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Posts tagged ‘Mental Health’

New Year Same Me

It’s New Years Day, 2015. I’m sure I’m supposed to use this time and this space to make resolutions, predictions, and promises. But I really don’t see 2015 being much different from 2014, if at all.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that 2014 was bad. It wasn’t. In fact all in all it was a pretty good year. I saw my kid a few times, I visited my parents, I passed all my classes, I presented at conferences. But I wasn’t transformed.

I didn’t finally commit to clean living despite wanting to be healthier. I didn’t join a gym or start running despite wanting to get in shape. I didn’t give up all possible migraine triggers despite wanting to get a better handle on my chronic migraines. I did find a therapist, but I also fired her after a bad session. And by fired I mean just never went back because I’m ever so “good” at confrontation and termination.

And the thing  is I’m not saying any of this because I plan to change it or because I feel badly about these supposed failings. I don’t. I’m still the same me and I’ll be the same me in 2015. And I’m more than okay with that.

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Fight, Flight, or Freeze

I sat in my therapist’s office crying. Heart racing. Feeling like I couldn’t breathe.

I reminded myself that while I felt like I coudn’t breathe I was in fact breathing. I took some deep abdominal breaths.

I heard her voice, but it wasn’t really registering.

I froze.

I just needed a few moments to center and ground myself. A few moments of silence to pull myself together.

She kept talking.

I’m not sure what she was really saying, but her tone grew increasingly frustrated and in turn frustrating.

I had been trying to get myself together, to continue the session. Instead I decided to end it.

I fled.

I gathered my things, took the elevator down, walked out into the sun.

And almost immediately I could breathe.

I want therapy to fix me.  I want my therapist to fix me or tell me how to fix myself.

I may never be fixed.

I cannot postpone all life’s events until I’m fixed.

I may never be fixed.

Instead of hoping things will be easier, better, normal once I’m fixed I need to figure out how to function as I am.

I may never be fixed.

But I will fight.

Mental Illness is Illness. Period.

I am mentally ill. Depending on who you ask the diagnoses change, but regardless I am mentally ill. That is nothing to be ashamed of and it shouldn’t be something I have to hide. And yet, I’ve learned over and over that people don’t see it as an illness and they do think it should be hidden.

In 2012 this happened:

Yesterday in passing I was told by my boss’s boss in front of my coworkers “don’t talk to my boss about being on drugs”

As someone who never drank before she was 21 (didn’t really start drinking til 23 when i met my good friend vodka). Never smoked a cigarette or any thing else ever I was completely taken aback by the statement.

I must have looked confused because boss lady clarified “you said you were waiting for the Ativan to kick in”

So I replied oh yeah after driving my hellish commute in the snow and ice where 4-wheel drive vehicles were spinning out and trying to kill me I was trying not to have a panic attack before going to work in the drop in center. Your boss came out of no where and started talking to me. So yeah I probably mentioned the Ativan in my babbling. But it’s a prescribed medication not a drug.

I also mentioned that we work in social services we’re supposed to be fighting the stigma and shame associated with mental illness/ mental health treatment.

Boss lady mentioned she did tell her boss that half the staff is probably medicated, but she also went on to tell me to just avoid her boss. And that her boss just doesn’t “get” me. Wtf what’s there to get? I was one of very few staff who came in that day. I drove from mother fucking Tacoma to Olympia in the ice and snow to serve the youth because I was scheduled in the drop in center. I do my job. The power went out and the rest of the staff went home but the three of us in the center we stayed with the youth.

But it’s fine me and my anxiety will stay on the second floor. All crazy and drugged up.not interacting with the big bosses.

I’m so glad I’m looking for a new job.

I eventually mentioned it to HR, but not until my exit interview. I have no idea what (if anything) came of it. I’m angry still 2.5 years later. If i’d said “I’m waiting for my imitrix to kick in” there would have been no follow up, no questions, no lecture. But i’m also angry at myself for not addressing it then and there. for being too worried about my job to advocate for myself and others.

Mental illness is an illness. Period. It’s about time we stop differentiating between them.

Real, Powerful, Deadly

When someone dies from a fatal disease we (as a society) tend to mention that disease when discussing the person’s death. We lament the unfairness. Pledge money toward research and awareness. Wear ribbons, run races, speak out.

That is unless that disease is a mental illness.

Today Robin Williams passed away. It appears he sucumb to complications from his illness. Most will focus on the apparent suicide, the last act of that illness.

But it isn’t really about the suicide any more than death from cancer is about the heart stopping or the kidneys shutting down those are just the last thing the illness does to a person.

Depression, bi-polar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia… These aren’t fancy words for “you need to get over it” or “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” or “you’re a drama queen” or “you have mommy issues”. These are real diseases, with real symptoms and real consequences.  They also have real treatments.

Part of what sucks is not every treatment works for every person and so sometimes it feels like you’ll never find the one that works for you.

Keep looking it’s out there.

Sometimes the act of looking keeps you hanging on.

Sometimes you find something that works, but then it stops working and you have to start the search again.

It’s ok. You found it once, you’ll find it again.

Sometimes it’s a temporary treatment and you can stop once you’re in remission.

Sometimes it’s a treatment you need to continue indefinitely.

The point is these diseases are real and they’re powerful and sometimes they end in death. Not because the victim wasn’t strong enough. Not because they were selfish or stupid. But because sometimes diseases are fatal and it’s not fair and it doesn’t make sense.

 

It’s Okay

It’s okay to cry

She told me as I fought back tears in her office. Just wanting the pain to subside. Not wanting to let it out. Not wanting it to be visible nor audible. Just gone.

And yet I repeated those words tonight to another. And I believed them as I typed them. But I still can’t embrace them.

It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to grieve.

How many repetitions before I can live these words? How many until I don’t need to remind myself it’s okay?

When will I not only know it’s ok, but also feel it’s okay?

Cheaper Than Therapy Thursday

Even with decent medical insurance therapy is expensive. Plus even the best therapist apparently won’t relocate 3000 miles to stay with you forever *ahem*. So sometimes you just have to find ways to cope between sessions.

While not the most healthy one of my favorite way to cope is to distract myself aka zone out from life. Sometimes I do this by streaming reruns of my favorite series (I’m lookin’ at you The West Wing). When you don’t have the brain space to learn new people’s names or remember details of plot arcs there’s something comforting about revisiting old friends and reliving familiar storylines.

It’s not always The West Wing sometimes I’ll mix it up and rewatch Bones or revisit something like Dawson’s Creek, Buffy, or Roswell. Cooking shows also feature heavily in my routine, although they also make me hungry so are avoided when I’m trying not to eat my feelings. Sometimes there’s a need for something not just mindless, but also mind numbing and thats where reality tv comes in. Oh you’re about to trick a bunch of chicks they’re dating Prince Harry? Yep I’ll be watching that. Oh some self proclaimed experts are going to match you up and you’re going to marry them sight unseen? Yep that’ll take my mind off my current anxiety. Oh hey you’ve got your own self proclaimed experts to match 10 couples and added a million dollars, alcohol, and a group living situation? Sounds better than ativan.

Binge watching craptastic tv. It doesn’t fix my problems, but it’s cheaper than a copay.

The Evolution of a Diagnosis

For various reasons I’ve been sorting through old medical records recently. As I’ve done so I’ve noted how my mental health diagnoses have evolved. Coming from a family doesn’t really believe in mental illness or therapy I”ve only been seeking treatment for approximately 8 years.  Having some issues that make it hard to find a good therapist I’ve only stuck with a clinician long enough to have a diagnosis for the last 4 years.

In 2010 my first diagnosis, or rather my first set of diagnoses were:

Generalized anxiety disorder

Agoraphobia with panic disorder

Social phobia

Persistent disorder of initiating or maintaining sleep

These diagnoses were assigned to me after ONE 50 minute session with a clinician…I don’t have my records from my next two providers, but by 2012 my diagnoses were:

Generalized anxiety disorder

Panic disorder without agoraphobia

Just to recap so far: In 2010 I had Agoraphobia with Panic Disorder, in 2012 I had Panic Disorder without Agoraphobia…whatever you say mental health professionals.

By late 2012 I found my favorite clinician to date, a wonderful social worker who got me as close to sanity as I’ve ever been. My new found ability to cope with life was reflected on paper as well as I was down to a single diagnosis:

Panic disorder without agoraphobia

Sadly in mid 2013 I moved and for some reason my therapist wouldn’t move 3000 miles to keep treating me. My first attempt at a wrong coast therapist threw around adjustment disorder and PTSD before deciding to return to:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The new year brought my second attempt at east coast therapy and a new diagnosis:

Depressive disorder, not elsewhere classified

Panic disorder without agoraphobia

It seems strange that while my story, my experience, my symptoms don’t change my diagnosis continues to. I try not to let it bother me, I don’t have depressive disorder in fact that only symptom of depression I have is my inability to fall or stay asleep…which then leads to increased feelings of being tired during the day…also some increased irritability…and these things impact my day. Most of my wake ups are a result of anxiety, panic, or hypervigilance. But it doesn’t really matter. I’ve been given a diagnosis, it’s on the right axis, my insurance will pay for treatment regardless of what they call it.

I meet with wrong coast clinician 3 next week, I wonder where that will lead? To a new diagnosis? Increased coping skills? A second appointment? Only time will tell.