Thursday, January 31, 2008

symptoms

I wanted to describe some of the problems I've been having recently, in the way of an update on my mental health.

On Invega, I was doing really well for quite a while, not hearing things, and not hallucinating at all, and not having delusions. I had them ocassionally, but it was mild in comparison to the way things used to be before I was on medication. I did well before Invega, on Risperdal, so I've been getting better for quite a while now.

Then recently I started having some symptoms pop up more than usual. When my boyfriend left, things culminated in a lot of stress. I've also been really stressed by my job (which I now no longer am at) and that was adding to the problem. So I began to have some symptoms, like the following:

Hearing people say, "You'll walk home" every time someone was actually saying, "you're welcome", because I had said, "thank you" for something. In my mind, because of particular delusions I have had for a long time, this phrase refers to the walk people would take to a concentration camp when people would be forced to go there, in a time that existed in the future, in my delusions. So this is a frightening thing, when someone says, "you'll walk home". It's still happening a lot right now.

Hearing people tell me to "die" and "do it" and "kill yourself", and things like that.

Seeing the word, "razor" flash on the TV screen when I was trying to watch a TV show, leading me to think I was being directed to slice my wrists.

Mild things, like hearing my name called a lot when there's no one there, or seeing something out of the corner of my eye that's not really there. These are not major symptoms, but they are indications that my mind is not working as well as it could be.

Depression, thoughts of suicide, and self harm, and shooting myself in the head particularly as that is my mode of choice when it comes to suicidal thoughts. Thoughts of guns and gun stores, and desires to go to buy a gun and shoot myself.

Seeing hand motions that people make and thinking that they are symbolic messages being made to send particular ideas to my mind. For example, my therapist was talking to me, and she touched her neck and I thought, "she's telling me to slit my throat".

These are things that led me to go into the hospital.

I would like to mention that I don't have these things happen most of the time. Most of the time, now, I'm steady on my medication, and even though that medication has caused me a lot of distressful weight gain, that medication has absolutely saved my life.

So when these things do happen again, I can tell that some deterioration is going on, and I need some adjustment to the medication. Which is what I got done in the hospital.

I stopped taking Seroquel and went back on Abilify, in combination with my Invega, to fight the psychosis. Hopefully, once I get on a higher dose of Abilify it will work better than it did the last time I tried it (it didn't work then), and hopefully I will eventually be able to go off the Invega which caused me to gain so much weight, and my symptoms won't all return because of it. That is the ideal possible situation, which seems rather unlikely in reality, but I can hope.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

To People in the Psychiatric Hospitals

I just came out of the hospital after another little trip for medication adjustment. I was admitted because I was hearing voices telling me to commit suicide. My doctor gave me the option of signing myself in, but made clear that if I did not do so, she would Baker Act me, meaning commit me. (The Baker Act is a law in Florida that governs mental health.)

In the hospital I remembered everything I hate about being in the hospital. There are no books, no magazines, and no games. Nothing to do, in the hospital I went to. The only therapy offered is one support group a day, and nothing else is done to occupy the time but community meeting in the morning and at night, and meals three times a day, plus one snack. The days are very long.

And what I hate about the hospital is the way that I see people being treated by ignorant "mental health professionals" who are really uneducated, glorified babysitters.

So this is what I want to say to you, if you are locked inside a psychiatric ward right now.

1. You are human. Don't ever forget that, no matter how much you are demoralized, dehumanized, and degraded by insulting terms, power struggles, and idiotic rules and regimens. You are more than just a "patient". You are a human being. And you matter.

2. It won't last forever. You will be out sooner or later, and the time that you spend in the hospital is just that, time that passes. It will pass. Don't lose hope that you will never get out. There are laws to prevent you from being held for too long.

3. They don't understand you. People working in psychiatric hospitals are not all doctors. Some of them just have a high school education and a lot of ignorance about mental illness. They won't know how to react to your psychosis, if you're psychotic, sometimes, because they've never been psychotic and they've never been taught how to handle it. Try to be patient with them. They don't know of whence you came.

4. The voices you hear are in your head. You know you hear them, and I know you hear them, and I know how real they are. But they are in your head, not coming from the real world. I know this is hard to accept. I know that you might not believe it. That's okay too. If this sounds like it doesn't pertain to you, that doesn't mean it doesn't pertain to you, but it means you can't really deal with it right now. I understand, and it's okay. When they tell you to "snap out of it", or "get a grip" or "stop talking to yourself" they are speaking out of ignorance because THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND PSYCHOSIS AT ALL, and you might just be psychotic. And that's okay too. Psychotic is not the end of the world. It's a temporary state of mind. If you don't think you are, that's okay too. You're going to be okay.

5. Take the medication. Don't spit out the pills or tongue them or do anything else to get rid of them, unless they are making you physically sick, in which case you have evrey right to refuse to take them. But there is a reason why you're on medication, and if you're hallucinating or hearing voices, or even if you are just kind of having weird experiences that nobody seems to understand, you might need that medication to be able to be your regular self again. It won't kill you. It's not poison. They're not trying to kill you. Just take it. You'll get out of the hospital a lot faster this way.

6. The hospital w on't fix your problems. Hospitals are temporary holding cells for when life is too much and we can't keep ourselves safe or we can't tolerate the issues going on with our minds. Hospitals are not the place to go because you want to get away from your problems. I don't think that's why you went there, but if you go there a lot, you might want to consider that there are other solutions. There are community mental health centers, and there are doctors' offices, and there are therapists, and there are day treatment programs, and there are self-help support groups that are free, and there are drop-in centers, and there are clubhouses, and there are volunteer jobs, and there are paying jobs, and there are art classes, and there are many, many things you might be able to do for yourself that would help you a lot more than being in the hospital. This said, if you are in the hospital now, you probably need to be there, so make the most of it, and work on your problems as best you can.

7. Cooperate. You will get out of the hospital faster, and your stay will be a lot easier if you do. It's not always in your control, and I understand that. People usually end up in restraints in the quiet room because of things that are NOT IN THEIR CONTROL. The people who work there might not understand that, but the people who have been there do.

8. You are just as smart, just as capable, just as human, and just as important, as the people with the power over you right now who work at the hospital. Don't ever forget that even for a second. Because you may be talked down to, but you do not need to adhere to demeaning treatment.

9. Write. The best thing you can do when you are in the hospital is write down what's on your mind, and write down what you want to change about psychiatric hospitals to improve them when you get out, and write down what you want to change about yourself and your life so you don't end up in there again, and write down why you want to live and why you DO NOT want to kill yourself. Write how you feel and what you think and what you want to say. Write to the v oices in your head and tell them to shut up. Write.

10. Talk to people, and listen. The other people in the hospital may help you more than you realize they can. And you can help yourself a great deal too.

I'm still around...(*update*)

It's been a while since I've written. I thought it might be a good time to do an update to this blog, since someone I know was reading it, and that reminded me how long it's been since I'd been here.

DAISIES: Dedicated Advocacy, Individual Support, Independence, and Education for Schizophrenia and Related Disorders is a group I started a couple months ago. It was an idea I had a couple years ago which took a while to come into fruition. The local community mental health center where I go opened a recovery center where people can hold support groups, and my therapist and I thought it would be a good idea for me to follow through with my dream of a local schizophrenia support group, since none existed around here. So I did....and it has been going quite well.

So I do that every Saturday now.

In other news, I was just in the hospital again for the first time in two and a half years. It only lasted six days this time, not several months like my last hospitalization, and it was just because some symptoms came up that broke through my medication regimen, and my meds had to be adjusted. I'll post more about the hospital stay later (and hospital stays in general, because a lot of things about psych hospitals piss me off).

A lot of things about psychiatry piss me off....

So for how I've been doing since last March.....I've been on Invega since around that time, and I've been taking it religiously. I gained about 50 pounds on it, which is not good, and I find that to be the most distressing thing about taking my medication, because overall I've gained about 100 pounds in the past two and a half years, because of medication. I was thin, and anorexic, before that, and I'm not a compulsive overeater. Antipsychotic medications frequently make people gain a lot of weight. It's a very troublesome problem, which can, of course, lead to diabetes and all sorts of other problems such as your boyfriend leaving you because he decides he doesn't love you anymore after you become fat.

So my boyfriend left me a couple weeks ago. I will survive.

I take the following pills now:
Invega
Abilify (just started back on that even though it didn't work for me in the past)
Klonopin
Prozac
Inderal (for side effects of other meds)
Synthroid (for hypothyroidism)
Risperdal
and a couple other things for medical issues that aren't psychiatric

This is my new regimen, circa the time I was in the hospital for this past week.

I haven't written in a while, partly because I was using up all my energy on a couple of things that are no longer going to be sucking me dry. These were: my boyfriend, and my job. I had a difficult relationship with boyfriend which I was constantly trying to fix with all sorts of efforts that ultimately failed. And I had a difficult job that ended up causing me a tremendous amount of stress. My boyfriend left two weeks ago. Today I quit my job.

I'll be writing more in the future.

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