Friday, December 30, 2011

I Truly Hate New Year's Eve

Nothing has changed in the ten years since I wrote this blog's most popular post, why I hate New Year's Eve. 

It's one of my most favorite pieces I ever wrote. That said, nothing but nothing has changed. I hate New Year's Eve more than anything. More than Brussels Sprouts. More than having a mammogram. I'd rather have a root canal than celebrate it.

Nothing but nothing in my book is as bad as New Year's.

Let's put this on a psychiatrist's couch and figure out why I hate this holiday so much.

Oh it's easy. First of all I was conceived sometime between New Years Eve and New Years Day. I would love to say my conception was like Tristian Shandy's but, it was a 12 year old girl in the back of a VW Bug. Do I hate my birth mother? Not really. She gave me life when she could have easily chose to not do it, and she gave me up for adoption when she could have kept me. By giving me up for adoption, despite 7-8 months in the system in an abusive foster home, I got the Best parents in the world to adopt me.

What scares me is what I learned about my birth mother. Now, when I was adopted, the state of New York had the records sealed. To this day, I do not know her name, or anything about her other than she too had blonde hair and blue eyes. And that she was 12. I wish I knew my nationality, where my ancestors  came from. All I was told it was either France and/or Ireland.

All I have seen are the notes the social worker took on her, her parents and her siblings.

Like Oedipus, I should have never investigate my past. Like Oedipus said,

Burst out what will, I seek to know my birth, Low though it be, and she perhaps is shamed (For, like a woman, she is proud of heart)         At thoughts of my low birth; but I, who count Myself the child of Fortune, fear no shame. My mother she, and she has prospered me. And so the months that span my life have made me         Both high and low; but whatsoe’er I be, Such as I am I am, and needs must on To fathom all the secret of my birth.  

Well, we all know what happened to Oedipus. What happened to Susan is this- she learned that the people who make up her biological family, assorted aunts, uncles and grandparents and cousins didn't fare well. Two of her grandparents suicided. Several aunts and uncles also were listed as suicides. Two relatives, were lobotomized in the mid 1950's and early 60's. 
The rest of the lot were labeled, "high strung", "hebephrenic schizophrenia", and "alcoholic". Only my birth mother, due to her age, escaped any labels. 

For those who know my back story, I had a meeting planned with the adoption agency, located in Manhattan, on September 11, 2001, to look at these records. I got a call at work on September 10, from the woman I was supposed to meet. Something came up, can we reschedule for September 17?  It's one of those serendipitous events that if I had been in the city, that day, I would have been right there to see the Towers fall. 

I didn't see the towers fall, but I saw my life crumble. How do you feel when you see that a majority of your biological family died by their own hand? That almost everyone suffered from alcoholism? And to top it off, there were two, count em. two lobotomies given. If mental illness turns out to be hereditary, I could be the poster child for it. 

Flowers know to bend with the wind and the rain. Those who don't break. I didn't bend. It took a year to break, but I broke- and wound up in the hospital for 30 days and getting ECT. It's all here in my blog, nothing new. The ECT ruined my life, destroyed my brain, wiped out memories and knocked my IQ down at least 25 points. 

This is all fine, but I digress. New Years Eve. You turn on the TV, you see Dick Clark, older than an old thing that is quite old, and the people in Times Square. Couples. The few times I have gone to a local diner for a meal, it's all couples. The singles sit at the counter, eyeing the couples, and feeling like misfit's from Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks" painting. Loneliness personified. 

Some people don't mind being alone. Most of the time, I don't mind being alone either. But throw in seeing couples and let;s face it, "Happy couples are all alike", with apologies to Tolstoy. The loneliness cuts through you this day like a knife, it's more than sex. I have a little toy in my night table, it's a single girl's best friend. It's the desire to have someone to hold you, to cuddle, to hold a hand. To feel their breath on your cheek. To make you feel alive. 

Instead you feel dead, hollow, almost destroyed. Drinking your way until you pass out would be lovely, but I can't give up my sobriety. It's the time where I wish I had a gun, anything to stop the psychological pain and angst. I've always had neighbors in every apartment I've lived in, and I can hear them. It's sad. You can block it out by turning on the stereo, but overall, it makes you feel like you are in an old "Twilight Zone" episode where you are the last person on this Earth. 

I've tried to improve this situation. I've done volunteer work on two New Years Eves in the past 5 years. It was nice, but the rub is I was always home by 9pm. So it's that cursed midnight Times Square ball dropping that is the bane of my existence. 

So here it is December 30, and I am panicking. I have a few movies I've rented from Redbox. I bought popcorn. My Snuggie and bunny slippers are clean. It's no escaping, it's tomorrow night and I am screwed. 

The only thing going this year is maybe the Mayans were right. Maybe the world will end next year, and I will never have to go through this by myself. 

Don't get me wrong. I am happy for those with partners. I'm just saying, the pure definition of loneliness, is New Years Eve. I wish there was a wish that no one would be alone on this day. That everyone would have someone. That this horrible feeling would never be felt again.It's one of the most horrible feelings in the world. 

I hope 2012 is a better year for everyone. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Depression is a four letter word.

 from Bitter Animator
Sometimes I think I must have come from another planet. I don't get people. Or rather- people don't get me.

For example. On the phone with my best friend last night. I am telling him I had two real good days last week. Bought a new winter coat, since I don't have one in my size, some underwear and a killer pair of shoes. All from Santa! (He came early this year). I was very happy.

Energy came back and I did a thorough clean of the apartment. Had the car washed and waxed. Just felt alive. Even managed to get to the gym and had a nice workout.

The next day, I crashed. Big time crash. I couldn't get out of bed. The cat had to bite me hard, drawing blood so I would get out of bed and feed her. I did and crawled back to bed. I could hear my upstairs neighbor moving around. It sounded like an elephant walking, but I know it wasn't. I just put the pillow over my head, wishing for a split second I could wind up like Desdemona, but instead, just tried to sleep.

I slept round the clock for two straight days, getting up only to feed the cat, change her box, and use the toilet. I had a talk radio station on for white noise. All they are talking about is the election which is a year away. Sigh.

When I tried to tell my friend, he couldn't understand. "You should have gone for a walk, instead of laying in bed", he said. When I got in touch with my mother, she replied "Are you sick?"

"No", I replied, "Not physically sick. Sick in my heart, in my soul".

"You are being stupid. Go for a walk. Go shopping. Go to the gym. Quit crying, or I will give you something to cry about", (she didn't say the last thing, but you know mothers, she was probably thinking it).

"Mom", I said both to my mother and to my friend. "Try to live in my shoes for once".

It's strange, normally I don't get depressed this time of year. Spring and summer are my worst times. I love this time of year, holidays. I love Santa, I love driving around to look at the trees. I love the parties. The only thing I don't like is the fruitcake.

Then there's New Years. A holiday that should be wiped off the calendar if you are single and cannot get a date. Nothing to celebrate, go out to a diner or Denny's for a meal, go home, rent a movie from Redbox, and snuggle on the couch under an afghan made by Grandma. Then right before midnight, turn on Dick Clark, see the countdown in Times Square. Laugh at the poor folks freezing who are there, while you are snug as a bug and warm on your couch.

Then midnight. No one to kiss, even the cat has fallen asleep. You take the afghan off, lay it on top of the sleeping cat, go to bed and cry yourself to sleep.

In my 20's I would have gone partying and clubbing. By the time I was 30 I was tired of warn out pick up lines and guys spilling beer on my clothes because the club was too crowded. Then I stopped drinking, I don't go to places like that anymore. Living in Suburbia, there aren't any other  places to go.

The next day, New Years Eve, you go to a friend's or a relative's house and watch football. And count the days til Valentine's, while your local store has left over chocolate from Christmas, and new chocolate for Valentine's and Easter up.

The older you get, the faster the holidays go by. It's one of those weird laws of Physics you know exists, but you really can't prove.

That isn't a bad thing. The older you get, the more you appreciate the smaller things, like remembering the simple pleasure of waking up one morning and finding it's snowed and there is no school. Running outside, sledding on a wooden Flexible Flyer, coming in and mom having real hot chocolate and home made chocolate chip cookies, with the chocolate melting.

The trick of being an adult is to remember that exact moment, how great it was not to go to school, the sheer joy of being alive when you felt snow and rolled around in it, and how happy warm gooey chocolate can make you feel.

A bit of happiness. A small burst. A giggle, a smile. That's what it's all about. Remembering this little moment, can do a lot for depression.

If only cookies weren't fattening.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holly the cat on holidays and writing for the TWIM blog

Meow. Yes, it's me. My human, Susan is reading on the couch, so I thought I would get on line and say "Meowry Christmas" to all my friends on the computer.

Personally, it was a frustrating year for me. I did not become a LOL cat. I did not meet Maru. I did get cans of Fancy Feast though, and much love from my human and her friends on line. So maybe next year I can become a LOL cat. And meet Maru. He's a boy cat you know!

I am what you might call a "therapy cat". Yes, there are therapy dogs, but I keep my human alive and moving. So I am a therapy cat. And she loves me- except when she has to clean my litter box.

My human is doing a bit better than the last entry, but, well, she's sad. She loves this time of year, but she is lonely. I don't understand, but then, I had six kittens, all who went to good homes. And then I got spayed. Mom hasn't gotten that yet. Maybe she would feel better if she had it done. I think they do it for humans. I don't know.

This is my favorite time of the year. For those who don't know my back story, I was adopted from a shelter that was planning on putting me to sleep on December 23 many years ago. It was a long time in kitty years, but Mom says it was only 2000. I was heavy with kitten. A very nice lady rescued me, and I went to live with her until I could find a furever home. The problem was- I didn't get along with the other kitties in the foster home, and I didn't place well when they had open houses to adopt the kitties. My kittens were adopted as soon as they were weaned. The other cats in the foster house came and went like wraiths. But no one wanted me. Until my mom adopted me. She needed me, I needed her. She is my best friend and I am hers. We have been together for almost ten years.

I keep my human sane. She is a really nice person for someone who is not a cat. That means I feel sad for her, she doesn't have a tail, she can't rotate her ears, she cannot purr. She doesn't know the sheer joy of having the sunshine on your tummy fur.

It's been a rough year for her. She lost the function of her kidneys last year, according to the doctor they are working ok, but every now and then they "hiccup" and things shut down for a bit .But she is ok. She's having some other health issues, and I know she is in a lot of pain but I think she is doing better. She just passed the one year point being off all psychiatric meds. The only thing we have in the house that alters brain chemistry is catnip.
That's mine!

Mom is doing well with her psychiatrist, but she still hasn't found a therapist. I've been serving as one, but frankly, I fall asleep after a minute or two. I am a cat. I have the attention span of a butterfly. Speaking of butterflies.....

Oh yes. Therapy. Cat's don't need therapy. We would nap on the couch. If the doctor showed us Rorshacks everything would look like birdies, squirrels or tuna. Maybe a ball of yarn. A catnip mousie.

This picture is copyrighted and I don't know how to remove it, but thank you to the photographer

Silly isn't it? Like I said, cats don't get depressed. Unless we think of all the other cats in the world who need homes that are in shelters.

I am grateful my mom did not die last year, that she still is with me. That she lets me snuggle every night with her in the large bed with my stuffed panda bear.

Now for the first time in a while mom is sad. She isn't depressed, she says she just feels out of sorts. Not physically sick. Just sad. Lonely. She has me, she shouldn't be lonely. But I think it's more than that. I think mom is starting to feel her age, and worry about the future. I know she is upset when she thinks of money. Money is nice, it buys me kibble, tuna, and other nice things. A scratching post.

She goes out to run errands and one day gets a lot of things done. Then she sleeps for two days, afraid to leave the apartment. If I didn't wake her by doing the "I am hungry" dance, she might not feed me or water me. She stays in bed, listening to talk radio as white noise. She likes this one station called Coast to Coast that she's been listening for years, but found a station on the internet that broadcasts it 24/7 so she listens to that. I like it too. I wonder if the announcer knows that he has a cat who likes listening to him.

All and all we are doing fine. Mom is  cleaning once a week. She still forgets to shower everyday but she does it every other .She is getting out, which is good for her agoraphobia. It's hard for her, I know. She's always been a homebody and to her nothing is better than reading a book or watching TV with me by her side on the big couch. 

I know writing is hard for her, so I recently wrote a piece that showed up for the Twim blog. It was fun, so many blogs to read. So many bloggers who have cats, dogs or both. If you aren't familiar with Twim, it's done by a group of people in the UK. Most of the blogs are from the UK, and both Susan and I are honored to be the first Americans/Americats to write for them.Right now they are having a vote for best blogs. I wish they had a "cutest cat" blogger category. There are some really good ones there to vote for.

 This is something that mom would like- for the bloggers in all the countries to unite and help each other more. We are all going through the same experiences and maybe we can all help each other by sharing what we've learned on this road we are all traveling together. 

I will tell you what I have learned. I am blessed to have a human, and I wish that all the shelter dogs and cats can find furever homes too. 

Happy Holidays from Susan and me-ow. I hope next year is a better year for everyone, and that Santa Paws brings you happiness. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rain-outside and in my heart

I'm so tired I can't keep my eyes open, despite the three cups of coffee I had prior to getting in the car and being taken to my psychiatrist. All I can think about now, as I wait in her waiting room is how my bladder is filling.

A very tall, handsome man comes in with a briefcase and a laptop. He sits down next to my mother and I, says hello, and opens the briefcase. I can see samples of Abilify. Ah! A Bristol Myers salesman! Not unexpected, I am just a few miles or so from BM US headquarters, as the crow flies.

Eventually, the doc comes out of her office, and ushers me inside. Everything is turned around, the couch is on another wall, and the chairs are facing a different direction. It turns me around, I do not like it. It's like the Feng Shui in the room is totally messed up by moving the chairs and couch around to different sides. I tell her I don't like it, and she says it was done by the person she shares an office with. Every time she moves them back, the next day they are in this pattern. I sense she is frustrated.

We talk a little small talk. I have 10 minutes total. One and a half minutes to small talk. One minute at the end  to pay, get a receipt and make the next appointment. Seven and a half to  Eight minutes for everything else.

The small talk comes easy. As a whole, I like my psychiatrist. She's about my age, the mother of a teenager and a pre teenager. She's a little smaller than me- I'm 5 feet tall, and she is 4 feet 10 inches. We both complain about our short stature and problems it entails. It's like we share one common bond.

It's really the only other thing we have in common.  She asks me the standard questions, I answer. She tells me flat out she thinks I should be in the hospital- I'm non compos mentis. My foggy brain kick starts- something lights up the gray cells and I hear myself saying "No. I've been in the hospital twice during the month of December. They are very short staffed. I don't want to go in now. Let's wait."

She's not sure. She asks me to consider going to this address (Robert Wood Johnson) and going inpatient. I've never heard of this hospital, I've always gone to Princeton House. i tell her there is no way I would ever go back as an impatient to Princeton House. She suggests Carrier. I don't know about this one, but I do know they let you keep stuffed animals with you.

I tell her I cannot go in, I need someone to take care of the cat. I can't afford to send her to the cattery, and I have no one to take care of her. I need someone to collect my mail. It won't work. No. I have a friend who can house sit for me, and cat sit, but he is over 200 miles away. I have to give him notice to get him to visit. Meanwhile...

She raises up out of the chair, and goes to get my mother. She tells my mother flat out I should be in the hospital, and gives her a piece of paper with a number written on it. I tell my mother, in FRONT of my doctor, do not ever call that number, the police will come and it will be involuntary. I won't go in involuntary- my insurance will automatically throw me out after two weeks and I am off to Trenton Psych. Please Don't. Call.

A compromise is worked out. I should get into the Princeton House IOP program- ASAP. And I shall see her once a week until I can get in.

When we are finished, mom takes me to the Omega Diner for lunch. Bless NJ for being the land of the diners. No Waffle Houses, but we have diners. I can't eat. I have a huge whole in my heart, my stomach is in agony. I drink some coffee, and a few spoonfuls of soup. I try not to cry.

"Mom, I don't want to be in any more hospitals , ever. Please promise you won't call that number."

She promises, but I wonder. I tell her how I am trying. I try to get dressed every day in clean clothes, shower. Some days that is pretty much all I can do. Some days I can do a bit more- the agoraphobia abates and I can leave my apartment. Go shopping. Go do things. Be around people. Other days I am so ... if I leave my bed, it's to use the toilet and feed the kitty.

I try to tell her my problems with out patient therapy- I've had as much if not more education than the therapists, and I know what they are doing. I've had the same courses. People might get better from these things, but I know too much about them. It's futile. This is why doctors make the worst patients. I even tell both psychiatrist and my mom I am seriously thinking of auditing a  psych class at the university to see if I could get a MSW or a PhD. Let's see if my brain can do it. I tell both of them I want to help other people who have been in my shoes, if I can get my stuff together, I can help others; be a better advocate.

It's just- well, I don't know. Futile. I'm doing the best I can.

For the last three days it's been raining. The mail carrier drops off my mail and forgets to shut the lid. Magazines and letters are destroyed from water. My cat is bored because the squirrels are not playing outside. She sleeps a bit more than normal. I can relate. I feel like sleeping more too. It's a Herculean effort to stay awake with the med cocktail I am on. No psych meds, just other meds to deal with the side effects brought on from the psych drugs.

In analyzing Literature, rain is the sign of renewal, rebirth. In analyzing art, it's the total opposite. Depression. It makes no sense to me. It's almost bipolar in it's reasoning, or is it like Ying and Yang? I can't decide. I don't know.

I don't know what I am anymore. It's very complicated. All I know is it's like the line from Robert Frost- I have miles to go before I sleep. I have miles of things to ponder and try to overcome before I go to sleep.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Psych Drugs and Foster Kids- Part Two and Three

Again, last night, (December 1, 2011) Diane Saywer presented part two of her news report on foster children and psychological drugs. (ETA: Part three added after this post was published, and aired December 2,).

Gianna Kali brings up one very good point in her blog. 

And of course this is exactly true and people like Jim Gottstein and the organization PsychRights has worked at passing legislation that might protect children. Given that medicare/medicaid is not supposed to cover medications uses that are off-label, the argument has been made that reimbursement is fraud. We have a ways to go.

So does Bob Fiddaman-
Senators and congressmen take note: The root of this problem is The Diagnostic and Senators and congressmen take note: The root of this problem is The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM]. Once you see how utterly ridiculous the "illnesses" are, you will be able to understand why tax payers are being ripped off at the expense of the welfare and safety of children. You want to eradicate the problem, then go to the root cause and ask the authors of the DSM for scientific proof. It's a manual that is basically a licence to print money for the pharmaceutical industry.

Children deserve a childhood. They don't deserve this, foster children or not. If children are our future, lets make their future bright. Give them love, tell them they are important, they matter.

For the record, I was adopted from a foster home when I was 8 months old. I have the best mom and dad a child could want. Yes, I did not always get the best toys, but I got lots of love, and my parents paid a lot of attention to both my sister and I. I think we turned out OK. My sister is a beautiful girl, very successful in her career. Both of my parents children are highly educated because this is what they wanted us to have- what they didn't. A college/uni degree.

I have been having nightmares over this issue for the last two days- I will not write about my foster home now- it's not salient. But I know this much. I most likely would have been one of those babies given drugs to keep me quiet and sleep.

Part Three airs tonight.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Psych Drugs and Foster Kids-ABC News November 30,2011

Diane Sawyer reports on ABC  Nightly News  on the effect of psych drugs given to children in foster care.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The urge to take the blue pill

There's this thin blonde with long legs and an incredibly short mini skirt, five inch black Manolo's, and a Channel bag. The kind of woman that when ever she enters the room every eye turns on her, both male and female. The females all hate her because her clothes and her makeup and hair are impeccable. The men all want - well duh! (This is a G rated blog!)

The tall, dark, handsome, man comes up to her and offers her a drink. She takes it in her perfectly manicured hands. They lock eyes and make small talk. "I'm Elmer T. Fudd, Millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht." 


It's seven am, my alarm clock interrupts my reverie. It's just as well, my beautiful dream was unfolding- what the heck? Elmer Fudd? 

Only in my dreams do I feel pretty and look the way I want to be. Thin and tall. With long legs, like a Rockette's. Men notice me, something that doesn't happen often. Since adolescence I've been cursed with always being the "cute, quirky best friend" of the female protagonist in all the chick lit books and movies. It's fine when you are in your twenties, but when you get older- you want something a bit more. To be top banana. Just once. 

I'm going more and more into dream world. It's safe there. I can be anything I want to be. The world is perfect. There aren't 7 million people crammed together on one planet, it's just me, my Prince Charming, a library in the castle, and of course, some cats and dogs. Everything is beautiful, and nobody gets hurt. 

I don't want to wake. 

I really hate my life right now. Hmm. Hate is a harsh word, let's restate. I dislike my life right now. I miss working, I miss being around people. I'm tired of being tired from the kidney meds and other meds I am on. I'm sleeping 16 hours a day. My brain feels like split pea soup. 

I  can't see a way out of my morass, despite the things I am trying to do to stay out of it. I am getting dressed every day. I do the little hygiene things, brush teeth, brush hair. Remember to shower every day, and wash hair every second. Under normal circumstances, these things make me feel better. Now they don't. I even go to an old standby- a long bath, and a scented candle. Nothing. 

Even a self manicure doesn't ameliorate, despite a beautiful new shade of polish. 

I don't have the energy to go to the gym, but I try to walk. My feet are like lead- I can barely move them. There is nothing physically wrong with them, it takes more energy to move them than I have. Something flickers in my mind- High School chemistry, energy required to move an inanimate object. 

I'm not comfortable being around people anymore. It takes too much effort to do something like smile. The art of desultory conversation is lost. I just want to be invisible. I long for my childhood dreams of being invisible and flying. I hate New Jersey. I can fly anywhere to get out of this hell, despite the fact I have an incredible fear of heights. Somehow in my flying dreams, this is not an issue. 

I know it's depression oriented. I know as I am getting older, my depressive episodes are getting worse and worse, each one a bit more lethal while I am under it. Mania hardly ever comes anymore, my last bit of mania was in February. I despair thinking that each episode will get worse. No silver lining. At least I have my dreams. 

I walk back from the supermarket across the street. Kitty food, and a Subway for dinner. It should be good, I have not eaten in over 24 hours. I feed the cat, change her box, give her some love, and some play. Put the sandwich in the fridge, I'm not that hungry, really. It will keep. I put my pj's back on, tie my hair up in a scrunchie, brush my teeth, wash my face. Back to bed. The sheets feel glorious. The electric blanket gets turned on. I turn out the light, and lie on my back, looking at the sun reflecting on the falling leaves from the bedroom window. The cat comes in and burrows next to me, her breath smelling like Fancy Feast fish. It's a little bit of heaven. I'm still blue, but I'm near dream land. And in my dreams I can be anything or anyone I want to be. It's not the right decision, but for now, it's the only one I want to make. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Update again on Alison - partial victory?

This entry is guest-written by Adinah Caro-Greene

On Friday, Alison had a neurosurgical consult.  She actually has two aneurysms, and they are going to operate.  Of course, this is very scary, but on the other hand, it feels like a partial victory that they are even treating her medical problems at all.  Thank you all for your calls.

The hospital still refuses to communicate with me.  They just don't call me back at all.  I speak with Alison every day, and today, she said the staff took her food away.  She wants people to call her human rights advocate, Mark Seymour, 540-332-2149 and ask why her food is being taken away, and why she isn't treated humanely.  Mark Seymour has never picked up the phone for me, and never returned my messages.  So many dog-and-pony shows in the mental illness industry.

They will not let Alison sign a medical release, because her brother has her psychiatric POA, and her "friend" has her medical one.  Yet, neither the brother, nor the friend, attend any appointments with her, or even call or write with any frequency.  This is a nightmare.  What good is a POA if they just give doctors carte blanche and don't put any time or effort into respecting people's wishes? My next step, once I get Alison's consent, is going to be to try to have the court remove them, for gross negligence.

If we cannot get the brother or the friend to relinquish POA and appoint others who would respect Alison's autonomy, we may need to turn this into a media blitz, like the Shiavo story.  The normal routes are not going to work, and this kind of treatment needs to be stopped.  Not just for Alison, but for all of us who are psychiatrized, and even those of us who are not yet psychiatrized.  We may have won a small victory, but we haven't won the war.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Action Alert: Petition for Mental Health Systems Rights Advocate Alison Hymes

Western State Hospital, Virginia

Alison Hymes has been a strong advocate for human rights in the mental health system.  She now faces the fight of her life.  Please take a moment to read the following petition and add your signature.
Dr. Jack Barber, Western State Hospital, Virginia: Safely Treat Alison Hymes’ Brain Aneurysm, Kidney Damage
Woman in psychiatric hospital now suffers a brain aneurysm, is left untreated and neglected, to face death.
A Virginia woman was locked in irons and chains in August, and driven by state police to Western State Hospital, even though she is accused of no crime. A judge ruled then that Alison Hymes may be committed to the state hospital, citing a lack of insight regarding the amount of water she was drinking.
Doctors placed severe restrictions on her food and water and are treating her kidney disorder as a psychiatric condition.
Alison had a kidney transplant three years ago, after lithium toxicity caused renal failure. Psychiatrists refused to treat her kidney problems, and compounded the issue by prescribing Trilafon, a drug that has clear warnings about dangers to renal function. As a result, she has been having difficulty swallowing and has become physically weak.
A friend and advocate had a chilling prediction that may now prove to be true. “At best, Alison won’t receive any real medical care for her kidney problems,” said Tina, a friend of Alison’s and psychiatric advocate in New York said in August. “At worst, I know there is a very real probability that this confinement and lack of medical care will kill her.”
NOW it is even more urgent. A brain aneurysm has been discovered, and Alison still sits in a psychiatric ward. Her brain aneurysm could well be causing all of her psychiatric symptoms. If the aneurysm bursts, Hymes will suffer a stroke, and ALL of the psychiatric medications Alison is being given, cause an INCREASED RISK OF STROKE. Yet, Alison has been told that her brain aneurysm will not be treated. This is now a matter of life and death, for a woman with disability, perpetuated and caused by an institution that poses to help.
Her case highlights the failure of the Virginia medical system by continuing to ignore legitimate health problems and trying to mask them with psychiatric drugs that worsen her health and hasten her death.

My note: If it seems like I am blogging a lot about Alison Hymes in the last few days, the reason is this. What is happening to her, could happen to anyone. There are a few things in life that really frosts my cupcakes, people who abuse animals, children, or seniors. And people who abuse or take advantage of other people. If anyone I know needs help, I want to help, as much as I can. I hope among hope, that Alison can be out and in a safe place for Thanksgiving. Alison has spent a good part of her life advocating for others. Now she needs help. I would do this willingly for anyone who is a friend or family, and that includes those who follow this blog. Thank you. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Next Action Step

This post is guest-written by Adinah Caro-Greene

Alison Hymes, who I wrote about a couple days ago, is having a CAT scan at UVA hospital today.  UVA is the same hospital which nearly killed Alison after they put her on psych drugs after a kidney transplant (when psychiatry destroyed her kidneys and bladder with longterm Lithium use).  The CAT scan is going to monitor the brain aueurysm.  Supposedly, Alison's aneurysm is too small to operate on.  However, WE STILL NEED to ask the doctors at Western State to take her OFF of the psych drugs which cause strokes. 

Alison's treating psychiatrist, Dr. Ann E. Walling has decided that Alison has signs of dementia.  This is patently false. When Alison is not on psychiatric drugs, she sounds sharp as a tack.  When on them, she does sound "out of it".  The logical thing to do, would be to help her taper off, right?  Well, this is psychiatry we're talking about.  Now her doctor wants to add Aricept to Alison's regimen.  Aricept is an Alzheimer's drug.  Fantastic, another drug for her weak system to process.

We still need people to call Jack Barber at:
540-332-8000 (switchboard) and demand why Alison's medical needs aren't being strongly considered.  She should be slowly tapered off the drugs, which she does not want to take, to reduce the risk of the aneurysm bursting and causing stroke.

We need people to CALL Mark Seymour, Alison's Human Rights Advocate at Western State.  His number is 540.332-2149.  Ask why her doctors are refusing to let her sign a medical release for the hospital to talk directly with Alison's friend and advocate, Adinah Caro-Greene.  Insist that Alison be supported to sign that release.  Without the release, Alison's help is seriously blockaded.

This is a major issue.  Those of us with labels, if we're lucky, are going to age.  We are going to have a time when we need real, actual medical help.  This discrimination against the psychiatrically labeled is a threat to our quality of life.

Please circulate and post everywhere.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Alison Hymes' condition is serious! She now has a brain aneurysm.

The Friends and Supporters of Alison Hymes are reaching out to the media to bring light to her serious, life-threatening circumstances. Ms. Hymes spent years as a therapist and advocate for people with mental health issues, and she herself got caught up in the psychiatric system to her own detriment. We are asking for your assistance in bringing her story to the public in hopes of freeing her from Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia where she has been committed since August 2011. They are ignoring her dire medical needs and refusing to treat her brain aneurysm.

Thank you,

NOVEMBER 1, 2011



Woman in psychiatric hospital now suffers a brain aneurysm, is left untreated and neglected, to face death

A Virginia woman was locked in irons and chains in August, and driven by state police to Western State Hospital, even though she is accused of no crime. A judge ruled then that Alison Hymes may be committed to the state hospital, citing a lack of insight regarding the amount of water she was drinking.

Doctors placed severe restrictions on her food and water and are treating her kidney disorder as a psychiatric condition.

Alison had a kidney transplant three years ago, after lithium toxicity caused renal failure. Psychiatrists refused to treat her kidney problems, and compounded the issue by prescribing Trilafon, a drug that has clear warnings about dangers to renal function. As a result, she has been having difficulty swallowing and has become physically weak.

A friend and advocate had a chilling prediction that may now prove to be true. "At best, Alison won't receive any real medical care for her kidney problems," said Tina, a friend of Alison's and psychiatric advocate in New York said in August. "At worst, I know there is a very real probability that this confinement and lack of medical care will kill her."

NOW it is even more urgent. A brain aneurysm has been discovered, and Alison still sits in a psychiatric ward. Her brain aneurysm could well be causing all of her psychiatric symptoms. If the aneurysm bursts, Hymes will suffer a stroke, and ALL of the psychiatric medications Alison is being given, cause an INCREASED RISK OF STROKE. Yet, Alison has been told that her brain aneurysm will not be treated. This is now a matter of life and death, for a woman with disability, perpetuated and caused by an institution that poses to help.

Her case highlights the failure of the Virginia medical system by continuing to ignore legitimate health problems and trying to mask them with psychiatric drugs that worsen her health and hasten her death.

(My note. Alison is a friend of mine, someone who helped me with my own issues of lithium toxicity and subsequent renal failure. She's an accomplished activist, and blogger.  She's not a faceless, human being out there in cyberspace. She is someone I am happy to know, and call her my friend. No one deserves what is happening to her. No one. Please help. 

Numbers to call:
  • -Call the Western State Hospital Administrator, Dr. Jack Barber, at 540-332-8000. That is the switchboard for Western State.
  • -Ask for Jack Barber’s office. Leave a message with his secretary if he is not available.
  • -Demand to know why Alison’s very real medical brain disease (the aneurysm) is not being dealt with. Tell him we are watching, and we won’t stand for this.
Information is also at Gianna Kali's blog today as well.

IF YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS or QUESTIONS, please contact Adinah Caro-Greene at 510.495.7608.  She is coordinating this campaign.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween! My friend Gianna Kali and I both decided to post this picture on our blogs today to celebrate the holiday and our mutual love of all things that are cat. The link to the Cheezeburger site is here.

My cat, Holly is dressing up for the holiday. Here is a picture of her of what she should look like wearing her costume, but she refuses to wear it. She's either going as one of Freya's kitties, or Flavor Flav. This is not Holly, but a cat named Molly who has been around the interwebs for about 15 years, and is now at TRB. (I apologize to those who thought this was actually Holly. I could never get her to pose that still for anything unless she is sleeping).
On a serious note, please keep your pets inside if they get spooked by the doorbell, and never feed a dog chocolate.

Monday, October 24, 2011

On My 4th Blogging Anniversary

Last week was my blogging anniversary. Four years. Amazing. Four years! I made a little cupcake for myself, and blew out the candle. Then, between bites of decadent chocolate and double chocolate frosting, along with a glass of ice cold milk, I thought about things I have learned since I started blogging. The mistakes I made. In other words, the good, the bad and the ugly.

If I had to do it again, I would have never used my name. I thought by using my real name, Susan, I was ok, because I didn't mention my surname. I kept that hidden and only told a few people I trusted online with it. So far so good. Then I made a mistake. A huge one. On the advise of a fellow blogger who encouraged me to open a Facebook account, I linked my blog to my profile. Only my profile had my name on it. My real surname. I didn't catch it for several months, but by then, the damage was done. Quick readers who followed me onto Facebook now knew my surname. And even though I have a very common name in the NYC Tri-State area, people found me. People I didn't want to find me, like state workers, local hospitals, and local doctors. Not to mention my family. Now it seemed that everyone knew me. Again, I didn't think this was a bad thing, until I quit my psychiatrist that I had since 1999 back in 2007. When I was shopping around for a p-doc, none of the ones I contacted would touch me. Why? Because a quick Google search with my name brought up this blog, and none of them wanted me as a client. I can't say I blame them. But it was a huge error on my part.

Even worse was my candor. When I started blogging, I had several friends, other bloggers who were encouraging me to write my thoughts while I was dealing with a very bad break up. "Write like therapy" they all said in so many different words. "You can really write. Do it".
So I did. I was open and honest. I looked around at other bloggers and noticed one thing. There was a dearth of 40 something bloggers who had been in the system for twenty years or more. More than half their lives! Most of the bloggers seemed to be newly diagnosed, or parents of a child that was diagnosed. Or they were former/active journalists writing objectively on the industry.

I figured I would write that blog- imagine a "Bell Jar" written by a woman in her mid forties who has been living with everything for over twenty years. That was my goal. To some degree, I think I succeeded, and in other words I failed. Some people told me I was such a good writer they found it hard to read me without Cliff notes! Others told me, I was pulling a James Frey on them-I couldn't have lived what I was writing about. No- everything was true- only the names were changed to protect the innocent, as they say in "Dragnet".

I made a mistake in thinking I needed to blog every day, or every other day. When one piece was brilliant, I made a fluff piece if I felt I had to keep up. The fluff pieces hurt me.

I also made a mistake in writing about NJ health issues. They have a place. What I need to do is fix my blog so one part will just be my biographical stories, one part will be on taking care of yourself and healing , and another news stories. I need to make tabs. The way my blog is now- everything is a mis mash. I really need to learn tools to clean it up. So it's not a mistake- it's just something I don't know about and need to fix so I don't confuse readers, or people who stumble in. Right now, when you visit, you don't know if you are going to get a bio piece, or a news piece. It has to be clearer.

I think one of the biggest mistakes I made was with my writing, period. When I first started blogging, I was writing for myself. I didn't know who was reading me. Along the way, I got into thinking- "I gotta have good stats. I have to have a lot of followers. I want to be the best blog out there". It made me loose my focus. I became overwhelmed with stats, and wondering what I should write to please people. There was a mistake. I wasn't writing for myself anymore. All of a sudden, hits disappeared. Comments were few. I didn't know what I was doing. I had lost *me*.

If you are a new blogger, the biggest advise I can give you is don't compare yourself to others. You are unique. So is your blog. Just like there will always be someone who is prettier than you, smarter than you, richer than you, thinner than you- the same rules apply for blogs. There will always be a blog that is better than yours. Do you like your blog? That's all that matters. If you see a layout on someone elses blog, copy it. I would love to have a blog with three columns instead of two, and tabs in the front. I don't know how to do it, but I am willing to learn. Always be willing to learn. A blog is a living thing, a work in progress.

Read other people's blogs. I love reading blogs that are from people I agree with, but the ones I get more from are the ones from people I disagree with. I learn from those.

I'm still learning. I'm still trying to write. It's harder now than when I first started, because in the last year my physical health really took a tumble. I do write, but I carefully edit. I have pages and pages of blog entries, all half written, all not good enough to post. I'm working on quality not quantity right now. I'm trying to get some work as a writer. It doesn't have to pay, I just want to get my chops back and gather a portfolio. Mine is years out of date.

My goal for the next year- keep writing. Keep learning from others. Don't stop. Don't let the little things bother you, and don't compare myself to others. There is only one me. I want to think I am like a fine wine- I am getting better with age.

I look forward to another year with all of you. Thank you to those who regular read me, and those who pop in once, read a few pieces and leave. I am grateful for each and every one of you. I may not be a great correspondent, but you can always reach me, (and the cat) at Hollythecat at Gmail.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rerun:How I am staying alive while my brain is trying to kill me-part two

(This is part two to a piece I wrote back in January 2010. I'm not in this place now, but I have a real bad cold and some problems with my kidney meds, so I thought I would re-run another oldie but a goodie. I repeat-I'm not suicidal. I'm ok.) 

So I am still in the same place as I was when I wrote the earlier piece, but I decided, let me sit down and write a "Bucket List", something to keep me going, things I still want see or do, when my brain clears. I didn't think I could think of anything, but surprisingly, there are a few things I still want to do, and I would like to share them with you...

In no particular order.

1. I would like to believe life can be beautiful again.

2. I would like to know that love exists- and real great sex can exist too. And that I can find a guy who really, really knows how to kiss......

3. I would like to spend New Year's Eve in Times Square.

4. I would like to spend Bloomsday in Dublin.

5. I would like to see London again. I would also like to see York again.

6. I would like to really get my writing groove back so I can get my novel polished and published. By a real publisher, not by a vanity press.

7. I would like to have a house so I can have a dog.

8. I would like to have friends again, and to be a good friend.... that is the important thing.

9. I would like to find Serenity again, and just peace with knowing my brain is different, whether I was born different, or made different with a lifetime of medication- my brain is shattered and damaged, and I just have to be gentle with it an accept it. My problem is I don't accept it, I want to be the girl I was eight years ago before the damage started and I miss that girl and I long to be that girl, the girl who had a job, the girl who had friends....I have to stop mourning, cause if I don't I will be like Queen Victoria who wore black and mourned and spent her whole life in mourning after Albert died. And that isn't living, and I am not in a position where I can have PM's no matter how capable, live my life for me.

10. I am sure there are other things, other places to see, I just cannot think of them right now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rerun:How I Stayed Alive While My Brain Was Trying To Kill Me

(I am working on two writing projects, and going through a blue patch. So I thought it would be time to repost an oldie but a goodie. This is an older piece, I am at present, sleeping seven hours a night, and not in the black place. This was originally written in January 2010)

I am currently on two anti-depressants with black box warnings. And for the last three days, all I can think about is suicide. Namely, just crawling into bed, and stop breathing. Just not existing anymore. Yes, I know some how there might actually be people who will give a damn if I go-like my parents, but I just don't care, my brain is teasing me like the Sirens sang to Homer until he chained himself to the mast so he couldn't hear them.

The last time I actually got any sleep was Wednesday night/ Thursday morning, since then, I have been averaging about two hours a night. Not good. Mild hallucinations, both visual and audible. I begged the pdoc for something to make me sleep. Nothing doing, he doubled one of the anti-depressants. I told him the anti-depressants are making me manic. I don't know what to do. If this continues, I am scared to death I will go to the hospital.

It's a pretty hospital from the outside. It's just not nice from the inside, I cannot have my panda bear, my clothes I want...
a picture of my girl, a radio, my ipod, my cell phone. nothing......the only time I will be allowed outside after a one or two day hold- will be to smoke..... they will confiscate any shampoo, conditioners, sanitary napkins, or tampons, hairbrushes, toothbrushes, toothpastes, makeup, soap, the whole thing is ridiculous. It's like going to jail, not a hospital.  No watches. No jewelry allowed cept a wedding band. I couldn't even have a scrunchie the last time I was in there, and my hair fell all over my face and into my food.

Speaking of food, since Monday til Friday I lost 6 pounds cause I cannot eat. I am living on Gatorade, I just cannot eat. I am not complaining about the weight loss, but that's a lot of weight to loose in five days,

The idea of being separated from Holly is too much to bear. She sleeps with me. When I write she lies next to me, on my right side or my left side, purring softly. When I look up, I see her. She knows I am depressed, when I take a bath to sooth me, she goes in the tub with me, balancing as like an Olympic gymnast as she puts her tail in the bath water. Right now I am on the couch watching "Cops" and she is by my side, half awake, no doubt thinking 'how stupid humans are".

We have been on the couch all afternoon, watching a marathon of one of my favorite sitcoms, "Arrested Development". Normally the show would have me laughing out loud, but I cannot. I had the San Diego Panda Cam open so I could watch baby Son of Cloud and his mom frolic, and it wasn't cheering me. The thoughts of death- my death, keep going through my head, and the only thing stopping me is, NO ONE, not even the people I would leave Holly to, would love her and care for her as much as I do. I have to buck it up, and get better for the striped one. For my readers. For my family, my friends. And for the most helpless, she who needs me to open the tuna.
So I keep breathing, deep breathing. I think of "Everybody Hurts", the good version, the one by R.E.M. Just think there are people worse off then you, and it's the voices in your head making you think this way. Breathe, keep breathing, relax, chillax, and as long as you keep breathing, you aren't dead. And as long as you keep breathing, you cannot go into the hospital. And you can get better.

It's an uphill climb. But you've done it so many times before. By now it should be second nature.
Related Posts with Thumbnails