Tag Archives: Mental Health

The last 2-ish weeks (the catch-up post) or, how I learned to stop worrying and embrace being in a psych ward.

This is a follow on from where I explained Friday Sept 28th; you know, where I got dumped, sectioned, evicted and had the police called on me twice all in one day.

That weekend, I stayed with my friend from work and that was not great, but it meant I was safe from roomie Gilbo for a day or so and that was a big relief.

Later on Saturday afternoon, I got a call from a GF at work, Bel, asking if I was up to going with her to visit a mutual work friend for drinks and cheese, and I jumped at it. She drove to get me and she and I both took our dogs and went to visit our lovely friend Will.

Will had purchased a massive bottle of JD which he and I jumped into (Bel was driving) and the 3 of us spent the evening dressing up in Will’s drag queen costumes and catching up as I had not seen either of them in weeks. Bel left around 2am but I stayed and Will and I took some Ritalin and Xanax and finished the bottle of Jack Daniels and had one of those nights where you really talk about stuff that ‘matters’ (you know, when you are really drunk and high and say stuff you probably shouldn’t and then it’s awkward in the morning?).

The worst part was that Will lives a long way from where I was staying and I had my dog and needed to catch 2 trains to get home and it was stinking hot and I was worn out from lack of sleep and starting to sober up by the time I left.

When I eventually got back to where I was staying, Gilbo had sent a text:

I have put all of your belongings on the front porch. If not collected by tomorrow I will have them collected.

Definitely evicted.

(For anybody wondering, no it is not legal for him to do that, I was only 1 working day late with the rent, he violated laws by entering my room and touching my things, he should have given me notice irrespective of rent and he had possession of my bond but, it isn’t a police matter and I was not up to the arguing/horrible stuff that was going to happen if I tried to get back into the house).

On Monday morning, friend-from-work told me I couldn’t stay there any longer – and I knew that – but he was good enough to drop my dog at the neighbour’s house and then me at the hospital for my outpatient (mental health) appointment.

The appointment led to the psychiatrist telling me that he was not happy to let me go and that the events of the weekend were too much and that he wanted me in hospital. A nurse drove me to the neighbour’s house and they agreed to take care of my dog for what was going to be a 3-day hospital visit at that point, but there was 2 of them and they went to my house and loaded up all of my belongings into the car for me. Sometimes, people are incredibly generous and the 2 nurses put up with Gilbo’s rudeness (he just stood there, drinking and staring at them apparently and didn’t life a finger to help).

Not long after, I was in the emergency psych ward (PECC) with every belonging I had in the world locked up in a storeroom.

The worst thing about hospital stay is the boredom and the worst thing about psych hospital stay is the being locked in so you can’t even go and buy a coffee or have a cigarette or anything like that. At least for the first 24 hours. It was tough and I cried a lot and I ate and slept.

Day 3/72 hours came and the psych decided that I needed to be transferred to the general psych ward for an indeterminate stay and so, all of my belongings were transferred, as was I.

I actually made a good friend in the ward, a young bi-polar guy, and we had far too good a time discussing the absurdity of life in a psych ward and managed to get alcohol inside a couple of times and got terribly drunk while trying to pretend that we weren’t so we wouldn’t be caught by the staff and we snuck cigarettes in the girls bathroom (3 women in ward as opposed to around 12 men) and generally behaved like we were on a high school camp only, we couldn’t leave and, the rest of the class was bat-shit crazy and the staff had control issues and were there only to ensure we behaved ourselves and didn’t have any fun at all– definitely, exactly like school camp.

Psych wards are a tedium of waiting – to see doctors, for food (helps structure the day and reassure one that time is indeed passing) – I ate so much food that I am actually on the cusp of fat right now, yuck – and for meds. There is no therapy or anything of that nature, it is a containment model only and it is slow and frustrating. There is no internet access and you don’t have your phone. There is a TV room (they did let me bring in my hard drive with a bunch of TV shows and films to watch) a kitchen, a courtyard (still no smoking) and after a day or so you get a couple of short, 30 minute breaks outside whereby you can smoke and go to the local store.

All up, I spent 13 days in hospital. Because I had no internet, I couldn’t look into housing and the looming reality that every item I owned in the world together with myself was going to be placed on the street and left to my own devices was looming.

I actually had a meltdown about a week in when the doctors were pushing me to come up with a solution to my housing crisis and refusing to listen when I tried to explain that I couldn’t actually do anything while I was locked down but leaving meant going out into the reality of being homeless. After yelling at the social worker, they locked me in a room with the social worker and a doctor and drilled me on what I was going to do and I lost it completely … I spent the day in a corner of my room crying and they medicated me with valium and left me alone for 2 days.

The most inaccurate perception that psychiatrists seem to have (as I see it) is that if you are seen smiling, happy or laughing, then that means that you are ‘better’.

There seem to be 2 types of psych patients; those who have ongoing issues that affect their ability to deal with the very basics of life and which often leave them delusional and sometimes dangerous, and those who have ongoing issues but who can ‘manage’ for the most part. With the former, they medicate heavily and lock up/down for long periods of time and often and with the latter they medicate and wait for the crisis to pass and then release. The ward I was in had an adjacent ‘acute’ ward (we were ‘sub’ acute, a singularly stupid term if ever there was one) where the serious cases go, often being transferred to the regular ward when they are feeling ‘better’.

The other patients are what makes rehab and psych stays bearable. This place was no exception. But I saw some things this time around that were disturbing and frightening.

The first was a woman, around my age, who was in the acute ward but who was allowed out for smoke breaks. She is in a wheelchair and has only one arm and no legs. She has one prosthetic leg and I assume they are working on the other. She has zero bladder control and whenever I passed through the acute ward the smell of urine was overpowering.

This woman’s physical handicaps are not the issue per se, I mention them only because of how they came to be: she jumped in front of a train and lived. My worst nightmare: surviving a jump and being disabled/brain-damaged forever, it’s why I don’t jump. I felt horrified and being faced with my own worst nightmare and horrified at myself for reducing this woman to being a representation of my worst nightmare. I struggled with this every time I saw her.

There were also some entertaining personalities, like the boy who thought his computer is god and who has made an entire religion around it, he was very, very sweet and harmless but comes under the umbrella of un-fixable and spends more time in the ward than out of it.

On around day 5, a gorgeous young blonde girl was brought in and within 45 minutes, she realised that she was not going to be allowed outside to smoke or allowed to use her phone or allowed to do anything really and she had a complete and total meltdown. She kept screaming “I am not a dog, you can’t do this”. It was obviously her first time at experiencing the loss of power that is incarceration and it tends to hit hard. I tried to talk to her but she was too upset and the staff eventually turned up and medicated her and put her into acute for 3 days where I could see her through the window wandering around in a daze. She came back to use for one night and then was released. Funny thing is I saw her yesterday at the train station and she was all dressed and made up and looked absolutely stunning – we hugged, it was weird. I doubt she will ever be back in a ward but I also doubt that she will get over that feeling of being at the mercy of somebody else’s whim.

Victims of violent crime (I am using this word loosely and I apologise to anybody who has survived a violent crime and prefers a different term, I mean it in the literal sense rather than the descriptive) have said that one of the worst aspects of being a victim is the knowledge that comes with understanding that somebody else can take away your personal power and hurt/impose/destroy you if they wish. There is an unspoken link between this loss and being incarcerated, it is one of the scars that doesn’t leave.

Which nearly brings us up to date

The day before I was being released. I still had nowhere to go. I was talking about it with a fellow patient when his visitor asked about my situation and offered, very kindly to let me stay with him for a week or so. Sometimes, people just blow me away with their kindness.

A is schizophrenic and a drug user and pretty much a broken man. He has this tiny unit which is filthy and disgusting and disorganised and there is barely room for him but he has made room for me in order to help out. Not only that, but when I was released, he drove to collect me and put all of my stuff in his car and gave me at least a base to think from.

As I have posted, this place has proven to be problematic and I desperately need to get out but I am entirely grateful to A.

I am looking for new digs, trying to shake off the humiliation from the Pup both during our BU and last night when he didn’t take my call. Trying to shake of the humiliation from the ex who sent those dreadful emails a couple of weeks back. Trying to shake off the humiliation of not having a home for the first time in my life and trying to shake off the humiliation that comes with losing your own power in an institution.

I tend to laugh a lot. I am a giggler. My sense of shame does not disappear just because I laugh. It is written all over my body through my scars.

The best thing that has come from all of this, besides having the chance to connect with some people in quite a special way, is that I called both of my sons and told them what had happened. Neither of my boys has ever really known about the seriousness of my issues. They lived through it once when I destroyed a previous life (much like what is happening now) and they got dragged into it because they were only teenagers at the time but even then, they had no idea the real extent (although what they saw and experienced was bad enough). They are both men now and I made the decision to tell them about the past two weeks because they need to stop thinking of their mother as ‘quirky’ for their sake as well as mine. I will write some more about this another time as I think it is important.

But for now, it is today.

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Splitting?

I don’t understand splitting.

oz

I have read the DSMV criteria and I have read others’ accounts but I can honestly say that I haven’t understood how this applies to me. In fact, I assumed this was another one of the criteria that didn’t apply to me.

But, recently, I have begun to realise that I do split … I certainly split my family/friends/colleagues but, because these relationships are all-but meaningless to me, I guess I overlooked them. For me, my BPD comes out in all its glory mainly in romantic attachments and as I say this I really want to emphasise that I mean ALL it’s glory — the self-harm, crazy-behaviour, fear of abandonment etc .. it all comes to the forefront in romantic and sexual attachments. I know that I split/betray/abandon other core relationships but, that doesn’t really bother me, if somebody pisses me off or challenges me or bores me then I move on — but not with my romantic partners, with them, I am stuck, and I ruminate and I self-harm and I cannot let go. They are more affective if you like.

I have thought about how I don’t seem to split my ex’s. It doesn’t matter how they have treated me or how terribly things ended, I don’t automatically split them black and just ‘move on’ like (apparently) most pwBPD do.

What I have come to realise is that I DO actually split black — only, I split myself black.

When I am (inevitably) discarded, abused, abandoned by yet another lover, I continue to adore them and hate myself. I hold myself (and am currently holding myself) accountable for everything that went wrong. I am not young/pretty/thin/amusing/healthy/stable/whatever enough to have held the attention of my lover. I am disgusting, revolting, dirty, hideous, sad, empty, unlovable and deserve everything that is happening. How could someone as wonderful as my love object ever be attracted to someone like me beyond the initial infatuation?

This always manifests physically as well. I go from being reasonably fit and functioning to being addicted, overwhelmed and at the mercy of my emotions and circumstances. How have I not seen this before? I am not speaking in metaphors here, I have literally gone from being on the top of my game to being all-but homeless; from being attractive, educated and charming to a dithering nothing who can barely function.

carnivale2

 

I am unsure if this realisation is good/bad/indifferent — it’s just another recognition that I am far from healthy where love is concerned I guess.


Screaming on the inside

Saito_explosion

I am finding it increasingly difficult to moderate what is going on inside to what comes out on the outside. 

Usually, my public ‘persona’ works pretty well .. she clicks into place and manages to turn my weird thoughts into charming sarcasm but lately this is failing me .. I made a grown man blush tonight … I couldn’t stop the thoughts in my head forming sentences in my mouth .. I am getting more provocative by the day and I can’t seem to stop.

This wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that this is happening at work .. I am falling apart and I don’t know how to stop that from happening. I KNOW it’s just a matter of time before something really bad happens.

Something really bad always happens.


D-day

All things truly wicked start from innocence

Ernest Hemingway

Today is the anniversary of the first time I met my ex in the flesh. We had spent months and months desiring and craving each other .. wanting to be together … thinking it would never happen. But, it did. And today marks that date for the first time … and I have been in crash position all week knowing that it was coming.

I have cried and raged inside, I have tried to understand and forgive and I have considered revenge. It has been a week of reckoning really. Every pwBPD knows what I am talking about when I use the word betrayal. It gets referred to as abuse, but we don’t know what abuse is when we are that young, we simply feel the betrayal; the sense that someone else saw who we were and decided that the only response they could muster was to trample on it, use it, throw it away.

Aren’t we all just children who were thrown in the trash? We keep trying to find our way out but we don’t know how. Every time this is repeated, we are reassured that this is where belong; that our feelings don’t matter, our desires are futile, that the world doesn’t hear us or care … every person who throws us away is just reinforcing what we already knew .. but it never stops hurting as much as the first time .. it never, ever stops hurting.

Happy Anniversary lover .. and fuck you.


Why don’t you just ….

What is it with therapists

finger

that, after explaining self-sabotage and/or problems, they answer with something along the lines of “Why don’t you just pay the bill/apply for the house/stick at it and see how things pan out?” … etc ….

What don’t they get about the fact that I (we) KNOW what we should be doing, we understand what is necessary but, we are failing to do it – hence the therapy.

Out of the last 4/5 therapists I have spoken to over the previous 4 months or so, at least 3 of them have social work backgrounds – what is that about? Forgive me for saying so but wtf does social work have to do with therapy?

It is disheartening to have somebody offer ‘solutions’ to problems as though said solutions were otherwise unapparent … and/or to suggest that drinking too much is ‘bad’ for me – really? Because … uhm … thing is, there are meds that are better for me and which offer the same emotional relief but as nobody is going to prescribe these, that leaves me with alcohol and bad decisions.


Paging Dr Freud

Given that DBT is not working out for me at this time,

zizek

I touched base with the Sydney Institute of Psychoanalysis a few weeks back and got a call this morning for 2 initial sessions with a psychoanalyst.

I have no experience with psychoanalysis and I have limited experience with therapy in general.

I think I exhibit what the pros call “therapy resistant behaviour”, but in all honesty, therapists just usually manage to piss me off pretty damn quickly for a variety of reasons:

1: They can be so damn patronising – any therapist who listens and nods and then asks me “how I feel about that” is just asking to be repeatedly stabbed with a blunt spoon …

2: They can also be seriously invalidating. The few times I HAVE tried therapy, I have been told very early on that given ‘my circumstances’ I am coping/managing extremely well and I am obviously intelligent, resourceful .. blah .. blah .. blah .. as soon as they start with this schtick, I know it aint gonna work.

3: I yearn for a therapist like Tony Soprano’s Dr Melphi or, The Gabriel Byrne character from In Treatment … a T that will see into my soul and make insightful analyses (yes, I realise that this is unrealistic but .. just once, I would like a T to acknowledge that the fact that I can hold down a career – for a while – and am reasonably well-read – does not preclude the fact that the rest of my life is a series of spectacular messes).

I ALREADY have some doubts about the new therapist – I googled her and she has a degree in social work, not psychology … this raises a red flag immediately because my current hospital T is a social worker and she is lovely and all but she wants to spend time on practical, applicable stuff. So, it is be really important that I find new accommodation right now, and I know that. I know what I have to do, I am not an idiot, the problem is that I am completely shut down and just can’t push myself to do it … so, her giving me practical advice on the steps to take is just plain patronising … (see #1). I don’t need help with figuring out HOW to find a place to live, I need help with figuring out WHY I am unable to push myself to do it, or anything that is pressing, without my head imploding.

So, the fact that the new T is a social worker is a bit of a worry.

I have done some rudimentary (read googling) research on BPD and psychoanalysis and the results seem to be inconclusive … but, given the fact that my PD makes the most sense to me when considered through the lens of PSA, I am hopeful.

I am going in there with as much of an open mind as I can. I would really like to find a therapy that has impact.

To be continued …..


I got bitch slapped by the hospital and didn’t even get a fucking t-shirt

As I mentioned in an earlier post, DBT was not looking like a good fit for me right now. 

bitch-slap3

 

I haven’t been back to my group in a few weeks but my individual therapist has been calling and when I didn’t respond, things got amped up and I was getting a few calls a day from a variety of hospital staff so, I called back the other day and agreed to go in and see somebody today to check in.

One of the things I have made an effort to do this time with the psychiatrists and therapists I am involved with is to be honest – and this is easier said than done. If anyone reading this has had the experience of being sectioned then you will know what I mean – you learn, very quickly to avoid being honest AT ALL COSTS and to tell the resident psych whatever it is they s/he needs to hear in order to get your ass released … he holds the keys to freedom and your lies are the only way out the gate.

I also got frustrated and ultimately bored of being told I was ‘depressed’ .. uhm .. no shit Sherlock, I just tried to kill myself… but depression is not the whole story … depression is a culmination of everything coming to a head, yet again, that I am to blame for it all. It seems a fairly understandable response to me (albeit not a popular one).

The point being; I have never given therapy or therapists a proper chance because the couple of therapists I have seen – outside of emergency psych units – cannot seem to get past telling me how “normal’ I am, how “productive” or even “successful” … as soon as they go down this pathway, I shut down because they are obviously not listening to me and I just can’t be bothered … it is also incredibly invalidating to tell somebody that you have developed a drug addiction, destroyed your relationship, lost your job and are trying to resist the urge to simply pack up and move to Brazil and have them allude to what degrees you have or what jobs you have had. It becomes obvious that they don’t get it.

So, I went to the appointment today as I promised I would and while I was there, the case worker/person/thingie got all in my face about my drinking (I have been honest, as stated) and my mood/circumstances etc .. she wasn’t aggressive but she pushed .. and I broke down.

She then went to get the psych resident and asked him to section me .. god .. I hit panic stations .. I tried to remain calm as best I could and pleaded with them that my job depends upon me getting there, my dog needs me and if I lose her .. I lose everything.

So now I am on a short leash – they are going to call every day for the next 3 days, I have an appointment with the psych for a 2-hour session and they made an appointment for me to attend an induction with the drug and alcohol unit … I am feeling completely smothered and engulfed. I can’t simply not do any of these things as they know where I live and I have no doubts whatsoever that they will turn up here if I try to vanish.

I understand that they are only trying to do their jobs and I am not angry or upset with them, just at the situation and the feeling that I am being watched and judged.

btvs