Committing Fraud

I am a fraud. There, I’ve said it. But before you go running off to the Daily Fail to dob me in (I’m working and disabled so I must be on the rob), let me clarify this revelation.

I’ve been an out and proud ‘service user’ since long before my involuntary admission for clinical depression in the late nineties and been the poster girl for all that is bipolar since a diagnosis (and medication) tweak six years ago. I’d previously admit to a little wobble when I was given the bipolar label (I know the label shouldn’t matter, but I work in the NHS) as it made me question where the ‘good’ me stopped and the ‘ill’ me started. After all, when I was a depressive, it wasn’t me that couldn’t get my arse out of bed, it was the ilness. I wasn’t moody or intolerant, I was depressed. But I was also creative, driven, had a photographic memory, could smell an ant fart a mile off*. So at work, wasn’t it fantastic how I could do what I could do with all I had to cope with?

Now, don’t get me wrong, now knowing that those ‘good’ bits are parts of the illness don’t make either the depression or the increasingly difficult mania any more manageable but they give an element of context within reason. It still frustrates me that the context is normally based on ‘isn’t that what Stephen Fry’s got?’ (no, he has cyclothymia actually) but it’s better than it’s ever been.

Or is it?

You see, for me, the old ‘you just need anti depressants like a diabetic needs insulin’ quote rang hollow a couple of weeks ago when my psychiatrist told me she just wanted to try me out on olanzapine, an anti psychotic. Now, I’m not currently psychotic (I have been in the past) but I immediately started to think about how people perceive psychosis. And by people, I also mean me.

After all, when the government each year survey the population and find out that 40 odd percent of them wouldn’t let someone who has had a mental health related admission babysit their child, they clearly don’t mean me, do they? What will my boss think if she finds out? Will I be allowed to act autonomously again? Will hubby let me have access to the joint account again (well, he hasn’t actually taken it off me ….). What will my mother say? How can I tell my friends? (I’ll need a reason for the weight gain). I labelled myself and I didn’t like it.

One of the wonderful tweoples who is bonkers enough to follow me and who I follow back, tweeted about how sometimes her struggles seem trivial against those of others in our little ‘mentalists’* group. It saddened me that she thought that way, that I may have contributed to that thought and that we appear to have developed a hierarchy amongst ourselves. A ‘my cat’s blacker than your cat’ mentality.

Sometimes it feels like the ‘Time to Change’ campaign may need to do some work on their own members …..


Note: All asterisked phrases are copyrighted and used with permission from Zoe Smith


8 responses

  1. hello!

    I saw that tweet yesterday and I have been thinking about it a lot since. I fall into that habit – I often feel like I’m not normal enough for the sane people and not ill enough for the mental people, (that looks really facetious written down, I don’t mean it to be). I worry that I’m being judged from all sides, although that probably says more about me that it does anyone else!

    So pleased you have a blog! xx

  2. I’ve said before that when things are going well for me, and I seem to be on the up, that I feel guilty when it isn’t for other people, especially friends.

    Labelling myself therefore can be quite an odd thing to do.

    Anywho, welcome to the blogging club 🙂 x

    • Thanks Adam (missed you recently).

      I think sometimes labelling can be useful when you’re seeking some acknowledgement that something is wrong. It can however then become very stigmatising. I hadn’t really realised how much of that I unconsciously participated in.

      You still owe me a coffee 🙂


  3. Your blog’s cogent, with a lot of humour. My limit’s 140 characters. As you’re aware, I’m sure, everybody has mood swings. I don’t think there’s a great benefit in endless self analysis. I suffer fom depression, have done all my adult life. I remember the analysis, the search for the holy grail. I went through years of continual destructive behaviour, not helped by drugs that did nothing for me. About 15 years ago, I found a chemical that produced positive results and life has been much better. I get depressed but it no longer screws me into the ground. You have to keep on keeping on, awful cliche, but as Janice Galloway said, the trick is to keep breathing. My mantra.

    • Thanks Norman. I do appreciate your little nuggets when they arrive. I do try to get the right balance between insight and over analysis while trying to do the best I can. Keeping going is the only option as, at the moment, I’m not wishing to give up.

      I saw a great quote on a great site ( recently which I am going to try to adopt:
      “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.” ~ William Gibson

      I’m glad you think I’m worth the follow.


  4. Hi

    welcome to the Madosphere, I’m so glad you have a blog- if nothing else it’s something for me to do at 3am after a whopping 4 hours sleep!

    I must have missed that conversation on Twitter, was probably too mental at the time and therefore possibly winning the “competition” in all truth I’d still rather not be eligible for entry.

    Keep blogging, even if only until we get to a point where I am functional enough to leave a decent comment.


    • Hi chick

      I’m pretty sure none of us want to be here but, as we are, I’m pretty glad for the support that twitter (and I hope blogging) provides. I know it’s probably no comfort but I was where you are 11 years ago, albeit without the helicopter.

      I love your blog and the Mentalist movement is all the better for your presence.


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