Posted in The Unconventional Thesis of a woman from Glasgow

Mental Health Awareness Week

Yesterday my eldest son asked me if I was having an episode, and I replied flippantly/ sarcastically,

“Not every period of deep thoughts and sentiment is an episode, sometimes it is just a period of deep reflection, a connecting the conscious and subconscious, to the bigger picture, so, no I wouldn’t say I was, having an episode is something very different to how I am at the moment”.

I wasn’t lying, although I realize now I wasn’t telling the truth either, I was in that place of self-denial where ego and arrogance blur the reality of mania, and I forget what being manic is. I was semi-aware I had been triggered having spent the night before without sleep, overthinking, unable to stop thoughts racing. Memories, good and bad, flooding my mind in a tsunami of sentiments. My whole body aching and drained of energy. I had only just gone to bed and fell asleep with the help of two pain killers before he called. I just hadn’t recognized what had triggered me, which in fairness to myself is unusual these days, as I normally do and as a result, can take the appropriate steps that I know will help me maintain balance and not fall towards the dark place.

During our conversation, I had made some out there comments about geometry, for what must have seemed to him no apparent reason, although in my mind at the time it made perfect sense to me because I know the sentiments and thoughts that had triggered the questions, but I couldn’t explain them in a way that might have made sense on a different day in better context, and even if I could have he didn’t have time for that, I’m not sure he ever would have time for that kind of conversation with me, I know my mental health makes him uncomfortable, I know he finds it hard to have deep and meaningful conversations about stuff with me, and I understand that I get it I really do, but it doesn’t make the difficulties in communication any easier, though I desperately wish it did.

I am aware that I can be quite arrogant and even egotistical about how well I believe I manage my mental health without anti-depressants,  anti-psychotic, or other prescribed meds used to treat mental health conditions. I am aware that sometimes I think I understand and know more about my condition than I probably do, as a result of my studies, life, and work experiences, and I have no doubt that when I am in that blurred place of self-denial, between manic high and clinging to the tightrope above the abyss of dark depression, psychosis & all else within that place, my arrogance and ego are amplified tenfold in mania, the high of self believe and invincibility, the false sense of restored confidence and ability.

Following the conversation, I spent the rest of the day with random intervals of uncontrollable tears prompted by various random thoughts still unfocused and unable to eat for the third day in a row, tired and drained to the marrow of energy and feeling anxious and guilty that I had worried or upset my son during this period of lockdown when he has enough to worry about without me adding burden.

Eventually, I decided to go on Facebook if only to divert my thoughts,  read some positive posts & listen to some tunes to help me relax, and to my surprise, it helped more than I expected and I went to bed but was again unable to sleep, my body filled with shivers and shaking, my feet freezing though my body was sweating and still aching, though the mania I suggest beginning to subside, I felt calmer and focused so got up to have a hot drink and a couple of painkillers to ease the aching muscles to hopefully help me sleep, and write something about a movie I had watched on Sunday night, that had prompted an idea for a writing piece I was pondering. Writing for me is a therapeutic exercise, it helps me focus, and more often than not prevents me from falling into the abyss of darkness and despair.

As the kettle boiled for my drink I think I worked out what the trigger was, though  I suspect that this period of lockdown and a build-up of thoughts and related worries over last few days, or probably if I’m completely honest to myself and you, the past couple of weeks subconsciously, also contributed but I was perhaps suppressing them, as even as I write this I feel myself recognizing the signs I was slipping were there in my physical sense of well being, which won’t have helped either.

If it was an episode it was briefer than most, and that I am able to write this with a sense of calm and focus then I suggest at very least the worst has past and I have managed it I hope reasonably well, and without falling to the dark place and that for me is a good result.

And if you are wondering what I think the trigger was, it was the movie I watched on Sunday night that I was going to write about when I started writing this instead, Educating Reta, but that explanation and analysis will have to wait till another day, as now finally I feel I just might be able to go to bed and successfully fall to sleep.

 

 

 

Posted in poetry

hashtag #GetTalkingPoetryChallange

I don’t do the new years’ resolution thing at Hogmany, it always seems to be a little untimely for big life-changing promises of good intentions, generally fueled by new year celebrations & alcohol-infused euphoria.
That said, and quirky as it may seem, I do have a tendency to make affirmations of intentions for my forthcoming year around the Chinese new year. Spring festival feels, at least to me, to be more in tune with the beginning of the natural year in the northern hemisphere where I live, or maybe it is just how my own biorhythms and energies begin to attune to the promise of spring and natures rebirth.

Anyway, this year my primary affirmation was to push my personal barriers & challenge my social anxiety to try and rebuild my confidence and try to get out and mix with other humans.
The first step was to go back to a writing group I’ve attended on and off over many years, I am comfortable there, familiar with the environment and the tutor is a trusted friend.
I was enjoying being back at writing group, and with a little encouragement decided to send some poems off to the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2020 Ayrshire Poetry Competition, and was looking forward to attending other SMHAF events with my friend in May, as step two in challenging my social anxiety.
Then as the great bard said, ” The best-laid schemes o’Mice an’ Men gang aft agley,”

Along came COVID-19, lockdown, and social distancing. Life as we knew it canceled indefinitely.

Like most people, I’ve now worked my way through most spring deep cleaning tasks.
Unarguably my mental health has yoyo’d since lockdown began, I suggest most peoples have by now, It’s ok to not be okay.
It’s a myth that having social anxiety and being used to isolation makes it easier.

Yesterday I found myself on the precipice of mind- bland, which for me is never good, as mind-bland teeters on the edge of the abyss to madness.
I shared my mindset on twitter.

Later, I got a wee motivational reply from my writing group tutor, and later still, a lightbulb moment, as I stared out the window across the waters of the Clyde when my mindset shifted from bland to plan.

Sure it’s disappointing that the SMHAF 2020, and all festivals and social gatherings are canceled, but that doesn’t have to mean we can’t still enjoy poetry, raise awareness of mental health issues, ( now more than ever our mental health is important as we all face these difficult social changes affecting life as we know it). As Ant and Dec keep telling us on the telly, it is important & good for our mental health to talk.
So, my lightbulb moment idea that took me from mindset bland to plan?! ….

Inspired by the SMHAF poetry competition theme “perspectives ” is, a get talking mental health poetry challenge.

TO GET INVOLVED ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS;

1. write a poem. (The theme is ” Perspectives” & how that relates to Mental Health, interpret as you wish)
2. Upload a recording of yourself reading/reciting/preforming poem
3. tag 5 people you invite to challenge
4. post & share with hashtag #GetTalkingPoetryChallange

To start the challenge I’ve re-edited and tweaked my canceled entry to the SMHAF Ayrshire poetry comp, which was inspired by the Get Britain Talking campaign, and my 5 nominations go to,

  1. David Mclaughlan  @davidwordworker
  2. Ruth Anderson  @RRudiB1
  3. Kate Lindsay @KatieL251
  4. Tracy Harvey @Tracyanneharvey
  5.  Mkuu Amani @tocarbne

I hope they will rise to the challenge and get involved.

Poetry has long been a great influencer of social change, RAISING AWARENESS AND HELPING break down the barriers to understanding and tackling social issues and taboos that stigmatize and prevent good mental health.

SO, let’s GET POETIC! and #GetTalkingPoetryChallenge.

https://youtu.be/4rXsV0Ap0CQ