Tag Archives: mental illness

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!

How Much Is Too Much?

I’m learning that inner child therapy attaches significance to things that, on the surface, are innocuous. My first session was drawing myself with my non-dominant hand and my homework was to add color to my drawing.  So I added various colors of red for the hair, brown freckles, blue eyes, and I colored my pants blue.  They were blue jeans.  I wore blue jeans at that age, I wear blue jeans now.  But in inner child therapy, they weren’t just blue jeans.

The color blue was significant.  Obviously, saying you’re blue can also mean you’re saying you feel depressed.  Check.  But blue is also the color of water.  Which my therapist used to remind me about a traumatic childhood event involving water (I’ve written about it before).

Oh.  There it is.  There’s the door to that memory.

I’ve kept that door locked, under constant security surveillance, for a long time.  Interestingly, that door always had a window on it.  I mean, I’ve been able to tell people about the drowning incident for a long time (usually without much emotion).  Now I can barely think about it without wanting to cry.  Thanks, Dr.

In all seriousness, what my therapist did was help me open a door inside myself.  A door to real, raw, emotions that I haven’t allowed myself to feel.  That I couldn’t allow myself to feel, really.  I didn’t want to even unlock the door.  But before I knew what he was doing, he helped me unlock and open it.  The emotion hit me like a freight train, but in a good way.  He was there to help me manage it.  Then he helped me shut the door before we said our goodbyes.

Unfortunately, the door was more like a pressure valve with an old warn out gasket.  Now that the seal is broken, the steam that has been building up for the last 24 years (I was 7 in the drawing, remember) is seeping out around the cracks of the door.    So, a few other things have came out since hanging up the phone with my therapist.  I’m handling it surprisingly well, but I’ve been pondering an important set of questions.

How much is too much?  Can finding significance in something as normal as the color blue go too far?  Could it be risky business to see meaning where there really is just a pair of blue jeans?

When I was losing my mind a couple of years ago, I did something similar.  As I was trying to reconcile the unending terror I felt after she threatened me, my life, my career, I attached to the color red.  It was pretty natural, I think.  Red hair.  My dad always called me Red growing up.  But then I kept seeing red things everywhere.  I kept searching for it, attaching profound meaning to it.

Scary noise outside?  Look out the peep hole and a red truck drives by.   Panic.   I find a little red thing my dad gave me.  Anxiety.  I knew it was irrational, yet I could do nothing to stop it. This was at the peak of my psychosis when I was completely powerless over my mind.  Words can’t describe how awful it was.

So, yeah, your mind can do crazy things when left unchecked.  I suppose that’s why it’s great to have a good therapist.  I didn’t have that at the time and it cost me.   Now, as the week comes to a close and the weekend begins, I have to admit that I’m still way more anxious than I’d like to be.  But behind that anxiety is a layer of excitement to learn what else is behind this door number one.   I was 7 when I shut this door and I sense that there are others to come.  In fact, I almost feel like there was a wall behind the door that has to be busted down first.  Hey, I warned you that there was more to deal with when I started this process.

I’m still terrified of what lies in wait for me.  That feeling isn’t just miraculously gone like I had hoped it might be, but it has lessened.  And I at least can acknowledge that, with guidance, I can handle (and almost look forward to) figuring things out about myself.  Progress.

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.

Running Away

I’m always rushing.

Not knowing where I’m going.

Running from something.

Myself.

From. Well, her.

I’m always running from her.

No more.  I’m through.

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