Please Invalidate Me

My last visit to the psych nurse that I’ve been appointed to has just been enough. Admittedly, I was under the influence of Valium, which helps me take the edge off my anxiety and gifts (Hell yes, I know I typed “gifts”. Tiny ones indeed!) me the ability to carry out errands and attend appointments. However, those little pink pills have a dulling effect on me. As though life is occurring in real time around me, but I personally feel “off” in my time in relation to the present.

For example, I’m listening and interacting in a active conversation but sometimes things feel very sped up and the Valium is slowing my thought process to be able to consume what the other person had said and be able to respond within a reasonable time period. So, I’ll just refer to it for now as my “V” delay. I tell my psych nurse that “no” I have not yet received the Geodon and I had communicated with my pharmacy and what not.

She asks, “Did you call Joann?” (The psych nurse’s asst.) I look at her like WTF? I say “NO. I didn’t.” I didn’t elaborate about why should I call someone else or why didn’t I. I get fucking tired of playing phone tag in regards to my medications and for some reason, on that visit, the Geodon went right through and my insurance covered it. We move on quickly to the subject that I’ve been under a lot of stress recently due to my neighbor’s kids and the adults lack of supervision of the said kids.

I explained that things had escalated between the neighbors and myself and my partner as we tried to tell them what their kids were doing to intimidate and be generally aggressive to myself and my companion animal. There really was no “discussion” between the neighbors and us as the female adult comes out yelling and interrupting in her chador and her kids look over at us like we killed their gold fish.

It was extremely hard for me to keep my composure because I suffer from PTSD and don’t respond well to anyone yelling or acting aggressive towards me. I’d had enough of the neighbors and had to leave for our apartment to control myself. The male adult had the audacity to go and have a sit down with the upper management of the leasing company and told the assets manager that we scared their children so much that they cried for the rest of the night and they didn’t feel safe with my partner doing work orders anymore in their apartment as he’s the maintenance supervisor of the property. The reality of the situation was, I watched the kid’s faces as their mother came out yelling at us and they looked crestfallen and we passed by later walking my companion dog and the kids were out still playing and very jovial as they were yelling at my companion dog.

So, the neighbors are stirring around a shit stew of lies and fabrications and have gone as far as playing the victim stance to have upper management favor them. I have to hand it to them, they should know how to deceive the best as they are the masters of it. After a short synopsis to my psych nurse, I also add that I already have issues surrounding going outside as it is and now, all this compounds things.

She goes on about how blah,,,Oh, yeah I was still listening. She drops a psych term that I honestly forgot because of the fucking Valium and I was trying to go back mentally and retrieve the term because I can sometimes do that pretty quick if nothing’s in my system slowing me down. But, here we go. Most important things to remember. Her parting words for me until 6 weeks from that session.

“Sometimes we make things a bigger deal than the actual issue because we’re constantly being forced to deal with it.” she says about my issues at hand. Okay, notice her language. “We, we’re.” So as to not place blame and maintain neutrality. I nod my head as I mull over what she said as it made slight sense but then I ruminated further. I started thinking well, how does a person with social anxiety just make themselves get over that omnipotent and oppressive anxiety? They don’t and I don’t.

I have to medicate myself to do what “normal” well adjusted people do day in and day out. Just going to the local grocery store is a anxiety producing mess! See, as a patient, you view the people you encounter in the mental health field as part of your support system. It’s a lot like Russian roulette that ideology. Be damned aware that there’s a valid reason medicine is referred to as “practicing” in many fields. Experimentation and studies are constantly being conducted making the information that some of the professionals you encounter are not entirely up to date, sometimes antiquated and all the time needing to be altered to suit you as an individual.

That being stated, I also know that professionals are always attending new workshops and learning about new drugs and techniques. I’m constantly telling myself, reminding myself. Mentally pinching myself, to be my own advocate! I won’t say it can’t be done, but it’s terribly hard when you deal with that every time you visit the place you receive your medication management and therapy and they’re supposed to be on your team but you leave feeling like if you had stayed in bed that you would’ve been better damned off!

On Being Your Own Best Shrink

Some background on me is, that I’ve been in relationships with mental health professionals since the age of seven. These relationships have been sporadic since the age of seven until my current age of 38. It wasn’t until my later 20’s that I actually was under more constant mental medical supervision of some sort.

My first experience with a social worker, was when I was approximately seven years old. I was pulled out of my class and felt like something was wrong and I also felt awkward because everyone’s attention was then focused on me and what was concerning me. The social worker takes me to a room and I thought I’d done something extraordinary wrong for the manner in which everything was taking place. It felt very covert and I obviously felt like all the attention was diverted to me, but in a overwhelming way.

The social worker makes an attempt to make small talk and eventually asks me if anyone had been touching me in an inappropriate way or hurting me. There were many times that I would wear pants to school to cover the welts in the warmer months and that was until my ass would start to mend and then my step-parents would switch off so I could wear the appropriate clothes for the weather. I suppose that was clever on their part.

I lied straight faced and without even having to think much over my response to the social worker’s questions. I didn’t tell the truth because I was afraid. I was afraid of where I’d be put if I was put in the foster care system and I was even more afraid of what would happen if my step-parents found out I told the truth of the sexual trauma, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse I endured day in and out. The devil you know is sometimes better than the devil you don’t. All I know is for a seven year old girl to have so much on her plate, she had to think fast and be a few steps ahead of things.

So, from that time when I was seven and until now, there’s no telling how many people know the intimate details of my life story. This is what I do know about it all now, though. From the time I started working with mental health professionals, I would have to say through my experiences, that very few individuals actually helped me make any productive headway whatsoever in my daily life.

I readily admit that I’m what any DBT therapist will describe as, “willful.” It’s entirely true to a default. I’m both a realistic and pragmatic when it comes to everything in life. If someone is hocking an idea or strategy to me that I know will not work for me, than I just discard it right away. THIS is my whole point with the mental health field. It still is medicine being practiced. New studies are being conducted constantly and nothing is truly static.

What I’ve learned for myself that works tremendously and it doesn’t require an hour long session to accomplish is, to assess your own self. You don’t have to have a degree in anything to do this. It’s something that I regularly do to figure out what is working for me in my life and what isn’t. Take for example, my relationship with my biological mother has always been a strained and rocky one. Last year, I wrote her a letter that would forever change our relationship. It contained something that happened that she needed to have knowledge of.

Her lack of response was the only indication I needed to move on in my life as she was no longer anyone to me anymore. I realize for some people, these are not easy life tasks to accomplish. Permanently severing my relationship with my biological mother was a painful process and definitely a decision that I ruminated over. But, the empowerment! If you are able in your life to make these decisions on what’s not working and only adding more stress to your life, with a clear, stable, and sober mind, then you will find that inner strength you always had to persevere through the strife.

I go to my therapist almost on a weekly basis. I don’t feel any stigma about having to deal with the mental health professionals. I know I’m a pain in the ass because they probably think I’m a know it all, that doesn’t listen to their suggestions (when they actually provide feedback ) but it’s my hour. Having multiple mental illnesses is enough combined with the physical problems I have as well. Ultimately in life, it is you that is going through and dealing with your mental illness and other problems. Your mental health professional isn’t going to be there with you when you’re stuck in a public restroom stall willing yourself to breathe because of a anxiety or panic attack.

I know all about these times. Twenty or so minutes spent trying to collect yourself so you can leave the bathroom and go pick up your prescriptions. Do the breathing exercises. Focus, distract yourself with just about any method that works for you. You know you better than anyone else. You know when you need a break. You know if a place is subject to trigger a panic attack. Take care of yourself the best way you know how. If something isn’t working, THROW IT OUT! I personally only use the strategies that work for me and everything else is background noise, because I have tried many mindful skills, and DBT skills but they don’t work for everyone.

I don’t have a little notebook of skills compiled for the panic attacks and all of my triggers. I just know. At this age, it’s second nature. Everyday is a struggle for us all. I’m just trying to learn as I go about what’s helpful and what’s not. Fight on my fellow warriors!!

 

 

Pills for What Ills

So, I had an appointment with my assigned psych nurse this past Monday in which we discussed how neither of my insurances would cover a new med that she wanted to put me on. I’ve tried ALL kinds of anti-depressants all in the SSRI category. Many were simply ineffective. Some were just terrible for me to take period, ( lamictal, prozac, wellbutrin of any milligram ) those are a sample of a few.

I even took this genesight test that tests your DNA to determine what psych medicines would work better with your chemistry. Before I entered the nurse’s office, I already had mentally prepared myself for what I intended to say. I told her I had no faith in any anti-depressant and that I refused to think my salvation or “cure” could be found in pill form.

Her reaction was that I was resigning to my illnesses and how they affect my daily life. I’m very realistic and pragmatic. I took her comment offensively because, as far as I view my illnesses, I didn’t chose to acquire them at any point in my life. She ultimately advised me to get exercise and make sure that I was getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D.

The same nurse that told me prior to this appointment that I should really start taking a multi-vitamin as my folic acid levels were low and my medicines metabolize better when I’m not mineral deficient. I’ve only been on the same meds for almost 8 years and I’m just now receiving this advice?! WTF???

I’ve also been told by previous therapists that, “you need to be your own advocate.” I agree to that sentiment. However, sometimes, just making it to a doctor’s appointment, etc. is a feat in itself. I then thought, would you really fucking give your own damn self this advice?! I suffer from major depression as well as other mental illnesses. I’ve been disabled since 2012 and I would like to ask them how is it when someone is sick, to advocate for their selves when they’re already doing the best they can???

I want to know the answer to this question. I can’t tell you how many therapist sessions I’ve spent in the restroom (partially) due to my stomach issues that are related to my mental problems and negatively affect every aspect of my life as well. When I had private insurance, the level of “care” wasn’t better. I had a psychiatrist. I hated him. I wanted to stab him until I exhausted myself with a dull letter opener. He focused a lot on my past and asked a lot of questions and took a long time to speak. I believe he did it to waste time. As he certainly did not have any great contributions to offer in regards to my “therapy.”

So, sometimes private doctors suck worse than the places that are state and federally funded. I’m 38 and I’ve been seeing social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and others in the mental health field since I was seven years old, off and on. At some point, you begin to question the validity of the mental health field as a whole. Honestly, I owe my stability to two drugs, Lithium and Depakote. I have to use Valium to help with my anxiety. I used to be on more, but had adverse side effects.

I have a sharp insight into what’s wrong. I approx. said this to my present therapist, “Imagine how frustrating it is to have endured the suffering and strife you were dealt throughout your life to only have to relive all of those memories because you cannot forget. You are haunted by your past every waking day.” I’ve told my prior therapists the same thing before. Do you dare think I want to hold onto those memories for the pain they serve to remind me of? The same memories that rob me of my present life because of the hell my past was.

No one really has anything profound to say. Yes. It would be patronizing on anyone’s part to say something they think may make me feel better. I know they’re smarter than that. If I were in their shoes, I guess if hadn’t experienced my own history, than I wouldn’t know what to say either. I’ve had ECT referred before. I may do it. I’ve found the depths of depravity that I’ve reached are as deep as I’m willing to sink.

What would it feel like to swim? Is it even a possibility?