Category Archives: Mental Health

The Day After

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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.

Therapy Thursday

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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.

Precipice

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So today’s prompt is “Precipice”.  How fitting.  I seem to be teetering on one myself.  Even with the med changes (and un-changes), I’m still really struggling with depression and anxiety and voices.  I realized how bad things were when Dr. W spent 40 minutes with me rather than the usual 30.  I love going to UH because they book med checks as 30 minutes.  I once say a psychiatrist who a) always ran late, b) tried to hoist me off on his NP when insurance was paying for him and c) was lucky to spend 5 minutes with me.  I have no idea why I stayed with him so long.  Another plus side to UH is that they are on the same electronic medical records system so all my doctors can keep up with my (very) long med list and conditions.

Back to precipice.  I wrote last time that I was hearing voices and it had gotten worse.  I started hearing them again back in February.  I didn’t tell anyone because I was afraid to.  I just kept saying I was getting better as I walked toward the cliff.  Even though I was having suicidal thoughts, I kept covering everything up.  I guess I still am.  I haven’t been totally honest with what the voices are saying.  They’re getting quite nasty and telling me that I should kill myself for various reasons.  I don’t know why I don’t want to tell Dr. W and Dr. D.  I think it might be because I’m in the middle of radiation and I don’t want to be hospitalized right now.  Do I need it?  Maybe.  I’m looking at a long way down off the precipice.

Most of all, I’m scared.  When I was having symptoms like this before, I did end up in the hospital.  Twice.  I don’t know if I can do that again.  The second time was useless.  No med changes.  Not that I wanted them to change meds.  But seeing a psychiatrist more than once in 6 days would have been useful.  No therapy to speak of.  You were basically left to fend for yourself all day.  It didn’t help they didn’t get my med list and I was off things for almost a week.  Although I was a UH hospital, their EMR wasn’t hooked up with the central EMR.  Looking back, I was safe from falling off the precipice, but it didn’t do much to pull me back from it.  I pretty much lied to get out of there.  I though I could make more progress with Dr. D and Dr. W than I could just hanging around all day.

I don’t like this brink of the precipice thing.  The voices keep getting worse despite how much Haldol Dr. W adds.  I was up to 10 mg before, so it’s not surprising the 1/2/4 mg dosage wasn’t working.  I’m up to 6 mg now in a divided dose.  I think once I get the voices under control, I’ll be able to step back from that ledge.

I’m tired too.  The fibro makes me tired.   Fatigue has always been part of my depressive symptoms.  And now I have the fatigue from radiation.  I’m sleeping at least 10 hours at night with a couple hour nap during the day.  I’m asleep more than I’m awake.  I wonder if this is anyway to live.

I’m tired of telling people I’m tired.  They don’t understand.  My family doesn’t understand mental illness.  And even if they did, they wouldn’t care.  That much I’m certain of.  And part of me doesn’t care anymore too.  I’m too tired to care.

Standing on the precipice looking down.  What to do?  What to do?  Closer.  Closer.  Closer.

Walls

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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.

Scars

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Child abuse leaves scars.  Both seen and unseen.  Both large and small.  Both chronic and acute.  Yet they are all scars.

I think that everyone carries some scars.  Nobody has a perfect life.  But the scars that abuse survivors carry are more extreme.  They impact daily living for so many survivors.

I try to hide the scars I have.  I was “lucky” that my parents tried to minimize leaving marks.  My mom was a guidance counselor and knew the things that CPS looked for.  I was a cutter for many years, and thankfully, I didn’t scar a lot.  Those are the seen scars.  The unseen ones are still there, though.

There are times when those scars get ripped open again.  Flashbacks, physical memories, panic attacks.  All are our mind’s way of reminding us of what happened.

My scars make me who I am.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.  I can’t get rid of my scars.  As physical scars are permanent, so are psychological ones.

Mask

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I live my life behind a mask. My mask is happy.  My mask is confident.  I’m good at wearing this.  Despite how I feel inside, I don’t reveal my honest feelings and fears.

I don’t really let people see the “true me”.  Hell, sometimes I don’t even know what the “true me” is.  I’ve hidden behind a mask for so long that maybe that is the “true me”.

There’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where a character has a bunch of laws to live by.  Her law number one was “You always have to rely on yourself”.  I totally agree with that.  But my law zero is “Trust no one”.  If you can’t trust, it’s hard to show your “true self”.  It’s hard to take off that mask.

I’m slowly learning to trust Dr. D and Dr. W.  It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me.  Last week, I tried to cancel my appointment with Dr. D and quit therapy all together.  I made a deal to come that one time.  Ordinarily, I would have hidden how bad things were and just tiptoed around the issues.  But I didn’t.  I sat there and talked through the flashbacks.  Making myself that vulnerable was extremely scary.  And although nothing bad happened, I still want to put that mask on.

Maybe this is a turning point for me.  Maybe it’s okay to drop the mask and let safe people see what’s underneath.

Organizing Thoughts

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I’m having a hard time organizing my thoughts lately.  More so than ever, my thoughts are scattered and racing.  I have all these memories just swirling around.  And I just don’t know what to do with them.  It doesn’t help I have writer’s block.  Just typing these few sentences has taken me a solid half hour.

So, how to organize the thoughts and memories.  Dr. D asked me to think about how I could organize the memories.  It could be by house.  I was 4 when we moved to MH from L.  That doesn’t make a lot of sense.  The time just doesn’t work out.

I guess I could organize them by time.  But so many things blur together that I don’t think it’ll work.

The thing that makes most sense is to organize things by abusers.  These incidents are separated pretty well in time and space.

Now to just get over my writer’s block…

Living With Haldol

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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.

Itty Bitty Baby Steps

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After working on it for like a month, I’ve finally called a psychologist.  I tried doing the Psychology Today route.  Too confusing since my insurance is administered by X company, but because it’s Medicaid, people who take X don’t necessarily take my form of X.  Today I worked up the courage to call X company directly and get some names.  I took those names and Googled.  Luckily one of the people specializes in trauma.  I left a message on voice mail.  Thankfully, she’s out of the office until Monday and I can quit stressing over it until then.

Earlier, I saw useless GP.  Remarkably, he wasn’t all that useless today.  I guess it helps if you go in focused and only asking for one med change.  A few weeks ago, I started Couch to 5K.  I messed up my previously messed up ankle.  So after resting for almost a week didn’t do anything I made the appointment.  Now, all of this could have been taken care of last week, but drunk family member fell down in her driveway and I had to take her to the ER and wait around while they scanned her head.  I barely know this person, but nobody else who could do it was around.  I swear, I think I’m going to start using the phrase “Not my monkey.  Not my circus.” around my family.

So I see GP.  He orders an x-ray basically to cover his butt should the 6 weeks of PT he prescribed not work and he wants an MRI.  I guess having a GP who also does sports medicine is handy.  He says I can continue walking, but no more than a half mile or so and no C25K period.

He also gave me a referral to a different rheumatologist to evaluate for seronegative arthritis.  Despite lab results and symptoms and joint pain responding to steroids, current rheumatologist doesn’t think there’s anything else going on aside from fibromyalgia.

Oh, and I get to increase the Vitamin D I’ve been taking because I’m still deficient despite taking a standard 2000 IU a day.

Only other thing is I had a sleep study done.  I wish they’d hurry up and send the results.  I had a split study, where they monitored the first part and then put me on a CPAP machine the second part.  I’m guessing the fact they did the CPAP means I had a significant number of apnea events.

Psychiatrist is being a bit pushy, but I don’t expect less.  She’s ready to call up Company X and go off on them because they want to do her job.  She’s the one pushing therapy.  I think things have lifted a bit because as I said above, I’ve been able to deal with looking into it.  She also wants me to go back to the NAMI group I used to attend.  But I haven’t been there for like 10 years.  There’s a meeting tomorrow night.  But I don’t know.  I guess I’m minimizing things again.  I get all “But it isn’t that bad” all the time, despite evidence to the contrary.

And no, dear psychiatrist, my mother’s voice isn’t going away.  It’s been in my head my entire life.  And no, I’m not psychotic.  I think we’ll have to agree to disagree.