I feel like I can't trust anyone or anything. I'm becoming scared even to write here. I wish I didn't have to leave the house. Dreams and memories and things I've read over the years return to me, and they seem significant, like clues to a puzzle I need to solve.
I nearly didn't take my medication on Friday night but it became clear after a few hours that I wasn't going to sleep without it, and I couldn't cope with that. Sleep is my refuge from the fear, from the sense of being analysed and watched. By whom and for what purpose I'm not sure.
I wish this CPN had called me last week as I was told she would. I don't have friends or family to chase or insist on help for me and sometimes it's too hard to do it for myself. Sometimes I need the professionals to reach out to me when they know I'm struggling, to do what they promise.
I haven't been writing because I feel like I can't write. I feel like I can't think. I'm all muddle-headed. I'm bouncing between ideas I can't articulate, so I can't evaluate. I'm definitely not human, that's the only thing I know for sure. This alien presence in my brain has altered me. I want to stop taking the medication. I haven't done that yet, but I'm not sure how much longer I can keep taking it. I keep thinking it is poison, I keep thinking it is killing me. I can't work out why I have been altered but I feel I am in great danger. If I go to the GP they'll only call me crazy. No one will actually help me. I can't trust any of them.
So much fear. Just fear, fear, fear. It's exhausting. I'm tired of trying to be brave. I'm tired of trying to distract myself, trying to look after myself, trying to reassure myself. I'm not sure I can do it anymore.
I can't cope with the perceptions I'm having, the communications I'm receiving. It's becoming too much, it's becoming overwhelming. There are things I need to do today, but all I feel capable of is pulling a blanket over my head and hiding.
. . . as though I have a demon in my head, except I don't believe in demons. It keeps jumping up and down, flapping its arms and laughing wildly, and it wants me to do the same. I am resisting, even in the privacy of my own home, because it is only one small step from there to obeying in public, and I do quite enough leaping around in the supermarket and the streets when my mood is high.
This "demon", which I guess I could more accurately describe as a personified surge of insane elation that doesn't feel like part of me, is behind me on the left-hand side. I wonder if it is like this for other people, that voices and presences and inserted thoughts come from particular locations, have their own geography.
I seem to have lost my ability to read. I keep trying but somehow the sentences won't go in, and I end up throwing the book aside in frustration. And I am scared to watch stuff because of something I heard the last time I did. This leaves me at a bit of a loss. I don't know what to do with myself.
I should have a shower today. I really should. I know that, but something in me resists. I don't want to have a shower. I don't want to take my clothes off. I don't want to be clean. I find my own smell strangely comforting. And there is little else that is.
I went to the hospital to see my CPN this morning. She said I looked very tense and I told her some of what has started happening. She commented that I seemed slowed down and was taking a long time to put my words together. She notices these things, whereas I don't.
She said that there were three options. We could leave everything as it was, which ran the risk of things further deterioating. We could try another anti-psychotic, which would take time. Or we could increase the chlorpromazine. That seemed the best choice, so I'm going to start taking 150mg instead of 100mg.
She's going on holiday now so I can't see her until the 4th October, but she's going to ask another CPN from her team to call me next week to see how I am, and she's going to leave a note for my consultant in case she needs to get involved with my medication.
Waiting in the pharmacy for my prescription a voice suddenly piped up "That was an excellent performance girl. Well done, you've scored yourself some chlorpromazine". So that's screwing with me now.
On my way back I stopped in my own town. I really wanted to just go home but I needed some more cat food and I wanted to take back to the library some books that were no longer safe for me to read and pick up some about serial killers and the suchlike. Walking through the streets it felt as though everyone could tell what was going on in my head. I really hate that feeling. And then when I got to the library I couldn't get any books anyway because I couldn't afford to pay the fines on the ones I was returning. I hadn't realised how overdue they were. I did manage to find a couple of cheap ones in the supermarket but what I shall do when I've finished those I don't know.
So for now I guess the plan is the same: hunker down and try not to think. If I could decide whether I was ill or not it would make everything much easier, but I just can't figure it out.
There are only a few things I still remember now from the many years I spent at school: an extract from Ecclesiastes ("All is vanity"); the first time I read Wilfred Owen's "Dulce Et Decorum Est"; the diagrams we drew of rivers and the formation of deltas; and a programme we watched in primary school about the emotional power of music. They showed the same clip of a family picnic, the first time with cheerful, happy music, and then again with something more sinister. It amazed me how different the whole thing looked.
Nothing particular has happened in my life recently. I live in the same village, in the same house. The same books and other belongings surround me. I mostly do the same things and see the same people. But the background music has changed and everything seems significant and ominous and dark. I am experiencing almost constant fear.
It will be OK, it will be OK, it will be OK has become my mantra. My focus is survival. When you strip things down to the bone all that really matters is that I take good care of my animals and retain my self-control. It is very important, I think, not to spend too much time trying to figure out what is going on and what it all means.
So yesterday I picked up a couple of thrillers. Stories without too much depth, without, hopefully, any messages. Just good old murder and violence and the solving of crimes. It's hard to read, it exhausts me, but it does fill the time and somewhat distract me. And I have a couple of things lined up to watch tonight. And at least I still seem to be sleeping, even if rather erratically. If that changes I can always get some more promethazine.
I think one of the reasons I can sometimes be rather savage in my criticism of the concept of "Recovery" (as opposed to "recovery") is that I embraced it so wholeheartedly when I first became seriously unwell as a teenager. And over and over again in the time after. Yes, I've been trying to Recover since I was seventeen. I guess I must be really, really bad at it.
I tried the whole reject-psychiatry-and-medication-and-embark-on-a-journey-of-psychological-and-spiritual-healing thing. I tried all sorts of approaches. Hell, I was challenging thoughts and practicing mindfulness decades before these ideas became so fashionable (which is why I haven't always been graciously grateful when professionals have suggested them to me).
But somehow, despite all my optimism and best efforts, I kept becoming ill. Until eventually some persistent friends pushed and prodded and then downright insisted that I seek psychiatric help again. That hasn't been an entirely happy experience, but the combination of medication I take now does help. At least, it helps more than anything else ever has. I may not have been completely well this year but it has still been the best year I can remember since I was about fourteen.
But I have my doubts as to whether I will ever Recover according to my definition of it. Because they say that, that Recovery is a personal thing, whatever you define it to be. Maybe that's where I'm going wrong. I should change my definition, shift the goalposts and ta da, I can be Recovered too. My CPN often points out that I haven't seen the Crisis Team or been admitted to hospital for ages. And that is true and that is good. But I guess I've always hoped for something more. And I'm coming to wonder if I've just been unrealistic in that. Maybe things are always going to be this way. Maybe this is as good as it gets.
How can it be so hard to get in the shower? To do pretty much anything at all? How can it be possible to sleep so much? I keep doing things, but it seems I can only do one thing before feeling overwhelmed. Water the plants. Stop. Put on some washing. Stop. Change the sheets on the bed. Stop. It makes me feel pathetic.
It's weird to be this dull-headed and exhausted when a few weeks ago I was energetic and euphoric. How did that happen? I keep getting waves of dread and despair. It's not as though there aren't plenty of things going on in the world to cause dread and despair at the moment, but these feelings don't seem connected to anything, they don't seem to be attached to thoughts, they don't make sense. So I just curl up for a while and ride them out.
Trying to maintain an objective view of my situation though, trying to figure out ways to improve it, does at least diminish the volume of the voice, and I am more able to ignore it. It wants to take me down a dark road, it wants to shut out hope. And I won't have it.
I think I'm spending more time asleep than awake at the moment. It's ridiculous. How can I have gone from being breezy and bright-eyed on four hours to this exhaustion and lethargy? It makes all those thoughts about just being a naturally happy energetic person who didn't need much sleep seem utterly foolish. It's like I said yesterday, it's so easy when in one mood state to forget even the possibility of another. That's an error I seem particularly prone to.
My CPN phoned this morning and I have an appointment on Thursday. She said the first thing to do would probably be to reduce the chlorpromazine. Makes sense, since I clearly don't need to be taking anything the slightest bit sedating right now.
In the meantime I'm trying to think of things I can do to jazz myself up a bit. Hot showers. Body scrubs. Brisk walks. Sigh. And pushing myself as much as I can to keep taking care of myself and the house, because I know if I let everything slide I will only feel worse. I've been doing a bit of research on using turmeric for depression and wondering if it would be worth giving that a go. The trouble is that supplements and the suchlike cost money, and everything else just feels like so much effort.
But I really want to minimise the impact of this and get back on track as quickly as possible. I think episodes of illness are traumas in themselves, because when I remember how I have been in the past I feel terrified and sick. The memories are awful, and feeling like this again brings on something akin to flashbacks.
I guess what I'm trying to do at the moment is observe and document what is going on in order to maintain my awareness that my current perceptions and feelings aren't the truth about the world or my life. It's so easy to get swallowed up in a mood and forget that things have ever been, or ever will be, different.
Last night I woke around 1am to find I had no power. Went back to sleep and hoped it would be magically fixed by the morning, but it wasn't. No coffee. No computer. No BBC News 24. Woe. (I have a strange obsession with BBC News 24 and except when I'm actually watching something else have to have it on.) The feeling actually reminded me of being in hospital, and not being able to have my little comforts and routines. I remember waking at 5.30 and not being able to have a drink, not being able to have a cigarette, not being able to do anything except wait. Not having the internet for weeks. All adding to the feeling of being trapped.
A power cut is one of those ordinary little things that crop up in life, and that at other times I would deal with without a second thought, but in my current state of mind it immediately engendered feelings of not being to cope, and for a while I contemplated simply not dealing with it and just living without electricity because that seemed easier. But I knew that was ridiculous so I gave myself a little shake and made the necessary phone call. Spoke to a very nice man and then another very nice man arrived to sort it out. Turns out that in addition to the normal trip switch I have an earth trip here and something had happened in the network overnight to turn it off. Since I've always lived in houses with overhead cables I didn't know to look for it and check it. So I soon had electricity again, which was a huge relief.
I left a message for my CPN but she didn't get back to me. I appreciate she's probably busy, but I hope I hear from her tomorrow. It was hard enough making that first call, I don't think I could face chasing. It makes me feel like I am being a nuisance.
I've been very shaky and achy today and my vision is simply screwed. My moods always manifest so physically they really do make me feel ill. I've mostly been taking painkillers and resting in bed, curled up with the cat. I can tell it's becoming more autumnal because he keeps wanting to come underneath the duvet, not just sprawl on top of it.
As I struggle to move from my bed I am struck again by how physical and palpably real my moods are. The part of myself called "I" is only a small part, and "I" can think positively and practice mindfulness and do nice things for myself all I want, the rest of my brain and my body won't go along with the plan.
I ache all over and I feel completely exhausted. I still can't concentrate on anything. My vision is distorted and in addition to the voice giving me strict and fierce instructions one of the wormy ones keeps piping up, undermining my sense of reality and self. I am suffering washes of shame over being unwell, and an occasional sense of hopelessness about the future, though I'm trying to ward those feelings off.