Tag Archives: mental illness

My Brain is Quicksand (triggers abound, TL;DR)

Full disclosure: this post sucks. It is sad and it is poorly written and it is probably more than a little whiny. Abandon fifteen minutes to the waaah-mbulance, all ye who enter here.

 

I am not well.

I am struggling and stuck and I don’t know how to move through it into a place where I am not struggling and stuck.

I need to shoot clips today, because I am so broke, and my clips total is so small this month it will not even cover my electric and internet. There is no question – today needs to be a shoot day. But unless I am doing crying fetish or something, shooting today is looking less and less likely. And that makes me cry harder because I really need to do this, and i just can’t.

I can’t face myself on a camera today. If I were just a shell, then sure, it’d be no problem. But I am not just a shell. My core is volcanic: flourescent, burning, explosive. Painful as hell. But as much as I am burning down to ash inside, there is no fire to spare, no heat to throw into my work. You cannot really channel this kind of feeling into a video clip that – even though my shrink euphemistically says I am a ‘performance artist’, there really is no way around this – is intended to get someone off. No matter how graceful or poised or put together (and these adjectives are, to my mind at this moment, laughable, because I am none of these things, I am a fucking mess), there is no channeling this kind of angst into a smoking fetish clip. I am sure that some could think of ways to do that, but would they be successful at their intended purpose as well? Is life-overturning angst sexy? I don’t think it is, in the way that the audience would want it to be. Who wants to see someone contemplating their existence in the most negative of ways in this sort of scenario? Why commit that to video unless that itself is the focus?

Doing a documentary short about my insanity would probably be in some way healing. To be able to talk about these things that, quoting Eliot, I “too much discuss, too much explain” in my head. Always in my head, this torpor. It’s really hard to live with it. But it’s even harder to get work done when things are like this. How could i even face a camera? My eyes grow more swollen by the minute, my nose is probably in Rudolph territory. And how do you project ‘sexy’ when you hate yourself?

Marilyn Monroe used to spend hours in her dressing room, frustrating her director and fellow actors to no end, because she could not pull herself out of there to do the work until she had enough time to get herself together and possibly take some sort of prescriptive assistance and a bit of champagne. And I think I know the feeling. Not to compare myself to one of the most beautiful women who ever lived. I’m a far fucking cry from even being in that area code, let alone on that street. But our tears are very similar. They are made from the same stuff. A lifetime of being made to feel bad and crazy and worthless, separated from blood family to be raised by people who seemed to resent this duty a lot of the time. I don’t know that she felt everything I feel or that I feel everything she felt. But I see the parallels. I see the panic and frustration and lack of patience with self and feeling of “how can I ever do this?” and some days she just couldn’t, and when she could she may or may not have been under the influence of something to help her out. I don’t have the luxury of getting myself blotto to the point where I don’t feel my emotions, to the point of relieved numbness. I have cats that need insulin shots and their meals are on a schedule.

I see the differences too. She did not have to worry about having enough money to pay her rent. She was beloved by many people. She got out of the fucking house once in a while. She took acting classes. These things don’t cure but they fucking help so much. If I didn’t have to worry about money, just for a short time, perhaps I could see a therapist and get some help. Perhaps I could work on a creative project that would actually be therapeutic and perhaps somewhat healing. I could do the work on working through part of the enormous pile of traumatic experiences that haunt me every fucking day. Because so much of each day is spent in that metaphorical dressing room, trying to process things to the point where I can move again, trying to give myself pep talks that land flat, trying to duck the feeling of impending doom that makes up a lot of my emotional landscape during these times.

These are the days when every act of cruelty is front and center, every dark word that condemned flashes in neon in my mind’s eye, and the echoes of emotion ricochet off the walls of my skull like some perverse, never-ending game of mental Pong. I remember the people who told me I should kill myself – there was more than one and these were so-called “friends” against whom I never committed a sin greater than briefly expressing my distress, I had done them no worse than not-quite-forcing them to view a Facebook status message that said I wasn’t doing well. “Oh, what is it NOW?” one of them replied. Because clearly, if other people are in extremis, this is worth a look, but if I am in extremis, then I must be “doing it” – as if anyone would choose this – for attention or maybe just to bother THEM, judging from their reactions. After the third person told me, just kill yourself, I stopped using Facebook. Because if I want someone close to me to tell me I should just kill myself, all I have to do is call to memory when my dad was in a lot of pain and angry at the girl I used to call my niece, and he took out his anger on me instead, and that is what he, too, said to me. “Why don’t you just go kill yourself!”

In my darkest moments I wonder if they are right. If I am just a waste. I feel like one. And like I am a really bad and unlovable person. Maybe I am even being punished. These are defeating thoughts, I know, the meta-part of my brain knows this. But I can’t push the feeling in the center of my chest and in my being away. And at a certain point how I actually feel doesn’t matter, because the big concern is that I HAVE TO FUCKING SHOOT CLIPS. And I have screwed that up royally for today with my lack of emotional regulation. Because my emotional regulatory powers are about as strong as walls made from spit and Kleenex (or the walls of this ramshackle termite-ridden apartment). Some days the floodgates collapse and I am stuck in all things bad.

I don’t want to die without having done something to help other people, without having some way made a mark in this world which leaves it a little better than I found it. (I’m talking about when I die naturally, lest anyone think this is a suicide note. It is not. I am stuck in the Hell in my head but I am not ready to give up.)

I can’t give up on the clip-making, either, because I have no other way to survive (ironic, ain’t it? Killing myself to live). If I had an option to do this or else do something that I am actually good at, what I would choose is pretty obvious.

The problem – the big one besides Existence Itself – is the continuing. I don’t know how to do it. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to crack this. I have officially fucked up shooting today by crying my eyes mega-swollen and making my lash extensions that were a birthday gift all twisted and shedding in ways that make my eyes look strange and altogether unshootable. So I will try again tomorrow, when the swelling has gone down, and hope I can make the lashes work, otherwise it will be after Thursday, when my friend is going to fix them for me. And it is almost the end of the month and I’m not even a quarter of where I need to be in clip sales (I’m at $170 for the month and I need to be at least four times that to barely squeak by on my bills, not including all the vet stuff for the kitties, and Milhouse needs another blood test). I should be five or six shoots deep by this point. And I should be at least two thirds up to the minimum I need to earn. (I never surpass that minimum either. So add to all this extremis the feeling that I am not good enough to do my job, that no one is interested in what I create, that I am kidding myself doing this and that all the other girls that do are far better off than I am. Which is true if you look at their clips – they all have bedrooms, and beds, and rooms of their own. I live in the living room on a futon. Not exactly a come hither environment.)

The rest of this day I will kick myself for putting the finances yet another day behind and endangering my home on the futon. I will try to distract myself with mindfulness and study. I will try not to drown in the choppy sea of my emotions. I will try to keep myself together. And when my roommate comes home, I will act cheerful and agreeable and like absolutely nothing is wrong because that is how I do. My mom always told me, no one wants to hear it. And she was right.

I feel like I’m in the movie Open Water, and it’s only a matter of time before my legs give out from treading water and I sink under the murky blue and disappear forever. And that is not the kind of feeling you can keep in with any kind of success or positive result. It is the kind of feeling that eats at you and colors your internal narrative every moment of the day.

But I will tell you this: Just writing all of this helps. My problems are the very same as when I started writing this. Make no mistake, I am still simply FUCKED. I still feel like shit. But it really helps relieve the internal pressure to get them out.

~  ~  ~

I encourage anyone who is feeling stuck or like they are struggling to try to do the same. Write. Or if it’s easier, talk. If you have no one to talk to, call a crisis line. If you want, you can even chat with someone online. Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org – and if you need a treatment referral, contact the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-877-SAMHSA7 (726-4727) . And if you feel like you just can’t take anymore, please call 911.

Even with all my problems and bad programming, I swear, I promise, there IS good in this world, good in this life, beautiful moments both past and future, THERE IS BEAUTY IN THE WORLD. These are strange times. But in no way shape or form is everything lost.

There can still be hope.

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I Stand Corrected

I’ve been vocal in the past about alcohol and how it is a depressant – but I was apparently wrong about that. This study says that biochemically, a few drinks can act as well as rapid antidepressants (such as ketamine). An intoxicating level of alcohol turns GABA into a stimulator of neural activity as opposed to inhibitor, which is its normal role.

I just might start Day Drinking.

And after all the raving about Astaxanthin and Camp Hippo, wouldn’t you know, I completely and utterly FORGOT that I was doing this new regimen. I only remembered because Astaxanthin was in my tags. Completely went all the way out of my head. There must only be so much room in there.  (If you are wondering what the hell I’m talking about, click Camp Hippo in the tags)

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Kicking My Own Ass

I write about my mental illnesses here for a couple of different reasons. It’s cathartic, of course. It’s good to have the feeling (or illusion) of being “heard”. And I hope that people who have experienced similar things or suffer from similar maladies will feel a little less alone or fucked up because I have shared my experience. But I fail when it comes to being a resource for people.

I would like to be like Paul Gilmartin from the Mental Health Happy Hour podcast, who is profoundly supportive and offers people a forum in which to tell their stories. I would like to be like Rainn.org and psychcentral.com, offering assistance and resources. But I am like me, a fucked up person myself who is not very good at the moment at being what you might call a shoulder. I’m like me – a mentally ill person who struggles to get through each day and each night, in a degree of pain that does not allow me much patience, or knowledge of exactly how to help someone else in the pit of despair. In my better times, yeah, I could be helpful, I had the capacity and skill set. But now? I’m ashamed that I have so very little to give in that arena. It makes me feel like a bad person, when maybe I’m just a person that is, like other persons, imperfect, and not always able to do the things I wish I could.

I don’t have a proper or tidy way to end this post. This is just something I wanted to get off my chest, and now i have, aware that the world is unchanged by my solipsistic posts on my solipsistic blog.

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Doctors Without Hearts (TL;DR)

doctors without heartsI’m still trying to recover from the year and eight months I was without medication. I experienced so many hellish side effects. And you know, it’s funny, writing that line was really hard, saying I experienced hellish side effects was very difficult, because first of all, it’s an enormous understatement about what I went through. Then, secondly, it was hard to write because my brain tells me that I don’t matter enough to voice that. Because of the way I was treated by doctors and other medical “professionals” during this time, they who refused to give me medication that I needed so badly, and the combined fact that, no matter who I contacted for help, no one gave a shit. No one cared. Now, don’t care about me, that’s fine, I may not be your cup of tea. But surely someone should have cared that I was out in the general population without anti-psychotic meds. No one did. The withdrawal symptoms from anti-psychotics include sudden rage, hallucinations, and other horrors that, when one is in the throes of them, can definitely affect people other than just the person wigging out. So the public cost, you’d think THAT would be worth someone ATTEMPTING to help. But no.

I wrote to the Huffington Post to tell them about the mistreatment I was receiving in various doctors offices – they were doing all these “HuffPost supports the mentally ill” articles, patting themselves on the back. They never wrote back. I called the local news stations, and while a news anchor who answered agreed that someone should help me – “just look at what happened in South Carolina”, he said, referring to the latest shooting at that time – the reporter he assigned to call me back was rude and unhelpful. Just about everyone I dealt with was rude and unhelpful. And I was – and still am – just blown away that people will go into a field where the OATH is “Above all else DO NO HARM” and then be cruel and horrid to their clients.

And let’s look at that word: clients. The word “client” denotes that they are working for me, they were there expressly to help. And instead they did the direct opposite. Not only did they block me from much needed meds, but they were horrible people who said scathing things to me and traumatized me further. And the cognitive dissonance you get when you know you’re right – I KNOW what meds I need, I’ve been in this long enough to know my own brain – but you have someone “in authority” telling you that you are wrong, it’s so fucking painful. The feeling of not being heard. Of actually and literally begging someone to help you and have them not only refuse but smirk and made snide comments while they do so. It’s completely demoralizing and dehumanizing. And it happens to people like me all the time. Other mentally ill people go through this shit too. And sometimes – like in the case of Stanhope and Bingo – someone cares, and is a champion to the person being mistreated, and validates their experience by not only being an informed witness who understands just how damaging this kind of thing is, but by rallying around the person and defending them, by complaining to the “powers that be” and being a voice for the person who is voiceless.

As fantastic irony would have it, the person who dubbed herself the Latin word for “voice” – Vox – does not have one. I have no voice but I call myself Vox, how screwed up is that?

I also do not have an advocate. A spouse, a social worker, a relative – nope. And no one else sprang into the shoes of a Social Justice Warrior, so, you know, fuck me.  It’s like, okay, I get it, my pain doesn’t matter. It still stings nonetheless.

It really sucks when you don’t have that person who rallies around you, who defends you when you are vulnerable and unable to do so yourself, that advocate that says, No Doc, you will not push this person around. Why, no matter who I try to tell, “hey, this terrible thing happened and kept happening and it happens to other people too”, does no one really appear to care? Crazy people can fuck your day up if they are off their meds. Isn’t that something that most everyone should be concerned about? That people who NEED to be medicated can get ACCESS to their medication? I thought so but nah.

The only entity that even tried to help was Kaiser Health News. The editor wrote me a very helpful email with resources for legal aid and patient programs for meds (though I still couldn’t get those prescribed just yet, because of the resistance of doctors who were General Practitioners fearful of my med combo). And I did meet one person online who researched self-pay psychiatrists in my area, which was very kind of that person, more so that I can say. But otherwise, no, I went through this hellish experience apparently all for nothing, because nothing will change for anyone else because no one gave a damn that this happened to me.

That I was fired from my doctor and left without meds for almost two years, my condition worsening exponentially. That no other doctors would help me by prescribing medications that I could easily prove to them with medical records I had been taking. They didn’t care about my records. They never even requested them.

I went into doctor’s offices hopeful each time, like an idiot, thinking that this would be the time someone would help me. Instead I was thrown out of offices for “drug seeking behavior” – apparently asking for Strattera, a non-controlled substance used for ADHD, is drug seeking. That’s so stupid. Of COURSE it’s drug seeking. I am seeking a prescription for a drug. That doesn’t mean I’m going to abuse that drug, which is not a fun drug anyway, it just inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine. Yeah, a real dance party there. And since when do you get high off Abilify? It’s an anti-psychotic. Those types of drugs take AWAY the bath-saltiness of mania and the lunacy of psychotic depression. They don’t get you fucked up. But I was a “drug seeker” because I knew what medications I needed and I asked for them by name.

Although it – here comes another understatement – “hurts my feelings” that this happened to me, what’s really bullshit about this is that it happens to people who cannot even articulate how they are being treated to others. And there’s the problem that when you are mentally ill sometimes you think you actually deserve this sort of heartless treatment because maybe you might hate yourself a little, or a lot, so you might not even tell someone if something like this happened to you. You might not know you don’t actually deserve to be treated like you are nothing. And no one cares this is happening, so these people just keep getting away with it. They keep getting away with firing patients for their own staff’s errors, berating the patient and mislabeling the patient as non-compliant as an excuse when really, the patient’s complied all along, there’s been nothing BUT compliance… they get away with leaving someone without medication they need to take every. single. day. without. fail. They get away with lying and telling grievance committees that the patient never was a patient of theirs (I guess the Doc is in the habit of giving breast exams to people who are not her patients).

They get away with this mistreatment again and again, because no one in a position of strength gives enough of a damn to make them stop.

I’ve been refused meds, thrown out, fired, held illegally against my will, had a gun pointed at me, been laughed at, been yelled at, been threatened with a catheter just out of meanness and told I was a drug addict. On top of everything else that I have been through in life. Treated this way by people who have taken the Hippocratic Oath. And nowhere in that Oath does it say “Make them worse for having seen you”.

I have a wonderful shrink now, at long last. I have to pay cash to see him, and that’s a big hardship. But I don’t have a choice and he is worth it. He is compassionate and he is insightful. And I finally have the meds I need to try to put my life back together. But what of those who cannot go this route? What happens to them? What about the people still stuck in the vicious cycle that kept me down?

How many of them could be saved from homelessness, poverty, suicide, or possible incarceration, if only they had the correct meds and a good doctor?

All I know is that if we don’t find a way to weed out these bad doctors from the healthcare community, it poisons the whole healthcare well. Gross incompetence should not be tolerated in medicine. But for some reason, getting this across in the context of mental illness is exceedingly difficult.

Maybe it would help if I were more concise. Hmm. Yeah, probably not.

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Much Nothing About Ado

Mark Maron, on one of his podcasts, said the drought in California could well be effected by people masturbating in the shower, an act that “could take anywhere from three to nineteen minutes.” I find nineteen minutes to be a very specific number and wonder how exactly he arrived at that. But that’s just me. Now.  If I were Maron, I would now ask, “How long does it take YOU?” And then call you a podcast-branded variant of the word “fuckstick”. (What-the-fuckstick, in case you are unfamiliar with Maron’s brand). (Edited to add: please know it’s not that I think you are a “fuckstick”. It’s that this is what Maron calls his fans – what-the-fucksticks, what-the-fuckaneers, etc etc… Just so you don’t think I’M a fuckstick for calling you a fuckstick, I didn’t mean it that way. Just alluding to Maron’s thang. Not his actual thang. His verbal thang.)

I don’t want to spend the whole post talking about Maron. I enjoy his show a lot. He’s had some really great guests with insightful interviews. Bobcat Goldthwait and Neil Strauss are two I enjoyed in particular. Point being, I’ve gotten into podcasts lately, having discovered I can listen on my phone (yeah, I was a little late to the party on that), and have been podcast-binging. It’s nice to hear conversation as opposed to the television, music, or more often, complete silence as I spend my days the way I spend my days – which is, in case you’ve wondered, mostly isolated and by myself. Which I don’t mind so much, really. I have my cats. Now THAT is something a crazy cat lady would say, or an elderly person. But it’s true. I have my cats but more importantly, I am what you call “self-entertaining”. I am not a person that needs an extraordinary amount of interpersonal stimulation to survive. A little here and there is just fine, thanks. I can’t handle much.

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Today

Today is the 11 month anniversary of my mother’s death. I had intended to get things done today, whatever that means, but I just cannot. I miss her so much. Beauty left the world when she did.

I just sit here and wait for time to pass, and sleep, and wake up, and find I’ve only slept ten minutes. This goes on all night, and then all day. In between I do a few trifling things. Not enough to amount to a whole day.

Will there ever be a way out of this fucking jail of mind?

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