The shrink arrived this morning with a medical student in tow. I told her I was much, much better now. I had charted my mood, alcohol intake, sleep and chlorpromazine use over the past two weeks. As ever, she was concerned about the alcohol (70 units/week) and spoke for a good half hour, doing the old motivational interviewing crapola... "so what do you think would make you want to change" etc. Eventually she stopped harping on about it and I got a chance to tell her the good stuff. How I was now taking pictures, restarted my blog and even been to Glasgow for the day. She asked how I had gotten to Glasgow and I told her I'd driven. "YOU STILL DRIVE? DO THE DVLA KNOW?". What the fuck is she on about?
She then explains that the DVLA must be notified when you are diagnosed bipolar and she presumed this would have been done by one of her predecessors. Nope, never heard of such a thing. She says it never occurred to her to check as she had "inherited" me and presumed this was all taken care of long ago. Why does it matter, I'm not epileptic nor do I have narcolepsy. She says that I wouldn't be allowed to drive for about 3 months following a hypomanic episode. Fair enough. BUT she then says her main concern is my drinking and that I shouldn't be driving with my current consumption (only 10u/day). I need to inform the DVLA of my diagnosis or my car insurance will be invalid. They will then send questionnaires to the shrink and my family doctor who will provide them with information not only about my psychiatric condition but also drug and alcohol use. If the docs indicate that I am misusing alcohol I will have my licence taken away. I AM DEVASTATED!
How come Joe Public can drink as many units as he likes, confide in his doctor and continue driving BUT if he happens to have a diagnosis of bipolar diorder his licence will be removed. This is discrimination, no doubt about it. How many fuckin' doctors drink more than 21 units per week? And they keep talking about fighting the good fight against the stigma of mental illness. BULLSHIT. The more perceptive reader may have picked up that I am a wee bit annoyed about this. And before you say it, NO, I can't get the train, there are no stations in my entire region of four counties! No I won't get the fekn bus cos I don't fit into the seats which are designed for tiny munchkins and unable to accomodate 18 stone whales like me.
I live in a remote rural area and without the car I am fucked. A trip to the likes of PC World means a half hours walk to the bus stop. The bus to the city takes two hours. Then there's half an hours bus trip to the retail park. Add on to that lengthy waits for a irregular bus services and you are looking at about 8 hours to buy a memory stick. I can drive there and back in about 3 hours (and without anxiety and physical discomfort).
When I feel up to going for a walk these days, I invariably drive to someplace where I am unknown or where no one will see me. Without the car I simply wouldn't go out. This ain't no psychological breakdown, this is the road to hell.
There's one thing for sure, I will NEVER confide in a doctor about my drinking again. In fact I plan to keep my cards close to my chest and reveal as little as possible about my mental state in future. How can I confide in a service that isn't completely confidential but is willing to inform other government agencies of my condition.