Saturday, January 21, 2012

Memories Lost and Found

Memory is a funny thing...I think.  That's my attempt at humor. I have to make fun of myself or I'd have no relief at all from the teasing and taunting and laughter that comes at me from all sides much of my waking life. But I'm already going off on a tangent-we can't have that! Let's try again.  I can't explain this very clearly, I can only tell the story as it exists in my current state of consciousness.  I remember on a different plane of "reality", which an alternate K presides over, and which sometimes drops us bits of information or pictures in our mind of things from K's past (and sometimes her future!).  Sometimes this works out well, the right version of K will remember what she needs to know, but more often than not, K is unable to retrieve the information and she feels foolish and frustrated and angry with herself. 

It's so embarrassing to not be able to remember someone's name, someone whom you've known for years.  How do you play that down, or get out of that situation gracefully? You really can't.  Blame it on getting older or being intoxicated, anything to keep the truth hidden from the Outside World.  It's reasons like these which cause us to want to stay home.  At least, some of us do, the current K included.  I'm not sure where I've been, but I've been reading the blog and a book I found at the library, and I've determined that K has been having a dissociative episode, and has switched several times over the course of 2 weeks or so.  I'm here now, to try and make sense of all these notes and writings and websites.  This is going to take some work, and some time.  But-in the end, I'm hoping to help K get better, to live a somewhat stable life, to be HAPPY. (K doesn't really know what that means, she only pretends to know)  I've touched on happiness since we got married, actually since we began dating our husband, which was about 4 years ago.  My happiness swelled to such an extent I thought my heart was literally going to burst out of my chest on our honeymoon, and has been present more days than not ever since.  Yes, we still have days in which we're depressed, or want to hurt ourselves, but a lot of days we wake up and look over at our husband and emotions pool inside of us and I can often feel tears run down my cheeks and I know those are tears of joy.  K had such a hard time for so many years of her life, it's just awesome that she's finally found a piece of happiness, a life with purpose, a future worth living to see.

I wonder if K will live to see her future... I don't mean to sound so doom and gloomy but I mean, her health is not so great considering how young she is.  She already has to wear oxygen at night when she sleeps (that's something that came about only recently but is because of the ARDS incident (The story of my ARDS ordeal).  She has COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) as a result of the ARDS too.  Needless to say, by the time she got out of the hospital, she was a non-smoker.  (It's interesting to note that some of the K's DO smoke)  She recently had exploratory surgery to find the cause of some severe pain she'd been having in her right side for several months.  The surgeon found something called adhesions (the abnormal union of adjacent tissues) growing on her colon and he had to scrape this tissue off her organs.  She was really sore after that, and ran out of pain pills too quickly,  but the doctor refused to refill them.  It's often hard to get some medications, such as pain relievers and sleeping pills, when you have a history of mental illness.  My theory is that the doctors are afraid you'll intentionally take an overdose of the pills.  Or perhaps they believe that people will take advantage of our impaired judgement and we will sell them or give them away.  Now I will confess that on certain nights, rarely, my mother will be so nervous and anxious that she cannot sleep, and on those nights I will give her a quarter of one of my Xanax pills to calm her down and help her relax.  Is that really so wrong?  Mom's always worried she's going to become an addict, which I think is hilarious-she's 82 for Christ's sake!  So what if she DOES get hooked?  What difference would that make now?

Damn! I've gone and forgotten what it was that I wanted to write about tonight.  I HATE when that happens, and unfortunately, it happens a lot.  It's embarrassing and drives me crazy, pun intended.  K used to always have a pad of paper and a pen with her , as well as a sketch book, a pencil, and a fine-point black Sharpie marker.  We got out of that habit at some point when other, less active K's came to visit our mind.and K became lethargic and less inclined to do anything (anything at all by the end of that time period)  I guess after we dropped out of college our mind and memories started to get fuzzy from neglect.  I, and the other smart K's (I don't know how many there are, I'm still figuring all this out), will try and focus our energy on remembering what to blog about.  OH YES, and we've begun to carry a pad of paper and a pen in our pocket at all times now.  I think that's as good a place to start as any. If you want to remember, write it down. If I find some notes or remember something on the subject later, I"ll be sure and post those thoughts  here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

How I Became a Walking Drugstore

Since the diagnosis which I've had for years has practically been scratched off my chart, so to speak, I figured this was a good time to review what disorders we DO have, or at least the ones we've been branded with,  be them true or false.  Now my mind is still reeling over the statement Dr. H made yesterday ("I don't think you have schizophrenia") and I can't help but wonder if maybe some-or all (?!) of the doctors from my past have been wrong.

The first time K ever saw a psychiatrist was when her parents had her committed, at the age of 16,  to a psych hospital, for what they deemed my being inappropriate and out of control.  Bizarre behavior led my parents to believe that I was on hard drugs (which was ridiculous; I'd never even smoked pot) when in fact I was just suffering through major depression with suicidal tendencies.  I think I tried to kill myself for the first time somewhere around this time, but that memory just won't come back to me no matter how hard I try to remember.  So, I tried to kill myself plus my parents thought I was strung out on heroin, hence I ended up being committed to a hospital.  First psychiatrist of my life, Diagnosis: Manic/ Depressive (a couple of  years later called Bipolar II).  This woman put me on Lithium and suicide watch, then proceeded to tell me that I wouldn't be so depressed if I'd just wear more colorful clothing. The audacity!  I was hospitalized for 3 months, during which time I was given a handful of different medications and yet I continued to dress all in black, and I kept writing gloomy and dark poetry.  I think they released me after they decided that I was no longer suicidal, or else they were just sick of me.  I continued to see that same psychiatrist (she had a different sports car for every day of the week, and I can't stand people who are obsessed with money and possessions) until the day came when we had a family session, and my parents were told by this shrink that they, in part, helped contribute to my mental problems.  My father was furious, and my mother was angry and in shock. They were good parents, they really were They grabbed my arm and pulled me out of that office and I never saw that doctor again.  (although I realize now that my parents probably did have something to do with my problems, even though they always had good intentions)

The next doctor proclaimed I had Major Depressive Disorder and put me on a handful of antidepressants. I can't remember how long that lasted.  When I graduated from high school, I moved to a new city and was without a doctor for a while.  Bad idea.  Two intentional overdoses followed Freshman year at college.  After the second overdose, I decided it best for me to seek help with my mental "issues", and so I went to the local hospital and inquired about mental health services for low-income persons (I was just a student after all).  I don't remember that, but I somehow know that it happened.

K found a psychologist who worked on a sliding-scale fee and who was near her apartment and she began to see this man every week.  Sometimes he would make us take tests, all sorts of tests, sometimes written tests with questions, other times it was puzzles for K to solve, and one time he simply asked us to fold a piece of paper.  Believe it or not, this was one of the more difficult tasks for us, for it had to be PERFECT and it took me a long time to fold the paper; these tests led to our new (additional) diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and some new medication.  K's OCD is easy to spot, although she's not your stereotypical hand-washer or compulsive cleaner. (Actually, one of the K's is a cleaner who's afraid of dirt)  K is an organizer, a list-maker...with a compulsion to turn the toilet paper around so that it rolls over the top rather than being pulled out from underneath.  Silly things like that.  K saw this psychologist for about a year, until the day came when he told her that she needed medication and he was going to have to hook her up with a psychiatrist, but all of that would have cost money, money which K simply did not have.  So we left that place and went unsupervised and unmedicated ("all natural") for what seemed like a long time...but we can't be sure how long.

K had gotten married at the age of 19, and pretended to be "normal" and went "all natural" and thus didn't take any medication or see any therapist during the year that her marriage lasted.  After the messy divorce, K became very manic-her worst episode ever up to that point-and went a bit crazy and started partying and dating lots of guys and going shopping and doing a lot of risky, stupid things such as dabbling in drugs and driving really fast.  This lasted for a couple of years, and K thought she was happy and having fun, like a regular college student...and then she crashed at the age of 23.  She fell into a deep, dark pit of despair, the likes of which she'd never known and from which it seemed she'd never crawl out of.  Somehow, someone helped us find a new doctor.  I can't remember much after that, I know there were more pills and more labels (Borderline Personality Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Bulimia, Panic Disorder) and this pattern of going from doctor to doctor and getting pill after pill went on until K abruptly disappeared and turned up on the other side of the country.

K didn't go there alone-she was much too insecure and frightened by being out in public.  She had a friend with her, who knew she had a history of depression but who had no idea the extent of K's illness.  They lived in this big, new city for a couple of months before K had a freakout and her friend had to take her to the hospital. (K got lost coming home from work; she totally forgot where she lived and had to call her roommate to come get her) They poked and prodded and questioned K all night.  When it was finally over (a couple of days later? I don't recall), K had a pocketful of prescriptions and the name of both a psychiatrist AND a neurologist.  The neurologist took pictures of our brain, and determined that K was having little mini seizures in her head, and I believe these seizures are what destroyed much of K's memory.

The psychiatrist made us fill out a mountain of paperwork and assessment tests and then there were hours of interviews and therapy sessions, and in the end, he gave K (who was 27 by this time) her new, improved diagnosis: Schizophrenia.  That word scared the living daylights out of K, and she went into a state of bewildered shock.  She turned up hours later at a girlfriend's apartment; apparently K had walked miles from the hospital to the girl's place (this was K's best friend, whom she trusted with info about her mental illness) and K burst into tears when she got there and had a meltdown and proclaimed that she didn't want to be schizophrenic, that it was too serious a condition, that it frightened her.  It took her a very long time (years) to come to terms with that particular mental health label.  How twisted it is that I've now been told I don't have this, after it took so long for me to accept that I did have it.  (sigh)

And so that diagnosis stuck, and after that wherever K went and whenever K would change doctors, she'd fill out all the required forms and papers and she always had to list her mental problems and so she wrote down what the doctors had always told her, and for the most part, each new doctor simply looked at her chart, took it as fact, and prescribed more medication: anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers and anxiety meds.  This is how she lived her life throughout her young adulthood.  See a therapist, take medication, get better, quit taking the meds, have a meltdown, repeat.  In the spring of 2002, K had just found a new therapist.  This therapist she found listed in a local new-age magazine, and K, being quite superstitious,  took that as a "sign".  This therapist, Patty,  was the best one K ever had.  K liked her from the start, and they connected and K trusted her and she truly seemed to care about K's mental health and quality of life.  She worked in tandem with a psychiatrist who prescribed even more medication for K. This situation remained constant for 7 years.  During those years, K would get to a really good, stable place and then she'd quit taking her meds and have a meltdown and have to start over with the pills and she went from one extreme to the other-either drowning in a sea of despair or elated to the point of skipping down the sidewalk.  Patty was there to help K deal with her obsessive thoughts, or depression, or fears...she sometimes gave K homework assignments designed to provide insight into the mind of K and her subconscious.  One of these assignments was to draw a picture of what K believed herself to look like.  I believe this was a self-image/self-esteem test.  At the next session, K showed up with at least half a dozen different pictures.  Now I didn't realize this until just recently, but about 2 years after K first started seeing Patty, the term Dissociative Identity Disorder came out of her mouth.  K wrote about it in her diary, but then forgot about it.  Perhaps it was just more than she could handle, so she removed herself from the reality of this diagnosis and went on with her life and blocked out anything that had to do with that disorder.  Therapy during those years is difficult for us to remember, but I have little snippets of memories, like a few seconds of film; one of these mini-memories is Patty asking us what our name was.  We didn't know the answer to the question...we were K, weren't we?  In another partial memory, Patty is telling us that different people have come to therapy in our body.  All of this was news to K, or at least I think it was...damn this memory loss!  We were just starting to make strides in this therapy, these sessions which focused on who K was and what had happened to her as a child (she clearly had all the classic symptoms of sexual abuse). I believe Patty might have suggested K had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, I remember someone said it.

Just when K seemed to be making progress, just when things were beginning to come out, just when K was starting to open up and be completely honest with Patty....well that's when the unthinkable happened.  K got dumped.  She drove to her therapy session that day, just as she did every week or every other week if she was doing well, just as she'd done for 7 years.  When she got there, she was eager to talk to Patty, she had a lot to say, but Patty sat her down and got all serious and told K that she had missed an appointment the week before. At this particular mental health facility, they had a rule: you can only miss 3 appointments. After that, you are automatically dropped for being a non-compliant patient.  Well, K remembered that one day she had been trying to call them to change her appointment but no one would answer the phone.  We called repeatedly throughout the morning and afternoon.  It was Memorial Day, so K determined that they must've been closed for the holiday.  This is why K missed that last appointment.  She really did try to call and reschedule, honestly she did.  But she was being dumped, and this HURT, terribly, K takes everything so personally, and so it hurt her feelings that Patty didn't want to see her anymore.  From somewhere deep inside us, this angry K suddenly appeared and acted like a total bitch and said horrible, insulting, rude things to Patty.  I watched from outside my body, and couldn't believe what was happening.  It just didn't seem real, it couldn't be true.  K stormed out of Patty's office, got into her car, and hauled ass out of the parking lot.  She started bawling almost immediately, and did so for the entire hour's drive back to her home.

K's world was turned upside down.  Since her psychiatrist worked together with her therapist, K certainly didn't want to see that psychiatrist anymore.  She called and cancelled her next appointment.  For the first time in seven years, K was without a doctor or a therapist.  She had some medication, but would soon run out.  She started frantically trying to find a new doctor.  But it is harder than you'd imagine to find a psychiatrist who accepts Medicare and Medicaid.  We were losing hope, then we called Dr. H's office, and the lady on the phone was so nice and helpful and we explained to her that we really needed to see the doctor, that we'd run out of medications and we were having some withdrawal symptoms as well as feeling unstable.  They got me in quickly, and even though my medical records had not been faxed from the other doctor's office as had been requested, the doctor met with me and we talked for over an hour.  I left feeling hopeful.

Our last psychiatrist, who'd worked alongside Patty, well, we hated her.  She was an evil bitch who didn't seem to give a rat's ass about me and how I was doing, she just wrote out my prescriptions; when I came in crying, she'd increase my dosage.  I never felt anything but distaste for that woman.  This new doctor, Dr. H, well she had shown me more compassion in one session than that other shrink had shown me in years.  I had medication refills now, and I was eager to start therapy sessions with Dr. H.  That was 2 years ago.  It took Patty two years to label me DID, and it took two years for Dr. H to find out about my dissociative disorder.  That brings us to the present day.  We have had 2 sessions in which we discussed dissociative states.  She's ready to get to work it seems; she asked me to bring the diaries which are the evidence of our illness.  I'm terrified, yet excited at the thought of beginning the healing process, of accepting what and who we are, and of learning to love K as she is, in spite of her faults.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Peeling Off An Old Label

Yesterday, (I'm pretty sure that was yesterday...) our husband took us back to see the psychiatrist again.  A different K went this time than had gone last time; I think that's because our doctor specifically requested that K come, instead of Switch Kellie, and somehow our mind just unconsciously pushes a button of some sort and we are another K, with different thoughts and emotions.  (I didn't realize this was abnormal until I was about 30 years old.)  Now, sitting here drinking my coffee,  and wishing that I had a cigarette, even though I no longer smoke, I wonder if I'm the K that went to see the shrink or if that was someone else.  I'm not sure because when I think back to the appointment, I can recall parts of it, large chunks actually, but it's all a bit blurry, like I've smeared Vaseline onto the camera lens. Did that happen to me or what is someone else, someone whose consciousness I sometimes share?  I remember one part very well, and this is important too--the psychiatrist told K that she doesn't believe she's schizophrenic.  This is HUGE. 

K was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 27, and every doctor since then has just agreed with the diagnosis (and usually tacked on a new label to go along with it, labels such as BDD and GAD) rather than trying to dig a little deeper and see if perhaps she didn't have something DIFFERENT.  So. This is life-altering news.  Everything that K believes herself to be is false.  All these years, she's been living with the stigma, and with the shame, and with the despair which stemmed from this diagnosis, and now we find out that the diagnosis is (most likely) WRONG.  K is simultaneously thrilled and terrified.  Thrilled to find out that she probably does NOT have schizophrenia, yet terrified of what she really DOES have, and also afraid that one of the K's IS schizophrenic.  More labels... Take one off and put another one on in its place.  Sigh.  K didn't mention to her mother what the doctor had said about doubting the presence of schizophrenia, and I can't remember if she told her husband or not....that information is no longer with us.  I hope that she told him, he needs to know what the current status of his wife is.  Plus, it'd just be nice to know once and for all what the hell is really wrong with K!  We've been drug through the mud and given the run-around so many times over the decades....  K no longer has any faith in doctors.  This "new" doctor-who, it turns out, has been treating us for 2 years!-seems very willing to help K, and she makes K feel comfortable and perhaps even safe.  That's what the shrink told us yesterday; that her office is a safe haven for K, and that when she's there, she doesn't have to be afraid.

The shrink, Dr. H, talked with us for a while about different ways we can go about treating K.  I asked her if she'd had any experience with mapping therapy (wherein the different personalities are charted) and she admitted that she had never done such therapy.  She did NOT say that she was opposed to it. She also didn't say that she believed integration was the best route to take, and I feel that's important.  (Integration is organization of different aspects of the personality into a hierarchical system of functions, or one, unified personality)  We, the K's, are afraid of integration.  The Smart One is all for it-she just wants to be "normal" and be able to live a productive life and perhaps have a successful career in the arts.  The Good Daughter would like very much to feel more connected with her environment, with her mother, with her husband.  She's in favor of integrating all the different aspects of K into one being, assuming that being would be a positive addition to the world around her.  Some of the K's (like The Little Girl) are dead-set against integration, for this state of feeling split apart, of feeling shattered, this is all we've ever known and while it may not always be pleasant or convenient or logical, we're used to it-it is who and what we are.  (I think...)

The best part of the therapy session was when Dr H told us that she'd like to use the old diaries that we found, that she believed we could learn a lot about K and her different personalities from these books. (See Blog Post "The Discovered Diaries" from January 9)  K was elated that the doctor recognized the importance of the diaries.  They could change my life as we know it.  I just knew it, I knew when I found those diaries and read them, I KNEW they were important to K's recovery.  This could change everything.  We're all on the edge of our seats.  What's going to happen to us?  What will become of the K's?  Who will come out to meet the doctor, and who will stay hidden?  Who will we ultimately become?!?  (panic attack coming on-I have to go take a pill now)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Finding Funding: A Follow-up Post

Wouldn't you know it?  We just got finished telling you how bad we are with money, and then today, in the mail, comes not one, but four non-sufficient funds notices.  FOUR.  It seems that not only did we overdraw our account last week, but 2 days after we made a deposit and fixed the problem, the account was overdrawn again.  I don't understand what is happening.  My bank records show that I made a hefty credit card payment, but I can't remember doing that.  I just can't win.  I took a great deal of my savings out to pay for my overdraft, so now I'm really screwed.  My husband has offered to take control of everything and get me out of this mess, but that's so humiliating!  That doesn't seem fair to him, and makes me feel terribly guilty.  Life blows.  I hate motherfucking banks.  They can suck it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Finding Funding

We've never-and I do mean NEVER- been good with money.  Over the years this has been a constant  source of a great deal of stress, shame, and a lot of problems, both financially as well as legally, for K and her family.  Since the only jobs K was capable of handling (after dropping out of college due to a breakdown) were entry-level positions, they offered little pay and no benefits.  I was almost always just scraping by each month, and I inevitably ended up the same way: in the red.  The damage to my credit rating and bank account compounded each day/month/year until there was simply no way to get myself out of trouble.  I was too proud to ask for help-I waited until it was offered-and usually I'd find myself in a black pit of debt which I can't even venture a guess as to how many times Daddy and/or Mom had to bail us out of.  They helped K with her credit card troubles, paid her bills, and saved the day...for years.   K is very ashamed of and embarrassed by this; she wants to take care of herself and be independent; she hates her unemployed status.   Twice I've considered filing for bankruptcy but I'm proud to say I did NOT take that route.

Growing up with parents who were raised during the Great Depression means you are hard-wired from the get-go to be frugal, or at least that's the way it was in K's house.  Her father's most-used expression was "Money doesn't grow on trees",  and he knew better than anyone the value of a dollar, as he began working at the age of 9 (he picked up golf balls at a golf course).  He taught K from the time she first began walking to watch the ground for lost change (the man could spot a dime from across a mall parking lot!) and stick her finger inside coin slots on vending machines to see if someone had forgotten a quarter. (To this very day, I'm compelled to do this)  I don't want to infer that he was cheap; rather, he was thrifty. He wanted very much for K to be financially stable and to have enough money to be comfortable and never have to struggle the way he and his family had during the Depression of the 1930's, or even the way he'd struggled when he and my mother first got married.  He, like many from his generation, wanted his daughter to grow up and marry someone "from a good background" who would work hard and take care of her; instead she got married at 19 to a con artist who stole thousands from me and my family. But that's a whole other story.

K absolutely, positively can NOT handle money, not by herself.  It gets spent or it gets lost.   (I have a theory that I actually misplace just as much money as I "foolishly" spend.) We tend to be quite frugal, but at least 2 of us are the type to enjoy shopping, and we overspend when manic. During her brief teenage marriage, (it lasted less than a year)  K attempted to balance a checkbook and pay bills and such and it was a colossal failure.  (It didn't help matters that her husband was stealing checks from her and forging her signature)  On one hand, K is exceedingly frugal, to the point of being obsessive about it; she'll drive out of her way simply to save a few cents on gas or to buy something on sale.  On the other hand, we have no way to gauge how much is too much (we tend to overdo it) and we're generous to people and always try to help them out and many people (mostly boyfriends) over the years have taken advantage of that.

Most of us are non-materialistic.  (I'm being told, no-urged to say that.) There are periods of time scattered throughout the years in which K was responsible for herself, times when she had run away from her problems (financial and otherwise)  and started a new life elsewhere and had a job and even went to school several times over the years. At one time, she even owned a house of her own; she had to sell it when she suddenly decided to move to the other side of the country.  She'd up and disappear to a different state sometimes, the first time at about age 17.  In instances like that, her parents would use money as a lure to try and get K to come back home; but K was always a free spirit and wanted to be on her own and would often refuse to cash the checks her parents would send her.  She would rather ask passers-by for quarters all day long, (but  K was never a panhandler)  or sell her blood at the plasma center, if she wasn't making enough money at whatever job she happened to be holding at that time, rather than accept help.

K was very good at getting a job.  A job application was just paperwork after all, which we're good at, and the proper person almost always showed up for the interviews.  K would get a job and keep it for as long as she was able to maintain the facade of being "a regular person"; if someone suspected anything, or if her paranoia told us they did, then we'd just go home and never go back to that job. K did NOT ever tell anyone at her job(s) about her mental health problems; she was too ashamed and embarrassed and didn't want her co-workers to treat her differently.  What kinds of jobs did we have?  Well, K got her first job at a fast-food joint when she was 16 and after that she worked various jobs in retail (three times selling shoes, at one time she was actually the assistant manager at a funky little clothing store in the mall) or customer service, or in an office doing paperwork. I'm really good with paperwork, as long as I'm taking my medication properly and am not having a "schizo" day (which can happen at any time).  Stress is K's biggest trigger and eventually any and every job, no matter how trivial or mundane or even enjoyable, would become too stressful for her and she'd have a meltdown and usually quit her job without warning, or a lot of times she got fired for calling in sick too many times. (When our mental health was too fragile to deal with Real Life, or when the voices were so loud she couldn't hear herself think much less answer a phone, K called in sick.)

The older she got, the worse her mental illness got, and with age came new symptoms.  K had stopped taking her medication after she got married, because she'd lost her father's health insurance, and simply couldn't afford to pay for it on her own. (Psychiatric medications are very expensive) So she was off her meds for several years and during that time period, she had a number of "episodes".  I'm not sure how many, that was lifetimes ago and I don't even remember who that was.  Sometimes, though, I'd somehow end up at a clinic or doctor's office, and somebody would be kind enough to help me or advise me, and on many occasions I would see a doctor who would give me medication(s).  They'd usually make some sort of arrangements with me to come back, see a therapist or psychiatrist, and get medication refills.  A lot of these clinics had a sliding-scale fee, and I only had to pay what I could afford. I honestly don't know what would have become of me were it not for these clinics.

I bounced around from city to city, year after year,  but I tried very hard to maintain at least some type of medication schedule and therapy sessions.  There were years in which I lost my doctor for some reason (once I threatened to punch my shrink in the face and he threatened to call the police, so he was no longer my doctor after that) and thus had to go without medication for stretches of time every few years.  During these times, I'd hold it together for as long as possible, and then I'd crack.  First a tiny crack, then the whole fucking thing crumbles and emotions and thoughts and words come gushing out and I am just trying to stay afloat in a sea of crazy.  Sometimes when this happened, K could easily be influenced by the "wrong crowd" to do something bad, to shoplift or do something illegal, even though K is a good person and such behavior isn't like her...But I fear I've gotten way off the subject, which was supposed to be money.

I don't know if it needs to be said or if it's implied by my crazy ramblings, but in case you're wondering, no, K does not work anymore.  I'm embarrassed and ashamed to say that she last held down an actual job in approximately 1998.  After the year 2000, K applied for Disability-at the urging of her then-doctor (he told K that she had a "brain disease" and that she had no business trying to handle the stress of a job, which would only make her symptoms worse); up to that point, K didn't even realize that there was such a system in place to help people  like her.  The process was long and tedious and complicated and the only reason K was able to get through all the paperwork and interviews was the fact that she had a very dear friend, who happened to be disabled herself, (only her disability was physical rather than mental), and this friend walked K through the process.  She helped her fill out forms and applications-which seemed to be never-ending.  She accompanied K to interviews with mental health professionals and doctors and Social Security people.  Thinking about it now, and realizing how much she went through to get to the other side, I'm really surprised that K was able to successfully complete the application process and get her Disability payments-it literally took years to get all that stuff sorted out.  But she finally did, and she is now on Social Security Disability and has Medicare to help with her doctor's bills and prescriptions.  Otherwise, I'm not sure what might've happened to us.  Disability has saved K's life, literally.  She wouldn't have been able to continue with her existence were it not for the medical insurance she is now eligible for.  Thank the gods for Medicare and Medicaid!

Let me sum up.  Money is the root of all that is evil (K really feels this way), it changes people, it makes them greedy and selfish.  K has seen this phenomenon in Real Life, as in when one of her friends was in a bad car accident and received a hefty settlement; K finally cut him out of her life because he'd become so obsessed with the money, the possessions, the THINGS, that he was no longer the friend K knew and loved.  This has happened more than once and each time these things happen, it just proves to K that she is right about money being a bad thing.  Money is the devil.  We hate it.  We'd much rather live in a world where bartering was the norm.  K would love to trade paintings or handmade jewelry or some sort of art for food and clothes, etc. but unfortunately, that's just not the way it works in the Real World.  Too bad for K.

These days, K is married to a loving, generous man who takes care of her and the bills.  Sometimes K is able to write checks and see that the bills get paid on time, sometimes she can't even handle something as simple as that, and she must depend upon Husband to manage her money, or lack thereof.  It's difficult to stay on top of your finances when you have blackouts and can't remember writing checks or using a debit or credit card.  She definitely still struggles with money; they are on a tight budget to say the least, but things are much better and much less stressful now, and therefore K can relax, just a little bit, and not worry so much about being homeless. (Yes, this is one of her actual fears.)

(Un)Happy Hour

Fuck.  She wants us to write tonight, but I don't feel like doing shit.  I'm gonna finish this drink while waiting for those pills to kick in...

That's right.  We've been drinking.  You got a problem with that?

FUCK all this.  Fuck!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Help From Afar or She's Done This Before

When this current "episode" began,  (based upon my journal and this blog, I'm able to determine that this happened around the first of the year)  I tried desperately to think of some way to help my husband better understand what was happening, so that he wouldn't be so worried about me and whether I was having a "breakdown".  I could only think of one person on the planet who might be able to help in this situation, and that person happened to be my ex-boyfriend, who had once lived with me for a year, and who was studying psychology at that time and was good at recognizing symptoms.  I'm still very good friends with him,  and I respect him tremendously, but I was scared to death to talk to him about these matters because he and I had not discussed my mental health in years, except for the occasional joke about me being "crazy".

(I have to have a sense of humor about my mental health, or else I'd go nuts...or something like that)  After we broke up (8 years ago),  we never talked about the "weird things K does" again.  I can't remember whether I acted in this manner when I was with him, and I can't even say with certainty that "this" has ever happened to me at all.  (STOP IT! That's called DENIAL!)  I'm not sure how I mustered up the courage to do it, but after a tremendous amount of contemplation, I sent him a text and asked him if he could contact my husband regarding my "switching".  [Psychiatrists refer to the phase of transition between alters as the "switch" ]  It seemed to take forever for him to respond, and at first he wasn't sure what was happening; he soon figured it out when I started referring to myself in third person.  He realized he was talking to (an alter)  and I breathed a sigh of relief that he knew what was happening.  He took some time to compose an email which he then sent to my husband.  I thought perhaps this email can help me remember these events, as well as give some insight into what happens when someone switches.  It is dated January 9, 2012.  Here are the highlights of the email:

Ahh. I heard you're going through your first "switch" with K_____. Grats! Your marriage is now more of a Menage' a Trois! But I've been there and lived to tell the tale. Here's what I think from my experiences.

It's not as bad as it seems, but emotionally and mentally trying, and a bit confusing. Hers is one related to a
Dissociative Disorder...    Her "switching" into a depersonalized K____ is like a computer being run in safe mode: you can't really fuck up a computer in safe mode as easily as you can in regular mode.  It's a protective thing that she does to insulate herself from trauma by distancing herself from "K_____" and seeing herself in the 3rd Person.

Think of it this way: It's like watching a movie of your life and saying "Man, I'd hate to be that guy" when, in fact, you are that guy. It removes you from the immediate path of harms way with things like arguments, panic attacks and anxiety, uncomfortable social situations, and facts of life that she would rather postpone dealing with until her brain doesn't feel so threatened.


...Switched K_____ is more distant than normal K_____. Her manic episodes before a depressive spell were pretty easy to see, because she would have more outward gestures like laughter, talking and telling jokes, moving around a lot (like almost dance-like movements), and overacted hand gestures clued me in a lot. This is not like mania, but she can depersonalize herself while having a manic episode, which is confusing as hell to say the least. She'll feel like she's dreaming or "not quite here."

There are many kinds of disorders- long story short, they exist to buffer the person that has them from the direct repercussions of high stress. 

He then inserted some links to the Mayo Clinic. How cool is that?  He not only recalled his own experiences with us, but he also gave additional info to my husband. In the end my husband got some relief, some peace of mind, when he read the email, and I was reassured that I do, indeed, have friends who care about me.  

"Watching" TV With My Mind

My fingers hesitate, then decide to pick up our steaming mug of deliciousness instead of typing just yet.  In our mug, which is extra-large and has a picture of the Seattle skyline all around it (K used to live there), we are drinking a modified version of a Peppermint Patty, which is hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps (Our sister taught us to make these when we visited her in Utah one Winter) and I mixed mine with coffee.  It's a cold night, only about 30 degrees outside, and so this warm adult beverage is ideal and we are enjoying it very much.  We sit all alone, (HAHA everybody laughs inside my head) just us and the laptop, unless of course, you count the TV, which K almost always has turned on; she likes the sound of something else besides what's in her head.  She doesn't actually watch TV much, at least I don't, although some of the K's do enjoy certain programs,  and so we have a DVR and we record these shows and watch them when we're feeling up to the challenge.  It's impossible for us to remember what night and what time a particular show comes on, many times we can't even recall the name of the show, and so we try to program the DVR as soon as a commercial airs, telling us about something we'd like to see.  I know that even if I could remember when something came on, I'd never know when that day/time is, so I'm still hard pressed to watch any particular television program.  It's a challenge because one of two things happens when we watch TV: either we find it utterly impossible to concentrate on whatever it is we're trying to watch, and keep getting distracted by voices behind me or a man walking down the hall (a man who's not really there of course); or else we get so wrapped up in the story, so totally absorbed, that we are no longer aware of the people around us, or of what's happening in the Real World.  These two extremes are all we know or have known for many years now. Because I'm not particularly fond of losing myself in the TV (unless K's been smoking pot), I usually just pretend to watch it.  I will look out the window or at the wall behind the television set, or I'll just let the images on the screen float past my field of vision (I can see without looking) without focusing on any of the images. 

 What kinds of TV shows do we watch?  Well, the answer to that question would depend upon who is answering, as each of us seems to have her own favorite type of programming.  The Kellie likes artsy films and dark comedies. The Little Girl loves cartoons and silly comedies, and any of the Disney/Pixar movies.  K loves true crime and horror and documentaries about serial killers, and she has always been drawn to the creepy, the spooky, the scary.  Mom worries that these sorts of movies will give us nightmares, but what she doesn't realize is that the nightmares are there regardless of what I see or hear in "real time".   We've had nightmares since we were a little girl, for as long as any of us can remember.  Usually, I'm running from someone who's trying to kill me or hurt me in some way.  These dreams are often violent and K will wake up in a cold sweat, her heart pounding in her chest, and she'll have to take a sedative to get rid of any panic attacks.  Thankfully, these nightmares don't come every night.  One of the K's, the witchy one, she likes to write down her dreams and analyze them, but we've misplaced that book and after scribbling dream fragments down and trying to keep up with them for awhile, it all got to be too complicated and so we stopped; there were more lists than K could handle and things got out of control.  I can't remember when that happened...

Also, note here that K talks in her sleep...I'm not sure if that's important to the story or not, I just thought I'd mention it.  It's interesting (and humorous to me) that she usually talks about sex, drugs, or food.  We know these things because of what people have told us over the years, and also what's been recorded.  Some of K's friends thought it would be funny to record her and ask her questions in her sleep, questions which she would often answer, and the thing is, she will not lie when she's asleep, for this is her subconscious talking.  Anyway, the friends put a voice-activated recording device next to K's bed after she'd fallen asleep, and then asked her a bunch of personal questions. They anxiously awaited the next morning, when they got a good laugh at K's embarrassment as they played the tape back and most all the questions were about sex or which guy K had a crush on. K gets embarrassed easily, although she tries to pretend she doesn't. The Good Daughter gets embarrassed the same as any average person, that is to say sometimes but certainly not all the time.  The Kellie doesn't seem to get embarrassed at all.

Damn! I've just noticed the time, and I'm irritated that the whole night has slipped past me, again, and I've not yet had any sleep.  I had intended to write a blog post about one of my old friends and an email he sent Husband, wherein he tries to explain to him what it means when K switches and how to handle the situation,  Apparently I got off track, because now all I can find is this nonsense about TV shows and sex jokes. (sigh)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Groundbreaking Ceremony For Our World

We've been thinking a lot lately (that should come as no surprise-our brain NEVER shuts itself off) and have decided to make a list (yes, the ever-popular list-making, a hallmark of K's OCD) of topics which would be good to write about in this blog.  I'm still learning how to blog, and I've been obsessing for a few hours now over the look and feel of this one.  I'm not satisfied.  I KNOW we can do better, and I'm angry that it's not perfect.  That particular K (or K's-or is it ME?!), the perfectionist, is having a fit about all of this, and is really nagging us to edit the blog or redesign it or just DO SOMETHING that will give it a more polished and professional appearance.  I, on the other hand, just want to write.  I don't care about particulars really, I just wanted to use the blog as an outlet for our usually-overflowing mind.  It was the other K's who got all obsessive about the blog and began focusing on every minute detail, down to the little things which NO ONE would ever notice (well, no one but K).  So I left them to fantasize about the "new & improved" blog, while I chose to come over here and write.  Just write.  I've been hungry to write since...well, hell, I can't remember (damn those pills!) but it seems to me to be a very long time.  I feel like I've been hibernating all Winter and have just come out of my cave to find Spring has sprung and there is new life all around me.  This makes me happy, this newborn feeling we now have.  Clean and fresh.  Renewed.  Yes, good things are happening here.  I believe that for the first time in her life, K is actually traveling down the correct path, the road to recovery; that's the dream, it's always been the dream-to NOT be sick anymore.  I just want to be "normal", even though I don't really have a grasp on what "normal" means, (compared to other people) seeing that I've never been what is generally considered "normal".

K was always different, there was just something about her that didn't match up with the other kids around her, and she felt like an outsider, even way back then.  We can remember being in kindergarten (I was about 4 or 5) and we were all sitting around, coloring.  I remember looking at my picture, and comparing it to the other kids' pictures, and one couldn't help but notice that my picture was painfully perfect, with not an inkling of crayon outside the lines of the drawing.  The other kids had pictures with crayon scribbles all over them or else were just a mish-mash of colors smeared onto paper.  I recall listening to those other kids, laughing and being silly and talking nonsense, and I thought to myself, or rather, someone inside me said, "These kids are SO immature!" and it was then that I first recall my feeling like I didn't belong, like I was in the wrong place or the wrong time or something.  It was a weird feeling, but since I was just a little kid I was able to let the feelings and thoughts wash over me like a river and I could continue on with my life inside what eventually became my own little world.  By the time I was 6, this "world" had news correspondents, and sports broadcasters, and celebrity interviewers, all following K around and asking her questions and filming her and narrating the story of her life.  It's very similar to the reality television programs which are currently so popular, except this show wasn't always glamorous-K often looked like crap in fact-and it "aired" 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which means there were plenty of "boring episodes" of this TV show.  K didn't realize this was abnormal, since these "people" had always been with her,  and besides that her parents found it amusing that K had so many imaginary friends. Other children outgrow imaginary friends; K did not, but she never told anyone.  It was her biggest secret and after she got to be old enough to realize that this probably wasn't "normal"  (after college),  she was too afraid to tell anyone, for fear of being locked away in some psych ward.  Besides, she was pretty used to it by that time; she couldn't imagine being any other way. 

To be honest, K stuck out like a sore thumb back then when she was young, and always has actually, because of her being so very "different" from others.  (DISCLAIMER: The following information is in no way intended to sound arrogant or conceited; we're just stating the facts as we observed them)  When she was a baby and a toddler, she stuck out because she was not only "the pretty one", a title which I believe stemmed from her long, thick blonde curls  and big blue eyes, (a title which K still hears only not nearly as often) but also "the smart one".  The "smart" title was easy enough to trace back, as K was reading bedtime stories to her parents by the age of three, (according to our mother) as well as writing and drawing and, by age 6, keeping a diary.  These monikers-"pretty" and "smart" were something K would carry with her for years.  As far as physical appearances go, adults were forever calling her "pretty" and "beautiful" and she garnered a lot of attention wherever her parents took her, simply because of how she looked. I believe this could be the reason that one (or more) of our "alters" is narcissistic.  (K continued to play that "pretty" role until the end of 3rd grade, when her mother cut her long hair quite short, like a boy's; this was very traumatic to K and she mourns the loss of her hair to this very day)  Being "the smart one" was a title which would follow K around until after college, when she finally realized that boys simply don't date "smart" girls and so she came up with this persona who was pretty and charming but not that smart.  K would slip into this personality whenever she was in a social situation with guys, except for the intellectual types, whom she loved so much.  (K was into geeks before it was chic.)  But I'm getting off the subject.  She had it in her head by that time (it was learned through experience) that for the most part, guys don't want to be with a girl who is smarter than they are.  So this new K was born, this pretty and funny and sweet K, a girl of average (read: normal) intelligence, who was certainly no threat to the men around her.  I'm jumping ahead in the story, let's go back a bit.

The "smart" K excelled in pretty much every area of her life.  She made straight A's without even trying (note that she had a "photographic" memory back then), and whenever she entered a contest, such as an essay contest or an art contest, she almost always won, or at the very least placed in the top three.  By the time she reached middle school, she had a closet filled with trophies and plaques and awards for everything from science to photography.  She was always the first person in class to finish a test, or a math problem, or an English assignment; people grew to expect such behavior from K, and for a long time K was able to handle it without problems (after all, she had people inside her as well as around her who could help with homework and learning) and continually pushed herself to be even better. I don't know what caused her to push herself this way. It was definitely NOT her parents; they were so afraid that K would grow up to be conceited that they NEVER praised her for good grades or a new trophy or any other accomplishment. In fact, I believe that K tried so hard to get her parents' attention that she developed certain psychological problems, e.g. low self-esteem.  I can't recall whether or not someone else (the other K's? Switch Kellie? ME?) was encouraging her or promoting this "must-be-the-best" behavior, I only know that K was stressed out at a very early age and so new K's came into being.  These "others" would be K's saving grace, the only reason she was able to survive and move on with her life, the only way she could continue to "make her 'movie'" and thus fulfill what was at that time her life's goal.

I'm not sure which one of us is responsible for this information, but the Smart Kellie went into hiding after K dropped out of college, and only made appearances whenever she was needed.  For example, when K was in the presence of intellectuals, older adults, friends of her parents, or whenever it was necessary for K to sound intelligent or well-read or somehow special, such as at a job interview or on a first date. We were in college, majoring in studio arts, when we had our first "breakdown" (even though this one would later seem much smaller, at the time it was huge).  Kellie's World crumbled down around her and she went someplace dark and empty and stayed there for years, although you'd never guess it from looking at her because she was being taken care of by someone else, possibly me...(I just can't remember anymore-too much time has passed.)  It took a lot of people, namely a lot of K's, to re-establish Kellie World and make it feel safe again. We had to rebuild everything pretty much, and it was an enormous task, but K never left that world;  instead she changed the way she existed within it.  This is all terribly difficult to explain, and I'm only succeeding in making myself sound foolish, so I'm going to stop now.  I think I've filled an encyclopedia with these ramblings; I wonder if anyone (including K!) will have the patience needed to drudge through this post?  DAMN-at this point, I can no longer remember what the hell we were talking about anyway...