“In the past, what has helped?”
That, is my new community psychiatric nurse (CPN) talking. I assume she’s trying to be helpful, trying to gage what the best course of action to take is.
She’s been lumbered with a new service user who most likely has a red flag or a black mark that pops up as soon as she types my name into the system… I wonder what I says … I’m awkward? Difficult? A know it all. High functioning? All of those things are true. I know myself. At least I thought I did.
I usually see my signs and I handle them accordingly. I kick them up the bum and tell them to “do one!” because I haven’t got the time for a Bipolar episode. I have things to do but, you know what? Even experts sometimes make mistakes. Nostradamus predicted the end of the world was in the 1990’s. He was wrong. We’re still here, albeit barely.
I appreciate that she’s asking this question, but her tone of voice tells me she’s bored already. She knows absolutely nothing about me, she’s made no effort to gain any insight into my character, maybe she thinks by asking this question I’ll tell her how to do her job, make it simple.
I can hear on the other end of the phone she’s got a list of questions to ask me and with each answer she ticks off the question but doesn’t register what I say because then she’d have to do something.
Q. Are you eating?
Q. Do you have any Covid-19 symptoms?
Q. Do you know the Covid-19 regulations? A. I would hope so, we’ve been in lockdown for over a month!
Q. Is it just yourself living in the property?
Clearly she thinks I’m using the title of Mrs. as a decorative addition to my ridiculously complicated name. I mean come on! Even I know my marital status will most definitely be on the first page of my notes, she’s not even read that! And she keeps calling me Katrina! That is not my name!
So here’s the thing Karen, here’s the answer to your question; here is what has helped in the past…
Talk to me like a person! Call me by the right name. If you’re unsure I can teach you how to say it because it really isn’t rocket science. It’s quite simple, Roy Walker said all the time “just say what you see”
Take an interest in me because I am more than more than my diagnosis. Ask me if I have a job and don’t be surprised when I tell you ‘yes’. Ask me how long I’ve been married and don’t be shocked when I tell you we own our own house.
Don’t assume when I tell you I’m a public speaker that I simply stand with a piece of paper and read a list of facts about how awful Bipolar is and how I let it beat me. I am more than that!
I am the colleague at work who gives up lunchbreaks to discuss the emotional turmoil of others. I am the friend who forgets to tell other friends exciting news because I know it’s not of interest unless they know I gain nothing financially for the work I do.
I am the 37-year-old woman who hates saying woman because I still feel like a girl,
I am obsessed with music. I have it playing 24/7 because it makes my world bearable because sometimes silence is deafening.
I am the writer who can’t call myself a writer because nothing is really in print but every word I write, no matter who reads it or doesn’t read it, bares a part of my soul I can never share.
I like to shop! I love to shop. I only wish I had more money in order to do it.
I have a passion for travel. I love a holiday. Who wants to stay in the same four walls when the outside world is changing every second?
I can’t tell you what helps. That is your job to find out. How can you help if you know nothing?
I am a person before I am Bipolar. Are you a person before being a nurse?
Take a look at the bigger picture…
…I’ve just painted it.