BINKY is very depressed and quiet. She is getting dragged off to the nuthouse later today, so she's not happy about that either. As I left, the Home Treatment Team arrived. You could tell it was them by the jangling of handcuff chains and fetters and the zapping of Tasers. Also the straitjacket got tangled in the front door knocker and then one of the psychiatrists let off the Taser at a pigeon on the balcony. It fell to the floor flapping helplessly and died after a second shot. £20 changed hands and everyone laughed.
No I'm kidding, of course. What happens is, a gone-out scared-looking unfriendly nurse-type person appears and minimizes every answer the patient gives. So extreme paranoid hostility will be written up as mild anxiety. Catatonic depression becomes "fatigue". A person running up and down the hallway turning cartwheels and screaming might be said to display mild agitation. In hospital this attitude is reversed, so that anyone diagnosed psychotic or bipolar who expresses the slightest justifiable irritation (especially at a nurse) is written up with "severe agitation", wrestled to the ground and given "rapid tranquillization" in the form of intramuscular antipsychotics and benzos.
Binky is terrified of running out of cigarettes. So everyone she knows has been buying her packets. There's one particular ward she absolutely refuses to go to. It is apparently even worse than the ones I saw her on the last two times. She's been in hospital twice since June, so this will be her third admission in six months. I really don't understand what goes on with her, except that she has some paranoia, hears voices and gets upset really easily. Sometimes the upsetness extends into what they probably call "clinical depression". But she does a lot of things I just cannot understand, and it's not as if I haven't tried. Example: extreme self-harm. A few months ago she set herself on fire, in hospital. Her leg is now covered in skin grafts, it was that bad.
As for me, I tried concocting a personal mood and "mental phenomena" chart. But the full chart is too complicated, with over 20 symptoms. By the time any of these became florid, I wouldn't be into calibrating precisely how intense and persistent they're supposed to be. So I simplified it to mood on 3 counts: elevated, irritable & angry and depressed. You have to note the highest and lowest scores for that day, as well as a rough average. And mental excitement and physical hyperactivity. "Hedonic activation" (enjoying things more than usual, example: experiencing a rush of excitement on seeing a street light, which happens when I'm manic) and anhedonia (not enjoying things). And sleep. If I completely lost my appetite I would note that, but partial loss of appetite is impossible to quantify, as I resist the urge to eat a lot of the time anyway, because I don't want to be fat. If you're depressed you'd usually experience the opposite of mental and physical excitement, but this would be so hard to rate, until it gets severe enough to start physically freezing up. And if I were that depressed I don't think I'd be bothered wanting to write it down. When I feel mildly depressed, my mind sometimes feels crystal clear ~ presumably my thoughts have slowed down. + my attention span actually IMPROVES. The opposite of what it's meant to do in depression.
Wish me luck filling out this crap, because I don't know how long I will have patience to continue. I wanted to use myself as a case-study for my intellectual Mood Disorders book, plotting inter-episode mood lability and manic-depressive symptoms.
So I have diagnosed myself as a hypochondriac with Moody Bastard Syndrome. Really I'm not that interested in my own moods. I want to know how other people feel, when and why. I would like to get Binky to fill out these charts. But when she's annoyed, she's probably too angry to write it down. See, we get the same problem again.
I did once commence a BSc course in psychology, although I had little interest in Abnormal. I was much more fascinated in Individual Differences: what distinguishes one personality from another and what makes people tick. Everything went to pot because of Psychobiology (the most difficult unit) and Research Methods (the most boring unit) complicated by Heroin Dependency (my own, of course).
O I hope Binks is going to be all right. She phoned up saying she was going to be on one ward miles away. Then called back saying it had been altered to the hospital nearest me, two minutes later.
I wonder whether being in such surroundings is actually any good for anybody's mental health? The one redeeming feature was the tea-break. The tea was nice and strong, and they had a decent selection of biscuits. O and also, because of the digital switchover, their telly now does Pick TV. But apart from that, barely any redeeming features at all.
I couldn't sleep properly last night. Couldn't stay asleep for longer than about half an hour. Then I woke up depressed. But I'm nowhere near as depressed as Binky.