Daily Archives: May 16, 2014
Sorry my Top Ten list posted itself a bazillion times. That was NOT intentional. I’m totally blaming brain-fog from the meds. My apologies, folks. : -(Filed under: musings
"It makes your pupils frickin' huge!" -- and nine more reasons to stay on the Effexor.
It used to be that I could never be found without a book within arm’s reach. I had a purse book, a nightstand book, a bathroom book, and a car book at the very least. (I kept them straight by having a different genre in each location.)
Now that I have a Nook e-reader, I have hundreds of books with me everywhere I go. But I’m doing a lot less reading.
I think it’s a function of my lack of concentration, but whether that’s the disorder or the meds, I couldn’t say.
I do know that when I was in the depths of my most recent breakdown, I barely read at all. I watched moronic reality shows like Trading Spouses, on the theory that these people’s lives were bigger train-wrecks than mine. And I watched cooking shows, because they were calming. (This was before cooking game shows really got going.)
During an earlier meltdown, I tried to watch sitcoms, but the relentlessly upbeat theme songs made me weep.
Now I have to hoard my concentration like I hoard my spoons. I am fortunate enough to be able to work freelance from home. But it’s the kind of work that sometimes has deadlines. On days when I can force myself to work, I can concentrate for about 2-1/2 to three hours at a spell. Some days I have to do two sessions like that with a nap in between, if a deadline is approaching too rapidly.
But when it comes to non-work activities, I can usually only concentrate for an hour at the most. Sometimes I try really hard so that I can watch a movie, but mostly I stick to half-hour or hour-long shows.
But reading takes concentration too, especially if the book has a plot (which I recommend) or is information-rich nonfiction. I do a lot of my reading in bed at night. (Yes, I know you’re not supposed to do that because it keeps you from falling asleep. But it’s a life-long habit.)
My mind flitters, the hamsters and sometimes the badgers stir, and I find myself several pages along with no idea what happened. At that point my need for distraction and my attention span collide and I have to find something moderately absorbing but short-term to do. It’s a good thing I have some games on my reader so I can play a hand of rummy or work a sudoku puzzle.
Reading has been one of the great joys of my life, since I was four, and it bothers me that I no longer have the ability to immerse myself in it the way I used to.
But, like so many other things, it’s something I’m having to learn to live with.
I thought I was ready to talk about my latest stint at the hospital, but now I’m not so sure. I think there are a lot of repressed memories for the sake of protecting myself from how hellacious it really was, and I’m afraid of what reaction I will have by forcing myself to tell the story. But I think I can’t heal from it until I do. If you need a quick refresher of how I ended up there, read my very first post.
I ended that part of my story by saying I finally went to the ER after 4 days of being totally crippled by panic, when I realized my blood pressure was somewhere around 195/120 with a pulse around 115 and I was terrified I could actually have a stroke from my body’s physical reaction to a mental issue. In the ER they refused to give me any medical treatment to get my blood pressure down, and offered me 1mg of Ativan. This is after I told them I already took 2mg every day, and it was obviously not helping. Every nurse that came in and checked my vitals asked “Do you have problems with your blood pressure?” to which the answer was no, that’s why I’m here. Then they would invariably recommend I try some deep breathing exercises to calm me down, and when I told them I’d barely been able to breathe for 4 days (every gasp was like the air was going down a washboard inside of me, all bumpy and sharp) and had been faithfully taking my meds, trying breathing exercises, guided meditation, coloring, sleeping, not sleeping, being alone, being with family, walking… they just suggested I try again anyway. This went on for hours.
I went there for help. I pleaded to be sedated. I did everything I could possibly do on my own and was begging for help and no one would do anything. Thats when I started to slip into what I refer to as my emotional coma – staring blankly, barely able to breathe, tears streaming down my stoic face. That was the first time I was ever genuinely suicidal. I wanted to die rather than feel like I was dying. I could feel myself slipping away. My mom just sat next to my bedside, trying to encourage me to keep fighting, but I didn’t care. When the doctor finally came in, I was told they wouldn’t prescribe anything unless I agreed to be admitted to psych. My nightmare. A true stripped down/strapped down psych ward. I don’t know how my mom convinced me to do it, she must have been able to draw out my last ounce of will to live. If you’re wondering, the psych ward didn’t accept my insurance.
By the time they were taking my things and wheeling me to the elevator in nothing but a gown that was way too small and a thin blanket, I had totally shut down. This couldn’t be happening. My face was stoic and tears rolled down my rigid cheeks.
They took everything that had barely been keeping me sane – a book of poetry, a small logic game, a seashell, index cards with affirmations and encouragement on them, my journal – and put me in a room.
It was as bad as you could possibly imagine. For one, the place was stripped down and totally dilapidated. There was a girl on the other cot on the floor who never said a word and just laid in bed staring at the wall. People were wandering the halls aimlessly, people were strapped to beds in other rooms, and I didn’t have control over so much as a light switch. I lost it. I sobbed and wrapped my arms around myself and rocked back and forth begging and pleading with my mother not to leave me there. But what choice did she have? She just wanted me to get some help, any help, anything to make this drawn out episode stop. When she pointed out to a nurse that I hadn’t eaten all day, they went and got – I swear – a microwave Lean Cuisine for me. I mean… seriously? No one came to talk to me except yet another round of people making me go through the whole story over and over, and tell me that my BP was dangerously high and I really should try to calm down. They wouldn’t give me my clothes back because since I came straight from work I had been wearing scrubs, and there seemed to be an actual concern I could be confused with the staff. I later found out that my mom brought me different clothes less than an hour later, but it took them a FULL DAY to get around to giving them to me. It took even longer for them to go through my bag and give me back a book and my index cards.
I slipped back into my survival coma, staring at the terrifying cracking and peeling walls, listening to the horrifying sounds of a fully locked down psych ward, without even being dispensed my normal meds let alone anything helpful. You know, because in my condition, cutting off the lithium and Ativan cold turkey really seemed like a bright idea to someone. I was told I would MAYBE see a doctor the next day.
No one came to help me. Even though we were checked on every 15 minutes all night I didn’t have the ability to shout out, to tell them I couldn’t breathe, to ask them to do anything – they rounding night nurses reported that I slept all night with no issues. Way to fuck up. The lab came up to draw blood early in the morning, and they had to hold up my limp ragdoll arm to get a stick, then just left – no one thought to say anything like “hey that girl is really fucked up” or “she’s not really breathing” – they just commented on my BP and pulse again.
By mid morning, anger was taking over. Not just angry, fury really, but you have to dial it down due to the no one feeding me or giving me any meds and just leaving me in the caged room. I wandered out in the hallway and finally got enough breath/gumption to say to a nurse “shouldn’t I be in a group somewhere or something? Can I please see a doctor?” only to be told they didn’t have such orders yet. I slumped back into bed and resumed by coma like state. The place I went to in order to get help was slowly killing me. Literally.
That’s all I can manage to write at the moment, I’m starting to have flashbacks and can’t do anymore.
There is no sunshine. No interacting with friends. No running, jumping, falling, hitting, laughing until the street lights come on.
Kids now are hook into the Matrix all day long with cellphones, internet, TV, radio. Anything and everything prevents them from going into the fresh air. Soon we will be looking like the people off of the Disney movie ‘WALL-E’:
Lazy, with a side of Mental Illness.
What do you think?
Filed under: Awareness, News, Ranting
No, I’m serious…..I really am eating popcorn for dinner in the tradition of my father, who made popcorn on the stove with oil and salt and real butter. And it wasn’t any of that JiffyPop stuff either—Daddy didn’t believe in cheating where popcorn was concerned. And while this treat may not be good for the waistline (as if I had one of those, haha) it sure soothes the soul.
Well, I’m a step closer to getting unemployment. I got a call this afternoon from the adjudicator, who decides whether or not to award benefits. She asked me a bunch of questions about how and why I lost my job, and at the end of the conversation said she didn’t think there would be any issues with being approved. That was very reassuring, and unless something really goes sideways, I’ll probably start drawing benefits within the next week or so.
But oh, the things one has to go through to get there…..of course, I had to discuss all the factors that went into the termination, and of course I had to let her know about my disability. This is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, the last time I had to do this, admitting to the bipolar actually helped my case. I even came clean about not being able to do floor nursing anymore because I’m too scatterbrained to be safe caring for a group of patients.
I can work, I just need to do something that doesn’t require me to focus or concentrate for long periods of time, or involve irregular hours. I don’t really mind admitting that, seeing as how I had to bring the whole bipolar thing up in the first place; besides, knowing this will help the Employment Division to help me find suitable work, which might not even be in nursing. Who knows, I could be perfectly happy working for twelve bucks an hour in an office somewhere.
Other than writing—and if I could make a living at it, I’d never leave my computer chair—the thing I enjoy most in all the world is taking care of people. I used to be excellent at it, before everything got to be about how much work the powers that be could wring out of a nurse each shift. Before nursing became just another “customer service” job where one can be verbally or even physically abused by “customers” without any recourse. Before the care was taken out of healthcare.
I can’t do what passes for nursing anymore. Not just because I’ve changed, but because the profession has, and it’s changed into something I don’t even recognize. Every nursing job I hear about, apply for, interview for is the same: irregular hours, long days, huge workloads, short-staffing. And even though wages are decent, they’ve stagnated and many nurses are making pretty much what they did five or ten years ago.
Now where in that universe does a nurse like me fit? I’m damaged, yes, but I still have a lot to offer and I don’t really care about the financials as long as I can pay the rent and buy ALL of my meds in the same month. I’m not terribly concerned that I won’t find a job; the question is, can I find one that doesn’t require me to sell my soul and give up any chance at a life beyond work?
I am fifty-five, bipolar, and beat all to shit physically. Both mind and body are telling me it is time to throttle back, and here I go tilting at windmills again. Will I ever learn?
I suppose my meds and therapy are actually working – otherwise there’s no way I would have made it through yesterday and today. And yet I did – without allowing a full on panic attack to take grip.
Yesterday I got a ride to work, made it through “Wacky Wednesday” when we’re usually the most insanely busy, and had a coworker drop me off downtown near my therapists office over lunch break. I had some time to kill, so I wandered around, eventually running into someone I knew and that little chat took me to 1:00 when group therapy was. Oh, right before I left work, I got a call from a county I haven’t lived in for years to appear in court over thousands of dollars in property taxes for a car that was repossessed almost as soon as I moved to said county.
Group was intense. So intense that I can’t fully recall what we were discussing. I remember we all got into the “I’m the sickest, I have it the worst” thing which really delved up a lot of shit. We also discussed personality disorders, though I have no idea what brought it up, and I started getting really upset about being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder at 17. I shared how I thought the diagnosis was a personal attack, as if I was being told I was fundamentally defective, and may be why I bucked against any treatment or help for soooooooo long. It was really emotionally difficult to take myself back to that time, but I realized for the first time that that was when shame took hold – I thought I was broken, defective, damaged goods – so I guess I decided to simply ignore it and pretend like nothing had happened.
Directly after group Mom picked me up and took me to pick up my car – they tested the alternator but it checked out fine and just replaced the battery. Still reeling from therapy and feeling added guilt about needing financial help to get my car going again, I headed home. Well, halfway there the battery light came on so I pulled over and called the garage – they said to bring it right back in. So with bated breath I drove back, and they were checking things out when I got a phone call from the hospital about my several thousand dollar bill from my 36 hours in the ER and Psych where I’m beginning to think I was more abused than anything (certainly not helped).
When I got off the phone and turned around I saw someone I work for and her daughter who I’m friends with, picking up her car. Before I could worry about what they overheard of my phone call, I was being told it was the alternator after all. I asked my friend if she could take me home and told the garage they would have to call my mom to discuss any further work, and just as we were headed out the door the lady handed me the phone and said “your mom needs you” – when I got on the line the last thing I expected to hear was that her entire downstairs was flooded. Thankfully my friend took me over to my moms.
I was in pure survival and self preservation mode by then, otherwise I would have been curled up in the fetal position rocking back and forth. When I got there the whole downstairs was absolutely soaked – there must have been at least 200 gallons of water. I got as much as I could outside or on the stairs, and when we were told it would be hours til the professionals got there I put myself on shop vac patrol – cleaned Mom’s little 5 gallon one and got it ready, then went to borrow one from Granny’s neighbor and one from a coworker who lives down the road. We got about 50 gallons out between shop vacs and soaked towels by the time the pros got there and I could sit down.
This was around the time I realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day and was out of cigarettes, not to mention only getting 3 hrs of sleep the night prior. And also around the time my good friend M walked in to help/save me.
I managed to at least appear calm the whole time, which given the circumstances I think is pretty impressive. However, the day dragged every ounce of self-preservation/survival out of me, I must have looked a mess by the time M took me back to my place. Still in scrubs, half soaking wet, covered in dust and grime from the shop vacs.
But it could have been much worse, on all fronts, really.
After work today I spent hours making calendars and lists and timelines of the MOOCs I’m taking – I think it was my way to assert control over something. I did, however, still forget to eat. I’m such a damn hot mess express… but I’m surviving somehow, and that’s encouraging. I’m wary though, bc I’m convinced that any moment, without warning, everything I bottled up to get through all that is going to burst.
I mean, lets look at this a different way
- 3hrs of sleep
- no car to get to work, bummed a ride
- crazy busy & hectic at work
- random court summons
- no car to get to therapy, bummed a ride
- traumatizing therapy
- car was not fixed afterall
- mom’s washing machine decides it needs 2-300 gallons for that particular load
- no car to get to her, bummed a ride
- ran around getting shop vacs, then ran around using them (my chiropractor is REALLY going to love me this week)
- no food or cigarettes
- no car to get home, rescued by M
Its truly a miracle I got out of bed this morning…you know, to find out that while my car is running fine now I should maybe sell it asap before the engine explodes and someone a year under me in the same major at college passed away.
Did I mention when I got home to change out of my scrubs I only then noticed that my pants were inside out all day?