‘The Jealous Are Troublesome To Others, But Torment To Themselves.’ William Penn

When your world feels small and your life seems shitty, and you see the people around you…people you love or like a whole lot…living their lives, happy and maybe not perfect but pretty damn good

How do you cope with that twitch of jealousy in your heart?

The one you don’t want to experience

And the one that it pains you to admit to

How do you feel happy for them…

And still long for your own

Without that green-eyed monster taking up permanent residence in your heart?

-Asking for a friend 😳

Advertisements

‘Putting up with means withdrawing from panic in panic; adding panic to panic, hoping that panic will go away quickly and not come back; it means avoiding people and places that bring on panic so that one’s horizon becomes narrower and narrower unit it is finally bounded by the front gate…It means continued illness.’ Dr. Claire Weekes

I’m feeling frustrated today

I consider myself a pretty smart person

Also someone who is more self aware than the average person

I’m well versed in all things anxiety and panic related

I feel like I graduated with a masters in this shit

I can recite all the therapy talk

More so

I actually believe in what I’m saying

I am perfectly aware that nothing worse than the panic attack itself, will happen to me

And yet

Every morning I wake up, heart pounding, mind racing

In fear of the next panic attack

Those same panic attacks I’ve been having for over two decades

Those same panic attacks in which what I’m most afraid of, does not come true

In fact

It never comes true

So what the fuck is the problem?

I think my own fear is greater than my knowledge

So I give in

Day after day

Even with the meds I obediently take

I watch life pass me by

Feeling less and less like it’s even my life that I’m missing out on

That’s how far out of reach things like dinner out or going to my sisters house seem

I can’t seem to stop from being hard on myself

I feel like yelling at myself:

AFTER ALL OF THIS, WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU STILL NOT GET?!

HOW MUCH MORE TIME WILL YOU WASTE BEFORE YOU FINALLY MOVE ON?!’

I’m sitting here shaking my head

Because, after everything

And I still don’t have the answers to any of that

A little more bent, still not broken

I’ve come a long way from those scary nights when I was too consumed with my own troubling thoughts to sleep

And those seemingly endless days where it felt like I was experiencing unrelenting panic attacks

2019 didn’t start off the way I had hoped

But in the last two months, I’ve been unapologetically selfish

I’ve focused on little else but getting myself healthy

My medication seems to be evening itself out

I’ve reduced my Ativan intake by half

I’ve started seeing a psychologist and am going to an info session held at a local hospital for an upcoming 12 week program for people to learn to cope with anxiety and depression

I’m living part-time with my parents and going home almost every day during the week to let out the dogs and practice my ‘exposures’

(‘…exposure therapy is a process for reducing fear and anxiety responses…a person is gradually exposed to a feared situation, learning to become less sensitive over time.’)

My fear is the dreaded feeling of having another panic attack

So that means I need to put myself in situations where I particularly anxious

For example, being alone or going to stores or other places by myself

It’s still very hard for me to understand why things turned out the way they did

I did everything you’re supposed to do

I reached out to my psychiatrist and family doctor about my intense apprehension over withdrawing from Paxil

I asked about inpatient facilities

During the crisis period, I went to hospitals, crisis centres and my own psychiatrist

I’m upset over the way things were handled

From my concerns not being taken seriously to the lack of care from the hospitals and most of all

That I feel like I did this to myself

And it was all for nothing

You know, I was speaking to my mom about going through tough times

She said it would be better if you knew there was a lesson of some sort you could take away from all of this

But I can’t for the life of me, find any valid takeaway from this experience, that I didn’t already know

Instead, I’m left feeling dissatisfied with the current mental healthcare system and most of all…

I feel defeated

Once again

By something that had and continues to have way too much impact on my life

And I’m tired of it

Tired of it’s overwhelming presence throughout my entire life

Sick of the powerful it yields so easily over me

Frustrated that the only way to move forward is to accept it and learn how to ride the wave of panic

So here I am

Sick and tired

Frustrated

But still riding the panic wave…

And trying to just live

‘Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.’ Dr. Seuss

It’s hard to actually see your own recovery

Unlike your relapse

Which you can replay without hesitation in your mind

Recovery is different

It’s like one day you’re a total fucking basket case

And then you blink your eyes and you’re you again

Maybe if you’re like me

You started to experience brief moments of you again

So you hoped and wished that it meant you were finally coming back

And then one day

Visiting your own condo

You instinctually know

Something is different

Something has changed

The me that was gone

The me that I was so sure I’d lost

That me came back

Now

Looking at her in the mirror

It’s so hard to imagine how badly things had gotten

How far away she seemed

How trapped in her own mind she’d become

And now

Here she is

Standing before me

Looking back at me

She’s far from perfect

Not even close to almost

And yet I’ve never been happier to see my own reflection staring back at me

‘Everybody Is A Book Of Blood; Wherever We’re Opened, We’re Red.’ Clive Barker

Today sucked

Hard

I arranged to have one of the Bayshore nurses come to my parents house to do my monthly bloodwork

Since I skipped last month

I was nervous before the day started

But I went with it

The nurse got here

I did the same old pee in the plastic cup song and dance

And then sat in a recliner to get it over with

I told her I usually have it taken from my hand

And that I have anxiety related to it

She was kind and all that

I didn’t have my rubber ball to pump to get the vein ready and blood flowing

But I tried other methods

She got the vein on the first try

I breathed a sigh of a relief

After the initial painful puncture

And then…

No blood

No blood came out

She tried a few times to get it flowing

Nada

She tried a different vein on the same hand

I pumped my hand manically

She got the vein

And still

No blood

I asked her to try my other hand

I was pretty shaky, sweaty and anxious at this point

She inserted the needle

And

No fucking blood

She said

I literally have the needle in your vein and nothing is coming out

We gave up

She recommended I try to go to my regular lab and see my usual homegirl

But of course

Because of my panic and near agoraphobia

I had been trying to avoid that

She left

With her empty vials

Apologies

Used needles

And unfulfilled lab requisition

I was left with my urine sample sitting on my mother’s coffee table in her living room

There wasn’t any point in sending it in without the blood

Three track marks and I’m sure ugly bruises to follow

I pulled my knees up and just started sobbing

I broke my no-crying-for-three-days record

Feeling sorry for myself

Everything is always so damn hard

Nothing seems to come easy

And yet

After all of that

I didn’t have a panic attack

Even pre crisis

A day like today would have likely made me have a panic attack

But today

Through the punctures, the pain, the discomfort, the crumbled hope and the anxiety

I didn’t have a panic attack

That’s my silver lining on this shit-tastic day

‘Only In The Darkness Can You See The Stars.’ Martin Luther King Jr

Its been three weeks since I slept in my own bed

It’s been one month since I went to the first emerge

It’s been four weeks and two days since I spent a night in a crisis centre

It’s been four weeks and one day since I went to the emerge in Collingwood

It’s been three weeks and two days since I sat in my neuro psychiatrists office crying and begging for help

It’s been three weeks less a day that I went back on 40 mg of Paxil

It’s been three weeks of good days, bad days and horrible days

Its been one day since I saw my neuro psychiatrist again and he upped my dosage to 50mg of Paxil to get me through this ‘crisis’

It’s been one day since he told me there was a significant gap in the mental health system which is why my wait for OHIP covered CBT is taking so long

Its been one day since he gave me the info of a private clinic

Its been thirteen hours since I started my new dose

It’s been thirteen hours with my stomach in knots

It’s been thirteen hours of fears, what if’s and so much more hope than I ever thought I had

One day at a time never felt quite so long

I know I’m not patient

But I’ll keep waiting if it means I get even a small fraction of a happy ending

I’ll keep waiting if it means that the last month hasn’t been in vain

I’ll wait as long as I can keep finding shards of light in the darkness

I’ll wait even it’s just a flicker

I can’t help but worry

I can’t help but wonder how long the world will wait for me…

Alright so ‘Let’s Talk.’

While I’m glad to see so many friends and family supporting Bell’s ‘Let’s Talk’ campaign to raise awareness for mental health, I think it’s long overdue time to get real about fact that while awareness is helpful in de-stigmatizing mental illness. It does not fix a very broken healthcare system. Yes, I know the rhetoric. Canada is so great, free healthcare and all that. But <and this is just my opinion> it’s great when you are for the most part a ‘healthy’ person. For the rest of us, navigating the healthcare system with a chronic illness like Multiple Sclerosis is, at the best of times, tricky and underwhelming. However, when you throw mental illness into the mix, it becomes glaringly apparent just how lacklustre our services really are. Firstly, when a person is in crisis, you do what you’ve been taught your entire life to do…which is to seek help. You go to the emerge. Where you are triaged based on need.

Which I understand as the most serious cases being seen first.

So in my last experience, I waited and waited and waited. In active crisis. Which for me, meant I felt panicked and somewhat hysterical.

And they put me to wait in a loud, bright, bustling waiting area for over 5 hours until I approached a nurse and through sobs told her I needed help. She moved me to a stretcher in a quieter hallway. I waited and waited and waited.

After a few more hours, I was seen by a crisis psychiatric nurse and a psychiatrist. I was ultimately sent home (with no follow up) because the psychiatrist didn’t want to ‘step on’ the toes of my illustrious neuro psychiatrist.

Clearly, my crisis had not ended. I ended up seeking help twice more <once through a crisis centre and once more at a different emerge>.

So let’s stop here for a minute.

What could be changed to keep in line with the current fad of progressive mental health Canada seems keen to have?

1. Upon first triage, when I explained that I was experiencing panic attacks and was terrified there are a few different ways that could have been handled:

Option A. A triage system that recognizes mental health. My vitals could still have been taken and when it was apparent that my panic attack was the primary reason for my visit, I could have been triaged to a mental health waiting area. This might look like something on a different floor, with room for privacy and staffed by both nurses and psychiatric nurses. I could have had the psychiatric nurse assess me and then had a psychiatrist who does the rounds discuss with the nurse what the best course of treatment would be. I would not have a psychiatrist who cared more about her career connections than my crisis.

Option B. Upon triage, after taking my vitals and confirming that it was in fact most likely a panic attack that was my primary reason for visiting. I could have been provided with crisis line information and/or a referral to a mobile crisis team or something similar. In my own work experience, I have used a mobile crisis team to come to a school I was at with a young man who needed psychiatric assistance. Often with anxiety disorders, talking to someone who has the tools to walk you through a crisis, is all you need at that moment.

Option C. Would require intensive training for all frontline staff including triage nurses to emergency room nurses to emergency room doctors and so on. I would imagine this option would be highly unlikely. However, it would be helpful for such staff to be experienced in noticing the signs and symptoms of various mental illnesses and being knowledgeable with basic tools such as belly breathing. Furthermore at the point of triage, redirecting patients who have a flu or a cold to walk-in clinics would help possibly reducing the amount of people using the emergency room.

Secondly, family doctors generally are not equipped with the resources to handle crisis situations. And in my case, my doctor has something like 1700 patients. So if in my crisis, I had called to get an appointment to at least know there might be relief in sight, it is unlikely that I could get an appointment within the next two weeks. So this appears to be dead end and not a valid or helpful direction.

Thirdly, the saga with my neuro psychiatrist. You remember him right? The one no one would touch me because of?

I was called for a referral that the psychiatric nurse had put in for a short term psychiatrist.

When I spoke to intake, she said they could not see me because of my neuro psychiatrist.

I asked perplexed ‘even if I’m telling you I don’t want to go back and see him?’ You can guess the answer there.

So my neuro psychiatrist. I left voicemails and emails and was lucky that I had an already scheduled appointment with him the week after my emergency room visit. I saw him for less than half an hour, I gave him notes that I took on my ordeal which I’m sure he never read.

He apologized to hear what I had gone through and recommended that the next time I tried to get off Paxil, he would do it inpatient at Sunnybrook.

I think I guffawed and said I’d never try to get off of it again.

He prescribed my original dose of Paxil and some additional Ativan to get me through, told me to call to update in two weeks and sent me on my way.

Oh and my next appointment is in three months time.

While he is a very highly regarded doctor and widely known within the MS community, is he the best person to be treating me? My anxiety and depression were triggered long before my MS appeared. It appears to me that seeing another psychiatrist is near impossible not to mention that all psychiatrists are OHIP covered, so the wait time for a new one would likely be close to a year. In October, my neuro psychiatrist put in a referral for me to do CBT at a hospital close by. The wait time for that is equally lengthy. So I found a private clinic that offers CBT that is not covered by OHIP and am going to see them next week. It’s expensive and not covered by my group benefits.

During this time, I also had my family doctor complete an application for a private inpatient facility that deals with mental illness and would cost approximately 20K for 56 days.There was a wait time, and thankfully during this time, my Paxil increase has kicked in and I am no longer in crisis so I have deferred admission. I do not want to go to a place that costs that amount of money. I am trying to figure this out on my own before they call me to give me a final offer me for admission.

I don’t know where that leaves me.

I don’t know where any of this leaves me.

I don’t know what my future looks like.

Much like half the Canadians who also live with mental illness.

We are left to navigate this scary and overwhelming path on our own.

So maybe it’s time Bell changes it’s campaign from ‘Let’s Talk’ to ‘Let’s Talk About How We Can Do Better’.