Author Archives: lifeonaxis1

A follow up note

Last time I left off, I was suicidal.  Again.

Not as bad as the last time, but still pretty bad.

This time, I ended up going into the hospital.  A little “staycation”, as it were.  Not planned, of course.  I was just trying to do the intake interview for an Intensive Outpatient Program, which I could accept that I “needed”.  Then the lady told me she wouldn’t let me leave.

Sign the papers, or be committed by the state.

That’s a decision I hope not to have to make again.

My trip lasted about 4 days.  It was over a weekend, too, so I didn’t even get the full benefits of regular meetings and such.  Lots of drawing and coloring though.  A very, very expensive art class.

But, it changed things.  In a great way.  I learned that I was fighting depression, which was a problem.  But the bigger problem is that I was terrified of people.  I had no safe place, anywhere.  And without somewhere to feel safe, even if in my own head, I was spiraling out of control.  I lost my grip.

In the hospital, they have rules.  Boundaries.  Things I should have but don’t.  They’re imposed on everyone, and so they dictate the terms of the relationships you make.  I loved this.  At the time, I thought, if only I could figure out how to bring those rules out in the real world!  As I saw more and more of what that meant for interacting with others–that there would be no judgment and that you could be safe–I felt the weight lifted.  I felt like I could be myself, without being attacked, belittled, shamed, cussed at, or manipulated.  I was able to spend an entire day in the group room…with other people!  I had been almost certain that would never happen again.  I even felt playful at one time, which I hadn’t felt in so long.

It was a gift, this time in the hospital.  Because I saw that I needed to address the terror I felt about people.  I needed to build a safe place in myself, and work on creating the safe places outside, with others in order to sustain myself through the dark times.  This changed everything in how I approached healing.

I got out, and the next day I went to IOP.  I was still scared.  I couldn’t tell an emotion from a hole in the ground.  But I was headed in the right direction.  I was asking for help, which for whatever reason, is so hard for me to do.  I’ve been doing that, a little at time.

I’m still scared of people.  Still wary.  Still feel my heart race when someone gets too close.  But I keep reaching out, even if just a little.  Like my friend in the hospital told me: you give a little trust, and see what happens.  Not too much, like casting a fishing rod and winding it back just a bit to see what you get.

It’s a little odd.  It still feels pretty isolated sometimes, to always be on guard.  It’s safer though.  I’m more observant.  I’m looking out for myself.  I give a little trust, and if it’s respected, great!  If not, okay, I hold the line there.  More positive actions must be taken to advance!

It feels good to know that I’m doing this because I’m worth being respected, and that I have value as a person, and as a friend, which shouldn’t be pissed away or taken advantage of.  One of the great lessons in the last several months was examining how I treat other people, and how people I love and who love me, treat me.  And for whatever reason, I started using that as the barometer.  For example, I’d try and imagine someone I trusted deeply behaving a particular way (a behavior I wasn’t sure of or that caught my attention somewhere in the back of my mind), and then considered what I would think of them–and what they would presumably think of me–if they did that thing.  I started being able to see when the lines were being crossed.  Not only did I start seeing it, but I also started feeling it in a way that I could sense it in the moment and act on my feelings.  Somewhere a well is filling inside me, because I’ve been able to tap into it several times since then–to be in the moment, to approach a situation with a sense of confidence, of calm even.

It hasn’t stopped the utter terror I’ve felt in response to threats, which I’ve unfortunately received recently (it can come with the job).  I still had the panic attacks and my anxiety was spiked for days.  When it came to game time, though, I did tap into it.  It was there, somewhere.

I’m not perfect yet.  But it is so far from where I came.


A follow up note

Last time I left off, I was suicidal.  Again.

Not as bad as the last time, but still pretty bad.

This time, I ended up going into the hospital.  A little “staycation”, as it were.  Not planned, of course.  I was just trying to do the intake interview for an Intensive Outpatient Program, which I could accept that I “needed”.  Then the lady told me she wouldn’t let me leave.

Sign the papers, or be committed by the state.

That’s a decision I hope not to have to make again.

My trip lasted about 4 days.  It was over a weekend, too, so I didn’t even get the full benefits of regular meetings and such.  Lots of drawing and coloring though.  A very, very expensive art class.

But, it changed things.  In a great way.  I learned that I was fighting depression, which was a problem.  But the bigger problem is that I was terrified of people.  I had no safe place, anywhere.  And without somewhere to feel safe, even if in my own head, I was spiraling out of control.  I lost my grip.

In the hospital, they have rules.  Boundaries.  Things I should have but don’t.  They’re imposed on everyone, and so they dictate the terms of the relationships you make.  I loved this.  At the time, I thought, if only I could figure out how to bring those rules out in the real world!  As I saw more and more of what that meant for interacting with others–that there would be no judgment and that you could be safe–I felt the weight lifted.  I felt like I could be myself, without being attacked, belittled, shamed, cussed at, or manipulated.  I was able to spend an entire day in the group room…with other people!  I had been almost certain that would never happen again.  I even felt playful at one time, which I hadn’t felt in so long.

It was a gift, this time in the hospital.  Because I saw that I needed to address the terror I felt about people.  I needed to build a safe place in myself, and work on creating the safe places outside, with others in order to sustain myself through the dark times.  This changed everything in how I approached healing.

I got out, and the next day I went to IOP.  I was still scared.  I couldn’t tell an emotion from a hole in the ground.  But I was headed in the right direction.  I was asking for help, which for whatever reason, is so hard for me to do.  I’ve been doing that, a little at time.

I’m still scared of people.  Still wary.  Still feel my heart race when someone gets too close.  But I keep reaching out, even if just a little.  Like my friend in the hospital told me: you give a little trust, and see what happens.  Not too much, like casting a fishing rod and winding it back just a bit to see what you get.

It’s a little odd.  It still feels pretty isolated sometimes, to always be on guard.  It’s safer though.  I’m more observant.  I’m looking out for myself.  I give a little trust, and if it’s respected, great!  If not, okay, I hold the line there.  More positive actions must be taken to advance!

It feels good to know that I’m doing this because I’m worth being respected, and that I have value as a person, and as a friend, which shouldn’t be pissed away or taken advantage of.  One of the great lessons in the last several months was examining how I treat other people, and how people I love and who love me, treat me.  And for whatever reason, I started using that as the barometer.  For example, I’d try and imagine someone I trusted deeply behaving a particular way (a behavior I wasn’t sure of or that caught my attention somewhere in the back of my mind), and then considered what I would think of them–and what they would presumably think of me–if they did that thing.  I started being able to see when the lines were being crossed.  Not only did I start seeing it, but I also started feeling it in a way that I could sense it in the moment and act on my feelings.  Somewhere a well is filling inside me, because I’ve been able to tap into it several times since then–to be in the moment, to approach a situation with a sense of confidence, of calm even.

It hasn’t stopped the utter terror I’ve felt in response to threats, which I’ve unfortunately received recently (it can come with the job).  I still had the panic attacks and my anxiety was spiked for days.  When it came to game time, though, I did tap into it.  It was there, somewhere.

I’m not perfect yet.  But it is so far from where I came.


A follow up note

Last time I left off, I was suicidal.  Again.

Not as bad as the last time, but still pretty bad.

This time, I ended up going into the hospital.  A little “staycation”, as it were.  Not planned, of course.  I was just trying to do the intake interview for an Intensive Outpatient Program, which I could accept that I “needed”.  Then the lady told me she wouldn’t let me leave.

Sign the papers, or be committed by the state.

That’s a decision I hope not to have to make again.

My trip lasted about 4 days.  It was over a weekend, too, so I didn’t even get the full benefits of regular meetings and such.  Lots of drawing and coloring though.  A very, very expensive art class.

But, it changed things.  In a great way.  I learned that I was fighting depression, which was a problem.  But the bigger problem is that I was terrified of people.  I had no safe place, anywhere.  And without somewhere to feel safe, even if in my own head, I was spiraling out of control.  I lost my grip.

In the hospital, they have rules.  Boundaries.  Things I should have but don’t.  They’re imposed on everyone, and so they dictate the terms of the relationships you make.  I loved this.  At the time, I thought, if only I could figure out how to bring those rules out in the real world!  As I saw more and more of what that meant for interacting with others–that there would be no judgment and that you could be safe–I felt the weight lifted.  I felt like I could be myself, without being attacked, belittled, shamed, cussed at, or manipulated.  I was able to spend an entire day in the group room…with other people!  I had been almost certain that would never happen again.  I even felt playful at one time, which I hadn’t felt in so long.

It was a gift, this time in the hospital.  Because I saw that I needed to address the terror I felt about people.  I needed to build a safe place in myself, and work on creating the safe places outside, with others in order to sustain myself through the dark times.  This changed everything in how I approached healing.

I got out, and the next day I went to IOP.  I was still scared.  I couldn’t tell an emotion from a hole in the ground.  But I was headed in the right direction.  I was asking for help, which for whatever reason, is so hard for me to do.  I’ve been doing that, a little at time.

I’m still scared of people.  Still wary.  Still feel my heart race when someone gets too close.  But I keep reaching out, even if just a little.  Like my friend in the hospital told me: you give a little trust, and see what happens.  Not too much, like casting a fishing rod and winding it back just a bit to see what you get.

It’s a little odd.  It still feels pretty isolated sometimes, to always be on guard.  It’s safer though.  I’m more observant.  I’m looking out for myself.  I give a little trust, and if it’s respected, great!  If not, okay, I hold the line there.  More positive actions must be taken to advance!

It feels good to know that I’m doing this because I’m worth being respected, and that I have value as a person, and as a friend, which shouldn’t be pissed away or taken advantage of.  One of the great lessons in the last several months was examining how I treat other people, and how people I love and who love me, treat me.  And for whatever reason, I started using that as the barometer.  For example, I’d try and imagine someone I trusted deeply behaving a particular way (a behavior I wasn’t sure of or that caught my attention somewhere in the back of my mind), and then considered what I would think of them–and what they would presumably think of me–if they did that thing.  I started being able to see when the lines were being crossed.  Not only did I start seeing it, but I also started feeling it in a way that I could sense it in the moment and act on my feelings.  Somewhere a well is filling inside me, because I’ve been able to tap into it several times since then–to be in the moment, to approach a situation with a sense of confidence, of calm even.

It hasn’t stopped the utter terror I’ve felt in response to threats, which I’ve unfortunately received recently (it can come with the job).  I still had the panic attacks and my anxiety was spiked for days.  When it came to game time, though, I did tap into it.  It was there, somewhere.

I’m not perfect yet.  But it is so far from where I came.


A follow up note

Last time I left off, I was suicidal.  Again.

Not as bad as the last time, but still pretty bad.

This time, I ended up going into the hospital.  A little “staycation”, as it were.  Not planned, of course.  I was just trying to do the intake interview for an Intensive Outpatient Program, which I could accept that I “needed”.  Then the lady told me she wouldn’t let me leave.

Sign the papers, or be committed by the state.

That’s a decision I hope not to have to make again.

My trip lasted about 4 days.  It was over a weekend, too, so I didn’t even get the full benefits of regular meetings and such.  Lots of drawing and coloring though.  A very, very expensive art class.

But, it changed things.  In a great way.  I learned that I was fighting depression, which was a problem.  But the bigger problem is that I was terrified of people.  I had no safe place, anywhere.  And without somewhere to feel safe, even if in my own head, I was spiraling out of control.  I lost my grip.

In the hospital, they have rules.  Boundaries.  Things I should have but don’t.  They’re imposed on everyone, and so they dictate the terms of the relationships you make.  I loved this.  At the time, I thought, if only I could figure out how to bring those rules out in the real world!  As I saw more and more of what that meant for interacting with others–that there would be no judgment and that you could be safe–I felt the weight lifted.  I felt like I could be myself, without being attacked, belittled, shamed, cussed at, or manipulated.  I was able to spend an entire day in the group room…with other people!  I had been almost certain that would never happen again.  I even felt playful at one time, which I hadn’t felt in so long.

It was a gift, this time in the hospital.  Because I saw that I needed to address the terror I felt about people.  I needed to build a safe place in myself, and work on creating the safe places outside, with others in order to sustain myself through the dark times.  This changed everything in how I approached healing.

I got out, and the next day I went to IOP.  I was still scared.  I couldn’t tell an emotion from a hole in the ground.  But I was headed in the right direction.  I was asking for help, which for whatever reason, is so hard for me to do.  I’ve been doing that, a little at time.

I’m still scared of people.  Still wary.  Still feel my heart race when someone gets too close.  But I keep reaching out, even if just a little.  Like my friend in the hospital told me: you give a little trust, and see what happens.  Not too much, like casting a fishing rod and winding it back just a bit to see what you get.

It’s a little odd.  It still feels pretty isolated sometimes, to always be on guard.  It’s safer though.  I’m more observant.  I’m looking out for myself.  I give a little trust, and if it’s respected, great!  If not, okay, I hold the line there.  More positive actions must be taken to advance!

It feels good to know that I’m doing this because I’m worth being respected, and that I have value as a person, and as a friend, which shouldn’t be pissed away or taken advantage of.  One of the great lessons in the last several months was examining how I treat other people, and how people I love and who love me, treat me.  And for whatever reason, I started using that as the barometer.  For example, I’d try and imagine someone I trusted deeply behaving a particular way (a behavior I wasn’t sure of or that caught my attention somewhere in the back of my mind), and then considered what I would think of them–and what they would presumably think of me–if they did that thing.  I started being able to see when the lines were being crossed.  Not only did I start seeing it, but I also started feeling it in a way that I could sense it in the moment and act on my feelings.  Somewhere a well is filling inside me, because I’ve been able to tap into it several times since then–to be in the moment, to approach a situation with a sense of confidence, of calm even.

It hasn’t stopped the utter terror I’ve felt in response to threats, which I’ve unfortunately received recently (it can come with the job).  I still had the panic attacks and my anxiety was spiked for days.  When it came to game time, though, I did tap into it.  It was there, somewhere.

I’m not perfect yet.  But it is so far from where I came.


back to basics

Today, I went to the gym.  And for the first 75 minutes of my workout, I wanted to kill myself.  Although my muscles were working, I wasn’t there.  I recall feeling like one of those fungi-infected ants that were featured on Planet Earth.  My body knew what to do, so I let it do it’s thing while I plotted my own death.  It was no longer what my therapist called “passive suicidal ideation”.  I considered alternative means of doing it, if I would leave a note, and if I did, what it would say.  I eventually concluded I wouldn’t need a note, because fuck ’em.  I wondered how much dog food I should leave out before someone would eventually come check on me.  I thought about the people in my life that I actually valued, which I could count on one hand, and how many more I knew and were fairly sizable parts of my life in spite of not being particularly valuable.  Valuable might not be the right word…healthy, perhaps.  Point being that I was just not interested in life anymore.  It’s not a gift; at least, not for me it isn’t.

This is not atypical for me these days.  I wake up either with piercing anxiety or crushing depression.  Working out has been my only hope for a few hours of respite during the day, and I’ve been doing it every day for 45-120 minutes a day, depending on how bad my mood is.  I leave with a bit of internal peace, and a few too-short hours later, the bottom drops out again.  I did have two good-ish days last week, but then it was back to low-town.  My life, as I’ve told my therapist, is ruled by shame, the vicious bitch.

Somewhere around the 75 minute mark of today’s work out, the peace finally came.  I had almost walked out of the gym at the 25-minute mark, the 45-minute mark, the 55-minute mark, and the 75-minute mark.  I shudder to think of how I would feel now if I had.  In place of plans to off myself, I was making plans to live.  And not just to live, but to really take the bull by the horns and DO something about my shitty mood and my shitty life.  I guess my survival instinct could use a tune up, but it did eventually kick in.

I decided that today I would start learning how to take care of myself.  At the ripe-old age of 31, I needed to go back to basics, because I just did not have the slightest idea of how to do that.  I was practicing all the prescripted things they tell you to do when you’re depressed.  Exercise, eat well, get sleep, reach out.  The problem with that advice is that you need to be doing it ALL THE TIME, not just when you’re depressed.  Because basically, you’re just putting money in the bank for a rainy day.  Or it’s like a CD account, where you put money in but can’t access it for a while.  Meanwhile you feel like death would be a blessing.

I envisioned myself going through my DBT workbook, sprawling out in my office, sheets of paper all around me with diagrams and questions and events and processes.  I was going to keep investing and keep trying because I believed it would pay off, eventually.  If I could make it.  And besides, it wasn’t going to get any worse so I may as well try more strategies.  The shotgun approach to depression.

I got home and almost got myself into a Candy Crush tournament.  Not today, I thought.  I pulled up Amazon on my laptop and searched for a book my therapist recommended to me.  It uses a CBT approach and I’ve only been moderately impressed by that method so far, but I decided that, in combination with my DBT workbook, it couldn’t hurt.  While reading that page, I looked at the books that other customers also bought and opened a few more tabs with those.  In total, I ended up getting four new Kindle books.  I began to read.

It very quickly became evident that my whole goal after my last depression was wrong.  Back then, I had decided that I would not suffer anymore.  I was done with it, tired of it, and would do whatever I could to NOT. SUFFER. AGAIN.  I simply refused to suffer.

Cute, right?  This plan was fundamentally flawed from the start.

As I read, I feel like I’m starting to see things form in the ether.  Maybe.  It’s only day one and this particular leg of my journey is just a few hours old.

 

 


back to basics

Today, I went to the gym.  And for the first 75 minutes of my workout, I wanted to kill myself.  Although my muscles were working, I wasn’t there.  I recall feeling like one of those fungi-infected ants that were featured on Planet Earth.  My body knew what to do, so I let it do it’s thing while I plotted my own death.  It was no longer what my therapist called “passive suicidal ideation”.  I considered alternative means of doing it, if I would leave a note, and if I did, what it would say.  I eventually concluded I wouldn’t need a note, because fuck ’em.  I wondered how much dog food I should leave out before someone would eventually come check on me.  I thought about the people in my life that I actually valued, which I could count on one hand, and how many more I knew and were fairly sizable parts of my life in spite of not being particularly valuable.  Valuable might not be the right word…healthy, perhaps.  Point being that I was just not interested in life anymore.  It’s not a gift; at least, not for me it isn’t.

This is not atypical for me these days.  I wake up either with piercing anxiety or crushing depression.  Working out has been my only hope for a few hours of respite during the day, and I’ve been doing it every day for 45-120 minutes a day, depending on how bad my mood is.  I leave with a bit of internal peace, and a few too-short hours later, the bottom drops out again.  I did have two good-ish days last week, but then it was back to low-town.  My life, as I’ve told my therapist, is ruled by shame, the vicious bitch.

Somewhere around the 75 minute mark of today’s work out, the peace finally came.  I had almost walked out of the gym at the 25-minute mark, the 45-minute mark, the 55-minute mark, and the 75-minute mark.  I shudder to think of how I would feel now if I had.  In place of plans to off myself, I was making plans to live.  And not just to live, but to really take the bull by the horns and DO something about my shitty mood and my shitty life.  I guess my survival instinct could use a tune up, but it did eventually kick in.

I decided that today I would start learning how to take care of myself.  At the ripe-old age of 31, I needed to go back to basics, because I just did not have the slightest idea of how to do that.  I was practicing all the prescripted things they tell you to do when you’re depressed.  Exercise, eat well, get sleep, reach out.  The problem with that advice is that you need to be doing it ALL THE TIME, not just when you’re depressed.  Because basically, you’re just putting money in the bank for a rainy day.  Or it’s like a CD account, where you put money in but can’t access it for a while.  Meanwhile you feel like death would be a blessing.

I envisioned myself going through my DBT workbook, sprawling out in my office, sheets of paper all around me with diagrams and questions and events and processes.  I was going to keep investing and keep trying because I believed it would pay off, eventually.  If I could make it.  And besides, it wasn’t going to get any worse so I may as well try more strategies.  The shotgun approach to depression.

I got home and almost got myself into a Candy Crush tournament.  Not today, I thought.  I pulled up Amazon on my laptop and searched for a book my therapist recommended to me.  It uses a CBT approach and I’ve only been moderately impressed by that method so far, but I decided that, in combination with my DBT workbook, it couldn’t hurt.  While reading that page, I looked at the books that other customers also bought and opened a few more tabs with those.  In total, I ended up getting four new Kindle books.  I began to read.

It very quickly became evident that my whole goal after my last depression was wrong.  Back then, I had decided that I would not suffer anymore.  I was done with it, tired of it, and would do whatever I could to NOT. SUFFER. AGAIN.  I simply refused to suffer.

Cute, right?  This plan was fundamentally flawed from the start.

As I read, I feel like I’m starting to see things form in the ether.  Maybe.  It’s only day one and this particular leg of my journey is just a few hours old.

 

 


emotional terrorism

if you saw me right now, you wouldn’t notice much.  perhaps a little more furrow in my brow and a slight pursing of my lips.  i would lay my hands down in my lap so you wouldn’t notice the tremble.  you wouldn’t feel the spontaneous, uncontrollable muscular twitches on my scalp, or the painful tension in my jaw that occasionally prevents me from opening up my mouth.

click down.  click right.  release.

you also wouldn’t hear the earth-shattering, petrified scream of terror that occupies my mind several hours a day, or the urge to cry at all moments.  especially not the unsettling thoughts of peeling off my own skin and running as fast as i can, as far as i can, and never looking back.

run, run, run, run

in persistent flight mode, the slightest unexpected thing could send me over the edge, letting out the long, horrified shriek i’ve so far been able to contain, or reducing me into a crumpled pile on the floor, shuddering, crying.  the safest place is the paralysis stage, when limbs feel heavy and the mind goes to a strange, empty place that can’t quite be captured with words.  it’s a bit as if you found yourself in a heavy fog, floating.  no thoughts can enter that space.  just quiet.

shh

you look around.  you see things, knowing implicitly what they are, but not quite processing them in the way that you would normally.  it’s a mindless place, a place where autopilot helps you navigate space, where you can be among the natives, appearing normal but not quite able to understand what they are saying.  this is where your hypervigilance comes in handy.  without a single thought, just using body language and facial cues to know when to smile, laugh, or look serious.  you leave, not knowing what you talked about.  hearing words – some of them seem to make sense together – but your mind slipped away again so you lost track of the point.  nevermind.  no one noticed.

you know you have work to do.  meetings to attend.  a dissertation to complete.  this place won’t help you, so you do the things that are supposed to help.  you hold your worry stone.  go to therapy.  take your meds.  take a bath.  get exercise and plenty of nutrients.  reach out to friends in whatever meager way you can compel yourself to do it.  try to distract yourself with busy work or netflix.  yet you still wake up, heart racing, tears at the gate, tight chest. bracing yourself.

what awful, hateful, spiteful things might you hear today?  what of your person might be under fire?  what things you care about might be used against you?  is everyone safe?

it might be quiet for a while.  what does it mean?  is it finally over?  maybe the defenses begin to come down and you see the vast emotional wreckage, the blistering, bleeding sores that have been opened and reopened, and scrubbed with a wire brush, and you know you can’t take any more.  all the troops are down; you have nothing left.  just motions and time.  go through the motions until new resources are born to repair this mess.

airstrikes by text message.

you hoped too soon.  this isn’t over.  not by a long shot.

perhaps if you contort yourself, your emotions, your values, your beliefs, maybe you can twist yourself into a foxhole.  maybe, if you compartmentalize enough, and don’t think about all of the verbal, acidic spittle or the award-winning mind fucks, you can dodge the attacks.  walk the narrow line, else a reign of terror befalls you.

why won’t you leave?

you can’t.  it’s not compatible with your person.  you cannot, in good conscience, abandon your position.  too much is at stake.  i weather the attacks so the little ones don’t have to.  it’s too unstable right now.  just a little longer.

hope, pray even, that the treatment sticks.  hope it’s just enough to get by, to get everyone in the safety zone.  set up the fort, get contacts in order, build the safety net.

it’s the only way to be free.


the sound and the fury

i am so angry right now i feel like i could vomit.  i actually don’t know what to do with myself.  i’m just kind of sitting here, confounded.

it’s bittersweet really.

i don’t want to minimize the first part of this story just because i’m angry about the most recent event, so let me see if i can manage to articulate it coherently.

y’all who read this blog or even my “about me” page know that i was diagnosed bipolar II in may 2012.  it was traumatic, to say the least, and brought me to the brink of suicide on multiple occasions.  it has had far reaching effects on my well-being, my relationships with family and friends (and lovers), and professionally.  and still, over a year later, i reap the consequences as just this week people in my professional circle have made reference to “my problem”.

lucky for me (and i do mean lucky), for whatever reason, whether it be because i am a graduate student in psychology, or because i have an insatiable quest for knowledge, or because WHEN YOU ARE DIAGNOSED WITH A SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS YOU TAKE IT SERIOUSLY, i sought out a phd-level clinical psychologist who specialized in bipolar disorder.  of course, i went in for a second opinion, but it was probably a good idea anyway because i had no the fuck idea how to handle this diagnosis and it only made my depression even worse.  i literally lost my mind, and to this day i still experience the fallout from that serious short-circuit to my brain, where i could barely form sentences, let alone understand what the fuck anyone else was saying.  memory, gone.  ever seen memento?  yeah, that was me.

so i kept my end of the bargain.  i went, faithfully, to this woman, every week.  sometimes i really didn’t understand the purpose of our sessions but in hindsight i realize they were more about gathering data about me.  what am i like?  what are my behavioral tendencies?  how do i react to stress or challenges?  how do i react to great experiences?  what is the pattern of my mood fluctuations?  you can’t really figure all of that out in an hour session; it *requires* multiple observations over a long period of time.

this is much unlike the practice of she-who-shall-not-be-named, the evil cuntwad who diagnosed me within the first ten minutes of our first session.  we’ll get to her in a minute.

almost a year and a half has passed and i had actually forgotten (not really, more like…set aside) the fact that i was seeing a psychologist weekly to get a second opinion about my bipolar diagnosis.  then, when i returned from the great pacific northwest, after my aunt threatened my life and a bunch of other shit happened (yeah, i haven’t blogged about that yet), i was sitting in her office trying to figure out how to navigate the situation with my aunt and the rest of my family and it happened.  i don’t recall what immediately preceded this moment.  i only have the flash memory of what she said.

she said:

i don’t think you’re bipolar

and i heard it and i stopped and i said, what did you say?  i’d heard her, but i just wanted to hear it again.  to savor the moment, maybe, i don’t know.

i don’t think you’re bipolar

and this was just, like, too much for my brain to handle, so i didn’t follow up with anything.  i kind of just let that idea enter my brain and percolate a while because i could not fucking handle it in that moment.  so i missed maybe a beat, and kept talking about my aunt.

a few weeks have passed since this moment, and i can still barely look it in the face.  it may be shock, but when i think of it it’s like a flood of emotions and an absence of them at the same time.  i don’t really know how to describe it otherwise.  so i kind of downplayed it.  i took it as a working hypothesis, rather than fact.  simply that the evidence indicated that i was not bipolar.  there is no certainty.  and that’s been the only way i’ve been able to deal with it.

until this week.

this week, on three separate occasions, two individuals have mentioned “my problem” in passing.  as if it’s ha-ha, nudge-nudge, funny.  and maybe i was okay with that before.  maybe my response to those comments was permissive, or encouraging even.  but this week, they just made me fucking angry.  and as each one occurred, i became more and more angry, so that i was just operating with a general level of irritation about it.  my daydreams were usurped by imagining telling them off for making jokes about my being bipolar (because HELLO, I’m NOT now…as if they could know), and the furious fucking letters i would write to the campus psych services, the psychiatry ethics board, and hell, the a.p.fucking.a. about the evil cuntwhore witch doctor who both diagnosed me prematurely and then told me i was “immature” when i hadn’t told my advisor that i was diagnosed bipolar, leading to these comments in the fucking first place.

so that’s what i talked about in therapy today.  i was nearly brought to tears recounting the breadth and depth of damage done by this woman, recalling wanting to die, desperately, and the damage it caused to my relationships and myself.

and do you know what my motherfucking therapist told me?  i couldn’t fucking believe it.  she said:

i had another patient come in, who was diagnosed right away with bipolar.  the same woman who diagnosed you.

let’s just sit with that for a moment.

..

..

because this means a lot of things.

this means, 1) i was fucking vindicated, 2) there was reason to suspect that her diagnostic decisions were a pattern, 3) she is, as i suspected, a danger to others.

those are really the most important ones right now.  so yes, we have an n=2 (sample size of 2).  but that’s two who happened to end up going to the same psychologist to talk about it.  probabilistically, then, there are probably more.

and remember, i consider myself lucky – LUCKY – to have had the insight or drive or whatever the fuck it was to GO SEE ANOTHER PROFESSIONAL.  what about those who don’t!?

so now, i am sitting here, ready to vomit, because i’m angry on behalf of myself and terrified for others who might suffer the same fate, who might not, for whatever reason, seek alternative opinions or care and who will LIVE ON AS IF THEY HAVE A SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE.

and it is fucking DAMAGING folks!  Many of my readers know this implicitly because they or a loved one experiences it themselves.  MY PROFESSIONAL REPUTATION IS FOREVER CHANGED BECAUSE OF THIS.  MY FAITH IN MYSELF WAS COMPLETELY DEMOLISHED, DESTROYED, AND I WANTED TO DIE.  DESPERATELY.  FRIENDS AND FAMILY DISTANCED THEMSELVES AND I WAS ISOLATED AND ALONE.  somehow i survived.

BUT THE NEXT PERSON MIGHT NOT.

THIS IS NOT OKAY. 

so i ask you, mental health community, what can be done?  who can i report to?  where do i sent my letter of complaint?

HOW CAN I MAKE SURE THIS WOMAN NEVER HURTS ANOTHER PERSON AGAIN?

and if i can’t do that…

HOW CAN I MAKE SURE THIS PATTERN IS ON HER FUCKING RECORD?

so that maybe, just maybe, when the next person complains, they will have a second complaint – my complaint – on record to show that YES, this is indeed a pattern, and YES, this woman is not professional and possibly not ethical, and YES, she is a risk to others.

please tell me: what can i do?


the sound and the fury

i am so angry right now i feel like i could vomit.  i actually don’t know what to do with myself.  i’m just kind of sitting here, confounded.

it’s bittersweet really.

i don’t want to minimize the first part of this story just because i’m angry about the most recent event, so let me see if i can manage to articulate it coherently.

y’all who read this blog or even my “about me” page know that i was diagnosed bipolar II in may 2012.  it was traumatic, to say the least, and brought me to the brink of suicide on multiple occasions.  it has had far reaching effects on my well-being, my relationships with family and friends (and lovers), and professionally.  and still, over a year later, i reap the consequences as just this week people in my professional circle have made reference to “my problem”.

lucky for me (and i do mean lucky), for whatever reason, whether it be because i am a graduate student in psychology, or because i have an insatiable quest for knowledge, or because WHEN YOU ARE DIAGNOSED WITH A SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS YOU TAKE IT SERIOUSLY, i sought out a phd-level clinical psychologist who specialized in bipolar disorder.  of course, i went in for a second opinion, but it was probably a good idea anyway because i had no the fuck idea how to handle this diagnosis and it only made my depression even worse.  i literally lost my mind, and to this day i still experience the fallout from that serious short-circuit to my brain, where i could barely form sentences, let alone understand what the fuck anyone else was saying.  memory, gone.  ever seen memento?  yeah, that was me.

so i kept my end of the bargain.  i went, faithfully, to this woman, every week.  sometimes i really didn’t understand the purpose of our sessions but in hindsight i realize they were more about gathering data about me.  what am i like?  what are my behavioral tendencies?  how do i react to stress or challenges?  how do i react to great experiences?  what is the pattern of my mood fluctuations?  you can’t really figure all of that out in an hour session; it *requires* multiple observations over a long period of time.

this is much unlike the practice of she-who-shall-not-be-named, the evil cuntwad who diagnosed me within the first ten minutes of our first session.  we’ll get to her in a minute.

almost a year and a half has passed and i had actually forgotten (not really, more like…set aside) the fact that i was seeing a psychologist weekly to get a second opinion about my bipolar diagnosis.  then, when i returned from the great pacific northwest, after my aunt threatened my life and a bunch of other shit happened (yeah, i haven’t blogged about that yet), i was sitting in her office trying to figure out how to navigate the situation with my aunt and the rest of my family and it happened.  i don’t recall what immediately preceded this moment.  i only have the flash memory of what she said.

she said:

i don’t think you’re bipolar

and i heard it and i stopped and i said, what did you say?  i’d heard her, but i just wanted to hear it again.  to savor the moment, maybe, i don’t know.

i don’t think you’re bipolar

and this was just, like, too much for my brain to handle, so i didn’t follow up with anything.  i kind of just let that idea enter my brain and percolate a while because i could not fucking handle it in that moment.  so i missed maybe a beat, and kept talking about my aunt.

a few weeks have passed since this moment, and i can still barely look it in the face.  it may be shock, but when i think of it it’s like a flood of emotions and an absence of them at the same time.  i don’t really know how to describe it otherwise.  so i kind of downplayed it.  i took it as a working hypothesis, rather than fact.  simply that the evidence indicated that i was not bipolar.  there is no certainty.  and that’s been the only way i’ve been able to deal with it.

until this week.

this week, on three separate occasions, two individuals have mentioned “my problem” in passing.  as if it’s ha-ha, nudge-nudge, funny.  and maybe i was okay with that before.  maybe my response to those comments was permissive, or encouraging even.  but this week, they just made me fucking angry.  and as each one occurred, i became more and more angry, so that i was just operating with a general level of irritation about it.  my daydreams were usurped by imagining telling them off for making jokes about my being bipolar (because HELLO, I’m NOT now…as if they could know), and the furious fucking letters i would write to the campus psych services, the psychiatry ethics board, and hell, the a.p.fucking.a. about the evil cuntwhore witch doctor who both diagnosed me prematurely and then told me i was “immature” when i hadn’t told my advisor that i was diagnosed bipolar, leading to these comments in the fucking first place.

so that’s what i talked about in therapy today.  i was nearly brought to tears recounting the breadth and depth of damage done by this woman, recalling wanting to die, desperately, and the damage it caused to my relationships and myself.

and do you know what my motherfucking therapist told me?  i couldn’t fucking believe it.  she said:

i had another patient come in, who was diagnosed right away with bipolar.  the same woman who diagnosed you.

let’s just sit with that for a moment.

..

..

because this means a lot of things.

this means, 1) i was fucking vindicated, 2) there was reason to suspect that her diagnostic decisions were a pattern, 3) she is, as i suspected, a danger to others.

those are really the most important ones right now.  so yes, we have an n=2 (sample size of 2).  but that’s two who happened to end up going to the same psychologist to talk about it.  probabilistically, then, there are probably more.

and remember, i consider myself lucky – LUCKY – to have had the insight or drive or whatever the fuck it was to GO SEE ANOTHER PROFESSIONAL.  what about those who don’t!?

so now, i am sitting here, ready to vomit, because i’m angry on behalf of myself and terrified for others who might suffer the same fate, who might not, for whatever reason, seek alternative opinions or care and who will LIVE ON AS IF THEY HAVE A SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE.

and it is fucking DAMAGING folks!  Many of my readers know this implicitly because they or a loved one experiences it themselves.  MY PROFESSIONAL REPUTATION IS FOREVER CHANGED BECAUSE OF THIS.  MY FAITH IN MYSELF WAS COMPLETELY DEMOLISHED, DESTROYED, AND I WANTED TO DIE.  DESPERATELY.  FRIENDS AND FAMILY DISTANCED THEMSELVES AND I WAS ISOLATED AND ALONE.  somehow i survived.

BUT THE NEXT PERSON MIGHT NOT.

THIS IS NOT OKAY. 

so i ask you, mental health community, what can be done?  who can i report to?  where do i sent my letter of complaint?

HOW CAN I MAKE SURE THIS WOMAN NEVER HURTS ANOTHER PERSON AGAIN?

and if i can’t do that…

HOW CAN I MAKE SURE THIS PATTERN IS ON HER FUCKING RECORD?

so that maybe, just maybe, when the next person complains, they will have a second complaint – my complaint – on record to show that YES, this is indeed a pattern, and YES, this woman is not professional and possibly not ethical, and YES, she is a risk to others.

please tell me: what can i do?


kafkaesque

the next morning, my feelings had followed my behaviors and i felt okay.  besides, we were going to see old ruins, an activity of which i am a big fan, so i woke with excited anticipation.

the day began early.  we were to meet downstairs at 7am to get on the road because it was an hour and a half drive.  i should have known better by then, but i still felt frustrated when we didn’t leave until 9:30.

the feeling only grew when, after an hour and a half passed and we were still driving without an apparent destination, i realized we were lost.  the mexicans hadn’t prepared.  they hadn’t looked up directions, but just kind of proceeded on distant memories, driving in the general direction of the pyramids.  we stopped, asked for directions, and turned around several times.  two hours passed, and then three.  linda and i gave each other exasperated looks.  another day, wasted.

finally we arrived.  i let the frustration go, replaced by my earlier feelings of excited anticipation.  you could see pyramids in the distance, and we got to choose which one to visit first.  we chose the one with paintings still visible and parked.  getting out of the van, and not having to face teaching, the failed execution of my meticulously planned curriculum, or abused women was like a breath of fresh air.  everyone seemed released from the burden of the week’s activities.  my advisor was jolly even.

i borrowed thor’s camera and took to documenting our trip.  i took the liberty of occasionally walking away from the group to capture the ruins, climbing up pyramids or walking off the beaten path to get a new angle, or to take a detail shot of the construction.  we walked around for about two hours, in and out of pyramids, through cavernous rooms with stone carvings and painted walls.  those that had been preserved were spectacular in their rich colors and designs.  then thor asked if we were hungry at all, which, of course we were because it’d been a long morning and breakfast was at 7am.  he suggested stopping to eat somewhere quick, or getting a quick snack like ice cream and then continuing on to the next pyramid.

the mexicans had other ideas.

we loaded back into the van and drove around for 30 minutes, passing several restaurants.  i wasn’t sure what criteria they were using to make a decision, so i just waited to see.  finally we pulled into an empty restaurant.  not really a good sign, but they seemed to be okay with it.  we sat down.  i ordered a shot of tequila and another cocktail.  because fuck. yes.

the food came.  it was hit or miss.  then, a huge platter arrived with little bowls on it.  linda looked at it with disgust and pushed away her plate.  i wasn’t sure what the big deal was so i peered into the little bowls.

the little bowls were filled with insects.  some of them might have even been moving but i don’t really remember.

one of the mexicans took a tortilla and dumped a little pile of insects on it.  he might have added some lettuce and salsa.  then he rolled it up and took a huge bite.  my stomach turned.  i drank my tequila.

thor told me to try it.  i said no, but by the end of my *next* shot of tequila, i was ready.  there were three puny little insects in the bowl.  i picked out a medium sized one and put it on my tongue while thor took a picture.  linda scooted her chair away from me in revulsion.  i took the plunge and pulled my tongue into my mouth.  the little insect rolled around a little before i ground it in my teeth.  the shell disintegrated with a small crunch.  it tasted a little like barbequed chicken.  i smiled and put my arms in the victory position while thor took another picture.

by the time the meal had ended, it started to rain.  we tried to go to another pyramid but it had closed.  it was the end of the day already.  we’d spent 2 hours waiting and 3 hours driving to spend two hours at an actual pyramid and another 1 or 2 hours sitting at a restaurant.  we had to head back to our hotel.

the next day, we were to leave to our next mexican destination: hermosillo.  i was SO happy to be leaving mexico city, to leave the dirt, grime, dejection, pain, and frustration behind.  i teased linda, who for some unexplainable reason had chosen a flight that left at 6am, and would have to wake up at 3:30am to get to the airport.  meanwhile, i relaxed in PJs, packed in leisure and spent the evening watching netflix and playing candy crush.  we’d made it!  in hermosillo, we would be staying in a lovely hotel, with a pool and exercise room and good food.  the city was nice, clean, and relatively similar to where we lived in the states.  it was going to be a vacation, compared to the last week.  i fell asleep peacefully, ready to turn the page and escape mexico city.

little did i know…that mexico city wouldn’t let us go so easily…