‘That’ one day in September

I wanted to post something that isn’t Bipolar related. This is a post about a sport, so if you’re not that way inclined, do look away now.

It’s Grand Final week in Melbourne, Australia. This is Australia’s version of the Superbowl. There is much hype surrounding this event.

Since the season opener back in late March, AFL football has dominated sports headlines in this city. It is a religion to those most consumed by it. From talk-back radio, to magazine television programs during the week, and the games themselves, six months of the year is all about the ‘footy’.

By the end of August, the regular season is over. Eighteen teams become the final eight, and the finals campaign is in full swing. By whats trationally known as the last Saturday in September, it all comes down to two teams who will contest the AFL Grand Final. It is that ‘One day in September’, and regardless of who is playing, make no mistake, we love it. The atmosphere around the city is almost impossible to ignore, even when you’re depressed.

‘This is Greatness’ – The simple catchphrase that embodies the advertising campaign of this years finals series.

In 2012, it has come down to these two teams:

HAWTHORN vs SYDNEY

On Saturday at 2:40pm local time,

these two teams will be fighting it out for this magnificent prize:

THE AFL PREMIERSHIP CUP

Both teams have had a solid and consistent year. On face value it is difficult to pick an outright favourite. Sydney have an even spread of players and have good team structures. Hawthorn have the ‘X’ factor with a group of talented mid-fielders and forwards. They are solid in defense, but so too are Sydney.

The venue for this blockbuster is the Melbourne Cricket Ground. With a seating capacity of just over 100,000 people, the atmosphere is always electric on this day. I have had the pleasure of going to three Grand Finals in the past. The most memorable was when I was just 10 years old, way back in 1987. That year it was Carlton vs Hawthorn. The temperature soared into the high 80’s or 31 degrees celcius. A hot summer’s day during the first month of Spring. It was memorable day, because my team (Carlton), had played off against Hawthorn in the Grand Final the year before. I might have only been nine years old, but that day, I felt for the first time, the pain of having your team lose the ‘Big One’. Luckily we weren’t there at the stadium that day. But in 87, Carlton stormed home to win by 33 points and I can still recall how exciting the occasion was. As a supporter, winning the Grand Final is something special. A former player of the game once said words to this effect:

“Win a Grand Final and you become immortalized. Lose a Grand Final and you are scarred for life”

In terms of the scarring, the same can be said for the supporters.

The last Grand Final I went to was in 2008. That day Hawthorn played Geelong and again, the atmosphere didn’t disappoint. Neither did the weather. A perfect spring day was on offer. I might have chosen Geelong as my team for the day, but to be otherwise neutral of the end result and marvel at the thousands of people that erupted when Hawthorn ‘kicked away’ late in the second half of the game, was a joy to be a part of.

This year I will be watching the Grand Final at home on television. Despite the fact that I hold a league membership that allows me to buy a ticket to the big game, I am more comfortable these days soaking up the atmosphere of the day via my lounge room. If it were my team participating, the story would be different and I would be there, rain, hail or shine. Which brings me to the weather forecast for Saturday. Wintery conditions, with the chance of hail and thunder. Ideal conditions to rug up and get comfortable on the couch.

There are many fantastic stories from Grand Finals past. There is Barry Breen’s famous point in 1966 to give St.Kilda it’s first and only premiership. In 1970 Carlton came from 44 points behind at half time to record the greatest comeback in Grand Final history. There was North Melbourne’s first ever premiership in 1975. Hawthorn, who were defeated that day would extract their revenge against the same team, twelve months later. In 1977, Collingwood surrendered a three quarter time lead of 27 points to North Melbourne which forced the second Grand Final tie in history. It was also the first ever live telecast of a Grand Final. North Melbourne would win the Grand Final replay one week later. In 1979, a missed umpiring decision, resulted in the most controversial goal in Grand Final history to give Carlton a 5 point win over Collingwood. In 1984, Essendon broke a 19 year drought by defeating arch-rivals Hawthorn by coming back from a 23 point deficit at three quarter time, kicking nine goals to two. These two teams played against each other three years in a row, with Hawthorn winning in 1983 by a then record margin of 83 points. Essendon would win again in 1985. The fierce rivalry between these two teams continues to this very day. In 1989, in what has been described as the toughest Grand Final of the modern era, Hawthorn held off a fast finishing Geelong to win by 6 points and record back to back premierships for the first time in their history. In 1990, Collingwood ended a 32 year old premiership drought, defeating Essendon by eight goals. They had lost eleven Grand Finals since 1958 before their breakthrough win in 1990. There was Leo Barry’s famous mark in the dying seconds of the 2005 Grand Final to give Sydney their first premiership win in 72 years by a slim margin of four points. Their victims, the West Coast Eagles would atone for 2005, defeating Sydney by 1 point the following year. Geelong broke their 44 year premiership drought in 2007, defeating Port Adelaide by a record margin of 119 points. In 2010, after trailing since the opening bounce, Brendan Goddard put St.Kilda six points ahead to give their side a chance at their second premiership ever. The game ended in a draw and the replay the following week was easily won by Collingwood, giving them their first premiership in 20 years, and 15th overall – the second most amount of premierships won, behind Carlton and Essendon on sixteen premierships. Last year, Geelong’s recent dynasty continued, overcoming Collingwood and winning their third Grand Final in five years.

Come Saturday, another chapter will be recorded into the history books. The winners will celebrate, whilst the losers will begin the grieving process. The rest of us will wait another summer in the hope that our team will be right up there with a fighting chance in 2013.

For the 2012 decider, I am tipping Sydney to win in a thriller, by 15 points.

You’re Fired!

Dear Doctor Dickhead,

I am writing to express how appalled I am with your unprofessional conduct.

Since my last appointment with you five days ago, I have been angry and confused. How fucking dare you treat me like I am some sort of lost cause, when your fucking job is to provide suitable treatment and a duty of care. I thought we were in the process of fine tuning my medications (which as it turns out, needs a complete fucking overhaul). Instead, we decrease the frequency between appointments, and then you (much to my absolute surprise), tell me that you recommend a second opinion using the words ‘under these circumstances’.

UNDER WHAT FUCKING CIRCUMSTANCES EXACTLY?

I might have had the chance to ask about this in more detail, in addition to the changes in medication which began months ago. The opportunity may have been there if you weren’t so quick to finalize the appointment inside of five minutes, just because you thought my referral wasn’t current.

You are an absolute fucking disgrace to your profession, and do not deserve to be treating people who are not well, vulnerable and scared.

Should I remind you that the last two medications to be introduced were recommended by myself. That you failed to pick up on the ADHD component of my illness. Where is the duty of care, you worthless piece of shit.

Before and after my appointment, you showed more concern about making sure my referral was current. This was done back in June you INCOMPETENT FUCK!

Perhaps you are in the early stages of dementia. Reflecting on the past few months, it would certainly appear that something isn’t quite right. I have honestly and repeatedly told you exactly where I am, only to fall on deaf ears. I should have listened to my instincts right from the beginning when I had a hunch you had NO FUCKING IDEA!

Why on earth, when you said that anti-depressants are ‘evil’ when it comes to Bipolar Disorder, am I still on one? At half the dose I was on in the past! Why did you NOT continue to go down this path before recommending a second opinion? Why did you continually ignore the fact that Geoden/Zeldox was leaving me with an almighty hangover? Or that I am too scared to go to sleep at night due to the dread of the cycle repeating? What about my reservations to increase the dose of dexamphetamine due to insomnia?

Do you also remember the time you gave me a starter box that was one month out of date???

I feel sick to my stomach to have been sucked in by another incompetent hack, who has little to no regard for the well-being of their patients.

When describing my previous history during my first appointment with you, the only thing I remember is you gloating how much you and your bank manager appreciate people in my position. What the fuck? Who says that to a patient?

You should be ashamed of yourself and god only help those still under your care and supervision. As disgusted as I am with myself for believing you were actually trying to help me, I thank you for giving me an opportunity to now find somebody who actually gives a shit.

Oh how I would love to sue your sorry butt. Lucky for you I am not the litigious type. There is a different type of pain that will catch you eventually.

Go fuck yourself, and do take note: Karma will come knocking!

Who am I and how did I end up here?

Another night has gone by. The dread of going another day is overwhelming. I feel tired. I ask myself how did it come to be like this. Welcome to another day in paradise.

Throughout my twenties, I knew something wasn’t right. It was more than depression. If I were to succeed at – insert future goal here – then everything would be fine. I think I got there for a brief period when I turned the tables on being diagnosed with Bipolar. If you can’t beat em, join em, so I became a nurse. A psych nurse. My outlook was more realistic this time. Life would still be a challenge, but perhaps there is an opportunity for some balance. Wrong again. Politics and negative culture started to take its toll. I began to sink. Moving to another city gave me hope. But I never recovered. My world was dark, when literally, things were supposed to be sunny. The damage was done and it was time to cash in my chips.

The mission failed, but new opportunity brought renewed hope. A chance to come home again. Be close to my best friend. Get involved with a creative line of work. There was nothing more to prove.

How could this have also gone so painfully wrong? How did everything become so dark again?

Six years after being diagnosed, my hands are up in the air. I’m screaming out “Why?” And “How?”.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow. Mid-thirties and on disability. No network of friends. No supportive family. No partner. No kids. No career.

How did I get to the point were life was so dark, meaningless and empty? How do I pull myself out from this abyss? Is this my destiny?

Will I get another chance at finding love? Will I ever be able to hold down employment? Will I be able to trust people again?

I know that fear holds me back. I know that I choose to remain in the dark. It’s safer. Anything that I have tried to achieve and sustain has always backfired. Even when I thought, “this is my passion”. “This is where I belong in life”.

It’s not all supposed to revolve around having a Mental Illness. There should be things to off-set that. Instead I am highly consumed by the things that are. Tortured by the things that were. I need a purpose. Some kind of direction. There is more to do, but self-confidence doesn’t support aspiration.

This is where self-pity turns into inner rage. I didn’t ask for any of this. Why did my family fail to protect me when it mattered most. Not just on one occasion, but multiple times. I inherited this illness and for 29 years, the person I was and the life that I lived was a complete lie. More than six years after finding out the truth, the damage has been done. I may have some answers now, but I am screaming on this inside. My innocence lies in a state of ruin. My strengths have been taken away without my consent. My weaknesses have become front and center of my existence. I have been stripped down naked and exposed for all the world to see.

This is bullshit of the highest quality and I would appreciate a full refund or exchange.

 

R U OK?

In Australia today, it is ‘R U OK?’ Day. According to it’s website (ruokday.com), R U OK? Day “is a national day of action dedicated to inspiring all people of all backgrounds to regularly ask each other ‘Are you ok?’

It’s a great initiative and before I continue, I would like to ask you, Are you ok?

The website also states: “By raising awareness about the importance of connection and providing resources throughout the year, the R U OK? Foundation aims to prevent isolation by empowering people to support each other through life’s ups and downs

Again, a wonderful idea. But I have to ask, why does it take awareness campaigns to do the things that ‘should’ be part of everyday life?

And although this day of awareness extends beyond those with a clinically diagnosed illness, I can’t help but especially think of those of us that do suffer with mental illness EVERY DAY!

I will come back to the issue of mental illness though.

On this day, I ask myself, who would this question be applicable to. Who would benefit from the words ‘R U OK?’

Maybe those who are having a tough time at work. Your relationship with your partner is having some difficulties. Perhaps you are struggling as a single parent, or you haven’t been able to get a good night’s sleep for weeks, even months.

Again, I ask the question, who would benefit from being asked such a simple question.

The simple answer is: anyone and everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or what level of difficulty you are experiencing in life, everybody can benefit from this simple and reassuring question.

It’s all well and good to preach the obvious, but I am just as guilty when it comes to being ignorant and lazy. There are at least three people I can think of that I could call and ask this simple question. The fact is though that I haven’t. I remain too caught up in my isolated existence that I don’t think of others the way that I probably should. Depression can be so selfish in that regard.

For those of us living with mental illness, it is highly important to be connected in one way or another. As an example, for me it is writing this blog as a form of therapy. I also make use of an online forum. Others see a therapist etc. In today’s world, there are so many ways for us NOT to be completely isolated and feel like nobody understands.

The sad reality is that despite having ‘links’ to people who can relate, loneliness can still be ever so brutal.

With complete respect to the fact that others do not live a perfect existence and have problems like the rest of us, I am envious of those who have support networks. Friends who are supportive, understand and do not judge. People who have wives and husbands. People who are able to experience the joy of raising a family. People who are connected in the community.

So am I okay? Honestly, not really, however I am surviving and remain grateful for the things that I have.

How about you? Once more, I ask the question: Are you okay?

Remembering September 11th

It’s hard to believe that 11 years has passed. Every year it feels like it was just yesterday when the world watched in horror as the United States suffered it’s worst act of terrorism on home soil. As a write this, I am listening to coverage of the memorial service from ground zero. I always feel a profound sense of sadness on this day. I have never visited America, yet I feel such a strong connection, particularly with the city of New York. Every year I watch the memorial service as a show of respect for the victims and their families.

This always prompts the questions about where you were and what you were doing on September 11th, 2001.

In Australia on that fateful day, it was around 10:30pm. My fiance and I were living with her parents at the time. I had just climbed into bed, when her mother told us to turn the television on. I remember my fiance was already fast asleep, so I ventured back into the lounge room. The pictures were of the blazing north tower. I could not believe what was unfolding. It was literally like we were watching a movie. We saw the 2nd plane hit the south tower. We watched in horror and disbelief as both towers collapsed. We saw vision of black smoke coming out of the Pentagon. We heard reports of a fourth plane that eventually crashed in Pennsylvania.

Over the years I have seen many of the documentaries that have surfaced about the 911 tragedies. From Flights 11 and 175 that hit the world trade center, through to Flights 77 and 93, the stories that have emerged in the aftermath are both powerful and moving.

What affects me the most are the widows/widowers and the children that would never know their father or mother. I think of the brave members of the New York Fire and Police Department’s. I marvel at the selfless actions of those on Flight 93 that fought to prevent this plane from hitting another potential target. I also reflect on the bravery of those at the Pentagon who risked their lives to save others.

As tragic as 911 was, I feel that much of the world becomes united on this day. It puts into perspective how precious life actually is. That our family and friends are to be treasured.

It saddens me that 11 years on, stories have emerged of those who worked at ground zero in the aftermath of the attacks, are now battling cancer. I also find it frustrating that the war in Afghanistan continues. Though on a day that should be reserved for reflection, I deem it inappropriate to discuss the politics of war.

There are so many stories that are attached to this day. Every year something new and different is revealed. The story in 2012 that I found both horrific and fascinating, is the note that came from the 84th floor of one of the towers. The Huffington Post reports that the note was penned by 911 victim Randy Scott. And this was confirmed by a DNA test, using blood found on the note. The reason this is so horrific is that for 10 years, Randy’s wife Denise, had assumed that her husband died instantly. To have confirmation of change in events, 10 years later, is almost incomprehensible.

There are so many stories, Many of which, I suspect have never been told.

To the victims and their families, my thoughts and prayers will forever be with you. Even from the other side of the world, you will always share a place in my broken heart.

On a day where the world is touched and united by a deep and senseless tragedy, my closing thought is:

God Bless America!

Breaking News: I’m totally fucked up!

This year has been a revelation and here it is in a nutshell: I’m fucked up and basically beyond repair!  “Join the queue” I might hear you say.

It hasn’t been the darkest year, but it definitely rates in the top 5. The saving grace as far as 2012 goes, is that I have my own place. The positive here is that there is less pressure as far as managing symptoms are concerned. I feel as if my dignity is preserved. I can move freely without the fear of disturbing anybody else. The solitude is comforting. On the flip side, it is also painfully isolating. Given a choice however, right now, I’ll take the solitude.

Having this time and space has provided an opportunity to reflect. For the first time since my diagnosis in 2006, I have been able to look back on the past six years and analyze thing that have happened post-diagnosis. I have also been able to compare things on a pre and post diagnosis level.

Too much time to think? Absolutely. But reflection is a necessary part of moving forward in my opinion. What has worked? What hasn’t? How much responsibility falls into the Bipolar category? How much responsibility fall’s on my own shoulders? What sort of say does my personality have?

All of these variables add up to the overall picture and when all has been laid out to bear, I simply do not like what I see.

For now, the cue is in the proverbial rack. The “Closed for Business” sign is up. I am tired. Making an effort seems frivolous. The four walls will keep me safe and the rest of the world can leave me the fuck alone.

This high level of fragility is frightening. Fear is a dominating force. Aside from daily band-aid fixes such as distraction, nothing can take this pain away. Nothing can repair the damage that has been done. Go for a walk – Check. See a therapist – Check. Trust in God – Check. Despite my best efforts, I feel lonely and empty.

Some days it feels like all there is to do, is to wait until I die. All things considered, I’ve had a reasonably good life, been on some adventures, met people from different walks of life and had a taste of the ‘good life’. I’ve lived. There is little more to do.

But hang on for just one minute – I’m only 35! Surely, there is more to do.

What about traveling overseas. Falling in love again. Having a child. Well, as much as I would love to indulge these ideas, the reality is that I have an illness. It’s not just the fact that I have Bipolar. My psychiatrist recently confirmed that I have complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I suspected as much. From childhood, to adolescence, to early adulthood, through to being a mature adult (whatever that means), the sum of all of the above is that I’m completely fucked up and in my heart of hearts, this situation is beyond repair.

There is one major goal that keeps me going. Getting a bachelor’s degree. After all that’s happened in my life, it pisses me off that this is on my ‘to do’ list when everyone around me is getting married, buying a house and having kids. As far as I’m concerned, this should have been done 10-15  years ago. But no use in dwelling in what should have been. Instead, I will accept things just the way they are. I might be fucked up, but that doesn’t mean I’m not prepared to have another roll of the dice.  I’ll finish this post by using my favorite line of all time:

It is what is!

Until next time,

Peace!

PS. Please feel free to leave a comment. I have been thrilled to see some views and receive some likes. I would be very humbled to receive your comments and feedback.

Meds Suck!

I have spent a fair chunk of this year trying to get my medication cocktail right. It’s been draining to say the least.

Added to the mix was the recent diagnosis of ADHD. I have also been slowly tapering off an anti-depressant.

The end result, as things presently stand, is that my day consists of two very different halves. One is waking from a deep sleep which can last from 10-12 hours. The other is one of calm and focus thanks to the ADD medication. It’s weird territory to be in. On one hand I can barely drag myself out of bed because of residual effects from last night’s medications. On the other hand, I resent going to bed because of the sheer dread of the repeating cycle.

Throw in the odd panic attack (mainly when I first wake up), feeling restless and/or racing thoughts (mainly during the evening), life with Bipolar is far from convenient.

I dread to think that if I was still employed, how could I possibly survive in the long term. I think the medications work, but they are not practical in terms of supporting a “normal” existence. There is a deep resentment that this illness has robbed me of so much and continues to do so.

Most of the things that I crave seem out of reach. Sustaining employment, having a relationship, raising a child, attending social gatherings (social anxiety is a separate issue and probably deserves it’s own post, so I’ll just leave that one there for now). Limiting stress is a big part of the Bipolar equation. Unfortunately for me, this results in complete avoidance. I only go out when I have to. I dare not look for work for the fear of a repeated episode. I dare not seek a relationship as I barely have anything to offer, both financially and physically. I get overwhelmed interacting with groups of people. The end result is isolation and as painful as that may be, it’s better than putting myself and others through any unnecessary grief.

Medications are both friend and enemy. I’m not quite sure which one outweighs the other.

Until next time,

Peace!

Testing? Hello? Is this thing ON?

So I am a “Blogger” now? Wow! (Sarcasm Intended)

Now would be a be a good time to disclose that I am sarcastic at times. I also like the use of profanity. So if you’re offended by either, well, I don’t really give a shit!

So why am I blogging? Will anybody read what I have to say? Will anybody care? Again, I don’t really give a shit. Or do I?

My favorite show at the moment is “The Big C”, starring Laura Linney and Oliver Platt.

*SPOILER ALERT*

In the mind blowing closing scene of the Season 2 finale, we are led to believe that Paul (played by Oliver Platt), dies of a heart attack. At the beginning of Season 3, we are able to rejoice in the fact that Paul is, in fact alive! It is later revealed that Paul died for approximately 3 minutes. His near death experience prompts him to share this experience with the rest of the world via an online blog. Paul’s sheer joy at being able to connect with others was hard for me to ignore.

Over the past few months I have had this nagging urge to write. But write what exactly? I’ve never done a writing course so could I write something that would be considered even remotely coherent. Self doubt nags me as I write this sentence. So I resort back to my motto in life.

“Keep it Simple Stupid! – K.I.S.S. for short – just in case you haven’t heard of this one yet.

So what are the rules then? There aren’t any. I will write what I want and when I want. That’s simple enough.

I’ll consider this an introduction blog. This is who I am, what I’m doing, and if you do not like it, then move along.

Nothing about Bipolar? Not yet. There is plenty of time for that. For now, I can feel my brain starting to slow down. Time to sign off.

Until next time,

Peace!