Tag Archives: mental health

Facebook Memories

If you’re on Facebook, you’re probably familiar with how Facebook likes to share memories, showing you pictures and status updates that you’ve posted on any given day in years past.  It is mostly really fun to see what was going on in your life.  I, personally, love seeing old pictures of my pets and my friends, and thinking about the fun nights I had over Facebook in law school (without Facebook, lawyers from the class of 2011 would not have made it).

But there are times when I don’t necessarily want to remember, Facebook.

On January 23, Facebook reminded me that it had been 3 years since my Gram passed away.  I had a good cry, I posted a sappy post, went on a walk to process my sad feelings and saw a hummingbird in the desert (which I’m currently convinced is my Gram’s way of saying hello these days).  It worked.  Remembering my Gram’s passing was bittersweet; full of missing her and wishing she could see me now, but remembering how much of her lives on in me.  Okay, so Facebook memories can remind me of my Gram any day.

I still wish I could be selective about what I’m reminded of, though.  Maybe Facebook could come up with a shitty life events filter or something.  Of course, it may not have even helped with this next one considering that I had intentionally, selectively, mostly forgotten about it.

On February 4, I was reminded that around this time in 2014, I had a second weird psychotic episode that I’ve hardly discussed with anyone, even though everyone basically saw it happen this time.  After quitting my job at the big law firm, going on my round-the-country road trip, and pouring every bit of myself into launching my new law firm at the end of 2013 and into the new year, I lost my mind again.  It was maybe a period of about 48-72 hours without sleep, endlessly searching the internet, convinced I had broken it, writing this crazy manifesto that I still can’t bear to read, and sending “coded” messages to all the friends on Facebook that I felt close to at the time.

Yep.  Facebook memories reminded me that I sent a bunch of psychotic messages to my friends.  Lovely!

I posted a status update blaming it on Facebook, which seems to have gone over okay with most of my friends (except maybe one).  But it was me.  I was only about a year and a half into recovery from my childhood trauma, burned out and running away from myself on my road trip, I came back and immediately poured myself into my work and avoiding everything rebelling, but then I caught up with myself again and lost my mind.  No wonder my business failed didn’t go so well the first time I tried it.  No wonder I could barely motivate myself to get off of the couch for months after.  I have so much shame about it, and Facebook reminded me.

Thankfully, Facebook also reminded me how much I have grown since.

I honestly feel like such a different person than I was those two years ago.   I have worked really hard in therapy to move beyond so many things and it is paying off in my life.  I not only AM lighter (if you didn’t read my post yesterday, though currently stuck in a stall, I am -105lbs now!), I FEEL lighter emotionally.  My spirit is freer these days because of all of my hard work.  I am freer.

I do still fear a return of the psychosis, though.  Even though this second time around was far milder and far less damaging, it still sucked; a lot.  I’m still incredibly embarrassed and and carrying some pretty intense shame because of both of the times that my brain short circuited.  If it happened twice, it can happen a third or fourth or fifth time.  I fear being permanently disabled by my mental health issues.  If my brain can fail me in such dramatic ways, how will I ever be able to be a successful human being like I want to?  What if I’m not cut out for being a lawyer?  What if I cannot actually be a business owner?  I could go on, but I don’t need to.

Definitely some things I need to talk about in therapy.  I have so many good things going on and, despite the bullshit thrown my way this year so far, I feel pretty good emotionally, so I hate to get too much back into the serious stuff.  Finally telling you is pretty helpful (and remarkable, especially since a year-old blog post about the same subject sits in my drafts), but I’m sure telling Sam will help me tie a little bow on this and put it up on a shelf.

No more shame, damnit!  Well, at least a little less shame for now.  Thank God for therapy this week!

Taking a Break from Pfizer

Some days I go from feeling extraordinary to disappointed within hours.  Some times it’s one great day followed by a bad one.  Some days I wish that things would just level out.  But the alternative right now is continuing on medication that makes me feel nothing.  Or does the medication just make me feel less of something? I can’t be sure anymore.

I decided to go off of my mental health medications recently.  I know that coming off of the drugs is making me feel overly emotional right now, but I had to do it.  The withdrawals – this weird electrical sensation that makes my lips and face tingle – suck.  A lot.  It’s worth it at the moment if it means that I don’t have to take these damn pills.

I’ve always been on something.  Growing up I was on a myriad of different, latest and greatest, asthma medications.  I’m still on those and I will be forever. As I got older, I had to add birth control.  I’ve accepted the fact that these are just part of life for me.  But for the last three years, I added antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, and a pill to help me sleep.

Why? The asthma medication I need to breathe, and I have made my peace with having to take them. But until three years ago, I never needed mental health medications to function.  I lived my entire life, save for the year between 19 and 20 when I got put on Prozac, without mental medications. For a while there I was convinced that the mental health drugs were working and making me feel better; I really do think they were working.  But mental health drugs sure as hell didn’t stop me from having a psychotic break. What good are they really?

In the last six months or so, it hasn’t been worth the work to maintain my medicated state. If you read A Letter to My Mental Health Provider aka Oops I Did it Anyways, you’ll remember that the process to get my mental health medications taken care of has been a pain in the ass.  Between a mental health provider with zero actual concern for its patients and navigating the U.S.’s version of healthcare reform, it’s been a challenge. So I decided to take a break from Pfizer’s hold on me and try living my life without pumping myself full of a bunch of extra drugs again.

As the withdrawals subside, I have to admit that I may need to still be on something.  I’m a little too all over the place for my liking.  However, it is actually kind of nice to feel real feelings again instead of the dull medicated feelings I had been feeling,  It’s not easy to feel. The combination I was on was a bit too much, though.

Introspection in Moderation

When my therapist brought up inner child therapy in one of our first meetings, I was highly resistant.  Just the words inner child therapy scared me for some reason.  I didn’t have a real idea of what it was, but I didn’t even want to hear about it.  “I know you have your tricks up your sleeve and I don’t need to know what they are.  Just do what you have to do, doc.” I said.  So he did.

He let me slide for a few sessions.  I had things I needed to say before I could ever start inner child therapy, that was clear.  I  think my therapist also understood that I needed to make sure he really was on my side and understood my past before taking the plunge into something as complex and difficult as inner child therapy.  

We talked a lot about a lot of things over the next few weeks, but it didn’t take long before inner child therapy came up again.  I was still worried about moving forward, but he had the confidence that I was ready.  I trusted his judgment and tentatively agreed to take the plunge the next week.

I’m a curious person and a planner by nature, so I really couldn’t stop myself from scouring the web for information about the process over the next several days.  Discovering that there were significant benefits to inner child therapy got me really excited.  I wanted to get in touch with my inner child, give her some support, figure out the meaning of life, and get back to feeling better already.  The sooner the better.

My enthusiasm was a bit of a mistake.  I ended up unreasonably hopeful that by doing my own self work before my therapist and I began as well as between our sessions, I would be fixed and feeling better after just a couple more weeks.  Instead, I found myself feeling worse because I couldn’t stop thinking about anything other than the bad things that had happened when I was a kid. I was putting insane amounts of pressure on myself (and my inner child) to quickly examine every traumatic event from my childhood, resolve whatever negative feelings my inner child was holding onto, and have the feel-good revelation that I thought was supposed to come with inner child therapy.

After a few inner child sessions, my anxiety and depression still lingered and were actually getting worse in certain ways.  I was silently disappointed by my progress and getting overwhelmed in the process.  Then my therapist told me that I was ruminating.  Ruminating?  That stung.  By doing what I was doing, was I actually hurting, not helping, myself?  I didn’t want to hear that.

But he was right.

So, after getting over initially feeling perturbed at having been called out, I decided to take a break.  I can’t say that it’s been easy, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve been making a very conscious effort to stay in the present and to focus, not on my wounded inner child, but on my life and the person I am now.  Focusing on the here and now has its own challenges, but I am feeling more positive over all.  Progress!

Telegram

sheen. shine. shine on.
clean. climb. climb off.
mean. blind. blinders gone.

I am best with the monsters under my bed.
The light of day brings worse.
Snap. Crack. Slap.
Sharp. Cut. Play.
Fear.

Eat. Threats. Vomit.
Threats. Terror.

Play. No.

Sad that.  I’m not sure.
This is where.
Stop.

The Importance of Friendship

My friends are some of the most important people in my life right now.  There is a very select few who know my Real Story and who I can talk to about my progress in therapy.  I honestly don’t think I could do this inner child exploration without them.

There are so many reasons I’m grateful for my friends.  No matter how shitty I feel, my friends will always listen to me.  They have stayed up well past their bedtimes, let me into their homes, prayed with me and over me, made me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry, visited me in the hospital, and truly seen me at my worst.  Each of us knows that no matter the distance, no matter the time, the other will be there if/when we need them.   We are far more than friends, we are family.  We celebrate and grieve together, worry about one another, respect boundaries, grow and learn how to be better people.   All together.

Of course, that’s not to say we don’t get on each other’s nerves, neglect each other when life gets in the way, or forget a birthday now and again.  We have made mistakes in our friendships, but we are able to talk about them and move on.  Even if we fight, or push each other away in the epic breakdowns of our lives (well, my life), we still know that the other is thinking of us, worrying, and caring just as much as if nothing had changed.  We support each other in the best ways we know how, and that is all we can (or would) ever ask of each other.

As we get older, things change between us.  Sometimes dramatically, but usually for the better – even if it doesn’t seem that way as it happens.

Having been through my own personal hell and back in the last couple of years, I’ve really come to appreciate my core group of friends.  They help fill in where my genetic family’s crazy dysfunction left gaping holes.  I’m doing most of the work, but it’s nice to know that as I pick up the pieces of my life, I’m not alone.

A Thank You Note…

I have a serious love affair with Hulu Plus (and Netflix).  Who would pay $55+ for cable when you can get some of the best programming and movies out there for $7.99/mo? I mean, really. But my television habits are neither here nor their.

As I was watching the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (with Tina Fey!), one of the ads was Adam Levine for www.OwnYourADHD.com. I was pleasantly surprised to see an ad about ADHD after Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon did a hilarious rendition of My Endless Love (YouTube it).

I don’t have ADHD, but my brother does; so it’s another very personal subject for me.

For those of you that might not know, ADHD is (very) generally characterized as an inability to pay attention, focus, etc. combined with hyperactivity.  As if one wasn’t enough of a sucker punch to the gut, having both must feel, well, I can’t even imagine how hard it must be – for everyone in the family.  If it’s anything remotely like having anxiety and depression together, it’s not fun.  Anyway.  For obvious reasons, ADHD inhibits learning, comprehension, and behavior, among other things in affected children. While ADHD has, unfortunately, been misused as a diagnosis for the highly energetic youngster over the years, it is a legitimate medical condition that continues into adulthood.

The ad was refreshingly compassionate and understanding.  It was direct, yet personal; without being dismissive (all very important to those of us with mental health issues). It didn’t offer miracle drugs or programs or anything else. Instead, the ad simply encouraged people to take a quiz to find out more.

Finally, a campaign focusing more on education! Knowledge is, after all, power.  Not only that, but putting a recognizable and relatable face like Adam’s to such a serious topic like ADHD  makes me feel just a little bit more empowered about my own mental health problems.

Thank you. Truly.

A Letter to My Mental Health Provider aka Oops I Did It Anyways

I have been debating for nearly a month about whether I should post this blog or not.  But that was before my current blogging adventure began.   My hesitation came from my own embarrassment.  Embarrassment about having mental health issues; embarrassment about seeing a mental health provider over the last several years; and embarrassment about the causes and effects of my mental health issues.  I can’t imagine why I would feel that way.  Could it be because mental illness is taboo and completely misunderstood in our society? Could it be because as I was dealing with some of the worst of my own issues, it was made clear to me that I should not talk about it with those around me, that it should not be something anyone knew about me, and, in a nutshell, that my career could suffer if I shared?  That could definitely be it.

What a load of crap.

Anyway.  The push to finally post this comes after reading that a psychiatric hospital in town is going to have to shut its doors to those in need of affordable mental health services because of Medicaid laws.  As I understand it, this psychiatric hospital is located within, but separate from, the larger hospital it associates with.   It offers emergency psychiatric services and accepts Medicaid from its patients.   However, in order to qualify as an emergency room and receive payments from Medicaid, the psychiatric hospital must accept all emergencies, not just mental health emergencies.  It hasn’t been doing that and, as a result, could be forced to close.

While politicians and lawyers debate about how and whether the law should be enforced, little concern is being shown for how this will affect the patients that rely upon the hospital for their mental health needs.  All of those psychiatric patients who were receiving quality specialized care (care that is, unfortunately, greatly misunderstood by physicians who don’t focus on mental health issues) are all going to be displaced.  This is bad.  Very bad.  Without immediate access to proper psychiatric care, mental illness can easily spiral out of control.  Do we need yet another mass shooting blasted across the national news to tell us this is true?

One of the worst things for someone suffering from mental health issues is to rip away access to their trusted providers.   Yet it happens all the time.  It happened to me recently.  After quitting my job, going on a 10,000 mile road trip, an emotional set of holidays, opening a business, and the first anniversary of my grandmother’s death, my fine tuned balance has understandably been a bit out of whack.  When my anxiety was getting to be overwhelming again in January, I figured I either needed a medication adjustment or just someone to tell me I was going to be okay.  So I called to make an appointment with my psychiatrist.

I was turned away.

One would think that a mental health provider would be keen on helping its patients when they actually need it.  Wrong.  Unfortunately, I’m sure this is the state of affairs across the United States.  Either way, it pissed me off enough that I found whatever email address I could on their website and sent this (from my new work email address just to make a point):

Dear Sir or Madam,

I don’t typically write Complaint letters to companies on my own behalf.  I complain enough for other people; it’s my job.  Complaining about my own life is neither worth my time or energy nor good for my mental health.  In any event, I ask that whomever is on the receiving end of this pass it along to their supervisor, or whomever else, who can pass it along to the President/CEO/whatever his/her title is, of —.

I am an abuse survivor coming to terms with some really awful shit.  I had a psychotic break two years ago and am barely keeping it together again.  I’m terrified of a relapse and want to see Dr. — for a medication adjustment or to have him tell me I’m fine.  I don’t trust many people, but Dr. — is amazing, and I really need to see him.

Unfortunately, however, I have missed 3 appointments in the 2 years or so I’ve been coming to —.  Before, I could afford to pay the $150 fee and would have had no problem.  But, unfortunately, I just had to quit my big fancy lawyer job (and I say that facetiously, I really do – I lack self importance, I’m just very angry at how the situation went down) to open my own firm so I can handle my anxiety and depression more effectively while I deal with my issues.

Well you know what, what if those 3 stupid appointments I missed were because of my depression when I couldn’t drag myself out of bed?  But I was too proud to admit it and too depressed to make the call.  Or on a day when I was too busy at work, dealing with anxiety, and forgot I even had the appointment, even though I got an appointment reminder.  It happens.  We all have lives.  But not many people with lives as crazy as mine have the mental health issues I have.  To be turned away by my physician’s office really bothered me.

I have a hard time paying your company $150 more of my dollars when the therapists there have no clue how to deal with real life problems.  The one good therapist I had; the only one I really trusted with my emotional shit, left and I haven’t been able to find another good one there since.  I tried to keep my business with you, because I had such success until then, but now I can’t see my doctor over a measly $150?  Now that’s insanity.

You are a mental health facility.  Don’t you realize that for someone like me, not being able to see my physician when I REALLY need to sends me into a panic in and of itself?  I don’t call on doctors unless I really NEED them.  Plus, if someone goes into a panic over not being able to see their doctor and they end up in a psychotic break like I had, they might not maintain as much control as I was able to when I went through my own a couple of years ago.  That could have serious implications for your company, when all they needed was a simple medication evaluation.  Call your lawyer and ask him.  It’s a possibility, under the right circumstances.

I tried to explain to the gal on the phone, without breaking down or being rude, that it was really important for me to see Dr. —, but that I couldn’t afford to pay the $150, and they wouldn’t make an exception.  I would gladly pay the $150 when I can, but not now.  Now you’ve lost business.

I will be okay, but having to find a new doctor because of some bullshit policy, when I have paid a lot of money to your company over the last couple of years and the complete lack of sensitivity to a person’s mental health – what you SPECIALIZE in, is ridiculous.

I’d be happy to post my opinion of — out on the Internet, but I’m hopeful that you guys rectify the problem first and let me see my doctor.  That’s all I want.

I got a response from the CEO of the company less than four hours later telling me I could see my doctor.  Huzzah!  I didn’t feel the relief I thought I would, though.  Actually, his email just pissed me off even more.  Why?  Instead of apologizing, instead of acknowledging that the matter was not handled with the delicacy or professionalism that it should have been, the CEO chose to say nothing.  I never did see my doctor and I will never go back there.

No one should go there.  Ever.

Although I said at the time that all I wanted was to see my doctor, what I really want is for people to stop tiptoeing around mental health issues, to get educated, and to treat those with mental illness with kindness and respect.  Mental illness is just like any other illness, just in the brain.  Let’s get it together, people. #rantover