I Really can turn it around

I did it.  I want to shout off the mountain top, “I FREAKIN’ DID IT!!!!”

I will try to make a long story short.

An unexpected not so good thing happened today.  This thing led to what I would describe as an even worse thing, but not devastatingly bad.  Manageable bad.  My hands shook while attempting to use the rarely used cell phone,

First call was AAA.  I just used these guys last Saturday so I am a pro with them.  Despite quivering fingers, I did well with their phone system.  The next call was to my therapists office.  Easy one. Well it became easy after the first number I dialed was a wrong number. Just say hello and ask for his extension here.  No need to deal with a computer.  You know, low tech, they have people.  People you can actually talk to and get to know. 

In my mind’s eye my 1st message to Dennis was panicked.  I could not remember my cell # , and rambled on about how “with my old therapist I had not missed an appointment and here it is Day 3 with you and I cancel…. WTF”

I stopped.

I put my phone down

I took a big sip of water.

I took a deep breath.

I called my therapists office back and left my cell phone number with them.  I then took another good deep long full breath and drank some more water.  The phone rang and it was Dennis.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned him yet.  He has the best voice. I thought my Doctor had a good voice when it came to helping people calm down, but Dennis’s is even better.  Hearing his voice and easily rescheduling my appointment continued the calmness I had started to feel.

Instead of feeding the all too well-known anxiety and anger, I took a few more breathes.  I realized this was the perfect opportunity to take a suggestion of my new therapist.  I did something Dennis mentioned.  Listen to how your body feels.  Feel the feelings.  It doesn’t just happen right away, but eventually I am able to let these feelings go.  The first time I tried it with Roy, I thought “yeah, right, just let it go, so simple yet so wicked hard”  But I have been practicing this with less important life crap.  When I really needed it to, It worked.  Surprised even me.

I had the calm time I needed to realize, “there is not a darn thing I can do to fix this situation.  I will miss my appointment no matter what I do.  It is so out of my control.  I can either focus on the bad of the situation or try to find some good.  I thought it would be fun to try to find some good in this life crap.  So I chose that.

I spent some of my time chatting with the Veterinary Tech I had just spoken to.  I laid down on the green grass and felt the warm breeze.  I drank some water.  I thought, “I should come back and steal some of their lilacs.”  Eventually I met D.J. and Rich.  Turns out Rich knows my husband, knew exactly who I was talking about when I mentioned  ‘the beagles guy’, and did everything in his power to take care of me.  And take care of me he did.  My car will be ready today by 5.

I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason.  Part of the fun is figuring out why things happen?  It’s not often that I am able to figure it out, but when I do, it can make me smile.

Maybe my pleasant attitude and conversation turned D.J.’s day around. Maybe my expression of appreciation to Rich, on GM’s Appreciation Day I might add, made him rethink quitting his job, leaving his wife, and moving to Alaska.  Maybe someone who was passing by, saw me lying in grass, and it made them think “yes, I need to relax too.”

I forgot the point of why I started writing.  I will end with, despite having a lifetime of mental health issues, I am okay today.  I am not great. I am not perfect. It can be a struggle, but I can be okay.

I just realized my goal today was to answer this question, “If there was one thing you could tell people about your experience with mental illness, either in a family member, friend, or yourself, what would it be?”  Thank you Shirley’s Heaven.

Every day I get a reminder to feel gratitude.  Today I am grateful that I took the extra time to make myself look presentable.  I was expecting a simple trip to therapy, not running into the whole Chevy dealership.

I am going to go watch my humming birds.

he attacked my husband’s bright yellow and red shirt, so we gave him 2 brand new feeders. now we have 2 birds and boy do they fight.

 

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99 followers on the wall….

You are following this blog, along with 99 other amazing people.

Cool 1 more human and I hit a true 100.  Who’daThunkIt ?  I was happy with my husband and friends reading this.

Much has changed since I started this blog in February 2015.  It says my first post was in January, but that is a lie. That was my last post for writing 101. It is kind of long, but that was part of the assignment. For some reason it got posted for January instead of May. It didn’t take me too long to find it as I am a proud graduate of Blogging 101 and have learned so much about blogs.

The winter was horrible.  I will write about how horrible it was soon.  I spent much of the winter expecting my very old beagle to cross.  Once spring truly arrived, he stopped acting like such an old man.  He still sleeps a lot, but is walking better and his cough has subsided.  I even caught him playing with a tennis ball.

It’s been roughly 4 months since I really started writing.  I had not planned on writing this much when I started.  I also have been writing about things I did not expect to be writing about.  I blame blogging 101 and writing 101 for this.  I highly recommend both these classes and look forward to my next one.  I am totally serious when I say I learned a lot about blogging and writing.  I’ve met some incredible people and been exposed to some fabulous writing as well.

On the home front, things have not changed too much.  I do have a new TV and camera.  Speaking of cameras, I am slowly trying out Photo Challenges.  Its rare that I don’t have something to say. If it does happen, I have these challenges to keep my blog busy and fun. It also opens up a whole new bunch of folk to meet.  Plus I love taking pictures.

One major change I should make note of.  I am better at trusting my gut when making tough decisions.  The only way I have gotten better at this is by practice.  Lots and lots of practice.  I am learning to listen to me.

So here’s to 99 WordPress followers !!!!  Thank you for hitting that button.

Day 20 – I treasure Awareness, and Family, and dogs, and the ability to pee by myself, etc.

I might or might not know what happened.confused-on-the-computer

I may have accidently hit publish when I 1st started writing this story way back when. That may explain why it says it was published on January 20th, when I published today. It became my First post???? Not my last of writing 101.

With a lot of work I was able to get it to fit with the last assignment.  All I know is that I finished it today. and published it today.

life as seen by me

Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure Today’s Prompt: Tell us the story of your most-prized possession. Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative. Good luck to all who read the whole thing and I promise never to write this much again!!!! 4189 words

It all started innocently enough.  I first noticed I couldn’t feel my fingers. As things progressed and I told my story over and over again I realized it actually started weeks before.

I couldn’t feel the cigarette smoke go into my lungs.  I remember telling Jax, “I can’t suck. I suck at sucking.”  I was also eating a lot of Tootsie rolls.  Every time I generated some Tootsie roll flavored saliva I would cough, sputter, choke almost.  I blamed these…

View original post 3,854 more words

who or what will inspire me next?

I was taking a day off from writing.  I was gonna do nothing, but maybe read a bit.  Yah Right.  I read a friend’s blog post.  I left a reply to that friend.  This is my reply.

Sorry I do not have any questions about the hospital, but do need to know more about the chair room.  I have never heard of such a thing(It’s been 2 years since I was last in hospital).

Who pays for it? If the insurance pays, how is it billed to them? Who originally thought this “room” was a good idea? Is it just the hospital you went to that has it or are there many similar ones across the country? Could you have left if you chose to? I’m sure if I thought longer I could come up with many more questions, but right now I just have 1 left. Well It is more of a statement.

There is something seriously wrong with the mental health system in this country if you spent 2 days in a chair because there was no bed available to you.  I’m not saying they need more beds, I am saying they need to figure out a way to need less beds. Obviously something is not working somewhere. And don’t look to other countries for answers.  Their systems are different but just as messed up. I think they need to listen to us.  The ones who need the beds.

I was taking a day off from writing and look at me go. Thank you Lily. I just might have to go back to my blog and vent about this.  Oh look I already did vent 😀

I hope you have as good a day as you are capable of having.

I kind of have the feeling this is not going to be the end of me talking about “the chair room” and just think I wanted to get drunk and forget today was even happening.

Take that depressive brain!!!!  I beat you today!!!!

Reach for the Mother Fin' sky

Reach for the Mother F in sky !!!!

 

word on page 29

Day Fourteen: To Whom It May Concern

Today’s Prompt: Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration Today’s twist: write the post in the form of a letter.

There are just so many different uses for the word.  It has had quite a history and I am sure a very fine future.  It has been used as titles of movies, a magazine, and music albums.  There is a whole series of books and many working in the crash test field.  The word that jumped out of me on page 29 was dummy.  I chuckled as I realized I could definitely work with that.  The definitions I am going to focus on is a stupid person; idiot; jackass; moron; and to keep silent; refuse to answer; as in ‘dummy up’.wpid-images-7-jpg

Hey dumbass,

haha I laugh at you today.  Did you really think you could get rid of me forever.  You know I may leave temporarily but I never go far.  You are a true idiot if you think that just because I have been gone so long this time that you start to think I could never return. I am here to remind you of me.  Remind you of what I can do.

What a moron you can be sometimes.  You were getting too smaht there for a while.  I had to change things up a bit. I came at you working with agitation and irritability this time. Wasn’t I the smaht one? Remember, I always return. I may look different sometimes, but I guarantee it is always me. 

I may have stayed away too long this time though. You had time to work on other things. Get better in other ways. Find more support. I am very powerful and will always be able to make you do what I want. I am sneaky and unrelenting.

Have as much fun as you can for now.  Because I am coming back.  I am coming back stronger than ever.

– See you soon – Your depressive brain

Hey Jack ass,

Guess what. The jokes on you. I see you coming.  Too much time has passed.  I had time to do things. Time to change things. The biggest thing I have done was become more aware.  So aware that I already see you messing around with my sleep.  You are trying to fool me by doing it slowly, but I am not fooled.  I can see it happening.  So guess what?  I did not dummy up this time.  When I saw you playing with my sleep this month, I got voice to talk about it.  I and other folk are aware of what you are trying to do. They all know.  They are all watching.  We have ways to make you lose control of sleep. When we sleep, you lose your power.  We are not letting you get so out of hand that you get strong this time.  We will stop you and stop you now. 

We are no longer the dummy you thought you had to work with.  I played it smaht. I learned new skills, tried new things, became more courageous, and voice worked with mouth to open up. We have the power to kick your dumbass.

Bring it on Depressive brain this is the new and improved, strong, mighty, healthy brain you are messing with this time.  And, I have control of voice. Boy, she has loved talking.  I almost forgot, we found hope too.  We found her and we are not letting go of her this time.

real world conversations????

Today’s Prompt: Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation. Today’s twist: include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.

This oughta be a trip and a half. When was the last time you over heard a real life conversation? You rarely leave your house and the beagle stopped talking months ago. Those beagle conversations were pretty interesting while they lasted. Must be the medication. Or maybe the beagle is tired. Hmmmm, Tired? What a fabulous word that is.

Nobody likes me everybody hates me I think I’ll eat some worms.

I don’t think they realize how they sound. If they could hear themselves talk, would they continue with their conversation? I think not. But they can’t hear themselves talk so they continue. On and On. Go eat some worms I say. Or think. I can’t say that as that would be politically incorrect. I am so tired of hearing those words. Politically Incorrect? What exactly does that mean? Politically Incorrect by whose standards?

The same thing every day. Day, after day, after day. You’d think they would bore not just me, but themselves as well. You’d think they would come up with something new by now. You’d think the whole world had OCD the way they repeat themselves day after day after day.

You use to be like them. You don’t even know how much you use to be like them. You just did not have anyone available to listen to you. You did not have the whole world to listen to you. Well, maybe not the whole world, but a big chunk of it anyway. The difference is the Internet. Today they have the Internet. You didn’t have the Internet when you were stuck like they are. You only had your small teeny weenie world of people to torment. Today they have the cosmos, should the cosmos choose to listen.

Yesterday was a bit different. It was Michael. He talked to you. Michael doesn’t talk much. Well, he doesn’t talk about himself much. He is so unlike others you have met. He is funny as hell, but he hurts. You know he hurts. He just doesn’t piss and moan about it all the time. When he talks, you really need to listen.

And listen you did. You listened to his pain, his torment, his hell. You may not have experience with his particular illness, but you are familiar with what it is telling him, what it is making him feel, what it is making him think. You have been there. You have heard it, felt it, thought it.  You know what he is talking about. You have a decision to make. You can cajole him and say crap like, “It’ll get better.” “You will not feel like this forever.” “Your feelings will change.”  That is what they would have told you.

That is not what you needed to hear. That is not what helped you. That is not what made you feel better. Fine then, try this, “You say you are tired of acting like everything is alright, you are tired of pretending, you are tired of hiding. You are tired. No problem. STOP!  Stop acting as if everything is okay. Stop pretending. Stop hiding.  JUST FRIGGIN’ STOP!  Yes, you are tired. This illness can be infuriating. It can be exhausting. I understand that. If you are that tired then stop. STOP!!!! JUST STOP!!!! Tell someone in your real life exactly how you feel, exactly what you are thinking, exactly what is going on. No one can help you if they do not know the truth. If they do not know what is really happening. If they do not know what you are really thinking. If they do not know what you want to do.

You need to rest. You need a break. You need to get It to stop. You have a good life. People are jealous when they look at your life. You have a beautiful wife, a nice house, an awesome car, and a great pack of dogs. They do not know about your illness. They do not know what it tells you.  They do not know how it makes you feel. They do not know the battle you fight every day. EVERY DAY. You have had good times. You have had times where the illness was not in charge. You have been happy. You can be happy again.

Haha I just put 3 ice cubes in my coffee. 3, not 4. Take that mental illness. I will beat you. But I can’t beat you if I don’t know about you. I can’t beat you if others do not know about you. I can’t beat you alone. I need help.  I need people. No one can help me beat you if they don’t know anything is wrong.

You can be happy again. I know, that is so not what you want to hear. There is really nothing you want to hear. You’ve heard it all before. The illness is so strong in you right now. It is so loud. It is almost completely in control. But that is almost. ALMOST. Not totally and completely, ALMOST. It is never really over until you take that last breath. Even then it may not be over. They can always bring you back. They can always stick a tube down your throat. Force air into your lungs. Do you really want to go through that again? Do you really want to put your wife through that pain again? You were so close last time. So close, yet it did not work. It should have worked. Yet it did not. Have you ever wondered why?

You say you are ready. You say it is time. You say you are done. You don’t come right out and say it, but we all know what you mean. Do you say this or does the illness say this? Who is really talking? You? Or the illness?

Maybe they are not ready for you. Maybe it is not time? Maybe you are not done? Maybe you need to try again?

Maybe a soul that hasn’t even been born yet needs you. Maybe you need to go through what you are going through to help that soul go through what they are going to have to go through. Maybe that soul will change the world. Maybe that soul will be unable to change the world unless you are there to help them do it. Maybe you need to rest. Maybe you need a nap. A regular nap. Not a forever nap. Maybe you need a person who is destined to come into your life tomorrow. Until then, nap.  You will be less tired if you nap.

Domesticated Momster

  

 

He’s been suggesting it for over a year

Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else. Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue.stressrelief

We were raised different therefore are different.  We have had different life experiences yet we feel so much of the same things.  We both feel things intensely. We think different. We deal with things differently.  Maybe this will make more sense when I am done writing and you are done reading what I wrote.

“Hey Ma, how are ya doing today?”

“I’m okay. Kind of tired and in a bit of pain, but okay for the most part.”

“That’s good to hear I guess.” I said as I glanced around her small dark apartment. “You need to turn some lights on.  It is dark and depressing in here.”

“It doesn’t seem that dark to me.” she quietly replied.

“Well I guess, I did just come in from the bright sun, maybe that is it? What’s this stuff?” I asked as I grabbed the bottle from her table.”Stress relief?”

“I just ordered that. I had to renew my membership, but it was worth it.”

“Do they work?”

“I take them when I know I am going to feel anxious. If I have to do something that makes me nervous, I take some. They seem to make a difference. I don’t feel nervous”

“How many do you have to take?”

“The label says four at a time, but I take three.”

“Didn’t your doctor give you Ativan like mine did?”.

“Yes, I tried them. I was afraid to take them and they didn’t really help.  I just felt nervous and tired, and I couldn’t drive.”

“My doctor finally just convinced me to take 2 a day. He’s been suggesting it for over a year. You are right though. If I take more than 1, I cannot drive. I have proven that to myself more than once.”

“This is from the same company we used years ago. I found them online.”

“I remember taking herbs from them before. I was never completely convinced they helped, but I did go without real medication for a long time.”

“They aren’t cheap, but are worth the money.”

“I take two different meds to help with my anxiety.  One of which can be wicked addictive. I think they cost me $1.20 for the copays.”

“That is a lot cheaper, but I like my herbs.  You know I like my herbs.”

“Yea, I remember when you first went to the kinesiology guy.  He so got you so hooked on his herbs and supplements.”

“Yes, but he got me hooked on herbs that help.  I feel so much better than when I tried medication. Plus, they weren’t ‘his’ herbs. he was just a distributor.”

“That is wicked cool that you found something that helps. I was hoping you’d get help with the nervousness.”

“You should take a bottle with you. You could try it?”

“Do you have more?” I asked, knowing she probably had ten.

“I think I bought like 6 bottles.”

“Well then, I guess if I take half a bottle, you won’t risk running out.”

“No, I have plenty. and Ya never know they may help you too.”ativanbenzos

I took my Mom’s stress herbs the next day.  I felt just as calm if not calmer than when I took Ativan. If I had money like I use to, I would definitely go the herbal route again.  Maybe someday herbal supplements will be covered by health insurance just like the highly addictive medication I take. Herbal crap can have the same if not better results.

Get Inspired By the Neighbors

Today’s assignment: write a post that builds on one of the comments you left yesterday. Don’t forget to link to the other blog!

I am finding much humor as I learn.  I am finding this humor in things I read and in the knowledge that I am a lot dumber than I ever imagined. Yesterdays assignment was to leave comments on 4 blogs I have never left comments on before.  I thought, “How easy is this going to be?” Haha, Not so easy. I did not remember where I left my comments and therefore had to begin today with searching for them. I did manage to find 3 out of the 4 comments.

Yesterday, I first had to find the blogs I wanted to comment on.  I thought this would be the simple part as I have a lot to say about a lot of things.  I probably read half a dozen blogs before I found one I wanted to comment on.  I can’t just comment.  No! that would be too painless.  I have to really relate to what I have read.  My comment needs to mean something to me.  The blog needs to “touch” me in some way.

I started with looking up blogs that pertained to anxiety.  I couldn’t really find anything that I wanted to comment on, so I moved onto depression.  Nothing really clicked with me so I went to OCD.  Wham!!!! I found so many blogs I wanted to comment on.  I should have started with OCD because when I first read the assignment I thought “4, comment 4 times?  I can do this as 4 is my magical number.”

This is the comment I left that I chose to expand on, and where I left it. You mean the DSM was written about me  My assignment today (blogging101) was to leave comments on 4 blogs I have never commented on before. You are #2. I picked you because much of what I have read here I can relate to. The only major difference so far is our opinion on the colors of your gym. Purple and yellow are my favorite. We can learn from our differences and I am all about learning. I will definitely be back to read more of what you have to say.

When I think of OCD, I do not think of myself and my thoughts and behaviors.  I think of Monk and his life altering obsessions, compulsions, and phobias.monk_wallpaper_1280x1024_6  My compulsions and obsessions are so unlike Monk.  OCD is just part of who I am.  Something I have been learning to live with my whole life. I always knew something wasn’t quite right.  I have spent forever hiding my compulsions and adapting to my thoughts and behaviors.  Yesterday after reading many blogs about others OCD, I realized how very unique OCD can be to each person.  The one thing I did identify with was public bathrooms.  I despise public bathrooms.  I don’t have a germ phobia like so many others, I just truly hate public bathrooms. It is the touching.  I hate touching things that are not my own.  I must say the Walmart near me is pretty awesome.  I had to use their bathroom in an emergency once.  I was greatly impressed.  I did not have to touch a single thing in that bathroom.  Well I did have to touch the toilet paper but in my mind, that was okay.  It would be flushed to never never land.  Never to be seen again.  The toilet flushed on its own, the water at the sink turned on when I put my hands under the faucet, it shut off when I was done, and I could easily dry my hands.   I touched nothing.  Okay, discussing my bathroom habits is not where I expected this post to go.  But Walmart’s bathroom is my OCD heaven.  If a bathroom could be described as heavenly Walmart’s would be it.

I think the point I was trying to make is that everyone’s obsessions and compulsions can be exclusive to them.  I loved watching Monk.  He had it bad. Very bad.  Watching him helped me feel better about my own obsessions and compulsions.  Although mine did greatly interfere with my life, for the most part I was able to manage it.  I grew up with it.  It was “normal” to me.  I don’t even like the idea of calling it a disorder.  OCD-like thoughts and behaviors works much better for me.  There have been times in my life where these thoughts and behaviors have been out of control.  A few years ago I had had absolutely enough. I was already in treatment for depression, but felt I needed more.  I knew depression was not my only issue. If I truly wanted to be okay, I would have to address this OCD-like crap as well. l found that the more the depression lifted, the more anxious and obsessive I became. I consulted a psychiatrist to see if he could offer any help.  I went well prepared.  I brought my therapist with me and I had my thoughts, behaviors, and compulsions written out so I would be unable to forget a thing.  I ended up with medication and a behavior modification plan.OCD

I am always learning new things about my obsessive and compulsive thoughts and behaviors.  I swear the less depressed I become the more I am able to see me.  Recently, my psychiatrist decreased my meds that may or may not have been helping with the OCD.   I quickly learned how important the meds really were to me. I originally thought that they helped me better manage the thoughts and behaviors.  Little did I know but they actually lessened the thoughts and therefore the behaviors abated.  I found this out after the decrease in meds.  I went batshitcrazy.  I was completely out of my mind.  I had chronic, obsessive, meddlesome, sometimes disturbing thoughts at all times.  It was most bothersome while in the car. I did have tools to help me combat these thoughts, but none that I could use while driving.  Being the good mental patient I so strive to be, I actually developed a tool that works in the car.  A favorite Journey song came on the radio.  Although it was cold and snowy, I opened my sunroof, cranked the radio up real loud, and was able to distract myself from the disturbing, intrusive thoughts. They turned into less disturbing, less intrusive, more joyful thoughts.

I have spent much of my life controlled by OCD.  It constantly interfered with my life.  Well today Life interfered with IT.  I learned that writing about OCD can trigger OCD in me. I had stuff to do today. Stuff that I refused to allow OCD from affecting.  So I walked away from writing this post.  I got in my SUV, opened the sunroof, and cranked the radio.  It did not distract me as well as it has in the past as I was missing the snow and the cold, but it helped enough that I was able to get my life stuff done.  I was then able to return to this post and obsess over it some more. I mean finish it.  ocd-cycle

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Day 20 – I treasure Awareness, and Family, and dogs, and the ability to pee by myself, etc.

Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure Today’s Prompt: Tell us the story of your most-prized possession. Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.

Good luck to all who read the whole thing and I promise never to write this much again!!!! 4189 words

It all started innocently enough.  I first noticed I couldn’t feel my fingers. As things progressed and I told my story over and over again I realized it actually started weeks before.

I couldn’t feel the cigarette smoke go into my lungs.  I remember telling Jax, “I can’t suck. I suck at sucking.”  I was also eating a lot of Tootsie rolls.  Every time I generated some Tootsie roll flavored saliva I would cough, sputter, choke almost.  I blamed these things on a sore throat and slight fever.  Little did I know that these simple, little things would turn into what it did.  I went from dead fingers and a throat I couldn’t control to not being able to hear what I say and my brain not communicating properly with my body.

My brain doesn’t always register what my fingers type, but knows if it’s right or not.  Sometimes I care sometimes I don’t.

At Christmas dinner I noticed one thing.  I couldn’t feel myself swallow.  I was still not concerned.  I did not think anything of it. I just thought it was some weird freaky strange thing. Nothing to worry about, It would go away. I slept well that night.  The next day was different.  I woke with no complaints.  I still couldn’t feel my fingers, and was still not concerned.  I thought to myself, “I will mention it to my doctor when I see her next week.”

Within a few hours I couldn’t open the sliding glass door to let the beagle in.  BUT, I could open the refrigerator to get a bottle of water.  I started thinking that maybe something was wrong.  If I can’t open the door for my dog or light my own cigarette, there might be a problem.  Jax and I both thought it would be best if I called the doctor. Of course this was the day after Christmas and the office was closed.  The doctor covering  was actually closer to my house and they wanted to see me at 2:30.  This is when I began my first lesson of this whole experience.  2:30 was a long way off, I would learn how to wait.

At 2 PM I could put on my sweatshirt.  1 hour later I could not take it off.

All I thought about was “it is the day after Christmas, in New England and I am only wearing a sweatshirt. The sun is shining bright and the temp is reasonably warm.  The fact that my arms don’t move doesn’t really bother me.”

We didn’t stay at the doctors long, they wanted us to go straight to the ER.  I must briefly mention this doctor’s office.  For a place I had never been before I felt very comfortable here.  There was a Dustin Pedroia “fat head” on the wall and I knew the medical assistant.  I knew I had to be a bit nervous as I repeated over and over again, “it should be Kevin Millar on the wall not Dustin. Kevin Millar, not Dustin. It should be Millar not Pedroia.”  The medical assistant talked to me. She kept me calm. This was the first incidence of thoughts coming into my head and straight out my mouth.  The doctor I saw a week later described it as me “losing my filter”. I basically spoke without thinking.

When leaving the doctors, I noticed I was walking very slowly. Whatever was going on was progressing and I was starting to get a tad concerned.

At the ER 5 minutes later, walking was very hard. Jax had to fill out the paperwork as I could no longer write.  Very little waiting here. They got me right in.  I was amazed at how quickly they started to care for me.  I have never seen a small town ER come alive as quickly as this one did. One nurse was drawing blood as someone else started an EKG.  I was getting nervous and asked for Jax.  It took 2 hours for him to find me. They never went and got him. OH well, except for this, they were taking very good care of me. Plus their focus was on me, not on finding him.

While waiting (there’s that word again), I sensed I had to pee. I couldn’t feel it, but on some level, in my head I knew I had to go.  I didn’t think walking was an option at this point. Bring on the bed pan!!!!  After quite a while of trying to relax parts of my body I could not feel, I only managed 3 drops.  Plus, peeing while lying down is not that easy when you are in control. Forget about it when you have lost that control.

Later without thinking, I made a slow trek to the bathroom.  I got part of the way there when it was suggested I ride the rest of the way.

You have no idea how proud I was when I peed.  I announced it to the whole ER.  Remember “no filter”.  It was good that I peed as they wanted a sample.  They also did a cat scan which showed nothing.  At this point I could lift my arm to scratch my head, but couldn’t put my arm back down.  The doctor did some neurological tests like follow my finger, now squeeze it.  I don’t know if I passed.  This ER knew they couldn’t help me so it was off to the big city hospital. By way of ambulance.

On the way to the big city, I lost the ability to talk.

What a trip this big city ER was.  A nurse said it was a calm night, but boy was it ever busy.  There were people everywhere.  Voices on top of voices on top of more voices.  Patients never stopped coming in the doors.  I liked my ‘room’. I could see it all from my vantage point. My ‘room’ was the hallway.  Two people occupied the stretcher down the hall a bit.  I don’t think this was another space issue, I think it was love.

I still couldn’t talk and was very scared. I never realized how frustrating it could be to not be able to talk. Until it was taken away from me,  My name tag did not have my name on it.  I was incapable of telling anyone.  Finally by way of frantic hand signals, nods, and shakes of my head, a nurse finally understood what I was trying to say.  They gave me the right name.

Jax arrived quicker than expected.  I saw him from a distance and was able to wave.  Couldn’t do that at the other ER. When he got here, I had already seen one doctor. It was very frustrating trying to tell this Doc. all that had been happening.   All I could get out  was “Call the other hospital.” This Doc. knew everything any way.  He just wanted me to say it all again.  Wicked not funny. I must say, “Jax, not the Doctor, is a very smart man.”

Jax noticed almost immediately that if I didn’t try hard or think too much, it was easier to spit words out.

The neurologist was next.  He was difficult to understand as he was definitely not from this country.  I pointed to my ear every time I couldn’t understand him.  Jax was right, if I didn’t try, it was easier to do things.  We told the neurologist this.  With much effort and little thought, I was able to add, “my sense of humor is one of the best and I am doing everything I can to keep it.”  For some reason I felt this was more important than whether I could squeeze his finger or not.  I have never spent more time with one Doctor.  His questions and tests lasted forever.

At one point I don’t think this Doctor appreciated my humor.  He wanted me to remember three things.  They were auto, bowl, and New York City.  Being a diehard Red Sox fan, my brain would not allow me to say New York City.  It kept saying “Yankees suck”.  He laughed the first time this happened, but not all the other times.  I was trying so hard to be good, it just wasn’t happening. I was freakin’ out inside and laughter helped.  Finally after doing more and more tests, he left my hallway.

After a short bit the original ER Doc came back.  He had good news.

“There is nothing wrong with you.  You passed all the tests we have and we couldn’t find anything wrong.  You’ve seen the best neurologist. The best Doctors.  Had every test.  We put our heads together and came up with conversion disorder.”  He explained a bit of what this was and continued, “You can go home. See your psychiatrist as soon as possible.  Here are some names, numbers, and instructions for weakness of unknown origin, depression, and suicidal thoughts. There is nothing we can do for you. You can talk to a Psychiatrist here before you go if you’d like.”

This was all a tad shocking.  As far as I knew I still could not walk.

How was I supposed to function without the ability to move?

I had a feeling he was going to come up with a psychological reason for this crap.

I am having trouble believing my brain is capable of this.

After a short bit they sent a Neurological Psychiatrist dude down to talk with me.  I think I wanted him there to convince me that yes, my brain was capable of completely shutting down my body in this way.  This Doc made sure I was ‘not at risk of harm to self’ and left.

Impossible earlier, I again had to sign some papers.

With Jax’s encouragement I was able to write my initials. It took a long time, but I did it. I figured if the doctors were right, and there was nothing physically wrong, I could sign my name.  I just didn’t know I could do it.  I had already walked to the bathroom with help. I was so proud that I was able to pull my pants up by myself.  I didn’t think about it, I just did it.  Still “no filter” as I announced this small feat to the whole ER.  The nurse who discharged me rolled me to the door, said Good Luck, and left me.  Eventually Jax found me.

When we arrived home, I felt gratitude that there was no snow on the ground as my feet were covered in just hospital socks.  I would not have enjoyed walking in snow.  It was just too hard to think about putting my shoes back on.  Without thinking too hard, I struggled up the few steps to my back door.  I kept telling myself that there was nothing wrong and I could do it.  I trusted that I could do it.  Funny, this was how I got through an anxiety provoking situation a few weeks prior.  I just kept telling myself that I could do it and there was nothing wrong.  Hmmmmmmmm, The power of the mind comes up again.  There wasn’t much to do once we got home.  Jax helped me smoke a butt, (which is something I really, truly wanted). And I went to bed.  Didn’t even waste time peeing.  Couldn’t be bothered.

The next day was interesting.  I woke up before Jax and went straight to the bathroom.  I didn’t think about it, I just did it.  I was so proud to tell Jax what I had accomplished all by myself.  Maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad after all.  The big city Docs recommended I see a psychiatrist for follow-up.  Luckily I already had an appointment scheduled.  I have a history of depression, OCD, and anxiety. I am being treated for all and am or thought I was feeling better.

On Saturday I was able to do a few more things….  stand up, walk to the door, smoke (with help), and pee.  Getting TP was very hard, but someone how I managed.  I am also noticing that I can do stuff, I just don’t know I’m doing them. I am not sure how to better explain it.  I basically just went on with my day, did what I could, trusted that I was doing what I thought I was doing, and went to bed.

My constant thoughts were “I can’t handle this waiting thing anymore. I am getting too much practice with waiting. I should be better at it by now. I can’t wait to see my shrink. I just want this crap gone and I want it gone NOW!”.

Sunday morning was the best.  When I awoke, I immediately announced to Jax that I was back.  I had walked to the door without a problem and may have even opened it. A few minutes later, after fully waking up, I noticed that I still couldn’t feel my fingers. I didn’t care that much, I HAD HOPE.  Hope is pretty powerful.  Just like the brain.  My symptoms slowly returned throughout the day.  I was having trouble turning on the bathroom light and getting TP was still a tough chore to tackle.  Jax suggested we take a ride.  We ended up going to NH.  I could walk slowly and get into a car.  Dealing with the door handle and putting on a seatbelt was not happening.

It is these simple, little things that I am grateful I am able to do today.

Monday was Monday.  I couldn’t do much.  Jax was very helpful, yet I sensed he was tiring of it all.  I know I was.  Jax kept me fed.  He did a fine job with this.  Eating was still very hard, but I managed.  I could talk, but couldn’t hear myself talk.  I was constantly asking Jax, “Did I say that out loud? Did you hear me? Did I say that?”

Tuesday was Mom’s day.  Jax was getting a break from me and got to go to Work.  Technically, there was nothing wrong so I couldn’t ask him to take another day off from that joyous place.  He really does love it there.  I don’t blame him, It is a fun place. I had already spoken with my mom and explained what was happening.  I assured her that I was okay, I just needed some help.  Jax had left the slider unlocked and I was able to open it all by myself.  This was tremendous progress.  Mom’s job for the day was to get me to the doctors.  This is the Doc who has the dog.  I think it is way cool that my doctor has a dog with him.  How can I not trust the man?  We got to the doctors early so I got to experience waiting again. I didn’t care anymore, I was getting real good at it.  I couldn’t talk to the receptionist, so Mom helped me.  Jax had written down most of what had been happening just in case I lost my voice again.  I’m glad we thought to do that. It was less stressful that way.

I ran into my doctor in the hallway.  He apologized for being a few minutes late and would be right with me. I tried to respond, but again could not talk.  I handed him the paper Jax had written out.  I tried communicating that I could not talk, but couldn’t get my point across.  I figured if anyone could relate to my struggles, it would be him.  He is deaf and uses an interpreter.  He also uses a very cool dog for help.  That dog makes everything okay at our appointments.  I once told my doc that I didn’t come there to see him, I only came to see his dog.

Humor is so important in my life.

This Doc asked a lot of questions.  Sometimes I could answer, sometimes I struggled with answers, sometimes I could not answer.  He checked out my body, looking for any physical reason for what was happening.  He did notice Parkinson like symptoms.  He said I was shaking a bit.  I couldn’t speak so telling him that I shook all the time was not possible.  I couldn’t get it out.  I like a doctor who knows and admits when he doesn’t have the answer.  Makes them more human like.   He needed some time to look some stuff up.

He asked his dog to sit with me.  I loved this. I love dogs.  At one point the dog put his head on my foot.  Things were still weird for me and I wasn’t sure if this was actually happening.  After asking the interpreter “Did I say that?” numerous times, I asked if the dog did in fact have his head on my foot.  He did.  This was important because of what happened later.  I told her I tried using the few signs I knew in the ER when my voice failed me.  No one understood what I was doing so it didn’t make a difference.

Communication has become very important to me.

When my doctor was done with his research, he gave me his diagnosis.  He decided that a medication I take for OCD was reacting with one I take for heart burn.  It didn’t matter that his diagnosis was different from the doctors at the hospital.  I was willing to do whatever I had to do to feel better.  If that meant decreasing a medication and a recurrence of OCD, I would deal with that.  Obsessing over some numbers and recurring intrusive thoughts was nothing compared to not being able to wipe my own bum.

Wednesday was Mom’s Day again.  I needed a ride to see Joan.  Joan is my therapist.  I had called her earlier in the week and left her a message.  “Look up conversion disorder and become an expert by Wednesday. Hope you have a nice day.”  I figured if the doctors couldn’t fix me maybe she could. I had never heard of conversion disorder before so I figured I’d give her the heads up just in case it was new to her as well.  When I first saw her I asked if she had read my file from the day before.  She had not.  It would have been good if she had as I really didn’t want to have to repeat myself again.  I wasn’t even sure I could.

Anyway when I first got in her office she told me she had looked up conversion disorder.  The site she read stated that it was caused by trauma.  I was told it was caused by severe anxiety.  I have no trauma so I am going with anxiety as the cause. Looking back, I realized a nurse at the original ER had asked me if I thought this could be anxiety. I thought about how the anxiety I had been experiencing had been gone for over a week. I said, “No. It is not anxiety.”

I always need to sign a form when I get to therapy.  I took one look at it and told Joan I was having trouble doing stuff like writing, but I would do my best.  It took me 20 minutes, but I did it.  This is important.  Even a little progress was very important to me. I cannot expect perfection.  Every little step I took was important.  I did my best to tell Joan what was going on.  It was a struggle, but with a lot of patience on her part, I got it all out. I was talking better than the day before.  Still not great, but better.  Progress.

Thursday was New Year’s Day.  Jax worked in the morning.  Mom and I made tentative plans for lunch, but I wasn’t up for it.  I spent the day doing the best I could.  I still wasn’t sure when I talked.  I couldn’t quite hear myself speak.  Simple tasks were getting easier.  I still had trouble believing I was doing what I thought I was doing, but I was doing it.  My body and brain seemed disconnected somehow.  I take supplements.  I could open the bottle and pour the pills, but needed Jax to tell me how many I had in my hand.  Eating was hard, but I did it.  I still couldn’t feel my throat.  I quickly learned to chew very well.  I couldn’t feel myself chew and was afraid I would choke. Today, even though all symptoms have subsided, I still find myself concentrating on chewing.

I never really thought about chewing before, now I do.

Friday I became more confidant.  I had spent plenty of days asking for reassurance that I was actually doing what I thought I was doing.  Today was going to be my day of just doing.  I felt good.  I felt like I could get things done.  It had been over 3 weeks since symptoms began.  Exactly one week since I became concerned that something was wrong.  I was given two diagnoses.  Conversion disorder and medication interaction.  I did not know who was right.  I did not care.  I was getting better.  I would listen to all the doctors and do what they all said.

I continued to feel better. Each day I was able to do a bit more.  I shuddered to think it might happen again.  If it was the medication, problem solved.  If it was anxiety, I could work on that.  Anxiety can be tricky.  Ever since my depression got better, I noticed an increase in anxiety.  Almost like I woke up and bang, FEAR.  A lot of fear.  I was more aware of feeling anxious and was getting more practice dealing with it.  Here too I was looking for progress, not perfection.  Despite feeling anxious, I would still do things.  I would not let anxiety stop me from doing what I had to do.  I figured everyone felt anxious at times.  I may feel it a bit more, or a tad stronger, but that shouldn’t matter.  I could walk through my fears.  I thought this was dealing with anxiety.  I was able to overcome the anxiety, but never realized I was still feeling a tremendous amount of it.

I was in the middle of making a major life decision.  I was feeling very stressed about this decision. Finally after weighing all options, the decision was made.  The stress was gone.  There was no more anxiety. The knot in my stomach had disappeared. I felt relief.  I almost felt manic.  Manic-like is the only way to describe how I was feeling. Maybe ecstatic is a better word.  I didn’t know at the time, but the anxiety I had been feeling was turning into a monster.  A monster I never saw coming.  I didn’t know that within a week that anxiety would take over. Completely take over.

I have learned a lot from my experience.  Yes, I learned how powerful anxiety can become, but I have learned so much more.  I know how important it is to be able to do the little things.  I can talk.  I can walk.  I can see.  I can drive.  I can write my own name.  I know how easily all of this can be taken away. It was all taken away from me slowly.  It was given back even more slowly. Today, I do more.  I talk more.  I feel more.  I believe more.  The bottom line is I feel gratitude every time I pee by myself.

There isn’t a lot of information about conversion disorder.  I read numerous descriptions of what it was.  Differing ideas on how it’s caused.  I’ve learned it is not as uncommon as one would think.  The one thing I couldn’t find was how to fix it.  Mine went away.  It took time, but it went.  I had a lot of family support.  I would not have gotten through this without them.  I am afraid it may return.  If this whole experience was medication related I have no fear. The problem is solved.  If it was all caused by anxiety, I worry.  I am now very aware always of how my fingers feel at all times.  I think about whether I can feel myself swallow or not.  I had a brief experience where I felt disconnected from my body. I immediately realized I was feeling anxious.

I  took a deep breath, said  “LIFE, it happens” and went on with my day.

I almost forgot.  The dog putting his head on my foot was important to my beagle.  When I got home that day all he cared about was the fact that my foot didn’t smell like it should.  It is the little things in life that really matter.  Ask a dog.