In The Hospital, Day Two

I slept very poorly. Part of it is the noise in my head while another part is probably because I don’t sleep well the first night at a different place.

I haven’t done much more than eat and lie in my bed. This afternoon I did participate in one of the groups where we did some writing. I decided to write the beginning to a mystery story.

I’ve been in touch with my family and FA since I’ve been here. Being able to text and do things like video chat sure makes it a lot less lonely.

The staff here has been exceptional and has made being here as easy as possible.

I had a meeting with Dr W today and tomorrow we are going to make a medication change. Slowly reducing the Zoloft and slowly adding Effexor. I’m lucky to be in the hospital because we can make the change faster than if I was seeing Dr W once a week.

I also heard from Dr C today andshe is willing to do a telephone session if I can’t make it to my appointment on Friday.

II feel a lot less down and unsafe than I did yesterday. I think once I get some good sleep and the Effexor kicks in things will progress rapidly.

Stay safe!

 

Back In The Hospital

Things got pretty rough over the weekend. I called Dr W’s office and when he called back I told him what was going on. The short version is that things in my head were so loud that they were drowning everything else out. J, as always, was super supportive and kept me together until I got to the ward. I’m feeling pretty rough right now so I expect the posts over the next while to be brief (if I post at all).

 

Stay safe.

Not So Great

Things aren’t going very well right now. I’ve been having a lot of noise in my head lately and I’ve been having trouble sleeping, which is a really bad combination for me. We ended up calling the Crisis Line last night and J had a good chat with the person on the phone (I wasn’t able to make the call).

I’ve had voices rising above the crowd in my head before and they’ve always been the same. Two male voices, one of which is demanding to know where my Disaster Recovery plan is, and the other berates me and tells me I’m no good, I’m a burden… that sort of thing. What has me scared this time is that the voice that usually berates me is now telling me that everyone would be better off without me and I should just off myself.

I’m listening to music all the time now to try and blunt the voices but all it does is give me another sound to listen to – it doesn’t get rid of the other crap going on in my head. It’s better than nothing, but I sure would pay some real money to get rid of this stuff for good. I don’t understand why it’s come back – I know I haven’t done anything wrong but I sure feel like I did.

I have my next Dr W appointment on Wednesday but I’m going to call ASAP Monday morning to see if I can get in and see him before that. Dr C has given me a lot of really useful mindful tools that allow me to tell what’s rational and what’s irrational, but I’m really worried that if I continue to get little sleep the line between safe and unsafe may blur.

I’m supposed to get together with WG tomorrow morning to go to the record store but at this point I just can’t do it. I feel really bad about that – WG is such a good friend and I feel like I’m deserting him. I hope he understands.

Stay safe.

Happy Mother’s Day!

My mom has put up with so much crap and weirdness from me over the years I sometimes wonder why she and Dad never sent me off to join the circus or something like that. Bad report cards, two years of university for nothing, a whole heap of condescension and sarcasm, mental illness… Mom stayed Mom throughout all of it. I am truly blessed with the best mom in the world.

I’m also blessed with the best mother-in-law in the world. I may still be a little afraid of her, but she’s always been wonderful (and makes really good salads and desserts). Despite her daughter being married to someone who’s not on an even keel, she supports both J and I completely and I can’t thank her enough.

If your mom is near or a phone call away, take a minute and thank her for all the good things she’s done for you. If you can’t get ahold of your mom, thank another mom who has made a difference in your life.

Stay safe!

Ups And Downs

I didn’t sleep well at all last night. Far too much was going on in my head to let me relax and when I did fall asleep, I woke up with nightmares and had very strange dreams. The weirdest dream I remember had me standing in the checkout line at the local grocery store. The man in front of me turned around and it was Hank Williams Jr. He and I then broke into an a cappella duet singing “Help Me Rhonda” while the other customers around us clapped.

I woke up from that one wondering if my nighttime medications had expired and gone bad or something.

I went out into the living room at about 1AM and read out there until a little after 3AM. I went back to bed but sleep was still elusive. I know I managed to fall asleep at some point but I don’t know for how long – all I know is I felt like crap this morning.

After J left for work I tried to take a nap but ended up staring at the wall or ceiling. I tried napping on the couch and in the comfy chair downstairs but the results were all the same. I put on some records and tried to ignore the noise in my head but I think it was just destined to be a bad day.

I got an email from Dr C saying that she was ill and couldn’t make our appointment today. I think that worked out for the best – I don’t think I would’ve been comfortable driving this afternoon.

I spent some time observing the shrimp. They’re interesting little creatures. Watching them eat is very interesting and almost looks like they fold up the fish flakes while they’re eating them. I could still find two of the little baby shrimp so at least some of them haven’t been eaten by their parents yet.

There’s another big ransomware scare today. It’s shut down some UK hospitals and is spreading rapidly. When I saw that, all I could think of was what I would have been doing if I was still at work. I could feel that familiar tightness in my chest signalling that a panic attack was on the way but I got away from the computer and did some grounding exercises and managed to avert it.

I have no idea what I’m going to do this evening or this weekend. I’m behind on the laundry so I need to do some of that; I also need to put some stuff away. Maybe I’ll finish putting the seat and panels back on the motorcycle so I can move it to a different spot in the garage and do some welding. That would be nice. I’m sitting around a four right now, it would be really nice to bump it up to a six or seven.

Stay safe!

My Panic Disorder

Trigger Warning: this post may contain content that can trigger a shift in mood, comfort, or mental status. Proceed at your own risk.

Panic attacks are awful. Usually I can feel them coming and I get scared even before they hit. My chest hurts, my vision changes, my body feels like it’s screaming all over, and my mind completely gives up rational thought and all of my fears and insecurities and worst-case scenarios wash over me again and again.

More than almost anything, I hate panic attacks.

You know what’s really dumb, though? If I’m not careful, I can have a panic attack about having a panic attack. Yes, really. I worry a lot about having a panic attack when I’m driving or out in public somewhere like a store or mall or gas station.

I used to be a confident, average driver. I’ve got a little truck mostly for winter driving and a motorcycle for the summer. I used to really enjoy driving, but one morning, I had a severe panic attack while driving and ever since, I feel anxious even being a passenger in a car.

I’m very limited as to when and where I can drive right now. I’ve been improving things a bit at a time, but I’m a long way from being the reliable and comfortable driver I used to be. I worry that I’ll have a panic attack while driving and lose control of the vehicle and hurt someone or stop up traffic. I’ve been on 4000km trips with my motorcycle but last summer I couldn’t even sit on it, nevermind starting it up and riding it.

The thing is, a lot of the time when a panic attack hits, I’m the only one who knows about it. I’ve had several panic attacks in the local grocery store – including once while I was at the checkout – and aside from my own discomfort and misery, I don’t think anyone else really knew what was going on. I may have been breathing a little funny and sweating for no reason but it’s not like I was jumping up and down or running around screaming.

Sometimes doing a round or two of grounding helps. Sometimes being fixated on an object like the ones I have in my stress box helps. Sometimes nothing works and I just have to ride it out, reminding myself that they don’t last forever.

The good thing is, thanks to Dr C, Dr W, and J, I’m not having nearly as many as I used to.

Stay safe!

Motorbike Is Done!

I didn’t sleep all that well last night. I woke up at least three times from nightmares and it felt like the sleep I did get wasn’t of very good quality. Fortunately, I didn’t have anything important going on so I was able to walk around like a zombie and take a short nap.

My goal today was to get out to the garage and put oil and coolant back in the bike. Since it was a nice day out, I decided to try and mow the dandelions on the front lawn into oblivion first. I got the mower started with a bit of effort and, once done, realized my work had made zero difference. Oh, well.

Then I got to the bike. The oil was pretty easy since I’d done it many times before, but the coolant was another story. Half-remembered stories of corrosion and sediment had me very worried I was using the wrong stuff, but a call to a local motorcycle shop confirmed that what I was going to use was okay. I filled the radiator up and made sure the level in the reservoir was between the low and high marks. Then I went to start it and it fired up with very little effort. That bike hasn’t let me down yet.

That boosted my spirits quite a bit – I’ve been really anxious about finishing up the bike. I don’t know why, but it was really weighing me down. I think when I take it into the shop to get a check-up I’ll ask them to check the coolant just in case.

The new ghost shrimp we got yesterday seem to be doing quite well and the cleaner shrimp don’t seem to mind their arrival. In fact, today I found a very tiny little shrimp in my little tank – probably only about 2 to 3mm in length. J found a second one, so unless they came in with the shrimp yesterday (which is a real possibility) then the cleaner shrimp have had little baby cleaner shrimp. It will be interesting to see how things turn out.

It was pizza day at our house, so J and I settled in and watched Interstellar. I thought it was a very good movie – and at almost three hours, it’s good that it was. The only part I found a little silly was the end where it reminded me a bit of Contact, but I think I can give it a pass since the rest of the movie was so good.

I think I’m sitting somewhere around a six right now. I hope I sleep better tonight, though. I have my Dr C appointment tomorrow and those are always a lot easier when I’ve had a good sleep.

Stay safe!

Doing A Little Better

I woke up this morning feeling much like I did yesterday, plus very stiff from all the work that DA and I did at his cabin. J had an appointment this morning so after she left I wandered around the house trying to think of something to do. I couldn’t think of anything so I sat down on the comfy chair in the basement and tried to clear my head. Unfortunately, there’s still muttering going on in there so that didn’t help things.

After J got home I took a nap in the chair and woke up feeling a little better than I had earlier. J and I spent some time talking and then she read a book and I sat down and tried to see if I could get any more oomph out of my seven year old netbook.

At about 1:30PM we left the house to go to the pet store near the hospital and ended up picking up some ghost shrimp – three for my little enclosure and two for the big aquarium in the living room. They all seem to be doing well so far, but at $1.49 each it’s not the end of the world if they kick the bucket.

My Dr W appointment this afternoon was a little more difficult than usual. I explained how the weekend went and how I’m upset that everything is screwed up and there’s not a faster way to do all of this stuff so I can get better sooner. He assured me I’m doing everything right and cautioned me against trying to rush things. He was very happy that I went out to DA’s cabin and saw it as a positive development. He agreed that maybe I wouldn’t want to do it again anytime soon, but that I should try to push back the limits of my comfort zone once in a while.

J and I played a game of cribbage after supper and hung out for a while before she went back to her book and I went back to my netbook. It doesn’t look like I’m going to get much more out of it – the processor is just too old.

Tomorrow I’m going to try very hard to go out to the garage and get the motorcycle back in order. No promises, but I’m going to try.

Stay safe!

Not That Great

Trigger Warning: this post may contain content that can trigger a shift in mood, comfort, or mental status. Proceed at your own risk.

I’ve been feeling pretty anxious and down today. A lot of it has to do with what happened Sunday night with the storms, but most of it is something more profound.

See, I used to really enjoy thunderstorms. When I was a kid, I’d open the patio door, shake my fist at the sky, and yell, “IS THAT ALL YOU GOT?”, which horrified my rather religious mother. I loved thinking about the enormous amount of energy that’s bottled up in a thunderstorm and how it can make the cutlery rattle in the kitchen and pictures bump against the walls.

Sunday night, I was terrified by the storms. I wasn’t home, but I was somewhere safe, with a good friend snoring away in his room. I had light, I had music, but I couldn’t control my panic – it grew and ebbed with the storms that rumbled their way through the area.

It really bothers me that the storms freaked me out. It’s just one more thing that my mental illness has wrecked for me, and that sucks. I can no longer watch movies that I used to really enjoy (Alien, Cloverfield, and Predator, to name a few) because they send me into an anxiety and panic spiral. After I turn off the show, take my PRN, and do some grounding and breathing exercises, the depression surfaces. WHY can’t I do simple things like enjoy the weather anymore? WHY can’t I handle watching a scary movie? WHY can’t I handle things like the wail of an ambulance siren? WHY can’t I get out of bed some days? WHY can I look at the dandelions and tall grass on the lawn but can’t gather the willpower to go outside and mow? WHY am I afraid to put oil and coolant back in my motorcycle even though I was the one who took them out last week?

WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY????

I feel like a little kid. No – not a little kid. Little kids are much more brave than I am. They’re not afraid to try stuff or do stuff they already know how to do.

God, this is frustrating. And humiliating.

Stay safe.

Overdid It A Bit

On Saturday evening, DA sent me a text asking if I wanted to go to his cabin from Sunday morning to Monday evening. I felt both excitement and dread at the prospect and asked J if she could be my voice of reason. I hadn’t been outside of the city in over a year and that scared the heck out of me, but DA is a good guy and his cabin is way in the sticks and very relaxing to be at. After a lot of discussion, I texted DA back, let him know my limitations, and if he was ok with that, I’d go.

He’s known me long enough (and has been kept up to speed on my illness enough) that he was fine with my limitations and so he would be by at 10AM the next morning. I talked a lot more with J about it and she said that if I got into trouble, she’d come and pick me up or meet DA halfway – whatever it took. I packed most of my stuff that evening.

The next morning, J and I went to the grocery store to pick up some stuff for the trip. We got home, I finished packing, and we waited for DA to arrive. I was quite nervous.

DA arrived and we took off toward his cabin. It’s almost a two hour drive from home and we used the time to catch up (we hadn’t seen each other in several months). I was nervous all the way, but it was at a level that I could handle pretty well.

Once we got there, DA said, “Are you okay?” When I said I was, he replied, “Okay, that’s the last time I’m going to ask you. If you need anything or just need to sit down or go for a walk, feel free and no pressure.” I appreciated the gesture and took him up on it a couple of times.

We spent the day fixing up his dirt bike and quad and then cleared deadfall from one of his dirtbike trails. It was good work and kept me focused and not dwelling on my anxiety. Chopping up and loading the dead tree for firewood was particularly good for that… and it showed me just how out of shape I am.

That evening DA cooked chicken for supper and it was excellent. We hung out, listening to music and talked about how our lives are going. Before I was moved into a different section, I worked for DA for about twelve years. We know each other pretty well. He talked about how work was going, which brought back a flood of anxiety but I did okay and quickly changed the subject. He asked a lot of questions about what it was like at the hospital and I was happy to fill him in.

We called it a night at about midnight. As I was getting my sleeping bag ready on the couch, a flash of light caught my eye – a thunderstorm off in the distance but on its way. I was exhausted but excited – I grew up out in the country and I love a good thunderstorm.

I’m not sure if it was because I was in unfamiliar surroundings or because I didn’t have a good way to get in touch with J (the cellular reception out there is just this side of nonexistent) and didn’t want to wake her up, but the storm really did a number on me. I was terrified. I turned on my flashlight and pointed it at the ceiling so I could see where I was but it didn’t help. I took some PRN lorazepam and quetiapine but they didn’t seem to help. One storm would blow through and I would have a HUGE panic attack, then it would quiet down for a little while before the next one blew through. There was so much lightning that I could have gone outside and read a book.

A little over four panicked and extremely long hours later, I managed to fall asleep.

When I got up, I tried to put the previous night out of my head but the anxiety was still there, along with a good heaping of embarrassment. Fortunately, I was able to keep myself quiet enough that it didn’t disturb DA in his room but it was still really embarrassing for me. I’m over 40 and suddenly scared of some thunder and lightning. What else will cause me to panic, and when will I find them out? In the middle of a shopping mall? At home by myself? Out at a restaurant with J?

Anyway, DA and I had blueberry bagels with cream cheese for breakfast and then got back to work clearing the bike trails around his property. I was tired, but things were going along pretty well until I was driving his quad while towing the little log trailer he just finished refurbishing and I got hung up on a tree by the trailer. It was so loud – BAM! – that I was sure I’d broken something. Another panic attack hit me, right in front of DA. I tried to keep it from showing but I could hear myself saying. “I’m so sorry, whatever the damage is I’ll pay for it” over and over.

Only after DA checked out the trailer and quad and I did a bunch of grounding exercises did the panic start to dissipate. In its place was – once again – embarrassment. At least I wasn’t walking around, waving my arms and crying like sometimes happens when I’m panicking.

We cleared three more trails and stacked the logs back at the cabin. Around 3PM we started to clean up and get ready to head home. Still embarrassed about everything, I didn’t talk much but we got everything ready pretty quickly and got on the road. DA did most of the talking but thankfully he didn’t seem upset about anything. He’s a good friend and a good guy.

He dropped me off at home at about 6:45 and when I got inside I got a huge hug from J. It was so good to see her again and to be home. I took a quick shower and checked for ticks and then we sat down and had supper. It was so good to be home.

I just re-read this and it looks like I’m an ungrateful guest. I’m not – I really appreciated DA asking if I wanted to go to his cabin and really enjoyed hanging out with him. The only problem was that I don’t think I was ready to be away from home overnight. The experience gave me things to think about and showed me several things that I still need to work on, so that’s a good thing.

If DA asks me if I want to go out to his cabin again soon, will I? I don’t know. I think it’s something I need to talk to Dr C, Dr W, and J about, but I do know one thing – if I do go, it’ll have to be for the right reasons. Not because I think I have to or because I feel I owe someone something, but because I WANT to go.

Stay safe!