I didn’t brush my teeth this morning

3pm Thursday 10 October 2019, sitting at my desk in Defra

James Arthur Cattell
Oct 10 · 4 min read

Inspired by friend and colleague DavidBuck’s blog post for World Mental Health Day 2019 (#WMHD2019) I thought I’d tap a few thoughts on the interwebs.

(I momentarily procrastinate on Twitter, worry about things and then settle down to type)

About 10 years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder type 2. No one was surprised, least of all my family. I’d been an overly energetic child, teenager and adult with a knack for getting into trouble.

(I stop to scratch the damaged skin on my hands, then worry about using the wrong words)

Yesterday I told Janet Hughes that I’d get up early for WMHD2019, get into the office and seize the day. She wisely talked me out of it and I got up about 8am. But I forgot to brush my teeth.

(I feel hot and uncomfortable. What if this is drivel and no one reads it? Looser)

I thought about brushing my teeth several times. But each time I thought, “I’ll do it next or in a few minutes”. Shortly after I’d set off on my cycle to work, I remembered I still hadn’t done it. Oh well, I’ll buy something at the chemists or maybe I just won’t do it at all? My teeth use to cause me so much trouble. Now they’re much better, even though I’m still missing 4 teeth and I haven’t been to the dentist in ages.

(Okay, this is rubbish. Who would read this? It’s just self-absorbed bollocks. Sigh)

It’s now late afternoon and I still haven’t brushed my teeth. It’s a sign that I’m not looking after myself. I also haven’t been to the gym for several weeks, which I need to keep doing if I’m doing to avoid crutches or a wheelchair later in life.

(Maybe in the future they’ll have exoskeletons that hide under my clothes? They probably won’t give you 1 though, cause you’re not worth it)

Anyway, thanks for that. I am worth it even though I frequently disagree with myself, as shown above. This is 1 of the side-effects of living with bipolar, I think. Or it could just be that my confidence is low at the moment. I’m not sure which.

(You’re rubbish and nobody likes you)

For fucks sake give it a rest. You’re, sorry, I’m beginning to sound crazy (I’m allowed to use that word, right?) which you’re obviously not because you take your drugs, have given up alcohol, nicotine, refined sugar, caffeine an above all….

(My colleague Clare interrupts me to ask if I want teeth. No, not teeth. Tea. I say yes, give some instructions and return straight back to this as it’s important)

So yeah, I didn’t brush my teeth this morning and now I’m worried it’s symptomatic of a wider problem that…. (woah, hang on. I didn’t finish my sentence above!!!) …..and above all I have Janet. She has centred me. She grounds me in reality and away from the bright, addictive light of hypomania.

(Oh, here we go. It’s that bit where you talk about the ‘sexy stuff’)

I did a talk a few years ago where I glorified hypomania….

(My colleague Tamsin interrupts me to say the thing we’re working on went well. Right, focus now)

….which if you don’t know is a mental state between ‘normal’ and full blown mania.

(I realise I’m scratching my wrist and force myself to stop, audibly grumble at myself, then crack on with the typing)

Hypomania was incredibly addictive. No, it is incredibly addictive. I sometimes tell Janet or David that I thought about stopping my anti-psychotic meds before immediately saying I wouldn’t do it. But I know deep inside that that longing to be hypomanic will never complete go, and by staying healthy I can avoid it.

(I scratch my head and can feel my wrist still hurting from being scratched. Sorry, but what’s the point of this blog post again? You fool)

Okay, so the point I was trying to make is that not brushing my teeth this morning is a symptom of a wider problem. But really it’s not. It’s just that I’m so incredibly hard on myself, which shows through in so many things I do. Take for example the A level maths I’m studying — I’m currently going round and round in circles trying to perfect ‘completing the square’ which is part of quadratics.

(I scratch my head nervously)

Here’s what my exercise book looks like:

Pages in an exercise book full of maths expressions with lots of green and red marking over the top

(Tamsin interrupts me to talk about the work we’ve done. It sounds awesome so I go over to help her and have a chat about it)

So yeah, er. Well. Yes! I need to stop being so hard on myself. It’s not healthy.

(You should probably stop now otherwise it’ll be rubbish)

Happy World Mental Health Day 2019 everyone! And remember what Jerry Springer said. Then brush your teeth.

(So lame)

    Written by

    UK Civil Service community grower for Defra and One Team Gov (#OneGreenGov). Unconference expert. Maths student. Cyclist. Bipolar. Janet Hughes's husband ♥

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