Decided to create a blog as writing is my best attempt at talking; it’s also my mental health ‘risky behaviour’. It also seems to be escalating; first I sent some friends some crazy emails, earlier this week I joined Twitter (it was pretty easy to figure out) but now egad I’ve decided to attempt creating a blog, primarily to update all of my other friends whom may or may not even know I am not at work and may or may not have heard of my March Break Adventures…
To summarize; the medical community will tell you I suffer from a mental health disorder or multiple ones, it’s still TBD pending other higher priority issues such as other psych assessments & other more critical issues such as H1N1 outbreaks perhaps?
But in my opinion I’m not like anyone else, I just have some health issues. Right now, but subject to change (perhaps owing to still being in a bit of a heightened state?) I believe I have a mental health benefit; it’s not unlike my physical health benefits of pain in the form of a cold/flu or feet that start killing me. It’s my body & minds way of telling me I need to either slow down and de-stress or I need to speed up and expedite management of my emotional health & well being. I’m different; I’m just not that different from anyone else. I just have a different life experience, different genetics and other factors that make up my personality. I do have a personality disorder or two for sure but then again so do you.
A ‘brief’ history of events leading up to my version of a National Lampoon’s March break vacation.
In 2008 I had my first episode of to me relatively major depression, it lasted ~9-months and I went to an ER for help; they redirected me to CAMH where I was given a diagnosis of ‘mild depression’ and told to get me some antidepressants. I believe antidepressants helped me but I’m not inclined to say it wasn’t just a result of the ‘placebo’ effect; someone let me know I wasn’t insane or all that different or special because I was miserable, and they offered something that might help. That helped and I took them on and off until 2010. A good prescription druggie knows that you should just stay on them and not go on and off, but I also had a physician who gave me the message I was just a selfish pill popper who was strongly against prescribing me anything to help. To be fair I don’t tend to ask for help until it’s a bit too late but his message combined with additional attempts at therapy and more conflicting messages ‘there’s nothing I can do, you just need to be on drugs’ from one, and another who told me ‘I don’t like just suggesting drugs but it’s something we’ll talk about’ in the first session and ‘why didn’t you get a prescription from your physician’ in the second session the following week gave me more than enough evidence to decide there wasn’t much help or support available to me via the mental health system. I believe I still have a few bottles of antidepressants stockpiled upstairs just in case I ever get depressed again and happen to have a physician who wants to call me a selfish pill popper; but I think I’ll throw those out now as I’ve already found my non-drug solution to managing depression (more in a later blog perhaps?).
Anyway depression for me has been at worst of the ‘nuisance’ variety level of life issues since 2010, so since that’s not much of an issue anymore I decided to go get me some hypomania and a Bi-polar II disorder diagnosis with a doctor’s indication that antidepressants were terrible for me, I could never take them again and I needed to be on Lithium for the rest of my life.
I didn’t know this also meant I’d be subject to quarterly lectures that left me feeling like I was also mentally incompetent as well (yes I smoke, but I actually do not do so because I think it’s in the best interest of my health! I can read the messages on the cigarette packages, I’m aware of the Internet and I believe the general consensus that smoking is unhealthy was largely agreed upon before I was even born. I’m up to speed on the smoking issue, but thanks for the lectures…). So after ~2-years of deteriorating self confidence, self worth and zero benefits to lithium that I could tell I quit my lithium drug habit and ended the lectures in March 2012. I am a bit concerned that following my 2014 assessments my medical records will indicate that I am not willing and/or ready to address my mental health issues because I stopped drugging myself and I started saving myself from the degrading quarterly lectures that left me feeling hopeless & helpless.
In December 2014 I had a Mirena IUD inserted in order to (hopefully) regulate my monthly mood swings and physical pain associated with being female. I believe that significantly escalated my mood swings to a rather spectacular, very interesting and fascinating but also a little terrifying level which I’d best self assess as Acute Psychosis; except I didn’t hallucinate I wasn’t delusional and it made me see the thought disorders I’ve been living with for decades along with some of the explanations and ‘evidence’. If a psychiatrist wants to label me with any of these symptoms I will be fine with that assessment as long as he’s willing to sort through all of my evidence and provide just as strong counter evidence to help me better understand my condition. I can explain almost everything I said and I have written documentation and evidence for all of it but I might not be able to gather and/or summarize all of it before May. I’d also like to review with him or her all of the existing Mental health disorder labels and understand why I’m best categorized via the label he/she decides to stick me with for the next 50 years of my life.
Mental health label rant aside, there was a lot of stress in my life, work, a potential promotion, life, tragedies, Winter Olympics and Curling Bonspiels to play in. I’m not being silly and/or stupid ‘stress’ is not a negative thing, excitement is stress and worry is stress. Life without stress would be too boring for me but going forward I’ll avoid having quite that much fun as I’d rather not scare my friends/family so much and I’d really, really, really not like to have my independence, freedom & rights taken from me ever again.
So back to my wild March Break Adventure! I hadn’t slept properly for at least two months prior and sleep kept getting more and more difficult to come by, so I took a week off at the beginning of Feb for some R&R in Cuba. It helped a bit but didn’t help me sleep in past 3am and too much heat & sun while generally good in the Winter (owing to depression); are very detrimental to me in a heighted state so this likely made things a lot worse too. My bad. Work was pretty stressful following my return; but owing to my heightened state this was super fun, I was taking on all sorts of additional responsibilities and I think I did a half decent job. But I also have and had a lot of other additional ‘negative’ stressors in my life at the time and work was ultimately just providing a distraction for my real stress.
I had planned to have my mental health breakdown the weekend after the curling bonspiel I helped organize teams for and after my VP was back in the Country and in the office. I had also planned to crash and be better in time for work on Monday. Opps! It seems this wasn’t one of my better plans -:). So I stressed myself out more extensively by figuring out how to explain I would not be in on Monday but I’ve also been experiencing some rapid cycling which is also net new and kinda crazy so while I was coming down and ultimately ‘crashing’ (crashing to me in this state means distressing enough so I can feel exhausted and just curl up and sleep for 15 hours or so & ‘normalize’ my sleep schedule in order so that my mental health will ‘normalize’ very soon afterwards.
But on Monday March 3rd my laptop and ipad stopped working; and as technology was my one last link to the outside world until normalizing (as I was afraid I would ‘harm’ people by stressing them out by being all crazy and shit and also by putting unnecessary additional strain on our health care system and myself as I believe it’s just going to ‘harm’ me and do far more additional damage than good. I wasn’t disappointed, I think it did but I didn’t have a clue how much additional information, insights and benefits I would get from the experience. I also didn’t know how much fun it is on the inside! Someone tell our Mayor it can actually be a pretty good time but you should probably also tell him to leave the crack at home otherwise you wont be allowed outside or alternatively you’ll be kicked back out and onto the streets… I think Jail is also an alternative solution for people in our society who aren’t ready for help. I believe our mental health care system & polices encourage jail as an alternative to psych wards for those who are not quite ready to get help yet. Any bets as to which option our Mayor choses first?
I went in to see my physician on Monday March 3rd and booked a hotel room for the evening so I didn’t have to come back to my house of weekend isolation. On Tuesday March 4th I scared my friends a bit too much with my crazy emails and crazy thoughts so I told them I would go to the ER if that’s what they & my physician thought was necessary to do. I’d already been seeing my physician regularly in Feb so she knew I was having significant sleep issues (she prescribed me the least risky sleeping pills as this was my decision but sleeping pills just make me feel terrible the next day and they only allow me an extra ~30-90 min of sleeping in time so not really a solution). She had already set up therapists and psychiatry appointments for me and was trying to expidite them but they decided on Tuesday that I should go to the ER. My doctor sent me to the ER where at the same hospital where she had set up my psych consult for; I believe she thought I could get in to the main floor ER and my 9th floor appointment could be expedited even quicker than she had hoped if she followed up my detest and distain but willingness for one more ER visit with a form 1. I’ve never heard of this before but practically speaking it essentially means you are being police escorted to the ER against your will. Which also in practice at least in my perception most people within the healthcare system and all of those who consider themselves ‘unqualified’ did and/or will believe to mean I posed a risk to society; either self-harm or other harm. Not untrue if you consider the harm I’ve done to my body owing to no sleep and forgetting to eat enough and equally not untrue if you consider the additional stress and anxiety I’ve caused for those who I did let know what was going on in the past three weeks. But I really, really hope I don’t have to work so hard to convince the rest of the people in my life that There is Nothing Wrong with Me & this was actually a pretty spectacular adventure! It had everything; the drama factor, the fear factor the excitement and elation. But most of all it taught me that I’ve got a lot more worth fighting for than just my work problem solving skills and the paycheck that allows me to maintain my independence, rights & freedoms that damn it I deserve because I am Canadian!!
ps – my sister flew in and helped planned my escape from Alcatraz (by this point I was considered voluntary and allowed outside for some fresh air for brief periods of relief and feeling human time). The 2-ER visit day was hell; getting locked up in a psych ward and stripped of my ability to make choices for myself has probably been my biggest life’s fear so it wasn’t all fun but I’m flexible, I adjusted and survived and had a great deal of fun doing so but I wasn’t prepared to wait another week and a half for the doctors to come back from their march skiing vacation so I could get assessed and released. But I’ll be going back (in May?) to find out if/what new mental health stigma they want to give me in my medical records but work wants me back and doesn’t feel the need to wait for this assessment and has indicated that I wont be punished for not complying with their ‘action plan’ of some more stupid drugs that will harm me. And as long as my current physician sticks around and keeps seeing me I’m totally fine with what ever net new negative stigma they want to give me; but I’d prefer to get them all (I think it’s just fair to assume I’d totally rock the post partum thing too but I just don’t think I can do it before May so how about we just have a little faith?).
FYI #1 – my physician has set me up with a really good therapist already and yesterday we talked about chiropractic, natopathic, massage and physiotherapy; an overall health & wellbeing approach that will work for me because it will also work with me & I’ll get a voice in matters related to my health & well being.
FYI #2 – I got the Mirena IUD out last Wednesday, got my period on Saturday and felt completely back to normal. That only lasted so long though, but that’s ok I’m still dealing with a lot of unresolved stress and anxiety but I’ve already resolved a heck of a lot of it & I won’t be back to a ‘normal’ life that requires ‘normal’ sleep for a while so I’ll just be a terrible, terrible sleeper and take naps, go to sleep when I am tired and not adhere to the action plan you might want to tell me I should because that’s what you’ll find when you Google sleep disorders. Trust me, I’ve probably already read that article anyway!
Anyway there’s a lot more to my ow personal version of One Who Flew Over the Cukoo’s nest during March Break but that’s enough for today; I’m trying to balance things better so I am going to go paint and clean and I have an orthodics appointment before my grand return to volleyball tonight; enough excitement & stress distractions already planned for the day (but I suspect I’ll have to check my new twitter addiction a few times too :).