Oh NO!!

We had, up until this evening, a tree on our tree lawn. A line of severe thunderstorms flew through the greater Cleveland area earlier. When the alert came through my phone, it said winds up to 80 mph. Looking at our poor tree, I can believe it.

It could have been much, much much worse. There are a few pictures of huge trees that came down in the area. AJ Colby says more storms are in the future due to the high temperatures and humidity we’re having. Check out this segment of him talking with images of the radar and satellite from the storm. It does look like we’ll have a nice weekend, knock on wood.


I don’t have many memories from childhood. Most of them consist of what I describe as “snapshots”. It’s like a picture of sorts in my mind. Sometimes I know the context and sometimes I don’t.

Seeing the tree on the ground brought back one of these snapshots. It’s me standing in a garden center holding onto the trunk of this (much smaller version) tree. There isn’t much more to it. I’m actually assuming it’s a garden center, because where else would you have bought a tree in the late 70s. I guess it isn’t even a picture so much. It’s more of like me looking outside from inside of me knowing I’m holding onto this tree.

For some reason, seeing the tree on the ground made me cry last night. I don’t feel particularly emotionally attached to that tree. Maybe because it’s one of the few nontraumatic memories I have? I don’t know. And at the moment, I’m overwhelmed with everything else and I don’t want to explore it. Maybe when I talk to Dr. D the week after next.

Back to Work…

First day back after a long break. My anxiety level was climbing all weekend. It was so bad last night, I ended up taking a Klonopin. I even needed to take one this morning. My anxiety is usually much more controlled.

Once I got back, I got back into the groove. All the babies were glad to see me. L reached her arms up as soon as she saw me. I picked her up and she just giggled. I said “Hey D Man” to D and he turned and gave me a huge smile.

When I left, A was rocking back and forth on his hands and knees. Now he’s properly crawling.

There’s so much development that happens in two weeks when you’re talking about babies under a year.

I found out this morning that I don’t have to do any office work. I don’t have to enter notes for the other teachers. I don’t have to answer the phone in the afternoon. Well, from 5-6 I do. The school age teacher is holding onto the phone until she leaves at 5.

I really think the owner is afraid of losing me. She really can’t afford to lose any staff. And she needs my degree to move her star for Step Up to Quality. It feels good to be needed. But not for the cost of my mental health.

Starting Up Again

It’s been many years since I’ve written here. I decided earlier this week to get back into writing on this blog specifically.

So what has been going on the last 3.5 years? A whole lot. I had a second bariatric procedure and I lost more weight. My highest weight was 440 pounds. I’m now 177. I was down to 164 but pandemic…….

I’m still working with infants in early childhood education. I’m still at the same place, though I’m brushing up my resume. I’m still coloring, though on my own. The meetup group doesn’t meet anymore because, well, *gestures wildly around*. I’m still baking and I’m part of an online baking “club”. “Club” because it’s only two of us. We are still trying to get people to join us.

A while ago, I quit therapy with Dr. D. I’m back working with her again. Dr. W (who I still see) encouraged me to start therapy again. I’m glad I did. The thing that made me walk away was her trying to dive into (what I recognize now as) my social anxiety. I wasn’t ready to tackle it and I was doing well in other ways. The break was good for me.

In terms of meds, I’ve been able to taper off the Haldol, Effexor and Celexa. In a few months, I’m hoping to start getting off either the Zoloft or Wellbutrin.

Last summer, one of the baby girls in my class at work had some possible vaginal bleeding. The way it was handled by my boss plus just the idea that maybe someone was hurting that little girl really messed with my head. At that point, I was seeing Dr. D. I ended up taking a week off to get my head screwed back on. The family left the center and I occasionally wonder what happened to her and hope she’s okay.

A couple months ago, we had a new family join the center. There are an infant boy, a toddler boy and a preschool girl. These children were removed from their mother. The toddler spent many hours just crying “mommy” over and over. The way the building is set up is there is a half door between the infant room and the toddler room. So I could hear every single scream. It broke my heart. It didn’t help that the toddler teacher was getting frustrated and would say “J, please stop crying.”. Let me say, that I totally understand her reaction. She had 6 other kids under 3 and it was overwhelming at times. I’ve been in her shoes. I was told A, the baby in my room, was born to a crack addicted mother. I need to do some reading on what the shorter term ramifications are of that. I’m probably most concerned about B, the preschool girl. She seems totally unaffected. I know she’s older than J, but she’s only 4.

I’ve been dealing with my reactions to those two incidents with Dr. D. After the baby girl, I took a week off to get my head back on the right way. Last week and this week, I’ve been on vacation. There were many reasons, one being the new family. Another is physical exhaustion. I’m still dealing with fibro. Two weeks ago we were so short staffed because of Corona. I ended up working 8-6 with a 2 hour break. It just wasn’t sustainable for me. I’m also the acting administrator for 4-6. Another staff member thinks she’s in charge and was being a general pain in the ass. I told my boss that E can be in charge since it seems that’s what she wants. My boss told me that no, you’re in charge and I deliberately chose you. And then there’s all the BS that needs to be done for Step Up to Quality. I was doing a good deal of other teachers’ work.

It’s definitely been a crazy year.

Psychiatry Monday

BTW:  I’m writing these as sort of a record of what’s going on.  It helps me keep track of changes and reactions to meds and therapy.

 

Today was a fairly normal visit with the psychiatrist.  I’m feeling a bit better.  It’s getting there a little at a time.  I’m still hearing voices, but they are less frequent and less intense.  Dr. W isn’t as concerned as she was earlier in the month.

A few changes today.  I’m going down again on citalopram.  In need to get off of it because of interactions with the Lupron.  With that change, Dr. W decided to go up again on the Zoloft.  The only other big change is going up on the Haldol.  11 mg at first and then 12.  I’m hoping that will have to be the last dosage adjustment up.

Out of Left Field

I love ER.  I have since the first day it aired.  Now I found in syndication and it cheers me up; at least for an hour it does.

Tonight was not one of those nights.  The plot and the characters weren’t important.  But seeing them examine a 6 year old to confirm sexual abuse was out of left field.  I guess I should start reading the blurbs that DirecTV has.

It wasn’t the exam part.  I never went through that.  It was the thought of the little girl being violated that got to me.  I got pretty close to that flashback spiral.  It didn’t hit me so hard that I couldn’t control it.  I went out to the kitchen immediately and took my PRN anxiety med.  That helped.  I got out of my room so I didn’t have to deal with the bedroom stuff.  That helped.  I turned to a mystery novel to get my head in another place.  It helped.

I have a feeling that Dr. D would be proud of me.  I did the right things to keep my head in the present.  And that’s been hard for me all along.  I can only take one day at a time.  I made it through 19/20 radiation sessions with that attitude.  I know this is a long trek for me and I will have bad times.  Right now the bad seems to outweigh the good.  But I’ve got friends who support me.  I have a fluffy white kitty on my lap right now and another mutt hanging out under the blankets on my bed.

Baby steps.  Just remember baby steps.

“Our Shower”

Holy shit.

I’ve finally pulled myself together after a good 10 minute panic attack.

Dad loved to fondle me in the shower.  He did call them “our showers”.  Ugh.

Dad was getting ready to take his shower.

He said I’m going to take “Our Shower”.

Not a good afternoon.

Therapy Thursday

What a rough time today.  Going two days in a row is rough.  But I didn’t expect it to be this rough.  I pretty much picked up where I left off.  I know Dr. D is concerned.  It’s hard for me to understand why.  The same goes for Dr. W.  On Dr. D’s urging, I left a message for Dr. W.  The panic attacks.  The flashbacks.  They have gotten worse lately.  I think I didn’t share this with Dr. W for fear of ending up in the hospital.  I bet that isn’t a rational thought.  They don’t throw you butt in the hospital unless you’re a danger to yourself or others.  What I know, however, isn’t working to calm down what I feel.

For the first time in however many years I’ve been going, I admitted to Dr. D about the cutting.  People sometimes get the wrong idea.  For me, it was to externalize the pain I was feeling.  I talked about how long it’s been since I last cut.  I talked about the urges and how they’re getting stronger and stronger.  Dr. D took it in stride.  I had expected some sort of belittling.  I don’t know.  Scolding maybe.  But all she showed was compassion.  She asked the usual questions.  When did I start?  What made me stop?  Did I feel in danger?

Today was another day.  I couldn’t cry.  I thought I was going to.  I pinched my leg to try and keep it under control.  I hate tears.  I hear my mom’s voice.  “If you want to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about!”  It usually ended up with the belt.

She asked about how structure of childhood kept me functioning (although not in those words).  I was trying to respond that it was some sort of normality in life.  All of a sudden I was hit with flashbacks harder than ever.  I’m pretty sure I was having a panic attack too.  I vaguely remember hearing my name.  But I couldn’t snap out of it.  It was like I was in a film on a repetitive loop.  As I calmed down, I could only stare at the fish.  I couldn’t look Dr. D in the eyes.  We talked some about what I went through in those last 5 minutes.  It was all so overwhelming.  I went back to the thought of routine and only could say there was nothing normal about it.  But it was sort of a loose routine.  I went to bed.  He came in.  He molested me.  He left.  I went to sleep.  Every single night.

I tried to hide.  I don’t know why I bothered.  He always got me out.  Sometimes it was with extraordinary anger.  He almost ripped the closet door off once or twice.  I finally gave up on hiding.  There was no point.  There was no stopping the abuse.

All of this came out today.  Dr. D asked if there were any new memories.  Nope.  The same old ones.  The ones that still hurt so much.  I need to let her know I need her to be more aggressive in trying to get me out of that loop.  Like I said, I kind of heard her calling my name.  But it wasn’t enough.  It didn’t break though the images, sounds, feelings or panic.  The one thing she did try to get me to do after I calmed down was to keep my eyes open.  I totally understand that.  In my history of therapy, that was something I definitely learned.  It hard sometimes.  I really want to block out everything.  But by blocking out everything external, I get caught up in my head.

Dr. D asked me to come back on Monday morning so we can keep on top of everything.  What was I going to say?  I suppose I could have said no.  But that didn’t seem wise.  I know I need to keep working, especially through the radiation.  Speaking of which, I’m almost half way done.  Yay for me.  So, I’ll go back on Monday.  If I make it through the weekend that is.  Dr. D gave me her cell phone number so I can always call or shoot her a text if need be.

Precipice

So today’s prompt is “Precipice”.  How fitting.  I seem to be teetering on one myself.  Even with the med changes (and un-changes), I’m still really struggling with depression and anxiety and voices.  I realized how bad things were when Dr. W spent 40 minutes with me rather than the usual 30.  I love going to UH because they book med checks as 30 minutes.  I once say a psychiatrist who a) always ran late, b) tried to hoist me off on his NP when insurance was paying for him and c) was lucky to spend 5 minutes with me.  I have no idea why I stayed with him so long.  Another plus side to UH is that they are on the same electronic medical records system so all my doctors can keep up with my (very) long med list and conditions.

Back to precipice.  I wrote last time that I was hearing voices and it had gotten worse.  I started hearing them again back in February.  I didn’t tell anyone because I was afraid to.  I just kept saying I was getting better as I walked toward the cliff.  Even though I was having suicidal thoughts, I kept covering everything up.  I guess I still am.  I haven’t been totally honest with what the voices are saying.  They’re getting quite nasty and telling me that I should kill myself for various reasons.  I don’t know why I don’t want to tell Dr. W and Dr. D.  I think it might be because I’m in the middle of radiation and I don’t want to be hospitalized right now.  Do I need it?  Maybe.  I’m looking at a long way down off the precipice.

Most of all, I’m scared.  When I was having symptoms like this before, I did end up in the hospital.  Twice.  I don’t know if I can do that again.  The second time was useless.  No med changes.  Not that I wanted them to change meds.  But seeing a psychiatrist more than once in 6 days would have been useful.  No therapy to speak of.  You were basically left to fend for yourself all day.  It didn’t help they didn’t get my med list and I was off things for almost a week.  Although I was a UH hospital, their EMR wasn’t hooked up with the central EMR.  Looking back, I was safe from falling off the precipice, but it didn’t do much to pull me back from it.  I pretty much lied to get out of there.  I though I could make more progress with Dr. D and Dr. W than I could just hanging around all day.

I don’t like this brink of the precipice thing.  The voices keep getting worse despite how much Haldol Dr. W adds.  I was up to 10 mg before, so it’s not surprising the 1/2/4 mg dosage wasn’t working.  I’m up to 6 mg now in a divided dose.  I think once I get the voices under control, I’ll be able to step back from that ledge.

I’m tired too.  The fibro makes me tired.   Fatigue has always been part of my depressive symptoms.  And now I have the fatigue from radiation.  I’m sleeping at least 10 hours at night with a couple hour nap during the day.  I’m asleep more than I’m awake.  I wonder if this is anyway to live.

I’m tired of telling people I’m tired.  They don’t understand.  My family doesn’t understand mental illness.  And even if they did, they wouldn’t care.  That much I’m certain of.  And part of me doesn’t care anymore too.  I’m too tired to care.

Standing on the precipice looking down.  What to do?  What to do?  Closer.  Closer.  Closer.

Mask

I live my life behind a mask. My mask is happy.  My mask is confident.  I’m good at wearing this.  Despite how I feel inside, I don’t reveal my honest feelings and fears.

I don’t really let people see the “true me”.  Hell, sometimes I don’t even know what the “true me” is.  I’ve hidden behind a mask for so long that maybe that is the “true me”.

There’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where a character has a bunch of laws to live by.  Her law number one was “You always have to rely on yourself”.  I totally agree with that.  But my law zero is “Trust no one”.  If you can’t trust, it’s hard to show your “true self”.  It’s hard to take off that mask.

I’m slowly learning to trust Dr. D and Dr. W.  It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me.  Last week, I tried to cancel my appointment with Dr. D and quit therapy all together.  I made a deal to come that one time.  Ordinarily, I would have hidden how bad things were and just tiptoed around the issues.  But I didn’t.  I sat there and talked through the flashbacks.  Making myself that vulnerable was extremely scary.  And although nothing bad happened, I still want to put that mask on.

Maybe this is a turning point for me.  Maybe it’s okay to drop the mask and let safe people see what’s underneath.

Two Views

I have two views about children.  What I think about me as a child, and what I think about all the other children in the world.

When I think of me as a child (looking back on the past), the only thing I see is what a horrible person I was.  I was was clearly at fault for what happened.  I can only blame myself.  It’s full of shouldas.  I should have told someone.  I should have fought back.  I shouldn’t have hid.

When I think about other children, particularly ones in situations like my own, I see nothing but innocence.  How could you blame them?  It’s like their lives are out of control and they’re doing the best they can.

I have a hard time reconciling these views.  On the surface, it seems so easy.  But when I try to tackle it, all those negative thoughts come racing back.