How does it feel to live day to day with a mental illness? Well, hopefully I can answer that a little bit as I’ve written up my day, to commemorate being half way through this year’s mental health awareness week. It’s a difficult question to answer though. My first thought is to say that it’s like any other life, a life that is wrapped in complexity and is multi-faceted. However I don’t think that this would be entirely true.

My normal is different from other people’s normal.  My normality involves medication, checking in with myself and my surroundings, and managing my life’s stresses as to not go downhill in terms of mood again. The only large difference I can think of really between my life and other people’s lives is this – that I am acutely aware of myself and how I feel. I’m aware of how my surroundings make me feel and any decision I make is made in the context of my mood or how it may be altered by my surroundings.

For instance, if a flatmate offers to go clubbing for the night, I’m aware that I will be sober and thus a little socially awkward, and the odds are that I won’t get a lot of sleep. Interruptions to circadian rhythms nearly always occur in mood disorders, and this is probably the first consistent thing I’ll notice if I go downhill again. This isn’t to say, however, that I can’t have fun. Yes, I can go out for the odd night or two. It is only if a flatmate offered to take me out several nights in a row that I would have to politely decline.

I wake up and the first thing I do is take my medication. I do this three times a day. The medication does the job it’s supposed to thank Christ so I take it without question. Today I have an appointment with my counsellor then an appointment with my care co-ordinator, and my psychiatrist. My care co-ordinator is leaving their job and they are planning to introduce me to who will be taking over their position at this appointment.

How do I feel? Well, I’m pretty good but as always things could be better. I’m aware that I’m avoiding university work due to the sheer frustration it causes me. While I was in hospital I missed a good half of my course, which makes revision difficult. I’m having to learn something afresh then revise it! It’s a pain to say the least. I think my frustration stems from the fact that I can’t point the finger at any one individual or event that caused my hospitalisation. It just happened, it just is.

I’ve just seen my counsellor. The appointment was pretty good and we made another appointment for next week. We resolved that I shouldn’t work to the extremity that I did before, but that I should notch my work time up a little bit. I aired my concerns, what if I get ill again due to the extreme stress or the workload? If I take more on am I more likely to relapse? These concerns were all valid concerns and were discussed in depth and with tact.

I’ve also just put my prescription in. I’m due to run out of medication soon so I just put my prescription in as I was passing by the university pharmacy. It’ll be ready by Friday, and I have enough medication to last until then so that’s all fine.

In about forty five minutes I’m due to meet my new care co-ordinator and have my first appointment with the local mental health team doctor who I also haven’t met before. Hopefully they’re nice people and I like them! Sad to see my old care co-ordinator go but we all must move on eventually and he is handling his departure very well, he’s aiming to get all the people he sees to have a smooth transition to a new care co-ordinator. This involves meeting them and handing the case load over to them, and so far that’s all going smoothly.

I just met my psychiatrist for the first time and it was pretty good. We had to cover a lot of history so I spoke for a good hour straight and now my voice is hoarse haha. All in all very happy though, he was understanding and to the point, and recommended that I stay on my medication for the foreseeable future (if he’d recommended anything else I would have fought to stay on them).

My exams are in a week and I’m feeling the pressure. I’ll be on campus next year and the rent is going up 20%. What would help this would be if my academic scholarship continues, but to maintain this I need to get at least a 2:1 in my results. How am I supposed to get a 2:1 if I missed half of the course? I don’t really know. But hey ho I’ll try my best and what will be will be.

I just finished writing a timed practice essay. Wasn’t too bad, it could have been better but it also could have been worse! Didn’t write a great deal in terms of quantity but hopefully the quality is okay. I picked a question at random and it was on Borges’ short stories, and whether they present a perplexing view of the universe. I’ll have to wait and see what mark I get back for this one.

Other than that though I’m thinking relatively normal things. I’m thinking about what pictures I’m going to post today in my Instagram story (it’s like a picture diary through my experiences in psychiatric hospitals, to be found here https://www.instagram.com/inadarkwoodblog/). I’m thinking of what I’ve got in the pipeline for my blog for this year’s mental health week.

Of course I’m also thinking the usual odd things that everyone thinks from time to time. Like how many astronauts have been on the moon? How much does an elephant weigh? Did you know a whale’s heart is the size of a mini? You get the idea.

How will I spend my evening? Probably reading a little bit (my TBR list has to be seen to be believed!) and listening to music (still listening to the new Radiohead album and digesting EL VY’s debut Return to the Moon, I’m a big fan of The National).

I’m in a very fortunate position right now, in terms of my mood. If you had asked me to write this blog a few months ago the picture would have been drastically different, and I never would have believed that I’d be in any position to write such a blog. I’m very lucky to be relatively well right now, and hopefully I can avoid a downward slope.

What does tomorrow hold? Well, I have a meeting with the master of my college but other than that your guess is as good as mine. I’m also aware that today I was lucky and didn’t necessarily encounter any outward discrimination or stigma due to my mental health, but it could have just as easily happened as much as it did not. People are still shunned from their communities due to their own mental health and this is simply unacceptable and deplorable behaviour.

I’ll be off to bed in a few hours. So, what of tomorrow? Anything can happen. Here’s to tomorrow and another day of mental health awareness week!

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