Wow, I sure am glad I am not locked up

I just mouthed off at someone real bad.  Never been like this before, ever.    I didn’t swear or anything, but you could say I was over the top.  I wasn’t shouting but I was angry and wouldn’t let her have a word in.  I didn’t even know who this lady was.  She was only doing her job.

This is not, not, not good.

I am so glad I’m not locked up right now.  If I had been in the slammer acting like this, they would have given me drugs for sure.  I would have refused them.  You know how these people are.  Or maybe you don’t.  They provoke you, say stuff that makes you feel like you’re shit.  I am not shit.

I feel confused cuz all day long I’ve been telling myself how great it is to be so much calmer off the Imipramine.  Now this.  All I could do was to sob afterward and feel very, very alone.

I wanted someone to be with me, but then again, I didn’t.  People who see me sobbing end up dumping me as friends.  Remember that song by James Taylor, “You’ve got a friend”? It’s all bullshit.  “When you’re down and troubled” is the time when you should NOT go to your friends for support and guidance.  They will run in the opposite direction when you need them most and you will never see them again.  This is NOT a time to call your therapist, if you have one, because they won’t call back for five or six hours, or not call back at all, and when they do, they will just yell at you for something irrelevant, and hang up.

I lay down on my couch and cried and cried and decided I didn’t want to shut up.  I have good reason to cry and I’m not bothering anyone.  No staff are around to censor me or give me coping skills.  I don’t want coping skills.  I want to cry.

That poor lady.

I am tired.

 

Hello, month of May

I must say, I am still feeling fairly decent, knowing that the hell I went through in April was not “me being sick” but something done to me by the chemicals meant to treat “me being sick.”  And now, I’m doing less chemicals, so I’m happy about that.

I just did my budget and found out I’m more broke than I thought I was.   I went into the red last month.  At best, it will take not a few months, but two years to pay off my credit cards.  Every time I board Puzzle, it wipes out all my progress and then some.

So I showed up at the gym Sunday, anyway, and I was going to re-do my membership, and now I’m relieved that the membership person wasn’t there.   The guy let me go in and work out for free.

Wow.  Where have I been all this time?  Sitting here doing literally nothing for a month you’d think I wouldn’t be able to do a darned thing over at the gym, but I kinda surprised myself.   I had a good time on the treadmill and then did the elliptical for a bit.  I can’t even begin to describe what it was like to be exercising again.  I walked on the treadmill faster than I can walk with Puzzle, and the exercise on the elliptical, I must say, is much more vigorous than walking.  I wondered if I’d really experienced any joy at all since I was told to stop running, period, last May.   Maybe that’s why afterward, I crashed real bad, just thinking about the fact that it was maybe a year ago that I was running up to five miles a day.

The acupuncturist said  that they can do things to help me with my knee and I might be able to run again.  You know, I never got a second opinion last year.  I resigned, threw in the towel, gave up.  It was completely horrible when my T told me how great is was that this had happened, because it would slow me down.

I never, ever justified what she said.  Looking back, when I was running in the fall of 2010, preparing for my first (and I hope not only) 5k race, I felt damn good.  I ate fine.  I ate a lot, in fact.  Go back and read my entries, things I said about how proud I was to have a strong body.  The T I had didn’t force me into these babyish “weekly weight checks,” in other words, I was treated like a responsible adult…say what?  I am an adult.  Then I switched therapists.  My new T didn’t understand my running, and immediately went under the assumption that I used my running to overexercise.   I guess “running” equals “overexercise” and “yoga” equals “recovery exercise”?  How cliche.  I don’t like yoga.  I took a yoga class once and felt fat and bored.  To each his own.   So when I had to stop running, she kept pushing the yoga and “healthy exercise” on me.

So, let me get this straight.  She, and a lot of other ED specialist types, claim that yoga is something you do after you are recovered, and running is something you did when you were sick and burning calories.  This is a gigantic assumption and blanket generalization on their part, don’t you think?  If I had a therapist who was a runner herself or himself, it would be a whole different ball game, don’t you think?  Only a runner understands the magic in it.  When I was running, I left behind weight, body size, and calories, and spent about thirteen laps kicking ass in the sunrise.

So in December, when I ran my 5k, my T never, ever understood.  And then I crashed.  How could this relationship have possibly worked at all when there was such misunderstanding right from the start?

I used to bring my lunch to her office and eat it before our sessions.  Nice timing, cuz the sessions started at 1pm.  I found out later that she assumed I was being deceptive and that I was throwing up in the bathroom right before our sessions.  It took ages to straighten this one out.  No, I wasn’t overexercising, no, I wasn’t throwing up, in fact, I was doing damn well until she started not trusting me, not respecting me, putting me down, and treating me like a child.  I started therapy with this woman in November 2010, and even in March and April of 2011 she still accused me of lying about being unable to vomit.  So now I get why this therapist was not much use to me.

As I said in my comment to John (see sidebar) I plan to write an article about “informed consent” in care.  This would cover the issue of trust as well, because it goes both ways, don’t you think?  “Informed consent” means a lot.  It means stuff like knowing why you are being given a med and knowing all the side effects.  So if they’re giving a patient Seroquel and telling this patient it’s for anxiety, but behind this patient’s back they’re thinking, “Gee, it’ll increase his/her appetite!” well, the patient needs to know this motive.  I’ve thought a lot about this one.  If it’s “for my own good” then by all means, I deserve to know.  I believe a patient should know what he or she weighs and that this should not be kept hidden.  I could go on and on about this.  When I write my article, I will present a good argument that treating a patient with respect and dignity means informed consent, honesty, and trust.

So anyway, I’m going to figure out how to join the gym and wiggle my way into paying as little as I can.  Or maybe I can find an elliptical machine, that is, one that won’t break down and is okay with my body (most are awkward for me and I can only use certain kinds) for very, very cheap.  But of course it has to fit into my postage-stamp-size apartment.  Gee, that’s tough.  Maybe I can get super good aerobic exercise flipping what remaining pennies I still have.

I’m going to take Puzzle out.  Maybe if I put on some Dave Matthews, I can work up a bit of speed.

 

News about me

I have to pay the rent today.  I know a lot of people don’t look forward to paying the rent because it means that they have to look at their checkbooks and balance them once more, or look online at their bank account, never a pleasant task of course, but for me, it’s different.  The dread, for me, is walking into the office and being noticed by those office ladies.  I know that in a month I’ve gained a significant amount of weight.  Thankfully, it’s a cool day, so I can wear my bulky coat.  I love the flap that covers my face.  I keep thinking that I will leave there and they will say to each other, “She can’t control herself now,” or something else horrible.  Maybe if I think about the budget instead, and try to forget about what others think, it’ll help.

I was motor-mouth for a couple of weeks and now suddenly I’m slow like molasses is in me.  It’s a relief, to tell you the truth.  I don’t feel the constant pressure I felt.  I guess you could say I was agitated.  I was agitated for a long time, looking back.  I feel a lot calmer.

I’ll explain:  When I got on Imipramine…actually, I was on Desipramine first, and then quickly switched to Imipramine, the bingeing stopped.  This was around the beginning of November of last year.  Of course, I was so happy about this that I figured I’d put up with the side effects.  I felt as if my life was saved by this drug.  I knew that all the literature said that if I felt the side effect “agitation,” I should report this to my doctor immediately.  I remember walking home one day and telling myself that I definitely felt this.  It was uncomfortable.  It was annoying.  But no way would I tell anyone that I was experiencing this, because maybe Dr. P would take me off my precious Imipramine that kept me from bingeing.  So I learned to live with it, and then gradually forgot that this was my life.

The reason why they want you to report agitation is because this is the side effect that causes people to go over the edge and commit suicide, by the way.  This is the “Black Box” thingy on antidepressants such as Prozac.  These antidepressants have a stimulating effect and also a calming effect and it varies from person to person.   Whatever it was about the Imipramine that stimulated me caused the agitation.  It was a physical discomfort, kind of an antsiness, and also a mental discomfort, never satisfied, never at rest, always on edge.

It is also the stimulating effect of antidepressants such as Prozac, and notably Effexor, that causes me to binge, ironically.  So I’ve gone for years without bingeing, and then they’ve slapped an antidepressant into the mix, and whamo, I’m bingeing and miserable.   But these drugs are so complicated, much more complicated and unpredictable and dangerous than the prescribers and researchers truly fathom.  Each of these antidepressants is different.

I’ve looked through my journal from last fall and studied it.  The Imipramine definitely stopped the bingeing.  The whole tone of my journal changed dramatically.  A lot changed.  Most of the stuff I’m not even going to mention at the moment.

I’ve been off of Imipramine, that is, zero milligrams, for three weeks now.  I’d say that the drug’s side effects seem to be leaving me.  I used to have a very bad dry mouth.  No matter how often I brushed my teeth, I had a horrible taste and I knew my breath was bad.  Speaking was also difficult because my lips would get glued to my teeth and I’d have to wiggle my mouth to unglue them, right in the middle of a sentence, and do all kinds of other mouth tricks to enable me to speak with a dry mouth.  You can imagine what it was like to read aloud in front of an audience.  It’s great having saliva back.

My breasts seem slightly less swollen.  It was a gradual shift.  I was very impatient to get rid of this breast milk.  There is a difference in overall skin coloring and also in the shape and coloring of the aureoles.   If they’d remained proportionately the same as they were, given all the weight I’ve gained, I’d have had to buy new bras by now.   People who have been following my blog for a while can imagine the horror and misery I would have felt to have had to buy new bras.  It is unthinkable.  Just devastating.  So I guess it’s a relief to me that I no longer look like I have implants.  I know all this sounds very self-deprecating, but if you consider that I was treated like a pair of boobs and otherwise worthless when I was in my 20’s, and stared at for much of my life, and had this worthlessness drilled into my head by the man who raped me, you can see where I’m coming from.

It was sometime between Sunday and Monday that the agitation left me.  I’ve been feeling very resigned and worn out.  I have recordings of myself speaking that I’d made prior to that point, while I was feeling agitated.  I did these recordings simply so that I wouldn’t “lose” writing ideas.  I have over 30 of these recordings, but I notice that often in the longer recordings my speech accelerates into this feverish, often angry and riveted tone.  I was annoyed that I was unable to control this.  It kept on happening.

I was speaking with someone, I recall, last Thursday night, while she was driving me home, and I found myself going on and on about things I was excited about, my ideas about how I was going to change the world and what was wrong with the world in the first place.  But I couldn’t stop myself from speaking.  I felt like I was imposing on her.  Of course, most people would have been driven nuts by my motor-mouth.  She shut off the engine when we arrived at my building and let me go on for a while.  I felt rather grateful for this, actually.  I kept apologizing, saying that I so rarely had human contact or human conversation whatsoever, and sometimes it just burst out of me, everything that I thought, all my ideas, volumes and volumes of wonderful, crazy, revolutionary ideas.

This, of course, is how you lose friends.  But there are a lot of people out there, exceptional people, who do not judge.  They don’t close themselves off to folks who are a little different from themselves.  I am trying to teach myself not to judge.  It’s a belief I have.  We as a society, in our language and way of life and hierarchies and social structure, are programmed to judge others and fear them when we don’t understand them.  I am trying to undo this programming.

I didn’t feel judged that night.  I felt like my friend was treating me with patience and understanding.  I told myself I’d make it up to her somehow.  I’d be the giving and loving person that I wanted to be.

I feel okay now.  I went to see my minister today, and we spoke at length.  I wasn’t motor-mouth.  Just resigned to everything.  Sad about my life.

These drugs are scary, scary, scary.  I’ve experience hypomania before, and even peeked into actual mania maybe once a long time ago, but this wasn’t anything like that.  It was agitation.  A long time ago, while hospitalized, stuff would happen and I’d get violent, maybe shove a chair or something.  In all cases, it was in response to something the staff did to provoke me, but at any rate, I’d say that what I felt when I did these things was agitation.  A feeling in my body like I couldn’t stop.

And I suppose it all started on that day I was walking home and told myself I’d put up with the annoyance, this side effect from Imipramine, just live with it.  I’ve been withdrawing from Imipramine for weeks and the agitation has gotten much, much worse.  I read in many, many sources that stuff like this happens when people withdraw from a medication.   This can lead to all sorts of myths, according to the literature, about these medications.

First of all, some are addictive and some aren’t.  It is the antianxiety meds that are addictive, just like alcohol.   Antidepressants area not addicting.  But your body gets used to having the antidepressants in your system.  I should provide the link to the .pdf document I found that explains all this better than I can.  You can take an antianxiety pill, such as Klonopin, and maybe feel less anxious once it kicks in.  You don’t just take one antidepressant pill and suddenly feel not depressed anymore.  You take these pills and they build up in your system over a number of days, weeks even, before it starts to help, if it is in fact going to work at all.  By then there has been this huge change to your chemistry.  You don’t crave the antidepressant the way a person craves the antianxiety pill or alcohol or a cigarette.  But because of the chemical alteration, there are going to be repercussions while trying to get off the antidepressant, especially if you try to get off too fast.   You know something?  Some people can never, never, never get off these drugs, even when they try, because getting off is such torture that it seems better to stay on.  Effexor, for instance, is notoriously tough to get off.  Google it and you’ll see message boards where folks have talked about the tortures they’ve been through.

So I’m off Imipramine.  I went through the bad headaches a few weeks ago from getting off the drug too fast.  I went through the agitation the entire time I was on it that I did my best to ignore.  I was motor-mouth for a few weeks that was probably another withdrawal thingy.  And you folks who have been reading my blog this whole time must have noticed I was one helluva bitch.  Can’t promise I’ll stop being a bitch in my writing, but the person behind it is less fucked up on drugs.

You know what they do when they see a person who is agitated?  That’s right.  They give this person antipsychotics.  So Dr. P saw me motor-mouth and hinted that I needed antipsychotic medication.  This is how people end up on five, six, even seven psych meds.  A lot of stuff I’ve been reading lately talks about people who start taking pills like Prozac, which induces a mania-like state.  They are then diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and given mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medication to control their mania.  Of course, they have to have a med to counteract the side-effects of the antipsychotics.  And if any of these pills causes insomnia, they are given a sleeping pill.  Blood pressure pills for high blood pressure, stomach pills for stomach acid.  Then they’ve gained weight from all these meds, have to buy new clothes, maybe the doc hints that they should exercise and control themselves, and it all seems so useless and futile.

I’ve been that route.  Shock treatments on top of it.  Lots and lots and lots of unnecessary shock treatments.  They work, then the effect goes away very, very quickly.  Soon after, more shock.  I got so confused, just out of my head from repeated shock, which was mistaken for further depression, and I was back on the table for more shock.  I remember that I was lying on the table and they were about to stick the anesthesia into me, and suddenly they asked permission to do “bilateral” ECT, that is, to shock me on both sides of the head.  No papers were signed, and there was no discussion  of the pros and cons, potential for permanent damage, or why they were doing this.  I lay there while they held the anesthesia needle and waited.  As per usual, I had had no food or drink that morning so that the anesthesia wouldn’t sicken me.

I said, “Yeah, go ahead.”

The anesthesiologist said, as always, “Pick a nice dream,” and I was out.

I couldn’t keep track of much after that for a long, long time.  I guess I should be thankful that today is May 1, 2012 and those days are over and I know to pay the rent and give Puzzle her monthly medication.  Would you believe that was 1996?  So sixteen years have passed since I had bilateral ECT at McLean Hospital, over and over and over.

I joined MindFreedom International yesterday.  The URL is mindfreedom.org.  Go take a look.  Most of the emphasis is on forced drugging, use of restraints, and ECT when they talk about the abuses in the mental health system.  I was looking for stories about abuse by therapists but it’s tough to prove that this happens.  I also looked for stories about eating disorders treatment and the need for change and alternatives to the “team” approach and imprisonment and controlling, manipulating, coercion, blackmail, lying, withholding information, lack of informed consent, human rights abuse, etc.  So I plan to start a mailing list and get some dialogue going, and contact the Massachusetts chapter of mindfreedom about what I went through at Mass General last summer with the sitters agency, and then at  Blake Eleven (the psych unit).  I’m not an isolated case.  This was happening with all the patients there, the monitored phone calls, everything.  Writing to the state chapter was suggested to me by the national people.  Here is my chance.

I am going to work on the problems that have resulted from my tumultuous relationship with my last therapist.  It seems like as soon as I started seeing her, everything went wrong.  She was manipulative.  She was very controlling.  She had a temper, too.  There’s a fine line between being a caring therapist and going over the top.  She lost control sometimes.  She’d accuse me of stuff, and threaten to have me put away.  She used scare tactics.  I was always scared to show up and scared not to.  I was convinced that she was a great therapist because of her caring and dedication.  But people who can’t control themselves should not be doing therapy.  I’ve had bad therapists in the past.  But she is the one I’m the most torn over.  Or maybe that it’s just all so fresh in my mind.  It’s only after I’ve left that I can look back and see it all for what it really was.

 

 

An incident

Just something I’d like to mention.

July, 2011, Boston Medical Center psych emergency room.  It might have well been any emergency room anywhere because these kinds of things happen.

The place is shaped like a short hallways with five secure rooms surrounding the hallway.  These are each monitored with cameras, and a staff person (with limited medical qualifications generally) sits and watches a screen at the entranceway of the area.  Security personnel are on hand in case there is trouble.  The rooms consist of beds with mattresses.  I don’t believe we were allowed pillows.  Our clothes and shoes and all our belongings were taken from us upon arrival and placed on a cart in the hallway.  The belongings are inside bags with our names on them, but it is easy for anyone to take our stuff.   While I was there, things were taken.  Someone’s money was taken, $40, that is, two $20 bills, which I guess were visible and easy to snatch by a passerby.  There are no call bells or any plugs in the rooms or telephones or sinks, just bare walls.  There is no medical equipment on hand in the room, such as defibrillators that I could tell.  On the sides of the beds are hooks where leather restraints can easily be attached.  Many emergency rooms in hospitals have such specialized psychiatric beds.  These are often separated off from the rest of the ER and not visible to people who come into the emergency room unless the actively seek out the psychiatric area.

After the staff had the patient remove his or her clothing and put on hospital clothes supplied by staff (johnnies or whatever medical patients wore), there is some sort of procedure where same-sex staff do a body search.  Female patients are allowed to keep their bras on and underwear and I assume male patients can keep underwear on as well.  None of my body cavities were searched but the inside of my bra was checked.  Some of these places have had me take off my underwear, had it looked at, and then returned to me.  They are looking for drugs, firearms, anything sharp, or anything at all.  We are left in our rooms.

Patients that require medication may or may not be given these drugs.  I have seen patients given injections of drugs, generally Haldol.  I have known many patients who were given Haldol for the first time and had serious reactions, such as extreme muscle tensing all over the body, swelling of the face, swelling of the tongue, allergic reactions of all types including those that required immediate administration of antihistimines.  I have known people to become in life-threatening states.  I have also heard that it does in fact happen that a single dose of Haldol can cause the permanent disabling condition of Tardive Dyskinesia.  I have mixed feelings about the temporary use of this drug because there can be benefits in exceptional cases.  I believe in informed consent, however.  I also have seen in these emergency rooms instances where patient have begged for drugs that they were taking at home that they were not given at the emergency room.  Some patients were dependent on the drugs to relieve anxiety.   I have seen tortured people begging for relief, sweating and shaking, their faces flushed, often in tears or hyperventilating.  These patients were ignored and not even comforted by staff.  They were often told to “suck it up.”  They were told “We do not have an order.”  I have seen patients who had to wait while in this condition for many hours to see a doctor so that they could get these medications ordered. If they were addicted, it wasn’t their fault.  This is standard fare in these emergency rooms.

Here is the incident:  A man came in voluntarily.  He asked to be hospitalized, saying he feared that if he would overdose.  He feared that he could no longer stay in control.  He made this clear to staff.  I could hear the desperation in his voice.  He was begging for help.  He said he had pills and had been planning to take them.  “Please help me,” he said.  “Please.”

I don’t know how long it took them and I don’t know anything about this man’s history.  I’d say he was in his twenties.  They found him a therapist and an appointment in about five days.  He said he couldn’t wait that long.  He said he feared that if he were released, he would go home and lose control.  “Why?” he said.  “Why are you turning me away?”  He began to cry.  It tore my heart apart to hear this man.  I felt a lump form in my throat.

They repeatedly asked him to leave.   Their voices raised and became sharper and harsher.  I looked at the entranceway.  Two staff pointed the way out.  One had her hands on her hips.  The man left, bawling, saying he had pills and was scared to death.