My MSc department were recruiting, and as my mother spotted their advert a second time, it was like history repeating.
I was asked just four questions in total in my interview with three staff members. On being offered the job the next day, I thought their MSc award to myself might have made it hard for them not to employ me. My start date was January 1997.
Clare and I saw each other from late 1993. I'd been drinking too much for some years and I even got a driving ban, therefore long commutes back and to from my mother's house were the "order of the day."
In little time Clare's elderly mother died, and Clare was alone. I decided that moving in with Clare was right, but it wasn't an emotional decision.
Clare bought a dog: a formidable looking staffie called Digger. She was new to dogs, but I'd known my stepfather's Labrador. I later wondered if Digger was intended more as an attachment than a pet.
In 1998 a third psychotic like episode was beginning. Increased insight led to earlier treatment and I was away from work for just a short time. After this third hospitalisations it was clear my illness was chronic, so I was started on Lithium as
a lifelong prophylactic treatment. (Interestingly I have not been admitted since.)
Six years after my first psychiatry appointment I was diagnosis with bipolar disorder. It is common, as was the case for me, for an initial schizophrenia diagnosis to change to bipolar disorder as a history transpires. Significantly, mood disorders usually have a better prognosis than schizophrenia.
Whilst not the most stressful my job was soon out of contract, and I'd moved home not long ago.
I still had the piano, and it was increasingly important to me. I more or less had complete control in that aspect of my life, whereas outside of it I didn't.
With humiliating delusions, I realised that dog breeds broadcast covert information about their owners or walkers. Naturally, that meant that Digger had been tarnishing my local reputation.
At school my brain was good at making connections. It often led to my hand being the first in the air to answer questions. But with mania the remotest ideas can be reached and validated by multiple links.
Clare had dabbled with Scientology when it first arrived in the city. I became convinced she was manipulating me with the skills she learned from the church.
Whilst we were still living separately I tried to end our relationship. Clare was really upset about the idea. Years later a work colleague told me that "I'd put another person's happiness before my own." Those words were probably the most bittersweet ones anyone has said to me, and in his gospel, John himself said that Jesus was recorded as saying, "Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
Living with Clare caused a stunting of my personal growth, such as my confidence, etc. She was fifteen years my senior and had rheumatoid arthritis (RA) It began just after her mother died, which was no so long after Clare and I met.
I was protected by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in my job, but with many sick days and human resources meetings, my name found the top of the redundancies list when a major restructuring occurred. Perhaps he DDA helped to make that job last thirteen years.
I've heard it said, that despite the DDA, if a company no longer wants you they'll find a way to lose you. I think they did in my case.
In fairness it wasn't all my fault that I lost my job. My ex-line manager did not manage. He availed himself for rare random problems, and mundanities like signing leave cards. He allowed our working environment to become an anarchic power hierarchy. I had technical skills which may have led to survival in a skills hierarchy, but ironically, even in a university they were useless. Having made a serious mistake when I left the other university I'd worked for (my first job), I was reluctant to do anything but sit tight in this job.
Clare got septicaemia four years before I lost this job. She spent two weeks in intensive care, then seven months in isolation in an Infectious Diseases ward. We got married when she came home. It was summer 2012. During this admission, RA continued to damage her hip. She spent her remaining six years disabled and wheelchair bound (including at our wedding.) I pushed her everywhere, and I became increasingly responsible, for her personal and intimate aspects of her daily life.
Clare was quite a poorly type. She even survived blood poisoning again. However, after being transferred to a nursing home from hospital in 2012, (and I forget the reason for this particular admission) I went to see her quite early one morning. She was dead. It was me who discovered her.
As awful as it sounds, seeing her motionless body gave me some hope. Maybe life would improve?
Things did improve, but the video on this page shows where I had to start from. I'm frankly "off my head." Clare allowed and possibly encouraged it. My Risperidone had reached 12mg/day at one point. I was lost: perhaps a victim of domestic abuse?
In a while I began a partial withdrawal from Risperidone. I reduced Depakote too. I'd read on a website that it's hard to come off. Since then I decided that information is unreliable. Thankfully I had the good sense not to mess with my Priadel (lithium). NHS psychiatry later said that coming off lithium is very likely to cause a relapse.