Thursday, 17 February 2011

Acupuncture And The Joy Of Temporally Being An Arts Student...

Hi :)
So when I turned my computer on I really didn’t intend to do this. I was going to watch some telly then go to bed. But when I checked my blog I realised that the site I use for my background – – had changed their server so my backdrop was all white. Naturally I went on a bit of a design spree and this is the finished result. Slightly more mellow than the last background. I hope you like it.
So, a quick update on my life:
The Illness
Sounds quite ominous, doesn’t it? And reading my last post back I realised that it sounds like I’m about to jump off a cliff, or slit my wrists. I’m not. I’m actually feeling a lot better. It may be something to do with the increased dose of anti-depressants I’m taking, or it may just be that I’m getting well by myself again. I’ve had a few bad day but they’ve been more like regular-people bad days, as opposed to ridiculously down bad-days. I have been spending a lot of time in Starbucks (their caramel lattes and toffee-nut lattes taste SO good, not like coffee at all) but it’s nice to have something to look forward to.
Actually I’ve just got back from a meal with my Personal Mentor Group, or my medic family. Turns out that one other person was diagnosed with depression last year. I already know about a first year who’s going through a similar thing. And some of the older years were talking about break-downs they’ve had. During her third year one girl came home, locked her door, closed her curtains and lay down on her bed and cried for 6 hours. It was comforting realising that you’re not the only one. Everyone goes through something similar; some people’s experiences are worse than others. But I feel less guilty now than I did before.
I’ve been seeing someone from the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust who’s been really helpful. She seems to understand more about what I’ve been going through than the counsellor I’ve been seeing who made me cry after my last two appointments. Naturally I’m not seeing her anymore. But this new lady, let’s call her D, offered me auricular acupuncture. In other words she offered to stick needles in my ears. I’ve always been doubtful that acupuncture works, even though my cousin does it for a living. But I’ve heard success stories too. D said that it would make me feel more relaxed. It didn’t, but you are meant to have three/four sessions in total so that might change. It was weird though. It hurts when they put the needles in, the same way injections hurt. Then you know that they’re there but you can almost forget their presence. After that I sat for 30 minutes “relaxing” which basically involved me almost falling asleep and getting really fascinated by the different colours I could see in front of my eyes. I really wish I had a picture though – I think I must have looked a bit like a hedgehog, or like I had some sort of odd fungal disease.

This isn't me btw.

I also have an appointment with a psychiatrist (who’s going to be one of my teachers at some point) at the mental health hospital in March. It makes it seem so much more serious when I think about it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Literature in Medicine
This past week has been amazing. It’s been great being an art student and talking about books instead of pRB and p53 and the corticospinal tract and the HPG axis. It is tiring though, just in a different way. One girl said that it’s annoying having to talk so much, which is true. As a medical student you sit in lectures for 4/5/6 hours a day and are talked at. The lecturer’s views and opinions, and stories even, become your own. But when you’re an arts student you have to have discussions in classes and have your own opinions.
It’s been great though. It feels good just to be able to read and not feel guilty about it. We had to find a poem about an illness to talk about in class and, naturally, I was trying to find one about depression. I found a book in the main library called “Beyond Bedlam: Poems written out of mental distress.” I sat in the anthropology part of the library for just over an hour and read it from cover to cover. Bliss.
We find out more about the essay we have to write tomorrow. By the sounds of it it’s going to be like English Lit again but I actually don’t mind. I’m looking forward to it. Not so much the presentation part of the module though. We have to choose another poem and do a short presentation then lead a discussion on it. Seems more like they’re examining our teaching skills as opposed to presenting skills.
My group’s really nice though. And I’ve been making an effort and speaking out so it all seems good.

Save the worst till last. We had four exams in January. The pass mark is 50%. I got 80% in Health Services, 73% in Immunology, 52% in Renal and 44% in Cardiovascular. That’s the first exam I’ve ever failed. But you know what, I’m not too fussed. It’s odd really. It didn’t have the effect I thought it would have. Obviously I am upset, I couldn’t be me and not be upset, but considering all I’ve been through in the past 4/5 months the results could have been so much worse. I mean 73% in Immunology! I didn’t even think I would pass. And I have an opportunity to pull them all up in June when we sit the other 60% of the modules. Maybe I’ll get the marks I need to intercalate.
Failing also seemed to be a turning point. It wasn’t a wake-up call as such but it was a case of “come on girl, pull yourself together. This isn’t like you. Buck up, straighten up and make it all better”. And I have been. Generally. At least I’m doing work outside of lectures now.

Other News
I’m not entirely sure if this is good news or not. My stepmother’s pregnant. I’m happy, but also jealous, and confused, and frustrated. And as I’m aware than I’m actually in a good mood at the moment, and due to the fact I’ve just noticed that I’ve written over 1000 words already, I’m going to leave this and talk about it another day.

Speak soon.
Toodles :)

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Coming out...

So I’m writing this on Microsoft Word on the fourth of February. I’m not entirely sure if I’m going to post it or not. A month or so ago, after being filmed by a house-mate eating fish fingers and custard, I was all for coming out and telling you who I was, where I was from, when I was born. Everything. It was slightly self-centred but I thought that if people knew who I was, word would get round and more people would read what I have to say.
But last term something happened. And I haven’t really told you. I’ve eluded to it and, for those of you who follow my twitter feed, I’ve posted some little titbits that relate to it. But I haven’t actually said it out loud. Yet if I told you my name I wouldn’t tell you my secret. Because I don’t want people to know. A few people, yes. Select people. Those close to me, those who care about me. But not everyone. Because it’s like cancer, or any other chronic or stigmatising illness. People treat you differently. They try not to but they look at you funny. They tiptoe around you. They’re careful about what they say, or don’t say, or how they act. Sometimes that’s great, especially because they make it easier to get better. But you become associated with your illness. You become the illness. It’s like we get taught at medical school – are you a diabetic or a person with diabetes? How much do you want to be defined by your health?
I’m going through stages. Sometimes I want to shout it to the world because then people will be nicer, or stop being so whiney and I’ll find it easier to get well. But other times, most of the time, I want it to be the other way round. The world can’t constantly change to fit around you. You have to fit into the world. You can’t send out a memo before you go anywhere warning or informing people that you have breast cancer or bipolar disorder. If you hold onto the disease and use it to mould yourself then you won’t get better. Perhaps. It works both ways. Obviously you have to accept that you’re ill. But you also need to acknowledge that you can get better.
I’m going round in circles.
But this blog was set up so I would have somewhere to vent. So I could talk about what was wrong. So I could rant. So I could tell all the dirty little secrets that I otherwise carry around with me. Or something to that extent. And I want to tell you. I want advice, and help, and, dare I say it, sympathy. I want someone, somewhere to know, so I can be myself sometimes. So I can scream my upset to the world instead of smiling, putting on a brave face and answering “I’m fine” whilst people complain about their bad backs or other things. Other people’s problems are important, and I don’t want to seem callous and mean but at the moment the fact that I’m comforting other people when I want to be comforted is driving me crazy. It’s selfish, I know. But maybe I need this. Maybe the reason I feel this way is because I’ve been too strong for too long.

On the 19th November 2010 I was diagnosed with clinical depression. On the 20th November I started taking anti-depressants. I’m getting there. It’s a steep cliff but I’m getting there. To paraphrase Doctor Who and Steven Moffart – “I’m half-way out of the dark”. Hopefully. Inshallah.

There. I shouted it to the world.