Tag Archives: Depression

Into the K-Hole?


So.  Ketamine.

Ketamine is an anaesthetic and also a pain-management drug, it’s mainly used as a horse tranquilizer and is not approved by the FDA.  It can have hallucinogenic effects and invoke feelings of detachment – a floaty, out-of-body type experience.  Ketamine’s a class B drug, so recreational use can get you into considerable trouble with the law…However it has been trialled as a short-term treatment for severe depression and there seem to be some positive outcomes.  It seems that the effects are not long-lasting but can  alleviate some of the worst symptoms of depression with relative speed.   Essentially it helps you begin to get your mojo back.

I like the sound of that.

It’s probably not going to arrive at a pharmacy near you any time soon, but it’s one to keep an eye on. In the meantime you’ll have to make do with trippy kids programmes and camomile tea.

Peace x


Your Brain on Bipolar

Well I’ve been tiptoeing around the web trying to find out what’s going on in the world of Mood Research and it’s made my brain ache a bit.  So many diagrams, so many long words.  Anyway, I’ve picked out a few choice things (that I vaguely understood)  to share with you.

Here goes…

It has been suggested that the manic-depressive episodes of bipolar disorder are the result of a kind of evolutionary  ‘feedback loop’ gone awry eg.  our successes generate confidence and failures a lack thereof.  This feedback loop misfires in bipolar disorder and creates an exaggerated perception of success/failure leading to an unbalanced sense of confidence (‘of course I can build a flying machine,  just one more empty washing up liquid bottle and we’re airborne!’) or inadequacy (‘ I failed to create a flying machine because I am a worthless mess of a human & will never know love’)  But, this doesn’t really explain why the feedback is all wonky in the first place, which is kind of what I want to know.

Research points to a genetic factor, according to The Black Dog Institute, having a  parent with BAD gives you a 10% chance of developing the disorder, rising to 40% if both of your parents have it.   It kind of goes without saying that stressful life events play a role in triggering symptoms of the disorder, but you can’t blame them for ‘causing’ it…and you’d need to have a word with your pineal gland and a whole raft of neurotransmitters to find out what on earth they are doing to make your moods bounce around so much.  Nobody’s worked out how to communicate with the little critters as yet.

Brain imaging though, seems to be making progress into picking out the general areas of the brain that are doing odd things in patients with bipolar disorder.  According to Psycheducation

Evidence is growing quite strong that a region of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex is underactive in people with bipolar disorder even when they are having no symptoms at all.

My basic understanding is that this underactive cortex wotsit is linked to decision-making and multi-tasking eg. difficulties with.  Makes sense.  And…this part of the brain has been shown to be more active in those taking mood medications.  Which implies correlation at least.


I’m still pretty sure my brain looks like this

My brain.  The Platypus situation needs some explanation.  Another time I promise.

but I can’t prove anything.  Yet.

Anyway, my next little wander round the net is going to involve Ketamine.  Reading about, not taking (the internet doesn’t need Ketamine.  It’s weird enough.  As am I)  Apparently it’s being trialled as a treatment…interesting…

Peace x

June Challenge: A bit of this…a bit of that

Just in case doing ‘a bit of this and that’ is a bit too vague a career plan, I’ve been investigating what sort of work might suit the predictably unpredictable brain.  It seems to me that flexibility is a key thing – for me anyway – so I’ve been looking at ways to work either from home, or in an area which allows time for a sideline…or in fact is a sideline…flexible see?

On my internet travels I wandered across a few random job ideas that had never occurred to me. If you like to get out and about you can earn a crust (and dig into one too) as a mystery shopper.  Having worked, once upon a time, in a chain-restaurant, I recall the fear of the mystery-customer and the awe that was inspired by colleagues who could spot them.   There was probably a book running on how long it would take me to spill their drinks.

If you’ve a good eye for detail but don’t wish to strike terror into the hearts of retail assistants and waiters  there is probably proof-reading and editing work that you can do from home, although you’ll have to be mindful of the work-from-home scammers and sales-pitches for expensive courses.  It’s a good idea to check out the legitimate training and employment opportunities here.

If you have a good ear for detail as well as the eye, and are a superspeedy-accurate typist, you could also look into working from home transcribing audio. 

Those with a teaching qualifications/experience could can register their tutoring/instructor credentials online through organisations such as Tutorhunt to find students or run a franchise (sounds like hard work, but y’know)  for a company such as Kumon.

There are even opportunities to teach courses online, here’s a Telegraph article about online learning with some handy links for would-be webeducators.

If you’ve something more creative in mind you might be able to get ideas and support from Creative Skillset.  I’m not sure they’ll support my idea for a cat-cafe in my living room though…apparently one cat does not a cat-cafe make, so I’ll have to continue my quest in order to figure out what to do when I grow up.

Peace x

June Challenge: Workhouse Fears…

So it’s good day/bad day here, but the good days are starting to win out.  Phew.  I’m still doing the meditation thing, which has calmed me down a bit, and tuning out my brain with what I suppose is a kind of white noise.  Since I never know if I’m going to spend my hours crackling with energy or kind of burned out, exercising has been an erratic endeavour…so mostly I run (shuffle-jog-wheeze)  to the supermarket 🙂  I must look to be a very hungry individual indeed.

To occupy the rest of my time I’ve been doodling again, finally getting some sleep (huzzah)  and, to prevent a hysterical spiral of ‘oh what have I done’ horrors,  turning my mind to possible ways of making a living once I’m well again.

Working for yourself seems to be a smart road to travel if you are of a mentally- interesting disposition, since it means you can, within reason, dictate your own hours and terms and potentially work from home (as long as you’ve got some support in case of the occasional brain-burp- could get messy otherwise).

Here are ’10 ways to ditch your job and work for yourself’ courtesy of Entrepreneur.com

The wisest place to start is by playing to your strengths, if your strengths happen to involve mathematical wizardry and a love of spreadsheets you could probably become a freelance book-keeeper; I am rubbish at maths so this won’t feature in any of my plans, but you get the gist.

If you happen to have a passion for the things you’re good at, well, all the better, although if you make it your career it’s still ‘work’ as Forbes’ Chrissy Scivicque explains    and this could well chip away at your passion after a while…

Good at arts-and-crafts-y stuff?   Champion knitter? Then you already have money-making potential.  Etsy is the obvious place to market your goods.  You can check out their seller guidance here.  For what not-to-do  (and a tiny mean chuckle) you might want to also check out Regretsy…the baker’s equivalent is Cake Wrecks which has the power to make me cry laughing-tears.

Having said all that, I’m not sure how much of the above is going to apply to me… although I’m definitely a qualified cake-wrecker & a potential regrets-er.  I’ll keep thinking.  And occasionally twitching.

Peace x

Sorry May, it’s been emotional but it’s time to move on…

Jobhunting is a blast

Jobhunting is a blast

Woah, things got a bit intense back there.   I gave myself a proper fright, however I live to fight (shuffle, complain, mess about, whatever) another day.  Which is nice.

It’s not all been doom and gloom though – My partner, family and friends have been amazing.  I could get quite emotional talking about it, so I won’t, but we have some nice stuff  lined up for the next few weeks to keep me chipper.  I have also faced down a few facts and I have finally resigned from my job since I know it’s really bad for my neurons (stupid neurons) and I want to break the cycle of mood swings I seem to have fallen into.   Seven years of toughing it out is enough.

On this basis, June is going to be all about the kind of employment out there that might not mangle the bipolar mind…since I shall be seeking it myself.  I’ve a couple of months before I actually leave work so I have some time to get steady again and work out properly what to do next.

I’ll be posting a little summary of May’s lessons, although I mostly learned that getting addicted to sleeping pills would be preferable to going crackers from lack of sleep (thanks Doc).

Peace x

May’s Up Close and Personal – you know it’s bad when…

Your doctor gives you a hug.  Then calls the crisis team.

Let’s say it hasn’t been a good week.


Lack of sleep  is probably the main cause of this nasty little turn, plus my usual medication messing with other medication.  Add a few run of the mill frets and bad times are afoot.

Still, I’m feeling more ‘normal’ now and didn’t end up under a bus or at the bottom of a bottle (ha, I wouldn’t get more than a third of the way down anyway) although I did smoke half a cigarette then put it out because it was horrible.  This depressed me too – I gave up smoking over a year ago but thought I could always go back to it if I ran out of vices.  Damn.

Anyway, after I had finished bouncing off the walls  with a mad sort of anxiety (Mixed state? You can keep it.) I had some interesting conversations and it does seem to be the consensus that I have become very ‘flat’ in the months since I started on Lamictal. Never mind the miserable side effects that seem to multiply over time. Luckily I have an appointment with the psychiatrist the first week of June (been waiting since November – ouch) and will see what other options there are.  Carbamazepine was horribly lethargy-inducing …but it didn’t give me half the trouble Lamictal has.

To be honest I had more fun without the meds, which now seem to have a limited effect anyway.  My mood-swings are shorter and not quite so extreme (mostly) but the price for that seems to be a flat- kind- of -half-life.  *tiny string quartet*

However, it’s kicking out time at the pity-party now.  Enough.  Normal service will be resumed shortly.

In the meantime, and on the subject we can’t talk about *TW* I found reading this in the NY Times  quite interesting, although the corresponding image is a bit…well take a look… And this  *TW* which has an equally confusing cover- image but was quite comforting.

To better days…

Peace x

May Challenge – Up close and personal (within the bounds of decency of course).


May hasn’t been good so far, that’s why I’ve been rather quiet.  I tend to go off radar when I’m feeling grim – they say you should avoid talking politics and religion at dinner;  despair and a pervading sense of pointlessness are similarly party-wrecking topics …

“Anyone care to join me in a slice of existential dread?” 

“Er, I think I’ll stick with the stuffed peppers thanks”

“Sure?  Can I interest you perhaps in a breadstick of doom?  No?  An olive of despair maybe?  I can fully recommend the…I see, leaving already?  You haven’t finished your…Oh”  *sighs*

Of course none of the above applies if you are dining with  Kafka et al, or  Ingmar Bergman or indeed any of the Romantic poets.  The problem in such circumstances would be getting a word in about your own miserablist issues.  Fun times, eh?

Anyway, I believe this current little shiver of dread began as a result of feeling ill and (since feeling under the weather seems to mimic some of the symptoms of depression) has grown from there.  I also suspect that feeling so unwell is linked to my medication – I’m steadily accruing a list of pills for things like insomnia, dizziness, nausea, headaches… basically I feel sort of vertiginous all the time.  Whine, complain, moan.   Either that or I have a particularly determined strain of flu that makes you sick if you watch anything spin/dart/dip.

But, moving along, this ( finally) leads me on to May’s challenge.  It’s time to stop for a moment and do a bit of a review – how do the side effects of my meds balance against their benefits?  How often does my mood change currently?  What impact has therapy had overall?  Have the life-changes I have made really been the right ones?  And, you know, other stuff like that.  I’m not suggesting that ditching medication and opting for acupuncture (which I would actually recommend, but not strictly for dealing with bipolar) is the way forward, but it might be smart at this juncture to work out…well, what’s working.

I started by using a little tool I found at https://www.beatingbipolar.org/   Now it’s hideously cheesy (with some appalling acting, just awful) and partnered with a number of companies which might suggest a certain interest in promoting a pharmaceutical diet  (GSK etc.) but there are a few useful things to be accessed if you can deal with all that, including a life-map to help you work out any events which might have triggered episodes and look at any potential patterns.

To offset any bias you might encounter you could also read BadPharma which is an enlightening, and frankly scary, look at the pharmaceutical world.  The title gives it away I guess.

So then…May means a bit of a BPAD review.  This means I’m probably going to whine a bit, I’ll try to keep that on the low down though and share anything that might be useful.

First however, I’d like to briefly moan about insomnia – It’s wrecking me.  But that’s all I have to say on the matter.

Peace x

“I Aten’t Dead” – Granny Weatherwax (legendary creation of the legendary Terry Pratchett)

i aten't dead

So…I haven’t disappeared, it’s just that this challenge has taken some interesting turns.  I haven’t morphed into Picasso or Banksy, nor have I stormed into the download charts with another reworking of Hallelujah.  More’s the pity.  However, all the thinking about creativity brought me to a few conclusions about where I am at (deep philosophical times, man) and where I am heading (even deeper philosophical times) and so I applied for a new job which was scary, and went for a new-job interview which was scarier.  And I survived.  That’s all I know about the outcome, the whole thing’s a blur and I couldn’t tell you whether or not I might get a job offer…but whatever happens I am a tiny bit proud of myself for not bottling out.

What’s also been pretty wonderful is how helpful and supportive people have been- the people that know me know that I haven’t been at my most confident and sparkly recently and have encouraged my efforts to get my mojo back in all sorts of ways. The resident yoof even brought me coffee this morning – this is one of my favourite ways of being encouraged and supported.

Anyway none of this strictly covers my artsy plans for this month so I am making up for lost time by heading to a folk club tomorrow night for a bit of a sing-around and come  Friday I might even have some time to make progress at the drawing board.  One step at a time though eh.

Peace x

Best and Worst: February Challenge (and getting a march on March with the arts)

Art for art's sake

Art for art’s sake

I’m not really at my best today,  tiredness makes my brain wobbly and my inner miserablist more outer –  I can’t vouch therefore for the quality of this post 🙂  but I can assure you that it will contain information appropriate to the heading…

The Best of Feb

1) Yoga is good.  The have-you-tried-yoga people were completely right.  I’d like  to do a class regularly.

2) The more I have done the more I’ve wanted to do – when stuff like work hasn’t interfered with my grand plans.  Tsk.  Being motivated to exercise has led to my being more motivated in general.

3) Following on from the above, I’ve found that the more I do the more I can do.  And that applies not just to exercise.  Over the last few weeks I have been much more prepared to push myself a bit.  Which is probably a natural coming-out-of-a-depression progression, but the exercise thing has probably sped up the process.

4) I’ve felt a sense of achievement when I’ve thrown myself about a bit.  That can’t hurt.  Although stomach crunches do; this is a universal truth.  It’s made me a bit more chipper thanks to all those whizzy brain chemicals too – well it has when lack of sleep hasn’t turned me into a jelly.

5) Sorting out when to squeeze in a gym visit has made me think ahead more and possibly be a bit more organised.  Possibly. A bit.

And the worst…

1) Ok, this isn’t strictly a worst-about-exercise but more about me; I could have tried a bit harder and I’ve planned to do a few things that I haven’t quite managed.  Hopefully I’ll get around to those when I feel a bit more lively.

2) Squats hurt.  My thigh muscles went on strike in disgust.

3)  When a physio has told you not to lift weights above your head and you do it anyway there will be pain and you will feel stupid.

4) See 2.

5) In spite of upping my exercise levels by, ooh, 100% I am not yet all buff and beautiful.  It is possible that I will have to tackle my sweet tooth for aesthetic   purposes. Damn.

Overall this challenge has done me good and I’ve enjoyed it – even when it’s felt like a bit of a slog.  It’s not February’s fault that I’m experiencing a sleep glitch. Anyway I’m going to try for two decent sessions of exercise a week for the forseeable and maybe sign up for a (really tiny) charity run of some kind over the summer to help keep me on track.

As for March…well, a few things have inspired my next challenge…

The programme I listened to about The Dragon Cafe reminded me that art therapy is considered to be beneficial for those of us with mental health issues, although there’s not a lot of official research into effects and outcomes.  There are a few perspectives on it here and here and here.

So I’m going to give some artsy stuff a go, although I’m probably not going to see an actual therapist I reckon getting all creative on my own is close enough for now. Since I started this blog I’ve begun doodling a bit as you may have noticed, but it’s been a while since I really sat down to draw. I’m going to go old-school and get my pens and pencils out (and even my guitar) and try to create something new each week.  I know some amazing artists and musicians so this is quite daunting.  Which is a good reason to do it.  It’s got to be about having a go at things just because I enjoy doing them.  Hopefully I’ll learn some new stuff too.

I must say in advance though that this might be hard on the eyes and ears (singing is good for the soul… but sometimes that only applies to soul of the singer) so remember it’s art for art’s sake…*winces* and I’ll try not to share anything too tragic.

Peace x

Contribute to society – Pay off your sleep debt…

Getting back in to work.  Simples.

Getting back in to work. Simples.

I have only managed two quite pitiful gym sessions this week, life kept happening to me and giving me things to do instead – some of which were good, some not so much.   Not enough sleep over the last few days has had me a bit wobbly so I’m pleased I talked myself into going (Ok, so it’s only down a flight of stairs if I go after work but there are days I have to change into my horrible gym-wear before I make that little trip to stop me swerving it last minute.  Even I can’t justify putting my trainers on just to leave the building).

The sleep-deprivation wobbles finally sideswiped me at about noon on Thursday when I could have wept a little weep, like an over-tired child, then curled up under my desk and stayed there.  But I didn’t do that.  I took a several deep breaths, made some (more) coffee, and managed to survive everything I needed to do – including a quick burst of gym-ing, an hour of tutoring and a hare-like dash to my daughter’s parents evening (when your mum turns up carrying a Spiderman bag ‘…’ ).    I do still resent the fact that it can feel so hard to do reaa-aally normal stuff, but I wouldn’t have been able to face that combination of activities down a few weeks ago so make me a badge and get me a framed certificate of improvement please.  Thanks.  If you can find something for the bags under my eyes too that would be super-nice.

So what does one do when sleepless?  Well this week my dad pointed me in the direction of  Radio 4’s Saturday Live after listening to a programme featuring Ruby Wax talking about mindfulness CBT – which she studied for her recent book – so I spent an hour or so tuning in to that in the early hours of Tuesday.  It’s worth a listen, especially since it also included a report from the London-based Dragon Cafe set up by Mental Fight Club.

The Dragon Cafe provides a simple, affordable, healthy menu each week, and a wide range of creative and well-being activities, all of which are free and open to all.

And being mentally-interesting is not a prerequisite for joining in.  I want a Dragon Cafe. In my living room.

Another thing which caught my interest (sometime between late Wednesday and early Thursday) was Mind’s campaign for changes to ‘Back to Work’ support for those with mental health problems.  This includes related reform to the current welfare system which is, I would suggest, driven by an ideology that is almost opposed to its’ actual purpose: to support the most vulnerable (no bias here).  Millionaire PM David Cameron (again, no bias here ) last week gave an overview of the Conservative party’s election manifesto for welfare, and, well, it’s what you’d expect from a party who dismissed a report linking  food banks and benefits cuts and has members such as Lord Freud telling us that food banks wouldn’t be used so much…if…they…didn’t…exist huh?

 “It is difficult to know which came first – supply or demand.”

and the delightful Michael Gove suggesting that poor financial management rather than poverty is at the heart of food bank usage.

So yes, stop going to get free food because you overspent on Lobster frittata, truffle and gold pizza and Cristal at the start of the month everyone..  And you’d better cut down on these too.

It’s much easier to despise those who claim ‘taxpayers’ money’ for things like food and rent  because they’re poor isn’t it? Anyway, anyway, I’ll stop there.   I’m so glad I can talk about politics without bias.  What can I say? It’s skill I’ve honed. For a leftie perspective on this stuff  you’d be better off watching Russell Brand’s trews.  He’s more eloquent than me, and funnier.  And richer – as The Daily Mail might like to remind you. And if that’s not for you at least check out what Mind has to say about the matter.

Anyway, anyway enough of all this …I shall do my best and worst of February’s challenge tomorrow and commit myself to the* slightly different challenge I have in mind for March…probably…if I don’t bottle it before then.  In the meantime I am going to try to pay off my sleep debt.

‘Til then x

*It’s nothing to with politics . Promise.