Daily Archives: September 7, 2015

Am I brave enough to face the past?

I’ve never thought of myself as brave person.  I’m the type  who ducks and covers my face when someone throws me a football (or a set of keys).  I’m not fond of putting myself in dangerous situations… you’ll never find me posting a photo on Facebook of myself sky-diving and I shudder at the thought of getting surprise hot-air balloon ride tickets for my birthday.

I’m all for exploring new countries – but my idea of a fun holiday does not include bungee jumping, white-water rafting or eating snails, scorpians or other unidentified objects.

But something’s happened this week that has made me muster up all my bravery.

I’ve spoken before about the most horrific time of my life… being taken from my home in a police divvy-van eight days after the birth of my first baby and being locked up in the high-dependency unit of Maroondah Hospital’s psychiatric ward .

Many of you reading this will have endured similar things: the mistreatment at the hands of “carers”, the scariness of being in a mixed ward with mentally unstable men, the loneliness… desperately trying to get people to understand you, but being met with looks of fear or annoyance.

Which is why when the Head of Nursing at Maroondah’s psychiatric ward invited me this week to meet her in a fortnight for a tour of their new facilities, I found myself feeling the opposite of brave.

When I asked my ever-supportive husband if he’d come with me, he flatly refused.  I can’t say I blame him.  Instead of enjoying the first six weeks of our first baby’s life, we both endured a type of hell-on-earth which we wouldn’t wish on anyone.

While his wife was declared insane and committed to a locked ward, my husband juggled his shock of what had happened with the needs of a tiny newborn.  While most new mums struggle to get out of the house at all, my husband bundled up our baby son and brought him into a psych ward so I could have 30 precious minutes cuddling him.

When I finally came home, we were both so traumatised that we couldn’t stand to hear what the other had been through.  It took six months of counselling to finally accept what had happened and move on.  Still, for the past 8 years, my stomach has still felt sick whenever I’ve driven past the building where the psych ward is located.

So, why would I even consider going back?

Because I’ve now realised that unforgiveness and bitterness was only hurting one person… me.  I’ve made a conscious decision to forgive the staff in that ward for the way they treated me.

And to be honest, I’m also a tad curious.  The head nurse told me that things have improved “out of sight” since I was a patient there.  The ward now has a separate mood-disorders wing for women.  And she gushed in her email about the array of activities that patients can now take part in.

Part of me is skeptical that things have improved.  But I need to know that they have – because I couldn’t live with myself if others are still living in the hell-hole that I escaped.  When I left that ward, I promised to be the voice for those who couldn’t speak up for themselves.

And so, in two weeks, I’ll walk alone into the building that is the place where I lived through the most horrible moments of my life.  I’ll put one foot in front of the other – and I’ll smile and be courteous to the staff.  But I won’t be looking at the fancy new ward or plethora of activities to see if things have improved.  I’ll look into the eyes of the patients.

Mariska xx

Have you ever had to be brave – to face something or someone in your past?  Has the experience made you stronger?  Any tips for how to muster up bravery in situations like this?


Am I brave enough to face the past?

I’ve never thought of myself as brave person.  I’m the type  who ducks and covers my face when someone throws me a football (or a set of keys).  I’m not fond of putting myself in dangerous situations… you’ll never find me posting a photo on Facebook of myself sky-diving and I shudder at the thought of getting surprise hot-air balloon ride tickets for my birthday.

I’m all for exploring new countries – but my idea of a fun holiday does not include bungee jumping, white-water rafting or eating snails, scorpians or other unidentified objects.

But something’s happened this week that has made me muster up all my bravery.

I’ve spoken before about the most horrific time of my life… being taken from my home in a police divvy-van eight days after the birth of my first baby and being locked up in the high-dependency unit of Maroondah Hospital’s psychiatric ward .

Many of you reading this will have endured similar things: the mistreatment at the hands of “carers”, the scariness of being in a mixed ward with mentally unstable men, the loneliness… desperately trying to get people to understand you, but being met with looks of fear or annoyance.

Which is why when the Head of Nursing at Maroondah’s psychiatric ward invited me this week to meet her in a fortnight for a tour of their new facilities, I found myself feeling the opposite of brave.

When I asked my ever-supportive husband if he’d come with me, he flatly refused.  I can’t say I blame him.  Instead of enjoying the first six weeks of our first baby’s life, we both endured a type of hell-on-earth which we wouldn’t wish on anyone.

While his wife was declared insane and committed to a locked ward, my husband juggled his shock of what had happened with the needs of a tiny newborn.  While most new mums struggle to get out of the house at all, my husband bundled up our baby son and brought him into a psych ward so I could have 30 precious minutes cuddling him.

When I finally came home, we were both so traumatised that we couldn’t stand to hear what the other had been through.  It took six months of counselling to finally accept what had happened and move on.  Still, for the past 8 years, my stomach has still felt sick whenever I’ve driven past the building where the psych ward is located.

So, why would I even consider going back?

Because I’ve now realised that unforgiveness and bitterness was only hurting one person… me.  I’ve made a conscious decision to forgive the staff in that ward for the way they treated me.

And to be honest, I’m also a tad curious.  The head nurse told me that things have improved “out of sight” since I was a patient there.  The ward now has a separate mood-disorders wing for women.  And she gushed in her email about the array of activities that patients can now take part in.

Part of me is skeptical that things have improved.  But I need to know that they have – because I couldn’t live with myself if others are still living in the hell-hole that I escaped.  When I left that ward, I promised to be the voice for those who couldn’t speak up for themselves.

And so, in two weeks, I’ll walk alone into the building that is the place where I lived through the most horrible moments of my life.  I’ll put one foot in front of the other – and I’ll smile and be courteous to the staff.  But I won’t be looking at the fancy new ward or plethora of activities to see if things have improved.  I’ll look into the eyes of the patients.

Mariska xx

Have you ever had to be brave – to face something or someone in your past?  Has the experience made you stronger?  Any tips for how to muster up bravery in situations like this?


Losing My Buddy

Atina lies dying.  This morning she had a blast chasing her Kong.  Then she collapsed, exhausted from the effort of what was likely her last play session.

She spent the rest of the morning alternating between frenetic activity and exhausted collapse, with her head in my lap as I stroked her cool ears and told her it’s O.K., it’s O.K. to go.

Now she’s motionless on her bed.  Her breathing is irregular.  If she makes it till tomorrow I will be surprised.

Last night she got into bed with me–an unusual phenomenon–and we kissed and cuddled for hours, until I was exhausted and sent her to her own bed.  I woke at five.  She was sleeping in the driver’s seat of the van, same as always, same as Aress did when he was alive.

She jumped up when she saw that I was awake, same as always, and got in my way as I was trying to dress, just like she does every morning.  This morning I did not scold her, but snuggled her black head into my half-off pajamas.  I have known for a few days that it wouldn’t be long.

Yesterday I couldn’t believe, watching her fly after her frisbee, that her lab tests could possibly measure her life in days, maybe weeks, by miracles months.  Yes, her sides were heaving after just a few catches, but hey, she still had the want-to.

Today she’s been shitting her innards out.  The van smells vile.  I gave her a dose of Imodium, which has slowed things down enough so she can rest.  I’m cooking the rice with chicken broth, hopeful that she’ll rally; but to tell you the truth, I want her to die at home, not on the operating table surrounded by strangers.

Her surgery is scheduled for tomorrow.  If she’s still alive in the morning, I’ll cancel it.  They can look at her kidneys just as well at autopsy.

Yes, we will proceed with the autopsy.  I must stop the carnage in the place where I bought her.  I must save other dogs from being used as currency.  In that way, my beautiful girl will not have died in vain.


Suicide Prevention

Originally posted on TRASH DIARIES:
There have been many posts and reblogs about World Suicide Prevention Day (Sept. 10th) and I feel like an asshole for not participating. I will light the candle, I will say a little prayer, but there isn’t anything else for me to give. Raising awareness is awesome; suicide is still far…

Electrocortical therapy for motion sickness

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This would be wonderful for me, as I get motion sickness at the drop of a hat. Our friends have a lake house, with a pier that goes on to a floating platform, as soon as I step off the grounded pier, onto the floating part, I start feeling nauseous! I’m fine in the water, but floating piers, boats, and don’t even talk to me about roller coasters, just writing the word is making me feel light headed and nauseous… So this transcranial direct current stimulation application to suppress the vestibular system, which alleviates motion sickness, may well be a godsend to the likes of us. That just means a mild electrical shock will desensitize your balance system, which will then not interpret motion signals to cause motion sickness! This is much better than taking, for example, Dramamine, which knocks me out totally, so I don’t know if my motion sickness is really gone, or I just don’t feel it because I am,  ummm… unconscious! Sign me up please! And now I have to stop writing about this so my head can stop swimming! Seriously, someone make the room stop spinning!

http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2015/09/04/WNL.0000000000001989

Given a sufficiently provocative stimulus, almost everyone can be made motion sick, with approximately one-third experiencing significant symptoms on long bus trips, on ships, or in light aircraft.1–4 Current countermeasures are either behavioral or pharmacologic. Behavioral measures include habituation/desensitization treatment protocols5 as well as positioning the head in alignment with the direction of the gravito-inertial force and maintaining a stable horizontal reference frame.5 Pharmacologic measures include antimuscarinics, H1 antihistamines, and sympathomimetics, which all detrimentally impact upon cognitive function, rendering them inappropriate for occupational use.5 All current therapies are only partially effective. Since a functioning vestibular system is critical to the development of motion sickness,1 we proposed that suppressing vestibular activity could increase tolerance to nauseogenic motion stimuli. We previously showed that application of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), specifically unipolar cathodal stimulation over the left parietal cortex, results in suppression of the vestibular system.6 Herein, we assessed whether such suppression of vestibular activity using tDCS in normal controls may alleviate motion sickness.


I do feel slightly over medicated, under stimulated…

Sort of blah, sort of bored. Is this what normal feels like?

On loads of lithium, well actually on 900 mg one day and 600 mg the next day, so not loads, perhaps a bit of a hyperbole, yes, every now and then. Helps keep boredom at bay…

Wanted to go out dancing, but no one would go with me… There’s a band every Sunday, at a park a stone’s throw away from my house, people dance. I can hear the music playing, my feet eager and impatient to dance, but no partner… well if this is the worst problem I have then I can complain of nothing at all.

Nothing dramatic, sort of addicted to drama I think, are all people with mood disorders addicted to drama? Must have ups and downs or the steady, non fluctuating rhythm of life seems to get boring and then a boredom anxiety sets in, haha, damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Well, the dancing would have helped, I’m sure, moving my feet makes me happy, hence Zumba, hence dancing for 4 hours at weddings.

Very hot outside, have a bad case of allergies, the gym is closed today. So I’m going to exercise at home, inside, away from the ragweed allergens swirling outside.

Don’t have much to say, feel dull and bored. Time to reduce the lithium? At my own risk, but I do feel slightly over medicated, under stimulated… Time to call the doctor, oh never mind, I have an appointment with him soon.

Perhaps a cup of coffee!


Trying to Recover

I have had a bad case of GERD this past week and am just now starting to get it under control with diet and meds. I’ve been in a lot of pain and not able to sleep because of it.  Today I had to stay down for a while so that I wouldn’t throw up at some point.  I’m trying to control what I eat better and stay away from the cokes.  But that’s a bit of a whammy because I am so very sleepy from the meds.  And of course, no doctors were open today because of the holiday. So I don’t feel well and can’t figure out any more to do than what I’m doing,.

Bob and the girls are playing games this morning. We’re going to eat at a Southern-lunch place and then go grocery shopping Hopefully I can continue to feeling better.

Our pastor has been preaching about fulfilling the God-sixed dream God has for your life.  I feel tht mine has something to do with reaching out to people who suffer from mental illness and giving them hope for life.  I feel like I’m doing that through the blog and through the other work I’m doing, but I want to do more without getting swallowed up and not being able to take care of my other responsibilities.  I’m trying to get up the courage to start querying agents about my bipolar manuscript.  But I have such bad luck with that kind of thing. I want a really clear reading on who to send to and who will be sympathetic to it.  ANd wondering if I just need to wait until I take it to my professors and le them work it over for my thesis.   I just don’t’ know yet.


I don’t have Mommy or Daddy Issues

What? I really DON’T.

I have issues with people being assholes, blood relation be damned.

After struggling the last two weeks to put gas in the car, trying to get Abby to the vet, and my dad basically berating me for not working, for being lazy, for living in poverty thus forcing my kid to….And of course him not offering up a dime for gas to get her to school yet asking repeatedly what my plan was to get her there…

I found out last night that my sister went and cleaned house for him and stepmonster because she needed money for cat food and litter. They paid her sixty bucks.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Six days ago he was too broke to spring for a few day loan to give me gas money for hauling my kid to school.

But my sister, who works three home healthcare gigs (less than 40 hours a week but still $13.50 an hour), lives with my mom and her mother in law, both with a combined income of almost$5000 a month…and she needs money for cat food so he can pay her to clean his house. I don’t even know what the fuck this is, except it’s always been that way. I offered to work off any money loaned to me, I needed gas in the car and I wanted to get Abby to the vet. My sister blows $170 on a comforter but can’t feed her cats and she deserves the gig to earn money.

I’ve always seethed but ultimately let it pile onto the resentment list. This time, I’m not forgiving. He could have easily loaned me some money to get Abby seen a week ago. What a fucking prick. I guess it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see I’m not the golden child in my family. I am the family disappointment, the one who had good grades, was in advanced classes, the one who “had” a chance for a good future and career but I “blew it” time and again.

Not because I have bipolar disorder, nooo, mental illness is not real in my family. I’m just a lazy fuck up who at 42 still hasn’t gotten her shit together due to this flakiness. It’s totally my choice to hover between not having the will to live or thinking I am ten feet and bulletproof. It’s awesome.

I have tried to talk to my parents about this imbalance in the way they’ve always treated us. All I get is, “You’re just jealous of your sister!”

I am just short on patience for assholes. Period.

Aside from dealing with idgets called family…

I’ve reached this point where if I am not tearing up and accidentally calling one of the other cats Abby or Arsenic…I feel numb. Like my central nervous system was shot full of Novacaine. Which isn’t all bad. The anxiety has only spiked a couple of times all weekend. It will return with a vengeance tomorrow when we are back to the drop off/pick up school grind. That level of anxiety five days a week is going to be the death of me. I’m not dramatic, I just know my fortitude for such things hits a wall. Throw in all the money issues, the heat, and still DEALING WITH ASSHOLES…

It’s not pessimism or self fulfilling prophecy. It’s just hard learned from years of experience. I had my respite to grieve.

Today Spook is going to my mom’s. I need to make a stop for some household things thenI am coming home and…Meh. Fleh. (FUCKING LIFE IS HELL.) I did the mountain of dishes yesterday, washed and folded most of the laundry. I will finish up the clothes and do more vacuuming today. Beyond that…Maybe my voice can fully rest without Spook demanding I speak every five seconds to answer her thousands of questions. I am still croaky like a frog.

Speaking of vacuums…I took this one the other day when sis was taking my vac apart. Feet (Spook’s cat) has apparently decided riding broomsticks with witches is boring so he’s upgraded.

Feet vacuum ride


Finding the Positives

On Labor Day a year ago I was nearing the end of my third inpatient stay.  Anytime multiple people were being discharged at once, the activity therapist, Nikki, pulled out a “game” called Homeward Bound: a set of cards with questions designed to reflect on the experience of being in inpatient and prepare for rejoining […]

Freedom To/From

I have now officially survived my first summer break as the mother of two children… both of whom have been doing their darnedest the last couple of weeks to get on my last nerve. I can’t say going down to one during the day is going to make my life any easier, as that one is teething and clingy now that she’s realised she is her own person. Sigh? Sigh.

Still, I relish the bond I have developed with my youngest at this early stage. I didn’t have that with my eldest because oh hey, untreated/undiagnosed bipolar. Smallhausen (as my eldest likes to be called) was, to me, just a screaming crying pain in the ass lump that I felt absolutely no bond to. I couldn’t understand anything she was trying to communicate, and I certainly did not consider her snuggly. As I hold Litterlit bit close to me and feel the warmth of that bond at this early age, I am grateful to my eldest for helping me realise I needed that help, and that something was terribly wrong and had been for a long time. I’ve a wonderful bond with Smallhausen now, so it all worked out (and double hooray for actually enjoying the baby phase at least once).

I’ll be honest though — I’m not sure how I’ve survived the last two weeks. One of them required me to enforce a week-long punishment on Smallhausen for reprehensible behavior (tl;dr kids fight but damn don’t pick on the baby), and as said, Clingybabyitis. I’m better able to empathise and be mindful of what they need of me as their parent so I can give it to them than I used to be, but it doesn’t change the fact that I have bipolar and don’t have a lot to give at the best of times.  I’m not sure what sort of times these are counting as, if I’m honest. I’m still up or down enough that I have a slight whiff of insomnia about me. I’m starting to feel bored and annoyed by pursuits that I normally enjoy. I honestly have no idea if the Depakote is doing anything… maybe? It doesn’t seem to be doing anything negative, like making me nauseous or bald (knock on wood). But also, am I messing up taking it by putting it in my pillbox rather than leaving it in the blister pack? I have no idea, though one thing on Google suggests that I am messing it up — sigh again!

Ah well, at least I am now entering a tiny window where nobody needs me for anything, so I am going to celebrate by zoning out and drooling on my desk. Hope everyone out there is doing well.

<3