Depression Quest

Depression Quest is an interactive fiction game where you play as someone living with depression. You are given a series of everyday life events and have to attempt to manage your illness, relationships, job, and possible treatment. This game aims to show other sufferers of depression that they are not alone in their feelings, and to illustrate to people who may not understand the illness the depths of what it can do to people.

Play it. Seriously. Do this. All you have to do is read and choose options. That’s all. You have the time – but do you really want to know more about this?

Changing the chemical diet

Drug serum levels are being done monthly now to check that the Li+ is within the Therapeutic Range (enough so it works, not so much that it becomes toxic). It’s tended to the low side of the .4 – 1.2 range but last test said .3
Phone rings – it’s the shrink. He asks J what meds I am on (he prescribed them…) and then he asks what the dose is (didn’t he decide that?). She tells him. He says it will have to go up. he rings later to talk to me. Despite the fact that he asked J, he asks me what the meds and dose are. Being the subservient in this relationship I rattle off the precise details. Increase by 100mg, and after next test probably by another 100mg. Checks I understand and off he goes. The drug amount is (and is not) a problem even though that dose made me really ill a couple of years ago. But I’ll agree because I’m the patient. It’s what I’m meant to do.
The drug I’m on stops the highs and lows (I’ll have mentioned this before I’m sure) so instead of riding the roller-coaster I’m floating on small gentle waves instead. That was indeed the idea and with the introduction of another different chemical that was achieved. So despite my levels being on the low side, and now dipping out of the range, he decides to chemically alter me again. This stuff is for my moods – so why not ask J? Why not say “You live with this man 24/7, you see him in every situation, you know him intimately, so how is he ?” Why does he not say that? He doesn’t because I’m someone to be controlled with meds – not listened to. I’m to be treated like the book says – not how maybe I need to be. I’m to be chemically controlled so he can say he is doing his bit. Want to know what J would have said? “He’s fine with the stresses we have, we do not need those increasing and I do not think the Li+ needs increasing. In fact it should be removed because the new medication has the effect needed and if the Li+ is below a therapeutic level then just withdraw that because it cannot be affecting him”.
That’s a bit different. But he’ll never hear that.
Maybe he doesn’t want to even contemplate that so he didn’t ask the question – because you should only ever ask a question if you can handle the answer – but given what he wants and what J really does think, what do I do? I believe J. My grip on reality increased with the new med rather than the Li+ though at the time it had the desired effect. The swinging factor is me – I take them or not and it’s me with the side-effect. It’s just the one. Psych always said it’s a GP problem, GP was noncommittal. Saw a different GP a few weeks ago – he said instantly that it was the Li+. It’s not a nice side effect (few are) so I’m sitting here debating what to do. Increase, stay static or reduce. The side effect wins. It’s going to drop by 100mg.

More Mental Health garbage

As reported on the BBC. My cynicism should be clear enough:

It urges a shift in focus from mental ill health to mental wellbeing, with services better geared to users’ needs.

Well, we’ve only had since the birth of the NHS to get things right. 50 years + just ain’t long enough

The report calls for people with severe mental health conditions to have their own budgets [You’ll trust us to allocate money ? “Okay, I’m depressed and I’ve decided that I want to spend my money on a psychiatrist in Jamaica.” “I’m as HIGH as a kite – and I think I’ll be better once I’ve cured the world. So I’ll have some dental work so I too can flash a toothy smug bastard grin like Tom ‘flashing that pearly white panacea’ Cruise”. Somehow, and maybe I’m pushing it a bit here, I can’t see those ideas being entertained. Which makes a complete nonsense of saying people can have budgets because you can’t give a budget then restrict. but it makes for good PR eh ?] or for the services they want [want is a VERY big word. What you really mean is “You can want all you like but this is all you’ve got so tough damn luck] including alternatives to hospital [like where ?].

Talking therapies, said the report, should be available as a matter of routine when people need them [who decides that then ?], along with advice on staying in work [Must pay your taxes!] and maintaining an ordinary life [Ssshhhhh, don’t let on to the neighbours….]

People with mental health problems should also be offered an “associate” to help them manage their lives. [You WILL conform whether you like it or not.]

“It is only by adopting this kind of holistic approach that all those involved in improving the mental wellbeing of the whole population will be able to achieve that goal.” : Holistic
I f*cking HATE ANY health care place using that bloody word.
It means:
1. Of or relating to holism.
2. 1. Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts.
2. 2. Concerned with wholes rather than analysis or separation into parts: holistic medicine; holistic ecology.

Whole. See that word ? WHOLE. Means complete, all of, total. It means everything.

“Hi, my name is Bob. I’ve been married to my wife for 10 years and for 9 years and 11 months of that we have not had sex. I am very very depressed because of this”
“Well Bob – may I call you Bob ? – I’m afraid that there is nothing whatsoever at all on this entire planet that we can do for you, but I have some wonderful tablets here that will lift your depression and also render you impotent so that’ll be two hits for the price of one. Bargain.”

Go into a hospital. Any hospital. In fact, find a nurse, any nurse. Ask them how many care plans they have written for the sexual needs of their clients. I’ll tell you the answer. None. If you are ill – with anything at all, even mental health problems – then you are not a sexual being. You become asexual. No needs whatsever. This is despite Maslow’s theory placing sex at the base of his pyramid of needs. If your partner is a nurse, ask them how many times you’d be allowed to have sex if you were in hospital for say …. 6 months. Ask them if there would be a care plan. And before you start on about the fact that the NHS shouldn’t be catering for ‘needs of the flesh’ – it’s also an important element of intimacy – and that has many tendrils into mental well-being.

“You tell me I’m mad ? And you say I’ve got this budget to spend ? Wow. So I can buy the services I want ? Cooool. Here’s some numbers of some girls who just do not say No. ‘nudge nudge. Give them a ring why don’t you….” Try that one ….

“We have seen record increases in investment and staffing, we now have over 700 specialised community mental health teams and we have the lowest suicide rate since records began,” she said.

That’s because they are locking people up, filling them with meds, zombiefying (Is that a word ? I’ve used it twice recently) them into some sort of limbo existence. Since when is death a measure of mental health care ? Why should it be ? What next – league tables for shrinks ?

The values behind such a thing may well be good, and the beliefs of those in the centres involed may be sound, but they make f*cking useless press statements.

Ill. Again.

I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t use illicit drugs. So why do I wake up feeling like utter crap ? Feel sick, pounding headaches, shakes, stomach pain. Medication. That’s what it will be. Somewhere in the last day or two I’ll have not taken in enough fluids or electrolytes and the body just goes haywire. The clue is salt – at times like this I know salt will make me better. Salt on everything. Salt in coke even. (It works!) Gah.. a day when I’ll not be in front of this. I should be glad it’s a sunday, but seeing as what I did yesterday is being junked the workpile stays just as high. Crapsticks. Manic and feeling great, or sane and feeling ill … feh, like I’ve the choice.

Imbalanced heat

Horrible day. The heat over the last few days finally knocked my fluid balance far enough that some of the nasty Li+ side effects kicked in. Of course trying to compensate by taking more fluids and salt didn’t help as I probably threw it the wrong way again so I’ve felt like death all day and I’m seeing side-effects too which I thought I’d passed…. not fun at all. I want to move to Norway.

The new Mental Health Act

Here’s a gem:

patients should never be treated under compulsion unless their decision making was impaired and the treatment was of therapeutic benefit.

So someone is being assessed for a mental health problem. As soon as you look at someone and you are aware that they may have a problem, you start to read things into their behaviour which may not actually exist. Just because someone says “He’s mad” is no reason to believe them is it ? Look again at that statement – all it takes is a professional to say “Yeah .. he’s not thinking straight and I’m sure <insert phrase> will help” and that person is locked up. What precisely is an impaired decision ? getting a tattoo ? Having ‘one for the road’ ? Wanting to die ? Wanting to kill ? Remember this is not a 2+2 situation – it is an interpretation by someone of another. This law will have huge ramifications and it needs to be written to support the professional AND to protect the person who is being scrutinised. Mental Health treatment has one doorway – IN. There must be a very compelling reason to push someone through that door. Right now this is just a ‘sweep them in, lock them up’ law. The way this is worded right now is terrible – and compulsive treatment ? You MUST have the tablets, you MUST have the injection, you MUST do whatever you are told – and just because someone came to you one night when things could have been a bit rough ? Bear in mind as well that the only person who can determine the therapeutic benefit of any treatment of any sort is the person on the receiving end. So the medics say it’s good and the patient disagrees. The medics say that the patient must still be mad because they can’t see the positive side, so let’s prescribe more treatment. This is a lose-lose no matter which way you want to look at it.
Rethink | Sainsbury Centre

To meet or not

I found the contact info for the local (county) Bipolar support group earlier. My first thought was “Great!” but then almost straight away I began wondering what on earth I would or could get out of it.
My bipolar is very different from anyone else’s when it comes down to practical day-to-day effects. How I function on a daily / weekly / cyclical basis is understood some by J, less by me and even less by the psych and I can’t see how talking to others can help. Thing is, when I’m down I wouldn’t go, when I’m up I’d be far too busy and the times inbetween are so fleeting they can’t be used. (So when do others go ??). It’s quite – in my case – an isolating thing too. Meds don’t help totally but flashes of lucidity combined with a general awareness of how I could be presenting to others makes any situation involving others potentially stressful – and we all avoid stress where possible don’t we ? Also there is the thought that I don’t want to sit around surrounded by people who are either high or low. (Been around someone who is genuinely manic ? Scary. Very very funny, but very unsettling. Having been one and been next to one, I know). How can what I think or my situation be changed by discussing it – it can’t, No-one can tell me how to cope, what to do – aren’t we all creatures of habit ? – or even what meds are good. So I just do not see the point in going. I wonder who goes ? Why ? What they get from it ? What their motivation is ? I suppose pointers to help is one reason but anything else ? Not a clue.. I could go to find out, but I won’t. I have nothing to offer, nothing to gain. That’s not a bad thought or a down thought just a reasoned response.
Got to say though that whoever runs these things just has to be applauded. It must take some grind to get things going and then keep up the meetings, the support and what must be the inevitable emotional commitment. That last bit is …. scary. It’s scary because when you support someone emotionally you drain yourself and there’s only so much of you to go round. I’ve imploded before so maybe not wanting to get involved is an emotional response, a protective one too ? Lithium++

16 days in June

On May 25 I saw the shrink. According to my way of thinking, that’s around 16 days ago. Then, I was told to reduce med#1 and go see my GP to get med#2 started. J rang the GP on Monday to make an appt but they’d not got any letter from the shrink.. monday being 11 days after the fact. So she rings the clinic and they promise to fax the letter. This was the letter that had not actually been written – it was still in a dictaphone. So.. the letter gets sent, surgery gets phoned, yes they’ve got it so appt made. I’ve just been. The letter is in the surgery, but as it has not been scanned into their system, and as the GP cannot put his hands on it because it’s “in the system”, he cannot prescribe the medication.
This means that 16 days after I’ve seen the shrink, I have – on his instruction – withdrawn from one med but, because (in part) of his delay I am not on another. Which I should be. Now I’m okay, I’m not about to run amok with a piercing needle but this – from experience – is the way psychiatric services completely fail the very people that should not. Of course, if I did commit some heinous crime they would move mountains to not blame the Trust I am ‘in’. Leicestershire’s MH services have been in a ton of crap far too many times – yet something like this still happens. It is not an isolated incident – it’s commonplace. So when you see the next news headline about someone going berserk (or whatever) (not that I am about to) it is a virtual certainty that the services made it happen due to their laxity. But then what does it matter ? Soon the govt will be locking people up just in case.