What happens when your therapist looks at you and tells you, “I can’t help you anymore. Its time to transfer you to someone else”? What happens when you have major trust and abandonment issues and this happens suddenly? Well the first thing I did was cry, then I totally shut down. I never thought I would hear those words come out of her mouth, but they did. My therapist could no longer help me so she referred me to someone more qualified to help with PTSD. Was I devastated? Yes!! Did it hurt? Yes. I cried for a week. I couldn’t think about it without crying. I cried at work, I cried at home, I cried in the car. I do have to give myself some credit though. I did call and make an appointment with the new therapist even though I am terrified to totally start all over again. I’m not going to lie. This sucks. I am having horrible anxiety about the whole seeing someone new idea. Tuesday was my last day with my current therapist and I did ok until the end, then I cried at the end. I felt like I was losing a very good friend. I almost am in tears right now thinking about it. She has been the one that I talk to about everything for the last 4 1/2 years!!! Now I don’t have her at all.
So, when do I see this new therapist? I see her tomorrow. As I said above, I am terrified. I have so much anxiety that I am ready to jump out of my skin. I haven’t been eating or sleeping. I have come close to even canceling the appointment so I can just go back to my other therapist, but I know deep down in my heart she has to do this and she is doing this for me. It still doesn’t make it any easier. Anyway, back to the new therapist. I see her tomorrow (Thursday) for my initial intake and so I can learn about this type of therapy. It is called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy or EMDR for short. I talked to one of the counselors at work and she told me that it is VERY effective in the treatment of PTSD. I did a little research on it and watched a few Youtube videos on it, but it still boggles my brain as to how it works. I am willing to give it a try because I want to get better. I am scared that it may not work for me. I know I need to stop thinking the worst, but that’s how I am.
I also am trying another new thing tomorrow called biofeedback. I am not 100% sure what it is, but it is supposed to help with my anxiety. I am willing to give it a try. It is supposed to help lower or even eliminate the need for medications. That would be awesome to not have to take my anxiety medications any more. Well, I would still have to have them with the OCD but for my general anxiety I wouldn’t have to. Anyway, that is going on tomorrow morning, then at noon I have to go to my other appointment with the new therapist. I think it is going to be a stressful and exhausting day for me. Hopefully I will get some good sleep tonight, but I doubt that because I am on call.
That is all I have for now. I do have more updates, but they will need to wait for another day. I will also keep you updated on the EMDR therapy as well as the biofeedback. I hope this blog finds you well.
Well, today I had a little mini meltdown over my medications. I know it may be a stupid reason but I had had enough. I have been having some problems with my back lately and one thing I do in response to pain is throw little tantrums. I know it sounds childish but I get grumpy when I am in pain. So I walked out of the house with my back and my hip bothering me and as I closed, locked, and checked the door (yep there is the OCD right there); I realized I didn’t grab my daily stew of medications. Well for some odd reason that threw me over the edge of the river and I got a little upset. I turned around and went huffing back to the door (which was locked because remember I checked it) and tried to open it. Duh, its locked! Ok that made me madder, so I go to unclock it and for whatever reason the key was giving me a fit. Well an already mad Blonde Angel got really mad and kicked the door. I am glad I was wearing boots because it hurt a little, but also when I went to go kick, it pulled something in my already hurting back so I am hurting more. Long story short, I finally got my key to work and got my meds and went to work but It really got to me this morning. Why do I have to be the one with the mental illness and taking medications every day? Why can’t I just be like others that don’t take medications? I can tell this it going to be a Monday for me.
I like to think I am a strong person. I know I am allowed to have some days where I am weak but lately I feel like there are more weak days than strong days. This is not a medication issue. Some of you may think, “Well Angel, how do you know?” Overall as a whole I am feeling better. My medications are finally working and even the doctor and therapist think so too. I believe them and I think they are too. There is just so much that I am dealing with in my life and that I am bringing up from the past, that it just plain hurts and makes me feel so weak. I can’t go into details because there is some pretty graphic information and honestly I don’t want that information out there, but know that I had a rough life. No my parents didn’t beat me or mistreat me. I grew up comfortably that way. There were forms of abuse that happened that scarred me for life and until today, I never knew how messed up I really am. I have a lot that I need to work through and slowly I am. Some days I just don’t feel like I am recovering fast enough.
Ok so 4 months ago I attempted suicide and it really scared me. It scared me to the point that I am terrified of death. 4 months ago I was in the psych ward of the hospital. This was the first time I have ever really reached out for help. Now I am just wanting to feel better. I want all of this bad stuff to go away and I want to be able to go on with my life. The only problem is I want to just push it down again and I know I can’t do that. It just seems like #1 Recovery takes too long. #2 Recovery hurts. With those 2 things it makes me impatient. My therapist keeps telling me recovery is a process, and I need to trust the process. I do trust it, I just want it to move faster. (Ok Angel SLOW DOWN!!) I just need to be patient.
So where am I in recovery? As for OCD, I am doing better. I am having less flare ups but when I do have them, they make up for not having them as often. The intensity can be pretty bad. I am finding my triggers and working on not being triggered. The medications are also helping. In the PTSD front, well Things aren’t as good there. I have been having lots of nightmares and flashbacks. I also have been having memories come up that I have forgotten about. Depression is doing better with the change of medications. I feel better but I still get days where I am depressed but they are also not as frequent. I am amazed at how much better this new medication works. So overall, I guess that I am recovering in some aspects but there are others where I am not making much progress. I guess I really need to realize that I am making baby steps. I never knew recover would be so…….tough.
I am a very calm and patient person. Why am I saying this? There isn’t much that I get frustrated with. I found my match though. As many of my darlings know, I am in recovery and right now working on new meds to find out what is right for me. I had been put on a combo of meds that I had hoped was going to work. My obsessions were getting less and less. My rapid thoughts were slowing. Hey sounds great right? It was until this med reared its ugly head and showed me it wanted to take my anxiety and crank it into high gear. It also took my dreams and turned them into nightmares. I would wake up in a total panic. We tried to spread out the dose during the day. The nightmares stopped but I would wake up at night with anxiety. I hoped maybe this would go away so I dealt with it, but the worst was yet to come. This med made me very tired. I felt like a zombie. I struggled to work. I went from not drinking hardly any caffeine to drinking many cups of coffee a day! On my days off, all I wanted to do was sleep. When I say sleep I mean sleep off and on all day and all night. There was no stopping how tired I was. I was starting to get more depressed. I actually moved up my appointment with my psychiatrist by over a week because I was getting so bad. Something needed to change and soon. I was beginning to not care about anything again. I didn’t care if I lived or died. I wasn’t suicidal but if I died I wouldn’t have cared. Not good! I was told I needed to bring all of this up to the psychiatrist. I got a note book and I wrote EVERYTHING down that was going on and how I was feeling.
Yesterday I took that notebook to my appointment and I told her everything. I almost started to cry I was so overwhelmed with it all. After it was all out on the table, we decided that the med combo I was on just wasn’t the combo for me. She took me off the newer med and put me on something different. She told me to hang in there. This is the worst part. I know this is the worst part but I just want to feel better already!! I’m tired of being depressed. I just want to be happy, BUT I know this is necessary in order to get there. This is where I’ve met my match for patience. I WANT TO BE BETTER!!!!!!
Ok so moving along, last night I was flustered and overwhelmed and I relapsed. I am not happy with myself. I am very angry. Today is my first day on the new med and there is one huge thing I notice……..I am not a zombie!!!! I am tired from having a bad night last night but it’s not my medicated zombie state tired. That alone is huge! It has helped my attitude a little. Now I have to wait a few weeks to see if this med is going to help me without the horrible side effects. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
So why did I write this blog? I am one that is afraid of being a pest. I don’t want to complain. I learned when it comes to meds and how I am feeling that I do need to speak up about things. A few years ago I would have just quit all my meds and gone without until I hit a crisis and had to go back on them again. I am slowly learning to speak up about how I am feeling. Maybe it’s how you are supposed to be feeling, but maybe it’s not and you need to try something different. You are your best advocate. If you have a concer, speak up!
As I sit here and read about different mental illnesses and trying to understand my own mental illnesses, I find one common this with all illnesses. It seems as if everyone with a mental illness is ashamed of their illness. Yes, this includes myself. I do not openly admit I fight daily with my different illnesses. For me personally, its easier to just hide it away from the world and pretend they don’t exist. Now what happens when you have those times when you struggle? You can’t just pretend your illnesses don’t exist at this point. There is a point in life where you have to admit to other (family, friends, etc.) that you have a mental illness. Am I saying to run out and scream it out to the world? No. Maybe we are the answer to stopping stigma. Maybe its time we stand up and say that mental illness is just as serious as any physical illness and needs to be treated as such. Sounds great right? Why can’t we as patient’s do this? What are we afraid of?
I look at my own mental illnesses and I think about what I am ashamed of. Lets look at each diagnosis. My main diagnosis: Major Depression. Everyone gets depressed at some point in their life, so why am I ashamed that mine doesn’t just go away? I am often looked at as a strong person. I am the one that people go to when they need help. I am the one who is always there no matter what. If they found out about my depression they might see me as weak. Why is this a bad thing? I am a human being. I have my weak moments. Well then lets add on another diagnosis: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. While this is mainly under control I have my days and moments where obsessions and compulsions come out and play. Ok so this one may be one that can be embarrassing with compulsions and all, but when people see me doing compulsions or hear me obsessing, they might think I am (GULP) crazy. What they fail to see though is that I am not able to control this due to chemical imbalances in my brain. When I get stressed out or even have too much caffeine, my brain decides to just snap into “OCD Brain”. I am not perfect. I have never claimed to be. While I am a total perfectionist I am not perfect. OCD is just part of my chemical imbalance. BUT if that isn’t enough lets look at one more final diagnosis: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Now this one I really don’t like to show. It hides in a little box in the back of my brain. Only those who personally know me personally know about this one. I have had some traumatic things in my past. This happens to people sometimes. BUT I am ashamed because it happened to me. WAIT!!! HOLD THE PHONE!!! I am ashamed because I am the victim??? Yes. Its something we are working on in therapy. I shouldn’t be ashamed of this. I am not saying I should go out and proclaim to the world that I have been through these traumas, but I should NOT be ashamed. When I put these all together I think people might think less of me as a person. They may think I am weak. They may think I am crazy. They may think I can’t handle things. What they don’t see is that I am a human that hurts just the same as they do. I am a human who has a chemical imbalance.
Now what can we do about getting rid of mental health stigmas? Good question. If I knew the answer I would have already gotten rid of all stigmas. I think a lot of these stigmas are the product of uneducated people. Mental illness is something that is not easily understood. There are times I can’t explain what I feel. There are times when people who don’t understand something just produce fear thus causing stigmas. Is education the answer? In some cases but not in all cases. We can educate people to a certain point but its hard to explain to people how you feel. Its also hard to open up. There is a certain vulnerability you have to have and those with mental illness have a hard time with that. Ok well I can’t speak for everyone but I do. There is also the fact that not everyday is a good day. I can answer questions people ask me to help them understand as long as its a good day for me. If its not a good day, then I struggle to get out of bed let alone answer questions. That is one reason why you don’t see blogs on a regular basis. Sometimes I am struggling and I can’t write blogs. I can’t come up with a topic to write about. Those are also the days I am often fighting to stay afloat in my life. It happens.
So what are some stigmas you have had to deal with? What do you think would help stop stigmas? How can we help those without mental illness understand?
Nothing will strike such horror in me as when I was told I needed to see a psychiatrist for medication management. (Am I really that crazy?!?!) After being admitted to the psych unit of the hospital (first time for me) and learning my diagnosis (ok well the 3 I was admitted for) I actually was quite terrified to see the psychiatrist. In my mind this meant I was sick enough to not just go to my doctor anymore; I actually needed to see someone more specialized.
Anyways, I was a wreck. I am doing this all alone. I don’t have anyone here with me to help calm me down or to go with me to these appointments. I leave the house and as I am driving my mind is going a million miles an hour. I have no clue what to expect in this appointment. I am not one that trusts easily. I usually take a very long time to trust anyone and here I am supposed to see this doctor and talk to them about my most private secrets (Not many people know about my mental health issues). As I get to the clinic, I am sitting outside in my car and I swear I am going to throw up. Its all real now. I had to pull out my phone and text a friend to help calm me down. I was going to say forget it I am not going. After texting my friend I finally got up the courage to go in and see the doctor.
I am at the window getting registered and there is more paperwork to sign (I am not really surprised) but the one thing that shocked me is they made me sign all of the paperwork at the window. Its not like other places where you would go sit down and fill it out and sign. You sign it as you stand there. Then you go sit and wait. My wait wasn’t too long then a nurse came and got me and got my weight and took me into another room and got my blood pressure and other vitals. Then started asking all the questions and I had to sign consents (yep more paperwork). This entire time I am sitting here shaking and just a nervous wreck. I know the nurse is thinking I am nuts cause I am not saying anything other than answering her questions. Then she goes out of the room and its time to wait for the doctor. This is when it gets real for me. I am looking around the room and just in a panic. I don’t want to talk about my past. I really don’t want to talk about being in the hospital. (Why can’t it be like a medical doctors visit where you just talk about signs and symptoms and then go about your business.) I guess thats one thing I hate about mental illness.
Back on track, The doctor comes in. She seems cool. I liked the fact she was ok with me just saying yes or no when she asked questions. If I told her I couldn’t explain something, she really respected that. Maybe it was because she understood? I don’t know. So anyways Once we were done she changed one med and switched another one. I got back to my car and realized I was in her office for an hour and a half. No wonder I felt mentally exhausted. I guess overall the appointment wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I think my doctor and I are going to get along well but time will tell. I have been told to give it a chance so I am going to do just that.
Its been almost a week since my appointment and now its just a matter of getting adjusted to changed doses and changed meds. I hate side effects but I have come to realize that maybe I do need to be on the meds the rest of my life to be better. Its taken me a long time to accept that fact but that is an entirely different blog.
I hope this helps someone out there understand what happens when you go visit the psychiatrist. There is a lot of discussion about how you are feeling and your signs and symptoms but there is also a lot of trust that needs to be put out up front. My advise to you is give it a chance. I am in a HUGE stage of recovery and I am learning that I need to give a lot of things a try before I determine whether I like them or not. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Its not easy for me to be open like this but maybe its the right thing. Maybe its not. I guess that is the point of being in recovery. I have to find out what is right for me.
Well it is April 1st. The weather is supposed to be beautiful outside and I am so ready for spring. I am also doing a bit of reflecting today. Looking back on March, it was a very rough month for me. I cut twice. I have been doing so well but I gave in to the urges. I’ve not been to work in almost 3 weeks because of this pitch black cloud that is hovering. I am still not back to work as of today. I got to where I was very suicidal and even attempted. I ended up on the psych unit for 5 days. How can one little month be filled with so much darkness?
Well as for the psych unit admission, My experience was decent. It was my first ever admission due to mental health issues. I was terrified, overwhelmed, and lost. Its a whole other blog if you are curious about my entire experience. Just let me know in the comments and I will post it if anyone is interested.
I look back at how down I was and it was pretty scary. Am I all unicorns and rainbows happy? No. I am working on getting better. I am still a bit stressed about the entire thought of what I have been through. I also found that in a strange way I am quieter. I have always been quiet, but I am finding myself thinking more. I am not sure what to tell people. I am overall not sure what to say. Do people think I am crazy? Do they think I can handle work? Am I able to?
I am also finding ways to appreciate some of the smaller things in life. Sometimes I am guilty of forgetting that there are little things that cause a smile of a laugh. A while ago I bought a book called “The Book of Awesome”. It is a book that talks about the small things in life that are well……awesome. I never did finish it, so I started reading it again. I went online and bought the other two books that go along with it as well as a journal so I can remember my “awesome” things. I need to make sure I take time each day to read about at least one thing. I am hoping that it will help in my recovery.
Well, It is time for me to go. I do need to get going for the day and deal with last night’s stress (flat tire on the highway). I also need to take my meds. Let me know in the comments if you are interested in a blog with my experiences from the psych unit. Even if one person is interested I will post it. HAPPY APRIL!!