March 23, 2013
… A mental Monkey Man.
Chances are that what I don’t get blogged today, I won’t blog tomorrow, so here I go before another day passes.
Yesterday was the “anniversary” of the day I got the call that Monkey Man was found dead. I don’t even know if I should call it “anniversary”. Something about the connotation of that is upsetting me. So anyway, I’ll just say, a year ago yesterday, I got the news that Monkey Man was no longer with us.
Those of you that followed me back then know the story. I will not repeat it, nor do I want to. Yesterday, I spent most of the therapy session talking about it. And slowly but surely I realize that I am moving past this. The pain will never be completely gone, but I am ok with that now. I am working at managing my life and actually FEEL ALIVE today.
Brunet Young and I discussed so much and I felt relieved. I told her how sometimes I feel “happy” that he’s gone and feel like a “bad” person for that. We later found that maybe “happy” wasn’t the right word. No, not at all.
I cried in front of her for the first time. There are just too many emotions to describe or begin to recognize when someone you love dies this way–by their own hands. And there is A LOT OF ANGER! I for one have dealt with anger management problems all of my life (common in peopole with BPD). She suggested maybe, in a way, I’m relieved, definitely not “happy” about it. And that’s ok. It doesn’t mean I’m, a “bad” person.
Why else would so many of the depressing blog posts on here be about him?
One thing I did this week was draw this portrait in memory him. A.F., his stepsister gave me this picture she took of us sometime in 2006-2007. It was what she calls the “happy summer”. Strangely enough, I was very depressed then, but Monkey Man was glowing and everyone said it was on account of me being there.
The relationship I had with him was so intense, so wonderful, so terrifying, so loving yet so abusive at times. I learned a lot from that relationship.
But I did love him and I know he loved me.
Correction, I do love him. I know he’d be proud of how well things are going for me these days. I found a text he had sent me on my phone about two months ago, it reads:
“It’s ok my love. U r one of the most powerful people i know. I wish i had the strength u have”
Art brings me comfort.
March 19, 2013
It’s almost the end of the third month into 2013. I blogged for mental health all of last year. No, no. I BEGGED for mental health all of last year. And I never pledged the pledge but I walked the walk or whatever.
My fellow Canvas bloggies have established a pledging that connects people with the mental-health blogging community. This blog has been a reflection of my personal journey in the last year and a half. My mental health has improved drastically since then. No drastically sounds too negative. It has improved INCREDIBLY.
I am at a point now where I’m not having to fight off suicidal ideations, thoughts and urges damn near every hour of everyday. I am not constantly cryin’ or having panic attacks all the time. Since the start of this blog I lost someone dear, had a ton of medical issues, and made a suicide attempt. Then I found out that my Ex-Young therapist had diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder, my therapist left (that was just before the suicide attempt) and in June of 2012, I finally got back in therapy and tried different medications.
I’m still going to therapy once a week, mostly. It’s on Fridays these days. No more Thursday therapy ’cause I’m working and Brunet Young changed her schedule. Therapy has been a major lifeline, so has this blog (as I’ve mentioned dozens of times before) and my swimming. I’m still swimming despite all the shit thrown at me. I’m fortunate that my mom is still working at the gym and I’m able to go and release my demons for free, for a bit at least.
Of course I still struggle. Life is a struggle and for those with mental health issues, that struggle becomes unbearable, so painful that it kills. It is another kind of struggle in itself. But I have accomplished many of my “goals for therapy” and am still working on others.
My “stability” has settle some.
I have a bit more clarity in my life now and feeling a sense of direction, despite my many changes in course. There are so many challenges, so much more to endure and enjoy. I don’t know where I’m at with this blog. I’ve considered retiring it many times (as a “borderline” I’ll drastically change my mind from one minute to the next ha). But I think I’m giving it a go for a bit longer.
I’m continuing my pledge to write for mental health, to shout out, to show that we are not alone in this.
Please visit my Canvas family at A Canvas of the Minds. It’s a great little blog of mental health bloggers and shenanigans!
Oh oh. And I ALMOST forgot. Thank you Laura/Soul Survivor for pledging me this year. You can find her blog, Bipolar for Life by clicking the link.
November 29, 2012
I went to therapy today. We’re back on our regular Thursday schedule. I told my dad I’d take the bus but he said I was so humble about it that he would drive me there. We didn’t argue this time!
My next assignment for therapy is to work on logging down my interactions with my pops so we can debrief the next session. I told her about the nightmares I’ve been having. They pop up every other night. In my dream last night–or this morning rather–I was getting severely beaten. I won’t say by who. Luna heard me wake up screaming and rushed into the room with ears turned back. The fluff ball jumped on me and we cuddled. She’s so good to me.
Brunet Young is helping me get into a DBT group that should start in January. She found an outpatient DBT program, but it’s too many hours–it’s outpatient, almost inpatient and I no longer need to be outpatient (funny, when I needed it, I couldn’t get it). So she’s looking for a less intensive program. She’s also seeing if I can get into an animal shelter as a volunteer! It will be yet another support system to implement my therapy.
What else? I pulled a muscle this morning while rushing to the restroom. I think I’ll still go swimming tonight though; Mouse and I haven’t decided. Besides, no broken bones from yesterday evening’s fall is good enough for me.
I admit though, I shaved off my Movember Mousestache. It was getting real fuckin’ itchy. Anyway, here’s what I shot on my way back from therapy.
For being the fourth largest city in the United States, we don’t have a very impressive downtown. Most of the buildings are scattered about like leaves in clusters, each cluster miles apart from the other. There is the medical center which is a downtown of its own, then there is uptown and midtown. I think if you combine the three, you’d have a hell of a downtown, but otherwise, it’s puny.
But this weather is nice. It was around 50F this morning and now it’s 68F. Beautiful.
Personally, Main Street downtown is very pretty since a lot of the buildings there are nineteenth-century and early twentieth century art-deco. Mostly though, there are just plain sixties and seventies post modern blocks with faceless facades. Houston grew with the baby boomers of the ’50s, the development of 1950s inter-state highway system and oil boom. There you go.
September 15, 2012
Brunet Young went out of town this week, so I didn’t get a chance to have my weekly therapy session. She said she’d call to “check” on me or something along those lines, only she put it more gently. Overall, I’m feeling great though! I think the Lamictal has toned me down a bit. I don’t know.
Last Thursday (I’m seeing her Thursdays now), I confronted Brunet Young about the BPD diagnosis my Ex-Young Therapist had given me. I’d been meaning to ask her why Ex-Young Therapist was so hesitant about giving me the Termination Reports and why she said I couldn’t have the Evaluation Summary. It took a lot of courage to ask this.
“She wasn’t supposed to give you that,” Brunet Young replied.
What the fuck? I really like Brunet Young but I don’t get why she said Ex-Young Therapist wasn’t supposed to give me that form. I inquired about it, and she basically explained that: telling the patient he/she has BPD is detrimental to the therapeutic process. For me, the fact I now know this bit of information has given me a sense of validation. Isn’t an invalidating environment one of the contributing factors of borderline personality (BPD) development?
“I feel like all these years… all I’ve gone through has at least been validated.” My voice began to shake, “A name has been put to it. Now I feel like, like I’m not JUST an asshole.” I started chuckling.
“That makes sense, I can see why you’d feel that way. The thing is, we are required to give a diagnosis even when we think there is no reason or need to place one on the client. In some cases, we go with what only fits closest.”
Ok. Then what’s the point of categorizing certain behavioral attributes?
My hands trembled and I kept rubbing my aluminum water bottle. “I think I’m a pretty intelligent person… I mean, it’s not like I’m going to just throw my hands up in the air and say ‘Well, I have this and such and I’m doomed’. I’m no different than… than I was before I knew. I’m not going to put myself in a box! I’m not going to quit trying to improve myself and look for ways of recovering.” I went on telling her that what upset me was that I often talked about BPD in regards to online forums I visited and my friend Ryden who has BPD. I would mention how much I could related to people with that and yet, she didn’t say a word about it.
Brunet Young was silent for a moment. Then she looked up with gentle eyes and said, “I know YOU wouldn’t put yourself in a box or quit trying P, but many others with this would. That’s the thing.”
She said she’d be sure to talk about why I “fit” the BPD criteria next time we meet, this coming Thursday.
“It doesn’t matter,” I replied nearly in tears. I don’t cry in front of people, so for me to nearly burst into tears was astonishing, to me especially.
“No, it does. It does matter. We’ll discuss it.”
I’m glad I finally asked. I can see why a BPD diagnosis can be withheld from a patient/client, particularly those who have more “anti-social” tendencies. For one, the patient might use it to justify for acting out of line, or they might feel discriminated against. I can see how it might conflict with therapy for SOME people to have that information disclosed. I figured perhaps my Ex-Young Therapist was afraid I’d base my entire identity around the diagnostic criteria for BPD, but I HAVEN’T. Have I?
I don’t think I have. I think too much outside of the box for that nonsense.
Yeah, I’ve researched and read a lot about it since finding out, maybe a little too much. And sure, I understand the implications behind such discretion. But as I told Brunet Young, I’m intelligent, and therefore, I sure as hell know that we are not the same (those with BPD) just because of a diagnosis. I told her I realize how arbitrary diagnosis for mental illnesses/disorders are in the first place.
Even among fellow BPDers (or whatever you want to call it), there is an infinite array of expressions of “symptoms”. I know the difference between a set of “criteria/symptoms” that BPDers share and the indefinite, individual minds–the being, the self, the person, and the personalities we hold.
We are not our labels.
In fact, I mentioned this when I found out. People are people regardless of their mental problems, illnesses, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, culture–I can go on and on. But it’s because this information was released to me that I feel more confident to talk about the darker sides of my experience; I’ve already told Brunet Young things I wouldn’t dare tell Ex-Young therapist like the overdoses; the day I threw a whole load of books at Monkey Man, rolled out crying and banged my head repeatedly at the side of his godfathers house; all those drugs we did together; and my mother’s suicide attempts. It’s because of knowing about BPD that I learned a lot from books/articles/blogs–like “The Buddha and the Borderline” by Kiera Van Gelder–that I no longer feel so alone.
I’m nervous about seeing her this Thursday. She said we’d discuss why Ex-Young Therapist wrote that on my Termination Report. The thing is, there’s so much I want to say and don’t know how. I feel mute when I roll into that room (though lately I’ve been talking fifteen miles a minute and typing three-hundred words per second). I don’t want to cry. I only cried when I told Ex-Young Therapist Monkey Man died.
I don’t know. I just feel awkward now.
But, I’m glad.
addendum: Today I swam like a champ! Would’a been cool if I swam like a chimp too. Can chimps swim alright?
September 5, 2012
Last Thursday I meant to write about my trip to therapy but I got distracted by the insanity of Le Clown’s blogroll contest. I now have to go to rehab for WP addiction. (It was fun though Le Clown, it really was.)
Anywho, I did take pictures of my trip to therapy last week. Again, it was with my crappy Nokia 5230 (it’s not THAT crappy). I had a lovely ride. It was a gorgeous day–one of those days where you feel the Houston heat and humidity suffocating you. “Asphyxiate on this, suckas!” says the southern Sun. You know, like the living in a sweaty armpit metaphor I used a while back? Yeah, it was one of those armpit living days.
I was all ready for therapy, ready to bitch and moan. But I ended up taking the bus late. I arrived at Wheeler station (near downtown) and realized, I wasn’t going to make it on time.
Some people carry umbrellas ’cause it’s so damn hot. Someone should’ve told him it’s a stupid idea to carry a BLACK umbrella since black absorbs more heat, but I wasn’t the asshole to do it.
Once I got to Wheeler Station, I arrived at the MetroRail train heading downtown towards the downtown transit center. I hopped in the northbound train.
The lady in the striped dress helped me out when I nearly got crushed by the sliding doors. Had I not been in my wheelchair, I could’ve been sawed in half (not really, but the image is striking, isn’t it?).
Once I arrived at the downtown transit center and REALLY did get hit by the sliding door, I ran into the lady with the dress again. I also ran into another lady with a baby in a stroller. I wanted to take a picture but was too shy. I also didn’t want attitude; lady looked like she had attitude and might of said something like, “Da hell ya takin’ a pict-sha of my babey fo’?!”
So I just let his sleeping, curly-haired cuteness be.
I had to cross Main Street to get to the transit center and as I did that, I noticed there were cops arresting this dude off on the right parking lot. So I quickly took out my phone and thought to myself, “this is blog material, must take photo now before the cops see”. I think they still noticed I was taking a picture of them.
But get this, lady in the striped dress runs next to me saying, “Girl, you can’t be tweetin’ and crossin’ the street at the same time! Come on now!” I was about to say that I was actually takin’ a picture of the cops and that I don’t even have a Twitter account or internet on my phone to begin with. But I just nodded at her. She did save my life earlier.
As I waited for my last bus (yes, I take a bus, a train and another bus), I called the university psychology research and services clinic to tell them I’d be running “about fifteen minutes late”. Ha! They should know I’m terrible and guesstimating time.
And here’s where I make my social commentary. The majority of the people that take the bus in the area where I live are 1) latino, 2) black, 3) asian. I wonder why? *cough*
When you get to the university, you only see black folks on the bus because the university is near a historically black part of town called Third Ward (my dad thought it was Third World; he can’t understand English that well). It’s a poor area. But I love it in many ways.
I live in the far southwest side though, so I don’t get much of Third Ward anymore. I did when I was living at the university, but now that I’m back with my old folks, I don’t. Well, I do when I go to therapy now. And downtown, near the oil towers, it is a little different. You see a lot of nurses and businessmen–mainly white–and a grand ethic mix is only off to the side.
It’s funny how little certain things have changed. Third Ward is still poor and black. Downtown oil towers are still run by old, rich men.
This is the part where half a dozen pigeons begged me to feed them. I was ready to take AMAZING, head-exploding photos (because that’s what I do), but my damn phone ran out of battery juice. So I was left picture-less and the pigeons where left hungry.
Turns out I got to therapy 40 minutes late! Forty minutes for a fifty minute session! That’s nearly an hour-and-a-half bus ride. Needless to say, we had to reschedule for tomorrow. I won’t be late this time! I’ll tell you though, I used up those ten minutes like never before. It’s a good thing I’ve been hyped, ’cause I was able to bitch and moan a mile a minute.
I didn’t completely loose my trip to the uni though. I went to the student center and signed up in line at the academic records to get my transcript for the DACA application (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) I’m filling out for immigration. They withheld it because I still owe the Debt Collector Mafia two thousand dollars. 😦 Fuck you bill collectors! Let me get my transcripts!
So I zipped my little ass over to the law clinic–where I’m getting free legal advice (YEAH! YEAH!)–and I asked about the lawyer. I schedule for today. So after this, I shall be getting ready to go see the lawyer. Wish me luck.
Ooooh, and who’s the lovely lady you ask? It’s none other than the magnificent Ringmistress (aka Sara Draws) over at Laments and Lullabies. It’s her birthday today and I dedicate these photos to her. 😉
These less-than-mediocre photos are for you lovely lady! Happy barfday! (don’t barf too much now)
Went to therapy today. The bus ride wasn’t as “fun” as the one last week, though the Houston heat today was much less piercing and much more enjoyable. I was reminded of how many stories I have from years of riding the bus. The people I encounter, I just want to write about them. So many people. I want to write about people.
As far as the actual session. I feel it wasn’t as productive as last week and a part of me wants to quit already, but I know that the thought of quitting therapy is a bit ridiculous since it’s one of my biggest life lines right now. And my homework assignment? Write down negative thoughts that cause intense, negative emotions tand challenge those with cognitive behavioral methods of cognitive restructuring. I’ll explain later.
For now, enjoy some of my ridiculous thoughts. I had some of these on my bus journey to the university campus. Some I had when I woke up from my nap. We all have them, some of us just believe them. I’m one of those.
That black albino girl looks like she came out of the Fifth Element. Why is she still staring? Oh, kids, they stare. She’s kinda cute and very albino, like the dude from the Da Vinci Code. Book was better. Ugh, kids stare because you’re so tiny, it’s just a fact of life. It’s better than ADULTS staring with that OH HOLY GOD WHAT IS THAT, look. Let me just wave my hand and smile–show her I acknowledged her little cute staring. Ooh, hey there, works every time!
Is the whole world fucked or what? That fucker honking at us! Good going albino girl’s mom. Tell him off! Shit, but calm down lady. Don’t go off that hard.
Swimming is only going to make you go deaf quicker. Why do you think your ears are itchy all the time? Swimmer’s ear? Yeah, and that’s just your ear’s nerve cell’s dying P.
Monkey Man needed you and you failed him.
You need a gun. No, a gun wouldn’t work for you. Shit, all those new shiny pills might.
You’re such a bitch. Let go of that thought.
Ugh, don’t use that word in the negative sense! Luna is a little bitch and she’s awesome.
They think you’re an asshole. Why else would you get so many views after writing that last post? So many hushed readers, no bitch? You worthless piece of…
But he saved three dogs from an abandoned warehouse several months ago. Yeah, and now he wants to cheat on his wife. And you’re his object of desire. What does that make you?
You won’t be able to go another day without texting him something sexual.
Lamotrigine is only going to make your hearing loss and tinnitus worse.
Can I just have a roomful of people I can punch? Matter fact, make it a room full of babies!
Your therapist is plotting to kill you, just like your psychiatrist is. Don’t believe them.
This feeling is unbearable. Tear your skin off instead. It’ll feel good.
Oh no, no no. That interview with the reporter is going to suck tomorrow. You’ll say something stupid, I’m sure.
You want to do something with all those new shiny pills don’t you? You think you can’t handle this? Ha!
Oh no! Now that you’ve shared this, the bloggie people will be able to read your mind!
Alright, I’ll stop there. Yes, I was a Cranberries fan in my younger days. Enjoy!
Oh look, it’s young Frodo–I mean, little Elijah Wood. God, I feel like I’m reliving some of my childhood in these songs…
July 30, 2012
As I mentioned in the previous post, I started therapy again three weeks ago. I’m seeing her on Wednesdays. This Wednesday will be my fourth session.
The second session I had with Brunet Young was just as productive as the first, but the third surprised me. Did I actually say all that? Yes, yes you did P. At ‘a girl!
It’s a good thing when you know what you’re getting yourself into when starting therapy. The same could not be said when I first went to see a counselor after my monumental mental meltdown in 2008. I had no idea what to expect then; I even walked out, or rolled out, of a therapist’s office in frustration in 2009. But this time… I have goals this time!
I came into therapy just as desperate, but more ready than ever. I know my borderline personality disorder (BPD) diagnosis, I’m more sure of the bipolar tendencies if the psychiatrist is right, and I’ve learned some basic dialectical behavioral skills training from Ex-Young Therapist as well as core training in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
I’m barely driving out of hell, but I have a tank full of gas, me thinks. That’s hope for ya.
On the second session, much like the first, we went over major areas of my life that need working on. I asked Brunet Young if she could tell me what it was she remembered about my history from the consultation team so I could fill in the rest as best I could.
I told her things like, “the overdose from two months ago was not my first, but definitely the worst” and “I have a history of abuse, though my views on it change. I mean, you have to understand our culture is different. But, it’s a fine line no?” I told her about my mother’s past suicidal tendencies, her upbringing, her sister’s (my aunt’s) suicide and so on. She already knew about my immigration situation, my medical problems, my tendency toward isolation, and my body image issues, so I didn’t have to go into that with her.
We talked a lot about how Monkey Man’s recent and sudden death has affected me, how I was drugged up with him much of the time we were together (off and on), but how I always tried to get him to stop drinking. We discussed ways in which I can work up my courage to call his step-mom and/or dad to ask about the toxicology report results again.
On and on we went. I couldn’t believe myself.
Towards the end of the session, she did something I was so thankful for. She asked me to write a list of issues I thought I hadn’t had a chance to go over with Ex-Young Therapist.
My dad had taken me that second day and, on the way out, he said something that bothered me a little.
“She’s not good like the Ex-Young Therapist is she?”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, she didn’t say hi to me as kindly as the other one.”
After the initial frustration this remark induced, a light bulb lit up in my head! Aha! I have to discuss this with Brunet Young, not this in particular, but my dad. I have to discuss how I think some of my black and white thinking patterns about myself lead back to his black and white thinking. I didn’t get into depth discussing my dad much with Ex-Young Therapist. I did a little, but more toward the end, or just when issues arose. In fact, because we focused so much on me learning DBT skills, the therapy process and focus remained on present problems and not past, “unresolved” problems.
Last Wednesday, I decided to take the bus for our third session. It was better for all of us. My dad didn’t have gas money and I wanted the liberty of no off-handed comments.
It was an hour and a half bus ride; I have to take two buses and the MetroRail downtown but that’s a hell of a lot better than waiting on ole MetroLift’s shifty ass.
I arrived on time and with my homework assignment completed.
Here is my list of “past problems” I didn’t get to discuss with Ex-Young Therapist. And I added a bonus for Brunet Young. I added some therapy goals–totally my idea.
I’m on a roll. I’m telling you. Here’s what I wrote down for her:
Goals for Therapy
*Manage Panic attacks and chronic pain
*Reduce suicidal and self-injurious impulses/actions/urges and manage the thoughts better. (No more overdosing!)
*Increase support network
-> continue rebuilding relationship with brother
-> get into that DBT group at BT (keep calling! don’t desist!)
-> get involved again in community organizing/activist orgs.
* Interpersonal effectiveness -> review
* Distress tolerance -> review and continue practice!
* Develope a more consistent daily ruitine to include: writing/blogging, sketching, watching Lynda.com tutorials, planing, swimming/yoga, playing ukulele again, and getting a job after filing the immigration papers!
-> remember to do one thing at a time
-> break down into smaller chunks
-> plan ways to reduce stressful situations, not increase or worsen them
* Continue healthy eating / no binging
* Work on self-validation
* Work on healthier ways to deal with complicated grief
-> Monkey Man L’s death and guilt about death
-> hearing loss
* Ask about/look into other methods such as IFS (Internal Family Systems) and Schema Mode therapies.
* Mother’s verbal and physical abuse (I really hate the way I wrote this one because, honestly, I feel closer to my mother than my father and I love them both very much, even when they piss me off. And my mom’s changed for the better after getting help herself.)
* Dad’s continued invalidation and overbearing tendencies (not to mention the fact that I still have to depend on him financially)
* Medical Trauma (e.g. still need to deal with jaw incident and set up a date for surgery, continued nerve pain, decreased bone density, past accidents that led to ER, prolonged stays at hospital during childhood; loads of surgeries)
* Sexuality and validation issues (e.g. what happened with Dusty and Emily)
*Repetetive compulsion with alcohol and drugs (mainly alcohol and self-harm)
* Maladaptive core beliefs (e.g. I am not a “good” person, I’m “a burden,” etc.)
Yep, so that’s what I have so far. We went over this list I wrote, which she said was very good. I think it’s a good starting point too. And since I was able to write it out, it helped when she asked to explain what I meant by “sexuality and validation issues”. That’s when I brought up Sir Dusty and a lot of other things I may or may not mention here. Man, it was hard work!
July 29, 2012
Fuck my bleeding ears! I’m trying to stay positive. I really am. I’m relying on my inner wisdom.
And these days, I’m maintaining a better outlook more than not, which is the complete opposite of what could be said a month and half ago. I feel funny though, and not previous-post funny. The anxiety has just been maddening.
On Friday night, when I hung out with my brother, I ended up staying over the night. Well, around 4am (as usual these days), I woke up with chest pain, feeling like I was having a heart attack. You’re not having a heart attack P. This is just anxiety. I was nauseated, felt the same old prickly feeling in my toes and hands and was shivering too. So I woke up my brother and asked him for another blanket. I told him what I felt and he agreed about the anxiety.
Earlier Friday, I was eating lunch with my dad at the kitchen table. We had arepas and queso and coffee. I hadn’t even touched my coffee yet and my hands were trembling. (I swear, I’ve been cutting back substantially on the coffee.)
“Your hands are shaking really bad. Why are they shaking like that?” he asked.
“I think I’m just having a lot of anxiety right now.” I lowered my head.
“I don’t know. It’s a lot of things, I guess.”
“It looks as if you had Parkinson’s”
Ah my dad, good ole papi. Gotta love the way he throws in something that sounds both amusing and insulting or hurtful (to me) without even meaning to–but sometimes meaning to. I’d made a joke about looking like Michael J. Fox during an interview on my very second (or third) post here! So, yes, this isn’t new. But now it’s noticeable to my dad even?
Today, right now, I’m feeling the same way. I hope it passes soon. I hope typing will at least keep me at ease a little while.
I wonder if it’s the medication that’s making it worse. Almost every morning it’s the same.
At the end of May, a few weeks after the incident, I saw the psychiatrist. She had the Fluoxetine/Prozac upped. I keep wondering, how did I get here? Accepting drugs from a psych? For me, taking “medication” is last, last, last resort.
I saw her again this past Thursday. She said something that both surprised and didn’t surprise me.
“I’m thinking… you seem to have bipolar, bipolar two,” she said midway through our appointment. These appointments, by the way, are actually forty-five minutes long. Ok. Well, at the moment, labels don’t matter to me much. I just need all the help I can get. I don’t want another incident to occur, for the sake of those around me at least. But in part, for my sake too. And that’s a good thing! It means I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel, despite the way I’m feeling.
Long story short, she prescribed Lamotrigine/Lamictal. I haven’t gotten it yet. I barely ran out of Tegretol last week and didn’t bother to get it filled. Well, there’s was more to it than that. There was the money issue. It’s rough right now. I just wish I could handle things better, without getting so frantic, so worked up inside… Swimming is the only time I don’t feel like I’m drowning!
And now I’m to try yet another drug?
I don’t know. I just don’t know…
But therapy. Right!
I finally got in three weeks ago. The very first week, we covered a lot.
She’s also a young brunet like Ex-Young Therapist, but it’s a university, so what was I expecting, an old student? Anyway, we covered basics, like what I did with my Ex-Young Therapist, what worked, what didn’t work. Turns out this new therapist (I’m going to call her Brunet Young) worked in a team with Ex-Young Therapist, so she already knew a little bit about me. A consultation team is part of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
After going over some of the basics, like major problems in my life, she mentioned the overdose incident from early May. Has it been two and a half months already?
“In the intake interview, you mentioned that you didn’t consider the overdose a suicide attempt. Why is that?” Brunet Young asks.
“Um… I’m not sure,” I reply. I stammer around and stutter for a little while. “Maybe it’s because I have a hard time seeing it as that. But also, I think I was gambling. I was playing Russian roulette. I told myself that if I died that night, then fine, but if I didn’t, I would have to just try a lot harder. I mean, I would’ve definitely taken the entire bottle had I wanted it to be more sure…a more definite thing.”
“How much did you take?”
“About eight painkillers and two sleeping pills.”
“And you were ok with the fact that you might’ve died as a result?”
“Yes, I was.” It’s scary to think, but at the time, I was.
“You know, from a clinical perspective, there is a distinction between suicide attempts. There’s an active suicide attempt and a passive one. What you describe is a more passive attempt.”
She made sure to emphasis that it was still considered an attempt. Or at least that’s how I heard it.
We then wrote up a crisis plan, which looks a little something like this.
When I feel upset and have thoughts of hurting myself or someone else, or I feel that I am in emotional crisis, I will take the following steps:
1. My warning signs are (e.g. very self-critical, hopeless, isolation, staying in bed)
-passive thoughts of suicide increase in frequency and become clearer, more of an urge/stronger urge
-insomnia and crying spells worsen
-triggers (e.g. Monkey Man, relationships, drugs, reminders, etc) –> anger/rage
-isolating myself –> not picking up calls, curling up in bed and staring blankly, dissociating
-being upset about hearing loss; being upset on days when I’m not able to go swimming
-chronic bone pain intensifies; facial nerve pain increases
2. My reasons to live are:
– I can do a lot for others. I have potential to do a lot.
-I don’t want to hurt my family
That’s all I have for reasons right now. I used to have career plans, but that’s not strong-holding at the moment. It has to be something that you really believe, something that will grab you, will keep you from doing anything permanent–a true deterrent. I think I need to come up with more. I told Brunet Young this and she said, “It’s alright, we’ll come up with more later.” I thought of adding “love”. Just focus on the word love, the meaning of it for me, how I’ve managed to hold on to “love” in my life. But love of what? Art? Life? Beauty? Family? How can you focus on that in a “crisis” situation when all you’re thinking about is the pain you’re in and peaceful bliss of death and non-existance?
3. Do these things to calm myself or distract myself:
-say serenity prayer and Buddha refuge prayer
-If at home, call Luna, pet and cuddle with her. (The good thing about Luna is if she hears me crying, I don’t even have to call her over. She finds me. Sweetest dog ever.)
-remember “Distress Tolerance” –> follow breath, deep breathing
-self sooth –> hum a tune, splash water on face, take warm bath, play ukulele
-write, write, write
-read, read, read
-watch TV (comedy preferably)
-stretch with yoga mat
-image focus –>meditate
-progressive muscle relaxation
-review “coping card”
-take a short nap and/or break from whatever you’re doing (e.g. go out in the fresh air and walk the dogs)
4. Contact a friend or family member that I can trust:
name & number: answering service at PRSC –>that’s the university’s psychological research and services center
Also, I’ve listed my brother, mom, and maybe B and Mansie, Ryden and Eloise, although I’m having a hard time with this one. I’ll really need to work at it.
5. Call PRSC and ask to speak with my therapist
6. If it is after clinic hours (M-Th 9-8; F 9-5) and I can’t reach my therapist, call the PRSC after-hours answering service at **********
7. Call a hotline for support or assistance:
I also have several other local hotline numbers included here. But I don’t do hotlines. It’s not how I roll.
8. If I am unable to get help quickly enough and feel that things can’t wait, I will call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room for help.
The thing about the crisis plan is that I have only been able to get myself to do steps one through three, maybe four. I’m able to recognize warning signs and use methods like distress tolerance and mindfulness, but contacting a “trusted” person is difficult. That’s the thing, on Friday, I did contact my brother, but I did it after too much thinking. Also, I don’t tell him how bad I feel, I just ask him what’s up. Brunet Young said that was fine, I don’t exactly have to tell him, especially not now if I’m not comfortable doing so. The important thing is to distract in non-harmful ways.
Another difficulty I’m having with this crisis plan is knowing the “answering service” after hours aren’t open on weekends. I’ll have to ask her about this. But even then, I’m not the type of person who would call. I think I only called Ex-Young Therapist twice or maybe three times during a “crisis situation”. And that was after two years of seeing her! One of those times was a few days after I found out about Monkey Man’s death this March.
I used to hate the idea of therapy. Sometimes I still do. Right now though, I’m just glad I finally got in again.