What next?

I have written very little in the last few months, as I’ve been quite unwell. Even I realise this, something which suggests rare and blossoming insight – although it may evaporate as soon as normality returns, who knows. But things have been hard. My mood has been very low, my beliefs about myself and my life quite distorted, and my hopes for the future limited. 

I have had a long course of out-patient ECT, which has helped, but not completely, and I continue to take lithium and an increasing amount of quetiapine. I’m lucky, that I don’t seem to have any side effects from these medications, but my memory is really quite addled by the ECT. I’m pretty sure that it will mostly return, but it’s distressing. Even when I may come across as fairly normal, there are currently internal gaps and lacks, which I try to conceal from others. Writing, which is normally something I manage with a degree of fluency, takes much longer – for example, I am sitting here trying to think of words and phrases, and just not able to find them.

So, why bother trying to write? You may well ask, and I’m not completely sure. The answer is probably that I am trying to grasp normality, to do all the things that I normally do, because I believe that this will help me to get better faster. For a long time, I couldn’t do very much at all, but now that I can, more or less, hang words together, I think I need to start putting in more effort. 

There are other aspects, like personal hygiene and appearance, which I fear I have largely been neglecting, and I am trying to change this. I am also trying to brush my hair – unfortunately I can’t remember how I used to put it up. I have a plethora of hair combs and slides and no idea how to use them. Make-up, normally essential to me, is now a mystery. 

Music usually means a great deal to me – I have recently managed to go to a couple of orchestra rehearsals, and, while it lifts my mood, I am in far more of a muddle with all the orchestral accoutrements than usual. I know I also need to up the physical exercise, but it is hard to develop motivation, particularly when the weather is cold and I’m not working. Dogs that require walking do make some difference, and are, in any case, of great comfort.

Perhaps most important of all is seeing people, and I am so grateful to all those who have kept in touch. Meeting friends can be difficult, though – I make a huge effort when I go out, and this can be misleading. Friends are delighted to see that I seem well, and will say so, often appearing relieved that I am back to myself. The problem is that I’m not there yet, and I need them to know this. I know that I’m better than I was, but I’m nowhere near normality, and this is compounded by the memory mess. Some days are better, some worse; in any case, a smile may conceal despair.  

So, what next? I think the bottom line is that I need to keep trying to remember what I used to do, and then to remember to do it. I need to remember to take my medication and listen to advice, even if I don’t want to. Above all, I need to remember who I am, and who I was, and to bind them together into someone I can continue to be. This is a short blog, written to prove to myself that I can – hopefully – still blog. I want to be someone who can still talk to, write to and love other people, and I am going to try, very hard, to be that person, however long it takes.

7 thoughts on “What next?

  1. This is wonderful to hear, my struggles match yours, and you climbing back up to face the world really inspires me

  2. I’m glad that you appear to be coming out the other side of this terrible time.

    I am mildly scared by your experience of how worse your memory is after ECT given mine is so poor to start with. My wife appears to remember every detail and I usually have to accept what she says since I have nothing to argue with. My memory appears to be worse on lithium and definitely poor when I’m depressed, along with other poor cognitive functioning. Further back in time, the memory from my terrible manic periods is very hazy, almost as self-protection against the chaos I caused. Add ECT to all that and then I’m scuppered!

    Wishing you well

  3. Such a profound and courageous blog. Definitely something in the behaviour of normality despite low mood trying to precipitate recovery although often hindered by the resistance of poor motivation.

  4. Rebecca, you are very brave to continue with your writing – it must be very hard. From my own experience there is nothing worse than the fear of downturns. You write so well and are a great comfort to others like me. Thank you

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