31st December 2018

Yo.

So.

Time to give the thread a NYE update. Feels like a looooong time since the last update, I guess there’s nothing for it and we jump right in..

I had a pretty serious mental health relapse and was admitted to hospital on the 18th of September. This was the second time I’ve experienced what the doctors call a psychotic episode, the first being end of may/start of june 2017. That time, it was brought on by smoking a little too much weed and some fairly intense sleep deprivation, unfortunately this time it was au-natural (no drugs, had been sleeping/eating etc fine). Apparently a second episode is quite a lot more serious than a first (i.e. a big chunk of people are one and done, chance of most recent episode being the last decreases with each further episode..), it’s pretty gutting because obviously after last year, maintaining my health was absolute top priority for this year, plus the medical people have made it clear that there’s a decent shot this is just a part of my life I have to deal with moving forward..

I guess I should try and describe the experience of an episode, but honestly it’s pretty difficult to express what it’s like. Both times I’ve had a rising feeling that something wasn’t quite right – I actually phoned my brother the afternoon of the 18th and told him I wasn’t sure if everything was ok – I was thinking about taking some of my left over medication from the first time round, but I decided that since I was eating and sleeping, I was fine and I should just keep on keeping on. I went to uni for my second day of lectures, left my tutorial early on the afternoon, went home to get changed for the boxercise class with my volunteering pal.. I remember that on the bus to the class I was 100% sure something was going wrong – I phoned my brother again (who had left work early and was coming through) and I was telling him to be careful.. I was thinking a lot about like terrorist attack stuff, the bin lorry disaster in Glasgow and general car accidents and stuff… I felt sure that something really bad was going to happen to someone I cared about. Anyway, we kinda decided together that I should get off the bus and head home – I was gutted to do this, since I knew what a big step it was for my pal, but yeah.. I was at the bottom of Leith walk, like 50m walk from my house – when I set off I text my brother that I was fine, enjoying my walk in the sunshine, everything’s good and I’ll see him later on.

My memory of this is really pretty hazy, but by the time I got home I’d sent easily several hundred messages to a whole bunch of people (including my volunteering pal

).. some like accusing them of being in on something, some apologising for being crazy.. lots and lots telling people to be safe – not to gamble, not to drink or do drugs.. reading back on them, they’re mostly just incoherent, but at the time it felt like nothing at all was coincidence – every single thing I saw was connected in some way to everything else. Even stuff like the colour of someone’s eyes, or a random person’s body language on the street. I was also pretty convinced that.. ‘they’/ the man/ whoever.. could see my phone screen and that nothing was private. I also had this feeling like I could control my reality almost to a perfect extent – like if I wanted to see someone enough I could just make it happen. But yeah, I guess my over-riding feeling was the something bad was happening to the people I care about, that I might have the chance to stop it (this was different from the first time where I felt helpless).. all mixed in with the sense that my reality wasn’t really as I was perceiving it/ wasn’t to be taken too seriously.

Anyway, yeah by the time I got home I was super upset – upset like angry. I was pissed off about these bad things I was imagining happening, and drawing all sorts of absurd conclusions about stuff – I was storming around my flat, messaging people nonsense and just being super confused about who I was, what was going on, what was real etc. In a moment of clarity I phoned the police on myself – as it turned out at least 1 neighbour had already done so. I think it was just after that I smashed through my window – I felt like I needed to tell people what was going on, but couldn’t use my phone, so I just started smashing my left elbow at my window till I broke through it (didn’t fancy just opening it for some reason

), then was out on my 3rd floor window-ledge shouting **** at people in the street. Luckily I didn’t hurt myself too badly, I was intially bleeding a fair bit but no lasting damage. But yeah so, when the police arrived (felt like extremely quickly) I was suspicious about whether they were who they said they were – my most vivid memory of the whole thing was two officers leaning through the top half of my door (which they’d put in) trying to get through to me, and me coming through with last night’s sweet potato in my hand, half eating it half throwing it at them, giving them dog’s abuse. In the end there were 6 units (including a dog) at the scene and they cordoned off my whole street. I fought with them tooth and nail, they ended up handcuffing my hands (and feet for a while), while I was telling them to go **** themselves and asking for them to set the dog on me. At the time I didn’t give a **** if I lived or died, I felt like I had to fight off these people to stop something bad happening to my loved ones and I felt glad to do it. Pretty emotional remembering it all tbh, I was pretty sure I was going to die (as I was first time around). My brother arrived while they were removing me from my flat, and a police officer friend had also come straight to mine after seeing the weird messages, they really helped diffuse the situation.

Anyway, hospital was… intense. Though I’d been taken there handcuffed in a police van, I knew I was there voluntarily – so the first few days I basically spent distrusting everyone, not taking/faking taking the meds and trying to get out. Ended up damaging a fire escape and an internal door trying to forcibly leave, I also called the fire brigade at one point, before I was sectioned under the mental health act (which means I had to stay there for 2 weeks and accept treatment). In a strange way this was a relief – it was super surreal to have all the nurses/doctors plus my family agree I was there of my own free will, but not let me leave. I had my own room and en-suite in the hospital, which was such a blessing – apparently if I’d been admitted a couple years before I would’ve been in a dorm of 4 people… given how paranoid I felt, especially about other patients, that would not have gone well. I was holding on to most of my delusions at this point – I felt like there was some ****ery going on with a few of the nurses and the meds – my basic heuristic was to distrust anyone male, trust anyone female if they would speak openly about themselves. But yeah – the facilities and staff were pretty amazing, pretty tough job on a ward of 16 crazy adults

As you might imagine I had some pretty weird encounters with other patients – I think in a perfect world you’d keep crazy people away from each other, though saying that actually there was a lot of real humanity on the ward and I had some super real conversations with some people about life and etc.

Anyway, I was on lorazepam/diazepam (anti-anxiety) for about a week, and I’ll stay on quitiapine (anti-psychotic/sedative) for at least a year. Basically as soon as I’d calmed down, the staff started talking about discharge – in the end my sectioning got scrubbed after 9 or 10 days, I went and stayed with my Mum for a few weeks after that, I’m back in my own place now basically living my normal life after building it back up over the last couple months.

These meds seem to really suit me – first time around I was on olanzipine, it was so sedating I couldn’t follow a conversation = basically couldn’t do anything. I didn’t want to see anyone because I could see I was terrible company, plus as I realised how much I’d ****ed my life up, I felt pretty depressed for a good few months. I could basically recognise that I’d gone from living a life that was very close to how I’d choose it to be, to being 28yo, living with my mum and being on anti-psychotics. I’d say feeling depressed in that spot is fairly justifiable, so idk how much the medication had to do with it, but on these new pills I feel pretty good while I’m awake, only problem is that I’m oversleeping pretty considerably (like 12h/day). Hopefully that continues, but it seems to me like everyone around me expects me to get low again (yes, that is as annoying as it seems

). I think because I was in Vienna first time around, I fell through the cracks in the healthcare system – I have a heap more medical support these days (I see a nurse every few weeks and a psychiatrist every couple months).

All the medical profession seem to love talking about potential diagnoses – for a while in the hospital they were throwing around some pretty scary terms, but now they seem to have settled on ‘bi-polar with manic tendencies’. Basically in the lead up to both episodes I’d been what I’d consider to be smashing life – working hard, learning new things, making plans for the future, working out, feeling good. Given that, plus feeling depressed after the first episode, that’s enough for them to settle on that term. My feeling is that all these terms are super -EV for patients. Most of them are big umbrella terms, where for example someone needs to exhibit 4 out of 10 symptoms to be categorised as X. That means two people who have none of the same symptoms could both be X – so it’s super screwy. People are obviously crazy across a whole bunch of dimensions and in a bunch of different ways/magnitudes etc, I guess lumping them into groups helps the medical profession, but I don’t know it really helps the individual.

So yeah, to me it is what it is – obviously this isn’t how I’d have chosen to have my life go.. I believe in personal responsibility and I’ve no interest in playing the victim here, everyone keeps telling me this is just a thing that happens to some people but idk.. I know that if I’d trusted my instincts a little more, or had taken the possibility of a relapse seriously, I probably could’ve headed off this episode before it became as serious as it did. I also know that if you ran the situation 1,000 times, there are many in which someone (most frequently myself) get seriously hurt. Looking forward, I’ll continue to focus on what I can control and do a good job of it. That means no drugs, not too much alcohol, never missing a dose of my meds, doing what I can to stay upbeat irl (exercise, meditation, cold therapy, seeing people, eating healthy etc) and being on the lookout for symptoms/being honest with medical people.

Been putting off making this post for some time, actually had some reservations about whether or not to tell the whole story, but you don’t need to look far in the poker world to find guys who’ve had problems with their mental health, and I’d be a helluva hypocrite to bleat the ‘openness and honesty’ narrative if I kept this all from the public eye. So yeah, there it is, if you have any questions then hit me up and I’ll answer honestly. Been typing forever so immawrapitup right here, will do another more general update including poker things at some point in the new year.

Happy new year to all you guys and gals up ITT, look after yourselves and here’s to a happy, healthy 2019.

GL out there.

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