This is only my second entry into the bipolar diary. And the title is slightly exaggerated as neither days, today or yesterday, or the day before, really count as major mania or depression, but do hit on the bipolar Richter scale as tremors. *Looking back on what I have written, I may have understated just now*.
Use By Dates In Asda
Today as you might be able to tell from the date stamp is Saturday 18th March 2017. As a side point, my visits to Asda for my usual Americano, (which I have black from the machine but I also buy an small Asda cream and add half a pot of that to it) brought to my attention something I have noticed a few times with their use by dates. Since Thursday, most, if not all of the cream on display was dated “use by 18th March”. In the past, cream would be dated with a use by date a week from when it was displayed. Yesterday I noticed the dates were still “use by the 18th” and today, there is still cream on display that is “use by the 18th” still at full price. Most people will pick up the ones that are on their use by date today, because they were pushed to the front. I out of principle searched out the ones that were dated “use by 20th March”.
A few months ago I noticed there was milk that was out of date by a day at the front of the milk display. It was early enough to have been seen by staff, but it looked like it had been move by staff to the front. I handed it in to staff to take off the shelf. I’m growing a little suspicious that they are taking advantage of the fact that (1) Most people will use the smaller containers on the same day or it won’t make much of a difference a day out of date and/or (2) Most people won’t bother complaining over something that costs between 45p or 60p. And from a business point of view, to quote their rival Tesco, who have had their own scandals with out of date items on shelves, every little helps. Funny, too, that the government seem to have the same principle when it comes to the DWP and how much money they save when the most vulnerable people are the least likely to appeal over incorrect decisions at ESA or PIP Assessments.
Today & My State Of Mind
I am feeling much more productive than yesterday, but I have a lot to get through. I have a track I am working on, the first one in months, as I had come to a grinding halt due to depression, as is often the case with things I enjoy. It is worth considering that people who have depression do not pick and choose what they are too depressed to do, it is all or nothing. I have to admit to something though, I did accidentally pick up an addiction to codeine based painkillers along the years. I had managed to come off of them the hard way twice and stay off them.
Self Medication Time
I say accidentally because a family member was kind enough to give me what to most people would be a life supply of them when I had tooth ache. What he didn’t know, was they were highly addictive, so I never got the over the counter warning that they are addictive if you take them for more than 3 days. So having kicked my alcohol addiction, within years I was addicted to codeine. And quitting that, was a nasty business, especially when you do it the best way, which is cold turkey.
Back to my point. And I will state “don’t try this at home”. To take the edge off of both the mania, and the depression, I have had to self medicate a little, especially to cope with the sheer volume of fires I am fighting. I have my ongoing problem with JSA, where I have now received a letter asking me to contact them about how I am going to pay back the money I am supposed to owe them. But still nobody has done anything about my mandatory reconsideration (it is like they are deliberately hoping I will just go away or top myself).
Coping with all of the fires I am fighting
I also have to finish of my appeal info for the ESA where they cancelled my Assessment out of the blue and then told me I wasn’t entitled to it and for good measure said I owe them all of the money I have been paid. I was signed off JSA because I had a sick note, without even being able to discuss the options. And, I couldn’t backdate my claim from the date my ESA started (because if I owe them the money clearly I should still have been on JSA and they should use that money to pay the debt).
At the same time, as a knock on effect I now have to pay back all of the money I have received since being on JSA and ESA to the council that I received for Housing & Council Tax Benefit, and have to fight that. On top of that, I have re-applied for Housing & Council Tax Benefit since going back onto JSA. The DWP informed the council of my circumstances changing when it meant it being stopped and me losing money, but don’t inform them of circumstances changing when you are entitled to it. And these people are supposed to be here to support it’s citizens, not fuck them over and deliberately not be helpful. Anyway, this means I have had a very long wait without any rent money, and I was using my PIP towards the rent (which isn’t an option having scored zero points on my re-assesment). And I have a long wait for the council to process everything.
Anyway something has to give. I don’t have much in the way of help, so I have to deal with these things myself, and part of my illness is the fact that I have to wait for the right opportunity to get things like this done. Aside from the fact I am absolutely useless at dealing with these things full stop. Anything financial and i just hit a wall full stop. Not because I am lazy or thick, but my illness just leaves me all over the shop. So the self medicating is to help get some normality so I can get through this pile of unnecessary work, hopefully on time.
However what I am doing is sticking to the advice on how to properly use the painkillers. I am not taking them for more than 3 days at a time. And by the very fact I can actually stop once the three days is up, is a good sign in it’s self. Neither am I getting any withdrawal symptoms. 3 days on, 3 days off. I shouldn’t need to do this, but this is the reality at the moment if I am going to get through this and not just lay back and be shagged.
Yesterday was a big fat non-starter
On most days it takes me an age to get going, by this I mean I have a long routine from the moment I wake up, before I can function properly. If I jump too early, I feel physically ill, totally disorientated. The other side is that I just crawl back into my hiding place and get nothing done full stop. The routine would be as follows. Make a cup of tea (or boil the kettle and add a teabag to whatever is left in my massive mug already, adding milk or not).
Sit outside in my back garden, regardless of weather conditions for about half an hour drinking my tea and have about 2 cigarettes. I have too because the 2nd takes away woozy first cig effect any smoker will know (although it usually goes away if you have been smoking for as many years as I have, but on some days it just hits). Depending on how I feel I might warm up my tea with some more hot water and sit outside and have another cigarette. Then I will get mentally prepared to go to Asda for a coffee as step one of going to the gym. At this time, usually about 10:00am, the walk to Costa being 5 minutes longer, needs a bit of a warm up. I will sit in the quiet cafe at Asda for 15-45 minutes depending on how I am feeling. Then head down to Costa.
There I will get a small Americano and a Cortado if I still aren’t coming around to feeling normal. Often I will just sit outside avoiding people inside, for anything up to an hour. If I feel ok, I will head to the gym, which is close by. Sometimes I get as far as the gym and turn back, sometimes I know that I am never going to get going, and head home from Costa. Others I get to the gym with no problems. But there are 4/1 odds on me making it and the day being productive.
Yesterday was a non-starter and I binged on sweets and chocolate to get myself going. I tried coffee as always, and had a pre-arranged meet with my dad and it was too late to get out of that, otherwise I would have cancelled. Fortunately it was at Asda. Asda is about a 5 minute walk from my house. I originally wanted to go to Costa when I agreed to meet him (he has to travel some distance to get to me, and he is nearly 70), but that extra 5 minutes in distance was too much for me to want to walk there and back.
I would have gone back later on a good day, or gone to Costa (I usually go there before I go to the gym – the gym is somewhere I go on the advice of my specialist – see above), but simply did not have it in me. And it was one of my “gym days” as well. The irony is that my specialist thinks going to the gym will help with my depression, but the fact is when I am depressed, there is no way I am going to get to the gym. Not that Atos would take that into consideration.
There were loads of things I really wanted to do, I wanted to keep the momentum from the day before going, but it was a brick wall. It is so hard to explain when you live with it, as it is a normal part of life.
I had a mild feeling of mania which meant I felt I could take on the world. I didn’t get much sleep that night. I went to bed at about 4:30am as a result. I was on a roll. I did a lot of planning for my PIP appeal (I even uncovered more lies, and how the nurse used her skills in psychology like a dark art). I noticed different techniques being used to either get the answer she wanted, one was switching from asking about my physical abilities to mental at will, so it would throw me from one question to the next. Including asking me a question based on physical ability, then when I said “but” she would use it as a cue to interrupt and ask the next question so I couldn’t fully answer the question. Or she would interrupt when I was saying something relevant to score points, just to throw me, so I would forget where I was before. She also out and out lied on a number of things. I highlighted sentences on the report that did not tie up with what was on my recording, or which were just things she made up, and there ended up being more highlighted text than anything else.
Looking to the past to spot Bipolar
Funny thing with mania is that people get a lot done. For anyone with depression who might not have spotted they are bipolar. The reason is that we don’t pick up being ill based on things that make us feel great.
Mania has a load of issues that come with it (self-medicating), and leaving a trail of disaster, because of being confrontational and tiredness because we don’t sleep. Sometimes to put two and two together you have to look into your own history.
How many times have you lost jobs due to inappropriate behaviour? Never actually making it in due to just having too much going on and getting no sleep? Conflicts with bosses? With me there were very strange things that didn’t add up. How come I was always getting the attention of bosses for great work, getting promoted or on the edge of promotion, but then within months losing my job. How did I go from being such a highly regarded member of staff that was often held up as an example to others, to being so bad they couldn’t get me out of the door fast enough (if they could actually outsmart me in disciplinary hearings, which was rare, but even in those cases, depression would eventually be my undoing and I just would never turn up again).
All of that is probably useful for another article about living with bipolar and how to spot it, so I will leave it there. I am massively aware that I have a lot to do, and with a touch of mania I am doing that thing of self-medicating and getting distracted. Today I am supposed to be finishing off a track this afternoon, then from about 4pm getting to work on the PIP recordings. But just by spending so long on this diary entry, it gives you an indication of how distracted I am already.