Daily Archives: March 10, 2013

Revisiting the past

For the most part, I have spent 20 years medicated. There have, however, been times when I went off the meds, usually because I either couldn’t afford them or some idiot convinced me there’s nothing wrong with me except a bad personality the meds wouldn’t fix.Oh, and the doctors who think xanax is a invalid medication.

I have been taken off of Xanax about six times.

The outcome every single time, no matter what alleged anti anxiety medication is used (SSRI, MAO,other benzos, atypical anti psychotics) is that I wind up right back where I started. Paranoid, jumpy, panic ridden, and damn near agoraphobic.

I am right back there again, revisiting the past.

It looks like we’re getting a new neighbor. I don’t know the person but I am pretty convinced they will reign hell fire down upon me like the one last summer did. I hope I am wrong. I doubt it. This place pretty much to rents to anyone, druggies, pedophiles, murderers, you name it. Which in my case four years ago with a string of bad references (for having a cat, not for failing to pay rent) was a good thing. Now that these dregs are my neighbors, though…A little selectivity wouldn’t hurt.

I want to let things unfold, rather than make sweeping assumptions. Scumbag Paranoid brain is allowing none of this logic.

We went to the store for groceries earlier. The entire time we were out I was looking around like a freak, feeling like I was under watch. My kid ran through the store like a banshee and my attempts to corral her resulted only in “You’re hurting me” shrieks. I have practically given up. At this rate, I’m rubber room material anyway, not IF, just a case of when.

I don’t want to be around people. I don’t want to read or write or listen to music. I don’t want to watch tv. I want to chainsmoke and that’s about it because my brain is sending so many wrong messages I can’t trust any of them.

To add to the strain, I returned home yesterday to find the neighborhood kids had been in the yard on my kid’s swing set, left trash in the yard, oh and stolen her princess ride on car. Then a neighbor informed me these kids were also siccing a pit bull on the stray cats under my trailer.

Think that helps the paranoia and terror?

I am a wreck. Afraid to leave now, lest the little feral brats set the place on fire. They’ve already spray painted every shed (but mine) and pretty much destroyed all the empty trailers by putting boards through windows and ripping off siding and doors. They don’t mess with shit when I am home but when I am gone, it’s a free for all. I don’t know what to do with it, I cant bring a swingset inside and I don’t see why my kid should not be allowed to have something without others destroying it. These are kids who run till 11pm, 12 am during the summer, they have no parental supervision. Kids 6,7,8 years old. It’s disgusting. For all my kid’s tantrums, she doesn’t act as bad as some of these kids.

So…I was starting to lose the paranoia and anxiety, the panic was getting under control, and now I am becoming the same neurotic trainwreck I was before I went back on Xanax.

Ringing endorsement for  my treatment plan.

I don’t care if the literature says Klonopin is the same thing as Xanax. I swear it’s actually making me more aggressive. Which the doctors deny and yet I found six different message boards today of people who say it did the same thing to them.

What are you supposed to do when the people you count on to help you seem to go out of their way to do the opposite?

I am trying to retrain my brain and learn to be more optimistic but when your brain keeps sending you all these altered perceptions…How the fuck does that even work?

My mood crashed after the outing.

I don’t want to even breathe right now but my kid is awake so I have to keep functioning.

Which I will continue to do…Right up until I don’t.

I think a twenty thousand dollar hospital bill that solves nothing is totally more sensical than just giving back my xanax.

God, this system is so fucked up, it’s not funny.

 

 


‘How are you feeling?’

Those of you who read these musings on my life with mental health problems, will know all too well the analogies I make between aggressive car drivers and cyclists.  They push us up against the kerb, overtake at narrow points in the road…and they knock us off our bikes.

I was out on my bike in the countryside the other day on one of the first proper rides of any noteworthy length that I have ridden this year, when I came to a narrow lane that serves as the only road through a village. A car approached from the opposite direction at a sedate speed; I pulled over to allow him (or her – I tend not to notice these things – but that’s a topic for another edition).  The driver raised his hand slightly from the top of the steering wheel in a kind of half – wave as s/he passed me and continued down the lane. I, too,went on my way.

It’s nice to be acknowledged.

Sometimes we don’t have to have a long conversation about how we’re feeling.  Sometimes a simple acknowledgement does the trick. I don’t need people asking me for a full break down of how I’m coping with my moods.  Mostly it’s nice just to be asked, with no danger of the prospect of a ‘heavy’ conversation.

There have been a couple of recent releases at the cinema of films that explore mental illness: ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and ‘Side Effects’.  While these films raise some questions about the portrayal of mental health problems, they are a soft way of showing that the subject of mental health isn’t a topic that is taboo, and that without even asking about your colleague or friend’s own issues, you are signalling that it’s a topic that doesn’t have to be skirted round.

Click on the link below to see how asking about how someone’s feeling needn’t get you into a ‘heavy’ conversation which you may find hard to cope with, but signals acceptance and support which goes a long way to eroding the stigma which continues to linger while we steer clear of even the smallest of acknowledgements.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIArbJULkPA

Not Waving But Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Stevie Smith (1902 – 1971)


Happy Mother’s Day!

At least, it’s Mother’s Day//Mothering Sunday here in the United Kingdom. So don’t forget to pass on well-intended Hallmark greetings to your friends who fall into that category. ‘Cept for me, ’cause I’m scooting back to playing SimCity. Mmm, addictive…

<3

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The Hell Ride-A Child’s Birthday Party

How bad was it?

I went to bed at 7:30 pm as soon as my kid was down because I was emotionally bankrupt and one more stressor would have likely sent me into a screaming tissy. I tried watching TV to unwind. That went away because even that noise was pushing my buttons. Curled up with my cat Azazel and even his purring seemed to be too much noise. How pathetic is that? So it was back to the tic tac o pin. I mean, I have to take SIX (3mg) of them to get the same result as 1mg of Xanax. How is this better? This is gonna turn me into an abuser, just trying to get some damn relief.

So…I sucked up all my misgivings, determined to be a normal mom and take my kid to a birthday party even though for all my smiles and pseudo normalcy,I might as well have been facing a firing squad.

Got there.

Go inside and it’s wall to wall. I kid you not, there were fifty adults and 25 children of varying ages. The pile of presents was mind boggling. One word came to mind: OVERKILL. I love my daughter but this kid at the party was turning ONE. Like she’s gonna remember any of it. What they spent on that party would cover all my bills for two months.

Fine, I’m a killjoy. If I WERE rich, though, I’d totally have something wicked like elephant rides or monkeys or something not frilly.

My discomfort was off the charts. Unfamiliar home. Unfamiliar people.  R’s exwife, the baby’s grandmother was there. They put the baby down and rather than go to grandma’s open arms, she toddled over to me and Spook. That got me some dirty looks. Not my fault kids like me and Spook, we visit L regularly, probably more than Grandma J does. To J’s credit, she didn’t make a scene, which is unusual. This is a woman who once busted in R’s door and we had to call the cops and it took three cops to haul her off in cuffs. Being wary of her is not paranoid, it is wise. Maybe there were too many witnesses, I dunno.

I was so glad when R and his wife and his mom got there. Finally people I know. For all the good it did, R was being his social butterfly self,  and amidst the chaos, you couldn’t get across the room. So I sat, watching while my kid played musical chairs and listened to nothing I said. Yeah, mom of the fuckin’ year here.

Eventually they said the kids could go play out back where they’d set up a princess sort of carriage. Spook went nuts playing with other kids, although right off the bat a 7 year old girl whacked her with a toy so she has a mark on her forehead. I did not like that little girl. She saw Spook playing with her brother’s truck and took it away but then tried to help herself to my kid’s tye dye puppy. NOT cool, you little demonoid. (I was so uncomfortable and panicky, I may have been under altered perception.)

Anyway, it’s not a great pic cos the sun was bright and my phone camera is crap but here is Spook poking her head out of the princess carriage.03-09-13_144

The coolness points for L’s second set of grandparents went way the fuck up when I found this beauty in their yard. I love freaking gargoyles.

03-09-13_152

Anyway…I spent most of the party outside with the kids, I mean, I attempted to go inside with my kid to get food…But oh no, she had to have a screaming mimi, running through the house screaming had the top of her lungs “No, mommy, you hurt me!” Which considering I couldn’t get within a foot of her without her kicking me, is funny. R’s stepfather actually took her outside and gave her money cos he thought she was upset that L was getting gifts and she wasn’t. I tried to tell him it was not necessary, she was just mad that I was going to make her eat, but he told me to go buy the kid a present. Nice gesture, but…

Her fit and his gesture of kindness (which made me feel like “people see me as too poor to buy me a kid a damn toy) damn near had me in tears. I sat outside while she played and fought it off, but I couldn;t wait to bolt. Especially when R’s sisters showed up. T likes me, we used to work together and be friends. The other sister, M, never could stand me when R and I were together so that was not fun. To my credit, I didn’t return her dirty looks even tho I had to turn my back to avoid doing so.

I had to keep doing breathing exercises to ward off the panic, even at one point taking Spook out to the car so I could gather my bearings. With all those witnesses and me acting so squirrelly and sitting outside, seeming so anti social…It sucked. For me. Spook had fun, though, and I guess that’s all that matters.

I saw others making an exit, and so did we. Said bye to T and the baby and thanked her for having us, then straight home.

I fed my kid, put her in jammies, then to bed we went.

I woke feeling  more hungover than I ever had from any drunk.

Everyone says, hey you made it, you survived, it wasn’t so bad.

It was bad. For me. No one gets that. That two and a half hours pretty much sucked everything out of me and took my whole day away for the most part. Yeah, who wouldn’t view that as a victory?

Today…I must get groceries. Then I must get caught up on the laundry that amassed while my drain was clogged.

Other than that, I am doing shit. I am watching The Vampire Diaries and tending to my spawn and that is it. Reality can bite me.

I survived, but the thought of 15 more years of outings of this nature…Selfish as it may be, it just points out that maybe I am not a good mom and she would be better off without me.

Oh,well. This particular hell ride is over and she had fun and now a bunch of people I don’t know are likely talking about the mom who couldn’t control her kid and who ruined part of the party with her fits.

Yeah, a success.

Fuck me.

 


Walking Wounded: Betrayal and Stigma

Even a few days later, I’m still stung and hurting.

A (former) friend whom I have known for years started a Facebook instant message conversation, and asked me what I’m up to.  I said, I’m up to my ears writing a novel, authoring two blogs of my own, participating in a group blog (A Canvas Of The Minds), and guest blogging for others on mental-health related topics, specifically bipolar disorder.

She comes back, bipolar disorder?  Are you bipolar?

Yes.

Are you on meds?

Yes.

Were you on meds when you lived here (with her family for three months, six years ago, while apartment hunting)?

Yes.

Huh.  Well, good luck then.

Click.

A Shrike Impales its Dinner

A Shrike Impales its Dinner

I should have just walked away from it, counted the loss of another person I had thought was my friend, but I felt like I would be betraying myself, as a campaigner for mental health parity and erasing stigma, if I just let it be.  So I sent her a couple of private emails to see if we could sort it out.  No deal.  Door closed.

The pang of that injury took me back to my very first attempt to disclose my private battles with mental illness.  I was at an American Academy of Pediatrics conference.  I am a lifetime elected fellow of that venerable organization.  The conferences are huge, held in gigantic conference centers or spread across multiple hotels.  EVERYONE is there.  So I am navigating a crowded lobby, and I run into an old mentor of mine from my residency.  We had been quite close, and she had always been a shining light for me.  How have you been, she asks kindly.  Well, I return, if you want to know the truth, I’ve been struggling with depression.  She turns on her heel and walks away.  I watch her back receding into the crowd, burning up with shame and racked with the chill of fear: what have I become, that friends and colleagues and teachers just turn and walk away as if I were a leper ringing a bell and calling out, “Impure, impure”?

Years later, I became very close with a neighbor on our street who was also a physician, and like me, an herbalist and energy healer.  We felt a deep kinship and hung around whenever we weren’t at work.  Our kids played together, our husbands liked each other.  It was relaxed and fun and warm.

Even more years later, I had moved away and decided to add acupuncture to my medical toolbox, so I enrolled in an acupuncture school.  First day there, who shows up, but my dear neighbor from before!  We were so thrilled to be on parallel paths.  She and her husband had also moved to the state where I now lived, and she had also enrolled in the acupuncture course!  We switched rooms so we could be roommates; back home we started a seminar group for physician acupuncturists in the area; we stayed close.

Then I had my breakdown.  I won’t go into the details here.  It’s enough to say that I was immobilized by depression, catatonically immobilized, and had to be transported to hospital where I stayed for a couple of weeks.  There was talk of ECT, which I adamantly refused.  I got better enough to discharge; or actually, my insurance ran out and they decided I was better enough to discharge.  I spent the next year completely incapacitated on the wrong meds and racked with guilt over losing my medical practice and putting my two employees out of work, and anything else I could find or manufacture to feel guilty about.

The phone rang one day and I idly picked it up: I wasn’t answering the phone that much in those days.  Why bother?  Who cared?

“Hello?” an eager voice greeted me.  It was my friend the acupuncturist-herbalist-physician!  I was so glad to hear her voice.

“Hi, D_,” I managed, trying to sound chipper.

“Well, what’s the matter?  I’ve been calling and calling you but you never answer and haven’t returned my messages!”  D_ could be fiery.

“Well, D_, the problem is I’ve been struggling with depression.”

“Oh.” (beat) “Good luck then.” Click.

I guess that was probably therapeutic in its way, because ever since I’d gone into catatonia I had not been able to cry.  When D_ snubbed me because I was sick, I fell on the floor convulsed with sobs.  I screamed, I howled, I kicked things, I looked around for something I could afford to break but found nothing so I screamed some more.  I felt more betrayed at that moment than I did when I found out my husband had been cheating on me.  Husbands are one thing; bosom friends are another, and being betrayed because of who I am, and the fact that I was ill, by a fellow doctor whom I loved, was just too much.

So when last week brought me another dose of betrayal, I had a flashback to the last time I was dismissed due to my illness.  It is enough to be one of the walking wounded warriors, without having to endure the betrayal of stigma.

I bless us all, and bless me back, that our friends should be loyal and true friends, as loyal and true as the biblical Jonathan and David, who watched each other’s backs and took care of each other through all the ups and downs of life, loyal till death.