She took to her bed: safe spaces and danger zones

Today I have been trying to explain to my Consultant that I feel that there are a number of zones in which They have more chance to get at me, where their power is stronger. Places like what I am now calling “Banana Alley”. Seriously, apart from streets that are used as markets, never have I seen so much fruit um, detritus, on a pavement or in a gutter. Today there were skins from about three satsumas or clementies (I did not take time to ascertain which), plus a whole manky one, plus a lone, heavily bruised apricot. This in a distance of perhaps 250m, a “passage” from tube to bus.

It’s becoming clear that although it’s often quite neutral, a lot of what I experience in my home happens in the hall/passage. Mostly I’ll walk back and forth without giving it a second thought, but when I start to become afraid it becomes a danger zone; inconvenient, because it is necessary to pass through the hall to get from any one room to another.

One of my earliest experiences with Them occurred a couple of years ago as Tom was driving us along the North Circular. Obviously we all know that the North Circular is hell. That’s a given. However, there’s a certain section which feels downright dangerous, a stretch between a certain bridge and a certain building. Once, on a tube train, I saw an ad for a product made by the company in that building (I hadn’t even known that they made anything) and I was flooded with anxiety. Still, we passed through it yesterday with no ill effects, holding my breath the whole time.

All of these spaces are liminal, a zone between or an intersection of safety and danger. Or maybe they are littoral, places where the terrifying and the pathological smash against the normal and the ordinary, I don’t know. In the case of the hall, well, I have to move through it. It’s that or buy a commode and have Tom bring all my food to me and give me bed baths. In the case of the North Circular, it is the most direct way home from many trips out but I am sure if I felt really distressed Tom and the satnav would find us another route. When I was explaining about Banana Alley to my consultant he asked me if there was another route I could take. I was astounded. I am familiar with the area well from my past work, so I on one level I knew perfectly well how to catch the bus without hurrying down the Alley, my eyes flickering from gutter to hedge on high alert for fruit. Yet on another level it really hadn’t even occurred to me. (On the way home I went one better and took a different bus. It took me about twice as long to get home but I felt I was making a statement.)

I was asked today whether I thought I needed to be in hospital. I didn’t think so. I am not at any physical risk. I am despondent at this change in my symptoms, the fact that this means I can’t up my game, can’t defend myself against whatever bipolar throws at me because it’s different with every crisis. My mood also dips when I have had a very difficult or distressing day, but that’s understandable. I am not of low mood in the clinical sense. Being admitted now would actually take me away from the points of safety in my life. Firstly, Tom. When he’s around, things are OK. I get confused and muddled about whether things really happened and if so when, but They don’t trouble me much. He’s like an amulet. Or, I don’t know, a sort of protective bubble of safety. There are places in my home too that are safe zones, even if I have to cross the hall to get to them. Twitter followers will know how much time I spent in the bath, and that becomes even more important when distressed, an enclosed space that I can fill with relaxing music and scented oils that provides a period in which something like diazepam can get to work.

The safest place of all is my bed. And the more ritualised and specific “bedtime” is, the safer it becomes. The bed has to be made, properly. The scatter pillows on top need to stay there, although the serve no actual function. The sheet and the duvet and the bedspread must be as straight as I can make them. Extra safety points are accrued by going to bed immediately following a bath; extra extra points by putting on a clean nightgown or PJs. Getting into bed in this state, especially in the day, makes be feel born again, cleansed, and not just on the outside. It gives me the best possible chance of surviving a period home alone. There is one problem, however. Although I’m not remotely suicidal at present, this feeling of being newborn is slightly risky because it is exactly what I was aiming for in some anonymous hotel where I intended to spend my last night.

So no, I don’t think it would be beneficial for me to be in hospital. The only bed I am interested in accepting is the king sized one in my room. I don’t even know what could be achieved in hospital in terms of medication that can’t be carried out in the community.

This is another post I don’t know how to end. I only meant to write a couple of hundred words. I should link to some other posts but I am too tired, sorry.


About purplepersuasion

40 something service user, activist, writer and mother living with bipolar disorder. Proud winner of the Mark Hanson Prize for Digital Media at the Mind Media Awards #VMGMindAwards
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1 Response to She took to her bed: safe spaces and danger zones

  1. Dearest Charlotte, you are an absolutely amazing person. Your descriptive writing about living with bipolar is so very accurate and I bless the day I stumbled upon your blog because reading that I am not alone is very comforting. Please never give up and keep strong because you now have a lot of sufferers who follow you. I have had bipolar since a child but however many times I described how I felt nobody listened to me. I was 43years of age before I was diagnosed by a wonderful male psychiatrist who did all he could to help me understand my illness and recommended the correct medication to keep my condition stable. I am now 58 years of age on the same medication but I have been on a roller coaster ride throughout my life.
    I am married to a wonderful man and we have three beautiful sons who have been on this roller coaster ride with me. If it wasn’t for the love and support of my very special immediate family I would of definitely have been a suicidal statistic.
    Through different referrals to various counselling services I have been able to talk about my mental health but unfortunately my last counsellor told me she did not believe that bipolar existed and that I had probably been misdiagnosed. I was fraught and in absolute turmoil after this discussion and have lost faith in the medical profession because even my GP doesn’t know how to deal with my mental health issues. I worry about the future and how it will be. It scares me.
    As for yourself you are truly a gorgeous person and if I were ever to meet you I would give you an enormous hug and tell you what a wonderful, beautiful valuable person you are. Please look after yourself and I so look forward to your next writing in your blog. Sending positive vibes and much love.

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