Adventure

255

255. That’s the number of mass shootings we have seen in America this year as of six days ago. Some organizations define a mass shooting as a shooting event where four or more people are killed. According to Gun Violence Archives, there have been 9,049 gun deaths this year alone. I know that it feels hopeless because I have felt hopeless about this issue. My hope is that generations to come will be surprised and appalled by these numbers because by then, hopefully, our government will have stepped in to do something.

I went to Washington, D.C. in May to lobby with Amnesty International for Lobby Day and one of the issues we lobbied on was universal background checks (H.R. 8- The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019). The legislative coordinators for my representatives (all Republican) were, unsurprisingly, not supportive. One of them mistakenly believed that this bill would somehow take away guns he already had. That’s not what this bill would do. Federal law already requires licensed dealers to conduct background checks. H.R. 8 would require unlicensed gun sellers to utilize this same system by requiring them to sell or transfer firearms only through licensed dealers.

Depending on how the question was asked in different polls, between 84-94% of registered voters support universal background checks for firearm purchases, so why hasn’t this been implemented yet? The short answer is the NRA. My two senators, specifically (Burr and Tillis), have received more money from the NRA than almost any others, with the NRA spending almost $7 million on Burr and $4.5 million on Tillis. The House passed H.R. 8 about five months ago, but Mitch McConnell, who has received $1.26 million from the NRA, has elected not to bring H.R. 8 up for a vote in the Senate.

I know this post will not be popular with some people, but the reality is that gun violence has reached epidemic proportions in the USA and we have to do something about it. Just this week, Amnesty International issued a travel advisory for the USA because of how pervasive gun violence is here. Some people argue that requiring background checks won’t prevent all gun violence- and they aren’t wrong- but shouldn’t we at least try to reduce gun violence in any way we can? Isn’t any reduction in gun violence an improvement?

The other piece that I wanted to address is the frankly astonishing number of people blaming mass shootings on mental health. This week, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York advocated making a database of people with mental health problems. There are SO MANY problems with that, starting with the fact that it would have virtually no effect on gun violence. Between 95-97% of violent crimes are carried out by people who do NOT have serious mental illnesses. Only 3%–5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. People with mental illnesses are TEN (10!) times more likely to be VICTIMS of violent crime than our neurotypical friends and family members do. These shooters have many things in common- their belief in White Supremacy, their hatred of women, their fear of people who are different from them, a history of violence (particularly against women) but MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT ONE OF THOSE THINGS.

You may be thinking, “ok, that all makes sense, but realistically, what can I do?” Here are some actionable items:

Call Mitch McConnell and urge him to hold a vote on H.R.8- (202) 224-2541
You can say “Hi, my name is ______________ and I want to tell Senator McConnell that he needs to hold a vote on AND support H.R. 8.”
Call your representatives and let them know you support H.R. 8- If you are in North Carolina, they are Tom Tillis ((919) 856-4630) and Richard Burr ((828) 350-2437). You can say, “Hello, my name is __________ and I am a constituent from __________, North Carolina. I’m urging the senator to support H.R. 8, The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019.” If you have personal experience with gun violence, tell them about it. Personal stories make things more real to legislators.

Support Moms Demand Action, a nonpartisan group working to end gun violence. According to their website, “Moms Demand Action is a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence. We pass stronger gun laws and work to close the loopholes that jeopardize the safety of our families. We also work in our own communities and with business leaders to encourage a culture of responsible gun ownership. We know that gun violence is preventable, and we’re committed to doing what it takes to keep families safe.” Visit this link to find a chapter near you. I know the Asheville branch meets on the first Monday of each month at The Block Off Biltmore at 6pm.

If you’re exhausted after reading this and after watching the news this week, I feel you. I’m also exhausted and disheartened and occasionally feel hopeless. In the words of Glennon Doyle, “we can do hard things.” We can’t only contact our representatives following horrifying mass shootings. We have to tell them year round that we want an end to gun violence.

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mental health

We’re All Mad Here Part 7/7

This is a seven part series. A new part will be released every Wednesday until all 7 are out.

Disclaimer: As some of you may know, I took a Memoir Writing class in 2017.  For that class, I wrote a lengthy (22 page) story about my first time going inpatient in a mental health facility back in May of 2015.  I utilized a “journal” or sorts that I kept while in the hospital. It was really just a yellow legal pad with notes scribbled all over it each day. I was hesitant to share it here because it’s very frank and may contain details of thoughts I had that some people may find disturbing, but I also feel it’s an important look at what being in a mixed episode can feel like.  In a mixed episode, you experience symptoms of both mania and depression.  So you may have a ton of energy and engage in risk taking behaviors but your self talk may be incredibly negative and scary.  At any rate, I’m now going to share that story with you weekly in several parts.  I’m not sure how many parts yet, but I don’t want to make each post so long that no one wants to read it.  Some parts of this story contain strong language not suitable for children.  I know some of the stuff I have written and write in this part are really off the wall and bizarre, but they are the honest thoughts that I had at the time.

It’s about 12:25AM so it’s technically June 1st now and I’m still pretty wide-awake.  Last night the meds worked so well together, but I was also taking double the dosage of Latuda at the time.  I would really love to be sleepy and be able to fall asleep easily.  My head hurts a bit, too.  I wonder if I’m getting a migraine on top of everything else.  I bet taking 2 Naratriptans would help me fall asleep, but that would be a super off label use for those.  I wonder if every book ever written is really just an autobiography or a biography.  I keep trying to come up with ideas for my books but it really isn’t working, even though I’m manic.  My best ideas for them are at least somewhat based in reality or in someone’s perception of reality.  Monica said she would read these journals as a book.  Changing all of the names would be a giant pain in the ass, but maybe there could be a journal compilation of all of my mental health stuff one day when I’m older.

I’m pretty even keeled at the moment, but I did take a whole bunch of medicine two and a half hours ago.  I love that this is a women only unit, unlike anywhere else in the area.  I really miss River Dog and I wish I could see her.  I can’t wait until I get back home to her for an extended period (after Destin, hopefully).  I really hope I can get into the IOP when I get back it town.  It really helped at Mission last time and I bet Park Ridge is even better.  I was so very worried about going inpatient and it has largely been a truly positive experience.  I really wish I had Google here so I could look up some quotes.  I’d like to make a quote collage or quote book.  It really meant a lot to me when Jac said he thought it was courageous to come here.

I’m supposed to wait until 1AM to check back about meds.  I really fucking wish I was sleeping because I really want to go home Friday and go to the beach on Saturday.  Today will be my fifth full day here and I was told 5-7 days but I’m still awake right now so that isn’t looking too promising.  I don’t know whether or not I should lie to the doctor and say I’m feeling better than I really am.  I can always do inpatient again when I get home if I need to.  It’s after 1:10AM and I’m still not tired.  The nurses Kaylee and Zoe gave me 1mg of Ativan, but I take that during the day and it barely affects me.  I wish I could Google Seroquel to see what all the side effects are to see if that’s a viable candidate.  The doctor was mentioning Depakote as the gold standard for people with mixed episodes.

I’m currently hallucinating the instrumental soundtrack for Titanic but I don’t want to tell the nurses because I want to go to the beach so badly on Saturday.  I’m most bummed because Mom and Dad won’t go to Destin without me and I would feel really guilty if they missed seeing everyone and a whole week at the beach.  Nurse Kaylee said that if I’m still awake by 3, she will go ahead and take my vitals.  I don’t want to miss any groups or anything, but the nurses will start waking us up in a little over 4 hours for vitals and 4 hours of sleep to me is basically 2 hours of sleep to anyone else.  I really wish I could call Mom right now and ask her what to do.  I’m going to have to make sure it’s in all my goals and everything that I want to be discharged on Friday.  Maybe the P.A. I see tomorrow will be more sympathetic.  The hallucination has stopped now.  It lasted for probably 20 minutes or so.  Maybe if I stay up all night tonight and all day today, I’ll sleep really well tomorrow night.  Between 1:30-4PM are the only things I really care about tomorrow anyway.  Ugh this not being able to sleep is so annoying.  And despite what she said, I doubt Monica or anyone else would be interested in reading this drivel.  I think I’ll try reading my book or lying down or something that may be more conducive to falling asleep.  This really sucks.

I finally fell asleep sometime after 2.  I saw the P.A. named Jessica and the only change she made was to increase my Ambien to 10mg.  She said the goal is for me to leave by Friday.  I got to go on a walk with Samantha, Evelyn, and Tia.  Katie said someone named Teri called while I was out but I can’t figure out who on Earth that is because my therapist, Teri, is on vacation this week.  I also spoke to the social worker today.  She liked my WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) and discharge plan.  She said the treatment team met today and decided the goal is for me to leave on Friday.

Elizabeth freaked out and slammed the phone and the door and threw her chair earlier.  She was refusing meds and is very paranoid.  They told her she could take the pills or they would give her a shot of her Geodon.  Sometimes I really feel like I belong here and sometimes I feel like I’m much better off than most of the people in here.  The worst is when Evelyn says crazy things that make perfect sense.  I called Sheridan today and talked to her.  I would like a nap but we have a group where we will learn about nutrition in a few minutes and I really want to be able to fall asleep tonight.

Tiffany called me, not Teri.  This is sort of like the time that Katie hung up on my mom because I left the phone hanging for like ten seconds.  She’s real sweet, but not the brightest crayon in the box.  Although, sometimes I get the impression that she is smarter and more manipulative than she lets on.  I’m exhausted.  On some level, I think I should just let my body go to sleep whenever it wants to.  On another, I’m not one hundred percent sure I’m capable of taking a nap and sleeping tonight.  I think I’ll go ahead and read then take a shower before meds so I can go straight to bed after.

Jac called and I was woken up from a very brief and fitful nap to talk to him.  He sounded really good.  I’m excited to see him Saturday night.  I’m so exhausted.  I can’t wait to go to sleep tonight.  I think I may finally be coming down.  I took a shower and now I’m going to call Mom to ask her about shorts and a swimsuit.  We are going to go get me the shorts and a swimsuit on Friday after I get out of here before we pick River up.  I wish River could just come with us, but that doesn’t seem like something that can happen.  I know I haven’t covered all of the goings on of the day or even the most quotable moments, but I desperately want to get a good night of sleep tonight.

P.S. Katie has a sore throat and if she gives me strep before my one real vacation this year, I will be murderous.

I’m feeling better today and I slept fairly well last night.  I’ve noticed a pattern: many if not most of the people in here are very sick but think they are very well and don’t belong here, including me.  I am irritable today and I’m getting over-stimulated fairly easily.  I think I’ve dipped down into hypomania now.  The P.A. said I can go home tomorrow, so I will get to go to Destin after all.  I just had to take an Ativan because a lady in our group was talking about incest and even though I’m thankfully not a victim of incest, it was triggering and really upsetting to hear about.  I will pack a whole bottle of Ativan for the beach trip, I think.  Mom, Dad, and Tiffany are coming to visit today.  I’m happy I will be seeing them.  I think I’ll write less now that I’m no longer manic.  I think I’ll take a nap soon.  Elizabeth thinks the nurses are always talking about her and was rambling on about how they know about Ingles because they saw her Facebook.  It made literally no sense at all.  I understand now what the doctors and nurses mean about my level of insight and self-awareness.  I think I’ll take a nap now.  Just kidding, it’s ten minutes until lunch.  I’ll eat my chicken fingers THEN I’ll take a nap.

I did nap briefly until a friend called and someone came and woke me up so I could take her call, then Mom, Dad, and Tiffany got here for the group.  Mom and Dad left afterward to drop my prescriptions off at CVS but Tiffany stayed until visitation ended at 4.  I’m so grateful to her for driving all the way out here and coming to visit me.  I know the mental hospital makes her uncomfortable and she came anyway.  She really is my best friend.  I read a little bit then went to Relaxation Group with Samantha at 4:30 then dinner at 5.  Afterwards, I had my blood pressure checked and Nurse Bethany gave me my Propranolol.  She thanked me for being so nice, I thanked her for being so nice, then I apologized for all of my many questions.  She said she would much rather have all the questions than cussing and people saying they hoped she would die.  I said that was fair enough.  I’m going to read until PM group/snack, then take a shower, then take meds, then go to sleep.  Tomorrow, I go home.  This place was so scary to me once, but now I see it for what it truly is, a place of rest and rehabilitation.

If you’re still here, thank you for reading all of my wild ranting and raving.  Some people have told me it’s hard to tell when I’m manic and I think that’s because so much of it goes on inside my head and isn’t visible.  I hope this doesn’t frighten you or change the way you feel about me, but I thought it was time you got a good look inside my head.

mental health

We’re All Mad Here Part 6/7

This is a seven part series. A new part will be released every Wednesday until all 7 are out.

https://accioadventure.com/2019/01/30/were-all-mad-here-part-1/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/06/were-all-mad-here-part-2/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/13/were-all-mad-here-part-3/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/20/were-all-mad-here-part-4/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/27/were-all-mad-here-part-5/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/03/06/were-all-mad-here-part-6/

Disclaimer: As some of you may know, I took a Memoir Writing class in 2017.  For that class, I wrote a lengthy (22 page) story about my first time going inpatient in a mental health facility back in May of 2015.  I utilized a “journal” or sorts that I kept while in the hospital. It was really just a yellow legal pad with notes scribbled all over it each day. I was hesitant to share it here because it’s very frank and may contain details of thoughts I had that some people may find disturbing, but I also feel it’s an important look at what being in a mixed episode can feel like.  In a mixed episode, you experience symptoms of both mania and depression.  So you may have a ton of energy and engage in risk taking behaviors but your self talk may be incredibly negative and scary.  At any rate, I’m now going to share that story with you weekly in several parts.  I’m not sure how many parts yet, but I don’t want to make each post so long that no one wants to read it.  Some parts of this story contain strong language not suitable for children.  I know some of the stuff I have written and write in this part are really off the wall and bizarre, but they are the honest thoughts that I had at the time.

Mom came for Samantha’s family group earlier today before Dixie was discharged.  I didn’t really get to talk to her about it, but I felt like a lot of it didn’t really apply to us.  Dixie came in at the beginning and started giving Evelyn’s mom shit about not calling Evelyn at all in the past month.  Evelyn is such a pure sweet person.  I sometimes think she understands things most other people don’t.  Still, it was none of Dixie’s business.  I really worry about myself in the moments when Evelyn makes perfect sense to me.  Like when we were talking about how maybe this is a coma we’re in and it’s not our real lives.  Or her idea that maybe she was stuck inside a Ouija board.  Her brain is just so fascinating.  She is also tremendously kind and just wants to help other people.  She has conversations with people I can’t see and sometimes I wonder if I’m just not enlightened enough to see and hear them, too.  Which is pretty good proof that I definitely need to be in here.  Anyways, it was lovely to see and tease and joke with Mom.

At the end of our group, Monica got here!  It was so great to see her and just talk and laugh about everything that’s happened.  If I couldn’t laugh, I think I’d have to cry.  I just took my first increased dosage of Tegretol and Gabapentin and I have to say, I do feel calmed down and more normal, but that could also be the Vistaril, Klonopin, Ambien, Propranolol, etc.  It meant so so much to me that Monica drove all the way out here to see me.  She brought me books and she tried to bring me Reese’s cups and Coca Cola as well, but those weren’t allowed in as food items are contraband.  I am endlessly grateful for my support system.  I don’t like to use the word often, but I’m incredibly blessed.  I love that the pages and pages I’ve written since I got here are just the same 26 letters rearranged over and over again.  Every book is the same way and it blows my mind!

What if I never get better?  What if I’m just in and out of hospitals for the whole rest of my life?  What would that mean for me?  I know what it would mean, really.  I would rather die than spend the rest of River’s life away from her.  Where does she even think I am? Grandmom and Granddad sometimes come home smelling like me.  Does she think it’s just her I don’t want to see?  Or maybe she can smell the mental illness?  She could certainly tell I wasn’t well before I came here.  She was behaving much better and spending a lot of time curled up next to me.  I don’t know what I’ll do if I’m not released in time for the beach.  I’d be sad about missing it and feel guilty about Mom and Dad missing it and annoyed about not getting to see Jac or Brad and Jeff and the Laurens and Lily and Carson and my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmother.  I think if at any time anyone starts being negative or invasive, I will just say, “I’m not comfortable with this conversation.”  I think that would be a good way to handle it.

Monica couldn’t believe that we don’t have groups led by LPCs (Licensed Professional Counselors) here but she said it was like the Hilton and I agree.  It’s an all women ward with 11 single rooms.  The food is good, the nursing staff is excellent, and the doctors are ok too even if they do directly contradict each other.  I kept trying to ask Monica about her life but then I’d get distracted and talk about something else.  I know it was only the mania, but I still feel bad.  It’s so hard to focus on only one thing right now and it’s a real struggle to concentrate.  I wonder what River is doing right now.  Probably sleeping in between Mom and Dad on their bed.  I feel so badly for Mom and Dad right now.  I know they must be so worried and scared but I’m really very safe in here and it was bound to happen some time.  I will just be seriously pissed if Mom and Dad miss the beach because of me.

I wonder if people have successfully killed themselves in here and if so, how?  Aside from drowning themselves in the toilets, which I discovered my first night would probably be the only way to do it in here.  Has someone killed themselves in my room?  Is it haunted?  Is that why I wake up during the night?  How old is this building?  How old is this mental health ward?  What would have happened to me if I had been born 50 years earlier?  I would have spent the first 24 years of my life as a normal girl then been sent away to an asylum forever.  Mom and Dad wouldn’t have been able to make it to every visitation, I’m sure.  Would there have even been visitation?  What if Mom and Dad are lying at home murdered in their bed with River in between them also dead?  What if that asshole bear that killed the neighbors’ dog killed them all?  I should try to go to sleep.  What if I don’t wake up from all the pills they gave me?  I love you, Mom, Dad, and Jac.  I love you River.  I love you Asher.  I love you friends.  I love you family.  I love you kindred spirits.

mental health

We’re All Mad Here Part 5/7

This is a seven part series. A new part will be released every Wednesday until all 7 are out.

https://accioadventure.com/2019/01/30/were-all-mad-here-part-1/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/06/were-all-mad-here-part-2/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/13/were-all-mad-here-part-3/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/20/were-all-mad-here-part-4/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/27/were-all-mad-here-part-5/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/03/06/were-all-mad-here-part-6/

Disclaimer: As some of you may know, I took a Memoir Writing class in 2017.  For that class, I wrote a lengthy (22 page) story about my first time going inpatient in a mental health facility back in May of 2015.  I utilized a “journal” or sorts that I kept while in the hospital. It was really just a yellow legal pad with notes scribbled all over it each day. I was hesitant to share it here because it’s very frank and may contain details of thoughts I had that some people may find disturbing, but I also feel it’s an important look at what being in a mixed episode can feel like.  In a mixed episode, you experience symptoms of both mania and depression.  So you may have a ton of energy and engage in risk taking behaviors but your self talk may be incredibly negative and scary.  At any rate, I’m now going to share that story with you weekly in several parts.  I’m not sure how many parts yet, but I don’t want to make each post so long that no one wants to read it.  Some parts of this story contain strong language not suitable for children.  I know some of the stuff I have written and write in this part are really off the wall and bizarre, but they are the honest thoughts that I had at the time.

That stupid fucking P.A. said she was going to add a PRN medication to help me sleep and she didn’t. I’m fucking furious. I only wake up for a few minutes each time, then fall back asleep pretty quickly, but it takes me a long time to fall asleep initially and I wake up really early and am unable to go back to sleep and all of this is affecting my quality of sleep and my mental health! I’m so angry. The nurse said I’m supposed to go to sleep then just come get them the first time I wake up at which point they will call the doctor on call and tell him I’m not sleeping. Then I’ll have to wait for him to call in the order to the hospital before they can actually give it to me. Then it will take at least 30 minutes for whatever he calls in to kick in, then I may have a hard time waking up in the morning because of how late it is going to be taken. The P.A. is a giant bag of dicks.

I’ve taken a shower and calmed down very slightly, but I’m still extremely pissed. I’m half tempted to refuse to go to sleep at all on principal. If they aren’t going to help me, what the fuck is the point of me being here? If they aren’t going to help me get a good night’s sleep, I could be at home in my own bed with my sweet dog! This is bullshit. To be fair, I was in an ill mood before I even found out. At snack, Dixie was asked to respond to some very specific questions and she went off on a tangent. I legitimately cannot stand that woman. Everything is about her all the time. She interrupts everyone when they are speaking and is constantly giving advice I didn’t ask for (and that no one else asked for either). She is also a one upper and a complainer and just generally a bitch. I tried yesterday and today to be patient and kind with her, but I don’t think I would have succeeded on one of my best days, let alone when I’m locked in a small ward with her and my medication needs are being ignored by a rude P.A. and I’m manic and everything is too loud and overwhelming and just generally too much.

I want to go home. I want my room and my privacy and my dog and my gym. I want my books and my car and my nook and my Netflix and my amazon. I don’t know if I can last 4 more days in here. It’s truly not a bad place, but Dixie makes me feel punchy for sure. I’m going to go back to my reading now.  Update: Lindsay, the very nice nurse, is going to go ahead and call the doctor on call to try to get some Ambien or something so I’m not awake so many times in the night. That P.A. sucks, but the nurses here are incredible.

It’s my fifth day here and I almost got a full night of sleep last night.  I only woke up one time, but it was to Dixie’s loud voice down the hallway.  I’m so sick of her.  I wish they would send her somewhere else already so this place could be more peaceful.  Monica is supposed to come visit today.  Mom will come at 6:30 for the group about families then she will leave around 7 when Monica gets here.  I hope I wrote Monica’s name correctly on the visitor log. Now I’m anxious about it and I’ll probably go check with the nurses to see.  The chaplain stops by my room to tell me about the devotional in the TV room.  I’ve said no for the past 3 days.  I don’t know what he thinks has changed.  The nurses say they will let Monica in, no problem.  Another chaplain comes to visit me again and I politely send her away.  I think that if I was going to be here for any length of time, I would make a sign for my door that says “No chaplains, please.”

I speak with the doctor and he says I can maybe go home on Friday.  If I’m not starting to genuinely do better by Thursday, I think I’ll start lying and saying that I’m doing better.  I really want to go to the beach and the nurses told me it isn’t uncommon for people to ask to be released for family vacations.  Dixie has been annoying today, but not as bad as yesterday.  I am mostly trying to avoid her.

Dixie brings out the very worst in me and I can’t stand her.  I can barely stand to be in the same room with her and that’s only when she isn’t talking.  A nurse from my general practitioner’s office called me back while I was peeing earlier and Dixie answered the phone and lied and said I was asleep.  She didn’t even come to my room to check!  What a bitch!  I just realized that Dixie probably told them I was asleep because she wasn’t invited to go outside with us the other day because someone genuinely thought she was asleep.  She is also probably still pissed about no one coming to get her for supper last night.  She is supposedly being discharged tonight and I CAN’T WAIT!!

First of all, Dixie is gone!  Her daughter called and was bitching at the sweet nurse about releasing her even though the nurse had no control over that.  I told the nurse that if Dixie’s coming back, I want to go somewhere else.  I got to go outside to the fish pond with Samantha, Marie, Eveleyn, and Allie.  I stuck my feet in the little creek running into it and it was lovely.  Dinner was good but the kitchen didn’t send a few of the things I ordered.  Samantha also had a good group earlier today.  I overheard the nurse’s conversation with Dixie’s daughter and I heard the nurse specify that Dixie probably didn’t meet the admission criteria for some other specific place because she hadn’t been combative while she was here.  Even though I wanted it desperately, I couldn’t believe they discharged her.  If they released her, me getting discharged shouldn’t be a problem at all, even though the doctor only said maybe to me getting out on Friday.

mental health

We’re All Mad Here Part 4/7

This is a seven part series. A new part will be released every Wednesday until all 7 are out.

https://accioadventure.com/2019/01/30/were-all-mad-here-part-1/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/06/were-all-mad-here-part-2/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/13/were-all-mad-here-part-3/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/20/were-all-mad-here-part-4/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/27/were-all-mad-here-part-5/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/03/06/were-all-mad-here-part-6/

Disclaimer: As some of you may know, I took a Memoir Writing class in 2017.  For that class, I wrote a lengthy (22 page) story about my first time going inpatient in a mental health facility back in May of 2015.  I utilized a “journal” or sorts that I kept while in the hospital. It was really just a yellow legal pad with notes scribbled all over it each day. I was hesitant to share it here because it’s very frank and may contain details of thoughts I had that some people may find disturbing, but I also feel it’s an important look at what being in a mixed episode can feel like.  In a mixed episode, you experience symptoms of both mania and depression.  So you may have a ton of energy and engage in risk taking behaviors but your self talk may be incredibly negative and scary.  At any rate, I’m now going to share that story with you weekly in several parts.  I’m not sure how many parts yet, but I don’t want to make each post so long that no one wants to read it.  Some parts of this story contain strong language not suitable for children.  I know some of the stuff I have written and write in this part are really off the wall and bizarre, but they are the honest thoughts that I had at the time.

Today is the third day and it’s one of the hardest.  I think I may be worse off than when I got here. Thoughts are racing and not altogether logical. Yesterday, Evelyn was talking about how she can’t color anymore and this morning, I was coloring. Now I’m worried that I accidentally stole her ability to color, but I know that doesn’t make any sense. One of the most frustrating things about being mentally ill is having these off the wall thoughts and knowing logically that they don’t make any sense but not being able to make my brain and heart connect and both realize it. I didn’t sleep through the night. I woke up a few times then woke up for the day around 5:30AM. I’m also very hungry but there is over an hour until breakfast.

I’ve now had breakfast and meds- Propranolol, Gabapentin, Ativan, and a multi-vitamin. My thoughts are slowing down and I think I may even be able to read. One of the nurses suggested I nap. Oh how I wish I could nap. I’ll see the Physician’s Assistant today. I’m definitely not ready to go home yet, as much as I miss River and want to be able to go to Destin on Saturday. I’m hopeful I’ll be out in time for that though. I’m paranoid that no one likes me and I’m annoying everyone. I hate asking the staff questions because I know how busy they are, but at least I’m not Dixie. She interrupts every conversation and makes it about herself. Turning into one specific extended family member used to be my worst nightmare. Now, it’s turning into Dixie.

I was sort of afraid of the new lady yesterday, but Monica is actually very nice and cool. She has her Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology. I found out that Lily has Bipolar Disorder and Schizo-Affective Disorder and has been in and out of inpatient treatment for almost a decade. It’s been very normalizing to talk symptoms with these ladies. I’m not alone and many of my symptoms are very normal for people who have mental illnesses.  Mom and Dad are coming to visit today! We get special visitation today because of Memorial Day. It sounds like Lily is crying…I want to go check on her. Against my expectations, I’m finding that I care about most of these ladies.

Lily does not want a hug and I still do not know what made her upset. The medicines are clearly helping in some capacity because I am much calmer after taking them and my brain makes more sense. Maybe they will just let me keep taking the benzodiazepines until I’m no longer manic. I actually have like 4 bottles of 1mg Ativan at home, so I can keep taking it even if the new doctor doesn’t prescribe it.  Lunch is grilled cheese and it is delicious. Every time I order it, I receive something new and different. Before lunch, we did turtle themed arts and crafts with Nurse Isabelle and talked about the importance of turtling or sort of retreating back into ourselves in situations that aren’t good for our mental health.  It was fun. I also colored this morning and I’ve read some. Mom and Dad will be here at 2pm to see me. It is still before 1pm, I think. One of the really interesting things about being here is that we aren’t allowed to wear watches or to have clocks in our room, so if we want to know what time it is we have to walk down the hall to the nurses’ station. I would like to nap but maybe I’ll just read since I don’t believe I could actually sleep right now.

I still haven’t seen the P.A. yet today and I want to talk to her about sleeping since I haven’t slept through the night since I got here and I was wide awake this morning after not sleeping well and waking up multiple times. I’ll be kind of annoyed if I get pulled out of visitation to talk to the P.A. when my parents only get to see me for 2 hours and she literally has 22 other hours in the day where she could see me.  The P.A. tries to pull me out of visitation but I say no and she agrees that we can meet later.   Visitation is good! Mom and Dad get to stay for 2 hours but it feels like only 30 minutes. After they leave, I see the P.A.  She was going to increase my PRN (as needed) meds for tonight in hopes that I could sleep. Dixie is being a raging bitch tonight at dinner. She is pissed because no one came to tell her it was dinner time, even though dinner is at the exact same time today that it’s been every day and even though it’s her own responsibility to come out in the hall and check the clock like the other ten of us do when we need to be somewhere at a certain time.

One of my favorite patients in here was just having a very loud and angry conversation with an invisible person in her room. I think she may have paranoid schizophrenia but bipolar disorder and a few others are possible too. She talks a lot about all of the time she has spent in the spiritual realm and the missions God has sent her on and how badly she wants to get to Heaven quickly. There are noises coming from her room now and I kind of want to check on her but I’m kind of afraid to. She just came in here and she seems a little better now. I, of course, had to hide this notepad. Things could have gotten awkward otherwise. That was an exaggeration. I really just flipped this page over so that all she could see was a blank sheet. I exaggerate a lot and sometimes flat out lie and those aren’t things I particularly like about myself. They typically happen when I’m manic. I’m glad I’ll only have to be in here for another week, but I feel really sure I’ll end up back in inpatient again.

mental health

We’re All Mad Here Part 3/7

This is a seven part series. A new part will be released every Wednesday until all 7 are out.

https://accioadventure.com/2019/01/30/were-all-mad-here-part-1/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/06/were-all-mad-here-part-2/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/13/were-all-mad-here-part-3/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/20/were-all-mad-here-part-4/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/27/were-all-mad-here-part-5/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/03/06/were-all-mad-here-part-6/

Disclaimer: As some of you may know, I took a Memoir Writing class in 2017.  For that class, I wrote a lengthy (22 page) story about my first time going inpatient in a mental health facility back in May of 2015.  I utilized a “journal” or sorts that I kept while in the hospital. It was really just a yellow legal pad with notes scribbled all over it each day. I was hesitant to share it here because it’s very frank and may contain details of thoughts I had that some people may find disturbing, but I also feel it’s an important look at what being in a mixed episode can feel like.  In a mixed episode, you experience symptoms of both mania and depression.  So you may have a ton of energy and engage in risk taking behaviors but your self talk may be incredibly negative and scary.  At any rate, I’m now going to share that story with you weekly in several parts.  I’m not sure how many parts yet, but I don’t want to make each post so long that no one wants to read it.  Some parts of this story contain strong language not suitable for children.  I know some of the stuff I have written and write in this part are really off the wall and bizarre, but they are the honest thoughts that I had at the time.

We have a group today where we play drums, play twenty questions, then toss a ball back and forth to learn each other’s names.  It is your basic team building stuff, but it is pretty fun.  Shortly after, Mom and Dad come to visit, but the hour and a half they are here for flies by like a number of seconds.  They bring me a picture of River, my stuffed dog, coloring books, colored pencils, and markers.  I hug each of them for a long time before they leave.  They look weary but are trying to put on happy faces.

Samantha takes me and a few other girls outside for a walk before dinner.  The food here is actually really tasty.  I have grilled cheese and it has about three different kinds of cheese oozing out of it on delicious buttery bread.  I head back to my room after dinner and attempt to read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, but my mind is all over the place and I can’t focus long enough to get through a simple paragraph.  Someone comes down the hall and wakes me up because I have a phone call and it is Tiffany! I could say “I have the best support system in the entire world!” a million times and it still wouldn’t be enough for me. Phone calls are limited to ten minutes to make sure that everyone gets enough time to use the phone so I go back to reading and dozing off. At 8pm it is finally time for snack, which is necessary since so many of us take antipsychotics that require at least 350 calories eaten recently for them to absorb properly. After snack, I am one of the first in line for meds, which I take and decide to go straight to bed.

When I find out that the movie for that night is going to be Pride and Prejudice- the Keira Knightley version, I decide to stay awake and try to watch all of it. I make it through all but the last fifteen minutes of it because at that point, it becomes very necessary for me to leave the room. One of the women on the ward, Dixie, is one of the most obnoxious people I have ever met in my life. She is constantly asking questions throughout the movie that either a) she would know the answer to if she had been paying attention to or b) no one else knows the answer to because we either haven’t seen the movie or don’t have it memorized line by line. When I get up to leave she asks me why I am leaving and I say I want to try to go to bed.

The next day I have a migraine and am excused from all of my activities.  Nurse Sarah brings me an ice pack for my head and folds my laundry for me.  Nurse Layla gives me 100mg of sumatriptan.  It’s not what I usually take for migraines and it’s not nearly as effective.  I go back to sleep for a long time, then emerge from my room for lunch, after which we watch part of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince until visitation, which made me very happy.  Dixie asks again why I didn’t stay for the whole movie last night.  She makes me feel very punchy, but I don’t act out on it, I just seethe on the inside and dislike her from as much of a distance as I can possibly be in a small locked hallway.  I said again that I was tired instead of yelling, “It’s none of your fucking business, bitch!” at her like I wanted to.  See, I can be skillful even while manic!  I really don’t like her.  I overheard the nurses saying she has a textbook case of Borderline Personality Disorder, which makes a lot of sense.  The symptoms include impulsive actions, unstable relationships, mood swings, etc.

Mom, Dad, Joanne, and Rylann all come to visit me.  Joanne and Rylann can only stay for a little bit but it was so amazing to see them for as long as Rylann could tolerate being there.  They have to leave a different way than they normally would have because we got a new patient who is “excitable.”  Mom and Dad stay the whole visitation time and are allowed to leave the regular way.  The time with them always seems to pass too quickly, but I’m so grateful to them that they are willing to come visit every time they are allowed to.  After visitation, I watch part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 before dinner, then more of it between dinner and snack. Two of the other ladies, Evelyn and Marie, were both really into watching it as well. After snack, I take meds then take a shower, then other people (DIXIE) have started Free Willy 2, so I can’t watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which I have mentioned like a million times is coming on at 8:45pm and that I want to watch it. Instead, I call Sheridan and leave her a message then call and talk to Mom and Dad.

One of the girls here talks a lot about all of the time she spends in the spiritual realm and Dixie is convinced that her daughter has somehow illegally had her involuntarily committed. She thinks she is perfectly healthy but believes the doctor can hold her for 7-10 days. I’m 99% sure they can only hold you for 72 hours before committing you or not committing you for your own and others’ safety and then they can keep you here for as long as they deem medically necessary.   The result of my blood work was that my triglycerides are very high, but I don’t know what that means.

mental health

We’re All Mad Here Part 2/7

This is a seven part series. A new part will be released every Wednesday until all 7 are out.

https://accioadventure.com/2019/01/30/were-all-mad-here-part-1/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/06/were-all-mad-here-part-2/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/13/were-all-mad-here-part-3/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/20/were-all-mad-here-part-4/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/27/were-all-mad-here-part-5/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/03/06/were-all-mad-here-part-6/

Disclaimer: As some of you may know, I took a Memoir Writing class in 2017.  For that class, I wrote a lengthy (22 page) story about my first time going inpatient in a mental health facility back in May of 2015.  I utilized a “journal” or sorts that I kept while in the hospital. It was really just a yellow legal pad with notes scribbled all over it each day. I was hesitant to share it here because it’s very frank and may contain details of thoughts I had that some people may find disturbing, but I also feel it’s an important look at what being in a mixed episode can feel like.  In a mixed episode, you experience symptoms of both mania and depression.  So you may have a ton of energy and engage in risk taking behaviors but your self talk may be incredibly negative and scary.  At any rate, I’m now going to share that story with you weekly in several parts.  I’m not sure how many parts yet, but I don’t want to make each post so long that no one wants to read it.  Some parts of this story contain strong language not suitable for children.  I know some of the stuff I have written and write in this part are really off the wall and bizarre, but they are the honest thoughts that I had at the time.

A few hours have passed since I arrived.  The nurses have taken my vitals and the nurse named Sarah went through my bag of belongings when I got here to make sure I wasn’t bringing any contraband in.  I was allowed to keep everything except for a few books.  “You can switch them out if you’re here long enough,” she said.  She also made a comment about how I may not want to wear some of the exercise shorts I brought because of how short they are and something about the chairs.  Frankly, it seemed a bit judgy to me, particularly since I’m in a women’s only unit.  No one here seems quite as bad off as I anticipated and the nurses are actually all very nice.  I know that I can’t do anything else I’d be ashamed of while I’m locked up in here.  I can’t spend any more money or flirt with any people I shouldn’t or drive too fast and it’s apparently Harry Potter weekend on Freeform, which is a channel we get in the TV room.  In here, I know the hallucinations are fake even more than I know they are out there.  I’m sitting here now, locked in a mental health ward with a bunch of other mentally unwell women, watching my very favorite movie series, with the knowledge that I am completely and totally unable to fuck up in any lasting way as long as I’m in here.  I’ve never felt so safe in my life.  This isn’t so bad.

Since it’s the weekend and a holiday, there’s less going on here than there normally would be.  Right now, it’s a whole lot of sitting around and waiting until I can go to sleep.  I wish I was allowed to put things up on the wall.  Maybe I am, but I’m afraid to ask.  One of my best friends, Joanne, made me a beautiful card.  It’s sitting on top of the desk in the corner of my room.  This place is weird, but it isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I guess I will find out on Tuesday what it’s really like on a normal day. I think it’s fucking stupid that they limit the number of books you can have in your room. I also wish River, my three-year-old Airedale Terrier, was allowed to come visit me.  I walked around a corner earlier and nearly ran into Samantha.  Samantha used to come into my first job at a local food place all the time and she is a therapist here. I have known her since I was 17 years old. It felt a little weird finding out she would be running groups I’m in, but it was also really nice to see a familiar face and I got used to the idea quickly.  I just had my first dosage of in-hospital medication- 20mg of Propranolol which is a blood pressure medication that is sometimes used for anxiety.  The nurses and I didn’t realize that it was for 5pm and it’s after 7 now. Now I’ll have to take my 9pm dosage a little late. I think I’ll probably be drugged out of my mind tomorrow after I see the doctor. They will probably get me out of here fairly quickly.

It’s almost midnight and I’m still scribbling on a notepad as fast as I can.  I wasn’t allowed to bring anything with a spiral or wire or string binding, so what I have is a yellow legal pad.  My thoughts are racing so quickly I can barely jot down what I mean before running along to the next thing.  I almost kind of feel like I don’t really need to be here, but I know that’s not the case because of the spending, hallucinations, racing thoughts, trouble sleeping, acting out of character, and questionable choices.  I hope I don’t have too much trouble sleeping tonight.  Especially since my window has no blinds or curtains and I apparently have to wake up at 6:15AM to set goals for the day or some shit.  My parents are coming to visit tomorrow and I can’t wait to hear how River is doing.

It’s after 1AM and I’m still scribbling on my notepad.  It’s taking a lot of effort for me to check my ego at the door here. I may think I’m a little better off than many of the other women here currently, but each and every one of us is spending time on a locked mental health ward in the hospital right now and we are doing so for valid reasons. I wonder how much time people here usually spend in their rooms and how much they usually spend in the little common TV room.   I can’t stop crying because I just wish River was here.  I miss her so much and it’s weird trying to fall asleep without her next to me.  I am exhausted from the events of the day and, having cried myself out, I finally fall asleep.

The next day is long but better than the one before it.  A nurse wakes me up shortly after 6AM to take my temperature and blood pressure, both of which are fine.  I’m not a morning person, which must be glaringly obvious, because she says, “I’m so sorry for waking you up.  You can go back to sleep for a little while.”  I decide to try that since it had taken me so long to fall asleep in the first place, but another nurse comes in to take my blood for some labs, then the doctor comes in a few minutes later.  He is tall, handsome, and has brown hair.  Thankfully, I am too groggy to flirt with him.  When I first got back to America from the Peace Corps and was doing an Intensive Outpatient Program, I said to the doctor there, “has anyone ever told you that you look like Ewan McGregor?  Because you definitely do.”  Inappropriate flirting is definitely a thing I do while in a manic or mixed episode.  It’s so embarassing.  The now doctor doubles the dosage of my antipsychotic and adds a powerful anti-anxiety medication in hopes that it will help me sleep at night and calm me down some during the day.   I sort of figured they would want me as drugged as possible to end the mania or at least slow it down.