Saturday, September 29, 2012

My friend who told me to kill the bear

My friend, Dr. Byrd, has been a mentor to me, and an inspiration, and a sounding board, and a support person since 1996 or so, which was when I met him. I don't ever write people's last names here, but because I call him by his last name that is what I am going to use here. I also don't write a lot about specific people in my life here, because this blog isn't so much about other people, and because I like to respect their privacy and not offend anyone. But I'm going to write about Dr. Byrd because he has influenced me greatly.

When I was attending the community college I went to here in Florida back in the 90's, I was in the trenches of horrible depression to the point that I constantly thought about suicide, and I was still anorexic. I can't say I was "living with depression and anorexia", because they were mostly ruling my life. But then I took an English composition course. And, as you may have noticed, I like writing. So I loved that course. I had never had a course I loved that much before. The professor was this rather serious looking poet who was extremely knowledgeable about literature and who proved he was laid back by playing his guitar in his office for all the other professors to hear, and riding his motorcycle to work. I liked him immediately. When I would get my papers back after he graded them, there would be all these detailed comments about what he liked in them, and my favorite was when he told me, "this is really Funny!" on a paper I wrote that I thought would only be amusing to me. He would underline the parts that he wanted to emphasize in the paper. I mean, you could tell that, unlike some other professors I have known, he sat down and actually read every word of your paper.

A lot of the other students thought he was tough. He wasn't an easy professor who gave out A's to everyone. But I never found his classes too difficult, just challenging in a good way. His classes made me work harder to be a better writer, and that was something nobody had ever really challenged me to do until that point. And then I would go, brooding, into his office, to say, "Could you please look at this paper, because I don't want to fail your class", and he would say, "Sit down. Let's talk about it." He was always a professor with an open door policy, so you could approach him about ho w you were doing in the class, and get extra help. He never seemed to think I needed extra help, but I thought I did because my self esteem sucked. And also, I just liked talking to him because he was always giving out tidbits of information about writers and writing and great literature. I mentioned in my last post my difficulty with reading, but I read quite a bit for his composition course and also for his American literature course that I took after that.

One of the things he had us do in his Composition course was keep a journal. Mine was always going off into the dark side of my mind, and sometimes it would talk frankly about depression. He never looked down on me for that. He told me once about having taken antidepressants, and all the people he knew who took them, and I was so relieved at this person who I respected being so down to earth to tell me that was human too. He didn't stigmatize me or anybody else with a mental illness, which is a lot more than I can say for most people I've come across in my lifetime. At one point, he told me, "I think you're bored here. Why don't you try going to (a good local, liberal arts college) or someplace. I think you'd be a smaller fish in a big pond there rather than the big fish in a little pond like you are here." But I didn't really think I was smart enough to go to that other college. After his encouragement, however, I decided to take the SAT. It was 1997. I was 22 years old, and I had never taken the SAT because neither one of my parents ever cared if I went to college nor encouraged me to go. He said, "Why don't you take the SAT and just see how you do. I think you'll blow away the verbal section". I went and got an SAT study guide book, and I would sit late at night in fast food places, where it was easier to have peace than it was at my mom's house, and I would study that book. I took the SAT. I got a perfect score on the verbal section. It was absolutely astonishing to me, and the first thing I did was email Dr. Byrd and tell him, "Thank you." He made me believe in myself; he gave me hope when I lacked it.

In American Literature, he encouraged me to study the Harlem Renaissance, which I knew nothing about, and I studied it vigorously and came to love that time in our history in this country. I remember when he passed out Edward Arlington Robinson's poem, "Richard Cory" to the class, and I said, "I don't need one, I know it". He put me on the spot and said, "Okay, if you know it so well, tell us what it says". I recited it. It was a poem about a man who committed suicide. I was for whatever reason, always comfortable sharing my dark thoughts with Dr. Byrd. Now, years later, I can feel embarrassed about that and sorry that I bothered him so much with my depression, but he never made me feel embarrassed about it.

Once when I moved from Florida to Baltimore by myself, I stopped at the home of Dr. Byrd and his wife, in North Carolina on my way. I had car trouble, and he helped me get my car fixed and looked at it for me, because besides being brilliant about literature, he knows how to fix cars. I remember feeling so welcomed in their home. I stayed overnight and went on to Maryland the next day.

When things started to really fall apart because the center could not hold, it was Dr. Byrd who I confided in. I wrote to him when I thought I had multiple personalities. This is hard even  now to talk about, because I still don't fully understand what happened in my head at that time, but I became convinced that there were other parts of me with names. Somehow, this idea made sense before I knew what delusions or hallucinations were, and before I knew I suffered from those. So I made a complete idiot out of myself, sending people emails written like they were from a little girl named Jenny, or from my sleazy persona named Amber. Most of my friends, the few that I had at the time, freaked out about this, and then ditched me for life. Dr. Byrd didn't. He was never one to say, "You're really f'd up, get the hell out of my life", like some of my other supposed friends did. He was one who had some kind of super human patience to put up with my craziness.


Dr. Byrd got his PhD and published chap books of poetry. I kept in touch with him when I was suicidal, when I was hallucinating, when I was in and out of hospitals, when I was homeless. He usually always wrote back. I appreciated that greatly. I then went on to get a bit better, and that is where this blog started. I got diagnosed, and I got treatment, and I left full-blown, 24/7 HELL for a better if still slightly imperfect version of mental illness. I began to live. One day, I was at the Unitarian Universalist church, which is the only church I'd go into, and Dr. Byrd, his wife, and their daughter were there. I had no idea they went to that church, and I hadn't seen him in years. It was so surprising and yet it made so much sense that they would be in a place for people who are open-minded, socially conscious folks.

When I got a job at the community college where he teaches, Dr. Byrd told me that he went into the faculty lounge and said, "One of my former students is now working here and she is smarter than everybody in this room". He would tell me things like that, and even though I couldn't really believe it myself, he made me have more reason to believe in myself than I ever had before. Whenever I have needed a letter of recommendation, it was Dr. Byrd who was happy to help. He told the admissions department at my university when they didn't want to let me in because of all the classes  I had dropped years before, that he would personally come and talk to the Dean on my behalf (he didn't have to actually do that). A couple years ago, Dr. Byrd received a Fulbright grant to go and teach English in Albania. By this point, his wife, who is super-friendly and also smart, had gone through getting her Master's Degree to become a therapist. I went to the party that they had at their house to celebrate her graduation and his Fulbright, but I was too uncomfortable amongst rooms full of professors to talk to anyone. So she sat down next to me and talked to me. I deeply appreciated that. When they left town, Dr. Byrd created a blog, and his wife created one too, where you could keep; tabs on their adventures. I enjoyed reading their experiences living abroad and their insights into the difference in culture they found there in Albania.

A few months ago, Dr. Byrd told me he had cancer. Hodgkin's Disease. I was shocked because it never seems fair when life strikes against good people who don't deserve to suffer. I was impressed, however, with his attitude towards it. Even through chemotherapy, he rides his bike up to 37 miles a day, and he never feels sorry for himself.He told me he is going to recover, and he told me that he is not going to die.  I believe that. I think he will recover. I think he will go on to keep teaching. And I think one day, when I finally write a book, he will be the main person I acknowledge in it and who I say, "thank you" to for helping me get this far along. I hope that he knows how much I appreciate everything he has done for me, and I hope that he knows how admirable he is as a human being. Last year, when I started at the university I attend now, and became psychotic, Dr. Byrd sent me a video clip in email from the movie The Edge, where Anthony Hopkins directs Alec Baldwin to "kill the bear". I posted that video on this blog. In a book I made full of little, basic instructions to follow when I feel like I can't get out of bed, I have a page that says, "kill the bear". Thank you, Dr. Byrd for helping me through the muck.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The infuriating inability to read because your brain doesn't work



When I was twelve, before the demons came, I could read. I read, and read, and read. Nancy Drew, the new Hardy Boys novels, Sweet Valley High. I read them voraciously and with a true hunger for the words.

I don't know when the last time I read a novel was, but I can guarantee you it wasn't within the past twelve years.

The fact is I can't read anymore. My brain frankly refuses to cooperate when I need to read something. The most I can ever manage is a magazine article in Rolling Stone, or something, but these days I can't manage that much.

I've often wondered if I had dyslexia and it was just never diagnosed.

I can recall all the desks in all the libraries, in every state I have lived in, where I sat, and tried in vain to read a book. All of them. I will tell you, I did this in Baltimore, when I lived there in 1999, at the community college I went to there and at three different public libraries I went to there, at the library in Alexandria, Virginia when I lived there in 2002, and this isn't even talking yet about the bookstore....I tried in vain to read at the bookstore at Pentagon City, I tried in vain to read at my community college in Clearwater, FL, and at every bookstore and every library I have ever been to in my entire life. I tried to read last year at this time, and couldn't. I tried to read six months ago, and couldn't. I tried to read ten minutes ago and couldn't.

I don't ever try to read fiction. I can't. I don't like it or something doesn't work right with it in my brain and I can't read it. I can't write fiction either, except in my head. I never really try writing it though so I guess there's a remote possibility that I could.

I must be dumb. It's truly amazing that I have over 120 college credits, and I have not read 98% of the materials assigned for reading in any of my classes, ever. Truly. This is the truth now. Let's be real. Something is wrong with me.

I lied in my bed just now trying to read my textbook. Dumb. As if I have ever been able to read in my bed. I can't. I laid there and made up a poem about how I was trapped inside my bedroom and it was like a prison. I talked to my cats. I told them to leave me alone so I could read (they like it when I talk to them, so that didn't work). I gave up. Again.

This is all good and well, because it plainly doesn't matter in the ignorant, illiterate society in which I live in the United States if one can read or not. As long as you know how to turn on a TV you can get through life here. But it matters when you're, say, taking a class where you have to read entire  legal cases and then report what you read to your entire class whenever the professor decides to call on you.

So once again, I have a problem due to my inability to read. It's funny; I collect books. I love books. That's why I spend so much time in bookstores and libraries. But I don't read all of an entire book often at all. I read excerpts. Just enough to get by without overwhelming my brain. I am a fraud with an apartment full of stocked bookshelves. This is like a joke. My life is like a joke. It's pathetic.

So there you have it. That is my confessional for the week. I can't read. I am not stupid in all honesty, but I certainly feel stupid when I can't read. I am eligible for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act at my university, but it doesn't include someone putting information into your brain because you were unable to absorb it through your eyes. How unfortunate is that?

I realized recently that I'm never going to be able to go to grad school, because I can't read well enough to fake it that far. I can fake it through a BA, but I think that is all.

This feels like such a lame thing to admit to the world, but it is true. The funniest part of it is that I used to be an English major. Guess why I switched majors? Literature. We just don't get along, lit and I. We have a complicated relationship. Earlier today I was in such a good mood, I posted a link to James Brown singing "I Feel Good" on a Facebook group, but right now I feel like garbage rotting in Florida in August in the dumpster below my kitchen window.

What I would give to be able to read this damned textbook.

Can anyone relate?

Monday, September 24, 2012

When delusions beckon...I'll follow the sun

Do you ever feel like you're a pot boiling over, and you just need someone to lift the lid and turn down the heat? That's how I can explain my (hopefully momentary) lapse back into Scientology-delusion world. Sometimes, when I'm really stressed out, and when my meds (yes, I do hold them responsible for doing their job) don't seem to be working, and I have too much on my plate, the delusions come to me like a pied piper, and I want them back. That is the only way I can explain my going to see The Master, when I knew, I really knew, that it was a bad idea. A very bad idea for me. But I went. Because, as someone in a book I read on Schizophrenia and recovery once stated, "What would you rather be if you had the choice, a mental patient, or a CIA agent?" I'd rather be a CIA agent sometimes. So am I to blame for my delusions? Not entirely. I don't create them, and I don't really enjoy them at all. But they're kind of a distraction that can be enticing as ice cream on a hot day. It's like a thing that takes away the ugliness of reality and replaces it with something more complicated, and therefore, more interesting. I'm not saying I bring it on myself, because I will never say that. I don't think I am stupid enough to choose to be delusional. I just sometimes cave in a little.

So  thanks Kate, and thanks Mary for your advice, and I understand what you're saying.

I talked to my therapist about going to the movie, and about driving around Scientologistville afterwards, and she seemed to think that this was generally a really bad idea on my part. I agree.

There is also this obsession I had with a guy I never met, which went on for twelve years, and for some reason I started thinking about him again too, which is plainly stupid because there is nothing really to think about; we haven't spoken in years. I know that he wouldn't speak to me even if I had a way to reach him. So I don't know how to explain that, other than to tell you, that sometimes I have truly had all I can take, and I decide to give in to the enticing world of alternative reality for a little while. I'm aware that this is not a good way to behave if you're in recovery and trying to have a balanced, actually happy life. But I don't do it all the time. Just once in a while.

I am really, really, really aware that pills don't solve everything. I'm also really aware that my own ability to solve psychosis is extremely limited. I feel that going to therapy and psychiatry visits weekly, keeping a job and a routine with work and college, doing volunteer work and attending board meetings for NOW and NAMI, and keeping my cats fed, well, that means I'm functioning pretty well. I think the whole problem my new doctor has with understanding me is precisely that. She thinks I function too well to be psychotic. But she doesn't know me well enough to understand the facts about me and how I am when I am not psychotic at all (rare though those times may be).  I really don't think the pills are the only answer and that I can sit and be a lazy ass loser doing nothing to get better. I can't go to support groups because the only one there is where I live for mental illness is the NAMI group that meets when I'm at work. Support groups also tend to do me much more harm than good, because when I'm the least bit psychotic, in a group of people like that I think they are all talking about me and the Holocaust, and sending people like me to concentration camps. This is why I stepped down from the role I had been asked to take in running a NAMI support group at my former community college.

I told my therapist today that I had been thinking about this guy again, which is a sign something is off with me, because there is no logical reason to think about him other than my past obsession with him which no longer exists, and she said, basically, "Maybe you're lonely". This could be true. I haven't dated anyone at all in the nearly five years since Jim - my ex - moved out and left me in the dust. I don't date because I'm convinced that I'm too obese and ugly to be attractive to anyone. That's really it. I got that idea from Jim telling me, "You're really fat and you're not attractive anymore", on numerous occassions. It's not his fault that I gained weight, but it's really be the meds that led to the weight gain. Considering he knew that it was the meds, I have to say he was a bit of an asshole. I am really glad he left me; it was the nicest thing he ever did for me, leaving me crying in my bed, wishing he would marry me. I would have one hell of a miserable life married to that guy, and I am far, far, far better off alone than I was with him.

But sometimes you just don't want to be alone for your whole life. Sometimes you want to belong to something (Scientology/New World Order/CIA/NSA/OSA/FBI) or someone (guy who never even liked me as a true friend in the first place), or whatever. I know that one reason I want to travel abroad next year is simply to have something to look forward to next year. My life is a bit lacking in that area.

So sometimes I think, "what if Brad the librarian hadn't moved away to get his PhD and I had stayed with him" (he was my last boyfriend before Jim, back around 2004). Or "what if I could still talk to KH on email. Or what if I had actually been able to go to Smith and gotten a Master's degree by now instead of what I'm doing. What if everything was different because of one significant change?

But everything is the way it is. I do try to do my best sometimes, but not all the time, admittedly. I do have happiness in my life, and it's real and not delusional. I do have goals that I do know I can attain. If only I could lose weight, keep my apartment clean, get enough sleep, get to work on time every day and never late, and read my textbooks.......If only. Since we all must deal with the hands we're dealt, there's no real point in doing the whole "what if" thing, and generally I do realize that fact. Just sometimes I forget.

So thank you all for your advice in the comments on my last post. I am not sure if I will go to a different doctor just yet, because I found out that my doctor had a close family member pass away the same day that I last saw her, and I think this could explain her rather illogical statements to me about severe OCD and how people with OCD and Schizophrenia are more bothered by their egocentric delusions than people without OCD. I know I have OCD; it's just that I know very well it isn't my main problem. But I could cut her some slack and give her another chance considering that she has a difficulty in her personal life, or I could say adios and go on elsewhere. I'm not sure yet what I'll do. But I will figure it out. There are always options, other avenues to take, other places to go for help. All is not lost. And this is not lost on me.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Scientology, Nazis, and me

Well, things are not working out too well. My psychiatrist, who has only known me for a couple months, clearly doesn't understand the nature of my problems. She now rhinks my delusions might be being caused by severe OCD, which makes no sense. She said something about how people with Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder have less "egocentric" delusions than people with OCD. This also made no sense to me. She put me on 80 mgs. of Prozac, and unless I want to become manic, then that is obviously not a good idea.

It's not entirely her fault. She has only had a few minutes in each appointment to hear about my problems, and evidently my former doctor didn't really explain everything, so I don't know. I just know I am, probably, going to have to find another doctor. This sucks. I liked my last doctor because he took me seriously and didn't think I was stupid. Then I had to have a new doctor because he left. It has not worked out. I don't want to go through finding another doctor again, but there is no point in going  to see someone who doesn't even know I'm psychotic when I am psychotic.

Last night my mom wanted to see the movie The Master, and I made the mistake of going to it with her. It is based on Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard (or LRH as they call him). I used to think I was LRH reincarnated. I also thought I was a Scientologist for a while. After I got a bit better on meds, this all went away, but then today, after having seen that movie last night, I found myself thinking some of the old thoughts, and driving down to where the FLAG base is, which is not far from where I live in Florida so I could....I don't know...figure things out.  I followed one of their buses to one of the motels where they live. I ended up just going home. But this is reminiscent of my really psychotic times when I wandered around down in their neighborhood all the time, and I don't want to become like that again.

I'm in school, but it's hard because I can't read much, and I keep thinking my professors are Nazis. When they lift their right arms up, I think they are saying, "Hile Hitler", and it really freaks me out. I swear that they both did this within the past two weeks. I swear I was not imagining it. So the whole thing about the Scientology/Nazi/Illuminati/CIA/New World Order scheme to take over the world (or, more to the point, the idea that they already run the world), has come to mind a lot. I can't say this is anything new, but I can't say it's getting better either. I am on too much medication to be having these kinds of thoughts. This makes no sense.

Of course if they are really in control of the world, it would make sense that no doctor can help me get over this delusion, because then it would not actually be a delusion in the first place. It would just be the truth. That is one possibility. This is how I think. Does that make me "egocentric"? I don't really think so. This isn't about me; it's about the whole world. The whole world! People with OCD don't have complex delusions about the entire world being run in a secret manner. I do. I might have OCD as a secondary problem, but clearly it is not my main problem. So I am stuck having to find a new doctor.

I'm also very tired from Navane. I literally spent the whole day sleeping today. I didn't accomplish anything at all. The drug makes me too tired; I can't continue on 6 mgs. of it.

I'm scared to leave the community mental health center, because I don't know of any good doctors really to go to, and I don't really trust any of them to be able to help me anyway. Most of them rarely have helped much. I mean, I was better than I am now, but I was never completely better. Sometimes I think I should go off all the medications and try something different for a change, since they don't help much anyway. But then I remember how bad off I was on no medication, and I don't want to return to that horrific excuse for a life.

On the good news end, my brother finally went to a halfway house for people with alcohol and addiction problems. I am so glad he is not dead in a motel room. I am really glad for that.

Things besides that aren't very good. I don't know what to do anymore. Maybe I should go down to FLAG and join Scientology again; perhaps it would work better than this mess I'm in. Probably not.

FLAG is the international base for Scientology volunteers who devote their lives to the cult. I don't know why I had the luck to have to end up living nearby it, but I have often thought that it was no coincidence. I have often thought I was one of them and I just don't remember my indoctrination process because I blocked it out. I know how crazy that sounds. But I was a lot more crazy in the past.

Somehow in my head being a Jew persecuted by Nazis and being a Scientology/CIA spy come into my reality at the same time. It's really hard to explain. And honestly, I doubt anyone is interested in hearing about the explanation anyway. So I guess it doesn't matter. What does matter is my doctor does not understand me or how I think at all, and she is in control of my brain with all the drugs I am putting into it. So that's not a good situation to be in.

In other news, I'm still thinking I want to travel somewhere next year.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Feeling kind of blah, but having dreams despite it

I spoke the other night on  panel of speakers at NAMI Pinellas' meeting on the topic of C.I.T. (Crisis Intervention Training). Also on the panel was my friend Terry who won the C.I.T. International consumer award recently because she has been speaking at C.I.T. trainings for like 15 years. If you're not familiar with C.I.T., try searching online for information or on this blog for other posts about it. It's a great program which saves lives. Part o the training involves the law enforcement officers being trained listening to an mp3 player with what sounds like voices that someone who is psychotic might hear. During our meeting they passed these mp3 players around so the audience could get that experience too. I was told that it can be a trigger to actually hear voices if you are already prone to doing so, so I couldn't try it out. But I think it's a great exercise to help law enforcement officers understand what it is like to be a member of our voice hearer club.

I'm feeling very dull and blah. I keep getting stuck inside my head, which is, I think, because of the "negative" symptom side of psychosis. For instance, tonight I went and rented a movie, but then I couldn't watch it. I tried to watch  it, but I couldn't concentrate to follow it, and then I just closed my eyes and laid there on the couch listening to the movie. But I couldn't tell you what the movie was about at all. I eventually decided to just go to bed and retreat for a while, which is what I do a lot when I'm like this. The movie was Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which would probably interest me a lot more if my brain was working. Earlier I went to a bookstore, flipped through a couple books for a couple minutes, realized that this is futile when you can't read **(how often I manage to forget that fact!), and then left. I can't concentrate to read my textbooks, and it's affecting me negatively in school. For one of my classes we have to brief legal cases and we have to read a lot  of legal cases for this. So I haven't been able to read hardly any of them. But on the successful end, I did get a notetaker for that class by approaching the professor and giving her my letter from the office for students with disabilities. I explained, briefly, that I needed a notetaker and she helped me by approaching a student who seems bright and engaged in the material, and asking her to do it for me. She said, "I am asking this as a personal favor", which I thought was nice of her because she really took the pressure off of me having to be like the "I am labeled disabled, please help" person.

At the same time, I've been thinking a lot about something I'd like to do, and that is to travel abroad. I've never been outside the U.S., and I know I'm not up to doing it right now even if it was financially possible, but I'd like to think maybe I could do it next summer. I'd have to get a study abroad scholarship or something, but my financial aid situation with college is complicated by my years of dropping classes and getting "W" grades (for withdrawal), so that might be impossible. I have wanted to see Europe (and other parts of the world, of course) for my whole life, and have never gotten the opportunity. Since I'm taking a Spanish class right now, I've been thinking about how much Spanish I could learn if I was actually in Espana for a few weeks. It would certainly give me something to look forward to in the future. So I'm looking into doing that, and trying to figure out a way I could afford to go somewhere outside the U.S. in the next year. It probably won't happen, because of money, but I can dream.

My car was having major fits, and I got her two new tires today after weeks of being barely able to steer her, and after being ripped off, yet again, by an auto repair place that rips people off, so I am glad that she's now driving steadily. I'm very grateful to have a car, because I lived without one for years, and it was really hard for me to get places. I generally lack the energy one needs to walk far and take buses, especially because where I live there is very little public transportation compared to some other places, and so, I am glad I have a car, even though I know I'm leaving a carbon footprint that's not so good by driving. My car is covered in bumper stickers with quotes and sayings I like, and I have told people that it is my way of increasing the literacy of the general populace, because it gives them some reading material at red lights.

Back to the brain...I get a little worried that the Navane is making me dull. I feel very dull. I feel like life is just a big ball of blah. I wish I knew how to feel alive, and I have the unfortunate habit of shopping sometimes to feel more alive. I've ordered a number of clothing items online recently because getting new clothes in the mail is exciting, but I can't really afford to be doing this. I'm not manic or anything, and I don't spend tons of money, but I do shop too much. It's odd since I'm really not a materialistic kind of person, but I guess I am grasping at straws for a way to feel better, happier, more alive.

My mom keeps telling me to find a new psychiatrist, because I have been having so many problems and the community mental health center doesn't seem to have all the answers. But there is no magic cure. No other psychiatrist will be able to cure me. And I don't really know a lot of good psychiatrists that would be worth going to. My experience has mostly been within community mental health, so I haven't been to a lot of private psychiatrists. When my favorite shrink left the mental health center a few months ago, it was really devastating, because I knew that he knew how to help me better than anybody else I'd ever seen, and I really wish he was still there. It takes a long time for me to explain my brain and all its issues with a new psychiatrist, and the process is not that easy. There is one private psychiatrist I met in a hospital years ago who I liked a lot. He told me my diagnosis and had me watch the movie A Beautiful Mind to understand it. He told me "you have the same illness as John Nash", and that gave me hope that I could get better. Not many people who read my blog back then still read it, but Kate my remember when I went by the pseudonym "beautiful mind, complex life" because I identified with that movie before anybody told me why I identified with it. Too bad I'm not a genius who's going to win the Nobel Prize, like John Nash, but you can't have it all.

I've been late for work a few times lately because of not being able to get up in the morning. My sleep still sucks, but I was told after I had a sleep study a couple months ago that I do not have sleep apnea. I missed my appointment with the sleep doctor (pulmonologist) after that, because I was too tired to go. I also don't think he has any plans to help me. His advice was to get rid of the TV in my bedroom, and I don't watch TV every night in bed so I don't think doing that would really fix my horrendous life-long insomnia. Plus he's not somebody who sees people experiencing psychosis every day, and I don't think he understands my reasons for needing something to listen to at night. Usually I listen to music, but sometimes it is the banned TV.

Okay, so I will close this post by saying if you live outside the U.S. please let me know if I can come visit you! Just kidding, but I would love to do so if it were realistic. I would so love to see other parts of the world.


Sunday, September 09, 2012

Struggles continue, but life is like that

Hello friends,

I am not doing so hot. I am experiencing a lot of psychosis symptoms and they generally suck, as you may know from your own experiences with them. If you don't know, feel free to browse this blog! It seems to be a topic I write a lot about. Unfortunately.

But I'm back in school. At my university, I have to get notetakers for both my classes, because I don't think I'll pass if I don't do that for at least my political science course.  We are supposed to be reading legal cases and writing legal briefs. Once again, my brain has decided I won't be able to read this semester. Gee, this is familiar. It's the story of my freakin' life. So now there is a lot riding on me passing these classes, because I had to go through a major appeal process to get financial aid to continue college, by providing copious medical documentation that I had medical reasons (ie, I was out of my mind) for withdrawing from school years ago, so that's why I still haven't graduated and I have a low ratio of satisfactory academic progress. That's the financial aid term for "dropped out of classes a lot". I know a lot about this being a common problem, since I work at a community college where we help people who have questions about how to do such an appeal, so I know I'm not the only one out there with a decent GPA who is on financial aid "probation". But this means that if I ever withdraw or fail a course I cannot ever get financial aid again. There are no more appeals for me if I do that. In other words, I better get my ability to read back, and fast!

The auditory hallucinations continue, so when I'm at work, all day I hear people calling me "Jew" and telling me I am going to burn to death or be gassed to death and that I'm going to "walk home" to a concentration camp. This is going on even now, when I'm on THREE, yes, three, antipsychotic drugs. I am currently taking Latuda 120 mgs, Risperdal Consta 50 mgs, and Navane 6 mgs.

In the side effects realm, I can't stop moving my legs, thanks to Navane. It seems I've got a touch of the old Extrapyramidal Symptoms (EPS), so I'm supposed to be taking yet ANOTHER drug for that, Artane, because I can't take Cogentin since it makes my vision really blurry. But I hate being on all this medications. I am on Prozac, Klonopin, Ambien, Vistaril, Navane, Latuda, Risperdal injections, Methocarbomal, Naproxen, Synthroid, Cytomel, something for acid reflux I never remember the name of, Artane, Salagen, and Plaquenil, as well as Melatonin. This is too much. I know it is not a good situation.

I was able to attend NAMI Florida's Peer to Peer training and become a trained Peer to Peer Mentor who can help teach Peer to Peer classes for consumers, two weeks ago, and I got through that. I'm glad to be involved, but I'm also too overwhelmed to be able to handle other responsibilities. I was scheduled to attend another three-day training this coming weekend to lead a support group for a year and a half as part of NAMI on Campus at my old community college, but I know I am not up to this right now and I had to back out of it. I was really worried that people would be angry with me for backing out, and I really was afraid to do it, but I had to, as I cannot control my mind. It's unfortunate because they wanted me to lead a support group and I would like to be able to help with that, but I cannot do it, and I just know that if I push myself any harder I'm headed into a hospital.

Yesterday, I had a ticket to see Obama speak, and I didn't go. I have a lot of fears of the CIA and the Secret Service, and I was afraid to go because of that, but also, you had to wait in line and stand for hours in the heat in a mob of 15,000 people and I was in no way up to doing that. So I missed it. Probably better off that I just watched him speak on TV instead.

In other news, my brother doesn't seem to be doing well with his own mental health or his drinking problem, and I surely hope he gets the help he needs soon, but I really have no way to help him since he refuses to admit he needs help. He's been living in motels and in and out of my mom's house for the past couple years. He was supposed to go to a halfway house in January but he refused to go, and has refused to go ever since. So I keep having fears that he's going to die or end up in prison, or on the streets. Mostly, I'm afraid he's going to die. I wish I knew how to help him. I wish I had the money to send him to rehab, but I don't. I wish I could save him, but I can't. It's a very helpless feeling.

The other day I was in the grocery store, and I thought this woman was my mom. She didn't really look like my mom, but I thought she did at first, and then I kept thinking it. I followed her to see if she recognized me, but the woman just looked like she didn't know me, so then I told myself, "No, this is not your mom, this is your mind playing tricks once again, let it go". It scared me because stuff like that used to happen to me all the time when I was not well and not on meds. It shouldn't be happening NOW when I'm on A TON of meds!

I'm afraid my new psychiatrist doesn't know how to help me. I haven't been well the whole time I've seen her, so she doens't know me when I am well, in order to have something to compare this to. So all I can do is hope that she understands, when I say, "I'm psychotic", that I'm not exaggerating things. I find it hard to explain my whole life in five minutes.

Well, I'm really tired from all the meds, and I can't think of a lot of good things to say, so I'm sorry if this is a dull post. Pero, yo hablo un poquito en espanol because I am taking Spanish at my university and have learned a tiny bit. In Spanish when you ask people how they're doing, they don't always say, "Muy Bien!" (very good), sometimes they say, "Regular." I like that idea. Sometimes they even say "No muy bien" (not very good). It makes sense to me that people would just be honest about how they are instead of having to lie about it all the time.

Buenas Noches.

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