Mental Health Problems – Suicidal Ideation – Don’t commit suicide, live your life.

Cyclothymia is a member of the bi-polar spectrum. There is a high incidence of suicide amongst those with Bi-polar disorder, I think I read somewhere that it was one in ten or something.  I would never do it but I have a full understanding of how, certainly in the past,

self portrait - 1986-11_2
self portrait – 1986-11_2

before being medicated, this was a real possibility.  Just don’t do it, things can always change.  In the past, with cyclothymia I’d get suicidal ideations, where for no reason I just think about ending my life.  It was very strange but not unheard of, especially when going onto new medication. Best just to get up and do something a bit different and take your mind off it, or call someone but don’t alarm them unnecessarily!

Here’s a link to an article on attempted suicide written by Natasha Tracey, who is bipolar. Follow her great blog, she’s on facebook too. Natasha Tracey – the bipolar burble blog

I certainly was having a lot of thoughts about suicide when I took these photo’s, and part of the reason I took it was to eliminate any doubts about whether it had been an accident or suicide.

suicidal ideation
self portrait – suicidal ideation, always remember things will get better.

I wanted to show the viewer, after my death, that I was quite calm and ready to take the decision without being drunk and not on the spur of the moment.  Not very nice I know, but thankfully my circumstances changed, my mood phase shifted, and it never happened so all’s well that ends well.

Death is all around us, we just don’t see it. We fear it (although what we are really fearing is a painful death I believe), we are saddened by it when we lose a loved one or when we hear of someone dying in an accident.

Personally what I think is really sad is people doing nothing about getting fat, knowing nothing about how their body is fuelled (cut down on the carbs/sugar); People who drink and abuse their bodies with Class A drugs – to “escape” (escape what?) – If it’s something from the past, then it’s not now, try and live in the present; people too concerned with “stuff”.

self portrait - 1986-11_1
self portrait – 1986-11_1

Try and regularly do something that makes you experience real fear, fear that you have to try and take control of, that will make you feel more alive.

Most people have no idea what their bodies are capable of, and do nothing to stimulate the natural feel good drugs that can’t be banned. We do not have all the time in the world, and as individuals we really are specks of dust in time and space. Why doesn’t everyone want to fly a wingsuit, anyone can do it, you just need a bit of money and a bit of time, not a new carpet, car, sofa or whatever. It’s stormy out, I might go and climb a tree today. (and indeed I did –  a beech tree)

Brento the starling I rescued

Brento, the fledgling Starling was trapped in Jane’s wall cavity and I rescued him by removing a vent, no sign of parents, no nest.  As we could not find a local rescue center and also because he was so desperate I took it upon myself to be his caretaker. My duty was to give him as much chance of survival as if he was with his parents, which was a tall order!

It is a difficult job to care for a baby bird. If you are considering it, make sure you are 100% certain that parents are not about. Take time looking and listen for their calls.  If it’s a starling it will have been nesting in a roof or a wall or something high, if it’s a Blackbird it will be from a nest in a bush. Starlings can fly (a bit) as soon as they leave the nest, Blackbirds on the other hand hide in the bushes waiting for mum for days till they are mature enough to fly, so it may be a Blackbird, it’s hard to tell the difference.

It really has been an eye opener and a pleasure looking after him.  I’m no expert on birds, so for more information on starlings I highly recommend visiting http://www.starlingtalk.com/  their website helped a great deal with my research.

If you have rescued a chick you will notice that it will need feeding a lot, much more than you think it could possibly eat!  Don’t worry about over feeding it, it will refuse food when full and it will eat A LOT in one go, much more than you would think possible. They eat mainly insects, get millions of mealworm and crickets from pet shop. Dried puppy food soaked then drained is the other main food, check the protein content it should be more than say 25%. pet shops also sell fat/suet with added insects (Tesco have pellets too). Boiled egg and shell mixed with apple sauce. berries. dried insect mix. Seeds as food yes, but depends whether starling or blackbird, best to start with seeds that are like alpen squashed etc and without husks (Tesco ‘Natures Garden’ ground and table mix, and ‘No mess Mix’) mix them both together and add some goodies like dried insects/dried mealworm/apple bits/peanuts, whatever.. oh and worms are to be avoided as they may contain parasites (Gape worm) that could kill the bird in no time.

Starlings are amazing talkers and can also impersonate machinery and the likes. I have been playing Starling song to him, they have to learn it in the first 60 days or they won’t be able to remember it when they start singing at maturity.

You will need a big cage, and also an aviary/shed so that it can get it’s flight muscles excercised.  Do not try to tame it (after all it is a wild bird) by handling it too much. An important factor to consider is time, you will need loads of it! In the film you will see ways to help the bird learn how to be a bird! Also the internet has a wealth of information. If you choose to hand rear an baby bird, it will not be easy, however it will be a majorly rewarding experience.

The last day I saw Brento he fed well and seemed happy enough, in fact I’d say he was quite playful, pecking my ear etc.  I did feel something strange about him that day, and looking back now I think he was saying good-bye.

Brento the starling I rescued » "Brento" the starling I rescued and raised.

 

Starlings are magnificent flyers and when they glide overhead in their little Squadron’s they look like miniature humans wearing Phoenix-Fly Phantom 3 wingsuits!

Gary Connery wingsuit landing – I was there (with vid)

I told him he’d nail it, he strolled up the field, donned his wingsuit and did just that.

Gary Connery lands a wingsuit – Here’s the gallery.  I was there on this historic day 23rd May 2012 when Gary Connery, ex british soldier from 3 Para, and hollywood stuntman became the first person to jump from an aircraft (a helicopter at 2400ft no less!) and land safely without using a parachute.

I chatted with Gary minutes before the jump, and we talked about his flysight data from another jump he’d done “sputnik,”  and how he managed to get the perfect glide ratio  he had planned for to hit the boxes.  Weather conditions on the day were not ideal though, it was gusting, there were thermals at the end of the box-rig, he had changed a few things like his exit routine from the chopper, the world’s press (and me and my little camera, my girlfriend Jane and Sassy dog) were waiting, it appeared to me that the wind speed was picking up!

Watching Wingsuit BASE at Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Watching Wingsuit BASE at Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

I told him he’d nail it, he strolled up the field, donned his wingsuit and did just that.  There are no words to describe seeing a man fly like a bird with such precision.  If you want to know, go to Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland like I did a few years back, that will give you some idea.  “The valley” is a BASE jumping paradise where if you don’t fancy it yourself, you can get yourself comfortable and watch the wingsuiters jump from the cliffs and fly over your head, all day.

It would probably be correct to say that most people present at Gary’s jump had zero clue about wingsuiting or BASE jumping, but Gary’s confidence and profound self-belief  led everyone to believe that all was in order, nothing could possibly go wrong, lardy dar let’s get this done more tea vicar! and there’s nothing wrong with that.

When the sound of the helicopter rotors changed pitch I knew it was hovering into position, a speck in the sky above. My heart rate probably doubled, then a few seconds later “there he goes”.   Ages seemed to go by, then he exploded into view all of a sudden, no longer a speck, now a man, flying.  Then he went unstable and was rocking from side to side, I was concerned he was close to a stall and I stopped breathing for a while I’m sure;  then when he smashed into the boxes I thought  “perfect landing, he did it”, a thought that lasted about half a second to be replaced by “oh shit, he went in hard and fast.”  My girlfriend was sobbing and I was reassuring her (and myself) that he was ok.  I was nearly in tears and buzzing with adrenaline waiting for him to come out the boxes.  Gary Connery, a true gentleman, and a legend from now on. Something tells me this won’t get copied for a while, it’s just bonkers, I still can’t believe what I saw!

Here’s my video from this incredible day.  For the interview I was between ITN News and the Times, however because this interview was interrupted by the crowd running into the boxes, courtesy of Gary’s wife Vivienne (a fitting end to the proceedings in my opinion) the interview was not shown on TV to the best of my knowledge, so here it is, just as it should be.

 

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”    Theodore Roosevelt

Gary Connery what a guy!
Here’s the gallery.

“Denial and Normalization” – Cyclothymic bi-polar disorder

who decides what is normal
I’m not odd, it’s you that’s odd.

Denial

Denial can last years, and manifests itself in many ways, for me it was:

  • “There is nothing wrong with me it must be a mistake”.
  • “I’m not prepared to accept this because if I do I am stigmatized and ruined”.
  • “This is too serious to deal with so I’m just going to carry on as if nothing happened, lardy dar more tea vicar”.
  • “Not me, it only happens to druggies and homeless people”.
  • “I mean, it’s not as if I’m walking about with my underwear on my head and pencils up my nostrils”.

etc, etc, etc,.

These things ran round my head causing confusion and conflict like nothing before until eventually, I had to accept that I had all the symptoms and past history of a condition labelled cyclothymia, I was correctly diagnosed and the condition was affecting my life in a negative manner. I started coming to terms with my diagnosis and began the process of getting help from my doctor, a psychiatrist and a mental health care co-ordinator. These people were a tremendous help, and I am not in any way belittling them with my following observations, this is just how I see things, and it might fly in the face of “normality” to a degree, which is something I don’t have a problem with.

Normalization

The “professionals” have a duty to help you as a member of society. They also have a duty to protect society, a duty that involves attempting to “normalise” you if you have ticks in the wrong boxes.

The use of prescription drugs to induce mental states that are compatible with societies expectations is well and truly established, and this is where YOU need to take control of YOUR life, and not be bullied into trying to be something you are never going to be. Being diagnosed with Cyclothymia or any type of Bi-Polar disorder does not make you a violent person.  SO YOU DON’T NEED NORMALIZING.  Know about the pills you are on, know what aspects of your illness you want to try to get control of better, and if you aren’t harming anyone you don’t need to be sedated do you?

The stigma surrounding mental health issues means that for the rest of my life, when I mention to anyone that I have mental health problems (and those are the words I have to use or they will think I’m being evasive), I immediately cause a state of alarm. Perhaps I’m a bit paranoid, but the way I see it is this,.. I am clearly expected to address this state of alarm, and until I do, it is assumed that I am a psychopathic axe wielding homicidal maniac.

The people that everyone would refer to as lunatics are as far away from those with bi-polar or cyclothymia as they are from any other “normal” member of society. The expression “ignorance breeds contempt” is very much true when it comes to mental health matters, and until you prove otherwise, you are sometimes going to be labelled in an uncomplimentary manner by ignorant and narrow minded people. However I am glad to say that these people are becoming rarer.

Here’s a link to someone who explains things better than me,  Natasha Tracy Bipolar Expert   How to Accept Having Bipolar Disorder

An introduction to my mental illness

Cyclothymic Depression
Cyclothymic Depression age 17

I am diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder (Manic-depression) and/or Cyclothymic disorder, Agoraphobia with panic attacks and Generalised Anxiety Disorder.  I have to take mood stabilising drugs.  Because these things come in phases sometimes I function on all cylinders and can get stuff done, but this never really lasts long for me.  I just try and make the most of the good days and try to force myself to do things.

I mildly disapprove of the words “suffer from” or “mental health problem”. How the mind works is still mostly a mystery to modern science. It is my belief that my brain chemicals are different that’s all, just like people who are epileptic have a chemical imbalance.

You wouldn’t think there was anything “abnormal” about me if you met me. That said, without purposefully trying to be contradictory, I also freely acknowledge that sometimes I may well be “not normal”. I get easily confused or anxious for no particular reason, or am unable to make even simple decisions without things going round and round in my head.  I am sometimes easily and suddenly irritated and can’t cope unless things go exactly to plan, other times I am completely flexible and chilled and nothing ruffles me, I can flip between these states throughout a day.  Sometimes I can’t go to the shops because it makes me nervous and distressed so I run out of coffee, and food.  It would be safe to say that I am somewhat dysfunctional and probably a bit irrational and/or downright peculiar at times. I often need to just be on my own, some days I literally just stare at the wall, feeling quiet and pensive but not necessarily depressed. Sometimes I have no motivation, can’t get out of bed don’t eat properly or tidy up and have erratic sleep patterns; Other times I’m a fireball of enthusiasm and inspiration, full of ideas and can achieve any goal I set myself (and I have achieved quite a lot despite my predicament).  Other times I am just “normal” like everyone else.  These conflicting mood states cause my friends and family to despair at how I’m not doing really well with a good career etc, normally because they see I may have talents, but don’t see the other side when I can’t function – I just go off the radar a bit then.  This is just the way I am and I have finally accepted that. From day to day I’m someone who most find polite, chatty, understanding, honest, compassionate, mildly interesting, etc, etc, long list of words that don’t include Lunatic, Nutter, Psycho, Wierdo, etc,. etc,. I know I’m a decent man, I like who I am, and so does everyone who knows me.

Here is a link to my old cyclothymia case file/website help page thingy, some bits of which I have not added to this new website yet.  It is intended to be of help to anyone diagnosed as cyclothymic or bi-polar and for their family and friends.   My Cyclothymia and Bi-Polar help page