Guest Post – Mark

I have followed Mark for a long time on twitter and he is someone I have great respect for! I was delighted when he agreed to write a post for my blog and I hope you enjoy this as much as I have.

Music is helping Mark in is recovery and you will be pleased to know I have added his songs to the blog below.

This post may be triggering for some as it talks about suicide so please be careful if this subject may be too much for you… now over to Mark

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My story starts on Oct 17th 2001. The day my life changed forever.  I was working as a musician and working for a production company. I also ran 4 performing art schools for children. That day was a normal working day for me another gig another show. During that day we were on the road driving towards the venue when I was involved in a severe road traffic accident. I was a passenger and we were hit by a drunk driver coming round the corner at high-speed. That’s the moment the lights went out and one life ended and another life began. People were killed but I ended up in hospital seriously injured.  So began a long dark journey. I suffered broken bones and a brain injury. After months of recovery it became very apparent that I was not the same anymore. Headway got involved and so began the long slow process of starting life again and trying to recover only now it was different.  I suffered a frontal lobe brain injury. My emotions and everything about my personality had changed. I also found I couldn’t do what I used to do so on that day I had my life stolen from me. Another way of putting it is I was raped of my life. Months went into years and years. I was diagnosed with clinical depression PTSD and borderline personality disorder.

During the following years I attempted to take my own life on several occasions.  From taking overdoses to standing on a train track waiting for a train to come. The train didnt come. Once I was allowed to drive again I also drove to the lake district and took another overdose but some how I was found by the police and was rushed to hospital. We lost our house our cars are savings and most of what we owned .During this time I spent a lot of time inside an acute psychiatric hospital on a secure ward . I did not want to live any more because my life had ended as I saw it , I couldn’t earn the money I was earning and I couldn’t look after my family. My family went through hell my wife wanted to leave me and my children needed counselling. Such was the damage on our lives. During this time I was given a CPN called Kelly Perkins . She turned out to be an angel a saviour . I now owe my life to her. Along with many talking therapies  CBT and others. She along with Lyn Atkins another angel from headway kept us together as a family. Without their help we would not be together today.
Another problem I encountered was the lack of understanding from some family members. Often stigma is very close to home and  on one occasion drove me to another suicide attempt.

In 2010 we decided that the best thing we could do was to move to try and start again as everything around us reminded us of our old life. We moved from Bedfordshire to Dorset.  We settled into a quiet life by the sea. This was the first time I was trying to live a new life with some hope. Sadly during the spring of 2013 I suffered a relapse and ended back inside an acute ward. I was again suffering extreme anxiety depression and suicide thoughts again.
During my stay I found an old guitar and for some reason I started to play a bit again. This resulted in my wife bringing in my guitar.  I now found I had words and songs pouring out of me so I started to write and write.

During this time I had also started to become aware of Dorset Mental Health Forum. Somehow through my recovery this time I found a new purpose and that was that I had a passion for mental health issues and all the songs I was writing was about my lived experience , I had found a new voice and so I started to talk more openly about it. I was on a new meds regime and these were starting to work. I then found myself having meetings with Dorset Mental Health Forum. This led to me getting involved with something called Tea and Talking in conjunction with Time To Change leading to becoming a peer specialist for the forum now I had found a new purpose in life and that was to spread the message of recovery and to tackle stigma. I have been recording all the new material which is now nearly finished and will be available soon. Recently I was inspired to write a song for the Time to Talk campaign which I have done. I have also been asked to write a song for Blue Apple Hero’s about PTSD .
My passion and focus is now on raising awareness and sending out a message through music and speaking that recovery is possible even from the darkest place. I will live with what I have for the rest of my life but thanks to some great people and of course my wife who has suffered greatly  and family I move on to a new life, one that is wanting to see and help others who suffer . That’s my lived experience and I share it in the hope that it brings you hope.

Mark Storey

Mark can be found on twitter here

If you would like to submit a post for this blog please get in touch with me via twitter/facebook or email using the contact page

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Guest Post – The Bipolar Biker

BPD. OCD. SH. PTSD. H

The above are just letters, yes? Meaningless to some, a mere jumble of random letters. Or a seriously shit hand if you’re playing Scrabble.

Bur what does it all mean?

Well, they all mean a lot to me. In fact, they define me.

I’ll give you a run down of what they all mean.

BPD – that’s the Bipolar Disorder that I live with. And when I say ‘I’, I mean me and the people who I live and work with. It’s not just hard to live with the feelings that come free with every bout of depression, but it’s hard for those that support and care for me.

BPD is mainly manic depression, which can control so much of my life. The manic highs ain’t what they’re cracked up to be.

Imagine a hyper active 3-year-old on the mother of all sugar rushes. Then imagine that 3-year-old as a 5’7″, 14 stone guy who knows how to look after himself and is pretty much unstoppable.. That’s what my partner has to put up with. It makes me do things that normal men my age wouldn’t think of doing.

When I’m on a manic high, I have a wicked sense of humour and (so it’s been said) a cheeky glint in my eye and I can be very confidant. Or overly confidant. I feel untouchable. Totally 100% invincible. And that’s when I put myself at risk or in harm’s way. All without realising it. It’s hard to explain, but trust me, it’s a damn sight harder to live with. Just ask my long-suffering partner.

And then there’s the flip side – the depression. Some people think that those who suffer with depression can ‘snap out of it’ or ‘pull ourselves together’. It’s not that easy.

There are days that just drag on, minute by minute, hour by hour. The days where I can’t move, I can’t think, I can’t ‘be’. Those are the dark days, the days full of self loathing and every breath, every movement is painful.

My skin feels like its paper-thin. Just a breeze can feel like razor cuts. It’s not a real pain, I know that, but during these times, it’s real enough. Even thinking hurts me. I can’t get motivated to even take care of everyday hygiene. I can’t shave. Looking in a mirror I see a waste of space, a failure, and I hate myself. I don’t mean a general ‘dislike’, I’m meaning pure, unadulterated hatred. And that hatred is for every part of me. My body, the way I look, the way I am.

I wish, as I’m sure a lot of people who suffer with depression, that there was just a happy medium. No depression. No mania. Just me. But, there are times when I think that would make me boring. Or maybe not……

Then there’s OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Or, as I prefer to call it, CDO as it’s more ordered. Whilst I acknowledge that I’m lucky as I don’t have extreme OCD like some people, the small effects that I DO have are more than enough.

Some people find my OCD or bête noir amusing, and I suppose they are, but they can make life difficult for me. I can’t have melted chocolate near me AT ALL!!! I have to check locks on doors and windows at least 5 times. And even then, I’ve been known to tour round the house and re-check. Or drive back from a trip out to make sure the door is shut and secure.

Sounds funny, but it can really put the mockers on a day out or can lead to sleepless nights. Which can lead to other issues.

On to SH. That’s Self Harm. I self harm. Not just when I’m in the pits of depression, but also when I’m on a manic high. Self harm has had a bad press recently and for some sad reason seems to have become a fashion statement for ‘da yoof’ of today, but it’s not just the teenage girl in her room making tentative scratches on her arms that is the typical self harmer.

It’s not just cutting. I don’t cut. Every one of my fingers has been broken. My wrist has a hairline fracture that went unseen to. I hit things. It was mistaken for temper tantrums when I was younger. But it’s not a temper thing. It’s not an attention seeking thing. It’s a way to feel. Something. Anything.

Some times I just feel nothing. No feeling for anyone, anything or myself. So, the pain I feel reminds me that I’m alive. Kind of…. A negative feeling is better than no feeling. And the thing is, at the time, I don’t realise I’m doing it. I wake up with bruises or another finger dislocated.

So, how did I hide the bruising, the dislocations? Easy. I have an active job. I have done jobs that are very physical and so the bruising were ‘part of the job’.

The PTSD is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This used to be called ‘Shell Shock’ during the First World War, and soldiers suffered from it because of the constant barrage of shells from the enemy. The soldiers who were afflicted by it couldn’t carry out their duties as a soldier and were therefore, treated as deserters and shot.

So what brings about PTSD? Naturally, I wasn’t under constant shelling from an enemy army. The clue is in the title. Post. Trauma.

During my life, I have suffered at the hands of others. And that has left some serious mental scarring. I have lived with this all my life, and until a bout of hypnotherapy, it remained locked away. It was almost as if it was a ghost memory, something that’s there, but nothing that I can recall.

It did, however, make me confused as to who and what I was. I went through my teenage years angry (or even more angry than the usual teen) and I never knew why. Nor did my parents.

Long story short, I felt my sexuality was questionable. And so I ‘experimented’ when I was 16 or so. Big mistake. I ended up getting attacked.

And who could I tell?

Not

A

Soul.

And so I lived with that and buried it deep inside. I have coping mechanisms that I put into place to ‘block’ bad things. But the thing is, they’re never really blocked. The memories just sit there and fester. And sometimes they come out with explosive results.

As did mine thanks to hypnotherapy. I still have nightmares about it. But, with support, I’m coping with it.

And there we go, dear reader.

Well…. almost. What about the ‘H’ I hear you ask?

Well that is simple.

The H is for Human.

Same as you, dear reader. I have my faults, and plenty of them. I know that. And I acknowledge it.

But, as we humans do, I have my good points too.

I said at the beginning of this post that these things define me. And they have.

Even with all my ‘issues’ I have lived a fruitful life. I have found love. I have found someone who I can talk to, someone I can share my deepest secrets with. I have felt the love that only having children can bring. I have served in the police force and served well. I’m able to hold down a job.

And for the most part, I have found understanding. But I have also found ignorance too. And I hope that the stigma that is attached to mental illness can be got rid of. I hope so. I really do.

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them that I have a mental illness. But its part of me. It IS me. But I’m not brave for talking about it. Far from it.

I’m just me. Just a whole lotta thoughts and a load of letters that are a rubbish Scrabble hand….

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Follow more from the Bipolar Biker at his blog here or connect with him on twitter here