I’ve been in therapy many years, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: the best way to determine your sanity is by how well you tolerate your doctors. I saw the Dallas doctors, and insisted repeatedly and to several people – including the nurses, the nurse practitioner, and finally the psychiatrist – about wanting to have a definite time for treatment to end. By the way, you get to talk to the psychiatrist on the hospital bed while they are preparing to hook you up to a machine – not distracting at all! Don’t worry, I was prepared to leap off the table and do karate-like chops had they decided to go ahead and treat me. I might have ended up in the looney bin, but their looney bin is kinda like a hotel as compared to the one in my hometown where people are stacked like cord wood- I saw pictures. Also my friend is a lawyer. So you know, I was prepared.
As expected, he got “oh-no-doctor-frowny-face” and rambled on about how studies show something- something. I said I want to know how many more treatments cause I’m ready to stop. Again. So he finally came around with spacing out two more treatments. One two weeks away, and the next another couple weeks. Well, he said two to three which to me means TWO. So I got knocked out, and they did whatever they do while I’m asleep – supposedly the treatment but you know they could be animating me like in that movie Weekend at Bernie’s, I don’t know. Then we did the long, long drive home but this time I was more sleepy than usual, so I don’t remember as much.
After getting home, life moved on. My Things started school again – weeeee! Thing Two is in 8th grade this year – one more year of dreaded junior high – and Thing One is . … . a junior in high school. Because I am kinda old. I was helping them fill out paperwork and remembering when I first filled out paperwork for Thing One at the pediatrician’s office. Under “Mother’s Name” I wrote my mom’s name. Now she’s 17 years old, and next year she can vote. Thank God! She and Thing Two should have been voting in elementary school. I believe in something called “mental age voting” which means that younger people who use their brains can vote, but older people who don’t use brains can’t. As I signed, Thing Two told me her teacher said most of us parents could be signing up for almost anything because we don’t look at what we’re signing. I protest – had that been a PTA form, you can bet I would have avoided it.
Later that day, I went to see my local shrink. He wanted to know about my 10 to 12 treatments. Funny. When I told him it was slightly more than that, I got “confused-face”. Lovely. I explained how I got better, but then I didn’t, but then I DID, but then kinda not and so many treatments later here I was. Then I started to get rather angry. Just how many treatments was I supposed to have? This is rather important stuff here when you’re dealing with a human’s brain. I happen to have one of the few remaining working ones, so I’d rather not change that, thanks. This is why we have to be in charge of our own health care, cause you can bet they are not going to have a clue. Their heads are filled with stuff they learned in school, which does not include interacting with people. People like patients, or their own medical freaking colleagues, for instance. I guess I should have checked back, but when during all the travel and such? Got me!
My husband was there to hold me down.
On the plus side, everyone else thinks I am better. And I am, I guess, now that I have time to sit and think a little. It’s taking a bit to get back in the grove of things, but thank God for Google, which will look up anything I need. Like when I couldn’t remember where the italics were for just a second only to find them again on the toolbar above the text box in WordPress. I’m sure if I had actual Microsoft Word on here (my former computer guy used to get me bootleg Microsoft Word before he went to jail shhhh) I would know where that toolbar is as well. I also finally figured out how to get into a program where I can talk to a counselor over the computer! I think!
I should warn her there’s an article that says some patients were flashing doctors. Because of course they were.
I haven’t made it back to work yet. After this summer of FUN, not sure I’m ready for that yet.
In case anyone was wondering why I haven’t been here in a month (I know I have), here’s an update. Still having ECT. Right now they say I am in maintenance treatments which is much like actual maintenance on highways and such- uncomfortable and lasts forever. I have been at this since June 5th or in my estimate, the beginning of time.
Earlier I promised to give a review of this controversial mental health treatment. Turns out it’s not really as cut and dry as medications. With those you can say “Well I took the Zufrika but it made me gain 15 pounds in my elbows and start watching Fox News so I stopped.” or “Scaramouchi gave me diarrhea but really got rid of my depression and I hope they get it back in stock soon.” It’s not either definitely successful or definitely a waste. I might be able to make a better determination after it finally ends, but it’s almost mid-August, and they haven’t given me a hint about when this stops for good.
When you start treatments, you generally do three a week, then you start spacing out once you feel better. I did feel better, enough that going back to work sounded good, but then as I mentioned I went back down again so I tried part-time, and then I tried no time. I have been on no time for a while, and though this has been good for my relaxation it hasn’t been so hot on my pocketbook. And it’s hard to tell just how much better you’ve gotten when you are still frequently driving six hours to a big city to spend the night, get shocked, and travel another six hours home again. The people at the hospital are nice, but that is wearing thin.
I should also note it’s not just depression but anxiety chumming around with me. And since the treatment meant stopping a medicine for that, I am Squirrel as often as Sad Pony. Vroooooom. Beep beep. Oh, if only I could feel better as easily as little boys, or our President, with a big red truck.
Twice I have felt much, much better. But each time I’ve gone back to – not so great. While yes I am better than I was before any treatments, I can’t really tell you exactly how I’m feeling now, because therapy requires way too much naval gazing. How are you now? How about now? Or now? Or now – compared to yesterday? Or last week? Or before you started? Here, fill out this sheet of questions about whether you are definitely sad, or kind of sad, or slightly less sad than that, or happy! What do you mean you’re confused?
I’m starting to wonder if I have to start lying on the “happy sheet” in order to make them stop. Tapering down on treatments is the best way to go – but this taper is not just slow it’s a crawl. I went from three times a week, to two times a week, to once a week. We might go back two weeks after my treatment tomorrow. And then – I don’t know. Three weeks apart? A month? How about a never? My brain may not be scrambled (completely – you have to remember the condition before) but I’m tired. Each treatment, besides being away from my Things and requiring a trip to Dallas, requires fasting the night before, having anesthesia, getting disgusting goop stuck in my hair, and then the fun waking up where I stumble around and hope someone catches me. It gets old.
I have many ideas for posts that I would like to write. I’ve not been good about sitting down to do it. Or at doing much else useful. It has been nice to just breathe. But I don’t quite know what’s next. I do want to get back to it, though, because a lot is happening right now! Maybe I will finish my treatment before North Korea blows up Guam! Or us! I definitely want to be there should justice actually happen and our dear presidente get taken to his next vacation home behind bars.
If I figure anything out, I’ll let you know! Probably. If you read this, feel free to leave me links to anything you wrote so I can have something to read. It’s good to get out of my head.
Hello, all, for a change I decided to write a post on stupid politics. This one, though, is about the effect of politics, and this election specifically, on mental health. I know – who would get mental problems from this election? It is posted on a mental health blog called Canvas of the Minds. It’s a great site where bloggers from all over blog about mental health. Sometimes with snark – if they are me. So please visit Canvas and check out the other authors as well, or let those in your life who deal with this fun stuff know about it too. I will close comments so people will, hopefully, comment over there.
Couldn’t figure out how to reblog. So here is the link. LINK DROP!
Yesterday I saw an article posted on Facebook about Adam Richman, the guy from Man Vs. Food. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of that show – it’s about a guy who travels the world and shovels food in his face to win such novelties as a T-shirt and heart disease. But, hey, he travels! So totally Travel Channel. I’m just shocked it wasn’t on TLC.
Though no one on TLC, it turns out, is as big a scumbucket as this guy. It makes me angry to even recall it. The show has been off two years, though Travel continues to show it again and again. In that time, dear Adam lost a lot of weight. Yay, now he looks so much older! Oh, and he’s totally healthy because thin! He posted a selfie of himself bragging about his weight loss and using the hashtag “thinspiration.” Turns out thinspiration is a term people with eating disorders use. News to me. Anyway a blogger named Amber Sarah (who OMG is fat!) told Adam about this and he said “Oh, didn’t realize that. I’ll just drop that particular hashtag.” Hahaha, no of course he didn’t. He told her “Do I look like I give a f**k?” She tried again, and got a friend to try, and when they were ignored, she hit up her followers who started bugging him. So he just ignored them.
No, of course he didn’t. He went freaking off the wall crazy, tweeting such gems as “If anyone acts like a c**t, I’ll call them one. It’s not misogyny, it’s calling a spade a spade.”, “Eat a bag of sh*t”, and most chilling of all “Seriously, grab a razor blade and draw a bath. I doubt anyone will miss you.”
It is impossible to fully express my anger at this because it’s wrong on SO many levels. And it just gets worse if you look at the comments. I know, I should never do this, but I thought surely people would be as enraged as I was. Nope. Here are some of the responses from various articles.
“There is no excuse for HER behavior. She weighs 1,000 pounds and doesn’t want anyone else to be happy that they are thin and in good shape.”
A picture of her – on her article – with the caption “Its Tinkerfat the land whale princess.”
“People are way too sensitive. I don’t think anything he said was wrong. He’s lost a lot of weight and is proud of himself, as well he should be.”
“Who wouldn’t want that nutjob to commit suicide? He may have been ranting, but be honest . . . most of us were cheering him on because we are so damn tired of people trying to cause trouble or thin skinned or offended by small thing. I know he’s in the public eye and has to apologize . . . but I hope it is the fakest damn apology ever.”
“Since when does a “Blogger” like that monster Amber Sarah have the power to get a television show pulled? She’s a BLOGGER! They aren’t real! That pig should take note of what he did and hit the gym. So sick of Liberal PC nonsense ruining people’s lives.”
Commenters who disagreed with these views were often disregarded with slams like “You must be fat yourself.” Right, cause you have to also be overweight to think telling another human being they should kill themselves because they are worthless is wrong. Here’s news to these people, and to darling Adam. There are PEOPLE on the other side of that screen. People who kill themselves everyday partly because they are judged by their appearance.
The ironic thing is that many overweight people are not unhealthy. They eat well and exercise. Some people will always be thin because of metabolism, even if they eat McDonalds for every meal. That doesn’t make them more healthy. And even if the person IS an unhealthy weight, that doesn’t mean their brains work less. It doesn’t mean they are worth less.
I am disgusted that my daughters must grow up in a world where completely unrealistic body images are seen as the norm, and deviating from that means ostracism, discrimination, abuse. Where it’s better to starve oneself than to have a little meat on your bones.
Adam has the right to “free speech”. So did the blogger. And the Travel Channel had the right to “postpone his new show indefinitely”. There is such a thing as karma, Adam, and consequences for your actions. I only wish his losing his new show was the only consequence, but it’s just a symptom of a very sick world where it’s better to be dead than fat.
In case you missed part one of my voyage to Middle Earth, er, Loopy, click here.
I had this wooden bed with a comfy mattress that was “no longer bolted to the floor” as they said. But I didn’t lay there long because they called us for supper. People were already lined up, but the guy at front reading a book waved me forward. Ladies first. One of the other women bitched because she was a bloody Marine and didn’t need special treatment. Whatever. Women still aren’t paid as much as men. I take my perks when I get them.
The food was actually pretty good. I was warned against the Salisbury steak and took the Chicken Alfredo. Some of the others stared suspiciously at the noodles. And I thought I was picky. The cafeteria lady was simply charming, growling at us as we picked our food. A fellow Looney, Kleenex girl, said “Could you please smile?” Cafeteria woman glared and said “I AM smiling.” Right. Moving on.
They only had diet sodas. So apparently caffeine was okay, but not caffeine and sugar. Though you could have juice, chocolate milk, and dessert. Whatever. I got all of the above. No one said what I was limited to, so I figured I’d get my money’s worth.
We only had plastic forks and spoons. No knives. Nevermind that you’d have to work pretty hard to slice yourself or anything else for that matter with a plastic knife, we didn’t get one. This was okay with the noodles, not so much with the chicken they later served. I ended up eating it medieval style, spiking it with my fork.
Once back to the room, they served dessert, but did not allow us a spoon. Some wily people had smuggled their spoons in, but the rest of were out of luck. Apparently you can shank yourself or your pal with a spoon if you break off the handle. Thank goodness for the mental hospital, or I wouldn’t know half the ways a person could kill herself.
This wouldn’t have been so bad if they had served us cake instead of ice cream and yogurt. Try eating that shit without a spoon. We did it, sure, but wtf. I mean, why give that as dessert and not allow spoons unless you’re conducting some kind of bizarre experiment? Maybe that was the idea. If so, I can tell you the results. It annoys the mentals.
There was one big screen TV, but a lot of us, so you had to stay with whatever the person holding the remote picked. That turned out to be American Idol. I was just thankful it wasn’t Fox News, or I might have had to steal a spoon and shank someone. The Meatloaf dude won over the Katy Perry look-a-like. Yay.
We were given our pills in an orderly fashion. This is the point where they doubled my anxiety meds without informing me they were doing so. I wouldn’t figure this out for a while yet. They doled what were little more than hand towels for our showers. The Hitchhiker’s guide is right. Wherever you go, bring a decent towel. I didn’t have a towel, or any clothes at all to change into because I was waiting on my husband to come by with them. This had not happened. No big deal except that I really needed new underwear. There’s another lesson. Don’t just wear clean undies, carry another pair. I mean, you never know.
They had nothing in the bathroom, not even soap which seemed kind of unsanitary seeing as how you do have to pee and all. I got hospital versions of all the toiletries and took a shower. Normally I hate showers because mine has not been cleaned since Obama’s first term. But this one was nice except that it turned off multiple times and you had to keep smacking the button to get more water. But it was all mine and I didn’t have to clean it. Score.
Earlier I talked about how they made rounds every 15 minutes – and how the doors had to remain at least partially open. This is not so bad during the day, but kind of sucks at night. Especially if your tech has bronchitis and thinks she must yank your door open all the freaking way every time she stops by while coughing her head off. Twit.
The lights outside the room never go off, and the TV didn’t go off until 11 pm. Thank goodness for knock-out meds or I don’t know how anyone would get sleep. I did wake up the night twit tech went by and couldn’t fall back asleep so I cried. A really nice nurse stopped by and talked with me a little bit. “What can you do about it now?” she asked. Nothing. Good advice. I’m trying to remember it still.
There was very little individual counseling here. Almost everything was group. I think you’ll find that at many mental health places, because it’s cheaper for them. It sucks for the patients, though, because frack if you’re going to get some one on one anywhere, shouldn’t it be at the hospital? The shrink does stop by on certain days, but most of them have social disorders and don’t talk. I got sneaky though. Cornering nurses, getting counselors by themselves and at last resort, calling the Chaplain. We had fun dissing the Church of Christ together. I liked him.
Okay so I didn’t get to Nurse Ratched – yet! Stay tuned.
Earlier I said I would tell more about my inpatient stay, and I do want to do that in case someone else is scared to go to the hospital like I was. Every hospital is different, but if you are desperate enough, any hospital beats suicide, so please go.
When I finally decided to go (and undecided about 20 times while on the way there and in the waiting room) I was so terrified I was scaling my husband like a cat climbing a tree. It is safe to say that I have never been so scared in my entire life.
There were a lot of hoops to jump through just to get there, or rather, locked door after locked door. I went through most of these hoops with my husband and a nice young woman who was talking on her cell phone Zomg she did not have a cell phone. She was just talking to herself, like, a complete conversation. Also, she would cry for a few seconds, then laugh. I was certain they were going to put me in a room with her and then my anxiety would get so high I would literally stick to the ceiling. “Don’t worry,” my husband whispered. “You aren’t like her.” Wasn’t worried about that. I was worried that everyone was going to be just that cuckoo. And the ceiling thing.
But as it turned out, it wasn’t so bad. They put me in the Veteran’s unit, where there were mostly surly people like myself. The lady who was her own best friend went elsewhere.
All I had with me was my purse. They took it and locked it up. No cell phones here. No computers. (ZOMG the withdrawalllll) Also nothing that could ever, ever in your wildest imagination, be used to harm yourself. Like my shoe laces. I wondered exactly what you would do with shoelaces since they were too short for a decent noose then I thought well maybe someone could try to choke themselves, but that seems difficult, or cut off circulation, and then I thought, you know, I really don’t want to know. Please no one tell me. My shoes wouldn’t stay on without laces, so I had to give those to my husband. Also my hair clip. And my bra with the underwire. Thankfully not my undies.
Then a guy asked me to rate my depression and anxiety on a scale from one to ten. This would be the first of MANY times this question was asked. When I said ten (or really 20) on both, he said “If it’s because you’re here, don’t worry. It’s not One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. They’re putting you in the Veteran’s unit. They’re pretty laid back over there.” You know, for mental patients. I was not convinced. They then separated me from my husband and my terror notched up higher still. They took me through more locked doors (up to the dungeon!) and into the unit. One guy was sitting out reading a book. Other than that, it was nurses. I sat and waited for them to take vitals while they pretty much ignored me. After a while, I started near hyperventilating with my crybabies, but most people in Camp Loopy didn’t seem to notice. I guess they see it enough.
Finally after checking me out for scars and bruises (I had a few but I explained that I honestly, for reals, just walked into walls on a regular basis), they left me in my room – one bed, some shelves, and best of all, no roomie. I think I was the only one who didn’t have a roommate. I’m not sure if it was because I was the only one paying with private insurance or I was just a speshul snowflake, but I didn’t care cause MINE. There was also a tiny bathroom with this tiny shower. It had a curtain in front of it, which was good, cause that was pretty much your only privacy. You had to leave the door at least partially open all the time. Rounds were every 15 minutes. These guys were really concerned about us. Also their jobs.
There were two types of employee there most of the time. The nurses and the techs. You could tell them apart by scrub color. The nurses gave you your meds. The techs . . . couldn’t give you meds. They could unlock the laundry room door. Cause of course the laundry room was locked. Nobody taking rides in the dryer here!
We had frequent “group time”, kind of like circle time in kindergarten. These were on the schedule which was mostly followed. I got to know the other inmates, er, patients. One of them pointed a Kleenex box at me and said I was making excuses. At that point, I just got upset. By the end of my visit, had she done the same thing, I might have tried to shove it up her nose. But she wasn’t all bad – really none of them were.
A few of them I almost never saw because they slept most of the time, in spite of the techs shouting at them to go to group, supper, etc. A few were just really quiet. The women were quite outnumbered – only four of us compared to probably thirteen, fourteen men. Hard to say since a few didn’t leave their rooms. Each day someone would leave, or a few someones, and someone else would come in.
I was there from Tuesday evening until Friday afternoon. Each day had different employees, different patients, and different rules. But there was still routine and best of all, no decisions to make. They told you when to eat, when to shower, when to go to group, when to take your meds, etc. For the first time in my life I did not feel responsible for anybody else but me.
. . . stay tuned for Nurse Ratched!
I always hated group work in school. It sucked. Then you grow up and go a little off the deep end and bam, they make you do group work all over again.
Currently, I’m in an outpatient program that involves a lot of group “therapy”. First we have to fill out a form called a, not kidding, “happy sheet” with numbers rating how we are feeling on certain days. Like Angry, Sad, Anxious, Hopeless, Bored as Shit, etc. I added the last one, but it should be on there. You also have to say how well you slept. Well, fuck, I don’t know, I was sleeping. I know I need help because I can’t even fill out the happy sheet correctly because I forget whether 10 is the best or the worst, so sometimes I just randomly circle 5.
The therapist looks at your sheet and then asks you how you’ve been. Turns out most of us have not been well. Which is why we’re there. While each person gets a turn at whining, the rest of us either try to look concerned or just say fuck it and nap. We’re all either sleep deprived from insomnia or just stoned on various pharmaceuticals so it’s generally accepted. Better than work meetings where this is usually frowned upon.
I have not been declared ready for work yet (sarcastic sadface) because I still have meltdowns. Wednesday was because this lady tried to talk about time management and lists and all I could see was this endless stream of shit I hadn’t done yet and I had to leave so I could freak out and the nurse seemed concerned with this. Thursday was music therapy and the lady brought fucking drums and we all had to play in a circle and make up our own rhythms which I ain’t got and it just kept going and going and we were supposed to remember our turns and think while there was banging and I wanted to hit the therapist with the drum repeatedly. I would have tried to play a creative rhythm while I did.
Friday we talked about what made us Angry, Sad, Scared, etc. I said drums for every one, among other things. But then someone started talking about traffic and the conversation steered off into an actual car wreck as people talked about all the accidents they had been in and how dangerous it was to drive when I was going to have to drive in the next fifteen minutes or so and I was like “subject change” and they said sure and then went back to traffic and I left and the nurse called my husband and said I really shouldn’t drive home cause for some reason I am having problems. She thinks I want to kill myself. That’s not true. I want to kill everyone else.
Part of the problem is that I happen to like stuff like routine and we’ve had absolutely none of that. The regular therapist was gone last week, so we got therapist of the day. It’s always reassuring when your therapist asks “Am I supposed to be here?” when she first shows up. Then you get to tell your problems over and over again which is super fun, especially for the ones who have irritating and possibly made-up problems. Like this one chick who couldn’t seem to gain weight and constantly talked about how people were so hot for her and her stepfather was stalking her and every time someone made a suggestion for help she said no because he was in the police’s pocket you see, and I don’t care.
We also have different psychiatrists prescribing the drugs. So far I’ve seen three – one in inpatient and two more in outpatient. I’ve been in outpatient 7 days by the way. The first shrink put me on lithium and the third one took me off. It hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference on my anxiety. I’m normal for a while, then I want to climb a tree until I take my pills and then I just want to be unconscious. I thought if I told my parents about my therapy – who were sure to disapprove because I was missing WORK and should suck it up – I would feel better. I brought my husband. So my parents screwed with me and were like, nice, and offered me money, which was my other worry. So parents and part of the finance worries down, and supposedly job covered by FMLA. No problems!
Except yeah there are because I’m still fucking anxious for some reason. Also there is this anger that kind of takes off into near shouted expletives I normally save for my family blog here. One group member, a guy in the military, said “Holy crap, and she’s the librarian!” Yes, buddy, librarians have RAGE too. And I’m not sure if there is a pill for that. I’m not sure about anything. Except I’ll be a group again, same time, same place this week. I only hope the girl is there who wants to stab people in the eye with a pen. I like her.
First of all, I want to thank all of you for your kind words of encouragement. I finally took a step toward my own wellness this past Tuesday. I checked myself into the mental hospital, or, as I prefer to call it, Camp Loopy.
Because it really was kind of like a summer camp for kindergarteners, if said camp took place mostly indoors and every door was locked. Later, I may try to tell in more detail about the three nights I spent there, but for now, I’m going to go with a top ten list.
Top Ten Ways a Mental Ward is like Kindergarten
1. Circle Time: We went to “group” where we played show and tell and some of us were kind of obnoxious about it. I once had a Kleenex box pointed at me in a threatening manner.
2. Walk in single file. We walked in single file lines to the cafeteria and the hospital staff had to count us to make sure no one got lost. I proposed a game of hide and seek while the staff wasn’t looking, which the staff didn’t think was so funny, but my fellow Looneys did.
3. Use your imagination. We were told to relax and picture ourselves on a sandy beach. One Looney who was a veteran said “Like Afganistan?” with an evil smile.
4. Cut and Paste. Once we cut rocks and diamonds out of paper – rocks for the hard things in life, diamonds for the good things. One guy just glued his whole page to the black paper instead of cutting the stuff out. I wondered why I hadn’t thought of that. We didn’t get to keep the safety scissors.
5. You get to color. One guy colored a picture of Tinker Bell, and asked what color to make her dress. I said red because she’s kind of a tramp. He agreed and added red lipstick too. Then he gave his picture to one of the techs who actually hung it on the wall.
6. There were stupid rules. Like no keeping food in your room, even if the other people (it was mostly men) ate like hogs and all the snacks in the common area went fast. One tech dude stole my graham crackers. I wasn’t happy.
7. Keep your hands to yourself. No touchies here. This was not Mental Mingle.
8. Meltdowns. You could usually count on someone crying or throwing a hissy fit.
9. No cell phones allowed. Everyone had to share the phone but no one limited their calls. And yes, kindergarteners have phones now.
10. Time Out. Since you can’t leave, you’re pretty much always in detention.
Anyway, I’m still working on recovery, so bear with me a while yet. But the skies are looking better. Especially since I can see them now.