Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I've Migrated To WordPress

Okay, here's the deal, everyone. I'm getting comments in two places and I can't maintain two blogs at the same time! It just doesn't make sense and I'm going crazier than I already am.

So because there isn't already enough chaos in my life at the moment, I have decided to totally alter my blogging life as well. I know, someone shoot me now!

So this will be my last post on this blog.

Everyone, please update your blogrolls with:

http://patientanonymous.wordpress.com/

And anyone else who wants to link to me knock yourselves out!

From this point forward, all (in)activity will take place on that blog. Please comment there even if it is on an older post that you read here. Everything has been migrated and all post categories/labels are the same as well. Please do not leave any more comments on this blog as I would like to have everything coherent and complete. I've altered commenting here but I don't know how that will affect things--don't be upset folks--just come see me at my new pad.

I will be leaving this blog up for a while until I get everything completely set up and I feel comfortable with my change...and just to make sure that everyone knows where I am and I haven't fallen off the earth.

Erm...New Blog URL?

I might be migrating to WordPress. I've kind of hated Blogger ever since I started and I just jumped on it because, well...I saw so many other people using it.

I don't know.

It might take me an eternity to decide.

Or it might not.

And I'm not sure if it will work. It's supposed to--so it says. But well, it's not like I have any Pulitzer Prize worthy stuff on here anyway. However, I do appreciate peoples' comments and links to their blogs for reference. Even if I had to start over (i.e. if everything sort of *disappeared* into the cyber ether in the process) I suppose it wouldn't be the travesty to end all travesties.

More change though...

Hmmm.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Why Can't I Believe In "God?"

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to incite any hatred, mud-slinging, flaming or general bitchiness (except maybe for me to rant--but only about my own life and not anyone else's.) There seems to be enough of that going around the flogosphere these days and I won't add to it. So please try and not take anything I say out of context. Religion is always a touchy subject but I feel like utter hell at the moment so why not toss it out there. Perhaps I would have fit right in there with the self-flagellants if I did believe during that time in history.

I am an atheist. I don't "preach" about it but if asked I don't hide this fact. I have been an atheist for...well, quite a long time now. I guess I would have to say for at least 10 years if I had to hazard a guess. Prior to that I would have to say that I was agnostic. My sister is a Jehovah's Witness, My father converted to Roman Catholicism in order to marry his third wife although be he and my mother were raised (loosely) in the Anglican Church. Oh, and my mother believes she is The Second Coming of Christ. No, I'm not joking. She's believed this ever since I was a child. Not in literal form but she believes that she is here to re-create a New World Order and she is to lead it. She has been "Sent By God" to do this. It's really fucking scary. And let's not forget the little gem drilled in to me since Day One that "I was Chosen By God to live." That's just too much weight (and guilt) for a small child to bear.

Aside: if you hadn't known about that there is some chance that my mother miscarried during her first trimester and lost a twin but I survived.

I have no problem with worship per se. Organized religion kind of gets my goat but I won't ramble on too much about that as it can get a bit heated and I don't want to go too off topic and start up. And I'm tired and sick. I do, however, respect everyone's right to believe what they wish. I have studied many religions of the world going back to my teens. I may need a bit of a refresher on some but at the end of the day, if it makes you a better, stronger person and can help you sleep well at night, what's the harm? I've seen my sister go through some frightful things in life and the members of her faith and Congregation were better to her than I could believe!

I've been envious at times of those with strong faiths. But I can't reconcile my own beliefs with that of organized religion for starters and that of a "Higher Power." I just haven't found anything that fits in my brain. Something that I can understand and accept. Something that makes sense.

I know a lot of people that believe in God and have faith say that you just have to "let go" and believe in things and have the faith and that is part of the process but I just can't. I can't believe in something that I can't have some sort of proof of...I can't just sit around and wait and wonder and merely "accept" something "on a promise." I do and have done enough of that already. I would simply rather adhere to what I can already intuit and see and derive. It makes me comfortable.

I don't want to turn this into a huge forum about religion. In fact, I kind of don't like arguing (errr... debating...) about it anyway and certainly not with zealots. As I stated above, I do not have a problem with anyone practising whatever religion they choose if it makes them a better person. I would respect the same treatment in return. I don't like people trying to convert me. I've had enough of that before, even from within my own family (not immediate but extended--my uncle is a Minister and they even tried to "faith heal" me many years ago...yikes it was a little scary as I was younger and didn't want them to do it but they kept pressuring me.)

I'm already kind of debating hitting the little orange "Publish" button as it is because I feel so low today. However, as they say, blogging is good for the "soul?"

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Well, Got The Apartment

That's one thing done...there's so much more to do though...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Apartment Hunting 501

I chose the "501" because I realized today that this is the 5th time that I have had to run around rather madly trying to search for an apartment. And the second time due to a break up.

My life has rather strange re-occurring patterns. Actually, way too many of them but I'll try to limit it to simply apartment hunting for now.

Today was rather stressful and lengthy. I viewed several units and well, really only one of them is probably suitable. I realize that I will never find the *perfect* living space. Really, there is no *perfect* anything in life. However, I must try to still find something decent that will satisfy necessary criteria.

I also must contend with the anxiety (apart from all of the other anxiety I am dealing with) of the "competition" of finding a space (even though it really is a renter's market at the moment.) However there is still a lot of shit out there as I saw today. And I really hate shopping. For anything, especially "big ticket" items. When I do shop, I like to go in, grab what I need and get out as soon as possible.

How many places must I see? And I have limited time. And I am racing back and forth between almost opposite ends of the city...

*sigh*

I think I shall just take the last place I saw today and be done with it. I am still waffling about looking further but I really don't know if I will find anything better. It seems "good enough." I am afraid that if I don't take it and I wait, I may end up getting stuck with something far worse. There are some things I don't really like about it but again, nothing is perfect. Part of me sort of thinks, do I really care that much where I live anyway?

It snowed last night on top of it all as well. I spent far too long out in the cold all day today and now my head is positively clogged, my throat is killing me, I'm shivering uncontrollably and can not get warm. I think I'm getting sick. That figures.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Back From My Physical

So I had to go for my annual physical with my GP this morning. As suspected I have indeed lost more weight. The total should be about 20lbs. now. I am eating. At least something. And supplementing with Ensure. Crap, I had a rather healthy portion of spaghetti last night for dinner! I skipped the salad but that's mostly water anyway, right? I thought I'd just shovel in the carbs and the protein.

My GP was rather concerned. She asked if I am exercising. HA! Nope. For one thing, I'm too lazy and for another I'm too drained and exhausted--both mentally and physically these days. I do walk a little bit on work days for my commute? I don't know how much that counts. I know people say that exercise is good for those of us who are psych/neuro disordered but even when I tried I never seemed to reap any benefit. Cycling mostly. As in riding a bike, not being Bipolar.

Sorry, bad joke.

We will need to follow up soon after the upper endoscopy and colonoscopy next month to find out what on earth is going on. My cluster of symptoms seem to "look" like four things. Two of them start with a "C" and two of them start with an "I." I'm not jumping to any conclusions but I'm not ruling anything out.

But the weight loss is troubling and bizarre.

We also went over my psych evals and she was just about as peeved as I was about the last one. She couldn't understand why psychiatirst #2 refused me ongoing treatment. I also brought up Aspergers and she didn't bat an eyelash. We're going to get the two evals back, review them, I suppose and she is going to try and find yet another psychiatrist for a consult as she really wants me to see someone who will agree to monitor me on a regular basis. I mean, I know I have a complex brain but I'm beginning to feel like a neurological leper. And a social one too.

During my exam, I rambled on and on about how fucked up my life has been and is of late, I told her about my recent cutting...anything else?

She asked me to come back in a month and hopefully she will have the results of *everything* and hopefully a better psychiatrist to help me out. So as far as my head goes, no med changes as of yet. She booked me in for 30 minuntes which are her types of "counselling" appointments. She wants to spend more time talking with me as I guess both my body and my life are rather chaotic.

I think I have been lucky to find a real gem. Even if I have to travel a bit of a distance to see her each time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Relationship Is Over

Yes. It's true. I can't really say too much about it right now. Maybe I'll blog more about it one day. Things have been deteriorating for a long time and well? It has now reached an end point.

We are handling things okay and have agreed to remain friends. I hope that this can indeed happen. It's actually one of the better break ups I've had I suppose? But ending relationships..well it is never an easy thing.

This will entail major change for me. Most immediately on a practical level and I have blogged previously about my serious aversion to change. I do not deal well with it.

I will soon need to find my own apartment. I will need to deal with moving. I positively loathe moving. I find it a logistical nightmare and I have problems planning, organizing and packing and am a general dope when it comes to this.

However, I have been down this road before. I shall persevere.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Cognitive Behavioural Model and IBS

I came across a paper that conducted a study on IBS onset after Campylobacter infection. It goes into some cognitive/psychological aspects and I found it rather interesting as opposed to what has mostly been done in terms of simply that which looks for a medical perspective as to why else(?) something happens.

It has long been known that "stress" can be a trigger for IBS and can exacerbate its symptoms but I believe this is the first time, or so the paper claims, that anyone has actually tried to measure cognitive factors.

It was published in the Journal Gut in February 2007 but I couldn't gain access. However, I did find a PDF copy of it online here.

Some of the more interesting points:

There is some evidence for the risk factors outlined in this
model. In support of biological infections, a number of studies
have shown that various forms of gastroenteritis are risk factors
for the development of IBS. Psychology also plays a role.
Sykes et al showed that people with premorbid psychiatric
diagnoses, particularly anxiety disorders, were at greater risk of
developing IBS after gastroenteritis. Similarly, depression,
neuroticism, somatisation and stress have all been linked to
the onset of IBS. Finally, Parry et al found that patients
with gastroenteritis who had more negative perceptions of their
infection were more likely to develop IBS.

Significance of the psychological variables: (sic. within study)

Six of the eight psychological variables were predictors of IBS
caseness, the exceptions being depression and perfectionism. In
accordance with the model, IBS cases reported significantly
higher levels of anxiety, somatisation, perceived stress, negative
illness beliefs and all-or-nothing behaviour at the time of
the acute infection. IBS cases were also significantly less likely
to have limited their activity levels in response to their
gastroenteritis.

This study is the first to prospectively investigate a combination of emotional, cognitive and behavioural risk factors relevant for the development of IBS after Campylobacter gastroenteritis. The results generally supported the cognitive–behavioural model,
with higher levels of anxiety, somatisation, perceived stress and negative illness beliefs all found to be significant risk factors for the development of IBS 6 months after infection. IBS were also more likely to have reported a tendency to be overactive in the face of their symptoms until they could no longer carry on (all-or-nothing behaviour), and less likely to
initially rest or reduce activity in response to their acute illness (limiting behaviour). Depression and perfectionism were not significant risk factors in the development of IBS.

Relative importance of the psychological variables

When considering the relative importance of these variables, multivariate analysis of four factors identified using principal components analysis found that an anxious-achievement
cluster of variables (made up of anxiety, stress and perfectionism) and an all-or-nothing behaviour on its own were the most important predictors of IBS along with female gender. These results support the hypothesis that the predisposition to IBS may be mediated by unrealistic personal expectations in the context of high levels of perceived stress and anxiety. These predispositions lead patients to respond to illness by initially not allowing themselves time to recover, which ultimately leads to an all-or-nothing pattern of responses.

Stress has also been considered an important precipitant in the cognitive behavioural model of IBS; however, the empirical evidence from retrospective and cross-sectional studies has
been inconsistent.

One other prospective study of postinfectious IBS found that higher levels of life events in the 12 months prior to gastroenteritis were associated with the development of IBS. The current study has further clarified the role of stress with the finding that levels of perceived stress are also strongly associated with the development of IBS, indicating that the individual’s interpretation of stressful events may be as important as the nature of those events.

The cognitive behavioural model of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective investigation of patients with gastroenteritis

Meagan J Spence, Rona Moss-Morris

Gut 2007;0:1–6. doi: 10.1136/gut.2006.108811

Monday, March 12, 2007

I Must Have Order! (Or Not...?)

Alright, I'm tired so excuse me if this post may not be so orderly.

It is born out of a comment I made on someone else's blog about drugs and mismatched socks.

But the drugs don't really have anything to do with it.

I need a lot of order in my life--even to the point of minute things. Like matching socks. I mean, it's an absolute imperative. However, I can also live in organized chaos. It can seem like a bit of a paradox but it's really not. Because it's my chaos. To anyone else, it would look like a F2 Tornado had just gone through the room but chances are, if you give me a minute, I'll be able to get you what you need.

This was a lot easier when I lived alone.

My partner went through a bit of a cleaning sweep (pun intended) over the weekend and moved all of the DVDs from where they were "neatly scattered" by the DVD player in the bedroom. The DVD player had been moved by me to the bedroom from the living room well over a year ago when we had friends with a son who is on the Autistic Spectrum. We let him happily watch a movie later so we could carry on with dinner. I just never bothered to move the damn thing back so there it stayed.

So anyway, I stroll back into the bedroom and immediate panic sets in. WHERE ARE THE DVDS?!?! No, I'm serious. A wave of panic actually came over me--even though it was brief. Before I started asking, I decided to start looking. I did find them. Moved to a shelf. In another room. At least I didn't have to go digging for them like a lot of my other stuff that sometimes gets moved. And sometimes gets lost and never found.

And don't even get me started when my partner decides to rearrange the kitchen.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Confusing the Psychiatrists

Well, I just returned from my second psych evaluation. I never blogged about the first, I don't think? I can't remember. Well if I did (or did not) here's a brief review.

Of course with my "doctor anxiety" I was nervous as hell. Add to the fact that I hadn't had a full consult in about seven or eight years. I had no idea what to expect. It went alright, however. The psychiatrist at this "institution" had a gentle demeanor and a soft voice and we actually ran over the allotted time. I felt okay with it and he allowed me to ask as many questions as I needed.

Alright
, I thought, this whole evaluation thing isn't so bad. Granted, it was difficult to pack your entire life's woes and psychological/neurological history into such a brief time span. I didn't cover everything in perhaps as much depth as I wanted with this man. The reason being, this consult was a "one off" and I did not expect any further appointments or follow ups with him. And again, I was nervous, unprepared and it was difficult. However, we went through Medication History, Family History/Trauma, Bipolar Disorder, Self Injurious Behaviour, Hospitalizations, ADD and a little bit about Aspergers.

After it all, he said he would "try and put something cohesive together" for my GP. I had to laugh a bit at that one.

Today was a bit different, however. I was mistaken about a lot of things. First, my appointment duration. I was told an hour, I only received 30 minutes. Also, I was under the impression I would be seeing this psychiatrist on an ongoing basis. Nope. But more on that later. Also, this man was not as...well, he certainly had a different "demeanor" than the first psychiatrist I saw.

It was a good thing I was a bit more prepared for this appointment. 30 minutes! We very briefly touched on all of the above mentioned in the first appointment. He asked some fairly simple and straightforward questions and I answered them. I gave him my prepared "dossier" and he flipped through some of the pages. Basically some self-prepared notes about ADD and Aspergers and some highlighted notes from referenced materials etc...

He asked if he could keep all of it. I told him the copies were his.

He basically told me about a counselling group (i.e group therapy) for women who are trauma survivors and how I could take advantage of that. He also told me that I would not benefit from ongoing psychiatric treatment from a psychiatrist due to my problems with functioning and other issues. I have no idea what this means. I don't know if this is an allusion to the fact that I have Aspergers or not. He said that seeing a psychiatrist would only exacerbate my problems. He said that I already have a therapist, see a neurologist and have a GP so that is good enough. Well, then why offer me group therapy? During all of this I simply stated that people with Aspergers do not usually do well in therapy. He agreed.

I still remain confused.

I did manage to get out of him his med recommendations. He had five. Ooh, decisions, decisions! He also casually mentioned one of them, Risperdal, would be helpful with both Bipolar and Aspergers. I told him that yes, I knew this. I also had to remind him of another med that would probably be helpful. He agreed and wrote it down. I so often wonder what doctors think of me when I stroll into their offices and spout such things.

So at that point, time was pretty much up. I felt unfulfilled. I asked him what he thought of the ADD and Aspergers. He said it was hard to tell due to "other issues" and the trauma I had been through. Alright. I understand all about truama and it does not preclude neurological disorders. I also argued high comorbidity rates (and even had that reference material with me.) I asked him if he planned on reading what I had brought him. He said that yes, he would. As I was putting on my coat, I asked again, "So it wasn't all in vain, then?" He said that no, it wasn't.

Yes, I can be terribly blunt.

Now I understand that clinicians can not provide diagnoses on the spot and I did give him a fair amount of documentation to review but a little more feedback would have been helpful.

Shoot, I can't stream the song I wanted for my new MP3 so you'll just have to go with my second choice. "One In Ten Words" by The Spoons. Canadian Band and the poppy little song is from my youth...it makes me laugh about communication.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

And It Just Continues...

Well, guess who decided to show up two days late? I got an email from my father. Very brief. He told me, Happy Birthday, he loves me and he misses me. Nothing else. WTF? Then contact me you bloody idiot?! Why must it always be up to me--again, why must I always parent my parents! I've done it since I was a child and can not do it any more!

And yes, attached was another PowerPoint presentation although this one was at least a bit less painful to view (well, visually) as it was all van Gogh artwork. However, it was set to the music of Don McLean's "Starry Starry Night."

Now if you haven't heard this song, you can grab a listen or take a peek at the lyrics. Okay, I don't know what the hell could be more triggering to someone who is psych disordered and has issues with their parents, who then receives this from one of them as a "birthday present!?"

And yes, I know it was written about van Gogh but still! It's not exactly cheery!

What on earth!?

I responded rather tersely and with surprise at hearing from him after such a long pause in communication.

This is not how I wished to start my day.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Bloody Birthday Bullshit!

So not a word from my father. No phone call. No email. Not a fucking thing.

Just more deafening silence.

You know, we communicated more when he was on the other side of the country but now that he's moved back to my/our home province--nothing. That was in the fall. Almost five months ago.

I received three mass-addressed emails soon after he arrived (one being some spammy "love everyone around you" *thing* with ridiculous, tacky photographs in PowerPoint--I positively can't stand those--they make my eyes bleed!) The others, simply his contact information.

Otherwise, there has been no personal contact between us. The last time we actually had any sort of personal exchange was last fucking MAY!!!

We have not had a fight, a falling out, anything of the sort. He did not contact me at Christmas, nor did any of his side of the family (other than more mass-addressed, spammy, shit, crap-assed email that I can not stand!)

I can not find any rational, logical explanation for this.

I didn't fucking do anything! FUCK!

Goddamn Prick.

Edit: Perhaps when I'm a little bit calmer I shall post on how I need to "deal" with this.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Today Is My Birthday

...and no, you don't need to wish me Happy Birthday--I'm not really big on celebrating or looking for attention. I just needed something to post about.

So for anyone curious, I'm 37 today. It's just a number. Age is a state of mind. Some days I feel four, some days I feel 12, I never feel like I'm in my teens (those days need to be erased from my memory permanently), a lot of the time I still feel like I'm in my 20s and yes, many days I feel like an octogenarian.

I actually came up with a wacky idea many years ago that we really never know how old we are because from birth, we have no notion of self-awareness (sentience, yes) however, we are merely "told" by our parents and by various documents that on a certain date we were born. Really, I could be any age right now! Perhaps this idea was born out of years of trauma and the subsequent disdain and anger I have toward my parents. I'm essentially accusing them of lying to me about my very existence--or a vital detail about it. Well, they've lied to me about other things!

For any astrology buffs out there, I thought I'd talk about my chart--and what it supposedly reveals about me. Now by today's date, it's obvious that I am a Pisces. That is my Sun Sign. But there are many more elements that make up one's astrological profile. But before we get into that, here are some basics about all the signs. I'm not a huge believer in astrology; I think it's kind of fun and sometimes you can find some interesting and revealing facts about yourself but anyway, here we go.

All signs have dualities that are basically "masculine" (direct, energetic) and "feminine" (receptive, magnetic.) They also are further divided into triplicities:

Fire: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius - Active, Enthusiastic
Earth: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn - Practical, Stable
Air: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius - Intellectual, Communicative
Water: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces - Emotional, Intuitive

Now me.

Sun in Pisces:

Your Sun Sign is your primary sign and basically how other people see you. It can be likened to the role you are given to the play of life, the role you act. But it is a broad sign and not the complete picture.

According to my Pisces Sun, I am receptive, intuitive, emotional, romantic, impressionable, mystical, adaptable and very changeable. Pisces rules the feet. I do have terribly sensitive feet. Pisceans have a high susceptibility to drugs and alcohol and are easily drawn to unpredictable situations and and unbalanced people. HA! Oh dear...

My most likable trait is compassion. This is nice. But apparently I take on too much where other people are concerned and I have trouble saying, "No!" Well, this has been a problem in the past? Maybe it still is? Supposedly I am in great possession of artistic ability but I suffer from lack of self-confidence. I am too unsure of myself. But if I can get over this, I may be able to produce great things.

My sensitivity and awareness can border on clairvoyance. Hey, I might be psychic! Some people might consider me a little bohemian in nature. Okay, that last statement--I can definitely get behind!

Moon in Aquarius:

Your Moon Sign is your second most important sign in your chart. It is what you see. It represents emotions, instincts, the unconscious. If the Sun represents your will, the Moon represents your instinctive reactions. If you wanted a Freudian analogy, the Sun is your ego; the Moon is your id. The Moon also represents the five senses, infancy, childhood, dreams, memory and your past--essentially components of your psyche. It influences your receptivity to others and often how others feel about you.

I like my Moon Sign. Now the good news? I can be idealistic, tolerant, a humanitarian with a progressive outlook. The not so good news? I can be unpredictable, contrary, aloof in opinion and tactless!

My Moon Sign makes me a very balanced thinker. I am rational, intuitive, imaginative. I take information, deal with it in a scientific, open minded way and then at the same time, try and see it from a human point of view. I am neither too cerebral nor too emotional. I am a visionary but I am not eccentric.

Apparently, I "crackle with vitality," have a wonderful gift for expression and am a witty conversationalist. I am interested in ideas, philosophy, higher learning, science and mathematics (well, I'm not so sure about that last one...) I am well rounded intellectually due to having so many interests. Also with this sign, I am told more and more about having heightened awareness and perception again to the level of clairvoyance, however, under the Aquarius Moon I have a wider outlook but shorter sight. I am a bit like a butterfly that flits from one thing to another.

Ascendant/Rising Sign in Cancer:

This sign is similar and complementary to your Sun Sign and reflects your outward demeanor or how the world sees you. It signifies goals, aims, objectives and how you react to what life throws at you.

Under Cancer, I am apparently very sensitive to emotional signals from other people with extraordinary insight into human motivation. I sometimes have a reserve about me that may be difficult to penetrate but underneath is a warm, giving, loving nature.

Apparently I can be moody, crabby and impatient! HA! I can take offense where none was intended and people need to be careful lest they hurt my feelings (don't worry people--comment freely on my blog, it's okay!) Again, there is more here about me being creative, even "gifted" *shrug* It also mentions being shrewd in business and good with money? That I have some definite trouble with! And that I have (and had) many obstacles in my path especially when young but with great tenacity, I can and will succeed in overcoming and will become stronger each time.

Now there are many other planets in your chart and so many other things that can be taken into account. But these are some of the basics, the three main aspects.

Oh, and thanks to everyone who commented and voted on whether or not I should get the MacBook. I decided that yes, in fact, I would buy it so it's my birthday present to myself.

Note: All astrological information referenced--The Only Astrology Book You'll Ever Need by Joanna Martine Woolfolk.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Today Is Self Injury Awareness Day

Apolgies for not getting this up sooner--busy day.

Thanks to Deb for posting about this earlier in the week as I knew it was in March but had forgotten the exact date. I do this often. My memory is abysmal.

I know it's hard as there are so many "days" commemorating and promoting this and that. Sometimes with the proliferation of these things it tends to take away the meaning. But I think I will take the time to blog about this one and give it a bit of show.

Now although this day is not formally recognized and is still more of a "grass roots" effort, I found through this site that two states in the US have actually proclaimed it an "official" day: Connecticut and New Mexico. The site offers some form letters if you feel like advocating to your local legislature. Granted, it's all done up for MPs in the UK but it will give you a template. It also offers some literature about self injury that is written by LifeSIGNS, the UK charity that well, basically seems to be managing the site.

Now on a more personal note, if you do not already know this, I am a self injurer. I have been and am a cutter. Please see the link entitled Cutting on the right for previous posts if you are interested. I have also engaged in punching walls, head banging. I have done these as a child and an adult--except the cutting, that came later.

I have been debating about disclosing this for a while but since today seems to be all about awareness, then I suppose it seems an appropriate time. I engaged in a cutting about three weeks ago. It has been about two and a half years since I last cut myself. I'm not even sure why I did it. There were no obvious triggers that day. I'm still not sure.

I do know that my last year has been fraught with tremendous difficulty and it is very surprising that I haven't completely fallen over the edge in dealing with some of the things that have hit me. Perhaps some extremely minor trigger that didn't even register just tipped the balance? Again, I am not sure. I don't know if I ever will be.

Perhaps I just need to have a big Bipolar flip out ever two and a half years!

I mentioned this to my therapist and she (rather glibly in my mind) said, "Well, you can flip out here!" But that is not the point. When you reach that level of crisis, that critical mass in your brain, you can't wait for a therapy session. Especially if you don't even see the oncoming onslaught. I was dissociated. Absolutely. The last thing on my mind was calling up someone, anyone and talking. The only thing I wanted to do was hide away from my partner, use the knife and then quickly try and repair the damage I'd done and hide it all (which was impossible--I'd cut too deeply.) However, not enough to require medical attention as in the past.

So on goes the battle, I suppose. But just remember--be kind and gentle and patient with the self injurers you encounter out there. Don't be scared even if sometimes what we do can seem a little difficult to handle. Believe me, it's difficult for us too.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Johnny and Doris - Part V - The End

He looked so small. Was he really that thin? With all the bruises on his face he looked entirely different. For Doris, that hit home with her unique and uncanny ability with faces. Even though John had only visited her twice, he had left an indelible impression.

A police officer entered John’s room and Doris stood to greet him.

"So you say he was mugged?" she asked.

"Yes Ma'am," the investigating officer said.

"I see."

"So you're his next of kin?"

"No!" Doris said, a little more forcefully than intended.

"So who are you then?"

Doris just shook her head.

***

She sat with him every day, every night. Every spare moment she had, she spent it by his bedside. He was now breathing on his own but he still hadn't regained consciousness. She had told Dr. Matheson about Stevie or what she knew of him, at least. He told her that they would deal with that later. "Let's just see if he can open his eyes first," he had said. "But it does explain the fact that there weren't any defensive wounds found on him. That's very strange for a case like this. He was either completely taken by surprise with no time to react or he didn't even attempt to defend himself at all. My guess would be the latter based on the extent and type of his injuries." Doris wept quietly when Dr. Matheson left the room.

Oh what to do with Johnny, she fretted. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t tell her his story. Surely he had family somewhere, people who might be missing him? Strangely enough no one had filed a missing person report. She took to reading to him, anything to pass the time, any way to stimulate him into consciousness.

Fourteen days later, John woke up. Doris was at the hospital but had just left his room to get herself a fresh coffee and some air. When she returned, she was shocked to see him, wide awake and staring out the window. He tried to get up to greet her but was temporarily snared by his IV. Then he was gripped by his own weakness and flopped heavily back onto the hospitals pristine pillows.

“Hey Doris,” John spoke rather casually, “what are you doing here?” It seemed odd, she thought, that his first question would be regarding her presence in the hospital and not his own.

“Well kid, you gave us all a pretty good scare. Do you remember anything that happened to you right after you left the diner? You know, that time after you told me about Stevie?”

“You know about Stevie?” John asked incredulously? Obviously his memory was a little bit murky at best.

“I just said that you told me about him!”

“Oh, sorry…” John seemed to shrink backwards within himself.

“Hey, hey. Don’t do that. I’m not mad at ya. Just worried is all. Hang on, let me go get everybody; they’ll be so excited!” Perhaps almost as excited as Doris was.

Over the next few days, contact was made with John’s only living relative, Keith, who flew in from London as soon as he heard. He thanked Doris profusely for all she had done and the vigil she had kept at his bedside.

John ended up being let go from his job. Not for his failure to show up during his days in the hospital but for his entire career of tardiness in general. The mugging and John’s subsequent rehabilitation just gave the company a perfect opportunity to bid him adieu. Doris and John’s relationship was now cemented, however. She still visited him whenever she could, first in the clinic where he sent after release from the hospital and then in assisted housing where he was placed to live, as he could no longer fully support himself. Doris continued to read to him, only this time John actively participated and sometimes did some of the reading himself. With Doris’ help John managed to attain a suitable level of literacy and even picked up a part time volunteer job at a local community centre.

Doris continued working for the rest of her days at the diner. No one ever came in like that one customer, on another otherwise nondescript rainy fall day and that was just fine. In her eyes, no one could have ever replace her Johnny anyway.

And as for Stevie, he disappeared. John had several new doctors now and one of them had given him some medication to, as he said, “let Stevie be free.” It wasn’t that Stevie was bad and being punished, John was told, it was just time for him to go on his own. After all, John was now a man and Stevie was still a boy. It was just better that way. John was relieved but on some days he still missed Stevie. On those days, he would get out his watercolours and paint for hours…to remember all the things they liked to do and all they places they had visited during their time together.

Johnny and Doris - Part IV

Whoosh...shuk...whoosh...shuk...

"I think we can take him off the ventilator now."

"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely. He's breathing on his own...or at least he wants to."

"Wants to?"

"Are you kidding me? This guy's a fighter!"

“Well, he certainly came in looking like one.”

“Yeah, I know. How on earth he thought he could take on six guys, I have no idea! His tox screen was clear so I have no clue what was going through his mind.”

“The police questioned the other parties and they just kept saying something about him yelling for someone named Stevie?”

“Well, he’s got no ID. I don’t know but maybe ‘Stevie’s’ a relative?”

"Alright. Call that number, that place...it should be open by now."

***

"Hello? Yeah, this is Doris... Who? I think you've got the wrong number...or at least the wrong Doris. Yeah? Uh-huh... Okay, okay let me see what I can do. I'll be over as soon as I can." Doris had no idea what was going on or why the hospital had called her. And a mugging? All they told her was that some John Doe had been found, barely alive, with her name and the name of the diner scrawled across a piece of paper in his pocket. She had no idea who it could have been but the nurse had been so insistent she felt she had to go. During all her years of service she rarely took time off so Lou was sure to oblige her on such short notice.

"Call Anne. I think she's at home today," Doris yelled as she flew out the diner's front door, the cheerful clatter of its tiny bells lost in the sound of the city.

When she arrived at the ICU desk she asked for the nurse that had called her.

"I'm sorry Miss...Miss...I'm sorry, what is your last name?"

"Beckstein."

"Yes, Miss Beckstein. We really had no other recourse. His wallet and ID were missing. If nothing more we thought you could at least provide us with identification." Doris inhaled deeply, "Okay, if you say so."

They walked down the hall and peered into the window of a private room that looked more like a laboratory than a hospital room. So much equipment! Doris had never seen anything like it?

"Well, here he is, Mr. John Doe." Doris stiffened at the task proposed to her. Okay, I'm ready, she thought, half consumed with fear, half battling an intensely morbid curiosity. She entered the door and approached the man on the bed.

"Oh my god...Johnny.."

"So you know him."

"Well, yeah but..."

"Alright, come with me." They returned to the desk.

"I'll need you to just fill out these forms..."

"What? Whoa, wait a minute...You said I just had to ID the guy."

"Well, yes...and now we need you to fill out these forms."

"Hey, I don't know this guy. He just showed up at the diner a couple of times."

"Oh. Okay, just a second. Let me speak with my supervisor." As the nurse turned away,

Doris called, "Hey, does this guy have a doctor?" This was the real beginning of

Doris and John's relationship.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Johnny and Doris - Part III

Stevie wasn't always so unwelcome. In fact, John kind of got used to him being around. John often had problems making friends. He had problems in school; he was different. Often found staring out the window or into a distant void--it seemed he was not often stimulated by his immediate environment. On the way home from school he would often become distracted. He loved climbing trees and would often be found in a nearby park well after dinner or bedtime in need of rescue. No, John wasn't particularly good with keeping track of time. He was often late for everything.

Stevie kept him company when no one else was around, which was most of the time. John's mother was a bit of an absent figure for him, working three jobs to keep her two sons clothed and fed. A myriad of babysitters were often present in the home. A frequent rotation of several different girls was often employed due to John's demanding care requirements. Maybe that's one reason why John rarely made it home on time. He never really cared for them. He only liked Keith, his older brother.

Keith was great and John idolized him. He wasn't always around though, being seven years older and he always seemed busy. He was involved in so many clubs at school and when he wasn't spending time with his friends there, he was playing lots of sports. Yes, Keith had lots of friends. John wasn't jealous though. He had Stevie.

Stevie often came up with lots of games to play. Some of which resulted in John getting into trouble. Like the time when they painted pictures on his bedroom wall of all the things they liked to do together and all the places they wanted to visit. Or when they decided to play "buried treasure" with nearly all of John's toys, digging up holes in the backyard, dropping the toys in and then creating a type of pirate's map to recover them all. Yes, Stevie was a lot of fun.

Sometimes he had to disappear though. John would be fine for a while but would inevitably miss him. When it got really bad, Stevie would always return. Usually with another fun game in which they could indulge.

Now things were different. All throughout high school (or rather until John's final year) they stayed almost completely intact. Right up until one game became a little too serious. Stevie had convinced John to steal a car. It was one of the new driver education cars parked at the school. John had seen all his peers learn how to drive and it was all they ever seemed to talk about. However, John’s challenges with school and learning automatically disqualified from the experience regardless of his ability.

These things disregarded, Stevie swore to John he could do it. And John wanted to do it. Badly.

The attempt did not go well. John managed to get the car started but in his excitement and confusion, he mistook the "R" for a "D" and sped directly into a rather large oak tree just in front of the parking lot. In a panic, he managed to shift the car into reverse but then, spun around and in further panic, shift back into forward gear and become airborne over a small embankment. When he came to, the police were there. No charges were laid but John was told, rather forcefully, that he would never be able to drive a car--ever.

Stevie got a little angry. In fact, it was the first time John and Stevie had ever had a fight. John tried to reason with him, tell him that it wasn't such a big deal after all. Eventually Stevie acquiesced. After that, things didn't seem quite the same between the two of them. The older John got, the more childish Stevie behaved. And for longer periods would he disappear. But when he returned, things weren’t always so pleasant for John.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Johnny and Doris - Part II

The days ran into weeks and soon it was November. The city's landscape was now a permanent grey. John's world had not changed much. As he passed the neighbourhood park he saw some children playing with a kite. I wish I was a kite, he thought, only no string!

He'd been back to the diner several times but Doris never seemed to be there. He hoped she hadn't quit. He liked her. She seemed smart but not mean like the other smart people he had met in his life. He rounded the same corner that he traveled almost every day to work only this time, he passed his workplace to go to the diner, in search of Doris, yet again.

It was a Saturday and the place was jam packed. However would he find a seat! John waited patiently for his favourite spot, the seat closest to the ordering station, the one closest to Doris.

Doris heard the faint tinkling of the diner's doorbells over the din of the breakfast crowd. Immediately she recognized him. She never forgot a face. Years in the diner industry taught her to be good with faces. Not only did it mean better tips but it was also important in case any funny business happened. Several seats became available but John remained standing, nodding politely, albeit awkwardly, to anyone else who wished to skip ahead of him for their meal. Eventually, the mother and young daughter who were in John's desired spot got up to leave.

"Well, look who's back!" Doris beamed, "the fastest eater in the west. How are you?" John gave a stilted smile back. "Fine, thanks."

"So, what would you like today? Even though it's still breakfast time we still serve our lunch menu. Whatever you want, we got."

"Do you have any eggs?"

"Do we have any eggs?" Doris' throaty laugh filled the room. "Well, yeah. I think we could find some. What kind?"

"Scrambled," John said decisively. He felt happy. Stevie had been good lately.

"So what's your name, kid?" Doris had been feeling good lately too. Not for any particular reason, if only for the fact that work had been steady and tips had been good. And maybe for the fact that later tonight she was indulging herself in a bottle of wine, a warm blanket on the couch and all the Harrison Ford she could handle.

"John."

"Well then Johnny, can I call you Johnny?"


"Sure, " John shrugged. It reminded him of his brother. He used to call him that. He missed his brother. Why'd he have to move all the way up to Canada and then all the way to London? He said it was because of his job but John still worked in Brooklyn. Right around the corner from where they both grew up.


"Great. Pleased to meet you, Johnny." Doris extended her hand. John took it slowly.


"Pleased to meet you...Doris," he said, staring at the lily adorned plastic nametag she wore.

"So Johnny, tell me about yourself." The breakfast rush was beginning to slow down.

"I work."

"Oh yeah? Good for you! What do you do?"

"Shipping."

"Oh yeah? Where do you that?"


"Just up the street." John fell silent. Doris stared at him for a few seconds, laughed to herself and


shook her head. Turning to pick up her next order she refilled John's coffee cup before heading to


the kitchen.

As soon as she returned, John's face had shadowed. Just like that, she thought.

"Doris, has anyone ever talked to you and you didn't want to listen?

Doris raised one eyebrow, "Kid, are you serious? That's a good one. Yeah, sure. What are you gettin' at?"

"Nothing," John dismissed her.

"Hey, Johnny, are you okay? Someone giving you a hard time?

"Oh no!" Johnny said. "Stevie would never do that. He gets a little annoying sometimes, that's all."

"Who's Stevie? Your little brother?"

John started laughing so hard he almost fell off his stool but then, magically straightened. "I never thought of it that way..." He was now staring off into the distance, a slight melancholy present in his eyes.

Doris was mesmerized by John. She couldn't quite put her finger on it. Maybe it was his childlike manner despite his lanky, almost gawky frame. He couldn't be much older than 25.

"So who's Stevie?" It was almost like talking to a child!

"He's the voice in my head."

"Oooooh..."Doris nodded. Of course! This guy was a nutcase. But he seemed harmless enough. "So what's he tell you?"

"All sorts of stuff. But he's so young! He doesn't know anything!" John retorted back in a surprisingly abrupt and loud tone.

Edit: Apologies for the formatting; Blogger's being cranky.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Johnny and Doris - Part I

I wrote this very short story several years ago. Cleaned it up a bit for posting here. It's a bit long for one installment so will be done in several. Thank you.

Leaving the building, he realized he had forgotten his umbrella. "Damn It! It sure looks like it's going to pour."

A diner was a block and a half away. As John entered trying to shake himself dry, his stomach growled. He glanced at the menus hoisted high above the long grills, deep-fryers and stainless steel counter space. Perhaps they had an all day breakfast or maybe just a coffee and a slice of pie. Sure, that was easy.


John waited patiently in line. When he arrived at the front, his eyes locked with those of a thin and weary woman, maybe 20 years his senior. Her name tag read: "Doris" and had white lilies patterned above the plastic pin that indicated her identity.


"What'll it be?" she sighed.

"What kind of pie you got? Fresh."


She threw him a long stare just to see if he was being sarcastic. Instead, she saw John's rather focused expression, like he was awaiting news about the current rainstorm on the radio, hanging onto the forecast as if he had plans later that afternoon to go sailing of play baseball in the park.


"Apple and blueberry, if you want cherry, you come tomorrow."


"Apple'll be fine," John nodded as he took a seat at the counter nearest to the ordering station, gingerly removing his soaking jacket to avoid dampening a nearby customer. Doris brought him his order and he ravenously dug in to the pie like he hadn't eaten in days. Then he slurped back his coffee and wiped his mouth along his shirtsleeve.


"That was impressive," Doris smirked. John returned her cheerful advance with only a blank stare. Doris straightened in demeanor. This guy was kind of strange. She had never seen him in the place before. They kept a pretty regular clientele. In this part of Brooklyn there were lots of places to choose from so Doris liked to think of all her regulars as family. Not that she wouldn't treat any newcomer like this guy any differently, it was just harder to joke around and gauge their reactions and this one was a prime example. "Can I get you anything else?" she inquired politely. John shook his head.

"How much?"

"Two eighty-five."

With that, John threw a crumpled two dollar bill and a handful of change on the counter and left. It had stopped raining and he could now walk safely home without his forgotten umbrella.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

I Like Toys

I'm a big gadget fan.








Yes, even if they sometimes mystify me.






Alright, I'll try and stop and get off the Apple Train but I am consumed. My little poll isn't helping me. It's current results are sitting at an even 50/50. I think part of the problem is that I'm not used to spending large quantities of money on myself. I've never really had any money so I have always lived a rather frugal existence (barring hypomanic spending sprees that have resulted in ridiculous amounts of debt--and regret--later.)

I have a terribly impulsive habit of buying things and then letting them sit to gather dust. Will this new "toy" encourage me to pursue more creative outlets of days long past? Can I make it into a useful tool?

There are (and have been of late) rumblings and eruptions in the workplace. I am trying not to think of losing my job. I'm not leaping over the edge into catastrophic thinking but surely you live in a bubble if you think that your job is safe at all in today's world. My MacBook would surely help me if I needed to go back to school and (eek!) think of pursuing a career in Nursing again. Or something else. Or it could perhaps just amuse me as I lay in bed completely depressed that I had lost my job. Or it would again gather dust because I would be so distraught I would not be able to move.

Anyway, enough of that talk! I am reasonably sure that my job is safe...for now at least.

I emailed a friend of mine, my "Mac Guru" for his advice. I haven't heard anything back. I will surely need his assistance. He helped me the last time, well, actually the last two times I bought old PowerBooks and loaded me up with all that I needed and got me up and running. They were both second hand machines so virtually useless. He's a whiz and I'm a dolt so I will need him.

But speaking of some "non-technical" toys, I bought a couple a while ago.

The first was a Newton's Cradle. I've wanted one for years! It's really cheap though. I want a better one! Again, perhaps I am too frugal. I don't know who likes it more, the cat or myself. Probably me because I have a slightly longer attention span? Granted, with this sort of thing, since it's a real "stim" toy (i.e. self-stimulatory behaviour) I could play with it for hours! I love watching the motion of it, staring at the shiny metal balls and hearing the steady click-click sound that it makes.

The sound reminds me of a metronome we had in the house as a child. I loved that metronome. I can not play the piano but my sister managed to teach herself when she was younger (lucky girl!) No one else in my immediate family plays but somehow she managed to aquire some innate musical talent. She can also play guitar but she hasn't really touched either in years.

I get upset with my Newton's Cradle, however, because it won't keep going! I never want it to stop. I become transfixed but I need to keep setting it in motion again and again. Because of this fact, I try to play with it only when I am alone. I fear that my obsession with it will drive anyone else around me and it completely bonkers. I was tempted to bring it in to work but that would not be a good idea for several reasons. Apart from the point previously mentioned, I already have too many other "toys" on my desk and in now looking around...well, it's always in a complete state of chaos. It would only add to the mounting clutter--just not a good idea.

I also bought a Mancala set. If you take the time to read about it in the link, this game is very old. I first played it while on vacation with a friend and his children in Antigua many years ago. It is deceptively simple but you can try to employ strategy. I've taken to actually setting it up and playing it by myself to try and see how to strategically "win" this game. It's a little difficult, however as there are variations as to how you can actually play the game.

I used to play chess as a child. My father taught me when I was young as I was curious about it. When I was about 10-12(?) instead of playing and running and jumping about the schoolyard with all of the other children, I had two other boys that I used to play it with when we had breaks from class or "recess." Yes, I was an absolute geek. But when we all advanced to a new school, the two boys went off to different ones and I lost my chess mates. And at home, things were growing more and more out of control and it seems I had lost my father as a chess mate as well. I've never played chess since.

As for games now, I will play anything that has to do with Trivia. You can't keep me away from it. I may not have a clue or sometimes I may score well but it's always fun.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Karmic Retribution?

I just had a wonderful, long talk with an old friend of mine.

Years ago, I was fired from a job for being "mentally ill." Of course, this was not the reason they gave but no matter, we all knew that was the truth. I had chosen to be open about my illness--I had no recourse. I had been hospitalized twice; I had even been visited during one of them by my Manager and Supervisor (much to my horror!) I believed they were trying to be supportive. Maybe at the time they were. I do not know.

I had no means for litigation--I was broke! I was close to living on the street as I had to barter my last month's rent by painting and doing some odd job work in another unit in the building lest my landlord try to evict me. I chose another "free" route via the government to seek what was owed to me.

I was "vindicated," I suppose. I did not receive the full settlement I was entitled to by law but I did receive a portion of it. That was all they were willing to give and I could have rejected it but I couldn't face going through the entire process again. It was too lenghty and too upsetting.

The company could have appealed everything entirely but they chose not to. I guess this means that in doing so, they were admitting that they were in fact liable and it was a case of "wrongful dismissal." I did not receive any apologies, however. The victory seemed hollow.

And it was truly brutal facing my Ex-Manager (who was now also my Ex-Friend,) my Ex-Supervisor, the head of Human Resources and the completely ridiculous lawyer they had hired all by myself.

Anyway, I had not spoken to this friend of mine in a long time. He still works there. Many changes have taken place since I left. I have found out that Ex-Manager/Friend and Ex-Supervisor had "been removed" perhaps due to performance issues and one has failed miserably (Ex-Supervisor) in a new position. I have also found out that the company has lost the contract where we all worked and will probably never get it back--it was worth a lot of money. I have also found out that over the years, several other people have deluged them with other wrongful dismissal claims.

I wonder how they made out?

Call me a bitch but I am still bitter to the core about this. I was treated horribly and the things I was asked to do, the way I was made to "behave" after I came back to work at this job--it was sickening. I was trying at the time to figure a way to get out but apparently that decision was made for my by a bunch of ignorant, discriminatory, unfeeling assholes.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

And Speaking Of Impulsiveness And Decision Making...

I was drooling over MacBooks while bored at work today. I have taken to sitting up at night working on my obsolete PowerBook where equally obsolete pieces of writing reside. Well, some of the pieces are still useful, I have found. Also slightly out of date but useful is some of the software on the machine.

I mentioned this to my partner when I came home and she simply said:

"Well, you can afford it. Buy it!"

Perhaps not the sort of encouragement I need?!

Now the first order of business would be the ability to transfer my entire iTunes library from PC to Mac. I believe this can be done? And then presumably, my current iPod should work? I believe at time of purchase, when you specify for Mac or PC the only reason is for the software. Otherwise, the unit is the same?

Forgive me for I art technologically dumb.

I hate the PC we have at home. It's a Dell which should be reputable but it has been buggy since it was first purchased.

So what do you think, everyone? Should I get a MacBook?

To Assume Or Presume, That Is The Question?

These words are used almost interchangeably in every day parlance but there is a subtle difference.

To assume is to take for granted, as proof, with or without having the facts; to presume is to do the same on the basis of probability or belief--perhaps even based upon future revelation of fact. To look at the Latin prefixes, a- means without and pre- means before.

I tend to assume a lot. Well, sometimes? Alright, hard to measure but I try not to. However, I find myself doing it, even if I don't like to admit it.

So many times I find there are so many unknowns and I am constantly grasping at straws, reaching for answers. I've always believed that I was a patient person and I do believe that I can be but some people have proven me completely wrong in this respect. Of course, I haven't liked it. How often do we like to be proven wrong about ourselves?

I can also be incredibly impulsive and yet at other times, I can labour over a decision that seems like an eternity that most people would make in a split second. Very simple decisions!

I used to have such a "clear vision" of myself. Was that the hypomanic, energetic, frenzied version of PA who never doubted anything? And if she made any "assumptions" then, was she right, was she wrong? Was she so absolutely filled to the brim with confidence that it didn't matter?

Now having grappled with the diagnosis of Bipolar for many years (and for a few less years ADD) things are more complicated. Unpredictable mood swings, impaired judgment, medication rollercoasters and living in a constant state of flux can set you up for a permanent state of readiness for "assumption."

Also, when you are a trauma survivor and you have little to no memory of your abuse you are practically born to assume. You have no one to ask so many questions to! Really important ones! Well, you can but they are not always the right people. The people that I need to talk to, the people that hold the keys to all the secrets are not accessible to me.

This leaves the mind to wander...and unfortunately to assume. I try not to let all of the above pervade my life too much in allowing my thoughts overwhelm me but I know that I am only human with a very overactive brain. I need to accept that as well.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Least Favourite Work Task?

Oh crap. I have been asked to put together some sort of "social function" for work. I am not good at this. I positively loathe "event planning." I am the furthest thing from a social convenor imaginable! My decision making skills fluctuate obscenely but in this area they are virtually non-existent. Ugh.

The majority of times I don't even like to attend social functions (work or otherwise but especially work) but can and will when necessary. Depending upon how things move along, I may even (eventually?) enjoy myself but it really depends on a lot of factors.

This is going to be ugly (probably not so much the attending, just the preparation.) And I don't think I have a lot of time. Shit.

Some People Are Just Mean?

Some symptoms you can alleviate and some you just can't?

I've met a lot of mean people in my life and well, I don't think their stripes will ever change.

Edit: There was a hyperlink here but the NYT archived the article. So for those of you that do not have online access to read said archived articles, here is the story:

Further Edit: You know, contrary to popular opinion(?) PA does have a conscience and you know, I just can't bring myself to post the damned copyrighted article!

So I will give you a choice. You may either link to the NYT and just type in your personal info to access it (it's free, no biggie) here. If it doesn't take you directly to the article it is called "About That Mean Streak of Yours: Psychiatry Can Only Do So Much"

Conversely, someone else on their blog has posted it so if you wish to engage in illegal copyright perusal, you may read it here. They apparently have more chutzpah than I do.

This post has obviously been more stress inducing than intended for me. Maybe time for a yet another blogging break?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad...And The Slightly Out Of Control? - Part I

When I had a psych consult earlier this week, one of the questions posed to me was, have my previous hospitalizations been helpful to me. On balance, I would say yes. I do advocate hospitalization whenever you are in crisis, absolute dire straits, suicidal or in danger of hurting yourself or anyone else.

I've been thinking of how to write about my hospitalization experiences for a long time now. I've had five, in total. I've thought over and over how to make it all cohesive and coherent but I'm not sure if I can. That might be okay as when you're inpatient, you may not be all that cohesive and coherent yourself.

So I think I'll just give it a go. Be forewarned, this will be long and will contain some rather...how can I describe it...intimate, graphic, ludicrous detail? However, this blog being what it is it should not surprise you.

Hospitalization #5: Cutting - Medically Helpful Yes, Psychiatrically Helpful No

I had self harmed for the second time and required stitches. I knew that this would result in me needing to be admitted to the psychiatric ward but there was no way around it. The cut was bad. And really, I was in pretty rough shape. In retrospect, I think I had been cycling all over the place and had pretty much reached a peak. I knew the drill since this was number five. I packed a bag with all of my essentials, called a cab and off I went.

Now I had not been hospitalized in several years. My how things had changed! I was stitched up in the ER by a decent enough doctor who was certainly not unsympathetic. She wasn't overly kind but at least she didn't treat me in any negative way. I was seen by the Head of Psychiatry early in the morning and he actually remembered me from previous stays. This was kind of impressive but I really didn't care. I just wanted to get out of the ER.

So there began my stay. I wasn't sure how long I would stay but it quickly became evident that it would be the minimum 72 hours. The nurses were locked behind some kind of fishbowl and were completely inattentive or rude. And I don't say this with any ill-tempered patient judgment. I love nurses! I wanted to be one! It is just plain fact. No one could get any sort of help if they needed it. You couldn't even ask a simple question. You were routinely ignored. This was not the psych wards of days gone past!

So I actually took it upon myself to assist patients in need. Oh it was sad. One poor soul couldn't even cut her food she was so distraught! She asked me to and I thought, well shit, half the time everyone's so damn depressed they don't want to eat, the least I can do is help the poor woman out!

I met a young-ish (slightly younger than me) man with Schizophrenia and we seemed to get along. He was terribly awkward and shy but he was somehow drawn to me and eventually we began to dialogue a bit. So one evening, we went and talked in my room (after I had stolen a bunch of scientific-type magazines to try and read from "the lounge.") We were promptly interruped by a nurse who told us that men and women weren't allowed in each others' rooms! What the...? We were just talking. What on earth did they think we were going to start doing? We departed to the "the lounge" where they told us we had to go but with everyone else congregating there and banging and clattering, he withdrew and no longer wanted to talk. Very helpful.

They did try to "stimulate" us with crafts and some type of art therapy. I was so bored out of my skull I thought I'd give it a try. And I was curious. I'd never done this while hospitalized as it was simply never offered. Well the crafts were a bloody joke. Something about making things called "happy boxes" or something with ridiculous cartoon quotes inside. I turned mine into something that looked like an acid trip/horror movie prop. I don't think the group leader was amused.

The art therapy was kind of interesting, however. We were asked to draw "how we felt at that moment." Then, if we could we were to try and explain the drawing to the class. Oh dear. I'm the sort of person that can't really draw a straight line with a ruler. Most people drew stick figures representing themselves. Not me. I came up with something that was actually kind of impressive. In a freakish sort of way. Rather abstract and morbid. I don't know if I impressed everyone or shocked them or a bit of both.

Anyway, after running around doing a whole lot of nothing, I decided to leave. My psychiatrist there was not willing to discuss any treatment options other than what he had already decided in his mind so I was out of there as soon as I could discharge myself.

Postscript: In reviewing this, I've decided that I will post each hospitalization separately as otherwise, this entire piece is going to be way too long for everyone to read.


My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? - Part II

Hospitalization #4 Overdose - Medically Helpful Absolutely, Psychiatrically Helpful Somewhat

I suffered my second and worst overdose and the last thing I remembered was opening the door for the paramedics. The next thing I remembered was waking up in the ER hooked up to several pieces of equipment many hours later. This obviously necessitated a psychiatric stay.

When a bed was ready for me, I was wheeled up to the ward and there I lay in that bed for several days. I did not eat much. I just lied there, thinking of what I had done. No one visited me. I don't remember any of the patients. I don't remember any of the nurses. It was like they were all ghosts.

At the end of my 72 hour hold, my psychiatrist asked me if I was still suicidal. I answered him directly that yes, of course I was. I always would be. That is what it is like to have Bipolar Disorder. It is just something that I would need to learn to live with and to manage.

He asked me if I wanted to go home. I told him yes and was discharged.


My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? - Part III

Hospitalization #3 Voluntary Walk In - Medically Helpful N/A, Psychiatrically Helpful Definitely

I had a friend (from hospitalization #1...wait for it...) actually drive me to the hospital (and take care of my now deceased cat and apartment) as I felt that I was starting to lose it. I waltzed right in to the ER and stated something to the effect that my meds weren't working and that I needed help. I was told that "they were full" and there was nothing they could do. I didn't relish doing this but it was time to pull out the "crazy card." Apparently my "cry for help" wasn't loud enough.

I started crying, not really yelling but basically anything I could do to get their attention and indicate that I needed help. It worked and I was sent in an ambulance to another hospital. I was actually quite angry that I had to go to such lengths but it was worth it.

Catching yourself before you actually go into crisis, I find, is extremely rare. I don't know how I managed to do it but I somehow did. I've certainly never been able to do it again.

This hospital stay was the most relaxing ever. The ward was quiet, I just stayed in bed and it was almost like being on holiday! Since I was not suicidal I didn't have any ward restrictions, I could go outside for walks if I wanted, it was spring so the weather was nice so I did indeed go out for brief spells and sit in the sun.

After a week, I felt much better able to cope with everything.

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? - Part IV

Hospitalization #2 Cutting - Medically Helpful Absolutely, Psychiatrically Helpful Toss Up

This cutting was very bad. It required surgery as I severed 3/4 or my median nerve in my wrist. All of the doctors were amazed that I did not hit any major arteries or veins. As a result, I was placed on a surgical ward and not on a psych ward. I did have a volunteer "minder" to watch me. I guess I must have been placed on some sort of "suicide watch?" I don't really know as I was so completely out of my mind on either Morphine, Demerol or both I didn't care. I do recall once that I did get up to use the bathroom and he started to follow me.

"Do you mind?"

"I'm supposed to keep an eye on you?"

"I have to go to the bathroom. Are you required to watch that too?"

Minder returned to his seat and awaited my return from the bathroom. Which was forthcoming and since I am still here he did a fine job of keeping me from killing myself.

This was a strange stay. I don't even recall speaking to a psychiatrist and I was never moved to a psych floor after the surgery was done and I had a few days of recovery time. Again, I was simply given the option to go home. Maybe a psychiatrist came to speak to me when I was all pumped up on the pain meds and I don't remember! HA! If so, I wonder what on earth I said! I do remember trying to talk on them and oh...I was making absolutely no sense at all. They just kept shooting me up and then gave me a self-administered unit... I don't even know if I needed that much medication but I wasn't going to say no to it. Not in that state of mind.

Probably the best part of that stay? The nurses! The nurses on that surgical floor were just the best. So kind and thoughtful. Always checking in on me and actually talking to me. They really made the stay so much better.

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? - Part V

Hospitalization #1 Overdose - Medically Helpful Yes, Psychiatrically Helpful Yes

Well, we've reached the long end of the road folks but hang on to your hats. This ride gets a little bumpy. This overdose wasn't as bad as my second but it was significant enough. I did not lose consciousness but I did become very sick. Activated charcoal was used and that seemed to do the trick. But I had taken the pills dry (i.e. with no liquids--I had been driving) and developed a nasty case of thrush. And of course I would need to be admitted to the psych floor.

I was so scared. I had never been admitted to a psychiatric part of a hospital before. What would await me? But I was so sick and tired and completely a wreck that part of me just abandoned myself to the idea of whatever fate awaited me.

I was there for two weeks. For the first three days I was kept in a state of "detox" and literally did not move from my bed. Except perhaps to get up and go to the bathroom I just laid there and slept. I did have a few visitors but apart from that, they would bring my food, I would let it sit. I just laid in a ball.

The ward was noisy and large. This was a big hospital. I would try to shut the door but I was sharing the room with two other women. It was impossible to get any rest, any peace.

Finally on day three, the nurse stopped bringing me food. She told me that if I wanted to eat, I would need to come to the dining room like everyone else. Nice ploy. Trying to get me out of bed, are you? I wasn't all that hungry, maybe a little bit but I was thirsty and I wanted my juice! I waited until everyone had finished eating and it was quiet and I snuck into the dining area. A few people still remained. I grabbed my tray and picked at my food, drank my liquids. A fellow patient asked if she could have my dessert. I gave it to her. A loud voice called over:

"Hey, we won't bite, you know!"

I big smiling face looked at me. I tried to avoid eye contact. He laughed. "It's okay. Really."

And so began my "adventures" at this particular facility.

I spoke to this man as I continued to pick at my food. He was nice and made me feel more at ease. As a couple of days passed, I felt more confident and began leaving my room. I would always be met by him and he started introducing me to other patients. Pretty soon, we had a whole motley crew of us wreaking havoc.

We ranged in ages from teen years up to about mid-thirties and we all really got along. The man who I first met was kind of our "ringleader" and the one who liked to sort of act as a pseudo-father figure to anyone who needed one. I certainly didn't but I allowed him to assume a "protector" role regarding me if it made him feel better.

Some of the things we did? We snuck beer into the hospital and a few of us got drunk. Some of us had off ward privileges so we could smoke in an indoor smoking area but otherwise, you had to go outside. Well, it was the dead of winter so a lot of the time, we'd just smoke in the stairwells. As for others? I'm not really sure but there were a few fights on the ward. Mostly verbal altercations. As for me? Well, a few friends came and took me out for dinner and I got drunk and came back and fell asleep in "ringleader's" bed with him. It was innocent, we were just talking and I passed out! This next part...well, this was not so "innocent."

I became romantically involved with another patient during my stay at this hospital. We also saw each other briefly when we were discharged as outpatients but the relationship did not last. I didn't want to do it though! In fact, I fought it from the get go but this woman really got to me and being completely unstable...well, what can I say? Except: I do not recommend trolling for dates in a psych ward.

There was other zaniness. One "regular" to this ward was growing pot (and smoking it) in "the lounge." He also--and I have no idea how he did this--stole unbelievable amounts of medical/surgical supplies from the hospital and hid them in his room! How he managed to get off the ward and do this unnoticed is unfathomable! Another cute thing he did was run around and steal afghans for all of the women on the floor because it was winter and he didn't want us all to be cold. Once caught, we had them all taken away as they were made by some women's auxilliary or something. And yes, stealing is bad.

What's the phrase? The lunatics are running the asylum?

Ah yes...and another: Never as good as the first time.