kafkaSleep now eludes me. Words and images have become my enemies, lumbering in and out of the dark places of my brain which only exist during the quiet of the night. The images are Kafkaesque, not the images one usually associates with metamorphosis. I am becoming someone I vaguely remember from long ago before medication and before I knew what was wrong, when my mental illness was scarier and more unpredictable. I’m a little concerned that my posts may not be good for my stigma-busting; but because I am nothing but open and honest about my mental illness, I refuse to edit my experience. Perhaps it will show the dire need for affordable mental health care, because that is one of the reasons I’m doing this. A correct diagnosis is vital (as accurate as one can get in this field); and as I’ve mentioned previously, I’m concerned all the different types of meds may be have been masking or even causing symptoms. The truly helpful meds are so expensive, even a very old generic medication is barely covered by my insurance simply because it is rarely used anymore. Our local newspaper just ran an investigative series on the appalling lack of good mental health care. The state of this issue in many parts of the world that one would think of as advanced is frightening.

It’s been over 25 years (since my last pregnancy), that I have not been medicated in some form (self-medicated or prescribed) at night. It’s been about 40 years (except for my pregnancies and a few other brief periods) when I haven’t been medicated at all. My brain is not happy. I’m questioning my reality – do I feel this way because that is what I’m expecting?  That’s what makes sense because I’m not even a week into the detox process.

The last time I did this I was in the hospital for four weeks. Two weeks detox, one week clear, one day of testing, one week with a new medication. I wish I could afford to do that now. I know my marriage will survive, my husband is unbelievably understanding and supportive. I have to rein in the feelings of guilt – why would he want to live with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? I feel so unlovable; but if I can think of it in the terms of the fact that he wouldn’t leave me if I had any other disease, I should be able to get a grip on those unreasonable fears.

It’s all in my head, right?

(image credit to octothorpopus on flickr)


Too many labels

We seem to have a multitude of labels or descriptors applied throughout our lifetimes. Some we choose, some are foisted upon us in anger, and some are lovingly given. We have nicknames, endearments, and epithets. We have diagnoses, scientific classifications, and social terms. Most are not happy with a simple “human being,” not descriptive enough.

As far as my own personal labels are concerned, it doesn’t matter to me what someone else chooses to call me (good or bad). However, I am tired of all the changing labels of psychiatric diagnoses. There are no definitive tests (i.e. blood tests, MRI, etc) to clearly diagnose a mental illness. We would have a world of self-diagnosed crazies if everyone were to look at the lists of criteria for mood disorders, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, or any one of the other myriad of diagnoses.

Now into my ninth month of severe depression, my team of mental health professionals seem to have thrown up their hands and decided to just lump me into a couple non-specific categories. This has caused an odd reaction, in which I seem to have confusion piled on top of everything else. After about 15 years of referring to myself as having bipolar disorder, I no longer know how to define myself in psychiatric terms and it surprises me that this is a troubling situation. As my friend, Joel Sax (who writes the amazing blog Pax Nortana-see Links), says something like (sorry Joel, can’t remember the exact quote) stigma could be eliminated if we could just call it illness…leave out the mental. Because really, when one thinks about it, if our brain is not working correctly neurologically (or for whatever other physical reason) couldn’t that simply be classified as “illness?”


Some silly food for thought:   When my children were small and my ex-husband demanding, he came home to a messy house and said “What the hell do you do all day?” That’s when I came up with the following:

Goddess of Everything – Must be available at a moment’s notice

Chief Financial Officer
Personal Banker
Cash Manager
Loan Officer
Accounts Payable Administrator
Budget SupervisorStrategic Planning Executive
Schedule Manager
Event Planner
Social Director
OrganizerAdministration Executive
Benefits Administrator
Shipping & Receiving
Safety Specialist
Law EnforcementInformation Technology Officer
Research Specialist
Technical Support Manager
Network Administrator
Word Processing Specialist

Animal Welfare Manager
Pet Care
Dog Valet
Dog Walker

Clothing Specialist
Fashion Consultant
Laundry Wench
Alterations Manager

Director of Health
& Emotional Well-Being
Education Counselor
Career Counselor
Drug Safety Specialist
Pharmacy Manager
Nurse Practitioner
Relationship Manager
Administrator of Medical Records

Food Service Executive
Grocery Management & Supply

General Maintenance Manager
Interior Designer

Head of Transportation
Mapping Manager
Automotive Maintenance

Materials Management Executive
Errand Runner
Non-Food Supplies Procurement