Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hiatus

I may not be posting for a while. But knowing my tendency to be a blogaholic, well, that may change. I really do not know at this point.

But if you don't see me writing anything, I just wanted to post this as my previous entry was a little heavy and I didn't want people to think that I'd gone and offed myself.

I am up for the next installment of The Wolfden Bar and Grill, however, so that will be posted on Friday. I am not one to shirk my responsibilities.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Thinking About Cutting

I've been thinking about cutting recently. Not really ruminating about it but it's been on my mind. I'll drift off, find myself staring into space and thoughts will meander to fantasies of reaching for some sharp implement--my preferences are for knives. Not at all good when someone in the house is a trained chef? We have far too many and one night, PA got a little out of hand and ripped the drawer right off the the cupboard grabbing at all of them.

Anyway, don't reach for the panic button or start calling Emergency Services. I'm okay. I just wanted to talk a bit about how this now seems to be(coming?) a more fundamental part of my Bipolar identity whereas before, I felt that suicidal ideation seemed to be more of the component that I might need to do battle with on a semi-regular basis.

When I first posted about cutting I questioned my status as a "reformed" cutter since I had only cut twice in my life. I have spoken with other cutters who self-harmed on regular bases and at times, since I did not, I felt like I didn't know what to say. I couldn't quite grasp the concept as I had not practised self-harm in the same way. I did not think that I was being biased within my own community, that is not me at all! Perhaps because I felt that I never would be able to be capable of cutting outside of my previous patterns, I couldn't identify with these other souls. I now feel differently. I now feel that I am capable.

Prior to this, suicide attempts and suicidal ideation were "my worst enemies." Once after a 72 hour hold in a psych ward I was asked if I wanted to go home after a suicide attempt--my worst. I did. The psychiatrist asked me if I was still suicidal. I told him that, yes, in fact I was but with a caveat. I explained to him that I would be suicidal all of my life. It was just something that I would have to learn how to deal with. I wasn't diagnosed Bipolar at the time or erudite enough (at that moment as I was still extremely depressed) to explain the complexities of dealing with the throes, the ups and downs, but I think he understood. Since I seemed to pose no danger to myself and they really couldn't keep me there any longer, I was free to go.

I don't know what keeps me from not cutting or trying to kill myself. Good supports, meds? Remembering some very key elements and conversations from the past and what I've been through? But the battle still ensues at times. Even though I would by relative, psychiatric terms be deemed "stable."

I know that there are very few things that you can control in life. One, your words and two, your actions? Not always can you control your thoughts. But that's okay. Sometimes you need to think about things to try and gain some clarity, even if they are not always so pleasant or are sometimes painful.

Monday, January 29, 2007

What's Your Specialty

I found this over at MedStudentGod's blog via Vijay's blog.

Surprise, surprise for me:

The medical specialty for you is.... Psychiatry

Psychiatry is the best of all specialties. As a psychiatrist, people may claim that you went into the field because you yourself are crazy. But only you know the truth, which is that you are crazy. Enjoy the ride.

To find out what specialty best fits your unique personality, go to:

What Medical Specialty Is For You?

Blindsided While Making Tea

Okay, this is my day of making short meaningless posts. While making my morning (aka go forth and be functional) tea, I was asked, "Who do like for the Superbowl this year PA?"

*stares vacantly*

PA knows at least something about many things in the world and well, she "gets" North American "football" but truth be told, she's much more a fan of European "football" or "soccer." In fact, she used to hang out at a Manchester United pub! Hey, it was a fun place!

PA: "Well, really, I haven't been following "football" at all this year. Who's playing?"

Man: "Chicago and Indianapolis"

PA: "Oh, the Bears and the Colts." (at least PA knew the teams...)

PA thought for a moment.

PA: "Well, my money's on the Colts."

Man: "I think you're right. They're a much better team and I think Chicago needs the colder weather to slow down other teams to get the advantage."

Oh dear, where's my tea.

I Love My Sister!

Honestly, I really don't know who's funnier, her or me. We make a great team. We don't talk often but thankfully there is email. She also has the url for this blog but I don't know if she reads it. Well, if you do, Sis', you're absolutely the best! Thank you for keeping me SANE (relatively?) even though I know we wonder so often whether we both are ourselves.

She's my only sibling and the only person in my family that I can talk to.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

God I Needed That...

Had to go to partner's mother's for dinner. It's not quite as traumatic as visiting my mother. Apart from other things, what is key to mention at this moment in time is she always has relatively good wine.

After a couple of good glasses (goblets?) Patient Anonymous became suitably relaxed. I haven't had a drink since New Year's Eve.

Patient Anonymous tries not to drink--it messes her up and her partner does not like it. Not that her partner is "the alcohol police" but Patient Anonymous' drinking has led to some...arguments. Partner does not drink. Rarely, if ever.

Not that Patient Anonymous has done anything bad while drinking. But for some reason, it's a sore spot. Patient Anonymous actually thinks she's quite fun when she's had a few...or a quite a few. Perhaps that's the problem.

No matter. Tonight, some decent red was exactly what was needed.

When stated to partner, partner said: "Needed?"

Patient Anonymous jokingly retorted (ah, the English language...) "You know I've been stressed out...and Hypnotics don't work like the Benzos used to!" (i.e. I'm off benzos now.)

Note to all readers/Public Service Announcement: This post is purely for amusement purposes only. Do not seek substances (i.e. alcohol and/or drugs) for dealing with psychiatric problems or crises. Self-medication is not a solution. I should know.

*grin*

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I Don't Get People

Something has happened that has, yet again, astigmatized my view of my/the world. I am a very reliable person. If you need me, I am there. If I can not be there for you, then I will do my utmost to explain and offer you reason/s why not. But it is very rare that I am not there for people.

Partner says that most people in the world are not reliable. But what about your friends?

Perhaps I need to lower my expectations. But I didn't think they were that high to begin with?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Partner's Medical "Lecture" This Morning

So partner didn't have to go to work until later this morning. That provided me with a ride to my public transit stop which is nice as we've rather inconveniently hit a "cold snap" and it's bloody freezing here. I know, it's Canada, I've lived here all my life, this should be nothing new, why bother complaining.

Anyway, as I'm getting dressed and pulling on my jeans, she says to me, "You've lost weight." I say in response, "Oh...?" She had said the same thing while looking at my face last night. Same response: "Oh...?"

Now Patient Anonymous is a little daft, flaky, deranged, nutty--I'm sure you all know this by now. She can also be rather unobservant when it comes to all matter of things, up to and including herself. However, I too have been wondering if I have lost more weight as my pants seem to be fitting more loosely and I can tighten my belt yet another notch. Not that I am--it gathers the fabric of the waist and that makes wearing the pants ridiculously uncomfortable. I'd rather let them just hang off my hips a bit.

We have no scales in the house, nor any measuring tapes (well, except for metal ones for furniture, walls etc... so that won't do.)

My partner wants me to start calling my family practitioner and my gastroenterologist right now but I will be seeing my gastro in app. two weeks. He is a specialist so there is little chance of him being able to push me forward in his schedule. My family practitioner can probably not do much since she referred me to the gastro in the first place. I told her I would "think about" calling but I really see no point.

The daily, morning Upper GI pain persists but that is nothing new. A lovely way to wake up. The Nexium/Esomeprazole seems to stave that off although obviously not permanently and/or completely. Lower GI is disastrous at the moment. Food is barely tolerable.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Peut-être Les Quebecois ne Prendront pas L'offense...?

I had to work on that one a bit (with the aid of an online translation tool.) My French is not what it used to be. I studied it for six years when I was younger but if you don't use it--you lose it.

What that should say is: Perhaps the Quebecois will not take offence?

I was catching up on some reading and found an article that amused me somewhat. I say "fuck" a lot on this blog. Now to be fair, I warned everyone in my first post. In the article I read, apparently, "copulate" coupled with it's partner "off" is not really such a big deal in French-speaking Canada. Hmmm.

According to the article, it's actually used quite frequently on shows that run on Radio-Canada owned by the CBC. Now the CRTC has all sorts of guidelines, mandates and even a complaints process but I find it completely impotent in all areas. I don't think anyone gives a "fuck" at the CRTC either, be it in Quebec or in English speaking Canada because you will hear that word on English speaking channels as well. Canadian, American, if you have cable over here you can get some BBC. If you get some wild and crazy satellite operation set up who knows what else you might receive!

Now in Quebec, apparently my completely inappropriate term of language might sound like the word for seal ("phoque.") I actually didn't like this part of the article. It made me think that my Francophone friends sounded dumb? So while all the ranting and raving and swearing is going on during the Radio-Canada broadcasts, people are thinking that they're calling each other seals? Sorry, I'm picking at journalistic integrity again.

In Quebec, it seems a lot of swearing is done to curse the Roman Catholic church such as "Tabernac!" This is alluding to "Tabernacle" where the Eucharist is held. It's a very bad word. There are others but I won't bother to list them. You can get the point--the distinction of how different groups of people determine what is profane, culturally.

I've always loved words. Not just profane ones, that's very limiting. One of my most embarrassing moments occurred during Kindergarden when the teacher had to leave the room during "story time." She asked me if I could continue for the class. A lot of the other kids snickered (i.e. they didn't believe I could do it), some glared ("teacher's pet!") and some just stared kind of dumbfounded. I stepped to the front of the class and tried to hold the book open with my tiny hand, just as the teacher did, so that everyone could see the pictures as I read aloud. The book kept falling but there I sat and recited to the class, completely mortified. I had been reading since about the age of three? I can't remember but around that age--by four for sure.

I took a course in Linguistics in my first year of university and it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. It was an introductory course so we only covered certain aspects of the discipline. We looked at Phonetics and transcription (that was like taking words and dismantling them into hieroglyphics!) We also delved into Articulatory Phonetics a subfield of the former. This was a little funny. You get to learn all sorts of terms like "fricative," "obstruent," "trill" and "stop." Well, perhaps that last one isn't so fascinating. The articulations are all over your oral anatomy--well, not all of them in English. That was also rather interesting too. Many different languages make sounds that we, well, not that we can not make but it is very hard to do as we tried to attempt in class! We all failed. Also covered was some Phonology and some Morphology.

If you've bothered to have a look at any of those links, you will see that it's a lot more than just "sitting around and talking about words!" I didn't do as well as I thought I would. Alas.

Police or Paramedics: Who Are Better In Dealing With Psychiatric Crises?

While coming home in the car a while ago, I witnessed a scene outside a shop where two paramedics were painstakingly dealing with a man who was obviously mentally distressed. I only caught a brief glimpse of it all but it took me back to some experiences, some thoughts and discussions I have had with other people who have a veritable cornucopia of disorders. The paramedics were pleading with the man to get in to the ambulance repeatedly or else they would need to call the police.

Now I am not prone to generalizations and am always willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt but in answer to the question above: Paramedics, absolutely.

In various times of crisis, hospitalization etc..., I have dealt with both individuals in these professions. I have met some decent coppers but at best, they have just done what was needed (save one man) without a modicum of care. The paramedics, on the other hand, have always been the most caring and least judgmental of persons and have always taken such good care of me. Some have even had great senses of humour too.

My most terrrifying experience with the police happened one night after speaking long distance to a friend of mine. I was rather down and had been drinking (or course) and was merely venting. Or so I had thought? My friend had apparently become quite concerned and called 911. As I was getting ready to pad off to bed, there was a knock at the door. I had no idea who it could be; it was quite late (or early...perhaps 0100hrs?) I answered the door and there stood five (yes five) police officers.

Alright. I'm not exactly up on police protocol but I don't think they send that many officers to a domestic disturbance call. And I've never worked as a 911 dispatch operator either but I would assume that they would have asked some pertinent questions like if I was alone in the house?

They asked if they could come in. I was completely stunned. What do you say with five police officers standing in front of you, "No?" So I invited them in and they told me that they had received a call from "a friend" and that I "might be suicidal." I told them that I was not and that I was just getting ready to go to bed. They told me that I would have to come with them to the hospital. I looked at one of the officers who was casually sifting through my mail and some of my writing. I became agitated. I told him to put all of those things down and that he had no right to look at them! I again insisted that I was fine and I needed to go to bed as I had to go to work in the morning! I didn't need to go to the hospital! I told them that this was just a misunderstanding!

At this point, they became increasingly more forceful in their demands and I became more agitated and not combatitive but certainly argumentative. A female officer stepped right up to me, almost into me and threatened me with arrest if I didn't go with them. That was it. No matter how hard I tried to convince them, I couldn't compete with that.

They physically grabbed me by the arm and I told them to let me go as I wanted to put my shoes on. They told me there was no time for that so I ended up leaving the house with one bloody shoe on. Fantastic. They threw me into the back of one of the cruisers (they all still had their lights flashing!) and off we went.

My poor landlords. They were a great couple and didn't even know what to do. They just hid upstairs--I had some serious apologizing to do later.

So we get to the hospital and I am fuming. I had been an inpatient there before and was seeing a psychiatrist there. I explained rather loudly to anyone who would listen how grand a mistake that this was and that I positively needed to get back home to get at least some sleep in order to get to work. My job really depended on it at the time! I could not afford to miss work! I even demanded that they call my psychiatrist at home, wake him up and he would deem me fine. I'm surprised after all the fuss I made they actually didn't hospitalize me. But knowing the hospital as well as I did and knowing I didn't need to be hospitalized I managed to get out of there as the sun was beginning to come up.

By that time, four of the officers had left and one stayed behind to wait with me. He drove me home. I gave him a little piece of my mind on they way and told him that police officers should treat people under such circumstances with a little more decency and respect. I don't know if it made an impact as he simply told me, "We're just doing our job."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Bound" And Less Determined

I had no idea how to title this and I am still not sure how to write this without it descending into some sort of lurid expose into Patient Anonymous' past experiences and dalliances. That is not what this is about. But I need to put how I made an interesting self-observation into context so that will necessitate some self-revelation. And really, if you've been following this blog at all--nothing should surprise you anymore. We're all adults here. If this shocks you or you find it "titillating," get your head out of your ass.

I have worn one of these. Several times. But not in a psychiatric setting. Many years ago, I did a tour of the BDSM/fetish scene. And yes, the Bipolar was in full swing (undiagnosed, untreated.) This is no "value judgement" on "the scene" or myself if you will, it is simply the point where I was in my life.

I was introduced to all of this by a friend who was involved and asked me to go to a BDSM safe practices session put on by a local advocacy group. I found it rather amusing that she thought I might be "interested." Sure, why not? So I attended with her and her male partner.

Interesting, indeed! Wow, they pulled out all the stops! There was so much to look at! Some items seemed as if pulled out of some kind of medieval torture chamber and others just looked kind of neat and fun! At a certain point, the session leaders asked for volunteers to put on some type of bondage gear and then share their experiences with the group later on. Oh, I was excited! Pick me! The offer for the straightjackets came up and several arms shot up in the air. I was selected. Now the cardinal rule of S&M is "Safe, Sane and Consensual." So if at any time, anyone became uncomfortable, or agitated in their "restraints" they were to notify someone immediately and they would be taken care of.

Oh my. What a strange feeling. I had never had my body placed in such a position. At first, it was incredibly awkward but I realized that if I didn't fight it, if I just relaxed into it... All of the sudden, something rather strange began to happen to me. I felt comforted like I couldn't believe! I sat in that straightjacket for hours! I honestly don't remember how long it was but it was most of the afternoon of the full day session. I didn't want to take it off!

I later met a man who owned two straightjackets (who also coincidentally was diagnosed with MDD and ADD.) We are still friends to this day. He also designed bondage gear. We both found it incredibly calming and soothing and would occasionally get together (outside of the public scene where we did this as well) and basically tie each other up in our homes for comfort! Other elements of sensory deprivation could/would/might be employed.

When things got really, really rough for me and I couldn't sleep, I would occasionally employ self-restraint techniques in order to somehow try and calm myself down. My friend even offered me one of his straightjackets but I never got the knack of getting in/out of one solo (Houdini, I am not.) I managed with some personal and self-styled gear.

Think this all sounds a little bizarre? Temple Grandin (along with my friend) may not agree. If you do not know her, she is Autistic and has done some work (but not limited to) The Calming Effects of Deep Touch Pressure. Now, I am not on the Autistic Spectrum and despite how many similarities I may think I have with my friends' Autistic son, I don't believe I would fit the diagnostic criteria. Asperger's might be the closest I could come and even that would be a stretch. But it is interesting to see the similarities with the ADD children. And I do and always have had some other "sensory" issues. Probably not enough to again, meet the criteria for Sensory Integration Disorder but still, it makes me think!

I've always loved being loaded down with extra blankets on top of the duvet or I'll even throw all my partially worn clothes on my side of the bed, just to have that "added weight." I've always loved the feel of restrictive clothes (tights, leggings, bodysuits etc...--not "nylons" or "pantyhose" though--the fabric needs to be heavier!) I've been like this since I was a kid!

And no, you don't need to go as far as Temple's "Squeeze Machine" if that sort of freaks you out. It does look a little scary. A lot of Occupational Therapists advocate the use of weighted vests or blankets with kids that are Autistic, ADD, PDD or have SID. The affects of these have not really been studied (and neither has Grandin's machine) but I did manage to find this.

Perhaps I've managed to trade some of it in for "chemical" restraints now? And no, I don't want to bring up the whole debate about restraint usage in hospitals/institutions. That's not what this post is about either.

And if any of you out there are giggling away, stop it right now. If anyone actually has any serious questions pertaining to BDSM, contact me privately and I may or may not answer them--depending upon if you cross any boundaries or if you are completely inappropriate.

Edit March 09 2007: Aspergers has now entered the picture in terms of my psychological/neurological profile. I am still awaiting "confirmation" or at least an opinion from two separate psychiatrists.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Oh I'm Killing Myself...This May Be Somewhat Disturbing

Absolute of paroxysmal laughter at my desk. Courtesy of a friend as warped as me:

Mom Spanked The Gay Out Of Me

Good Fucking God...

So staring mournfully at my bookshelves last night, I decided that I would attempt to read something in preparation for King Lear. Perhaps some poetry. It's short.

I don't have a lot of literature. Most of it was sold when I needed the money at a certain point in my life. However, I do have loads of books that I've bought over the years that I just haven't gotten around to reading. I plucked a volume of selected T.S. Eliot poems off the shelf. A gift from some friends during my first psych hospitalization. I never even bothered to look at it.

I'm not a real literary genius. And I don't think I'm a huge Eliot fan. But this is what I read first.

Now this poem has been analyzed to death. But when I read it, it hit my like a bullet. That's the "fun" of interpretation! I think I need to remove myself from all stimuli now and place myself in a sensory deprivation tank for an indeterminate period of time.

And yes, some translation. The beginning is from Dante's inferno (how appropriate that?) and reads:

"If I thought my answer were given
to anyone who would ever return to the world,
this flame would stand still without moving any further.
But since never from this abyss
has anyone ever returned alive, if what I hear is true,
without fear of infamy I answer you."
And now without further adieu, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot:

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo
Questa fiamma staria sensa piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero
Sensa tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .
Oh, do not ask, ‘What is it?’
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, ‘Do I dare?’ and, ‘Do I dare?’
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: ‘How his hair is growing thin!’]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: ‘But how his arms and legs are thin!’]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

. . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? . . .

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

. . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep . . . tired . . . or it malingers
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: ‘I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all’—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: ‘That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.’

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
‘That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant at all.’

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I Lied, I Did Do Something

Well, after a brief nap on the couch, partner wanted to go see a movie on the big screen so we went to go see "Notes on a Scandal." I finally managed to drag my wretched body up and out of the house.

Nothing like a nice, light flick to take your mind off things? Actually, Patient Anonymous prefers, darker subject matter anyway. The more troubling, the better. Not that comedy isn't good--I love a good laugh--but there's a lot of really dumb stuff out there. Documentaries are also high on the list. Granted, I'm not a "film snob." I'll watch anything. My partner's tastes can be so far off from mine! And not just in film but music as well! We are so different sometimes it amazes me how we're even together! But as she has said before, "It's our differences that make us interesting."

Anyway, back to the movie. If you don't know what it's about, basically, Judi Dench is a history teacher in a London school. She's been there (from what we gather, forever.) Cate Blanchett arrives as the ravishing (this is actually important) new art teacher. Now if you don't have a hole in your head from the outset, you can figure out that Judi Dench is actually a lesbian and she falls rather deeply for our dear Cate. This doesn't seem too hard to imagine? HA!

But that's not the scandalous part. Oh, no! Cate's character actually has an affair with one of her 15 year-old students. Judi witnesses this and well, their relationship gets rather complicated from there (as if it wasn't already) and all hell (typically) breaks loose.

It was actually quite good. I'm tempted to say "for a mainstream film" but that will make me sound like a film snob!

I really felt for the female characters. The story tells a tale of intimacy, passion, drives, loneliness, the need to be loved and feel alive and worthy. I could identify with the women, even if they had lost their moral compasses and at times seemed a bit off balance (been there?!)

I knew the story before going to see it. I read somewhere that it might not be palatable for "the wider audience" due to its content. I couldn't for the life of me understand what on earth that meant? I mean, yes, it's rather taboo for a teacher to sleep with a student but come on! It's actually happened! It's not like the movie is for the first time bringing it to the public's attention! And believe me, the public (at least here) doesn't seem to have any problem with it. The film's been out for a long time and for a matinée on a Sunday it was packed. So either Canadians are pretty open minded (well, actually a lot of us are...) or that writer was clearly not?

Anyway, time to go back to lying down.

Fuck It All To Hell Day

Today is has officially been deemed "Fuck It All To Hell Day."

No work/chores will be done (although they sadly need to be.)

No blogging should be done (but I suck and am an addict.)

Only the vacant staring at any movies or anime that may hold my attention (or may be sleep inducing) shall be permitted.

Perhaps the crossword and cryptoquote from the paper will be attempted if my IQ suddenly and miraculously rises above 25.

Is this what it feels like to be dead?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Well, That Wasn't Altogether Sheer Torture...

I have just returned from visiting Mommie Dearest. Yes, I am sick and twisted but so was my upbringing so I feel I am entitled to that. In fact, sick and twisted humour was the only thing that managed to keep my partner and I (relatively) sane throughout the entire evening. During one private moment, I whipped my Zippo out of my pocket and mocked self-immolation. My partner's a good egg. She even laughed as I quickly dashed to the computer the minute we got home as I signed on to start blogging.

In some fairness to my mother, she was actually more well-behaved than the last time I had seen her. We talked about quite a lot. My mother is a real motormouth and truthfully, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I can become quite engaged and really get going and in some cases probably annoy the hell out of a lot of people? I'm not sure. I'm too animated to tell and my own preoccupation with the subject matter I'm talking about supercedes my social skills.

Anyway, it was still a painful evening--and I don't mean in an emotionally sad way. I mean, rather, exhaustively, frustratingly and maddeningly.

As always, it's good to have a third party to observe. My poor partner, subjected to all of this. She's pretty astute at picking up social behaviours and just sitting back and watching people interact, tuning in to what might be motivating factors. And she knows key details of the family history etc... When we went outside for a smoke after dinner, we were trying to find out if I was being "antagonistic," "combative" or downright "looking for a fight." We finally decided that it was "none of the above."

My therapist says that I am "learning to find my voice." I have sat passive and mute for basically my entire life (up until now?) I am learning to "use my voice" but it's difficult. At times I still revert to wanting to just sit there and take it (or tune out) but not tonight.

For example, my mother is obsessed with The Blood Type Diet. No, I will not link to it as it is junk science and I fucking hate it. I'm sorry if you are reading this and you are a follower of this type of "thing" but I completely disagree with it. Anyway, Mom wanted to be a nurse so I feel I can slip into "amateur medico-scientist" mode and we had at it. She's actually extremely smart in a somewhat mentally ill, demented sort of way. Granted, she let me have my say and it was basically me just countering everything she said but it wasn't only that issue. There were more. Lots of them. A couple of times she slipped into one of her more "dissociative" states. She does not have DID and I don't mean a dissociative state or fugue in the classical sense. It's merely a diversion technique that she uses when she doesn't want to talk or deal with something anymore. It's very challenging to deal with. It's also very sad and possibly(?) the result of her own trauma but I can't focus on that. I've parented her ever since I was a child and if I slip back into that mode of thinking I'm doomed for sure.

Next, her husband. He is so absolutely annoying. I guess the worst of it is his continual sexual innuendo and commentary. Now I do not have virgin ears (or any other part of my body ha!) and I can talk just as trashy (or worse!) as the next person but I know where to do it, when and with whom. Unless I make a really bad unintentional pun or lose my filter by accident but that's just a bad joke/gaffe. And it's unintentional! I find it completely abhorrent that this man who is married to my mother (do I need to repeat that?!) at his age would continue to keep saying such things! I mean, I am the furthest thing from a prude but she's my fucking mother and I am her fucking daughter. Show some sense of decency and decorum.

Anyway, I am now in possession of my "bank draft," we celebrated Christmas (a month late?) and now it's over...at least until the next time.

Thanks, Nana...Goodbye, Again...

Well, my grandmother's ("Nana's") estate has finally been settled. Almost exactly 3 months to the date of her death. I never, ever thought I would receive any sort of "inheritance" in my life. Mind you it's not a huge amount. Hardly! Patient Anonymous does not come from wealth.

My Nana (she absolutely refused to be called "Grandma" or any other variation of the term as she felt it made her feel "old") was a rather vain woman. As you can probably gather from the previous statement. She was always very fashionable, lived life to it's fullest potential and was actually very self-absorbed. However, she did have a sensitive flip side and she did not ever like to see anyone in pain or suffer. This I gradually started to find out only recently as she and I started to grow closer. You see, I began to inch quietly like a bit of a snake (albeit a frustrated and defiant one) in rattling some of the family's, closeted skeletal bones about my secret biological paternity. I had somehow hoped that she would have some sort of influence over me obtaining more information about the man I know nothing about from my completely delusional mother who is in absolute denial about it all.

My Nana's sole "wish" was that we could all be closer as a family. Perhaps my Nana was a bit delusional as well.

However, she is gone now. I must somehow try and tackle the problem of dealing with my mother on this issue alone. I don't know how successful I will be. I have major "mother issues"...primarily dealing with abandonment but it doesn't stop there.

Anyway, at least this hurdle is done with. And my sister and I are relieved that my mother didn't actually abscond with our shares in some psychotic episode. I'm not joking. We were actually a little fearful that might happen as she was the Executrix.

I feel conflicted about this. Someone dying and taking their money. "Bittersweet" is the only word that immediately comes to mind but even that doesn't seem to encompass all that I feel.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Caution: This Post May Sense No Make

I need an IV, Earl Grey, Stat! And push 30 Espresso! Okay, that's a little ridiculous. Maybe I've been watching too many medical "dramas."

I've actually had a coffee and a tea. I don't even like coffee but it gives me more of an immediate jolt than tea. I'm a mess. I keep dropping things, picking up the wrong items in place of others. I'm mumbling and my speech is full of incorrect word usage.

I had the worst night's sleep last night. I got 6 hours (I know, I know, I can almost feel the chronic insomniacs hurling objects at me) but it was the quality of sleep that was bad too. I was plagued with nightmares (a popular/recurring one is me being transported back to my old job where I was fired for being mentally ill and another where I was being chased through a labyrinth where I urinated on myself.) Fear? Shame? I did actually have to go to the bathroom when I woke up so perhaps there is a physiological basis to some of the latter dream. But I've never had a dream where I've actually pissed myself out of such fear! And I know I've said that I'm not big on "dream interpretation"--despite my therapist's urging to "delve deeper" into them.

And then the leg cramps kicked in (ha, no pun intended!) I've never been shot but the pain is so intense and jarring that I often wonder if that is what it feels like to on the business end of a bullet. I've had them on and off throughout my entire life. So here I am, the sun not quite in the sky, writhing in pain trying not to scream, lest I wake my snoozing partner. I limp to the bathroom to take care of things there.

Yesterday was not one of my more stellar days. Hence my problems with sleep? I had taken my hypnotic and two hours later I lay wide awake, my brain still abuzz. I finally just rolled over and thought I'd better try to get some shuteye or I'd be a real mess for work in the morning. I don't know how much that made a difference but here I sit.

Have you ever in life (well not literally so let me rephrase) in your mind, set up things, like a series of dominoes? It can be any number of pieces, multi-coloured, in any shape or pattern but you do it, sometimes even painstakingly. You step back, admire your work. But one day, you feel the urge to tip that first domino.

Now in life, there are always choices. Yesterday, I decided to tip the domino. I didn't have to but I did. At first I was pleased! Hey, look what I did! Think back to when you were a child and you would watch a set of strategically stacked dominoes fall. Wow! How, empowering! But then, a short while later, I sat amidst a rubble of fallen dominoes and there I was, feeeling like a child amidst a sea of broken toys. What did I do? This of course can then lead to: Oh my god! What's going to happen now? and all sorts of various scenarios can invariably pop into your head about the future. And they're all bad.

In psychology, this is known as Catastrophic Thinking. Now, I did not get to this point. I have at other times in my life but yesterday, thankfully, some semblance of my logic and black and white/absolute thinking kept me away from that place. What a surprise that these things could actually work to my advantage. I looked at my pile of spilled dominoes and realized, well, what is the absolute worst that can happen here? It might be really fucking shitty but I made the decision to tip the first one and set it all in motion so I'm just going to have to live with it. I stand by the decision that I made. That doesn't mean I still felt rather upset about it all but it helped me try and put it in some sort of perspective at least. I put on my "sane face" for the rest of the day, laughed and smiled on cue and I don't think anyone was the wiser.

I'm not sure but maybe I'm the sort of person that needs to learn things by "tipping her dominoes." And part of me doesn't even know what the hell that means.

On a lighter note, I love my boss. She is hilarious. I was accosted by her when I walked in to work this morning. She pulled my headphones off and as I am still trying to convince myself that I am useful on this planet, I am currently dousing myself in Mercyfuck by Mary Prankster (see MP3 of the moment, if you dare.) That may seem counterintuitive but we all have our ways of dealing with things. I suggested that perhaps I should turn the volume down as it was probably the most profane song ever written. She asked what it was so I told her roughly what it was about and by whom and she can't wait to download it! It's her birthday this weekend so we (some colleagues) went out and bought her a bottle of wine (a Shiraz from Oz) called "The Lackey." We just couldn't resist the name.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Does Anyone Remember King Lear?

Actually, it's okay, I went and looked it up. But for any of you Shakespeare afficionados, please feel free to jump in!

There are two books that I've read in my life that have made me cry. One was My Cat Saved My Life and the other was King Lear.

I read King Lear in my final year of high school and when I got to the end, I almost keeled over in huge, wrenching sobs. I mean, I really bawled. I didn't even know why. But something was triggered in my psyche, even if it wasn't apparent to me at the time.

This came up in my last therapy session after I had recently gone through a rough patch and was tearing up all over the place--not in the session but in days prior. My therapist was going to offer me a book to read and I laughed in her face. I haven't been able to read a book cover to cover in a while. Then I recanted and said, no, that wasn't entirely true. Over the last couple of years, I have managed to read two. So perhaps there's hope for me yet?

We went back to the aspect of potential triggers and I said that more complex visual stimuli (i.e. movies with faces, voices of characters etc...) were more apt to set me off than words on a page. I guess I can detach more when I read? That's when we got into the issue of these two books and how they've been the only books that have ever made me cry.

King Lear piqued her interest. I was clueless as I had lost barely all retention of the plot. She suggested that I read it again after all of these years and see what I get out of it now as it may be "therapeutic" and "very interesting." She also said that I "reminded her of Cordelia."

Egad. When my therapist pulls something like that out in a session I sit up and take notice! I also wondered just how "therapeutic" it might be. After getting a quick refresher online I think I see some things that might have been potential triggers as my family is so completely fucked up.

When out with friends last night, one of them told me that she had some books for me. I coincidentally asked her if she had an extra copy of Lear. She said she had two so she'd gladly give me one. I told her all of the above and she just laughed and said I had King Lear written all over me.

Hmmm.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

GERD Update

My partner and I are so smart. Maybe. I'll have to consult my gastro but perhaps I'm on to something?

My partner's pretty good at monitoring my signs of gastro hell. We have found a pattern? I'm ovulating right now (I'm sure you are all thrilled to know this.) But my stomach is really bad. I just found out that progesterone relaxes the LES (lower oesophageal sphincter--yes I spell it with an 'o'.) This is interesting.

But my tummy also gets quite awful when I get my period. Progesterone drops then. Hmmm. What's my little LES doing at that point? And what role does estrogen (I know, I don't use an 'o' here...) play in all of this? So far there isn't any definitive evidence that estrogen makes GERD worse. I've just found something done that was tied to obesity and women taking estrogen therapy (see Nilsson, M. et al., JAMA. 2003; 290(1):66-72.) Can be dug up in Medscape if you're interested--but I'm sure you're not haha.

EBM: A Balanced Approach?

Okay, I may be making a huge ass out of myself for posting about Evidence Based Medicine but I've been doing some reading and it's kind of bugging me. I'm not a health practictioner (as my blogger name says!) but I am health consumer.

So I've been trying to wrap my head around EBM and all the fuss. I've been reading both sides of the argument and really, I can see where it works in theory but not always in practice?

Of course it's always good to pay attention to studies and be "judicous" in looking at them (that word comes up a lot in EBM) but isn't there more to practising medicine? It's not just about the facts and figures and statistics. I know proponents (or even non-proponents) of EBM may be laughing at me right now, saying that I'm totally taking it out of context and I have no idea what I'm saying?

And yes, there are people out there that claim to be "experts" that do need to be weeded out so yes, cite your references, always. But that's just common sense! If I read someone who claims to be an expert, I want to see their data.

But I think you also need to take into consideration so many other factors that EBM just doesn't allow room for. I'd be an EBM nightmare. Co-morbidities, taking meds off-label--but they work! I'm living proof! But according to EBM, I would not fit the criteria, therefore I may not be able to take my precious Topamax/Topiramate if one of my docs was a real EBM hardass! Well, perhaps I could...if I armwrestled him/her.

I somehow feel that EBM as a "movement" as it has been termed has the capability to go a little too far. From what I gather, they deem what is appropriate in terms of evidence and dictate proper guidelines. It just feels a little too militaristic.

Yes, there are "rules" to science but healing is an art. Let's not lose that in the overall approach to medicine. Let's not completely put the blinders on and have professionals buried in the latest "research" looking only at that (which may only give a partial picture, anyway.) Supposedly, EBM doesn't preclude the patient but it doesn't exactly give me a warm feeling.

Alright, ending this now. I'm just a patient.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My Neurologist Is So Headache Inducing, He Gave Me A Migraine!

I know, it sounds like a bad punch line/one-liner but I went to see my neurologist yesterday and it was just maddening. I don't expect every doctor I have to commit my entire history to memory--I know that's impossible--but this guy doesn't even know who I am! Every time I walk into his office, it's like I'm a new patient! Is it too much to also ask that neurologists out there not have egos the size of their office buildings and personalities the size of the pen point of which they use to write the notes which they obviously don't bother to read? He said some other things that were inaccurate and actually kind of inappropriate but I didn't have the energy to get into it with him. Everything is "under control" so let's just have our 10 minute consult and be done with it, okay?

My head began to hurt the minute I left his office. I went home and it stopped. But then later in the evening, I started to get my regular aura: light sensitivity, nausea and irritability. And my head had started to hurt again. I had taken some ibuprophen a few hours prior but it hadn't worked.

Time to reach for the abortive? In my case, Maxalt/Rizatriptan. The only problem is, it doesn't seem to play well with my current sleepy med, Imovane/Zopliclone. For some reason, I just get the worst sleep ever when I take the two in conjunction! Of course I mentioned this to my neurologist yesterday and he didn't even bother to acknowledge it. I just told him that I also pop an anti-nauseant which is good for the aura symptoms and it also helps with the sleep.

But last night, I still slept like crap, and when I woke up today, I was still feeling very nauseous and dizzy. I have the typical feeling that someone has hit me with a shovel across my neck and shoulders...that's normal after I have a migraine (or don't as for me, the abortives work well and usually catch things before they become full blown.)

I'm still a bit puzzled as to why I still feel so nauseous and dizzy today though. I've been trying to get some more sleep but haven't really been successful. I'm not hungry but that's "normal" for me anyway. I don't feel "sick" in any other way.

Who knows? I'm sure he didn't give me a migraine but it's awfully fun and funny to blame it on him. And awfully ironic that I got one immediately after seeing him.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ooh, Listen, Listen!

I could post about something else but I'm still a little wiped out from all the cream (haha!) I did put up a new MP3 that I command you all to listen to (or well, at least read about and decide for yourselves.) But I get so excited about this selection! So go on, give it a go. It's "educational" and "enriching" too! Well maybe not so much for you as me but well...have a look.

*grin*

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Did I Drink That Much Cream???

Note to self: put on glasses when exiting bed to dash for midnight doses of milk.

Sometimes when my stomach gets upset in the middle of the night or I'm in pain or even suffering a GERD attack, I'll go running straight to the fridge for some milk. It's the only thing that seems to "put out the fire," so to speak.

Well, last night there was a bit of tummy upset going on. To complicate things further, I take a Hypnotic (Imovane/Zopiclone) to sleep so depending on when I feel ill and when I wake up, I can be really out of it. Last night, I was really out of it. Quite. Rather stupendously so after I had actually realized what I had done.

So I wasn't even aware of how "sick" I was--which can be typical in a doped up state. There was no GERD, although I had been coughing a bit after this entire episode. However, as has often happened in the past, I simply wake up with an uncontrollable craving for milk. That is the signal to my doped up brain to get it into my digestive tract. I walked into the kitchen, opened up the fridge and grabbed the 1L carton and just started chugging! Ahhh...that was better. It wasn't until after I had emptied it, I had realized what I had done. I had finished all of my partner's cream for her coffee (I drink tea) and not even touched the 2L carton of milk (which is Skim, by the way...)

There must have been well over a cup of cream in the carton. How could I have not known?! Talk about being a zombie! I immediately started drinking some of the milk to somehow try to "erase" what I'd done. What am I, three?

Oh well, at least it was "half and half" cream? Only 11%? Not that I give a shit about eating fatty crap. I can afford that but it's just my stomach! I think I've discovered a new fraternity hazing ritual. I've been to the bathroom twice already this morning and I'm comforting myself with lots of carbonated or "fizzy" water. I'm not lactose intolerant but I sure feel like it today. I feel like I'm going to throw up and I don't normally do that. Maybe I'd better toss some "Gravol" or dimenhydrinate in to the mix. I wish I had something for the pain but that's been ongoing anyway so ah, whatever...

I still can't believe that I did this. As per my last post: meds make you stoopid.

Edit: My partner has been laughing uproariously, loudly and for way too long about this. She simply can not believe that I did not notice the difference between cream and milk. Even while drinking it! And that I drank that much of it. She is trying to get me off this computer and into bed, however. Alas, I should take her advice and lie down.

Friday, January 12, 2007

In The Line Of Fire: Inflicting My Bad Neurochemistry On Unsuspecting Tourists

Oh those poor, sweet, darling girls from England. I don't think they knew what hit them!

On the way home from work this evening, I was stopped by three young girls who I assume were visiting here. They were looking for a nightclub a mere couple of blocks away (from where we were and my workplace nonetheless) and yet, I could not manage to give them proper directions. I babbled on and on about what the club looked like and how it had several names for differents parts of it and the signs on it and how to sort of get there.

What on earth? I used to know my city like the back of hand, inside out, up and down, backwards and forwards. Conclusion? Meds make you stoopid. I can get lost in a teacup now. And nevermind that I could have provided ample landmarks that I walk past every day (like my own building!) That would have been far too easy.

And riddle me this? Why is it that whenever I meet someone with an accent (and always someone from the UK--England in particular) I start parroting them? I don't mean to. I've since learned through "sensitivity training" that this is completely unacceptable as you are "othering" people. That is to say, you are highlighting their differences and it can be perceived that you are being offensive.

But I don't mean to! It's just some strange thing that my brain does! And I have to put concerted effort toward stopping it and that is very hard to do when you are actually in the midst of trying to have an intelligent, cogent and sometimes rapid-fire conversation!

I used to be very good at dialects and all sorts of accents when I was a child. That's a great skill to hone should one want to pursue a career on the stage or in film. But I don't and didn't.

So apologies you girls, I hope you made you way to the bar and that I didn't sound like some bizarre hybrid Canuck-Londoner!

Addendum: Here's some information that sheds some light on the fact that nonconscious mimicry is entirely "normal!" Take a look.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Doctor Anxiety and "PA"tients

Why is it that Patient Anonymous becomes so stressed when she has to see doctors these days? No matter who it is I need to visit, first thing in the morning, my pulse quickens, my stomach churns and my brain just seems to lose all focus.

I have a dentist appointment today and I'm just a mess. I don't have a fear of dentists and my dentist is a really nice man. And so are all the hygienists. My original family dentist who I saw since childhood was awesome so I never had any bad experiences.

And I don't have a problem with doctors. I love you! I idolize you! I don't put you on pedestals as I understand that you are all human but I do admire you and have great respect for you. In fact, I am willing to put up with a lot. You might tick me off if we disagree on my treatment or if you screw up but in the goal of working together to make me well, I'll persevere. Believe me, one specialist almost drove me to litigation (not against him) for making a "boo boo" but once he realized how badly he'd messed up, he did try to remedy the situation. It was too late, however. Still, did I take it out on him? No. It wouldn't have mattered, anyway. He would have gotten away with a slap on the wrist at worst. Still, I suffered greatly so maybe that's one reason I'm a little nervous.

I've had some other bad experiences.

I had no physician when I was in university so I went to the first person I could see in the clinic there when I fell ill with some infection. He invited me to his private practice. My Bipolar Disorder was in its infancy and not yet diagnosed so I was just beginning to act out in many ways, one of which was hypersexuality. This did not bode well with him, it seems. It did not make sense to him that a self-proclaimed "lesbian" would suddenly need "the morning after pill" or emergency contraception in a flaming panic one day. I was never treated the same after.

I once went to an OB/GYN many years ago for recurrent UTI infections. When he examined me, he tapped my clitoris a few times and asked, "Can you feel that?" I was stunned. That had never happened before. I didn't know what to say or do so I simply answered, "Yes."

I have since learned that this is not part of a standard pelvic examination. I don't think it's part of a "non-standard" pelvic examination! Someone, please correct me if I am wrong. Then we moved forward with catheterization for output flow and I screamed! That was probably the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. I felt really bad for the other women awaiting any procedures after me. He also prescribed me a little too much Valium/Diazepam along with my antibiotics. I was a little wary of OB/GYNs after that.

And then there are some of the problems that I've experienced with Endoscopies that I blogged about here. Thankfully my new Gastroenterologist has assured me that he can knock me out with a general for any procedures he needs to do from this point forward.

Finally, I managed to escape the clutches of a very unhealthy relationship with my Family Practitioner that I had been seeing for years. I wrote about it here. It also talks a little bit about my fear of doctors as "authority figures." But not much. Just that I have that fear; I really don't know why.

So maybe I've answered my own question here? I'm not really sure. I've finally found a new Family Practitioner but the relationship is still new and I'm still being lined up with a lot of new specialists so it's all rather daunting. I've worked on this in therapy but I still haven't managed to conquer my fear and anxiety over "dealing" with physicians. I know that they are relationships that I will always need to have, however. I don't need to be treated with "kid gloves" per se but I do need, I guess, certain types of doctors that will be kind, caring, patient, intelligent, careful, willing to work collaboratively and treat me with respect. Is that a lot to ask?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Some Additions To My Last Post: Turn On, Tune In, DROP OUT!

I forgot to mention some things in my last post. Yes, score another point for absent-mindedness.

The chronic underachiever can overachieve, albeit perhaps sporadically? I don't know if I was slightly hypomanic or if I simply wanted to do well but seeing as I did end up in the hospital for psychiatric reasons after the Statistics class post Anatomy and Physiology, I guess it could be 50/50. Anyway, I did a couple of things that I find particularly humourous while taking the A&P course. You may or may not agree.

First, I created a "study guide" that I shared with a couple of women in the class that became friends. They took one look at it and were shocked. They told me I would have no problem with the course. It was pages and pages long in an Excel document of all the terms that we had learned with definitions, mnemonics, cross-references to applicable diagrams/appendices in our two inch text book/additional material plus some other pages for more complicated subjects/systems of the body that were a little trickier to learn.

Second, we had a group assignment that was worth 10% of our mark. For some reason, one member of our group really wanted to do Huntington's Disease. Since it had something to do with the brain, I was happy. That was all I wanted--just something neuro related. Since I had the best grasp of that, everyone "volunteered" me for that portion. So I set about my research (outside of our basic textbook, of course) and began mapping how Huntington's affects the brain.

I was a little nervous because I hate group assignments. I'm not a control freak and it's not that I don't like working with people but I don't like having my marks in the hands of others. So one night, I sat in a bar, downed a few pints and roughly sketched out my pictue of the brain with a pen on a sheet of looseleaf. I had all the anatomy down and all the neurotransmitters with proper voltage channels etc... I'm no artist so it really looked like shit but it was all there. I took it in to my next class to show my professor just to make sure I was on the right track.

Now my professor knew about me being bipolar (the seizures and ADD hadn't been diagnosed yet.) I don't know why I had told her. I guess because Patient Anonymous has a weakness for attractive, intelligent women with Doctorate Degrees. I know, awful, isn't it? Also, I speak freely about who I am and I find how the brain works interesting and how my brain works interesting and in the context of what we were studying, well I guess I just thought she would be interested too haha. Maybe I was hypomanic...shades of grandiose thinking anyone?

Nonetheless, she was and we had great discussions about it and pretty much anything and everything else in the course. She really was an excellent professor. But when I showed her my drawing she was somewhat taken aback. She told me that it was "a bit much" and at the level of a 2nd or 3rd year Neuroanatomy course. She just looked at me and said quietly, "So smart..." And then told me that I really needn't put that much work into the project. I took it as a complement but was kind of confused by the work I had done. Was it really too much?

So I prepared a much simpler drawing, condensed a much shorter speech (part of the project) and answered the random questions that were posed (also part of the project) and scored 100%.

And as far as nursing goes, I wanted to work in palliative care.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Turn On, Tune In, DROP OUT!

I was a little too young for Leary and granted, he didn't mean the last part literally but I have "dropped out" or left university level education a total of three times. How crazy is that?

No really. How "crazy" is that? In retrospect, I have to wonder just what my "problem" is-- psychologically and neurologically speaking in terms of my diagnoses.

The first time was fresh out of high school and I just couldn't deal with it. I had struggled during my final year to bring my average up to just barely an "A" after completely disintegrating a few years earlier. After always being at the top of my class, my grades had plummeted in my early years of high school and it was devastating. But I was determined to go to university because I knew that I was smart and that was just "what you did" after high school.

So off I went, terrified. I made no friends, hated the communal bathrooms and the cafeteria that served barely edible food. What to study? Hell if I knew?! I would stare vacantly at the course calendar and try to just pick something, anything. I finally did and in that day, with no advanced technology, you had to stand in long lineups, hoping that by the time you got to the front of the queue the course wouldn't be full. If so, you'd have fo race off to your second or third or fourth choice and try for that. I couldn't bear it. I even got my first and only bee sting while there signing up for those courses! I lasted a month. I couldn't concentrate, longed for home. I quit.

I worked for a year and saved some money, not giving up but trying to figure out another path. I knew I couldn't stay working in a retail job for the rest of my life. I was still determined to obtain a degree. But in what, I still had no clue. I was sorely in need of some guidance but there was no one to give it.

Attempt number two brought me to a satellite campus of a very large university and I liked it. In fact, I thrived. You want to know why? My little friend Bipolar Disorder had come to greet me! It's amazing how well one can do in school with the average(?) amount of effort when hypomanic. For the first time in a long time (since childhood!) I was getting A+'s as final marks! I even went to a couple of my final exams (not the A+ ones) drunk and in one case, it improved my final mark! In the other, I will assume I just stayed the same. No harm, no foul? Uh huh.

I was taking a rather eclectic mix of courses. Since I'd never fared well in sciences as a kid (that came a bit later?) I stuck with "Liberal Arts" or "Humanities" and my degree program was kind of a "build your own" with very few mandatory courses and a lot of electives. It was fun. But it lacked direction and I soon became "bored." In fine Bipolar/ADD fashion I dropped out yet again and decided that I wanted "real world" experience and that would come through working full time where I had been currently holding down part time employment. Not to mention (or maybe this was just further justifcation I used for my decision) the economy was shifting here and soon the workplace would be flooded with so many undergraduates with "useless" degrees such as mine. 'What was the point?' I thought. May as well get out now and ensure that job.

Well, "that job" didn't exactly pan out as I thought. I never thought I'd stay there forever but it actually turned out rather badly for me. It could be a whole other post but let's just say that I was basically "let go" for being "mentally ill." Even though they didn't use that as cause, everyone knew it was the real reason.

So on to attempt number three. A few years ago, I decided that it was time for a change. Yes, I wanted to go back to school and get my nursing degree. Some very kind (but deluded?) people actually suggested that I pursue a degree in medicine. I thanked them for their confidence in me but the thought of me actually being a doctor scares the hell out of me. My alma mater has a B.Sc.N program where they would accept all of my prior courses for credit. All I needed was a first year Anatomy and Physiology and a half course in Statistics to continue to study there. Fair enough.

The A&P was fabulous. A- final mark. The Statistics? I bombed. I don't even know my final mark. It was so bad that my first exam was about a 47% and I just kept dropping from there. It was a really fast and condensed summer course too and I worked really hard, had a friend who has a Masters Degree in Science tutor me but still, I just tanked. And with that, drop out number three...and a trip to the psych ward. I'm not kidding.

I'm intelligent, smart? My comprehension is excellent (well, except perhaps for Mathematics) but I can pretty much pick up most other things if I try hard enough (well, that Chemistry gets me too and I've never taken a Physics course in my life.) However my recall is poor. Hence the riotous laughter at being a doctor. Can you see me with the open textbook and/or laptop looking up surgical procedures as I'm going along in the operating room? Or heaven forbid, fucking up on scripts and killing someone--or any other number of ways I could kill someone! Absent-minded Professor is more like it and well, yes, perhaps a career an The Hallowed Halls of Academia may have suited me.

So this just sort of falls in line with some of the other ADD related items that I need to speak to my new psychiatrist about. Lack of focus and impulsive decision making, not feeling happy in career choices, wanting several career choices (even though nursing was the only path I actively pursued, there have been other things I've wanted to be but I've never done anything about), feeling like I should be further ahead in life...I could go on and on but those are some things that are directly related to this post anyway.

I've done the "checklists" and the self-reporting scales. Even though they don't provide you with a diagnosis proper they can give you a pretty good picture.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Message To Suicidal Searcher?

I just looked at my stats and someone typed in "will 3 imovane 7.5mg kill you"

That brought them to this blog. Nowhere did I ever write this or anything about suicide and Imovane. Search engines are funny and pick up all sorts of things that are unconnected.

The answer is "highly doubtful." Nonetheless, don't fuck with your meds! Take them as prescribed. If you're not doing well on them, discuss it with your physician. It can actually be more difficult to overdose on medication than you think and you can do more damage to your body in the long run.

To the person who searched this, if you do come back to read this blog and you are feeling suicidal, please get help. Talk to someone, anyone. Things can and will get better. Trust me on that.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Therapy Is Hard Work

For both participants.

I actually thought I wanted to become a therapist when I was younger. If you can believe it, I was reading university psych textbooks when I was about nine or 10, in vain attempt, trying to learn how to "fix" my mother. I was always told that she was Schizophrenic but now that I am older, that diagnosis doesn't really fit. Nonetheless, I continued to read about various disorders. The texts were old and "Manic Depression" didn't zero in on the type of behaviour that she exhibited, at least in my young mind.

I later learned about the phenomenon of "burn out" in the profession and as I soon experienced my own early symptoms of depression I realized that this profession could not be for me (note: this is sort of hindsight conclusion about my depression, I didn't really know what was wrong with me as a teenager--I just instinctively knew I couldn't be a therapist.) Coupled with that, living with my mother became more and more frightening. I grew to loathe therapists and psychiatrists. Mom couldn't be "fixed" and I knew it. Granted, Mom has never been diagnosed, Dad did little to help her as that would have shattered too much about family secrets and basically, there was too much at stake for him to lose.

I had seen a couple of therapists as a teenager at my father's bidding as he wanted to have me "checked out" and they were awful. One counselled my father to do whatever he wanted regardless of my sister's and my well being and another saw me separately for six months and found me "cured" after that. I felt no different and that it was a total waste of time. Oh yes, there was one other who tried to hypnotize me and one psychiatrist who saw me when I was oh...I can't remember...maybe 12 or 13 as my father was worried about me being ill due to genetic predisposition. I remained cold and distant and stoic through it all.

I am a trauma survivor and it's taken me a very long time to recognize that. To me, "trauma" always meant something extremely violent like sexual or physical abuse, living through or witnessing accidents or war but that is not the case.

About two and a half years ago when things were extremely bad for me I finally "broke down" and agreed to seek counselling with a qualified therapist. It has been good, it has been challenging and it is far from over.

One of the most difficult things for me is that I have virtually no memory of my childhood. I have some more of my adolesence but things only start to clear up during my adult years. And even a lot of that can be fuzzy. My therapist says that it doesn't matter and I can still heal and get past a lot of what has happened to me. All I know is that things must have been awfully bad for me to have repressed that much.

A good thing I have, an extremely valuable resource, is my older sister. Her memory is in tact. She has provided me with a lot to fill in the gaps. Even though they are her memories and it's still not quite the same, it is still information my therapist and I can work with. In talking with my sister this week, I have found out some more information and in light of what is going on with my family right now, my sister has expressed interest in joining me at a session (although I don't know if we can pack everything in to just one!) I had suggested this last summer but she hadn't gotten back to me so I didn't pry. I am very happy about this but I know it will probably be very difficult. Still, I think it needs to be done in order to keep moving forward.

Therapy may not be for everyone but if you've been through anything troubling in your past or if you are having difficulty in the present, I strongly recommend it. Doubly so if you have any psychiatric diagnosis. It's even more of an added burden then.

I'm not sure when we'll be able to co-ordinate it as my sister lives out of town and it will necessitate her having to travel a fair distance but she's willing so that's all that matters.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Losing It

I just about posted utter shit on someone's blog (but quickly recovered...) and just made a joke about *wanting* to post something inappropriate.

I just emailed another blogger about something that's been bothering me for a long time--am I being oversensitive? Did I fuck up? Am I an idiot?

Okay...I'm almost crying at my desk...

What the fuck is going on?

I'm almost scared to post this...as all of my (few) readers will probably disappear after they see this. This is supposed to be a respectable and intelligent blog!

Forgive me. I've been posting nothing but crap lately.

------------------------------

Edit: Okay, maybe I'm a bit stressed with some personal stuff. Confession: Self-flagellation of the Psyche is hobby of Patient Anonymous'... She's much harder on herself than she is on others.

Yes, this is the place where I'll let it all hang out. Be forewarned.

Pandemonium At PA's Place Last Night!

So my iPod died on the way home last night. It just froze. Then the scroll wheel and buttons stopped working and that was that. When I got home, I tried charging it, iTunes wouldn't recognize it. Bugger! The things's not even a year old!

So I start looking for the receipt as I figured it would need to go back for warranty repairs or who knows what. I'm positive I know where it is--either in the box or with the dumb software installation CD. Nope.

Panic.

I start racing around looking in cupboards, on shelves, in drawers. I'm tearing apart everything and I still can't find it! I knew I didn't throw it out as I know technology is only as good as the humans who make it. So as I'm rifling through more items, I knock over this storage thing that looks vaguely like a tackle box that's completely filled with pens, office junk and other garbage and LOTS of change.

CRASH!

The cat tears from the room, the air turns a virtual rainbow of colours from the shrieks of profanity spewing from my mouth. My partner was in the kitchen cooking dinner (where else would she be haha) and wonders what all the commotion is about.

There's little PA on the floor, the room practically torn to shreds. My partner asks me once again, "Did I check here, there, everywhere?" Of course I did. I reach again for the iPod's original packaging (how big is the box, people!) and guess what I find.

I slowly start to put everything back in order including that damn "tackle box" thing, placing all the coin back into their little divided areas by denomination.

Welcome to the wonderful world of ADD. And klutziness (courtesy of anticonvulsants.)

On the upside, speaking to one of my managers about the iPod today, there is a way to reboot them if they freeze up/crap out etc... Hold down the "Select" and "Menu" buttons together for about 15 seconds and it should work. I'll give that a go tonight before surrendering it to service.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

For Those Of You Keeping Score...

Well, back from a therapy appointment, the bosses have left and I can not do any more work for the day. My head is going to explode.

So, if anyone's been following, no word from my Dad at all over Christmas. I came back to zero, zip, zilch, nada in my inbox. No calls were made. Nothing.

Does this mean we are no longer speaking? Patient Anonymous is extremely confused. She doesn't even know if she's disappointed. She's not miffed...maybe not even baffled anymore?

*sigh*

So what would be the score, then?

PA: 0
Dad: 1398 (possible number of times he's proven himself to be unreliable, self-absorbed, stupid, shallow, irresponsible, thoughtless and yes, I guess, a disappointment?)

I don't know what to do. Contacting him (yes, that would necessitate the child parenting the parent yet again...) would only result in weak, empty apologies and promises to "do better" and "try harder" in the future. Yes, that's been heard before. A very empty ringing quality. Kind of tinny and it doesn't really resonate or even echo.

I'll have to think more about this (oh, great...looking forward to it!) and try to figure out what the hell to do.

And speaking of "keeping score," I had a dream this morning that I was a hockey player. This is quite amusing because I can't skate to save my life! Well, I can skate (sort of) but I can't stop. I do actually own a pair of hockey skates (figure skates--no way!) but I just can't master the "swish." I can't make my ankles and knees bend properly on such a slippery surface. I can do the "T-Stop" sort of thing and kind of turn around and manage to not fall. I usually just crash into the boards though--that does it.

It's also funny because if you could see little Patient Anonymous loaded down with all of the equipment, she'd actually be prostrate on the ice with her heart racing at about 200bpm (okay, maybe I wouldn't be that bad...)

This of course was all the more ridiculous in the dream because I was in the position of goaltender. You might think it wouldn't matter as you don't have to "skate much" as goalie but actually, you need to be a very good skater. And you need to have really strong legs for those pads!

I was playing in a charity women's tournament and our coach was Sylvain Lefebvre. There was some woman who I was in trouble with because I didn't have a "temporary NHL card" (whatever the hell that was supposed to be!) and I was trying to explain the situation in my very pathetic French to Sylvain as this woman could neither speak to him nor get his name right, pronounce it etc...

Then I woke up.

I don't take a lot of stock in "dream interpretation." They're just random thoughts bouncing around while we sleep. A lot of the time when I do manage to remember my dreams (very rarely) I can usually figure out why I was dreaming about the subject matter. This one has me completely stumped. Well, maybe not completely but it's a really bizarre one.

Recurring dreams are more worth paying attention to but I haven't had any of those since I was very young.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

This Is Why I Sometimes Don't Like To Socialize...

So last night I bid adieu to my Canadian expat friend before he heads "home" to London, England. Our party was "hi-jacked" by a mutual acqauintance who brought along someone I had never met. My friend and another friend of ours had met up earlier for a few drinks before dinner and a couple of more people showed up after work. It was an odd sort of coming and going with peoples' different schedules. I stayed out longer than I wanted and drank too much.

Anyway, during what I assumed would be a civilized dinner in a restaurant, a bit of hell broke loose.

We were talking about something trivial, music of our younger days, something to do with DJs and dance music and I had a rather strange tale about meeting a local DJ who still continues to broadcast a weekly show that we all grew up with. So I launched into my rather zany tale (it was a story that was fuelled by hypomania years ago) but I kept being interrupted by the server, by other people talking and laughing so I had to keep repeating myself, starting over. Something that well, just happens with a rather long story with someone who has ADD who has been drinking.

Well, doesn't this woman, who I have never met before, launch a complete verbal assault all over me about how something must be wrong with all of us because we have no lives, are we all a bunch of "club kids" and do I still "do this?!" I calmly explain to her (had she even been listening) that this was something that happened years ago and that I was bipolar so no, I would not do this now but I did it then...

She cut me off and said that my story had no point and that I was just rambling on and kept repeating myself and...and...

So, I turned and asked her if I was boring her. She said no, that I wasn't but I just had no point.

Well, that's interesting because I never got to finish before I was so rudely interrupted. I told her that I would just save her the time of listening just in case I was boring her and end my story now. I quietly went back to eating my dinner and did not say another word.

Everyone was a little mortified and rather shocked. I have not been yelled at or bullied in such a manner since I was a teenager or younger. On my planet, you listen politely even if someone is boring the shit out of you, you don't scream and berate or insult them. Or even if you do, if they call you on it, ask you if you are bored to tears then at least have the guts to answer honestly.

I'm still angry and hurt and feeling the after effects of the alcohol so life is not good at all in PA Land today.

My friend who is flying out tomorrow called to apologize today. That was sweet but it's not his fault. I said to him that the old PA might have just let the person run roughshod all over her but the new PA won't be treated like that anymore.

If life gives you lemons, throw them back at the fucker who gave them to you in the first place. Hard.

I still just want to burst into tears right now though.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

High Functioning vs. Low Functioning...What's The Scale?

So going back to this post near the end, I questioned just how functional I really was. A lot of times, you hear the terms "High Functioning" or "Low Functioning" when professionals (or even lay people) refer to those with psychiatric or neurological disorders. Most commonly, it is heard in the realm of discussion of "Spectrum Disorders" such as Autism Spectrum Disorder or I would even go further to say "Bipolar Spectrum Disorder" even though it is not commonly referred to as such. But since it has been classified so finely (cough, cough) by the DSM-IV and the ICD into little boxes, I would think that "obviously" shows a spectrum of behaviour. What a lot of professionals need to bear in mind, however is that, due to the nature of these disorders being part of a spectrum, those beholden to them (I don't want to call us "sufferers"...let's not make us look more weak and pitiful, thank you) will invariably end up shifting throughout the very spectrum of the behaviour defined.

Is that clear? I hope so. Put it this way, if you're "labelled" BPI, that doesn't mean that you will never experience a mixed state or an extended period of depression lasting for months on end or that your cycling patterns won't change and you won't end up an ultradian cycler--the type that I ended up being. I was diagnosed BPII which apparently is "incapable" of cycling as fast as ultradian and I still carry the BPII diagnosis/label but guess what? As the years went by, I was cycling so fast that I was manically jibber-jabbering away and running around my apartment like I was on speed for 15 minutes and then suicidally in tears with no energy about 15 minutes later. Supposedly if you're BPII, that can not happen. Well, tell my brain that.

It's the same thing with Autism. So, if a child is diagnosed at the ripe old age of two or three with Autism, they receive therapy and then perhaps the diagnosis changes to PDD-NOS, are they no longer autistic? Well, that might depend on if you're applying for funding to continue therapy for your child (and that's a whole other issue...) And what about Asperger's Syndrome? There are people that are still debating whether or not that's part of the "higher functioning" part of the Spectrum or another separate disorder all it's own.

Okay, so the "functionality" thing. I understand that we all have "to classify things" in order to make sense of our existence and all of that sort of thing. But I find it difficult to apply the high/low functionality label to something that can be constantly in flux. Things can trigger all of us with psych/neuro disorders. I mean, what about "medium functioning?" I've never heard of that. I kind of think we all might be somewhere around there because half the time, no one knows just how they're going to be from one day to the next! And it can't just be based upon IQ, how we get around in the world, ability to hold jobs etc...is it really that simple? Because again, all of those things aren't necessarily static.

Am I over thinking this? Is the label whore getting tired of being labelled?

I would be considered "high functioning." But compared to what? I am gainfully employed. Okay, I get up every day and I go to work. I am intelligent? What else? Beyond that, there are cracks in my exterior. You may not see them but they are there. Luckily, I work in a very lax environment so I have the luxury of showing up in a baseball cap and jeans! That works very well when I don't feel like showering. Which happens frequently. I know, that sounds awful, doesn't it!? Feel free to gasp aloud. So how functional is that? Ooh...personal hygiene is suffering! Look out...that's a sign!

On the weekends, I spend a gross amount of time in bed (or on the couch.) Not sleeping because we all know how that situation is. No, I just need to rest and don't feel like doing much. My job isn't stressful but after a week of working I'm drained. Uh oh...maybe she's not so "high functioning...?"

I'm not really a social person. Well, I *can* be but I need some encouragement. Once I get into the groove I can do it but you generally have to get the cattle prod out (to get me off the couch, remember?) Did all that hypomanic euphoria (and subsequent disappearance thereof) permanently clip my social butterfly wings? I just don't have the energy anymore. Hmmm...the functionality meter is dipping...

What makes me social? Booze! If there's one thing that will give me a taste of the "good ol' days" it's a drink of anything alcoholic. But it's the Sword of Damocles, that's for sure--in a lot of ways. It's not good for my head, it's not good for my relationship...it's just not good at all. Well, it is but it has a price. So I try and keep that at a minimum. I have a long self-medication history so it's a slippery slope. Okay...so functionality's a coin-toss with this one. Just my cross to bear...

So in the end, I still don't know how "functional" I am. But I do know one thing. With Bipolar and pretty much all of the other disorders out there where triggers can make them worse, you can go from functioning quite well to being barely able to take care of yourself at all in no time flat. Been there, lived through it.

And speaking of functionality, I have to go back to work tomorrow. Vacation's over! I may be a bit absent from blogging as I am going to be swamped. But you never know...I might be able to fit it in. Depends how "high functioning" I am...

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year (Again...)

So last night was okay. We went over to some friends' and had dinner and played Trivial Pursuit. We started with the "90's Edition" and then for a real laugh went way back in time to the original "Genus I." My partner made a very good comment that because so much has changed over time, some of the answers were actually wrong (i.e. there is no USSR, the collapse of Berlin Wall etc...) but perhaps we were over thinking things... Anyway, we played in partnered teams just to move things along and did just fine. I've played that game since it first came out and I was a kid. It's great and because I love all things trivia it's always fun.

They have a sweet old(er) dog as well so I spent a fair amount of time curled up on the couch cuddling with him. He's not that old but he has Cushing's Syndrome so our friends are beginning to wonder just how much more doggie life he has in him left(?) We're not sure but he still gets around.

I tried to find a suitable picture of a French Brittany as that is his breed but I couldn't. If you don't know (as I am terrible with breeds of animals and really, all types of flora and fauna!) think something like a cross between border collie markings (only with spots!) and sort of spaniel-like features around the face and ears.

So basically that was about it. We watched pathetic entertainment on television and wondered why on earth anyone would want to go to Times Square or any other large, packed to the gills Metropolitan Centre or even pseudo/other Metropolitan Centres as we watched bizarre regional coverage and just shook our heads at the choice of "performers" on stage. We truly are a world embarrassment. Oh Canada, indeed!

And I seem to remember more coverage of cities around the world and all of that--speaking of being an embarrassment and who puts on a better show. Not that it's a competition but it is kind of funny to just watch all of the ridiculous spectacle. I only caught a glimpse of London. I know it was a big deal for the "Millennium." Haha...Y2K...all the computers crashing and all of that...everyone was so scared!

Anyway, it really doesn't matter. It's just another year. Sorry, don't mean to rain on the parade but whoop-de-doo. Just more challenges ahead...but...well, maybe some good stuff too. That would be nice.