Reviewing: Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

What an amazing book.  I want to stand on street corners passing it out as essential literature.

I understand religious fervour now because finally I have read something that makes sense!

His writing has helped my own writing; it’s like learning a new language with which I can express myself.

I want everyone to read it so that they can get a view into depression and mental health problems.

I feel like people need to read his book and that if they did maybe they would understand me and other people more.

Sometimes I see the blank expressions people have when you try and explain a mental health problem to them.  They nod like they get it but you know that they don’t.

Matt Haig – gets it because he’s been through it and is still fighting his demons but what he achieves that I can only hope I will achieve in time is that he gets you to understand him too.

You can feel the fire in his mind; the anxiety is described in a way that you understand too.

You feel his anxiety as he tries to get to the corner shop.

How many times have I been there too?  Wanting to go to the shop. Forcing myself there full of panic and feeling like my brain might melt or I’ll die right there and then.

He presents hope.

He presents understanding.

He is easy to read and it is a testament to what a great writer he is.

So in short, read this book.  You have to.  Hell if I could afford it I would buy your copy.

The man is a genius.


Amazonian frog poison to treat alcohol abuse and depression

Another great piece in Vice, see link below, which covers the story of some Brits who are turning to Amazonian frog poison as a treatment for their alcohol dependency and depression

The practise sees the user burned and then the poison rubbed on their wounds.

The poison causes severe vomiting and a sense of calm.

The article raises a few questions in me.

Have we stopped trusting pharmaceutical companies and their solutions?

Do the answers lie within nature itself?

The problem is that not enough research has been done; the stories are mostly anecdotal and not strong enough to tempt me into a calm vomit fest.

I discuss some similar points in my previous post:

In that we don’t even know if drugs in general, prescribed or otherwise are in fact the answer to mental health problems.

Prescribed medication is something I rely on heavily, personally; however it comes at a high cost with horrible side effects.

The worst for me is probably the weight gain I have had and the constant reminders that yes I am indeed fat nowadays coming from every corner.

Yet I still advocate the use of medication because I see it works.

In my case I want a medication review because I refuse to accept that this is my lot.

There has to be alternatives to terrible side effects and there has to be better treatments.

Especially when I still get a lot of symptoms of bipolar I often feel like I take my medication for nothing.

So am I about to turn to Amazonian frog poison?

Not yet.

However I did read the article with hope, people are still searching for answers and someone has to try the potential solutions.

Ketamine as a treatment: Are drugs the Answer?

A really interesting article in Vice (see link below)

It covers Brent Miles’ experience trying IV Ketamine as a treatment for his bipolar and depression.

It is a really good read and raises some important issues.

For example in the current trend for medicating mental health problems, in both Brent’s and my experience, it really does seem that doctors will just throw pills at you and pray something works.

Brent says: “ I’m not an expert in pharmaceuticals, but it just seems like the strategy is just to throw different medicines at the wall and see what sticks.”

Mental health problems are still not particularly understood well and although treatments are I hope always improving this article shows that there is some hope with the use of ketamine.

I’m not sure if personally I would want to receive it in IV form – only because despite being covered in tattoos I hate needles.

Although I think never say never – I am only 28, when I get to 41 and I’m still fighting the bipolar demons I might consider it too.

The other point he raises is the addictive quality of the medications that are used to treat mental health problems and the tolerance you build to them.  It seems almost inevitable that you have to battle drug addiction a long with mental health problems with the way that treatments are at the moment.

Many people will turn to illicit drugs to self-medicate and to be honest if I had the payroll behind me I would definitely consider it. Even my beloved Stephen Fry has admitted to self-medicating with a number of substances.

I would personally love to be prescribed Valium again – it seems to have been the only thing that stopped my anxiety in its tracks.  However it is extremely addictive and so doctors don’t like to give out many of those magical pills.

Most of the medications we have available via prescriptions don’t touch the edges and while it probably isn’t advisable to go breaking laws and bank accounts I can see why the temptation is there.

I have joked that if I had some cocaine for the lows and Valium to dull the highs I’d be able to function.

No-one else I know seems to find it as funny.

Trapped in cycles of depression and mania, with limited counselling availability and a long waiting list to see a psychiatrist can you really blame my cravings?

So Ketamine as a treatment for the lows is highly tempting – however as Brent says in his article, the price tag is high so as usual the treatment isn’t something that is available to all.

What do you think?  Is there enough research into treatments for mental health problems?  Are drugs – prescribed or otherwise the answer?

I was once asked if I lived on an isolated island and had everything I needed to physically survive would I change having bipolar?

My answer is no, it is too much part of who I am – so then we have to ask maybe the problem isn’t just within ourselves but within the society in which we are trying to function in as well.

So are drugs the answer?  The problem is I don’t know.

I do know everything I have tried so far hasn’t “cured” me.  I also know that maybe I don’t want to be cured at all.

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