Daily Archives: January 22, 2017

22 of them

Time passing fast, almost the end of January.

I’ve been pretty much discharged by my psychiatrist as I’m seemingly one of her success stories; the meds appear to be working. The fluoxetine is clipping the extreme lows, with Quetiapine helping it out and of course clipping the highs as it does so. Poor overworked Q!

I returned to work at the end of last July, just before schoool broke up for the 6 week summer break. And I’m still there, having not missed a single day so far. That’s how stubborn, some would say how strong, I am. I’ve had a lifetime, middle-50 years, fighting, struggling, but ultimately winning.

It takes concentration, a continual fight, to exist. Yes, that’s what it comes down to: maintaining existence.

My enemy (well, part of the pack) is still that damned intrusive suicidal ideation that looks for any glitch in the system, any gap atomically small. And says “hey, do it! Why wouldn’t you?”

Why wouldn’t I.

And I’m in this war alone; single for almost 2 years. Almost friendless, alone. I was pretty much discharged by my psychiatrist at my latest appointment in the shadow of the New Year. Now I really am on my own. Me and my meds. Featuring battles such as “fat or mad” – I continue to put on weight despite my best efforts.

I don’t trust the meds; it would be extremely foolish to do so. Madness still breathes and creeps inside me. I still don’t sleep. I’m sedated much of the time, I’ve stopped writing (poetry, fiction). Meds and me, we’re like that chess game in “The Seventh Seal”.

 

 


Five Things Psychotherapy Has Done for Me

Why pay $250 an hour just to talk to someone?

That was my sister’s reaction when I said I was going to start seeing a therapist. This is my answer.

Mental health symbolWell, Lucy, while a psychiatrist doesn’t cost 5 cents anymore, therapy can be had for a lot less than $250. There are community mental health centers with sliding fee scales – which is what I was going to then. There is insurance, for now at least. I’ve even known psychotherapists who would accept less than their usual fee for long-time patients in temporarily dire straits.

And I’m not paying to talk to just “someone.” A therapist usually has at least an M.A., and sometimes a Ph.D. Psychiatrists have an M.D. or D.O. They have years of training, more years of experience, and colleagues they can consult if your problem is particularly challenging or out of their area of expertise. You can also find peer counselors, religious counselors, and proponents of every variety of therapy or treatment you can name, from neuro-linguistic programming to electroconvulsive therapy.

Now, as I reflect on my clueless sister, I’ve started thinking about all the things that therapy has done for me.

Diagnosis. When I first started going, back in the 80s, I could only afford one of those community mental health centers with the sliding fee scale. (At the time, I paid $5 per session.) There I was diagnosed with depression. The primary treatment they offered was “talk therapy,” but I had years and years of mental difficulties to talk about. Later, when I was seeing a psychiatrist, I was re-diagnosed with bipolar 2 and anxiety disorder. Suddenly, my past became a lot clearer, even if my present was still messed up.

Medication. There has been a lot of it over the years. I started, as so many did, with Prozac, which had a noticeable effect on my depression. It was like the difference between watching a black-and-white TV that got only one channel that showed only tampon commercials, compared to a wide-screen color TV that got hundreds of cable channels. The meds I’m on right now keep me functional, at least enough to make a living and be creative.

Perspective. When I first started going to my current therapist, the word I used most often to describe myself was “pathetic.” I no longer call myself that. Dr. B. helped me view parts of my past in a different light and helped me develop techniques and strategies to deal with the problems I was facing at the time. Now she keeps me on track, reminding me that I have the tools to cope with many of my recurring problems. And she reminds me how far I’ve come since my “pathetic” days.

Couples counseling. When we married, I was still smack in the middle of clinical depression. (My husband had problems too, but I don’t want to talk about them here, except to say that a codependent and a depressive living together can never decide where to go for lunch. And that was the least of our difficulties.) Several times since then, we have had to turn to counselors to work on problems related to sex, money, and just plain living and communicating together.

Group therapy. Actually, though I’ve attended group therapy a few times, what I’ve learned from it is that it’s not for me. I do appreciate the fact that it’s there if I should need or want it, and that my therapist can recommend a group if she or he is going to be away for a while. Perhaps I just haven’t found the right group yet, although the support communities I’ve found online may serve part of the same purpose.

In short, therapy has given me my life, my sanity, my coping skills, my emotional strength, and my creativity back. And I can definitely say that professional therapy has been worth more than 5 cents, or whatever insights my sister could have offered.

 


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: bipolar type 2, couples counseling, depression, group therapy, mental health, my experiences, psychotherapy, psychotropic drugs, support systems

Reminder

a-womans-place-is-in-the-resistance


Desperate to Forget

A smoke screen of virtue
Strangles her
As she pretends to be
Anyone
Other than herself
Staring through that rear view mirror
Clamoring to leave yesterday
Behind
As a matter of fact
All the yesterdays she can remember
Luckily the booze and pills
Helps just enough
Allowing moments to fade to black
Til she wakes
Full of regret
Only
To chase another tomorrow


Reblog – Meet and Greet: 1/21/17

Originally posted on Dream Big, Dream Often:
  It’s the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!!  Strap on your party shoes and join the fun!   Ok so here are the rules: Leave a link to your page or post in…

Magic Mountain In The Sky

The lights of Tucson glow behind the mountain, glowing a silhouette, casting an ominous glow across the clouds.  How can I not be enchanted?

At first I was not in love with this harsh desert landscape.  Everything is stark, hard-edged.  Everything has spines, or bites!  Life in the desert leaves a very fine margin for error.  Screw up once, and you easily lose your way in the maze of cacti and endless leguminous shrubs.  

Where is water?  

Mostly underground or locked inside plants that are stoutly defended by suits of spiny armor.

Where is food? 

All around you, locked inside plants that are stoutly defended.

Or running fast: jackrabbits, desert rats, lizards, snakes; you have only to gain access.  Good luck.

Watch out for things that bite or sting.  And everything bites or stings!  

The most terrifying sight in the desert is a dusty-looking cloud moving along 6 feet or so above the ground.  As you get closer, you perceive a low hum, almost a vibration.  

Turn around and leave, now!  It’s Africanized honeybees.  They’ll kill you faster than any rattlesnake or scorpion!

I inadvertent walked underneath a tree in which Africanized honey bees were swarming.  I perceived a sense of movement, then the hum of thousands of wings….I held my breath, striving not to give off fear pheromones.  I’ve seen a person get swarmed by honeybees.  She was allergic, and saw one bee and freaked out. Suddenly the whole hive was on her!  So I tiptoed out from under that tree, trying not to tiptoe…

Having been kind of cornered in Tucson by bad weather everywhere else, I’ve had time to get to know this inhospitable environment.  I’m awed by its stark beauty.  It’s harder to photograph than many places I’ve been, perhaps because of the monotonous miles of….cactus. And shrubs in the legume family.

Sometimes Mother Nature smiles and puts on a light show behind the Magic Mountain, bending the light from the city and bouncing it off the clouds.


Still Another Trip Around the Sun

My 58th birthday has come and gone, and it was a good day despite missing Will acutely. I got to go out to dinner with the family, and they made me a cake that they didn’t set on fire this time. I heard from all of my kids as well as my sister, who calls precisely at 10:27 AM every year because that’s the time I was born. I love that; my mother used to do the same thing until she passed away, then Louise took over where she left off. It’s tradition, which means more to me the older I get.

Birthdays always lead me to indulge in another tradition, and that is my annual reflection on how the past year went and what I’ve learned during my latest trip around the sun. Obviously, Will’s death has taught me a good deal about becoming more self-sufficient—I’ve re-learned how to do laundry, cook for myself and the family, and so on. But the biggest surprise is discovering that I can be brave, and carry on with life despite a grief that permeates every aspect of my existence.

I remember when I turned 50, how I thought I’d finally “arrived”. I held the key to the meaning of life, and I walked around dispensing what I believed to be superior advice gleaned from a half-century of living. Now that 60 is on the horizon, however, the only thing I know is what I don’t know; I have more questions than answers. Like, what IS the meaning of life, and why do we humans have to suffer catastrophic losses? Is there some reward for slogging through it? And if we do manage to get past the worst of it, will we really see our loved ones again someday?

I want reassurance that Will is OK. That he’s somehow able to watch over me, and that he misses me like I miss him. On the other hand, I don’t want him to be sad, I want him to be supremely happy with God and our little girl. If what I believe about the afterlife is true, I needn’t worry, but there’s always that nagging feeling that it’s not possible for someone to be in two places at once. How can Will be in Heaven and yet here with me in spirit?

These are the questions that keep me up at night. Although I’m better than I was a couple of weeks ago when I was having something of a mixed episode, my sleep is still erratic and I can’t seem to get to bed before one or two AM. Last night I was up until about 3. I make up for it in the mornings, but staying in bed till 10 or 11 isn’t good either, even though I have absolutely nothing to get up for. I’ve never been a morning person anyway so I don’t feel too bad about sleeping late, but I know I’m supposed to feel bad because my sleep pattern doesn’t conform to society’s. Why?

Well, I’ve strayed pretty far away from the original topic, which is my birthday and what has taken place since the last one. Suffice it to say that I no longer believe I know everything, like I did when I was a newly-minted 50-year-old. Now I’m just a sadder and—in some ways—wiser version of that woman. But I’ll never again think I’ve got life by the balls, because I don’t. No one does.