Last October or September (I’ll have to check the archives) I was prescribed a New Brain Pill to help with anxiety and my self harming. I did not take it. I was still trying to get my ESA and I feared having a muddled or fogged head. Or just going completely batshit crazy and scared, which has happened to me before. Once I got my ESA decision, I put the pills back again because I still needed to be level headed facing Christmas and a few personal problems. But I did decide to take them once the New Year started. Last Friday I had my appointment with my old (and good) Psychiatrist Dr.P. Dr.P is a very glamorous Monica Bellucci style Italian woman. 8 years ago she made me feel bad about myself because of her glamour, but her advice, drugs and strategy were right for me. This time she seemed genuinely concerned for me. A different reaction. She gave me a choice between drugs. But no choice about adding a new pill to my then prescription. I opted for the first she prescribed. I’ll see her in 3 months and in the mean time I’ll be put on a waiting list for Bereavement Counselling. An interesting development.
The new pill is a soporific- it aids sleep*. As regulars to this blog will know, historically I don’t have a problem with sleep, but recently I have developed a problem. I’ve not been getting to sleep until 5 or 6am – regularly. Even when I’ve got something important to get up for the next day. The pill certainly works from that perspective – if it doesn’t get you to sleep, it certainly keeps you there once you nod off. I’ve been hungry for sleep. Even when I’ve had many, many hours of it. Even when I wake with a painfully full bladder or back ache, I’ve been rolling over and sleeping in a new, but familiar, drug way. I have been warned that I will get fat(ter) on the pills – and though my appetite hasn’t changed yet, my taste has. I indulged in cheese, but when I ate it, it tasted wrong. Hmmm.
I am certainly aware of a new ‘thing’ in my blood – but that might just be this month’s Red Tide. Menses affect me powerfully – more and more as I get older. My current anxiety and constant low level of dramatic fear (you know, when your first answer to everything is ‘kill yourself’) may be due to hormones, or it could be the pills. I have had a low mood for a time. I have felt rung out and also lost. There are lots of reasons for this – I miss my Mum, I’m lonely and my Dad is difficult for me to deal with, but I hope I will feel better soon. Or at least feel pushed enough to become active in making myself feel better: I hope I get angry and determined. I don’t want to feel low. I don’t want my Dad to make me feel low. I want to feel better. I want some control. I hope I can go back to feeling like I have some say in my own life.
Actually, let’s go back. I want to make something clear: I don’t feel so out of control of my life that I feel I can let everything go and take no responsibility. I feel responsible for myself, but I don’t feel I have enough or the right power to do anything about it. I feel at the mercy of the universe, but not weak or vulnerable enough to be an innocent victim. I feel guilty for feeling sad. I feel guilty for the many things in my life that I could have done differently that could have made me happy. Could, could, could. The ache of missed potential – the most painful thing for me. Errrrrarrgh.
Last week I went to the recently closed ‘Bedlam’ exhibition at The Wellcome Trust in London. It was a weak excuse for an exhibition. And I don’t say that just as a person in the Mental Health system. Ostensibly it was a history of the Asylum – the residential Mental Hospital, beginning with the medieval Bethlem Hospital in London (origin of the word Bedlam). But in reality it was a patchy mash up. It did have detailed exhibits about Bedlam, it’s physical history. It did explain the expansion of Asylums during the Victorian period but nothing else was detailed. It mentioned some punishments/ treatments given to residential patients (restraints, chains), it mentioned some alternatives to these treatments – music, hobbies and physical employments (Occupational Therapy) – given to patients. But not enough information was given. It had a small display of ‘Outsider Art’ – the official term given to the works of the untrained and/or mentally ill – and of art representing ‘madness’ in it’s many forms. But much more could have been made of this now popular work. It was not detailed in any way about the life of treatment after the Bedlam – more modern treatments. It had one display about ECT (shock treatment), one about medications… it was all thin on the ground. It gave more space to contemporary works of art about Mental Health than about the history and development of treatment. It was a disappointment and did a great dis-service to it’s (very interesting) subject. Nothing was made of CBT or contemporary Psychiatry. And the exhibition was very badly laid out and confusing. The Wellcome has an amazing collection and great space. I’ve been to some fantastic shows there. But this was not one of them. The history of Bedlam is fascinating, the history of Mental Health-it’s treatment and diagnosis- is fascinating. This could have been so much better.
Artists out of The Mind.
The art of the Mentally Ill – Bedlam Art – Outsider Art – is very popular at the moment. If you are interested, check out the following: Richard Dadd, Louis Wain, Mary Frances Heaton, Vaslav Nijinsky, August Strindberg, Vincent Van Gogh and Yayoi Kusama (who is still alive and lives in an asylum). Nijinsky is better known as an amazing ballet star from the early 1900’s. But when he became mentally ill, he began to make art…
*It’s actually an anti-psychotic – but this was never mentioned. That’s how I like my Psych appointments…