Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Major Breakthrough or Break From Reality?

(When we started writing this blog post, it was yesterday? Last night? Some time in the past, not terribly long ago, yet it seems I've been typing for so very least 12-16 hours now, but since time is foreign to us there's really no way to be certain)

I'm not sure how to start...Something has happened. To me, to us, to K.  She really, very much needs to see her doctor!  That's not a viable option for us right now, however, as it's currently either horribly late or ridiculously early, take your pick.  Now it could be that she's just experiencing what is known as a psychotic break...

(Wikipedia says: A psychotic break is a term used to describe an occasion of a person experiencing an episode of acute primary psychosis, either for the first time or after a significant period of relative asymptomaticity.)

This has happened to us before, I can't say for sure how often it happens or even when it last happened, but it's certainly not something we are unfamiliar with.  If that is not the case, (and I have my suspicions) then we are having a MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH. I really can't stress enough that we're not sure at the moment what is happening to us, and I'm not sure if THIS has ever happened before. (I have a terrible memory, for a number of reasons which I'm not going into but which include my mental disorder(s) and my medication side effects)

psy·cho·sis [sahy-koh-sis] noun

1. a mental disorder characterized by symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations, that indicate impaired contact with reality.
2. any severe form of mental disorder, as schizophrenia or paranoia.
I feel, at this moment, that something profound has occurred to us. I'm not sure exactly when it happened and I can't be certain how long this has been going on.  I've tried to trace this "event"(?) back to the beginning, using Tweets and Facebook posts and my phone data.  I would normally just check out my personal journal, but we were shocked to discover that K hasn't made an entry in that particular journal since October 21, 2010, so that really didn't help us much at all.  K has spent her entire life trying so hard to hide her symptoms from the outside world, that it feels somewhat liberating for her to open up and let things show now.  Several of the K's are shy, but I am not.  I guess that's a good place to start...
Hello. I'm the K that takes care of business, the K that gets things done, the K that is responsible and does necessary things such as pay the bills and take care of our mother (who is frequently in poor health) at times when things are just too stressful for K to handle them on her own.  K is currently unavailable but will (hopefully?) return at some point and things will settle back down to what we know as "normal". Not that it is normal in any way, mind you.  That's one thing I'm starting to realize.  There's something strange going on around here, and I intend to get to the bottom of it.  This feels SO important, I really can't stress that enough.  This feels like something of vital importance to our very existence, we being the K.  Now K has been in therapy for most of her life.  For over 20 years, we've gone from doctor to doctor, looking for answers, and hoping someone would say "Oh, you have this condition and you should take these pills and then everything will be fine. You'll get better."  We are painfully aware by now that this is just NOT going to happen for us.  I don't know if it ever happens for anyone (but I sincerely hope that it does). But television commercials and the media in general would have you believe that everything can be cured with a magic pill or X number of therapy sessions.  If either of those things were true, I'd be long cured.  I've been placed on a veritable cornucopia of psychotropic drugs since I was given my first prescription (for Lithium) at the age of 16. I know for a fact that I'd never be able to name them all, as I've been on so many, and of course because of my memory problems.  Depakote, Trazodone, Zyprexa,  Ritalin, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Ativan, Valium, Lexapro...I could go on but I won't. You get the idea. I've been on different combinations of different drugs for years now; for so long, in fact, that I can no longer remember what it feels like to be completely drug-free. I'm currently prescribed 60 mg Prozac, 300 mg Wellbutrin, 50 mg Seroquel XR, 3 mg Risperidone and 4 mg Alprazalam per day, plus a Folic Acid tablet for what my relatively-new medical doctor (non-psych) tells me is a deficiency which supposedly affects your moods. The last time we were without our pills, we turned to self-medicating to help us feel more "sane".  It's very common behavior in people with mental illness and since I have an obsessive-compulsive personality, it can lead to a lot of problems, physically, mentally, legally, financially,,,(sigh) You get my point. I tend to overdo things, become obsessed, act impulsively and compulsively. K, according to some people, "just doesn't know when to quit", but the obsessions themselves generally come and go over the course of "time".  Time is something we have a special relationship with, and no realistic sense of, but I'm afraid I don't have enough of it at the moment to go into that story, so please let me continue before I switch again.
I have both a relatively-new medical doctor as well as a new psychiatrist (I can't remember how long I've been seeing her, but she was unable to get my medical records and/or therapy notes from my last doctor, whom I disliked).  OOH just checked my neglected hardbound journal and found out that I started seeing this new shrink sometime after Feb. 9, 2010 and before April 17, 2010.  (WOW I had no idea it'd been that long; maybe she knows me better than I give her credit for) I saw my last therapist (not to be confused with my psychiatrist, whom I usually refer to as my shrink, even though I know they hate that) sometime in early April of 2010.  She dumped me after 7 years together!  Because I missed 3 appointments at various times throughout our relationship.  She said that was the limit; that after 3 misses you're automatically kicked out of the system on your 4th miss for being a "non-compliant" patient.  So even though I have this alleged illness-which she herself was attempting to properly diagnose and treat, and which she herself brought up first in our sessions-and even though she knows that we have issues with understanding time and "reality", still she cut me loose just as soon as I had walked into her office and plopped down on her up-until-that-moment-"comfortable & familiar" couch.  Well, actually I think she let me rant first for a minute-I recall I was dying to talk to her about my (often-recurring) then-current obsession (suicide) so she let me spill for a few minutes, then asked the obligatory questions: "Are you thinking about hurting yourself?  Do you have urges to harm yourself?  Are the voices telling you to hurt yourself or someone else?"  I told her that at that time, I did NOT have any plans to hurt myself, and I'd certainly never hurt anyone else!, and so as soon as she was satisfied that I wasn't going to leave her office and kill myself, she dumped me like a bag of garbage.  Up until that point, I'd been seeing her at least every other week, or weekly if I was struggling., for 7 years. A few times I had more than one appointment in a single week.  And I tried to always see my psychiatrist in tandem with my therapist, as they shared a clinic location, and because I was driving an hour to get there from my home. While I may not recall the exact date of our last appointment, I do recall parts of the session.  It was quite brief, or at least it seemed so to me.  I described to her my obsessing over suicide, and how I'd been Googling it and researching and reading news articles and how everyone around me seemed to be doing it at that time, like the voices were trying to get me to "do what everybody else was doing" and how fascinated I was by the whole process. At that time, I explained excitedly, there had been a number of prominent suicides in the news, including a famous fashion designer as well as a former television actor. I had intended to tell her how the TV was speaking to me personally about these things. She didn't like that I was talking about people killing themselves, and as I've stated earlier, she quickly asked me the "suicide watch" questions...and I gave her the answers I knew she needed to hear.  Don't get me wrong.  I had NO intention of killing myself that day, or any day soon, as K was and still is a big believer in Karma and I think that killing yourself is bad karma, regardless of your religious beliefs. Plus I'd never put my family through the humiliation and pain and suffering of the whole suicide event. (some of us do indeed have suicidal tendencies though) I love them too much to do that to them.  Also, I don't think that anyone would be able to style my hair nor do my makeup as I would like, or even pick out the right outfit for me to wear to my funeral.  This may seem trivial to you, but to K,  it is really important.  Damn.  Now I've gone off on a tangent and can't recall where I was in telling the story...

Interesting.  I just left the safety of my bedroom, wherein I've been holed up for roughly 9 hours now, and went into the kitchen for a cup of coffee, which K is almost always able to make (she's a coffee fiend) and which, sure enough, she had prepared much earlier, as in last night.  Now we must interact with our mother, for she is in said kitchen and expects some sort of recognition and acknowledgement.  I'd been wondering what would happen as I walked up the hallway, before I ever saw her.  And then-BOOM-I'm in the room with her and the Good Daughter is hugging her mom and asking how she slept and how she was feeling that day, which is today. I know because I've begun taking notes in a notebook, and I see the date and time written on the notebook and I can compare it to the date and time on my new cell phone, and I can get an idea of "when" I am existing, I being the current K, the smart one, the one who used to attend college and hold down a job (hard to believe now).  We are the K that has ambition.  We are the K that dreams of going back to school and finishing her degree, and of having an actual career that she could nurture and benefit from and perhaps even earning a living and being completely self-sufficient, which up until this point, we don't think she's ever been.  She has always ended up needing some help.  She just can't do it on her own.  She can't make enough money.  She can't have the proper benefits of medical insurance and retirement funds.  As much as K HATES to admit it, she is completely held hostage by, and controlled by, The System.  The System currently considers K "mentally disabled" (due to schizophrenia I believe) and we get a Disability check every month for a set amount of money.  Not a lot, let me tell you.  In fact, I've NEVER been able to afford to pay all my bills in addition to buying food and gas for the car.  K is really ashamed of that fact.  She came close to being self-sufficient once; she had a full-time job and was in management, and she had a checking account and a house and a car and a seemingly "normal" (only NOT) life. Sigh. (That was before our first, and most severe, "nervous breakdown") We're really rambling here.  I need to wrap this up before some other K comes along and messes it up, or erases these words without posting or saving them because of our over-the-top paranoia. I still very strongly feel that these events, happening to us "now"-whenever that may be-are going to have an enormous impact on K's future, hopefully for the better.  Hopefully, this is a brain-altering, life-changing moment of clarity within our foggy, crowded existence.  Hopefully this is K taking the first steps at realizing how she can go about getting the sort of help that she really needs, and not just drugging us to keep us at bay.

We've tried to explain this, or some of this, to K's husband, but he is having quite a difficult time in wrapping his brain around these concepts. We have, in fact, completely blown his mind by telling him openly and honestly what K was thinking and feeling. Now K feels completely vulnerable and fragile and I have to alter my train of thought before the stifling paranoia takes over again... My husband is my best friend, but even he has never seen me like this before,  he's never witnessed me switching from one K to another. I imagine it is quite upsetting and disturbing to him, as it would freak anybody out who wasn't prepared for it. Sigh.  I really, REALLY hope I don't scare off my husband...!!! I tried, very hard, to warn him, to prepare him, for the day he'd see the real me.  "US".  And now it turns out he can't handle it, or at least not at the moment.

The Lost Blog Post

I was editing our blog-we are still trying to figure out how to do this-and I came across this draft.  I have some memory of someone writing it...Not sure who or when...Anyhoo, I thought perhaps I'd share it with you, as I myself found it rather insightful.  Or something. It goes like this:

Hello and good day there! It's about time that someone, anyone, step up to the plate and tell the (non-)Real World who, and perhaps more importantaly, WHAT we are!  I apparently need to get off my ever-increasing ass and do something about this situation! So while it may be true that according to phone records and internet timestamps, we've only been asleep for say, 3 hours, and during that 3 hours let's say that I took some Seroquel and every one of us knows how much that frightens K, and that technically she should still be sleeping due to it's sedating qualities...i.e. This shit usually knocks us on our face and we sleep for at least 12 hours, so therefore WTF am I doing awake this damn early?!? Sigh. Things just can't seem to go as planned these days...

We're only a few entries (unless it's changed since I woke up; not saying it hasn't--) into this New Blog, and I've said this to someone before, perhaps you, that I'm dissatisfied with the look and feel of it.  I am looking at this and reading this and this just WILL NOT DO at all!  This blog seems rushed and NOT put-together-right and our OCD simply will NOT stand by and let this go on any further! It should be perfect.  It should be entertaining, and interesting, and maybe even a bit controversial as well, since K so enjoys that feeling of risk-taking, and after having read this so-called Blog, we have decided that K is NOT up to the task and someone else positively MUST take over the reins for awhile.  And that someone appears to be me today.

Who the hell am I? you may be asking yourselves, and I will be happy to answer that question.  We are K, not to be confused with The Kellie, (who is fabulous but rarely comes around anymore from what we can tell), we are the conglomeration of all the things and people and ideas and whatnot which belong to K but which she currently cannot express because K suffers from "mild"(?!) Schizophrenia and Major Depressive Disorder and perhaps even Dissociative Identity Disorder (we were just making strides in that area when our therapist dropped us; damn the luck!) even though she thinks (HAHA) that she's currently OK, she truly is very seriously depressed and/or mentally ill and just unable to talk about it.  For a number of reasons which shall become (at least somewhat) clear by the end of this post.  Hmm.  I wonder how long this post will be??  (cue dramatic music, then cut sharply, and zoom in to the center) We shall see, Oh yes, we shall see indeed.

The story starts as many stories do, only ours doesn't necessarily start at the beginning...rather, it starts somewhere in the middle and then jumps back and forth from past to future, never really lingering long enough in the NOW to have a "normal" life, whatever that may be. In our mind, "normal life" means literally "the life that most normal people lead" and it entails a job and a spouse and some kids and probably a dog and a mortgage and plans for some sort of future in which the star of the show has grandchildren and memories of a long and fulfilling life, with the usual ups and downs along the way but which ultimately has a happy ending.  The "...and they lived happily ever after" part of the movie. But NO, not us, not now, not EVER, that's just not the hand that was dealt us in life, and we must face the facts. K is still (after all these years) in denial, and probably always will be.  It's just in her nature to be negative, only she considers this "realistic" and gets pissy if someone calls her a pessimist for she very clearly is a realist.  But I'm jumping ahead again. Damn.  I forget sometimes that this is NEW, that you don't know us, that you are NOT my doctor or my therapist or my partner or even my friend yet, and that some explaining needs to be done.  How could anyone possibly jump into the middle of this madness and be able to successfully navigate their way through  these troubled waters? Not even I can do that, and at the moment, I am the captain of the damn boat! ("Ship" I hear Daddy whisper in my ear "A boat fits on a ship, a ship cannot fit on a boat!") K's father was in the Navy and loved all things ship-related. So let's dive right in, shall we say, and start swimming.  I'll be nearby with a life preserver for you in case of sharks or piranha or whatnot.  You will be safe, I (cannot) promise. Just keep swimming.

We are known collectively as K, and we were first diagnosed with a "mental disorder" and given a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder (although at the time it was called "Manic-Depressive Disorder"; I suppose this dates me EEK!) when we were 16. Now granted, just because this is when the illness was brought to the attention of us and (some of) our family, it does NOT mean this is when we first got sick. No, we've been hearing voices and/or having hallucinations since roughly the age of 4.  For as long as we can remember, in other words. It just didn't really become a problem for us until I was a teenager. Actually, K had no idea that anything was wrong with her at all, because this way was the ONLY way she'd ever known. She assumed everyone else also had a sports broadcaster in their reality, commentating on their "game" of life.  Throughout her childhood, she heard people refer to "that little voice inside your head", so she thought it was perfectly normal to have someone in your ear telling you to do things.  The fact that she had more than one voice didn't make her ill, it just made her special, and so we lived with these voices and were not afraid at that time.  They were nice to her back then, perhaps because she was innocent. The visual hallucinations were her "imaginary friends" that a lot of children have.  K's secret is that she never outgrew them as other children do. (They are no longer my imaginary "friends" however; more like enemies)

Now we come to the childhood trauma which every therapist seems to think mental illness comes from, although I'm not sure mine was all that traumatic for me until I began seeing a certain therapist in my mid-20's,  which seems a long time ago now, (but how would I know? I have no concept of time. And K has issues with her age-she doesn't believe she's as old as she is-but that is definitely another tale for another time) and she told us that I was displaying all the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse. (Yes, I do exhibit the classic signs. I'm not going to list them here; you can easily find out for yourself online what exactly those signs/symptoms are) Now we've tried to revert back to our childhood and remember who exactly did what and when...Yes, it happened. Yes, it was a family member.  Two actually (but NOT our beloved parents!) But in the end we  only succeeded in making ourselves feel more uncomfortable than ever in our own skin and brought about feelings of guilt, as though she had done something to deserve it and it was her own fault that she got molested. No, K was unable to handle that reality and therefore she dissociated and created her own reality and we can't really remember those super-traumatic things anymore. K isn't allowed to think about that stuff.  It's best we not go down that path again, I assure you. It's a slippery slope and we always fall and it takes literally years for us to get back up again.  So we will NOT be talking about the molestation OR the rape(s). Another time, another place. Maybe.

Jump ahead now, and K is a teenager, and puberty kicks in and the hormones start to take over and this starts to compete with the Mental Illness (which of course is going untreated at this time) and what happens is  she becomes a suicidal mess and gets sent away to the loony bin for what seemed years but which we now know was only 3 months.  And in those 3 months, K's parents did all they could to hide K's illness from the rest of the family; they were ashamed that something like this could happen to them and they thought they'd be judged, and let's face it folks, there IS a stigma, and back then it was much worse even than it is today.  We certainly never had famous actors going on national television and announcing they were Bipolar or Bulimic or anything like that; it was something we didn't talk about, something to be ashamed of and embarrassed by, something that happens to other families, not ours. So K's sister, her very own sister, was never even told that K had been hospitalized for attempting to commit suicide (the wrist slashing we can't remember-it was too traumatic; we just have the scars and nightmares now) not once but several times, using different methods, which we obsessed about and which we were constantly in our head planning out for K's future. She intended to be dead by age 25 anyway.       

That's the end of the draft.  As I've stated earlier, we're not sure which one of us wrote that.  But it seems important to share it with someone, anyone, and that someone turned out to be you.