Sunday, 20 May 2018


Not 100% sure what I’m trying to get across here, little bit stream of conciousness I guess.  I think I’m just trying to underline all the reasons that with my BiPolar II that I doubt myself in many ways due to lots of different factors.  At the mens wellbeing group at NIS this week I talked about the Devil on my shoulder.
Im prone to occasionally doubting my diagnosis, devil on my shoulder making me think that Im maybe malingering, imagining things or just not trying hard enough to be well, whatever that really means.  I visualise my battle by talking about navigating my condition, like a ship on the seas,  through that tryng to live the best life I can with the BiPolar II condition that I have.  BUT I think its true to say that educating yourself helps to get to a more functional life, the more you know, the better you can fight, however there still are no silver bullets.
I have some doubts about medication as well, some books will look at different meds and treatment approaches but ultimately I want to trust my GP and Mental Health case worker to be taking the right decisions on medication and therapy for me, I don’t really want to second guess them so too much information can be worrying for me in that area.  I don’t want to be too unsure about my medication by having too much information.  My Mental Health case worker always asks me about medication changes with the vernacular ‘ how do you feel about that’ as a change so Im pretty comfortable with that relationship and manage to avoid most ‘health anxiety’ regards medication but not all. An area where I do have ‘health anxiety’ is with the weight gain that I have experienced in the last 18 months, I’ve read that the meds can cause this also the condition itself presents with this as well, I know I really need to attack my exercise regime and work against my lack of motivation in this area as well as I’m keen to try and correct my over eating, portion sizes of my meals.
I fear the unknown around my condition and can get quite het up if I have symptoms that I really don’t understand.  Its recently been brought to my attention that as well as hypomanic, depressive and anxietal episodes you can have manic/hypomanic and depressive symptoms at the same time, called a mixed episode.  This was something that I hadn’t really unpicked with my GP as I was very confused about a recent episode last year where I was going around at 100mph once up & about but was still finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning, I just thought maybe I was exhausted from the mania perhaps but the mixed episode explains it better. 
The information from Jim Phelps is really useful in understanding and looking at the spectrum of the BiPolar II condition and its symptoms.  I totally recognise the symptoms in table 2.1 and where my symptoms generally sit.

Hope this adds to peoples understanding of BiPolar II a little.


Friday, 16 March 2018

Funny not Ha Ha!

I was inspired to write this after reading someone else post on The Mighty mental health BLOG.  My experience being different to them.  
I had a wobble yesterday and I think it was because I f&*ked up taking my medications the previous evening as well as experienced some unsettling news, I felt blue and I felt vulnerable, as if my resilience and stability was under threat.  I would just like to try and get across that a medication regime can at times be hard to follow and missing Meds can pull the rug from under someone................ hope that makes sense.
I take medications for my bipolar disorder. These medications are taken to help me keep emotionally and mentally regulated and grounded in my life.  Due to the concoction of pills the best time for me to take my pills every day is about 4/5pm.  This is due to the sedative nature of some of my Meds.   Every day around 5pm I take my pills BUT sometimes especially if Im buzzing/manic I can forget to take my pills, until much later or not at all ( very rare ).  The problem is that the disorder itself is disruptive and can make a daily routine task difficult to always adopt.   If I don't take my pills or take them at a different time it really knocks me off my stride.   I use a pillbox in the kitchen by the mobile phone recharging as that seems to be a really good place as a reminder to me.
Every now and then, something happens and I miss my pills. This then means that I'm basically not optimal that evening and the next day, taking pills later affects sleep in a major way AND not taking them at all has an even more exreme affect on my next day.  Im not expecting sympathy because obviously if you are prescribed medicine then the expectation is that you will take them religiously in order to get the affect that is expected BUT hopefully this post will just help you understand that though there are peaks and troughs with any mental health disorder there can also be self inflcted minor hills and valleys as well.
I can get "funny" feelings when missing pills,   "funny" feelings are mostly the physical things and sensations that happen within me. These sensations usually come on between 3-7 hours after I have missed my daily dose of medication.  The sleep affecting stuff generally impacts the next day.
"Funny" feelings:
1. Sight gets a little cloudy
2. A sensation of dizziness at times.
3. Odd skin sensations.  Some of this can be the prickling anxiety that I forgot my Meds and took them later off schedule.
4. Clenched fists or other muscle tightness.
5. Digestive issues. Reflux etc, this one is very odd.
6. Tightness in the chest.
7. Sounds become far away or like waves in my ears.
8. Brain farts, I seem to become more forgetful, more randomly applied to my work
9. Just a feeling of not being "with it."
10. A sensation of separateness from what is happening currently.
So these "funny" feelings are not so funny and not all appear every time, so I make sure to get back on my regular medication routine as soon as I can.  This is I guess just another aspect of navigating your mental health that has to be factored into your life, really need to keep on top of medication regimes.


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Lonely this Christmas ..........

So, where to start, loneliness at christmas is a real issue and it's something that can go unnoticed as the majority of folks are enjoying team meals, family gatherings, social nights out, at this time there will always be some folks who are isolated, perhaps through age, perhaps through social awkwardness, perhaps for family disconnection or other reasons.
Though loneliness can affect all people, it has been suggested from studies that 1 in 3 25-34 year old men feel lonely during the christmas period.  Unmarried and Widowers are affected most and job security and attending christmas parties seem to be the main worries manifesting.  Research by the Priory Group seems to suggest that 25-34 year old males face loneliness, anxiety, other pressures during this busiest time of the year.
Loneliness and Worry can become overwhelming for all folks at Christmas and peoples main concerns seem to be Christmas parties, Finances, Work pressure, Worrying about the upcoming new year, Spending time with families.
However if we have time there are some things that the rest of us can do at Christmas in trying to help alleviate loneliness and worry for those that experience that at this time of year  ( Invite someone to a festive meal ( some people need an alternative to their own family ) , Invite someone on a winter walk , Encourage a friend to attend a festive gathering ( some people will go out of their way to avoid cultural social events ) ).  However we need to be sensitive in that we must not force people to jolly up, understanding them when engaging with them.  This Huffington Post article is very good ( and has a section on how to improve mental health at christmas ) and the YouTube video is something to meditate on …………..
Wishing you the best of the season and encouraging people to think outside their own bubbles this christmas.

Friday, 11 August 2017

first BLOG for ages ............ Good & Bad times

So apologies having blogged quite often during some real hard yards of my life I have negated to BLOG for about 6 months where things have gone from bad to actually a better place.  I want to update you all on my experiences of my BiPolar and navigating the illness at home and at work.   This is partly a reaction to an American lady posting recently on The Mighty about her BiPolar journey and so I may steal some stuff and hopefully end up with an interesting BLOG, I’ll let you judge that.
In 1990 I had my first mental health episode but it wasn’t until September 2015 that I was diagnosed with biPolar and the strategy with my ilnesses was over time shaped more to answer the questions that BiPolar asked and to help me with my condition.  To steal someone elses words …………….. When you realize you have a mental illness, I believe you learn to be more self-aware, to be vulnerable and strong.  I agree with this but I think an awful lot of navigation and learning happens and though you can end up Strong you still occasionally break however much you try not to.
When I was diagnosed with Cyclythymia prior to my BiPolar diagnosis I remember being terrified of telling my work colleagues about my Mental Health and thinking apart from with very close friends I would need to hide it all. I remember thinking they would judge me and disown me — I would become the weakling in the work force, too fragile to be effective. What I now realize is that I would gather tools that would help me cope with more than just my mental health, but with life in general and I saw a Ruby Wax documentary on Channel 4 where I decided I would be open and honest about my Mental Health in the work place, it was part of me and even when diagnosed with BiPolar I didn’t shy away from that. It hasn’t been the easiest process, not everybody listens but ultimately I have found my Aviva colleagues supportive and willing to try and understand.  I have to also say that my Managers have in the main been very supportive.
Below I use someone elses words with a few alterations to make it me that I think detail the differences between Mania & Depression really well, Im a Depressive with occasional Mania, not someone who is Manic lots of the time …… I find the Mania quite refreshing sometimes as it breaks my low mood.
Before I understood my bipolar diagnosis, I just thought that mania was the creative, determined, hardworking, albeit irritable me and that the depression that came after was the sad, tired me. Depression, I understood. All too well. We are reluctant friends who do not like each other, yet find comfort in our quiet. Mania – well, she was new.
Mania comes in, kicks the door down and says, “I want all your attention” But after a while everyone around gets tired of Mania. Mania wants to work all day, fast, wants to plan projects and jobs without thinking it through. Mania wants to write poetry at 11 p.m. When everyone is sleeping, Mania wants to listen to music – loud. Mania says, “Don’t go to sleep, you’ll miss out on all the fun.” Mania thinks three hours of sleep is sufficient. Mania talks back to people and snaps at strangers and friends. Mania says no one else does anything as good as me so I must do everything for everybody. Mania says I’m witty. Mania says I tell the best stories and that I really can do strange things  in the backgarden at 10 p.m., when I really know nothing about them. Mania says I’m fat and that I need to do something about it right now. Mania wants to talk to strangers and make new friends. Mania wants to paint the house at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday. Mania tells me that the people I love are in my way and that I don’t need them as much as I really do. Mania tells me I don’t have to talk to my partner about decisions and says my partner is probably better off alone. Mania says I don’t have to answer to anyone. Mania tells me to buy buy buy comic books off ebay, just don’t tell anyone how many. Mania likes me, maybe even loves me…. until she doesn’t. 
Then Depression decides to move in, carrying more luggage than necessary to do the job. Depression is like an old coat that no one likes. Wooly. Scratchy. Ugly. Smelly. Sad. Depression always overstays its visit. Depression is constantly unpacking baggage. Depression tells me I’m tired, sad and lonely. Depression sulks and cries for no reason. Depression tell me I’m worthless and that I haven’t lived up to my potential so just give up, you cant do that day job anymore, its beyond you. Depression tells me that no one likes me. Depression tells me I’m fat and my face is looking old and nothing I do can help. Depression says not to smile or laugh. Depression tells me it is better to stay in bed. Depression tells me I’m a bad Dad to my children. Depression says I have ruined them. Depression wants to be in the dark, keep the shades closed. Depression cries with me and sometimes I can even find comfort in Depression.  Depression makes me selfish and inward looking.”

Hope that makes sense to someone and perhaps helps.
The key thing is that in the last 18 months I have felt the above way about Mania and Depression and work, family etc but for 4-5 months now I have been in a really good place most of the time though Im still navigating my BiPolar day to day and I’ve felt that it has been a bridge to people as I have been able to speak about it within Aviva to my colleagues, People Managers and even one session with our Life CIO and I’m glad that I have been able to perhaps help a few people with their Wellbeing.
Tony x

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Absurd Words

The below poem came from reading the Stephen Fry book 'The ode less travelled' which wonderful though it is, makes the art of poetry more complicated than I need it to be, for me its free form and free flowing and creative without stress, its carthartic and needs to stay that way, hence I object to the rules ;)

Poem: Absurd Words

If I worry about the meter 
Of my poetry I will peter
If I worry about the stressed
And syllables unstressed
I will Shout
If we talk of an Apple its an AP-ple
If we talk of Fantastic then its Fan-TAS-tic
To be ruled by these rules feels drastic
No doubt Shakespeare would think me a prick!

No LONger MOURN for ME when I am DEAD
Is Iambic foot , please shoot me in the head
Iambic rhythm exists too
Though I’m at a loss to explain to you
That’s hows it goes madam and sirrah!

Heres a sentence written in Iambic meter
As WITH paul AS with PETE
Reverse iambic uses different words
An AP-ple FOR our Fa-ther would be heard

I have no idea what Im doing
I guess you guessed that’s my undoing !!!!


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Happy Christmas .... War isn't Over !

So this is Christmas, and what have you done? 

  ....... this is probably a messy blog but bear with it .......

Another year nearly over.  Well this year as part of the western world we have managed to vote to leave the EU and our American cousins have voted Donald Trump as the President of the disUnited States of America.  Twice this year I have gone to bed thinking we’ll get a certain outcome only to see that the next morning the opposite outcome has occurred.  I do feel that both of these situations feel very narrowing to me, it feels blinkered to think that we are stronger outside the EU than as part of it.  The EU for all its faults did to me offer something other than just an Economic Area, it also seemed to offer a common agenda around Human Rights and Fairness.  Perhaps I’ve got rose tinted specs but I just can’t see our Brexit alternative as being something that we benefit from in the long run.  I don’t buy ‘getting our country back’.

I’ve not really done that much for the benefit of others this year, it’s been quite a selfish year in some senses apart from looking after Parents to some degree, as I have had to focus on navigating my BiPolar to try and stay at work, which I have managed though with different degrees of performance dependant on how the Mania, Anxiety and Mood have been. Its been a relatively good end to the year though and I have been able to say that since the end of October I have been on a good run where my mood has been good and this has meant being able to deal with Mania and Anxiety when the waves come. 

So work wise there have been some hard yards with more to come but I have enjoyed, almost, the last 2/3 months to some degree.  My secondment is I think helping me to make a contribution at the moment and seeing where that leads will be interesting. 

Creatively I have had a few real bursts of activity, often during periods of Mania and also during a Greek holiday when the good lady was in bed and I was left twiddling my thumbs, I wrote 30 new poems in Greece over a week.  I have also had the privilege this year of writing 50th birthday odes for Neil Holmes, Teresa Buckle and Alli Mac, I hope they were okay folks.  I think I have found a degree of confidence as a poet this year leading to 2 charitable outings as well as Capstock for performing the poetry, with some nice feedback from those who took the time.  We had a frustrating year with the punk band Spewtum as we have struggled with getting a new drummer but friends pitched in and I think our Capstock performance was a step up from my miserable frontman job I did the prior year.  The Spewtum originals still seem to go down well.

On reflection, I think, if confidence doesn’t desert me, I would like to give more back in 2017.  In 2016 I have tried to informally help people at my work with mental health problems and I want to do more of that as I think there are an army of needs here especially in big organisations where the organisation can seem faceless, it may not want to be, but people perhaps struggling under the radar.  We have a really good team of folks who informally support Wellbeing and also filter people into the organisations Employee Assistance Programme as well as trying to provide practical support when they can.  I think that’s the key thing that I want to do, foster more of a sense of community as I feel that in recent years we have once again ended up with a ‘Looking after Number 1’ type culture and even though, with mental health there is an element of that needed there is no reason why we can’t share our experiences and make some sort of difference.  I’ve also tried to provide Homewatch support where I live though people don’t really engage with it that well, Its one of those unthanked tasks to some degree, that isn’t a problem but as I’m in contact with my neighbours I want to encourage them to keep a wider lookout locally socially in the neighbourhood.

Even though work has had some hard yards, I have been able to contribute to the Agile community within the organisation and have felt that this has been well received.

Another thing that has been highlighted for me this year, 2016, is the plight of the refugee, there have been absolute humanitarian needs for countries to take in refugess who are fleeing from fighting and persecution in 2016 yet the nationalistic rhetoric has been at odds with that across the globe.  Even in Germany who have taken in 1 million in 2016, there has been a hardening against that in recent weeks and not least in recent days because of the awful Berlin events.  Is there a challenge here for us all, to retain our humanity when these events are upon us and still want to help those in trouble.  I know the mantra comes out ‘charity begins at home’ but surely our home countries are ultimately a fortunate accident of birth for many of us that deliver us the freedoms that we have.

Peace to you all this Christmas ………………


Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Fine Art of Surfacing ...........................

The Fine Art of Surfacing is i think an album title from the Boomtown Rats, however it applies to my week this last week.  After some mania Sunday evening last weekend at a Doctor Who convention, approx 36 hours in total, I then had a horrid dip with the Black Dog and Anxiety this last Tuesday.

THEN things got better, since Wednesday my low mood has rescinded and Im left with just the anxietal thoughts, I feel much better about in myself though maybe not about myself and long may it continue.  It means Im focussing in on the anxiety thats left and navigating that however I feel so much better than I have done for 5 months.  Ive even crept out onto socialmedia !?!

Im so pleased to get some respite from the frustration and hope that I can carry that into work next week and a greek holiday the following week.  Going to try and pace myself this week so that I dont go backwards though.

The reason I used the title for the blog that Im using is that it currently feels like I've dived in off the deep end of a pool and there was initially exhilaration ( the mania ) then there was the pressure of working my way up to the surface ( the dip ) and now though there is still work to do my head has broken the surface of the water.   I will endeavour to live the next couple of weeks mindfully and power myself forward, hopefully.

Left currently really with just the anxiety to battle, what is my anxiety.  My anxiety is a set of contradictions that I battle, I have good days but mainly bad days.  My anxiety is feeling lonely in a room of people, feeling less than others, unlovable but I think in recent days I have tapped into the overwhelming feeling that Im loved and if not that definitely liked.  My anxiety is the belief that my job is beyond me and yet a few chinks have shone through this week at work and so ill push those doors and see what happens.   Anxiety, though is mainly for me a complete lack of confidence and self belief hence reading every self help book under the son, I guess I must be in danger of drowning on this swim in the river of Self Help.

Thanks to all my friends and colleagies, you know who you are.

anxiety is not always in control, anxiety is not always right, anxiety is jealous and doesn't want me to share,  to coin a phrase from Doctor Who ............. YANA ............ You are Not alone