Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Just for today I will live through this anxiety

My stomach is tied up, twisted in knots and hurts like hell. I am really stressed out. I have a policy of sorts that I don't talk about my family (much) or anybody else in my life on this blog, because I don't feel it's right to discuss personal details of others here, particularly since a small number of people who know my actual identity also know about this blog. But anyway, there is a lot of stress related to some of the people I am close too lately. Well, pretty much there is a lot of stress there all the time. I am not the only person in my family with a psychiatric illness, and several people related to me are alcoholics. Recently, one such person has run into very serious trouble and life-endangering situations, which have me extremely concerned. I don't know if the person has any concern for their own life anymore, but it seems that they do not. For this reason, and because of many things that have occured in recent months, I am concerned that they will die. I am concerned to the point that it is all I can think about right now.

Last night, I went to an Alanon meeting, because someone in my family was involved in that organization in the past and always recommends it. I did not really want to be there, but I had no other place I particularly needed to be, so I went. I ended up crying for some reason, because sitting in this room with other people who knew some of the things that I have lived with all my life was suddenly a place that my real emotions felt safe enough to be released, if only for a moment.

When I was a pre-teen/teen, I was involved with "Alateen", but later I was not so fond of the twelve step groups, and did not feel like I really needed their help. I have trouble getting past their focus on God, because I don't really believe in God (no offense to all of you who do), and also, aside from my long-term drug addicted boyfriend, I have not had a romantic relationship with an addict or alcoholic. It was always family members, and I wasn't sure I would fit in with people in Alanon, since typically, those people have spouses who are alcoholics.

I'm not sure these meetings will help me very much, but I know that I need something that will help, and I am willing to try it. At the moment, it seems like stress from so many different issues in my life have quadrupled into a big snowball of anxiety, and I cannot feel calm or at peace these days at all. I feel sick to my stomach and boiling over with nervous terror all the time. I'm not sure whether or not this is related to my Seroquel situation, but it might be, in part, related to that. I think, primarily though, it's about things that medication won't solve.

I don't feel that I can manage the social work program I was going to try to transfer into next year to earn a Bachelor's in Social Work degree. It would require me being able to go to college full time, and work at the same time, which is more than I feel I can manage. I also have lost much of my desire to be a social worker in the first place. Honestly, what I really want is to get out of poverty. And going into being a social worker without a Master's Degree is not a good plan for getting out of poverty. It's a good plan for permanent poverty.

I also don't know for sure that I'll ever be able to work full-time. I am terrified of giving up the healthcare that I have, or of moving out of the area. That is another reason why the social work program seems no longer to make sense. I would have to either move or travel a great distance every day in a car that is old and has tons of mileage and no air conditioning (it's 95 degree here right now), and neither of those plans seems too logical at the moment. If I move, I would have to find a new job, a new community mental health center or doctor's office and a place to get Risperdal injections, a new therapist, new medical doctors, and some new place to live that would be affordable. It's too much for me to tackle. I can't deal with all of that change. I don't think it would be a good idea, or even possible. To find an affordable apartment in Tampa would, in itself, be virtually impossible, with my income.

So, at the moment, I am not sure what bachelor's program to enter, and I am starting to think that, regardless of what program I go into, I might never be able to have a regular career without needing to only work part time. I will figure this out, however. I have a couple of ideas of what to do, and I will figure it out. I'm not sure I will get past this overwhelming feeling of stress that is now a daily part of life. I go to see my ARNP (psychiatric nurse practitioner who prescribes meds) later today, and will have to discuss this with her. I do not want to be put back onto 1200 mgs of Seroquel, and my insurance will not pay for that anyway, so that's not going to happen. I don't want to be on a higher dosage of anti-anxiety medicine either, if I can avoid that, and generally they never prescribe that stuff at the mental health center if they can avoid it, since those meds are usually benzodiazepines. Taking 1 mg. of Klonopin is already a trap I haven't been able to get out of for ever ten years, and I want to get off that drug, not take more of it. The side effects of not having that prescription filled on time are horrendous, and worse than the side effects of not having Seroquel at the usual dose.

Some day there will be a scientist who will come up with a medication that treats psychosis and its related issues, works well, does not cause one to gain 100 lbs or get diabetes, does not cause EPS effects, and does not make one vomit every day like Abilify did to me. Someday there will be a drug that will actually cure Schizoaffective Disorder, so taking the drug every day will definitely be worthwhile because you will know for sure that it always works, and that it works completely. Then a person with this illness will be able to plan for her future, to know she has a future, to look forward to life beyond this illness. Someday.

Although I have not usually been involved with the Twelve Steps, I always liked this poem from when I was in the Alateen groups twenty years ago. It's called "Just for Today".

Just for today: I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

Just for today: I will be happy. This assume to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, *Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.*

Just for today: I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will Take my *luck* as it comes, and fit myself into it

Just for today:I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort. Thought and concentration.

Just for today: I will exercise my soul in three ways: it will do somebody a good turn and not get found out; if anybody know of it, it will not count. I will do at least two things I don't want to do-- just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt: they may be hurt but today I will not show it.

Just for today: I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, keep my voice low,be courteous,criticize not one bit. I won't find fault with anything, nor try to improve or regulate anybody else but myself.

Just for today: I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests: Hurry and Indecision's.

Just for today: I will have a quiet half hour all by myself, and relax. During this half hour, sometime I will try to get a better perspective of my life.

Just for today: I will be un-afraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful,and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give back to me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

avoiding homelessness

The picture is Princess Spooky in my living room.

Things are really stressing me out right now. I know I mentioned this in a post a few days ago, which possibly no one read, but I have to mention it again, so bear with me. I have this problem not being able to sleep and so a medical assistant at the mental health center where I go told me to take Melatonin. I found some Luna Som (herb/natural sleep medication that has Melatonin as the primary ingredient) on clearance, and used that. Unfortunately, I had trouble waking up after taking that. I missed, apparently, three different appointments with the other mental health center which is my landlord. I was supposed to go to meet with someone in housing there to have my lease renewed. The problem is, she only has openings in the mornings, and not at all in the afternoon. I have been working the afternoon/evening shift at my job, and I am not adept at getting up early when I am totally exhausted. It's ridiculous to miss three appointments, but it was certainly not intentional. So the housing person tells me yesterday on the phone that she has sent me a letter ordering me to vacate my apartment by August 1st, unless I meet with her next week to have my lease renewed and I don't miss that appointment. She stated that she will be on vacation for the last week of July, and since my lease runs out in August, I must meet with her next week.

I practically begged this woman to let me come in there yesterday right then when she told me this. She said I could not come in at all that day, she had no time to meet with me.

It is not my fault this person is going on vacation. It is not my fault her schedule rarely has openings. I realize it is my fault that I missed those appointments, but I wanted to correct that problem yesterday, and she would not allow me to do so. So now, I have an appointment for next Friday (I am off work usually on Fridays), and that means that for the next week, every day, all day, I am going to be overwhelmed by anxiety about being evicted in case I don't make it to that appointment on time. I feel sick to my stomach and a nervous wreck all the time now because of this.

Bear in mind, this person works for a community mental health agency. She might understand that people with mental illnesses do not need extra stress because it will provoke the symptoms of their illness. She obviously does not care about that. If I get evicted, I have NOWHERE to go. I will be totally suicidal if that happens. I cannot let that happen. But what if I can't sleep till 3 am again that night and then I wake up late and can't get there in time? Then I'm going to be homeless. This does not seem fair. I know that I need to meet with this person, and I will do so. I also pay my rent every month to this agency, and I overpaid them for many months due to a mix-up which they do not care about at all. That mix up gave them money from me that I did not owe them, yet they are not the least bit concerned about that. I have lived here for four years. I have never violated my lease.

This discussion brings me to another point I have probably never mentioned here. I do not get discounted rent for living in this apartment. My apartment building is owned by this agency and is part of HUD housing. The rest of the people who live in this building are getting HUD housing rent, so they pay 30 percent of their incomes for rent. I pay more than that, because I am in an apartment that is in a "different program". This agency owns about 15 different apartment buildings throughout the county plus several group homes (one of which I lived in four years ago). And, although those apartments are supposed to based on a person's income, my apartment is not. I chose to rent it anyway, because when I moved in here, Jim, my ex-boyfriend, moved in with me, and we split the expenses. I agreed to pay the extra rent. I have done so ever since. For some reason, I was told I could move into a different apartment building (a couple years ago) and get HUD rent there, after I complained about this situation, but that I could not get the discounted/HUD rent in the building where I already live. Even though all my neighbors do. I don't want to move into one of those other buildings, and so I turned down that option a couple years ago, and it is now no longer an option.

I'm not trying to complain here, and I do like my apartment and am grateful to have it. But I live in a horrible neighborhood, because all of this agency's apartment buildings are in horrible neighborhoods. Crack addicts, drug dealers, and prostitutes line the street outside my door all night. There are homeless people everywhere in this neighborhood because there is a day labor place across the street and a shelter down the street. It's not safe for me to go out at night here. I do, but it is not safe. But it's my home. I have decorated it and become comfortable with it. I cannot go through the hell of being homeless again in this lifetime. I have been in that situation several times. Two different times, in two different states, I lived in homeless shelters, and they were horrendous. I cannot go back to having to sleep in my car like I did years ago. I need to stay in my apartment.

So, the anxiety about this lease renewal and possibly being evicted is really getting to me. It's not exactly good for my mental health. I am feeling rather paranoid these days and terrified of various things. I am hoping this anxiety will ease up, but I don't think it really will until after the lease renewal is done next Friday. So, please keep your fingers crossed that Friday goes well!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blog awards, and kudos to some blogs with substance

Hi Folks!

There are a few new recipients of the "I Choose to Live" Award, and I'd like you to check out their blogs if you have a chance.

I also was happy to receive the Blog with Substance Award from Yumers at Jumpstarting a Life with a Little Spark to the Head.

Upon receiving this award, I am supposed to thank the one who gave it to me, which I did, and also write my blog "philosophy, motivation, experience" in five words, then pass along the award to ten more blogs.

In five words: The truth of my life.

And to pass along this award, here are ten more blogs with substance:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

pills, thrills, going up and down hills (i.e. stress!)

Tonight, driving home there was a sliver of the moon and a young guy on a bike who road in front of my car making me think I was going to hit him, and at the same time I was worried about the right brake light being out on my car and the fact that if a policeman saw me, I'd get a ticket or two for that and not wearing my seatbelt, and I probably wouldn't be able to find my car's registration since I don't know where I put it, and I probably wouldn't be able to find my car insurance card, because the last time I got a ticket it was because of not having the insurance card on me, and yeah, that was two years ago, but I don't always remember to fix things properly.

So here I am, headed home, singing to feminist tunes on a disc I compiled that I listen to on rotation all the time because my car has never had an antennae since it broke three years ago so I don't get the radio (and I don't really like much on the radio anyway except for Democracy Now, so that's not a problem).

And here I am driving home from the pharmacy where I paid $99 to get two days worth of Seroquel so that I will be able to stop mentally and physically suffering through the withdrawals of not having enough to take, because of a weeks-long, endlessly irritating and quite amazing fuck up by my doctor's office and/or the pharmacy and/or the insurance company. But the insurance will pay me back, supposedly, when I finally am able to get my prescription filled. (So far this has taken me approximately 20 phone calls to the community mental health center, the pharmacy, and my case manager, plus several visits to the pharmacy, plus a couple visits the mental health center, and yet, I do not have the prescription prescribed except for two days worth) Do you want to sigh yet? I'm not even started.

See, going off Seroquel, when you've been on a horrendously huge dose of it, and you have been taking the drug for years religiously, well, there are withdrawals. They are physical and mental, and they are hellish. I have been suffering through this for the past week and have only managed to stay out of the hospital by the skin of my teeth, because several times in the past few days, I probably needed to be in a hospital, or at least could have justified visiting one since, at least THERE I would get my goddamn prescription.

I hate the way my body and my mind are tied to these pills. I hate these pills, but I know I need them, so I also cherish these pills at the same time. My life revolves around these pills. I wonder, often, if I'll ever be free again.

So before that pharmacy visit I was telling you about, if you're still reading this, I had dinner with my family, during which time I got to witness and hear about a billion problems we all have, and I had to think, driving afterwards that there is something really wrong that my family has so many issues related to mental health, finances (poverty, really), and other things that I just worry about each of them so much I drive myself up the wall, and my anxiety is sky high, and I am endlessly trying to think up solutions to their problems when I am already unable to solve my own.

My own problems being things like, what I really want to do with my life, and whether or not I'm really capable of finishing college, and what the purpose of my degree will be if I get one and if I should think more about the job market and making money or about what my heart tells me to do with my life. I can't figure out if I can ever go to school full time and the social work program I was planning to apply to requires full time attendance, and then also an internship period where you work without pay for 15 weeks, and that is not something I could possibly afford to do, so this entire plan my have been derailed by money and illness factors. And there are other majors I could pick if I wanted to, but I don't really know what I am capable of, and I also don't really know one single degree that would lead to a single job where I could be successful.

I have so much on my mind. You can take a deep breath now. I keep reminding myself to do that.

I saw my new therapist the other day for the second time, and he was telling me what a strong person I supposedly am, and I wondered whether or not there was some truth in that, because I never think it is. I miss my former therapist greatly because I could trust her totally, most of the time, and right now, there is nobody I can totally trust like that who understands me like she did, who can help me sort out all the stressors that are stressing me out as she would.

And I keep having health symptoms, like today really bad pain in both of my legs, (which may be from my Fibromyalgia although it never usually does this, or my low potassium, although I'm taking potassium tablets or it could be the peripheral neuropathy I have in one leg has spread to other and started to hurt in a different way) and I have neglected getting a tilt table test (to verify whether or not I still have Dysautonomia) I was supposed to get some time ago, and I think sometimes I might be seriously more ill than I know, and that scares me but then I remember nobody will believe me if I tell them what I'm experiencing, because when you have a psychiatric diagnosis, it has been my experience than the first diagnosis that comes to mind when you present with physical complaints is simply hypochondria.

And maybe I am a hypochondriac, but unfortunately I have several real diagnoses that say I am not. And I am still having intermittent chest pains, shortness of breath, and horrible fatigue which is the story of my life. I dream that I am dying of cancer or some other disease, lately, and wake up afraid that I actually am.
Also, due to lacking Seroquel I was too depressed and morose and bordering on suicidal all weekend to be able to do anything, so I accomplished little out of all the many things I needed to do, and the auditory hallucinations started to come back (for instance my phone is ringing all the time, but it's not actually ringing, I just hear it and it's a cell phone so it's easy to tell by looking at it that it is not ringing and yet I still hear it), there, out of the corner where they lurk, always waiting for their time to return, their next attack, their next disruption of my life and all that is stable and serene. So this past week has been one morass of misery in various forms.

I am really friggin' tired right now, and sick of writing this post, which was probably not enjoyable to read, so I'll stop now and the next time I post perhaps it would be a more pleasing piece of writing.
But I will leave with the thought that I hold dear, that things will get better, that like everybody, I'll muddle through somehow, that maybe happiness exists somewhere in the future, and that I have hope, which peaks out every so often when needed, much like that little sliver of a moon. Keep your fingers crossed please.
This blog won an award recently which I will post soon. There will be a new winner or two of the "I Choose to Live Award" soon on this site as well. I also should mention that I had a great time at the conference of the National Organization for Women, I got to attend after my last post and was even able to see a bit of Boston while there. And this is the last week of the summer semester for me at school. I guess it doesn't hurt to end things on a positive note.