Christmas 2012 … (cue clanging chimes of doom)
OK, I may as well get this out of the way early on. I had a few mental health issues over the Christmas period. It was horrible, but I suppose at least it will enable us to examine the links between mental health and psoriasis, which I am coming to realise have a very intimate relationship. It’s one not many people know about and those who do don’t really acknowledge it: like a staff room affair or the Catholic Church and paedophilia. Of course, this was the whole impetus behind the much needed See Psoriasis, Look Deeper campaign, so my breakdown has been rather timely. Come to think of it, too timely. Perhaps they put something in my Horlicks to set me off in order to draw attention to their scheme? Like a piece of psychologically primed product placement.
Anyway, if I may my candour on this will stop there. I have friends and family for whom this period was difficult and whilst I don’t mind breaching my own privacy it’s not acceptable to do so with theirs, so I’ll be scant on the detail if I may. But let’s put it like this, it was quite serious: it wasn’t a sadface-put-on-my-Facebook-profile-because-I’m-feeling-a-bit-needy sort of crisis; it was a wearing-underpants-on-my-head-and-sticking-two-pencils-up-my-nose-I’m-just-off-to-Hartlepool-to-buy-some-exploding-trousers kind of discombobulation. I’m alright now, mending slowly, and received great support from people very dear to me. I have been taken off acitretin which doesn’t help lighten one’s mood apprently. The dermatology department at the Royal Free, who have cared for me so well, dropped everything to facilitate my stabilisation. The psychiatric care I received however (mostly at a different hospital), was a real eye-opener to how mental illness is treated in this country, and will be something I blog about in detail when … when I’m a bit further away from it all. I’m still a trifle raw and also don’t want to give the impression that I am currently incapable of rationality, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. Some distance is necessary before I address this very serious issue though. Suffice to say for now then, that the whole system for dealing with a psychological crisis seems designed to ensure that if you aren’t mental when you go in, you sure are by the time you come out. Fortunately I had a wife at home who could rescue me; many others aren’t so fortunate.
Skin-wise this relates, as obviously a lot of one’s deep seated frustration and self-esteem issues are related to the fact that one has spent much of one’s life looking in the mirror at a scaly red flake monster. When I say one, by the way, I mean me, but I’m trying to be all professional and distant because that’s sexier (referring to myself as “one” is fine and sane – it’s when I start describing myself as “both of us” you’ll know that I’ve flipped). In addition, when one’s feelings venture into this kind of territory the temptation is to hit the bottle. Hit? I did a bit more than that. When I wasn’t working I administered Grievous Bottley Harm, nutted a Chablis and kicked the shit out of some very nice malt scotch whisky. Curious how when I am working I manage not to drink at all – when I am on stage I don’t drink till after a show, when I’m doing a telly job I don’t drink during the whole shoot … but when I’m left to my own devices and thoughts, I unleash a torrential downpour of liquor that would kill a horse (and therefore probably add lustre to the flavour of certain burgers on the market until relatively recently).
What the drink did, of course, was to facilitate the outpouring of all sorts of things that need dealing with sensibly rather than splurging out amidst random thoughts and slurred vowels. What I do know, as I write this, several weeks sober, is that what it didn’t do was help. It made things worse. Which is why it is ridiculous that I always turn to it when I want to make things better. So I have stopped.
Watch this space.
I’ve been tentative about publishing this as it all sounds a bit bloody needy, and frankly, could have potentially damaging professional consequences (nobody wants to hire a self-confessed nutcase who drinks too much). Oh well, what the hell: I’m on the mend, I’m working (and therefore, potential employers, distinctly available and able, fear not), I’m dry and have thrown myself into a ridiculous Doctor Who based project to prevent me from staring at my own navel for too long.
Meanwhile, Dr Mizara is being very clever at tying everything together. There are various things that haunt me from the past but they are done and dusted and I really need to get over them. I need to stop concentrating on the things that frustrate and worry me and instead enjoy the very many things that make my life a blessed and fortunate one. The experts tell me I need to love myself as well, but I was always told that that made you go blind. I clearly have a lot of hard work to do, but they say you have to hit rock bottom in order to get yourself straight so maybe it’s good for me even if it’s not particularly enjoyable to experience. It’s like exercise. Or John Craven’s Newsround. Or a Bran Flake.
Onwards, then, and I’ve only got upwards to go …