Category Archives: mental illness

Damn, Life, Knock It Off Please – But Don’t Kill Me, Okay?

I am so anxious.

The ankle has been swollen now for, I think, 3 weeks? And it’s been at least 2 weeks since I saw the Nurse Practitioner about it, and she deemed it “cellulitis”, which I am gonna look up now because I really have no idea what the hell that is.

So it’s a skin infection that enters via a cut or crack. Can be caused also by scratching itches. I do not have a cut or crack and have not at all in that area in the past more than 1 month. I have not been scratching my ankle. So, here are the other things it could be:

But feet and ankles that stay swollen or are accompanied by other symptoms could signal a serious health problem, including:

  • Pregnancy complications
  • Foot or ankle injury
  • Lymphedema
  • Venous insufficiency
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Heart, liver, or kidney disease
  • Medication side effects

So, yeah. That looks scary AF, doesn’t it? And yet, no one seems to think it’s a big deal. And no one actually believes that I have any kind of concerning issue – except for the NP at Urgent Care, who said, my unexplained body aches and feverish feeling could be indicative of problems with my heart, and that he tended to believe people who insist that it is not a panic attack, that they know what that feels like and this ain’t it.

Given the symptoms – and in addition the troponin test being seriously flawed/giving false negatives due to Biotin intake – if I were a doctor, I would be concerned. My therapist is concerned. She is well versed in anxiety, and, again, this ain’t it.

Also, I got the flu, unrelated to the weird feverish feeling, which was not accompanied by any flu symptoms. And the flu kicked my ass for nearly 3 weeks, as well.

So okay. Did I mention I am so anxious?

I am so anxious.

I have an appointment tomorrow with the GP, who brilliantly, as I watched him write the Rx for my nuclear stress test, apparently called me “Edith Santos”. And checked the right ankle instead of right knee to be x-rayed, right after he’d told the nurse, no, not the ankle – she needs the knee x-rayed. Does this make me trust in his diagnosis? Not particularly. Then there is the hospital’s lab woman who said, of the FDA report, “Well, I am SO GLAD you have that information” sarcastically, after telling someone else that “SOMEONE told her” – meaning me, I am the “her” in that phrase – about the flaw in the troponin test, and I corrected her and said, hey, it’s not SOMEONE, it’s the FDA. A governmental agency. (Has she even fucking heard of it?) You’d think, even if they did not tell me what test was done on ME, which I have a right to know, I believe, they would have at least a LITTLE concern about the fact that these tests are invalid. That they would want to investigate that further. But, no.

I am fucked [image of Gene Wilder meme]

Nevermind that my blood pressure has been normal my entire life and now I have not Stage One but Stage TWO high blood pressure. And high cholesterol. And weigh too much. And have had three cardiac events preceded by intense jaw pain (which hey, that happens to be a heart attack symptom, how ’bout dat?). And now the ankle. But yeah, I am sure a swollen left ankle is indicative of PANIC DISORDER, which is what they all say – the hospital, the Primary Care Provider, the shrink, for fuck’s sake.

I have an appointment with the shrink tomorrow. I look forward to showing him my ankle and saying, hey, check out the panic disorder in my ankle!

Because panic disorder is so totally listed in that list above. See it? Oh, wait, IT’S NOT THERE.

It is easy to believe that I am not being listened to.

Further evidence of this: my floors are caving in. The floor under the fridge POPS intermittently. That is not a good sign. I read an article about a family whose floors completely gave way, and that was preceded by much popping. The floor in the kitchen has a dividing line between the floor that is slanted downward – which would be the floor under the cabinets, sink, stove, and fridge – and the non-slanted floor. It creaks when you walk on it. It doesn’t not feel stable. The bathroom floor has indentations in several areas I can feel with my bare feet and it is not particularly stable – of course I received a work order about the bathroom floor when I reported it marked ‘complete’ when they didn’t even LOOK at that floor.  Not to mention that the living room floors are also caving in – bended and warped and they do not at all feel stable and one of my dressers tilts forward and cannot be put against the wall, because why? The floor is warped, unstable, and in the process of leaving this Earth.

They have known about everything except the bathroom floor since this summer. The maintenance guy said contractors would be out to appraise the situation. But. Has anyone ever come out? Nope. And that completed work order? Said “floor is contractors”. Okay, does that mean that I am supposed to hire a contractor? Because it sure sounds like they are doing nothing about this. To wit: They have been putting lease renewal notices on my door, and they raise the rent each year. It seems to me that they have been in breach of this lease for half a year, because I did not sign a lease that said I agree to rent with unstable flooring. So, they are going to raise the rent, but not fix the floors. They are ignoring the floors. In fact, they have ignored my last THREE emails to them.

And let’s not even speak of the Black Mold that they have attempted to minimize by referring to it as “mildew”. Is mildew black and does it creep through surfaces into other surfaces? Like the picture of my deceased parents which I gave them for a milestone anniversary while they were still alive which they were thrilled by and which was very sentimental to me, and now covered with black mold that traveled through the back of the frame from the wall and further until it is now covering and ruining this picture?

Hi, I’m looking for Horton because I am a dust speck and apparently that elephant will be the only one that can hear me.

By the way – mortality rate on right-sided heart failure, the first thing mentioned on Google regarding a swollen left ankle? Less than a year to five years at best.

For over a month I have been able to count every single one of my heart beats without taking my pulse, because my body throbs in time with them, as if I have just finished an intense workout.

I went yesterday for a nuclear stress test, and after over an hour total, waiting for my doctor to fax an Rx with my actual name on it, I was informed that the insurance company refuses to authorize the test.

At least I got the knee x-rayed on my deformed, turned-the-wrong-way leg from the treatment I received for a broken ankle four years ago.

Also. I have lost five cats this year. Five. Most recently, the love of my life, Milhouse, my smart (though they are all/were smart) extra special guy. Before that, in September, Momo, who I thought would be the last one standing, my also quite special guy. And my heart is broken. I have a mausoleum on my bookshelves of kitty urns, footprints, and the ashes of my parents, representing a huge chunk of my loved ones.

And now I am concerned about Bear. He is not acting right. He is not eating much at all, is suddenly lethargic, seems depressed and not like himself. He needs to go to the vet. So does Tiny – she is a week away from being out of thyroid meds, putting her again at risk for a heart attack due to her sped-up, hyperthyroid-ed out metabolism. And I am a broke bitch. How do I do this?

And all this stress is so good for the heart. Oh, wait…

This is all some fucked-up bullshit, to use a technical term. And I really do not know how much more I can take, frankly.

I have no family to help advocate my cause(s). I am my only advocate. And unfortunately, the fact that my advocate has several psychiatric diagnoses sort of ruins my advocate’s credibility with these people. They just assume that I’m being histrionic, I guess. That is certainly what it seems like.

And. I have not been able to do my work for a month and a half now, because of these health problems and grief issues. So money issues. And big vet bills have been the norm for months now, with most of my kitties dying on me at once.

And ooh, I just noticed that to the right of this rant, there is an article from Science Daily, and the headline reads, “Chronic Adversity Can Dampen Dopamine Production.” Wonderful.

Fuck me running.

I am so anxious.

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After Everything, No Turtle Wax

I have been sick in one form or another this entire month. I’ve been in the hospital. I’ve been to the ER. I will likely be going to Urgent Care today. This is pretty much the first time in a while that I have been able to sit up for longer than a few minutes without just keeling over. There has been a cardiac issue, phlebitis from an improperly inserted IV (confidential to “Mean Eric” from the ER: it’s a vein, not a fucking balloon animal), a bad reaction to a flu shot, a now-you-feel-it now-you-don’t oh-wait-bitch-now-you-do-again UTI, what I’m guessing is an actual flu-shot-tempered-flu – but hey, I have no idea, because I could have become physically dependent on a shrink-prescribed-for-anxiety benzo and the withdrawal syndrome includes flu-like symptoms (if the grand mals don’t get you first) – severe pelvic pain, and headaches so intensely painful, when I try to think of a way to describe them, I just see Glenn with that popped-out eyeball, rasping, “Maggie, I’ll find you”, before Negan brings Lucille down for the final, fatal blow.

Welcome to Wheel of Symptoms, the game show with no consolation prize.

Having been unable to do anything income-generating for the entire month of October, my finances are completed fucked. I have to break in here and laugh bitterly at the use of the word ‘finances’, as that word sounds so high-rollin’. ‘Finances’ seems like a word you use when you can afford things like regular haircuts and transportation. Nonetheless, ‘finances’ it is, because ‘schmoney’ doesn’t really convey the gravity of my dilemma.

Is my failing health because of the black mold overtaking my apartment? Is it the aforementioned possible benzo dependency?  Is it all the stress on my shoulders? Are all systems failing because I am in the process of dying? Is it that fucking statue Greg found on the beach in Hawaii? A combination of all of the above? I consulted Dr. Google, as well as the Magic 8 Ball that I programmed while learning Basic Javascript, but surprisingly, came up with no definitive answers.

Meanwhile, it appears that I may be truly and sincerely fucked.

You see, on top of all this “supine on the broken futon of ill health” fun, I have seriously failing dental work, thanks to the growth of something called a “bony tumor”. This will require surgery to remove as it is unseating my dental situation and eating has become extremely painful. Fixing this is going to cost around $5K. I don’t think I have ever even SEEN $5K. I have heard that this number exists, but it sounds kinda suspect.

If I don’t get this dental situation fixed, I can not only kiss eating goodbye, but say adios to the structure of my face as well. Which is going to lead to wonderful treatment by others, I’m sure, because you know how awesome our society is to unattractive people. If you don’t, allow me – with my lifetime of experience in that department – to clue you in. They are not. If you don’t meet a particular standard of appearance – which does indeed include possessing teeth – it’s a fast track to a Freaky Friday-type situation with Gregor from Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, which is to say you have the lovability factor of a fucking cockroach, and about as much chance of not being squished in disgust.

Three cats need blood tests. One cat needs his bottle of insulin. I sure as fuck could use a medical marijuana card to deal with my PTSD and all of this stress (this last thing, though, is a luxury, something to ease my ailing mental state. Currently, I’m sober as a… um… well, we can’t really complete that sentence with ‘judge’ anymore, can we? My point is, though, I’m not blowing my meager funds on The Pusher Man. Slumlords always get the first entry on the dance card. This is an important rule to follow, as homelessness makes it a bit more difficult to complain about your miserable life on the internet).

I’ve been up since 3 a.m. talking myself down from the ledge. It is now 7:12 a.m. I’m too drained, my brain is too scrambled, and my throat is too sore to tell if this has actually worked. There is a handsome cat who has insisted on holding my hand under his paw as I sleep for weeks now, because we are telepathic together and he knows I’m going through it (he is the one who needs the insulin – why the fuck is insulin over $300? If I were Carrie White, man…  the Dangerous Mind Power Carnage would be a sight to see around Lantus Town, trust).

So okay. Time to sleep, until another “you have to pee” nightmare wakes me up, an hour from now. The last one featured Susan Sarandon performing solo sex acts in a Walmart in a manner so horrific that it actually did not even get close to qualifying as a Sex Dream but instead sped like a bat out of hell right to Bad Dream classification. I don’t remember what department she was in. I’ll guess Ladieswear? Whatever. She’s on the Dream Grudge list and I’m never looking at her the same way again.

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A Roundup that won’t give you cancer…

FILLER WATCH: The latest to succumb to the Juvederm/Restylane/Filler-Of-The-Month succubi are Maggie Haberman and, surprisingly, Asha Rangappa. Yes, they look good. Damned. Good. Yes, I covet their damned injectable hyaluronic acid. But alas (and alack), injectables are like the new Logan’s Run with class separation thrown in for (debatably) good measure.

wrinkles the clownEVIL CLOWN WATCH: Hailing from – where else? – Florida, WRINKLES THE CLOWN is an eponymous documentary about its subject, a creepy AF clown that unfit parents hire to terrorize their children. It’s also a look in general at the place clowns have taken in pop culture and in folklore, the desire that some other kids with actual decent upbringings have to scare the hell out of themselves, and a look into the mindset and mission statement of the anonymous-for-his-own-safety entity underneath the eyeless Michael Myers-esque clown mask and blousy polka-dotted onesie. If you can get through the completely horrific wails of the terrified children in the background of Wrinkles’ voicemails from parents using him as a punitive device in place of genuine parenting, it’s a pretty fascinating – and creepy – documentary.

“YOU GOTTA HAVE HEART” WATCH: Currently available via HBO, you can catch Gary Gulman’s The Great Depresh – which is the best comedic special about mental illness I’ve seen since Chris Gethard’s Career Suicide (also available on HBO). Gary is an amazing guy as well as a spot-on comedian. Every day, he tweets out tips for hopeful new comics to encourage them to WRITE. And they are some damn fine tips (for example, he urges them to read “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the finest essays going on how to be unapologetically yourself, and conform to no other standards than your own – which is so important to comedians, especially in the face of attempted censorship).

GALAXY MIND WATCH: Feeling a little woo-woo? Want some words every day that you can project your own stuff onto that ISN’T a horoscope? Want to be occasionally freaked out by how uncannily accurate something randomly is? Sign up for Notes From The Universe. It’s been the first email I read every weekday morning – even when I’m too damn insane to read anything else – for several years now. I’ve gotten a lot out of it. You might, too. What the hell, it’s free, why not?

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Suspended in Amber & Slipping Through Cracks

11 years ago I had a total psychotic break. It lasted for 4 months. I was never hospitalized.

Instead, I ended up homeless and living in a garage where, my first morning there, my adoptive sister tried to choke me out and had to be pulled off of me. This was because I was not able to drive her daughter to the bus stop less than a block away. Because I was in psychosis. I got choked because I could not drive because I was in psychosis and therefore not safe to drive, because you kind of need a sense of reality to drive, at least in some cases.

I lived in the garage for 2 months, sleeping on a couch with bad springs, surrounded by my boxes of possessions that had come from the apartment I’d lost, the nicest apartment I’d ever lived in, the place I still think of as home. It was winter, and the electricity was shut off because this garage was attached to the house my adoptive sister was renting, and she decided to move out. No, she didn’t care that there was an ill person subsisting in the garage. She left, and I was there with no electricity, freezing cold in the dark, still coming down from the psychotic break.

I was given medication that made me sleep over 15 hours a day and gain 50 lbs. There was no therapy. That would come later, in false starts, with bad therapists, including one who would tell me, based on my history of chronic abuse and trauma, “You will never be happy, and you will never be functional”, because that was apparently her version of therapeutic. Those words still haunt me to this day. I wonder, was she right?

I moved from the garage into an attic apartment that was infested by rats that ran by me as I slept on the floor. From there I found an apartment that I was able to afford on disability – I could afford exactly rent and electric and nothing more. My adoptive sister tried to have me evicted from this apartment, by calling and lodging many false complaints against me, saying that she could smell my cats in her apartment next door – she of course did not live next door and the entire thing was a lie – and had a couple of her friends call pretending to be other neighbors with the same complaint. She did this because I caught her stealing my mom’s Oxycontin on Christmas Eve, and I was honest with my mother about what had happened. What would you have done? Protected the person who broke into your mother’s home to steal her pain medication that she desperately needed, or be honest about what happened? I did the latter, and was nearly homeless again as a result.

Over the next decade, a lot of things happened. Doctors denied me my medication. I couldn’t find a psychiatrist – none in the area were taking patients – there literally was not a single psychiatrist taking insurance who would accept a new patient in the entire city. A psychiatrist fired me, because I complained about the therapist who said I’d never be happy or functional (she worked in the same office, and I told the office manager, who yelled at me. I was fired for “noncompliance”.) My adoptive sister systematically brought my elderly parents down with a thousand tiny cuts and several hundred deep ones, a constant supply of stress and threats and ultimatums if they did not do as she wished. My father died suddenly. My mother dissolved into profound grief and heartbreak from which she never recovered. I could do nothing to help, because I was so sick, and because I had no control over what happened to her, no way to stop the machinations of evil that my sister (and now her daughter) perpetrated on my fragile mom.

And I had no financial means to help, either. My father had died leaving only a very small insurance policy that was quickly eaten up by cremation expenses and bills and an ill-fated used car purchase that my mother insisted on making because she wanted me to have a safe vehicle. The car was a lemon. I should never have let her do it. I tried to argue against it. I look back now and I am sickened that I allowed her to spend money that should have been kept for her own well-being on something to benefit me. It makes me disgusted with myself, and ashamed.

My rent increased each year, and continued to increase. Each year the struggle to get by became more difficult.  A dear friend offered to move in to help out. I accepted, giving him the bedroom I never used, because due to my PTSD, I could only sleep in the living room, where the front door is, because what if someone broke in and I didn’t hear it? My hyper-vigilance demanded this accommodation, even though now I really wish I had a bedroom.

Then my mom died. I lost my best friend.

None of the therapists I saw could help me. None of them ever even brought up my psychotic break. You’d think that would be a topic of conversation at some point, but apparently, no. I went therapist to therapist, searching for someone who would understand, and also, for someone who would fucking listen. Because these therapists all shared the same trait: they’d listen to the first part, then assume they knew everything, and ‘give advice’ based on that. Which, you know, first off, giving advice is not really therapy. Anyone can give advice. If that worked, no one would need therapy. Secondly, I’ve been through so many things, and there is so much detail to all of them because of the way my mind has processed these things, that I am like an onion, with many layers, and all of those layers need to be taken into account. You can’t read a few pages of a book and know the story.

They would also try to fit me into some pre-fab notion of what a “normal person” is, instead of helping me to understand and accept who it is that I actually am, and work with THAT person, with the person I actually happen to be and not the person they thought I should be. Any treatment plan based on changing who I am as a person will fail. A successful treatment plan is one that works with my strengths, works on my weaknesses, gives me tools to deal with real situations that arise. A treatment plan based in reality. None of these people had it. One therapist even told me that my treatment plan was “none of [my] business”.

During all of this time, I have not once had the time to recuperate, to heal, to process what I went through. I have not been successful in efforts to build a routine again, to be part of the world again. Because I have been struggling financially, always stressed about how to pay things, how to get heavy things like kitty litter HERE because I have no car, how to supplement the unsustainable amount that has not grown commensurate with inflation. And I have been struggling, every day, with just how to get through the day, when I am plagued by flashbacks of lifelong abuse by so many different people, and jarred by so many bad memories, and self-recriminations for things I should have done differently, things I did wrong, things for which I should be and am ashamed. In short, struggling to stay on the planet. To stay alive.

Through this I have been fumbling, trying in vain to create a routine to follow, to do things that are healthy and “self-care”, to right my thinking on my own since I have no professional assistance that is not derelict*; trying fruitlessly to fight the bad voices that make me despair and try to convince me to just give up. I have kept going, my knuckles white from gripping onto whatever might tether me to this realm.

The truth of it is, though, that I have spent 11 years in this living room, not getting better.

I have tried so hard to get better. I have done so many different things. I have adjusted my attitude – as much as someone with severe mental illness can – so many times.

I’m not getting better. I have never had a chance to get better.

I have never heard of someone who had a psychotic break who was not hospitalized. But then there’s me. This makes sense, though. Because I was in a car wreck where I was thrown 75 feet and no one even bothered to check me for a concussion. And all the bad experiences with doctors in general – from psychiatric to medical. A continual pattern of disregard.

Things like this, they give me the message that I really, and truly, do not matter.

I wish more than anything I could have just a few months, where I didn’t have to worry about financial survival, where I could actually and finally focus on getting well, or at least better. Where I could look again for a therapist and hopefully find a good one, and concentrate on going to therapy a few times a week. Focus on building a new routine, a new life. Find myself again, in such a way that I don’t disappear and I don’t fall apart every morning, the way I do now.

Because right now, every morning of every day, I wake up a sobbing shambles, a complete mess, paralyzed, not sure what to do, and haunted by so much bad shit in my brain that it physically hurts. The anxiety is so bad I have to take a benzo and then I have to ingest huge amounts of caffeine to stay awake, and also to keep myself awash in enough temporary dopamine that I don’t just say, “That’s it, I’m done, I can’t do this anymore.”

I’m on all the medication that they can give me. So many pills. It does work. It does its job. But it isn’t enough. You can’t just medicate trauma away, you can’t medicate your brain into processing and parsing things and assimilating them into your narrative in such a way that you can go on comfortably.

They always say, if you are down, ask for help. Reach out. I have done that, over and over again. I have done that to the point where I now wonder, have they changed the spelling or the pronunciation of the word “help” and I just didn’t get the memo? Am I speaking the correct language? Or is it as I suspect, deep down, that when it comes down to it, I really don’t matter?

Eleven years have passed away, been wasted, sitting in this living room on this futon upon which I sleep. I don’t want it to be this way. I am willing to put in the work, and I have been from the very start – ever since I tried to kill myself the first time when I was 8 years old, and no one believed that I was depressed because a person is supposed to pull themselves up by those bootstraps, those fucking bootstraps that every mentally ill person would love to brandish at the people who suggest that the Road to Wellness is merely a matter of eschewing some indolence they seem to think we have.

Motherfucker, if I could pull up some metaphorical out-of-current-parlance item to fix myself, don’t you think I would have done that ELEVEN YEARS AGO? Because who among us wants eleven years of their life to just disappear with nothing to show for them? Who?

I have spent time focusing on small problems in order to avoid the biggest one, the hydra-headed one that follows me around like the dust cloud follows Pig-Pen from Peanuts. But all problems lead to one end, and it is this one. The Big One.

I never had time to get better. And so I never have. And things just keep getting more and more log-jammed, in my head, and in my life, and I am overwhelmed.

I am studying coding, in an attempt to make something of this life. But I know that unless I get the actual Life stuff sorted out, it’s not going to help. I have to be a person who is reliable and focused, not someone who has to put themselves back together every morning from scratch.

How the fuck will I ever get there, when my main focus must be survival? What I have to do to survive, it’s not healthy for me in myriad ways. And better still, people judge me harshly for doing it. A cherry atop the melted sundae of all the thoughts of the potential I had as a child, and the possibility of what might have been.

It’s hard sometimes to hear parents discuss parenting with other parents. They are all so focused on their children’s welfare. Their lives appear to be centered around parenting, and being parents. They think about things like which school is best, and how it will affect their child’s future. Their kids are involved in school activities and have friends and don’t have to lie about the stuff that happens at home. And their kids don’t seem to be randomly insulted by people on the street for no reason. It’s like, if I squint my mind’s eye I can almost see that kind of life, where every day is the same, there is a routine and you follow it, and you make progress in things, and your parents know what’s going on in your schooling, and the idea of you going to college isn’t considered ridiculous or impossible or simply “off the table” but instead a real fucking thing. Where you say “I want to do this creative thing for a living” and you don’t hear back, “You’ll never make a living doing that” as the very first response to your giving voice to a dream. Where you know how to plan out things, because you have confidence that the future you are planning is actually going to happen.

Oh, yeah;. And where no one hits you or beats you with a belt or molests you or psychologically tortures you day in and day out. That, too.  And where you can have friends over and know everything will be okay, that there won’t be some horrible scene coming out of nowhere that will end with someone threatening to throw you out of the house to live on the street. Where you can say, “Yeah, this teacher was kinda a jerk”, and know that later on, no one in your family is going to be calling that teacher and threatening to put a bomb in her car.

My parents loved me. But my dad was psychotic for most of my childhood, and neither he nor my mom protected me from the adoptive sister, who was and is a violent sociopath. And they were so busy reacting to her every fucked-up move, that there was no room for anything, or anyone, else.

I don’t know what else to say. I have to try to figure out how to make this day worth something now. I have been crying all morning. I am surrounded by used tissues and I can no longer breathe through my nose. And these tears and this Everything has fucked up a day where I needed to try to do something to earn some money to pay for the ever-growing list of things that need to be paid for, some of which – like redoing my teeth so my facial bone structure doesn’t cave in – will probably never be possible.

This is the truth about my life. Along with so very much else that remains unsaid.

 

*ETA: my shrink is a good shrink. It is the 15-minute hour, though, and just medication, so I didn’t count him among the therapists and doctors I grouped together as derelict. But I wanted to acknowledge him, and say that without him, I would not be here.

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Better Living Through Chemistry

For a time now, I’ve been avoiding following my psychiatrist’s advice when it came to taking my Klonopin on a regular basis in order to deal with my massive amounts of anxiety. He’s been wanting me to take 1 mg three times a day. Usually I take .25mg as needed and it calms me down, .5 if I am really freaking out. 1 mg will knock my ass out. I haven’t been able to imagine what it would be like to take that dose three times a day. I’m assuming I’d be rendered comatose.

But since I have been in such a deep depressive funk, accompanied by this frenetic panic, I have started taking the quarter Klonopin three times a day, and I think I am ready to move up to a half. It seems to be helping. I’m still worried about becoming dependent on it, but the shrink says that if I need to go off of it, I would be tapering down and that shouldn’t be an issue. We’ll see. In the meantime, the benefits are outweighing the dangers.

This new regimen is allowing me some objective distance from my emotions. It’s not a ton of distance, but enough to get a bit more clarity. I’m starting to see what I can do to clear out some of the overwhelm that I feel. I need to add creativity and recreation to my life, instead of thinking I’ve always got to be focused on the struggle. My coding is becoming much clearer as well. I’m starting to get the hang of things I was completely clueless about. It’s cheering me up.

This is all relatively new, and by no means is it enough. I have a long way to go.  I’m trying to learn how to live life again. I need to find a routine gain, and balance. Mostly, I am trying to heal a little. Or a lot, preferably, if that’s possible.

Again, we’ll see.

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The Body Indeed Keeps The Score

I can’t do it anymore.

I tried to force myself. I tried so fucking hard to force myself. And I became physically ill. It’s like my body is saying, Enough.

This happened once before. I was doing so poorly mentally at the time, and in a bad environment, and my body rebelled, Suddenly, I was projectile vomiting like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. For weeks. I couldn’t even keep down Gatorade. And my therapist at the time – I was fortunate enough then to actually have a good one – said that my body was literally trying to cast off all of the bad things I had internalized.

Well, it’s happening again. I’m not projectile vomiting, yet. But I’m nauseated, my body aches, all of the energy feels drained out of me, I’m getting insanely intense headaches that don’t respond to NSAIDs. So now it’s not just the panic attacks that have been hounding me as of late. It’s not just the feeling of being creatively dead, of being a hack with no integrity, of never being able to speak my actual mind, of losing my identity to this thing I don’t even enjoy doing (but that I have to pretend that I do enjoy doing, because when you sell your soul for pennies on the dollar, you need every fucking penny.) It is literally physical shit that is PREVENTING me from doing this.

I seriously tried so hard. Because I need the money to pay my bills. I don’t know how I’m going to pay my bills. I am not well enough to work outside my home. I was never even hospitalized after having a four month long psychotic break. I am sitting here sobbing because I don’t know what the fuck I am going to do. This job has wrecked me. I am not well at all. I straight up need help, I need healing. But there is none of that for me. I have to figure out what to do. I have to figure out how I’m going to feed my cats, pay my utilities, pay the vet bills, pay for Milhouse’s insulin and Tramadol and thyroid meds, how to pay for my SHRINK.

I was in the middle of doing a clip and I just could not finish it. I couldn’t because I was about to throw up. I’ve never felt like I felt yesterday. It was frightening. And what this experience leaves me with is frightening, too. I needed to work my ass off the rest of this month. I need the money so badly. I have to get Tiny to the vet. I have to pay the part of my rent that my disability does not cover, and my utilities, and my shrink appt is at the beginning of the month. But now I am completely fucked. I needed to make miracles happen this last week of the month.  But now, they are not going to happen.

I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m in a panic. I’m trying to think of options, but what options does a severely mentally ill woman, who isn’t able to work outside her home and is still trying to get better so actually shouldn’t be working in the first place, have? Because I can’t think of any realistic ones.

All I know is that my body won’t let me do this. It no longer wants to actively participate in an endeavor where the main draw is that I am slowly dying.

A woman gets sexually harassed at work – hey, maybe by a famous comedian who whips it out, let’s say – and the world is in an uproar. But a disabled woman has to work a job where she is objectified and where she is told on the reg that her only value is damaged lungs and mortality. Crickets.

You know, when people want you to die, and you’ve got a long history of trauma and abuse, and a few co-morbid mental illnesses, that isn’t good for you. That makes you turn in the “Let’s walk into the waves” direction. The “Hey, that ledge looks pretty fuckin’ good” path. Because hey, if that’s my only value in this world, should I not have at that then? It’s a really hard thought to fight. Particularly when I have no idea how I’m going to survive now.

And in this, too, is the knowledge that some people, upon finding out that this is my situation, that I am a (reluctant as FUCK) smoking fetish girl, will judge me harshly and unfollow me, block me, isolate and ostracize instead of understand that this is all I could do to get by. They make me feel like this is what I deserve. And the people that want me to die make me feel that’s also what I deserve, because THAT’S ALL I’M GOOD FOR.

And I probably do deserve it. I pandered to them, because I needed to survive. I have no family. There is nowhere to go if I lose my place on the couch, nowhere for my cats to go. I’ve been trying hard to learn to code, have gotten a couple of certificates but don’t yet know enough to work as a web dev, but my focus is annihilated because the issue of survival is pressing, and even if it weren’t, I simply cannot learn quickly enough to solve this immediate problem.

I need help. I need to get better. I can’t do this anymore. But I have no idea how the fuck I am going to keep me and my kitties going. And panic is not something that helps you think clearly.

Fuck.

There is the panic about the future.

And then there is the fact that this, all of this, hurts more than I can ever describe.

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Hitting the Wall Like Lachrymose Spaghetti

NOTE: I wrote this two days ago. The positivism of it isn’t really a thing I am feeling today, but I thought I should post it nonetheless in case there is anything in here that might help someone. I haven’t proofread it, and it might be ridiculous and suck. You’ve been warned.

Excuse me while I have a talk with myself and get my fucking head on straight here.

Today started under the general category of Bad Brain Day but so far has been taking things several steps further down the spiral. It has essentially been a morning and early afternoon of bathrobe wearing, Klonopin taking, caffeinated beverage drinking, and copious crying. Also, cartoons.

Had I created a band this afternoon, its name would be Fumbling for Distress Tolerance.

This is not the sort of depressive episode that only hijacks you cognitively, giving you those hopeless gloomy thoughts. Nor is it the merely the type that demotivates you and leaves you apathetic and paralyzed. No, this is all that and more. This is that New and Improved Different Shit. With this sort of downward spiral, you get the added bonus of that literally physical pain in your very core, the one that feels like the deepest heartache, the most profound, fresh grief. And even if there is not one single negative thought or triggering rumination running through your mind, this feeling can be enough to make you search out the nearest ledge. It can be that painful, that intense.

Throughout today’s joyride through the darkest recesses of my soul, there have been a litany of things running through one part of my brain, this tiny little healthy part that I try to nurture and grow. Because it seems to inexplicably know more than I do. What it’s doing in my brain, I have no idea. But in this one part of my brain are thoughts of different things I might be doing to take my mind off of the panic and the feeling like I’m going to burst out of my skin from this all-encompassing torpor within me. And though I can recognize that these things might be good and distracting, the caveat is that they would be good and distracting for someone who isn’t feeling so absolutely desperate for a relief from this ravaged core feeling they cannot even name.

I understand where the feeling is coming from. I’ve hit a wall. The ‘job’ I do to survive, to be able to pay the light bill and internet, has completely sucked all of the life out of me.  I feel utterly empty. When you cannot do your job any better because you have no budget to put into it, when everything you do looks the same and so every time you do it, it’s just this redundant crap over and over again, you feel like a hack. People look at your output and think that is the best you are capable of. But it isn’t. You could do a lot more, if, say, you had a fucking bedroom, for instance. But, pipe dreams, etc. Impossibility exists.

So the thing that feeds my soul – creativity, Art – is now alien to me. It has vacated the premises. I have done everything I can with what I have right here. If there is more that can be done, I can no longer see it, because my retinas are burned out from witnessing the atomic annihilation of my artistic integrity.

It’s not just that, of course. Mental illness does factor in. I am the only person I’ve read about so far that had a psychotic break and was never hospitalized for it. In fact, I never received any counseling for it, either. Of all the many therapists I saw after my break, not one ever said, “So you had a psychotic break, you wanna talk about that?” Not even the cliched, “How does that make you feel?” And there was no time off. It was basically – have psychotic break that lasts for four months until someone finally notices when I become homeless, live in a garage for 1 month with an abusive relative who tries to strangle me and then for 2 months without electricity during a winter it was actually cold in Florida, get put on an anti-psychotic that makes me sleep 15 hours a day and gain at least 50 lbs, finally find an apartment and hit the ground running to survive. No time off to process the experience, or figure out what the fuck happened, or heal/get better. Just break down, then go.

And I think that my brain and my body are finally rebelling against that, 11 years later. I’ve been struggling to figure things out and scrambling just to get by, all the while walking around like this open, weeping wound, consistently reaching up to keep the mask from slipping. The “It’s okay, I’m fine” mask that we mentally ill learn to wear, lest we fatigue those around us and in turn fatigue ourselves when we’re then on the receiving end of well-meaning but wholly unhelpful advice, like, “You should exercise.” Dear Darling Person, if I could do that, my ass would be off of this couch right now doing something productive. The problem is not that I need exercise. The problem is that I’m fucking STUCK, nailed down by hopelessness and anxiety, paralyzed by depression and anhedonia. “You need to think positive thoughts.” Well, see, that’s part of the problem. Telling someone in the throes of a depressive episode to think positively is like telling a diabetic to think their blood sugar to a manageable level, or someone with cancer to just stop having cancer. Wouldn’t it be grand if it really did work that way?

Believe me, I have tried to talk to this disease. I have reasoned with it. I have bought it presents. Shown it flash cards. Given it all the medication under the sun. The last thing helps rein it in a bit, and gives me some time here and there where I can actually breathe without it looming over me like the Sword of Damocles. But, at least at this point in history, there does not appear to be a single cure-all that takes this away from a person. This is a lifelong sort of thing, at least for me. And as such, that means learning to ride the waves of it without getting sucked under and drowning.

If you’re me – which, hey, count your lucky stars – one thing that’s helpful, is to plan ahead. In those flashes of light, those times when you are actually feeling good, you make a fucking plan. You make a list of stuff to stick around for and why. You figure out what things could be good distractions from the tornado making sticks and debris out of your innards. For me, the Cleveland Show sometimes helps, because it’s calming and there is not a single thing in any of the episodes that triggers me into remembering something icky. If there are medications that help bring you down from the ledge, you make sure you have those on hand, and you tell yourself over and over that should the time come, you will make sure to take them in the PROPER AMOUNTS, and you tell yourself this over and over so you make a new groove in your brain, a new little autopilot circuit which will hopefully kick in when everything up there is in chaos and on fire. Maybe you put together a little emergency box full of distracting toys and snacks and – hell, I don’t know, coloring books? – that will bring you some comfort in the dark. (I haven’t actually done that one yet but it doesn’t seem like a bad idea.)

You can also make a list for friends and/or relatives, a “These things are helpful when I am in a bad way” sort of list, that explains what they can say to be helpful, and what they should avoid so as not to accidentally make things worse. You make sure that you have that support system in the first place, someone – or preferably several someones in case the first one isn’t available – that you can call on if you need to talk, or if you’re feeling panicky and need help. You wrack your brain trying to come up with any little thing to trick yourself into hanging on. You think of any fucking thing you can, any tiny little hack, that might – when added to other tiny little hacks – be enough to keep you on this planet until the shit passes.

And you do all of this when you feel GOOD, when you think, “Oh, I will never need any of this shit, because I am FINALLY on the road to recovery.” Because part of recovery is knowing that sometimes it’s two steps forward, one step back, when recovery is a process instead of an endpoint.

And you keep some coffee on hand – Doubleshots are not a bad idea, they can be stored in the fridge so they’re ready to go – because it only takes 1 cup of coffee to keep you from killing yourself, this is what you’ve read, you can’t remember where. You just know it’s true. It works. Only, because Klonopin is your spirit animal during such tough times, you usually have more than just one Doubleshot. Because Klonopin makes you sleepy, and depression does the same thing. And while sleep is sometimes a good escape, you notice that sometimes it just makes you feel worse, because of all the wasted time, because wasted time has suddenly – as time seems to pass more and more quickly – become a big deal.

And when the dark times come, if you can do it – you might not be able to, and that’s understandable, and it’s okay, it’s the nature of the beast – you try like hell to find the humor in things. Because humor makes things so much more survivable.

The thing to TRY to remember is, just because you can see the horizon line, doesn’t mean you can see the whole world. There are things out there you cannot imagine. And so it is with your own life. There are things that lie beyond that metaphorical horizon line of which you cannot conceive, and some of them just may be worth sticking around for. You just can’t know for sure.

This is what I am telling myself, so that I can hang on. I’m telling myself that there is more than what I am able to visualize at the moment. I choose to believe I am correct in this – it is absolutely a conscious decision to be of this opinion, because it is in my best interest. I’ve gone through too much pain to give up now. I’m going to make it worth something. Which is all stuff that was decided during a healthier time, that I branded into my brain over and over, and propped up with gratitude for the good things in my life during the times I am able to feel it.

Surprisingly, there’s enough of an imprint made that I get through, or have, so far, and it passes. The coffee kicks in, the meds help, the storm somehow moves out because the fickle chemicals decide to change their dance steps.

And, because I am Bipolar Type 2, the depression will roar on back at some point or another – probably sooner than later, truthfully, because my job is really killing me, for reasons I have not mentioned here, so I am more susceptible to downward swings. And when it does, I will do my best, and I will tell myself it will pass, and I will more than likely cry my eyes out while fervently believing that actually it will NOT pass, but I will make myself stick around anyway, because that’s what I do now.

I tell myself that it’s gonna be okay – even if I don’t completely believe it – and I white knuckle it, I use whatever hacks I have mapped out, I cry until I can’t breathe through my nose anymore, and I just hang on.

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