It is telehealth, which is good and the groups are geared towards continuing care after being hospitalized for clinical mental issues. I had to double check and make sure I was not being hospitalized and she said no no, but they had talked about if I should be except there is a pandemic going on. Great. I got out of being in a mental hospital because of Coronavirus.
I have my first group meeting tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how group therapy works in Zoom! The length of the course is 6 months. So I have to stay alive for at least another 6 months. (My mind keeps thinking like this. Hamilton comes out July 3, so I have to stay alive for 51 more days.)
I just think I needed to get the fears out there and that took a lot of the energy out of the feelings.
Clearly, sharing helps. I need to remember that.
The feelings build slowly, then get more distressing until I am feeling that train heading closer and closer. I feel like I am going to fall under the train, then write here and suddenly feel immense relief.
Not Being Alone
I know I am not alone in all this distress. That helps in some ways and makes me feel so sad in others. I wish I could take the pain from those that hurt, too, but my shield of protection is tight around me right now. Selfishly, it is me first at the moment.
I had my intake with the new counselor whatever day it was ago and she said she has 2 groups she also wants me in. You know you are on the downside when you are being recommended for several days a week of therapy. I look forward to it. I need some guidance and while I have done every kind of post-mental hospital support groups, it never hurts to have some reminders and maybe learn new skills.
The groups will be online and I look forward to seeing how they do them. Zoom? Some other way? Should be interesting.
I have not written, continuously hoping I would not have to write about anxiety anymore. Now, I am thinking maybe anxiety is exactly what I need to write about… trying to quell the intense pain in my belly and chest from the horrible fears I feel.
If the pain didn’t go away with relaxation and meditation, I would think something was seriously wrong, but if I can make it go away, then it is not a medical problem, but a psych one.
Last I wrote, I was waiting to talk to my psychiatrist about the anxiety, hoping for benzos to take the anxiety away. He did not prescribe them, but instead prescribed Vistaril, a “cousin of Benadryl” is how he described it. I take it once a day. It doesn’t do squat for the anxiety. I took a Vistaril last night (my anxiety is much worse as the sun goes down) and was awakened several times with horrid stomach pains. I just took a Benadryl and thought that might chill things out. We’ll see.
I am sure you all are sick of my talking about meditating, but I really am finding it to be soothing enough to allow me to catch my breath when things are really bad. I learned that Alexa has a new Guided Meditation each day when I asked for a Guided Meditation this morning. Cool! I will utilize that for sure. Apparently she has several if I want more.
I’m able to do regular meditation usually, but now, during the coronavirus terror (as I think of it), I can’t let go enough to stay for more than a second or two. Guided Meditations are much easier for me to follow than just my breath. YouTube has about 8 million of them and many now are geared for the anxiety of the coronavirus. I find those the most helpful.
I had a great therapy session with my therapist the other night. She is amazing and I am so thankful to have her. I felt great after the session, but the tension crept in again soon after. My psych wants me to see a therapist in this office and I have an intake appointment online this afternoon. One can never have enough therapists, right?
If I could stay away from the news I might lose some of the anxiety. I watch like how my mom has to follow an ambulance… “just to see” what is going on. The statistics are the worst, the stories excruciatingly sad (and getting sadder). I honestly don’t know what more I can learn from the news than I already know.
I saw an OpEd piece a couple of days ago about a guy who is now addicted to HGTV since being home. I used to love HGTV even though I would never even lift a hammer. I changed my channel from the news to HGTV last night and am keeping those images in the background instead of the news always being on. I have the TV on mute, but still, the images are there.
I am flowing through books at an astounding rate. I have started several, but returned them to Audible. Thank gods they have that return policy or I would be stuck with dozens of books I’ve hated. I always buy and read new ones, so guess they are kind to me and let me return knowing I will just get new ones.
I started a new series yesterday, the Plantagenet andTudor Novels by Philippa Gregory. I stumbled across her looking for “Books like Mists of Avalon.” I guess I am the last person in the world to know of the books since I have mentioned them in several places and people say, “Oh! There are TV series’ on them!” When I read down the series titles and saw The Other Boleyn Girl, I loved that because the movie was delicious.
I have felt so goofy for really thinking I was on death’s door. And looking back at the posts even before thinking I was sick, I can see the level of my anxiety rising more than ever.
How I did not realize it when I, a non-drinker, was drinking a bottle of amaretto every 2 days. I was not thinking, obviously. Now I see how much I was/am hurting.
I have been dealing with anxiety for a long time, had agoraphobia for a couple of years once, then intense stomach aches all last year.
At my last psych appointment, February 12, 2020… before we knew much here in the US, my doctor offered me anti-anxiety meds… “Benzos” (Benzodiazepine). Because I have an incredibly addictive personality, I turned him down. The message I left yesterday was, “Bring on the Benzos!”
1:20pm (I just got an Telehealth appointment for Saturday. I can make it until then.)
I go a couple three days without reading even headlines. Then, like tonight, I peek at what is trending.
And now I am despondent.
Just the headlines are enough to make me want to crawl in a hole. Imagining these people in control, making rules and regulations (or undoing regulations as the case may be)… it’s terrifying.
I do not say the word “rape” lightly. I do not use it randomly. I have been raped. I know the seriousness of the word.
So when I say I am horrified seeing who is going into the Cabinet because they are going to rape the United States, I mean it with all the terror that comes with the word.
The people being appointed are going to make the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) “conflict” look like a picnic. They are going to dig deep into the land, tearing up beautiful homes, ruining National Parks… and the repercussions will be felt/known/experienced for hundreds of years after these fucking pigs are out of office and dead.
I felt hopeless for a couple of hours. My chest felt like someone was sitting on it; I struggled to breathe. My blessed cub held me and talked to me as I cried about how horrible this all is.
And it hasn’t even begun yet!
I think that’s the scariest for me is if I am this upset and sad now, what am I going to be like in a year when we are in the middle of the rape, still years ahead to be attacked… every which way we try to get away, to fight our attacker, he strong-arms us and continues the assault.
Not Giving Up
I saw this photo:
I cannot let anyone die alone.
No LGBTQIA+ youth who is outed because of new laws will not be alone. We will do everything in our power to save you from the evils of “conversion therapy”… torture.
No woman who has to have an illegal abortion because abortion has been outlawed will not be alone. Those who can will learn to do abortions safely, despite the laws, risking jail, but finding the risk is far less than a woman attempting self-abortion.
No Muslim who has to “Register” to be in this country will not register alone. Women who have their hijabs mocked or pulled off will be defended so she is able to practice her religion in this country that still allows religious freedom (so far).
No woman who is attacked… grabbed “by the pussy”… will not mourn and heal alone.
No Black man, woman or child will endure the escalating hate and murder alone.
No immigrant, here legally or “illegally,” will fight to live here alone.
No Native American will have to wrest their rightful land back from the lying White people alone.
No disabled person will be left to live or suffer alone. We will find the tools they (WE!) need for anyone who still has needs. We will not let the world become completely able-ist, forgetting/not caring for those who have challenges.
No writer, photographer or artist will be censored. We will find ways to get the words and images out to the world.
No child who is hungry and has lost their free breakfasts, lunches or dinners will starve alone. We will find food for you precious babies of ours.
And then there are the promises I cannot keep:
We will not know the impact slashing Social Security will have on our elder Americans. Will they die alone freezing and starving while those in charge have billions of dollars to spare?
What are we going to do for our mentally ill (myself included)? What if our free care is removed? What if we are not allowed our medications, therapy, our psychiatrists?
We know a only fraction of our brothers, sisters and others who have killed themselves because of their despair of who is coming into the White House. What of all the others who are misgendered, hidden, reported as dying of “natural” or “accidental” causes when they really overdosed on purpose. So many suffering without our knowing they are there.
I need to go house by house looking for those in pain. Like the Christians in Germany who saved the Jews, taking chances, risking death even… all to save even one soul.
I might cry again. No, I will cry again.
But I cannot give up. I cannot let someone die reaching out for another hand. I know mine is not the only one searching. Maybe, just maybe, if we all keep holding our arms out, joining hands, we might be able to save more than just one person.
It’s really sucky to just be living your life, tooling along as usual, talking with your friend… and then BAM! have your head smacked with a baseball bat and suddenly being an incoherent, crazy person contradicting yourself and being mean to the last person on earth you want to be mean to.
I can’t even find the words yet for how embarrassed and ashamed I am for hurting someone I really love.
I know. triggers are triggers and sometimes cannot be helped because seeing them down the road isn’t possible.
Last night I was talking to my friend. We were ranting a lot about that Hitlerian President-Elect, sharing our thoughts, our fears… our terror… then I needed to write.
So I went to work on Stunned, Shocked & Saddened and right as I got to the end, I began to feel crappy, then worse, my heart started racing, my stomach was in knots, I began sweating like a piglaletta and finally I told my friend, “I feel like shit! I need to go lay down.”
Once I was on laying on my bed feeling horrid, I began breathing deep to try and lessen the distress.
Then I thought, “Oh, I recognize this. This is an Anxiety Attack.”
I situated myself on the bed, laying down, feeling my body’s frantic fight to keep control over my mind, but I strong-armed the panic so I could do my Mindfulness exercises.
I felt the sheets under my arms and legs… listened to the air conditioner’s humming… smelled the scent of cinnamon from the witch’s broom I have in the corner.
Working Through the Experience
When I could, I texted my friend that it was an Anxiety Attack so he wouldn’t worry. He then asked if I had meds for that.
Later, when I could explain better, I shared that I grew up in a Pill-for-Every-Ailment kind of family, so I have always seen meds as a free-for-all. My mom, sister and I have all been addicted to pills of one kind or another… my sister dying of an overdose of pain meds, mainly the 4 Fentanyl patches she had on when they found her. I am now about 2.5 years clean from Opiates (Percocet & Norco). I then shared that while acknowledging my forever-need for Psych meds, I do try to minimize other meds where I can.
Anti-Anxiety meds (Benzodiazepines) are one of those types of meds I would rather not be using. I tried them when I had the Agoraphobia and hated them; I was doped into a stupor. I was on a dozen other meds including the opiates, so probably to be expected, but still. So I made the choice to not use the Benzos, but Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation instead.
Back for Good?
I was confused why the Panic Attack even hit in the first place, but my friend reminded me (lovingly and gently) that the (fucking) Election has brought out intense emotions and then I spent a lot of time writing the previous post. Then the Panic consumed me.
Now that I remember what they feel like, I am on alert (not HIGH alert, though) for when/if it comes a’callin’ again.
Of course, I hope I don’t have another, but if I do, I am ready…
I keep seeing what people are going to do on Election Night.
Getting drunk seems to be a common theme and, while I do not drink often anymore at all, I thought “That sounds like a dandy idea!”
I mentioned it to NetFriend, who is a non-drinking Muslim, and asked if it was wrong for me to get drunk on Election Night. His answer was classic:
if there is ever a time
Then he said:
please drink carefully though
I said I would never drive drunk and he says:
what about Your meds?
I didn’t even think about my meds. Or the precariousness of the Bipolar stuff going on.
Crapola, I cannot drink.
Thank goodness my friend reminded me. How could I forget?
Now I have to figure out how to deal with the rising anxiety level I am feeling. I am not even watching or reading the news, but am seeing a tad of stuff on Facebook and a tad on Tumblr. I would be a shaking puddle of nerves if I was absorbing the news, too.
I am so scared of the outcome. I represent everything Trump & his minions despise.
I was going to see President Obama on Friday, October 28, 2016. Strategic obstacles left me out of the crowd (another post), but lots of feelings of anxiety crept up that I needed to write about.
I was extremely excited, but I was also terrified. I was scared there would being a bombing, an assassination, a mass shooting, a stampede… you name it, my mind could create a scenario for its occurring during in any public function and in any space where people congregate.
I had agoraphobia (the fear of the marketplace aka the fear of leaving the house), a form of an anxiety and panic disorder, for an 18-month period about 4-5 years ago. I only left home when I could go with my then-partner Zack; he was my talisman against freaking out. I was even able to go to Costco (the most open marketplace ever invented!) with Zack in attendance. Alone, I could not even get to the car in the driveway without a panic attack.
Only in the distant retrospect am I able to see the agoraphobia was in response to 1) being ostracized from my midwifery community and 2) Zack’s coming out transgender. The stress of the two kicked my anxiety level into overdrive.
My least favorite memory was when I laid on the floor of Target, after the registers, before the doors (in front of god and everybody) and EMS tried to talk me into getting up and sitting on the Starbuck’s couch. I was so immobilized it took many minutes for me to even hear the requests/commands to move already. It was after that I didn’t leave the house alone for over a year.
Panic & Generalized Anxiety Disorders
So, GAD isn’t a label I wear, but have worn for a short time in my psych history. It came right after the agoraphobia, before the depression, during my opiate addiction. The Panic Disorder came with the agoraphobia.
Despite being on Norco and Percocet, along with a (literal) handful of other psych meds taken 3x a day, I was prescribed Benzos -anti-anxiety pills. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive. I took a few of the pills over the next few days, but they put me in a stupor (not surprising at all considering what else I was on) and decided they were not for me. However, I knew I would turn to them when/if I ran out of my opiates, so had Zack lock them up from me. I do not recall ever wanting them again. Over the years, I have met so many benzo addicts I am so glad I never got into them.
I have written about Mindfulness Mediation before in relation to getting clean from opiates. It was also responsible for my climbing out of agoraphobia eventually. I went to a class at UCSD on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)… it taking extraordinary effort to get there each time… but the new skills helped tremendously and I was able to gradually let go of the anxiety and resume a life of going to the store without Zack again.
Anxiety in My Life Today
The state of the world makes me very nervous when my family and friends go out to festivals, restaurants, concerts, etc. I am able to stay safe for the most part, being disabled, but the fear of violence (which does not have a “phobia” name that I can find) nearly paralyzes me at times. I think twice, three, four times before heading out to even the store. I have to breathe, remind myself: It is on the news, that’s how rare it is.
But Pulsewas a few miles from my home. And that made the news. Those 49 Doves gone in a matter of hours. It could happen again, right? And, to be honest, we all know it will happen again one day. Worse even.
So when things tangled into such a mess that I could not go see the President, I was able to exhale and sit in a small out-of-the-way restaurant with my mama instead.
I don’t know if I will ever be totally free of anxiety… it seems not… but I just keep breathing.
This subject seems to come up a lot, so I thought I would do a Tutorial on how to get in touch with a person and not a machine when you’re calling a doctor’s office.
My first and probably most important piece of information is:
CALL EARLY IN THE MORNING!
I cannot stress this enough. Even if you have to wait on hold for awhile. I tend to call about 9:45am. By then the logjam has passed and the way is pretty clear.
Calling in the morning gives the doctor the entire day to get your chart, prescribe meds or answer your questions. Lunch time is the usual time they read your message, so if you call in the afternoon, unless you are in the ER, you will be waiting until the next day for an answer.
If you are really in a crisis (psych, serious fever or infection), I would call back right after lunch. Be your nicest self! NO yelling about “Why hasn’t she called me back yet?!?” crap. Just kindly say, “I need help. I am so ill. Can I come in tomorrow morning? Or might I talk to the nurse or doctor this afternoon?”
“I need help” is a wonderful way of garnering sympathy for your situation.
A Practice with a Receptionist
If your doctor is in a practice with a receptionist, it’s easier to get a hold of the doc you’re needing because someone should always be available during the 9-5 workday.
You often will be triaged by a nurse before getting a message to the doctor. Still, the earlier you call, the earlier your voice will be heard.
Most offices close for lunch… either between 12pm and 1pm or between 1pm and 2pm. Calling then, you will get a machine. Leaving a message on a machine is like talking into an abyss. Call back when lunch is over.
Calling Mental Health Professionals
Therapists especially are meticulous with the timing of their appointments. They are 50 minutes long, beginning at the top of the hour, ending at 50 minutes after. I have great luck calling in that 10 minute window between clients. Some will listen to messages and call back during that time, but many pick up the phone, too.
Know what you are going to say. They have moments to figure out what you need before the next appointment starts. Write it down if you need to before you call. Be ready!
Psychiatrists’ schedules are a bit more wonky, so leaving a message might be necessary. Just as if you were talking to a person, have what you want to say ready. The more info you can leave in the shortest amount of time… being concise… helps everyone get their needs met.
When I really need to get through to someone (and you pick your battles here), I feign accidentally hitting the button that says “If you are a care provider and need to speak to someone now, press 1.” Use that sparingly, especially in the same practice. Really, judicious use, please.
Bypassing Automated Menus
If you’ve read this far, I get to teach you a trick I learned from another operator. Not specifically for doctor’s offices, but really helpful for banks, phone companies, cable companies, DMVs… any of the bazillion places that have phone trees you seem to be forever lost in.
Press 0 (zero) fast, over and over and over again. PressPressPressPressPress a dozen or more times. 8 out of 10 times, this gets me to a person.
If you doctors’ office has a Patient Portal, sign up for it asap!
In the portal, you can email your provider, ask for refills, make appointments without calling and see your chart and most lab results.
I have this vision of the Oval Office having “FUCK FUCK SHIT FUCK”s bouncing off the walls like molecules pinging in boiling water.
It is not uncommon for that now-golden-hued room to hear expletives, but I’m betting that as the days unroll with the word “Russia” in each sentence, the “Shit, fuck, damn’s” have been accelerating and getting progressively louder. (And amusing side note: When searching “trump White House expletives,” the suggestions at the bottom of the page all had Bannon’s name in them. Hilarious… and expected.)
For 100 days, I cried and wrung my hands in terror that someone in the White House would accidentally (or on purpose) hit The Red Button and our world would be annihilated.
During those first 100 days, with every stroke of the president’s pen that removed women and children’s rights, that signed away our natural resources so the rich could get richer, that created enormous doses of xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, ordering the confiscation and deportation of people struggling to stay alive and on and on and on… and with every bizarre cabinet appointment, my heart broke and despair settled in.
I was directed by my doctors to stop watching the news because all it did was submerge me deeper into depression. I was joined by millions of others who had the new PTSD diagnosis called President Trump Stress Disorder, our nation’s leader now holding the distinction of being the first president to have an anxiety disorder named after him.
An epidemic is sweeping the nation, causing sufferers to experience feelings of hopeless doom, certain annihilation and cataclysmic collapse. It’s an existential plague manifesting itself by enveloping the stricken in a black cloud of despairing suicidal thoughts. The malady that is striking down innocent citizens left and lefter is … the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. It is literally making people sick.
But now, with the variety of Russian headlines intertwined with you all in that Oval Office, I am glued to the TV, the real news, (what you call the “fake news,”) and I sit on the edge of my seat waiting for the next delicious morsel of information.