Life update #6

There’s a couple things I’ve mentioned in previous post that I have updates on!

  1. The Dr who stopped my diazepam (Valium) has been told by the consultant to go much much slower when weaning me off it. They’re currently taking it down a mg every 2 weeks, which is what I tried to tell her to do. Anyway, that’s all sorted, thank you all for your support whilst I ranted about it.
  2. I was stressed at one point because I hadn’t seen my diagnosis written down, but the Dr here has my notes and when I asked for some clarity, he said: ‘you’ve been given a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and Schizoaffective disorder’ (which basically boils down to SZA-BP type). It must be in my notes because I haven’t seen him for over a year. He was great about it and even said if I want more clarity then he can talk to me more about my diagnosis and see if we can work out together what fits me best – which is such a kind and great approach. So that’s calmed me down also.

Updates on the mental health unit I’m at:
I will have been here a week tomorrow. Although I’m really struggling to settle in, it’s pretty amazing here. The Occupational therapists are really hands on. Mine drew me up a really great care plan and another helped me cook brunch one day. You also get a named nurse who do 1-to-1s with you. Mine’s alright, nothing wrong with him but maybe a little lacklustre! The rest of the staff are great. There’s a walk in the park available every morning, 2 groups a day which can range from anxiety management, life skills, music, creativity, brain training to self esteem and stress busters. There’s a cooking group nearly every day with different things on different days like soups and smoothies on a Monday and baking on a Tuesday etc. Every day there’s also a relaxation group but I’ve not been – I have nervous energy and bounce my legs constantly which irritates people trying to relax and makes me anxious enough to not be able to relax. The weekends are very quiet. One member of staff told me if you’re working towards your recovery all week, you should get the weekends off. Which is fair enough and most people are on leave anyway.

So yeah, I’m struggling to settle but the place itself can’t be faulted, it’s much better than an acute ward with no therapies whatsoever and boredom everyday!

Medication Monday: Melatonin

What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural hormone your body makes that helps you fall asleep. In some people, this is not produced enough or, due to insomnia, they need some help to go to sleep. Sometimes it is used for a sleep condition called ‘delayed sleep-phase disorder’ whereby someone has later sleep patterns than others e.g naturally going to sleep and waking up much later than is typical. Melatonin (in the UK) is licensed for use in children and those over 55. It can be hard, therefore, for young adults to be prescribed it but it is sometimes used “off-label” for sleep.

My experience with Melatonin
I was initially give melatonin as a a child, so it being prescribed wasn’t an issue. I was under the child and adolescent mental health service in my county at the time and the psychiatrist there thought it would be useful in tackling my long-standing sleep issues. It is relevant to note here that I have ASD and autistic people often have trouble sleeping! So did it work? Eh, a bit. I can’t say it worked really well but it might have been somewhat useful in getting me to fall asleep quicker. It’s come in more helpful when prescribed as an adult. I don’t actually remember who gave me it, which suggests I was in hospital? I also don’t remember when they doubled the dose, but I find it much more helpful for sleep at this age and this dose, although it’s hard to tell as I always take a benzodiazepine at night also. I still take it nightly and haven’t be tempted to skip a dose so hopefully it’s doing some good, I’d certainly prefer it to other medications used for sleep that are less natural and have more side effects, such as antipsychotics, (more) benzodiazepines and hypnotics.

I’m quite happy to take my Melatonin at night and drs have never issued any warning against it so I feel comfortable doing so! Has anyone else been on Melatonin? Was it helpful? I’d like to know because I’m not 100% sure myself!

Book Review: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

I thought I’d start writing review for books I’ve read that have a focus on mental illness. First up is Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher, a well known sufferer of bipolar disorder.

I love Carrie Fisher, and I’m all for the way she so candidly talks about mental illness but the book itself was kind of disjointed. Maybe in a way that’s fitting, considering the subject matter, or maybe it was the way Carrie wrote as if transcribing from one big monologue, complete with numerous digressions. Later on in the book, she mentions that she’ll now remember her one-woman show because she’s ‘written it down’ and then everything made a lot more sense. This is sort of a written down memoir-based comedy set. It was definitely funny in parts but I think would be a lot more so if performed/spoken aloud.

Despite this, it did have several great quotes, one of them being from the author’s note:

At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
3 out of 5 stars