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Vicarious Therapy



Sharing some of what I talk about, and learn, in my private therapy sessions. I am blessed with a wonderfully supportive psychiatrist who provides me with both medication advice and therapy. I am hoping my experiences in my sessions can help someone else



Updated: 2018-03-26T06:10:06.133-07:00

 



Hollow

2011-02-15T22:40:56.560-08:00

This post will not be eloquent, or elegant. I seem to have lost my ability to write. That is why I have not been posting. I have lost my voice. I cannot seem to "create" anymore, whether it be painting, drawing or writing, my creative self, my artistic spirit seems quite literally to have disappeared.

I am not sure why. I am still severely depressed (and getting worse...again), so I know that affects me, but even when severely depressed I usually am at least a bit creative. Since I had ECT last year, and/or since I began taking Lithium I have lost both my creativity, and have been having great difficulty with my memory.

Anyways, I was just thinking about what to talk about in therapy. It seems like I get to therapy and I have no idea what to say...sort of like not writing here, or not being able to create. I feel like I can't express myself the way I need to. So I was just thinking about what is most important for me to deal with and I made a list.

1. For the last year I have had extreme memory problems. I get lost in my own city, confused when trying to navigate, even in places I am extremely familiar with. I forget appointments, stand up friends, can't remember what I just read, have huge holes in my long term and short term memory and feel so frustrated and stupid I want to scream. Dr. X tells me it is "pseudo-dementia", that if it were real I would not know I was having these difficulties. This idea enrages me. This "fake" dementia...is adding to the already huge ruins of my life.

I feel angry, because my memory problems are REAL. This problem is severely affecting my life. It is also making me feel even more depressed and anxious, I feel stupid and slow. People look at me strangely, judge me, and are annoyed I can't remember things. It is getting worse.

2. My constant negative thoughts, racing and going around and around and around incessantly all day. It is to the point that the only thing I look forward to is taking my sleeping medication so I can stop the thoughts.

3. I am angry with myself for loosing track and control of my life. I Intellectually i think I understand I have a mental illness, but on some, deeper, more important level I think I am in denial that an illness has made me this way. I feel like I did this to myself for some reason. I let myself get off track. If I really tried harder I could get better. If I really wanted it I could change.

4. I am so sick of feeling sick all the time. So tired of how fatigued I feel every single day. I feel so fatigued that I don't want to do anything. I literally have to FORCE myself to do the smallest of tasks. I am so sick of it being so much of an effort to do simple things.

5. "Compartmentalizing"...I feel like I am not a consistent person/being. I feel like I change to be whoever I think people need me to be. It is exhausting. I have no idea WHO I am.

6. I want to die...This seems to be the only consistent thought I have. I know I have talked about having suicidal thoughts before, but I feel intensely uncomfortable discussing the details and the depths to which these thoughts engulf me. I feel like the thoughts (an therefore myself) will be seen as childish, or attention seeking, or that they will be dismissed. I feel ashamed for having the thoughts, but I need someone to tell them to.

7. "I feel hollow", Sylvia path said this in the movie "Sylvia", then went on to explain she felt like she was a shell and there was a huge emptiness within. I feel exactly like that, It is even worse since ECT/and or Lithium. My creative spirit, my desire, my abilities, my being has disappeared.

It feels like dying is the only way all these problems will disappear. I see no way out.



Five Long Years

2010-12-15T19:40:15.551-08:00

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Mom, I miss you more than you can imagine. I wish it could have been me.



ECT I: Making the Decision

2010-07-11T17:46:33.816-07:00

One thing I have really wanted to post about is my experiences, both positive and negative, with the electroconvulsive therapy treatments (ECT) I received in December and January. I want to write about my experiences with ECT, but I do not want what I write to negatively impact someone else's decision to consider ECT if they are in need of help. If you are trying to make the decision to have, or not have ECT, please know that my story is just one of many. On top of that, despite some of my negative experiences, I would do it again, because something about the ECT helped me on some level. (I will try to explain that later in another post)As a person who has had to make the decision, my advice about deciding on whether to have ECT or not, would be to approach a medical professional, a psychiatrist if possible, who you trust and ask them to help you wade through the information and make an informed choice.For me, choosing to have ECT was one of the most difficult decisions I ever had to make. It is my brain, and even though I hate my depression and anxiety, it's the only brain I have...and if I was to feel better I wanted to know it would be intact after the treatments. My choice was made even more difficult by how little information I could find that felt like a trustworthy and balanced perspective about the treatments, and potential gains or losses, and/or side effects. At the hospital, all the information I was given felt like propaganda. The benefits were highlighted over and over again, but the potential side effects were glossed over, diminished, and when I asked about them, pretty much dismissed. Even after I had the treatments, I felt like my side effects were constantly dismissed. (Note: My own pdoc expressed that I was having the side effect difficulties I was expressing to the other Drs) It was incredibly important that I knew he could see what was happening, because I already felt like I was losing my mind. I did not need the psychiatrists insinuating that I was imagining my ECT side effects. I found the dismissal of my experiences intensely frustrating.Before I had ECT I met with the Psychiatrist who was to oversee/perform my treatments. We talked. I asked her about potential side effects, commenting that I had read several accounts of ECT and many people had stated they had longterm, and sometimes severe memory problems. The Dr looked at me and suggested that(paraphrase "...the information I read was biased...look at who is writing these articles".Inside my head I thought...but I am one of those people; a person with a mental illness. I recognize that our psychiatric illnesses can sometimes interfere with our perception of reality, but I am pretty certain my opinions and experiences cannot all be tossed aside as though they were the rantings of a lunatic. I do have some valid opinions of my experiences, and I do believe I am capable of writing a opinion piece that tells my truth about an experience. I also understand that my truth is not always generalizable to other people. Likewise other people's experiences are not always generalizable to me. The fact remains though, just because someone is ill, does not mean they have no important information to share. To tell you the truth, a big part of me distrusts pharmaceutical companies, and research organizations, more than I distrust the accounts of people who have actually been through the experiences. There is so little really known about the human brain, so much money involved in drug and treatment research, and so many reasons for an organization to find a positive outcome, that I am not sure how unbiased any medication or treatment research is. I am not saying I would blindly follow medical advice from someone writing on the internet, but I do read what others have to say, and I would take that information to a medical doctor I trusted and ask them to help me make an informed decision.In the end, with regards to my ECT treatments I found as much out as I could about the procedure and then I asked my psychi[...]



Learning to Read

2010-06-12T01:25:05.788-07:00

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I just finished reading a book. You might think, "so what". However, to me it was one of my most important achievements. I have not been able to read a book for years.

I do not know what happened to cause me to lose my ability to read a book. It may be that I was so sick I could not read. Whatever the case, I went from someone who had 5 or 6 books going at a time, to someone who could not follow a storyline. After trying many, many times and failing I simply gave up.

A few months ago, a friend of mine recently rediscovered her love of reading. I marvelled at all she read and what she was reading. I felt an intense longing to read again. It was like a fire was lit beneath me. I saw possibility.

Then a couple weeks ago my boyfriend and I were talking about my difficulty reading and he said, "Just start to read and keep reading even if you aren't following what is happening. Read the same sentence over and over if you have to, but keep going. Get into the habit of reading"

So I chose a simple book, a kids book, and I started to read. At first it was such a struggle. Even once I got going I kept mixing up the characters and the plot lines. I would suddenly be reminded of a character I had forgotten all about, or become confused by why something was happening the way it was.

Despite a bit of frustration at how much trouble I was having, I kept trying. Eventually I started to remember, to follow...to enjoy, what I was reading.

I think a few things were key to my succeeding this time:

  • My depression is not as bad as it has been and my medication has slowed the constant barrage of bad thoughts so I have room left in my brain to focus and think about something else,
  • I purposefully chose a very simple book. In fact, I choose a book geared towards adolescents,
  • I choose a book with a subject that interested me,
  • I made reading a priority, so it trumped my housework, or other duties in terms of importance,
  • I ensured I set time up to read right before I went to bed,
  • The times I started procrastinating I told myself to just go pick up the book and read for 5 minutes. Usually I would intend to read for 5 and still be reading 1/2 hr later.


I feel so encouraged by my ability to read this book. I feel like it is possible to read books again. Honestly, I was so discouraged before that I thought I would never be able to read books again.

Next, I am going to read my favorite book from when I was in grade 3 or 4 next. I figure it will be manageable, and it will bring back some good memories...and we all need more of those.




Empty

2010-06-08T10:58:17.561-07:00

Over the past few weeks my mood does not seem as bad as it has been. The cacophony of thoughts in my head has slowed markedly. Maybe a bit too slow, too flat, too apathetic. I am completely uninspired and unmotivated. I feel so much fatigue I feel physically sick.

It is like my being, especially my creative being, has simply shut itself down. I have even tried to go to the studio a couple times, but there is no art inside my brain; no ideas, no creativity, and no desire to create anything.

I am grateful that the awful thoughts, repetitive music, all the thoughts and plans for suicide have left me, but it feels like when the bad thoughts disintegrated they left my brain empty.

The past couple weeks I have been trying to reassure myself that my creative being will return. I keep telling myself this emptiness is like a new canvas, the painting will come when I am ready.

My body does not believe this and I have been having really bad anxiety attacks everyday. I do not know why as there is nothing obvious triggering me. The only thing I can think of is that I am afraid of my new way of being. Or maybe I am scared OF being? Sometimes I feel like it would be so much better if all this would just end.



There is No Hope

2010-05-19T18:35:46.152-07:00

I feel physically sick. I am so fatigued I feel nauseous. I have no energy. No motivation. No ability to get myself to do anything. All I want to do is sleep. I am so depressed I can't even do that.

So I stare at the ceiling thinking I can't take this anymore. I can't live like this anymore. I cannot survive this depression anymore. The life I have is not worth all this pain.

I have to go visit my family in a few days. I am dreading it. They all want me to be happy. I want to be happy, but the energy it takes to be who they need me to be completely overwhelms me.

I wish I would die. Finally this would all be over.

What do you do if nothing helps your depression? How do you keep going? How do you survive?



Why Can't I Get Motivated

2010-05-13T19:51:25.923-07:00

I want to go kayaking; slip through the ocean quietly and peacefully. I want to go camping. Pitch a tent, build a big fire, stare at the stars and listen to nature's peacefulness. I want to go for a bike ride. I want to go for a hike. I want to paint three paintings. I see them in my mind. I need to get them out of me.

I sit and stare at the wall. I want o change. Really I do. I want to be different. I want to DO things. I want to be active. I want to be busy.

The dishes pile up, and up and up. The laundry pile gets bigger and bigger and bigger. I feel completely overwhelmed by just the ordinary responsibilities of life. I feel overwhelmed even though I barely do anything.

I get up out of bed. I walk the dog. These are the two consistent things I manage to do.

Mostly, I feel suffocated by my existence. I feel ashamed for how little effort I put into helping myself get better. I feel like I waste Dr. X's time, because I know what I need to do. I need to DO. I need to get active. I need to participate in life. I need to work, to contribute.

Why then, do I just sit there staring at the wall for hours on end wishing my life would change?



Things that Make Me Feel Joy..

2010-05-04T10:35:16.431-07:00

I search. that is what I do, and have always done. I search for meaning, for truth, for love, for joy, for hope and promise, and for understanding. Today I was (re)searching volunteering, or getting involved with, a church in my city whose members do absolutely incredible things for other people.

This church does a lot of work with and for people who have been pushed aside and seemingly discarded by a society that has the means to care for them, but seems to choose not to. They work for addicts, and street people, for those with mental illnesses and those who need more support than they receive through government programs.

As I was reading their website I came upon a list of their values. I won't write them all, but as I read this one I laughed (gleefully) at how beautiful it was:

" We value outrageous generosity".
Wow! I like that.



"O"!!!

2010-04-30T11:41:09.825-07:00

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"What is the message you have for me?" I asked this out loud, as I watched two crows fly over me. They fluttered to a landing spot directly in front of me; their glossy iridescent blue/black feathers shining brilliantly in the sun. As I stood there it seemed their message was to enjoy the company of others. Hmmm...

Later during this day a third crow flew down and landed in front of me. I asked again, "What message do you have for me?" He turned to me with an "O" in his beak...(maybe a Cheerio?), but an "O" nonetheless .

"O", I pondered. What does that mean?

I am making an effort to see differently than I have seen before. To listen to the messages. To see myself as part of the bigger picture.

That night I found myself still wide awake at 2:00am. For a week I had been eating a 1/4-1/3 of a marijuana cookie before bed to see if it would help me sleep. That night I had no cookie...and sleep was seemingly impossible.

I generally do not use pot. I had a couple bad experiences with it when I was younger...one that ended in my breaking my leg while fleeing pot induced "hallucinations"?/"visions". I was afraid to try it again, but in cookie form, and in small amounts I really am finding it helps my sleep both in terms of how long I stay asleep and how restful my sleep feels.

So, at 2:00am, laying in bed, with no sleep to be found I was feeling a bit desperate...so I ended up taking a BIG toke off a friends joint. Then I crawled into bed to try again.

As I lay there I began to feel like my throat was swelling up. I was finding it increasingly difficult to breathe. It seemed to be getting worse. I tried to get out of bed, but I couldn't move. It was like I was paralysed.

I began having "visions". Not hallucinations, but nightmare like thoughts...you know how while you are having a nightmare it seems real? Like that. I was being encased in a net like object? (or being?) that looked like thick mohair-like gray and black wool. It was holding me down on the bed.

I tried to call out to my boyfriend again and again, but no sound would come out of my mouth. I was unable to get up and help myself, my throat was swelling so much I was suffocating and I could not call for help.

My mind decided I was about to die. (REALLY!)...my brain thought this was the case.

I started to panic, but suddenly my brain said to me, "Death is inevitable. You have no choice. You wanted to die before. Let it go." Suddenly, I became so relaxed. I stopped worrying, let myself "die" . I felt incredible.

As I let go, stopped panicking, accepted my fate and my situation I felt myself able to breathe again. Ohhhhhhh...!

Stop fighting. Stop struggling. Accept my fate. Perhaps, this is the way; the path I need to follow. It seems so clear now that this is what the crow meant when it brought me the "O".



Lithium

2010-04-26T21:51:17.530-07:00

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The types of thoughts, and manner of thoughts I was having when I wrote the post, ""How are you? "I'm Okay."" seem to have slowed right down since I increased my Lithium dosage.

A few weeks ago I was having extremely rapid suicidal thoughts, mixed with a rapid self deprecating/loathing "voice" inside my head telling me how awful I was, and how my boyfriend was trying to leave me, and how I should just end it all. The best way I could describe my mind at the time, with it's "machine gun" like thoughts, is to say it was "manically" depressed.

Like the referenced post I had a piece of music relentlessly, rapidly and repeatedly playing over and over in my head. My thoughts were so distressing and so unforgiving I really wanted to just remove my brain from my head. I thought I was really going mad, so I increased my mood stabilizer: Lithium.

Almost immediately after increasing the Lithium I felt some relief. A few weeks later I still feel depressed, but I am having more moments of relief and the bad "noises" in my head have slowed right down. With the demise of all that negative energy I feel a sense of hope again. I feel like maybe I can feel better. This is a huge relief. Thank you god...whoever you are.



"Communication Breakdown"

2010-04-22T17:43:39.886-07:00

On my way to my therapy session today I was thinking about how difficult is to be completely forthright, open, and honest with someone else, even my psychiatrist. I do not mean that it is difficult to try to tell the truth, or to try to open up. I believe I am as open/honest as I can be during each therapy session. I mean how difficult it is to be ACTUALLY completely honest with someone else, or even with myself for that matter.

Today I went in thinking I am going to completely let my guard down, and try to tell Dr. X. some of the things I have been deeply ashamed about doing, about allowing to continue, and about feeling. When I tried to get all the feelings and thoughts out in the open, they just sounded stupid as I heard them come out of my mouth.

Maybe it wasn't that the thoughts sounded stupid, rather that I sounded stupid for not valuing myself enough to put an end to some of the issues I am struggling with. Also, I felt really awkward, because as I blurted out what I needed to say it felt like what I was talking about, (what seemed so shameful), was no big deal. Why then was I so stressed out about what I wanted to say? I guess that "nothing" still seemed/seems, really painful to me.

I do not want to write the details about what is going on, because I need time to figure out my own perspective. It's complicated. It's about my relationship with my boyfriend, our difficulties communicating, the impact both of our mental illnesses have on each of our abilities and desires to communicate in a way that is meaningful to each of us.

It's about how our past experiences with trauma, physical, mental and sexual abuse, depression, drug abuse, and mental illnesses impact and affect our current lives, the way we think, the way we read and translate other people's body language, and how we interpret the actual words coming out of our partner's mouth.

Although I have always recognized the impact all the above have on communication, in my relationship now I am really becoming even more aware how even a simple sentence can mean so many different things depending on the context, the current state of the relationship between speaker and listener, the time of day, previous conversations, mood states, medication, lack of medication, sleep...and the list goes on...

Right now I am hoping I can improve my ability to communicate effectively. Maybe that will help both of us.



Loss and Loneliness

2010-04-15T20:11:32.281-07:00

These past few months I have really been feeling an increasingly intense sense of loss; frustration, irritability, anger, sadness, loneliness, aloneness, abandonment, fear, terror, hopelessness...

The most important thing to me, my entire life, has been my family. I would do anything for anyone in my family. I feel my connection to family has slipped away, and almost disappeared, since my Mom died. The disconnection began before she died. As my mental health deteriorated, and hope of wellness began disappearing, my family started distancing themselves from me. In the past year my sisters have really pulled away, and my Dad has taken on a detached attitude...not replying to my e-mails, or making sure our calls are short.

I understand why. I get that it is overwhelming to be around me when I do not feel all up and bubbly. I just really miss my family connection. I miss being a part of the family like I used to be.

I miss me. So far I have lost my young and middle adult years to this illness. Looking forward all I see is being old and even crazier. The future seems unbearable.

Believe it or not, before I became ill I was a person people wanted to be around. I was a bit wild, full of life, ready for love, open to new things, was passionate, compassionate, (I think and hope) kind and caring. I was active, always had tons of energy, was inquisitive, questioning...though often a bit naive and gullible...mostly because I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings by questioning their motives.

I loved all kinds of music, loved to dance, go to concerts, loved school and lectures, was passionate about learning, read everything I saw, swam like a fish, sang like a manatee, rode my bike everywhere, campsites were my favourite resorts. I really loved to canoe, hike, and rollerblade. I felt one with nature, one with the world, the universe, my friends, my family. Basically I absolutely, positively and actively LOVED LIFE and all it had to offer.

Now, today, this year and last, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that...etc., etc. , I feel disconnected, disaffected, disillusioned, dismissed...pretty much destroyed.

All day I felt like painting a big banner that says, "I HAD POTENTIAL..." and unravel it as I hang myself from the bridge. I feel like because I am mentally ill and not "recovering" like everyone else seems to, like all the literature and studies say I should, like my family expects me to, I am blamed, or dismissed, or left to fend for myself. It is as if no one knows, cares or understands I need love, care, help. I feel really really really hopeless and alone.



Do You Ever Feel...???

2010-04-13T21:03:21.286-07:00

(Please note: I the following post I use the words, "crazy, insane, mad etc. loosely in describing only myself. I in no way intend, or even ever feel, that others having similar symptoms are anything but beautiful, though at times tragic), examples of the breadth of human experience). I'm just exhausted and weirded out and scared, and probably bitter and angry, about my own experience)Do you ever feel like it doesn't really matter how you feel, because you are fucking insane, and everyone thinks you are crazy, so no one "really" listens anyways? And even if they did, the way you are would make absolutely no more sense to them than it does to you?I feel like I am losing touch with reality. Yet, how can I be losing touch with reality if I know I am losing touch with reality? I am seeing more and more things around me, and inside me that are passing me some kind of meaning filled message/s...(though can't quite figure out the message/s...), that are making me feel like I am being sent messages, or things are showing themselves to me in order that I find some deep meaning in their presence.(Eg., mood switching up after going to the front of the church and praying every night, mystical animals (crows) appearing when I need them to appear, pictures of wolves falling off my bookshelves, another wolf appearing on a torn out page of a children's book, right in front of me on the sidewalk, and then the terrifying wolves showing up in my nightmare, then the number 3: three pictures, the 3 nightmares, each nightmare made up of 3 parts)Thing is, although my mind really does believe this "messages are being passed to me" idea pretty deeply...I can also see that maybe I'm crazier than I thought or something is happening whereby things just "happen", or "show up" at truly random times and places and for some reason my brain is seeing all these things as signs or patterns of meaning that I am MEANT to see??? God help me...Since I got out of the hospital I have been severely depressed, almost more severely than when I went into the hospital...except last Wed evening my mood started to rise and I had a really great week. All week the rapid onslaught of negative and suicidal thoughts completely stopped, and I felt hope again. I felt like I was cared for, had tons more energy, felt talkative and social. I pretty much felt like I was on the mend. In fact, I felt sure I was becoming well....Until Sunday at 5pm.You read that correctly.Somewhere around 5pm on Sunday the voice inside my head returned with no warning and no reason behind it returning. {note: Although for the two nights prior, I had really two really bad nightmares, the likes of which I haven't had for a long time (and last night my wolf returned to me in another nightmare}Just as I was entering the 5 rd bridge the voice/thought, (It has no sound...so it is not really a "voice", but it seems external), said to me:"You have failed everyone. You have disappointed your dad so much, what a waste of life you are". And I started to cry.Ever since then the voice has been going on and on about every bad thing I do, or mistake I make, how everyone really is sick of me, how I am not really loved by my boyfriend, how he is pulling away from me, how I have disappointed him and destroyed our relationship, etc.,Then the voice switches to telling me how fucked up and wrong my thinking is, and how I am just imagining all this stuff and if I would just stop thinking it would all go away...but either way the voice goes on and on and on...maybe it is two voices?? I don't know anymore what is real, and what is my brain having crazy talk.These thoughts/voices intensify and speed up or slow down. I believe they are magnified when my anxiety gets worse...as I have been having re[...]



"How Are You"? "I'm Okay."

2010-03-20T11:27:54.552-07:00

I haven't really written for a long while. and for days now I have been wanting to write about this...and then in my last post I saw the last commenter comment about a similar dynamic when people ask how you are. So I am going to let it out...It makes me crazy'(er) that I can never be me with anyone. When my sisters or stepmom, or dad call they sometimes ask how am. Sometimes they avoid the topic altogether. My usual response is either, "I'm okay", or "I'm not feeling so great". If I say the latter the topic changes so fast to something else that it is obvious the question was just a polite conversation opener.My sisters and family are good, loving people...It must be the chronicity of my illness, the awful person it makes me become, and the neediness of myself that has them pull away from me so much.A couple times I have tried to express how I need help because x, y, z is happening; i.e. I have been honest about how depressed I feel. The topic changes, or the person tries to get off the phone as fast as possible...and the stops calling or e-mailing completely to protect themselves.What I most often want to write when they ask how I am , and I am unwell, is: " I am feeling really scared and depressed. I cannot stop thinking about suicide. The noise in my head, telling me to kill myself, telling why it is the best thing, planning how to do it, etc., won't stop. I feel like nobody loves "me".They love the "me" who laughs and is funny and upbeat...that is part of me, but often that part of me comes out when I am trying to help others feel okay around me, or if I am trying to not act as crazy as I feel. When I want to be cared for, or loved, I try really hard to suppress, or minimize all the things about me that others either cannot handle, or understand, or will take as proof that for their well-being, they should get me out of their lives...NOW.I understand why this happens. It would be hard to have a sister/daughter like me. I understand, but it hurts me so much that my family doesn't try to help me, or somehow let me know I can call them if I need help. I feel so intensely alone.Even with my pdoc I am afraid if I tell him what I really feel he will think I am overstating, or that I am crazier than I am. I often leave his office thinking God I must drive him crazy. I try to be/say/express less suicidal thoughts/ideas/plans than I really have, or am, or really feel. I tell him I have the thoughts, but I don't think I have been able to express their relentlessness inside my brain; the way, over, and over and over, and over, the thoughts speed through my head, telling me to:"...wrap a rope around my neck, wrap a rope around my neck, do it, do it, do it, do it do it...shoot yourself, kill yourself, hire someone to kill you, no one loves you, you are alone, completely alone, lonely, this depression just keeps getting worse, and the worse it gets the more people move away from you...""...your family doesn't want you anymore, they only want you when you are okay, they don't want to hear about how you need help, they want you to just go away. So my brain says to me, over and over, "...do it, do it, do it, hang yourself, wrap a rope around your neck, etc., etc." All the while, that Violent Femmes Song, "Why Can't I Get Just One Kiss?" is playing rapidly. obssessively, over and over inside my brain...like I can't get away from the song, or the thoughts.I can't tell anyone these things. I even don't want to write them here, because all I want is to get them out of my head. I am venting; trying to help myself find some relief.So I answer, "fine, been feeling a bit down, but that's okay"...WTF!!! "...that's okay"?."...a bit down"???? This will never end...end it.[...]



Is it the ECT? The anesthetic? My Meds? A Natural Shift?..

2010-02-15T21:34:01.784-08:00

I just read this article about Ketamine and how it can almost instantaneously help treatment resistant depression. I wonder if they use that as part of the ECT aenesthetic?...maybe that is why I feel so good?

Well...I still awake, not dumped afterall and high as a kite...

I am wired for sound, super excited to be alive, enjoying my life, feeling like the old me is returning full steam ahead. The excited, enthusiastic, loving, busy, energetic, action oriented, unstoppable me is back. and I am loving every second of it.

I can see I may be a bit too high (like the not sleeping at all may be a bit of a problem). I am switching from task, to task, to task...having a hard time keeping focused on one thing. Everything seems so important!!! I'm also feeling a sense of my self racing...both my mind/spirit and my physical being.

I HAD to find some sedatives last night and the two nights before (I found some left over Valium), because I was so hyper I felt panicky. The Valium didn't seem to do anything at all for my hyperness...so I had a couple stiff drinks tonight. That didn't help much (if at all) either...so maybe I will take more sleep meds to try to slow myself down. I'm also a bit too quick to anger/lash out.

Overall though, I just feel like my old self...happy, busy, excited to be alive, creative, thrilled with life, full of ideas, ready for action, enthusiastic and full of love and appreciation for everything and everyone...that old self that I love and have missed so much.

It seems I have not been "dumped" after all. I think maybe I was not thinking clearly yesterday. I can see I may have been a bit to "On", "pushy", and dare I say..."demanding", or at the very least full of extraordinarily high expectations. My sweetheart is really slipping into a deep depression right now and I think I need to try harder to step back, slow down and let him choose a pace that works for him and helps him keep himself stable.

It is hard to explain what I feel. I have not had the pleasure of feeling this way for any decent period of time, for so long; of experiencing the self I like, love, adore... for so many years...that I feel "obliged" to wring every last drop of joy out of my brain...to soak it up, to slather myself in all I love and need and want. I feel I need to do everything and anything I want to do, and feel like doing...while I have the capacity to enjoy my life and all it has to offer as much as I am right now.

Look out world...are you ready for me???



I can't sleep...it's almost 4:30am!!

2010-02-15T04:32:26.192-08:00

My day was weird...

It's Valentines Day and I think I have been dumped, without actually being dumped. Let go with no mention of a breakup. Men confuse me.



Oh The Swings in These Things...

2010-02-14T00:42:51.195-08:00

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Wow...an about face took place yesterday. I woke up feeling revitalized, alive, joyous, on, high, exhalted, creative, beautiful, sexy, talented...all those things I feel so rarely. I feel, and have felt the same high all day today...and wow have I got tons done...cleaning, driving all over the city doing all kinds of chores, helping others, 3 huge and long and beautiful walks in the pouring rain with my dog, and I painted all evening...it was so great.
Here are two paintings I finished last night (one was part done, the other I had barely started before last night)...I painted for 6-7 hours straight..dancing singing, painting...loving my life in these moments...ahhhh!!!

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Each of them are 24" X 24", acrylic on canvas...and the canvases have a 1.5" profile...They look better in real life, but I will share anyways. I felt so good this past two days that (dare I say this???)...I actually felt that with more practice and experience I could be good at this!!
Wow...I feel great!! I have decided that maybe I will continue ECT, because I have not had as many good days in the last 9 years as I have had in the last 3 months...sure I'm still depressed, but at least I am periodically getting some really good relief.



Raging Depression

2010-02-10T19:00:55.579-08:00

I feel so messed up right now I feel like I cannot even write. I was about to delete my blog, when I read the last comment, by Chris, on my last post. One of the big reasons I wanted to write this blog in the first place was to reach out to people who are struggling with mental illness, and in particular, depression.

I do not know what is happenening to me, but I am not doing well. I have been going for ECT weekly, but nothing good is coming of it. The past week and a half, (maybe more), all I have felt is RAGE. I feel so angry inside I feel like I am going to blow up; explode! There is so much bad energy in me right now. I do not understand what is happening to me. I am both scared and I have had it. I can't take life anymore.

When I went for ECT on Monday, I tried to express that I wasn't doing well, and the Dr./nurses asked me if I had changed my medicine. I stopped taking the high dose of dexedrine because I am wondering if it is making me crazy. They didn't even listen to me...and scoffed at my complaints about anger/rage...saying I was feeling that because of medication withdrawal.

If they had listened to me they would have understood that I had been feeling enraged for days/week before I decided to stop the amphetimines. I stopped them BECAUSE I was feeling bad...I didn't feel bad because I stopped them. I'm still angry, irritated, flustered, frustrated, cranky, and so depressed I don't know how to keep trying. I want to go...



My Heart Feels Broken...

2010-02-03T22:37:57.839-08:00

...in so many ways.I feel so desperately and severely depressed today. I could feel the depression returning on Monday, despite having ECT Monday morning. I felt cranky, and irritable, frustrated, flustered and I found myself swearing like a sailor all day. My memory is so brutally bad. I am forgetting things, mixing things up, times up, schedules up, losing things, confused about important things and basically feel mixed-up and lost. I feel like my hope has disappeared.All day, all I wanted was to die. Please god let me go. I cannot take this anymore. I thought ECT was helping me heal...but I think my last commenter may be closer to the truth...it may have been the support and friendly gestures from other patients that helped me feel better. For various reasons...my external supports are very low right now.I wanted so badly to call one of my family members for help today because I cannot stop dreaming, wishing, hoping I will die. Problem is...I just finished telling my family how much better I felt, and all of them are thrilled. My Dad, who never asks me how I am, or lets me know he's on my side, has been phoning me to see that I`m well. He told me he was so happy to hear I was better the other day. He said he thought I would never be well. My stepmom said she didn`t think I would survive this depression much longer...She is right. How do I call and ask for support, when everyone wants so badly for me to be well? How can I let everyone down again? I can't.On top of all this my dog has been really sick. I don`t really know what happened, but while I was in the hospital, he was at my sister's. At some point my sister said he beat her dog up, and wouldn't stop. This sounds exactly "UNLIKE" my dog. I have never seen him bite another dog, ever! He is usually the friendliest and gentlest dog in any group. I hope this misbehaviour was a one off type of behaviour. It scares me that he behaved that way.I feel awful that he behaved like that...but the vet that looked at him at the time did nothing for him...saying he was okay and now he is very, very sick....and covered in many, many, many puncture/bite marks many of which had become infected. The other day he got a fever, and twice could not lift himself into my car's back seat. When I lifted him in, he stood up briefly and then collapsed onto his side. I raced to the nearest vet and he was hospitalized; where he was rehydrated with intravenous liquids and given blood tests, and antibiotics, and 2 days and almost $800.00 later he was sent home with me, where many of his bites continue to be, or become, infected.Then there is my relationship. I know...with all my problems...it has probably been hard for my boyfriend, but I try really hard to be there for him too. I think my being sick is too much for him. I woke the night before last night at 5am...and he was gone...no note, no phone call. Yesterday he said he told me, but my memory is so bad...I do not remember at all.He e-mailed me the next day and said he got really anxious and just needed to get outside and walk, and walk, and walk. I asked him if we were okay, and he says yes...but I sense I am being dumped and he's trying to be nice about it.I hate weird games, and excuses...they only work to make me imagine the worst, and imagine the worst is my fault...like I'm too crazy for him, too depressed, too broken. If it really was anxiety, just talk with me about it...we talk about that kind of stuff all the time. We were fine until I actually let him know how depressed I really am and he saw how sad I was. I guess on some level I hav[...]



Becoming Me Again...and then losing myself all over again...

2010-02-02T16:55:18.905-08:00

These beginning statments were written Jan. 28, 2010:
I cannot think of any other way to describe the transformation of my "self" that has taken place over the past 7 weeks. Over the past two or three weeks I have witnessed my rebirth.

Until the past three weeks I believed I was gone forever. I believed my depression had taken me over, taken me away, destroyed my self. I was giving up. My hope had disappeared. I never believed I would find hope again. I was wrong. There is hope. It is possible for me to feel better. There is a chance I will become well again. Thank God!!!!


I have been gone for a long while. I went to the hospital the first week of January, because I could not manage my depression anymore. I asked to have Electroconvulsive therapy again (ECT) to try to lift my mood a bit. I was hospitalized for it, because I did not have anyone to help me do it as an outpatient. I really believe I needed to be in the hospital, and that the stay helped me too.

First, in the hospital I met so many wonderful people. My first two roommates were sent to me by God, I am sure. They helped me find so much hope in such a difficult circumstances. It is really incredible what the love and care of another human being can do for another person's soul. Second, in the hospital I could let go of my responsibilities and just do things for me. I have a hard time taking care of "me" in the outside world. I don't know how to just be. I am always so worried about everything. I can't seem to just let go anymore, and just be. Something about being in the hospital gave me the "permission" I needed to just be. That seemed to help me.

The afternoon I wrote the above, for the first time in years I actually felt like the real me, the happy me, the enthusiastic, happy to be alive me, for more than 2 or 3 days at a time. As I wrote about my "rebirth, I felt I was truly at the beginning of my rebirth. Then the last few days happened....I have not felt like that at all.

I feel myself sinking again. Even after ECT (maintenance ECT) yesterday a.m. I did not seem to feel any better. Today I feel so depressed again, I am afraid I am slipping back into my old patterns. I feel no hope. I feel alone. I feel like a burden. I feel hard to be around. I feel overwhelmed and overwhelming. I feel like I am sinking back into the black pit and sinkhole from which, only a few days ago, I believed I had escaped.

I am so scared my "rebirth", was just a blip; scared I am returning from whence I came. I cannot manage that idea.



I Can't Sleep

2010-01-24T03:35:52.172-08:00

Argh...I have so much energy running through my brain that I cannot sleep...in fact worse...I am WIDE WIDE awake. I went to bed at 11pm and I thought I was really exhausted. I seemed to fall sleep for a while, but then started getting restless for about 45 minutes, so got up for a while. When I looked at the clock to see what time it was when I got out of bed it was only 12:10 which means I slept a grand total of 25 minutes.

I look exhausted, with huge bags under my eyes, but I feel wired for sound; not even a tiny bit tired. I'm going to try to sleep again now...drank some warm milk and am comfy, cozy. I really hope the ECT isn't triggering this insomnia...I don't do well with less than 8hrs sleep/night.



wow

2010-01-24T02:20:00.476-08:00

I guess I should explain what happened with my boyfriend situation and why I would return to him after how he acted (see a couple posts ago).First, I really care about him. I'd say I love him. He is not without his faults (as am I), but so much of him is full of love, affection and kindness. He is most often, thoughtful and fun to be around....but he has a mental illness too (Bipolar), and while his medications seem to keep his symptoms in check MOST of the time, external stress/stressors can trigger his symptoms and make his behaviour unpredictable, strange, or unexpected.While I do not have bipolar disorder, I do have bipolarlike cycling to my mood, and like my boyfriend stress triggers unexpected behaviour sometimes. I recognize his behaviour the other night was unacceptable, and I do not condone, and will not accept being treated that way. However, I also feel intense love and compassion for him given the pressures he is trying to manage right now. We have talked very openly about his actions and what is worrying him/triggering him.I have been in the hospital, and away from him him for a very extended period (almost 50 days). Prior to my hospitalization he and I spent almost all our time together. For numerous reasons he really needs consistent support and loving, caring role models around him as much as possible. He currently lives in a supportive housing project, with a beautiful family who treat him like a family member. Unfortunately, they have decided to go their seperate ways and stop doing some of the charity work they have been involved in. This means my boyfriends needs to find new, safe, clean and drug free housing that is away from neighbourhoods known for having drug problems. Finally, after numerous nattering "arguments" about the "wrong" things...my boyfriend blurted out that he desperately misses me and is finding it really hard to be alone while at the same time being scared about where he will end up living. So tonight we sat down and had a heart to heart talk about how we are going to help him. No matter what, he will not end up on the streets. I am not ready to move in with a man, but he can always stay with me until we find him a good place to live. I think that made him feel better.I know some people wonder why I would open my arms to him again after some of the things he said to me. I do so because I love him, but also because I see we are able to talk about these mistakes and work through them. I do so because some of the triggers can be attributed to my not being honest with him. I thought I was protecting him by not telling him how depressed and suicidal I had been feeling for so long. Instead, my dishonesty only made the truth harder to handle. This has been a good lesson for me.Last, but not least...I can see some of his behaviour is being affected, impacted, and/or caused by his mental illness symptoms. He is willing to work on those symptoms. He has also committed to me that he will come with me to some of my psychiatric therapy sessions so we can work on our relationship. I personally experience difficulty controlling some of my behaviour, especially in situations where I am under extreme pressure, or stress, or if I am intensely anxious. If it were me who had lost my composure and said things, and behaved in ways that were hurtful to someone, and if I felt my symptoms had made a difficult situation worse, I hope and pray my boyfriend, or friend would have some love and compassion for me.I have that [...]



Catch Up

2010-01-23T14:14:59.221-08:00

I have been in the hospital so haven't been able to keep up with my postings or responses. I apologize. I am still "technically" in the hospital, but am out on a pass right now. It feels so good to be at home!!!This post is going to be a smattering of things I have been doing, information about treatments for depression I have been receiving and results I have experiencing from those treatments. Here goes...1) ECT (electroconvulsive therapy)...I remember, years ago when I was in university, the student newspaper published an whole issue that was radically anti-electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Am I ever glad I never listened to all the negative hype and (with trusted support and help) decided for myself whether I would try ECT as a treatment.I have been receiving unilateral ECT treatments approximately 3X/week for 3 weeks. The X-mas holidays made it a bit mixed up. For the past couple weeks I have had ECT treatments once a week. I said in the previous post my increase in mood has been nothing short of miraculous. I was so severely depressed a couple weeks ago, and throughout most of the past 17 plus years( ...actually I had MDE's even before that, but the worst ones and this past 10 year plus treatment resistant MDE, have occurred in the past two decades).Yesterday and the day before my mood was so intensely high I felt like I was in heaven. My self had come back!!! I was bubbly, effusive, effervescent, talkative, extremely outgoing, energetic, so happy I cannot even describe it. I felt like I was glowing, beautiful, and I felt extremely sexy and sexual. This is how I feel when I feel well. I think the intensity feels so strong because feeling good for me has been so hard to achieve, and suddenly all my bad feelings and thoughts were gone.Unfortunately, my mood began to crash last night, but nowhere near as low/bad as it was before. It definitely is low though...which is upsetting, as I have seen this kind of cycling mood before, where I become my high self for a few days, only to crash and burn a few days later.I am hoping this crash is temporary, and caused by my not sleeping the other night. I slept last night, and hopefully will sleep again tonight, and maybe that will help lift my mood again.2) I don't even want to write this, but I will...I wonder if I have been hypomanic the past couple days. I really did not think so, until my boyfriend and I started discussing my behaviour and he told me I was being really pushy about sex. Until he said that I just felt like me and my "true" high sex drive had returned.I know I have a much higher libido than many women...even when severely depressed, if sex is initiated by someone else I almost always am happy to participate...though I have difficulty initiating when depressed). I was feeling extremely sexual last night, and I can see how my boyfriend might have felt a bit overwhelmed by my advances, as he was not feeling very well.He told me that sometimes when I am "high" I get really demanding and pushy. I have received this feedback from other people before, that sometimes I am so "ramped up" and "on", and when I am I sometimes demand the same level of energy and competence from others. I have seen this in myself too. I can tone it down, but unless I constantly pay attention to my behaviour I tend to slip right back into high energy mode.Problem is...I think this behaviour is my personality...not my mood. Many members in my family have this same personality...super on all the time, cons[...]



Electroconvulsive Therapy

2010-01-16T10:41:24.487-08:00

I apologize for disappearing offline for so long. I have been in the hospital receiving ECT(electroconvulsive therapy) and have had limited access to my blog.

Since mid-December I have been receiving left-unilateral electroconvulsive therapy 3 times a week; on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. I have had 13 treatments so far and am scheduled to have at least one more this coming Monday.

I am not sure if more are scheduled this coming week, but once I am discharged from the hospital I will be receiving outpatient ECT first probably once a week, then once every couple weeks, and then maintenance ECT will continue at once a month.

How I feel right now is nothing short of miraculous. I have spent most of my adult life battling depression; especially in the last 10 years. In the past 10 years I had very little relief from my mood disorder. I feel like I spent the last 10 years just trying to survive each day.

By the time I entered the hospital I was the closest to suicide I have ever been. I was spending every waking moment planning my demise. I had given up hope. I was completely distraught. I could not take life the way it was anymore.

Today, and for the past week, I feel like I want to live. I feel excited to be alive, happy to be breathing. I feel blessed to be alive. I feel like I have been given a chance again. I feel incredible. I feel hope that I have not felt in a long, long time. I am eternally grateful to everyone who helped, supported and encouraged me to survive this illness and receive the treatment I needed to become well.



In Hospital for ECT

2009-12-13T14:36:30.715-08:00

I have been in the hospital since Monday and am receiving Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) treatments again. I had my first treatment on Friday. Everything went okay. I was a bit scared as I climbed onto the surgery rooms treatment table/bed. I have been through this before so I was no where near as scared as I was the first time I had ECT.

That said, I started to cry as I went under, because I was a bit scared, and I really feel like my life is not worth all this effort. Some of my tears were of shame, for being like I am.

When I woke from the anaesthetic I was very confused and had no idea where I was, or why...and all the people staring down at me on the table really freaked me out. As soon as the nurse explained where I was I remembered and calmed down...(I almost felt, for a brief moment, like I had been abducted).

It surprises me, but as soon as I got into the hospital I felt better on a scale of 1-10 than I have in a long time....maybe years. This confuses me and makes me wonder if I am just weak, and need to be taken care of (it is really hard for me to even think that... I want so badly to be able to care for myself). I am still really depressed, but not near as depressed as I have been in the past few months.

I believe some of the lift is because, while I am in the hospital, I have no real responsibilities. I was really stressed out about all the things I was supposed to be doing: teaching art classes, helping teach a class, walk my dog 3-4 times a day, feed my dog, do all I need to do around my house like cook, shop, clean etc., etc.

My sister phoned me back and said she would take my dog for me. Thank god. My other sister came over to my city and took me to the hospital, and stayed with me for the 9.5 hours it took me to get admitted.

Yes, you read that right. I sat in emergency from 8:30am until 6:00pm. It was so stressful. I must have repeated my exact same story to 5 or 6 different people, nurses, nurse liaisons, residents, dr's, psychiatrists. I do not understand how this can be more efficient than having my own psychiatrist say I need an inpatient stay and calling me when a bed is available.

Anyways, I have ECT treatments Mon, Wed, and Friday next week. I have my laptop with me, but cannot figure out how to get access to the wifi here. I will write when I can, but I just want to tell you I am in a safe place, getting the treatment I need.