Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Letter to Jason Pegler, author 'A Can of Maddness'

I have just read the book 'A Can of Madness' by Jason Pegler, and it prompted me to write to him this morning after he responded to a brief message.

Dear Jason,

Thank you so much for your reply! I am a 32 year old mother of 2 who has fairly recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. My first serious episode (well first contact with services any road!) was 5 weeks after the birth of my first daughter in 2003. Immediately after her birth became elated, irritable, distractable and couldn't sleep amongst others thing. This escalated to not sleeping for 3 days and being pretty psychotic believing she had been possessed by a 23 year old man called Daniel of all things. I had zero insight, which I felt terrible about owing to the fact that I am a registered mental nurse. Yes - one of those awful people who appears to pretend to care, but more interested in the tabloids! Hopefully I'm not one of those nurses, but I am painfully aware of the presence of these people throughout the world of mental health, and the negative impact they can have on both service users, their families and colleagues.

I'm trying to make sense of things at the moment for myself, as well as nursing people who have severe and enduring mental illness in a NHS recovery and independent living unit. (Rehab). I work with predominantly young blokes in their 20s who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder who have essentially been through a very tough time due to the both nature of their illness, lack of insight, and a medical approach that often seems focused on managing the crisis, but not equipping people with the skills to help themselves because we are not very good at really trying to understand each individuals experience of their illness. I get the feeling these people feel written off, and due to being treated as their diagnosis, their diagnosis has become absolutely central to their identity, but in a rather negative way. I am fortunate now to work win a place were most of the staff are signed up to true recovery, which has both helped me but also brought lots of my own thoughts and feeling to the surface. I get very frustrated by all the politics, bullshit and self justifying pompous arseholes who talk nothing but reassuring jargon, but in my view appear to be feathering the own nest in a positively self serving way.

I'm also in the process of challenging the Association of Post Natal Illness that their policy of rejecting applicants to telephone volunteers who are either 1. on psychotropic medication and 2. Have a diagnosis of BPD or other enduring mental health problems cannot volunteer. It seems they regard a person being off medication as an indicator of an individual being well -a view I oppose.

I am also writing a blog to try and monitor my thoughts, and mental state, and try to piece together the puzzle of my life. It's also preventing me from making lots a scribblings which i then look back on a bin because i think it's all crap. My only rule with my blog is not to delete anything i write, no matter how toe curlingly shite it is! I'm thinking a lot about how I can use my own experiences to positively influence the care of others, but I haven't got my head round my own 'stuff' yet. The worrying part is the more I try and get on with trying to get my head round it I become more driven with reading more, research, and writing which my husband worries is the beginnings of hypomania (again!) Bollocks.

So should I sit, accept and move on? Nah - I'll take the risk. Just hope I can stay focused enough and avoid going off at too many tangents and actually get something achieved. Also, another issue I am having problems is getting my head around being a service user and provider, and feel a bit guilty about this. Feel like a hypocrite for keeping my diagnosis a secret, but scared of being judged. I worry that people will doubt my professional judgement, and I will loose my credibility which I know in my heart is utter bullshit, but it is how I feel at the moment. I guess it doesn't sit comfortably with me yet, and I need to feel at peace with it first.

Do you feel a peace with who you are now? I feel like I don't even know who the real me is? I always thought that the real me, from my late teens, was what I can now see was a state of hypomania. Anything else was a bit boring and unconfident. Or was I just being teenage shit? God knows. Have you sorted it out in your head now? Do you know when your feelings and behaviours are just appropriate to your environment, or do you still wonder if your going a bit high or low. For me, insight had brought with it a hyper awareness of my moods, and a fear that I could tip over the edge at any time. Walking a tightrope in some ways. I periodically struggle with the overwhelming desire to just go with my mood if I'm on the up. It's like going on holiday and I love it. Those feelings are so very seductive eh? I just love how I feel then and wish that could be the permanent me instead of the horrible feeling that I'm turning into a self obsessed neurotic twat who gets on my own nerves.

Right - I'm going to press the send button because I know I will delete it if I think about it too long. Sorry about the "Inappropriate language" but it conveys perfectly how feel, and after having read your book I feel that you will understand.

Best wishes


PS. I don't actually know why I've written this as I'm not sure about writing a book coz it might make me bonkers. This always happens when I start writing, and talking, and reading. Don't know when to stop. Hope what I have written makes sense even if it is just a bit of a stream of consciousness......


Seratonin said...

Hi just letting you know Ihave linked to you on my blog.Also wanted to say about your OU study that you might not be aware you can let them know about your Bi Polar for support really.It will give you a bit of flexibility.
Am in process of registering for an OU course - not degree though.
Good luck with yours.

A Truly Registered Mental Nurse said...

Thanks sis - that info regarding OU study is really useful. I shall let you know how I get on. Do you find the blog thing helpful? I'm not sure if it's helping or just make me dwell on everything too much!

Seratonin said...

Yep I do find writing stuff down as cathartic.There is of course the fact I like getting the feedback (well not that I get thousands !)I've also been fascinated by & it is through this group blog that I actually started blogging.Not sure if you have checked it out yet, but is great.

Anonymous said...

Guess you have read An Unquiet Mind by Redfield Jamieson.

Another book on living with bipolar etc you should check out is The Naked Bird Watcher by Suzy Johnston and the websites she's got

She writes pretty insightful stuff and the best bit is she gives coping hints to manage the condition

She's also got a music website and has a cd on living with these issues

A Truly Registered Mental Nurse said...

Thankyou-no I haven't read The Naked Bird Watcher -I shall take a look x

Squirrel said...

You might want to read this which contains some interesting information about the guy behind Chipmunka Publishing and A Can Of Madness, particularly his attitudes towards rape.

Anonymous said...

The Cairn has further publications and information on its work on its updated website - they are doing lots of good stuff