Daily Archives: February 1, 2014

The Silent Story of My Room

From the WordPress.com – 365 Days of Writing Prompts: “January 13 Clean slate Explore the room you’re in as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Pretend you know nothing. What do you see? Who is the person who lives there?” (Yes, this is an old prompt, but it inspired me, so I’m using […]

Erika’s Story

It’s time for another great interview! Today I have the privilege of introducing you to Erika.

Erika: I am a  47 year old Australian woman, with a BA (Hons) in Australian Prehistory, have worked since graduating in 1988, now a senior system technician in IT. Avid reader across a wide range of material, committed bibliophile, love food, my dogs, gardening. Married to another street machiner. Tattooed, fascinated by architecture, buildings, history, associated ephemera. Suicidal depressive, slightly obsessive, with a side dose of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

When were you diagnosed? Was there a specific incident/incidences that made you realise you needed help?  

There have been  members on both sides of my family that have had mental illness or suicide, so if there is a genetic predisposition, I have it.  First time round I was a suicidal 18 year old, who had overdosed on pain killers. That lasted several years, no medication, just a psychiatrist.  Good friends, the intellectual freedom of university and a determination not to be committed to an institution saw me through.  Depression visited intermittently the next decade, along with glandular fever and workaholic behaviour. IT is nuts, once you start working at certain levels.  It’s fascinating, it changes rapidly, it’s immersive. I did way too many hours and didn’t notice.  Then we got a really awful boss, a true sociopath, and he targeted me. I crashed, big time.  I’d had a breakdown from overwork about ten years prior, where I couldn’t stop crying one day and then  basically slept for three months. I have no idea how I got through them, or how I fed my animals, but I did.  So the boss from hell.  I lost it at work, I couldn’t do simple things without getting flustered and crying.  That is NOT my standard behaviour. I started drawing blood with my nails, because it gave the pain a physical presence and that was the big warning bell.  Plus wanting to drive fast into big solid objects. The responsibility for my animals stopped me, more than anything else, although there was also a measure of wanting to not make anyone clean up my corpse (which apparently is why women tend to opt for less violent methods of suicide).

How do you respond when/if people claim CFS is a “made up disease”?

Wave the official protocols for recognising it at them and point them to the various web sites.  Is diabetes a made up disease because you can’t see it the way you can see a broken leg?  Really, I don’t have time or energy to try and convince anyone who thinks it isn’t real.  This is a multi-system disorder that ravages your life. But because so little is known and there is so much variation, there is no definitive test and no silver bullet solution.  What works for one person may not work for another.  It often hits people like me, who work hard, don’t turn off, then get an infection and suddenly find they have no reserves and quite a few of their body systems are no longer working as expected….

What stay well strategies do you employ in my daily life?

I work a six hour day, mostly from home. Noise is tiring, having to filter it out and try and concentrate is hard, so I go into the office only one day a week. I’ve had to learn to ask my husband for help with the garden, to learn to pace myself with everything, to let go some of my household standards (the floor is the big one, particularly with dog hair, however I can let it wait now). I have trouble with my memory, so I write lists of what has to be done. So today was get some groceries, renew meds, cook pumpkin for the bullmastiff.  She has bad hips, so we have to keep her weight down, and she gets lots of fruit and vegetables to help with that. I take vitamins, minerals and a decoction from the naturopath. CFS tends to mean that your body doesn’t fully absorb nutrients, so that means mega doses. I have morning, lunch time and supper time tablets. I’ve eaten predominantly organic and unprocessed for a long time, and that has probably made a big difference to how well I am compared to some other CFS sufferers.

When I’m tired, I rest.  I’ve a mat under my desk at work…. But normally my husband will come home from work and find me asleep on the couch.  I must have some still time each day, outside of doing chores, outside of resting.  Days that I get some meditation time are generally easier.

I take my anti-depressants, only one coffee per day (but it’s a proper espresso!), no alcohol. I eat sensibly. When I can, a small walk with one of the dogs or a little time in the garden. Regular sessions with a great psychologist.

And my dogs.  Just the sound of snoring dogs is peaceful, and one of them is always nearby and touching me.

Summary: meds, supplements, pacing, still time, resting, the dogs, eating healthy.

In what ways is the CFS more difficult than the depression?

  With depression, the medication has side-effects, but I still had a fairly normal life.  Worked fulltime and overtime, had friends and a social life, a great garden, walked my dogs every day, could read intelligently, edited a dog club journal, worked on my car, visited galleries, could talk to people.  Depression, unmedicated, stopped me talking to people, stopped me socialising, dropped a grey fog over me and at the same time, exposed all nerve endings so they were raw to the world, but it didn’t stop me doing other things.  CFS means I am unable to do so much that I used to. Because I’m tired, my concentration is shot, it’s tiring being with people, even if I’m sitting in the background.  We had family over for breakfast on Christmas day (3 defined hours), and over a month later, I’m still recovering from it.  It’s tiring having conversations in real life. You truly realise just how much energy is used doing day to day stuff that would otherwise be automatic. Pretty much everything requires conscious thought and effort.  And that includes deciding what I won’t do each day because I’ve only got so much energy.

Additionally, research your conditions. You’re the expert in your life, it helps you recognise what is you and what is the illness.  And you may just find keys which help you manage things better.

I’d like to thank Erika for her honesty and giving us a look at what her life is like. The easiest way to defeat stigma is through sharing knowledge and increasing understanding and Erika’s story is amazing and I think we can all identify with her on some level.

Filed under: Wellness Warriors Tagged: CFS, depression, medications, meditation, therapy

Books That Inspire: NIKKI SIXX’s Heroin Diaries: A Year In the Life of A Shattered Rockstar

I don’t know why I looked this book up. On the news, they said that  once this tour was over, Mötley Crüe was going to end it. Then someone said that Nikki Sixx actually died (which I didn’t know), and then I looked him up and found out that he wrote a book based on his diary he kept in the 80s. I got intrigued.

So, I looked online for the PDF and found it:


I found that it’s actually really good, and it dives right into his addiction and pain. It made me feel the same way I did when I was smoking. I wanted to stop, but couldn’t because I felt like I needed it. I felt like nothing without it. It also talks about VANITY, and I loved some vanity…(now she doesn’t go by vanity, and turned into an Evangelist)

If you need a good read about the effects of drugs, read this.

If you’re trying to stop doing drugs, read this.

If your thinking about starting drugs, read this.

Now, Nikki Sixx is clean, but just think what would have happened if he didn’t stop. This book would not be here, and a tour would have been looong gone.

Drugs sucks.

Filed under: Books, Celebrities, depressed, Drugs, Links

Support Systems are for Blogs only. Right??

Last night we went over friends’ house, and well, I felt…kind of pressured.

I felt pressured because my friends are drinkers and smokers, and they don’t understand why I stopped. It got so bad that even my husband, who KNOWS why I had to quit, questioned me. They questioned if I was going to drink when one of my friend’s birthday party came up this month. I told them no. They seemed really let down, like I’m not fun without being F&^ked up. My husband then said I could drink wine..


Now..I know that our friendship in the beginning was based on the fact that I partied with them, but things changed. I’ve changed. It sucks to think that my friends don’t see why its not good to always get high or drink.  It sucks to think my husband switches up when he goes over there with them. We were suppose to be doing this together, a sort of check and balances thing, you know…

I love my friends and will always try to connect with them on whatever level I can, but now that I’m straight-edge and don’t do those things anymore, its lonely. I want to be healthier, happier, mental stable, and I can not do that on drugs and alcohol. Shit,  one beer on these meds make me have the biggest headache that lasts for TWO DAYS.

I don’t want to lose my friends, but I don’t know how to make them see..

ALSO, I don’t want to make them feel like I’m judging them for doing those things..but I kind of am. Is that wrong? Yes, yes it is, but how can I help it when one of them told me they were going to quit, and the other is my husband who conked out on me..

I don’t have a good support team in my life outside of the blogging world, and you know what..I’m okay with that. Not everyone needs to support me other than myself.

Filed under: Drugs, Ranting, Spouses

Silver Threads Among the Gold

…..and brown, and black. Hair, I mean.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with my hair. I grew up curly in a straight-haired world, and have spent most of the last four decades trying to create the look of my young dreams. Every now and again, I let my son-in-law blow it dry and flat-iron it so I get a glimpse of the silky-tressed girl I never was, but for the most part I just wear it long and otherwise allow it to do as it pleases.

Now that I’ve basically made peace with my unruly locks, of course, there’s another problem: the skunky streak in the middle. Morticia Addams has got nothing on me. While I make no secret of the fact that I color and highlight my hair, it grows so fast that you can practically hear it. I just had it done about six weeks ago, and there’s already about an inch of grow-out that’s at least 75% gray.

I can’t win. Sometimes I think about simply letting go and allowing the sands of time to have their way with my hair; color and highlights are expensive, and I AM fifty-five……who the hell am I kidding? It’s a pretty gray—silver, to be more precise—and there would be no shame in going salt-and-pepper.


I am just. not. ready. to be old. I want the privileges of age, but I don’t want to feel it and I sure as hell don’t want to look it. I suppose that makes me somewhat vain (I still wear makeup for the same reason) but it is what it is, and I can tell you one good thing about getting older: you no longer have the duty to give two shits about what other people think. There are no rules anymore—I can wear my hair in braids till I’m eighty if I want to. It doesn’t matter that I’m no longer an apple-cheeked teenager; I can put on blue eyeshadow and bronze blush if I choose, and I can even go out in public like that (although it happens only when I’m really manic).

The only thing I don’t seem to be able to do is leave the house in pajamas. Maybe that IS a generational thing, but seriously, I don’t even go out the front door in my warm woolies. The one time I’ve done so since kindergarten was when I had pneumonia a few years ago, and I went to the doctor without even putting on a bra. And I didn’t care.

Now that isn’t just being ill, it’s having one foot in the grave and a pine box at bedside! Of course I got over it eventually, and my dignity returned along with my normal state of good physical health; but I think it did push up the time when I would be OK going out in public without mascara. I don’t go to work looking like the wrath of God, but running down to the grocery store for a couple gallons of milk does NOT require eyeliner and lipstick.

But I’ve just gotta do something with this hair……






The Lack of Wisdom of Psych Professionals

Friends have been seeing their shrinks and talking about how it went. It did not go all that well for them, which resonates with me, as it’s how I always feel. Doctors swear to first do no harm. Yet most of these doctors treating psych illness do more harm than good sometimes and I find it deeply offensive.

Also offensive to me is the party line: “Medication alone won’t help you, you need THERAPY too.”

Once upon a time, I believed in therapy above all else, especially the meds, since I had the wrong diagnosis thus wrong meds and it didn’t help at all. Of course, I had an amazing therapist at that time. My appointments with him were cathartic, even at my psychological worst. Because he didn’t condescend and psychobabble and pressure and make everything so much worse.

After he left, I had counselors who were nice but none who really helped. They were busy meeting their handy dandy DSM diagnostic bullshit which leaves no room for an individual. And when your therapist is not someone you trust or want to confide in, when in fact, you are in an altered mental state and view them as a threat (logic doesn’t apply to mental illness, you’d think the professionals would get that.)…

I really wish they pros would explain to me how to work with someone my brain is telling me is out to besmirch me and violate my confidentiality. “Get over it,it’s not the truth” simply isn’t good enough. They want me to cooperate and get this “:help” they say I need then I should think be humored to the extent of being counseled by someone who doesn;t feed my paranoid delusions.

Just had to vent that, I’ve been going crazy all day thinking about it. I may not believe in therapy but I was fine til they gave me a counselor I don’t trust and my brain started sending out the paranoid thought brigade. I’m ill, not unwilling to help myself. Though no amount of therapy will help,at all, if my brain chemicals cannot be medicinally swayed back to the sane side of the scale.

Today’s been ass trash. Just…Trazadone hangovers suck, tis why I so rarely take it. I spent two hours after putting my kid on the bus waiting for the phone to ring and then to tell me in my sleeping pill induced stupor I sent her out without pants on or some shit. When I started feeling more lucid, then my mood was just low and without motivation. Same shit,different day.

But I’ve been through this so much, so many times…I know if I can hold onto til the cold weather starts to lift, I should be able to spring back. Though all the paranoia and distorted thought has me concerned, those things were not facets of my illnesses prior to my daughter’s birth. I’d love to discuss it with my shrink but she only allots me six minutes on a TV screen and barely speaks English so not likely gonna get a chance for a heart to heart. Ass trash.

How is anyone with a mental illness supposed to get better when the shrinks allot five to ten mins for medication management, and the “holy grail of therapy” is generally fifty minutes once a month? This is how it has always been for me. They spend all this time telling me the plethora of disorders I have that need counseled and fixed but they see you once a month and are pretty much useless. I’m all for helping myself but If I am as screwed up as they say, then I’m gonna need more fucking help than once a month. Yet it doesn’t work that way if you;re poor.

So I am apparently stuck being a bucket of crazy.

I wish I’d never ever gotten involved with the counselor or psychiatric world 20 years ago.

I had way more self esteem when people just thought I was weird and quirky as opposed to batshit crazy.

Yeah,I know I make no sense, I can’t stay on topic, and I have the attention span of an ADHD meth using bunny.

I’;m quirky that way.

Fitness Fridays #1 – Fitness Blog & Motivation!

My weekly workouts and fitness motivation!…

Slow Down Now

Literally, I get to slow down now.  It’s Friday Night, the beginning of Shabbat.  I should be sitting at the dinner table singing with friends and family till midnight, not sitting out here in the middle of nowhere by myself, writing.  Well, this is my Shabbat celebration: to get to slow down enough to pick up my computer and do what I haven’t had time to do for the past eleven days: write.  I love to write.

Where to start?  I guess I could try to start where I left off: leaving Dad at the nursing home.  That was weird.  It’s even weirder because it’s actually happening.  It’s not, like, he went in there to get all fixed up and then came beaming out the front door, looking years younger, with a spring in his step.  No.

I go in there, trying to give everyone I meet on the way to his room a cheerful smile.  Smile, and the world smiles with you.  I see his room number: 110.  I know that’s where he and his sweet-tempered roommate will be.  I make the left turn into the room.  Lyle, the roommate, smiles and waves.  He beams when he sees that I have brought Noga the Lhasa Apso, who has appointed herself official therapy dog at the nursing home.

Dad is in bed, on his side, with his head and one arm hanging over the side.  His belly, black and blue spotted with the jabs of insulin needles, puffs out feebly from the gap between his shirt and his pants.  I pull his shirt down.  He opens one eye, not at all surprised, and says, “Oh, hi, Laurie.”  As if I had been expected to be in that spot on the stage, at that very moment.  Perhaps I was.

“Hi, Dad.  Are you comfortable that way?”

“No, I’m not.  Would you please call those box top girls to help me”

“‘Boxtop girls’?”

“Yes, you know the ones.  They’re in the hall and they say they have a button, but I don’t see, at least, haven’t found, whatever it is.”

“He means the aides.  I called them, but they haven’t come,” says Lyle.

“I’ll take care of that,” and I do.  Instantly two aides are at the bedside, pulling him into a more lifelike position.

“Would you like to sit up in your chair for a while, Norman?”

“Yes, I would.”

They help him stand and walk the six steps beside him, help him turn and sit.  This is not my father.  This is my father.

Wheel him over to face the chair I’ve parked in, to keep out of the way.  We look at each other.  Start a conversation about….something…..his eyes droop, head drops to his chest….asleep, in mid-sentence.  It happened all the time when he was at home, too.  It’s just that….in this stark-real place, it seems so….pathological….when before it had been just normal, for him, at this time.

Where are our special Mondays and Wednesdays, when we get to have six whole hours just for us, for me to make you sardine sandwiches, ugh, on bread lightly toasted, onion sliced thinly layered, tomato, and you used to like one small piece of lettuce on top, but not anymore.  And after your sandwich, a piece of fruit.  An apple, a tangerine, whatever was good.

Then maybe you’d need a nap, and maybe not–but your eyes kept an eye on your watch–is it four yet?  Four o’clock—le’chaims!  Scotch, sipped neat out of little cups he made for the purpose years ago.

This Wednesday I took a flask of Scotch and our special cups, and arrived at the nursing home at four o’clock.  We would have le’chaims!

Room 110 only had Lyle in it.  Lyle told me they had taken him to the Therapy Dining Room for dinner.  Dinner?  I thought that was at four-thirty.  Honest, they give them dinner at four-thirty.

I had not been to the Therapeutic Dining Room before, although I knew they were working with him on eating issues (I never noticed any issues with eating the sardine sandwiches I made him, other than they fell apart usually, but every sardine sandwich will do that at some point).  I found my way there, though, and it was nothing more than a couple of card tables pushed together in the middle of the physical therapy room.  OK.

Dad was seated with his back toward me.  He was trying to have a conversation with the gentleman across the table from him.  Neither of them speak normally, but when put together it just sounded like two people having a normal conversation in a slightly foreign language.

I walked up next to Dad and said “Hi, Dad!”  He halfway turned to me and said, “I’m busy now.  I’m eating dinner.”  And turned away.

I was not sure what kind of emotion to have.  One part of me was hurt-little-girl, the other part was, OK, he’s creating boundaries, and that’s empowering for him in this disempowering place; and he’s used me for a testing point for his boundary-setting, because he knows me.  So I decided to take it that way.

“What time is dinner over?”  I asked the Dining Therapist.


“Hour and a half.  Too long.  Seeya, Dad.  Here, let me kiss you on the head.”  Smooch.

I also have boundaries.  They are reasonable.

The next day is Thursday.  I have therapy on Thursdays, an hour and a half away to the nearest city.  I use the day to go have coffee, shop at Whole Foods, buy stuff for Shabbat, eat at the good Thai place.

Thursday, my mom calls me, says Dad wants to talk to me.  Why didn’t I come today?  Because it’s Thursday, and I always go to town on Thursdays, right?  Right.  But you weren’t, yesterday, right?  Were you, did I?  Was I mad because you chucked me out of the dining hall?  Of course not.  Did you hurt my feelings?  Excuse me, but I have known you for a long time.  You’re my grumpy old man, remember?  Laughs.

But are you going to come?  Tonight?

I’m sorry, Dad, but I will be getting home too late.  It will already be dark.

Oh.  Tomorrow?

We’ll have to see, tomorrow.  I have to take Mom to the oral surgeon to get her tooth pulled, remember?  And it all depends on how that goes, whether I can get back in time to come or not.  And then Saturday is Shabbat, so it might be Sunday until I can visit.

Oh. OK.

I feel horrible.  Whose fucking idea was this?

Does Mental Illness Patients have to KILL before getting help?

Does Mental Illness Patients have to KILL before getting help?

So, in this country, you have to kill someone before you can receive long lasting life help. That sucks. That sucks that someone has to die in order to get something you need.

Why is our country like this? Are there better way to spend money?


Thanks to 52/7 for introducing me to this video!

Filed under: Death, mental health awareness, Videos

Depot injections and my mind is FINALLY QUIET

I maxed out the Haldol at 20mg a day and my diagnosis is now schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. So I’m on a depot injection, among my other meds (Topamax, Cipralex, Ritalin, Clonazepam and PRN Artane) called Piportil which is an older antipsychotic used pretty much everywhere except the US. I’m in Canada.


I was prescribed it yesterday, and went in for the shot today. I was pretty uneventful. My GP gave me the shot in my “bum” (sorry, that makes my laugh) and it was painless, just a little needle prick, which didn’t  hurt, you could just feel it, and that was it. Piportil is quite thick and they have to use relatively large needles, so you’d figure it’d hurt at least a bit. Nope. He’s a great GP and really gentle, so I wasn’t surprised. I was a bit nervous, but really, over nothing. I get nervous getting prescriptions refilled.


I’m on 1mL, or 50mg, every other week.

I went to a friends and slept for a couple hours. The most amazing thing happened though, my mind was so clear. I had 3 hours of amazing sleep. Then we got up, did daily stuff, like went to get his prescription refilled (kinda scared my GP that I was back, but I was like “No! It’s for him! He needs his Keppra refilled!” and he laughed. He has a good sense of humour, and I enjoy seeing him. Even if its for a shot in the butt.. err, bum.

My mind has been clear all day. No psychosis. Thinking straight. It’s amazing. I hope it stays this way. I haven’t had haldol since last night, when I took 5mg at night. I really hope it stays this way. If it does why didn’t I do this sooner?

Depot injections aren’t as scary or as bad as it seems. I’m not on any kind of treatment order or anything, this is 100% voluntary, “let’s try this and see how it pans out”. I’ll keep you updated. I really hope it works out.

My mind hasn’t been this clear in years.