Daily Archives: August 7, 2013


Stomach turning
Insides churning
My heart is burning
I feel guilt and shame
I am to blame
I’ve made decisions
I’ve come to false conclusions
I have delusions
My mind chose wrong
It won’t stop playing the same song
Can’t turn back time
No pressing rewind
It’s all in your mind
No one else cares
They don’t see the glares
You’re the only one who stares
Dwelling on problems
You’ll never solve them
We all make mistakes
They aren’t the highest of stakes
It’s okay to admit it
Just don’t get stuck with it

Wednesday’s Quote: Alyssa Reyans

“The doctor’s words made me understand what happened to me was a dark, evil, and shameful secret, and by association I too was dark, evil, and shameful. While it may not have been their intention, this was the message my clouded mind received. To escape the confines of the hospital, I once again disassociated myself from my emotions and numbed myself to the pain ravaging my body and mind. I acted as if nothing was wrong and went back to performing the necessary motions to get me from one day to the next. I existed but I did not live.”

Alyssa Reyans, Letters from a Bipolar Mother 


Is It, Is It Not?

I continue to mull over whether or not I am depressed. I’m in excellent spirits and am quite productive, but there’s a lot of other things standing out that say maybe. For example, no matter how well I sleep (and I sleep like the dead), I’m not feeling terribly rested. I’m mucking by well enough, but I’m not terribly pleased with the continued… well, not zombie-level, but just generally feeling fatigued. This can be attributed to other things as well though, so I certainly don’t consider it a definitive sign.

One of the positive side-effects of depression for me is that I find it easier to write. And writing has been coming fairly easily to me. I do my brain-dumping daily over at 750words.com, and I’m currently managing to exceed 1,500 words a day (one of the badge-earning challenges is to complete 50k in a month, so I’m gunning for that). I’ve been surprising myself especially because all of it this month has been almost straight brain dump; I’ve not had to fish out story prompts or ideas to fill up the gap. That especially jives with the possibility of it being depression — my brain tends to have all sorts of thought-and-feels flows when I’m ‘down’.

The one glowing indication to me, however, is socialization. I’ve not made it socially over to Google+ in well over a month (even though I love the people there). I am finding it very difficult to start conversations with my zero-spoon friends, and outside of that circle? Fuggedaboutit! Even really easy, low/no-stress emails are taking me days to respond to at best. I cringe in terror if I see a private message on Facebook, though I’ve still got enough willpower to force myself to see that, of course, it’s a nice polite conversational message from someone who wants to talk to me, not eviscerate me for existing. And, as one might surmise, that sort of feeds into the difficulty of finding inner resources to deal with other people — rapture (insert vast amounts of eye-rolling at self here).

Still, as said — it’s not that bad. My focus is almost passable. I’m getting things done. I’m enjoying my life. I just feel like it could still be a bit better. I think that I will ask my psychiatrist when I see him next month if we can bump my antidepressant up a notch. If a little is good, more must be better, right? Though having said that, I don’t seriously follow that philosophy when it comes to taking meds. There’s the part of me that ‘knows’ that some day the doses I’m on won’t be enough even if it’s just about stabilizing me out right now, and I don’t want to be up so high that the drugs cease to be effective. I look at my 400mg/day dose of Seroquel, and while I know some folks are on doses as high as 950 or 1,000mg/day, my brain quietly frets about what happens when even that doesn’t cut it anymore. I hope I won’t see that day for a very long time.

Anyhoos, back to le work grind, here in the lovely breeze blowing in off of my mother-in-law’s garden. I hope that everyone is doing well.


The post Is It, Is It Not? appeared first on The Scarlet B.

And it happened…

After all these years of being pretty much “symptom free” I hit the depression side of things. Oh my God, how it sucks. My husband got mad at me, and apparently, that is a trigger for me. All I could think about was how I could just down a bottle of pills and the pain would be over. Even thought about cutting. The thoughts consumed me. I stayed in bed for a good part of the day. Was very mopey. I can’t believe this is how I lived my life for so long.

I keep telling myself not to fall down into the abyss. But, let me tell you… I’m hanging on to a slippery rope that stretches across a deep chasm. And I’m afraid. Very afraid.

I Got Nothin’

Sometimes, I just draw a blank. I’m usually full of words, so full that they spill over everywhere and make …

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Breaking the Silence of Stigma: The Hero Who Lost the War

January, 1991.  Ba’athist Iraqis had invaded Kuwait.  Unprepared for invasion, the Kuwaitis fled helter-skelter, leaving everything behind.  The Iraqis occupied all strategic positions, including schools–and hospitals.

Hospital staff came under fire and were forced to flee.  Patients were abandoned, and those on life support were doomed.

And the babies in the newborn nurseries, the neonatal intensive care unit, were abandoned as well.  Unsubstantiated witness testimonies tell of babies being dumped out of incubators and left to die.  The stories are now discredited as part of a propaganda campaign, but there is one witness whose testimony was never revealed, because he operated under a thick cloak of secrecy.  He was the one who liberated the babies.

My friend, my comrade, my co-worker and partner pediatrician.  I cannot reveal his name, so I will call him Larry.

Larry joined the Air Force ROTC in high school, and continued in college.  He won an Air Force scholarship to medical school, and went on to complete his residency in pediatrics.  When the time came for him to enter active service, the war that was to become the Gulf War, including Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, was heating up.

Larry didn’t see much direct action at first, since he was stationed in Germany, caring for children at the military base and the occasional child war casualty airlifted for advanced pediatric care.

But in January and February of 1991, a Coalition of Western forces brought the mayhem to a halt.  And Larry was one of the first called to the front.

His mission:  to rescue the babies who were still alive in the hospital.

In the dead of night he clung to the helicopter’s rope line.  He dropped to his feet on the roof of the hospital.  Entering by way of the main air vent, he found his way to the nursery. He had memorized the layout of the hospital, and found the nursery in pitch dark.  He had to be quick in his triage assessment:  which babies would live without help, which would likely die no matter what was done for them, and which tiny lives could be saved if they were evacuated quickly.

Scooping up two babies at a time, he made his way back to the hovering helicopter basket.  He tugged twice on the rope, the signal to carefully raise the basket into the machine, where neonatal nurses waited, to immediately begin working on the babies while Larry went back for more.

He rescued more than ten babies before Iraqi soldiers discovered him, and he had to evacuate.  He never stopped crying for those he was forced to abandon.

The chopper, laden with precious cargo, flew back to its base. The babies were transferred to a fixed-wing aircraft and flown to Germany, where Larry took over their care.  Miraculously, all of them lived, and even more miraculously, most were reunited with their Kuwaiti parents after the war ended and Kuwaitis returned to their homes.

Larry’s tour of duty was over.  He was, of course, highly decorated for his acts of heroism.  And he returned home, to marry his high school sweetheart and adjust to civilian life.  Soon four children filled their house with welcome clamor.

I met Larry in 1996, when I took a job in the clinic where he was employed as a general pediatrician.  It was my great fortune to share a “pod” with him, as sub-sections of the huge pediatrics clinic were called.  We were pod-mates.  I loved working with Larry.  He was as humble as he was brilliant.  Whenever one of us had a perplexing case, we would call on the other to “think together”  until our united brains found a solution.  We were a great team.

One day Larry approached me as I sat at my desk writing up a chart.  His face looked pinched and worried.

“Laura, can you help me out?” he asked in a furtive whisper.  ”I’ve been feeling depressed.  Can you write me for some meds?”

I must admit that I was shocked.  Not that he would disclose that he was depressed; I suffered from bipolar illness myself, although no one at the clinic knew it. I had the feeling that it would be sudden death to my career to disclose that.  So I understood Larry’s dilemma.  But I could not stand in the place of a psychiatrist, and I was shocked that Larry, who never took risks with patients, would be taking such a risk with himself, asking a colleague to medicate him for depression.  I had my own shrink, although in another city, whom I paid out-of-pocket so that there would be no insurance records.  I was taken aback that he would ask me to do something so dangerous and unethical.  I knew he had to be in unbearable pain to do something that went completely against his grain, as a physician.

“Larry, you need to see a psychiatrist,” I whispered back.  ”I’m no substitute for a shrink.”

“Laura, please,” Larry begged, tears welling up.  ”Just enough to get me through, so I can make an appointment.  Please.  Things are bad at home.  I’m fucking up.  I have to start feeling better, or I’m going to lose my family.”

I couldn’t let him suffer like that.  After extracting a promise from him that he would see a psychiatrist within the week, I wrote him a script for an antidepressant.

As the week progressed, Larry’s mood seemed to lift.  He worked like a fiend, whistling as he shuttled between exam rooms.  I wondered if he had made his appointment.  He never told me.  I never asked.

It was my day off.  I was getting ready to go skiing, and just as I opened the door to leave the house the phone rang.

I didn’t like it.  The phone never rang at nine in the morning.  The kids?  My husband?  My parents?  What?

It was the clinic administrator.

“Laura, can you please come in?  Larry didn’t show up for work this morning.”

My heart hit my feet.

“OK, I’ll be right there.”  I put down the phone and numbly changed into my work clothes.  I drove the ten minutes to the clinic, heart pounding, sweating in the frozen Western winter.

When I arrived at the clinic, a police cruiser was waiting in the parking lot.

“Dr. L, can we speak with you for a minute?” asked the uniformed officer.

“Of course.”  I lead the way to the administrator’s office.  The administrator sat in his office chair, tanned skin drawn tight over his bony face.

“What’s this about, Dick?” I demanded of the administrator.

“It’s Larry,” he said.  ”His wife called in a missing person report last night when he didn’t come home from work.  He was found this morning in a motel.  He shot himself with his military .45.”  And Dick came as close as I ever saw him to crying.

“Dr. L., do you have any information that might help us understand why Larry would take his own life?” asked the officer.

I told him about Larry’s depression, and that he had asked me for help, and that I had written him for a week’s worth of medication on the condition that he seek psychiatric help.

“Thank you, Dr. L., that is very helpful,” said the officer respectfully, hat in hand.  I wondered if he was going to arrest me for giving Larry that script.  I felt bad.  Real bad.  But the clinic administrator reassured me, told me that I had done nothing wrong and could have done nothing to prevent what happened.

My dear friend Larry.  He was a true war hero, but he lost the war of mental illness.  For fear of being discovered.  For fear of being ostracized by his church.  For fear of losing his job and his family.  He lost it all.

And The Answer Is . . .

About a month ago I wrote a four-part series regarding a question that had been in the back of my mind for quite a while.  Every now and again it would work its way to the front of my mind, but I ignored it as best I could until it went back to its proper […]