*TW: Although this a positive positive post, it makes graphic reference to past experience of overdose*
I am reticent about sharing the good things. I’m more superstitious than I let on, and I constantly worry about jinxing my run of luck by talking about it. But I feel well. In fact I feel not just well, I feel… normal. As in not just relatively well, but actually not experiencing symptoms. I’m still struggling with anxiety, but other than that it feels like something clicked and feel into place and the nightmare is over. That’s probably wrong, I’m probably being completely unrealistic, but all I can tell you is that’s how it feels.
People are asking what I put it down to. I don’t know. I assume it’s a combination of my shiny expensive new antipsychotic (lurasidone), months of therapy and a lot of luck. Some people have pointed out that I am doing a lot of things to keep myself well, but I’ve done all those things before time and time again without this degree of success. Tom speculates that I have been replaced by aliens. What have they done with poorly Charlotte? She would never be up before seven! Poorly Charlotte would never use phrases like, “Off you go, I’m fine”, “I’m running out of things to talk about in therapy” and “nothing is insurmountable”!
The change in mood has given me a radical shift in perspective. Suddenly I am able to look at my suicide plans, so long a source of obsession, even comfort, with a more objective eye. The daughter of a friend of Tom’s recently took her life and suddenly I saw the impact through the eyes of her family. No matter how much I knew that my death would have an devastating impact on those close to me, it wasn’t something I’d been able to really feel in recent years. This uncomfortable reality check made me extremely panicky, but was an important moment.
My lamotrigine pills are large and seem to come in rather ridiculous shapes that are simply not the shape of a human throat (one brand is a diamond, another is a shield) so although I’m a pretty competent pill-swallower, I struggle to get these down. Often they begin to disintegrate as they go. This happened yesterday and the bitter taste gave me something like a flashback, certainly something much more visceral and experiential than a simple memory, of exactly how it felt when I OD’d years ago. Not the taking of the pills, not the days spent on a drip trying to fend off liver damage, but the time in A&E when I there was nothing left to come up yet I stuck my fingers down my throat again and again, scratching the membranes at the back, because of the intolerable nausea. The way I felt like an animal, talked about not spoken to, stuck and prodded, puking on the floor as my parents and ex stood over me.
Oh wow, I thought. Yes. I remember now. That is what it would really be like. Not my cosy, comforting fantasy of an anonymous death in an anonymous hotel room. Why would I want to do that to myself?
I am not thinking like poorly Charlotte any more.
Of course it’s important to remember that I’m probably not as well as I feel. I’m signed off, and that’s because I’m really not work ready, cognitively and because I still can’t face That Station so I can’t feasibly take the tube or train to stuff in London. I’m only 3 weeks into the lurasidone. I’m only a month out hospital. You don’t just get over a year of prodromal symptoms, five years of active symptoms, the loss of your profession, two bouts of therapy, genuinely countless Home Treatment stints for suicidal thoughts and behaviour, assessment by a national specialist team, two hospitalisations, any number of failed care plans, and trials of six major psych meds in a the blink of an eye. But I feel like it’s time to move on.
I’ve written before about how I have tended to identify as being bipolar, rather that having bipolar, of feeling that it and I were indivisible. But the accumulation of all of this – especially this past year, when I have spent just a few weeks not in crisis care or hospital – has changed my perspective. Bipolar has become something was wrapped around me, choking me, like ivy that eventually kills off the tree that’s been hosting it. I’ve kind of backed away from being @BipolarBlogger for now, partially because Twitter’s become a nasty place in recent months, but mainly because I don’t feel like being totally wrapped up in mental health stuff all the time. I don’t know if I’ll go back to that identity, but for now I’m happier just being me.
And the predominant feeling now is now one of being me, of having got myself back. What do you know, underneath all the shit and the pain and the trauma, I was there all along.