Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Scarlet B

My name is not Hester Prynne. I don't think Ms. Prynne would be placing a scarlet B on her chest and placing gold threads through it if the following happened to her.

This true event happened to me in the end of June. I'm changing the names, like they do in "Dragnet" to protect the innocent, but also I simply forgot the names of the parades of doctors and nurses I saw.


Regular readers know I had acute renal failure in both kidneys back in November 2010. So this past May I found myself with edema in my feet and legs that were so bad I could not walk. I could not put on shoes. My first thought was kidney failure. Off I went to the kidney doctor for a full work up. Everything seemed to be fine, kidney wise. I was told to cut out all salt from my diet, check with my gynecologist to make sure I wasn't retaining water, and given a script for Lasix, a water pill.

One month later, and my feet, and legs were still elephantine from edema. I waddled off to see the GP. She suggested I go to the hospital for tests. Off I went to the Catttery to board kitty for 3 days. I checked myself into the hospital. I had 14 tests given, from CAT scans to ultrasounds, to tests with Doppler. They checked heart, and for blood clots, and more kidney.

And all the tests were inconclusive.

Here is where it got interesting. I was in the hospital for approx 38 hours. After about 6 hours I noticed something. The nurses and doctors were treating me different. Not as kind, but like I was a child. Not just any child, but a slow child, a child with an IQ say of 60.

All of a sudden, I was no longer, Susan, who was here for cardio and kidney, I was here solely for Bipolar. The cardio and kidney were pushed aside to tertiary status. Every doctor, every doctor, every resident wanted to bring out the DSM and play shrink until a real shrink came in.

All our medical records had been added to a computer about two years back.  Did the doctors, nurses, or residents see that my kidneys failed? No. The first thing the computer was spitting out was a hospitalization from 2003 where I was in the hospital for 5 weeks and received ECT. THAT is what they saw. And that is what they chose to address.An event 10 years ago which had no reference to what was happening to me at the moment, namely, to determine why my edema had been going on for seven weeks rendering it impossible for me to walk, or hold myself up to take a shower.

My mental health issues in the past had as much to do with my current prognosis as it did having my tonisils removed when I was four. Why weren't they dragging that fact out? It was just as salient to me.

No. I have been labeled Bipolar, and this label has bow been with me for more than half my life. It's my Scarlet B. People don't judge me for me, they judge me as someone who is Bipolar. Someone who is less than human. She should be shunned and locked away like they did a century ago. I saw it first hand with the doctors and nurses.

Never mind that I took nursing classes a few years ago when I though about going back to school for a nursing degree. What I saw made me mad. And broke my heart.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Paying It Forward

Readers of my blog know I've been M.I.A from January until the end of April, battling a crippling bout of depression that pretty much led me in bed unable to move. It was awful.

Everything went out the window. I stopped bathing. I stopped grooming. I stopped eating. My agoraphobia was off the chain, I left my apartment only to buy cat food and litter. I was sleeping up to 20 hours a day. I had no interest in anything including the cat.

It got so bad that every morning I would curse I was alive, yet I wasn't suicidal. I wasn't in physical pain. It was in my head, in my entire being, in my body, my viscera and soul.

It didn't really begin to lift til the end of April. Now that it is pretty much over, I never want to go through it again. It was clearly the worst experience of my life.

Which brings me to the present. Last week, coffee with mom at Dunkin Donuts. I told her I can't go through that again I have to do something with the second part of my life. But what? I'm clueless.

Long discussion with my social worker. Then it hit me. Pay it forward. I've been a peer councilor before. I was quite good at it. Why not try my hand at doing it for real?

There are for colleges/universities within a 20 mile radius from my apartment. I looked at graduate studies programs from all four and met with representatives from each school. Three were interested in me and one only offers a PhD but assured me I would not have a problem having access to it's wonderful library. Two schools offer Masters in Counseling and/or Psychology. One just offers a MSW.

However, when I explained why I wanted to get this degree, why I would be only taking one class per semester, they agreed it was a good idea.

PAY IT FORWARD.

I've had therapists and psychiatrists who don't understand what it's like to be in my shoes and I didn't work well with them.

Look at it this way. I'm a female and I see a female gynecologist.    I saw a man once but he was, lets face it, clueless to what it is to menstruate, how miserable water buildup is. Etc etc. A female understands, and offers not sympathy but a feeling of camaraderie.

Same with having a doctor or a therapist who's experienced depression, or mania or has a family
member touched by it. It's easier to talk to them, to relate. They have walked in my shoes.

I'm not saying its going to be easy. College was easy when I was 20. I'm slightly twice that now, it's going to be difficult. So is life. I just don't want anyone to go through what I just went through and if they do, give them the tools to get through it.  I don't even know if this is the right career path for me. The only things I have ever really been good at were school and writing. I can't pay the rent with writing, and writing by its very nature is solitary and I isolate too much. I have to stop that to get better for my own recovery.

 I'm going to try. I may fail but then I may succeede. I don't know. All I know is I cannot take another bout of depression like I just went through. Something tells me I won't survive it the next time.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I'm still here

I'm still here. I never thought I would be away for almost four months and I apologize.

I have a lot to write about, if I can find the words. Suffice it to say it was the worst depression I've ever had, though I've said that about most of the depressions I have had lately. This one started in August and continued to get worse and I did not want to burden Anyone by how bad it was getting.

Then one night the cat knocked the laptop over and broke it. I have not replaced it; I am torn between getting another MacBook or a iMac. Right now I am on an iPad.

I just haven't been on the computer as I said I pretty much just stayed in bed. I have a lot of work to do on the blog, I've lost hyper links and its difficult to blog or update Facebook on the iPad.

The latest blow was three weeks ago when I found out not only does kitty have thyroid problems but also some kidney ones. For now she's happy and healthy but she's on a special diet and gets shots from the vet.

Please bear with me I just need to figure out how much to say and how to use the iPad.

Why We Love Cats (Infographic)

Why Do We Love Cats So Much?
Image source: www.bestsociologyprograms.com

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Why I Hate New Year's Eve

This is my most popular post. Nothing has changed in the time I've written it. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, my least favorite night of the year.

The best way I know how to cope with it is to go to sleep around 9 pm so when I wake up around 3 am it's over.

In most ways, 2012 has been the worst year of my adult life. For once, I am glad to see a year go. I hope and wish a great 2013 for all who come by here.

Here is my post on why I hate New Years Eve, from last year. 

-Susan


Monday, December 24, 2012

Trying not to be a Grinchette


I'm here. If I said the last few months, if not this last year has been horrible, I don't know if too many people would believe me. 
It has been impossible to write. I stay in bed most of the day because that is all I can do. I've wanted to write and I try, but I didn't. My brain seemed broken, and even worse, when I was able to write a few words, for my blog, they seemed hollow, empty and meaningless. I didn't want to upset anyone. 
This blog, which has always been my baby, the thing that got me out of bed and gave me a reason to live, was withering, I just couldn't function. I'm sorry. 
I have a new psychiatrist. I saw him earlier this month, and he did an evaluation. My axis V is a number between 10-15. I'm barely functioning right now. 
Thank you for the emails and comments. I can't tell you how much they mean to me, all the times where I was falling and drowning, they saved me. 
I'm still here and the blog is still active, even if I am not. Best wishes for a very happy holiday, and let's hope the new year is better. 
A video with love from me, and from Holly. Kittens make everything better. 





Monday, December 17, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Touching Base

Hello

I'm still here. Been battling a very bad depression, couldn't get out of the bed, couldn't write, didn't want to burden anyone with how bad it was going.

There was a lot of talk about hospitalization, and a medication that would not cause any more damage to my body but in the long run, I just totally cut the cord with the computer not wanting to upset anyone how bad things were going.

They are at the moment looking up and getting better. I had been working on a piece to post in the next day or two- it's taking longer to write now that I've lost my groove

and now I am dealing with the fact Hurricane Sandy is approaching so I don't know when I will be back on line.

This blog isn't dead. I'm not dead. The cat isn't dead.


I want to get back to blogging full time. Bare with me. I'll be back as soon as I can.

Susan.


Monday, September 10, 2012

World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, 2012

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Almost every site I have seen have places to call if you are feeling suicidal, and lots of history and statistics of suicide. Some bloggers are adamant that suicide can be prevented. Some aren't. A few sites, eager to show that the blogger has a very good education, spew out facts from Durkheim, and go into 21st century stats.

Here's the honest truth. Most suicides can be prevented. Most suicidal behavior, if taken over that hump when a person is suicidal, leads to the person being glad the next day they are still alive. I've met several people in real life who are grateful their attempt(s) failed. I've met people who as they were swallowing pills ended up calling 911 because they changed their mind.

Then I've met people, including myself, who were upset they failed. They can't figure out what went wrong, every detail was planned to the Nth degree, and something caused it to go wrong.

How do you prevent a suicide? The best method is to listen to the person and do not judge. President Abraham Lincoln went through such a bad, suicidal patch in his life, his friends didn't leave him alone. It obviously worked, and he went on to be one of the best American Presidents.

Four years ago I wrote about a friend of mine, Kevin Greim, who suicided on Sept 14, 2008 in a most gruesome manner that still gives me nightmares. Out of all the pieces I have ever written in my life, I am the most proud of this one. Kevin was more than a statistic of two suicides that died in Mercer County NJ that weekend. He was a real live person, with the most beautiful aura I've ever seen. A person who totally gave of himself, was always there if you needed to talk and meant so much to so many people at my old support group. Yet since his suicide, I've learned he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, dealing with several problems, that if only he had discussed with his friends, he might not have died. If only he opened up.....

I think about Kevin every day. Kevin loved cars and when I see something cool on the road, I want to pick up my phone, snap a picture of it and send it to him. Only I can't. His friends, still are haunted by his death. One of them never got over it and his life took a turn for the worse.

Then there's the guilt. We all have it. Everyone who was at his memorial service and funeral has it .If only he had talked to me. I remember several of us looking at the urn his ashes were in, crying so hard we had to leave the funeral parlor. Standing outside in the cool Indian Summer with snot rockets coming out of our noses from crying to hard ,and all thinking or saying "Why didn't he call me"?

Some have moved on, as you do with life. Some have on the outside but, like me, are haunted in dreams of what must have been the last milliseconds of his life.

Here's what I want someone who finds this piece to take away.

I get you are hurting.

I understand you feel it won't go away. 

I understand your life has gone to s**t because of drinking, drugging, job loss, or love. 

I understand how you feel helpless and feel that if you were dead you wouldn't be in pain.

BUT

Have you really thought about the people you would leave behind? Yes, in your convoluted thinking, you feel they would be better but they won't. They will feel like they had the hearts ripped out and will miss you every day of their lives. They will hate you sometimes for leaving them, and other times they will miss you so much it will feel like Atlas holding up the weight of all the world. Only instead of holding the earth, they are holding up a broken heart that will never heal. If your friends and family are lucky, they won't go through divorces, or drug use or other ways to make themselves feel better. Ways that don't work and only make things worse in the long run.

One of my favorite movies of all time is "It's A Wonderful Life". At my lowest, most suicidal, I've wondered where my Clarence angel is. One night in my early twenties I got down on my knees and prayed for the entire night until that feeling passed.

All I can tell you is this. Yes there are 7 billion people on the earth right now. There is a reason that you were created. Call it because of G-d, a Higher Power, or just two people having too much to drink on a Saturday night. There is a reason, a mission you have with your life. You don't know it. You probably won't until you are on your death bed.

As bad as things are right now, remember Suicide is not painless. You can take or leave it if you please. It's my hope for all who read this, to please leave it. The only time suicide is painless is in a theme song from one of the best television series ever.

My piece on Kevin is here. 



Sunday, September 2, 2012

High Dives and un fluffy pillows

I'm deathly afraid of heights. One nightmare that keeps playing over and over in my head is a true account, yet I am dreaming about it almost nightly. Growing up my sister and I were very close to a neighbor, one of the nicest widows you would ever want to meet. She was considered family.

In the summertime she joined the local swim club and my sister and I would go with her for the afternoon. It was a treat. My sister was fearless. She was also athletic. She climbed up to the high dive and jumped. I preferred the low dive or even better, just reading a book under the shade of a tree. (And you want to know why the kids thought you were strange? Could that be it?)

One day I was double dog dared to jump off the high dive by my sister. So I did. Or tried to. I went up it, no problem. It wasn't until I was looking down, I suffered my first attack of vertigo. I turned around as if to climb back down, but there was a whole line of kids waiting to jump in that cool water. I had to. It was the scariest thing I have ever did with my life.

In a lot of ways it still is.

The last six years of my life, I have been paralyzed with fear as I look down on the pool. I can't jump, I can't go down. I'm just on the high dive scared as if death was near. Frozen. I'm not making any progress, but I am not failing. I just am stagnant. I just am breathing, but I am not living.

I am paralyzed.

Let's put it in another way. I'm stuck in my life. I'm not happy where I am right now. I know what to do to fix it but I can't take the first steps. Once again, I am cursed with a depression so severe I can barely get out of bed to do anything but use the toilet or feed the cat. I just don't see a point to get out of the bed.

Through my blinds I can see some of the children that live in the apartment complex playing a make-shift game of soccer in the parking lot. They are laughing and smiling as they chase the black and white ball, happy that school hasn't started, happy to be alive.

I lie in bed, surrounded by un-fluffed pillows and wish I was that eager. Wish I was that happy. I haven't been. Not in almost a decade. Let's face it. The last six years, I am not even living. I am existing. It's my heart that's beating because the primal brain is telling it to beat, my lungs are breathing because my brain is telling them to do that. Every day when I go to sleep I wish I could die in my sleep. Of course I don't. I don't have the energy to do anything other than stay in bed and sleep.

Was this the reason I developed agoraphobia? Did the depression transmogrify to something more serious?

I should know better. I'm too old for all this nonsense. Still I cannot move. I can't leave the apartment. I don't want to leave the bed.

I want nothing more to have the good fairy wave her wand and i will be cured. i can get out of bed, and go back to the land of the living.

Good fairies don't exist. I can't get better like that. I got to do the work. I have the tools, I know the steps.

I just can't get out of bed.

Today is my birthday. It's the birthday I've been dreading for the last month or so. All I know is I can't have another six years of existing not living. I need to start living, or if I can't get off the proverbial pot, I will start dying.

I just hope this birthday year things will get better. I'm sick and tired of waiting on the high dive to find the courage to jump. I have to find the courage or someone has to push me.


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