(though not necessarily in that order)

(though not necessarily in that order)

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

I fought

I fought so hard to get out of the revolving door of psych ward admissions. It was a fight, it was a damned difficult one.

Right now, I can’t quite remember why I did it. Why I felt that I should change into a less desperate human. With responsibilities, with purpose and all. 

Now, externally, I’m probably just your average common garden madwoman. Clearly not “normal” by any extents or purposes, but quirky and bubbly and smiley and harmless. As someone said, when I divulged a history of depression – “but Hannah, you are the most happy chirpy person I know”. From how my life is, I’ve clearly got some background with something, but to those around me I’m this happy Hannah. Who doesn’t want to offend, so when trying to criticise ends up using weird metaphors and sound effects rather than just saying the bloody comment. (Last week, whilst conducting I ended up saying something about carrots growing, and if we let their tops grow too quickly it is a straggly mess. Basically, I wanted to tell the group to enjoy the end of this piece instead of ignoring my arm movements and just speeding up and up until it collapsed onto the last note.)


Inside I’m not coping. I’m utterly conscious of the world and of myself. Church this morning smelt powerful, the words reverberated around my skull, deflecting off the voices and the noises that fill it. I noticed for the first time ever the tiny little flowers in the fabric on one of the side altars – I’ve been into this church most weeks since I was 2 days old, I’m employed by this church for goodness’ sake, that altar hanging hasn’t changed in my lifetime, yet I noticed the little 5 petalled flowers today as I was kneeling to receive communion. I still went to church, I needed to go to church for a bit of stability.

Being conscious of everything is overwhelming. Being conscious of the fact my grandmother died 8 years ago on Saturday. Being conscious of the fact the first time I injured myself for the reason of injuring myself was 7 years ago today. Being conscious that the world stinks. That I’m not fixed. All those hospital admissions to just keep me safe, all those therapy sessions in which I fought the case for Hitler being a far better person that I and the psychologist tried to make me see the alternative point of view, all those scars, all those tears, all that hurt. Whether I was broken or whether I broke as a result of catalysts, who knows. Hannah version 2 is painfully aware she is different to Hannah version 1. The version that had this wonferdul grandmother who was opinionated, hugely intelligent, kind and accepting, hilarious and most of all was here. I can’t hear her voice anymore, my brain has forgotten it. I could get out an old video cassette of some event when I was a child, maybe the fairly self-explanatory “Hannah is 5” video which has dodgy cam-corder recording of my 5th birthday party and listen, but I’m not sure I can deal with the inevitable sobbing which would result. It feels like my ribcage is about to collapse as it is, huge proper crying won’t help that. The crying now is enough as it is.

Words aren’t my comfortable medium at the moment. Music isn’t either, from what it seems. Maths is hard, but is being done so I don’t flunk my degree.  

The beauty of being mad is I see the world in different ways. I’m hearing the birds in the trees, the fact that the grey branches on the bare trees are going brown and red.  It might be grey and foggy and cold, but little things are making the difference. I just wish sometimes that it wasn’t so hard to see the world in my way. It doesn’t feel very much like the place I used to feel comfortable in, and I don’t know why.

I can’t remember why I fought to become me. The reasons, whatever they were, have been lost in my head over the last few days. Me, with grand plans for the world, with grand plans for me. But the overwhelming urge is just to ask “Why?” and I can’t answer that today. I couldn’t yesterday either.  Or the day before, as I sat in my grandfather’s house helping him with putting photos in frames (The most recent photograph of me is of me aged 11 – this podgy face with octagonal rimmed glasses smiling at the school photographer as if I smiled he would let me go back to class. Should probably find him a more up-to-date one at some point.)

I fought and I fought and I fought. And as I can’t remember why, it feels fairly futile to have done so. Why did I think I had got over it? Why did I think that changing into who I am now would make the difference? Why did I think it was worth the effort?
Today, I don’t know. And that is both petrifying and horribly depressing.

Apologies for the incredibly dark outlook. All should be more normal by St David’s day. One small week and I should be on the way back up. Or rather, just getting better at plodding through this without feeling so desperate.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Pianos, again.

I've got something to say. Not a good thing either.

The piano has become scary again.

It's stupid. The only time I've sat at the piano in the last week has been to singing nonsense songs. Which are generally rather quaint short pieces, with silly words and not difficult piano parts. Where the main thing is sounding like a silly wally. Which I can do, fairly easily.
Earlier today, I wanted to go and sit at the piano. To tentatively place fingers on keys and play something. Anything.
I didn't. I busied myself with other things and it before I knew it, it was time to go out.

I didn't want the disappointment. Or the almost-explosive buzz, if that was what was going to happen. Or the feeling that somehow my poor beloved mellow piano was just an extension of my brain - it has done nothing to deserve that torture....

This evening, I went to a concert. It was fabulous. It was piano music too. Not just any piano, a bright red grand piano. Played by James Rhodes (seriously ace, look him up if you haven't heard of him). His playing gripped me. I felt like I was a speck of dust sitting inside the piano, underneath one of the strings. Involved in the very act of making the music. Even though I was sitting about 30 yards away with a load of chairs and tables and people in the way. Music does that, it suddenly transports me to within it at times. In the way I feel I jump into the mathematical world each day, I pop up in the musical world - it is less of a concious choice (unlike the maths, which feels very much part of my concious way of living, but one I never plan to change) but more choice I'm somehow compelled to make.

I'm frightened of the piano. So many hopes and fears lie in it's 80-odd keys (it is an English piano and doesn't quite have the full 88 keys. I think it has 85 keys, though I may be incorrect and I'm too frightened to go and count). So much rests on that next note I play. If it doesn't feel right, how can I sit at it for long? How can I force myself to play if I can't feel the music? If it feels brilliant, how can I stop myself from overdoing it? How can I force myself to resist it's lure 24/7? I'm frightened it will be a disaster. That this piano monster will eat me as soon as I dare sit on the piano stool. That I'll feel the piano 'knows' too much about me so I can't let it see me again any time soon.

Somewhat at juxtaposition to all I've written above, I have an inbox full of piano related queries waiting to be answered in the morning proper. People wanting me to play for rehearsals, to confirm concert details, to ask what my rates would be for various things. Doesn't exactly help the "I'm a fraud, I'm a mathematician in musicians clothing" type thoughts. I am surely not the best pianist in town, I'm scared of the piano right now. Gritting my teeth and playing for these things (I, realistically, will say yes to most stuff as I need the money. And each event is very likely to lead to more events and I probably need the money to those too....) feels alien and like I've zapped the enjoyment out of the piano. I always said I chose maths because I didn't want to lose the fun from music by studying it too much. Now though, the music has become this huge force I need to fight with.

I was wrote this: clicky about pianos once, hence why this is called "pianos, again". Today, I can hugely appreciate the piano as an instrument, I can sit in awe at the talent of others, but I'm unable to sit at the piano myself. I'm sure like old friends who you can pick up where you left off years ago I'll get to the piano in the next few days.  To not be able to play physically hurts. To be able to play feels like an invisible goal I'm aiming towards - I'm not entirely convinced I'll ever get out of this cycle of love/hate with the piano. It has kept me alive, played such a huge part in my life and I'm unable to mentally cope with that right now.

So, pianos. Can't live comfortably with 'em today, couldn't possibly live without 'em. Just need to get the two sides of me, the "piano is great" and the "run, run away, run from the piano" sides to coincide at "run, run, run towards the piano" now. *sigh*

Friday, 4 February 2011

GP versus me, part *fumes*

Yes, this is angry. Yes, it probably seems like I'm making a storm out of a ripple in a teeny tiny puddle, but...

Went to the GP again on Monday (I can't be bothered to find links to the other posts on this, but they are there somewhere). She was going to discuss my case with another GP then make a decision about where to refer me.

I, in the course of the appointment, said that I clearly hadn't taken the painkillers daily throughout the whole 2 month prescription as I only ran out after nearly 2.5 months. I am forgetful, I am not always completely on top of that "functioning" thing, I'll admit that. Anyway, letter in the post this morning:

"We agreed that there is unlikely to be anything significant going on. I wonder if you could be fastidious about remembering to take you [painkiller name] on a regular basis. In fact you could ring in in a fortnight's time and let me know how you are getting on. If you are no better then we will have to refer you but a proper trial of the anti inflammatories would be quite useful. Yours..."
So clearly I'm not experiencing pain, it is all in my head. Clearly. Because I've got a ridiculous sized set of notes all of which are to do with my mental health. And I forgot to take some tablets on the occasional day (and then usually regretted it the next day when I hurt more, but kept to only taking them in the evening so I didn't get out of sync with it) so I couldn't possibly be in significant pain. No, surely not! All part of my mind complaining about the imminent discharge from mental health services, I bet.
The fact I hurt too much to walk to my nearest work place on a daily basis isn't enough. Where I have to give in and use my last 5 pounds in my purse to get a taxi home from the station because I simply can't face the walk. Where I feel I'm going to miss out on Spring because I can't go for long walks in the countryside and the changes in the trees out of my bedroom window are going to be it.

She tried to ascertain whether I was stressed. Said how difficult she thought studying maths is. I felt like saying (as she was moving my leg up to my head, so I wasn't exactly able to form sentences as I was more concerned about not falling off the bed which was a distinct possibility) "Look, firstly maths is what is keeping me sane. I love it. Its frustrations are not stressful but utterly amazing. Secondly, I'm sure med school was far more stressful, so don't take pity on me for basically studying out of a love of the subject. The only thing I am really worried/stressed about is my body not working." What I did say was "No, I'm not stressed about it." and then nearly fell off the bed...

Clearly though, I'm a nutcase. Who is covered in scars, so clearly will always be one. Who is going to be referred iff (sorry, if and only if, I'm a mathematician, we take shortcuts in writing, y'see, oh just like medical peeps do...) she doesn't shut up and stop moaning and takes her painkillers. It makes it sound like they will only refer me if they have to if I don't get better with the not-particularly-strong painkillers. And will do so begrudgingly.

Every appointment I'm fighting with my inner "they'll never believe you, you are deemed mad" voice. Every appointment has taken days to work up to even getting there. I ran out of meds on Friday, but all of last week couldn't consider getting to see her as I hate doctors. I only went on Monday because I was desperate enough to put my distrust of things to one side. Doctors, especially those in a non-mental health setting, don't believe me. They didn't believe I had taken what I said I had when I turned up to A&E looking very ill, throwing up and accompanied by 2 security guards and a nurse - my blood results meant I was clearly a lying scum who just wanted an admission to the psych ward. (Err, no. I ended up in A&E after I was found and was too physically unwell to persuade them I was not going to go to A&E. CLEARLY I didn't want a psych ward admission, I couldn't think of anything worse. Sadly, they got their way and I spent a weekend in a room with paint falling off the walls and Ms SnoreALot behind a curtain as they were shared rooms. The next week I was admitted again and spent 3 months behind the locked doors as I did for what was meant to be my first semester at university.) And then in a mental health setting, they end up inferring I'm some seriously mentally ill person at times as they over-believe me. I can't win.

I can't help but think they've decided I'm lying. That because my memory is shit I must not be in the pain I say I am. This one paragraph letter, with a misspelling too, has depleted my spoons for the day to fairly low levels because I am getting worked up about it. The fact I'm talking about spoons indicates I'm not exactly feeling like a physically healthy being.

Anger is good. Let it all out, they say. I can't go on an angry walk, or play the piano angrily, or rip material as I haven't got the strength. So, GP is now on my "arsey-feckers" list. I'm in pain. And have not even opened my books today yet to start studying. Fabulous. *screams*
It feels like a kick in the teeth. Like I can't be trusted to know I'm physically not right, because I've spent 8 years in the mental health part of the NHS.  The thing is, without trying to self-diagnose from the internet but just doing a bit of rummaging around being as impartial as I can be/talking to a few others who are in a far worse state physically that I am, I think there is a possibility I'm going to be involved in the system for a while. That is if I give in and go back to the GP. Of course, right now, it feels like I should just give up with finding answers and do my best to carry on living as I am and do things alone. I'm not sure I can though. Arrrggh, arsey-feckers. She seemed so bloody helpful on Monday too - had no idea what it is but talked about different teams to refer me to as if some progress was being made.