#StopTheStigma

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

This picture of a woman looking frightened, chewing her nails, used in the www.all4women.co.za article regarding Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), published by The South African Depression and Anxiety Group on their Facebook page is completely misleading as to what GAD actually look like.

Continue reading “#StopTheStigma”

Look what my Mistress Anxiety made today … Choc Chip biscuits from scratch!

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

I’m no Master Baker or Master Chef but I am a Master at living with Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

I remember my first panic attack at six years of age, vividly. Yes, I’m on meds. Yes, I have a therapist… No, I don’t judge you because you once didn’t call your overbearing Mom till after you had a glass of wine. I too am an overbearing mom. #originalcast

I embraced a suggestion from my BFF, Wilhelm see Will’s Tasty Treats (over 15 years of sincere friendship and ample kicking of my ass) to help deal with the excessive anxiety I’ve been dealing with lately.

Continue reading “Look what my Mistress Anxiety made today … Choc Chip biscuits from scratch!”

Serenity Prayer for the anxious.

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

There has been a new normal in my life the past six or even eight weeks. While I still felt anxious daily (that never changes), I was also feeling in control, happy, content, relevant, productive and creative.

Last night I went to sleep feeling confused, unsure and scared. The uncomfortable, frightning but familiar black darkness came.

I tried dealing with the thunder clouds zapping in my brain first thing this morning but there was no break though of light. The dark clutched its hands around my throat and held on tight. I experienced restricted breathing all day. Tears on the brink behind my smile. Sadness. Despair. Hopeless.

By evening I was forcing myself to function which mainly consisted of trying to inhale. I knew if I took my anxiety meds I may fall asleep and it was not a good time. I held out as long as I could and slipped into the night.

I thought about a person dealing with alcoholism. The addict is always recovering no matter how long they have been sober. The addict identifies triggers and avoids them.

Perhaps my anxiety ridden mind is the same. If I am present enough, I do my very best to be aware of triggers and to sidestep them. I cannot for a moment entertain the negative, feeling misunderstood or even have sadness flow over me. It is like taking that first sip of alcohol.

As I lay my head on the pillow, it is with all that I am that I wish, pray, plead that this was just a bad day, a sip…. not an entire bottle of emotion to drown myself in.

♦️Insert serenity prayer here. ♦️

Oh Lord, help me to know the difference.

I wish you enough,

Wenchy

#DONTLabelMe

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

My bipolar diagnosis is not a label, it is but a heading for my mental health treatment plan.

People may be curious about your symptoms. Use the opportunity to educate your family and friends about mental health. Open the dialogue so that they understand that it is okay not to feel okay all the time.

I am diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder. I am not Bipolar. I do not need a label.

The T-shirt I’m wearing is from a limited-edition range that encourages the conversation around mental challenges and is on sale : HERE

The profits of the T-shirt sales will be donated to SADAG.

I wish you enough,

Wenchy

#DontLabelMe

#NetflixAndChill

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

I needed to renew a repeat script for Cymgen. A kick ass medication prescribed at my Fibromyalgia diagnosis in 2011.

I’m not always sure what the medication does. Where chronic illness ends and Wenchy starts. I’m very certain of what happens when I do not take my medication!

Even with the best medication, pain still creeps over my body rendering me powerless and incapacitated to deal with simple tasks at times. It steals time and experiences from me. I hate it.

People do not understand. I look fine. Actually I’m fabulous. I have no limbs missing, no open wound to sympathise with. My smile lights up the room I’m told. Sunbeam I am dammit.

I feel a smouldering anger at this faceless attacker. Cowardly, powerful asshole this nonsense is. There is nothing and nobody to direct these feelings to. Acceptance is not mine.

I can tell you that stopping this schedule five drug leaves my brain zapping as if searching for flickering connection. It is an awful feeling. My brain shaking inside my skull.

My skin crawls with anxiety, my breathing becomes shallow and I’m pretty certain others experience my behaviour as a drug addict needing a fix. It would be a pretty accurate observation.

I dropped my local GP an email who usually replies with my repeat script for the next six months.

Instead, I receive an email informing me that he would like confirmation of my illness before providing a script.

I tried to remain calm. A confirmation of my Fibromyalgia diagnosis, Generalized Anxiety Disorder or my ever popular Bipolar status? Just the one or all of the above?

Cymgen I’ve been told covers it all to a certain extend, as well as some of the physical pain.

Yes there are other medication I take as and when the need arises. Xanor is my lifeline for anxiety. I’m prescribed Synaleve and Tramahexal for pain. Neither deliver and I often find myself returning to simple Paracetamol and Ibuprofen.

I phone the doctors rooms. Phone calls usually numb me with fear, but when fueled by withdrawal all things become possible. My brain is zapping, hear me roar.

My tone is agitated. I explain that for the past two years the doctor has had no issue providing me with a script. Saving me the cost of seeing my Specialist Rheumatologist and mental health practitioner that all comes with a very special price. A price I cannot afford.

The doctor persists. A confirmation of my illness is required. I allow my Bipolar self free reign.

I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Manic Depression, later to be called Bipolar, at fourteen years of age. I do not remember the doctors name. I was 14. I’m 44 now. The doctor is probably dead. Where would you like me to find confirmation?

The Fibromyalgia is easier. I’m sure the Specialist Rheumatologist would be delighted to discuss my case at a small fee.

I explain that I had not realised it was my last script. I’m four days into withdrawal and I’m not a fucking delight.

The doctor is determined. Apparently it would be unethical to give me the script. A small unmedicated laugh escape my body.

So after two years you have developed an ethical bone in your body? It took you two years to figure out my schedule 5 drug is habit forming? Seriously?

My anger almost results in me resorting to making appropriate accents belonging in local sitcoms.

Now… my son Kev (love that child) gifted me access to Netflix. I have quickly adapted it to #NetflixAndChill. It sounds very urban hip to me. I feel so grown up.

My beloved and very composed 18 year old daughter, Victoria immediately told me #NetflixAndChill has a sexual connotation and could I please stop saying it. “Mom… MOM!”

No. I’m not. It makes me feel very chill and rolls off my tongue. #NetflixAndChill for everyone!

The other day I was all #NetflixAndChill watching a documentary on female killers as one honestly should when you are slightly demented.

This very lovely lady somewhere in the land of the free killed her mother while going through withdrawal from an antidepressant much milder than Cymgen, in my informed opinion.

Least we forget that I’ve been experimented on since I was 14 with new drugs as they were developed. Xanor is clearly a winner as that hasn’t changed and no, the thought if being addicted to this medication does not bother me an inch.

Two things I don’t want to feel. Anxiety and physical pain.

Having #NetflixAndChill-ed my way through female killers in withdrawal, I felt great sympathy for said killer.

Okay… killing people is not cool. Orange will never be the new black with purple hair but I totally understand how your brain zapping and allowing an anxious person to become alot more focus on you, could get your ass #NetflixAndChill-ed!

I did mention that withdrawal is not very ethical. Not once was I told to come into the rooms or go to the Emergency Room. Just zap there in the corner with your crazy eyes Suzanne.

It was late in the day and my body was aching from sitting in a conference all day. My brain zapped and my anxiety was soothed by @SirNoid talking calmly and Liam James making tea. Love them.

It did occur to my funny self that they did not even know about my #NetflixAndChill thoughts! I let them live.

The next day I found a script in my inbox. Very ethically my Liam James collected my medication.

I wish you enough,

Wenchy

“Is there no way out of the mind?” ― Sylvia Plath

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

Some say (flashback: The Stig) one does not admit to these subjects in public. What if your clients suddenly believe you are incompetent? What if people think less of you? If that is so,  it is their ignorance and not my inability to be real.

 

Anyone who regularly reads my blog knows that I deal with excessive anxiety on a daily basis. It never goes away.  It dulls at times,  but it never truly leaves.

I’ve been on and off meds since I was 14 when diagnosed. Nothing you can tell me about the condition,  it’s treatment or the influence it has on your daily life.

I am really battling at the moment.  I wake up with my skin crawling and I go to bed feeling like my breathing is constricted.

Nothing has to happen for this feeling to be heightened. It is not based on events.  It is almost my default emotion.  It isn’t fun.  It doesn’t make me unique or special or dysfunctional.  It simply is.

Everything I have achieved in my life was with this feeling present.  Every failure in my life happened with this emotion present.

I don’t really know a different baseline. Medication takes the edge off (for which we are truly thankful), talking, writing,  accepting yourself as you are,  it all helps.

In myself, my demons and I play.  My husband loves me,  my kids are good,  I am provided for,  I am steadily getting to do what I’ve wanted to do all my life, write. 2018 shows amazing promise.

I want to encourage others not to always believe everything you think,  to ask for help if you need it and to be true to yourself.

Your self-worth is not determined by others opinion of you.

I wish you enough,
Wenchy

You are on your knees before it, and it laughs.

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

I was diagnosed as bipolar before it was trendy. I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder which means anxiety is in jest, my default emotion in truth.

A friend on Facebook posted pics of famous people also diagnosed as bipolar. They all smiling, looking perfectly normal. Why? Because normal is a setting on a washing machine.

I would love to see your mental illness. This is me:

image

Break the stigma. If you have diabetes,  you would say so,  being treated for a mental illness is no different.

I wish you the spin cycle,
Wenchy

There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you’re high it’s tremendously.

The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people.

Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one’s marrow.

But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends’ faces are replaced by fear and concern.

Everything previously moving with the grain is now against– you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.

Kay Redfield Jamison,
An Unquiet Mind:
A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Which of the me’s is me? The wild, impulsive, chaotic, energetic, and crazy one? Or the shy, withdrawn, desperate, suicidal, doomed and tired one? (Gratitude 12/150)

Gemini, naturally bi-polar? This I don’t know for sure, but I do know the elation of extreme highs and the lowest darkness you cannot begin to imagine… unless like me you suffer from a mood disorder, amongst other things or hallucinate – I don’t have that party trick. No, I am not referring to being female.

I have been to both poles, have you?

First diagnosed with manic depression and anxiety attacks at the age of 14, and later as the medical profession became more sophisticated, Bi-polar II (yes, you even get different types – none is more fragrant than the other however) and Generalised Anxiety Disorder with emphasis on anxiety.

I have been on and off medication since. I have been called everything from mad, to excentric, different to fucking mental and bonkers, interesting, larger than life … – none offend me I assure you.

Funny how most mentally ill will take medication for all types of illness, no problemo but fuck can we fight against taking happy pills. The stigma, nobody must know ’cause they will think us weak, please wrap my package in brown paper! Heaven help us, people may think we mad! Fuck that. As far as I am concerned plenty people go undiagnosed who should be bloody medicated!

Personally I am openly bi-polar, I speak about depression and anxiety attacks – I may lighten the mood with my quirks at work some days, but it takes a very long time and confidence to be open about it. If I had AIDS, I would like to believe I would act similarly… you see in me blogging about illness, talking about it without shame or embarrassment it allows others to gain confidence that they are no less because medically they are labelled. There is no difference in being diabetic than being bi-polar. You would feel no shame in sharing you need insulin would you?

True, I would not at the start of an interview say, “Oh and btw, I’m bleeding bonkers” but hell if they hadn’t figured out yet by looking at me, my ability to do my job well should have them worrying less. This said my friend Suzette says I am not allowed to use the scissors unsupervised. 🙂 hahahahahah

This issue is what I get the most e-mail about. So many readers hiding in the mental closet. Hey, if gay people can get married and be proud, why do you feel you need to live in darkness?

Mania is wonderful, dangerous but oh so glorious. It is what I call feeling bullet proof – I can do ANYTHING. I can conquer the world and a find a new frontier while I am at it.

I work like a demon, I would spend more willingly (I am not a big spender) and my actions are erratic, unrealistic, busy, not dangerous to anyone but I’m HIGH for sure. High on life, love, sex, eating – elation. That part of bi-polar is fabulous! You can’t get enough. Duracell bunny has nothing on you!

You rearrange cupboards, move furniture around, fetch post for the first time in months, actually take the debt collectors call, you phone that principle back who wants to complain about your mini-me kid…. you want to do the 702 big walk, you want to see, feel, taste, smell everything and the entire world is in blue ray with surround sound and you love it! I may even answer the phone!

The down – not so much fun. You give one word answers. Getting out of bed is an achievement.

You give your kids a cupcake for breakfast that you would never usually do but it is the least fuss and frankly lets avoid all and any conflict. You feel invincible (and I am nogal hard to miss), a deep sadness and a void so big the twin towers could have ended up in your soul and you experience the horror, fear and eventually an evil sadness. It steals your joy, things you love doing you suddenly don’t care about.

You can watch paint dry if everyone would just leave you the hell alone. You are horrible company, cry with your sunglasses on cause you don’t want attention or to be asked “what’s wrong?” because you don’t know what’s wrong dammit!!! …can’t they see its the end of the world? “Snap out of it” is words that will turn your depression into violence and “tomorrow is another day” is equally condescending. Fuck off you wanna say but energy is lacking.

Is crap, right that moment you hope to never see tomorrow. You consider suicide but that would mean at least getting off the bed to go find pills (my choice, my right hand is not proper due to arthriti, so wrist cutting is out of the question and guns are so violent, makes a mess and I don’t own one!)

Then somehow, after doing nothing special… you slowly creep back out again and next minute you are spinning the wheel, the lights are flashing, you won the jackpot, you sun bath nude and life is abundant in colours and excitement.

Bi-polar the rollercoaster for the brave.

So – you medicate because if you have to tell one more psychologist your life story you may as well write the book without hiding the identity of those that will need to be placed in witness protection.

What medication does for me is to give me a middle ground. Not excessively HIGH and not suicidal LOW… it gives me balance and controls my anxiety levels. I’m less fun in my opinion, more numb but nicer to live and work with since you go between mania and depression so often – it makes me more predictable (mediocre ugh).

I get anxious easily and need reassurance often – a pain in the ass. For that reason I sometimes think I shouldn’t have married ever, I should never have had kids, I should have been a nun, except I’m only Catholic on Friday’s to eat fish and I like sex… God and me… we also have issues, so that wouldn’t have worked out well. Sorry God!

This is my thought pattern purely because I am hard work at times (not always) and I find it devastating to think who I am is a burden. I hate owing anyone anything and don’t want them wasting their time thinking they can cure me, put me back together again.

All the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t put Wenchy back together again if they tried! I was never meant to be together. I was meant to be ME,  to share my story so somebody else can feel less shame in a world where we constantly bombarded with what is “normal”, to be more “positive” and not be humble enough to say “Hey… we ALL HAVE ISSUES, these happen to be mine and I am doing the best I can – sometimes even I am normal and positive!”

In short let me give you some medical background to understand why madness doesn’t offend me – it explains how my body was put together – but IT DOES NOT DEFINE WHO I AM AS A PERSON:

Bipolar disorder is a physical illness marked by extreme changes in mood, energy and behaviour. That’s why doctors classify it as a mood disorder.

Bipolar disorder – which is also known as manic-depressive illness and will be called by both names throughout this publication – is a mental illness involving episodes of serious mania and depression. The person’s mood usually swings from overly “high” and irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, with periods of normal mood in between.

Mood swings that come with bipolar disorder are severe, ranging from extremes in energy or “highs” to deep despair. The severity of the mood swings and the way they disrupt normal activities distinguish clinical mood episodes from ordinary mood changes. ”

but wait, there is more!

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is much more than the normal anxiety people experience day-to-day. Chronic and exaggerated worry and tension, even though nothing seems to provoke it. Having this disorder means always anticipating disaster, often worrying excessively about health, money, family, or work. Even though sometimes the source of the worry is hard to pinpoint. Simply the thought of getting through the day provokes anxiety.

Generalised anxiety disorder is characterised by feelings of threat, restlessness, irritability, sleep disturbance, and tension, and symptoms such as palpitations, dry mouth, and sweating. These symptoms are recognised as part of the anxiety syndrome rather than independent complaints. The symptoms overlap greatly with those of other common mental disorders and we could regard the disorder as part of a spectrum of mood and related disorders rather than an independent disorder.”

http://www.sadag.org/

Today I am thankful that I do have the capability to reach others and to say out loud, “ME TOO, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.”

“There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you’re high its tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one’s marrow. But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends’ faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against– you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.”
— Kay Redfield Jamison (An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness)