(though not necessarily in that order)

(though not necessarily in that order)

Thursday, 15 September 2011


[Greetings earthlings et al. Apologies for the absence, words been a bit wonky as of late. Not entirely sorted on that front. Anyhow, need a splurge of the melodramatic variety, so... I'm back! *waves frantically in a dorky manner*]

Uncomfortable. That's about the only word to describe it I think.

I feel uncomfortable.

I've been thinking (people always warned me that was a bad idea...). Thinking about how I got support thrown at me when I was "a risk to myself". How come I ended up with all this support when others fight for an initial assessment? What bugs me is that I think I got the support and understanding and stuff because I was the "mad genius" type. The young mad genius type - you know, that "What potential! (pause) So sad and unfortunate that she's so mad" type. The effort others put into my support was disproportionate to that put into others. Even on psych wards, where it was blindly obvious sometimes that I was treated differently. Not better, per se, just different. Allowed books, digital radio, the psych ward keyboard, etc etc (until I tried to strangle myself, then the radio/keyboard went fairly quickly along with the power cables...) in a way that others weren't allowed deodorant or a tooth brush. I can't imagine it was a risk thing, I mean I was hardly of low-risk status in this particular psych ward.

Was my "potential" reason for people to invest time and effort in me, in a way that it wasn't for others? I may be academically fairly sound, but that doesn't give me more potential than others. I strive for success, I've always found it in the academic. Easy to apply myself, get a high mark, feel happy/relieved with self. And everyone has fed into that, as I've always surrounded myself with people expecting that (including parents and the like). I've expected it, I've achieved it, as it were.

I'm not doubting for one moment that my impending doom finals being over in under 764 hours has something to do with this thinking. I'm striving for a first, people around me are expecting a first, I'll be disappointed with anything less than a first... see how the cycle feeds itself? Easily done, y'know. And whilst everyone else would get used to the idea of a 2.1, I couldn't. And I'm petrified I'll get a 2.1.
I know the world doesn't just look at exam results, I know.
In other people, I really couldn't care two asparagus shoots what exams they've passed, or not passed, or not even attempted.
But me, I am the academic. I'm not particularly friendly, or amusing, or... [insert other "positive" attributes here]. I'm happy being the academic. It is what I am.

But why did I get that support? Why did the system work to get me back to "normal enough to not need to be on the books of a MH team"? According to my psych, in a letter to support a claim for DSA a few weeks ago, I'm still as mad as ever. But I'm sufficiently non-mad too. But this help, was it all because I clearly was a mathematician who can do maths, even when bonkers?

I hate my perceived intelligence at times. Focus and perspective are lacking and all that. I hate to say it, but sometimes I wish I weren't so fecking intelligent. Not in a big headed "I'd like to be dumb" just "I'd like to be more normal". Painfully uncomfortable at being me, in a way. Makes it more tricky, that's for certain.

Yesterday was my first proper mad day in a while. To the point where I was planning to have a mini-breakdown in front of a group of musicians to get some help on a load of work I can't physically do as I don't have the time (let's just say I wimped out and spent 2 hours bouncing around using up far too much energy given what reserves I had). Voices were crazy, the faceless people were back, I haven't had the faceless people crowding each room for about 2 years, I was shaking, people were laughing at me in the town and the police helicopters overhead were in fact looking for me, to take me to hell pysch ward. Today I've had the people once, all lined up at the window peeking (well, considering lack of eyes, maybe peeking is the wrong word) in at me. Yesterday I had to leave my purses at home. A conscious thing, to stop myself from trying something. It scared me, to be honest, scared me that actually I would have easily taken an overdose if I had "a spare 20 minutes in my day" and some cash on me.

It feels uncomfortable, because everything depends on this next 4.5 weeks. Everything I know then slightly/greatly changes. My work situation is also changing, as shortly after that my church life is changing fairly radically.
Musically, I'm 4.5 weeks from ramping up my musical life for 9 months.
Mathematically, I'm 4.5 weeks from simply awaiting results. In about 3 months time, I'll know. And be starting to apply for post-grad stuff.

Uncomfortable as my body fails a bit more. I know I'm having a wobbly few weeks, but things have been crap. Can't put it down to hormones being skewiff given the timings involved, but I'm not ready to admit defeat on things. However I hurt, and I wish I didn't.

Uncomfortable as I still feel a fraud. A madwoman in positions of responsibility. A musician in mathematician's clothing. Or a mathematician in musician's clothing. Or a fucking horrendous disaster in a glorified superwoman status. So hard, when so many seem to like me. Someone pointed out that one way to stop me getting asked to do so much was to do things badly, given that then I wouldn't be asked again. Then they pointed out that I probably couldn't do that, however much I'd like the end point. Because that isn't me. Meh.

So yeah, I'm uncomfortable. And the cracks are showing. And people are starting to realise. And people are starting to realise that the stresses aren't exactly fixable immediately. And what if I was given more help (however crappy it was) because I seem intelligent? THAT, that right there, feels wrong. Especially when I'm so bloomin' pissed off with my brain.

[Told you it was splurge of the melodramatic variety...]

[Disclaimer: I am still probably safe to not involve the dreaded MHPs. I am still probably a competent teacher/mathematician/musician/X/Y/Z. I am still probably going to be OK. Just... well... I can't be certain of the future right now. That's what stinks quite a bit.]


  1. Just to say - I sympathise - the first psychiatrist I saw said to me, "You're worth it" (though I never saw him again, so I wonder what he meant) - and: take it easy - I'm sure that you're going to be OK ...

  2. It's really hard to know exactly what help other people on the psych ward had been given previously, or why you seemed to be treated differently.

    It might be because you're smart, not because that gives you some sort of extra worth -- it doesn't, and you know it, and that's one of reasons why the P word bugs you so much -- but because people realised that you are smart enough to learn how to cope with being mental. Stupid people who hear voices and see faceless people are just not going to be able to cope, and it makes sense from the point of view of a medical person to concentrate effort where it will do some good.

    It might be because you have a family and some external support that was functional enough that people thought getting you well enough to go home wasn't totally pointless. There are people for whom this isn't true. It might be because people could see that you were trying, really trying, to get better. It might be because of all sorts of things. It's really hard to tell, because you don't have full data on anyone else and at the time you were busy being mad.

    You are more than your potential, and you are more than your past. For what it's worth I do think you are friendly, and you do have a charm which is amusing at times. But that isn't the point. You are YOU. You are you better than anyone else I know. You are you better than anyone else you know. And you are learning, all the time, how to navigate those bits of being you that are difficult, and how to enjoy those bits that are wonderful.

  3. Firstly: if you do ever find yourself with that spare 20 minutes, please fill it by texting/phoning/emailing me instead. [Yes you can even phone! :P] I'd do whatever I can to help you, you know that.

    You could survive less than a first, you really could. You might think not, but I remember a time when you were feeling the same way about where you studied, certain colleges/unis having so much more weight* than others and you feeling really crap when you went elsewhere. But here you are now, a few weeks away from a first [or not, point is a few weeks from the end] and the Where doesn't matter at all when it did so much previously. So you can change your plans, you can get different results from what you originally intended and still survive if it's not what you thought it might be.

    You are more than an academic, much much more. Yes you ARE funny and amusing and caring and lovely and a bloody good friend [see the phone comment above for proof of how much I mean that! You know I wouldn't to just anyone]. When I think of you, I don't think "academic" I think "friend". And "honk", but mostly "friend" ;)

    As to what you've been offered due to that, well yeah probably it's true at least in part. That's quite a common way for services to work, I'm not going to try to explain it or excuse it because I don't agree with it. But I will say this: you have absolutely deserved every bit of support you've ever got, you have never asked for nor taken more than you needed, in fact you've often tried to push away rather than taking more. The amount of support you've received has no bearing on anyone else's; if you had refused/declined/negotiated for less it doesn't mean that someone else would've got more, it wouldn't have benefited anyone for you to go without. So whatever the reason you may have had different treatment to others, there's no need to feel guilty about it. Services work how they work and 99% of the time we're not going to have any say in the matter. There have been times I've wished for you that you've had more, better support than you've had. So don't feel in any way like you shouldn't have got it or you had too much or it was for the wrong reasons because it just doesn't work like that. And don't feel that you have to get this first to justify it all or something, because it doesn't work like that either. You are what you are, you'll get whatever it is you're capable of and your friends will be cheering you on when you do xxx

    *sorry that's not the right word, I can't think of the one I want, you can figure out what I mean though =]

  4. I'm sorry to hear that you've not been feeling too good. I'd like to say that I'm also bipolar and that I also got a first plus a master's degree. Parallel to the time when I achieved these academic goals, I was up and down with some highs and horrible long depressions. I got suicidal sometimes but the thought of the people who loved me (including a young daughter) always pulled me back. Then they found the right dosage of Lithium for me and I've never looked back. Not only have I not been ill, I've lost the fear of becoming ill. Just sayin' in case you haven't tried it. Of course not all drugs work the same for different people.
    If you're feeling negative about your life, just remember all the people, cats and rats who love you and depend on you. And don't push yourself too hard.

  5. Oh pooooo. I wrote a long and reasonably articlulate reply, and the Internet ate it. Bah.

    I think that mhp offer extra help, allowances, etc because it's clear to them that you'll respond to it positively... That it'll benefit your recovery. I seem to get the same thing, too. Whilst I greatly appreciate it, it makes me feel a bit funny also - I wonder why they think I'm special, then worry that I'll dissapoint. But of course, it's not like that. They are just human beings, responding to something they see in another human being.

    As for all the other stuff, please know that you'd still be the same Hannah to me, if you got a third, a first, or even didn't take the sodding exam. It is ok to not be perfect, it's ok to disappoint, and to be disappointed. None of that can take away from what's really you. The Hannah we see. Funny, self-deprecating, honest, sensitive, insightful and wise. The Hannah I've come to value and love dearly as a very precious friend.


  6. Hi, could you possibly put a widget on your blog so peeps can follow your posts via email?

    Your posts are totally fab, but i don't visit blogger that often anymore after moving my own blog about music and bonkersness over to the enemy, ahem, wordpress.

    Best hugs,