Tag Archives: depression

On Depression and Gratitude

I’ve been doing this 21 days of Gratitude thing as a hoot, but I just considered that I got this as a part of therapy.  In other words, if you are depressed, being grateful for what you have is supposed to make you feel better.  But does it?  If you’ve never had clinical mental illness, you probably think it should make everything better.  You probably apply logic to situations.  But that’s just the thing.  Depressed people can SEE logic, they just can’t act on it very well.  Here’s one example.  A dirty house makes you feel bad, yes?  Cleaning it would make you feel better.  Therefore (x + cow = red) you should get up and clean your house.

Get up, Mr. Sad Face!  Just whistle while you work!

Get up, Mr. Sad Face! Just whistle while you work!

snow white sad face bang

As you can see, Mr. Sad Face wasn’t too impressed with Snow White’s chipper attitude toward cleanliness, though blowing her up with a magic wand did bring a smile to his face.  That’s always nice.  More on that in a bit.

Gratitude journals are supposed to work the same way.  But here’s the thing. There are different stages of Depression.  It’s never “cured” but you can have times of mostly remission, as long as you take your meds and / or go to therapy or whatever it is you do to cope.  But if you are in the really down stage, someone telling you to be grateful is only going to make it worse.  For example:

Man I'm bummed I don't have Barbie's life with money and house and stuffs.

Man I’m bummed I don’t have Barbie’s life with money and house and stuffs.

What's this?  A rainbow of good things in my life?  Who knew?

What’s this? A rainbow of good things in my life? Who knew?

Yay I have no home or car or foods but there are bunnies and flowers and sun!  I am happy!

Yay I have no home or car or foods but there are bunnies and flowers and sun! I am happy!

It goes a little differently with the depressed brain.

I don't live like Barbie.  Life bites.

I don’t live like Barbie. Life bites.

What the heck is this?  There better be some skittles coming next.

What the heck is this? There better be some skittles coming next.

My life bites cause it's not like Barbies.  Also cause I don't appreciate flowers and stuffs.  And cause of gratitude journals.

My life bites cause it’s not like Barbie’s. Also cause I don’t appreciate flowers and stuffs. Or gratitude journals.  I suck.

So you see the difference?  It’s not that the depressed person is trying to be obstinate, that’s just how our brains work.  We already KNOW we have good things in our lives, and sometimes that us feel even more down.  Just because you have depression doesn’t mean you don’t have gratitude.  It means you have a chemical imbalance, and possibly some other sucky events have happened in your life.  Your brain sees through a different lens when suffering depression.  Like the drug commercial we know so well – this is your brain on depression.  This is your brain without it.  There’s a difference – it’s even visible on brain scans, so it’s not made up stuff to let depressed people lie on their duffs and take no responsibility.  No matter how much it seems that way – even to the one who is depressed.

Now gratitude is a good thing, and when you’re out of your darkest days, it’s fine.  But please don’t push people to be grateful when that is just one of the many things they wish they can do but can’t.  It causes guilt, not happiness.  Coming out of depression takes time, and hard work, and the right kind of therapy and meds.  It’s not a quick fix.  But there is one thing that is – even if the fix only lasts a few minutes.  Humor.  Humor helps.  I’ve been in the hospital, and I’ve seen it work with other “mentals”.  It is possible to laugh in the midst of suffering.  And that’s part of why I blog.  I love humor, and I hope my somewhat bizarre form of it helps people, whether they are sick or not.  Remember that rainbows don’t appear during the worst of the thunderstorm.  They come after.  But during you can always use an umbrella.  Until that blows away and you just hide under a taller person.  Or – I lost track of my metaphors.  Anyway, this is Alice signing out, hoping your brain has a good day.

Alice

P.S. I hope you found humor in how Snow White has kind of a Joker grin (not really intended).  Why so serious?

 

The Frozen Effect

So what’s so special about this movie (besides the fact that it the highest grossing animated film of all time beating out Toy Story 3, and he 5th highest film period- and it’s still playing in some theaters)?

Take that, Woody.

Take that, Woody.

It’s because this movie, with very small exception (those blasted trolls) is perfect.  As Beauty and the Beast did for me back in the 90s, so Frozen has done for a new generation of children – it’s blasted us out of the park.  The stunning animation, the incredible songs (“Let it Go” took Best Song in the Oscars), the characters, and the story – it was amazing.  It’s a bit slow in the beginning, but once you hit that big musical Oscar winning number, you’re taken in.  Okay, well, I was, as were my daughters, and obviously a whole lot of other people.

And that’s the answer – this was a movie that struck not just children, but adults as well.  Whereas little children saw pretty princesses, older kids and adults saw their lives.  You can’t help but identify with the sisters Elsa and Anna – both individually and in their relationship to each other.

And they're just so gosh darn cute.

And they’re just so gosh darn cute.

A brief synopsis – though this post is anything but brief – bear with me.  Elsa has those magical ice powers, but she hurts her sister while playing with her powers, so the parents get a troll to heal her and then completely disregard everything he warns them about.  They decide the best way to help the girl is to lock her up in her room and try to get her to suck up her feelings (tied to her enormous creative power) so she doesn’t freeze the place.  Oh, and little sister Anna has her memory wiped, so has no idea why her sister has shut her completely out.

Now take away the fantasy part of it, and see if that doesn’t sound familiar in any way.   I see Frozen in many ways as a metaphor for mental illness.  Elsa’s parents tell her to suck up her feelings.  They keep her isolated from others, for fear of her endangering them, and, I suspect, fear of embarrassment.  And little sister is left outside the door, repeatedly knocking, begging, pleading for Elsa to let her in.  “Do You Want to Build a Snowman”  is a song that can get very irritating, but it’s important.  Especially the last line, where you see both sisters, isolated from one another, slink down in despair on either side of the door.

“Do you want to build a snowman?  It doesn’t have to be a snowman.”

elsa anna

Anna – for goodness sakes, NO I DON’T.

After the deaths of the rather controlling parents, Elsa is forced to come out to lead her people.  Anna is thrilled to have her back, but she annoys the heck out of Elsa until finally she can no longer keep her feelings inside.  She unleashes them on the entire kingdom, starting an eternal winter.  Cursed as a witch, she is chased away from the castle, but once she’s away, she realizes suddenly that now she is free.  Free to be who she is.  And her song “Let it Go” resonates with me like no other song does, no matter how many times it is played.

So I’ll give you the song, along with my commentary.

“Let it Go”

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I’m the queen.

People with mental illness are isolated.  From friends, from coworkers, from family, even from others with their illness.

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried!

What happens on the outside (her enormous outburst) reflects what she has been keeping inside – a swirling storm of emotion.  You can try to keep it in, but it won’t stay in forever.  It didn’t for me.  And heaven knows I tried.

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be

elsa good girl

My parents never DID get me that Xbox.

Oh wow, this is a big one for me.  Be the good girl, Alice, always be the good girl.  Growing up with a brother who had enormous outbursts due to his manic depression, I felt I had to be the good one for my parents to make up for it.  I tried to do whatever I was told, and when I deviated, well, I heard about it.  In school I figured out early that to cry, or show emotion, could invite ridicule.  My smile was made fun of – so I tried not to smile around these people.  I didn’t even look up.  For a long time.
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know!

They tell you never to mention mental illness – especially if you ever want a job or to be taken seriously.  But, eventually, people will find out.  Even if you think you’re hiding it so well, you aren’t.  People with any kind of sensitivity will see through the mask.  I know my kids did.  And when I finally admitted to it, and told others what was going on – there was a definite lift I felt.  No one thus far has ridiculed me.  If anything, they’ve in some way understood.  So if you have a total meltdown at a dinner party, don’t worry too much.

Try not to freeze the entire country, though.

Try not to freeze the entire country, though.

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door!

I don’t care
What they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

A typical first reaction to spilling the beans about your illness – okay, this is me.  Deal with it.  I don’t care what you say.  I’m running away, don’t follow.

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all!

Distance does change the scope of the problem.  Staying at a mental hospital showed me I was far from the only one that was sick, and I was by far not the sickest.  One of my biggest fears was going to a place like that.  Well I did it, twice, so what can’t I do?  What fear can’t I conquer?

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free!

It'd really suck if she slipped right here . . .

It’d really suck if she slipped right here . . .

Often, when you shut up your feelings, you shut up your creativity, your potential.  What could you do if you weren’t hiding in your bedroom?  You’re an adult now.  There aren’t any real rules (except the obvious ones like paying your taxes and going to work so you get paid).  Other than that, if you want to buy dolls or ponies, buy them.  If you want to make a go at Broadway, try it.  No more rules.

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry!

Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on!

The song is picking up now – it’s gone from sad, to more hopeful, to angrily determined.  Just TRY and stop me now.

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past!

Here is the point in the song where the animation just leaves you breathless.  Elsa raises her arms and builds a castle.  That’s right.  She builds an entire freaking castle out of ice.  All that, ALL THAT CREATIVITY, locked away inside for so long.  How sad is that?  But how many of us do that?  And for how long?

Think how much her parents could have saved on architects by now.

Think how much her parents could have saved on architects by now.

Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!

You don’t have to be perfect anymore, Alice.  No one is.  You’re okay just as you are.  Your Things, after all, told you so all along.

Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

So she’s out in the open now (well sort of, she’s still not back home), but at least she’s able to be herself in this place she’s built with creativity denied to her for most of her life.  Later, when Anna comes to ask for help with the whole eternal winter thing, the song of both sisters is reprised in a beautiful duet.  Anna insisting she can help her, Elsa insisting she has no idea what she’s talking about, and ending with Elsa once more lashing out, freezing her sister’s heart.  Only true love can rescue Anna now.

And it does.  But not from a prince.  Anna sacrifices herself for Elsa, and Elsa heals her with her love.  Sisterly love.  So yes, this is an awesome movie.  I’ve told you a lot, but not nearly all of it.  If you haven’t seen it yet, please do, especially if you have a sister or are the mother of sisters.  You won’t regret it.

Aw.  If they watch it, maybe your daughters will quit fighting for at least five seconds.

Aw. If they watch it, maybe your daughters will quit fighting for at least five seconds.

Camp Loopy Revisited Part Two: Manic Mandy

So last time, I spoke to you guys about my first few days back at Camp Loopy which is not that fun cause they don’t even give you t-shirts.  I think unit t-shirts would be awesome, you know, like in Harry Potter.  I could have been in Schizoloren if the magic hat I talk to daily said okay.  I’m getting off topic already.

You've been chosen for the Snarkindor!

I must be nuts – does that hat have a face?

Anyhoo, last I left you they’d just decided to transfer me from the geriatric unit to a new unit (bye bye Huffledafts) because clearly my anxiety was getting better too fast.  One thing I’ll give them – the head nurse fought for me to stay.  They like to hoard the “good patients”.  I didn’t fully understand what that meant until I got to the new unit.

I know a lot about mania.  My brother has bipolar depression, which can cause a person to swing from lows to wayyy too highs.  Not that he can’t be annoying (he is a brother), but he does take his meds so he’s usually okay.  I hadn’t actually witnessed a person in full blown mania who did NOT need meds thanks so much.  Then I met Mandy (names changed to protect the looney).  Or rather I heard her before I even got there.

Oh. My.  God.

Yes, it was worse than listening to this guy 24/7.

Yes, it was worse than listening to this guy 24/7.

Mandy talked.  And talked.  And talked.  I don’t think she ever shut up except for the rare times her entire body gave out and she slept for a few precious minutes while we tiptoed around her and said “She’s kinda cute when she’s sleeping.”  But otherwise, she was talking – loudly.  Yell-speak I call it.  Every single word was shouted.  Try to imagine this for a few minutes.  Now imagine it for 2 days.  Yeah.  They don’t usually send you somewhere with the apparent intention to drive you even MORE insane.

She was also very active, like a child who had just downed 5,000 pixie sticks and a few dozen Monster drinks.  She danced, she sang, she ran around the room, she swung her head around like a head banger.  And if that wasn’t enough, Mandy was religious, so we also got mixed-up Bible thrown at us every few seconds.  “Amen,” she said.  “No Ah-men.  No, A-men.  AMEN!!!”

demotivator_jeremy_irons_amen_by_barbwirerose-d6lqias

Mandy was a pretty young woman.  She reminded me of this ice skater who was so beautiful, graceful, and mercifully silent.  But not Mandy.  She was as active as a speed skater on speed, if said speed skater yelled Bible verses.  Come to think of it, some of those street corner preachers could have picked up some tips from her.

I’m pretty sure I lost more hearing from her in those two days than I did from the infancy of my each of my two children.  Occasionally a nurse would yell “Mandy!  Shhh!” and she’d sit down, hold up two fingers in a peace sign, and yell “Sorry, sorry!  Peace out!”

One might think I could have escaped from her by going to my room and closing the door.  But nope, because I roomed with the Grinch.  The Grinch was mad.  Always.  About absolutely nothing.  And boy did she let you know.  She slept with a glass of water in her hand, and both nights woke up cursing and howling, shocked that there was water in her bed!  This usually happened around 1 AM.  No sleep for YOU, Alice!

She needed a LOT of these pills.

She needed a LOT of these pills.

At least I didn’t room with Mandy.  God have mercy on that poor woman’s soul.  Her roomie seemed incredibly laid back.  Maybe they dosed her with a lot of meds.  I hope so.  Mandy’s completely unidentical cousin was also in the same unit.  She looked apologetic a lot.  We felt sorry for her.  I can only imagine the family reunions.

Now why didn’t they make Mandy take her meds?  Cause they can’t.  They can’t force you to take anything, nor can they restrain you unless you are an imminent threat to your life or someone else’s.  No, for the real stuff you gotta go to a state facility.  Our hospital is a holding pen for these people – for up to six months.  Yup.  Six months with psychotic people who can barely be controlled.  She’d already been there a few weeks when I got there.  How those nurses, techs, and counselors stayed in their jobs I will never, ever know.  I think I’d be shoving pills down Mandy’s throat.  After tying her to some railroad tracks.

We could tie Taylor on there with her.

We could tie Taylor on there with her.

But I digress.  Group meetings were completely useless since she could not stay down for more than a few seconds and was constantly interrupting then saying sorry and interrupting again.  Also the Grinch was always griping about all us annoying Whos and how she was HANDICAPPED and couldn’t walk (though she’d walked into the room) and that the staff were total jerks.  She couldn’t figure out why no one leaped up to help her.

At one point, the Grinch and Mandy got into a shouting match and I shamefully admit I was waiting for them to duke it out so maybe we could call the police to take them away.  Also it would have been entertaining.  We had little entertainment since they never let us go outside or get exercise in spite of telling us in Group that this relieved depression.  No fresh air for you!

I reached my breaking point about 1 AM the morning of my release day.  I was up waiting for them to change Grinch’s sheets and dose her with enough stuff to make her go back to sleep.  Mandy was shouting, as usual, and I turned and yelled “MANDY!  BE QUIET!  I NEED TO SLEEEEEEP!”  She blinked at me, shocked.  “Oh, I didn’t know I was being loud!”

Just kill me now.

Just kill me now.

One of the nurses must have seen the deranged look in my eye so she sat down with me.  She asked me the usual questions.

Nurse: Do you feel suicidal?

Me: No.

Nurse: Do you feel homicidal?

I looked right at Mandy.

Nurse: Moving on . . .

She finished her checklist and helpfully talked me down from my tree.  Mandy was headed for state lockup – they’d luckily found her a spot.  Maybe because the staff threatened to quit in mass?  I would have.  I still don’t know why they couldn’t have found her a nice padded room of her own somewhere far, far away from the rest of us.  But then, her presence did tell me that there is no real escape from life.  The crazies are everywhere.

So Mandy left at 4 AM the same day as my departure.  Hello, Silence, my old friend.  So that gave me about five or six hours of actually enjoying myself a little before being unceremoniously booted out of the ward.  But I did make friends.  They say in wartime, soldiers become very close.  It’s the same in the crazy ward.  I met one woman in particular that I still text.  We and a few others laughed a lot while we were there as we talked about all the patients and their quirks.  One of them pointed out:

“Hey – I just realized we’re the mean girls of the mental unit.”

Cause then we couldn't judge how much less nuts you are than we are.

Cause then we couldn’t judge how much less nuts we are than you are.

Why not?  You take your perks where you can.  This crazy story has a happy ending.  I got a pill – a teeny, tiny little pill that has been an absolute miracle.  I also experienced a little bit of the old Jewish tale “It could always be worse.”  I have true compassion for those with mental illness, even Mandy (when she’s far away from me) and frustration at the lack of decent care for them.  I hope one day we can build more and better facilities around the country, because it’s not just a few of us out here.  There are more than you know, living day to day, undercover.

It’s time for us all to be able to come out into the light.

Brave

“Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
SHOW ME HOW BIG YOUR BRAVE IS!!”

– Sara Bareilles

brave 3

What is brave?  Is it the firefighter who rescues the child from the burning building?  Is it the soldier who fights in a foreign country?   Is it the policeman who takes a risk every time she responds to a call?

Yes.

But it’s so much more too.  Brave is anybody who has overcome adversity, who hasn’t let it turn them to the dark side, who takes one step forward every day despite chronic pain, sick children and relatives, mental anguish, abuse, or even just the stress of everyday life.

Brave is me.

I didn’t used to think this, and sometimes I still scoff at it.  I’d never climb a burning building, or volunteer to fight a war, or try to bust a drug ring.  When scared, I tend to run in terror, scream and shout.  But then, so would many people.  But all of us, deep down, have bravery.  It’s just not the exciting kind found in the movies.  I think Sara Bareilles says it so well in her song “Brave”.

“Everybody’s been there,
Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy
Fallen for the fear
And done some disappearing,
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, just stop holding your tongue”

brave

Brave is the kid who goes to public school, who struggles with subjects that are hard, with teachers that are sometimes cold and harder, with fellow students who unleash cruelty at anyone who is different.  Who do these things even home life gets tough as well.

Brave is the husband who goes to work everyday even when he hates his job.  Who does his work even when his boss does nothing, and does his best.  Who fixes his wife’s car, goes to get her prescriptions, and takes care of their children, his job, and everything else when she has to be gone.  Who supports her when she cannot support herself.

Brave is the mom who recognizes when she can’t do it by herself anymore.  Who risks the stigma of mental illness by admitting it.  Who leaves the husband and children and goes into a scary hospital to get medicine and counseling, though it breaks her heart and her wallet to do so.  Brave is the mom who writes about it on a public blog.

I am that mom.

brave 2

“And since your history of silence
Won’t do you any good,
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?”

When I got home from the hospital, Thing Two and I talked.

Me: I only went away so I could be a better Mom.

Thing Two: You already were.

Maybe so, because my kids sure are amazing.  But now I hope to be even better.  I have another chance.  I’m giving it all I have.

And if I can, so can you.

“Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave”

Camp Loopy Revisited: Geriatric Fight Club Edition

So I had a problem with my meds.  Again.  Let’s just say Fetzima (new depression drug that sounds like Princess Jasmine’s pal) and Xanax (no, not the Scientology god) and I are not pals.

Back to camp!  I wasn’t so scared this time cause like I’d totally done it before and I was in there with a bunch of grumpy people but no one all that bad.  Relaxation!  No responsibility!  Someone monitoring my meds so I don’t have major meltdowns at dinner parties!  What could go wrong?

I went through the tedious process of getting admitted.  It took so long getting admitted I started to cry but the guy talking to himself stopped long enough to go get me a kleenex box (honest to God truth).  They told me I was going to be in the geriatric wing cause they were all full up everywhere else.  Full moon brings out the crazies.  And I was like, hey, kindly old people.  No problem!

The Elderly are all so sweet and adorable!

The Elderly are all so sweet and adorable!

I’m an idiot.

There are a lot of rocking chairs in the geriatric wing.  There are also a lot of people OFF their rockers.  Really off.  And not all of them were that old.  There were a few like me that they were like, eh, put her here, whatevs, kindly old people.  But mostly they were old.  And nuts.

First person I met was Lulu (names changed to protect the looney).  When they tried to get her vitals, she decided to lie on the floor and do the backstroke.  Lulu was a very large old lady, and they were already short staffed with more patients being assigned all the time (one nurse basically threatened the life of whoever tried to dump another one on her without going through the proper channels, before politely introducing herself to me).  Anyway, they just let her hang out on the floor most of the day.  This was apparently not the first time.

But they had help!  Enter Dr. Patient, who decided she would help Lulu by talking to her about how they used to know each other (no idea if this was true) and she could just stand and walk.  Sadly Dr. Patient was not Jesus, so Lulu stayed on the floor, though she did add in some jazz hands to her act.  Dr. Patient gave up, turned to us all and announced “Just ignore her everyone!  She only wants attention.”  I wanted to know where her stolen clipboard was, because I was pretty sure I was in the middle of the movie Dream Team.

Think the guy on the far left.  I soon became the Micheal Keaton guy.

Think the guy on the far left. I soon became the Micheal Keaton guy.

I got assigned to a room with a sweet lady named Ruth.  She pulled me over to whisper some important information.

“Hello, I’m Ruth.  What’s your name?”

“Alice.”

“You should know, Alice, that there are people who are not right in the head here.  I don’t know what’s wrong with them.”

“Uh, mental illness?” I guessed.

“I don’t know where their brains are.  You seem like a sweet girl.  I like you.”

So at least my roomie was okay.  And I was pretty popular.  I wasn’t there fifteen minutes before another elderly lady told the staff  “My roommate is violent.  I want to room with her.”  She pointed at me.  Because clearly one look at me said I wasn’t violent.  By the end of my stay this would change.

Alice, the before picture

Alice, the before picture

At first I felt really awkward here.  All my fellow inmates were – well I’m not really sure where they were, though the bodies were taking up all the good rocking chairs.  Because I concentrate on what’s most important.

I found out that they give meals to the old people last, which was odd.  I mean these guys get senior discounts and everything, so shouldn’t they go first?  What do I know?  When we finally got to supper I was excited. I don’t know why so many of the healthy patients don’t go to supper.  This is your only chance for freedom here.  I had a cold corn dog, but the rest of the food during my stay was fantastic.  That’s one thing I can give them.  Food: A+

I found out there wasn’t a whole lot of structure here.  Not even a written schedule that wasn’t followed.  On the plus side, they helped you with your laundry while saying you really don’t need help with your laundry, and there were hospital beds you could move up and down. Whee.  At bedtime  I headed for my room and Ruth asked, “Is this where the women sleep?”   Well, uh, this was where these two women slept, but whatever.  Then she smiled at me pleasantly.

“Hello, I’m Ruth.  What’s your name?”

My first night I had a hard time sleeping even with extra meds.  I really wish I had slept that night, because that was the ONLY night I would not get interrupted.

The days sort of blurred together.  I saw my shrink who is notorious for not looking or listening to people and he was sympathetic and patted me on the back and said “Hello Sunshine” while I was there and WTF did my shrink get new meds?  Who cares, I liked it.  He put me on a very small dose of abilify to activate the lazy meds.  I tried this before, but he wanted to try it again and monitor it closer so I didn’t gain weight.  I was willing to be a very fat happy person at this point.  Like Santa.

Always take your meds,  kids!

Always take your meds, kids!

I did meet another younger person I’ll call Susan.  She had a walker with a cushy chair because of MS and we clicked right away.  I can’t remember exactly when we started talking – it might have been around the time of the rumble.  No, really.  We got this new older lady who was like part Wolverine cause she bit the heads off of all the staff for losing – something.  And wow did she shout about it.  And shout.  And shout.  Oh, and if you didn’t catch it, she was in pain.  PAIN!!!  Not sure if she really was or not, but way to go motivating the nurses to help, lady.

She took off on her walker and another patient was in her way and I didn’t see the good part, but next thing I knew Miss Manners was on the floor howling that she’d been pushed and insisting on cops and lawyers and possibly Satan himself to punish the other patient.  The other patient mentioned the “f” word and the nurses had to break it up.  And here I was ready to get the popcorn.

Yup.

Yup.

Ruth left that day.  Guess who they made my new roommate?

At night Miss Manners woke me up around 1 or 2 AM.  She had wet the bed and needed new briefs.  I got the nurses.  I did feel some compassion for her – obviously we’ll all be there one day if we live long enough.  But then I could not fall back asleep which meant it was hard for me to tell the docs how well I was sleeping.  Um, well as you can with an incontinent woman?

We had some awkward times in Group after that, with both MM and her evil attacker there.  Let’s just say Relaxation Therapy was a bit more difficult.  Especially when the teacher shouted “GET OUT OF MY SPACE!” at me right before the lesson.

But mostly I was bored.  I even went with my new normal pal Susan to the chemical dependency group because I figured I’d better know now what to do.  We met with another unit.  A girl tried to steal Susan’s walker by dragging it back to her unit.  Twice.

But still, I got used to where I was.  I started to enjoy most of the people, and the nurses were awesome.  I had to stay extra time because of the weekend (no one is discharged on the weekend . . . because) and I cried a little (my shrink was like oh no, don’t cry!  Really, wtf with this guy) but then I decided, hey, it’s not that bad. I can hack it with a little help from my friends.

So of course they decided to move me to another unit.  Much like getting moved to the worst level of Dante’s Inferno.

To be continued . . .

 

My Life

How I see my life . . . (Click to Enlarge)

At most, I'm only one step ahead.  Don't trip!  Don't drop anything!  Yay adulthood is fun!

At most, I’m only one step ahead. Don’t trip! Don’t drop anything! Yay adulthood is fun!

 

 

 

The Trouble with Alice

I’ve been trying to put what’s going on with me into words, and I don’t have anything but CRAYYYYYY CRAYYYYY, which makes for a somewhat lackluster post.  But I’ll try anyway.  I’ve struggled with my anxiety / depression for a while now.  And the anxiety finally reached a breaking point on Thursday when the counselor suggested I go to le Chateau de Mentals.

It probably shows how twisted I am that it occurred to me that might make an interesting blogpost, going into the mental hospital.  Possibly I have been blogging too long.  Anyway, it also terrified me, and I’m not totally sure how it would help anyway.  Sharing a room with another crazy person, going to group therapy with a group of crazy people, and paying through the nose for it.  Actually, there is not enough money in my nose or elsewhere for such a thing.  And I have insurance, good insurance, that will pay 30 percent of a stay after a rather large deductible.  In other words, I will still owe thousands of dollars.  If I were on medicaid, it’d all be paid for, but since I have insurance, this hospital offers no financial help.

I have nothing against anyone on medicaid, but I believe everyone should have the chance to be treated.  If they want to, which as I said earlier, I’m not even sure if I do.  If I knew for sure they would help, I might try it, because I am getting pretty desperate.  My body is one giant exposed nerve, like the White Rabbit on LSD having a really bad trip.  A sudden noise makes me jump out of my skin, and leaves me shaking.  I can’t handle conflict of any kind.  It’s just bad.

I am taking FMLA (unpaid but at least I keep my job) to try and get things together.  But right now I’m in limbo, cause I have no idea what they plan to do with me since I am not going into the hospital.  I don’t know how much time I’ll have off, what medicines they’ll try, nothing.  I just know that I’m taking the paperwork to the doctor on Monday, so at least I don’t have to go to work then.

One of the worst things about the state I’m in is that I have upset other people without intending to do so.  I fear I’ve lost relationships, or at least damaged them, and I have no one to blame but myself.  I’ve had to take a break from Facebook for a while, and I should probably take a break from
other WordPress blogs.  I have honestly considered just unfollowing everybody and starting over slowly.  I mean nothing personal, but the number of blogs is overwhelming.  Everything right now is overwhelming.  When I’m better, I will pick back up on them.  I would like nothing better than to be able to help others, but right now I’m not in the shape for it.  And I know I’m not the only one.

I do have some posts, funny posts, that I plan to get to because I do still need this blog.  I treasure all your comments and I’m never happier than when I make someone laugh.  As I mentioned before, I have some Game of Thrones reviews – I have become addicted to that stupid show like Crack, but I guess it beats reality TV.  Also, the girls and I recently composed a post about dead dogs in children’s literature and how much those books suck.  It’s a real romp.

I appreciate all my readers.  To my surprise, my stats have not fallen completely into the toilet in my absence.  Thanks for that.  I hope the rest of you are doing well, or at least better than Sad Pony and Squirrel.

Alice

Be Kind

We all have a voice in our heads.  I said a voice, not voices – in that case you might have a problem. But most of us have that voice that tells us to do things even when we don’t want to do them.  Necessary things.  Like wake up when the alarm goes off.  Get the kids ready for school and take them there.  Go to work.  Wash the laundry before it becomes your new carpet.  Etc.

This voice is comprised of many voices from our pasts, but most often it is the voice of parents.  After all, when you grow up, there’s no parent there anymore to tell you to do these things, so you have to do it yourself.  The problem comes with the tone of the voice.  Think of your boss.  Your boss wants you to do something.  He can either tell you nicely and be understanding, or he can act like a big jerk and yell at you.  Either one will get the job accomplished.  But one way is much worse than the other.

I have the big jerk in my head.  And yes, it sounds like my parents.  My parents didn’t abuse me physically.  They didn’t neglect me.  They love me.  I know this.  But they are also critical.  I never really know if I will hear approval or disapproval from them.  It’s like a slot machine.  Every tenth time or so, I might get cherries.  I keep pulling the lever, hoping for the cherries.

They mean well.  They want what is best for me, at least what is best for me in their eyes. Where others might see a road bump, they see the road going off of a cliff.  Best be prepared for the worst.  If you miss work, you’ll get fired.  If you buy this expensive item, you’ll be penniless.  If you make the wrong decision, the world could explode. Are you upset, Alice?  Did you remember to take your meds, Alice?  That must be it.

There must be a way to motivate myself without being so cruel.  I do have to go to work, and the longer I’m away from responsibilities like this, the harder it is to go back.  But if I’m sick, what then?  Do I go to work sick?  Am I even really sick?  You know how kids sometimes get those mysterious stomach aches?  My daughter, Thing One, had what is known as “the barking cough of adolescence.”  I had never heard of such a thing.  Basically, she developed a habitual hacking cough because she dreaded school – specifically P.E.  As soon as I heard this, I thought “the barking cough of adolescence” would be an awesome name for a post.  Or possibly a band name.

I am off of work today.  I have a deep cough.  I’m often sick like this because of asthma.  At least I think I have asthma – it depends on the doctor.  But sometimes I question myself.  Am I really sick enough to stay home, or am I faking it?  Is this the barking cough of middle age?  My father went to work while vomiting.  I’m certain the rest of the staff was thankful to him for it.  But he never missed a day!

If I was good enough, I wouldn’t get sick so much.  I’m probably not even sick.  It’s all in my head.  Right?  If I was normal, I wouldn’t miss any days.  I would be a better parent, wife, worker, friend.  Why can’t I do that?  Why can’t I make myself just clean my blooming house?  Why can’t I keep from getting these stupid minor illnesses over and over?  Why can’t I do what I need to do without kicking myself into action, and then continuing to kick again, and again?

Allie Brosh is the writer of the famous blog “Hyperbole and a Half”.  Even if you haven’t read her blog, you’ve probably seen memes of it.  The funny person holding up the broom and shouting “Clean all the things!”  That’s her work.  She has the ability to make you laugh so hard you fall over.  But she also has depression.  She has the mean voice.  And she shows the voice, in pictures, and I find myself saying “No, Allie, don’t be so mean.  You aren’t so bad.  It’s okay!”  I’d do the same thing for any friend.  I’d do the same for my own daughters.  But I have a hard time doing it for myself.

So how do you do it?  How do you motivate yourself to do what needs to be done, while still being kind?

My Chemical Wonderland

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall

I originally started this blog because I felt my life was much like Alice’s.  I never knew whether I was coming or going and nothing ever made sense.  Such is life.  But add a few chemicals to the mix and boy do you get fun, fun, fun!   Soon you are chasing a rabbit down a hole.  Or is it chasing you?

I'm late!  WTF am I late for?

I’m late! WTF am I late for?

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
To call Alice, when she was just small

I have been on antidepressants since I was a teenager.  I once tried to get off of them and decided, bad idea.  People have all sorts of opinions on this subject, but I’m not arguing that.  I’m just talking about what’s happening with me, cause that’s what I care about, me.  So anyway, if you’ve been reading, I have been going through some medication changes that have affected me just a tad.

When the men on the chessboard get up
And tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know

I was put on abilify to help with the other two, and then I was taken off of that cause weight, and then I was put on this one called cytomel (they all sound like alien planets) and then off of that, and then back on that, and just now I had a new shrink tell me that I should go back ON abilify because hey the weight gain will plateau.  Or something.  He had a thick accent, so I’m not entirely sure what he said.  At this point, all doctors sound like these guys to me.

I think I'm the dormouse in this one.

I think I’m the dormouse in this one.

This was the on-call doctor after hours, who told me to tell my shrink that I should like, be on this pill.  But now I can’t remember why I got on the first pill to begin with – lack of energy?  Feeling all mixed up?  Wait, that’s how I feel now.  And the whole “it won’t be that bad, trust us” is a load of crap.  I’m starting not to trust these people.  Is it really paranoia if you’re dealing with shrinks who apparently must be nuts themselves in order to get a license?  I don’t think so.

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head,
Feed your head

The song I’ve been quoting from is called “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane.  It is totally trippy, man, even more so if you listen to it and watch this here far out video.  I don’t know why this lady is running on the beach.  Maybe she had some of the LSD they are talkin’ about in the song.

(Note: I first inserted the video, and it whacked out my formatting because WP thought it’d be amusing to mess with me on a post about being messed up.  Good play, WP.  I finally got it to work after much trial, error, and cursing.)

You’re begging me for Billy Ocean now, aren’t ya?

But I do think this song has truth to it, even though I’m not on any “fun” drugs like the guys writing the song most likely were.  Logic and proportion have fallen, and the white knight, the doctors in those nice coats, are talking backwards.  The red queen could be my outside stress – sick kids, sick me, work, home, marriage, yaddah yaddah – which causes a constant “off with your head” feeling to go through my body.  And they want to keep feeding my head.

Gee, let's try this one.

Gee, let’s try this one.

I’m tired of it.  I asked Alice, seeing as how that’s me, and she said let’s just call “time out” for a bit here, mmkay?  Stop feeding my head.  Let it rest.  I am not sure what the right path is now, but I know one thing.  I’m not blindly following any more rabbits, not without some information.  What kind of drug is this?  How does it affect me?  What should I watch out for?  Is there anything else I can do besides just go on another medicine?

Sleight weight gain?  WTF, I could fit in this house this morning!

Sleight weight gain? WTF?

My shrink does not want to discuss anything with me, cause he’s a jerk full of inflated self-importance.  I want, and deserve, someone who will work with me and I’m going to get it, somehow.  There are some possibilities right now.  I could see his nurse for the most part, and just check in with him once a year.  Like many nurses, she knows more about what she’s talking about than the doctor.  Or I might find another shrink somewhere.  I don’t know.  But I’m not letting him mess me around anymore.  I might not have a doctor’s degree, but I’m not stupid.

We're doctors, trust us.

We’re doctors, trust us.

This is my body, and my mind, and I only have one.  If things go bad, it’s on me, not them.  I’m the one who pays for it, with missed work, or messed up relationships, or spending more on bigger clothes, all things that are not listed in the official list of side effects.  I am invested in this.  I am my own advocate.  I must be – even when I’m small, which I am right now.  I’m scared, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen.  I’m not sure what I’m doing is right.

In the end, though, there’s just one person who can decide.  Have a question?  Go ask Alice.

I'm in charge now . . . I think.

I’m in charge now . . . I think.

all pictures from Lenny’s Alice in Wonderland site

The Sadz

I am still feeling the sadz, and it is really frustrating to feel sadz. I have no reason to feel that way, or to spell sadz with a “z”.  I just like spelling it that way because I can picture my former English teachers twitching every time I type it.  (Note: pictures done in crummy old paint, not my new graphics pad, because . . . too much trouble.)

Coming to blog posts near you.

Coming to blog posts near you.

But I was talking about sadz.  I have been struggling through work, even though people have made it hard on me.  For instance, patrons ask for crap.  Usually we don’t get that many people up there, but they seem to have sensed my sadz so now they are up in our little nook every freaking day.  And they want me to find them books or scan copies from ancient newspapers.

I hate the scanner.  I hate big bound newspapers.  I hate kindly old people who ask for impossible to scan projects that no one cares about.  Why does anyone care about football in the 1950s?  I don’t.  I don’t even care about football now.  But I am supposed to scan it cause it’s sort of my job.  It’s not like I have to cut people open.  That would be pretty scary.  I can just imagine a doctor saying “Sigh, I have to take his kidney out?  A-gain?  I’m tired.”  I mean, I sure would, but that’s why I’m not a doctor.

It's kind of hard to fit these papers in the scanner.  No, wait, it's impossible.

It’s kind of hard to fit these papers in the scanner. No, wait, it’s impossible.

But everything is monumental with the sadz.  Getting up in the morning for instance.  That’s a real pain.  I’d rather sleep.  Stuff happens too early.  And then the next day, the same stuff happens again, at the same time.  My alarm clock mocks me.  Hahahahahaha, sucker!  And then I have to get the Things up, who also do not want to get up, and then we have to somehow get to work and school without dying.  Sometimes it helps me to play “Shakedown” from Beverly Hills Cop and pretend like I’m a badass cop who is chasing down criminal parents in their SUVs.  Bus-ted.  But lately, I have not felt the urge to hunt down stupid people in my pretend cop car.  It’s too much trouble.

Last night I went to Hastings, a book and music store.  Ours is closing, which is double sadz because it is our only form of entertainment save Wal-mart.  The vultures have descended and now the place is a total wreck.  Employees could not give less of a crap at this point.  They know they’re not going to be there that much longer.  Sounds like an awesome job to me except for the long lines of customers buying up crap because, you know, sale.

Anyway, I wandered around in my awful big sweat pants (they fit!) and found nothing to buy.  I was hoping to find The Thing That Would Make Me Happy.  It was not at Hastings.  Hastings sucks.  So I got in my car, and then I cried.  About nothing.  And I drove home and I went to my room, and I laid on the floor and put my feet up on the bed.  I like laying on the floor with the sadz.  My husband thinks it’s annoying but I feel it adds a sense of drama to the whole thing to lay on hardwood floor.

sadz

Weirdly enough, laying like this helped me feel a little better.  The blood rushes to your head and your body kind of relaxes.  Technically it’s a lazy form of a lazy yoga move called legs up the wall, only my legs were on my bed.  I also had yoga blankets not three feet away but they were out of reach, so I just laid on the hard floor and stared up at the ceiling.  I had deep thoughts.

Like, hey, when you’re sadz, why do people tell you to think of all the good things you have?  Count your blessings, name them one by one.  Oh, yeah?  Well, bite me.  I mean, yes, I have blessings like a husband and Things and a house and food and all that stuff.  But that only makes me more sadz because now I’m guilty that I have this stuff but I’m not happy about it.

Also I eat too much food.  Pop tarts don’t make you happy.  They sure do taste nice, though.  Maybe I should send pop tarts to Africa.

Finally my family returned from church so I got off the floor.  Tomorrow is another day.  I hope I feel better then.  And I wish I had a better way to end this blog post.  Wait.  I know.

It's ME again!

It’s ME again!