I still do not have full use of the hand that was injured and some of my fingers are still unable to fully extend or grip, despite various visits to specialists and intensive physical therapy. In obtaining copies of my medical records from the hospital stay to take to another hand surgeon, I found that my BiPolar and anxiety disorder was prominently listed along with the description of my injuries by every single Dr I saw at the 2 hospitals I stayed at. “Patient was injured when blah blah blah and has a history of BiPolar and anxiety disorder,” “Patient is unable to ambulate blah blah blah fingers, blood culture reveals blah blah blah results and has a history of BiPolar and anxiety disorder,” “surgical evaluation at this time reveals blah blah blah and patient has a history of BiPolar and anxiety disorder,” etc etc etc. It’s not even as though my mental health disorders played a part in this, were a contributing factor in my treatment plan, or something that would have been evident to any hospital staff, aside from my truthful answers about health history and medications I take. I was calm, pleasant to all hospital staff and didn’t throw the fit I wanted to in response to the constant pain I was experiencing despite heavy narcotics.
It’s like a flag on my records, not listed along with my general health history along with my other health issues, but listed predominantly. A flag that says “this patient is BiPolar, watch out,” I didn’t sleep for almost 3 days due to the pain and I am grateful that a breakdown didn’t happen until I got home, when I was alone.
Every single day I work hard to keep my disorders in check, manage several different health issues, chronic spinal pain, go to work, do freelance work and maintain my household independently. I am also currently sick (some sort of flu-like plague) and have pressing things I need to complete both at home and with editing a shoot I managed to do a few days ago. Since my hand injury I’ve had to cancel or reschedule 3 shoots because I could not even hold my camera, which means a bigger financial hit as well. It’s a downward spiral affect and I’m so. Fucking. Tired. I’ve done all the self care I can and I need a break. Badly. Maybe even some help, which is hard for me to ask for but that’s another topic in and of itself.
I’m unable to crash and burn, there’s nowhere other than here for me to land. I don’t want this to be my reality…but it is…and I manage the best I can…all the while mentally flogging myself for not doing or being better.
Posted in Read Along
So the down cycle began.
Friday morning as I was getting ready for work I felt hot, angry, frustrated tears trying to spill over. Push down, push down, just move forward…get through the day. Smile. Laugh. Stay focused on the tasks at hand. Shake myself back into the present as my mind moves far away from me. Repeat. I am not present…There is a breakdown between what’s going on in my head and what’s coming out of my mouth. The day is glazed with anxiousness, a frustrating daze and set of new physical circumstances mixed with more pain. Each time I feel as though I cannot possibly carry or cope with one more thing, here comes another thing.
10 hours pass during my workday. Exhaustion.
I somehow come to find myself rocking back and forth on the crouch in full on ugly cry. Soul cry. Layer upon layer of details, how far reaching it all extends, how this affects that, I’m watching the domino affect happening before my eyes and my inability to do anything more about any of it drives me mad. It all pours out of me over the course of a couple of hours. Along with a few guttural sounds. Thankfully I live alone, aside from my pets. No one should witness an episode like this. Deeper exhaustion, yet I cannot sleep. I refilled my Ambien last week, half helped lull me into slumber.
Today I am flat, deflated, sort of suspended in just existing, choking down complete and total fed up. I also only have one operational hand since the injury, which makes the simplest things extremely difficult and some impossible.
I also missed an old friends funeral today, as I was previously committed to being a Bridesmaid for another friend. A 2 hour drive to the middle of a tiny country town and it turns out her directions to the church were wrong. Her cell reception is shot, this place isn’t on a GPS and after another hour of driving around trying to find it, I turn around and come home. There are just so many things wrong with this whole ordeal.
Posted in Read Along
I recently had a 3 day hospital stay, not related to any of the mental illnesses I live with, rather a nasty physical injury. It exploded into the beginnings of blood poisoning and I may end up having to have surgery in order to have functional use of one of my hands again. Fun times. Thus far, this major stressor hasn’t triggered anything outside of some spin spinning mentally about the financial repercussions and frustration at the addition of more chronic pain. It’s in line with what any non bipolar person would experience I think…However, if surgery is necessary, there will be a meltdown. I keep pushing those thoughts out of mind for now however.
I take various medications for my BPD, OCD, anxiety, ulcers, esophageal erosion, severe allergies, asthma, and for my spinal issues as well. I’m an 85 year old woman in terms of how many pills I take a day and keep a list of my current medications in my phone as any good bipolar person should. During those 3 days I handed my phone over to no less than 10 various healthcare providers for them to copy down or review the list. I absolutely LOATHE the switch in demeanor once it’s revealed to healthcare providers I am bipolar while going over my health health history. I swear some of them even begin speaking more slowly and at a higher volume, my credibility is suddenly questioned, I am a problematic patient when I advise a nurse she has my medications incorrect and spoken to like a 5 year old. The condescending nature is enough to send my brain into overload. I want to retort, “I have a well controlled mental illness, I am not deaf or mentally retarded. Bitch.” I don’t however, because how bipolar would that appear?
I hate the stigmas attached to mental illness.
Posted in Read Along
Where did I pick up that being a good person, doing the right thing even when no one is looking, trying make good choices and even at times, following my heart or inner voice, would equal a “good” life. Sesame Street? Church? Some new age book I’ve picked up along the way? Don’t most people, somewhere at the core believe this? Isn’t this some sort of belief that’s somehow pumped into the atmosphere for most of us?
It’s simply not that easy, or even true.
I adore hermiting. I need to hermit often actually. Recharge, mull things over, give my brain a rest, put things mentally where they need to go, disconnect and go on auto pilot, watch a film based on Karen Carpenters life where the majority of the portrayal is done by Barbies, not wear a bra, do all the domestic duties I don’t have time to do during the week, listen to various music and play mental Tetris with this or that. I could happily hermit for dayyyyyys. I had no freelance work lingering undone, no pressing errands and a post depressive episode, long work week, house to clean up. My spinal issues are a constant pain and I often get angry when I have things I need to get done and my back has other ideas. It’s difficult for me to “be kind to myself and accept my limitations” whether they be physical or mental. I believe those are fantastic things for others to do for themselves but I often end up feeling as though my various limitations yield me defective in some ways.
Typically, I work 10-12 hour shifts at my day job, as well as do my freelance work on my “days off”, evenings, or weekends. This doesn’t always allow for time to finish topics I want to cover, or really much of anything except squeezing in some downtime to decompress and maybe some laundry on a really productive day. My field is physically, mentally, emotionally and intellectually demanding. Combine that with painful spinal issues, regular insomnia and trying to keep my mental health in check and well, I’m exhausted.
So back to my mental healthcare clinic…
I can be in that waiting room anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. It’s busy, buzzing, often loud and I quietly observe while waiting for my name to be called. The atmosphere is thick and concentrated with varying degrees of mental illness and instability. A Police Officer is on location and sits in a small office overlooking the lobby. I cannot help but feel disassociated from all of this, like I’m waiting for myself outside the doors downstairs and I’m holding my breath until I’m back out into “the real world.”
At this point, my visits to see my shrink seem almost a formality to continue receiving my medications. Sometimes, we don’t even discuss medications outside of “everything’s the same.” He trusts me and I am honest with him. We’ve worked together to find the best cocktail of medications I can remain functional on over the years. I went through several Dr’s before I found one who would really work with me on not being over medicated, yet address the complexities of my particular set of symptoms, as well as medications I take for some other health issues. You don’t often find that in a clinic like mine. Blah blah blah we all know finding a good Dr and a good med cocktail can take years.
The pharmacy is there as well, in the same area as the lobby. Each time the Pharmacy Tech hands over a bag of 5 medications, just for my mental health issues, I wonder how in the fuck I do function sometimes… I can’t wait to get outside and get back into myself.
The hall of my mental health facility smells like a mix of powder, industrial strength cleaner and floor wax. Each step I take on that baby blue floor toward the elevator is a step further away from myself. By the time I reach the end of the hall where a print of Picasso’s “The Dreamer” hangs outside the elevator door, I’m somewhere else entirely. That same print hung in the Art room at my Junior High and High School. Looking at it makes my stomach drop, as though I’m an awkward and sometimes obnoxious 12 year old girl all over again. I prefer when I have the elevator ride upstairs alone but occasionally there’s someone else getting on who always seems to make comments about the weather. For years…it’s always about the weather.
I reach my floor, sign in and sit down to wait to see my shrink. It’s a people watchers paradise. There’s everyone from a Schizophrenic mumbling in the corner, a bus load of people from a homeless shelter, people discussing where they’re going after their appointment to sell their meds to score some crack, a mother and her children, a senior citizen who seems so confused and lonely, a middle age couple, a teen with their parent to whatever I would be classified as. The two things we all have in common is mental illness and a low income. Psychiatric care and medications in the U.S. is fucking expensive. I’m lucky enough to have gotten into an income based program for my medications about 14 years ago.
By the time I reach my seat, I’m almost completely disassociated from myself and always feel like I don’t belong there…but I do. My madness and episodes of internal stark raving lunacy are no different from theirs. I simply function differently on the outside and make some different choices for various reasons that really don’t matter.
To be continued…
I love a good documentary, even more so if it’s a topic about genetic mutations, disfigurements, uncommon mental states or a tabu topic. Tonight, after an 11 hour workday and a grocery store trip with the worst possible cart, complete with 2 malformed wheels, I settled in for some PBS. I cannot recall the name of the documentary but it was about people on the Autistic spectrum or with Aspergers. One thing in particular that struck me was that several people interviewed touched on how they didn’t want to be “fixed.” That they liked who they were and that they were tired of people trying to “fix” them.
I adore that for them.
I can and do embrace my eccentricities but I would give almost anything if someone or something could “fix” my brain. I accept me, I accept that living with bipolar, OCD and anxiety is a part of my make up, just like I accept having short fingers. It doesn’t define me and I work around it, I do all the things I need to do to be a functional human being but fuck what I wouldn’t give to be rid of some of the weight and difficulty those things can and do bring. I don’t like to admit it but I DO want to be fixed. I’ll take one “normally” functioning brain please.
*I am by no means saying that Autism and/or Aspergers is the same thing as BPD, OCD or anxiety.
Posted in Read Along
After the last week of very little sleep, I needed to intervene and break out the heavy sleep artillery. Remeron. Just half of one of these tiny pills holds the ability to render me completely somnolent and in an all encompassing brain fog for hours. I loathe the hangover…but not quite as much as I loathe collapsing with exhaustion. Lesser of two evils I suppose.
The Upside: Sleep. Glorious, lulled into a deep slumber, sleep through my Tarantino style dreams kind of sleep.
The Downside: I’m so fucking tired, hungover and emotionally flat.
Despite some elements that should have made today fantastic, I just sort of went through the motions in a half present fashion, all the while longing for a very long nap. I smiled, laughed, charmed and engaged in all the places I should, with people I genuinely enjoy, in one of my favorite places and even those elements weren’t enough to pull me fully into the present.
Sometimes I cannot find all my memories, other times I see the memories of what feels like someone else. Was it me? Was it her? How is it that we are the same when she feels so far away from me? I feel what she feels, know what she knows…but sometimes I simply cannot remember. The outlines are there, a vague sense of being there…
Posted in Read Along