sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist, an unschooler, and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Archive for the ‘Mental Illness’ Category

Runaway Train

Runaway Train

Call you up in the middle of the night

Like a firefly without a light

You were there like a blowtorch burning

I was a key that could use a little turning

So tired that I couldn’t even sleep

So many secrets I couldn’t keep

Promised myself I wouldn’t weep

One more promise I couldn’t keep

It seems no one can help me now

I’m in too deep

There’s no way out

This time I have really lead myself astray

Depression seeps in

Silently and slowly creeping

Like a shadow obscuring the light

It arrives slowly without warning

A gas leak that slowly chokes out the life

Within us

We struggle and fumble

To find our way out

To the fresh air

And to the light

Again

Rain falls softly

Quietly covering the ground

The wind blows the leaves of the trees

Branches sway

Thoughts of how I use to be

Enjoying myself with my children on a road trip to ohio

To an unschooling conference

Just this past May

Two months later

And here I am feeling lost

We drove to St. Louis over Easter weekend

I had determination, organization, purpose and poise

Now i sit in the silence looking at old photos

Longing for that feeling I once had

Happiness, joy,

It is more than that

Purpose

I sense of divine purpose

Yet each time I encounter the chains of depression

I move forward

Never back…

Runaway train never going back

Wrong way on a one-way track

Seems like I should be getting somewhere

Somehow I’m neither here nor there

Can you help me remember how to smile?

Make it somehow all seem worthwhile

How on earth did I get so jaded?

Life’s mysteries seem so faded

I can go where no one else can go

I know what no one else knows

Here I am, just drowning in the rain

With a ticket for a runaway train

And everything seems cut and dry

Day and night

Earth and sky

Somehow I just don’t believe it

Runaway train never going back

Wrong way on a one-way track

Seems like I should be getting somewhere

Somehow I’m neither here nor there

Bought a ticket for a runaway train

Like a madman laughing at the rain

A little out of touch, a little insane

It’s just easier than dealing with the pain

Runaway train never going back

Wrong way on a one-way track

Seems like I should be getting somewhere

Somehow I’m neither here nor there

Runaway train never coming back

Runaway train tearing up the track

Runaway train burning in my veins

I run away but it always seems the same

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Bipolar Depression: When Life Just Sucks and the bills need to be paid

I have been on prozac, 20mg, 9 months now. I have birthed myself a new life.

Unlike the last anti-depressant I tried 2 years ago, I feel that the Prozac is helping me and not causing side effects and mania.

It makes me wonder, why didn’t I try this medication years ago?

Here I am now. And somehow it is all perfect and in perfect order.

It can be challenging to really believe that.

The idea that life unfolds, or we create it, just the way it needs to be.

And it is what we do with what happens that matters more than what happens.

We create our life….

Yet, there are those times when it really feels like life is happening to me

Sh#t happens

I work PRN as an Occupational Therapy in geriatric rehab.

PRN means no required hours and no guaranteed hours.

I sign up to work but they can “call me off”if they don’t need me something that can happen the night before or the day of…

I am employed with 2 companies, one for almost 8 years and the other for 4 years.

PRN also means you get paid a “higher rate of pay” because you have no benefits.

Healthcare changed in 2000 and greatly for me in the field of Occupational Therapy.

I had a pay cut and salary caps happened and jobs were hard to find for a while.

My work is very different than it was when I graduated college with my Bachelor of Science Degree in OCcupational Therapy in 1992.

All those Medicare cuts and changes that happened at the beginning of this century, mean I now make less money than I did 20 years ago. I worked PRN 21 years ago in addition to a full time job. At that time, my PRN rate of pay was double my rate as a full time employee. IT was $50 an hour. The current average rate of pay in the area where I live for a PRN OCcupational Therapist is now $45 an hour.

I now have 25 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist and yet 21 years later, I am making less money.

PRN means no increase in pay.

This is healthcare.

Or better named, sickcare.

I vent about this all the time to my husband and close friends and family.

It is time I write about it.

I began asking for a pay increase 4 years ago at my job I had been with for 4 years when I found out the current rate of pay for new PRN employees, therapists, was $5 more than I was making. I got told I would get the pay increase and then called back the next day and told, “I didn’t know there was a hold on raises. But you will be the first to get a raise when it changes.”

I asked again almost 2 years later, I was told I had to wait until the fall (it was early spring) when they do reviews.

As a prn employee, I had never had a review done.

First of September, my boss schedules a review for me. Wow!

I get told I will get the “pay increase”, in other words, they will now pay me what they are paying everyone else who was hired after me.

It will be in my December pay check.

December comes, no pay increase.

I was told that the regional manager forgot to allocate the money for my raise.

Apparently, they can only do raises one time per year.

I inquired about my options. I won’t even share that here because you would never believe it.

And I know my boss went to bat for me for the raise and then after the raise didn’t happen. I appreciate her efforts.

Much to my surprise, a year later, I get the pay increase!

After nearly 8 years working nearly ever week and most weekends for this company being available for most weekends and also being called off work when the caseload was too low, I now am getting paid what they should have been paying me at least 4 years ago.

$50 per hour

The rate of pay I made 21 years ago, when my hourly rate as a full time employee was $25 per hour.

GRATEFUL?

Sure I am grateful.

I feel like i finally made it happen!

Because PRN employees don’t get raises, pay increases, nothing.

I have been told that by my other employer, where I have now worked 4 years.

Why am I prn?

Because in order to be part time you have to average 20 hours per week.

They don’t have that many hours to give me at either place. I often work 20 hours between both jobs.

Many companies only have full time and prn employees and not part time employees.

So this is all good right?

Now the company is choosing to use prn employees as little as possible.

A secret policy that I have only learned about through the grape vine.

I have been called off work as a prn employee and I get that is part of being prn and the status of healthcare.

But now, I am called off work more and more.

It doesn’t matter how many years I have been with the company, nor my experience, nor the fact that when they do my quarterly relives now, I get glowing remarks on what I great employee I am.

What is the point of the glowing reviews?

It feels like a slap in the face!

I began getting the glowing reviews after I was told my raise wasn’t happening, because the regional manager forgot to allocate the money for my raise.

Now, just 3 months after my raise went into effect….

I am finding out not from my boss but from my co-workers, that the company is now choosing to use prn employees as little as possible.

Why am I writing about this and not going to my boss?

I have gone to her multiple times.

I have had many sit down talks with her about my concerns and issues.

I have reached out to her to find out about these rumors I am hearing.

She chooses not to fill me in and not respond to my phone call or repeated questions about the changes.

Each month, I am asked to give my availability for working weekends for the coming month.

I typically let them know I am available most Sundays for a full work day and most Saturdays for at least a half work day. On average, I tell them I am available for 6 our of 8 weekend days, every month, for nearly 8 years.

I find out about how much I am needed for on the Friday afternoon or night before the weekend.

I find out if they are calling me off work on the Friday before and sometimes not until 10pm the night before.

This is the nature of prn work in Occupational Therapy. (PT and OT work in adult and geriatric rehab)

I have been told, that despite my years of experience and time with the company, that if there are no evaluations, I will be called off first rather than the COTAS (OT assistants with a 2 year degree).

OK

It is a financial thing, they tell me.

Something I have never been happy with.

When I am needed for evaluations, they need me. But I am the first to go when the caseload is low.

That in itself sucks.

But what sucks even more

Is the company deciding to use prn employees as little as possible and not sharing this information with the prn employees.

Not openly sharing it.

We all know because we talk to the full time employees

Who are now required to rotate working weekends.

Not because they want to but because they have to.

Sometimes life just sucks.

I have seen that I am being called off more often and despite really liking my fellow co-workers and the facility as a whole at my weekend job, and have been looking for more work hours elsewhere.

My other prn job I work one or two days during the week as well as Saturdays when needed also has a low caseload right now.

And that is a crazy story with its own issues but I will save that for another time.

That being said,

I now have two prn jobs with very little hours for me to work.

And I have been looking for more hours and have let them all know that I am looking for more work hours.

Instead of more hours, I am getting far less hours.

In January, I earned enough to meet and exceed our expenses, to help pay down our debt.

My February pay checks totaled $1000 less, not quite meeting our basic expenses.

So far in March, I have worked a total of 5.25 hours.

It is only March 4, but I have only worked that many hours from Sunday Feb 25 through today, Sunday March 4.
I signed up to work full day last Sunday and today and for 5 hours yesterday and got 0 hours.

The 5.25 hours came from my other prn job.

But I may have 0 hours this week at my other prn job.

The caseload is low and instead of referring patients to our in facility outpatient therapy program, the facility is referring patients to a home health company who is trying to establish a monopoly in the facility, despite our company having a contract with a different home health company.

So I shared a little of that drama…

This is the nature of health care…

Sick care

I usually work at least 15 hours per week, 20 hours per week meets my expenses.

Sometimes I work 25 or more hours per week and other times 10-15, and it balances out.

But working only 5 hours in 2 weeks won’t pay the bills.

I have been asking about other prn work and have a number of companies to call and…

I updated my resume

Today, I am applying for other jobs. I have had that on my to do list for several weeks.

Now it feels urgent

When I began looking around for other work and asking my fellow prn employees and co-workers who work prn, I was looking to give myself more options and to seek work at a higher rate of pay.

I was looking for a third prn job to have the upper hand.

To be able to tell my weekend employer,

“NO, I have other work and work where I won’t get called off the day of or the night before at 10pm.”

I enjoy the jobI work weekends, I enjoy what I do as an Occupational Therapist, the patients I work with, and my co-workers, and the facility.

But I also value my sanity.

And, heck, the bills need to get paid!

Part of the reason, I have hesitated to find other prn work, more prn jobs…

Is because I am also a writer and actively working

To grow my writing, and turn Child-led learning into a paying gig

My husband, Don, and I are making plans to speak together on conscious parenting.

I run a local homeschool website, Charlottehomeschooling.com

I run Child-led Learning blog and facebook page and my goal is to grow that into a community and to also work as a child-led learning consultant.

I am ready to take my experience and skills and more to new work.

I am ready to use my skills as an Occupational therapist to begin a business in well- care, instead of sick-care.

Sundays are now writing time and planning time and goal setting time.

I can embrace my new Sundays.

I am also ready to see the $350 I typically earn (or used to earn) each Sunday, showing up in my life in new ways…

..so the bills can be paid.

I am ready universe.

I am open to new possibilities.

I am a writer.

I am Gina.

I am creating a new realization, a new experience, for my life

…and for my family.

Depression: Trudging through the mud with chains on my back while trying to keep my head above water

Here comes the sun

It’s been a long, cold winter

When I look back to when I have been depressed, I see sadnesses but there is so much more to it then that.

Life becomes a chore, all of it. Getting through each and every day is exhausting

And I look forward most to going to bed at night and sleeping and being in the quiet

But when I wake, I don’t feel refreshed, I feel tired and want to keep sleeping

Getting up is challenging

Getting up and starting my day takes a lot of effort

Leaving me with a half empty tank for the rest of my day

And some days, getting up takes nearly all my tank and so I am left running on fumes all day

Until I can go to bed again.

I manage to do the essentials, feed my children, feed myself

When I am depressed, I eat, too much

Trying to find comfort in food, but the comfort never comes

Leaving me feeling heavy and disappointed further pushing me down

I manage to wash clothes, I like doing laundry, the only cleaning task I truly like

Something about the simplicity of laundry and the reward

Sort the colors, fill the washer, add the soap and turn the dials

I get myself and my kids to the things we must do, are committed to

I get myself to work and get through the day

I don’t enjoy work very much and it feels like WORK

There are moments of pleasure and times where I feel good at work, work gives me a. Feeling of accomplishment

When I am working, I feel competent, because I have been an Occupational Therapist for 25 years

And I know the routine

I complete an eval, setting goals and then reassess them 3-4 weeks later and see the progress, or lack of it

And when they have reached their maximum potential, I complete the discharge paperwork with reassessment again.

It is logical and familiar.

I am a good therapist and I know what I am doing.

Yet, i have many moment so “I don’t want to do this anymore” seeing all the flaws in the system

And the problems that need fixing and it frustrates me beyond belief

Yet while I am at work, I probably am functioning my best

Home

Thinking about it now, recalling how coming home is always challenging when I am depressed,

I think it is because I come home to “disappointment”

Disappointment in myself for all the things I have NOT been doing in my time away from work

You can look at the menu but you just can’t eat

You can feel the cushions but you can’t have a seat

You can dip your foot in the pool, but you can’t have a swim

You’re the fastest runner, but you’re not allowed to win

YOu can see the summit, but you can’t reach it

It’s the last piece of the puzzle but you just cant make it fit

The doctor says you’re cured but you still feel the pain

Aspirations in the clouds but your hopes go down the drain

There are moments of joy, playing with my youngest and engaging with all my kids

Yet there is this dark cloud over my head the whole time

Just when I think I am pulling myself up and out of the muck and mud,

Something happens creating more challenges in my life

Causing me to fall back into the mud

Don is my rock, steady and always by my side

Yet, when I am depressed all I see are his flaws

I expect him to disappoint me and that is what I experience

This is a new reflection, a new realizing that I am just now fully realizing

As I listen to Peter Cetera sing, The Glory of Love

DEPRESSION

Have you ever seen the rain coming down on a sunny day?

I always thought if you were clinically depressed, you wound have any moment of joy

I always told myself, i wasn’t really depressed or i won’t be able to go to work

I wouldn’t be able to function at all, that is real clinical depression

Those people have it bad

I am still functioning.

It wasn’t until I came out of it, that I could look back and see how depressed I was

It didn’t matter that I was still functioning, I was barely functioning

I was barely getting by and it was painful

Often physically painful with aches and pains, throwing my back out to the point of not being able to move

Many trips to the chiropractor and other doctors for a variety of illnesses

And then I would get sick, stay home from work sick and it would take a long time to get better or I would relapse

Looking back this happened in college, often, sinus infections that just wouldn’t go away

Mood swings

All my life I have experienced big mood swings

When I went to college and learned about bipolar disorder

I wondered, Is this me?

Yet, i don’t experience mania

Not full on mania

It was years before I learned about hypomania

I think I learned about it from my brother and his bipolar diagnosis

From that time, i began to wonder about myself

I went to a psychiatrist after I had been on an antidepressant for a long time, 8 months ore so, prescribed by my primary

Because i finally took myself to the doctor and tole them I needed treatment for depression

So by the time I went to the first psychiatrist, i was having nearly all the side effects from the antidepressant and i was in a state of hypomania but beginning to look more like mania

The doctor diagnosed me with depression, removed me from the medicine showing me how I was having all the side effects fro it

And then

She declared me cured

I knew I was not cured but hopefully that I didn’t need the antidepressant anymore

And so worried that I would fall back into the depression again

I was good for a while, for another few months

Until i slowly began sinking again

So slowly, rreeping up on me

Realizing it but naively thinking along the way that

THIS was the low point and surely I would pull back up

Sinking further and further

Finding a doctor again and trying a different antidepressant and going to a new psychiatrist

Because I wanted to make sure the medicine didn’t cause mania because

That can help end with bipolar disorder

I had been reading and researching becoming more and more convinced that this was my proper diagnosis

And going to the psychiatrist, to the expert, to determine if that was the case

Yet, she diagnosed me with depression

And I got tiered of paying twenty dollars cash each visit and not happy with her

Challenged by th noisy fan because the building’s air conditioner was broken and she had a soft voice and an accent

And my hearing is not what it used to be and it was a challenge to hear her words

And a challenge to be there with her asking dumb basic questions

When I had dug so much deeper with all my purists in EFT and alternative modalities and inner work

Luckily, my primary has continued to prescribe my medication and i don’t seam to baving side effects

I wonder about mania vs hypomania

I realize that it would have been good to continue to go to the same psychiatrist so manybe she could have seen the difference in me,

Why?

To diagnosis me properly

Whatever

I have done that for myself

I am more qualified to do it

Which is sad, really sad that the mental health system has failed me

I intended to work in mental health when I was in college studying Occupational therapy

We had an entire semester plus dedicated to mental health and level I and level II fieldwork in a mental health setting

Only finding traumatic brain injury and a acute rehab pulled me way from my interest in pursing a career in mental health

Here I am

All these years later

Discovering that the doctors don’t always do the best job at diagnosis in

The psychologists and psychiatrist with their MDs and PhDs, all those years of school

Didn’t help me

My own personal education, experience, research and inner work and trial and erro with a variety of approaches

Has led me to diagnosis myself

I would have been the last person to say this is valid,

I am biased, this is why i went to the professions in the first place

They were supposed to be the experts

They first failed me with my children, especially my youngest son

In getting him help for his anxiety and challenges that affected his every day life

Yet, I find myself needing to say, I mean no disrespect for these professionals and they are essential in the system

And I KNOW they help many, many children and adults get the help they need.

And yet, there are those who are misdiagnosed and those who fall through the cracks of the system

Those who don’t get the help they need because of costs and insurance, bad insurance or no insurance

Or no qualified providers in their insurance plan

WE MUST ALL TAKE CHARGE OF OUR OWN HEALTH AND BE INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS

As an Occupational Therapist, my role is to facilitate my patient’s return to a higher level of independent functioning.

I facilitate, but I can not do the work for them and if they are not motivated and don’t make the effort, there is nothing I can do to make them better.

“Man, through the use of his hands, can influence the state of his own health”

The quote is from one of the founders of occupational therapy and something I learned in freshman year in a Theory of Occupational Therapy class. I learned about many different theorists yet that one quote is what has stuck with me.

That quote is what motivated me to help my daughter learn to knit and crochet when her OCD was so severe that it crippled here in her daily life. And what drove me to engage her in Sudoku puzzles and other tasks to help calm the anxiety that was rampant in her Brian causing havoc in her life and in ours.

I have learned that I must go to the doctor and get their advice AND do my own research, go to the alternative practitioners and gather all the resources and information and advice

AND then I must decide what to take in and what to discard in order to maximize my level of independent functioning.

BUT WHEN I AM DEPRESSED, IT IS REALLY HARD TO DO THIS!

I KNOW What I need to do much of the time, but making the decisions to do it and taking the action is challenging.

It can be paralyzing to know what I need to do and not be able to make the decisions to do it.

To an outsider it looks so simple, just do it,, just call the doctor and make the appointment, just get up 30 minutes early and walk every morning, just go. Outside once each day and do grounding exercises, just write in your journal daily.

Sure I KNOW I need to do these things and at times, I can do them, once or twice,

Trudging through the mud with chains on my back, while trying to keep my head above water

A Day in the Life of a family touched by OCD

I wrote this post over 3 years ago. I never published it.  I am going to share it as I wrote it. It feels unfinished at the end and that is exactly how our life felt at that time.  I am happy to say that Abby is now functioning like a typical 14 year old for the most part, or at least like a typical unschooled 14 year old. She has overcome so much and come so far in 3 years.  Whenever I stop and think about this, I feel speechless,breathless,  amazed at how she has overcome such a severe disability. And then I breath out as reality brings me back to my current life, because we are now going through similar issues with our youngest child.  Somehow, my husband and I have two children with OCD.  We both feel compelled to help others who suffer, Don, with his coaching business, and me with my writing. We know how isolating having a child with OCD, or any mental illness can be, and we want others to know, you are not alone, there is help.  Don has recently written an ebook on OCD. His website

 

I woke up this morning and my little one was still asleep.  I checked my phone and saw my husband’s text:  “Left at 6:50, she was still sleeping”.  I stayed put checking email and facebook on my phone until my youngest woke up at 9:30.

We then headed downstairs to check on my daughter, Abby, asleep on the couch.

She said she had been up for a while but was curled up and calm.  (Thank God!)

I went in the kitchen and got her supplements and a new glass of water and a fresh straw.

I brought them to her and gave her the supplements one at a time, dropping them into her mouth and waiting for her to  reach her body across to the table where her cup sat and drink from the straw.

I then started breakfast.  I heated up pancakes for the kids as I started some hot water.  I got pancakes ready for my 4 year old.  He wanted a special cup for his juice and so I told him to get out the one he wanted which he did.  I then started sausages and then brought my daughter’s plate of pancakes, with syrup and cut and the box of spoons to her in the living room where she sits watching TV.  I set down her plate and opened the box of plastic spoons, moving the lid out of the way for her to reach in and take one.  I pointed out how many spoons were left and reminded her that we will not be buying another box of spoons.

I went back to the kitchen and started my breakfast, cut up apple, and quinoa and got it cooking on the stove and used hot water to make myself tea.  Jason was done eating now and so I got his vitamins out.

The sausage was done and my daughter was now in the bathroom.  I called up to her but she said she was too full for sausage.  I put them away in a container and labeled it “Abby” and then I put on some other sausages that she doesn’t like but Jason and I will eat.

Then she called me upstairs to help her wash her hands.  I pumped soap into her hands and then turned on the faucet, waited for her to finish, and then turned faucet off for her and went back downstairs to kitchen to finish making my breakfast.

Jason managed to play by himself and things were relatively calm.  It’s easier when only two kids are home.  My oldest had spent the night at a friend’s house.  And my husband had an all day workshop and wouldn’t get home until after 6pm.

I managed to eat, and make a batch of nettles (I soak dried nettle leaves in hot water to make an infusion which we then let cool and freeze in ice cube trays to use daily in smoothies and to drink.  Nettles are full of minerals and great for allergy relief.)

Keep in mind that my 4 year old talks almost continuously and comes in frequently to tell me or show me something or requests me to come see what he is doing.  Abby and Jason managed to play together briefly but it ended because Abby made too many rules and Jason came to me crying.  He desperately misses playing with his sister but it is not easy to play with her because he can not touch her or her spot on the couch and she does make a lot of rules when they play.  Abby tried to negotiate with him asking him which rules he didn’t like, but Jason was done.

By now it was about 10 am and so I reminded Abby that she was supposed to be Skyping with her cousin at 12.  Her cousin lives in PA and about 2 times each week they chat on skype or Google Chat.  They are working on a story together and building a house for the imaginary family on Google- Auto Desk Homestyler.

I ask her if she has a towel to use after she showers and clothes to wear.  I go to the kitchen to finish cleaning up, unloading the dishwasher etc.  She finally decides she needs to wash clothes and her towel as well as sheets.  she goes upstairs to get her clothes and comes down, “Mom, I need you to open the washer”.

“Just a minute”  and then I head down and open the washer, she drops clothes in and I tell her to get more and then I start the washer and add the soap.  She brings a few more items down and her towel but tells me she can only wash the clothes she is going to wear today.  And I tell her she needs to wash more because I can not wash clothes for her every day.  She gets mad and huffs off.

 

Dealing and Coping with Mental Illness

One of my biggest challenges in helping my children with their mental health issues, has been doing so while dealing with my own mental health issues.  I have diagnosed myself with Bipolar 2 because the mental health professionals have failed me in that area. They diagnosed me with Major Depression despite my repeated information on my bipolar symptoms. One practioner wanted me to see if my insurance would cover generic testing, in part to see if Bipolar disorder was likely. I don’t need to take a test for that. My brother is diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and has been for a long time. My brother and I share much other genetic similarities. 

I have found in helping my children, that I have been more qualified than the so-called professionals with diagnosing myself and my children. Especially my youngest child who I know has OCD and social anxiety despite failed attempts with professionals to get these diagnoses. I am a health care professional after all and hey, who knows my children better than me? No one. I homeschool/ unschool them based on my knowledge of who they are so I guess we unschool mental health too. 

That being said, we do use professionals for assistance. We have a OCD specialist therapist who has been vital in helping both my daughter and my son.  But we have been unable as of this writing to find a well qualified Psychiatrist who specializes in OCD.  We had one that was competent and who we liked (we liked her even more after we went to other Psychiatrists) but she was self pay only and we already have enough debt from medical expenses. 

Back to my intent of this post….

Helping my children when I myself am suffering my own mental illness. 

When I look back over the years, there are large periods of time that feel like a fog and in those times, just getting through each day was a big challenge for me.  One area that has been a big issues is getting my children help or following through with referrals and other things when they are doing better. 

When your child suffers with mental illness, it is exhausting, emotionally and often physically. When, they are doing better, there is a feeling of relief and wanting life to “just be normal for a while” or more normal.  As an example of this, last spring, my youngest had a severe flare up of OCD, anxiety and behavioral issues.  We went to a hospital ER to get immediate psychiatric help but because he was less than 7, we could only seek a referral to a developmental and behavioral pediatrician or go to the local mental health behavioral unit which would have been at least a 3-5 hour wait without knowing if they could even help us. We opted for the getting referred to the pediatrician specialist which involved going back to our primary for the referral and then I called to follow up but did not receive any information from them for 6 months.  I repeat, it took the Develpomental and behavioral Pediatrician practice, 6 months to send us information in the mail to complete to be seen.  Well, 6 months later, he was doing so much better. We had started OT services as well as going to the therapist we already had for our daughter. I intended to fil out the paperwork.  I must add that about 4 months prior to this visit to the ER, we had taken him to a psychologist for evaluation, but she was unable to complete her evaluation due to his inability to answer all her questions and complete her tests. It took her a couple months to send her results to us which said nothing really that I did not already know. 

Back to the referral to the pediatrician specialist.  I truly intended to fill out this lengthy paperwork to get my son seen.  I even contacted a friend who had taught him in a class situation to help with filling out some of the information. Since we homeschool, we don’t have a teacher to answer things.  He also acts differently with me than with other people, so I thought her input would be helpful. She is also the person who first pointed out the idea that he has “social anxiety”.  Yet, I have yet to begin to complete this paperwork. Now, I want to get my daughter referred to this practice in my hopes that they will have experience with OCD, particularly child-onset OCD. Because, she needs a prescribing doctor to follow her on her medication. Our previous Psychiatrist, who we did not like at all, does not take our current insurance. 

So why did I not fill out the paperwork for my son when they finally send it to me, 6 months after I requested the referral?

The only answer I really have is: my own depression and anxiety. 

My own depression made doing daily activities difficulty and anything extra was really a stretch for me to complete. I just did not have the time nor the energy to do it. I wanted to do it. It bothered me that I did not complete it. I also think that I did not have much faith anymore that these so called “professionals” could help my son.  Having the experience of taking my time to go to the psychologist assessment and gaining nothing from the experience other than frustration with the incompetence of the psychologist with knowing how to handle a kid with severe anxiety and getting help for us, I had little motivation to pursue this next avenue of help.  

So was it my depression and Axiety that prevented me from getting the help for my son?  

Or was it because I no longer believed that the professionals could help my son?

Most likely a little of both. 

I took some steps today to get my children the help they need.  Despite the utterly inadequate NC government health care system, I soldiered on with 2 different phone calls and even talking to the person who is my “case manager” who I find particularly incompetent and unprofessional.    I know know that I need to do research to find a psychiatrist that takes our current insurance, NC assisted: NC Healthchoscie for Children (when your income is too high for Medicaid). They had Medicaid until the beginning of this year. My husband is self employed and my prn work status does not qualify me for health insurance through my employers. I work 2 jobs. 

I also plan to find that paperwork and fill it out for my son too. Hopefully, I can find it, buried in the piles of paper at my desk. And I do plan to ask my friend to help me fill out the information. She now has seen my son at least weekly in class and might have some valuable insights and opinions to share. 

So this is my affirmation to myself to make these items a priority. 

If you also deal with mental health issues and have other family members with mental health issues, I would love to hear your challenges, thoughts and insights.   Let us help each other. 

Don’t look back, keep moving forward: Post 6

Tonight, I went out by myself like I have done on most Monday afternoons for…a very long time.  I was out-of-town last Monday and the week before that I was recovering from a yucky virus and so three weeks have passed.

I arrived at one of my favorite spots, a Panera, where I can hide in the corner in a comfortable chair and set up with my space with my lap top, music via ear buds and now my new to me iPad, as well as my iPhone, and a bag with journals and books.

As I sat there,  first taking care of emails and Facebook messages both personal and on my Charlottehomeschooling and Child-led Learning pages, and then began to focus, I realized  that for the first time in a long time, if ever, I had SO MUCH that I wanted to write about.  I did not know where to begin!  I posted this to Facebook  stating it was a “good problem to have” and to my husband I texted:

I feel like I am ME again.  Not depressed and not manic. Just me.  It’s a wonderful feeling.  Now to decide what to write about first…So many ideas…..

Where do I go from here?

With this post…

I have lost and gained so much in the past year and a half since I first came out of my depression. 

I have lost over 25 pounds, something I have wanted to do for a long time, since I put that extra weight on after my now 7+year old son was born when I was 39 years old.  That is an amazing feeling.  How did  I do it?  Not with a weight loss plan. Not even an exercise plan.  I did it with energy work and focusing on what is important in my life and important to me.  I can expand upon that in another post.

I have gained a new sense of confidence, a renewed spirit for living.

Hope

Inspiration

My optimism has returned. Something, that I thought I had lost.  I can remember the moment when I realized that I  no longer felt like an optomisitic person.  I felt like my personality had changed. Had I become a pessimist? I did not like this about myself.

For as far back as I can remember, I have always lived with a sense of optimism. And you can view other gratitude posts here and here.     Until I no longer did.  And I don’t really know when that first began.

I know it was likely a series of events that piled on me, each event like a weight, some larger than others yet, all pushing me down into the quicksand.  With each new weight, it became more difficulty to pull myself up. And over time, when I did move upward it was never as high as it used to be.  Like a slowly growing sink hole that I kept attempting to climb out of and each time I did, my base of support moved further down, further down the path of depression. Yet, it happened slow gradually, I cout not see how far I had fallen.

I suspected depression for a long time.  Yet, I did not fully realize it until I I found myself lifted up, out of depression, possibly in a hypomanic state common in Bipolar 2 Disorder which is what I suspect I have.  My brother has this diagnosis and ever since I had my first psychology classes in college, I have suspected that I might be Bipolar.  Yet, back then, I did not know about Bipolar 2. I researched it just now and found this abstract from US National Library of MedicineNational Institutes of Health which appears to state that the classification for Bipolar 2 first appeared in the DSM-IV,  published in 1994, 2 years after I graduated college. I had a pocket edition of the DSM-III-R (1987)  for my psyciatric occupational therapy classes. I have that somewhere and have wondered about where it is over the years.  Yet it is out of date with the newest edition the DSM-V being published in 2013.

I digress.

Above, I have shared almost in chronological order all of my other posts in this series and thorughout my process since my first post.  And so I will share the remainder here:

Gratitude: January 11, 2016

I pulled myself out the first time in summer-fall of 2014 but then found myself back in depression by January 2015, having begun falling since November 2014.  I did much work from that time to get help and recover again.  Yet, it was a very slow process. This post is the night I knew I was really out of my depression again, or at least when I felt the most like myself again:

Twisted Sister

And my remaining posts:

Don’t look back, keeping moving forward: Depression post 3

Don’t Look Back, Keep Moving Forward Post4:The other side

Heart rate: 93 beats per minute

Don’t Look Back, Keep Moving Foward, Post 5

Spiritual Connections

I will close with the lyrics from one of the greatest bands of all times, Fleetwood Mac.

Thank you AZlyrics.com

“Don’t Stop”

If you wake up and don’t want to smile,
If it takes just a little while,
Open your eyes and look at the day,
You’ll see things in a different way.
Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.
Why not think about times to come,
And not about the things that you’ve done,
If your life was bad to you,
Just think what tomorrow will do.
Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.
All I want is to see you smile,
If it takes just a little while,
I know you don’t believe that it’s true,
I never meant any harm to you.
Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.
Don’t you look back,
Don’t you look back.

 

Don’t Look Back, Keep Moving Foward, Post 5

When I look back now, I can see how far I have come.  When I look back now on my life, I can see how long I was depressed as well as how significantly depressed that I was.

It is surreal. I keep having the experience of deja vu and when I  stop and think about it, I realize, I feel like I finally have my life back.  Sometimes, I even picture my life when my older two children were younger, before OCD took over our family and held it hostage and before all the serious of struggles both emotional and financial entered our lives.  I often picture when my children were ages 2 and 6 and we did a “stay-cation” where we planned a week’s vacation but did it all from home.  Positive empowering memories, memories that used to haunt me in my depression because I felt so lost and wondered “what happened to that family?”  Looking at old pictures and especially old family videos were a reminder to me of how wonderful it used to be and a sad slap of realty because the life I was living looked nothing like those memories.  Or at least, in my severe depression, I could not see that life anymore. It was my distant past, a past I yearned for and wished so dearly that I could recapture.

Here I am now, on the other side, so to speak.  Or am I?  Having a family history of Bipolar Disorder and having discussions about this illness with my brother and his treatments over the years, there is a part of me that keeps wondering, “how long will I feel this wonderful? Is this mania or hypomania?”  I am anxious about the idea of the depression coming back and most anxious about the possibility of  falling from my state of emotional high and extremely well-functioning to the depths of profound depression.  I have taken the needed steps in setting up an appointment with a psychiatrist to discuss medications and my family history which is something I am glad to do since I have been taking an SSRI for 10 months now but it was prescribed by my family nurse practitioner.

Another song arrives at just the perfect time as I write, wondering where to go next with my post.  This song is one that spoke to me in my darkest moments or maybe in the moments when I was trying to pull myself up out of the dark. I start with the chorus and share the most meaningful part of the song (for me)  There are two verses before this. .

‘Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable
And life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button, girl.
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe… just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe

There’s a light at each end of this tunnel,
You shout ’cause you’re just as far in as you’ll ever be out
And these mistakes you’ve made, you’ll just make them again
If you’d only try turning around.

2 AM and I’m still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to

But you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable,
And life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button now
Sing it if you understand.
and breathe, just breathe
woah breathe, just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe.

(Thank you Anna Nalick and azlyrics.com)
Many times as I listened to the song and sang the lyrics out loud, I was in that stuck place. Stuck in my thoughts and feeling like there was no way out, that I was trapped in this cycle of frustration, struggle, depression and anger.  I was angry at the world for our financial problems, and all the terrible things that had happened, and angry at my life for not being the life that I had imagined nor the life I had experienced when I first had children. I sang it  to express how I felt and as a way to calm myself and remember to take each day one moment at a time.  I sang it to be heard.  Even though I only sing out loud in private in my home, or when I’m driving. I think this song helped me to feel heard.  One of my core issues has always been feeling like I am invisible.  And with the thought of feeling invisible, I immediately want to share the story of my car accident in 2012.  Yet, I will save that for another post.  Instead, I will end with this thought.
Somehow, I persevered.  I went through the muck and mud and have come out on the others side.  I believe the SSRI (anti-depressant) has helped me as well as being a part of The Ego Tamer Academy with Jan Luther and my active participation in the program along with using the many tools I have learned over the years like Reike, EFT, meditation, exercise,and  Imago Relationship Therapy.  I know changing my diet and taking supplements to improve my physical health have both been very important.   I don’t know if I could have pulled myself through to the other side without my husband, best friend and soul mate, Donald Grothoff and my three greatest teachers ever: my amazing children, as well as all my family and friends.
2 AM and I’m still awake, writing a (blog)
If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to

But you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable,
And life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button now
Sing it if you understand.
and breathe, just breathe
woah breathe, just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe.