Wanderlust: Hawaii

It’s Wanderlust Wednesday… time for me to go look at a place I want to visit, then write about it.

Today, I’m going to talk Hawaii.

I’ve wanted to go to Hawaii since I was a kid. I had a Hawaii Barbie, and I remember being captivated by the little “background scene” they do on the box to show you what the doll might look like if you weren’t living in a shitty concrete jungle.

Or is it asphalt?

Asphalt, concrete, none of it is Hawaii.

I have a list of foods I’d like to eat if I ever go (mostly plants, Hawaii is home to loads of rare plants), and I have a huge list of activities I’d like to do when I get there too.

Here’s some pictures of Hawaii:

Picture courtesy of Qantas airlines.
Picture courtesy of Qantas airlines.
Picture courtesy of Go Hawaii.
Picture courtesy of Go Hawaii.
Picture courtesy of Flora 2000.
Picture courtesy of Flora 2000.
Picture of Old Lahaina Luau, courtesy of Alternative Hawaii.
Picture of Old Lahaina Luau, courtesy of Alternative Hawaii.

Isn’t Hawaii an exciting place??  Apparently it was annexed by the USA in 1898, before that it was an independent island nation with its own monarchy.  Before it was called Hawaii, it used to be called the Sandwich Islands, because Cook wanted to brownnose to the Earl of Sandwich.  I prefer the name Hawaii.  I would love to visit the islands.  Here’s my rundown of the 5 things I want to do most in Hawaii:

  1. Climb Mauna Kea on The Big Island Hawai’i:  Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world from bottom to top – but most of it’s underwater, with only 4,205m (13,796 feet) of that is above sea level, so it doesn’t really rate for mountaineers.  That wouldn’t stop me trekking up it – it’s higher than Ben Nevis (which I totes need to write about now I’ve climbed it… argh I have such a long to do list).
  2. Grab a cocktail in O’ahu:  It’s the third largest island, but it’s home to two thirds of the population of Hawaii, and I’d love to sip a cocktail (virgin or otherwise) from one of those beach bars (I don’t want Tom Cruise to mix it, though I actually hear he’s quit tending bar and works as an actor now???  So I’m probably safe).
  3. Snorkeling in Maui:  The second largest island is home to all sorts of fun sporting activities.  I’ve always wanted to give snorkelling a go, and apparently Maui is a good place to do this.
  4. Surfing in Maui:  Of course, no trip to Hawaii would be complete for me unless it included some surf dudes with attitude…  wait, that was California, wasn’t it?  I still want to go surfing in Hawaii.  And that song is still pretty chillin’ all these years later:
  5. See some shell crafting in Niihau:  This island has a population of only 170 – but apparently they’re the finest shell craftspeople in the world.  I’d love to see them at work.

Have you ever been to Hawaii?  What’s it like?  Tell me all about it!

Today I failed at life. Again.

Today I am a failure as a human being.

I had a job literally given to me, a job that required no effort, no attempt to interact with other people, there wasn’t even a dress code because everyone wears labcoats over their clothes anyway.

I managed 1 day.  One day.  I was so excited yesterday to think that I might be getting back to some equivalent of a normal life, then about 2 hours into the job, I realized, this job was pointless, boring, mentally stressful and exhausting all at the same time.  Let’s start with the fact that someone told my supervisor about a couple of mistakes in the datastream, and despite the fact that I only started working literally 10 minutes earlier, so it had to be her own fault, she totally blamed me then in front of this other person started having a go at me about something that I blatantly didn’t do.

Then I found out that while employees get 1 hour lunch, agency workers get 20 minutes.

And they’re being paid twice as much as I for the same job.

And the job is to just stare at a computer screen and press enter every three minutes, then type a number.  The number has to be correct otherwise they get upset.  So you can’t really zone out because you’ve got to make sure the number (a different one each time, long-string numbers bleurgh) is correct.

That’s it.  All day.  I literally felt like Homer Simpson, y’know, this episode:

(spoiler alert:  Homer gets the water drinking thing to do his job by pressing the correct button at the correct time on his nuclear power plant console).

Except Homer gets to sit down and there are donuts.  I spent a 9 hour shift standing up, which normally I can do (although I find it tiring) but I can’t stand still in the same spot for 9 hours on the best of days.  An hour is pushing it.  I get shin splints and swollen, aching leg joints, and my hip starts to mis-shape itself until the cartliage in the middle pops out of place, at which point I can’t move.  You’d think for a job where you have to stay in the same spot, that a chair wouldn’t be too much to ask.  If I didn’t have to do the numbering thing, if there’d been anything permitted in the room such as a radio or MP3 player to listen to, and somewhere to sit down (or a task to stretch my legs every so often), it would have been a bit less awful, but there wasn’t.  And everyone else was so mentally dulled that they didn’t talk.  Apart from the (different) supervisor who decided to make fun of my name… yeah, real nice environment.  You know what they said to me in the morning when I arrived?  “This isn’t a factory job, you need to keep your wits about you in this environment.  Do you know how to use a computer keyboard?  This big arrow is the enter key.”

Apparently I look like I do manual labor.

Must be my manly hands.

I went home covered in a thick misting of the thing I was testing, and it was in my lungs, my nose, even my ears.

I finished yesterday fully intending to get through the week and write it off as a bad job at the end of the week, but going in this morning… oh God I just couldn’t do it.  I ended up going near-catatonic because my mood stabilizers wouldn’t let me cry, then I tried to drive in and I must’ve dissociated on the way because I got very very lost.  And my Google maps wouldn’t even connect to a satellite for long enough to tell me where I was.  Then even the mood stabilizers couldn’t keep it in and I was panicking and crying and the whole world was ending so I pulled into a layby and broke my cardinal rule of life:

I phoned my husband while he was at work.

I don’t know what I was expecting him to say, I guess I just wanted him to say something like, ‘it’s ok, you tried your best, you were just very unlucky and landed a really terrible job’ or ‘maybe you weren’t ready yet, you’ll find something better’ or ‘they don’t deserve you’ or ‘you stupid bitch get your arse in gear and go to work, you found it yesterday.’  Just something to break the mental tension of having fucked up again.

He told me to retrace my route and drive towards home, and that if I found it on the way then I should go in, even if it was just to explain myself.  I wanted to explain myself; I really didn’t want to leave it all hanging with nobody being informed of my absence.  But I didn’t find the place on the way back either.  Just 50 minutes of rush hour traffic at a standstill because our local council’s attitude to road planning is “well it was good enough for the Romans so it’s good enough for us, we don’t need any new roads or extra lanes.”

And that’s when I realized that this job had been more boring and caused more mental anguish from boredom than sitting in traffic.  I wonder if I have ADHD sometimes, I really can’t cope with boring situations very well at all.  I feel like there’s so many interesting things in life that I’ll never get time to do, that boring things are an affront to human decency.  I promise I didn’t consciously fuck today up though – what was one more day on the grand scheme of life, since it’s pretty wasted now anyway?  I think it was about an hour into yesterday that I started feeling exactly like a hutch rabbit – you know, the ones that evil people shove in a 3 foot hutch then never pet them, handle them, let them play out or even give them a friend to interact with.  I call it bunny brain death when it happens to rabbits.  And when I feel like that, I get a particular ditty running though my head.  So for today’s 3 days 3 quotes challenge, my quote is this:

“Your world not mine
Your world not ours
Your world not mine
Your world not ours

I’ll resist with every inch and every breath
I’ll resist this psychic death
I’ll resist with every inch and every breath
I’ll resist this psychic death

There’s more than two ways of thinking
There’s more than three ways of being
There’s more than four ways of knowing
There’s more than one way of going somewhere

Silence inside of me, silence inside
Silence inside of me, silence inside
Silence inside of me, silence inside
Silence inside of me, silence inside

I’ll resist with every inch and every breath
I’ll resist this psychic death

I’ll resist with every inch and every breath
I’ll resist this psychic death

I’ll resist this psychic death”

Lyrics by Kathleen Hanna/Bikini Kill.

I’m home now.  The rabbits are playing up.  I don’t have the energy to stop them.  And my husband went into work today even though he’s ill because I’m so fucking useless that I can’t even go to a job where you just press a button every 3 minutes.

I am really a failure as a human being today.

Let’s have some Megadeth now.

“What do you mean, “I don’t believe in God”?
I talk to him every day.
What do you mean, “I don’t support your system”?
I go to court when I have to.
What do you mean, “I can’t get to work on time”?
I got nothing better to do
And, what do you mean, “I don’t pay my bills”?
Why do you think I’m broke? Huh?

[Chorus:]
If there’s a new way,
I’ll be the first in line.
But, it better work this time.

What do you mean, “I hurt your feelings”?
I didn’t know you had any feelings.
What do you mean, “I ain’t kind”?
I’m just not your kind.
What do you mean, “I couldn’t be the president of the United States of America”?
Tell me something, it’s still “We the people”, right?

[Chorus: (repeat)]
If there’s a new way
I’ll be the first in line,
But, it better work this time.

Can you put a price on peace?
Peace,
Peace sells…,
Peace,
Peace sells…,
Peace sells…,but who’s buying?
Peace sells…,but who’s buying?
Peace sells…,but who’s buying?
Peace sells…,but who’s buying?

No, peace sells…”

Lyrics by Dave Mustaine/Megadeth.

And that last song is just for something different, because my neighbors (the ones who piss up my fence and smoke weed outside my fucking kitchen) have decided today’s a fine day to remodel their house.  I can’t even hear my music over their power tools.  I’m hoping it means the fuckers have moved out and the landlord’s turning it into a student let.  But I doubt that.

First person to say some placitudes about “love what you do” or “you’ve got to keep trying” can get a steel toecapped boot to the face.

3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge

I have been nominated by La Sabrosona from My Spanglish Familia to do the 3 quotes in 3 days challenge.

I was going to wait till after Wednesday so I could keep to my posting schedule but my first day of work was exhausting and sucked serious ass (I’m eating my reserve potato chips) so I thought this would be more fun than writing about mental health.

The rules are as follows:

The Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Share one new quote on three consecutive days on your blog. They can be from anywhere, anyone, or anything.
  3. On each of the three days, nominate three more bloggers to carry on with the fun! No pressure; nominees are free to decline.

Thank you La Sabrosona!

My quote for today is this:

“I’ve been bawled out, balled up, held up, held down, hung up, bulldozed, blackjacked, walked on, cheated, squeezed and mooched; stuck for war tax, excess profits tax, sales tax dog tax and syntax, Liberty Bonds, baby bonds and the bonds of matrimony, Red Cross, Blue Cross, and the double cross; I’ve worked like hell, worked others like hell, have got drunk and got others drunk, lost all I had, and now because I won’t spend or lend what little I earn, beg borrow or steal, I’ve been cussed, discussed, boycotted, talked to, talked about, lied to, lied about, worked over, pushed under, robbed and damned near ruined.  The only reason I’m sticking around now is to see WHAT THE HELL IS NEXT.”

– William Least Heat Moon, Blue Highways: A Journey Into America.  He was told it by one of the fascinating characters he met as he made his way across the blue highways (like, on the road map) of America, in a VW Campervan, in the late 70’s/early 80’s.

I don’t have a picture for y’all, so you’ll have to use your imagination.  Oh or I could “borrow” one from the internet.  This seemed appropriate (because who doesn’t love drooling over aircooled vehicles??)

Source: www.justkampers.com (this one's been lowered just a wee bit lol)
Source: http://www.justkampers.com (this one’s been lowered just a wee bit lol)

And I nom nom nominate:

Morgueticia from Take a Ride on my Mood Swing

Blahpolar from Blahpolar

Dyane from Birth of a New Brain

Because I’d love to read the quotes you come up with (but it’s optional of course so you don’t have to).

What Makes A Good Business Idea?

Repost from June 2015 from my old blog.

What ideas make a good business?
What kind of ideas translate into good businesses? It’s not clear cut, because it depends on a range of factors, but look at providing a product or service that people don’t currently have (but don’t stop there), then you need to look into whether there are people willing to pay for this product or service, who have enough disposable income available to spend on it.  Example: $2500 a month condos for homeless unemployed families is never going to take off.
Which businesses make money? Which don’t?  Read on to find out.

Good evergreen businesses include: Anything to do with computers and small consumer electronics, anything to do with weddings, publishing/editing, website design, and skills that people need such as mechanic, hairdresser, beauty therapist/cosmetologist, plumber, electrician, IT solutions (because that’s anything to do with computers AND a special skill that people need), some of the complementary therapies (but not others), catering, accountancy.
These are businesses that represent your best chance of success because they are in demand from people. Customers always need people who have skills that the customer doesn’t have to fix things that the customer can see or hear.

The challenges with these businesses are that you need to finance your training, then you need to spend some time actually doing the training and getting good at what you do, before you can start trading. Customers don’t need people who don’t have skills and try to fix something and do a bad job then charge them money. Financing training is a huge investment, and you need to make sure you’re right for the job you’re going into. For example, I could never be a plumber, even though I’d love to, because I just don’t have the right personality or outlook on life, and I know I’d try to explain how boilers work to customers, etc, which wouldn’t endear me to people.

Less lucrative or less steady businesses include: Counselling, psychic/tarot, life coaching, personal trainer, freelance careers adviser, consultancy (unless you’re established in the field), most “WORK FROM HOME, EARN $$$” type ‘opportunities,’ legal practice, pub/bar ownership, interior design, tutoring, dog walking, most of the complementary therapies, photographer, driving instructor, outdoors instructors (rock climbing, diving, kayaking, mountain leader etc).

These are businesses that can work out really well for some people, but the main problem is skills threshhold – anyone can do these, or training is minimum (albeit usually expensive), and so the market is saturated. The other problem is enthusiasm; for example, there are too many kayaking instructors because it’s the logical step for a kayaking enthusiast, and there’s more people who CAN kayak than people who WANT TO learn to kayak (even though there’s more people who can’t kayak in the world than there is people who can kayak) so there’s not much call for more of them. I’m not saying, for example, that anyone can pick up a camera and be a good photographer, but anyone can call themselves a photographer, there’s no regulation of the industry, so it’s hard to break into. Law is a special exception – it isn’t very lucrative to start your own practice these days because people who need lawyers generally can’t afford to pay them, and if you specialise in corporate, they generally keep work in-house with a payrolled legal team. And there are a LOT of law school grads. Look into any industry you want to get into before you make the leap; don’t just read the purple prose that fills the websites of people offering driving instructor training courses, don’t just marvel at the websites of the only three successful whale trainers before becoming one; find out if people want this service and how many people offer it. THEN and ONLY THEN pay for a training course. These are not businesses that you won’t be able to make any money off, they’re just unlikely to make enough money to be sustainable.

Beware of trends:
It’s also worth being aware of whether your idea is a trend; for example, if you want to sell plastic wires for children to weave into bracelets, you need to check how long this has been a thing. Chances are, if you saw it somewhere else, you’re catching onto the tail end of it. Hitting the end of a trend is awful because you will have the dual problem of having loads of stock to get rid of and at the same time you have already paid for it. Dealing in trends is not a sustainable business idea, because you have to keep switching them. This is also why fashion design businesses are very difficult to get off the ground. If you have a market stall and have a very cheap supplier, this model (of constantly switching trends) can work but not otherwise.

Risk:
Risk is an important concept in business, if your industry is high risk, you won’t get investors, bank loans or other financial backing. If your industry is low risk, you might not make very much money but what you do make should be steady and you will have hardly any problems getting investment. The lists of businesses above represent different levels of risk – the “good” list is low risk, the “less good” list is higher risk. When deciding how much risk to take, you need to think about whether the financial reward outweighs the potential losses if it all goes wrong. The “less good” list of businesses I mentioned above don’t provide a great financial reward, despite being high risk, which is why they’re not great business ideas. Buying into trends can represent a greater financial reward, but is extremely high risk, so it isn’t a great business idea unless you have a lot of capital (the money you put in or borrow at the beginning) to waste if it goes wrong.

How many customers do you really have?
Beware of confusing the number of people who don’t have a thing with the number of people who want one: Not everybody wants what you’re offering. For example, if you were trying to start a business as a dolphin trainer, it’s no good saying “there are 100 million Americans in the U.S. who don’t currently use dolphin trainer courses to train their dolphin, so I have 100 million potential customers.” It’s not even any good saying “there are 200 Americans in the U.S. who own a dolphin who don’t currently use dolphin trainer courses to train their dolphin, so I have 200 potential customers.” The chances are, of those 200 dolphin owners, a good proportion have either already trained them (for example because they work at a Sea World) or are happy to let them splash around in a pool. What they really need are pool cleaning services, so your dolphin training business would, in this example, be doomed to fail. Change “dolphin owners” for any other thing (dog owners, parents, computer owners, damsons in distress, men who wear socks) and you can see the problem of over-estimating potential customers.

Being realistic AND idealistic is crucial to business success. Obviously if you’ve got your heart set on becoming a photographer, crystal healer, or a kayaking instructor, go for it, just be mindful to the possibility that you’re probably not going to make a great deal of money out of it and you may need to have a second job to pay the bills.

So how do you go from idea to up and running business? First, do the perspective test – run your idea past another human being and see if they agree that this has a snowball’s chance in hell of actually working. Don’t run it past someone whose job in life is to tell you that you can’t do something, but do run it past someone who either knows you or knows the industry that your business is in.

If your business passes the perspective test, you’re good to go. Here’s some practical questions you need to ask at this point:

1. Can you work from your home (check the terms of your rental agreement if you need to)?
2. Do you need specialist premises? For example, a catering company may need a professional kitchen.
3. Do you need any equipment?
4. Do you need stock or product samples (e.g. demonstration models)?
5. Do you need additional staff right away for this to work?
6. How are you financing this?

After you’ve answered these, you need to put together a business proposal package, which is what you will show to other people (financial backers, banks, investors, partners) then it’s time to do a SWOT analysis.  We’ll look at those in future posts.

Starting your own business

Repost from 31-5-15, from my old blog. Like all the other reposts, I cringe slightly at my writing style but I’m leaving them unedited because they reflect my thoughts at the time I wrote them: they do all have sound info in them for anyone wanting to do the things in the posts. This one discusses starting your own business.

A good option for people with certain mental illnesses (or living under the shadow of them) can be self-employment, which is the same as starting your own business. As someone who regularly has Big Ideas, I often think to myself “I’m going to start a business doing THIS” do some research and run headfirst into it. Usually I do it for a couple of months then it stops fitting around my life just as it takes off. More and more recently, I’ve tended to at the very least recoup the costs of setting up a business (stock, advertising etc) as well as earn what I would have done in regular employment for the time I was doing it.
Some things just bombed out entirely (Avon, for example), while other things did really well (Ann Summers Party Plan, working as a pro-domme, both of which netted me hundreds of pounds a week) but were limited by my life circumstances making me have to stop doing them, i.e. because I was starting teacher training and due to losing both parents in 5 months of each other, respectively.
For all of them, I wrote myself a business plan. I also kept balance sheets, figures, informed the tax office of what I was doing (I give myself 2 months’ grace on this so if I change my mind and haven’t earned anything, there’s no ballache of paper trail for proving I earned nothing, etc), and did a SWOT analysis and 4P’s analysis. I would LOVE to do an MBA, by the way, and I revel in doing all these things because I see it as good practice for when I finally get a sustainable business that can survive going on hold for 4-8 months every now and again.
A lot of people look to very successful businessmen (and sometimes women, but there is a HUGE gender imbalance), and think, “wow, they are born to be entrepreneurs, they just knew what they were doing from day one, I could never do that.”  Many of the most successful businesspeople have left a huge trail of failed projects in their wake: Virgin Cosmetics, The Sinclair C5, Paris Hilton’s first single, for example.  Dragon’s Den self-made millionaire Duncan Bannatyne had an ice cream van for a while.  Few businesspeople had one single business that took off and kept on growing.  That’s because the thing about businesses is, you’re not “born” to be an entrepreneur; all of the skills required can be learned and you can outsource the things that you aren’t comfortable with doing (such as your accounts or advertising design). Anyone can run a business, it just takes that first leap out of your comfort zone and into the unfamiliar. If your business idea fails, it doesn’t mean you’re bad at business, there’s loads of reasons why a business might fail, and you can start as many businesses as you like, there’s no law saying you can’t start 100 different businesses in your lifetime until you find one that works for you, and every time you have a set back, you will learn an important lesson.  The only thing separating a “successful businessperson” from someone who goes back to the office or back to unemployment, is that the successful person keeps failing (same as everyone else), then keeps acting on new ideas and learning from failures until something sticks.  Like the spider that made the same web several times that inspired Robert the Bruce.  Or something. Obviously this takes a lot of mental energy and sometimes that eludes me, hence the “needing to put it on hold for 4-8 months occasionally.”
Next time, I’m going to talk about which ideas make a good business and which ones don’t.

Caffeine, Sugar, Alcohol

This is reposted from my old blog from May 2015, it represents my thoughts and feelings at the time and is unedited. I have worked out that the sugar (at least) is only a problem during mixed episodes and avoiding it seriously reduced the intensity of that state (I didn’t know I was in one when I was writing this post), and that includes glucose, galactose, fructose, and other “non-sugar” (food lableing definition) sugars (scientific definition), but not sugar alcohols such as lactitol (a sweetner defined scientifically as a “sugar alcohol” because it has an O-H hydroxyl group on one of its carbons, but isn’t an alcohol like ethanol which is the one in everything called “alcohol” that we drink) but I still avoid the caffeine totally and I also generally avoid alcohol.

Trigger warning: Coffee, alcohol, sugar and cigarettes in a positive and negative light.

In 2013, I totally stopped drinking coffee.  Like, altogether.

Why did I do that?  Coffee and cigarettes had been my life for about 8 years.  They defined my daily routine and decided what I would do.  I spent a lot of money on both.

Coffee had been my drink of choice since I was 15.  I liked it because I was largely not fussy about how it came, as long as there was some coffee in there.  When you’re living on other people’s generosity a lot of the time, being fussy about what you drink is not a good trait, so I’d pretty much given up on anything other than the very occasional cup of tea.  If there was the right milk, the right sugar, the right tea bags, and the right cups.  And if I was allowed to make it myself, as I couldn’t get anyone else to make it properly.

Coffee was fine however it turned up.  I liked strong coffee, weak coffee, expensive coffee, cheap coffee, espresso, latte, cappuccino (instant or slow).  Didn’t care, I would drink it.  Hot or cold, I would drink it.

It can be credited with getting me through my degree and, when I was stuck at McDonald’s for 2 years after graduating in a recession, the occasional after-work treat was a cup of coffee at the Costa upstairs.  I can still remember how their iced lattes tasted, with the undissolved sugar crunching through the foam.  Mmm….

So why did I stop?

In the summer of 2013, I was taking some exams (12, in fact) that I had to drive across the country for on different days.  When I did this, I would have 24-48 hours at a time without coffee.  When I got home, I would have coffee again.  And I started noticing a very definite mood disturbance effect.  At the time I had been drinking the Nescafe Azera for about a year.  It got to the point where I stopped the coffee for three days, in the hope of clearing out my system.  Next cup of coffee?  I was strung out, agitated, restless, everything that happened was the biggest deal ever, and I was in tears on and off for hours.  The effect of that one coffee lasted about 24 hours.

So I tried a week off coffee.  Next coffee?  Exactly the same effect.

A month.  A month would surely be enough?  Nope.  Still doing the same thing to me.  I tried decaffeinated coffee at intervals and that had the exact same effect on me.  Even the same changes to my blood pressure.  So it could well be a different substance in the coffee rather than the caffeine.

Scientifically, when an experiment is repeatable and shows the same results each time, those results are generally taken to be correct.

So I stopped drinking coffee altogether.

The first month was awful.  I had to throw out all my coffee because I kept automatically making it for myself.  I had headaches and excessive sweating and profoundly excessive tiredness (the tiredness lasted about a year, I think it basically shoved me into a low-level depressive phase) and I didn’t think I would be able to make it through life without coffee.  I did, though.  Mostly, I get over it these days.

Since then, my moods have been significantly improved, but I still get that same, very specific mood disturbance reaction to other things.  In the past three months, I’ve noticed that alcohol does this (delayed to the next day), and sugar does this (about an hour or two later).  About 2 months ago I cut out alcohol as for a long time I hadn’t drank an awful lot of alcohol but in the last month before I stopped, I’d become worried that I might be becoming an alcoholic because I was knocking back a beer every day after work (confused?  This one explains why I might worry with such a small amount of alcohol).  I had a drink at the weekend, same effect as before.  It wasn’t as strong as with the coffee but the behaviour pattern was clearly there (particularly the “everything is upsetting me for good reasons” – like someone held a magnifying glass up to my usual reactions to things).

Recently, Tesco started doing these amazing dairy free ice cream cones.  Now, I’ve never been the biggest fan of ice cream and can usually take it or leave it, but I go through phases where I’ll eat it until the cows come home.  I bought loads of these, and was eating at least one cone almost every day.  I noticed a definite mood disturbance, and it was the same as with the alcohol and caffeine.  I’m super-reluctant to cut all sugar out of my diet, but I might have to.  At the moment, I’ve cut down, but there’s only so many calories you can get from meals and I struggle to maintain a healthy weight due to unknown causes.  If I start losing weight uncontrollably again or run out of energy again, I’m going to have to eat more refined sugar (how does sugar make you fat?  It converts to storable fat in your pancreas if you eat excessive amounts, this is also the scientific theory that was exploited for the Atkins diet).

So I can drink tea (tea has an optical isomer of the caffeine in coffee, this means it’s actually inactive and doesn’t have the same physical effect as caffeine.  That doesn’t mean some people aren’t prone to the placebo effect with it), I can have alcohol free alcohol (what a waste of money, I’ll have more tea please) and I can have diabetic dairy free ice cream.

While that’s a very miserable prognosis, especially when I think about all the medication I’m going to be on soon, there are two lights at the end of this tunnel – firstly, this article says the guy cut out the same three things for a year and “cured” his bipolar (whether he had bipolar in the first place is questionable – I can definitely distinguish between the caffeine/alcohol/sugar day-to-day mood instability and the underlying highs and lows from my actual bipolar, which affect longer periods of time in a different way completely).  Secondly, though, I am going to be put on mood stabilisers.  I am planning on trying the caffeine again after a suitable period of settling onto the medication.  Regardless of whether it works out with caffeine, I’ll give the sugar another go at a separate time afterwards.  I’ll probably not bother with alcohol until later.

It’s clear to me that these three substances can be responsible for day-to-day mood disturbances.  Will managing them mean managing the greater mood arcs of bipolar?  That remains to be seen.

Don’t Wait For Rock Bottom

This is reposted from my old blog from May 2015, it represents my thoughts and feelings at the time and is unedited.  I strongly believe that alcoholism is a terminal illness.

TW: Alcoholism and death.  Some gory details.

One small part of the living room floor in my dad's flat. The upright bottles are full of urine.
One small part of the living room floor in my dad’s flat. The upright bottles are full of urine.

For six years, my dad had the alcoholic’s prayer printed on a piece of paper, folded like an A6 Christmas card, and carefully stood on the mantelpiece.  In 2008, he had briefly stopped drinking, but then fooled himself into thinking there was a “safe amount” or a “stable amount” that he could get away with, that would be okay.  The amount gradually increased again.

The media glamourises many addictions, but none more so than alcoholism.  One of the ways they glamourize alcohol is when any character experiences any slight stress, they “need” a glass of wine.  It’s become so normal in our society for people to say this that you’re viewed as different if you don’t drink.

Another way they glamourise it, however, is the recovery.  Now, I’m all for people knowing that there is hope and that recovery is possible, but they make it out to be so damn easy and not only that, but they always show the characters having a clear turning point at which their life can’t get any worse, when they make the decision to quit drinking.  They hit rock bottom.  Then they just decide they will change their life and it magically happens.  Everything just falls into place.

I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as “rock bottom” except in hindsight.  In fact, until the decision has been made to quit, there is absolutely no way of knowing whether you have hit rock bottom.  You can just keep falling endlessly until you die.  The only thing that will stop your descent, if you don’t try and take control of the problem, is your untimely death.

I was fooled by the media and the websites of certain alcohol charities into thinking that my dad would have a moment of realisation, a  rock bottom, from which he would see clearly that he had to stop, where he would realise what was happening.  Where he would make a decision to stop throwing up blood every morning and I could get him the help to keep him dry and support him to put his life back together again.  Until that moment, these charities advised, we are to do nothing but wait and not discuss drinking with the alcoholic.  So I didn’t mention it from that moment on.

The rock bottom moment never came.  And he died.  We don’t know yet whether it was alcohol toxicity or something else, as the results of the investigation haven’t come back yet, but what I do know is that he was going to die soon anyway.  There was no rock bottom, no last minute salvation from God, no person or thing or clever set of words or support group that could get through to him about the path he was on.  He just followed it to its logical conclusion.

For the past two years, he had been unable to conduct a normal conversation, his sparkling wit now a cloud of confusion.  He had not eaten properly for several years, but now he had stopped eating altogether.  He smoked 40 a day and drank a whole lot of whisky and lager.  I have heard of people drinking much more and surviving to allegedly have their rock bottom moment, but I now believe that a lot of the stories are exaggerations for sensationalism.  I think it takes a lot less alcohol than people expect to build up toxicity over a longer period of time.  And the death is not pretty.  The stains on the carpet and the white kitchen roll at the top centre of my picture, above?  That’s where he had vomited blood.  It’s all over his flat.  He’d been doing that for a while. Many of the carrier bags had tiny human shits in them, because he was too unsteady to get upstairs to the toilet and wasn’t eating anything solid. They could have been done by a toddler.

Rock bottom is only something that you can look back on your life and pinpoint.  Until you stop, it just steadily gets worse and worse, and if you never stop, you just die.  The only way to have a rock bottom moment is to decide that right now is your rock bottom, but it only works if you stop drinking right now, and then you need to take action at once, join a support group, get some librium (or other medication to prevent anaphylaxis) off the doctor, throw away all the alcohol in the house.  And please learn from his mistake.  Once the addiction has a hold of you, one drink is too many.  You are an alcoholic for life (but you CAN stop drinking).

I’ve seen it across three generations of my family, in six different people.  Four died directly because of alcohol.  The fifth died of the damage she had done from her poor lifestyle choices because she needed a cigarette and she needed a bottle of wine to relax nearly every day for thirty years.  It was too late when she stopped.  The sixth is still alive.  None of them ever had a rock bottom moment.

For six years my dad had kept that alcoholic’s prayer next to his armchair by the mantelpiece.  When I went to pack up his belongings from the flat, it was not there.  He had given up on ever finding his salvation.

Don’t wait for rock bottom.  You could die before you hit it.