Sunday, October 18, 2009

I am in the Bighouse

Well I am back in the nuthouse. Have been here 11 days now with no end in sight. I ask every day when am I getting out of here and so far the answer has been about 6 weeks from now. Not sure if I will make it through...I am dying of boredom. I am not allowed to go outside or leave the hospital at least at this stage.

So my day consists of mind-numbing group therapy sessions followed up with tons of mind numbiing questions from the staff and doctors. Are they trying to make me more crazy? I took an overdose of pills and that is how I ended up here and it looks like here I will stay for a while.

The only entertainment here is when someone gets out of control and gets dragged off the floor and tied down or injected with the sleeping potions.

Okay my 10 minute time limit on the computer is used up now. I will keep everyone posted.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm Bored...I am Chairman of the Bored

Yep I said it...I am bored. I suppose in the grand scheme of things that is a good thing...haven't been manic for a few months, the depression is lifting and mega doses of risperdal seem to have knocked the hallucinations out of me. I should be happy about that, right? Well, I am, I guess however I am used to my life being like a roller coaster ride. So what do normal folk do when their life is all calm? I seem to have no frame of reference.

So there haven't been any wild spending sprees lately, no crazy escapades, i actually sleep at night, don't sleep all day and when I enter a room I only see and hear the people who are actually imaginary friends if you know what I mean. So what the hell do I do now? How do I live this mundane existence.

Don't get me wrong, I am not asking for the madness to return any time soon. But I must admit life has become quite dull. I mean I actually read about the feud between the Jon & Kate couple, am totally addicted to watching Big Brother (want Kevin to win), today I watched the recycling guys go down the street and pick up all the recycling, I even did grocery shopping like a normal person would, bought normal food...not 23 lemons, 5 bags of chips, 47 rolls of paper towels, cupcakes, 2 carrots and one of everything from the impulse aisle. Grocery shopping just doesn't have the same appeal when you aren't crazy manic and hitting the all night grocery store at 3 am. And let me tell you, the people in the grocery store at 3 am are far more interesting than the ones who are there at 11 am. The other day I drank lemonade on the porch then drove to the library instead of driving to Boston, or Florida, or to Buffalo for chicken wings and coffee. Sigh!

A friend of mine who is bipolar always tells me he is enthralled with his madness. I used to find that statement quite bizarre, what with the havoc this illness can cause, but I think I am starting to understand his sentiment. I always dreamed of having some stability but didn't know it would bore me to death. I guess I am so used to all the drama that I don't do calm anymore...or don't do it well.

Well now that I have filled 20 minutes whining about my boredom, I only have 23 hours and 40 minutes to get through today. For those of you who think I am nuts for being worried about being stable, stay tuned, I am sure the next episode is right around the corner. Someone can remind me about this post when things spin out of control. Okay I have to run, the ladies are coming over for tea...just kidding, but I am going to weed the garden. Oh what have I become?


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Have I Influenced Anyone's Life?

I read a very thought provoking blog today written by a man named Darrel. It is here: At the end of the blog Darrel asks the question "Have I influenced anyone's Life?" Darrel's question inspired much soul searching in me. I am always questioning myself about does life matter, do I matter and what is the point of my life. Questions that are quite poignant to people with mental illness I think. Darrel mentioned in his blog entry that whether people smile or frown at him can make a difference to how he feels and who he is. Do we really have that much power? I have that much power? Insignificant little me?

I always thought it would be great to be remembered for some monumental achievement like finding a cure for cancer, winning a Pulitzer prize, inventing something that helps mankind...but maybe, just maybe it is the little things in life that matter the most?

I like to think I have had some influence on my family, friends, my immediate circle. I have no children but I have 8 nieces and nephews and have been a part of their lives. I see parts of me in all of them. They all have a great sense of humour, are quick to laugh, are caring, thoughtful and are all round good people. Could I have contributed to that in some little way? I would like to think so. I would like to think that I have lived my life in a way that could be an example to my younger relatives. I have tried to impart the little wisdoms about life I have picked up along the way. I hope I have helped them become loving people as much as they have helped me learn to love. I have most definitely learned from all of them. I hope they have learned as much from me as I have from all of them. They matter a lot to me so just maybe I matter to them as well?

I am blessed with wonderful friends, the best a person could ask for. I tell people this all the time...a few people have said to me you have to be a great friend to get great friends. I would hate to let my friends down or disappoint them in any way. They have shown me what a wonderful friend looks like. I look up to them and have learned from them. My friends most certainly have influenced the person I have become...just maybe they get the same from me in return?

Darrel mentions in his blog being influenced by strangers. I have been affected by strangers...a sympathetic smile, a compliment, help in a time of need, people reading what I write, listening to what I have to say. Last week a lady behind me in line at the store gave me 3 cents so I wouldn't have to break a larger bill. A simple kindness but it meant the world to me that a stranger would help me out for no reason other than their desire to be a kind person. Also last week a little boy ran back to hold the door for me and the other day a stranger watched me head into the mental health clinic and offered me a beautiful and encouraging smile...and that was just last week. Many a time a complete stranger has restored my faith in mankind. Do I wield that kind of power? Did I have an impact on the man in the wheelchair that I helped when he was stuck?, on the woman whose child held the door for me when I told her how wonderful it was to see such a well mannered and caring child?, to the little boy in Africa that I sponsored?, to the friend I lent some money too? Could my seemingly inconsequential acts of kindness influence others the way their little kindnesses influence me?

I have learned so much from people with mental illnesses like my own. I have learned from people who have shared that they too struggle with mental illness. I have learned in person from talking with these people but have also learned through bipolar websites, blogs, email with other folks who struggle and also from caring doctors and counsellors who have helped me in my time of need. I truly believe that people with bipolar and other mental illnesses are some of the funniest, most compassionate, caring and vibrant people I know. I try to educate people about mental illness, try to offer others hope even when I don't feel much myself, try to help others in their time of need. Could I have influenced someone the way they have influenced me?

So Darrel your blog entry has influenced me...IT MATTERS! It reminds me of a quote that I once thought was trite: "“To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.” It is becoming less trite to me by the moment and making me realize that we may be only one person but we all matter and all have something to share. We influence others as much as they influence us. So the point to all my rhetoric is yes I think I may matter. And you all matter, probably more than you will ever realize. Try to remember that on the darkest of days.

Someone needs you.

And to Darrel, thanks for the heads up that we can influence others and for the thought provoking blog entry.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Remember You All

Dedicated to the memory of
Mr. H.,
and the countless others who fought valiant battles but whose light was extinguished too soon. The illness took your life but not your memory.


this illness, so much that it has taken
it has left me weak, lost, and forsaken

i cannot fight the mighty tide
nowhere to run, no place to hide

i try to flee it hunts me down
i try to fight, it tries to drown

i struggle and i try to swim
my light is fading, getting dim

i search for any beacon in the night
there is no hope, there is no light

i am tossed about and set asunder
will it ever stop, i doubt, i wonder

i glance about and you appear
please hold me close, please draw me near

you are so good and always there
i know you love me, know you care

you reach for me, offer your hand
provide a safe place for me to land

i want to take you up on your kind offer
accept the encouragement and smile you proffer

but all that i survey is dark
it takes a toll, its left its mark

please listen to my every word
this story of mine it must be heard

i start to drift, you are still there
have no doubt, i know you care

i reached for you but lost my grasp
sorry you will witness my last gasp

i fought the beast with all my might
it wore me down, i lost the fight

it seems today that i will die
but rest assured at peace i lie

i fought the battles, lost the war
so now i knock at heaven's door

my spirit was broken, torn and shattered
but please tell the people that my life mattered

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Medication Merry Go Round

Well I started taking Lamictal today....again. I tried taking Lamictal two years ago and it made me blind, made me trip over my own feet and slur my words. Apparently these are not alarming side effects to my doctor who in his infinite wisdom has decided I should try taking Lamictal again. Yep I have officially tried so many different medications that they are now recycling them...and sadly enough I am desperate enough to go along with this wacky plan.

Sure I listened to my doctor give his speech about how I might not get bad side effects this time and how last time I took Lamictal I was also on 7 other medications, and after all my sight did come back didn't it? blah, blah, blah. Somehow I am not really convinced by his optimistic thoughts on the matter. However things have been so awful lately that I am willingly taking a pill that made me unable to see and made me appear like I was drunk or something. How scary is that?

So what is worse the illness or the cure? I can't believe with all the side effects of psychiatric medication that anyone stays on their meds. I have said it before and I will say it again being nuts is not for the faint of heart. The medication sheet that came with my prescription lists the known side effects of this medication: dizziness, headache, blurred/double vision, nasal congestion, lack of coordination, shaking, tremors, muscle weakness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, painful menstrual cramps, difficulty sleeping and abdominal discomfort. It also says to watch out for a rash that can be fatal, behaviour changes including thoughts of suicide, bleeding, black/bloody stools, vomit with blood in it, bloody urine, yellowing of the eyes and skin, chest pain, slurred speech, weakness on one side of the body. Gee what I wouldn't give for a don't ask, don't tell policy right now. I think I have tremors already, no wait, I am just shaking with fear. I can't believe they let people take these medications and can't believe I go along with it...but I am sure this medication will make me feel much better. ah ha ha ha ha

So wish me luck on my journey, I think I am going to need it!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Am Going to Die Anyway...Does It Really Matter When?

I have been asking myself this question all week. I have been spiralling downward for a few weeks now. I have been dealing with chronic sleep deprivation, depression, wicked bad side effects, less than helpful doctors, being unable to work, financial difficulties, out of control anxiety, and medication after medication that just doesn't work. Except for 4 short months I have not been stable in 7 years. I am done, I give up, I don't want to play anymore.

So back to the question. We are all going to die and does it matter when? How much does a person have to take? Does a person have to live a miserable existence when they are just going to die anyway? What is the point? Why bother? Why fight and struggle your way through a joyless life and then just die anyway? This is what I torture myself with. These thoughts go over and over in my head.

Then the guilt thoughts start. I am just feeling sorry for myself. There are people who have it much worse than me. People who are in much worse pain. People who live a bleaker existence. In the end I feel guilty and I don't want to live my life.

There is always the guilt of those that would be left behind if I decided to end my life. My family would be devastated. My parents of course, and I am very close to my nieces and nephews. This has stopped me a few times when I was on the brink. At other times I had convinced myself that if they loved me like I loved them they would want me to be at peace. I have had conversations with my family letting them know that if I was to die by my own hand there was in no way anything they could have done to prevent it and they should have no guilt because it would be only about my pain. I suppose for them this would provide little solace, so I suppose when I died would matter to them. My mother several times has said to me if you are going to kill yourself can you wait until after I am gone.

I find it somewhat ironic that if people had a pet, say a dog or cat that suffered as much as many of us with mental illnesses do they would let that pet go. They would allow that pet to have an end to their suffering. We cling to people though don't we.

I have thought about what I might miss out on if I didn't live to old age. I don't think I would miss much experience wise. I have already decided not to have children because I don't want to pass on this illness and don't know how great a parent I would make with having this illness. I travelled quite a bit before my illness really got its grip on me. I had a good career for a while but never will again. My financial future is severely limited now so there aren't any great adventures in the future out there waiting for me. I don't think I would miss much.

I suppose in little ways it can matter when you die. I started to overdose on pills a couple of nights ago and about 20 pills in I realized that if I died that night my brother wouldn't have a babysitter for his kids. He is working second shift until the first week of August and can't get a babysitter that will look after his children until 2am so I have been doing it. I had this moment of clarity in the middle of my suicidal moment where I decided I couldn't die because I had to babysit until August. I am not sure if that is rational or crazy. Oh and I had a whopping headache when I woke up the next morning.

There is always the big picture to think of in deciding if it matters when you die. Whether a person believes in God or not...and whether God is a vengeful God or not. Whether it is a sin to commit suicide or not. I think about that a lot too.

So essentially whenever I get depressed I guess I justify my suicidal feelings to myself by saying I am going to die anyway, what does it matter when. I am not sure if other people do that too. The professionals all think feeling suicidal or committing suicide is a sign of insanity. In my opinion it can be a very rational decision to end a very awful life...but of course what do I know. I am nuts.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


n you drive faster than a speeding bullet, think you can leap tall buildings in a single bound and speak faster than most auctioneers

n you talk to god and he talks back to you

n waking up at supper time is getting up early

n there are more pills in your head than there are in most pharmacies

n going to the hospital means a ride in a police car

n you are unhappy with your mood but know it is okay because a new one will appear any minute

n you have had more jobs than you have birthdays

n going to appointments is your full time job

n you have the psychiatrist, therapist and crisis line on speed dial

n 20 minutes is a good nights sleep

n you ask does this medication make me look fat?

n you are never lonely because you have the voices in your head to keep you company

n you use credit cards to make payments on your other credit cards

n you take frequent trips to club med...icated

n you go out 18 nights in a row then don't leave the house for a month

n you make 8 quick right turns on the way home to make sure no one is following you

n you see dead people but you don't have your own talk show or psychic hotline

n you know you are the queen of England but people don't bow to you or call you your majesty

n your medicine makes you want to scarf down sugar right out of the bag

n when people greet you they don't say hello, they say how are you feeling? or are you taking your medication?

n people like hanging out with you because it makes them look normal by comparison

n you make the energizer bunny look lethargic or make a turtle look zippy



Friday, June 12, 2009

Interesting Statistics About Mental Illness

I am fascinated by statistics. A few numbers can at times provide a very vivid picture, point out a problem, cause alarm or even disbelief. I started researching some of the statistics on mental illness and was blown away by some of the stuff the numbers revealed. Anyway here is some of the stuff I dug up in case anyone else is curious.

...oh and on the lighter side my favourite statistic is that half the people in the world are below average.

* Every 18 minutes someone in the U.S. dies by suicide.

*40% of homeless people in America suffer serious and persistent mental illness.

*20% of children in America suffer from a diagnosable psychiatric illness and less than 20% of those children get therapeutic intervention.

*10.7% of all physician visits are for mental health issues.

*More than 90% of people who kill themselves had been diagnosed with a mental disorder.

*Data developed by the Global Burden of Disease Study conducted by the World Health Organization, World Bank and Harvard University revealed that mental illnesses including suicide accounts for 15% of the burden of disease in established market economies such as the U.S. This is MORE than the disease burden caused by all cancers.

*Nearly twice as many women as men suffer from major depressive disorder. Men and women suffer bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in equal numbers.

*The highest rate of suicide in the U.S. is in white men over the age of 85 years.

*Depression affects 1 in 5 older people living in the community and 2 in 5 in assisted living facilities.

*90% of prison inmates in Britain have a psychiatric disorder.

*People with a current mental health problem are 20 times more likely than others to report having harmed themselves in the past.

*More than 70% of the U.S. prison population has 2 or more psychiatric disorders. Male prisoners are 14 times more likely than the general population to have a psychiatric disorder and female prisoners are 35 times more likely to have a psychiatric disorder.

*Mental health problems now account for 30-40 percent of disability claims reported by Canada's major insurers and employers.

*Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in 15-24 year olds.

*Half the people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have no insurance.

*The average person diagnosed with bipolar disorder receives 3.5 misdiagnoses and consults 4 physicians before obtaining an accurate diagnosis.

*1 in 5 people (20%) with bipolar disorder commit suicide. This is 30 times higher than in the general population.

*More Americans suffer from depression (20.9 million), than from heart disease (7 million), cancer (6 million), and AIDS (200,000) combined.

*Contrary to popular belief, suicide rates are lowest in winter and highest in spring.

*4 times as many men die of suicide than women but women attempt suicide 2-3 times as often as men.

*65% of boys and 75% of girls in juvenile detention have at least one psychiatric diagnosis.

*45% of people with mental illness meet the criteria for 2 or more psychiatric disorders.

*Life expectancy of an adult with serious mental illness is 25 years shorter than that of a person without mental illness.

*70-75% of people with bipolar disorder have been misdiagnosed at least once.

*Statistically people with a mental illness are far more likely to be a victim of violence than to be violent.

*Average age of onset of bipolar disorder is 23 and average age of correct diagnosis is 40.

*13% of people with long term mental illness also suffer from migraines.

*Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in 15-44 year olds in Canada.

*50% of bipolar people are not receiving treatment at any given time.

So those are the numbers I discovered...a pretty bleak picture, but one that people should see.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

I Think I Need a Psychiatric Resume

Today I had an epiphany. I realized that I am the most redundant person in the history of the world. It came to me today as I sat in yet another professional person's office with the dun colored carpet and the requisite inspirational pictures on the wall, that slightly institutional smell and the elevator music wafting in under the door from the reception area. My eyes had glazed over and I was getting that hazy around the edges feeling I get when I answer the same questions for the 1000th time.

I know that if you have a mental illness you are probably nodding your head right now. You know exactly what I mean. The questions never change and there are hundreds of them. The doctor asks them, the psychiatrist, the social worker, the nurse, crisis worker, therapist, people at the hospital, intake anywhere, psychologist, and today the neurologist. More and more people seem to be getting in on the action too. When I filled out forms to go to a new dentist one of the questions was do you have any mental illnesses and what medications do you take. The eye doctor wanted to know what medications I take and what I take them for.

I seem to do nothing but answer these questions. How old are you? How long have you had hallucinations, voices? Ever married? Children? What kind of voices? What do they say? What do you see when you hallucinate? How many times hospitalized and where and when? Who are members of the team? Family history? Suicide attempts and when? Trauma? Medications? ...and literally hundreds more. It can take up to 2 hours for these questions sometimes and it really does seem like an interrogations sometimes.

So here is my solution. The psychiatric resume. Yep list all my personal info. List how well qualified I am for being mental. List my previous know psychosis, hospital stays, trauma, all my qualifications so to speak. There could be an education section for all the stupid programs I have attended, CBT, DBT, anger management, therapists seen and all that other higher learning. I could list all the doctors I have seen or my references. A section for medications would be great so I wouldn't have to say for the millionth time no I took that and it didn't work, no that gave me akathisia, nope made me blind, nope made me drool, made me psychotic, etc. A section for accomplishments would be great. There I could list all my manic episodes, psychotic episodes, depressive episodes, number of suicide attempts.

Just imagine how much time would be saved if I just handed over my resume...or better yet dropped it off or mailed it in ahead of time. I swear I have spent 3/4 of my life sitting in someones office answering stupid questions. Think how much more time would be available for actual living. Imagine the freedom! I am sure I could make a fortune churning these things out. I can't be the only one who is so frustrated from answering questions over and over.

The good news at the neurologist today is that I don't have some disease that is causing all these bizarre ms or lupus or neurologic stuff I am just plain nuts. Wow thanks for the insight Dr. S., who would have guessed?


Monday, June 1, 2009

Anniversaries and You Meet the Most Interesting Folks

Well today is my anniversary. Nope not a wedding, birthday, promotion or graduation anniversary. One year ago today I was taken by the police and unceremoniously dumped off at the psychiatric hospital. I tend to go nuts in the spring. This is the first June 1 in two years that I haven't been locked up. Anniversaries tend to make me look back on things and I started dwelling on all the awful memories of being locked up for three months. So I dug into my head trying to seek out any positive recollections of the experience and it suddenly dawned on me that you really do meet the most interesting folks in the nuthouse.

You would think that for obvious reasons the nuthut would be a desperate, frightening, sad, pathetic place...and it was, however, at times I laughed so hard I almost wet myself. As I alluded to in my previous post mental illness does have its humorous aspects and we mental folk do like to laugh at ourselves. So let me share the funny memories of my incarceration and introduce you to some of the folks that I did hard time with:

BRIAN: you always knew when Brian was coming in the room; every time Brian came in or out of a doorway or entrance he said fuuuuuuuuuuck really loud. I dunno must be an OCD thing. Sure scared the heck out of the visitors.

JACKIE: Jackie was my roommate. Jackie made me look normal and that is hard to do. She used to come into the room and look at herself in the mirror and laugh maniacally at her reflection. It was the most high pitched creepy laugh I have ever heard. She would do this for at least 45 minutes before she would go to sleep every night. She could definitely give the wicked witch of the east a run for her money. She also used to sit on the end of my bed in the middle of the night. When I would ask her why she was sitting on my bed she would do the laugh thing.

HILDA: Hilda is 72 years old. one night she went up to the nurses station and pointed to each of the 6 nurses one at a time and said you are an asshole and you are an asshole and you are an asshole and then to the last one she said and you, you KNOW you are an asshole. Hilda also out of the blue told me that her bra size is 38 Long...uh they were pretty long...oldness sucks.

LANA: Lana is diabetic and she also loves fruit and fruit juice. She was always stealing, begging and borrowing every body's fruit and fruit juice or tomato juice from the dinner trays and snack carts. She would drink the stuff until she put herself into a diabetic stupor and then would be staggering around like a drunk. She would stash the stuff in her room and then go nuts with it.

DAVID: David was afraid of water...really afraid of water. Every 3 or 4 days when he got really stinky the staff would get together, surround him and drag him to the shower. They would strip him and throw him in the shower and try to hose him down. Almost without fail when he was wet and soapy he would elude their grasp and come streaking down the hall all lathered up and buck naked. He would be sliding and skidding all over the place with at least 3 or 4 staff members hot on his heels. Not bad as far as entertainment goes.

MIKE: Mike was the resident sleepwalker. If you heard piercing shrieks in the middle of the night it was a pretty sure bet that Mike had wandered into some girl's room and was standing beside her bed staring at her.

SALLY: Sally was a doctor and an alcoholic. Sally must have been less crazy than the rest of us because she was usually allowed to go home on weekend passes. She used to come back on Sunday nights so drunk she could hardly stand up and then she would start telling us all these horror stories about all the ways doctors screw up and kill people. Half the people would refuse to take their meds on Sunday nights because she would tell about all these lethal med mix up stories.

DR MURRAY (not his real name so he doesn't sue me for slander even tho he can't sue me for slander cuz this is a true story: Dr. Murray is the medical doctor for the psychiatric hospital. They sent him to see me because all of a sudden I can't see anything. I have perfect vision one day and they start me on a new med (lamictal) and 2 days later I can't see a damn thing. Everything is blurry. So I tell him what is happening and he says "Heather I think you might need glasses" I may have been way crazy at the time and all but still I am like WTF? So I say "hey doc two days ago I had perfect vision then I start a new med and now I can't see a thing". He says, "well Heather I was about your age when I first needed glasses. I will take you to my office and you can read the eye chart." Now try to keep in mind that I am supposed to be the crazy one here. I say, "ummm doc, I can't read the eye chart cuz I can't see a thing." and if you can believe it the dumb ass says "well we will go to my office and read the eye chart anyway." So we went to his office and I couldn't read the eye chart. The psychiatrist took me off the med and my vision went back to perfect in 3 days. I wonder if it is only me that thinks this is hysterical?

HENRY: Henry was the best. He would sit there in group and mimic everything the facilitator said. You know like you do when you are a little kid to drive your siblings nuts...repeating back every single thing they say. They would say Henry please don't disrupt the group like that and he would say Henry please don't disrupt the group like that. Then they would say Henry do you need to leave the group and he would say Henry do you need to leave the group. All us nuts would be having laughing fits over the facilitator trying to gain control of his group. Eventually the techs would come and drag Henry away.

BARB: Barb was the unit lesbian. Barb was big time into shocking the newbies. As soon as a new woman came onto the unit she would walk up to her and look down her shirt and say wow you have great nipples or say I am a lesbian wanna play tonsil hockey. She also told the head psychiatrist that she does men once in a while if he wanted to go for it.

JEFF: Jeff was a pacer. He would pace up and down the hall of the unit for hours and hours on end. He would walk literally until he dropped. And wherever he dropped he stayed until he was ready to start pacing again. People were always having to walk over and around him. He wouldn't get up or move for anyone. It was pretty funny watching the staff trying to maneuver the med carts and meal carts around his sprawled out body.

MARY: Mary used to hide the TV remote so that no one could change the TV channel. Of course she would first put the TV on the fishing channel....yep the fishing channel. No one could reach high enough to change the TV channels because the TV was high up on a bracket so no one could break it. 15 very bored people would be sitting around watching two old rednecks in a rowboat talking about bass and lures. You gotta give Mary credit she never let the men control the remote.

LOUISE: Louise was the pill spitter. She used to get in the med lineup with the rest of us and then when they handed her her meds she would pop them in her mouth and then turn around and start spitting them one at a time at all the people behind her in the line. She had good speed and distance. I am surprised she didn't put out some one's eye.

ME: okay I guess if I am spilling everyone else's secrets I should tell one about me. I don't suppose anyone would believe that I was the perfect angel of the bunch? No? Ok...I used the patient phone to call the police and tell them I was being held hostage against my will. I gave them the address of the psych hospital and told them they better hurry and come get me because my captors were drugging me and kept tying me down and locking me up in small rooms...not a lie by the way. The police actually came. Apparently they have to check things out if they get a call. So what happened? My captors locked me in a small room for the day. There is no justice for the mental.

...So there you go there are the positive aspects of being at the nuthouse for 3 months. Where else would you ever get a chance to meet such a cast of interesting characters. Never a dull moment...It's a crazy life!


Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Day in the Life

i am manic
crazy too
really crazy, more than you

cant tell whats real
its hard to know
it really makes me want to go

the voices tell me what to do
theyre in my head all day all night
so strange, so wierd, so hard to fight

so weary yet so restless
i go all night, all day
will it ever go away

the doctor says he'll help me
he does his best to try
however i still want to die

the grief, the pain, the torture
for me, family and friends
it surely never ends

on and on and on and on
head spins and spins and spins
here i go, another night begins

another night of fear
of terror and of shaking
a horror movie, right here in the making

shadows are distorted, sinister
i run and i hide
please get me off this ride

sleep is so elusive
each minute is an hour
as i sit here and i cower

everything is scary
the voices say to die
i try to convince myself that it is just a lie

i wait for the sunrise
to tell me night is done
unfortunately another day has begun

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mental Illness is Not For Sissies!

People tend to think of the mentally ill as weak and feeble. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I used to be Heather. Now I am schizo affective, bipolar, mentally ill, unstable, manic, depressed, delusional, psychotic, crazy, strange, borderline, poor, medicated, unmedicated, in crisis, affective, exhibiting symptoms, hospitalized, unemployable, insane, suicidal, anxious or myriad other things. It takes a strong person to fill those shoes and live to tell about it.

Mental illness has a way of creeping in and permeating every aspect of your life. I used to have a great job, make good money, had a house, boyfriend and pretty good life. I was a strong independent adult. Now I don't live on my own, can't sustain employment, lost my house, boyfriend fled. Some illnesses take things from you temporarily. Mental illness takes things away and never gives them back.

So why do I say mental illness is not for sissies? Well think about this. With most illnesses the doctor will say to you how are you feeling today. My doctor says Heather are you hallucinating, are you hearing voices in your head, do you feel like you want to hurt yourself or anyone else? Are you taking your medication? Are you sleeping too much? Are you sleeping too little? Are you hyper sexual? Are you getting along with your boyfriend and your family? Are you suicidal? Do you think about suicide? Are you doing well with your job? Are you telling me the truth? Are you telling me everything? Are you feeling high? Are you drinking alcohol or doing drugs? Are you exercising? Are you isolating? Are you seeing the therapist? see how this is going. Most people don't get interrogated by their doctors they are merely asked how they are feeling today. And try to remember that the wrong answers to these questions can get you locked up in a mental hospital. Try being grilled and having to be on your toes when you are not feeling well. NOT for the faint of heart.

And then there is the TEAM. Oh yes mental people have a team. The team is a bunch of people who I have to answer to because I have a mental illness. Okay here are the people on the team in order of power...the psychiatrist, crisis worker, psychiatric nurse, medical doctor, psychologist, case manager, social worker, therapist, mental health worker. Yep that is 9 people that I have to have appointments with and answer to at any given time. Let me run it down for you...the psychiatrist every 1-3 months, crisis worker when doctor or psychiatrist deems it necessary, psychiatric nurse every 3 weeks, medical doctor every month or more if need be, psychologist for testing when needed, case manager every couple of months, social worker every two weeks, mental health worker every week. I will let you do the math on how many appointments that is in a year...and that is when things are going okay. The number of appointments rises exponentially when the illness rears its ugly head. I have to answer to all of these people and answer their intrusive questions about my life. Imagine having 9 people watching over your shoulder all the time about every aspect of your life...from where you live to how you feel to whether you end up locked up in the psych ward. NOT for sissies!

Mental illness lies to us. It changes our perception of the world and alters our reality. Mental illness constantly whispers in my ear that i am crazy, bad, weak and unworthy. It fails to tell me that I have a physical brain illness. An illness where chemicals and neurotransmitters in my brain have gone awry. Somewhat like hormones or heart rhythms or blood cells go awry in other physical illnesses. So because my illness is a mental illness I am always dealing with false feelings and emotions. I feel sad when there is no reason to feel sad, elated and out of control for no reason. I see things that are not really there. Hear voices when no one is there to speak them. I have thoughts that tell me I am worthless and useless and that my life is without merit. Those of you with mental illness know what strength and courage it takes to battle these false signals every day and keep putting one foot in front of the other. It is hard to cope when every one of your senses is feeding you false information yet we do it.

Mentally ill people do not have the same rights as other people. People with cancer, diabetes, cardiac illness or any other illness can refuse treatment or decide on their own course of treatment. People with mental illness can be arrested by police and forcibly locked up in a mental institution. They can be medicated against their will. They can be injected with drugs against their will. They can be restrained and tied down. They can be locked in seclusion cells for hours or days at a time. Why...because they are ill. Not because they are criminals but because they are ill. We can have a judge decide that we are not allowed to make any decisions; for health, for financial, for legal. A person's family could even sell their home while they are ill. Can you imagine the public outcry if someone who had diabetes was treated like this...someone with a blood disorder?

Not to be overly gloomy or dramatic but lets talk life and death here. Mental illness kills. Notwithstanding the fact that it murders the soul and essence of the person it physically kills. The average life expectancy of someone with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder is 20-25 years less than the that of the average person. Yep 20% less life to live. So if you are going to live to 75 or so, statistically I might make it to 50 or 55. Not exactly a ripe old age. All the things that go hand in hand with mental illness factor into this; poverty, poor diet, smoking, suicide, medications that cause ill health, lack of concern or awareness for ones own safety, being prone to being a victim of violence are just a few. The suicide rates alone for mental illness are staggering. 10% of schizophrenic people will take their own life. Depression claims 15% of its own to suicide and a whopping 20% of bipolar people succumb to suicide. Yes 1 out of every 5 people with bipolar people will take their own lives. And if anyone thinks ending their own life is the easy way out think carefully about what that entails and how one ends up in that place.

All this and society thinks mental illness is hysterical, hilarious, a riot. I admit that mental illness does have its humorous aspects and I am not above a funny mental illness joke but the stigma is NOT funny. How many times on television do you see people laughing at the person who is hearing voices or hallucinating? Laughing because someone is schizophrenic? Making jokes about someone being locked up in a mental hospital?... and trust me being there is not funny. How many times have people laughed and told you about some crazy guy they just saw, or the crazy homeless woman who lives on the corner? That is funny? What reaction would someone get if they came into work and said hey everyone I just saw this woman who must have cancer and she has no hair ah ha ha ha ha? But mental illness is funny and people call each other crazy, bipolar, schizo, nuts, you should be committed, up your medication, et al. Try struggling every day and having people think it is the funniest thing ever. We do it though don't we and we put up with it in good humour and we don't bite people's heads off when they do this. Most of us even manage to laugh at ourselves... a lot. If that doesn't show strength I don't know what does.

So if you don't struggle with mental illness next time you see someone who does, just try to remember that that person is probably one of the strongest people you will ever see. That person battles demons most can't even imagine. If you are a person who lives with mental illness then give yourself a pat on the back. You are ten times stronger than you give yourself credit for. You are a fighter and you are a survivor. That you are here today means you are beating incredible odds. Don't let the beast beat you.