Willfulness in the Face of Necessary Medication

Anxiety and frequent panic attacks have been the menu du jour for weeks, now.  I have had my Klonopin prescribed as a scheduled medication, have had the med treater add Xanax as a PRN, and have been trying various and different DBT skills.  Very little works.  It probably works a lot less, because I am not very compliant with taking three to four Klonopin per day at scheduled times, nor allowing myself to take any of the Xanax that have been prescribed.  I have tried explaining it to my therapist, the not wanting to take more and more medication, the not wanting to become a “Klonopin whore,” the not wanting to start an addiction (because life is rough enough with *just* your regular, garden-variety mental illnesses to combat every day).

This has been a “problem” for me over the years — my distaste for (what I see as) excessive use of addictive pharmaceuticals, and, in general, not wanting to let myself just be numbed out day after day.  Is it better to suffer the multiple-times-daily breakdowns, than it is to just take a wee bit of Klonopin here and there?  My brain and heart are in a battle over it.  Those who know me best, who see me on a regular basis, they plead with me just to take a Klonopin.  Why am I being so willful, over some damn Klonopin?  Just take one!  It won’t hurt!

I have had years worth of numbing myself out with various psychiatric medications, a very brief (very, very brief) relationship with marijuana in college, and a couple very short-lived love affairs with alcohol over my 35 years.  I say “No, thank you,” to all of it.  It may seem strange, like, “what Rosa, you don’t want to get some peace?  Even your med provider thinks it is a good idea!” but it is a different scenario in my mind.  I will never go back to alcohol, to marijuana, to popping this pill and that in the hopes that I will get a bit of relief.  I never let it get to a point where it destroys my life, but I have seen so many other lives destroyed by chemical dependency, and so it is very easy for me to say, “no, not for me.”

Could I just take a little bit of Klonopin here, a tiny nibble of Xanax there, and be just fine?  Yes, probably so.  I have a hard time justifying my refusal to take medications that are prescribed to me, and I revealed to my therapist this week that, really, what is behind this refusal to take medications is the thought, the feeling, that maybe I don’t feel I should be taking ANY medications.  Maybe I don’t really have bipolar disorder, maybe I can be one of those people with bipolar disorder that does not NEED medication, but can manage things with a strict schedule and diet and exercise and meditation.  Maybe I am meant to be medication-free.

At the exact moment these words come to my mouth, I know they are untrue.  I quickly scan through the years that I tried just that, to treat my bipolar disorder without medication, and just how very dangerous it was for me.  How many terrible situations I landed myself in, how I barely made it through living in the big city alive, how I hardly escaped not one but multiple abusive relationships, how the thoughts of wanting to die and dancing on the edge of the Earth with death and Satan, himself, were a daily occurrence.

So, yes, I am prescribed quite the boatload of psychotropic medication.  I don’t want to take it, but I will keep doing so because I know in the wisest part of wise mind, that it is that medication that is making me “stable enough” to exist as I am.  I will think some more about the Klonopin and the Xanax, and eventually the daily breakdowns will become too exhausting to continue, and I might try taking some.  I won’t like it, and I will worry that I am doping myself into a corner, about becoming a Klonopin-whore  but it is quite possible that a little bit of Klonopin and Xanax thrown down my gullet on a semi-regular basis will decrease the multiple daily breakdowns, and that is something that needs to happen.

mistake

 

 

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Contentment With a Side of Panic Attacks

Life is fairly good these days.  I’m attributing it to plenty of sunshine and DBT and working hard in therapy and having more structure to my days.  There are some big changes on the horizon, like moving, and QoB *finally* retiring (maybe), but those are good changes.  While my mood has been fairly neutral, I have been having some physical symptoms that have been giving me trouble.

Physical symptoms that I decided were lithium poisoning, because that is where the problem  usually is, but when that wasn’t the answer (after a blood test) and the urgent care provider sent me to the Emergency Room, I was stunned that I hadn’t thought of this:

I was having every single one of these issues, a minimum of three separate episodes each day.  So, apparently, my anxiety (that I *knew* was high, but, um, it always is!) is manifesting into more physical problems.  Also known as, multiple panic attacks a day with very high anxiety between attacks.

So while I thought that I was mentally very healthy, because I was not feeling extremely depressed or extremely elevated, and because I was not having more than my usual amount of generalized anxiety, I misdiagnosed myself as having lithium poisoning or something wrong with my heart because it has been so long since I have had full-blown panic attacks.  I should note that these attacks almost always additionally come with gasping, sobbing, and cursing on the side.

I beat myself up that I didn’t realize my anxiety was so out of control before having this little Emergency Room epiphany, but I think that I was just so grateful to not feel extremely depressed, that I decided everything else was “fine” and that I was just “physically ill.”

I still “don’t feel good” physically and am going to need to get in to see my psychiatrist this week, but I am really not looking forward to that.  I reported increased anxiety at my last appointment, and I do have a PRN for anxiety that generally works.  It is only when the anxiety gets really blown up and into a full-on attack that seemingly nothing makes me feel any better.

I am curious.  Have any of my readers ever had something like this blow up out of nowhere?  I mean, it probably isn’t really “nowhere” and I just can’t pinpoint where it started.  Thoughts, feelings of commiseration, home cures (hahahah!!!)?

 

Reflections on an Imperfect Time

peace

I am currently in a place I never thought I would be.  I did not believe in the recovery model for mental illness even a few months ago, nevertheless thought I would be in a place in my life where the “recovery” stage would be very real and tangible in my day-to-day existence.

I never thought I would have any extended time of peace, and I never thought I would define peace as the picture to the left does:  “it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

I am there, hallelujah, amen, thank you.  There is chaos all around me, but my heart is calm, it is steady, it is beating strong.  All of those thoughts I had of giving up, have vanished.  Those thoughts of giving up that I had almost constantly through every day of the last several years of my life, the ones I didn’t *know how* to get rid of, the ones that kept me cycling through the hospital and the crisis residence and at the mercy of people (supposedly) saner than I on the other end of a phone line…gone.

I have been through months of adversity without losing my steadiness, and there are even more big changes to come.  I am ready.  I know how to climb the mountain and I am familiar with the path and the twists and turns, and I know it will be hard as Hell and that the Devil himself may stand in my way, but I know within myself that I am ready for this adventure.

selfish

QoB is moving away, and my contact with her is sure to greatly decrease.  I am learning that my mom is not the young person she used to be, and that it is time for her to turn her thoughts and her activities and her energies into herself, her new relationship, and into being a cherished Abuela.

It is hard to let her go, to stop calling her so often, to not count on her for every little thing, to really *grow up* here at age 34.  I have had my mom by my side my whole life, she has gone to bat for me countless times, and now, I need to go to bat for myself and count on LarBear to be my touchstone.  This doesn’t mean the relationship I have with her will be any less special, it just means that it is time for me to learn to count on other people.

I *DO* have other people I can count on in this life, and she deserves all the happiness available to her, and if that happiness is retirement and open prairies and big blue skies, then I wish all that for her and more.  There is such a thing called a telephone, and it isn’t like I will never ever see her.  It will just be less.  It is only within the last month, I think, that I would ever have been able to accept this for what it is.

With QoB moving away, retiring from the life here, comes the need for LarBear and I to move.  Physically move, that is, into a new home.  Of course, this creates stress and upset and all of the above, but we need to start living within our very own means, and know that we can still be okay.  We don’t have a terrible income, and it is enough that we will be able to find a nice-enough place to live.  Of that, I have no doubt.  I only wish the process were speedier, more certain, less of a time-suck.  I am ready to find the place and get the stuff moved and BE THERE.

what everyone is doing

The part of the recovery model I am most focused on now, which is also part of DBT, is that I am building A LIFE WORTH LIVING.  The past several years, I have been eking by, and I’m done with that.  I do not want to define myself by my mental illness, and I don’t want others to identify me that way, either.  I am a strong woman and I have a good man by my side, and I honestly feel I can tackle whatever is around me, that needs tackling.

I have even more support outside of my relationship with LarBear, whether it is the constant support of my mental health center contacts, or my Dad, or the Big Dawg.  I have places to turn to.  More than anything, I want LarBear and I to build a beautiful life together, and we are well in the process of doing that.

I don’t want to be “the crazy one” forever, and I tire of being looked at that way by family, acquaintances, the like.  I believe that I am even *more* sane and well-balanced than the average bear, because I am insightful into my life and I *do* examine my own thoughts and behaviors and I also spend great gobs of time practicing DBT and going to therapy and the like.  Practicing my skills isn’t something that anyone should look down on a person for.  Chances are, some of the skills could work for you, or for you, or for my mom or for LarBear or any number of people.

I have more skills in my toolbox than most people, and I think that is wherein the true advantage lies.  I have those skills and I am in touch with different things that help me to feel better, such as writing and making jewelry, and I do not let a single day pass in which I do not create something, anything.  It is so very important — not the product, but the process.  It doesn’t matter if you try a new recipe or build a Lego village or paint a picture…the creativity that dwells within us, heals us, and there is a multitude of proof or evidence out there that healing can happen, no matter how desperate you feel your situation is.  If I can do this, you sure can, too.

live beautifully

Rant-ish

***I almost didn’t publish this.  It is too ugly and ranty and paints me in a way that I don’t want others to think of me.  But this is real, this was my day, this was my evening, these are my thoughts.  I tire of apologizing for being who I am, for my feelings, for exposing the uglies in my brain to the outside air.  I’m not perfect and I don’t expect anyone else to be.

i wont apologize for who i am

I have spent over half my life in the care of mental health professionals.  Since age 16, to be exact, although I can recall being required to see school counselors as early as the second grade.  What was it that was so terribly *wrong* at such a young age, that I needed to see a school counselor?  I don’t remember exactly, and I really don’t want to hear the real answer, but I do remember that I have always struggled in relationships with my peers.

That hasn’t really changed.  My on-again, off-again personality pushes people away, as does my clingy-ness and rapid mood changes and social awkwardness and tendency to shut down completely for months on end.  I have a handful of online friends, that I do keep in close contact with, and I have LarBear.  Otherwise, I have family — QoB, my dad, the Big Dawg…all close to me in one manner or another, varying from one time to another.

For me, that’s enough, and it’s almost more than I can handle sometimes.  I have added peer support to my treatment mix, and it is one more person that I have to handle, and to be honest, I haven’t handled her well.  I cancelled our appointment today, fifteen minutes before I was supposed to be there.  There is no common courtesy in that at all, and I can imagine she is pissed, but I wasn’t able to make myself leave the house and go to that appointment.

I tried getting her on the phone several times, but that is mission impossible because I am not allowed to have a phone number for her that actually rings her line.  When my call is transferred from the front desk, it literally rings to a phone that is not in existence, and then goes to her voicemail.  Voicemail that she checks once a day, at best.  I have left her countless voicemails before, only to get a response fifteen minutes before our next scheduled appointment.  What kind of support is it, when I can only have access to her within the confines of my appointment?  I have better access to my med treater than that, for crying out loud, and this person is supposed to be “support.”

I suppose this is just me demonizing another person and blaming and complaining.  It’s what I would be told, and you know, frankly, I’m getting really tired of having my feelings invalidated.  It really is no wonder to me that I can’t get along with anyone worth a damn, and it has been this way so long, and so severely, that I really don’t see another way.

DBT helps.  Of course it helps.  Does my current therapist know DBT?  No.  What do we talk about?  I’m not sure.  I can’t really remember from appointment to appointment, which makes me feel as if I am having no gains in that department.  The lapses in my memory are frequent and significant, and I know it is because I am numbing myself and distracting away negative feelings.  I am not allowing myself to live my life, I am trying to just get through it.

And I am back around to that DBT saying, you’re trying hard enough, and you can try harder.  I want to put that on a billboard in my front yard, so I can look out my window every five minutes and see it flashing at me in bright red.  It is very frustrating to me, that I feel I am being written off by the mental health staff at the center, as someone whose problems are in her head.

I am still straightening out a few things and a lot of sentences in my head, and maybe tomorrow or the next I can post more about why I feel kicked to the curb by my treaters, but for now, I need to calm down or I will never sleep.  Sleep would be good, it would be helpful, it would make matters better.  One can only hope.

Rapid Cycling Tempered With Suicidal Ideation and Clarity (TW)

TRIGGER WARNING — mentions of suicidal ideation and self-harm thoughts

not giving up

I have been pondering doing ECT again for the past several days.  According to my mood tracker app, I have had six days in a row now where I have struggled desperately with suicidal and self-harm thoughts.  Had I been using the app for even longer, it would have shown some seriously ridiculous rapid cycling.  The up, the down, it never ends.  This last stretch has been particularly difficult.

I have opted not to go to the hospital or the crisis house, mostly because it is too hard to be away from my natural support system.  With the near-constant help from LarBear, and lots of support from Mom and Dad, and the support of friends, I have managed to stay safe.  There have been many times where I was *almost* not safe, and there was some self-harm behavior that I DID engage in, but I am still standing, still in once piece.  Upright, as I told a friend yesterday.

golden gate

And that’s the truth — there isn’t anything in my life that isn’t *fixable*.  Unfortunately, it isn’t a “magic wand” kind of fix or a pill I can take or a therapy I can do.  It is all, I believe, a mixture of many things that keep me alive and keep me from making that final step into the abyss.  I hover over the line, testing my toes across the edge, but I consistently pull back.

Because LarBear.

Because Kizzie.

Because my mom and my dad and my sister.

Because Oscar.

Whatever the “because” is, it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that I still have a “because,” and even several of them.  Even at my very worst, I can almost always keep in mind that I don’t want to leave these precious people behind.  It is a blessing that I can think this way, and it is only when I am unable to see their importance in my life that I will put myself into a hospital or a crisis house.

Oscar’s birthday was the 19th, and I meant to do a birthday post for him, but mentally wasn’t up to it.  I am going to try and crank one out in the next day or so anyway — he is two years old now, so I am pretty sure he won’t judge me too harshly for not being on time.

Yes, because Oscar.

Yes, because my sister.

Thank you, baby Jesus, that I have my family, that I have my LarBear, that I have my friends.  Without them, things would be very grim indeed.

And KINDNESS.  No, kindness is not overrated.  It is simple, while being complex, and is really so VERY easy, even though sometimes it’s hard.  So, because kindness.  You never know what someone is going through, right at this moment.  Be kind.  Smile at someone.  You could save a life, without knowing it.  I know I have seen some smiles in my life that have kept me from wrapping my car around a bridge abutment, from stepping out a window, from picking up that instrument of self-harm.  It really can do it.  Please smile at someone today.

lightens the burdens

 

 

 

(Escalation) — Trigger Warning

TRIGGER WARNING — mentioning of self-harm behaviors

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My anxiety level has been through the roof the last two days.  Yesterday, I went to a basketball game with my dad and LarBear, and totally lost my shit in front of an arena full of people.  I tried to calm down for awhile, sitting outside smoking a cigarette, and then sitting in a folding chair in the hallway.  I couldn’t calm down enough, with a combination of Klonopin PRN and talking to my mom and breathing exercises, and gave up and left the game mid-way through the second game.

I felt like a failure for not being able to go back into the game, but all I could say was, “I’m losing my shit” over and over.  I was shaking, my chest hurt, my mind raced ten times more than normal.  I was having a panic attack and nothing I did could make it subside.  Sometimes the only safe place is home.

And sometimes, home isn’t safe.  It’s been another day of high anxieties.  I noticed today that I have been using my gum floss pick to destroy my mouth.  And then sitting it down for five minutes, but having itchy fingers and picking it up over and over.  As I sat with anxiety higher than I could stand, I noticed my mouth was full of blood.

And so I picked away some more, because, DAMMIT, it felt good.  And bad.  And like SOMETHING, all at one time.

I did eventually point this out to LarBear, and he took them away, but my little secret is that I know where he hid them.  I’m not even thinking totally logically, because while I know its a bad idea, there is such a sense of relief.

I haven’t self-harmed in years, before this all started up again.  Its funny (oh except not-so-funny) how easy it is to fall back into old patterns.  Just the other day, I took all the skin off the pads of my fingers, just like I used to do in high school, because it was soothing.

That’s sick, people.  Removing skin from your body should not be soothing.  But it is.  Jabbing a sharp object into bleeding gums over and over should not be soothing, but it is.  I don’t want to devolve into some other self-harming behavior, namely bulimia, but I suppose anything is possible.

Life is so different than it used to be.  My support system is different, my day-to-day life is different, winter is different.  I have to adjust, I have to adapt.  I am having a hard time doing so.

I didn’t want to put this out there, this bit about self-harm, but I think if I am going to be truly honest (and I want to be), then I have to.

It’s something I’m going to bring up in my next therapy session and its something I will have to explain more to the LarBear.  Just because its happening doesn’t mean I need to go to the hospital.  I’m not at that level yet, and hopefully won’t get there.

Changes, changes, changes.  All things must change, and this is another one of those things that’s gotta go.  I am giving myself an atta girl for recognizing the problem, and now just need to focus on ways to avoid these problem behaviors.

 

max-depree-quote-stress-relief

A Bit Strange — More Crunch, Less Smoosh

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The last bit has been so very up and down, my moods so quickly changeable, intense.  Many tears shed, even more maniacal laughter.  Sarcasm sharper than sharp, my brain is afire and I find myself plucking “damn, that’s good!” phrases and one-liners from it at random, and feeling prideful, in a sense, that my brain is so damn wonderful.  The up and down is fast becoming more of an “up” and hopefully, not a “too up” up.  If you had to ask me right this second how I will feel tomorrow, I really wouldn’t know where to begin but would bet on “elevated.”

Memories have been haunting me lately.  I attribute it to listening to a lot of different music, and also on the fact that my brain is whirring along faster than ever with the subtraction of a very sedating sleep medication that I decided I no longer wanted to take.  Belsomra…that stuff is of the devil himself.  So, I took myself off the “anti-nightmare” medication Clonidine, as well, because it just wasn’t working.  As my psychiatrist often says, no point taking something that doesn’t work.

I happen to know things are getting better (or at least more interesting) for my mental health because I can identify so closely with the word photos in this post.

i can and i will

I had a really great day today.  I made it back to the gym and my water-walking, I helped my mom roll almost three dozen burritos, LarBear and I have been clicking along, and I have all this new-found energy.  Great things build upon itty bitty good things, I have found, throughout life.  If I can just get started, I can be dangerous.  I’m like a snowball coming down the top of the hill that just keeps gaining new snow and getting bigger and wilder and faster.  Hmmm, this does not make it sound so positive, but it does FEEL positive.

I am working really hard in DBT on judgement.  Judgement of self, but other people, too.  First focusing on my own self-judgement, and the rest will follow.  I am trying not to judge my quick thoughts and upbeat mood and newfound energy, and to just accept them as they are, not try to label.

That’s hard, and if you have any kind of disorder in your life, you know that.  You know the SIGNS, man!  The warning signals.  I am glad the cycling isn’t so rapid right at the moment, but I WILL keep an eye on things if I continue to get racier in my brain and louder in the mouth.  I am so stinking tired of med changes and most days would like to get rid of them altogether, but the constant TWEAK that seems necessary is annoying.

I really must listen to one more song, smoke one more cigarette, drink a little more Crystal Lite, and try to go to bed.  I have a full day of things tomorrow, because I WILL be doing things, while I have the energy, seeing as it seems to be so fleeting.

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