Daily Archives: November 15, 2014

In Our Hotel Room

We’ve been in the hotel room for a few hours after a lunch of indian food, which I normally love but has allowed me to spend more time in the washroom of our hotel room then in the actual room!

You’d think it would be romantic but instead I am feeling troubled and just putting on a happy face so that hubby doesnt think that I am not enjoying our time together. Part of it is my sore throat, makes it hard to talk for any amount of time. The other part is well honestly I have no flipping clue and hope to figure it out fast as we only have 2 nights together and I do so love spending time with hubby.

We are supposed to go to dinner tomorrow night at the place we first had our wedding dinner, I am hoping I dont chicken out about it. I’ve been known to do that from time to time.

I just hope that we can find something to do together.  We enjoy every single day together why should celebrating be so damn hard. Honestly sometimes I hate my brain.


The Thin Edge Of Dignity

I saw my new primary care provider yesterday. My doctor of some 20 years retired this past summer, so an appointment was set up for me with the resident whom I will call Dr. Pleasant when I was released from the hospital. I wondered why I was following up with an internist after a psych hospitalization (I see Dr. Awesomesauce on Monday), but as I’m generally a compliant patient, I decided to keep the appointment.

It turned out to be a most satisfying experience. Dr. P spent a full hour with me, going over my entire medical history—when was the last time that happened?—and he listened respectfully to what I had to say. He may be all of 30, if that, but he is very thorough and seems to know what he’s doing. He’s a lot more interested in my diabetes than my former doctor was, and of course he wants me to diet and exercise; but he’s realistic about what I can do (or will do) with all my aches and pains and isn’t going to push me too hard. As a result, I’m going to cut back on the carbs at least a little, and make a good-faith effort to take off a few pounds.

Then we got down to basics about the bipolar. I wasn’t looking forward to this part of the discussion, seeing as how I live on the thin edge of dignity and it’s always hard to talk about my psych history with medical people who don’t know me. But it became obvious within a very short time that Dr. P is completely non-judgmental about mental illness, and he thinks it’s great that I finally have a definitive diagnosis so I can work on getting better within that framework. “Sometimes it takes a hospitalization and new eyes to look at the situation,” he said. “It’s tough to be in limbo and not know for sure what you’re dealing with.”

You can say that again. All I feel, now that the question of what “flavor” of bipolar I have is settled, is relief. I’m not thrilled, to be sure, but I can live with it. Besides, I had it long before someone slapped a label on it…..I just wasn’t fully accepting because the old diagnosis was so nebulous. It gave me wiggle room to deny I had the illness at all, and for me that can be very dangerous. You can’t give me wiggle room on such a serious issue.

I did the same thing with alcohol way back in the day, before I quit drinking—I figured that if I didn’t get hammered every time I drank, I didn’t have a problem. But then it got to the point where I WAS getting hammered all the time, and when I finally sought help, the good people at Alcoholics Anonymous broke through the last of my denial. I accepted the fact that I did, indeed, have an alcohol problem, and it happened much more quickly than accepting that I had bipolar disorder. The only thing that’s kept me from destroying myself completely is that dignity thing I was talking about earlier. I don’t want to be messy. I don’t want to be thought of as a coward. I don’t want people to know how much I hate myself sometimes. And I don’t want anyone to be angry with me.

But those are thoughts for another day. Today it’s cold and dry, but the sun is shining and my daughter has invited Will and me over for a barbecue. It’s time to enjoy life a little and appreciate its gifts.


La, La, Lazy

My daughter wanted a sleepover with her grandma…so I have spent the day being la la lazy. Meh, threw in some laundry, put gas in the car, got cat food.
But my give a damn is busted.
I just don’t care about the unfolded laundry or any of it. It will keep. The world will not crash and burn if I take a day to just…be.
It’s amazing how calm my mind is right now. The only noise is what I permit. My thoughts are more of a two lane road now as opposed to the normal speeding freeway. I feel calm, pleasantly so. I am wearing a purple shirt, bright coral pants, red socks…I look ridiculous, but I am warm and comfy and…
I like my give a damn being broken. Too bad it occurs so rarely. I am not stressing over a thing today. My kid is in good hands and having fun and all I have to do is…nothing. Sit and watch my shows without any executive parenting decisions, no bickering with a stubborn child, no dealing with R and his litany of busted shit speeches…Not even the gloomy weather and forecast of snow is bringing me out of my calm little utopia of apathy.
God, I want to live here, forever.

On another note…
I really did not want to go last night. My mood was sooo low, my anxiety causing me to be irritable and jumpy…But I forced myself.
It didn’t start out all that great. And the drinks weren’t kicking in and I just felt downright surly.
But once I started to get the alcohol relaxed vibe…I just let go and let myself have a little fun. By trolling R and filling his wife in on a little sin of omission he committed. He asked if I am his wife’s understudy because we are on the same page. Ha ha ha.
You give me your word, you break your word, there will be a price to pay.
I am vindictive that way and actually, I don’t feel bad about it. Either play by the rules and be fair or prepare to get a metaphoric shovel to the head.

I always get my pound of flesh. Too many years spent being a passive victim. I evolved into this…snake of sorts. I only strike when I feel threatened but when I do strike, it will be with venom. Self defense.
Do I wish I could be less petty and mean spirited?
Not really. I’ve been there, done that, and it felt even shittier than being a quid pro quo evil bitch.
I’m not entirely sure I chose to be this way, I think it was just self preservation. Maybe I am not entirely likeable, but I respect myself and that means more than being liked by sheeple.

Besides how much kindness do I owe to a man who dumped me for being bipolar and still loooves to tell the story of how on our first date he took to a gambling boat, I had a massive panic attack, and puked over the side of the boat. Not my finest hour and he’s never let it go. Sensitive.
I’d love to not hold grudges. Forgiveness is divine and all that bullshit.
But my dark side is what makes me more interesting. People without a dark side are just in denial.
It was once I came to terms with my dark side and ceased being a welcome mat that I finally discovered how strong I am. Why would I want to turn back from that?

I have a good heart and I’d rip my still beating heart out for someone I care about…But if you throw me under the bus, I’m taking you under at least one wheel with me.

Okay,that’s personality disorder at its finest.

I feel bad for not feeling bad. Proof I’m not entirely sociopathic.

Today…I’m not even going to do that much. My give a damn is broken and I like it.

Some people vacation in Jamaica. I vacation in this mind space and it gets a 5 star rating from me.


Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment

Today, November 15, begins open enrollment in the US Health Insurance Marketplace.

Important Dates

  • Nov. 15, 2014 – Open enrollment begins
  • Dec. 15, 2014 – Enroll before this date to have coverage Jan. 1, 2015
  • Feb. 15, 2015 – Open enrollment ends

Yesterday I received the following email from NAMI, which I have quoted verbatim, about health insurance and the Health Insurance Marketplace.


NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness

It’s time to look at your health care needs and options.

If you don’t have health insurance or are looking for more affordable health insurance and haven’t looked at the Health Insurance Marketplace ― open enrollment is the time to look. During “open enrollment” you can buy private health insurance through the marketplace in each state. Depending on your income you can get financial help to pay for health insurance. If you have affordable employer-provided health insurance or are already covered by Medicaid or Medicare you cannot receive financial help paying for private health insurance coverage.

Do You Already Have Health Insurance through the Marketplace?

If you do, you must re-enroll every year or you will be automatically re-enrolledIt is also important to report any changes to your income to the marketplace.

  • This is a good time to check your health insurance coverage and see if it still meets your health and mental health care needs.
  • Anyone can change health care plans during open enrollment, but most people will be re-enrolled automatically if they take no action.
  • Carefully read all health insurance notices and updates.

Check Your Coverage

  • Even if you like your health plan, new plans may be available and premiums or cost sharing may have changed since last year.
  • Even if your income has not changed, you could be eligible for more financial assistance.

If You Live with a Mental Illness, Pay Attention to Possible Changes

  • Are a broad range of health and mental health care providers included in the health plan’s network of providers?
  • Are there enough medical specialists in the network to meet your needs?
  • Are needed medications included in the plan’s list of covered prescription drugs?
  • Is there adequate access to non-clinical, mental health-specific services and supports?
  • Does the plan have service limits, such as caps on the number of office visits for therapy services?
  • Are mental health and substance use services covered to the same extent as other “physical” health benefits are covered?

Where You Can Get Help

Health insurance can be complicated. If you or your family member needs help understanding your options, Healthcare.gov can help. It breaks down health insurance terminology and will tell you where you can get help in your local community. Each state has health insurance “navigators” to assist individuals with enrollment in health insurance. You can also call the 24-hour Healthcare.gov phone line for help at 1-800-318-2596.

The Kaiser Family Foundation also put together some great resources including a video explaining health insurance and a calculator you can use to figure out about how much health insurance will cost for you if you buy it through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Important Dates to Remember

Nov. 15, 2014
Open enrollment begins

Dec. 15, 2014
Enroll before this date to have coverage Jan. 1, 2015

Feb. 15, 2015
Open enrollment ends

More information on specific topics for each state can be found at the National Disability Navigator Resource Collaborative.


Filed under: Health, Mental Health Tagged: Health Insurance, health insurance marketplace

Cutters

If that title wasn’t enough of a trigger warning, well, here goes:

TRIGGER WARNING: Self-Harm

Recently a small discount store a couple of miles from my house was caught up in a furor because a “Princess Wand” toy they were selling (ominously named an “EvilStick”) would reveal a hidden image of a teenage girl cutting her arm with a knife. Here’s a link to a local news story about it, and the snopes.com report verifying it. If you want to, you can easily search out a copy of the image, but I don’t recommend it.

Self-Injury

http://www.snopes.com/photos/odd/evilstick.asp

The “toy” is in horrifically bad taste (so, for that matter, is the snopes article’s headline, “Wristcutters – A Toy Story”). But items that adults consider dreadful can attract kids (remember the Garbage Pail Kids trading cards?). The image of the teenage cutter looks like a macabre Halloween costume rather than anything realistic (I’ve seen it), but we don’t really know whether a mistake, an error in judgment, a misunderstanding, or a prank at the factory that went way over the line resulted in the image on the toy. I kind of hope so, because if it was intentional, that’s way worse.

But bad taste is the least of the problem. The toy and the reaction to it have introduced the subject of cutting to a wider audience, if they choose to look beyond the squick factor and think about what the image really means. Cutting is a reality that’s mostly hidden from view.

Of course, it’s not always cutting. Burning is popular too. But cutting is perhaps the most common name. There are websites devoted to it, some offering help, facts, and information on quitting (see below) – but others glorifying it as, I don’t know, a creative expression of teen angst or something.

The name does keep changing. The last I heard, the “approved” psychiatric term was “Non-Suicidal Self-Injury” (NSSI). Self-mutilation, deliberate self-harm, non-fatal self-harm, self-destructive acts, self-inflicted violence, parasuicide, and self-wounding are all names for the dangerous practice performed by desperate people. The subject still isn’t talked about much and carries a huge stigma. As if the mental and physical scars were not enough.

Some facts: Self-harm is not attempted suicide, though with some miscalculation it can lead to serious permanent injury or death. Most people associate it with teenage girls, but I’ve know at least one man in his 50s who cut himself fairly regularly. It is not a matter of attention-seeking, since most cutters hide their physical wounds.

As I understand it, the practice results from one of two phenomena: the build-up of painful pressure such as perfectionism, or a feeling of severe alienation to the point of numbness. Cutting is a coping mechanism, though a dangerous, dysfunctional, and unsuccessful one, to deal with pain.

In my case, it was probably the numbness. I was feeling a lot of psychological pain at the time (college age) and irrationally wondered if physical pain would lessen that, or increase it, or feel any different. Like I said, irrational. All this was before I was diagnosed bipolar, had a therapist, or was medicated.

I made a few small cuts on my wrist to watch the blood well up. (Ironically, they became mildly infected; I neglected to sterilize the knife.)

I wasn’t suicidal. They weren’t that kind of cuts. I do know the difference. (I didn’t realize that I could have damaged tendons or nerves in my hand or arm, perhaps permanently.) It was more like when you stand on a bridge or balcony and look over the edge. You walk away. But you know the bridge is always there.

All told, I cut myself maybe three or four times. The scars are very faint now, white against my pale inner wrist, almost invisible. The memories are vivid. A friend who’s a psychologist once asked me why I stopped. “Because I didn’t need to any more,” was the only answer I could give. I’ve only felt the urge once since, and it was easy enough to push aside. But I recognized it.

I hesitated to write and post this, though I knew I would have to sooner or later, if I meant this blog to share my experiences truthfully. One of my dearest friends once said that if he ever found out I was a cutter, I would never hear from him again. Except for his publicly mocking me for being so stupid.

Naturally, this sort of reaction, though common, is not helpful. I didn’t tell him (or practically anyone else). And I didn’t tell him that at least two other people he knew – one fairly intimately – were also cutters.

Anyway, Tom, if you’re reading this and still feel the same, I guess this is goodbye – just not the long goodbye. I would rather skip the public mocking, though. I’ll just assume you’ve done it while I wasn’t there, mm-kay?

Cutting isn’t going away if we ignore it. It won’t go away even if we do talk about it. (Or mock it, or gasp in horror.) But understanding self-injury is a big step.

If you’re a cutter, or know someone who is, here are some places you can go for information, hope, and help:


Bad and Good News

Today we got some new that can be taken either good or bad. My mother in law has decided not to purchase the house. I’m sad that she won’t be living next door but I am slightly relieved because I am not going to be stressing out over whether or not the dominoes will land perfectly for her to get the house and not lose the money she would put down at her contract signing.

I was just talking to my therapist yesterday about it and she said not to worry as it was not my fault if things didn’t work out. Yet it has been worrying at my brain since she started the whole she-bang. Needless to say I feel like an anvil has been lifted from my shoulders.

I feel bad that I feel relieved but honestly at some point I need to stop worrying and stop feeling bad and just be damned happy. I deserve to be happy.

This will make enjoying this celebratory weekend all that much better. Woot!


Beach Therapy

beach therapy

Walking on the beach, in the water, barefoot, is truly therapy for me.  It is helping me get over the fiasco of trying to get my damn Clozaril, which I finally did today.  Thank you Jeebus!  I am so relieved.  Now I can just relax and walk . . . and walk . . . and walk . . .


Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Beach Therapy, Bipolar, Clozaril, Hope, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader