Autism, Distrust of Doctors, and Mental Health Awareness Campaigns

Trigger warning: mentions suicide, too many times.

Recently Canada held its latest Bell Let’s Talk Day where people tweeted about mental health awareness and for every time #bellletstalk was tagged 5c was donated towards mental health services. Celebrities were especially vocal in getting the word out. William Shatner had tweeted about it with that hashtag about 12 twelve times before I even caught on. When I got the gist I was reminded of R U OK? Day, which we have in Australia so I thought I’d like to join in. But as I read through the many tweets they seemed to be statements I’ve heard many times before.

Such things like:

“because mental health is real.”

“it’s ok to not be ok.”

“it gets better.”

“all it takes is asking someone ‘are you ok?’ to make them feel better.”

It made it hard to post anything because I didn’t want to post anything too graphic or disturbing.

Eventually I went with: “Had rampant suicidal thoughts earlier but got through it. As always. Keep moving on” #nostigma #bellletstalk

40 minutes earlier I had constant suicidal thoughts and was in such a deep state of depression I couldn’t move. So, can you imagine how I felt for someone to write “it’s ok to not be ok?” Sure, it’s ok to not be ok…until you want to commit self-harm. It’s very hard for me to tell the difference between sadness and clinical depression, just like it’s hard for me to tell the difference between happy and hypomanic, and all those emotions in between.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s great that people supported this and worked hard to end the stigma around mental illness, and drowned out the voices of the denialists and trolls, and I’m especially grateful for celebrities that helped get the word out to their millions of fans, but as someone who personally experiences mental health issues I felt like I wasn’t counted in the conversation. I’ve moved past the whole ‘mental illness is real’ thing and I just thought after all these years of mental health awareness we had reached the next step to actually talk about mental health; the symptoms, the heart ache and to actually engage with the suffering. That’s what was so important about #BellLetsActuallyTalk – it opened up the conversation to people with lived with mental health issues everyday. What started as people of colour having a say in a day they felt left out of, soon contributions from all ranges of minorities came in and real sufferers of mental health issues and I took the opportunity to spout all my frustrations with biased and incompetent doctors. I ended it with asking everyone whether disabled people with mental health issues were counted in #BellLetsActuallyTalk as well.

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All the Bell Let’s Talk stuff actually distracted me from what I planned to dedicate my entire Australia Day doing, and that was teaching people about Aboriginal Australians, especially their horrid history under English colonisation and their current situation in the communities but by the end of the day I actually didn’t want to change the date or even abolish Australia Day. But more on that later.

For years I have been dealing with doctors who wouldn’t take my concerns seriously. It’s hard enough to have poor communication skills from autism and difficulty even getting words out in a clear concise way because of chronic illness, but then having a doctor disregard it because they don’t think you’re even self-aware enough to know what’s going on, is frustrating and discourages me to keep going to the doctor when I even have physical health issues.

The very first time it happened was before I was even diagnosed with autism. It was along the way. I first thought I may have dyslexia and the psychologist I went to see was entirely dismissive and hit me with a severe depression and severe anxiety label – all from doing an IQ test. This was back in the day when dyslexia was only diagnosed to people with an IQ of 80 or under.  Another time was when I had a painful and constant tinnitus. The doctor looked in my ear and said I said some wax and left it at that. The same doctor was in complete denial when I thought I may have hypoglycemia and asked for a referral to see neurologist because I was having seizures. My psychiatrist didn’t believe me either and it took me a few years to realise that the reason was probably because I reported it as a side effect to Ritalin. The doctor who made me come to that realisation said that there wasn’t anything wrong with having extreme sensitivity to light, and said it’s better to wear sunglasses everywhere to protect my eyes from the sun. Medical professionals don’t like it when you say something nasty about those drugs they’re paid to prescribe you.

None of them were as dismissive as my psychiatrist though. I have cyclic moods, which is basically what I call undiagnosed symptoms of bipolar. My psychiatrist has refused to even asses me for it despite the fact that my symptoms were ruining my life. You can imagine what untreated bipolar looks like. For a long time I saw my mania as a positive too. I couldn’t really commit to a project unless I was manic because I had more energy and more ideas just popping into my brain. In those last days I took Ritalin I just take it to get manic. I could cut a pill in half and still become manic but 20mg (less than 10 year olds are dosed with) was what I’d take to have complete wild ride and often ended up with me going into psychosis and an intense teeth grinding session.

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This photograph is a trigger.

Being deprived of the treatment I needed, my mum not believing me as much as my psychiatrist put me into a deep depression and I even used to tell him when I felt suicidal, right at that moment. I’d tell my mum that I felt so suicidal that I’d run out onto the busy road just outside the medical centre, and I was just ignored.

So I gave up. I gave up asking for help, for anything. I embraced my mania and it took a long time to see it as a negative. I let a GP put me back on anti-depressants so I could actually leave my house without having PTSD triggering and kill the delusional thoughts. It worked but 3 weeks later they made me hypomanic. I stayed on them for a year or two then thought it was probably best to have less hypomanic episodes, so I stopped taking the meds and now have less hypomanic episodes but now deal with short but intense depressive episodes.

For the 6-7 years I’ve been aware of my mental health issues I’ve had to develop my own coping mechanisms to deal with them and stay positive about where my life is heading, and just keep getting through everyday. There were no social lessons after my autism diagnosis. I’ve been teaching myself how to read body language, mimic it and how to start and keep conversations going and everything about social customs, except hierarchies because fuck that shit. I can learn social skills, apply them but I’m not joining the collective consciousness that tells you what’s a suitable subject to like, or a suitable way to dress and to only surround yourself with suitable people. If you’ve ever made fun of someone for liking a subject you felt was too nerdy or strange, or laughed at the way they dressed, or thought yourself smarter than them then you are a part of that consciousness.

Likewise, I’ve had to learn similar ways about how to minimize my symptoms of mental illness. It’s been less about learning things from others – although everything I’ve learned from social behaviour can help me regulate my own emotions around them – but is more about employing self-therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy or using the only helpful advice a psychologist told me about anxiety: the thoughts are in no way based in reality.

My seizures and hypoglycemia are controlled through strict dieting; no caffeine, very little alcohol, nothing high in sugar or salt. Because of my often low blood sugar I have to eat small meals every 1-2 hours, sometimes I can get away with not eating until 4 hours later. But if I put off eating when I begin to feel weak and light headed I can end up fainting, but usually just experience a lot of pain, particularly in the stomach and arm muscles. And migraines.

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Getting back to mental health awareness campaigns, I think they’re helpful, needed but they need to expand. They need to work out a way to include everyone who suffers from mental health issues and let people tell their stories. Every R U OK? Day I tell people to share their experience with mental illness. At first it was something I just ranted about but it took off and I just thought this isn’t such a bad thing to do. R U OK Day? is usually a day when people are encouraged to ask people ‘are you ok?’ and it angers me because they’re just doing it because they got told to, and they’re just going around asking everyone that. The day is actually about opening up the conversation on mental health so I’ve hijacked the day to encourage everyone going through mental illness to share their story, current feelings and where they think mental health awareness should be heading.

There was another mental health awareness campaign launched in Australia called Mental As. The ABC showed a range of programmes centered on various mental health issues from all walks of life. It was a great way to spread mental health awareness by showing how it affects a variety of people, like comedians, actual residents in a mental institution and people who were living normal lives that were disrupted by suddenly developing bipolar disorder, but there was a strong emphasis on mental illness being overcome or people handling their bipolar on medication. Happy endings are great and all but they don’t reflect the reality for many people in low socio-economic areas who can’t access or afford the services they desperately need, and don’t forget about what I said about biased doctors earlier.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, director of the University College London’s Institute of Health and Equity, says that mental health issues are caused by the conditions of a lower working class, unemployment and lack of government spending towards public healthcare, and I think that can be true sometimes but I think for many of us those mental health issues are separate; genetic or triggered by the environment, and not just in the way Marmot thinks. I can certainly pinpoint the exact moments my mental health issues triggered because of environment stressors. I can give the date, time, location and even say what the type of weather was when my PTSD developed, but cannot give you any specifics of the actual event. Most of my anxiety and cyclic mood-like symptoms are basically permanent side effects to medication which is why I’m strongly opposed to drugs, all forms of medication except for codeine for severe muscle pain I experience.

But I’m not completely denying what Marmot says. Being low class and unemployed certainly adds to the stress and therefore exacerbates the symptoms of mental illness. I certainly experienced more suicidal thoughts when Tony Abbott proposed changes to the disability support pension and made all recipients under 35 years get re-assessed. Not one day went by when I didn’t feel extreme anxiety or depression. I even had a suicidal plan. My financial anxiety often got to that point in 2015. I actually became so manic that my words became unintelligible. It was my anxiety experienced during the assessment interview that made them decide to keep me of the DSP. And now with the Turnbull government forcing me to into work that has me two days a week looking for jobs that I don’t have stamina to do and none of the social skills the employer expects, I feel a mixture of anxiety, suicidal thoughts, apathy, and complete contempt of my job network consultants who are nothing but pawns of a Gilliard government plan to kick 400,000 disabled people off their pensions and into low paid work. They get no respect from me.

They could take a leaf out of the Centrelink whistleblower’s books and risk losing their jobs by doing the honorable thing and tell the public how much pressure the government wants them to put on people on disability and the dole to just get a job; bullying and  threatening to cut them off their payments at any sign of resistance. And believe me there’s a lot. Not a day goes by where not at least one person argues who gets passively aggressively talked down, or they end up storming out and risk getting their payment suspended.

There’s another source to my anxious and suicidal thoughts: Centrelink are through the Turnbull Liberal government using an automated system developed by the Labor government to weed out welfare cheats by comparing payments with income statements, and after they’ve found ‘evidence’ of the over payments they send out a letter declaring someone one welfare pay back up to $3000-$20,000 in over over payments. Problem is most of these declarations are false. It’s been proven that people either owe less or don’t owe any money at all, and at least 280,000 have received such letters, and the government has extended its number of victims to people on the aged care and disability support pension. People have already become suicidal over it but what do you expect will happen when they target people who are already dealing with suicidal thoughts? Now doing something as simple as checking the letter box gives me panic attacks.

So, there’s a lot more involved than just asking for help for mental health issues. Some people ask for help only to have their concerns shrugged off by doctors and there’s those who can’t even afford to get the right care, especially in Australia where GPs are refusing to bulk bill and the government tries more and more sneaky ways to privatize Medicare. I’m fortunate that I live close to a medical centre that still bulk bills. But with all the extra pressures of living with pre-existing mental health issues and living on handouts below the poverty line in low socio-economic areas with crime, deeply set racism, job instability and rising rates of unemployment and fearing that things will just get so much worse, there’s not a lot of hope people can have to receive treatment for their mental health issues even if they do ask for help.

UPDATE:

At the moment I am seeing a GP who is taking my concerns about having mitochondrial disease and chronic fatigue seriously. He has even given me bipolar assessment questions and has even tried to reassure me of my anxiety about having a blood test taken. And I’m finally looking into my foot pain from having very flat feet. It’s such a breath of fresh air to finally have a doctor that will listen to my concerns.

xSpycraft

Nightmares Coming True: Fear of Change in Autism

I’ll explain that title later.

Change. It’s a simply thing really. Something we all have to go through. We face it so many times every day that we barely have to think about it. It just happens. But for some people it’s a constant torture on the mind. If you have a basic concept on autism you know people with it are very rigid thinking, keep to a very strict routine that if broken may have them wailing like a banshee, or in high functioning people, makes them react loudly and violently in tears or in threats or their body and mind just shuts down. And that was just when Syfy changed the time and day they showed Stargate SG-1.

Change is very serious concern for those with autism and indeed this person with autism. By now I could consider myself completely overcoming autism if it wasn’t for the fact that I can be paralyzed in fear by sudden change. I know how to have conversations with people. I can do small talk. I don’t always make eye contact and I can still interpret things in very literal ways and have an incredibly logical mind.

Now to explain that title. Change does feel like a nightmare coming true. For those scared of change it’s always on their mind; it has to be because it feels worse when they didn’t prepare for it. So, they learn to always plan in advance for any surprises. In this way emotional reactions can be controlled because they play out scenarios in their head and in the comfort of their sanctuaries (their house, somewhere they feel safe) they can work out the best way to react to a new situation.

Recently, I’ve had to deal with change mostly by force. I had to start work in Western Sydney. My disability job operator met up with me at a train station and took me to the facility. The next day I did it all by myself. It was scary but I adapted and now I think Western Sydney is better than my own area. It’s quieter at least.

After I was able to do this by myself I thought I should be able to go further. So, I’m planning a trip to Melbourne to see my favourite band Dallas Crane. I’ve got AAA passes for me and my sister so I know I’ll at least be able to go to the show if tickets sellout. But I’m still trembling inside. I hate airports because I’ve never been to one before. By now I know everything that I should expect to happen there because I’ve been preparing for it for years but I haven’t stepped foot in one yet.

A few years back my family went to Portland and I didn’t go because a few days before the flight I didn’t want to go, even purposely kept myself sick so I wouldn’t have to go. Most people blame my mum because she actually asked me if I would be able to cope, but the thing is my sister in Portland really had to go to every effort to make me feel ok about going in the first place, and anxiety creeps up on you. Even when you put a show of strength it’s always there and the smallest thing can trigger it. So, I don’t blame my mum. I thank my mum for being the only one who understood what I was going through. I wasn’t ready to fly to Portland. I didn’t want to anyway. Another thing people need to learn is autistic people aren’t usually interested in the same things as other people and they can’t feign it at all. At the time I didn’t like weddings. I didn’t like the fake sentiments that people would show at them. And BBC’s Sherlock agrees with me.

The second time I was meant to catch a plane was to see another favourite band of mine, The Ape. I was all excited until my sister told me all about going to the airport and catching the plane in an attempt to calm my nervous. It didn’t work. I felt so anxious that I could even hold my head up and then I went to lie down on the couch and shook for a little while. Then I couldn’t even get free tickets to the show and it was over.

This time I’m not exactly anxious about the airport or the flight, yet. I am anxious about plane tickets being bought. I’m anxious about having to go on my own. I’m anxious about not being able to go and letting the band down. I’m anxious about letting myself down. I could easily ditch the whole idea and feel better again, but I would feel like a failure. I would still have not overcome this obstacle. For many years I’ve been building up on my social and what is called life skills. This is the next step and I know there are people who do this all the time. But they’re not autistic. And for those who are either get or have had help to get them to that point. It’s bad enough I’m beating myself up for letting myself and other people down that I don’t have to feel depressed over the fact that this is such a simple thing for someone to do.

So change sucks. In fact, lately my eating routine has been completely thrown out of whack that I’ve lost my appetite but still have hypoglycemic crashes. When I’m hungry I feel sick but don’t even feel like eating. That’s something else I have to deal with on top of this. My head is in such a mess that I don’t even know how I can begin to start organizing it again.

My last panic attack was when I had to go back to the location where I was almost mugged which began my 4 year PTSD. It’s not as bad today, well, I thought it wasn’t til I went back. I started to panic, feel restless and agitated and wiped away my tears in the rain. So close to home but so far away. And I did beat myself up about being unable to do something so simple. But then a voice in my head reminded me I have PTSD. It’s why labels are so important to me. I feel like less of a failed adult because of all these diagnosis’s I have. For example my ADHD usually makes me feel stupid. I can barely remember anything. I can barely focus on anything. Sometimes something ignorant slips out of my mouth. Lately I’ve been beating myself up about my mood disorder. Bipolar maybe. I don’t know. Doctors don’t care enough to do the assessment. So I can’t get the meds. I don’t even want the meds. Medication is nasty stuff. I learned my lesson after taking Ritalin.

I suppose when I meet a new person that I really like I don’t want them to know about all my problems but I know in time they will eventually be seen. I guess that’s what I’m just concerned about. And the whole change thing. And the fact that I don’t even know when and how much to eat.

And now I’m depressed. Again.

My Latest Breakdown

Trigger warning: Brief mention of suicidal thoughts. 

A few months ago I got a large letter in the post from Centrelink. For those not in Australia Centrelink is an unemployment service that provides payments to those who are struggling financially to make ends meet. In these last couple of years my psychiatrist had recommended I go on the disability support pension to take the stress off me from applying for jobs. And it was stressful. I would apply for ten jobs a fortnight, hear back from few employers for an interview and then be left waiting in nervous nail-biting anticipation to find out whether I got the job or not. I’d get a call but it was more for being told they went with someone else and that maybe I should try to be less nervous during interviews.

Being on the disability support pension did take the edge off. Unfortunately, I suffered worse mental health issues in that time and now I think I really depend on the pension to be able to live away from home. It’s a pity though because there was a point in my mid-twenties when everything seemed to be working out for me. I was so driven to succeed in any way I could. I was able to learn anything I put my mind to. I was medicated to focus, be motivated to do any dull task without giving it a second thought and I was hell bent on becoming a famous author, or a physicist, or even the first female combat pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force. But then the truth was finally revealed, which I’ve been writing about for a long time – it was just mania and I had developed bipolar disorder.

I’ve been thinking about that for a long time because I’ve still not received proper medical treatment for it which just seems dangerous and counterproductive to my future plans. I also at times struggle to see mania as a bad thing. Why did the great authors, artists and a few composers find success despite their bipolar when all it does to me is destroy my relationships, empty out my bank account and make it impossible for me to commit to an artistic project or anything else I’ve wanted to accomplish. Another obstacle in seeking treatment as it’s made me a much more sociable person. I used to be quiet, withdrawn and low on energy. Now I’m usually sociable, a chatter box really, and have bursts of intense energy for a few hours, sometimes a few days.

But all this combined with severe ADHD and severe anxiety and the eventual depression that always follows mania, has shown me that I’m more unfit for work than ever before. I may feel like I have more energy but I’m too impulsive and distracted to stick with any task. The only work I’ve been successful doing is volunteering for a music website called The Dwarf as a live band photographer. October has been my busiest month and I’ve been shooting bands non-stop and when I haven’t been shooting them I’m editing photos for days on end, to the detriment of my own physical health.

That letter from Centrelink was a review form for my disability pension support payments, and according to my psychiatrist this meant that the Prime Minister just wanted to kick people off the pension and send them to work. My much nicer translation is they were going through the list of people on the pension, under 35, with a fine-tooth comb, seeing who belonged on the pension and who didn’t. I was a red flag for them because I’m only down as has Asperger’s syndrome, and I’ve been getting letters saying that I could still participate in work, even if it’s just volunteering and I could even be trained up. Actually, there are going to be more services to train autistic people to get them into jobs. And all this time I thought the government didn’t care about us? That was sarcasm.

There were a few hiccoughs getting this form filled out. For starters the second part of the form had to be filled out my doctor and at this time I didn’t want to see my psychiatrist. He’s ignored my plea to be assessed for a mood disorder so many times, even when my mood journal was plastered with suicidal thoughts. At this time I was desperate for a diagnosis and medication. I had stopped taking Ritalin full time late last year and my depression and anxiety was very hard to deal with, to not alter my own personality. What I mean by that is I listened to the thoughts and believed them and my mind and lifestyle was changed to accommodate for those thoughts. Since I went on anti-depressant medication it’s been easier to see those thoughts as merely symptoms and they don’t become a part of me. At first the medication completely dulled my mood or rather equalized them which felt like losing my personality, and then I adjusted. Then the mood issues came back.

Previously to finding this form in my mailbox I had successfully been able to keep my suicidal thoughts at bay. But because of the fact that if this form was not handed in I could have lost my pension this played on the most severest of my anxieties – financial instability. It goes like this: if I don’t have enough money to buy food then suddenly I see myself living on the streets and eventually dying. My poor sister has witnessed my many panic attacks over paying rent when I didn’t feel secure enough with the amount of money in my account. This anxiety turns to blaming everyone for causing the anxiety (sorry sis) and feeling like rampaging through the streets because anxiety and anger mixed together gives one a lot of manic energy. You just have to smash, throw, yell it out of you. But all I smash is my possessions, sometimes expensive and rare sci-fi paraphernalia. I throw my possessions too. And I yell at the air.

But then the suicidal thoughts came back, and not just feeling worthless but planning how and when to commit suicide. Then I found another way to want to stay alive. It has to do with not wanting to make a friend hurt over the suicide over a friend all over again. But I still have to deal with very intense suicidal thoughts even if I don’t plan on killing myself, and it’s a horrible thing to go through every couple of days.

So, me and my sister went searching for a new psychiatrist but time was running out to hand these forms in so I had to wait hours in Centrelink waiting to just see someone, because on calling their hotline made me extremely anxious because I didn’t know how to follow the prompts given to me by a robotic voice. In the waiting area at Centrelink I every half hour discretely ate a snack so I didn’t have a hypoglycemic attack. I still did and felt really weak, dizzy and had blurred vision where I’d just stare around like most autistic people do when they’re under stress. My anxiety was intense too and I started to get in my angry ranty mood where my thoughts turned to violence. I was kind of seeing the worst case scenario in my head. I think it ended with me being institutionalized.

I got the extension on the time to hand in the form but it was recommended I see a doctor who knew me well. That meant going back to mood disorder-denying ‘you just have to work and socialse more to overcome your anxiety/depression/mania’ biased as f**k psychiatrist. Fine. So, I called him up. The next appointment fell on the day my form had to be handed in. Now I don’t know why I didn’t ask for another extension after that, even just one more day, but I didn’t. I’m starting to think I make myself paranoid on purpose. Just so I worry about everything falling apart constantly so everything turns out fine in the end. And now I need to find some wood to knock on.

Basically, if one thing went wrong then the end of the world would come. I even started to refer to October 20, the day of the deadline, as the day the world ends. I think this is why I overcommitted to my band photography. On one hand I was glad that I finally could get to shoot the kind of shows I wanted to, on the other I could lose all this if I was to be cut from the pension, have my payments sliced in half and most of my time taken up by applying for jobs or working in a field I was not even remotely passionate about. I even have myself a bit of a fan following. People have told me it’s a waste of my talent to not do band photography. Even my ex was happy to hear I was still doing it. Nah. It’s not like that. We still mates.

For a few weeks I was able to ignore the looming deadline but in that last week my anxiety skyrocketed and I was still shooting shows and editing photos up to the day of my appointment with my psychiatrist and the end of the extension. And then it rained.

The appointment went fine actually. In the waiting room my writer’s block that triggered every time I thought about filling in my part of the form had miraculously disappeared and I scribbled down a bunch of answers. During the appointment I talked non-stop in nervous-manic energy as my psychiatrist filled out his part of the form, replying with the odd ‘mmhmm,’ to show he was listening to my ramble. I kept talking about my mood disorder symptoms of course, including my impulsive spending which he played down by saying I was buying things I needed – sure, I was just spending thousands instead of waiting until I could really afford to spend that much.

Afterwards, I was briskly walking to Wollongong Centrelink in the rain. I had scoped out two Centrelink buildings before my appointment – as I had arrived more than 1 hour early – to put my mind more at ease. The people inside this Centrelink were nice and friendly, compared to the rush-shove too serious service I get from my local one in Leichardt. I was told that I could leave my form there and that everything will be alright.

Finally satisfied that I was given some clarification about my payments continuing I celebrated my buying underwear, socks and a checkered jacket for only $12.50.  I had one of the most scrumptious Mexican lunches at one restaurant too. And as soon as I arrived at the train station there was a train going to the city waiting for me. I even got to catch the bus home, which was free instead of me forking out some $20 for a taxi home. So, things just seemed to fall in place for me that day.

I thought this meant the breakdown was over but I was wrong. That night I was exhausted and being used to this after dealing with stressful situations I just went with it. But the following day’s things didn’t get better. It was hard to adjust to my normal daily life and I fell into a comfort zone where I didn’t try to push myself more. I thought maybe I needed it after going through months of extreme anxiety, but it was hard to break out of. I didn’t even want to go to another show to photograph a band or edit the remaining band photos. I procrastinated writing this blog post for a very long time. I began to watch a lot of TV or spend most of my time on Facebook.

I’m not even sure if things are better now. I’ve decided to plan my days thoroughly so I won’t have large chunks of the day where I’ve got nothing to do so spend them watching TV or saying stupid things on Facebook. I think my afternoon vodka drinking session which of course made me more manic yesterday taught me that I needed to get more control over my life and especially my emotions, which meant fighting against those impulsive desires. I never been good at avoiding impulses because they’re impulses – you act on them before you even know you are – but if I commit to something that needs more focus and thus requires me to take more focus aides (fish oil) then there may be less opportunity for these impulses to surface at all. And I have decided to put all leisurely activities as lesser priorities, which means TV and internet leisure time happens at the end of the day.

So, I’m looking forward to getting more organised and focusing more on my art, which now means Christmas cards or perhaps a nice canvas painting as a gift. I’m not sure. I haven’t done it in ages. It’s my natural talent but I still need to practice it to create some real masterpieces.

I’m also hoping I get to photograph my favourite band from my childhood, The Living End, this Friday and again on the 6th of November. Then after that I’ve got a few more gigs to shoot and also a visit from my mum. I do like to keep busy. I’ve been walking a lot more too to help with mood and focus. And I have another appointment with Centrelink next month to keep me on my toes, somewhat literally. I’m just going to keep on doing my photography, playing my therapeutic video games, and having Christmas with my family. Next year is about taking my photography professional. I need to learn more about taking promotional band photos though. I think I’d do better with getting a professional photographer friend acting as my mentor rather than studying in a classroom. My untreated moods, ADHD and my more anti-social symptoms would make it an impossible task to accomplish.

revealed, which I’ve been writing about for a long time – it was just mania and I had developed bipolar disorder.

Stigma? What Stigma?

Hey peeps! Look who’s back writing another blog post. I told you I would. So, I’ve been following the ABC’s coverage of mental health awareness on TV and on social media and I’ve been impressed with the many forms of awareness they are using. After all, we all experience it differently. They’ve taken a ‘mental illness is an everybody thing’ approach to it, which I do understand – we all like to relate to each other – but for some of us mental illness can be genetic and our type of mental illness does not affect everyone. Some of us – ok me – believe that this type of mental illness is non-recoverable and it’s there for life and we’ve just got to deal with it the best we can. Of course, recovering from any mental illness is a difficult road to go down. I’ve had various forms and severities of social anxiety for most of my life. It took my voice away in childhood. And I still have some non-inherited forms of mental illness to overcome like PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder.

So, what is this inherited form of mental illness, I hear you say? Well, it’s a mood disorder, most likely bipolar 2. It triggered in my early 20s after I took any type of prescription med. I’m not here to criticize the Pharmaceutical industry. The medication worked for what it was designed for, it’s just that it did something else, which doesn’t happen to all people, just people with a family history of mood disorders. So kids: always look at your family medical history before taking drugs, especially the ones your teacher says you should be on.

Bipolar is my newest constant companion, together with autism and ADHD I really don’t know what each day will be like. I can wake up one morning and have little energy and at some part of the day or night be unable to contain my energy. I randomly go on spending sprees, say things to people I forget and commit to things without giving it much thought. Then at some point in an extreme exhausted state I may crash into a deep dark depression. Even writing about it changes my mood state so I’ve got to be careful.

First, negative thoughts seep in after days of over confidence. I go from thinking everything is possible and everyone loves me to doubts about my abilities to questioning who my friends really are. Then comes the pessimism and a cynical view of the world and the cruelest sarcasm towards people you could ever think I was capable of. And then I just keep sliding down, down, down. To the point I become incapable of making myself meals or can even get out of bed. My mind turns on a loop of very vivid thoughts of suicide; the moment before, the act and me gazing down at the world following my suicide. Then after a couple of hours I cycle out of it. I become hypomanic again. It’s an all-round positive mood, energetic and ready to give the world a big giant bear hug.

I know a few people who have actually had their friends commit suicide and it made me feel very uncomfortable and guilty to be around them and hear them going through that mourning process. I never used to empathise with people when thinking suicidal thoughts and people’s poor choice of words to comfort or encourage a deeply depressed person to rethink their decision didn’t help either. I couldn’t see things from the point of view of a suicide survivor and copped a lot of abuse for that. But I’m used to it. My old blog was trolled so much I had to delete it but I’m back and expecting it now so whatevs.

Then, when I became deeply depressed again, despite being on anti-depressants, I started to think about one friend in particular who had lost a friend who I didn’t want to upset again if I did kill myself. And I certainly didn’t want my friends and family to develop a mental illness because of the shock of my own suicide. Before I didn’t think they’d be a shock because I talked about it so much – I even think I wrote a status update that was an equivalent to a suicide note. Luckily, a few friends got behind me and started to encourage me and I felt better.

Now when deeply depressed, if I can’t avoid falling into it through constant gigging, playing video games, watching comedy and sci-fi, I will just experience it and focus more on the physical pain than emotional. Once I get control over my mind I can push my emotions in any direction. So, I will deny my depressed thoughts and just try to focus on the next mood cycle. I wouldn’t do this if I had unipolar depression but because I’m also a rapid cycler telling myself the feelings are just temporary works for me. So far.

I think in order for people to really grasp what bipolar is about I need to talk about my manic symptoms. First, I’ll explain the differences between hypomania and mania. Hypomania is the milder state but it’s a higher than usual ‘happy’ state to be in. You’re very motivated to do things, you might get a few creative ideas you’d like to try out and you want to be around people more. Together with the motivation and creative ideas you’ve got the energy to get everything done and you don’t even require that much rest or sleep.

Mania is the more serious state. I can only tell I’m manic by the wired-like stimulated state of my brain. I have non-stop racing thoughts, overflowing with 10 to 200 creative ideas I must accomplish NOW! I’m restless and anxious and my skin tingles in discomfort. Sounds are louder, lights are brighter- every sense is turned up way loud. This is the state you become delusional and psychotic in. You have higher ideas. You feel like you are enlightened and that everyone else is intellectually inferior to you. They can’t see what you can see. They’re stuck in this stiff collared world of facts and reason, and not into the Jungian dream-like utopia that you slipped in through the smallest crack in the universe. You have more energy than you’ve ever dreamed of and your legs don’t stop moving for days. You’ll pay for it later. You know depression will come but you tell yourself you’ll be like this forever, although, to be honest, you just want to go back to hypomania.

It’s not always so positive though. Mania and hypomania have an opposite evil twin. It’s sometimes called dysphoria or dark mania – it’s the ugly pessimistic and paranoid face of bipolar. Much of it is mixed with symptoms of anxiety and depression, though I’m still unsure if this is what constitutes a ‘mixed episode.’ You snap and yell and rant at people. At worst you have paranoid delusions about them. You’re impatient, anxious, losing confidence in yourself but still have a flair of arrogance about you. You still have all the energy of mania but all positivity is gone. This is actually the most dangerous state to be in because if feeling suicidal you’re impulsive enough to do it. You’re definitely ‘not in your own mind.’ People can become violent when like this.

Above I said mania was like a drug and indeed it is but no one goes on a constant high for days or months without making some mistakes. Those can be overspending, sharing your delusional ‘enlightened’ ideas with people, just ranting and raving and ending up in places you can’t remember how you got to. There’s a trail of destruction you’ve either got to clear up or run away from. You interact with a lot of people during this time, people who you may have to see again when you return to normal, unless you’re rapid cycling – if that’s the case then you’re probably going to repeat the same mistakes again.

In my first year of taking Ritalin for ADHD every dose made me manic, from at least day two of taking the drug. So I spent a whole year basically manic. Depression never came because I’d just take another dose. Eventually it did hit at the end of the year where I was also experiencing clusters of seizures. I was just waiting to die basically. I’d come up with some wild themes for my science fiction stories and books on Jung or Synchronicity took my mind into a new and exciting realm. It was incredible but it wasn’t real. Some of my delusions were very damaging to my mental health. I became obsessed with people, people I acted like I knew well and was destined to be with. That is one place I do not want to go to again. I thought I would never recover but my medication for anxiety has helped make that world disappear. I finally feel sane again.

The title of this post is kind of confusing but what I mean by that is before I was even aware there was such a stigma around mental illness, well, I sort of always talked about it as though I was talking about a hobby. I find psychology and neuroscience to be fascinating subjects and my underdeveloped social skills could not pick up that I may have been making people feel uncomfortable. I actually had to be told by someone that people might not want to be around me if I kept talking about it. Then after I was trolled severely after writing many manic fueled blog posts before I even realised that I could even be bipolar, I decided maybe I’ll just cut back on posting about mental illness and ADHD and autism. But lately I’ve been thinking censoring myself and giving in to the stigma just makes the stigma of mental illness even stronger and I felt better being open and honest about all my mental health issues and atypical neurological wirings. So, while I still may be aware that I’m making people uncomfortable I can just ignore it and keep on talking, or writing. It’s not like anyone will tell me when I make them feel uncomfortable.

October is even ADHD Awareness Month and because I’ve been unable to write my blog about inattentive ADHD, I’ve just been posting a few things on social media. I will eventually write that post though.

I also find educating myself about my illnesses, neurological disorders and other ailments makes me develop the best coping skills for dealing with them. I’m untreated bipolar only on anti-depressants for my severe anxiety, so the only treatment I can do is problem solving skills. Okay so I may have spent $300 or more in the last week and I’ve been mouthing off/ranting a lot and my upcoming gig list keeps growing because I’ve finally got the opportunity to photograph what bands I want, even the ones I need media access to, and not just photographing bands keeps me sane, but the preparation keeps me looking forward to something. Then there’s my recently reignited video game addiction which I really think helps keep my depression from triggering. I just get exhausted now which is ok. I’d rather have the tiredness and lack of motivation that comes with depression without any of the emotions.

So, this is me. A life of mental illness and unique brain structure. There’s no stigma here. It’s just my life. It’s wild, it’s messy, sometimes boring, other times exciting, scary, frustrating and then something unexpected happens.

The Elephant in the Room is Bipolar

robin_williams_cnn

In the wake of Robin Williams’s suicide something surprising has happened; sufferers of depression have come out of the shadows to share their struggles with this terrible illness. Even before this the stigma that has surrounded depression for many decades has begun to slowly be erased with sport athletes opening up about their struggles with depression. And now acceptance for depression as a real mental disorder is higher than ever and it coincides with ABC TV Australia’s announcement about a new initiative to raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental illness, which will happen in October. People have not only started to share their stories about living with depression but those who have been untreated for so long have finally gone out to seek help. Lifeline has been inundated with calls of people who may have been on the very brink of suicide. Real lives have been saved.

This is fantastic and I’m very happy to see the stigma of depression disappearing but I only wish the same would happen for sufferers of bipolar disorder. It’s well known that Robin Williams fits the description of someone with bipolar disorder. You just have to watch him in interviews. He himself has also called himself manic a number of times. Few who have that much hyperactivity rarely have bipolar disorder, unless they have ADHD but it begins in childhood and Robin was shy as a child, as was I – I’m actually glad we have that in common. One other I can think of on the bipolar spectrum who was shy as a child was 60s folk singer Phil Ochs who took his own life at 35.

Out of all my reading up of news articles about Robin Williams’s death only one says he was suspected to have bipolar. Now I’m not saying I know for sure what the cause of his depression was – we now know he had depression from having heart surgery and Parkinson’s disease – but I still think bipolar needs to be properly explained. There are still people out there who can’t understand how someone so funny could end his own life. And from some programs I’ve watched they have tried to find a link between comedians and depression. I used to think such things myself but it’s more likely the depression is manic depression.

I can understand why people would rather leave the bipolar issue out, because they want to remember the man as a man, not as a diagnosis or label. We can still say he struggled with bipolar as much as we are saying he suffered from depression. I just think it will help those confused by his suicide understand his choice a lot better. Soon I will talk in detail about bipolar, especially the depression as it manifests as a comedown from mania. First I want to talk about who Robin Williams was to me and how I will remember him.

The first memory I had of becoming familiar with the name ‘Robin Williams’ was from watching Aladdin. It was my favourite Disney film at the time. I love him as Genie and soon began to quote him every chance I got. Kids like me just loved the energy he gave to the role, the switching between personalities and I even got a bit choked up around his emotional moments. To adults on the outside I looked like an emotionless kid who didn’t have a clue what was going on around me. Later I would be diagnosed with autism. But when I could really connect with a character I began to empathise more, even if on the outside I was as solid and as expressionless as a rock.

I watched a lot of Robin’s family films in the 90s. His soft gentle voice made me think of him as either that favourite teacher or a father figure. Father figures would come in many forms for me as I didn’t see a lot of my father. I’m glad I didn’t see any of his stand up or his more adult movies because given my Christian upbringing I may have been turned off of him by it, but now that I’m an adult and have a pretty dirty mind myself and I had to push those thoughts deep down inside me while I attended church, I enjoy all that stuff now. I think his best film for me was Dead Poets Society even if my young eyes were focused more on the shy character Ethan Hawke played. I have not seen the film in years so I may have to revisit it. I just remember watching that movie over and over again and loving it. I loved Jack too because I loved how believable he was as a 10 year old. I was probably around that age myself when I saw the film. An adult that had the personality of a child was something I aspired to be, although I really didn’t have to put much work into it.

Like I mentioned before I was a shy child and I’m still surprised by how much I’ve changed. I used to tag along behind my friends and now I’m like the class clown. Sometimes I think my humor is a little bit too weird, too crude and about things no one can relate with, but people seem to like me. Now, I suspect I may have bipolar and the reason why I talk like I’m sure I have it is I don’t think I’ll ever be diagnosed or medicated for it properly. Doctors are either too biased so shut down my suggestions for an assessment just to rule it out, or unqualified, or their fees are too steep. It makes it hard for me to get help. And lately I’ve been wrestling with the thought that mania could actually be a bad thing. Last time I was constantly on the move for two days, I spent over $300 and I crashed so hard and it was my first depressive episode since being on anti-depressants but I’m always so energetic, the creative ideas come so fast they are spilling out of my brain, I’m more social, more willing to take risks and I just know people think I’m a lot of fun.

I also know I come up with questions people never want to answer, like would Robin Williams be the same without his mania? People who have received treatment for bipolar always seem to avoid talking about the good parts of mania and I tried my best to name it as a negative force, just a part of the mental illness, but I fell behind in my productivity. I’m a very logical person. I can put things together. It’s still a question I don’t want to answer. One could say if Robin Williams didn’t have mania he wouldn’t have killed himself, but maybe even without there would still be depression. I just remember when I was coming off Ritalin because it was basically speed to me and I knew it would take a whole lot away from me. I even warned people I might not be as social as I was on the meds. That didn’t exactly happen. The change was permanent. The only difference was I didn’t speed through my sentences. Now I’m not saying everyone’s experience with Ritalin will be like this but it’s more likely to be if you have bipolar or a family history of it.

The most important part I want to touch on is the depression that follows mania. There are the usual symptoms of depression; they sort of bleed through while still manic. You can start to doubt yourself after having so much confidence about yourself, or something in the environment can trigger you; someone giving you negative feedback or hearing some sad news, or simply being unable to sweep your disappointed about something under the rug. I usually choose to ignore the trigger but once it happens depression is going to rear its ugly head and may stick around for some days, or for the most common types of bipolar, many weeks and months. For me, the positive kind of mania begins to disappear and is replaced with this monstrous angry monster, sometimes known as dark mania or agitated depression. I would get in some very ferocious fights with friends that when my mood returned to normal I would decide it was best if I got those people out of my life to save myself from them. I did this once a month and almost decided to end it with my best friend, but she wasn’t having it, so I had to learn to really empathise with her a bit more and things have been fine ever since. Once the mania is over you are left with exhaustion. Both cognitive and motor functions slow down. You barely get to complete a thought, your memory worsens, and it’s a lot harder to get a coherent sentence out of your mouth. You can barely get out of bed or make your own meals. You’re either full of intense and painful melancholy or extreme anger.

You don’t want to be around people. They anger you for just being there, particularly if they’re in a cheerful mood. You begin to feel guilty for the way you acted during the manic episode, especially the money you spent. There’s a lot of memory loss about what you got up to. Sometimes you want that memory so you can remember how happy you were because happiness seems the hardest emotion to achieve right now. You’re full of self-doubt, hate and may become cynical. Eventually, the lingering thoughts turn to how difficult everything is suddenly for you and it’s just too hard to go on. Then the suicidal thoughts start. For me and my highly vivid imagination they always end up being graphic scenes involving the moments before the attempt and the reaction of people after it. Blame my imagination and lifelong obsession with film and desire to be a screenwriter, but I can always turn these thoughts and images around to lead to a positive conclusion and the whole depressive episode ends.

What I’m trying to illustrate here is that the depression in bipolar is different than just stand alone depression. All depression is really serious but that added exhaustion and guilt has really made an impact on my own plans for suicide. There is more hope for those of us who cycle from one mood into the other: the depression will end, but when?

Robin Williams’s death is a real tragedy and for a few of us with bipolar disorder who have more of a handle on our depression we’re now unsure of our own future. Not only was Robin Williams more successful than us (some of us don’t even have jobs or have any hope to get into another romantic relationship) but he was older than us and I was led to believe the more experience you have with depression the more you have a handle on those thoughts, but that’s not always the case. Maybe it was simple matter of having depression x3 including a chronic illness that just made him give up, but we’re all just so shaken by it.

Whatever the reason he is gone now and that hurts a whole lot of people. From the 90s kids who enjoyed his family movies, to the older generation who loved his stand-up, even got so influenced by it it shows up in their own comedy routine (Jimmy Fallon), to those who enjoyed his later more mature films.

But he’ll always be my Captain.

So Long, Anxiety! (Sort Of), Part 1

I’ve been taking anti-depressants for 19 days – so almost 3 weeks – and I pretty much think I’ve experienced all the benefits and side effects this medication can give me. Maybe there’s still a bit more change to see in me because I know when I first took these meds I had completely changed. I lost all interest in all my hobbies and didn’t really need to stick to a routine anymore, nor did change bother me. This time my interests in my hobbies have stayed intact, in fact, I’ve become very much in love with Star Trek all over again and have started to fall in love with Adventure Time.

Although I have days where I’m low on energy and feeling both lethargic and apathetic and need to give myself a swift kick up the butt to keep doing the usual things I do in a day, I’ve also found on my more hyper days that I’m, well, more hyper and that never happened last time. My meds don’t seem to work as well on those days. Usually the medication makes me less impulsive which is a welcome change, especially when I look back on my history of impulsive purchases, but when I’m in this hyper mood I become impulsive again. On the plus side my concerns about losing my creativity when on these meds seems to be eased when I’m hyper because my mind will go to many fantastic places without even trying to conjure up some type of creative idea. They come to me spontaneously. Then there are times on these meds where I don’t seem to have an imagination at all.

I know I said in my last post how I didn’t think I had bipolar if the meds worked but I think that might have been a bit pre-mature. The good news is the depression and anxiety is controlled when I would be in a normally low mood but in the higher states it seems anxiety is just more manageable but still present, while depression is mild but OCD-like symptoms have become worse. I just know I’ve been washing my hands a lot. I’ve even had to remind myself of the times when I was young and I went many hours without washing my hands after petting the dog, playing outside and eating sweets and I never got sick over it. 

My major test comes in just 8 days where I have to face my fear of going to a place I’m unfamiliar with just to see one of my favourite singers. Sometimes I feel like I can do it but at night when my meds wear off my doubts begin to resurface and linger. I’m trying to tell myself it will be ok. I mean, I’m hardly worried about going overseas compared to how I’m worried over getting to a venue and returning home in one night so close to where I live. I may also have to muster up a lot of courage to approach and talk to this singer for reasons I’d rather not disclose yet just in case a certain someone may happen to be reading this post.

Overall the medication has been good for me. Early in my treatment I felt uncomfortable being around people and was impatient and anti-social around them, but now I’ve gotten used to the meds I can be in the same room with people and talk to them. When I’m in a rush though I do blow them off. I go from being tired to active to tired again many times in the day but it’s just a bit more extreme than what I’m used to. I usually speed my way through tasks and end up using up all my energy in one go so I’m used to taking a lot of breaks and eating a lot of food just to jolt me back into action. Speaking of eating, the medication has increased my appetite which I was able to deal with by changing my eating habits around. I never did return to having a usual appetite after Ritalin left me with appetite suppression. But now my appetite has seemed to become more or less normal – according to the way I see other people eat – so I only needed to add a few more snacks to my shopping list. At first I didn’t care much about putting on weight because I now have a different view on how I see body types – not everyone can or should be thin etc – but I don’t want to have to buy new clothes so I’m trying to stay the same weight.

The way I found out I had increased my appetite was kind of scary. I would wake up in the morning around 7am or earlier and because it’s been really cold out I just rolled over and tried to sleep in for one more hour (and then another and another) but by the time it was 9am my body would be in agony. The pain was so great that I have to currently be in that type of pain to correctly describe it. It was basically the most severe case of hypoglycemia. There was muscle tightness and light headedness, shaking, sweating etc. So, I started leaving a banana on my bedside table at night and eating it as soon as I got up gave me enough strength to go downstairs and get breakfast. During this time I was still eating very little during the day, because I usually don’t eat when I get hungry but at certain times when I usually get blood sugar crashes. I remember once I did wake up in pain because I didn’t eat much at all at night, so that was when I decided that I needed to eat more. And ever since I can wake up in the morning, roll over for just one more hour, and then finally get up even though my body is no longer in pain. Usually. I get up more for my two cats. They have to eat and I’m usually the only one who feeds them.

A downside to being on these meds is that it’s very hard to focus on reading, unless it’s Star Trek related. I’ve managed to read some of my Marvel Fact Files but I just can’t focus on a comic book. I’ve been watching a lot of TV during the day and even getting out of the house to go for walks. I was even reminded that my skin likes to go all bumpy when exposed to too much sunlight. It’s been almost impossible to write and explain myself properly, so being able to write all of this feels like a real miracle has happened. 

The meds do help with keeping my anxiety and depression low during the day and I stopped writing a to-do list. The only list I use now is a shopping list. There’s no harm in using a to-do list to stay more organised but it’s now all in my head. I’m not forgetting to do tasks as much as I used to. My nighttime routine has pretty much stayed as it is but I’m more flexible with it.

The meds don’t seem to be that miracle pill I was looking for but they are helping to make life easier for me. I’m not sure if they will help me become more independent and make it easier for me to manage the stress of being in a working environment, because I think my days on this disability pension are numbered. I’m both looking forward to that day and dreading it. Sometimes I wish my brain wasn’t so different. People say it’s good to be different, and it is, but when it comes with a whole lot of impairments that lead to mental illness, and without it life was tough anyway, and you can’t even get a job or survive on your own or even meet someone for lunch in a restaurant you’ve never been to before, being different suddenly becomes less desirable. If you’ve never had to rehearse a conversation in your head with just a few people you’ve only watched a distance for over a year you probably can’t understand the torture my mind can be under. The ‘what if it never happens,’ or ‘what if I make a fool out of myself’ or even ‘what if they don’t end up liking me’ and other such doubts swirl around my head in between extremely over confident bouts of ‘next time I will definitely say something – I was just tired/anxious/depressed/completely unprepared last time – yeah, it will definitely happen this time, I’ll make sure of it.’

But is what it is and at least there’s still a lot left for me to learn about Star Trek.

I probably shouldn’t go back on stimulants. I’ll just see how I go with being on anti-depressants and fish oil (for focus, motivation and energy) and I hope it doesn’t make me too manic.

One last side effect I’ve been having…well, I hope it’s not a side effect and just a result of the cold; I’ve been waking up every couple of hours after a very short sleep. I usually don’t sleep well but I’ve had a few nights a week when I got at least 6 hours…5 hours. Although my mind seems to be incredibly active when I do wake up so it might have to do with my more hyper mood, whatever may be causing it. It’s at least a fun mood to be in.

Anyway, I may update you all in another 3 weeks when I hopefully know more about what these meds are doing in me and if they begin to manage my symptoms of anxiety and depression better, and if I survive seeing one of my favourite singers in a big old scary venue, that’s only really scary because I haven’t been there for many years. And also I’ll probably be in Portland so I’ll let you all know about my adventures over there too.

My Uncertain Future

Tomorrow I have to sit down for one of my first Centre Link appointments in years to have an interview where I’m supposed to tell one of their Customer Service Officers how they should help me prepare for work or as they say, ‘increase my participation in the community.’

My highly anxious mind instantly made the connection between this appointment and the budget changes happening in parliament. Yes, I would not have to be going through this if my government wasn’t working so hard to bleed this country dry of every dollar so they could just have some extra luxuries, but I also do want to get off the pension eventually and work a basic job and from there gain more independence. The problem is for this to happen I really need this Customer Service Officer to really listen to me and not just throw me into any volunteer position.

What is really holding me back from working or even volunteering is my fear of change that I’ve had my entire life, but also the PTSD anxiety added to this that triggers paranoid feelings about having to be outside alone for a length of time. I realised when I did all I could to avoid going to see a GP that this was the case. I would have had to walk there and unlike walking to Centre Link would not be walking on many populated streets. Yes, I walked to Centre Link a few days ago because of the profound anxiety about missing my appointment and having my pension cut off. Welcome to my nightmare that is generalised anxiety disorder.

So, even though I desperately want to get help for some very severe mental health issues my anxiety is so severe that it’s keeping me from getting that help. The problem is that people who know me know I have all these issues, especially the anxiety because I can’t always hold it in but they think I’m capable of getting that help on my own, so they don’t say much more than ‘I think you should get some help.’

Anxiety turns into depression pretty fast and since hearing this news from Centre Link I’ve been less able to see my depressive thoughts as something temporary. I believe them. When you believe thoughts that tell you you’re nothing, nobody likes you or people are manipulating you and that there’s no way out, you’re more likely to listen to that voice that says, ‘kill yourself.’ I’m more likely to listen to that voice than people telling me not to and rehashing the usual ‘you’re so brilliant,’ or ‘you have so much to live for.’ Well, I guess I can be brilliant when I have much to live for when I work for the dole even though I’m not even emotionally able to be able to. Let’s see what happens. I keep thinking that after my first meltdown that I’ll be institutionalized. My future is probably in an institution because it takes becoming that much worse for people to see that I can’t cope on my own. That I actually needed help for my mental health issues yesterday. And by yesterday I mean two years ago.

I know my wording in this post is a bit extreme and I don’t care. I’ve been dealing with on/off suicidal thoughts and feelings and haven’t been able to tell anyone, because it’s all the same bullshit. People want to talk and tell you how much of a good person you are. People are basically just using the same tricks they use in a regular social situation which I despise even when I’m not depressed. They’re just saying it to make you feel better. I care more about the truth.

It also angers me to be told everything is going to be ok by people who don’t have to deal with half as much of what I go through. Usually they’re not autistic, have ADHD or a mood disorder too. I look at them like average people, people who had to struggle like I do everyday. So, I see their empathy as fake…then again I don’t always feel empathy toward people so maybe I’m the one who’s doing something wrong here. That’s gonna be great for my depression.

Anyway, back to this Work For the Dole thing. I’m not going to allow it. By that I mean my anxiety won’t even allow it. I have panic attacks over having to go to an area I’ve never been to before. I’ve tried to get to music venues I’m too afraid to go to for that reason alone and I can’t do it. And I wanted to see those bands a hell of a lot more than I want to do volunteer work. If this is to be just like Bush’s ‘Work For Welfare,’ programs in America where they send you on a bus and get you to work two jobs then that’s even worse. Good luck to these people if they think I’m going to be able to manage my anxiety and depression.

It doesn’t really matter what anyone says. If people aren’t willing to get me the help I need for mental health issues and help me transition to change better as well as taking into account my executive dysfunctions (ADHD symptoms), hypoglycemia, possible epilepsy and my autistic eccentricities, then nothing will change for me and I’ll remain highly anxious, depressed and suicidal. Don’t even get me started on how after everyone gives me an order or suggestion I think they are trying to manipulate and control me. They may also affect my eligibility to get and keep a job.

As far as I can tell my life is already over. Just put me on medication and I might be ok. If not then I won’t allow my brain to be put under any more torture. Because that’s what anxiety and depression is – it’s torture to my mind. You really want to know why people commit suicide? It’s because they don’t want to be tortured any longer and that’s the quickest escape. And who the hell thinks about their family and loved ones when they are under extreme physical pain? The depression alone puts their mind in such a state that tells them those people would be better off without them. I’m usually angry at them. Angry for not feeling the emotions I feel, having the thoughts I have and not caring because they don’t know that’s the way I’m feeling. It’s hard to think about people missing you when you’re angry at them, and that anger turns to hate. That’s just the way it is.

For the past couple of days I’ve just felt hate toward people. I don’t feel like I deserve to even be liked by anyone. I look at what I struggle to do and know most people can do those things with ease. Then I look at my skills and think most people who do something similar can do it better or they get more recognition than I do. I don’t even want to be around happy cheerful people and I feel like burning my Facebook news feed.

However, I do have a mood disorder and that mood can turn into complete euphoria where for a short time I think everything is going to be ok and I show a lot more motivation and have so much energy. But it doesn’t last. The higher I go the harder I crash. I will also around this time think I don’t need treatment for my mental health issues. This is a good time for people to stop listening to me and take me to get the treatment I desperately need. Because I may in a couple of hours start having a more positive mood which will grow and grow until I am yet again in a complete fantasy land.

This is the best I can do. If it gets ignored or brushed aside as just something else I’m saying during another depressive episode that I’ll soon overcome and no longer feel this way about, then nothing will change and you’ll all be about as neglectful and dismissive as my psychiatrist. Because from tomorrow things are going to change for me and my more negative emotions have already adapted to that change by becoming worse because they have to prepare for what is to come.

You can say I’m being selfish and manipulative but I just want these feelings to end. I’m a very unwell person and I have no idea what to do about it.