Contemplating

My friend on here, The Shameful Narcissist (how does one link to you?!), has blogs with themes.  Meaning, she writes about writing and reading and gaming, etc.  I’m personally wondering if I could ever do anything like that.  I have a nice chunk of things I could definitely put into weekly posts.  

The thing is, I usually write things that are mostly about mental health.  The problem with that whole thing is that there are only so many ways to say “stop the stigma.”  And my knowledge about mental health is what I experience and what some close friends experience.  The other day, I was trying to find other kinds of mental health things I could write about, but those I haven’t done yet are things that I have no experience with, and I’m not about to write about something that I know nothing about.

That’s why my writing has been so sparse.  So, what would you like me to write about?  I have religion, writing, watching, my cats, LJ, art (mostly graphic art), and a few others of which are slipping my mind right now.

So… Either these suggestions or things you may be curious about… Let me know.

xoxo

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To the Woman Who Glared at Me When I Used My Food Stamps

I see your glare.  Don’t for one moment think I’m oblivious.  Of course, you made it pretty obvious… so I would know of your disapproval.  I don’t think you’re looking at what I’m buying, though.  It’s not junk food or desserts.  But, you probably don’t care.  You probably think that I’m taking advantage of the system.  It was pretty clear to me when you passed by me and made quite the loud comment “nice purse.”

Yes, I do have a nice purse.  But you were at least five feet away from me.  I invite you to take a closer look.  It’s quite well-worn.  It’s got scuff marks on it.  And dirt I can’t get off.  Some of the stitching is frayed.  Oh, and it was a gift.  I guess I’d have to tell you that one, though.  Even I know you can’t be a mind reader.

Maybe you should follow me out to my car.  The 2002 Subaru that has some rust on it.  The one whose oil light doesn’t go on, and just by luck I found out it had no oil in it.  Let’s take a drive.  You hear that whine when I press on the gas?  That’s my transmission.  I don’t know when it’s going to fail.

Oh!  How about I show you my bank account statements?  You know, the one where I can’t even have an account in my own name?  Wait… then you’d see my iPhone.  But then I’d have to speak to you again.  The phone is at least three years old.  My dad gave it to me.  I only pay $40/month for service.  That’s cheaper than those pay as you go plans.

You can come home with me.  It’s a quaint house.  It’s my mom’s.  We’re two months behind on the mortgage (but I’d have to tell you this too).  But while I’m there I can show you a couple of things.  Like, the letter from Social Security that says I get just a little over $1100 a month.  And maybe my med container.  I’d be happy to let you know what they’re all for.

The thing is, though, I shouldn’t have to do this to prove that I actually do need food stamps.  No one should.  99% of people need them.  There will always be the ones who are working the system, and it’s pathetic that people like you think we’re all like that.  There are bad apples everywhere.

So, I urge you next time not to judge.  People on food stamps may have nice things, but you have no idea the story behind them. Perhaps they used to have great jobs and got laid off and could barely afford their house, and they can’t sell it because it’s worth less than they owe.  You never know.  So stop being so judgemental.  There are reasons, and we all have different stories.

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I’ll Take My Klonopin and You Can Shut Up

Lately, there have been movements to try to eliminate the use of benzodiazepines as a treatment for anxiety.  They, among them Klonopin and Ativan, have been used for years as first-line treatment of anxiety, along with Xanax.  I have been on Klonopin since around 2005, with breaks when I didn’t have health insurance and the few months I was treated by this horrible doctor.  I haven’t changed dosage since 2009.

For years, there have been tests and issues about it being addictive.  Meaning, the longer you’ve been on it, the more you have to take.  Now, one time one of my doctor’s wanted to double how much I took.  That was a catastrophe because my body wasn’t going “I need more for this to work,” it was going “I was fine before, this is causing me to fall asleep in the middle of the day.”  On the other side, the horrible doctor I mentioned before (and he was horrible for many many reasons) would not prescribe benzodiazepines because of this whole addiction thing.  He instead prescribed me a strong pain med that had been approved to treat anxiety.  Yes, you heard right.  A STRONG PAIN MED.  For the next three months I was completely out of it and started gaining back the weight that I had worked so hard to lose (this was the legit time I lost it).  Finally, I got taken off of it and had a new doc who re-prescribed the klonopin.

The levee had broken, however, and I could find no way to lose the weight I had gained, and then had a boss that wanted to be able to be in touch with me during my lunches (I was in the middle of a pedicure once, and she called with an emergency that I needed to solve, and I had to leave the nail place with a half-complete pedicure).  So, I couldn’t go to the classes at the gym like I used to, I never had time to come in earlier, and the classes they offered after I was done my shift were like, body-building and stuff like that.  Needless to say… yeah.

There have been (very few) times in the past when I’d miss a dose or a day, etc.  None of these times had me freaking out.  The time I had to wait a week before I could get some due to the break in communication between doc and pharmacy was a bit nasty, though.  But not anything to write home about.

People keep insisting how horrible these meds are and that they will cause patients the need to take more for it to work the same way, and that if it were lowered, we’d lose it.

Now, I am not exactly like other people, so this is my opinion only.  Most people who would take the dosage I’ve been taking since around 2005 would pass out for 48 hours.  My dad got extremely worried one time when I took 1mg a hour or so before I was going to leave and drive for 2 hours.  I had to reassure him I would be fine because in his experience, only taking .5mg would make him super-tired.  I’d never even started on a mg… I started at 3/4 of the dose I take now.

The thing is, it wasn’t as if I’d been bumping my dosage up every year… I’d been on the same freaking dose for over ten years now.  Taking more makes me tired.

So, I really feel bad for the next people needing medication for anxiety if the talk about addiction continues as it is.  What are they going to use?  Are they going to prescribe the small number of anti-depressants that also help with anxiety?  What about the people who can’t take antidepressants?  They would be taking away the class of drugs that actually work independently to treat anxiety.  I’m sorry, but if you’re going to do something like that, have a back-up.  Develop something else.  Find other things that work.  Because if they don’t do that, it’s going to become an even bigger problem than they can even imagine.

 

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How It Feels When You Have to Work with a Mental Illness

I, for one, am terrified of working again, since at my last full-time job was when I struggled so much with the noises and anxiety that I thought customers were out to kill me.  I tried a part-time job where I only worked 8 hours per week at most.  I made it four months before I broke and had panic attacks almost every day I had to go in.

Those are my thoughts, though, not everyone else’s. But the common things such as knowing you aren’t working at your best, or you feel trapped, or you sit there every day and try to calm your anxiety, which leads us back to knowing you aren’t working at your best.

With severe mental illness, like Bipolar I, there’s much more than that, and you sometimes get lost in your own head…. and one day you can be a productive employee, staying late, coming in early to make sure you get all your work done (and your manager praises you).  Then, you can fly off the handle or you can crash down into the pit.  It’s dangerous, and that same manager who was praising you before has to sit you down and talk to you about your work performance.

In thought disorders, like Schizophrenia, there are intrusive thoughts, having hallucinations, getting depressed, not understanding what’s going on sometimes, and sometimes you think you’ve gotten your opinion out there, when no one understood a word.  And, in some cases, extreme paranoia.  There are people who, once medicated, can live a normal life and do the same things that someone without a thought disorder can do.

Which leads me to the subject of medication.  I have Schizoaffective Disorder, bipolar type.  I take 6 different medications that help a lot for me to stay in reality.  Without those meds, I can’t form complete sentences.  And then, if properly medicated, a person can live a completely normal life.  I mean, I might be able to, but it would have to be in a position where I didn’t see or help people.  And I have extremely bad concentration as well.  So, I’m all pro-medication.

Some people, if they read this and know me personally, would say I am completely normal.  Only one person has ever witnessed the symptoms and helped me stop what I was doing and very calmly told me it will pass and then start talking about random subjects that keep my mind from wondering again.

So, extreme kudos to the mentally ill out there leading productive lives and are on the right medication.  You’re an inspiration.

To all of those naysayers out there who think I’m lazy or don’t really have a mental illness…. come sit in my head for awhile.

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Mixed Episodes and Suicide

Author’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

 

My disorders are ridiculously confusing to people because for some odd reason they split anxiety into, like, six or something.  Anyway, I’m going to focus on the bipolar part of my Schizoaffective disorder.

I’m sure a nice handful of you know what a mixed episode is.  For those who don’t, the easy way to explain it is that it’s a state in Bipolar Disorder that has both depression and mania at the same time.  These are definitely the most prevalent of my mood episodes.

Now, there are two ways that could work.  You may be on a manic high, impulsive, racing thoughts, spending too much money, etc., but you also have a little bit of depression that argues with mania about how many hours to sleep, if the creativity is pointless, that you should stay home instead of going out.  You get my drift.

Then, there’s depression with a nice little destroying cycle of mania.  Mania bugs you to get out of bed even if you haven’t even slept for 5 hours.  Mania wants you to take a shower, but on nice clothes, do your makeup, and GO OUT.  Depression doesn’t want this, and you might get through showering, but the rest is impossible.  Then mania turns into rage and/or irritability, so you become the lump beneath your comforter itching to get every once of anger out.

Of course, there is something else to consider.  Now, I’ve heard this spoken to me many times, and have experience.  The second scenario listed above can have you so depressed and suicidal, but you don’t want to move.  When mania comes in, those suicidal thoughts?  Yeah… unlike depression mania gives you that little extra push to actually act on those suicidal ideations. This is why the mixed state suicide rate is well above any other mood cycle.

Now, suicidal thoughts and actions are part of a lot of people’s lives, mental illness or not (yes, that means you don’t have to have depression or anxiety or bipolar to think about suicide).  When others (who have never thought this way) see depression, they immediately think “suicide” because of that damn thing called stigma.  You can have suicidal thoughts with depression, or you have no suicidal thoughts with depression.

Life’s tough for me.  As I said, I’m primarily in a mixed episode almost all the time, and it varies depending on what the illness throws at me.  I have suicidal thoughts.  It’s been this way for years… a lot of years.  I have them almost everyday.  I’ve even attempted suicide about a handful of times, but the last time was in 2006.  I still wonder what would’ve happened if I succeeded.  Not where I would go, but what my family would do.  But I know that if the thought turns into a plan, I go to the hospital.  I DRAG myself there.

Never dismiss thoughts, though, as one tiny thing could happen to make a plan, but you go for it because you don’t have the plan to stop the plan, if that makes sense.

As in the author’s note at the beginning of this entry, please call/text etc. for help if those thoughts are making their way to an actual plan.

Love yourself.  Trust at least one person you can talk to about this.  You may feel like it, but you’re never alone in this fight.

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