10.22.2005

What's wrong with this country? What's wrong with me?

Monday I went to see my shrink. It had been about 5 weeks since I'd seen her last. Because she had fired me as her therapy client, wanting to switch to 'medication management' meaning we'd only meet once a month. She said I needed more intense and frequent therapy than she could provide. I explained that seeing her twice a month was already more than I could afford and I hadn't found any cheaper services in the area. She said she would look for me. Right. Whatever, I didn't care because the therapy didn't do much anyway.

But I looked forward to this appointment. I was scared of my emotions and the sudden instability. I wanted to talk about it and maybe suggest that I might be some kind of unusual bi-polar. I had a good 3 or 4 weeks. Then suddenly, everything was bad again. I could trace a pattern of good year-bad year all the way back to the 6th grade. She was unimpressed. She wasn't listening. I said, "I feel crazy. I can't control myself. I'm crying for no reason." She gave me a new medication with a lecture about how this one is dangerous so I can't play around with it. I can't just stop taking it like I have some of my other meds. Blah blah. That's why she hadn't given me the scrip earlier. Wrong, I refused to take a new med before now, but ok.

At that point I gave up. I could tell she wasn't interested. She actually told me there wasn't anything else we could do about the depression, but I should try to stay hopeful because I've pulled out of it before. I tried to explain that it was different this time. (P.S. Don't tell a depressive there's nothing she can do but wait it out!!!) I tried to tell her I was scared. It had never lasted this long before and never made me stop caring about everything like this. She dismissed me. Made another appointment. Gave me the scrip. Now I remember that I was wrong, it lasted this long when I was 19-21.

I don't like to think about that time of my life. Nightmare doesn't begin to describe what happened. The panic attacks became regular events the spring of my freshman year. So I went on the Paxil. It made me pass out in the hallway. And I had to drop my art class because my hands shook so badly I couldn't make the stupid squares straight for my color chart. My sophomore year I barely remember. I had some crazy episodes. One night I ripped all the pages out of the phone book, one at a time and threw them out of my dorm window. I drew a mural over my bed with magic markers. I threw dishes out of the window so I could hear them crash. Alienated my best friend and roommate. I remember stacking all the furniture one night. Gained weight. That summer I stayed in Atlanta instead of going home. I lived in a crappy house with a psycho racist control freak, one friend and one acquaintance. I had 3 jobs, waitressing, legal secretary and record promotions intern. No car. No air conditioning. The first few weeks I slept on the floor. I bought myself one knife, fork and spoon and 2 cups. The Olympics were in town. Life was uncomfortable.

Then I met "Nasty". My first college boyfriend. I had a crush on him because he played amazingly beautiful songs at open mic night at the Red Light Cafe. But he looked like Butthead from the Beavis and Butthead cartoon. He even dressed like Butthead. After 2 weeks he scared me with his 'devotion'. He wanted to fly to Arizona with me, I was going to see my mother. We had dated for 2 weeks! He gave me some dorky present too. A homemade necklace with a crystal, a mix tape of himself, and some other junk--he was 28. I wanted out but didn't know how to do it. He was manipulative and passive aggressive. He didn't have a car either and his hippie friends had B.O. But he gave me attention and affection which was new for me. He wrote me songs. That summer, I went psychotic.

All day long my mind said "You should die." A theme with several variations. For months that thought, like an evil voice in my head abused me. I've gone off track of this story....Anyway. I broke up with Nasty finally and after a few days of psychosis I took all my pills. Made sure no one was home. Turned out the lights and lit some candles. I played a Moby song on repeat. I wanted the things in my head to stop. I wanted peace and quiet. If I didn't wake up in the morning even better. Yadda yadda yadda stomach pumped, ended up in the psych ward against my will for 72 hours.

Fly back to Florida for my brother's wedding, stayed with my father to rest and hide from the mess I made in Georgia. Returned to school in the fall and dropped out in October. Ended up living with my mother in Phoenix where I developed a near catatonic depression. I was too depressed to bother with suicide. That was my first bout with agoraphobia. At the time I thought the eery landscape of Arizona caused it. I had grown used to the forested city of Atlanta. This desert place looked like the moon. The sky felt oppressive and I feared it would obliterate me if I went outside. Crazy. Mom took me to a series of mental health professionals, one made house calls. He meant well but suggested I join a gym. Exercise? It was a good day if I got out of my pajamas. Finally my mother checked me into a hospital out-patient program. (These were the good old days when I was on Pops' health insurance.) They put me on Wellbutrin. I went hypomanic about 3 weeks into it. They declared me better and I drove myself back to school in grandpa's car that I inherited. Just in time for the spring semester. Overnight I was better. I had a great year after that.

But, back to the original story. My shrink rushed me out of her office with nary a tissue for my tears. On my way out, I couldn't stop crying so I went to the bathroom to finish it. Locked myself in a stall and sobbed for an hour. Messy, snotty, coughing, loud sobbing. One woman asked if I was allright and did I want her to get help? I told her I was crazy and she just left without a word. This was in a hospital. I did hope she'd return with someone. She didn't. I got tired of standing and went to a waiting room where I called in sick to cancel my classes. Then I stood outside my shrink's office wondering what to do, still crying. I left. Still crying on the street outside the hospital I called my doc and left a message explaining where I was and that she didn't understand the seriousness of my condition. I filled the new scrip for the anti-convulsant Lamictol.

She called back. She asked if I wanted to go to the hospital because that was all she could do. I said yes. She had to check on space and would call me back. She did. She and her supervisor think I should be hospitalized. But I would have to pay for it. There are social workers though who work with patients to help them get medicaid. I told her I make too much money. She said I might need to reduce my income to qualify but once I did it would apply retroactively. I yelled. "I can barely pay my rent as it is! How can I cut my income?" She said, "You need to figure out what you really need right now. You need insurance." "I need a home! That's crazy!" Blah blah, she just wanted to make sure I knew all this before blah blah did I want her to reserve a bed? You couldn't check in until tomorrow...I asked if this was the cheapest hospital. She didn't know.

I sat on the wall facing 9th Avenue. Still crying and holding my sweater tight against the wind. All of this was too complicated. All I knew was that I felt completely unstable, out of control and terrified. My thoughts ran like this: I should be responsible and find the cheapest place instead of just checking in here--What difference does it make? I can't pay it anyway no matter how much. I might qualify for some aid in Jersey, I should look into that. She asked again if I wanted a bed. It was cold and exhaustion from the sobbing set in. I just wanted to go home. Too many decisions. Too complicated. I told her I was going home. I wandered around Chelsea instead. Eventually made my way to Times Square and the short bus.

So, the more I thought about it, the worse this whole thing smells. Apparently, it's standard practice for people to quit jobs so they can get medicaid. Well if I did that then I suppose I'd qualify for food stamps and maybe Section 8 housing assistance too. I DON'T WANT TO LIVE ON WELFARE. What has become of our country? In order to get the care I need, I have to make my situation worse and even more expensive.

My friend gave me another suggestion. His friend works in a public hospital in Brooklyn. He told him how easily one can avoid hospital bills. All I have to do is check in under a fake name and fake social security number. And I should do it at the end of the month when the regulars check themselves out to pick up their disability checks which they spend on crack only to return to the hospital when the money is gone. Public hospitals get government funding according to their number of patients, so at the end of the month they will take anybody to fill beds. They won't even check my fake SSN. I don't much care for that suggestion either.

Both of those scenarios require cheating and severe violations of my integrity. I may be able to cry all over myself in the street in front of the hot dog man and everybody else but I can't stomach that other mess. So I numbed myself and waded through the rest of the week. Not knowing what else to do.

The new drug makes me very drowsy. I didn't shower today or do anything productive because I felt so crappy. While getting changed for bed I noticed all the new bumps on my legs. The doctor told me if I got a rash from the meds I should go to the emergency room because that could kill me. Nice. But these look like hives more than a rash. There is no redness. I read the warning paper from the pharmacist. It says to go to the hospital if a rash develops. But if one has an allergic reaction, extremely rare, just stop taking it. Hives are listed as signs of allergy. So I didn't take the stuff tonight. I'll tell my doc on Monday.

So that's where I'm at. I'm tired of fighting. I'm not suicidal. I'm not feeling hopeless, just frustrated. But my mind is quiet in that blissful and disturbing way. The break from incessant uncontrollable thoughts is nice. But it's creepy too. I'm empty. I have nothing to say to anyone. There's nothing I want to do. I can't think about anything long enough to make any decisions. It's taken me 5 days to write this post and I'm only typing it now because I can't sleep.

This is life. I'll keep slogging on because that's what we have to do. I know I'll be ok eventually. I'm not so sure about this country. Something is going to break and it will be ugly.

14 comments:

Stephen said...

I hope things will get better for you instead of worse and that Columbia is a solution rather than another problem.

I'm all out of ideas, I've only got good wishes left. 

Left by Stephen M (Ethesis)

metamorphose said...

Hi JL. That was quite the post. I almost didn't want to respond, because, what could I possibly say? I can't even imagine what all of that must feel like.

I was talking to a friend who also reads your blog, and she had suggested something about you being bipolar. I agreed. My dermatologist is bipolar, but not classic manic/depressive. Instead, it's something he called cyclic bipolar. I won't see him for a while, but if I do I'll ask him about it and email you. Although, I don't know really if that would be any help. It's just interesting when he talks about it, because it seems different from my aunt, who is classic manic/depressive bipolar. I'm sure there are several different types...I just wish your doctor believed you.

By the way, she seems like a total uber bitch. Maybe not, but shouldn't she at least try to give you some hope instead of more drugs? Maybe that's too difficult a feat.

I don't know if anyone has suggested this recently: get a blessing. Find some sort of priesthood holder and get a blessing.

Hoping for the best.  

Left by Rachel

Raine said...

It seems that you don't want advice, but just need a place to post your thoughts. So, I bid you good wishes, too. Take care.

thevitaminkid said...

I'm new here. I just followed a link from Anna Broadway's blog.

What a place to start reading! :-O I was very moved. I have never suffered this sort of depression, but have had very serious suffering of my own, and my heart and prayers go out to you.

To sum up the obvious: 1) Your therapist doesn't seem to really give a rodent's behind. 2) You don't seem to be reacting very well to these drugs -- you mentioned side effects to other medications. Doesn't leave many options. :-(

I am going to email a science magazine article to you (when I can find it) which you can evaluate as you see fit in your own wisdom -- a new approach using non-toxic substances (i.e. side effects unlikely) that nonetheless have a positive affect on neurotransmitters and receptors.

Your situation sucks. Best of wishes to you.  

Left by eric

JL said...

Thanks everyone. Rachel, I did get a blessing last week. It took 4 days to get someone to come to my house. I asked my mother to find someone in either the english ward here or my spanish ward. The bishop had moved with no forwarding number. She couldn't find anyone and I had no phone numbers. Eventually she called the mission president and got some elders phone number. They were nice guys and it was a lovely blessing. It shouldn't have been so hard, but I've found it usually is. Anyway the blessing eased my fears and told me to go to church.  
Welcome Eric and Raine
Thanks E, we're all out of ideas.
Left by JL

Anonymous said...

Celibate,

Email me at davisbell at gmail.com. The most recent email address I have for you bounced back.



Left by Davis Bell

thevitaminkid said...

As promised, I emailed aforementioned article to your gmail address. It describes a (conceptually) simple therapy developed by two Mormons from Alberta. I hope it will give you at least some insight. 

Left by eric

Chris said...

JL,

My heart goes out to you. I hope that everything begins to work for you. No one deserves to go through what you have.

 

Left by Chris

redlaw said...

JL,

I'm so flad you got the blessing and I hope you had the chance to go to church today. I really wish there was mpre us celibate fans could do for you...please know you're in our thoughts and prayers. 

Left by redlaw

Stephen said...

Indeed. At least we can worry and pray. 

Left by Stephen M (Ethesis)

Anonymous said...

That's what I don't like about the system in the west... often not much compassion, lots of medications. In my experience, you find a lot more compassion from non-western (alternative medicine) practitioners, but of course on the east coast such things aren't covered even if you have insurance. And those therapies can be as hit-or-miss as western medicine.

Best wishes JL. Next time I make it to the temple (Nov), and in the mean time as well, you'll be in my prayers.

Eric, I'm interested in that article if you wouldn't mind shooting it over to me (ged&gednet,com - replace punctuation). :) Thanks.


Left by Jeff

virgin said...

I went through something very similar when I was in university. I've had bouts of depression since then, but nothing quite so dramatic. It really sucks. 

Left by virgin

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for a long time now. I have never respond to anyone's blog.
I am bipolar, and from what you write about, you sound like you are bipolar to. It took a long time before I got a correct diagnosis. All my stuff started when I was 12 yrs old and my mother said nothin' was wrong with me. When I turned 18 I went to a local center that went on a sliding payscale and spoike with a therapist there. No help really! Spoke to my family doc. yrs later, they ran all the tests to see if it was thyroid, ect. and he suggested I suffered from depression and put me on meds. I took them for awhile and then stopped. Then went to another doc. a couple yrs. later, again didn't go into a deep diagnosis, just put me on some more meds. Again, same thing, took for a lil' while then stopped. Finally 2yrs ago, I was having some major metal issues, and found a very good doc. went through some great diagnosis' and found out I was bipolar. On meds for a year, and then I stopped again. (BIG sign of bipolar, stopping meds)
What I think I am trying to get to is that you may need to search around for a better doc. the doc u got sounds like some I have had in the past, don't wanna take the time to actually find the correct diagnosis for the patient! I got so discouraged each time I had went previously only to find that they weren't helping me the way I felt they should. I know you money is a big issue for you. I just hope maybe you could find someone who will listen to you! (Sorry for the long response!!!) 

Left by Jamie

Anonymous said...

JL,

I'm new here, too. Although I've read your blog before, I've never felt compelled to write anything until now. Somehow I feel unqualified to offer any advice or counsel. I've never experienced severe depression the way textbooks describe. I have been acquainted however, with the most excruciating grief -- the kind of pain, agony, and emptiness that most assuredly accompanies a loss of someone to depression. My sister committed suicide after battling depression from the time she was in junior high until she died in her mid-twenties. If given the chance, there are a million things I would tell her… about how much she is loved, how sorely she is missed, and how I would do anything to go back and change what was done. I can’t.

I just wish she would have stayed on her medication and taken it as it was prescribed. I wish she would have gotten out of her “therapeutic relationships” with “professionals” that weren’t helpful and instead spent time with those counselors, and therapists that were, regardless of the cost. Health insurance, especially mental health insurance is complicated and bills are a reality. All that I understand…what I don’t understand sometimes is why I can’t pick up the phone and call her to tell her about the latest boy drama in my life, or why she hasn’t there for graduation, the birth of my niece and nephew, or brother’s wedding. JL, please hang in there. If the therapist you have isn’t helping – please find a new one. Easier said than done, I’m sure. Many times local church leaders know where to access good mental health resources. Also, your friend is right about the city psychiatric ERs. Bellevue and Harlem are two city hospitals that are required to provide care regardless of insurance status. 1-800-273-TALK (8255) also might be able to refer you to places that provide care on a sliding fee scale. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Please, hang in there and don’t give up.
 

Left by KD