This life saving thing is getting old…

So I really need to learn a few things…

Let’s face it, we are all aging, literally every second on of our lives. Some of us embrace it, some of us use it as an excuse to succeed or fail.

I like to think I have chosen the former, but lately it feels like the latter. I am so burned out, beyond repair… I’m getting excellent grades, for the most part, but I am stressed all the time, having difficulty sleeping, not holding food down, having memory loss that is annoying me so much right now. I am slurring my words… SOBER!

This isn’t a complaint…

This is a confession: I am stuck. Stuck in an environment where I don’t feel safe. Phoning my doctor, with no response, wishing I had something else… Anything but what I have been dealing with for the last 16 years. My life has been described by the DSM, for the better part of my life, and I’d rather it didn’t. I am trying to be authentically me, yet someone always has a bone to pick… A zit to pop so to speak, something they don’t like about me they want to rub in my face. Guess what, none of us are perfect. I am many things, but the worst of them all is NAIVE. I trust too easily, I give everyone the benefit of the doubt, I work so hard making everyone happy, and guess what?

I’m not.

I’m devastated that I would rather die or move and quit my job. Neither of those is a good decision, but if you ask my mind, it’ll tell you differently. I am intelligent, or at least my grades would tell you that, and yet it always gets interpreted as “book smart”, by people who haven’t read enough books!

Guess what, my new goal is to stop hate… Oh I do a pretty good job at stopping it towards others, but myself? Hmm… when’s the last time you believed a compliment? Well, most people can say, the last time I received one. I can say I get them all the time, but there’s a thing called lying and it exists. For me, life hasn’t been exactly handed to me. I was given life, but have wanted to throw it away a few too many times. I have moved across a province, trying to find peace, and guess what… If it isn’t a mindset, darkness will follow you wherever you go.

This is merely food for thought…

This is my reality, don’t make it yours.

Maria

A challenge to stay grounded…

I find that lately, my anxiety is once again my biggest demon. It was the very first symptom I experienced from the time I was a little girl. I would lay awake at night worrying about things that I can’t even place anymore because it was so long ago.The thing is, when you’re a child, especially one growing up in the early 90s, there was no one observing your worries. I didn’t know that other children didn’t experience these thought patterns. My parents never felt like there was anything to pick up on, but once they did everything started to make sense.

This introduction was a little more lengthy than anticipated but in order to make the most of a late Saturday night, I felt that it was necessary.

I’m about to disclose something that I don’t really want to advertise, but when I injured my arm at work, I was desperate for pain relief and the medication I was prescribed was not helping and made me vomit. My go-to over the counter pain med, Ibuprofen was also useless. This led me to a desperate search for pain relief between the expensive heating pad, the ice pack and “rest” that I wasn’t even able to get because I got super sick on top of being hurt. I told my boyfriend late one night, after having been high on an injection of a pain killer in the hospital the night before, that I wanted to try something natural.

This led me to my experience smoking marijuana. Yes, it’s legal it Canada now, and it took me nearly 28 years to try it, but the funny thing was, it didn’t only help my pain, but also cleared my mind…

My boyfriend loves to poke fun at me, because I am an easy target in a lot of ways, well I can’t remember the conversation exactly, my memory is never going to be my strong suit, but he said something to poke fun and after taking only a few puffs of my first joint, I immediately had a comeback. It took him right off guard and he laughed and was proud that I came up with a witty response instantly. What I told him next, is that for the first time in my life, I felt like I could think clearly… My mind wasn’t racing and going a million miles a minute. I was able to process his words and respond without my social anxiety getting the best of me. Yes, I do still experience social anxiety with loved ones, and sometimes it’s those I am closest to that I can have the most difficulty communicating with. Anyway, that was an unnecessary aside, but the point of the matter is smoking “weed” actually helped me.

Now to the main point of this post, because I am only smoking a little bit on the weekend, I’m treating this like I do alcohol, but even more strictly, as I am not completely aware of how I could react at any given moment with a new “drug” in my system, even if it is natural. I have another birthday this month, I’m approaching the end of my 20s everyday, and I decided that this month I am going to challenge myself to not only be accountable to a healthy lifestyle when it comes to eating right and exercising, two things I am mostly on top of, but also taking time to spend some time alone, with my head out of my textbooks. Spending time with my dog, writing in my journal, watching movies, baking, basically doing anything that I feel like I don’t have the “time” to do. We always have time, taking care of myself needs to be a priority, because working in a healthcare profession full time, going to school, taking care of a dog, and living with mental illness is not an easy feat. But these are all things I manage well, about 90% of the time. My problem is I am way too hard on myself and it is SO DANGEROUS! I am constantly sabotaging myself in my own mind and thinking the worst about everything. If I spent half as much time doing anything as much as I worry, I would be an expert at whatever that may be. I am an expert at worrying, but that’s not what I want to be known for.

I want people who meet me, or who used to know, or who are yet to meet me, to know that I live each and everyday with passion with helping others, that I love animals, that I am beginning to truly love myself after almost 28 years of being unsure. Most of all, I want to be known for being kind, and accepting of others, because I have known too many people who were not so kind or accepting of me.

I would say that this late Saturday night reflection/ wee hours of Sunday morning thought, has been very helpful for me, because it is helping me realize that I can take the judgment away from myself for trying something new, and still taboo. I can enjoy a few puffs of a joint, just as I can enjoy a glass of wine, because they are both ok.

Thanks for reading the inner workings of my brain…

Maria

Living in the land of no selfies

Well…

I’m going to start by saying what my sister just finished telling me: “nerve damage is no joke!”

I am hurt, but not only hurt but discouraged. Disappointed and scared, that the damage may be permanent. When your ADLs are so affected that you don’t care about makeup or brushed hair as long as you can still shower, you know it’s bad. I am a person who likes to take pride in their appearance. I went into work in the easiest outfit I could put on yesterday and with hair that looked pretty pathetic, but still got a compliment.

The fact of the matter is I am not in good shape… I have a major injury in my right arm, the non dominant one thank goodness… I am taking pain medication that wreaks havoc on my stomach and makes me drowsier than any antipsychotic. My boyfriend allowed me to stay here because I was incapable of driving home last night. I have developed flu like symptoms and spent 80% of the night repositioning my body so I could breathe.

From psychosis to nerve damage in under a month I feel like this is some kind of sign that I need to take it easy. Relax and take this time off to recuperate, I’m sorry but a week off sick sounds excruciatingly painful to my ego. That’s really all it is. It comes down to this pride I need to tone down I guess.

I am only ending this here because the pain of these motions in my hands is about to make me pass out.

Until next time,

Maria (the injured, also known as stubborn!)

Dying to write, or writing to save my life…

It’s been a rough start to the year and it’s only the beginning of February.

Starting the semester and the year with auditory hallucinations isn’t something I’d wish only anyone. Yet, that is my reality. After nearly seven years in the clear, I experienced psychosis. What the hell was that all about? I’m going to start off by giving myself a pat on the back for being stubborn, going to work through all this, missing a mere 4 hours when I was super acute, because I had a migraine so bad from doubling my one antipsychotics, the doctor’s orders… that I felt like I was going to faint. I was dizzy and weak, tuning out voices that weren’t there and constantly engaging people in real conversations because I was so afraid to let my mind wander and listen to the soundtrack of my brain. Now here were are four weeks later and I am not back to “normal” I am still constantly having pain-killer resistant migraines although my med was scaled back to a mid dose of what it was for several years. I am beyond forgetful, and living off of several cups of coffee to stay awake in the middle of the afternoon. My best friend told me she’s proud of me but with more words. Random people I haven’t seen since high school are calling me inspiring when I post of my struggles on instagram. I am succeeding at life in a lot of ways, but I am also suffering.

I am longing for a time when I could have a single drink on a Friday night and not projectile vomit! I am longing for a day where I don’t feel like I’m in a fog from my medication, where my bowels actually function and I can metabolize food without nausea, constipation, horrible gas, diarrhea, every embarrassing thing you can think of! I am longing for a friend, such as the elderly lady I befriended in the hospital, in the summer of 2012, the last time I hallucinated! I am longing for simplicity of drinking apple juice with ginger ale in the hospital in the 9th and 11th grades thinking it was the best “punch” in the world. These experiences that I am missing prove that I am just as ill as I was back then, but forcing myself to cope, because letting myself go down the slippery slope of depression from having experienced psychosis again is not the way to live!

But… if I am being honest, I am depressed with the situation, I feel hopeless and fearful that my life is not a mere rapid cycling mood swings from Bipolar disorder, or major anxiety that interferes with it, but also PSYCHOSIS. Yes, psychosis may have hidden itself like the one sock that gets lost in the dryer, or the last mosquito of the summer that bites you in October, but it came back with a vengeance and took my back to a darker place in my life that has led me to wish I was in a safe space like a hospital, but not as an employee, but as a patient. Being as poster child for severe psychiatric disorders was not a fun way to grow up, but now that I am an adult, I find that I live vicariously through the stories of those who had it a little easier. The ones who experimented with drugs to experience things I did naturally. I can’t even imagine taken a hallucinogen because hallucinations are perhaps the scariest symptom I have ever encountered. To each their own, but when you have had these experiences without the use of drugs, you cannot imagine why anyone would want to simulate these feelings.

I do my best to understand people, but sometimes I wish I knew someone who had the patience to understand me. My boyfriend told me last night, not obviously thinking of the consequences of his words, that if I actually went into the local dive bar that I am so deathly afraid of, I wouldn’t have to worry about anything bad happening to me because I would say something so frightening about my life that everyone would stay away from me. This kind of ignorant comment makes me realize how backwards society still is. If people are AFRAID of disclosure mental illness, then we have so far to go. When you hear something like that from a loved one you truly understand how alone you are. No statistic of the rarity of my diagnoses can speak louder than an ignorant comment like that.

Yes I love my boyfriend without a doubt and he has stuck by me for two years of some pretty quote on quotes crazy things, but maybe drunken words are sober thoughts… Maybe he really does believe that I am someone people would fear because of a lack of empathy or understanding. Maybe I should keep my mouth shut about my past and present struggles, or MAYBE I should do the exact opposite and prove that people like me aren’t something to fear, but living breathing members of society who have a purpose too! I have never felt stripped of my dignity so much as I did last night, but as he sleeps off his hangover and I write of my frustrations I know that those words were not with a hurtful intent. They were simply stating that maybe this small town is not ready to face the ugly truth about reality. Maybe this town needs psychiatric beds to truly bring mental health to the forefront of it. I now know that I am very lucky to have grown up near a large city, where there are specialists on every corner, because had I grown up here I may not have been so lucky.

They’re Back… let’s be REAL for a Moment

Sometimes you might ask yourself, why me? And honestly last night I broke down with my boyfriend and did! I am in a lot of agony right now you could say, and today my headache is not due to stress or well, actually let’s be honest it is. Unwanted stress of the lows of having a brain that will not cooperate lately… here’s some dark poetry for the curious soul…

7 years of Freedom they chanted in my head, as I laid afraid and restless in my bed

Schizophrenia was a mistake, but shchizo-affective, that’s the pill we will take

You thought now that you were living your career dreams that you wouldn’t lose your independence, your ability to speak

“Answer us in public, we dare you”

I think to myself I have to keep myself together, crazy I am not! Ok, let’s slow down and focus on that thought, you have the power to meditate, try that, why not?

Double the dose of your least favourite antipsychotic, it’s the doctor’s orders…

Why hello brain fog of drowsiness it’s been a while… here’s a migraine to add to your grief…

I count down the hours until I can leave, but work is important, I must not miss a minute.

You know you are sick, treat this as nothing else.

Maria, hold on and listen to YOURSELF!

Let me just give myself a pat on the back for a minute, because my ability to focus for this amount of time to write a dark piece of original poetry for the first time in years, is actually a success! I am hurting with every ounce of my brain, and am finally going to take a deep breath and take some ibuprofen for my headache that has lasted all day, but leaving work at noon because of auditory Hallucinations IS NOT a crime. I did everything right, I muscled through two full days of hell with this happening at work, I can definitely take on tomorrow, if I have a good sleep tonight.

So thank you Maria from 2012, for not dying when you OD’d because those voices didn’t kill you then, they certainly won’t stand a chance nearly seven years down the road!

New Year, Same Content Me…

The past week was full of the annual festivities and New Years Shenanigans and I had a very ordinary week. I worked on the 31st, left at lunch because I felt sick, and for the record this damn chronic tonsil thing I get at least twice each flu season can go take a hike, to put it gently…

Tuesday I slept in after going to bed far too late in the wee hours that morning for a person feeling sick! (Thank goodness I never work STAT holidays!) Then followed a fairly standard Wednesday, Thursday and Friday! I felt very proud of myself on Thursday, when I faced my fears of Sensory Stimulation programs and managed to be very effective on my own! Big win at life there!

Friday, well… it was a quiet afternoon as it usually is, and I often spend the better part of Friday spending time with as many residents one on one before the weekend. Just before I left work, I was very upset by a comment a fellow employee of the hospital pitched in about my personal life, but I’m going to not dwell on that anymore.

Now this brings me to today, well technically yesterday if we’re counting by hours, but Saturday January 5th, was a day I had been planning since the beginning of December. It was what was supposed to be my first Girls’ Night hosted by myself in my new home with Icarus! Well… let’s just say that my perfectly timed shrimp cocktail and two varieties of chicken wings which required different oven temperatures and cook times, were taken out of the oven possibly a month too early, because not a single soul was able to make it. So I did what any socially anxious person would do, I cried only a little, texted those who really have my back, laid out the food as if everyone had arrived, and picked at what I wanted to eat, with a glass of wine in tow. You could say I was a little bit let down, and my little wrapped party favours with hand written post it messages were something I felt like throwing in the trash, but when I spoke to my sister, a few of my friends, and also my boyfriend; I realized that shit happens. Sometimes we plan a party, spend way too much money on food and other items, (including pet safe ice melt salt I will add!) and we have to shed a couple tears and spend time with the ones who will do their best not to let us down…

I will not name names of those who made me feel much better tonight, aside from Icarus, because he gave me the hugs and kisses I needed when my boyfriend couldn’t because he was home sick. It was my last Saturday before school starts up again, and it certainly wasn’t wasted!

Signing off, for hopefully less time tonight,

Maria

Letter to the girl I once was

Dear Maria,

One day you will wake up and think your life is finally over. You will look in the mirror and not even recognize the eyes gazing back at you. You will feel like you are walking through life without even stopping to take things in. Your mind will slow down to the point that you wonder if it even works anymore. The meds you take will feel so potent that you won’t even have the energy to make it through your day. Trying to find the silver lining in life will drive you mad. Then after all that suffering, you will just want to give up.

You must not give up. Giving up is what sent you to the hospital many a time before. There is always an opportunity to happiness at the end of every darkened day. This is not your year to die, and if you’re lucky neither will the next ten.

Wishing for a natural death, so it doesn’t have to be self-inflicted, is just as harmful as the idea playing in your mind about how you would leave. Leave this world, your loved ones, and all the pain of the past. Listen to the voice inside your head, how ever weak it may be; telling you to hold on once more. You are loved more than you know, even if you don’t believe it right now.

Love,

The woman you have become.

What do we do when we can’t sleep? Well, I write…

Today was a long busy day at work, as usual and I was looking forward to spending a night snuggled up to a movie. That didn’t happen, but I had a much better night, as I took my baby home. No, I’m not talking about a child, probably will never have kids. Different rant for a different time.

I took home Icarus! Yes, finally after a year of living with my boyfriend and his dad, I took him home to mama’s new place!! Ok I’m referring to myself as a mother, that is a bit odd, however, I love this dog with all my heart. I have also been closer to animals than humans, and now I have my very own pet therapist, Dr. Icarus PrPich!

Oh my…

My humour is horrible.

Anyway, I brought the little monster home in the cold and he was scared of the stairs, as usual with stairs. So I lifted him up after the second step the first go round to get him and I in from the cold. Things went quite well for the two of us, I can go to the bathroom without him wrecking things, so far…

Also, he loves all the wonderful windows he has to look out of that are his height! His bed is plopped right in the middle of the living room currently, but he has since woken up and found a spot, under my Christmas tree on a warm blanket. I did all my decorating last night after work, went a little crazy, but it was all to have it done, before I took the little guy home. He would have made decorating a lot longer and it would have involved some broken ornaments too.

The year and a half of misery in my apartment has come to a close and it’s been over two weeks since I’ve been in the new place, however I have only had two weekends to enjoy it so far, including this one. I think this next year I am going to try and stay in High Prairie a little more often. Make some friends around town, and actually have people to hang out with at some of my favourite little places in town, like Fresh Inspirations or Park Theatre. I also want to go to the skating rink in Joussard, as I have yet to find an outdoor rink in town. Christopher will have to coach me on the skating thing, he will get a kick out of his girlfriend who will be looking a lot like Bambi, considering I haven’t skated in over 2 years, may even 3! Not to mention the fact that I wasn’t the best skater to begin with! Another goal I have once school wraps up on the 30th, is to take more time for leisure. I may sound like a broken record on this, but as a TR professional, I really struggle with finding a balance in my own life when it comes to enjoying myself, outside of work and school obligations.

I am very passionate about my job, and advancing my career, but I also need to remember to take care of myself. Working full time and going to school is not easy, particularly with mental health issues, and I should know by now, that a lack of self care, is my worst nightmare!

I guess writing was what I needed to do, to wind down before bed, because now that I have I am finally tired; naturally. I haven’t taken my medication yet because it is Friday and I wanted to be alert, but with the puggy all cozy and snoring next to me, I believe it is time for me join him, but tonight I think I’m going to opt for the couch, just because my bedroom can be pretty draft-y.

Well, I guess I should do, what a compliant patient does, and take my medication. 3-4 hrs before bed is bullshit tonight, because I’ll be out within 20 minutes after the long day I’ve had! I never miss a dose, but taking it on time was a habit I broke when the semester started, which led me to where I am today. Stressed out, exhausted and hypo-manic to boot. Thank goodness the latter is slowly going away.

Good night world,

Hope you’ve had a good Friday, because it’s been Saturday here for two hours and I am off to bed!

Well 1:30 is the new 10 I guess…

Another late night, I swear I need to get my sleep schedule back on track. So much going on right now I can’t even begin to list all the things that are haunting my brain at this hour. Work in 7 hours and I am once again wide awake. The worst part about the whole thing is I can’t even remember taking my meds tonight. Part of me believes I did, but the logical side of me worries that I didn’t. May be time to start using my grandma’s pill box again. How old am I really? Certainly not the age on my drivers license because I feel horrible. I told Christopher today in between laughs, that dating me is like being with an 80 year old with dementia. I am constantly repeating myself but half the time I’m unaware. My memory always seems to be the first thing to go when I’m short on sleep. Then come the tears, and the giggles, at things that aren’t remotely funny. Reminds me of all-nighter sleepovers from my childhood and early teens. I want to take something to help me sleep, but I’m so sensitive to certain meds, that I’ll probably be half asleep for the first 3 hours of my shift like I have been in the past. Makeup over dark circles is becoming my best friend. Hopefully I can catch up on some sleep tomorrow and on the weekend. Thinking about it now, it’s Thursday technically and I have a busy day ahead of me. So much to do, and right now it feels like I’m counting down hours I have left in a day to go to bed at a decent time and when that time comes I’m wide awake from using my brain so much. Wide awake, yes, but physically exhausted. This feeling is hard to describe, a mix between anxiety and most likely hypomania. A deadly combination when you want to be productive. Feels like I can do anything, but time is wasted overthinking and before I know it I’ve been trying to eat supper, text a friend, read my textbook and clean my apartment for hours and haven’t accomplished any of it. I slow down, finish one thing at a time and just when I think I’ve got it figured out I begin to doubt myself: is my alarm clock set, I check at least ten times knowing that it is, but still not positive. Do I have clothes ready for tomorrow? Do they need to be ironed? Can I get away with not ironing these pants? Then I think about work, I have things to go over with my supervisor but he’s been extra busy and I have programs to run. Can I spare a minute after this program? Yes I can, ok but now he is in a meeting. Now back downstairs I run. There’s no wonder I’m crushing my step goals almost every day I’m constantly running around trying to get everything done according to schedule and have time to plan. Which works fine 3 days a week, but when I’m not working alone I can’t plan because my coworker relies on me. It’s a balancing act I am used to, but it’s far more difficult when I’m running on fumes…

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