For almost as long as I can remember I’ve tried to get the medical establishment to give enough of a toss for enough of a length of time to give me medical categorisation. This is for several reasons, firstly in a somewhat spectrum-like way I like the taxonomy of it, I like to know what I’m dealing with so that I can absorb salient information and figure it all out in my head. Specific diagnoses are therefore helpful in as much as they give more defined parameters as to the sorts of things that are and are not. Secondly there’s an identity sense afforded by the diagnosis of a condition, a community perhaps, solidarity with fellow sufferers but also possible coping strategies and mechanisms and a sharing of information.

When all is said and done though what I require most is comprehension and the ability to change. The way my head has been for as long as I can remember has been beyond my understanding, so many things that I seem to do that then infuriate myself for ages thereafter, now I’ll freely admit this is something most people can empathise with, some more than others, but I think generally these are things that muck around on the peripheries of people’s lives rather than come to underpin them or even engulf them – except in the cases of those who are in the vicious cycle of self-harm as I explained in my last post.

There have always been two hopes that come with the idea of an accurate diagnosis, the first is the naive one, one which is far more about the dream of suddenly being someone else, the better me, the me I thought I could, should and would be and that is that there is medication that flips a switch and ‘fixes’ who I am. I use that phraseology advisedly and specifically, I do not see mental ill-health as signifying someone is broken, unless of course they, like me, see themselves in that way. What I mean by it is that I can identify a core part in me that seems to know what is good and right and wants to follow it and another part that has the capacity to screw it up consistently. If it were hedonistically I might understand, down in the blaze of glory or notoriety and at least a bit of a laugh on the way out, but it is not like that, it is debilitatingly frustrating to me and cannot be easy for those around me either. Critically I think for the purposes of study and identification is that I do not enjoy it or the behaviour it brings, I am trapped in a room inside myself and I have lost where the door is. That there should be some Panacea Pill which should immediately have the capability to change precisely what it is I wish to change and not other facets and should be able to do so without side effects or effort on my part is frankly laughable. Nevertheless until all possibilities are exhausted there remains the hope. The more significant and realistic notion behind the issue of diagnoses is that having a diagnosis means the right direction can be taken on the next steps, medically, psychologically as well as physically, that to have a category in which to fall means that it should be a little clearer what lies beyond.

I had always assumed that since rarely rendered incapable of speech, merely action, that I would be quite an easy candidate to be categorised, at least in as much as verbal submission were able to achieve. Reality has proven to be quite the opposite in an experience which would be bad enough were it only to be me on whom it had befallen but now I am more in touch with others who share mental ill-health if not the same condition I find it to be all too common and this suggests to me that the system as it currently stands is not fit for purpose and had not been for a very long time.

Mental ill-health happens to a wide range of people, we know this, the severity and duration are individual as is the capacity of the person to cope with it during their lives. What is also clear is that for some people it is a constant struggle whilst others have breaks of undefined amounts of time between episodes. I had always been aware of a rather cyclical nature of my situation such that there would rarely be any specific change in circumstance that lead to a change in mood merely my perception of those same circumstances. Thus I characterised myself as cyclical because this seemed the most logical thing that marked me out from the experiences of others that I saw who had more specifically external stimuli related episodes. Of course we are all beset by pitfalls and we all struggle at certain times to deal with them, when I would be feeling low certainly I was hyper-sensitive to anything going wrong around me which would like a blanket flying in a hurricane attach itself to me and wrap around in a method that made me see the world or this specific as having been my fault in some way.

This I feel is the most dangerous part of any mental health, firstly because of the ease with which one can misunderstand this self-loathing and confuse it with self-absorption and self-obsession, it may share similarities but is the direct antithesis of arrogance; secondly it is the part that can so easily lead to thoughts that the world, principally those you care about, would be better off were you not there anymore. I have never thought I would ever act on those thoughts but by the same token I am no stranger to them either and sometimes the very inability to carry through what would be an irrevocable change one way or another leaves one feeling even more trapped and wretched and just as much the burden to those around.

It is possible that I may be a bundle of such incredible specifics such as to be the nemesis of the medical establishment, though somehow I doubt it, what is more evident is the lack of time taken or actual expert eye cast over my case and the ease with which certain professionals think that if you are not presenting as needing immediate hospitalisation that you must be ‘coping rather well’. This is all very much dependent on how one might define ‘coping’ and where I believe my understanding of it is at odds seemingly with some of the professionals I have met. True, we all have stress, we all have to deal with adversity and there are times when this can set us back along a path and render us less capable, however the assumption, if I am not mistaken, would be that this would be finite, would it not? The point at which a failure to deal with things is the norm seems not to be the one I associate with everyone else, perhaps I am wrong, perhaps they hide it the way I used to hide it, perhaps the human condition is indeed merely one defined ultimately by pain.

Let’s assume for now that it isn’t because if it were to be then I think all bets are off and we might just as well give up en masse but I sense by the fact that broadly speaking people describe life as being a positive experience that there is hope out there in some form. The question then is where to find it?

Song Of The Day ~ Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – From The Hip