Thursday, February 28, 2013

How I'm Coping

I am having a hard time, as I mentioned in my last post. I am hearing a lot of auditory hallucinations, as well as having some delusional thoughts, and all the while experiencing many of the negative symptoms of psychosis. But I am dealing with it.

Here are some of the ways I am coping:

1. Yesterday, I took a test that I had put off for a week. I took it even though I might fail it. I don't want to fail the class, but I REFUSE to withdraw again. I took the test knowing that I might get a horrible grade.

2. When I was experiencing a lot of symptoms during my Spanish class, I got up, walked out, and called the mental health clinic. I demanded after many repeated calls that they get my Latuda refilled. I asked for a sooner appointment with my doctor than the one that they had given me at the end of May. (I haven't seen my doctor in two months, and for a while I was seeing her every week). I took the first appointment they had available. I will see the doctor next Thursday.

3. When my Spanish professor asked me what was wrong, I was honest with her. I did not hide my disease. I said, "I have Schizophrenia, and I'm having some problems right now". I wasn't trying to garner sympathy or anything like that, but I was tired, stressed out, really having a hard time, and someone asked me "What's wrong?" so I answered with an honest response. I am proud of myself for speaking the truth about my life, and not hiding in shame at that moment.

4. My boss is making us take time out of our paid hours for lunch breaks, which we have never had to do before. So even though I am having a hard time mentally, I contacted human resources to see what the rules were on this and explain that I didn't think it was right for policies to be changed that had been in place for years without it being put in writing. I was able to do this even though I have my brain "tied behind my back" as my former therapist would say.

5. Today, after work I went and got my nails done. I didn't take a shower today or yesterday. I don't remember actually when I did. I didn't put on make up today. But I knew that my ugly fingernails with the polish shredding off from the gel manicure I had a few weeks ago looked really bad, and I decided, finally, to get the stuff taken off and have them repainted to look pretty again. I know this sounds stupid and entirely vain, but it is a small gift I could give to myself and I did that to feel better.

6.  I've been talking to friends, and telling people how I'm doing, and that I'm not really okay.

7. I was honest with my family and stood up to them when they expected me to respond to more emails about my brother. I said, "In case anyone has forgotten, I have a lifelong, incurable disease that worsens under stress." I asked them to stop emailing me about my brother and his drinking problem.

8. I told my brother that I can't be of any help to him unless he helps himself. And I told him that I won't do anything to support him if he continues to drink. He'll be on his own, on the streets. And I meant that. It's harsh sounding, I know, but it's what needed to be said.

9. I fed my cats every day twice a day, even when I have been really psychotic, and even when I don't care about anything or anyone.

10. I wrote on this blog.

11. I wrote to the disabilities services office at my university today, and asked the man who runs that office to get me a notetaker for my class. When he didn't respond to my email, I wrote to his assistant and asked her. They then responded, and my professor sent out a message to my political science classmates asking them if someone would take notes for a student with a disability. I know I need this to pass this class, and I didn't want to have to ask for it, which is why I didn't at the beginning of the semester. But this class is hard, and I cannot read, and I need a notetaker.

12. I didn't let my professor's comments about "wacko people" which he made when discussing the section of the syllabus that mentioned disabilities on the first day of class prevent me from telling him that I have a mental illness and I needed extra time to study for a test because of a setback with my medications. That was hard.

13. I only missed one day of school, which was the day I went to the courthouse to get my brother committed under the Baker Act.

14. I calmly and rationally dealt with the police when they came to pick my brother up a week ago, and even though I'm afraid of police and of people knocking on my door and particularly of police knocking on my door, I didn't let that immobilize me.

15. I eat three meals a day every day, even when I have no food at home. Then today, after having been eating only fast foods for weeks, I finally went to a grocery store, and bought some food. I knew I could only last a short period of time in there, so I quickly picked up frozen dinners and cheese and crackers, and bought it, and took it home and put it away, and ate dinner.

16. I have all my medications now, because I hounded the doctor's office even when it became obvious that people there think I'm a total pain in the ass.

17. I called my case manager yesterday, after my Spanish class, and asked if I could meet with her because  I needed help. I went to her office and talked to her about what was going on, and made plans for how to deal with it. This was proactive, and was more healthy than doing nothing and keeping it to myself while it got worse. Also, I thought about going to the hospital, weighed the pros and cons of that, and ultimately decided against it, which I think was a wise choice.

18. I couldn't go to a National Organization for Women meeting last night, and I knew that I had said I would be there, and that I had missed all the meetings in recent months. Yet, I couldn't go, so I didn't go. And that was what was best for me. I didn't let other people's opinions of me force me to push myself to do one more thing that I couldn't handle doing right now.

19. I wrote an article for someone who requested it, on mental health, and even though it wasn't a good example of my best writing I sent it to her anyway, so I wouldn't have failed to do something I said I would do.

20. I went to work every day that I was supposed to lately. I was late sometimes, but I never stayed home. Next week the community college I work for is on spring break, so I am off for the whole week. I can stay home then.

21. I made plans with my friend who has been cleaning my apartment to come over again this coming Sunday and clean for me, and I will pay her and it will be worthwhile, and I was not too ashamed to do it.

22. I didn't try to force myself to read my books for school that I can't read. I knew it was futile, so instead of sitting in a library with my head on a desk for days, like I've done before, I just studied my notes and class presentations on Blackboard (website for school), and I didn't read any of the books for the class before I took the test, but I took the test anyway.

23. I went to my rheumatologist last Friday and waited 2 hours to see her. Because she's a good doctor, it's worthwhile.

24. I went to the chiropractor this week and last week, and will go again tomorrow. This is to help with my Fibromyalgia and arthritis.

25. I went to a dental clinic to get my teeth cleaned, finally, after not having them cleaned for like 2 years, which is really bad with Sjogren's Syndrome, and even though I knew they would chide me for not flossing, I didn't let it bother me when they started in on that lecture. That was a week and a half ago.

26. I watched the Oscars and was able to focus on it not only enough to watch it but enough to get outraged by the sexist, and racist jokes on there, and then send messages via Twitter and Facebook to the host to let him know what I thought of his misogyny and ignorance.

27. I talked to people in a Schizoaffective support group on Facebook about what was going on with me, and I read some of their posts about what is going on with them and responded to them.

28. I paid my rent for this month not only on time, but early, because I sent it with the rent check for last month that I was mailing late.

29. I made it to my appointment to renew my lease and got all my paperwork turned in to remain in my apartment.

30. I filed for financial aid for next year by the deadline (which is tomorrow) today, to be able to try to get scholarships, grants, and a little more loan money.

31. I talked to my grandmother on Skype, because even though I can't talk to her about mental illness, I know she is lonely and she doesn't have a lot of people to talk to and it helps me to stay in touch with her because I care about her and miss her.

I thought it would be better to write a post like this than a litany of all my symptoms and problems and how my medication is failing to fix them right now. I thought it would be better for me myself to write this than to write that, and I thought it would be more interesting to you reading it, and of more use (there's a great poem called "To Be of Use") than my complaints would have been. After all, I complain enough on here.



  1. I'm so proud of you Jen. You're such an inspiring woman and you never give up. Sending you all the love and hugs I can from Down Under xxx

  2. I was glad to wonder upon your blog. My son has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia by a psychologist and Schizoaffective Disorder by a psychiatrist. He refuses treatment now and is not on medication. He has shown signs of psychosis for about a month now, but does what you mentioned. He cooks his food, feeds and waters the cat, takes out the trash and can have reasonable conversations. The hard part is when he is mumbling, having disorgaized thought, anger and irrational behavior. I am thankful that in some ways he is functional. I don't know if a group home is our next step. It's hard to handle his ups and downs at home. And I hate mental hospitals. Thanks for listening.


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