Mentalist

So. I’ve been putting this off for a while. I think it’s time to get over it, and write a post about it, because these kinds of blogs helped me when I first got my diagnosis 10 months ago. That diagnosis being Bipolar Affective Disorder. There I said it. Several celebrities have come out and admitted to having it, and yet I even struggle with writing it out in an anonymous blog. I wrote about it quite a bit in private word documents to start to try and make sense of it, but I wanted to share my experiences here.

Let me take you back to September 2015. I had had an amazing summer prior to the start of university. Got back from a year in Italy, bought my first car, was doing a bit of promo work, got my Motorcycle CBT, and was getting ready to go back to university for my final year. Yesterday, my friends from that year graduated. I still have a year left because I had to take a year off.

During the first week back at University, it became clear there was a problem and I was admitted to the hospital due to mania. What ensued was a month of being medicated with extremely strong injections (ie. Clopixol), and my attempts at making sense of the situation. When I came out, I attempted to resume work at university but I wasn’t fully recovered and my attention span didn’t allow me to do the required reading for my degree. So I had to suspend my studies for a year, and battle with deep depression that followed my mania. I wrote small fragments in that mind-state that I may share with you one day.

If anyone’s interested, I can go into greater detail about my admission, the people I encountered on the ward, and my recovery since. I just wanted to make a sort of introductory post to start to get my fragmented word document in order. When I first made it, it was entitled ‘Wrong Side of the Glass’, referring to how I felt in hospital. You can see the doctors and nurses on the other side of a glass partition in a locked room on the ward, and all those with mental illness sit or aimlessly wander around on the other side. Sometimes it felt like you were being watched like an animal at the zoo. People would pace outside it banging on the door for their attention. Obviously, it aids in observation and monitoring of patients, but I wish there were a better way to go about it.

 

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Putting the Pro in Procrastination

Oh hey! How are you doing? I’m not too bad, considering. Just listening to John Denver. The song, “Rocky Mountain High” to be precise.

Just watched the newly posted TED talk by Tim Urban, author of Wait But Why, a favourite blog of mine. Apparently I have a weakness for hilariously bad illustrations because of the few blogs I’ve taken the time to read quite a few posts on, Hyperbole and a Half contained some of those too. Anyway, I was inspired by the content of his post on procrastination. I’m a student, and have sort of been forced into procrastinating my final undergraduate year (for legitimate reasons, mind you). When I told my tutor I had to postpone my final year, she was very understanding and told me about when she was doing her PhD (which ended up taking her like 7 years) and she spent a lot of her time gazing out of her apartment window, chain smoking and ordering Domino’s Pizza garlic bread with 2 litre bottles of Pepsi far too many times (in my opinion, she should have gone for the warm gooy cookies). I suppose it is comforting and nice to know that sometimes people have to take a ride on the intellectual seas in a failboat.

Anyway, one of the points Tim Urban made was that self-starters don’t have deadlines or momentum, so there’s no panic monster to scare them out of complacency. So here’s a bit of momentum, or at least something to distract me from my own mortality, in a tiny format. Just a little ol’ post.

Oops, I’ve just seen in my research (aka having a casual read of the FAQs page of waitbutwhy.com) that it should be referred to as a site rather than a blog. So do that.

With a little bit of luck, I’ll be back on here soon with some more profound observations. I wish I could refer to this as a site. It hardly feels like a blog. Ah well. Speak soon!

What to do with your Summer

As a student, the same question arises for me every year. What should I do over the summer? Unfortunately, I’m not someone who can just go anywhere I choose and hang out on vacation for a while. I’ve got to work for it. Therefore I have on my current list of options:

1. Teaching English in a Foreign Country

The British Council has programmes that allow British citizens to go and teach English in countries like India and Thailand. There are a few fees upfront, but once there you get a small amount each month to cover expenses.

2. Working in a hotel/restaurant or on a ranch in the USA

This could be work as a server, sales person, or wrangler and what gave me the idea in the first place was stumbling on the website: www.coolworks.com. I’m also a US citizen so I’ve been wondering if I should check out just renting a room over there and finding work individually. This isn’t as organised or secure as using the residence provided by a ranch, but might give me more freedom to choose where to go.

3. Stay at home and work

This is the safest of all choices. Expenses would be low, and many of my friends stay in the area. Not so sure if this is the one for me this time, as it’s very easy to feel stuck in one place.

 

The main reason for writing this quick post was to hear from others. If anyone has any experience of the ideas mentioned above, please tell me about it in the comments below. I’d also love to read any further ideas or recommended websites. What will you do with your summer?

Gratitude

Today, I am grateful. I woke up (late, I may add) and had my usual morning coffee and was eating toast. I had been reading an article online about the difference between mindful and mindless. I’ll copy it below:

“In the United States, I have a close friend named Jim Forest… Last winter, Jim came to visit. I usually wash the dishes after we’ve finished the evening meal, before sitting down and drinking tea with everyone else.

One night, Jim asked if he might do the dishes. I said, “Go ahead, but
if you wash the dishes you must know the way to wash them.” Jim replied, “Come on, you think I don’t know how to wash the dishes?” I answered, “There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes
in order to wash the dishes.”

Jim was delighted and said, “I choose the second way-to wash the dishes to wash the dishes.” From then on, Jim knew how to wash the dishes. I transferred the “responsibility” to him for an entire week.

If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.”

What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes.
In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink.

If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future
– and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh”

Pretty sure after reading that, I ate the most mindful piece of toast ever. I looked out the window and realised just how blessed I truly am. Living under the roof with my family, in particular my mother, who has done so much for me and us. So I was searching for purpose. I think my current one will be finding a way to repay her for everything she’s done for us. That involves being stable and independent at the very least.

Self-Doubt

 

Even if it is just a feeling that comes and goes, it is poisonous. My story is that I was a pretty successful student, had a year abroad when I taught some students and then it all fell to pieces at the start of my final year of university when I was hospitalized and subsequently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I had previously had a hospitalization but at the time it was called a psychosis with schizophrenic-bipolar aspects. A one-off sort of situation. I was on mood stabilisers for two years after that, and came off for over a year and a half before I had this recent episode. That means, I now don’t know when and if my next bout of this illness could be and it has made me want to give up. I’m currently looking for work, and waiting to resume university in September. Even though I have the self-doubt, that makes me think I won’t be able to complete my university education. That makes me think I won’t be able to research and write an essay or complete a dissertation. I have to have something to hold onto for the future, so it’s this. I cry when I think about it. Feeling so worthless and so powerless to the situation. A fight against one’s own mind is the worst kind of fight.

Reading back over this post, I see how morose it is. So in the interests of keeping things light(ish), and perhaps reinforcing my bipolarity,  a positive spin we can keep on this is that I have an incredible family who support and care about me. I don’t even think they can know how much they have helped me through the tough times.

Nope

No one knows what the future holds, but some days I feel like it is pretty damn predictable. Today is one of those days. Perhaps you can tell by my profanity that it doesn’t look like a positive one in my mind’s eye. I feel like I can’t hack it.

Hello

Welcome to my diary. I am the diarist. How have you found yourself here? If you’re not sure, don’t worry. We could all ask ourselves the same question. This, so far, is a stream of consciousness. Now it might not be written in that Beckettian style yet. I like punctuation too much. I will be using this as a diary in a sense. In case you didn’t get that from the title. If you like reading other peoples thoughts, you’re in the right place. If you don’t, why on earth are you on wordpress?

Anyway, I hope to be able to keep you company, keep myself sane (hah), and just kill time with you I suppose. Welcome to my world. I would say domain, but that’s too internety for me.