Not so straight and narrow

I’ve never hidden my mental wobbliness/unwellness and I’m not about to start. There has been a small slip up of late, just enough to feel unstable and a bit, well, unwell. I’m not very good  shit at describing how I feel when things start going wrong and Brian (yes…I call my brain Brian, especially when it’s not well) starts losing grip on what to do, say or think. The only way I can explain it is by shamelessly using the format of a blogger and Instagram lady, Lindsey. Her post documenting her train of thought struck me as a perfect way to explain Brian, especially to myself when I need to make sense of the things that become, on occasion, completely overwhelming and scary.

photo credit:

I asked Lindsey if I could use her blog post as a basis of one of mine – she’s very kindly agreed, so Lindsey, thank you very much. When you’ve got bored with this post, go and read her blog; it’s much better than this one.

Mental illness, as you probably know, affects one in four people. That’s rather a lot of us and most of the time, other people don’t notice. I’ve been ok for several months because of medication but I decided, stupidly, to reduce it to half the dose and see what happened. Now happened and I’m back to the original dose and hopefully stability will resume. I’m writing this, mainly for my own benefit, as I do most of my posts. If, however, it helps someone else understand mental illness, be it their own or someone elses, then that’s a bonus. I’m not navel gazing – I’m trying to make sense of what goes on with Brian. Thoughts that go through my head on a typical unwell stage are as follows:

  • I don’t want to get out of bed, it’s too hard.
  • Lazy cow – no one would miss you if you didn’t get out of bed. Lazylazylazy ugly cow.
  • Why should I bother washing? It will just need doing again tomorrow.
  • WHAT WAS THAT?! *breathes fast* Oh, it was a shadow…no one is there.
  • Ugh you’re disgusting without clothes on. Quick, hide it all.
  • Right, drive to work and don’t think about crashing the car. You’ll never do it, coward.
  • WHAT WAS THAT? I DEFINITELY saw something that time.
  • Idiot drivers, get out-of-the-way. Move. Now. oh fuck off. *guiltguiltguiltguilt* OK, I’m sorry I told you to fuck off…not that you can hear or see me.

Now…all of the above is just getting to work. When the people start arriving, that’s when the judging and feeling watched thoughts come in.

  • Why is she looking at me like that? Oh, it’s someone behind me waving at her.
  • What do you want now?
  • Just. Shut. UP. *guiltguiltguiltguilt*
  • Any minute now, something bad is going to happen.
  • What if there’s a fire/bomb/someone shoots us/someone dies/I die/there’s an explosion next door?
  • Oh god. Fire. I hate fire. I’d die. We’d all die.
  • No one would miss you you stupid girl. Why would they miss you?!
  • Why are they staring at me?
  • Wonder when I’ll be found out that I don’t know anything about anything?
  • I feel like a fraud
  • I am stupid.
  • Yes, you are stupid. Stupidstupidstupid girl…wait til they find out. They’ll fire you on the spot.
  • Shit. Someone wants “a word”. I’ve done something wrong. I just know it. They’re going to fire me now.
  • You idiot. All they wanted was a meeting room. Idiot.
  • I shouldn’t be here. Someone better than me should be in my job.
  • Is he laughing at me? Why is he laughing at me? What does he know about me that is so funny?
  • Idiot…he’s on the phone.
  • Idiot.

This train of thought continues, for most of the day. I keep seeing shadows or shapes that I think are people or animals in weird places. Interspersed with all of the rubbish, is normal conversation where I make sense and people seem to respond well and without asking me if I’m having some sort of breakdown. That’s the thing; this is all in my head. I have a running commentary of absolute bile and spite chuntering away, Brian muttering and murmuring like a drain.

Getting home, it’s into full on “good girl” mode. And Brian continues his commentary, like this:

  • No, you can’t sit down for a cup of tea, lazy girl. DO SOMETHING USEFUL WITH YOUR TIME!
  • If you do the jobs you can have a cup of tea, that’s just how it works.
  • Straighten the papers.
  • Take the rubbish out. I know you took it out yesterday but do it again. Because you’re a good girl and people will only like you if you’re good.
  • Sort the washing. All of it. No, not half now, half later.
  • Now, make dinner and don’t cock it up – you know how stupid you are.
  • Apologise. You are bad and wrong. You’ve messed up.
  • *in a very small voice* be quiet. You’re so horrible to me. I’m not bad. I’m good. Look I’m trying really hard to be good
  • Make coffee, clear the plates, wipe the surface down.
  • Load the dishwasher.
  • Clean the cat’s bowl. And feed her. You clearly don’t love her, her water is low.
  • You’re going to read/crochet? Hmm, that’s a bit lazy isn’t it? You’re not even very good at it.

I must stress that this is when I’m not quite right, sort of now. This “voice” (I’m not hearing voices, it’s my own voice) that keeps pushing and criticising and being quite mean does quieten. I don’t always feel watched and judged and on edge when I drop a spoon, and then cry because of it. I know, when I am well that by doing something all the time doesn’t make me any more or less loved or liked. I know that I am entitled to do things I want to do as well as things I have to do and I can do them without feeling guilty about them.

I’ve spoken to my GP today as she’s given me the old dose again and an instruction to see her in 2 months. I just wanted to try to make sense of what happens in my head, especially to those who know me and see me daily/weekly. I’ve worked it out that if I have to take this medication to keep me on the straight and narrow of thinking rationally and not letting Brian bash me about, then so be it. If I had a dodgy pancreas and needed insulin, I’d think nothing of taking it. It would keep me alive. This is what the medication is doing; it’s keep me alive. I don’t want to be ill again. I don’t want to lose my grip on what is and isn’t real.


4 responses to “Not so straight and narrow

  1. Hi, been following you on insta and now reading your blog. I think it’s great that you write so honnestly about your feelings and what goes on in your head. We should all be more open and accept that mental health problems are common and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Hiding it will just make it much worse!
    Look after yourself xxx

    • Thank you so much, its only been the last 6 months or so that I’ve accepted I may be on mood stabilising medication for the rest of my life and I’m ok with it, just. Very scared of being as ill as I was last year, so if this helps, I’m ok with it. Xx

  2. Glad you are getting a bit of help. The thoughts you have seemed to be mostly caused by anxiety. I think all of us can relate to the odd thought that you are experiencing. It is the sheer number that suggests you are experiencing something out of the ordinary. I know it sounds trite, but anything that counters that anxiety should help take the edge of it. Chamomile tea, massage, relaxation, yoga, tai chi, meditation, going for a walk, mindful activity (where you get lost in what you are doing and there is little room for those thoughts). It might not matter which activities you go for, but choose one or two things that could help. I have had similar experiences in the past. I think that counselling and a change of diet helped me the most. (I think I have trouble processing some foods.) I have also felt very anxious/ low being on the pill, so worth checking if any of your current medications could make things worse. Love to you, Jem.

    • Thank you lovely, you are always so fab. Funnily enough I know I’m not doing so well on the diet front, mainly due to the eczema flare ups…entirely possible it’s having peripheral effects too. I’m crocheting like mad, it helps as I have to count and so leaves little room for worry. Hopefully a better diet, exercise (when I’ve shaken this cold/cough and can breathe with an inhaler) will all help too. Much love xx

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