Pretty Much a Year by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger Warning: Self Harm, Suicidal Thoughts

Well, as is customary of a visit to hospital, I seem to be making another post. I’ve probably very sparsely posted since my last stay in one, which was, approximately a year ago.

I’d like to say this is some sort of achievement, and I mean it is, but more and more I am less inclined to suggest the amount of time in or out of hospital is as indicative of how much a person is in fact struggling. For me, I guess it being a year means maybe I took better care of myself this year? I’d certainly like to think so, surely I’d be getting better at this sort of thing. I mostly avoided burn out last year, I even managed to do my annual Brisbane game jam without burning myself out, we finished the game and people loved it. Which is more than I had hoped. Maybe I do know how to make games after all, and maybe I do know how to take care of myself.

Theoretically I did take better care of myself, I’m starting to see my limits and know where to ease off, or try to at least. But there were also probably a few not so great decisions in there amongst many good ones. Maybe not good is the wrong way to phrase them, I don’t think there was actually a better choice for me to make. I started last year off with a trip to hospital because I didn’t want to be on lithium anymore. A decision I am still sticking to, but that shaped a lot of this year for me. Especially the news that I had in fact tried all there was to try to combat my bipolar symptoms. In the face of that, I stubbornly refused to try anything again for most of the year. I think that is something I had to do, I had to test living basically unmedicated. I had to know before I resigned myself to something less effective with side effects I didn’t enjoy.

It took moving out on my own and seeing myself struggling to get by each day to acknowledge that I needed to take some steps to get myself back on track. I decided to go back on Seroquel, despite how foggy and sleepy I feel when I wake up the next day. It was quite hard to tell for ages, but I think it was making a difference. I was managing a bit better, and I still felt like me. Granted I brought caffeine back into my life to counter the sedation.

This got me by for awhile, life was still hard but maybe that’s just how it’s gonna be. I kind of kept waiting for a bad spell to pass by, but it didn’t. Interestingly work was going fine, I had purpose and structure there and was managing that fine, I looked forward to going to work. It was outside of work that I was slipping, finding it harder and harder to do anything in my spare time. I probably should have picked up something was wrong here, but I was managing fine most of the time, how could there be a problem. I figured it would pass.

Then, I went on holiday. Which was fine when I had things to do, places to be. But when I found myself alone, I didn’t know what to do. I spiralled, things started getting out of hand again. I started hurting myself again, I couldn’t seem to pull myself back up. It turned out I was basically holding myself together to get through each work day, and without that, I fell apart. I have a need inside me, to appear okay at all points, and sometimes that’s what gets me through a day, I’m trying to break that down because it’s okay to not be okay.

I went back to work, and everything was fine while I was at work, but my life outside of that continued getting worse. I was in a constant mixed state that meant I was impulsive enough that my life was in a lot of danger. I really couldn’t guarantee my own safety. After going to my psych about it, he deemed it necessary for me to come back into hospital for a bit and try a mood stabaliser again.

So here I am on Valproate, again. I’ve been worried it might have a similar effect to lithium, but so far I seem to still be able to feel things so that’s promising. I’m also no longer suicidal and not really at much risk of anything anymore. I am, somewhat optimistic about the medication, and hoping I can maintain this moderate dose in case higher ones bring out the side effects I am avoiding.

I’m hoping to be out in a few days, and then I guess I’ll see how I start coping with life again. I’ll try and ease in with as little stress as possible and go from there.

I don’t think things will ever be particularly easy for me, no matter what medication I have been on, nothing seems to really stop the constant mood shifting, except lithium but let’s not go there. I’m somewhat resigned to that now, and I guess it’s fine. Or, it’s fine for me to not be fine with it but keep going anyway. My life itself is amazing, and I guess I can hope that one day there’ll be something that helps more but till then I’ll carry on.

Why Do You Hate Yourself? by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger Warning - Self Harm, Suicide


I was in the Emergency Room awhile ago, because I was caught before I could follow through on a plan I had. I wasn’t depressed though, I was very very manic.

So I got taken in and eventually at 3am a doctor wakes me up from the couch to speak to me about why I was there. The reoccurring question was - “why do you hate yourself”. Now, that’s all that’s going round my head.

I didn’t hate myself, that wasn't why I was there. That wasn’t why I wanted to die. I was manic, I thought I was possibly the best person alive even, I loved who I was. I just had to die. It was that simple. When I’m manic my head doesn’t exactly make trustworthy decisions.

I’m just still shocked at how much he didn't understand what I was trying to say. I guess maybe it is a bit confusing. Maybe it wasn’t because I was manic, maybe it was this personality disorder. Which I should really get sorted.

Anyway, for some reason tonight that’s all I can think of. I don’t hate myself. But why do I hate myself?

Dizzy, no sleep by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger Warning - Withdrawals

I am ridiculously dizzy today. I can only assume it’s another side effect of coming off everything and hope it’s not a side effect of going onto anything. I don’t think Lithium ever caused this but I can never be sure. I suppose I could probably read back in my own blog and see if I mentioned it.

Anyway today I get out for the day and night! Pretty excited. I have some good friends. One of which was going to bust me out for a picnic, but alas rain! So Mario Party and movies it is! Which is fine with me too. So far sitting in one spot isn’t going too badly for me, so I should be fine today despite side effects.

I am determined to have a good day out of here, I’m wearing my adventure time shirt and everything!

Withdrawals by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger Warning - Withdrawals

So, withdrawal side effects aren’t fun. Or whatever it is going on here. So while it’s only the first day I’ve stopped the Pristiq it’s been long enough since the reduced dose that it would be doing stuff to me. Plus you know, all that other stuff coming out of my system.

I am hot/cold, shaking - sometimes my head just won’t stop shaking - and pretty much just on the verge of a panic attack or tears or both. Just all of it today. 

I’m going to try going down to the gym. Doing weights usually makes me feel better. I’d box, but they got rid of the bag awhile ago. Have to wait till I get home to use mine. Which, tomorrow I’ve been granted leave so I can spend the day and night at home. Hang out with my adorable cat. Do my assignment. You know, the important things. Oh, I think I might have pizza even. If I can afford pizza. I mean, what else am I gonna eat? I have no food at home.

The Plan by Charlie Francis Cassidy

After talking to my psychiatrist this morning I have more of an idea of what the plan is exactly. Today is my first day without any antidepressants in years (aside from the occasional forgetful day) and apparently the plan is to see if I can get by without any!

Of course I’ll be on other medications to hopefully stabalise my mood but the idea is that maybe they’ll both work as a replacement to antidepressants too. The risk with my Bipolar and antidepressants is that they often lead to rapid cycling. And I can attest that any that have made a dent on my depression has also been very bad for my overall stability.

I’m currently on Lithium and Saphros. Apparently Lithium also works well for depression and Saphros for anxiety so he is hoping combined they cover me for my mania, depression and anxiety. He is always trying to make sure I am on the least possible medication that works, which is good. I hate medication.

I’ll admit I’m skeptical. I get deep depression, but while in hospital seems like the best place to test it out. He hopes between another 1 - 2 weeks and I’ll be out of here. Sounds good to me, I don’t like being here too long. Only because I hate hospitals, the staff are all lovely and the place is quite nice.

I’m going to have to find a different hospital and psychiatrist, psychologist when I move to Melbourne. That is probably the hardest part about leaving Brisbane. I don’t open up easily. Funny to say that on a blog that I’ve just made a whole lot more public.

Inducing Mania by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger warning: Suicide

I really shouldn’t be trying to induce mania just to avoid depression, but that was what I was doing before I came into hospital. Even while in here. Drinking coffee does have an affect on my mood, it does push it up - which is not good. Yet there I was doing assignments buzzing from 2 pepsis, a coffee and a huge energy drink. (Rockstar, Gauva, seriously that stuff is fantastic) Anyway I’m off point, and far far behind in my uni work. But that really shouldn’t be an excuse to do this.

Truth is, I’m scared. Terrified of who I might become when they balance me out. There is still a part of me that is resisting this whole medicated thing. I’m not sure I’m ready to give it all up. But I know, I know, that I won’t live very long this way. Part of me feels like I should experience it all before I give it all up. I guess maybe I’m afraid I won’t be the same confident person I am when I’m manic. The flip side is I’m all nerves. Maybe I will find a good balance. That is what they say. Part of me just doesn’t believe it. I’m not convinced I even know what that normal range is, so who is to say I’ll be anywhere near as cool.

I suppose I’ll be alive at least. I’ll always have my story too.

Psychiatrist hasn’t been in the past 2 days, he is sick so I am freaking out a bit about what is going on with my medication. Then my psychologist found me to put down a time to talk, that’ll be in exactly a week. Ah well, I have busy doctors.

In again, for round...?? by Charlie Francis Cassidy

I’m back in hospital, was a bit of a wait this time. Just a busy time of year, for some reason. So far I am manic, I haven’t slept but I am sure they’ll drug me up tonight. 

Plan is to take me off everything, see how I am and then try a bunch of new things. I’m also gonna try and finish assignments in here too. Gonna be a hell of a time.

Lost count by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Back to hospital for me again, as soon as they have a bed for me. The plan is to take me off all my meds to see if any are working then start from there. Trialling different stuff until they find something to help. My psychiatrist also wants to sign me up to a DBT program, but that’ll be once I get out I guess.

I’m not going to let any of this stop me from studying though. I can still do this. I will do this.

Other news... by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Also, definitely have that Bipolar thing. Which type, who knows! At the moment I’m in a mixed episode, finally come down from my endless Euphoria and agitation. Well, come down only to have that and be joined by depression and the like.

Medication is at a simple 50mg Pristiq in the Morning with 500mg Valproate.

400mg Seroquel XR at 5pm

1000mg Valproate and 5mg Valium for bed

Good stuff. For now we wait. Because maybe, this combo will work. If not, then we try other things.

Back in, for almost opposite reasons. by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger warning: Self harm and Suicide

So, I probably start most of these posts with so far too often. That aside, it’s been a week since I was re-admitted to hospital. Last time I was in a severely depressed state, this time I think it’s more of a manic one. The lead up was me being an overly good, super kind of mood. Except, at the same time my self harm thoughts had sky rocketed. That was all I could think of as I almost skipped to work each day. Needless to say I didn’t have the self control to refrain from most of my thoughts each day. I don’t think I even felt overly guilty about it, I wanted to do it and spent far too long looking at my arm afterwards.

The other unfortunate side effect of my suddenly high high mood was the spending. Is the spending. I have bought far more books and clothes than I really should have. I spent $140 on a bag for goodness sake. Just a simple old messenger bag. I spend $100 on shorts, more than that on books. Then games, then some software to organise all my games, books and comics. I’m out of control. I already have a nice debt from previous times. Something like, $9000. I can’t stop buying shirts, things I see I decide I need and then without a thought I’ve ordered them. Thankfully I deemed the $600 flights to Melbourne as outrageous. I was meant to be down there, for the game conferences. The one time of year that I have to connect with the industry properly and get inspired to do amazing things. 

Instead, I sit here on my hospital bed writing out a bunch of things I’m not even certain people read. But on the off chance this makes someone feel like they’re not the only one going through this sort of thing, even just one person, well it’d all be worth it. I was taken to the emergency room Thursday night after telling someone I wanted to kill myself.

I am glad I said something for once instead of just attempting it. There are only so many times a person can get lucky and have someone walk in just in time. This is progress, I got myself here without harming myself at all that night. Granted spending the night in the mental health emergency department is far far from fun or comfortable it was the better option. 

 Now, my psychiatrist decided to put up my Seroquel to 300mg instead of 200mg to see if that would settle me. It helped but I found it would stop working somewhere in the afternoon, so now I am trialling the extended release. It actually has not gone anywhere near as bad as I expected. I guess my body is pretty used to Seroquel by now. So we’re going to give that a good shot. The good thing is swapping back isn’t too hard if it turns out to not be as helpful. The only part I have to get used to is taking it 4 hours before I want to go to bed. So around 5 is when they give it to me in here. It’s an adjustment, but actually kind of freeing. I don’t have to worry about when I should take my medication in the night, it just kicks in round 9/10 and then I kind of go to sleep around then. 

 This is going to be a much shorter stay than last time, I think I’ll be out Monday/Tuesday even. So far, I think I am mostly more calm. When I’m not, there are plenty of things I can take to calm me down anyway. I just have to get better at taking them when I need to and before it gets too bad.

Discharge by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger warning: Self harm and Suicide

It’s been nearly a week since I got out. I totaled 2 and a half weeks in there. I absolutely needed to be there as well. I went to some groups on various things I need to get better at, like stress and time management. And managing depression itself. Most nights were difficult for me, which was the pattern before I was admitted. Towards the end I was much better at talking to my nurse about it and getting help. I haven’t hurt myself since I was admitted 3 weeks ago, almost exactly to the time.

And tonight I’ve started getting the self harm and suicide urges again. They went away for a bit after I got out, I was too busy moving and going through a manic episode. But now after my second day of work and back to my normal life, they’re back. It was never expected that they wouldn’t. I’m just meant to be better at handling them, or something. 

I am definitely in a better place than I was before, and I’ve broken out of the self harm cycle. As easy as it is to slip back in. I nearly lost it when I found some shears in my toolkit. It was calling to me, the sharp sharp blades. I still have it in my kit, I couldn’t take it out, but I haven’t used it either. It’s probably the self destructive side of me that drove me to keep them and not tell someone. A part of me would also like to be able to have these things without being a danger to myself. 

One thing I noticed while in hospital, was my aggression levels. It’s been years since I had anything like this level of aggression. Not since my angsty teens. I joke about that all the time, but really I was a scary person then. From what I can remember. I would lose my temper at the drop of a hat, and it was madness. But I hit some point, around the time I decided to never let anyone know I was depressed/struggling/hurting myself, that I just became so passive. I mean, I was before, I never hurt anyone but myself. But I just bottled it all up. I never lost my temper again. 

Now, I’m finding myself more and more aggressive. Not sure where it is leading, but it’s never been directed outward at least. I think it’s mostly agitated, and when you’re stuck in a hospital with not a lot of options it gets bad. Especially when I can’t stand being trapped.

I took up boxing when I finally got myself to the gym there. It really helped and when that was closed push ups and when my wrists were too sore, sit ups.

Where I’m staying now has a boxing bag, though it is way too cold to consider going outside to use it. So I’ve been doing push ups. I think my Seroquel will hit in soon.

Unfortunately I think this hospital stay cost my company another paid project. We needed to get done a demo for a client to prove we could do the job, but instead I was in hospital and didn’t even think to contact them till afterwards. I’m starting to feel pretty bad about all the client work I’ve lost the business lately. But I know it’s not my fault and health comes first but it makes me wonder sometimes if I can do it. If I can get this company off the ground. It’s my dream, to run my own company. But when I also have to hold down a paid job in retail to pay my increasingly large medical/medication bills, it gets hard. So very hard. If I gave up the retail job, I’d have no money to live and for treatment to again, live. If I gave up my company I’d be giving up my dream and I think I’d be a lot worse off. It’s what keeps me going some days.

Hospital Days by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger warning: Self harm and Suicide

I spent most of last week in hospital. I entered the emergency room Sunday at 1/2am I think, I was pretty out of it, and didn’t get admitted till Monday 7pm. By time I fell asleep, loaded with meds, I’d been awake for about 34hrs. The Emergency department is not a great place to fall asleep. Spending time in the Mental Health ED was an experience as well. While the nurses were all lovely, you could tell the room was designed with involuntary patients in mind. I guess safety is the number one priority, both patients and staff. Anyway, I stayed there till Friday afternoon when they released me, with some higher medication and a piece of paper about breathing. I’ll come back to my thoughts on that, I should probably start with how I got there.

If you’ve read probably any of my other posts, you might know I have an intense fear of hospitals. As in, anyone that knows me and that, would never expect to find me voluntarily walking into one to commit myself. Yet, there I was. My physical urges to kill myself got too much to handle. I thought I was going kill myself, I wanted to kill myself. This was happening every day. Everyday I wanted to die. It got so bad one night, I realised that I’d lost my fear of dying. That’s all I had stopping me. I was talking to a good friend of mine, and finally I told her exactly what was going on. She convinced me to let her take me to hospital. Which, I’m really glad of.

My stay didn’t fix me though, I don’t think they really knew what to do. Aside from obviously not letting me kill myself. But they couldn’t just keep me there forever. It actually took a bit of effort to convince them to take me as well. I’m surprised I didn’t just walk away. Apparently the fact that I hadn’t killed myself yet seemed to indicate I probably wouldn’t. It doesn’t help that I am so very bad at explaining myself, or describing any of my problems or thoughts or anything really. But I got in eventually.

The first thing they did when I woke up my first day, aside from my medication and a nurse who wanted to know my story, was sit me in a room with a Doctor, a Psychiatrist and an intern. Then I was asked so, many, questions. Which I answered, in some way. It got harder as we went along, and my brain started doing the thing where I can’t think, so I got to explain that as well.

Since I’m bad at remembering things lately, I can’t remember exactly what the diagnoses was. Bipolar was brought up, they seemed to think only hypomania was happening so I was, type 2 I think. He also brought up something about a personality disorder, which I really wish I’d asked more about. I am hoping it’s in the report they’re sending my psychiatrist. They then decided to up my meds. My Lithium is now 750mg at night and my Seroquel is 50mg. He also wanted to increase my Efexor, but I’d just decreased that to try and stabalise my moods.

Now, I think this was both a good and bad idea. Good because, maybe I do need higher doses to make myself more stable. Bad because, there is an adjustment period with more Seroquel. I was so out of it my whole stay in hospital, so my suicidal episodes rarely showed up again, only sometimes at night before I went to bed. But they gave me my meds at 8pm each night, so I was out by 9 most times. I think this made me look a lot more okay than I was, and didn’t really prepare me to go back to the world and handle this stuff.

The other thing they did was give me a handout on breathing to calm yourself. Standard stuff you’re told when you say you have anxiety. And then a handout on Mindfulness. Intrigued? The exact handout is here. I did try it, do still try it but I can’t grasp my head around it. I just don’t believe in this stuff. I think it’s because I just don’t understand how to get my head to do any of it. I don’t know how to not think about something. Apparently I can’t even focus on breathing without thoughts jumping in.

I am glad I spent my hazy period of a higher Seroquel dose in hospital though. I had nothing I had to do, so it didn’t matter if it took me a minute (kind of an exaggeration) to answer a question sometimes. But now I’m out, everyday is a little bit worse. Unfortunately not really clearer, I don’t think my head has been clear for a long time.

I just started Lexapro today, after finally seeing my psychiatrist who is all filled in now. Though still waiting for that report. He thinks getting me off the Efexor is a good idea, and getting me onto something that won’t do the same thing so he can pump up the dose. I don’t think it’s just my depression causing this though. In fact I think I’m worse when I’m manic. I mean, all my thoughts now revolve around hurting myself, and worse, but I get very very bad when I’m manic. I think. I’m not really sure of anything. Which is the problem when I have to tell someone about it.

This whole thing has cost me 2 weeks of game work now. It’s also made me realise I really need to take better care of myself. I was pushing myself right past my limits, because that’s just kind of how I am. I expect a lot of myself. But I can’t work like that again. I can’t be up till 3am programming only to sleep a few hours and wake up and have to be doing something else. Not eating, not sleeping and no free time. It’s amazing I survived as long as I did. I’m finding it very hard to get back into it, but I’m trying to take it slow. Next week I’m back to my full schedule of work, but I’m going to organise some sort of schedule so that I can’t over do it anymore. And if it doesn’t get done, then maybe I’ll have to accept that my health is more important. Which is very hard for me.

I guess I’ll see. In the back of my mind, I’m kind of expecting to end up back in hospital.

Introductions and the like by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger warning: Self harm and Suicide

I’ve been considering starting this blog for about a year now. I never got to it because I wasn’t sure how to do it, whether it’d be any good or if anyone would even read it. But I suppose if no one reads it, then that solves my first two problems anyway. My vague idea of what I wanted this to be came from the grind I went through with my last big project. I’d sit down everyday and have to pull through some tough emotions and mind trickery just to get a simple thing done. So I kind of want to write about what it’s all like, for me living with this and trying to make creative things (or anything really).

Here’s a bit of back story. The way things went down when I found out I had depression really shaped how I dealt with it at first and still. I might have actually gotten real help earlier if things had happened differently, but it’s hard to say.

I’m 22, I was “diagnosed” with depression at about 14/15 and I’ve been struggling with it since then. Of course how I came to be diagnosed was not at all pleasant. My highschool principal came into possession of a note (ergh, 15yr old me was an idiot) that made it pretty obvious I’d been cutting myself. Now this lead me to be pulled out of class and then thrown into what is still one of the worst days of my life.

I had a more than awkward meeting with my principal, who was convinced I might have been cutting the soles of my feet to hide it. Of course I wasn’t that stupid or clever. Legs and wrists for me. She wanted to throw me into hospital right then and there, but thankfully my mum talked her out of it. On the condition I was immediately medicated and thrown at just about every kind of therapist they could find. 

And this is where things actually got worse. My parents had no idea anything was wrong, so naturally they were shocked and wanted to get me better. Problem is no one ever stopped to ask me how I’d like to go about it. I had to at least look like I was getting proper help so the school wouldn’t have to intervene. The whole time the possibility of being hospitalised loomed over me. It didn’t motivate me to get help and get better though. It motivated me to shut the hell up about my problems. If I looked like I was getting better, they couldn’t do anything, right?

I went to my family doctor that day and my mum of course did all the talking. I wasn’t ever any good at talking to doctors anyway, and I certainly wasn’t about to say anything that could make things worse. So I was put on Zoloft immediately. And had a referral to see a psychiatrist in quite a few months. I was then booked in with a psychologist in some youth mental health centre for the mean time.

To say I didn’t like being forced onto medication would be an understatement. For awhile my parents controlled it, giving it to me every night at dinner, making sure I took it. All the while I was saying nothing in my psychologist appointments. I would just sit there. Shrug at the questions and stare into space. I guess I feel bad about that now, I wasn’t exactly pleasant. I don’t like being forced into things. I have a few control issues, that either stemmed from this or is why this was the most painful experience. I did eventually tell her about some of the issues I was having with my weight, but she then wanted to involve some other people and monitor me closely, so I freaked and told my parents I wouldn’t go back.

By this point the school had backed off, I still had an upcoming psychiatrist appointment and was still on medication so they didn’t force me to go anymore. They even left control of my medication to me. Which was a really, really, really bad idea. I don’t blame them for that, I think they were trying to make me feel less like I was being forced into treatment now my school had stopped pressing us about it. They trusted me. Problem is, I shouldn’t have been trusted to medicate myself. I didn’t know that at the time though. It just felt good that I had the control of it, so everything was okay. Of course, Zoloft was not what I should have been on really anyway, it didn’t help at all. I suppose the idea was that it’d be something till I saw someone that could find the right medication.

Now, having control of the medication helped for a little while but I soon started questioning why I still had to be taking it. I didn’t feel like it was doing anything. So I started skipping doses. I still had to make sure my parents saw me taking it some days, but eventually they stopped bothering to check. I started getting really sketchy with taking it. I could go days without then start taking it again, sometimes I might have even taken more than I should have. 

This is where my memory starts fading. I have a very large chunk of time that I can’t actually recall, which I’d say is when I was at my worst. The bits I can remember are terrifying. I was messing with my medication and just spiraling downwards. 

The thing that snapped me out of it was my sister moving back home. I later found out it was for me, to help me with what was going on. We had a tiny house, so I had to share my room with her. I loved my sister, so I was actually pretty excited to have her around more. The important thing with this is that even this didn’t spur me into getting help. It pushed me to hide myself better. I no longer had the luxury to sit in my room and fall into a depressed stupor and do very very stupid things. I did get somewhat better though, other problems that had been taking a toll on me at home where reduced by her being there. She looked out for me. I was still struggling with depression the whole time, but I know I wouldn’t have gotten through school if she hadn’t moved in. Hell, I know I wouldn’t still be alive. I can never thank her enough for that.