In case I forget.

F. X. Or? Z.
April 21, 2007, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Counselor A, Dr. PCP, Fear, Husband, Memory, RX

Well I can’t tell you how much I hate to say this, but Effexor appears not to be horrible. I have to admit this – it’s helping. I hate that because there is this stubborn stubborn person (me) who, regardless that I know it’s crap, just hates that I can’t will myself not to be depressed. I KNOW depression is a disease and that if my leg were broken (again) I couldn’t will it to get better so it makes no sense for me to expect myself to be able to will  myself to not be depressed but STILL. You know?

So it’s helping. And I’m grateful. But it still pisses me off.

AND. I think that seeing Counselor A. is helping, too. The two things we’re working on are:

1.  Get In and Get Out

2.  Choice: Victim or Working Through

I guess those should actually be in a different order.  A couple of weeks ago we were talking about the choice of going to a therapist to address the crap I’ve got in my head because of this accident and this injury and all the stuff that it has lead to. She talked about two examples of clients she has had who had been raped. She said one had come to therapy and worked through her trauma. The other had chosen to just plow forward and try to deal with it all by not necessarily denying it but by just going on. I don’t remember the exact point in the conversation but at some point I said, “Choosing to not let the rape define her.” I’ve thought a lot and I mean a LOT about that statement. Last week with Counselor A. I asked her – it that what I’m doing? Am I choosing to let this trauma define me and is that why I can’t get past it? Is this something I’m doing to myself? Her reaction was very strong in the negative. She said on the contrary that, by choosing to address what’s in my head and try to work through it that I am choosing NOT to let it define me. She said that she thinks this is a choice of courage. I’m doubtful that that is true, but I’d like to think so. She said that some people, when the trauma is severe, just can’t plow through it. And that if they try, it comes back to bite them on the ass later. We’ll see.

The Get In and Get Out part? I’m adjusting to the thought process. The premise is that I push it all down.  Every time I find myself running this accident and all the crap surrounding it through my head, I try to get away from it. I tend to think I’m dwelling on it and fight against it, and the going theory is that this is why it’s become a “white noise” that won’t go away. Counselor A. has suggested a different approach, which is, when it comes to the forefront of my thoughts to let it be there. To pay attention and look at it both ways. And after a period of time, to choose not to think about it for a while, but to make it OK to think about it for a period of time. Get into the thoughts and then get out of them. Sounded like woo woo crap to me, too.

For example. I was in the shower one day last week and I was washing my hair. The recovery period came into my head. I started thinking how horrible it was to just try to do basic things, like get clean. How helpless I was, and how I depended upon The Husband for the simplest things. Like taking a bath. Before I would have run through the horrible thoughts – the pain and shame of not being able to clean myself, of having to ask for help just to wash my hair. But this time, instead, as I went through the process of bathing, I took each step and looked at how it was and how it is now.

Just getting into the shower was terrifying. There is a lip at the shower door that I had to hop over to get in. My husband had to brace my whole body and hold me by my right elbow. I had to hop over the lip onto the slippery tile with my right foot. It was shockingly scary. I was so afraid I would not hop far enough and that I would fall. I never did, but what stayed with me was the fear. So this time when I thought about it, I focused on the fact that I did it every time. I concentrated and I was strong, and I forced myself to have faith in myself and my husband that we could do it. And we did.

As I stood under the hot water spray I remembered how I had to sit on this plastic shower chair with my broken leg sticking out of the door. I remembered how hot and sticky my skin would get under the plastic and tape we had to wrap around my leg and arm so I could bathe. I remember again the total helplessness of my husband having to scrub my skin and wash my hair, how he had to lift my feet to clean them, and how he had to rinse me off like a baby. I was grateful but I felt weak and worthless. At first I could barely sit up in the chair long enough to get through it. I was exhausted by the time it was over and had to sleep for hours afterward.

This time I thought about how I got stronger. I remembered the first time my husband helped me make that hop into the shower without the chair in it. That was the first time I stood and tried to scrub myself. I was only able to scrub my chest and the front of my thighs, the top of my right arm and my face. I was able to sort of wash my hair with my left hand.  By the time we were halfway through I was leaning against the tile wall and my husband was basically holding me up. I was exhausted. But I got stronger. Eventually I was able to stand by myself. Then one day, I was able to be in the shower with the door closed and my husband sitting on the bathroom counter outside just so he would be there to help me in and out or if I got too tired. Finally, I snuck in there and took a shower by myself when he wasn’t home. He was upset when he got home and found out, but I felt very proud. I hadn’t told him or asked him because I just wanted to see if I could do it. It was scary and I was so tired when it was over, but I was very proud.

So as I washed my hair this time, I concentrated on how good it felt to have both of my hands working the shampoo into my scalp. When I washed my feet I thought about how far I have come that I can stand on one leg and lift my foot up to clean it, then do the same with the other. I am strong enough to do it, I have my balance so I don’t have to lean against the shower wall. Hell, I can even shave my legs!

I have come so far. I had incredible help from so many people, but I am the one who chose to make progress. The other night my husband and I were laying in bed talking before going to sleep. He was telling me about a guy who is in a sport club that he participates in. He had been out with the club that morning and the guy had asked about me – I’ve never been out even though a lot of other member’s wives have. My husband told me that he replied “She is the most incredible person I’ve ever known.” He told me that he went on to tell the guy about the accident and how badly I was hurt, how hard I worked to come back from it and how well I’ve done. I was embarrassed by all of this but also very proud that HE is so proud of me. I told him that I didn’t feel like I had done anything that anyone else would do, and that I was able to do what I’ve done because of his support and help. He said no, that he doesn’t think that if it had been him that he would have tried so hard. He remembered how much pain I was in, and how I pushed and pushed and just didn’t give up. How I kept saying “It will never be easier that it is today.” He said that if it had been him that he thinks he would have just stayed in bed feeling sorry for himself. I told him I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. He said yes, but that I did it sitting up in the wheelchair working for 12 hours a day to bend my hand or in physical therapy making my legs strong so I could walk again.

I told him again that I couldn’t have done it without him. He said that he wouldn’t have done anything he did if I hadn’t asked for it. He said that every time he helped me to the toilet, or helped me into the wheelchair, every time he stood beside me as I used that one hand to wash my hair, it was because I was pushing to get better and asking for help to do so. He said that he told that guy repeatedly, “She is incredibly strong.”

So I’m working on letting that be OK. And the Effexor is helping me feel good about it.


Really, It’s Not That Bad
April 8, 2007, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Counselor A, Dr. Hypnotist, Dr. PCP, Fear, Mental Health, Pictures, RX

Wow I was in a pretty ugly place last night. I just read over my last post and if I were you reading it, I would think “Damned that girl’s in bad shape!” Well, where I am these days is not terribly pretty but it isn’t as ugly as it might seem from last night.

Last Wednesday was a marathon of co-pays and struggles.

It all started on the way to my first co-pay opportunity, an appointment with Counselor A. On the way to her office, at the corner of Chimney Rock and Memorial, I had a really scary encounter with an HFP Heavy Rescue truck. I heard their siren, I pulled into the left turn lane to get out of their way. The truck came to a full stop in the open lane next to me, but a little behind me, and let go with their “HEY YOU STUPID FUCKER I’M HERE CAN’T YOU SEE / HEAR ME? I’M HUGE AND LOUD” horn. I damned near pissed my pants. I know I wasn’t in the way of the truck – and there wasn’t any cross traffic on Memorial so I can’t figure out why the truck stopped behind me and tried to burst my ear drums. I was so scared. I looked up and down Memorial and, figuring I MUST be in the trucks way even though I was totally in the left turn lane, I tore out of the lane and crossed in front of the truck across Memorial, pulling to a stop in the right hand lane about 20 feet from the intersection. The truck pulled across Memorial and passed me. I didn’t know what to do!! I wasn’t in the truck’s way, and I was so afraid when I crossed in front of it that it would pull out at the same time and crush me! Ironic, wouldn’t it have been. Crushed again by a truck, but this time the Heavy Rescue people would be right there to cut me out of my little car.

By the time I got to Counselor A.’s office I was still shaking and crying. It had been a really tough couple of weeks anyway and I just completely fell apart in her office. I’ve never done that before, and honestly, it was good to be in a safe place where I could just cry and not be concerned about who would see, or what they would think. After a while I calmed down a bit and we talked. She wanted to know what was going on since I was obviously in a bad place before the encounter with the truck. I told her that since she had urged me to write about what’s going on, and since I had told her I keep this anonymous blog, I had taken my laptop with me that day. I pulled up my previous post about cutting and showed it to her. Her reaction was great. It may have been the best thing I’ve ever been told about being in mental pain. She told me “It’s OK to think about it. There is nothing wrong with having thoughts.” Of course, we went on to agree that there IS something wrong with acting on those thoughts.

I explained to her how out of control I’ve felt these last couple of weeks. How I have come to the point where I have to admit that the evil word “depression” is now unavoidable. I wondered if the last meeting I had with Dr. Hypnotist might have a connection. We talked about what I had written about that in the previous post. She was, of course, very concerned about me and told me to come see her tomorrow instead of waiting until our customary Wednesday. She also urged me to talk with Dr. Hypnotist about my worries.

So off to Dr. Hypnotist I went. We talked about all of this and in response to my “What the hell?” he assured me that he hasn’t gotten anywhere near anything having to do with the accident in our time together. He suggested that possibly my current state is connected to my problem with missing such a big chunk of time from the accident. Since I don’t remember anything of our last session, he said maybe my mind is reacting strongly to that, connecting it with missing more time. I fell apart in his office, too, and just cried my heart out. He was very kind and patient.

That afternoon I had an appointment with Dr. PCP, yet another co-pay opportunity. I went to him to get a referral authorization for a biopsy my periodontist wants to do and while I was there he asked about my progress with the Cymbalta. I told him that I had stopped taking it a week after we last met and we talked about the extreme sleeping pattern. He asked if I was feeling depressed. I just held up my hand and told him I couldn’t even talk about it, that I would cry if I did. Gee. Guess that answer says a lot, huh? He said he understood but stressed that I have to take something. He gave me month’s sample of Effexor and when I told him I didn’t want to take anything  he said, “I want you to feel better”, stress on the “I”. So I took the samples. I’m due to see him in another month. I feel like I practically live in his office. The truth is I get a lot of comfort from seeing him, from knowing that he is watching me and cares about me.

I know that they say that when a person starts a new anti-depressant that things can get a lot worse before they get better. That’s what I’m chalking this up to, and I’m trying to be patient.

I did a little housekeeping on the page today. Yahoo and Flickr have done something evil on a corporate level that make it impossible for folks who aren’t signed in to Yahoo to view The Visuals, and my Flickr account is so screwed up I can’t access it. So I’ve dumped the link to that and just added a page with The Visuals. In case I forget.

What’s in a name?
April 8, 2007, 4:25 am
Filed under: Counselor A, Dr. PCP, Mental Health

They call it dysthymia. They call it depression. They call it PTSD. They call it all sorts of things but all the names don’t mean anything. Give everything a label so they can make it fit into the ICD-9 code structure because, you know, everything has to fit.

Where are the lines? Is it dysthymia if you just feel a little blue? Is it depression if you think about that “How bad is it?” question? A long time ago I had this discussion with Dr. PCP. On Wednesday I had it with Counselor A. “Are you thinking about suicide?” Am I? I think about it often. Now, that answer would lead “they” to say I have “suicide ideation”. I wonder what the ICD-9 for that is? I bet I could Google it. There are bad days when yes, it runs through my mind. There are horrific days when it is a conversation I have with myself. But mostly, days are good. Some days are very good. And most days, the average day, is wonderful. I am loved, I am fortunate, and I am grateful.

The truth is, life is a choice. It is a regular choice. Will I live today? How bad is it? Is it THAT bad? Then the answer would be no, I won’t live anymore after today. How bad is it? REALLY? It can’t be that bad. It hasn’t ever been that bad. I’m living proof. Now, it’s been unholy unbelievable bad sometimes, believe me. It’s been lonely, it’s been grief, it’s been horror, it’s been abandoned. It’s been scared and angry and tired beyond all belief. It’s been lost inside my own mind, it’s been without hope. But it just isn’t THAT bad yet.

Suicide Ideation. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as “the capacity for or the act of forming or entertaining ideas”. Damned. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? I definitely have the capacity to form or entertain ideas. I have ideas every day. I have an idea for lunch, I have an idea for which treat to give my dog. I have an idea to make chocolate butter cream frosting from scratch. I have an idea to have wild monkey sex with my husband. I have an idea that maybe today isn’t THAT bad, so I will choose to be alive tomorrow. Those are all ideas I have on a regular basis. But somehow, the last one, just because I actually THINK about it, is a bad thing. Dr. PCP never asks me, “Do you have chocolate butter cream ideation?”.

Ups and Downs and All Arounds
April 2, 2007, 3:19 am
Filed under: Counselor A, Dr. Hypnotist, Dr. PCP, Fear, Husband, Mental Health, RX

Quitting Cymbalta was a good thing. Just two days after I quit my sleep returned to normal. Which was great. I’ll see Dr. PCP in about a month and tell him I quit. Counselor A and my Husband both thought I should go see him when I was quitting but I want to wait. I feel like I’m running to him all the time with every little thing. He tells me I’m not a pest but he’s such a nice guy I doubt he would tell me I am even if he thought so.

I’ve seen Dr. Hypnotist three times now. He’s done the hypnotist thing twice. The first time when he began I just couldn’t help but tell him I felt silly. But it went pretty well. I was very aware of the world while it was going on – the sounds of traffic outside, the air blowing from the vents, his voice, my body and how it felt. But I was also not totally conscious the way I am on a day to day basis. Sort of hard to describe. I remembered everything he said to me afterward. I didn’t know what to expect but he just talked to me, told me a story. It was about Erikson and his daughter. I have to tell you – when he brought me out of it – I can’t remember feeling so languid and comfortable. I took a big big stretch and told him I thought he should change his practice to include a room with a sofa, pillow, and blanket so people could take a little nap after being hypnotized. I felt that relaxed. He asked me how long I thought I had been in trance and I told him 10-15 minutes. He smiled and said I had been down 45 minutes. Unbelievable.

The second time I saw him it was totally different. I remember sitting in the chair and I remember the beginning of the process he used to take me down. I remember a tiny bit of the story he told me – something about someone having had stitches and then that person’s brother needing stitches and there being a competition that the second person wanted MORE stitches that the first had gotten. Sibling rivalry at its best! I also remember at one point he told me that one of my hands would feel like it had fallen asleep – tingle and numb. And I remember that it did feel that way. That’s all I remember and I know I was down about 45 minutes again. I’ll see him again this week and ask him what happened last time. I have no idea if he just kept talking or if I responded or what happened. Also, for the last week I’ve been having very strange dreams. My Mother and Father are both dead. My Mother has been dead for almost 20 years, and my Father for 10 years. I can’t remember the last time I dreamt about either of them. But in the last week or so I’ve had at least one very, very strange, very detailed, very vivid dream about each of them. Just last night I had a bizarre dream that involved Ganny, my mother’s mother. In each of these dreams there has been at least a few moments that took place in the house I grew up in. This house does not have happy memories for me. And in each of these dreams something violent or scary happened that involved me.

I was out of town last week so I didn’t see him. Both times after I have seen him I’ve felt so darned good most of the week after. Very relaxed, a good bit more positive than I have been for a long time. But last week and especially this weekend things have been really bad in my head. The “white noise” has become a lot louder. It is now more of a conscious thing that I think about a lot every day. The accident has been front and center in my brain and I’ve been actively trying to remember the feelings I had in the hospital, how badly the physical therapy hurt, how isolated I felt all those months at home in the wheelchair.

Worse of all, I’ve been thinking a lot about pain. I hate to admit this – really hate to admit this – but I’ve been thinking about causing myself pain of hurting my body. Not in the suicide ideation sort of thinking – nothing like that. But I’ve been thinking about those girls who cut themselves. I’ve been wondering what that feels like and what kind of mental release it gives them. I’ve been picturing taking a razor blade and carving tiny little parallel lines in the top of my thigh. Not deep, just enough to draw a little blood. I’ve never ever had these kind of thoughts before. It worries me, and it fascinates me all at the same time. I think the only thing that has kept me from doing it is that I can’t figure out how to hide the marks from my husband while they heal. I’m thinking I should talk with Counselor A about this but at the same time I am scared to. It is such a self destructive thing to even think about much less do and I don’t know what she will feel like she needs to do. I certainly don’t want her to talk to Dr. PCP about it, or Dr. Hypnotist, or worse of all, my husband. I can ask her not to, but I know that there are exceptions to the rules of confidentiality and that if she feels compelled I probably can’t stop her from trying to reach out to Dr. PCP or my husband to help me. I feel compelled to talk with someone about this because it scares me to be thinking this way, but at the same time I am scared that she won’t keep it between us.

I am scared that this might be some sort of side effect manifesting from the Lamictal. I’m at 600mg a day now and that’s a relatively high dosage. Also, for the last few weeks I am having the experience of the tip of my index fingers going numb. I also worry that this might be connected to the increased Lamictal dosage. I know these are not side effects that are listed on the Lamictal information sheet, but I also know that Lamictal is a very quirky drug that is known to have strange side effects on different people. I’m afraid to even ask Dr. Neuro B about any of this because I am afraid that if he thinks these things are connected to the drug that he will take me off of it. I am having so much success with this drug I don’t want to give it up no matter what. At this 600mg dosage I am down to 10-15% days, and I have even had a couple of days where, when I do burp, it surprises me because I actually had forgotten about burping all day. That is a heaven sent blessing.

So basically right now I am afraid of a lot of things. I am afraid I might have this drug taken away. I am afraid that maybe I could hurt myself. I am afraid that it is an attractive idea. I am afraid that maybe this hypnotism is somehow manifesting these feelings in my, and allowing the “white noise” to become so much stronger. I am worried that maybe this hypnotism has something to do with these weird dreams. I am just plain scared right now and that’s a hard place to be.