Tag Archives: psychiatrist

My hobby

I knew a woman who had TMJ, severe back pain and fibromyalgia. She also suffered from secondary infertility. I felt pity on her. She asked me once to accompany her on an appointment at University of San Francisco. It was about a thirty minute drive, a toll bridge and parking is a huge mess, but we went and waited. When we finally saw the doctor, she took off her shoes and pulled off her socks. She showed the doctor her ankles. One was slightly more swollen than the other. She was in no pain, not even that nameless feeling you get when things just aren’t right. Nothing.

The podiatrist did notice that she had a corn and that she had the choice of whether she wanted to remove it or to hang tight. Of course she signed up for the surgery – her hand almost quivering with excitement. She thought her intuition and God drew her to that place and that it was just wonderful that she had her convictions verified.

I could not believe she went to that effort to fix something that wasn’t broken. The amount of time and money we spent to get there was astounding.

Her hobby was going to the doctor.

I am afraid I have become like her.

Today is Friday. I started the day at the physical therapist, where Megan, Ph.D and I worked on my knee. The knee bothers me more than hurts me. There are a few other things she is working on – including my balance caused by those tumors in my foot and strength in the hips. Thank you, Dr. Megan.

Monday is the day I see my psychiatrist. She adjusts my psychiatric medication and helps with my regime – she loves yoga and likes meditation. If you have religious objections to them that you would like to see addressed, please comment and I can tell you why I think that is cool for me, or any other Christian, to practice them.

Tuesday is Weight Watchers. No doctors there. But I quit eating milk and my face has cleared up. Wonder if all along a milk allergy caused the mess that was my skin. I saw a dermatologist and he gave me two tubes of goo for my face.

Wednesday we visited the marriage counselor, LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) with a Ph.D in Psychology. She is very small and I recognized her because her office is in the same building as my beloved Dr. G (He moved to San Diego.)

Thursday I went to my talk-therapy therapist. The psychologist is arrestingly smart. She earned her Ph.D from University of North Dakota. I talked about my foot problems and how the doctor (A podiatry degree is separate from a MD – but still a doctor.) told me there was nothing he could do. I reluctantly agreed to get a second opinion. But are there enough days in a week to accommodate another doctor?

It’s not a hobby. It’s just what my life is right now, I keep telling myself. It’s not forever, but maybe it’s not. When I was young the family doctor didn’t know my brother had a sister. He managed to get every single childhood illness that is not vaccinated against and some that were. I didn’t. I never broke a bone or needed anti-biotics. Now, I am quite sure he hasn’t been to the doctor for years, while I haven’t been to the doctor in hours. It’s not a contest and being free of bodily disease is not a moral issue. I do my best not to be sick: I wash my hands and brush my teeth and try not to be overweight. Even if I do those things I will always be sick – I will always a close, personal relationship with my pharmacist and the pharmacist techs. (Ah! The pharmacist is a doctor, too!)

Edited to add: I didn’t mention the teeth doctors: Dentist, endodontist and orthodontist.


Talk about Lucky….

A long strange trip. I’ve heard I’ve been lucky by a number of people who count. For those of you new to the blog, Since December 16th of last year I had been taking three times the amount of a cholesterol/heart attack prevention/anti-tremor drug. I was “lucky” I didn’t die.

This week, we get to take care of “Lucky”, our neighbor’s dog. He loves it here. We let him in the house, we take him on walk after walk and run and play and cuddle him. They will be home Thursday, and that is very sad. He is a charming fellow, and after we deciding making him sleep in the garage, like his owners do, was not going to work, he became a mild to moderately quiet dog. He doesn’t bark when someone comes to the door. He doesn’t knock anyone down. Of course, he is a doxie mix, and that is generally not something a small/medium dog can do. I want a dog so badly and love Lucky so much, it is really hard to give him back. I remind his mom we’d take him at anytime. Of course they love him, too. How could they give away their baby?

Maybe we can get “Lucky”. It’s not a miracle, it’s just a nice thing that could happen. (I believe that, the fact I am not dead after my medication error is a miracle.) I’m pro-miracle, but anti calling everything nice that happens to you a miracle. I don’t do it. I don’t have super passionate feelings about it, but think it’s an inaccurate view of life. I read somewhere that there are two ways to view life, one is that everything is sacred and a miracle or everything is not. I don’t believe that too much. I do believe I have been miracles; I believe I have felt them. Some times it is in the form of a phone call just at the right time, but I don’t think every phone call is a miracle, brought down by God.

But who cares what I believe? I’m alive and perhaps I shouldn’t be. I have seldom done anything so risky.

Still Reeling

If you don’t know me, I’m boring you, but if you don’t know me, I don’t think you’re reading this blog.  

I went to the psychiatrist today.  (A psychiatrist is a MD who prescribes medication.)  She was shocked and horrified by my Inderal overdose.  “We would both be in trouble,” she said, and spent the rest of our appointment reeling.  This was serious stuff.  “It just wasn’t your time,” she said.  I had done a very dangerous thing.  I have mostly stayed cool about this stuff, but, to be honest, hearing from the doctor herself that it might have been the real end is oddly thrilling.  It’s like setting things up for a suicide attempt, some thing I’ve only almost one once.  It’s titillating.  There is so much grief and pain that comes before an attempt.  I didn’t have those feelings about taking all those pills.  It’s only now, in retrospect, almost a week later, that I’m really allowing myself to have any feelings about it.  I regret to say it’s kind of exciting.  I wish it was just that I felt relieved.  I don’t, not yet.  Maybe when I get my mind wrapped around it I’ll have another experience.

My husband says that I didn’t die, or get very sick, so there is nothing to say or do about it.  I could make myself think about this, or even believe it, but I don’t have that kind of maturity.  Not yet.  

Not working

Last night my medicines didn’t work.

This morning I wasn’t allowed to to work.

I have not been around because mid-morning I’m back to work. 9-12:30. I like my job very much. I don’t love it, but I do love the little boy who God has entrusted me with. (I’m a behavior therapist for autistic two year-olds.) I write mid-morning. The house is empty, and cool because we’ve trapped the night air into our house. Chores are not done because chores are a mid-afternoon thing; I don’t mind a cluttered house. Friends are usually busy. The time is all mine.

Yesterday I ate five cookies for breakfast. It set the tone for the rest of the day. I didn’t feel good, and I ate more junk. It was like I told Weight Watchers to go poop on itself. I feel like I’ve gained weight and I deserve to. I was scattered and kept repeating myself. I made pumpkin enchiladas that were not good. (I am a good cook, usually). I went to bed at seven. My scrambled egg brains were not good for anything. Mrs Medication (me) is disillusioned with the meds I am on. I won’t go off Abilify (takes away racing thoughts) or my ADD meds (a stimulant that enhances the marital bed). Vitamin B Complex is here to stay as well (I don’t lose my car in the rain or anytime else.) I am open to adjusting or adding or dropping the rest but that is probably never going to happen. (I take a lot of meds, rapid cycling bipolar does that to a girl.)

My husband wants me to call my doctor. I called to see if I could bump up my appointment, but the receptionist said she didn’t have anything Friday. (Pdoc only works at my office Mondays and Fridays.) Frustrating.

On the way home today, I kept trying to thing of ways to get the head exploding feeling out of my head. It’s like embers in my head. I understand how people use guns to ameliorate this situation, but I won’t do it. It’s more like a fantasy or meek suggestion than any real suicidal thoughts. One of the driving reasons I have never actually tried to die by suicide is because I fear for the person that might find my body. One time in my life I had an elaborate plan which involved going to a hospital where they were used to finding people dead. I never did it, as badly as I wanted to. I won’t get in to the rest of my plan. Descriptions of suicidal intentions just spur on already sick people and dramatize the situation. Suicide is murder. It’s not the result of selfishness. It’s an act of desperation. That does not give us permission to do it. I include you in the “us”. Don’t. Do. It.

I’ve noticed tugging on my face to be a sign I need an Ativan. So I took one. I also need to exercise but I won’t until B gets home. He wishes I would do it during the day but so far that’s not worked out. I feel like I have things to do. Sometimes the thing is to watch my favorite (and only) tv show, “America’s Top Model”. I am not proud of the fact that I love it.

I took the Ativan and now I feel like my blood is burning. Is this what happens when you mix Ativan with Ten Calorie Dr Pepper? My life is so weird some times.

May Cause Memory Loss (some harsh language)

I am so googling sick of psychiatric medication. Yes, it has saved my life 1,000,000 times. Yes, I would have to be institutionalized if not for it. Yes, I am so fortunate that I have the insurance and money to pay for all of this. All that to say it blows, it sucks and it is all together weenified that I have to be on it.

The most frustrating thing is the memory loss. It goes hand and hand with word recall. I can’t remember enough Spanish words to even have a real conversation. I can’t remember things you tell me, things I’ve just bought or things I ate. I don’t remember all the steps in my night time regime. I can’t remember your name even if I’ve been introduced to you three times. I don’t remember entire conversations. I wake up in the middle of the night because I wonder if I’ve taken my medicine. Medicine: I hate you.

My father-in-law showed me a handful of pills and joked that I probably couldn’t wait until I was his age. I just laughed. I take one more pill than my eighty year old father-in-law. I am thirty-five.

I have been searching for help with this memory thing for, oh, I can’t remember how long. I get obsessed with it on and off. At first I thought it was too much Lamictal. Doc didn’t agree. Lithium? Nope, levels too low. My latest theory is that Cogentin, which works to get rid of extra-pyramidal symptoms, (it takes away that ghostly face folks on psychotophics get) if we upped it, maybe the memory might come back. I’ll ask her. She’ll say, no that’s it and you are prone to “Serotonin Syndrome” so we can’t up anything right now. From B’s description on the phone late last week, she decided I have “Serotonin Syndrome.” Long time readers will remember this can kill you. They responded by taking my Zoloft from once every other day to once every three days. I responded by becoming weepy on day two and inconsolable by day three. It blows. There are good things about bipolar, and there are other entries and webpages dedicated to that. This is not the place to look right now.

The problem with medication is that it is all rumor. While some of the drugs have really helped me, they won’t do the same thing for others. One might be effective for two people, but one of them also becomes impotent and the other hears voices. It’s frustrating. The idea that I might live the rest of my life forever without any sort of executive function is disheartening, at best. It’s messed up as medium and absolutely f-ed up at the bottom. I’m drifting between the middle and the end. I’m not the “I’m going to go off all my meds because they obviously aren’t working,” type. I cooperate with my care team. I take my meds. I lose weight. I exercise a few times a week. I do the right things, but my body won’t follow. Just co-operate, damn it! Be well! Let me live the life I strive to live! I’ll be bipolar, that’s not the thing, but I want to live and remember what I’ve lived through.

It all sucks, though. It blows. Whatever mild swear word you can think of, that describes these feelings. I want to be better.

Be careful. Drugs can cause restlessness, memory loss, weight gain, shaking, failure to achieve orgasm.

Avoid getting overheated. Do not drink alcohol at all, under no circumstances. Do not become pregnant. Remain hydrated. Do not share your medication with anyone. Do not tell people you are sick or how you are sick. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every f-ing day.

The symptoms of mania are: elevated mood, pressured speech, shopping sprees, sexual activities which go against your own morality, grandiosity (I think I am so gorgeous every man is checking me out – even though I’m pushing 300 pounds, or I think I have the ability to solve the problem of National Debt.) All this stuff sounds like fun, right? Well, you’re not allowed to have any fun. Remember that night you and your best friend stayed up until two talking and laughing and drinking wine? No more of those. Remember when you fell in love at first sight? Don’t do that or tell anyone about it – It means you’re on the verge of adultery.

A minute ago I wrote the word, “manana” instead of “maestra”. (That is, “morning” instead of “teacher.”)

I was told by a good friend that I “never” sound bitter. I would guess tonight I do. I want my memory back. I want the shakes to stop and I don’t want to die of Serotonin Syndrome. But this is my life, the rest of my life, if I want to live it. And right now, It blows.

Like a backpack

I’ve been carrying around dread like a backpack. It’s heavy and ugly. I can’t shed it. Nothing makes it a whole lot worse and nothing makes it better. Strike that, my 20 minute yoga practice made it better, and I should pull out the mat and do my 50 minute regime, but can’t bring myself to do it. It’s depression.

Small lost her backpack and she was in tears. If she doesn’t bring her calendar, she gets her name on the board. If she gets her name on the board, doesn’t get AAA, this certificate that comes with a special pencil or eraser indicating Achievement, Attendance and something else I don’t remember. The awards are given out once a quarter. I was very careful not to point out a great big, “Who cares?” It’s part of the magic of childhood, these little rewards are. In someways, it’s like the counting. I say to the seven year old, “Small, you need to follow my directions.” When she does not, I start counting, “1-2-3” She hates it so much, even though there is no consequence beyond being counted to. My mother says I don’t deserve a child like Small. She is right. But what is my mother ever do to deserve me? I was an excellent, hard working student, (Small is average.) I stoically moved from one house or city to another. She told me I was hard to read and I’m sure I was. What point was there in having a heart if it was just going to break? What was the point of making friends just if we would move on soon?

Depression. The big black dog. I have got to get off (or reduce) my mood stabilizers. I think they are the fault of my memory lost. I’m not trying to get off them completely, in face there is some sort of credibility in taking Lithium. Not so much in Lamictal. Lithium’s kind of old fashioned and it’s powerful. It’s kind of like eating fubu (not the clothing line.) It’s potentially dangerous, even deadly. I was afraid of it for a long time. It is the kind of drug you can kill yourself with, if that’s your thing. A social worker at the hospital assured me that my lithium levels were so low I’d not have to deal with toxicity, which had long been a fear of mine and the reason I never took it when I was offered it. He also listed a gaggle of rich people and celebrities that can afford anything but take lithium. I’ve told you that bipolar is no respecter of persons. You get very poor folks in the hospital, and middle class and billionaires all obediently taking their pills and learning the opinions of the hospital staff on how to manage their lives. Some of us need that information more than others. I, for one, need that information more than others.

I don’t know what I’m going to do about the way I feel. I read a book I have read 1,000 times, which usually comforts me. I made some deliberately soupy fudge and ate that. I took my meds, including my happiness inducing B-complex gummis. I’m drinking water. I ate breakfast. I’m roasting a turkey.

I took an Ativan to calm down. There were other things I could do to settle my thoughts. Avitan is barely working. In the hospital I told them it was no more calming than drinking a glass of ice water, and I believe that true to an extent. In the hospital, though, you go to a lot of group therapy and it doesn’t matter if you sit there like a zombie or not. I try not to. I’ve been told a few times by other inmates that I don’t seem to belong there among the patients. The first woman to tell me that was a forty-fifty year old bipolar veteran – she said she’d never seen someone like me. The second was a blind woman who I was escorting around the place because the staff was overworked. Granted she couldn’t see, but it still felt good to be of help and to seem like I was not too wacky. Honestly? It’s not too bad that I am bipolar, but I love that I “pass” as a mentally uninteresting person. Many disabled people do not have such a privilege. One time I couldn’t get my car to start and the taxi driver asked me what I did at the hospital. In retrospect, he probably wouldn’t have asked any patient what they were in for. Still I was happy. I don’t want to walk around looking stoned anymore. The same medicine that made me look so haunted was the same one that made me fat. I’m not (so) fat anymore and I definitely look less stoned.

Fun fact: I’ve traveled the world and seen a lot of things through a taxi-driver’s window, but I had never met a taxi-driver’s whose native language was English. I told him that and he ignored it. I’ll bet he gets that all the time.

I am going to have to drive for forty-five minutes to get my pills refilled today. It’s a necessary pain in the neck. If I want to be able to look ordinary, I have got to take my pills and vitamins. If I were really committed I would be doing my yoga, meditating and drinking more water. The thing is, those things are close to impossible when I am depressed. I know it will make me feel better, but I can’t believe I will ever be better. When that hope speaks to me in a way I can listen, I will. Now they are just memories of a time when I was okay. I will be again, soon. I know this because I can remember past experiences when I seemed to snap out of it. I can do that, it’s not too difficult to wait. In the mean time, I’ve got to sort my pills.


The only time I almost killed myself it was an accident. I had been diagnosed a few months and the psychiatrist decided I needed to go down and eventually go off one of my medicines. Problem was that was my first effective medicine. It stopped the racing thoughts, the visions of violence and it added no sorrow with it. He wanted me to go off it and I couldn’t. Like a dangerous lover I wouldn’t detach.

I went in for my menagerie of tables, capsules and horse pills and added a few of the newly forbidden pills just for good measure.

Within minutes I could hardly think, focus my eyes or breathe without opening my mouth. Soon after that I walked in around in a stupor. I took long naps. My husband pushed me to do things like take our child to swim lessons, where I was required to get in to the water with the baby, and go to sing alongs. I didn’t want to, but I know he thought it would snap me out of the catatonic state, but it didn’t work. At all. Times like that he becomes paternalistic. I know it bothers my friends and family but if they saw what goes on. Usually his precepts are right, (Even if I ignore them) but in this situation, he was wrong.

When B and I went to the shrink and as soon as the the doc saw me he was distressed. I told him what I did and he told me I was emotionally attached to the drug. He wanted me to go to the hospital, but I wouldn’t. (I’m not against hospitals, but I feel they are for very ill folks, and I did not recognize myself as one.) He finally told B to make me rest, that meant no work, no chores and no childcare.

Although I didn’t recognize it then, I am extremely lucky I didn’t put myself in to a coma, or worse. I knew better than to adjust my medications. Or did I? I don’t remember. I may have thought I knew better than the doctor, after all, it was my brain. Problem is, I didn’t have a cazillion years of medical school and decades of experience treating bipolar. He might know a tad bit more about bipolar than me.

This is the same doctor that hooked me up with Stanford Medical Center where I saw the utmost expert on bipolar in the United States. He really didn’t help. (And, in his report, he called me “overweight”. Shut up, Po Wang) After that my regular shrink arranged for me to go to the Women’s Wellness Clinic, which essentially works with women whose depression is related to her reproductive system. That was not me. (However, I have to add that psychotropic medicines all but banished PMS symptoms from my body.)

The suggested no useful changes, said I was on the right track and spanked my butt on the way out. I felt like there was no hope. I would gaze at people that did not want to be gazed out. Inanimate objects were more understanding. I was so zonked I would drool, so much that I often had to wipe it off the table. I am not kidding.

Two years later. I was dissatisfied with the hew doctor who when I told him of my elaborate suicide plan, said he was concerned and wanted to see me two weeks later.) Feeling that this doctor had no true concern with my health and well-being, I found someone new that took my insurance and within days I walked in to a small practice in a suburb of a slightly bigger town and met a tiny Pakistan-born and educated psychiatrist. She took one look at me and said she could tell I was on psych meds. She prescribed a drug that all but took away the side effects. Within a few weeks, she also diagnosed me with ADD and OCD. I stopped drooling and staring out into space and started being okay.

I added some vitamins (can’t tell you which, I’m not the doctor.) and things have been better. Not perfect. I have breakthroughs and sometimes sleep too much. I have one day a month I overeat, but I’m not overweight any more. I’m being much more careful. I must take my pills on time – even an hour off can put me out of balance. I don’t take drugs not prescribed to me, am careful with OTC drugs and if I add a vitamin I check with my doctor.

I know meds are not the only answer. But, although I have a list of things that have worked for me before and work for me now I believe I will always see medication at the top of this list, including my vitamin supplements. Other things on the list include Bible study and prayer, therapy, writing this blog, making junk food a treat rather than a way of life, yoga, other exercises. It’s an holistic treatment plan that is potentially dangerous only if I deviate from it. I don’t do all of them every day (hello, Cheetos) but they are as important as anything else I do.