Thursday, September 30, 2010

stcuk in the past part 2

Thank you thank you thank you for the supportive comments on my last post! I am feeling a bit better today. I was just getting really overwhelmed with emotions and memories so I just had to cut that post short. There is so much more inside me, but I could probably write all day and never get it out. I thought that writing about it would help me feel better but instead it just drew me back into that mental space that I was trying to escape. I turned off my computer and tried to shake it off, but I couldn't. I felt anxious, scared, like an oppressive black cloud of impending doom was hanging over my head. I kept having to remind myself that everything is ok. "this is the NOW, Lisa, and you are here, safe in your apartment, healthy and strong and free. Everything is ok". Still, I felt shaky. I found myself alternating between getting teary-eyed with a choking feeling in my throat, and a rage that made me want to scream and fight and destroy everything in the room.
My girls got home from school and I tried to tune in to them but I was distracted, still playing the old scenes over and over in my mind. Still stuck in the past. I felt a little desperate, worse than I have felt in awhile (a Xanax would have been very nice). I really, really wished that I could call my therapist and talk to her, but that is not the policy of the group she belongs to. I wanted my husband, but this was a day when he didn't get off school until 6pm. Fortunately, I was able to recognise that I was in danger of being in crisis, I was on my own with the girls until Chris got home, and I needed to do something to distract and fill the hours until then. Then I remembered a day last fall, when I was severly depressed and had just left a difficult therapy session and had to make it through the rest of the afternoon. It was a nice day and I took the girls to Ledges state park, and we ended up having fun. I remember that.
SO that is what I decided to do yesterday. It was actually in the low 80's, a perfect indian summer day. I took Emma and Annie to Ledges and they had so much fun splashing in the water and I just relaxed and listened to the wind and the leaves. I felt happy, calm, and strong. I felt like a survivor, not just of the things I have been through, but a survivor of the memories. It felt really great to know that I could feel on the verge of a crisis, and draw on my strength and resources to deal with it and get through it. I'm not saying I can always do that, but yesterday I did.
A perfect fall day!

The girls in the creek.
This poor snake that we caught and harrassed before we let him go. We caught a few frogs, too.

The girls, walking back up the road to the car. It was a looooong walk. They both slept good last night!

Feeling better! Thank you again so much for the support! It was nice to hear from people who don't usually comment (and of course those of you who do!)!
And was that you, Sylvia???? Do you finally have a blog?????

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

stuck in the past

There is a spot in my brain where I like to keep things that I don't like to think about or remember. I visualise it as sort of a Pandora's box or maybe more like a closet full of junk. You know, a closet so full that if you opened the door you would end up in an avalanche of junk. So you just don't open it.
Once in awhile something happens to remind me of all this crap I try not to think about and then it comes back full force and consumes my mind until I can get it back under control. Some things that we talked about in my NAMI group this monday, and in the writer's group yesterday, unleashed my "treatment baggage". I'm referring to memories of experiences I had as a patient in the UIHC ED program. Treatment which was, ironically, supposed to help me. I was there 6 times, mostly involuntarily, 3 times dragged in in handcuffs by the sherriff. I try so hard not to think about it. The things they said to me. All the little insults, the mind games, the humiliations, hours of boredom alternating with anxiety alternating with anger. Feeling threatened, poweless. Forced to take medications I didn't want, accused of things I didn't do. Doctors and social workers talking about me right in front of me as if I wasn't even there. Having no say, no voice. Having to play their game, never winning no matter what I did.
Example: the last (LAST!) time I was there, in 07, I was on weight gain and for some reason, just a few pounds short of my target weight, I stopped gaining. The doctor couldn't figure out why, so he was convinced that it must be something I was doing. Never mind that I was well inside what would be a normal weight range for my height. Never mind that I was soaking my sheets in sweat every night from being in a hypermetabolic state. So the Team called me into the interview room and told me that they knew I was doing "something" and wanted me to confess, because they were going to catch me anyway. I told them the truth, that I wasn't doing anything wrong, no purging, because I wanted to gain the weight just as badly as they wanted me to (because I wanted the hell out of there). I even asked them to give me more food (I was already on a 3500 cal plan)! I wanted to prove to them that I could do it. But they said no, because "a calorie increase won't make any difference until you stop what ever behavior you are doing to keep from gaining weight". I broke down crying, frustrated, angry. Angry at them for not believing me, angry at my stupid body for not gaining weight. Helpless.
Then they said "we would like to put you back on 24 hour observation. This will be an opportunity for you to prove that you are telling the truth.". I said "fine", because I had nothing to hide, although I was sad to have lost the priviledges I had earned. Sitting in the tiny dayroom all day sucks. Having to find someone to take you to the bathroom and watch you pee sucks. But whatever. At least I could prove my innocence.
But when I got to the dayroom, I realised I was screwed. I still needed and wanted to gain weight so I could go home. But if my body got over this "metabolic hump" now, after I was put on obsevation, it would incriminate me. To the team, it would confirm their suspicion that I was purging when I was off observation. I was in a catch 22 situation. I felt angry, helpless, sad, and scared. I even felt guilty, not because I was doing anything wrong, but because I knew they thought I was a liar, dishonest, manipulative.
They started having lab draw my amylase levels daily, to look for signs of purging. My amylase continued to be normal. But shortly after being put on observation I started to gain weight. They never brought it up again, but I knew what they thought. One day after I was transferred to partial I got into an argument with a nurse there, and she threw out a comment about how I was purging in inpatient. I was furious and set her straight but she said "I 'm only going off of what is in your chart".
After I got home, my therapist showed me portions of my chart that were sent to him. It said "when confronted, patient denied purging or other compensatory behaviors. Cognitive techniques were applied without success" and then blah blah blah reccommend 24 hour observation blah blah blah, with a few blurbs thrown in about how the nurses are sure I'm purging in the shower but no one has caught me at it. It was just so infuriating to hear all the things they wrote about me, and wondering what it is about me that comes off as so awful or sneaky or manipulative that they couldn't just believe me?

This is just one incident of many. I remember the first meal, the first time I was there at age 19. I ran out of time so they put me out in the hall with my tray, where I could either finish it or sit there with it until I did. I remember crying silently, overwhelmed, facing more food that I had eaten in a long time, wishing someone would come put their arm around me and help me through it. And Dr. A coming down the hall, followed by a handfull of residents and med students. Dr A, head of the program, who is supposed to be a national expert on eating disorders.
Someone who could help. He came to a stop with his entourage, looked down at me, and said "what is this, 19 going on 2?". I felt humiliated and wanted to disappear into a puddle right there. That was how I met Dr. A. This man, who was in a position where he could have done so much good, has caused me so much damage by his treatment of me over the years. The very last conversation I ever had with him he looked me in the eye and told me that he was convinced I didn't love my girls. I was shocked, sickened, I opened my mouth to protest and he cut me off by saying "no, no, nothing you say can make me believe otherwise. No amount of fancy verbal footwork can convince me.". Well, what do you day to that. I stayed silent, vowing to never speak to him again. I would never allow him to hurt me again, because I would never come to his program again, not even if I were dying. And I havent.
I have to quit now. I will do a part 2 on this post later. I feel like I need to breathe.

Friday, September 24, 2010

new furniture, same old insurance bs

Hmm, I figured it was time for another post. Just not sure what to say.

We are all moved back to our new apartment and I must say it is FABULOUS! Everything is new, the carpets, the kitchen, the furniture. Our new mattress is so freaking comfortable, which is kind of a bad thing, because it just makes it harder to get out of bed in the morning. For the first couple of days it felt kind of weird, but now it feels like home I guess.
It started to rain last saturday and rained every day until today. Yesterday I was watching the puddles increase in size and felt very stressed out, worrying about flooding. I just dont think I have it in me to do all this again, so soon. But today it is dry and the sun is shining, so it ok.

Chris told me the other day that he was suprised by how I have handled this whole flood thing. He thinks I even handled it better than he did! It was nice to have someone notice my herculean effort not to have a total nervous breakdown. I'm not used to being complimented on my inner strength!

I'm not taking Lexapro anymore because I started having symptoms of seratonin syndrome. I think what I want to do is get off the Pristiq and then start taking Lexapro again. I see Dr Sean next week so hopefully he will be ok with that. I still like Dr Sean, but I am starting to think maybe I need to see an actual psychiatrist. Maybe I will try again to find one. I dont know...

I went to a legislative forum on mental health the other night. There were candidates and incumbants there (county supervisors, senators, representatives) and they were asked questions and each got a chance to respond. Most of the questions were about county funding for mental health programs. Alot of the answers seemed rehearsed, or like political bs, just bashing the other party. So that was kind of lame. But what interested me was one senator talking about the mental health parity law that was passed and he mentioned that substance abuse and EATING DISORDERS were excluded! Mental health parity means that insurance companies would be required to pay the same amount for mental health treatments as they would for other illnesses like cancer or diabetes. I couldnt believe that eating disorders would be excluded from this, since they are the most deadly or all psychiatric disorders! So after the forum I approached the senator and asked him why ED's were excluded and he said basically it was the pressure from insurance companies. I dont know how it all works whan you are tying to pass a law, but from what he said it sounded like they were just trying to get the law through and they had to make some comprimises to get it passed and this was one of them. It just makes me so mad, that insurance companies can influence lawmakers like that! So messed up....
Anyways the senator started asking me about myself (probably because he wanted me to think he cares so I would vote for him, duh) and I told him a little about my story and about the lack of ED treatment in Iowa and he seemed really suprised that there were no programs around here. I told him about how Covenant had one but it closed, and Lutheran had one but it closed. I told him about how its not only hard to find good care, but also to get insurance to pay for it. I told him that usually you have to get so sick that you need to be admitted on a medical basis, and then once you are stable insurance stops covering, so you get discharged before you are ready, and the cycle starts over. When someone with an ED is denied good treatment, the result is usually multiple ER visits and acute psych or med admissions. In the long run, it can be even more expensive than the treatment center would be! When will insurance companies wake up and see this!
Ok I am done whining about that. Actually it is 10:30 in the am, which means I should probably make a move to get out of my jammies and start my day ;)

Love you all!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

look another post!

I'm feeling pretty good right now. Dr. Sean added Lexapro to my Pristiq-buspar-trazodone combo, and it has really helped with my mood. I have always liked Lexapro but my problem with it is that it stops working after awhile and the dose has to be raised and eventually I cant raise it anymore. The last time I was on it I got up to 60mgs (I think the highest FDA approved dose is 40mgs) and I got seratonin syndrome and started twitching. So that was no good.

I booked a party for Emma's 9th birthday at one of those paint-your-own-pottery places and I am hoping that all of the girls we invited will come, because it was mucho expensive and I have to pay for each spot, whether they show up or not. So keep your fingers crossed for us!

We might get to move back to our apartment this weekend. More on that later.

So here is something I am really excited about. I have been going to NAMI meetings and really like it. I am hoping to get more involved and then take the Peer Support training to become a Peer Support Specialist. Some of them even get paid! See, I have always said that even though I dont have a degree in psychology or social work my life experiences should count for something! I really want to be an advocate and a support for people because especially in this part of the country it seems like there are not alot of services to empower people with mental illness and it is easy to find yourself in a situation where you have no rights and noone is looking out for YOU! One thing I heard someone talk about at the last NAMI meeting I was at is "Nothing About Me, Without ME" which basically means that wherever possible, the "patient" should be included is meetings between doctors/case workers/ect. I really liked that. I mean seriously, if you were a cancer patient, your doctor wouldn't walk in and say "well I discussed treatment X with the nurse and had the social worker call your insurance to approve it and we are going to start it today (whether you like it or not). But stuff like this happens all the time to psychiatric patients in all sorts of settings.

Another awesome thing going on is I have started going to a NAMI writer's group led by two ISU grad students. It is like a real writer's class and I really like it! I am hoping it will get me out of the writer's block I have going on. For years I have wanted to write a book. I just feel a book in me. I finally put pencil to paper this summer and wrote what I thought was a very good first chapter, but since then I haven't been able to write anything. So we'll see where it goes.

Well that is about it.

P.S. Annie is watching me type this and she said "It looks borring. No kids stuff.".

Sunday, September 12, 2010

FEMA, furniture, ED, and stuff

Grrr I am at my inlaws and their internet is appallingly slow. I have nearly given up on posting but I guess since the page finally loaded I will give it a shot....

We still are not back home (my apartment flooded last month) but hopefully at the end of this week we can start moving some things in. On the bright side, we got a huge FEMA check! For those of you who aren't familiar with FEMA, it is the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It helps people out who have been affected by disasters and thigs like that. Anyways, I got to go furniture shopping in a real live furniture store (not Wal-Mart, Garage sale, or thrift shop) and get new furniture, which is something I have never done before. I think up until now, all of my furniture has been used, or cheap, like the kind you have to assemble at home. And there is nothing wrong with that. I am a thrifty person and I think if I can find something that is cheap and looks nice, why not? But one of the FEMA rules is that you HAVE to spend the money on replacing your stuff (like, you cant go to Disney with it or spend it on lipo *sigh*), and they gave us alot of money. So there it is. I guess there are some upsides to what has happened. There was a list of "luxury items" we were not allowed to spend the money on and I was amused to see that VCR's were on it. VCR? Really, FEMA? I dont think a VCR was considered a luxury item since 1990....

I am still doing pretty good with the eating disorder. I realised that I only purged one time this whole summer! That is, like, really good. I went out for pizza at Old Chicago last night with some family and was just fine. Pizza was always a big problem for me. It was one of those foods I only ate when I was bingeing, or else not at all. The concept of just eating a slice or two of pizza and not having a total nervous breakdown over it used to be so foriegn to me. I'm just amazed to be doing so well after all those years of struggle. It kind of blows my mind.

To be honest, sometimes I feel conflicted about recovery. I read about people who aren't doing so well and are in the hospital and I feel bad for them but I also sometimes miss being in the hospital (well, certain ones anyway). Like, someone is always there to listen to you and you get taken care of and you dont have to worry about normal day to day responsibilities. Sometimes I miss the days when all my decisions boiled down to "well, will I eat today or not?". I miss people worrying about me, and asking if I am ok. I feel like the healthier I get, the more people back away. Like "look at how good Lisa is doing, she can handle things on her own now". I want a big effing shirt that says "I May Look Healthy, But I'm Not Ok!". I still hurt. I'm still overwhelmed. I still struggle with depression and anxiety, prehaps even more so now that I dont use my ED to cope.

But I don't think relapse is the answer for me. Even though sometimes the ED "looks good", I'm sure my thinking is along those lines of the grass always being greener on the other side. As those of you who are struggling can tell, eating disorders are hell.
I think I just need to be more vocal. I need to let people know when I need help. How will people know I am not ok unless I say something? I used to rely on my eating disorder to "say it" for me. It's time for me to speak up.