It’s been a week since I’ve been taking 10mg of Aripiprazole. I’m not sure how I feel about them. I am finding it hard to relax or concentrate. I don’t really want to go back on the Olanzapine as they made me eat loads and put on weight so I will give these a bit more of a chance. Ideally, I would like to come off medication completely in the next month but I’ll have to wait and see whether that is a good idea or not.
My sister, Caroline, told me about Rufus May who is a clinical psychologist with some very radical and interesting ideas about mental health. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young man and went on to study psychology. He now claims that there is no such thing as schizophrenia. I watched a video where he helps a young doctor who is suffering psychosis to work through her problems without using drugs at all. He says that medication makes people stupid and there are better ways to deal with mental health. You can watch the video here.
I have been staying at my dads this week in Manchester. It was good to see the city again after fifteen years but sad to see that my old halls of residence have been knocked down and the place is quite unrecognisable! I am debating whether to attend a course there next week called A Many Splendored Thing: Writing (Well) About Relationships it is a three day course and I’m not sure if I have enough energy to do it but it sounds great. Tune in next week to see if I go or not!
Today I am one step closer to getting back to Thailand; I managed to get my passport form sent off at last. When I was in Bangkok my husband put my passport on the roof of the car and drove off. I had to get an emergency passport to travel home. Somehow this didn’t stress me out at the time. I believed that I didn’t need a passport! I thought if I just turned up at the airport, they would know who I was and let me on any flight I wanted! Luckily Ellie and Tam convinced me to get the emergency passport. Which was not easy! A lot of filling in forms and waiting in queues ensued. It was very stressful. I also lost my visa along with the passport and had to pay 20,000baht just to get out of the country (around 400pounds). Hopefully the passport will come back before I head down to London on 12th June. I am really looking forward to seeing my friends down there and in Brighton.
Another exciting event of the last week was my first night out in five months! I went to the Fleeting Inn, a pop up pub, in York with my sister, Caroline and her husband John. We saw a couple of bands there and I drank one bottle of cider. Then we went home via the kebab shop 😀 I also took the last of the Olanzapine and am solely on the Aripiprazole now. Olanzapine is associated with weight gain and I have certainly been eating a lot while I have been on them. Hopefully I will be eating less now although I do think I eat out of boredom and habit. I’m also addicted to Kitkat chunkies 😛
When I was psychotic I didn’t read any books. Even if I’d wanted to (I didn’t – I thought I knew everything). When I came back to England and my recovery had started, I really wanted to get stuck into a good book, especially as I had been banned from the internet. But I couldn’t. My vision was blurry from the medication I was on and I was manic so couldn’t concentrate on anything. It was so frustrating. I love books! Irvine Welsh and Paulo Coelho being my favourite authors and Filth being my favourite book. Before my breakdown I would have two or three books on the go. I have since learnt that this is a sign of mania. So recently I decided to try and concentrate on one book. I however managed to end up reading two! The first one was ‘The Husbands Secret’ by Liane Moriarty, as recommended by my mum. It was surprisingly easy to read and I was overjoyed at being able to concentrate and finish the book very quickly. It is the kind of book that keeps your interest right to the end, even though we find out the secret about half way through the book. Written from the perspective of different women all entwined into the same story, this novel really sucks you into their world of mothering, love lives and heart ache. There are some good twists and turns along the way which make this book a real page turner. I also read ‘The girl with all the gifts’ by M R Carey, which was epic and took me a while longer to read. It is a fascinating story about a futuristic zombie apocalypse. Melanie is the girl with all the gifts and this story follows her and the people in her life on a life or death mission. If you enjoyed 28 days later and/or 28 weeks later you will LOVE this book. In fact the whole way through reading this book I could imagine it as a movie. It could very well be 28 months later and 28 years later! Either way I really hope they do make this into a movie as it would be amazing. I found some of the scientific parts a little hard to follow but they make this brilliant piece of work really thorough and realistic. Be warned though; this book will give you the CREEPS!!
Last week I attended a support group for LGBT people. Although this label does not really apply to me (despite believing I was a transgender woman when I was psychotic), the group welcomed me with open arms nonetheless. The group was mainly older gay men and everyone was lovely. There was no agenda as such, everyone could talk about whatever they wanted. I did feel a little out of place but for me I love the LGBT community so much, that’s one of the reasons I ended up living in Brighton for so long. The gay scene in York is somewhat nonexistent so it’s good that there is a place for people to go. The support group is held once a month and I think I will go again. I think it’s great that people can identify with these sorts of groups and find support in the gay community but honestly I believe that everyone is multi-sexual. I mean, is that all the options? Straight, lesbian, gay, bi or trans? Personally I like to think of myself as tri-sexual. As in I’ll try anything once! Ha ha.. and what about this woman who’s in love with a tree? I believe in human rights and that is why I am going forward with a campaign to help bring my husband to this country.
As it was a bank holiday I got to spend Monday with my sister, Ellie and niece, Drew in Leeds. We went to see Cinderella at the Everyman Cinema which has really comfy sofas to sit on. Cinderella was magnificent! Helena Bonham Carter was the highlight as the fairy godmother. I did get slightly emotional but that’s just the way I am feeling at the moment. We also met up with my friends Matt and Jam at a burger joint where we had epic oreo and peanut butter milk shakes!
So back to York, the capital of Yorkshire. Trying to recover and get well. I take my 10mg of Olanzapine daily but they make me really tired and hungry so I am slowly being weaned onto Aripiprazole which I will solely be on in four weeks time. During this transition I feel quite heavily sedated and sleeping for at least twelve hours per night. I try and get to the gym most days swimming or taking a Zumba class. The rest of my time is filled up with seeing social workers, psychiatrists, doctors and councilors. But mostly I am pretty bored. My dream is to get back to Thailand and set up my own business.
My lovely husband, Tam, was by my side every single harrowing moment of my breakdown. He has not been granted a visa to come to England. This is very upsetting and my family and I are lodging an appeal to try and bring him here. I miss him like crazy and we talk every day on Skype. I currently live between the four houses of my mum, sisters Ellie and Caroline in York and my dad’s place in Manchester. It isn’t ideal for my recovery to be on the move all the time but they are all very supportive and caring.
Caroline is two years older than me and Ellie is five years younger. They both work in mental health and have been amazing through this difficult time. Caroline came to Bangkok with my dad while I was in hospital (mum was already on ‘holiday’ with me) and saw me at my ‘girl, interrupted’ stage. I sadly have very little memory of this time. When I was discharged Ellie came out for two weeks and literally saved me and brought me home to the UK. I actually remember a lot of fun times during this period although I was very much psychotic and hallucinating.
I currently take 10mg Olanzapine and 5mg of Aripiprazole. Next week I will change to 10mg of Aripiprazole and 5mg of Olanzapine. After two weeks I will come off the Olanzapine completely and just be on the Aripiprazole. I am changing meds because the Olanzapine makes me really tired and hungry. They were, however, a massive improvement from the very old fashioned drugs I was on in Bangkok – risperidone andlargactyl. These made me so heavily sedated that I felt like a shell of a person. My personality was completely repressed and I felt awful.
I still feel somewhat strange and not quite myself. But that will take time. Hopefully I will be off the anti-psychotic drugs completely one day.