Full Circle

Every so often, life makes you painfully aware of how far you have come. Life chose to do this as I drove up to a new location to meet my therapist during one of the lowest weeks I’ve had with depression to date. I thought everything looked too familiar…

I’m sitting with my therapist telling her about how I’m ready for all this suffering to be over when I remembered why it looked familiar. I could see the place through the tiny window in the room – the place I first went to therapy eight years earlier. I couldn’t help to think about how far I have come, rather how far I haven’t come. I still don’t have friends, I am still suffering with my weight and self-esteem, I am still going through crippling depression. Life had come full circle and I couldn’t help but cry.

Had I known I would be sitting across the street eight years later, balling my eyes out about suicide and self harm, about my weight and lack of friendships, I would have killed myself at 15. If only I could go back in time and tell 15 year old me that I was right, it isn’t worth it to live in this world. I couldn’t help but wonder if in eight years I’ll be having the same revelation.

At the same time, I was thinking about all the experiences I have had in the last eight years. Both the good AND the bad. Life isn’t about weighing the good and the bad; it’s about enjoying the good. It’s such a damn shame that depression makes this difficult. I’ve been so focused on my mental health that I’ve let life pass me by. Eight years has gone by and I haven’t let anything change. I’m in my own way, standing between myself and my happiness. In eight more years, after I’ve done everything in the world to change my reality, I can revisit whether or not life is worth it. But for now I need to keep on trucking along.

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Venting: “There is help out there, don’t worry.”

Disclaimer: Pardon the somewhat graphic nature of this post, also I am writing this stream of consciousness style (as I do with all my venting posts), so no judgement please. Trigger warning for sure.

***** IMPORTANT: If you are just now starting to look for help, I highly recommend that you read this carefully, if you do at all. I am a bitter old woman when it comes to the mental health field because of my experience with it. There IS help, you just have to look in the right places and be patient. For me, this makes me angry considering my current situation. It saved my life when I heard it first, eight years ago. So please, get help, just know that it takes incredible patience and hope. It will be ok; it just takes time. And they don’t always tell you that when they say “things will get better.”

 

Ok, now for the angry venting you have all been waiting for:

“There is help out there, don’t worry.” This is a statement that I have heard over and over again and it pisses me off to no end. As someone who has struggled so much for so long, I don’t believe this anymore. Sure, there is help for some, but there isn’t help for all. The mental health field in general does not take anyone seriously who does not have a gun to their head.

Psychiatry

Psychiatry drives me crazy, which is ironic. It takes months to get into a psychiatrist and then another month at least to see if the medication is going to work. If it doesn’t work, it takes another month to try the next one that likely won’t work either. Something like fifty-percent of people do not respond to antidepressants at all, so it’s trial and error and trial and error, over and over and over again, until a patient finally gives up. What pisses me off the most is that it takes so long to get into a psychiatrist. As someone who needs a high level of psychiatric care, being told I won’t be able to see a psychiatrist for three months is grounds to cause a freak out that lands me in the ED or inpatient – or worse.

Therapy

As far as therapy goes, yes, it is wonderful for some. Especially wonderful in conjunction with medication that works. Many people can get through a bout of depression with therapy alone. Whether it be DBT or CBT, it can change lives. However, paying for therapy is impossible for many struggling people. It is difficult to find a therapist in network and if they aren’t in network, that’s probably $100+ a week. Even if the therapist is in network, a $30 copay a week is not feasible for all. Especially for those who can’t work because of their mental illness or addiction. And that is only if you are going to therapy once a week. I am so blessed to have top tier insurance through my parents, without it I don’t think I would be here today. However, I am now looking at three therapy appointments a week and until I get to my out-of-pocket maximum, which thanks to inpatient I am getting very close, this is still a burden to pay for. It also takes time to find a therapist that works for you. It is a lot like trying to find a compatible loved one – it takes time and money. In conclusion, therapy does not help everyone.

ED

The emergency department probably angers me the most. So either you try to kill yourself, someone intervenes because it either didn’t work or they catch you in the act, or you voluntarily walk yourself in (as I have twice). Prior to the previous inpatient treatment, I was unaware that you could just check yourself in to inpatient programs directly. However, I can only imagine that you are much more likely to be accepted if you are admitted through the ER. That was the case with getting into IOP. Prior to going to the ED, I was told it would be three months before I could start IOP, but after going to the ED, I was in the next day.

Additionally, the ED is TERRIFYING. If you can avoid it, I highly recommend admitting yourself directly to an inpatient facility. The first time I went to the ER, I was traumatized by what I saw. They offered no help and they simply sent me home because they had no beds for me. The second time I went in, they were much more accommodating. This probably was because I was about to kill myself and I was committed involuntarily, so they actually took me seriously. I get so pissed off because I feel like you aren’t taken seriously if you haven’t attempted suicide.

 

In conclusion, I apologize for the post obviously being written from a place of deep anger. I am at a point where I feel like I have gotten all the help I can get and I still feel incredibly depressed. I have tried almost all the medication I can and I don’t know what other options there are for me, except for ECT. Also, this is clearly a chronic, genetic mental illness that will be recurrent throughout my lifetime. I was told by a psychiatrist (don’t get me started about how angry this makes me) that each subsequent episode gets worse and worse because the neural pathways are strengthened in your brain each time. As a neuroscience major, this makes perfect sense to me, but as a human being, why the hell would she tell me this?!? I have yet to confirm that statement, although I doubt its validity, but it still is burned into my brain as a possibility. I have exhausted my options and I don’t know what’s next. This is a lifelong battle that I know I can’t win, so what is the point of continuing to try?

Also, if you are one of the few reading this, please let me know what kind of posts you want to see. I would love to hear your suggestions as well. I have a ton of ideas and I don’t know what I want to post next!

Blast From The Past: March 8th, 2011

I found this poem from March 8th, 2011. And wow, it’s crazy. Also, I realized I am a horrible poet. My writing has improved drastically, thank goodness!

 

Why won’t the pain go away?

Even when I fake a smile,

the pain just grows

knowing not even faking will help.

 

With others I smile, laugh

but alone I cannot dream of these.

I hate myself.

I hate my life.

I want to die.

 

Is it bad to pray to die?

The thought of driving into

other cars head on is daily,

I am in fear of driving alone.

 

When my best friend moves,

I will have no one.

If I am not dead by then, I will do it.

I have already made up my mind.

 

I like being hopeless –

it’s a feeling I can feel.

I do not want to change,

I want to get worse

 

Lately I have been too tired

to cut or to hurt deeper,

but once I am awake,

I hope for the painless

world of sleep.

 

The sight of my blood

makes me happy,

the sight of people

pisses me off.

But this is alright.

 

The fat on my body –

I am craving my anorexia.

Or even better – cancer.

For if I died naturally,

I wouldn’t have to hurt

my family or my few friends.

They do not care anyways.

 

I want to go to treatment,

somewhere far away.

If my mom knew how I feel,

I would be carted off to the hospital.

 

I wish I could escape

without hurting whom I love,

but this is necessary.

And it must be done.

BPD: An Emotional Sunburn

Yesterday, my temporary “emergency” therapist at my university, who is extensively trained in DBT and working with BPD individuals, mentioned that having BPD is a lot like having a really bad sunburn. When you have a sunburn, you are hypersensitive to anything and everything touching that area, you’re hot to the touch, and basic things become difficult because if anything touches the sunburn, you will scream out or moan in pain. When you have a sunburn, you avoid going back out into the sun.

When she said that, I instantly felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. Hearing this metaphor for BPD and sunburn made me accept myself a little more. This made my blurry vision of the world a little bit clearer and I smiled for the first time in a while. I wish I could tell everyone I interact with regularly that I have an emotional sunburn, so please do not be alarmed when I lose my temper, cry, get overwhelmed, or start to freak out.

Lately my sunburn has been so bad that I developed blisters. From a new diagnosis, to being forced to eat despite ana/mia screaming in my ear, to being involuntarily committed to the inpatient hospital, my emotions are on high alert. I have been avoiding the sun completely – both literally and figuratively, actually (thanks, agoraphobia). My therapist made me feel like this is ok until my blisters heal, and the skin begins to repair itself until back at the usual baseline sunburn that BPD individuals live with. I was validated and validation means everything to me, since I frequently have feelings and reactions that are invalidated because they are over the top.

So once I use up this metaphorical bottle of aloe vera, I will be ready to deal with the emotions I have buried deep inside of me. I am terrified of this, but it is necessary for the healing process. I am hoping that DBT is the answer for me, I am actually hopeful about this treatment. All my fingers are crossed in hope that DBT will make life worth living again.

Current Psychiatric Medications

Updated After Inpatient Stay:

Abilify/aripiprazole: 2.5mg/day **due to CYP2D6 genotype**

Vistaril/hydroxyzine: 50mg/as needed for insomnia/anxiety

Lamictal/lamotrigine: 75mg/day **titrating to 200mg**

BuSpar/buspirone: 40mg/day

Klonopin/clonazepam: 1mg/as needed for anxiety/panic

**These will probably change after all of my discharge appointments within the next week. I am absolutely terrified of the weight gain associated with abilify so I am going to see if there is a better option. I am also worried that I am no longer on an antidepressant. I have had horrible insomnia so the vistaril may change, maybe to Ativan because that helped in the ER. The abilify is making me so dizzy and I assume that is what caused the Orthostatic Hypotension in the hospital. I assume that is because of my poor metabolism via CYP2D6, the primary CYP involved with  abilify metabolism. Another post about that later.

Inpatient Day Three? Four?: 4-23-17

**Written on 4-23-17, published 4-27-17 from my inpatient journal**

Sunday (NOT) Funday

Today went well, relative to the fact that I’m stuck in here with no access to the outside world. I am sick of eating and I am dreading everyone being on my case when I get out of here. I am going to be on a strict diet plan which will suck.

I coped well today despite being very stressed about life and finals. If I don’t get discharged in the morning [Monday], I’m going to be in a really rough place. I don’t want to freak out, but I will. I don’t want to be sedated and put in isolation, but I may need it.

There are places on my bedroom wall that are clearly painted over and I’m so curious as to what is underneath. I am painfully curious about all of this and about everyone’s story. I eavesdrop like crazy. The dramatic woman here (who almost got a code called on her for being violent yesterday) was somewhat more calm, so Inpatient of Our Lives was not a good soap opera today. Maybe tomorrow.

Almost passed out this morning (BP standing 80/50) and felt dizzy all day. Super anxious about 5am vitals in the morning, because that is two days in a row that this has happened. I am going to try not to take my new nighttime medicine (Vistaril) to see if that is what is causing it (aside from a possible refeeding syndrome). But the anxiety will keep me awake and the sleeping medicine won’t be there to help me sleep. Oh well…

Ok time to hide my tiny pencil contraband. Goodnight.

Inpatient Day One: 4-20-17

**Written on 4-20-17, published 4-27-17 from my inpatient journal**

Well, what a doozy it has been. I was feeling quite awful the last time I posted and I went to the ER. I had taken six shots, knowing fully well I was being self-destructive and that it would land me in the ER if I didn’t self-harm horribly or attempt to OD. I knew I would purposefully trigger myself. I knew I would end up self-harming. I didn’t know I would end up legitimately wanting to kill myself, and preparing the pills and alcohol. I freaked out and began self-harming like never before. I have always believed strongly that I would never be able to kill myself because of my aunt, so the fact that I was willing and able shocked my system. After about 40 cuts, one needing stitches, and six shots, I asked my roommate to take me to the ER.

I am writing this on a yellow legal pad with an illegal pencil I snuck into my room in an inpatient unit at a private mental hospital. I took an hour and a half ambulance ride to a hospital that actually had a bed for someone like me. I am absolutely horrified. I feel like my problems still aren’t bad enough to warrant this and I feel like I am wasting so much of my parents’ money (**I no longer believe this, but at the time I fully believed this**). I see the thinner, sicker girls, and it is so triggering. I am still fat and yet they put me on this stupid eating disorder protocol. I don’t know, I am very exhausted, but I want to document my experiences. I’m sure I will post more details after the fact.

What have I done…

Inpatient Day Three: 4-22-17

**Written on 4-22-17, published 4-27-17 from my inpatient journal**

Today I was exhausted. I passed out this morning during 5am vitals. From sitting to standing, my blood pressure dropped, my pulse increased dangerously, and my vision slowly turned black. Orthostatic hypotension I suppose, but I don’t know what is causing it. I am so tired from being woken up by check-ups throughout the night, from 5am vitals, from constant groups, from being forced to eat and being watched, from not being allowed in my room for an hour after every meal. I want to go home so badly. I hate eating and I want to go back to restricting. I just need to figure out finals, ugh it is adding so much stress and making things worse.

Keeping this short and sweet because I can’t keep my eyes open anymore.

I adore the people on the eating disorder protocol with me. Joy and Megan are angels and I am not sure I would make it through this without them keeping me as sane as they can while inpatient at a mental hospital. The dry, crude humor and sarcasm with Megan has me laughing for the first time in a while. I wish I could make Joy and Megan’s pain go away… They deserve the world and then some. Everyone here does. It hurts me that everyone here is hurting so terribly.

I got a lot of positive affirmations today. People told me I have great energy and I bring a light to their day. I was also told I was gorgeous and that my beauty is awe inspiring. This made me feel so good, but I still don’t believe it.

Okay must sleep. Goodnight.

I have to be discharged Monday for finals. Please….

 

Venting: Torturous Dreams

I’ve always loved to dream. Ever since I can remember, I have had vivid, colorful journeys across space and time after I close my eyes at night. I escaped to countries that don’t exist, flown across cities, and even took a trip into space once or twice. With medicine, my dreams got even more vivid. I used to think I was insane because of how messed up some of my dreams got, but my grandma assured me it was just a sign of great creativity. I willingly accepted her explanation.

When times are tough, however, my dreams get nasty. I get murdered, stabbed, tortured. My worst fears come to life. With vivid, lifelike dreams, comes both amazing adventures and terrifying nightmares. To me, that’s still worth it.

Last night, I had two dreams I can recall, both of them involving not getting into this PHP program. People may think I’m overreacting about this program, but to me it is life and death. Without it, I will have to admit myself to the local psych hospital and probably have to stay inpatient, because if I don’t, there’s no telling where my complete breakdown will lead. The second dream shook me the most. Normally, I am aware of the fact that I am dreaming, that my alternate reality is not in fact my reality. However, after waking myself up in my first dream, I apparently woke up into my second dream thinking it was reality.

I was in the hospital waiting room for another appointment when I got the call. I told them I had to take the call and I went out into a quiet hallway to talk. They immediately told me I didn’t get in and I dropped my phone. I instantly fell to the floor in shock. I was crying like I have never cried before. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak. The hallway suddenly became busy and the people stepped over me and pointed and laughed. The nurses walked right past me and told me I was a joke for thinking I had it bad enough to need to be in a PHP program. No one was helping me.

I tried to wake myself up, to no avail. I remembered that I had woken myself up from my first dream, so this must be real life. I began telling the nurses I was going to kill myself and they supplied me with the pills to do it. They laughed and told me I wasn’t worth taking up a bed in the ER or the psych hospital, even if I was going to commit suicide.

I eventually woke myself up and I was curled in a ball, crying my eyes out. I was so shaken. My grandma, who is very into dreams and spirituality, once told me that every character in your dreams represent a part of yourself and I believe that wholeheartedly. Every aspect of my being was represented in that dream and I cannot get away from those parts of me anymore, not at night and certainly not during the day.