We had, up until this evening, a tree on our tree lawn. A line of severe thunderstorms flew through the greater Cleveland area earlier. When the alert came through my phone, it said winds up to 80 mph. Looking at our poor tree, I can believe it.
It could have been much, much much worse. There are a few pictures of huge trees that came down in the area. AJ Colby says more storms are in the future due to the high temperatures and humidity we’re having. Check out this segment of him talking with images of the radar and satellite from the storm. It does look like we’ll have a nice weekend, knock on wood.
I don’t have many memories from childhood. Most of them consist of what I describe as “snapshots”. It’s like a picture of sorts in my mind. Sometimes I know the context and sometimes I don’t.
Seeing the tree on the ground brought back one of these snapshots. It’s me standing in a garden center holding onto the trunk of this (much smaller version) tree. There isn’t much more to it. I’m actually assuming it’s a garden center, because where else would you have bought a tree in the late 70s. I guess it isn’t even a picture so much. It’s more of like me looking outside from inside of me knowing I’m holding onto this tree.
For some reason, seeing the tree on the ground made me cry last night. I don’t feel particularly emotionally attached to that tree. Maybe because it’s one of the few nontraumatic memories I have? I don’t know. And at the moment, I’m overwhelmed with everything else and I don’t want to explore it. Maybe when I talk to Dr. D the week after next.
BTW: I’m writing these as sort of a record of what’s going on. It helps me keep track of changes and reactions to meds and therapy.
Today was a fairly normal visit with the psychiatrist. I’m feeling a bit better. It’s getting there a little at a time. I’m still hearing voices, but they are less frequent and less intense. Dr. W isn’t as concerned as she was earlier in the month.
A few changes today. I’m going down again on citalopram. In need to get off of it because of interactions with the Lupron. With that change, Dr. W decided to go up again on the Zoloft. The only other big change is going up on the Haldol. 11 mg at first and then 12. I’m hoping that will have to be the last dosage adjustment up.
You know things are bad when the doctor tells the scheduler that you are a priority for scheduling. My chin almost hit the floor. I mean, things aren’t good. And there has been a lot of pain (both physically and emotionally) lately. But I certainly didn’t think I fit into priority territory. Priority. Minimizing. I do such a good job of it.
I have four appointments scheduled between now and the beginning of July. She’s going on vacation for 6 weeks starting the middle of July. She once to see me once again before she leaves. Unfortunately, that means I’ll have to take what I can get off the cancellation list. That is if any appointments come up.
I’m trying to get off Wellbutrin because I can’t take the estrogen blocker with it. Wellbutrin renders the other med useless. When I tried to go off before, things got dicey. I see the oncologist tomorrow and have no idea what to tell her other than I tried and it’s going to take longer than anticipated.
So Dr. W started me on Zoloft. Yippy skippy. Another med to add into the mix. She upped the Haldol and wants to be a bit more aggressive with it. I’m still hearing voices… almost constantly now. Depending on how I’m doing, she may start weaning me off the Wellbutrin next week. Yes. Next week. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a psychiatrist that often since I was in the hospital.
It all seems so complicated right now. Appointments with the medical and radiation oncologists. Appointments with Dr. W. Appointments with Dr.D. Maybe moving up to twice a week with her.
I keep hearing people say that I will feel better once the radiation is finished. I finished yesterday (yay me). But it’s not like a switch. Really recovering will take about as long as the radiation took. In my case, four weeks. The only one who gets how I feel is my primary care, Dr. M. Dr. M went through radiation himself. He said it’s not uncommon for people to get more depressed right after finishing. I totally agree with him. You’re in the middle of treatments and running around. And it feels like you’re doing something active. Now I have to wait on the Wellbutrin and see what the oncologist says. It’s like I’m not doing anything at all.
I have some Haldol and Trazodone in my near future, so I better sign off. I’m really fighting sleep right now. Better to give in.
The Day After
So I saw Dr. D yesterday. It was tough, complete with a panic attack. She encouraged me to call Dr. W. Since I seen her earlier this week, I didn’t think it was a good idea. But Dr. D gently explained that Dr. W would be concerned that I let myself continue to suffer needlessly. So I called. I got a call back that evening, which surprised me because she’s on vacation. She asked what was going on and I told her everything. Well almost everything. I didn’t tell her how long things have been going on. She gave me hydroxyzine, which she has given me before. Dr. W said she’s hesitant to prescribe a benzo at this point. Not because she’s worried about addiction. But rather given the amount of medication I’m on. I understand her point of view, and I respect it. What it says to me is that she’s being conservative, but is willing to go with something more powerful if I need it.
Dr. D wants me to come back on Monday. I don’t really know how I feel about that. I do have somethings I want to talk about related to the physical abuse. But I’m not completely confident that I can get through it without losing myself in the flashback loop. It makes me scared just thinking about it. I’m going to copy/paste it in here so I can just read it if need be.
It was my grandfather. The summer after kindergarten, my parents made me stay there while they took my grandmother out of town. I don’t remember what I did that was so bad, but I got punished but good. He took off all of my clothes and made me lie on the bed. He put my arms over my head with my hands together and told me to stay that way. If I moved or cried, he hit me with a leather belt.
I don’t know how long I stayed in that position. It was so cold in there. He had the air conditioner on as cold as it would go. It felt like it was forever. I had almost fallen asleep when he came back into the room. I laid there while he felt my whole body, from top to bottom. He was on the bed with me. Then he left and told me not to move or I’d get it with the belt again.
I tried not to cry, but I did. As soon as he heard me, he came back and punished me for disturbing his baseball game. He told me that I better not move again. So I didn’t. I laid there and counted the cracks in the ceiling, over and over, and over again. But I couldn’t help but listen for him. I was terrified he would come into the room again.
After what seemed like forever, he came back into the room. And he got on the bed again. I was so afraid he’d get the belt out again. He wasn’t touching me anymore. He was on top of me. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. He was so big and heavy. The penetration was extremely painful. I wanted to scream and yell, but I couldn’t. It hurt too bad.
All of a sudden, he jumped off of me and the bed. I put my arms down. He started to scream at me. He told me that he had said not to move. He told me I was an evil child filled with the devil. He was right. He got the belt again and told me to put my hands back up or he’d punish me again. I begged him not to, but that made him really angry. He took me by my shoulders and shook me. He kept yelling how little girls should obey their elders. He put my hands back over my head and made me stay like that.
I laid on that bed for hours. It was so cold in that room. I really had to go to the bathroom, but he told me not to move or say anything. I had to go so bad, I ended up wetting the bed. When he found out I had wet the bed, he beat me again. And then he was on top of me again. It must have gone on like that for hours. I remember watching it go from day to night.
I hurt right now just thinking about it. I think I’m going to sign off, take some hydroxyzine, and eat. Toast for breakfast and not eating anything else doesn’t cut it anymore.
What a rough time today. Going two days in a row is rough. But I didn’t expect it to be this rough. I pretty much picked up where I left off. I know Dr. D is concerned. It’s hard for me to understand why. The same goes for Dr. W. On Dr. D’s urging, I left a message for Dr. W. The panic attacks. The flashbacks. They have gotten worse lately. I think I didn’t share this with Dr. W for fear of ending up in the hospital. I bet that isn’t a rational thought. They don’t throw you butt in the hospital unless you’re a danger to yourself or others. What I know, however, isn’t working to calm down what I feel.
For the first time in however many years I’ve been going, I admitted to Dr. D about the cutting. People sometimes get the wrong idea. For me, it was to externalize the pain I was feeling. I talked about how long it’s been since I last cut. I talked about the urges and how they’re getting stronger and stronger. Dr. D took it in stride. I had expected some sort of belittling. I don’t know. Scolding maybe. But all she showed was compassion. She asked the usual questions. When did I start? What made me stop? Did I feel in danger?
Today was another day. I couldn’t cry. I thought I was going to. I pinched my leg to try and keep it under control. I hate tears. I hear my mom’s voice. “If you want to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about!” It usually ended up with the belt.
She asked about how structure of childhood kept me functioning (although not in those words). I was trying to respond that it was some sort of normality in life. All of a sudden I was hit with flashbacks harder than ever. I’m pretty sure I was having a panic attack too. I vaguely remember hearing my name. But I couldn’t snap out of it. It was like I was in a film on a repetitive loop. As I calmed down, I could only stare at the fish. I couldn’t look Dr. D in the eyes. We talked some about what I went through in those last 5 minutes. It was all so overwhelming. I went back to the thought of routine and only could say there was nothing normal about it. But it was sort of a loose routine. I went to bed. He came in. He molested me. He left. I went to sleep. Every single night.
I tried to hide. I don’t know why I bothered. He always got me out. Sometimes it was with extraordinary anger. He almost ripped the closet door off once or twice. I finally gave up on hiding. There was no point. There was no stopping the abuse.
All of this came out today. Dr. D asked if there were any new memories. Nope. The same old ones. The ones that still hurt so much. I need to let her know I need her to be more aggressive in trying to get me out of that loop. Like I said, I kind of heard her calling my name. But it wasn’t enough. It didn’t break though the images, sounds, feelings or panic. The one thing she did try to get me to do after I calmed down was to keep my eyes open. I totally understand that. In my history of therapy, that was something I definitely learned. It hard sometimes. I really want to block out everything. But by blocking out everything external, I get caught up in my head.
Dr. D asked me to come back on Monday morning so we can keep on top of everything. What was I going to say? I suppose I could have said no. But that didn’t seem wise. I know I need to keep working, especially through the radiation. Speaking of which, I’m almost half way done. Yay for me. So, I’ll go back on Monday. If I make it through the weekend that is. Dr. D gave me her cell phone number so I can always call or shoot her a text if need be.
I tend to put up walls between myself and others. That’s definitely no secret. It’s how I survived the years of endless abuse. Don’t let people inside, don’t get hurt. Period.
It took me a long time to dismantle the wall between my therapist (Dr. D) and me. We’re talking about 18 months. It took a lot of hard work on both our parts to find trust.
I had been doing well trusting her. But…
A lot has happened since I last wrote. I had bariatric surgery and lost 140 pounds. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a lumpectomy. I had a couple of hospitalizations for suicidal thoughts (getting quite close to an attempt). Now I’m undergoing radiation for the cancer. I’m in the middle of psychotic symptoms, specifically voices.
I guess the wall wasn’t completely down. I was scared to tell Dr. D and Dr. W (my psychiatrist) that the voices were back and I was having severe depression symptoms. I’m working now with Dr. W to get my Haldol dosage correct. I refuse to take the new antipsychotics because of the potential for weight gain. I don’t need that.
Back to Dr. D. Last week, I was telling her about the voices and the depression. We discussed how it could be situational. I think it started that way, but evolved into something biological. I know, not the best description, but it’s all I got. Then she said something that shocked me. She said it seemed like an overreaction to the situation. The worst started shortly after I had the lumpectomy.
That shook me. My reaction wasn’t immediate. I was already feeling bad so I just sat there. I didn’t question. Over the last week, I’ve been stewing over it. Today when I saw Dr. D, the wall was up and thicker than ever. Before I gave honest answers. Today all I gave was “fine”. I could tell she didn’t believe me. She sat for a minute and asked if I just wanted to get past the question. “Pretty much” was my answer. I didn’t say much today. A lot of yeses and nos in response to questions. I don’t think I looked at her the whole time. I stared at the rug. I stared at the picture on the wall. I stared at the fish tank. My trust was shattered in one statement. I didn’t ask her about what she said. I don’t know if the reasons are important. What’s important is how it made me feel. And I didn’t tell her. I didn’t want to tell her. I was scared to tell her. I didn’t feel comfortable telling her. I don’t know if I ever will. I’m not even sure what I would say.
I didn’t want to go back. I really didn’t. But I thought that I would give it a try. That maybe somehow I would feel different when I saw her. I didn’t feel any different, though. I still don’t know if I will go back again. I have a good excuse to take off the next few weeks. The radiation makes me really tired. And going one less place on Thursday would be nice.
I’m not sure what she could do to re-earn my trust. To start the process I would have to tell her about the effect of her words. But in order to do that, I’d have to tear down my wall a little bit. I’d have to go on faith alone. It almost feels like a catch-22. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I don’t want to start again with another therapist. She specializes in trauma, and is one of the few psychologists that take my insurance.
I guess I have a lot of thinking to do.
Living With Haldol
It’s definitely not an easy drug to live with. I’m tired all the time. I’m lucky if I make it 20 minutes on my walk because I just want to climb back in bed. Therapy is draining enough as it is without adding bone numbing tiredness into the mix.
Unfortunately, based on what I said today in Dr. D’s office, I won’t be coming off it any time soon. If I try to go down a bit the voices come roaring back. On the dosage I’m on now, they’re simply a dull roar.
On top of the fatigue, I grind my teeth and clench my jaw. That’s resulted in some TMJ type stuff going on. Next Monday I have an appointment at the local dental school to evaluate one tooth for another root canal and the TMJ. I’m taking Cogentin for this, but it only really works well up to my previous dosage of Haldol. It doesn’t do so well on this higher one.
Thankfully I see Dr. W about all this on Wednesday. I don’t know what she’ll change. I know the one thing I want changed in antidepressants. I take Cymbalta for pain. That’s nonnegotiable. But the Celexa has to go. It’s doing nothing as far as I can tell.
As usual, the med go round goes round and round and round and… well, you get the point.
The Med-Go-Round Goes Round and Round
This is what life feels like right now.
I talked to Dr. W yesterday. The voices are pretty bad right now. She tried to increase the Haldol once before and that led to such horrible jaw clenching that I had to go down plus start taking Cogentin with it regularly. Now, given my symptoms, she feels I should go back up and she increased the Cogentin too.
I feel like I’ve been on this ride for so many years. And I’m going round and round. I’m actually dizzy when I sit down and look at my med list. I doesn’t help my list when you factor in the fibromyalgia diagnosis.
I see Dr. W next week. We’ll see where the med-go-round stops then.
A Very Long Day
I’m so mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. I started the day with the psychiatrist. Initial sessions are always long. Having to go through my history is beyond demanding. Fighting back tears (and failing miserably) left me drained after the first 30 minutes. Then she drops the little bomb shell that she thinks I’m psychotics. I basically told her I respectfully disagree. Hearing the voice of one of my abusers is more likely a PTSD symptom (PDF) rather than a psychosis symptom. She wanted to put me on one of the newer antipsychotics. I told her no. I absolutely and positively wouldn’t go down that route again. I gained so much weight on them and they sent my cholesterol sky high. I don’t need that crap again. She didn’t seem pleased with my refusal, but it’s my body. Honestly, it’s not causing me that much distress that I think it needs to be medicated. I’m quite aware the voice isn’t real and what the origin of it is. I’m not putting those drugs in my body unless I’m going crazy. I think they’re overused for things like bipolar, PTSD, ADHD (!) and Autism (!!!). So, in the end, she upped one of my meds and put me back on Cymbalta for the depression and chronic pain. Once I’m doing somewhat better, she wants me to get back into therapy. I’m not against that. I just need to find
someone the energy to find someone.
Then it was to the hospital side to register for blood work and an EKG. I’m still not 100% certain why she feels she needs the EKG, but whatever. The nice man filling in from another department was trying to register me into the ER, which is why he couldn’t find the doctors name. Once that was fixed, I got to the lab where the paperwork was screwed up because my age ended up getting entered as 103. I don’t even know how that happened. I got stabbed in the hand, leaving me with a nice little lump and a big old bruise.
Then the fun really began. Gynecologist time. I kid you not… when the nurse took my BP, I almost had a stroke right there given how high it was (190/130) after it being normal (120/80) earlier in the day. She was pretty alarmed until I told her I was basically sitting there having a panic attack. The doctor was really nice. She tried to be as gentle as she could. It isn’t that easy since my body is a bit weird and I was, well, freaking out. At least I don’t have to go back for a year, and then only for a quick check, not the full thing.
I’m about to take my meds and go to bed. I’ve finally gotten myself mostly calmed down. But I’m exhausted.