Tag Archives: Mental Health

Into the K-Hole?

alice

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

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

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

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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

Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain  ~ Carl Jung

IMAG0517

Jung was interested in images of dreams and fantasies.  So here’s a fantasy. My other fantasy is that my scanner is not broken, but that was even more boring to draw (though not as boring as photographing pictures and uploading them).

Clearly my fantasies are not so fantastical, here I am looking at the sea, getting a bit of peace… except that it’s where I live – not in the sea, just near it – that’s the fantasy part.

Anyway, after reading about Jung (who, coincidentally, seems to be referenced in a lot of the fiction I have been reading recently) and being a bit stuck for inspiration, I decided to doodle some dream images.  Talking about your dreams is a bit like discussing your aches and pains eg.  more interesting to you than anyone else – I’ll try to bear this in mind.

Jung’s analysis involved working closely with patients to investigate and understand the meaning in the dream-images they created; I take this to mean that he didn’t get too Freudian about everything (‘You dreamed about snakes!? Mwahahaha…’) but rather discussed archetypes and possible connotations based on the patients own thoughts and experiences.   The devil, as it were, is in the detail.

So, here’s a dreamscape in which I was telling off the owners of a tiger and a panther for walking the aforementioned big cats in my local park.  I refused to be placated when they showed me their we’re-allowed-to-walk-big-cats-in-the-park licences.

The panther didn't have a monkey-face in my dream, I just can't draw very well.

The panther didn’t have a monkey-face in my dream, I just can’t draw very well.

There are shades of the Jungian archetype The Shadow in those big cats… The dark self on a leash?  Crumbs.  That’s worrying.  However, Jung might have been more interested in the colour of the leash, or the breed of cat or even the ‘licence’ aspect of the dream, depending on the information I gave him.  Since he’s not around to ask I’m going to conclude that my sub-conscious has deep-held concerns about wild carnivorous creatures hanging around in public places.  Which are very sensible concerns to have.

I always sleep in the bath

I always sleep in the bath

And now for something completely different…and yet the same.  In this dream I woke up fully dressed in a bathtub as an old friend brought me a cup of tea. There’s a rather nice little plant on the windowsill there too.  Frankly I can’t make head nor tail of that one –  not a clue.  All I know is that I was really disappointed to wake up in actual real life without that cuppa.

I could go on with the dream illustrations and thrilling synopses but I’m going to leave that whole topic there for now.  It seems wise.  But I reckon there’s something cathartic about dream-doodling so I may not quit entirely…

For now though, I’ll leave you with a snarky doodle of PM David Cameron.

dave's plans

…and a finished version of another doodle.

Jpeg

Peace x

Messing around with felt tips – what would Jung say?

messing around with felt tips

So I’ve been doodling a bit, although I have probably spent more time helping the resident youth create some revision posters for her forthcoming exams by illustrating them (or ‘messing about with felt tips’ if you ask the aforementioned yoof).  I’ve developed the traditional half-term sore-throat & sniffle and keep giving up on things in favour of a little nap, which is not conducive to a highly productive week (and my scanner has died so I can’t make decent copies of anything) but I’ve taken a few scrappy shots of some of my doodle-drafts so you know I am at least trying.

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Next time use pencil.

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Cameron Cartoon draft

Nigel Farage: UFIB

Nigel Farage: UFIB

At some point I’ll try to make at least one of them into a finished…thing.

Although the spirit and flesh have been weak over the last week, I have had a closer look at some of the theories behind the concept of art therapy.  Here are some ideas about the ‘function’ of art as therapy wherein the power of art is not only in the creation of the image but the appreciation and interpretation of it  http://www.brainpickings.org/2013/10/25/art-as-therapy-alain-de-botton-john-armstrong/

Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist Carl Jung encouraged his patients to draw their dreams and fantasies, working with the patient to interpret the images as part of their therapeutic journey.  There’s a nice prezi here https://prezi.com/qgcnvlhrcvxr/jungian-analytic-art-therapy/ (which you’ll need to zoom into and pan across to access in full) giving some background and some more ‘intense’ information here.

My dreams are chaotic at best so I’m not sure how I’d feel about drawing them…I’ll probably have a nap and think on it.

Peace x

Challenge 4: Where has my cup gone? And other stuff.

pilgrims

Finally the cups took matters into their own hands and made their own way to the dishwasher.

I had to start (again) somewhere so here are this week’s eclectic (messy) offerings so far.  Behold my theory about where all the cups at work have disappeared to.  Really, they just keep vanishing.  We need, like, Scooby-Doo, man.

Also behold my attempt at a *haiku, inspired by some of this week’s less tasteful mental-health related headlines.

HAIKU

* my daughter pointed out to me that I have the haiku wrong, that it’s 5,7,5 and refused to accept my ‘inverse haiku’ argument.  Considering it’s my job to remember this stuff it’s a bit embarrassing – plus I hate it when she’s right.

So here’s a ‘haiku’ haiku

Keep to the attic 

Dark words ignite bright torches

Flames and pitchforks come

Tadaa! (Hopefully the poetry will improve.  Or stop)

Oh, and a visual representation of how I’ve felt most of this week.

NOSEFIRST

meh

Despite a total lack of motivation to do anything but eat cake and slump, I’ve forced myself to go to the gym twice.  Thanks February challenge *raspberries*.  And since I’ve been over-tired and struggling to sleep, I’ve been listening to these to help me relax –  I may have posted them before, sorry about that if so.  If you can get past the slightly creepy voice this one’s pretty good for getting calm to-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBlWOJgiyGg

And this one’s just cute…if you like rivers and lanterns.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpotwRmX654

Personally I prefer Zopiclone for solving sleeping difficulties, but my GP rarely lets me have them *more raspberries* because people become addicted to them – I can’t think why…

Peace x

Why I have been swearing at my hand (and my TV) this week.

No idea where this week went.  I’m still working on a song, don’t fret (hah) I’ve progressed from lyric writing to finally getting my guitar out.  The moment I sat down with it I remembered how very dreadful I am at making guitar sounds. Or, if you look at it another way, how amazing I am at making dreadful guitar sounds.  Either way I’m not being faux-modest here, I’ve got horribly bendy fingers so struggle to hold down the strings properly, then, when I sort that out by swearing at my hand a lot, my left arm starts to seize up.  Oh and I can only play one rhythm.

I swear this is the hardest challenge so far.

Anyway, if I can keep the song short I might just get through all the chords & lyrics in one go before my fingers begin to face backwards and my elbow snaps.  I will be recording  a snippet as proof of my labours and to provide you with some delightful entertainment (and by the way it’s not meant to be funny.  If you laugh a fairy will die. Of death.)

It’s fair to say that at this juncture I’m not certain that this challenge is proving to be good for my mental health.  On the other hand it kept me occupied enough to stop me ranting over  Channel 4 documentary ‘Being Bipolar’ for too long on Wednesday night.  I started to review it here, but never made it past a draft because in the midst of letting off steam I had an idea for a rhyme.  Fickle eh. Luckily for you I’m not going to revive that nearly-post now because I’ve got chords to practice, instead I shall point you in the direction of The Huffington Post’s Shadi-Sade Sarreshtehdarzadeh  and blogger Tom Copping who have both written detailed reviews nailing a lot of the things I didn’t like about the programme.  Phew.  Glad it wasn’t just me.

Happy Friday x

Challenge 3: Start Small *sigh*

Instead of showing you drafts and describing in detail what I have done, I will save about 5000 words and just sum up the general song-writing process so far…  Take a piece of paper (this is old-school stuff) write about four words, cross them out, write them again and cross them out again.   Breathe.  Hum a bit of the melody.  Frown. Turn over the page and write the words in a different order.  Frown.  Tap your pen on the paper a few times.  Shake your head and screw up your piece of paper before carefully throwing it on the floor.  Repeat the above until you’re essentially living in a recycling skip – if anyone drops a cigarette in my room it’s going to get very warm here very fast.

So this is how I have begun my March = Arts thing. I’m beginning to think I should have started off with a colouring book instead.  The Huffington Post ran an article last year about colouring-in-for-stress-relief, wish I’d read it before I embarked on this challenge.

Anyway, I’ve finished my homework and now I’m off to have another go at putting some words together.   If I present you with a sketch at the end of the week you’ll know this particular endeavour didn’t go well.

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