Sunday, 29 November 2009

Help



Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help.

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me?

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways,
My independence seems to vanish in the haze.
But every now and then I feel so insecure,
I know that I just need you like I've never done before.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me.

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me, help me, help me, oh.



How did I know this song since I was four and never really listened?

John had his moments of genius.

Update

Next Thursday she gets the 24 hour heart monitor. Gloucester A&E is grim in the small hours (last big scare - the out-of-hours doc called the ambulance before I'd finished talking). Week after she gets the appointment with the cardiologist. Hopefully it isn't serious - because the medical lot aren't busting a gut over her. But we're a family of fucking stoics. So that is worrying too.

Unrelated shite: I've had sciatica since carrying my bodyweight of coal down to Wern. That's five months and counting now. I get to see a physio next week. I just bloody hope they can do something. Because it fucking is hurting my left testicle!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Some of my favourite pics put up on flickr over the last 4 or 5 years



Click on the right hand side of the window to fast forward videos if you don't happen to be in the mood.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Thank you one and all,

... for your lovely words.

Here's a picture that made me laugh today:



We're ok, just scared, helpless, and soldiering on as best we can. :-)

Take care all Dx

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A Strange Couple of Weeks

The main thing that's been happening is that K has been suffering palpitations, chest pains, breathlessness and fainting for the last fortnight. She's fit, she's not the panicky type. So it's all been a bit worrying. The local doctors just call an ambulance as soon as you phone them, so then you have all of the inconvenience and embarrassment of wasting people's time... Blah. Spent most of last night in Gloucester A&E - the palps have been increasing exponentially over the weekend.

It all seems a bit strange for people who never call a doctor let alone an ambulance.

As for my darling, she never got to experience pain-relief in birth because she didn't kick up a fuss. She got labelled "A quiet labourer." Little story: 2nd boy, I went under the blankets to take a look after a few hours of fierce (yet silent) contractions. It looked pretty 10cms to me. Got a midwife. She started hectoring K that if she's making this fuss so early she'll have to have an epidural - I told her to take a look at the sharp end (blunt end? hmmm) and she shot out of the the cubicle shouting for delivery room and wheelchair. Yes... crowning.

Stoic people get short shrift.

That's the moral.

Anyway, only a two week wait for the appointment with the cardiologist. Bradycardia/Tachicardia Syndrome is their best bet at the moment.

As for me - there are great advantages in having somewhat elevated symptoms during times of stress. It gives you the superhuman powers to look after people.

If I believed, I would pray. But I don't, so I don't. But I'm trying to do everything I can do.

And the irritation of getting an ECG one minute after an attack, and one minute before and the bland not-my-problem-attitude of the otherwise perfectly decent nurse is mindblowing.

However, plus side, some good people-watching and amusing tales.

Anyway, that's where we are. Trying to carry on as normal.

Hope you are all ok. Take care Dx

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Leonids

Well, I got up and watched from 4.15 - 6.15 and saw a lucky thirteen. Tonight should be good from midnight onwards in the Uk - best in India apparently. The last one was a good long and bright one.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Where Am I?

So, after nearly two years, how has my diagnosis changed me? Because, for sure, being labelled in such a critical way that takes away so many of your rights and privileges damn well changes you. And I am an old dog of 38.

Well, firstly I've retreated from all of the healthy constructs that I used to use to behave like a normal person. I think I am still 'normal'. But I've been told for the last couple of years I'm not. And it has meant I have let slip the reins to a certain degree. The insecure me, the angry me, the raging me, the paranoid me, have all been let loose far more than I ever let them be. (When I was officially well). After all, why bother, when one can't even be a local School Governor? I'm not allowed. I know the governors. They all get pissed in the pub, then drive to pick their kids up in their godalmighty 4x4s.

And I'm not eligible to be on a jury. Despite the fact I have one of the finestly graduated shades of grey mindy mind I've ever had the pleasureful pleasure of meeting.

So fuck that.

Where am I now? I haven't been anything worse than running naked in midwinter for months. And where I live, it is i) not illegal (would be if someone took offense and it was proved I did it to cause offense) and ii) it's bloody cold and iii) I could do the same thing in the daytime in the summer, and there would still be no-one to see.

Why would I do that? Good question. Thanks. I've always wondered why mad people get naked sometimes. Um.... Sometimes when the head is full, shedding everything is a way of getting back to oneself. It's a pretty harmless coping mechanism, especially when it doesn't scare the horses. And in truth, it shouldn't really bother anyone in a healthy society.

Unfortunately, we don't live in a healthy society.

Where am I? I have hands full of thorns. That's where I am right now. I was doing my bit (the bit no-one else was 'man' enough to do) by sorting out a huge bonfire that wasn't burning. I got singed too. I was stood in the middle. But that was all fine by me, and in no way anything to do with mental derangement. It was simply "This is the way to sort the fucking thing out."

Love you all to bits, you who still read. Strange how where I am now has given me a handful of new friends.

Dx



This picture of bums was taken in 2007. When I took it and the reason why I took it was a random coinciding of people that jogged my memory of Julius Caesar massacring some ridiculous number of Germans. The internet isn't learned enough for google to work for tonight, but I will find the passage in the Gallic Wars, and post in a comment. Basically, JC drove a whole tribe (thousands of men women children) into a confluence of two rivers. They were either stabbed or drowned.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Something I left on the Guardian Talk Boards... MH etc

I wish I had the patience to read to the end of all the comments before speaking, but anger and irritation have got the better of me.

I have for good or bad, accurately or inaccurately been diagnosed manic-depressive. All it took was sticking to my guns on a friendship over the course of my third child being born. Better that that breaking up a family, eh? Yes, it had all got rather gnarly and ugly.

Speaking from experience, anti-psychotic drugs are a living hell. The last thing I remember after taking my first Care in the Community Pill (the other option was the strait-jacket and the lock-up) was the sight of my wife and kids crying at the effect it was having on me before I passed out. Believe me, all of you who've never had the pleasure, these things are STRONG SHIT.

Chemical Restraints... Chemical Strait-Jackets... these phrases are quite correct. These drugs do very little to alleviate the transitory problems the mind is going through. What they do do, is either i) poleaxe the person if that person follows the doctor's advice, or ii) induce even worse pyschosis if kept on a low dose due to the family saying we don't want a comatose daddy. (Research how quetiapine/seroquel attaches to histamine/dopamine receptors. Hang on, I'll do the job for you: http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2007/07/the_most_important_article_on.html)

These fucking drugs made all my friends' jaws drop so far into the floor seeing their effect upon me that their jaws are still in Australia.

As for you pillocks talking about breeding... Don't you know a thing about madness and genius? Breed out these genes (if they'll ever be identified, which is a big fucking if) and you'll breed all creativity out of this planet. This may of course suit the way the people who govern us would like us to be.

I spoke about anger at the beginning of this post. My anger was aimed at those ignorant pseudo-eugenicists who seem to be populating the comments of the Guraniaurd. You people really make me feel murderous. I wouldn't call *that feeling* mental illness.

As for sex. Either twenty times a night or once a year. Goes with the territory my dears. The drugs don't help. They just force you into the latter category.

And I have already bred, you fucking eugenes! Three brave boys. All perfectly fine and dandy. (And middle class and Cotswolds donchaknew?) So fuck off with your fucking prejudice.

All the best .

---------------------

endquote

link here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/nov/13/disability-sexuality



Follow up addendum the first:


Should just add. Been drug free for a year. No problems since.

Also, the old lovely English phrase "Nervous Breakdown" should be employed nine times out of ten instead of condemning people to a medical diagnosis that leads to a lifetime of stigma.



Follow up addendum the second:

And I took myself of the anti-psychotics after a month. And was then later on the so-called mood-stabilisers, for which read depressants. No... not Anti-Depressants... I said DEPRESSANTS. "Kill yourself pills".

Thank God for alcohol. In fact, at the risk of going off topic, we had a wee dinner party this evening, and we were all talking about the way different drinks affect us. (Of course, drink is evil, despite it's 10,000 year old therapeutic history.)

Gin of course is the classic downer.
Whisky makes you frisky.
Brandy makes you angry.
Vodka... I can't remember.
Tequilla... um... that was when I --------------------------------- deleted.

Best not to drink, except when you know when to. (Apart from the glass of wine in moderation with the lentils (puy) and the orgasmic chicken (tescos).

Night night.


------------------

Afterthought.

Why can I be more honest on a fucking national newspaper than I can on here? Makes my raison d'etre etc for blogging rather pointless.

Desolation Row

I marched against this sort of thing. Marching wasn't enough. Now it's rubbing our noses in it, and screaming at us that what we did wasn't enough. What should we have done? Bar killing the government of course... :-) (That's a joke, Mr GCHQ Beardie-Minion (I've met a few - but maybe Weird Beards aren't fashionable anymore in the Cheltenham Shop)).

Killing the government wouldn't have helped much. A new government would have stepped into the void and done the damned same thing. What now? Kill all people who might form governments?

Somehow I don't think governments are the answer.

Maybe pick on the people on the top of the pyramids of the organisations that tell governments what to do (as if we could get to them even in a James Bond Wank Phantasy). And no, I'm not a conspiracy type. I just distrust multi-billionaires, and their 2nd and 3rd in command.

Our poor government would probably come a sad 6th or 7th or 8th on that list.

Edit: I've just thought of a metaphor or simile for the new world order. Imagine a pond full of little fish at the Top Of the Pond Ma! who are all spitting their little spits of bile in graceful arcs. Somewhere there is a fucking great big toad with a funnel in his mouth catching the topfishies' spouts of shite. He eats them and swallows, digests and craps them into all the small frogs below.

How's that for a model of modern fucking governments the worlds over? I despair. I fucking despair. Those poor families.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/13/falluja-cancer-children-birth-defects

Click the fucking link.

And when you've clicked on the fucking link, then listen to the song. And I expect zero comments.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Conception of Cain After the Fall







Finished my picture the other day. Title is tongue-in-cheek, or maybe left-buttock according to my knowledge of anatomy. Enjoy...

Earlier versions/process.

p.s. Alternative titles welcome... I'm tending towards "Yes we have no bananas"

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Slugs In Mucus Make Few Friends.

My brother-in-law imparted the piece of advice encapsulated in the title of this blog on his wedding day, and he was talking about his father and stepmother. Or was it our wedding day? I forget. It was either ours or his.

The other brother-in-law's wife's mother is terminally ill. Only weeks left. She has her granny flat attached to their house, 24 hour nurse care, the works. Her daughter (professional Inhuman Resources Manageress, specialises in laying off whole workforces) and the b-i-l want to put her out of sight in a home. Their excuse is they don't want to disturb their fucked-up kid. It makes me so angry I could explode. We've already made it clear she's welcome in our house.

Society deems me mentally ill. What does it make of these evil cold cold bastards?

-------------

edit, following Mo's brilliant idea of always posting a song.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Toe Warming and Bread Fermenting.

_ALC0319

Ten to five. I have nothing to say. If I start saying, then I'll spout shite. And we wouldn't want that now, would we, admit it, ladies and gents, we certainly wouldn't.

I'm good for some things though. Like making bread. Toasting toes. Wanting to make a 20" by 16" pinhole camera (each picture would cost approx £20 to produce - our weekly income after bills (not petrol) is only £180, and that's with three hungry boys going through food and clothes and food and shoes at £30 a shot and food and birthdays and food and christmas and weddings and funerals and flowers of condolence and food and and and etc etc etc)). And I thank whatever fates gave me a generous heart that doesn't begrudge anything that is essential. We scrape by. We're doing ok. "At least we're not starving in Africa." Etc. Pearl barley is actually quite nice when you work out how to make it nice. Gives me the awful runs though.

Bah. Il poverino... etc. Something seems to have happened to the cost of living over the last two years. When I was working, and on between 25 - 30K (less, incidentally, than we're on now, when tax is taken into account)... everything seemed cheaper and we had lots of money. Now we have pennies. It's food. Food has gone through the fucking roof.

Right! Pulses! Ha! Pulses! Pulses are the answer! We have SHELFFULLS!

Take care all. Dx

Friday, 6 November 2009

Fed Up With The Whole Shebang and a Book Recommendation

Although I happen to be in a rather mellow mood today, which is rather lovely.

[Diary update too]

Let me explain.

So on the one hand, we have the psychiatrists (or biological types) shoving pills into us to see what works... and a whole diagnostic industry set up around that paradigm.

On the other hand, we have the psychologists studying the ways that the mind works, and the factors associated with various types of thought-process, life-attitude, whathaveyou.

(And the neurologists of course, but when a man points to a slice of brain and says this is the problem, then I'll eat my hat).

Personally, I prefer the psychological angle, which is pretty powerless today, for reasons I can assume are to do with the cost of treating people as people and individuals.

Yes I know the staff on the ground pay lip-service to 'everyone is different in the way their illness manifests itself', but then go and work on the box-ticking and pill-prescribing.

Where am I going with this post? Or am I just ranting for the sake of it? (Yes, you are ranting for the sake of it.)

I don't think I have come across anyone over the year I've been blogging who remotely fits one of those convenient boxes. The depressed people can be hyper, the episodic people can be grindingly ill when otherwise 'normal', the manics can be very controlled, etc, etc, etc.

I am tending to the view that most people apart from a few classic cases do not fall into a neat category. To go for the first example: take schizophrenia and manic-depression. Two ends of a spectrum. Virtually all the research shows the same syndromes shading into each other. (Google "Kraepelinian dichotomy").

Also that there is no cut-off point between madness and sanity, just a continuum.

Also that there is no stasis for any individual along that continuum. Everyone has the capability of madness - no-one should have the lifelong sentence of madness placed upon them.

Sigh sigh sigh sigh. And what? you ask. God* only knows.

All I know is the system sucks; we're stuck with it for the foreseeable future; and God* help us every one.

p.s. Read a good book recently: Madness Explained, by Richard Bentall.



p.p.s. I wrote at length on this blog about crappy Kraepelin (before I deleted the blog). Here's one of the pieces c&p'd and slightly edited.

-----------------

The Bipolar Schizophrenic Overlap

Mo's blog linked to this Lancet article. Interest in the much-debated possibility of genetic overlap between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder has been restimulated by molecular genetic studies, which have led to reappraisal of previous evidence from genetic epidemiology. Most previous genetic epidemiological studies have been underpowered to investigate the question of diagnostic overlap. This study, however, included more than 2 million nuclear families; the researchers merged data from the Swedish multigeneration population register and the Swedish hospital discharge register. The results clearly show increased risks of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder for first-degree relatives of probands with either disorder. Furthermore, evidence from half-siblings and offspring adopted away shows that this is due substantially to genetic factors.

The Kraepelinesque Dichotomy is dead! (I've always wanted to say that.) Kraepelin, as you all know, differentiated what he called Manic-Depressive Insanity from Dementia Praecox (what we now call schizophrenia). In fact, though, Kraepelin later said: No experienced psychiatrist will deny that there is an alarmingly large number of cases in which it seems impossible, in spite of the most careful observation to make a firm diagnosis... it is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot distinguish satisfactorily between these two illnesses and this raises the suspicion that our formulation of the problem may be incorrect. (1920)

Seriously, it has been on the cards for a while. The overlap has been highlighted recently (to my certain knowledge) since at least 1995 (Eysenck: Genius, the Natural History of Creativity - you can read some of the book here - quite interesting, and refreshingly straightforward (why are psychologists more readable than psychiatrists?) though I may have been feeling mildly grandiose when I ordered it from Amazon). Various studies comparing people with schizophrenia and manic depression with the likelihood of their children inheriting either condition: Rosenthal (1970), Penrose (1968), Powell et al (1973), Elsasser (1952), Schulz (1940), Pollock and Maltzberg (1940), Slater (1953), etc, etc, etc... all of these show that one type of illness may beget the other to a significantly higher degree than would be expected by chance (eg, Rosenthal found that the children of manic depressives had a 2.3% chance of being schizophrenic, compared to 0.8% in the general population).

On the other hand - there is evidence that there is a difference between the two conditions. I commented on Mo's blog: "if there were five genes, and four of them (say ABCD) made you schizophrenic and another four (say BCDE) made you bipolar" then it would be easy to see how the shared likelihood of transmission could occur, but still differentiate the two conditions. Some studies, Kant (1942), Weingberg and Lobstein (1943), Vaillant (1962) found that relatives of schizophrenics who didn't recover showed a greater ratio in first degree relatives of schizophrenia to manic depression, compared to relatives of recovered schizophrenics, where the ratio was reversed. The ratios varied between 5:1/1:5 and 7:1/1:7. Studies have been carried out seeing how often different psychiatrists' diagnoses accord with each other. The figures for agreement are generally around 59%. Or on the other hand, 41% of the time, someone gets it wrong. This obviously (?) cannot purely be down to incompetence (thus he prays).

However, this Swedish study seems very large, and hopefully should make more of a splash in the murky waters of the pond.I've rambled on long enough to little purpose. I'll finish with a quote from Eysenck:

"As regards the generality of 'psychosis', it seems clear that there are definite genetic links between different diagnostic categories (schizophrenia, manic-depressive disorder, schizo-affective disorder, unipolar disorder) which make it impossible to regard them as entirely separate disease entities. Some specificity there undoubtedly is, but there is also a generality of disorder which links all these disorders and their sub-classifications and diagnoses together to form one end of the psychoticism continuum, with a severity gradient placing schizophrenia at the extreme end, followed by schizo-affective disorder, manic-depressive disorder and finally unipolar illness."

Back to the schizoaffective spectrum, eh? Or since that was written in the mid 90s, that should be towards the schizoaffective spectrum.P.S. On a brighter note, I hope this will reduce the stigma that gets shoved at schizophrenia. I find it irritates me when I read someone with (say) manic depression 'writing off' people with something 'worse'. Our 'shared heritage' he said, raising an eyebrow in sympathetic amusement, should give us pause.





* Who?

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Whoops I'm Again Trip Flip and Need a Clip Round the Earhole



Had fun today at the private view at the RWA. My picture was the best out of the 600 [edit - this statement is me being ruthlessly self-judgemental :-D]. I pchawed and hissed with exasperation at half a dozen cliches. I was given the glad-eye by a hundred goat-eyed cat-clawed ladies in their fifties, and escaped.

But am in very good humour. I know it's too good. But I'm in a good mood and it's very hard to be silly up here in any way that any other human would notice at this time of night. I have had many strange glances today though.

And the Bristol Zombie March was amusing. "Call my Psychiatrist! I'm seeing things again!" The best I saw was a girl with a bloodstained baby attached to her by a string being dragged and kicked - a doll obviously. That and a man devouring Marge Thatcher's head.

Keep safe all! dxx