Due to the positive feedback I got from my first blog I have decided to continue.
In my last blog I left question – What do I do next?
Well that is a pretty open question. After being in work almost continually since the age of eighteen it was weird to be jobless. Unfortunately I was too ill to work due to the combination of the bipolar, depression, dark thoughts and mood swings.
We, Sarah and I, had to fight to get everything we was entitled to. Housing benefit. Council Tax Benefit. Disability Living Allowance (DLA for short). Everything was difficult to obtain or a battle.
The biggest battle was the DLA. We had applied three times and had been rejected for it three times. And being in the place I was I was in no mood or fit state to continue fighting. I wanted to throw in the towel, to give up. It wasn’t until it finally went to a tribunal that we finally got DLA for me. It wasn’t much but as they say- every little helps.
It was exhausting and took a toll.
Thing is I found myself at a loose end. I mean I wasn’t doing anything, I felt like the most useless man on the planet. After years of earning a wage, being the breadwinner, being the sole provider for my family I was now none of these things. Things that gave me pride and purpose were taken away from me.
You end up watching daytime TV, playing video games, get bored staring at the walls, drinking tea until the kids come home from school. Being idle, even through illness, especially with a mental health issue like depression and bipolar is the worst thing I can think of.
Because you sit there and dwell and brood and simmer. The dark thoughts creep in like a suffocating cloud to taunt and ridicule you. The thoughts would make me both angry and sad.
You begin to loose your pride; you stop taking care of yourself by not eating, washing or caring for yourself. For Sarah it was like having an additional child. She had enough on her plate with our Kieran with his autism and additional needs to contend with, as well as our Brendan who was very young and crying out for attention.
There were times especially at night when I’d lay there in bed in the darkness and think horrible dark suicidal thoughts. I’d think about my past and about the person who triggered my breakdown.
The suicidal thoughts were insidious. I’d fantasise about the various ways to do myself in. Do I take an overdose, hang myself or step in front of a bus. It was disturbing how much I’d plan my end. The best way to counter these thoughts was to think of my two sons and wife. Would I want another man stepping into my shoes and my sons calling that man Father? How much of an impact on family and friends? – The consequences of my demise.
Death however is not the answer. It’s not an option.
I remember hearing about a suicide survivor who jumped from the golden gate bridge. He thought that his only solution was to end his life. However he said as he jumped from the bridge he realised on the way down that all his problems were solvable. So in the same breath my problems are solvable too.
I still get the dark thoughts from time to time. They’re not as prevalent or as intrusive as they used to be. Thanks to things like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) I now recognise and have strategies in place to deal with those horrible thoughts.
Now I needed a solution to my funk. I needed something to get me out of the house. I would access various treatments that were available to me. To be frank there really isn’t much support for people like me (or their families) with mental health issues and what there is, is stretched thin with long waiting lists of people wanting to access them. Some treatments are no more than a sticking plaster for an axe wound. The National Health Service doctors are great at doling out pills but when it comes to more holistic therapies there is a long way to go.
I was put on talking therapies. It’s weird to talk to a complete stranger about what messed you up. Their job was to guide and basically hold up a mirror to what I was telling them. With one therapist it took me five or six sessions before I gave them the name of the person who triggered my mental collapse, they were always referred to “that person”. I don’t even talk to Sarah about that person. It is far too painful a thing.
After a while I stopped going to therapy. The memories it dredged up were too uncomfortable for me to face. I needed something else to occupy me and get me out of this house.
A friend of mine at the bus company suggested I take up photography. Especially since I nearly always had a camera in my hand. So with some money I had put aside I bought a digital camera for £130 from the local supermarket.
I will talk about that in my next blog. If you have any comments or questions feel free to ask.