Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Starting DBT and Hope

Note: I wrote the first part of this two days ago. And then I changed the dates. And I don't want to change them again. Sooo.

Yesterday I started real DBT. I've been seeing the DBT counselor for awhile, but I started group yesterday. In order to start group, to officially start DBT I had to make a big commitment. Actually I had to agree to three things. I don't remember the second two. But, they were like use skills or call him if I have a crisis or something like that. Like I said I don't remember them at all. But the first stipulation was that I wouldn't kill myself for a year. At first he said six months, (My treatment plan is to stay in this therapy for either six months or a year. And if I have no results we would discuss changing therapies - they would refer me out since they're DBT specialists. Although if I go to grad school on the West Coast I don't know what they'll/I'll do. I'm terrified. I digress.) but then he said if I did it January 21st he'd feel "really shitty," so he made it a year. I said, finally, "I guess," to the stipulations. Making a pact not to kill myself. It was a very hard thing to agree to do. It's so far in the future. But he said as long as I couldn't promise it, I couldn't do group and continue therapy with them any further. Since the counseling center won't take me back, I'd have to go to Columbia Area Mental Health Center which is not the best place to go, and I would have to walk a lot further to get there. So I agreed. So you guys are with me for at least another year. (I know that's over the top - you guys adore me.)

My first group, well, it was difficult. I had a panic attack right away. And I don't really remember what happened. I know we talked about the wise mind. Which I had drilled into me every day at the hospital and PHP. I do remember my homework which was to observe, describe, and participate. And I've already done all those things. So I guess I didn't really procrastinate on it? I didn't fill out the worksheets, but I don't have to I don't think. I just have to talk about it for three minutes. And I wrote it out basically what I'm going to say. So that helps.

Ugh.


In other news. I've decided what I want to do when I "grow up!" I want to go into clinical neuropsychopharmacology. What is that you ask? Well, break it down. "Clinical" I want to be with people and prescribe medication. "Neuro" the brain. "Psycho" mental illness. "Pharmacology" medicine. I want to know what medicine does in the brain and prescribe medicine to people with mental illnesses. Or, for more information go to the neuropsychopharmacology wikipedia page. Here's a YouTube clip from a musical called "Next to Normal" which is about the family dynamics with a mom who has bipolar disorder. The song is called "Who's Crazy/My Psychopharmacologist and I." I recommend the song. It's one of my favorite song from "Next to Normal" which if you haven't seen, you should.

hopefully I'll have people feeling better than this

Also, I've been taking an over the counter diet pill stimulant, which has helped my ideation immensely. So next week we're going to tweak my medications again and see what happens. I actually have hope that this is going to work. And my psychiatrist and I are going to pretend I didn't recommend this two winters ago if it does. If it doesn't, then it doesn't. What do I have to lose? But I have my life to gain.

I know that last post was dark and might have scared a few of you. Well, due to the stimulant I'm feeling much better than that now. And like I said, I actually have hope. Those of you who have known me a while know that I don't hope. I don't have hope. But right now I do. And it's amazing.

I'll let you know how next group goes next week. I might also wait until I get on the actual medication so I can report. So expect a post Fridayish? Except I have a few posts I've written that I've been waiting to post so I might post one of those in between. Anyways, sorry, I'm rambling.

What's your medication story? Here's mine. I've updated today it say dosages. If you have any questions about any psych medication I'm good at those too. Ask away!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

a thread

This post is more depressing and definitely more raw than my other posts. I've been feeling not so great so here it is (trigger warning):

a thread

i stand upon a thread
stretched like a tightrope
waiting for it to break
or for me to slip and fall
down
    down
        down

most are hanging by a thread
waiting for it to snap
i stand on it
waiting for it to break

except i find
that it has already broken
and i am free falling
down
    down
        down

will something catch me?
or will i fall to my death?




Monday, July 13, 2015

School and Mental Illness

Let's just say it's not a happy combination.

Today, while I was having a panic attack, for reasons still unknown to me, the teacher had me come up in front of the class with my "lesbian partner" (we have family groups in my family counseling class) and have a therapy session with him. I didn't have a clue what was going on. I hadn't been paying attention in class due to the crying and panic. And, actually, I've never paid much attention in class anyways. We had our session. I let her (my lesbian partner) answer most of the questions. I just sort of nodded along. I'm not on currently any fast acting anxiety medications. Instead I'm on a long lasting anti-anxiety medication twice a day. For a list of what I'm currently taking check out this post. However that doesn't help when I feel like I'm about to throw up, and I'm having a panic attack.

The worst thing was that the professor knew what was going on. He could see it. He's a counselor himself. He could see me mostly successfully holding back tears, but not completely. He could see the panic in my eyes when I looked at him. The tapping of my foot. But he asked me to do it anyways. I understand that it was in the lesson plan, but still.

Another class I'm taking is Organic Chemistry Two. How's that going? Not well. I got a 30% on my first exam. I've decided to drop the class and take a W (withdraw). But I haven't done it yet, I'm kind of scared to. Also, I feel like a failure doing it. Because I know I can do it. I know I can. I do. If I put in the time. And I just can't seem to do that. Therefore, I can't do the class. I spend too much of my time sleeping and recovering and doing nothing.

My third class is going really well. My professor today told me I made the highest grade in the class on our first exam (a 93%). When I first saw the grade I was disappointed. I thought I could do better. But after finding out it was the highest grade in the class I felt much better. Also, he said there is a very good chance I can do research with him in the fall. Which is exciting because he's a neuroscientist. And working in a neuroscience lab and getting a letter of recommendation from a neuroscience professor is good when applying to PhD programs for neuroscience. As long as I don't have to sacrifice anything. I absolutely refuse to do that. Point blank refuse.

My last two summer classes were Cellular and Molecular Biology and Young Adult Literature which went alright. I got an A in YA Lit and a C in Cellular and Molecular Biology. Which I'm content with. Although I really wanted a B in Cellular and Molecular Biology. As part of YA Lit I wrote two chapters set in the psychiatric emergency room and the children's psychiatric ward, if any of you want to read it. Just send me an email ats cassandra.cassandrascurse@gmail.com or comment below. At this time I do not plan on writing any more of it.

Also, while on the topic of mental illness and school, as many of you know Spring of 2014, I took a medical withdraw. I don't know if I mentioned it in post about it or not. I don't remember. But that was also due to mental illness. So yay mental illness and school. I was unable to attend classes. And couldn't be in Columbia. I needed to be in Charleston. Although, it is interesting that I made it through school last semester (with my best GPA to date!) while missing four non-consecutive weeks of classes due to being in the mental hospital three times plus partial hospitalization.

Are any of you taking summer classes? If so how are they going? How has mental illness affected your school/work/etc. experience?

Friday, June 26, 2015

"Everything is Different the Second Time Around"

I've spent a long time trying to figure out what I want to say in this post. I, for the most part, know who reads this and most of you I don't mind you knowing this. I'm still hesitant though. But, I know that this is related to stigma, and I shouldn't be ashamed of what's going on. As you probably all know, or have figured out I have depression. Pretty severe depression. I have moderate to severe persistent depressive disorder, recurrent severe major depressive disorder, and anxiety disorder unspecified. While that's only three diagnoses, it can be a lot to handle. Despite it all, I am grateful that I do not have it worse.

So, here's what you probably don't know. I've been to a psych ward. I've been in the psych ward a lot this year. Why this year and not before? I couldn't tell you. Maybe I'm getting worse. Maybe I'm accepting that I need help. Maybe I could have ridden it out, like I've always done before, but maybe not. Maybe going in saved my life, or at least a trip or two to the ICU. I don't know. It's hard to say for sure.

I call them part one, part two, and part three. And I might write more about them later. I spent half of February in the psych ward, on two separate occasions. I spent half of March in partial hospitalization, and I spent a week in April in the hospital again. In part three we joked a lot about how I should write a book. After all It's Kind of a Funny Story was written after a much shorter hospital stay. And I have way more experience than that.

The worst part is, my treatment team is not sure what to do with me anymore. I mean they weren't sure what to do with me before I went in all those times, but they thought we could work something out. But now the counseling center at my school says it's unethical to treat me. Because after all I've been through clearly they're not helping. I offered to switch to a new therapist at the counseling center but they say it's not enough. They don't think their level of care is good enough for me because of the hospitalizations and partial hospitalization.

I have started therapy with a new person. He, I guess, is more qualified. He specifically does DBT, dialectal behavioral therapy. I've seen him several times, and I do like him. I guess this therapy is replacing therapy at the counseling center. All I ask is that I can continue to see my psychiatrist, who I adore. In a few weeks I'm going to start a DBT group for two hours per week. I'm pretty nervous about that, but talking in groups is getting easier for me. And later this summer I'm taking a public communication class. Which just thinking about speeds up my heart and makes me want to cry. But as strange as it sounds (to me at least) I am getting better. I'm sure it's all the talking, not only in therapy, but in the groups in the hospital and partial. This has changed since I've written it. Like I said, I've been sitting on this post for months and months. I'm now taking organic chemistry two instead of public communication. But, I still have to take public communication eventually, so I decided to leave that in.

The title of this post comes from the song "You've Got Time" by Regina Spektor. It is, as many of you probably know, the theme song from Orange is the New Black. Which I watch. Just like everyone else who has Netflix and is (hopefully) above 18, which I'm sure stops no one. Despite the triggers it brings up in me, I pushed through it.



I chose that song quote because it accurately sums up my hospital experience. It really is "different" the second time around, especially for me. Part two I even made a friend. Who I still talk to a lot. Part three they called me the welcoming committee. And I wish I could know how my fellow psych patients are doing. I've talked to one person once from part three since I got out.

My dad said it must have been easy to talk to everyone because I felt better than them. My parents know about part three, and ONLY part three and partial, because of insurance reasons. But I told him we were all there for a reason. And I didn't feel better than anyone. And I really didn't. How could I? He then asked my reason and I replied to change meds, which is my story that I'm telling to my parents. And he was like why? And I said because I wasn't doing well. And he asked if I had bad thoughts. And I said yes. So he at least knows that. I hope my parents never find out how close I've been so many times - even this past weekend I had to lock myself out of my room. But as they said in part two "it is what it is." They even had a huge sign that said it in the group room.

Another thing has happened too. This is not something we want to be spread around. So if you know me in real life, please don't tell anyone you know. It is only half my business. My dad left my mom. That's right. My dad left my mom. It is a big shock because they weren't fighting or anything. He told us he's leaving because he wants a romantic relationship, something he and my mom were lacking. My baby sisters have seen him once this week. It's been really hard for all of us.

I'm not sure if I have anything else to say right now. I think I'm going to finally publish this post. I'm open to any questions you have about the hospital visits or my parents or anything else. If you have them leave a comment or email me at cassandra.cassandrascurse@gmail.com. If you get this in an email, just a reminder, do not reply to that email, because I will not receive it. I know a few of you need this reminder. Anyways, as always, thanks for reading.

Did you enjoy this? Subscribe and get these posts delivered to your inbox as soon as they're released.