Wednesday, April 08, 2009

managing symptoms and longing for life

Thanks for your comment on my last post, Kate. I appreciate your input. After having gotten some more sleep and some time to think about it, I am relatively sure that the man I was discussing does not (probably) really work for the CIA or the FBI. I cannot, of course, state it with certainty, but I know that these things come to my mind when my mind is confused and tired, and not functioning up to par. I know there have been times when my mind did not have these kinds of thoughts, and my medication seemed to be the reason for that. Luckily, I got to have a final session with my therapist, last night, and we discussed this topic.

I really like my therapist. She has helped me through a lot of things, and I have been seeing her every week for two and a half years. Unfortunately, I found out a week ago that Medicare is no longer going to pay for me to have therapy, so my individual sessions will not longer be happening. I will, however, get to remain in the group I go to with my therapist and another woman - with a new person who will be joining the group. What happened is that Medicare wanted the community mental health center to have a psychiatrist sign off on every therapy session a person has, and since the mental health center does not have the funds available to make that happen, they had to cut out therapy for a great number of people. My therapist mentioned that she alone had 52 clients, and many would be affected by this problem. Once again, the cuts in mental health have negative effects on those of us who need help the most.

Since she is a kind, and generous person, my therapist somehow worked out a way for me to see her last night without any funding to pay for it. I have no idea how she managed this, and I did not ask specifics. I just said, thanks, because I was grateful to have that last session. I described the specifics about the man that I thought was an agent, and why I thought this, and how likely or unlikely it might be that I was correct. Eventually, I realized that it was likely he was not an agent and that the idea that he was one did not sound logical to other people. So I am now going to go with the assumption that he was just an odd guy who sat next to me for no apparent reason. I know that if I continue to indulge in the thought that the man really was a secret agent, I will go further into a realm of questionable reality and possibly dangerous delusional beliefs. Thanks, Kate, for pointing that out to me. I appreciate your help.

Hopefully I will not continue to have a lot of trouble with these types of thoughts, but if I do, it will not really come as a surprise. And that's actually a good thing. The fact that I can look back and know there were periods when I was delusional helps me to deal with these confusing things when they occur.

Sometimes it bothers me so much that there is this huge dichotomy in my life, between the person I am (with a mental illness, and sometimes psychotic), and the person I always wanted to be (with a college degree and a number of close friends). I didn't finish college. I didn't go to Smith College when I got admitted there. I still can't read enough to finish college now. I may never finish college. I feel inept and embarrassed that I cannot finish college right now. I feel humiliated that I did not finish college ten years ago. After all, I am 34 years old.

Tonight I went to a dinner for the local chapter of NOW - the National Organization for Women. I have been to two of their meetings, and enjoyed the camaraderie with fellow feminists both times. What I do not enjoy is the discussion when I meet the people there about what we all do for a living. I don't do much for a living. I work part-time at a job that pays very little. What I really do for a living is writing this blog and activist work, for which I get payed nothing, but at least I can say these things make me feel like I am living. I just don't know how to explain, even to the open-minded, intelligent, educated, sophisticated, liberal people in a feminist group, that I have a mental illness so I'm on disability benefits, and I only work part time, but I'm doing as much as I can do right now. I am afraid of what they would think of me, how they would react, and I would be humiliated to reveal myself this way to people whose opinion matters to me.

So I did not tell much about my life to these women. I probably never will. I also came home feeling inadequate because I know that I have the capacity to finish college, that I was meant to do things that I have not yet done with my life which I feel incapable of doing right now, that I missed out on my dreams and lost some of my hopes along the way. God, if I could have gone to Smith and not a homeless shelter, if I had no physical or psychiatric illnesses, if only things had been easier, or at least manageable. But that is not how the story goes. That is not what happened. I must make lemon from lemonade and go on, nonetheless. I just can't help but be disappointed.


  1. Hi Jen,

    I'm glad I could be of some help. Sometimes it's hard to know when I should open my mouth or keep it shut, but I hoped that by being forthright I could help you. I know from experience that a simple comment can do a world of good.

    About college, do NOT rule it out for the future. I went back to school when I was 35 and I have known other people who have gone back to school in their 40s and 50s. I even went to school while I had psychotic symptoms, but I recommend that you wait until your symptoms subside--please have faith that they will--because I found going to school sometimes painful and I would have enjoyed it so much more had I been feeling better.

    I am very sorry to hear that you won't be getting individual therapy, but maybe the group therapy will also be of help. The only group therapy I've ever been to was Al-Anon and that definitely helped me, though I would much prefer a therapy group for severe mental illness. I'll continue to hope for that.


  2. Hi Jen,

    I have schizophrenia since 2004. I mostly have auditory hallucinations, which are managed to a very nice extent by Geodon. By reading your last post and Kate's comment I think that I also have a kind of delusion too. Thanks for sharing your experiences with all of us.
    I am a master's student in engineering and I have an offer for an internship in the summer. At present I have Medicaid but not SSI. I wanted to ask you if there is any way for me to keep my Medicaid during my internship, because I want to keep it until December that I will graduate. I prefer to talk to you by an email, not on the web, because only my family knows about my schizophrenia and I want to keep it as a secret from others. My email is


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