#080 – The King of Illiterature (Reupload)

This isn’t really a post on mental health. It’s a post on my stupidity. I struggle with stuff I paid no attention to in school. I was to busy chasing girls, smoking weed and hanging out with mates. I did the bare minimum to get through each year. For me being popular and the class clown was much more important than homework and paying attention in class. I was to regret this in later life. I’m still sure I have dyslexia. I find spelling and grammar difficult. If it wasn’t for spellcheck my writing would probably only make sense to me. Having said all of that… it’s not the point of this site. I’m not here to dazzle people with my pronunciation and grammar it’s to simply document my psychiatric admission to hospital and mental health topics. My mathematics isn’t much better but like my spelling I can get by. I’m totally comfortable with my timetables and basic math but don’t ask me to tell you what x means and what algebra and trigonometry is because I’m clueless. Ahhh… a high school drop out!

#079 – The Day in the Life of a Schizophrenic

Depending on how late I was up the night before I usually wake in the late morning. My medications make it hard for me to rise and I heavily rely on caffeine so I drink a lot of coffee and energy drinks. This is a big vice for me but I need it. I take my morning meds – Atenalol, Somac and Lexapro. Depending on weather I have the house to myself I have been getting into my old ways and make my way to the bottle shop and get the usual. I get my ten beers which gets me through the day. The store opens at 10am and I am usually their first customer. I make sure I don’t have any major commitments for the day as I don’t drink if I have to drive or have a family event. I have a little two year old nephew and I make sure I am sober if I have to be around him as my sister, his mother, made it clear to me that she didn’t want me to drink and interact with him if I was intoxicated. I completely understand this so I don’t drink if he comes around for weekly tea. There is never an issue there. I have many extended family members who are alcoholics, much worse than I so my parents who I live with understand to an extent why I drink as it runs in the family. I handle my alcoholism. If I’m drunk I retire to my room and watch Netflix or Youtube and keep myself away from people.

If I’m not drinking I watch the latest Joe Rogan podcast and try to motivate myself to do some painting. I’ve been quite prolific lately and have produced some canvases that I have been happy with. I am giving them away on my website. All I ask for is for people to pay for the cost it took to create the piece. This is usually a couple hundred dollars so it still isn’t a cheap purchase. I get mixed messages as to what people think and it’s hard to guage if they feel sorry for me or they are genuine interested in what I do. I’m told not to give them away and some people tell me I could make a lot of money if I put them in exhibitions. I enjoy the process of creating them as much as the end product. It’s therapeutic for me. My website is: http://www.davesaville.com.

I try and walk my dog who I love to bits but she’s old and can only make it around the block. Even this is a commitment and I get anxious about leaving the house. It isn’t rewarding for me and I mainly do it to please my folks. I disappoint my olds as they would like to see me do more with my time but I’m content as to how I live my life. I have to live my own existence without without always being out to keep others happy.

I take my night meds: Clozapine and melatonin and I usually pass out about midnight. It’s not uncommon for me to stay up all night. It’s nights like this where I drink on the following day and this helps me drift off and get a few hours. Then the cycle continues. So that’s my usual day!

#078 – Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

So I thought I’d post an update as I’m now a month out of hospital and I have a little bit going on. As I write this blog it looks like I’ll be going through TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) treatment. This is causing me some headaches as I’ve been making calls to my health insurance mob to see if they cover this and if I can do it as an inpatient. I’m hopeless with this side of things. I often have to give consent for my mum to deal with the phone calls as my concentration is poor and I get voices so communication is difficult. TMS is usually a procedure for people with depression but there is proof it can help people with psychotic symptoms too so I can hopefully kill two birds with one stone. I’m assured there are little side effects and it is relatively painless, just some discomfort. As long as it doesn’t involve being anethetised, which terrifies me, I don’t care.

It’s upsetting that things have come to this. I have suffered from mental illness for almost twenty years and medications have failed. Even Clozapine (Blog #009) so this is my last hope. My quality of life isn’t good. My anxiety is debilitating and this with the paranoia restricts me from leaving the house without difficulty. I can’t even make face to face appointments with my shrink so this has to be done over the phone which stresses me out too. I had to drink heavily yesterday to deal with all of this which helps but I woke up hungover today and am suffering a little memory loss as to what I spoke to people about yesterday. This isn’t good.

#077 – Look On The Bright Side Suicide

This is a touchy subject. I have been lucky enough to not have had anyone too close to me commit the deed. I’ve known of people who have done this but only acquaintances. I had a room mate who I was reasonable attached to who went through with it but no family or friends. I think almost everyone know of someone who has taken their own life. I don’t know how I feel about it? On one hand I have little respect for people who leave a mess behind which is in almost all cases but I also know the lows people can go through where they see no other options. It’s disturbing to think of what a dark place someone must be in to off themselves. Things must be pretty dyer. 

I’ve had suicidal tendencies especially as a teen going through the hell of high school and I have done some risky things while psychotic and usually under the influence of alcohol. After consuming a bottle of vodka I was found by the police on the train tracks on the other side of the city. I don’t know how I got there and weather I was waiting for a train but luckily I was found before I did anything stupid. I’m not sure if I would have gone through with it but who knows what I was thinking in that state of mind? There has been other occasion where I mixed dozens of strong pills and drank heavy while on them which should have put me into overdose territory. Mixing benzo’s with booze is dangerous and it completely erases your memory. There has been so many occasions when this has happened and I have had no recollection as to what happened. I honestly believe I have had my guardian angels watching over me. I truly believe this.

These days I have too much going for me and I have a family who love me. It would completely destroy them if something was to happen. I’m happy to say I am in a good head space at the moment and I also want to stick around to see what happens in the world in the years to come. we’re living in interesting times and I want to see how things play out! I choose life!

#076 – Home and Sober

Today is my sixth day out of hospital. Adjusting to the outside world has been a slight challenge but rewarding. One of the major pluses has been I have no desire to drink. As I sit and write this I have the house to myself and during my drinking days this would be the perfect opportunity to race down to the bottle shop. I’m not sure why but I’m not craving or even thinking about picking up a beer? I’ve never experienced this before. I have always had major cravings and the want to wipe myself out. Maybe because I went through a few weeks in hospital sober has adjusted my body and mind to life without alcohol? Maybe my med’s are working out and I’m on a balance where they are working together to create a happy place? It’s only early days! I’m not sure what it would take for me to slip into my old ways?

My cousins wedding was on Friday and I chose to stay home. This was another challenge because I had the house to myself and was watching the football which is loaded with advertisements for beer and it is so glorified. It’s amazing how we are so pressured to drink. My extended family are big drinkers and I knew it would be a dangerous atmosphere for me as I don’t socialise well when I’m not drinking. When I was a drunk I could slur out words and talk to anyone for hours. I have a very low tolerance for the nonsense people who have been drinking talk when I’m not in the same intoxicated mindset they are. There’s nothing worse speaking to drunk people when you are sober… Just ask my parents and people who have put up with my crazy talk over the years!

#075 – Discharged!!!

I was finally discharged from hospital yesterday. My time was up. I’d had enough. I saw Gem (psychiatrist) before I left to get my scripts and to catch up before I left for home. As it stands I am taking Clozapine, Lexapro, Invega Trinza, Somac, Atenalol and Nitrazepam. I had to fight for the Nitrazepam (Blog #041) as it’s a benzo and is addictive and Gem knows I have an addictive personality. He wrote me up for 6 pills a week after some negotiation. This is better than nothing. As far as the other med’s go, my antidepressant was increased, as was my Clozapine (Blog #009).

It feels great to be home. I’m feeling better than I can ever remember! A lot of this comes down to my sobriety. It’s been close to a month off the grog and I can’t see myself getting back on it. There is a wedding in a few days that I have backed out of. As good as I am doing I’m not up to attending something this big. Knowing my extended family there will be a lot of alcohol involved and I’m not up to socialising with drunks when I’m battling the drink. I’m finding it hard to be around people and this will be a big wedding so that’s enough to count me out. I’m sure the family understands. They know my history.

As for my current living environment – I’m content with where things are at. As mentioned in previous posts, I am living with my folks at the moment. Not ideal for a 37 year old but things could and have been much worse. My parents are fantastic (Blog #46) and put up with a lot. No matter how bad I stuff up they are always there for me. While I was in hospital they cleaned out my room. All of the empty beer bottles were removed, all my cloths washed and sorted, brand new bedding and furniture. It feels like a fresh start.

This blog was initially created as a record of my hospital stay but it has turned into something more than that. I will continue to document my mental health and sobriety but will sometimes touch on different topics. I’m sure for the reader it must become tedious reading on the mental health side of things. We’ll see where it goes!

#074 – The Paranormal

I’ve been fascinated with the paranormal since I was a kid. There was a television program called “The Extraordinary” that was on one night of the week. I would tape the shows and watch them over and over. You have to remember there was no internet back in those days. The only way for me to discover this stuff was through the TV and books I’d borrow from the library.

I haven’t had any real experience with ghosts or spirits. I played the ouija board a couple of times without any luck. I wouldn’t recommend playing this ‘game’ as you never know what spirit you are summoning and sometimes they can attach themselves to you. The board is sold as a novelty game and sold in children’s toy stores but it doesn’t come with a warning sticker. Look up some ouija board possession on YouTube.

I have also always had an interest in cemeteries and ghosts so I would frequent the local graveyard at stupid times of the night to see what I could capture on film. One night I struck luck! I didn’t notice anything on my camera but when I got home and uploaded the photos I captured some very bizarre activity. As a photographer I have taken countless photos at night and never got results like these photos I took. I’m yet to have anyone tell me how these anomalies came to be? It was pitch black and the only light source was my flash. I have shown these photos to a lot of people and nobody can give me an explanation as to what this could be. Visit the link below to view the photos:

https://www.davesaville.com/blog-1/2020/5/18/paranormal

#073 – THC and Paranoia

Before you read on please note that I don’t smoke pot anymore and I have zero desire to take it up again. 

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in Australia, with one in three adults using it at some point in their life. It’s legal in some places around the world, and offered medicinally in others. But what does smoking pot do to your mental health? I’m on the fence. I don’t know if smoking weed on a daily basis for the past 15 years caused my schizophrenia and paranoia or that it actually helped me deal with my illness better.

Most people remember a time they felt paranoid after smoking marijuana. Paranoia can be described as feeling a sense of impending doom, such as when hearing police sirens, a person assumes they’re about to get busted for doing something wrong. Some describe it as a feeling that everyone knows that they are stoned, or that they might get hurt or even die. What can be puzzling is that more people have come to rely on cannabis to relieve their anxiety. Patients with PTSD have seen remarkable success in using cannabis to treat panic symptoms and stress.

One thing I know for sure is it increased my paranoia big time. This got worse as time went on. As a teen there was very little paranoia but over the years it got to the point where I wasn’t enjoying the high because it caused me too much stress. I would spend my high constantly battling my delusional thoughts. I thought people and especially the police were after me. I thought there were hidden cameras and recording devices in my electronics. I wouldn’t use the computer and I would turn my phone off as I truly believed I was being tracked. Even now I believe we’re under constant surveillance but this isn’t my head playing tricks, there is actual some truth to this conspiracy. 

People say it relaxes them and helps them sleep but I found the opposite. The levels of paranoia were always at their worse when I hadn’t smoked for some time and then had a puff. Because it wasn’t in my system it would hit me hard. I’m sure this is the same for all pot smokers. The more I smoked the less high and paranoid I would get. I put myself through this torment for so many years. It has only been over the last 8 months without smoking that I feel better for it. I still get paranoid but nothing like what I experienced on THC.

One positive thing to say about weed is it never got me into any trouble like it’s friend alcohol. Alcohol is a far more menacing intoxicant.

#072 – The End Is Near!

It’s confirmed! I will be getting discharged from the hospital tomorrow afternoon. I made the decision last night so I told the nurses to let Gem (psychiatrist) know my intentions to leave. He came in to see me after lunch and was completely happy to let me go. I knew he would be fine but I thought he might have suggested I stay another few nights. Three weeks is usually the length of my patience. Small things start bothering me like staff and patients, what’s in the sandwiches, the colour of someones socks etc. I start getting bothered by everything. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be a non-voluntary patient where home isn’t an option until the powers that be deem you safe to leave.

I’m looking forward to getting home to do the small things I miss. Keeping my own hours, managing my own medications, smoking after 10pm, seeing my dog and hopefully get into some art.

As I’m typing this I am in the lounge watching a movie (Bridesmaid) with other people! I wouldn’t have been able to do this at the start of my stay so there has been some progress. I just hope I don’t fall back into hibernation mode when I return home. There used to be some anxiety when it came to leaving the hospital but I’m totally comfortable. I’ve done this enough times to know what to expect.

#071 – I Could Have It Worse

As bad off as I am and I don’t like making comparisons but there are some people doing it a lot harder than myself. The psychiatric ward is a good reminder of this. Over the years I have met so many people with different illnesses at different levels of severity. Most have mental health issues that are brought on by things that are circumstantial. Some patients are here because they suffer from chronic and constant pain which brings on major depression. Their quality of life must be hell. I’ve met a few people who were terminal too. There is a lady in here who has debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. I really feel for her because all she can do is walk around in the ward shaking, crying, sweating and unable to sleep. She is the nicest lady but she is so far gone. She put’s up with this all day every day. There is also a girl in her twenties with anorexia and she like me was in the ICU ward at the Melbourne Clinic. Then there is the morbidly obese woman who can hardly get on and off the couch.

Most of the patients are in here because they have a chemical imbalance in their brain. Depression is common but I think anxiety patients are up there too. You learn to read people rather quickly as to what their diagnosis is. Bipolar is another big one. There are always a high percentage of people going through bipolar. Schizophrenia is a little less common. Schizophrenics who take Clozapine are even rarer. Only one percent of the population suffer from this illness and only a fraction of the one percent take Clozapine. Do the math!

We all suffer in our own ways. It comes down to how you handle yourself. Medication can only get you so far. My life is peachy compared to some people. I should be thankful.

#070 – MDMA as Therapy

Usually when we think of MDMA, Molly’s, Ecstasy, or Methamphetamine in the context of toxicology, we think of poisoning and overdose.  This blog is about the opposite, the treatment of depression and anxiety with very low doses of these methamphetamine-derived substances. And the results have been surprising good.The federal government has announced it will pour millions of dollars into clinical trials using psychedelics like magic mushrooms and MDMA to see if they can help treat debilitating mental illnesses.

The government is investing $15 million in grants to support Australian-led research into the use of magic mushrooms, ecstasy and ketamine to combat illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, addiction disorders and eating disorders.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said it was vital the government continued to search for new and better treatments for mental illness.

“The early results of trials in Australia and internationally are extremely encouraging,” he said.

“But more research is desperately needed before these approaches can be used by psychiatrists outside of controlled clinical trials.

“This grant opportunity will boost local research into potentially life-saving therapies and offers hope to all those suffering from mental illness, including our veterans and emergency service personnel dealing with the devastating effects of PTSD.”

It’s estimated 4 million Australians experience a mental health disorder every year, and almost half of all Australians will be affected at some point in their lifetime.

Many of the standard treatments for these illnesses vary greatly in how effective they are, and there haven’t been many major pharmaceutical discoveries in this area in recent years.

At the same time, once dismissed as dangerous party drugs, psychedelics are gaining mainstream acceptance in the medical world as ways to treat mental illnesses such as depression and PTSD.

The idea of treating mental illness with psychedelics has been around for a while (even centuries in some cultures), but there’s been a gap in the research into their potential use as a treatment for mental illnesses because they were declared prohibited substances in the 1960s.

Australia’s national medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, currently doesn’t recognise MDMA and psilocybin as legitimate medicines to treat psychiatric conditions.

But that could change, depending on these trial results.

Worldwide, there are currently about 100 psychedelic trials for the treatment of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug-use disorders, dementia, anorexia and chronic pain.

Psilocybin-assisted therapy for depression and MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD have been given “breakthrough therapy” designation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States.

That means the FDA believes the therapies may offer substantial advantages over current therapies, and have therefore been expedited in their transition to prescribed medicines (although it hinges on the results from clinical trials).

RANZCP president John Allan said while further research was required to assess the safety and effectiveness of psychedelics, preliminary studies showed positive results.

“We are seeing limited but emerging evidence that psychedelic therapies may have therapeutic benefits in the treatment of a range of mental illnesses, such as PTSD substance abuse and depression,” he said.

#069 – The Stigma of Schizophrenia

Have you ever been feeling sad, and someone tells you to get over it? Have you ever been anxious, and someone tells you to just stop worrying? Have you ever been labelled depressed, bipolar, psycho? Have you ever been told your emotions were a phase? That if you tried harder, it would improve?

It is alarming that if I woke up tomorrow with a disease of the mind, I may be treated differently by those around me, that my employment opportunities may diminish or that I could find it particularly difficult to find affordable and efficient treatment; but if I woke up tomorrow with a disease of the body, I would be surrounded by love and support, with positive attitudes directed toward my recovery and hopes I would be able to live a full and happy life despite my diagnosis.

This is the reality mental illness sufferers go through. This is the stigma associated with mental health. Mental illness has been hard to comprehend for our world, seen by some as something the sufferer can control, something that is self-inflicted, something that is the sufferers’ fault. 

What is Stigma? Defined as “a mark of shame, disgrace or disapproval which results in an individual being rejected, discriminated against, and excluded from participating in a number of different areas of society”by the World Health Organisation, stigma simply marks an individual as different in a negative way.

A good example of this was when I was kicked out of a shared accommodation house simply because I opened up and told one of the ladies I had schizophrenia. I did nothing wrong and we all got along fine for the two weeks I was there but their attitude changed when I told them of my diagnosis. I learnt a lesson. I very rarely tell people the illness I go through.

#068 – Hypochondria

I’m such a hypochondriac. As I’ve gotten older it has become worse. As a kid I would like getting unwell because it meant the day off school. These days I worry about every ache and pain. From head to toe I get overwhelmed with the sensation that I’m dying. I’m almost convinced of this. I’ll get a headache and it means brain cancer, I have pains in my neck, I have wisdom teeth that need to be removed, I stress about the damage cigarettes have caused to my body, I think I have stomach ulcers, I am sometimes certain I have testicular cancer, my liver isn’t in the best of shape because of my drinking and I have a beer gut. 

I don’t do anything to help myself. I smoke cigarettes, I drink a lot of beer, my diet is poor, I don’t exercise and I don’t do medical appointments in fear of getting bad news. I have been due for an echocardiogram for the last six months but because I have some very minor chest pain I am terrified that the doctor will have bad news for me. There is a history of cardio issues on my dad’s side of the family.

The other major fear I have is being put under. I dread the thought of being anesthetised. This scares me more than the actual operation. I know it’s silly and that it is just like being in a deep sleep but this doesn’t ease my fears. Maybe I’m perfectly healthy and all of this is in my head?

#067 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 18

Enough is enough! I haven’t spoken to Gem (psychiatrist) but I have told the nurses I want to be discharged in a few days. I have gained all I can which hasn’t been much. I’ve had some slight medication changes and some timeout from the outside world but it’s now time to go home and adjust to life outside of hospital. I haven’t spoken to Gem but I’m sure he won’t have any issues with this. There’s no point in keeping me here if I don’t want to be here. All I’m doing here is what I could be doing at home.

I’ll miss Claire who is a lady I have spent most of my time with. I spend ninety percent of my time in the common area and so does she so we have spent a lot of time chatting and getting to know each other. We might swap Facebook details but I know from all of my past visits and discharges we won’t see or hear from each other again. This is the nature of hospital admissions. As for the other patients… they won’t be missed.

#066 – Insomnia and Sleeping Medication

My sleeping patterns have always been all over the place. Even as a kid I’d love to stay up as late as I could. My insomnia is similar to my drinking – It’s off and on. I never go two nights without sleep but I regularly stay up all night and the following day. I usually try for hours to drift off but instead I toss and turn with a million thoughts going through my mind. It get’s to a point, usually abound two or three in the morning, and I give up trying. I’ll either watch YouTube, watch crappy late night television or read a book. I’ll start drinking coffee as I know there is no chance of sleep anyway. There’s something romantic about being awake through the night. Nobody to bother me and beautiful silence. Once I’ve made the commitment to go sleepless I make sure I don’t sleep or take naps the following day. I always sleep well on the second night.

I’ve tried plenty of sleeping aids for many years. As a kid I would take valarium which is natural and did nothing to help. I was put on diazepam and Temazepam which are benzodiazepines but these didn’t help either. When I went to the Melbourne Clinic Professor Burrows (Blog #008) put me on Imovane and Stilnox. He never told me the dangers of these drugs. On one occasion after taking Stilnox I found myself driving on the freeway about twenty minutes from home. When I came to my senses I couldn’t figure out where I was going and I couldn’t remember getting in the car or the drive to where I was at? I had basically sleepwalked or sleep-driven for twenty minutes! This scared the crap out of me. I later researched Stilnox and there are a tonne of similar stories often involving driving. My mate got up during the night and cooked dish washing liquid on the frying pan and remembered nothing of it.

These days I take Clozapine (Blog #009) This does the job most of the time but sometimes it fails on me. I also take melatonin which works well and while I’ve been in hospital I have been taking Mogadone (Nitazepam) but this is starting to wear off like all benzo’s do. (Blog #041)

#065 – Alcoholics Anonymous

I’m not a fan! I haven’t been to AA in years and when I was attending it was because I was in rehab and were were all urged to go to meetings (Blog #007)It never helped me in any way what so ever. I would never participate I would just site there and listen to peoples war stories. I didn’t feel as if I belonged there. Because I was a new face I would always be selected to go up and talk but I reneged on each occasion. I have problems talking to people on a one to one basis. How the hell was I going to build the confidence to talk to thirty people. There was once when I was high off a heap of diazepam that I considered talking but luckily I wasn’t selected. 

My relationship with alcohol is different to most of the people there. I’ve brought this up in a few blogs but compared to some of the folks I’ve met… I’m a lightweight. My dozen beers didn’t come close to three bottles of vodka a day that some would consume. I wasn’t a every day drinking either. I’m a binge drinker. A lot of the people who attend were pissed anyways. This isn’t to play down my difficulties with drinking but I must admit it made me feel that maybe it wasn’t the big problem I saw as being. Making comparisons can be dangerous.

I have a mate and I have an uncle that treat it like a religion which is great! Their not drinking so if this helps then all the power to them. As with all support groups – I have little time for them. I’ve had alcohol counselling and I would stop the bottle shop on the way home. It all comes down to me! Nobody, AA or support groups can stop me from drinking. I’ve tried all avenues and there not for me!

#064 – Effexor (Venlafaxine) Withdrawals

Effexor, also known as venlafaxine, is a prescription drug used to treat major depression and anxiety disorders. A selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, the drug helps balance the chemicals in the human brain that cause depression. Because of the drug’s profound impact on the brain’s chemistry, stopping the medication can lead to Effexor withdrawal, causing symptoms like nausea, vomiting and mood swings.

I personally didn’t experience any withdrawals aside from ‘brain zaps’ which I would get if I missed two or more doses. These were terrible. The only way I can described these is an electrical shock that races through your head to your feet. It only lasts a second or two but they happen frequently. They usually last a few days. Very unpleasant. 78% of people coming off Effexor report ‘brain zaps’. As with all drugs this medication may cause the following:

  • Anxiety 
  • Insomnia and nightmares
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness and nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Vertigo
  • Mood swings and depression
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Muscle spasms and electric shock sensations
  • General restlessness
  • Headache

I have been on a lot of antidepressants and high doses and NEVER had any withdrawals like what I experienced with Venlafaxine. I was taking a large dose too. I was on 450mg so this probably made the withdrawals more severe? I started taking this medication when I was 15. That’s 22 years ago!

#063 – Golconda Avenue

I met Sarah in rehab (Blog #099) in 2013. We formed a relationship and once we finished the rehab program we moving into a rental on Golconda Avenue in Frankston. It wasn’t long before I called things off and soon after Sarah moved out. My brother moved in and that didn’t work well at all. We don’t really get along and he had zero tolerance to my excessive drinking and pot smoking. After a while he moved out and my mate Matt from the Seaford Program (Blog #059) moved in with his brother Dan. This worked out well at first. The three of us were drinkers and smokers. With the three of us contributing to rent and the bills it made living affordable but what we saved was spent on alcohol and pot.

Matt was a pretty hardcore drinker. Our relationship was strained when he went sober and took AA very seriously. I wasn’t ready to quit at that stage and the house became tense. He didn’t try to stop me from drinking but we stopped socialising as we normally did. He’s keep in his room while Dan and I did the things we did. Dan would drink but not to the limits his brother and I did. He was more into his smoking. Dan and I haven’t caught up for a while but I’d consider him a friend. We get along well.

After living together for maybe a year things went bad for me. I was psychotic and was convinced the house was haunted. I was having both auditory and visual hallucinations. It freaked me out to the point where I couldn’t continue living there. I immediately starting to pack. I figured I’d briefly live with the folks until I found accommodation elsewhere. I never moved out of the folks. I’m still there today. I lived a Golconda for about 5 years. There are things I miss about living there but it was a toxic atmosphere. The other problem was our weed dealer lived directly across the street which was too convenient. I haven’t smoked pot in months and doubt I ever will again.

#062 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 17

I’m losing patience with some of my fellow residents. Spending  so much time around other nuts can become exhausting I get along with a few people very well. I’ve been socialising with some of the rehab patients too. 

There’s on lady who drives me crazy. She has schizophrenia too but she insists on bothering the staff and other patients. Nothing she says makes sense and she talks about ten different topics in one sentence. Here thinking is all over the shop. She is a nice enough girl and I should go easier on her but I just don’t have the patience to deal with her. She went out to buy me smokes so she does come in handy… I’m such as user!

And then there is Karen. A 51 year old morbidly obese woman who needs a walking frame to get around. She has suffered heart attacks. She has diabetes, she smokes like a chimney, she eats multiple deserts, she has emphysema and shes an alcoholic. She frustrates me because she simply doesn’t care about her health what so ever. I don’t have respect for people who let themselves go. She won’t be around too much longer.

Sam is from rehab. He’s a real likeable character and gets along with everyone. He too has bought me smokes. I can talk to him for extended intervals which I can’t do with most people. He watched the footy with me last night (Bombers lost by one point) He’s just easy to talk to.

There are a lot of oldies in here at the moment. I enjoy the company of the elderly but this group keep to themselves and rarely leave their rooms. I prey to God I’m not in a psychiatric ward when I’m in my seventies or eighties. 

I’m only going to be in here for the next five days or so. It’s always hard saying goodbye to a handful of patients but the rest I couldn’t care less. I’ve done this too many times to know I keep in contact with almost nobody from my previous visits. There is Sarah who is one of my only friends. We met in rehab back in 2013. We dated and rented a house together but the relationship fell apart. We still talk regularly. She is the only person I keep in contact with.

#061 – Art Therapy

I have always had a passion for art. From a young child I was drawing and painting. I remember as a kid I would get Derwent pencils for my birthday and Christmas and I thought I’d hit gold. Art was the only subject at school that I was any good at and got top marks and I also took lessons outside of school which I loved. In my mid teens I developed a love of oil paint on stretched canvas. I was working at Macca’s and my whole pay check would go towards art supplies. I had a mate who had a rather eccentric dad who was an artist and would hoard paints that he would never use so my mate would pass them on to me.

I went to art school at the MSA and did a two year diploma course in graphic design and visual communications. These were the best couple of years of my life. The course was mostly computer based where I learnt Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Fireworks, Dreamweaver and Quark Express. There was also a photography class where I learnt how to use a camera and I developed all of my photos in a darkroom. These were the days before smart phones and home printers. Now the whole world is full of photographers because everyone has a phone with a built in camera in their pockets. There was also a business management class but what I enjoyed the most was the fine art classes.

I had a fantastic teacher, Gerard, who took me under his wing. I was the youngest student having left high school so early. He could see that I had a passion for the classes he taught. He would stay after class with me sometimes for hours. He introduced me to MC Escher.

Once I received my diploma I started my own business in web and print design. The computer side of things was fine and I really enjoyed this but my anxiety was causing me too many difficulties when it came to dealing with clients so the business started going down hill to the point where I only did work for friends and family. It’s a shame because I was really good with design. I had a few good clients too – A wine company, a large architecture firm, and a real estate company which was great because it was ongoing work as updates needed to be made often. Today with sites like Squarespace anyone can create a website. Art has always been a constant. As much as I enjoy sitting behind the computer screen my true passion was my good old friend… art!

I mostly use oils and acrylics on large scale canvases. I never pushed my art to the point that I could make money from it but I sold several pieces and had my art shown at a couple of exhibitions including Federation Square in Melbourne. Once I put out on the footpath a heap of canvases I wasn’t happy with in the hard rubbish. Hard rubbish is for junk that is too large for the bins. That night someone must have spotted them and took them home. It’s funny to think that they could possibly be on someones walls! The last exhibition I entered work into I sold all three pieces before the opening night.

I used to throw art nights in my old mans shed where I would buy tonnes of supplies and everyone would create throughout the night. These were good times. It would always be interesting to see what everyone had painted the following day. There may or may not have been the consumption of intoxicants. 

Painting is a costly hobby. Every time I go to the art store to buy a few paints I always end up spending hundreds of dollars which is not ideal for someone on a limited income. The idea has never been to make a million dollars but if I can make enough money to cover costs I’m usually happy. I don’t do it for the money. I find the process therapeutic. I sometimes find the process more rewarding than the final product.

There are some paintings here in the hospital created by local artists. I’m usually not overly impressed by local art but there are two paintings here at the moment that have blown me away! It’s got me inspired to get back into the swing of things once I’m discharged. Pull out that credit card again Dave! The last few months I haven’t had the creative juices flowing. At times it feels more like a chore than something pleasurable so this is when I need to take a break and separate myself from the art. 

#060 – Antipsychotics And Weight Gain

I was always thin in my youth and twenties. I was fit too. I weighed myself the other day and I’m now over the hundred kilo mark. Most of this is my stomach. I wish it was more evenly distributed to my arms and legs but it’s just my gut. Some of this could be because of all the beer I was drinking but it seemed to kick in as soon as I started medication. I started to notice this especially when I started Clozapine. People have said to me that I’m not too overweight considering I’m on Cloz because it has a tendency to make people who take it into bigger people. 

Before I came into hospital I was doing a little exercise but I hate it so much. I loath having to do anything strenuous and I really have to push myself. I’m going to make a conscious effort to do more workouts once I leave hospital and hopefully get myself into better shape.

#059 – The Seaford Program

About ten years ago I found accommodation in a mental health program that supported people with mental illness issues. Now that I look back at my time there I cringe. It was like being at school again. I was put into a unit with a guy called Matt. He was a nice but complicated chap. Years later we were to live together in a rental in Frankston and we are are still mates even though we don’t see each other anymore. At the time he was having difficulties with his schizophrenia and sported a beard and long hair. We got along mostly because we were both drinkers and became drinking buddies. These days he is sober and doing AA.

I met some characters during this two year period. I made friendships but none of them lasted. One of my mates I lived with killed himself, one was a heroin addict and almost everyone there smoked pot on a daily basis. I think I lived with half a dozen different people – all of them unwell.

The program was structured so there would be activities to do during the day. I was allocated a case manager who would often go out for coffee with me and come around to my unit for a chat. I went through a couple of these people. We would be forced to attend groups which I hated. Most of the time I would be hungover from both booze and medication. It was always a group of us who attended these activities and I felt like I was part of a freak show every time we were in public. I was unwell but some of the people in the group were embarrassingly psychotic.

I hate being told what to do and I often had to fight the programs management. One of my other frustrations was how they monitored how much we were drinking. I was an adult! It was like living at home with my parents.

At the end of the day it was a roof over my head and cheap rent. I definitely don’t miss it. Since then I have lived in shared accommodation with over twenty different people. Some worked out but most didn’t. If I had my way I would live by myself. This would be ideal but costly for someone on a pension.

#058 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 16

I wonder if I’ll ever get better? I look back over the last 15 years and I don’t feel like I’ve made any progress over this time. I’ve tried every medication under the sun, spent hours talking to psychiatrists and been hospitalised so many times I’ve lost count… and for what!? If anything has improved it’s the manner in which I manage all of my symptoms. I’ve got good insight into my illness (Blog #045) and I’m in control for the best part of the time. I hope I’m always going to be able to differentiate between reality and wonderland. It’s a scary thought that things could possibly get worse.

My shrink has put in my notes that I am to leave the hospital and take walks more often. He also wants me to do the groups. I’ve been adamant in the past that I was not to do groups but I’m a little more open to it this time around. It’s not like I’m doing anything else with my time. I’ve partaken in so many groups in the past that they do little for me. I guess a little re-enforcement doesn’t hurt. I’m only doing what I’m told.

#057 – Alcohol – Part 3

This is a continuation of (Blog #050) This entry will cover where I’m at currently. My last stint without drinking was several months ago. I went a couple of months without a drink with the help of Antabuse (Blog #019) This is the medication that prevents you from drinking. The simple question to ask is why don’t I go back on it? I guess this is because it lasts in your system for a couple of weeks and I don’t like the idea of not drinking during that period of time. I can make a deal with myself not to drink for the day but I can’t look into the future and guarantee I won’t be needing a drink if something stressful pops up. So I stopped taking it and started drinking again. Still strictly beer but I was drinking about a dozen a day.

My routine would be to go to the bottle shop each morning at 10am. I would always make the same purchase. 12 beers please! It’s kinda embarrassing when the clerks know what it is you are about to purchase. I’m one of their most valued customers! It wasn’t always this early. Because I’d do my best to hide it from my folks, who I’m living with at the moment, I would visit the store whenever they were at work or doing whatever it was the were doing. If they didn’t leave the house that day I would tell them I was going for a run and I would run but I ran to the bottle shop. I would buy the usual, come home and place the goods at the side of the house and as soon as they went to bed I would sneak outside and bring them into my room. I wrote a blog on how sneaky alcoholics can be (Blog #047) The problem was beers bottles start to accumulate and I was running out of places to put them. I couldn’t use the recycling bin as the old’s would notice so I would let them collect under my bed, in my closet, in the shed, around the garden and I would sometimes use other peoples bins.

I touched on this in an earlier blog but it’s important for me not to make comparisons. I’ve met and talked to a lot of hardcore alcohols that drink A LOT more than I do. It makes me look like I’m drinking water compared to what they were consuming. Amounts that would kill most people. Me included!

I have been sober for over two weeks now and I’m feeling great! I have no urges to drink at all at the moment. I’m in hospital but this has never stopped me in past admissions to cease drinking. I would take leave every day, drink, come back slightly intoxicated and sometimes I would go out for a second round. I was only caught out once and that was my stupid fault for getting all emotional with the night nurse who could smell the alcohol on my breath.

Not to use this as an excuse but ninety percent of the time I would drink to combat my mental issues. Sometimes the med’s and counselling simply doesn’t work and alcohol is always there. It does work to a certain point but when it is overdone it can do the opposite and make my symptoms worse. If only I could keep it to a few beers!

At this point, as I sit here in a psychiatric ward, I don’t want to go home to my old habits. My bedroom has been cleaned out by my folks and all the bottles are gone. My medication is almost where it should be and even though I have always told myself that the beer wasn’t effecting my med’s I’m sure it was. I’m not sure about the Antabuse? We’ll see how my willpower treats me. It’s let me down in the past!

I could continue to elaborate and write about the problems alcohol has caused me. All of the stupid decisions, lost friendships, embarrassing situations it has caused, the money I’ve spent, the damage to my body and the loss of respect but I could write another thousand pages. It feels good to get a lot of this of my chest. It won’t come as a surprise to most people including my parents that most of this occurred but hopefully it won’t scare off the people who know me but didn’t realise the problem with alcohol I had/have. I hope they understand.

#056 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 15

They forgot my med’s! I fell asleep and the nurses somehow managed to get sidetracked and I didn’t get my Clozapine dose. It’s not as if the nurses are ran off their feet and their main job is to give out medication. It’s not hard. I thought Gem (psychiatrist) would be pissed off as he was on a previous occasion when this happened but he was laid back about it. I took a maintenance dose during the day – just 100mg – which put me to sleep. It’s not easy sleeping during the day in the room I am in. It is a four bed room but I’m the only patient in it because of Covid. The problem is I’m right next to the nurses station so there is plenty of muffled chatter constantly.

The footy is back on. I’ve missed it. I don’t like the off season. Richmond beat the Blues. I’m a mad Bombers supporter. I’m also in the tipping which always makes it interesting. I haven’t been to game in years. My illness restricts me from crowded places. I even find doing the groceries a task.

It looks like I will be going home in a weeks time. Gem still wants to play with my med’s. The story of my life!

#055 – Schizophrenia or Religious Belief?

For many people religion is one way that we understand the world and give meaning to our lives and certainly religion and spirituality play an important part in many people’s experiences of schizophrenia. For some sufferers religious delusions or intense religiously-based irrational thinking may be a component of their symptoms, for instance they may believe that they have been sent by God to become a great prophet. However for other people religion and spirituality play an important role in their recovery process. They may find that their spiritual beliefs and practices help them to make sense of the world in a way that they could not when they were suffering from psychotic delusions and that membership of a supportive faith community provides vital fellowship when faced by the everyday problems of living with a serious mental health condition….

http://livingwithschizophreniauk.org/religious-spiritual-delusions-schizophrenia/

I was brought up Catholic. I went to Catholic schools and I went to Sunday mass. I took it seriously. I would prey and read the bible. I fell for it hook, line and sinker. My mum who took me to church lost her faith somewhere along the line. Dad on the other hand never had faith and only went to church in the early days because mum would pressure him. I was in high school and lost all connection to Catholicism even when I went to religious studies in a Catholic school.

I never lost complete faith. I was a lukewarm Christian. This basically means I lived the life I wanted to live and followed my own rules while at the same time having a small belief in Christ and his commandments. I was even a fan of Marilyn Manson, Korn, Nine Inch Nails and Slipknot whilst calling myself a Christian. I would live this way through my later teens and early twenties.

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed that my faith reignited. To this day I battle with my spirituality. I go through phases. One minute I find myself preying every day, I question everything I do and ponder weather Jesus would approve of my choices, I would read the King James Version of the Bible which made no sense to me what so ever, I even went to church on a few occasions which I gained nothing from. It was a bunch of old people singing songs and going through the sacraments that also made no sense to me. I didn’t feel any better when it was over. Why does Jesus demand worship? Isn’t this a little narcissistic?

I have studied other religions. One of my favourite reads of all time is The Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying which is book on Buddhism. I have also read literature on Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and I have even touched on the occult – The Satanic Bible, Wicca, Aleister Crowley, Anton LaVey, Tim Leary etc. I don’t touch these topics anymore. They collect dust on my bookshelf. 

The question is: Is this indoctrination or part of schizophrenia? Am I gaining points for following Christ or am I wasting my life away following rules that don’t even apply?

I get auditory hallucinations from demonic entities. They tell me all sorts of awful things and steer me away from religion. Weather these are real or not they seem legitimate. Why don’t I get any good voices telling me good things and if God is really there why doesn’t he intervene?

Then their are the questions almost everyone has: Why does God allow bad things to happen? What about the billions of people who follow different religions? Reincarnation? Out of body experiences? Psychedelics and hallucinogens that can cause religious experiences? The paranormal?

I figure all you can do is be a good person. Treat all people with love. Prey if that works for you and let’s see what happens?

#054 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 14

Two weeks! How time flies. I think this admission is coming to a close. Gem (psychiatrist) is still playing with my med’s (story of my life). He has increased the antidepressant Lexapro which will take weeks to kick in. As always, my Clozapine has been slightly increased. I am still taking Nitezepam but I’ll be ceasing this medication once I leave hospital unless I somehow convince Gem to keep me on it as a outpatient. If only benzo’s weren’t so bloody addictive! People that get addicted ruin for the people like me who have no dependency to them at all. I also take a three monthly injection of Ivega Trinza. This is a pain in the arse (as that’s where it is inserted)

I’m guessing I’ll be here for another week. Ten days at the most. I always know when it’s time to leave. There’s no point in keeping people here that don’t want to be here. I missing home a bit. Just the simple things like managing my own medication and seeing my dog. All in good time!

#053 – My Tinfoil Hat

I’m a conspiracy theorist through and through. I know this is sometimes a symptom of schizophrenia but I tend to only believe in conspiracies that are provable. I’m not one of these these people who believes the earth is flat which is a theory that is gaining popularity and I’m not sure if the world is run by reptilians. I also don’t fall for a conspiracy unless I have done my research. Over the last decade I have read numerous books and watched tonnes of videos on YouTube (before it became ridiculously censored) There is so much going on in the world and even if only a fraction of these conspiracies is true it’s enough to put the fear in you. This is a condensed post. There is so much to cover I could write pages on some of the below topics:

UFO’s and extraterrestrials, the new world order, chemtrails, the Illuminati, the Trilateral Commission, the Builderberg group, fluoride in the drinking water, martial law, crop circles, deep underground military bases, Area 51, FEMA camps, the federal reserve, the moon landing, the JFK assassination, subliminal advertising, Satanic cults, big pharma, secret societies, 5G, the pyramids of Giza, MK Ultra mind control, mass shootings that are staged by the government and the list continues.

My favourite ‘conspiracy’ of all time is 911. This is one that fascinates me. Unfortunately you won’t find any content on YouTube. Several years ago there were plenty of in depth videos but you won’t find these anymore. They were too threatening to the establishment. Read David Ickes book ‘ The Trigger’ and you will see the events that occurred on that day in a different light. As with so many other things the government has lied to us on so many different levels when it comes to these attacks. You can purchase his book here. It’s close to a thousand pages so some commitment is needed. The Trigger : The Lie That Changed the World Other authors I would recommend are Jim Marrs, William Cooper and Alex Jones.

I don’t think these interests are part of my illness. My psychiatrists might disagree. I simply have a passion for knowledge that for the most part is hidden from the public. We are under complete mind control produced by the government, major mainstream news stations and the television. It’s important to know this. You have to know your enemy.

#052 – Laxative Overdose

This blog is something you may not want to read. Whenever I’m in hospital I get bad constipation and on this visit it had been about ten days since I had any joy. I tried medications in the past that didn’t work so I would buy two litres of prune juice which did the job. On this occasion I was given a laxative bar by one of the nurses. I broke off a quarter of it which is equivalent to one dose. I was sceptical that it would work so in a couple of hours I ate the rest of it. A few hours after this I ate a whole bar so that was 8 does. Still nothing. I had given up hope. The following morning I was so unwell. I can’t remember being this sick ever. I had to stay in my room all day so I had the toilet near by. I had stomach aces, I was nauseous, I had the sweats. I was feeling like death. This lasted until mid-afternoon. My shrink has prescribed me some medication to take at night. I apologise… I may have given you more information than you cared to read! I learnt my lesson!

#051 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 13

I’m disappointed. I finally come across a medication that works well with me and my shrink tells me he is only going to prescribe them to me while I’m an inpatient at the hospital. The medication is Mogadone (Nitezepam) and it is a benzodiazepine (Blog #014) which means it’s addictive. Gem (psychiatrist) knows my history with abusing benzo’s which I’ll admit I have at times taken large doses but I have never had a physical addiction. I have never taken them on a daily basis. He only dishes out half a packet which hardly lasts me the week. My GP also prescribes them for me but he’s super careful too. It’s almost as if a drug is making you feel happy, it must be eliminated from the cocktail.

I have taken dozens of antidepressants and antipsychotics that do nothing to elevate your mood whats so ever and Gem is happy to dish out Clozapine which is one of the most dangerous drugs out there, yet he want’s me off the Mogadone. He suggested that he can write out scripts for 4 tablets at a time but this would mean I’d have to get myself to the pharmacy multiple times a week. This would be a pain in the arse! Do I need this medication this bad?

I’m not happy. Gem is a great psychiatrist but he’s strict on the med’s he prescribes. When I was under Professor Burrows care he would almost encourage the use of benzo’s. I could ask and receive whatever it was that I wanted (Blog #008)

#050 – Alcohol – Part 2

This is a continuation of Blog #045 which should be read first. I left off with my drinking at work. I got away with this for a long time. I was manager of a department at Coles. This came with some responsibilities including being in charge of around 15 staff members. It could at times be stressful. I’m not using this as an excuse as to why I drank but it helped. A couple of people smelt it on my breath and it was reported to the store manager who didn’t make a big deal about it but he brought it to my attention. I told him I would have a beer at the pub with my lunch. I lied! I didn’t tell him I was downing a six pack.

I left Coles soon after all of this so there was no opportunity to fire me. I went to another supermarket where I did the exact same thing. I was never caught out. I am able to play the roll of sobriety well when needed even when I’m well and truly intoxicated. It never occurred to me that I had a problem.

There was never a inappropriate time for me to drink. It didn’t matter what it was I was doing alcohol was always involved. In some circumstances drinking is almost expected of you especially in Australian culture. Births, deaths, weddings, Christmas, holidays, after a long day at work, weekends with mates, while watching the football. I took advantage of all of these but I would also drink alone. I was doing this more and more.

I thought I was safe if I only drank beer and sometimes wine. Very rarely do I drink anything else. I used to drink Smirnoff Black Ice cans but not often. Very occasionally I would drink a bottle of spirits but this has only happened maybe half a dozen times in my life. I always remember my uncle telling me as a teenager to stay on the beer and off the hard stuff and all would be fine. This tuned out to be untrue. All I drank was beer but I was drinking between 6 to 15 stubbies a day. This went on for a long time and I was starting to drink by myself frequently as I had lost my old drinking buddies. I lost all of my friends and a lot of family members mostly from being a drunk.

I feel like a lightweight when I compare myself to some of the people I met in rehab. It wasn’t uncommon for people to drink three bottles of vodka a day! This made my drinking seem like nothing! I’m not sure if this was good for me in that I figured I was fine and my drinking wasn’t an issue to my health or how I got through the day… after all it was just beer!

To be continued…..

#049 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 12

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you” – Joseph Heller

I sometimes think people are out to get me. The police always scare me. Sometimes when I’m out in public I think people are following me. I’m very conscious about being tracked on the phone and through the television and internet. There is some truth to the the internet. Big Brother is watching us. 1984 is happening right now.

As for today it is a Sunday so the nurses are limited, most of the patients, not that there are many of them, are all on day leave so I have the place to myself. This is how I like it. I settle into the place that is known as ‘Dave’s couch’ where I spend almost the whole day. At least I’m not hibernating in my room. I’m spending time around people which is not like me at all. Perhaps I’m getting better? Maybe the new med”s are starting to kick in? I’m feeling pretty well within myself which I haven’t said for a while. Maybe things are on the up?

#048 – My Current Psychiatrist

I have seen Gem for about 12 or 13 years. We go way back. It’s a strange relationship with shrinks as they know almost everything about you yet you know nothing about them. After all of this time I don’t even know if he has kids or if he is married? I know why it is: they don’t want the crazies like myself stalking them. He is very casual, he wears Nike Air Jordan’s, and is super laid back. We never go over old stuff. We don’t talk about my auditory hallucinations or my paranoia – what else is there to say about them after talking to him about these things for so many years? He’s more interested in how I’ve been travelling in general, if I’ve been smoking pot or drinking and we just have small talk about things way off topic of psychiatry. I sometimes wonder why I continue to see him but I am reminded that he can get me in and out of this hospital that I am currently in, he is authorised to prescribe me Clozapine and if I wasn’t under his care it would be another shrink who may be no better or worse.

As long as I’m compliant by taking my med’s and keeping my appointments he’s always friendly but also very professional. There have been times when I have pissed him off. Once I came back to the hospital drunk after drinking with my cousin. I spoke to the night nurse and broke down in tears. I was an emotional mess and the nurse was so concerned she rang Gem at home at 11:30pm. This didn’t go down well with Gem and he made it known the next day when I saw him. I was lucky not to be kicked out of the hospital and sent somewhere less desirable. There are occasions when I miss a blood test, don’t get my medication or miss appointments which upsets him too. For the best part of the time we get along well. i’m lucky to have him!

#047 – Us Alcoholics Can Be Sneaky Bastards

We can be sneaky bastards us alcoholics. We can be quite creative covering up our drinking. I would lie which is something I don’t do unless it comes down to my drinking. When I was asked if I had been drinking my standard response would be no or I’d play it down by saying in a casual voice ‘Yeah, I’ve had a couple’ when in reality I had consumer a whole heap more.

One of the problems with living with my folks is the fact I had nowhere to put my empties. I couldn’t put them in the recycling bin as it would fill too quick and the folks would notice so I started collecting them and putting them in rubbish bags in the shed, in my car, in my bedroom wardrobe and on bin night I would sneak around the neighbourhood using other peoples bins. Being an alcoholic is a full-time job!

I got real good at acting sober after I’d been drinking. I became real good at it. I would fight the urge to talk a lot, I would double check what it was that I wanted to speak about, I never ever get angry, aggressive, confrontational, If I thought I was obviously drunk and showing it I would keep away from people. The main thing that would give it away is if I was slurring my words.

My folks aren’t stupid. I’m sure there has been countless times that they knew I was intoxicated but didn’t bring it up. Every now and then they would ask if I’d been on a bender and if I was sober I would always own up to it. While I’m in hospital my mum told me she had cleaned out my room and removed 4 o 5 garbage bags of beer bottles. Busted! Thank God they are still wanting me to stay with them. A lot of parents wouldn’t put up with shit like that!

#046 – My Folks

My parents are saints! I don’t know where to begin when it comes to what I have put them through? From a very early age I gave them grief. The amount of concern I have caused them time and time again is ridiculous and in many ways selfish. Not all of this was my fault, I don’t like blaming my mental illness on some of the situations I found myself in but in most cases it was due to this. This and alcohol.

The amount of times they spent in emergency wards with me, the amount of travel they did to visit me when I was in different hospitals, the sleepless nights they had when I was a risk of hurting myself, all of the things they do for me on a weekly basis. Even things like picking up my med’s, doing the shopping for me, letting me stay with them when I was basically homeless. 

I’m living with them at the moment and have been for the last 18 months. It’s not ideal and a little embarrassing to be the age I am and staying with my folks but it works. We have learnt to live together and their happy to have me there (at least that’s what they tell me) They give me my space and they are even tolerant to my drinking. They hate it but they know there is a reason behind it. I mostly drink when I’m struggling with my health. They see this and have a certain amount of patience and understanding. I have my tea made for me every night. The utilities are taken care of. I pay rent but they make that more than affordable for me. I have it pretty good!

#045 – Alcohol – Part 1

This is such a big topic I honestly don’t know where to start. Alcohol! I could write a book on my relationship with booze. I’m going to break this down into different entries. This is part one. This is going to require some courage from my end as a lot of this is unknown to friends and family but the point of this blog is about being as upfront as possible and put my experiences down as truthfully as I can. A lot of what I am going to write about won’t come as a surprise to some, especially my folks who have witnessed me at my worst. I feel it is good therapy too. I’m going to have to do some digging and get into stuff that is uncomfortable for me to reflect on. I won’t write about my two stints in rehab as I have already covered this (Blog #007) Here we go!

There is alcoholism on my mums side of the family. All four of my uncles drink beer. A lot of beer. They would never admit to having problems and would never get treatment but I have one uncle who has been sober for a few years and does AA every day. I did several AA sessions when I was an inpatient in rehab and it didn’t take long for me to realise it wasn’t for me. I have nothing against it and if it helps some people get through the day then best of luck to them. My grandparents also enjoy a drink. My folks both enjoy a beer and glass of wine but it’s always limited to one or two. I can’t remember ever seeing my parents drunk.

I first got drunk on drinks called ‘Sub Zero’s which I don’t think exist anymore. I loved it! From that day on I would have a love relationship with alcohol. That’s all it took! This was on my mums 40th birthday so without deliberately giving away here age it was about 14 and I’m now 37. Alcohol has been a long term friend with the tendency to screw me over on a regular basis but we always make up.

As with most teenagers I would drink at parties but infrequently. Even at this early age I would always overdo it until I became sick. I was more into pot as a young chap. I would smoke a lot more than I drank and this would continue until I turned 18 which was when I was able to buy alcohol legally. Even then I didn’t do this too often. I wouldn’t drink by myself those days. I had friends back then (unlike now) and I would drink with them. I would frequent Crown casino and the Melbourne pubs, bars and nightclubs with a small group of friends I met while working at Coles. There was no moderation involved here! I had one mate who would go out with me three or four times a week and we would get so intoxicated we could barely walk. I did this, got a couple of hours of sleep and go straight to work. I was now drinking on the job. I would buy three long necks on my lunch break and go to the park where I would skull them down before returning an hour later. I did this a for a long time before people started seeing the signs. My boss brought it up more than once. I never lost a job through drinking.

To be continued in part 2….

#044 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 11

It’s 4:30am and I am wide awake. The nurses encourage me to go back to bed but I figure I might aw well be up doing something rather than tossing and turning in bed. I didn’t have as much joy on my new seeping med’s as the previous night. Typical bloody benzo’s. I build up a tolerance so quickly. It’s one of those medications I can see myself increasing once I’m home and out of hospitalisation. We’ll see what happens with that? I still don’t get how people get addicted to benzo’s especially people who are taking small doses of diazepam. I spend a lot of my day in the common area which is next to the nurses station where the hand out med’s. All day long people are hassling the nurses for valium with a lot of people pleading their case as to why they need it so bad. I’m written up valium but I have never taken advantage of it… not even once (Blog #014)

I went out to the beach with my old’s. Had coffee and drove around. I was only with them for an hour or so but I was keen to get back to the hospital. This place has become my second home. I have had 14 admissions and spent weeks, even years of my life in hospital. Where has it got me!? The days are adding up on this admission too. Day 12 and there’s no talk of going home yet. Gem (psychiatrist) will bring this up at some stage. I can leave whenever I feel ready… I’m just not there yet.

#043 – Psychoanalysis and Med’s as a Teenager

I was a messed up child and teenager. My folks sent me to a child psychologist when I was 15 and I went through psychoanalysis and was medicated. I was put on Venlafaxine (Effexor). My mum found a poem based around suicide in my wallet and this set off alarm bells. I had just got into Nirvana and idolised Kurt Cobain. I romanticised about suicide and Kurt was a good ambassador of this (Blog #018) Looking back I don’t think I was suicidal. I was just angry and going through some teenage angst. I would never have gone through with the act. Even now twenty years later I think about offing myself but I couldn’t leave the mess it would create behind. My voices tell me to harm and kill myself every hour of every day (Blog #032)

I didn’t think of it as being abnormal but I used to cut myself as a young kid too (Blog #029) This continued into my adult years where it escalated. I should also note that I went through a short goth phase when I’d listen to Marilyn Manson, Korn, Placebo etc. As with most teens that go through this stage I was just pissed off with the world and rebellious. Music can be some pretty powerful stuff!

#042 – I’m A Creature Of Habit

I’m a creature of habit. I don’t like being taken outside my comfort zone which at the moment is my room in the hospital. I just went out for an outing with my folks who I haven’t seen for almost a week. I was only with them for just over an hour and all I wanted to do was come back to the hospital, get some caffeine into me, have a cigarette, put my feet up and write a blog or two. I’m the same at home. I find it difficult to build the motivation to even walk the dog around the block. Things as simple as showering can be put on the back burner. I spend all of my time in my bedroom doing the things that make me happy. What does it matter what people do as long as it brings a certain amount of satisfaction. Weather this is through your work, exercise, playing golf or watching content on the computer while locked in your room. What does it matter?

My whole family works. My mum and little sister are both nurses and my Dad and younger brother are both chippies. I’m on a pension! I’m the let down of the family but this couldn’t/can’t be helped. They don’t suffer crippling mental health issues. I sometimes wonder if my brother has some underlying issues but being the way he is he would never admit this or get help for it. My sister was medicated when she was younger but no longer takes med’s. I have extended family who have different mental illnesses. I runs in the family. I just happens that my conditions seem to be more debilitating and screws with my life in a greater manner.

I’m falling off topic. My writing can be disconnected just the same as my thought process. What I was basically trying to say is my family keeps busy. They all have interests and friends outside of work too. In their eyes I’m wasting my life but as long as I don’t feel this way… whats the harm!?

#041 – I’m So Tied I Can’t Sleep – Mogadone (Nitazepam)

There is a chance my sleeping issues and insomnia have been cured! Last night I had my first dose of the sleeping medication Mogadone which is a benzodiazepine and it worked wonders. Why wasn’t I introduced to this years ago. I have taken Stilnox, Imovane, Temazapem, Chloral Hydrate, melatonin and natural sleeping aids but nothing has ever knocked me out like Mogadone. I have had sleeping problems since I was a kid and finally there seems to be some hope on the horizon. I’m hoping it doesn’t have much of a half life and it continue to work for me.

There nurse asked me if I wanted 5 or 10mg recommending that I take the smaller dose to see how I handle it. Don’t be silly I thought. I have been on dozens of meds and nothing has ever knocked me out (With an exception of Clozapien – Blog #009) I took the full 10mg and withing 20 minutes it kicked in. I took it during a movie a group of us was watching and I had to excuse myself because I could barely keep my eyes open. I took it a 9pm – an hour before my Clozapine and by the time I was due for the cloz I could hardly get off my bed. I slept from 10:30 to 8:30 without waking once. No hangover either. JOY!

#040 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 10

I’m starting to wonder what the point of these daily blogs on my activities is. There is little to report on. I was up early.. at about 5am and I didn’t nap. This makes for long days. I’m starting a new sleeping medication tonight to battle my insomnia. Because there is structure and routine in here my sleep is somewhat better than when I’m at home.

Gem (psychiatrist) came in and we had a chat about some options I have when it comes to the crippling anxiety I get which worsens as the day progresses. He increase the Lexapro (antidepressant) to two a day which will hopefully help. I have nothing to loose. I don’t have any side effects and it doesn’t make me drowsy  or screw with my head. It’s hard to say if the dose I was on was doing anything for me. It hasn’t made me into a happy, bubbly person that is for sure.

There hasn’t been any talk of discharge yet. I think we are still in the early days of my stay. I’m fine with this at this point but we’ll see how I’m travelling in another week or two. I’m not home sick. I feel safe here.

#039 – My D.U.I

One of my more embarrassing moments was when I lost my licence through drink driving. This happened over a decade ago but I’m still ashamed to talk about it. Let me start by saying I NEVER drink drive. I learnt my lesson and am always very conscious as to how much I drink before getting behind the wheel. I have a limit of two beers which would keep me below the limit.

I was pulled over late one night and blew reading. I can’t remember what I blew but it was probably about double the limit. I was taken to the police station where I was given a secondary test which I obviously failed. I was perfectly behaved and compliant. I watch some of these cop television shows where the drunk driver is abusive and hard work. Then there are the others who laugh their way through it. I was respectful and took it very seriously as I knew the trouble I was in.

I was released that night but that was only the start of my problems. What they don’t tell you is that you get a decent fine, loose your licence for six months, have to go to court, have to get an alcohol interlock device fitted – and recalibrated monthly at a costs, go to a two session drink driving program and then a second visit before the judge to get the interlock removed and get your licence back. Then it’s a further six months of driving at a zero reading. It’s all a big ordeal. Not to mention the money it costs in taxi’s and the bother it causes others who have to transport you around.

Like I said… I learnt my lesson and I know it won’t happen again.

#038 – Insight Into My Illness

I think I have good insight into my illness. I’m often reassured by people that I come across as being ‘normal’ and I’m sure they wouldn’t have any reason to believe that I’m different in any way unless they spent some time with me and knew my history. My scars (Blog #29) sometimes gives it away.

When I’m overwhelmed with my auditory hallucinations I’m sure I appear vacant and not connected to the environment around me. I sometimes have to excuse myself from conversations I’m having because it feels as if I’m listening to two people speak at once. I hope they don’t think I’m being rude. As far as the voices go I understand that they aren’t real most of the time. I understand I have schizophrenia and the voices are one symptom of the illness but I sometimes wonder if there is some truth to them. (Blog #032)

I know people can’t read my thoughts and I can’t read theirs but it doesn’t make the sensation any easier to manage. Sometimes I’m so tuned into what I ‘think’ people are thinking I drop out of ‘reality’. I can pull myself out of this and I do almost every time it happens but as it happens, trust me, it seems real!

Nobody would know when I’m paranoid. My anxiety attacks are a little more obvious because I get the shakes and I sometimes find it hard to string sentences together. My shakes get so bad that I cant write or even make a cup of coffee without making a mess.
I have always been able to hide my depression. I don’t suffer from severe depression but I’m never a happy person. I’ve been medicated for this since I was 15 and I was a miserable child. I’ve had a long time to practice the smiley face.

#037 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 9

I’m starting to realise that this whole blog is basically for me. It gets very few views and I don’t give out the site address to people I know. It’s like a personal diary. From day one the main purpose of the blog was a tool to keep me busy during the long days in hospital so I don’t go insane with boredom.

I finally got the sleep in I had been chasing. I slept until 8:30. I woke up feeling good and I only had the one small nap during the day. I still haven’t needed the sleeping medication. I’ve had no difficulties in getting to sleep… I just wake early.

Gem (psychiatrist) came in to see me. Nothing new there. As usual he wanted to increase my Clozapine. I’m now taking a dose with tea. Only a small one so it won’t knock me about too bad.

I’m starting to meet some cool people. Sam who is my age and doing the rehab program has been someone cool to talk to. Just a likeable character. He was a 4 bottles of wine a night guy. There has been a few people leave today but nobody that I will miss.

I’m note sure at this early stage how long I will be in for. I usually start missing home after a couple of weeks. I don’t feel like there is any urgency. I always know when I’m ready to leave. There’s no point in them keeping me here if I don’t want to be here.

#036 – Prying Open My Third Eye

This is another post I was reluctant to share. The whole point of this site is to be as honest as I can be. There are obviously going to be some secrets that I’m not going put out to the world but I am anonymous and this site has very few hits. So sorry mum and dad but this post will be on my illicit drug use. I want to make a more detailed blog on weed so I’ll exclude that from this post.

Outside of weed my drug use was always just casual. I never developed any addictions and I only did them on occasions. I never did any hard drugs either, depending what you classify as hard, but I never did heroin or DMT. I was lucky enough to never come into contact with them. I count my lucky stars I never took an addictive drug… I lie, I smoke cigarettes which are the most addictive things known to man. For someone who has done so much research on drugs there was very little use with most of these.

I did acid twice – both ending in disaster. I tried ice and cocaine once. The only drug I used outside of weed was MDMA. This was done over a six moth period. I went to a couple of raves which are pointless if you weren’t under the influence of something and I sometimes took it when I was painting to enhance the creative process. There are a lot of benefits to taking illicit drugs. I know this isn’t the most politically correct statement but it also happens to be fact! You only hear the negatives about drugs but it depends on the person. MDMA is sometimes being used to treat PTSD and depression. DMT and ayahuasca are being used to treat addiction and to ease the anxiety of death. Cannabis has so many health benefits it’s ridiculous. Ketamine is used to treat chronic pain along with morphine which is basically heroin.

I must note that I haven’t done any of the above drugs in over 15 years and I have no desire what so ever to do them again. It was all about experimentation. I wanted to know what all of the hype was about. I don’t regret taking drugs at all. I’m not promoting them and they should always be taken in a safe atmosphere.

#035 – Music As Therapy

Music plays a big part in my life. I regret never learning an instrument. I took some guitar lessons off a mate when I was in high school but I never stuck with it. Music really helps when I’m feeling like shit. It always has. I have some go to albums depending on my mood. Nirvana are up there. Unplugged in New York is one of my favourite albums of all time. I don’t know how many times I have spun this record. I love Radiohead. When I’m angry with the world Rage Against The Machine hit the spot. Amy Winehouse, Queens of the Stone Age, Primus, A Perfect Circle, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Sonic Youth, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins are also bands that are rated highly. 

My favourite band of all time is Tool. I am a fanatic. I have seen them live six times. I have a Tool tattoo. I’ve been a fan since 1998 – 23 years of dedication! I am also a fan of the singer Maynard James Keenan’s other groups A Perfect Circle and Puscifer. I saw Puscifer live a few years back. It was one of the best concerts I have ever been to. I have also seen REM, Audioslave, Primus, Placebo, Silverchair and others. I can’t go to live gigs these days. I don’t do crowds. The same applies to the football.

I have a tendency to obsess in music groups. Especially as a teen. My first was Micheal Jackson as a young kid, then Guns and Roses, then Nirvana, The Doors and then Tool. I sometimes think it’s a little childish to obsess over music and have rock star hero’s but the music has helped me through some rough times.

#034 – Schizophrenia And The Loss Of Family And Friends

I grew up in Bendigo where I had a great social network. I was reasonably popular and I even had the girls after me. My family moved to Frankston in 1999. I went to Frankston high where I knew nobody. I was a loner who spent his recess and lunch breaks away from the other students in the toilets. I hated it. I was suicidal. I left school half way through year ten and went to art school in the city where I got along with everyone and made good friends who I have since lost. I worked at Coles for a number of years and made acquaintances there but nothing that lasted once I left.

Once I was diagnosed with schizophrenia I lost all connections to my family and friends. My illness scared a lot of people off. I was no longer treated the same way I was before the diagnosis. This made me realise a lot of my relationships were based around people who smoked pot. People who I smoked with no longer felt I should be partaking because of the stigma of cannabis and psychosis. Slowly people disappeared in my life. Alcohol played a part in this too. There have been relationships that have definitely been destroyed through my excessive drinking. My voices (Blog #032) order that I don’t make connections with people too. The only people who have stuck by my side during everything is my parents and to a lesser extent my younger brother and sister.

I don’t mind. I have always been content with my own company, thank God, because there would be nothing worse than being lonely. I have a soft spot for people who want company and can’t find it. I’ve often thought about volunteering at nursing homes to keep the elderly company.

#033 – Pychiatric Admission – Day 8

Not that it is something to be celebrated but I haven’t had a drink in over a week. I haven’t struggled with this at all. This something I probably shouldn’t admit but in previous visits to the hospital I would get leave and go into Mornington where I would buy a six pack, find a quiet spot to sit and drink. I would never return too intoxicated and nobody ever discovered my little secret and luckily I was never breath test like they do in the alcohol rehab ward. I’m actually surprised they haven’t tested me when I return from outings because of my history. I haven’t had any sneakies during this admission. I’ve replaced it with caffeine.

I had a pretty average day today. I spent a lot of it in bed and hibernating in my room. I didn’t even spend time writing. I didn’t see my shrink. Not that he could have helped. As much as I get along with him there’s only so much he can do to help. When I’m not travelling too well it usually results in a medication increase. It sometimes seems medication is his solution to everything… but what else is he to do?

I’ve been in for a week now and I have no idea how much longer I have to go? I usually get discharged at a time of my choosing. This is usually after 2 or 3 weeks. I’ve never been held against my will (except in the ICU ward at the Melbourne Clinic). I guess there’s no point in keeping me in here if I don’t want to be here.

#032 – Auditory Hallucinations

I get voices. I hear voices and have been attacked by them for a long time. I take two antipsychotic medications to tackle them, along with my paranoia, which takes the edge off but it doesn’t eliminate them. They are almost always there. I can’t remember when I started hearing them? It was well over fifteen years ago, maybe around the same time I was diagnosed. They’re not always the same voices but there are some that are consistent and I have had for years. I get orders from these ‘entities’ not to speak about them. They tell me to harm myself and to kill myself and basically tell me all sorts of awful things. They are all negative. I don’t understand why I don’t her voices telling me nice things? They tell me not to take my medication and that people are out to get me.

It can be hard having conversations with people when the voices are really acting up. It’s like listening to two people talking to you are once. I am forever asking people to repeat what they just told me because I loose track of what we are talking about. People must think I’m being rude or not paying attention to them when in ‘reality’ I am just focusing more on the voices than the conversation. I sometimes have to excuse myself.

I have fairly good insight to my illness. For the best part of the time I realise it’s all in my head and the voices are fragments of my imagination but there are times that I actually think there is more to them. They sometimes predict things that haven’t happened yet. I sometimes believe they are the souls of dead people communicating with me, sometimes I think it something more sinister like a demon who has been sent to taunt me. Cemeteries have always been an interest of mine. I used to go and take photos late at night to see if I could capture anything paranormal on film (I did but that’s for another post) I feel as if a spirit attached itself to me and is living it’s existence through mine.

If it is all part of my psychotic illness and it’s all concocted in my head… where are they coming from? They can be very clear and very clever. They tell me things that I don’t know… knowledge I haven’t got in my head or that I know anything about comes through. Where is this information coming from? Can you see my point? Sometimes I fall victim and have complete faith that there is more going on behind the scenes than the psychiatrists tell me. I don’t tell my shrink, or anyone for that matter, what I am experiencing as they think it is part of my illness and I’m also told by the voices not to tell people about them. I’m not sure why they don’t want to be spoken of?

All I know is that it looks like I am stuck with them. They rarely cause me stress these days. I have learnt to live with them. Clozapine eases the severity of them but they are still always there. This is my lot in life.

All I know is that it looks like I am stuck with them. They rarely cause me stress these days. I have learnt to live with them. Clozapine eases the severity of them but they are still always there. This is my lot in life.

#031 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 7

Another day! It’s hard making posts on a day where nothing happened. I saw Gem (psychiatrist) and we had a rather nothing consultation. I wasn’t too interested in talking and he didn’t dig too deep. I wanted to talk to him about going on CBD medication like he had previously discussed but I was told he doesn’t prescribe it. we briefly spoke about TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stmulation) which I have put some thought into and would like to give it a shot. I’m getting desperate when it comes to my anxiety. Something has to be done. Medication and therapy isn’t working.

My sleep has been solid. I sleep without waking from about 11am to 5 or 6am. I wish I could sleep in just and extra hour or two. Gem increased my Clozapine from 300mg to 350mg but I didn’t notice any differences. I have a new sleeping pill, Mogadon, but I’m yet to take it. I have no problem getting to sleep I just wake early.

#030 – My Third Eye

I have been in hospital for a week now. Not once have I watched a second of television. TV is like applying black paint to your third eye. I have no idea what is happening in the world? What reality programs are playing and I’ve been saving my mind from all of the advertisements. I think I feel better for it. I have been surviving off podcasts, documentaries, music and writing. I have a TV in my room and I have Foxtel but it hasn’t been used.

#029 – I Hurt Myself

This blog is one I have been reluctant to write and I’ve been debating as to how to tackle it. It’s a touchy subject. One that I have only spoken in depth about to my immediate family and my doctors. Here I am putting it out to the world. I figure I remain anonymous to people that come across this blog as I don’t give out the site to people I know so what harm can be done? I put a video on my YouTube channel and it was taken down because of the subject matter. Here it goes!

From an early age I would hurt myself. Mainly deep scratches, enough to draw a bit of blood but nothing major. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with this. I didn’t think it was normal but it was just something I did. I don’t know why? As I got older the scratches turned into deeper cuts. Deep enough to leave scares. Most of these were done to my upper legs where they couldn’t be seen. This wasn’t a frequent occurrence but it happened often enough. 

When I was about 13 or 14 my folks found out and sent me to a child psychologist. This continued through my teenage years each time getting worse. I started cutting so deep I was starting to get stitches to repair the damage. It had moved from my legs to my arms where the scars were more apparent. I often did this when I drank heavily but there were times when I was sober. I didn’t know why I was doing this? I still don’t understand the psychology behind why it happened? On a couple of occasions I had voices telling me to do this to myself. I still get the same voices but I’ve learnt to ignore them.

It wasn’t just cutting. I would put ‘safety’ pins into my arms and I did all my own facial piercings. I horrified my parents one morning when they woke one morning and I had safety pins through my eyebrows, nose and lips. I figured piercing were culturally acceptable so what would the big deal be if I did my own. Cut out the middle man. I even did it at work on two occasions. I would work with knives in the produce department and deliberately cut myself to go to the hospital and get the day off work.

Once I stabbed myself in the arm and severed my radial nerve which I needed to go into surgery to repair. The last one was the worst and also the last. I burnt my arm. I’m talking about third degree burns that needed to be treated for months. I went camping once and heated a fork over the fire before applying it to my upper arm, removing part of a tattoo I have. This scar can’t be hidden and makes my arm look like a mess. People often look at it as their talking to me.

I’m happy to say I am over this phase. I still get the commanding voices that tell me to hurt or kill myself but I’m the one with the power and this my friends is called psychosis. It’s been four years since I harmed myself and I can make the guarantee to myself and my parents this will never happen again.

This made for some tough writing. I know you think I’m nuts and I’ve come around to knowing this myself but I can’t change the past. Thanks for reading!

#028 – Red Bull’s and V’s

I’m quitting energy drinks. Over the last few months my intake has increased to dangerous levels. I have always known they can’t be good for me because of the caffeine and sugar which could lead to heart issues or diabetes not to mention the weight gain.

I just spoke to a lady in the smoking area who told me she had a heart attack because she was drinking over ten cans a day. I already have cardiomyopathy so I need to take care of the old ticker.

I’m addicted to the rush they give me. They help me get stuff done and because I’m not drinking alcohol I have replaced the piss with V’s and Red Bulls. I bought eight 500ml cans this morning which I have drank two but now I’m reluctant to drink the other 6. The lady scared me off them a little.

They should really have warning labels like cigarettes. Just another vice I need to quit!

#027 – Schizophrenia and Nicotine

People with schizophrenia smoke up to three times more than the general population and more than most psychiatric populations. Schizophrenia patients who smoke also have higher levels of nicotine in their bodies because they tend to extract more nicotine per cigarette than other smokers.

I have been an on and off cigarettes since I was in my mid teens. I go through periods where I chain smoke but I also have periods of abstinence. It’s an ongoing battle. I hate being a slave to something.

As a teen, the group of people I associated with all smoked. I took it up through peer pressure I guess. Nobody likes smoking when they first take it up. It made me nauseous and gave me a head spin. This didn’t stop me from doing it. At first it was the occasional smoke during lunch break or at parties. It wasn’t an addiction – It was just something I did because everyone else was doing it. After a few years I gained a dependency. I now needed that nicotine hit.

I’m now 37 and I’m in hospital so I’m smoking like a chimney. I gave up for two months before being admitted. I bought a pack the day before I got in here as I knew the temptation would be too strong as over half of the patients smoke. Sometimes I smoke simply for something to do. It’s also a good chance to socialise with people who are getting their fixes too. 

I’m not sure what the exact number is but my shrink told me that something like 90 percent of people with schizophrenia smoke. I don’t want to make this an excuse to continue smoking but it surely interesting. Does this mean because of my illness I find it harder to quit than other people? It doesn’t help with my symptoms at all.

The cost alone should be enough to make me quit. I spent over 85 dollars on a pack yesterday and that was at the supermarket which is cheaper than the service station where I usually go. Most of that goes to the bloody government.

All I can do is keep trying. At least I’m aware I need to quit. I know people who smoke and have no desire to stop. I’ve been using nicotine gum but that became an addiction too. I was chewing four pieces at a time. As soon as I get out of here and I’m home I’ll give it another shot.

#026 – Private Vs. Public Psychiatric Hospitalisation

I think most people have the wrong idea of what a private psychiatric ward is all about. The important word there is ‘private’. I’ve been through the system over the last 15 years. I don’t know how many months or even years I have spent in clinics. I have been to maybe 5 different hospitals and had over 15 admissions. I feel I have the experience in this area to write the following. 

First we need to separate public from private. I can’t put into words how bad the public system sucks! It is bad! I have only had a few visits to public hospitals and they haven’t been for long at all.  These admissions usually resulted from psychotic attacks I went through and there were no immediate available beds in private or when the police picked me up wandering the streets. More money needs to be pumped into the public system. I think that it’s possible to come out worse than when you went in. It feels like a large bunch of unwell people are gathered and thrown into a ward together and just left to their own devices. There were no groups or stimuli, the food was terrible, the nurses had no time for anyone and your allocated psychiatrists couldn’t care less. In most cases there were no visitation rights or they were limited so you couldn’t see friends or family. There was no such thing as a private room. You had to share with the other crazies. I would have to be bloody unwell to find myself in this situation again.

I don’t mind paying my private health cover! I have spent time in 4 different private hospitals, some better than others, but all leaps and bounds above public hospitals. A few were at the Melbourne Clinic in Richmond. The clinic is big and there are a lot of patients but there was also a lot of nurses and the standard of the psychiatry was high (other than my experience with professor Burrows – Blog #008) One of the main problems was it was a distance from home. This made it difficult for my folks to visit every day and for me to make the trip as an outpatient for consultations with my shrinks.

These days I go to the same hospital for every admission. I wouldn’t go anywhere else. I only have good things to say about this hospital. First of all it is so quiet. In other hospitals I’d hibernate in my room because of the massive amount of patients. Here I set myself up in the common area and do my thing. I have people pass me by to go to the smoking area and I make brief conversation with some of them and there are nurses that float about but I’m comfortable with this. Nurses always have time to spend helping me with whatever it is I need, the food is fantastic, I can have unaccompanied leave so I can go into Mornington by myself or go to the service station for Coke and smokes. I can go out with family. I see Gem (psychiatrist) almost every day. I have seen him for over 12 years. There are groups during the day – I don’t do any of these anymore as I have done them all a million times but they are there if I want them. There’s a smoking area, the only problem is that it is closed between 10pm and 6am but I’m on the good side of the night nurse so she will sometimes allow me out for a cigarette if I’m desperate. Because the staff know me so well there is never a problem getting a room. My parents often joke with me about it being more like a resort than psychiatric ward.

#025 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 6

There’s nothing to report on again! Today is a public holiday so things are even quieter than usual. My day has consisted of blog writing, nicotine, caffeine and naps. I have been drinking stupid amounts of coffee, Coke and energy drinks. I think I have replaced my alcohol intake with caffeine. It helps with writing too. Like with alcohol it increases my fluidity. 

My sleep has been excellent. I take Clozapine and melatonin at 10pm and I’m asleep by midnight. I sleep without waking to about 5am or 6am but then I’m awake and cant go back to sleep. I wish I could sleep in until at least 7am. My sleeping patterns are so much different to when I’m at home. There’s structure in hospital. Depending on my quality of sleep (or if I even get sleep) at home I usually sleep for 10 -14 hours. I’m rarely awake before lunch. My psychiatrist has prescribed me a heavy sleeping medication but I’m yet to use it as I haven’t needed it. Apparently it is a very powerful medication. It’s the medication that is used when all other have failed. The name of the medication escapes me.

It feels like I’m the only patient in the ward. I feel for the nurses as they have absolutely nothing to do for 95% of they’re time. Time must go so slowly for them. I have a little interaction with them but rarely is there a deep conversation. Just general chit chat.

#024 – Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)

One of my fascinations is dimethyltryptamine or DMT. DMT is arguably the most powerful psychedelic drug on the planet, capable of producing intense hallucinations. Researchers recently surveyed more than 2,000 DMT users about their encounters with ‘entities’ while tripping, finding that respondents often considered these strange encounters to be positive and meaningful. The majority of respondents believed the beings they encountered were not hallucinations.

DMT can conjure powerful visions. In low doses, people often hallucinate fractal patterns, geometric shapes, and distortions in the physical space around them. But things get much stranger with higher doses.

When people consume enough DMT to have a “breakthrough” experience, they often encounter beings that seem autonomous, existing in a reality separate from our own.

The form and nature of these beings vary in reports, but one thing remains curiously constant: People tend to rank these encounters among the most meaningful experiences of their lives. For some people, these encounters change their beliefs about reality, the existence of an afterlife, and God.

I no longer desire DMT but the topic still remains a keen interest. I recently ordered and read DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Rick Strasman which is a fascinating read… weather you are a user of this drug or not. I highly recommend reading it.

#023 – Covid

Gem (psychiatrist) tells me that depression rates and paranoia rates have increased amongst his patients during Covid and people have been doing their consultations over the phone or web. Suicide rates have raised too. I can understand people who have employment but can’t work and in some cases where loved ones can’t get together. I couldn’t care less about Covid! It has hardly changed the way I live my life. sure, it can be an inconvenience to put on a face mask when rushing from the car into the bottle shop but this is all it has effected. 

I rarely leave the house, I don’t exercise, I don’t do the shopping, I don’t have friends I visit. I hibernate in the house watching Netflix, YouTube documentaries, reading books and doing art. The Covid hasn’t effected any of this. If you watch the news you would swear that the world had come to an end. Especially cafe’s – Like they are the only one’s effected! If you haven’t lost your income then stop complaining! People need to become more comfortable with their own company and understand this isn’t going away soon.

#022 – Employment History

I wasn’t always unemployed. I worked from the day I was legally able. My first job was at Macca’s when I was fifteen. This was a real shitty job but it was my first taste of having an income. I was making next to nothing – just doing casual houses – outside of school. I was working at a supermarket too. I prefered this work to Macca’s but I was making hardly anything there either. Five bucks an hour!

My family moved from Bendigo to Melbourne. I continued to work at Macca’s – still casual hours. I left school early. I made it halfway through year ten before dropping out so my hours increased. I was working 11am to 4:30 Monday to Friday. This really sucked. I knew I couldn’t continue working over that bloody grill so I found employment at Coles. At first I really enjoyed this. I was working in the fresh produce department and compared to Macca’s this was a great job. I was studying full time at art school in the city so my hours were once again casual. I finished my diploma course but not being able to find work in the graphic design industry I ended up going full-time at Coles working my way up through the ranks to fresh produce manager. I was in charge of about 15 people, ordering, sales and everything else that comes with management.

I quit Coles and started my own business as a web and print designer but this didn’t last long. I was great behind the computer and loved the design side of things but meeting with clients became to much. My anxiety took over. I had a few good clients. A real estate agency, an architecture firm, a landscaping company and a few others. This fell apart because of the communication side of things.

Looking back Coles was a good job. If I was to find employment again I would probably choose to work for a supermarket… I like to set my goals high! I worked for Safeway as dairy manager along the way too.

After a few years of working these positions I became unwell and had to resign as I was too sick to work. I was taking tonnes of time off, drinking and smoking pot on the job and basically not giving a damn. The shit hit the fan and I was admitted to the Melbourne Clinic in the ICU ward. I didn’t fully understand what was happening to me until I was diagnosed by the professor. He told me I was unfit to work.

I was placed on a disability support pension and lived off that for a while. Things must have improved at some point because I found work at a produce farm as a quality insurer. The same thing happened with this mob too. I basically wasn’t preforming and I was heavily medicated. I quit but I would have only been fired if I stayed.

I went back on disability and I have been on it ever since. I have never been able to keep employment. I very occasionally work with my dad who is a chirppy but this is rare and to be honest I hate the work. I even did a pre-apprenticeship in carpentry course at Tafe but like most other things I never finished it. Along with mental illness I might have commitment issues!

#021 – 2400mg Of Seroquel

2400mg of Seroquel. That’s 800mg three times a day. This was was the dose Professor Burrows put me on. I’ve made a post on Burrows (Blog #008) This was the first antipsychotic I was placed on. I had been on plenty of antidepressants but when I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia this is what the ‘prof’ prescribed. This was the same man that was on the current affair program Today Tonight for over medicating his patients.

The average dose is between 100mg and 400mg. I was on 2400mg! I have spoken to a lot of patients over the years who were on the medication and nobody believed me when I told them about this. I wasn’t even suggested other medications. Maybe if I had been on other med’s and they didn’t work then MAYBE I could understand the mans reasoning but this was the first medication I was put on. I ended up dropping the professor and going under the care of another professor at the same hospital. He told me that Burrows was renowned for over medicating but he never got the diagnosis incorrect. He took me off Seroquel immediately and tried a few other medications before putting me on Clozapine (Blog #009) I am still taking Cloz 12 years later.

#020 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 5

I went out with my folks, my sister and my nephew today. It wasn’t for long but it was nice to break up the day and get out of the hospital. We went for a drive to a park for my nephew to have a run around. He’s just turned two. I’m never going to have children of my own so I like to invest time with him. He’s still a baby but I look forward to seeing him grow older and when he’s in his teens I want to teach him about the right music to listen to and help him develop an interest in art. I want to be the person to help him out when he’s fighting with his parents.

I enjoyed going out but I was happy to get back to the hospital. My anxiety played up a little. This happens when I’m in groups of people. I was okay. It didn’t get to the point where I needed medication but I wanted to get back into my comfort space which is the hospital at the moment. I wish so hard that I could appreciate the moments in life that are meant to be enjoyed. I try to enjoy the moment but I can’t.

I always feel like I’ve let people down when they take me out or visit. I feel as if I should have made a greater effort to put on a smiley face or interact more. It would only be fake but it would give people the impression that I am doing better than I really am.

#019 – Antabuse – Disulfiram

Antabuse is basically a medication you take to prevent you from drinking piss. It’s doesn’t reduce cravings but you can’t drink while taking it or you become violently ill to the point where hospitalisation may be required and it can even lead to death. It’s a pretty intense medication and it’s expensive.

I do my best not to get into my alcoholism on this blog but I don’t make it a secret that I am an alcoholic. I got prescribed Antabuse through my GP after I had a week long binge and didn’t know what else to do. I had tried anti-craving med’s, I saw counsellors, I spoke openly about it to my psychiatrist, I did 2 months worth of rehab and I tried using will power but all had failed.

As a last resort I turned to Antabuse and it turned out to be a miracle drug. I stopped drinking for three months. I took it every day and it had to be witnessed by someone to make sure it was being taken so good old mum took up the responsibility. Life improved when I was sober but I still missed my beer. I was living at home with the folks and they would have a drink most nights. A drink for my parents is a beer or glass of wine. Not a slab or 3 bottles of wine! This never bothered me as I have learnt not to resent people who drink around me as this is something I can’t escape. People are always going to drink and I can’t expect them to change because of my weakness. They deserve a drink!

I don’t know why but I decided to stop taking it. Maybe because I thought I was better and didn’t need another medication to take on top of all the others. So that’s what I did and within no time I found myself at the bottle shop. I haven’t taken it since and my drinking has been off and on. Definitely too much though. I don’t drink like your average alcoholic. It’s not every day that I drink and it’s not the hard stuff like spirits, Strictly beer and the occasional bottle of wine – usually from my mum’s stash when I run out of beer.

I’ve made the choice to go back onto it once I leaver hospital. I can’t keep doing this to my body and mind. Something has to be done and Antabuse is it!

#018 – Kurt’s Suicide

As so many teens do I idolised Nirvana and Kurt Cobain. This started for me during my first year of high school in 1996. A fellow student, one of the popular kids, would have the bus driver play Nevermind on the commute to and from school. It didn’t know anything about them other than their biggest hit ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and I knew nothing of Kurt Cobain’s suicide. The music just appealed to me immediately. To this day Unplugged in New York is my favourite album of all time.

I was messed up enough as it was at this stage. I was even seeing a child psychologist. There was something romantic about Cobain’s death or the way it came about. The songs were almost like jigsaw pieces as to why he did what he did. There are conspiracies as to what may have really happened to Kurt. Some think Courtney Love was behind his murder and some of the evidence is compelling and if it was anyone else who died under the same circumstances I would wonder but lets face it: Kurt wasn’t the happiest of people and his lyrics are riddled with suicidal undertones. He suffered terrible stomach pains and he was a heroin addict. He also overdosed and was in a coma for three days. Not the most stable of people!

These days I have lost a lot of respect for the man. Not so much his music but the mess he left behind. He had a baby daughter and he had millions of impressionable teenage fans. After his death copycat suicides escalated. I was 11 years old and can’t even remember seeing it on the news. Had it been only a few years later who knows if it would have impacted on my fragile life?

It’s amazing to think of how popular Nirvana is after all these years. If it wasn’t for his death I wonder what would have become of Cobain and Nirvana? Would it have been different if he died from natural causes? Would they have kept their popularity or would they have faded away? I sometimes wonder what would happen if someone like Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam did the same thing as Kurt? Would that have made Eddie into a legend and place Pearl Jam on a similar level to Nirvana? I wonder what made Kurt so special? I wish I was around during the peak of the Nirvana’s success. I missed out by a few years.

As I write this I am wearing a Nirvana t-shirt and Unplugged still get’s played from time to time.

#017 – Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

This is a treatment that my psychiatrist keeps recommending. I have mixed feelings. A family friend who suffers greatly from depression underwent the process and swears it changed his life. It’s getting to the point where I am becoming desperate to get on top of my anxiety and psychosis as I can’t keep living like this. I have mild depression too.

THIS IS FROM WIKIPEDIA
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive form of brain stimulation in which a changing magnetic field is used to cause electric current at a specific area of the brain through electromagnetic induction. An electric pulse generator, or stimulator, is connected to a magnetic coil, which in turn is connected to the scalp. The stimulator generates a changing electric current within the coil which induces a magnetic field; this field then causes a second inductance of inverted electric charge within the brain itself.

TMS has shown diagnostic and therapeutic potential in the central nervous system with a wide variety of disease states in neurology and mental health, with research still evolving.

I’m assured it’s not painful and it’s quick but from what I can gather it needs to be done frequently over a few weeks. This is what it has come to! Not even medication and therapy is effective anymore. I’ll keep you posted!

#016 – No Half Measures

I once had a friend who knew me real well who said “You have no half measures do you Dave!” That has always stuck in my head. It’s so true. This has applied to me since I was a kid. Once I develop an interest in something it gets to the point where it becomes fanatical. It is all or nothing! There’s no off switch! This applies to so many areas of my life. 

A current example is my caffeine intake. I don’t sip on a normal strength coffee – I skull a extra strong cup and then make another and than another. I probably drink a dozen cups a day. I also drink coke and I drink the large cans of Red Bull. This also applies to the numerous cigarettes I smoke. There’s no such thing as one or two beers – I drink till I black out. I only drink if I have enough to get intoxicated. 

It sounds strange but I have an addiction to computer downloads. I need to download to the point that I don’t turn the computer off for days and I have terabytes of movies, music, television series and I have a program that downloads and converts YouTube videos which is constantly running. I download stuff I know I will never watch or listen to but I have to have it.

Drug use. When I used to do drugs I would push it to the limit and take triple what my mates were taking. I’m so lucky I was never introduced to ‘hard’ drugs like ice and heroin or you probably wouldn’t be reading this. I can honestly say I never took these drugs, was never around people who took these drugs and I was never offered these drugs. When it came to pot and MDMA that’s a little different. I went through a huge obsession with psychedelics and hallucinogens. I own dozens of books, read all of the literature from Terence McKenna, Timothy Leary, Paul Stammets, Ken Keasy, Albert Hoffman etc. I have consumed my fair share of psilocybin and acid. This was just a phase. I still have an interest in psychedelics, especially dimethyltryptamine, but I pushed the boundaries as far as I was willing to go and like many things – I don’t tread through those grounds any longer.

I went through a DVD collection phase where I was obsessed with collecting as many movies as I could. I spent countless dollars building up a collection of thousand of disks that now sit unused in the attic. 

My latest thing is collecting books. I’m Amazons number one book customer! I read a lot but I can’t keep up with the amount I order. They have to be brand new too and I don’t borrow from the library. I’m quite proud of my collection but at the end of the day there just books! I have also been a prolific journal writer. I have kept journals since 1995. I have dozens of journals that will never be read. They just collect dust. I have spent hundreds of hours working on these. Once I start a new journal I devote all of my time into completing it. Over the last 5 days I have devoted all of my time into creating this blog. If I’m not writing I am thinking about writing. Obsessed once again! 

I recently wrote a blog on Valium. This is another good example of not practising moderation. I would take ten times the prescribed amount.

If only I obsessed over accumulating finances I would be a rich man.

#015 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 4

Things are quiet. No doctors. No groups. Nothing. A brief one on one with the nurses but nothing over a few minutes. It’s the same story every time I chat with the nurses. I have gone over my history and what I am experience 2 million times. In the early days I would stress about talking about my symptoms even with Gem (psychiatrist) It was real hard and I’d be filled with anxiety. Fifteen years later I don’t let it bother me. I just tell it how it is. Gem knows what I go through and we rarely talk about my psychotic issues or even my depression and anxiety. My consultations are mostly made up of having a general chat. He always asks me if I’m taking my meds properly, if I’m smoking weed and drinking and how my sleep has been (or not been).

Today he suggested I start taking CBD. That’s weed without the THC high. I’m all for it. Pot has so many benefits. I stopped smoking because the paranoia became too great which is a shame because in all other ways it is a wonderful plant. I’m planning on making a blog on pot but I might have to do it in a series as there is a lot to cover.

Most of the nurses are newbies. Their fresh and eager to learn but they can frustrate me. I miss the good old days when all of the staff knew me really well and we could have some fun banter. My last admission was a while ago so a lot has changed on the ward. At least things haven’t changed with Gem.

#014 – Diazepam – Valium

I’ve been on and off Valium for over 20 years. I’m now off it and can’t see myself getting back on it any time soon. I have it listed as one of the medications I can take whilst in hospital as needed during the day but I haven’t taken advantage of it. There’s a reason for this. The dose that’s written up is hardly worth taking. Psychiatrists rarely write up more than 10mg. This doesn’t touch my sides. My shrink and nurses would be horrified if they knew the dosage I take when I’m at home and left to my own devices. One of the issues I have with Valium is that if I take a dose – the following day I need to double that dose because it’s still in my system from the day before. So I double it. The next day comes along and I have to double up again. Before the week is over I’m taking up to 75mg! It’s at this stage I run out and have to wait to the end of the month for a new script. I hope that makes sense? I told my old shrink the dose I was taking and he said “SHIT… Did you piss the bed?”

I hear patients complaining and bagging the nurses for their Valium because they get withdrawals if they don’t get their 5 to 10mg! How the hell can they become so dependent on such a low dose? How can they continue to take the same tiny dose without quickly developing a tolerance? I told my psychiatrist to not even bother listing it in my chart. I wish I didn’t have this problem. I wish I could chill out on the recommended dose but for me it doesn’t work like that. I feel cheated! It’s meant to take the edge off peoples anxiety but I find this to be bullshit.

In hospital they try to push it on you. I’m sure the conspiracy behind this is to keep the patients docile and compliant. It’s used heavily in the alcohol rehab ward to help people coming off the piss but I find the complete opposite. When I take a large dose at home and do feel the effects, it increases my desire to drink? That’s when things become dangerous because it’s never a good idea to drink on meds and the other issue is it wipes your memory COMPLETELY. It’s a total black out!

At the end of the day I don’t miss it. If I’m really suffering a Clozapine dose does the job. The problem with Clozapine is that it comes with a list of side effects. I did a blog on this.

#013 – Peoples Perceptions

I’ve got to stop worrying what people think of me. We all care what others think and a lot of people have decent sized egos weather they realise it or not. In my younger years I would always say “I don’t care what people think of me’ which was a lie. I cared very much so what peoples perception of me were. From what I wore, to who I hung out with, to new cars, to what music I identified with, to the drugs I took, to the tattoos I had scribbled on me and the piercings I inflicted to my face, to the job I had etc. I wanted to fit in and I thought these things would help me achieve this. As a teen I went through a ‘goth’ phase which was a statement to say screw you world… I don’t care what you think of me. If this was the case I wouldn’t have dyed my hair black and sported Marilyn Manson t-shirts. It was a paradox I guess. I was fighting against society by wanting to fit in society.

I still care what people think greatly. I’m 37 and I still stress about what my folks think of me. I have to sneak out the back for a cigarette knowing full well they could smell it on me. I hide my empty beer bottles around the house knowing full well they knew I was drunk and they were going to find them at some point. I gained employment and did courses to make out I was doing something with my life to keep my parents happy. As embarrassing as it is to admit I am still afraid of upsetting the old’s. 

As an adult my fear is people, mostly my family and acquaintances, see me as a failure. Unfortunately I have little control over this because of my illness. I comes down mostly to the fact I don’t work and haven’t had employment for years. I sometimes wonder if I’d gain more respect from people if I was stacking shelves as a living?

These days I honestly don’t care what people think of me when it comes to my appearance. I often grow my hair out, have a three month year old beard, where the same cloths every day. I couldn’t care less what strangers think of me when it comes to this.

So this is something I need to get over – I just don’t know how? Perhaps this is just something that makes up who I am? Maybe I’m just a schizophrenic, eccentric artist? It’s also important to recognise my positive points. I consider myself to be a caring, sensitive, creative person who has just been dealt with some bad cards.

#012 – Simplicity is the Key

I didn’t know how to title this blog? Like my head this will be all over the place! I live a pretty simplistic life. I am a strong believer in keeping this as easy and simple as possible. I don’t appreciate activities that put me outside of my comfort zone. I don’t desire things that ‘normal’ people want in life. I have some things that are unavoidable like medical appointments and the occasional outing with the family but as a rule I don’t do much. Work is out of the question. I don’t socialise… I don’t have many people to socialise with! I no longer have friends. Mental illness has stripped this from me. It wasn’t long ago that I had a small handful of buddies but I sabotaged relationships. Unfortunately keeping things as simple as possible means severing ties with people who expect my time. Catching up with people is meant to be enjoyable but for me it was a chore. Something I had to do because that’s what people do. The same goes for romantic relationships. So much work is required!

Keeping things simple means financial restrictions. No loans. I don’t need the latest car, the new home, credit cards. Things you own end up owning you. I’m on a disability support pension so most of these things are unobtainable as I don’t receive much. I’m able to save a little but not enough to waste on shit I don’t need. My biggest expenditures are my health insurance, rent, my phone bill, car rego and insurance, website fees, cigarettes (when I’m smoking) and beer. Keeping simple allows beer! My other big expenditure art supplies. I haven’t been too prolific lately but it’s easy to spend five hundred bucks at the art store. A costly hobby! I don’t need a stack of cash but it’s a comfort to know I have the means to pay the bills and have some emergency cash.

I have everything I need. My computers and equipment, a television that never gets used, a car, a roof over my head and food. I have my black Labrador. I’m not struggling.

I look around at some people and wonder how they do it. I love waking up early in the morning and hearing the traffic on the freeway with people on their daily commute. I don’t have to leave my bed. The medication makes it difficult for me to wake and rise but once I’m up the day is mine. No boss telling me what to do. No tedious tasks to be completed. No dealing with idiots. No overtime. I’m not lazy and if it’s something I enjoy doing I’ll put one hundred percent into it. This is apparent in my artwork and it even shows through this blog. I’ve put a lot of work into this. I only created it a few days ago.

I see parents with children and I simply can’t understand how they do it. I’m not having children but I have a two year old nephew who I love to bits. I watch my sister, who is an amazing mum, take care of him and it just drums it into me how I simply couldn’t do it. It’s a full-time job with night shift. It’s like chatting to strangers… I can do it but only in short bursts. I’m looking forward to when he gets to the age where we can interact and listen to music and do art together.

#011 – Psychiatric Admission – Day 3

One of the factors that puts me into hospital is to separate myself from the outside world. It’s like time out or a ‘tune up’ as my old man calls it. I don’t have a real stressful life that I’m escaping but it’s a change of atmosphere and a chance to meet people which is something I don’t do in the outside world. It’s also an opportunity to adjust my medication. My sleeping habits improve and I live off a healthy diet.

Today was uneventful. There really isn’t too much to report on. I have been spending ninety percent of my time writing these blogs and listening to podcasts and music. I saw Gem (shrink) and there is nothing new there. He’s pushing for me to start on a new sleeping pill but I’m reluctant to take it. I have been going to bed late and rising early but getting good sleep so I don’t really need help in this area. I wish there was something he could do about the worsening anxiety but I think he’s out of options as what to do for me. He can only do so much.

I must be on the mend as I’ve been socialising. Just with people who walk past the couch that I have claimed as mine. Just small talk and all the same discussion I have with everyone. Where are you from? How long have you been here? Wife? Kids? I don’t mind this in short bursts but find it hard to hold a conversation for long lengths of time. I get bored.

I haven’t heard from family today and it was me who made the call yesterday. I don’t mind but it would be nice to at least get a message from my brother and sister.

#010 – Schizophrenia and Relationships

One of the hardest things for me to get around when it comes to meeting ladies (mostly online) is letting them know I don’t work, I’m on a disability support pension, I have a history of mental illness, I have scars all over my body and I take medications. This is a big pill to swallow (no pun intended) and I completely understand why I’m single. I also need my own space – a lot more than the average person. I am quiet comfortable with my own company so I would need to be in a relationship where my partner was either the same or understood this. I don’t want children and I don’t want to take on kids that aren’t mine unless they were older. This is rare as I get older and meet people similar ages. I am quite aware that I’m not the greatest looking guy and I come with all this baggage and to an extent I have my own requirements or expectations but I guess beggars can’t be choosers. I’m starting to learn this. 

Recently I started internet dating but obviously nothing came of it. I would make a connection with someone but then the truth comes out and I frighten the lady off. I started out playing my situation down and exaggerating. When it came to work I would say I work as a chippy because I occasionally help out my dad and brother who are both builders. I would say I was a graphic designer because I studied that at school and ran my own design business before becoming unwell. My profile photos weren’t flattering and I had little else to offer. I started receiving ‘matches’ online and the majority were morbidly obese. I want a relationship but even I have standards and I don’t mind saying I’d prefer to be single than hook up with someone twice my size. That’s just how it is! All past relationships have been with ladies with their own mental health issues. A lot from psychiatric wards. I guess this proves two things: if I spend time in person with someone and they get to know me and my attributes I have a greater success rate and two: we are both in similar boats and understand that we are both somewhat damaged.

Even when things work out with a lady I have a tendency to sabotaged the relationship. I don’t know why this is? My last relationship was with a lady from hospital who I really liked. We formed a relationship and met up at her house. Everything was good until my paranoia kicked in the following morning and I left. She drank like me, had a similar illness, was attractive and made a lot of money. I through it all away. After spending a single night together I had to get myself out of the situation and get home to my empty house. My safe space. Not long before this happened I hooked up with a lady with schizophrenia who I met randomly online. Her condition was worse than mine and I couldn’t handle it. I have a hard enough time looking after my own illness without taking on someone else’s psychotic attacks. Without going into detail it I had to take out a restraining order on her.

I’m not a lonely person. I have a soft spot for people who want friends or relationships and have no luck. At the end of the day I don’t NEED someone. The jigsaw will fall into place for me at some point. It’s just a matter of fitting what I want in with someone else’s desires. It’s difficult to find that person when I isolate and hardly leave the house. Maybe this is one of the reason I find ladies in hospital. I’m out amongst people.

I want to make it clear I don’t put myself above or below anyone but with internet dating it’s hard not to be cynical. There are a lot of simple people out there. One of the first questions I ask, as a bit of a test, is what music do you listen to and what bands are you into? Most responses are ‘I like all music’ or name a teenage popstar. When I look through peoples profiles the majority of people don’t tend to have any passionate interests. Shopping, coffee, partying, nightlife, walks on the beach, Harry Potter. My interests include reading nonfiction, modern philosophy, art, photography, conversation, web design, podcasts, documentaries, conspiracies etc. I’m not sure if this is a turn on for most ladies because if it is… it is yet to work!

#009 – Clozapine – Medication

Wikipedia defines Clozapine as this:
“Clozapine, sold under the brand name Clozaril among others, is an atypical antipsychotic medication. It is mainly used for schizophrenia that does not improve following the use of other antipsychotic medications. In those with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder it may decrease the rate of suicidal behavior. It is more effective than typical antipsychotics, particularly in those who are treatment-resistant”

So basically Clozapine is an antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia when all other medications have failed. I have been on Cloz for over a decade. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I’m on a medium dose but it still knocks me off my feet. I’ve been on a lot of medications and nothing comes close to the power of Clozapine. Some people take it in the morning but I couldn’t imagine doing this as it makes me a complete zombie. I take a tiny dose in the late afternoon, about 50mg to 100mg, before taking my full dose an hour before I intend on sleeping. It works wonders for my insomnia. I’ve been on a few sleeping aids – Tamazepam, Stilnox, Imovain and I still take melatonin but nothing guarantees sleep as well as Clozapine. I get my 12 hours sleep almost every night/day.

I have to have a blood test once a month, the day before seeing my shrink, as the medication can screw with my white blood cells. There has never been any issues with this ever as it is rare. Just a precaution. Very few pharmacies dispense it so I have to travel to collect it and only registered psychiatrists can prescribe it. I also have to have an echocardiogram once every six months. Oh, and let’s not forget the drooling during sleep!

Even with all of these inconveniences I need to continue taking it. The positives outweigh the negatives. It helps me control my delusions, voices and it takes the edge off my anxiety.

#008 – Professor Burrows and ICU

I don’t like bashing the dead but I’m going to! My first psychiatrist was Professor Burrows. RIP. This was the shrink who diagnosed me with schizophrenia when I was admitted to the intensive care unit at the Melbourne clinic. I’m on the fence as to what I feel towards this chap. He was responsible for getting to the bottom of my illness but I question as to how he did it.

So the shit hit the fan with mental state. After my GP was unable to provide the professional help I needed he got me a bed at the clinic. The ICU was a small 6 bedroom ward for those at risk of hurting themselves. I was monitored 24 hours a day. My shoelaces were removed, plastic cutlery etc. This was a very scary and confusing time for me. I was soon somehow put under the care of ‘the prof’. He popped his head in and briefly introduced himself and gave me a questionnaire for me fill out overnight. What some of these questions had to do with psychiatry I still don’t understand. A lot were sexual based where I wrote ‘ask me in person’ which he never did. The following day was my first day as a schizophrenic (along with depression but I’d been medicated for this since I was 16). This is when I learnt what medication was really about. He put me on HUGE amounts of drugs. Apparently he was well known to do this. My first psych med was Serequel. The average dose is between 100mg and 400mg. Burrows put me on 2400mg! That was 800mg three times a day! There were other meds too but I’ve forgotten what they were. At that stage I had no knowledge of pharmacology.

After a week I was released from ICU to the general ward where I was to spend a further six weeks. I was still a patient under the Prof and I would see him twice a day. You’re probably thinking that this guy had a lot of concern for me but here’s the thing. Each consultation was no longer than thirty seconds. I kid you not! He would pop his head into my room at 7am every morning and basically say ‘Have a good day and I’ll see you tonight.” That night he would come into the cafeteria where I was eating tea, put his hand on my shoulder and tell me he’s see me in the morning. This guy was being paid for each of these ‘consultations’ and he literally had hundreds of patients. This isn’t to mention the funds he was being paid by the drug companies. Do the math!

He was still my psychiatrist once I was released home. One of the problems was that the Melbourne Clinic is in Richmond so I had to travel for hours each week to have my 5 minute appointments. My parents, especially my mum, had a lot to do with my health. Because I was so unwell and heavily medicated there were a lot decisions I couldn’t make for myself. They never liked Burrows and started looking around for a different doctor. They came across another professor who was also based at the clinic who they thought may have done a better job. They were right.

Not long after I had a melt down and was once again admitted to the clinic. It turned out that Burrows was doing his (30 seconds) consultations and he heard I had arrived. I was settling in and filling out paperwork when he burst in the doors and was obviously pissed. He told my old man that he was wrong with the decision and that it didn’t matter who I was under – I would never get better. Then he stormed out. He hardly gave my dad or I a chance to speak. That was the last I saw of him until years later when I saw him pass when I was an inpatient under another shrink. I said hello and he didn’t know who I was.

I recently heard he had a fall and died. He was in his eighties (and still practising)

#007 – Alcohol Rehab

This is a big one! I’m lost as to where to start? Instead of writing about my drinking and the numerous problems it has caused me I might tackle my two stints in rehab. The alcohol ward is in the same hospital I am currently in and have been in many times before. The program is recognised as being the leading rehab in the country and people travel from all over to attend. The program goes for a month and I was an inpatient twice. I also attended some day programs as an outpatient. I met some interesting people and got to know some of them well as we were stuck together for the whole month.

I learnt a lot. Did I put it into practice… Not really. I absorbed all of the theory and I attended all of the groups and AA every night but at the end of the day the responsibility falls on me. I am making the choice to put that drink to your mouth. I felt like a novice when it came to severity. There were some sick people in the program. People who were at deaths door. We’re talking about people who consumed bottles of vodka every day and this made my beer drinking seem like nothing. It was a wake up call as to what I didn’t want to become.

The groups were held at ‘the farm’ which was owned by the hospital out in a lovely homestead on ten acres property. It was quiet atmosphere where there was plenty of room to do your thing away from the other patients. We were transported there every week day. When we weren’t there we were doing classes in the hospital and there would be other outings for coffee and walks. We were also required to attend alcoholics anonymous meets most nights (I’ll leave my thoughts on AA for another post).

I struggled with a lot of the groups because I find it hard in group situations. I get paranoid that people are reading my thoughts and I’m reading theirs. I get continuous voices that distract me from what I’m meant to be concentrating on and because of this my anxiety kicks in. Because I was a new face to most of the meetings I was always targeted. I was always asked to speak. I of course would decline but I was always had to stand and say ‘Hello. My name is David. I’m an alcoholic but I’d prefer not to speak tonight.” Even something as simple as that fed my anxiety.

I didn’t remain sober for long. After all of the information I received on the dangers of drinking, after I saw what it did to people I found myself at the bottle shop on the same day I completed the program. It all came down to me and that was too much to bare. I can only imagine what my folks thought?! I couldn’t even make it a day without drinking and my parents had such high hopes that I would be a different person on exiting rehab.

I ended up finding myself back in rehab a couple of years later. It wasn’t full-time for me as I was spending half my time in the psychiatric ward and the other half on the farm.

Since leaving the rehab there has been plenty of relapse. I still go through binges. I’m not like the average alcoholic who drinks spirits on a daily basis but I have great difficulties stopping at one or two beers. I would usually drink heavily, wake up hungover and buy more. Then I would go some time without drinking at all. Weeks sometimes. But I always fall off the wagon. It’s going to be a life long battle! 

#006 – Psychiatric Admission – Day Two

 Another day in paradise. There is very little to report on. I spent almost the entire day sitting in the communal lounge staring at my laptop. I’ve been trying to work out this blog website. For something as simple as posting blogs the website is pretty intense. There has been a bit to learn. So that has been keeping my busy and sane and I’ve been listening to my podcasts simultaneously. I’ve made a conscious effort to leave my room and spend time with the handful of patients and nurses. The ward is extremely quite which is how I like things.

This place has almost become my second home. I’m not sure how many months or even years I have spent here. The nurses have always treated me well and they have always known my symptoms but since my last admission most the nurses who worked here in the past have moved on. This is a shame because I had built a rapport with them and enjoyed chatting to them. Not to say anything bad about the replacement nurses but they seem fresh. They haven’t had the experience in dealing with peoples diagnosis especially mine which is complex. It’s frustrating and tedious going through my history over and over with the newbies. As usual there was a tonne of paperwork for me to fill. The same questions I have done a million times before. I still haven’t been examined by a doctor and I really hope it stays that way. I really don’t want any blood tests because I don’t want the results. My liver in particular. I know I’m not in the best physical health and I’d prefer to continue to live in denial. I can be a hypochondriac and worry about every ache and pain but rarely have it tended to by a doctor. I don’t want to know if I’m dying of cancer! I have to have a wisdom tooth removed and the thought of this terrifies me.

I saw Gem (psychiatrist) and that went well. We spoke for half an hour maybe. Discussed medications and he suggested I start attending some groups but that’s not going to happen. We both agreed that spending time outside of my room was a positive thing and it is but he wants to push me that little bit further and push me outside my comfort zone by doing some group activities. I really struggle being around other people especially when I have to contribute the the topic at hand. Paranoia is a bitch!

As far as hospital food goes it is really good. People complain but most of these people haven’t had a meal in the public system. People laugh when I tell them I like coming here because the food is good but it’s true.

I slept good. I’m now taking 300mg of Clozapine and this put me to sleep from 11pm but I woke at 3am and had a coffee before being urged by the night nurses to return to my bed and try and get more shuteye. I did and woke at about 7ish.

#005 – The King of Illiterature

 This isn’t really a post on mental health. It’s a post on my stupidity. I struggle with stuff I paid no attention to in school. I was to busy chasing girls, smoking weed and hanging out with mates. I did the bare minimum to get through each year. For me being popular and the class clown was much more important than homework and paying attention in class. I was to regret this in later life. I’m still sure I have dyslexia. I find spelling and grammar difficult. If it wasn’t for spellcheck my writing would probably only make sense to me. Having said all of that… it’s not the point of this site. I’m not here to dazzle people with my pronunciation and grammar it’s to simply document my psychiatric admission to hospital and mental health topics. My mathematics isn’t much better but like my spelling I can get by. I’m totally comfortable with my timetables and basic math but don’t ask me to tell you what x means and what algebra and trigonometry is because I’m clueless. Ahhh… a high school drop out!

#004 – The Nothing

 People are constantly wishing I did more with my time. Why don’t you get a hobby, why don’t you get out of bed and get some of that wonderful vitamin D in the sun, walk the dog, do a course, find a job or do some voluntary work? The truth is I am content with my lifestyle. Apart from suffering greatly with mental health my life is ok. Doing the above wasn’t/wont make me happier in myself. Sure, exercise will burn of some calories and help me get more natural sleep but it’s so much work and I hate every second of it! And yes mum and dad… I do sleep in but I’m also on some pretty intense medication and I’m a night owl and keep strange hours.

The things that normal people do doesn’t agree with me. The things that people find enjoyable are more like a chore for me. This includes most activities outside of the house. I occasionally get dragged along, kicking and screaming, to family gatherings or on a road trip somewhere but all I want to do is get back home and play with the computer, read a book, watch a documentary or Netlix or (if I’m in the mood for it to do some art or do some writing. I also enjoy web design and listening to podcasts.

The thing is: I don’t feel I need to do these things and in my eyes I’m not wasting time. What is wasting time anyway? If I’m enjoying doing the things I enjoy doing but fall outside of doing the whole walking along the beach… is there anything wrong with that? I think not! Whatever keeps me happy. The people that often say that I’m wasting my life away are often stressed out with work, family situations, finances, debt, bringing up children etc. Where does their happiness lye?

Something I don’t feel as strongly about is not working. As it stands I’m unemployed and on a government paid income. It was always drummed into me as a child from my old man how much he hated ‘doll bludgers’ and people who didn’t work. Dad has worked hard his whole life and had little time for the people who didn’t work and were receiving handouts. 

I guess what I have to comes to terms with is that I am stuck with this illness, like having a permanently broken bone. I can’t work! I’m sure there is a job I could do but what and where to find one. I have been to a number of job agencies and found them to be completely useless. I have plenty to do with my time and there is plenty of constructive things I could be doing but as for now I need to focus on my mental health which is a full-time job in itself!

#003 – My Schooling

I lived in nurturing caring home and I had everything going for me. When I was 16 I made the huge mistake of leaving the town that I grew up in and my social network to move to the city. This was a family decision and I was asked about my feelings about making the move by my parents. Not knowing any better – without hesitation I jumped at the opportunity. It sounded exciting and it would be a new beginning and an adventure. How wrong I would be.

I was entering year 10 into a school where I knew not a soul. Up until that point I didn’t realise how poor my social skills were outside of my beloved home town. I learnt I do not make friends easily. On top of this was that my grades were real poor. The only class I excelled in was art and that was only because I had an interest in it. If I don’t have an interest in something I’m destined to fail. If there is something I’m into I thrive. Unfortunately high school had nothing to offer me. Because I had paid no attention in the years leading up to the year ten curriculum I was totally lost. I was failing in style. So I had that lingering over me in a school where I was totally by myself. I used to spend recess and lunch breaks in the cubicles in the bathroom. Things got to a breaking point and in tears told my folks I couldn’t continue. They pulled me out immediately not knowing where I was headed or what I was going to do with my life. While I was attending school I was working casual hours at Maccas. Once I left I increased the my hours to 5 hours a day Monday – Friday. It didn’t take long before I discovered that I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. This is when I enrolled in a two year diploma course. There was such a contrast between high school and this new environment. These were the best years of my life. I loved all the classes… web design, print design, photography, life and still drawing classes. I was interested in it and I got near to perfect grades. I made good friends and I soaked up the city atmosphere. Country boy meets city! I was 17. Once I left I started my own design business but because I became unwell this went down hill. That’s for another blog.

Since then I have gone from one job to another but I always ended up quitting or getting fired. These days I’m on a disability support pension and haven’t had employment in years.

#002 – Psychiatric Admission – Day One

It was a big day. This post is to inform or prepare people for what to expect in a typical first day in a psych ward. I feel I have the authority to write about this as I have had close to twenty of them. I have experience in many medications, consultations with psychiatrists, psychologists, case managers and nurses. Also I have been to several different hospitals/clinics. A few of these were terrible while others fantastic. The facility where I reside at the moment is one of the fantastic ones. My last 14 stays have been at this hospital. I wouldn’t go anywhere else! People from across the country travel to visit this hospital so I’m lucky as I only live 20 minutes away. Along with the psychiatric ward they also have a alcohol rehab which I have done twice… that’s for another post.

I woke early with one eye open. I was sporting a slight hangover and was sluggish until I got some caffeine into me. I arrived early for admission. Reception went through the usual questions, checked my i insurance (It is a private hospital), did a breath test which is not what everyone need do but because of my history with booze they made sure I was sober. Yep… no problems there.

I am currently in a large room with 4 beds but I’m the only occupant. I don’t share! Then the fun begins. Two nurses that looked as if they had just left school start to go through the questionnaires. Same questions I have been asked a million times. In my earlier years this made me really uncomfortable. Bringing up topics like suicide, self-harm and trying to communicate the psychosis I experience used to be hard but now it comes naturally. I have spoken to sooo many doctors and nurses over the years about my mental state it’s almost like a script in my head that gets exercised often. There’s no more embarrassing topics. I figure these shrinks and nurses have seen a lot worse than me. I don’t think they’d be easily startled.

The ward is really quiet. Six patients maybe? This is how I like it. I also feel the level of care increases if the nurses don’t have a bundle of wackos. On my first admission to the Melbourne Clinic I was overwhelmed with how man people were there. It was a mini city with maybe one hundred patients. I didn’t know any better because I hadn’t been introduced to smaller units.

My shrink who I will call Gem visited after tea. He spent close to an hour with me and we had a productive chat. We discussed new medications to fight the crippling anxiety and he increased my Clozapine. I’ve been seeing Gem for over twelve years so we know each other well… what I should say is he knows me very well. I know very little about him. That’s how psychiatrists like it.

The smoking area closes at 10pm so everyone races to have that last dart. I’ve come to learn over the years how many people with mental illness, especially people with schizophrenia smoke. At this stage after having my increased dose of Clozapine! I finally get some rest. Asleep at 11pm. Goodnight!

#001 – Welcome to this Mess!

Welcome to all. As I sit here on my hospital bed I ponder what got me to this place again? Lets get it out there… This is my 14th psychiatric admission in as many years. Where does one start?! Do I begin with my first psychotic attack? My stay in the Intensive Care Unit at the Melbourne clinic under professor Burrows, the numerous medications I have swallowed, my bouts of serious self-harm, the angels and demons that contest for my soul, the horrible stress I have put my parents under? My drug and alcohol battles?

So let’s start by describing what I want to accomplish with this blog. First of all I’m using this a tool to help me from going insane with boredom. I have a lot of hours to fill during the day and night. The hospital offers a lot of groups and activities… non of which stimulate me as they have been done many times before. Many times! Another reason I enjoy doing this because of my passion for computers and the web. I have my diploma in graphic design and visual communication and I love web design. Lastly I have always been a prolific journal writer. I have dozens of books filled with my my ramblings and thoughts. I have always found writing to be therapeutic but once the book is full it gets tossed to the side and never really reflected back on. This is similar except in digital form… and it’s here for the whole world to get a small glympse into the working of Dave’s brain. I’m also enjoying using my new laptop!

So here I sit. Medicated and ready for sleep… if I manage to find it?! The smoking room closes at 10pm so I find it easier to sleep rather than go through the nicotine withdrawals. I smoke too much whenever I’m in hospital.

Cheers for reading. There will be plenty more to come in other posts.