Taking a break and prioritising my own mental health: time for a holiday and some serious R&R!
Updated: Jan 28
This week, I was supposed to be continuing on the theme of spirituality & mental illness, but I have had to think again because my bipolar brain has had other ideas!
It’s interesting to note (it’s not interesting - it’s irritating), that I am still not totally out of the woods from this disorder even though I’ve been in remission from it for at least 18 months now.
Recent developments have confirmed this annoying fact, and, although not too worrying, have made me start to rethink a few things, the result of which is that I’ve finally decided to take my own advice, be ‘the expert of myself’, and step back a little bit!
I’ve finally realised that I need to start practicing what I preach by listening to what my brain is telling me, and give myself an extended summer break & mental health detox - starting from today!
The sleep saga continues…
Last week, I mentioned that I was having trouble sleeping again and things still haven’t sorted themselves out, which is why I’m posting this update today.
A few things seem to have combined together to create this current episode of brain dysfunction and I really don't know which one is to blame – maybe it’s all of the following – I’m really not quite sure!
I’ve been banging on about my hatred of the antipsychotic ‘quetiapine’ in some of my recent posts.
It’s from a class of drug that was forced on me almost exactly four years ago now when I was incarcerated in hospital, and it has (predictably) only ever caused me side effects and problems.
It’s like an industrial sleeping pill (which is kind of a good thing when you’re unable to sleep when manic) BUT when the episode passes it’s impossible to withdraw from because you find that you cannot sleep AT ALL without it.
I’m always hesitant when it comes to discussing the medications because it’s such a contentious issue, but after receiving an outpouring of messages, all with a similar theme (i.e quetiapine has ruined my life), I’ve stopped being hesitant and have started voicing my true thoughts and opinions – there will be much more on this in my future posts…
Anyway, I have finally withdrawn from quetiapine completely, having finally got down to 2mg at the beginning of last week.
I was only ever coming down from 25mg because I refused to take any more than that, and was only ever really taking it as a sleeping aid, however, even getting off that minimal dose has been an indescribable NIGHTMARE!
I’ve experienced really patchy and disrupted sleep throughout this withdrawal or ‘tapering’ process, especially when I’ve dropped down in dose, and I’ve also been getting intermittent headaches which, (now that I’m so anti the drugs), I’m reluctant to start medicating!
Anyway, I finally came off the bloody thing last week but since I came down from 2mg (the teeniest speck of powder), I’ve been struggling to sleep at all.
This is all highly irritating, but I’ve made the decision that that’s it now – I’m not relenting and taking it again – I’m getting off for good this time.
This decision was confirmed when an expert in the field of withdrawal got in touch with me over the weekend and told me that my tapering protocol was actually quite aligned with the most recent advice – so, GOOD RIDDANCE quetiapine – I am never taking another psych med (other than high dose levothyroxine of course) EVER AGAIN!
Another factor to contribute to this recent brain dysfunction is that I’ve been ‘all in my head’ in recent weeks and feeling really quite wrung out as a result.
I’ve written somewhere between 150 and 200 posts on this new blog since starting it in January and I think I’ve slightly O.D’ed on the subject of mental health / illness / well-being!
I feel so passionate about the subject and know that there is a tonne of useful information to come out of this story, but I often find myself lying awake thinking about what I’m going to write and that’s not been overly conducive to getting a good night’s sleep!
Note to self – prioritise your own mental health first, or you really won’t be able to help anyone else!
This is another area that I’ve hesitated before discussing because I know that opinions in this area differ massively also!
I have to admit that I was always quite cynical when it came to any of this stuff in the past, probably because I was too ill to be able to appreciate any of it, but also because I just thought it was all ‘woo-woo’, claptrap and poppycock!
However! Now that I am considering things from a more all-round, inclusive or ‘holistic’ perspective, I realise that meeting my emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs is just as important as factoring in my physical needs – the answer to full mental wellness is a combination of everything!
Over the last week, I’ve been discussing the link between mental illness and spirituality, and this seems to have coincided with a shift in astrological energy.
We have just transitioned out of something called ‘The Lion’s Gate’ which is an ancient astrological event, and (make of this what you will), but my sleep pattern has matched it in the most extraordinary way!
I started sleeping less from the 28th July when the portal first opened and this got progressively worse until the 12th August (the last night of the Lion’s Gate) when I did not sleep AT ALL!
I realise that some people will think that this is nonsensical ‘hoopla’ but I really do think that these shifts and astrological patterns have an effect on us – it’s certainly possible anyway, and I like to keep an open mind!!
This was all confirmed (to me anyway), when I read a post recently, by a spiritualist healer which I’ve added below – I realise some people will think this is bonkers but honestly, these things are so closely related!
It's integration time! This time between the two Full Moons in Aquarius - including the 8-8 Lion's Gate New Moon - has been a LOT. There's been an infusion of insight, intuitive downloads, and emotions. You have a lot to process. Right now, all our personal planets Mercury, Venus and Mars are in the sign of Virgo. Virgo is the sign of integration and synthesis. It is an EARTH sign. One of the ways you process information is by staying grounded. You need to let your body process energy. If you stay in your thinking mode - all in your mind, you will remain confused. Connect with nature. Get grounded. Listen to your body. You might need to rest more. Or exercise. Or talk. Make sure you are processing all the high-octane energy that is moving through you. Have a beautiful day! #dailydose #dailydoseoflove #dailyforecast #dailyoracle #dailyhoroscope #astrology #numerology #forecast #divination
Learning from unlikely sources
In the spirit of being open-minded, I thought I would add a couple of other thoughts this morning that have come to me over the weekend.
The first comes from a dog, the second from an eleven-year-old child and the third from a post on Facebook – has sleep deprivation finally tipped me over the edge I wonder?!!
Even though it does sound ridiculous, I really do believe that we can learn from all sorts of sources, whether that be animals, children, the environment, or the universe – I think it’s good to at least try to be broad minded about these things!
Dogs and their priorities
I’ve always known this, but animals are so much more adept when it comes to self-care than us idiot humans are!
Their priorities are so much better; it’s just eat, sleep, exercise, relax, repeat, and they don’t complicate things like we do! I think we could all learn so much especially by the example of dogs which are such intelligent and amazing companions and friends.
The main difference between them and us is that they don’t have that sense of ego which constantly sends us round the bend.
They don’t look in the mirror and say ‘I hate the way I look’ or ‘I’m such a loser, why can’t I be more successful’, they just accept whatever the situation and make the best of it – what a great example they are!
We would all do well to learn from this!
Children and their intuition
I had a lovely message yesterday from one of my wonderfully loyal readers which really made me smile so I’ve decided to include it in today’s post.
This is what she sent me:
Good Morning Tom,
Hope you are ok, we’d a few days away en famille in Wales, so with a bit of peace I’m catching up on all your posts.
I know you said in one of them that strangely you are struggling to sleep again. Could it be with all your outstanding writing that you are over stimulating your beautiful mind & heart?
I sleep but I wake up very early & yesterday my very sage 11yrs old Rosie said to me,
‘Did I know that if one lies absolutely still for 15 mins you will fall asleep.’ ‘Really & where did you read that?’ ‘It’s a scientific fact!’
Righto well there’s no use ever much arguing a point with our Rosie, but I tried it out early this morning & it worked!
Here’s hoping you had a restful night and thank you for another very insightful post!
Thank you so much to Rosie! I am going to be trying this one out too!
Facebook – yes you can be helpful after all!
Having rejoined Facebook to (try) to spread the word about this blog, I have actually been pleasantly surprised by a few nice posts I’ve seen, (in between the inordinate number of ‘life validation’ updates admittedly!)
Anyway, one of them really caught my eye on Saturday and with my new found love of planting and growing things (which is amazing for mental well-being by the way), I decided to give it a try.
I now have three roses growing – one out of a banana, and two out of potatoes with honey – see amazing video below! – I’m well aware that I really have lost the plot with this sleep deprivation but here it is anyway!
Time for some R&R
Having finally given myself permission to have some time off from saving the world from mental illness, I am going to be practicing what I preach and really prioritising self-care and (again I know it’s woo-woo) but, self-love and compassion too!
I can’t believe some of the stuff I write on here because for years I have hated myself way too much to consider doing any of these things, but now that I’m better, I realise that it’s all so important!
So, this week I’m going to be connecting with nature in a huge way and getting ‘out of my head’… this isn’t going to be easy but it’s kind of essential if I want to get my sleep back!
I’m also going to be supporting some of my ‘mental illness troop’ and am hopefully catching up an old pal from hospital later on this week.
At the end of the week, I’m heading to the North Yorkshire coast where my granny used to have a holiday cottage which will be a reminiscent and healing experience because a lot of trauma has gone down in the time since I was last there!
I’m hoping that a change of scene, some seriously long walks, and a dose of crisp sea air will also help to send me to sleep!
Only time will tell!
Coming up in the blog
I have already discussed so many topics on this site and initially I was worried that I was going to run out of ideas but I've now realised that there is absolutely no chance of that ever happening!
When I return to the blog I’ll firstly be finishing my series on spirituality and mental illness by discussing the ‘Mind Brain Problem’ and then I’ll be moving on to other topics including:
NLP or ‘neurolinguistic programming’ (in which I start training in September), languages and language in mental health, sport and exercise, more on nutrition and its role in mental well-being, more on antipsychotic withdrawal and iatrogenic harm (moving onto antidepressants aaarrrggghhhh), as well as continuing with my new ‘Voices of Courage’ series.
If anyone has an interesting story / opinion / discussion point that they would like to share, then do please get in touch!
I will also be continuing in my mission to get noticed so that I can help more people and get my (I know this is bold but), incredibly important book published – there have been some developments there but I’m not ready to share anything yet!
I will be back at the end of next week when (hopefully) my sleep has been restored and I am feeling fully recharged, refreshed, reset, and raring to go again!
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,