Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Very Disturbing Difficulties from Side Effects (chronic major urinary retention)

I hate to vent here again so soon after my last venting post, but I'm really upset about my medications.

My medications have worked remarkably well for me for the entire past year. July 17, 2014 I went into the hospital. I was put on entirely new medications right away. They are:

  1. Saphris
  2. Effexor
  3. Neurontin
  4. Tranxene
  5. Restoril
  6. Trazadone
I was also on Artane, which is to combat EPS (Extra Pyramidal Side Effects, caused by antispychotics), but due to the situation I'm about to explain, I went off Artane about a month ago.

I can't get the urine in my body to come out. I don't mean to sound disgusting, so I know this is a weird thing to write about on a blog, but it's a major medical issue if it gets much worse. Actually, it's already a pretty major issue.

It started to become noticeable to me around January of this year. Note, I started ALL of those medications, in July of last year, at around the same time. 

In February, I started going to the gynecologist on a quite frequent basis (about three times in like three or four months). I thought I hate urinary tract infections (UTIs), but that would always turn out to not be the issue. Eventually, they told me I needed to see a urologist.

I went to a urologist a couple months ago. The reason I went was urinary hesitancy (not being able to get the stream to start), urinary frequency (having to go at least once every hour that I'm awake, urinary urgency (feeling like I have to go all the time), and urinary retention (not being able to empty my bladder completely).

So they did an ultrasound quickly the first day. No big deal to me; it took all of two minutes. Then the nurse said (as I had just gone in order to the bathroom), "do you feel like your bladder is empty?" to which I said, "I never feel like my bladder is empty". She said, "there is still quite a bit of urine in there".

Odd, right? Of course, I figured, this is something they'll figure out soon here. The doctor came in. He was about 80 years old, and I immediately could tell this was not going to be like going to my rheumatologist who spends a great deal of time (at least 10 minutes) talking to me. He spent about a nanosecond talking to me. He didn't even look at the paperwork I'd filled out, where I'd listed every condition I have (there are a number of those...) and every medication I take (14 of those). He also didn't even talk to the nurse who had done the test. So I mentioned that the nurse had told me there was a lot of urine in my bladder. To which he said, "Oh they tested it?" He had no idea. So he checked with the nurse, and she said "there was almost 200 in there". I didn't know what this meant. But apparently it's not exactly normal, for someone who just tried to completely empty her bladder. Oh, also they emptied it for me since I couldn't get it to come out (fun).

I was scheduled for some tests. There was no conversation about why the tests were being done, but I knew why I'd gone in there, so I figured these must be tests to figure out why this stuff is going on. I had a Urodynamics test. Fun. They fill your bladder up with fluid; however, having no clue about bladders or much of how this stuff works, I had no idea what was going on. It was a PA guy this time (physician's assistant), and a nurse. I kept asking what he was doing. It involves a little catheter and some liquid that goes in you, and then they watch on a monitor to see if stuff is contracting. I guess the bladder wall is supposed contract, and the sphincter. Mine weren't doing much. So I mentioned something about losing weight (we were trying to have small talk while this weirdness was being done with my body), and I said how antipsychotics had made me gain a ton of weight, but I'd had mine changed and had lost a lot of weight (I've lost 65 pounds in the past year). The PA immediately asked me, "You haven't been on that kind of medication long have you?" Um, yes, actually I have.....

He said that pychiatric drugs can cause your sphincter to stop constricting like it's supposed to. I had no idea what a sphincter was, so this was rather interesting, but it immediately sent off alarm bells.

Obviously, I cannot go off my medication.

My medication has saved my life.

The past year has been the best year for me mentally that I have had since probably 1998.

It is the first year I've gone a year without auditory or visual hallucinations or persistent delusions since 1998.

The first full year. And it's been because of Saphris, and because of my other meds.

Anyway, the next part of this test was that I was supposed to urinate (I was sitting with this disgusting bucket-like thing below me), and they were going to monitor this. Nothing came out. They waited. They turned on a faucet. "Your bladder is really full right now; you should be able to go," the PA said. I couldn't go. Finally after they left and told me to just get up and get dressed, I ended up being able to go and then like usual half an hour later I had to go again. Nothing new there. This has been going on for months.

A week later I had a test called Cystoscopy, with the 80 year old urologist. He looked into my bladder with some sort of microscope device. Again, I was uncomfortable not knowing much about what was going on and the fact that he told me nothing didn't help. As he was finally in there, he told me that my bladder looked normal. I took this to be a good sign, but it didn't explain the problem. So I asked what the problem was. He said, "It's probably your psychiatric medications". I took this to mean he had no idea, as he also said he wasn't sure, and it seemed to me like blaming it on medications made no sense. He said, "I'm going to give you two pills to take", without naming the pills. I asked what they were supposed to do and why he was giving them to me if he didn't even know what the problem was. His response, "Well, you don't want a catheter do you? You're pretty young for a catheter." What? I just turned 40 this year. Yes, I think I am pretty young for a catheter. Why the hell would I need a catheter for some unknown problem???

I decided to talk to the pharmacist. The pharmacist told me that both of the pills the doctor had prescribed did the same thing, and he had no idea why this doctor told me to take both of them. I asked him specifically what medications I'm on that could be causing urinary retention. He said a number of them, but the number one was probably the Artane. I don't know if he blamed Artane specifically because it actually is the number one that could cause the problem or if it was because I also mentioned not wanting to go off my psychiatric drugs (again, Artane is not a psych drug; it's just used for EPS). So, I decided to just take Flow-Max (one of the drugs the urologist prescribed), and not Bethanacol (the other drug he prescribed), at the recommendation of the pharmacist. I went in to see the urologist again a month later. I told him as much. He was mad. He said, "You came in here for a problem and I told you what to do to fix it and you don't want to  listen to me! And I don't know what's the matter with these pharmacists, they don't know what they're talking about" (I should mention for transparency that by this point I already hated this doctor). So I said, "Well, I just don't want to take two additional medications for a total of 16 prescriptions when I'm 40 years old." I then conceded that I would do what he asked. So I started to do that. I also saw my psychiatrist. I told him that I needed to go off Artane and had already decided that I should. He agreed to this. I explained this doctor had told me that I might need a catheter and I was very concerned.

So for a few weeks I was on both the medications the urologist prescribed and no Artane. Things didn't get any better at all. Also for the month before those three weeks, I was on one of the medications that he had me on, so that means one I was on for like two months, and the combo for nearly one month. The burning when actually got worse, not better. I called the urologist and he was on vacation but they prescribed me an antibiotic over the phone and told me to go to a lab and get another test for a UTI. I took the antibiotic, but it turned out there was no UTI.

I had enough of this. I looked for a recommended female urologist. By this point, I'd learned that many women with endometriosis, like me, also get Interstitial Cystitis, and I was thinking that I had this or that I had a problem with my pelvic floor muscles, because for months I've been having a trouble with constipation (though that started long after the bladder issue started).

I saw that other urologist yesterday. I liked her. She took the time to actually explain things a little bit longer than the male one. But she said something I did not want to hear at all. I'll get to that in a second.

Again they did the ultrasound to see if there was urine left in my bladder. There was. The nurse asked me, "Do you feel like you're bladder is empty?" I said, "For me, yes. I can't empty it. That's why I'm here sort of."

The doctor said to me that I was walking around with a bladder containing urine at all times, and that this was not normal. The normal number was not supposed to be above 50, and mine was 150. This was after I had gone to the bathroom. 


This is the part that is bad: 
She said the problem is my psychiatric medications and that I am probably going to need a portable catheter ("maybe just for a couple months while you go off these medications"). I was like, "UM, I cannot go off these medications, and I do not want a catheter. Aren't there exercises for the pelvic floor that I could do?"). She told me to take laxatives (I've already been taking a fiber laxative every day for months and it hasn't helped much), stronger than what I'd already taken, practice "bearing down" (I already always do this, as I can't urinate and I'm not stupid), and that I needed to make sure I urinated every hour of the day, even though I already am. She said maybe this would work, but if it doesn't I need to go off the meds and/or get a catheter. She said to come back in a month.

What the hell am I supposed to do now?

I walked out of there feeling more upset than when I walked in. But you see, when you see doctors who aren't psychiatrists and you're on six psych meds, it's very hard to know what to say or not to say, because above all, I've learned that they will quickly chalk everything up to your mental illness if you let them.

So I tried not to take up too much of her time, tried not to seem like a hypochondriac (even though I'm obviously not as they can see the number on the stupid test, but I'm paranoid after bad experiences with doctors), tried not to seem "crazy" or "abnormal" or "neuroatypical". I did specifically ask her to tell me exactly what medications were causing the problem, assuming that it was one or two and she could narrow this down to those, and I'd be fine.

I don't know if I came across as seeming too normal to need all my meds, or if I came across as too much of a pest. But she was nice, in any event (I always wonder how I am coming off to people). She just didn't have a lot of answers. When she said she would write down the meds I was on that were causing the issue, I didn't think she'd come back with a list of every single psychiatric medication I'm on except Tranxene.

After an upsetting morning worrying about this, I got an appointment for tomorrow with my psychiatrist and went to the pharmacy to pick up my meds. A different pharmacist was there. I got him to look up my psych meds and asked him to please tell me specifically which ones could definitely be causing urinary retention. He was nice and did that. He told me Saphris and Neurontin and Effexor could definitely be the culprits, as could Pilocarpine (which is not a psychiatric med, but it's something I'm on for Sjogren's Syndrome), and also that Trazadone and Tranxene may or may not be causing it.

So at least I am more well-informed now. I am going in tomorrow with that list and talking to the psychiatrist about going off Trazadone immediately, and not knowing what else to do because I don't feel like I can live without my other meds.

Of course, I also can't live without a bladder, or with ending up some kind of horrible situation requiring a catheter for the rest of my life. So I'm a little upset.

The other problem is that, as I've gone off Artane, I'm not getting some EPS symptom episodes, where I'm feeling like I'm jumping out of my skin and can't stop moving or need to roll back and forth on my bed like a maniac or jump up and down. Obviously frustrating, and the psychiatrist told me to just take more Tranxene to compensate for not being on Artane. Now, I've found out Tranxene could also be something I need to go off. Tranxene is a benzodiazapine, and being on benzos since 1999 (low dosage always, never abused), I've weaned my dose down to one a day in recent months already, but had to go up to two sometimes again due to the EPS symptoms. Now, what am I supposed to do to get rid of EPS? I cannot go off Saphris! Saphris has saved my goddamn sanity. 

This is so upsetting.

Thanks for listening.

Whining is over.

If anybody else has had this problem and would like to email me you can do so at jen.evolving at gmail dot com.


Sunday, July 05, 2015

Having a Narcissistic, Abusive Mother (on top of having Schizoaffective Disorder)

Recently I wrote a post about Mother's Day and why it's a nightmare. I'm coming to terms right now with the fact that I have a narcissistic mother.




Yesterday I was with my mother. And, as usual, I regretted it. I spend a lot of time with her. I spend little time with anyone else, precisely because of the fact that I have virtually no one else who really wants to spend time with me usually. So there is my mother, and my mother always wants me at her beck and call. You see, this is because she can get me to do the things she wants me to do, and being the pathetically codependent person I was trained to be and still have difficulty not being, I do it. She wants to go to see a dumb movie like Jurassic Park that I have no desire to see, and I have nothing else to do - I go. Yesterday we went out to eat. Neither one of us had anything to do for the Fourth of July. My sister moved out of state to get away, my brother has virtually nothing to do with my mother, I am all my mother has, and I have hardly any friends myself. My mother has no friends. So she wanted to go out to eat since it was the Fourth of July, and since most people do things with other people in the U.S. on the Fourth of July. So I went.

The second I got there, I knew there was already a problem. She had gotten there before me. I told the hostess my name (I had made a reservation, but my mom was already there). One hostess told the other hostess, "She's at um, table 64 and make sure.....um......." I got the drift. There was a problem with the table. There is always a problem with the table, if you go to a restaurant with my mother. You see, and I can't emphasize this enough, nothing is ever good enough for my mother. Nothing is ever good enough for my mother. Nothing ever was, has been, is, or will be good enough for my mother. So you go to a restaurant, and the table is wrong. It's in the wrong spot. It's took close to the bathroom, or the kitchen, or they just sat you by the corner because they don't do a good job or they don't want to give you the good table for some unknown, unspoken reason that people are out to inflict evil upon you for no reason.

I sat down, seeing the look already on her face. "What's the problem?"
Do you think this table is good enough? she asks.
"Yes. Did you already get them to move you once?"
She had.
"Okay well I'm not moving to another table." This is me, attempting to set boundaries here, the little bit that I can.
So we didn't move.
Okay, so two minutes later it's hot in there. Her iced tea didn't taste like iced tea; there was something wrong with it, she said. The waitress, obviously exasperated but being polite gave her a new iced tea, then a soda after the second iced tea tasted the same as the first one. Then she starts in on me about my weight. I've lost weight. Everyone I know who knows me outside my workplace who has seen me lately has said I look better. I don't tell her that, and she never sees those people, so she doesn't know that, but even so, she's jealous of the fact that I look better.
So she starts.
All I ate today for breakfast was a yogurt parfait McDonald's that's 160 calories. For lunch I ate an Atkins bar, she says.
"Oh, so you're starving yourself? Great idea." I'm already irritable now, because I almost died of anorexia and she is quite well aware of that fact.
Does starving yourself work? I really want to starve myself to lose weight. I'm fat. (She says this smiling at the fact that she knows she's hurting me).
Does starving yourself make your stomach get smaller? I heard it does and I want my stomach to get smaller.
I look at her and say, "I cannot believe you are sitting here saying this to me."
She gets incredulous that I just stood up for myself.
I was talking about ME not YOU!

I could chalk all this up to fact that I'm well aware of as a feminist: women compare themselves to other women all the time; women are socialized to think that we need to be thin; women starve themselves a lot.

But the thing is, my mother is not starving herself. My mother is saying this crap just to hurt me. And also, it's not normal for a mother to be jealous of her daughter.

I was about 23. I had moved to Baltimore from Florida to live with my grandparents because my mother kept kicking me out of her house and even called the cops to have me evicted, and I wasn't driving around all night in my car to escape her wrath, I had literally nowhere to go. My dad's mother, my grandmother, and I were sitting at me in the kitchen of her house. She looked at me and said, "Jenny your mother has been jealous of you since the day you were born! She was jealous of you all your life. It's the weirdest thing I've ever seen, and I've never seen anything like it, but she never treated you right all your life. You don't deserve that."

Seventeen years later, I know she was right. She's no longer alive, or I'd call her up and tell her this - actually I'd write her a letter. She was always hard of hearing and couldn't talk on the phone.

It's hard to even write this. It's hard to even talk to my therapist about it. And I'm only hinting at the tips of the iceberg here, because the second I start writing this stuff, the guilt sets in and the disbelief sets in too. "Oh, she couldn't have really been jealous of me! She's my mom. And moms don't do that." "Oh, I shouldn't say such horrible things about my mother. What if somebody in my family ever reads this?? What if somebody finds me a horrible human being for saying things rudely about my own mother?? You can't talk badly about your own mother!!"

But there is so much more. There is the fact that, when she weighed less than me (unlike now, which is why she tells me she's jealous of me now since I weigh less than her), she looked at me, since I was obese (my highest weight was 236 pounds, and that embarrasses me to tell you, but it was due to the antispsychotic drugs that made me obese).....she looked at me and said, on more than one occasion:
Can't you just go back to being anorexic for a while to lose that weight?
"What???"
I said for a while, you really need to lose weight! (She weighed between 180 and 200 pounds herself when she said this).
"I almost died of anorexia." Besides it ruined many years of my life, besides it's not something anyone can do "for a little while", besides this is an absolutely sick, hateful thing to say to someone, especially your own daughter.
She'd also say:
You were so good at losing weight before..........You know how to lose some weight. Just take those diet pills again.

(I've written here before about my history of anorexia and about eating disorders awareness).

I was 17. I had gotten kicked out of an eating disorders treatment center because I refused to eat and they thought I needed a feeding tube, which is something that they didn't do there. My dad came. We were in an office. "Your daughter's still refusing to eat; we can't have her here. She needs to be in a hospital. You're going to die if you don't eat, Jennifer." My dad took me to the psychiatric hospital. I was admitted. It was at a university, and I was sent to get an MRI because they thought I had shrunk my brain through my starvation. Shrunk my brain. That's what anorexia does to you. They sent me for a chest scan, and other heart tests, EKG's, etc., in case I was going to have a heart attack. They weighed me, in a gown every day. I was 83 pounds. The psychiatrist I was already seeing and the therapist I was already seeing had already told my parents point-blank that I was dying, and that I must go to a hospital. So, yes. To be told at age 32, or 36, or 39, after recovering from anorexia, only to become obese due to antispsychotics, a fact which made me heinously depressed, that I should, "Go back to anorexia", by my mother, is rather hurtful. To be told, "I want to starve myself; tell me how", is rather hurtful. By my mother.

I was 14. I weighed about 114 pounds and thought I was a fat. She said, You have a HUGE BUTT! YOU'RE GETTING FAT!.

I was 12. I weighed probably no more than 90 pounds. I was at the top of the pyramid on my synchronized swimming team because I was the most petite girl on the team. I decided I was fat. I discussed dieting with my friend Kim who gave me the ingredients for some bizarre diet that involved eating cabbage and hot dogs and cottage cheese - all things I detested. I got my mom to buy them for me. Again, I weighed about 90 pounds, and she bought me the ingredients for a diet. A diet. Like I was fat.

But it isn't just about weight. At all. It is about so much more. Last night, I came across a website on narcissistic mothers. I wasn't searching for it, and I didn't look into narcissistic mothers, though I've often thought about how narcissistic my mother is, only to then feel guilty for having such a thought about her, knowing she has "low self esteem". Ha. She doesn't have "low self esteem"; she has a hell of a lot more than that. For a while I thought it was Borderline Personality Disorder. That resonated with me when I read a bit about it. And maybe that is it; I'm not a psychologist. However, I have talked to therapists enough to know there is a personality disorder. And when I read these characteristics of narcissistic mothers last night, and opened up each one to read the entire description, it really hit home. It hit home because it describes my mom, and how my mom has treated me all of my life. It hit home unlike her "Bipolar Disorder" diagnosis, which has clearly never been the only problem, and unlike her belief that the only thing she needs to do is go to AA (which I'm glad she does, of course, since she did have a drinking problem for a few years) and take a mood stabilizer, which has never fixed the actual issue. It hit home like it was the thing I had been looking for all of my life. All of my life!

To grow up into an adult, and not understand why your mom hates you, why she tells you:
I wish I had an abortion with you! I hate you! I want to kill you! You drive me crazy! You ruined my life! I almost had a car accident because of you! You ruined Christmas again! You ruin everything! Why don't you just kill yourself and do us all a favor?!

....and....

You're a mental case. You're crazy. There is something wrong with you. You're not normal. Why can't you just be like Lindy (my best friend), etc.?
....all before I actually had any mental illness....

.....and......

You don't do anything right! You're such a screw-up. You're driving me nuts! You made me do that (as in "you made me hit you" or "you made me scream at you for hours"). It's all your fault.

.....and......

It's your fault your dad left.

This is what it's like to be the scapegoat. To grow up like that, you wonder, "what is wrong with me?" Story of my life. Story. of. my. life. "What is wrong with me?" I could never, and still feel like I can never, figure that one out. Because there has to be something wrong with me. Clearly, there has to be. If your own mom tells you this from childhood, if your own mom acts like she hates you, no only are you indoctrinated to think there is something wrong with you, but you have to think there is something wrong with you, out of fear due to the fact that children are psychologically incapable of grasping the idea that their own parents really are incapable of caring about them. Maybe even incapable of loving them. Really don't care about them. Really don't say what they say out of love. Really maybe don't even love them.

Children can't cope with that, because if you think this as a child, you think you're going to die. Your parent is all you have. My parents were all I had.

I'm three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven...Lying in my bed. She's screaming. At me, she's screaming. She's been screaming at me. So I'm hiding in my bed. I'm scared, but I don't know what I'm scared of. I'm crying and sobbing and I'm saying, "Mommy.....Mommy.......I want my my mommy....."

I was 20. 21. 22. I had Fibromyalgia, and was diagnosed also with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I would later be diagnosed with additional things, but I didn't know that at the time. I was severely fatigued and in extreme pain. It had come on me, probably, due to years of stress. And I was young, and these were "new" illnesses in 1995, so no one had even heard of them, and everyone thought I was "too young too be sick" and "didn't look sick". But the worst part was the way she defined my existence for me. She told everyone I wasn't really sick. She told me I wasn't really sick. She tried to convince me of this. (And she still does, even though I've now been dealing with multiple chronic illnesses which have been repeatedly diagnosed by multiple doctors for 20 years, now called Fibromyalgia, Sjogren's Syndrome, Lupus, Hypothyroidism, and Osteoarthritis, though now I never talk to her about it). So I couldn't hold a job. I was never able to work full time. I had a job in a call center, because I had to quit my job in a library as I could no longer shelve books, due to physical pain, and the fact I couldn't stand on my feet for long. I was on medications and a rheumatologist told me to treat my body like it was 90 years old and stop walking for exercise, even though I was 19 when he said this. All of this was depressing as hell. I was freezing cold all the time, in pain, sick, miserable, often ruminating on suicide. But I still worked in that call center when I could. She kept kicking me out of the house. When she would kick me out of the house, she would take my stuff, all of it, and throw it in the trash, so I'd have to go and get it out before the trash was taken away so I didn't lose all my belongings, and this didn't always work, so sometimes I did lose all my belongings. I'd stay at my dad's when his wife would allow it, but she usually wouldn't allow it. 

I was 19. I moved to Baltimore to get away from my mother for the first time. But within six months, disregarding my grandparents' warnings not to go back to her, I went back, because I thought it was my duty to take care of my brother and sister.

I was 23. I moved to Baltimore again. This time I stayed till I became homeless while psychotic, at 24. I had little contact with my mother during these years. But between 24 and 27, I lived in Virginia, and she would do such things as call my roommates and harass them. 

These are the things she would say to my roommates:

You are prostituting my daughter! You must be her pimps and she is working for you prostituting herself, isn't she??!! What is going on up there?? Is she sleeping with you?? Are you making her have sex with you??

Yes, I had two male roommates. We had separate rooms. It was a condo, and I was living there because I'd been homeless and after sleeping in a shelter for months, and then a car, a friend from the internet got her former fiance to take me in and let me have a place to live in a spare room, in a condo. See, my mother couldn't handle that. She couldn't handle that I had a place to live, that didn't involve her, that didn't involve her controlling my life. She didn't call anybody when I was homeless, because she didn't care that I was homeless. That didn't bother her. She cared to make me look bad by telling people I was on cocaine (lie), or accuse them of lies like prostituting me, which never happened, or having sex with me, which never happened (and since when is it appropriate for your mother to take interest in who you're having sex with even if you are having sex?). I had no boyfriend in my entire life and never even dated anyone until I was 25 years old. So who knows, maybe she got wind of the fact I was dating? Maybe that bothered her? I don't know and I don't care. But, she's a control freak, and she's obsessed with wanting me to need her and wanting me to take care of her.

But I'll tell you something about those years when I didn't live in Florida. Those were the most free years of my entire life.

I was 1,000 miles away from her and I didn't give a damn. I went to visit her in Florida one time.

Yes, I saved up the money to go visit them. To check on my brother and sister, and her of course. I remember being screamed at. I remember her throwing stuff at me. I remember her telling me to get out of her house. I had nowhere to go. It was a nightmare. I was sick. I was so sick, I couldn't even walk through an airport, so I had to be wheeled in a wheelchair to get to Florida. But I went there, and I brought presents for everyone, and cookies I'd made for everyone, and I went there, and that's how she treated me. I called my friend from a bedroom, where I was curled up on the floor crying and scared in my mother's house. I was about 27 years old at the time. Yes, I had psychosis and nobody knew it, including me, but this is how she always treated me. Like garbage. I went home early.

I was 28 or 29. I was psychotic. She dumped me off at a homeless shelter. She didn't want to deal with me, claiming not knowing what to do. By the way, she's a registered nurse and she knew about NAMI and didn't go there.

When I finally had my first long-term relationship, when I was 30, she couldn't handle that either. Because I had someone else in my life, besides her, who was there. My relationship with him, of course, was dysfunctional and codependent, but that's not the point. She has actually said to me recently:
I'm mad at you for losing weight because you look like you could get a boyfriend now and then you won't want to be around me anymore. And what am I supposed to do?

So, when I had my relationship, she set out to ruin it. She treated my boyfriend like garbage. I've sometimes thought this was because she actually cared about the fact that he was a loser, but now I wonder if that was ever it at all. Yes, he was pretty much a loser, but then, I was no walk in the park myself. I had a lot of issues, I had never had a relationship for more than a month or two, and I had no idea how to behave in one. And I met him a mental hospital. But he was the first guy (and the last one) I was ever really in love with. And she treated him like trash. He hated my mother. He didn't want to be around her, and after the day she stuck her finger in his face and screamed at him:
You better not hurt my daughter or you're going to have to deal with me! Do you understand that?

Because she was accusing him of hitting me when he never had (I guess she thinks she's the only one who's allowed to hit me, maybe that was why this thought occurred to her - she's hit me many times).

He refused to be around her anymore. Ever. Until he ended up breaking up with me.

I haven't dated anyone since. I don't even know how really. I don't know what it's like to be really loved, except by a couple friends. I don't know what it's really like though, because my own mom treated me like that all my life. I associate love with codependency, so my former best friend and I were codependent, my one long term boyfriend and I were codependent (but my current friends and I are not at all).

More importantly, I'm not dating anyone, because I spend the weekends with my mom. I don't have anything to do, anywhere to go, but I go to her, because she calls me and says, "come over". And because she needs me. She needs me to be there. I have been there for her my entire life.

I have been taking care of my mother since the day she was born. By the time I was old enough to know how, I cooked and did laundry and dishes. When my siblings were born, she taught me it was my job to take care of them, and after my dad left, I did, all the time. I grew up feeling like I already had two children and I never wanted to have any actual children. I told people, "I raised my brother and sister already". My brother was born when I was six; my sister when I was seven. I started raising them by the time......well, I don't even know when. They knew to listen to me when they were very young, because I was taught to be that way, so I was that way. I told them what to do. To this day they resent me for it whilst simultaneously looking down on me, because, to this day, I am the scapegoat of the family. I always have been, because that is what she made me be. She taught them to taunt me as children, to believe I ruined their lives, to believe that I was the black sheep, that I didn't count, that they'd all "be better off without me". My brother, on the other hand, was the golden child, most of the time. When they were young it was those three against me, all the time. My mom made it that way. They'd go on trips to Disneyworld. I wouldn't go because I'd be blamed for how horrible things went after she got mad about something and decided it was time to start screaming. So I'd stay home alone. She took them on a trip to Maryland and left me home alone when I was a teenager too. 

I grew up hating myself. I've never known how to not do that. I want to know how. I try to not do it. But I can't help it. I tell myself, "No, you're not the ugliest person in the world. No you're not hugely obese (anymore). No you're not stupid. No you're not a failure. No, everyone's not "better" than you. No you're not going to be alone forever and it doesn't matter if you are." But I don't believe it. I hate myself. And I'm lonely. And I'm really freakin' sick of being around my mom. I've been so sick of that for so many years, I can't even remember when it was different anymore. I don't think it was ever different. I know it sounds terrible to say this, but right now I hate her. I hate the way she's treated me all my life. I love her, as she's my mother, and I have to love her, and I have no one else. But I hate her for the way she treats me. I hate it. I hate being around her. I hate going to her house. I hate going to the movies with her. I hate going to restaurants with her. I hate seeing her on holidays. I hate it. I hate that I have no life.

Maybe the reason I have no life, is because I was taught to hate myself from an age so early that I don't remember ever not hating myself. I really don't. I was self conscious from the earliest memories I have. It was called "shyness". That's a nice way of saying, "my kid hates herself" because it wasn't shyness. It was the fact that I hated myself.

You know I've spent years in therapy, and it's only been in the past year that I've even talked about my mother. I wasn't really able to before, because I went to therapy to deal with the psychosis and the depression, but, now I'm not psychotic and I'm not depressed. I'm functioning better. I'm not ever going to be "better" from Schizoaffective Disorder, but I'm on medications that help me now. And for the first time in my life, I feel like I'm figuring stuff out about my relationship with my mom. Like I'm ready to start healing this garbage that has always haunted me, finally, for the first time. At forty years old. I don't know if that's progress or if that's pathetic.

I feel like I could use a hug today. I was sobbing hysterically for a few minutes earlier this afternoon. About my mom. Because a lot of this is really hitting me now. And I feel like I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that this shit isn't love. This is abuse. And it is still abuse now. And it has always been abuse.

I was 30. I was in her car. I had psychosis but I had a job. I didn't have a car because I didn't have any money. There was a guy in a nightclub that wanted me to meet him there from work. I'd been warned not to go out with him, if I recall currently, but I was trying to feign normalcy so I was trying to "go on a date". She beat the shit out of me in that car. She hit me hard, repeatedly. She was my mom, and I was 30, and it wasn't a delusion, because I never imagined it, never forgot it, remember it like it was yesterday, just like I remember being sexually assaulted and I can tell you where it happened because it was not  far from her house and I drive by it every week. And last night, when I drove by it, on the way home from her house, I damn sure thought about it.






Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tips for Managing Life with Chronic Illness

There are some things that have helped me greatly improve my life; there are also things that I've done which made things worse rather than better. But overall, for the past ten months, I've been doing better than I have in years. So I thought I'd write some of the top things that have helped me. These are things that can help with any chronic disabling illness, not just the psychiatric kind. I have physical disabilities as well as the psychiatric ones, so I understand all aspects of living with invisible disabilities, and how hard and stressful that can be. Chances are, if you've come to this blog you're looking for answers and help. I want to offer some.

1. Realize that you will never be able to do every single thing you want to do in life. No one can, but especially not people who are sick and have limitations. I say this because it is probably one of the most important lessons illness (or "stillness", as an old friend used to call it) has taught me. It is important to accept that you will have things you want to do that you won't be able to do. This is especially pertinent for "Type A", perfectionists who want to do a million things every day (this is me). Once you accept that you have limitations, you can start managing life accordingly, and once you do that, it will help you get rid of some of the stress put on you by trying to do too much. Stress makes symptoms worse.

2. Remember that you can still do many things that you want to do; you just have to manage your time and energy a bit more than most people! I say this because, even though we must accept our limitations, we also must not give up on our hopes and dreams. Hopes and dreams make life meaningful. So accepting limitations does not mean assuming you must do nothing but lie down and wait to die for the rest of your life. When you're first diagnosed with a serious illness, it's heartbreaking. Or sometimes you will be sick for years and not even know you have an actual illness, and that's extremely hard too. Horrible things happened to me in my life when I was undiagnosed as Schizoaffective, so I totally get that actually receiving a diagnosis can be a relief. It's also depressing though. So don't let it ruin your belief in your future. We all have a future. We don't know how long it will be for, or what will happen in it that we cannot control, but we all have some kind of future, however short or long.

3. Set goals every day. It's important to get out and do things when you can. If you're sick physically, sometimes it's very hard due to fatigue and pain (I know) to get out and do things. I wasted some years in bed most of the time. I will never go back to that. At the time, I was quite ill, but I fell into the belief that ALL I was, was ill. I believed I couldn't function physically, so I laid in bed. All the time. And that was a huge mistake. I was also psychotic during that time and undiagnosed, not on meds, so that was part of the problem. But I will never just give up again. If you're stuck in bed a lot, at least try to go get your mail. If you can walk, go for a short walk outside in the sunshine. If you're dealing with mental illness and everything overwhelms you, set a goal to do something that you can manage each day. Small goals, like taking a shower and getting dressed are all some people can handle. Others will have larger goals that they can take on. I find that once you meet some small goals, the larger ones become a lot easier to achieve.

4. Eat when you're hungry, sleep when you're tired, drink water when you're thirsty, take meds if you need them. Simple things are important to do. I think setting the goal of taking care of yourself each day is very important. I recently had a moment when I came to the realization that I am taking care of myself because I care about myself. Repeat. I am taking care of myself, because I care about myself. This was a huge moment for me. It followed with guilt, so I fought that thought, and said, "Why do I feel guilty about taking care of myself because I care about myself?" My therapist often asks things like, "What would it feel like to not feel guilty?". So I told myself, "It is not selfish or being self-centered to care about yourself. It is vital to living, and it is not something to feel guilty about. I do not NEED to hate myself for my entire life". 

5. Change your diet if you haven't already. It's hard, I know, but getting a lot of fatty, sugary junk food out of your diet will almost always make a lot of illness symptoms get better. Eating vegetables and fruits, drinking water, making green smoothies with vegetables and fruit (I know I've mentioned this before), not drinking soda, not eating candy or junk food or a lot of meat (I don't eat any meat but seafood), and looking at the ingredients of what you're about to put into your stomach before you eat it, are all good (and hard) habits to make. Eating fast food and diet dinners all the time went out the window for me last summer, after I realized that not only was it unhealthy, I could NOT afford to do that financially anymore. I started watching what I eat carefully, got my Diet Pepsi/Diet Coke addiction out of my life, started making green smoothies many mornings for breakfast, started drinking green tea sweetened with Stevia instead of diet soda, and eventually lost almost 65 pounds, in the past ten months.

6. Get some exercise. I know people used to tell me this and I found it insulting because exercise physically hurt and exhausted me so much that I thought I couldn't do it. But I started going on short walks, then longer walks, then even longer walks in the past ten months. Then I joined the YMCA and started going there for exercise, because it's awfully hot to walk outside in Florida in the summer, and because they have a pool there where I do water exercise classes which are much better on the Osteoarthritis in both my knees and the Fibromyalgia in my whole body than walking all the time is.

7. Look into any alternative medicine therapies you can afford which have been tested and proven to help with your particular problems, if there are any. I can't afford much in the way of alternative therapies, but I take fish oil because it's good for the brain and for the joints too, krill oil because it's good for the inflammation, a multivitamin/mineral supplement, and a lot of B vitamins everyday. Also, I take melatonin every night for sleep, along with my meds, which brings me too....

8. Make getting good sleep your top priority. We spend half our lives sleeping. It is not small matter. It is a big part of physical and mental health. Following sleep hygiene guidelines, like not having a TV in your bedroom, going to bed and getting up at the same time everyday, not keeping lights on at night, not doing anything other than sleep in your bed, etc., will help with insomnia. I didn't believe that for a long time, but that, along with major meds for insomnia have allowed me to sleep better. I used to go days on no sleep at all. It was hell. Research has shown that insomnia Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective Disorder are linked. Also, physical pain gets way worse when you get no sleep. I think getting a good night of sleep is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Trust me, it makes a world of difference! 

9. Eliminate as much stress as possible. This is hard, but extremely important. Some things you can do to eliminate stress are going to therapy regularly, or attending a support group regularly, getting a manageable workload if you have a job or switching jobs if you have a really stressful job (I had one, no longer), and managing your relationships with other people.

10. Get toxic people out of your life. This is very important. I still have a toxic person in my life, but another one I got out of my life a few months ago, and it's been a huge relief. I was spending hours with this extremely passive aggressive, self-centered person on the phone every week, and it was making me so miserable. I would mention that I couldn't stay on the phone with her all the time, and she would whine and put a guilt trip on me for it. She's extremely immature, and my contact with her almost always made me miserable. I couldn't take it anymore. So I finally flat-out told her, "I think you have Borderline Personality Disorder and you need help". She didn't want to talk to me again, which is good, because I definitely don't want to talk to her again either. So that was that. It might sound mean, but you don't know how mean this "friend" was to me with her manipulation and mind  games. I don't have the time and energy for that crap! I have a life to live, and I would rather live it than revolve it around someone else's dysfunction.

11. Set boundaries with toxic people you can't eliminate from your life. For that matter, set boundaries with everyone! This is important. You do not need to be or have to be the be-all, end-all of someone else's existence. I have someone in my life who still puts me in this role, or at least tries to, and she's been doing it since I was born. It's a bad situation, but it's gotten better since I started learning what boundaries are and how to say that I will not put up with certain things, such as verbal abuse. I've learned when to not answer the phone and when to hang up the phone. And that helps. 

12. Get a pet! Adopt one from a shelter! There are so many animals who need homes in this world, and I cannot express how rewarding it is to have one in your life (or two or ten) who will love you unconditionally. Pets give you something to focus on. For example, you must walk dogs and feed cats and dogs and change cat litter boxes. Once you realize that, then of course you have a reason to get up in the morning. Pets are also so soothing and comforting. I don't know what I'd do without my cats.

13. Practice mindfulness. Go out and enjoy nature, sit outside, walk through a park or on a beach, listen to music, eat without watching TV or anything else while you're eating and just focus on the fact that you're eating. When you're washing dishes, focus on the fact your washing dishes. Use your "wise mind" as they say in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (looking up DBT might help you if you haven't already). Meditate if you can. Sit in a quiet space and focus on your breathing, breathing in and out deeply for a few minutes. This will help you relax and help you sleep. I used to think I couldn't do it at all, but with practice I learned to relax a bit. Read books by people like Thich Naht Hahn.

14. If you believe in God, go to a church, or a synagogue or mosque, etc. If you're like me and don't believe, you can still go to a church such as a Unitarian Universalist church or you can go to humanist/atheist meetings in your area (there are some you can find on Meetup.com). Having some spiritual place or just connection to other people in general can help.

15. Turn off the TV and find something creative to do like writing, making crafts, sewing, painting, drawing, etc. You don't have to be a professional writer to write or an artist to do artwork. It can help you relax and make you happy. TV makes me feel worse if too much of it goes into my brain. I haven't had cable TV in about two years; I don't miss it, and I can't afford it anyway.

16. Turn off your computer, your phone, your tablet etc., and do something else. I find that staring at screens too much makes me tired and in pain physically. I get really horrible pain in my shoulders from just doing things like typing this post you're reading write now. If I sit at a computer too long, I hurt. I don't want to hurt all the time. So turn it off, and get back to basics sometimes!

17. Call someone. I'm not good at this. I almost never call anyone at all other than a family member, and I never have had many friends in the first place. But if you have even one friend or supportive person in your life, reach out. Try not to isolate too much. I need a certain amount of isolation, because I can't handle being around people all the time, but too much isolation depresses me and makes me lonely (and I'm lonely a lot).

18. Keep a journal. There are so many kinds of journals one can keep. A  gratitude journal where you write down anything you're grateful for every day or every week helps some people. You can go back and look at it when you're feeling hopeless, and remember all the positive experiences you've had. A synchronicity journal is where you write down amazing things that shouldn't have happened but someone did. A journal of the foods you eat can help you track what is aggravating your physical symptoms, even some mental symptoms. A journal of your feelings or experiences or daily events or just your thoughts or the things you want to talk to someone about when you have no one to talk to - all these things can be useful.

19. Read books by SARK . They're inspiring, creative, and will help you. They take very little concentration to read, and they're very easy to follow and understand, whilst being full of self-healing tips.

20. Learn about your illnesses. Study them. Do research. Join support groups - online or in person. Find out what works and what doesn't work. As the saying goes, the struggle is real, but once you have information you'll be far more empowered than you are without it. Also, if you don't look up the side effects for medications you're on, you might get put on something else that is just to combat a thing that is a side effect of another medication you're already on. This has happened to me. Information is power, and doctors don't usually spend a lot of time with us or have a lot of time to do research on our individual symptoms. I'm not saying Google everything, but learn. I think walking into a doctor's office uninformed is one of the worst things you can do to yourself.

21. Go to therapy. Enough said, it helps.

22. Take a shower every day. Wear clean clothes every day. Brush your teeth every day. Brush your hair every day. I know when people are really sick it's easy to not care about such things, but once you do them, it really makes you feel better about yourself. I used to go to work without showering, and I didn't care because I was so apathetic all the time. I've read posts by people on Facebook saying they don't brush their teeth at all or that they can't take a shower at all. You must make hygiene a priority. Trust me, bad teeth aren't cheap to fix and neither is getting them pulled out of your mouth.

23. Get out of toxic support groups. I had to leave one again recently. It was an online group being moderated by someone who constantly brags about their illegal drug used and recommends it to people, and who does other dysfunctional and mean things to people in the group. It's not a support group; it's a dysfunction group. Many people would go there to say that they felt suicidal and then wait to see how many people said, "don't do it!" because they are so passive aggressive and attention-seeking. I think it's cruel and unfair to others to go on the internet and let people assume you've killed yourself so they have to track you down and send the cops to your house. What kind of support group even allows anyone to do that? I don't want to be part of such a group, so I removed myself from there. If you join support groups online, make sure crap like that isn't going on unchecked.

24. Set your intention for the day every day. Get up, think, "I will........" or "This is what I'm going to do today......." etc.

Okay, this post has reached it's time limit. I have a therapy session to get too!


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sexual Assaults and Rape Prevention Tips (something I wrote went viral and I have a new blog)

In 2001 or 2002 or 2003 (I don't remember exactly when it happened), a guy I met on the internet on a dating website, took me to a motel. I was psychotic, and I thought that I had no choice but to go with him, due to my delusional belief that if I did not obey certain people, I would be burned alive in the upcoming second Holocaust, that I believed was going to happen for seven years of my life.

He raped me in that motel room.

It was after that experience that I wrote a list of "rape prevention tips" which has, over the past twelve years, become famous.

I did not really realize it had become famous. I'd see people's postings of it on the internet for a while, and then, a few weeks ago, I was contacted by an editor for Buzzfeed, who said they wanted to make a video about my writing which had gone viral. I did not think this email was coming from Buzzfeed, because I was paranoid about being stalked, and I assumed that it was from some hacker guy who was trying to make fun of me on the internet for something I had written twelve years ago.

In actuality, the email really did come from Buzzfeed. I talked to the editor on the phone about a week ago. I have since looked on line, and low and behold, my writing really did go viral. It went viral because the comedian, Sarah Silverman, posted it on Twitter. Her post was an edited version, that was put online by someone else a few years ago. My website, where the original list was placed, is no longer online actively, but is archived, and was found.

Apparently everybody I know on Facebook has read my writing and did not know it was mine. News to me.

So I decided to take credit for my writing. And here is the blog I just created to do so:

Rape Prevention Tips.

I'm not going to sit  around and not take credit for my own work. It doesn't say anything about me being assaulted in it. It never did. My own family does not know about the three times I was assaulted while I was psychotic, and even if I wanted to tell them, none of them would want to know. Other people would probably assume it was a delusion. I wish it was. It never was. It happened to me once in Virginia and twice in Florida. During a 2-year period. While I was so sick, I did not know who I really was, but I knew very well what was being done to me. And I never  forgot. I remember the places, if not the exact dates.

This is complicated by the fact that for a long time, I believed I had been sexually abused as a child, and then later, I said, "I imagined all that". I'll never know how much of that was really imagined. I do know I was paranoid and that I thought things that there was not a lot of evidence for. But the things that were done to me as an adult, I remember quite well. And I never told people about it. Ever. Except to say things like, "Here is a link to the Ani Difranco song Gratitude", on this blog. Even on this blog, I didn't tell people what had happened to me. But it happened. And it's not right, and it's not fair, and it happens all the time to women who have mental illnesses and women who don't. It doesn't matter who you are or where you live or what you're doing, sexual assaults do happen. And they happen more often than anyone really knows, because so many of us are shamed into silence.

When I was assaulted in Virginia, I did go to the emergency room. I went and a friend - the only friend I had in Virginia - met me there. I did tell people then. I was examined and tested for STD's and pregnancy. I was put on the morning after pill (Plan B), which I had to go to a specific hospital to get since most hospitals do not even give it out, sad to say. I talked to a police officer, but I was so upset, he pretty much decided for me that they wouldn't pursue and investigation. I couldn't handle it then. If it happened to me now, damn straight there would be an investigation. But then, I couldn't handle it. People take advantage of vulnerable human beings living with mental illnesses And so, then, I became silent. I have not talked about it ot hardly anyone, especially since I've been "better" enough that I didn't want people to think I was claiming to be assaulted again like I had before, when I was not "better". I still am "better", I'm just writing this because I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't make that guy assault me. I didn't make the other two either. I was simply trying to survive in a world that was making that pretty difficult to do. If I had not been psychotic, maybe it wouldn't have happened, but that is really not the point. The point is that no man has the write to assault anyone, ever. Period.

I won't be totally silent now.


Monday, May 11, 2015

When family holidays are a nightmare and you get to be treated like the outcast even though you were the one who got treated like garbage more than anybody else

That is me when I was three years old.

At that age, I loved Sesame Street and cherished my red and white plastic record player. It was 1978. My mom and I would sing the Oscar the Grouch song, "I love trash; any thing sticky! Smells like Jenny" or "Smells like Mommy!" I know this because there was a casette tape recording of it I used to have, as an adult.

My earliest memory is of her blowing up, as she would call it (as in "sorry I blew up again"). We were in my bedroom, in our apartment in Baltimore. She was in a rage. She was taking my toys and throwing them across the room. I was cowering, probably in the corner, or backed up against a wall. I always cowered during her rages. She took my cherished Sesame Street record and snap it in two or three pieces, then threw it across the room. I was crying, I'm sure. I was terrified. The words that came out of her mouth during these times never changed much over the years. They were always, "I HATE YOU!! I WANT TO KILL YOU!!! YOU RUINED MY LIFE!!!". Twenty years later, I still heard those words. I lived with her, most of the time, until I was 23.

I hate you.

I want to kill you.

You ruined my life.

And it would always be this way. Now those words are still in my mind. They just take a different form; they come from the head into the gut, my own voice saying them. "I hate myself. I want to die." It's not like I consciously choose those words. They just pop up, from the ether, from the place of old cassette tapes in your head.

When I was five and almost six, my brother was born. By that time I was already a skittish child, very insecure in kindergarten, sure that the other kids wouldn't like me. But I don't remember consciously hating myself yet. That would come later. We moved to Florida that year, for my dad's job. The next year, my sister was born. I considered them "kids", even though, by all adults' points of view, I myself was still a kid. At the age of four, my grandmother used to tell me, I was in a basement at a relative's house with some of my cousins. They were all a little younger than me. I was the first-born child and grandchild. Some adult yelled down to ask, "Who's taking care of the kids??" I yelled back, "Don't worry; I am!" I was four. I already knew how to take care of people. I started taking care of her before I knew what taking care of someone was.

When I was in first grade, we had a meeting with my teacher, which enraged my mother. I had thrown out my stories, as I've mentioned in a previous post, because it hadn't occurred to me my mother would want to read them. She was immediately angry, and I knew it. I defecated in my pants. I remember her in the bathroom, screaming at me, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU??!! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT??!!! WHY WOULD YOU THROW OUT YOUR STORIES AND MAKE ME LOOK LIKE A BAD MOTHER??!! WHY WOULD YOU POOP YOUR PANTS??!!" As if I had made some conscious choice about what a wise idea these mistakes would be.

When I was about nine, I remember her calling me a "fucking bitch". She screamed it at me. We were in the car on the way to our Pentacostal Christian church. "You FUCKING BITCH!!" She slapped me on the face. I sat there, in stoic silence, the way I always sat there in the car with her. My brother and sister were in the backseat, so I told her not to use those words, I think. That was a mistake too. Then we went to church, and as soon as we got there, she had her smile on. She was a good Christian mom, after all, with three Christian kids. So good of her to dedicate her life to Jesus, even though her Catholic husband was going to burn in hell because he wasn't saved by God. That is what they taught me in that church. I consider that religion a form of abuse, too, by the way. I went to Christian school for seven years, Christian church 2-3 times a week. I always wondered why the people were so phony. Later, I'd become an atheist.

I was 13. My dad moved out. She blamed it all on me. I was to blame for every bad thing that ever happened in her life. If something went wrong, she blamed me. "YOU ALMOST MADE ME GET INTO A CAR ACCIDENT AGAIN!!!" was what I'd hear, every time she almost hit a car. My whole life. It was my fault my dad left, she said. I had done it. I had done everything wrong, every bad thing was always my fault. One day, in her rage, she pulled me up the steps by my hair, pulling out a clump. Another day, she punched me in the head repeatedly as I sunk down, low against the wall, trying to cover myself under my arms. She was beating me like she really was going to kill me. My dad roared up the steps. He grabbed her, put his fist up to her face, screamed at her. That was why children's services ended up being called - that day. A lady came to our house one day shortly thereafter. I figured out who she was. I'm not sure now how I knew, but the window was open, and I could hear my dad talking to the woman about my mom. I was scared. I thought I needed her, as my dad had left us all. He had left me to live with her. (I never forgave him for that for a very long time.) When I told my mom that my dad was trying to get children's services to take me away, she made me call him at his apartment. She stood there and forced me to say, "Mom did not really hurt me. She did not mean to hit me." They never took me away.

Around this time, the three of us kids would be dropped off at my best friend's house a lot by her. She would leave us, and go do whatever she had to do; she had gone to court reporting school to try to get a job because my dad wasn't giving her enough money to take care of things. Often, she'd never come back to pick me up. I'd be abandoned at my friend's house. She'd say she "forgot". It was awful when this happened, and I had to spend the night, because I wet the bed every night until I was 14 years old, so I couldn't handle sleepovers at my friend's house, and everyone knew it. I remember my friend and her brother laughing at me, when my mom had them come over to clean my bed off for some reason. She had told them that I wet the bed every night. She often screamed at me for that, too.

She always yelled at me to clean. I never did enough housework. I never took care of the kids well enough. By 13, I was helping to raise them. I would say, later, I never wanted kids since I already raised two.

Age 12 was when I went on my first diet. By 15, I was anorexic. By 17, I'd starved down to 83 pounds. I still thought I was fat. She had told me that too. Age 14, "Your head is too big for your body; you look deformed. You like like the Elephant Man!" "Your butt is so fat it's disgusting".

Then she wondered why I stocked up on hidden supplies of diet pills (Dexatrim), and laxatives.

I never cleaned well enough, and anything was a reason to yell at me. So in high school, when I got excellent grades as an honors student, I'd hear, "MAYBE IF YOU DIDN'T SPEND SO MUCH TIME DOING YOUR DAMN SCHOOL WORK AND CLEANED UP AROUND HERE OR HELPED ME WITH THE KIDS MORE YOU WOULDN'T BE GETTING STRAIGHT A'S!! YOU DON'T DO ANYTHING TO HELP ME!!! GET OFF YOUR ASS!!"

I did all our laundry. I cleaned the house. Sometimes I even cooked all the food and made sure the kids got to school. This was all by age 15; I was doing all of this by then. We didn't have any money,. since she didn't get alimony, and she didn't work because she was in college trying to get a degree, so I'd take my babysitting money, walk to the store, and buy a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread for us. My dad didn't understand why it bothered me that he'd taken all his money and moved into a fancy house in a ritzy neighborhood with his new wife and her daughter. His new wife also treated us like garbage.But I didn't go to his wedding (because it would have hurt my mom's feelings if I had).

She went to 12 Step meetings when I was a kid, called Al-Anon. She went because my dad was an alcoholic and so was her dad. She took me and the kids. I'd go to Alateen. They went to Alatots. Around age 14, I was in therapy with somebody she met in "The Program". She'd interrogate me afterwards about what I said in the therapy sessions and if I made her look like a bad mother. One weekend I was in some sort of workshop for people from alcoholic families. They had us sit in a circle, and asked us to quietly think about ourselves as children. I burst into horrible sobs. I had never cried like that in front of people before. They were all adults. I was crying, crying for Jenny, crying for the girl I was on that tricycle in that picture, crying for the childhood I'd never had, crying for the present time. I didn't know why I was crying; I just knew I couldn't stop. I'd learn later not to try meditating because it would throw me into a panic.

By 16, I was anorexic and also cutting myself with razors and knives regularly. I kept them hidden in my room. I spent all my time hiding in that room. She'd take the door off the hinges, in her rages, because it had a lock on it, and she didn't want me to be able to get away and hide in there where she couldn't hit me, or throw things at me, or scream in my face. Once, she threw a heavy porcelain duck at my head. It missed me, and made a big hole in the wall. Other times she'd just bang around, screaming, throwing things like chairs at me.

"I HATE YOU!! I WANT TO KILL YOU!! YOU RUINED MY LIFE!! OUR LIVES WOULD BE SO MUCH BETTER IF YOU WEREN'T AROUND!! WHY DON'T Y0U JUST DO US ALL A FAVOR AND KILL YOURSELF??!! I WISH I HAD AN ABORTION WITH YOU!!!"

I tried to kill myself the first time while I was 15. She was out of town on some trip with the kids that I didn't go on, because I knew that if I went, the entire miserable experience would be blamed on me. Every trip that didn't go well, every holiday that didn't go according to plan, all of it was blamed on me. "YOU RUINED EASTER. YOU RUINED CHRISTMAS. YOU RUINED THANKSGIVING. YOU RUINED MY BIRTHDAY. YOU RUINED MOTHER'S DAY". No wonder that, now, I hate holidays. All of them.
I took a bottle of her mood stabilizer pills and swallowed them, one at a time. Left a note. I guess I was hoping it would make her care. Or something. She found me and screamed at me all the way to the emergency room. "I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW SELFISH YOU ARE!! YOU JUST WANT TO MAKE ME LOOK LIKE A BAD MOTHER!!"

I'd find out later that I didn't really have to "make" her look that way. Some relatives of ours, back up north, already thought she was pretty bad at it. And they didn't know 1% if what went on.

She had her friends visit her at that hospital. I was in cardiac intensive care, because Depakote, like many drugs, can kill you if you OD on it. They had pumped my stomach and I was lying there when one of her friends from "The Program" (ie, Alanon), came in to ask me the same thing everybody at the hospital kept asking, "Why did you do it?"

I wanted to tell them to try walking in my shoes for a day.

Soon, I'd be seeing my first psychiatrist. He said he wanted me to go into foster care. I told her he'd said it, because I was like most victimized people; I identified with her. Who else was I going to try to get love from, my dad? He couldn't care less what happened to me. She was the first person I'd bonded to in life. I didn't know much about foster care, but I knew they usually took all the kids, and we'd probably be divided up. I didn't want that to happen to my brother and sister, even though she had always gotten them to side with her against me when she could. So I told her. I never saw that psychiatrist again. I never gotten put into foster care. I wish I had now.

I was 21 or 22. I went to a sporting goods shop to buy a gun. I hate guns and always have. This was my first time going near them. I wanted it to end, and I wanted to die. I went in there and made the payment on it. I'd saved up the money at my part time job. Then I went to a motel and spent the night. There is a three-day waiting period before you can take a gun out of a store in Florida. I knew that if I spent those three days near my brother and sister, I wouldn't be able to pull the trigger. So I went to a motel. Then I decided to try one last-ditch effort to get help. I went to a psychiatric hospital, the same one I'd been to at 17 for anorexia, where the doctors had told me I was going to have brain damage from starving myself if I wasn't lucky. I checked myself into the hospital. A day later, I checked out. I never shot myself, of course. I ended up going back to the house. The nightmare house. The house I'd flee from during her many attempts to throw me out onto the streets. The house I'd leave late at night to drive around in my car for hours, in order to escape her wrath. By this point, she was an alcoholic. Later she became a drug addict, or maybe before then, who knows. She took crack, I'd find out later.

I remember, clearly, when I finally moved out. She'd already tried to get the police to take me. They'd come into the house one night after one of her calls, one of those countless calls she made to people in order to scream about how I ruined her life. They'd come in and asked me if I had any weapons. I was lying on the couch in my pajamas, in severe physical pain. I'd been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Irritable Bowel Syndrome already. When the police asked me if I had any weapons, I laughed and told them that I was not the one they needed to worry about, it was her. She was the dangerous one. They told her they couldn't kick me out onto the street because "If you want to do that to your own daughter, you'll have to go to court to get an eviction put through." So when I finally moved out, I was 23 years old. I'd moved out for about six months at age 19, but then I felt badly about the kids being stuck alone with her, so I'd come back, back down from my grandparents' house in Maryland, back to Florida, back to her hellhole of a home. And things had gone right back to where they always were. At 23, I moved out and stayed out.

And that was the year I became completely psychotic.

It was from the sanctity of my dad's parents' home that I'd handled her drama then. I got someone to get her out of jail after she got arrested for assaulting a police officer. I tried to get her help for alcohol and drug addiction. I was calling lost distance, handling the travesties that were going on 1,000 miles away, because I didn't know how to be anybody other than her caretaker. That was who I had always been.

I never had a mother. I was her mother. She was my daughter. I raised her. But she never grew up.

When I was living with my grandparents (my dad's parents), my grandmother, who is now dead, sat at her kitchen table and said things like, "Jenny, your mother has never treated you right. Jenny, she was always jealous of you from the time you were born. She was never a mother to you." I should have listened to that more intently. A couple of aunts told me the same thing. But oddly, none of these people were around for the abuse. They never had intervened, and neither had my father. No one had. No one had really cared.

I remember sitting in a high school class with a teacher who was saying, "I know specific kids in this classroom right now who are being abused at home." And I knew she was talking about me, and I felt badly, because how could I have made it my mother look so bad?

At age 24, it was all over for me. That was when psychosis took hold of my life. She'd get clean and sober, and luckily for her she'd stay that way, but she never really changed all that much. The manipulation, the guilt trips, the sob stories, the anger, all of that is still there. So much for "The Program". So much for mood stabilizers and antidepressants, too. What she really always needed was a desire to change for the better. So much for that. So much for Jesus. She's still in Programs. She still goes to the same kind of church. She still takes mood stabilizers and antidepressants. What she has not ever done is go to therapy. She won't do that. Most people go to therapy because they want to change, and are willing to put some effort into it. She never fit that category.

No wonder then, that I don't believe in The 12 Steps. No wonder that I don't have "A Program", although she never stops telling me how much I "need" one. No wonder that I actually do go to therapy - or maybe that is a wonder. I know no one else in my family who does it. Maybe that is unique and a bit surprising, considering from whence I came.

No wonder that I still get those old tapes in my head.

"I hate you."

"I want to kill you."

"You ruined my life."

Yesterday was Mother's Day. I'm not into the whole Hallmark Card holiday bull crap mess. I have no interest in it. It frankly makes me want to vomit. But what did I do yesterday? I went to an expensive restaurant I couldn't afford to eat at, only to make appearances. I went and I paid for my food. I smiled for the camera, because my brother's girlfriend, whose idea this was, wanted to have a picture of it. I bought my mom a dozen red roses and a vase, which I couldn't afford. I gave them to her. I went to her house, because my brother wouldn't; he never was subject to the abuse I was by her, and yet, he does a much better job of distancing himself from her than I do, I guess because he doesn't feel like he needs her as I always have. I got physically sick. I laid down, in her bed, while she was downstairs. I couldn't feel my face; it had gone numb. My bladder was in spasms, and it still is. Stress aggravates all of my chronic health problems, of which there are a great many. No one in my entire family could care less about my chronic, weird diseases that they think I just invent for my personal pleasure.

Here are some of them:

-Fibromyalgia
-Lupus
-Sjogren's Syndrome
-Irritable Bowel Syndrome
-Endometriosis
-Hypothyroidism
-Arthritis

I am 40 years old, and I've had all these problems for 20 years. Now, apparently, I also have Interstitial Cystits or some other bladder problem. I have to go see yet another specialist this week. Stress makes all of these health problems worse.

And, of course there are these:
-Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder
-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

And the fact that I never sleep like a normal person.

She doesn't hit me now. I don't let her; I won't ever let her again, and she knows it. She still has rages, but generally, she keeps them milder than they used to be. I don't know why or how, nor do I care. She doesn't drink or do drugs, and I give her a lot of credit for that, but then, I've never drank or done drugs in my life, and nobody has ever given me any credit for not becoming an addict like the rest of my alcoholic family did.

I try to set boundaries now. When I can. It's hard. But generally, she knows not to scream at me or I'll hang up the phone, and she knows that I won't (and can't) give her money. Not anymore.

We had to go to the restaurant we went to yesterday, specifically because my brother's girlfriend wanted to go there and she is the kind of person we are supposed to Impress. His opinion, and therefore his girlfriend's opinion, matter. Mine doesn't. So I was told not to ever tell them the fact that my mom had taken it upon herself to call my cousin, who had actually for some reason invited me to his wedding, which is something none of my other married cousins ever did (with one exception), and tell my cousin that I was not going to be attending the wedding but that she would like my brother's girlfriend to go in my place. She didn't consult me about this. She just did it. That's how she is. I had made an offhand remark to her about having no money to fly to Maryland for that wedding. Since she wants to make a good Appearance, she took that and ran with it. It's very Important that we Impress people who Matter at all times. It's not very important that we treat the family scapegoat like anything other than a piece of shit. So she did that. Then she called me and yelled about how her nephew (the one who is getting married) had made her really angry by telling her that there was an alternate guest list and that he wasn't sure if my brother's girlfriend could attend. I was supposed to care that this had happened. To my brother's girlfriend, that is, not to me. See, I don't Matter. So yesterday, we're at this fancy restaurant with food that my mom hates, and it's Mother's Day, and I'm there with her stupid flowers, and I'm trying to put on a good show for my brother's Important girlfriend, and my mom tells her, "Wait until I show you the wedding invitation!". Now, I myself have never seen that invitation, which actually had my name on it, but nevermind that. I don't Matter.


Later she told me that my brother and his girlfriend asked if there was something mentally wrong with me again. Nice.

I'm distancing myself from her now. My brother, I don't need to distance myself from him, since I never see him. He has apparently forgotten who was around when he was drinking himself to death, who tried to help him more than anyone else, who searched the entire county for him on multiple occasions, but whatever. He doesn't care to hear from me, and I've got no room to pretend like people who hurt me all the time are not hurtful.

I'm sticking to myself for a while now.

Edit: the year that photo was taken was 1978 not 73, and also in case you get the wrong idea I'm still doing fine and my meds work.

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