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Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

Who ever said staying sane was easy? No one I know would suggest that; however, many can’t imagine the chemistry involved with keeping a person with Bi-Polar Disorder off the carnival ride from hell. You’d think a savvy psychiatrist would find the magic mixture of drugs to balance us out, but often it is simply not so. Besides, you might stabilize for a couple of weeks, maybe even a few months, and then you tumble downhill once again. Here’s my current medicinal repertoire:

Seroquel (treats mood swings and psychosis)
Lamictal (ditto, with the added bonus of [supposedly] preventing migraines)
Effexor XR (manages depression)
Verapomil (a blood pressure medication that helps forestall a migraine attack)
Treximet (when said migraine attacks, take this for possible relief)
Cogentan (treats what I call “the jumpies,” a side effect of Seroquel)
Pepsid (a well-known antacid, to [sometimes] prevent incessant heartburn)
Lunesta (the butterfly-commercial sleep aid, which I somehow need, despite the soporific side-effects of many of my drugs)

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For those of you who have never experienced a migraine headache, I am overjoyed for you. For those of you who have heard about them but can’t really imagine, here is your opportunity to do just that.

Background:

  • My boss has been off work for the past six-seven weeks, during which time I worked with the director of another department to plan an important event for my office.
  • I have been working two jobs since mid-December while my colleague and good friend was on maternity leave.
  • I received a Needs Improvement evaluation at work last year because I received a complaint about my customer service skills from one student.
  • I worked my ass off this year to ensure I would meet and even exceed my performance expectations.
  • I have had migraine headaches for 23 years and have never been hospitalized for one to this point.

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Recently, my friend Tiffany tagged me with a meme to write my memoir in six words. While you’re supposed to tag other bloggers once you’ve been tagged, I really don’t have that many co-bloggers at the moment to tag, or they’ve already been taken. Here are the rules:

1) Write your own six word memoir
2) Post it on your blog; include a visual illustration if you’d like
3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible
4) Tag at least five more blogs with links
5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

Here is the memoir I would leave today. I’m positive it will change tomorrow or the next day. But for now, here ya go:

Creative writer craves deliverance from evil.

I’m not always this serious or intense when describing myself, but recent events have left me feeling precisely as my memoir suggests.

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A few days ago, I would have been the last person to believe there was such a thing as spiritual warfare. However, after spending the last two days in an abyss akin to hell, I’m beginning to believe that it does, in fact, exist.

[rockyou id=109267686&w=250&h=187]

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Okay, call me crazy! I’ve got two wonderful boy kitties–Tigger and Bubbles–and a, well, some would say not-so-wonderful bichon frise girlie girl dog, Sparkle.

Look for yourself:

TiggerThis is Tigger–always regal looking, but a big baby at heart.

Bubbles Bubbles, aka Mr. Fatty, has a squishy jello-belly, long hairs between his toes, and a surprisingly bossy disposition.

Laura and Sparkle Here’s my baby girl when I first brought her home. Even now, she’s smaller than my boys, and she’s full grown!

What more could a single mother who’s living in a 980-square-foot condo want?

Hee, hee, hee… (more…)

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10. I traveled to Ghana, West Africa, in the summer of 1987 as part of a team of volunteers from Operation Crossroads Africa. I also served as a missionary for the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Kentucky, which allowed me to travel solo for two weeks, visiting my Christian brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Ghana. An unfortunate predicament of the Crossroads portion of the trip was that Crossroads staffers (certainly knowingly) permitted the daughter of Malcolm X (Malaak Shabazz) and the daughter of the attorney who freed Malcolm X’s assassin to be placed on the same team: mine. There were some nasty interchanges throughout the trip.

9. I’ve spent 38 days as an in-patient and 28 days as an out-patient in a total of three psychiatric hospitals over the past four years. Yippee for me! I have seen the trauma of adultery carved across the face of a young woman who was sure she should never be forgiven; witnessed a perfectly coiffed professional woman collapse as she tried in vain to ward off the voices in her head that were telling her she must die to rid the world of its sins; and languored (my new verb) as I begged God not to let a particularly troubled young woman regain custody of her three small children.

8. In 1988, as part of an honors thesis, I conducted anthropological research on the staff of St. John Day Center, a new (at the time) homeless shelter for men only that was open 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. In 2007, I returned to St. John to serve my homeless brothers, some of whom remember me from way back when. In 1988, I interviewed one man in particular–I’ll call him John–and learned of his struggles with schizophrenia and rape charges. In 2008, I re-introduced myself to John and learned that he’s been in his own apartment for ten years and feels very “blessed” for all God has done for him. He smiled broadly when he realized I had taken such an interest in him years ago.

7. While serving God by serving my homeless brothers and sisters at the Jefferson Street Baptist Shelter, I had the privilege of spending the day with “Tom,” a deaf man from New York who just needed some glasses and a haircut. Having been away from the deaf community for some time, I found it was difficult at first to communicate. However, as the day moved on, my signing skills improved. By the end of the day, I was signing with three or four other people and making another whole set of friends.

6. Bottom on the totem pole and perhaps most likely not to succeed (in the popularity sense), I still managed to beat Heidi Hawkins in the race for Freshman Class Secretary at Atherton High School in 1979. Mind you, it was very fortunate that I gave my speech behind a podium: Had my classmates seen my knees knocking uncontrollably, they would’ve laughed me out of the auditorium. I managed to deliver a flawless speech despite my obnoxious classmate “Fuzzy” making ridiculous faces at me while I spoke. (That is precisely why you’re not supposed to look at anybody when you’re on stage. You’re supposed to look just over their heads so you can avoid their unsolicited feedback.)

5. Sewing is one of those things that I’ve done for so long, it’s just no problem to pick it up, even after years without making anything. I’ve made everything from the tiniest doll baby clothes, to business dresses, and even a motorcycle seat cover. Some of my talents in this area are: cross-stitching; embroidery; smocking; dress-making; home decor items such as cornices, curtains, seatcovers, and pillows; knitting. I’m guessing most of you have never made a motorcycle seat cover before!

4. You know you know a language well when you can dream in that language… or at least that’s what Burnelle Espenshade, my St. Francis High School French teacher, told me. While no longer even remotely close to being conversational in any language except English, I’ve dreamt in French and American Sign Language. Dreaming in sign language is quite entertaining, for the dreamer and witness alike.

3. On the trip to Ghana mentioned earlier, I had the distinct and special privilege of being able to mediate while my cab driver and a man along the road negotiated whether or not said cab driver should purchase said man’s along the road kill for dinner. What was that night’s specialty? A gargantuan rat-like mammal that’s bigger than my dog, Sparkle (a bichon, shown elsewhere on this site). The two men were conversing in another language, while I sat in the passenger’s seat next to the open window, where the rat was dangling from the road guy’s raised hand.

2. In the winter storm of 1994, I had just started working at a hospital as a nursing assistant. I was taking organic chemistry, preparing to enter nursing school (which I decided against within a month of working in the hospital). It snowed 17 inches in Louisville, and the roads were, obviously, impassable–at least for cars. Eager to impress my boss for some unknown reason, my husband and I rode our mountain bikes to my work so I could help out. That was a memorable week at the hospital, with administrators and others on the business side of the hospital helping by cooking and serving meals for the patients. The camaraderie shown by all the workers in that difficult situation was memorable.

1. Way back when in 1987, while working for my sister’s future father-in-law at a local pharmacy, I was robbed at gun-point by two men wearing “pancake” make-up (aka foundation) and gray women’s wigs. It was early October–way too early to be dressing up for Halloween–and I knew the instant they walked in that they were going to rob us. The pharmacist was busy with a customer and completely clueless to what was about to happen. One guy approached the pharmacist and the customer and escorted them behind the counter. The other guy came to my register and demanded money. While you’d think I’d freak out and cry or get flustered or something, I managed pretty well. I looked the guy directly in the eyes, studied his facial features so I could recognize them later, and casually removed the money. I even took a moment to ask the guy if he wanted the checks too! Ha ha! Then he escorted me behind the counter. This is when I got nervous. I was terrified he was going to shoot me in the back as I walked to the counter. He didn’t. When we got back there, the other guy–who I also studied–was flashing a silver gun around, demanding Delodid–a powerful painkiller that was (maybe still is) a hot ticket item on the street. He told the customer and me to lay face-down on the floor spread-eagle. The customer was crying hysterically, but I still managed to hear the pharmacist tell the robber that he didn’t have any Delodid in the store. Not convinced, the robber said, “Give me your Delodid, or I’ll blow your head off.” The pharmacist replied, “Oh, yeah, I think I do have some here in the safe.” The nerve of the pharmacist! I was appalled that despite being told by his wife and co-owner during training that I should always give the robbers whatever they asked for, this pharmacist chose to risk all of our lives to avoid being out the cost of the Delodid. To this day, I am always nervous being in retail stores at closing time, especially when I’m one of the employees.

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Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more.

The nearest book to me when I read this meme was Imaginative Writing by Janet Burroway. Unfortunately, I would be inserting the dialog of a play, which I’m afraid won’t tell you anything about me or my interests. (Although the book itself suggests my interest in creative writing.) The Center Cannot HoldInstead, I’ve chosen the next closest book: The Center Will Not Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks, an endowed professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law who has risen to the top of her game despite her “grave” diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Find page 123.
Page 123 is in Chapter 9, which I haven’t gotten to yet. At this point in the book, the author is in Yale Law School, rooming with someone named Emily, and missing her regular correspondence with someone else named Mrs. Jones. I don’t know anything about either of these people yet.

Find the first five sentences.
The first five complete sentences start in the second paragraph of page 123. Here, Ms. Saks is explaining how much she misses being able to vent with Mrs. Jones and how she’d be too embarrassed to call her now because her perfect little roomie, Emily, might think her weird.

Post the next three sentences.
The next three sentences read:

In addition, I wasn’t in any sort of treatment or therapy, or taking any kind of medication. There were plenty of indications that I should do something–talk to somebody, take some kind of pill. I knew that much; I was not, after all, stupid. But pills were bad, drugs were bad.

The interesting thing about these sentences is that they tell a story that many, many people with mental illness struggle with: the belief that they are somehow weak because of their illness. Many of us spend years trying to talk/pray/plead ourselves out of our illness, all along missing the evidence that God is trying to reach us via our medications and doctors. I’m reminded of the joke–which I’ll paraphrase very briefly–where a shipwrecked man ignores the offers of help by three boaters, claiming he’s waiting for God, only to find when he reaches heaven’s gate that God had sent these people to him. God works through people, medications, and countless other ways to help us in our battles with mental illness.

Tag five people.
Fortunately for you–or whomever–I don’t remember how to tag someone, so this post will just have to suffice as an interesting tidbit of information you’ve learned about me.

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