Daily Archives: June 20, 2014

Hospitalization (Caution: mentions suicidal ideation)

Until recently, the thought of being hospitalized gave me cold chills and sweats.  My first images of hospitalization came from a 1967 movie starring Rosalind Russell as Rosie Lord who (I believe...my memory could be warped) was committed to a mental hospital by her children.  The children felt Rosie was being irresponsible (and selfish?) in spending their 'inheritance.'  Somehow, at the age of 12 or 13, I knew that this scenario was significant and scary.  There was force.  There was screaming.  Imagine Rosalind Russell without makeup, wiry hair awry, gown askew.  I imagined electric shock and straight jackets.  I still feel nauseated at the thought of being forced, held down, and injected.  I made my mother promise to never let that happen to me.

Flash forward to two years ago when I helped a family member move into a hospital mental health ward.  I was afraid but did my best to not show it.  I was supportive and positive.  I visited on visitation day and attended the group sessions that day.  I was there to take that person home when the time came.

Last Sunday, when the kids were visiting their father and grandfather on Father's Day, I found myself finalizing plans on another technique for exiting this earth.  Before actually gathering the materials and implements, I made a call to my therapist.  Bless her heart, I was interrupting her packing for a week long retreat and I got the feeling she didn't have a lot of extra time. She made some inquiries and called me back.  There were no available beds in Western North Carolina.  none.  I kept packing.

Ultimately, I drove to a nearby city, found the hospital, and checked into the ER.  All told I spent 23 hours dozing in the brightly lit ER examining room with a security guard blocking my door.  He was actually quite sweet.  Every time I turned over he would ask if I was doing ok with a thumbs up query.  Sometimes I gave him a thumbs up...sometimes the thumb was sideways.  One of the nurses apologized for my having to wait in the ER for a room to open up upstairs.  I told her it was fine; there were no painkillers, tranquilizers, or razor blades there.  All I had to do was sleep, and so I slept.

The next afternoon, I was walked upstairs by two security guards.  Not having been on the ward before myself, I didn't realize at the time that it was customary...and loving...to congregate and line the halls to see the new person on the ward.  It didn't take long to make friends and be a friend to several of the people there.  I miss them and sincerely pray for their good fortune and healing.

No one was mistreated.  No one was forced to take their meds or needed restraint.  It was a sometimes happy, orderly, serene place with caring, kind, and often funny attendants. I could look down on a peaceful garden, up into the changing sky, or out into the trees outside my room.  We talked about art, spirituality, stress reduction, wellness, and grief.  The food was even not too bad.

I have a friend who thinks fondly on his own rather lengthy stay in a hospital.  The idea disturbed me at the time he told me so.  I now know better.  Getting out was a surreal experience.  My medication has been rather drastically changed so perhaps that explains my less than perfect driving skills.  Traffic on the interstate, while orderly and reasonable, was too much stimulation for me.  But I made it home.  And I went to work putting my home in order.  I wanted to replicate the tone and feel of the hospital ward.

I want to thank those of you who were concerned for me.  That was kind and thoughtful of you.

Someone in the hospital referred to the experience as resetting their buttons.  I think that is a good way of putting it.  I think about the internet modem and router.  Occasionally, they need to be reset, and apparently, so do I.

From Panicky to Manicky

I’ve been having one of my rare, slightly manicky  upswings for the last few days.

Why? And about what?

Well, I survived the business meeting/lunch on Wednesday. I prepared for it with a lot less anxiety than the last time (hair, outfit, jewelry, car, arrival time – all came together with astonishing speed). I even made it through lunch without my hand tremors causing me to dibble all over myself. Yay me!

And although the subject matter could have felt like an attack directed at me, it didn’t. I didn’t get defensive (well, maybe a little) and I help uncover some problems that indirectly supported my point of view.

Maybe I am getting better at this stuff, or remembering how I used to do it.

Also, I was not completely spoon-depleted that evening or the next day, as I had told my husband to expect.

I’ve donated small amounts of money ($25 and under) to a few charities and causes. I don’t know if this is cause or effect of the upswing, but who cares? I was motivated, and I did it. A small enough accomplishment for many people, but summoning the will to care and to act constitute progress.

I have supported a friend in his first solo freelance venture, predicted its astoundingly rapid success, and reveled in it with him. It’s a good feeling to share, even if my own freelance efforts have been less spectacular (though significant to me).

I won’t deny that this upswing makes me wary that a crash may be on the way. You know how feeling happy always seems like tempting fate? With bipolar disorder, I know that there will always be another downswing waiting around the corner for me.

But at least, for now, I can enjoy the good. And that’s a major improvement.

I Gotta Get Outta This Place!

I'm gonna go Billith if I don't get out alone tomorrow!

I'm over my cold, and ready to go out. Tomorrow is the perfect morning. I don't care if the spouse is going to work or not, I'm getting the hell out of here for my own sanity! Sanity?
D'oh! Whatever! He'll have to make his own damn coffee. He's fine, going back to work soon, so not my problem.

I'm going to have to venture out past starschmuckfucks one day very soon too. I'm sick of that shithole, even it I can drag my computer down there, and use up their electricity.

Off to bed early, up early, coffee early, smoke early, then exercise. :D It will be ok...

Silver Linings Playbook

Quick post today on the movie Silver Linings Playbook. I finally got this on DVD and I was really impressed by how realistically bipolar was depicted. Obviously there’s some dramatic emphasis, but I saw myself in quite a few scenes (most notably in the “wedding video” scene). Definitely worth several viewings!! Oh and Bradley Cooper and my Eagles make me smile!

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Jagged Little Pill

So it’s five days into my dosage-reduction experiment, and everything is going fine—I don’t think my brain has caught on yet, and the only side effect is being less sluggish in the mornings (which is exactly what I was hoping for). Yeah, there’s the late-night wakefulness, but as I said yesterday, this is not new and it’s unrelated to my meds anyway.

That’s the easy part. The hard part—besides cutting a pill that’s the diameter of a pencil eraser into fourths—apparently is getting them down! First, you’ve got to make sure that teensy little quarter of a pill is in your hand (it’s REALLY easy to lose sight of it in the midst of nine other tablets), and then you’ve got to get it down. Well, I managed to aspirate one of ‘em last night, and I like to never got my breath back.

My first mistake was trying to toss all of my meds in at the same time. As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed that trouble swallowing crumbly foods and thin liquids has sort of crept up on me, and while I can get six or seven pills down in one gulp, I’m pushing my luck trying to do them all at once. I take them with a thick fluid like tomato juice or buttermilk, which coats everything and helps it go down easier, but even that doesn’t prevent dumb things from happening.

My second mistake was chatting with Will as I attempted to slug down the assorted capsules and tablets…..and that jagged little one-quarter pill got stuck somewhere in my bronchial tubes.

“Let me show you this new picture Mindy sent me of little Mackenzie…..GAAAACK!!! COFFCOFFCOFFCOFFwheeeeeeeeeeze!” It felt like I’d just inhaled a Cadillac. I hacked and gasped for what felt like an hour, until tears sprung from my eyes and my chest heaved with the effort to catch my breath. My lungs felt like raw hamburger; my nose ran like a faucet; my ribs began to ache.

“Are you OK?” asked Will, alarmed. It was on the tip of my tongue to say something along the lines of sure, I’m just hawking up a lung for the hell of it, but it wouldn’t have been a very gracious response; besides, I wasn’t breathing well enough to make a speech. I could feel that tiny pill in there, irritating the airway like a burr under a saddle, and it took a couple of hits off my asthma inhaler to calm things down a bit. Finally, the damned pill dissolved and I was left with a very tight chest and a persistent mild wheeze, but the worst was over.

Lesson number one: don’t talk when I’m going about the very serious business of taking my meds. Lesson number two: pay attention to where that quarter-tablet is when I toss ‘em back. I can sock away a fish-oil capsule and several other pills in one shot without a problem; it’s the little ones that get hung up and try to go down the wrong pipe. Or, in this case, into one of the itty-bitty airways, where it can cause a great deal of distress and indignity and turn a strong, middle-aged woman into a purple-lipped blob of Jell-O.

Oh, well, it’s always something. LOL.