Friday, January 4, 2013

Down The Rabbit Hole/ Through The Looking Glass

I wanted my first post of the year to be a Happy New Year/ Resolution post.  I'm putting that off for an issue that is near and dear to me.  Well not so much dear, in fact, I think the issue is a complete asshole and wish it would just fuck off out of my life.  However, this was the hand I was dealt.  I cannot run from it, as then I would be running from myself.  I have been hesitant about sharing this part of myself. Once it is out there it can change everything.  It can affect my job.  I'm hoping it doesn't.  Here it goes.

I haven't slept well for a good month.  The last two weeks have been hell with insomnia.  The doctor told me that my hormones would be out of wack for a bit after my surgery to remove my cyst.  I had no idea how much it would affect, or what it could affect, including my disorder.  I am not sure if I'm going to say which disorder it is yet.  I'm not sure it matters, what is important to me is that mental health is misunderstood, even by the community that is put in place to help.

I went for years undiagnosed, struggling every moment of every day to understand why I wasn't like anyone else.  I even admitted myself into a hospital to help as a teen.  Finally in 2003, frustrated with the pain in myself and the pain I could see I was causing my family I attempted suicide.  I really didn't want to die, I just wanted the pain to end.  The pain for my family, and I wanted answers for myself.  My child was at daycare, I called my mother calming to pick him up from there at the end of the day.  She asked me why, out of character for me (at the time I spent many days yelling and hanging up on her and others), I said calmly, "because".  I said good-bye, hung up and began methodically taking one pill at a time.  Music cranked, tears rolling down my face, praying to God that somebody save me from myself and help me because I really didn't want to die.  Praying for the pain for myself and those around me to end.  God answered my prayer.  I usually kept my door locked.  I don't know if I left it unlocked or my mother had a spare key.  I don't even know how on earth they got in the building.  I never asked.  All I know is I was fading fast on the couch and my parents came swooping in.  I think my Dad was yelling at me.  I somehow got to the car and into the hospital.  Then came the chalk, sitting in a room waiting for a shrink and feeling numb.  My son was safe, that's all I cared about.  I was settled into a room and then passed out.

That month in the hospital I found out a lot.   Learning about my disorder.  It had a name.  Everything I felt was justified.  I wasn't crazy, I was sick.  Everyone in my life (exception of my parents), up to that point, lied to me.  The hospital I stayed at years before, blamed everything on my parents, but I saw a report where they had diagnosed me.  This is how I learned more about myself, mental illness and the broken system that supports it.

I am better now in the sense that my life is better to those who see in.  I am better in the sense that I have had a lot of help since 2003, a lot of support, and learned to continue to rely on myself and God to help me stay focused and living as close to the life I dream of as I can.  My real dream is to live disorder free.  It's not going to happen.  So I struggle.  Day in and day out.  This year has been particularly bad.  Depression comes with my disorder, although finally it's more seasonal than constant.  I think that is a combination of God, my supportive husband and family and medication.  I'm not sleeping, and when I do I'm haunted by dreams that feel so real I'm left exhausted by morning.  Still I have children that need me.  My children and my husband are now the reason I fight, the reason I'm writing this.  Alone, I don't even think God could keep me going.  I'm pretty sure I'd give into everything this disorder is and be a hermit or dead.

So here I am fighting.  Fighting alone.  I don't need to fight this hard.  I spend most days "faking" it.  I pretend I'm okay and happy for my kids (it doesn't always work as it's an exhausting process mentally). I pretend life is okay, that I don't fight the need to hide in my bed and get up in the morning.  That I don't fight those urges to cut when I feel sad or disappointed in myself.  That I don't spend most of my days angry at myself for not living up to my own expectations.  Forget everyone else's, mine are much higher and I don't meet those.  Maybe a small moment here or there, but those mean nothing.  I need all the time perfection.  So why am I fighting alone?  Why am I not seeing a counsellor?  Or a shrink?  Why indeed.  This is where the reason for me writing is.  I just needed you to see where I am, how I got here.

Two years ago I saw a shrink through my old doctor to get into a program that is only offered at one hospital in the city.  Most counsellors, etc, do not have any experience dealing with people with my disorder.  They think we are faking it and manipulating things in order to get attention.  Oh how they are wrong.  Some do manipulate for sure.  Especially in the beginning.  I know I did, it was the only way I knew to get someone to see something was wrong, that I needed help.  I learned over time and living with my husband that there are different ways to deal with things. Manipulation only breeds loneliness, hurt, and definately doesn't get you the help you want.  This book here is a good recommendation for everyone, not just those with a mental disorder like mine.  One of the important things in the book is being honest with yourself.



Back to the shrink.  He told me that I didn't have any symptoms of the disorder.  That I was too articulate, and that as a person gets older (early to late 30's), the symptoms reduce and we essentially heal ourselves.  I wanted to jump up and smack that guy upside the head.  I wanted to scream and yell and act like a loon.  I wanted him to see what I was really feeling inside.  The pain and confusion and chaos that I fought daily to be free from.  But I didn't.  Why?  Here's why.  I have come too far from the person I described in the beginning of the post.  The person I am now is from amazing support from my family and friends.  I have fought and still fight all parts of this every single day to keep what I have built.  I have a steady job that I absolutely love and that brings me a sense of purpose and satisfaction.  Proud of myself.  Doing that job enables me to give myself validation and doesn't require me to look for it from outside sources.  Which then leads to impulsive and destructive behaviour.  My children, they bring something to my life that I cannot describe.  My husband brings me the mindset to have me see the big picture, drawing myself out of myself.  God is my rock, my go to guy when my pain is so big that nothing else in this world can keep me grounded.  I have spent all these years learning on my own how to ground myself in this life, to not let this disorder take over.  But, because I have fought with the tools I have discovered at different points in my life, some better than others, and I don't manipulate and act like a "crazy" person I am denied the help I know I need to give me that quality of life I have been searching for.

This is the common theme and problem in our mental health system.  If I say I am sick, I'm too sane to be sick enough to require help that cannot be perscibed in pill form.  If I keep down a job and am happy doing that job, I am not sick enough to require help.  If I have a family life where my husband isn't beating me or I'm not beating him and my children, I am not sick enough to require help.  If I am articulate and know myself enough to know what I need to get better, I am not sick enough to require help.  I need to be the person I was in 2003.  The crazed, uncontrollable person that could barely hold a job.  The person that in the year after her diagnosis spent so much time angry that she jeopardized her job on many occassions.  The person who spent many days being so scared of people seeing the monster inside that she acted crazy and did things to push them away.  I simply cannot be that person anymore just to get help.  I simply cannot lose my job, and my children, just so the doctors can see that I really do need this particular program to help.  I NEED them to listen to me and hear my words.  To help me when I say, I need help.  I did the research and found this is the best way for me to finally deal with this and live with a good quality of life.  I DON"T need a doctor to tell me that in order to get the help I want I need to act crazy and do something to end up in the hospital where they can admit me and then help me.  Yes, they do tell you this, because they know it's the only way to get the help you want and need.

The health system needs an overhaul.  There are better uses for our Fire/Paramedic services than transporting people to hospital for overdoses, or other related measures.  There are better uses for our ER's than making people wait on someone who OD'd just to get the help they know they need.  Our doctors need to be looking after really sick people, than wasting time pumping stomachs or working on deep cuts, etc., due to wanting, needing psychological help.  But until the health system smartens up, people like me will continue to tax our resources, essentially stealing them from others.  The health system claims people with mental health issues are manipulative.  I agree, we can be, some are just because it's their nature, many are because the health system has made us this way.  I still need help, I'm living down this rabbit hole mostly in my time at home because I'm busy behind the looking glass in order to function at work and in my daily life.  However, I refuse to lose everything just to get it the way the health system says I can have it.  I'll find a way, I've been doing it so far.  I just have to continue to fight every single step.

I want to take the time out right now to say that it wasn't the people I worked with that I didn't like.  The chaos playing out in my head and how my relationships were in my past made me like that.  I didn't have the tools at the time to not get involved in work drama, or sometimes cause it.  It is what caused me to walk into work and then walk right back out some days.  I should have been fired somewhere in those 3.5yrs.  My coworkers knew I was a single mom and they helped me out by keeping me on and sort of accepting me even if they didn't like the behaviour and a couple of times I left them in a lurch.  Whether they know it or not, they were my teachers to help me in my future jobs.  My last one and the one I'm in.  I'm thankful for those coworkers.  Every last one of them.




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