Tag Archives: Mental health

Happy New Year – 2014!

new-year-2014Soooo…did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I sort of did and didn’t at the same time. What I did was decide not to make any resolutions. I’m going to take it one day or week or month at a time. I’ve made some decisions that could be viewed as surrenders when taken individually.

I’m not buying into the woe is me-ism of people who say “thank God we made it through last year; maybe this year will be better.” ***yawn*** My last year was pretty good overall. Sure there were less than stellar moments mixed in there. I got sick a few times and made a complete and total ass of myself on few occasions. But there were wonderful moments too. I’ve been having a blast with painting class.

I have a mother-in-law who takes finding the dark cloud in any silver lining to a whole new level. If she won 500 million dollars in the lottery she would bitch about paying the taxes on her winnings. If you gave her a brand new Cadillac, free and clear, she would complain that now she had to figure out how to operate the seat adjustments. Or worse, refuse to figure it out at all and call my husband every time she wanted to get in the car.

Surrender #1: I am never going to love my in-laws as a collective whole. It’s been an unnecessarily stressful endeavor to even try, and this has been dragging on for 10 damned years. OK, I admit it there are occasions when I out-and-out hate them. Sometimes just the thought of them makes me grind my teeth together. I’m going to stop beating myself up for having these feelings. Just acknowledge them and let them go, like the urge to install a laser cannon on the hood of my car to vaporize people who cut me off on the freeway.

My brother-in-law pulled the biggest gifting boner ever, and I mean EVER in the history of mankind. We got him a custom framed sports SIGNED jersey from a team member of his alma mater college. His reaction? He looked down his nose at it and said “I don’t think this thing will fit in my car. Days later he informed Hubman that it just wasn’t going to work in his house and refused to accept the present. I didn’t say anything when Hubman told me, but it festered all day and I finally told him, at the top of my lungs, that I thought it was beyond rude and that all jerky brother-in-law gets for Christmas next year is a subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club. I’m not kidding!!!

Surrender #2: Being bipolar I’m going to have mood swings. Taking enough medicine to prevent any swings at all is a chemical lobotomy. Not enough and I’m angry enough to take out the entire neighborhood. And furthermore, sometimes things happen that just flat-out piss me off, they would piss off anyone. (see above behavior by brother-in-law)

Surrender #3: My weight. No, I’m not going to give up trying and eat a chocolate cake every day for breakfast, but stressing out and beating myself up about it is not helping. I know what I need to do and I haven’t been doing it. I was talking to my sister the other day about it. The most dangerous thing about getting older is that you get really good at sitting on your ass for long periods at a time. That used to drive me crazy. My weight maintenance secret for the first 40 years of my life was that I was a fidgety person. I spent my time flitting around the room like a June Bug that flew in when the screen door got left open. Aging and medication has stopped that behavior so I have to consciously make an effort to shake my booty on a regular basis or turn into a mound of blubber.

Surrender #4: Some people, maybe even a lot of people, are going to laugh at my artistic endeavors. I’m just going to suck it up and go on anyway. I can’t control what other people think about me. Example: I had a wild and colorful dream recently. I woke up at 6:30 am and spent 4 hours painting it. When I showed it to Mr. Husband he burst out laughing and almost choked on his coffee. He tried to back pedal, but he didn’t succeed. I thought that I rose above the ridicule, but it just occurred to me this morning that I haven’t picked up a paintbrush for 2 weeks. Phooey on him I say! I’ll just cover up my paintings when I’m not working on them if he persists.

Well 4 surrenders is enough for now. I need some opinions to stick too. Why I don’t know, but there you have it.

PS: to fellow bloggers. Don’t forget to renew your web domain name, etc.

Walking the Tightrope With Psych Meds

tightropeDealing with the need to take psych meds is like trying to walk a tightrope while juggling plates and playing an accordion. I hate having bipolar disorder, I really do. Yes, I know things could much worse, and I should be grateful. I could have some debilitating disease that had me bed ridden, in constant pain. But I don’t, I have what I have and I have to deal with it. I don’t always deal with it gracefully by a long shot.

All my evil little pill bottles have a warning on them “if you have forgotten to take your pill at a certain time, wait until it’s time to take the next dose, don’t take it now. OOOkkkKKK??!! #&^%(*@ But what do you do when you are freaking out NOW? I say “screw it!” and take them now. I’d rather get too sleepy and have to take a nap than go on a magic carpet ride of rage, depression, anxiety attacks, near catatonia and whatever the bipolar Bag 0’ Tricks has in store for me on any given day. I might be able to get away with riding it out if I had a storm bunker to lock myself in and hang a sign on the door saying “Warning! Bipolar cyclone raging within, enter at your own risk.” But I don’t and I don’t live alone and I have to leave the house occasionally. Being a hermit just depresses me more.

People who are not dealing with mood spectrum disorders tend to think “well hey, just take your meds and everything will be OK. What the hell is wrong with you anyway?” What is wrong with me??? Excuse me, but it doesn’t work that way. Taking meds “manages” a disorder; it is not a guarantee that you will never have a mood storm. It gives you a tool to fight with it. But meds can be a blunt instrument and it is extremely tricky finding a balance. Furthermore, just when you think you’ve found a balance your body decides to react differently to your meds, or worse, not respond to them at all. The balance is a moving target.

Sometimes I feel like Alice in Wonderland trying to figure out which side of the mushroom to nibble on. Too much and I blunder around in a stupor and do nothing but stare at the TV, unaware of what I’m even looking at. Not enough – I turn into a motor mouth and talk the ear off of anyone I can pin down, blissfully unaware that they are scrambling to get away from me. I also start eleventy seven projects at once and when I come to my senses I can’t figure out how to pick up where I left off.

I have those little days of the week pill cases that I fill up at the beginning of the week. They help, but sometimes it too much to face looking at an entire week’s worth of meds right under my nose. That’s when the thought creeps in “do I really need to be taking all this crap? Am I a drugged slave to big Pharma?” I have to be careful when asking these questions, because there is a never ending supply of people who are all too happy to inform me that I shouldn’t be taking meds at all, that I’m just weak or a dupe. I just need to meditate, do yoga, cut dairy out of my diet, dance naked under the full moon, etc.

That’s when I have to dig down deep and remember what it felt like when I was not taking meds. Oh sure I was “managing” it. Hanging on by my fingernails every day trying not to fall or jump into the abyss. I don’t want to live like that again. I guess it’s time to take my meds.

I Slipped and Got Stuck In My Head

In gaining a deeper understanding of madness, we gain a deeper understanding of the core existential dilemmas with which we all must struggle, arriving at the unsettling realization of just how thin the boundary really is between madness and sanity.  Rethinking Madness – Towards a Paradigm Shift in Our Understanding and Treatment of Psychosis. Paris Williams Ph.D.

rethinking madnessWell this blog went dark for a week or so because of traumatic dealings with my daughter who is mentally ill and addicted to drugs. I sort of ran out of things to say and was starting to feel and sound unhinged, even to myself. As a result I went into hibernation mode. For a couple of days I was depressed and stayed in bed all day watching the entire 2 ½ seasons of Titus High Performance, a show that was on the Fox network years ago.

It’s a show starring Christopher Titus a stand-up comedian, and is loosely based on his life. He was raised by an alcoholic father and a manic-depressive, schizophrenic mother. He married a girl who also came from a dysfunctional family of Irish catholic alcoholics, the brother a burglar and a drug user, the sister constantly having babies by different men without being married, the younger sister selling drugs….you get my drift. One episode is a thanksgiving dinner that turns into in a food fight and escalates to a brawl and shootout and the entire family ends up in the emergency room covered with food, burns, a dislocated shoulder for Titus, bumps and bruises.

So anyway I watched this show to “ground” myself, as in I’m not the only one with an insane family of origin. Then the next day I started percolating into a rage of “I’m sick of this shit, I can’t take anymore.” I was so angry that I was shaking. I ended up screaming at the dishes in the dishwasher. “When all the dishes are clean there is no place to put anything!!!! We have too God damned many coffee cups!” Mr. Husband caught the tail end of this when he walked into the kitchen and I turned to him and yelled “STOP BUYING COFFEE CUPS!!!!” That just made his day, lemme tell ya. All he had really done was to cook a wonderful 4th of July dinner. So sorry Hubman, really I am.

In this down time I read a bunch of books about dysfunctional families, substance abuse, etc. There are many different perspectives on these issues. Then main thing I take away is that I’m not alone in this struggle and I don’t have to put up with unacceptable behavior from anyone, including from my children.

When I get extremely stressed out I tend to turn in on myself and get quiet and hide. Fortunately for those around me, I don’t turn actively psychotic and start throwing rocks at the neighbors or burn down the house. But inside my head there is all kinds of freaking and shrieking going on. I get stuck in a loop of repetitive thoughts. Things like what I’m going to say to my daughter next time she calls, and blah blah blah. It’s absolutely crazy making and exhausting.

The thing I realized is that when this happens I become physically and emotionally paralyzed and just sit there staring into to space or at the TV. Being a writer and budding artist I decided to sit down and try to get this out of my head and onto paper. That was an interesting development. I tried to draw a sort of combination infinity sign or yin yang. What I discovered was that I was having trouble making the 2 sides connect, how odd. But then I started writing in all the things going on in my head versus all things going on physically. When I was done I had a graphical representation of what was going on in my head. The revelation was that the mental side of the drawing had tons of stuff in it…fear, guilt, anger, frustration, apathy, boredom, while the physical side had not much of anything except ills such as a headache, stomach ache, neck pain and so on.

That’s when it hit me. God grief, I’m stuck in my head! I need to get out of here and start living in the physical world again. I need to get moving around and doing things again. I hate when I get stuck in my head. It’s like mental plumbing trouble. I wonder if there is such a thing as a laxative for my brain.

Book Review – Don’t Let Your Kids Kill You

Don't Let Your Kids Kill youMy bizarre dreams continue, and I know now that they are directly related to my darling daughter’s current flip out and total departure from reality. Her last text message yesterday of 15 text messages in the space of 5 minutes was. “I HATE MYSELF, I lost my soul, you don’t care, TTYL.” (TTYL = talk to you later) How’s that for a guilt trip? My kneejerk response spoken only in my head was “uh, take 2 valiums and call me in a year, mkay?”

Instead I took the 2 valiums myself and prayed the prayer I always pray. “OK, God, I’m giving her to you… again. I don’t know what to do, please take care of her and help her find her way.” I was crawling out of my skin and briefly considered scheduling an emergency visit with my own psychiatrist.

Then it hit me, it has reached the point in our twisted relationship that I am no longer afraid FOR her, I’m afraid OF her. I mentioned this to Mr. Husband and he said “yea, you’ve reached this point before many times.” It’s funny how I can go into such a major case of denial that I forget this. All it takes is a couple of “normal” phone calls and I think “ah, everything is OK now.” What is really happening is that she’s baiting the hook to reel me in with yet another request for money, help, bail her out, buy something she wants, fix her problem, rescue her from another jam, etc., etc.

So I went on the internet and searched for books to read to help me through this. I found one with the onerous title “Don’t Let Your Kids Kill You.”

Synopsis via Amazon.com: Book Description

Don’t Let You Kids Kill You – Publication Date: August 1, 2007

This is a self-help recovery guide for parents in the devastating situation of realizing that they are powerless to stop their children from self-destruction through drug and/or alcohol abuse. It is dedicated to letting parents know when it is time to start saving themselves from being dragged along to destruction as well, and to providing skills that prevent it. The book relies on spiritual but practical teachings and the message is for parents to attain a healthy balance in their lives through the letting go process. While showing parents how to safely distance themselves from the child’s destructive patterns, it also shows how to recognize and support healthy requests for real help, if and when they come. It includes anecdotes and quotes from parents who have had to cope with kids on drugs and/or alcohol.

This book also applies to parents with kids that have substance abuse problems in tandem with mental illness, which is the case with my daughter. I get so frustrated with her thinking, “If you are so ready and willing to take a pill, shoot, or snort anything that comes your way…why the hell can’t you just pop a few extra pills that will actually help you.

The sad truth here is that street drugs are much easier to get than psychiatric meds. Psych meds required going to a Doctor or clinic which is expensive and also require regularly scheduled follow up visits. In other words it requires responsibility, planning and follow through. Not easy and usually not part of the skill set for a person who has difficulty deciding on which shoe to put on first in the morning.

Another huge problem in the mental health care system is that many Psych doctors and psychologists don’t understand or don’t have the training to help people who have substance abuse and mental illness as co-morbid conditions. Their response is typically, “well, I can’t help you until you stop drinking, using…blah blah blah.” That is probably not going to happen. It’s like telling an injured person “I’m not going to give you anything for the pain until you stop screaming from the pain.”

So I read this book last night and it has helped tremendously, mostly from just knowing that I’m not alone in this never ending nightmare. There are so many parents out there suffering that there are a boat load of books written about it. The biggest take away from the book is that I have told myself, “This is not your fault!” As parents we blame ourselves, our family blames us, society and even the judicial system blames us. There is a law in Oregon state that if a child commits a felony offense, the parent is charged and convicted and pay the consequences for the crimes of the child. How’s that for giving a child a free pass to be as violent and dangerous as they want to be with absolutely no consequences?

My daughter is 42 years old now, so I don’t think I can be legally blamed for her mistakes or actual crimes, but the fear still keeps me up at night and gives me nightmares when I do manage to sleep. There is a broken record in my head that keeps playing the same questions over and over: “Where did I go wrong? What could I have done to prevent this? What did I do? What did I not do?”

One thing the book advises is to try to distance yourself, stand back and view your child as an adult person, not the darling child you gave birth to. If this person engaged in the offensive or violent behaviors and language, abused you physically or emotionally, stole from you, lied to you, and was just in general an all-around looser…Would you accept their behavior, make excuses for their actions, blame yourself, or even associate with them at all? If the person were not your child you wouldn’t even think twice, you’d back the hell off and stay away from them. You would not; give them money, tolerate hysterical phone calls at 3:00 am, believe their lies, bail them out of jail repeatedly, or allow them in your home. And you certainly wouldn’t visit their home, if they have it together enough to have one, without a bodyguard.

So instead of nursing this gaping wound for my child I have to start taking better care of myself. I have to start living my good dreams instead of my nightmares. The stress of not doing so could kill me. And it does kill parents of troubled children on a regular basis via high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, suicide, bleeding ulcers, and other stress related health conditions.

My daughter has threatened me with suicide many times if I did not do what she wanted me to do. Today I accept that as an adult this is her decision to make. But, also, now that she is adult she is responsible for her own life. I am no longer willing to die for her.

Snow White and the Seven Dorks

comicsidontunderstand.com

comicsidontunderstand.com

On my journey back to mental wellness I’ve started to notice a few things. I’m not the only one who channels Snow White’s seven housemates. You know them surely; sleepy, grumpy, sneezy, dopey, et al. I’m also noticing that I’m not the only one who does not appreciate having their every minor decision questioned.

I find that the best response a friend or family member who is channeling one of these dorks is, “Pfffftttt” or “I see” and a good shrug of the shoulders, followed by an immediate evacuation of the scene. Further pursuance of the question at hand will only result in a blowout. So it seems that I have to remember how much I hate getting dragged over the coals of sixty-four thousand questions when asking questions.

Well damn! Living in the real world can be a pain in the kazoo. I think verbal manipulations should be registered as an Olympic sport. Yes indeed folks. I’ve come across people who actually manage to take an innocent question you ask such as, “how are you?” and twist around to imply that you are a selfish mental microbe who doesn’t care about anyone or anything.

The following hypothetical dialogue (based on an actual conversation) illustrates my take on this scenario:

Me: Hey how are you?

Person X: Well I’m fine, but I’m just tired.

Me: (falling into the trap) Oh, why are you tired?

Person X: Well I was up all night worrying about the national debt. Unlike some people I know (read you) I care about what happens to our country. Also I kept smashing my big toe with a hammer.

Me: (taken aback) OOOkkkk, Uh, why were you smashing your toe with a hammer?

Person X: Well someone (not me obviously) has to take steps to protect our economy. If my toe hurts then I won’t go out shopping and buy wasteful things while other people are suffering.

Me: (feeling a vague unnamed guilt) Uh, I don’t understand how not sleeping and injuring yourself is helping anyone.

Person X: Well of course you don’t see it! And therefore YOU are part of the problem.

Me: See ya later pal, I think I left something on the stove.

I always end up with a mild headache and wondering how I managed to blunder into such a conversation. However, with some people this seems to be the norm.  I never did quite comprehend how worrying about something to the point of harming myself helps anything or anyone.

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