Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fund Medicare, Not Warfare

This past weekend, the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the US war on Iraq, I participated in a local protest against the war. I have been against this war since before it ever started, which was when I participated in my first protest in Washington DC, near where I lived at the time.

I used to be part of a group called Code Pink that held a vigil in front of the White House that winter, when the war started, and one of the signs I made that I would hold there said, "fund Medicare not warfare". Today I feel the same sentiment and it is part of my motivation for declaring dissent against a seemingly endless occupation of a country that never really wanted our "help" in the first place.

While the United States has spent billions of dollars waging war on Iraq and Afghanistan, ostensibly to fight terrorism, real problems here in the United States have gone utterly ignored, with no solutions for them getting any funding from anywhere. Homelessness is rampant in this country, and a large percentage of homeless people suffer from some form of mental illness. Often they suffer from Schizophrenia. I have been homeless myself more than once, and it is a personal as well as a political issue to me.

While a large percentage of Americans have no healthcare whatsoever, another portion has healthcare coverage that does not include equal coverage for mental health.

While funding for the war has steadily increased, funding for programs like Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security has been cut.

I rely on Medicare and Medicaid for healthcare, and I rely on the healthcare to keep me alive, basically. I would not be here right now if I was not taking medications that held my delusional thoughts and suicidal urges at bay.

So this is just a post to remind people that four years later, unfortunately, the massive amounts of dissent that have been raised in opposition to this war have been ignored by people in power like our wonderful president, and unfortunately the war is still going on and costing us billions of dollars all the time.

Yet there are things you can do. Moveon.org has been a way to protest online for a few years now. United for Peace and Justice still holds large protests every so often, including this past weekend. And dozens of other resources can be found online for everything from antiwar bumper stickers, to petitions, to materials for holding your own vigil or rally against the war. I hope more people will speak out and I hope that those who have been speaking out against this war will continue to do so until our words are no longer necessary.

Friday, March 09, 2007

a suicide attempt - but not mine

A few days ago, after my last post, my boyfriend overdosed. He left me a note on the bedroom door and took a bunch of pills, went to the bedroom, and locked it. I came home to find this situation, and ever since have been preoccupied with getting him the help he needs. Also, I have managed to be confident enough in myself that I was able to tell him he cannot live here unless he gets treatment for drug abuse and sees a psychiatrist for his bipolar disorder. He has agreed to do these things, so he'll be coming home tomorrow.

I have a lot of experience with suicidality and with hospitals. The particular hospital he is in now is one where I have been on more than one occassion and stayed, the last time, for quite a while for being very suicidal (and very psychotic) myself. So I get it, and while I know that in part this was a manipulative act done to make sure that he was not really kicked out of the apartment (and in that sense it worked), in part it was also the desperate act of someone severely depressed and in need of help who does not know how or want to ask for it directly. So now he is getting help, which is a beneficial outcome of all of this.

It has been interesting visiting him in the hospital ward where I was once captive myself, and being able, this time, to come and go freely, having the doors unlocked to let me out after visitation time is over. I've never been the "visitor" before; I've always been the "patient". It has been a bit empowering, I think, to experience the entering, sitting in, and leaving this unit where I was sure I was being tortured and raped during my psychotic episodes when I was there a couple of years ago. It is, actually, a good unit as far as psychiatric units go, and I'm glad he has been there for a few days.

He'll be coming home tomorrow. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I've started taking Invega, a new antipsychotic, and we'll see how that goes too.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

break up

My boyfriend stayed out for two days and two nights (again) without calling me. Finally last night, well, early this AM, he called to tell me he has gone back to doing drugs, a problem that he used to have. He apologized but I knew that if I let him come back in and continue as if nothing much had happened he will just continue this behavior.
So I told him if he's going to be doing drugs he can't live here. He said he would move out. Then he said no, he won't move out. He wants me to move out.

This is MY apartment which I waited for ten months in a group home to get. It's a low income apartment owned by a mental health organization. I got it for myself, and I let him move into it. Unfortunately, he could not have moved in unless he was put on the lease. So he is on the lease, and he knows that I can't make him move out.
I'm trying to find a way around that problem, but this is all terribly depressing.

I loved this person for a long time. I feel so totally alone now and heartbroken and miserable.

yet another new medication...

So, I'll be trying yet another medication. My psychiatrist thinks Abilify is not working for me since I've started having symptoms again since taking it. I had switched from Risperdal to Abilify after gaining nearly fifty pounds on Risperdal, which has been very upsetting since I had an eating disorder for years when I was younger (anorexia).
But I started to have auditory hallucinations, recurrent, intrusive thoughts and depression descending upon me once again in the past month while I've been on Abilify. So she doesn't want me to take that anymore.
I'm not happy because Abilify is one of two antipsychotics that is not known to cause weight gain - all the rest are known for doing so. But the one I'm trying "might" not cause me to put on more pounds. It is supposed to affect the brain the same way Risperdal does (and I did very well on Risperdal Consta shots), but without affecting the metabolism like Risperdal does (which is how you gain weight on Risperdal).
So this new drug, which just came out in January she says, is called Invega.

I'd be really interested to hear if anyone who stops by here has taken it, since, at least in the US, I don't think very many people have.

I take quite a bit of medication: nine pills and two nasal sprays every morning, two pills in the afternoon, and six or so at night. Some are for psychiatric reasons and the rest are physical. Sometimes I feel like a walking pharmaceutical experiment. I should have stock in Eli Lilly by now.

Also, I just wanted to mention I get a lot more motivated to write in this blog when there are comments. When there aren't I start to wonder if anyone is even finding this little page or looking at it at all. So, yes, I'm asking you to say something - pathetic though it might seem. Just let me know you're there. Thanks!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

how much can be recovered?

I was just looking at this website, and found it rather interesting. I kind of like the concept, although I'm a little hesitant to say that. The idea they put out, as far as I understand it, is that recovery from any illness involves accepting the new state one is in because of the illness rather than try to "recover" to the state one was in before.

In my experience with chronic illnesses, both physical and psychiatric, recovery to the state I was in before the illness has not been possible. But I have to stay it sticks in my mind as a goal. Particularly with the schizophrenia, I don't really want to accept the idea, with my whole self, that I can never function again like I did before the onset of this illness. In fact with medication I've been able to recover to a certain degree and that has been very uplifting.

At the same time I know there's a reason why we call chronic illnesses "chronic" and not acute; they last. They don't really heal and go away. Which is why western medicine does a crappy job of treating them, as western medicine is particularly designed to treat things that can heal and go away.

Right now, as breakthrough symptoms are happening because of my recent medication change, I'm quite aware of the fact that I'll never (probably) recover from Schizophrenia completely. I have accepted, to a degree, that I'll probably be living with this illness for the rest of my life, and even that I may have to deal with some active symptoms for the rest of my life. This is not a pleasant thought by any means, but it is the likely reality of the situation.

Going from the experience of having no symptoms for some months, to experiencing a few instances of hallucinations again has been really disappointing and demoralizing for me. I knew, when I switched medication, that there was a good chance such a change would take place, and discussed this with my therapist. But I was really hoping it wouldn't happen.

Now I'm having a lot of intrusive thoughts of unpleasant things and nasty words that aren't mine but are generated from some part of my mind. And I don't like going down this road again. I wanted to forget this place. I liked being able to describe it as something that used to happen to me, but no longer does. I was, I guess, being naive to talk about it that way.

I'm afraid now. Afraid of continually deteriorating again. Afraid to find out what scary thoughts and words my brain is going to come out with next. Afraid of the acute sense of loneliness I'm feeling because I have nobody who truly understands this experience in my life and therefore I only talk about it in the therapist's office or online. I'm afraid that I'll go from random thoughts of guns back to wanting a gun all the time, and then to buying one and blowing my head off one day even though I don't really want to die.

That's what I'm afraid of the most.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

awakening

If there is a Satan he laughs every time some person suffering from insomnia drags they're tired butt out of bed and feigns being awake to get on with their day. I've had insomnia my whole life, but it was better because of the Klonopin I take every night with Anafranil (an anti-anxiety pill and an antidepressant). Now that I'm off the antipsychotic shot and taking an antipsychotic pill instead (Abilify), insomnia is back with a vengeance, as that's a side effect of this pill.

So, it's the middle of the night and I can't sleep.

I get up (noticing it's 2 AM) and go to the kitchen to make my boyfriend's lunch for him to take to work tomorrow. Standing there I think about the guy I worked with a couple of years ago who said his girlfriend made his lunch every day and how I laughed and said something like, "so what's wrong with your arms that you can't do it yourself?". I never thought I would be a girlfriend who would make somebody's lunch (and dinner) every day, but I am now.

I wish I could say this is just because I love him, that I want to do these things. But it's more like because I need him, and he wants me to do these things. I feel safer with him. Not that long ago, living alone, I was plagued with terrifying delusions and an intense desire to learn a proper method of killing myself so that I could end the horrors every day brought to my mind. My therapist thinks that from this time period I developed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because my delusions were so frightening. I believe she's probably right. So, although I'm a feminist, and although I do think about the fact that there is nothing wrong with his arms or legs and no reason why he can't prepare food for himself, I find that the times when I lie down with him on the couch and he puts his arm around me, and I feel safe - somehow those times make the effort worthwhile.

Somehow having another person with me makes me think it's less likely I'll fall into neverneverland again. I think that having someone with whom you can check reality by looking at them and saying, "hey, they're not afraid of going to a concentration camp tomorrow, maybe I'm not really going to one", having someone with whom you can bounce off your thoughts - well I think that helps. I also feel that it makes me more "normal" and socially acceptable, and that this is somehow safer, which is probably a thought related to my old delusions when I believed that having a mental illness and being "abnormal" and always alone were reasons I was going to be killed.

If you are interested in the terror that can be brought on by delusional thoughts, the early posts from the beginning of this blog can give you an example of what it's like. It's horrifying - at least in my experience, because my particular delusions were pretty horrifying and definitely unpleasant.

So, I am in a bit of a conundrum now. I find that I'm living with this person who, much of the time, I can't relate to, and who, much of the time, doesn't really treat me as well as he should, doesn't appreciate everything I do for him, and doesn't have enough respect for me as a human being. Yet I need to feel safe. I am terrified of being alone again. Terrified because I remember what happened the last time I lived alone.

And so I put up with a lot of bullcrap that, especially as a feminist, I never thought I would put up with. I never thought someone who told me I needed to lose weight because I gained some pounds from taking antipsychotic medication was a person I'd want to be around. I never thought that I'd cook and clean and do laundry for a man. I never thought I'd sit in my bedroom so he could have the living room to himself watching television on a TV that I bought, as if he owns the place. But I find myself doing these things.

And I feel trapped. I feel like there is no way out of this situation, and I don't know quite what to do.

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