I’ve lost my motivation and my ability to concentrate. My writing is suffering, as I haven’t written consistently in some time. I’m going to try and be more persistent at updating my blog, though.
A couple of weeks ago I thought I had a heart attack. One Monday morning my chest started hurting so much I had to stop in my tracks, grab my chest, and just try to breathe through the pain. I’m no stranger to weird pains, I get them all the time. But after being shamed in the ER for not coming in for an emergency when I had a hernia, I opted to make an appointment with my nurse assistant instead of calling an ambulance. The following day I saw my medical professional, she said immediately “Go to the ER for any chest pain at rest.” So, off to the ER mom and I went. Problem is, with all the tests, they found no evidence of a heart attack, so back to square one.
I had recently been prescribed some new medicines for asthma, allergies, and high cholesterol along with a new anti-psychotic and a med for side effects. That’s a lot for the body to process. I take so many meds now, it seems ridiculous, maybe even sad. When I was healthy, I shunned meds. When I became sick, I started packing on weight and ailments.
After reading a friend’s blog about her struggle with cancer, I’ve decided I can get a little more “real” with my own blog and bring it down to the emotional level, instead of just staying analytical.
About ten years ago I was struck with what I call “Late Onset Schizophrenia.” I say what “I call this” is more about being educated by and about my own disease. I’ve carried all of the diagnostic labels in the group, including bi-polar with psychosis and schizoaffective because the word “schizophrenic” is so so widely misunderstood, misappropriated, and misused that even doctors don’t want to use the word now. The term “psychosis” is equally misunderstood and misused. Most people, it seems, associate the latter with getting really angry and being hostile and antagonistic. For most of us experiencing psychosis, it is usually about feeling terrorized, scared, and full of uncertainty and anxiety.
Anyway, I said I would stay away from the stump speeches and hit home instead.
I’ve had another break recently. There have been more than I can count now. This blog documents them all in some form or another. Sometimes I am so afraid of my psychotic reality I won’t write about it, but when I do write about what I am experiencing, I can really bring the experience to life. At least I think I can, reading months or years later. Those epic, in-your-face posts, however, are few and far between.
I’m scared and my mom told me the other day she is scared for me when she dies. Mom is dying of Stage-four Lung Cancer and I’ve been her primary support. I will be her only caregiver. Hearing this from my mom really shocked me, and I had to leave her place because I was so upset. I was upset because no one I know has yet to express any real concern for me and my life and how I am doing. Mom must keep her fears tightly capped because she has never told me as much before, even though we had been living together for a number of years until recently and she has really, now, seen the worst of it.
I hate to show it myself, my fears. I don’t know where I will turn when my mom dies. She has been the only one to see me and support me and care for me. Although we’ve had our differences through the years, my mom has been my sole support in my illness. My brothers are present to some extent, but they aren’t around enough to really understand what I am like when I am sick, nor how to help me. And, really, there is no way to help me and this is exactly what doctors, nurses, and the sick already know. There is no cure, there is no panacea. There is hardly any research to that matter. They keep making new drugs, but they’re not much better than the old stuff. For the few who are really lucky, a shot of risperidol or some other drug may help, but for me, only time helps, and in the mean time, I sit and suffer through my symptoms — and it really is suffering. I hate psychosis so much.
But to the degree I hate psychosis, I also love my mom, so I am going to make a concerted effort to really be there for her, to show her who I am as an individual — something a parent may not see, something half my lovers have not seen, something I keep tightly regulated now. I only dole out my love now for, well, no one.
Maybe it is time for me to love again, and I’ll hedge my bets on mom being a good start.
Whelp, it is time to get on with the Holidays. This year finds me doing well. I thank my doctor, who has an amazing memory and a willingness to keep trying when in the face of defeat. It is uncommon to have people to talk good about their psychiatrists; I can say I have encountered at least one doctor who was subpar (he was months away from retirement and — seriously — would never even look at while I was in his office). Anyway, my doctor is leaving the practice, so I get to meet a new doctor come January.
When my doctor, Dr. S., told me he was leaving the practice, I had to cry. With my short time sick, I’ve seen six practitioners in ten years (not to include hospital stays). Not a large number to some, but a larger number than I would like. It has to do with insurance and availability and “the system”. My doctor got me on Disability with his copious notes and keen observations. This, I feel, kept me safe and stable in my living arrangements, which goes a long way toward being safe and stable overall. I had a psychotic break as recently as January of this year. It takes forever for the illness to go away, and for me to be feeling normal again (finally!). What a relief.
I asked what kicks off psychosis, what can I expect? I think it boils down to a crap shoot, because they really don’t know what causes it, and I think it is because they like us being sick and on medicine. If just one of those researchers could feel what I go through, I think there would be more money spent on finding the cause and a cure. But the marginalized stay cast in shadows, alone, disenfranchised, and sometimes bereft of hope. I’ve felt that way.
Dr. S. is one of the “good guys,” always upbeat, positive, and ready to roll with the worst of it. I went to his office one day, crying. I blurted out that if I stayed that way, I would commit suicide — a fearful statement like this could easily land one in the hospital, but since he knew I was living with mom, and that mom had an eye on me, he let me go home with a new battery of meds. Now that’s a great psychiatrist: one who will let you vent safely so that he can get to the truth of the matter.
I am going to miss my doctor. Maybe he’ll land back in my world.
I am left right centered, hooked up and wired. We smoke half the day and find ourselves.
I follow myself and shadow my friends.
And there are others among us who care and cry when we are gone, though we still find ourselves alone.
Drink water or fantasy, and all is well within.
Enjoying my newfound wellness, a reprieve after the heavy pressure of psychosis. I’ve taken to going out a lot and enjoying the summer months (despite the heat). A beer, yes, tastes better in the hot afternoon. I go out to socialize and get my mind off my narrow, myopic indoor self, the one who is bored in the face of the vast internet where anything can be found within a few clicks. I just sit there, staring at the screen, wasting hours upon hours doing nothing much at all. My computer is to me what television is to my mother, the attention grabber that isn’t very important after all.
I’ve decided to keep track of my time using a spiral-bound day planner, and when I notice a chunk of time starting to be etched out doing nothing, I start finding something for myself to do. Ergo–the blog today.
Going out alone in your 40s as a single woman is a lot different than going out alone in your 20s or 30s — something I couldn’t stand then, but should have. In my youth it seemed like every hairy, wrinkled old man would hit on me and park himself next to me, lording over me his stale pheromones and rank booze sweat. In my 40s the men largely consider me a fixture and will talk openly with each other around me, so I get the man’s perspective on everything, for better or for worse. If they get exceptionally frank, one will typically buy me a drink, perhaps in hopes I’ll forget about their raunchiness.
When they inquire about me, I lie about my working status and extend the last date on my resume, saying I am still working my last job (this being the most fresh in my mind); I’m a technical writer working as a project manager. This earns me some street cred and very few questions about what I do day to day. No one wants to be in the shadow of a PM. I feel guilty admitting to being on disability, especially drinking, where I might earn the ire of the working man for using government money to fund my carousing.
I don’t lie about being in school, working on my Master’s in Education. That has sparked a few conversations. Add to it that, come January, I’ll be working on a technical certificate from a reputable local college, I’ll have more to talk about.
I don’t know much about politics. My memory has never served me for political points, nuances, lies, and history. I get pissed off before I can make my point and I just let it roll over me. I know where I stand, and I don’t need convincing or cajoling to alter and amend my views. As far as bar conversation goes, then, not speaking about work, kids, or politics cuts away the meat of what is said in conversation in which I find myself participating, so I sit and enjoy the revelry around me and simply laugh when appropriate.
My last psychotic episode, which began in January 2017, has finally ended. It ended in July, so that was a good seven-month run where I was overcome with symptoms. I’ve been able to determine that “Psychosis” for me is a delusional state, not paranoia or auditory hallucinations alone, but a blanket combination of hearing that is overwhelming paired with beliefs that what I hear is my ever-present reality. I follow what the voices say, especially at night when all is quiet.
I can see why paranoia is often a part of the diagnosis. It is what the doctors can see from my actions…I run in fear. I stay up all night, afraid. For me, however, I see it otherwise. Fear seems to be the by product of my delusions. The story line that picks up where it left off from the previous bout of psychosis, while the story line has also evolved as the psychosis has departed.
It’s getting to the point where I absolutely hate my psychosis. It is so taxing, mentally and emotionally. It is the narrative that won’t quit, that never takes a day off. I’m subjugated to the pressure from the moment I wake up until I fall asleep in exhaustion. Months go by where I have no self-directed days. Months.
Making use of my “down time” is something I want to pursue. Maybe a book, I tell myself. I can put all my pain down in the saga, the tragedy. Working harder than ever before, I can do this.
I’ll post more as I plan out my work.
Thanks to everyone who reads me. I lost my .com url with this last bout, so I changed my domain to bugbearandcaw.blog. With your continued support, I will keep writing.