Panic Attack

October 2016

I do not know what is happening to me. I have never felt this out of control before. I guess I have been broken, and now there’s nothing else but insanity pouring of me. Everyday I wake up with arms and legs made of bricks, and a bowling ball for a head. I skip one, two, all of my classes, but I cannot sleep for more than an hour at a time. I wake up in an impossibly debilitating panic: my heart beats out of my chest, my hands shake a million miles an hour, my stomach clenches into a microscopic knot, tears waterfall down my face. I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I’m going to die, I CAN’T BREATHE. In these moments I secretly hope my breath never comes back. I hope I explode. I hope my body breaks down; surely it cannot handle the terror much longer.

On my better days, I eventually roll out of bed. On my best days, I change out of my yoga pants and oversized t-shirt. I find my computer, wherever I threw it the night before, and try to do my homework. But my brain slugs along behind the rest of me. Concentration escapes me. I don’t eat; I’m not hungry. I don’t drink; my lips crumble underneath layers of dry skin. I am a desert: parched, empty, devoid of all signs of life. I want a vulture to scoop me up and fly me away and eat me alive. I want to be snapped up inside a venus flytrap, digested, vanished, without a note goodbye.

I don’t yet know it, but the medication that is supposed to keep me alive—not just alive, but fulfilled, satisfied, whole—is ripping me apart from the inside out. I rapidly switch between being stuck in the deepest, darkest hole of depression to exploding out of my skin in the highest, bone-chilling skyline of mania. Any and every trigger sends me back and forth between the two most intense existences I have ever experienced. Sometimes there is no trigger. And sometimes I become both existences at the same time. Shaking with impatience, but unable to move. Racing to the top of the highest mountain, only to fall straight back down.

I am scared of myself. I don’t know what I will do to me.

I am surely dying, but it’s happening so slowly. I don’t think I can wait much longer. I beg the Earth, the sun, the stars to let me go. I cannot believe in a God who puts me through this torture. Maybe I have already leapt into Hell. Satan slowly scratches through my skin, to my blood, my organs, my soul. And he takes my soul and rips it to shreds and leaves me there alone for eternity.

I can’t decide if I’m melodramatic or psychotic. My brief, ever-lasting time on antidepressants turns me completely mad.

But of course, I do not know the culprit of my increasing insanity. I do not know that what is supposed to heal me instead wants to destroy me.

I am imploding.

*****

I miss my nothingness from the bottom of my crinkling, cracking, collapsing heart. I want to be void of all emotion, like usual.

Before I started going crazy, I talked frequently but said nothing. I stared blankly through my tearless eyes. I ceased to feel. And I was perfectly okay with that.

I want my brain to just shut up.

SHUT UP.

LEAVE ME ALONE.

I crave silence.

Now I feel so much. Too much. I cry so often that my eyes are permanently red and puffy, and I can’t put in my contacts; my eyes hurt so much. Too much. For mere moments I am dry; then the whimpering starts up again. I am pathetic. I let myself become vulnerable for the first time in so long, and I made myself get hurt. I should have never gone to see that stupid therapist, that ignorant psychiatrist. Everything is my fault. I hate myself. Why can’t I just go back to nothingness? Nothingness is calm. It is satisfactory. Yes it is lonely, but I don’t notice the loneliness usually, because I am so consumed in feeling nothing. I don’t feel happiness, but I also don’t feel sadness. A fair trade off. I merely exist and wait until I find a reason to live. To feel exhilaratingly, profoundly alive. Can someone tell me how that feels? I seem to have forgotten. Maybe I never knew to begin with.

I feel myself rapidly devolving. I see things that aren’t real, and I hear things in my head that aren’t me, and I dream up things that terrify me beyond my wildest imagination. I’m jumping and running around and drinking and laughing and smiling and erupting. And then I’m wilting and drooping and sobbing and dying.

And I’m so over it, but it doesn’t stop. I’m positive that it will never stop. Whatever it is, it has taken over me. It has inhabited my body, and it forces me to feel all of these things that I just don’t want to feel.

I crave my nothingness like an alcoholic craves vodka, a binge eater craves cake, a cutter craves razor blades.

Please give it back to me. Someone, anyone.

Can you hear me?

Misdiagnosed With Depression: A Circuitous Journey to Bipolar

October 2016

Today marks my first ever meeting with a psychiatrist. A good ole crazy people doctor for good ole crazy me.

The psychiatrist turns out to be a sweet, bubbly, round-faced young woman who looks more like a favorite elementary school teacher than a psychiatrist, but in a good way. I like her immediately. Finally, someone normal.

Side note: I get the whole psychiatrist thing. Decent money, and you get to learn about crazy people brains. Way more satisfying than being a therapist, if you ask me. I could do it, if, ya know, I don’t die first.

The psych takes me to her office and gets straight down to business screening me for mental illnesses. I find the process intriguing, yet highly flawed. I wish she could just see what’s in my brain and treat me that way, instead of relying on my responses to determine the problems with my life.

“Have you lost all interest in activities you usually enjoy?” Depression question, I think to myself. How can I be honest when I can essentially pick out my illness based on my answers?

“Do you have constant racing thoughts and worries?” Anxiety.

“Do you believe you have to do something over and over again, like turning your lights on and off or repeating certain words?” OCD.

“Do you sometimes suddenly feel intense negative emotions, such as fear, and physical differences, such as a racing heartbeat?” Panic disorder.

“Do you hate being the center of attention?” Social anxiety.

“Have you ever gone through or witnessed a traumatic event?” PTSD.

“Do you ever feel so excited or wired that you get into trouble and sleep less?” A manic bipolar state.

“Have you ever excessively exercised, taken pills, or starved yourself to keep your weight down?” Anorexia nervosa.

“Have you ever made yourself throw up to keep your weight down, or had periods of binge-eating followed by periods of starvation or purging?” Bulimia nervosa.

“Do you find yourself drinking or using recreational drugs more frequently than most of your friends?” Dependency.

The questions end as quickly as they started, and I wait for the shrink to see right through me, to recognize that I fabricated my responses, based on my hypotheses about which question matched each illness, and that I’m really not sick at all, I just know how to play the screening game.

But she’s not done yet. My psych then asks for my family’s mental health history. I tell her that my mom takes antidepressants. Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner. Naturally, like mother like daughter, I too am diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I know that mental illnesses consistently show a strong genetic basis, so I am not surprised. I’ve assumed I have depression since middle school.

But on top of the depression, the psych gives me a big ole dose of anxiety. I had recently started getting panic attacks before big tests, but I didn’t realize my physical responses differ from any other stressed college student. Oops. Generalized Anxiety Disorder it is.

Self-harm and self-hate and self-esteem, oh my.

The psychiatrist prescribes me Prozac, the exact same medication and dose that my mother claims, “Changed her life” in 2012. And that’s what I need, some serious life changing, if I’m ever going to get out of these doctors’ offices. I’m more than willing to take the pills.

The psychiatrist explains to me all possible side effects, including an increase in anxiety and suicidal thoughts. She mentions something called serotonin syndrome. I crease my forehead. Aren’t antidepressants supposed to alleviate those kinds of things? I think to myself. But I don’t question the good doctor. She tells me that these side effects, if they occur at all, should relieve themselves after about a week.

“And please don’t hesitate to call if you think you’re going to hurt yourself,” she reminds me as I’m leaving.

I snort. Do doctors really think a person who’s going to hurt herself decides instead to make a phone call? There’s no way.

I’m ready to get my ‘script and go.

I wait by the pharmaceutical window at the student health center for a good 30 minutes before I receive my first bottle for my brand-spanking, fresh-out-the-womb new diagnoses. Window lady tells me to take 10mg of Prozac for one week, and then increase the dose of 20mg. Easing into the medication supposedly stifles the side effects. I’m not too worried, I’d rather just get this show on the road, but I promise I’ll take the drugs as prescribed.

“The psychiatrist plans to evaluate your progress weekly for the next month, when the pills should reach their full effect. But it will be an uphill battle. One day you will wake up and realize how much better you feel, even if you’re not perfectly cured yet. I hope you get better soon.” She says this plainly, as if I have a cold or the flu.

I roll my eyes and swallow my first pill in front of her.

~repost from May 19, 2017~

Kanye West and Men’s Health Month

Love him, hate him, remember him for his talent, remember him for his big mouth, today I want to celebrate my man Kanye West.

(Yes, I know he said slavery was a choice)

Kanye is using his voice as one of the most famous rappers of today to talk about HIS MENTAL HEALTH! His!! A male!! Because males have mental illnesses too!!!!!

I saw a random Facebook post the other day about Men’s Health Month, which is apparently this month, the month of June. Who knew.

You know what your health includes? Your MENTAL HEALTH!

Here are some stats from Mental Health America:

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/infographic-mental-health-men

  • “Over 6 million men suffer from depression per year. Male depression often goes undiagnosed.”
  • “2.3 million Americans are affected by bipolardisorder. An equal amount of men and women develop the illness.”
  • “Approximately 3.5 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with schizophrenia…ninety percent of people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia by age 30 are men.”
  • “Males account for an estimated 10% of patients with anorexia or bulimia and an estimated 35% of those with binge-eating disorder.”
  • Suicide is the 7th leading cause of death among males.”

Mental illness is difficult to talk about for everyone. It took me 7 years of symptoms to talk. But for men, it can be even more difficult. Social norms of masculinity, years of bottling up emotions, little support from friends and family, reluctance to talk, etc. etc. etc. Stats about male vs. female mental health are likely skewed because men go undiagnosed, untreated, unnoticed.

On June 1st, the first day of Men’s Health Month, Kanye released his newest album “ye”, using the photo above as his album cover. This is a quote I’ve come across exactly one million times whilst wishing my day away reading bipolar memes, but it still makes me laugh. It’s just too accurate. Kanye apparently took the photo used in the cover with his phone, so that’s cool too. I use my own photos for all of my blog covers (besides this one, but anyways), so Kanye and I have a thing going on together for sure.

I wrote down exactly 45 lines from his album that made me feel some type of way, but I can’t imagine anyone would read through all of them, so here is my favorite one from each song (excluding “All Mine” because, well, if you know you know):

From “I Thought About Killing You”:

“Today I seriously thought about killing you

I contemplated, premeditated murder

And I think about killing myself

And I love myself way more than I love you, so”

Kanye admitting his struggle with suicide may be the thing that saved his life.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline (yes, I know I share this all the time, but still relevant): 1-800-273-8255

From “Yikes”:

“Russell Simmons wanna pray for me too

Ima pray for him because he got #MeToo’ed”

Leaving this here: https://www.google.com/?client=safari&channel=mac_bm

From “Wouldn’t Leave”:

“You know I’m sensitive, I got a gentle mental

Every time somethin’ happen, they want me sent to mental”

From “No Mistakes”:

“I had debt on my books, it’s been a shaky-ass year”

Both of these are talking about his “mental” hospitalization. Debt? Me too man, me too.

Outro of “Ghost Town” by Shake:

“And nothing hurts anymore, I feel kinda free

We’re still the kids we used to be, yeah yeah

I put my hand on a stove, to see if I still bleed”

From the chorus of “Violent Crimes” by Shake:

“It was all part of the story, even the scary nights”

From “Yikes” (okay I lied about only using one line per song):

“That’s my bipolar s*** n**** what?

That’s my superpower, n**** ain’t no disability

I’m a superhero! I’m a superhero!”

I left this quote for last because it is probably (definitely) the most controversial line in the album. I would loveeeeeee to hear what my people with and without a mental illness think about it. I personally am all about Kanye using his disorder to spread awareness and finding meaning in it. When I was at my lowest point, forcibly admitted into my second psychiatric hospital in one month, after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I needed to find some reason for my mental illness. I think I found my reason for my disorder in writing and speaking about it. And figuring that out helped me (almost) as much as any hospital or diagnosis or medication or therapy did. Seems like Kanye feels the same way, and he’s able to spread the message wayyyyy farther than I can right now. I appreciate the help.

If you agree with me, or more importantly, if you totally disagree with me, leave me some (kind) comments or shoot me an email 🙂

Xoxoxox,

Me

High Risk

Hey guys!!!! In order to keep my blog up and running daily (or mostly daily), I’ve decided to repost some of my old blogs. I hope old readers don’t mind, and welcome to new readers!!! 🙂 No worries, new blogs coming your way too!!

October 2016

My school’s counseling service is pushed to the back and most depressing corner of the student health center. I find myself there, quite unamused by the set up. I decide that after this first, mandatory meeting, I will never come back. Therapy is overrated; even if I am labeled completely screwed up today, I figure I will talk to the doc, get some happy pills, and go on my merry way. Just like all the other screwed up people in this screwed up world. I’ve abandoned my screwed-up-ness before, and I usually resume my state of nothingness soon after an “episode”. Nothingness is second nature to me. Sweet and easy. Lonely, maybe, but it’s my strength. It’s my shield against the world. Absence of emotion. Void of feeling. Vacant. Cold.

Not just cold. Numb.

The receptionist, who is cute and happy and all of the things I am not, gives me a questionnaire to fill out before my meeting. It asks me questions like “Why are you here?” and “What do you hope to receive out of our services?” Most of my answers eloquently state, “I don’t know.” I want to say, “because you all won’t stop harassing me until I am evaluated,” but I know the receptionist hasn’t done anything wrong. She doesn’t deserve my highly irritated mood. I will save that for the shrink. I return the papers and sit down on one of the uncomfortable, faded blue couches.

I too feel uncomfortable and faded.

The girl across from me suddenly breaks out into tears. Her friends, I assume, hold her and pat her on the back and whisper just loudly enough for me to hear. They say love her and she is strong and she will be okay and blah blah blah. I cringe. I hate when people touch me. The thought of being surrounded in the heat and sweat of anyone, even my closest friend, is gag inducing. Luckily sobbing girl soon chills out. I wonder if I’m as crazy as she is, or perhaps even crazier. I’d rather stop wondering. Her soft crying echoes, but I look away, feeling cramped by the intimacy of it all. Nothingness.

I stare at the bolted metal doors placed around the waiting room. I watch therapist after therapist open them, smiling and exuding sickly warmth, too happy to be normal people. I accept that I will be missing my 10:00am chemistry class, and am even more pissed off than I was when I got here.

My name is called.

I glance up and see a grumpy old man staring at me, almost as unamused by the situation as I am. I follow him through one of the prison doors, twitching when I hear it slam and lock behind me.

I spend about 10 minutes complaining, then assuring him that nothing is wrong with my life, that I just had an itty bitty episode of craziness. He stops me. He is tired of listening.

He then proceeds to blatantly tell me that I will need extensive therapy for the rest of college. Probably for the rest of my life.

My nothingness turns back into intense frustration. Excuse me?

I wish I could see myself. My shocking, shameful, disaster-impending thoughts are surely expressed on my not-so poker face.

His calmness unfaltering, he asks when I am available for my next meeting.

Totally apathetic.

I don’t like him.

Aren’t therapists supposed to, like, make you feel like you can tell them everything in your pretty little psychotic mind? He is not doing so well on this front. But he explains that he is the emergency counselor, so I will see someone else next time.

Good.

I give the dude my most awkward, most favorite look: lips pursed, with the corners pulled slightly up, eyes wide, eyebrows raised. The face of nothingness: of seeing, of feeling, of thinking nothing. My friends recognize it easily. I use it when I am not amused with the situation.

I am not amused with the situation.

My eyes look left to right to up to down, refusing to meet his gaze. I reverse psychology him, giving him the “therapist silence” and waiting for him to speak. Instead he turns toward his computer to schedule my next appointment. Apparently being a “high-risk emergency” student means getting everything you want because he is able write me down for the upcoming Thursday. I groan. More missed classes for me.

He releases me from his sheriff’s office and allows me back through the metal doors and into the real world. The receptionist calls out “have a good day!” as I hurry out. I turn away, trying not to let her see the exaggerated rolling of my eyes.

I go outside and promptly burst into tears.

*****

Thursday morning arrives agonizingly slowly. I take the bus back to the health center and walk again to the armpit of the building. I check in with the same chirpy receptionist and wait my turn. At this point there is nothing that makes me feel crazier than being in this room with a dozen other depressed crazies.

A cookie cutter of a therapist calls my name. He smiles knowingly at me, like he’s seen millions of other hopeless cases. I smile back, like I’ve seen millions of other irrelevant therapists. What type of a person enjoys talking with hopeless people all day everyday? Not my type of person. He leads me to the dungeons.

Cookie Cutter therapist asks me to tell my entire fucking “story” all over again. Apparently the notes from Grumpy therapist aren’t enough.

“What brings you here today?”

“Someone called emergency services on me, and they forced me to make an appointment.”

“I see.” I rolled my eyes at his typical, just-like-in-the-movies therapy line. “Have you ever been in counseling before?”

“Yep. I came home from boarding school my junior year to see a therapist once a week.”

“Why?”

“Same stuff I guess.”

“How did that go?”

“I didn’t like her. She released me after six months. Said nothing is wrong with me.”

“And you haven’t gone to therapy since then?”

“Nope.”

“Have you ever seen a psychiatrist before?”

“Nope.”

“Have you ever had suicidal thoughts?”

I pause. “Sure.”

“Are you suicidal right now?”

“Nope.” Lie.

I continue talking, reminding him repeatedly that my life is essentially perfect, as far as high risk patients go: no abuse, no neglect, no molestation, no poverty. No obvious external triggers, just a fucked up brain here. Just like I told Grumpy.

I worry throughout our meeting that he will tell me there is nothing wrong with me.

I need there to be something wrong with me.

I need to understand why I’m different.

Well by the time I finish talking, he is decently confident that there is definitely something wrong with me.

“Okay,” he begins. “Unfortunately the school’s counseling and psychiatry services extend only up to a year for each student. We don’t have the capacity to keep students for longer. In my professional opinion, you need long term therapy, longer than what we can offer.”

Awesome.

“So we have a decision to make. You can either stay with me and transfer after a year, or I can set you up now with a therapist on the outside.”

“You can set me up with an outside therapist,” I respond, perhaps too enthusiastically. This dude makes me thera-pissed (ha). Happy-go-lucky and jolly and charismatic and ignorantly positive.

Totally empathetic.

I don’t like him.

“Okay, that seems like a good idea,” he replies with a smile. He probably sees right through me, probably hates me back and is more than willing to put me off on someone else. He turns his back to me and begins scrolling on his computer. He’s figuring out whose doorstep on which to drop me.

“I also want to refer you to a psychiatrist.” He softly stares at me, reading my body language before I respond. But I think seeing a shrink sounds good, if you consider darkness and hopelessness and anti-insanity drugs good. I shrug.

“The soonest appointment for a psychiatrist in the community is three weeks from now.”

My heart starts heavily beating, an oncoming panic attack racing through my veins. I need a psychiatrist to tell me what is wrong with me. I need a doctor now. I will not survive three weeks.

Cookie Cutter sees the fear in my eyes—I’ve finally given him an emotion. Fear. He turns around. After a few minutes of infinite silence, he lets out a small “a-ha” and looks contently in my direction.

“Back to our other option. If you choose to stay at the school’s counseling services, with me, our psychiatrist has an appointment available next week. You are very lucky; even the psychiatrists here often cannot meet with students for weeks.”

Like I said before: being a high risk patient works every time. I sure as hell don’t feel lucky, but I am relieved. Even if I have to stay with sugar cookie.

“Okay, let’s do that.” I nod curtly.

“Sounds good. She can meet you on Monday. And we can schedule another appointment for next Thursday, if that works for you?”

“It’s a date.” I can’t imagine a date I’d like to go on less than another one with Cookie Cutter.

I wonder briefly about how I allowed the school to rope me into all of this. But I feel a flutter of hope, deep in the corner of my desolate soul. I keep this hope to myself, not letting Cookie Cutter see it. But it’s there.

My daughter,     Jessica. Part 1

TRIGGER WARNING: A very beautiful and powerful story told from a mother’s perspective about how her daughter ended her life. Please read.

Her mission is our mission


This is my beautiful daughter. Born 4-17-86 died 3-10-15. Her death certificate says she died by a gun shot wound. That’s only part of the truth. That doesn’t explain the real cause which is Mental Illness, more specific Depression and Bipolar disorder.

Jessica was in The top 20 of her high school class, 2004. She was in sideline cheer as well as the competitive cheer team, she ran track and had 3 amazing friends. She also had a little brother, Clayton who was 14 years younger than her but they were great friends.

She was far from perfect, I know she smoked and I know she tried some drugs and drinking but she kept up her grades and was very responsible. After high school she attended Aquinas College and graduated in 2008. Soon after she was working at Pine Rest Hospital at the north east clinic as an administrative secretary…

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WordPress Meet and Greet – All Bloggers Welcome

Meet other bloggers who want to help each other gain exposure!!! Message me any time about mutual following 🙂

HarsH ReaLiTy

All bloggers are welcome to use this post as a forum for meeting new bloggers and finding new blogs to visit! Feel free and promote yourself below! Visit some blogs and make some new friends!

This post now has over 2,000 active bloggers waiting to connect in it. I encourage anyone looking for new blogs to view or people to converse with to browse through the comment section and network!

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Introduction

Hi guys!!! Welcome to everyone new, and hello to all of my readers. I decided to repost this introduction to really re-explain why I have this blog and what I’m here to do. 

 

On January 26th–12 therapists, 5 psychiatrists and 2 hospitalizations later–I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I cannot adequately describe the whirlpool of disorienting fear and terrifying relief I endured as my doctor delivered this information to me. I stared at him. He smiled at me. He told me I’d (probably) be okay, that a life full to the brim with handfuls of pills and stringent routines and constant therapy would (hopefully) manage my “mental illness.” And as utterly overwhelmed as I felt, I also felt the immense calm after the storm, in my pit of my stomach, telling me that it was okay to be crazy. It is okay. Four months ago I was misdiagnosed with depression. And the only thing crazier than a bipolar person is a bipolar person on antidepressants. Antidepressants keep serotonin in your brain longer, which often helps people with depression. But for a person with bipolar, like me (still weird to admit), the happy brain chemicals can force her into a manic state. And manic was I. This one was not what I call my “good” manias: rapid speech, shopping sprees, overdrinking, undereating, not sleeping, and lots of exhilerating disasters. This was one of my “bad” manias, my worst one to date. 16 weeks in my personal hell. I had daily panic attacks so severe that I felt I was dying, my heart beating so fast that I knew it would soon give out. My eyes were permanently bloodshot from tears. I couldn’t breathe. This drug-induced “bad” mania got me institutionalized. Twice. The nurses took away my shoelaces, my underwire, even my deodorant, and absolutely all of my dignity. I glared at the white, bleached walls of my jail cell and believed that was where I belonged forever. But, thanks to psychiatrist #5, my hell is gone, at least for now. I am beginning to hone in my crazy for the first time in my life. I am learning who I am when I’m not knee-deep in my mood swings. Most importantly, I am reminded every single day that I am so loved, by so many people, so much more than I deserve. You give me the strength to accept my diagnosis, to even get a tattoo to forever represent it. A bright pink arrow up for mania, and a dark blue arrow down for depression. Thank you.

 

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