A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Doing Better

Thanks Christina for being concerned about me. I’m doing better now. I increased my Abilify by a quarter tablet. I did it without consulting my psychiatrist because I felt self conscious but I will call him tomorrow and let him know. I wish I knew him better but our relationship is pretty superficial. I see him for about 10 minutes every three months basically in order to get new prescriptions. He’s the only psychiatrist I’ve ever had. In fact, he’s the one who diagnosed me when I was in the hospital overnight in 1998. He’s a short but dapper looking Indian man, polite but firm and sometimes I can’t understand what he’s saying because of his accent. Before I got insurance he was very generous about giving me free samples of Zyprexa and Risperdal and I was grateful to him for it. My impression of him is that he knows his stuff but I don’t really know him. All I know is that his wife is also a doctor and that he has a son who is a senior in high school and was a key player on the high school soccer team coached by my friend Richard. I also know he is one of the few psychiatrists in this area and that he travels to several towns each week. Richard says Dr. N. is a workaholic and he might very well be but I don’t really know. Still I wish it was my therapist who did the prescribing of medicine for me because she’s the one who actually knows me and my story.

When I started experiencing some psychotic symptoms right around Thanksgiving, what I really needed was a support group to go to but there are none close by. In fact, I’ve never been to a support group specifically for mental illness since I became psychotic over nine years ago. The closest I’ve come is Al-Anon but that’s only a partial fit. This is because I live in a poor, rural area. And now my anxiety has become bad enough that I don’t want to drive at night which means I’ve stopped going to Al-Anon. I realized that I will have to move to some city/town with public transportation, good therapists, support groups for mental illness and possible job opportunities. I’ve started doing some research online and so far I’ve found two possible places but moving is something that I know won’t happen for 2-4 years. And I need a support group now. I’ve written about beginning a support group before but never got motivated enough to actually start the process. Ideally, I would have personal experience with a NAMI support group and then get training from them to start a new group but then if I had access to a support group in the first place I wouldn’t need to start a new group.

I really believe that a support group in my town would benefit not only my town and the schools here, but this general area. Yes, I think it’s a great idea but can I be the instigator? I’ve picked out where I’d like the meeting to be but I’d have to get permission from the local minister. I got her email address online and I’m planning to contact her after New Year’s Day. I’ll have to sell my point to her which is no mean feat for a recluse. And part of selling my point is telling her my story and then meeting with her.

This Fall I learned that at least one student here has been hearing voices. I also was very saddened to hear that a teacher committed suicide by jumping into Niagara Falls. A simple support group could help lessen people’s suffering and might have prevented that teacher’s death. But I have to be willing to not only ask for help but to follow through and put myself out there. And I feel shy and afraid to do it but if I’m going to be here for a couple more years I’m going to have to at least try mainly because I need the help to remain stable and recovering. I can’t keep up this self-isolation, it’s just not healthy and I know it and it’s just too easy to do it living where I live.

Speaking about self-isolation, I cancelled my trip to visit my parents in Florida for the holidays, so I’ll be on my own for about a month (my brother’s staying with them till mid January) and without a therapist till the end of January (it’s her mid term break). Why did I cancel? Mainly because I felt I couldn’t leave my cats alone for two weeks, especially the oldest one who is around 17. I should have realized this early and adjusted my plans to visit my parents for one week instead of two but I didn’t. Then I began feeling more psychotic and anxious and just wanted to stay home this year. My parents were not happy when I told them. For one thing, I don’t get to see them that often and for another thing, they don’t like the idea of me being alone for Christmas. But they’ve resigned themselves to it and I will go visit them in March for my mother’s 80th birthday.

Since I raised the anti-psychotic I’ve been feeling a lot better. Being alone isn’t getting me down right now. We had some really bad weather but it didn’t hit us as badly as some other places. I was expecting two feet of snow, a blizzard, but got more freezing snow and Richard came and snow blowed my driveway. He came inside afterwards and had a beer and we talked. That was real nice because I haven’t talked to him for a while and I do like him a lot. He’s always been kind to me and a really good friend to my brother. He and his wife have left an open invitation to dinner in the next couple of weeks. I really should go but my instinct is, as usual, to stay home. But, I’ll see, I might change my mind. I baked Richard a bunch of chocolate chip cookies because he said he prefers people to cook for him than to buy him presents, but I would like to make a spinach lasagna for him using Edam cheese, ricotta and parmesan. I used to have the recipe but I think I can figure it out.

Now, to get myself out of the house this week. I did some online shopping for my family and they should be getting those presents in the next few days but I’d still like to do some shopping for Richard’s family. I’d like to send something to Pam and J.P. (J.P. where are you? how are you?).

I’ve been listening to my old songs from 1995 to 1998 and writing down the words. I joined a song writing forum online but haven’t yet posted a song for a critique. Time to go back there. And I’ve been playing guitar and singing. I’m gradually improving. I have this one song I wrote about Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and I keep going back to it but it’s kind of a mess. The rhymes are a bit off though they sing okay and the music is too repetitive but I have to do something with it. Actually, many of my songs are just fragments of a song and need reworking, but I’m more connected to them than I have been in a while.

I hope all of you have been doing well, staying safe and relatively happy. I’d love to hear from you.

(106 days without a cigarette.)