Friday, February 29, 2008

Weight gain from medication

Since I started taking antipsychotic medications 2 1/2 years ago, I've gained about 100 pounds. All my life, before this, I had been very thin, and I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain weight (though I never did eat very much because I had a history of anorexia as well).

It's very interesting to note the way society treats you when you are overweight versus the way it treats you when you are thin. When I was thin, and fit into the socially accepted version of what pretty is, I got a lot of attention from the opposite sex. When I went on dating websites, and posted a picture, I would get literally hundreds of emails from interested people. Now, because I'm about 100 pounds bigger, when I post a picture on a website, which I did recently just for the heck of if, I get a handful of responses and I think most of those people failed to look at the picture.

Being overweight, and being looked upon as if I am therefore lazy, and like I don't care about my appearance, is very demoralizing. My ex-boyfriend used to tell me that I was overweight, and that he was no longer attracted to me because of it. This did wonders for my self esteem.

The reason I am overweight is completely because of the antipsychotic medication. I can't eat anything anymore, without gaining weight, because of what the meds do to my metabolism. And I am hungry literally all the time. It's horrible.

With all the advances in modern medicine, you would think there would be more antipyschotic drugs that do not cause such side effects, but the majority of them do cause weight gain. I joke with my friend that I am going to go off my meds in order to be skinny again - even if it means going out of my mind and living in a hospital all the time. Obviously I would never do that. I take the meds every day, and I take them despite the fact that my whole society deems my body size unattractive, and men are no longer interested in me. What choice do I really have? The medication keeps me sane; obviously I would be stupid to stop taking it.

Sometimes, though, I wish I could stop taking it, just so I could look in the mirror and LIKE what I saw again, rather than feel disgust at the sight of myself.

I can't tolerate Geodon, which does not cause weight gain, and I had such severe side effects from it (extra pyramidal symptoms) that I ended up in the hospital when I took it a couple of years ago. I am currently taking Abilify, the other one that supposedly does not cause weight gain, but it makes me vomit almost every single day, and that has been going on for a month. So I don't see myself taking that for the rest of my life, or being able to go off my other medications because it works for me (it doesn't seem to be working at all actually).

So I have no choice. I am stuck drugging myself with fat-inducing pills and praying to a God I don't really believe in that I don't end up being 500 pounds. Because I am already heavy enough, and I just wonder how much of this kind of aggravation is a person supposed to put up with just so they can remain sane. It seems unfair, and it bothers me, but I have to accept that this is just the way that life is, and this is my cross to bear.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Delusions of a Man

Update, on sleep: I did go to my doctor's office, though the doctor did not see me, and I told my caseworker there what is happening with my lack of sleep. So, the doctor increased my Seroquel. I think I mentioned this already, actually. I go back next week to see the doctor, and tell her that this increase is not enough for me to sleep at a normal hour. Just wanted to fill you all in on that, if you've been reading along here.

So I think I'll write about something that I never talk about here, since the subject is a person and the person knows how to find this blog, since I told him about it before. And the main problem is, it's a cause of severe humiliation, which I like to avoid like most humans, so I don't tend to talk about this subject. But the thing is, it's a major part of my life, and I can't avoid it by not talking about it. It's a problem that other people with Schizophrenia might be able to relate to.

So, there's this guy and I've known him for a number of years. I've only known him through the internet though, and the phone. We have never met in person, although we have known each other since 1997, which, as you might notice, was a long time ago.

When I first met this guy, online, the guy and I had a short romantic relationship over the phone where we ended up saying we loved each other and stuff like that. That did not last long though. The guy figured, quickly, that this was silly since we had never met in person, and the guy basically stopped talking to me for some time. Then we would talk again, but only as friends. So we have remained friends, on again and off again, but mostly on, since that time.

The thing is, I have delusional thoughts that have bothered me the whole time I've known this guy, about how he's my soulmate and I'm meant to be with him and live with him and marry him and all sorts of silly things. I call these delusional thoughts, because:
1. Never met the guy
2. Guy has no interest in me whatsoever as a romantic partner
3. Guy lives with his girlfriend and their child now

So, as you can see, my thoughts that we're going to live happily ever after, were never based in reality.

The problem is, whenever I end up lonely or feeling the need to connect with someone, I turn to this person. I do that because t his is the only guy I've ever known who truly seems to understand me as who I am, and accept me for it. The only one. My boyfriend of two and half years did not know key information about me, because I never told him. But I did tell this guy. I told this guy a lot of things I never talked about with anyone.

Sometimes, the guy will call me, and sometimes, we chat like old friends on the phone. Mostly, however, our relationship consists of emails, and mostly, those emails are written by me.

It occurs to me that the guy probably thinks I'm a joke. He knows all about my mental illness, and he has his own troubles in that arena, so to some extent we can relate. But he's not Schizophrenic, and he does not relate to most of my problems like delusional thinking. So he doesn't understand why I come up with the idea in my head that he is Mr. Wonderful.

I tell myself that the whole thing is silly. That nobody is Mr. Wonderful, but that there are many wonderful people out there, and I just have not met most of them. I tell myself that this guy has never shown (in the past ten years) any interest in even MEETING ME FOR COFFEE ONCE. You would think that would set my mind straight.

But I have Schizophrenia, and I am prone to delusional thinking. This person, apparently, is a "stuck" delusion that I can't get rid of. It doesn't help that I talk to him almost every day because that, of course, probably makes it impossible to stop having the delusoinal thoughts.

THere have been, however, times when I did not have these delusional thoughts. When I was with my boyfriend, and I was not lonely, I was able to view this person as my friend, and just an internet friend (which is all this person wants to be to me), and things went fine. I could email him every so often, and he could email me, and it didn't get wacky or out of control.

Other times, however, I think about this person and I think, this is the ONE person that I am meant to be with, and I think, I'll never be happy without him in my life. I know how ridiculous this sounds, considering, I've NEVER MET the guy. But you have to understand, this is the person who I send poetry to that I never show to anyone else after I write it. This is the person I trust more than I trust you or anybody else reading this. This is the person who I think of as my closest friend in the world.

And that's the problem. So I finally told my therapist, today, that this has become a problem for me again, lately. I told her this person is not the least bit interested in ever even meeting me, that this person lives with his child and his girlfriend and they are about to have another baby together, and this person and I have absolutely no communication that would indicate this person is interested in ME at all (not in the past ten years anyway). I told her that, despite these facts, I think about this person every day and I think things that are delusional.

My therapist told me to stop writing to him. I find that EXTREMELY difficult to do, because, as has been mentioned here previously, I have not a lot of people in my life who I talk to about things, and I get very isolated and lonely. However, I think my therapist is giving me wise advice, which, I am going to try to take.

What I would like to know from you is, if you can relate to this problem at all, and if so what have you done about it? Any feedback is appreciated!

So, for now, I might end up writing more here, because I no longer have the person I can talk to about anything with, and that makes things harder. I am already having some troubles with not sleeping, and that makes things harder too. I am getting really behind in my college coursework, and basically failing my Algebra class. That is distressing me. And I haven't managed to find a job. So that's a problem. Then today, of all days, my menstrual cycle hit, for the first time in like six months (I have Endometriosis), so my hormones are out of wack too. So this is a precarious time for me, and to be quite honest with you, I am not sure how I am going to manage it without having my friend to talk to about things. I already feel very alone. But thanks for listening.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Not Being Able to Concentrate

This is absolutely the worst problem I still have from this damn disorder. I can't concentrate to do my schoolwork. I have a terribly frustrating time, every time I sit down to learn some Algebra. I literally cannot do it anymore. It is like my brain gets turned off, with a switch, and I don't know how to turn it back on.

Sometimes when I try to read a book - about anything - I have the same experience. I have to read the page 20 times before the words sink into my brain.

This is a really bad problem to have when you're trying to earn a college degree. At the rate I'm going with my math, I'll never get my degree. I got really far behind by going into the hospital a few weeks ago, and I haven't manage to catch up since then. I have a tutor, through the office for students with disabilities, but she can't teach me this much in 45 minutes a week, it's just not possible. I sit down to try to teach myself, and it's hopeless.

The problem is exacerbated by my lack of sleep. When you are up all night, your brain doesn't have any refresher, and it's hard to retain information after such a night.

So tomorrow, I have a test, and, based on how I'm doing on the practice test, it looks like I am going to fail it. This is very distressing.

I wonder if other people with Schizophrenia have this much trouble concentrating. I've heard that it is a common problem, but I always thought if I stayed on medication, the problem would go away. Such was not the case. I got better in most other senses, but this problem never got any better than it was when I was the most sick. I don't know how I managed to get through the past year and a half at school, actually. I just skim through everything that has to be read.

isolated in a world full of people, and other thoughts

Well, everyone, if you watched the Oscars, maybe you noticed that Atonement and Juno got robbed. Yes, this is off-topic for this blog, but I feel the need to mention my supreme disappointment in the Academy Awards for giving the Best Picture Award to a bloody-gory-icky-macho-man-killer-violence flick, like No Country for Old Men, which is, I think, the one that won. Oh well....

At least Juno won for Best Screenplay, which was good!

In other news, I am saddened that Hillary does not appear to be winning with her campaign, but she still has a chance.

Now, back to the topic that fits, ie, me and my brain. I have not been sleeping. Argh! This is a very frustrating problem, that, apparently, is still not understood by my doctor who fails to do much about it when told. I went in to see my caseworker today and informed her that I've been up till 8 AM most nights lately, even when taking Seroquel 200 mgs, and Restoril 30 mgs for sleep. She relayed this information to the doctor, whose response was to write me a prescription for Seroquel 300 mgs, and say that should help.

Hahaha. That should help me go to sleep at 6 AM, maybe!! My brain does not respond well to medications for sleep, anymore. I don't know why, and I don't particularly care what the reason is, I just want the problem to be addressed as if it matters. Which is not happening. I am thinking about looking elsewhere for a doctor. I currently go to the community mental health center, but I am not overly impressed by the length of time doctors have to spend with you there, which is about 5 minutes. This may be no better elsewhere, but I could at least pick out the person that gets to be my doctor if I was going somewhere else. At the community mental health center, the person gets picked for me by others. I have been told by my caseworker and my therapist that the one that I'm seeing (ARNP) is one of the best they have, which she may very well be. However, how long am I supposed to go without getting any meaningful sleep before I end up psychotic? That's what I would like to know.

I am at the point where I would take Thorazine, just to go to sleep. I don't really care what it is that I have to take, I just want to sleep again. One night of sleep would do wonders for me.

I should mention, the last time I went to the doctor, my doctor was out sick so I saw another doctor in replacement for her. I met this doctor and she said that, based on the lack of sleep that I'm experiencing, I must be manic. I will tell you, I've talked to everybody I am close to and in frequent contact with about this and nobody thinks I'm manic but that doctor. I don't think that doctor, who spent a few minutes meeting me, is really correct on that idea. So, mania is not an explanation. I know this because, for one thing, I know the kinds of things I do when I am manic, and I'm not doing those things right now. I also know that, if I was manic, it would probably be the fault of the medication I'm on, since I take Prozac and I don't take a mood stabilizer, and doing that can make a person manic if a person has a problem with mood swings. I do this because...you guessed it! The doctor prescribes me Prozac. I did not come up with the idea to put myself on that medication. I just went along with the program, which is not always a good idea to do.

I'm not saying that Prozac doesn't help me. Indeed, I believe it does. I think it's great for my OCD problems and I have noticed a marked difference in the amount of obsessive thoughts I have no versus when I was taking another medication for that problem. But even my therapist pointed out that Prozac or any other antidepressant could make a person manic. I still contend that I'm not the least bit manic right now, but if I was, the point is, it would probably be my doctor's fault. Or, I should say, the fault of the medication which was given to me by the doctor.

Anyway, I would know if I was manic. I would be shopping a lot and looking for activities to be involved in, and I would have energy and would be motivated to clean my apartment - none of which is happening at all. I would also be irritable, which I'm not, or angry, or laughing all the time, which is also not happening. I think if that doctor who just met me had spent twenty minutes with me instead of five, she would have realized straight away that mania is not the problem. If anything, I'm horribly depressed! I have no motivation, and I cannot concentrate at all to do my schoolwork, which is causing my grades to deteriorate. My apartment is in shambles, and I have no energy to work on fixing it up.

Also, I am terribly lonely. I find this to be a recurrent problem in my life, which must, obviously, have more to do with me than with any other people or a lack of other people, since it keeps happening. I find that it's easy for me to be close to a couple of people, but I have a hard time making friends with larger numbers of folks, which is unfortunate, because I could use more friends than just that couple of people. I mean, I also don't have a lot of friends who I have very much in common with anymore, and that can be a problem that leads a person to feel rather isolated and lonely. I used to have a group of friends who I had things in common with, and then I got sick and started to exhibit all those bizarre symptoms which characterize Schizophrenia, and those people basically evaporated from my life one by one. I miss them sometimes. I didn't live in the same area as any of them, but I knew them all really well, and they knew me pretty well, but not well enough for them to understand what was happening when my brain went haywire. So that was too bad.

I do have one new friend. I met her at my support group, and we do have some things in common. I am glad to know her, though we still don't know each other all that well yet. Other than that, I haven't had many opportunities to meet people lately, so it is rather difficult to make friends. I find that in my Algebra class nobody really talks to each other, and I haven't made any friends at school because that's the only class I have that has actual class meetings. My other class is online.

I brought this topic - isolation and loneliness - up in my support group before, because I think, based on what I've read and what I've experienced, that it is pretty common to have this kind of problem when you have an illness like Schizophrenia. I think you get this label and it leaves you feeling a little separated from the rest of the world. I also think that, in some ways, what you experience with this illness really does separate you from the rest of the world, because you have weird experiences which most people cannot understand or relate to very well. I think there is sometimes a coinciding lack of social skills or a problem making friends that happens with people who have this illness, maybe because the people are shy or insecure or both, and maybe because of things that happen with the brain because of the illness. From what I have read, this is the case. So, I don't totally blame myself for the fact that I do not have as much of a social life as I would like to have.

Also, I think people in general these days have a hard time making friends because we're all online every day or much of the time, and you can make friends online but you will likely never see those people in person, so your friendship is limited. I think that once people are out of high school, unless you go to college full time and live there (at the school) it's hard to meet people outside of work, and we don't all have workplaces that are full of people we can relate to as friends. Some of us don't have workplaces at all or are in-between workplaces, or work from home, or work in isolation. I come across a lot of people who say that they have trouble making friends, or they don't have opportunities to meet people, and I wonder if this might just be part of our post-modern dilemma. Maybe....maybe not. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

shame and update on how things are

Something has been bothering me. I sat down to write out the story of my mental illness, in a brief form (which ended up being about 15 typed pages), to be given to NAMI as I volunteered to speak to the local police department as part of NAMI's CIT training (Crisis Intervention Team) training. And when I sat down to write this story out, I realized how much of it I could not tell.

There are a number of things I did, when I was psychotic, that I could not talk about to the police. One of them - which my therapist thinks I could talk about and it would not harm me - is the time when I stole a car. Because it was a Chrysler and I thought it was named after me, Jesus Christ, and I thought it was my car.

The other things that I cannot talk to the police about, are also things I do not want to write about here, because some people I know read his blog and I don't talk to people about those things. Some of them have to do with the times when I was manic. Others have to do with the lengths I went to to try to get the "baby" situation resolved, which I never completly talked about even on here. I never was pregnant, but I thought I was for two years, and I did a lot of things to try to get that situation resolved. I don't feel comfortable discussing that here though. I am being vague on purpose, sorry about that. But some things don't need to be given out to everybody.

There are things that I have a deep sense of shame about, which I did because I was delusional and I did not know the ramifications of what I was doing, nor did I fully understand why I was doing those things. I think shame is a pretty harmful feeling to have, and does not do a lot of positive things for a person. But I cannot get rid of some of the shame that haunts me from these incidents.

Then again. I never intentionally harmed another person or did anything that caused anyone serious problems other than stealing that person's car when I thought the car was mine. I never did anything that I'm ashamed of when I wasn't manic or psychotic or both, so I have some reasons for why I did those things. So maybe there is not so much to be ashamed about after all.

Anyway, back to the present. I am doing okay, other than a few problems like being horribly disorganized, needing to find a job, and not being able to sleep. I am also very lonely, which causes problems because it leads me to think too much about certain persons or have too much contact with them, when it's not healthy for me to do so. I have been spending an inordinate amount of time on the internet lately, and that's not necessarily a good thing either. I just do that because I am lonely and it gives me an outlet to communicate with people. I also do it because I can't sleep at night, and my medication is currently completely ineffective in making me sleep normally. It is obviously not at the right dosage, or it is not the right medication for me to be taking for sleep, because I am up all night basically every night. I have an appointment with my doctor in about a week and a half, so hopefully that will help resolve some of this problem. Until then, I think I am doomed to insomnia and all of its unpleasant effects.

Other than all this junk, though, things are going fine. I am better off without my boyfriend and better off without my former job, so both those endings had positive outcomes. I feel less stressed out in general, even though I have no job and no partner. I do feel lonely, but that is to be expected under the circumstances. And, also, I know that I need to make more friends, because part of my loneliness is simply a lack of enough people to talk to, so I am going to be working on that.

For now, I will try to set the shame aside and go on with life as best I can.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

my hospital trips a few years ago

I am still reading, Crazy, an interesting book about mental health treatment, hospitals, and jails in particular. This brought my thoughts back to my own hospitalizations, and I realized that I probably never wrote about all of them here, or anywhere else. So I thought I would delve into that a little bit.

When I lived in Virginia, I was hospitalized several times, at three different hospitals. This was between 2000 and 2003. I was not yet showing all the signs of Schizophrenia, so I was diagnosed with bunch of other illnesses, including Dissociative Identity Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder (the most insulting), and Bipolar Disorder. Back then I was really delusional regarding the opic of sexual abuse, and I thought I had been through a lot of thigns in my childhood, that, likely never happened. I was having trouble still with anorexia at times, chronic depression, and self mutliation. Plus I was manic a lot and didn't know it, and engagd in dangerous behaviors because of it.

The best hospital I was in was called Dominion Hospital in Fairfax, Virginia, because they had an art therapy group in an art room with all kinds of great projects to do, and other therapies like an eating disorders group. In other words, we were kept busy. But I want to jump forward because since I was not properly diagnosed yet during any of those hospitalizations, they are not the relevent ones to this blog.

My first big psychotic break happened in 2003-2004. I thought I was being followed all around Alexandria, Virginia, where I lived, and Washington D.C. which is nearby. I was seeing things like colors that matched everywhere, and following secret messages I was picking up from strangers in places like libraries, and running all the time from the people who were following me. I had no stable place to live, and was living out of motel rooms. I was following messages in song lyrics as well, and this all culminated in me taking a trip to NYC on a train from DC because somebody who worked for Amtrak said something that made me think I was supposed to go there. At 3 AM. Alone. With nowhere to go in NYC.

I ended up getting there after an adventure of a trip, and because I thought the world was ending, I got hysterical in NYC, and I thought, because this was my delusional thinking...that people were being taken to concentration camps. I tried to leave the city the next day, and the trains were all not running. I am not sure now if the trains were really not running or if this was something I hallucinated as well. There were military people in the train sttaion, which scared me. I wanted to escape, but I did not know what to do. So I got on a commuter train to New Jersey, which I thought I was sneaking on, and hoped no one would recognize that I was different, because at this point I was also seeing people looking like aliens, and noticing name badges on people which I thought I was supposed to have to be allowed to stay out of the camps.

I ended up overdosing to kill myself, and the next afternoon some men in suits came into the hotel room where I did this and took me, and I don't remember much after that for a few days. I had taken a lot of pills.

When I woke up, my arms and legs were strapped down to a bed in four-point restraints. I was covered in some kind of liquid (never figured that out), and I did not know where I was since I had no recollection of the past few days. Nobody explained to me what had happened, as far as I remember.

I had a cut on my leg that I was told was self-inflicted. I believe I had stitches there. I was scared.

I remember looking at my roommate, a naked black woman, and asking her how long she had been there. She said, "Forty years". I was disturbed by that (of course she was also disturbed and wasn't making logical sense but I was not sure what wsa real at the time)

I remember when they said they were taking me to a different hospital, somewhere else in New Jersey, I did not know where it was or why, and I wanted to know.

I remember I got on the phone and called NAMI and the Department of Human Services, begging for help because I thought I was unfairly locked inside a horrible place, and due to my delusions, I thought people were being tortured in the hospital, including me.

I remember following this doctor down the hallway saying, "please, don't send me to another place, I don't even know where I am right now. Where are you sending me?" And he walked away and ignored me.

I remember being strapped down to a gurney, for the transfer, and being restrained (arms, legs) for the trip which took 45 minutes and I was completely terrified.
Since I thought hospitals were torture chambers, I tried to think of some way to escape, but couldn't come up with one. I did keep some money hidden on my person just in case an opportunity came up.

The second hospital I was at in New Jersey was very strange. Looking back on this time is a bit like remembering a bad LSD trip, I guess, and I'm not all that clear one what was really going on, but I remember quite a bit. I was given injections of something, which was probably Haldol, and I had a bad reaction to one of the medications I was given. I woke up covered in red welts, from some kind of allergy attack. I thought I had been beaten up and gang-raped in my sleep, because that was part of my delusional thought process at that time.

Again, I called the Department of Human Services for help. The sent me some paper work by FedEx at the hospital, and I filled it out and returned it. Later the woman I spoke with their yelled at me because the hospital told her that I was making up lies about the things that were happening to me there.

I remember I refused to sign most of the paperwork when I was admitted, but I was admitted anyway...I had a hearing, with a judge, during which I said, "It's like Alice in Wonderland here", and some professional laughed. I thought my mom was in the next room listening through a recording device. She was actually in Florida. I thought a lot of delusional things.

I remember this one patient who wsa locked inside the quiet room, and she screamed bloody, horrible screms for hours on end. And I begged the staff to let her out.
I remember hearing so many hallucinated voices I laid on my bed and screamed and cried, saying, "I AM NOT A PUPPET! I WILL NOT DO WHAT YOU SAY! I AM NOT A PUPPET!"
The voices were there all the time then.

I remember being convinced that when they released me from the hospital, which I did not think was a hospital, that I would be sent to a concentration camp and killed. I remember hoping the medication, which I was sure was poison, would just kill me before I got to be sent to the camp. I remember having trouble breathing, because of a bad reaction to my medication, and thinking they were going to kill me and calling 911 and going to a hospital where I was given oxygen and Ativan.

I remember that no doctor ever sat down with me and told me my diagnosis, and that I never knew why they thought I needed to be there.

I remember the day I was discharged, seeing my mother's face metamorphose into Hitler's face, in front of my eyes, when she came from Florida to pick me up. And I was discharged while being completely psychotic. I escaped from the car, on the New Jersey Turnpike, I believe, while the car was moving, and I ran to a motel on the side of the interstate, yelling things that made no sense. My mom had to call the paramedics to pick me up again, and when they asked me my name and age, I told them my childhood name and address and believed I was telling them the truth.

Then came the third New Jersey hospital. At this one, I actually did escape at one point. I thought I was being poisoned and gang raped every night. Who would NOT try to escape that? I just walked right out the front door one day on the way to the cafeteria. The trouble was, I did not know where I was or who to call, since I don't know anybody in New Jersey, so I called the police, and reported that I had been held captive in torture chamber, and I wanted my stuff back and I needed a way to get home.

Of course, the police just called the hospital, and someone from the hospital came across the street, found me, grabbed me by the arm, and basically dragged me back to the hospital. I remember I felt badly because he said I could have gotten him fired from his job for what I did.

At that hospital, the doctor assigned to me said that, unless a family member came to get me (again) from where my famiy lived, Florida, I woudl be sent to a state hospital in New Jersey for long-term care.

I will probably come back and add to this later.

Kristyn Bell's Video Blog: Negative Symptoms

This is Kristyn Bell's video blog from Youtube and Schizophrenia.com. In this video she discusses negative symptoms. I have a lot more negative symptoms than what she describes, but she gives an overview of them.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

lack of sleep, delusional thoughts, looking for a job

I have been up until 5 AM every night lately. It's getting old. I am currently taking Restoril (a sleeping pill), Seroquel, because it's sedating, and Klonopin, at night. And it's not working.
I wonder sometimes what my liver looks like since I'm also taking Abilify, Prozac, Invega, Synthroid, and Singulair every day. I'm supposed to be taking Calcium and vitamins, and Omega 3 but, I haven't been bothering with it lately.
Ever since my boyfriend left, I have not bothered with a lot of things. I don't feel particularly depressed, but I have very little motivation to do anything at all, and I cannot concentrate, and I cannot sleep. None of these things makes life go smoothly, of course.

I have been noticing myself having silly thoughts again, which are indicative of being delusional, about one particular thing that I will not be writing about here, but it is just a sign to me that I'm not well.

This is really rather distressing, considering how many ungodly medications I am taking in on a daily basis, that I could still start having delusional thoughts while so highly medicated is alarming.

I am not severely delusional or anything, and I obviously am doing fine with insight, but I notice this happening and I think, why???? Why do all these pills not prevent me from thinking like this? What, after all, is the POINT of taking all these godforsaken pills if they do not manage to stop me from having delusional thoughts??

Of course, the argument could be made that if a girl can say she is having delusional thoughts, well, she's not very delusional since she's obviously seeing the situation from an objective, logical vantage point. That is true. I'm not having a severe problem with it, but it's happening a little bit, and I think it should not be happening at all.

At the same time, I can still look back on this blog and old journals and see how far I have come from the time when I did not know what reality was, when I did not even know I was delusional, when I was hearing voices from people all around me and picking up secret messages from license plates, and thinking I was Jesus Christ and L. Ron Hubbard. I'm a lot better now, and I don't take that fact for granted at all. I have come a long way. I appreciate these medications for giving me my life back, to a certain extent. It's just that they do not completely bring me back to my former self, and I wish that something did, because therapy and support groups and medication all combined...just don't do the trick to make that happen.

I guess you could say that this IS my former self, that this is just part of who I am, but it is important to me to separate what is an illness from what is my real personality, and I can see that some of the illness still covers up my real personality, which is what I don't like about the situation.

About obsessive thoughts, I would like to make clear that I don't have them as badly as I used to. Prozac is supposed to be helping me with that; I think it works. I had more obsessive thoughts before I was no Prozac, when I was taking Anafranil for this problem, and the obsessive thoughts intruded into my mind all the time and drove me batty. I don't have that happening anymore, which is just recent, as in the last few months since I started taking Prozac. So I can do a Prozac commercial now. No, I just wanted to mention it because I don't want to sound as though nothing positive hsa been happening with my medication adjustments.

I think part of my problem right now is that I am just really lonely, because I no longer have my boyfriend or my job to keep me occupied, and that leaves a lot of empty space in my life where people used to be. Once I find a new job, I think I should be less isolated, however, I am currently feeling rather bleak about the job prospects that exist, since I am having trouble finding anything along the lines of what I am looking for. I might just have to take a job I don't particularly like, in order to pay the bills. It's not like I would be the first person to have to do that! I think most of the world lives that way, which is okay, and not necessarily a horrible way to live.

After all, I stuck it out at my last job for two years, and there were difficulties with that the entire time. I liked it, ultimately, because I was doing something worthwhile that helped people, and it was not for a corporation, it was for a nonprofit organization, which is the kind of work I wanted to be doing, but it's not necessary to do the same type of work again. I think I need something that requires fewer organizational skills than that job involved, anyway, because this illness has caused me to have great deal of trouble being organized.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Crazy (a book), and update on my mental health

I'm reading a book called Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness. It has a lot of information about how people with mental illnesses are treated in jails, and in hospitals, as well. It's very critical of how people with mental illnesses are not given adequate care sometimes for various reasons. I like the book, but I disagree that the civil rights laws which now protect the human rights of people with mental illnesses are not fair or safe or good, just because they prevent people from being locked inside hospitals when they are not a threat to themselves or someone else. I don't think it is wise to suggest that everybody who is psychotic should be locked inside a hospital and/or forced to take medication when they don't want to. At the same time, I can understand that it must have been difficult for this author's son to be psychotic and not be treated, because I lived that way myself for years, and I would not want to have to live that way again.

While, I don't necessarily agree with all of it, I do recommend the book because it makes some excellent points about how we need better treatment, how insurance companies need to pay more for treatment of mental illness and how people are unfairly locked inside jails when they belong in hospitals instead.

In other news...I've been noticing myself having little symptoms of delusional thinking lately, which I don't like. I don't understand how on earth this could possibly happen when I am currently taking three antipsychotic medications. It is not like I'm severely psychotic or anything, but I've noticed little things, like, thinking that something I read in a book is a special message put there just for me, but knowing this is not the case, because I can recognize these old symptoms when they come back quickly. I just want to keep track of it here, because this way I can go back and remind myself what worked and did not work as far as medication goes. My mood is fine, and I think my medications are working fine, but there is just this little bit of a problem slipping in, which might be indicative of a lack of proper sleep and a lot of stress related to not having a job right now.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What I Have Learned from Schizophrenia

Tonight I was visiting two young women from the support group I started who are in the same hospital environment I was in 2 1/2 years ago. One of them asked me to tell my story, since she did not know much about my history, so I talked to them for a while about how things used to be, how much better things are now, and how these changes occured,

I was thinking that it might be good to write something about what I've learned from this illness. I have learned quite a bit from it, and I would like to put some of that into words.

So here is some of what I have learned from Schizophrenia, but not all of it, because that would be a very long list.

I have learned not to be too sure of anything. My mind can, and does, play tricks on me and sometimes things that I think are happening are not really happening. I have learned to remind myself of that whenever necessary.

I have learned to accept that I will never be the person I once thought I would be, but that I'll be a different person instead and that this other person is just as acceptable and just as worth being as the person I will never be would have been.

I have learned to listen to people and not make make judgements without paying attention to what a person is saying. Sometimes a person is behaving in a way that could be called "crazy" is trying to communicate the best way they can, and sometimes they need a person to listen to them.

I have learned that I can overcome quite a bit, and that it is best, in life, to not give up on yourself no matter how hard things get. Sometimes you are capable of more than you think you are, and sometimes circumstances change for the better even when you think they can't or won't.

I have learned to trust science and have faith in medicine, to an extent. It is still important for me to remember that I know myself better than any doctor knows me, and that ultimately must decide what is best for me. Yet, I have to have faith in medicine, because, after all, medicine has saved my life, literally.

I have learned to not be ashamed. I did not commit criminal acts by becoming mentally ill; I got sick. I did not make myself sick; I got sick. I did not choose nor do I enjoy being sick, and nobody is to blame for my illness. I am no different from anyone who is not sick other than for the fact that I live with an illness they don't live with. I am not an inferior human being because I'm sick; I am just a person living with an illness. We all have our cross to bear; Schizophrenia is mine. I am not ashamed of it, because I did not create or choose it. I deal with it as well as I can, and it is part of my life that I can talk about, when I need to, without shame.

I learned not to have too much faith in how open-minded people can be, because there is an incredible stigma against mental illness in this world, and in particular, against the mental illness that I happen to have. I have learned that not everyone will remain your friend once you start acting erratic, and that if they choose not to remain your friend when you're sick they are probably not the best friends to have around in the first place. I have learned that my behavior can easily be misunderstood and misinterpreted, and that people can, have, and will continue to decide not to have much to do with me if they find out I have an illness called Schizophrenia. I live in the real world, and stigma is unfortuantely a large part of this world even today. We have come along way toward making mental illness better understood, but we still have a long way to go.

I have learned that just because someone works in the psychiatric profession does not mean they necessarily know the first thing about psychiatry, and this I learned especially in the hospital.

I have learned that there are incredible case managers, therapists, and other people in helping professions who will do a bang-up job of helping you even when they are getting paid far less than what their work is worth.

I have learned just how underfunded and under-appreciated social service agencies and programs are.

I have learned that it is my job to educate people about this illness. Just like African Americans, gay people, women and people with any other disability have been discriminated against, so too are people with psychiatric illnesses, and in particular Schizophrenia.

I have learned that even in support groups for people with mental illnesses, I may have to explain what Schizophrenia is and that it is just an illness like any other, because people with other mental illnesses don't always understand that.

I have learned about resilience - in myself and in others, and I have witnessed amazing recoveries, including my own.

I have learned how important and vital it is that one never give up hope.

Life Lessons

What I have learned, but not all that I have learned
By Dr. Ronald Pendleton (professor somewhere)


I've learned that you can get by on charm for about 15 minutes. After that, you'd better know something.



I've learned that you shouldn't compare yourself to the best others can do, but to the best you can do.



I've learned that it's not what happens to people that's important. It's what they do about it.



I've learned that you can do something in an instant that will give you a heartache for life.



I've learned that no matter how thin you slice it, there are always two sides.



I've learned that it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.



I've learned that it's a lot easier to react than it is to think.



I've learned that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.



I've learned that you can keep going long after you think you can't.



I've learned that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.



I've learned that either you control your attitude or it controls you.



I've learned that sometimes I just need to be held.



I've learned that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion eases and there had better be something else to take its place.



I've learned that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.



I've learned that learning to forgive takes practice.



I've learned that there are people who love you dearly, but just don't know how to show it.



I've learned that money is a lousy way of keeping score.



I've learned that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.



I've learned that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down will be the ones to help you get back up.



I've learned that sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.



I've learned that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.



I've learned that just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.



I've learned that no matter how much I care, some people just don't care back.



I've learned that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.



I've learned that you should never tell a child her dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if she believed it.



I've learned that your family won't always be there for you. It may seem funny, but people you aren't related to can take care of you and love you and teach you to trust people again. Families aren't biological.



I've learned that no matter how good a friend someone is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.



I've learned that it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.



I've learned that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief.



I've learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.



I've learned that sometimes when my friends fight, I'm forced to choose sides even when I don't want to.



I've learned that just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other. And just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do.



I've learned that sometimes you have to put the individual ahead of their actions.



I've learned that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.



I've learned that we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.



I've learned that if you don't want to forget something, stick it in your underwear drawer.



I've learned that you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever.



I've learned that the clothes I like best are the ones with the most holes in them.



I've learned that it's not what you have in your life, but who you have in your life that counts.



I've learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.



I've learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.



I've learned that no matter how you try to protect your children, they will eventually get hurt and you will hurt in the process.



I've learned that there are many ways of falling and staying in love.



I've learned that no matter the consequences, those who are honest with themselves, get farther in life.



I've learned that many things can be powered by the mind, the trick is self-control.



I've learned that no matter how many friends you have, if you are their pillar, you will feel lonely and lost at the times you need them most.



I've learned that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.



I've learned that even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.



I've learned that writing, as well as talking, can ease emotional pains.



I've learned that the paradigm we live in is not all that is offered to us.



I've learned that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.



I've learned that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon.



I've learned that although the word "love" can have many different meanings, it loses value when overly used.



I've learned that it's hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice and not hurting people's feelings and standing up for what you believe.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Tell me who you are; take my survey

What Interests You?
What's your favorite thing to do on a weekend?sleep in, go to the movies, run my support group
Do you prefer TV, or a book?depends on what show is on and what book
Book, or magazine?book
What is the name of the last book you read?It's Called A Break-Up Because It's Broken
What was the last magazine you looked at?I don't read a lot of magazines
What was the last movie you saw?27 Dresses
What was the best drama you've seen?Schindler's List
What was the best comedy?Annie Hall
Which do you prefer, cooking, delivery, or eating out?eating out
Italian, Chinese, Sushi, or other?Italian
What was the last beverage you drank?Diet Coke
Do you believe in God (or a Goddess)?a little bit
Do you go to a place of worship regularly?sometimes, not every week
Do you practice any religion?Unitarian Universalism
What was the last song you sang to yourself?Tom's Diner, by Suzanne Vega
What is your favorite CD?RAINN Benefit: Live from the River Music Hall
What is your favorite type of music?folky rock, rocky folk
Where do you use the internet?home, school, library, work
How often do you go online?every day
Have you ever met anyone online?yes
Have you dated anyone you met online?yes
Are you single, married, or dating?single
Are you interested in getting married, ever?yes
Do you have children?no
Do you want to have children?yes
Which political party are you part of?Democrat
Do you vote?definitely!! Women only got the right in 1920!
What organizations do you support?United for Peace, NOW, Feminist Majority, others
What pets do you have?one cat

CREATE YOUR OWN! - or - GET PAID TO TAKE SURVEYS!

alone time

I find myself feeling rather overwhelmed by my apartment. It is a mess, and I cannot find it within myself to clean the mess, because it overwhelms me every time I start. I have a lot of trouble with organization, and I think this is part of schizophrenia. It was part of the reason why I ended up quitting my job, because I became so disorganized, I started making a lot of errors that eventually caught up with me, and I was going to end up being fired for it if I didn't quit first. So I quit.

I wonder if other people with Schizophrenia have this trouble with organization, and from some of the things I have read, I think some do, but not all. If you have any feedback on this, I would be interested to hear it.

I have been playing around on the computer lately, on a personal page I put up with my real name, pictures, etc, just for fun. I think fun is important in life, and if one is not having any fun, one can easily become depressed. Sometimes I need a creative outlet as well, even a silly one. I think everyone needs that.

SARK is a writer I admire and she wrote a book I have called, Inspiration Sandwich. It's really a great book and, like in all her books, she encourages people to do creative things. She gives excellent advice. I recommend her books highly; they are in the self-improvement section of major bookstores.

The person who first told me about SARK was named Alisun, and she was my closest friend for years. She stopped talking to me after I became sick and I started saying things that were paranoid, delusional, illogical and wacky. It hurt me a great deal that she cut me off, but two of my other close friends did the same thing. Only one stuck by me, an online friend who still keeps in touch with me to this day and is a great inspiration as she is an incredible human being. And one other one, who is also an online friend, stayed in touch as well. So I have two old friends from the internet; I have known them eleven years this year. I have never met either one of them, but they are close friends in a way that is hard to explain. I have told them a lot of personal things, and they listened. Sometimes you need a friend who will just listen. Sometimes in the past, I relied on people to listen too much though, and that's why they no longer wanted to be my friend. I began to overwhelm them with my problems.

I can understand why those people were confused by the things I was saying a few years ago. I thought I was being followed, mind-controlled, programmed, videotaped, recorded, etc., and I thought this was real. I thought that I had been sexually abused as a child, but not just by one person but by several people, and then I thought that I had been ritualistically abused by some Satanic cult, and then I thought that the Masons were currently taking me to the Masonic temple to rape me at night. I thought this because I was Schizophrenic, not because any of it actually happened. But my friends didn't know what was going on, and they just decided they did not want to hear my bizarre situations anymore. So they told me they wanted nothing to do with me anymore, in two cases, and in one other case, just stopped talking to me and disappeared from the internet, which was where I had met them all. One other friend also disappeared for a while but I recently got back in touch with her, which is nice, because she said she is glad to hear from me, and it is the first time she has responded to me in years.

Now, I have friends, but they are people who know about mental illness and understand it from personal experience. I don't have a lot of other friends, who don't understand. I don't make a lot of friends. I'm not feeling sorry for myself by making this st atement; it's just a fact. I've always been very shy and insecure, so I never had a lot of friends in my life. Also, isolation is a major aspect of having Schizophrenia, and many people, from what I have read, who have Schizophrenia, do not have a lot of friends. Many prefer to remain alone. Sometimes, when your brain does confusing things, it's easier to be alone than to have to worry all the time about how someone else is going to interpret your behavior, or if you tell them about your reality, how they are going to respond. Sometimes, it's easier to not be reminded that you are something other than "normal", by being around people who do not understand you at all. So sometimes, it's easier to just be alone.

I find that I get lonely though, and I find this especially now that I am without the boyfriend who used to live with me. Last night I went out with my friend Kathy, and today I went to visit my friend Kristyn, and I have been spending a lot of time online lately as well. This fills some of the empty time.

What strikes me about being alone is that it is hard for me to motivate myself when I'm alone, compared to when I have someone else around. For whatever reason, I find it very hard to structure my day well when I'm alone, and much easier to do things that need to get done when somebody else is there. I'm not a lazy person, but I get distracted by the internet and books or watching TV or whatever, when I am alone, and I don't accomplish as much of what I need to do as I do when there is somebody else because having someone else there makes you accountable for how you spend your time. This is something I have to work on.

If anyone can relate to this, please let me know.

Monday, February 04, 2008

To my boyfriend....tired of being sick

You were decent-looking. Nice. Funny. I thought you would be smart. I remember being too shy to talk to you because I was afraid you wouldn't like me....

How do you fall in love with someone you meet on a psych ward and end up staying with them for two and a half years? Strangely...not strangely. The same way you fall for somebody any other place. It's just in confinement; there's some humor to it.

I dated you but not really. We just started spending all our time together, since we were in the same treatment program, living in separate housing situations but bused to the same place every day. I remember the day I told you, I love you because you told me something terrible that happened to you once and I realized I did love you, and I meant it. I don't think you knew how rare it was for me to say that to anyone. I don't know if you'd care if I told you now, how rare that was. You might.

I look back on my life with you and I wonder, what if I never met you? Would I have been better off? Would you be better off? What if we didn't get so wrapped up in each other? What if...what if I never landed in a psychiatric hospital for months at all. What if I never got sick.

What if I never got sick?

I would have finished college by now, if I never got sick. I would have had a relationship with somebody, probably, and maybe somebody who also never got sick. Maybe it would have worked out, and maybe we'd be married. Maybe I'd have kids, or maybe not. Maybe I would have a steady, full-time job somewhere and like it. I might have the sense of accomplishment that would bring.

You never realized I was sick. You always acted like everything was fine. Everything wasn't fine. I heard voices telling me to kill myself just last week, and it was not because you left, it was because I am sick.

Sick. sick. sick.

I am so tired of being sick.

You and I, if we didn't have our problems, might have made it and had a good relationship. Maybe not, since, really, we had nothing in common much. I can get along with people with whom I have nothing in common, but I don't know if I'd want to marry one of them.

You never wanted to hear about my symptoms, when they arose. It bothered you. It bothered you to hear about how I used to be. I never, ever told you about this blog. I never would have let you read it.

You never even really new me.

Few people do.

I am tired of being sick. I want to be myself again. I want to be me when I was able to think clearly and do well in college. I want to be me when I was still thin, and attractive, and easily met people who wanted to date me. I don't want to be overweight, whether it's from psychiatric drugs or not, all people see when they look at me now is a fat person, not a human being.

I am tired of being sick. I wanted SO BADLY to go to Smith College. And I almost did. You never heard of Smith College. It's not your fault. You never went past ninth grade. But you know, I'm kind of smart. And I guess you never knew that either because I didn't bother to let it show.

I have become such a total waste and a failure at life, and then you left and now I am alone and I am nothing.

So you call and tell me that I can call you when I'm upset, that you don't want me to be upset, that you actually do love me, and I am a beautiful person, and I'll meet somebody else. But I'm sick. I'm sick with something that has DESTROYED much of my life. And then there is regular life, and things happen like boyfriends leaving, and I am still trying to do regular life while dealing with being sick, and sometimes it just gets overwhelming. So I cried, pathetically, to you on the phone. I can't help that; it's who I am. I get emotional. A lot of people do. You don't seem to, but a lot of people do.

I'm just tired of being sick. No matter what I do, Schizophrenia is defining my goddamn life, and I hate that fact, and I want to change that more than anything, but I don't know how. No miracle pills exist. You never understood this about me. You never really cared to understand much about me. I listen to you talk about your 12 - step program and I tell you that you're doing a great job transforming your life, and I mean it. But you never gave me any credit for all the work I did to change my life.

I met you, after all, in a hospital. I came a long way from there. But I'm still sick, and now you're gone and I'm sick all by myself again. I can't help but be hurt by that.

How I Got Better in the Past 2 1/2 Years

So I was looking at some of the old posts in this blog, and realizing that most people would never take the time to read them, knowing how busy most people are, I just thought I would mention something.

I was really, really sick when I started this blog. I was not diagnosed, and I was not getting treatment.

A million changes were made in my life since then, and I have improved about 29989% above the condition I was in when I started this blog.

I didn't write anything here for most of the time while I was getting better. I found other things I needed to do, and I was busy a lot, and I had my boyfriend occupying a lot of my time, which he no longer is since we broke up. So I can go back now, and update a bit on what changed since the beginning.

1. I spent five months hospitalized.

2. I spent ten months living in a group home

3. During all this time I took antipsychotic medication and antidepressants and antianxiety medication regularly, and didn't ever go off of it.

4. I started seeing a therapist over a year ago, every week

5. I got a case manager two and a half years ago, who keeps up with me every week by phone.

6. I stayed on the medications.

7. I got a decent job and kept it for almost two years.

8. I went back to college and kept going for the past year and a half.

9. I moved out of the group home and into an apartment a year and a half ago, and I still live there now.

10. I stayed out of the hospital for 2 1/2 years, up until last week.

So that is basically how I improved. The medication helped, therapy helped, keeping myself occupied helped, and one more thing....I stayed with my b oyfriend for 2 1/2 years, and that helped too somewhat.

If you stop by here and you haven't had a chance to read any of the old posts, some of the ones from 2005 will give you a good idea of what my mind was like before I made some improvements, and what Schizophrenia is like when it's not treated.

Medications

Another sleepless night. It is 1:30 A.M. Restoril is not working for me at all. I need a different sleep medication. Tomorrow I go to the doctor, and I'll be discussing a few things:
-Abilify needs to be increased, but it's making me vomit everyday (since I started it)
-Klonopin .5 milligrams is not working for the akathesia I have or the anxiety
-Inderal is not working for the akathesia right now either
-Akathesia has been increased since I started on Abilify
-I cannot sleep, and I need to sleep really badly. Ambien did not work in the hospital, when they tried it at a high dose, and Klonopin and Restoril are not working now.
-I need to GET OFF INVEGA because I have gained 70 pounds on it, and that is just unacceptable. I am continuing to gain weight on it all the time.

This is quite a list. My doctor can't resolve most of this in one visit, and some of it will likely never be resolved. My doctor agreed to take me off of Seroquel since I was on two weight-gaining drugs, and overall I've gained 100 pounds in the past two years on antipsychotic medications. The trouble is, when I took Abilify in the past it didn't work, and when I took Geodon I had bad reactions. As you might know, of all the newer antipsychotic medications out there, those two are the only two that are not known for causing significant weight gain.

So I am taking Abilify again, even though it didn't work the first time around, because the idea is that if they combine it for a while with the Invega, then it might work. And eventually, if the Abilify becomes effective on its own, I can stop the Invega, and then maybe I can finally be successful at losing some of this excess weight I've gained.

My doctor agreed to this already; it's just that I don't know how long it's going to take to get the Abilify to work, and I've been on Invega for the past 9 months. I have continued gaining weight that whole time, even when I was trying to lose weight.

I will see what the doctor says and let you know...

Take this Quiz!

Check out this quiz on Schizophrenia. It's only 10 questions, and just takes a few minutes to answer. It's interesting.
And it was written by Christina Bruni, who is one of my favorite writers on Schizophrenia.
http://www.healthcentral.com/schizophrenia/quizzes-198849.html

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Being Alone

I am scared of being alone. I have this horrible feeling I am going to be alone forever. This is probably because of my past history with being alone.

I spent a great deal of time by myself before I met my ex-boyfriend. When I got sick, I was alone all the time, which added to my symptoms. I did go on some dates, and sometimes dated somebody for a few months, but I had no serious relationships with anyone. I had friends online who were my closest friends, but after I got sick they stopped talking to me. So I was alone, a lot.

This is a problem, because I know that when I'm alone I get more symptomatic. I have more problems when there's no one there to talk to and nobody to go places with.

Though I am more alone now, I have been keeping busy. I spend a lot of time with my best friend these days, and I have one other friend I sometimes go out with. I see my family sometimes too. I talk to people on the phone every day, though, this isn't the same as living with someone and having someone be there all the time. There is not an easy replacement for an intimate relationship.

When I am alone I get depressed, and I get disorganized. I feel less motivated when I'm alone. When someone is there, it motivates me more. I find it easier to handle my illness and the associated problems when I have somebody I'm living with.

When I'm alone, and I know this from experience, I tend to hear voices more, and that's a problem. I am afraid this will happen again now, though, since I've been out of the hospital it has not been happening, thank goodness or goddess or whatever for that.

I also just have the normal reactions to a break-up which make a person think they're going to be alone forever, that they are not normal or up to par because they are no longer in a relationship, that it is going to be too hard to ever meet someone else again, etc....and I know that these are normal thoughts and feelings which will pass with time. I guess....

Saturday, February 02, 2008

All Hail, Holy Insomnia and Loneliness

Insomnia strikes again. I'm not sure if it's the Abilify I just started taking again, or whatever is going on in my brain, but I cannot sleep at all. It is 4:18 A.M. right now.

I hate insomnia. That's probably a universal sentiment.

I hate loneliness too. I am prone to that lately. It comes with break-ups, I know. I have a little manual from Borders called, It's Called A Break-Up Because It's Broken. This is the best book I've read in a long time, stupid though it may sound. It demands a manditory 60 day he-tox (as in "detox") for all readers. So you are not supposed to see or talk to the ex-boyfriend for two months. I have already broken that rule, since he called looking for some mail, and I let myself be friendly and have a conversation, which seemed okay at the time, but according to my book, is definitely a no-no. He wants to be friends and have coffee. I'm not sure I'm up for that, and I don't drink coffee. (I'm also really overtired and cranky right now!).

I am, however, proud of myself for getting through a couple brief phone calls with him without falling apart or getting emotional at all. I just looked at it like, hey, I don't hate him, so we can chat for a minute, and then the minute is up, and life will go on. I don't want to go back to him, nor does he have any desire to return to me, so there is not much to be upset about except the past. And the past is behind me, dammit!! I am not going to allow myself to waste time looking back.

I can't help but be lonely though. In the middle of the night when somebody is missing from your bedroom and you can't sleep at all, it's hard not to be lonely. I have exhausted all my resources recently, calling every friend I have multiple times and they have been helpful. Then again, I don't have a lot of friends, so that doesn't make for too much time. I have always had a hard time making friends because I'm insecure and shy, and also, friends I did have all disappeared when I developed Schizoaffective Disorder.

I had a group of really close girlfriends. We called ourselves a garden, which was my friend Ali's idea, and we all had flower names we gave ourselves. We stayed in touch for years, even though we met online and some of us never met in person. We all had similar physical illnesses. Then I became psychotic, and said friends dropped away like flies, one by one. This makes me sad now, when I think about it. I miss them. I still have one who keeps in touch with me, and she is a great friend and always has been. And I understand the reasons why the other ones disappeared. I wasn't always easy to put up with! I know that! It's hard to be easy to put up with when you're psychotic, you know. And unfortunately, I was psychotic for a while before I got properly diagnosed and treated (years).

And by the time I got diagnosed my friends were gone. I need to think of a way to make new friends.

But just so you know I know you're out there, thanks for reading Ken and Kate! I appreciated your comments. Thanks for coming by.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Quitting My Job

I had been working at a nonprofit agency for almost two years. It was a long time for me to keep a job, because in the past with my illness I had trouble with work, and I still have trouble, so that I can only work part time. I have problems with memory, organization, because of Schizophrenia, and, because of physical problems, low energy and physical pain.

I liked this particular job, which I found after I had been living in a group home and taking medication, and starting to get better for a while. But at the same time, I did not like certain things about it. One particular person I had to share an office with was really, really, really difficult to work with and constantly harassing me about my work performance. Despite my problems, I worked hard, and generally, I did a good job, but this person as always on my case and made life absolutely miserable for me at this agency. She was the most negative human being I have ever met, and I could not be paid enough money to stay with her for more years putting up with her constant abuse. Complaints to the management yielded no results, so I decided, after spending a week in the hospital, that this job was not worth my mental health, and quit.

I feel as if a million pounds of stress have been lifted off my back, now that I have no job, and for someone who is unemployed to be relieved about it is strange. But it was a rough job. Everybody who was kind to me there told me I would be better off just leaving, and when I did, they told me that I made the right choice. Everybody I know said I should just leave there when I told them about the job. So I know it was something that I did after much thought and consideration of the outcomes, and I'm not upset that I made this choice. I'm rather happy about it. At the same time, I did not manage to find another job before quitting, so I have to worry about that.

Today, in order to get a decent reference from this job, I went to my "exit interview'. I took the opportunity to tell the human resources manager exactly why I was leaving, and how this job had caused me untoward amounts of stress, which had negative effects on my health. I said that if the situation with the person who harassed me had been handled differently, it would have made a big difference. I suggested that they make the job a 30 hour a week job, rather than 20, because there was no way to get all the work done well in 20 hours a week. And I said there were things I liked about working there too, and I told her I liked my boss, and I said goodbye and left.

The prospect of finding a new job is not nearly as daunting as the stress of spending another day having anxiety attacks and crying in the bathroom at that place was. It was not worth it. I gritted my teeth all day long, listening to the incessent insults and criticisms of a deranged person who treated me like garbage and got paid for it, for nearly two years. That was not worthwhile.

Unfortunately, however, this woman is not the only reason I left the job. My illness, of course, was rearing its ugly head, and that had a lot to do with why I left.

Anyone who has read this blog's old posts knows that I've gotten much better with my illness over the last couple of years, but my illness is still something I live with everyday. It makes organization really hard for me. It makes me forget just about everything, or at least quite a few things. My medication adds to my forgetfulness, creating a problem that I tried to explain to the company I worked for by telling them I had an illness that caused memory problems. However, you can only explain yourself away this way so many times before your forgetfulness becomes reason enough for a company to figure out a way to fire you, which is what they were about to do with me at my job.

My desk, in recent weeks, became piled with papers, much like the junk piled all over my apartment. I find it very hard to stay organized, and when my symptoms are worsening my messes become terrible. I was in the hospital for a week, so my boss took over my desk and went through everything, and got to see just how much of a mess I actually had created. This, of course, became another reason for which he could fire me, and he nearly did, I believe.

So now I have to think hard before I take another job. I have to make sure I find something that is not too stressful, yet, also, not too boring. I have to find something that I can handle, that won't overwhelm me, and that won't demand that I be a neat-freak or remember a million things all the time. I have to find something a little bit easier, I guess, than the job I had before.

In the end, I will miss my job. I will miss the feeling of accomplishment I got from it. But I will not miss the crap that it involved, and I will be glad to be rid of it overall.

Thanks for listening.

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