Thursday, July 31, 2014

Home Again

July 25, 2014

Toward the beginning of July, I told Derek I needed to go to the Emergency Room and seek out some help because I had a problem that was out of hand.  He yelled at me the whole way there for letting it go, but we had no money for me to go to the doctor in May and get my levothyroxine prescription renewed.  I knew I needed it, I knew where to get the care… I just had no funds available to pay for either the doctor’s visit or prescription and we all know that doctors and drug stores want their money upfront so I put it off hoping that things might turn around for us in the near term.  They didn’t.

At the ER I explained the situation with the medication and that between feeling like crap physically and mentally (lack of thyroid hormone also effects mental abilities) and being in crisis financially, socially, spiritually, and emotionally I was extremely depressed and had laid in bed that morning (and a few others I didn’t mention) wishing I could die and be free of all the pain and stress.  Never mind that I had no real intent, no plan and no way to carry it out if I did form a plan… that statement got me 4 days in a psychiatric unit for observation as a suicide threat.  Immediately I had to surrender everything I had with me:  clothing, underwear, shoes, purse, cell phone.  Everything.  Security came to inventory the contents of my purse. (Mental note:  Always keep your purse clean!  They looked at EVERY old grocery list, Church program, card, bill, note and receipt I’d mindlessly stuffed in there for months.)  And then they ran the metal detector wand over me front and back to make sure I didn’t have any weaponry on (or in) me.  I got one chance to let my family and friends know where I was… just 1 call on my own phone before it was confiscated.

Basically I was a prisoner.

I had 3 roommates while I was held in the psych unit.  Weirdly one shared my birthday and another shared my first name and last initial.  Odds of one seem huge, but both of those events?  The statistic has to be astronomical!

Most of the people there were just as normal as you and me.  Everyone had been crushed under their own problems, yes… but they were not the psychotic blubbering idiots of Hollywood’s imagination.  Most were friendly, smiling and concerned with helping me understand what was expected to fit into the routine.  There was a lot of singing and some of the most amazing gospel voices I’ve ever heard, on the radio or off.  Several people had college degrees and to help fill the long boring days I got into some discussions on topics like philosophy, myth, religions, botany, chemistry, food, and travel.  The thing I found most annoying was the television.  It was on 14+ hours a day.  It was loud and no restrictions on what was playing meant often there were violent movies filled with destruction, bloodshed and bad language.  Ironic for the setting isn’t it?

While the TV annoyed me, there were really only two things that I found particularly distressing.  One was that the atmosphere and protocols (especially men doing night-time bed checks on female occupied rooms) tripped flashbacks of being raped in the hospital following my tonsillectomy many years ago.  And that would set off a panic attack and send my blood pressure through the roof (imagine that!  Being in a constant fight or flight state of high anxiety is supposed to make me calm and happy?) so then they’d force more drugs on me.  It seemed like patients were (over)medicated for staff convenience because it’s so much easier to treat symptoms than solve problems.  The other thing that I found upsetting is that, like me, most of patients were being released (often against their expressed wishes and with open beds in long-term programs) into the very same environment that landed them in inpatient psychiatric care in the first place.

I guess there are really three things that bother me…  When I was released, the social worker instructed Derek to remove his gun from the home.  It’s in a locked case, with the trigger also locked, he has full control of both keys and there is no ammunition for it here.  Even if I could get through all those hurdles, I don’t know how to load or fire it.  It’s perfectly safe.  It still had to be removed as a condition of my release.  Yet no one questioned the drawer full of very sharp knives in the kitchen.  Or that there’s rope downstairs and my entire back yard is densely wooded.  No, that’s neither formation of a plan (I don’t like pain and I imagine both of those would not only ultimately fail, but hurt immensely in the attempt) nor a political statement.  I say it only to point out the hypocritical idiocy of our nation’s mental health care system.

Ok, maybe it is a little bit of a statement about gun rights because if I actually wanted to hurt myself, or someone else, I could find a way to do it.  Taking the gun out of the house was pointless.

Thinking about it, there are more things I could complain about but I’m ready to just put that chapter behind me, move on and figure out how to have a happy and productive life.  Now I’ve been home and doing some outpatient counseling for about three weeks.  There’s good and bad to that:
  • My doggies still love me! And seem even more in tune with how I’m feeling on any particular day. On rough days they are happy to give extra snuggles and napping on the upstairs (guest room) bed is a special treat we’ve been indulging in most days.
  • Derek has a new job. He started exactly 1 week after I came home. It’s the job he says he was born to do. And I have to admit I’ve never seen him quite so charged up about work. He’s selling cars, both new and used, at Carl Black GMC over in Roswell. The commute is a painful 80 minutes if there’s no traffic and he has good luck finding traffic lights green. But the upside is that he has the potential to earn a very good income. He actually sold his first car halfway through training AND after one of the other salesmen backed into it while he was doing paperwork with the customer. Impressive to close that one, huh?
  • His long commute and longer work day leave me alone basically 23 hours every day. After being gone for 16 hours, he drags himself first to the shower then rummages for a bite to eat before going straight to bed. With no car of my own currently and a still small circle of local friends that puts me right back into the situation of isolation and loneliness that was a major factor in the depression to begin with.
  • My finances are a mess. With no resources left, I’ve defaulted on my massive credit card debt. My once really great credit rating is now trashed. Every time the phone rings with a number I don’t recognize I feel a mixture of despair, panic and extreme anxiety. When Derek tells me he’s got a plan to deal with the credit problems, it helps me feel a little less like a total loser… until the next time the phone rings anyway.
  • My Church family is helping by paying some essential bills (rent and utilities) and providing food until Derek is receiving regular paychecks. I’m more grateful than ever for the resources and forethought that went into the LDS Church’s private welfare system. I never imagined that I would have to use it and still say that being on the receiving end is not nearly as comfortable as giving. I always knew that Church Welfare was expansive and complete but I have a whole new perspective on it now. In all honesty, the meals I’ve made and eaten during the last two weeks are the most nutritious and varied in the past 2 years because of the amount and quality of fruits, vegetables and lean meats that were included.
  • To help distract me from the loneliness, combat depression and help me focus while my brain chemistry stabilizes and adjusts to the medications I have a very detailed daily “To Do” list. Some days it exhausts me and other times I’m bored and catch myself staring off into space with not a single thought in my head. It’s slow going, but I am accomplishing at least the basic activities of daily living consistently, working my way through getting the whole house truly clean and creating a healthy and whole me.
  • I’m taking the levothyroxine again and a low dose of Celexa was added to the daily regime. I’m hoping in a few months I can be off that one. I know I’ll never get off the levothyroxine (the need for it was something done to me while I was unconscious and couldn’t say no) but my firm intention is absolutely nothing more. I’m just not good at drugs.
  • As a way to help re-achieve some level of self-sufficiency, I’m going to start an Etsy shop. For starters, I’m crocheting headbands to keep your ears warm in the cold, granny square potholders, sock-style baby booties and Christmas stockings for both people and their pampered dogs. My hope is to launch it mid-September with those few items and as I can get the materials to do it I will add to the offerings.

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