kick in, start checking the house for hidden camera crews, opening bank statements feels like being sent down and people are ‘critisizing’ erratic behaviours and women are locking their husbands up - into psychosis. I can’t even describe that because I’m not present at the time. We have had to make the difficult decision riddled with guilt to admit the other into Butlins (my name for the ward. When they built a new ward at the Homerton East Wing they refused my suggestion of naming it ‘Butlins Ward’). Then.. when the section is over and we’re allowed to breath fresh air again, the other picks us up and lakes us to the pub for jagerbombs. Last time this happened I completely forgot I was at Butlins and forgot to go back. Police were out looking for me and called my next of kin about 20 times until he picked up. My next of kin was an old boyfriend - and it had ended badly - because I hadn’t changed my hospital details.

There is a plus side to this, when we finally did get a show together, we did an Edinburgh Fringe run, and shared a room in a flat. We created a cleaning rota based on our moods. Unfortunately, When Sheena was up she became very untidy, and when she was down she couldn’t be bothered to clear up. I gave myself stickers on teh rota in the hope she would see it as a reward system. She roached it.

When we’re both down we usually stay in our respected houses, which are the polar opposite (see what I did there) of London. Facing people on the tube is not an option, and the escalators are too long, and any eye contact along the way is like having a compass shoved in your eye. Life is safer under a duvet, but unfortunately changing a duvet requires the energy of Torville and Dean training for a, er, really long skating thing.

We do call eachother during this time the other one doesn’t pick up.

So what do we do? I’ve no idea!I guess the best option all round is creating seventeen business which we run from our stomaches, whilst doing the Aggadoo non-stop for fifty minutes in Whetherspoons. And if one of us is indeed ovulating.. Lucky man!

To read this in Huffington Post Comedy touch this..

Monday, 8 July 2013

Pinocchio's Dirty Secret

Unfortunately, there is still the social stigma glued to the mental health package, like a big pink bow on top to pitch up the volume even more . 

Other people's attitude towards us "spongers" can unfortunately, eventually rub off on us and we can even start to believe it too. 

Because we're not spinning round in wheelchairs, or feeding our guide dogs, people often think "there's nothing wrong with him/her, they're just milking it". 

I too had the snide and hurtful remarks such as "You don't know what a full day's work is like" even though I have three separate jobs when I'm well enough, and the "I wish I was mental so I could sit around and get handouts" OK then, lets swap for a day, see how you enjoy being in my head, and for the record when manic, we don't do sitting around, we're more likely to perform the Aggadoo outside ASDA in broad daylight, until we get "moved on". Or, what's worse is when we have all the brain energy to re-write the Aggadoo in twelve different languages with a sequence of pumping dance moves to go with it, but - and usually because of the meds - we don't have the physical energy to go with it. This is one of my favourite worst favourite traits of Bipolar.
What hurts even more is that some of this has come from close friends and family. In their defense they may not know that, but in my defense I think they should. 

After a while I started to question my own "fraudulent" life, believing that I was making it all upin my own, perfectly "normal" head, and cheating the system, lying to all my readers (I often write articles/columns about it) and when I'd convinced myself enough d I'd stop turning up to appointments (I obviously didn't need to) and take myself off all my meds. 
As a result, I usually went straight back to the Butlins ward again to get fat on Olanzipin, the drug of choice to give the staff team a quiet shift, but unfortunately this pattern will continue until, like any physical condition, the bulk of society realise that we didn't decide to be certified insane for daytime TV and DLA..

So, thanks to this stigma I haveoften found myself lying to people that don't deserve to be lied to, in fear of them walking, lying so much I can't remember what lie I've told to what person.

There have been times when I've had to give up work for a long while, like the time when my manager overheard me take a call from  one of our architects to say he was held up at the station but on his way. 
He was actually in the next room. Home time.

I remember a time when if my boyfriend stayed over the night before, I'd have to get up and pretend to go to work. I'd have to hide behind a bush till it was safe to sneak back in. 
Sometimes if it was chucking it down I'd shove my head out of the window to give the illusion I got soaked on the way home. 
I even made fake phone calls to colleagues that didn't exist. 
Ironically this stuff made me even more dissociated, paranoid and ashamed, and the thing is, of course he found out about the bipolar. You can't hide something like that for long.

I don't do lies anymore, I don't have the brain space, the Aggadoo is spilling out of my eyes and ears and I also don't do people that try to break me to feel better about themselves either. 

I'm the sort of person that breaks easily, but (with the support of them good ones) repair quickly. Actually, that's just another fantasy, it actually consumes me and keeps me awake for weeks.
I'm also the sort of person that cannot wait to get home because back to back episodes of Catchphrase is on and I've only seen each episode six times. 

I'm the sort of person that recently invested eight quid into a laminating machine and has laminated most things in her house  from rubbish to the ex's unopened letters marked "urgent" before redirecting them on to him.

I am the sort of person that is a human being, just like anybody else, except I just have really shit taste in music.

Monday, 24 June 2013

TED TALKS - Before I die

Funny how animals are unaware of mortality (to our knowledge), and as a result they seem a lot more chilled out then us. Would cats spend two thirds of their life asleep knowing that they were on borrowed time? Would they suddenly think "Shit! I need an education, I need some fullfilment other than food and covering up my poo, I should see more art, seek recognition from those other than my owner etc.." Flies would be the most frustrating species, imagine having to cram that all in one day?

The manic phase of my bipolar disorder, is a little like having been told that I've got a week left to live. I often create over-spilled lists of all the things I absolutely need to do and need to do right now. Ideas from nowhere pile up on top of each other, like a game of "thought genga". I guess it's similar to creating a bucket list but one that needs the lot ticking off by the end of the day. Most manifest as grandious fantasies, others involve doing lots of running around, telling everyone I come into contact with my flush of ideas, opinions and delusions. Recently I've raced to B&Q to buy twenty eight plants because by the following day it will be too late. If it had been closed I would have likely broken down or broken in. I've taken multiple pets home from multiple pet shops because if I don't I'm responsible for animal neglect and torture all over the world (I once had ten guinea pigs, twelve rabbits, four quails and a parrot. You needed a ticket to get into my house). At the same time I was working on a city farm. In a fit of jealousy Noah and Dr Doolittle would form a band and cover McCatrny and Jackson's  "The girl is mine".  

I'm the probably the biggest hypocondriact I know, appart from my cousin, who, having consume a whole pack of bacon felt sick, and asked if it's possible to get bacon cancer. I spend much time googling symptoms and calling NHS direct. If I have a complicated poo I fear I've had a prolapse, if I can't complete a crossword whilst hosting a hangover I think I have a brain tumour, and if my fingernails don't grow back on time I worry that my calcium deficiency will bring on oesteoporosis, kyosis, and paralysis. 

I dread the day that my doctor tells me I'm on borrowed time. Last year my Uncle went to the hospital for a scan with suspected fluid on the lung and he never went home. Straight from the scan room to an operation theatre to a hospital bed to a morgue. Shortly after,  a friend of mine cycled to the hospital for a heart operation, and again,  never went home. In my greif all I could think about was his bicycle chained up outside in the rain with nobody to cycle it home, like a dog chained up in the cold.

Following Candy Changs "Before I die" project, I am hoping to take it to various arts/mental health services around London and photograph them to add to Changs already extensive and global collection. How breathtaking is she that the love of one person transformed into a worldwide blackboard of dreams. In the meantime, I thought about the top ten things I would like to do before I die.. of course I'd love to have kids, travel the world, follow my dream of becoming an author etc.. but no matter how hard I try I struggle to see past the following day let alone week. Perhaps it's the short attention span that comes that comes from taking five doses of medication a day, or the negativity that comes with my condition, perhaps my denial about death and all it brings.. so my bucket list is more of a "to do" list, and includes these. 

Stop thinking people are carers just because they care.
Stop trying to save people (unless they are hedgehogs or Noel Edmonds.)
Learn to play Air Guitar.
Own my own redcoat.
Get unbanned from uniformdating.com.
Have a naughty nightwear stall on Eastenders called "Nan Summers".
Go to the Norfolk Fjords.
Stop having grandious thoughts and Specsavers and sending then Thonrntons chocolates.
Stop calling customer services because I am lonely.
Realise Wetherspoons is not a sperm bank.
Realise, when chasing ambulances, that they are not ice-cream vans.

Death is the only inevitable thing that is going to happen to us, yet it is the most taboo, frightening and deniable thing amongst all of us. Yet our bucket lists are full of hope, individuality and finding something positive out of our fear and loss. I think we should all have one, even if we don't accomplish all of it, we will have fun trying.

To read this is the Huffington Post click here and be nice. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kerry-hudson/in-response-to-candy-changs-tedtalk_b_3468596.html

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Attachment Issues, Floor Tiles and Garibaldis

To some extent we all have some attachment issues, even if very little, even if we don't even know. Same as rejection, same as abandonment, same as horizontal stripes make you look fat issues. 

Although I have absolutely no idea where mine came from.. I wasn't breast fed so I can't blame it on coming off the boob, my dad came home every day after work, and no sh*t, our family goldfish lived for thirty one years. (It was won at the fair by my mum when she was a baby - before it was thought inhumane – and it was one of those annoying situations where a grown up actually wins it and then says “clever girl!” to which the baby just gives a “what the f*ck” look then sh*ts itself).

However, my seemingly from nowhere attachment issues came out recently, horribly, when two decorators came to convert my bathroom into a shower room.  No it didn't happen in B&Q, although I have cried in there a few times before. The smell of timber reminds me of wasted weekends as a child, wandering around with the parents for what seems hours, days, when all my other friends were swimming, outdoors for god sake. What I do however like about B&Q is watching couples a) have arguments over floor tiles, or b) have conversations with each other by just staring at each other.

No, what it was, they were here for two weeks. Two weeks is a long time if you work from home and they are your only other form of communication other than rodents who are my guinea pigs Bev, Sue, Pam, Elaine Barbara, Linda and Pauline. I also have two cats now named Exceptional Circumstances and Discrimination In The Workplace. The builders wouldn't drink my tea, they said Earl Grey tastes like Perfume, fair play, but they sure as hell ate my biscuits. And we chatted every day, I got to know their first names and everything.

When the shower room was almost complete, on the last day, I actually lost nearly a whole nights sleep wondering how I was going to survive them leaving me, so, I got up early and left the house before they got here, leaving a note – on the biscuit tin – saying..

“Early meeting, cheers boys, looks great”

But what I really wanted to say was..

“I can't believe you're leaving me! How could you do this? Do you not think I have feelings too? All you do is work long hard hours, talk about your wives (BTW when did you ever talk about me?) eat  my garibaldis and fart every time you bent down to seal a gap. Yours, devastated, Kerry of Hackney. PS One of the taps is dripping, maybe you need an extra week to fix?)

So I wrote it down, and felt better. And left the house before they got here. As I stepped onto the tube to go nowhere I panicked.. which note did I actually leave on the biscuit tin???

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Manic Spendathons

If there's one thing I learnt in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) it's that we have to take something positive from every negative experience. Or was it other way around? Well.. I recently went on a spendathon. It's not shopping that I have an addiction to - when I'm manic  I actually hate the physical act of shopping; if I try on one pair of shoes from Oxford Street I then have to try on EVERY BLOODY pair of shoes in every bloody shop and then just choose ten pairs - I did seven and a half hours in the Westlife (or maybe it's Westfield) shopping centre in Stratford during that time and I swear to god I will never run out of stationary and paper plates. No, internet shopping is more satisfying. I swear to god the only reason Amazon hasn't gone bankrupt like everyone else is because of me. You can sit there in yesterdays pants, last week's make-up and the next six months wages and tremble over stuff you wouldn't normally think about. And Groupon.. and I blame other people for this.

But going back to my original point, we take a positive from a negative. All the non-refundable overpriced treatments that I can't afford, when I'm manic, credit card shaking in my hand, along with all the promises of beauty, stardom, husbands and oh my god I will look amazing....... fortunately by the time the actual bookings come around I am usually face down in my sink, hair flopped in soap, toothpaste, anything that is gonna drive me to a very clean suicide, but hey! Guess what! I have eyelash extensions to look forward to! Lazer teeth whitening! Er.. Learn Portuguese in five days... and a call from the credit card company threatening to take me to the cleaners.. but guess what? I can actually say that, through dazzling teeth, in Portuguese.. Vamos levá-lo para a limpeza. 

Very good friends will take your credit cards off you during this time. Shoot them.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Lies, Cliff Richard and Numbers.

I told the best lie yesterday (I try to tell at least one lie a day, it's good for creativity and writing). A friend of mine came over to see if I was manic, I was putting my Christmas tree up and listening to Cliff Richard sing seasonal ballads, it's April. I tried to give him some money from a wad load of cash I had stuffed in an envelope. When he asked where I got it, I turned all serious, and silenced Cliff, and told him that nine years ago, I witnessed a man do something. Something terrible. Instead of going to the Police - which by the way I've felt nothing but guilt about but have got hooked on the money - I tracked him down and blackmailed him. Not so much about going to the Police but to his wife as that would be game over. My bribe was set at a grand a month, until I decide to stop. My friend looked mortified. He couldn't look me in the eye. He said that he's rather not know what I witnessed but I could see he was curious, so I told him. I saw him pick his nose and flick it at the back of his wife's head. Then turned Cliff back up and started to dance.

Had a piece published a couple of days ago in the Huffington Post. It's had nearly 200 likes already which is fab because I thought it was crap. I went to a press event hosted by Alastair Campbell about the portrayal of mental health in the media and - as Sarah Jessica Parker always say - "and that got me thinking..."


Thursday, 28 March 2013

I dream of sleeping

I haven’t posted for a while, been so distracted, and I forget stuff as soon as I think it.
Six and a half hour spending sprees, but on the plus side, no pets.
Nights out, most nights, I can’t remember remembering.
Very little sleep.. even on promethazine and zopiclone combined.
Feeling so high - as in measurement, not morphine - someone tried to mug me the other night and I spat a big fat swear word in his face.
So scatty I keep forgetting my lithium.
Brain so fast haven’t been able to work, it can’t keep up.
But this isn’t mania, mania was last November, mania was putting my address on facebook and inviting anyone to come over and help themselves to anything in my house, mania was throwing the remaining anything off the balcony.
All I want to do is sleep for more than four hours a night. When your mind is on overdrive but your body is exhausted all you can do is lie there and buzz. Sometimes my alarm goes off right next to me but I don’t notice for ages. I had to set my alarm to a Chas n Dave song thinking it would annoy the hell out of me and break me out of the charged up pulse but no.

On a slightly more interesting note, I’m exhibiting at “Creative Journeys” Hackney Museum Gallery for three months, it covers the history of mental health in the East End of London. See photo’s above plus a LOT of knitting.

I love you.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Creative Journeys - an exhibition

Should you wandering around Hackney Central one day, check out our exhibition in the gallery. It runs until May 25th (2013) and artwork is on sale. 

Should you be inspired by my work, I'm running a series of workshops in the museum. Just ask at the front desk.. "What the bloody hell is all that about then?"


Interview with Media Mind UK

The lovely girls from Media Mind UK came down to my exhibition I share with Core Arts at the London Hackney Museum for another two months (thats a lot of plugs for half a sentence!) and here's what we got up to..


Internet Dating And Mental Health

Just how honest are we on internet dating profiles? We like people to see our best bits, our qualities, the things we are proud of, so we leave out the flaws, the weaknesses, the things we wish we didn’t have. We upload our best picture, the one that say’s attractive, sexy, happy, not the mid blinking, pre make up or post bottle of plonk.

But fast forward the potential relationship three years - which is when we approach the notorious three year itch and if we don’t make the right decision we have to wait for the seven year itch, it’s a bit like being sentenced then waiting for parole - and by then we are all attuned to the traits we left out of our original profile. So why not just get it out of the way in the beginning? No way!

Being totally honest in our profiles can go in one of two directions. You either get no replies, perhaps the odd one or two after pub closing hours, or you attract someone who admires you for your honesty AND your flaws. Bingo. You may as start choosing the fabric and start table planning.

I thought about doing this experiment, for about ten minutes, but did I really want to greet my potential soulmate with my most personal personality defects, which for me is my mental health? Oh no. People are still scared of mental health, but even though stats are rising, awareness is on the up, and all of us know someone who knows someone with a severe and enduring mental illness, we would apparently live with an ex convict then someone like me. A whopping 75% of us don’t let on about our condition for a whole year, often allowing behavioural symptoms such as a manic episode to do the talking for us.

So, my profile begins.. female, thirties, Aquarius, journalist and textiles artist living in London zone 2, with a professional (that means photoshopped) pic of my good side (good start, grabs his attention). Into reading, walking, swimming, ski-ing (like it), dining, dancing, partying (so far, so good), likes interesting science facts, random humour that makes me laugh uncontrollably (she’s a keeper)... and stalking people off the Crime channel. My friends see me as manic, an insomniac, of which I’m prone to delusions from a parallel world. I can’t make decisions unless when dating then I make bad ones. I keep up to sixteen rodents and have a weird obsession with Noel Edmunds (logs out). Oh, and I’ve only been ski-ing once, I was rubbish, and the only thing I “read” is Take a Break. Really, lets just stick to our qualities.

Last year I joined Guardian Soulmates which was my first ever internet dating experience. I did the fabulous sounding profile and clicked the upload button, and by the end of play the following day my inbox was shockingly chocka with messages, likes and favourites and I made it onto the front page (whoo hoo!). But it was very overwhelming, my previous relationship had left me feeling worthless, and I felt like a fraud because I hadn’t declared my mental illness, so I didn’t allow myself to reply to any of these potential soul mates. Six months of not replying later, still guiltily peeping out from the front page, I deactivated my account. I kicked myself for being ashamed of something I have no control over.

What’s even worse are job applications because we HAVE to tick a box stating whether we have a mental health condition or not. If we declare it, hmm.. they’re not supposed to deselect us but they do. If we don’t, and become unwell, they can a) not pay us sick leave or b) dismiss us for fraud. Epilepsy, diabetes or hard of hearing are other examples of “hidden” disabilities but without that awkward stigma which is mental health.

There is one dating site which caters for people with mental health issues looking for love or even friendship and its called No Longer Lonely. It was set up by a guy called Sam with mental health issues of his own who told me..
“I get regular testimonials from users attesting to how their lives have improved because of this site. Fact is that we’ve spawned at least forty marriages. I think there is a profound comfort getting to know someone for romantic intention when the idea of disclosure is taken off the table. We speak a common language of experience.

I’m all for people with a mental health diagnosis getting together with a similar partner, however, the cross-over of symptoms can be hard work and need deeper attention and indeed support. Mood disorders and personality disorders can be a toxic combination if unattended, although anxiety disorders tend to be more straight forward to understand, but cross partnerships in general can be difficult because not only do we have our own condition to control, we then have a whole new batch of symptoms to understand and nurture. Match partnerships, ie bipolar to bipolar tend to work better because both partners share the same awareness, experience and empathy.

Friends who think they are helping when they say “You need to be with someone normal” do not tend to understand that whilst their support has not gone unappreciated, we often feel that our condition is highlighted in comparison with someone without one, like having a spotlight shining down on us.

I’m done with the whole internet dating thing, it wasn’t for me. Perfect if your fridge is empty and you’re skint because you could fashion a short notice dinner date (if it goes well you get breakfast too) but I think I’ll do better hanging around outside manic depression support groups and depot clinics!

To read this in the Huffington Post, go to http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/kerry-hudson/internet-dating-profiles-_b_2776853.html

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Realistic New Year Resolutions

My new years resolution this year was to start smoking and so far it’s going very well.

Admittedly I hated it to start with, namely the head rush, and had to pour cans of coke down my neck to combat the taste, but in order to give up a guilty pleasure I needed another guilty pleasure and a second new years resolution is to give up the booze since my folks - monitoring my lubricated antics over the festive period - have threatened me with rehab.

I’ve heard, read, experienced that people with bipolar love to drink, snort, shop, gamble, ‘hold hands’ because the quick fix attached is similar to our natural buzzers and we often prefer to self medicate than listen to our doctors.

Another thing we ‘forget’ is that drinking on top of our meds stops them working properly. THIS is my reason to quit, even if just for a few months (or minutes) because 2012 has seen two psychiatric admissions, a break up and a bingo habit and I need to see some positive changes in 2013 or I will simply leave Walford (yes, I believe ‘Stenders is real, give me something to cling onto).

Other new years resolutions include..

- See more of people - I actually have more conversations with my pet guinea pigs than people. As a writer I need to be more nosey, find out what's going on in other peoples lives, swear to secrecy and then change names.

- Practice the drums more - I’m getting crap on the drum kit. How am I to be the nagging thirty something drummer with her Take A Break magazine and Ovaltine on the floor tom in a band with teenage comb overs unless I practice?

- De Clutter - My flat is starting to look like something from a Channel Four documentary on hoarding. Because I make installation art I often hang around skips and scrap projects like flies and drag useless materials back to my flat with the promise of bringing it to life.

As humans we are more likely to list the things we must change and forget the things that worked for us in 2012, like.. er.. changing lightbulbs or remote control batteries. Other things I learnt last year to take with me into 2013 is..

- You can’t fix other people - I spent the last five years trying to eliminate someone else’s baggage, instead I just added to my own. The only people you can fix are yourselves, and you need to swallow a bit more than pills and self help books to do this. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and CAT (Cognitive Analytical Therapy) are great tools.

- Go against the grain - not only is this a fabulous method for cutting fabric to make cushion cover binding, it also works when you’re so low you can’t face the outside world so you FACE THE OUTSIDE WORLD. Fresh air and change of scenery works on both the mental and physical being.

- Don’t ask you don’t get - Although we’ve been hearing this since the age of five some of us (me included) still think good fortune will come to us if we sit and wait quietly. Last year I wrote for some of my favourite magazines and supplements because I asked to. I also had a three month solo exhibition - since art school - of my textiles art because I asked to. If anyone had of said no I would’ve been exactly where I was anyway.

Whatever you decide to do or not to do in the coming year, have a marvellous new one!

To read this in the Huffington Post.. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/kerry-hudson/realistic-new-years-resolutions_b_2401729.html?just_reloaded=1