day 52b: spinning the web

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“in a sheer and imposing cliff made of vivid stone, high above the River Kirtle in the south of Scotland, is the opening to a cold and dank cave. So legend has it, this was the lonely, desolate home of Robert the Bruce for three bleak months in the winter of 1313” from http://www.scotlandmag.com/magazine/issue25/12006744.html

well, it’s been a while. 16 months since my last blog

things have changed somewhat

boris_the_spider

I took a drink upon several occasions, decided many differing things, but I guess that I always wanted to come back here & write. Not all things have changed for the worse, but as usual, as far as alcohol is concerned – things never get better, always worse when I consume alcoholic beverage

unlike the tale of Robert the Bruce

hiding in a cave, Bruce was at a loss to know what to do in his battle against the all powerful English. In despair he noticed a spider. The spider was attempting to cross a gap in order to create it’s web, but the spider was failing to bridge said gap. Yet undaunted the spider tried, tried & tried agian

finally the gap was crossed & the web began to be spun

Bruce took inspiration, as do I from this moral tale:

if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

the Bruce went on to lead the armies of Scotland to defeat the powerful English king Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn on midsummer’s day 1314

victory snatched from defeat

yes, a simple metaphor, but it’s working for me, so far

so it goes

a day at a time again

I forgot that method & I moved way ahead of myself

a recipe to snatch defeat from victory

thanks if you have read this article

Boris

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day 51 part ii: pulling an all-nighter on an essay about Duchamp’s Bottlerack & the nature of my simulacrum

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I have an essay to write, last minute as ever. I thought that I work best under pressure

this is horsecrap. This is dysfunctional learned behaviour that I am attempting to overcome a day at a time by a process of self-inculcation & the learning of new habits & disciplines

there are reasons for this last minute cramming of the writing of the essay (I have done a lot of work already by the way & a heck of a lot of background reading) including a case of acute anxiety caused by the ATOS process being foisted upon me by the UK government in it’s politicisation of disability rights & benefits in the UK as they brutally cut 20% from the Social Security budget regardless of need

the essay concerns itself with 4 works of ‘art’

1 of them is Marcel Duchamp’s 1914 piece, Bottlerack. The original is lost now, thrown out by his sister as she simply mistook it to be a piece of mundane bric-a-brac which he would not need as he prepared to move his work & his life to the USA

there are copies, simulacra & many photographs taken by Man Ray

my life in many ways is a simulacrum. It is a copy without an original. The original is lost somewhere down the line

whether I lost it, it was lost or I destroyed it, or all of the above I don’t know

I don’t know where it went. I don’t know how I  got here. I don’t know where I went wrong. I don’t know whether I have always had Bipolar Disorder or if I developed it later in my life, possibly due to my alcoholic drinking. I don’t know how I began to drink alcohol the way that I did, but I always drank to get drunk from the start & I became an alcoholic. I don’t know where alcoholism stops & Bipolar Disorder begins. I don’t really know who or what or where I am at the moment. I guess that I may never know

but I damned well aim to find out & I am finding as I move away from alcohol that I am a tenacious bugger when I set my mind upon something

my mother, whom I am making a real effort to make amends to for the years upon end of hurt that I have caused her, has told me that when I was a child, an only child by the way of a single mother after my coward of a father abandoned us, alone in a foreign land, to set up his new family, then if I wanted something that I would not rest, that I would leave no stone unturned until I got what I wanted

but does it really matter if I find out or not?

well in many ways yes. Telling my own story has become important to me of late. My narrative, my story, is essential in recognising who I am & where I want to go

although today for now all that matters, right now, is the following:

I am diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder

I accept that

I am an alcoholic who has not had a single drink of alcohol for 51 days

I accept that

there is no cure, tough shite, get on with it Boris

I accept that

I am no longer a victim: whether it is to the callous abandonment as a child by my father or to my own self-neglect as an adult

or to anything else for that matter

I accept that

I will not allow myself to be defined by either alcoholism or Bipolar Disorder any longer

defining myself by these terms, these concepts, these definitions, for that is merely all that they are, has been useful in my struggle for liberation from my uneasiness & to grasp an identity when I was lost & struggling & alone in my wilderness

I no longer need to do that

I am Boris, simple. A simple man with simple needs

yet complex, like everyone else

a simulacrum of something I used to be, I can now remould myself into whatever I want to become, within rhyme & reason with hard work, dedication & discipline

& fun & laughter & love & light

I haven’t allowed myself much of that whilst drowning in the bottle that is alcoholism

it really is as simple as that

& this is progress

in the past, & to some extent now, because we all exhibit this behaviour, I have drifted like flotsam & jetsam. Aimless, lost

I don’t feel like that now, I feel okay

I shall utilise my insomnia to good effect tonight, without endangering myself overly

mindful of who I am & where I am & what I need to do

today

I do not go to bed anymore simply to lie there & toss & turn & mull over my life in a negative way as I did for years on end. This negative dysfunctional learned behaviour became second nature to me, I enjoyed it in a perverse way

my bed & my bedroom are blacked out now. It is for sleep & changing my clothes only (although I have about 7 layers on as it is bloody freezing in this old Permian red sandstone built flat right now)

bedroom is for sleep. I go to bed when I am tired & ready to drop off. I get up when I awake & am not going to drop off again

stet.

I am currently getting 2 periods of sleep per day. I awake early & I sleep for a few hours in the late afternoon. I see nothing wrong with this. Who’s to say that this is an unnatural pattern. As I live on my own & am self-employed then no-one else is affected – so be it

it works for me at the moment

if I worried about it then I wouldn’t sleep

Catch-22

okay, back to my essay. Barnett Newman next, his work Eve

if you have read this far then many thanks & goodnight

day 51: passing day 50, resetting my password & the sun is shining the weather is sweet but insomnia still I move my dancing feet

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it has been over 2 weeks since I last blogged. Yes it is in the Oxford English Dictionary, the source of all things etymological in my coloUrful language:

“…
Blog, v.

Computing.
intr. To write or maintain a weblog. Also: to read or browse through weblogs, esp. habitually
year of entry – 2000:   Whole Earth Winter 54/1   To blog is to be part of a community of smart, tech-savvy people who want to be on the forefront of a new literary undertaking

not sure about the habitually any longer, but I guess that I last wrote on the 25 October, 17 days ago, so that is not so bad

I have gotten (terrible word choice Boris, it is actually an adjective & not a verb but stet.) very busy in the interim. This is very good. Very good indeed

today I awoke to this:

Sunrise November 10 2013

this blog was a real lifeline for me. it quite literally & in all actuality saved my life. I became obsessed by this blog, so part of the reason that I pulled back was to do with that fact, as well as the password thing, which as an IT pro actually took me less than 10 minutes to solve once I had put my mind to it (I had to change 3 password on 3 accounts etc etc etc)

this week I have also gone through the UK government’s hateful ATOS Healthcare Ltd process. Bastards. A disgusting & disturbing political attempt to destroy the Social Security system for the sick & disabled in the UK. The Tories stated aim is to reduce the budget by 20% regardless of need. Regardless of need. What a bunch of cynical heartless millionaires, removed from the reality of what it is actually like to exist on the streets of Britain. The weirdest thing is that by making these sweeping draconian cuts, the budget will swell because people will have to pack in low-paid jobs that the State funds because greedy corporates will not pay proper living wages & folks will end up homeless & have to stay in expensive bed & breakfast accommodation

now who’s mad Iain Duncan Smith – shame on you – you are a disgrace for a Scotsman, you neo-Victorian anachronism, throwback, lickspittle, Cameron’s lapdog lackey, boot-licker, arse-licker more like

still your mind Boris, bollocks to all that for now, that’s another story, for another place

52 days ago I was considering killing myself. I hadn’t gotten [sic] as far as thinking about where I’d get the rope from, which bridge, which train or omnibus to jump underneath etc etc etc. I had gotten however to the point of not wanting to be on Gaia, not wanting to exist on this planet, or anywhere else for that matter. I didn’t want to be here. I was sick to death, literally, of what went on inside my mind, how I felt, the way that I thought, how I reacted, how I felt that I was being treated by the world & everything & everyone in it

I felt that I added nothing to the sum of the parts of Humanity

I felt that I indeed subtracted. I was less than useless

& I was useless to myself & to my mother who was dying inside as she saw her only son killing himself slowly & painfully with alcohol & she could do nothing about it for everytime that she tried then he spat it all back biliously in her face

low self-esteem: I had no self-esteem

I hated myself so therefore I had no option but to hate everything else

& I look at the Sunrise & I am filled with hope, like the last little being that came out of Pandora’s Jar

Hope

today I have Hope

& here is my desk as I write right now

Boris's desk

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

nothing has really changed

I have simply:

  • not taken a drink of ethanolic spirit on a daily basis
  • taken my medications at regular times which I now take from a simple daily dispenser (simple things for the complicated) (okay I have missed 2 doses due to genuine errors (& I felt higher that normal during those periods D’oh – I tend to the higher end of the spectrum in any case))
  • I have regularised my eating habits
  • I have tried to sleep although I still have insomnia (I was tempted to write suffered just now, but it is not suffering, I simply have insomnia at the moment, so I sleep when I am tired & I am getting 5-8 hours daily in 2 shorter bursts which is fine). My bedroom is now only for sleeping & changing my clothes in, nothing else (I am a single man)
  • I socialise regularly & have gotten (hahaha) into habit forming external activity patterns

I have found that the only thoughts of alcohol that I have been having are to think that I have not been thinking about drinking alcohol.

previous attempts to stop have involved Alcoholics Anonymous. Well good luck to them, but not for me. I do not believe in any gods, particularly a white Anglo-Saxon Evangelical 1930s-based Christian one, there is no fixed Big Book for me, written effectively in stone, ineluctable, worshiped, false idol. Most of it is plagiarise common sense taken from elsewhere anyway & there is no greater statistical chance of sobering up within AA than without. Show me the stats please

oh, you can’t – thought not. Don’t even publish them anymore

for me, I believe that AA set me back somewhat. But I don’t feel bitter now. I did. I have met many folks in AA who are role models to younger, lees experienced & desperate newcomers as they call them. I have seen these ‘old-timers’ abuse their priviledges & social status within the groups. I personally have been physically threatened by paranoid men who have been trying to bed women members & thought that I was a threat to their palns & schemes. I was not. They were simply ill

I knew a man very well for over 10 years who was 27 years sober when we last met. He chaired AA meetings, sponsored newcomers. He also beat his own kids who lived in fear of him (when he eventually managed to adopt from Social Services), he was constantly angry, he stole in kleptomaniacal fashion from all & sundry including his friends & what got me most is that when we played squash together (not only me by the way), he would occasionally let the ball bounce 3, yes 3, times, then claim the point. Eventually nobody would play him

but he was never wrong

he was a primary school headmaster. He may well still be

alcohol

what a state of affairs

I know that this is not representative. But it is my experience

there are many words of wisdom. I shall take them where I find them & leave indoctrination where I find that too. I’m not getting on my knees for anyone anymore. That’s very unhealthy

well I might do if Nataraja, the Lord Ganesha or the Artemisian Zeus were there in front of me, but, that’s a wee bit unlikely or as Conan Doyle would have put it via Sherlock Holmes:

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”

gods are an impossibility & I will leave that there. Sort yourself out. No-one else is going to do it for you. In my experience

I have an essay to get in for Monday. I have technically until midnight, so I will, of course, get the essay in at 2356hrs. WTF not. This is how I am

I am trying to change the way that I think & operate. but this will take time. In the past, in my previous attempts to get sober & to build a new foundation within which to work out how to live with Bipolar I Disorder (UK NICE guidelines for the management & care of Bipolar Disorder in adults, children & adolescents), I have run at a thousand miles an hour & the consequences have always been to crash headlong into the brick walls of my own self-delusional ego-driven universe

I am taking it a lot more slowly now

as we Greeks say:

σιγά-σιγά

slowly slowly

what’s the hurry, I have pissed most of my adult life away already. What’s a few more months & years, if I have them, in building up a good base

all I have is today in any case

& today I have the feeling that I will not drink alcohol

so that is a successful day

right then. I am off to take some photographs in the what-is-now Winter sunshine. It is coming up to 0947hrs here

It is cold, -2 Celcius, still – not even a breeze, azure sky, The Sun now at 25 degrees above the horizon, a smattering of wispy, elusive jet-stream cirrus to my south west. It’s frosty

I can feel it

I can feel the cold

I can feel the still

I feel still

I feel calm

I am as close to the the Boris that I want to be as I can ever remember

I am alive

again

I always have been, but in some kind of waking, living stupor

that’s no way of being for a human

here comes the sun

I’m going to think about George Harrison now, Here Comes The Sun

if you have read this far then I thank you

I wish you as good a day as you can have

Boris

day 34: a crash out on Zopiclone – a retrospective

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day 34 was the first day that I did not manage to get a blog done on the day since I began the blog posts on day 6

don’t panic

Zopiclone, insomnia & a day on the farm helping a friend, fresh air & suchlike did for me

I’m not going to beat myself up over this, no matter, I shall blog a little now just because as I can

an old friend surprised me, a phone call, a real blast from the past. We chewed the fat for a while. I used to ring him when I was drunk, lonely, alone & maudlin, sad depressed. He informed me that his son was now his daughter. This was a surprise. But I was touched that he had taken the trouble to let me know, he had gone out of his way. I really was touched. He is a brave man he & his daughter is a courageous young woman. They are dealing with this massive issue as 2 loving adults. There have been many familial problems in the daughter’s youth, her growing up. These can now be placed into a new context as the father & daughter, my friends, adapt & move on, released from their traps & gathering strength together & healing, hand in hand

I must dash now through the rain, pissing down, dreich – tis volunteer day at the arts centre

I shall relate my experiences later. I should have time as I sit behind reception this afternoon

I train the apprentice first. Or she trains me rather. 2 way streets

life is good so far

today…

if you have read this far today then thanks, goodbye for now

day 33: cousins, 2nd cousins, photos, printing & posters & a shitload of hummus

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I got a straight 8 hours of sleep last night. I took my sleeping pill and within about 10-15 minutes I was gone. My sleep problems have been causing all sorts of ramifications in other areas of my life. Insomnia eventually, & within a short time span, becomes all pervasive, well, that is my experience of it. This is not my first time having had it

I would normally simply dose myself up by retreating into the bottle. That would solve the problem in the immediate sense, but then the resultant problems would far outweigh anything else

I have always run away from any & all of my problems, effectively from life itself , by drinking alcohol, & drinking it alcoholically

so when I awoke from my 8 hours of wonderfully refreshing sleep I had to run, literally sprint to the toilet. I’m surprised that I didn’t wet the bed. That is a phenomena that is not unfamiliar to me from my drinking days. Urinating in my sleep whilst pissed, in the presence of partners or not

what a life that is

so the sleep set me up for yet another good day. I chilled for the morning. I wrote a long missive & e-mailed it to my ex-partner. We are beginning to behave in a more adult fashion now. Sunday had brought about an e-mail slanging match in which she had said a ‘final’ goodbye twice. I merely stayed calm & tried to be kind & gentle & caring. I care an awful lot about her. We came back into each others lives at transitional times for us both & it would be a great shame to lose all contact & the nascent friendship that we have simply because we both have dreadful tempers & cannot immediately have what we think that we want NOW

I’m not capable of making the decision to get involved in a serious relationship for at least 6 months but that does not mean that we cannot build on some pretty solid foundations in the meantime

I am an alcoholic

I have Bipolar Disorder

she is in the process of getting divorced from an emotionally absent, passively aggressive husband

these were the circumstances that we were both running from when we got together for our wonderful summer love affair

now reality is here, we must deal with that reality. What comes next? Who knows. I have to live  a day at a time. I don’t know

we shall see, but histrionics certainly does nobody any favours. I feel more optimistic after the last 2 days. She seems to be calming down. She had a lot of plans for us.

She was my damsel in distress & I went charging in to save her. It meant that I could forget my real problem for a while. Plus I was high as a kite & not taking my medications consistently

disaster for the active alcoholic is never far away

but I have come clean with her now. I was as honest with her to tell her almost everything about myself including Bipolar & my past checquered history. But I claimed a drink problem & not alcoholism. I don’t beat myself up for that. I had not fully admitted it to myself at that point so I couldn’t admit it to anyone else

I didn’t choose to be an alcoholic, but I am, tough shit, get on with it Boris. It”s actually okay

today

my oedema also departed overnight which meant that I could get on with the day so I went printing. I finished the 4 horsemen series with 3 more prints & did a couple of prints of a copy of a Käthe Kollwitz etching. Käthe was labeled a degenerate artist by Hitler & the National-Socialists & her work was removed from galleries & museums. There is a great depth & soul in her work. Her observation of ordinary folks & their troubles & ills touches something in me:

kathe_red kathe_blue

I then took some photographs of quad publicity movie posters for local film club to put onto eBay as a voluntary project for some cash to buy bits & bobs for them as they struggle for funds & got the following poster as a thank you. This is a beautiful poster, printed onto thick matte paper. It is made with the intention of fitting into a light box & so hence the matte finish. It is wonderfully tactile

Free Tibet

when_the_dragon_swallowed_the_sun_poster

I was cheeky & asked for the following poster too. I love Alan Partridge. I think that his creation is comedy genius. He reminds me of me sometimes as well:

smell my cheese…”

alpha_papa

A-HA!!!

on my way to the town centre to buy a couple of jars of tahini I bumped into my cousin, her husband & my 2 wee 2nd cousins (cute cute cute). I have not seen her since Christmas last. We have had family ructions since then & I do not speak to her father or brother at the moment. But they were all really warm. The girls had just got a dolly each & the littlest one was making me kiss hers. Very cute. She is 5 and has just gone to primary school. It was really lovely to see them. I did not know the score with them or how they would react due to my uncle. But I should have known. Although we have never been close, she is very independently minded & certainly ploughs her own furrow

it is the eldest 2nd cousins birthday next week, I don’t like calling her that – it is too formal, sounds like a Victorian anachronism, she calls me Uncle Boris, so she is effectively my niece. There is a quad poster of Despicable Me 2 at the Film Club, so I will buy it from them for a fiver. They would give it to me, but I think it is right to set a precedent, otherwise everyone will just take them when they see one that they want & then the best ones will go. So I decree said policy in effect as of posting the post. Wow – power (smiles)

I finished the day by boiling up a load of chick peas: 2.5kg. Now it was 2.5kg of dry chickpeas (garbanzos) which expand to more than double their size. Ooooops. I use dry as I can then control the salt content & there is no extra additives or preservatives, just chickpeas. I forgot about that. Well I didn’t really, I just misestimated, but no worries, there are over 80 guests & everyone loves hummus. This is to make hummus (my cousin’s husband called it humous after he saw me going into the local health food store to buy tahini (sesame seeds failed to arrive in a delivery I made as I was going to make my own) which of course is a component of soil so we had a bit of a laugh in town over that) for the Ceilidh on Sunday, as I am going across to help in the preparations in the morning (Thursday) & need to get it across then. I have not even considered what to put all the hummus in yet. I’ll cross that bridge in the morning

right the sleeper is kicking in now. I feel better for posting a decently lengthed entry again after 2 meagre efforts & feel back in the swing of things

that’s insomnia for you

so if you have read this far then many thanks. Goodnight

day 32: sleeping pills & my shortest post so far

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I can’t keep my eyes open now. I went 20 straight hours yesterday without sleep. Then 3 hours sleep. I have gone 18 consecutive hours now. Eventually I was seeing colours & stars or flickering lights on the periphery of my vision last night

I would have paid for that in my drugged up days

I am effectively unable to function now

I still have the oedema, but it has diminished so I am still lying flat

my GP, after some debate, gave me a week’s course of a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic agent for assistance to overcome the insomnia. I have just taken my first one

I am aiming to catch up on the blog tomorrow

if you have read this then thank you & good evening

day 31: surrealism, insomnia, dropping in & out of sleep & peripheral oedema

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I have been drifting between awake & asleep since 0200hrs

insomnia has made today a wipe out

it has been pouring with rain all day too

& I have developed peripheral oedema, which I get occasionally, probably due to my medication. Peripheral oedema is a build-up of water on my feet & ankles. Not painful, but annoying & I’m constantly aware of it

so I have had to retire to bed & have been here since 1000hrs this morning (was it only this morning)

I see my GP tomorrow for my sinus problem, so we can discuss this oedema too

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

ho hum & so it goes

but it is okay, I could be drunk

I was accused by my summer love interest today as well, just for good measure of all sorts of nonsense as she was angry at our relationship having broken down, even though she initiated the split. I managed to calm her down. I don’t want conflict today

I am not well

I am also an alcoholic, but despite all of the above I did not once think of taking a drink of alcohol

result

but I have had enough of today & I must crash out

if you have read this then thanks & goodnight

day 30: summer loving ends, a big roast dinner & making it up with my mum

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Summer loving had me a blast
Summer loving happened so fast
I met a girl crazy for me
Met a boy cute as can be

Summer days drifting away
To, oh, oh, the summer nights

I confronted the woman with whom I had the affair over the summer, who had retreated from view to think about things, via e-mail today. I simply could not stand the state of limbo that I was in over the situation, the discomfort & uncertainty that it was causing me

the e-mail exchange that followed has dominated my day & drained me of energy. I am tired anyway due to a long, yet fulfilling, week, a long round  trip to Edinburgh yesterday & insomnia, which is bloody knackering. So that has just finished me off

I’ll just say that I was forthright, took no shite, stated my case clearly, yet not aggressively, kept my temper, was polite & put across a coherent argument & challenged what I believed to be any misconceptions that she has about myself & our relationship

I believe that she has many. But so have I & I need to stay sober so judging others is out of the question

she is not my concern any more. That will inevitably lead to self-pity & a drink of alcohol

disaster from which I may not escape this time

I have said in a previous blog post that within 2 weeks we had fallen in love

within the month her husband had found out & had pinned her down outside the house in front of her 7 year old son & hit her. He was kicked out, (she told me in an e-mail today, however, & I quote:

…what xxx did (which, by the way, does not make him a wife beater, although I know it suits you to think that way. It suited me at the time but I genuinely don’t see it that way anymore…

sound familiar?)

within 2 months she had me uprooting & moving down to her home town (where I grew up & I had got the hell out of there as soon as I could when I hit the age of 18 & went to University)

within 3 months we were in full swing

then it all began to change. My clothes were not the right colour, my stubble was too long, why did my shorts have paint upon them, well maybe because I enjoy painting. Well I was drinking more & so, feeling more & more guilty, I acquiesced, felt more & more uncomfortable & the cycle tumbled into a negative feedback loop until one day I got smashed whilst she was at work & that was pretty much that. We never recovered

there’s no real blame here, although I have written this as the protagonist. Her version would be entirely different

I am an alcoholic, I don’t need an excuse to get drunk

plus our fantastic & fantasy-based surreal relationship fueled my hypomania for a full summer without much let up, so I was literally flying on empty by the end & I burnt out

I have Bipolar I Disorder

& I am an alcoholic

I don’t want to be alcoholic or to be a manic depressive

tough shit, I am both

dual diagnosis, no cure, no way out – except acceptance & a new way of living

mindfulness

okay, upshot is that it is now at an end. This is a relief, but I have the full range of emotions all firing off at once

I ended up having some break from this by having a Sunday roast at my mum’s house. It was nice & chilled. My mum & I are being gentle with each other & feeling our way back into making amends to each other after a rocky few tears. We grew up together after my biological father abandoned us both when I was 7 years old. We have drifted apart & have hurt each other over the last few years, in no small measure due to my alcoholism

but tonight was a nice night full of care & smiles & a big hug & a kiss when I set off for home at the end

I am drained & confused now. I need to sleep & regenerate

but I have neither had a drink of alcohol or felt like taking one

that is progress

more tomorrow

if you have read this far then many thanks, goodnight

day 29: I was awoken from my dogmatic slumber & a trip to Edinburgh

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well I have just awoken from my slumber after crashing out immediately after getting home from a long day out in Edinburgh to attend a day-school for my Master’s degree. It was a good day, a right dreich Scots day in part, but thankfully mainly on the bus journeys there & back again (but not thankfully for the bus driver I guess who happened to be the same fine chap both ways)

this was not my dogmatic slumber, the type of dogmatic slumber that Immanual Kant was awoken from upon reading the works of one of Edinburgh’s most famous sons, David Hume. My dogmatic slumber involved my entrance into & imprisonment in the bottle that is active alcoholism, & I have been awakened recently by a number of factors, not least by the pain of a failing relationship that I have tonight all but reconciled to letting go of in it’s entirety

so I am not going to blog much now, I am going to go & slumber yet more. My insomnia is catching up. This bout of sleep deprivation is quite a drain at times, it really is. It will catch up. But I am doing the right things to ameliorate it. Cutting down on caffeine & stimulants, using amber lighting & blu blocking glasses at night in the house, eating fresh foods (I have created a fridge top bean sprouting garden) & cooking regularly, having exercise by walking & cycling everywhere etc

I awoke last night/this morning at 0330hrs, when  so I got up & started to do more preparation for the tutorial, which proved well worth it in the end, but I paid for it earlier & I am nodding off now. My body will find a natural circadian rhythm, but it has been hammered & self-abused for such a long time that that is not a surprise. My body will work itself out. The clocks going back in the UK from British Summer Time (BST) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in about 24 hours may help also

right I am going to hit the pillow. I will describe my day in words when I get up in the morning, but here are a few snaps of the Capital city of Scotland. I do love Edinburgh, it is where my mother & her mother & her mother were born:

edinburgh_castle_rose

national _gallery_scotland
scott_monument

castle_scotsguard

edinburgh_castle_twilight

if you have read this far then many thanks, goodnight

day 28: that was the (long) week that was – poo-tee-weet

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well that was one long long long week. It was truly great, one hell of a lot occurred. I am approaching a mere 4 weeks away from imbibing an alcoholic beverage. It is 22:51hrs now & I am going to go to bed very soon

my confidence has been building as I have been meeting both old friends & new acquaintances, maybe future friends to be, getting out & about & getting back into a working environment with its routines which I believe are essential to my continuing & long-term recovery

I am being mindful & not allowing this confidence to become confused with arrogance & egotism (I believe) as I have done before. I have trodden this path in the past

I saw progress today within myself  (I am learning to make my own judgements of myself & not constantly seek the approval of others) when I bumped into a woman that I had done a lot of work for, voluntarily, well in fact she requested my services & I was in such a pitiful & paranoid state that I couldn’t say no (learn how to say no) at that time even though I didn’t want to do it, or to work for her for that matter, at some personal cost to myself & my well-being, & at the cost of having to drop out of a year at my Master’s degree (which on top of my active alcoholism & Bipolar Disorder of course piled the pressure on at a time when I couldn’t cope with any more & whatsmore she was aware of it) yet none to her. She was ungrateful in the end & treated me fairly shabbily. I calculated it at over 200 hours of unpaid work editing a newsletter which when I started was truly awful & very amateur “publication” that went out maybe evry 4-6 weeks & contained random fonts & font sizes within articles, to being a tight, well-constructed consistent weekly affair. I got a cake out of it for 10 months work. A shitty cake at that, it was sugary & cloying & sweet. I threw it in the bin when I got it home although it did come in a useful tin which I now use for coloured pencils. I should have just refused it, but that was then & this is now. I would say no now unless it was on my terms, even then I would probably still say no. I feel better for writing that paragraph

I have been festering with a grudge since, but I have found out that she suffers from depression from a mutual friend. Anyway when we crossed paths, after a moments discomfort on both sides, I smiled & offered my hand & we swapped pleasantries. I told her I was making a genuine attempt to quit drinking & turn it around. She was quite warm, but we were wary of one another & she is hard to read. These things don’t heal instantly. Still I was pleased both with the situation as we left it, she said I was looking well etc, but more with my reaction

I behaved like an adult, & more, it really didn’t take so much effort

mindfulness

I had more to lose than to gain by being angry, for myself. I let it go, and that felt good

she can take from it as she will, but I meant it, I was genuine

I’m flat though right now, tired, thinking about my sort-of-ex-I-don’t-bloody-know-ex-or-not partner again. I feel excluded & that makes me sad then that brings the reaction of anger: bad feeling. My biggest fear is abandonment due, I believe to my biological father leaving myself & my mother in a foreign land shortly after dragging us down there for another woman, another life & another son. Selfish, narcissistic bastard

I do not want or require anger, but I know that it is only a feeling, but it is very draining. I don’t know about the woman involved now. I don’t know who she is at all, we have not spoken for over 6 weeks at her request, mainly texted, which is a dreadful communication medium. I managed to get her to use e-mail, but then for the past 6 days she has wanted time out to think about the situation without my input. This is a difficult situation

I fear abandonment

I feel abandoned

ho hum & so it goes I guess

poo-tee-weet

I’m concluding that I never did really know her, that the summer was just a wonderful fling & a fantastic fantasy whirlwind romance, 2 ships passing in the night. I don’t know if there is any foundation to build upon, what she is thinking etc, so I am ploughing my own furrow. Our relationship would have to radically change whatever happens in any case, but I am assuming that it is…

nah… not worth my brain power in the speculation, these are just thoughts & feelings & musings. I could break my mind by going around in circles forever so I am not going to do anything rash, but it is stupid all this waiting, it’s bullshit. I wish that she would make her mind up

my natural reaction is just to cut & run, but I shall attempt to get on with what I am building & be patient, there is a lot of tenderness & shared experience between us

wait, but also be ready for carpe diem

I’m working through my course tasks for tomorrow’s day-school in Edinburgh. So a bit of Clem Greenberg reading, a review of a Jackson Pollock action painting & a review of the Turner Prize might pick me up

I keep thinking that I want to tell her just to forget it all, but that would be juvenile & histrionic, reaction-seeking dysfunctional learned behaviour, but again, only a thought, I’m bound to think this, from time to time, because she has been distant for effectively 2 months now as she was withdrawing even before we saw each other last, I see that now with hindsight, I have no idea what she is doing or thinking, she is a closed book. I don’t need to burn the book though, I’ve done that too often

let it lie & get on with my life

so I have had a great week, no doubt & I am keeping that in mind, so this is the wind down I am guessing. What goes up must come down, especially a diagnosed manic depressive & an alcoholic dual diagnosis

dynamics, things change for the better for the worse. All things must pass, good, bad & indifferent

so I’m going to get on now, I have to be on a bus at 0715hrs in the morning, but no worries there, I’ll be up in good time for that. I’ll have 2:45hrs to study on the bus too & an hour in the hotel in Edinburgh (Princes Street – I love that Street) – good job I have no money until Monday as there is a fabulous department store there called Jenners

then I can have an hour & 1/2 in the National Gallery of Scotland & a bus home, long day, long day

I should be back home at around 21:00hrs

28 days ago tonight I didn’t want to be alive, I had been on a 4 day bender, a binge which had seen me drink 175+ units of ethanol (I only know this from logging the bottles strewn around my house when I finally got out of bed several days later, full of the familiar guilt, shame, remorse et al that have been my ever present companions for years on end

if you have read this far then thank you & goodnight

day 27: let me assure you: hummus can get one a long way

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my sleep pattern is still awry & I can feel it catching up with me now. I awoke at just before 05:00hrs & just got up & got on with my day

my mood was right in the middle of my scale when I got up out of bed which I was pleased about after a little bit of a fluctuating day yesterday, day 26

I am finding that using my bedroom as a bedroom ie only sleeping, changing clothes etc in there is a good habit to be getting into. In the past I would lie around cogitating & mulling & dwelling on events of the past or projecting into the future on events that may or may not happen. This caused me an enormous amount of anxiety. But paradoxically I was hooked on this form of anxiety, I craved it, I had learned it, It was a dysfunctional learned behaviour

I have also formed the habits of working on my computer propped up in bed, watching DVDs in bed, listening to music in bed & reading in bed. This last one, reading in bed, often lying flat, would keep my mind active & I would often not sleep until the dawn

my circadian clock, my rhythm has been wound up the wrong way for years, so this interim period whilst my body & mind recover, a day at a time, lots of todays, will take a while & I had just as well better get used to it

there is not fast & sure method of recovery from alcoholism & Bipolar Disorder

in fact there is no cure, that’s it

vigilance & mindfulness & a new way of being, of living

that sounds heavy, but I don’t see it that way now. I see it as great new challenge, & I want to grab it & hold onto it with all that I have

today

so I am knackered, I have a headache & I am going to bed. I am on the early shift at the arts centre, but early at the arts centre is not my early these days. It is early when I was pissed. Anything was early when I was pissed up, I rarely got out of bed. My fellow volunteer, a lovely old gentle chap, a retired theatre manager, is having a new knee fitted at short notice due to a cancellation, so good on him. He has been limping for a while now & is in obvious discomfort

here are some graphics of some of the culinary adventures that I had today, although suffice it to say that I did get many more photographs taken for a client, did a bit of html, processed some grahics, drank a lot of green tea & got a few more worthwhile bits of networking done & have an invite to take a behind the scenes set of photographs of the next showing of a reel-reel movie at a local cinema in November – great stuff. I love the film that is showing too

meringue

I got a free slice of this as a swap for:

hummus_001 hummus_002

There was a delivery failure on the hummus front at the cafe where I have been sorting out a web profile (I was in again with the new camera this time taking shots of a new batch of cakes). I had been chatting to the owner as we do now & I had mentioned that I needed to go & get some tahini to finish mine off so she gave me a large jar on the house. Serendipity yet again, there she is. I offered the owner a batch of my freshly made & after a sceptical look, she agreed. She was very happy when I arrived back just before lunch, accompanied by my special home-infused oil to drizzle on to the top. I got a sandwich on the house as well. And I will find out tomorrow if any of it sold

but let me assure you: hummus can get one a long way

so I am having a great week all in all, although as I get ready to go to bed I am beginning to think of my summer lover. It is her birthday in a little over a week & I am now excluded. I am feeling a little angry about this right now, so I will have to begin to address the arising emotions. No point in doing what I have always done in the past:

  • acted upon my feelings without thought of consequence to myself or to others
  • bottled my feelings up so as they will explode or implode & lead inexorably to a drink of alcohol that could lead to the next disaster & a drunkenness that I may not be fortunate to emerge from this time

I’m beat, off I go to bed

if you have read this far then many thanks. Goodnight

day 26: the mentally ill are legion & I told you I was mentally ill

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we, the mentally ill, are legion

we are legion

we, the “mentally ill” are marginalised by the popular media, we are stigmatised, we are misunderstood:

“why not smile”

“turn that frown upside down”

“you think too much”

“you need a hobby”

go do one, mind your own business whilst I mind my own mind

mindfulness

that may be a little unfair to no doubt well-meaning friends & relatives. But it grates after a while. It grinds, it wears. Like grains of sand in my underwear after a walk along a wind-swept beach – it chafes. It does not help

this is a long ramble through the horsecrap which started when I got out of bed at just after 05:00hrs. This is not a love song. I am not selling butter. I am not selling out to butter. I am not pimping myself in the garb of a faux country gent in mock mockery of mockery itself. Whatever. Who mocks whom. I don’t care

insomnia. 05:03hrs – sitting at my twin desks in Wonko’s Paradox

mentally ill – have you looked out of the window? People traveling 3 or 4 hours per day on jam-packed, crash-strewn, pollutant-saturated motorways to work for someone else’s profit with little or no tenure or job security

coming home & reading about soap operas. Not just watching them, but reading about them. Caring about what f-list celebrity Y had for breakfast or who got their tits out this weekend

sometimes it takes all of my will & effort merely to get out of bed to go to the toilet, to wash, to brush my teeth, let alone to eat or drink water

conversely, sometimes I fly high as Benjamin Franklin’s kite (bit of artistic license there), and like Franklin’s kite I get struck down by lightning: my own energy defeats me, burns me out as I set myself up for a fall

================================================================

23:25hrs – well that was then & this is now. Reading the above I was certainly a lot less calm than I am now. I woke up on a -2 on my -10 to 10 scale (entirely subjective but no other way to measure my moods by the necessity of the measurement’s very subjective nature – at least it is a measurement taken regularly & annotated now). I would say that I have now leveled back up to a 0 or possibly a 1, just tipping up to mildly happy or rather a contented mood

HEALTH WARNING – this is not only a long waffle today & my usual pile of steaming horsecrap it may also well be a:

there could be for any number of reasons really for my slight upswing in mood but one major one could be that I have just won a competition from The Guardian newspaper online. I will narrate the tale of my day by way of getting to this:

I couldn’t sleep, I got about 3.5 hours so I got up, had a bit of a rant (above) then did some graphic design work

I updated a logo for the café. I was struggling with this previously because I couldn’t get a good enough shot with my mobile (cell) phone camera (the original .jpg is lost somewhere down the line as is always the case with small businesses), but with new Fuji & my SAD lamp as a makeshift studio lightbox, then I got a macro snap & it was a diddle doddle in Photoshop after that, sent it off & the owner was a very happy woman. I am visiting for a final photo-shoot of a cake bake in the morning, assuming that I make the 12 bells of Big Ben at midnight tonight

working smart – the camera is already paying for itself – impulse purchase on the Bipolar upswing, well, a little maybe, but also somewhat calculated

I got a load more chickpeas soaking for batch 2 of the hummus that I aim to make for the Ceilidh a week on Sunday. I’m going to do 4 batches. This takes the pressure off & then they will all be different & if one goes a bit awry it is no significant problem. This one will be from scratch, making my own tahini for the first time

so at this stage I was

busy busy busy, as we Bokononists are fond of saying, I was forgetting my earlier troubles. Although I had awoken tired & a little down, my mind was anxious & racing. I rate my mood elevation. Again on a scale of -10 to 10 I put the elevation at 4, so quite high, higher than it has been for over a fortnight. It is a difficult combination, to feel lower than one would expect but to have a racing mind

I had also woken up thinking about my summer lover & how unfairly she was treating me. This added to the anxiety. I had decided to call it a day, not to wait for her to take her time & to get back to me after having some time & space. This is a classic symptom of Bipolar Disorder

from the Oxford English Dictionary – impulsivity:

“The character of being impulsive or acting on impulse, without reflection or forethought; impulsiveness”

indeed, indeed, indeed

I just don’t want to go through the pain, or the wait

be patient, don’t panic, don’t be rash, behave differently

both she & I are worth it. We are Maybelline. So I have been doing all of the above. Not easy, but new ways of doing & being, I feel better for it now

I feel a strange combination of liberation & sadness concerning her

& I worry for her. She does not have the support structure that I now have

so anyway  I have been in all day, it has been raining heavy here, heavy inside for a while too, but that cleared up with a bit of effort & a lot of pottering about

I’m really into hooks now. Hooks & clips to hang things on the hooks, so hooks are everywhere again & clips, bulldog clips

everything is now on a bulldog clip on a hook, a great way to keep things tidy & accessible

hooks – not the hook of alcohol screw that hook

so to the prize. I have just been informed that I have won a prize. I have done the competitions in the Guardian newspaper online every week for years (oddly even when I was drunk). I have won 2 this year. First one at the British Library in London, exhibition called Propaganda, very good, curators talk & guided tour. I’m into the concept of propaganda, I have studied it as part of my Masters degree. I mean how are we all not constantly aware of propaganda – damned TV etc… well I don’t have that ordure flooding my flat anymore as I got rid of mine in April 2012. I once heard an Orthodox Rabbi describing television (odd bastard word: half Greek half Latin – half man half biscuit) as a sewer in the room. I agree wholeheartedly. Judicious use of the televisual experience is fine but too powerful a medium now. It has diluted learning, not deepened it

anyway I have now won 2 tickets to the opening of the horsecrap Turner Prize . I love one of the artists on the shortlist of 4 unusually, David Shrigley, a Scot Anglified – which is what I am. I was kidnapped (a Scots literary reference, but not literally I must assure) & taken down here for my father’s job, he then left the next year. I have several of Shrigley’s books. This is one of my favourite doodles:

he mocks the stuffy, cliquey nature of the art insider in-crowd, quite rightly so

go Shrigley

It is in Derry. They now call Derry, Derry-Londonderry, in some weird compromise between British imperialism & Irish nationalism. I’m a republican of course. Free Ireland, one nation etc… so I am going. 30 October, 2 weeks now. I have to get a bus to Stranraer/Cairnryan (2.5 hours round all the wee Dumfries & Galloway villages – beautiful), ferry to Larne (2 hours) then combo train & bus (3.5 hours) for a grand total journey time from my front door to the B&B of…

…drum roll…

… 10.5 hours

what a jaunt to be sure & no mistake. Fantastic countryside et al but mindfulness required in spades

It is this years city of culture, whatever that is. Maybe there is no culture anywhere else, maybe they have moved it all there. Bureaucrats. Blimey. But there will be lots going on, lots to see & a great atmosphere

so 2 nights B&B, curators private talk & private guided tour, lots of flâneuring flânerie with the Fuji S4500 (/tripod) & the gonzo HTC One S cameras. I don’t know what I will do about the other ticket, but I’ll offer it to the folks at the arts centre tomorrow, but it is very short notice. If not then I will offer it up to the tutorial group on Saturday in Edinburgh where, serendipitously, we are discussing the Turner prize

so there she is again – the beautiful Serendipity

this has run over midnight, 12 bells for the first time, but I’m being lenient, kind to Boris, because I have rushed the last few entries & I fell asleep earlier. I will not put pressure on myself this time around for any reason. That could kill me

this is only a blog

plus I took a break there as my summer lover has written an e-mail saying that she is feeling a little better both physically & emotionally, recharging the batteries as she out it, & that she wanted to thank me for fulfilling my promise & letting her alone to work things out

so I am conflicted & confronted yet again. I feel this closer to the surface. I will let it drift using newly found, to me, Acceptance & Commitment therapy techniques as far as possible. What I am experiencing now are merely thoughts & feelings, they are not the core of my being. I do not have to act them out, they will change & pass. They are dynamic. Watch them, observe them

time, of course the 4th, the mythical, dimension, that a friend keeps reminding me of, does not exist. I have been thinking on that one quite a lot of late, it is extremely interesting to me. We can’t even be in the moment really due to the amount of time it takes our senses to get the info to the brain & for the brain to consequently process the input. So we are, I guess, always slightly delayed & therefore perceive in the past

I am closer to the present, however, than I have ever been though I reckon. I believe that. I don’t feel the weight of where I have been as much as I have always felt it before. I feel lighter somehow

today

just saying, just rambling

I am, of course, conflicted concerning our summer love & my summer lover. The full ramifications are not yet apparent. How could they be. It is day 26 without a drink of alcohol

but I am just getting on with my life & enjoying myself. I have not genuinely done this for years. I remember now a friend telling me that I was triangulating in the early part of the year. I didn’t have a clue what she meant. I have had a look into this now & I don’t think that is the so much the case now. The only approval that I am aiming to seek now is internal, the approval of Boris. I believe that this has to will out

It is great to help & be thanked & do good stuff, but I am finding that that is an end in itself. I do it for me & my own sobriety. That is how I see it now

today

this will all change, this will all change

as a geographer then I, of all people, must know that all of the Earth’s systems are entirely & totally dynamic. One so small as I am is simply blown by the wind: jetsam, flotsam. But I have size 13 feet (13.5 US), so it takes quite a lot to blow me over if I get on the path & keep a true heart

I somehow feel that my recent impetus is overcoming the years of inertia

Ramble On

if you have read this far then thank you & a warm & heartfelt goodnight

day 25: printing again, mushrooms again & an invite to build a bonfire

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I have had yet another long & fulfilling day, in the main out & about in the world outside my window. It is 23:27hrs now so I had better get a push on again as I have for the past 3 nights & just ramble on unexpurgated with what comes to mind

the scope of the blog has altered since I conceived it. At first it was a real lifeline. An obsession that kept me sober & focused as I struggled at day 6 merely not to pick up a drink of alcohol as my mind raced & I sweated & craved & feared & had the full gamut of negativity that comes from imbibing alcohol for the alcoholic

not to mention that I had been on & off of my medication for the past 5-6 months as I flew high involved in a fantastical romance over the summer months & my life ran at pace until I actually crashed

as I have said many times now since I first admitted it to myself for real, and not just to get people or my doctors & psychiatrists & the police or whomever, off of my case:

I am an alcoholic

I have a manifest form of the medical condition that is known as Bipolar Disorder, or more descriptively to my mind, manic depression

these states have been defining me for my whole adult life

I have allowed them to:

  • wreck relationships with my family
  • wreck relationships with my friends
  • wreck relationships with my lovers
  • lose me clients
  • lose my freedom on 2 separate occasions

etc etc etc & the list goes on & so it goes

I looked for external sources for the problem or problems. It was never my fault. Maybe it isn’t but that is now irrelevant. My father abandoning me (yes precise language is crucial now – abandoning) when I was 7 years old for a new life after dragging me to a new country away from my extended family may well be a root cause of a lot of my unhappiness & inner turmoil, but that was 40 years ago

he is dying of prostate cancer now. I will not look into his eyes again. I will not attend his funeral ceremony. I will take neither joy nor sadness at his passing. I am numb as far as he is concerned. I have debated it recently. I feel reconciled

he has never once told me that he loves me, that is now his problem. I pass it back, release it, let it go at long last

it has taken a long time

phew

it is time to turn this around, choose a valid direction & take action

redefine myself

why TF not

why TF not

72 hours have passed since my summer romance has contacted me & I still feel remarkable cool about that too. I am just getting on with stuff. I like stuff

I spent 6 hours in the print room today, well I farted around the arts centre actually, but I was systematic & methodical again. i got 3 prints done. Here is my favourite:

willie_nelson_001

it is a 4 colour print done in a single roll. I would have normally rolled it through 4 times, one for each ink. But I took care & time & I like it

I got an invite up to prepare for the Ceilidh party I mentioned yesterday (I think I did at any rate). So come next Thursday, after 8 more todays, then I will be foraging for blackberries for the making of pies, wood for the making of a bonfire, leaves & flowers for the decoration of the farmhouse & generally mucking about in the countryside

3 weeks makes a difference. Sure beats lying in bed smelly, unwashed, drunk, hungover unbrushed teeth & wanting to kill myself

I also met a sculptor whilst searching for mushrooms.

fungus__001

She used the word serendipity, so I informed her about Horace Walpole & we got into a chat, swapped phone numbers & may meet again for a coffee

must post this up, this is a right scrambled egg of a post Mesdames et Messieurs

so if you have read this far then thank you for your time. Goodnight

day 24: life is all about farting around & don’t let anyone tell you any different

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so I have been going through a breakdown on a number of levels

25 days ago, today, I took my last drink of alcohol

since then my life has improved to a remarkable degree, he remarked

this may well be the elation of early days, seeing life through new, slightly more focused & clearer eyes

I have cried a lot of tears & have a lot of fears & this still comes & goes

boris_chiaroscura_001

some days are better than others, but I have to remember that my last alcoholic drink is very close & that the swings & roundabouts of my life, my moods, the slings & arrows of outrageous fortune, occur to everyone, maybe not as pronounced, as rapidly or unpredictably, or as severe at each end of the spectrum, but everybody’s moods vary:

not just the moods of alcoholics & those of us with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder – manic depression

I never wanted to be an alcoholic

I did not chose to have Bipolar Disorder

yet I am an alcoholic

& I am diagnosed with manic depression

a dual diagnosis

but today, despite everything else that is going on in my life, then I am just fine with that

again tonight I am pushing it to get this blog post out before the 12 bells of Big Ben that I time my sobriety days by, 21 minutes to go, so I am just writing without a care in the world for what I write, & with no forethought or plan

I have been meaning to write about the current state of flux in my summer affair with a very beautiful woman, who herself has a number of problems, not mental health (although she is very needy & seeking of approval) or alcohol issues, but then again, I look out of my window & think:

“if anyone out there seriously thinks that living in a post-modern post-industrial western system is normal behaviour for a human being then perhaps a reclassification of mental illness is well overdue”

the relationship was fantastic in more ways than one. It was loving & caring, tender, tactile, sincere, open, honest (I told her right from the start about my Bipolar & that I had problems with alcohol, although I had not admitted to alcoholism at that point). We both fulfilled a need, a gap maybe, in each others life which we drank in with all that we had

it was very intense, very all-consuming, totally absorbing to the exclusion of almost everything else. This was mutual. A mutual obsession

we fell in love within 2 weeks

she was going to arrange for me move 140 miles south & she was going to buy a new house, build me an annex studio. I’d be a playmate to her 7 year old son. I would become successful in my business again after my several year hiatus due to a previous breakdown. This was also fantastic

a fantasy

but I was in a hypomanic state for almost 5 months. I went with it, I encouraged it. It was real

it wasn’t

it unraveled on 17 August when she went to work. I felt very high that particular day. I was at her house away from my usual surroundings. I did not have my familiar stuff around me. I was bored & I felt carefree & somewhat bloody minded

I got drunk. She flew off the handle. I don’t blame her. Why would she not. She was angry because she had been out working & I had been loafing around

I had been drinking because I was self-medicating my racing mind & because I was an active alcoholic (when will I not be an active one (rhetorical))

so it has drifted since then. I last saw her on the 2 September. I have not heard her voice since then. We have been texting which I hate. I misinterpret. She misinterprets. A shite form of communication

on Saturday she told me, without any prior discussion, that she needed time out as she was in a mess. So much for working through things together as we had discussed on many occasions

it is now 2 days since I heard from her. This is the first time since April, the first time in 6 months. It is fine, I’m okay

I hope that she is

she has been wonderful to me. When I finally had my last binge, she was there, at arms length, which is entirely appropriate, to offer me friendly encouragement. I tried to cling to our summer fling, for that is what I now see that it was. I was in a truly pathetic state

I must ensure that I do not forget that because she could simply have walked away. She didn’t, at some cost to her own well-being

I feel a lifting of pressure in a strange way. I can now get on with my life again, my recovery, for it is mine alone

there would always be a danger that I would get sober for her, then I know where that would lead later down the road when the carpet is whipped from under my feet

this is for me

so I must dash now

I’m okay today

just today

tomorrow never knows

I’ve been the arch potterer

the kitchen is spotless

I have a full & busy day tomorrow, all scheduled & planned, but these plans are flexible, as always

if you have read this far then thanks. Goodnight

day 23: in the summertime – not tonight Boris, not tonight

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yesterday I began to tell the story of my summer & effectively the events immediately leading up to the most recent severe acute breakdown that I began to emerge from a mere short-long 24 days ago

of course the events had been on the cards for years

I am alcoholic

I have Bipolar I Disorder

I have not wanted to be or have either

my aim tonight was to tell the tale of my summer romance & how this culminated in crashing & burning in an escalating sustained hypomanic (fuelled by natural mood upswing, the excitement of a very intense new relationship & failure to consistently take my medication) & alcoholic binge, divorce from any form of empirical reality which included friends & family, work & contact with local psychiatric services, including my GP, & finally thoughts of suicide, abstract as they were, nevertheless suicide was on the table

I have had a really long day today however & have allowed myself to drift from pillar to post then back again. In a good way, it is Sunday after all & I have had a full on week. A kind of bitty day where I have just gone with the flow, nothing concrete. I have got a lot done mind. The kitchen & bathroom are spotless & gleaming. They haven’t looked this good since I moved in in April 2012

I have made a chicken, rice & veg soup from the carcass of the roast that I made last night, so I have lunches for the foreseeable future setup. Again as I have said before, cooking has become a part of my new regime, it is calming & habit forming. & healthy

I have done a load of filing too. I had 4 large boxes of paper communications dating back to September 2011 which I basically just threw into said boxes, much of it unopened, so I have made a hole in that

I have also written long e-mails to friends who have lent me an ear in these nascent recovery days, telling them how it is going & thanking them for what they have done for me

I have only very recently got back in from having Sunday dinner with my mother. This was a bridge building exercise. I have not seen her since May. The last time that I saw her was on the stairs of my residence. She had come round to drop off some mail. I would not let her in & shouted obscenities at her. I was drunk & angry at what I saw as an invasion of my space

we had a pleasant enough time & took things easy – small steps. Blood is thick. She was a single parent to me since I was 7 years old when my biological father decided to leave us for another life elsewhere

I have been very calm about the breakdown of the relationship from the summer. Maybe it hasn’t hit me yet. But as I have been anticipating it for a number of weeks, then it feels like a lot of pressure has lifted. Like the sun has come out again

my thoughts for her are that I hope that she is coping, but as she has cut off contact for now, then it is beyond my control, beyond my knowledge even as she is some 130 odd miles away

I let go now, but with love & gratitude to a lovely person whom I cherish

phew, that was a long long intense summer, but without her I would not have gained the impetus to have quit drinking, however briefly it may be for a day at a time. The pain of it all was just too much

I’ve not had a drink of alcohol today & that is enough

lesson from yesterday’s blog: don’t put pressure on self by promising to blog on specific issues the day before

so tomorrow I will tell the tale of the summer romance (smiles to self), if I can. I need the catharsis I reckon, I can feel it building now as contact has been cut for an unspecified time period in order to, well, that was unspecified & vague by her too

unspecified & vague, why am I so familiar with those things I wonder

she sounded confused, especially when I didn’t fight or plead or beg for her not to take time out. I welcomed it with good grace to be honest. She is right, she does,we both do

stock taking

I’ve not even proofread this, I’m falling asleep as I type, I can correct it in the morning, or not, just let it stand as a testament & accurate reflection of my early days, day 23…

so I’m off to bed…

if you have read this far then thanks. Goodnight

day 22: cakes – rocky road & a parting of the ways – for now

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my granny used to say to me & it is an age old Scots saying:

“whit is fer ye wilnae get past ye son”

I had a cake for breakfast, rocky road

I took some photos again at the café early doors as I didn’t like the shots that I took yesterday after I had processed them

I believe that I am thinking again, rethinking. reviewing

I got back home & just went & bought a new camera. I’ve been doing a sort of what I would associate as Gonzo (I big myself up there, but I take with a mobile phone since my last camera broke) for the past 2 years. I can still do that as I flâneur my way around & about.  The new digital can be used as a dedicated camera for set up stills for potential clients & my growing portfolio. Only a compact SLR (fixed lens) & cheap, but got a 6 piece lens kit with UV & polarising filter et al plus 2 x 32GB fast SD cards I have been tasked in the past in taking artworks which are under glass, but without a polarising filter it is pointless & no-one at the arts centre knows where the filter for their camera is. The Gonzo mobile has no chance

I also have the opportunity to get some shots into a publication next month & if not the month after if I get some decent ones. Gratis, but I would get credits

so was this Bipolar Disorder in action, as opposed to Boris’ inaction – thinking ahead – a business tool

I am prone to spending inappropriately & have declared myself bankrupt before

so was this my Bipolar Disorder’s racing mind, or hypomania, which is the general of my condition (I tend to the upward swings for long periods of time, months sometimes, & have self-medicated with alcohol simply to shut my mind down when I can’t cope with the ‘up’ anymore, the lack of sleep, the insomnia, the overspending, the inappropriate overfamiliarity with people & all that goes with it etc etc etc)

I do not believe so

I am keeping meticulous mood charts, sleep diaries, nutrition diaries. I am self-monitoring quite effectively. I was on a 1 today on my 21 point scale so that is pretty level, for me, relatively, measured only against myself

I consulted 2 people who know me rather well before I clicked the purchase button. The purchase seemed impulsive, but it has been in the back of my mind for 2 years since my former dedicated digital camera packed it in

this past week of getting back into the world has inspired me to realise that I have the necessary skills for the necessary means to make a living in the world again

& people have been pushing work my way without my seeking it too hard

but

σιγά-σιγά…

slowly slowly

mindful

monitored all the way in consultation with friends & the medical profession

but I want to finish on a major event that took place this evening that I feel remarkably calm about, he says remarking about it

was the rocky road an omen of things to come for today this morning in the café?

was it auspicious?

well bollocks to all that gubbins about omens & so forth

the dainty sweetmeat was bloody sweet I’ll give it that, & it was bloody delicious I’ll give it that too (I’m not really sweet-toothed by the way) (maybe that’s why I bought the camera after all that rationalisation)

briefly the back-story is as follows:

  • I met a woman in April that I had known as a teenager when we worked summer holidays from University on a farm. We hung around in a crowd & eventually I asked her out on a date & we ‘went out’ as it went back then for about a week before I unceremoniously ‘chucked’ her (as she told me in April to my immense embarrassment. I didn’t hear from her for the next 27 years
  • then through a social networking site (not one of the obvious ones) I notice that someone resembling her had looked at my profile. Her surname was different. She was married, or had been. Anyway, still feeling guilty I sent a message saying that I had noticed she had looked at my profile (a lot of folks my age have mid-life crises I have noticed), and that I hoped she was doing well. Oh & that I was terribly sorry for my behaviour all those years ago
  • I got a reply within the hour saying life was good, she was married, had a 7 year old son, a good job etc etc etc
  • well, within 2 weeks the truth willed out. She was unhappy. A loveless marriage with all that that brings. We had exchanged over 10000 words in e-mail (we both independently kept spreadsheets ha!) & were getting to know each other well
  • then it all just exploded
  • she wanted me to uproot & move 140 miles from my home & take on another man’s child – I considered it – I was hypomanic for 4 straight months – I recognise this now

so tonight after 6 weeks of us basically going through a rocky phase, but with multiple daily contact, she wants time without contact

instead of pleading & begging I was very calm & said okay. I had anticipated it. She has been rushing around avoiding thinking about the situation

so tonight she was alone & ill, run down, for the first time since the last time that we met

she crashed

I told her I was here if & when she wanted to talk

it is near 12 bells now so I have to cut this here & get it up to fulfil my promise to myself but I aim to finish this story tomorrow

catharsis & quick style

this I would get alcoholically hammered on

I will continue this tomorrow

if you have read this far then thanks for your time. Goodnight

day 21 (again): bittersweet: ATOS come a-knocking & a day at the arts centre

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“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Søren Kierkegaard

my friend, whose mother is Danish, when he says the great philosopher’s name is entirely unintelligible to me. The name becomes merely a confusion of syllables

when I posted, in haste, yesterday, I immediately realised that I was a day ahead, it was day 20, not 21. I was very very tired after vivid nightmares & badly interrupted sleep. I slept well last night & had no nightmares that I remember

well today I experienced a strange mix of emotions

firstly just as I was preparing to leave home to spend my allocated day of voluntary work at the local arts gallery (I have put in extra time this week as I have been full of energy & have wanted to be around people), the dreaded & long expected ‘Limited capability for work’ form ESA50 01/13 arrived through the post from the UK governments lickspittle dirty-doers ATOS

now I normally do not fear bureaucracy, but the ATOS letter has been expected for some time & made me feel very uneasy. This would have been an automatic trigger to run & hide:

run & hide in a bottle of alcohol

because I have not been facing up to the reality of my adult responsibilities for a very long time. There was not a lot that I could do about it this morning, so I managed to rationalise the situation relatively quickly, ie within about 5 minutes & scheduled a timeslot on Tuesday morning next to fill it in fully with calm collectedness with consultation with my GP who is very understanding to my situation now that I am coming clean to him. I will also trawl the Internet for helper sites on Tuesday for help. Further I made a point when I filled in my previous forms to scan the copies of my answers & given that my condition vis-à-vis Bipolar & alcoholism (dual diagnosis) have worsened & become more manifest since my last form-filling exercise then I will just go for it on Tuesday. In rationalising it in this way thoughts of fear & panic, anxiety passed very quickly & I found myself smiling as I walked the short mile or so to the arts centre.

I successfully compartmentalised something that would previously have dominated the rest of my day, weekend & in fact until I had sent it off after getting angry & doing this poorly & possibly whilst drunk & had had the results back

the timing is good given my recent documented breakdown

& so it goes. I have a level of control again

don’t panic

but I feel for those who are less fortunate than myself. This current UK Tory government’s attack on the most vulnerable disabled members of society is despicable & truly sickening

my first task of the day was to begin teaching the new employee, who is an 18yo former arts student, how to update the events calendar on our webserver, a process that only I am able to do currently. I would begin by saying that the webserver structure is utterly horrendous, something that we have inherited. It is a behemoth, a monster. It is difficult to control even when one understands it (I have been working on servers for over 10 years), & then once you understand the structure it then has more quirks than MS Word in terms of formatting erros & problems, so you have to reformat everything often several times & fool it (it is a logical system I know – I ascribe it anthropomorphic qualities here!). So there are various meticulous steps that have to be taken. I have never documented these. So I was aiming to kill 2 birds with one update as the saying goes…

the network was down

& so it goes

so I decided to have a discussion with her about the Internet in general. I had prepared a hand-out as I am taking this seriously (I want to make training part of my new business plan as I enjoy it immensely, it can be very rewarding) & passed this over. The first paragraph was a brief history, in a short statement of how the Internet (note the capitalisation) evolved. Her eyes glazed. To her the Internet is Facebook. Stet

so I was losing her. I had lost her, She actually got quite animated & started arguing about all sorts of nonsense. I just laughed at her which made her worse…

she also ‘hates’ PCs, she only likes (cr)Apple computers. I pointed out, brutally that they were simply expensive branded PCs, akin to say, Versace or Gucci, which she did not appreciate, and as the arts centre was a struggling local authority funded organisation then she had better get used to MS Windows, and further that as the majority of the computing world also uses MS Windows then ditto

good start

& so it goes

anyway I pulled it round by drawing it back to graphic design & complimented her on an idea she had given me last week about the website that I had acted upon (I had a local copy of the site of my notebook)

we cut the “lesson” short. I might be harder on her next week or maybe gentler, I will chat to out “boss” in the meantime about how she wants me to proceed

I’m game either way

but I must remember what I was like at 18. I’d have hated & resented me & have gainsaid everything that I said too

so it is nearly 12 bells, better stop[ here & post. The rest of the day was just fine, I shared reception duty with my new pupil. I surprised her by making her a cup of herbal tea & got a smile, eventually

if you have read this far then thanks. Goodnight

day 19: the busy busy busy bokononist – how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is

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well yet another busy day today, this is good. I feel good about myself without having a level of false confidence which I have had in the past when I have attempted to quit drinking alcohol. That is not to say that these previous attempts have been any the less sincere. They have not. Life is a progression & often a regression as many of us are all too familiar with

so just as a simple listing here are some of the things that I have been doing today in no particular order chronologically or importance for recovery or financially:

  • processed hundreds of photos from the print studio yesterday, but I did this by thinking about it beforehand & worked out new ways to batch process to save time by working smart
  • drawn & doodled for fun & relaxation (Boris the spider)
  • began to scratch out an dry-point etch acetate plate for next week’s print afternoon
  • continued the painting I have been working on (stage 13: cloissonism)
  • designed & uploaded 5 web pages which are based on existing templates so I basically had to Photoshop 25 graphics to scale/dimension (plus correct colour balances as quality varied) & rewrite the text from the authors as I have a style which is better suited for the web & optimised for the search engines (well I reckon so at any rate)
  • voxed a friend & sent it via the Internet
  • designed a business card loosely based on a former business card
  • produced more mock-ups for a facebook business page for a potential client
  • wrote 2 help docs & a flow chart for a meeting in the morning
  • re-potted 6 cactus
  • ordered a new laser printer as I cannot fix mine yet & cannot get a response from OKI or buy spare parts. I will keep looking but need to print very soon
  • cooked fish & chips (out of a packet) but made a broad bean & baby carrot mix in mayonnaise, hot chili pepper & tamari sauce to go with it
  • made green tomato chutney from my tomato plants which I neglected during my hypomanic summer & consequent clinical depression
  • drank lots of green tea
  • mopped the kitchen floor
  • smiled a lot

boris_the_spider

I feel good about myself

today

so was this Bipolar hypomania?

I don’t think so. I felt in the middle of my scale. 0 – zero. I simply had time & energy. This is a great feeling to have. I know it won’t last. I am not flat out, as I say I am trying to work smart. I take a lot of breaks, I relax, I had a bath early evening. I was in contact with a close friend who is very aware of the situation (she works in the psychiatric profession), keeping her informed & she was of the opinion that everything was alright. Along with my doctor on Monday, they both said that I am displaying self-awareness of my mood & mood elevation or depression. I have charts at hand & I fill in notes throughout the day

I have had good music (in my humble opinion) playing for most of the day. Music that makes me feel happy, music that I have neglected & not listened to for a long while. 10000 Maniacs are currently playing their live gig at Orchard Park, NY. If you add this maniac here then that makes 10001. Levity in the face of adversity is a good thing for me. I use it as a tool, as comfort at times. Gallows humour

getting into things that I love again after a summer of non-reality & intense hypomania & increased alcohol abuse which I will try to explain in later posts, the events of the summer that is, the lead up to my latest crash, if I make the next 32 minutes that is of the only important day, the only day that I currently have:

today

in the morning I have 2 jobs to perform:

I have a “photo-shoot” for a local cafe at 09:00hrs as they will be baking a load of cakes for an outside event – li’l ol’ wine drinker me, who’d have thought a few short-long days ago

then an hours meeting about a web design & setup project with a local community group which I give my time & IT skills to on a voluntary basis. I have prepared well for this, for once, so will feel confident & comfortable. I have nothing to prove. I guess I will be a guide, a goalkeeper, a backstop. Someone at the end of a phone line or an e-mail when something goes awry. Reassurance for those new to something that seems huge & overwhelming

I know that feeling well

then a visit to meet my new Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) & to say farewell to the old

then lunch with a friend at a Turkish cafe, they are buying. What? How? Is this really happening?

yes it is & simply because I am not taking a drink of alcohol for today, taking my medication, listening to my better judgements & being as honest as I can to those that I know & trust, my GP & more than anyone to myself. I can do this

today. That’s all I have to do

I can plan for tomorrow, but I just have to deal with today in terms of alcohol & my Bipolar Disorder

so in with the new etc

if you have read this far then many thanks for your time. I bid you goodnight & sweet dreams

day 18: the studio – the four horsemen & a new approach to printing

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well I have had a truly fabulous day today. I have been:

busy busy busy

my day has been filled with a lot of worthwhile creative activities that have followed a loose plan but additional chances have come along that I have taken which have been mutually beneficial to all parties concerned

carpe diem – seize the day

I am aware that the time is pushing toward midnight, of my daily commitment to this blog as part of my therapy & recovery, & I am tired now so I will just go for it here, now, and write it as I see it, briefly, in contrast to yesterday

so after leaving home this morning I first met a potential client for an introductory chat about some work that she needs doing for a potential small scale website. I know her already, we get on, we have talked. The meeting went well & I will see her again next week after I mock up a graphic of how I envision her new web presence. I had prepared well & she was impressed with my ideas & graphics & so forth. I have done the majority of the work for her already this evening so I can relax on that one

then I spent the afternoon in a print studio

columbian_press

this is a Columbian printing press, over 100 years old. It can print up to A0 paper size, single sheet. An impressive contraption, fantastic. I didn’t use it. I was engaged in much more humble & modest activities

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have the task of logging the chemicals etc in the print studio, so this has given me the incentive to go printing again. Printing is very good for me. Unlike painting, printing by it’s very processes has be systematic, repetitive, thorough to a large extent to get consistent successful results. So I made a lot of notes on exactly what I was doing & when & I photographed the whole process from start to finish. I will use this as a basic training manual in the future, a step through guide

today then I was printing using the technique known as dry-point etching then hand rolling with permanent intaglio inks onto very nice quality thick Somerset paper. I won’t get into it. It is dry & dull for this blog but here are some of the results:

willie_nelson

kris_kristofferson waylon_jennings

johnny_cashI love these four men as artists separately as individuals & together their work as The Highwaymen was great. I also feel a certain association with them all as they have all experienced their own personal demons with drugs or alcohol, depression or all of the above

I enjoyed the whole experience. In the past I have rushed through, got bored, cut corners, missed steps out. Today I did it as carefully & with as much mindfulness as I could. I was happy with the results. I printed 4 of each & I will send 2 of the sets off to 2 friends who share a love of them also

I met a couple of folks that I hadn’t seen for a while as well & we got chatting. To cut this short, we are meeting for a coffee in the near future to talk further about possibilities of some more web design work

then I met the friend who cooked the superb meal on Sunday when we went out for the walk to Morton castle on day 16. I did her a few favours tonight by redesigning a flyer for a bonfire party (they are aware of my alcoholism) for Hallowe’en at her farm house. I got an invite & a big thank you

can’t be bad

there were a number of other small things happened too, but it is nearly midnight. I don’t have time to check this through so I am just going to fire it off. I can re-edit in the am, maybe, or not

let it go

tomorrow is another day

19 days ago I was drunk

today I am grateful that I have not had a drink of alcohol & I am aware that if I do then days like today are impossible

thank you for reading this if you got this far – goodnight

day 17: the rock bottom nightmare of the alcoholic manic depressive immediately after a binge

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before you start this post, it is a long ramble, not such a pleasant hike as I had yesterday on day 16

for a start there are no photographs today

I shall ramble on

it is 21:03hrs. I started Boris the blog on day 6 of consecutive days of abstinence from alcohol, so the first 5 days have not been blogged about yet except for a few references in passing. I will attempt today to do so before these first few nightmare days retreat into the further mists & fogs of time & I either romanticise them or in turn embellish them into something that they were not, as I have often observed in both myself & other alcoholics & those of us with a Bipolar diagnoses of whatever form

if I can solidify how I was feeling then at that time somewhat, just few short, yet seemingly long, days ago, then if I continue to get through this, whatever this may be, a day at a time, today, then I will get a chance to further reveal how it was for me & what happened in the build up

writing this blog has so far been extremely cathartic, part of an integrated therapy regime that I am developing & I find that I look forward immensely to writing it. I am aware that it could become an obsession, but as I say I am aware of this possibility

as the days go by though I am finding that opportunities are arising as I begin to reintroduce myself back into the world outside my walls, Wonko’s Paradox, gently, & so I have switched from writing in the morning to the evening over the past 2 days as I have found that I have little time now in the morning to write the blog as I had been doing for the first 10 days. To be honest writing it has kept me going as much, if not more, than anything else

my sleep pattern has been getting back to a more ‘normal’ routine, whatever that may be, but I would suggest more in tune with the seasons. I slept in later today, I was not up before 05:00hrs! as I have been doing in these early days whilst my battered mind & body have been adjusting & expelling the poisons that I have poured into them

my medication will also be building up to efficacious levels

these are good things

back to where I began this post then. The first 5 days were some of the lowest, most desperate, days of my life. A rock bottom of sorts. I could see no way out, no future whatsoever. I did not want to be here on the planet. I did not know what I could do to change this. I did not think that I could survive anymore. I could not stand the turmoil that was my mind, the chaos of my thinking. I thought that I was totally insane. I countered that by thinking that the rest of the world was totally insane. I had no hope. None at all

I hated the world

I hated myself most of all

hated, utterly despised, myself

or at least I thought so

I am an alcoholic & a manic depressive & I had just come off of a 4 day binge in which I had imbibed 175+ units of ethanol in the form of cider, lager & white wine. I had not eaten any food during this period. I had not washed my body or brushed my teeth for 10 days. I had not changed my clothing. I had only emerged from my bed to visit the local shop in order to purchase more alcoholic beverage. That was the only physical human contact that I had had for the whole sordid period

I was depressed, isolated & I was drunk, then I was severely dehydrated & hungover: mentally & physically

I was off my medication for Bipolar I Disorder, manic depression

I was in the process of splitting up with my partner of 5 months, which I would not accept ( we had in fact split up weeks before to all intent & purpose), due in the main, but not entirely to be fair, to my behaviour whilst drinking alcohol & then it’s after effects

I was not playing my hand to its maximum effect, unless I wanted to lose that is, & lose “to the max” in modern parlance: lose in entirety

this post will be necessarily be disjointed, but I want to get some recollection down in writing before it fades entirely, which given past experiences, no matter how bad things get or have been, or equally as dangerously, no matter how good things seem to be (possibly more dangerous in my case),:

because I will forget

forgetting where I have been, & just how desperate I was, is like Sir Winston Churchill’s statement:

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it

when I awoke on the afternoon of day 1 the conception of writing a blog about my experiences let alone not drinking for a day did not cross my mind. My first thought was to go to the off-licence. That was a Saturday. But fortunately I had run out of money & had no access to any more until the Monday morning. That was very fortunate. It was not on my own volition that I first had to stop drinking alcohol this time around

I was in a state of dozing then waking repetitively over & over & over for the next day or two. I was somewhere in between sleep & waking for most of the time. I was in a haze, a fog. Or more probably, to my mind, the analogy of trudging through the mire is more appropriate. I didn’t want to think at all. When I did start to think again, & I knew that this would happen soon enough, then I would have to face up to what had been happening over the past months, & then a much bigger picture frame would begin to emerge: what I was, what had become of me & how I had got to this state of being

in the movie Fight Club, which is only really peripherally about a fight club, the central character & narrator, played by Edward Norton (who enigmatically is never specifically named except when he refers to himself, possibly, as Jack in the third person), speaks of insomnia as follows:

when you have insomnia, you’re never really asleep… and you’re never really awake… with insomnia, nothing’s real. Everything’s far away. Everything’s a copy of a copy of a copy”

that’s, in many ways how I felt during these first nascent days. It felt unreal. A waking dream. A nightmare without being asleep

when I am not drinking alcohol then I seem to have only 2 states as I posted once before: either asleep or awake (although if I have a brief lie down in the afternoon then I find that I can drift for a half hour or so pleasantly in a strange dream-like state)

so these mere few days do merge into what seems like a very long period of time

I was consciously thinking even as I dry wretched through a lot of this period, tried to get a little tinned soup into myself & some vitamins, that come Monday when I was paid that I could end this by getting a bottle or two. Strangely that thought carried me through for a while

the mental & emotional pain is very difficult to describe, so I am not going to bother trying now, at this early stage. I actually attempted to write it down, but it just sounds self-pitying & melodramatic, so when the time comes, assuming that I make it through today, then I will make another attempt when the time is right

On the Sunday night I was so restless & in such turmoil that I called a friend & told them honestly, for once, what I had been doing, the gist of how I felt right there & then, that I had been thinking about suicide even in an abstract way & that I was at the end of my tether. I couldn’t take any more. They listened patiently. What else could they do? There is not a lot that anyone can do or say to an alcoholic in the throes of this state of being except offer an ear or a hand & some hope

this they did & I took some comfort. I said that I would try to sleep on it & make no decisions about tomorrow. I didn’t sleep as thoughts rattled around my head at a thousand plus miles an hour. Eventually I watched a couple of movies & got off to sleep at around about 07:30hrs on the Monday morning. I awoke again at around 10:00hrs then dozed with the radio on

at this point thoughts of alcohol were beginning to make me feel sick & I had developed cold & flu-like symptoms, which is to be expected & has happened to me before on many an occasion. So I decided to try to hold out & not take a drink using a familiar technique that I have used before

do not take a drink of alcohol today

so I didn’t. I felt so ill & was shaking so much in any case that I found it difficult to walk 10 yards to the toilet let alone a half mile to the shops. That hasn’t stopped me before though. There is a strange will in this alcoholic to utterly destroy myself

I didn’t do anything else on that first Monday except lie in bed feeling weak, sick & as if my whole life was a total failure. I was worthless. But suicidal thoughts had gone. There was a glint of light somewhere ahead, not much, but a glint

when Pandora opened her ill-fated gift from the Mighty Zeus, which of course she was intended to do from the first, & never had a chance of not doing, then after all the ills had fled the jar to inflict their worst upon humanity, the last to emerge was hope

& so it goes

my friend called me again. I was embarrassed & did not want to speak. They knew this, but were very kind & gentle, made sure that I had eaten & taken on fluids & vitamins & said that they would call again tomorrow, if I wanted & that they were there if I wanted to talk. That they were thinking about me

I wept for hours

kind people give me a problem with self-worth & self-esteem, but that is another topic

& so it went until Tuesday evening, day 4, when I finally got out of bed & took a bath, shaved & gently brushed my teeth. My face was cut quite a lot as I was shaky & my toothbrush was full of blood (I used a soft manual brush as I daren’t use the electric, that would have ripped my gums apart)

this made me feel warm & quite a bit better. I changed my bedding & sheets & went straight back to bed, but this was big-time progress – I had got out of bed & shown a modicum of self-care. I ate hot food for the first time too in nearly a week (if that’s what you can call it)

the following is the first entry in my newly constructed mood diary notes section (unedited) from Tuesday night when I was sitting up in bed browsing the Internet reads:

coming around further, started to look at CBT/REBT/ACT, admission of alcoholism to self, recent significant other (who amazingly still wants to be in communication) & 2 friends (1 via e-amil), research into techniques to arrest alcoholism, 1 hour txt exchange with xxxxxx, shaved (cut self lots) & long hot bathed, brushed teeth (mouth bled a lot), spoke to xxxxx, microwave frozen macaroni cheese, back to bed but sitting up

day 5 brought a slightly brighter mood again, still very depressed, but my mind was now beginning to race which is very hard to deal with. I had had almost 7 hours uninterrupted sleep, got out of bed just after midday. My mind progressively got faster & faster to the extent that I could feel myself getting physically hotter. So I wrote a very long rambling set of e-mails to a friend in the States who replied that I should lie down, put a cold wet cloth over my face & forehead & try to relax – as far as I could. She is aware of my situation & I am neither the first alcoholic or Bipolar Disorder diagnosis that she has encountered. But importantly, we were friends first

still are, still are

I owe her a great debt, which I cannot ever repay. I feel very grateful & humbled right now

today

on day 6 I first thought of writing my thoughts down as a blog & I put this into action. So it brought my first post on this blog. It has to date been of great help to me…

so that’s all I can handle for today, long & full of horsecrap

ho hum & so it goes

right at 23:01hrs I need to sleep

ramble on

if you have read this far then thank you, goodnight

day 16: a hike in the rain with mushrooms & banoffee trifle

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22:03hrsThe Travelling Wilburys are on the Hi-Fi, I haven’t played that for an age, fantastic. Roy Orbison is singing to me:

you’re not alone any more

I know Big O, I know, I do know now

it seems to me right now like a very long time since my last post, relatively speaking, as I have previously been writing them daily, in the mornings. Today however I went on a jaunt to a small local castle in the area with a friend from work & some acquaintances whom I vaguely knew through her. They were all very relaxed folks who work in the arts so the conversation was free flowing & pretty lateral. I enjoy that sort of talk

horsecrap. That I am good at

so, after doing some project work for a couple hours this morning, I got picked up at 10:00hrs & 3 of us headed 15 miles north to my friends farmhouse. It was lashing with rain, of course, but everyone was in good spirits & was not going to let that stop them. The drive was pleasant. I don’t know the 3 of them at all well, but my mood was a little elevated, not noticeably, but I was slightly excited to be getting out into nature & the countryside. That is absolutely normal

but I was mindful. I can very often get carried away & try to interject at every point in every conversation. So I was consciously polite & made sure that I was aware of other people, for once. I talked as slowly as I could & tried my best to listen & not to interrupt. I did okay, I think

we set out, booted up & waterproofed, in the rain & spent a very pleasing 3 hours ambling really as we were accompanied by a 3 year old, sauntering, dillying, dallying up to the castle which was on a hill. I took a load of digital photographs using my mobile phone (I’ve given up with a dedicated camera now, mobile is more discrete, far more gonzo (although I was only in 2 of the shots, I just mean that I don’t like to cut & crop the frame – I do that in my mind – I just correct the light & tonality afterwards) & just as effective) & have spent some time processing them in Photoshop, before I realised the time, which I can lose myself in. A great way to spend creative time, for me at any rate, I thoroughly enjoy working with images

road_to_the_castle

the castle was built in the 12th century & raised to the ground deliberately during attack by fire in the 17th. It stands as a relic, a palimpsest. Not really a palimpsest, it is a bloody obvious feature of the landscape, but it is strangely positioned, out in the middle of nowhere: no roads, no market towns, nothing at all. I haven’t researched it beyond a brief scan of a couple of off-the-beaten-track websites. No one seems to know much about it. Sometimes that ruins the mystery in any case

castle

the bluffs were pretty formidable & there was quite a large lake on 3 sides, so it must have taken quite an effort to build & quite an effort to attack. A lot of planning went into this

we even managed to find some fungus on the way, some of them edible

fungus_boots

so we headed back to the farmhouse & had a superb homemade late lunch of:

  • mushroom lasagne
  • traditional lasagne
  • potato & apple salad with cumin seeds & English mustard
  • green leaf salad, tomatoes & cucumber

followed by:

  • homemade banoffee trifle
  • homemade peach cobble & cream

home cooking – you can’t beat that. A lot of effort went into it & it was greatly appreciated & many genuine thanks were given

I ate way too much, as did everyone else

Bonnie the toddler was the centre of attention, as it should be & everyone gave of their time playng peek-a-boo, building silly, rickety structures with play bricks & making “wooooooooooo” sounds dramatically when they inevitably crashed & clapped. Bonnie was well in control. She knew it

so we chatted & blethered for another hour or so, then we said our goodbyes to our host & Bonnie & headed home

slightly over 2 weeks ago I was still in bed unwashed with my teeth unbrushed for 10 days after one of the worst alcoholic binges that I have ever had. I contemplated suicide, in however an abstract fashion it may have been, I still did not want to be here

I do today

just today

tomorrow never knows

I did not want to be an alcoholic

I did not want to have Bipolar I Disorder

I am a manic depressive & an alcoholic. Tough shit, that’s the way it is, good & bad

so I have 40 minutes or so to go until the 12 bells toll on BBC Radio 4, but I think that I will be asleep by then. The fresh air, walking & the excitement of being around folks again has taken it’s own toll on me today. A good price to pay

tomorrow I have full blood tests at 09:10hrs, so I cannot eat again until then. I had a banana at 21:00hrs, but to be honest I didn’t really want it, I was still a little full. I knew that I had a long time to go fasting though

so another ramble on the PC & into the ether to go with my ramble to the castle today. Time to turn in

this is who got the leftovers by the way:

chicken

if you got this far then thank you for your time, goodnight

day 15: back to the world – stepping out of/into Wonko’s Paradox

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it is early again & I have been up since just past 05:00hrs, but 6 hours of solid sleep last night & I am feeling good & refreshed

I am beginning to utilise certain techniques & their associated physical tools & hardware to attempt to regularise my disrupted sleep patterns & circadian rhythm. I will aim to discuss this in a post in the near future

if I get through today

mindfulness – don’t get too far ahead

I am optimistic that things will fall into place with action & effort, that there will be both rough & smoothe, but that is life. Everyone has to deal with that. Why should I be any different

but if I take a drink of alcohol then there will be disaster, that is a certainty – a guarantee

my mood is bang in the middle of my new (& self-developed evolving) scale, which is great news

0

yesterday I paid a visit to the organisation where I do some volunteer work. This was the first time since I crashed, which I began to emerge from merely a fortnight ago. I was there for the afternoon, 4 hours, so I was around my nominal ‘boss’ for most of that time & in the company of other folks for the whole period. Great stuff

the director knows the score(ish) & has been very compassionate, but not in a feeling sorry for me way which I think is really very crucial. We discussed the situation on the way to Edinburgh last weekend & now we discuss art & gossip & ‘normal’ stuff & nonsense

the tasks in hand in relation to my voluntary work

I volunteer at an arts centre. The main gallery was being rehung this week ready for a new exhibition opening soon so my normal role was surplus to requirements. I usually sit behind the reception desk & spout general horsecrap about whatever exhibition is on display at the time. I do it usually with a smile & with some level of research & knowledge as I have a passion for art in general

so yesterday I sat in the director’s office & we hatched a plan for me to train a new employee in the ways of our web server which I have responsibility for currently

good luck – it is a behemoth crock of crap which I have to wrestle with on a regular basis, mainly using 15+ years’ industry experience, my professional learning & qualifications, as well as intuition & know-how in the ways of the WWW & Microsoft

plus simple brute force

I think that it may actually have a will & mind of its own

as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, I taught IT skills professionally for a number of years at various levels, 1-1 & in groups, before I had to quit working full time due to my alcoholism & manic depression taking over my life

so after sitting & chatting with the new employee we decided that I spend an hour a week with them at a regular time slot & together we build an interactive flexible goal-based plan of action over the next 3 months & take it from there, with the intended outcome being the production of an actual physical & digital portfolio which can showcase the new skills that have been acquired

nice management Newspeak Boris

I love teaching & training. It is a great way for me to learn to be frank, sometimes the best way, never mind the supposed student. I have always got a lot from it

interaction with people. Framing how to pass on knowledge clarifies what exactly is involved in the knowledge itself I find. I have to pause & think about it, I’m no longer just doing it

my initial approach, by the way, was a cheesy half-witted one. By the end they had warmed a tad, I think, & seemed to genuinely smile. I used the word “cool” twice then flagged it, challenging them to tell me if it was “cool” for an old man to use that word so frequently

they said that it was okay, but that I had now said it 3 times & that that was enough. So they were listening

they didn’t like the idea of homework

lesson 1: don’t panic

dont_panic_hitchhikers_guide_to_the_galaxy

in the immortal words of the late great Douglas Adams in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

oh yes & don’t forget your towel

basically it was a gentle introduction. I showed them around the web site, frontend & back. They actually made a couple of suggestions in terms of look & feel, one of which I implemented last night when I got back home, so that was superb

but I impressed upon them that the first lesson in computing, especially on a server is

don’t panic

when I asked at the end of our session what was the single lesson that I had been trying to teach about computers in general, the pleasing response came back:

don’t panic

if one does all the sorts of damage can be done when a things go wrong on a computer either via user error or system failure… overwriting files etc… I’m not getting into it here, then the best option I have found is often to either pull the Ethernet cable or switch the damned thing off at the mains if there looks like a hack or the system is overheating, but in the case of user error then just:

STOP

panicking will make things worse every time as one clicks & clicks desperately

that applies to my life in so many ways

I have done a lot of damage after I have screwed things up by pursuing things, digging the hole that I have gotten myself into deeper & deeper & deeper

here’s a shovel & some shit Boris, you know what to do

I’m well versed in that, believe me

I’ve also got another task which is to document the hazardous chemicals in the print studio over the next whenever. I can take as long as I want. So I am aiming to combine this with beginning to go printing again once a week, as I do love the processes of manual printing. It is so tactile & satisfying. I have to be thorough & systematic to print successfully. I am going in on Tuesday afternoon next

creativity with structure

but a day at a time as I am well aware

today

I don’t reckon that there is anything wrong with getting a schedule & regularity in my life. This has been sorely lacking for years. A major part of the problem methinks

It is becoming autumnal now. It is 07:23hrs

I feel as if I am in the moment

thanks for reading if you made it this far

It seemed to me,’ said Wonko the Sane, ‘that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for use in a package of toothpicks, was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane.
Douglas Adams from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

day 14: palimpsests – the dysfunctional layers of learned behaviours still visible under the surface

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I introduced the concept of palimpsests to the blog on day 12 & I was thinking of writing my thoughts on this subject yesterday, but I had a mini-crisis, which of course was all-consuming, yet in the end proved to be a very valuable lesson learned

so palimpsests

layers under the surface, covered over by newer layers, but still subtly visible

palimpsests: like a prehistoric field system in England which has been covered over by hundreds, nay thousands, of years of subsequent agricultural systems, each apparently more advanced, until we come to todays’ vast monocultures. The palimpsests are still visible, in certain places, from the air. But that is not a topic for today, although it has a resonance in terms of my past dysfunctional learned behaviours lurking beneath the surface, just awaiting the opportunity of alcohol or a lack of mindfulness to emerge & reap havoc

palimpsest - prehistoric field system

now that is what I claimed, but then again I trained as a geographer & I would contend that that description is pretty much accurate (in terms of archaic field structures at any rate). The same could be said in an urban social geographical sense within certain cities such as Edinburgh in Scotland, or York in England, where there are underground structures, both residential & mercantile, which were simply abandoned & built on top of

I checked in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) & my loose geographical definition was given as one of the entries. But certainly not as the first. There are in fact 8 entries. The first definition reads as follows (I have redacted all of the lexicographical symbolism):

“noun
1. Paper, parchment, or other writing material designed to be reusable after any writing on it has been erased”

superimposition

as a verb however here is the OEDs definition:

“trans. To make into a palimpsest; to write again on (parchment, etc.) after the original writing has been effaced; to overwrite (an earlier text)”

during the years of the Roman culture, as we now name it, individuals when at remote parts of empire would use wax tablets to write upon then send back to loved ones & friends. These tablets could then be inked & pressed onto parchment & an impression taken. This of course had to be written, or read, backwards. But the tablets could then be scraped & reused & resent

backwards

my thinking & behaviours have not only been backwards, they have been upside down & inside out

topsy turvy

there would however always remain a slight impression of what had gone before unless the wax was melted & reset

reset

I need to begin to reset my thinking processes & my behaviour patterns

this may seem like an irrelevant waffle here, a pile of steaming horsecrap, but there is something in this for me at least

the (trans) in the definition of the verbal form in the OED above means transitive, or in effect:

changeable, passing or liable to pass into another condition

I am very prone to changeability. Mood swings. I can rapidly mood swing. Sometimes from depression to elation within a 24 hour period & back again. That is the form that my Bipolar sometimes takes

so today I want to, very briefly, explore the second of the ideas that I thought of: that being that very near to the surface, & indeed all the way down to my core, I have layer upon layer of dysfunctional learned behaviours which will doubtless form the basis of my reactions to everyday events & occurrences, both mundane & extraordinary

palimpsests

when I visited the supermarket last week, my first time out of the house since my last drink of alcohol & I was in the bread aisle, next to the booze aisle, I had the overwhelming physical & mental craving to take a drink of alcohol, then there were a set of forces that were pulling me, or pushing me, driving me to do what I have always done:

just buy some alcohol, things will be different this time

dysfunctional learned behaviours

palimpsests

I need to learn new sets of behaviours & thought processes in order to begin to function effectively & in order to give myself as much protection as possible against an alcoholic relapse so as I can begin to find out who I am & to work effectively with Bipolar Disorder. I have never given myself a chance. I don’t know, currently where alcoholism ends, Bipolar begins, and more to the point where I fit in to the whole scenario

everything in the past is muddled up & overlapping. There is no definition, no clarity. Layer upon layer built of confusion

but I understand that the further away from alcohol that I move with mindfulness, a day at a time, then the clearer things will become

clearer patterns will emerge

I am using my own concepts here because I am no expert in medicine, psychiatry, psychology, therapy or recovery. But I have a mind, I have intelligence. I have a lot of learning & a lot of experience of this thing, whatever this thing is & I am keen to begin to get my life in order

I feel that part of my recovery is to begin to explain to myself how I have got here

otherwise I feel that I will never attain any acceptance of my dual conditions, my dual diagnosis, of Bipolar I Disorder & alcoholism

I never wanted to be an alcoholic

I never wanted to be a manic depressive

but I have Bipolar Disorder

and I am an alcoholic

I accept both of these conditions

today

it is early days so I can go easy. I feel remarkably calm & level today, despite this unintelligible inane waffle. But on my 21 point mood scale I would place myself bang in the middle, neither up nor down

0

it is now 10:11hrs. Today I have the most excellent opportunity of beginning the documentation of the contents of a print studio. Mostly in terms of the inks, chemicals, thinners, fixers et al. Instead of my usual haphazard wading in with no coherent plan, the first task will be to create a spreadsheet (I love using spreadsheets). This will concentrate my mind on the task at hand

I will (gu)estimate how long the process will take & arrange a suitable amount of visits & hours. The owners are aware of my circumstances & are very supportive

mindfulness

I also have the pleasure of assessing someone for Internet training at a project where I do voluntary work. I conducted IT training professionally for several years. So I will sit with them for an hour or 2 & interact to gauge at what level they are before promising something that is unattainable for both them & myself

unattainable promises lead to failure

failure leads to alcohol

I will try to notice how the subcutaneous dysfunctional behavioural layers of Boris are working upon me today

palimpsests

thank you for reading if you got this far

day 13: bonfire of the insanities or my incredible ability to misread situations

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or should that read

bonfire of the inanities

I had in mind to blog about palimpsests today which I mentioned yesterday, but that can wait as something more immediate came up yesterday which totally threw me off balance from a totally unexpected direction

things are hunky dory mind this morning after a good deep 6 hours uninterrupted sleep, but yesterday I got caught up for around 6-8 hours, inside my own small world, my own mind if you will: with a very small, nay insignificant, problem that doubtless did not even exist

I mentioned yesterday that I was going to see my Community Mental Health Nurse for the first time in a very long while

HEALTH WARNING: THIS IS LONG, WAFFLY & A HUGE STEAMING PILE OF HORSECRAP:

I would like to point out at the outset that I have missed several meetings with this care worker through my own fault. I have been ashamed of my alcoholism, I have been drunk, I have been involved in what some call duvet therapy & various other forms of avoidance tactics

denial

anyway I left the meeting with the nurse at around 1115hrs feeling very frustrated which rapidly grew into an increasing level of anger

I felt like a scolded schoolboy in fact. What a ridiculous feeling that is for a grown fellow who came into the meeting with an open, honest approach

the offices in which I visit the nurse are set in beautiful grounds. These grounds were set up by a Victorian-era philanthropist as what was then known as a sanatorium. There are many 120+ year old trees there. I am a lover of trees. I can even spot most native British trees at 500+ yards in Winter when they have shed their foliage. Yes I am of that nature. I love it

directly outside the offices there are 2 fantastic specimens reaching up over 120 feet of Araucaria, the Monkey puzzle, the Chilean pine, which I usually marvel at, walk underneath, take stock of life & my state of being underneath after a visit

not this time. I didn’t even notice them

that is where my mind was

totally up my own arse

so what will follow here is an amalgam of extracts of e-mails that I fired off to my friends, one a mentor of sorts, who are helping me through these nascent days of my new journey, whilst I was in turmoil. Plus how I feel about the situation right now in the lovely light of a 10000 lumen SAD lightbox as the dark pre-dawn October morn begins now to lift

they know of this blog, but they have not asked to see it, it is not appropriate, not yet

not today

whilst firing off said e-mails I was only just then beginning to analyse the exact dynamics of the meeting & I felt that something was not quite right. I was entirely prepared to hold my hands up & say that it was entirely me, that I am insane, that I have everything upside down, that the nurse, as the representative of the NHS, is entirely omnipotent & omnipresent (can one be both at the same time – and if so is there any need?)

maybe I am just deluded, that is always a possibility. Who am I again?

& never get me wrong, I admire, respect & love the NHS. This is Great Britain’s finest institution. It MUST remain free at the point of entry, simply MUST. It MUST not be privatised. But successive governments have starved it of resources & the way is now paved for privateers & asset strippers to plunder this wonderful wonderful entity

Thank the gods for the wonderful NHS. Let’s fight as hard as we can to save it from privatisation, or as Nye Bevan put it:

the NHS “will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it

lives depend upon it

I digress

anyway I wanted to do things in a different way from the ways that I have tried before because disaster has always come from my past tactics

so what did I miss?

I felt like a character in one of those 1960s/70s tacky British comedies – maybe a “Carry On Up The Loony Bin” guy in a straight-jacket, or maybe someone in Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22″, flabbergasted

after I had fully explained to the nurse, in a somewhat elated way, elucidating, I believe, as I went, with the aid of charts, self-calculated mood scales & visual helpers, what had been happening over the course of the summer (when I had had an extended period of hypo-mania) then the crash & massive binge session with thoughts of suicide, which ended 14 days ago, then the past 12 days, day at a time etc, the nurse stopped me (which I was asked to do in the first place)

& said, looking embarrassed:

“I think that you are very elated”

I didn’t really know what to say, I’d just been explaining that for 10 minutes or so at their request

so I asked for them to tell me how I was presenting:

  • was I talking too quickly?
  • was I talking gobbledygook?
  • did they believe that I was delusional, even mildly so?

I had just told them that 13 days ago I was abstractly contemplating suicide, was at a -9 on my (-10 to 10) mood scale, that I hadn’t brushed my teeth for 10 days or washed & that I was on a 4 right now on my 21 point scale as we were speaking. I was slightly more elevated because I had left my home as well, I was excited because of explaining my situation to another human being in person, face-face, who was listening (& making notes to boot)

“where would you put me on a scale of 1-10,” I asked, “given that we have met probably a dozen or more times?”

“well,” they blustered, then got serious & somewhat stern, “5, maybe even a 6”

“so how is that any different to what I have already self-assessed?”

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

our estimations were very similar & I actually placed my mood relatively higher than they had placed it, on a % scale at any rate (I was 66.66% to their 50-60%), in fact by any definition at all I had self-assessed at a higher elevation

odd

I closed shop then. I was just polite. The nurse was getting no more out of me. The nurse is not an expert or a counsellor. The nurse is a bureaucrat

I was prepared to be open & honest & it got me nowhere

upon this occasion at any rate

lesson the first: learn how to discern the right people, be smart about your fledgling & highly charged emotions

I get that the nurse was attempting to watch my back. But I had demonstrated that the trend in my mood & mood elevation is downwards over the last few days by my charts & sleep duration & depth self-measurements, that I am aware of my moods & danger situations & I pointed out that this is at a very early point & that there will be fluctuations

I suppose that the fact that alcoholics are liars, well I am, or have been, doesn’t help much, so I cannot really be trusted yet. I accept that

I asked for CBT, yet again & to see my shrink again (I have had 10 different psychiatrists in 6 years). I see the nurse again next Thursday, hopefully for the last time as they are moving catchment area very soon, so I will get a new CPN, whom I will get a fresh start with

I have written to the nurse now expressing how I feel about how it went yesterday & that I left the meeting feeling very much more unsettled & disillusioned with services than I entered it, with a points list & a toned down version of the above

I will not send it. I used it as therapy

I booked an appointment with my GP for Monday next too, so I will discuss this with him. I booked a full set of blood tests too for next Monday morning so that is the 12 hour fasting ones

responsibility for Boris by Boris

anyway, writing that has chilled me out even further. Got Hare Krsna mantras on. It is still dark here at 06:43hrs. I’m going to have to deal with a lot more shite than that. But the problem is it just makes me want to shut the British Mental Health Services out

so I am okay again, but the responsibility is with me & me alone. Previously this would have taken me days to have gotten over and I would be involved in an alcoholic binge.

there is no great panacea to my problems

day at a time

I am as aware of my moods as anyone else, far more so

if I remain vigilant & mindful

ho hum & so it goes

anyway when I got back I did the monthly web stats for a voluntary project that I work with (loverley spreadsheets) which chilled me a bit & then I slapped a bit of paint onto the canvas that I have been working on with a palette (bent kitchen) knife

fun fun fun

as I say I am prepared to accept that I am in the wrong when I see it or it is pointed out, but I’m not staying silent & letting this build anymore. That just makes me explode, or implode, further down the line

I have a report to write today following on from the web stats that will absorb me for about 2-3 hours. A month’s worth of beautiful web statistics to analyse, comment upon & draw conclusions from – luxury mmmmmmmm

it is now light

thanks for your time if you got this far

day 12: the silent scream & art therapy for Bipolar Disorder

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boris_the_blog_silent_scream

12″ x 16″ – oils on canvas – please click image to enlarge

I painted this image in 2009, at least I think that I did at any rate. It was part of a project that I was working on at the time

I had had to stop working (I have been self-employed all of my adult life – no shock there really is there) because of a breakdown, a short period of institutionalisation & my initial diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder & had decided to go back to art school in order to fill my time & to try to get out of my isolation & loneliness

this is how I was feeling for a large majority of the time at this point in my life

the silent scream

it helped somewhat to paint this image, to express how I was feeling on the inside onto an external medium

of course my painting was a conscious reference to the marvellous series of works known popularly as The Scream, or Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature), Skrik in his native Norwegian by the great artist Edvard Munch who said of his inspiration for the artwork:

One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The colour shrieked. This became The Scream” (taken from The Art Institute of Chicago)

Edvard Munch - The Scream of Nature

(image links to Wikimedia)

but I had no control at all of my moods. None at all. I was in total denial of both my alcoholism & manic depression

I did not want to have Bipolar I Disorder

I did not want to be an alcoholic

I was only taking my prescribed medication sporadically, inconsistently, which is possibly worse than not taking it at all, as the prescription drugs that I use, & used then, need to build up in my body to have any level of efficacy

I was also binge drinking alcohol

I was also taking other street drugs as self-medication

I was lying to my doctor, my Community Mental Health Nurse, my psychiatrist, my mother, my partner at the time, my friends, anyyone who would listen in fact, about how I was feeling:

I’m okay, things are getting better

I was anything but okay & things were getting worse, much much worse. I didn’t know how I felt. I felt a thousand different things, sometimes all at the same time. Paradoxically I felt nothing too

mostly though I was lying to myself

but overall I was feeling what I would call the silent scream

I can’t express it in words any better than the painting exhibits. That is exactly how I felt for a greater part of my time

so I numbed my mind & my body with alcohol & drugs because I didn’t want to exist in my mind. I didn’t like what I thought. I didn’t like what I thought I was

in fact I didn’t know what I thought

I didn’t know who I was

I had no idea at all

I simply had no idea who I was, where I was, what I was doing, what I wanted or what I needed to start to begin to do in order to answer any of these questions

I felt like this last week. My last drink of alcohol was on Friday 20 September, 8 pints of strong English cider. This was day 4 of a binge in which I sat alone on my bed, no physical contact with anyone except the owner of the shop where I bought the booze from. I had a lifeline via the Internet with a long-standing friend from across the years whom I am in regular contact with. He knew there was something wrong, he was kind, but what could he do?

This was a long binge for me

I won’t go into that binge in this post, although I intend to fully document this as part of my writing therapy in a future post if I make it through today, but I will say that in the 4 days I imbibed 175+ units of ethanol. I only know this because of picking up the debris of wine bottles, beer cans & cider bottles which were cast randomely around my home when I had finally plucked up the courage & energy to get out of bed to face up to life again

the silent scream

so it is now 05:43hrs. I slept for 5.5 hours. I went out like a light when my head hit the pillow which is unusual for me. No niggles, guilts or residual thoughts followed me to bed. I slept uninterrupted. I only seem to have 2 states (in terms of sleep):

  • asleep
  • awake

I don’t seem to have a drifting half-awake/half-asleep state, but more will become clear if I avoid drinking alcohol on a daily basis for long enough

today

I don’t take my time to wake up: BOOM, I’m just awake. As I said in an earlier post, when I am alone I simply have to get up & get on with the day

I got a good deal of painting done yesterday & I will aim to continue this in the afternoon. At one point I got into a jam. I thought that I had ruined the painting. How can one ruin a painting (mine are no masterpieces to begin with believe me – so drop the serious approach – this is therapeutic). I paint thick & loose in any case so I just layer it up

Layers. Palimpsests: like a prehistoric field system in England which has been covered over by hundreds, nay thousands, of years of subsequent agricultural systems, each apparently more advanced, until we come to todays’ vast monocultures. The palimpsests are still visible, in certain places, from the air. But that is not a topic for today, although it has a resonance in terms of my past dysfunctional learned behaviours lurking beneath the surface, just awaiting the opportunity of alcohol or a lack of mindfulness to emerge & reap havoc

in any case a painting is merely a series of splodges & lines & daubs of paint on what is effectively a 2 dimensional surface that the eye may or may not interpret into whatever it may or may not interpret it

there is masses of paint on the canvas already, so that will be workable into the weekend, and beyond (careful Boris, stay in the day – mindfulness). The palette knife will come out. I love this stage. Huge slathers of slithery oily paint working

first though I have a few mundane chores, which I am surprisingly now enjoying, dull stuff but stuff nevertheless that is keeping me grounded & alive today. Stuff that I used to dismiss as beneath me, below me

bad attitude

I have an appointment with my Community Mental Health Nurse at 1000hrs. I have missed the last 4 meets. I have been ashamed to see her as I have been off the medication & bingeing on alcohol. So I am all prepared. I have my newly designed mood diaries filled in & was going to print, but my laser has decided not to work, so I will try to fix it now, if not I’ll just print using the inkjet (I’m stubborn, I want to fix laser, it is far cheaper)

and I shall shave, bathe, dress well & wear my best perfume. Presentability & self-care

I am the Maybelline girl – today

& so it goes

day 11: the concrete broke your fall

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06:00hrs – it’s a dark October morning (white rabbits) – yes, that’s right October

the track “Why Not Smile” from the paradoxically named album UP by quite probably my favourite & most admired band, REM, in many ways sums up many folks’ well intentioned yet ultimately naïve & often totally counterproductive attitude toward mental illness in general & depression, major depressive episodes, in particular

those of us who suffer from drug addiction & alcoholism as dual conditions are well used to this inanity as a double whammy:

Why Not Smile

you will find the lyrics at the above link. There aren’t many of them. Really, there aren’t. There doesn’t need to be

The music & arrangement is chiefly credited to Mike Mills, but singer Michael Stipe seems, to me at any rate, to be showing us, in his brilliantly elusive lyrical fashion, that we will very often hear such platitudes, which I have time & again, time after time:

Why Not Smile

as if this banal utterance, this bland call-to-arms, if you will, will miraculously lift a clinical depression or a deep & serious life crisis. This is not in reality usually the fault of the protagonist in my opinion. The advocate is doubtless at a loss to understand their good friends’ problems & why their friend cannot simply:

pull themselves together”

misunderstanding & fear, frustration & concern

the song is further elusive in that the beautiful melody with bells-a-tinkiling & harpsichord building to crescendo further disguises the meaning. It is REM at their best. Melodic, harmonious, soft & gentle. Yet at the heart there is grief, pain, misunderstanding, fear

loss

the silent scream as the concrete broke your fall

this is merely my take on the track of course. As many people who know me have pointed out:

you think too much, you overanalyse things too much. Stop thinking so much

maybe so

REM have in many ways formed the musical backdrop of my adult life. I have always found solace in REM when at my lowest points mentally

I first got into them when Document was released in the late 1980s. I thought they left the stage at exactly the right point, with grace & dignity, heads held high. But that tale can wait for another day…

I will just finally say before I sign off for the morning that last Tuesday evening (which would have been day 4 (I hadn’t even thought about this blog then)), when I had first got out of bed after thoughts of removing myself from the planet (abstract, but nevertheless), I played the album Automatic for the People which has the track Everybody Hurts. Now I have always dismissed this track as populist & schmaltzy, so have never given it any time. But I was in floods of tears in the bath as I cleaned my weary dirty body & let the words begin to suppurate my soul & cleanse

I was very nearly out of time

I go to bathe now, break fast & get ready for the day

again I aim to paint. I hope to be back later, as long as I bear in mind what I am, use the tools & resources available to me, perform my petty rituals & develop & stick to my nascent regime as far as possible then I might just do that

20:58hrs – I actually rode my bicycle out to the shops today and bought milk, bread & a few other essentials. I felt quite safe, but I was mindful. I was ready to cycle back home at top speed if I felt that gut wrenching feeling. So I was out for around 30 minutes & I enjoyed the fresh air. But that was quite enough for now. No rush, no hurry

I managed to get quite a bit of painting done today & I thoroughly enjoyed it. I normally am very slapdash. Failing that I waited until I was very drunk

& so it goes

I have a lot of canvasses that I simply have to leave to dry & paint over agin. I could scrape them off but I actually quite like the build up of layers which gives them texture of a sort

palimpsests

buried & hidden layers covered up but still somehow visible. Like prehistoric field sysems on the English landscape visible from the air under the current agricultural monocultures. Like the learned behaviours that I have built up over the years of my alcoholism & undiagnosed manic depression, bubbling away under the surface ready to burst out when I take that first drink

so I enjoyed painting – a lot. I took my time. I painted as much with my mind as with my hands. Now I am no painter, but I am happy with the results so far. Tomorrow, if I make it to 12 bells with my head on that pillow & sober, then by around midday the paint should be about ready to work on again. It is thick. I will use a palette knife tomorrow, as today I made the outlines & basic shapes

fun, fun, fun

I cooked again: kedjeree again. That’s the last of that for the week, so I have to think about tomorrows’ meal, but I’ll think about that tomorrow. Tomorrow is not today. I get ahead of myself

I have Hindu mantras playing, I find them extremely relaxing. I’m tired now, so I shall wind this up now, then wind down, do the dishes, put the rubbish out, the mundanities of life that I used to neglect but that are keeping me alive today

tomorrow I see my Community Health Nurse at 1000, I have missed the last 4 appointments. Yes it has been that bad. I have been avoiding the world that much

I have been that ashamed

goodnight

day 10: Bipolar Disorder – calming the hypomanic mind with ritual

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I awoke this morning, mind ablaze with a thousand thoughts

well I don’t actually know that because I couldn’t actually count them, but that is how it felt

synapses (we just don’t have a clue about brain wiring at all do we) firing at will

it is as if after the regulated firing of the front-lines of armies facing one another on a far away, long ago battlefield, which generally fire by rank upon the order of an adjutant, as they advanced upon one another through all the smoke & noise & blood & guts & sulphur & confusion, were finally unleashed upon one another:

ranks: attach bayonets, fire at will

quite exciting in a way, but very hard to cope with. Today feels, so far, like a battle

over dramatic. Maybe, but that’s how it feels. Given that this is day 10 away from the booze, then maybe not dramatic enough. Life & death is at stake if I do not remain:

mindful at all times today

it is 09:06hrs and that is my current state. No coffee for me today, that’s for sure, no indeed. I have mantras playing, softly, a jostick burning, I have bathed, I am sipping green jasmine tea

I was planning to paint today, and paint is what I will aim to do after I get the first draft of the blog up online. Painting is soporific to me. Well, not sure it is soporific, doesn’t make me want to sleep, but it brings me close to a trance like state when I get into it

I have had a lot of experience of psychological counselling in the past to do with both alcoholism & Bipolar Disorder. But I was not ready for it:

I did not want to be an alcoholic

I did not want to have manic depression

I am an alcoholic & I have manic depression. Wear it Boris, wear it well…

so I have, as I was saying, a lot of experience. These last few days I have been gathering a lot of charts & materials that I have thrown into a box unmarked (but secretly in my mind labelled ‘I am not a loony’). I also have a load of digital materials, spreadsheets & so forth. I have adapted these resources to make more sense to me. What I have come up with, and I have been using on a daily basis are the following:

  • daily mood diary spreadsheet (digital) – this documents when I wake, mood on wake, coffees taken, mood elevation, vitamins taken, bedtime, mood at bed, hours of sleep, sleep interrupts plus brief concise notes of important pertinent events during a day – this helps a lot with self-regulation, can be reviewed & I take it to show my Mental Health Nurse, General Practitioner & Psychiatrist (after all Mental Health is not exactly a precise science now is it, so they like my input on myself (my first degree is in a science btw)!)
  • reaction spreadsheet (digital) – adapted from a self-esteem diary, this basically logs how I deal with the external world. In any given situation how do I react on an emotional level to other people, how does my self-perception colour my reaction to these events, how can I rewire my thinking to view events in a healthier more rational way and where is the other person coming from. This is an adaptation of REBT & CBT as far as I have worked both practices. Self-help basically
  • Boris the Blog – where I dump stuff
  • personal diary – where I dump other stuff
  • friends – where I dump yet more other stuff

there is a lot of stuff to dump

so basically this is all about letting stuff go and getting all the shite that I have learned, retained & still cling onto out

dysfunctional learned behaviour

learned dysfunctional behaviour

it obviously served a purpose, but it will kill me, or worse now, and I can’t move forward whilst I retain it

letting go

I retain shite. Thoughts. Behaviours. Value systems

all unhealthy

so I go to paint

20:25hrs – well, not such a bad day. I have not been stricken by another alcohol craving, yet (there is a way to go until I place my head on the pillow & 12 bells toll (they actually do on the UK BBC Radio 4 (I don’t own a television), the chimes of Big Ben in London))

I cooked a salmon fishcake for supper: roasted potatoes & tomatoes with soya beans & capers in scotch bonnet pepper sauce. Cooking is good therapy. Focusing. Healthy activity. Looking after myself in a small yet very important way. Importantly it is rapidly becoming a routine part of my day which I look forward to

I am also currently boosting myself with a high-dose vitamin B & C complex to replenish lost reserves from my past months of alcoholic self-indulgence, bingeing, self-pity & self-neglect

I didn’t paint much today in the end, I wrote quite a lot & pottered about. No guilt though, I had a loose plan. I did mainly something else. So what. But I prepped 2 canvasses ready for the morning. I like to paint using an oil painting technique known as wet-on-wet (technically alla prima), so the paint should be not wet & not quite tacky by mid-morning, about 15 hours from now – ideal

so I end the day on small talk:

small things I aim to furnish my routine with, my new patterns, my rituals. My rigmarole will be filled with petty nonsense, the mundane, the day to day. Oh, yeah, there will be huge steaming piles of horsecrap thrown in too

these things may just keep me alive

a day at a time

so at 21:06hrs, I am going to watch a bit of an REM gig

goodnight

day 9: thoughts on writing et al, strategy & tactics

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“Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.'” – Kurt Vonnegut (you can find some the great, amusing, mystifying & etc quotes of Vonnegut to start you off here)

I have decided that writing Boris the Blog is one of my main forms of therapy. Writing therapy. I have always written, but never daily & never in the same place. I have journals, hand written & digital all over the place. It would take more effort to cobble them together than just to wipe the slate & start again. So that is what I am doing here. I feel safe here. I can say what I want. It is at present unstructured, but I can unload, offload if you will, the ills, the joys, just the mundane nonsense that runs through my mind, my nut, my noggin

now I am not comparing myself in any way to Kurt, except to say that I am a member of the species Homo sapiens sapiens & that I believe myself to be a humanist, either with or without capitalisation

oh & that I can write in the English language, of sorts, using a series of 26 characters, 10 numbers & a dozen or so punctuation marks on a piece of paper or computer screen

so it is now day 9 of my new adventures into sobriety and as the days drift by, and I notice that days are long now, so much time, that I need to begin to carefully structure & plan my time. Not rigid by any means, not yet, but strategy & tactics are required because as I said yesterday I need patterns to emerge. I cannot throw a diaphanous veil across myself & hope for the best, I need a suit of armour

I need rituals, structures, procedures, tools, patterns, weapons which I can use to protect myself & to inculcate a new way of being within my conscience & importantly subconscience

oh, by the way, I crashed out yesterday, day 8, so I never got back to the PC, it was a long day with some heavy lifting, so that, all in all was positive (physical excercise is a good thing & when I feel safer in leaving my residence (Wonko’s paradox – I’ll explain some day) then this will play an important role in recovery). I had a good long chat with someone whom I admire, and I opened up to her. She was cool about it all. She was fairly candid about some of her issues too. You don’t get if you don’t give: well I don’t at any rate, and I am beginning not to expect to

my life so far has basically drifted along from point to point to point to point. I’m not suggesting I have not had a direction, well I am suggesting that actually. I have played many varied & diverse parts in my career, and career is an apposite word, believe me

right I have been hard at various things since before 0600hrs this morning, so I am going to make myself a sandwich & a cuppa then lie down for at least an hour & a half…

21:46hrs – I’ll just pick up this line of thought. I slept for about an hour, but I am tired so I lay in bed flat, resting my body, and listened to a BBCR5Live football commentary, which was innocuous enough to cause my brain no major taxation. Guys getting annoyed about football. Well, that’s their lookout. I guess they get paid well enough to get annoyed for a living, so fair enough

I have cooked again, a kedjeree [sic], of sorts, consisting of smoked peppered mackerel, boiled egg. basmati rice & the remnants of my tarka daal aloo from last evening. It was rather pleasant & filling. That took up some time

I have done a little bit of tidying up of my lounge/sitting room/painting studio/music room because tomorrow I want to do a little bit of painting. I find it very relaxing & there are 2 specific paintings that I want to get out for mid-October. Oil paint takes a time to dry, so I have around a week to complete. I even got so anal that I took out all of my oil paint tubes (a lot accumulated), sorted them into the 3 primary colours, greens /browns & black/whites then designed a spreadsheet and estimated how much of each actual colour I had remaining eg:

oil_paint_tubes

if this makes sense then please e-mail me & tell me how. Basically it means I can keep up with what I have & what I need to reorder. And it took my mind off drinking because I had 2 cravings this afternoon

busy busy busy

as I said 2 days ago, these alcoholic cravings, cravings for alcohol if you like, pass extremely quickly, it just feels like they won’t at the time. They are all encompassing. Breathlessness, wrenching guts, lightheadedness. They sometimes make me cry

& so it goes

strategy & tactics

without a strategy then I will never stop drinking alcohol

without tactics then I will never fulfill my strategy

so these I must design

it is very VERY early days, but that is not to say that I sit on my arse & feel proud of myself for simply getting through a day without imbibing a drink of alcohol. Sometimes that may well be all that I can do. And get me not wrong, I would never judge anyone else now, I have been there. Getting through a day without taking an alcoholic drink can be the hardest thing in the world. But this is not the type of sobriety that I want. Not today at any rate. I have enough experience now, enough tools if you will, to gather them all into one place, one resource & create my own resource which I can tap into on a daily basis

this will be an evolution. I expect it never to be complete or perfect. The day I think it is is the day I am in grave danger of the complacent drink

& what will work for me will certainly not work for others, but I get way ahead of myself & blether

it is now 22:36hrs. I am very tired, in a good way. It is time to go to bed. I aim to read for a half hour. I have a supermarket delivery tomorrow because I am still not risking the external world. No need yet. I have all that I need here for now:

  • food
  • hot drinks
  • Internet for communication & entertainment (remote friends have been a lifeline)
  • painting gear
  • music Hi-Fi kit downstairs
  • books

strangely since I took my last drink the place is looking remarkably clean & tidy, although I haven’t deigned to vacuum yet. I seem to have some form of vacuum-block, but that is the least of my worries

goodnight

day 8: circadian rhythm & alcoholic warning signs

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it is just past 06:05hrs, in the am, as a good friend of mine says to me which makes me chortle

I awoke at around 05:45hrs and just decided to get out of bed. When I have not been drinking alcohol, & I am alone, then I find that I cannot really stand lying around in bed too much: too restless generally

today’s topic, and one that is a constant cause of problems for me when I am not imbibing is the circadian rhythm: patterns of sleep & waking: the body clock

it is still dark. Past the autumnal equinox. Days are more dark than light now until March next

I was distracted there, in a good way, by a couple of e-mail threads and a vocal missive, a vox, from a friend. So it is now 08:38, in the am. I have to prepare for my journey to Edinburgh now

I am feeling okay today so far. The sun is shining. There is a spattering of high level cirrus. It is still. There is a slight chill in the air

when I come back then I want to write about warning signs of an impending drink of alcohol

the first one for me, personally, no matter how long it is since the last drink, is when my pattern of sleep & waking begins to change & disrupt. Breakdown of patterns. Now, at the moment I obviously have no pattern, because I am only a week away from the last drink, but even after a year or more, any disruption of the circadian clock is dangerous, and must be a warning sign, must be noted, and must be:

watched, very carefully

mindfulness

day 7: sickness, sweats, cravings & a racing mind

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well I am back, 6 days down

I am struggling to eat at the moment as I guess that my body is detoxifying itself of alcohol residues (I am a binge drinker which I will explain as things progress I hope) & the after effects of neglect for the last few weeks in which I have hammered the booze on & off

I am sweating a lot. This is good. Again detoxification processes kicking in. It does feel bloody awful though, unclean. I should have a health warning badge, one of those Nuclear Contamination Hazardous Waste yellow & black jazzy insignias

Hazardous Individual

hey ho

as I mentioned yesterday, I have had 3 episodes of cravings for alcohol, but I am not stepping out of the door today. The outside world can go hang. I am staying firmly inside the asylum today

the cravings are not as powerful as yesterday, not yet at any rate, and I have resources, rituals & procedures in place to attempt to counter them when they appear, which as sure as sure is sure, they will. They are simply my own mind playing tricks. An internal voice saying that things will be different this time, that I can get out of my current ill feelings if I only dose myself up a little

absolutely true enough, but only for a few minutes and then it will all begin again, and there is absolutely no guarantee that this next disaster will not kill me, or worse

finally, I have a racing mind. This is one of the hardest things to deal with. I am distracted, irritated, ants-in-pants. I cannot sit still. I actually cannot sit still. I have been almost prowling around the rooms

this is not helped by the current elevation of mood from the Bipolar, but until I put enough distance between myself and my last drink of alcohol, then I will never be able to discern which is which

so for now I will sign this off, I am listening to Hindu mantras, which I find relaxing, focusing. I will now go into my bedroom, close the curtains (it is 15:06hrs), lie down, close my eyes & try to drift off & relax as best as I can in order to stop my mind as far as possible

I may be back later, I intend to be after a wee rest…

20:04hrs – I fell asleep sporadically, but my mind & body are telling me to slow down now. So I have cooked myself a simple pot of tarka daal aloo which will last for a few days & get better as it matures. Ground the spices myself & so forth. That was 30 minutes well spent. Comfort food, easily digested

it is time to wind down now so I shall go and choose a DVD, nothing too heavy which will keep my mind racing: it is on a hairline trigger, I can sense it

if I make it to 12 bells, and not 12 Bells (I will talk of the amazing power of humour at a later date if I get there) tonight, and manage to lay my head on the pillow sober, then that will be a week without alcohol. Counting & chickens spring to mind there. Also if I manage that feat then I have the added bonus of a free trip to Edinburgh in the morning with a colleague to visit some art galleries & to pick up some art works

could be a lot worse, I could be lying in a gutter, again, or I could be dead