MY UNCLE’S CHOICE OF TREATMENT

My Uncle Jimmy was diagnosed as Paranoid Schizophrenic at an early age. He heard voices and had hallucinations. He was sent to the State Mental Hospital that we had at the time. My Grandmother worked there and the place was eventually shut down for their abuse of patients. There is a Cemetery on the grounds with hundreds of unmarked graves of the bodies they found while doing construction years later.

I believe my Uncle Jimmy was probably treated in a horrific way while he was there. Of course no one wanted to talk about it. The high dosages of medications they had him on left him with a constant tremor in his hands and he had problems with his grinding his teeth. He always had white spit in the corners of his mouth.

My Grandmother gave him over to the State when he was young. She did this with a few of her children. My Uncle Jimmy wasn’t violent he just didn’t have a filter that society expects a person to have. He loved to smoke and drink coffee. He hated the medications that made him like a zombie. He could either stay at a State run facility where they had control over him 24 hours a day or he could be homeless and deal with his illness in the way he preferred. Heroin. He chose to be homeless and to use Heroin.

I don’t condone his decision but I understand it. I had seen him at the State run facilities and it wasn’t a way anyone should have to live. He was in all honesty happier while on the streets. He did share needles with other addicts, a majority of them also mentally ill. He contracted HIV and lived with the virus for many years. At some point he stopped his drug use. I’m not sure if it had to do with his age or his health. He did advance to AIDS about 2 years ago and passed away from pneumonia.

I never saw my Uncle Jimmy not smiling. My mom loved him and tried to take care of him as best she could right up until she herself passed away. She always knew the gas station to find him at and would bring him hot wieners. He was her baby brother and mourned her death pretty hard. I miss his corny jokes and hearing him call my mom “Anna Banana”.

Like I’ve said before no mental illness or addiction is the same for everyone. At least not in my family. We laugh the loudest and cry the hardest. We always have.

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ADDICTION AND MENTAL ILLNESS

If you ask a 100 Psychiatrists/Addiction Specialists which comes first addiction or mental illness, you will get 100 different complicated answers. It is complicated when you’re dealing with the brain. I can only say what I know and what I have witnessed.

There is addiction and mental illness on both sides of my family. Generations of it. This includes both of my parents. I never thought my father had any mental health problems until we started to talk about it in the last few years.

MY MENTAL ILLNESS AND ALCOHOLISM

I’ve said before that my memory isn’t the best so I’ll estimate and go by what my dad has told me and what I can remember.

When I was as young as 6 or 7 I felt out of place everywhere. My own Birthday parties filled my stomach with butterflies and I just wanted to hide. I shared these parties with my twin who I would watch as she laughed and enjoyed herself. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel the same as she did.

I have always been extremely sensitive to everything. I cried often and also had a quick temper that I took out on inanimate objects. I had a strong fear of abandonment and had a time with sleepovers or staying at another person’s house. I spent most of my time in my room reading.

At one point my mom talked to my dad about my behavior and suggested I see a doctor. He said that I would grow out of it and to leave me alone. I did spend time with my dad because we shared a passion for animals. I told my secrets to my mom.

Our family had a lot problems at one time. My brother was drinking and doing drugs. He had his own issues that my parents were not equipped to deal with. His father had been mentally ill and an alcoholic who committed suicide by driving his car into a cement barrier. My brother had a hard time accepting my dad and dealing with the secrets of his own father’s death.

My mother had several “nervous breakdowns” when I was younger and was hospitalized. She was never diagnosed or given medication. My father and mother both quit drinking when I was about 6. She would continue to have depressive episodes the rest of her life.

I started to dry heave before school everyday starting in Junior High. I never used the bathrooms and lunch was always difficult. My anxiety was out of control. I felt useless and invisible often. I had one friend. I was an observer of life. I started to sleep more and more.

In my later teens I would have times where I felt I had a thousand cups of coffee and I could do anything. I talked fast, started but never finished a million things, worked after school, and spent all the money I made.

At 16 I tried alcohol for the first time. My anxiety went away and I found I could talk to anyone and not care what they thought. I was funny and felt attractive. The pain on the inside was also gone. The feeling doesn’t last long so I had to keep drinking to feel normal.

My father admitted he drank because he had anxiety and a problem with being around groups of people. He still has anxiety.

I was diagnosed as Bipolar after 20 years of self medicating with alcohol. I’ve been sober 9 years. I wouldn’t have been able to stay sober without the help of anti-anxiety medication. No one should have to live with anxiety so bad they have ulcers at 17. Anxiety so bad it prevents them from doing normal activities. There was point I couldn’t go to the gas station by myself. That isn’t living.

As I’ve watched other people in my family it always seems like a mental health problem or a mental illness was the underlying factor in their drug or alcohol abuse.

When I did see doctors they only wanted to focus on the alcohol and never even thought there could be anything else going on. They had my family history of mental illness and still focused on the alcoholism. This needs to change. Both issues need to be treated together and doctors need to realize that the majority of addicts have a mental health issue. The ball is being dropped too many times and we are losing too many beautiful people.

How Today Went~ 1 Big Meltdown, 2 Threats, Binge Eating & Bad Driving

I went to bed early last night knowing I had to wake up by 4:45 a.m. to get ready to take my Dad to the V.A. Hospital to have Cataract Surgery.

I have no idea what medications were in my system when I woke up. I won’t know how any of that is really working for quite some time they now tell me. It seems that when you have Chronic Kidney Disease with kidney function now a little under 70% and Celiac Disease some of the medications can actually build up in your system and make your Bipolar worse.

The medications can cause a toxicity. Wasn’t it nice that no one told me this in two years?! So I have no clue what is going on in my body. I only know that the fast acting medications with a shorter “lifespan” are working. Dr. Drew will be excited to know that the only drugs I’m taking that work are Klonopin and Adderall. Hi, Dr. Drew! Still alive!

My father couldn’t remember how to get to the hospital even though he had been there twice before. My sister was driving so he wasn’t paying attention. I put Google Maps on my phone and was using that until he started barking directions at me over the woman’s voice. I tried to ask him how he knew if he couldn’t remember but he’s stubborn. When he says go left you go left even if it means into a fence. (Just kidding) I finally pulled over and asked him where he wanted me to go. The parking lot of the hospital was a mess and had no signs plus it was under construction. He made me park in the employee parking and we ran inside a building. There were several different buildings to pick from.

He was running from floor to floor and I couldn’t keep up. I was getting angry. He was treating me like an idiot, he knew I couldn’t keep up with him and he couldn’t hear me. I finally stopped and yelled some horrible things at him. He had brought me to the Psychiatric Floor where they admit patients. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He didn’t do it on purpose but in my mind at the time I was thinking he did to get back at me. I started to feel sick and tingly. I could smell the hospital smell and hear the patients. I was spinning out of control fast.

Next thing I knew I was slumped against a wall stuttering I guess what sounded like “Daddy”. I was crying too. I know only seconds had gone by but it felt like hours. A man who worked there reached me the same time as my dad did. I could hear my dad tell the man I was okay that I just needed to see him and calm down a little. He was right.

We made it to where he supposed to be but I couldn’t answer the nurse’s questions. I had to try to write my cell number down while my hands shook. I was ashamed for how I treated my dad earlier and how people looked at me. I was ashamed for losing control under stress and stuttering/shaking to the point my dad looked like he would cry.

I was stupid enough to call my sister for comfort. She instead threatened to have me committed. I guess this is going to be the new card she plays every time I do or say something she doesn’t like.

After his eye surgery I took my dad to dialysis and bought as much gluten free crap as I could find and ate it in his truck outside the dialysis center. Three and half hours later we came home. He told me how much he loves and appreciates me and understands that it’s hard for me even if he doesn’t show it. He blames himself. He also said not to listen to my sister because no one is taking me anywhere I don’t want to go. I love my dad.

The Chauffeur And A Change In Routine

My father is having surgery on his remaining Cataract tomorrow morning. Tomorrow is also a dialysis day for him and he usually does the early morning one.

The Eye Clinic called about his appointment and he told him to make it for 6:00 a.m. and he would do dialysis at 2:00 p.m. and they agreed.

The problem is he obviously can’t drive himself. My sister drove him last time because I just had surgery and couldn’t. There’s no way she’s waking up 5:00 a.m. to take him this time so I have to.

The problem with this is when I’m thrown off schedule with my sleep and the medications that actually do work (Adderall and Klonopin) it changes my behavior or mood. I am always worse in the morning and I’ve been like that for years. I do get better as the day progresses but start to go down again by 3:00 p.m. it’s a short window where I feel kind of okay. I’ve had trouble leaving the house for the past 6 to 8 months. My dad and sister believe if I’m forced to leave the house it will help me. They don’t realize how many times I sit in parking lots and cry.

It’s more about what I see and feel when I leave the house. I see new moms laughing with their babies, I see happy couples shopping together, or sometimes I talk to someone and feel like I’ve talked too much and embarrassed myself. I think people can tell I’m alone and starving for conversation, that I’m desperate. All of this hits me when I get back to my car and sit there crying. Sometimes it’s a smell that brings back a memory or on occasion I think I see my mom. The World starts to crumble and I can hear the blood rushing to my ears while my face becomes hot.

So I have to be the Chauffeur tomorrow all while trying not to cry or say the wrong thing because I’ll get yelled at.

My sister sent me a text today wanting to know which was better Amazon Prime, HULU, or Netflix. So I gave her the information on all three and broke it down for her. I don’t know why I did it took me almost an hour to put everything together and she never responded or thanked me. I should be used to it by now but it takes many, many, bricks to hit this head before I realize what’s good for me and what isn’t or do something about it.

For 2 people so concerned about my mental health they do a good job at trying to destroy it.

EXOTICS AS PETS~ IS IT THE RIGHT THING TO DO?

I was watching Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER this morning. I believe she is based in Florida where the laws about owning exotics are less strict. There was something that upset me to the point I found myself crying and swearing at the TV.

A man called ahead to say he was bringing in one of his Marmosets that he found at the bottom of it’s cage not moving. He thought she was having a miscarriage.

When he arrived one of the techs asked for the Marmosets name. His response was “Ten”. The tech was confused and asked him again. He said “Ten like the number”. I could see her facial expression change to one of disgust. This poor animal was just a number to this guy, a way to make money.

It was heartbreaking to watch them try to save that tiny animal when it was already lifeless to begin with. I wasn’t surprised the animal passed if it was being kept by itself in a cage. If the man knew anything about Marmosets he would know that they are highly social and need companionship of other Marmosets to be healthy.

They also can’t be in small enclosures because they are active and need stimulation. Normally they live in family groups of 3 to 15 and love to “scent mark”.

It’s cruel to keep an animal like this in a cage by itself because you see it as a money maker.

Exotic and Wildlife Laws are difficult and vary state to state. I believe some people are qualified to handle exotics for the correct reasons but other people are not.

People like my father who helped Endangered Bird Species with a permit from the Federal Government I understand. I don’t understand how our State can step in and prevent him from helping animals when he has a Federal Permit. That makes no sense to me. If someone calls with an injured Red Tailed Hawk my dad can’t help even though he has the ability to. It’s a state law. But in Florida you can breed Marmosets, Squirrel Monkeys, and Kinkajous. To me this is ridiculous.

We are already losing so many of our animal species why do we allow people without the knowledge or training to breed and sell these beautiful animals that will only end up dying?

Telling Your Story Isn’t Easy

I chose to publicly discuss what other people would normally hide or only tell their priest or Therapist. The reaction has ranged from positive to hateful. It’s also caused me to question myself many times and opened my eyes to just how much Stigma is attached to Mental Illness/Addiction/Suicide or anything related to these subjects.

But the Stigma, confusion and misinformation doesn’t stop with those who don’t have these issues. This I find even more appalling. When I’m attacked on Social Media by someone who has been through misdiagnosis, psychiatric hospitals, and receiving the wrong care or no care it angers me.

When I’m ganged up on and told I don’t know what I’m talking about I become furious.

THE TRIGGER

A person who follows me on Twitter is promoting a book about his personal struggle with a misdiagnosis of ADHD, medicated with 9 different Psychiatric Medications for over 3 years when the root cause was PTSD and Vision Issues.

After a recent musician’s suicide he wrote “I’ve got a ton of failures in my past- the difference is that I did NOT give up (even during a suicide attempt, which I stopped suddenly)”

One of his Followers wrote after that “Suffered from Depression for 11 months. Music and exercise, not tablets (pills) helped me snap out of it and determination”

I admit I’m not myself lately and I become irritated or angered easily. I am more sensitive than usual which if you knew me you would know this is extremely bad.

My responses were respectful. I didn’t want to appear incoherent or disrespectful. I replied to the first one “I’m happy that you have been strong enough or able to keep going. Unfortunately not everyone is the same and every illness is different.”

He asked me “Is there anything you are grateful for?” I can’t say I took that question well. I waited to respond and when I did I told him I was grateful for “My father and the people I’ve been able to help who are like me, who went too long without help, who suffer daily, the invisible ones.”

The other one I told “The reason there is so much Stigma surrounding Mental Health is because people say things like “snap out of it” when it isn’t possible with a Mental Illness like Bipolar or Schizophrenia”.

The reply was “You don’t know f*ck all about it. I did snap out of my depression! 5 weeks after snapping out of depression I was kidnapped by the authorities an injected by force!”

This is when I realized I was arguing with a person I probably was wasting my time arguing with. When I actually looked at their Twitter page and it said they were the Governor of Rowanwood and held many Amateur Boxing Championships (amateur was spelled wrong 3 times) I knew to let it go. This person was dealing with more than they probably knew about.

YOUR STORY

There comes a point where no one around you wants to hear about anything related to Mental Health, Medications, Doctors, Stigma, or how you feel. They become numb to your pain and tears and even annoyed. I can’t say I blame them. The problem is it never leaves my head. The stories linked to Bipolar and Alcoholism. The way I behaved and the consequences. The people I hurt and lost along the way. The people I lost when I stopped drinking and they found out I was diagnosed as Bipolar.

There’s also a physical component. I self medicated with alcohol for over 20 years. I have Celiac Disease but I didn’t find out until I stopped drinking. Every time I drank I was poisoning myself and doing permanent damage to my body. I mostly drank beer and shots. It took about 3 days to recover sometimes from a hangover. The last few years I was vomiting blood and my liver was enlarged. I damaged my brain, immune system, my white blood cell count is always too low, I’ve lost significant grey matter for my age, the list goes on. I did it to myself but there were also so many professionals who missed it all.

Now, I’m left feeling worse than I ever have.

WHAT I WANT TO DO

There are a few things I would like to do if it’s possible to feel better again.

I want to travel more. I love to travel to warm, sunny, beautiful places. Hopefully with wildlife.

I would like to try to speak publicly about my story to help others.

I want to take my Dad to local areas he’s never been to but I know he’ll enjoy.

I want to try to sell my jewelry.

I want to volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary.

I want to live instead of exist.

WHAT IS SELFISH AND WHO DECIDES?

My words and actions make me appear selfish. Most people would think so.

If a person actually knew the tornado of thoughts and feelings I have all day long I wonder if it would change their point of view?

I don’t want to be negative all the time and there was a time where I wasn’t. Now all it takes is a harsh word, a song, a breaking news story, an ignored text or phone call to completely change me. At times I’m not even aware of the change. The times I am aware are difficult. The more I try to control myself the worse I seem to get.

The hardest part is trying to explain to your family that you’re not doing any of it on purpose or to get attention. That trying harder isn’t going to fix anything and finding the “right” Doctor or Therapist isn’t as easy as they think.

I’m at a point where only the fast acting medications are working and even those are not working like they used to. Because my one kidney was working at 70% I didn’t think my meds were working correctly. My kidney function has gone down a little in that kidney. I’m also malnutritioned and suffer from malabsorption so I’m 98% sure my meds are not working. I have an appointment to finally get some answers on June 27th. I haven’t felt myself since I went into Kidney Failure 2 years ago. That could be for many reasons.

The thoughts that continuously run through my head are never happy ones. It’s exhausting. I replay every negative, horrendous thing ever said or done to me. Then there are the “what ifs” which are not any better. The future is also scary. My dad is 74 on June 5th, his health isn’t great and I’m frightened. Without my Dad I will have no one. I don’t want to be alone. It’s hard for me to make friends.

I sometimes wonder if I only stay sober for my Dad. I’m not sure I would be if he wasn’t here and that scares me.

The recent suicide of a person I found to be talented, beautiful and mesmerizing has left me feeling so much I don’t know what to do with all of it.

I’m angry at people talking about things they know nothing about including so called “Doctors” and “Celebrities”.

I’m angry at his significant other for blaming a medication when it has nothing to do with medication but things that were there all along for years that he said himself.

I’m confused about the act itself. Is it selfish when you are in constant pain that can’t be taken away by any known medical method? And yes I will say Holistic also.

This is my case.

QUOTE: “You’re happy with your life, everything’s going well, things are exciting- when all of a sudden you realize you’re unhappy in the extreme, to the point of being really, really, scared. There’s no particular event you can pin the feeling down to, it’s just that you realize one day that everything in your life is fucked”~Rolling Stone Magazine

QUOTE: “I think that I always struggled with depression and isolation”~ Rolling Stone

Admitted he used alcohol into his late thirties, started at the age of 12.

I’m not a doctor but for me there are clear signs of a mood disorder with the highs and lows, depression, isolation, and self medicating with alcohol. It probably started early in his teens.

ANXIETY

Anxiety can be so debilitating it changes your entire life. I have General Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia/Anxiety that I’ve lived with since I was very young. I would throw up or dry heave every single day before school. Living with a constant roller coaster in your stomach is torture. I had an ulcer at 18. I used alcohol to take away the anxiety not knowing that as the alcohol leaves your system your anxiety will come back only 5 times worse. The cure? Drink more.

I was given medications throughout the years that never worked. Antidepressants and medications like Buspar which is specific for anxiety. None of them worked. I wasn’t diagnosed as Bipolar yet either. When I was diagnosed Bipolar the Doctor understood that I was self medicating with alcohol and I had been sober for almost a year when he prescribed Ativan at first the later switched me to Klonopin. It was life changing.

FDA INFORMATION

This is the most recent information from the FDA concerning Benzodiazepines and Antidepressants. Pay close attention to the wording because it’s important.

BENZODIAZEPINES

Benzodiazepines are drugs for anxiety that work quickly.

They can worsen cases of pre-existing depression and may potentially lead to treatment resistant depression. They can also cause emotional blunting/numbness or increased suicidal thoughts/feelings.

ANTIDEPRESSANTS

Antidepressants can make depression worse and also lead to increased risk of actual suicide. The Suicide Risk is greatest during the first two months of treatment.

WORDING

While one says suicidal thoughts/feelings the other says actual suicide. There are no statistics on people who have committed suicide due to the medication they were taking. Either it’s difficult to prove or Pharmaceutical companies are making sure the information isn’t released.

Personally I believe it’s something you have to have been considering for quite some time. Someone who has been in constant emotional pain/hopelessness, feeling empty/guilty or like you don’t belong or deserve what you have takes a toll. When you have to pretend you don’t feel any of these things it only gets worse.

There is no blame, no selfishness, only grief for someone who was in invisible pain or pain that was ignored because our loved ones find it hard to watch or accept. That has to change. It’s difficult for them, I know this. But do they wonder how difficult it is for us knowing the harm we cause not only to ourselves but also to them?